Review: The Suicide of Rachel Foster
The Suicide of Rachel Foster is one of those games where the less you know about the story the better, so I will do my best to keep details to a minimum. You play as Nicole Wilson. Her mother has just died and the hotel she grew up in must be checked before it is due to be sold. It is wintertime and shortly after she arrives at the hotel, the weather takes a turn for the worst and she is forced to stay longer than she had hoped. The longer she stays, the more she uncovers…. And that is as much as I am going to say about the plot.
The Suicide of Rachel Foster is a first person narrative driven game, where story and atmosphere take centre stage. Walking simulators, environmental narrative games, “walk ‘em ups” or whatever you want to call them, have become increasingly popular in recent years. There are usually no enemies or death in these types of games, as the focus is more about giving the player the freedom to discover the story for themselves at their own pace. Games like Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, Gone Home and What Remains of Edith Finch, are all examples from this genre. But I would associate The Suicide of Rachel Foster closer to the excellent Firewatch.
Firewatch was number 4 in my top ten games of 2016. You played a character called Henry who leaves his normal life to become a park ranger. The reasons for his change in lifestyle become clear as the game goes on, and his only companion in his journey is Delilah whom he communicates with via walkie talkie. Events happen in the game which constantly make you question the characters motives. Is Henry going crazy due to isolation? Is Delilah a good guy or a bad guy? Is Henry a good guy or a bad guy? Again, I will not say anymore, but I would just encourage you to go and play it for yourself.
The Suicide of Rachel Foster shares similar themes as Firewatch, and some of the same questions I mention above were running through my head.
The other major influencing factor is The Shining, not only in terms of the setting, but also the transition between each day you spend at the hotel. The hotel itself feels like a character as it creaks, and groans all around you. I played a section of the game wearing headphones, and to be honest I had to take them off because it felt too intense to play this way. I have decent headphones (Steel Series Arctis Pro if you were wondering) and the many bangs in the distance sounded like they were in my own house….and the freaky part of this story is I was home alone! I took the headphones off three times to check around my house, and it was at this point where I decided not to play with the headphones.
The hotel itself is large, but you quickly get your bearings, with all the rooms being named and numbered. There is no waypoint system, and you are reliant on checking a map to help you get around. This is another similarity it shares with Firewatch, as you use a compass to find your way around the park in that game.
Graphically, everything looks clean and crisp. You can zoom into the screen for a closer look and interact with items. You find a torch and other sources of light, and without spoiling things these also add to the intense nature of the game, so you feel reluctant to use them. The soundtrack and score are also excellent creating uneasy moments, which transition well when Nicole is reflecting on the past.
Overall, the Suicide of Rachel Foster is an excellent story-based game, and for the approximate 4-hour play time I was thoroughly captivated. There is no replay value, but that does not matter to me. A games value should not be decided by its length. I would much rather play a fantastic game for a few hours, rather than a mediocre game for 20 hours. With Halloween around the corner, The Suicide of Rachel Foster is the perfect game to settle down with in your favourite comfy chair. Turn down the lights and slip on your headphones if you dare. Just have a spare pair of underpants close by. Do not say I did not warn you!
The Suicide of Rachel Foster is available now for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Review by Chris from a code kindly supplied by Daedalic Entertainment via Renaissance PR.