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Can you survive the Withering Rooms? – Review

Welcome to a world where the normal natural rules don’t apply while the rules of the supernatural and Occult run wild and free, this is Withering Rooms.

Nightingale talking in an ethereal realm

In Withering Rooms, you play as Nightingale who has awoken trapped within a dream of Mostyn House. The world inside these dreams plays by its own rules as magic is real, and spirits, zombies and other nightmarish creatures exist within. To escape the nightmare, Nightingale will need to fight her way through the dream and become a witch if she has any hope to escape before her body in the real world decays into nothing.

Withering Rooms is one of the most unique games I’ve played in a fair while – and I enjoy dabbling with weird and unique games. From the get-go, it appears like it’s a 2.5D survival horror game which, yes it partly is, but there’s so much more to this game. 

nightingale in stood in front of poisoness's smog

It has survival horror mechanics to it with things like limited items to find and use, puzzles to test your mental mettle, hidden text lores with backstories for the world and characters, and grotesque creatures with limited combat attacks. However it goes further with a Metroidvania-esque map where you will be backtracking to go forward, you can even level up and fast travel to boot. 

While this is already an interesting cocktail, they go one step further in adding a rouge-lite element to the ingredients. If you die, the night begins anew, all items (except key items and locked-in items) are lost and the map, while retaining a basic layout, is refreshed. The rooms themselves and the creatures you encounter are shuffled around making deaths not only a burden but also a possibility to find different gear to make the next attempt run smoother.

map and fast travel screen

Levelling up is done through acquiring items from defeated enemies and using the items obtained or scavenged as an offering with an occult witch. When the offering requirement has been hit, you can choose a stat to increase. As an extra bonus at set levels, you earn bonus permanent items to enhance your survivability. 

The controls are smooth and fluid with a small amount of getting used to since combat is assigned to the shoulder buttons. While combat and dodging do feel good, it also feels a little slow and heavy which makes sense for the survival horror influence. The enemies move faster than you, so you have to plan your strikes and be smart with each encounter. You can also assign three pages of quick-select items for you to swap on the fly. 

nightingale verses a foe with a wall of fire between them

While you explore and fight for your life, not only will you deal with status ailments such as burning and poison but also a cursed status effect. This is a risk-reward mechanic that is increased through supernatural attacks either being dealt to you or by casting Occult magic, the caveat being that the higher your cursed bar, the weirder things will become. Such things as jump scares, background items and environments changing to creepier things, as well as your character becoming visually different along with being able to see ghosts and use the fast travel system, which cannot be seen or done while in a normal state.

The art style of Withering Rooms is beautifully macabre. Each area and enemy is dripping with personality – in some cases literally. Everything is 3D modelled too which is a nice change for a Metroidvania-styled game since they usually retain a pixel art style. The team clearly put a lot of effort into the visual design and it shows. Even the bestiary entries you obtain upon slaying a creature for the first time are stylised as hand-drawn entries. 

menu shot of enemy in bestiary

The sound design is fantastic to boot. From carefully crafted foreboding music to gentle sombre tones, every note hits the correct emotion for the scene that is being portrayed. Sadly there isn’t any voice acting from the characters so prepare to get reading, however, the enemies will gurgle, groan and throw a few voice lines out during combat.

Withering Rooms is a game that certainly caught my eye with the obvious influences of some of my personal favourite genres. When the devs gave me the chance to review it, I jumped to claim it for my own. 

Withering Rooms very quickly became a personal favourite of mine and a game I wholeheartedly recommended for any gamer looking for something new to sink their teeth into. 

9/10 star rating

Developer: Moonless Formless

Publishers: Moonless Formless, Perp Games, Perpetual Europe

Platform: PlayStation 5, Windows, Xbox Series X and S





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