[Review] The Almost Gone – Nintendo Switch

Written by Kevin Orme
  • Developer: Happy Volcano
  • Publisher: Playdigious
  • Release Date: 25/6/2020
  • Price: £13.49 / $14.99
  • Review code provided by Playdigeous

INTRODUCING: THE ALMOST GONE SWITCH REVIEW

Puzzle and I go waaaaaaaaay back. I’ve been a fan of seeing pieces fit together and seeing something I didn’t expect. I can clearly remember my older brother showing me the joys of the Monkey Island series and Day of the Tentacle when he came home from college and I fell in love. Point-and-click adventures were cool and I loved to see how they evolved over the years. It was this excitement that got me hyped for the mysteries I was about to uncover in “The Almost Gone”

Let’s dig in.

Family Matters

The description of this game is “Poised between life and death, isolated and alone, you must unravel the poignant truths that led to your fate”. If you haven’t gathered yet, you are literally “almost gone”. The mission is simple: figure out what happened, find the truth and come to terms with what you can do from here. I would say SPOILERS, but I mean, they put it in the description!

Your family is, well, kind of a mess. Dad is a jerk. Mom is in a bad place. Everything is kind of moody and awful. It’s a real feel-good hit of the summer! So you head out to follow the message you find from your father to “get to the treehouse” to find safety. Things get surreal and crazy, but I promise you this: The truth is out there.

Taking a Look Around

The scene opens as you see the image of a house. It’s your house! You zoom into your room and you are immediately introduced to how the whole game works. Each area is a square with objects you can interact with to find new items to interact with and solve puzzles. So in a lot of ways it’s nothing different from every other point-and-click you’ve seen, but then again I’m not done explaining how this all works. Each room can also be rotated to uncover new ways to look at things. Now, I’m sure you’re all saying “But Kevin, you ignorant moron! That’s not even special. Why should I care?” We’ll get to it later, but I PROMISE YOU it’s better than it sounds.

It’s really a simple combo for this game: search, interact, solve. As you go along more of the tragedy of this family unfolds and you learn about a group of generally terrible people in a pretty lousy situation. In a lot of ways it’s a game about facades and dealing with terrible situations. The deeper you dive, the more harsh the truths. It’s good for sure, but just go in with your eyes open for that.

Beauty in the Everyday

Minimalism is a tricky tool to use these days. Sure, things can look clean and striking, but it can also make things look empty and unfinished. Thankfully, the great designers over at Happy Volcano are masters at their craft with the visuals in The Almost Gone. Each area is distinct and has its own feeling as you search for more clues and items. The highlight of the game for me was the neighborhood area. The darks and lights make the whole area sing. It’s incredible to see how the clues all work out in that area. Be VERY excited to go through there. It’s some of their best work.

If you’re coming into this game looking for some really rockin’ tunes, I have some bad and good news for you. There’s not really a soundtrack per se as much as there is some KILLER ambiance. I felt like there was going to be some jumpscare to absolutely destroy me with the amount of tension and dread that the music adds to this game. For a puzzle/mystery game I felt actual dread and fear. This is some excellent work.

Every Dirty Little Detail

There was a lot of time and care put into this game and the experience it was meant to give. For instance, in point-and-click adventures there is a common problem: clicking on very specific and small objects. Thankfully, the designers had a brilliant idea: If there is a key location you have to interact with it is highlighted in a small circle on the sides of the screen. It’s a super smart decision that also helps keep the player focused on what they can do and where they should be putting their attention. One of the biggest pitfalls these games have is players getting lost, so this was an excellent choice.

There were some minor gripes I have as well. There’s a chapter in an apartment building that has a pretty rough color scheme. It’s not that it’s not a great set of colors, but it makes it very hard to read the words and solve some puzzles. Also, in a few areas there are some interactables that are placed in spots that are a touch difficult to pinpoint. It’s not a game ender, but it’s frustrating. Lastly, it could use a chapter select so I could go and see those amazing scenes without having to go through the previous chapters. Again, nothing huge, just little stuff.

Getting Closure

When it’s all said and done, this is a pretty solid game. There were more than enough moments where I absolutely HAD to keep playing. That feeling of tension and mystery are strong in this title and I can say without hesitation that this is a pretty great time. It might be a touch pretentious, and the price tag might be a touch high for a game like this, but it’s worth it for the great puzzles and interesting moments.

Pros

  • Fabulous searching mechanics
  • Legitimate feelings of tension through great sound design.
  • Beautiful art style.

Cons

  • Low replay value
  • Price is a touch high
  • Occasional frustration with color choices

Verdict
Digging deep into the mystery of “The Almost Gone” is worth your time and I haven’t experienced something quite like this in ages.

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