Generally, all we will do is collect up the damaged items and hope they may kind a coherent complete. That definitely appears to be the case with the journey sport Damaged Items, however as soon as all the elements of this indie title come collectively, does an entire image take form? Sadly, the end result appears to be lacking just a few items to assist in giving the sport and its thriller narrative a clearer image.
Set someday within the nineties, Damaged Items takes place in a fictional distant French coastal village known as Saint-Exil. One thing horrific has occurred to the city and its residents. A number of days earlier than the beginning of the narrative, everybody went lacking. Solely Elise, a thirty-something lady who just lately moved to Saint-Exil alongside her fiancé Pierre, stays. Day by day since that horrible incident, she tries to decipher what occurred and the way she would possibly escape the world. Can Pierre and the opposite townsfolk nonetheless be saved? What’s the reality behind the shadow creatures sometimes attacking Elise all through city? Is there one thing lurking beneath the water close to Saint-Exil? What is occurring with the army presence and the disturbing cult often known as The Devoted? Elise spends her time through the story looking for solutions to these questions.
The gameplay in Damaged Items includes cyclical loops. Day by day for Elise begins promptly at 8:00 AM when she emerges from the empty residence she used to share with Pierre to discover the encircling areas of the city. The city is sectioned off, with places farther away from Elise’s residence taking extra time to achieve (typically an hour or so off the in-game clock). Elise can examine areas till it begins getting darkish. At this level, she ought to return to her home to relaxation, because the disagreeable shadow entities showing in Saint-Exil change into extra lively at evening. This cycle of Elise waking up, investigating, then heading again to the protection of residence earlier than nighttime makes up the crux of the gameplay. As Elise strikes via a given space, she’ll encounter interactive objects of curiosity. Generally she finds priceless gadgets in locations resembling trash cans or a function of the placement that may shed extra gentle on the disappearance of the city’s inhabitants. She will accumulate different objects to resolve puzzles that advance the plot or grant entry to beforehand sealed-off map sections.
Puzzles is usually a boon to mitigating the cyclical trudging from space to space or a supply of a lot head-scratching and frustration. I spent extra time making an attempt to resolve sure puzzles than I care to confess. Generally clues aren’t appropriately recorded in Elise’s useful journal, or the key to fixing the puzzle isn’t clear-cut till you’ll be able to additional discover different areas of Saint-Exil. I discovered puzzles at first of the sport to be moderately straightforward to grasp based mostly on the knowledge given. Nonetheless, later puzzles had been usually more difficult and required extra experimentation earlier than revealing their secrets and techniques. As an illustration, an optionally available puzzle the place you’re supposed to seek out boat plate numbers doesn’t document them in your journal. One other puzzle the place you must distract birds entails throwing gadgets onto an space discipline till the sport “clicks” with what you’re doing and labels it a hit. I repeated that fowl quest doing the identical motion, however at totally different areas on the seaside as a result of I knew that was the answer. It took a number of makes an attempt earlier than the sport registered my actions as correct. Puzzles typically require a tedious degree of trial and error.
You even have to recollect how a lot time you’re spending all through the sport. So, even for those who’re in the midst of fixing one of many extra sophisticated, multi-staged puzzles, as soon as it’s late within the day, you would possibly wish to have Elise hightail it again to her home to relaxation for the evening earlier than ending the puzzle. The fixed back-and-forth solely provides to the frustration of puzzle-solving as there is no such thing as a actual fast-travel answer. Targets aren’t the clearest with regard to what it is advisable to do to achieve the following, with some solely unlocking after bringing residence “nighttime studying” supplies that require Elise to as soon as once more backtrack to the home to entry them correctly.
The digicam angles may also add a little bit of frustration to the sport’s exploratory and puzzle-solving expertise. Damaged Items makes use of a third-person perspective with two totally different angles for the digicam that you may swap between with the press of a button. It’s typically important to take action, particularly for those who really feel you’ve combed via an space and nonetheless haven’t unlocked a brand new clue or goal. It’s possible to not discover one thing of import in a single digicam angle versus one other. There may be additionally a stationary first-person perspective it is advisable to make the most of at instances to uncover higher visible cues (resembling what the right order is for the coloured wires for safety doorways), which is useful however not probably the most freely adjustable digicam angle. In case you’re not standing in the precise spot beforehand, the percentages are good that you simply’ll miss that one important clue. Every time I had to make use of the first-person perspective, I wasted a number of minutes positioning Elise earlier than I used to be lastly capable of finding the lacking piece.
Elise has a number of useful instruments she will be able to use throughout her investigations. Her journal is among the most important for gathering priceless intel and helpful clues, although admittedly, it isn’t fairly as thorough as I might’ve favored when it got here to the later, extra sophisticated puzzles. The opposite software she always carries together with her is a novel, somehow-magical bracelet that permits her to alter the climate round her to stormy situations briefly. Utilizing the bracelet helps fell bushes or topple bridges to create new paths. Later within the sport, her bracelet inexplicably positive factors the power to show the climate snowy when it’s submerged in water at outdoors sinks, altering the terrain fairly a bit and even impacting the tides and structural integrity of sure buildings. Figuring out when to make issues snowy or stormy is vital to additional exploration and puzzle-solving, although frustratingly sufficient, you’ll first need to backtrack to the home to get snow gear. Elise picks up discovered cog items or levers that, when added to unresponsive equipment, can get the mechanisms transferring once more, or she collects axes that may assist knock over bushes or break boundaries. She additionally has a music tape participant that she will be able to take heed to discovered tapes on for important clues as to what to do subsequent, with the sport noting that listening to any discovered cassette is typically crucial to advancing the plot. Elise additionally wants house in her restricted stock for her gun and valuable ammo. Ammo is restricted; you create extra of it by placing crafting supplies in a storage chest in a single day. There may be an choice to improve your gun for those who discover the supplies. Nonetheless, I by no means did and received via the sport simply superb.
