If you read my preview piece for Re-Turn One Way Trip, you’ll know of my disappointment in the preview ending halfway through the story. Without a doubt, I was invested in the characters and keen to see it through.
It was almost like starting a new show on Netflix only for halfway through that they tell you they’re taking a season break. To say I was mildly impatient would be an understatement, but may give you some assurance that this is an enjoyable game.
From Red Ego Games and Green Man Gaming, Re-Turn One Way Trip is a ghost story with an emphasis on the characters that occupy the narrative. The focus is more to do with character interaction and puzzle-solving rather than dialogue choices.
Re-Turn One Way Trip Review
The game advises you to turn the sound up and encourages headphones, and I wholeheartedly agree. The ambience, score and item selection sounds are brilliant. It reminded me a little of the Resident Evil series, and I can honestly say, one of my favourite scores of late – especially the title piece.
There are ten chapters to contend with. In the early access, only half of these were available. Fortunately, the game carries off from your last save game, but going back to replay is hardly a burden – Re-Turn One Way Trip doesn’t come across as a top title, but it really is excellent.
The story follows that thing that teenagers do, camping in an unknown location and sharing ghost stories. Fools. Anyhoo, after this raconteur convention, our lead, Saki, wakes up to find everybody gone. What a horrible trick these fiends play on our hero, but wait: they have genuinely disappeared.
Rather than bail on her friends and head for somewhere a more well-lit populated area, Saki enters the woods and then an abandoned train. Kudos to her, I’d never have stepped on board, but at the same time, you know something’s not right.
Quit Eyeballing Me
Cue a few spooky sounds and eyeballs filling the windows. Alas, it’s a little comical in places when it shouldn’t be, but the sound production is superb. Not because I was told to turn the sound up, but my new setup means I can only listen to my games with headphones. This was the best way to experience Re-Turn One Way Trip: you could cut the atmosphere with a rusty spanner.
Somewhere, timelines have merged, and you find that Saki is the derelict train she hopped onto is now a pristine, regal locomotive, full of passengers, pre-WWII. With the Japanese names, it could be assumed the story takes place in Japan, and as the story unravels, the passengers are heading to Kyoto.
The actual play area is incredibly linear as you move on one plane, moving left to right, car to car looking for clues or items that can assist you in figuring out what’s going on. But Saki’s main motivation is to find her friends and ‘rescue’ them from whatever fate has in store. On the service, the characters are quite naive, and that adds to the charm as there are some morbidly dark scenes.
Separated by its chapters, the game plays out a little like a small-scale fetch quest with lots of backtracking. Still, the puzzles are very organic, and even when you might feel stumped, the solutions are often intuitive – the only times I struggled was if I missed an object, heading back and forth each time.
One Way Trip
Re-Turn One Way Trip isn’t a point and click per se, as you don’t click to where she should move; instead, you can take direct control of her with the keys or a controller and interact with items when a magnifying icon shows up.
One button/key will interact with NPCs, while another will bring up an inventory. Fortunately, the item usage is often clear, and you don’t find yourself scratching your head on what to do next, making some absurd combinations. That said, despite the almost claustrophobic environment, you will be backtracking quite a bit to either open doors or locate items to use with this, that and the other.
Visually Re-Turn One Way Trip is a throwback to the 16-bit era, but more so for PC gaming than consoles. You wouldn’t have seen this indie-type game on a Sega or Nintendo, more likely an Amiga. And that, my friends, is where I jump in and say this would have been the type of game I’d have been playing ‘back in the day’.
A little bit on the simplistic side when it comes to design and aesthetics, the folk at Red Ego Games do know how to harness their powers into a story that motivates, and despite the limited controls, it plays out well.
Laughing At Death In The Face
For me, I couldn’t put the game down. Re-Turn One Way Trip had me hook, line and scrotum as the story and general interaction is intriguing. You want to find out more about the cast, and the back story of the train, all the while looking for clues and speaking with NPCs.
Re-Turn One Way Trip is on the easier side. In all of the ten chapters, there was one moment where I died because I tested to see if I could die, and another was down to not moving fast enough from a threat. The puzzles were also on the easier side, so if you’re after something complex, this won’t deliver, but if you want a decent story, a brilliant atmosphere and appealing characters, Re-Turn One Way Trip is a must.
I’d say it is on par with Distraint 2 and INMOST, despite being different in-game mechanics, the vibe and story arcs make you want to invest as much uninterrupted time as possible. Each time I had to stop playing, whether it be the tease of five chapters or that the kids set fire to the dog, it broke the spell I was under.
Don’t misunderstand my assessment though; Re-Turn One Way Trip isn’t a stellar title of cutting edge technology or an Inception-like narrative, but it gets the feels right.