Source: Review Copy
Where To Get It: Steam
Content warnings: Depictions of suicide, some gore, body horror, jumpscares.
Horror is pretty hard to do. Especially if you don’t actually have a losing state, per se. And Re:Turn definitely does the horror well storywise. Mechanically… It’s a little stuck in the past.
But does that make it bad? Nah. It just makes it… Irritating at times. And makes it feel padded.
In any case, return is a sidescrolling horror adventure game, in which Saki, a girl who went on a camping trip with her friends, accidentally triggers her friends running to find a member of the group who ran away… And finding themselves trapped on a ghost train. With a murderous spirit. It’s pretty simple to control, arrow keys, E to move on dialogue and use things, F for flashlight, and I for inventory. It’s got good music, it’s got solid pixel visuals mixed with some painted portraits, it has only one segment that’s not that visually clear to the colourblind (the two ball maze puzzles), and the story… Well, suffice to say, there are implication type spoilers ahoy.
So, since I want to leave talking about the story to the end, let’s talk about how it’s a little backwards, in terms of design. The game has some nonsensical puzzle locks (although there is a potential reason for that), and there is a lot of backtracking, with running only unlocked somewhere around the midpoint of the game. Despite the items needed for a puzzle being mostly clear, it is still required to hit up the inventory and use items, even when, contextually speaking, the use key alone could have been used (most especially in some of the game’s fetching puzzles.) As such, some of this (by no means all, or even over half) feels padded, and this is… Not so great.
There are several antagonists in this game, one of whom is pretty obvious from early on if you’re genre aware, one of whom is a dupe (and the worst dupe I’ve seen in a long time, in terms of how unaware and horrible they turn out to be, not in terms of dupe quality, as it were), and one of them is being used by the primary antagonist. Characters come, characters go, but they stick around long enough, with one exception, to make their motivations and characters clear enough, before, for one reason or another, they are off staged. Or just offed, y’know… And while its ending feels a little ambiguous, I couldn’t really see a better stopping point. Everything has been revealed. Those who lived, lived. And it is not a happy ending, albeit for different reasons to different characters.
I felt the story was solid, as a result. Still, my conclusion?
I really feel like this one’s not a great intro to horror games, despite the lack of a fail state, due to the elements that were padded. It’s shortish, but, as per usual, I don’t hold that against it, because it definitely does what it wants to do storywise. But I would say it’s either for people who have a tolerance of ye older style of heavy backtracking and some puzzles that feel a little nonsensical in context… Y’know, the hands of the clock reveal a thing, but the clock hand is hidden somewhere, and there’s also this mini-safe that’s locked by, of all things, a ball maze… Or for horror fans who want something a little different, horror wise. As noted by the cw’s, those who don’t like jumpscares (because there’s quite a few) will definitely want to avoid.
And there’s really not much I can say beyond that, except: You know which character you are… You are an irredeemable asshole, even if, to your very end, you seem clueless as to why. Fuck you, you piece of shit.
The Mad Welshman would like to remind you that there are certain obvious things you should not trust. Yes, you want to rescue your friends, but there are certain things you should not trust to do that…