The Great Perhaps

a First Look by flotsam

[Linked Image]

I am about 2 hours of playtime into this platforming hybrid, so it's a little more than a first look, but having reached a (so far) challenging sequence, when you get final review remains to be seen. Hence this.

A cosmonaut returns to Earth after a lengthy cryo-sleep to find it in ruins. Aided by his on-board AI, he sets off to try and discern what has happened. He soon comes across a lantern, one which enables him to both see into and visit the past. It is the basis for the puzzling and adventuring which follows.

Once I got into the hang of things, I have to say I was much taken by this aspect. Time travel is not new, but I thought the way it was done here was excellent. You are essentially playing in two times - the past and the present - and having the lamp on will enable you to view your immediate surroundings in the other time frame. Activating the lamp will also enable you to jump from the present into the past for a limited period of time. Should you need to leave quickly, activating it again will bring you back.

These two aspects are the basis of the puzzling and adventuring, and are also integral to preventing untimely deaths.

An example will help. Early on you are walking through what used to be a subway. Trains have long since ceased to run, roofs have collapsed, and very quickly the blockages mean moving any further is impossible. At least in the present. However jump into the past and it's a pristine subway tunnel, able to be accessed easily. Except of course for the trains. It is quickly apparent you can only get through the tunnel in the past, but you need to avoid being hit by a train. By turning your light on in the present, you can "see" the trains in the past, so wait until there is a gap, and jump accordingly. Run through the tunnel, return to the present, and be on the other side of the blockage. Problem solved!

This is at the heart of many of the conundrums. A door is damaged in one time frame, but you can open it easily in the other. The lift is out of order now but not then, and switches still operate in the past. A hole in the floor now might be a smooth corridor then. Jumping to and fro is key to moving on.

The way the lantern works is rather impressive. Leave it turned on, and as you walk along the immediate area seen in front of you will be the other time frame, superimposed over the "real" world. As well as warning of hazards if you jump, it effectively enables you to see through walls, doors and other obstacles, to identify items of interest that you might need. In that regard, you can take items with you from one time to the other, which is another part of solving the inventory-type conundrums.

I mentioned untimely deaths. Many things can kill you - falls, trains, critters, beasts, other people. They all need to be avoided/overcome/defeated in some way. Fail and try again, although you may have to repeat some parts as the game autosaves and will return you to the last save.

Throwing things at other things will help in some parts, as will running and jumping, pushing and pulling, and climbing. Not generally all at the same time, except where I am at the moment. I need to climb up several levels, jump and push things, throw things to make things fall done, and push things to climb up, as a black slenderman-type beast relentlessly shambles after me. Catch me and it's back to the start of the sequence. Which so far has happened about two dozen times. The way throwing works is not helping my frustration.

You play with the mouse and keyboard, and predominantly move left and right, side scrolling as is typical of many platform-style games. Up and down will occur in places, as you move between floors of buildings or climb ladders to gain access to a roof or other location. Items and locations of interest will glow, and you can carry one item at a time. Only once so far have I had to drop one thing to use another.

I liked the animation style, and while the dialogue delivery is somewhat stilted, I thought it suited the feel of the thing. The story has so far covered some biggish themes, both personal and global, and I look forward to continuing.

Which I will do, despite the bogging down I currently find myself in, as there is much to like here, and even admire. Just be aware of the things that might not be for you.