It's scary alright; it is absolutely horrific
This is one of the scariest games i have ever played to date, as i am writing this review. I mean, it is absolutely horrific, it is intense and psychologically disturbing. The developers have done this best by atmosphere and use or lack of music and ambiance; coupled with almost complete dark stages, and view is only possible with a flash light.
A twisted paradox i have been pondering for a while now, is the fact that people have, especially teenagers, been saturated with violence. It does not have the "scary" intention or affect it did when i was i kid and watching all the 80's horror splatter movies. And this is also the case with movies and games today, where violence is not as much used to frighten, as to entertain. Condemned is a fine candidate, as it uses your own fear of the dark, and the expectation of something scary to happen to frighten you, not relying on the shock of intense violence; although it is muy violento, indeed
The game play I would say, is somewhat original, or at least uses old stuff in a slightly new way.
You play as an FBI investigator, tracking down serial killers, in a gruesome era full of violence and disorder. The town has become fragmented into areas where chaos, violence and anarchy goes hand in hand; it would almost seem as crazed, and catatonic psychotics of all sort are at war with each other, and what law enforcement there is. As the story progresses, you will search every godforsaken slum and terrifying areas of the city there is, using your melee skills to overcome enemies, and cunning wits to uncover clues. The fighting, and with an emphasis on the hand weapons, is grueling and intense; guns are a shortage, and with every means necessary, you need to batter your way forward. It is kind of hard to master it, if you ever will; the blocking will cause you some headaches, as it did with with me.
The pace of the main character is also something to point out. While it doesn't affect the game in a negative way, even running is almost feeling like a man in need of a walking cane.
The game will get a bit repetitive after only a few stages and there are no such thing as a side quest etc, which basically means you finish the stages fairly quickly. The only only thing that could make you want to explore the stages is collecting stuff, which has no other purpose than achievement points. Melee fights and crime scene investigation is pretty much the same all the way. The story is at times captivating, but leaves the player with a lot of unanswered questions; equal to telling you there will be a sequel.
To sum up. A game not for the faint hearted. Gruesome fighting, dark and creepy. Cool new features. Innovative though it borrows a lot from previously seen game features. There are some factors which pulls the game down from a top score and feels somewhat frustrating, but it is more than playable, scary yet pleasing.