Horror puzzly adventures are back, in pixel form!

I swear that made more sense when I wrote it. Anyways, The Long Reach is a curious game. A bit of a retro throwback horror game, mixed with a sidescrolling adventure reminiscent of the SCUMM era, the result feels far more cohesive and whole than I would have imagined.

Our actual premise is...Well I won't spoil the details, but suffice it to say something has gone Wrong in a facility. Pretty classic starting point, as these things often are. You've got to fix broken things, figure out workarounds, and all too often for our protagonist's comfort, avoid the horrible murderous fiends out for your skull.

Naturally, this does all make talking about the game a bit...difficult. With the premise so tied into the story that any details would be spoilers, and with the gameplay mostly being puzzles with singular concrete solutions, my hands are just a bit tied. I'm sure you understand.

So let's talk broad scope and keep it loose. Your actual gameplay loop is a pretty classic adventure/horror game setup: You run into a problem you need to solve or an obstacle you need to overcome, you figure out the thing you need or situation you have to change, and then you go and make it happen. You get an inventory of items that you rub against interactable objects in the field, with some basic banter about the things that don't work.

Like I said, pretty classic. Little more simplified than those old point-and-click adventures, what with being a strictly side-scrolling game with only one or two key possible interactions between you and a given object, but it all holds together pretty well enough.

And while we're on core gameplay, without giving any specific spoilers, I will say that the puzzles here are, largely, a lot more...logical than some of the ones I've seen in adventure games before. This does make the exceptions feel more frustrating, but...We'll get back to that.

One thing that helps the game a lot is that the core interactions are generally based on real world concepts. This isn't set in a Fallout style 50s apocalypse, or a Star Trek space-lab gone wrong, it's set in a Tomorrow, A.D. kind of setting with only the core thing being impossible.

Also, real talk? Not being a comedy helps a lot. Because the puzzles don't need to be "funny", they can instead(outside of those key exceptions) make sense.

Before we go into whole-game talk, let's hit those exceptions to the general positive vibes. I can only think of two specific puzzles I saw in my time with the game, but they stand out strongly in my mind, where, as far as I could tell, the only way through was to brute-force a solution. Each one, effectively, involved using inventory items to build a password by applying them in the correct order. And both of them, not giving enough information to get straight to a solution, instead left me having to just rub the items at the thing until the lock finally popped open.

The second one, at least, let me know as soon as I'd fucked up the order. But the first one required me to punch in the entire possibility before it would give me a yay or nay, thus leading to nothing less than me going down an entire spreadsheet of every possible combination order for a true brute-force crack.

While we're on frustrations, I will say that the game also, at times, could be a little...pixel-hunty, and a little backtracking-heavy. Two or three times (right around the two frustrating puzzles, in fact) I found myself stuck just looping through the same areas, combing for an interactable I'd missed or that had spawned since the last milestone.

On the other hand, that the game convinced me to keep pushing each of those times, each little nugget of success laid out just past the previous one to keep stringing me along towards the end, says something about the quality of the rest of it.

And that does bring us to one other thing to consider. The end. Namely, I reached it today, the same day I'm writing this review...And the same day I started the game.

Now, I do want to be clear, I didn't play it super casually today or anything. While there were some gaps, and my Switch's playtime hasn't updated as of this writing for me to get specific actual time the game spent running, I poured in at least five or six hours before I saw the credits roll. And while I saw no indications of multiple endings or whathaveyou, if it turns out there's a whole huge world of game I missed, well hey, I'll be more than happy to retract all of this section.

And...I mean, it's not necessarily a bad thing. While the game is $15 in the US, that's basically what I spend on a movie ticket most of the times I go to the theater, and that only lasts half the time this did. It's kind of the old Portal argument; would you rather have a largely really solid but brief experience, or a longer but less tightly paced one?

Both are totally valid. And especially for something like this, with its mix of horror and adventure-puzzling, I almost feel like keeping it quick and tight works more for it than against it.

Of course, at the end of the day, it's your call. This isn't one of those games that stumbles on very many points of execution, but it is also very much leaning into what it is, and that's not gonna be for everyone. Without that broad appeal, I can't throw on a firm Recommended, but make no mistake, if it sounds like your kind of game, jump on it. You're probably right.