Roman Sands RE:Build PAX West Impression
That players who dig more into it will learn of its psychological twist where nothing feels real and everything could be a part of a simulation, or out to get the player, is fascinating.
When viewing a lot of games in a short period of time sometimes little details slip through the cracks. At PAX West I got the chance to demo Arbitrary Metric’s Roman Sands RE:Build, and the game felt like a visual novel full of quests as the mystery of who the protagonist is slowly came into clearer focus. What I hadn’t realised is the game also comes with horror and puzzle elements, even if they weren’t at play in the demo showcased.
In Roman Sands RE:Build, the player character wakes up at a resort surrounded by frustrated attendees. These attendees want to know why the elevator won’t work and why their needs are not being met by the protagonist. This protagonist has no idea where they are, or why these attendees think they are the hired help. They don’t have time to reflect on anything though as they get tossed into a bunch of fetch quests to search the area and provide the attendees with things like drinks, passed notes, and other frivolous things.
The main goal is getting that elevator working. Most of the quests just involve learning what the characters are about, what they want and then going to get them what they want from an easily defined area. Each of the members of the resort are typical diva types, not really caring about the protagonist and just belittling them before getting on with what they find important.
Luckily, their end goal and the player’s end goal of getting the elevator working are the same. The elevator never did get to work in the demo, but like any good surprise genre swap in a TV show, the game’s marketing materials, mentioning broken realities and psyches, shows there’s much more to Roman Sands RE:Build than the initial half-hour in the demo lets on. Uncovering the exit will take a lot more thought, depth, and bravery then first entailed, the attendees are just the entry level crazies after all. What lies further in the resort at the end of the world? That’s an interesting question.
The visuals feature sharp hand-drawn lines on everything with muted white and blue colours assail the protagonist as they shuffle around getting everything completed. However, Roman Sands RE:Build blends in more colour and horror elements through materials not shown in the demo. It’s an interesting case of not judging the game by its cover as while it mentions being a psychological immersive sim, even that lulls one into a false sense of security. The layers at work here is very interesting. There was little on the show floor to give away this not-so-hidden twist that there’s horror deeper in the game. This style of marketing has its drawbacks but worked to make for a very memorable after-show experience.
Roman Sands RE:Build was shown to be a simple point and click adventure with relaxing music. Maybe players would dig into why everyone was at the resort and find a common ground. That players who dig more into it will learn of its psychological twist where nothing feels real and everything could be a part of a simulation, or out to get the player, is fascinating. Players shouldn’t have too much longer to learn what direction this story will go and how much puzzle and other elements are thrown in as Roman Sands RE:Build will release later this year on PC, Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S.