The Long Reach from Painted Black Games sends us into a downward spiral of hallucinations, violent outbursts and light puzzle solving. But are they out of their minds or is this the pixelated horror game we all didn’t know we needed?
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The mind is a funny thing. It helps us use logic to navigate through tough times, or prompts us to react appropriately in dangerous situations and of course, it even helps us take a remark way out of context in the dirtiest way! This my friends is the marvel of the human mind.
But the second an illicit substance enters our bodies, say an “experience-sharing” drug that effortlessly transfers skills from one individual to another, then you can say good night to logic, morals or even common sense!
Well, the quick answer to this conundrum would be to avoid such substances, but the fine folks over at Painted Black Games wanted to pursue that notion and investigate what could happen if a good intentioned, mind-altering experiment goes awry. An experiment that sends its test subjects into a frenzy of hallucinations, violent outbursts and light puzzle solving.
The question is, were they out of their minds or is The Long Reach the pixelated horror adventure game we all didn’t know we needed?
The Dollar of My Eye (Graphics and Music) - 15 / 25¢
Horror games are one of my favorite genres. And in that genre the atmosphere is integral to the experience. Which means it’s not very often you’d think “2D side-scroller”, when considering the art direction for such a game. But The Long Reach does a fantastic job of creating an environment that feels both uncomfortable and eerie.
In fact, there’s a certain grittiness to pixel art that lends itself well to a horror game. Honestly, it makes me think we need more games in this style! Pixels aside however, the actual character designs and backgrounds are just passable. They certainly get the job done, but they’re nothing really to write home about.
Of course, you can’t have a horror game without haunting atmospheric music either, and The Long Reach has that too. That being said, It doesn’t really enhance the stressful chase scenes nor does it take away from the intense stealth section, so I can’t really complain, but it’s just kinda there and doesn’t stick out in any way. The overall presentation of The Long Reach in a nutshell I guess.
Coin-tagious (Gameplay and Replayability) - 14 / 25¢
Gameplay wise, The Long Reach is your typical point-and-click adventure game. Well, minus the pointing and clicking. Which I actually kind of appreciate. No, instead you’ll be following around the main character from a side-on perspective and interacting with various elements found in the background. You’re also tasked with finding a wide variety of tools, items and thingamajigs to Macgyver together in order to solve environmental puzzles and move forward.
Like many other adventure games though, figuring out what goes with what and where you should use the final product can be a bit unclear. But your frustration level will really depend on how much of a tolerance you’ve built up for adventure game shenanigans! That being said, as long as you have a guide next to you for the tough parts, it should be a relatively smooth ride.
You can’t always take your time either, because occasionally while trying to solve these puzzles, you’ll run into crazed individual who just so happens to want to bludgeon you to death with a lead pipe. Or whatever other weaponized tool they could find. But that’s a rarity and their easily avoided. I wish these sequences were a little more prevalent though, since they can add urgency to the exploration, but I do commend the devs for giving you the breathing room you need to waffle between solutions.
Nonetheless, adventure games don’t really play nice with replayability. Once you solve all of the puzzles and have seen each of the two endings (which can be unlocked almost immediately), there isn’t much left for you to do in the game. I mean, I could see myself revisiting it a few years down the road, but it certainly wouldn’t be a game I’d find myself picking up and playing with any kind of frequency.
Give No Quarter (Is it worth the sale price?) - 25 / 25¢
Considering we picked up The Long Reach for the ridiculously discounted price of $1.49, I’d say it’s absolutely worth what we paid. Even clocking in at just under three hours for a 100% completion, it was a fun and intriguing ride! Just short enough that you could easily finish it in one sitting and enthralling enough to keep your interest piqued the whole way through!
Dollars and Sense (Is it worth the list price?) - 3 / 25¢
On the other hand, at $14.99 for it’s regular price, I’d have a hard time recommending it. Mostly due to its lack of content and next to zero replayability. Adventure games can be a hard sell for many people as well. More often than not, they tend to be tedious, plodding and obtuse. Words that wouldn’t be out of place when describing The Long Reach. But that’s not to say that what’s there isn’t quality material. With patience and perseverance, a playthrough of The Long Reach is quite rewarding and satisfying, but it might be better to wait for another sale before you give it a try for yourself. I’m thinking the sweet spot would be just around the $6 – $8 range, or less.
All in all, I had a great time with The Long Reach. It’s story was fascinating and it had us biting our nails trying to figure out what was going to happen next! It suffered from your typical adventure game woes, but that’s easily overcome by following a guide when you need it, or having a witty sidekick playing along with you. And if you can get it at a discount, it’s more than worth playing!