Originally a free app for Android and iOS that offered in-app purchases, The Book of Regrets arrived for the PlayStation 4 console on August 22nd, 2017. Remastered for this new platform, The Book of Regrets is part visual novel, part text-based adventure, where Choices Matter and the Adventure is full of monsters and mayhem. The interactive story thrusts the player into a dank dungeon, where danger lurks around every corner. With puzzles, mini-games, and a whole bestiary of monster and demons, can The Book of Regrets stack up against other simplistic Adventure titles on the PS4?
The Book of Regrets is an unforgiving trek into a realm where magic, murder, and monsters are abundant. The player – whose name you can specify at the beginning of the game – is presented with dialog choices, decisions, and puzzles. And this title doesn’t delay in making things brutal; one of the first decisions is a simple Left or Right dilemma, and if my unlocked Achievement can be believed, I didn’t pick the right one. The undertones are always ominous – no matter whom I was speaking to, whether a strange human-looking person or a demon, I always felt on edge. It’s an apt way to feel because The Book of Regrets doesn’t pull any punches. By the time I had unexpectedly died three times, basically because my choice was the wrong one, I had a healthy appreciation for the mortality of the protagonist.
In addition to trying to escape and avoid certain doom, players encounter a storyline that challenges big notions: Life, Death, the value of Regret. Near the beginning of the game, one of the creatures you encounter asks a series of questions to determine the personality of the player. These questions range from basic to thought-provoking, and I can only hope that they subtly influence something in the plot dynamics or mechanics of the game, since it’s a nice feature.
Fortunately, The Book of Regrets employs an Auto Save feature, and the deaths aren’t permanent. When you die, it will sometimes “reset” the room you’re in, at least back a few steps, but the amount of lost time and progress is minimal. It’s a stark contrast to the savagery of the world inside the dungeon. There are timed puzzles and encounters, which require legitimate fast-thinking to avoid a bloody fate; I was surprised by how much fun the puzzles and mini-games are, considering The Book of Regrets still very much resembles your average App Adventure.
Even though the graphics are minimalistic and straightforward, their addition does lend to the Visual Novel feel of the title. Inventory items will pop-up like cards in Magic: The Gathering, but there is no inventory management to speak of. Players simply “use” the appropriate item when they’re in the correct location, or opt to do so as one of their dialog choices. The soundtrack is pleasant but equally simple; however, the sound effects are a nice touch, from the twang of a twig snapping to the grinding chorus of chains dragging across the stone. The voice acting isn’t exemplary, but it does the trick, especially for a lower-budget title like The Book of Regrets.
Regarding accessibility, The Book of Regrets shines in that both voice acting and closed captioning is included in the experience. Players with hearing concerns might miss out on some of the audio samples in the dungeon, but all of the clues I encountered were indicated in the text as well as some sound clue. Also, this title has five supported languages, ranging from English to Spanish, Japanese, and Chinese. The controls are also simple – you select dialog choices with the joystick and use a few of the buttons elsewhere to hit Enter or Back. The learning curve is minimal, and The Book of Regrets is quick and easy to get into.
The amnesiac origin story is a little played-out at this point, but it does allow the player to immerse themselves, in the experience as though they’re the protagonist. The basic graphics and sounds didn’t deter me from enjoying the raw, unforgiving nature of The Book of Regrets. Even the sudden, sporadic instant-death dynamic wasn’t a deal-breaker, especially since this title doesn’t employ permadeath. The puzzles were satisfying, without being too tedious; the story was intriguing, and I enjoyed that I was never certain if someone – or something – I encountered was friend or foe. The game feels very Retro because of its Choices Matter style of decision making, and the nostalgia from this aspect was one of the first things that intrigued me about The Book of Regrets.
Because of the dynamic storytelling, there is potential for some replay value, at least until all of the choices have been explored. The game boasts seven different endings, which is more than enough to keep it interesting for multiple play-throughs. The Book of Regrets takes roughly two hours to complete, but the price tag makes it worth the investment. A platinum trophy is available for achievement hunters, and avatars are available on the PlayStation Store. With over 25,000 downloads on the original App format, The Book of Regret is a successful trek into gaming yesteryear, and I found the experience even more enjoyable than I originally anticipated.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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