Welcome to Pacify, a fast-paced, multiplayer horror game developed by indie game creator Shawn Hitchcock, where the player is newly employed by the Paranormal Activity Helpers Incorporated (PAH Inc.). The assignment the player is given is at an old house that supposedly has an evil being living in it — a little ghost girl named Emilia. But the owner of the house wants to sell the house and wants someone to check the place out. The pay is good, and the investigation is said to be safe… even though the employers sound a little worried themselves. Players can explore the place themselves or with friends to find supernatural evidence to bring back to PAH Inc.
From the fluid graphics to the intriguing story line, Pacify is the perfect game for those who love horror at a price of $4.99. Completing it takes players at least a couple of hours, and the thrill of making it out of the house without getting caught keeps the player absorbed. The multiple modes that it can be played in also makes the game worth its cost as players are able to choose whether they want to work together with their friends or compete against them to see who can complete the objectives first.
For a low-budget game, Pacify has reasonably good graphics. The grainy view players have in the dark adds to the scare factor of the game as they depend on listening to the game sounds to determine where Emilia is. This leads players to become more invested in the game and enhances the effect of jump scares. The characters that players control move around fluidly ,and there aren’t any noticeable stiff animations. Emilia herself does make robotic-looking movements, but that aspect was likely an intentional feature to add to the horror of the girl herself.
While playing Pacify, it’s almost impossible to maintain one’s composure — not a surprise given that the game revolves around Emilia and her frightening obsession with possessed, satanic dolls. While the majority of the game relies on unsettling noises, such as creepy baby doll giggles and occasional screams, the constant threat of Emilia jump scaring players as they turn a blind corner is the game’s main fear factor, and it is more than enough to keep players on the edge of their seat. The adrenaline rush Pacify is able to generate never gets old and is incredibly exhilarating to experience while playing with friends.
The design of Pacify is relatively simple; there are essentially no special game mechanics, so players can begin exploring right away instead of having to spend copious amounts of time on a tutorial. One unique aspect to the game is what happens after a player gets captured by Emilia: they get turned into a doll. While initially funny to see the world from a downsized perspective, this feature quickly becomes a burden, as doll-turned players can no longer take part in any action. Pacify can also be played in three different modes: single player, cooperative (co-op), and player-vs.-player (PvP), where each mode has different objectives. In the single player and co-op modes, players work to distract the ghost and solve puzzles, while in PvP, players compete for a permanent job at the company. Across all modes, the overall gameplay of Pacify is also appreciatively easy to understand, so players with no prior gaming experience may enjoy playing as well.
Pacify is unique in the sense that, rather than following listed objectives, players are forced to adventure throughout the haunted house and unravel Emilia’s story to find out how to beat the game. Players must discover hidden papers, which detail the past of Emilia, to find her weaknesses and successfully “pacify” the girl. In order to continue progressing, players must also collect keys to access different parts of the house and try to burn all of the satanically-marked dolls. However, as the locations of the keys are randomly generated with each new game, they can be incredibly difficult to find. A sense of boredom develops as players will oftentimes waste a large amount of time tediously searching before making any progress. However, as players finally begin to complete their tasks, Emilia begins to move faster around the house, making the game increasingly more difficult to complete. While the overarching story is forgettable, its main purpose is to instruct players on how to successfully beat the demon and win the game.
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Cover Graphic by A&E Editor Megh Basu