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Broken Pieces Review

Updated: Oct 12, 2023

Genre: Psychological Thriller | Third Person Adventure

Modes: Single Player

Developed by: Elseware Experience, Mael Vignaux, Benoit Dereau

Published by: Freedom Games

Release date: 9 September, 2022

Platforms: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and PC

Platform I played on: Xbox Series X

Thank you for the review key Freedom Games.

 

From the get go, Broken Pieces on paper sounded like my kind of game. Psychological thriller? Check. Strange(r) things happening around you? Check. Mysteries to solve, on your own? Check! While this ultimatley checked all the boxes for me and sounded like a cool idea, the game itself unfortunatley didn't quite execute the way I thought it would. It's not a terrible game by any means, and it is still a fine game, but it left me feeling a little empty. It didn't quite hit the mark of being a psycholigical thriller which is a shame, because it certaintly had room to be.


The Mystery of Saint Exil

Broken Pieces is described as a psychological thriller adventure that takes place on a French costal village in the 1990's. The catch? The village is stuck in time and it's up to you, as Elise, to put the pieces back together and figure out the strange phenomena behind Saint Exil. You'll have to solve the mysteries around what caused the time loop in a post-cold war climate - alone. Previously, Elise wasn't alone as she had originally settled into Saint Exil with Pierre, her fiance. Eventually though she's left on her own. There's a few different locations you end up exploring throughout the story as well, including a church, beach and light house which are all creepy in their own way once you listen to the audio behind them.


What I thought was a genuine interesting storytelling motif is the use of cassette tapes. The cassette tapes help unravel the story and moves the plot forward. However, listening to these tapes meant you were restrained from doing anything else in the meantime, i.e you can't do much else otherwise the tape pauses, and it sometimes became a bit annoying. It was a cool idea that I think still worked at times, but it could have been much smoother, and at least being able to move around propely while listening to it. It's not the end of the world though as Elise keeps key information in her journal anyway, so the game thankfully doesn't require you to only listen to these tapes.


Unravelling the mystery

The gameplay includes primarily puzzle solving, i.e changing the weather to get to a specific location, and progress throughout the game. Generally, I thought this puzzle element was one of the best aspects of the game, as it requires you to experiment with weather changing and exploring these areas. For example, with the snowy weather some parts are covered in snow which can ultimatley block your path, but in other instances it can be a way to get to a different section. There's also general exploration to seek environmental storytelling elements.



The combat is my most disliked aspect of the game. It wasn't the greatest controls as using the gun felt a bit clunky, and dodging enemies didn't quite feel right. In fact, the timing always felt off and didn't always respond to your button pressing, which became a little frustrating at times. It also felt like a bit of a chore, and almost an annoyance having to do combat. Nothing about it felt right, but thankfully the game still had interesting puzzles, and didn't rely solely on combat.


Unfortunatley, what also felt a bit off was some of the weird camera angles which made some puzzles more complex to do, and became a bit of an annoyance. The game still highlights specific things for you, but it still doesn't help the overall weird camera angles. What was cool about the fixed camera angles though (when they worked) is that it was clearly inspired by old Resident Evil and Silent Hill games. So, that was a nice touch at least.


Throughout the game, you'll have to also time your movement. As after a certain time (8pm) it becomes dangerous for you to be out due to the ghosts that lurk. Before you move into any location, the game will tell you how long it will take to get there, and you can decide whether you still want to proceed or wait until the next day, depending how much time you have left of the day.



Glitches | Bugs | Issues

Thankfully I didn't come across any issues (that I can recall, at least). As always though, this isn't to say there aren't any glitches/bugs or issues, so still keep an eye out.


Length/Replayability

You can smash out the game in under 5 hours if you're only wanting to do the main story (and depending on your playstyle) and roughly 8-9hrs if you're wanting to do the main story and extras. Personally, I didn't bother with completing every single thing, as I was more focused on just wanting to play the main story. For me personally, I don't think I would go back to this, but for some this may be worth while to mop up some achievements/trophies.


Conclusion

Broken Pieces isn't quite a psychological thriller, as it feels purley more like an adventure game - which is by no means a bad thing, at all. For me, it just didn't quite capture the psychological thriller genre, as it wasn't as mind provoking or thrilling to me. It still had a lot of cool ideas including the variety of puzzles and unique story at least. However, it has it's flaws including the clunky, broken combat and weird camera angles that can be frustrating when all you want to do is progress. The art design of the game certaintly fits in well with the atmosphere/tone of the story, especially when switching between weather.


Overall, I can recommend this if you're looking for a still decent game with some cool ideas, if you don't mind the flaws. For some, it may not be as enticing as it doesn't quite hit the mark of being a psychological thriller, but it's still a decent short game that will only take a few hours to complete if you're looking for something unique to pass the time.



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