Back in August 2019, I was given the chance to take a look at a quirky puzzle game from developer Caligari Games, a game in which you use the past and present (future) in order to manipulate events and solve puzzles. A few days ago, The Great Perhaps made its jump over to consoles thanks to publisher Drageus Games, allowing everyone to now experience it no matter what platforms they own. As mentioned in my last review, The Great Perhaps is a story about loss, pain, hope, and mystery, using knowledge of the future to help those in the past.
Caligari Games are a fairly new studio with only two games under their belt, this game and Whateverland (which has just met its goal on Kickstarter and will be released later this year – hopefully). Whereas Whateverland is more of a point-and-click adventure game with moral choices and multiple ways to resolve issues, The Great Perhaps’ main focus is its puzzles and thinking outside of the box in order to find the solutions to the time-bending situations. As such, if you like this game, please check out Whateverland and wishlist it on Steam – there’s even a free Prologue demo on there as well.
So, let’s check out The Great Perhaps for the second time…
As I’ve already written a review of the game on PC, the following story synopsis has been copied from my last review…
The story within The Great Perhaps is a short and sweet one, you take the role of an astronaut who was aboard the space station when a catastrophic event caused the destruction of every living being down upon the Earth. As a safety precaution, the onboard AI supercomputer placed our protagonist within a deep sleep for one hundred years, allowing him to awaken once the dust has settled and the world is once again ‘safe’ to return to – albeit with the help of a spacesuit. So, upon reviving after his slumber, we briefly mourn the loss of our family and then head down to see what’s left of the place we once called home.
Upon landing, and seeing the destruction all around, we come across a strange artifact in the form of an old lantern. However, the light this device emits doesn’t only illuminate the darkness, it allows us to see the world before the end was nigh! This magical light shows us glimpses of the past, a world full of happy ignorant people living their lives and going about their business, not one of them aware that today is going to be one of the last they ever have upon this world. The lamp serves as more than a window to a happier world, it can also transport your physical body back into this timeline for a brief period at a time – could you alter the future by informing the past?
You’re not sure if it’ll work but what do you have to lose? The future of the world and the entire human race depends upon you succeeding in stopping the event from happening via the use of time travel and defying the laws of physics…
The Great Perhaps is a puzzle game with a focus on time travel, jumping back and forth through time in order to solve the puzzles you encounter by using objects from both realities. The way the game utilises this mechanic is very creative as the two time periods exist in parallel, visible only by using the magical lantern. So, if you’re in the present (which is our future) and you shine the lantern around, the past bleeds through and you can see the events which happened when humanity once populated the world. Likewise, if you’re in the past then you’ll see the desolate and post-apocalyptic remains of that which we once called home.
Where the game becomes more interesting is when you fully utilise the lantern’s powers, transporting yourself through to the other timeline as you travel back and forth through realities. This is the core gameplay and puzzle mechanic, leaping back in order to talk to people or obtain an item so that you can use it in the future to solve a puzzle – or vice-versa. It’s also used to overcome environmental puzzles as a fallen building or mountain of rubble in the astronauts present may not be there in the past, so travelling back allows you to move forward before returning to your original timeline.
One thing which bothered me a little with the game was that nobody seemed to care when I vanished in front of them or the fact that I was an astronaut walking around the city. However, the developers solved this by having the day we jump back to being Halloween, so everyone is wearing costumes – I didn’t even notice this the first time I played it tbh! As this game is mainly focused on the puzzle aspect, rather than the narrative, the interactions you have with people in the past aren’t consequential to the story in most cases, although the dialogue can be quite funny and interesting here and there when talking to random strangers.
When I first started playing The Great Perhaps, I thought that the puzzles would be based on time-manipulation, going back in time in order to physically alter things so that the present looks different – kinda like Day of the Tentacle. However, it’s more a case of ‘borrowing’ items from one time to solve a puzzle in the other. There are also a few events that can be classed as a paradox – altering the past by using an item in the future which wouldn’t have been there if the past hadn’t already been altered, which is why I feel the two dimensions are on different timelines rather than the same one.
Don’t worry – you don’t have to think too hard about the game, just enjoy it without focusing on the ‘how’ or ‘why’…
Every screen is its own puzzle which requires you to travel back and forth in order to progress onwards. Whether it’s as simple as going forward in time to when a door has been removed so you can then return to the past and see what used to be within the deserted room you’ve just entered, or maybe jumping between both timelines to avoid a monster in the future and a train in the past – in the same subway location. In order to make the problem-solving a little more interesting, you have a time limit on how long you can spend in the past, so you need to constantly use the light of the lantern to ensure you’re not going to be embedded in rocks or over a pit when you return to the present.
