Friday 10 April 2020

Dark Game Review: We Went Back (PC)

Dark Game Review: We Went Back (PC)

Review by Casey Douglass

We Went Back

There are so many cautionary tales about going back to things you shouldn’t. Never go back to a lit firework. Never go back to someone who treats you badly. Yet we’re human, we’re idiots, we go back. We Went Back is a free sci-fi horror game from Dead Thread Games, and even though by the end, I wasn’t sure what we “went back” to, or why for that matter, I’m kind of glad “we” did. Okay, I’m banning myself from doing “this” again in this review, unless I’m quoting something I said.

We Went Back begins with your character inside a stasis-chamber, being helpfully prompted to Press E to open the thing. The computer system warns of a life form being detected, and if you’ve cut your teeth on the space horror genre, you'll be itching to see what this life form is. Unless it’s space fleas of course, in which case you'll just itch. You move off to explore and find a camera hanging from the roof. This is an important item; it’s your way of solving the puzzle that spans the game. You then come to a door that will only open with the correct password. Opening this is your goal, and the puzzle that you have to solve.

We Went Back is a game in which you explore the corridors and the items in them, trying to find clues that will help you enter the correct password. You only really walk in one direction, and seem to make a circuit of the space station. You soon find yourself back where you started, but each time around the circle reveals new things, and these sometimes come with a jump-scare. The creepy horror atmosphere is handled nicely and I was pleased that the game also managed to create insidious and more subtle tension too. The jump-scares got me twice, one even causing me to shout: “Fuck me!” which doesn’t happen that often.

It was the more insidious type of fear that I enjoyed the most. There is a rat in a science lab that you pass early in the game. When things started happening on another rotation, I stopped short at that spot and realised that the rat was gone! This startled me and wowed me in equal measure as it genuinely felt like an “Ohh!” moment. I’ll also add, that it isn’t the end of the tale (tail?) as far as the rat is concerned, so I haven’t robbed the rat of all its mystery.

On a technical level, I played the game at 1080p, all settings turned to high on my GTX 970. It ran smoothly but I detected a slight judder to things when I looked around at times. The game recommends a 960 at minimum so maybe my 970 is too close to the lower end? Who knows. It wasn’t any kind of problem, just something I noticed. The graphical style of the environment and the objects it contains is pleasing. The life-form that you catch sight of at times was probably the least impressive visual element. The music/ambient sounds did a fine job of setting the atmosphere too, and married with the 70's style sci-fi aesthetic, does help you to feel like you are stuck in some kind of retro-sci-fi space flick.

We Went Back is a short game. The developer says it’s a 30-50 minute experience. My first playthrough clocked in at 28 minutes, and I didn’t rush. I think it’s well worth the download. If I remember rightly, the download size (not install size) was 2.5 gigabytes, so even if you have a crappy connection like mine, you can soon grab it in a couple of hours. I think the best thing I can say is that if it was a 30 minute section in a much longer game, I’d have been happy to play on to see what else might happen. As it stands, it’s a fun 30 minute horror experience that did make me jump, and I’m happy with that.

Click the link to go to the We Went Back page on the Steam Store.

Game Title: We Went Back
Game Developer: Dead Thread Games
RRP: Free!
Released: 3 April 2020
Platform: PC