Beating games is okay, but you can always do better Amitte’s profile
I like a lot of things most people seem to dislike.
I can also get snappy if our opinions clash - in case that happens, please tell me and I’ll try to adapt.
Progress report: October ‘22 (a.k.a. An Unexpected Development!)
Well, what do you know… I got myself a boyfriend! It feels weird to even say, like it’s not “my style” or something… but hey! He likes games and he likes me, so that’s all that matters (I think)! We’ve had a good amount of time to spend on playing together this month, so he features heavily in my reviews. He was a big help in finishing quite a few pesky games, too, so all kinds of positive feedback specifically for him will be more than welcome :)
Without further ado, here are this month’s assassinations:
Among the Dead
Chris Isn't Alone
My Sticker Book
The Dark Side of the Moon
We Went Back
Among the Dead - A terribad VN about living in a world plagued by zombies. I’m genuinely curious as to where the author learned English, ‘cause they’ve got the basics down, but they’re often only close enough to saying what they mean, as opposed to writing like a native speaker would (things like saying “Probably…” instead of “I guess…” or a lack of sense for what the right word order in a sentence should be). Other aspects of the presentation don’t fare any better: the zombies all look like one and the same bald guy (at least they give him two different sets of clothes! lol), and you fight them by… wait for it… repeatedly clicking a button with the word “Kick” written on it. God, I wish I were making it up. There’s an introduction for this “mechanic” near the start of the VN, which tells you that the amount of clicks will depend on how many zombies you’re up against; there’s only one in that scene, and to top it off, he’s distracted, so I thought “five clicks will probably do it, right?” Alas… he took 15 clicks before eating it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that these mobs grow to the point of absurd (there’ll be four zombies at most, and that’s how you know you’re headed for a bad end anyway), but I counted up to 50, even 60 clicks at some point… I think it’s safe to say the dev missed the note about how that’s not entertaining in any way. Last, but not least, the story stops dead in its tracks at what looks like a decent sequel hook, but this game came out in 2018 and there doesn’t seem to be any continuation, so… that’s it, really. I’m glad I finally played it, though, since it’s been at the back of my head for a while now.
Chris Isn’t Alone - Simply put, a joke VN about a boy, taken aback by a monster that suddenly appears in his room at night. It’s a “joke” VN in that there’s a high ending count in relation to the playtime - you make a few choices, some of which get progressively more imaginative, and you either win or lose (or, in this case, “die or live”). Problem is… I’ve gotten all but one ending in the span of about half an hour, and that’s as far as I want to go. It honestly feels like I’ve exhausted all choice combinations and while I can’t tell where it is, that last ending has to be buried somewhere in there. I’m also aware that I’m not supposed to expect literary genius from indie games (and even more so “baby’s first game”, which this is), but come on… you’re creating a visual novel, at least care not to let half the script go unchecked. (I assume the devs are native English speakers, but still, capitalization and punctuation are less than satisfactory.)
Crazy Taxi - Have you ever wanted to try working as a taxi driver? No? Well, what about driving a taxi with no rules to adhere to? That’s where the essence of this Dreamcast classic, Crazy Taxi, truly lies. In this port of the game, you’re free to work for 3, 5 or 10 minutes in either the arcade or the original mode, or test your crrrazy skills using the Crazy Box challenges. Funnily enough, three different people contributed to progress in this game on my account - my ex pushed me to start this delightful mess (then got started on the challenges), I got all the achievements for regular gameplay and my current boyfriend helped with completing the rest of the challenges. Crazy Taxi is a game that’s easy to learn, hard to master, and enjoyable to both play and watch, so if you’re into oldies, racing games or both, I highly recommend it.
Drop Alive - Deceivingly cute, Drop Alive is a platformer that follows the life of a water drop, as it goes on a movie-like journey through a bunch of locations and various states of being. The “deceiving” part is in the fact that this game is unnecessarily hard with its lack of checkpoints, iffy precision jumping and size reduction mechanic (the more you move around, the smaller you are, eventually resulting in death), which while clever, feels like an unnecessary punishment most of the time. Unsurprisingly, I was only able to play through the first two levels, and my boyfriend finished the rest.
Gothicc Breaker - Just a small Arkanoid-type game with goth girls. According to my boyfriend, “the easiest game I’ve given him yet”.
Kach - A short student project with a premise that’s just a little bit off: find your sister, who’s ran off and hid in a strange, abandoned house and make up with her. I’ve had an okay time playing this, though I do feel puzzled by some reviewers bemoaning the lack of jumpscares or monsters to run from.
Lure - I… I just… is this a fear anyone genuinely has? Sure, the a e s t h e t i c is cool, but I know I would get a more complete experience out of watching a playthrough of an actual PS1 horror game… so I recommend everyone else does that, too.
My Sticker Book - You’re a little girl with a sticker book, who’s just moved into a new house; how fun! After presumably having fun with your stickers the whole evening, you go to sleep… and wake up in the middle of the night, because you’re feeling thirsty. Oh, no! Creepy shadow monsters won’t let you go any further! You’ll have to use your magic stickers to progress! I… have spent over twice the estimated time playing this game, just because I can’t deal with games that don’t provide any instructions. That is all.
OutDrive - An, uh, “racing” game where you have to keep a girl alive by driving around at a moderate speed, with no particular destination in mind. If you drive too slowly, she’ll get weak and die; if you drive too fast, she’ll overheat… and die. It’s kind of an interesting concept, if not somewhat off-putting, considering the girl in question being more of an object than a person, but the game is broken as all hell. There’s only one road around the whole map, and it’s not particularly hard to loop around, but for all I know, you could be driving without fooling around and still put yourself in an unwinnable situation. However, it’s just as easy to drive off the road and right near the mountains that are supposed to work as a sort of frame for the map, then clip through them and start falling endlessly. You know it’s bad when that’s the strat recommended by an achievement-focused curator (and coincidentally, how I completed the game as well). In short, the aesthetic’s pretty good - the visuals are decent and the soundtrack is nice, but the game is broken as all hell and the achievements, as uninspired as they are, don’t help at all. Avoid, avoid, avoid.
Space Girls - A shoddy clone of DEEP SPACE WAIFU. Couldn’t get through the last few levels for years until my boyfriend came along.
Submorse - Apparently you can learn Morse code using this game! …I only cared about the achievement.
The Dark Side of the Moon - Having played through The Shapeshifting Detective with my boyfriend a few months ago, I got this game on sale as soon as I noticed it starred Rupert Booth… who, as it later turned out, carried this whole game on his shoulders (and he doesn’t even play the main character!). The story has a simple premise: you play as Dean, a man left to take care of his children alone after his wife mysteriously disappeared a few years back. One night, you drink yourself to sleep, and the next morning… the kids are gone too. Everything quickly unravels into a story that’s way too big for the overall playtime. We had a few small ideas as to what could happen, which we knew were cliche anyway, but we still ended up disappointed when none of them came to be. All I wanna say now is: the title didn’t have to be this literal.
We Went Back - A time-looping horror game; sounds easy enough as a concept. Played it with my boyfriend; neither of us found it particularly entertaining or impactful, so we ended up speeding through the whole thing.
[Bonus] Boyfriend’s game ranking for this month is: Crazy Taxi > Gothicc Breaker > The Dark Side of the Moon > We Went Back > Space Girls > Drop Alive
See you next month! :)
Progress report: September ‘22 (a.k.a. Winding Down Now…)
September’s… gone, huh…! Contrary to expectations, I spent a good chunk of the month still playing stuff through Game Pass (my friend gifted me another month’s worth of a subscription)… meaning that my PS backlog is still full of games I got for my birthday… but alas, there’ll be time for that eventually!
Here’s what I found time for this month:
100 hidden snails
Ben 10: Power Trip
Life is Strange: True Colors
Lost Words: Beyond the Page
Mini Words: Polyglot
Monkey GO Happy
PARADISE CLEANING -Me and my Doctor's life in the hospital-
State of Mind
Taiko no Tatsujin: The Drum Master!
Tell Me Why
Tina & Rook! Cookie Quest!
Watch Me Jump
100 hidden snails - Yep, at this point I’ve got it down bad for these.
Ben 10: Power Trip - Noticed this one was another Outright Games title, so I jumped on it as well. It’s been a good while since I watched Ben 10, so I’m out of the loop, big time. The premise of this game is that Ben, Gwen, Max (and Kevin, if you’re playing in co-op mode) go on holidays to some town with a vaguely German-sounding name… and it just so happens that Hex is there too, oh boy! Now you’re gonna have to explore three different locations in search of the aliens you lost to later face off against enemies, help civilians and collect coins, upgrades, golden monkeys and… sausages? Yeah, that part’s just weird. As a fan of what I would assume to have been the original series, I was disappointed to see so few aliens being utilized; Diamondhead, really?! Grey Matter was right there! To add insult to injury, once again, some of the stuff in this game is straight up broken. The only reason I somehow clocked in a whopping 20 hours (?!) is because just when everything seemed fine with the download version, I realized I need to try and play in the cloud, because some side quest stuff just wasn’t showing up at all (and by that point I had already wasted a bunch of time running around looking for it). I wouldn’t mind replaying it one day, as long as I could be promised that I won’t be forced to waste so much time on accomplishing nothing again.
Life is Strange: True Colors - Binged the hell out of this one, since my Game Pass trial was about to run out… it was, uh… okay? The “superpower” utilized in this one is very hit-or-miss, it’s nowhere near as instantly enticing as the very first game. I was genuinely relieved that I could choose a male love interest this time around, even if in the end it doesn’t matter much in the grand scheme of things. While this isn’t related to the first game or Before the Storm in any way, I was still wary of the pairing Alex up with Steph, lest it end up messy… and fairly surprised that the global stats were 2:1 between Steph and Ryan. Oh well.
Lost Words: Beyond the Page - A light puzzle-platformer that plays out between a girl’s diary and the story she begins creating as practice for becoming a full-fledged writer. Between chapters you gain (and lose, depending on the situations) new verbs, such as “rise” or “break”, that will help you progress further. It’s a story of how fast one’s life can flip upside down, but also how important it is to get up and fight through it. As a cherry on top, everything is narrated/voice-acted with strong emotion.
Mini Words: Polyglot - I admit, I blasted through this one only with French on, as that’s the one language with a complete guide available. The gameplay’s the same as with all the other games in this series, though I do think having it be words in different languages spices it up for players who don’t know them.
