By Tom "TomBsTone" Bronneberg on August 30, 2019
Inspired by true events and extensive research into religious and cultists societies, Sagebrush lets you experience the aftermath and real story behind the mass suicide of an apocalyptic Millennial cult somewhere in a deserted region near New Mexico.
Now, I will try not to spoil the plot, while giving you an idea of what the game is about, so here goes: You arrive at the compound where the mass suicide took place. The sun is getting low, and you are trying to figure out what really happened here and what drove these people to commit this mass suicide. As you wander through the corn fields and investigate the structures and farms located nearby you discover the missing pieces of this first-person-narrative-puzzle-story-driven-retro-art-style game. Yes that's quite a mouth full.
Sagebrush, created by Redact Games, was first released for the PC and Mac in the fall of 2018, but has now been ported by Ratalaika Games to PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. The PS4 version is the one I reviewed. And to be honest in here lies my only complaint about this game. The controls are based on the PC controlling the mouse. But on a console you need to use a controller, so a little more button mapping or at least an Y axis invert would be very much appreciated. I really struggled for the first half hour or so because the game really stimulates you to look around a lot, and being used to an Y axis invert this led to some frustration, but after a while I got used to it and the game play went back to being smooth as it should be. Pro tip!: when you start, lower the camera sensitivity and ramp up the contrast, because you will need a very dark room to see everything that's lying around.
The game graphics are a true pixel-based artwork, and because it looks so different then modern games your either going to love it or hate it. And after clearing the game I must say it added to the complete experience. Because the graphics are so low in detail, you can really focus on the story and mainly the voice narration from the main character Lillian, who you follow around on tape decks you need to find across the compound.
The game is pretty straight forward, you run around, try to find clues and unlock more pieces of the puzzle. Along the way you will find notes from members of the cult to each other and tape decks telling the main story. These tape deck recordings were very interesting and well put together, with a real "old" feel to them. And the voice acting is done very good. This is also what made this short but interesting game worth my time.
Sagebrush is a compelling and interesting but fictional story about a truth that is still actual today. I personally don't have anything with any sort of religion, and am sometimes baffled by the ways it can influence people to a point of it becoming a cult. The end of the story is also very well done and was not what I expected it to be at all.
Very well done!