Everyone’s seen Groundhog Day, the classic RomCom from 1993 about a guy who relives the same day over and over again, changing things each time in order to try and break the loop so that tomorrow will finally arrive. Although the film was a massive success and loved by critics and fans alike, it was never officially followed up with a sequel… until now. Groundhog Day: Like Father Like Son is a direct sequel to the movie, although set many years later and through the power of VR instead of via a conventional movie – something I’ve not seen done before.
Developed by the brilliant team over at Tequila Works, whose titles include the magical RiME, the mysterious The Sexy Brutale, and the absolutely brilliant The Invisible Hours – seriously, if you’ve not played that, go play it right now! However, if you’re looking to pick up the game for your physical collection, our friends over at Perp Games are the ones responsible for the PSVR physical edition.
Before playing the game I got myself prepared – I watched the original movie for the first time in about fifteen years. It really is a classic comedy which stands up today, staring the amazing Bill Murray, so I was initially sceptical that the devs may not have been able to recreate the magic within this unorthodox sequel. Thankfully, I had nothing to worry about as the entire game was a hoot! Let’s take a look…
Sadly, Bill Murray isn’t in Groundhog Day: Like Father Like Son, you play the role of Phil Connors Jr., the estranged son who left the town of Punxsutawney many years ago due to becoming fed up with his father’s ‘stories’ about time travel and the boring atmosphere. However, you’ve returned to town in order to honour the memory of your father who sadly passed away recently, an event which touched the hearts of everyone who lived within this small town – something you’ll understand if you’ve seen the film.
You tell your close friends that you’ll only be here for one day, you’re set to attend the memorial, ensure your mother is okay, and then pack your things and leave. But, it appears your father’s stories weren’t all fiction, you find yourself stuck within a time loop, replaying the same day over and over again, just like he once did all those years ago! As you become accustomed to the events and learn to pre-empt what will happen and the outcomes they create, you start to experiment and alter things a little one day at a time, gradually playing out every single “what if” scenario you can think of.
Is this a living nightmare or a blessing in disguise? Will your fondness of the hardest town to spell without looking it up change, or will you forever hate being stranded within this quaint community? Only time will tell, something you have a lot of within Groundhog Day: Like Father Like Son…
Groundhog Day: Like Father Like Son is essentially a branching puzzle game which lets you pretty much do whatever you want in your quest to better yourself and the lives of those around you. The first time you play through the story, which is about 70-90 minutes long, everything is normal as it’s your first time playing out these events. Then, you wake up to the same radio song which was playing yesterday and the memorial is today as well? So, you try different things, maybe make your sister a healthy smoothie so she doesn’t go mad, or describe your time with your father in a different light to the people at the event. That’ll fix it, right?
Nope, you’re back in the loop once again – replaying the same thing over and over as if you’re playing P.T.! But, it’s not the same, you don’t get bored or annoyed that you’re doing the same things because you don’t. If you’ve lived out the day and discovered a piece of information which could settle an argument or fix a machine, you can now choose these and progress the story much faster and even unlock new conversations and interactions with other people. It’s almost roguelike in that aspect, you live, you learn, you die, you rise, you use your new-found knowledge to proceed in a new way that favours you…
I was thoroughly impressed with the amount of content, considering it’s only a short narrative. If you change one small aspect of your day, the outcome is totally different, forcing you to experiment and try out every option and pathway you can choose. After playing The Invisible Hours, it’s clear that Tequila Works were the best team to develop this game, that game was a little different (as you were a ghostly fly on the wall), but it had a similar concept with watching everyone perform their own thing as each one had their own branches, motives, agendas, and stories to tell.
Groundhog Day: Like Father Like Son has its fair share of puzzles and side-events to complete, you’re not just watching the story play out as you do in titles such as The Midnight Sanctuary. For example, one path you can take results in you learning how to fix the coffee machine in your house. The learning process requires you magically going inside of the machine in the cafe and solving a bunch of ginormous puzzles which are floating in another realm. Then, then next day in your house, you can solve smaller ‘pipe-based’ puzzles to fix the machine and serve coffee – allowing you to automatically fix it on subsequent repeats.
The entire game is a puzzle though if I’m being honest. Each time you’re given a choice of what to say or how to respond to people, you can either pick one of the options or pick nothing – just like in Telltale games. There is so much interactivity, secret events and new narratives to find, ranging from your character literally getting a boner if you look at an adult mag whilst your lay in bed, to being handed a bunch of spray paints which you can use to draw whatever you want in the alley – it’s very diverse and creative.
As I said previously, I never felt bored or like I was simply repeating the same thing over and over again, even though I was technically repeating certain things over and over again. The reason for this is that the in-game character evolves and remembers things, just like you do, so each new loop is essentially different even though the NPCs are living out the same day. Your small actions deviate and alter their own plans and actions – It’s awesome.
A worthy sequel?
If you liked the original film, you’ll enjoy the humour within Groundhog Day: Like Father Like Son. Sure, there’s no Bill Murray to push his naturally funny personality in your face, but the writers for the narrative have tried to keep the atmosphere and type of humour in-line with the film, albeit a bit crude and adult-themed at times. I chuckled along to the dialogue going on between the various characters, and I thought the story was well put together – even the length of the loops didn’t bother me as you’ll be looping many, many times.
The one initial dislike I had was the visuals. Now, in terms of clarity and the overall VR experience, the game is fantastic – very clear and no loss of tracking at any point. However, every character is now a caricature, chunky and blocky with emphasised features and a very ‘cartoony’ style. But, after playing for an hour or so, I really enjoyed the art direction the team went with – I don’t think a set of realistic characters would have delivered the comedy as well and certain scenes wouldn’t have worked.
The game sticks to the core elements of what made Groundhog Day great, the main character who hates the town and wants to leave ASAP, the looping aspect which initially confuses them, playing with nature by altering the future just for the hell of it, then eventually using all your knowledge to make this day truly special for yourself and the community you help out. But, as we’re now dabbling with Virtual Reality, there’s plenty of impossible situations, fantastical puzzles, and you even get to dance along with Ned Ryerson and make yourself look like a fool to anyone else in the room watching you!
Groundhog Day: Like Father Like Son delivers a fun, immersive, and interactive unorthodox sequel to the hit 1993 movie. The number of choices and pathways you can choose from is beyond anything I’ve seen in VR so far, requiring you to think outside of the box and experiment in order to see how one or two changes can alter the direction the story is going in. Whereas the art design and aesthetics didn’t appeal to me at first, for their cartoony and simplified looks, I grew to enjoy them and believe the comedy and charm wouldn’t have been pulled off if the devs had stuck to realistic visuals.
If you enjoy puzzles, narrative adventures, or just want to play a game you can casually explore as you discover new outcomes and events, then Groundhog Day: Like Father Like Son is for you!
Groundhog Day: Like Father Like Son£12.99
- - Funny narrative with lots of pathways to uncover and diversions to take
- - Very interactive with actions such as paper-tossing, making smoothies, ice sculpting, and spray painting
- - Cool visual style which helps emphasis the comedy
- - Doesn't force you to replay the same thing over and over, you unlock methods of skipping and bypassing things as you loop
- - I personally thought it was a great sequel to the movie which stuck to the key elements of what we all love about the original film
- - It's not always clear what you have to change in order to get certain pathways unlocked
- - The dancing mini-game is hard to do when restricted to playing whilst seated
- - No Bill Murray 🙁