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Backlog Review | Claire Extended Cut

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I take a look at the creepy hospital simulator, Claire: Extended Cut by Hailstorm Games!

NOPE General Hospital

Sometimes in life, you need to ask yourself the important questions. Like what would be the worst place to be left alone after dark? Some people might say a graveyard, others, the streets of Chicago. Well, although either of those situations would be less than ideal, my personal pick would be, an abandoned and decrepit hospital. You know there’s gotta be ghosts rocking those halls. But what if we took the whole creepy abandoned hospital thing one step further by adding a few extra layers of filth, guts, and mind bending shadow creatures?

Well, this time on The Backlog Odyssey we’re taking a look at the game that hides butterflies in the trash and has abnormally large ventilation shafts, Claire: Extended Cut. So patiently lounge in the waiting room, read some outdated beauty magazines and try to avoid getting coughed on, because it’s time for another Backlog Review!

Extending the Fear

Claire: Extended Cut is a 2D side scrolling survival horror game (wait, that sounds familiar!) developed by Hailstorm Games and released on Steam after being greenlit in 2014. But at that time it was simply known as Claire. It wasn’t until two years later in 2016 when it arrived on consoles that the “Extended Cut” subtitle was added. And that’s because during the process of porting Claire, Hailstorm took the opportunity to enhance the game with improved level design, new map mechanics, and various other features such as New Game+, to polish the final product. 

And although it’s still known as just Claire on Steam, even today, the devs took the effort to push all of the updates and enhancements used during the porting process, to the PC version, so there’s parity across all platforms! Now that’s what I like to hear!

It’s All in the Mind?

In Claire: Extended Cut you play as… well… Claire. A dejected teen who has found herself stuck between a rock and a hard place after being abandoned by her father and left with the responsibility of caring for her now hospitalized and comatose mother. When suddenly she finds herself thrust into a grotesque and nightmarish facade of her mother’s hospital where she’s not only haunted by her past trauma, but also the terrifying personages that stalk its halls. 

Now Claire has one objective – to find her mother in this cheerless labyrinth and escape it’s grasp. All the while saving the lost souls she finds along the way. The only question Claire has left to ask is, what did she do to deserve such a terrible fate?

Practitioner of Ups and Downs

When I first picked up the controller to play Claire: Extended Cut, I had one purpose, to play a game that would satiate my hunger for horror. Especially after my recent playthrough of the wonderful, but slightly flawed The Coma: Recut. Which happened to share many of the same themes and gameplay sensibilities. I mean, they’re both 2D side scrolling survival horror games after all. And on the surface, Claire seemed to have fit that bill perfectly, at least visually and mechanically.

But the more I played the game, the more I started to see it’s flaws. For one, the enemies you encountered were really no threat and didn’t ever imbue the anxiety you’d expect in a horror game. In fact you could just casually run by them with little to no consequences. Then on top of that, navigating through the decrepit halls of the hospital (which you’ll be doing the entire game) just ended up being confusing, primarily due to your perspective. Sure you had a map, but because of the discrepancy between its top down view versus your side on view while in game, made orienting yourself, a challenge.

One thing I very much enjoyed though, was helping the various lost souls I encountered along the way and solving the occasional Silent Hill style puzzle. They added some clever and fun variety to the game and it alleviates the monotony of your typical, run of the mill “find the key item, unlock the door” monotony found throughout this genre. I only wish there was more of it!

All that aside, the most disappointing aspect of the game for me, was the story. It had so much potential and captivated me from the get go, but in the end it just didn’t feel like it followed through. For the most part I was wondering what the heck was going on and why the heck was I doing the things I was doing. But, what I really attribute it to, is my lack of attachment to the main character and her tragic backstory. We are just thrust into this world with no context, and instead of adding mystery and intrigue to the story, it ended up leaving me apathetic. Which is probably wasn’t what the devs were banking on.

Punched by a Feather

On the surface, I really loved the idea of Claire. And from a gameplay perspective, it was a passable addition to the horror genre. However, Claire was also an ambitious undertaking that tried to tackle deep topics such as grief and the effects it has on your mental health, but unfortunately it turned out to be less impactful than I think it was meant to be. I have a hard time recommending Claire, due to its flaws, but if you’re a horror fan looking to find something new and different, then it wouldn’t be a terrible choice. Especially if you can find it at a discount. And who knows, maybe you’ll find something in it that I didn’t.

If you liked this review, don’t forget to watch the video version linked above!! And you can support the Backlog Odyssey by subscribing to our YouTube channel!!