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Claire: Extended Cut is a psychological horror game developed and published by Hailstorm Games.  The game was released on XBox One on September 6th, 2016.

You play as Claire, a girl visiting her mother in the hospital.  Spooky things start to happen and soon you are thrust into a creepy horror setting trying to figure out what’s what.  It isn’t simply some random scary stuff that pops up, there is a lot to figure out that has to do with Claire and her past, and that is what keeps you going.  It is actually really interesting to try and find out what is going on, and why.

The game is a 2D platformer with pixel graphics.  You will constantly be traversing narrow corridors and long hallways in the cliché horror settings, such as hospitals or schools.  You are also given a map which you can use in order to figure out where you are at a given point, as wherever you are is always some long stretch of a room or corridor, it is easy to get turned around and lost, so the map is very helpful in that regard.  The game also has different endings, depending on certain actions you took throughout the game, but we will get to that a little later on.  The music is sufficiently creepy, keeping pretty low and providing just enough of a foreboding atmosphere to keep you alert and on the edge of your seat.

You will find some pretty creepy looking monsters and creatures on your journey, and much likes games such as Amnesia: The Dark Descent and SOMA, you cannot fight them.  You must simply run and hide until they give up the chase, and/or just leave.  To hide, you will find multiple places in which you can take cover, these include places like behind boxes, in lockers and in broken walls.  Even though the game is a 2D pixelated game, it still has some pretty in your face moments.  There is gore, blood and grotesqueness a-plenty, so don’t be fooled by the immediate cutesy look it holds, there is much darkness, desperation and depression to come.

There is a lot of exploration to the game, usually to find clues or an item which help you to progress through the game, most of the time it will be something like a key for a locked door or batteries for your torch.  Along with the key items you need to find, there are a few collectables around the place which can grant you a deeper insight into the lore and the story behind the game.  Some items as well are for side quests.  You will occasionally find some random stranger who wants you to find something for them, so you have to go around searching for it and bring it back to them, and this will grant you karma, which affects the way the game ends.

There are two main issues in the game, the first being the length.  Even if you decide to take your time, search through every single area, make sure to complete every side quest, you are still only looking at a few hours of play time, four maximum if you really take your time.  For a game as cheap as this, it isn’t so much of an issue, especially if you are the kind of person who wants or needs to replay games to see the multiple different endings, then you will definitely get the maximum amount of play time out of this game.  The second isn’t so much of an issue but more a pesky annoyance.  The game features a lot of backtracking, mainly due to the side quests.  And as you can only run for a short time, you will find yourself walking through areas you have already been in a few times before.  This is not a really huge issue, but it feels a little out of place for someone to be doing this when trapped in some dark, scary place full of monsters.

Verdict

Claire: Extended Edition is out now on XBox One, PS4 and PS Vita.  The game honestly is a surprising delight in the realm of horror games.  We never expected to see such a good story, horror elements and general exploration in such a small and to be honest, not very well known game.  Aside from the gruelling backtracking you will have to undertake, and the short length of the game, Claire: Extended Cut is a game which all fans of horror need to get into.  For these reasons, we give Claire: Extended Cut an 8.5/10.

This review was written based on the XBox One copy of the game, play on other platforms may vary.

Claire: Extended Cut

8.2

Enjoyment

8/10

    Story

    9/10

      Visual

      7/10

        Audio

        9/10

          Gameplay

          8/10

            Pros

            • Engaging and immersive story
            • Creepy horror element
            • Dark and sinister setting

            Cons

            • Short length
            • A lot of backtracking