First off, let's rewind the clock some 4-5 years backwards. Yume Nikki
was just released by Kikiyama. In it's wake, a cult following was formed; created from the gamers who became fans of it's twisted, creepy, and downright fucked-up setting, characters, and overall design. Since my initial playthrough, as well as my 3-4 replays afterward, I was left wanting more. Not more as in a game that transports you to a dream world where you're left to navigate your way through seemingly endless rooms to find "Effects" that will help your search through other endless rooms. I wanted more as in a new game that could offer up the same bone-chilling experiences I've had playing Yume Nikki. Thankfully, Au Sable came along and gave me what I wanted.
Amon Desiree is the man behind Au Sable, a puzzle(I use that term loosely) platformer which is named after a ghost town
in Michigan. You play as a young woman on a search for Harmonia, who has gone missing in the ghost town. On your search, you are accompanied with two haunting eyes of a memory, which can be used to open gates and solve puzzles. This is only Amon's second game, his first being All Our Friends Are Dead
, and this really shows in both his efforts, as Amon is no master programmer. You will encounter many glitches, bugs, and maybe even a crash or two while playing either game. But what he lacks in a technical aspect, he shines through on an atmospheric level with Au Sable. The world he creates is dreary, leaving you with a sense of hopelessness and anxiety. There are also many things that occur during playing that will seem like the side effect of a hallucinogenic drug. You can be instantly transported to a new area, or the stage around you can crumble to the ground with not even a hint of when it will happen. Sure, for the most part it's a linear experience, but you will never know what to expect next.
When you first boot up the game, you will find yourself in what looks to be a ghost town. Seems like fair ground for a horror game, no? This all changes though as you progress deeper into the village, and you are confronted with a creature that should bare no existence in what you know of the in-game world up to that point. Then suddenly, your screen turns red, and you're back where you always were. Nothing changed, except now you're able to progress further. Was the creature you saw just now real? It's hard to say, but then you start to cross paths with mutilated bodies, Chupacabre-esque demons, and unholy abominations that seem to have been morphed together from a patchwork of human bodies. This is where a large sense of uneasiness is formed in Au Sable, through Amon's designs for the enemies, backdrops, and the variously organic machine inhabitants of Au Sable that make up the cast of his game. The way they move, react, or interact with you, gives off a very creepy feeling, not unlike the feeling you would get facing off with one of the characters from Yume Nikki
This is all backed up, of course, by a truly masterful soundtrack by Amon himself. To say all the various clips and effects he created to take part in his game is fitting would be a huge
understatement. Amon perfectly captures the mood he is trying to convey with what's happening to your character while traversing through the ghost town, from the ear-splitting shrill that accompanies a hallucinogenic effect to the high-pitched cry from your character as she is mutilated by a demon. The music and effects play a very important role in Au Sable, as it really sets the tone for the game. This is also another thing that makes me very reminiscent of Yume Nikki, as the music for that game really helped express a sense of extreme anxiety for me. I was always afraid of what might happen next, and I get the same feeling while playing through Au Sable.
Now, I'm no macho man when it comes to anything that would be categorized as horror. In fact, I'll be the first to say that I'm a huge pussy when it comes to anything horror-related. To give an example, I can't even play a Resident Evil game without all the lights on, and most of the time, someone has to be in the room with me. That's just how I am. So to veterans of the genre, this might not be as scary for you as it was for me, but I still implore you to give it a try. If nothing else, play it for the freak-out hallucinations and the great setting. For everyone else, stay around to shit a few bricks.
Download Au Sable
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