Back in January, I was offered the opportunity to try out an early build of the upcoming psychological thriller meets third-person action title, Past Cure. The build of the game I played was just two levels from the full game. At the time of the preview, the game was still very much in development at Phantom 8 Studio.

Typically, when you play a game you notice that they tend to mesh all of their gameplay elements into a singular focus for the entirety of the experience. There usually isn't a very clear-cut change in tone and gameplay focus between two levels. That doesn't seem to be the case with Past Cure. Instead, there will be levels where the playable character Ian, relies on stealth, avoidance, and capacity to solve some fairly easy puzzles. All of these happen in a dark, creepy dream-world filled with visions and nightmares that don't take too kindly to Ian being around. Fortunately, Ian has a few supernatural abilities up his sleeve, including the ability to "project" himself into hard to reach areas to facilitate his puzzle solving, along with the ability to spot enemies through walls for a brief period of time.

On the flip side, the second level provided in this early access demo was much brighter. It felt like it was taking place in a near-future office building that just happened to be filled with a bunch of regular looking dudes utilizing some powerful albeit regular looking weaponry. This part of the game is where the "third-person action" comes into play as Ian runs, guns, and takes cover when needed. He also has the ability to briefly slow down time, but don't expect there to be extended periods of crazy Max Payne style antics, the slow-mo is more of a get out of jail free card than anything else.

To make a long story short, a story you can watch in full thanks to the gameplay video below (watch it!), Past Cure shows a lot of promise. As it's the first game from Phantom 8 Studio, it does show a few rough edges. For starters, the audio mix was a bit of a miss. It was often hard to hear the dialogue and there was no way to fine tune different aspects of the audio in the build that I had. I also felt as though the game needed a bit more feedback on when I was undetected in stealth, or rather when I was actually detected while in stealth. That feels like a real make or break mechanic to get correct if a good chunk of your game centers around it.

I will say that I really liked what Phantom 8 is doing with the gun and shooting mechanics. It's difficult to explain, but it seems as though the aiming and thus the firing line for the weapons actually comes from the weapon and not from a fantasy point out of the center of the character. That means that if the firing line is obstructed by objects, despite you and the character being able to see the target, you won't actually hit them. I like it when games do that. It also seems as though there is a benefit to taking your time with shooting. If Ian's animation hinders his ability to aim straight, it will reflected in the accuracy of the shot. Unless you're running and gunning constantly, it's often best to take a moment to ensure you're going to hit where you're aiming.

Right now, I came away from the preview hopeful for the full game release on February 23. It's certainly going to be one to look out for, provided that some of the quirks that I mentioned above and highlighted below get ironed out for release. For those interested, Past Cure will be out in just a couple of weeks for the PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.

The first 46 or so minutes of the video is all of the first demo level. This level is the one that includes some spooky, horror elements and puzzle solving. The remaining third of the video is the level that focuses more on the action. Feel free to enjoy how I botch the stealth in both segments.


Story Details

Past Cure is a dark psychological thriller that blurs the lines between dreams and reality. An intense, cinematic, story-driven experience that challenges the player to use mind-bending mental abilities to survive. After years of torture, former elite soldier Ian lives in a safe house with his brother, struggling with memory loss and the effects of the experiments he was forced to endure. In an attempt to tap into the hidden power of the mind, his captors left him scarred with unrelenting nightmares, visions and unstable powers such as time manipulation and telekinesis. Driven by his desperate need for the truth and a thirst for revenge; Ian, aided by his brother, sets out on a thrilling hunt for the masterminds of this conspiracy, hoping to uncover exactly what was done to him and why? As Ian plunges into a criminal underworld in pursuit of his only lead, he is forced to use his powers more and more to survive. But with each use, his mind becomes ever more detached from reality, revealing the presence of an even darker force at play.

Gameplay Features
- A story driven supernatural thriller
Past Cure is a cinematic, story driven experience where the player follows the struggle of a broken man searching for the missing pieces of his mind. With intense cutscenes and intriguing story items throughout the levels, the player can unravel a story that will keep them guessing til the end.

Action vs. Stealth
Be bold and engage your enemies with time bending gun battles and brutal jaw crunching combos. Or pick the stealthy approach where evasion tactics and slick stealth takedowns allow you to outsmart your enemies in silence. Choose the right approach to each situation as there are pros and cons to each playing style.

Mind bending abilities
Unleash the unlocked power of Ian’s mind against those who unlocked it. To truly master the Past Cure experience, players must utilise time manipulation and astral projection to gain an edge on opponents and overcome obstacles.

Dreams vs reality
Ians mind is torn between the gritty real world and the nightmarish horror of his dreams. Past Cure contrasts between the cold, brutal combat orientated levels of the real world, to the more puzzle solving and survival gameplay in the abstract dreamworlds.

Additional Information

Past Cure (Phantom 8 Studio)
Previewed on: PC via Steam. Also coming to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Release Date: February 23, 2018
Rated M for Mature 17+
Game was previewed on: i7-6700K at 4.5GHz, 32GB DDR4-2666, Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti, Windows 10 64-bit
This game was provided to Total Gaming Network for preview purposes.