The Lacerator Demo Review
Fernando Tittz

When you see a title like The Lacerator, a set of alarm bells has to go off in your head. You already know that what you’re going to experience isn’t exactly fine art, nor will it broaden your horizons on a complex subject. Instead, you’ll likely be treated to a few hours’ worth of grime caked in low-resolution visuals and cheap production values. We never said that it’s an inherently bad thing, however.

Take a look at the recently released demo for The Lacerator, an up-and-coming game developed and published by Fernando Tittz. This Brazilian developer already has a handful of titles to their name, with titles like 2021’s Devil Inside Us: Roots of Evil and 2020’s Taxidermy serving as similarly minimalist horror games with retro aesthetics. The former featured a unique movement mechanic due to the protagonist’s age: being an elderly man, his movement is deliberately limited, forcing the player to consider how they should approach dangerous situations. A similar mechanic can be found in The Lacerator, albeit caked in a thick layer of rust and blood.

The Lacerator follows a simple premise. You play as Max, an adult film actor and self-proclaimed “man who loves sex.” On what would’ve been an ordinary shoot sometime in the 1980s, Max finds himself knocked out and placed into a dingy facility against his will. With little more than his wits and a hilariously tacky shirt on his back, he’ll have to find a way to escape his upsetting predicament. But as he ventures through the facility, he’ll quickly realize that he’s not alone in this rusted hellscape.

Given the limited length of the demo, The Lacerator‘s presentation is easily one of its biggest strengths. Taking after degraded VHS footage and retro horror games, low-resolution textures and visual effects create a grotesquely oppressive atmosphere. The game’s menus turn to an eye-searing blue and white as if you were interacting with a VCR menu. Graphic scenes often pull the camera back and zoom in and out as if an outside force is trying to get the best angle possible. Though there isn’t much variety to be found in the endless shades of brown and grey that line the facility’s halls, what’s there is enough to convey a sense of unease. This is doubly true when you consider The Lacerator‘s biggest selling point.

The Lacerator Demo Review on Steam
Fernando Tittz

Normally, horror games typically introduce a brief section wherein a crucial ability tied to your character is suddenly taken away. Maybe you’re stuck in complete darkness, or maybe you’re forced to run from a particularly tough monster. The Resident Evil games in recent years made a huge spectacle out of losing limbs, with those moments being some of the most memorable set-pieces in their respective stories. However, once the surprise wears off, you’re typically returned to the status quo. The Lacerator takes this idea and gives it a particularly terrifying edge: once you lose a limb, it’s gone for good.

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A fierce attack by our titular masked killer, bladed deathtraps, and likely more to come can all shear off one of Max’s arms, potentially leaving you hobbled for the rest of the game. A particularly nasty trap in the demo demonstrates this beautifully, with Max’s aim being incredibly unsteady following the unexpected amputation. There are some genuine stakes to be found in this concept, and every time you make a mistake like that, you’ll only be worse off in the game’s later challenges. While this may be subject to change as the game continues its development, it’d be a fascinating way to instill some real tension throughout its grungy story.

As for the game itself, it introduces a unique gameplay option that you’ll rarely find in the survival horror genre. Fixed camera angles or over-the-shoulder perspectives are the typical go-to means of giving the player an idea of where they reside inside of the game. Both have their own unique advantages and disadvantages. While some may view fixed camera angles and the accompanying “tank” controls that are paired with them as antiquated, you can’t deny that they allow the game to frame each and every “shot” of the game to draw specific reactions out of the player.

Fernando Tittz

Conversely, an over-the-shoulder camera allows you to more freely explore and examine your environment with a more contemporary control scheme. The Lacerator, shockingly, has an option for both: you can either play with fixed camera angles or a traditional over-the-shoulder camera, with both keeping the game’s regular controls the same. The latter feels especially familiar if you’ve played Resident Evil 4, complete with a wavering laser sight for your weapons.

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Other than that, the typical survival horror fare can be found throughout the demo’s brief runtime. Items and notes, limited ammunition and healing supplies, a giant monstrous enemy that gives chase, they’re all here and accounted for. It’s ultimately too early to tell just how effective these elements are as a cohesive whole. But from the limited combat you’re able to partake in, it feels serviceable enough. The deathtraps and potential to lose limbs will likely be the biggest draw for The Lacerator, and we’re excited to see how these elements will be more thoroughly incorporated when it ultimately releases in its entirety.

The Lacerator currently has no set release date or price listing. The demo for The Lacerator can be played for free during Steam Next Fest, which is currently running from October 9 to October 16.

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REVIEW OVERVIEW
The Lacerator
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Sean is a devout data hoarder, CD collector, and purveyor of weird things. When he's not scouring the depths for the odd and macabre, he's usually playing video games, trying to learn Blender, and subsisting on coffee and protein bars. He also knows how to "get things."
the-lacerator-demo-reviewThe deathtraps and potential to lose limbs will likely be the biggest draw for The Lacerator, and we're excited to see how these elements will be more thoroughly incorporated when it ultimately releases in its entirety.

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