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Like a sweetroll; short, but sweet and filling

Been a while not playing RM games and when I wanted some good RM games, PSYCHE Locke just right at the door. Although I'd like to write the review just after I beat the game, I realized the game's RMN page wasn't up yet so I postponed my review... till now.

I'll take an excerpt of the game's description because I'd like to point out what makes this game interesting.
The main theme of PSYCHE Locke is "Yourself", the concept of identity. The game focuses on Locke, a strange being, a "Psyche", who's trying to retrieve his former self and his lost memories. As a Psyche, Locke has the ability to merge his soul with that of other people, manipulating them. The player can merge with, almost, any NPC he encounters during his playthrough. Possessing someone allows the player to do certain things or talk to certain people, helping him progressing through the game.


You can get what the game has to offer by reading the excerpt, right? Yep, the concept is simple: you walk around, assume direct control of NPCs, and don't get caught along your way making progresses in the game.

Since the strongest element of this game is the puzzle, the player (or Locke, if you please) has an interesting ability to control NPCs throughout levels. Basically you need to pull out the most of the NPCs around you for your advantage, including but not limited to: picking locks, using terminals and pushing away some obstacles. However, the room for mistakes in this game is surprisingly slim; make one mistake, and you'll have to restart from the latest checkpoint. Might be frustrating for some players, I'd say.

Story: The story revolves around… you, or Locke, if you will. As clueless as players might be in the first playthrough, Locke doesn’t know what he really have to do until Aidi comes into the scene and guides you throughout the story. The plot thickens like chicken onion soup when Locke’s hinted with some bits of Jade’s past and Will slips through the story, helping Locke to get out of the city. I don’t wanna spoil the most of it since the game has some interesting plot twists, so go check it out yourself!

Gameplay: Making use of NPCs as tool for Locke’s advantage is neat; this is a moment of truth for such interesting concept when taken correctly. Although, players who just got their hands into the game need to get used with how it works. Note that Locke can control NPCs in short time and he can regain his own control anytime by pressing a button.
What makes better about this concept is Locke may release his soul to wander around and scout his surroundings. Might feels like not an actual function for it but well, it works. *shrug*
The Mind Palace is also a great source of gathering information about what kind of NPC you’re about to control and how to pull the most of them for making your progresses. However, I find this part is kinda… well, repetitive at best. The NPC’s mind tends to repeat its messages, and you can’t interact with anything else than Aidi’s mirage, which pratically ends this intel-gathering part.
The game revolves around stealth element as well, and once Locke’s caught it’s game over. Might be frustrating when the player is in difficult areas, but this what makes the player to git gud.
The least good thing in this part, though, is the inability for the player to save their progresses in safe areas. The game relies on autosave so much; just be careful not to make any behaviors that lead to the game to be soft-locked because of some sort of events, for example.

Characters: Imagine a blank canvas. That’s how I can describe Locke with the least words possible. For other characters like Will and Jade, they’re alright, too. What lacks in this game is the possibility to dig more about the major characters (although you’ll get the big chunks of it near the end of the game). They fit well in a dystopian noir-like setting and this game just did proper justice for them to exist.

Visual: The assets used in PSYCHE Locke looks decent, and the character portraits are reminiscent of old-time anime which taste good in my palate. Barely can feel the cyberpunk vibe in this but it manages to catch the dark vibes for the player to experience.

Music: The ambient BGMs used the game are spot-on, further strengthening the dark vibes the game is meant to have. Also, I was surprised with one of The Ink Spots tracks played in-game. Stunning!

Pros:
- Well-made stealth-based game mechanics
- Well-crafted levels
- An elaborate storyline, simple to follow yet intriguing
- Interesting characters, mainly the Locke himself
- Managed to catch the dark vibes from many aspects

Cons:
- The game is kinda too short for me, at least
- The story is dead linear (I thought there are some consequences for different actions but well, it's meant to be linear)
- Some scenes might need a bit flavoring
- Actions are rather limited, though some controlled NPCs offer different stuffs
- Little replay value

Final Verdict: An enjoyable short game, might as well it can be said has a size of bite-sized sweetroll. If you like some games with light puzzles, relatively short playtime and a story that might make you wonder the longer you play it, PSYCHE Locke is right for you!

Posts

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OldPat
OrudoPatto, kisama!
4948
Thank you very much for the review, richter!^^

I'm really glad you enjoyed the game. I know, it is extremely short and that is a bit of a shame but that allowed me to focus a lot on polishing the whole thing in a small amount of time.

A lot of people criticized the fact that you had to go through the Mind Palace everytime. I thought putting Aidi close to the player when entering was enough for this to not feel annoying. But given the amount of criticism, I will work on that in order to make you skip it, if you want to, after the first time you merged with someone.

I too would've loved to be thorough with everyone's characterization, but I felt like giving the necessary bits without overdoing it was enough and the best choice, in order to make narration as "smooth" as possible. Although I think characters like Jade are explored quite a bit, especially towards the end. The fact is that PSYCHE Locke is never... apparent when it comes to characterization. It just give hints through the various Mind Palaces.

If you fancy some complex character development and characterization, give Karma Flow a go when you got the time :P

Anyway thank you again for this review, richter. I will work on the cons, where possible, for future updates.^^
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