MADiSON is a first-person psychological adventure horror with elements of survival, thriller, and puzzle. The game was released on July 8, 2022 on PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X. The project was developed by the Argentine indie studio Bloodious Games. We will tell you why it is interesting and who should pay attention to it.

The plot begins with the main character Luka waking up with bloody hands in the house of his dead grandfather. A terrible thing is happening around, and our main task is to get out as soon as possible. To do this, you need to explore the house and solve puzzles, gradually plunging into the plot.

Familiarization with the game is very gentle and gradual: MADiSON allows you to explore what is here and how, tells a story, and starts to scare later.

The game developers were inspired by Hideo Kojima’s Silent Hill demo from 2014. In it, the main character also woke up in a haunted house and had to solve puzzles to find a way out. At that time, critics liked the demo version, but in 2015 the project was canceled. However, this did not prevent other studios from drawing inspiration from it.

The story of MADiSON revolves around a series of ritual sacrifices and demonic possession. Along the way, you need to solve the mystery of a serial killer who still gets the living from the grave. And everything else is tied to this theme.

There is a family drama, and detective investigation, and time travel, and children’s horror stories like “Babadook” under the ticking clock and creaking records. Even a former German concentration camp warden appears in the game (after World War II, Argentina was a popular refuge for the Nazis).

At first, such generosity of stories is intriguing, but it doesn’t last long. It seems that the developers just crammed all the plots into one – and needless to say, they never fit together.

Of course, this can be justified by disorientation and confusion in the head of the protagonist, who develops paranoia and hallucinations (but this explanation suits me with a stretch).

Probably, this also explains Luke’s remarks, which in the tense atmosphere sound clumsy and ridiculous (for example, in the corridor dotted with bloody handprints, the hero says: “You can see handprints on the walls!”). To tell the truth, the protagonist did not arouse my sympathy or at least any feelings. Perhaps, because he simply has no characteristic features.

MADiSON has screamers, as well as elements of the survival game, but this is definitely not the main thing. By the way, there is no fighting here. The key all the way will remain the eerie atmosphere and puzzles. You never know what is lurking in the darkness ahead – whether it’s just a wall with ugly plates, or a rotten monster that instantly rushes in your face.

There are many puzzles, the house is constantly changing – and it works. Playing MADiSON is not boring at all. Puzzles are often interconnected, and you can’t call them monotonous. Although I have seen many complaints about the “stupid” puzzles, as for me, they are all logical and quite solvable, if you like that. Plus there are additional achievements – find 20 red pictures and 5 blue ones (I didn’t find them), it helps to keep your attention.

In addition, the developers have set several traps for players: when you really want to solve a puzzle, even if you understand that the time for it has not yet come. Interestingly, some of the puzzles have a unique answer for each player, because the code is generated during the gameplay.

A separate plus is the soundtrack (recommended playing in headphones). We have a whole symphony of rustling, scratching, whispering, church bells, white noise and a disgusting children’s song. The sound design in this game is convincing.

The main tool in MADiSON is a Polaroid camera. It helps to explore the house, solve puzzles and drive away evil forces (the mechanics are clearly borrowed from Fatal Frame horror). In addition to the camera, the hero will need things found in the house: these are sacred objects and useful tools like a hammer.

The downside is that you can carry a limited number of things with you. Therefore, there are moments when you find a key, but you can’t take it. You have to slowly move to the other end of the house to put, say, an audio cassette in the safe. It is frankly annoying, but fortunately, there are not many such moments in the game.

“Madison” was created on Unity by a team of two people, and the graphics here are surprisingly decent and the developers worked smartly with lighting. It’s noticeable that the game was made with love and every detail works for a holistic atmosphere: everything here is torn, cursed and evil.

Plus, there are a lot of retro gizmos from different eras: tin boxes with memories, dead people’s clocks, squeaky gramophones, and a projector with slides (to which teenager Luka reacts with a buzzer: “What is this anyway?”).

By the way, you can’t save yourself. It happens automatically when you move to a new stage (there are many of them, so it’s not a problem, but I advise you to wait for the save icon before leaving the game).

At some point, the house turns into some kind of eternal confusing corridor, so it takes a lot of time just to find the right room. Therefore, the gameplay time directly depends on how good you are with puzzle solving and spatial orientation. Some players pass MADiSON in 4-5 hours, others need 10+.

The ending seemed naive to me, as if the developers didn’t think much about it and chose one of the most obvious solutions. Nevertheless, it does not spoil the impression of a good game, which was pleasant and interesting to play.

So is MADiSON scary?

As for me, not very. Perhaps because against the background of war, horror cannot be scary at all or because there is nothing to scare here.

There are screamers that make you shudder, there are demons, blood, voices from the other world, rotten limbs of people in the air, but these are typical and familiar things. If MADiSON is not your first horror, it is unlikely that after it, you will be afraid to turn off the light or look in the bathroom mirror.

I would say that MADiSON is rather interesting – not in terms of something new, but simply because it is fun to play. The puzzles are different and not obvious, you need to think about them (sometimes for an obscenely long time), the gameplay doesn’t slacken, and you want to play the game to the end right away. If you are looking for something to do for an evening or two, like horror and puzzles, then MADiSON is a good choice.

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