Crow Country is a survival horror game aiming for nostalgia with it’s vintage aesthetic but did it hit its mark?

Crow Country is a British survival horror game from SFB Games whom you may know from the sensational puzzle game Snipperclips.

With nostalgia in mind, and Crow Country’s obvious desire to harken back to the 90s I was initially charmed by the low res filter over the game. I’m by no means a graphical snob, in the traditional sense, I don’t expect or neccsialy always want photo realistic visuals, a strong art style can charm me more than the ‘best looking graphics’. A prime example of this would be “Othercide” it’s tri-colour pallet and gothic design make it one of the best looking games I’ve ever played. 

Crow Country however, looks childish, the low res textures and one thing and I understand what the developers were aiming for but it’s the character models that really took me out of the game on a very consistent basis. Mara (the player character) looks like a knock off Playmobil character after your little sister has done her make up with felt tip pens. I don’t think it’s a bad design per say, but it doesn’t fit the horror aesthetic at all. 

It’s a great shame as the game might not look like much but stone the flaming crows does it sound good. The soundtrack is haunting and builds tension really well, as does the level design and constrained tight in camera, although we do have the luxury of being able to rotate the camera. The music is perfect blend of childish theme park glee with an undertone of you’ll never make it out alive. Crows Country feels claustrophobic and there’s a mystery at the heart of the horror and it certainly kept me playing well past the point that I’d been put off by the character models. 

I don’t think Jill needs to worry about her place as horrors sweetheart.

While my comments about Mara aren’t overly flattering some of the enemies you’ll face in the game have a ‘wrongness’ to them that even with the overall art style still come across as deeply unsettling, it would be these foes I’d break the cardinal rule of survival horror for and often shoot them on basic principle, ammo levels be dammed. 

While Mara and some other character models may not look up to much boy does it hit the mark dead-on with it’s gameplay. There are a few weapons in the game but as with all classic survival horror you always have an uneasy sense of being under equipped. It’s health system is so close to resident evil that I’m shocked Capcom weren’t on the phone to SFB Games. It’s not a criticism, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. The Crow Country theme park itself looks fantastic and each area of the park has a distinct feel and design, my favourite being the Witchwood and it’s eerie hedge maze. 

I don’t know what this is…but it’s dead now.

The back tracking, puzzle solving and general sense of unease area all brilliantly executed and while it’s not a long game (although it’s good value for the games RRP) there were some moments that broke the tension and are me chuckle, although I’m not sure they were intended to, but I found getting killed by a falling light fixture in the middle of a maze hilarious. Puzzles are what you’d expect if you’re familiar with the genre, different colour keys for matching locks, key codes written in blood for a door you what find for hours and random items that aren’t really connect but somehow make sense, while none of the are overly mentally taxing I did find them rewarding and enjoyable for the most part…still not sure why a swan needs a jewel in it’s mouth though. 

Crow Country isn’t going to have you sleeping with the lights on or deciding it’s actually okay to play horror games in the day time after all but it manages to conjure a sense of unease that if I’m being honest, I found rather enjoyable. Crow Country left me feeling oddly cosy and nostalgic with it’s homage to one of gamings most time altered genres, for that alone, it deserves your attention. 

Damm right we did!