Release date: December 2, 2022
Developer: Harvester Games
Publisher: Harvester Games
Genres: Adventure, puzzle, horror, light platforming and combat elements
Modes: Single player
Categories: Horrifying and Terrifying, Tragic and Heavy, Morbid and Disturbing, Death, (Ill-)Fated Quest
Content warning: “Game contains scenes of a disturbing nature and fear throughout, occasional strong violence and gore, strong bad language, some sexual innuendo and adult themes including alcohol and drug addiction, domestic abuse, animal cruelty, depression and suicide. Therefore, we caution players with a sensitive disposition and must stress it is recommended only for adults aged 18+” .
Burnhouse Lane is a surreal horror experience that will quicken your pulse, tug at your heartstrings, and linger in your mind long after its story draws to a close.
You play as Angie Weather, an agency nurse who has recently been diagnosed with end-stage lung cancer. With about six months left to live, she accepts one last job, serving as a caregiver for an elderly dementia patient named George. While exploring the basement of George’s farmhouse, Angie discovers a door that leads her to Burnhouse Lane, a nightmarish realm “where the sick come to die” . Here, Angie is presented with an extraordinary opportunity: if she can complete five (nearly) impossible tasks, her cancer will be cured. These arduous—and often deadly—trials will test her resolve in terrifying ways, but with the help of some feline friends, Angie just might win a second chance at life.
The game utilizes inventory-based puzzles to advance its plot (i.e. the player collects items and determines how they can be used to remove an obstacle or otherwise allow Angie to progress with her current task). Like the other top-tier puzzle games to debut in 2022 (e.g. Strange Horticulture and The Excavation of Hob’s Barrow), Burnhouse Lane achieves an ideal level of difficulty: engaging but never obtuse, presenting the sort of challenges one might describe as “relaxing” … if they didn’t involve so many mutilated corpses. There are also some entertaining (albeit not very sophisticated) combat sequences to offer a refreshing change of pace at regular intervals. While the mechanics are about as simple as they come—one button to ready your weapon and another to fire/swing it—there’s always a palpable sense of tension because enemies can kill Angie with a single hit.
Burnhouse Lane’s crown jewel is its background art, which is reminiscent of Harvester Games’ previous work (The Cat Lady, Downfall, and Lorelai). Simply put, the game is mesmerizing to look at, featuring frame after frame of bleak yet painterly scenery. The most impactful visuals are dreary landscapes and jagged silhouettes juxtaposed with skies awash in vibrant color—the perfect canvases for a narrative that aims to find hopeful, life-affirming moments in the midst of some rather dark places. The game’s music is also excellent, with the piano-forward tracks proving particularly effective conduits for Burnhouse Lane’s emotional spectrum: hauntingly tender (“Angie’s Theme”), buoyantly wistful (“North Coast 500”), quietly ominous (“Museum of Clocks”), and more. They’re melodies that can turn ordinary slices of life (like having a cup of coffee or watching the rain fall) into something deeply poignant, reminding us to savor “all the things we take for granted” .
Angie’s story is not for the faint of heart, and even the most stoic players are bound to encounter at least a couple of scenes that get under their skin. Whether it elicits a gasp of shock, a sigh of relief, or even some sympathetic tears, Burnhouse Lane is going to make you feel something. It’s a “strange sandwich”  of seemingly contradictory flavors—dreadful and delightful, brutal and sentimental, grotesque and beautiful—that somehow turns out to be even greater than the sum of its parts. If you give it a try, you might be compelled to devour it.
© 2022 PrettyGrim Games. All rights reserved.