Dread X Collection Review (Featuring Reviews For All 10 Games)

Dread X Collection Review (Featuring Reviews For All 10 Games)

What do you get when you bring together 10 of the most well-known and respected Indie horror developers for 7 nights to each develop “the P.T. for the horror project of their dreams?”

The Dread X Collection, released in May 2020, seeks to answer that question by providing the player with 10 unique, but equally horrifying experiences. The collection was created by 10 extremely talented indie developers.

Given the large range of titles in this collection, it seems only fair to judge them as individual entries. This of course includes individual scores. All scores use a percentage, with the highest being 100%. Think of 100% as 10/10, with 70% being 7/10, and so on.

SUMMER NIGHT – Airdorf

Story

The first game we’ll be looking at is SUMMER NIGHT, developed by Airdoft, who’s most commonly known for his major 2017 release FAITH, which is centred and inspired around the “Satanic Scare” of the 1980s.

Story-wise this game is fairly simple, as is the case with a large proportion of the titles presented in the collection. Before entering into the game, a short intro card is available for the player to read which presents them with the inspiration behind each title.

In SUMMER NIGHT’s case, the main inspiration derives from the idea of suddenly feeling uncomfortable for no apparent reason besides the fact “you just realize that it’s been far too long since you checked if there was anyone behind you.”

Gameplay

The game initially presents itself as a Tiger LCD Handheld Horror Game and plays exactly as you’d expect, with your character being confined to a 2×3 portion of the screen. Your main aim is to collect as many mushrooms as possible (and in some cases stars) per round.

Various other gameplay mechanics are introduced as you progress through the levels on the device, with the introduction of monkeys that block your path. There are also one-eyed mushroom Yokai that appear alongside collectible mushrooms that’ll damage the player if they do not back away quickly, and much more.

Approaching the end of the title the player’s handheld will run out of battery and the player is presented with a whole new gameplay mechanic, in which they take control of the individual playing the game as they go to search for batteries. This is all whilst being hunted down by a ghostly entity.

Graphics

The game presents itself as a 2D pixelated handheld and does so really well. The adaptation of horror imagery into this style is done really well and the difference in the level of detail for the horrific creatures, as opposed to the fairly basic looking character model, only adds to the eeriness of the experience.

Music and Audio

Whilst the title itself is visually disturbing, it’s elements of the sound design where this title shines. What this game lacks in music it makes up for in ambience. Upon loading up the game, the title screen prompts the player to play this game whilst wearing a set of headphones.

Throughout the initial stages of the gameplay, the audio design takes full advantage of headphones, as on occasion it will implement sounds such as the knocking on a door or the footsteps of someone behind you in an attempt to make the whole game feel audibly uncomfortable.

This coupled with the stark and disturbing visuals that present themselves helps create a disturbing and eerie horror experience that everyone with an interest should check out.

Summary

Overall SUMMER NIGHT creates an intense and spooky atmosphere that keeps the player constantly on edge. Along with the fantastic sound design, the visuals of the title create a mood and atmosphere that can at times feel downright disturbing and will have you constantly looking over your shoulder. I give this title a score of 90%.

Hand of Doom – Torple Dook

Story

Hand of Doom is a retro-inspired horror dungeon crawler created by Torple Dook, most known for Earl’s Day Off. The story follows an unnamed character who has been captured and trapped within an arcane realm by a dark sorcerer known only as ‘Master.’

Gameplay

The general gameplay of the title is fairly basic, with your movement and direction being controlled by the WASD keys. Your mouse, on the other hand, is used to control the side panel of your screen, which offers you a range of words that can be mixed and matched to perform various incantations.

Whilst journeying through the area you’ll interact with various objects and NPCs, who will offer you clues and insight as to how to beat the game. Their clues will lead you to various items and areas that will, in effect, progress the story, which if followed correctly only lasts around 20 minutes.

Graphics

The game itself is inspired from the early-90s style first-person adventure games, and it’s only fair that the graphical elements of the game would compliment this. The overall landscape is presented in a 3D plain with pixelated 2D sprites being used for interactive objects and NPCs.

Audio and Music

Keeping with the theme of early-90s first-person adventure games, the music presented in this game utilises the midi style of composition that was commonplace for the time. This coupled with the sound design adds to the charm and eerie horror that titles from that time period seemed to invoke.

Summary

Hand of Doom provides a simple but effective narrative with easy-to-understand and interesting gameplay. There are certainly elements of horror at play but overall the experience is one of mystery and intrigue. Everything works incredibly well together and the game is extremely well made, so I’m giving it a score of 80%.

Shatter – Lovely Hellplace

Story

Shatter is one of the games I was most looking forward to playing, as it captured my eye when viewing the trailers for the collection the most.

