Back-up of my review for the unfinished version of Re:Turn - One Way Trip
This is an unfinished game. As such, this will not be a full review. Things can and most certainly will change.
Re:Turn - One Way Trip is 2D side-scrolling puzzle-adventure horror game, currently being developed by Red Ego Games and published by Green Man Gaming Publishing, set for an October 14th release date. You assume the role of Saki, a recent college graduate on a camping trip with her fiancé and friends. What initially starts as a fun vacation before the pressures of adult life begin soon takes a frightening turn. After stumbling across a haiku written for her and having mistakenly believed it to be the work of Sen, her fiancé, a large argument erupts, causing one of her friends to flee the accusations. After the others decide to turn in and give him some space, Saki awakens in the middle of the night with no fire and completely alone. Saki begins to search for her friends and stumbles across an old, derelict train. With no where else to go and no one to be found, Saki boards the train.
Re:Turn's story is broken into chapters, with the first five being playable. It has the typical horror set up and a spooky location. David Bergantino, who has worked previously with Clive Barker and Wes Craven, is the stories writer and so far, it is pretty satisfying, though I wouldn't say horrifying. It's more of creeping type of horror, building tension and anticipation for what comes next. Given the short size of what was available to play, it only really covers the set-up to that story to come. One thing I was not expecting is the story is spread across to points in time; Saki and her friends in modern times and passengers on the same train, during presumably WWII. The events in the past seem to have some sort of relation to what is currently happening, but I couldn't say what. It was a nice little twist and really helped to make the narrative that much more enjoyable.
Gameplay is simple and straight forward from the bit I was able to play. You move left and right, can search and investigate objects with a magnifying glass icon. You have a basic inventory which is how you use anything you may have picked up and of course a flashlight. There were a few puzzles as well and those were quite enjoyable, with some giving off a Silent Hill vibe. But, for the most part, Re:Turn's gameplay was very much "go to this spot, story stuff and get an item, go do this now" and repeat. There wasn't anything beyond that, but I can imagine with the brief appearance of a shadow/blob monster, there will be some chase elements and hopefully more use of the flashlight beyond just providing light.
The artwork in Re:Turn - One Way Trip is pretty good. The character portraits are done well but some of them look pretty generic. During certain points, the game cuts to some art that more adequately captures the moment and were also enjoyable. I think my favorite was the pixel art for the forest and train areas. The detail in the backgrounds of the forest and on the train, accompanied by some dim lighting, really draws your eye and helps to enforce the whole spook aspect of the game. Which is good thing, cause while the spritework is great, it doesn't help make the game more frightening, at least from what I played. The soundtrack is pretty minimal, opting for silence and sound effects in the present and a jaunty tune in the past. Honestly, I had hardly even noticed it.
As Re:Turn - One Way Trip stands right now, it offered a pretty polished experience, although it did have a couple minor issues, both being character portrait related. The first was during one puzzle where Saki must look at her reflection, it would show her face but there were was a gap all the way around each of her eyes, which would be blinking. The other was in the latter chapters I played, being not displaying the appropriate character portrait and name. From the dialogue you could gather who was speaking but it certainly is distracting and pulled me out of the story a bit. These are easily fixable and I anticipate they certainly will be come release day.
End of the Line
From what little I was able to play, my interest in Re:Turn - One Way Trip is piqued. The set up and the abandoned train setting, with a past and present aspect thrown in as well, makes for a pretty unique horror story. It's not terrifying, relying more on tone and setting, being more on the creepy side of things. The story and dialogue is well written and I loved the pixel art for the train and forest. But, as I said, it's still under development so things could and are likely to change upon release. Everything in melds together pretty well and shows a lot of promise. I'm looking forward to October, not just for all the horror movies coming out, but to finish the story I've started here. There is currently a demo available for download on Steam as well, should you feel this warrants a look at.
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