Good day, B4 reader! How are you walking today? Whatever you might answer to that will be much better than our today’s patient anyway. Today we are going to take a close look towards a brand new thriller game called “The Suicide of Rachel Foster”.
What is it about? Why should you buy it?
We will cover all aspects and by the end, you will be more likely to decide whether you want to try it or not.
“The Suicide of Rachel Foster” is an example of games considered as pieces of modern art. When others are trying to invent brand new gameplay features or at least stand out with a bit of adjustment to the classic ones – the product of “One-O-One Games” simply uses the format of a video game as a container to deliver it’s main point – telling a story.
“The format of a video game is used as a container to deliver a story.”
If you take a look at the game’s page in GOG Galaxy, for instance, you may find that the creators think of their project as a Mystery-Puzzle-Adventure what is only partly true.
“The Suicide of Rachel Foster” is a representative of a slightly new and popular among indie developers genre – “walking simulator”.
There are lots of contrary thoughts about walking simulators all around the gamers’ community. Some people call them interactive films or books; others just expect any gameplay from a thing, which calls itself a game.
No matter which party you support, we all have to admit, that the genre has all rights to exist as long as it finds positive feedback in players’ hearts, and of course, there is no doubts that watching a story and walking through a story would give us completely different experiences.
A brief synopsis of the story
Long ago, a girl called Nicole and her relatives lived in their family hotel somewhere close to Helena, Montana. Her parents broke up after her mom discovered her father’s affair with a sixteen years old girl Rachel, who turned out to be pregnant and eventually committed suicide.
After 10 years Nicole’s parents passed away, so she comes back to the hotel to check and audit the conditions of it before selling. As her mom asked her to do in her last will, Nicole wants to sell the hotel, pay her education loans and make amends to Rachel’s relatives.
When Nicole comes to the hotel the weather becomes unexpectedly worse, so she cannot leave the place until the snowstorm has stopped. When Nicole enters her old bedroom, she sees a radio-telephone, which can get her in touch with an agent Irving from FEMA.
It may feel too lonely and creepy being alone in a place, which brings up memories, what should have been forgotten forever, so Irving is always happy to help, give some advice, or simply to talk.
As long as Nicole will be trapped there – as more strange signs and evidence she will be facing back from the past. Due to the circumstances, Nicole has no way but investigate what truly happened the day when Rachel died.
“Empty hotel, past memories, and canned food. What can possibly go wrong?”
“The feature of pushing the story ahead through dialogues on the radio – isn’t unique. The first examples that pop up in mind are “Firewatch”(2016) and “Bioshock”(2007). However, it doesn’t feel basic, and still shows itself effective enough.”
Let’s take a look at the weakest side of the product – its gameplay. As it was mentioned above – “The Suicide of Rachel Foster” is a true walking simulator.
What you basically need to do is to walk and click a mouse button whenever and wherever you are asked so. And that – is an accurate summarize of pretty much everything you will be doing throughout the game. Apart from the story told in the game, its gameplay – is ineptitude.
“The gameplay formula: walking (40%), talking (40%), mouse-clicking (18%), random objects spinning (2%).”
Nicole’s walking pace is slightly snail-ish, but it’s not that bothering though. Anyway, once you have found a sprint button you won’t stop pressing it until the credits show up.
To add some spices to the walking process you will be given three devices, which original purpose is to help you with solving mysteries and puzzles – a flashlight, a polaroid and a *spoiler*.
Unfortunately, creators completely forgot about puzzles so, to be concrete, you will be asked to use a *spoiler* only once in the whole game and the other two will end up in your pocket unused, because there is no specific need to use those at all.
“Can anybody tell me why we need polaroid?”
The biggest disappointment for me is that the game tries to assure you that it is not that simple as you might think it is, but it is absolutely that simple as you thought in the first place.
The first frame of the project says: “Pay attention to details. The details will help you to find out the truth.” However, the storytelling is strictly straight, and there is no details, which may affect or change the end of the adventure.
Therefore, you don’t need to look at every mug or a pack of fags hoping that you’ll find something important. Considering that (from a gameplay point of view) – most of the areas are not used and unnecessary, what is truly sad. A player gets a big hotel to walk around and investigate, but the game doesn’t give them an opportunity or any reason to do so.
All important evidence will be given to the characters right in their face no matter how long you were walking around searching for it, and once you understand that – the appetite for exploration vanishes in a second.
“Dialogues have no effects on the storyline whatsoever.”