Monkey GO Happy - A collection of the first five games in the long-running series, Monkey GO Happy’s concept is simple: interact with the environment by clicking and dragging things to make a monkey (or multiple, depending on the game; though in this collection, you can only play with one at a time) happy. You’re going to be doing all kinds of stuff, from simple and dumb things like making a balloon deflate in the air or winning a monkey plush at the arcade to more surreal things, such as protecting a monkey cloning lab on Mars. Stumbling upon this on Steam hit me with nostalgia, and it restores my faith in humanity to know that the original creator is available on Patreon to this day, still creating new levels.
Paradise Cleaning: Me and my Doctor’s Life in the Hospital - Woof! The first Paradise Cleaning game was released in 2018, so this has been a long time coming! It’s pretty much the same game as the first one (fun fact, I checked my post history and it seems I straight up forgot to write about it); you’re presented with an image covered up by a few kinds of cute critters, which you need to clean up with relevant tools and uncover the image. This may have only lasted 20 minutes, but it uses CGs from the company’s very own VN, set to release on Steam in the coming months. A genius marketing strategy, if you ask me.
Sapling - It’s… kiiind of a walking sim? People really are singing praises for this one, but at its core, it’s not much. Terms like “first spoken-word video game” (as it’s actually described on its store page) work to make this game seem like something out of this world, but in reality, it’s just a short story that could be read as heartwarming and bittersweet, depending on who you are.
Slime Rancher - Since the sequel was just around the corner, this summer seemed like the best time for a replay (I first played through the game on PS4). If you’ve somehow managed to completely miss this one, you play as Beatrix LeBeau, who moved from Earth to the Far, Far Range to take over a ranch. When exploring the Far, Far Range, you’ll encounter a bunch of colorful slimes, each with different quirks, such as Rad Slimes that can (and will) irradiate you, if you stand too close to them for too long or Dervish Slimes that enjoy whirling up a storm and picking up everything that’s been laying loose along with it. In a way, it’s a miracle game, having come from a studio that hasn’t released anything prior to it and ending up as sort of a sleeper hit; for me, as a calm and cozy game, it hit the spot just right and I’m excited to dive into the sequel soon.
State of Mind - This… is supposed to be a story about transhumanism… I think. In 2048, in a futuristic vision of Berlin, you control Richard, a middle-aged journalist looking for his wife and son, who seem to have mysteriously disappeared. He’s also hot-headed, a cheater, ragingly anti-tech and probably the worst protagonist I’ve ever had the displeasure of controlling. His characterization is all over the place: he acts like he’s desperate to find his family, especially his son, even though a certain part of the story reveals he’s confused about whether or not the kid is really his. He sees a memory of a stranger having visited his apartment, doing nothing in particular; automatically assumes he’s his wife’s lover and swears to murder him, even though he actually cheated on his wife in the past. Then there’s another thing, which is very much in line with his character, but still bothered me immensely: his wife bought an android, Simon and left him home. Through the whole game, Simon is nothing but a sweetheart, actively trying to help Richard with his search, but Richard insists on acting like an asshole in return. At one point, he even says that he could destroy Simon with an axe, an action he claims would be “all too human”… excuse me, who wrote this shit? Ah, but there’s also a second part of the story that plays out in an alternate, virtual world… honestly, I played through this game twice and I still don’t fully understand it. There’s a major problem with the storytelling here: you either go two hours learning next to nothing, or fifteen minutes in a dialogue-heavy scene, where some character infodumps on you, and even then it feels like the plot is happening next to you, not at you. Remember when you were little and your parents or some older kids would talk about stuff that you assumed was probably cool, but they wouldn’t say a thing when you asked about it? That’s what playing this game feels like; things are not explicitly named or described well enough, which leads to further confusion. Add to that the weirdly disproportionate amount of puzzling, a run cycle that makes every character look like they just remembered they have legs and the lack of ability to skip through cutscenes (minor detail, but useful for replay purposes) and you’ve got yourself a real mess of a game. At least… the polygon art style stands out, I guess? While not a writer myself, I do imagine cyberpunk to be one of the harder genres to write in, but I still can’t believe it could be fucked up that badly. Truly a blemish on the otherwise good (so far, from my perspective) Daedalic adventure catalog.
Taiko no Tatsujin: The Drum Master! (i can’t figure out how to make the image look good, send help) - Here it is; the one, the only, the legend: Taiko no Tatsujin. It’s the game that got me to jump on my first Game Pass trial, and now I’m proud to say that I’ve finally unlocked all of its achievements. It’s easy to pick up, but tough to master; it’s what I like to call “a perfectionist’s rhythm game”. The franchise’s always three steps ahead; I would have loved to call this release somewhat of a “definitive edition”, since PC is easily the most accessible, but they’re busy with putting out new titles on Switch as we speak. Luckily enough for players of all skill levels, the achievement list for this version is largely geared towards buying cosmetics, but the amount of money you need to accrue is no joke (spoiler alert: there’s also an achievement for just having almost 90k units saved up at once). The one thing that might somewhat relieve the pain of replaying one and the same list of songs over and over again is the online multiplayer function, which is, ah… broken, at times. It’d be hard to count the amount of times I got disconnected from a match (which automatically counts as a loss) due to a supposed loss of internet connection (emphasis on supposed), which meant my opponent was left playing with the ghost of what was supposed to be me. I can imagine it happened to a good deal of other players as well, but then again, with the ranking system utilized in the game, there also seem to be some low-level players who will outright throw matches just to lose their rank; easy money, but also somewhat annoying. This is the second Taiko game that I’ve completed (the first one being V Version for PSVita); I can’t say I’m starved for another one quite yet, but I’m curious to see where will life lead me next in regards to rhythm games.
Tell Me Why - A year’s passed since my first playthrough, so I figured I might as well replay this one! Don’t really have anything else to add to my original review, except… did I really call it a walking simulator? LOL
Tina & Rook! Cookie Quest! - A short point-and-click about a couple of kids who just want to munch on some cookies after playing games together. It’s an adventure reminiscent of things you might have gotten up to as a kid, when the house was empty and every other idea seemed boring (within reason, of course). If you’re a fan of anime or Japanese games, you’ll quickly realize the kids fit right within typical character archetypes - Tina is lively, bouncy and comically morbid, while Rook is more quiet, calm and works to balance out her wit. The pixel art design, with some simple music in the background (which the dev claims to have made despite having no knowledge of music production, which is just sweet) is greatly reminiscent of the point-and-click games I used to play back when I was a kid, which is also a big plus. The only downside is some of the English being rough, but in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t prevent further progression. The dev is supposedly still working on another, bigger game featuring the same characters, so I’m excited to be on the lookout for that.
Watch Me Jump - Adapted from a play of the same name, Watch Me Jump follows Audra Bee Mills, a star women’s basketball player on her way to becoming the highest paid female player in the business. However, on the night before playoffs, the memory of a certain happening resurfaces, threatening Audra’s career. I know next to nothing about basketball, so I couldn’t say how well that worked in the story (though it did seem like the author knew what he was talking about). The LGBT+ aspect of the story… uh, minimal is the word I’d use here. The art screams “beginner”, although it does have a charm to it that I appreciate; additionally, the writing fully makes up for it. While you can hardly control the plot, I still liked it enough to be interested in the original play.
See you next month! :)
Progress report: August ‘22 (a.k.a. It’s Still The Holidays!)
Hello, fellow assassins! Took me a while to get this post out, mainly due to the fact that I keep putting off writing reviews for Game Pass assassinations… for reasons I can’t quite explain. The start of the month was quite turbulent; my sleep schedule was a total mess, and if that wasn’t enough, I got teh coh-veedz. No need to ask how I’m doing though, I’m totally fine! After recovering, I simply got back to the routine of, uh… playing Game Pass games just about every day.
Here’s what I got done this month:
100 hidden mice
my brother lives in a canyon
PAW Patrol The Movie: Adventure City Calls
The Procession to Calvary
The Walking Dead: A New Frontier
The Walking Dead: Michonne
The Walking Dead: Season Two
The Walking Dead: The Final Season
What Remains of Edith Finch
100 hidden mice - Just… another one of these.
Donut County - If you were offered to move to a place called Donut County, surely you’d do it, right? Well, I’ve got some tough news for ya, buddy, you’re now in fact camping underground. Donut County is the story of Mira, a human girl, but more importantly, her raccoon friend, BK. Being the trash panda that he is, BK sold “donuts” to just about everyone in Donut County. Since these “donuts” didn’t taste as great as they were expected to, it’s up to those two to work it out. There’s a simple and highly satisfying gameplay loop here - swallow everything you can while gradually growing. However, judging by the reviews, many people seem to have expected something more like Katamari Damacy, and while I still haven’t had the chance to tackle anything from that franchise, I can see where they’re coming from. Donut County follows a clear-cut story, and with its length, it definitely falls short of the price it’s being sold for. I’m glad to have played that game for free on Xbox, it’d have to be on a deep discount for me to consider buying it somewhere else. I also really wasn’t a fan of the “modern”, memetic approach to dialogue. There’s a fine line between what’s reasonably entertaining and what sounds like the script was originally written in Twitter drafts.
Firewatch - This game looks gorgeous, has great music and solid voice acting. However, the plot takes a nose-dive when one of the main characters starts focusing on a thing that, at first, doesn’t seem all that important. It also suffers from a case of “painfully subverted ending” (or whatever else you might call it), where you’d expect what’s perhaps a “fairy-tale” ending, only to be hit with the exact opposite. In those cases, I’m all about the fairy-tale endings, so this really didn’t do it for me. That being said, if not for the plot, I would say Firewatch ranks high as a walking simulator, just because it gives the player something to do besides walking in a straight line. I’m looking forward to the devs’ next game.
Four Rendezvous - This is a great example of a Russian VN done well; the art is gorgeous, the soundtrack - beautiful, there’s even full voice acting! I just… really wish there had been more to it. It’s a love story, plain and simple, yes, but no matter how much I see this kind of relationship develop between people in real life, I still can’t believe it in fiction. The main character meets the heroine exactly four times, and just because they had both been stuck with terrible lovers, they realized they actually love each other? Gimme a break… The dream/real life plot mixed a tad too much at times, I’d think it was the real life, but then something would happen that was a tad off… That’s why this one is very middle of the road for me, the presentation is amazing, but there’s still something very amateurish about it.
Gardenia: Prologue - I went into this one fully expecting a farm sim, as I was in the mood for something like that and have since realized that, uh… it’s more of a scavenger/gatherer kind of game, with some platforming involved. It’s very empty, with not a lot to interact with or do, which technically could be excused by the fact that it’s pretty much a demo, but it didn’t really pull me in. It’s so empty, in fact, that I must have spent the first hour on running on base level alone (no super-jumping/flying that the game lets you do), for the sake of checking if it really is that empty. I could have used more NPCs, more coherent worldbuilding, a tidier crafting system (if you can’t pick up a thing you just crafted, but you’re still trying to craft in hopes of emptying your inventory, everything will shoot out all over the place) and less manly grunting (I can appreciate quirky mouth sounds, but that was just… it’s not like we even know who the player character is, can they not be feminine?) …I suppose I’ll keep a lookout on the full game.
