Search for traces of a terrifying creature.
PC Release: 2012
By Ian Coppock
The Slender Man is one of the most beloved fictional characters of Teh Interwebs. I use the term “beloved” quite seriously, because a Google search for “Slender Man” will yield a staggering amount of fanfiction and speculation concerning the character. But this fervor is not the Slender Man’s alone, nor is the universe that he inhabits. Another beastie stalks the same worlds and minds as Slendy, a creature that knows no bounds when it comes to terror. The Rake shares the Slender Man’s penchant for spreading pain and fear, but with a savage thirst for blood.
So let’s talk about its game!
The Rake is split between two maps: Back to Asylum and Hostel. The first map’s protagonist is a nameless person who’s returned to an asylum he/she was once incarcerated in. You’re searching for your former cellmate, who has vanished.
The second map I have not yet played, partially because of technical problems and also because the first map caused quite enough damage to my voicebox, thank you very much.
The asylum is a stark, barren hellhole, dripping with clues as to your friend’s whereabouts. Distant scratchings and footsteps turn into stains of blood, accompanied by increasingly panicked screams from beyond your position. The gradual evolution of these clues amped up the atmosphere, to the point that I was ready to pee my pants at the word “whitewalls”.
As you go, you start seeing strange shadows. The last footstep of a passerby as you enter another room. Small sounds and sights that just ITCH away at you. When I finally caught a glimpse of the Rake, fully half of my scream came from the tension that’d built up by that point.
The Rake’s appearances are cursory at first, but they increase in frequency as you get deeper into the asylum. When you find the penultimate clue, the bloodthirsty creature begins stalking you relentlessly.
Unlike the Slender Man, who kills you if you look at him for too long, the Rake will shred you to pieces should you look away from it. In order to escape the asylum with your life, you have to walk backwards, feeling your way around walls and corners, as it follows from only a few feet away. As you get further in the game, the Rake becomes less forgiving with how long you look away. By the time you’re near the end, you’re playing the world’s deadliest game of Red Light-Green Light.
The makers of The Rake understand that a monster stays scary when you can’t see it as well. Even up close, the Rake is swathed in shadows. Different parts of its body, mostly his eyes and the long claws for which the creature is named, are always there though. Yay.
The tension in this game is excruciating. Balancing your need to find an exit with your need to watch the Rake is a soul-crushing and difficult task. It’s not impossible, but this double-bind of terror kept my adrenaline up for the entire twenty-minute adventure. Horror fans will have their addiction sated and more by The Rake‘s dreadful makeup.
The level design in The Rake is deliciously disorienting. You have to maneuver maze-like rows of rooms and corridors. It helps to memorize your route so that you spend less time rubbing against walls, or worse, cornering yourself. The Rake won’t attack unless you move away, but it will watch and wait for any chance to dash forward and slay you. While the design is great, the artwork is a bit sparse. Whole rooms are empty sets of white walls, which are more boring than terrifying. A little more detail here and there couldn’t hurt this game’s visual appeal.
That’s about the only complaint I have, though. Similar to the terror of keeping your eye away from the Slender Man, constantly watching the Rake is a blood-curdling task. You know its there. You know it wants to murder you, and it will get its chance if you mess up. The tension is like walking a tightrope over a pit of zombies.
The Rake is a masterpiece of horror and by far the scariest game we’ve yet seen in Short Horror Week II. How tragic, then, that the game’s website is overrun by malware. I downloaded this game months ago and have just now played it, but a short visit to The Rake‘s homepage nearly set my computer on fire. I’m hoping that this game’s makers will, I don’t know… notice the problem? And get right to work on it. Until it’s fixed, stay away. It might be worth checking Desura or Mod DB for the game, though.
You can buy The Rake here.
Thank you for reading! My next review will be posted in a few days. You can follow Art as Games on Twitter @IanLayneCoppock, or friend me at username Art as Games on Steam. Feel free to leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with a game that you’d like to see reviewed, though bear in mind that I only review PC games.