You Should Really Play 'The Upturned'

Fifteen items down on the Steam 250 Hidden Gems list, you’ll find a game that really doesn’t look like anything else on it.

That isn’t to say the automatically generated list of highly-rated games which are automatically curated and then removed after a certain number of reviews is filled with homogeneous games.

Quite the opposite. The list is incredibly diverse, tracking all levels of meme games to casual games to games where you are literally coding. These are great games, none too alike (and we will be revisiting this list soon).

Even then, amongst a kaleidoscope of unique games, The Upturned doesn’t look like anything else on the list. It doesn’t look like anything else you’ve played.

And that’s because it isn’t.

The Upturned is a sort of platformer-puzzler-horror hybrid that finds you, whoever the hell you are, trying to simply get to your room in The Upturned Inn; a hotel for the dead


Oh, sorry. Did you not get that from the trailer there? Were you perhaps a bit confused by the absolute butt-fucking insanity of it? Get used to that feeling.

The Upturned does something that very few games, especially games amongst the modern horror genre, can do; keep you on your toes. Right away the game will ask you to enter your name. However, just as you begin to enter your name in, the cursor will move automatically, select letters for you, and then force you to accept it. This is what my name came out to.


It’s funny, but it’s quiet, it doesn’t point at itself and laugh. It doesn’t have any sort of indicators, like Cartman’s narration over the difficulty slider in South Park: The Fractured But Whole, that make it clear if you’re supposed to even be laughing or not.

What it does cue are some recurring gameplay and design themes; you’ll never understand the scope of whats going on, and you’re never in control. And oddly, in this silly moment, that’s quite scary.

The games ability to stay surprising, to combine its humor and its horror, to present situations and flip them on their heads, thats whats so special about this game.


No situation or level is consistent, but this never feels cheap or unearned. Everything which happens in the game feels like it has every reason to occur, no matter how strange or terrifying it is.

The game never told you that your first soiree into the hotel, in contrast to a very noisy opening filled with the screeching wheels of a train and foreboding underscoring, would be suddenly and starkly silent. But that was never off the table.

The game didn’t do anything to convey to you that when its ominous white statues appeared in the game they would come to life and attack you at some point, so its on you if you were taking a wide berth around every one you saw in uneasy anticipation of something scary that never comes.


And all of this is elevated, instead of undercut (as it usually is), by the humor of it all. This game is genuinely very funny; with its energetic, bouncy, overclocked animations, its strong grasp of visual gags, and even some pretty sharp dialogue.


The way the game embraces its silliest elements elevates its scariest moments while also offering reprieve from them. The offbeat and otherworldly sense of humor lets the player understand that they’re not supposed to understand, and allows the game to go completely off the rails in ways that other games bogged down with grounded realism can’t.

And of course none of these surprises would be worth indulging in if the game wasn’t actually fun. And it is. It’s speedy, simple, yet precise platforming matched with creative level and puzzle design and sweaty-palm inducing chases given by its vicious but bizarre and sometimes hilarious enemies, make it endlessly enticing to engage with.


It’s difficulty to even explain anything further; both out of fear of spoiling any more surprises the game has to offer and due to it just being preternatural from top to bottom.

So we’re going to leave it here. I’ll give you a link to the store page, and then I have to get back to my search because those statues I mentioned… they haven’t moved yet, at least I don’t think so, but there’s this one in the hallway that I think is… uh, oh.