Lake - Imagine, if you will, USA in the eighties. These bulky-looking “personal computer” things are slowly, but surely becoming commonplace, and more and more accompanying software is being developed. Meredith Weiss is one of many developers of such software… but this isn’t a story about that. This is a story about Providence Oaks, Oregon; Meredith’s hometown, to which she returns in hopes of taking a break from work in the big city. While her parents are on holidays in Florida, she takes up her dad’s job as the local mailman, which sets her on the path of reconnecting with old acquaintances, rekindling friendships, and maybe even getting to know someone new… I had no idea about what this game was going to be like, just kind of guessed that I’d enjoy it and so I tried it. I ended up absolutely loving it. The ratio of busywork to events is just perfect. Driving around while listening to the radio (which is great, the licensed songs really fit the overall vibe of the game) can be a simply satisfying experience, but I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that as you visit all major locations, you unlock fast travel points, as well as markers you can auto-drive towards; it really streamlined the whole thing. There were only a few minor issues, such as an extended loading time in a particular location, a few empty textboxes you have to know to click through, or the fact that the resident old lady clearly sounds like another character putting on an “old lady” voice (‘cause she is, really), but all that was nothing, compared to the pleasure I derived from playing this game. Highly recommended for a chill afternoon.
my brother lives in a canyon - Exactly What It Says On The Tin™️, my brother lives in a canyon is a walking sim about Jake and Tom, who reminisce about the past, as Jake’s on his way to meet Tom. It’s an excellent premise that draws you in, with pleasing graphics, nice music and serviceable voice acting. I’m glad it’s free, as that makes it much easier to recommend; I’m certainly surprised I hadn’t heard about it until just recently.
Paw Patrol The Movie: Adventure City Calls - This game is the stuff of nightmares. I was in love with the idea of Paw Patrol after completing the first game, and I still am, but this game is just a dirty cashgrab and I refuse to be convinced otherwise. Most glaring is the issue of it simply crashing a minute, maybe two into the very first mission; a full-on crash with a Unity error window popping up, which to this day remains supposedly impossible to replicate by the devs - basically a fucking joke. I was only able to experience this game through Xbox Cloud Gaming, and with the most basic of internet speeds, that was less than comfortable, but I digress. The count of collectables (treats) you have to get across all of the levels and minigames was, I believe, quadrupled from the previous game, which is absolutely mindblowing; isn’t this supposed to be a relaxing game for kids? No kid is going to be interested in collecting that much stuff. To further add insult to injury, most of those will be collected in one and the same driving minigame, which while available in the previous game, was only used sparingly. Here, according to some simple math, you’d have to perfectly complete it about 30 times, and that’s without accounting for mistakes. Not to mention that the devs for some reason decided to get rid of the treat counters in individual minigame levels, so you now also have to keep track of that on your own. Last, but not least, what absolutely broke me were some of the translated strings. I suppose Xbox automatically chooses the game’s language based on the language my PC/Xbox app is set in, which is fine (though in the game itself there is no option to change that, which is also criminal), but… instead of just being distracting, as it was in the previous game, here it’s just downright sad. When you complete a minigame, I assume the text that pops up says “Game complete!” in the English version… but in the Polish one, it’s been translated to “Full game version!” …seriously, was this shit machine translated? You’d think Nickelodeon would care about what I assume is one of their most popular franchises to date. If you value your time and your money, avoid this game at all costs. Maybe go outside and play some kind of ball game with your kid, that can’t not be fun.
PowerWash Simulator - If you’ve been living under a rock for the past, I dunno, year or so… PowerWash Simulator is Exactly What It Says On The Tin™️; a simulator game that lets you start a powerwashing business. And where to start, if not in good ol’ Muckingham! The people there will have all kinds of jobs for you, from their bikes or cars, through houses, all the way to ships or airplanes! It was great fun doing an honest day’s work during every session, earning a good handful of cash and using it to upgrade my equipment later on. Honestly, I think we should just collectively decide to leave making simulator games to these devs, because my only complaint is that this game’s just too addicting! But more seriously, it does get repetitive eventually…
The Procession to Calvary - A small point-and-click made up of rennaissance works of art and Monty Python-esque humor. It was okay, I don’t suppose I’m that big of a fan of either of those. It was nice to play as a protagonist who bended stereotypes left and right, though.
The Walking Dead: A New Frontier - It’s “The One Where They’re All Horny”, as I dubbed it once in a conversation. Kate and Javier’s relationship was much easier to digest if you just went for it, but I’m still not a fan of Clem and Gabe “bonding” just because “she’s a teenager, of course she’d be interested!”, I guess.
The Walking Dead: Michonne - My TWD replay binge started winding me down around this time, so it’s tough to come up with anything new to say. I want to say I tried making Michonne a tad different than I did the first time around, but really, it’s hard to not want to make her be the badass she is.
The Walking Dead: Season Two - Another replay, bless Xbox’s Cloud Gaming function! This time, I tried shifting my outlook on the characters from how it was when I played the first time around and boy, it’s a whole another story. No wonder the finale of this game might just be one of the most divisive choices to be made in gaming of all time.
The Walking Dead: The Final Season - Finally tackled this one! In any other case, I would have left it for next year, but since Game Pass gave me the opportunity to replay all of the previous entries, I decided I might as well finish my adventure with the franchise once and for all. Clem’s all grown up now, taking care of AJ once again. Soon enough, they’re swept up and taken to what was once a facility for troubled youth… and here’s where everything really starts. This time, the main cast is made up entirely of children/teens, who eventually have to face off against blood-thirsty adults; that’s one thing I liked, as it gave off this “old kids’ movie” kind of vibe. However, an issue I do have is how much different this cast is from all the other ones. Not only does it seem to imply that kids tend to get into arguments that are much more petty than adults (while personally, I believe there’s more of a balance), but it also makes most of the cast unmemorable. From a technical standpoint, yes, I do know the whole main cast by name, but really, most of them contribute little-to-nothing, as two characters in particular gradually stand out more and more. Speaking of which, as much as I let myself get endeared to the characters in question, I’m still not a fan of putting Clem in a situation where you have to choose between “friendzone” and “something more”. You say “but it’s about time she got a crush on someone!”, I say “she’s been just fine not having any interest before, and not necessarily because of the apocalypse”. Hence, I prefer to think of the choices in those scenes as ones I’ve made for myself, rather than for her. In general, the game really does feel like a fresh breath of air, rather than the thing that killed its maker, but it also shows in the annoying things. For once (possibly the first time ever, in this line of games), there are achievements you can miss, ones for performing special actions and ones for collectibles. However, while the change to a sort of “free roam”, not unlike DONTNOD’s titles looks-wise, along with the action sequences no longer being scripted half the time does a lot to make the game more interactive, it’s quite tough to play the game well with a controller. Not to mention that the one QoL function available in all the previous games, scene select, has been removed for seemingly no reason. Come on, Telltale! DONTNOD’s games have a whole-ass “isolated replay” option just for collectables, what are you doing?! Lastly, the ending… ehh, to me it just felt like big-time wish fulfillment. Still, it’s probably not the first time this series did such a leap of logic, so I guess that was just a nice way to wrap everything up. Final verdict: I liked it, but didn’t love it. Would definitely think twice before picking it up on a different platform.
Twelve Minutes - Holy crap, it’s that game! The wildly overpriced one! The one with the all-star cast! The one with time-sensitive gameplay! Yeah… yep. I played it… and I just didn’t like it, at all. The voice acting might have been just the best thing about this whole ordeal. I knew what to expect from the gameplay thanks to a video I watched some time in the past, but still, maybe this kind of “time loop, do everything step by step” gameplay just isn’t for me. The “big twist” also wasn’t anything groundbreaking, since the internet’s been screaming about it soon after the game first came out… and sue me, but I don’t think it’s as horrible as people paint it to be. These are just pixels on a screen, after all.
What Remains of Edith Finch - Easily the best walking simulator I’ve played yet, if not ever. The game puts you in the shoes of Edith as she returns to her childhood home, years after she’s last seen it, in hopes of retracing the steps of her ancestors. It’s a magical, magnificent, but also gut-wrenching story about remembering your roots and being proud of where you’ve come from. Personally, I’d recommend it to just about anyone.
See you next month! :)
Progress report: July ‘22 (a.k.a. Finally, the holidays!)
Yep, you heard me right! It’s summertime and I plan on contributing nothing useful to society for as long as I can! I’m going to work as hard as possible on assassinating my backlog instead, thank you very much :3
A super important thing for this month - I made a new friend! He loves gaming just as much as I do, if not more, and I got to play through some games with him while he was still home. Small dreams coming true ☆
And then, if that wasn’t enough, he brought my attention to Discord giving away free Xbox Game Pass trial codes! Expect a splash of that until halfway through September~
So, here’s what I’ve been doing instead of being like any sane person:
100 hidden cupcakes
A Memoir Blue
All You Can Eat
Bishoujo Battle Cyber Panic!
Come with Me
EMMA The Story
Escape From School
Escape Room - The Sick Colleague
Hide and Secret Treasure of the Ages
it's always monday
Mini Words: Top Games
My Friend Peppa Pig
PAW Patrol: Mighty Pups Save Adventure Bay
Starting the Game
The Artful Escape
The Shapeshifting Detective
The Timeless Child
The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season
Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion
We should talk.
We Were Here
夏花的轨迹——A summer promise to forever
100 hidden cupcakes - I told myself I wouldn’t actually spend money on any of these… and then I caved in anyway. This one’s… the same as all the other ones, I assume, just that you’re looking for something else. Funnily enough, 0.5% of people straight up gave up before finding the last cupcake (which, fair enough, hardly looked like all the other cupcakes), but I’m not one of them! Bonus virtual cupcake for me for… willing to spend three more minutes to look closer before consulting the guide…
A Memoir Blue - I’m tired of all these media that think they’re being impactful by not saying anything. For the love of god, speak to me. I know you have a voice, but for some unearthly reason you’re choosing not to have it! Sigh… This was my first experience with Xbox Cloud Gaming, and with how weak my internet connection is, the results were… serviceable. I’d still be better off making download space when needed.
