35MM is mainly a First Person Puzzle game with a few action scenes. We play as a Russian man trying to make his way back to his family and is accompanied by his friend throughout. Our journey starts with the both of them ransacking a house in hopes of finding supplies since the world has been devastated by an epidemic and they must do what they can to survive. The supplies you can collect in this game are first aid, food and batteries for your flashlight. One of the first thing you may notice is how atmospheric this game looks. From the fog to the placement of objects, 35MM does a stellar job in creating a believable and often times forbidding world.
And since you are in Russia it does make sense that the dialogue is only in Russian with English subtitles. Unfortunately the subtitles are very poor quality with many typos and sentences that don’t make much sense yet it is never bad enough to flat-out not understand what they mean. Be sure to be paying very close attention when you play however, once your partner or somebody tells you what to do, they will never repeat themselves and you have no other way to check what your objective is. After walking around through the forest alongside your friend until nightfall you are finally given your first task.
Your first goal is finding a bucket in a rather large village at the dead of night because your lazy partner is thirsty. Sounds simple enough but believe me it is a daunting task that embarrassingly enough took me about 40 minutes to find a bucket needed to fetch water from a well. Objects do not let off a faint glow showing that you can interact with it unless you are really close and looking directly at it. It kind of reminded me off trying to find a needle in a haystack and I quickly found myself getting annoyed looking for a single bucket (that apparently the entire village shares). The real kicker is that I’ve picked up a full water bottle not too long ago but was risking life and limb wandering around an unknown village at the dead of night looking for water while our comrade was cozily resting next to the fireplace.
That is your first indication that the supplies you are gathering are mostly useless. From start to finish I’ve never used any of my food supplies and only once in a scripted scene did the first aid packs come in use. Batteries are unnecessary as well since your flashlight never runs dry and casts a decent amount of light which I’m not going to knock since I’m glad we finally have a flashlight that actually functions, unlike many other games where it drains in 10 seconds and forces you to rush through the game. It’s just something that I have to mention because all of our supplies are very much useless making this solely a puzzle game, not some kind of atmospheric survival type of game you may think it to be. Your main two items will be a knife and an axe.
The knife is used to cut through rope that is sometimes used to hold doors shut and the axe is used to break down certain doors or objects. They can be used to attack your enemies you face during the late game but that will be a last resort since you will have guns to defend yourself. It’s a lot cooler than it sounds. Controls are stiff and enemies are very bullet spongy sadly enough. Would have been much better if you could just believe the controls are stiff because your character doesn’t know how to use a gun but the amount of damage enemies can take ruins that right off the bat as you shoot someone right in the head yet they keep coming. That is such a shame for a game that is realistic in most other ways only to have some shoehorned in shooting sections that are very conservative with ammo yet every foe you face has the durability of the Terminator.
The number of times you will need to fight for your life can be counted on one hand so it is more of an annoyance than anything. During the first time you see any action you are thrown into a QTE that seems to rarely respond to your inputs making it far more difficult than it should be. Strangely enough that is the first and only time a QTE is in the game. Many of the 35MM’s features end up feeling like gimmicks such as the aforementioned axe and knife as they are rarely used as well. You having a partner doesn’t do anything gameplay wise either as he is just there to talk from time to time while watching you do everything.
35MM’s main focus is on finding stuff or solving puzzles in. None of the puzzles are too hard though they are entertaining and some are optional such as completing a kid’s jigsaw puzzle. Where I feel the game shines is in its characters. This may be disagreed upon by many people but I find them to be interesting as both our protagonist and his friend rarely talk which makes the world feel all the more lonely. There are no heroes or cartoonish evil people, just regular people trying to cope with their situation in their own ways, usually by looking out for themselves by whatever means in this lawless world. Your character is the only one in the game with good morals which usually lands him in a lot of avoidable trouble or just ends up making the situation worse. You also have a camera that you can go through the whole game without using but I found it very soothing to go around snapping pictures of this hopelessly grim world.
Story is serviceable and told with much room for interpretation so your mind can fill in the blanks and it does feature multiple endings depending on your actions. Which actions those are I truly do not know. There is no manual saving but the game does save often as you go from area to area. When you take damage the effects are pretty subtle and has your character’s head slightly swaying & vision blurred. Taking some food or a health pack will restore you if you ever get injured. I do not consider this a walking simulator like the Steam tags suggest as you will nearly always be using your brain to figure something out or simply looking for an object, not mindlessly walking around. All in all 35MM has many gameplay flaws but the world it’s set in really helps to carry the experience. It may not be enough for many people and is definitely not a game you should rush out to buy, but it is by no means a terrible game to be avoided either.