A dream is a dream, but then it is also a nightmare. What makes them different you might ask? We all believe it to be an easy answer. A dream is good, while a nightmare is bad. We often assimilate dreams with good interactions, happy memories, or aspirations that we have. While nightmares terrify us, they remind us of the evil in the world, and just are things we do not wish to happen. They have clear differences, but yet they are the same thing stemming from the same part of the brain. What truly makes them different is perspective and that is exactly what this game is based around, perspective!
‘n Verlore Verstand is an interactive adventure title and titles of this nature are commonly referred to as walking simulators. The game was developed and published by Skobbejak Games and is referenced as the first ID@Xbox Game to be released from Africa. The game follows a nameless, silent protagonist as they awake in a field. Nothing is mentioned as of why you are in this field, who you are, or what you are supposed to be doing. A tree appears in the distance and as anyone in a barren field filled with nothing but themselves and a lone tree a couple yards away would do, you approach the tree. Arriving at the tree prompts a blurry teleportation effect that warps you to the next stage and the game states that you have beaten level one. Wait, we beat the first level already? We didn’t do anything! Ah well then, tutorials can be short maybe the next one will be better. The second stage starts as you are facing a glowing door in a weird creepy corridor and again there is nothing prompting you what to do. You wander aimlessly throughout the house, avoiding trapdoors and going through regular doors until you find the exit. Oh boy! Level three, I wonder what this has in store for me.
There really is not much to talk about mechanics-wise when dealing with this title. You can walk forward, backward, left, right, and you can even jump. I know, I did not see that coming either. You can also interact with a few objectives you find throughout the ‘story’, but that doesn’t even entitle you to press a different button. You look at the object and it triggers on its own. So, I am guessing that our character is a superhero with telepathy now! The more you know! Each level is the same, but it gets longer and a bit more difficult. You start at point A, you run to point B, jump over some hurdles, then you get to point C and move to the next level. It is that pattern over and over again, except more hurdles and the occasional puzzle. There is not much variety to the gameplay of ‘n Verlore Verstand even for a walking simulator.
Now for the best part of the game, which is the visuals. From a visual standpoint, the title is beautiful and each environment builds upon itself to an amazing level. The environments are breathtaking and look like they have been taken right out of a painting. The landscape is great and unfortunately is the only good thing I can say about this game. The soundtrack, on the other hand, is average. The music is atmospheric but doesn’t do that great of a job of making you feel immersed. The sounds are clear and the music has an orchestral feel, but it doesn’t do much to the game.
I am a fan of walking simulators and games like Dear Esther and Virginia are some of my favorite games that I have worked with. When I saw ‘n Verlore Verstand on the Xbox Marketplace, I was astonished as it looked so good and I personally asked that we request this title. Oh boy, was I wrong in my beginning judgment. The environments lived up to my expectations and the music was not too bad, but the gameplay was just something that I could not bear. I was interested at first of the dream-like state that the protagonist was in and as the levels went on I thought the game was going somewhere. However, it didn’t and it just began to become bland and not fun at all to play. I have some huge gripes with this title. To start, THERE IS NO STORY! The game starts without a cutscene, dialogue, interaction or anything. It is just the protagonist in a damn field and he isn’t doing anything except standing there. I let that go and moved on to the next level and it was the same thing. I have played games where there is no dialogue, Virginia for example, and that game was enjoyable because of the interactions and visuals that served as the backbone for an actual narrative. This title did not do anything near that matter. You do not interact with anybody and your character is silent, giving cause for some sort replacement to make sense of the situation around you, but there just wasn't. The game is a big pile of confusion that keeps piling on top of itself and I do not see the joy in endlessly walking through the scenery.
In the end, ‘n Verlore Verstand is not an enjoyable game and it really is not an enjoyable experience either. You do not do anything towards a common goal and if you were, there is no way of knowing that you are achieving something. The game is priced at $15 USD and I feel that is about too much for this title unfortunately. I do believe it is a great feat for the members of Skobbejak Games being the first team from Africa to have an ID@Xbox Game, but the game fell flat and just was not good. I really wish it was better, but it just had no redeeming qualities and I would not recommend that anyone pick this game up without doing some serious research.
Note: A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of the review
Final Score: 4/10
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