The Almost Gone is a point-and-click puzzle game in which you investigate a variety of different locations presented as miniature dioramas. The story plays out as you piece together clues and examine objects, and it’s one that doesn’t shy away from tough subjects, such as alcoholism. It’s an abstract experience with very little in terms of music or dialogue, but we found ourselves compelled to find out more as we progressed through its five chapters.
In The Almost Gone, you’re stuck in a place between life and death, and it’s up to you to piece together what exactly happened that led you to this moment. Starting in a relatively normal household (albeit with tree trunks ripping through the floorboards and plaster), you’ll then move onto various locations both Interior and exterior. Each scene is made up of a handful of miniature dioramas, which you can rotate in order to closely inspect every nook and cranny.
The majority of the puzzles involve using certain objects within the environment and applying them to another location. A great example in the first chapter features a refrigerator locked up with chains, but the lock itself can be opened by shifting tiles around to form a specific image. For a good while, we were a bit stumped as to how we were going to find the answer to this, but it turns out the two halves of the image were displayed in the corner of two letters we’d collected earlier.
For the first couple of chapters, it won’t be quite clear where the story is heading, which might be off-putting for some people. However, there’s an undeniable urge to press on once you start figuring out some of the more tricky puzzles. As you begin to unravel more of the game’s secrets, the overall narrative begins to fall into place, and by the end of it, we were quite pleased with how it all turned out.
In terms of its overall presentation, The Almost Gone understands that ‘less is more’. The dioramas have been carefully crafted to communicate areas of importance, whilst leaving out any unnecessary clutter. It can admittedly be a little difficult to pick out certain objects on the Switch’s screen, so we reckon playing in docked mode is the best way to experience this game. Music is largely non-existent, with the game focusing instead on ambient sounds that, again, highlight the more important aspects of the narrative.
If you’re looking for a puzzle game with a carefully considered supporting narrative, you need look no further. The Almost Gone is a game that demands your attention but never feels overly difficult or complex. Our only major issue is that once you’re done and dusted, there’s very little incentive to go back and start again.