Review: RE:CALL – A Tricky Puzzle Game with a Solid Narrative

Review: RE:CALL

Developed by solo developer maitan69 and published by Whitethorn Games, RE:CALL is a unique puzzle game/murder mystery game where you must explore memories, reconstruct them with your choices and manipulate the results to catch a murderer. RE:CALL brings a unique take on murder mystery where you will meet different characters and explore their connection to the case by heading inside their minds and reliving their memories which are crucial to the ongoing investigation. This is our review of the Xbox Series X|S version of RE:CALL where we explore some memories and fail miserably to catch a murderer.

RE:CALL puts you in the shoes of Bruno Gallagher who along with his friend Harry Ocean, visit different characters and go back into their memories to reconstruct them step-by-step and achieve the required results. You actually play as a Ghost who is currently occupying the body of Bruno as this is how you are referred to inside the game. You move around, interact with people, and complete tasks as Bruno however in reality, you are something the game calls a Ghost or an entity that keeps following different people. RE:CALL is a classic murder mystery game where you were present at a mansion and the owner of the mansion is killed however you fail to capture the thief and now you are trying your best to investigate the mystery and find the killer before anyone else gets killed, including your own self.

Review: RE:CALL

The gameplay of RE:CALL involves you to going back into memories of different NPCs and living them and changing certain things according to your decisions in order to manipulate the present according to your own will. The game features a diverse cast of different NPCs who are there for the entire story of the game depending on their involvement. While the memories are pretty vivid while you are exploring them, the key characters of the game are represented just as they are in the present however certain side characters like an office secretary or other side characters appear like phantoms since the character is unable to remember them exactly. Your task in RE:CALL is to relive these memories in order to progress in the story and if you fail at any step or perform a task that causes you to die, you have to restart the memory and try again while making different choices to ensure that the desired result is achieved at the end.

While RE:CALL has pretty a pretty strong narrative, it is heavily dependent on its gameplay as well. Each of the 7 levels including the concluding chapter has a lot of different tasks that you need to complete. Each level is like a huge maze that you first need to explore and see what is located where and how you can interact with various items. Once you start to make sense of a stage, you can start putting together different clues and tasks to progress as much as you can until you finally hit a barrier and a cutscene will either fail your attempt or you will manage to progress to the next part of the level. Some of the levels actually require you to fail a task multiple times in order to find the right solution and then you can move forward. This remains the case even if you already know the solution but you have to fail the level anyway in order for Bruno to understand how to get rid of the obstacle or solve a particular puzzle.

The levels are pretty decent in size so you can expect plenty of exploration and even with the options available, you will sometimes need to pick the exact same dialogue options or tasks in the right order in order to solve a clue. For example, during the second chapter, I was trying everything I could and was ignoring a particular choice however that particular choice ending up being the right solution so you really have to exhaust everything that a level offers to you in order to find the right solution to the puzzle and move on with the game. Depending on your own puzzle-solving skills and ability to understand various mechanics, the length of each chapter will vary. It took me nearly an hour to complete the fourth chapter of the game but before that, I blazed past the levels in less than 20 minutes each. As you progress, the levels start to become more complicated as well and will require more careful gameplay and decision making or you will be stuck in a restart loop.

It might sound too repetitive when I am saying it like this but when you are actually playing the game, you are quite invested in the whole narrative so even if you are replaying a section for the tenth time or the first time, you will be looking around always for something new. There is a lot of dialogue and different NPCs in the game that will be a vital part of the game. Interactions are not too diverse and once you have obtained what you need from a particular NPC, chances are that they will either repeat the same dialogue over and over again or just give you the same dialogue options to choose from and listen to the whole conversation again. During the first half of the game, I was a little lost with the story of the game because the whole time loop and rebuilding memories is a little overwhelming at the start however once you play through the initial levels, you start to get comfortable with the whole theme of RE:CALL.

Review: RE:CALL

There are no in-mission save spots so if you fail a memory, you will need to start from the start however in certain missions, dialogue is sometimes skipped and a few tasks are not reset to ensure that the gameplay flow is quick and does not feel to be too repetitive. In some instances, you will have to do all of the tasks in the same section since there is no mid-mission save point but most of the dialogue is skipped in these sections as well. Since RE:CALL is a decision-heavy game, you will need to perform exactly the same tasks required and the game does not branch into multiple paths depending on your choices. There is a linear path for progression however the game lets you figure it out on your own. The game does not have any sort of guidance or hand-holding and once you are at a level, you have to figure out everything on your own. There were a lot of instances during my playthrough where I was completely lost and I ended up restarting the entire level but ultimately, you have to figure out everything on your own.

I do have one complaint with the Xbox Series X|S version of the game and that is despite the game showing Quick Resume, it always restarted and any progress that I made in a level during my previous playthrough was lost. I always had to start whatever mission I was playing from its beginning. It worked fine when I was switching between different titles but upon shutting down the console and returning back to the game later, always made me restart the whole level. Apart from this, RE:CALL works like a charm on the console. The game is not too demanding when it comes to hardware but still, the gameplay is pretty refined and does not feel glitchy or poorly optimized at any time. Movement is silky smooth and even the transition between different screens, dialogue, and memories and present is pretty quick.

Another great aspect of RE:CALL is its soundtrack which keeps you company throughout the game. Since there is no audio dialogue in the game, the soundtrack is all that you hear throughout the game and it does not disappoint. The visuals are pixelated and you get a small choice of turning certain visual effects on and off on the Xbox Series X|S. The visuals are not mind-blowing but still, they serve the game with its overall theme and style pretty well. The controls are easy to understand and the learning curve of the game is really low. The only bit where you will get stuck in solving the different puzzles and since there is no hint system in the game, the completion time of the game will vary for you as well. During my first, unaware playthrough, I completed the whole game in around 8 hours however during my second playthrough, I managed to complete the game way earlier than that.

Final Verdict:

RE:CALL is a brilliant puzzle game and brings a new time-loop mechanic into play that we have not seen before. Choices that impact the story in real-time and NPCs that are more than just fillers further enhance the overall experience of the game. Apart from the inability to save the game mid-missions, RE:CALL is a brilliant experience that will keep you busy for a decent amount of time. The puzzles are quite intuitive and look fairly simple most of the time but combine the whole level and you have a maze that requires delicate planning and strategy for a smooth execution for everything to fall into its place. If you love puzzle games and are currently looking for a solid one with a brilliant narrative, plenty of dialogue, and different colorful NPC characters, look no further than RE:CALL.

Final Score: 8.0/10

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About the Author: Umair Khalid

Founder of GamesHedge, Umair enjoys a wide variety of video games ranging from RPGs to racing games. Currently busy with The Crew Motorfest and Way of the Hunter.

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