There are many subjects that games don't usually touch, and suicide tends to be a bigger one. There are obvious reasons for this, but it's a subject matter that has quite a few negative correlations with it. Despite this, The Suicide of Rachel Foster is choosing to tackle the subject seriously and openly, leading to an interesting little narrative adventure game.
Taking place in 1993, you play as Nicole, a young woman who lost both of her parents. Because of such, she finds herself inheriting an old hotel. The problem? The hotel belonged to her dad, who seduced a mentally challenged 16-year-old girl that chose to commit suicide after she became pregnant with her kid. As such, there's nothing but bad memories of the place. Unfortunately, Nicole finds herself trapped in the hotel for over a week when a horrible snowstorm prevents her from leaving. With little else to do, Nicole begins to look into her family's past, what really happened to Rachel, and if there's a chance she's still alive.
As expected, the story takes several dramatic turns. The hotel's history slowly becomes unraveled the more you explore. You'll learn of its guests, Nicole's family, and Rachel's family as well. As each day goes by, things seem to get weirder, with more and more events happening around the hotel that is difficult to explain. The possibility of supernatural ramps up, and soon it feels like The Suicide of Rachel Foster is moving to a ghost story.
The story works fine when it's just focused on this family drama, but as it continues it starts to fall apart. By the final few chapters, The Suicide of Rachel Foster hits several plot twists that end up feeling more stupid than anything else. It strains a lot of the believability away from what's supposed to be a personal story. It mostly made me mostly wish that the game stuck to its roots rather than trying to add in this weird final act.
There isn't too much gameplay involved between this. You'll get a map of the hotel pretty early in, and a lot of the game is just finding ways to go where you need to. A lot of the time you just need to get from point A to point B without getting lost. Sometimes it's dark and you can use a few different tools to light your way, like a polaroid camera's flash or a little hand-charged flashlight where you need to keep hitting the mouse button to use. They're cute time kills, but there's nothing major about them.
There are no puzzles or anything you need to hide from or fight. Instead, you simply explore and get some environmental storytelling from the world. On one hand, this is done in occasionally clever ways. When Nicole looks at objects the game gives a quick description of what the object means to her rather than what it actually is. You know it's a skateboard, but to Nicole, it's an unfinished 360 kickflip. However, for a hotel that has been abandoned for at least 4 years, the place feels weirdly lived in. Nearly every room isn't in perfect condition, but it does just have things laid out like nobody has touched them specifically. It's just weird.
Honestly, I liked a good chunk of The Suicide of Rachel Foster, though the game certainly fell short near the end. There's a great story to be told here, I just don't like how it played out. Still, it can be worth the time put into it if you're into the style of game, and I've had worse experiences at real hotels. Trust me, there are some terrible hotels out there.
TechRaptor played The Suicide of Rachel Foster on PC using a copy provided by the developer. The game is also available on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.