Insomnis, developed by Path Games and published by Gammera Nest, is a first-person horror adventure game. It is available as a PlayStation exclusive, and for the purpose of my review, I was playing the PlayStation 5 version.
Insomnis is very exploration-based and to a certain extent a walking simulator which will have you wandering around a spooky house, gradually uncovering the story held within. As you arrive in the mansion where the game takes place you begin to find out the story line. Essentially, you get a phone call from your grandfather's lawyer and you discover that your grandfather has passed away. You have inherited his home and now it becomes your problem to try and figure out what is going on and why it's inhabited by some not terribly friendly ghosts who may be holding a well-deserving grudge with your grandfather.
Throughout Insomnis and your time wandering around the spooky mansion you’ll have plenty of tense atmosphere built up as you explore and try to make sense of the things that you find. The developers have done a tremendous job of building up tension throughout the game using the most subtle horror mechanics. For me, the more subtle the better. Constant jump scares and blatant horror are just so overdone that it's not even scary anymore and it's a total disaster in my opinion so I’m a far bigger fan of games that allow the tension to flow naturally and peak and dip at various points. Overall, I feel like Insomnis did do a good job of creating this atmosphere, however there was a fatal flaw which really left me struggling to feel any engagement with the game; I found everything so vague and confusing that I would spend massive periods of time painfully stuck and not really achieving anything, so all the tension that the game had done such an effective job at building came plummeting down and just left the game feeling flat and hollow. Whilst the puzzles themselves weren’t particularly challenging there was just something that left me constantly unable to progress through. Things with which I was supposed to interact weren’t flagging up and then after passing it for the hundredth time knowing it did something, it suddenly decides to work after god knows how many attempts. Another thing that constantly confused me was that you could pick up items for later parts in the game earlier which meant there was so much back and forth not knowing what to use and when and it just got frustrating and it really did start to quickly feel like a waste of time and I don’t say this lightly or with ease. I could see an excellent game in Insomnis but just the pacing felt very off and it felt like all the tension that was being built never came to any form of crescendo or completion. Any feeling of satisfaction that I found by solving one puzzle was very quickly overshadowed by that feeling of “So, what now?” and the imminent struggle to figure that out.
When I first checked out Insomnis, it boasted a very short playtime which left me utterly confused and baffled as to why I struggled so much with figuring it out. A few friends and I even sat down together on a Discord call and tried to suss out a few sections recently and even between the three of us, it really felt more difficult than it should have. I’m by no means an absolute pro puzzler or exceptional gamer, but I don’t consider myself to be stupid which Insomnis really made me feel.
Due to these issues, I really struggled to find much horror in Insomnis aside from being horrified by my own lack of progress throughout the game. Whilst an incredible atmosphere can really make a game; bad pacing can totally destroy everything that is achieved by that and I really do feel like Insomnis fell victim to this. I tried to dip back into Insomnis and give it another chance, but it just really didn’t work for me unfortunately.
Overall, I’m very much on the fence over whether I’d recommend Insomnis to others. Perhaps I was just being an idiot on the days I tried to play Insomnis, perhaps it just didn’t connect with me - who knows? But I felt very let down by Insomnis. It had so much potential but through a series of vague events I just felt more confused and lost than I did at the beginning and felt like no real progress was made. There’s clear potential for an excellent horror game here so I’d be intrigued to see what the developers come up with next; but Insomnis just didn’t hit the spot for me.
Lj’s Rating: 2 out of 5.
For more information on Insomnis please use the following links...
Many thanks to Jaleo PR for the Review Key.
Insomnis | PlayStation