Published on November 19th, 2019 | by Chris O'Connor
Groundhog Day: Like Father Like Son PC Game Review (HTC Vive)
Summary: Without the charm of Bill Murray, this "sequel" just comes across as mean.
Much like many people, I love Groundhog Day. So when I heard about Groundhog Day: Like Father Like Son, I was intrigued and arguably a bit concerned. My concern was that this was a sequel to something that didn’t need a sequel (but when does that ever stop a production?). But I was curious enough to give it a try.
The basic premise is that you are Phil Connors Jnr a v/blogger on assignment back in the town his father is idolised in, to cover the famous Groundhog day. But much like your father all those years before, you find yourself in a time loop trying to get things “right” before you can progress in life. In theory this makes for a good excuse to have a game that is essentially pretty small. You have a handful of tasks that require working out. To complete them requires potentially multiple attempts but each attempt is separated by a reset of the day (or the scene).
The execution of the game is where things fail (for me). To start with the character is a jerk, obviously that’s how Phil Connors started in the movie and is key to the whole premise, he has to improve himself and his attitude to progress in life. As a game character that you are tasked with playing, it’s not exactly endearing to be jammed into the shoes of someone you wouldn’t want to spend time with. Not only that but you don’t have any options outside of ones that show just how much of a jerk you are, sure that follows the theme of the movie, but it’s a different experience when you “are” that character. The breaking of the fourth wall seemingly only to do an “appendage length” gag seemed forced and incongruous with the rest of the game too.
In terms of actual mechanics, the teleportation was frustrating to say the least. I understand only being set in a smallish area for given stages of the game. That’s fine, what’s annoying is having a very tight spot with which you can teleport to in that space. So in the first room with the family there are a handful of locations that you can jump to in order to interact with the family and hopefully progress. But you can’t move outside of those spots. To a large extent that won’t be an issue for people, but I recently built myself a new desk and so my play space has slightly changed, not a big issue and would be fine if I could teleport just a touch closer to items that I need to interact with. But Groundhog Day: Like Father Like Son forces you to stand a certain distance from the objects you need to interact with and as such I found myself very cautiously stretching out a number of times when I could quite easily have interacted with objects if I could have just teleported a touch closer. You could argue that is partly on me, you’d be right, but I’ve known of other developers who have taken that sort of issue on board and actually adapted the game play to allow for a greater variety of gaming spaces and they were all the better for it.
Each “area” that you have to solve also feels quite rushed, actually let me correct that, either rushed or drawn out far too long. You have to listen to more or less the same dialogue time and time again just to get to the part that you can actually interact with. Then when you get to the puzzle you feel far too rushed. Now I know this is something that “improves” as you progress because you learn how to do things so you can do them faster and then ultimately once you’ve shown you can do them you can skip them altogether the next time round… but it did not make for a fun playing experience for me.
The bottom line is this is kind of a variation of Job Simulator with an attempted franchise skin. Stick to Job Simulator would be my recommendation.