As someone who grew up with the Silent Hill franchise and was heartbroken with Konami’s decision to can the newest installment a few years back, I was thrilled when I started Past Cure. Opening in a dilapidated building with the majority of the furniture hanging from the ceiling and beautifully rendered debris floating through the air, nostalgia hit me pretty hard. After a brief period of exploration and arming myself with a pistol, I faced the first enemy, a white nude man who resembled the Architect from the film Prometheus. Not only did he resemble the antagonist, he promptly picked me up and curb stomped me American History X style. My next attempt at battling the unnamed assailant resulted in him shattering into a million pieces, as the type of enemy is comprised of what appears to be porcelain. Further exploration greeted me with strange red doors that would open, yielding more of these jerks, which got my adrenaline pumping since our protagonist wasn’t the best at gun play. I assumed this was a mechanic similar to Silent Hill tasking an everyday Joe to fight for his life out of nowhere. Sadly, I was wrong and this is where the joy stopped.
Upon completing the opening level, you’ll wake up in a lavish mansion in the middle of nowhere. Our hero Ian comes to consciousness from a nightmare, and contrary to what I initially thought, he is a trained killer who was part of a government operation that granted him super powers and is currently in hiding after losing 3 years of his memory. You’ll spend the next few hours (if you make it that far) trying to piece together his fractured memory. The story, while not overly well written, intrigued me; however, the game quickly falls apart at this point, much like our porcelain antagonists. You’ll run through a brief tutorial which teaches you the ins and outs of combat as well as using his paranormal abilities. Ian can project himself out of his mind and float around outside of his body, allowing him to interact with certain items or slow down time. These are timed abilities that will recharge and can be refilled by taking the medication he is given to maintain his sanity. Using the abilities too often will result in Ian going insane and the game’s visuals appear to glitch to the point that you cannot function. Sadly, these abilities cannot be upgraded in any way and the abilities drain very quickly in the normal game mode. Dropping the difficulty down to easy does make them slightly more efficient, but not by much. These mechanics are not remotely new to the gaming world, and have been executed much more effectively in other titles.
The overall presentation of the game is lackluster. While the initial levels offer visuals that are on par with this console generation, most of the character models are extremely mediocre and the environments slowly begin to revert to PS2 levels of detail. I enjoyed the opening level in addition to wandering throughout the mansion, but the following levels looked comparable to Max Payne 2. Ian, as well as the other characters, feature facial animations that reminded me of the flat faces featured on Goldeneye 64. The voice acting is not much better, which sounds like it was written and performed by Tommy Wiseau.
As I mentioned previously, the gunplay is awful but manageable; however, the melee combat is not. This consists of mashing face buttons or performing quick time events that flash so quickly you don’t have time to react. This will be an issue regularly, as the enemies you face in the middle of the game (which I am assuming are modeled after the Agent’s from The Matrix) take multiple bullets to the head with a hilarious amount of blood, and continue to run head first into you and attack you with their fists. Taking cover during firefights is often a chore, as the cover system present is a nightmare to deal with. While you can crouch or run, switching between them to change cover is a mess and I would often still take fire through the car or other set pieces you hide behind. All of this, coupled with the AI’s pinpoint accuracy meant death came often. While there are plenty of mid mission checkpoints, their placement is awful; most require the player to traverse long distances and watch cut scenes again to get back into the game.
The stealth sections do not fare much better, especially when the mechanic is required. While you do have a stealth kill ability that works well if executed properly, the enemies are too clustered in the open to make this a viable option. Around the midpoint of the game, I was tasked with pickpocketing a keycard from a hotel staff member. With narrow corridors that provided minimal cover, there were no less than 5 enemies present at any given point and no matter which route I took, either a camera or guard would spot me, resulting in a game over screen.
Past Cure starts out as a very promising title, but quickly falls apart and comes across as a game that has some great ideas but is plagued by mechanics being shoehorned in throughout. While we were informed that a day one patch was to be released to fix a number of issues (none of which included in the notes were an issue for me), in its current state, I would wait to see if the mechanics are patched as well. We will be sure to update this review if any of the issues mentioned previously are corrected at launch.
3 out of 10
- Some Interesting Themes
- Opening Level is a Nice Throwback to Silent Hill
- Lackluster Presentation
- Horrible Combat
- Too Many Subpar Mechanics
Past Cure was developed and published by Phantom 8 Studio. It was released on PC, PS4, and XB1 on February 23rd, 2018 for $29.99. The game was provided to us for review on PS4. If you’d like to see more of Past Cure, check out the official site.
Here at GBG we use a rating method that you are more than likely familiar with – a scale of 1 to 10. For clarification, we intend on using the entire scale: 1-4 is something you should probably avoid paying for; 5-7 is something that is worth playing, but probably not at full price; 8-10 is a great title that you can feel confident about buying. If you have any questions or comments about how we rate a game, please let us know.