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“Fear The Spotlight” SGF: Play Days 2024 Preview


This past weekend, at this year’s Summer Game Fest: Play Days event in Los Angeles, the good people at Cozy Game Pals and Blumhouse Games gave me an opportunity to play their old school, third-person survival horror game Fear The Spotlight, which is coming to PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox X|S, Xbox One, Switch, and PC later this year.

What follows are my impressions of this game.

Fear The Spotlight SGF Play Days 24

In Fear The Spotlight,

you play as a high school kid named Vivian who has snuck into school after hours with her friend Amy. The library has a display celebrating the occult for some weird reason, and Amy wants to use the Ouija board because, unbeknownst to Vivian, Amy feels a mysterious presence following her whenever she walks the school’s hallways.

Now, the interesting thing about Fear The Spotlight is that while the camera and movement controls are modern, as is the sound design, the graphics are totally old school. Like something from the mid-90s, back when the original PlayStation came out (for proof, go play Tomb Raider I-III Remastered Starring Lara Croft with the original visual settings).

In fact, while some games let you adjust the graphics to look or perform better, the options in Fear The Spotlight actually make the game look worse. Or more appropriately, more old school. You can downgrade from 480p to 360p; change the framerate from 60 frames per second or unlocked to 45, 30, or 24; and you can crank up how much the camera and polygons wobble.

As for the demo, it clearly started where the game does, with me and Amy wandering the school’s hallways one night when we’re supposed to be home, doing our homework. Instead, though, we were making our way to the library, where I had to do a bit of exploring to find the keycard that would unlock the library office so I could get the key to the display case where the Ouija board was being kept.

Now, up to this point, Fear The Spotlight played like a typical third-person survival game, in how both the movement and camera controls worked. I had also been told that this game was decidedly more about exploration and situational puzzle solving than combat, which is why I spent a lot of time looking around and touching things that didn’t belong to me.

Fear The Spotlight SGF Play Days 24

Though, apparently,

Fear The Spotlight will also be about stealth action. Just before Amy and I got to the library, we came to a hallway where there was a security camera. Good thing I can crouch down, could see where the camera was looking, and that there was something that occasionally blocked its view.

It was also around this time that I found something that made me think health might work differently in Fear The Spotlight than it does in other survival horror games.

After grabbing the display case keys in the library office, I noticed an inhaler, which Vivian said was hers, she must’ve left it there during her last shift.

I then paused the game to write down that she found an inhaler, and noticed that the pause menu had an image of some lungs. This makes me think Fear The Spotlight isn’t about losing or not losing your health, but rather your breath.

(This was also when I realized that pausing the game didn’t actually pause the game, something I hope they fix before the game comes out. Bad enough you can’t pause when playing a live service game when you play solo; not being able to take a moment to catch your breath when you play something scary just seems cruel.)

Anyway, now that Viv had the display case keys, she used it to retrieve the Ouija board (and to realize the library was kind of half-assing it on the occult stuff).

This was when I realized that Fear The Spotlight sometimes worked like an old school point & click adventure game. For instance, once I unlocked the display case, I then had to click and hold the button to grab the handle, and then move the left thumbstick to the right to slide the door open.

Fear The Spotlight SGF Play Days 24


when looking through the drawers of a file cabinet, I again had to click and hold the handle, then move the left thumbstick downward as if pulling the drawer out.

Thankfully, you don’t have do this when opening regular doors in Fear The Spotlight; they just open when clicked.

Though these kinds of interactions aren’t limited to when you’re opening things or picking things up. After grabbing the Ouija board, and finding where Amy had gotten to, I then used similar controls to light the candles she’d set up, and to hold the planchette (i.e. the thing spirts move on a Ouija board).

And this is where shit got weird. After contacting a spirt, the spirit that had been following Amy around, a spirit that answered the question “Are you dangerous?” by causing the lights to go out, and something to crash loudly, I relight the candles, only to find Amy was gone, and some bookcases had been knocked over.

I then made my way through the dark library — grabbing one of the lit candles helped — and eventually to the exit where Amy was OH MY GOD!!!! DOES THAT GUY HAVE A STAGE LIGHT WHERE HIS HEAD SHOULD BE!?!

That, sadly, was when my time ran out. Not just when shit was getting weird, but also when it was getting good.

Or maybe shitty. No idea. This, after all, was just the first 20-something minutes of the game. Sure, it was scary, and in an atmospheric way. And if what I saw, and was told, holds up, this will be decidedly more Silent Hill-ish than, say, Dead Space and especially Resident Evil 4.

We’ll just have to wait…

until Fear The Spotlight comes out for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox X|S, Switch, PC later this year to find out.



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