Sagebrush review for PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

Platform: PS4
Also on: PC, Switch, Xbox One
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Developer: Redact Games
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

If Ratalaika is known for anything, it?s for relatively easy Platinum trophies. Occasionally you?ll get a decent game out of the bargain, but for the most part, the allure is getting the Platinum rather than getting a memorable experience.

You can imagine my surprise, then, to discover that, with Sagebrush, you get not just a memorable experience, but something that?s a legitimate Game of the Year contender, as far as I?m concerned.

Before I go any further, I?ll very quickly add that Sagebrush isn?t for everybody. It?s not just a walking simulator in the vein of Everybody?s Gone to the Rapture or Gone Home, it?s designed to look like a PS1-era game. As such, you?re wandering around a retro-looking 3D world, and everything looks blurry and indistinct by design. Unless you?re really invested in the story, it?s probably going to piss you off.

Thankfully, the story here is incredible. The game starts with you standing outside the locked gate of a ranch, and you have to figure out a way to break in. Once inside, you explore the compound of a suicide cult, and you piece together both how they lived, and what happened in their final days.

It makes for one of the most chilling games I?ve ever experienced. As you uncover journals and tape recordings, you create a portrait of a monster. You see how Father James keeps his community of believers under his thumb, and you see the terrifying lengths he goes to in demanding obedience. Some of it is truly stomach-churning, and even if Sagebrush doesn?t — and, considering the PS1 graphics, probably can?t — ever show anything too bad, I?ll just say that there are a few parts that make the game earn its M rating.

It also bears mentioning that even though Sagebrush?s Platinum trophy is as easy you?d expect, unlike some of their more recent games in which that final trophy popped well before the game was anywhere close to being finished, here the Platinum is only earned once the game is truly finished. Obviously, that has nothing to do with Sagebrush?s quality, but given how the Platinum has been mishandled in other Ratalaika games and disincentivized you playing the game to its completion, it?s nice to see them fix that mistake here.

Really, though, that?s just a very tiny part of why Sagebrush is such a phenomenal game. It may not look like much, but it bets big on its ability to draw you in to a horrifying story — and, by the end of its short running time, it?s succeeded at doing that beyond any shadow of a doubt.

Ratalaika Games provided us with a Sagebrush PS4 code for review purposes.

Grade: A+