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Crow Country is so much more than the sum of its Final Fantasy 7 and Resident Evil-inspired polygonal parts, and probably one of the best horror games of the year

Why SFB Games' latest is probably one of the best horror titles you'll play this year.

Crow Country header image, featuring the name of the game, PS1-style aesthetics, and a heavy blackened vignette around the edges.
Image credit: SFB Games

You remember Crow Country right? Course you do! It's that classic '90s, PSX horror game, the one that's really expensive on eBay these days because it didn't print many copies, but YouTubers started making videos about it and now everyone loves it. Yeah, that Crow Country! Or, I guess, not that Crow Country, considering as it's a game that's releasing in 2024, and not actually three decades old (sorry, old timers, the '90s really were that long ago).

It feels like that's how I should be talking about it, though, because it fits so perfectly within the pantheon of classics like Resident Evil, Silent Hill, and all the rest of them.

Crow Country sells itself quite easily. It's open about the fact that it's inspired by a fun combo of Resident Evil, its main source of gameplay inspirations, and Final Fantasy 7, which you can see in its toy-like, low-poly character designs. It follows Special Agent Mara Agent, a young woman who's tasked with a missing person's case. The stomping grounds? An abandoned theme park. Honestly, I don't really think I need to say much more than that to catch most people's interests, but I'm going to tell you what's so good about this game anyway because I like it a whole lot.

As mentioned, gameplay-wise you'll feel most comfortable if you're familiar with the earlier Resi titles, think one-through-three rather than the more action-oriented later games. All of the environments really expertly capture that pre-rendered feel from both Resi and PSX-era Final Fantasy games, except there's one key difference: none of it is pre-rendered. Where Resi has fixed camera angles and tank controls, Crow Country lets you spin the camera 360 degrees, though you're still locked to a top-down angle.

I think games mostly struggle to make sense of the camera, it's treated as a thing you generally plop behind your player character, maybe making it off-centre slightly, but outside of that it's only purpose is to let you see what your character is doing. The benefit of fixed camera angles is that it restricts what the player can see, in one part leading to some good scares, but also building up some wonderful atmosphere and tension. Crow Country limiting it to just a horizontal spin means you still might struggle to see what's in front of you, as some of the foreground scenery can get in the way of traps and monsters.

The vibes are unmatched.Watch on YouTube

It makes what should just be a chill jaunt through an abandoned theme park all the more menacing, and forces you to be careful and clever about how you move through the space. The spaces themselves are an absolute treat to look at, lovingly presented in a way that makes it feel like a toy box for sickos (that's me). I love theme parks, particularly local ones, because there's so much charm to them, and despite being within the horror genre, Crow Country simply exudes the stuff.

Having such a well designed game world is important for a game like this too, as much like Resi you will have to engage in some backtracking, but it's so well put together, complete with nifty shortcuts you unlock later on, that it never feels like a chore to get around. Conveniently, you can make wandering the park even easier for yourself, as the game also has an Exploration Mode that turns off all the monsters.

Crow Country screenshot of a young woman stood in an old arcade, lit up by the screens of various machines.
Image credit: SFB Games

You'd be fair to assume that this might make the game a bit dull, but there are plenty of puzzles to solve, and the vibes are so tight even without monsters that if combat isn't for you, you're still in for a good time. Combat itself works similarly to Resi too, with the ability to point your gun in almost any direction, things like headshots dealing more damage and the like. It can be a little finicky to get used to at first, but once I got the hang of it the only thing I struggled with was being terrified by some of the incredible monster designs the game features.

There is, of course, a story too! As mentioned, you're on a missing person's case. Specifically, you're after Edward Crow, the owner of the park himself, though for reasons that aren't exactly clear. You aren't the only one after him, as there's a lawyer looking to bring Edward to justice over the injury of a park-goer, and there's one of his shady business partner's on the hunt too.

I won't spoil the story for you, though I will say it's nothing revolutionary. That isn't to say it isn't good either! It isn't overly obtuse, all of the threads tie together very neatly, and it even had me feeling a bit existential at points. I like all of the characters too, they each feel really well defined, and Mara is great as a protagonist - scrappy, funny, ready to face danger, she reminds me of Silent Hill 3's Heather in all of the best ways.

Crow Country key art showing Mara, a young woman with purple hair, walking in front of a dilapidated theme park ticket booth.
This is Mara. | Image credit: SFB Games

Ultimately, there just isn't anything overly negative I can say about Crow Country. Where older survival horror games feel like they waste your time through their clunkiness, Crow Country has none of that, instead offering a smooth, condensed experience that I personally think should put it in the canon of the genre. I felt quite sad when the credits rolled, as it meant that I was technically done with the game - though there are some post-game activities and secrets to find luckily.

Silent Hill 2 Remake is almost definitely releasing later this year, but I can pretty confidently say that Crow Country will be my favourite survival horror of the year – and even if it is a busy time for indie games at the moment, I really think you should make some room for it. Just make sure you get to the park early, Crow-heads like to camp out so they can nab all the fast-passes.


Crow Country comes to PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, PC via Steam, Xbox Series X and Series S on May 9, 2024.

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