Someday You’ll Return Review – Lost in the Forest
Title: Someday You’ll Return
Developer: CBE Software
Release Date: May 5, 2020
Reviewed On: PS4
Publisher: CBE Software
Genre: Horror Adventure
Everyone loves a good horror game packed with gore and jumpscares. But if gamers are anything like developer CBE Software, they wanted a scare that focuses more on the idea that people might be more scared of themselves. That’s what I found in their newest title Someday You’ll Return, a horror adventure that is more involved in the ancient Czech mythos that has me fully immersed.
Someday You’ll Return begins with the main protagonist, Daniel looking for his daughter, Stela. Stela seems to have a history of running away from home, but something feels strange this time. In his search, Daniel finds himself at the entrance of the Moravian forest, close to a campsite that he swore he would never return again. Throughout his struggles to find his daughter, Daniel encounters nightmares and mysterious strangers that challenges his past and unveil the real reasons why Stela is trying to escape desperately.
I’ve seen the missing daughter and broken father taking it into his own hands to bring her home premise before. However, there’s plenty more to this story that’s discovered through progression. The narrative challenges Daniel with sensitive subjects such as his abilities as a parent, past lies made to loved ones, and accepting his past. It gets to a point where he is searching for his daughter as much as he is searching for himself, and I was eager to play to the very end to see him confront those demons.
When it comes to gameplay, Someday You’ll Return is a narrative adventure with a few twists outside of its horror themes. Player inspect objects, build items, solve puzzles, pick herbs, and find key items across a few different environments. All of which can be used to progress the story or add context to the situation. Letters are also found across the forest that provides help with direction and puzzles.
Seeing as Daniel has been in the forest before, he can navigate cliffsides to caves and other hidden areas. This also makes him a capable survivor. The forest is full of flowers that grow around the area that can be picked and crafted into potions that provides new attributes or acts as a cure to inflections. Still, Daniel will, at times, have access to his phone to check messages and the GPS for a little extra help.
These mechanics add a nice layer of adventure elements to the game to differentiate it from other titles in the genre, without hurting the theme. However, some gameplay mechanics are introduced only to progress the narrative and then never used again, which I felt was unnecessary.
The inventory system lets players carefully examine objects by rotating them to find hidden clues. Some objects can be pieced together to make a key or even be fixed using a toolbox, such as hammering a wood plank to repair a ladder or crafting a portable stove for herbs. These items encourage players to explore the environment, which works because it’s there’s plenty to discover here.
The Herbalism tab in the menu opens a portable stove used to create some useful consumables. Throughout the adventure, Daniel finds additional recipes that call for various flowers to be broken down. It’s essential to follow the recipes to the T; otherwise, players will have to dump out creation and search for more materials.
Luckily, finding flowers isn’t as hard as it sounds. Flowers are littered all over the forest and glow like other collectible items. The whole system to create potions is a neat mechanic that comes from the game’s own inspired lore and mythos. In practice, rarely did I need to develop potions other than when the story required me to. Even curative potions that get rid of black spittle monsters spew at Daniel only happen several times.
Someday You’ll Return also features a stealth and tracking mechanic that allows Daniel to follow footsteps left by people or sneak around horrible ancient creatures. This was a cool feature, but it was only used a handful of times throughout the game. If it was to avoid overusing the mechanic, I could understand, but it a feature that I felt could have been used more prominently.
Interestingly, QR codes can also found, and you can scan them with your smartphone to see a map and info on the real-world locations you’re playing in. It doesn’t serve a function outside of appreciating how well the developer modeled some of the areas in the Czech Republic. Additionally, some decoder messages can be solved in real life that adds some subcontext from story characters. However, collecting optional items like candy wrappers and handmade emblems are just extras rewards to those that like straying away from the beaten path.
Unlike those extras, just being the forest is rewarding enough as the visuals in Someday You’re Return look fantastic. The small details like realistic dirt paths, old fallen trees, man-made resting areas, and signages all feel familiar to me, as someone who has been on a hike or two. The developer uses the natural atmosphere to enhance every area and make it an inviting landscape that players want to explore.
The environments can make you forget that some scary creatures are lurking around the corner, and the music typically ramps up at the perfect time to set the mood. Unfortunately, the ambient sounds would sometimes disappear, and the forest is almost entirely silent during sections where I’m backtracking to old areas. CBE Software has noted that a patch will be included at launch to help with music and sound design, so your experience may differ.
Someday You’ll Return is a horror adventure that takes full advantage of its environments to immerse the players in a supernatural narrative. However, direction ends up being an issue as one missed item will require aimless backtracking that removes you from any tense elements. Instead, you are quickly reminded that you are still playing a game. Nevertheless, if you’re up for some interesting Czech lore with a strong cast of characters, then this is one game that you’ll easily enjoy.
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