The Long Reach Switch Review: Call Me Al

A failed experiment is always much more catastrophic in the world of cinema and gaming. The Long Reach is no exception, but who the hell is Alan?

With a handful of titles not due out until the end of the month, it made sense to add a few reviews, such as this The Long Reach Switch review, to hold hands, maybe caress a cheek or two of the news posts of late.

The Long Reach was part of an impulse buy over the Christmas holidays – along with Uncanny Valley, a comparable game in many ways, but I only started it on a Saturday, promptly finishing it a few hours later. Is it worth the purchase? At least read the words first.

It all begins with Calvin. Shelly has left him a note to buck his ideas up and get some shopping in, but he’s a selfish prick. That’s the gist. After an altercation with a fellow customer, Calvin is told to call a medic because the customer has gone batshit crazy. Upon returning to the storefront, dead bodies are everywhere, and Calvin is next on the to-do list.

The Long Reach Switch Review - Clean up on aisle 3
Clean up on aisle 3. Source: Screen capture

This was my first experience of The Long Reach on the day of purchase, but it looked like the game froze on the loading screen, so I bailed, only returning to it today. Truth be told, the game has some incredibly slow loading screens to the point that it looks like the game has crashed. Thankfully, this only happens two – maybe three times tops.

After this little intermission, the story unfolds as we’re introduced to the protagonist, Stewart, a low-level scientist. He passes out after running an experiment, only waking to anarchy, and the head scientist has put the building into lockdown. It’s a little like Heaven Dust 2, only without the zombies. That said, Stewart’s co-workers are hardly… sane.

What triggers this shift in sanity isn’t entirely clear, but I’m not sharing my theories as it’d spoil the experience. In short, it’s an experiment gone wrong, but it’s presented in a way where I continually questioned whether any of it was real (again, that’s not a spoiler as I’m still undecided!). The narrative and dialogue are absurd.

While there’s isn’t much in the way of closure with two of the endings I unlocked, it was a satisfying experience throughout. The Long Reach is a pixel art (eww!) side scroller. It’s a horror title that plays more on the psychological, and it does it well, but don’t expect a survival horror game as there isn’t any combat. Likewise, it isn’t easy to pinpoint whether there were many puzzles as having just completed it, nothing stands out that was particularly memorable nor challenging.

The Long Reach Switch Review - Am I losing my mind
Am I losing my mind? Source: Screen capture

That’s a bad thing, right? Not really. As stated before, it’s refreshing to play a game in one sitting without it feeling rushed, nor having it enter that dreaded backlog of unfinished – even unplayed – games. As the bulk of The Long Reach gameplay occurs in the facility, expect a fair bit of backtracking for inventory items and access cards, but without the monotony.

Without much in the way of playable locations, there’s never any downtime of not knowing what to do or where to go next. The tempo is just right, and the difficulty, while on the easy side, allows players to get stuck into the narrative. I’m not one for horror games, but this isn’t a scary game, nor does it feature jump scares, but the concept of losing one’s mind is terrifying, and surprisingly, the pixel art presentation captured this very well.

One of the game’s highlights was the additional playable characters and montages between key scenes. Painted Black Games has got a good grasp on storytelling as a whole – at least in a visual sense, and the way the characters connected was excellent. Though the plot may lose a few people – myself included, no doubt to overthinking, I have to say that it held my attention throughout and created the right kind of atmosphere.

The Long Reach Switch Review - Erm... is this Dark Souls
Erm… is this Dark Souls? Source: Screen capture

The Long Reach’s themes will be more profound based on your approach. I love games that make me think about them when I’m not playing them, and though it can be finished in a couple of hours, it’s a game I’d recommend if you fancy a decent indie for your Switch. 

There will be some unanswered questions, but that’s up to you to fill in the blanks. At least you’ll be entertained by the pithy dialogue. It was another highlight, though the scientists in the game swear like troopers. If you’re offended by the word ‘fuck’, look away now. Oh…