UPDATE: We have been informed by the developer that changes are coming to the game that will impact and change this review in a different way such as slight story changes, gameplay changes, and performance. This will impact the way this review was written as it will be based on a previous version and will update accordingly. Please see the end of the review for the changes that will be coming.
Platform: PC, Mac, iPhone (Reviewed on iPhone X)
Developer: Iron Monkey
Publisher: Iron Monkey
Release Date: 19th May 2017 (PC), 3rd May 2018 (iPhone)
Price: £5.19 (PC), £3.99 (App Store)
Recently I have been playing some games on the go. Usually, on the Nintendo Switch but recently some mobile games too. For now, it’s pretty much been Elder Scrolls Legends and a couple of others but when I saw the trailer for Lazaretto it peaked my interest. If you haven’t seen the trailer it’s definitely worth a look. The horror genre has always been a favourite of mine and that trailer just showed that. It also shows the capability of modern phones. The graphics aren’t the best you’re going to see in a game but by far some of the best on a mobile phone. A device you can slip in and out of your pocket has the capability of this? I couldn’t miss out on this one.
From what I am aware of the game is based on the PC version, where I had to look into the game as I was unaware of the original version. I didn’t want to get any spoilers for when I was reviewing it so it was just basically a once over of the game and what it was about.
Off the bat, you see how dark it is. I could barely see the game I had to turn my brightness up to max. Obviously playing a game of this power will drain your battery but it’s going to drain even more now that the brightness is on max.
When starting Lazaretto they give you the message of sitting in a dark room and wear headphones. I did just that. I set the tone for a horror, albeit on a small screen, but I gave it the best setting. One thing that surprised me was in the first room when you turn around the dripping noise you can hear it in 5.1. It passes around you when turning and this from a mobile, again, is amazing.
There are a few grammatical errors. In the first note, you can clearly see they skipped over a few characters or even just a bad translation but you see this throughout. You get the idea of what they mean however so it doesn’t spoil it, but could have been more polished.
The game has its moments of jumpscares. Especially with headphones one. Nothing where I would scream out on the bus, I expected pretty much all of them but still worked quite nicely. The sound effects of the winds a dipping using my headphones definitely set the tone.
I reached a point in the game where I proceed to the next area and couldn’t return so I knew I was heading in the right direction. But it was pretty much a dead end. I couldn’t go anywhere. There was an elevator shaft there and highlights blue when hovering over the cables but couldn’t do anything. When something is highlighted blue you double tap on it and it does whatever it needs to do. With this nothing happens. I was here for a good 30 minutes dying every so often trying to progress but couldn’t. In the end, I researched it and watched a couple of the PC version videos at that point. You notice how different it is from the mobile and PC versions and I was right. It shows you have to go down the elevator shaft but I just couldn’t. No matter what I did I just couldn’t progress beyond that. After a good 45 minutes, I figured it out. You have to run a jump on it, I have no clue why cause I could reach it without jumping but that was the only way to do it.
Progressing throughout, the story is quite poor, there wasn’t a lot to it, little character building, throwing people into it here and there, you can see it takes details from Shutter Island and Outlast. The further in you get the better it does get only if your phone can handle it that far in. I reviewed this on an iPhone X and my phone was hot after an hour. Really hot. That chrome outer? Get ready to put your phone down for a bit. The hotter your phone is the more your game is going to lag.
The game was laggy at the start of it while the phone was cool but it worsens over time. There are times where it is silky smooth but doesn’t last long. I guess this is to compensate for better graphics. There was one point entering the nurse’s area where it lagged so bad I had to turn it off to let my phone cool down for a while and come back and it still was terrible. This area was the brightest area in the game so it may be that textures could be seen better with the depth of field causing it lag but just wasn’t great at all.
There was one point in the game that wasn’t optimized what I think is the iPhone X. I don’t have another iPhone to test this on but there is one point in the game you control a boat through a scare ride and the left arrow is nearly off of the screen. I am still able to tap it but that arrow needs moving.
The game is quite simple. Once you reach the end stage where this is a slight puzzle to reach the ending everything is straightforward. For a mobile game, it looks great but it is let down by the lag. Maybe mobiles just aren’t up to the standard of quality for gaming just yet. It’s quite clunky for the controls with the lag included it can make the game literally unplayable at times till it cools down to replay. Is that a phone problem? Maybe but it could be down to the power the game is pulling in making it overheat. It is extremely short but in my eyes, this is what you want from a mobile game, you don’t want a full-length game, you want a nice little sit through and it does that when it is playable. I can’t imagine it being a full PC game with how short it is. Maybe a VR version is next?
As informed by the developer on the back of player feedback we have been given some fresh information that will help make the game better. Based on the complaints we had put forward the developer is taking their time to update the game to be the best it can be. We have also updated the title due to the game being Chapter One and potential of further games in the future. Please check out the developer notes below:
- The flashlight will be more intense. (Done on their side)
- Adjusting darkness (They will continue to tweak these over a longer period of time as well)
- Rewrite some of the notes
- The elevator will not require jumping…just running (done on their side)
- Overall performance (This is an area they will continue to tweak)
I have to give it out to Iron Monkey Interactive and their team. They have taken on board feedback and looking into tweaking this to better the game. If you look at big developers it’s very rare they reach out to their player base to update them accordingly and give them what they want to make the overall experience better. Albeit, the game right now hasn’t changed but expect big changes (above) to come into place and make that gameplay experience better for everyone. Who doesn’t love that?