Literature is filled with tales of the mysteries of time travel. People have long claimed that the ability to shift through different times exists, and only the most gifted, rich, and powerful are allowed to be aware of its existence. If you had the power to jump through time, what would you do with it? Would you use it for personal gain? Or would you look to improve mankind, and right some wrongs? The Great Perhaps is a tale about a spaceman named Kosmos, he inadvertently gains the power of time travel and uses his gift to try to save his family and humanity. The Great Perhaps has been developed by Caligari Games and published by Drageus Games. This time-travelling puzzle game asks you to work off a linear storyline, where you must move from the present day to the past. You solve the problems that arise and eventually piece together the mystery of what has occurred on Earth.
The story unfolds across 14 chapters. The action opens with a cinematic that shows Kosmos stuck in space, observing a world-ending event. The disaster enforcing him to enter cryosleep, he is awoken 100 years into the future with no idea of what has happened on the planet surface. L9 his trusty AI computer asks to join him on his mission to Earth, after all, no one wants to be left alone for all eternity. The pair forms an unlikely partnership that brings clarity and humour to what is otherwise a situation of loss and despair. As you land on a polluted and bleak looking world, you are advised that one life form is present. You eagerly rush to its location, only to find no person, just the existence of a brass lantern. Once the light is obtained, life is never the same again. The landscape changes, it’s clearly the same location, just not the same time. The air is clear, and the buildings are colourful and pristine, more importantly, people are alive. As the lantern’s power fades, a hulking shadow creature is standing over you in the present. Time travel has got the beast’s attention. You must evade its wrath, and escape, all with the knowledge that it will continually stalk you until it obtains the lantern for itself.
The title itself is an unusual and charming puzzle adventure, where you must combine both past and present to overcome the problems that you face. Fallen debris may be avoided by simply switching on your lantern and using a different time zone to your advantage. Items present at one point will be required to power switches, and repair electrical goods at another. Each chapter that you face contains its own unique issues and none of the problems transfer across to the other levels. This made understanding and working out each puzzle much easier, as you weren’t concerned with anything other than what was happening in front of you. I bet some of you are saying, “But that will make it too easy, puzzle games are meant to be challenging!” And you’d be absolutely correct. Though, I found a lot of the solutions were not straightforward, and there had to be a number of Eureka moments in order to stumble across the solution.
The game style felt very similar in both design and look to Terry Pratchett’s Disc World Noir. The puzzles are often solved by interacting with the dry and witty NPC’s. Strangely, they are often painfully unaware of the bizarre nature of a spaceman wandering around their city. For me, this highlights an underlying theme, that our own self centred and selfish behaviours are the main reason for our own demise. Even though our main protagonist is there to save mankind, he ultimately wants to know about his family, and he wants to be able to put them first.
The stalking shadow beast isn’t always present, but when it does appear, the level focusses on evading its long grabbing arms. For me, these puzzles were the best part of the game. Don’t get me wrong, all of them were clever, and fun to solve, but the added element of fear and pressure got the adrenaline pumping. It would have been nice if the developers had used this puzzle and action mechanic with other NPC’s. Most of the other problems can be approached with a slow and methodical pace, which was great, but, to mix the gameplay up a bit with some more time-restricted puzzles would have been the cherry on top of the cake.
The Great Perhaps is absolutely stunning with its graphical approach. The landscapes that you wander through are both beautiful, and desolate, the constant mix of destruction, and perfection blends wonderfully. Caligari Games have done a brilliant job of creating an interesting world to experience. A varying colour palette emphasises the emotions of each period. The fun and carefree attitude of the past with its bright and vivid colours juxtapose the bland and sad beige and brown images of the doomed present. The character models are all detailed with crisp lines, they add fun and personality to the story. I couldn’t get over how great it looks for an Indie title.
Silence is such a key element to creating suspense and atmosphere, which The Great Perhaps uses perfectly. Music was, however, utilised during a number of levels where it plays softly in the background and doesn’t overpower the story, or the action which is unravelling before you. The minor tones in most of the songs only serve to compound the feeling of despair and loss, and the echoed thuds of your footsteps are a constant presence. They remind Kosmos that he is truly alone!
The gameplay opens with a very basic tutorial, no more is needed than this, as it’s so simple to pick up and play. Effectively, it’s; Move, Jump, pick up, and use the item. If you need to throw something, you are given an arc on the screen that indicates its trajectory, so it’s all very easy to master. Picking up objects doesn’t require you to be in a certain area, as long as you are within the vicinity, it’ll scoop up the item for you. If I was to look for a small gripe with this game, it would have to be a lack of inventory space. There were a number of times where several items are required, and you are forced to chop and change between them, instead of just carrying it all. Kosmos carries a backpack, so goodness knows what’s in there. All I know is it’s definitely not puzzle solving objects.
The unfortunate thing with any title in the puzzle genre is the lack of replay value. I mean, once you’ve solved all the problems, why would you go back? The story of The Great Perhaps is excellent, but I don’t need to replay the game to know that. If the developers had implemented an NG+ mode, where the puzzles were similar, but the solutions were different. Then I’d be all over it in a heartbeat, unfortunately, however, it doesn’t. Even the achievement list will fail to bring you back, as the majority of them are earned through natural progression.
When you hear the phrase time-travelling puzzle game, your imagination goes crazy. The last thing I imagined was a dark and melancholy look at mankind’s selfish nature which leads to our own demise. This bleak and sombre adventure is brilliantly punctuated with wit and humour. The puzzles are challenging, but certainly achievable. This makes it a title that will be enjoyed by everyone, from newbies to the veterans of the genre. Would I recommend it? 100% yes! I absolutely loved every minute, and can’t recommend it enough. If you fancy becoming a time traveller and righting the wrongs of mankind, now is the time. Grab your space suit and your lantern. Past and present no longer matter when the fate of mankind hangs in the balance.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The Great Perhaps Review
Gameplay - 9/10
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 8/10
Replay Value - 5/10
Can you go into the past to right the wrongs of the present? Only time will tell!
- Incredible graphics.
- Atmospheric audio.
- Simple controls.
- Brilliant gameplay mechanics.
- Low replay value.