CBE Software’s Someday You’ll Return is a Silent Hill-like horror adventure and mystery game that just arrived on Steam. Here are our thoughts.
If CBE Software sounds familiar, then you’ve probably played their well-received 2014 game J.U.L.I.A: Among The Stars. They’re back after over five years or not releasing a new title, so the big question on our mind was whether or not the wait has been worth it. While the visual storytelling is excellent, the gameplay has me thinking this won’t be the indie classic that J.U.L.I.A. ended up being.
In the game, you play as the father of a young girl named Stela, who’s recently gone missing after previously running away from home on several occasions. Your search takes you to an area that’s haunted by the personal history you have with the place, and through some tense encounters you slowly start to unravel the story behind what happened here and gain more insights into the relationship between yourself and your daughter. A lot of the backdrops involve ancient woods as well as mysterious locations, adding to and becoming part of the story.
Though it’s ultimately a fairly linear adventure, Someday You’ll Return tries to hide this fact by not holding your hand a lot of time – though this can backfire when you feel lost due to a lack of clear objectives. I get that the sense of feeling “lost” is an integral part of the mystery, but good books and movies that deal with this theme will always end up putting you back on the right path before you lose interest – in interactive media like this that is trickier to do and the game experience can drag because of it. I like that challenges and puzzles mostly feel organic rather than “hey look, solve this or we won’t let you pass”, but the potential for walking around aimlessly is too great.
When the game reverts back to more traditional mechanics, the ambiance is lost to less-than-ideal implementations of things like stealth gameplay. While games like Resident Evil 7 provide excellent examples of these sections – scurrying away when you’re found out, hoping for a chance to escape – they feel unfair in Someday You’ll Return. The basics of a few good stealth encounters are there, but it feels like more development time was needed to iron out the rough edges.
The game also uses crafting mechanics, and even though it’s a bit of a thing in gaming these days (to include crafting) it felt a bit too cumbersome to me. I’ll admit I’m not a fan of crafting to begin with, but it felt like it just added to an experience I already thought needed to be streamlined more. And although that might sound overly negative, my desire for a more streamlined experience mostly came from wanting to find out more about the story and what happened next.
With gorgeous locations and lighting, as well as haunting and foreboding scenes, Someday You’ll Return plays out against a very impressive backdrop that was inspired by real life scenery in the Moravian region of the Czech Republic. The story premise is also solid, and lends itself very well to the mysterious visuals by sometimes evoking fear and dread. There’s some great interactive visual storytelling here, but it’s shrouded by gameplay elements that could have been implemented better.