Let me come straight to the point by asking you two questions. Do you like Firewatch? Do you like What Remains of Edith Finch? If you replied “yes” to both – then you should be buying/installing/playing The Suicide of Rachel Foster in this very moment.
A word of introduction
- intriguing story with mature themes;
- great, thrilling atmosphere;
- well written dialogues, stellar voice-acting and likeable characters;
- fantastic audio (sounds and music);
- very detailed environment;
- good retro vibes from ‘80s and early ‘90s.
- too often bactracking and slow movement;
- the story has occasional problems with pacing;
- sometimes it’s unclear what to do next;
- minor technical faults, e.g. poor optimization.
Oh, you still here? Want to know more? For example, what is this all about? Okay, let’s begin with information that TSoRF represents a genre of games that some people call “walking simulators”. Well, they are not completely wrong. Those are first person adventure games that pose none (or close to none) challenge. They usually are stripped of difficult puzzles, complex riddles or anything else a player could get stuck at. Instead, walking sims are strictly focused on telling a story which is unraveled by exploring various places and searching detailed environment, reading notes or listening to dialogues.
Perhaps this kind of gameplay doesn’t sound too exciting. Quite the contrary. Let me tell you that some of the best, the most touching and clever stories told in video games in recent years were told just in walking sims. What Remains of Edith Finch and Firewatch are just two of many examples. The Suicide of Rachel Foster will be now another one, joining the pantheon of interactive thrillers.
Speaking of story, TSoRF takes place in Montana, USA. The year is 1993 (and the game hereby is granted with additional points for some good retro vibes). Our protagonist, Nicole, arrives in hotel in mountains where she was raised and spent her childhood. She left this place with her mother ten years ago in tragic circumstances, but now, as the last remaming member of her family, she must go back and take care of this heritage. It’s your task to help her face painful memories and uncover dark secrets of the past.
Let’s get to business
It’s no coincidence that I was repeatedly referring to Firewatch and What Remains of Edith Finch in this review. TSoRF combines various things we love from those great games. For starters, there is a big empty house to explore (actually a hotel, but it was home to the protagonist), and it's wonderfully designed. You'll have this particular feel of nostalgia while exploring it, thanks to exemplary use of music and requisites from ‘80s and '90s, among other things. Moreover, the environment has astounding amount of details in service of telling a personal story of a family torn apart by tragedy.
With a blizzard raging outside, it can be scary to explore the vast building in mountains on your own, especially when power is going off and you are left in the dark. Mysterious sounds of wind, walls or floors also play major role in giving you the chills. However, the game is no horror and there is nothing supernatural in it.
Fortunately, you are not entirely alone in this adventure. There is a friendly voice on the cellphone, guiding you through the hotel cut off by snowstorm and soothing Nicole's loneliness (and your anxiety). He gives you advice and lets the protagonist express her feelings. With stellar voice-acting, well written (and interactive) dialogues and charismatic characters, evolving relation between Nicole and Irving is no less interesting than the one of Henry and Delilah from Firewatch. And that means a lot.
All in all, however, TSoFR is far from greatness of What Remains of Edith Finch. Repetitive walking around the same places in the hotel can be boring (particularly when it is unclear what you should do next in this semi-sandbox to push the story further and the plot's pacing gets ruined, especially considering Nicole's moving soooo slowly), also characters sometimes talk too much. And there are some minor technical problems here and there, with poor optimization on top of them.
Anyway, to sum it all up, The Suicide of Rachel Foster is a solid adventure game and a brilliant thriller. I strongly recommend it, especially if you like titles that are not afraid of picking up on difficult subjects and use them with care, to enrich and deepen the story. TSoRF is a strong competitor in this territory, and this reason alone should be more than enough to play this title.
If it isn’t somehow, then consider game’s reasonable pricing. Yes, it lasts only five hours (or less), but that’s genre’s standard. And in this case you are getting five hours of intense, chilling adventure and brilliant dialogues. What’s better way to spend a wintery evening than exploring a abandoned hotel in the middle of snowstorm?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I admit, The Suicide of Rachel Foster showed up on my radar due to absence of bigger gaming releases – and I’m thankful for it. In recent years walking sims became one of my favourite type of games, and TSoRF supports my interest in this genre. I’ve spent almost 6 hours with this title, but part of it was wasted for running in circles due to unclear goals to achieve… and because of my inner need to look at every book in every room (and there are many books, and almost every single one is unique).
Christopher Mysiak | Gamepressure.com