A missing person, a haunted forest, and a plot punctuated by hammy first-person narration. Is it The Park ? Is it Blair Witch ? No, it’s Someday You’ll Return , an indie psychological horror walking simulator developed by the relatively unknown CBE software. Though it’s near-sterling visuals and seemingly high production value betray its status as a passion project developed by a two-man team, the game’s issues are obvious. Endearing as small-time development can be, Someday You’ll Return simply doesn’t rise above the status quo of schlocky horror titles that are to Steam as questionable business decisions are to Bethesda.
Into The Woods
Set in a mountainous region of The Czech Republic, Someday You’ll Return puts players in the shoes of Daniel, a man as hell-bent on finding his missing daughter Stela as he is blaming her disappearance on his significant other. After using an app on his phone to track Stela’s location, Daniel embarks on a mission that seems to be more about self-actualization and making amends for past wrongdoings than merely retrieving his MIA little girl. Without spoiling things, in broad terms, the story is engaging, and it definitely ramps up during the latter half of the experience, shifting from The Vanishing of Ethan Carter at the outset to Outlast II or even Agony during the game’s closing moments. Though it suffers from some clunky dialogue in places and feels outrageously cliché, it’s the sort of thing that horror fans may well appreciate.
Fairground Ride Feel
Unfortunately, the game’s problems are made apparent far before the more nuanced details of the plot are unfurl. Someday You’ll Return , though beautiful in places and a testament to how useful the Unreal 4 engine can be for independent developers—particularly in the forested locations in the beginning, falters in many places. Character models are ugly and animations are stiff, resulting in a very broken-down-theme-park-ride feel. This is something endemic to low-budget walking sims, and this title does nothing to elevate its presentation beyond that of its competition.
Additionally, the voice acting—especially that of the protagonist—is atrocious. The actor providing Daniel’s voice clearly wasn’t given enough direction when delivering his lines, and his various quips and moments of explication quickly become grating. What’s more, he’ll often cut himself off or talk over himself when lines of dialogue are triggered, making the overall presentation of the story all the more unpalatable. While other NPCs come off as marginally more palatable, we’d prefer developers rely on emergent storytelling rather than conveying most of the narrative through dialogue-heavy narrative dumps—and that’s to say nothing of the various books and documents scattered throughout the game world.
Blair Witch Walking Simulator
In terms of gameplay, Someday You’ll Return seems terrified of embracing its walking simulator roots and is keen on including gruff crafting and stealth elements to avoid the label. Though they initially seem like crafty ways to change up the gameplay, the mechanics are far too shallow and wear thin far too quickly. An early puzzle, for example, teaches the player that Daniel can use and combine tools and things he’s found in the environment at certain workbenches. It sets up a sort of point-and-click mentality whereby players scour the environment in search of innovative ways to solve a puzzle.
Unfortunately, the mechanic falls flat almost immediately, as Daniel retrieves a bag of tools shortly after which he can use to craft and combine nearly everything. Later on, the game introduces a potion-brewing mechanic which requires players to search for and combine herbs. Again, it would be a neat mechanic, but the herbs are always clearly marked, and the system feels more like busywork than a potential piece of a genuinely interesting puzzle.
Worth The Risk?
We’d like to reiterate that, at its core, Someday You’ll Return isn’t an inherently bad experience, but its aggressively generic story beats and been-there-done-that nature make it feel nearly irrelevant in such a densely populated gaming space. Though this game was likely in development long before the reveal of Bloober Team’s Blair Witch game, this title feels excruciatingly similar, at times more or less ripping off scenes or concepts from the 2019 release—or perhaps the 1999 movie.
In short, Someday You’ll Return feels like an amalgamation of every loosely-defined action/adventure horror title on Steam. The developers may well have tried to put their own spin on things—the game’s authentically marked, genuinely gorgeous hiking trails and thrilling, psychological, at times gory, grotesque later sections do stand out—but it’s hard to recommend this over any of the dozens of similar titles available on any other platform. Plus, with an asking price of thirty dollars, it’s best to steer clear of this one for now.
A PC copy of Someday You’ll Return was provided to TheGamer for this review. Someday You’ll Return is available now for PC.