Vulgar Knight

Re-Turn – One Way Trip Preview

Out at the end of the month, here’s a Re-Turn – One Way Trip preview/review. There’s no score as this is based on the first five chapters of the game.

How disappointed was I with Re-Turn – One Way TripVery. So you don’t have to sift through any anecdotes or long-winded exposition, the reason I was disappointed was it finished halfway through.

My fault really as the game isn’t out yet and the version I received for review for the first five chapters of a ten chapter story. Perhaps that’s an indication of how much I was enjoying it as by the time I was knee-deep in supernatural shenanigans, a ‘thank you’ title card appeared and threw me back to the menu.

Re-Turn – One Way Trip Preview

Naturally, I thought it was either a glitch or one of the multiple endings you earn (there’s a nifty little in-game achievement system that even states the rewards for completing chapter ten). 

Repeating the same steps, as there’s no alternative, the abrupt ending appeared once again and with my Poirot skills, surmised from the Steam page, that it’s still not out yet. Rats.

So this isn’t the complete game, therefore a review/preview without a score, for obvious reasons, but what’s it all about? A typical teen horror story; friends go into the woods, they all disappear, eerie things start happening…

Re-Turn - One Way Trip - Camp
Camp. Source: Screen capture

The first ten to fifteen minutes was a tad laughable rather than scary. As the graphics are on the cute side, both the side-scrolling bulk of the game as well as the cutscenes, which aren’t as cute, the scary elements were a little literal – big eyes looking through windows and the odd jump scare. I wasn’t bowled over. 

But as the game progressed and I completed a few basic fetch quests, I felt more engaged in the game as I got to know the other characters, even if brief. You primarily play Saki who is engaged to Sen, also on this camping trip, as well as their friends Kanae and Kazuki, and hanger-on Yuuta.

Saki collapses and upon coming to, finds an abandoned train which she shares a mysterious link with. Full of ghost references, Japanese culture such as oni and traditional dolls, this isn’t a paint-by-numbers story depicting the culture. Still, the game is set in Japan and, not a spoiler as it says so on Steam, the narrative weaves the present with the past, to an even in Kyoto ‘during the war’.

Train In Day

The bulk of your gameplay will be wandering the train, left and right, opening doors, picking up poems and heading back the way you came to repeat the same thing. It doesn’t sound very interesting, and in some ways, it isn’t, but Re-Turn – One Way Trip has a brilliant ambience to it. 

After the initial laughable ‘scary’ elements, the game did take a darker turn, juxtaposed with these 90s JRPG-like character sprites and it never felt forced or tried to scare you for the sake of it. Instead, there was this undercurrent of fear and the unknown.

Re-Turn - One Way Trip - Maze
Less complicated than West World. Source: Screen capture

One aspect that wasn’t so enjoyable was the frequent interruptions. Two-thirds of the game felt like a tutorial with the constant introduction of a dialogue scene, a sound off-screen or Saki thinking aloud. Re-Turn – One Way Trip was more like a visual novel, lacking interaction, but you do play an active role in the game.

There’s no real threat or danger though. You can’t fail one of the few puzzles or have the option to pick from a dialogue tree. Saying that, when I thought I’d encountered the glitch with the ending, there was a sequence where you had to save a character. I let them die, just in case it was another path you could take, but it resulted in a game over. 

However, this section was so easy; you probably wouldn’t have considered letting this person die anyway, so not a challenge in the slightest. Seriously? You let them die the first time?

Leave Your Haiku At The Door

Some of the clues in the game, a lot of haikus, were a little surplus and felt like filler. The only time I struggled was when I missed one area to use an item and consequently was pacing up and down the train carriages getting frustrated at not knowing what to do.

The hints in the game are a little self-aware, though. On two occasions, Saki mentioned that there was nothing else of interest in a room, and I should move on.

This isn’t a scoring review as the game is still in development by Red Ego Games, with Green Man Gaming publishing. I’ll make one comment about the dialogue scenes, however. You play a second character other than Saki, and when characters interact, an image of them would appear to indicate who is talking.

For this new character, I found that NPC’s images were shown when the former was speaking. Far from game-breaking, but it was weird when talking to a boy, but the context was a man speaking to a child, but the image was shown of the latter. While I typed that last sentence, I noted the absurdity of it too and may have overcomplicated it further. Basically, the wrong images were used in conversation.

Re-Turn - One Way Trip - Hung
Well hung. Source: Screen capture

Anyway, back to the end, and the beginning of this review. Re-Turn – One Way Trip has been an enjoyable experience. It feels a little light on danger, and there’s a little too much backtracking in a short space of time, but the story, while not unique, is pretty good, the characters excellent, and the atmosphere even better.

From my understanding, the full game is out at the end of September of Steam. It wouldn’t hurt to wishlist the game to be notified when as this is a title where I want to witness the conclusion. If you’re interested in character-driven pieces with a charming art style and not so hectic gameplay, keep your eye on Re-Turn – One Way Trip.

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