MADiSON, developed by BLOODIOUS GAMES and published by Perp Games, is a first-person psychological horror game that delivers constant tension and jumpscares from the offset. It is currently available on Windows PC, PlayStation, XBox, and Nintendo Switch, and for the purpose of my review, I was playing the PlayStation 5 version.
From the offset, it’s clear to see the influences at play throughout the creation of MADiSON. It in no way copies these games; but the influence from games like Silent Hill, P.T. and Visage are very visible. MADiSON puts you in the shoes of Luca, a teenage boy, who wakes up locked in a room, covered in blood. Who’s blood? What happened here? Luca has to endure the torture from a demonic force known as Madison. This torture forces Luca to commit some absolutely horrific acts under her power. Every story that you learn throughout the game will be increasingly more disturbing. Armed with only a Polaroid camera you need to progress and learn who Madison was, what she was known for, and you’ll gradually manage to uncover the dark secrets that lurk below the surface where you’ll eventually come to the realisation that Luca is nothing more than a mere tool to conduct Madison’s twisted ritual.
As you start out the game, you begin exploring your grandfather's house to uncover more of the twisted demon that you're dealing with. The puzzle aspects are very dominant in this game and will really make you think in increasing doses as you progress through the game. Some puzzles require you to ignore them for a little bit until you solve different things and acquire other items - I’m being intentionally vague here to avoid spoiling any puzzles for anyone. Whilst some puzzles were quite challenging and really needed me to experiment and try things that seemed utterly ridiculous; sometimes the ridiculous would be correct - other times it would simply eliminate it as the solution. All of the puzzles really felt like they had a purpose and didn’t just feel like another stumbling block to make the game longer. They almost all felt like they had some substantial story meaning to them as well. One of the puzzles that required the most thought from me actually pushed me to write down notes to figure it out - I was right - it worked. Yes, there were times when I was unnecessarily trying to solve a puzzle that I didn’t realise I couldn’t have solved yet, so one tip I’d give is that instead of ramming your head against a wall trying to solve something, keep revisiting some puzzles and experimenting some more if you ever feel stuck.
MADiSON nailed the environment throughout the game, and this environment had me on tenterhooks for the entire time. It is constantly building tension to the point where I questioned my own sanity - this tension actually built to the extent where I’d question whether I was even breathing anymore, but then BLOODIOUS GAMES threw me a bone by bringing it back a little bit, just enough to let me catch my breath before the next gut-wrenching scare arrived.
One thing I loved about MADiSON is that the jumpscares never quite happened when I’d expected them to, meaning they constantly caught me by surprise. I would complete a puzzle and tell myself “something's going to happen” and to my surprise it didn’t. Then moments later when my guard was down something would move and that would be quivering in the corner crying for my mum. I don’t consider myself to be easily scared by horror movies or games, and I can count on one hand the amount of real frights and scares that I’ve gotten from a horror game. For some reason, MADiSON really got me on a number of occasions. Why? How? I don’t know, but I applaud the developer for this.
I was a very big fan of MADiSON. It provided excellent puzzles, great jumpscares and never failed to get me at the most unexpected moments. I would argue that it is one of the best psychological horror games that has been released. In my eyes, Visage held the crown - but now there's a new queen in town, and it's MADiSON. If you are looking for a spook as we head towards the winter months and Halloween approaches, MADiSON absolutely belongs on the list.
Lj’s Rating: 4.5 haunted photos out of 5.
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