[Review] The Great Perhaps – Nintendo Switch

Written by Joachim Ziebs
  • Developer: Caligari Games
  • Publisher: Drageus Games
  • Release Date: 10/07/2020
  • Price: £8.99 / $9.99
  • Review code provided by:
  • Version reviewed: 1.0.0

Introducing: The Great Perhaps Switch Review

I grew up with playing a lot of great adventure games, mostly the quirky ones put out by LucasArts. Day of the Tentacle is still one of my most favourite games of all times, so when I heard about an adventure game centred around time travel, I knew I had to get to write the review for it. Fast forward to the future – see how cleverly I inserted a time travel hint here – and you’re reading my Nintendad review of The Great Perhaps.

You are Kosmos, an astronaut living on a space station in orbit around earth. You awake after a one-hundred-year long slumber and notice that the world you left is gone. The apocalypse came and wiped away human civilization. The only one to talk to is L9, an AI-created on the space station. Even though there is no chance for any human still being alive, you travel down to earth to find out what happened to humanity and your wife and daughter.

Get grounded!

Your mission is clear: Find out what happened and why! To do so, you need to make your way into a laboratory in an old army base. That’s the story. To do so, you follow a very clear-cut linear path: You arrive at a location, explore the location and solve any riddles/problems that get thrown into your way. Then, you are able to leave the location and arrive at a new one. Repeat this a number of times and you end up exactly where you need to be: the laboratory.

For a time-travel game, this is surprisingly linear. Time-travel is only used to help you get around obstacles or to let you pick up stuff that you need in the other time setting. Also there are just two time settings you can use: now ( the time after your slumber) and then ( the time before the world went downhill). I expected much more from a game with this premise.

Well, you get to use time travel a lot, though. See, you have two hands and only two hands to manipulate your surroundings. One hand holds your time travel device, the other one can hold whatever object you need to carry around to solve a puzzle or put something together. Hoping to have some kind of inventory to put things into? Nope, there is none. Not that there would be any reason for it, as you have no way nor any need of getting back to a previous location anyway. Remember, the game is very linear!

In fact, it’s so linear that you can get all but one achievement through regular gameplay. You can only really miss one of them on your first playthrough. Surprisingly, there is not much motivation to replay the game in this case.

Why is this not a book?

You’ll immediately recognize the art style used in this game. It’s a perfectly fine 2D style that looks right like it came off the printed pages of a comic book: Clear lines and artfully done colours combined with an attention to lots of detail. It’s done masterfully and, together with its influence from Soviet aesthetics, creates a setting unique for the game.

The music fits right in as well, changing according to the time you are playing in (then and now), and does a good job to create a well-rounded setting. Sound effects are minimal but done nicely.

Only a few monsters on earth

The Great Perhaps is not a heavy hitter when it comes to hardware prerequisites. As such, playing in docked or handheld mode made no difference, not that I expected otherwise. You have to be careful with the items you carry around. It is possible to either throw them or drop them into locations that you cannot reach, forcing you to restart the level and lose some progress. You don’t lose much, but there are some frustrating parts in the game where having to restart might add to your frustration. Therefore, take care!

Conclusion

The question The Great Perhaps asks is not easily answered. Why should you play this game? The story could have been told in a comic book quite as well, because of its linear design. This is a shame, because time-travel could have been used to break through a linear story to offer more than one perspective on the events that you uncover during the game. I feel like this is a missed chance in a medium like video games.

PROS

  • Aesthetics are cool
  • Voice acting is well done
  • Nice puzzles

CONS

  • Linear gameplay
  • Too many fetch quests because of the lack of an inventory
  • Underwhelming ending of the story

Verdict
It’s a story to be told, but not a story to behold. The Great Perhaps could have been so much more, but unfortunately it isn’t. It’s nice to experience, but will not become a classic.

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