I’m not a big fan of Remothered: Tormented Fathers, and that’s a damn shame. Despite being an homage to Rule of Rose (one of my all-time favorites), the game’s molasses controls and nasty transphobic plot twist soured the overall experience for me. But early looks at the game’s sequel, Broken Porcelain, piqued my curiosity, and the promise of a fresh narrative gave me confidence that the game’s writer might have taken criticism to heart and grown.
While the verdict’s still out on that last part, I can say that my time with the solid sequel has more promise than the original. Despite some glaring, game-breaking bugs in my preview build, Broken Porcelain is shaping up to be a return to the halcyon days of PS2 horror.
Now, when I say “PS2 horror,” I don’t necessarily mean tank controls, fixed camera angles, and stiff combat. Like any sensible person, I think those things are great, but they’re not the most popular mechanics in 2020. What that terms means, in this context, is a return to the twisted cerebral narratives, deliberately obtuse puzzles, and tense trial-and-error combat encounters of yesteryear.
As a fan of all those elements, Broken Porcelain understands how to utilize all of them to create a terse, sinister atmosphere. I walked on eggshells through every second of my time with the game, and was always braced for the worst possible fate to befall protagonist Jen. Every encounter with the demo’s baddie, Andrea, made my whole body tense up as I frantically ran and hid, lest she jab scissors into my temple.
Several times during my preview, however, I truly screwed up these encounters. Broken Porcelain is a game that punishes you for every mistake, and the moment you’re caught in close quarters with a foe, you have to hope and pray that you get out alive. Andrea hacked me to ribbons when I got close to her, and I’m a bit ashamed of just how many times she managed to off me.
Luckily, once I got acclimated to the game’s combat (or lack thereof,) I was able to handily ward her off. Like the previous game, Broken Porcelain takes a cue from Clock Tower 3‘s book in that you’re always pursued, but unable to truly kill your foes outside of designated story beats. This turns mundane things like dialing a phone, fixing a fuse box, or opening a safe into miniature anxiety attacks, as one wrong move feels like it can bring your assailant down on you at a moment’s notice. If you’re easily unnerved, this game probably won’t be for you, as it managed to spook even a horror veteran like myself.
The demo did ultimately give me a chance to dispatch Andrea, but unfortunately, this was the worst part of the whole experience. Players have to use the game’s stealth mechanics to sneak around and catch Andrea unawares, but the erratic and unpredictable AI made this way more frustrating than it needed to be. This sequence is where the game’s clunky and impressive controls also reared their head the most, with Jen refusing to sprint and turning in directions at random. It felt legitimately awful, and I’m hoping it’s polished up a little before release.
I also hope that the numerous technical issues I experienced during my time with the game are addressed. The game forced me to quit and reload the program more times than I could count. Objectives didn’t trigger, I clipped outside the game’s borders, and I got caught in numerous pieces of scenery – to name a few issues. On two occasions, button prompts for doors would straight-up refuse to appear, which forced me to quit and reload the game. This was a preview build, but even by that metric, I was alarmed by just how broken the experience was.
Which is frustrating, because I want to love Broken Porcelain. There’s certainly enough here in terms of atmosphere, mechanics, and narrative (which I won’t spoil any of this close to release) to grab me. It feels like a more confident game than its predecessor, and I’m infinitely more intrigued by its set-up. However, there are still too many variables in the air for me to get myself too excited. Will the tense, terrifying stealth buckle under the weight of technical issues? Will the writer veer into harmful territory again? Will the game’s narrative stay consistently chilling throughout? It’s hard to say at this point.
Whatever the case may be, I’ll be digging deeper into Remothered: Broken Porcelain before its release next Tuesday, so stay tuned for my final impressions around launch day.
Next: Remembering Rule Of Rose, The Game Too Scary For The West
- Game Previews
- Remothered: Broken Porcelain
Bella Blondeau is a lovable miscreant with a heart of gold… or so she says.
She likes long walks in dingy arcades, loves horror good and bad, and has a passion for anime girls of any and all varieties. Her favorite game is Nier: Automata, because she loves both robots and being sad.
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