The Suicide of Rachel Foster (PC) Review
Mystery/Drama with Horror elements
Definitely for The Shining fans
The length hits the sweet spot with no rooms for dullness
Too many references and influences make it feel less authentic
Moderately superficial plot
Questionable portrayal of the relationship between an adult and a minor (like Stanely Kubrick’s Lolita)
The Suicide of Rachel Foster, as the title suggests, subtly handles the subject yet leaving some controversies behind in hindsight. The developers did a decently good job of delving into a topic that is rarely presented on gaming medium and making a good 4 hours long story out of it.
In this walking simulator/mystery/first-person adventure set in 1993, you play as Nicole Wilson, the sole inheritance of the Timberline hotel, goes back to the hotel where she vowed never to return, to settle and eradicate the memories of the past once and for all. The story starts off as Nicole reads the letter left behind by her mother reciting the unfortunate events of the past that irrevocably damaged the family.
The affair her father had with an underage girl named Rachel around her age left both families shattered as Rachel threw herself off the cliff. To heal the past, her mother insists her to sell the hotel, keep some and give the rest to the other family. Thus, Nicole must head back to her family-owned hotel in mountain town 10 years later to settle the unfinished business one last time.
In Nicole’s mind, it was a quick trip to the town. She has no intention of staying there for more than 20 minutes. What wasn’t in her plan was a blizzard that will eventually leave her no choice but to stay in for a few days with the only company she has is a man named Irving from Federal Emergency Management Agency through a cell phone connection.
The Suicide of Rachel Foster has the perfect setup for a mystery/horror game at first glance. In fact, that is the way the game is presented. A few days later, she receives a phone call that tells her that Rachel is in there, in the hotel, warns her not to sell it. The random squeaky sounds in the hall of the hotel directly interpret the situation she is in as she slowly discovers new theories behind what might have happened ten years ago.
The first impression it gives off is its strong resemblance to the atmospheric conditions of The Shining. The name of the hotel, getting stuck in the hotel alone, the snowy weather and so much to it. It’s even fair to say it’s a replication of the hotel in Stanley Kubrick’s work, once you see the interior designs of the hotel. However, it perfectly blends in with what the story has to offer.
Made with Unreal Engine, it has beautiful visuals and objects are crafted scrupulously in a way that reflects the characters. It really puts you in the shoes of Nicole, reliving the traumatic experiences of the past. Though you might feel let down by the navigation system you will come across because they’re basically floor diagrams that have details on them yet don’t do an effective job of getting you from one point to another. You can also expect not knowing what to do next in some cases, but that’s very common in exploration games. And without spoiling anything, what I can tell you is that this is the kind of game that sets out to be something, but in the end, it took you in another direction.
Personally, I think would have liked this game more than I did if I hadn’t played games like Firewatch and Gone Home in the past. I can’t help but notice The Suicide of Rachel Foster is predominantly influenced by elements from Firewatch (the way time passes, isolated and the only human connection is with someone over the cellular connection and bonding of the characters).
Some might find it unsatisfying due to the change of course the game takes in the end, gradually derailing from horror to thriller/mystery, it still provides an immersive traumatic family drama experience by combining it with great atmospheric storytelling.