Review: Past Cure (PS4)

Review: Past Cure (PS4)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • PC

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • Blu-ray Disc
  • PS4 Pro
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
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Title: Past Cure
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN (8.34 GB)
Release Date: February 23, 2018
Publisher: phantom 8 Studio
Developer: phantom 8 Studio
Original MSRP: $29.99 (US), £24.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: M
PEGI: 16
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Audio Review:
The audio review for this game is available on Episode 564 of the podcast.

Gameplay:
Past Cure centers on a former soldier who has lost his memory. He now slips between his nightmares and a real world situation where he’s trying to track down the people who did this to him.

Whatever they did, it brought on the horrifying nightmares but it also left him with the ability to slow time for short periods along with limited telekinesis.

Let’s get this out of the way right up front. Past Cure is not a good game. It suffers from whole host of problems that drag it down from its lofty aspirations.

I’m not going to go through this review and simply tear it apart because that’s of no use to you the reader or to the developers themselves. What I’d rather do is discuss what the game got right (which wasn’t a whole lot) and what it got wrong because, honestly, I was really excited for what Past Cure could be, and then disappointed in what it actually was.

Back in December, I got an early look at the game with Simon Gerdesmann, the managing director for phantom 8 Studio and executive producer for the Past Cure. The studio started with three people and eventually worked with around eight for most of the project. The idea was to make a budget version of a triple-A stealth-action game.

Unfortunately, the end result feels more like a first rough draft than a complete and polished game. There are hints of quality mired in an otherwise uneven experience and muddled narrative, but too much of the game feels like padding.

You could probably pick any random level, cut out half of it, and have a much tighter, more focused experience. However, doing so would cut the length of the roughly four to five hour game significantly.

This issue is apparent from the moment you start the game as the initial tutorial in the nightmare world drags on and on for much longer than it should. Unfortunately, each time and new mechanic is introduced, it feels like you’re being put through an overly long tutorial experience again and again.

This is also a world that, as beautiful as it sometimes is, feels devoid of life. Based on the ending of the game, I get that there may be a good reason for that, but the story itself seems convoluted and gets lost along the way with the long, repetitive levels you’ll endure between the short narrative breaks.

The payoff at the end feels rushed and unsatisfying. About halfway through the game it starts to become clear where it’s likely all headed and when you get there you’re given a vague cutscene with no real explanation or conclusion to the narrative and the clues found throughout the experience.

It may have worked as a cliffhanger had the game been more focused on the story elements but the levels are so drawn out that the story itself is largely lost along the way.

The telekinesis and ability to slow time is always present, but taking a blue pill will allow you to use the powers for longer periods of time. There’s no real need to ration the pills as you find them since you’ll always be able to do whatever you need to to progress in the game even with those abilities at half strength.

The abilities themselves are really cool though and I would have liked to have seen them put to better use through clever puzzles and levels designed specifically around them outside of the initial tutorials. As it was, I was able to get by pretty well while using them sparingly.

One other major gripe is with the interactivity, or lack thereof, with objects in the world, especially during the hotel room level. I was tasked with looking around for clues. Each time I was told what to look for, the object I needed would suddenly have its interaction turned on.

This is a problem because the clues are spread across three interconnected hotel rooms and, having already searched through them knowing that only one or two objects could be interacted with, I ignored the rest when given a new task.

It left me confused when I couldn’t find what I needed as I moved back and forth from room to room to room. When I finally decided to try to “touch” everything in the rooms all over again I found that a magazine that was initially glued to a desk and “untouchable” had suddenly become an object that I could interact with.

This was about three-quarters of the way through the game so it’s not like this was something that had been established early on and expected when I got here. It made the whole level frustrating and needlessly complicated. This also came after an absurdly extended path to the room itself, making it seem all the more tedious.

The weapon selection is very limited, a pistol, a machine gun, a desert eagle, but it makes sense within the context of the game. What doesn’t really make sense is the sudden appearance of a shotgun very, very late in the game that seems to be there specifically to take out the boss in that particular level.

Visuals:
The environments themselves are really a bright spot in the game. The rooms are very well designed with a great attention to detail, making them all feel like real world locations.

One minor complaint here is that they may look a little too good, like they’re right out of a showroom, lacking that “lived-in” quality. Again, this may have been a conscious decision based on the ultimate destination of the narrative, and if it was, then well done, but with the way the game ended it’s hard to tell if this was intentional or not.

The nightmare levels are also really well designed along with the enemies that dwell within them. They’re dark and creepy and the lighting is really good considering that this is a smaller budget title.

The characters themselves are a bit all over the place. For brief moments the can look really great. Not triple-A great, but budget title great. More often than not though they end up looking more like an HD conversion of a PS2 title.

Audio:
The audio is good but the mix can be all over the place sometimes, making it harder to hear the dialogue in certain spots. Weapons and enemies sound alright and the voice work is good, but nothing really stands or as either great or terrible here.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is one player only with no online component.

Conclusion:
The team at phantom 8 Studio had some lofty ambitions for Past Cure. Unfortunately, the final result leaves a lot to be desired. Overly long tutorials thinly disguised as gameplay, rough character designs, and a convoluted narrative all conspire against the original vision of a stealth-action game at a budget price.

There’s so much going on here, especially with the narrative, that this isn’t something that could just be fixed with a simple patch. Hopefully the developers can take all the lessons learned from this first go and put them into a new experience with a tighter narrative and solid gameplay elements for a much better experience.

Score:
4.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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Written by Josh Langford

Josh Langford

Josh has been gaming since 1977 starting with the Atari 2600.
He currently owns 26 different consoles and 6 different handhelds (all hooked up and in working condition) including all consoles from the current generation.

Josh is currently the US PR & Marketing Manager for Fountain Digital Labs and has recused himself from any involvement on PS Nation arising from posting or editing any news or reviews stemming from FDL.

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