Past Cure Review

Player(s): 1
Extra Features: N/A

Past Cure is a third person psychological thriller action game developed by Phantom 8 Studio. Phantom 8 is a small 8 person development team based in Berlin and this is their first game. Past Cure is highly cinematic, near the level of a Max Payne game, and it has around the same type of gameplay as a Max Payne game as well. I was instantly drawn to the game through the trailers that show off plenty of action and time manipulation with telekinesis. After finishing Past Cure, I must say that the game is a mix of good and bad but it shows off potential for Phantom 8, mainly in terms of atmosphere and cinematic gameplay.

Players take on the role of Ian, a former elite soldier who has been experimented on and plans to exact revenge against the organization responsible. With all of the experimentation and torture that Ian has suffered, he has gained telekinetic powers and often drifts between reality and a hallucinogenic state. The game plays around with Ian's reality and hallucinogenic drifts rather well in the levels that players will go through.

Past Cure screenshot 5

As already mentioned, the game has a strong Max Payne vibe. The gameplay is highly cinematic and you'll be engaging in many firefights with the help of telekinetic powers. The game emphasizes stealth at some points, but you can basically play in whatever way you want. Stealth can be annoying to achieve with the game's camera at times though - it's so hard to see around some corners. The game REALLY needs an ability to stick to a wall to see around corners more carefully. It's amazing that a game such as this is missing a cover system honestly.

Ian gets access to a total of four guns throughout the game - two handguns (one a sniper), a machine pistol and a shotgun (final stage for shotgun). There really needs to be more of a variety of guns. I also found that the precision aiming with all guns is off at times when going for headshots. It's quite disappointing to miss a headshot when the sniper handgun cursor is pointing directly at an enemy's head. It's understandable that a handgun will miss sometimes, but I got CONSTANT missed headshots with all weapons.

Along with the guns, Ian has two telekinetic powers as his disposal - Astral Projection and Time Perception. Astral Projection allows Ian to hover in a radius around him in spirit form (an outer body experience) and he can manipulate switches and break cameras while doing so. Time Perception is basically bullet time from Max Payne - Ian moves fast while those around him move slow, allowing for moments of precision aim. Time Perception mode has a some very satisfying headshots - literally blood flies out of the back of an enemy's head when you shoot while the power is activated. While the telekinetic powers make gameplay more interesting, I can't help but feel that they could have been expanded upon more. Astral Projection feels nearly useless except for taking down a few cameras throughout levels and Time Perception is all about slowing down action sequences for precision shots. Time Perception is actually used to slow down time to get across some crumbling bridges early in the game (in a tutorial), but it is never used that way again.

Past Cure screenshot 11

Past Cure is a very short game. The game only took me around 6 total hours to complete and I am one that often takes my time. The main playtime comes in the final stage which starts to throw everything at the player all at once. There is also one very long boss fight at the end of the game. Many of the early stages are spent with tutorials. The second and third stages are tutorials on how to use basic combat, firearms and your telekinetic powers. The game spends way too long holding your hand and trying to teach you to the point where it becomes annoying. Even the fourth chapter, which is a mix of action and story, feels like a combat tutorial with how the gameplay sequences are provided. Chapter 4 is literally, walk into a garage and kill enemies then go through a small room to another garage then repeat. Some slight variety would have gone a long way in that chapter since the action gameplay is nice, but when repeated several times throughout the same environments, it gets stale. The enemies also shout out what they are going to do ahead of time such as saying "I'm going in" or "I've got to reload". It's like the game does this to tell players when enemies are vulnerable with how much it is used.

The game does switch up the gameplay with a nice horror segment later in the game where Ian is unarmed and only has access to telekinetic powers. This stage has some very nice horror atmosphere as well. Speaking of atmosphere, that is one thing that Past Cure does very well from beginning to end. The game's story, even though it feels incomplete, has a nice feel to it and it's very immersive. The voices of Past Cure are done fairly well - there are some lines that sound like they are read off a script, but overall the voice acting is done well enough. The overall sound is pretty good - I especially like the song that plays on the main menu and ending credits.

Past Cure has the right type of story and atmosphere for a great story, but I just feel we are missing too much of the full story by the time the game ends - there are so many unanswered questions. It feels as if you're at a point in a movie where the big plot twist finally comes out and then the movie just ends abruptly without any type of closure or final sequence. The gameplay to Past Cure is fun, but it comes across as too basic by the time I had gotten through many of the levels and the overall game spends way too much time with tutorials early on. Overall, Past Cure had a lot of potential, but it just feels like it could have been more than what it is. Some people, including myself, will enjoy the game for what it has to offer, but I cannot help but feel that game is very much lacking in many ways.

The Good:
+ Great cutscenes and cinematic gameplay
+ Slow-motion headshots are quite satisfying
+ Great atmosphere and interesting story

The Bad:
- Gameplay can feel repetitive in early chapters
- Not enough weapons and uses of telekinetic powers are too limited
- Story doesn't really go anywhere by the end of the game

Final Rating: 65% - Past Cure is a mix of good and bad, but all of it is very cinematic and filled with atmosphere at least.


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