Genre: Adventure, Puzzle
System: Nintendo Switch (also on Steam (Windows) and Xbox One)
Developer | Publisher: maitan69 | Whitethorn Games
Age Rating: US T | EU 12+
Price: US $19.99 | UK £16.75 | EU € 19,50
Release Date: January 17th, 2023
Review code used, with many thanks to Whitethorn Games.
RE:CALL is a first-person detective adventure game set in a 2D pixel graphical world. Mind-bending puzzles accompany this thrilling mystery game. Are you ready to solve the mysteries before you?
An Amateur Detective Mystery
The story starts off with a prologue, in which you play as Dominik NewOrder, who enters a guarded warehouse to kill the Toy Maker. Fast forward a scene later; an interrogation occurs inside a police station with several witnesses. However, the interrogation is for a murder that took place at the Albarns’ mansion. Our hero, Bruno Gallagher, was at the crime scene and recounted his version of the events that took place.
Bruno Gallagher is a loner with self-esteem issues forged by painful memories of his childhood, in which he was known as the “fatty”. He discovers that he has the ability to manipulate his memories as he recalls them and is thus able to change the future. He and his newfound friend, Harry Ocean, decide to solve the crimes left by Dominik NewOrder and put an end to Dominik once and for all. Along the way, Bruno meets new friends that help him in his endeavour as an amateur detective.
There are seven chapters plus the ending for the game. Each chapter is one long puzzle, and you have to solve the puzzles in order to move onto the next chapter. The puzzles involve making the correct choices through trial and error and the process of elimination. You don’t know what the correct outcome is unless you dive in headfirst and take a gamble on the choices available.
For example, to catch the culprit at the Albarns’ party in Chapter 1, you have to choose whether you arrived with a friend or were alone at the party. Then you need to decide if you sat on the mansion steps for 20 minutes, until late afternoon or until nighttime. Afterwards, you must choose how many gunshots were fired and in which direction of the mansion. There is only one correct solution and you have to keep guessing until you have figured it out.
Childhood Trauma and Adulthood
One of the underlying themes in RE:CALL is the effect of childhood trauma on adult development. Bruno was mercilessly bullied for being overweight during his school years and was ostracized by the other kids. As a result, he became self-deprecating and remained friendless until adulthood. There is a silver lining to his past trauma, however, that you uncover near the end of the game.
Brilliant Cast of Characters
The characters that Bruno meets throughout his detective adventure all have their own quirks, and each plays an integral role in the story. Even unsuspecting characters that make a couple of appearances can affect the outcome of each chapter. My favourite character has got to be Harry Ocean, Bruno’s buddy who materialized seemingly out of nowhere. Unlike Bruno, Harry has a lot of spunk and says uplifting words to his dejected friend and always backs him up in times of trouble. He constantly defends Harry and tells him what a great guy he is.
I found all the characters to be relatable, and they all have unique personalities that make them memorable to the player.
Gameplay and Controls
There aren’t any tutorials, and the player has to do their best at figuring out the puzzles. Some parts of the game plays like an RPG where you have to manipulate the characters to do certain things like finding out passcodes and keywords to progress the game. The gameplay is very smooth, with no glitches, and I appreciate the lack of loading screens between each chapter.
Visuals and Sound
Visuals are presented in a 2D pixel environment. The graphics are quite simple in design, but the characters sprites are very detailed. Don’t be fooled by the simple cute graphics, however; this is no cutesy game and there is death and violence involved.
The lo-fi coffee shop music fits the ambience well. There are also sounds within the game that leave an impact, such as gunshots and the sound of a secret door opening.
Some of the chapters in RE:CALL involve some patience to get through, so don’t expect this game to be a breeze. But the puzzles weren’t so challenging that they were unsolvable. I finished this game in under 20 hours, and I enjoyed every minute of it. If you’re a fan of challenging puzzle action and detective mysteries, then I highly recommend you pick up this game.
Final Verdict: I Like it a Lot.