Two years ago, I played a game called Evan’s Remains for my former place of employment. An emotionally evocative story brought down by its rather straightforward gameplay loop, I decided to keep tabs on its developer to see what more they could create. It did not take long for them to announce that work on their next title had begun. Now, in mid-2022, their next game in Re:Call was given a demo for Steam Next Fest. Ended up being quite a time.
Quick structure disclaimer: Given this (and all the others) is only a demo, I won’t be too in-depth with my coverage, and will only reflect on the good and the bad. No overly long personal history or filibuster. No nonsense. That said, I will provide a synopsis for the game below.
“Memories are malleable and changing them will modify the present. Tackle mind-bending puzzles that rely on altering your own recollections to shape the future.“
The concept, at least in the snippet of content provided in the demo, is really neat. A puzzle game that changes the present based on one’s behavior in flashbacks (or past). Oh, how much potential there is in what could (and couldn’t?) be possible with as mind-bending a premise. By the time it ended, the saliva dripping from my mouth, desiring more, was fairly potent!
One is dropped into the story straightaway, requiring them to figure out the circumstances of a plot lacking context. The demo’s entirety is rife with trial and error, with choices mattering to the progression of both timelines. Make one wrong move in the past, your present won’t last. For the sake of a puzzle game of this nature, clearly narrative-heavy at its core, this is a great way to hook players immediately.
A healthy amount of experimentation makes each attempt in the past fulfilling if only because everything seems logical. They may be the answer, they may not. At least in the demo, choices are not too plentiful and the area covered isn’t too vast, meaning one can fail and retry in a matter of minutes. Even if one path isn’t entirely correct, it lays the foundation for the correct path along the way. Attention to detail will ensure players will get ahead eventually.
Seeing the path slowly open is intensely satisfying, with each run enlarging clarity and the good choices you’ve made until all is as it should. Seeing those in the present try and make sense of the suddenly changing environment and details is also a fun touch, fully committing to how nonsensical it is. Should it continue to keep a good balance of playing the plot straight and acknowledging its absurdity, it should make for a similarly effective story as the developer’s last game.
Honestly, not much! At least for the purposes of a twenty-minute demo (more or less). I suppose if there is any detriment I could attribute to it, it’s almost entirely hypothetical.
One minor complaint I have involves cutscenes that occur while replaying runs. Various scenarios will still play out depending on your choices and actions, causing a wee bit of unnecessary time added when you may just want to get a move on. To the developer’s credit, they cut out all the dialogue that plays the first time these scenes happen, but not all of the actions. While I did not test if spamming buttons brought up a “skip scene” trigger, having the option would be nice if not.
Of the almost-twenty demos I played for Next Fest, Re:Call ended up being a surprise favorite. (Not to discredit the quality of development put into this.) The premise of time-based puzzles that bend the plot ended up being really well formulated and satisfying. We’ll have to see if the overall narrative will continue the pace of good tidings set by such an addictive gameplay loop.
Re:Call has a demo you can play now on Steam. (Link under “Game Summary.”)
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Thank you for your time. Have a great timezone.