Review: Glass stairs


Developer Puppet Combo is well known for its particular brand of retro horror games that hark back to the PS1 and PS2 era. The studio combines dated visuals with compelling mechanics and game concepts, combining classic and contemporary design ideas that stand the test of time. His latest game, Glass Stairsis particularly good because it combines its horror with clever tricks to keep you thinking and scaring you when you least expect them.

While many Puppet Combo games are exclusive to the developer’s Patreon, Glass Stairs is available on all major platforms and is the perfect hit for all retro horror fans. It took me about two hours to complete and I enjoyed almost every minute of it. My frustrations boiled down to my own stupid miscalculations and mistaking some of the intended elements for game-breaking bugs until I discovered a path forward.

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Screenshot by Destructoid

IN Glass Stairs, you begin your journey as Helen, a newborn girl who is seemingly held hostage in a immense, dilapidated, stately orphanage. After taking your assigned pill, you will be instructed to go downstairs and complete the task the owners have prepared for you. However, the task itself is not the reason for Helen’s release, and you soon discover that she and the other girls are gradually showing up there for a much more nefarious purpose.

The haunting story spends about half its time building suspense. It’s the perfect combination of sleazy graphics and eerie music interspersed with unusual notes, creating an atmosphere perfect for unexpected jump-scares. The presentation makes The Glass Staircase full of scares that are satisfying, just scary enough, and don’t require much time to digest what you’ve stumbled upon.

As is typical in survival horror games, the environments and notes scattered around the area provide more context as to why everything went to hell. They are long and sometimes take a few minutes to analyze, but the fear they add is worth it. On the other hand, you could probably enjoy the game just as well without reading a single note, that way it’s accessible.

outside, in the glass stairs
Screenshot by Destructoid

What’s not so accessible is the controls. You control your characters using tank controls, and while yes, this is the best way to control your characters in a survival horror game, there’s something a little off about it Glass Stairs. Characters seem to move left and right in certain rooms, and it’s very uncomplicated to get caught in objects sticking out of the environment.

Finally, there was a puzzle that took me twice as long to solve as it should have due to the fixed camera angles. These perspectives feel right at home here, but I found myself missing one section of the escape room multiple times. While the error was entirely my fault, I was a little torn between the satisfaction of finally getting it right and the frustration of getting there. It’s one of those little things in such a low experience where diminutive tweaks can make substantial improvements and assist you avoid misses.

Ultimately, I must admit that when I realized where the piece of the puzzle was, I felt great. The excitement lasted long enough for me to move on, as is usually the case Glass Stairs, I was pleasantly horrified by the reveal that followed.

Fortunately, the environment is quite good at broadcasting objects that require your attention. I’ve never found myself pressing X while walking around a room looking for hidden objects to interact with. The gunplay is also precise, but doesn’t spoil the idea that this could have been a game made for consoles in the 90s. I only took damage in combat when I misjudged an enemy’s movement.

monster in the glass stairs
Screenshot by Destructoid

When it comes to retro horror inspiration, Glass Stairs there is much more Silent Hill than it is Resident Evil. The atmosphere of holding your breath builds and grows, waiting for the perfect moment. Like most of the classics Silent Hill, the crescendo never hit like I expected. It maintains what the era excelled at, but elements like this and the sheer combat keep The Glass Stairway refreshingly rooted in the present.

I can’t say too much about the enemies so as not to ruin the plot, but something like that Resi The DNA is still there. The sense of panic that some enemies instill is a bit like Nemesis crashing into a wall Resident Evil 3 or when Jack Baker cuts his way into your path Resident Evil 7. They are overwhelmingly powerful and you must outsmart them, not outrun them.

Glass Stairs is a fantastic retro horror game that you can sit down to play in the morning or afternoon and feel satisfied that you’ve experienced a truly unique take on the genre. Whatever Janek experiences, it is compensated by the handcrafted nature of the story and the terror it evokes.

If you’re looking for a complete and enjoyable horror experience, this is it. It’s also the perfect starting point for anyone looking to get into indie horror without having to delve into something meaty or overly complicated. The themes and atmosphere are better than some AAA titles in this genre Glass Stairs easily ranks among the classic games that inspired it while paying homage to them.

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