Amanda The Adventurer Review

Amanda the Adventurer is a new short horror game published by DreadXP, but can MANGLEDmaw Games keep to the standard we've come to expect from this publisher? Read our review to find out.

Published: April 25, 2023 1:25 PM /

Reviewed By:

artwork depicting a logo for a tv show called Amanda the Adventurer with brightly colored bubble letters as the font in the cntre, with CRT-scanlines across the background. At the top of the title a cartoon of a little girl is waving at the viewer next to a cartoon sheep.

Analog Horror is a topic that has been on my mind a lot lately. It’s something of a new genre, at least new in movie terms if not internet terms. There’s something interesting about taking elements that were common in media from my childhood, then using them as a set of codes and tropes of a new genre. In case it’s not already clear, Amanda the Adventurer is an analog horror game, or at least it has elements of one. It’s a first-person adventure game from the folks at Dread XP, but can it measure up to the relatively top-notch work we’ve come to expect from the publisher?

What is Amanda the Adventurer

Game screenshot showing a CRT TV screen with a CGI TV show playing on it. The show features two CGI characters, one little girl, one anthropmorphic sheep, and the little girl is holding a knife. The subtitles read: "Wooly: That doesn't seem safe!"
Come on Wooly lad, you'll have to get used to worrying about your safety in this game. 

As I stated above, Amanda the Adventurer is a First-Person Horror game from the people over at Dread XP, famous for the Dread X Collection series and publishing various other horror titles. This time development duties have been handled by MANGLEDmaw Games, a new developer based out of Ontario, Canada. The game follows the story of Riley, who is tasked with visiting her late Aunt’s attic after she sends a mysterious letter. Upon arrival, Riley finds a bunch of VHS tapes of a show called Amanda the Adventurer and starts to watch the taps unraveling the mystery behind Aunt Kate’s disappearance and the weird stuff they keep seeing on the tapes.

Most of the analog horror elements in the game come from the VHS tapes you have to watch as part of the main gameplay, and it’s actually a pretty great way to do it too. I discussed in my recent deep-dive into Analog Horror Indie Games how easy it is to misuse analog elements, especially if they’re being used in a way that doesn’t make sense in-universe and is liable to leave the player feeling a lack of immersion. So, having the gameplay built around literally watching VHS tapes allows the game to use all of the creepy VHS effects and glitches they want, and yet it still makes sense because you’re literally watching actual VHS tapes. Smashing stuff.

Clicking on VHS Tapes with Amanda the Adventurer

Game screenshot showing a dark attic with a table in the centre. On the table sits a turquoise miniature piano. Around the table there are several shelves and piles of boxes hidden under and around dustcloths.
While the attic is by no means large, you really do have to get into every corner and crevice to discover everything. 

Aside from the watching of tapes, your controls are pretty simple in Amanda the Adventurer. You can move around with WASD, click on things to interact/pick them up (depending on the item,) and click Left Ctrl to crouch, and that’s pretty much it. Using these simple controls, you explore the relatively small attic space of Aunt Kate’s attic, watching tapes for clues as to what has happened, as well as digging around the detritus in the attic to figure out what happened to your Aunt, what is going on with the creepy stuff in the attic, and what’s wrong with the little girl who is the main star of the show. 

Usually, you’re interacting with objects by basically trying to mash them together. On your first run through the game, you’re basically following a set of simple instructions for the most part. You watch a VHS tape, then use some clue to interact with the object that a mysterious force has placed on the table behind you. This will, normally, spawn another VHS tape for you to play. You keep doing this until you reach the end of the game, which probably won’t take you longer than maybe 30 minutes, but only an idiot would actually stop there, of course. 

Repetition is the Mother of…Something I’m Sure

game screenshot showing a CRT screen with two CGI character on it. One is a little girl and the other is an anthropomorphic sheep. The sheep looks woozy, and the subtitles read "Wooly: Amanda... I feel...uhh..."
Oh, I'm sure this isn't about to go somewhere deeply traumatizing for everyone involved. 

It’s only on subsequent playthroughs that the game really starts to come alive. If you explore the attic carefully and watch the tapes like a hawk, you’ll notice some clues about other paths you can take. Some of these paths are incredibly well hidden, and some of them are a fair bit more obvious, but in almost all cases, you can’t actually take these paths until you’ve already beaten the game once. At that stage, you’re given the missing elements to complete hunting for the story, and at this point that Amanda the Adventurer opens up, oddly, by giving the player a pause button, of all things. 

I found having access to the pause button was essential to the game. As I discovered something in the background of a VHS tape that I hadn’t spotted before, being about to pause the tape and test it out was a godsend. Considering how easy the main puzzles are in the game, I was honestly expecting to mostly breeze through the game and collect all of the endings with no issue. I have to admit, I was challenged a few times by these puzzles, mostly because the game is very clever about how you solve most of them. Rather than “use thing on thing,” how and when you interact with objects can actually completely change the paths open to you. Even something as simple as pausing the VHS tape at the right moment can be the way forward, and lateral thinking isn’t always that common in puzzles. 

Graphics and Sound

Game Screenshow showing a CRT screen with CGI characters on it. In the background several shelves have eyes, while a little girl fills the centre of the screen with a downcast face and a dark filter over everything. The subtitles read: "Amanda: Something bad happened."
Yes, something bad did happen. 

Graphically, Amanda the Adventurer isn’t top-notch by any means, but then again, it’s not supposed to be. It seems clear to me that this game is both using the setting and narrative to its advantage, as well as relying on it as a bit of a crutch at times. Graphically, a lot of the animated sections with Amanda look bad, but they’re supposed to. This is intended to be representative of early-to-mid 90s CGI, which was, at best, utterly terrifying. Of course, this defense only really works with the VHS tapes, and the attic itself is about as average as it’s possible for modern indie gaming graphics to be. 

All of that said, the sound does an above-average job in most cases. SFX has been applied in a more restrained way than most indie-game creators tend to aim for. The VHS loading noises are spot-on, the glitches thrown in can be really jarring, and above all else, both Amanda and her friend Wooly have the perfect voices for their characters, and when they start “going horror mode,” it can really shock you. That aside, you’re probably going to have to go into this one really trying to be scared because it’s not that spooky, just slightly creepy, and with a good atmosphere and puzzles. 

The Verdict

So, how does Amanda the Adventurer hold up? Much better than I thought it was going to hold up. This is an incredibly short experience, with even thorough exploration only really taking a couple of hours, but it’s just the right size for what it is. I found plenty of atmospheric moments and had a lot of enjoyment trying to figure out the puzzles. On the other hand, I also did find one or two of those puzzles a little frustrating, and it’s certainly true that anyone who can’t resist googling answers is going to find this experience shallow. On the whole, this is a great time for fans of the genre looking for an excellent micro-horror experience, and I, for one, can’t wait to see where MANDLEDmaw go next, especially if they stick with analog horror in the near future. 

Amanda The Adventurer was reviewed on PC with a copy provided by the Publisher over the course of 2 hours of gameplay - all screenshots were taken during the process of review.

Review Summary

Amanda the Adventurer will not please everyone, but it's a very niche experience. Hardcore horror fans who want a shorter experience and analog horror elements will have found their perfect title. (Review Policy)


  • Great use of lateral thinking with puzzles
  • Excellent (and restrained) use of VHS/Analog Horror effects
  • Sound design is excellent
  • Efficient use of a small map


  • Never really gets that scary.
  • Some of the puzzles can be frustrating

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| Staff Writer

Will has been writing about video games professionally since 2016 and has covered everything from AAA game reviews to industry events and everything in… More about William