This week on Zero Punctuation, Yahtzee reviews Remothered: Broken Porcelain.
Prologue: Premium Programs
This month, we're asking for your support through our premium programs via The Escapist+ and YouTube Memberships. Your support allows us to continue making the content we want instead of chasing algorithms or the latest trends. Plus, you get a bunch of perks like ad-free viewing via The Escapist+ on our main website, early access on YouTube via YouTube Memberships, and bonus content like our monthly Ask the Creators video series, where we answer your burning questions. Thanks in advance for your continued support! Guilt, guilt, bat eyelashes, bat eyelashes, etc.
Hey, everybody, it's October (at time of writing), the month when all the ooky-spooky games pop up like rigor mortis erections at an open-casket funeral. And hey, it's also 2020, the year of shit, where everything is shit and human civilization circles the toilet bowl like the latter two-thirds of last night's sweetcorn burrito. So what better way to mark the occasion than with a really shit horror game?
Step forward, the Remothered franchise, which began in 2018 with Remothered: Tormented Fathers, a unique survival horror IP that collectively made a lot of people go, "Wow, that's the most awkward fucking title I've ever seen outside of Japanese games and Philip K. Dick novels!" I didn't even do the dry heave, 'cos I feel the title is dry heave enough! And then the developers said, "Oh, you think that title's awkward, do you? Well, I'm sure we can beat that record!" So here's the sequel, Remothered: Broken Porcelain, which sounds like something you'd find on a label in an antiques shop owned by someone for whom English is a second language. It's not secondhand; it's "remothered"! Don't worry; it still pours tea, as long as you don't lift it by the handle or any other part.
Remothered: Tormented Fathers was a stealth survival horror in the tradition of games like Haunting Ground on the PS2 or Clock Tower on the SNES - Yeah, it goes that far back; you young horror-making whippersnappers think you invented running away and hiding in cupboards, don't you, not to mention monsters that think one searches a cupboard by standing in front of it and staring really hard at the door? - the idea being that you're trying to explore the usual survival horror-y environment full of really circuitously locked doors while being hunted by a monster that can't be permanently killed, but can be temporarily knocked down with items or traps, or some technique or other, so that you can run off to find a nice cupboard in which to void your bowels in safety.
I must admit, I didn't go out of my way to try the first one, because it was one horror game among hundreds, and who the fuck knows anymore what IPs have got staying power and which are just going to burst on the surface of Steam like passing zits? I'm like a bloke who runs a uranium mine who doesn't bother committing the names of any workers to memory until they've survived at least three shifts. So when a sequel to Remothered came out, I thought, "Ooh, guess it was worth at least four-fifths of a damn! Let's check it out!" Well, it's a good thing Remothered: Broken Porcelain doesn't work in a uranium mine, 'cos it'd cause severe morale issues with the horrible things it leaves in the communal latrine.
It's a bad one, friends; so bad, I want to bend it over my autopsy table and really work out what the fuck happened. It's a continuation of the plot from the last game that gets summed up for us in a "Story So Far" video whose principal effect was to get me completely lost before we'd even fucking started; apparently, some lady was looking for a missing girl and got trapped in a house with a murderous old man and an evil nun, and there was a conspiracy involving evil science and a convent burning down, and some or all of the characters were being hypnotized by some or all of the rest of the characters. Got all that? Good, off we go! And then we get dumped into gameplay like I've just been given a blanket party at boot camp and am now dazedly blinking into the darkness wondering if I should burst into tears or not. From there, we play as a teenage schoolgirl with a British accent of mysterious origin who lives in a hotel where the staff members keep going insane and trying to braid her hair with a fire axe.
If I were to describe the visuals of Remothered: Talking Bicycle in ten words or less, I'd go for, "Murky murky murky, murky murky murky murky, contextual button prompt." Most of the action takes place in murky corridors, each containing at least one chest of drawers which are the natural habitat of the contextual button prompt; press one to open a drawer, and then do a little limbo dance with the camera to see if there's a contextual button prompt over one of the nondescript murky objects inside, while trying not to press the contextual button prompt that opens the other drawers. But don't worry too much about that, because your inventory will be full after about two rooms; you'll know because every new item you pick up causes something to slide out of your trouser leg like an inadequately pinched turd.
At that point, you'll be ready to take on whatever monster is currently stalking the halls repeating the same three lines of dialogue, and who tend to instantly spot you regardless of what you think you're crouched behind. Pro tip: stick to just distracting them with noisy objects, because throwing a bottle at their head stuns them about as much as an insincere marriage proposal. You can also use ropes to stop them coming through doors, but the one time I tried that, it also prevented me from going through the door, and I had to reload a save, although not before declaring a moral victory. But you might as well not bother with items, 'cos you can run away easily enough, and even if they catch you, there's a good chance they just want to shove you about, like bullies trying to push you into the opposite-gender bathroom, until your health runs out and they shove a dessert fork up your nose.
Actually, the most reliable strategy is to wait for their A.I. to fuck up. One time, I saw the chasey monster just standing there in the middle of the murky corridor; they ignored all my distraction objects, so I just awkwardly tried to squeeze past them, thinking, "This is either a bug, or there's a very cunning jump-scare coming up." Spoiler alert: it was the first one. As if Remothered: Trombone Pederast could ever successfully be scary; all impact the chasey monsters could have is lost when you've run away from them into the same cupboard five times 'cos you still don't know what the fuck you're supposed to do, and it's even odds whether you just haven't figured it out yet or if the game's bugged out again.
I probably gave Remothered: Solipsist Hairdryer more time than it deserved; I made it all the way through about nine confusing plot developments to a puzzle where I was supposed to open a voice-activated safe. Now, I could hear one of the villains talking to his sock puppet in a nearby room, and I had a tape recorder; I felt like I was ready to put all the pieces of this mind-melter together, so I stood where the dialogue was loudest and pressed the "Use" button, and my big-titted Jodie Foster-lookalike protagonist got out her sound recorder and sort of waved it a bit like she was using it to check for ghosts. So... did that do it? I went back to the safe and I pressed "Use" on it, and the lady said, "Bingo!", and then nothing happened.
I gave up at that point. I'm not going to stand here being made to feel silly 'cos you gave me a square peg and a square hole, and then stretched cling film around the latter, Remothered: Audacious Wallpaper; I took enough of that bullshit from 90's adventure games. "Could the game be saved if they patch out the bugs, Yahtz?" Well, the design's bad and the story's a mess, so that's like asking if I could suck a turd up through a drinking straw if it was mixed with water first; possibly, but on the whole, I'd rather just find a different juice box.
- Rebothered: Borked Presentation: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
- Anyone remember Clock Tower 3? Rule of Rose? Truly was the PS2 era the golden age of janky horror survival games
- Golden in the sense of being urine coloured, that is