From Developer Painted Black Games and Publisher Merge Games comes The Long Reach, an action-adventure game filled with a gorgeous pixelated graphic design and a premise that attempts to mess with your psychological stability rather than just scare you outright.
In the small town of Baervox in present day New Hampshire, you’re controlling a young man on his way to the c-store to pick up a few things. Upon entering, you come across a pretty weird situation where a man is nibbling the hand and fingers of one of the workers. Thinking nothing of it, you head to the back of the store to find what you came for, but as you head out your worst fear is realized! The madman nibbling on the worker has gone for more, killing the worker and escaping from the store! What is going on in this weird town, and what has compelled this strange behavior?
The Long Reach functions primarily as a 2D sidescrolling title with a heavy emphasis on exploration and interaction with a variety of objects scattered throughout your environment. What makes the game tricky is the way in which you are tasked with solving a good number of smaller puzzles in order to solve the larger puzzles that are required to progress forward in the game. Often times the clues given are environmental rather than textural, so if you attempt to progress too quickly through any specific portion of the game there are things you may miss, making the experience feel drawn out and frustrating at times, but when you do finally figure out some of the challenging puzzles it is an incredibly gratifying feeling.
One of my favorite elements of the game was the darkness and grit of the dialogue, which can at times be incredibly heavy and at other times be quite comedic. This works really well in regards to helping give the characters more believability and humanity. This also makes us care more about them as players and given the circumstances of the devastation that is going on around them, caring for them forces us to commit more fully to the gameplay experience offered in this title and is something that helps make the experience of playing the game more memorable and worthwhile.
With all of that being said, this game still has its fair share of flaws that inhibit the gameplay experience from being truly great. There is a semi-consistent issue with your ability to interact with doors and items that causes you to miss out on things that are often essential to forward progress in the game. Aside from this mechanic issue, the dialogue and text is sometimes hard to understand with characters frequently using words that make no sense in the context of the moment. I’m not sure if this decision was an intentional one or if this was something that was quite literally lost in translation, but it is definitely a downside.
Like I said earlier in this review, so much of The Long Reach is about exploration and interaction with the environment around you, and it really is quite the environment that this development team has created. The pixelated graphic style works well here for how bland and minimalistic some of the textures and environmentsare in direct contrast with the bright colors used to bring out specific areas of the world. By relying so heavily on environmental exploration, this had to be done well otherwise clues will be missed, ultimately creating that frustrating gameplay experience I also talked about earlier.
Additionally, the sound design does a great job of adding to the creepy and suspenseful environment the game sets itself in. Too often developers rely heavily on either one or the other (sound or graphics) to create the feelings of dread and suspense, but with this game I felt that a great balance was struck between the two, helping to create a genuinely unique and eerie experience.
While not perfect, The Long Reach is an excellent homage to environmental horror games like Lone Survivor and many others that came before it. By combining a truly unique disease premise, dark and witty dialogue, an incredibly thought out environment full of challenging puzzles to solve, and a very reasonable price point of $14.99 this game is a definite NintenDeal for fans of horror, puzzle, and adventure games and will be one I hope you enjoy as much as I did.
Platform – Nintendo Switch eShop Download
Publisher – Merge Games
Developer – Painted Black Games
Price – $14.99
Genre – Action, Adventure, Other
Size – 448MB
A native of Minnesota, Brandon has been an avid Nintendo fan for as long as he can remember and enjoys being able to escape into the vast worlds offered in their games. Some of his favorite games include: Pokemon Blue & Silver, Earthbound, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Risk of Rain 2, and of course LoZ: Breath of the Wild.
Outside of gaming Brandon enjoys riding motorcycle, listening to music or podcasts, cooking, watching movies, and is a big sports fan. He is always carrying his Switch with him wherever he goes, so feel free to add him if you’d like to lose at MK8D.