It’s the late shift. Next to no traffic. Barely a creature is stirring. You want to get through the night and make it home safely. And then, before you know what’s happening, an eldritch abomination comes knocking at your door for you to let it in.
Just another night in the titular Security Booth.
Solo developed by Kyle Horwood, Security Booth garnered considerable attention with its free demo. Now the Director’s Cut dares to ask, “Can you get over three hours of scares out of a single gimmick?” The answer, surprisingly, is yes! That is if you have the patience to see it all.
I Want To Believe!
Security Booth’s appeal is in how variable everything is. Seven different outcomes can vary wildly. Purely by how well you do your job, you might open a portal to another dimension or bring about the end of existence. No pressure! All of this hinges on your ability to check for corresponding license plates and avoid invoking the wrath of a mysterious pair of entities fixated on your booth.
What’s remarkable about Security Booth is the pacing. This doesn’t feel like a rushed production. There are many different cars with unique dialogue for each driver trying to get in. License plates are just as randomized, ensuring no two runs go the same. Yet, in general, it takes between ten to twenty minutes to finish a normal playthrough. In that time, you’re encouraged to try different actions to result in unique outcomes. Some are definitely more esoteric than others.
It’s All Coming Together…
Over time, you’ll slowly chip away at the contextual clues and handy documents strewn about. While the astral entities haunting you are malevolent in appearance, it’s possible to help them if you feel so inclined. For how limited the gameplay is – pressing in-game buttons and walking around slowly – the amount of surprising wrinkles is great! There’s just one problem. You see, Security Booth is in absolutely no hurry to up the tempo if you’re trying to find all the endings. It can be downright infuriating trying to fit the criteria for a few.
Now you might think, “well, even games like Five Nights at Freddy’s are obtuse about secrets,” and you be right. Yet many of Security Booth’s horror contemporaries also offer a great deal more variation in the threats thrown at you. While several outcomes can occur, it’s just as possible to be sitting there idly for minutes at a time to reach the next branch. A lack of a save system really gets in the way of exploring things effectively. While it might be atmospheric the first few times, eventually, you’re just trying to get the bonus tapes to uncover other secrets.
Into the Security Booth-verse!
That’s something else to keep in mind – if you want to learn more about Nova Nexus’ research, you must find the bonus tapes. The other theoretical route into the building to learn what’s going on leads to an intensely frustrating joke ending. It’s tonally inconsistent and undercuts your desire to dig further. Yet, for those who persist, the bonus tapes are engaging micro-fiction in their own right.
If anything, I’d have preferred endings unlocked more side stories like these rather than the odd, different concluding cinematic cutscene. There’s so much potential in Nova Nexus. It’s like SCP and Control combined, with an 80’s retro aesthetic brimming with potential. The sound design is equally excellent, accompanied by great vocals by the limited cast of characters. While not every question needs to be answered, I’d be lying if I said Horwood doesn’t leave too much unexplored.
At the end of the day, whether or not you’ll get the most out of Security Booth is how much you value a good mystery over repeatedly checking license plates while sitting in a booth. It’s not as complex as Papers Please nor as unpredictable as The Stanley Parable. It sits in the sweet spot of existential dread with supernatural framing of a literal dead-end job. If that sounds like your kind of horror game, Security Booth: Director’s Cut is live on Steam now.