Xbox One, PS4, PC,
October 14, 2020
Green Man Gaming Publishing
Red Ego Games
Horror has become a more crowded and popular genre in recent years, with big budget franchises like Resident Evil and The Evil Within along with many others proving that people love to be spooked. Re:Turn – One Way Trip comes from an indie studio who intend to frighten you with their 2D side-scrolling puzzle horror adventure, when five teens go camping in the woods and, yes, get separated, only to encounter monsters of the past… and the present.
The setup is certainly traditional; five teens camping in the woods and exchanging corny dialogue is a major horror trope. Even still, it works to start pulling the narrative threads together. After a fight within the group and tensions running high, Saki finds herself alone and trying to find her friends, before stumbling upon an old abandoned train. As a point-and-click puzzler, exploring the train begins to load you up with items that may be useful, creepy children’s drawings and an ominous feeling of dread. It isn’t long before you’re whisked away to the past, when the train was still operating, full of interesting passengers with mysteries of their own to unravel.
“I found myself just as interested in finding out what happened between the ghostly inhabitants from history as I was eager to find my friends in the present.”
I never found myself jumping out of my seat with fright in Re:Turn – One Way Trip. While it absolutely inspires some uncomfortable feelings as you slowly move from carriage to carriage, it’s more of a “spooky” vibe, which combined with the pixel-art style makes this an adventure that would probably be a good horror entry point for folk who normally avoid the genre in fear of being really scared or grossed out by gore.
Re:Turn has a more touching story than I was anticipating, far more interested in fleshing out back-story the spirits haunting the train than spending too much time aiming for scares. Once I’d gotten through the initial set-up (where most of the creepy puzzle pieces start to fall into place), I found myself just as interested in finding out what happened between the ghostly inhabitants from history as I was eager to find my friends in the present.
The point-and-click nature of the adventure did leave me sometimes longing for a different environment, however. Once you first come across the train, that’s essentially where you’ll find yourself for the majority of the experience. You’ll find yourself becoming very familiar with each of the carriages, in the past and present, and the 2D style of Re:Turn means that can lead to a lot of backtracking one from carriage to another. If I ever found myself stuck on a puzzle or unclear of what to do next, it just meant scouring every room and every possible clickable thing as I moved from one carriage to the next, which at times took away from the creep-factor almost entirely. While some puzzles did leave me a little confused, bringing up the classic point-and-click genre conundrum where video game logic isn’t always the same as real-world logic, for the most part I found them to be enjoyable head-scratchers.
Re:Turn – One Way Trip has a hand-drawn pixel-art style which allows for the characters to pop off the screen, and additional mini cut-scenes, like where Saki is looking into a mirror for example, elevate the visuals further, adding more personality and detail. I also really enjoyed the soundtrack, which did an excellent job of building tension during the spooks and adding emotional layers to the more character driven scenarios, particularly towards the satisfying ending.
- Genuinely intriguing story with interesting characters
- Spooky, memorable atmosphere with a nice pixel-art style
- Puzzles have some good "aha!" moments
- Point and click puzzle solutions don't always gel
- Somewhat repetitive setting
- A bit of backtracking
Re:Turn – One Way Trip surprised me initially. With a stereotypical horror set-up and some corny banter between the teens, I wasn’t expecting to be as intrigued by the mysteries of the abandoned train and the spirits within it. It does a good job of utilising visual tricks and story-telling that keeps you questioning what is truly happening right up until the closing scenes where it all comes together. While it didn’t have me recoiling in terror and some of the puzzles veer into annoying with a bit of back-tracking, the short, engaging story kept me captivated throughout, and makes for an ultimately short-but-sweet spooky puzzler.