MADiSON is the latest in a long line of psychological first-person horrors, following in the footsteps of games like Outlast, P.T, and Amnesia. Developers Bloodious Games were clearly inspired by a few of these titles, and for the most part, did an ample job of being compared to them, but in others, maybe they dropped the ball a little.
MADiSON opens with you, the player, waking in your bedroom as Luca, confused, disorientated, and wondering why your father is banging at the door, screaming at you for something you’ve done. It’s an unnerving start to a game that is full of jump scares, tension, and the thought at the back of your mind that you’re not alone.
Playing as Luca you’ll find yourself going through your grandparent’s house, desperate to piece together what is happened, what you’ve done, and why the house is empty and full of creepy pictures, drawings, and rooms that weren’t there before and what the meaning of the hallucinations you’re suffering from actually mean.
As you progress you’ll come across various useful items, from hammers to the trusty camera that’ll become your best friend and worst enemy, and more that’ll end up being answers to a puzzle you may not even have encountered yet.
MADiSON – A Demonic Photography Simulator
The game isn’t particularly lengthy, one of the trophies even boasting about this, rewarding you for beating the game in under two and a half hours, but what it does do is weave a winding, enticing and interesting story that gives as much to you as much as it also allows you to fill in some blanks. Piecing together the past murders, mutilations, and rituals Madison Hale perpetrated back in 1987 only seems to bring more questions, and come the end, not everything is answered, which is both a frustrating move, but also a good one, as it allows us, the players, to fill in and connect the dots between Luca, Madison Hale, and Blue Knees.
One of the better decisions on behalf of the developers was not to hold your hand as you play, you’re given the odd hint in the way of a crudely drawn picture by Luca now and then, but there are very few direct instructions, especially where the puzzles are concerned, and that’s a huge plus because the puzzles are well crafted and in keeping with the setting of the game.
There are some seriously unnerving sections, especially at the beginning, being in the basement whilst listening to a police recording being one of the finest, but the game does become a little predictable with its jump scares halfway through, and there’s an entire church section with a ‘boss’ of sorts that comes and goes without being built up or referenced after, almost as if he was thrown in as an afterthought.
In a game like this, sound design and the environment itself are always top priorities, and other than the odd recycled background noise of a door opening, it did come across as a well-loved, well-crafted game with those two things in mind, and the gameplay idea of using your camera as a light source, defense mechanism, and a viewer into other worlds was a great one if nothing slightly riffing on other games in that regard.
Other than the main story, the game doesn’t offer much else; a harder difficulty, some collectibles in the form of photographing red and blue pictures in various locations and that’s about it. Once you’ve played it once, the game does lose a little of its glamour, but that could be said for any first-person horror, so that’s not to MADiSON’s detriment.
MADiSON was reviewed on PS5 with a code supplied by Bloodious Games.