Horror games are often the victims of diminishing returns. Even the best videogame scares – the dogs through the window in Resident Evil, the rusty wheelchair death at the start of Silent Hill, the first Clicker in The Last of Us – lose their power once you’ve survived them once. But this is the first time that a horror game has directly acknowledged the genre’s short lifespan, taking your attention span and turning it into a challenge – overcome your fear, beat the big evil in less than two hours, and Steam will give you your money back.
Available now, Refund Me If You Can, by independent developer Sungame Studio, centres on Sarah, a young woman having a nightmare where she’s chased through a maze by a toothy, screeching monster. As soon as you boot it up, a clock appears on the screen and starts ticking down. There are, apparently, 100 possible routes out of the labyrinth, but only one is correct, and all you have to help is a torch (which comes with one battery and can’t be recharged) and some red and green chemlights that you can use to mark routes you’ve previously explored.
The game takes advantage of Steam’s refunds policy, which offers money back for “any reason…if the title has been played for less than two hours”. This means that, theoretically, you could still apply for a refund if you take more than two hours to escape. But, like Googling all the jump scares before you watch a horror film, that would surely kill the fun, especially when Refund Me If You Can costs just $3.99 USD.
It’s a little rough technically, but a fantastic concept, and a good test of your nerves. If you want to take a on a unique horror game challenge, I recommend trying to win back your money from Refund Me If You Can.