The Long Reach
Developer: Painted Black Games
Publisher: Merge Games
Composer: Ruslan Viter
Category: Action, Adventure
Release Date: 03.15.2018
Side Scrolling Psychological Thriller
The Long Reach on Nintendo Switch fills the hole in my heart for something sinister. The Long Reach takes place in Baervox a sleepy fictitious city in the American North East and you play as Stewart a low end employee of a research lab who gets thrust into the madness of an experiment gone awry. The Game is full of strange scenery and occurrences, ominous tones, some adult language and a nice helping of the macabre. Its not a horror game so much as a really nice physiological thriller, no jump scares here just the story, music and scenery to get the blood pumping and the hair standing on your neck.
The Long Reach plays alot like an old point and click adventure game without the point and clicking. You’re going to be working around quite a few puzzles all solved by collecting, combining and redistributing items you have collected. There is some danger to be found in the form of a raving madman lurking through the facility but nearly all the tension comes from the atmosphere. I don’t want to spoil too much about the story, i knew nothing going into The Long Reach and i suggest the same if your going to dive in. The allure of the unknown really keeps you wanting to see whats coming next, whats around the next corner, what sick new insanity your walking into.
So without saying too much about the story here are some things i think really make The Long Reach Stand out in that regard . There is plenty of mind and eye trickery to have you guessing if what you just saw was even really there, things pop in and out of frame playing with your mind making you feel much like the main protagonist grappling with his own sanity. It’s plentiful with in my opinion well written dialog that doesn’t follow the usual story beats we see in games, its a little off the wall and i really appreciated that. There are plentiful dialogue options ,that while i am not sure really make too much of a difference when selected, at the very least make conversation selections seem more like what you yourself might say in response to the absurdity surrounding you. As fantastical and out there as the story is it still seems shockingly realistic and possible. I really liked what they were putting down.
The art in The Long Reach I found to be quite exceptional and stands apart from its peers. This team has a way with pixel art that just tickles me in all the right ways. As i’m constantly reminded pixel art style games are not for everyone, but hopefully if your reading this that’s not the case because just look at that fantastic burning cityscape. Everything is extremely detailed and looks amazing, the beauty of the art really helped draw me into the world of The Long Reach. I am already looking forward to what Painted black does next just based of the look of the game alone.
One other thing i found to stand out is the score and sound design. There are few things more important to tie a game together and The Long Reach does this with a bow on top. Sinister melodies and haunting sound effects flow down every corridor and fill every room with a dark brooding vibe. There is a dark rendition of a famous Christmas song that i may never forget and as simple as it might seem the sound of a swaying rope is still stuck in my head. Ruslan Viter really did a great job curating the acoustic vibe of this world.
The Long Reach is a really great tense psychological thriller with undertones of horror and suspense. The art, story and visual design are all top notch in my eyes. Some may find it to not be enough on the horror side but i found this foray into the mind of madness to be quite refreshing. The only gripe I might have is that i wish it was a few hours longer, i really wanted to see more of the chaos that this world was full of. With out a doubt give The Long Reach a shot, its well worth the price.