The Scaredy Cat In The Mirror Forge

Fans of Silent Hill and all things horror, I encourage you to seek out the Mirror Forge demo currently on Steam and make sure to wishlist it in the process.

Play the Mirror Forge demo at night, he says. Yeah, that won’t bother me in the slightest… If you’re new to me, I enjoy horrors – but books and films, not so much games. I’m a bit of a wuss. That said, Silent Hill 2 is one of my all-time favourite games, and just a whiff of this in the press material… well, gotta try it.

This game by Mystive Dev has been on my radar, but apprehensive due to the first-person perspective. That Silent Hill nod isn’t just a marketing pitch – this does look like the franchise yet in its unique way. After the latest video was released, I had to bite the bullet.

In Mirror Forge, you play Thomas Jackson, who is severely down on his luck. I can only make light of things as they are awful. His whole world has been flipped upside down in the worst way imaginable, and now you’ll live through this living hell. In short, he’s lost everything, and all that remains is his sanity and believing that his partner, Jill, can be saved.

Mirror Forge Demo - Heather_
A young Heather? Source: Steam

Once the Mirror Forge demo begins, we’re in darkness. ‘Press F’ comes up, and I’m already filling my pants about whether there’ll be a jump scare. Nope. Check the volume… reasonable. Is that blood? BOOM! Thomas lets out a cry as something has already caused him grief, which validates why I seldom play horrors at night. Said aspect that caused me distress looked like living bacon.

It becomes clear that Mirror Forge is very much a puzzle-based game as you have to pick up objects and throw them to activate switches and what-not. Usually, puzzle games in first-person don’t work for me unless they’re at a slow pace. In this case, the pace is uneasy as there’s an unsettling presence throughout. Sometimes one’s imagination can be worse than the actual thing, but the level design works for you.

Aside from the standard human stuff of moving back and forth and jumping, you can focus on areas by pressing the mouse wheel. Unlike many first-person games I’ve covered over the years, this isn’t one of those games where you’re picking up 3D objects and just admiring their modelling skills: this is all about problem-solving to the tune of some very menacing tones.

Without giving it away, as you can also play the demo on Steam now, Mirror Forge, in a way, picks up from where P.T. on the PlayStation left off. While you aren’t in a loop, you’ll get to explore a good variety without repeated assets. For me, the two greatest elements of Silent Hill – specifically the sequel, were the ambiguous story and the soundtrack. While Mirror Forge didn’t display any standout scores (for my tastes), the sound design was fantastic.

In one scene, there’s a little too much talking, and I wasn’t a fan of the voice actors, but other than that, the sound here is as impressive as the visuals – if not more so. As the game will continually point out, you need to listen more and not be deceived by what you see. This was a big problem for me as I tend to play horror games with low volume, in literal fear of shitting myself with jumpscares. That’s an idiotic thing to do here – even if you have subtitles enabled, you need to listen to the ambience throughout to help with problem-solving and exploration.

As mentioned, interacting with objects means something here, and it’s not just about how good it all looks (though it helps!). The use of various mediums in the game, such as photographs and moving images, is sublime. While it’s all very nice to make references to Silent Hill and Stranger Things, there’s an element that has you comparing to the source material a little too much.

In the case of Mirror Forge, it began with “ah yes, this is a bit like those things”, and then you forget. All you care about is getting through the demo unscathed and then working out how many days (months!) it’ll be until this comes out. Utterly compelling, a unique IP and… I can’t wait.