I was so confused in the opening minutes of The Greyhill Incident.
Was this space horror game meant to evoke found footage style? Or to be a dark commentary on politics in rural America? Or to bring in the "so bad that it's good" feelings common in the space horror genre?
I found myself figuratively (and literally) stumbling in the dark to find the plot of The Greyhill Incident, which I really wanted to love because it's an indie game and space horror — the perfect combo for me.
But somewhere in the game's opening minutes, I began to lose interest in the characters real fast. "Dad, we need to get out of this cursed place, I hate this neighborhood hole," says a preteen glaring at the 1990s-era television with poor signal. As if overcome by his confusing statement he just lay there, listlessly, as dad rambled something about not believing the government.
Eventually, I (in control of "Dad") got to go outside in search of ... something interfering with the TV. After I whacked Dad drearily against trees, trailers, anything but my objective in the cloistering dark, eventually I found my way and a blurry image emerged of a silver alien craft landing in a nearby field. Now, I thought, the story will get going. Sadly it only got worse from there.
Related: Best space horror games
Refugium Games describes the plot of 'The Greyhill Incident' as "a story-driven survival-horror game about an classic alien invasion [that] takes place during the early 90s."
The early 90s is indeed an interesting setting for conspiracy-driven stories; without getting into details on this family-friendly site, there were a few unfortunate incidents involving survivalists that (like our characters here) had very negative opinions about the U.S. government.
I thought it would be interesting to see what aliens would add to that historical backdrop, but the conspiracists and extraterrestrials alike were forgettable in both shape and in character. Without spoiling too much of the plot, suffice it to say the aliens not only don't look scary, they also aren't too hard to kill. There's also a strange lack of motive to their actions, which perhaps is the point?
Other self-imposed limitations made the game very hard to navigate. Extremely dark settings and not infrequent graphic aberrations made it hard for me to make sense of anything. While I did watch The X-Files in the 1990s with poor TV reception (as my family didn't have cable) and am used to vague alien settings, the plot didn't make up for the things I was unable to see.
I do want to put in a word in favor for Refugium Games, however, because they're a small, indie developer and so many other big websites have had negative reviews about their new game.
The team certainly worked hard on this, and after playing the game through, I honestly think with more development time to improve the plot pacing, voice recording, and bit of a graphics touch up would have moved the game to a decent game (at the least) instead of the mess that we currently have. And that may be already ongoing.
The developers have made changes in response to some of the early complaints that made gameplay even more difficult, including improvements to stealth, stamina and the flashlight. So stay tuned, and check in periodically — my review may be happily out of date down the road, but for now, I'd give this one a miss.
The Greyhill Incident is available now on Steam, PS5, and Xbox Series X/S.
Get the Space.com Newsletter
Breaking space news, the latest updates on rocket launches, skywatching events and more!
Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for Space.com for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace