Developer & Publisher: BlackChiliGoat Studio
Released: April 13, 2022
Requirements: Operating System: 64-bit Windows 7 or later
Processor: Minimum, Intel Core i3 2100 or AMD FX-6300; Recommended, Intel
Core i7 d3770 or AMD FX-8350
Memory: Minimum, 4 GB RAM; Recommended, 8 GB RAM
Graphics: Minimum, Nvidia GTX 750 Ti or ATI Radeon HD 7950; Recommended,
Nvidea GTX 970 or ATI Radeon R9 Series
Storage: 5 GB available space
TAPE: Unveil The Memories
Before we begin, I need to mention one thing. Which is that just after I finished playing the game, the ‘goats’ released an update that created a ‘narrative’ version, which in essence removed a big bad beasty from the game, enabling ‘the player’ to focus on the story and the puzzles.
It isn’t, as they said, the experience they designed, but there it is. Kudos to them for making it so.
Having now played the narrative version, I will tell you about both.
Hailing from a Spanish indie studio, TAPE describes itself as a puzzle thriller about Iria, a girl with a special camera capable of affecting time, who needs to explore her past to reveal what happened to her lost father.
The camera is special indeed, enabling Iria/you to rewind, fast-forward or pause objects in time. An old Super8 sort of thing, it's essential in moving through the game. While it felt a bit gimmicky at first, and had its frustrating moments, I grew to rather enjoy it.
The game plays in the first person and is in Spanish with English subtitles. It takes place indoors, (exactly where you can find out for yourself), and you spend most of the game exploring the environment and finding things that will let you into other rooms and corridors. You will pick up many more things than you take with you – pictures, drawings, letters and other documents - which tend to fill in the story and some of the broader background, although some provide clues to the puzzling.
Given the role of the camera, it should come as no surprise that films feature throughout. The paraphernalia of the industry is everywhere. Spot the homage became a bit of a thing.
An aspect that might deter some adventure game players is the large robot-like being that is present throughout the game. You need to avoid it; if it catches you, it isn’t game over but you will find yourself coming to somewhere on the floor nearby and needing to try again. You can outrun it, hide from it (something I did a lot of), manipulate it (sometimes) with light, even pause it briefly using your camera, but evade it you must.
Some of the time the challenge involved is not much more than nuisance value, but it can be rather tricky. It ramps up as you move through the game, and there will be times when you will have to hide and move multiple times, all while in the middle of manipulating things that need to be manipulated. Not to mention having to charge the camera somewhere in there too. There were also occasions when I was heading confidently for an exit only to suddenly have the robot entity spawn into being through a portal right in front of me, which sent me madly running elsewhere.
It can be frustrating, sometimes fiddly, but the beast isn’t terribly smart or fast (both of which help) and aspects of the puzzle design can also assist. First among those is that things you move through time follow their own path, which means pointing the camera at them will (eventually) get them to where they need to be. You might have to move things out of their way, or do some things before others, but you don’t have to eg., click and drag or in some other way work out where the particular object has to be. Which makes some sort of sense; you are forwarding or rewinding time, so things you can manipulate will necessarily move along their time continuum.
As well, things might be where you left them. Not everything, but some puzzles will leave the object wherever it was when you had to break off and hide, or move to a different location to avoid an object blocking your view. Near as I can recall this was the construction whenever the beast was about. Puzzles in which eg., the object moved itself back towards where it came from, or which required a sense of timing to complete, happened in the peace and quiet of no beast.
In the narrative version you might hear and see the beast, but apart from one short, straightforward running away requirement, it either won’t bother you or more usually simply isn’t there. In its absence, a number of puzzles don’t exist, and some rooms become nothing more than simply find the door to exit. But you are left alone to explore, to find the things you need, to eke out the story and most importantly to work out the camera manipulations. I confess I rather enjoyed it, even playing it so soon after that I knew how to solve most of the puzzles. It did though lack a little something.
I usually play games on ‘normal’ when that option is presented to me, so would probably have played the non-narrative one first even if both had been available. But, and while I acknowledge the views of the makers, in retrospect I would have preferred to have done it the other way round; instead of the narrative version lacking something, the beast version would have added something.
What you can’t do is have both versions on the go at once. Starting one version erases the other, no doubt a product of the save system. The game exclusively autosaves, and all you can do is play from the last checkpoint you reached. You can’t load earlier save points.
Which is a bit of a shame, but who knows, maybe that update will come next!
I mentioned charging the camera, which isn’t really how the game would describe it, and it is also a little more complex than just being full or along the way to being empty. I will try and (briefly) explain.
The camera has 15 ‘minutes’ of stored time, which can be used to rewind or fast forward things. But like time itself, it’s a relative concept. So you might send something 10 minutes into the past, bringing the charge to nearly zero in that direction, but you can then send something else 10 minutes into the future, which results in the time charge being back where you started. You might bounce around between moving things forwards and backwards and never exhaust the camera, and a sliding ‘scale’ will tell you exactly where you are. However if everything in the puzzle has to move backwards, eventually you will need to charge the camera for that to be able to happen.
Which you do by taking time from other objects, achieved by simply pointing and shooting the camera at them. So long as they are the right sort of object, which you will quickly learn to recognise. In that regard, early on the game provides little ‘tutorial’ clues to help you settle in.
You need to be looking through the camera to ‘see’ the things that can be moved, as well as in which ‘timely’ direction/s that can occur. Its another part of the puzzling.
While they don’t always make conceptual sense, and some were a touch cantankerous, I liked the camera conundrums. Need to keep a door open? Point your camera and pause it from closing. Need to rebuild a broken staircase? Find the pieces and reassemble them. Was that bricked up space once a door? Locate the parts and ‘rewind’ until the door is again a door. The fact that you can eg., find yourself walking on the ceiling, or dropping through a door in the floor or even needing to rotate whole parts of a room added to the mix.
Having said that, I would probably have left out the latter part of the final stairway puzzle, and perhaps there is one too many ‘stepping stone’ puzzles.
You will need to find a relatively small number of items, and having them will cause them to be used when needed, so there is no inventory management. Active items will highlight as You will also pick up and examine numerous items – photos, notes, newspapers, drawings as well as the movie bits and pieces – some of which might provide a clue to a puzzle, more of which will help reveal the story. Which is not a bad one.
Two choices towards the end of the game will determine how the story plays out, and will unlock what is called a Directors Cut. In essence it’s the final chapter, enabling you to make different choices to see how the end might change. It's another nice touch, one that is necessary given the save system.
It sounds good (save for one dodgy bit of voice acting), especially musically, almost every piece (and there are lots of them) being original. Not everything is underpinned by a score, which I always like. It isn’t as highly polished visually as some games, but it suits the somewhat surreal vibe.
The game plays in the first person and utilises the keyboard and mouse. Use the mouse to operate the camera and to ‘look’ about, and the keyboard for everything else. WASD walks you around, and you have complete freedom of movement and vision. A small round ‘curser’ fixed in the centre of the screen is your means to access the world; items you can interact with will light up when you are close enough and the curser is placed on them, and the curser will also slightly enlarge. It works well.
Two grumblements were that the key mapping wasn’t particularly to my liking (there is no menu to change them to suit) and there were times when I wished the camera would deploy more quickly. They were minor things.
TAPE took me about 7 hours the first time through (what with all the running away) and I ended up liking it a lot more than I thought I might.
I played on:
OS: Windows 10, 64 Bit
Processor: Intel i7-9700K 3.7GHz
RAM: Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB DDR4 32GB
Video card: AMD Radeon RX 580 8192MB