ReviewsReview: Tape: Unveil the Memories

Review: Tape: Unveil the Memories

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Sins of the Father

In the small town of Antumbria, Spain in 1997, Iria, our protagonist, finds an old videotape from her father. An acclaimed director of horror films who, as it turns out, had disappeared years ago. She watches the tape, discovering a message from the missing man. This leads her down a rabbit hole to find out what happened to him, and eventually what dark secrets her town and family share.

After watching the tape and experiencing somewhat of a quick and unwitting interdimensional trip, (I struggle to describe what else it could be) Iria finds herself in a deserted hospital. But things are not quite right. Why is she alone in this place? Why are benches and chairs floating in the air? And why is a monster made out of film reels stalking her?

Before you land up in the hospital, a quick perusal of Iria’s home reveals that her father’s passion for horror had passed down to her. Her room is filled with books, magazines, and films in the genre. Tape: Unveil the Memories is packed with references to and spoofs of classic horrors, Like Caroline’s Baby (Rosemary’s Baby) and The Gleaming (The Shining). These references carry over to this pocket dimension, along with some of her father’s work. His screenplays, storyboards, and film equipment are strewn about the place, making this a nexus for both father and daughter.  

The mystery of her missing father went a lot deeper than I was expecting. Taking some drastic and dark turns that really threw me for a loop. I enjoyed the way the story was told. Through notes, storyboards, and correspondence that when viewed alone made little sense, but all came together to form a tale interweaving Iria’s memories and her father’s secrets. 

Use Your Time Wisely

This place she finds herself in is constantly guiding her towards the truth of her father’s disappearance. At times, it even seems like her father is actually the one guiding her. As you explore you come across more tapes, these begin to change from one-sided messages to more of a dialogue. Her father even answers her directly through certain recordings. Doors open as she finds certain items, and the layout of areas changes to lead her to the next piece of the puzzle.

However, her hand isn’t held the entire way through. This place completely ignores the rules that govern time and space. Your first clue, of course, is the levitating furniture. Often your path is blocked because of this, or secrets are hidden behind puzzles that require you to disobey the laws of time and space yourself. 

Your tool to accomplish that feat is an old video camera that once belonged to Iria’s father. It may have just been a regular old camera in the real world, but here, it holds some very interesting power. It can freeze and move certain objects forward and backwards through time. It’s a cool mechanic that initially sounds like it can lead to some trippy and innovative gameplay moments. 

However, there were many puzzles that never really lived up to that promise. These were often disappointingly simple and straightforward. Rewind a couple of things to unblock a doorway, or piece together a broken item of interest. As the game progresses the puzzles get slightly more interesting, but not enough of them really went that extra mile. Luckily those few that did, made for some creative moments. Such as one puzzle that had you fast-forward a falling vanity table in order to get the mirror to ground level. This enabled you to then crawl through to the other side, into the same room, but with slight differences.

You Again?

Although the puzzles do make up a good chunk of gameplay, there’s also a fair amount of slow and monotonous sneaking around. I mentioned earlier, that as you explore this fever dream a hulking mass of a creature pops out of walls and slowly patrols rooms to provide a bit of danger to your quest. You’ll then need to use cover and avoid red beams of light from its three lens-like eyes to go about your business. 

This creature matches the straightforward feeling of the weaker puzzles. It will essentially walk back and forth slowly, making it laughably easy to avoid it. As a consequence, whatever sense of fear you may have had at first quickly disappears. There’s not enough variety in this portion of gameplay and the beast showed up a little too often. At a certain point, you feel more inconvenienced than anything else. 

As you fall deeper into the mystery, what started as a hospital quickly begins to take another form. Holes in hospital walls and floors with film burned edges start to let wallpaper and carpets bleed through, as Iria’s memories begin to overlap. Reality in this place begins to crumble more and more as your own bearings and sense of direction start to become muddled. These make for some interesting visual moments, and combined with the time-bending camera begin to take on an Inception-like style. The visuals, while not initially striking definitely had some stand-out moments. Especially towards the end when everything just goes bananas.

Tape: Unveil the Memories is a game with an interesting idea, but unfortunately just falls a bit short. While the narrative and drip-fed creative puzzles kept me going, it became somewhat of a chore by the end. With some more variety in gameplay, and additional complex puzzles, this could definitely have been a big winner for me. While I wanted to love it, I just couldn’t quite get there.

SUMMARY

+ Dark and engaging story
+ Interesting time-bending mechanic
+ Trippy late-game visuals
- Lacklustre main enemy
- Repetitive gameplay
- Not enough creative puzzles

(Reviewed on PC, also available on PS4)
Jonah Ehlers
Jonah Ehlers
A lover of films, dogs and cooking, even though I'm terrible at it most days. Ever since my first console (the legendary PS2) I have had an immense love for Video games. It has given me some of my favourite memories, my closest friends and countless hours of fun.

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Review: Tape: Unveil the Memories+ Dark and engaging story <br /> + Interesting time-bending mechanic <br /> + Trippy late-game visuals <br /> - Lacklustre main enemy <br /> - Repetitive gameplay <br /> - Not enough creative puzzles <br /> <br /> (Reviewed on PC, also available on PS4)