From the cute, regimental Flying Soldiers to the artistic Naught, then the world of noir in Timothy vs the Aliens and its successor, it’s no surprise that WildSphere has tried something new once more with Oxide: Room 104.
It’s as if they’re willing to experiment in any genre, so, with that in mind, it will be interesting if the team make a point and click adventure next, or perhaps a simulator? What matters now, however, is a survival horror that pays homage to a good selection of titles, but is it good enough to stand out from those it potentially emulates?
Silent Hill 2 immediately comes to mind, but from this first-person perspective, it’s more on par with Silent Hill 4: The Room (massively underrated, in my opinion), as it shares that repetitive process infused with puzzles and with subtle changes along the way. I must stress that repetition might seem negative, but that’s not the case here, as each ‘run’ is slightly different. Maybe we’re getting ahead of ourselves?
The protagonist in Oxide: Room 104 is Matthew. He wakes in a motel bathtub, naked and wounded. Usually, a dead hooker and powder trail would indicate a bit of a bender, but seeing ‘Matt’ painted in blood on the wall is where it kicks off. It’s the epitome of a bad motel, especially when the bath salts are rusted. How do I know this? Matt incessantly talks all the way through the game. After managing to get out of the room, I’m attracted to a centipede, reach out and then BOOM! death by poisoning.
Aha, but death is not the end in Oxide: Room 104, as you’ll have an appendage cut off and then ‘back in the game’ to escape it. Yes, I’m trying to be somewhat ambiguous for fear of spoilers, but let’s say that having to restart seems like a bummer. However… now items are located in different places, and perhaps you can speed through a section that was causing you problems? Now that you have a gun, no one will mess with you. Right? Right?
This is an escape room game but much more accessible as the puzzles are a bit more intuitive than dedicated games. Besides, that gun is there for a purpose, as you may need to shoot your way out. The initial enemies are a little like the nurses in SH2, and the body horror aspect reminded me of Resident Evil 7 (only just played it!), and that’s a compliment, of course. Throughout each area will be clues as to what is going on. Who’s Eva? Doc? Where are my pants? Though I said death is not the end, that only applies so much. Oxide: Room 104 has multiple endings (not unlocked them all yet), and you can get a rough ending if you keep cocking it up.
It doesn’t take great advantage of the PS5’s capabilities, and considering Timothy’s Night DualSense features, all you get here are trigger QTEs. These are bells and whistles, but the obvious aspect is it didn’t look like a PS5 game. The textures and lighting are excellent, but the main models look a little rough around the edges, and looking at the promotional images has never really stood out since this was first announced. That said, the environment was great and considering that Oxide: Room 104 is a short game, it does a great job when you know how (like Silver Chains).
My issue was with the voice actor. They’re as believable as a unicorn snorting angel dust off rocking horse shit. It was so ridiculously out of place that it utterly spoiled the otherwise excellent atmosphere, I muted all voiceovers for the remainder of the game. Matt doesn’t sound remotely scared, and, to some degree, it almost felt like it was a bit of trolling. Reading the text was fine. I don’t get how it was used in the end product – it’s as if the actor didn’t know what they were recording as so out of context. Subjective perhaps, and no doubt the actor would be best suited to other roles, but it was the wrong choice, in my opinion.
So, the biggest issue could be corrected in the settings, so that doesn’t mean Oxide: Room 104 is all that bad, eh? On the contrary, I think it’s a decent indie horror you need to try out. There’s a decent balance of puzzle and action, and naturally, those first few playthroughs make it all worthwhile so that you might just be able to get the ending where you don’t die. If that’s possible. Though this is their first array into horror, WildSphere has managed to delve into another genre with success, and is arguably their best game so far.