If you go down the rabbit hole of internet creepypasta, you will eventually come upon highly artistic and extremely unsettling found footage videos on small youtube channels. Whether made using CGI and special effects, or an aspiring film student with a handycam, there are some hidden gems to reward those who are diligent in their pursuit. Quintus and the Absent Truth is the indie game equivalent of these found footage videos. This review does contain spoilers for Quintus and the Absent Truth. 

Developed by Wreck Tangle Games and published by Eastasiasoft, Quintus and the Absent Truth is a first-person narrative horror adventure game with a unique art style, a creepy narrative, and an impressive music score. The game was published on Steam in 2020, and it was recently ported to console. Quintus and the Absent Truth offers a short yet rewarding experience and manages to overcome some of its gameplay flaws through the artistic vision of the developers.

Quintus and the Absent Truth‘s surreal opening sets the tone of the game pretty well. The protagonist is woken up by his pet mouse in a monochrome environment. He then asks the mouse, Quintus, to turn on the lights. The little rodent follows through, and when the lights are turned on, we start to see colors in our surroundings. We are in a small house, there’s a piano in the corner, and a dozen of music awards for “Allan Shaw” on a shelf. As we interact with the piano, the protagonist plays a few notes, and then stops, sighing that he hasn’t played for a long time.

A monochrome living room
The world looks quite somber with no lights on. Discovering the change in tone when we switch the lights on was an interesting moment.

We then found a note from Allan’s record label, Andromeda, which states after ten years of inactivity, they have no choice but to cancel their contract. Something has happened, and we start exploring. The visual style is simple but effective for Quintus and the Absent Truth‘s theme. When we explore different rooms in the house, everything is in a pale monochrome tone until we turn the lights on and can see the colors. We found the calendar and realize it was our daughter’s birthday, but we can’t find Lydia. Quintus helps us reach a note in the air conditioning vent. It’s from Lydia, who has written she is waiting for us in the backyard in a bunny suit.

We head out, but she isn’t there either. We turn around to look back into the house, and the silhouette of Lydia in the bunny costume combined with the music gives me a decent jump scare. There’s a short cutscene, and Lydia’s gone. When we get back into the house, a phone call notifies us that Lydia has been kidnapped, and we have to head to the record studio to find her.

There’s a minimalistic approach to most aspects of Quintus and the Absent Truth. The art style, the music. and the gameplay are all simple in design, and the story unravels at a slow and steady pace, but the game is a fine example of “less is more”. Quintus and the Absent Truth looks and feels extremely creepy, and I’m on edge for most of my playthrough. Something that perhaps wouldn’t be achievable with high fidelity art style or complex gameplay mechanics.

The mouse Quintos floating above an evil looking ritual book
Quintus had to reach this ritual book in order to create small portals to travel in time and space and solve the mystery of Lydia’s kidnapping

The premise works thanks to this simplicity, hence my initial comparison to found footage-style horror videos. These types of media lean on the audience’s imagination to interpret the low-resolution video or incomprehensible audio, and when we are guided on the right path, our minds will fill in the details with the creepiest scenarios imaginable.

The record studio introduces more creepy elements such as wall writings, even creepier music, and the ghost of our late wife haunting us in the hallways! We eventually learn here that what stopped Allan from playing music, was his wife’s passing during childbirth ten years ago. We reach a dead-end in the Andromeda studio, and the only way forward is through a small opening in a wall. We send Quintus to continue the journey, and this is where things get even more surreal, and some gameplay flaws start to hinder the experience. There were some small issues with the controls before, such as the slow camera movement. But they were mostly negligible until now

Exploring the world through the eyes of a mouse is definitely interesting, and finding evil ritual books that are somehow connected to everything that is going on, is unsettling. But when we are at the scale of a mouse, the world can be really big. Getting from one end of the room to the other can be a slow and frankly boring endeavor. The change in scale is a fun change, but a simple increase in speed would’ve gone a long way to improve the quality of this chapter of Quintus and the Absent Truth.

Ghost of woman in a wedding dress in a red hallway
Quintus’s wife, Christie, haunts him as a representation of his guilt over losing their daughter.

The theme of Quintus and the Absent Truth also takes a sudden turn in these moments and the creepy exploration of liminal spaces is replaced with quirky puzzles that are not really challenging to solve. Quintus’s adventures are narrated, and the narrator literally tells us what Quintus is about to do to overcome the challenges. All we do in this chapter is go on long slow walks to get to the next hole in the wall. The narration itself, and the voice acting in general, is not great, but it does work within the scope and the style of the game

After the mouse chapters, we go back to Allan, going for yet another long trek towards the graveyard. The creepy theme is back, and we discover more about who is behind the kidnapping of our daughter, Lydia. Turns out the Andromeda record company is behind all of these evil deeds. Portraying the big publisher as the BBEG is a meta twist by the indie developer and I’m all for it.

The last few chapters again focus on what the game does best. Creepy atmospheric storytelling in liminal spaces. There is a moment when for solving a puzzle, we switch to Quintus as he heads into a small space to find a key for us. We had asked for his help before, but we would’ve just waited for Quintus to do his thing. If playing as Quintus was a bit more polished, I would’ve loved for all those previous instances to have mini puzzles for him to solve. But as the game stands now, what we get with him is more than enough.

A small girl in a bunny costume and a mouse doll
We went to a lot of trouble to find Lydia. For her to stare at us intensely in her Bunny Costume.

We eventually stop the kidnappers from doing a sacrificial ritual and save Lydia. We get the final cutscene, and Lydia in her bunny custom is the creepiest sight I’ve experienced in Quintus and the Absent Truth. The final moments are a perfect representation of what the game is; Bittersweet, surreal, and creepy as hell!

Nima played Quintus and the Absent Truth on PS5 with a code provided by the publisher.

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