The Butterfly Sign is an adventure game with a heavy focus on narrative and investigations, it is a nice change of pace to the faster paced action games and countless open world adventure games we have recently seen. It’s the first title from a small Ukrainian studio, Quantum Phoenix and definitely made for an interesting play-through
You take the role of Jack, the sole survivor of an attack on the asylum where he was being treated for memory loss with a highly experimental drug known as Rammex. You are also the main suspect of the crime and so, you are forced to travel back into your memories of the events at the asylum, by one of the asylum doctors, with the help of Rammex, to find out who did it. You aren’t given any other context to the situation and are then thrown into the game, which both works well with the story and provides the player with enough information to be interested in exploring the world and finding out more about the story but not enough to know what to expect.
The whole situation you find yourself in makes you feel very uneasy very quickly and the game capitalises on that immediately, the first part of the game that you play has you making most of the long journey from the bottom of the hill the asylum rests upon on foot, in fog that doesn’t let you see 5 metres ahead of you. Even though, this part of the game is largely uneventful it visually sets up a dramatic and rather beautiful environment, it is aided by very dramatic music and accurate environmental sound effects such as a strong wind. The sound design throughout the entire game is executed very well, as you explore, you may hear whispers of young girls, women crying or things being knocked over and moved which I found the scariest as it always makes you question if you are truly alone. Admittedly, at times, especially at the beginning of the game the environmental sound effects can be annoyingly loud but quickly adjusting my volume quickly solved that. During the game, you must solve puzzles such as connecting circuits together to provide electricity to something, these are surprisingly tricky which was a refreshing change to many games where the puzzles don’t make you think very much. You also must collect pieces of evidence and interpret them, usually out of several ways. If you make too many wrong decisions you will die and must restart from a certain point. This is an underused mechanic in most games so it was nice to see it however, I felt a lot of the guesses were common sense and I never made more than 1 or 2 wrong guesses in the entire game, although on the hardest difficulty that is enough to send you all the way back to the beginning of the game
Although the story is intriguing, the pacing needs some work, it is a relatively slow paced game which doesn’t feel right considering the game is also a thriller and constantly keeps you on edge. As a result, I found the game got less scary and thrilling as the story progressed and I realized the only real danger is me making enough wrong guesses to die.
In addition, the difficulty levels of the game need work, on the lowest difficulty, you cannot die no matter how many wrong guesses and you have unlimited concentration, which is used to highlight key objects in an environment if you get stuck, although key objects are very obvious and players like myself who tend to explore every nook and cranny of an environment won’t need to use it at all. Whereas the highest difficulty gives you no concentration and a single wrong guess will kill you and send you to the beginning of the game. These difficulties are balanced and cater to different types of players; however, the 2 middle difficulties need tweaking. They give you 6 and 4 wrong guesses depending on whether you picked the one closer to the lowest or highest difficulty and concentration regenerates faster and slower respectively, I believe that 6 and 4 wrong guesses are still too many than the average player will need in their playthrough.
The Butterfly Sign continuously impresses with its visuals, the environments are very detailed, and the developers have made excellent use of particle effects to produce things such as fog, falling leaves and atmospheric lighting.
Players who like exploring game worlds, puzzles and are interested in a unique story that is revealed slowly as the game progresses will definitely enjoy this game and will most likely enjoy the other chapters that will be coming out over the course of this year.
The Butterfly sign is a carefully thought out game that forces the player to put pieces of the story together themselves in an engaging way, it creates a tense, uneasy environment without ever relying on jump scares, this is welcomed change. It’s a strong start for the small studio and promises exciting things in the future.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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