Luto PS5 Hands-On Preview – Psychological Horror that Weighs on Your Mind

A good first impression. Luto has the makings of a stand-out horror game

Luto demo screenshot

Luto is a psychological horror game by developer Broken Bird Games. As I reported the other day, the game will be getting a public PS5 demo on November 30th. The developer and their PR team were kind enough to hook me up with early access to the demo so I could check Luto out and give my hands-on impressions.

I’m not a particularly huge fan of horror games, I’ll play the odd one now and again if it looks good but I would say it’s not my go-to genre. Mostly because I am a big scaredy cat, I mean, I won’t even watch a horror film at night. If I do want to watch a horror film, I’ll most likely watch it during the day.

I spent a few hours playing the Luto demo, the demo itself isn’t that long, once you have finished it the first time and know where to go and what to do you can run through it in about 40 minutes probably. Most of my first play-through was spent exploring the house you are in, getting my bearings and trying to piece together what all the scrawled writing, drawings and other things scattered about the house might mean.

Luto demo screenshot

The makings of a great narrative

Luto is billed as a narrative experience and from my time with the demo, which is called The Choice, there’s definitely a story to be pieced together. The house is littered with hanging chains, there are boxes strewn all over the place and there are the aforementioned scrawlings and scribblings. As I played the demo the whole setting and what the story could be weighed on my mind. Why are there chains? There is mention of a move into this house (hence the boxes) why did our protagonist move?

It was clear that our protagonist had suffered some kind of tragic event, that they were in despair and were trying to escape. But escape what? The house? The despair they were living with? We won’t know until we play the full game as the demo is spoiler-free and won’t ruin any major plot points of the main game.

Although the demo didn’t allude too much about what the overarching narrative could be, I couldn’t help but feel intrigued to find out more. From what I played in the demo Luto certainly has the makings of a game with a very interesting story.

Luto sounds like it will have the narrative horsepower to keep players interested but what about the gameplay?

Luto demo screenshot

Familiar Gameplay

Gameplay-wise, the demo was perfectly fine. It’s a first-person viewpoint and I never encountered any problems in moving around or exploring my surroundings.

The main gameplay of the demo seems to revolve around unlocking different parts of the house to progress. The puzzle element of the gameplay is mainly focused on finding and picking up certain items. You will have to find and pick up some drawings that will unlock more doors and passageways in the house. There are also a couple of important keys to find and a bit of a puzzle involving numbers. You piece it together by finding one of the drawings.

I quite liked the puzzle elements in the demo, particularly the one with the numbers. I don’t want to spoil too much of the demo but there is a phone you can interact with and ‘make a phone call.’ I thought this was quite a unique puzzle mechanic.

Luto demo screenshot

If you have played similar indie horror games you will probably be quite familiar with Luto’s gameplay. Exploration seems to be a key part of the gameplay loop, I found myself wanting to explore as much as possible. Although the demo is most likely a very small part of the game, the house looks like it could be quite large and maze-like in places. There is certainly plenty of ‘lore’ related stuff to see while exploring the demo and reiterates my first impression that Luto has the makings of a game with a strong and powerful narrative.

Luto demo screenshot

Is The Luto Demo Scary?

Whether you will find the demo scary or not probably depends on the individual. Personally, when I first started the game it didn’t seem that scary. But as I progressed I felt the dread filling up inside me.

Being a psychological horror game, I get the feeling that the developer probably won’t rely too much on jump scares to put fear into players. But there were certainly a couple of bits that made me jump.

Atmospherically, Luto is a dark game in most places in the demo. You do find a flashlight earlier on which is pretty much essential for a lot of areas you will explore in the demo. I liked the lighting of the game, even in more lit areas there was still a sense of fear and hesitation as I just didn’t know what to expect.

Broken Bird Games has done a good job with the sound design and the graphics to create an atmosphere that fills you with apprehension and probably a bit of fear as well. There are plenty of creaking floorboards and other creepy noises that add to the feeling of dread.

Luto demo screenshot

Final First Impressions

The goal of the demo I suppose is to give you a good first impression of the game. I think Broken Bird Games has succeeded with that part. As someone who is not a horror genre fan usually, I have to admit I quite liked the demo.

The demo is about choice and there is a choice to be made near the end, I am not sure if the whole choices and decisions aspect of the demo will be fleshed out in the final game but I am certainly eager to see more of Luto.

I think Luto will end up being a fine addition to the genre. Horror is a genre I have always felt was probably overcrowded, particularly with indie games. But Luto has the makings of being a stand-out game in an otherwise very populated genre.

Luto’s The Choice demo will be available on PS5 on November 30th.

Oh and just one little tip for the demo before I go. The default sensitivity is set really low, so you’ll probably want to turn that up a bit.