You Must Survive

Cleansuit is a first person, graphical text-based adventure horror game. The experience was developed and published by Goblin Council. It’s a quirky little indie gem with a lot to offer. The narrative and atmosphere instill a sense of fear in players. The game knows its limitations. Yet, you never feel its taken concessions.

Cleansuit’s story revolves around survival. In Cleansuit, you begin your adventure alone in your house when you suddenly hear movement from your door. When you approach the door, you see there is a maniac who wants to kill you. From your home, you must survive the attack by any means necessary. Your player is given only the resources from their home to achieve this goal. There are many alternate endings depending on your character’s actions. Each one of the endings requires the player to survive in different ways. The options seem open ended. Yet, it only takes a few mistakes to fail completely and be forced to restart.

The whole story is told in both graphical images, and text. The game at its core is a text-based adventure. However, it creatively uses said images to progress the story and set a more chilling atmosphere. The composition is done extremely well. It lends itself to the graphical images perfectly. You never feel a sense of security because at almost any moment the killer could catch you. Cleansuit’s storytelling is anxiety inducing. The writing does a great job in making the player feel uneasy. Additionally, you are rewarded for your progression. As you survive longer and longer, you discover there is more than meets the eye. The player learns more about both their character and the maniac. Its storytelling is possibly Cleansuit’s best attribute.

Keep Your Eyes Open

Cleansuit won’t be winning any rewards for its graphics, however. As its “graphics” are just a series of pictures which further establish its atmosphere. As you enter new rooms, or search particular compartments in your house, an image shows up representing what your character is doing at that particular time. The pictures are always shown from a first-person perspective. Each image uses a similar style. The style is extremely minimal yet it sets a suspenseful mood. The photos that appear look like a screenshot of a CGI cutscene from an original PlayStation game. Yet, I’m not complaining. Honestly, it works very well. There was never a moment where I was turned off by this art direction. The game knows its limitations and attempts to create a nuanced artistic escapade as opposed to a highly polished graphical experience.

Setting The Scene

The atmosphere is dark and bleak. Every scene seems to set a different mood very well. This atmosphere is required for a game of this nature. It almost discourages you to continue as it is genuinely terrifying. To counteract that, it’s deliciously creepy vibrations almost require you to press on. The game reminds me of another more recent text-based adventure, Stories Untold. Both games have a similar feel. Stories Untold has a lot more interactive non-text-based gameplay. However, does Cleansuit need this? I don’t think so. In terms of ambiance, what it tries to do it does very well.

What It Takes To Survive

I would suggest playing the tutorial just so you have more of an idea of how the game works. However, unlike more primitive text-based adventures, Cleansuit gives the player many hints which entitle the player with a general idea of what to do next. Some of these hints include highlighted text or visual and written queues. Your interface includes a map and an inventory. You’re encouraged to pick up and combine particular items in order to achieve your goal.

There is a lot of trial and error required in this game. As the player, you’re never sure of exactly what to do especially when creating items. However, If the maniac succeeds in killing you it isn’t very detrimental because the game itself is very short. It plays similar to a rogue-like in many ways. It educates you more about how to survive as you die repetitively. The game encourages you to try again and experiment. I believe this is part of the fun. The player may feel a sense of accomplishment as they finally discover how they’re supposed to survive the maniac’s relentless assault in a particular way. Although there many different ways to survive, nothing strikes you like the first successful survival run.

Listen Out For Him

The sound is just as integral as the images in setting the mood. The player learns the sound effects, and they know what to expect from particular sounds. It adds to the suspense and creates an even more ambient atmosphere. However, it seems the sound effects don’t always match up perfectly. For example, sometimes you can hear terror inducing music when you’re only searching a drawer. When this happens, it takes you out of the moment and fails to successfully establish the atmosphere you became so accustomed to. Yet, most of the time this isn’t the case. Most of the time it syncs together perfectly. Each time you activate a particular item, a realistic and related sound effect is accompanied. Noise is important in this game. Most of it is done extremely well.

Run For Your Life

Due to the low barrier of entry, I witnessed no performance issues. The minimum system requirements are very low, as they should be. This is a graphical text-based adventure with very few scenes that would take advantage of demanding hardware. Cleansuit basically could run on a toaster. For those who don’t own an extremely lucrative gaming PC and have 4 bucks to spare, this is a perfect pick-up.

How It Stacks Up

Cleansuit is the text-based adventure for the modern generation. It sets the stage, but doesn’t hold your hand. Many moments leave you at the edge of your seat. The game isn’t perfect but assuming you have some patience, it will give you a great and memorable experience filled with haunting sights, sounds, and writing. So grab your keyboard, and get typing….If you dare.

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Horrifying ambiance
Fun and simple story
Joy of discovery
Very unique
Occasionally inconsistent sound
Relatively low replay-ability

Review Summary

Cleansuit is unlike anything you’ll ever play. It’s creepy and horrific atmosphere, simple setting, and interesting exposition lead to a fun and fulfilling experience. A few thematic missteps are not enough to deter someone from enjoying this genuinely scary survival text-adventure.

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