Friday, March 27, 2015

Indie Impressions - HEKTOR


Now Available on Steam

Developed by Rubycone 

The hallways of a mysteriously decrepit and deranged research facility beckon your escape, but the weakening of your mental state refuses to make navigating your way to freedom an easy task. The voice of a mysterious girl describes to the player acts of unspeakable injustices from within the confines, and your descent into the sanity depleting design of this strange complex leads you on the hunt for more information. Why are you here, what is the purpose of this wretched place, and who is this girl leaving you notes telling of a sketchy employment situation gone horribly afoul?

Hektor is a rare breed of psychological horror gaming, one with impeccable pacing and constant flow. Never feeling slow, never sluggish, tedious or breaking the pace, it keeps you one-hundred-percent on your toes and pressing ahead without the will to ever look back.

The story and the mystery surrounding the fates of the facilities inhabitants is told through the discovery of notes left behind by past workers, and cryptic visions from elements of this bleak environment. The voice acting is fantastically done and part of what keeps the player so immersed in the harrowing events unfolding through the snippets of writings uncovered and a real sense of urgency, confusion and terror can be heard with each increasingly dire development of the story.

Moving through the story of Hektor takes you through a range of odd environments and surreal imagery. Starting with the harsh reality of the trashed and abandoned research complex and slowly evolving into more vibrantly obscured visions of lush red curtains and fancy tiled floors as if you've stepped right into an episode of Twin Peaks, but which of these surroundings are merely a figment of your imagination?

The beautifully orchestrated soundtrack is instantly chilling and ominous, worming its way through your ears and into your mind where you can feel every sharp note of the violin effecting your psyche. The echoing of unnerving metal scrapes in the distance, the buzz and crackle of old and failing light fixtures all work together to create a heavy atmosphere that constantly builds tension only to all explode in your face with every twist of the plot and your pysche.

Hallucinatory visual effects that plague our character creates a chaotic and fittingly confusing effect, and your only solace is the scarce Benzodiazepine pills scattered throughout the facility. This in part is what gives Hektor such a uniquely bizarre and frantic situation for a horror game, and a unique concept not seen since the likes of the legendary Eternal Darkness in terms of how much your mind is being screwed with. The wavy and twisting effect of your ravaged mental state making you feel as though you are losing your vision, causing you to squint and focus your attention on the distortion of the screen even harder until that one disturbing/shocking moment takes you off guard.

Not only does neglecting to take your pills bring about the mind altering hallucinatory effects, but stirs the vengeful and twisted souls of past test subjects of this cruel place. Always ahead of you if you rush and forget to scavenge for pills but never too far behind if you lose your way and slow down, the threat of seeing one of these sanity depleting and terrifying creatures is what drives your carefully paced search for escape and answers.

The random and deliberately confusing nature of the ever-changing hallways around you and the constant transformation of the mysterious facility is an incredibly innovative mechanic for the genre. The straight-forward and almost repetitive nature that plagues most modern horror games gets a much needed spicing up and the cold, gray, lifeless hallways we're so used to from the genre now feel much more alive, more sinister and unpredictable.

Hektor is one of those elusive and unforgettable horror titles that manages to keep me consistently glued to the screen, only to severely regret my undying attention at the harrowing realization that I'm not alone in these dark and desolate hallways. The creepiness is in full force thanks to a genuinely mind-bending atmosphere, nothing ever feels forced and the scares are all derived from the mysterious unknown factors and macabre questions swimming around your mind. Even more impressive is that this elegant and disturbing journey into a twisted facility was hand crafted and coordinated by a team of five very dedicated people working from various locations across the globe.

Amongst the droves of same-y horror titles and their cheap thrills, Hektor stands out as one of the few sublimely twisted experiences with a hallucinatory touch and just the right amount of mindfuckery causing you to question the reality of every last step you took. Where have you really been and what really happened, where are you going and will you ever get there?

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