Circus Reviews - the relief of impact

Full disclosure: I've been a strange kind of depressed lately, the kind where I have no motivation whatsoever but a relatively stable mood. It's most likely triggered by the apocalypse which seems to have begun, judging by all the natural disasters occurring simultaneously. I haven't even been able to muster up the energy to game for the most part. But today I'm hoping to start getting back into the swing of that, at least, because if I'm going to waste my life, I should at least not be lying in bed. Perhaps it's fate that the first game I played after deciding this was a game about lying in bed.

the relief of impact states up front that it is a very short and experimental game about sleep paralysis, and that's really the extent to which I can describe the plot, if you can even call it a plot. You start out in your room, awakened by a strange sound, and things progress from there about as you'd expect.

The actual player input here is limited to a few choices in the early part of the game. The real interactivity comes from the way the game is designed. The background is made up of constant static, and the foreground images shift as you progress. The notes for the game do tell you that playing with headphones in a completely dark room is the best way to play, and I have to agree; it makes an already immersive experience even more terrifying. Special attention goes to the sound, which is creepy and unsettling the whole way through. It shouldn't be much surprise, then, to learn that the game's author is primarily a sound designer for Bravemule, developers of the upcoming IF game Southern Monsters. The music here makes me even more excited for that game's arrival.

As I've already said, there isn't much in the way of story here, but there doesn't really need to be. It's more of an experience than anything else. While it does tell you from the beginning that the game is about sleep paralysis, I found myself forgetting that fact during my playthrough and trying to puzzle out the mystery that probably wasn't there. And the ending...I really don't want to give it away, but the particular way the game ends felt absolutely perfect to me, and perfect for a horror game in general, and I don't know if it was meant to have such a strong impact but it did on me.

Also, there's a cat in this game that is explicitly described as your precious son, and I approve of this wholeheartedly, because cats are better than people.

I admit, I'm struggling to describe much more without giving everything away, so this review will end up being shorter than my usual fare. Just...go play it for yourself, and feel immersed and hopeless like I do. For a few minutes of your time, it's worth it.

the relief of impact is available to play in browser on

Final verdict: the relief of impact is a short but successful experiment that achieves an impressive level of horror and immersion in just a few minutes, aided by its impressive sound and graphic design.

the relief of impact is developed by ghoulnoise. The opinions expressed in this review are my own. I was not compensated in any way for this review.

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