Does the religious angle ever get a good rep. It always feels like there is a darker motion behind the inner workings of a church in games, especially in the likes of Fallout, Dishonored or games that deal with demons taking over the earth or tormenting the living. It’s certainly no Songs of Praise in the gaming world.
In Gray Dawn, we are put in the shoes of a priest who is haunted by his past life, just as a terrible event changes the course of his life forever. It’s taken a while to come over from PC to console but it now feels like the perfect time to play Gray Dawn.
I played Gray Dawn over the Christmas holiday period; nice and apt considering the first few minutes of the game. You find yourself in a cozy room with a fire blazing, a Christmas tree lit up, and some carols playing on the radio. But soon there is blood in the teacups, strange birds at the window, and a puppet boy staring, eyes following you around the room. It’s safe to say that Christmas is ruined.
The story is set in England in the 1920’s. We are in a fictional village, playing the part of Father Abraham. This is a guy who is haunted by his past and the accusations of child murder. At the start of the game we don’t know whether it’s true or false. You move around the mansion you live in but soon the world becomes strange and distorted, surreal. It’s like you are journeying through the priest’s tormented mind. There’s some top-class visual storytelling going on here, with a healthy mix of the real and the unreal. You are transported to fantasy locations and subjected to a whole load of amazing religious imagery.
I really liked the story and the dialogue found in Gray Dawn. It feels very original whilst the visual side is strong and evocative. Sometimes it can feel a bit melodramatic but I think the developers have gone all-out to embrace the style of the piece. There is a funeral scene that is very effective and beautifully done.
Gameplay takes place in the first person, working like a normal exploration adventure game. You will spend your time looking around a variety of rooms, trying to find a way to open locked doors and picking up objects to use them. Further, a series of puzzles come your way, but thankfully they never task the brain too much. Mostly you’ll want to collect items, find clues or follow a series of instructions. Honestly, at times I got lost in Gray Dawn, unsure where to go next. But the map areas aren’t huge, so it isn’t a problem to exhaust all possibilities.
Gray Dawn isn’t going to tax you in terms of your gameplay skills; it’s more walking sim than action adventure. You can’t die either, and there is no combat to worry about. This is a game that is all about taking your own sweet time. And personally, I lap up games of this type. Whether it is something suitable for more action-ready gamers though…
The visual design of Gray Dawn is wonderful. The religious theme and templates are outstanding, with Eastern European Christianity being a clear influence on the design choices. There is also a great mix of real life and high fantasy, all taking place across strange new worlds. This combination is always successful and it means that Gray Dawn is a pleasure to walk around.
The sound design is good too, especially in terms of music choices and original score. And alongside that, the voicework feels quite melodramatic which works within the tone of the game.
Gray Dawn will happily immerse you into a good story that mixes many different styles. If you’re a fan of exploration-type games, this will be right up your street. The visuals are lovely, helped along by some stand-out scenes that are original and affecting. It may not be for everyone, but those looking for some horror and storytelling will have a splendid time with Gray Dawn.