Puppet Combo’s publishing label, Torture Star Video, has been helping several great lo-fi developers bring their games to the world since 2020, including titles like Bloodwash and Night at the Gates of Hell, among many others.
This year, their first major release is Rewind or Die by UK-based Comp-3 Interactive. We had the chance to play through the game to see how well it holds up compared to the rest of Torture Star’s catalog so far.
Rewind or Die starts out with the player taking control of Tony, an employee at a local video rental shop. As he starts his closing duties there, a series of strange occurrences begin and you end up trapped inside the store with a killer on the loose. As you attempt to escape the video store, things quickly escalate. Not knowing where things would go from there, it took many twists and turns that I never expected.
The game takes a fun and tongue-in-cheek approach to certain elements of its narrative but feels robust and surprisingly satisfying at the end of the day. Some of the other interesting features in the game include side characters you encounter along the way, segments where you jump around in time, as well as mixing up the player characters.
The gameplay also changes throughout, with some segments that task the players with doing menial jobs in an ominous setting, and others where you’ll have to sneak around behind the killer’s back, run for your life, solve puzzles, and a couple of other surprises I won’t spoil here. These segments make for a compelling experience from start to finish, with a good amount of effort put into balancing the various gameplay styles as well as the pacing so it moves along without dragging too much or getting stuck on anything too obtuse.
Rewind or Die also avoids some of the pitfalls that some games of this style end up having, such as a lack of checkpoints and too much reliance on a constantly-stalking killer that appears around every corner while you’re trying to complete objectives. This alleviates some of the frustration caused by a relentless stalker and makes for a more enjoyable trek through the game without sacrificing the tension or fear while exploring.
Tension and fear in the game come in different forms, from slow and brooding suspense and grim imagery to jump-scares and the thrill of being chased. These are just some of the methods the game uses to change things up and keep the gameplay from becoming too repetitive.
Rewind or Die takes influence from games like Blood Wash, Night at the Gates of Hell, Stay Out of the House, and several other lo-fi horror games. It incorporates all these influences into its own unique experience and never feels too derivative.
The music is a mix of funny, thematic music that plays in the video store and much more scary and suspenseful cues while exploring. The full-on heavy metal tracks start up when you get into a fight-or-flight situation, and it all works well, adding to the atmosphere and the scenes accordingly.
The controls are generally what you’d expect from a low-poly first-person game, but the Steam Input options for a controller work surprisingly well after just two small tweaks (even though the game doesn’t have native controller support).
One of the only frustrations is during the chapter that’s essentially one extended chase scene. Here, the killer moves a bit too fast and you aren’t given much time to figure out where you’re going. This can lead to all kinds of unnecessary deaths during this segment. Even though the checkpoints you get along the way are helpful, things feel just slightly unbalanced during this chapter. Something like this could be adjusted with a patch if the devs feel it necessary.
There are even a few side missions and objectives that require some extra thought to pull off correctly to get a different ending. They provide some good replay value as well if you need to do another run to reach some of them.
A playthrough of the main story lasts around two hours, depending on how long certain parts take you. This is pretty satisfying for this type of game and feels like a full-fledged game, not just a proof-of-concept. You’ll get a solid experience, especially for the $12 price tag.
Rewind or Die is an ideal pick for fans of lo-fi horror games. It takes influence from most of the standout titles from the sub-genre that came before it and works it all into an impressive package that succeeds on all levels. It’s not reinventing any wheels but is one of the more competent and polished titles in its fairly nuanced style.