The Great Perhaps thrusts you straight into a nightmarish situation; working on a space rig orbiting the earth you find yourself knocked unconscious for 100 long years and awake to discover that a deadly storm has ravaged the earth seemingly eradicating mankind itself. Everyone you once knew including your wife and daughter has now surely perished and it's this harrowing thought that makes you contemplate taking your life by cutting the ship's oxygen supply. Persuaded by L9, your ship's computer, you resist this temptation and instead descend to the planet's surface to seek closure for what occurred during your century-long slumber.
This familiar tale of time travel and post-apocalyptic isolation could have been entrenched deep with emotion as the protagonist struggled to adjust to a vacant world stripped from everything that he once knew around him. Instead, we are offered little insight into his thoughts and feelings and each line of the script is delivered in such a wooden and monotone manner that it made us feel almost like he and his accompanying cast of characters were disinterested. It's also inhuman how he fails to react to the decomposing skeletons, delipidated neighbourhoods, and mutated space creatures that now plague the streets.
A short way into your journey you'll unearth a dusty lantern that can mysteriously shift time itself between the present day and some unknown period before the great storm. Many of The Great Perhaps' puzzles are hinged on this mechanic and we loved using the lantern as a window to gaze into the past and see how things once were before they fell into ruin. The music shifts tone to complement each era and the hand-drawn artwork looks great with the environment often painting a picture and offering subtle clues to events that occurred leading up to the present state of the world.
The Great Perhaps operates almost like a cross between Limbo and Grim Fandango as it's a side-scrolling 2D platformer where you'll have to solve puzzles by interacting with items that you'll find scattered across the environment. The lantern plays a big role in this too but you'll only have a fleeting look into the past before your post-apocalyptic reality hits you like a freight train. Using this mechanic you'll often have to transition between eras to locate the right object for a given situation or to avoid hazards such as crazed syringe-wielding doctors or mutated monsters who will eye you up as their next meal.
Frustratingly though it appears you don't have any room within that astronaut suit of yours as you can only carry one item at one time. This often left us backtracking and discarding items during moments of trial and error where we didn't necessarily know what would work. Shifting between time periods also required us to hold down the Q key and this oddly didn't feel too responsive when we had to rapidly transition and avoid an oncoming train, for example (we are unsure how this fares with a controller but we imagine that a large percentage of PC players like us will be playing with a mouse and keyboard). We felt like tearing our hair out as L9 continued to repeat "Oh no, you died" at us and often making it past an obstacle like this just felt like it was a result of pure luck.
Technical woes are also plentiful within this post-apocalyptic wasteland. During one sequence a slender man-looking creature freakishly stalked us into the attic of our former family home and we died, but upon returning to the nearest checkpoint we found that our pursuer had completely disappeared. Perhaps he had given up and gone home? We're not too sure, but these issues did occur in other areas and we found the checkpointing system inconsistent. Elsewhere, at the zoo, we encountered a glitch where a bear just awkwardly shuffled us along when lunging into us instead of mauling us to pieces. These technical issues could perhaps be removed via a future patch but it's concerning just how frequently they cropped up in an experience lasting a mere two or three hours.
Marred by some wooden voice work, shoddy puzzle mechanics, and an abundance of bugs, The Great Perhaps makes a tough recommendation even for hardcore puzzle-platformer fans. We struggled to feel connected with the protagonist and his journey and design choices, such as the lack of an inventory system, just felt illogical and frustrating. We did, however, enjoy being able to see the world across two timelines and there was some great environmental storytelling present throughout, but this alone doesn't warrant the price of admission.