STAFF REVIEW of True Virus (Xbox One)

Tuesday, March 12, 2024.
by Peggy Doyle

True Virus Box art If there is one thing that I love about small indie games, it’s when they make you feel things. My preference is always cute and cozy, but some of the most memorable games I’ve played have made me feel uncomfortable, sadness, and grief. Then we get a game like True Virus that just feels ‘too soon’ and too real and I don’t know how to feel about it.

True Virus is a point-and-click adventure game developed by 100 GAMES and Farmind Studios, and published by Ultimate Games. It’s set in a small European town where a raging virus has forced a mandatory lockdown. Easy to see how this can bring up uneasy memories immediately. Unlike the pandemic we are familiar with though, this virus turns the townsfolk into zombie-like beings. You wake up chained to a bed in a psychiatric ward not knowing how you got there. You soon discover you were left there to die by a doctor, and over the next few hours you will quest to find the doctor who did this to you and discover the mysteries of the origin of the virus.

The gameplay is relatively simple, a traditional point-and-click adventure game. Taking place over about a dozen locations, you will do a lot of backtracking to find items that you will need to complete puzzles for to advance the story. From your ward, through the gates and into the nearby town, through local shops, there is much to explore. This is the format you will follow. Progress will be impeded by padlocks that will force you to locate the combinations. These are often dates located in books or on notepads.

While you may see things that look like they can be picked up, you won’t be able to pick them up until you discover their need. For example, there is a book on the shelf in your room and it’s obvious that it’s meant to be interacted with, but you can’t pick it up until you discover the reason you need it. Same with a shovel found in a room, you won’t be able to pick it up until you discover the graveyard. I think you can understand the format. Toward the end of the game you will encounter more mental puzzles. Word scrambles, match problems, symbol deciphering, and things like that. They were more challenging, but somehow, I didn’t feel any real sense of accomplishment when I completed them. There are a few zombies scattered around the world, but they don’t move, and you can scavenge or move around them without any issue.

Unlike a lot of the point-and-click style games, I didn’t have many issues with moving the cursor around, although sometimes it didn’t seem to line up where I needed it to or click where I wanted it to. Thankfully, the original slow cursor movements were able to be adjusted to move faster.

The writing is very bare bones. The main character makes a few comments while finding items but doesn’t elaborate on their thought process. There is a moment that took me fully by surprise, but the character had zero emotional reaction to it. I don’t want to spoil the story, but it involved their family and there were no emotions shown or even hinted at.

The art style is also very simplistic, similar to what you would find in a sketchbook. Subtle hues help create a sense of loneliness and loss and there is little in the way of animation. The audio complimented the mood, and the creepy sound effects from inside the psychiatric ward were particularly well done.

True Virus is a simple game, albeit frustrating with its lack of a quest log to remind you of what you were doing. I found myself stumbling around trying to remember what puzzle I was trying to complete, especially when I stepped away for a bit and came back to it. While it’s considered a horror game, I didn’t find anything scary about it, more suspenseful with a few jump scares that did catch me. It’s not full of gore or violence at all.

There was nothing new or exciting with True Virus’ gameplay, and even though a story involving a pandemic and lockdown isn’t something I would seek out to play, it was an interesting enough story that kept me pushing through to see its conclusion.

**True Virus was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series X**

Overall: 6.5 / 10
Gameplay: 6.5 / 10
Visuals: 6.0 / 10
Sound: 6.5 / 10


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