4 Things We Like about MADiSON (and 3 Things We Don’t Like)


MADiSON is a deeply intense, disturbing, and creepy first-person horror game with a heavy emphasis on psychological elements, puzzles, and finding key items and clues. In MADiSON, players step into the shoes of Luca, an unfortunate character who finds himself in the middle of a dark ritual, one involving the demonic, all things supernatural, and possibly his family being cursed. It’s clear from the get-go that Luca is in for a harrowing time as he explores his grandfather’s house and the other surreal locations the game throws at players.

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This often old-school feeling survival horror game blends elements of walking simulators with challenging puzzle gameplay. Using the game’s supernatural camera, players are able to solve puzzles, discover clues and lore, and hopefully, piece together what happened to their family. There is a lot to love about MADiSON but the game also has its flaws and foibles.

7 Love: The Downright Spooky Atmosphere

One of the very best parts about MADiSON is the incredibly spooky, tense, and impeccable sense of atmosphere. From the moment the game starts with protagonist Luca in a dimly lit room with nothing but his father banging at the door and a broken television shining on him, it’s quite clear developers Bloodious Games upped the ante in terms of presentation.

The mere fact that much of the game is spent walking around a mostly “normal” house yet still manages to feel utterly terrifying is a testament to the game’s art direction and style. Players love the way the locations in the game feel worn out, derelict, and lived in. There is just a sense of dread that underlies every room, every hallway, and every surreal location.

6 Dislike: The Numerous Bugs, Glitches, And Performance Issues

Something that can kill almost any game, but especially a horror game is when issues like bugs, glitches, and frame drops occur since these things can immediately take players out of the experience. Unfortunately, in MADiSON’s case, the game, at least for some players and on some platforms, is riddled with technical and performance issues.

The most egregious of the issues that players really don’t like is on Xbox. Players that are simply moving through the game will encounter a bug that kicks them back to the main menu upon unlocking an Xbox achievement. This seems to be happening for every achievement but will hopefully get patched out at some point. Less egregious but still frustrating are major frame drops, a wobbly head bob camera thing, and some item pick-up issues.

5 Love: The Simplified Inventory Management System

Games that require players to explore environments and pick up items should ensure these systems are working like a well-oiled machine. Fortunately, in the case of MADiSON, this is very true, at least for the most part. MADiSON gives players eight inventory slots to pick up the various bits and bobs around the game, typically including things like keys, puzzle clues, locked items, a hammer, and a notebook for Luca.

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Swapping out items is very easy to do and really only involves opening up the inventory and cycling between items to interact with or use. It’s a welcome addition to see a game like MADiSON simplify the inventory management system considering a horror game like Visage did a poor job at this. Heck, MADiSON even gives players universal safes to store items between areas which further helps with inventory management.

4 Dislike: Lots And Lots Of Retracing Of Steps

Simply put, MADiSON requires players to retrace their steps and backtrack all of the time. It’s not a major deal in the big scheme of things since the gameplay areas, mostly consisting of Luca’s grandfather’s house and other nightmarish areas, are quite small, however, it does drag the game down quite a bit in the long run.

Many puzzles in the game have players find one or two specific items or notes in order to proceed with a puzzle room. This will typically involve walking back and forth between areas, occasionally referring to Luca’s notebook for some light guidance. For players that ended up storing an item or two in the universal safes, it likely means more backtracking overall, something that breaks the pace of the game somewhat.

3 Love: Great Mixture Of Psychological Scares And Well-Timed Jump Scares

Scares and horror, much like jokes and humor, are mostly subjective. Where many games just throw jump scares at players, others instill a sense of creeping dread and ongoing tension to build terror. In the case of MADiSON, there is a near-perfect balance of psychological scares and some deviously paced and well-timed jump scares, the latter of which often happen because the player must use the camera.

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The constant tension in this game is palpable as players explore the house, the graveyard, the cathedral, and many other fear-inducing areas of the game. There is a randomized audio track that occasionally makes it sound like something or someone is just behind a wall or around the corner. This creeping dread leads the game to feel quite terrifying and oppressive. On the other spectrum are the jump scares. These scares are nicely balanced and aren’t cheap at all, mostly coming down to the player using the camera to get a better view of things in the dark. Well, it’s easy to imagine what happens next in that scenario.

2 Dislike: The Game Is Often A Bit Too Vague And Cryptic

MADiSON is a game that relishes in cryptic puzzles and ambiguity, often to its detriment. No two puzzles are the same in this game and each one requires players to really think outside the box, often combining items in an area, using the camera to reveal clues, and finding pieces of notes to seek out safe combinations, with many of these aspects overlapping.

While that may sound intriguing on one hand, it ends up making the puzzles feel overly vague and confusing, leading many players to retrace steps, constantly fiddling with their inventory, clicking on locks that they know are locked, and even just quitting out of frustration. The thing is, there is a lot of logic in these puzzles and the clues are there for players, however, it can take some serious brain power to get past some of them.

1 Love: Using The Camera

As mentioned before, a major part of the gameplay in MADiSON is using Luca’s instant camera that he picks up right at the start of the game in a creepy-looking wrapped present. This instant camera allows players to snap as many photos as they like (on normal mode) to discover clues, reveal supernatural phenomena, or light up an extra dark area.

This instant camera is not just a gimmick but is instead a major part of the gameplay. For example, players might happen across a room where there are specifically shaped pictures on a wall and a bunch of numbers and clues about adding and subtracting. Only by using the camera to reveal what’s on the wall will the clues to solving those puzzles be revealed. Moments like this in MADiSON make it stand out from similar first-person horror games.