Review: The Long Reach (PS4)

I grew up on Amiga point and click adventures like Curse of Enchantia and The Secret of Monkey Island, so I felt at home playing The Long Reach straight away. There’s no pointing and clicking per se, but this is still very much in the same vein – scour the screen for objects, then work out where to use them to progress. It’s an old trick, but it still works beautifully.

The game starts with a wonderful bait and switch that I’ll try not to spoil, but it’s a good indication of the quality of the story and writing throughout. In a nutshell, an experiment in a nefarious laboratory goes horrendously wrong, and the rest of the game is about the efforts to find out what happened and put it right. The dialogue is one of the game’s highlights – its packed with natural sounding conversation and deliciously funny reply options, with my only complaint being that I wanted more of it. The game does a great job of fleshing out the personalities of each character with a minimum of exposition, and I found myself engrossed in their stories, willingly clicking onward to find out what happens to all of them. And it turns out a great deal happens, with some wonderful and unexpected twists and turns along the way.

You control your character directly, using the analogue stick to move them around the 2D corridors, and objects you can interact with are helpfully highlighted in yellow as you walk past them. This means it’s very hard to miss something important, unlike in the point and clickers of old – I remember once missing an object in Monkey Island that was about a pixel wide somewhere in the forest, and spending unhappy hours backtracking in vain. Thankfully there’s none of that here – and each area only encompasses a few screens, so if you do end up missing something, it’s fairly simple to check all the rooms for anything you’ve missed.

Having said that, the game does fall afoul of the age-old point and click problem of the illogical puzzle. There were three points in the game where I had no clue about what to do next, and so resorted to consulting an online guide. Each time, rather than greet the solution with an “Aha, of course!”, I found myself muttering “Really?” – generally the sign of an unsatisfying puzzle. Yet having said that, most of the puzzles in the game are fairly straightforward, following the pattern of “What on earth do I do with this?” followed by “Well perhaps if I try…” and ending on a triumphant “Yes, did it!” And to be honest, I still haven’t played a point and clicker that doesn’t have at least one illogical puzzle – it seems they’re par for the course in this particular genre, unfortunately.

The pixel graphics deserve a special mention – they’re brimming with character, and genuinely beautiful in some places – and downright unnerving in others. The music, too, although sparse, is well suited and even gives you a hint to a puzzle solution later on, a really nice touch that made me smile when I realised it. Overall, the game presentation is excellent, and despite getting stuck a few times, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing. In fact, I didn’t want it to end. Indeed, the game is fairly short – I finished it in around four hours I think – but what’s there is wonderful, and I’d happily play a sequel.

Point and click adventures are rare these days, and good ones are even rarer, so this is a welcome find indeed.

The Long Reach is available for PC, PS4 Xbox One and Switch. We reviewed the PS4 version.

Disclosure statement: Review code for The Long Reach was provided by Merge Games. A Most Agreeable Pastime operates as an independent site, and all opinions expressed are those of the author.

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