Re:Call Review – Gaslighting: The Video Game

Re:Call Review – Gaslighting: The Video Game

I can never pass up a good mystery adventure. Add in unique elements such as memory manipulation and environmental puzzles, and I’m there. Re:Call is the newest game from developer maitan69, who brings their signature way of narrative storytelling to this release. If you’ve played their debut release, Evan’s Remains, you’ll catch the subtle withholdings of key narrative plot points sprinkled throughout the adventure. Many characters know more than they let on, but a balance between storytelling and gameplay needs to be found.

Re:Call has a fantastic concept. The idea is I tell you a story and can alter your memory based on what I say. This is used for extreme measures such as breaking into facilities, catching murderers, and avoiding death. However, it could also be used for simply getting out of trouble. In execution, this is much easier to wrap your head around, and each chapter of the story plays on memory in clever ways that force you to try and fail multiple times before figuring out the right path to progression.

Players meet Bruno Gallagher, an average young adult just trying to make it in this world. It’s discovered early on that he has no problems being called names or acknowledging that he has no friends. However, that changes after a device seemingly chooses him that will change his life. This device can alter the memory of those around the holder, which makes it a powerful tool that others will want for themselves. However, memory plays a huge role in the overall narrative, and this element takes center stage in the concluding chapters.

This is similar to the developer’s previous title, which pieced together the narrative puzzle, in the end, to ramp up to a few twists that you may or may not have seen coming. Each character plays a much more significant role in the later hours. It’s clear that characters are withholding information, but for various reasons, Bruno is kept in the dark. Your drip-fed plot details throughout each chapter, but in the final moments, these reveals will take you to the conclusion for an emotional rollercoaster of an ending.

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The gameplay portions of the adventure are insanely clever. You might be able to pick them apart if this was time travel, but it’s dealing with memory, so everything is hazy to begin with. Bruno must use the power of memory to change elements of the present. For example, if a code is needed, he can insert himself somewhere in the past when the code was recited and use it to progress. This mechanic is used in various ways, so you’re constantly searching through memories to solve puzzles.

When in a memory, you’ll often get something wrong that may result in death. This introduces a trial-and-error approach where you try different ways of telling a story and get to retry if you die. Thankfully, you don’t have to re-watch all the events you’ve already seen, as the story will fast-forward automatically to unseen scenes. However, I will say that reading is essential as some passwords were only given once, and if I had missed them, it would have sucked. There may have been a way to replay those scenes, but just read the story, and you’ll be fine.

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In the final chapters, these memory mechanics are used too much, a downer for anyone playing for these systems. The narrative does well to hold your attention, but the memory element of the gameplay is a massive factor in the experience, and I feel like it was left out to focus on the story. Again, this doesn’t hinder the experience, but you should expect a more visual novel experience to round off your time with the game.

Graphically, the retro character designs and environments add to the overall charm. I thought the pixel work was terrific, and the full-character illustrations brought the characters to life. I also enjoyed how brief the text boxes were, using a larger font to make reading easier without overly wordy explanations of events. The general writing for each character was a significant highlight, as the supporting cast has excellent chemistry. Although their designs make them seem odd, they all come together.

The music is rather catchy as it matches the mood of the scenes. It has a way of ramping up the more emotional scenes but still finds a way to be playful within some of the more zany moments. I should note that one of the characters, Harry Ocean, is the star of the show. His optimism and even existence are beyond comprehension, but he manages to establish himself as a helpful member of the group regardless of how he came into Bruno’s life.

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Re:Call busts out the gate with clever gameplay systems that deal with memory manipulation and puzzle solving. It’s an additive affair as you attempt multiple times to get the story straight and progress the narrative. However, the balance of gameplay and storytelling is lost in the final chapters as the narrative is the true highlight of the experience. Make this your next weekend game; you won’t regret it.

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