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If this looks like your bag, play it.

  • Sooz
  • 03/22/2020 10:25 PM
  • 1366 views
Remnants is very much what you see on the tin: wandering around someplace, enjoying some very cool visuals and music. You probably already know from the gamepage whether this is your bag or not. If it is, I recommend giving it a shot. It took me about a half hour to play through, so it's not exactly a big investment if it ends up disappointing.

The immediate draw is, of course, the visuals. I was very impressed with the beauty and variety of the artwork; each room has its own interesting theme, heavily detailed and very well-rendered, albeit with a very simple style and limited palette. It's all quite intriguing and imaginative. I had some problems with looking at the very bright and saturated colors for so long, but the game's short and varied enough that it wasn't a big deal.

My only big quibble is with the character design, a problem that comes from the limited palette: too often, the player character blends into the surrounding image. This doesn't have a big impact on playability, but in a game where the design is such an important feature, I felt that the character should stick out a bit more visibly. (Making the cloak white or gray would help a lot in that respect.)

The second big draw is the soundtrack. I was wary when I saw it described as "experimental," which can imply a... difficult auditory time ahead. Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised with music that was thoroughly enjoyable. It's very moody and atmospheric, complementing the strange visuals and lonely journey, while remaining low-key enough not to overpower the experience. Excellent choice.

The weakest area, in my eyes, was in the gameplay and narrative. Paradoxically, if Remnants were as lacking in exposition and dialog as, say, Yume Nikki, this wouldn't have been a big issue. My problem was that, in imposing a bare framework of story and character, the game took away my ability to draw my own conclusions (and therefore a large facet in making the exploration intriguing) and replaced it with a story and character that don't have a whole lot to offer.

There's little sense of cohesion or connection; you wander in places, look at things, and then move on to another place. The places and things are individually fascinating, but mostly could be rearranged without really changing the feel of the game. It's a fairly flat experience.

Similarly, the joy of looking at EVERY. SINGLE. THING!!! is reduced when the character doing the looking has little in the way of personality. At best, the character adds sensory information or other details that aren't clear from just looking at the image; at worst, it's just a flat description of what's there (occasionally with the addition that they feel uneasy looking at it). I certainly understand the difficulty of making this commentary interesting (I made the Lobster Quest games, after all!) but the level of undercharacterization really made me feel like I would have been better off with nothing at all.

The gameplay had a similar problem: by adding the element of "keys" blocking progress (and an inability to go back after finishing a level), the game becomes much more linear and, paradoxically, much less fun to play than if it were simply an open exploration. With the linearity comes an expectation of rising action or tension, and that's something the game simply can't deliver while promising a low-key, exploration-based experience. It would have been much, much better served as a simple "walking simulator" style game, or at least one without such a strongly linear path.

Ultimately, however, these are very minor points; it doesn't live up to what it could potentially be, but it's still quite impressive, enjoyable, and worth a shot. I'm very interested to see what this dev comes up with in the future.

Posts

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This is a very good review, and I agree with most of what's been said.

I don't think the game had anything I'd call "problems", but one thing that bothered me was that the interaction descriptions get a bit repetitive and dull. But it's hard to make it interesting considering the amount of interactable objetcs.
Sooz
They told me I was mad when I said I was going to create a spidertable. Who’s laughing now!!!
5354
I think that having a more fully characterized main character would go a long way toward making it less boring; the dialog as written is very workmanlike and bland.

Which wouldn't be a particular problem if it weren't attached to a character! If it were narration, for example, then the player can mentally fill in the blanks of what the character might think of what they're looking at. It's just that, in giving it the character's voice, the game makes it duller without adding enough of a spark of character to make up for it.

Again, this is fairly nitpicky; the main reason I bring it up is that I really liked the game other than a couple of minor points, and I feel like the dev can make something even cooler if they take those points to heart!
Thank you very much for the review! Eventually I'm gonna make another game, which I plan on making 100% open from the ground up, and will only have sparse, clearly signaled interactible objects (which should help with some of the criticism you wrote here). Thank you again for playing my game <3
Sooz
They told me I was mad when I said I was going to create a spidertable. Who’s laughing now!!!
5354
Thank you for making it! It was very cool.
sooz basically hit the points I would've wanted to make about this game. I really, really liked, but I felt the framing device and examine text really took me out of the game. I did like the tension created by the story elements in the bottom couple floors -- I felt like there needed to either be some hard commitment to the narrative elements or striking them out altogether and making it much more vague. Also this is about the only game where I felt like the walking speed was too /fast/, it felt like a crime to move through those rooms so fast when they were all so detailed haha.

(but besides all that, this was a good experience, would not have taken the time to figure what was/wasn't working if I didn't enjoy it)
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