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August 2018

Past Cure

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Developer: Phantom 8 Studio
Release Date: Feb. 23, 2018

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PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'Past Cure'

by Rainier on Feb. 6, 2018 @ 12:45 a.m. PST

Past Cure is a single-player, third-person shooter that neatly combines stealth elements with dynamic action sequences and stunning graphics.

Pre-order Past Cure

Phantom 8 Studio was founded in 2016, and although nobody on the team had any experience in the video game industry, they set out to create a high-quality title that could be sold at a budget price. The small development team is based in Berlin, Germany, and consists of eight people. The team is on track to get its first game, Past Cure, from concept to store shelves in approximately 18 months.

Past Cure is a mix of action, puzzle-solving, stealth and survival titles, so it makes sense that portions of it feel inspired by Alone in the Dark, Hitman, Metal Gear Solid and Silent Hill. The protagonist is Ian, an ex-Special Forces soldier who's been experimented on รก la Wolverine. He wakes up with special abilities and has no recollection of the last three years of his life, so he sets off to figure out what happened to him and who's responsible.

We had the chance to check out a preview build, which began with an introduction to the control system. Conveniently, Ian's brother has a shooting range and a boxing ring in his basement, which allows us to review the shooting and combat controls before diving in. We moved on to the first level, which is set in a parking garage level and serves as an introduction to Ian's powers, Astral Projection and Time Perception.

Each power has two functions. Astral Projection allows Ian to see where enemies are located, and it also allows him to manipulate electronic devices, so he can use the power to disable cameras and unlock security systems. Time Perception allows him to slow down time, and it also gives him increased accuracy in aiming.

We saw a handful of levels, and each showcased a different gameplay aspect. Stealth was emphasized in the parking garage, the hotel level showed off some combat and stealth, puzzles were featured in the prison, and the latter half of the prison level highlighted the survival/horror aspect of the title via an encounter with a creepy monster.

From a story perspective, Past Cure cites "Fight Club," "Inception" and "John Wick" as influences. While it's still unclear what happens, the game plays out in the real world and a dream world, which is probably triggered by overuse of his supernatural powers. You see, Ian's powers come at a price. He has a sanity meter, and it drains when he uses his powers. If it's empty, he experiences hallucinations, and he'll either need to find medicine or wait until his sanity is slowly restored. His brother Markus acquires black market drugs that help to keep his nightmares at bay.

As for graphics, Past Cure may not have all of the bells and whistles of a fully featured AAA title, but it's amazing how good the final product looks. The in-game graphics are quite good for an "indie" title, and the cut scenes are impressive. Phantom 8 has managed to squeeze in motion capture with several professional European MMA fighters for the melee combat, and they're leveraging 3Lateral for facial scanning. The title is powered by Unreal Engine 4 and uses the same pipeline as Hellblade and Horizon: Zero Dawn.

The audio in Past Cure sounds great, especially the sound effects and the ambient noise to foster the appropriate atmosphere. The soundtrack features a Belgian band, Seiren, and the lead singer Charlotte Jacobs also voices the character of Sophia, who's a double agent. One of the pre-order bonuses is the game's official soundtrack.

Given the developer's goal of creating a quality, budget-friendly title, there's a can-do attitude that is apparent in Past Cure. The developer was prudent in leveraging existing technology libraries, rather than expending the effort to build them from scratch. As previously mentioned, motion capture was done with European MMA fighters, rather than more famous cover athletes. Additionally, the protagonist is given an appropriate backstory, so it doesn't seem out of place that he's played by a German voice actor.

All in all, Past Cure's diverse gameplay looks promising, the supernatural powers are intriguing, and the $30 price tag certainly doesn't hurt. If this is what Phantom 8 has up its sleeve for its first foray into the video game industry, we can't wait to see what it has planned for a follow-up.

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