Retropolis 2: Never Say Goodbye Review – Noire in VR

Retropolis 2 Review

Retropolis 2: Never Say Goodbye is the follow-up effort to The Secret of Retropolis from indie game developer Peanut Button. It is being released on all VR platforms and the version for this review deals with the PSVR 2 version. The game wears its inspiration on its sleeve as it opens with a Raymond Chandler quote. All facets of the game ooze film noir from the settings, the music, and the characters.

The Retropolis series is a point and click adventure series set in a retro future. You play as a, of course, a private detective but a robot private detective by the name of Philip Log. All the characters are robots. That includes the obligatory femme fatale, Jenny Montage. Jenny has a penchant for trouble and once again, it’s up to Log to save her.

Never Say Goodbye is rooted in the 90s style of adventure point and click games. The game places you in the center of a location where you cannot move. But you can rotate 360 degrees. Unfortunately, the game restricts turning to click turns, which coupled to your fixed position, feels very confining. It’s a bit jarring at first, especially if you come from a game where movement is much more open.

Once you settle into how to play the game, the story and the puzzles win you over. The writing in this game is top-notch. Due to the manipulations of the evil Mr. X, Jenny has effectively lost her memory. Also very strong is the voice acting in the game. The only one that you may quibble with, is the actor that does the voice of Log.

Film Noir Stylings

For noir type games, the music is vitally important. In such films, music functions as another character. Without it, no matter how good the locations are at conveying a dark or mysterious place, the element of tension and mood is not complete. Peanut Button must know this, because the music is spot on. You really get that dangerous, smoky yet sensuous vibe.

On the visual side, the hand-crafted art is great. There are black and white scenes, that mixed with the SF movie – Metropolis inspired city skyline shots, give off both film noir and retro-future vibes. The character designs also play into the genre archetypes for the detective, femme fatale, villain, police, and denizens of the city.

As great as the visuals are, there are some artistic choices made you may or may not agree with. The game has an intentional soft look, undoubtedly done to enhance the intended vintage look. Subjectively, the look may appeal to. However, my reaction is the developers are not taking into account the medium of VR. A soft look for a flat game is fine. However, because of the current state of VR tech, a clear image is hard to attain.

To better serve Retropolis in VR, they should choose an image with a sharp look. An image where the edges are accentuated would allow the three dimensionality and space between everything to really pop. If you’re familiar with what a Viewmaster is, the overlapping of two identical pictures creates sharply delineated layers of depth. Such a look would be ideal for Retropolis. Of course, this is totally subjective but I feel it to be the better approach.

Location, Location, Location

The game breaks into five chapters, each with its own locations. You will find yourself in various locations, like a jail cell, a lighthouse, Log’s office, and a bar. Mostly, the locations are standard fare for a noir mystery. What makes them unique is the mix of 1940s architecture with retro tech objects. Yet things like rotary phones are still prominent, further cementing the mix between new and old.

Once you arrive at a location, the game presents puzzles to you. Log interacts with the objects like Mr. Fantastic with the use of his robo-extendo arms. Objects and interactions vary. You may pick up pieces to use later on. Or you may be flipping levers or selecting an object like a card. Some puzzles are multi-leveled, meaning you need to go to another location to proceed. You may need another object or you may find clues to how to solve a puzzle on another floor.

To accommodate the need to take objects to other locations, you have a robot companion that acts as your inventory system. It also acts as a high level objective log. However, it only tells you what the overall aim is. It does not provide any of the sub-quests.

On the technical side, the game has very limited options. You can only use click-turning. An option for smooth turning would be nice. Also, the audio options are odd. There are no separate volume controls for the music and the voice acting.

Retropolis 2 Fits the Puzzle Game

Besides a few technical deficiencies, understandable for a small developer, Retropolis 2 is a splendid game. The story and characters are engaging. The puzzles are fair. And the whole vibe of the game is engrossing and entertaining.

If you are looking for a fun mystery that won’t take you ages to solve, then Retropolis 2 will fill that bill. Fans of film noir will find much to like here. So will fans of puzzle games. Will Log rescue Jenny? Only if you help him out.


*****PSVR 2 Code provided by publisher*****

The Good

  • Unique, hand-crafted visuals
  • Well-written story
  • Decently tough but fair puzzles

The Bad

  • Soft visual look
  • Only 4 hours long
  • Limited gameplay options