Re:Turn – One Way Trip Review (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewed: We check out and provide our thoughts on Re:Turn – One Way Trip for the Nintendo Switch

GAME REVIEW

Re:Turn – One Way Trip Review (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewed by Nick Akerman

I can’t shake the feeling that Re:Turn – One Way Trip is a missed opportunity. The clunkily titled puzzler was advertised as a terrifying descent into madness and mystery, the launch trailer showcasing a fast-paced escape from a shuffling demon and the constant threat of giant, watching eyes housed within an abandoned train. The reality is far more monotonous.

Yuuta is a character you meet along the way

Early tension in the game provides false hope. A group of friends get into a heated exchange after telling scary stories around a campfire, with one sprinting directly into the darkness after it gets too personal. The horror cliches are ticked off quickly; the remaining group split up, with lead character Saki heading straight towards a rust-bitten train that appears out of nowhere, but not before finding a note declaring their love from an unnamed source.

The location is initially given life by red-eyed owls blinking in the foreground, a feature that seems like it’s setting up to be key throughout the game but is never used again. Intriguing ideas that aren’t capitalised on quickly come to define Re:Turn, a realisation that creeps up across its five-hour-plus playing time.

“The second half of the game grows tiresome because Re:Turn struggles to implement new tricks or scares.”

There’s an early moment where a ghostly woman’s face takes over the screen, her ear-to-ear smile flashing quickly before vanishing into the ether. The 2D pixelated art is dropped for a few seconds in favour of a smoother anime style, a technique used to heighten important moments throughout the story.

The spectre’s face is as close to an impactful jump scare as the game ever provides. You never see this woman in this way again, though, and any sense of shock subsides to numbness as you set about finding Saki’s friends.

The old school dining cart flaunts the best of ReTurn's art direction

Once you’re on the train, be prepared to dash between the same handful of rooms and carts for the duration. Saki is quickly whisked into a past version of the vessel which is racing through war-torn land and seemingly moments from disaster.

There’s a stark contrast between the original train and the present-day shell, nowhere more so than in the dining car which is lavished with rich colour and snooty guests when you visit its working form. The moments spent in the present-day skeleton are defined by muddy browns and a dullness only illuminated by the narrow cone of your flashlight.

“It’s extremely frustrating how few of the storylines come to a satisfying conclusion and interesting characters are left under-explored.”

Saki’s journey to save her friends flits back-and-forth through the timeline, but one thing stays identical in both: the puzzles are dull. Progress is nearly always made by finding the right thing at the right time, not a difficult feat considering you’re stuck in a short line of carts.

Simple objectives are repeated often. It might be a toilet handle, or it might be a strange fang ripped from a mask, but fundamentally you will be picking stuff up and taking them elsewhere. Even a piano scene, which tasks you with writing down a sequence of notes to play, is repeated and loses its impact the second time.

Much of the game is suffocatingly dark

The game’s final puzzle arguably frustrates the most due to a simple design issue that could have been easily altered. You must find a handful of clues throughout the train, returning to a reference point that then allows progress onto the next item once you complete the last one. This reference is light enough for anyone to pick up and carry with them. However, you’ll spend unnecessary time sprinting between carts, often as far away as possible, only to bring the desired clue back to your starting point. Perhaps 20 unnecessary doors need to be opened in an obvious filler section.

The second half of the game grows tiresome because Re:Turn struggles to implement new tricks or scares. The set-pieces are entertaining, often adding a burst of colour or a chase scene that kicks the adventure into life, though they are over quickly. Before long you’ll be back on the train, visiting the same toilet you’ve already seen seven times just in case something has magically appeared for you to pick up.

“Any search for deeper meaning is nullified by the only demon that stalks players throughout the game: boredom.”

It’s extremely frustrating how few of the storylines come to a satisfying conclusion and interesting characters are left under-explored. Saki’s fiancé is a good example of this: he’s side-lined for much of the game and when he does appear, his responses fluctuate almost by the sentence. He’s obsessive and odd, but it’s never explored beyond that. Good character setups are wasted all over and there’s so many plot holes that nothing has a lasting impact.

Re:Turn seems to know this, as well. Themes of love and truthfulness power the narration and we see troublesome relationships play out, often destroyed by one character holding a secret. Whether it’s a child hiding a toy or something more nefarious, Saki’s instinct is always to help, even if it puts her in huge danger.

She encounters scenes of extreme sadness and surprisingly brutal gore on the road to admitting the truth about her relationship. When she does, the revelation is completely at odds with the reasoning that pushed her this far to find her friends. The game ends immediately afterwards and there’s no payoff.

Much of the game is suffocatingly dark

She encounters scenes of extreme sadness and surprisingly brutal gore on the road to admitting the truth about her relationship. When she does, the revelation is completely at odds with the reasoning that pushed her this far to find her friends. The game ends immediately afterwards and there’s no payoff.

It’s a shame, because there’s genuinely some bright points along the way. Sound design is sharp, with constant whirring reminiscent of The Shining’s suffocating wind, and blood-curdling monster screams that are filled with anger. You’ll hear the same creaking door sound a couple of hundred times though, and there’s just not enough of the good stuff to keep it exciting.

VERDICT

Writer David Bergantino wasn’t far off weaving a memorable tale here. Re:Turn is completely let down by the lack of gameplay ideas, though. Any search for deeper meaning is nullified by the only demon that stalks players throughout the game: boredom. An interesting opening, intriguing characters and search for overarching morals are never explored close to their potential on a train that quickly derails and never gets back on track.

PROS:

  • Sharp sound design
  • Atmospheric art

CONS:

  • Mind-numbingly repetitive
  • Lacks scares
  • Fails to capitalise on plenty of potential
5/10Mediocre