Adam – Lost Memories (Adam Dubi)
As terrifying as the horror genre can be the sad reality is that the ghouls, ghost and other fantasy creatures that typically inhabit it pales in comparison to the horror that some people have to endure in real-life. It is even more heartbreaking when you realize that it is often the most vulnerable who are preyed on the most. Adam: Lost Memories is an early access title that is being created by just one person, Adam Dubi. Adam began working on the game after his psychologist suggested that he uses some form of art to work through the trauma that he experienced during his childhood. For some people, this would mean painting or poetry, but instead, Adam went ahead and created an extremely ambitious horror game.
Adam: Lost Memories is based on personal experiences with child abuse suffered by the creator, Adam Dubi. In Adam’s own words, players will step into the shoes of a mentally ill person who suffers from panic disorders when they take control of his character in the game. Although Adam could have taken the easy route and created a walking simulator that leads players by the hand through his fears and terrors, this is most certainly not the case with this game. Instead, Adam: Lost Memories is a psychological horror puzzle game that requires players to explore at their own pace, pay attention to their surroundings and figure out what to do with the various items found scattered throughout the levels.
Speaking of surroundings, Adam: Lost Memories is definitely not what we expected when the creator told us about the theme and inspiration for the game. The physics-based world, where players can interact with their surroundings, has more in common with titles like Silent Hill and F.E.A.R which makes for an extremely immersive as well as deeply unsettling experience. Refreshingly, the game also does not rely on cheap jump scares and thundering sound effects to elicit fear responses from players either. The Early Access version that we played through, which is about three hours long, featured environments that are dark and devoid of life apart from the occasional glimpses at monstrous humanoids. The game had us feeling alone, isolated and uncertain of what will happen next most of the time, which is what we imagine Adam must have felt like. Some of the most disturbing things we have seen in the game happened in blink and you might miss it moments or are glimpsed from the corner of your eyes while exploring. There are also a couple of genuinely freaky moments, one in particular that involves navigating pitch darkness via the brief flashes of a broken camera. The enemies that do crop up don’t appear to harm Adam directly but instead influence his sanity if gazed upon for too long, which causes panic attacks that mess with your vision and controls. It’s a mechanic that has been used before in games, but it is still very effective. We also like how solving puzzles can help Adam to overcome these panic attacks.
Too many horror games these days are one-trick ponies that rely on cheap jump scares, which ends up being more annoying than terrifying. The fact that Adam: Lost Memories manages to be so unsettling without going over the top with these elements or wrenching the controls away from players during cut-scenes is impressive. Since the game is still in Early Access, we will leave our thoughts on the visuals and audio for the full review but suffice to say Adam: Lost Memories looks and sounds brilliant. Not just brilliant for a single developer, but brilliant compared to some of the best stuff that we’ve seen from huge teams. The game runs on the Unreal Engine and everything from the textures to the environmental effects look superb. The visuals are also extremely immersive, and we don’t even want to imagine what this game would look like in VR.
For an Early Access title, we didn’t encounter any major issues with Adam: Lost Memories and Adam has been extremely dedicated to fixing any bugs encountered by players. In fact, he immediately implemented inverted mouse controls when we inquired about it. Currently, it’s a little too easy to get lost in the maze-like environments due to the lack of a map and some backtracking is also required if you miss important items in the darkness. However, Adam is planning on adding an interactive map in upcoming updates. Other features on the horizon range from more ways to solve puzzles, to more sections narrated by Isaak Wells, as well as a dynamic open world that’s changing based on your behavior. These certainly sound very ambitious but based on what we have seen so far from Adam we do not doubt that he can pull it off. If you love original and unique horror titles and can handle experiencing some of the trauma that Adam experienced, albeit in a rather abstract manner, then this is a must-have.