Created by Lovely Hellplace, the story takes place in a dystopian future where Britain has become a backwater country. In this new Britain, many, if not all of the inhabitants are compelled to follow and obey AI overlords that are only visible by those who connect themselves to the internet through implants.

The game itself shows great promise with the ability for it to be made into a much longer, more fledged-out title.

Gameplay

Shatter’s control scheme, much like the previously mentioned titles, is again fairly simple. It utilizes the WASD keys for movement, Shift for sprinting which incorporates a stamina bar, and the left mouse click for interacting with items and doors in the world.

Some of these factors, like sprint, can be upgraded in-game through an optional side quest, but overall, the simple control scheme is merely present to allow the player to explore and experience probably the best narrative out of all the games in this collection.

Graphics

In terms of graphics in this title, Shatter utilizes the resurfacing art style of low poly titles, similar to those shown in recent successes, such as the retro FPS title DUSK. The bright vibrant colours of the AIs in the game lend themselves well to the disconnected reality they live in, as they oversee a dull, dark, and dreary desecrated Britain.

Audio and Music

Shatters musical composition fits the tone of the world fantastically and really sells the idea of a post-apocalyptic style world that has been ravaged by AI overlords. There is little to no audio design outside of that, and for most titles, I would say that’s a bad thing, but in Shatter’s case, it allows the player to really focus on the musical score and visuals.

Summary

Whilst Shatter certainly has its eerie moments, the game thrives due to its rich narrative and ability to leave the play wanting more. Whilst there is very little effort the player has to put into completing the game, it is definitely a testament to what can be achieved in just one week. As such I give this game a score of 80%.

The Pony Factory – David Szymanski

Story

Developed by David Szymanski, most known for his work on the hit retro FPS DUSK. The Pony Factory is a gritty horror first-person shooter in which a madman has transformed the inhabitants of a town into ponies in an attempt to raise their mood.

Sadly things didn’t go to plan, and he instead created a garish horde of monsters which the player must shoot their way through.

Gameplay

Armed with a torch/flashlight, this game operates like any standard first-person shooter, and that’s by no means a criticism given the time constraints. It would be hard to imagine that David didn’t take some inspiration from the controversial DOOM 3 given his design choice to have the player switch between their weapon and torch without an option to hold both.

This mechanic lends itself very well to the horror of the game, and forces the player to pay more attention to their surroundings. What initially maybe a well-lit area under torchlight can soon become pitch black with only the fire of your weapon to point out where enemies are hiding.

Graphics

The graphics in this game are really well done and there were no issues I ran into whilst playing. The game is visible only in black and white, but this deliberate design choice promotes the horror of the game and makes the already monstrous-looking creatures appear only more hideous and disturbing.

Audio and Music

This game is a masterclass in audio design. Like most horror titles, The Pony Factory utilises the world around it to create a dreary and disturbing setting. The sound of flickering lights, doors slamming, and growls of monsters in the distance add to the horror.

One thing that fit its first-person aspect of the game quite well is that the monsters will give off an audible audio cue before attacking the player. This lets the player know they’ve been spotted. Overall though the audio plays in tandem with the visuals to create a truly horrifying experience.

Summary

Anyone who has played and is a fan of the majority of David Szymanski’s titles will get something out of this. The game looks and sounds stunning, with it making me jump on more than one occasion. The gunplay, whilst simplistic, is brilliantly executed and is one of the most developed games in the bundle. As such I give it a score of 90%.

Don’t Go Out – Secret Cow Level

Story

Created by Secret Cow Level, this title opens on the premise that we always hear the stories of survivors but never of the dead. Besides that, the story is otherwise non-existent as you attempt to survive the night in a turn-based horror survival game.

Gameplay

The gameplay is fairly simple and operates like the majority of turn-based strategy games offering the player a set number of choices they can make per turn.

Gameplay includes the ability to move your characters, interact with varying objects, and use randomly assigned cards to make your way to safety whilst being pursued by two demonic monsters and an ever-growing deadly parasite.

Graphics

Art styles wise the game is presented as a pixelated horror adventure, meaning all characters and enemies are 2D pixelated sprites. There are no bugs or glitches on the graphics end that I ran into and the game will run flawlessly on any operating system.

Audio and Music

Audio doesn’t venture past the expected audio cues of opening a door, the growling of a monster, or the sound of the player’s footsteps. Music-wise the game plays a consistent 8-bit track on loop with no variation, but this in and of itself adds to the charm and style the game is going for.

