27/09/2020

๐Ÿจ The Suicide of Rachel Foster | Review | PS4 | "A walking simulator you perhaps shouldn’t ‘Overlook’" ๐Ÿจ @One_O_One_Games #GameDev #IndieGames

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Game Title: The Suicide of Rachel Foster
Platform Reviewed: PS4
Rating: Melting

I was in the perfect zone for The Suicide of Rachel Foster. My partner had some stuff to sort out in the apartment and I had just been given a load of wine as a gift so I settled down on the couch in my usual, unusual but unusually comfortable position and turned up to the Timberline hotel.
I had no preconceptions of what the game was about, aside from the fact that it was a walking simulator. I’ve had a run of some really interesting ones over the last few months and felt in the right mood for another. Playing the role of a young woman named Nicole, the game begins with the protagonist driving through some pretty treacherous snow to the mountainous, abandoned Timberline resort in a bid to see what renovations need to be completed in order to get it ready for sale following the relatively recent death of both her long-separated parents.

The first things that grabbed me were the visuals and design of the hotel interior (which makes up the entirety of the game), the graphics are really saucy and the slow pace of Nicole’s movement means that you really get to drink it in. 
From the luxurious front of house areas with their rich wooden fascia – and awesome, tucked away arcade machine section, good – through to the more winding, staff areas and ruined top floor, I never got bored of making my way around. The setting and presentation was the best part of the game for me. 

The only other major character involved is a guy called Irving who is your telephone contact, an agent of FEMA. He is the man that you spend a lot of time chatting to and to whom you relay the problems at the hotel as you wait for the storm to ease and your lawyer to turn up.

These conversations, whilst well-implemented in how they show off the character personalities and foibles, allow you some direction in dialogue choice but ultimately lead to the same outcome which I feel is a strength as it allows the story to unfold directly and on a tight narrative.

Now, the narrative…this is a tough one to discuss without giving away spoilers but I’ll try to explain my issues with this, the most divisive part of the game.
Being a walking simulator, the gameplay is very light. You are guided along pretty strictly by simple goals as you explore the hotel in the nine days you spend there (the story takes around four hours to unfold) and the narrative is the hook. 

The problem is – and bear in mind I’m avoiding spoilers here – towards the end of the game when the cards are all shown, the story seems to focus on the most basic aspects of the tale, pushing aside plot points that I found to be far more explosive and revelatory to dig into. 

All I can really say is that the main characters seem quite solipsistic in how events affect them directly and emotionally with no thought given to other, more vulnerable people involved and this really makes the last half hour or so a bit of a strange one to sit through. 

Right up until the last scene (the absolute ending is a VERY binary choice) I was waiting for someone to address ‘the elephant in the hotel’ so to speak, but again, Nicole seems to only care about how the events have impacted her. I assume that was the goal but, from a couple of other articles I’ve read, I can see that it has left a really sour taste in some player’s mouths.
If you are a fan of low-key walking simulators with an atmospheric setting in the vein of Scratches then there will be something here for you, the hotel feels great to discover and there’s a constant sense of unease as Nicole reveals the past and the impact it has had but be prepared for an odd final act that seems to place some uncomfortable truths on the table and then refuse to fully acknowledge the unpleasantness of them. 

The game also crashed twice during my playthrough. Not a huge deal due to the regular auto-saving but an irritation, nonetheless.

Right, I’m off to book an alpine holiday.

❄️๐Ÿ’ฆ RATING: MELTING ❄️๐Ÿ’ฆ


Ratings Explained

ICE COOL (Great Game Recommended)

MELTING (Recommended with reservations, one to consider if you are a fan of the genre)

MELTED (Not A Recommended Purchase)


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