All the Way Down is a short, dark tale of dread and death set in Yorkshire, England during an ominous snowstorm. It’s openly inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s work, though I can’t pinpoint an exact story of his where it is drawing directly from, but “The Whisperer in Darkness” is probably a good place to start. Still, a lot of his themes are represented here, such as personal madness and fear of the unknown, the unnamable.
Our nameless young man, a hiker, is simply trying to find a place to spend the night and get out of the snowy cold. He stumbles across a convenience store in a small mining village called Millvale; alas, he is not warmly welcomed, since he is far from a local. However, the clerk at the convenience store suggests he check out The Miner’s Arms, a small bar just down the road, known for occasionally putting up stragglers in need. Naturally, things go downhill from there.
I love that All the Way Down is picking up the dropped faceless in-game models torch last seen held by The Granstream Saga. The character portraits themselves are actually more detailed, left black and white save for rosy cheeks, that warm orange-red someone’s nose turns when they’ve had a bit too much to drink. It’s a strong effect, gelling well with the often pleasant, colorfully warm backdrops, despite everything somehow silently screaming terror and mayhem. You never end up seeing the Deep Ones, the monsters feared by all of Millvale, but that’s fine. You don’t need to see them to believe and sense their presence, but I did find the main guy’s switch from stark disbelief to pure panic a little too convenient; he goes to bed, wakes up to a pounding on his door, and now swears that it is pure evil coming for him. There should’ve been a dream sequence scene to help sell that better.
Puzzle-wise, there’s unfortunately not much here. In fact, I can only recall four sections where you actually are tasked with pointing on items, clicking, and clicking somewhere else: the miner flashback, escaping your bedroom, freeing yourself from the basement, and using the minecart to flee. That might sound like a lot, but it’s not; the amount of interaction and exploration is slim to none, with the puzzle solutions extremely easy to spot, save for a tin can that I missed during my initial pixel scan of the screen. At the start, while the hiker is conversing with the convenience store worker, there’s dialogue options, but that never appears again, not even with the barkeeper or old man filling him in on the village’s grim history. A missed opportunity, but given that there’s voice acting involved, I can understand if words had to be limited to a specific amount. Just felt like a tease, that’s all.
I really dug the look and feel of All the Way Down, but wanted more interaction, more poking and prodding. Let me find the madness; then, let me run from it, blindly, arms flailing, my only direction away.