This might be a short one. Normally I spew out a load of hyperbolic nonsense and pithy exaggerations in the name of at least attempting to be vaguely entertaining when talking about something as ridiculous as video games, but this time I’ m not sure I can be bothered. After my six and a half hours with RE:Turn I came to resent almost everything about it and I don’t want to spend any more time on the bloody thing than necessary.
To be perfectly honest I wasn’t the best person to review a game like this. I don’t like most anime, I’m not a fan of horror any more due to being old and crap and I’m not one for visual novels (apart from the utterly exceptional Doki Doki Literature Club. If you haven’t played that do so, with knowing as little information going in as possible). But it fell in my lap and I played it through.
RE:Turn is a plot (I’d be hard pushed to call it a story) driven 2D horror adventure puzzle game with a kind of visual novel thing going on underneath. The problem with RE:Turn (aside from the awfully insipid, tropetacular title of the game which means nothing) is the horror isn’t very horrific, the story is nonsense, the anime stylings incredibly typical and the puzzles veer from obtuse to painfully obvious.
I’ve said it before but outside of a tiny amount of specific examples I don’t believe anyone sets out to make a bad game. And taking into consideration my own feelings towards the many components that make up this particular game I tried to give it a fair shake of the stick. The reason this review is so belated after the release of the game is because I had to work myself up to playing it because it isn’t the kind of thing I enjoy. We at MHG do this review thing for the fun and love of it, so we take on games we wouldn’t ordinarily as we’re using our own free gaming time to try and write something that someone, somewhere, hopefully will get enjoyment out of. So I’m not myopic enough to stick the boot into a game because it’s not ‘my kind of thing’. That’s disingenuous and the hallmark of a dickhead. I might be a dickhead but I’m not THAT dickhead.
Unfortunately RE:Turn is just a bad game. There are minor things like it resolutely refusing to recognise my Xbox One controller so I’m playing on the keyboard which wouldn’t be bad if it didn’t lead to making one section where you have to run away from something trial and error. The problem is if you don’t hit left at the precise moment you finish the dialogue you ain’t getting away. And holding the key down to run before you close the dialogue box doesn’t work because the game only recognises the key press if you do it AFTER you’ve closed it.
The game requires an obscene amount of to-ing and fro-ing in the limited locations. You’re repeatedly interacting with objects in rooms you’ve already looked at to obtain things that the puzzles require. The game doesn’t even give you a sprint button until halfway through the game, for crying out loud.
The narrative is loose and not particularly coherent. The characters are fine, if somewhat caricatured, and while there are definitely one or two story beats which are actually really good and put a nice spin on what is a very well trodden path, there’s also so fundamentally dumb stuff in here. I’m not the crunchiest cookie in the barrel, but even taking into account my knuckleheadedness I struggled to reconcile what was happening and why sometimes.
And it ends kind of abruptly. I was expecting some clarification on some of the plot threads, but it leaves a lot open, which would be fine if you could draw some conclusions that weren’t entirely guesswork. There’s a very real possibility the ending is not the only one you can get but I’m absolutely not going through the game again to find out. Bugger that for a game of soldiers.
Also puzzle solution items are just there without any context sometimes. For example late in the game you can’t get past some creature without it grabbing your leg, so (minor puzzle spoiler) you use a lead pipe you found outside to see if that works. It doesn’t. Ok, so then you find an intricately made wooden leg. Oh….kay? I’ll let it slide, it’s kind of set up in the narrative. Then, out of nowhere, you find a mannequin. Like a whole, full body mannequin. Which is on a train. For absolutely no reason.
The ultimate culmination of the game I met with a kind of despondent resentment. The beats in the story don’t really feel ‘sold’ to you. The drama is very, very flat. Games like this can live and die on their story. I can forgive mechanical dumbness, odd puzzle resolutions and strange bugs as long as something in the story is engaging me but there’s a very real disconnect with what the game is trying to tell you and what it’s actually telling you. I’m desperately sidestepping story spoilers because there’s a tiny chance someone reading this may have it on their Steam wishlist or something and may get around to playing it despite me flat out saying “It really isn’t very good.” so sorry for being vague. Like I said, I’m not THAT dickhead.
Like most games I find to be rubbish it’s a shame and disappointment due to the unrealised potential. The potential for a hybrid of this type; mixing a quite lovely pixel art aesthetic, horror, a story of loss and anger and love and some decent puzzling sounds like a treat, but ultimately it lives up to none of that potential, and that’s why I now resent this bloody game and the 6 hours it robbed me of.
So much for this review being a short one.