PlayStation Store, back in the olden days of PlayStation 3, used to be a dead and barren wasteland. A place where high quality indies were a rarity, and low-effort tech demos, crafted by AAA studios were king. And if not for the endless onslaught of Rock Band and Guitar Hero songs, and cheap and tacky Capcom DLC, the store would not even have to update on weekly basis as at times, there was literally nothing of note for weeks, if not months on end. However, once Sony has stepped away from the rather complex PlayStation 3, and turned to the now ruling PlayStation 4, the landscape of the store has changed, and it is now common for the store to update with over a dozen of titles.
This week, PlayStation store will be updated with a plethora of intriguing releases. As between the 13th and 16th of March, seven brand new titles will grace PlayStation’s digital store front. And while The Council, Q.U.B.E. 2, Devil May Cry HD Collection, and Burnout Paradise remastered may be the main attractions of the update, they are not the only games being released this week. As in addition, PlayStation Store will also feature a sci-fi, psychological thriller, titled The Long Reach, which is likely going to be consumed by the wide array of this week’s releases.
The Long Reach, is a side scrolling adventure, which on its surface follows an outbreak of neurological disease which turns humans into blood thirsty monsters, which act like they’ve been pulled straight out of 28 Days Later. However, as the title progresses, its horror elements transform, and the rather plain horror title, turns into a full-blown thriller, full of conspiracy elements, betrayal, supernatural themes, and lastly, Matrix’esque intrigue. And while the title’s narrative has been sufficiently crafted in order to support the developers vision, then the same cannot be said about the execution, of such.
At its core, The Long Reach may be featuring a complex and detailed plot, but such doesn’t change the fact that the game at hand is incredibly simple. Its visual façade is limited to pixel art, which has now been grinded to death by the indie industry, and the audio side of things is not much better either. As throughout, The Long Reach, only features a limited number of sound effects, and all in-game conversation, of which there is plenty, all take place in text form. And as deeply as The Long Reach has pulled me in into its world, it was unfortunately not deep enough, for me to stick with reading all the notes, conversations, and the protagonist’s narration. And by the time, I have reached the final third of the title, I was simply mashing X, while skim reading, as I was simply bored of reading inconsequential flavour text, and small talk in full.
Simplicity, does not always have to be seen negatively. But in the case of The Long Reach’s audio-visual façade, the simplicity comes across as rather lazy. But as disappointing as it may be, it is not ultimately not the end of the world, as The Long Reach compensates for its audio and visuals, with rather entertaining mechanics, which facilitate the title’s incredibly satisfying and quirky puzzles, which can be found throughout.
The Long Reach, is a rather short title, as it can be completed within a couple of hours. However, what can be found within those two hours, is fulfilling enough in order to justify the title’s purchase. And while it is difficult to exemplify the title’s gameplay without spoiling too much, then all that really has to be said about it, is that it is not uncommon for the title to have you convince lunatics of your commitment, while nodding with a decapitated head. And while some in-game puzzles may seem a little too suspenseful, due to needless pressure, they do not follow each other one after the other. And all in-game puzzle sequences are separated by moments of tranquillity and exploration.
When it comes to The Long Reach’s visuals, then it has to be said that the simplicity of such, does not work in the title’s favour. But on the other hand, the straight forward nature of The Long Reach’s gameplay, benefits it greatly. However, despite of the fact that The Long Reach does feature limited controls, and gameplay elements, it is unfortunately not devoid of glitches, and other technical quirks. And while not all technical issues can result in a red flash of the Game Over screen, they do unfortunately take a lot away from the possible enjoyment of the title, which is rather disappointing.
At three different points in-game, you will be forced to hide from a lethal maniac. And in order to do so, you’ll have to – just as the horror genre dictates – hide inside of lockers, toilet stalls, and other nooks and crannies. However, if you happen to pause the game, while hiding within either of the above, and move the analogue stick too far to the left or right, it will cause the invisible in-game cursor to move away from your place of safety, and towards a different object. And if you happen to do that while hiding next to a doorway, then you’ll be able to leave, without having your character vacate his hiding spot. Meaning that you can explore multiple in-game locations, without having to risk death.
The above glitch is probably the most immersion destroying, out of all in-game imperfections. And while other bugs such as inactive hot spots, which at times can prevent you from picking up items, or hiding away from danger, are much more common – they ultimately do not allow you to cheat the system, and skip vital portion of the game, which build the suspense and thrill, upon which The Long Reach is built upon. And while some may argue that glitch is a glitch, no matter how severe, then it has to be said that most would rather leave and re-enter a room, in order to pick up a key card, instead of being able to exploit the game, and deprive it of its essence.
The Long Reach may not be a perfect game, hell, it may not even be in the top three games to be released this week. But it doesn’t change the fact that it is a great title regardless, a title which most will enjoy immensely from start to finish. However, no matter how one would try to spin it, there is no denying that The Long Reach will most likely descend into the depths of the PlayStation Store within days. And not just because it has been released at an incredibly wrong time, but also because it will have to compete with the horror title Claire, which unlike The Long Reach, can be downloaded for free by all PS Plus members until the first week of April.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.