When looking around Steam recently, I came across a new survival horror game called Astray, and decided it looked good enough to pick up for the low asking price ($6.99 as of this article). The game was released on February 3, 2015 by an indie group called Aegon Games. So, what do I think about this one?
Astray appears to be set in January 1909 and involves the unnamed player going into the English countryside to visit his uncle’s “museum for the supernatural” to find out why no one has heard from him in several weeks. As you might suspect, things aren’t going all that well when you arrive, and you must embark on a mission to locate your uncle and deal with a more sinister, unknown evil. The museum idea is pretty well thought out in the initial portion of the game; the player has to explore three themed exhibits (Atlantis, Egypt, and Demonography) to solve a series of (relatively easy) puzzles in order to obtain the keys required to open a large locked door in the museum’s main hall. Along the way, various notes and journal entries are discovered that provide a growing understanding of what’s really going on.
I found, however, that most of the puzzles were fairly easy to solve and, if the player should happen to get stuck, reading various clues located nearby practically gave the solution away in most cases. The harder puzzles in the game seem to be more physics related, and the couple of times I got “stuck” (stuck being used generously, as in reality I was only lost for a few moments or so at most) it was simply because I was over-thinking things a bit.
Once the three keys are obtained, there’s one more major themed area the player will explore (a planetarium) before proceeding to the final areas of the game. Thus, the game is rather short, able to be completed in around two hours. Also, although the game does a good job of providing an atmosphere of unease and uncertainty, there’s only one main threat in the game, and it’s very easy to avoid it. Although you may be in for a bit of a scare when first encountering it in the (spoiler?!) Demonography section, the suspense will wear off by the next few times you come across it.
At the end of the day, the game is a good first attempt. I’d like to see more exhibits added (maybe a second or third door that requires keys to unlock), because I feel that the game excels at the puzzle side of things more than anything else, so I hope that one day they either add more to the game or take some of these ideas and make a much more expansive sequel or successor.
Meanwhile, you can get the game for $6.99 via Steam if you’re interested. I also suggest you watch my two-part playthrough (included in this review) so you can see how the game handles for yourself!