Silver Falls: Undertakers (Wii U)
Also available on 3DS
Silver Falls is a series that I gush about a lot. I'm a huge fan of both the games themselves and of the series' development ethos of providing games with a variety of gameplay styles so that there's something for everyone while developing a rich and interconnected world with deep lore and character backstories. Silver Falls: Undertakers was originally a 3DS exclusive that just got ported to Wii U as one of the two Silver Falls games released on the Wii U eShop to give the console a good send-off. An homage to the Atari 2600 and the 1970s, this is - so far - the earliest point in the Silver Falls universe. Images below are courtesy of Sungrand.
The game follows Bull Brandish as a child in the 1970s on a camping adventure with his friend in woods owned by his grandfather, Bill Brandish, the famous creator of hit television suspense series, The Midnight Realm. When Bull goes to his grandfather's cabin to get more firewood for their campfire, he hears strange noises in the woods. After some investigation, Bull discovers massive black monsters in the woods that have been snatching children. Bull must now survive a monster-infested forest as he investigates the missing children. Will he survive this ordeal? Will the sheriff and other adults in town even believe his tale of monsters and strange encounters?
The original 3DS game had two primary modes - Game A and Game B - but this Wii U port adds a third mode, SurviVS. Game A is the story mode of the game where you play as Bull and explore the forest filled with lurking Undertakers. Game B is a high score game mode where you have to survive as long as possible while taking out as many Undertakers as possible to increase your score. Shoot the Undertakers that make it to the surface on your TV screen while tapping the giant Undertakers on the gamepad touch screen to prevent them from surfacing as these are much harder to kill. Game A and Game B both have blocky pixel graphics that would look right at home on the Atari 2600 while benefiting from the sharpness that HDMI output and 1080p resolution bring. The new mode, SurviVS, is an asymmetrical multiplayer mode using more modern visuals. One player uses the gamepad to place the Undertakers on the map, and between one and four players use Wiimotes and Nunchuks to fight off the monsters that the gamepad player spawns. If you've played the ZombiU multiplayer mode, think of that but up to five players instead of only two.
The story and world-building in Undertakers is really the star of the show in my opinion. I've played at least part of all but one of the Silver Falls games, and this game has the darkest and most intense horror atmosphere in my opinion. The violence depicted in the game is BRUTAL, but because it uses 2600-esque graphics, it's deceptive about it. It looks tame and cute, and even the gore depicted doesn't look exceptionally grotesque because of the simple graphics, but the descriptive text prompts when you interact with things reveals the truly horrific things that young Bull encounters.
I honestly wasn't sure how deep Undertakers was going to be with its 2600 aesthetic, but I absolutely adored the game. It's short enough to be played in a single sitting - it took me about an hour and a half - and that is by design; it was intended to emulate the kind of experience and relationship you'd have with 2600 games back in the day, so there are no save points, and your play time is dictated entirely by how well you know the game and what you're doing. The high score mode in Game B give it a lot of replay value, and the SurviVS mode make it an awesome party game, too. You've only got a few weeks before the eShops shut down on 3DS and Wii U, so make sure you go snag this one. Ideally, get the Wii U version, but at the very least, definitely download the 3DS version.
My Rating - 4 Neps
I'm a teacher.
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach high school history; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.