Horror games come in all forms. Some games are down right scary with tons of jump scares, but some are more subtle and less in your face. The fear factor is implied, but nonetheless ever present. Re:Turn – One Way Trip is one such game. It is a 2D side-scrolling horror game that blends different genres. When playing you will be sure to recognize features of point & click, visual novels and adventure games. The game was developed by Red Ego Games, and is published by Green Man Gaming Publishing.
Our protagonist is Saki, a young girl who has just graduated. She wants to have one last get together with her friends before entering the work force. Saki and four of her friends leave on a camping trip. There is an uncanny feeling in these woods. Something strange is going on but she does not quite know what it is. On the first night, a fight breaks out and one friend decides to leave. Collectively they decide that it is better to go to bed and cool things down. They are hoping that everything goes back to normal by morning. When Saki wakes up in the middle of the night everyone has mysteriously disappeared, and the camp is deserted. She goes looking for them. During her search, she comes across a dilapidated train. If she wants to see her friends again, then she has to go in. She will have to gather her courage and go exploring this sinister looking train. There is something not quite right about this place. There is an uncanny atmosphere.
The story is a compelling one. The developers created an atmosphere of expectation. Re:Turn – One Way Trip manages to keep you on your toes throughout. The writing is skillful. While the story is not unique, it is a well carved narrative that keeps you interested till the end. The premise of the game is the exploration of the train and solving the disappearance of Saki’s friends. The gameplay is straight forward. You walk around in a 2D setting. There is no complicated map, you simply walk left and right. There are different items to collect during the game. Some of them are collectible items that will assist in recounting the story. You will also be amassing items that will be added to your inventory, they will be used to solve the different puzzles. Unlike some other games, you cannot combine items in your inventory. The game is simple and the puzzles are used as a way to convey the story. They are challenging but not overly complicated.
The mechanics that gives Re:Turn its uniqueness is the utilization of time through past and present “zone”. Not long after entering the train, Saki somehow finds herself transported into the past, during the World War II era. Once there, she is almost like a ghost. Most characters cannot see her or hear her. For some mysterious reason, only specific characters can see or hear Saki. The game goes from past to present with ease. You will have to solve the mystery of the past if you want to leave this trip with all of your friends.
The artwork features fully hand-drawn pixel-art. The developers have made an expert use of colors to create detailed and gorgeously intricate backgrounds. They have succeeded at creating a beautiful and chilling environment. It is honestly one of the best artworks I have seen for this type of game. In addition to that, during the dialogues there are anime styled avatars and the rare cut scenes are of the same anime style. It is an interesting mix of artwork and it works well. The result is visually striking. It is fascinating how they created a visual distinction between past and present. When Saki is in the past, the colors are vibrant and bright. Everything looks new. When she is in the present her surroundings are dilapidated and the atmosphere is eerie. The colors are dark and dull. Those features create two distinct experiences and give the player a real impression of being in a completely different place.
There are some negative aspects like for example the save point. There is essentially only one save point in the whole game. That ends up being in the same place in the past and in the present. This means that you cannot save until you reach the first chapter where you reach the train. While the train is not that long, it is still tiresome to have to walk there every time you need to save. To make matters worse, Saki walks at a very slow pace. You can eventually run but it has to be unlocked first. I find that to be a very strange choice especially for a horror game. It is not so bad the first time you walk through the train, but you undoubtedly have to walk back and forth to collect items in order to solve the puzzles. After walking for the umpteenth time, having to wait for Saki to reach the end of the screen gets exasperating. If the developer wanted to stick with manual saving I would have liked to at least have two different save points.
The game is not overly long, but with about 6 hours of content there is enough substance to be worth the low asking price. Re:Turn – One Way Trip is a fun game that can be played in an evening. The developers have blended the graphics, music and a great story to create a truly chilling experience with a compelling narrative. It is a delightful game with endearing characters and a focus on the story. Despite its simplicity, Re:Turn – One Way Trip will stay with you for a long time after you have played it.
Written by Vee