After completing The Suicide of Rachel Foster, I’m conflicted. The good is that it’s super creepy with an environment and sound design that elevates what would be an otherwise lackluster game. My conflict mainly hinges on my issues with the story, and it’s here that you either connect or are pushed away from the game.
Set in 1993 Montana, main character Nicole goes back to her family’s hotel after her father’s funeral to sign the papers to sell it. She is supposed to inspect it quickly and be on her way, but a surprise snowstorm shuts down any hope of escape. Fortunately, a nice gentleman from FEMA named Irving talks to her over a newfangled cell phone whenever she likes. This is her only friend for more than a week as she wanders the vacant halls of the hotel, starts to remember forgotten family secrets, and unravels the mystery behind Rachel Foster’s death.
The Suicide of Rachel Foster is a walking simulator, but that’s not a strike against it. As you move between rooms, there are a few items to pick up such as a microphone to hear noises, a Polaroid camera, and a dynamo flashlight. There are a few other items to examine in the abandoned hotel, but the other items don’t lead to anything and seem mostly unnecessary. You do have a map of the floors, and an attached card that updates with your objective. Mostly, you’ll be talking to Irving and moving somewhere else for another chat with Irving.
The strongest selling point by far is the fantastic union of environment and sound. The game uses binaural audio, and a good pair of headphones will pull you into the game. There are creaking floors, slamming doors, footsteps, the sound of the wind, and other noises for you to discover as you explore. It’s unsettling in a great way. The environmental audio adds an extra dimension to the world, and the game nails it.
The hotel is an unspoken character in this game. I’ve been to old buildings and abandoned homes that seem dead if only because they used to contain so much life. This game does a good job of capturing that feeling of gnawing tension and keeping it going for a good chunk of the short playtime. It would have been easy to ruin that effect, but the developer showed restraint to make this game a different kind of scary.
The story is a huge part of the game and my sticking point. You’ll see the twist coming almost immediately, and I’m still not sure I fully understand the ending, either one of them. I enjoy metaphysical nonsense, but it feels there to justify some other decisions. Some of Nicole’s decisions don’t make sense either. The emotional pull of the story in some places feels misplaced.
I have some real conflicts with where this story went and what it expects me to accept. I won’t spoil it, but know that my problems are with the people, not the supernatural. That’s my very subjective opinion. Your perception of these elements will determine whether this game strikes a chord or is hollow, and it’s the foundation of the entire game.
Although the sound is generally good, the spoken dialog does drop in and out. I could still read the subtitles, but it stole the extra emotional punch from some powerful scenes, especially since the voice acting is generally great. The rest of the game runs well for the very short time it runs.
The Suicide of Rachel Foster has a good environment and audio to match, as long as it’s not dialog audio. It has a wonderful quality of staying tense and creepy and manages to make you feel constantly uneasy even when surrounded by mostly mundane things. The story is a big part of the game and ultimately a bust for me. It’s the kind of experience I could see going either way for someone, but I can’t get over the disconnects.
The Suicide of Rachel Foster PS4 Review
Overall - Not Bad - 5.5/10
The Suicide of Rachel Foster deals with some heavy topics. Exploring the hotel and enjoying the sound and environment in a pair of headphones is great, even though the audio dialogue occasionally drops out. The story choices pulled me out of the experience, and your interpretation of the events will make or break the game for you.
- Great environment and sound
- Great tension and has plenty of creepy moments
- Story choices created too many problems for me
- Spoken dialogue drops out
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Reviewed using PS4 Pro.