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Sorry, James Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . From the unorthodox beginning to the way the story is presented, there's a lot I liked and admired about Sorry, James. At the same time, this is a game that clearly won't be for everybody. This is a game where you solve challenging puzzles and read a one-sided conversation from a twentysomething woman named Elisa. If you're still on board after that description, then be prepared for a mind-bending story about life, sex and technology. Rating: 71%
Sorry, James
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  • Review Score:

  • B
Hollywood would like us to believe that hackers lead exciting lives and have model good looks. But in the real world, I have a hunch working as a hacker is a lot closer to the game Sorry, James than anything you see on the big screen. It turns the tedium of decrypting files into a brief but compelling adventure that is equal parts puzzle game and visual novel. And while the prospect of reading about a young woman and her long distance relationship may not sound like a great time, I assure you that it's a lot more exciting than it lets on.

You play a person tasked with decrypting a bunch of computer files that all seem to be related to a woman named Elisa. We're told not to peek in on private data, but Elisa's hunt for a man named Tom who may or may not have stolen her underwear at a party is impossible to ignore. The idea is to work through a series of increasingly complicated puzzles and then read the next part of the juicy conversations.


What makes this game so hard to put down is that we only get a small chunk of the story in each file, and most of the time it's completely out of order. To make matters worse, we're only seeing Elisa's part of the conversation, something the game uses to its advantage in more than one time. This is one of those games that starts out a lurid romance novel, but quickly turns into something much more complicated.

Sorry, James is the very definition of a slow burn. Even though it's doled out in small bites, we eventually get to know a lot about Elisa and the person she's talking to. We learn about her past relationships, sex fantasies, family and thoughts on pets. And in exchange, we slowly figure out who this other guy is through her reactions. It's one of those stories where I had no idea where it was going to end up, yet it seems so obvious in the end.

The puzzles themselves aren't nearly as intriguing, but they are fun and constantly evolving. It feels like a mix between Sudoku and Minesweeper, where you spend the whole time filling in squares with either solid white or a clear marker. The goal is to link enough things together to make certain squares add up to the right number. They play with this formula by creating broken grids you have to fix and adding multiplication. These puzzles only get larger and more complex as you work through the five chapters, yet I never got to the point where I needed to give up.

Sorry, James (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

I'm a big fan of the way this game looks and sounds. Sorry, James is presented as if you're using an old, monochromatic monitor, complete with a slight strobe and some weird ghosting issues. There's a heavy buzz in the background, reminding you that the monitor is on and not energy efficient. I like the way you go from breaking into files to chatting it up with a co-worker and boss. Sorry, James could have gone a little deeper with some of that stuff, but the way they use the technology is incredibly effective.

What I love is that this game isn't afraid to break the rules. Hell, it starts out on a blank log-in screen with no other information. You literally have to exit the game and search the Steam page for the proper credentials, which is all you need to know about what this game thinks of handholding. And it's not just that beginning, but how the rest of the game unfolds. There's something a little off about every aspect of Sorry, James.

From the unorthodox beginning to the way the story is presented, there's a lot I liked and admired about Sorry, James. At the same time, this is a game that clearly won't be for everybody. This is a game where you solve challenging puzzles and read a one-sided conversation from a twentysomething woman named Elisa. If you're still on board after that description, then be prepared for a mind-bending story about life, sex and technology.
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