Uncanny Valley is a good title, but it is a bit of a tongue twister if you say it too much, resulting in a fanny or two. There’s nothing wrong with a fanny, as we’ve experienced with Tux and Fanny. Anyways…
An action survival horror indie, you play Tom as he starts a new role as a security guard. If you have aspirations to pursue this career path, be advised on the potential dangers you may face: no respect from your peers, unsociable hours and tedium.
The overweight guard that shows you the ropes is initially welcoming. The moment you don your garb, he’s making passive-aggressive comments about your timekeeping, making snidey comments and getting you to fix the generator when the power goes out. Well, you don’t have to…
Your duty as a security guard in Uncanny Valley is to perform patrols around the floors of Melior Corp., ensuring the building contents are secured. There’s certainly no concern for any staff, such as those doing overtime or making small talk with the receptionist. Wait a minute: where is everyone?
In the early introduction, it’s clear that Tom has some psychological baggage and is experiencing frequent nightmares. Staying awake at night might counter this temporarily, but the advice from your co-worker not to fall asleep might not be the best thing to come out of his mouth.
Uncanny Valley is intentionally ambiguous. Besides fusing some horrid night terrors with the monotonous routine that is your job, you’re pretty much left to work things out yourself. You can hop into the lift during your shift and explore the floors. Initially, you’re a tad nosey (and bored) so look at staff’s emails. Nobody at Melior has had sufficient training in locking their screens.
It’s not obvious that you can scroll through all the emails, and you’ll later find replies to emails you’ve read on another floor from a different terminal. Unfortunately, you can’t jump back and forth to these screens in one go as the in-game time is relatively swift, and there’ll be a notification to say your shift has ended.
If you don’t return to your apartment, conveniently located on-site and seemingly uninhabited at first, you’ll collapse from exhaustion. No dramas as you’ll wake in your bed shortly after waking from another nightmare. This time constraint is irritating as there’s no visible indicator of time other than pressing ‘-‘, and it’s easy to miss meetings with an NPC as you can’t locate the room they said to meet you.
This restriction lifts later, and there’s a bit more freedom to explore, but there’s also more risks involved. Gun-wielding is an option, but think pistol-whipping as there’s a lack of ammo. Then again, you’d best run than attempt to melee any threats. Like most humans, Tom is breakable and should you encounter an injury, it remains and will hamper your pace, perhaps even those options for holding a gun.
There are also puzzles besides the horror element, gun-toting and running (a bit rubbish as he runs out of breath quickly and has no visible stamina gauge). They’re simple but mostly enjoyable, but due to the pixel art approach, it’s a little tricky to see what you’re doing, and as time continues to pass while fumbling about, there’s a chance Tom could collapse mid-puzzle.
I’m not the biggest fan of pixel art, but I liked Cowardly Creation’s approach here and the use of lighting, i.e. lack of. Alas, some of the text is hard to read, and while I appreciate a uniform approach to the visuals, a crisper font would have been better. But that’s not Uncanny Valley’s achilles; it’s the repeat plays.
Multiple endings are up for grabs, but are you going to be able to hold out during these typically short playthroughs? Playing through the same bits repeatedly and receiving a depressing ending might discourage further playthroughs unless you take a detour and look for a walkthrough. That won’t necessarily spoil the narrative element so much as you get to see that early on.
Suffice to say, I’m still grinding away at Uncanny Valley to get a few more endings, or at least one that feels a little more rewarding than death. It won’t change my view of the game any further from y’know, it’s alright... so it’s not one I can actively recommend, nor will I deter you from seeking it out/reading some other opinions on it.