Summary

For fans of turn-based strategy, this is certainly nothing special, but for those not too familiar with the genre, it can pose various challenges for new players. The game presents itself beautifully and presents interesting mechanics along the player’s journey. For those reasons I’ve scored the game at 75%.

Carthanc – Scythe Dev Team

Story

Carthanc is created by the Scythe Dev Team.  Set in the future, you take control of Allison Graven who is a “space archaeologist” of sorts. She is investigating an ancient tomb on a described “dead planet.”

Outside of gameplay we learn that Allison is currently going through divorce proceedings with her husband Mathew, but this plays no real bearing on the gameplay or story going forward.

Gameplay

Operating in a first-person perspective, the game utilises the fairly common WASD format for movement, with the mouse being used to look around. The player is also equipped with a camera and light which they must manually pick up and deploy to view darker areas of the tomb.

The gameplay is smooth, but overall uninteresting, and offers little to no support to the player on what they’re actually meant to be doing. I ran into an unfortunate glitch that occurred when I was up against a wall in the tomb, I randomly took damage and died.

I think there is definitely promise with this title, and perhaps if it was given a little longer than the 7 nights prescribed, it could yield better results.

Graphics

The graphics in this game are excellent and the dark lighting of the area promotes this. Visually speaking the graphics are the game’s strongest assets and they don’t fault in any capacity.

Audio and Music

The music in this game suits the title really well, with elements of ancient Egyptian-style instruments combined with a deep synth to create a truly scary soundtrack. I also think, compared to the rest of the titles included in this collection, that the audio design in Carthanc is amongst the best this collection has to offer, with every sound being unique and distinguishable.

Summary

Whilst Carthanc is visually stunning, the gameplay and lack of direction for the player can be tricky. Had this title been given a little more time to be developed it could well be the best title in the bundle, but sadly it just wasn’t polished enough to be a fun game. Sadly I have to score it based on this and give it 50%.

The Pay is Nice – Oddbreeze Games

Story

The Pay is Nice created by Oddbreeze Games, who are also known for the creation of Crew 167: The Grand Block Odyssey. The Pay is Nice drops you into the shoes of a scientist who works in a high-level, secret laboratory (possibly run by the government).

As you play through the game, the unsettling events of the past and you’re actions in the present are slowly revealed to you, whilst providing the player with a constant level of uncomfortable tension.

Gameplay

The gameplay acts very similar to the original Resident Evil games, or more recent Xbox exclusive The Medium.

However, whilst the story is generally quite interesting, the overall gameplay will be very disinteresting to players who are not a fan of the walking simulator genre. The game has no real puzzles or extra uses for mechanics, such as a sprint, which is offered to the player halfway through the experience.

Graphics

The title overall looks really good and is certainly a great achievement for something created in only 7 nights. The game really uses light to its full advantage, providing the player with a real sense of dread.

Audio and Music

Again, like many of the titles on this list, music shows up rarely. In the case of this game, it adds to the already heightened tension that is presented through the visual imagery and audio design.

Summary

The Pay is Nice definitely creates a spooky atmosphere for the player, but rarely challenges them in any way. The story certainly peaked my interest and there’s a lot this title has to offer, which I think should be explored into the future. Ultimately the gameplay is what lets the title down, as it’s not very interesting. As such I give the game 60%.

Mr. Bucket Told Me To – Strange Scaffold

Story

The story of Mr. Bucket Told Me To was created by Strange Scaffold, creator of’ An Airport for Aliens Currently Run By Dogs’ and the writer of Hypnospace Outlaw. Mr Bucket Told Me To follows the story of a character who finds themselves trapped alone on an island, with only various utensils at their disposal.

In the beginning, all seems relatively fine given the circumstances, but the story quickly takes a dark turn as your abandoned tools begin to turn on you.

Gameplay

This game is different from the others gameplay-wise, in the sense that it’s the only “survival” horror game included in the bundle. This means that you’re encouraged to use different utilities to gather food and water, and have to constantly monitor your health and cleanliness. These features are implemented surprisingly well, but are certainly not the main draw of the game.

Graphics

Running on the Unity game engine, the game is passable graphics-wise. There are certainly no major glitches (at least that I ran into) and visually, the game is what you’d expect for a first-person project created in 7 days.

Audio and Music

The audio in this game is again, serviceable, and is what you’d expect given the short time frame for completion. Many of the sounds seem to have been taken from stock sound effects. The music provides a nice range of variety with the overall beat remaining fairly cheerful during the day, but getting darker and more ominous as the night gets closer.

Summary

Definitely the strangest and most eye-catching title on this list. It presents some fun gameplay moments and at times can be downright horrifying but it’s just lacking that bit of polish. The graphics and sound design aren’t too great, which sadly does let the title down. As such I give it a score of 60%.

