Do you ever hear a pitch for a game that immediately perks your ears? A combination of words or ideas that makes you think “well I have to experience this as soon as possible”? That happened to me with Crow Country, the latest title from SFB Games, a developer you’ll probably best know as the team behind the puzzle game Snipperclips. Where Snipperclips is quite cute looking, Crow Country still is, somewhat, but is instead a survival horror game set in an abandoned crow-themed theme park that’s inspired by Final Fantasy 7 and Resident Evil. Yeah, now that’s what I call a good pitch. And the best part is, you can even try it out for yourself thanks to a Steam Next Fest demo. But first, let me sell you on it even more.
Crow Country puts you in the shoes of Special Agent Mara Forest, a mysterious character who’s design quite quickly fits into the history of all time female horror game protagonists. Booting up the demo brings you to the start of the game, and tells you incredibly little – literally just Mara’s name. Everything else is up to you to figure out, and boy do I love a mystery, especially one set in a fictional theme park that shut down due to the strange disappearance of its owner.
Right off the bat, aesthetically, you can see where the Final Fantasy 7 inspirations come in. While maybe ever-so-slightly more defined than the polygonal Cloud, Mara has a similar, toy-like design to her, which I personally think a lot of the OG FF7 character models have. Unlike Final Fantasy 7, and the PS1 era Resident Evils, all of the backgrounds are rendered in real time, as you are able to manoeuvre the camera, but it all retains that pre-rendered feel those classic games excelled at.
It really captures that style, obviously tapping into the ongoing resurgence of PS1-era aesthetics, and still manages to retain a large amount of details those original backgrounds often had too. There’s constantly so much to look at, every self-contained area feels like a diorama, which works well with the theme park setting.
Outside of Aesthetics though, the game mostly borrows from Resident Evil, with a few tweaks here and there. For one, shooting works similarly to Resident Evil, though you can pretty much aim anywhere on the screen. In one part this means you have more versatility, but it also adds a bit more challenge, as you do occasionally have to be more precise. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Resi-inspired game without puzzles, with the demo having plenty of to figure out too – don’t expect too hard a challenge right out the gate, though, as again, the demo does appear to be the start of the game. An extra bonus that this demo features is that there are 15 hidden crystal crows to find and shoot, though I haven’t managed to get all of them yet.
One of my favourite things about the demo, that I hope makes it into the final game, is that there are two modes you can play the game in – survival, which does feature enemies meaning the danger could be around any corner, or exploration, where nothing will attack you, and you’re able to explore freely. The vibes are so strong and unnerving just from being in an abandoned theme park all about crows (who would open something like that?), so I love that those that just want to explore a weird and odd world can do so without the stress of shooting things. Plus, again it adds to that diorama/ toy kind of feeling, you can really play however you like.
There are a lot of really good Steam Next Fest demos for you to check out (we have some recommendations here for you too), but out of what I’ve played so far, Crow Country is easily my favourite – I’m going to struggle to find a game that blends ideas from two radically different games like Final Fantasy 7 and Resident Evil as well as it does. Now I just need to find those crows…
Crown Country doesn’t have a release date just yet, but is planned to release on PC and PlayStation. Steam Next Fest is running from until February 12.