I like 4PM. Or at least, I like the idea of it. A scaled back version of what you may expect from someone like David Cage, the focus is on its narrative, interaction coming in the form of clicking your way around the environment in a little under 30 minutes.
Rather than get into the debate about game length - that's for you to decide - it's the short story told here which is the biggest issue. While the underlying themes are certainly mature and, on occasion, told with a deft stroke of subtlety, the ultimate twist is more school drama play than mind-blowing reveal.
It's a shame as this approach to gaming shouldn't be the sole territory of the aforementioned French developer. 4PM does it well, too, leaving titbits for you to discover - even if these are signposted - and letting its narrative unwind at an unsettling pace. The spotlight is on the characters and world they inhabit rather than what we'd usually associate with gaming.
Why there was a need to include mini 'missions' with fail states, then, I'll never know. Being asked to get to a bathroom before you throw up is one thing, but actively being taken back to the start of that scenario if you don't succeed is unnecessary. Admittedly 4PM has been made on a low budget (and for that reason alone what's here is commendable), but concepts such as this should have the courage to ignore gaming tropes like these and let the story playout regardless.
With that said, 4PM is still a very interesting experiment, albeit it one without much depth. Its power lies within the tale on offer, and if you have been through a similar experience it may hit a little harder. But that doesn't stop events from feeling a little light-weight and, ultimately, rushed.
The brain behind (Bojan Brbora) 4PM deserves a lot of credit for what he has attempted to achieve, but when all is said and done, this feels more like a proof of concept than a fully realised game.
Completed in 25 minutes.
5 / 10
- Ambitious and intriguing.
- Feels the need to be 'gamey'.
- Finishes before it gets going.
- Story feels disjointed.