Tattletail is a First Person Horror game in where we play as a child much too excited for his Christmas present and decides to open it five days early. He opens it up, feeds and grooms his new toy then wraps it back up without anyone none the wiser. An uneventful night introduction that introduces to you the mechanics that will be vital to your survival later on and it actually holds its hand a while longer. The air is heavy, the rooms are shrouded in darkness and nothing. You do not know what you are up against or how you’ll be able to handle leading to a heavy dose of paranoia from your oppressive environments. This is amplified by the flashlight that you need to be constantly shaking least the light dies out, leaving you in complete darkness.
Even whilst you shake the living daylights out of that flashlight, doing so will also leave you in near darkness minus its soft glow-stick like shine. Most importantly is that the act of rattling it around causes noise which is a crucial factor in this title. The monster in the shadows is not blind yet will not be aggressive unless you make some noise. Acts like running and shaking said flashlight are what makes noise though oddly enough jumping does not. It is extremely easy to be dead silent and pull off some sick jumps for the fun of it. Unfortunately for us, our furry companion that we occasionally carry around is not exactly one to use his indoor voice.
The doll’s name is Tattletail, and he is quite the demanding toy. If you don’t regularly brush its hair, feed it and recharge his battery, it will cause an impressive amount of noise until you meet his demands. And even with all of its needs met, it will still occasionally talk and give away your position. The act of juggling around his basic needs and being chased down is a neat concept that really separates Tattletail from similar games in where you simply explore with a flashlight. In this title, your tasks will change from instance to instance, day to day. You may find yourself investigating a noise, putting a VHS into a TV or surviving for a set amount of time while playing “Hide & Seek”. Many of the times there may not be anything chasing you at all.
As you continue playing, more of the house will start to open up and later on, one can even go outside. Not very far mind you, you are a toddler after all. Scattered around the place are also toy eggs, containing a variety of odd things inside. There are 22 in total and surprisingly enough are not just collectibles. You will need to find all of them in order to get the good ending, and they only place a few for each night. The story itself is pretty cryptic, to the point where I have some interpretations though I don’t necessarily know what on earth just happened. In any case, whichever ending you get matters little as the developers kindly added a free expansion pack later on that continues the story in an interesting though just as obscure fashion.
And now time to bring up the elephant in the room. The monster itself. It is an eight inch, armless fur ball called “Mama” that has to be one of the least threatening foes for a horror game in recent memory. Its red eyes are slightly eerie however it has nothing else for one to be disturbed by, either visually or audibly. As it scours the house, it speaks to you with a voice more soothing than anything with its means of killing you being a complete mystery. It pounces on you sure, though with the tiny teeth in its mouth I can’t imagine what it does next to be more than a slight annoyance. A slight annoyance that can easily be punt kicked through a window by a toddler makes for a poor monster to keep the situation tense, even if it can insta-kill you.
Dying will take you back to the beginning of the task you were trying to accomplish which is rarely more than a few minutes of progress, and in addition, all of Tattletail’s needs will be filled. That means if you die due to your toy throwing a fit at just the wrong time, it is unlikely it will occur again. This is a nice feature, but it can be easily abused to cheese your way through most of the game. Aside from its three needs, you must also keep in mind that it is scared of the dark so one cannot go long without a light source. Sounds simple enough, just constantly rattle your flashlight when it appears safe and move on. Well, its not that easy I’m afraid, if you accidentally point your light at Mama, she will drain all of it, leaving you as a prime target holding a little ticking time bomb.
Mama will stop moving if you are looking at her from afar but glancing at her from a close distance will result in her pouncing. She does not move all that fast, what makes her deadly is her teleporting ability, causing you to frequently have no idea where she actually is. The house is not all that big either, at times she may teleport in such a way that it will leave you trapped, staring at a wall as to not trigger her and hope for the best. It has all that it needs to have been a terrifying experience, and it does bring its own ideas into the to separate it from other titles that have you walking around in the dark with naught but a flashlight. With such a underwhelming cryptically told story and decent gameplay marred by an ineffective threat, it is a game hard to recommend to a specific audience. It is perfectly functional, and at times fun to complete tasks while maintaining Tattletail’s needs but do not purchase this title expecting any horror.