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Project Pastorate Review

Official Score

Overall - 50%

50%

Project Pastorate’s world is one full of character, but the execution of its story could have used some fine-tuning. Those looking for something different can certainly find it here, but don’t be surprised if you end up checking the Velvet Book for notes on more than one occasion.

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PsyRob tells a tale of crime, castes, and corruption in their new visual novel Project Pastorate. Covering some very heavy themes, does it succeed in building a new world?

Project Pastorate Review

From the very first moments, players are thrown into a heavy tale. A murdered Prefect has been found in the Phlox Slums, and it’s up to Vinnie Boyd and Leonard to figure out what is going on. These two serve the Pastor as Devoters, who set out to expose and trap perpetrators in order to bring them to the honest court. They certainly wield a lot of power, and their status is a stark contrast when compared to the poor masses that work the mines of the League.

Its dystopian setting certainly won’t bring a smile to your face, but its grittiness can be appreciated. During this initial episode, players will come across addicts of the drug Psylos, corrupt figures in the bureaucracy, gang leaders, and other characters. It’s a lot to keep track of, and though a “Velvet Book” can be pulled up at any given time that serves as a glossary, players are expected to know a lot of jargon from the get-go. Though it attempts to build its world, it does so without setting the stage first – good luck figuring out what the “Sixth Amendment” is without stopping the action to look it up first.

Project Pastorate - Gamers Heroes

This disconnect extends to its “combat” as well. At certain moments during the game, players will engage in battle against enemy forces. Rather than use fisticuffs, however, a card system is in place. Enemies will choose an action like “Barricade” or “Throwing Knife,” and players must play one of five cards to counter that move. This requires a lot of trial and error, and though players are given some leeway, it is a guessing game that proves to be more frustrating than fun. When facing multiple opponents, this drags on that much more. Players can skip these moments if they want, but more guidance or some retooling could have gone a long way.

Much like Hideo Kojima’s Policenauts, players will click areas, read text, and then choose certain options to investigate further or make a final decision. These choices add some flavor to the game, but the script can change its tone quite a bit. For what is supposed to be a serious game, Vinnie Boyd will often drop curse words, talk about the overweight “Giggling Maggie,” or talk about how a trial is “shorter than a chick’s dick.” It comes across as crude, and though it might be done to establish the character, it comes off in poor taste.

Project Pastorate’s world is one full of character, but the execution of its story could have used some fine-tuning. Those looking for something different can certainly find it here, but don’t be surprised if you end up checking the Velvet Book for notes on more than one occasion.

This review of Project Pastorate was done on the PC. A digital code was provided by the publisher.
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Casey Scheld

Casey Scheld has more than 15 years of experience in the gaming industry as a community manager, social media director, event specialist, and (of course) gaming editor. He has previously worked with gaming start-ups like Raptr, publishers like Konami, and roller derby girls at PAX West (check out Jam City Rollergirls)! Gamers Heroes is a passion project for him, giving him a chance to tap into the underground side of gaming. He is all too eager to give these lesser-known heroes of the indie space the attention they so rightly deserve, seeking out the next gem and sharing it with the world. Previously making appearances at events like CES, GDC, and (the late) E3, he is all too happy to seek out the next big thing. For those that want to talk shop, send over a tip, or get an easy win in a fighting game of their choosing, be sure to check out his social media channels below.

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