The Gap asks the age-old question: how far would you go to save the one you love?
In the case of The Gap’s protagonist, Joshua, the answer may be “too far”. Set in the near future, The Gap tells the story of Joshua’s plight to uncover a cure for a hereditary degenerative condition that’s affecting his family. Trained as a neuroscientist, Joshua’s entire adult life has revolved around unlocking secrets of the brain – but the one thing that plagues his family might be the one thing he simply can’t find an answer for. Unless…
Joshua has two theories for a cure, and one involves the metaverse. Oh yes, you can’t escape the ‘M’ word in modern media, can you? Here, one of Joshua’s more outlandish beliefs is that the metaverse is real – and he’s spent some time trying to prove it. If he can figure out how to travel to an alternate reality, perhaps he’ll find the cure he needs.
Of course, such an obsession – coupled with an investigation into experimental nanobot implants – isn’t going to be great for one’s mental state. And as you progress through The Gap’s timeline, you’ll indeed witness a decline in the mental state of Joshua. Is he simply struggling with his health, or is he becoming an unreliable narrator?
That’s all we can really say about The Gap’s story. The nature of the game means narrative is king, and experiencing it as it unfolds is a huge part of the experience. Spoiling it would be a rather terrible thing, so all you need to know is that despite being short – it’ll take you between three and five hours to complete – The Gap will keep you invested from start to finish.
Essentially a series of flashbacks and memories, The Gap spans three decades, starting from Joshua’s student life in 2020, going up to the present day in the 2040s. Interacting with an item in an environment can often trigger a memory, taking you to another point in Joshua’s life. Most of these memories revolve around Joshua’s relationship with his wife and later, the addition of their daughter, Mia. Often, there’s nothing grand: simply scenes of family life within the home environment. But each small memory comes together to create a large, detailed canvas of Joshua’s life.
The way The Gap is presented – allowing players to jump in and out of memories as they uncover them – means that every player’s experience might be slightly different. The order you play through memories might differ from the next person’s, and so there’ll be some variation in the way the story unfolds. You don’t need to see every memory to complete the game, either, but we found ourselves eager to eke out every part of Joshua’s story that we could.
While the story alone here was enough to keep us invested, The Gap also keeps players engaged by throwing a series of puzzles into the mix. You’ll need to muddle your way through a neurology exam, search around for various passwords, and solve other environmental puzzles simply by paying attention to what’s around you. There’s a good selection here, ensuring that The Gap is never simply a passive experience: you always feel in control, and your brain needs to be constantly engaged.
Visually, The Gap looks great for the most part, but playing on PS5 we’ve experienced a few performance hiccups. It’s not always the smoothest game to play, which can be a little distracting at times. Thankfully, its slow pace means that a smooth 60fps framerate isn’t necessary, but the odd graphical anomaly and bout of sluggishness can occasionally break your immersion somewhat. Hopefully, things will be smoothed out with a patch – and there’s nothing here bad enough to stop us recommending you play.
The Gap is a very pleasant surprise, and a great amount of praise needs to be showered onto its developer, the two-person team of Label This. This is a clever and engaging thriller, brought to life with believable characters and a very grounded approach to science fiction that we can really get behind. It isn’t without the odd hiccup, but they’re easy to forget once you’re absorbed into Joshua’s compelling story.