During the mid-20th century, the fear of strange visitors from other worlds was palpable. Rumors, alleged eye-witness accounts, and talk of government cover-ups were all the rage. Fast forward several decades to our present day, and the UFO (or should we say UAP) phenomenon is returning to the public spotlight with unredacted evidence of strange unidentified aircraft making themselves known over the years. So, it stands to reason that an alien invasion might make a killer experience for a horror game.
Greyhill Incident puts you in the shoes and tinfoil hat of a local named Ryan in the rural town of Greyhill. Immediately, strange occurrences begin happening around your home late one night. Upon investigation, you meet Bob, the town’s very own alien conspiracy expert and the two of you witness a flying saucer descend into a cornfield and several slender alien figures disembark. Before long, the aliens begin abducting people and causing havoc around town. It’s up to Ryan to sneak around the streets, bushes, and cornfields of Greyhill to find and save his friends.
"The most maddening element of the game is its focus on stealth, mostly because the stealth mechanics at play are frustrating beyond belief."
In theory, that sounds like a thrilling and horrific adventure. But you’d be horribly mistaken, at least as far as Greyhill Incident is concerned. While the game is being released on multiple platforms, this review is focused on the “Abducted Edition” PS5 version of the game. Let’s start with the gameplay. Like other walking simulator-style horror adventures, you move around the world from the first-person perspective. You collect a wind-up flashlight that is mostly no good to you as it near-instantly alerts aliens to your presence, and you find a policeman’s revolver as a method of self-defense. Only finding ammo for it is like pulling teeth. Bullets are few and far between and they’re hard to spot. You’ll never find a full box of ammunition. You’ll be lucky if you find two tiny rounds lying on a table in a house. They don’t glow or do anything to help draw your attention, they literally blend in with all the other dark objects in a home. The other primary method of defense is a baseball bat. Apparently, Ryan enjoys the sport and this seemingly Signs-inspired weapon is put to use. Though it’s woefully ineffective.
Perhaps, the most maddening element of the game is its focus on stealth, mostly because the stealth mechanics at play are frustrating beyond belief. Aliens will spot you with ease, they walk faster than you do. If you sprint, your stamina runs low. You might be able to get away or hide. Most often, however, the aliens would pluck me out of my hiding spot in a garbage can or an outhouse. But if you attempt to hit an alien with the bat, the action timed with the controller response lags. You need to time your swing a bit before the alien even reaches you and attempts to abduct you. Swinging the bat is slow, it takes nearly 8 seconds to swing the bat three times – the number needed to temporarily knock an alien to the ground.
"Greyhill is shrouded in a fog, making everything painfully hard to see. The flashlight would come in handy if you weren’t afraid of attracting alien attention."
While waiting for your second and third swing to land, you have to dance around the spaceman like a lunatic so he won’t try to grab you. Swinging the bat very slowly three times apparently makes Ryan winded as his stamina drops drastically. Sprinting after knocking an alien to the ground isn’t in the cards and the alien often gets right back up and power walks back over to you to do the whole dance all over again. When an alien does grab you, the game literally tells you to “spam R2” in order to get away. If an alien grabs you too many times in quick succession, then it’s instant game over. If you’re lucky and have at least two bullets on you, two shots to the bulbous noggin of any of these creatures will kill them.
Coming to tutorialization, the game takes a vastly minimal approach here. While you get an idea of what you’re supposed to do based on the dialogue, there’s no directional indicators or cues that help guide you. If you pause the game, very vague instructions appear on screen. “Go to Brandon’s house,” one instruction might say. Great, where’s Brandon’s house? It’s not at all helpful. You might find yourself wandering a bit and trying to fend off the frustrating alien assaults simply attempting to find which way to go. To make matters worse, Greyhill is shrouded in a fog, making everything painfully hard to see. The flashlight would come in handy if you weren’t afraid of attracting alien attention.
As an indie title, it’s easy to forgive the lackluster visual presentation, rigid character models, poor animation, and campy voice acting. But the dialogue and narrative at play are cringe-inducing at best. All of the NPCs are cliché cutouts of what you might expect from any classic alien invasion film. From the town’s eccentric conspiracy theorist camping out in an RV with a tinfoil hat to the NPC whose entire house is adorned in accolades, it’s all quite stereotypical and ridiculously campy. And what are the aliens doing with humans you might ask? Well, they’re experimenting on them, of course, through the classic butt-probing technique. That’s right, you’ll find plenty of bloody probes and hear the terror of humans who are being subjected to such throughout. The entire affair is so embedded in classic alien invasion tropes and character cutouts it’s laughable. That’s no joke. I found myself laughing throughout most of the experience instead of being terrified as the game intends.
"You’ll find plenty of bloody probes and hear the terror of humans who are being subjected to such throughout. The entire affair is so embedded in classic alien invasion tropes and character cutouts it’s laughable. That’s no joke. I found myself laughing throughout most of the experience instead of being terrified."
By the end of the game, you maybe start to care about Ryan and his mission to save a few different people. But the closer to this story is completely unsatisfying and leaves every thread dangling in the air with no resolution. It’s almost like a sequel game was planned – as strange as that might sound. Speaking of the ending, despite the game’s frustratingly slow, robotic, and aimless gameplay, I managed to see the credits roll after a mere two hours. Perhaps, that might be the game’s only saving grace – that it ends prematurely. Still, for the price of this game, the offering is meager – even more minuscule than most add-on, DLC, or expansion content in other games. It’s impossible to justify the $30 price tag for a completely unsatisfying slog that only lasts two hours.
Greyhill Incident truly feels like a lackluster attempt to mimic classic films like Close Encounters of the Third Kind. While the idea isn’t at all preposterous or bad, this particular offering suffers from frustrating, underdeveloped gameplay, poor character, and story creation, and painfully dark and muddy visuals. You’re better off making your own tin foil hat and watching UFO documentaries.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 5.
It’s a fun idea conceptually.
Underdeveloped, rigid, and frustrating stealth gameplay; Dark and muddy visuals; A campy, cliché story; Extremely short experience for its price.