I’ve never really been afraid of clowns. While some would cringe in fear at the sight of Pennywise, Bozo, or Major Bedhead, I found them to be okay. They weren’t anything special to me. I watched It without any real fear — in fact, I really enjoy any film with Tim Curry. It wasn’t until the game Clown House by Aslan Game Studio that I actually felt some sort of fear for clowns.
Aslan Game Studio is a Turkish indie development company founded in January 2014. Created by Ahmet Kâmil Keleş, the company has several games under their belt, like Alkekopter, Pawn of the Dead, and Self, the last two mentioned being horror games. Clown House is their latest, and the game is available on iOS, Android, Pc, Mac, and Linux.
I wasn’t expecting much from Clown House to be honest. I had seen screenshots, but I figured it was just another horror game. Despite that I scare easily, I love horror, so I thought I’d give the game a try anyway. The main menu doesn’t offer much as far as scare goes. It’s just a black and white image of a clown with creepy music. The actual game made me jump, gasp, and fear-quit on several occasions, though. I almost threw my phone across the subway at one point. (Note for any potential players: don’t play it in public).
The game takes place in a house with a bunch of clowns “for no particular reason”. Some clowns want to kill you, but you don’t know which ones for sure. You must navigate through the house to find a key to escape. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, everything’s black and white, and all you have is a single bullet in your gun and a dim flashlight.
Exploring the house is hard enough when there isn’t a map of the layout, but the fact that the key is located in a different spot each time gave it a bit of a challenge. Sometimes the key would be on the side table in the living room when you first walk in, and other times I would have to venture further into the house and potentially die from those clowns. What is also interesting is that the clowns’ behaviour change every time. Some will harm you but others won’t, and you don’t always have time to pull out your gun to defend yourself. If you do happen to shoot an innocent clown you will become one of them — so decide wisely. Also, you only have that single bullet, so if more than one clown comes after you, run and hope you can get away from them!
There is one clown in particular that I hate. He sits on the couch in the living room and has either completely ignored me, or killed me if I’ve gotten too close, so keep a good eye on him. There are also times when I’ve been exploring the house and clowns slowly come into view, standing in the hallway and barely lit up, causing me to turn around and nope out of there.
It doesn’t help that the creepy music in the background is the same as the music in any and every horror movie to ever exist. Any time the music made a sudden change my heart beat would pick up, or if a clown’s hands came into view I would quickly look away because I knew I was going to die. I even tried playing it in the dark, but quickly regretted that decision and ended up watching Netflix until I calmed down enough to get to sleep.
The game is pretty solid on mobile devices, but the house is the same every time, and the clowns are located in the same positions, so it can cause the game to feel repetitive. It’s better to not play it extensively so that it doesn’t get overbearing like slasher films (without the comic relief or a simple break, they lose their suspense and fear). It would be nice to have a variety of clowns or different levels to change things up a bit, but as I mentioned before, it’s pretty solid.
Overall, I’m not disappointed in the game. I think it’s good for a quick, short scare and has the potential to be something more.
Until then, I’m going to lay off clown movies for a while.