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POOLS Review

POOLS Review

POOLS is a “walking simulator” developed by Tensori. Inspired largely by creepy internet phenomena such as liminal spaces, found footage, and Kane Pixels’ The Backrooms (Found Footage), it was released on the 26th of April this year. The game is presented as found footage, separated into six videos (or chapters) where it depicts someone (you) exploring a pool… area(?). It has been a while since I played a real horror game, and usually, I have a gun to shoot when I do. Even as I’m writing this first paragraph before I play, I’m feeling pretty anxious thinking about firing it up. God, no wonder none of my other co-workers wanted to review this. I don’t wanna review this.

Worst part: I can’t swim, so… let’s get this over with. Oh boy.

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As with any walking simulator, the most you can do is walk, walk slightly faster, and swim slowly through water. You aren’t here for the gameplay, you’re here for the experience. And what an experience it is. Straight from the get-go, you’ll feel uneasy despite it looking like any other public pool. It’s what makes stuff like The Backrooms so scary; It’s taking familiar concepts and areas we know and just twisting them. The lighting, sounds, and graphics are what really sell that atmosphere. It’s realistic but uncanny at the same time. Words and images alone will not be of much help. You need to really feel this by playing the game yourself.

There is no monster, this is information that is quite literally on POOLS’ Steam page. There is nothing trying to kill you, but it definitely feels like something is. It’s not a traditional horror game, but it is certainly anxiety-inducing, making you feel like a kid trapped in a swimming centre overnight. I even felt a little sick playing this. It’s intense for a game with absolutely no way to die. If there was, I think it would take away from the experience then add to it. Nothing is scarier. Your mind will fill in the blanks better than any artfully-designed creature ever could. Plus, jump scares are cheap.

As for anything I didn’t like all that much other than the noises, the claustrophobia, and general creepiness? I think having chapter transitions sort of ruins the flow of the game. It’s nice you can go back to areas easily enough for any secrets or easter eggs you might want to hunt down in the main menu, but it interrupts the pacing. Otherwise, everything worked well. Nothing ruined my immersion… which I really hoped would happen.

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POOLS isn’t long, you can beat it in about two hours, but those two hours will be either the best or worst gaming experience this year. That being said, it is only meant to be played once. It loses its lustre after one playthrough, but you will treasure it nonetheless. If you’re into such an experience, I’ll recommend it. Just make sure to have some good headphones and play in the dark.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m just gonna go ahead and play something else that doesn’t involve so much water.

9.00/10 9

POOLS (Reviewed on Windows)

Excellent. Look out for this one.

POOLS is not for the easily anxious, even if there’s nothing in the water to pull you down. The sounds alone will make you fear the depths. You should

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Dylan Pamintuan

Dylan Pamintuan

Staff Writer

An Australian-born guy whose trying to show everyone why games are awesome.

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