Ultra-Indie Spotlight Sunday: Reminiscence Is A Timeless Game

Reminiscence is a game about running out of time. While at the same time, it’s about having too much time. You play as a time traveler, someone locked in a cycle of back and forth in an attempt to rescue his family.  The game takes place in versions of the same location. One is an idyllic house (or as idyllic as a 1950’s style house could be), the other is the identical house, now in the present, decaying in an apocalyptic alternative reality.

Conceptual Meta-Wank:

When I think of the word reminiscence, I picture someone wistfully telling a nostalgic tale from their past, perhaps from better times. Or perhaps, an idealized memory of that past. So it makes sense that a horror game called Reminiscence would feature the opposite, a dark and profaned version of real memory. In this case, a man’s home. This man is the inventor of the “Rollback Machine,” whose inception seems to have caused a cataclysmic event. 

With tiny time-traveling device in hand, Reminiscence has you going back and forth between two versions of the protagonist’s house. The regular house has far fewer spooks and screams, but here you find out the plot of the game. Why your character’s wife and child are missing, and why you have a magic Dr. Who device in your pocket. Then you have the post-apocalyptic Black Lodge version of the house, where things become less and less comprehensible as the game rolls on. This setting (these settings?) make for good contrast, and the more of Reminiscence you play, the more effective the contrast becomes.

Non-Wanky Game Recap:

Gameplay in Reminiscence is similar to many walking simulators, with some significant differences. For one thing, your character has his watch that lets him turn back time for certain objects, like a fallen piece of furniture that’s blocking the door. He can also find clocks around the house that are able to shift him from the regular house to the corrupted version. This allows for some interesting puzzle solving. How do you drain a tub that’s frozen? Take out the plug before it’s even filled up. Stuff of that nature.

What Works:

Reminiscence has a lot going for it. Incorporating gameplay elements from the criminally underrated Singularity already makes it a notch above its contemporaries. Time-related puzzles are always fun and a bit more interesting of a head-scratcher than the traditional find-key-open-door loop that these games typically feature.

What Doesn’t:

You get what you pay for. There isn’t a whole lot of Reminiscence to reminisce about. I think I beat the game in under an hour. Not a problem for a game so expertly polished and produced, but it did leave me wishing there was a lot more. At the same time, I recognize that less is more, (especially for a game that’s free!) so obviously I won’t begrudge the developer for creating a succinct and complete story. In fact, just the opposite. 

How To Fix It:

I certainly think that Reminiscence has plenty of room for expansion. If developer Reminiscence Project wanted to add more to the game, I have complete faith that they could devise a few more time travel puzzles to get their audience thinking even more. And they could as well add more interesting areas to the game, since spoiler alert, space means about as much as time in this game. 

Wanky Musings:

Reminiscence is a tremendous piece of work. For a team of just a few student devs, this project shows development prowess that some triple-A studios fail to capture. It has an interesting story, interesting mechanics, it’s scary as heck, and I haven’t even mentioned the atmosphere and aesthetic. The devs would be remiss to not make another version of this game, one that’s longer and more detailed and maybe could make them a few dollars too. 

You can download Reminiscence for free from Steam by clicking here