VG Tribune

The Long Reach Review

April 15, 2018 / 10:52 AM

By: Jesse Waldack

Thanks to Nintendo Dads Podcast Patron Bryan Scott for writing the following review for The Long Reach

Title: The Long Reach
Developer: Painted Black Games
Publisher: Merge Games
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 3/15/2018
Reviewed by: Bryan Scott

The Long Reach, published by Merge Games and developed by Painted Black Games, brings a dark and twisted sci-fi tale to the Nintendo Switch. The game does not take long to introduce the thrilling and shocking themes, which set me up on the edge of my seat for an exciting road ahead. But The Long Reach has a handful of technical issues which may affect your gameplay experience. Keep on reading as I share my thoughts about my time with this game.

Based in the fictional town of Baervox, New Hampshire, you start out playing as Calvin who seems to be having a difficult time with his girlfriend. Calvin wanders into a nearby convenience store where he is engaged in a fair amount of conversation with his girlfriend’s grandmother and the shop’s owner to set up a bit of story. Then, suddenly, something goes horribly wrong. The game fades to black and back into focus with the player now in control of a lab coat scientist. It’s here where we learn that these scientists are conducting experiments that seem to be getting out of control. It is your objective to speak with the other scientists to uncover the mystery of what is happening and bring a stop to the bizarre and horrific events that are occurring.

Visually, The Long Reach is a pleasure to look at with its 2D pixel art style that is reminiscent of games from the 16-bit era. Following the sci-fi horror theme, rooms and hallways in this office building are relatively dark, but the color palette is wide which gives life to the environment and that helps this art style work as well as it does.

The sound is also superbly designed. The game is mostly quiet when you’re just exploring or trying to solve a puzzle, but in a similar fashion to horror movies, intense music ramps up quickly when crazy stuff starts to happen. The sound design is certainly spot on for a game in this survival horror genre.

Gameplay in The Long Reach is all about traversing the science laboratory environment you’re in, picking up objects along the way, and then locating the correct place to use said objects. It’s quite reminiscent of point-and-click adventure games from the early PC era, except you’re not using a mouse cursor to select inventory items for use. The pop-down inventory menu is toggled with the X button, and as you can see here, I have two items in my stash — a flashlight and some tranquilizers. The writers also included clever quips when hovering over each inventory item or when attempting to use items where they obviously do not belong, so it can be rather amusing to read those. From what I’ve played so far there aren’t any combat elements, but you can still die, so you will have to find ways to survive without guns or punches. On the family-friendliness front, remember that this is a Mature rated horror title with a fair amount of adult language and gory animations (albeit low-res pixel style, but still.) You might want to save this one for the adults or older teens in the house.

Unfortunately, we’ve come to the end of things that I enjoy about The Long Reach. In my play time with it, I encountered a plethora of bugs — and not just odd glitches you can ignore. But serious, game-breaking bugs. On multiple occasions (and in fact, the very first time I loaded the game) I got stuck on a frozen “Loading” screen. To be sure it wasn’t just taking a while, I let the game sit for roughly 10 minutes only to come back to it still loading. The game’s load screen music was still playing so it wasn’t obvious that it was frozen, but 10 minutes should be more than sufficient to start the game for the first time (my second attempt loaded nearly instantly). On a few other play attempts, it froze again loading up my save file. Another game-breaking bug I encountered a few times was my character getting stuck in a shoulder shrug animation. Sometimes when you try to interact with an object in the environment, the character will just shrug if you don’t have what you need to interact with it. My character made a habit of shrugging sometimes, getting stuck in a shrug loop that no button combination would break him free of. The home button is the only button that would elicit a response from the software which then allowed me to quit the game and try loading it again. Unfortunately, due to the nature of these progress-killing bugs, and the frequency with which they were occurring, I’ve decided not to continue in my play through until the game receives some patching. It feels more like a beta release than what a final shipped product normally feels like. I reached out to the developer team via their Twitter account to report the game-breaking bugs in hopes that feedback might help them learn of and fix the issues. They responded that they were already aware and working on it, but as of the time of this writing, the game is still on its initial 1.0.0 release.

The Long Reach has so much promise. And I think that’s what makes me so disappointed with my attempts to play it. The setting and style are visually appealing, the music is spot on and even spooky at times, and the puzzles and gameplay are fun — when it works. But with the game constantly breaking, it also breaks the immersion and fun factor. I will absolutely return to this title once some patches are released, but until then I cannot recommend it.

A special thank you to Merge Games for providing us with a review copy.

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About the author /


Having played Intellivision and Atari games since he was six, Jesse has not only grown up with video games, but has seen just about everything. A husband and father of three teenagers, he still tries to squeeze in a game or three when he is able.

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1 Comment

  1. Tim Aulph

    That is to bad about this game because, I would have probably checked this out based on Bryan’s recommendation? I hope there are patches coming.

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