I love a good mystery. Someday You'll Return seemed to be providing exactly that. Searching for your missing daughter in a forest located in the Czech Republic, the game seemed to be beautiful and interesting. Add in twisted monsters and adventure gameplay, and I thought that this sounded like the kind of game I would enjoy. For a while I even did. Then I got lost, and now I'm not sure I'll return.
Someday You'll Return is a story-driven horror game that follows Daniel, a former camp counselor that has, for reasons he isn't quite ready to share, chosen to keep away from the park that he used to run camps in. However, when his daughter Stela goes missing in said park, he ventures in to get her and bring her home. All he has to do now is find her. Of course, the fact that the woods are now full of mysterious horrors, an inky virus, a monster known as "The Beast" that hangs out in an old military bunker, and other supernatural problems? Well, that's something Daniel will have to work his way through as well.
Someday You'll Go Away
The set up is good, and Daniel's situation is pretty easy to start out attached to. However, a few unfortunate elements let the plot down. Daniel himself is tough to get behind, as he's such a jerk to everyone for seemingly no reason. Cutscenes go by with Daniel calling anyone else participating a loser, dumbass, idiot, and any other insult he can dig up from his vocabulary. Beyond that, every character has absolutely wild mood swings. Sections could see characters go from sad and sobbing, to super happy, to over the top angry with little rhyme or reason. If you add bad voice acting and hilariously silly animations to the mix, it's hard to get behind the story.
The animations, in particular, are a shame because, when it's not in motion, Someday You'll Return can be beautiful. The forests you explore, the twisted environments that it becomes, make for fantastic settings. I could easily lose time finding scenic overlooks and just looking over the land. Likewise, the indoor environments felt appropriately grimy and disgusting, instilling a fantastic sense of dread. It's just when characters show up things get iffy. One scene saw a girl dancing around while taunting Daniel. Her pirouettes don't particularly look great, nor do her dramatic head turns.
When it comes to playing, Someday You'll Return takes inspiration from several genres, the most obvious being adventures. You're not given map markers or a compass with objective points. Instead, you need to work out where you need to be and follow various trails in the park to get there. I will admit that this sometimes meant I got more than a little lost, but I never felt so cripplingly confused that I couldn't advance. Usually, it just meant I had to find some trail markers and follow them to a map to get back on the path.
Tomorrow, Tomorrow, There's Always Tomorrow
Sometimes you even need to do a bit of work to get around. Daniel puts his rock climbing skills to the test by latching onto walls and using handholds to get around. It's more of a puzzle than platforming, with the main goal trying to figure out where you want to put your hands so you can get to the next spot. Several times I discovered that the best way forward was to actually go backward, and these segments were enjoyable enough ways to fill time.
Eventually, you'll get to where you need to be and find plenty of interactable objects. Daniel can carry several in his inventory and has a tool belt that allows him to interact in specific ways. Using the power of tools like a hammer, screwdriver, knife, and more, you'll take apart and create various doohickies to help you advance. Similarly, partway through the game, Daniel gets a herbalism kit that allows him to pick flowers and turn them into potions that let him see visions or ignore vertigo.
Someday You'll Return seems to love adding in little new mechanics. Over time I got new "conceptual items" that required me to fill in the blanks with other items. There were two different journals, and one of them required me to interact with specific items in the forest to fill up. There are over a hundred fifty collectibles to find, ranging from candy wrappers to guitar songs that also require you to find a guitar to play them with. It's kind of endearing that, even fifteen hours in, Someday You'll Return is still introducing new gameplay elements.
Lost in the Woods
With so many elements, not everything can work out as intended. Puzzles seem to fall into one of two camps. About half are clever puzzles that occasionally require some digging into obscure elements that, eventually, give you a nice "aha!" moment when you solve them. The other half is frustrating pixel hunts where the solution is to slowly scan every corner of every room until you find an item that solves the puzzle for you. It feels like there was no in-between, and the latter puzzles really brought the game down.
Bad puzzles weren't Someday You'll Return's only gameplay misstep though. The horror elements feel especially shoehorned in. For the first half of the game, there aren't any monsters, and the only things that can kill you are often stationary and easily avoided. There are a few events where you may need to hide, but they're all scripted and you just need to perform the correct actions. This is when Someday You'll Return's horror elements are at their best.
Still Waiting For that Day
The introduction of actual monsters that you need to stealth around is when the horror loses its luster. The monsters are simply annoying, able to see you from long distances, and, once they spot you, emitting a scream that stuns you in place, often just long enough for them to reach and kill you. Hilariously, the monsters kill by transforming into a completely different monster and then slowly stalking over to you. Should you survive the initial stun they're almost trivial to get away from.
You won't get any weapons in your fight against these creatures, but after a few stealth segments, Daniel manages to get his hands on a totem that, when planted into the ground, causes non-aggressive monsters to become trapped and float into the air. This totem also works on specific items in the environment, giving you more ways to get around. It's not a particularly fantastic tool, but it can occasionally come in handy. It doesn't, however, really make Someday You'll Return's stealth segments more fun. In the end, I found myself just wishing for a way to kill the monsters.
Someday You'll Return Review | Final Thoughts
Someday You'll Return is an absolutely bizarre package of ideas that don't quite match in the way they probably should, but still manage to make something interesting. Not all of it works out, the story is lame and I wish the stealth horror was completely cut from the game, but it also has plenty of interesting ideas that feel like they're going for a unique feel. It may take a while, but someday you may actually return to.
TechRaptor reviewed Someday You'll Return on PC using a copy provided by the developer. The game will be available on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One later this year.
- Beautiful Enviroments
- Willing to Try Many New Ideas
- Fun Adventure Game Elements
- Iffy Story with Poor Voice Acting
- Pixel Hunting Puzzles
- Bad Stealth Horror Moments