Review code graciously provided by Drageus Games. This will have no bearing on my review, opinion or recommendation. Rest assured, integrity is what Games With Toasty is all about.
Not quite so great…
Games as a medium, are uniquely positioned to make us feel things, and contemplate themes or topics other forms of media can only dream of. Being able to interact directly with a story and its characters, no matter how scripted it may be, is a powerful tool that has been used for decades to great effect. It is a shame then, that The Great Perhaps fails to truly capitalise on this, and instead manages to feel cheap – in more ways than one.
You are Kosmos, an astronaut who has woken up from a one hundred year slumber. Your last memory was of an explosion that seemingly wiped out all of mankind – your wife and child included. Overwhelmed with the news of his family’s death, Kosmos asks his ship’s AI, L9, to turn off the oxygen. It is an emotional first scene, that sets up Kosmos as a man who has lost everything and will either die now, or have to overcome whatever demons that haunt him. L9 refuses to turn off the oxygen, and instead suggests they go to earth to try and uncover the truth.
The Great Disappointment
As an introduction, this is quite hard hitting. A main character with suicidal ideation is not exactly light in terms of emotional weight afterall. I can look past the somewhat quick jump from “I want to die…” to “Let’s go on an adventure!” to an extent as the game has to start, but what follows next is something that really highlights everything that is wrong with The Great Perhaps, from a narrative perspective. What I mean is, nothing happens. The game rarely touches on Kosmos’s family or thoughts again, and I was left feeling like it was a cheap attempt at garnering an emotional response, without having to put in the work.
This is compounded by the rest of the story however, as every character and potentially thought provoking theme tackled from here on out, is surface level at best. It will throw suicide, or depression at you, trivilise the matter before dropping it like it was never there to begin with. These brief bursts of forced emotional investment are brought on artificially by throwing the mental health equivalent of the kitchen sink at you at regular intervals. These are empty, flaccid attempts at creating a connection with the player that successfully took me out of whatever world the game was trying to create.
The issues don’t end with the story however, as The Great Perhaps is a puzzle game once you shovel all of the drivel off of its empty shell. The puzzles in question almost exclusively boil down to finding a few objects and putting them somewhere else. This could be feeding an alcoholic clowns addictions, to putting a key in a hole. Whatever the reason may be, mechanically they are the same. As the game progresses, the items required to solve any one puzzle will be scattered across ever growing areas, and will often require multiple items. At first, this is fine. A little bit of backtracking is required, but it is egregious. Later on though, the limitations of the system start to break through, namely Kosmos’s inability to hold more than one item. It is not uncommon to trapse back and forth multiple times, and it feels like padding. Which is especially notable considering the game is barely 2 hours long.
What makes The Great Perhaps stand out, is the magical time travelling lamp you find fairly early on. As you would expect, this mcguffin allows Kosmos to travel between the past and the present at will. This is used as a means to make the puzzle solving more interesting as certain areas may not be passable in one time, or an item may not exist in another etc. It is well implemented for the most part, although it is not perfect. When you travel to the past, an invisible timer will start ticking. Once that timer hits 0, you are forced back to the present. This often resulted in me dying as I appeared above a hazard or enemy knocking me back to the closest checkpoint. Needless to say, this helped pad the game out a bit more. It is worth noting that there is a sound cue indicating when you are about to run out of time, but as a system, there is very little reason why it should have been implemented in the first place.
Despite being rather disappointing in most aspects, The Great Perhaps is quite impressive visually – at least half of the time. The forcibly depressing nature of the game is given a tad more substance by the dark, grim, hand drawn presentation. The muted palette, the abundance of skeletons and a surprising amount of environmental storytelling, really help make this world feel depressing. When you jump to the past however, things turn a bit garish, and the artstyle, for me, cheapened quite significantly. The colours are vibrant, the world is alive with all kinds of people, which is all well and good, but because of the artistic direction the developers went with, it almost looks like a flash game. This is made all the more noticeable by the incredibly poor animations which, regardless of time, make the game look rather cheap.
Where the game excels however, is in its music. In either time, it successfully manages to evoke all the right emotions. In the present there is an almost palpable feeling of dread from a slow, atmospheric, ambient track. In the past, things were much brighter and upbeat. Where the visuals failed to capture each period effectively, the sound absolutely nails it. Unfortunately the voice acting is pretty damn awful, with most lines being cringe inducing at best, or painful at worst.
The Great Perhaps is a game that starts with a surprising amount of promise, regardless how unpolished it may initially seem. Unfortunately it squanders this potential with its poorly implemented story, tokenistic themes and the tedious nature of its puzzles. As a result, I cannot recommend The Great Perhaps. What was once a very possible maybe, is now most certainly, a definite nope.
Toast Seal Of Disapproval
The Great Perhaps may have been quite the disappointment, however if you are into 2D platformers, then maybe you would be interested in my Mega Man and Castlevania marathon. If puzzles are more your cup of tea, then how about Mars Power Industries. If you want an engaging, emotional story, then I recommend checking out We. The Revolution.
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