All You Can Eat - I’ve had this one on my wishlist for a while now, but only when I looked at it again before buying, I noticed… “when the player ends the game, he is given the option to print out his gameplay in a comic book format”… that sounds like vApe Escape! Indeed, it’s from the same devs. Much like vApe Escape, it’s a comic-style point-and-click, which you can later export as a PDF and print out, if you want, which is… cool on paper, again, but useless if you struggled to finish the game in the first place. This game even has a developer commentary, which I always enjoy, but I still don’t think it’s worth its asking price. I got my key from someone who was selling it for just a little bit less than the biggest discount possible for it and that’s the price I felt comfortable paying.
Bishoujo Battle Cyber Panic! - Another Zoo Corporation game, another Qix reskin, another Rick G. Earth (?) feature; really don’t know what to say about this one, except that I’m iffy about how easy it was for me, ‘cause I feel like if I had to play the original Qix, it would kick my ass brutally.
Cat&rooms - Barely a nukige about a guy who picks up a magic stray cat that foresees sex in his future. Three different endings, a horrible English translation, generic moaning and a clear preference for a certain type of female body. Porn is free, so… avoid.
Come With Me - This one might have been just the perfect difficulty for us. I was poking fun at how I’d probably end up being the purple character at the start, and then I actually did… luckily, they had more agency in the whole thing. It’s a nice school project, recommended if you’ve got a friend and an hour to kill.
Drowning - Easily the simplest walking simulator I’ve ever played, Drowning relays the story of a subject (presumably the developer themselves) and its struggle with depression. The story can last for up to five years and has four different endings. The problem with this game, however… is that it’s bland. Besides a few random objects you can pick up for achievements and the fact that three of the endings are considered “secret”, there’s really not much variety or spice; you’re walking on and on, pretty much on rails, as the story is told to you every so often. It only got more excruciating when I realized that for some reason the Steam version of the game doesn’t have an option to skip chapters, unlike the console version, therefore extending the play time for no reason. I empathize with the game likely being raw and personal, but I cannot in good conscience recommend it to even the biggest walking sim lovers.
DYO - A mind-bending platformer with a cool concept that proved too disorienting for both me and my friend way too soon… so I just skipped through the rest of the game to get all the achievements. I’m just glad I got this for free and not $10, which is what it supposedly was in the past. Recommended only if you’re not the type whose brain melts…?
EMMA The Story - A short, somewhat existential story about space and the future. It’s not bad, but due to the length alone, pick it up on sale.
Escape Academy - Easily the best game I got to co-op in with my new friend, and we both think so. Escape Academy is, as the title suggests, a game about a school that tests its students based on their escape room escape skills… that… makes sense, trust me. The visuals are eye-catching, the soundtrack is great, the riddles are a great balance between “did they seriously think this was hard?” and “uh… what the fuck am I supposed to do with this?”… if you have a friend, a family member, a partner, anyone willing to play games with you, this is the next hot thing for you to play. I myself can’t wait to replay it on another platform in the future.
Escape From School - A simple “escape room” kind of game… is all I can say, because me and my friend did not have a single clue about how the heck to solve any of the riddles. We cheesed it, fooled around for what felt like an eternity before we got to the end (twice!), and we still somehow fit within the brackets of how long the game is supposed to take, according to the dev. Verdict: …good?
Escape Room - The Sick Colleague - There was a new multiplayer room added, so naturally, I jumped at the chance of completing that too. If I had to judge the difficulty of this one, the first part was sufficiently complicated, but as we went on, it got even more so and we lost the proverbial thread, so to speak. The voice-activated thing was nonsense, figuring out the dates on the SD cards wasn’t even necessary, and just about all the other stuff was purely for the achievements at that point… not to mention the in-game clue system leaves a lot to desire. Doing the Stairway to heaven achievement was fun though; I’m happy I have it now, but it’s probably going to forever be superseded in rarity by the latest Coloring Pixels packs…
Femboy Besties - Said it many times before, will say it again; it’s a shame that stuff this short is asking to be paid for, while there are some real gems out in the free-to-play world. And yes, like most the reviews say, the balls are on backwards.
Hide and Secret Treasure of the Ages - This was bad. I knew it was going to be bad, but I bought that cheap key anyway. It’s one of those HOGs where nothing really matters anyway, so the HOG scenes are just random blurred stock images of libraries and whatnot, while instead of hand-drawn items that fit within the place, you’re looking for the same clown plush or elephant statue five times over. The story of this one is told through comic-style cutscenes with terrible pre-rendered 3D art and not much better voice acting. The characters’ accents are all over the place; if anything, I feel like Toadie’s VA stood out as the best, even if his voice didn’t match what the character looks like at all. If anyone knows where I can find the names of the voice cast (assuming they weren’t all just picked up off the street), I’d like to see if he’s been anywhere else. As for the game, though, avoid it at all costs.
it’s always monday - Is it, though? I’ve seen a playthrough of this game ages ago, so now that I remembered nothing about it and it finally went 75% off (which, judging by the price, might be the lowest it even can go), I figured I might as well go for it. It’s a game about the mundane, but like so many others before it, it’s hard to talk about without just giving everything away. One thing I must say though is that it was supposedly free to play before, which makes sense considering it’s only about 20 minutes long… but now it’s paid? That alone makes it hard to recommend; there are longer and more enjoyable experiences to be found in free to play games…
Mini Words: Top Games - Last month was movies, now came the time for the top 100 highest-grossing games (as of this month). Again, much easier than the first (main?) game and just as short as Top Movies.
My Friend Peppa Pig - I like me a good children’s game, and this was pretty good. You can customize your own character, meet Peppa and her family, and go on an adventure around Peppa’s world. I’ve long since grown out of watching Peppa the Pig, but the little bits and pieces that I’ve committed to memory were portrayed accurately. I’d say the bar for children’s games isn’t high, yet Outright Games seems to meet/pass it (whichever really works) every time, considering they’ve been on a roll putting out games based on popular IPs.
Omno - This was going to get removed from Game Pass at the end of the month, so after looking it up and seeing that it’s an estimated 3-4 hour completion and “a relaxing adventure”, I decided to try it out. God, was I wrong. Not only was the presentation something I don’t jive with at all (think games like Journey or Abzu, in that they’re “no story, just vibes”), but the gameplay absolutely broke me. “But why?”, you might ask. “It’s just a platformer, isn’t it?” Yeah, it is… except it fucking sucks. All contentment I could have gained from watching all the creatures prance around and getting through the game at a reasonable pace was trumped by how godawful the platforming was. I’ve noticed that the dev was doing his best, coming up with more and more new ways to get to the collectibles and that’s great, but it stops being admirable when you have to zoom around the spot twenty times over because you keep failing the jumps. If there was a jump I couldn’t make, it was because most of my tries ended up with the character bashing their head against the platform and falling. I’m honestly glad I didn’t get vertigo from all that zipping around. Not to mention the handful of times where I looked at the next jump and thought “hmm, that looks far enough to use the dash ability”, which I did, and again, bashed my head, and fell down, then went back up to try that same jump and do it without using the dash, only to succeed. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s downright unacceptable. At the very least I can say, I’m done with it now. It was a frustrating experience from start to finish and I will gladly purge all memories of it from my mind.
PAW Patrol: Mighty Pups Save Adventure Bay - When Paw Patrol first appeared, I was long past the age at which I’d watch it for fun, so I’ve simply been curious about its popularity. Now that I’ve gotten introduced to the basic idea, I think the general message behind the cast of pups saving their hometown is pretty good. However, this game was… kind of atrocious. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fun collect-a-thon, between the main missions and the minigames, and obviously the difficulty is way below what I could do, but… everything is bogged down by the voice acting. Even though I haven’t seen a single episode of the show, I could swear that the dogs can speak, but here, they don’t speak, or, at the very least, bark… all the talking is done by Ryder, and boy, does he have a terrible voice (in Polish, at the very least). I would hope that’s not the same voice actor as in the show; he just sounds so disinterested and like he doesn’t want to be there most of the time. That, and nearly all the time the things he’s saying don’t match up with what’s written on the screen, which tired me out even further. Seriously, you don’t know how distracting that kind of thing is until you see it happen.
Pupperazzi - You’re… uh… a somewhat human-sized camera… on legs… and you get yourself into the business of taking dog photos. …probably because they occupy most of the world? Anyway, questioning the setting aside, this was a pretty fun game. If you ever feel the need to relax, wind down and pet some good puppers before giving them a photoshoot, this is the game for you. However, I’m glad I got to play it as part of Xbox Game Pass, cause good lord, with that price it ain’t worth it. I wouldn’t mind replaying it some time in the future, but not for that price.
SLG Remix - I’m not exactly sure what this is supposed to be… it’s a visual novel, sure, but the 20 minutes that it took me to read felt like they were cut out of a bigger story. I went in, aware of the less than favorable reviews and I was not surprised. Do yourself a favor, assuming you even knew about this game, and skip it.
Starting the Game - I feel lied to. I don’t think I started any game, maybe besides this one. It was short, looked crappy and its humor was pure nonsense to me. The “subscribe to PewDiePie” thing at the start was really cringy too, there are reasons I’ve unsubscribed a good few years back.
The Artful Escape - I’ve been really looking forward to playing this game. The “Music” tag and a mention of Jason Schwartzman being on the cast got me, I admit. And now, with my Game Pass trial, I got to try it out. It… wasn’t great. Don’t get me wrong, the art is fantastic, the voice acting is great and the overarching message of being your own person is important… but it’s just not a good game. All of the musicality is brought down to pressing/holding X to let out sound, with the sections where you need to “prove yourself” being presented as a glorified Simon Says. In the end, this is another one of those games that I suppose I wouldn’t mind replaying, but not for its base price. Heck, looking at this one makes me think - “wouldn’t this have worked better as an animated feature?”
THE CORRIDOR - This game seems to be getting bashed for simply being Stanley-esque, but I don’t necessarily think that’s bad. The other way out people take to try and convey things like these is usually by keeping silent; I much prefer bad writing than no writing at all, and this wasn’t necessarily bad… The gimmick was a tad annoying, but in the end, it was a fun experience.
The Shapeshifting Detective - Streamed this for my friend after he showed an interest. It’s a damn engaging FMV where a mystery is afoot. As the title suggests, you’re a shapeshifter - it’s unclear who (or what) you originally are, but after coming in contact with a potential suspect, you can use their likeness to get info out of other suspects. We stayed up a few long nights to see the mystery through; he’s even more interested in FMVs now than he was before, I just wish all the plot twists that were introduced had some sort of an explanation.
