Indie games are like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get. Some are downright terrible (on purpose, even) while others outdo your expectations (uh, Undertale anyone?). The Long Reach slides on the quality scale and questions your critical thinking skills. Glaringly obvious grammatical errors and gaps in the timeline are a headscratcher, but it's the perplexing mind games that question your sanity again and again. Luckily, the comic relief reduces the consistent disturbing elements developing around you. So what if there’s a violent maniac on the loose? At least the characters have a sense of humor about it.
Painted Black Games presents a horror-thriller adventure set in the fictional town of Baervox, New Hampshire. The pixelated yet vividly gruesome escapade commences with the player taking control of Calvin, who appears to be having relationship problems. Poor guy. He reluctantly converses with the grandmother of his present lover, Shelly, revealing dialogue options for the player to choose from. Colorful (and profane) conversations dance across the bottom screen regularly in The Long Reach. Characters also reference other video games, even if through sarcastic anecdotes. Pitch in with a witty retort every handful of lines and you’ll fit right in.
Events transpire with Calvin (ahem, no spoilers) and you’re suddenly in a research lab of sorts, wielding control of Stewart – your main man. Stewart casually chats with some coworkers about a Christmas party in their building when, naturally, horrible things start happening. Why wouldn’t they? Stewart awakens to his associates clearly having some sort of psychotic break along with the world around him declining by the second. Throw me a bone, here. Or rather throw it to Stewart’s associate Stan, who literally thinks he’s a dog.
With the luxury of full controller support, gameplay is fairly elementary in The Long Reach. You pick up an item, attempt to determine its purpose, and go from there. Meandering around is pretty straightforward. The intent of attainable objects, however, doubts your level of intelligence. Suddenly you’re wondering if The Long Reach is that confusing or if you’re just that dumb. Good luck figuring out which.
Early on in Stewart’s journey through the loony bin, he acquires a dog chew toy from the very perturbed Stan (good boy!). Other bizarre items end up in Stewart's inventory as well, such as a gong and a red washcloth. Nonetheless, all of these objects aren’t just for show. Most of the time, you haven’t the slightest clue on what to even do with them. Reading personal emails on fellow associate's computers occasionally reveals hints pertaining to Stewart's progression. Other times, you just gotta put forth your best guess and hope for the best.
Apparently jabbing a severed piece of Stan’s chew toy into a broken button brings the elevator back to life. Who knew? The extent of ludicrous combinations attempted in order to progress suddenly has you pondering your mentality. The number of times the odd mixtures actually work crown you as a temporary genius…sort of.
Saving your progress isn’t an option, regrettably. The Long Reach takes the reigns and saves your state at monumental moments, such as locking a madman in the pharmacy after a thrilling chase. Unfortunately, there’s no definitive way to defend yourself against the weirdos and their antics. On the bright side, only one of the lunatics wields a weapon. Underneath doors, movements are observed via vibrating lines. That way you can prepare yourself for the possibility of being hunted, most likely resulting in death.
He does one-hit kill you, so don’t try to fight him with your fists of fury.
Leaving the room won’t lose his trail either. When all else fails, taking cover in various places camouflages Stewart’s existence. Memorizing the hiding spots proves to be extremely beneficial. Take, for example, a bathroom stall. When you gotta go, you gotta go, right? Stewart’s deranged associate won’t find you in there, either. He may have gone bonkers, but he isn’t that bright.
Who knew pixelated gore could be so unsettling? A good chunk of The Long Reach reaches new heights with not only its eerie atmosphere but its mind-boggling misconceptions. Many moments riddled with frustration reflect the cunning features constructed by Black Painted Games. Stewart happens upon one too many oddities for it to be a considered a coincidence.
The Long Reach purposely plays mind games and forces you to perceive Stewart as a sane human living amongst a bunch of crazies. Stewart appears level-headed for a while but loses his grasp on reality like everyone else. Learning to guide him through the chaos anyway is the real accomplishment, even when you have absolutely no idea how you’re doing it.
Though The Long Reach has missing holes in its story, the characters build a decent background for the happenings transpiring in Baervox. Unfortunately, the replay value isn’t substantial and most of the interactions aren’t anything to write home about. You nonchalantly wander through the chaos, place weird objects in weird places, run away from a bloodthirsty chap, and occasionally put your two cents in when a conversation transpires. The psyche may need some time to comprehend the whole kit and caboodle, but The Long Reach is worth a shot.
- Intriguing Psychological Mind Games
- Stunning Pixelated Visuals
- Confusing Story Elements
- Game Progression Often Unclear
- Not Very Exciting