The dubbed “Walking Simulator” or “Walking Sim” as a term; is a made-up genre that I believe does a big disservice to the game that has been labelled with that “genre”.  At its most basic form of assumption, to be a “Walking Sim” might indicate that the game in question is a simulation similar to that of train, truck or flight sims, or even management sims.  So to label a game as a “Walking Sim” might imply that this game is purely a simulation that involves walking, replicated in the most realistic way possible, which as I’ve just said, does the game in question a big disservice.

Games like Dear Esther, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, and two of my clear favourites, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture and Firewatch, deserve better than being labelled a Walking Sim.  Sure these games do have a lot of walking involved, but they are also incredibly narratively driven as you slowly piece together the story, to its dramatic conclusion with an experience that might stay with you for years to come.  The term “Narrative Adventure” is far more fitting in my humble opinion, which brings me on to The Suicide of Rachel Foster.

So what is The Suicide of Rachel Foster?  Well as the title of the game so obviously suggests, the story centres on the suicide of one Rachel Foster.  The Year is 1993, and you play as Nicole, a woman that after ten years of avoiding her past, following the death of her parents, she is tasked to returning home to the family run business at the Timberline Hotel, located in snowy Lewis & Clark County, Montana, a small town were gossip runs rampart within its close-knit community.

Nicole does not want to return home, due to the fear of suppressed memories coming to the surface, which would force her to confront her troubled past and controversial family history.  Nicole is required by law to meet an attorney at the hotel in order to inspect the vacant building to enforce a sale, which was the last wish of her mother.  However, following an aggressive snow storm, the attorney that Nicole was set to meet, could not make it to the hotel in the heart in the Montana mountains, so she must carry out the inspection alone, until at least when the attorney arrives.

Thankfully for Nicole, she is not entirely alone, because on the other end of the phone, she has the help of Irving, a young and enthusiastic FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) agent, who is more than willing to give Nicole all the help that she needs to complete the inspection of her family hotel.  However, in order to fulfil her mother’s dying wish of selling the Timberline Hotel, Nicole must not only confront her past ghosts, but she will consequently uncover the dark story of a girl by the name of Rachel Foster, who lost her life at the same young age as Nicole, when she left the hotel 10 years ago and the involvement of her father tied to the death of the young girl.  What will Nicole uncover; will she make it out of the Timberline Hotel alive and at what cost?

In terms of gameplay, there’s not a great deal to report, as with most narrative driven adventures.  The Suicide of Rachel Foster is a slow burn story, that does take a little while to get going, but once the plot begins to unfold, you will find it incredibly difficult to put down the controller, during the 3+ hours it might take to finish its story.  With the aid of Irvine on  the other end of the line, Nicole will spend her days in the hotel inspecting the various sections of the winding corridors and as the story unfolds, not only will she piece together her families dark past, but she will also form a close bond with the FEMA agent.

As pieces come together, this mature story can get a little uncomfortable, as it touches upon suicide, abuse and grooming, but its intriguing tale of mystery will keep you hooked throughout, which is aided by the amazing voice-cast.  The way, in which the story of The Suicide of Rachel Foster is portrayed, from a narrative stand point, it kind of reminds me of the brilliant Firewatch, with a hint of Gone Home and The Shining, which isn’t a bad combination at all.  The hotel itself is wonderfully detailed, and is full of secrets not told from its main story, if you’re willing to explore its winding and narrow halls to piece together the mysteries held within its walls.  Oh and by the way, this game rewards you with an easy Platinum Trophy on PS4, for all you hunters out there.

The Suicide of Rachel Foster may have some predictable plot twists and clichés, but it will have at least a few surprises up its sleeve.  By its conclusion, as the plot evolves into something more sinister, and this game will by no means cheer you up, in-fact far from it, it’s quite depressing, but you’ll be thinking about its story, events and conclusion for months to come, and you may even revisit the story again to see things from a slightly different perspective.  In some ways, this is a difficult game to recommend, because of the issues at the centre of its story, but it is likely to leave some lasting impression.  It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but in terms of story, The Suicide of Rachel Foster is one of the most compelling thrillers that I’ve played this year.