Long Gone Days is largely made of elements you’ve seen before but still manages to offer some compelling moments with an absorbing story and haunting soundtrack.
Long Gone Days may not have been on many gamers’ radars as it is a bit of a niche title and may not be for everybody, but as any fan of independent RPGs will tell you; the more the merrier. The genre is a great place for talented independent game developers to flourish and gamers to have access to lots of quality content at generally low cost. This particular game follows suit with many other entries in the growing scene of independent RPG’s that blend traditional mechanics like turn-based combat with visual novel elements and interesting choices to pick while conversing with characters.
For better and for worse, Long Gone Days plays it safe in a lot of ways. This game by no means features a unique blend of elements, and Long Gone Days does very little to expand on your expectations of the genre. If you have ever played a game of this type before, odds are, you are very unlikely to see much in this title that you haven’t seen somewhere else. On top of that, if you have much experience with RPGs you’ve also probably seen most of those elements done better. This doesn’t mean Long Gone Days isn’t worth your time though.
"The cast of characters is typical RPG fare. A NPC who later becomes a friend, an ambiguous love interest, and a handful of other characters that do very little to stay memorable."
What Long Gone Days lacks in innovation it usually makes up for in its execution. The gameplay, while somewhat shallow and predictable, is serviceable and manages to stay effectively entertaining most of the time. The majority of gameplay is either walking around talking to characters and exploring small to medium-sized areas, sniper sections, and relatively simple turn-based fights. Like I said, nothing you haven’t seen before. Past the half-way point, it did start to get a little old and the predictability did it no favors, but I wouldn’t say it got boring. The overall experience never totally lost its footing with me mostly thanks to the excellent pacing and the generous portions of above-average dialogue and storytelling between combat sections.
This brings me to my next point; the story. Long Gone Days is set in a dystopian near-future where the planet’s surface is engulfed in conflict and disarray, where our protagonist, Rourke, who has spent the majority of his life following military protocol and obeying orders finds himself faced with a situation that he cannot bear and decides to break free from his normal way of thinking as well as his superiors. Like most elements of Long Gone Days, the story and setting isn’t terribly unique, but also is executed well. Most of the more impactful moments in the story are interesting, and a few of them crossed into being straight-up compelling, and had me on the edge of my seat. The cast of characters is typical RPG fare. A NPC who later becomes a friend, an ambiguous love interest, and a handful of other characters that do very little to stay memorable.
This is perhaps the story’s weakest element. While none of the characters were completely worthless, none of them, including our hero, really reached the heights of being remarkable enough to really pull me into being consistently empathetic towards them. I also didn’t even really see any effort in the writing to try to do that, so I was left notably disappointed in the lack of surprises and intrigue from the individual cast members themselves. That being said, they do carry the story to the end and some of the choices you can make while talking to them do have serious impact on how they may behave later, so that did help a lot in terms of keeping me interested. I just wish it could have been a little more than that.
"While I do enjoy most of the visual elements of the game, the audio is probably where it shined the brightest for me. The ominous, haunting soundtrack goes a very long way to holding on to the mood and keeping the player emotionally connected to the moments that really need it."
Visually the game looks great. The stills during story-sections are beautifully crafted and fun to look at, with some of them featuring multiple layers that provide some much-appreciated depth. I would have enjoyed a few more of them per scene, though, as they did seem to linger a little longer than most moments called for, but I guess if my main complaint about your art is that I wish there was more of it, then I suppose that’s not the worst problem to have, right? The gameplay presentation is nice and colorful as well. Lots of nice little animations that you don’t see in every game of this genre- certainly not at this price point- and I rather enjoyed them all the way through.
From item boxes opening, enemy death animations, and even the casual little motions other non-playable characters make while talking to each other, the game takes most of the opportunities it could have to bring quality, thoughtful animations into the equation. Unfortunately the same cannot be said about the animations during fight scenes, which are bland, simple, and make the already simple combat feel more hollow than even some mobile games I’ve played for free. This is a shame because they did nail the fundamentals of classic RPG-style combat, and all they had to do was go a little further to not have these moments feel like such a step down from the rest of the game. A little more effort in this area would have gone a long way. Even still, for the price tag, Long Gone Days has a lot more to compliment in the visual department than complain about.
"Long Gone Days is indeed a mixed bag, but fortunately the mixture is mostly comprised of things that range from good to great and very few actual problems."
While I do enjoy most of the visual elements of the game, the audio is probably where it shined the brightest for me. The ominous, haunting soundtrack goes a very long way to holding on to the mood and keeping the player emotionally connected to the moments that really need it. Tracks differ greatly at times, but always feel like they are part of the same experience, which is a delicate balance lots of independent games struggle to master. The songs are simple and feature very few voices and I found the level of simplicity very complimentary to the other elements that make up the game. Where I might have had complaints about simplicity elsewhere in the game, I enjoyed it in the songs and ambiance that accompanied certain levels. Even the sound of dialogue text generating at the bottom of the screen stood out to me as an excellent choice.
Long Gone Days is indeed a mixed bag, but fortunately the mixture is mostly comprised of things that range from good to great and very few actual problems. Whatever problems I do have, after put into context with the price point, are rendered basically negligible. The elements that make up this game are almost entirely things you’ve already seen in the genre it occupies, and like I said, it wouldn’t be hard to find games that pull off similar combinations much better, but between the largely above average presentation, outstanding soundtrack, a handful of truly compelling moments, and a very friendly price point, fans of independent RPGs and visual novels certainly shouldn’t ignore it.
This game was reviewed on the PC.
The fundamentals of the genre are certainly here with very few missteps. And an excellent soundtrack brings a lot to the experience.
Quality is inconsisitent. Great moments are seperated with spells of averageness and Long Gone Days occasionally falls victim to itself by not being able to maintain its own excellence on a consistent basis.
Long Gone Days has enough going for it for RPG veterans to enjoy, and also keeps things simple enough for newcomers and would serve as an excellent entry point for those who are new to the genre. This is perhaps one of the greatest strengths of the game. Playing it safe doesn't always pay off, but in this case, with the help of a few great moments peppered throughout, the largely reliable pillars of classic RPG mechanics hold up very nicely in this title.