"The war, Robert... The war changed everything."
Vernon's Legacy [official site] is an atmospheric first-person horror game following the terrifying footprints of Amnesia and Soma and scheduled to hit Early Access on March 31st. Set in 1920 Germany, you explore a seemingly abandoned house, with letters and notes scattered around everywhere, solving puzzles in order to uncover the mysterious changes that the war has brought. I set foot in the house myself with a preview build, and what I've seen is promising, although there are a number of small things that risk to ruin the atmosphere. And is that a Fallout reference?!
Careful, there's a small jumpscare at the very end.
I found quite a bit to like. The graphics are great and the writing kept me interested, although you do need a fair share of suspension of disbelief to enjoy it. You will find letters that should have been sent elsewhere, reporting things that would have been awkward to write, if it wasn't for the need to let the player read them. WWI was the most interesting element: it's more than just background setting, it affects the lives of the characters, and there is an anxiety surrounding it that will probably be at the centre of the plot.
The puzzles are hard, sometimes the good kind of hard and sometimes less so. It's not always easy to see what you should pick up, and occasionally items are hidden in plain sight, among objects you can't interact with. The more successful ones require a good deal of attention towards the plot and the environment. After the first few minutes I found a box locked with a code: from the objects in the room and the hints in the letters I had to deduce whose room it was. I thought that people often use their birthday as a code, and I remembered seeing a circle on the calendar with a name on it. Sure enough, the character's date of birth was the answer.
My gripes with the game are relatively minor, and definitely nothing that can't be fixed during the 3 months it plans to stay in Early Access. The physics are very sensitive, and clicking on a chair can inadvertently throw furniture all around the room, to unexpected and hilarious effects. Also, you can jump on a box and then pick it up with yourself on it. From then on you can fly everywhere you want at amazing speeds.
The game tries to guide the player at times with on-screen text, but it can be overly enthusiastic. "Grab the letter on the table!" "Find the kitchen!" Not to mention, the text can be hard to read when it's right on top of your cursor. There are some minor technical issues, and there is no crouching yet, which feels weird even though it's technically not necessary. But maybe all this will be fixed by the time you can purchase it.
I haven't seen very much of it, but the game has some potential, especially if developers TripleBrick manage to iron out those distracting flaws.
Vernon's Legacy is landing on Steam Early Access on March 31st, for Windows, at $9.90.