For the 2020 Epic MegaJam 5WORD TEAM, a small group of developers submitted a PS1-inspired horror game called DO NOT TAKE YOUR EYES AWAY FROM THE RED FRIDGE in which you had to solve a puzzle while the threat of a red fridge (yes, you read that right) is looming over you. The team then decided to expand this idea and build a bigger, although still pretty short, experience out of it. And so now, two years later and teaming up with publisher tinyBuild, we get The Fridge is Red.

The Fridge is Red
It’s just standing there… menacingly

The Fridge is Red is a horror anthology made up of six short stories that each take a little less than 30 mins to complete. Each of them involve the titular red fridge in one way or the other, and pretty quickly you will realize that there’s also an overarching story that connects them all. This is one of the weakest aspects of the game. When the game reveals what’s really going on, it feels like a weak attempt to connect everything rather than a convincing narrative. Similarly, the inclusion of the titular red fridge into the different stories can often feel forced. I believe the game would’ve benefited from embracing the anthology nature of it, rather than trying to connect everything with a weak story and misplaced recurring objects.

Ignoring that though, the individual horror stories aren’t bad. They each take place in a different environment, which were clearly designed with a lot of care. We get office buildings, hospitals, churches etc. All of them have a labyrinthine quality to them that’s a bit of a double-edged sword. On one hand, this can get a little frustrating, as you can get lost very easily, and almost definitely will quite often. At the same time, it adds to the atmosphere, by creating an environment that shifts around you and one where it becomes impossible to predict what might be waiting for you around the next corner.

The Fridge is Red
This isn’t how I remember this room looking

Atmosphere is the key word when it comes to discussing The Fridge is Red. It oozes atmosphere and won’t ever let you escape it’s grasp. A big part in that is the visual presentation. The Fridge is Red is heavily inspired by PS1-era graphics and it pulls the style of perfectly. The low-poly graphics help in creating unsettling environments that stick in your mind.  Too bad you can’t see them half the time due to them being enveloped in darkness. The game is extremely dark with no settings to increase brightness. And while you can see what you need to for most of it, there were definitely moments where I wish I could see a little more of what’s happening on screen.

The Fridge is Red

The sound design is another aspect of the game that helps with the atmosphere. It does a lot of the classic horror stuff with creepy sounds from nearby rooms and such. It’s not exactly original, but it works. But the thing that stood out to me here is the voice acting for the characters, or the lack thereof. Now usually this would be a problem. Having all the dialogue be read out loud by some robot voice doesn’t exactly scream quality. But it really works here to further unsettle you and put you into the feeling of things being very wrong.

The Fridge is Red is a game whose atmosphere carries it far beyond what it would otherwise be. The insistence on a throughline instead of embracing the anthology nature of the whole thing is frustrating, but nothing that kills the game for me. It’s an enjoyable enough ride for one playthrough, but I doubt I will be returning to the game anytime soon.

Nairon played The Fridge is Red on PC with a review key provided by the publisher.

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