Since the launch of the SpaceX mission to the International Space Station around a month ago, it has massively peaked my interest in space exploration and anything to do with the solar system and everything else related to space. This interest has carried over to video games for me so I’ve been revisiting games such as No Man’s Sky, Stellaris and new titles such as Deliver Us To The Moon.
With this in mind when I got wind of The Great Perhaps I knew I had to play it. The Great Perhaps is a time travel puzzle game where an astronaut returns to earth destroyed by natural cataclysms. Developed by Caligari Games and published by Drageus Games, the game landed on Steam for PC on 14th August 2019 and now it is the turn of consoles. The Great Perhaps is arriving on Xbox One, Playstation 4 and Nintendo Switch on 10th July 2020 so you don’t have too much longer to wait to get your hands on it.
Now I didn’t do too much reading into this game before my playthrough on Xbox One X. The reason for this is that I feel space exploration games are best left a total surprise and whilst The Great Perhaps is a very linear title, the element of surprise is what this game will thrive on. We’ve all thought in our minds about what it’s like to travel backwards or forwards through time. I’m pretty sure that the answer for most of us will be the fact we would all love to go backwards, relive our youth again and perhaps do things very differently.
The Great Perhaps opens with a fantastic cutscene that shows the astronaut Kosmos working in space on a space station when he unfortunately encounters a catastrophic event down on planet Earth. Now I can only imagine what it would look and feel like looking down on our home to see something terrible happen. The thoughts and feelings you’d experience, the mystery of whether anyone is still alive, your family and friends and whether they survived, the feeling of hope even though you are absorbed with the thought of hopelessness. The way this title opened really peaked my imagination and you don’t experience this in video games often as you’re often playing out the story as you go along.
Now whilst Kosmos has just witnessed a truly horrific event. The AI supercomputer places him into a deep sleep as a safety precaution to allow the dust to settle on earth, so to speak. What Kosmos doesn’t know is that he’s actually been asleep for 100 years and he is awoken with the same deep thoughts he experienced all that time ago. Kosmos now must venture down to planet Earth to uncover the mystery of what has occurred and what is still left down there.
Once you land back on Earth it’s clear to see that it has been smashed to pieces. Almost immediately after landing, you uncover an old lantern which becomes the key part of your inventory. The old lantern has a magic touch in the fact it will not only light up the area surrounding you, but you’ll even be able to revisit the scenes of what it appeared like before the catastrophic events of 100 years prior took place. I personally loved this touch and again got my tiny brain thinking of how it would feel to be in the shoes of Kosmos. The pain and hurt of your family gone, and everything swallowed up by it. The lantern giving you a brief window of happier memories as a visual tale instead of memory imprints.
There is slight hope though, as the lantern gives you the ability to hop back to this window of the past, to potentially alter what has become by fixing the past. At this stage we are unaware whether any of this will work, but by using the physics we have of time travel it’s down to Kosmos to attempt to revisit the past and try to fix it for the sake of the entire human race. Now whilst reading, this seems interesting and an exciting concept for a game. Its story is absolutely mind blowing and magnificent, however the end product here for The Great Perhaps is a puzzle game. This involves using the time travel concept to negotiate items and manpower from one era to another to resolve the issues that took place.
This is what makes The Great Perhaps one of the most unique games I’ve ever played. I can’t recall a game I’ve experienced where I have jumped back and forth through a century of time to get things done. It all sounds like a scene right out of a Bill and Ted movie, but its execution is fantastic and it’s brilliant to watch develop as you work through the events. Whilst you play the whole game in a 2D element, the visuals are clean, crisp and stunningly colourful. It is on par with a South Park game, for instance, in the fact you feel like you’re playing through a feature-length cartoon.
When slowly making your way through the present time after the catastrophic events of 100 years ago. It’s a depressing hollow world of destruction with crumbled and fallen buildings, nothing but piles of rubble. Human remains have now decayed to skeletons which lay dormant on the ground. Now when I mentioned that the lantern was a key part of the inventory, it is literally your eyes and ears of both your past and future. Light up the lantern and the depression aftermath of the present disappears and is like a beam of light showing up the past. Whilst you’re in the past you can also go back to see in the present day, which is technically your future at this point. Mind-boggling, isn’t it? But is works really well, and I found myself trying to see how everything had changed from its past version.
