Greyhill Incident


The truth is out there, and I wanted to believe...


Greyhill Incident is a plot-driven survival horror game set in 1990s small town America. People have reported seeing aliens and then disappeared. You are a guy named Ryan Baker and set out to explore the Greyhill neighbourhood as the greys invade, seemingly intent on abducting everyone in the small town. You will be asked to help neighbours in need and are armed only with a baseball bat and a few rounds for your pistol. When your son becomes one of the abducted it gets personal, and you set out to find out what happened to him.

Set one night, gameplay consists of exploring the dark, misty town searching, hiding, scavenging useful items and all-important ammo for your gun. You only have a few flickering street lights, hurricane lamps and your rather pathetic wind-up flashlight to light your way. I found it easy to wander around and find nothing but grey aliens and locked doors, but the next objective is probably indicated by a flickering light. You can't jump, mantle or climb anything but a couple of specific ladders, so you have to find your way around everything, and paths open up to new areas at specific, plot-driven points.

One of the main NPCs, Bob, wearing his patented tinfoil hat.

Apart from the standard left stick to move, right stick to look and R-trigger to fire your gun or swing your baseball bat, the game has some weird button mapping. You have to hold 'LB' to draw and aim your weapon, and press 'Y' to reload. 'RB' is sprint (if you can call it that.) You press 'X' to hide in objects like cupboards, wheelie bins or under beds, but the 'A' button opens doors and picks up the few interactive items in the game–no idea why they mapped what is basically “use” to two different buttons. 'R3' is crouch (you'll be needing that), and the L-trigger equips your wind-up flashlight, which is approximately as bright as one of those cheap USB nightlights. You also have to repeatedly press the L-trigger to charge your dazzling torch. This wouldn't be so bad but the game has weirdly dim lighting that makes it difficult to read anything. Greyhill is so dim and, due to the fog, the draw distance is so short that it reminded me of playing N64 games. 

If the game looks too good for your liking, with the "Abducted Edition" there's also a "Found Footage" mode in the options, which basically puts wavy lines on the picture and degrades it to make it look "Blair Witch-ish."

Sneaking up behind a grey alien wasn't a good idea...
Strangely enough, sneaking up behind a grey alien wasn't a good idea...

The game has some humorous moments (mostly involving the greys’ presumed use of probes) but also has some nonsensical dialogue which can be unintentionally amusing… A neighbour named Brandon says "I know how to shoot because of the Vietnam war" (which I doubt any actual veteran would say) and later there's a side note from Ryan that informs you that  "some people say Father Graham uses this shovel to bury our jewelry, out of the graves" (which isn't even English!) I also experienced some terrible lip sync and dialogue overlapping, with characters talking over each other, meaning you can’t understand either...

Greyhill is by no means a hard game, but about 20 minutes or so in you're set the task of finding 5 rolls of tinfoil (presumably to make the best tinfoil hat EVER!), and this is probably the only genuinely tricky part of the game, mainly due to a lack of checkpoints between finding the rolls.

As with most survival horror games ammo is in incredibly short supply, your baseball bat only seems capable of temporarily stunning the aliens (which is ridiculous), and  you can only swing it every 4 seconds or so, and then you'll have to wait for your "stamina" gauge to fill up, which is painfully slow. This means that stealth is usually the key, so crouching (L3) will usually allow you to evade the aliens' attentions. The problems arise when you do get spotted, a dramatic musical chord informs you in no uncertain terms that you've been seen, and if you don't get grabbed then running away and hiding is a good idea. The problem is that few of the hiding places allow you to see where the aliens are (under beds and in wheelie bins are good, in outdoor toilets and in cupboards are bad), and with no map or sight cones that so many of the best stealth games have, it's often pure guesswork as to whether it's safe to emerge from your hidey-hole.

An alien ship lands in a cow field.
Look! It's a MOO.F.O!

If you get grabbed by the aliens, you will be "abducted" (which is effectively “Game Over”) if you don't struggle by spamming the R-Trigger. This isn't easy but if you do break free you may be able to shoot the alien if you have any ammo, twat them with your baseball bat (which is pointless because despite being able to smash wooden barricades with it the greys presumably have skulls as resilient as baseballs and soon get back up) or the best ploy: run away, find a hiding spot and lose them.

I was rather disappointed with how sluggish and lacking in agility you are in Greyhill. When I first heard of the game's setting I'd mentally pictured clambering around on rooftops, stealth attacks and maybe dashing around Dying Light-style, perhaps even with a bit of parkour mixed in, but your character Ryan moves like he's an asthmatic old man, not a 30-something country boy, and can only run for 25-30 steps before he needs a rest, and resting up to refill stamina takes 15 seconds... Ryan's apparent weakness also means you can only weakly swing your baseball bat a few times before you need a breather.

A multi-screen showing various scenes from Greyhill.

Visually Greyhill isn't bad at all. NPCs are nicely modelled, but their lip sync is non-existent and their faces expressionless–maybe the aliens did something to them… The game does a good job of providing a dingy, mysterious atmosphere that is aided by some good sound FX–then it poops all over itself with the silly lack of agility, lack of stamina, pathetic baseball bat swings and badly cued conversations.

The main problem is that although it's touted as a "survival horror" game, Greyhill aliens aren't actually very scary, and despite a couple of jump scares, getting abducted isn't horrific in any way, it's just a nuisance as you may have to replay a section and collect items again. All the greys seem to do is wander around using their probes to scan for humans. Their scanner makes a noise like a comedy dashboard gadget I had 500 years ago that you could use to pretend you were firing lasers or missiles at other road users, so it’s not exactly intimidating. The other problem is that the game will most likely only take you a maximum of 4 hours to complete, much of that will be spent plodding around looking for something, without much clue as to where to go or where to find it. Ryan is supposed to be a local but other than wandering around until you see a light flicker you're given no hint as to where to go or even where the various characters live. The game doesn't even have a map screen to refer to and get a sense of direction from!

Greyhill Incident's ending was extremely unsatisfying, and completion time is around 3-4 hours–and that’s if you explore everywhere and get lost a lot (like I did), a price of £24.99 with little or no replay value makes it difficult to recommend–but on the good side it's a relatively easy 1000Gs or Platinum Trophy. 

Many thanks to Refugium Games, Perp Games and Wonacott Communications for the review code