When it comes to horror games, I am not usually bothered by them. The design in most horror-based games is very similar and relies on jump scares and loud noises to catch you off guard. Usually, these can become easily predictable and cheesy. Lazaret? Oh boy is this game different…
Before we get too ahead of ourselves, what’s this game even about? You are a part of a rescue team (the last member of it) that is investigating a distress call coming from a ship that disappeared 4 years ago. Something goes wrong on the operation and it is now up to you, and only you, to figure out what is happening on this boat and how to get off of it.
At first, the ship seems empty, and I guess this would be expected on a ship that’s been missing for years. But as you continue deeper into the ship you will start to come across some signs of life. The first thing that caught my attention was a portable radio playing white noise. Eventually, you will come across the first “person”. The people on the ship are nothing but stone statues covered in barnacles. After a bit more searching you will also discover bodies on the floor with fresh blood, that I would assume were members of your rescue squad or past crew members of the ship.
While something definitely went wrong, it’s not until you start finding clues to the first little puzzle that things get weird. I turned around from a dark hallway and noticed something standing in it. It quickly disappeared but continued to stalk me around corners and I would see it briefly or see a shadow in the distance.
I won’t give any more away, but I promise it only gets creepier.
Game Mechanics & World
This is where the game really shines! Sure, the story is good but you can only see so much in a demo. The game’s strength definitely lies in the atmosphere being created here.
It. Is. So. Eerie.
Now, I did play this alone in a dark room with no lights and a good headset. I may have been setting the mood a bit. Every light flicker had me prepared to jump, and every time I passed one of the stone creatures I was fully prepared to turn around and see it right behind me. I waited, and waited, and waited… but nothing came. No crazy jump scares, no loud noises, no flashing lights. That’s when I finally understood the true horror of this game. It was all relying on the expectations of the player and set in a perfectly eerie environment. It didn’t need to pull from cheesy horror tactics to give the player a scare.
The immersion here is key to this game. The second you load in you can already feel the boat swaying. Yes, FEEL. The closest comparison is the sailing in Sea of Thieves. If you have ever played that game you know how you can almost feel the boat bouncing around. Lazaret does it just as well, dare I say even better. The entire time I really felt as if I was aboard a ship. Not only the movements but the creaking sound as the boat sways, the rattling of the chains, and the various sounds coming from the corridors. Unsure how they did all the sounds so spot on, but it was truly immersive.
The details are also very thought out. The walls are covered in worker compliance posters, medical instructions, timesheets, etc. I took a moment to read a few of them and they are full of detail. The designers really didn’t skip out on anything here. As you start to get “comfortable” for lack of a better term, you will find something to change that feeling very quickly. Think the hallway you have been down a few times now is safe? Think again, because if you look behind you there may just be something watching. Think you can see everything in that lit up room? Wait till you are told you can now run (better start running).
The game knows when to push you farther and when to let you sit in fear for just a bit more. That is what is so genius about this game.
My only con at this point would be the character modeling and movement. Some of it is just a bit off and not as smooth when performing certain actions. With this being a demo I can’t be too hard on those things as there is definitely time to polish them up. In a few instances, they were very noticeable however and did break me out of the moment.
I think this game has huge potential. The boat environment is not something done often, especially not in the horror genre. I think it is a super unique setting and would love to see more. I think the biggest thing this game has going is the ambiance, and I hope the full game keeps this strong and powerful atmosphere and doesn’t sacrifice it in anyway.
The story is interesting, and the final character you meet seems like he could have an interesting story. My main hope is that the sense of mystery is not given away too quickly and it doesn’t turn into a game of hide and seek and constant running. NOT knowing what was coming next was giving me lots of anxiety and wonder, and made the horror vibes so intense.
If the game keeps on track with how the demo plays, I will definitely be continuing this story when it is fully released.