All is not as it seems --- The Almost Gone review

Originally published at: https://gamingtrend.com/feature/reviews/all-is-not-as-it-seems-the-almost-gone-review/


Life is full of mysteries, prompting questions such as who, what, when, where, why, and how? A great place to explore these concepts is in mystery games, and what greater mystery is there than discovering the truth behind your own death? That’s precisely what your goal is in The Almost Gone. It’s an interesting point-and-click game where you look for clues and solve puzzles in dioramas. You need to search everywhere in order to find answers; would you care to join me?

The Almost Gone starts with you waking up in your bedroom, seemingly confused. While exploring your room, you discover that your door is locked for some reason. You have to find the key, but where is it? It’s time to search every inch of the room for it, including solving puzzles along the way. After leaving your room, this is where the story truly begins. It’s not long before you realize that something is off: things look different than the last time you left your room, nobody is around, and you even encounter unexplained occurrences like black sludge, giant tree branches, and more.

I mentioned that you’ll be searching for clues to solve puzzles, but that’s not all you’ll find. Many objects in the world also provide backstory for your family’s history, your parents’ relationship, who your parents are deep down, your experiences with them, and more. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I recommend that you click on everything you can in order to gain more insight into this story. The more I discovered, the more I wanted to learn. I can’t say I was pleased with all that I unearthed, but that’s what happens when you want the truth; sometimes you get good news, other times you get bad news. Make sure to read all of the text that pops up, regardless of how menial it may seem. For all you know, that small detail could help you solve a puzzle or fill in a missing piece of the story for you. Trust me, that happened to me a few times.

The gameplay itself involves you looking at dioramas of different locations, such as your room, your house, the city streets, and more that I’d rather not spoil. Each location is split up into multiple pieces that you look at one at a time. For example, your room is separated into different dioramas based on the corners of the room. You can spin these dioramas in order to look at things from a different point of view; in fact, you’ll have to do that in order to get anywhere in the game. Sometimes there will be an object hidden behind a dresser that you couldn’t see without spinning behind it, or maybe you need the room at a certain angle in order to see a clue. Combine this aspect with puzzle room type gameplay, and here you’ve got The Almost Gone.

The game takes place throughout five chapters, each focusing on a different location. I appreciated how varied each space was in terms of level design, color palettes, and even puzzles. Sure, it’s always dioramas with searching and puzzles to be solved, but you were tasked with finding new ways to solve problems based on where you were. You’ll be picking up items to use along the way, with some of them being used in more clever ways than you’d expect. That doesn’t mean that the game is hard by any means, but it does provide a nice casual challenge. I had some genuinely head-scratching moments that I felt proud of for figuring out. All that being said, you’ll likely only be playing The Almost Gone for a few hours at most. Those few hours were easily worth the time to me, which is especially impressive given how simplistic the design and concept of the game is.

Now, I want to state that the puzzle gameplay and the story are both equal halves of the experience. If you want to truly experience The Almost Gone, be sure to give them both plenty of attention. I’ve repeated this a few times, but that’s because of how important that I feel it is for this game. It isn’t the most mind-blowing, heart-string pulling story, but it’s one that deserves some respect. The casual, relaxing nature of the game lends itself to the discoveries that you’ll be making, and that sets the tone for the entire game. The Almost Gone, while not perfect, is still worth your time.