On condition that Elise does begin the sport armed, it ought to be no shock that fight performs a task in Damaged Items. You get a quick tutorial about its mechanics earlier than venturing out of the home the primary time, and it isn’t lengthy after earlier than you may have your first encounter with shadowy enemies. Sadly, they’ll be a irritating bane at any time when they present up, primarily as a result of the sport’s fight is so clunky and unintuitive. In idea, you target-lock onto an enemy and open hearth, dodging and repelling those that get too shut with easy button instructions. Sadly, I discovered the controls for fight to be extra on the sluggishly unresponsive facet, making the expertise really feel extra like a irritating chore than one thing the sport inherently wanted. There may be an choice at the beginning of Damaged Items to start the sport in a Diminished Fight mode. I’d in all probability suggest most who give the sport a strive benefit from that choice, because the fight sequences are simply the weakest ingredient of the title and appear extra like an afterthought.
The sport does auto-save at particular factors, like waking up within the morning or if you first enter a “reminiscence stage.” Nonetheless, saving by sitting on benches scattered all through Saint-Exil is the one technique to save manually. You may also relaxation on a bench to replenish well being at the price of just a few in-game hours, and Elise may also restore well being by going via her fridge at residence or a restaurant. As a result of the benches seem continuously, I by no means felt like there was an actual hazard of shedding a variety of priceless sport time if I remembered to sit down at one now and again.
Exploration, puzzle-solving, and the narrative are the primary driving forces behind enjoying Damaged Items. I feel the outline of it as a “psychological thriller” and gameplay parts it has in frequent with the survival horror style are doing the title a disservice. The sport isn’t scary in any respect, with solely the occasional mildly disturbing or unsettling level. Damaged Items is extra of a thriller journey title with some shoddy fight inexplicably thrown into the combination. Whenever you efficiently clear up a puzzle, you get a robust “Aha!” second, and uncovering the locales of Saint-Exil is intriguing. I even just like the “reminiscence portal” parts, the place you deep dive into an alien terrain that connects to Elise’s innermost ideas and recollections whereas providing a bit extra problem in puzzle-solving and (sadly) fight. Nonetheless, it’s the surprisingly compelling thriller as to why the city is empty and why Elise is there in any respect which might be the primary driving forces behind Damaged Items’ narrative.
As a result of the sport consists largely of Elise wandering an empty townscape on her personal, an eerie sense of loneliness permeates Saint-Exil. Sound performs into this, too, with the one actual results being seagulls flapping their wings and calling out or the waves hitting in opposition to the edges of the dock. Elise’s lone footsteps crunching on gravel or via snow additional trigger this sense of isolation to permeate and fester. It’s no surprise that she narrates a lot of her internal ideas out loud, as I think about not listening to different individuals past voice recordings for therefore lengthy could be maddening. Sadly, Elise’s puns and jokes may use slightly work. Pierre made music tapes for her that you may uncover all through the sport, and I like how one can play them throughout your travels to assist break up the monotony of solitude. The soundtrack is sparse however has a lingering impact, given its presentation.
An instance is the vocal track “Aède – Disparu.” The English voice appearing harks again to early video games of the survival horror and journey genres: which is to say, it isn’t the perfect however nonetheless holds a nostalgic twinge. There may be additionally a French language choice, which is smart given the sport’s setting and the truth that the five-team-member developer Elseware Expertise additionally occurs to be French. The graphics are good to have a look at, with the background vistas of the village being visually interesting. I additionally fairly just like the artwork that seems when the sport hundreds. The totally different angles of the digicam additionally assist call to mind early journey video games, frightening a way of nostalgia.
Total, the narrative beats and thriller surrounding Damaged Items begin compellingly. Sadly, as a result of the title drops gamers into the aftermath of an earlier occasion, some issues, resembling Elise’s magical bracelet, by no means get satisfactorily defined. Nonetheless, the sport does a great job filling within the blanks, because of the clues you discover and the tape recordings. There’s confusion concerning the roles of the army and cult that’s been terrorizing the citizenry of Saint-Exil. Nonetheless, since Elise by no means learns the entire story, maybe the participant isn’t alleged to piece it collectively totally. I discovered that the primary story’s ending is a letdown. It builds as much as one thing vital because of the puzzles you need to full to achieve it, however the closing scene stops with out a lot clarification and only a looming sense of impending dread. I actually anticipated there to be one thing extra, pondering I had perhaps not completed the sport adequately or reached a foul ending. Nonetheless, the Achievements famous I accomplished the primary story as soon as the credit rolled. It’s a testomony to how a lot I grew to love the sport regardless of its frustrations that part of me hopes there is perhaps extra story content material coming! The builders did take heed to the problems many had with the abruptness of the ending and patched in a tape message recording that performs through the finish credit that helps to elucidate a few of the dangling plot threads whereas nonetheless leaving some issues open to participant interpretation. I drastically respect this although I might nonetheless like extra solutions typically to the questions the plot leaves lingering, however I suppose that perhaps not offering them was a artistic alternative by the builders to suit the narrative’s “damaged items” theme.
Damaged Items is an odd, disjointed sport with pointless fight, tedious back-and-forth exploration, and irritating puzzle designs. And but, I discovered myself eager to discover Saint-Exil with Elise to determine its mysteries regardless of these flaws, to the purpose that I used to be actually a bit dissatisfied on the sport’s comparatively weak ending. Anybody on the lookout for an exploration journey sport that harks again to the style’s previous and doesn’t take a ton of time to finish ought to give Damaged Items a strive. Simply don’t count on the vase you assemble from all the sport’s items to essentially come collectively totally sufficient to carry water.