One thing to note is, even though you can see into that past you aren’t travelling back into that time period. So you won’t be visible to the people on that timeline. Imagination gets you thinking again, I can see them, but they can’t see me, are they still actually living now and is this really real? I found myself asking so many unanswered questions and that is the beauty of The Great Perhaps in the fact that your imagination runs wild. Whilst you’re probably thinking what is the point in the lantern if you can see the past but not be within it? Well, the answer to this is it is key to survival as you’ll be going down the tunnels and crevices and the lantern will save you from being pinned under a pile of rubble or hit by a moving train. There are also military personnel and other objects that will get in your way, and this is where the puzzle solving process comes in. Sometimes it will take you a few attempts to get right, but it is satisfying to suss out what you have to do and then execute it perfectly.
One thing that was a little underwhelming and disappointing to me is that even though you’ll come across people, there isn’t much in the way of conversation if you decide to try to speak to them. It is very brief and I can’t help but think more could have been added here to heighten the story, whilst it doesn’t dampen the feeling of the game I felt like more could have been done here. It’s crystal clear that the biggest factor of the game is the time travel and puzzle aspects and not the dialogue or backstory. The linear prospect of the title makes you wish you could go off and explore a lot more. I kept thinking if this story was put into a triple A title with a bigger budget, it would be a massive hit. You have to salute the team who developed The Great Perhaps for the main story and imagination put into the game.
It is difficult for me to go into great detail about the puzzle solving as it’s such a key part of the game that I don’t want to spoil your playthrough. The puzzles aren’t insanely hard to master, but some will require a few tries to pull off correctly. You don’t need to hammer through difficult puzzle based games to get this right and they won’t really have you scratching your head as such. The AI which assisted you in space comes down to Earth with you so you may get some little pointers if you do get stuck. Overall, though, I really enjoyed flitting between past and present (future) whilst uncovering the world I was seeing. The unknown is what keeps you progressing, or at least it did with me. The solid story wanted me to see the campaign all the way through.
The one and only thing that saddened me was how short this was. It took me a little over two hours to finish when I was expecting it to be longer. The only reason I was sad is because I enjoyed my time with it so much I didn’t want it to end so quickly. What is pleasing that at the time of writing the game is listed at £6.71 (UK Price) on launch on Xbox One at a discounted rate, the usual price is £8.39 (UK Price).
For how short it was though, I would thoroughly recommend it. Whilst I longed for more you won’t play a game the same as this one, I loved all aspects of the initial storyline, to the puzzle solving, using the lantern to uncover everything to the little surprise touching moments thrown in for good measure. It is exceptionally well done, and they have done an amazing job to capture all the time travel elements not only technically but artistically too. The characters you’ll come across are well designed and the landscapes and their backdrops are beautifully done, even in the distraught aftermath of everything that has gone on.
The sound effects were solid enough with the music capturing the mood of both worlds in a fitting way. There is an option to add subtitles which I always welcome in a game as I personally like to have them on in any game with dialogue.
Despite its short playthrough and many questions I’d love to be answered through the game, this is one of the most memorable indie titles I’ve played through. I’d love to have known maybe more information on Kosmos as an individual, the mystery surrounding the lantern, and more. But I guess the true beauty of this game is the charm of it sending your imagination into overdrive like a good book, not that I read but I can imagine it being the same kind of experience. I’d urge anyone who wants to detract from competitive multiplayer experiences for a short casual, relaxing game, then this is for you.
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 - 8.5/10
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 6.5/10
Replay Value - 5/10
The Great Perhaps is a truly unique journey depicted by time travel, albeit a very short experience it is one which will spur your deep imagination and take you on an emotional voyage.
- Sends your imagination wild and puzzle solving is great fun.
- Fantastic visuals even through the matter of destruction.
- Transferring through the time travel aspect is well executed.
- Very short at 2-3 hours playthrough.
- Could have done with more expansion on storyline and more dialogue from in game characters.
- Linear experience doesn’t make it a bad game, but more exploration of the world would have been welcomed.