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RE:CALL Review

RE:CALL Review

A “whodunnit” murder mystery collides with memory-based time travel in RE:CALL, a heartfelt and comedic indie title published by Whitethorn Games and developed by Maitan69. If you’ve ever wanted to make different choices inside one of your most vivid memories, then this game is for you. RE:CALL’s seven-chapter adventure throws you into interesting puzzles, hilarious conversations, and plot twists that ultimately make this experience unforgettable.

ReCall characters

The gameplay loop hooked me right away with its time travel mechanic. It’s simple, very fun, and puts a unique spin on how choices can affect your playthrough. At the start, you’re trapped inside the office of The Toy Maker. The infamous crime boss is interrogating you and demands that you recount how exactly you infiltrated the hideout up to the moment you were captured. This drops you into a flashback where you can interact with objects and answer questions about what happened, which gives you text-based choices that alter the memory and your present simultaneously. Was a blue or green guard watching the door? Did you pick up a rock or a gun? Selecting the right combination of choices in the past is key to getting you out of your predicament in the present. Some changes in the future are noticeable, however, and can panic The Toy Maker into killing you, which ties in with another important mechanic you’ll use to solve RE:CALL’s puzzles: failure. Starting over is key to completing each level since you won’t know what you need to change until you see how the memory plays out, and failing can open up new dialogue options or pathways to help you reach your goal.

The narrative officially begins when the game shifts over to a small, messy apartment belonging to Bruno Gallagher, our withdrawn protagonist who has been bullied and ostracised for most of his life. His trauma and ongoing struggles are very relatable as they make appearances in almost all of Bruno’s interactions in the game. It was especially heartwarming to see him grow, find friendship, and heal from his hurtful past; I fully believe it’s a worthwhile tale to experience for yourself. But while there are serious topics touched upon, RE:CALL has no shortage of charm, humour, or fourth-wall-breaking commentary. The cast features 10 eccentric, interesting characters and the narrative delves deep into their motivations, insecurities, and relationships, truly bringing these characters to life. You (yes, you) are also part of the cast, technically, as characters often refer to the player’s presence as a ghost that attached themselves to Bruno. Reminiscent of my Undertale playthroughs, RE:CALL’s characters are aware when you’ve restarted a level or taken control of a different character. It was fun to see them refer to me as some all-knowing, powerful entity — I think that’s a title best reserved for the developer. Overall, the fourth wall breaks never felt forced; I appreciated that they were established in the narrative with purpose rather than being thrown in for no particular reason.

ReCall Choices

Shortly after we first meet Bruno, he’s invited to a party hosted by his long-time crush Henrietta Albarn, and as opposed to playing through the event first while waiting for something to happen, the game time jumps ahead to the aftermath as we’re already being questioned about a murder we witnessed during the festivities. We then get to play through Bruno’s memory of the party, which is much more thrilling since we now know a murder is inevitably going to take place. The “whodunnit” mystery, and a growing list of dead characters, drive the story forward as we continue to follow clues hidden inside Bruno’s and other characters’ memories. The fast-paced storytelling paired with a larger-than-life cast often evoked the feeling that I was playing through an action-packed superhero movie or comic book. New powerful abilities and villain origin stories introduced in later chapters only reinforced that impression even more. I can’t express how much I’d love a RE:CALL sequel exploring the lore, side characters, and extraordinary powers that we get a glimpse of — there are so many possibilities!

RE:CALL is teeming with vibrant characters full of detail and colour. While this pixel-style game mainly calls upon charming retro aesthetics, the character portraits take centre stage during dialogue sequences. Each portrait is tailored to the personality of a specific character in both colour scheme and design. Bruno’s, for instance, is a moody purple with music notes hovering in the background while his goofy, loyal friend, Harry Ocean, has a bright orange theme adorned with nautical anchors. I really appreciated other small details like seeing glitch effects on character portraits and horizontal video stripes across the screen when you’re playing through a memory as if you were watching it through an older television. The soundtrack also set the perfect tone for the game with electronic rock music fitting for your mind-manipulating investigations.

ReCall Mystery

Up to chapter four, I loved the puzzle design, and it was my favourite feature of the game. Changing the narrative to suit your needs was engaging, and I enjoyed that each puzzle posed a chapter-specific challenge, building upon our initial introduction to the time travel mechanic. I was very excited to see the levels expand with additional options to alter the memories, and I expected them to also increase in difficulty, so you can imagine I was somewhat disappointed when halfway through the story the game mechanics took a sharp turn from its main attraction and shifted towards stealth-based puzzles that required navigating your way past enemies with cone-shaped fields of view. The disappearance of the text-based choices was jarring, and I spent most of my time missing them while sneaking past enemies.

The short length of the game certainly shined a spotlight on the shift in gameplay. I imagine a few more chapters would have made room to combine the two styles inside later levels, bringing more cohesion to the end product. The final chapter and epilogue also could have benefited from slower pacing and further fleshed-out dialogue as you do witness a lot of interesting plot twists and contend with higher stakes at the conclusion. It became a bit difficult to follow the villain’s intentions as well as the intertwining connections among multiple characters. Some grammar and spelling mistakes also took me out of the story for a moment but didn’t detract from the experience overall. What was ultimately missing, though, was a final goodbye tour to the characters we met along the way. I love when games let us relax after a final boss battle or confrontation, such as when you get to talk to your Dragon Age companions about their future plans after saving the world. RE:CALL has such a strong cast that it only feels right to bid them all a proper farewell.

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If you love puzzles, retro 2D pixel art, and narrative-driven games with plenty of jokes and wholesome advice, RE:CALL should definitely join your library. Though its second half struggles with some pacing issues and gameplay shifts, hopping through time to solve a mystery makes for an absolutely fun experience.

7.50/10 7½

RE:CALL (Reviewed on Windows)

This game is good, with a few negatives.

RE:CALL has an excellent, mysterious story and unique time travel mechanics, but it struggles with gameplay consistency at its halfway mark. However, the fun puzzles, text-based choices, and memorable cast of characters definitely make it a title easy to recommend.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Alyssa Rochelle Payne

Alyssa Rochelle Payne

Staff Writer

Alyssa is great at saving NPCs from dragons. Then she writes about it.

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