Past Cure Review: Drugs Won’t Help You Through This Identity Crisis

  • Playstation 4
  • Xbox One
  • Action-Adventure
NOTE: This article is a contribution and do not necessarily represent the views of Player One.
Past Cure will be available Feb. 23 on Xbox One, PS4 and Steam PC.
Past Cure will be available Feb. 23 on Xbox One, PS4 and Steam PC. Past Cure

Past Cure feels like an indie studio’s avant garde experiment gone wrong on a powerful game engine. It suffers from an identity crisis, and fumbles through multiple genres and gameplay styles instead of embracing one to its fullest.

After being kidnapped by an unknown agency, Ian wakes up to find he can manipulate time and project his consciousness in strange ways. The story begins with Ian hallucinating in a strange building. White mannequin-like figures try to kill him. Ian desperately wants to make sense of these dreams, but can’t seem to get a grip on reality unless he takes his “blues,” a pill that helps control the hallucinations. Ian’s brother informs him he’s found a doctor selling pills that give people the same special abilities Ian is struggling to control. Ian prepares for his long day ahead and goes to sleep, where he dreams about a woman he’s never encountered before, or so he thinks. Ian wakes up and breaks into a building to interrogate the mysterious doctor and the story begins to unfold.

Past Cure has the plot of a survival horror game such as Silent Hill, but also has aspects to psychological thrillers like Layers Of Fear. The game shines brightest in during Ian’s hallucinations. There’s an element of mystique with these mannequin-like figures which, coupled with creepiness of the buildings, really sends chills down your spine. The world is vibrant, alive and has the visual quality of a triple A game since it was created on Unreal Engine. The problem is it doesn’t embrace the horror genres. In fact, the game doesn’t embrace any genre or gameplay style. It plays like the game developers had different visions when creating this game; one person wanted to create a Beyond: Two Souls game with astral projection, another wanted to create a third person shooter, someone else wanted to create a Hitman-esque stealth game, and they basically said “Fuck it, let’s do it all.”

And when you can’t decide what genre or gameplay style you are, you will fall short in development. While promoting Past Cure, developers explained the game is meant for casual players. You can play through the game in one sitting and really enjoy the story. In theory, this would mean you can breeze through on its normal setting. Unfortunately, this was not my experience as the mechanics of the game were lackluster at best.

Ian's hallucinations are intense.
Ian's hallucinations are intense. Past Cure
Past Cure's creepy moments really shine.
Past Cure's creepy moments really shine. Past Cure
Could've done without the garage levels.
Could've done without the garage levels. Past Cure

For example, half-way through the story you must make your way up a parking garage to get to the mysterious doctor. There are several guards on each level you’ll have to kill to make it to the next section. There’s no sneaking past them, you must kill them. And you can’t do it silently because Ian has the loudest dress shoes ever. You can’t sneak up on them because the chances are guards will spot you, which is fine because you can manipulate time to set up your shots and take them out. Or so you would think. Unfortunately, the shooting mechanics are sometimes ineffective. You would think three headshots would take down an enemy, but that’s not how it works in Past Cure. Landing the kill shot feels more like luck than skill, and when ammo is precious you can’t afford to waste bullets.

The save points in Past Cure are really poorly placed for a game that’s supposed to be for casual players. There are many times in the game where you’ll die and have to start several checkpoints back. Going back to the parking garage, you can easily make the mistake of being trigger happy and run out of bullets. You can also be combat happy and go through your health packs quickly. By the time you get to the top you’ll be down to your last health and get killed easily if you haven’t mastered the art of time manipulation, which you can’t really do in a couple of hours.

The overall pacing feels weird and awkward. There’s a stealth mission once you leave the garage that you must remain hidden or you instantly fail. Well, it’s really easy for you to get spotted if you don’t take your time. So you go from a fast-paced, kill everyone mode in a parking garage to being forced to slow down for what feels like a failed attempt to create a challenging environment. And then you encounter a hallucination sequence with puzzles you have to figure out without being spotted. Honestly, this game would've been better off keeping Ian in his hallucinations and forgoing all the boring parking garage action. It’s just all over the place and makes it difficult to have an enjoyable experience.

You will either love or hate Past Cure . There’s no in-between with this game and with a $29.99 price tag, I would recommend you wait it out.

Past Cure
Past Cure Review: Drugs Won’t Help You Through This Identity Crisis
Past Cure is too busy trying to figure out what genre it is, failing to execute the simplest mechanics that would’ve made the game far more enjoyable.
  • Intriguing plot
  • Creepy atmosphere
  • Awful third-person shooter mechanics
  • Awful sneak mechanics
  • Awful “supernatural” mechanics
  • Doesn’t know what genre it wants to be
  • Boring, repetitive mission levels
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