Horror needs care to be effective; if it relies on jumpscares, that’s not horror, that’s garbage. But if there’s no payoff at any point…that’s a waste of time, too. So its pleasing to see a developer take on horror and find the perfect balance like Ego Red has with their new title, RE: Turn.
For this review, I’ve been playing the PC version, but the title will also be available on Steam, Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One from October 14th.
In RE: Turn, players take the role of Saki, a Japanese teenager who takes a camping trip with friends to celebrate completing high school, and her upcoming marriage to long-time boyfriend, Sen. But things take a turn when an argument breaks out, and a sudden earthquake unearths what appears to be a strange, abandoned train in the middle of the woods. Quickly separated from her friends, Saki delves into the train, and its deeper mystery, in an effort to find those she loves, and escape an unfolding horror…
As mentioned, the atmosphere of RE: Turn is really good. There’s a sense of dread that draws you deeper in – whether it be subtle noises to outright terrifying encounters, you’ll always be kept on your toes. Saki can only really see what’s ahead in the dark train through her trusty flashlight, leaving her feeling vulnerable as what’s behind you vanishes once again into darkness.
The game relies on logic puzzles for the core of its gameplay. You maneuver Saki using WASD, interacting with items of note in the world with E. You can bring up the inventory with the I button to use items. The puzzles are decent, but there is a fair bit backtracking – understandable considering most of the story takes place in a train. But the puzzles aren’t the real draw here, anyway – its the story.
And that story is quite engaging. I won’t spoil anything, but the history of the train and its occupants during its last journey becomes oddly relevant to Saki in ways she didn’t expect, and the people she thought were her closest friends reveal truths she never expected. It’s quite engaging.
Speaking of engaging, the artwork is simply brilliant. I’m always a sucker for pixel stuff, but the hand-drawn pixel graphics here provide such rich details! The character portraits and cutscene-backdrops feature a more anime-inspired art style, and the latter are far from static: characters breathe, wind blows, and other subtle movements that bring every moment to life.
The sound design for this title is pretty spot-on for the most part, too. There’s a few sound effects that seem a bit generic, but the vast majority are good quality. And the music is simply awesome! The sound track of this game does well to enhance the mood appropriate for each scene, be it a subtle unease or a heart-pounding terror.
RE: Turn is, quite simply, an indie horror gem. It is well crafted, with both brilliant art and a plot that hooks you and keeps you playing. This seems to be Red Ego’s first title, and I look forward to seeing what they do in the future. Definitely pick this one up if you’re interested in a decent horror title.