Antarctica 88

I love horror. I love aliens. I love John Carpenter’s The Thing. And it appears Euphoria Games, a Russia-based indie game developer, loves them too — at least, that’s the impression I get from Antarctica 88, which came out last year on Steam and on mobile devices in December of 2021. It finally came to PS4 on March 10, 2022, and that’s the version I played.

In Antarctica 88, you are attempting to find your scientist/mine-drilling father at the geological research station Antarctica 1 after no response for more than six weeks. Upon arrival, you are thrust into a world of flower-headed mutants and discount-Zerglings, where you’ll be shooting your way through puzzles and repairing pieces of high-tech equipment in attempts to find your father and discover what was found under the ice.

This game draws influence from a lot of places, like the obvious alien-under-the-Antarctic-ice plot of The Thing, the creature design reminiscent of the Demogorgon from Stranger Things, and the Zerglings from Starcraft. It also features the unsettling atmosphere and ambience of early Resident Evil and Silent Hill games, and even the save-station mechanic from Alien: Isolation.

Antarctica 88

Let me start with the good. The story is short and to the point, but it’s unique in its own right. It has multiple world-affecting endings, which depend on vital decisions made at the end involving dynamite. Without spoiling anything, the twist at the end is something that can be seen a thousand miles away, but it feels familiar instead of cliché.

The cave system you’ll be exploring feels cramped and claustrophobic, with creatures that can come out of seemingly nowhere on occasion, and this creates a tangible sense of tension and unease.

Antarctica 88 does have a real-time day/night cycle that adjusts the time of day based on your console’s clock. This allows you to experience a world that’s occasionally so dark you can’t find items, but aside from that, I don’t think it really impacts gameplay much.

Antarctica 88‘s list of minor flaws is long. Your character turns excruciatingly slowly, even with the sensitivity turned all the way up. Visuals are janky and boxy, and assets and colors occasionally don’t load. The vehicle controls are horridly stiff, which can be especially dangerous on cliffsides. The hint system doesn’t help at all, because it only says vague things that are shakily translated. Menus are ugly and difficult to use because they are only workable with the left stick and not the D-pad.

Antarctica 88

To be honest, nearly all of these flaws are worth dealing with, at least to me. Being able to set those slightly irritating gameplay issues aside allows you to see how much Euphoric Games truly appreciates horror in all mediums. And I really appreciate that.

However, there is one issue I was unable to look past. Several times during the game, I would save or open the menu and the game would freeze the right trigger (the shooting button) so when I exited the menu my character would continue to shoot automatically and waste all of my ammo. Pressing the button, reopening the menu, and even reloading the save wouldn’t solve the problem. The only thing that would reset it was fully closing and opening the game again. I tried two different controllers to make sure it wasn’t a hardware issue, and it happened with both of them.

Antarctica 88 isn’t perfect — far from it — but I would be lying to you if I said I didn’t genuinely enjoy it. Admittedly, that’s my own personal bias coming out, because I love The Thing and 80s horror so much, but I had a lot of fun with this little game.

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Chad Spencer
Chad Spencer
7 months ago

Great review. I look forward to trying the game because I LOVE The Thing too. 🤠

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