Before s n Take Leave~~~~~~~~~~~~
by khrys on Steam
Before I get to the review I should add why I recommended this game because it definitely won't appeal to everyone but this is a combination of an Awareness of Bullying set in a Surreal Lucid Dreaming environment & that is a very original way to spread a message...
This game starts with the male protagonist, Gil, telling us of less positive sides to his life up to the present day which is voice acted in an Italian accent simultaneously alongside broken English text on the screen.
The opening scene lands us in Gil's room that can be explored using the common UNITY controls. The first thing that will grab your attention is the complexity behind the simple act of picking up an interactive item. In most games the item is taken and ends up in an inventory to use as and when needed BUT here the item can be picked up and there are a few actions to be done : Zoom Take Leave
being the main choices. If you're able to Take the item it will go into the Inventory (ESC key) otherwise a message will show saying it cannot be taken.
The player can investigate other areas of the room (switching on/off lamps & opening drawers among them) but the main objective is obvious as you see a circular light area near the bed to head towards.
Upon entering this lighted circle the screen loads you into Gil's Lucid Dreamworld which takes you down the path leading to Gil's past school and during this visual walk you see the credit introduction to the game - this was a nice touch that I hadn't seen used before in an Indie title.
So why is Gil using his Lucid dreaming powers? Well, it's here where Gil will face past school life events that have deep rooted psychological effects on him and, as we enter areas of the school, Gil (through the voice acting) briefly explains past scenarios that occurred.The aim of the game is to help Gil overcome the memories and bury his psycho-traumatic fears
by finding items such as keys to access school areas then, once inside, solve puzzles as dictated by Gil or shown in note hints. I should add one of the first puzzles has been mentioned in other reviews as being too vague or challenging and I agree to an extent mainly because while you are in Gil's Lucid dream you have a healthbar in the lower left of the screen that shows as a heart within a circle. This circle gradually disappears and, as the circle gets shorter, your vision is made blurry and Gil's 'mental' temperament becomes more erratic. When this circle fades away you restart the level. Luckily there are plenty of 'medicine bottles' to collect that helps replenish Gil's state of mind. This makes the puzzle solving a lot more challenging as it becomes not only a gradual time based situation but the blurriness makes it harder to investigate. (I should add that during movements like walking there is a blurred sensation where the environment comes into focus each time and this can be awkward for anyone with Motion Sickness or other similar problems)
The inventory shows as a full-screen layout with block areas to the left where your collected items are stored and, to the right, is the actions you can do with the items. Personally I feel this inventory can be replaced and just have the item controls I mentioned above that are seen when investigating an inventory item. This means after you have picked up the medicine bottles they can be used at a push of a set-button (say Shift key as an example) instead of having to go through the longer journey of accessing the inventory screen. This will help in a big way with the first puzzle of solving the safe code.
One very immersive side to the game was the sound as it complimented the lucid blur effects used when Gil was succumbing to this 'dark side' during the repression stages of his Lucid dreaming.
The message within the game touches on a very real & traumatising time that seriously impacts on a young teens development both socially & within themselves. I admired the unique approach taken in this gameplay towards that subject and, as I said at the start, it's why I recommend this game. Yes it has its faults and it needs polishing but its got a lot of potential.
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