Ultra Indie Daily Dose – The Gallagher Case
I will admit, I am a huge wimp when it comes to first-person horror games; jump scares and aggressive music cues will inevitably cause me to let out an unflattering shriek and throw my headphones. Yet I find myself going back to them repeatedly because that special kind of fear can’t be replicated for me. So naturally, I picked up The Gallagher Case, a first-person horror game from VisercalError about a teenager who stops by his elderly neighbor’s house to help her with her television set, and was ready for the worst: jump scares, hide-and-seek mechanics, and at least one abandoned wheelchair scene. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised by a wholly creepy, atmospheric, and unnerving horror game.
At its core, The Gallagher Case follows the traditional survival horror formula:
- Adopt the role of an unassuming nobody who goes to a spooky environment to accomplish a benign task
- Interact with said environment, sometimes solving puzzles
- Bear witness to increasingly terrifying circumstances, often while stressfully repeating step 2
- Escape the environment(s) and return to your once-normal life. Maybe.
If the game was just poking around this lady’s house and enjoying the scenery (like a spookier and less wholesome Welcome Home), I would have been satisfied. Everything inside the house is graphically polished, even the more mundane things, which made the house feel lived-in.
Where the game really shines is its superb use of sound–or more specifically, its selective use of sound. Players will notice that The Gallagher Case does not employ the ominous, looping background music other games use. Instead, the game focuses on noises produced naturally by the environment, such as the subtle thumping of footsteps as the player moves, or the soft ticking of a grandfather clock in the hallway. This masterful use of audio cues made for such an eerie ambiance, encouraging me to listen very intently for any changes in my environment.
The only thing I would improve about this game would be its runtime. After roughly 30 minutes of gameplay, it ends pretty abruptly and leaves me wishing there was more to explore and do. Despite that, it was more than worth the $5 for the foreboding ambiance, stunning visuals, and grim story.
The Gallagher Case is a delightfully unsettling game that I would love to see more of. The environment is beautiful, and the minimal use of sound amplifies each terrifying moment, creating a bite-sized horror game that will leave you wary of helping your neighbor for any reason. For more reviews of great indie horror games, be sure to check out the Ultra-Indie Daily Dose. If you’re feeling brave, you can try The Gallagher Case here on itch.io, and remember: don’t watch the TV.