Games like The Fan are a rare breed. Not only is it a point-and-click title solely made up of photographs, but it also puts you in the shoes of a sociopathic stalker who’s locked a woman in his basement. Talk about a creepy twist, huh? Ezhaac Studio had a great premise on their hands with this one. Yet, it still feels like it’s only scratched the surface of what could’ve been a much more refined and memorable experience.
After a short FMV sequence, a news headline will crop up. A notorious killer and kidnapper, dubbed by the media as ‘The Fan’, is said to be at large. Yep, your handiwork isn’t going unnoticed by a longshot. The game starts in your ‘lair’, a sordid and mucky basement underneath surface level. In a nearby room is his latest catch, a woman that he’s obsessed over, and he’s about to set off to steal a few important items in hopes of expressing his undying love for her.
From beginning to end, the atmosphere in this game is creepy and unsettling. The photography is definitely top-notch stuff; the minimal use of lighting in a handful of shots do make for some disturbing sights, such as the vague silhouettes of the antagonist reflecting off a window. Things like the rusty, blood-stained tools next to the bruised and bloody victim are no doubt chilling sights, too. Its minimalistic, eerie soundtrack heightens the apprehensive feel of the title even further.
One of the biggest gripes is the fact that the gameplay is awfully shallow and boring. Throughout the vast majority of it, you’ll be clicking on the on-screen arrows to navigate your way around the hideout, as well as the apartments of both the victim and her boyfriend. Click, click, click… hardly exciting stuff, considering there’s little to interact with in each area, aside from zooming the camera at inconsequential objects for no reason.
Both of these areas have a checklist of items you need to grab. You won’t need much, only a few specific items, but you can expect a fair bit of backtracking and fumbling around in cupboards, bins and bags in order to finally find them. On occasions, you might be able to find clues via emails. Though it’s not like you’ve got a timer over your head, or have a maverick detective on your tail. Again, all you gotta do is simply click, click, click…
And just like that, within a single hour, the experience sadly closes. There’s little replay value to be had here, since you’re only given three binary choices that only change what news articles you get to read at the end of each chapter, epilogue included. At least some of the choices on offer are pretty gruesome to look at.
There’s so much more that The Fan might’ve achieved if it had more longevity and fleshed out gameplay. Perhaps the developers could’ve pushed the boundaries further, too, allowing the player to do more morally questionable things for an additional dollop of shock factor to go alongside. Alas, its shallow gameplay is a major let-down. Ultimately, its particularly dark premise and unsettling plot alone sadly won’t make you a fan if you’re hounding for a gripping point-and-click title.