Review – Re:Turn – One Way Trip
Many of you probably know by now that I’m a huge fan or horror games. I’ve played dozens in the past few years, ranging from the excellent remake of Resident Evil 2 to the migraine inducing What Happened. They come in all shapes and sizes, but I have to admit that I don’t think I’ve ever played a pixelated horror game before. You simply don’t see them often. So when I came across Re:Turn – One Way Trip, I was too intrigued to let it pass by. The question is, was it a trip worth taking?
Re:Turn – One Way Trip starts off with five college friends taking a camping trip after their graduation. Before long, a fight breaks out and they turn in for the night. Our protagonist, Saki, wakes in the middle of the night to find the campsite deserted. She immediately goes in search for her friends and comes across an old, abandoned train. Seeing a shadow of what might be one of her friends inside, she begrudgingly enters it. She immediately discovers that there’s more to this train than meets the eye.
There’s more to Re:Turn – One Way Trip than just your typical trope of “young girl has to investigate something spooky by herself”, though. That’s just the initial premise and naturally what drives her forward. However, there’s a lot more to this game than I was expecting. For a number of reasons, actually.
After a short while, Saki faints and when she comes to, she finds herself on the same train, but in the past. She can’t interact with anyone, except for a young girl who can see ghosts and other sorts of inter-dimensional beings. The girl agrees to help her when she can, but most of the legwork is up to Saki. While searching for her friends and a means to get back to her time, she ends up learning about the inhabitants of the train. Saki ends up bouncing back and forth between her time and the past, and realizes that she’ll have to get to the bottom the train’s tragic origins if she’ll have any hope of saving anyone.
I was genuinely shocked by how compelling the narrative was. Each of the characters you meet have their own little hardships and are fleshed out surprisingly well. Throughout her journey, Saki not only learns about the passengers of the ill fated train, but also has some revelations about her group of friends. Re:Turn – One Way Trip is an expertly woven tale about self-discovery, tragedy, honesty, love, and loss. I was hooked the entire time.
The gameplay in Re:Turn – One Way Trip is a little all over the place. That is to say that it borrows from several different gameplay styles and genres. It’s a 2D side-scrolling, point-and-click, adventure, puzzle game, with some mild visual novel aspects thrown in. Normally I’d say that having this many different gameplay elements would convolute the game and end up detracting from it, as was the case in Someday You’ll Return. However, Red Ego Games found a way to make it work.
I really enjoyed the puzzles throughout the game, even if they were all on the easy side. Some of them were really clever and made you thoroughly consider all the clues given to decipher their meaning. None of them stumped for more than maybe a minute or two, but they were still a lot of fun. There is a huge variety of puzzles in here too. Re:Turn – One Way Trip didn’t reuse the same two or three gimmicks over and over, which is a breath of fresh air for games these days.
Plus, most of the puzzles actually felt like they belonged in the game, instead of being shoe-horned in with flimsy premise. There were a couple that did feel a little tacked on in a clunky way, but for the most part they felt organic to the story. My biggest gripe was with one puzzle toward the end where you need to regularly consult a map when you get new overlays for it. The idea is wonderful, but you couldn’t take the map with you for some reason. This is especially strange since Saki has an inventory for items, including a journal that she where puts documents she finds along the way. It’s an odd choice that resulted in tons of time wasted trekking back and forth across the train for no good reason.
Even though this game is mostly pixelated, it’s still beautiful. The train and characters have been carefully crafted with surprising amounts of detail. From the lavish decorations adorning the train in the past, to the dilapidated ruin of its former glory, it’s visually striking all around. There are some gorgeous hand-drawn images sprinkled throughout, such as when a character is speaking or even during certain important events. My one minor complaint is that since this mostly takes place on a train and you’ll have to go across is numerous times, the scenery can start to feel a little repetitive after a while.
The sound design is outstanding all around. There’s no voice acting, but the musical score fits the tone of game perfectly. The sound effects are very well done and effective. The only thing that sounded a little silly was overly dramatic sound effect that plays anytime you pick up an item. Other than that, I was amazed by the amount of tension Re:Turn – One Way Trip was able to deliver, mainly from its sound design. Be sure to play with headphones for the best experience.
I am so happy I decided to give Re:Turn – One Way Trip a shot. The bizarre combination of genres and gameplay elements was enough to pique my interest, but it delivered far more than I expected. Most of the puzzles are a lot of fun and highly diversified. The wonderfully interwoven storylines kept me captivated through to the end. If you like creepy imagery and an intriguing narrative, then you should get onboard with Re:Turn – One Way Trip.
The pixelated art style is done very well, with some very impressive hand-drawn images sprinkled throughout. Although, since it mostly takes place on a train, the scenery gets a little repetitive after a while.
Re:Turn – One Way Trip is a unique blend of a 2D side-scrolling, point-and-click, puzzle, horror game, with light visual novels aspects. Somehow it all works together really well though. The controls for a chase sequence are incredibly frustrating, but luckily it’s not a common occurrence.
There’s no voice acting, but the sound design is outstanding. The music fits the tones perfectly and the sound effects are very well done. Be sure to play with headphones for the best experience.
For a game with such a strange blending of gaming genres, it works surprisingly well. The story is far more compelling than I was expecting and will have you eager to see it through to its finale.
Final Verdict: 8.0
Re:Turn – One Way Trip is available now on Xbox One, PS4, PC, and Switch.
Reviewed on PC with an i7-9700k, RTX 2070, and 16gb RAM.
A copy of Re:Turn – One Way Trip was provided by the publisher.