The Timeless Child - This game is just great. Maybe it’s because I know how to solve all the riddles by now that I say that, but the riddles in this game are genuinely fun to figure out and execute. The “Prologue” in the name only gets me excited - I wonder what more will come out of this. Definitely recommend this one if you’re itching to play with someone online.
The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season - Hell yeah! Thank you, Xbox, for giving me an excuse to replay most of the TWD series! Especially the first game; man, it’s been four years, I’ve forgotten tons of stuff that went down. …you only ever remember the major beats…
Townscaper - One heck of a creative sandbox. I’m not a creative type, however, so it’s safe to say I played this one just for the achievements.
Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion - This game, ah… it looks good. It’s cute, it has a nice soundtrack and, uh… that’s about where the praise ends. Seriously, I could hardly stomach the writing. Who on earth thought stuffing a game with memes would automatically make it funny? I guess it’s whoever called that one guy in the credits “the meme encyclopedia” or whatever. There’s an old lady who uses uwuspeak, a random JoJo reference just for the sake of it, and another character who appears out of nowhere to contribute nothing other than tell you an edited version of the Navy Seal copypasta. So, should you play this game? If you can handle this kind of “humor”, by all means. I’ve pretty much quit Twitter at this point for a reason.
Unpacking - A downright adorable pixel art game, telling the story of a certain woman through all the times she moved house. It’s one of those rare examples where I didn’t need a written-out story, there’s just so much you can tell based on what kind of stuff people take with them when moving. Naturally, a tad of a gripe is the game forbidding me from putting some stuff where I might have put it in real life, but with enough playing around, everything’s to be worked out. I already can’t wait to replay this one someday.
We should talk. - Your relationship’s falling apart, but still, you go out drinking. This is a simulation of how 8 out of 9 times you’re going to break up, and the lucky ninth time is when you get to keep up the relationship. The other characters of the story don’t matter one bit. The vibe of the game is pretty nice, everything else not so much. Every time you get to the title screen, even if you just finished a playthrough without exiting the game, you’re going to have to readjust the options, if you did that before, which is hardly acceptable. Even the fastest message speed isn’t nearly fast enough to get through the game at a reasonable pace, considering the ending count and how repetitive most of the game is. If this were a standard visual novel, you could shave off a bunch of time just by skipping the wait for the messages you’ve seen ten times before. We should talk. wasn’t bad per se, but… very meh.
We Were Here - Finally! At last, I made a friend to play this game with! It’s a cool concept, a librarian and an explorer getting lost in a castle filled with traps and riddles. Shame that the “no death” achievement isn’t described better, as there are multiple different ways to die during the game (the spikes fail just looks like a simple respawn, but it actually counts as a “death”?). However - and I can believe I would speak for the majority of the players when I say this - the ending sucked! What’s with that?! I can only hope the sequels get better, but I’m not in a hurry to buy them, I’m just going to look out for when they might go on sale or something.
With You - Going from DYO to this, it was a perfect dial-back on the difficulty. I reckon we’d have been done with this one in 15 minutes, had I not gotten a nosebleed while playing. I don’t suppose it’s as much of a relationship-exploring/testing/what have you game as it might want to be, but it is a nice student project, and I love me some of those.
夏花的轨迹——A summer promise to forever - This has been another one of my rare encounters with Chinese VNs and… it was okay. The art is pretty, the voice acting seems good enough and the English translation is serviceable (apparently it was revised in the past, too, so that’s good), but the story is just really meh. You play as Lin Jiajun, a high schooler sent by his dad to scope out a school in a remote village called Tangxia. Naturally, he meets a few new people there, but the standouts are the heroines - Wu Wanxue, who’s quiet and devoted to working out in the field and Chen Yinlin, who seems to remind him of the distant past… Anyway, it all reads like a bad fanfiction; both heroines have their problems, ones that should be seen as serious, but then the main character, who is, as usual, just your average guy, swoops in and solves everything like it hadn’t been going on for much longer than he’s known any of those people. There’s also a secret sex scene that you can patch into the game, but it’s not voiced or available in English, so if anything, just open it for the related achievement. I’m glad I finally finished this, as it’s been cramping my completion % for the last three (!) years and… let’s see what this studio’s going to do next, I suppose. According to VNDB, they’re in the process of making another VN set in the same universe.
BROK the InvestiGator - I decided it was only fair to finish the demo, so I did. The UI wasn’t as problematic as I might have thought at first. I enjoyed how much stuff there is to collect and explore, it really does look like it’s going to be a long, solid point-and-click adventure game when it comes out, considering it’s now the longest demo of the ones I played for Next Fest. The hints, the deaths, the choices, I’m excited!
See you next month! :)
Progress report: June ‘22 (a.k.a. loud-ass speedcore blasting in my head)
Woof… waaay too much stuff happened in June. I got a hefty birthday gift, which made me wish I could already be home, playing on my consoles. I also got through all my finals safely, although I’m still waiting on one of the grades. Nothing more of note here, except that the yearning has completely and utterly dominated my life. I’m seriously hoping that I’ll be able to make a dent in my new backlog this month.
As for now, though… June’s assassinations.
Indian Legends Solitaire
Last Days of Spring
Mini Words: Top Movies
Indian Legends Solitaire - Fun fact: to try and accurately describe the gameplay of this and Rainforest Solitaire, I tried to look up ways to play the game… there were so many it would take me ages to read about them, much less parse them. So what I will say is that the idea of this one is similar to TriPeaks from the Microsoft Solitaire Collection, although with hundreds of different layouts and additional rules to abide by. I wouldn’t recommend this game, if only because of how time-consuming it is to complete a hundred levels with three stars, but since both it and Rainforest were really trying to push being pay-to-win, they have since been removed from the storefront.
Last Days of Spring - You know I had to play this one on June 21st (aka the actual last day of spring)! It… was not great, much like everything else from Sapphire Dragon Productions. At some point you have to wonder how on earth their games don’t seem to ever evolve. Oh well, I guess the sequel’s got different character art?
Mini Words: Top Movies - With the same gameplay basics as Mini Words, this time we’re tasked with uncovering names of people and things related to the top 100 highest-grossing movies (as of 2020). Easily more enjoyable than Mini Words in that there’s less guesswork involved, but also drastically short compared to it.
Rainforest Solitaire - The sister game to Indian Legends, this one is played by matching two of the same cards. Again, the grind is very time-consuming, and again, even if I wanted to recommend it, it’s not available for download anymore.
Slappy Ass - There goes that friend of mine again, gifting me a random sexual game. Oh well. Slappy Ass, as the name suggests, is all about… slapping a virtual ass. The more you slap, the more you get to customize. You can dress the ass up in different underwear, change its skin, you can even choose to start hitting it with things like a paddle or, uh… controlled electrical shocks? There are also three minigames, which were what kept me from completing this game for so long. Maybe it’s because I got this game as a gift, but I really do think that if you’re gonna wanna play low-tier sex-selling games, you might as well try something that stands out, and Slappy Ass certainly can be said to do so.
Virtual Cottage - Simply put, a really nice app to put on while idling or working. I spent most of these 100 hours earnestly doing my homework. There are multiple kinds of weather ambiance to choose from and a small, albeit solid collection of lo-fi music. Honestly, it’s a wonder I didn’t go crazy with how few songs there are… I will gladly recommend this to anyone who would rather idle out some achievements than go to just any random lo-fi mix or playlist, but at the same time, it’s hard to guarantee longevity with such a small playlist. I hope they’ll get the rights to more songs sooner rather than later.
Bonus: Yes, I did take part in Steam Next Fest! I’m glad you asked! Here are the demos I tried out:
a pet shop after dark - npckc’s art style is one of those things that inevitably stand out. However… I’m not sure how this idea could be expanded upon much more? Don’t get me wrong, there is something there, but it seems like a disappointment on the horizon.
Alice is Dead: Hearts and Diamonds - I’m sure there’s a great game here, but I had no idea how to progress past the first room…
BROK the InvestiGator - I admit I still haven’t played this one until the end, but it looks interesting, although I find the UI needlessly confusing. I’m also reminded that I still haven’t played Demetrios…
Concerto on White - I was pleasantly surprised to discover a new rhythm game… but then I tried playing it two times and both times, it simply hung after the introduction. A shame.
Exes Assault!! - I love the absolutely insane premise. Will gladly see how it develops further.
Hush Hush - Only Your Love Can Save Them - Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe the first news of this game being a thing were coming out before the inception of Blush Blush; which makes it all the more better to see that not only the girls, but the guys also seem to have all kinds of roles that fit into the plot organically. The UI is slick, there’s full voice acting, the gameplay poses a challenge right from the get-go… naturally, I’d love to see a spin-off like this that puts the focus on the guys, but for now, I’m even more excited for the full release of this.
Melatonin - An, uh, “capitalism”-themed rhythm game. The Rhythm Heaven influence is very clear, and I say that having barely played it. The perfection-focused gameplay is an acquired taste, but I will keep an eye out for the full release.
Monster Prom 3: Monster Roadtrip - I’m still pretty much stuck where I was a few years back with the first game, not to mention the DLC or the second game… but you know I had to try this one out. It’s short, waaay too short for my liking (10 minutes per try? Really?), but the writing and humor check out, and the gameplay is fresh and definitely more challenging than the first game, at least. Color me interested, but not before I work my way through the first two games.
New Year’s Eve Miracle - Short and sweet, it’ll probably be one of those dirt-cheap titles when it releases; can’t imagine much being squeezed out of such a small thing.
Outcore - This looked interesting; it started out minimalistic, using your actual desktop as the play zone, but then it quickly switched to a platformer… wasn’t a fan of that, so I dropped it.
Please Be Happy - This game… it’s absolutely beautiful! I got so entranced, I’d say it even brought me back to what it was like back when VNs were still a relatively new thing in my life. Everything, from the UI, through the art style and the voice acting, down to the writing, it was astonishing. I’m also super positive about the fact that it’ll be a GL VN, as I haven’t had the best track record with these before. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for it, but in the meantime, this definitely upped the priority of the studio’s previous games in my backlog.
Wylde Flowers - Easily my favorite demo out of all the ones I’ve tried out. I wouldn’t have known of this game’s existence, had it not popped up in the imDB credits of a VA I was interested in; when I noticed its demo was taking part, I downloaded it immediately. I’ve been saying this before and I’ll say it again, for a few years now I’ve been chasing the nostalgia feel of playing MySims, a game I loved when I was little. Obviously, nothing’s ever tried being a copycat (if anything, I’ve realized that MySims itself might have been attempting to ride the coattails of something like Animal Crossing?), but the general rule is that the games I’m looking for will have to be cute and likely also farming sims. …this was perfect for that. The art style is gorgeous, the cast is just big enough where you want to get to know all of them and the gameplay loop is satisfying as all hell. This demo was also the longest, clocking it at around 2 hours, but you’re telling me that when the whole game releases, I’ll get to do all that for about 60 more?! Sign me UP!
