You are dead! Papa Sangre II arrives in time to scare up Halloween [Review]

I like unusual games, and the original Papa Sangre really appealed to me. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s essentially a sound-only game for iOS in which you listen for 3D audio clues as to where you are and the direction you need to be going in. The follow up, The Nightjar (featuring the voice of Benedict Cumberbatch), added more of a story to the proceedings, and now in time for Halloween, Papa Sangre returns.

I was one of the beta testers for the new game, and I’m pleased to report Papa Sangre II is a massive improvement over the original. The rebuilt binaural processing Papa Engine does an amazing job of recreating a 3D soundscape in your mind and the addition of actor Sean Bean’s vocal talents, a choice of control systems and some inspired levels -- one moment you’re escaping a burning house, the next shooting ducks in the dark -- combine to create a very rewarding experience.

In Papa Sangre II you are dead. There’s no way to sugar coat it. But by following Sean Bean’s instructions, and collecting memory fragments from dead souls, you might be able to find a way back to the World of the Living.

The improved control systems -- you can choose Gyro (point in the direction you want to go), Swipe (drag your finger on screen to change direction) or Tilt (angle the device where you want to face) -- mean you can play it anywhere. I prefer to use the Gyro mode while seated in a swivel chair in the dark (or with my eyes closed), as I find it’s so much easier to follow the sounds. With the original Papa Sangre it could be difficult sometimes to work out if a sound was in front, or behind. There’s no such confusion in the sequel -- you know exactly where the sounds are coming from (provided you have your headphones on the right way round).

You walk or run by tapping the bottom half of the screen (left, right, left, right) and interact with items or your surroundings using the hand icons at the top of the screen. It’s very intuitive and you don’t need to see the screen to use it.

The biggest complaint I had with the first game was the lack of variety in levels. That’s definitely not an accusation that can be leveled at Papa Sangre II. As well as trying to escape a burning building, or shooting incoming ducks, other challenges have you rescuing a dog from an ice field, using a Geiger counter to avoid radioactive steam blasts, making your way through a thunderstorm, and swimming under water (not all at once, thankfully).

The game is very challenging at times, and it can be frustrating repeating levels that you can’t seem to master, but that just makes it all the more rewarding when you finally make it through.

The fact the game takes place in your mind, means it’s surprisingly scary at times. Inching forward trying not to make a sound while something is growling by your shoulder really does get the blood pumping.

Obviously this is not a game for everyone, but if you fancy trying something different and giving your imagination a workout, I can definitely recommend it. Papa Sangre II is available in the Apple App Store now, priced at $3.99/£2.49.

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