If you’re looking for a horror adventure that re-defines the genre, you won’t get it with MADiSON – this is an experience that wears its inspirations like a badge of honour, with plenty of the same eerie tropes we’ve seen across countless other first-person horror releases on show throughout. That’s certainly not a bad thing though, because whilst the game will certainly instil a sense of familiarity to its players, there’s still a REALLY good time to be had as you unravel the blood curdling mystery.
Check out some screenshots below:
MADiSON puts players in the role of Luca, who awakens in a room with his hands covered in blood and his Father smashing at the door to get in. In a confused stupor, you manage to escape the room through a gap in the wardrobe, but now find yourself in your Grandfather’s house where nothing is as it seems. Objects disappearing and appearing, the house’s layout seemingly re-arranging when you look away, and a demonic presence… everything is there to ensure Luca’s fight for survival will be a perilous (and outright frightening) one.
As I said, MADiSON lends plenty of ideas from other horror games, with the likes of PT and Layers of Fear an obvious inspiration from the get-go. The way the house is constantly changing right in front of you feels like an idea that has come straight out of those games, with it used to great effect here to both confuse and creep out the player. Whilst you might feel like you’re making your way to safety one minute, the game will swiftly sweep the rug from under you the next and leave you confused as you end up somewhere you didn’t quite expect to be. It’s something I’m really fond of, with it ramping up the tension as you try to evade the evil that haunts the house’s halls.
It is worth noting that the game is pretty linear, so you shouldn’t expect to find yourself lost in the house or too confused as to where you need to go next. Whilst there are doors aplenty, they typically remain locked until you NEED to use them, with MADiSON often holding the player’s hand as they progress through the story. The only problem with this was that it could be a little difficult to know where you had to go to progress or find an item at some points of the game, especially since areas that might have been previously inaccessible would be open now, though it’s never overwhelming to the point where it’ll leave players confused for too long. Just study your surroundings and try to remember small details and you’ll be fine.
“A lot of first-person horror titles can often rely solely around simply exploring your surroundings and taking in the frights, but you’ve actually got to think outside of the box to solve some of the puzzles here.”
One of the things I liked the most about MADiSON was the puzzle design, with some genuinely cool conundrums on offer that’ll demand some real thinking to unravel. A lot of first-person horror titles can often rely solely around simply exploring your surroundings and taking in the frights, but you’ve actually got to think outside of the box to solve some of the puzzles here. There’s some clever stuff, and whilst some might seem perplexing at first, there’s nothing that feels overly obtuse for the sake of it. You’ll also use your camera in creative ways when solving these puzzles or exploring the world, giving the game its own unique twist that helps keep things fresh. I won’t go into detail here just to avoid spoilers, but the camera will play a big role in just about everything you do in the game.
A horror game would be nothing without scares, so it’s a good job MADiSON delivers there too. Now I’ll be honest, a lot of these are the same sorts of jump scares you’d have seen a million times before, but they still felt effective at creating an unnerving sense of tension as you constantly worry about what might be lingering in the shadows. At the same time, it’ll also throw in scares that feel unique and can genuinely catch you off-guard, so it’ll definitely appeal to horror fans. Add to that the noises of all the things that go bump in the night and it’ll be hard NOT to wander through the game’s eerie locale without worrying about what might frighten you next. It’s all very foreboding and will keep players on the edge of their seat.
Oh, and you won’t have to worry about combat or hiding – whilst there are nasties out to get you in the game world, in most instances they’re there to frighten you momentarily as opposed to cause harm. There will be occasions where you might need to run away from them, but the game doesn’t go overboard in having you actively hide or fight enemies. It complements the puzzling and explorative elements of the game and ensures it never becomes a hindrance to actually explore the house.
Check out some screenshots below:
Presentation-wise, MADiSON looks fantastic, with some brilliant environmental design that helps build a believable house of horror. There’s a rich level of detail to be found in the game, whilst the monsters you encounter manage to look terrifying too. Add to that some great sound design that feels extra atmospheric thanks to the fancy 3D sound features of the PlayStation 5 and it’ll be easy to see that the game certainly delivers in the looks and sound departments.
Unfortunately, the performance was a bit iffy. Whilst it’s fine for the most part, I did notice the frame rate could be a little choppy in places, whilst I also suffered from a couple of crashes. Whilst the frame rate was a bit more forgivable, the crashes were especially frustrating given that you can lose a fair bit of progress – I had three crashes in total, and on each occasion I had to re-play at least ten minutes or so of gameplay to get back to where I was. Hopefully, this is something the developers can address sooner rather than later.
MADiSON is a great horror experience that’ll keep players engrossed with its clever puzzle design, impressive visuals, and frightening atmosphere. I genuinely found myself on the edge of my seat when playing, and whilst it does rely on a few typical horror tropes here and there, it still managed to make me jump on PLENTY of occasions.
Whilst I’ll admit it can be a little lacking in originality and the technical issues can be frustrating, MADiSON is still a very impressive horror adventure that fans of the genre simply won’t want to miss.
Developer: Bloodious Games
Publisher: Bloodious Games, Perp Games
Platform(s): PlayStation 5 (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC