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Clea was released on Xbox One and Nintendo Switch just in time for our recent spooky season, during the season for all things scary we crave a taste of horror. Whether it be horror films, books or games what better way to settle into the autumn nights than with the scary 2D Stealth Horror Game Clea on Nintendo Switch. In a similar vein to games like Resident Evil and Lone survivor, you must explore, find clues and survive. 
Clea is a survival horror game that boasts no jump scares. Brought to us from indie developer Invert Mouse and published via Sekai Games on Nintendo Switch. Initially released on Steam back on 10th July 2019, this year the game received its console port for Xbox on 23rd October. Subsequently the Nintendo Switch port released 30th October just in time for some Halloween scares. Let’s get stuck in! 

This twisted tale begins with Clea waking to find her brother Ed is her only remaining companion. Clea certainly is a strange girl with an even stranger family, which must make for interesting family reunions. Left with no explanation for the disappearance of their loved ones, Clea and Ed must search the manor in search of clues while avoiding the monsters that lurk within. All is not as it seems as Clea’s parents have been keeping secrets from Clea. Eventually these secrets will come to light through books and journal entries found over the game’s chapters.
The reasons slowly become clear including why the relentless Chaos Servants and hellish beasts now roam Whitlock Manor’s halls. If this wasn’t creepy enough the demonic twin known as the War Maiden taunts Clea as the story progresses. As the story slowly unravels, it gives just enough to keep you invested. 

I wish for the monsters to go away!

Gameplay of Clea is relatively simple, the controls are easy to grasp which for a game that relies heavily on stealth is a blessing. Sneaking around in this game is a must, haste will not aid you in avoiding the attention of the snarling Chaos Servants. Consequently, being spotted or even the sound of Clea’s footsteps will draw them into a pursuit. The very core of this game is very much the classic survival horror trope to search, solve puzzles and escape. 

Spread over six chapters Clea will have you navigating the Whitlock Manor in search of keys, items and switches to progress through the levels.  Additionally, the puzzles although not complicated certainly gave a Resident Evil feel to this 2D horror. From sequences that need to be remembered to open certain doors, finding items and pieces of a key to combine all added a point-and-click feel which translated quite well on Nintendo Switch. 

Sneaking around looking for cake.

Clea manages to maintain gameplay throughout a sense of constant pursuit, which kept the tension high whilst I tried to navigate and solve puzzles. The Chaos Servants and other creepy beasts are a constant threat which Clea offered no respite.
Each level the snarling pursuers are constantly in search of a victim which can at times feel more a hindrance to gameplay progression. As they got closer their snarls and laboured breathing really ramped up the fear factor. Coupled with the increasingly louder footsteps and snarls, an intense heartbeat pulsing as they became unbearably close. Take note that Clea plays best when wearing headphones. In doing so this not only added to the game’s terror making the game feel more atmospheric, it also makes it easier to pinpoint enemies. Nothing screams terror like hearing a Chaos Servant breathing down your neck. 

I think he’s a bit lost looking for the bathroom, or maybe a blood bath?

Sneaking past the antagonists roaming the halls and being able to check if they are behind doors can ensure survival. The ability to be able to see through a keyhole or check ahead in the halls won’t save you from their clutches. The only way to truly escape the Chaos Servant’s clutches is to run and hide in the nearest wardrobe. Remembering where they are is crucial to ensure survival. Items that aid you in repelling the beasts are few and far between and must be used wisely. Other creepy creatures roam the halls as well and must be dealt with a certain way. For example, the Chaos Spiders in the second chapter must be looked at to be repelled, the cost of not being careful results in death. 

Finders keepers!

The distribution of cakes throughout the manor is concerning, who really needs that much cake!? Jokes aside save points are few and far between, in a similar vein to Resident Evil. However instead of a typewriter the game used cakes, in reference to the intro cutscene. You may find yourself returning to the same save point, which can be frustrating. I learned the hard way multiple times from previous mistakes where I got caught, losing important progress. 

It’s like looking into a mirror, a cracked broken mirror.

Visually the game has a paper doll feel to it, its simplicity gives Clea an almost a story book feel. This shows in Clea’s design and storytelling aspects as Invert Mouse; an indie developer who initially created visual novel games. The style translates really well into a 2D survival horror. In essence bringing something different from the usual gritty horrors, polished graphics or pixel heavy titles of the same genre. 

The character designs have an anime feel that although cute doesn’t detract from the games dark atmosphere. The detailed characters stand out on the simpler background of the game. The backgrounds and foregrounds although simple doesn’t distract attention from the dark themes presented in Clea. Although presented in a 2D side scrolling format the game has some dimension. The perspective and clever use of foreground to create depth visually and help stop the game from falling flat visually. 

As previously mentioned before, the in game sounds truly add to the game’s atmospheric terror. Rather than jump scares the clever use of audio fills makes each twist and turn filled with anticipation and a sense of dread. The game really shines when played with headphones, for the sole purpose of full emersion into this twisted tale.
As demonstrated when the Chaos Servants approach with footsteps, snarls and eventually a pulsing heartbeat that fills your ears. Sound is an important tool in this game, it’s important to be able to tell which direction and how close an enemy is to be able to progress. Needless to say, the game likes to keep you on your toes. However, without the aid of headphones the audio does fall flat losing an integral sense of tension. 

Clea or the War Maiden?

Overall Clea on Nintendo Switch is an enjoyable game, and a pretty solid debut into the world of 2D survival horror for Invert Mouse. How the naïve Clea was unaware of the suspicious motives of her parents is still beyond me. Once you look past this though the story telling aspect of the game shines through, a testament to Invert Mouse’s previous visual novel games. Story telling really is the strong point of this game even if progress at times will feel slow. The unrelenting pursuit from the enemies makes progress harder. But persistence rewards the player as the tale gradually reveals more juicy tidbits. 

I wouldn’t say this was an easy game to complete it certainly was a challenge. The relentless enemies lead to frustrating and almost impassable situations that took a lot of patience to work past. This meant a lot of backtracking to avoid enemies which did drag the gameplay out a bit. I found this led to a bit of frustration when I just wanted to progress in the story. Because of this the enemies soon become more hindrance rather than an impending threat. Regardless of the minor gripes I had Clea is still a solid game with a great atmosphere for fans of survival horror. A must play for fans of Indie survival horror. 

I’ve been Rachel and this has been my review for Gamerhub. If you’ve enjoyed what you have read today or want to learn more about Gamerhub and keep up to date with our latest news and reviews do give us a follow on Facebook or Twitter.

If you would like to purchase Clea for Nintendo Switch this can be purchased from the eShop for £13.49. 

A review copy for Nintendo Switch was kindly provided for the purposes of this review. Thank you!