Test – Broken Pieces – Endless Day?

The Elseware Experience studio is a bit of a UFO in the video game landscape. Born from the improbable encounter between a former level architect from Dishonored and a doctor in physics from Arianespace, it has made a name for itself in the Serious Games and VR sector. With Broken Pieces, he signs his first video game project for the general public with a mysterious adventure taking place in the fictional village of Saint-Exil, a charming coastal town. This very “postcard” vision of our dear Brittany is of course accompanied by the cry of the seagulls for a guaranteed change of scenery from the title screen.

Become sometimes an elusive dream

We take control of Elise, immersed in a particularly disturbing dreamlike environment, a dark cobblestone tunnel at the end of which pulses a light from another world. Our progress through several distortions in the frame of the dream, silhouettes of transparent bodies as if frozen in a moment of eternity inspire our character with a certain dread.

Never go out unprepared

Disembodied cries and cries punctuate our slow progress towards the exit, accompanied by snippets of a woman’s voice on the radio. Once almost at the end of the tunnel, our heroine stops in front of a makeshift table on which lie scientific devices and a radio alarm clock. The latter starts ringing, rousing Elise from her sleep.

We realize that a disturbing event has put an end to our rest, an earthquake. However, Elise doesn’t seem to be overly concerned about this and gets up immediately. We go around the owner with her, the house is reasonably large with many rooms that are sometimes very crowded. Some judiciously highlighted objects allow us to learn a little more about recent events.

It’s never reassuring to come across these kinds of messages.

A certain Pierre seems to have shared our character’s life before the strange events that led us here. This exploration of course brings many more questions than answers and instills a certain anxiety about the situation of our heroine. Before leaving to explore the surroundings, we retrieve a notebook, our trusty walkman with cassettes as well as a pistol in the shed. Our brief combat training serves as a tutorial, which says a lot about the cordiality of the relations maintained with the neighborhood.

In a fort, a peninsula, forget our duels, our skirmishes

But of neighborhood, there is none. Elise is apparently alone in Saint-Exil. For now, our first objective is to restore the power by going to the lighthouse. On the way, disturbing ethereal apparitions arise and attack us, allowing us to practice the techniques revised a little earlier. As much to announce it right away, the fights in Broken Pieces are completely anecdotal and are only there to add an optional layer of difficulty. It is also possible to curb them by keeping only those imposed by the scenario in an extremely simplified way.

The targeting of enemies is automatic but Elise is not an overtrained soldier, you have to stay in sight for a short time without being able to move before shooting or your bullet will go off.

Apparently ghosts don’t like bullets

Dodging lacks precision and the use of our power, which is particularly effective, requires a “judgmental” cooldown between two uses. Fortunately, our standard rounds are unlimited, unlike premium ammo, which can be harvested from everywhere or crafted from specific materials. For the oldest, we could say that we are on Parasite Eve “light”. It’s not catastrophic, but fortunately, the interest of the title is based on other aspects.

I’ll go see sooner or later if the mermaids exist

After crossing the courtyard of a charming property particularly well flowered, we take a winding coastal path on the side of a cliff. Very quickly, we use our power to briefly change the weather to unlock the path, not quite understanding the why and how of this amazing ability. The rest of our mission is relatively linear, punctuated by the encounter with several chain-link fences and doors that are currently locked. We quickly arrive in sight of “L’Écrin” and are confronted with our first mini-game: an electrical cabinet, wires to be connected in the correct order after having observed the surroundings, nothing insurmountable.

Postcard from the Ecrin

The following puzzles are in the same vein and failing to be really innovative, they never guide the player to the solution. Sometimes you have to rack your brains a little, go back and forth, but the solution always ends up appearing. The exploration of the lighthouse ends the first part (and probably the first day, depending on the time spent) of the adventure.

Master Crow, perched on a tree…

Elise collects important information and must study it during the evening. Besides, his absolutely kitsch crab watch, which can be consulted at any time, reminds him at the end of the day that it is inappropriate to stay outside for his own safety. As travel between each area of ​​the game takes some time, you have to plan your route well so as not to find yourself far from home when dusk comes, otherwise you will find yourself attacked on a much more regular basis.

Even when the thunder rumbles, I hear the sound of your voice

We quickly grasp the importance of our notebook, which gathers the important information of our journey as well as our cassette player, which allows us to listen to the different tapes gleaned during our adventure. In this regard, each morning, new recorded cassettes are to be retrieved from Elise’s room according to the events of the previous day.

Our best friends to fight loneliness

The majority of them are voice recordings that provide additional information that is sometimes essential to the progress of the story, others simply contain music and help break the deafening silence that fell on Saint -Exile. It is possible to listen to them at will, which represents a rather elegant way of leaving part of the narration, even an annex, in the hands of the players. The game is of course entirely in French and it is advisable to deactivate the subtitles for better immersion. Elise may sound a little jaded during some of her lines, but overall the voice acting is quality.

The very intimate soundtrack brings back memories of the opening scene of Life is Strange first of the name and we almost regret that it only consists of a handful of titles. The main recordings are rather serious with often a hint of depression and discouragement in Elise’s voice, but can we really blame her, given her situation?

Most disturbing are the prices

At the same time, some cassettes, sometimes very well hidden, launch side quests or more generally contribute to the atmosphere of the title. In terms of a change of scenery, we are particularly well served, because in case some people might have missed it, Broken Pieces takes place in 1993 and the Elseware Experience team is playing the card of nostalgia and going back in time, until in the most insignificant details of the title.

You need azure, open sea and clean air

If the player controls Elise, the main character is undoubtedly the village of Saint-Exile. We do feel a certain visual mastery despite the presence of some unattractive textures from certain camera angles. Every nook and cranny of the village is modeled with care, right down to the groves of hydrangeas that adorn each garden. The laundry drying outside, the buoys so specific to the region, the detailed models that decorate a house, everything reminds us of Brittany. All that is missing from this traditional representation is a light iodized breath during our outdoor explorations to make us go on a trip. The various objects present are not to be outdone and the audio cassettes rub shoulders with the coins in francs, as well as a list of collectibles which take us back thirty years back.

The beach under the snow

The icing on the cake, the “tables de George” propose to transform our brain into salted butter caramel. This mysterious inventor has a shop not far from the imposing local church and invites us to take part in a treasure hunt throughout Saint-Exil. Its wooden puzzles are scattered all over the place and allow you to recover coins struck by a triskel to be exchanged for various prizes. Unless you are familiar with this kind of game, it is a bit complicated to fully understand the system and its subtleties during its first games, which makes each of our resolutions all the more rewarding.

Tested on Xbox One and Xbox Series X

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