Chasing Static Review

Survival horror games really seemed to hit their stride, and become an important genre, during the PlayStation One era. After all, that’s when they hit the mainstream, thanks to titles like Resident Evil, Resident Evil 2 and Silent Hill, with a number of imitators following. As a fan of the genre, it was a good time to grow up during, and is one I still think back on fondly. This is especially true of the weekend my friend brought his PlayStation over and he, my cousin and I had my mom rent us Resident Evil 2.

Why am I talking about the original PlayStation and classic survival horror games? Well, I just played through a modern take on those, called Chasing Static. It’s something I was sent and asked to review months ago, but a problem with the Xbox Series version prevented me from being able to play it. After that it fell onto the back-burner, until I thought about it and decided to finally play through it today. I wanted to make good on my review, after all, and was curious about the game.

Chasing Static is a first-person and low poly horror experience, which mimics the visuals found in games from the aforementioned era. It looks and plays in dated fashion, but it’s supposed to. Thus, those who are looking for a modern, realistic looking and tight controlling game should look elsewhere.

In this short narrative, the player controls a man named Chris who’s just lost his father and has gone to the nursing home in which he resided in order to fill out forms and pick up any leftover belongings. However, Chris’ dad only had one belonging; that being a notebook where he wrote about strange, cryptic and seemingly paranormal things. When Chris drives away with it, he can’t help but read some of the writings and ends up finding himself at an old cafe shortly afterwards. It’s not long afterwards that things become weird.

It’s kind of hard to explain, but the general gameplay found herein is part walking simulator and part horror game. You’ll venture through different areas, including a maze-like forest, a bunker, a deserted town and the aforementioned cafe, all while using a special gadget to search for whispers of the past. By that, I mean cutscenes featuring the ghosts or energy of other human beings, most of whom seem to have been part of a paranormal task force that had something to do with Chris’ dad. Your main goal, though, will be to pick up items, solve light puzzles of sorts and contain three different sites where the group set up its equipment. To do that you’ll have to dig up graves, find keys and bolt cutters, restore power to electronics and then insert tapes into machines. Based on this, and the fact that Chris references a VCR, it seems like the game also takes place sometime in the 90s, although it’s never really said.

If you’ve played a walking sim before then you’ll have a decent idea of what you’ll be doing here. There’s a lot of walking (or jogging) and picking up items which will help you progress. Some are easier to find than others, and I’ll openly admit that I used a guide. I honestly feel that I would’ve been completely lost had I not, but others may like how obtuse things can be. Sometimes it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack.

There’s basically no combat to be found in Chasing Static, outside of a radio gun that can or cannot be picked up. Its very limited ammunition can be used to shoot three different ghosts who appear at certain points in the campaign, but you don’t have to bother. I didn’t, because the first ghost failed to appear. By not bothering with them I unlocked an ending related to that. This is my way of saying that there are at least a few different endings to be unlocked here, all with their own requirements. Thankfully the story is mostly wrapped up before they come into play, meaning that players won’t miss out on the big reveal if they get the wrong ending. I hope that makes sense.

Needless to say, this is somewhat of a niche game that will not appeal to everyone. Those who grew up during the PS1 era, or simply like this type of game, will likely find Chasing Static of interest, but all should be aware that this is a slow and potentially frustrating game. It’s also one that only lasts between one-and-a-half and three hours, depending on how fast you are and if you use a guide. Then again, if you end up getting really stuck you may spend a lot more time with it.

Is the storyline worth the effort and potential frustration? Unfortunately, the answer to that is no. It’s a strange, obtuse and cryptic narrative that doesn’t set the world on fire or even make great sense. You may get more out of it than I did, but I wouldn’t recommend going into this thing expecting a great story. You’ll likely be disappointed. That said, the storyline is fine and kind of works for the type of odd game that this is. There’s just little depth to it and its characters.

The presentation has already mostly been covered, so I won’t go into too much detail here. This is, after all, a title that is supposed to look, play and sound retro, which it does. The developers did a good job of nailing the era they hoped to return to, and did a fine job with the sound. There are some creepy sound effects, but nothing special or anything that truly stands out. Meanwhile, the voiced dialogue is also serviceable, with mediocre acting at best. Chris has some lines, one or two other characters have some, and you’ll hear voices in the hints of the past you find, not to mention Chris’ memories near the end of the campaign. Some of it is muffled, so the automatic subtitles were appreciated.

Chasing Static isn’t the type of game I would normally buy, but I’m glad I played it. Although I had to use a guide to finish it, and feel like it would’ve been too obtuse otherwise, I had a decent time with it. It’s rough and purposefully dated, but I appreciated what the developers were trying to do. Overall, it’s a decent experience.

This review is based on the Xbox Series S version of the game, which we were provided with.

Chasing Static is a dated game, which will only appeal to a certain type of (likely older) gamer. It's a decent walking sim slash horror experience, but is slow and cryptic, not to mention occasionally obtuse.
Reader Rating0 Votes
The Good Stuff
Stylishly dated
A decent walking sim
Makes you think
The Not-So-Good Stuff
Dated and basic
The story doesn't have a great payoff
Can be obtuse/frustrating