Short narrative adventures are hit or miss with most people. Some like the fact that they can sit down and absorb the entire experience within a single afternoon and others feel they are too short for the price they’re asking for. Personally, if a game immerses me and delivers a memorable experience that has me intrigued and entertained throughout, the length doesn’t even factor into my enjoyment and opinion. The Suicide of Rachel Foster may only take around three to four hours to experience, but it’s an experience you’ll not forget.
Developed by One-O-One Games and published by the adventure fans over at Daedalic Entertainment, The Suicide of Rachel Foster is best played at night, on your own, with headphones – something I attempted but gave up on around half-way through. Despite not being a horror or ‘spooky’ game as such, the game is quite disturbing at times with its creepy atmosphere and sensitive subjects. So, without spoiling anything, let’s take a look at the latest game which absorbed me within its world…
The Suicide of Rachel Foster is a game that focuses on, surprising, the suicide of a young girl named Rachel Foster back in 1983. However, this tragic event occurred ten years ago, the day you and your mother left your father behind at his hotel, never to return. Why did you leave in such a hurry and not return until both your mother and father had passed away? It turns out that your father was having an affair with Rachel and made her pregnant, events which led up to her killing herself and tarnishing the family name.
If it was up to Nicole, our protagonist and daughter of the above two parents, she would never step foot within the hotel again due to the terrible memories and ghosts within its walls. However, due to her mother asking that the hotel is sold and proceeds to go to Rachel’s family within her last Will and Testament, Nicole has no choice but to return once more in order to check everything is good to go. Unfortunately, once she steps foot within the desolate and run-down building, the weather takes a turn for the worse, trapping her in the last place she wanted to be right now!
So, with the guidance of a friendly voice on the other end of the telephone, Nicole decides to inspect and audit the hotel so that she can leave as soon as the storm outside calms down. But, as she moves from room to room, seeing things she’s not seen in over ten years, she begins to uncover secrets about her parents and the tragic events which led to Rache’ls death. The Suicide of Rachel Foster is a horrific incident that not only forced her parents to split up but also caused the downfall of the family business due to their name (which she no longer kept) being dragged through the mood by the locals. As such, Nicole sets out to investigate the mystery herself, a mystery which was so much more than anyone could have expected…
The Suicide of Rachel Foster is an interactive narrative adventure game. Unlike Draugen, which I reviewed recently, there’s more of an emphasis on exploration without direction and piecing together the events yourself by reading documents, picking up objects, and talking to your new friend on the phone. If I was to liken this game to one which you may have played previously, I would say it’s like Gone Home and What Remains of Edith Finch. You’re given a map to help with direction and navigation, but it doesn’t tell you where you are (this isn’t Harry Potter), you must use your surroundings in order to find your current location and plan from there – as in real life.
The game itself is nicely broken into chapters which are essentially each of the days which you’re stranded here – just like in Draugen – with each day offering you a different task such as looking around certain floors or investigating a strange room you spotted the day before. As a new objective is presented to you, either via your friend or Nicole has an idea about what she should do next, it’s written on a post-it but not blatantly shown on the map. This allows you to go exploring for yourself as you wander the lonely hallways of this rather big The Shining-like hotel.
Although the narrative itself is quite linear, offering you no deviation from the set direction the game wishes to pull you in, there are a number of documents, items, and exposition for you to see around the hotel. These all help you further construct events and understand the story more than what is being told to you as you move forwards. This kind of leads me on to the visual beauty of the game and the attention to detail delivered. You can use your super-sonic zoom ability (I really wish I could do that) and read almost any piece of paper, book, or Cassette inlay you see lying around – small details which would usually be blurry or ineligible on other games.
I particularly like the ‘Read & Houlders’ sensitive Shampoo and/or Conditioner (probably for Dandruff-ridden hair…).
Speaking of the visuals, The Suicide of Rachel Foster looks amazing, despite the tragic subject matter. If you’ve ever seen The Shining, the hotel within this game is very similar – right down to a similarly designed carpet. Due to the venue being abanded, and certain areas having no windows, drafts, power issues, and low maintenance, simply walking around the place on your lonesome fills you with the heebie-jeebies, especially if you’re wearing headphones!
