Past Cure Review
Release Date: Feb 23 2018
Developer: Phantom 8 Studio
There are many problems that I can put up with for games that have an interesting story, bad graphics and minor technical glitches included. Sometimes though there’s just too much wrong with a game to make it feel worth finding out what’s around the next corner. Unfortunately, that’s definitely the case with recent release, Past Cure.
Past Cure’s story revolves around Ian, a former secret agent who was kidnapped by an unknown organisation for three years. Not only does he have no memory of this time, but he now suffers from both PTSD and painful psychic abilities. His brother has helped him get back on his feet as much as possible, and now with his help, Ian is going after the only link to his missing time, a mysterious drug ring. On paper it sounds like the plot of one of the most interesting games this year, so where did Past Cure go so far wrong?
I suspect a big part of it was overreaching what was possible for such a small indie developer. Past Cure combines a lot of different mechanical ideas; there’s stealth sections, there’s shooting sections, there’s puzzles that need to be solved with your psychic abilities and there’s areas that combine all three. As a result of this lack of focus, individual areas either feel monotonous or have glitches that make them incredibly difficult to play. The game has also tried to look relatively photo-realistic and ended up looking like a game made five years ago, both in terms of graphics and design.
One of the stranger issues I had with Past Cure was constantly getting lost as many of the areas I was in felt like they were a copy of one room recreated over and over again with minimal changes to create a larger environment. In most of the areas I explored, it all felt so similar that as soon as Ian died and respawned I would have almost no idea where I was until an enemy appeared to give me an idea of which section I was replaying. It’s particularly disappointing as the other two areas, particularly the beach house where Ian lives, are quite beautiful and very interesting to look around. The sound mix is pretty bad as well. The music is often so loud that it was impossible to hear any of the dialogue and some of the dialogue from the side characters is weirdly stilted as if their performance was cobbled together from different takes. However, I could easily overlook both of these issues while chasing such an interesting plot, but I couldn’t ignore some of the big problems with gameplay.
There are many issues with Past Cure’s gameplay, it often feels tedious and convoluted, but the problems I encountered with the stealth mechanic were the worst. I would be sneaking through the parking garage level, only to be spotted when standing directly behind the only enemy with no idea why they could see me. There is no indication at all of when the enemies can see you, until they start running towards you or open fire. Not only that, using the astral body mechanic you can see enemies’ cones of sight, but frequently they wouldn’t be pointing in the same direction as the character model’s eyes, often coming out of the side or back of their head after the character moved. This made the stealth only section literally impossible to get through for me, and after many attempts, trying to push through it for the story no longer felt worth it.
The sad part of it all is maybe with a lot more time, or with a lot more focus, Past Cure could have been a really good game. It definitely has a story I would have liked to see more of, but with so much wrong with the look, sound and gameplay, I found myself constantly pulled out of the game’s world. In the end, no matter how good the story, other elements of the game have to be there to back it up, and without them, Past Cure just isn’t worth playing.
Almost unplayable stealth mechanic
Repetitive, copy-and-paste environments
Bad sound quality and mix
Thank you to Phantom 8 Studio for providing us with a review copy of Past Cure. The screenshots in this review have been provided for the reviewer and as such are not necessarily representative of her experience with this game.