It’s a beautiful spring day, so what better time to close your shutters, put on your headphones, and tether your sled dogs to head out into frozen wastes? I’ve had a wonderfully unnerving time playing That Which Gave Chase, an hour-long indie horror game where you play as a musher in charge of a sled dog team taking a scientist back to an abandoned expedition. It’s a good’un, with clever fast cuts between scenes and a strong sense of growing dread.
Now you and I both know that abandoned scientific expeditions into frozen wastes are always abandoned for good reason, but our poor musher doesn’t realise he’s in a horror video game. So off we go, guiding our dogs as they pull the sled deeper into crushing unease. While you do explore on foot, mostly you’re driving the sled, the scientist chatting away a little.
The game which That Which Gave Chase most reminds me of is the excellent Paratopic. Right up until the end, I was never quite sure what the game was, what I would do, how it all worked. That’s a strong feeling when you strongly suspect you’re journeying into something bad. It also switches between scenes with fast, unannounced cuts (which in turn recalls Thirty Flights Of Loving), often leaving me uncertain where, when, or maybe even who I was. Some of these cuts are very visually striking, a sharp burst of panic.
On rougher terrain, mushing can feel a bit like Death Stranding as you try to stop the sled from tipping over. Pick a careful line to avoid bumps, lean to one side to counterbalance, mind your pace, and absolutely watch where you’re going. It’s not nearly as nuanced as Death Stranding, to be clear, but I felt that edge. Oh, and I do very much appreciate the small bit of procedure where you must drop anchor to fully stop the sled and get off. Love a bit of procedure.
It’s a good-looking game, a lovely example of the PlayStation-era style that’s so popular these days (no surprise that an early demo of it was on the 2021 Haunted PS1 Demo Disc). Unfiltered textures, low-poly models, dithering, fog, all that good stuff, and limitations that are often turned into strengths as eerie mood. It’s a game unfraid to be dark too, hence me needing to close my shutters. Great music too, minimalist and moody in the modern horror movie vein.
That Which Gave Chase is out now on Itch.io for Windows. With the current 10% launch discount, it costs $4.94 (which, with taxes and everything, came out to £4.90 for me). I am very happy to have paid that for an hour of feeling uneasy and threatened. Better this than buying a pint in my local dodgy pub.