Halloween folklore is filled with memories, fortune-telling, and magic. Imagine you had the power to travel back through time, through memories, and work your magic on a bit of fortune-telling of your own? Maybe even prevent unnecessary deaths? Day 10 of our Halloween Game Reviews introduces The Rewinder, a game with the power to do exactly that.
What Is The Rewinder?
The Rewinder is a 2D side-scrolling point-and-click puzzle game. It is filled with Chinese mythology, drawing inspiration from Taoism and folklore. Everything from the story to the art and the puzzles are connected with legends of the afterlife and what we need to travel safely there.
You play as Qi Yun, the last known Rewinder. You are a special “agent” who has traveled through time to help the spirits of the dead fulfill their duty and be reborn from the Underworld. This is possible by exploring other people’s memories to alter the past—really helpful during the puzzle-solving elements of the game when you find an essential clue AFTER finding the puzzle.
Qi Yun’s task is to visit a cursed village in the land of the living and solve the mystery behind some mysterious disappearances. There is a shroud over the village, hiding the many mythological creatures who have become entwined with the people. While not overly gory (thanks to the animation style), the game definitely knows how to build the creepy supernatural vibes, perfect for Halloween gaming.
Is This an Old Game or a New Game?
The pixelated graphics and 2D setting definitely give this an old-school feel, but The Rewinder is a relatively new game. It was first exhibited at PAX Australia 2019 and has been refined for its full release on Steam in September 2021. The wait has been worth it, giving time to rewind and smooth out some bugs while allowing a far deeper exploration of the Chinese mythology about the afterlife.
For a pixelated game, the developers have captured a lot of detail in an aged village. Pixel art is a fine art in itself, finding the balance between minimal features and enough detail to make it recognizable (another game to achieve this really well is Unpacking-—see our review here). The Rewinder has achieved a lot of this with shading and colors. Normally, I don’t play around with the lighting on my computer for a game, but you will want to take the time to find the exact right setting for The Rewinder purely to enjoy the aesthetics. It is simply lovely and enjoyable to play.
Help the Villagers Cross Over
The majority of the game is based on puzzles and scenarios, collecting clues to solve the death of villagers and complete each level. One thing I really liked about this game is the smooth evolution of the puzzles; they really do grow with you. There is very little chance of jumping ahead to a puzzle that you haven’t been prepared for previously. This does not mean they are easy! There are some math puzzles using elements like weight and size, there are word puzzles, and my favorite was the mask-painting puzzle. Each puzzle leads to an item or memory needed to alter a villager’s life. As it pieces together, you are able to access more areas and begin to understand what has cursed this village.
The point-and-click mechanic helps with exploring the game, however, it can leave a certain haphazard approach to some puzzles. It can be frustrating when you resort to “spinning the mouse around” to find what is going on. There were more than a few times I was stumped on a puzzle, knowing I had missed something hidden in the room. The Rewinder includes some prompts to help you along, but it can feel a bit wasteful trying to luck upon the solution. Perhaps a timer could be added; it’s taking too long, pal. Here’s an additional clue. It’s not that the puzzles were over-complicated. Certain clues or elements were a little difficult to find amongst the scenery.
Rewind to the End
Overall, The Rewinder is a lovely and creative puzzle game. I feel like I learned a lot from it while I was playing. I love comparative mythology and found so many elements here where I really wanted to go and read more. It was so well balanced with the atmosphere of the graphics and soundtrack, it felt like a complete and wholesome game for me. I especially like the ability to “rewind” at the end and revisit different scenarios to see what I could have done differently.
My only request would be to support the puzzles a bit better, making them less dependent on the exact mechanics of point-and-click games. Too long searching the room or field and it breaks the mystic of the gameplay. With so much effort given to building that atmosphere, it seems a real shame to lose it for a little frustration. If you are more confident with your mouse-hand coordination, you can probably fit this game into a single night. For me, I broke it up with an hour or two over three nights. It would also be fine for teenagers, especially those who love myths and puzzles. I know our teenager would probably finish this game faster than me.
The Rewinder is available on Steam in both Demo and Full Version. It is also coming to Nintendo Switch later in 2021. Evil Genius Mum received a free demo version for the purpose of this review; no other compensation was received. You can find the game on Steam here.
Score: 3.5 out of 5 determined Spirit Wardens