Review: All Haze Eve

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Oh, adventure game logic. It’s that dangerous reasoning that expects us to throw a shoe at a cat to prevent our death hours later, or steal fur from a cat to make a mustache to match an ID with no mustache. The worst offenders of this practice have been relegated to the annals of gaming history but weird logic still crops up from time to time. All Haze Eve suffers from a mild case of adventure game logic, but gets by on a limited scope that keeps your flailing to a minimum. And when you’re not flailing, it proves to be a unique and charming little Halloween romp.

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Halloween has indeed come around once again, and this time you’ve been invited to a particular part of the neighborhood for a special treat. It won’t exactly be easy to get, though, because all manner of creeps and creatures are out as well. They’re plenty friendly so long as you stick to treats instead of tricks, and you’ll need their help to get past some of the barriers in your way. Those barriers give way to some surprising encounters with skeletons, fish men, and other ominous residents, and the surprises don’t stop when you finally get your promised treat, either.

The surprises are the best part of All Haze Eve, always giving you a reason to press through the next obscure puzzle to see what lies ahead. Right from the start you are deposited onto a barren street, where you’ll find a homeless skeleton, a gruff witch, and a bizarre and unsettling anomaly in space that the game merely refers to as “Something”. You can talk to just about everything in the game, from the tiniest spider to the most imposing gargoyle, and they all have quirky little tidbits to share. The visual style supports this as well, casting the world in smooth grays but highlighting people and creatures with brilliant glowing eyes.

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The puzzles unfortunately don’t follow the same delightful trend, and when they do try to stand out they do so in some inadvisable ways. More often than not, when you encounter a puzzle here it’s not going to be apparent what needs to be done to solve it, and when you find an item it won’t be apparent what it’s used for. Sure, you’ve got some obvious ones like getting down a well or carving a pumpkin, but good luck sussing out what a crack and a broom have to do with getting you past a pair of gargoyles. A lot of your solutions are going to come from picking up everything, and then using everything on everything else. This is only possible because the scope of the game is small enough to accommodate it, so while it’s hardly ideal it’s not a dealbreaker.

You’ll need to contend with some other strange designs, like scrolling through both actions and targets to interact with them or looking around with the arrow keys if you dare to full-screen the game. It’s a first-person adventure with one of the strangest interfaces I’ve ever seen, functional but hardly intuitive. I was able to acclimate to it over the 75 minutes it took to beat the game, and despite my earlier complaint about the puzzles I only got fully stuck once. It’s worth seeing through because the surprises only ramp up until they hit the absurdity of the game’s ending, which I’m sure will leave a smile on your face.

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As a Halloween game this one hits all the right notes, cheerful and macabre when it wants to be, just a little spooky, and weird enough to hold your attention. The interface and puzzle logic do it no favors but that would be more damning in a longer game, where here it’s all over before it can become anything more than a curiosity. Rounded out by a stark art style and just enough sound design to keep it ominous, this is a flawed little gem that has flown far too low under the radar. If you’re looking for something off-beat and charming this season and don’t mind some rough edges, All Haze Eve will surely be a treat.

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