Also, there is no way a player can struggle with a task as you can always read a more or less concrete description of whatever you need to do right in your map. In fact, the game never asks you to think on your own what again doesn’t work with the genre “Puzzles” listed by developers.
Besides the strict storytelling, the project is sick with scripts and can’t step aside from those even a little.
For example, you may find an item, which will be used in the story later, but until you are asked so you can’t pick it up and use it.
It is also true of the dialogues. Let’s imagine that you need to walk from room A to room B and press a button C. There are 3 dialogues that have to be spoken on your way.
If you somehow managed to get to room B faster than the characters do talking, then you won’t have any choices but staring at the button C ‘till they finish. It is not likely to happen if you play the game for the first time.
However, the game progress gets saved only with the start of a new day, therefore, when you quit playing in the middle of a virtual day you will start the same day all over again once you’ve come back.
In this case, you will probably get a bit tired of the same dialogues and cut-scenes, with no tool how you could skip those or pace them up.
On the other hand, you may find all those disadvantages listed above as huge advantages for the story itself, your involvement into it and as we walk through the story then the story is all that matters.
Graphics and sounds
Other important sides of any project are how it looks and sounds. For the graphics part, you may thank “Unreal Engine 4”, which brings us a great deal of shadows, lighting and reflections.
The textures look well detailed and baked. However, there are still some bugs, optimization issues and questions, such as: “why is there no reflection in any mirror?” or “why does the game get more and more blurry each time you set the graphics higher?”.
I can’t really tell the difference between mid, high or epic settings, besides that the game becomes much more hungry for memory.
When it comes to the sound part, we can only shout “bravo”. Every squeaking wood door, every step you take, every sound that surrounds the character sounds authentically and naturally. It makes you believe, pay attention, and drags you into the story.
Also, it would be a crime not to mentioning the soundtrack and the ambient that accompanies you all along the adventure. You will hardly remember any melody afterward, but it perfectly does it’s job when it has to.
Speaking of the story and it’s characters, it would be great to point out that besides two main characters (Nicole and Irving) there are two more – the hotel itself and a player.
The game gives a great deal about suspense. Level design, architecture, empty rooms, long straight corridors – everything makes it’s pressure on a player so then it is not a player playing a game it’s the player’s mind playing a game with the player.
Everything affects player’s expectations, growing suspense and fear for the unknown. Even though you know, that the hotel is completely empty it’s still hard to feel safe.
From tidy halls on the first floor to moldy, dark storage rooms, you may start struggling with a feeling that somebody is watching you from behind again and again.
“The story tackles mature subjects: taboo relationships, family issues and more.”
The hotel tells it’s own story how it became the way it is, about it’s customers and of course – Nicole’s father Leonard. Even though there are lots of rooms and objects, which have nothing to do with the story directly, all those unrelated pieces give a huge impact on a player, their understanding of the story and involvement in whatever is happening.
The adventure is well directed and written. You may consider it as a roller coaster of emotions, contradictory thoughts, and expectations. Two main characters, Nicole and Irving, sound amazingly natural and you start to believe them almost from the beginning. It is exciting to follow their thoughts, notice how their relationships evolve even in that short period of time.
Throughout the story, you will surprisingly find yourself as a third member of their dialogues agreeing or disagreeing with one or another.
By switching a light on these delicate topics we hope our videogame will stimulate players to start a conversation. If you are struggling with these issues yourself, this game may not be suitable for you. If this is the case, we encourage you to play with a friend, under the supervision of a parent or a trusted adult. ©One-O-One Games
“The Suicide of Rachel Foster” is a well-cooked story with mature subjects and a couple of good twists in it.
Of course, some twists can be guessed long before they happen, but it doesn’t make the experience worse.
If you like suspense, detectives, mystery, thrillers, or simply nail-biting stories then “The Suicide of Rachel Foster” is the right choice for your Friday evening, but if you expect to see any puzzles, riddles, or whatnot then you’d probably better to think thoroughly whether you want to walk through this story, before buying it.
Just keep in mind that the best side of the project is it’s story while other parts exist only to prove that you are not simply watching a film. In my humble opinion, this game is worth playing.
No matter your preferences I would highly recommend you walk through this deep intimate story. It has all aspects to resonate with a player and once it’s done they won’t be able to get rid of the impression… for a while.
Well, that’s it for today’s review. I hope you enjoyed reading it. Leave your thoughts about the game, or the genre of it.
Have you already tried it or you are going to? If you know any other game, which is worth playing or being reviewed – please, let us know in the comments.
Grade: “Good Job”