Gray Dawn, the devil’s toying with your mind.
I was a little leery about playing this game–mainly because the screenshots on the store page gave me a creepy horror vibe, but it’s actually not that bad in the grand scheme of “horror.” It was definitely a psychological Christian trip that I didn’t really pay much attention to because it all went over my head.
It’s sad to say that Gray Dawn isn’t a game that will probably be remembered by me in the future.
But I mean, it is one of the only heavily Christian-themed games I’ve played.
What is this page?
This is an in-depth critique of the game Gray Dawn. I go all in with my review by picking apart the game, piece by piece. By doing this, I try to help not only the devs that created the games, but also future aspiring devs by giving my viewpoint on everything as an avid gamer, but please understand…
There may be spoilers.
Is there a Patreon playthrough of this game?
No, I only provide video recordings to patrons if the game consists of the NSFW tag.
Can I read a shorter review of Gray Dawn?
The tl;dr version of this review can be found on my other website–Worthy of Me.
The title screen depicts a large window looking down into a room and what appears to be someone sitting in a chair, but it’s not quite clear, because there’s frost build-up on the pane. There’s a certain warmth on the inside that lets us know it is being used, but that’s about it.
Outside the window, a bunch of crows are kind of hopping in place, trying to get in.
Now, whether they want in because it’s cold outside, or whether it’s an omen of death–they are a murder of crows, after all–is I guess open to interpretation. It’s also snowing rather heavily.
Taking all of that into consideration, the title screen doesn’t really give us anything on the game itself. It’s enticing to want to start the game to understand why all the crows are gathered around this window, though, and who might be sitting in the room, but that’s about it.
The title doesn’t actually appear on the title screen, oddly enough, so there’s nothing to really put here.
- New Game
Continue just resumes the game where it left off. And if you finished it, it probably takes you to a save point before the end of the game (a mere speculation).
Hit New Game if you want to be in the shoes of a priest accused of murder!
Load obviously allows you to pick from one of the saves you’ve done throughout the game, as well as the autosaves. Though they’re a bit confusing.
Options provides you with everything you need to tweak the game, including:
- Video, for resolution, if you’d like it in fullscreen or not, the quality of the graphics, and whether Vsync should be enabled or not
- Audio to adjust the dialogue, music, and FX
- Gameplay which allows subtitles, what language you want it in, whether you want to toggle run, as well as what the icons in the game mean
- Input gives you a chance to adjust your mouse and keyboard keybinds as well as see what buttons do what on the controller
The Credits are there in case you missed them at the end, or just want to see who worked on Gray Dawn.
Finally, Exit if you can’t handle the demons anymore.
There are 18 achievements.
You will be entangled in a terrifying adventure of a priest on a quest to prove his innocence. Guilty or not, you find yourself trapped in the middle of strange events involving a demonic possession and divine apparitions.
Each time you remember the boy or hear about being accused of murder, you go into a trance fueled by fear. These moments of madness depict gore, repulsion towards God, and sometimes even the voice of the devil himself trying to convince you of things that may or may not be lies…
I’d say the game’s around 5 hours, though possibly more as there are two endings you can obtain.
If you didn’t get a specific ending (there’s a good and a bad one), then yeah, there’s some replay value just to get the second ending if you wanted it. But aside from that, no.
There’s a lot of walking around and narrative with some puzzles thrown in, as you’re on an adventure to prove your innocence.
Well the whole mystery is what happened to David. Everyone is accusing Father Abraham of murdering a child and you’re playing him in order to find out the truth.
There’s a lot of psychological things going on in this game, especially when you go into a trance in your mind, I guess? It’s a Christian-based game so the devil is at play in a variety of scenes, which makes you cast doubt on the reality of things.
I mean, how often do crows fly out of drawers or frogs fall from above?
There are very few puzzles in this game and they’re not difficult to figure out. It’s mostly regarding putting objects you’ve collected into the appropriate locations.
Yeah if you don’t like to do a bunch of walking in a video game, then you might not want to go for this game. There’s no action elements, and you constantly walk around to find things to progress the game. You can do a little exploring in areas, but most times you don’t have too much room to wander around.
Of course, if you have no idea what to do and where to go, then you’re bound to be walking in circles until you figure it out.
If you’re able to interact with something–whether it’s to open a door or take an objects–your in-game cursor will turn into a hand. If something needs an item in order for you to do anything with it, your cursor will become a question mark.
While you’re in your “inner mind” let’s say, there’s a music box you’ll eventually be carrying. You can use this music box to change the environment’s season from Summer to Winter.
You can’t mess with your inventory system, but you can see what you’ve got on hand as images in the lower right.
Honestly, Father Abraham looks just as glum as his voice.
Seeing as Gray Dawn is in first person, you’ll only be able to look at yourself within a reflection or a photo.
Everyone else that you see–which are mainly the children of the orphanage–don’t have the greatest of redeeming qualities in the looks department. They’re just kind of stiff in their movements (don’t tell me it’s because they’re dead and rigor mortis has set in either, damnit). They also seemed to all pretty much look like replicas of each other with differences here and there.
The character we play as–Father Abraham–has a droll voice. There’s not much emotion coming through, even when he tries to evoke emotion in certain areas that need it. So listening to him talk isn’t a really fun process. I get it; it’s not a happy-go-lucky mindset he has, what with the implications of him having murdered a boy, but still…
And David’s voice in his head…sounds a bit too adult with his word usage. You know he’s reading from a script because some of the shit he says just…doesn’t make sense because it’s so cryptic.
The only voice I actually liked was the radio host. He’s the only exuberant one in Gray Dawn.
There’s nothing that allows the subtitles to stand out. They’re the generic white text at the bottom center of the screen with a black outline, so in some areas you’ll have trouble actually reading the text.
There are some spelling mistakes you’ll find scattered throughout, but it’s not a huge problem
The game goes for the realistic style of graphics and the environment around you is honestly really nice to look at. The devs didn’t slack off when it came to decorating the entirety of the house or even the outside world you walk around in.
Since Gray Dawn is Christian-based, you’re going to see a lot of religious paintings scattered throughout.
When you first start the game, you’re hearing the Christmas carol of Deck the Halls being sung via the radio. You know it’s going to be a grand old time when you hear chipper music in a psychological horror game, right?
Of course, this just allows us to know either Christmas is here or it’s near.
When you appear in the slice of paradise every so often, there’s a serene quality to the music, because the place is supposed to be a sliver of Heaven, I believe. The music matches the quality and places less stress on the mind.
There’s also some holy type of music that might come out of a radio to clear the air of Satan, y’know?
One of the sound effects is the sound of you walking, but I don’t think it’s really consistent with the steps you take. Not only that, but walking on different surfaces doesn’t change the sound either–such as walking on carpet or walking on wood floors. Others include picking up useful items (it’s a bit of a tink sound) as well as opening and closing drawers or doors.
The sounds really amp up the atmosphere at times, because there are moments of silence.
I wasn’t a fan of Gray Dawn just because of its lack of clarity in storytelling and confusing elements.
The moment you start playing the game, you don’t know what the hell is going on, and it’s really not until the middle of your gameplay that things start piecing together if you’re paying attention. Plus, you go from a home and its surrounding area to an imaginary landscape which I can only assume is in his mind’s eye or palace where David, the boy who you supposedly killed, talks to you.
And God. I think God talks to you too.
Not only that, but if you’re not sure where to go, then there aren’t going to be any hints. You’ll just have to wander around and figure it out on your own.
Which, of course, pulls you out of the story.