Classic gaming and all things horror are two of my strongest passions, so after seeing a short trailer for Viviette, my interested was sparked. Although we saw some great games with horror themes in the 16-bit era, such as the Splatterhouse and Castlevania series, survival horror didn’t really break through until the PlayStation era with groundbreaking titles like Resident Evil and Silent Hill. DYA Games, a Spanish development team of two brothers, have created this frightening horror-adventure presented to us in 16-bit art style, and it’s definitely something special.
You start the game waking up in a hospital surrounded by medical staff and a police detective. Something very bad has happened and they are full of questions, but your mind is confused and hazy. We then flashback and play the events as they unfold. Your character Jules, your sister Felice, and several friends arrive on a small and secluded island to explore an abandoned mansion. Something happens to you in the opening scene, and you awake later to find it dark outside and all of your companions missing. You then set out to explore the house and the grounds to find your friends.
All you have to begin with is a lamp, and you’d better get used to it because there are no weapons or any real combat in this game. As you investigate the rooms you’ll find diary entries that begin to tell the story of the homeowners and the mental deterioration of the wife, Viviette. There are lots of rooms across the multiple floors and outside areas, many locked and requiring certain kinds of keys, much like in the Resident Evil series. As you progress you’ll come across many puzzles, most unsolvable right away. But the further you go on, you’ll find clues or hints to assist. Most of the puzzles are quite challenging and I found myself taking a lot of notes, and frequently being stumped. Deciphering a puzzle will usually net you either a key, or a special item – most of these are tools. For instance things like a crank or a wire cutter will allow you activate a mechanism or cut through a secured area. One thing that really increases the challenge is the absence of a map, something present in nearly every adventure game and I’d advise making your own. Much like Silent Hill or Resident Evil, there are specific save points. In this case there are rooms with a diary to save your progress. I’d recommend doing this often because if the monster corners you you’ll certainly die.
The atmosphere in Viviette is very unsettling. It’s clear something very bad has befouled the owners and their presence lingers in the house. Many of the rooms contain dolls and puppets either dismembered or set up in life-like poses. The appearance of items like spirit boards only makes the game creepier. The chilling piano score accompanying Jules’ frequent panicked breathing gives you a constant sense of dread and unease. Although there are no weapons, combat, or common enemies – you’ll find out early on, that one of your companions has been possessed by Viviette. Throughout the game, this character will stalk, chase, and attempt to kill you. You’ll be searching a room or working through a puzzle and all of a sudden you’ll hear the door creak accompanied by footsteps and a horrifying shriek. You cannot fight. You must get out of the room and run, or turn off your lamp and hide in the darkness. This component of the game may remind gamers of the Clock Tower series, or Nemesis from Resident Evil 3 (STAAAAAARRRRRS).
The artwork work in Viviette is brilliant. This looks like a high-end Super Nintendo game. The character detail is incredible. Each room has its own flair and character to it and are all packed with items to inspect. The story is pretty interesting, but not overdone. Most of the gameplay is focused on the exploration and puzzle solving. The writing is of high quality and helps set the mood and feel to the game and the text font looks really sharp. I can’t remember the last game I’ve been impressed by the look of the text. As I mentioned the simple, yet spooky piano music is a perfect fit.
This is the best horror game I’ve played in a long time, and certainly the best on the Switch. Many gamers would doubt that a game done in this graphical style could scare you, but they would be wrong. It was a lot of fun exploring the mansion and I was always so exhilarated whenever I earned a new item or key that would open up new areas in the house. There are three possible endings based on your performance so there is some replayability. Aside from some difficult and confusing puzzles, the biggest complaint with the game will be its length. It took me awhile to complete the game, but that was mostly due to being stuck on certain puzzles. One of the challenges is to complete this in one hour, and on a second playthrough this shouldn’t be too difficult. However, I was not disappointed at all with the duration and loved the whole experience. Viviette is a steal at only $9.99, and at that price players shouldn’t be expecting a 15-hour game.
Final Thoughts: GREAT
This is one of the most unique titles on the Switch and should be a must-buy for fans of horror adventure titles. The price is one of the best bargains on the eShop. Despite the short length, the experience of playing this one will be a memorable one. This is the perfect game to play at 2 AM with all the lights off!
Aaron got his NES in 1991 and has loved and collected video games ever since. In addition to gaming, he enjoys Stephen King novels, Twins Baseball, and his cats.