It’s appropriate that a game about a young woman trying to survive in a mad world is released at the same time that the real world feels just as chaotic. Although Remothered: Broken Porcelain is technically a sequel to Remothered: Tormented Fathers, it also takes part in the past, but is this a worthy trip into madness?
Whilst the game still tells the story of the protagonist of the original game, it’s with the rebellious Jennifer that players will spend most of the time in the past. Initially, Remothered: Broken Porcelain shows promise and it’s good to get to know Jennifer better and the characters that are hellbent on making her existence a miserable one, despite attempting to gaslight her into thinking that they only have her best interests at heart. It’s during darker moments where Jennifer sees these people for who they really are that the game becomes more interesting.
As Jennifer is chased around the inn she’s been sent to, she soon realises that she’s more connected to some of her assailants that she first believed. Although convoluted at times, there’s no doubt that the game’s soap opera like story is the main highlight and one that contains plenty of twists, not only in the past but the future as well. It’s just a shame that such an insane story is severely let down by other aspects of the game.
It might not have been what the development team had in mind, but Remothered: Broken Porcelain is quite a remarkable experience from a technical point of view for the wrong reasons. It’s severely broken and still contains many issues (even after being updated) that will turn playing it to enjoy the story seem like a chore. For example, on one instance it was possible to get the character to jump over (with a simple button press) a balcony and watch her fall to her death. There’s no warning or an obvious reason why players are even allowed to perform such an action.
Most of the fight scenes didn’t work as intended with characters continuing to get up or simply just staying down with players not having any clear means of being able to collect items needed to progress or triggering whatever next objective needed to be done. For example, not defeating the first main enemy by sneaking up to her will result in having to reload the checkpoint since the item dropped by this enemy can’t be picked up and the enemy wasn’t getting up either. The game definitely seems to enjoy punishing players and it has no patience for those who don’t play it exactly how it wants them to. It also has a tendency to think that most players will do just fine with making sense of its rather odd ways of letting them know where to go next and what to do. Even the tutorial feels like it involves a lot of guesswork with regards as to what players need to do.
The game doesn’t even seem to care too much about how its level up system can be so easily abused. There are items that can be collected in the game to level up different attributes to make it easier to sneak around or even enhance Jennifer’s unique ability. However, dying after using the first level up station, found in the second chapter, will result in still having leveled up an attribute and keeping the resources used to do so after loading the latest save file/checkpoint. Hence, it’s possible to use the same resources to max out every attribute. A system that was designed to get players to collect items and perhaps even play through a second time to max out every attribute was easily exploited in minutes and by accident at that.
It’s not always technical issues that ruin the game since the way it’s designed already does a stellar job of confusing players. For starters, there are no waypoints or a map to give a better idea of where key locations, objectives and so on are. The fights mostly consist of playing hide and seek with enemies and making use of weapons to surprise attack them. Being constantly found by them gets boring after the first couple of enemy encounters and the character has no means of directly fighting them, so any direct confrontations tend to end with her being smacked around and eventually killed. It almost feels like watching a comedy TV show whenever she gets found and trapped in a narrow space by one or more characters and continues to be pushed and hit without much of a chance to get away. The way that items are used is also annoying and having to craft items in real-time is not very convenient when being constantly chased by insane people. No wonder that there’s an achievement for being killed in five different ways, given how easy it is for it to happen.
The game is also terribly optimised and it takes minutes to load (on Xbox One at least) into any area and this also includes the loading screen that appears after dying and restarting from the latest save. In fact, even the loading times before and after every cut-scene are shocking to say the least. The one blessing in what feels like the equivalent of being waterboarded for hours for “fun” is that the game doesn’t punish players for dying and is very often willing to just set the character back a short distance from where the death took place.
As noticed, most of the game consists of being chased by deranged people with some exploration of what soon becomes a very boring inn. Whilst Jennifer gets the most mileage with regards to action, Rosemary Reed from the previous game gets to have nice chats and eventually helps tie events from the past to her present. There’s also a few surprises (like other characters to control) later on that at least briefly give players a much welcome respite from what the rest of the game is like. This definitely feels like a failed attempt at a Western take on the Japanese scary game genre where vulnerable characters (usually school girls) spend hours exploring haunted locations and running around terrorised by whatever ghouls want to harm them.
There’s an interesting concept for a horror game here with an insane story burdened by many issues. It’s a shame since the story is interesting, but not interesting enough to put up with so many flaws. Perhaps the true villain in Remothered: Broken Porcelain are the lengthy loading screens (on Xbox One at least) that will surely haunt the dreams of those that experience them.