The 2D sidescrolling genre isn't often home to horror titles, but The Long Reach changes that. Featuring a bleak art style, excellent tension building, and frightening moments, the game would be perfect if it weren't for confusing elements.
Get ready to trip out
In The Long Reach, you play as a man named Stuart who is participating in a scientific experiment. However, the experiment goes awry, and suddenly you find yourself in the middle of what seems like an LSD episode. However, the hallucinations you see appear to be real, and they will kill you if you don't find a way to get away.
This is The Long Reach's core gameplay; progress through a hell that makes you question Stuart's sanity, while finding ways to avoid the clutches of the various monsters and maniacs that populate it. The mechanics involved in doing this are simple, as your only options are moving left and right, sprinting, and interacting with certain objects. Things become challenging when you have to use these mechanics in order to discover and access a route to escape.
This is good fun at some points, especially when you're down to the wire and the threat is closing in on you. However, a lot of the time it's frustrating because the solutions to many of the puzzles are confusing and hidden extremely well. This wouldn't be a problem if your attackers were slow, but they aren't. Often times, they can catch and kill you in seconds.
The story is also told rather poorly. It's clear that it's supposed to be hard to understand, but there's never the "aha!" moment these types of narratives need. In other words, the puzzle pieces never get put together, and you're left not really knowing what you just experienced when the credits roll.
Intensity to the max
While the gameplay and storytelling of The Long Reach suffer from issues, the presentation is on point. The pixel graphics work surprisingly well with the game's dark aesthetic, and the use of muted shades of color accents this perfectly. Music and sound are also used masterfully; audio is often absent from the title's more calm moments, making the moments where it blares sharply in tandem with a scary event even more impactful.
The Long Reach also runs flawlessly. There were no performance issues during my playthrough, and this smooth experience ensured that the game's superb atmosphere was the center of attention, not bugs or glitches.
Should you buy The Long Reach?
While the gameplay and story of The Long Reach are lacking in a lot of ways, its look, sounds, and feel encapsulate the best of the horror genre. Therefore, I think it's a good game you shouldn't miss, despite the problems it has.
- Excellent atmosphere.
- Easy to learn mechanics.
- Creative take on horror.
- Confusing gameplay.
- An even more confusing story.
So should you buy it? Yes, assuming everything described here sounds attractive to you. The Long Reach is available now on Xbox One for $14.99.
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