The concept behind Remorse: The List shows a lot of promise, but the unfortunate reality is that while the seed of a good title exists somewhere in there, the execution falls a touch short. Even if you love survival horror titles, you still might want to give this one a pass unless it gets patched a bit more.
In Remorse: The List you play Adrian, a character who wakes up in a random storage space, and you quickly discover that there’s something rotten in the state of, well, everything. It’s up to you to determine what’s going on in the Hungarian village of Hidegpuszta, and the only real clue you have to start is a list that, well, comes across as incredibly nonsensical. You unravel the story by finding and playing voice recordings, and given that Remorse: The List isn’t linear, you can come across these in any order. The nature of that sandbox approach to storytelling means that you as a player may or may not be able to make sense of the mess you’re given.
Over the course of the game, you’ll go to three general locations that blend in order to find the items to satisfy your giant fetch quest. While on this adventure, you’ll find yourself exposed to egregiously gross monsters, a tapestry of unsettling sound effects, and a few decently constructed puzzles. Fair warning, though, the game relies very heavily on jump scares that initially work but rapidly become repetitive.
Remorse: The List clearly derives its inspiration from early Silent Hill and Resident Evil entries, and the game’s aesthetic clearly reflects these roots. In many ways, it does a great job of creating an atmosphere that will allow you to relive the glory days of these titles, correcting a bit for the capabilities of the Switch. Remorse: The List achieves its atmosphere via your standard horror game soundtrack of creepy music and screeches, and it does that quite well. Much like its predecessors, it manipulates light and shadow to unsettle your brain, and again, it does this quite well. Moreover, especially considering that the version of Remorse: The List I played is a Switch title, the game’s visuals are really fantastic.
You’ll have moments when the game sends you into the very Silent Hill-style wrong versions of reality, and this is where you get the really good monsters. My favorite, strangely enough, happens to be the floating head and spinal cord. That’s not a sentence I ever expected to type, but here we are.
However, in terms of gameplay, that’s where Remorse: The List goes a little bit off the rails. Given the relative scarcity of survival horror titles on the Switch, I was really excited to give Remorse: The List a try, and though I enjoyed the introductory sequence and the idea of the mystery in Village H, fighting the game’s various issues didn’t particularly inspire me. Let’s talk about the good parts first, so we’ll start with the puzzles.
There was a time in my life when I really enjoyed overly difficult and complicated puzzle solving, but two kids and a mortgage later, I just don’t have the brain capacity for it anymore. I therefore really, truly appreciate a title that strikes the balance between offering me a challenge without veering too far into unnecessarily difficult territory. Remorse: The List does a great job with this balance. It provides ample visual cues to the puzzle solutions and enough variety in the puzzles themselves that they never become stale or frustrating. That said, there is at least one puzzle that’s broken on the Switch version because the clue doesn’t render appropriately. When you get there, you’ll know, and I do recommend hitting up YouTube for the solution.
My general preference is for the smaller puzzles because the larger puzzles, i.e., finding ways forward, frequently requires multiple trips from location to location either to fetch an item or a document that you’ll need for the bigger puzzle. Village H is surprisingly large for one of these titles, and while that’s generally a good thing, it does mean you spend a truly staggering amount of time traversing from zone to zone. This gets old about as fast as you’d imagine.
The other really big drawback to the game is the inventory system. Now, yes, inventory systems are generally ridiculous. There’s no way your character would be able to haul around the sheer amount of stuff that you do, but whatever that tendency lacks in verisimilitude, it makes up for in gameplay convenience. Remorse: The List, however, has decided that convenience is for chumps. You can carry approximately three bullets in two guns. Remember how Remorse: The List is really one big fetch quest? You’ll be dropping necessary ammunition and other helpful items to pick up the quest items.
That makes the survival part of it vastly harder than it needed to be. If you thought that you could maybe stash your items in a storage zone, you’d be wrong. All you can really do is drop stuff on the ground, so I recommend designating an easily found drop zone early on, especially since some of these quest-critical items may not become useful for quite some time depending on how you progress through the title.
My last caveat with respect to the inventory system is that it’s incredibly obnoxious to access. While the title’s controls are generally the same as you’d expect them to be as Remorse: The List has significant FPS elements, opening the inventory system requires one button to open and one to close it. I can almost promise you that you’ll forget which button does what if you put the game down for any length of time, and that’s not the only threshold issue. Remorse: The List also expects you to remember that you have two different management schemes depending on whether the item is a useful item like a medkit or a quest item. That process alone had me wanting to leave Adrian to his own devices in Village H and just get on with my life.
Remorse: The List really has some promise, but some clunky game design and a nightmare of an inventory system prove to be significant drawbacks. While I applaud the effort of indie developers Ashkandi and Truthkey at bringing a horror game to the Switch, Remorse: The List could really benefit from some time back in redevelopment. Still, if you can weather the title’s issues, there’s an interesting story to be found in Village H.
Remorse: The List retails for $19.99 on the Nintendo store.
Stray Thoughts From Behind the Keyboard
- Some of the monsters are just hilarious. There’s a creature that walks on its knees while wearing hotpants. I just couldn’t stop laughing.
- I really appreciated that Remorse: The List offers loads of save points; if it didn’t have them, the title would be unplayable.
- There are jump puzzles, which are mostly annoying, but they aren’t terrible.