Recently, it seems like any kind of game that depicts the end of civilization as we know it is playing out as more a documentary than an actual piece of fiction. It’s a trope that most games and other mediums have been delving into for decades now, obviously being something that appeals to us gamers; those fascinated with exploring broken ruins of a once populated world. The Great Perhaps not only has one of the most intriguing titles of a game but also takes us into a time when the world as we know it has been destroyed. But why is there one survivor left?
You play as a cosmonaut called Kosmos who at the start of the game is found in deep space, witnessing the end of the world. He is then put to sleep for 100 years, before being woken and left to travel back to the planet. He is joined by his faithful AI companion L9 and they head back to Earth to try and work out what has happened. When they get there they discover there is a signal coming from another human being on the planet, one that must be alive, so they set out on an adventure to find that person. They also discover a strange lamp that gives Kosmos the ability to time travel, back to before the end of the world. The story is fantastically told through a mixture of visual storytelling and voice-over. It creates an intelligently constructed sci-fi story full of adventure, sorrow, and endurance. It’s the beating heartbeat of The Great Perhaps and I enjoyed every moment of its narrative, from start to finish.
The gameplay consists of seeing you control Kosmos through a 2.5D world, one in which he can basically move about, jump a short distance and pick objects up, before using and throwing them. It’s main USP is its time travel dynamic and how that’s used to solve puzzles – a quick press of a button will see you able to travel to the past (before the end of the world) for a short period of time. In this version of the world, you can navigate across areas that are filled with rubble, or open doors that are locked in the future world. You also get the opportunity to learn secrets, like that of working with plant food formulas by spying on a botanist in the past to be able to feed a giant plant in the future. It’s a very clever and inventive device that will test your brain to the limit, as you go about attempting to solve numerous puzzles.
In The Great Perhaps you travel across the world trying to follow the signal that points to the possible other human being, but now and again you will encounter strange monsters or a horrendous creature lurking in the shadows. Needless to say, they will kill you if you don’t escape. The accuracy of these escape sections is among my least favourite bits of the gameplay though, mainly as the character movement is quite slow at times and the jump mechanic isn’t as smooth as I would like from a game of this type. Luckily this isn’t the most important part of the gameplay and is only really needed in a couple of sections.
The game’s visuals are a masterpiece though, with the ability to switch between the past and the present in a flash, working seamlessly in motion. It’s helped that the design of the two worlds is marvelous, with the tone for the game employing a hand-drawn style of animation that could sit alongside many great pieces of animation. The characters, the European locations, and muted colours are all superb in their creation and The Great Perhaps is a delight on the eye throughout. I love that by turning on a simple lamp, you will get a hint or a ghostly apparition of what lies in the past before you go into full-on time travel mode. The game also hints at the sadness of a world destroyed in the background, with skeletons stacked together in an embrace or ruins of an old carnival strewn sadly across the broken world.
The soundtrack is equally as lovely; a sombre piece of music creation that supports the emotion and pathos of Kosmos traveling across the city. The voice-over work is of an extremely high standard as well, with a brilliant performance by the main actor who delivers his lines with hope and sadness beautifully.
The Great Perhaps will take you roughly three hours or so to finish, and it’s certainly possible to conclude it in one sitting. The puzzles can get tricky and you will need to experiment with the clues you find in both worlds in order to find success. But when you do find the solutions the feeling is hugely rewarding, and this in turn ensures that the journey is never frustrating. I found the sections where you have to be a bit stealthy not quite as effective, and some of the moments that focus on escape and utilising the jump mechanic are a tad annoying, but other than that The Great Perhaps on Xbox One is nearing must-buy territory – especially for those who love a good puzzler, a decent story and plenty of mystery.