Chasing the Unseen review for PC

Platform: PC
Publisher: Strange Shift Studio
Developer: Strange Shift Studio
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: Not Rated

Chasing the Unseen has a bit of an identity crisis. It blends together a bunch of different ideas that don’t quite work and that don’t quite seem to mix…but at the same time, it comes so close that you can’t help but be both fascinated and frustrated by the end result.

On the one hand, it’s a dreamlike game where you’re roaming around a massive wilderness made up of impossible land masses. Without much of a story or a goal beyond finding the end of the level, it’s almost as if the game just wants you to explore this trippy, gorgeous landscape to your heart’s content. It’s tempting to think of Chasing the Unseen as a really artsy, dreamlike walking simulator.

Except it’s not that, since it’s also incredibly difficult. Chasing the Unseen’s worlds are made up of floating islands with weird, twisting shapes that aren’t exactly easy to run across or climb up. One wrong move will send you plummeting to your doom. While there’s a somewhat generous respawn and save system, that doesn’t make a huge difference when you find yourself stuck on a small bit of floating land with no obvious path forward – because, by the way, there’s no map and a very vague hint system. The punishing difficulty feels very much at odds with the generally laidback atmosphere.

To top it all off, the world has some absolutely massive creatures that are completely indifferent to your existence. You can climb them and ride them, Shadow of the Colossus-style, but there’s no combat or anything. They’re just there, adding to the feeling that you’ve stumbled into the middle of a dream that exists just because it can, not because it has a point or a plot.

Also, there are capybaras randomly scurrying around the levels. They’re there simply for you to catch and gather. Officially, they help you feel more calm, but really, they’re adorable little collectibles.

Like I said up top, with all this going on, the end result feels a little too unfocussed to be called a must-play game. But at the same time, you can absolutely see what the developer of Chasing the Unseen was going for, and the gap between where the game wants to be and what it is right now isn’t that huge. It makes for an interesting experience that probably won’t appeal to everyone – but it’s such an intriguing mixture that it feels like it deserves to be recognized, and it’s very easy to imagine someone absolutely loving Chasing the Unseen.

Strange Shift Studio provided us with a Chasing the Unseen PC code for review purposes.

Grade: 7