MADiSON - A Picture's Worth a Thousand Scares
A Creepy Quest to Complete a Demonic Ritual
A Blend of Horror and Puzzles
Developed and published by BLOODIOUS GAMES, MADiSON is an intense psychological horror game for PC (via Steam and GOG), Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and 5, and Xbox One and Series X|S. MADiSON packs plenty of terror and disturbing content that will satisfy hardcore fans of the genre and those looking for a horror game to play on Halloween. The unique gameplay elements and dark atmosphere make the many horrifying moments feel life-like and impactful, adding to the high level of engagement and overall quality of the game.
Are you ready for a scare? Here is what you have to look forward to!
The Cursed Camera
In MADiSON, the player takes on the role of Luca, a 16-year-old boy who has received a new instant camera as a birthday present. However, this is no everyday camera. Several decades earlier, it had belonged to a notorious serial killer, and Luca soon wakes up in his family home, confused and with his hands covered in blood.
Luca quickly realizes a demonic presence is haunting him, and his only hope of escaping the situation is to solve various puzzles and complete a dark ritual.
His home is constantly transforming around him into a variety of scenes, each one more horrifying than the last. His only weapon is his supernatural camera, which he must use to take photos and uncover disturbing truths about Luca's family's past.
Concept Rating: 4/5
The Right Amount of Creepy
As you would expect from a horror game, MADiSON features a dark and eerie setting to explore. The haunted house most definitely sets the right tone for the experience. Similarly to indie horror games like Devour and Phasmophobia, even though the graphics are not mind-blowing, they create a surreal and frantic vibe that is very fitting.
The lighting strikes the perfect balance—dim enough to create an ominous atmosphere but not so dark that you can't see what's happening. Ultimately, the visuals of the house will have you consistently on edge, adding to the scare factor the MADiSON developers are going for.
MADiSON features a minimalist audio system, with lots of silence and the occasional spooky sound effects. This audio style strategically lulls you into a false sense of security, allowing the louder jump scares to hit you even harder.
Graphics & Audio Rating: 5/5
Exploring a Changing Environment
The gameplay of MADiSON is not your average haunted house exploration. One of the things that makes the game unique is the fact that the environment is constantly shifting around you. For example, you may think you are descending into the basement. But then, it may randomly transform into a hallucination of a horrific murder scene right before your eyes.
Randomly activated events and changing puzzles throughout the game assures a higher level of replayability.
Because you never really know where you are heading in the house, the game can become very disorienting. The good thing is it most definitely enhances its hair-raising qualities. Not only are you trapped in a creepy house is one thing, but you also have no idea where you will find yourself from one room to the next, which takes things to a whole other level.
Utilizing Your Camera
The other thing that makes MADiSON stand out is how the integration of the handheld camera into the story and gameplay. You will often find that the camera is truly your best weapon and resource. You can frequently use it to uncover puzzle clues, and the flash can even be your only light source as you fumble through the darkness.
Develop the photos you take manually and face the fear of unveiling the truth.
As you take photos of things you find around the house and develop them, you will uncover secrets, discover hidden messages, and find ways to progress through the gameplay. The camera is not always your friend, though. Sometimes you will develop a photo only to find a new, unseen terror lurking around you.
Finding Useful Items
You will find various objects around the house that will aid your survival and progression. Namely, you will come across cassette tapes featuring audio recordings that provide more disturbing details about the demonic presence in the house and the dark history of Luca's family.
You will also find many other household items that you will need to complete the puzzles. However, you are limited in how many objects you can hold at one time. As a result, you often find yourself having to backtrack and make difficult decisions when it comes to managing your inventory.
This particular gameplay feature is one area in which MADiSON can get a bit frustrating. Sometimes, you may have to retrace your steps simply because you decided to hold on to one item over another. Once you discover that you need that discarded item to complete a puzzle, you can't make up that wasted time.
As you have probably discerned, much of the gameplay revolves around solving puzzles throughout the haunted house. The puzzles are another feature that helps MADiSON stand out from other horror titles, as they add an element of problem-solving and strategy to the thrilling nature of the genre.
For the most part, the puzzles are pretty creative and diverse. In one, you might find you need to use your camera to flip between multiple periods. In another, you might have to decode a system of color-coded candles by placing them on the correct pedestals.
Gameplay Rating: 4/5
Entering the Nightmare
MADiSON launched on July 7, 2022, and is available for $34.99, a relatively low price for a newer title, which may be because it is not a particularly long game. However, it has significant replay value, making it a pretty solid bargain for fans of the horror genre.
Bringing New Elements to Horror Gaming
Whether you are looking for a scary horror game to play on Halloween or are a regular horror game player, this is worth playing. MADiSON features several elements that differentiate it from other titles in the genre. The shifting environment, challenging puzzles, and unique camera mechanics all help this game stand out as a novel and memorable experience.
MADiSON can sometimes be a bit frustrating, and the jump scares can be hit-or-miss, but overall, it should quench the thirst of those looking for something new in a horror game. Plus, because the setting and puzzles are so dynamic, the gameplay feels relatively fresh every time, providing it with solid replay value.
Replay Value Rating: 5/5
- Unique camera mechanic
- The creepy, ever-changing environment
- Challenging puzzles
- Effective use of the soundtrack
- Occasional graphics glitches
- Frustrating inventory management
- Jump scares are hit-or-miss
MADiSON is a novel horror game featuring good scares, unique gameplay mechanics, and challenging puzzles.