The Butterfly Sign – Chapter 1 “Necessary Evil’ Preview
The mind is a funny thing. We remember seemingly pointless things and forget those that are important. If we believe something hard enough, we can create our own memories of events as if they really happened. If the mind can create an event – big or small – what can it hide to protect itself? Could you do something terrible and not remember?
Developed and Published by Quantum Phoenix Studios, The Butterfly Sign will see players take control of Jack, a lone stranger who wakes up in the care of Dr. Romanov with no memory of his past. Romanov explains to Jack that the mental health facility he worked at – Memority – was attacked, that someone had murdered all of the patients and staff and set the building ablaze, and Jack was discovered nearby as the sole living person. Dr. Romanov and his colleagues suspect Jack of being involved, however, with no memory of his past, Jack is unable to defend himself from the accusations. That is until Dr. Romanov explains he and his peers have developed a revolutionary drug for regaining lost memories – called Rammex – and that, should Jack take the drug, he could tell them what happened and Jack would find the answers he seeks to his past.
“The graphics are surreal, perfectly capturing the sense of isolation and haunting beauty that is the private mountainside setting for this research facility.”
While the “amnesia at a mental institute” concept isn’t exactly fresh, the execution here has some subtle differences that make it stand out. Jack narrates his actions as he falls into the recesses of his own mind, speaking to Romanov in the real world and telling him what he experiences, and it’s quite an experience to be had. The graphics are surreal, perfectly capturing the sense of isolation and haunting beauty that is the private mountainside setting for this research facility. The trees, the grass, fog, everything is so finely detailed it’s worth it to stop and enjoy the world – a notion some will lose when they finally enter the facility. Memority is decrepit, run down, broken, and dank. You honestly feel that at any moment SOMETHING is about to lurk from the shadows into the dim light of the broken down institute.
Jack handles it all relatively well, considering his reactions to what he finds while inside Memority. For everything this game has to offer in setting up a terrifying atmosphere that balances on the edge of beauty and terror, it is the voice acting that kills it dead. Granted, Jack is supposed to be under the influence of a powerful and experimental memory recovery drug, but seeing as how he is re-experiencing everything again for the first time, he ought to be just as shocked/horrified/creeped out as anyone else seeing the things he is. I hope as the story progresses we see Jack’s personality strike out as if the longer his ordeal the more unstable he becomes.
That being said, levels are designed well and Memority feels more like a character itself than a place. It isn’t just a level; it feels like a real building, a place that was a home. Puzzles are challenging but satisfying to overcome and are necessary to progress, although I found investigations to be a lot more fun, with Jack entering a room and looking at several pieces of evidence and having to decide what actually happened. With multiple choices for each piece of evidence, too many wrong answers will see Jack succumb to Rammex and die, but thankfully the answer seems pretty straightforward in most cases. As the first chapter comes to a close, the game definitely leaves you wanting more with plenty of questions that need to be answered. It does a good job of leaving you on the hook and eagerly anticipating the next chapter of the story.
The Butterfly Sign – Chapter 1: Necessary Evil is the first step in what should prove to be a beautiful, haunting, and suspenseful experience series. I cannot stress enough how fantastic the atmosphere of this game was crafted. With spectacular graphics and some fun puzzles to solve, this episodic tale is on track to become something phenomenal.
*** PC Key provided by the publisher ***