See you next month! :)
Progress report: May ‘22 (a.k.a. Drifting Along The Sea of Nothingness…)
Nothing unusual to report on life-wise this month! I’ve noticed the motivations I harbored while my ankle was healing have dissipated, which is unfortunate. I’ve also started wondering about my sexuality, but… stress can contribute to libido fluctuation, and I’ve got finals coming up soon, so I suppose I’ll wait until I’m done with those to confirm how I feel.
On a more minor note, a thing I wrote on a test got shamed in front of the whole class (I wasn’t named, but still) - been a while since that’s happened! Like, at least four years’ worth of a while! It was ridiculous, but I decided not to argue about it, those few points weren’t worth it anyway.
Gaming-wise, Coloring Pixels released the free r/place DLC and it has absolutely dominated my life, so this month’s completions were more of a formality than anything else, aaand seeing as I’ve mentioned finals, June is, more likely than not, going to follow that same path.
But for now, May’s assassinations:
AVICII Invector - I’m pretty much always craving a new rhythm game adventure and this title stood out to me, as it seems to have been bundled in the past. Got to grab it for cheap recently and… I have to say, it was a challenge. Mastering the controls was one thing - who the heck had the amazing idea of making the AXYB notes shaped like guitar picks? (for the love of all that is holy, you had one job) The additional hurdle, however, was imposed by the inputs registering all over the place (or rather that there was an achievement related to them). For real, the achievement for getting at least 75% perfect inputs screams “misunderstanding of the genre 101” to me; especially if, even when most times consistently hitting 97-100% of the notes only yielded 45%-70% perfect ones. I consider myself to be a solid rhythm game player, though nowhere near comfortable on extreme difficulty levels; to me getting a perfect rank with almost as many as or more “great” inputs than “perfect” inputs is absolutely fine, likely even better than missing even one note - and while I’m sure Invector reflects that, it seems that boosting (a charge move that adds to your multiplier for a short period of time) is absolutely necessary for the best rank (though I will also say that on some levels, it still didn’t let me have it), which makes it so that, should you be a completionist, it’s more comfortable to play for perfect inputs and best rank separately. It felt to me like the game itself (past the related achievements) wanted to make me averse to playing on any difficulty but Easy and I happily obliged. As for the music itself… I never really considered myself a fan of AVICII, I’ve only ever listened to his music when it was on the radio; having played Invector, I’m surprised to say that I’ve recognized maybe a third of the songs included in the game. I don’t plan on going back to the game, but I will definitely be listening to the songs on their own sometimes.
Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc - Ladies. Gentlemen. Other configurations of being. It is complete. I bought the main trilogy sometime in 2020, deadset on completing it in three years… little did I know, I would drop the first game near the end of the year and never pick it back up again… until just recently. Maybe because I was already privy to the big twist (at least partially) or maybe because it’s been memed to hell in the West (not that I specifically go looking around for Danganronpa memes, though), but I was more than fed up by the time I got done with this game. Speaking of the twist… call me stupid, but even though all (?) the signs were pointing to it, the truth was incredibly idiotic, considering all the weird stuff that’s been happening up until that point. Anyway, some characters are certainly highly memorable, other perhaps little more than recreated stereotypes; but somehow, I wished I could have gotten to know them better. The writing could get tedious at times - I don’t need to see the same thing repeated five times in a row, so I’m only hoping it looked/sounded more stylish in Japanese. The soundtrack ranges from anxiety-inducing to some cool bops, but it’s now pretty much embedded into my mind, so it’ll take a while for me to be able to listen to it on its own. I liked the resource management part of School Mode (numbers go brr), but not the hang-out part. It was all so repetitive and empty… unless I’d want to risk not upping my affinity with the character of choice, but that’s obviously not a good time, especially considering that you need to play it at least four times anyway. The Mono Mono machine annoyed me (imagine buying a high-quality game just to play gacha… as the zoomers say, that’s a “certified ‘bruh’ moment”) and the white noise achievements, which I got last were… well, not as grindy in the long run, but still a pain in the ass, cause I like my games easy and that achievement can only be unlocked through playing on medium or hard. Oh well… I don’t think I’ll be touching the sequel in at least five years.
Equivoque - Well… I really don’t know what to say about this one. It’s a VN about a bunny who finds themselves in the middle of a conflict between two magicians, solves it and… that’s the end. One of the reviews claims there are three possible endings, but I felt like two were enough to have tried just about every choice; not to mention it wasn’t long enough to make me care. The artstyle is nice, the music is the bomb… but seeing as it takes only half an hour to see just about everything it’s got to offer, I’m not sure if it should be paid at all. It feels like a project that was conceived as a grand idea, but ended up being a rush job. Wherever the developer is (seeing as they don’t seem to have released anything else), I hope they’re doing great for themselves. (Update: They absolutely seem to be! Check them out here!)
Grand Pskov Story - I… what… what just happened? This was pretty much a recreation of some porn/public therapy thing, judging by the visual style. I have absolutely no idea why this was made or how I got my hands on it, but if I wanted porn… I would just go look for porn. Thank the mighty powers for removing this from the storefront.
Mini Words - I’ve let myself fall in the trap of getting a bunch of games from this dev, so expect them to keep popping up in my reports in the near future. Mini Words is a casual puzzle game, where you’re tasked with uncovering all kinds of words; this one aims to collect a few hundred most common English words. As with most puzzle games I play, I eventually resigned myself to using a cheat sheet, but I can still applaud it for stumping me occasionally (not that it’s broken, just that some words could technically be found in multiple ways). And on a somewhat unrelated note, shoutout to the one guy who reviewed a few of these games, crying about how “we’re not being treated seriously” since these are simple enough to have been released on mobile devices. If there’s demand, there’s supply - get over yourself, dude (lol).
Time Gap - Can’t believe I’m finally done with this mess of a game! Listen, if you like your Facebook-era rechargable energy-type casual games, more power to ya. (Clearly I don’t mind them, otherwise I wouldn’t be playing.) However, this one really demands your time - perhaps if I were playing more consistently since I first started it, I would have been done sooner, but oh well. I can’t remember anything from my early days with this game, so I’ll focus on the nonsense that stuck with me, I suppose - there’s one HOG scene, where an object is hidden inside some kind of cupboard, behind closed doors and I suppose the devs just expect the players to somehow figure that out? Ridiculous. Even worse, presumably after a recent update, some of the items don’t show up properly, only their shadows are visible. Some achievements also seem to periodically be broken - assuming you’d be having trouble unlocking an achievement you should have gotten already, I recommend leaving the game be until a future update (as despite the messiness, it is being updated). Most importantly, gems - the great, paid currency. You only get three of them every time you level up, so make sure to save them for the godforsaken pancake achievement - what irony it is that completing it rewards you with gems as well… All in all, I can not recommend this game. However, if you must play it (ya masochist), good luck to you. I’d be quicker to recommend Wanderland or Lost Lands, however.
See you next month! :)
Progress report: April ‘22 (a.k.a. What… Do I Talk About…)
Yeeeah… maybe it’s because I just had a big dinner about an hour ago, but I really don’t know what to say about this past month.
No, wait! I saw Turning Red at the cinema and it was absolutely awesome! It’s not often that I stumble upon a movie with a protagonist I can look at as if they’re a mirror into my past. So, if I were to take that into account, I’d say last month was good :)
On to the assassinations!
Hector: Ep 1
My Coloring Book: Food and Beverage
The Henry Stickmin Collection
Without Within 3
Fractured Minds - This game supposedly explores “anxiety and mental health issues”; I’ve played it twice by now and I can’t tell if I agree with that. It’s just a small handful of different, seemingly anxiety-inducing vignettes… I’m glad the profits are being openly and equally distributed between the dev’s funds for the future and charities supporting mental health awareness, but for its price, this game is a really hard sell.
Hector: Badge of Carnage - Episode 1 - Rude, crude, likely not for a lot of people. Maybe it’s because of the visual presentation
and Telltale’s name, but I think I like this one marginally better than Supreme League of Patriots. Still, off with this series ‘till next year!
Matraquinha PAIR - A simple, yet well done game where your objective is to match one of 2-4 objects shown on one side of the screen with an outline on the other side. Realistically anyone past the age of 3 would be bored with this, but hey, I made the decision to buy it.
My Coloring Book: Food and Beverage - As basic as a coloring game could get. Recommend turning off sound if you’re not a fan of generic BGM and weird mouth noises happening each time you color something in.
The Henry Stickmin Collection - The classic Flash game series is back, now in one big package! I may have never been a Newgrounds kid, but the Henry Stickmin games have still been part of my childhood. I’ve always loved how effortlessly funny and filled to the brim with references all of the games have been, with the newest one, Completing the Mission, certainly not lagging behind. It’s a shame to know that was the last of Henry, but nevertheless, memories of the franchise have made my days for years, with things like Charles’ “greatest plan” or the way that one guard says “Look at how much I care. I don’t care.”; seriously, those things live rent-free in my head. Thank you for everything, PuffballsUnited, and I hope we can meet again whenever you make something new.
Twin Mirror - I’ve been excited about getting to try this one out, since it’s another DONTNOD game. The problem, however… is that this game is a whole lotta nothin’. I’ve read online that it was meant to be another episodic title (which I’m pretty sure everybody would have expected from the studio at this point), but then that idea got scrapped and the game became what it is now… so the character development, lore, main plotline, it all seems like it’s only the first episode by the time the game wraps up. To add insult to injury, it feels like whatever was left of the budget went into getting the rights to Pac-Man. Through Life is Strange, you could tell the devs had an affinity to all kinds of media that was being referenced; here, it just feels soulless… or maybe, on the contrary, it’s the most soulful thing of all, precisely because it’s a thing of its own. My biggest personal gripe with this game is that we don’t get to learn nearly enough about Sam’s issues (How did he start experiencing panic attacks? Is he an aspie? As an aspie myself, I noticed a few things that made me want to “claim” him, but it’s kinda shaky and I don’t know if it would have made sense in the long run) as well as his double (Why/How has he been a part of Sam for so long? Is he a direct suggestion of what Sam would have been like, had he been more empathetic while going through life in general, or potentially a separate entity? If I were to believe Sam is an aspie, could he be a contradiction to that mindset?). Also, one of the, let’s call them, >this is totally what having a panic attack is like< minigames is really unintuitive, screw it. Also also, the name “Mind Palace” totally clashes with the one from Detroit: Become Human and I can’t believe we’re not talking about it. Also also also, I don’t know what I’m gonna be doing from here on out… guess I’ve gotta go back to being on the lookout for LiS 2 deals.
