Kraven Manor: Haunted Mansion adventures that leave you asking … why?

As I enter the Manor I greeted by a large and daunting room, a grand staircase at the far side, multiple levels and a strange looking display case in the very centre of the room. I had come here to solve the mysteries of the manor and uncover the truth about what exactly had gone on here but that was soon dashed by the only other living presence in the manor and it intended to keep itself as the ONLY presence in the manor on a n indefinite basis it seems.

Kraven manor is one of those games that for me has so much potential but it just never lives up to what it should have been. This game is fairly old too. I’ve had it in my steam library since it came to steam way back in 2014 and due to my cowardice, it has taken me this long to build up to playing it! (it also helps that due to funding issues I had to delay the dawn of war 3 stuff to do this instead 😃 ) the story follows the adventures of the player character as he investigates the spooky site of Kraven manor, a large estate that saw some weird and tragic happenings not too long ago.

I’m going to keep this short because frankly this game is short, and barely there story wise in my opinion. This is the biggest fault I have with this game, when you arrive in the mansion you don’t know why you’re there other than “I’m here to investigate what happened” that is literally the premise I got from the journal which is kind of like the journal from outlast in that it acts as your notary database for your adventures. As you move through the house you do encounter some books and notes that I imagine are meant to be telling the story of what happened in the manor but you never really get a clear and coherent picture of it. There are bits and pieces that I really liked but overall its rather vague and lacklustre. The game is painfully short too, only an hour and I already harped on Little Nightmares for this issue too, the game does a better job of ending itself compared to little nightmares and Outlast but I would hardly say the end is amazing. It’s not anticlimactic but it’s not the most rewarding I think it could have been. The best part of the story I can give you is the Pursuing threat that follows you throughout the game. It in itself plays a large role in the story and in a few encounters, helps advance the story a little too.

The biggest appeals of this game are obviously its gameplay and environments. The gameplay for the game is fairly standard for a first-person horror game in which you can run around, interact with objects and items and in general operate like a human being would. On top of this you have a flashlight, which gets really important during your adventuress through the Manor. As the Manor is pretty run down and hasn’t been lived in for quite some time almost all the areas in it have little to no lighting, this makes your flashlight rather important. Now the flashlight operates in two ways, in normal mode you have a modern flashlight that holds a long charge but takes a little long to recharge and then you have the nightmare mode flashlight which holds a charge for a shorter time but recharges far quicker. As you explore the manor with your cut price flashlight you’ll encounter what is arguably the best mechanic the game has on offer which is the room mechanic. When you enter the manor, you are first and foremost greeted with an incomplete floor model of the building in a glass case that you rather quickly get access to. The model allows you to swap out which rooms are attached to which doors which I found really cool. Usually these games have a habit of being painfully linear but this allowed me to swap out room on the fly. This allows you to access some secret areas in the game but overall the mechanic is a little wasted in spite of how good it is! Once you’ve been into 90% of rooms in the house you don’t really get a requirement or desire to go back leaving you holding all these room models and having nothing really to do with them which is a shame because the environments in the game are really well done. As you investigate you notice that the developers spent a large amount of time making the lighting, shadows and textures all look great to the point that it really adds to the tone and atmosphere in the game but this is all really for nothing if in a game this short you aren’t really going to pay attention to it again.

The biggest redeeming quality for me in Kraven Manor is the threat that pursues you through the game. Fans of Dr Who will immediately spot its mechanics as being almost identical to that of the weeping angels in that the threat cannot move while the you’re looking at them. This is where the flashlight really comes into play and where the games got real tensions and fear going for me. Each room is a small puzzle. Painfully simple and really only barely qualifying by as a puzzle but they are raised above that by the threat.  Having to think about even a simple puzzle while the bronze mannequin is trying to shorten your life span to zero starts to become really difficult in the heat of the moment. I must admit it does start to get a little repetitive in that you’ll enter the room, the lights will go out and you know that you have to solve the puzzle before your flashlight runs out and without turning around too much. I feel each instance still has an intensity despite this though and even in the end of the game while I wouldn’t say the end is weak it’s not amazing and I still enjoyed it.  The threat doesn’t say anything but you can hear it as it scurries in the dark and you feel afraid of it when the flashlight fails and you are in a sprint around the room till the damn thing comes back on.

Overall Kraven Manor is game with huge potential and plus points that is inevitably let down by its own wasted potential. The environments, sound work and gameplay mechanics are all polished, great to use and even the room switching which is surprisingly made to be so worthless during the games progression is enjoyable. The flashlight and weeping angel threat are a great aspect of this game and bring real tension to situations involving them. All of this is let down by the games disappointing story or really lack thereof a story that I could find and its length. A longer game with a more fleshed out story and more usage of those interesting mechanics that seem to get side-lined and we could see a truly great game here! For the price of £4.79 the guys at Demon Wagon studios are hardy going to pump out a huge AAA game and for the price you can’t complain it’s a cash grab. If you’re into horror games and you enjoy a short fright then I’d get the game which despite its faults is a good little game.

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