[Game Review] Stay Out of the House by Puppet Combo + Console Release [June 2023]
No worries, no spoiling of the storyline. People have waited too long for the game to be spoiled. There will be a warning in red with dotted lines about gameplay and some other technical stuff. If you want to keep everything a surprise, skip the dotted part when you get to it. This game was reviewed in October 2022 from the PC version but console version is an exact port from the PC release. Thanks for reading!
UPDATE: Puppet Combo has announced that Stay Out of the House will be releasing on console on June 16th 2023! This game will be a direct port from the PC version released in late 2022. Pre-Order now on Playstation, Xbox and Switch!
If you follow Puppet Combo on their socials, then you have noticed they have been extra busy for the last few months. From new games published by their label, Torture Star Video to full game releases and console ports (which you can also see here from their direct in June 2022). But there was one game everyone kept asking about for the last few years after we all were left terrified from the demo but yet still wondering what would come next.
"The smack of a hammer... your head lands hard on the dirty linoleum floor... a maniac drags you up the stairs and cages you like an animal! You have three days until the reckoning...
Welcome to the home of THE BUTCHER. Welcome to YOUR new home. Why are you here? Why has this mad man chosen you, and what are his plans for you? How will you escape? Can you even escape? All of these questions have answers, but can you seek them out? Do you want to? If only you'd heeded their warning to STAY OUT OF THE HOUSE."
Stay Out of the House is a survival horror action game inspired by 80's slasher films. With a cannibalistic killer named "The Butcher" (who you will be running and hiding from a lot), you can see the game also takes inspiration from other films in the 70's such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes. After the prologue, you will be mainly playing as Roxanne, a young woman on a road trip with her boyfriend, Brendan, who disappears during a pit stop. While Roxanne is on the search for her missing boyfriend, "The Butcher" kidnaps her which kickstarts this sadistic game of cat and mouse between you and the killer. If you have played Puppet Combo's "Nun Massacre", this game and it's mechanics will feel very familiar but I will add that this game does a better job at aligning your objectives and the story, even if more complex, it's so greatly explained as you progress and find more bits about it.
"I've never played Nun Massacre so I still have no idea what this is like?" It's totally okay! Puppet Combo loves to jump scare people with very loud sounds, super creepy killers that are relentless when it comes to finding you and being as stealthy as you can while also being 100% lost within the map in game. But if this is your first experience with a Puppet Combo game, know that this will be more forgiving than their previous games as you get 3 attempts before it's considered game over even when playing in different difficulties. Every time you die in game, you will start from a different room around the house that you will have to escape from without the items you collected previously around the map. Once you use all your 3 "days" or lives, you will unlock an ending.
When starting a new file, I was only able to see easy and medium difficulties. Easy difficulty is great for those new to these games or for those who want to get familiar with the layout of the house or map, so if you like exploring and taking your sweet time, this is for you. Items you can collect will be a bit more noticeable and available through the map. Now, the killer will STILL come after you and he will place his traps around the house. So be careful while exploring, you're still not safe.
Medium difficulty is a bit more aggressive since the killer has surveillance cameras around the house that once you're spotted, will alert him. There is more bear traps and "surprise traps" all over the place and you will find less items for your character as well such as bandages, lockpicks, etc. And somehow in this difficulty... there was times I was hiding in the dark and he would still find me! Maybe just crap luck, but can never be too safe.
Now if you have been playing the other short versions since it's first release in 2018, you will notice quite a few changes during the final release. From killer AI to sounds, map design, the biggest one you'll notice instantly? The graphics! I have put a few screenshots together down below to compare the changes they have worked on when it comes to the graphics in game. (Click each photo to expand).
As for other changes, this is what the audio menu looks like now. Beware when changing the audio settings.
And of course, how could we forget the awesome filters that give this game that retro look. We have a total of 5 filters (if we count the "none" option) and you can enable/disable the CTR display effect. The filters are: None, VHS, 1999, 1995 and a VERY cool 16mm I was excited to see. You can also adjust the FPS in the options menu, which you get: 20fps, 30fps, 60fps, 120fps, 144fps, 240fps and uncapped.
