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Forget the Silent Hill 2 remake, this Steam Next Fest demo is my most anticipated survival horror game

Hollowbody borrows from some familiar places, and looks to be doing something special with them.

A woman's face is half-shown in muted nearly black and white colours on one side, whilst on the other side, it's shattered like a mirror – and red, and angry. In the bottom corner, the WIshlisted icon.
Image credit: VG247

Later this year, Bloober Team's remake of Silent Hill 2 will finally grace our screens, for better or worse (probably the latter, in my opinion). A 13 minute-long gameplay demonstration was shown off last week, which looks… ok, but to be honest if you ask it's going to have a tough time going up against Hollowbody, a Silent Hill 2, Ghost in the Shell, and Blade Runner inspired survival horror game with the scariest setting anyone has ever faced: Britain.

Ok, I admit it sounds like I'm being a touch sarcastic there (because I am), but the game really is set in Britain, or at least fictionalised, futuristic version of it, and it genuinely does feel quite unnerving. In one part that's definitely because the Steam Next Fest demo slapped me right down in the middle of a street in a vaguely familiar looking, but somewhat ruined city that feels a touch too close to home. In the other, there's some kind of growth, I want to say, spreading everywhere that I felt sick just looking at, desperately hoping it wouldn't suddenly move and touch me.

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Hollowbody puts you in the role of Mica, an "unlicensed black market shipper who will stop at nothing to find her missing partner," or so says the game's description on Steam, whose design and rendering could easily have been lifted from a PS2 horror game that probably costs way too much on eBay. And a PS2 game Hollowbody very much is, complete with tank controls and a fixed camera angle that robs you of some of your agency just like the classics do.

Despite being a throwback in gameplay, it felt refreshing to play something that understands older methods aren't bad - fixed camera angles can serve an important, structural purpose, and lets you deliver information to the player in specific and sometimes frightening ways. Yes, there are jump scares, but mostly the tension comes from not being able to look around a corner before you head down a hallway.

Much like the fixed camera angles, combat is highly reminiscent of Silent Hill 2, too, complete with simple melee attacks and guns with limited ammo. The demo isn't particularly long, it only took me around 45 minutes to beat it, and I was taking it slowly, so I'm not entirely sure how the mostly simple gameplay might evolve. There was one puzzle I had to solve that while not overly complicated did have me thinking a small touch, and worked in tandem with an environmental narrative that was being told, resulting in something quite satisfying.

It's here where I hope the full game really develops itself, because again, the combat really is quite similar to Silent Hill 2's, but more than anything it's the setting that has won me over. I find it a bit frustrating that games are so rarely set in the real world, and when they are they're often just set in the US, or something like a nondescript jungle or desert that doesn't really display a sense of culture or history.

Hollowbody, even in just its brief demo, does a great job of establishing itself, presenting remnants of a near future, now dilapidated in a much further future, that feels both believable, and concerning. Even just walking around and seeing those roadside traffic bollards gave me a "that's Chappie" moment, as silly as it might sound.

The mystery it sets up, of your missing partner, is enticing too, particularly because it withholds so much information from you. All you could really learn of the world in the demo were through these tiny vignettes of past conversations you can listen in on thanks to your radio, hinting at what might have happened, supported by collectible documents of flavour text. They're all ominous, suggesting an imminent societal collapse that has obviously taken place, and feels very reflective of what Britain has been subjected to over the past decade and a half by a certain political party.

With such a short but tight demo, you owe yourself setting the time aside to play, because even if there is a bit of jank here and there, Hollowbody is easily setting itself up to be the best Silent Hill 2 game of the year.

Check out the other featured games in VG247, RockPaperShotgun, and Eurogamer's Wishlisted event at the hub page – including a nice, meaty video that shows you why we're so into the collected games.

Check out Hollowbody – and play the demo for yourself – on Steam.

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