(Spoiler Free) Past Cure Review
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Past Cure is a 3rd person action/stealth/thriller game developed and published by Phantom 8 Studio based in Berlin Germany. I purchased the game not knowing anything about it, and only watched the trailer before starting my play through. Which is rare for me since I have a large backlog and have reduced my purchases to highly rated games or those on sale. It didn't have any rating yet on PSN, and it was a rare opportunity for me to play a game that I didn't know anything about, good or bad. Past Cure released yesterday on February 23rd and available on PSN and Steam for $29.99.
The story is about a man named Ian, who is trying to piece together what happened to him during three years of his disappearance. When he returns mysteriously from his abduction he has developed special powers that also cause him to have hallucinations and bad nightmares. He is on a mission to find out what happened to him and get revenge on those who are responsible. Throughout the duration of the story campaign, which clocks in at about 5-6 hours, you will be able to use these powers, such as astral projection and time manipulation. Telekinesis is also a power mentioned in the game and on the game's website but would be the same as interacting with objects during astral projection. So I wouldn't consider it a third power. The game shines when utilizing these powers to solve puzzles and avoid detection.
The game advertises as being 50% action, 50% stealth, 50% thriller and 50% horror. I enjoyed most the stealth and horror aspects of the game. With the length of the game being as short as it was, it could have benefited from focusing more gameplay on its strengths. For me, the action sequences were the least enjoyable, with spotty enemy AI and using cover to easily take out numerous enemies. What I enjoyed most was stretches of gameplay that didn't have enemies, but had me exploring new areas that blurred the lines between dreams and reality.
The game did feel like a unique experience and the story had me engaged till the end. However, there are definitely strong influences from other games that made Past Cure feel like a homage to other games, and not being able to develop an identity of its own. The games that come to my mind are the action combat of Uncharted, the stealth gameplay of Metal Gear Solid, and the imagery/tone of Alan Wake or Heavy Rain.
What Phantom 8 Studio did absolutely deliver in my opinion was the story-driven experience with great cut scenes that had me guessing and intrigued till the end. I'm excited to play through the game again to look for anything I missed the first time through. For a small developer and in-house publishing, the dialogue, facial animations and environments were of high quality. And I look forward to what games Phantom 8 have planned for the future.
My overall score for this game would be a 6 out of 10. There are a lot of things I could nitpick about and how other games did it better, but overall I enjoyed it and think everyone should also give it a try. This definitely has the potential to be a sleeper hit that I may be way off base on, so let me know what you think in the comments below.