Someday You’ll Return is a psychological horror game that follows Daniel, a father in search of his missing daughter Stella. As he traverses into the ancient Movarian Woods he begins to question his own sanity as his surroundings warp around him. The game plays heavily on feelings that we can connect with including missing children and being lost in the woods. Mix in some good, true survival horror and we have a great story on our hands. Where it struggles lies in the simplistic style of the gameplay and introduction to mechanics that are only ever seen once. To learn more about how my playthrough of Someday You’ll Return went, keep reading.
A World Meant To Explore
The bulk of the gameplay is spent exploring a vast world and navigating from one point to the next. Exploring was by far one of the most realistic game features. Instead of pointing me in the direction of my next task, I was forced to learn how to read maps and navigate using trailer makers. I spent time memorizing different trails and using the color-coded system to navigate between major hubs. As someone who hikes quite often is was refreshing to see how well they were able to mimic the feeling of exploring. On the other end, it also reminded me of how easy it is to get lost and turned around in the woods. This adds in a sense of stress that felt right at home with the environment.
The shocking change from beautiful woods to horror-filled nightmare makes both sides of this world that much more impressive. During the day and typically at the beginning of a chapter I navigated Daniel through the bright woods. Once night fell or as his sanity slipped due to events unfolding around him I was introduced to the darker part of these woods. What made it more frightening was that I wasn’t transported to another dimension, I was still in the same woods. Creatures now filled the woods and needed to be avoided or they would hunt me down and kill me. Someday You’ll Return was able to accomplish a beautiful balance between a world that makes you feel safe and a world that terrifies you that is on par with top genre titles like Layers of Fear.
Stealth Mechanics and More
During the darker parts of each chapter, I was able to experience the stealth mechanic to its fullest. Married along with a type of puzzle maze, I had to sneak past enemies to reach my final destination. They started simple and then with each encounter it ramped up. For example, early on I came into the possession of a magical totem. When used it would shift rocks and enemies out of the way, allowing me to run under to the other side. This little addition helped to make the stealth mechanic feel more well-rounded. Without a way to combat the enemies, the stealth mechanic needed to be strong and it really came through.
When enemies weren’t stalking me during the nightmare phase I spent my time tracking Daniel’s missing daughter Stella. There are no game mechanics that tie directly into tracking her down other than searching the forest and key locations. Instead, there is a heavy focus on uncovering what exactly happened in these woods. The story is told mostly through documents and items that can be picked up to elicit a response from Daniel along with puzzles to unlock key items. These items would point me in the next direction and story hub. There was a lot to take in, but the use of a journal made revisiting old information easy. There are several times that I found a document or item that didn’t have any relevance until later in the story.
Almost Clear Character Development
I enjoyed how Daniel’s character was not meant to be portrayed as the likable hero in this story. Our first introduction to him is after Stella goes missing in the woods. He is tracking her phone and heading to its location while arguing with who I assume is his now ex-wife. This continues as I began moving through the woods and listening to his arrogant monologuing. This lets up when he remarks on the woods or when he reminisces on his past memories. We learn a lot about Daniel and Stella’s relationship through journal entries from Stella’s childhood diary. Spoiler alert, she wasn’t very fond of him at all.
His character progression felt realistic for someone who is desperate to find their child. A large frustration I had with Daniel’s character which made it very hard to like him was the voice acting and disconnect from the current situation. At times I felt like he should have sounded much angrier or sarcasm was missed due to a monotone line read. Or how it jumped from one extreme to the next. One in particular actually became quite a joke after a while. No matter how angry Daniel was at the time, whenever I triggered the event for him to wash his hands, I was met with a very cheeky “refreshing” remark. In the end, I spent most of the game ignoring what he had to say and how he acted. I focused more on the story bits introduced through reading materials.
As my playthrough of Someday You’ll Return came to an end I had a lot of feelings. One of which was how amazed I was with the overall artistic design. This is a beautiful game that uses it’s good looks to its advantage. I thought this game was going to be a refreshing walk in the woods. With each step forward I felt the fear of needing to survive set in. I really love this feeling though so the more the merrier. While the mechanics could have felt more invested outside of the stealth mechanic the story had enough mystery to keep me interested. I even felt the need to go back and play through it again because, like any good horror game, this one has multiple endings to enjoy which are all affected by my choices.
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