To Leave Review – PC
+ Original concept
+ Artistic visual design
+ Engaging soundtrack
+ Feature quality cutscenes
- SO MUCH READING
- Try-by-dying puzzles
- Short completion time
If you’re like me and go into the new PC game, To Leave with no heads-up of what you are getting into, then you still might be trying to figure out exactly what you are playing an hour or more into the game. After just the first hour you will have seen amazing Rankin & Bass-quality cutscenes, crazy flying platforming levels inspired by Rayman with a dash of LSD, isometric 3D exploration levels very much like Bastion, and more printed pages of text than the New York Public Library. Seriously, I cringed with every new document that got added to my growing journal; especially when they were multiple pages. I already feel guilty for skipping text documents in games like Skyrim or even the latest Tomb Raider games in order to maintain game flow, but in To Leave it appears that half of the expected game length includes reading. At least it’s a pleasing and large font.
I won’t even pretend to know what’s going on with this game. Apparently we are a microscopic member of a microscopic race living in a civilization on the vertebra of a giant spinal column floating in space. Or maybe we are regular size and we are living on a giant space skeleton. Regardless, we meet up with our character in one of those classic Hobbit-quality cutscenes mentioned above as we prep some sickly green grog, slam it back then start drawing in our sketchbook until we puke all over the floor and crawl into bed. Once we have control there is a bit of exploration in an isometric view of our apartment and outdoor balcony, but the only true exit is via the magic door next to our bed.
This magic door is not only a portal to nearly a dozen locations up and down the spinal column, many of these locations contain a temple that we are trying to activate to harvest souls and send them to heaven. Early on there are simple navigation puzzles where we get to fly around in a standard 2D view, but in later puzzles things get trickier when we must hang onto our flying door to navigate between stone totem landing blocks. The trick here is that the door is powered by soul energy that is constantly depleting, but you can replenish by flying through and collecting soul pellets. Solve a few of these Lunar Lander-style navigation puzzles to reach the temple, power on the soul collector and return to your apartment hub to do it all again.
To Leave looks and sounds great, subjectively speaking. It might not appeal to everyone, much like a trip to an art museum, but the performance is fluid and scales nicely to a wide variety of PC specs. It’s worth noting that you should probably have a gamepad, as some of those tricky flying door navigation puzzles require analog precision in all directions. Also, prepare for a lengthy onboarding process with lots of story and setup and very little gameplay for the first 20-30 minutes.
Even after several hours I still don’t really understand all the underlying symbolism taking place here, but I do enjoy the visual and audio stimulation of the otherworldly presentation and the rather innovative flying puzzle situations presented. All of that reading is really taxing my patience though. There is an impressive Table of Content that allows you to replay any cutscene or chapter in the game. Some levels/chapters can be finished in a minute or two while others take much longer; especially if you get hung up on a specific precision door-flying puzzle. There are quite a few of those where you must navigate narrow passage without touching the sides or landing too hard, often avoiding other flying obstacles.
To Leave is a mishmash of genres and gameplay styles that makes no real sense as a whole yet still managed to suck me in; partly because of just how bat shit crazy it all was and party because of the hypnotic visuals and perfectly themed soundtrack. The game is rated M, partly due to drug use, which is how you will feel after a few hours of flying around on a magic door trying To Leave.