A surreal and moody game, The Almost Gone uses unique mechanics to tell a grim story, refining the puzzle game genre for a truly worthwhile experience.

Some games are designed to make players happy, allowing them to conquer evil or get a shot of endorphins as they level up. The almost disappeared It is not like this. Instead, this indie game tells a brutal story of trauma and death, wrapped up in the mechanics of a puzzle-filled point-and-click adventure. But the unique isometric perspectives and subdued yet colorful aesthetic make The almost disappeared compelling to play with and offer a new take on a tried and true genre.

The almost disappeared tells the story of a girl caught between life and death. Her exploration of her changing environment reveals the truth about the circumstances of her death and the trauma that led to it. Using the point-and-click adventure game format, players discover the narrative surrounding the girl’s fate, unraveling a deeply traumatic storyline and a truly sad story through satisfying puzzle solving.

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Players move through the levels in one room at a time. Despite the fact that each room is often connected to larger floors (stacked in turn in even larger houses), experiencing only one room at a time allows for more in-depth investigations. Players can rotate the room to examine it from any angle, often reducing the walls to invisibility. Playing with a perspective like this requires The almost disappeared of a physical existence of the real world: this is a world that can only exist as code.

The almost disappeared blue

The end result is a diorama sensation – frozen moments amid catastrophic events that can be explored on the tiniest levels. The protagonist’s life becomes something like a doll’s house, equipped with the adornment of worldly and traumatic memories.

The game in perspective then becomes a key mechanic to interact with the worlds of The almost disappeared. Turning the room to the correct angle will resolve the arcane marks as pieces of the same symbol. Rotations also allow players to discover new clues hidden outside rooms or behind furniture. The constant rotations and changes of perspective become more than just a mechanic to interact with the art of the game, but an active component of the game.

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Playing with perspective feels like a new take on the traditional point-and-click adventure genre. Most of the early games (and many of the modern ones) are based on static single-perspective screens. The puzzles are all about accessing easily visible clues or even just looking behind immovable furniture. The almost disappeared Complicate this puzzle style by adding rotation and asking players to consider the point of view, leading to a new feel for this classic style of play.

The Almost Gone light pink

The almost disappeared It also features some unexpected mechanics for an otherwise familiar item collecting and puzzle solving adventure game. Certain levels have glowing dots that indicate that the player can travel through time by interacting with those objects. From time to time, players will have to configure things in the past to interact with them in the present. Time travel becomes a way of interacting with particular rooms in a whole new dimension, suggesting that they exist not only in the 3D Unity environment, but also over time, even if that particular axis is missing. represented visually on the screen.

Outside of these unique mechanics, The almost disappeared It is based on some puzzle games. Players will explore each room to find interactive objects, some of which must be combined or used together to find clues, solve puzzles, and eventually exit each locked door. These parts of the game don’t tread on much new ground, but they are still well implemented and fun to solve.

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Tonally, The almost disappeared it’s a pretty quiet game compared to some recent vibrant counterparts like Killer of paradise or Call of the sea. Each level has its own color theme, using light and dark variations instead of different colors. Pastel pinks and moody gray blues enclose each level in a particular aesthetic, but the fact that all levels use this monochrome set helps sell the bleak story. Not only the temperamental art of The almost disappeared distinguishes it from other games in the adventure and puzzle genres, it also matches the tone of the story.

There are gameplay moments that don’t fit the overall tone and feel of the game. At one point, players smash a television in the living room, only to be able to reach and interact with a wedding cake placed inside. These surreal actions lend themselves to an overall dreamy feel that works with some of the game’s weirdest mechanics (like time travel), but also unseats the player. The almost disappeared He is not committed to representing reality, which makes it unclear if the narrative he is telling is true, or if that matters.

The almost disappeared is a change of pace for the Happy Volcano development studio. It’s the studio’s first game since its founding, although the developers themselves previously partnered on Lava fever, a game that is based on fast reflexes and fast time events. His brilliant game contrasts with the tone and mechanics of The almost disappeared, but this seems to be the way Happy Volcano works. Each of its games belongs to a new genre and presents a very different look, as if the studio is trying to flex the breadth of its abilities.

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Even if Happy Volcano is not known for the power of its narrative stories and its ability to tell a serious story, it all seems to have come together to The almost disappeared. The game has received overwhelmingly positive reviews on Steam and has won several awards, including Best Mobile Game at the Belgian Games Awards, PC Indie Pitch and Gamescom and third place at the Big Indie Awards in Shezhen, China.

For fans of point and click adventures or storytelling puzzle games, The almost disappeared It is a new version of the traditional mechanics. It focuses on using perspective and atmosphere to tell a dark story and uses unique gameplay to heighten the experience. While 2020 was a banner year for indie puzzle games, The almost disappeared it still stands out as a truly worthwhile experience.

Developed by Happy Volcano and published by Playdigious and XD Network Inc., The Almost Gone is available for PC, MacOS, Nintendo Switch, iOS, and Android.

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