Gray Dawn (2018)
Gray Dawn is a survival horror game from Romanian independent game studio, Interactive Stone. It was released on June 7, 2018. The game is a psychological thriller infused with religious elements and revolves around Father Abraham, a priest who is trying to find the missing altar boy. It’s a survival horror game from a first-person perspective. The player takes on the role of our protagonist, Father Abraham and explores the area by walking around and clicking on various objects.
The game features voice-overs and subtitles to convey the story and you, the player will have the option to listen to recordings and learn more about it. In order to advance through the story, the player has to solve a few puzzles and can optionally collect seven images of Christ. Depending on whether the player found all seven images or not, there are two different endings that can be discovered.
The game is set on a snowy Christmas Eve in 1920 where you take on the role of Father Abraham, the local parish priest who has to solve several mysteries at once, starting with the disappearance of a young altar boy named David. It is implied that Father Abraham has killed several small children at the orphanage, and while tormented by demons, he must find evidence in order to save himself from wrongful persecution. In dream-like sequences, Abraham finds more clues in a world from David and finally uncovers what really happened. Father Abraham has to piece these clues together in order to prove his innocence… if he is innocent.
Father Abraham seems to have some buried secrets and has a botched exorcism that haunts him. As the storming worsens outside, you will start out in a darkened room with the fireplace built into one of the walls while a radio played Christmas songs in the background. This is where you will encounter your first experience with a demonic entity, one that tortures the Priest.
You will begin to gather clues and solve puzzles in and around the abbey. you will need to step into the vestments of Father Abraham and desperately try to piece together the truth about what’s happening. With his secrets, guilt and shame remind him every step of the way.
The game is a psychological thriller that relies very heavily on visuals to mesmerize the player. The rooms and surrounding areas you venture through are of remarkable design. The graphics create not only a beautiful atmosphere but one that is dark and bleak, while a tremendous amount of detail will far exceed your deepest expectations.
In addition to the amazing scenery that was created from religious books and parables, you will face time transitions where, by using an item, for example, you will immediately be transformed to a quiet, peaceful spring forest. You also get transported between beautiful, serene types of landscapes to scary and bizarre nightlife. All of this makes the fantastic graphics the strongest point of the game.
The puzzles in Gray Dawn are fairly simple for the most part and provide a medium to share iconography of both the religious and the mystical. Gray Dawn’s major focus seems to be on Catholic imagery, and there is a brilliant mix of icons from eastern religions that’s been implemented. For example, while attempting to ward off the demons of unbaptized children, Father Abraham consults a book on eastern rituals for exorcism and alchemical practices. Each of these has its own mini-games associated with them.
While most of the puzzles are engaging, they honestly feel more like an obstacle to get over rather than to move the story along. What you see isn’t always what you expect either. The game manages to surprise its players more than once. For example, and without giving away too much of the gameplay, performing some actions won’t always get the reaction you hoped for or expected, and this is a major part of the game’s appeal. And WTF was that creepy-ass doll always looking at me for? Seriously, every move I made its head turned around to focus its stare on me. I nearly pissed my pants when I first noticed it.
Anyway, throughout all of this, there are also moments of unexpected hilarity. For instance, after you have just gained access to a new part of the house, tableware and decorations start floating away from a table, as does the food on it. A floating pudding gets trapped in a corner for Father Abraham to play football with it. Basically giving you an unintentional break from all the seriousness of the situation.
One issue I had was the ending. I felt mildly unsatisfied and not as surprised as other parts of the game suggested I would be. In fact, quite a few of the twists felt predictable after a while, though this is not as big an issue as you might think because the mass amount of beautiful detail in the game distracts you. Overall the game was pretty damn good, and I can fully recommend this to any of my gaming friends.
About the Game:
- A deeply engaging story with twists.
- An interesting story that is “mixed” with religious mysticism, terror and supernatural elements.
- Beautiful visual imagery and a convincing atmosphere.
- Incredible use of dark and light motifs.
- Major shock factors with images of dead children and exorcisms, so parents beware.
Title: Gray Dawn
Genre: Survival Horror, Religious/Psychological Horror
Release Date: June 7, 2018
Developer: Interactive Stone
Game Engine: Unreal Engine
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Steam
Mode(s): Single Player
Reviewed by: Grim Magazine
Our Rating: 4.0 /5
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