Burnhouse Lane Review – Curiosity Embraced The Cat

Angie's had a fair amount of tragedy in her life, but we gain strength from helping others, right? A Burnhouse Lane Switch review...

Burnhouse Lane has got to be one of the toughest games I’ve played this year, and that’s not due to the difficulty but the content. As Angie, you have to come to terms with losing your partner to cancer. Within the first few minutes, you hang yourself. Yes, this is a challenging title.

Without knowing anything about it, other than it being published on the Nintendo Switch by Feardemic, I jumped straight in and was bombarded with a hell of a lot. Being prompted to climb up on a chair to tie a noose around my neck wasn’t a motivator, but the game forced me to, like that torture scene in GTA V.

Alright, I’ll bite. Immediately we descend into Angie’s nightmares as she plummets down into her internal hell, voices from the past building up the exposition of what the future held for her and her loved one, only now to be left alone and seemingly in misery. Chin up – she’s just been given a job.

Burnhouse Lane Review - Red light
Red light. Source: PR

Burnhouse Lane Review (Switch)

The job in question is looking after an elderly man on a farm. Angie’s a nurse, so this makes sense, and escaping to the country might be what she needs to escape her demons. But it’s never like that, is it? Instead, the suspense locomotive kicks in, and we have to ask ourselves how close she is to madness.

Burnhouse Lane is a sidescrolling puzzle game with sporadic combat and dialogue trees, a teeny bit like The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters. Movement is straightforward enough as you stay in the foreground at all times, switching between floors and other locations by hovering near an opening and interacting with it.

The presentation is superb, implementing a cut-out style blending Source of MadnessDry Drowning, and GRUNND. Interestingly, it borrows from all those themes, from monsters to a story that borders on melancholy. I’m not a fan of the latter and would have to be in a particular frame of mind to play this, especially when we learn that Angie has her own health problems.

Burnhouse Lane Review - Cadavar
Cadaver. Source: PR

The Cat Lady

Honestly, I may have avoided Burnhouse Lane if I’d done more research on the subject matter, as it doesn’t sound particularly rosy. However, how Harvester Games has presented the themes is done respectfully and not gratuitously, even if some graphic scenes may put off the average gamer.

In that respect, and more importantly, quality comes from the voice acting. The cast – from Angie to the minor roles seen throughout her adventure – is terrific. There’s often a desire to read ahead of dialogue when subtitles are on, but in the case of Burnhouse Lane, it was a great listening experience. The music and ambience were also at a high level.

Occasional gripes arose with the saving system. To save a game, a.k.a. checkpoints, Angie lights up a fag to do so. Considering how her partner died and her predicament, it prompts a riskier playthrough of not saving the game as if playing Resident Evil 2 again for all the achievements. What with my kids exiting my games on the Switch regularly, it’s crucial that I save, but at Angie’s detriment. Gameplay, too. Some of the checkpoint distances are irritating.

Verdict

You’ll note that not much more has been said about the Burnhouse Lane story, but that’s in fear of giving spoilers. It’s a mature, uncompromising tale with interesting puzzles, great sandwich visuals, and a beautiful, if not bleak, presentation. Just don’t expect to be doing cartwheels after playing.