In Repressed, you play a shadow that represents your psyche as you explore the landscape of your own mind. This landscape is starkly lit from one direction, creating bright white floors except where jet black shadows fall across it.
You move with your old friends W, A, S, and D, while you change your view with the mouse. For me, the slightest move of the mouse made the screen flop around wildly, with no control whatsoever. After I fought down motion sickness I went into the options and set the mouse sensitivity down to one percent. After that the view moved kind of quickly, but at an acceptable level.
So now you are ready to start exploring the world your character’s mind has wrought. Just go along the paths, exploring every direction you can, but watch out – if you fall off the path you will end up back at the last automated save point. Actually, walking over a shadow will do the same thing. Sometimes it is impossible to determine whether you are looking at a shadow, or an actual hole in the floor. Fortunately though, both will do exactly the same thing, so you don’t need to differentiate.
It’s not all walking around and trying not to fall off, though there is a lot of that. Once in a while you encounter red ball-switches that you activate by positioning your shadow over them and clicking the mouse. These will make pathways appear, or even raise or lower a distant piece of landscape so its shadow no longer falls across your way. After a while you even come across controls that let you rotate the light source a complete 360 degrees. This is especially tricky, as opening up some pathways may block others. You may need to go back to one of these controls many times just to tweak which angle you need.
As you progress through the levels, a woman’s voice accompanies you, giving you clues in a European accent. While she does put the accent on the wrong syllable of the occasional word, she does a fine job of getting the story across. Sometimes an object or scene again in red (to offset the white and black) accentuates what the therapist’s voice is saying. It felt like the game was rooting for my alma mater, Frostburg State.
The soundtrack is at times hauntingly beautiful, but most of the time it does what the developer intended – put you off kilter and make you largely uncomfortable. It is the first thing that greets you even before the rest of the game loads, and is always there to some degree. It is so pervasive that, on the level where sound is important to the story, I would never have realized if the therapist voice hadn’t told me.
The puzzle elements of this game are sometimes simple, but other times a decent challenge. However, they are spaced apart with quite a lot of walking in between. Sometimes this is to reveal more of the story, but often enough it’s just walking. And walking. With only the white path, the stark shadows and the off-putting music for company.
While you are walking, you may come across some additional childhood memories. These are red (of course) and shaped like various toys or objects. There are 19 scattered about the levels of the game, and some can be a real challenge to get to. Each one unlocks a Steam achievement, and I don’t know what happens if you get all 19, because I missed a few, and really don’t want to go through all that walking again to get them.
Repressed is a decent puzzle game with a pretty good story attached. It has a good amount of game play for the money they are asking. So, if you are looking for a game with an interesting concept, go ahead and get Repressed on Steam.
I give Repressed an admirable 3.5 GiN Gems. It gets dings mostly for the erratic game controls and all the walking.