Rotgut – Snowrunner Productions

Story

Rotgut’s story is poorly told in my opinion, and isn’t even made very clear to the player to begin with. From what I can gather, the main premise of the story is that the main character is making their way to attend an illegal rave in an abandoned train tunnel, and as they head further into the tunnel, a dark presence begins to present itself.

Gameplay

The game operates in a first-person format. Outside of the WASD movement scheme and mouse to look around, you can left-click to view an invitation which offers you directions to the rave, along with using the spacebar to jump (all be it not very useful).

The game itself is fairly buggy with regards to scripting and I found myself having to replay it on multiple occasions before knowing what to properly do.

Graphics

This game’s graphics are downright awful. I understand that the game was made in 7 nights but in comparison to the other titles on this list it just pales in comparison. Textures will often glitch out and lighting is extremely inconsistent.

Character models are also extremely stiff and whilst that may be an attempt to unease the player, given the large level of poor graphical fidelity overall, I highly doubt it.

Audio and Music

Music is fairly non-existent in this title bar the rave music that plays for a short section of the tunnel. Audio-wise there isn’t a lot to talk about, with the main source of audio coming from your character’s footsteps and the occasional breath they take.

Summary

By far the weakest entry on this list. I found myself having to boot up this title on more than one occasion as I ran into countless bugs and errors. This is certainly not something I would recommend given the various gameplay and visual issues. I score it only 25% because of all the issues.

Outsiders – Mahelyk

Story

Outsiders is created by Mahelyk, best known for his work on the VR/desktop title SCP: Blackout. Outsiders is a fairly basic story in the grand scheme of things. It starts with your character exploring the house and area around it, in search of intruders (outsiders) that have invaded your home.

Gameplay

The gameplay in Outsiders is fairly basic and similar to a lot of titles that operate in a similar vein. The game’s puzzles are surprisingly engaging and well thought out, given the short time of production.

The only small element I would say is a detractor from what is otherwise a great title is that there is a very little indication given to the player as to what they’re supposed to be doing.

Graphics

The visuals presented in the game are phenomenal and when compared to other games in this bundle, such as Rotgut, it blows them out of the water. Again, this title utilizes key elements of light and colour to present an eerie tale that keeps you on the edge of your seat till the very end.

Audio and Music

Whilst there are hints of musical elements in the background of this game, the key purpose of the audio is to unnerve the player using audio cues. These cues include thunder, the sound of doors opening and windows breaking.

All in all, the audio design in this game is amazing. Along with the visuals, it creates an experience that is not only disturbing but also interesting and horrifying.

Summary

Outsiders is a genuinely terrifying experience. With both stunning visuals and masterful audio, this title had me constantly looking away from my computer to avoid any possible jump scares. Due to it being such a great game, I’ve given it a score of 90%.

Overall Summary

In conclusion, the Dread X Collection is a cheap and surprisingly well put together collection, especially given the obvious limitation that the creators had in terms of development time. Considering most of these games were made in 7 nights, is well worth the look for any fan of indie horror.

Whilst titles like Rotgut and Carthanc are certainly not the best of games, it’s really the ambition and freedom that this collection offers that makes it so appealing. Overall, there are some brilliant gems in this collection such as SUMMER NIGHT and Outsiders that I think most fans of the genre should at least experience once.

We were provided a game code for the Dread X Collection for review purposes, but this does not affect the authenticity of the praise or criticism the game received.

For the review, I played the Dread X Collection on a Windows PC using a mouse and keyboard. The majority of the screenshots used in this review were taken on PC via OBS, however, the title card images were taken from DreadXP‘s website.

The Dread X Collection launched on May 26th, 2020 on Steam for €5.69. To learn more about The Dread X Collection be sure to visit the official website and Twitter page!

As always, for more reviews and gaming news you can keep up to date at Informed Pixel. Want to speak to the team and interact with other gamers? You can do so over on the Informed Pixel Facebook page or the Informed Pixel Twitter account.

If you’d like to keep up to date with my work and projects you can follow me over on Twitter @_Johnson_YT_ or YouTube at Media.wmv. I also Co-Host The Unofficial Game Pass Podcast which you can find on Twitter @UnofficialPass and all streaming platforms via Anchor.

Review

70%
Summary: The Dread X Collection is certainly a fun experiment and something I'd love to see more of in the future. This collection has some fantastic gems such as The Pony Factory, Outsiders and SUMMER NIGHT but is brought down by less fleshed out and polished titles such as Rotgut.
Dread X Collection - 70%

User Rating: 79% (2 votes).

Dread X Collection Review (Featuring Reviews For All 10 Games) 3.8 5 3