Having young adults sitting around a campfire telling ghost stories is a surefire way to let your audience know something is about to go horribly wrong for them. It’s no different for the group of friends in Red Ego Game’s new title Re:Turn – One Way Trip. In the opening scene, the player is introduced to a group of five on a post-graduation camping trip before they all go their separate ways into adulthood.
The group consists of two couples; Saki and Sen who are engaged, Kanae and Kazuki, and their friend Yuuta. It seems like there’s already cracks forming in the group as the couples bicker and the friends discuss their fears of how their relationships will change when they move away. It seems like a recipe for disaster from the get go.
Re:Turn pulls heavily from a mix of game genres. It’s a 2D side scroller, puzzle, horror, visual novel experience, which rightly begs the question if it’s possible to do all that and do it well. Surprisingly, the answer here is yes. The developers have cherry picked the best parts of these genres and crafted something that’s a fun, creepy experience, full of coming of age stories, edge of your seat moments, and one jump scare in particular that really frightened me.
It’s also a game that gets better as you play, as the first five minutes feel a bit awkward. The dialogue between the characters sounds as though it was written by an adult with only a vague sense of how ‘cool kids’ speak. As well as the guys throwing the word ‘babe’ at the end of everything they say to their girlfriends, there’s some weird sexist remarks which seem to be there for the girls to tell them off for, but feel unnecessary to have been included at all. Worst of all, is one character seeming to out another as gay. The character’s sexuality wasn’t confirmed in the demo, but the argument where he was potentially outed seems to have had horrible consequences for him.
After this, the gang tries to get some sleep, and the game actually kicks off. The bulk of the action is a 2D side scroller through engaging, pixel art environments. When Saki wakes in the night to find the rest of her friends have disappeared, she obviously she sets off in the dark to find them. She soon comes across an old, abandoned train. When she climbs inside, so begins a creepy, time-bending journey to finding her friends – and what happened to the people on the train many years ago.
Considering how much this game tries to do, it’s impressive that it never feels over complicated. Most of the game involves finding items that will help you move onto the next section – keys, clues, or objects lost by other characters. It involves a fair amount of going back and forth, but it never feels boring or unwarranted, and it’s always satisfying to have that eureka moment after being stuck for a few minutes.
Something that particularly shines in the game is the sound design. The developers have done a great job at filling the game with lots of appropriately creepy, tension building music and sounds. From manic laughs to melancholic music to unexpected knocks, it all works together perfectly to create those spine tingling moments that have you waiting for the jump scare to come. Coupled with lots of other horror favourites – dolls, masks, severed hands, and huge lunging monsters coming after you, it makes for a great gaming experience and ode to the horror genre.
The demo provided unfortunately ended on a cliffhanger, which was a smart move as I can’t wait to get my hands on the full game and find out what happens to Saki and her friends. In the last few minutes of what I did get to play, Saki and Kanae are reunited and there’s some touching character moments that are a huge improvement from the start of the game.
This is a game that’s going to appeal to a few different groups, if you like horror, anime, visual novels, or neat little puzzles, I would recommend giving Re:Turn – One Way Trip a go! It looks like it be released on Steam in October, so there’s not long to go before the full game can be experienced, and I can find out what happened after that frustrating cliffhanger.
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