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Backlog Impressions | Not It

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Halloween, the spookiest night of the year for a whole lot of reasons. It’s a holiday most people find themselves looking forward to as soon as those summer months come to a close. Hot drinks, warm bonfires, and cozy sweaters to ward off both the physical and figmental Halloween chills. Not to mention all the candy your tummy can handle! 

Unfortunately for the residents of Easthollow though, Halloween not only brings a nip in the air, but a deadly, century old curse. A curse, unbeknownst to our leading lady Katie who has just moved into town this very day. One that has dire consequences to any residents found still within the town’s borders after nightfall. According to legend a man was murdered by some townsfolk in the early 1800’s and placed a curse on not only his killers, but all who reside within Easthollow. Every year on October 31st his spirit is said to return and possess someone who remained in town, whether that be a longstanding local or a passerby in the wrong place and time. Any who fail to evacuate must somehow survive until morning or risk being mercilessly slaughtered.

Not It from Snowhaven Studios presents a chilling premise to be sure, but in the end what sort of bag were we left holding? One full of tricks or one full of treats?

The artwork for Not It is unique and creative, albeit simplistic. However it very much suits the style of story the devs were going for. There’s something about that sketchy, unpolished art style that lends itself very well to a good spooky story. There weren’t a great deal of variations for backgrounds and only a handful of characters, but for a story this short it’s completely understandable. All the characters had strong, definable personalities, whether or not they were all likeable is a whole other fable to be told.

Most lines were voiced, other than Katie’s inner monologue or any narration. Honestly, the voice performances were just ok. For the most part they didn’t portray a great deal of emotion and more often than not, kind of fell flat. Except for Joseph who’s emotional status was constantly at eleven regardless of what was happening. One thing that I found to be odd though was that in the settings menu each character had their own slider bar for voice volume, and what was even more perplexing than that, was that I found myself having to use it. Initially the music was far too loud and drowned out a lot of the voices. No biggie, but when I went into the settings to adjust the volume levels I found that not only are there standard slider bars for music and voice volumes, but additional slider bars for each individual character as well. Thinking that was strange but not something I was willing to tinker with, I went back to the game only to discover that indeed, after watching a few scenes, all the characters seemed to have very different voice volumes. Vinny was deafening, while Mike was barely audible. Not something I can say in all my years of gaming that I have ever encountered before. While I appreciate the settings options to remedy this, I wonder why it’s not something that has been dealt with on its own if it’s a known problem? You know, prior to the voices making it to the final version of the game.

The story, as I mentioned earlier, is very short regardless of what choices you end up making. So the shock factor, or even the dramatic build up that you’d typically find with a horror story, in this case, just didn’t have enough time to bloom properly unfortunately. The essence of a good horror story is there for sure, but with only at best fifteen to twenty minutes from start to finish, it’s a tall order to flesh out a plot at all, let alone an impactful one. I was really intrigued initially with the game synopsis and again when Katie was given all the historical background, but regrettably it was mostly just set up for a mediocre finale to each plot thread.

Much like the voice acting the characters never had much emotion or reaction to what was happening around them. My first play through two innocent people were shot and killed within a few minutes of each other and hardly anyone even batted an eye over it. The next thing you knew it was daytime and that was the end of the story. The possessed person was never revealed and no one suffered any consequences other than Katie mentioning she has nightmares. 

Your choices didn’t seem to make much difference either, other than to put you in different places with different characters. The lack of those major changes kept me from really wanting to go beyond a few playthroughs, and the different endings I was able to unlock were all equally lackluster.

There is a gallery to keep track of the various endings you’ve unlocked so far which is always nice. There is also a gore filter option given at the very beginning of the game which I felt was a thoughtful addition just in case there is anyone who doesn’t want to see any blood. Other than that however, there wasn’t anything terribly remarkable about this visual novel that made it stand out among the plethora of others out there.

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If you’re in the market for a quickie Halloween experience then I’d say Not It is worth the few dollars being asked. However, I wouldn’t go in expecting much depth of plot, or character. The game is simply too short to achieve that promised spooky adventure, even with multiple subsequent playthroughs.

If you are interested in trying out Not It for yourself you can find it on Steam and itch.io.