Listed down below in order from left to right: None, VHS + CRT on, VHS + CRT off, 1999, 1995 and 16mm. (Click to expand each photo)
This section gets a bit into the gameplay, how the game handles and some tips I found useful for my own gameplay. Still no storyline spoilers but if you really want to keep WAY more as a surprise, I'd recommend skipping this next part between the dotted lines.
No seriously, I mean it. If you want to have this game be FULLY a surprise, I really recommend you to skip this part and continue reading after the next dotted line. If you read past this, don't tell me I didn't want you.
Stay Out of the House has a total of 4 chapters to play which include: night shift, prologue, house and bunker. In the house and bunker chapter, you are given the opportunity to find video tapes as your "save tokens" where you have to find a safe room and insert the tape into a VCR player. Now you only get 3 save slots so use them wisely, however, the amount of tapes you get to find depends on the difficulty you play the game in. In easy, I had more tapes than I could ask for so I felt comfortable leaving them behind most of the time. For each chapter, you will get a new safe room which you can find in the vents as you explore.
Yes, I said vents. Now if these scare you after Nun Massacre, the vent system in this game was less confusing which was great to be able to run, hide and navigate your way around as you knew exactly where they were once they were opened. Some of the vents however, can and WILL kill you. I highly recommend reading the letters around the map and be observant of the walls in certain chapters as they will be helpful in getting past the deadly vents. A bit about the difficulty and the vents: in easy difficulty, any hot steam can hurt but will kill you slowly but in medium difficulty, you touch the hot steam, you're dead.
Around the map, you will get the chance to collect items from bandages, paperclips (which stack up), notes to explain a bit more of the story, bullets (also stack up), tools and weapons. YES, you can defend yourself in this game! Some of the defense reminded me a bit of the game Granny, where you can shoot the antagonist and it runs away for a bit, leaving you to explore in peace for a bit. However, you can't shoot everyone in this game to stall them so keep that in mind. Your best bet will be to stay low, move stealthily and watch out for traps as The Butcher can get you from anywhere since he has a tunnel-like system around his house just like Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre -or- The Drill Killer from Power Drill Massacre.
Another tip I have that was really helpful for me which may seem wild to some, I didn't use any light during a lot of parts of the game! There will be light switches in rooms so it can help but I found some areas easier to travel in the dark since having my lighter or flashlight off helped the game look brighter to me from longer distances. When the killer is close, your screen will have a glitch effect which helps in knowing when he is close by so you have enough time to hide in closets, under beds, vents and so on but be careful as even if I thought I was being sneaky, he would still find me by lifting beds and tables. If he catches you and one of your days is used, depending on the chapter, your items will respawn in a locked closet (you will need a combination code to open) or your items could appear by you.
If you're looking for the endings or spoilers of how it ends, I won't do that. I want people to enjoy the game and see what ending you could get!
For the last few months, Puppet Combo brought in developer Lum (who has helped with the console ports in the past) to assist in finishing Stay Out of the House. The final and released version of the game is now fully voiced acted, starring Suzi Hunter (Debra), Autumn Ivy (Roxanne) and a surprise guest that made my jaw drop since I did not see it coming!
With their bloodiest game yet, Puppet Combo really achieved that 70's and 80's feel all in one game but still managed to put their signature twist in. As a fan of grindhouse and slashers films, the inspirations to this game were so well portrayed from the environment (the grungy, dirty color palette used in the game really gave it a good touch), to the killer, the lore and the situations your character would run into. The paranoia of being trapped in a killer's house takes fear to a whole new level as this is stuff we usually just see in a film but playing as the actual character, who everyone wants to see survive and find her way out from this twisted situation, it puts a different kind of pressure for you to fight for your character's life and see her outcome. I personally would love to see this being turned into a novelization as some of their other games have like Murder House and Nun Massacre since I am curious to know what happens next in this storyline!
Rating: 5/5 Knives 🔪
Get Stay Out of the House, available on Steam, Playstation, Xbox and Switch!
And check out the trailer below:
Follow Puppet Combo and their publishing label (Torture Star Video) to see what they're up to next!
Thank you all for taking your time in reading this review/blog and always, support indie horror ♥ Leave a "heart" in this post if you are planning on playing this game!
Until next time! 🔪
And don't let The Butcher catch you....