I have played games since the dawn of video games, and I play almost every genre – even if I am not that good. One type of game I have mostly stayed clear of is horror games. It’s not that I don’t like being scared, I love a good horror movie, it’s that most rely solely on jump scares with little actual horror to back it up. But recently, with game reviewing, I have had to venture into this pool a bit more and I am liking what I am seeing. The Long Reach by Painted Black Games and Merge Games is a good example of how horror can be done right.
You play as a musician in the General Education research facility. It’s Christmas time, but everyone is still stuck working, the only solace is the company Christmas Party. You sit at the piano to finish up some work before the party and then something happens. You awake on the floor, a splitting headache, and a sense that something just isn’t right. As you venture out into the facility you soon realize your worst nightmares have come true – and you don’t even have to be asleep to experience them. One of the projects has gone awry and released a gas that causes everyone to hallucinate their nightmares. It is up to you to try and fix the problem and save everyone.
The game is a 2-D side scrolling adventure game filled with psychological horror elements. To work your way through the mysteries of the research facility you will have to gather objects, solve puzzles, talk to those you encounter and try not to die. Clues to your survival and what happened are scattered amid the debris of the facility, and you will have to search everything to uncover the whole truth about what has happened. All the while questioning if what you are seeing is real and if this is all really happening.
The graphics for The Long Reach are something that you would expect from older systems. The old school nature of the graphics gives the title a gritty feel and helps with the feeling of suspense and dread. Dark rooms that are only lit by the soft light of a flashlight exude a sense of doom and have you wondering what may be lurking in the shadows. The music only adds to the atmosphere of the game. Even when you think you are safe, the music will have you on the edge of your seat wondering what is going to happen next.
The Long Reach is out now on Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch, and has been available on PC for a little while. It can be added to your collection for about $15. The game is filled with eerie atmosphere and makes you question what is actually real. The puzzles are interesting, but once you have played through the game it offers little replay value. Also, even if you struggle with some of the puzzles and explore every conversation option, it will only take you about 90 minutes or so to play through the title. Even with an extra playthrough for achievements, the price is a little high. I recommend the game, but would say to grab it when it is on sale.