Having been permanently scarred by 2002’s “The Thing“, horror games aren’t usually my forte, so when I launched Re:Turn, I wasn’t sure at all what to expect. Surely a 2D side scroller can’t be that scary, right? I’m sure we can all see where this is going.
A peaceful yet eerie campsite comes into view as the scene sets on the start of the game. Control is quickly handed to the player, and as you begin to search the forest, you start to appreciate its art style, atmosphere and audio design. Despite there being no signs of danger, the occasional noise in the seemingly empty forest is enough to put you on edge.
This loneliness is soon fractured, as you come across the ominous train.
Silence engulfs you upon entering the train, deafening the ominous sounds of the forest surrounding it. The more you explore the train, the more you realise that something is not quite right.
It is here that you are introduced to one of the many puzzles you will be solving. These range from adventure like fetch quests to more traditional puzzles. These are approchable in the beginning but gradually become more intricate towards the end.
Slightly further into Re:Turn the player is thrust into the train’s past, where the music becomes peaceful and aged, and the lights become soft and welcoming. However, throughout this, there is always a sense of unease as if the past is somehow foreshadowing some dark event.
It’s especially interesting to revisit areas in the past that you have already come across in the present. It gives you an opportunity to see the train in its glory days, full of vibrance and spleandour. This stark contrast with the more derelict present, further makes you appreciate the care taken with the art direction.
These time-jumps are also a pleasant break from the doom and gloom of the present, providing an interesting progression to the story. Sometimes Saki herself visits the past, unable to interact directly with the occupants but still able to listen and solve some puzzles, and at other times Saki is thrust into the shoes of the occupants themselves, such as Eiji – A young musician whose father owns the train.
Overall, the experience is really delightful. The music and visuals really tied together to create a fantastic atmosphere that really conveyed the feelings of anticipation and unease. The puzzles were creative, fun and satisfying to solve, with only a few feeling tedious.
The control scheme was also fairly simple, mostly favouring the left side of your keyboard with ‘F’ for flashlight and ‘Spacebar’ for interaction. It would have been easily playable with one hand if it wasn’t for the inventory system being tied to the typical ‘I’ button.
Still, this game is a satisfying package filled with rewarding puzzles, a great atmosphere and a really intriguing storyline that keeps you hooked for the duration of the game.
If you are interested, Re:Turn One Way Trip is currently 10% off at Steam (£8.99/$10.99) until the 21st of October, making it a cheaper and recommended addition to your library.