I’ve been hard at work on my Top 10 Video Games of 2023 article already, in hopes of having it posted before March 2024. I’m never going to forgive myself for that one…
Anyway, I had the whole list decided on, had a couple of entries written out completely, and then The Talos Principle 2 dropped. I finished it last weekend and knew that it would absolutely need a place in my Top 10, possibly even in the top spot. So I had to make a cut. And it was difficult! Very, very difficult! Alas, it had to be done. I can’t have a Top 11 Games of 2023, now can I?
Unfortunately, the decision I made was to cut a game I’d already done a write-up for, and it seemed like a shame to just throw out all of that “hard work.” So I’m posting it here, now. It’s not going to get a fancy banner image, but it will retain a special place in my heart.
LOST ALONE ULTIMATE
Lost Alone Ultimate is a remake of an indie horror walking simulator from… 2021? It’s not often that you see games remade so quickly after their initial release, but I suppose that breaking conventions is what the indie space is all about. I never actually played the original game, but I have watched a let’s play series of it three times because I enjoyed it so much. That said, buying the remake was a no-brainer.
Lost Alone Ultimate tells the story of George, a man with a troubled past and a bit of a drinking problem. The game takes place over three chapters, each one telling a part of George’s story, showing us the people and events that made him the man he is. It’s not a profoundly deep or unique story, but the way it’s told is interesting and there are twists around each and every corner to keep players guessing.
While I did refer to LAU as a walking simulator, that’s not entirely accurate. There is way more gameplay here than most indie horror games on Steam. While the bulk of said gameplay is making sure that candles are replaced and lit to keep George from going insane in the dark, there are also plenty of (admittedly simple) puzzles and the occasional enemy to avoid (but never fight). There’s even a whole additional game mode that adds a specter that will chase you for the duration of the game. That actually doesn’t sound fun at all to me, but I’m sure it’s a welcome addition for players who prefer more challenge.
What really sells this game for me is the atmosphere. The visual design of the three houses you explore is excellent, full of detail without feeling cluttered, and while I’m not crazy about AI art in general, one can’t deny that it works very well when you’re trying to fill a house with disturbing artwork. The sound design is also top tier. The random creaks and thumps really go a long way, and they’re tuned well enough that they never become so common as to get annoying. It’s also noteworthy that this Ultimate version changes the original game’s maps, puzzles, jumpscares, and mechanics enough that it did almost feel like I was playing an entirely new game.
And even though it lost its spot on my Games of the Year list, I can’t pass up the opportunity to mention that I’ve already immortalized my appreciation for Lost Alone Ultimate in a let’s play series. The playlist is embedded below. Fair warning: this game is dark as heck. Also: many boobies.