icon Author: Alexkayl
The Descent Review

Not to be confused with the acclaimed horror movie released in 2005, The Descent is a trip down a mysterious mine riddled with death, disappearances, and other occurrences that the authorities can’t quite grasp. As an investigator, you go down the mine and try to reach the literal bottom of the mystery in this walking horror sim, a decent attempt at the genre but one that has the quirky habit of throwing scares at you to make sure that you didn’t fall asleep in the meantime. It’s extremely slow-paced, rigid in design, and gets tiresome before its short narrative is over.

A Severe Case of The Locked Doors

The Descent does feature a nice atmosphere, with the story playing through a single night – because who wouldn’t go and investigate a dark, potentially haunted mine at night? As you enter the premises and explore the many rooms before getting the elevator to work, the environment looks good, with detailed graphics although suffering from heavy asset reuse. The sound is appropriately chilling, with the gust of wind, the creaking old wood, and the whispers of the unknown providing a nice sense of dread.

But the definition of walking simulator is taken too literally here, as movement is agonizingly slow. Using the sprint option doesn’t result in a big improvement as pace remains mild, almost like what the actual walking speed should be by default. Besides, there’s no sprint toggle, so you’re left with one finger constantly pressing the key almost from start to end, otherwise you may die of boredom well before any of the secrets of the mine get to you.

Add an intense dose of backtracking and the result is a game where you’ll be lost and confused most of the time, especially when down in the mines where nothing seems to help – there are barely any reference points, the corridors all look the same and often result in dead ends, and there seem to be various instances of the layout changing due to scripted events, adding to the overall confusion.

Gameplay isn’t exciting either, with barely any puzzles to solve beyond finding a key or a fuse to use somewhere. Walking sims don’t have to offer genius challenges to keep players immersed, but The Descent tests your patience in ways that are hard to understand, hiding triggers behind events that don’t require any wit or logical thinking, just reading note after note of miners who firsthand experienced the events of the mine. The diary barely lists any objectives and it’s always very vague, forcing you to regularly backtrack to budge one of the countless locked doors, click everywhere in the hopes of triggering an event, and go for another merry round of checking if a door has unlocked.

Overall, it’s not a fun gameplay loop, unless you consider frustrating enclosed areas – first – and repetitive labyrinthine corridors – later – as your idea of entertainment. To make matters worse, your flashlight has all the power of a dim candle, and night-vision mode turns out to be your best bet to investigate in the dark, as it’s very easy to fail spotting a key or a lever.

Horrors of Mine

The Descent could have worked as an enjoyable journey into hell, with a predictable but entertaining design, but sadly it doesn’t work to its fullest. It’s riddled with cheap jumpscares and a good part of them are flawed, requiring you to turn around or you’ll fail to see them in due time. By the latter half of the game, I was literally jaded at the creatures that ran in my direction, again, as this scare tactic had quickly run its course.

During the two hours that it takes to complete the adventure – if you don’t get hopelessly lost and give up, that is – you are going to curse doors, the agonizingly slow movement speed, endless notes, infinite corridors, and a design that doesn’t try to offer any sort of stimulating challenge. It’s the cookie cutter definition of an amateur horror game, low priced but not really worth diving into despite the acceptable atmosphere, if you can turn a blind eye on the extreme asset reuse. In the end, this is a descent that doesn’t really leads anywhere, and you're better off playing any of the two first Outlast games for claustrophobic chills.


  • The graphics are enjoyable although with heavy asset reuse
  • Sound effects are good at conveying a sense of dread


  • Movement speed is painfully slow, even sprinting
  • Design is frustrating, forcing you to backtrack and hope to trigger the next event
  • Mines are true labyrinths of confusion
  • No real puzzles, just find notes and a few items to progress
  • Flashlight is too weak, making night-vision a better option
  • Overuse of cheap jumpscares
  • Ends in two hours

Rating: 4/10

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