Review: COME ALIVE!

Review: COME ALIVE!

COME ALIVE! by Angela He is a short Halloween-themed game made for Ludum Dare 49. Spend a night with Cyan and their friends as you watch a horror movie unfolding off of the screen.

COME ALIVE! is a rather short tale about the friendship shared between a diverse group of college students, with a little bit of added spooks along the way. Cyan, the game’s main character, decides to watch a horror movie with their friends—however, when they leave the room, things begin to go awry. People start going missing and Cyan sees mysterious (and sometimes scary) things. 

It’s up to you as the player to navigate this story and help both Cyan and their friends along the way. You’re able to click through the dorm building and navigate each room. However, the actions in these rooms are limited. Sometimes you’re able to investigate something like the mirror, but other times you’re left looking at a pretty background with no purpose. In cases like the latter, it becomes less noticeable because of the game’s fluid camera. Having the game illustrated in a first-person point of view with the ability to have players move the screen as if they’re actually looking left to right creates an immersive experience. 

The artwork in COME ALIVE! is what’s to be expected from Angela He. The style is very distinctively hers, and very beautiful. Each character has their own unique design that tells us about the kind of character they are. We even get to see a little bit of who everyone is through the backgrounds of their rooms. Angela He has paid close attention to even the little details, such as furniture and other decor placed around the dorm. 

While, mechanically, COME ALIVE! is a solid game, its story is hit or miss. In some scenes, mainly when Cyan is hanging out with their friends, the story flows really smoothly. Dialogue feels effortless, almost as if players are actually in Cyan’s dorm room snuggled on the couch themselves. In fact, I’d go as far as to say the dynamic between Cyan and their friends—a very relatable group of people—carries the game’s story on its back. 

However, the game’s subplot—the horror movie coming off of the screen and into real life—is a weak one. While the premise is a fun and intriguing one that Halloween fans will love, horror fans will be a bit disappointed. There are moments where the game is actually scary, with jump scares and music changes, but other times, the lo-fi backing track remains the same beat that plays in the lighter scenes. 

By the end, I was asking myself if I was meant to be scared, or if fear was taking a backseat to the larger slice-of-life story. The story that is told to players is, all in all, a good one that could benefit from a little bit more development time. COME ALIVE! was made in a single weekend for the Ludum Dare game jam. It’s quite an impressive feat! I’ve made games in a few months that were less polished than what Angela He presents to us as a three-day project.

The Verdict:

Angela He does not disappoint with their newest creation. However, if you’re looking for an intense horror game, look further. What you’ll really be getting here is a strong tale of friendship and identity. 

You can play COME ALIVE! for free on itch.io.

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