Freeware Garden: All The Way Down

Always appreciate a sturdy bartender.

Drawing inspiration from Lovecraft’s famous The Shadow Over Innsmouth All The Way Down is a short but lovely horror adventure game by Sanctuary Interactive. An adventure set in chilly rural Yorkshire which helps you feel the cold.

Cold and darkness are two of the main ingredients that help the game achieve its atmosphere and the player to experience a sense of increasing hopelessness and dread. A sense of being trapped in a secluded, off-the-map village that could have been built with the sole purpose of serving as a birthplace for spooky tales.

Ahem.

Actually, it’s a masterfully realized and realistic setting. One you’ll enjoy trying to escape from, especially as All The Way Down is brilliantly paced and gradually builds anticipation until its sadly abrupt finale. What’s more, it’s a setting supported by an equally intriguing plot involving something most probably unnameable and a village-wide conspiracy.

Add in some unexpectedly well-voiced, sharp dialogue by ominous characters accompanied by unsettling portraits and you have a superb game that never lets overtly complicated puzzles get in the way of plot.

Just allow the deceptively pleasant backgrounds to pull you into the darkness of it all and the excellent pixel-art graphics to do their job by letting your imagination fill in all the gaps and you’ll deeply appreciate just how wisely designed All The Way Down really is.

11 Comments

  1. Chaz says:

    Beware the moon, and stay on the road. Keep clear of the moors. etc

  2. Kefren says:

    Lovely setting. I replayed Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth recently, and the opening once you get to Innsmouth is far superior to the rest of the game (and the openings of other scary games). The “go to isolated village with weird people” is a classic: no surprise that Resident Evil 4 adopts it for the brilliant opening too. Both of those, plus American Werewolf In London, were triggers that led me to write my first novel, Turner.

    • klops says:

      The Innsmouth part is excellent! After you get guns and end up lasering Elder Ones the excellence vanishes.

      I wonder if there’s a nice escape sequence in AtWD too.

      • Kefren says:

        Exactly. With the loss of threat comes the loss of fear. Nothing beats panicky attempts to close and bolt doors, shove furniture in place etc while you can hear people trying to break in, and you are unarmed and confused.

  3. Kefren says:

    PS If you’re after some creepy reads to go with this creepy game, I’m happy to pass on my e-issues of Nightmare (horror) magazine. It has short stories in each issue, a few of which are inspired by Lovecraft. Just email me (address on my blog) if you want them, first to ask gets them.

  4. Harrington says:

    Ahhh, nothing like a bit of winter-setting Lovecraft as I sit in the midst of a real-life snowstorm. Fun little game, though a bit pixel hunt-y. Worthwhile download.

  5. DeadOwl says:

    Nice atmosphere but holy crap is that main character annoying.

    Edit: On fully completing the game, wow no. Nope. “Masterfully realized and realistic setting”? “Intriguing plot”? “Deceptively pleasant backgrounds”? “Wisely designed”? It was none of those things. The setting was the typical uninspired mysterious village, the story painfully predictable if you’ve ever seen anything slightly resembling lovecraftian horror before, and the game was barely 15 minutes long, ten of which were spent hunting for the correct pixel. A functional Lovecraft fan game this is, a masterpiece of horror it is not.

  6. Charles de Goal says:

    I loved the accents there.