Re:Turn – One Way Trip is an intriguing concept: a pixel art horror game with side-scrolling movement. Sure, we’ve seen it before in titles such as Lone Survivor, but it’s a still a fairly unexplored sub-genre. Can Re:Turn – One Way Trip succeed at bringing something interesting or new to the table?
The beginning is a cliched gathering of five friends taking a camping trip after their graduation, but it serves as an appropriate vehicle to separate the gang and introduce the main environment: an abandoned train in the middle of nowhere. A fight breaks out between the friends, adding significant social tension before they turn in for the night and giving us a little backstory to ponder. In the middle of the night, protagonist Saki wakes to find all her friends missing and, in her search, discovers the seemingly abandoned and delipidated train where things begin to get strange.
However, Re:Turn – One Way Trip doesn’t get strange in the typical horrific creatures and scares kind of way, instead it establishes a creepy and ominous atmosphere before throwing you back in time to when the train was operational. It’s an unexpected and interesting storytelling and puzzle solving scenario that helps tell the tale of the train and its passengers as well as provide some clever puzzles to solve, all the while the previously encountered creepy atmosphere of the dilapidated modern state of the train claws at your subconscious.
In the past, Saki can’t interact with most of the passengers but can affect things in the future. It soon becomes apparent that Saki must discover the dark history of the train and its passengers if she means to find and save her friends. And the passengers are certainly well-developed characters, offering their own little stories that are fascinating to uncover. Indeed, as the story progresses you also come to learn more about your own friends as well, providing a compelling reason to play your way through to the end.
While 2D side-scrolling makes up the perspective, largely Re:Turn – One Way Trip is a point-and-click adventure; investigating objects, fetching certain items and completing simply but cleverly designed puzzles. Meanwhile, the story telling is delivered with portraits and text, not dissimilar to a visual novel. It’s a bit of a melding of genres, but they work together well without making the title complex or unwieldy. Meanwhile, the pixel visuals are wonderfully detailed.
While the puzzles remain fresh throughout, never really repeating a solution or method, the environment, as attractive as it is, can get repetitive. A train is simply too small to offer much in the way of visual variety, despite the time travelling element. It results in a lot of backtracking. However, it doesn’t feel tedious, thanks largely to the well-designed puzzles and engaging story. Moreover, the marvellous music and sound effects are used exceptionally well to. They compliment the atmosphere wonderfully and helps to truly immerse you.
While Re:Turn – One Way Trip isn’t particularly scary, it’s certainly steeped in atmosphere. Primarily it’s an intriguing set of interwoven stories wrapped in clever puzzles within a creepy location, and this all works together splendidly to craft a fun and engaging game.
Re:Turn – One Way Trip
Wonderful pixel art, music and sound effects brings this horror experience to life, meanwhile clever puzzles and an intriguing story keeps you engaged. The side-scrolling perspective and the restraints to exploration this perspective forces can be off putting, but this is otherwise a splendid experience.
- Gorgeous pixel art
- Hugely immersive music and sound effects
- Well-told story
- 2D side-scrolling causes backtracking and feels restrictive when it comes to exploration
- Some cliched moments and dialogue
- Puzzles are clever but simple to solve