Rubycone’s Hektor is a first-person adventure title that takes place in an abandoned research facility. The game plays on the terror one may feel when extremely disoriented, by constantly shifting elements in the environment and switching corridors around. ‘Psychological’ has become a bit of a buzz word when it comes to defining a horror game. Unfortunately in this case, Hektor just doesn’t fit the description of psychological horror, as the experience is plagued by glitches and poorly executed jump scares.
When considering the term psychological in relation to horror games, I think of something severely affecting the mental state of myself and who I’m controlling. Perhaps it’s easy to attach the term to just about anything in horror, but I often feel it seems a tad inappropriate to describe so many titles it’s used for.
In Hektor’s description, the deep fear stemming from confusion is a boasting point. Psychological horror is something I would absolutely use to describe Hektor if it were pitched to me, but after playing it that’s just simply not the case. Initially, I was a little uneasy when I realized that the door I just entered from was gone. Yet several glitches and some (literally) sickening effects later, I was more frustrated than disturbed.
Slowly descending into madness in Hektor is not something I would describe as a deep, psychological experience. The game preached that I mustn’t forget to take my pills, and I tried my best to keep a steady supply of the Benzo. It wasn’t because I was particularly dreading the potential horrifying consequences of being chased by Hektor’s big evil, but it was because I couldn’t go long dealing with the wobbly effects that would start if I didn’t take my pills. It took me about two and a half hours to beat Hektor, but it definitely wasn’t possible for me in one sitting. The wavy effect that turned the environment into an absolute mess made me physically ill, and I really wished there was a way to lessen it.
When I’m told psychological horror, a mass of jump scares isn’t particularly something that comes to mind, either. Yet maybe twenty minutes in, and Hektor starts them. The first time was frightening, but when Hektor threw a few monsters at me and they mostly ended up stuck on something, it sort of ruined the experience. After a while, it became more funny than anything than to lead big blade hands guy through a door, only to watch him fly up and down against it trying to chase me.
The world is something I wanted to like, as I enjoyed the idea Hektor had, but not the execution. There were too many times when I was stopping to handle a glitch or trying too hard to understand what the disembodied voices of Hektor were trying to say. I could never understand, but I think one wanted me to go in the shoulder room at some point, whatever that may be.
Outside of the glitches and clumsy enemies, Hektor sort of plays like Amnesia and other related titles. I fumbled around empty corridors, looking for pills and other supplies. On several occasions I blew out my lighter from moving too fast, which were probably the most scary experiences in the game for me. My favorite part about Hektor was the way everything around me shifted. I would enter one room, search it, and turn around only to realize my original entrance was gone and a different door or two had appeared. Yet, no matter how much I want to sing praises for this part of the game, that single aspect is just not enough to redeem it.
There just wasn’t a lot to Hektor other than a story that I would describe as anything but psychological horror and glitches. Hektor’s pitch is something that differs greatly from the actual experience. I wanted something that picked my brain, and played on the disorienting feelings of being so turned around. What I got were several jump scares that more often than not just ended in failure, as they were more comical than horrifying.
Hektor has a lot going for it under its layers of problems. The system it’s built around is solid, and I’d like to see Rubycone either tighten up the Hektor experience or try their hand at something similar again. The sounds of Hektor, outside of the dialogue, are all fantastic. While I’ve made it painfully clear I didn’t enjoy the visual effects of descending into madness, I did enjoy the music. Depending on what I was doing, the music would change with the moment, it was a nice touch.
I finished Hektor rather disappointed. The premise was something I went into excited, but the game never really fulfilled anything it set out to do. I walk away from Hektor still wanting to see something else from the developer. The ambition and potential is there, but Hektor misses the mark this time.