Welcome to my first review of the year! In this one, we’ll be talking about Sense – A Cyberpunk Ghost Story. Some of you might already be familiar with this game, since it released on Steam last summer. Sense is a 2.5D horror game inspired by Clock Tower and Fatal Frame, mixing cyberpunk with traditional Cantonese folklore. The game by developer Suzaku and publisher Top Hat Studios has received positive reviews thus far, but have also been caught in a bit of controversy. A lot complains were thrown in their faces, and even death treats came up. Now, a lot of people are demanding to censor their game, but that ain’t happening so let’s see what the fuss is about, and if this game is any good, shall we?
We played Sense – A Cyberpunk Ghost Story for 8 hours on the Nintendo Switch.
- Fun gameplay: The overall gameplay was rather fun. There was a lot of puzzling involved, which I do enjoy in a game. Going back to a certain room because you remember an item being there that could come in handy, or looking in your journal for a code that you picked up somewhere so you can unlock a box or something. However, the puzzling did not require you to dig deep or something, the answers were usually pretty obvious. I really did enjoy the overall gameplay and discovering new rooms, floors, etc. If it hadn’t been for the countless backtracking (which I’ll talk about a little more later), I’m sure the experience would be great. A little more variation in the apartment rooms would have been nice too though.
- Graphics: Now, the graphics are why this game and its developer have gotten quite some media attention. I’m going to give you my absolute honest opinion on the matter, but with regards to reviewing the game of course. Yes, when I first received this title, my immediate thought was: ugh, girls with big boobs, small waists, and big asses, and just sexist visualization, I’m not in the mood for this. My boyfriend had the exact same reaction when just looking at the game in the Nintendo Shop. Looking past this, the visuals are ok. They’re not that special, but they suffice, you know. I did like the horror-feel that the game offered.
- Not really as advertised: So I was expecting a cyberpunk and horror adventure. It felt a little cyberpunk to me, but honestly, not nearly enough to call the game a ‘cyberpunk story’. You spent a lot of time in an apartment complex, which is just very grey and repetitive. Another theme is horror, which didn’t sit right with me either. It’s not a frightening game, nor is it filled with terrors or anything. There are ghosts wandering around though, and I did enjoy those. However, I often wasn’t a fan of the noises they produced. I turned down the volume most of the time because I absolutely hated the sounds they made.
- Saving: I was a bit confused to see two saving mechanism. On the one hand, there’s your basic quick saves. On the other hand, there are rooms with TV’s and recorders where you can ‘record’ and save your progress. In order to be able to to this, however, you need to find Betamax tapes along the way. But why would you care about the Betamax tapes if you can just use quick save at any time? Well, I looked a little into this because it seemed strange to me. Apparently, the game only offered the Betamax saves first. Later, the quick save option was implemented. This renders the specific saving points a bit useless, but damn, I am glad you can save at any time. Not only can you die from ghosts catching you, you’ll also have ‘accidents’ of some kind sometimes. For example, I stepped into water and got electrocuted. Or you get killed because you get too close to a bunch or crows. Essentially, you’re killing yourself. The quick saves were a real help here, let me tell you.
What we disliked
- Backtracking: Be prepared for a lot of backtracking. Like, it felt like the whole game was about tracing back your steps and revisiting places. Honestly, it got a bit tedious. And by a bit, I mean very very very much so. You’ll often already run into certain items the first time you walk into a room, but since your character doesn’t realize yet that she’ll need them, she just ignores them and leaves them. I, on the other hand, was constantly thinking ‘damned, I’m going to have to come back to pick this up later when she knows she needs it’. And then, of course, I had already forgotten where to find it sometimes. Lots of time wasted, in my opinion.
- Loading screens: I think I’ve seen like a thousand loading screens, and every time the same one too! Each time you enter a room or turn a corner in the hallway, there it is, a blue static loading screen. Honestly, combine this with all the backtracking, and at some points, you play like 20 seconds, and you get a loading screen, you play another 20 seconds, and yup, another loading screen.
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Head of PC team. PC, Switch, and Xbox game reviewer. Also a marketeer, concert and animal lover, and photographer in training 🙂