Yesterday - I only went out of my way to buy this game because Yesterday Origins has quickly become one of those resident cheap games, both physically and digitally, and I own it on two platforms already… might as well play the prequel first, right? Well… just about everything in the way it’s presented (due to being originally made for mobile devices) instantly made me speed through it with a walkthrough. It’s short, the character models are detailed, but look oddly ugly when talking, just about every conversation they have feels like a massive infodump… I retained none of the story this game was trying to tell. I watched one ending and couldn’t be bothered to check out the other ones. Now I’m not feeling so hot about the sequel…
Without Romance - A short story about a girl and a guy from two different worlds. Had some potential, but in the end it went nowhere.
Without Within 3 - Vinty and totally-not Excelia, back on another track! After having gotten acquainted with Excelia in the last game, this time Vinty gets flown out to Singapore, to help her with the search for a mysterious, should-have-been-dead calligrapher. Once more, the real locations adapted into the game were described in detail and had short video clips attached. As they say, though, “all good things must come to an end”… and so did this franchise, for me. Even though this installment focused on another character, somewhere deep inside I’ll still miss you, Vinity!
See you next month! :)
Progress report: March ‘22 (a.k.a. Not Actually Broken…?)
Yeahhh, so… while the orthopedist still jotted down that I’ve got a broken bone (just in case), apparently the whole problem is a space that opened up between the bones. Thanks to that, I could replace the cast with an orthopedic shoe. …which had to be paid for out of pocket, so between that and home-delivered groceries, this month’s been hard. My next appointment is in less than a week from now, though, so I can’t wait to finally be able to walk on my own again after that.
As for this month’s assasinations…
Our Life: Beginnings & Always
Supreme League of Patriots Issue 2: Patriot Frames
Time Mysteries 3: The Final Enigma
Our Life: Beginnings and Always - These devs, they’ve got it all wrong. Summers are no fun if you don’t know what these characters go through in school. Building a love interest from the ground up is no fun if it means inevitably sacrificing any personality they may have had, were they allowed to have any agency of their own. Watching characters grow up is… well, it is fun, but only because the effect is always cool. I appreciate the effort of making as many people as possible feel included, but as the saying goes, you can’t please everyone. There are dozens of choices that don’t contribute to the narrative at all; their sole existence is for the player to feel seen… which is ironic, considering you can fantasize about what you look like in the game through all of its duration, yet you won’t see yourself past the customization screen. Then there’s the fact that the game is unashamedly designed for the player to fall in love with its sole love interest, whose name isn’t even a name and eyebrows look like someone tried doing roadwork on them. How could you possibly fall in love with someone who doesn’t care about you? You would think that choosing to keep your distance (albeit politely, with no negativity implied) would make the guy eventually reveal some semblance of personality, something that makes you want to learn more about him… but alas, if you say “bye”, he says “bye”; if you say “no”, he says “okay”. …but wait! That’s because he’s autistic! At first I was ready to throw hands - in what world is autism an excuse for having little to no personality?! …but then I saw some things in him that I could relate to, so I figured I might as well let that grudge go. However! The game introduces multiple other characters on the side and entertains the idea of letting you get closer to them… which goes nowhere, in the end. A true shame, because they all have more personality than the LI. I do have to say, though, that the devs are working on DLC to make two other characters dateable. DLC! Ha, miss me with that sheesh. I’d rather they worked on the “voiced name” option being actually worth it (you only hear it maybe 5 times over the course of the whole game…) and the intro to Step 4 being taken out of the base game unless you actually own it. Seriously, who thought it would be a great idea to let the game go to an error screen when it can’t find Step 4? LOL
To sum it up, the art is pleasing to the eye, the music is nice, the partial voice acting does its job… but unless you’ve never played any straight-forward dating games and/or you have a desperate need to feel validated in your choice of sandwich toppings and farmers’ market groceries, you likely won’t enjoy this game.
Supreme League of Patriots Issue 2: Patriot Frames - See this post, there’s really nothing more to add about this one.
Time Mysteries 3: The Final Enigma - I will admit, I rushed through this one last night, so I could have it count for March. Just like its prequels, it remains hardly appealing to the eye, and in some cases, the ear (who on earth thought having a freaking “serious soldier march”-esque song, which even seems to sound louder than other tracks, in a HOG was a good idea?). Once again, I hardly cared about who was who, but if the main character says she could finally get her well-deserved rest, I will gladly take mine too.
Also, Rasputin… what the fuck.
See you next month!
Progress report: February ‘22 (a.k.a. I Broke My Freaking Ankle!)
Just like the title says… on Monday, I managed to fall off the stairs so magnificently I actually broke my ankle. I’m extra mad at myself for choosing to walk down the stairs over using the escalator… the initial rush of adrenaline tricked me into thinking I was going to be okay, but surprise, surprise! I went to the hospital for a check-up and there, put in a cast, told to get around using crutches, directed to an orthopedist ASAP… The last few days have been stressful as is, and this made everything worse. If I were still in high school, maybe I could have even taken more time off than now due to this…
12 Labours of Hercules II: The Cretan Bull - I wanted to be done with this by the end of the month so badly… alas, I discovered that the developer record achievement is not really something that I want to challenge myself with; perfecting the game as it is took me enough time. It’s beaten for now, maybe I’ll complete it some other time.
Coloring Game 4 - I’m glad to be finally putting this franchise behind me
unless I buy Coloring Game: Pixel… which I don’t really see myself doing any time soon. Half-manually, half-automatically, at last Coloring Game 4 is complete.
Dear Esther: Landmark Edition - Ah yes, the grandparent of the genre now recognized as walking simulators. I will be honest… I didn’t find it all that great. Much like with games that go out of their way to forgo using any spoken language to convey anything, I had trouble getting invested in its story, even though it was told through paragraphs of text… mostly (I would not have had any idea about what it was trying to imply if I hadn’t looked at some of the discussions). Heck, the developer’s commentary told me more about the game than the game itself did. Oh well, you know what they say - “at least it was free!”.
See you next month!
Progress report: January ‘22 (a.k.a. Making Decent Time For Gaming!)
This month, so as not to feel like all I do is play games, I tried establishing a schedule… sort of. What I mean is that, basically, I would limit myself to roughly an hour or two per day, per platform (which still seems like it’s too much, considering what my usual school day looks like, but I want to keep making steady progress every month). In turn, since that meant limiting myself to an optimal completion count, I got some time to
waste away on YouTube catch up to some anime I’ve stalled like half a year ago. …I’m getting there!
Earlier today, though, I found a treasure trove (some of which I was aware of, to be fair) of resources that can potentially make immersive language (Japanese, in particular) learning easy and doable (as condescending and brash as the creator of one of those is). Don’t get me wrong, I would gladly watch anime without subtitles, read untranslated manga or push my way through visual novels with the help of a text hooker… but since I still have so much to do here, I’m trying to sort all of this out in my head.
Which is more important? Which do I make time for? Should I spread myself thin or switch periodically? I don’t want to succumb to the typical mindset of “grammar textbooks suck, taking classes sucks, this or that resource is completely useless” which seems to be common with that kind of self-study learner, but at the same time I can’t argue that actively engaging with the language as much as possible isn’t a good way to learn it…
Whether or not you have any advice, here’s the list of my assassinations:
Coloring Game 3
Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy Remastered
Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth
Life is Strange: Before the Storm
My Name is Mayo 2
Noir Chronicles: City of Crime
The Ghosts of Hackney Mills
The Walking Dead: A New Frontier
Coloring Game 3 - Figured I might as well get all the DLCs for this one, too. Most of it was quick to complete, just small images referencing a bunch of different video games, but I did idle out all the huge painting recreations.
Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy Remastered - I like Quantic Dream’s games. I played the big three in the last few years and I was really excited to tune into Fahrenheit, to see where the studio has come from. Sure enough, the glow-up on the production side of things has been incredible - they no longer do mocap in some random gymnasiums or voice act in an oddly unprofessional room with some sort of carpet on the wall. As for the game itself, however… well, it did everything to be convoluted yet nothing to explain itself. You start playing as Lucas Kane, whose predicament can most simply be described as “in the wrong place, at the wrong time”, as his murder of an innocent bystander is the catalyst for the whole game. Later, you also get to step in the shoes of Carla Valenti and Tyler Miles, the police officer duo tasked with investigating Lucas’ case. All that would have been fine, except the fact that even as you get deeper into the game, the explanation is nowhere to be found. It’s as if it was time to construct the last few chapters and David Cage suddenly went “oh shit, the story!”, so you get told that Lucas is actually dead, some random mute orphan is the key to UNLIMITED POWER! and the world as we know it is ran from the shadows by two different cults, one of whom controls the politics and such, and the other… the internet? Oh, also, Carla gets together with Lucas, because when Cage sees a man and a woman together on screen, he absolutely has to make them bang. Then Carla gets pregnant and Lucas acknowledges the fact that the kid will likely go through the same thing that happened to him. If you knew from the start, was it really that hard to keep your dick in your pants? I am also not at all impressed by the way the game’s portrayal of Tyler. He’s easily the most likeable character, but he seems to be treated like a damn joke, from his weird-ass sweater, through the way his apartment looks (it’s an explosion of colors, which looks so dumb I thought for sure the design was accidentally switched with some cartoon) all the way to his role in the whole game. Yes, he’s merely Carla’s partner, which leaves him to pick up the crumbs after she’s done eating dinner, but at the same time none of his contributions really matter. He can find the files to an old case, a missing lost book, play b-ball with a coworker and dance with his girlfriend, but that’s really all of it. Nothing except a few breather moments (of which I technically need none, since I was never gripped by the game’s story in the first place) would have been lost without him and I find that upsetting. That being said, there are long QTE sections for meticulously choreographed fight scenes (some of which look absolutely ridiculous), hallucination-induced bug infestations and an interactive sex scene (press right stick down to thrust, amirite? and more seriously… why?), so if any of that sounds good to you, feel free to check out Fahrenheit. If not, but you don’t hate Cage with a burning passion, any of the latter three Quantic Dream titles are infinitely better choices.
Isolomus - From the creator of Wurroom, Isolomus is another out-of-this-world claymation adventure. It definitely seems to be presenting the vices of the current world, in the midst of all its abstract. I usually don’t do well with games that refuse to use language to get things across, but these are just enough for me to handle. I also know that the developer is currently working on two longer titles, so I am holding out for those to come in the future.
Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth - In this wonderful adaptation of the (likely legendary, now) 1989 book of the same title, you will get to control three of the characters: Jack, a wild child who, in due time, will uncover the truth of his past; Philip of Gwynedd, a kind-hearted monk, who will come to ruminate in the present, as he realises that the current religious teachings may need improvement; and last, but not least, Aliena of Shiring, the daughter of an earl, who will fight for the future, striving to reclaim her position after her father’s actions lead to a change of power. This game was an instant favorite for me, with an art style that makes the whole world looks as if it were painted by hand, an amazing soundtrack and most importantly, glorious writing. There’s drama, romance, intrigue; there’s more than enough time to let the player grow attached to the positive characters and loathe the negative ones. Despite being a tad lost at the very end due to it skipping through bigger chunks of time, I wouldn’t object to seeing more - that’s how deeply I enjoyed watching the characters grow, mature and accomplish the goals they’ve set for themselves. I’m not even lying when I say that I can see myself buying the original book, just so I can relive its story all over again.
Life is Strange: Before the Storm - Some stories just aren’t meant to be told. If you’re like me, and after enjoying the imperfect, yet still entertaining Life is Strange, you were probably wondering - how did Chloe make the shift to full-on punk-ho? And more importantly, just who is Rachel Amber? Seems like you’re in luck, as Deck Nine Games is here to answer both of those questions! Wait… what? Yep, for some reason this prequel was developed by an entirely different studio and even the blessing they claimed to have received from DONTNOD Entertainment didn’t help them make a good product. Oh, also, there was a SAG-AFTRA strike, which led to Ashly Burch, Chloe’s original VA, to be unable to reprise her role. That is bad enough on its own, but it gets worse when you realise that none of the reappearing characters got to keep their original voices and as a result, they sound just as bland as nearly all the new characters. As far as technical aspects of the game go, the best thing about this game is that it always launched and worked really smooth, compared to the original game… which is still not enough to compensate for everything else. As for the story… it’s drama upon drama, and none of it is good. I never thought I would say this, but the spat between Chloe and Joyce was the least insulting plotline of them all. I say “insulting”, because… well, we’re in a time when Rachel Amber is still alive. Remember how in the first game everyone loved and missed her dearly, the most beautiful, the most talented, the academically superb Rachel Amber? It seems that was a challenge Deck Nine Games couldn’t step up to, in the end. In turn… they basically created Chloe Price 2.0 before the Chloe we know from the first game even existed. Keep in mind that Max returns to Arcadia Bay after five years of absence - more than enough time for Chloe to make a new friend, even one whom she could deem her new best one. How much time did Before the Storm give them? Three days. You heard me right, those two girls might have had a decent excuse to finally get to know each other better, but apparently the preconceived notions they’ve had about each other for so long were enough for them to know that they’re soulmates within less than a day of hanging out together. (Case in point: there’s a scene in the first episode, where if you express your worries about Joyce, Rachel will answer with “That’s not the Chloe Price I know.” I’m sorry? You’ve “known” her for maybe an hour?) Rachel does some of the exact same things we can see Chloe do to Max in the first game (the previous example counts here as well, not to mention the standoffish demeanor she exhibits when things go wrong). Going off that, there is no way we can now say Chloe’s personality was not shaped by Rachel’s treatment of her. Even more confusingly, Before the Storm does not focus on the buildup to the events of the first game, but rather creates a different problem for Chloe and Rachel to overcome - one that utilizes mostly new characters (which, by the way, you will not have enough time to get invested in and care for) and keeps pulling out the stupidest twists one by one like rabbits out of a magic hat. A seemingly innocent couple, kissing under a tree at a park? Rachel’s dad with a woman she doesn’t recognize. Said woman is…? Her biological mother. Why did he never talk about her? She was a hopeless drug addict, who chose money over her daughter. Is that true? Not really; she kept writing letters to Rachel and voiding the checks from her father. Well, why does Rachel not know about that? Because her father, in the desire to protect her, somehow decided he needs to pay for her biological mother to be killed off by a drug dealer. Say WHAT?! I can’t believe all of that shit is real even as I’m writing it. Also, as an aside to all of that stuff, apparently someone on the writing team decided it would be interesting to give Chloe a childhood friend who seems to have no personality at the start of the game, yet when it’s time, he corners her and proceeds to go full r/niceguy! Deck Nine Games really said “Men are worthless, we can live without ‘em!” It’s a completely pointless development that has no reason to exist. Simply failing to spend time with him doesn’t make Chloe any more of a lesbian or force him into being an incel and for me, the situation during which that scene plays out was already thrilling enough on its own. Speaking of removing men from the picture, I am not against wlw content at all. Yet, since Rachel and Chloe’s “friendship” is so rushed and impossible to believe in, them falling for each other would be even less so. At least I can say that my choices mattered on that front, because at no point was I just forced into kissing Rachel, as opposed to what a certain other game has done in the past. That, and even though I haven’t engaged with many wlw works in the past, I am already deeply sick of the quiet/shy/misunderstood girl x beautiful/perfect/has a rebel streak girl dynamic. It is clearly extremely unhealthy and seeing it play out before my eyes was not entertaining or even adorable. In fact, this whole game made me so upset, I’m pretty sure I had a dream about getting an argument with my mom, which may have become a faint memory as soon as I woke up, but doesn’t erase the fact that I woke up tired. That being said, I will watch out for Life is Strange 2, since that was was written by DONTNOD Entertainment and perhaps avoid Life is Strange: True Colors until it dips in Chloe price eventually.
My Name Is Mayo 2 - Every time I write a piece for a sequel, I go back to see what I said about its prequel and figure out my feelings based on that. Funnily enough, I played the first My Name Is Mayo before I even joined BLAEO, so… there’s a sign of the times, amirite? Well, I also completed both games on PS4 (as well as the Vita, for the first one), but I didn’t mind refreshers. If it were to be stripped of all its flair, My Name is Mayo would just be a simulation of what it’s like to poke a tightly-sealed jar of classic mayonnaise. But to all naysayers I pose the argument that the humor is what makes it worth it. Imagining this exact jar of mayo in all sorts of fever dream situations, coupled with absolutely ridiculous 50s-style art and BGM to match is its own aesthetic. The sequel only improved on what the original game did, bringing some minigames to the table, which in turn give the player a chance to get some more clicks in without just being on the main screen (granted, said player would have to perform poorly). That, and a bunch of cheap, easy and legit achievements, which are attainable at all the in-game milestones never hurt nobody. I recently caught wind of the news that there’s a third (and final!) game in the works, so now I can sit around and twiddle my thumbs as I wait impatiently.
Noir Chronicles: City of Crime - I was really looking forward to playing this one, as I like me some of that 50’s noir vibe. This, however, was a disappointment all across the board. While HOGs are not exactly known for their enthralling storylines (and I’m sure I don’t need to reiterate that, especially to avid players of the genre), this one does nothing to make you care. The villain’s name is also so random that while I forgot it right after, it made me laugh initially, as it felt like whoever came up with it didn’t care either. Present are the creepy, realistic-looking character sprites, bad voice acting (which nobody got credit for… bruh) and one especially obtuse minigame (at least at the very start). Do yourself a favor and avoid this one, if you can.
Picross Touch - With over three hundred official levels and thousands of workshop levels, you can’t go wrong with Picross Touch (especially considering it’s free). I’m just not a big fan of picross in general (as you’ve probably guessed, if you read my posts), so to complete the game, I cheated my way through the official levels and then kept on solving 5x5 levels like a maniac.
Samorost 2 - Gnome is back, and now he has a dog! Well, at first he has to save it from the Aliens. …and then, just as they think their adventure will come to an end, Gnome’s trusty spaceship gives out. Not to worry though, after making a few flying seals fart and pouring a cup of coffee into a taxi driver’s mouth, they arrive home safely! That was a nice game, as nostalgic as it can be for someone who… never really played it in the past. Anyway, on to the third game sometime in the future!
The Ghosts of Hackney Mills - Yet another one of Sapphire Dragon Productions’ mystery-solving RPGMaker games. Once again, I was not interested in trying to digest any of it. All anyone should know about this one is that there’s a lot of listening to spirit messages of people who used to live in the titular Hackney Mills and nearly all of them are foreign men with terrible accents. Glad to be done with that one.
The Walking Dead: A New Frontier - I’m legally not allowed to say I hate this game; it is The Walking Dead, after all. …but I didn’t love it. Although I don’t know where the idea to change protagonists, especially to someone the player doesn’t know at all at that point, came from, it’s not the worst thing about this game. There are a handful of hard-to-read characters, which you have to steer the right way with your choices - not a new thing for Telltale games, of course, but there are two big plot points I was less than happy about. First, Kate trying to get into Javier’s pants, because she thinks that’s what he wants, too. If you’re feeling fancy, you might like what’s happening there, but as sucky as her marriage with David was, I couldn’t see her and Javier becoming a thing. Heck, at a certain point another girl appeared and I was hoping to romance her, but that was written from the ground up to not be possible, so… I digress. Second, the treatment of Clementine. I don’t mind catching up with her through flashbacks, mainly because I don’t know how else one would go about that, but even though I quickly took a liking to Javier, I was still much more interested in Clementine. And because I, like I am sure many other players do, love Clementine just the way she is, I absolutely did not understand the decision to make her care about Gabriel, especially with how unhelpful his constant teenage angst is. Between those two and a sort of failed relationship happening on the side, I’m convinced someone on the writing team really wanted there to be romance for the sake of it. Still, the thought of Final Season coming back to Clementine’s story fills me with anticipation.
Virginia - A first-person, story-based thriller; Virginia follows Anne Tarver, a freshly graduated FBI agent, as she slowly settles into her job, receives a file on her first case and gets assigned to her partner. The opening sequence is grand, as it gently informs you of the fact that the music has been performed by a real orchestra while pretty shots of the in-game town flash by… and then it all goes downhill. As it turns out, a story-based game can’t do much if it insists on not using words (which, you will know if you know me, is also one of my biggest pet peeves). Characters emote, related recollections flash by where applicable, but it’s a struggle to try and make out what the story actually is. Heck, even the few paragraphs of text the game does show you - you might not be able to read them, either because they flash by too fast and/or you realised there isn’t any reading to do in the game, so by the time one of them appears, your brain has turned off completely. Also, if this is supposed to be a thrilling and indulging experience, why on earth do most of the achievements require me to interact with some of the most random items that don’t even seem to be related to any of the important characters, or better yet, go around collecting flowers and feathers? It’s as if the developers made a movie, but then insisted on turning it into a game. Guess what? I think it would have fared better as a movie.
See you next month! :)