24 people found this review helpful
4 people found this review funny
0.0 hrs last two weeks / 1.3 hrs on record
Posted: Oct 30, 2015 @ 8:25pm

I LOVE games that open with a dumb little disclaimer. It either means they don't actually take themselves seriously, or they take themselves SO seriously that you shouldn't bother to. Blackbay Asylum is the former sort, mashing top-down and first-person adventure gaming together with a liberal sprinkling of incredibly silly design. There's a lot of humor to be found here... which clashes more and more with the game itself the further in you get.

You play as... um... I think his name is Doug? I'm not entirely sure because it's never consistent, but he's a 6'8" mass murderer with a teddy bear and a soft side. My take is that you're not really supposed to sympathize with or revile him, just laugh along with him. And that's easy, because he has a ton of genuinely funny lines while examining the many hotspots of the asylum. I knew we were going to get along fine when he found someone ripped in half and shoved into a bookshelf, and said "That's why I don't read."

Most of the game is played from a top-down perspective, with you leading Doug around the grim halls to examine things, collect items, solve puzzles, and maybe figure out why demons have ripped everyone else to pieces. The puzzles are generally very clear and well thought-out, though the top-down perspective can make it very hard to spot key elements on walls, or odd objects on tables or floors. I had a tricky time locating a puzzle box in one office because it looked like a tablecloth. Of course, if you just click on everything it'll be less of an issue, which you should to get more of Doug's musings.

While the tone of the text is firmly tongue-in-cheek, the aesthetic is not and only gets darker. Flayed bodies are everywhere, and the demons get creepier and more startling the further in you get. The third chapter actually shifts things to first-person and ups the spooks pretty hard, with some corpse jumpscares, a lantern segment, and a gauntlet of horrors. Bear in mind that this all comes immediately after being eaten and pooped out of a giant monster. It starts to get weirdly whiplashy, alternating between goofy lines from Doug and Unity horror tropes.

There's a certain trashy charm to Blackbay Asylum, not quite as fully endearing as something like Splatter, but probably unique enough to keep you on board if you know what to expect. The exploring and puzzling is good as long as you're a little meticulous about it, and whether you're in for the laughs or the spooks, you're going to get something you're looking for.
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