Video games that aim to mimic movies or television are hit or miss. Many games today help to offer up narrative experiences on par or even surpassing many hit shows and movies. The Wreck is one of the few that brings this level of quality to console as well as mobile devices, and the result is something quite unique.
However, uniqueness is not always enough to compensate for quality.
The Wreck is a 3D visual novel that tells its story in a very similar format to a screenplay. It even follows failed screenwriter Junon as the main character, as she attempts to make it through a pivotal day in her life. She must relive the past through her memories, try to alter the present, and embrace the future, or her life might end in a wreck. The game primarily does this through visual novel structure, which incorporates light point-and-click elements to interact with the world.
It sees Junon worrying over her mother, a famous artist who has been recently hospitalized and whose life support is at risk of being shut off. However, Junon is the only person who can make that call, and the main conflict of the game involves Junon reliving the memories of her past to inform her decision in the present.
As the title implies, the frequently viewed memory is a car wreck. It shows Junon driving down a road, swerving to avoid a deer, and crashing into a tree. The gameplay of this and other memories boils down to clicking specific objects in specific order to piece the information of the event together.
The Same Wreck
It is neat in concept. In execution, however, it makes the game feel rather repetitive and linear. As mentioned, there is a specific order you need to click the objects. If you do not, it may be incomplete or unclear when and where it takes place. The game always finds a way to bring you back to the car to relive that wreck and find new memories when Junon experiences something at the hospital. It is as if going there and reliving the wreck over and over helps her find answers to her problems.
This makes sense for the character in the context of the story. But for the player actually playing the game, it can start to get a little ridiculous, especially if you are unsure what other clues you should be looking for. Junon lives in both the past and the present. In the present, she interacts with hospital staff and other characters connected to herself and her mother. Here, her choices can affect the world around her.
Most of the time, however, she is lost in her own thoughts, and we can choose different thoughts to highlight or to influence her reactions. This is actually one of the game’s successes, as it is interesting to get a deeper glimpse into Junon’s mind. It helps to better understand what she is thinking and really makes the player feel like they are in control of her, or experiencing the same things as her. Even if Junon herself is a little bit one-note as a character, this approach does help the player feel like they ARE Junon.
Past, Present and Future
Then of course, the second major part of the game is the past, which mainly includes wreck-based memories. The player will see the whole memory before it rewinds to various points in the day as you click the text. Junon either remembers more of the day or changes her perception of certain things that happened. The details become more and more complex as you piece things together, and I can’t lie, the way in which the game presents them is very creative and visually stunning.
That is about it, however, as the game essentially forces you to put together every single piece of the puzzle, preventing you from moving forward until you have clicked each piece of text. This is kind of bad because while the story becomes more interesting as it unfolds, it is really not that difficult to extrapolate the full story.
So even if you know what happened already, the game will not go forward until you have unturned every stone, even if there is nothing of note under said stone.
Overall, while The Wreck is a visually creative and narratively rich game that offers a unique storytelling experience, it fails to make the player put together the story in a satisfying way. It is interesting to view Junon’s memories and see her reactions to the world. But she is often so one-note that it is difficult to connect with her, and the experience of reviewing the memories of the wreck eventually devolves into more of a chore than a fun puzzle