The sound designer has delivered a truly terrifying experience even though the game isn’t actually being touted as a horror game. Without giving anything away, as you progress further into the narrative you’ll begin to hear noises all around you. Are they the sounds of doors and windows blowing open due to the storm, or are they the sounds of the ghosts and lost souls who haunt the hotel? If you’re wearing headphones then you’re going to jump and maybe even let out a little shriek (as I did). My headphones even flew off my head and hit the light switch, filling my room with a mysterious light which remained until the credits rolled – I have no idea how that happened…
The visuals themselves are far beyond what I was expecting from an indie developer – everything looks so clean and ‘real’ despite me having to run the game on ‘high’ due to my older hardware. I did try and boot it up on Geforce Now (for their much more powerful GPU), but the game isn’t on their service. I do have two complaints/issues with the visuals though:
1. Everything seemed a little ‘blurry’ until you zoom into things. I imagine this was a design choice as it made the game feel more realistic like your focal point isn’t making everything crystal clear at all times. This leads me to…
2. The Depth of Field was rather sporadic at times. As above, the game has a very active focal point system which makes whatever the centre of the screen is looking at clear, and the rest of the environment blurry – the Depth of Field. However, due to this being active all the time, it was constantly changing what was clear and blurry as I looked around. Again, this is a realistic mechanic which worked really well, but I would have liked a toggle so I could disable the feature as I feel some of the game’s beauty is hidden behind the ‘blur’.
A game like this is only as good as its narrative – it could look like the most realistic and amazing game ever, but if it’s not interesting, what’s the point? Thankfully, I was really intrigued and invested in the story being told within The Suicide of Rachel Foster. I felt the two main characters were well acted and both had very defined personalities, and their connection was quite fun and dynamic due to how much of a bitch Nicole is and how nice the guy sounded on the phone. Although I didn’t feel a real connection like I did with Alice and Edward in Draugen, that’s to be expected as Nicole didn’t want to be in the hotel and the guy on the phone is a stranger to her, so there shouldn’t be any bond or connection.
As the game progresses and you uncover new information on the tragic death of Rachel, things start to get more intense and serious, touching upon subjects some people may not like or feel comfortable with. This further emphasises how good the writing is as even I felt uncomfy at times. Although there aren’t horrific moments like we saw in Layers of Fear 2, The Suicide of Rachel Foster still manages to fill you with suspense, dread, fear, distraught, and unsettling. I must admit that the sounds and music are a key factor in these emotions though.
There is one flaw, something I can’t get into too much as I don’t want to give anything away. The ending of the game felt a little ‘off’ to me, there wasn’t really enough explanation on what was going on, why things happened, who people were, and what Nicole was thinking. After completing the game I headed over to the Steam forums (avoid them if you don’t want spoilers) and I read a few theories on the ending. They helped me construct my own opinions and feelings about the events which happened at the end, giving me more of an understanding and enjoying the experience that little bit more.
However, without having found answers to the questions I still had once the credits rolled, I don’t think I would have fully understood certain aspects of the story. I will say this though – there are two endings to the game, so I’m going to replay it again in a few weeks – even if the only difference is the satisfaction that I’ve done both alternatives.
The Suicide of Rachel Foster delivers a haunting narrative within a beautiful, yet creepy, isolated hotel. With only an unknown companion on the phone to keep you company, you’re trapped in the last place you’d ever want to be, surrounded by memories of the past and secrets best left hidden from the world. Although delivering a conclusion that left me with questions, the experience throughout the entire three-hour narrative had me intrigued, invested, and captivated as to what we’ll uncover next and what’s around the corner.
If you play games via PC and you’re looking for a well-designed and interesting story to play through, check out The Suicide of Rachel Foster. I’m hoping the game also comes to consoles at some point in the future (which I believe it is doing), as it means I’ll get to relive the story again from the comfort of my sofa.
*If you like the look of the game and want to pick it up – please consider using our Affiliate link for Green Man Gaming HERE*
**The Suicide of Rachel Foster obviously touches upon some rather serious topics and events. If you ever feel like you’re in a situation where you need someone to talk to or offer you some form of help and support, here is a list of people you can contact (worldwide) based upon your country: https://happyhappyvegan.com/suicide-hotlines-list/. There is also a vast amount of information and support available from Safe in our World on their website here: https://safeinourworld.org/ – simply click on ‘Support’ and take a look at the comprehensive list of subjects they offer advice upon. You don’t have to deal with things on your own – there are people out there who want to help.**
The Suicide of Rachel Foster£14.99
- - Very atmospheric with brilliant sound design and high quality visuals
- - Tells a very interesting story which unfolds at a decent pace
- - Lets you free-roam most of the hotel on your own as you look at and read various items
- - The voice acting is very well done, perfectly immersing you
- - Pulls off 'creepy' without resorting to jump scares and monsters
- - With a playtime of around three to four hours, I was left wanted a bit more as the credits rolled
- - Some of the narrative towards the end is open for interpretation as it left me with a few questions
- - The Depth of Field effect is great, and realistic, but it felt a little strong and sporadic sometimes, leaving my surroundings naturally blurrier than usual