Be Careful What You Wish For
HIGH Atmosphere and aesthetics are on point.
LOW Easily exploitable mechanics.
WTF How close it feels to current events.
Hi everyone! Eugene Sax here with another review from GameCritics.com.
Fear is a powerful motivator, and can easily be used as a tool to achieve grand plans. The Fabulous Fear Machine does just that by granting those who use it whatever their heart desires in return for adding their story to the machine forever.
In this map-and-menu-based resource management strategy title, players take the role of someone who wants to achieve their greatest wishes by using the machine. Players will employ agents to explore areas of the world and breed fear by spreading urban legends and conspiracy theories. The player isn’t the only one trying to achieve their plans, however — there are rivals that will put their own designs into motion and get in the players’ way.
In each city, players can mine essences used to increase the potency of the legends and conspiracies they spread. Blood for conspiracies about passion and violence, visions for the occult, and politics for conspiracies of power, just to name a few. Additionally, agents can be used to infiltrate the inner circles of rivals to gain blackmail or investigate events that could lead to additional resources or spread more fear. As players increase fear and gain resources, agents will level up their skills so they can get resources faster and be more efficient in helping the player achieve their goal.
All of this is presented in a pulp horror comic art style which really brings the atmosphere to life. Everything is a little fantastical and whimsical, but in a deranged sort of way. There’s also a Twitter-like social media news blurb at the top of the screen which promotes the successes of the player and the failures of the rivals, further enhancing the experience.
Atmosphere and aesthetics is about all The Fabulous Fear Machine has, though. Save for the final campaign which does make players rethink how the mechanics work in a narratively appropriate way, the game doesn’t push back on the player in difficulty. Once they figure out how to get the maximum bonus fear on conspiracies, that ace can be played multiple times throughout. For example, players can intentionally delay themselves on each level to mine a bunch of extra resources so the next missions are that much easier, and there’s no penalty for doing so. By the end of each campaign, I was waiting around just to be able to see all of the legends and conspiracies, even though I could have completed things much earlier. Thankfully, though, there is a fast-forward button to skip past a lot of the downtime so it never gets to the point of boredom.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time with The Fabulous Fear Machine. Aesthetics and charm kept me enthralled and invested, even if the mechanics didn’t put up a challenge. The game is short enough so that players don’t have to grind for hours to see everything it has to offer. It’s perfect as something that can be started and completed within a weekend, and I highly recommend the journey.
For me: The Fabulous Fear Machine gets an 8.5 out of 10.
Disclosures: This game is developed by Fictorama Studios, and published by AMC Games. It is currently available on PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher. Approximately 9 hours of play was spent playing the game, and all campaigns were completed. This game has no multiplayer modes.
Parents: This game has not been rated by the ESRB. The game focuses on spreading fear, conspiracies, and lies by manipulation and deceit. There are many depictions of drug use, bloody violence (such as getting eyes gouged out), and in one case a depiction of a mass suicide. There is some cursing between missions, but minor.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: There is text in the game, but the text is not able to be altered or resized. Voices and audio serve mostly for aesthetics. In my view, the game is fully accessible.
Controls: Controls are not remappable, and there is no control screen. Players will use the mouse to click and drag agents and conspiracies around the map to each item they want to interact with. Tapping the space bar or clicking the right mouse button will pause or resume time from progressing in the game, while holding the space bar or right mouse button will fast forward time.