[Horror Game Review] The Mask Reveals Disgusting Face

This one’s truly an oddity. The circumstances of its creation are almost more interesting to discuss than the game itself. The Mask Reveals Disgusting Face comes to us from Russian developer Zykov Eddy, who has quite a few projects under his belt by now, all of them built on the eDuke32 engine.

You read that right. The modernized source port of the venerable old BUILD engine underlying classic fps games like Duke Nukem 3D, Blood, Shadow Warrior and Redneck Rampage. It’s found an unlikely new lease on life because of the spate of popular pixelated horror games coming out.

Given that the aesthetic actually is lower res by far than what BUILD could originally do, even on a 486DX/66, it’s entirely up t the job. What more do you need? Why bother with Unity or Unreal Engine 4 to make a game like this? Having made loads of usermaps for BUILD engine games, I can attest to how easy it is to learn and use.

Still, an odd choice in 2014, when this game was made. Nothing about the game suffers for it however. It’s actually a really nicely done, if traditional, horror puzzle adventure. There are the usual tasks like finding a flashlight to go down a dark tunnel the game won’t permit you to otherwise, finding batteries for it, finding keys for locked doors and so on.

For an amateur game in particular, it’s all very seamlessly implemented. The storyline has to do with a depressed man who seeks an escape from his life, spending a month in an abandoned house on the edge of town. Only to wake up one day to find it closed in by bars which appeared out of nowhere while he was sleeping.

This theme of feeling trapped, both metaphorically by depression and literally by the house itself, defines the game’s narrative. I don’t know what I expected from an indie pixel horror game, but it wasn’t a reasonably meaningful commentary on mental illness and isolation.

I can say very little else about the narrative without spoiling the ending. Sufficed to say there’s a lot to like here, given the amateur pedigree of the game. But then it’s also far from Zykov Eddy’s first project, some other notable titles from him including 3D versions of Undertale and Yume Nikki.

The Mask Reveals Disgusting Face is short and simple, but achieves what it sets out to. I found it thoroughly satisfying, mildly thought provoking, and aspects of it haunted me days after I completed the game. I’m giving it an 8/10. Download it here.

All images courtesy of Zykov Eddy

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