Tattletail is a recent Steam first person horror game in which you must survive five nights with your new Christmas present. A Christmas present that you opened early, because you’re an impatient child and couldn’t help but sneak a look at your present before Christmas actually came. The present? A Tattletail, a talking robot toy that reminds us all of the terrifying Furby that would always talk at inopportune times, screaming to be played with or fed or something. And that was if it even worked properly. There are tales of Furbys that would malfunction and just make broken noises, as if their appearance weren’t enough nightmare fuel.
“Hey, wait a minute,” I hear you say, “survive five nights? And there’s a robot skeleton? This sounds like a hyper popular franchise made popular by screaming Youtube LP stars”
And you would be correct in assuming there’s some similarities.
When you fail, and by extension, die, there’s a jumpscare screen where the Mama Tattletail lunges at the screen. It got me the first time I died, but as it’s the only real jumpscare in the game, it loses its’ effectiveness as the game goes on.
Tattletail has you manage a few stats in order to keep your toy happy and quiet. You must feed it from the fridge. You must groom it with a hairbrush found in the living room. You must recharge its’ batteries with a charging dock found in the basement. If any of these run low, your Tattletail will start yelling that it needs to be fed or brushed or charged. If Mama is out on the prowl, she will hear your Tattletail and will try to find it. And if she finds it, and by extension you (since you’re almost always carrying the toy around), you die. As an added bonus, you also have to manage light levels. If it gets too dark, your Tattletail will start yelling that it’s dark. You combat the darkness with your flashlight, which runs out of charge real quick, and needs to be charged back up by shaking it. It’s worth noting that shaking the flashlight also produces noise.
No more Mama!
The game is a bit misleading. You don’t need to survive 5 nights, you need to survive 3 and a half. You can’t die on the first two nights, near as I can tell, unless your Tattletail’s needs all run out, but I didn’t test that. The third night will only kill you if you’re not really playing the game. The fourth night is the real test to see if you understand how the game works, and makes you jump through increasingly harder hoops until the night is over. The fifth night is actually divided into two sections, with the first half being longer than it needs to be and the second half being unreasonably difficult. It’s not so much a difficulty curve as it is a difficulty cliff.
That difficulty cliff is what turned a roughly 1-2 hour game into a three day ordeal that I disliked more and more as time went on. I kept getting stuck on the first part of the fifth night, and once I finally got past it, I had a real dickens of a time beating the second part. I’d try a few times, and each time I would get killed because Mama spawned somewhere closer when I was halfway to completing an objective, and then I’d take a break.
You know what kills any sense of horror? Frustration. I wasn’t scared of the game, I was upset at it. Even though I knew how Mama essentially worked, it didn’t stop me from yelling in frustration every time I got killed even though I was following the rules, but not well enough for the game.
So where does that leave the game? I don’t regret spending the five bucks on it, but I’ve already gone and done everything in the game, and unless a major update comes to the game that adds a significant amount of content, I don’t think I’ll ever go back.
In past years, this is the part where I’d tell you what my next game is, but this year I’m doing something a little different. Normally I play and finish one game, move on to the next, and repeat until I finish all four. This year, I’m playing all four games at once. Allow me to explain.
So this year, I started off with Resident Evil 4, and made some decent progress in the first few hours, and thought to myself: This’ll be easy, I’ve got three fairly short games, I’ll just blow through those and play Syndicate at some point, good times. Then I hit my first major roadblock in Resident Evil 4, and it was the house defense bit at the end of Chapter 2-2. I was stuck there for quite some time, and I was not having any fun anymore with that part, even though I was having a blast with the rest of the game. At some point I decided if I wasn’t going to make progress on that game, I’d still try to make progress on a game, so I started Syndicate and Tattletail. I have also since started Amnesia, so we’re getting spook times up in my PC
I’m roughly halfway through Resident Evil 4 now, and I’m focusing more heavily on that over the other two, so I anticipate having that done soon-ish? Either way, I’ll have another article up in the near future.
Elihu typically lurks around TAY reading the occasional article and occasionally comments on Kotaku articles. Every February he writes his Four in February articles for TAY, and on rare occasions writes words about not-4iF things. You can reach him over at Twitter: @elihuaran or by contacting him via email: firstname.lastname@example.org