Title: Epanalepsis
Platform: PC, Mac and Linux (Reviewed on Mac)
Developer: Cameron Kunzelman
Publisher: Mastertronic
Release date: Out now!
Family Focus: Click here for more information.

First, I’ll start with me…

It could be argued that I am the completely wrong person to review a game like this.

I struggle to go play games with a 2D format; I struggle to play games that are generations old (unless it is Landstalker: The Treasures of King Nole on the Sega MegaDrive – but that’s only because that was the game that got me into gaming) and most of all, I’m a console gamer.

Nevertheless, I signed myself up to review a PC game and I swear to god, I wasn’t drunk. I really just wanted to open my mind up to what was out there on different formats.

Either way, I’ll be the first to admit that I sometimes really struggle to play ‘Indie’ games.

I struggle unless they are either (or all) of the following:

  1. Directed with a good storyline.
  2. Easy to play
  3. Easy to understand
  4. Addictive.

It might be worth noting that I am notoriously hard to please as well… so no pressure to the creator of this game before I start to get the ball rolling…

Anyway, Epanalepsis.

A beautiful word… isn’t it?
But the question is whether this is a beautiful game.

Truthfully, I didn’t know what to expect so like any remotely intrigued individual, I opened Google to start with.

At first, I was stunned to see that this game actually had a Kickstarter campaign. Hundreds of people had initially pledged to see a game get created that was still in the early stages of the process; a game that was effectively being pitched to the masses without the backing of a massive AAA company. Amazing really.

Anyway, Epanalepsis is a narrative driven point and click adventure which I actually liked the sound of, irrespective of the ‘Indie’ status.

I was always told never to judge a book by its cover so I loaded the game up and played.

Epanalepsis is set through multiple time periods and is centred on the same city. Players get to see the city grow and change throughout the game which is a really nice touch.

Often, I’ve wondered about game environments and thought about what they could have been like or might turn into. Epanalepsis hits that nail on the head. Whilst it might not be loaded with an immersive, breathing backdrop like a AAA title, it was still quite magical in its own way.

This is quite a unique review in a sense because there really isn’t much to the game in terms of depth. There is no inventory for your character. There are no taxing puzzles in place that make you stop and think. It’s really just a story book; a playable one at that.

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I don’t want to touch on the script too much because the game is short. Even just trying to summarise the story makes me feel that it might give it away and encourage people to skip the game completely. All I will say is that it’s worth it.

The story is quite clever and you can feel it as being very personable, not to mention – deep. It is almost as if you can experience the consistency of just one writer or creator, which I believe was the case. That’s why it feels like you were playing a book. There weren’t hundreds of writers that each participated in bringing life to the game and one of the benefits is that there is a lot you could miss by simply not clicking on various items or NPCs. It really makes it feel like there is more depth than there actually is.

Epanalepsis really is up to the player. Whilst it is linear in a sense where it just goes from A to B with the story, it’s up to the player to decide how to fill the gap between the two. Do you do the minimum required to progress or do you immerse yourself in the world and engage the NPCs and items on show?

If I can be honest, the pace of this game was very slow to begin with. The first character, Rachel, moves at a snail’s pace which I found very frustrating. That’s a personal thing though; I’m used to faster paced games where I duck and dive through scenery and fire aimlessly at my opponents but here… I was forced to watch every slow, mind numbing step.

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The game was easy to follow. So long as you read the text. Answer the phone; go to the toilet, chat to an NPC and so on. Don’t get confused though, this isn’t just a 2D variant of The Sims, these are simply some examples of what you need to do in order to progress the story.

By chapters two and three, I was high-fiving the air because the character pace was increased. I could experience the story now without angrily thinking I need to sit the game out because it wasn’t fast enough for me.

I would love to get in the head of the creator of this game because the story is either extremely profound and lets the player make up their own mind about what is going on, or is extremely confusing with only one true meaning that only the creator of the world would know. It sort of reminded me of the movie Inception based on the depth of what a few lines of simple text had to offer.

I want it to be said that it’s fair to say that my snobbery of the latest generation consoles has really made me lose touch with my gaming roots because Indie gaming is quite something.

I want it to be said that I was saddened that this title had to go through the Kickstarter route because it proves one thing – there is a world of talent out there that is being missed.

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I say that truly converted me to what an Indie game can accomplish.

There are so many avenues that this game could have explored with the backing of a major player in the industry. Perhaps the real answers of the story could be answered, explored and expanded upon. Perhaps the game could have become worthy of a film the size of the aforementioned Inception.

I’ll let it be said that whilst a major player could have transformed this game into something bigger, or better… it really didn’t need it. In a strange way, despite some possible plot holes or unanswered questions, it still felt like a complete game.

I go back to an earlier statement where I said:
A beautiful word… Epanalepsis. But is it as beautiful a game?

Firstly, the game lives up to the definition of the word so kudos for that.
Secondly, I would encourage anyone to play it and find out because whilst the game is short, the answer to that question is yes, absolutely.

I would hope this review is enough for anyone to take the same leap of faith I did.
Head on over to Steam to buy it now!

 

What Rocks! :)

  • A truly original feeling.
  • A personable script.
  • The fact the community came together to make it happen!

What Sucks :(

  • Slow pace initially.
  • Very short – definitely impacted on how far the story could be explored.

Family Focus

Epanalepsis does contain some rude language (albeit in text format) that you probably wouldn’t want your kids to be exposed to. Not to mention, the depth of the story would confuse them. Keep it to the adults to be safe!

GGS was supplied a copy of the game by the creator for the purpose of generating this review.