Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
The Bad Son by Victor Atobas and Zoozobra Studios is an interesting take on the indie RPG Maker scene. Doing away with RPG Elements, you find yourself looking for a way out from a dark and malicious feeling town after your car broke down just outside of it. Will anyone help? Or will they try to kill you on sight? That’s for you to discover.
From the get go, The Bad Son has several things going for it. Atmosphere is heavy, eerie, and the sound effects? They put you on edge. Following this, the color palette being used has nothing bright and cheery in it. This only helps to drive the atmosphere further into eeriness as you lead the protagonist Tom forward in order to find help…
Aside from The Bad Son’s atmosphere, another neat element is that the character sprites are not your average 16-bit styled affair. Instead, characters look a bit more alive as the sprites will bob up and down letting you know that there’s someone, or something, there as they stick out from the background.
These two above elements are really important as they are what helps bring everything together on this journey. Taking control of Tom, you’ll start moving around this town that has both dark secrets and locked doors to move forward. Seemingly unrelated at first, explore everything. No matter how insignificant it may seem at the time, it could be the difference between a three hour adventure and a six hour adventure as you almost yell into the darkness what it wants from you.
Never overcomplicating The Bad Son’s gameplay, moving Tom around is easy. Up, down, left, right, walk, run. That’s all you really need to do as you talk to those that may give you clues into what they need or allow you to run away from those chasing you. Being chased, I’ll be honest, brought about two things for me. The first? Anxiety as these people are out for your life and you only have so many hit points. The other? A bit of frustration as they are often much too fast in comparison to how long it takes you to find a place to hide. Even if you do? Sometimes they won’t leave…
This second item does cause a bit of an issue as if they do catch up to you? You take damage. While that would be fine as you learn from your mistakes, your pursuers not leaving usually means that they are right behind the doorway you escaped from. In certain locations this means you’re going to take a hit regardless as there was only one way in or out of the room. In others? Could mean loading up a previous save or autosave as there are only so many healing items available and it’s easy to run out.
The only other item I could consider an issue in The Bad Son is a “lack of direction”, but, it’s part of the mystery. What I would have liked however without a sense of direction would have been a map, full or mini, as oftentimes I found myself going the wrong way because certain parts look similar enough causing even more backtracking than what was already required. Because otherwise? There’s a fairly solid title here.
Overall, The Bad Son by Victor Atobas and Zoozobra Studios is an interesting and well designed dark atmospheric horror RPG Maker title. Between the heavy atmosphere, the sound effects, and the world design, it was clear to see how much effort went into this title and it would be interesting to see what could come next.Score: 7.75 / 10