As a fan of horror games, I’d been pretty excited about DreadOut. The demo that was released on IndieDB last year scared me pretty good, and outlined a solid approach to scares the likes of which we haven’t seen since Fatal Frame on the PlayStation 2.
I hadn’t caught wind of an actual release date, so imagine my surprise when I noticed it pop up on Steam earlier this week as a new release. I anxiously picked it up, but it turns out that the release was actually in error:
Wait, did I say lucky? That doesn’t sound right. I actually feel a bit suckered.
I’ve given the game a playthrough. It’s creepy. The atmosphere is very effective, and the scare factor is intact. Most of the puzzles were pretty obscure and took some time to solve, but I got there eventually. By eventually, I mean the game was over in three hours.
Three hours isn’t always bad for a horror game, though, right? True, but the vast majority of these three hours was spent in the same abandoned school location, roaming around the same four hallways trying to figure out the few puzzles it contained. One such sequence had me running around baffled for an hour and a half until I figured it out nearly at random.
If I had solved that puzzle in a reasonable amount of time, I could’ve finished in a couple of hours. Knowing the solutions, I could easily run through in about 45 minutes or so.
Suffice it to say that DreadOut is a short game, and I paid $13.49 for it. That already feels like a steep cost for such a fleeting experience, but then I noticed this on the game’s Steam store page:
This is only Act 1. Act 2 is to be released as DLC. This strongly suggests that the game isn’t finished, yet it’s being released anyway. Worse, it suggests that buyers could be charged again for the finished game.
$13.49 isn’t an impossible pill to swallow for an Act 1 if it means that Act 2 will be added at no cost upon completion. But the fact that this note says it “will be released in the form of a DLC” and does not say that it will be at no additional cost (the way that Double Fine’s Broken Age is careful to point out), makes it seem like a deceptive way for the developer to disclose that buying this title doesn’t actually give you the whole game. If this proves true, that’s some crap. This game is listed as “DreadOut,” not “DreadOut: Act 1.” It’s not an Early Access title. It’s being sold as a full release.
I’m really hoping that this ambiguous note will be clarified soon to reveal that Act 2 will be a free update for current buyers. If that’s not the plan, then Digital Happiness have plenty of time to change their minds. Let’s hope they do.