"Today, she remembers. Today, she looks at the man who loves her, and feels familiarity and safety." This is one of the first few lines of We'll Always Have Paris, thrusting you right into the heart of the matter as soon as the game boots up. It's meant to be played in a single playthrough, and it really should - the short narrative journey packs an emotional punch, and it's best to experience it all uninterrupted and in one go.
The narrative experience puts players in the shoes of Simon Smith, a loving husband to his wife of fifty years. Claire, unfortunately, is slowly losing sense of who she is and the life she lived, which includes forgetting all about Simon himself and their son, Arthur. Forgetfulness about both the things that matter and the things that don't come with the territory, as Simon initially struggles with Claire's odd behavior on bad days.
An early example of dealing with Claire and her condition would be Simon stumbling upon their torn wedding picture on their bedside table. It's up to you to pick up the pieces, literally and figuratively, and put it all back together. The mini-games and puzzles themselves aren't headscratchers at all, mainly because it's the story that takes center stage here. The little interactions are meant to engage you in the narrative rather than pose a real challenge, which includes inserting coins into a tower viewer, checking your phone for ingredients for a dish, and picking the right colors to paint a baby mobile.
The short narrative journey packs an emotional punch, and it's best to experience it all uninterrupted and in one go.
These little mini-games are scattered all throughout the main narrative, which is essentially Simon walking you through as the narrator of the story. You'll pick answers to questions during dialogue, or decide on different courses of action to take to move the story along. The decisions you make don't really have any lasting consequences on the narrative, but they do add flavor to the whole thing just to spice things up a little bit.
Of course, that's not to say the game needs any more spice - the emotional story is enough to make the last panel linger long after the credits roll. In just under an hour, the whole game manages to take you on a rollercoaster of emotions from lighthearted moments about some woman finding an engagement ring in a bag of rice to the heavy, heavy topic of dementia. The minimalist visuals also add to the emotional vibe of the game, and the lovely background music - performed by one of the two developers - perfectly complements the theme of the title.
If there's one criticism I have of the game, it's that it's simply too short to make an even greater impact. Of course, the brevity of the game is ideal to make sure that the narrative isn't bogged down by unnecessary details that distract from the main issue, but I just think that a little bit more character development would make players invest emotionally in Simon and Claire even more.
We'll Always Have Paris Review | Final Thoughts
We'll Always Have Paris is a quick experience that almost feels like it ends as soon as it begins. There are moments that I felt could have been more fleshed out to provide emotional depth. Puzzles are quick and painless too - although players who may be looking for the typical point-and-click puzzles may not find the low-pressure puzzles too appealing.
Still, We'll Always Have Paris managed to tug at my heartstrings because it's such a heartfelt labor of love from such a small studio. Cowleyfornia Studios is made up of developer duo Marina and Duncan - Marina does the illustrations and the writing while Duncan does the game design and engine.
All the elements of the game definitely came together in the end to create this short but meaningful experience for players, and while I can't spoil anything about the story, suffice it to say that there are a handful of surprises that are sure to move you in more ways than one along the way.
TechRaptor reviewed We'll Always Have Paris on Steam with a copy provided by the publisher. The game is also available on iOS and Android devices.
- Absolutely Emotional Story
- Impactful Visuals And Music
- Beautifully Written Dialogue
- Short Playtime Affects Character Development
- Puzzles May Not Be Too Challenging For Puzzle Aficionados