Sagebrush from Nataniel Berens and Ratalaika Games is a first-person game in which you explore a cult compound, is now out on PS4. Learn more about it in our Sagebrush review!
In Sagebrush from Nataneil Berens, you set out on a first-person narrative experience to investigate what happened in the mass suicide of the Perfect Heaven cult. You will visit the Black Sage Ranch in New Mexico, where Father James, the prophet of the Perfect Heaven cult, used to live. The game’s 3D world is presented in a lo-fi setting, with a pixelated look that will remind you of games from many moons ago. The would have needed to also add some significant pop-in (or fog!) to completely simulate the look of the era, but it does a nice job at making players feel a bit nostalgic as they take on Sagebrush.
Controls are simple to understand. With this being a first-person exploration game, you’ll move your character with the left analog stick and look around with the right stick – run by pressing and holding down the L2 or R2 buttons. You can interact with things, such as the trunk of the car that is next to you when you start, to search for items that can help you in this adventure. For example, a pair of wire cutters is in the trunk, which you will use by examining a nearby fence and cutting a hole that will allow you to enter the ranch. Your inventory can be opened with the Triangle button. You’ll gain access to a map, which you can open up with the Square button. There is also a flashlight you can use once you get some batteries, which you can use to light your path in dark areas.
In this game, you will get some insight into what was going on within the cult by way of audio recordings in cassettes that are conveniently already slotted into a tape deck so that you only have to press the X button to interact with it to replay it. Once you do this, the whole screen will change into black and white, and the audio recording will play with full voice acting. You’ll use these tapes to get an idea of why some people were motivated to join the cult in the first place, filling in some of the blanks.
You will also be able to find notes, diaries, journals, scriptures left behind by the people that lived at the ranch, and you’ll learn more about how the community interacted, and how Father James was basically brainwashing everyone so that they could do what he wanted them to do… women in particular. He was a sick man, preying on the weak, on those that needed help to find their way, corrupting them instead to act as he pleased, all in the name of their fanatic religion understanding and their beliefs.
This one, as expected, has a full trophy list with a Platinum trophy. The game has eleven Gold trophies and one Silver trophy to unlock to make that Platinum for your collection. Many of the trophies are unlocked as you progress through the game’s story, but there are some missable trophies in the game as there is a point of no return, but as long as you explore all areas and interact with all items, you should be good to go. One of the trophies will ask that you find all of the tapes, two are related to specific collectibles, and one is… baseball-related.
Sagebrush is a first-person exploration game – what some could call a walking sim – that deals with a very interesting and serious topic, which leads players down a dark path to come crashing down into the reality of things. Exploring the cult’s home in Black Sage Ranch will grab your attention from start to finish as you uncover more and more information, with a couple of interesting twists thrown in towards the end. It will take you around two hours or so to explore all of the locations in the ranch in this $5.99 indie release with a lo-fi retrotastic look.
This Sagebrush review is based on a PlayStation 4 copy provided by Ratalaika Games.