Developer: Painted Black Games & Ratalaika Games
Publisher: Merge Games
Platform: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Category: Action, Adventure & Other
Release Date: 15th of March, 2018 (EU & NA)
Do you have what it takes to play this disturbing and horrific adventure? Only one way to find out!
When playing a horror title, usually you expect there to be many jump scares without much in the way of a story. This isn’t a problem in and of itself, but I always long for the more psychological brand of horror. Thankfully, The Long Reach, by developer Painted Black Games, features an intriguing story using a pixel-art style and is filled with shock thrills and horror elements. It’s the type of game that will make you question your reality and perception as you navigate through this mysterious thriller on the Nintendo Switch.
The Long Reach has an adventure thriller narrative that takes place in a fictional town in New Hampshire. It’s a story that’s driven by mystery and to spoil the story would be detrimental to the game, so I will avoid any major spoilers in this review. In The Long Reach you play as Calvin, a young man who has had a lot to think about lately in terms of his life. He’s about to marry his fiancé Shelly who is constantly nagging at him to be more mature. One day Shelly asks him to simply go get the groceries while she’s at work and to not waste any money on the food items he loves so much.
From Calvin’s perspective, we see he is battling an internal struggle of wanting to break up with Shelly, but he doesn’t have the courage to actually go through with it. This trip to the grocery store though will change his life forever as a series of mysterious events come about from it. The Long Reach’s story is confusing at first, but as you start to understand certain sections, you will become equally disturbed by the time the credits roll. There’s plenty of discovery to be had here and the narrative that unravels from it is quite the adventure. Even if achieving the two endings took only about four hours. Ultimately, it’s an exciting story that plays to the strengths of this type of title.
The Long Reach is a traditional side-scrolling adventure title. You’ll constantly find yourself exploring sectioned off areas that are slowly revealed as you complete certain story sections. Progressing is done by completing puzzles either regarding NPC characters or parts of the environment. The remainder of the title is largely conversations with NPC characters that help solidify the personality of certain characters, while also increasing my motivation to care about them.
While playing The Long Reach, you’ll come across multiple scenarios where you’ll have conversations with other characters. The dialogue is then displayed in text giving the player multiple options for responding. What I found as clever in this delivery was while the game will give you a straight-forward answer to select, it will always give you a witty option as well. The difference could be anything from “What is going on”, to “Just tell me you bastard!” and it as always interesting to see how other NPC’s would react to these conversations. This will also help you determine the type of character you make the protagonist become through conversation methods.
As for the puzzles and general gameplay are concerned, you’ll find that The Long Reach takes on many similarities to classic point-and-click adventures of the past. If you’ve ever played Lone Survivor or The Cave for instance, you’ll notice a few parallels between them and this title, although The Long Reach manages to find it’s own unique inspiration.
Throughout your playthrough, you’ll have to solve puzzles in bizarre ways that aren’t readily made apparent and that definitely lends to some of the challenges that come with The Long Reach. For example, the way you fix an elevator panel in the opening section is very unconventional, to say the least. The puzzles never became too frustrating for me to solve and the only way I became stuck trying to solve one was when I had to figure out the order in completing them. Much like point-and-click games of the past, it’s mostly just about finding the correct different items that you can use in the environment, which become highlighted when you’re near them. Then you just have to figure out how to use the specific item or find a key in order to unlock a door.
The visuals in The Long Reach consist of pixel-art, which is usually not associated with the horror genre. Not only is this a well-detailed game, but it also has a shock factor that presents itself very well in the story, as you aren’t necessarily expecting the jumps because of how safe the title looks. Outside of tricking your senses though, The Long Reach is a beautiful looking game that merges classic pixel-art with clever lighting effects that breathes life into the simplistic art aesthetic. Things in the background (for example computers) illuminate and glow that set the tone for the environment. Also, the animations for the computers and different machines in the background help bring out the life in the visuals.
Occasionally however, I noticed that when I would present a plot specific item to a character or something in the environment the graphics would pause or stutter. I believe this was because the game was registering the correct input and would act as a loading time of some sort. It wasn’t a big deal, but it could take you out of the experience. Also, the load times were borderline ridiculous occasionally when first loading up the story, but this was also totally random.
The thrills and scares of The Long Reach could only be successful with a hair-raising soundtrack, and thankfully it achieves this task. While exploring areas, the background music would come into play and give me a feeling of uneasiness as I explored the dark corners of the environment. There was always a feeling that something could just pop up out of nowhere while I’m solving a puzzle and this element elevated the story. There were also times where the music continued to be suspenseful despite nothing dangerous being in the area and this could sometimes feel cheap, but it wasn’t prominent enough to hurt the tone and music altogether.
Overall, The Long Reach is an enchanting title that takes you on a mysterious and horror-inducing adventure. You’ll have many questions when diving in and you’ll also have questions after finishing it. The gameplay may seem somewhat familiar due to it taking elements from other adventure titles, but I felt the story and execution were worthwhile and featured enough originality to recommend for fellow horror enthusiasts. The Long Reach presents a unique horror premise, while also providing some familiarity to the faint of heart.
The Verdict: 7/10
*Review Key Provided by Merge Games
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