(Heads up, Minecraft-graphics nudity and sexual content in the screenshots)
I can’t believe it took me an entire half-year to finally play this game Dapper Apples got me for Christmas. It’d been on my radar since playing the original flash game, as the author showed he was more than capable of migrating the unique ontological sandbox horror gameplay into newer, larger settings.
Lakeview Cabin Collection lives up to the model of its predecessor while expanding greatly on the player’s options; framing itself as a series of horror films, each episode traps 4 characters in a classic horror setting and the player can switch between the quartet while attempting to solve puzzles and set traps to prepare for the upcoming monsters. It is at heart a sandbox, letting the player interact with practically anything, but it is most certainly not a wide-open sandbox. The extremely restrictive environments are a huge part of the difficulty, especially as the monsters spawn and lock you out of zones. Hope the fetus zombie isn’t baby-sitting that pack of matches you need to ignite the gasoline trap.
The first episode takes place on the same cabin-covered island as the initial flash game, starring four camp counselors preparing for an upcoming summer camp. Maintaining almost the exact same gameplay as the flash game, it’s a very good starting episode to get the player familiar with the mechanics of the game. And since the controls aren’t remappable, I hope you like the mechanics the way they are.
The next episode (the game uses an esoteric numerical listing so I’m avoiding it for clarity) stars a girl band whose truck broke down in the middle of nowhere. It’s definitely the most arcade-y of the episodes, requiring fast reflexes, a ridiculous number of enemy characters and plenty of opportunities for cheap deaths. It was my least favorite episode for this reason.
The next episode was my favorite because it turned death itself into a mechanic. Instead of player characters being removed when the killer destroys them, there’s a mysterious respawn mechanic that will allow the deceased to return to life, but not without being marked by the journey.
It was only a few days ago that the final episode went live, so there’s one silver lining regarding how long it took for this review to come out. Taking place on a futuristic space station, the janitorial staff must work to figure out why crewmembers are vomiting parasites and causing alien infestations. To that effect, it’s very combat-focused, with weapons scattered throughout the complex and plenty of friendly NPCs to make things difficult.
Fair warning, nudity plays a large role in every episode. Make sure you’re okay with seeing pixellated LEGO people genitals because there are several puzzles that require some exhibitionism on the part of the heroes, not to mention the girl band in particular gets assaulted by plenty of skyclad psychos in their quest to refuel their tour bus. I also don’t think any puzzles actually require wearing clothes, so efficient players will quickly turn the titular cabin into a nudist camp to save time. Or maybe that’s just me…
Ultimately, I have a hard time just recommending everyone play this. It’s certainly fun, and adventure game fans will find more than enough to love. As will sandbox fans, horror fans, pixel art fans…basically, if you fit one of the niche audiences this game is marketed for, you’ll likely be satisfied with what it provides. But it’s full of cheap shots and the characters are damnably squishy. My cries were usually those of annoyance rather than fright as the heroes drop whatever they were carrying at the slightest excuse, break their arms and faces after the lightest of bumps, wander blithely off ledges or hit everything except the monster with their chainsaw. Anyone considering playing Lakeview Cabin Collection should absolutely play the flash game first and see if they enjoy themselves, because it’s definitely more of the same in regards to positives and negatives.
But speaking in regards to content and price, it’s definitely worth the money for what it is. The dev has done a great job with the level of depth in each episode, and the game carries its charm proudly on its shoulder. I’m glad I got to play it, and I really enjoyed becoming a part of the campy Lakeview Cabin world (I never ended up beating episode 4, so I didn’t get to play the epilogue). Though I do wish the original flash game was in there somewhere, just because the collection feels incomplete without the episode that started everything.