Roman Sands Re:Build is about as surreal as it gets | Hands-on preview

by on May 24, 2024

Don’t you just love it when a game comes along that makes you feel uncomfortable but at the same time intrigued? There’s something strangely menacing and alluring about Roman Sands Re:Build, and despite finding the opening introduction bizarre and unclear, I soon started to become fascinated by the strange circumstances of my time at the hotel and the inhabitants that seem to be slowly losing touch with reality. Hell, I was losing touch with reality as I started to uncover some of the weird secrets this island resort is hiding.

I honestly don’t know where to start trying to explain Roman Sands Re:Build. What I will say is that if you love the Danganronpa series, you’re going to get a kick out of this. You arrive on an island and head through some gates to stumble upon a holiday destination, pastel-coloured and eerily bland, with various holiday-goers meandering around the grounds. It begins in the first-person and you get to have a bit of a look around, but it’s when you start talking to the strange people when it begins to get interesting.

Conversations play out in visual novel-style cutscenes, where you can respond how you like, but each of the characters have particular quirks that are unsettling whenever they open their mouths. For some reason, they think you work there, and begin barking orders at you. Fix the air conditioning! Get me a margarita! Sort out my luggage! Fix the elevator! None of them are particularly nice about it, but by finding or fixing what you need in the allotted time, you’ll get points and start to build a score multiplier.

As I started to complete the tasks, I got to see more of the hotel, and the horrors that existed within it. It appears like a rather cute game at first, but Roman Sands Re:Build slowly gets more fucked up as you play. Every time you enter a new area, time advances, and if you haven’t found a way to break the loop, you wake up back on the beach ready to start the day again, get Betty her damn alcohol again, and try to figure out what you need to do to stop dealing with these utter morons. It became addictive, and I was fascinated by the inventiveness of its repetition, and always got excited when I found or saw something new.

Roman Sands Re:Build gets even weirder. Like, really weird. This isn’t going to be for everyone. It’s experimental in nature, but many aren’t going to appreciate the loop or repetition; the art style isn’t as crisp or as varied as other games, and the passive aggressive dialogue will probably put the average gamer off. Those who like those weird, niche titles like me, will probably like this a lot. It creates a sense of unease whilst still serving as an addictive loop that forces you to find a way to get out of Groundhog Day and work out what the hell is going on.