Past Cure arrives in the stores trying to offer a varied mix of experiences: aiming too high sometimes leads to ruinous falls and the Phantom 8 game dies before it even crashes to the ground, let's see it in our review
Thriller, action, horror, stealth, survival, cinematic, sci-fi. I think these are the words that were written on the developer ideas board when they decided to create Past Cure a few years ago. Normally some would have been canceled, instead the small team Phantom 8 he decided to keep them all, loading them on a rocket aimed at the stars.
This is the review of Past Cure. This is the story of a rocket that fell even before it exited the atmosphere.
Past Cure - review: the beginning of a nightmare
It all starts in a nightmare. We are Ian, a man of about forty. We are inside a dilapidated and dark building. In the greyness we find a gun and we immediately make good use of it, when we are attacked by malevolent ceramic mannequins. We try to wake up, but we find ourselves in an eternal darkness. A distant light reveals a feminine silhouette that tells us to hurry up and escape. We won't make it in time.
We wake up in a seaside villa owned by Marcus, our brother and only ally. Earlier we were kidnapped and segregated for three years, a period of which we have no memory. The captivity has left us gods paranormal powers: we can slow down time and project our consciousness out of the body, but these abilities make us have nightmares and hallucinations. Our mission is to understand who kidnapped us and what experiments they performed on us.
The house hides some objects linked to our past: a photograph, a chessboard, books on psychic abilities. We are intrigued by a series of narrative ideas, by nightmares and horror hallucinations, by mysterious messages in the form of origami.
Then enough. We'll have between six and eight hours of empty play, which will do everything to deny us a good narrative evolution. No background for Ian and Marcus, nothing at all about the woman of the dream, the hallucinations, the kidnapping and the powers of the protagonist. What little plot that the game gives us is not very cohesive and not very intriguing, not to say trivial. Also cross "thriller" and "science fiction" from the initial list, because the plot is literally nothing.
Past cure - review: dream gameplay
You don't live on narrative alone, however, after all, a game is created around your gameplay. The work can be divided into sections set in the real world and nightmare phases. In the former, we will have to infiltrate highly guarded areas. Our weapons will be stealth, melee combat and some gunfire. We will have two weapons at a time (in the whole game there are 3-4 types) and two types of cures: syringes for life and blue pills for sanity. The latter drops when we use the powers, but a third of the bar recharges itself to allow us to always use our abilities.
The melee fights are woody, based on a single combo and with animations that are anything but state of the art. The tps sections demand a constant slowing down of time to be able to take headshots before the enemies turn us into gruyere: we will find ourselves winning in a trivial way or dying repeatedly, there is no middle ground. The stealth forces us to follow the only path imagined by the developers and offers us only the possibility of performing stealth kills. We will not be able to go into automatic cover (not even during shootings) and we will not be able to move bodies: a capacity that would still prove to be of little use since the areas are tiny and have no hiding places. Powers make life easier, but their use is uninteresting.
We also don't think enemies have any working AI behind them. All these phases, moreover, seem a forced accumulation, repetitive and poor, functional only to increase longevity.
The situation improves slightly in the nightmare stages. The game mixes some puzzles, in which to use our paranormal abilities, and firefights or stealth against the aforementioned dummies. An extremely basic "survival horror" feeling is created but at least not annoying to live: even the woodiness of the controls can be mistaken for a style borrowed from the classic Resident Evil or The Evil Within. Unfortunately these phases are the least long-lived component of Past Cure. We cannot do anything else, therefore, if not cross out the terms "action", "stealth" and "survival".
Past Cure - review: without art or part
The non-existence of the narrative and the annoying playful roughness perfectly balance the artistic caliber of the title. Not only on a technical level the game is barely decent, but all of them the settings are empty, banal and repetitive: here too the nightmare sections are saved slightly, but they cannot support the entire work. Even “horror” is erased, albeit with a little regret, from the blackboard.
The animations are limited, the enemies all the same, the unique characters (three, including the protagonist) lack facial expressions, and the dubbing is bland, on average. The direction of the cutscenes is poorly done and, in some cases, even annoying to the eye. “Cinematografico”, at this point, was forcibly canceled.
Let's add a handful of bugs (graphics, sound, localization): at least the developer has already officially claimed to be aware of it and to be working on other patches. On PC and PS4 (version we played) a correction should arrive tomorrow, Monday February 26th, while on Xbox, for bureaucratic reasons, the times are less defined. We will update you on this, but unfortunately, bugs are not the real problem.
Past cure - review: overdose of mistakes
Our imaginary slate is empty now, there are no words left to read. Past Cure is the attempt to merge many ideas and many worlds, but without the capacity and the productive possibility to do so: Phantom 8 is a team of eight people, an independent team that has dreamed too big. It is the kind of game that is hard to complete and cannot be recommended to anyone, especially at the price of 29.99 €.
Thanks to Little Big PR Limited for granting us the review code.4 To be avoided
Points in favor
- The "survival horror" sections are acceptable
- Artistically and technically poor
- Disappointing narrative
- Bad shooter, melee, and stealth