After waking up from hibernation for years, a cosmonaut returns to Earth to find it devastated by an apocalyptic event. He sets off with the space station’s AI named L9 to discover what caused the Earth’s destruction. With the help of an old lantern that allows him to travel into the past, the cosmonaut embarks on an adventure to prevent the apocalypse.
The Great Perhaps struggles with the plot. While the overall idea has some potential, it is never explored with any depth. There is no serious character development to speak of as most NPCs have only a few lines each. Things aren’t much better with the cosmonaut. We only learn the basics about him, such as his family and his childhood desire to be a cosmonaut. The ending feels like it comes out of nowhere, giving the game an abrupt conclusion without any satisfaction. In the end, the whole story feels like several ideas were thrown in a hat and then the plot was composed by using whatever was pulled out. The story feels more like an excuse to string along a bunch of puzzles than an actual compelling plot.
The Great Perhaps is an adventure puzzle game. The game’s levels are linear in nature with two versions of the level representing the past and the present. The main mechanic is the cosmonaut’s lantern. Tapping the lantern button turns the beam on to show the other time period. Holding down the lantern button will transport the cosmonaut into the other time period. The cosmonaut can stay only stay in the past for a short period before he is sent back into the present.
The puzzles in The Great Perhaps are pipe puzzles, collection tasks, and timing challenges. The game is very short, so the limited number of puzzle types don’t get too repetitive. Most of the puzzles are simple and can be solved easily, especially the collection tasks. There are a few puzzles that are harder to figure out as the logic is a little less obvious than the remaining puzzles. The plant watering and bear puzzles stick out as the two worst culprits.
While time is the is The Great Perhaps’ major theme, it is also the game’s greatest weakness. The timing challenges are the most frustrating part of The Great Perhaps. The challenges almost exclusively involve the lantern. Swapping between time periods takes a few seconds, so players are forced to be overly conservative. This would have been a great opportunity for the developers to reward skillful time jumps with smooth forward movement, but instead the game feels bogged down as players must to stop repeatedly. The time limit for staying in the past is another unnecessary function that slows the pace of the game. While the time limit may make sense lore wise, it’s mechanically pointless and is just a nuisance when figuring out puzzles.
Moving around in The Great Perhaps is smooth sailing for the most part. The controls work well with a mouse and keyboard or a controller. The UI is minimal and easy to understand. The only issues involve navigating with the lamp. The game will block players from switching time periods if an object blocks their path. If there is a fatal danger like a hole, the game will swap times and let the player fall to their death. When the lamp light is on, it blocks the view of the present, so players need to also keep track of potential dangers from the edges of the screen. It’s a minor headache compared to accidentally dropping to your death, but it does take a while to wrap your brain around the concept that the environment in the beam doesn’t actually exist.
Caligari Games cites murals from the Soviet Union as the inspiration for The Great Perhaps’ visual style. While I don’t see the influence on the overall art style, the murals can be scattered throughout the levels. The murals and the street art are easily the best part of the game. The character design is a little simpler, feeling more cartoon-like than the environments. The environment is dark and gloomy, which matches the story’s tone well.
The audio experience in The Great Perhaps is not great. The music and sound effects are acceptable. The voice acting on the other hand is really rough. The acting quality is bad. There are a wide variety of accents with little rhyme or reason to them and many are poorly done. The overall quality is low enough that I think skipping the voice acting completely and going with text would have been a better investment of resources.
At its full launch price, The Great Perhaps is hard to recommend. The story feels jumbled, even for such a short game. The puzzles are bland, and the game has some frustrating mechanics. The Great Perhaps is best left to hardcore fans of adventure puzzle titles looking to pick something up at a steep discount during a sale.
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