The Polish indie studio Harvester Games took part The Cat Lady already proved in 2012 that it does not shy away from explicit depictions of violence or from complex stories with unpleasant themes. Almost exactly ten years later, what was originally planned as a sequel to The Cat Lady is now appearing Burnhouse Lanein which the Michalski-brothers tell the story of nurse Angie Weather, who is suffering from cancer. They have made a decent step forward, especially graphically. But what exactly is it about?
|One of the game’s seven chapters doesn’t skimp on satanic symbols.|
Death as a constant companion
Right at the beginning of the game you are confronted with your inevitable fate. Cancer has won the battle against you, you only have six months to live. So you take a rope, tie it to a wooden beam in your small apartment, climb onto a chair, put the noose around your neck and jump.
Or maybe not? Was that just in your head? As soon as you regain your sanity, you find yourself on a farm. Your agency sent you here to work as a stand-in caretaker for the elderly owner of the estate. So you move into a small room in the house and go about your work. Until one day you hear strange noises in the basement of the house. Attracted by this, you enter a mysterious passageway that leads you to the eponymous Burnhouse Lane. In this parallel world that is not entirely random Silent Hill remembered, you will meet a huge, half-burned cat that promises you a cure for your cancer. All you have to do is solve a few tasks for them…
At least from here the story picks up speed. Your impending death, but also the clinging to a possible healing, determine your actions from now on. In doing so, you have to constantly question yourself as to whether what you have experienced can only be ascribed to your dying mind. You’ll have to deal with serial killers, rapists, monsters and all sorts of other unpleasant creatures, but you’ll also have to return to your job as a nurse and make sandwiches for your host. How the story continues and ends now depends on you.
|The spots where you run through the forest as a cat are at their best reminiscent of games like limbo or Inside.|
Familiar perspective and controls with a new twist
If you have Harvester Games titles like the aforementioned The Cat Lady or Lorelay played, you will find your way around Burnhouse Lane immediately. The action takes place in the entire game from a side view and is therefore somewhat reminiscent of silhouette films or a doll’s house. You move Angie either with the gamepad or keyboard to the left or right, sometimes also up or down stairs, and interact with the highlighted hotspots by pressing a button. Your inventory can also be accessed via a hotkey and, in addition to the items you have found, will also show you your current tasks and your special abilities that you will unlock in the course of the game. All of this serves to solve puzzles and advance in the story.
But the action is not neglected either: As soon as you have to face your demons in the truest sense of the word, you defend yourself with weapons such as an axe, pistol or shotgun. Due to the shortage of ammunition and the deadly opponents, survival horror flair comes up. In some passages you can also control your furry friends on four paws. As a cat, you can’t fight, but you can run fast and dare long jumps.
|At certain points you can use your previously learned but limited “cat skills”. Here Angie will force her interlocutor to answer her question truthfully.|
Your decisions have consequences
Like an adventure playbook, the story will take a slightly different course as a consequence of your actions. What do you do when your friend is attacked by an all-powerful killer? Will you save your skin or will you risk your life to help him? Do you make friends with the arrogant actress or the gun-loving shepherd? How far would you go to save your own life?
Whenever Angie sees an ashtray, you can save your game there while smoking. By now it should be clear where her lung cancer is coming from. Unfortunately, there is only one saved game, which is a pity, especially considering the aforementioned forks in the story. You should still make frequent use of the save function, because one wrong move in combat encounters can lead to a quick screen death.
|As time goes on, your experiences become more and more bizarre.|
Burnhouse Lane surprised me in a number of ways. It is by far the prettiest game from Harvester Games so far, shines with an extremely exciting production and, with twelve hours of playtime, is a very decent length for an indie game. I even found the platform and combat passages to be successful. So there is a clear recommendation from me, but you should have a soft spot for horror stories and no problem with brutal depictions of violence and the treatment of unpleasant topics.
The diversions within the multiple-choice conversations and your possible decisions create a certain replayability that can even increase your playtime. Unfortunately there is no German version, so you have to make do with English texts and English voice output with good soundtracks.
- Psychological horror genre mix for PC
- single player
- For beginners to professionals
- Price: 12.49 euros on Steam
- In one sentence: An unembellished story of illness and death, but also friendship and hope