First Impressions — The Shattering
The Shattering is a psychological rollercoaster from Super Sexy Software that isn't afraid to explore dark themes.
The Shattering is a new psychological thriller that isn’t afraid to explore matures tales that constantly challenge you. This is the latest game from publisher Deck13 and the first game from Super Sexy Software. However, if early impressions are anything to go by, there is little to suggest that this is a freshman effort. Give The Shattering’s trailer a watch below to get a good idea of what you’re in for and then join me after the break for a look at the first few chapters.
The Shattering is seemingly a story in five acts. Thus far, I’ve finished five and fully intend to jump back in. It’s not so much a question of time or desire, but instead, one of will power. The Shattering’s tale is not an easy one to stomach. The themes it deals in turn incredibly dark pretty much out of the gate, making it more of a stressor than even the tensest run through Warzone’s Gulag.
Below I’ll try not to spoil many of the twists and turns for you; however, given that the game is largely focused on narrative, we have to talk about it. The Shattering begins with you waking up inside of a room, listening to the voice of a therapist. However, he’s not in the room with you. Instead, you are walking around the inside of your own mind. You were involved in some type of horrific car accident and are now trying to piece your memories back together to discover exactly what happened that night.
This setup lets the developers play with the environment in some clever ways. Because you’re living inside your brain, pretty much anything can and will happen. The first chapter has you playing as an alcoholic writer visiting a hotel with a delightfully trippy floorplan. It’s not completely clear if you’re remembering a real experience or just a story, but whoever’s life it is quickly devolves into a gigantic mess culminating in a shocking moment I won’t spoil here.
From there, you jump back into the character’s childhood. As you might expect, he did not have a rosy one. The moments here are less shocking but just as terrible. It’s more of a slow roll of dread in place of the first chapter’s striking end. Hopefully, the rest of the game can keep up that same pace.
Now, without finishing the game, it’s hard to say if The Shattering sticks the landing. However, what they have set up is incredibly intriguing. Of course, I must remind you that this isn’t an easy game to play through. The story is deeply grim and not for the faint of heart. There aren’t any jump scares, but I had to take a walk after chapter one because it hit so hard.
On the gameplay side of things, there’s not too much to talk about. If you’ve played any exploration-heavy narrative game, you know what you’re getting into. Visually, the game is stark and uses the lack of color to great effect. The Shattering is also an audio treat. Super Sexy Software has done a great job using sound to set the mood perfectly.
So, if you have a hankering for a new game with a gripping story, The Shattering is worth a look. Of course, there are a few caveats with that recommendation. Importantly, this is a first impression, not a review. I haven’t finished the game, but I like what I’ve seen thus far to want to continue. And, potentially even more essentially, a few of the themes (particularly suicide) could be triggering. Heed those health warnings the game gives upfront.
That said, The Shattering is a mentally exhausting trip through a troubled man’s subconscious and, if that sounds interesting, I would certainly recommend it.