STAFF REVIEW of MADiSON (Xbox Series X)


Friday, August 19, 2022.
by Chad Goodmurphy

MADiSON Box art Although they originally gave me horrible nightmares at an all too early age, horror movies quickly became one of my favourite genres, after a two year-long break during which I feared that Freddy Krueger would kill me in my sleep. Following those nights spent sleeping in my poor parents’ bedroom, a friend’s video store persuasion led me to truly fall in love with what the masters of the macabre dreamt, created and put on screen. Of course, this adoration wasn’t just limited to movies, as I’ve been a huge fan of horror fiction in all varieties ever since. It’s the genre of book I gravitate towards and read most, one of my favourite genres of television, and a type of video game that I often get excited about. This is why I asked to review MADiSON, the recently released horror puzzler from Bloodious Games.

Described by its developers as being a “first-person psychological horror game,” MADiSON is kind of like an interactive escape room filled with confusion and horror. In fact, I believe that’s a pretty apt description of what you’ll find within this title.

Upon waking up inside of a dark and locked room, with his hands covered in some type of blood, a young man named Luca must explore his deceased grandparents’ nightmarish home. Things start off with a bang, as Luca is chased through an alleyway inside the walls by his father, who loudly states that he isn’t his son. Then, after that pulse-increasing escape, the player is left to his or her devices. Thus begins a perplexing, occasionally scary, and often creepy experience, in which one must explore a house to find not only helpful items, but also details as to what’s going on. Pieces of information suggest that Luca has been possessed by a demon, which may have been responsible for creating a serial killer in years past, and now wants our protagonist to take part in some awful ceremony. The story is pretty odd and confusing, though.

If you’ve played PT you’ll have a good idea of what to expect from this title, which ranges in length depending on how good the player is at solving puzzles. However, if you’re like me you’ll end up resorting to a guide, because things can be both challenging and perplexing. In fact, MADiSON can sometimes be too confusing and obtuse, leading to frustration. Granted, I’ve never been great at puzzle games.


When I was speaking to my editor, the way I originally described MADiSON was to call it a “needle in a haystack horror game,” which I still stand by. I said that after playing it for the first time, because I found that I would miss important items upon a first glance, only for them to appear the second time I investigated an object, as if they had just appeared for the first time. A good example of this is a nail, which you’ll find sticking into something in the first hallway you must explore. I know that I looked at every inch of that area, but didn’t find the nail until my second or third time looking. This issue then carried forward through the rest of the game, to a degree.

While I respect MADiSON’s challenging/randomly generated puzzles and relatively interesting delivery, it’s sometimes more frustrating than fun. It isn’t helped by a cursor that often seems to need pinpoint accuracy before it changes into a hand or question mark to indicate that you can interact with something, like a drawer. This is another reason why I got stuck early, and why I went over different rooms and segments of the house multiple times before I found certain things. Then again, it’s not as if the game tells you what to do most of the time, leaving you to wonder if things you’ve found are important, unimportant, or if they’ll become important later on. Add to this a limited inventory and a stash that allows you to store what you’re not currently using, and you do have a recipe for occasional confusion and frustration.

Of course, there are people who absolutely love these types of mysterious games, in which there’s almost no hand holding. Conversely, there are those who don’t. Thus, MADiSON isn’t going to appeal to everyone. Then again, no game does.

As you may have noticed after watching a trailer, looking at the game’s featured image or perusing screenshots, Luca carries a Polaroid camera which he can use to take pictures of the environment around him. This gadget aids the player, not only because it’s needed for progression and it’s possible to photograph clues, but because there are segments where you’re dropped into pitch darkness and must rely on the camera to light the way using its flash. Granted, while it’ll help to lead your way, it’ll also uncover things that you maybe didn’t want to know were lurking in the nearby shadows.


This brings us back to the fact that MADiSON is a lot like a demonic, disorienting, confusing and brain teasing escape room. One in which the player often doesn’t know what’s going on, or where to go next, and may want to take notes as he or she progresses. It’s not an easy game, nor is it for the faint of heart, although its premise suggests a scarier experience than it delivers. Still, there’s a near constant underlying creepiness present. After all, we’re talking about a demon, a dark and disturbing home, and the unexpectedness that horror brings.

With all that said, the game’s reliance on jump scares hurts it. As with horror movies, these can come across as cheap and can also be predictable. Overuse of them lessens the experience.

MADiSON is also an indie game, and what seems to be a first effort from a small developer located in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I commend them on creating something at this scale, and their ambition, even if I didn’t enjoy this title as much as I had hoped to when I first looked it up. It had a great-looking demo a number of years ago, and is obviously a blood, sweat and tears type of passion project, but the aforementioned issues keep it from being great. Still, it’s a decent experience, and one that some will like more than others.


MADiSON's presentation is dark, creepy and disturbing, and its visuals are alright, although they can be quite blurry. It’s rough around the edges and suffers from some performance issues as well, but that’s okay. After all, it’s kind of to be expected. Thankfully, there’s some good audio and creepy sound effects to go along with the dark and unsettling rooms found within this seemingly abandoned house, and its uber disturbing basement.

If you’ve found yourself missing PT, or wanting something similar, MADiSON is worth looking into. It can be frustrating, but it’s a decent horror puzzler from a small team with a lot of promise.

**MADiSON was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series S and PlayStation 5**




Overall: 6.2 / 10
Gameplay: 6.0 / 10
Visuals: 5.4 / 10
Sound: 6.4 / 10

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