Saturday, March 24

Review: The Long Reach [Nintendo Switch eShop]


As anyone who has been keeping track of my indie adventures on the site knows, I’m a big fan of the old-school adventure genre. Having cut my teeth on the classics back in the day, and even on their text-based ancestors before that, I’ve seen the genre go in any number of directions. Even so, none have had a story quite as unusual and theme quite as odd as the one in The Long Reach. The desire for the creepy and some pretty salty dialogue are prerequisites for your enjoyment of the title, just be warned that just like your character’s sanity as an experience it’s a bit all over the place.


Since the story, surprises, and weirdness are so important to the experience I’ll only talk about it at a general level so as not to ruin it for people who decide to take the plunge. There’s a sickness out there, some really whacked out people, and you’ll certainly question repeatedly whether or not your character is one of them. Wondering WTF is going on is a pretty central part of the experience, without a doubt. Whether or not the ultimate payoff to the ride is worth the trouble would be a matter of opinion but while there are elements to the story that piqued my morbid sense of curiosity I can’t say I wasn’t hoping for something more at the end of the day.

Even if the story weren’t a bit hit or miss in terms of making sense and being ultimately satisfying strong gameplay and puzzle elements could have fully righted the ship. Unfortunately, in this area too, there are some rough edges. Adventure titles are notorious for either being too easy or too obtuse in their inventory-based puzzles and it’s games like this one that underline the problem in both directions. In general I’d say either solutions are plain and telegraphed or just a bit odd and obscure. Having the right items isn’t always the end of the solution there are times when you need to alter items to prep them and in many cases this boils down to heavy trial and error. Where most in the genre try to give you pointers here and there to help guide you generally you’re all on your own to figure out what to do next and there are times when this can be very aggravating, especially when the solution sometimes feels really random.


Contributing further to the problem is that a mixture of the level of lighting in many areas, combined with the size of things you’ll need to retrieve like sets of keys, make it incredibly easy to miss things as you move about. With this in mind I absolutely cannot recommend playing the game in handheld mode at all, as seeing things on my monitor was difficulty enough in a few cases, in handheld mode I can only imagine that you’d need to slowly move everywhere just hitting the button hoping to grab something you can’t see the highlight for. In addition there are times where dialogue options or related actions require plain trial and error to get through. Thankfully when you die it doesn’t take long to get back to where you were but this is another case where the proper path can feel a bit random.

Overall, the hook of The Long Reach, the mystery, the horror elements, and the suspense, needs to be the primary thing you’re looking for in order for it to be a good fit. If you’re invested in that aspect of the experience I think there’s enough meat there to chew on for a few hours if you’re willing to be a bit patient and understanding. If what I’ve described of the story doesn’t sound very appealing unfortunately I’d say that the rest of the elements won’t be able to make it compelling.


Score: 5.5

Pros:
  • An unusual story full of twists and turns
  • If you’re down for something creepy, perhaps it has enough to sustain you

Cons:
  • Puzzles are all over the place and some solutions are downright obscure
  • Items can be extremely easy to miss, leading to unnecessary frustrations
  • If you’re not a fan of relatively needless profanity, stay away
  • Due to item scale and issues even in docked mode it is hard to recommend to anyone who intends to play the game in handheld mode