Fixed camera angles, strange monsters out to get you, plenty of creative puzzles… no, I’m not describing the early Resident Evil games, but instead Broken Pieces ­­­– the eerie third-person mystery adventure from the team at Elseware Experience.

Check out some screenshots down below:

Broken Pieces puts players in the role of Elise as she explores the picturesque village of Saint Exil in complete isolation. No, the town hasn’t been abandoned, but rather found itself lost in the flow of time, with Elise having to get to the bottom of the mystery and find a way to return to her true reality. With a sinister cult at work as well as ghostly figures looking to end her life though, there will be plenty of dangers to face along the way.

I’ll be honest, it took me a while to gel with Broken Pieces’ mysterious tale. It’s not that it wasn’t interesting, but rather that the cryptic (and at times fragmented) storytelling took me a short while to understand. It doesn’t help that a lot of it is explored in depth through tapes you find across the village – whilst they do reveal additional details about everything that’s going on, it’s not always in a cohesive manner. Thankfully, it doesn’t take too long for the facts to start clicking in place, with Broken Pieces becoming more engrossing the longer you spend with it. It’s a slow burner, but the payoff feels worth it in the end.

I made a reference to the Resident Evil series at the start of this review, but I wouldn’t say that Broken Pieces feels like a survival horror game. There are plenty of similarities to be found though, with one of the most prominent being the game’s fixed camera angles. In fairness, the game takes a modernised approach to this by offering two different camera angles per scene as well as the ability to view everything from a first-person perspective, but it does still have the classic feel to it that lends to the overall cinematic presence. It’s something I’m actually a big fan of and it works really well throughout Broken Pieces.

“Elise also has the power to change the weather thanks to her aforementioned bracelet, which doesn’t only bring with it some impressive visual effects but is tied to puzzle-solving.”

Still, whilst it’s not necessarily a survival horror, there will be instances where you find yourself fighting monstrous creatures. In these instances, Elise will be confined to a specific area until she kills all the creatures attacking her, meaning there’s no option to run away. Fortunately, she’s well equipped for the job, with two types of ammo available when shooting: a low quality one that’s unlimited, and a high quality one that has to be crafted. This means there’s no stressful ammo management when in combat, with players ALWAYS able to gun down their foes (even if it does take a bit longer when using the lower quality ammo type). Additionally, Elise also has a magical bracelet which can be used to push enemies back if they get a little bit too close, making it easier to keep foes at range when working with a more confined space.

Whilst combat is decent enough, I did find it got a little repetitive the further I got through the game. There wasn’t enough variety in each showdown, with it instead following a formulaic trend of maintaining distance, shooting enemies, and repeating. Whilst it does do a good job of adding a bit more excitement to the slower paced exploration and puzzle-solving elements of the game, it didn’t have enough variety to maintain the buzz across the entirety of the roughly ten-hour adventure.

Thankfully, the other facets of Broken Pieces are a lot more engaging, with Saint Exil proving an alluring place to explore and the puzzles fun to solve. Elise also has the power to change the weather thanks to her aforementioned bracelet, which doesn’t only bring with it some impressive visual effects but is tied to puzzle-solving. Admittedly, the game could be a little cryptic in guiding the player to what they may need to do at any given time and I was left wandering aimlessly on occasions, but I never grew bored of it – especially since I had the tapes to listen to that unveiled so many plot details.

Check out some screenshots down below:

At the same time, the reliance on tapes could make it difficult to follow every detail of the story. Whilst it’s cool to listen to all of these details and learn more about the narrative, there were times where I found myself distracted by something else or having the tape interrupted because of an event occurring in-game. It’s a minor issue in the grand scheme of things, but it might be more of a nuisance for those who don’t have patience to loiter around whilst trying to listen to the whole of each tape.

I quite enjoyed my time with Broken Pieces, whilst the snazzy visuals and attractive landscapes ensured it was a world that felt lovely to be a part of (even with some of the more eerie sights). The time-keeping aspects were neat too, with time passing by with every action you complete and area you explore. The catch? The village becomes more dangerous at nightfall, meaning you’ve got to try and get everything done for the day before the dark kicks in.  

However, whilst it was enjoyable, I did find it lacked that special *something*. It offered a lot of different aspects in its gameplay, but none really stood out enough to make it feel like that’s the direction the game was going for. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it did leave Broken Pieces feeling like a bit of a ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ – especially since it didn’t do anything particularly special. But hey, with an intriguing story to see unfold and some clever puzzles, it’s hard to complain too much.

Broken Pieces Review

Broken Pieces offers an intriguing mystery to solve that’s complemented by some clever puzzle design and a picturesque locale to explore. It does try to add some action to the mix too, though the combat mechanics could grow a little uninteresting and repetitive after a few hours play. Thankfully, every other aspect of the game is enjoyable, and whilst the slower pace and cryptic nature may not be for everyone, the final payoff ensures that your time with Broken Pieces will be well spent.

Developer: Elseware Experience
Publisher: Elseware Experience, Freedom Games
Platform(s): PC (Reviewed), PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One