Released on 4 August 2016, Apartment 666 is a game by an indie developer. Not just that, this developer is a Pakistani named Shahmeer Chaudhry. He worked with some other people for certain games but he indeed is the alpha dog and the mind behind this PC game and a number of android games as well. This developer goes by the name of I Need Play on Steam and he has become famous after releasing a dozen games. He designed Apartment 666 when he was only 17 years old.

Shahmeer says he took inspiration from Silent Hill PT when developing A666. For those who have played both games, they know that Silent Hill is entirely a far cry from Apartment 666. And Silent Hill, when compared to Apartment 666 seems like a gaming giant, if there was doubt in anyone’s mind that it was anyway.

So to describe this game you are a kid who wakes up and pads towards a door while searching for and reading a newspaper along the way (which can remove the murkiness around all the weird, ghostly stuff going on). Barring that and the lighting and witch made of darkness that appears, this is easily a full description of Apartment 666.

A666 is a brief game, less than a hour in length but that is only the first layer of this ugly onion and calamity one of the top gaming minds of our country produced. But I really want to say something positive because I want Shahmeer to take hope, and succeed in his future endeavors. So I will say the darkness definitely fits the atmosphere (Even though it sometimes hides the newspaper you can interact with). There are some scares, particularly towards the end and there is a minor mystery to solve.

Except this mystery isn’t a mystery since the game is so short. You get answers every-time you wake up on that annoying bed, visit irritating room after room (which usually looks the same), and, read exasperating newspaper after newspaper, which is the main source of information. This repetition is not good in a horror video game. You want to gain information from a variety of sources, not one.

And clearly interactive objects other than this newspaper are severely lacking. Resident Evil
(the last one before Resident Evil 2 Remaster) lets you interact with dozens of unique objects to be successful. And like in Resident Evil there are no items to scrounge for to get into the next room or next part of the building (or even get a clue about the background of where you are and what is happening in this terrifying world).

Perhaps there could be keys to search for, that would unlock the next room. Perhaps you could explore some more and find hidden locations. Perhaps there could be some creepy collectibles like a broken one-eyed doll or dead rats. Perhaps there was something else rather than just newspapers to gain information (Possibly like a VCR video? Security camera feeds? Notes? Visions?). All this is preventing Apartment 666 from being anywhere near a good game.

You don’t have to move a long distance in Apartment 666. This is as bad as it is good. I wouldn’t mind some exploration and investigation but without the slow walk speed fixed, this could have easily become an annoyance. The ability to run around could be useful, but the clues found in newspapers aren’t far enough from each other and there is no sense of exploring something new to drive us ahead. All this brings me to simply say that the game is boring and nothing but a complete redesign can fix this.

Apartment 666 is also slow and not scary at the start. The tension tends to build up though. Jump scares are also present along the way. But is staying stuck in that single house interesting for even the most bad-game-tolerant gamer?

It is a good idea to have different locations in a game for the average gamer to avoid losing interest in it. At least the game takes us to a park too eventually. But in this park again the lack of ability to explore is a hurdle. Instead you can’t move in this park at all.

A newspaper with a changing headline as the sole, proper interactive object does not make a good game by any yardstick. You can only interact with two items, one which is a door and the other which is a newspaper. How can such a game succeed? I would advise Pakistani, Indian, Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi game developers to look at other games out there and gauge what international gamers want, are looking for, and will spend their money on. There is way too little in this game that makes it interesting. And if I see the words “Murder at a Park”, I will vomit.

And then there is the almost constant problem that Pakistani gamers do not know about their developers and publishers. Even though Shahmeer may be an icon for Pakistani gamers, not a lot of gamers in our country know about him. Pakistanis have a tendency to support gamers from their country, some overtly, and some in other intricate ways (like our way of reviewing his game which will in turn give him valuable marketing and PR). This was true of the Glorious Resolve with some nascent gamers even claiming it was better than PUBG (It wasn’t in any department). It proves gaming in Pakistan is in its infancy and we are ready to accept any game, no matter how horrible. And our developers haven’t helped either because they make second-rate games like this.

Now I know Shahmeer had minimal resources like most, if not all Pakistani developers. He learned to make games himself. He did not receive a degree in game design. This makes this effort truly tremendous. However indie developers have made great games like Candy Crush and Stardew Valley. So why not hold Apartment 666 to the same standards? I mean being an indie developer does not give you the excuse to make a mediocre game and the two above-mentioned games are done mostly by one person too.

There are Pakistani titles like The Glorious Resolve that find it difficult to compete with international games. There are Indian ones like the Dhoom 3 game that have the same problem. But certain games are made without a thought into how audiences around the world would receive them, especially when they have so many other options available that are far better.

While I could have given this game a better rating (for its effort), while keeping only Desi/Third World competitors games in mind, I have to follow international standards when rating it. Though I don’t like it and don’t want to kill Shahmeer’s dreams.

A 17 year old designed it so some credit should go to him. At least when applying for a job at one of the top gaming studios he can mention that he produced a video game by himself (there was a little support here and there in the arenas of concept, narration and audio and the ending credits mention this). We, at ataaga.com wish him the best but want him to make the Nation proud, by making a modern game that appeals to world audiences. That would be the ‘gaming coup’ our country Pakistan, so keenly desires.

Review Platform: PC

Rating: 3.8

Pros:

  • Massive effort. Developed by a 17 year old.
  • Some jump scares along the way.
  • Lighting is good for the mood.

Cons:

  • Only two items you can interact with. A newspaper and a door.
  • The newspaper only has one heading while different words appear at the top.
  • Extremely short game.
  • No exploration or investigation capabilities.
  • No collectibles.
  • The house and the park are the only environments you will be in.
  • Repetitive

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