All-in-all, The Great Perhaps is a fun little puzzle game. Nothing was too complicated or obscure, every solution made sense and I was able to get through it in around two hours on my first playthrough. As such, I’d say gamers of all ages and skill levels should be able to enjoy the gameplay within this game with little help or support from others.
My only disappointment
Just like when I reviewed the Steam version of the game, I was left wanting more when the end credits began to roll. The game felt too short as it only took me around an hour to complete on the PS4 (thanks to already knowing all of the solutions), although I did feel like the game had enough time to tell the story it was setting out to do – there was no ‘fluff’ padding it out and it wasn’t dragging at any point. However, like I said last time, I would have loved more backstory into where the lantern came from and maybe more details on the ending (as I was a little confused). But, this is a direct port of the PC version, so I wasn’t actually expecting anything different within the PS4 release over what I’ve played previously.
However, to counter that single ironic issue (a game about time travel is rather short), the rest of the things the game has to offer were great. I love the artistic style of the game, the way the lantern bleeds the two timelines together, the creative problem-solving puzzles, and the subtle storylines which are present in each scene. The one I liked the most, again mentioned in my PC review, is within the hospital. Despite being chased by the orderlies, you hook up a security guard and a nurse who secretly love each other. Then, when you’re in the future timeline, you see the rotten remains of a nurse and security guard huddled together – I presume these are the two you hooked up previously. Awww – ’til death do us part…
Last time I couldn’t comment on my opinion of whether the price being asked was fair or not, as the price wasn’t actually showing on Steam when I published my review. This time, the prices are all available! The game is £7.99 on the PS4 and £8.99 on the Switch, I agree with this price. You’ll get a few hours of enjoyment out of it and the trophies are all rather easy to obtain (although there’s no platinum). Also, if you own certain games from the same publisher on the Switch, it’s currently knocking the price down to £2.69 – a price I certainly can’t argue with and would highly recommend you take advantage of (I did). So, if you own a Switch, go take a look, you may be entitled to the discount!
I love the visuals within The Great Perhaps, the hand-drawn environments and unique characters all look great in both the populated past and post-apocalyptic future settings. The style is very reminiscent of titles such as My Memory of Us and the amazing Valiant Hearts, although the story isn’t as emotionally heart-breaking as those war-based titles. The way the game seamlessly merges the two timelines together is great, both when shining the lantern to observe the other and when you traverse into the alternative dimension and watching as everything around you changes – it’s very cool.
In terms of the music, I wish there was a soundtrack available as I really liked the music which was playing throughout – alternating as you changed scene or timelines. The voice acting is available in either Russian or English, although both options seem to be performed by the same people rather than two sets of actors. Well, ‘actors’ is a strong word as looking at the credits, the developers actually voiced the characters themselves, something we often see from smaller teams and studios.
Speaking of the voice acting, the English is good, its all well-written and you can clearly make out what is being said, but some lines aren’t delivered very well. What I did on my second playthrough was put the voices in Russian and the subtitles in English – this, for me, was much better as it meant the dialogue was being spoken in the developer’s native tongue. It’s also one of the very few times that I’ve actually played a game which isn’t voiced in either English or Japanese.
Despite the short playtime, The Great Perhaps is an interesting and cryptic puzzle game with a unique mechanic, the magical lantern. The story is well told through the various interactions you have within both timelines, solving puzzles as you go by utilising objects from the alternative point in time. Although we learn a lot about the events which happened both to our protagonist and the world, the game left me with a lot of questions regarding the lantern, its powers, what happens at the end of the game, and what became of certain characters. This is a game that makes you think and fill-in-the-blanks, something I wasn’t expecting for a short puzzle title.
Although the urge to replay may not be that high, especially if you obtained all the trophies in one playthrough as I did, I can easily see myself returning to The Great Perhaps in the future in order to experience it all over again. Even though I played it back in August last year, I really enjoyed this second playthrough on the PS4 and I’ve even picked it up on the Switch as well, so I have another reason to revisit the world in a few months time.
The Great Perhaps£7.99
- - Great art design which seems to have become the developers 'style'
- - I love the music which plays throughout
- - Interesting puzzles which aren't too hard yet some do make you think
- - Intriguing time-travel mechanics via the magical lantern
- - Easy enough 100% trophy list for those who like earning them
- - The story is a little short, at around 2 hours on your first playthrough
- - I was a little confused about the ending and would still like to know more about the origins of the lantern - maybe after Whateverland?
- - The voice acting is okay, considering the developers did it themselves, but I'd say put the vocals into Russian and have English subtitles if you want the best vocal work
- - Although the puzzles were interesting, and the people you meet were quite quirky, there wasn't any depth to the NPCs or time mechanics (no paradoxes or time-manipulation puzzles which changed the future based on what you did in the past)