The premise behind StoryTale Studios’ narrative horror experience, Pamali: Indonesian Folklore Horror, is a fascinating one. Part horror game, and part educational experience, this chaptered game includes four stories:
The White Lady: A young man returns to clean up and prepare his old family home for selling. His family’s history is a sad one, and scattered throughout the house are what appear to be signs of protection. Is the house truly empty?
The Tied Corpse: When a new gravekeeper is given an important burial, he must be careful to do all the proper steps. If he misses one, it’s possible that the things going bump in the night might not just be in his imagination until he corrects his wrongs…
The Little Devil: A young woman trying to pay off her father’s medical expenses decides that dissolving her inheritance will be the easiest way. All she needs to do is search for some treasures inside an empty mansion, filled with family history. But she may find things she wasn’t quite prepared for, hidden in those rooms.
The Hungry Witch: Ignoring her mother’s warnings, a pregnant woman decides to visit the lake at night. Unfortunately, some decisions change our lives, and now she must figure out how to escape evil with both her and her baby’s lives intact.
As you make your way through each story, you’ll have to pay attention to Indonesian superstition and manners to keep yourself both safe and sane, but that’s a little easier said than done. At the end of each playthrough, you’ll get a summary of what you did that affected your ending, so that you can learn for the future.
There are a number of endings to collect – if you’re trying to see them all, a guide may be necessary to understand what choices need to be made, as many of them are pretty specific. Some are good, some are bad, and some are kind of funny – afterall, how many of us wouldn’t just walk out the door the moment creepy hauntings start when we’re home alone?
Pamali’s detailed graphics, lore hidden throughout each chapter, and plenty of cultural information make it a fascinating game to explore overall. I learned a lot from playing through the first two chapters, and developed an interest in looking up a lot more afterward.
Unfortunately I’m not sure how to feel about the gameplay itself. I liked the tense, creepy atmospheres, the jumpscares, and the way stories unfolded (particularly in the first chapter) as I picked up documents, checked shelves, and committed myself to more exploration. It’s an immersive, enjoyable way to learn more about folklore and legends. However, at times it could be incredibly tedious. For example, cleaning the entire house is a slow, boring process – it takes a long time, isn’t very interesting, and eventually just becomes a real chore instead of a quick virtual one. At times I felt like I was really waiting for something to actually happen.
Literally every single decision you make has consequences – even the things you say in passing may come back to haunt you.
I did not play the third and fourth chapters yet, but there seems to be a bit of an argument over whether The Hungry Witch is the best or the worst installment, so I’m interested to see the differences in its stories and how it plays.
In the end, I enjoyed stepping into the world of Pamali, learning a bit about the world around me, and being both scared and excited when creepy, mysterious things happened each evening. However, I’m not sure I’d enjoy the extra effort to go through and do multiple playthroughs.
You can buy Pamali: Indonesian Folklore Horror in the four-chapter bundle for a discount, or if you’re interested in trying out a single chapter first, you can get it in chapters of $4.99 each. If you’re okay with the slower gameplay, I think it’s an interesting, uncomfortable horror experience, but just know that the chapters vary in their experiences, and that your playthrough make feel a bit tedious from time to time as you learn how to respect the homes and spaces around you, and go through each ritual as it needs to be done.
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