It’s a scene that should be familiar to any retail worker – that quiet moment, where the silence stretches between customers. It’s not a particularly exciting time – maybe for a short break, but for the full night is a different story. Occasionally the emptiness is interrupted by a customer – some strange, some rude, and some kind. You get all sorts of folks in the middle of the night.
This is the situation the player finds themselves in Convenience Store – a short, walking sim-style game centered around a college girl in Japan trying to earn a little extra money on a convenience store night shift. I honestly didn’t have high hopes when I first picked this one up – I was expecting something silly, especially at its low price-tag, but I was impressed and surprised by how much I enjoyed it.
Your first couple nights are mostly boring, punctuated by a few strange moments. Soon, however, it becomes clear that something strange is going on in this little building. Even more, you start receiving odd video tapes at late hours of the night. What the heck is going on?
It feels strange to compliment Convenience Store’s slow-burn, honestly kind of boring start, but it’s a big part of the game’s atmosphere. The constant moments of silence leave the player thinking and listening for something – anything – to happen and praying for more calmness at the same time. It plays like a typical Japanese horror movie, slowly compounding on a sense of strangeness and discomfort.
You’ll spend a lot of your time stocking shelves, taking care of tasks, and waiting for customers. It’s strangely realistic in a way a lot of games probably wouldn’t attempt for fear of being too uneventful, but here it works fantastically. When it does get scary, it’s extra stressful because no matter how much you know something eventually has to happen, it’s impossible to not lean into the uneventful, quite nighttime atmosphere.
This little story is short – maybe a couple hours – and ultimately has little replay value, but the ride is a fun one and a great little Halloween experience. Even better, it’s not action based, so if you’re looking for some good atmospheric horror to try out but don’t want to spend your evening running, shooting, and hiding (which, anyone who’s read my reviews before will know is my downfall), this is a solid bet.
Order Up! is a weekly column featuring indie-focused reviews, news, or interviews! We like old games just as much as new ones and are always looking for something to check out. Have a game recommendation, a project, or a company you want to talk about? Email me at [email protected] or find me on Twitter @ArcanaChance