Has this ever happened to you? A murder has been committed at a party you attend, and you trail the killer only to be either shot or lose their trail? Have you ever wished you could go back in time and change the past in real time as you remember it? Well, now you can with RE:CALL from developer Maitan69 and publisher Whitethorn Games!
I originally played the demo for RE: CALL in 2021. The game’s opening scene is the same but is now more artistically and stylistically refined. The characters have been redesigned, some drastically like Chester Make-Believe, and it’s definitely an improvement. The color palettes pop more, the characters are more visually attractive, and the details have been polished. In the demo/first chapter, you play as “Javier,” but you soon move on to become the true protagonist, Bruno.
You play as reluctant detective Bruno, who, after unexpectedly getting invited to a party at popular rich girl Henrietta’s home, becomes wrapped up in a series of decidedly strange crimes and events. Not only has there been a murder, but you have also gained a friend called Harry, whom you have no memory of but insists has been your friend forever. You are also pretty sure some kind of specter is haunting you.
Totally normal things are happening!
RE:CALL’s Gameplay Has A Clever Hook
In the last day or so, Bruno has acquired a special ability and feels like a ghost of sorts is following him around. That ghost is you, the player who joins him just as the strange things begin. He can now go back and alter events in the past by changing his memories in the present. This means that he can wander around, changing things and gathering clues in the past and see the results in real time in the future. Decide to punch someone in the past? The resulting stun and injury will happen in the present. Lock a door in the past? The door will be locked later on when you need it to be.
This means that there is an element of trial and error, and in some cases, you have to fail to progress. There’s no restart option, so if you realize you are on the wrong path or accidentally select the wrong choice (I am the person doing this), you have to see the scenario through until you can start over. Some paths are clear from the start but aren’t open to you until you complete a certain action or discover a specific clue. Some things are decidedly less obvious.
This aspect of the gameplay can be minorly frustrating, especially if you see the solution early on. But to be honest, it is pretty fun exploring the area and figuring out what you need in the game to piece everything together and make the solution work.
As the game progresses, little morsels are dropped surrounding a larger plot. The Happy Havoc Murders, the truth about an old schoolmate Violet and the truth about your current nemesis, the pompous Lucas Brightside. Bruno is an outsider and about…15lbs overweight, so of course, everyone bullies him for being fat because they are teenagers…or possibly college age. The game is actually quite witty and filled with humor, but it doesn’t lie in the fat jokes, which is, of course, the point. Instead, it lies in the weirdness of the characters, the bizarreness of the situations, and the dialogue between Bruno and his compadres.
A Third Act Stumble
The game falls slightly in the latter half, where the time-traveling, memory-altering mechanics disappear.
There’s still a puzzle-solving aspect, but it definitely suffers from the change becoming less of a standout than its first half. The story is still compelling, but the sparkle of the early gameplay is missing. On the whole, RE:CALL is a fun experience. It’s relatively short, visually interesting, and for the most part, an innovative playing experience with some fun characters and environments. I will definitely be RECALLING it for some time.
(I’m surely the only person that has made this joke.)
RE:CALL is available now on Nintendo Switch, Xbox, and Steam.