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.

If I don’t have anything cool to say, I’m probably playing: Coloring Pixels, Pixel Puzzles Ultimate, WooLoop

For my ABC Challenges, go here: General, Hidden Object Games, Point and Clicks, Visual Novels.

Monthly themes I took part in: May 2019 (actually totally forgot about that one), July 2019, August 2019, May 2020, June 2020, July 2020, March 2023, October 2023, November 2023

See dem sweet Steam stats here.
PlayStation stats are here.


Progress report: January ‘24 (a.k.a. What? Am I, Like, Totally Back In Action Now?!)

…Kind of, yeah! It’d be a lie to say I’m not struggling with some stuff, but things are moving and changing ever so steadily. I found myself a bit of a job and I hope it turns out to have been worth my time. And my gaming progress? Just as steady, guys, and gals, and other configurations of being!

But how steady? I’ll show you:

100 hidden turtles - The color is a nice touch, but the variations in shading the found turtles are ultimately confusing. For some reason, the game launched in a misaligned window at first, which can’t be changed, because the game has no options menu and the cursor is locked to the game… A relaunch fixed that, but considering that I’ve been able to complete all the other games from the series without closing the game and opening it back up again, that seems like a bit of a problem.

Cleaning Girls - I said I’d stop buying these, but then, at some point, I won this one on SG, so I knew I was going to play it sooner rather than later. Some of the girls in this one looked particularly… off.

Crystals of Time - You know… I feel like every HOG has one or two moments where it makes you backtrack to a location that seemed out of the way by that point for a single HOG scene. Meanwhile, this one was all about wandering around locations to find the next random, inexplicable HOG scene waiting to be explored. (And they were always the same! If it felt like you decluttered one of the scenes a bit, tough luck: next time you check it out, it’s going to look the exact same as the first time around.) By itself, maybe that wouldn’t be so bad, but the hint takes a long time to recharge, fast travel is kind of useless on account of featuring only some locations, the silence between the background tracks is too long and the plot is impossible to get into.

Margo - A small point-and-click in which you have to help Margo with her errands after she wakes up from an afternoon nap. Everything seems fairly normal at first, but then it’s revealed that she lives IN SPACE. I don’t even like space that much, but that was really cool to me for some reason. It’s implied that Margo has some kind of mental disorder (cough “vitamins” cough), and it makes me wonder if she’s neurodivergent. Despite being on the spectrum myself, I always feel like it’s not my place to say this, but the overall feeling of this small journey felt, to me, much like one of my own and I liked that. Her repetition of the tidbit about fish and attachment to the overdue textbook really stood out as well. I feel like we could all benefit from being thankful for everything that goes right everyday without us putting in any effort instead of worrying about the things that don’t.

memories - Short VN about the power of memories, especially those tied closely to particular objects. For the main character, it’s the outfits she wore when spending time with her significant other. Some part of me wishes I could say this game did nothing to me, but I just can’t! There’s just something about people falling in love that makes my heart flutter. Although this wasn’t long by any means, I feel like it could be improved by speeding up the text and maybe adding another BGM.

My Name is Mayo 3 - I’ve been crazy overdue! I didn’t even realize until I checked just now, but I first played this game on my PS4 all the way back in September… of 2022. (What even is time, at this point?) Then again, I can’t be too mad at myself, seeing how excited I was for it to come out back when I shared my thoughts about the second game. This time around, there aren’t any minigames to make the clicking go by more smoothly, but there is a brand new, exclusive side to this game that I can’t really say anything about in fear of spoilers, and that’s where some optional minigames come in (I absolutely sucked at them, by the way). In general, this game keeps the wacky and nonsensical humor through and through. I feel like this series ended on a good note and I can’t wait to see what Green Lava Studios is going to come out with next.

Not Anyone’s Business But My Own - Sort of a cross between a choose-your-own-adventure and a visual novel (so, a CYOA game with visuals?) that makes you wonder who you are in relation to the story. I always appreciate voice acting, but sadly, the narrator doesn’t modulate his voice at all and the princess’ VA has a really crappy mic, which is impossible to miss. At the end of the day, still a fun idea.

Pineapple on Pizza - Just ~20 minutes of sheer randomness. This little game really feels like it was made because the devs just felt like it. It’s impossible not to like.

WooLoop - Bonus mention just so I can say that I’m back to playing this game! (Since I completed it before, I’ll keep it in the blue, just like Coloring Pixels.) It finally got enough downloads to be allowed more achievements, so I bought all the packs in bulk (and later, the Science pack, when it came out) and am now working my way through them. Nothing like a biiig cup of coffee, a long video essay or podcast and some casual gaming in the evening ^^

Wordle - I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find this game challenging… but then again, I am an ESL person, so I was fully expecting myself to give up sooner rather than later. It’s a shame that this game is so bland (and at some point, blatantly unsolvable… thankfully that doesn’t extend to achievements).

See you next month! :)

Progress report: December ‘23 (a.k.a. Only Better From Here On Out!)

2023 has been a wild year. Between being in a relationship with a guy who was a terrible match for me and the absolutely shitty process of getting my degree, I feel like something has irrevocably altered the chemistry in my brain. Now, I’m back to being single and a girl I wanted so badly to think of as my best friend decided to show me, once and for all, how dumb that idea was. I waited the last of the year out, but as 2024 rolled in, I decided that I want to do better. I want to show the friends I do have that I care about them, I want to find a job that makes me happy, I want to pick up a new hobby… I want to stop being so negative about life and surrounding myself with people who do nothing but complain. One thing that’s been helping already (perhaps a bit too much) is my new hyperfixation. (Here’s where I say “I’m on the spectrum”, so nobody freaks out over how that sounds.)

And, oh yeah, here’s what I got done this month:

100 hidden birds 2 - Oddly enough, I kept getting distracted by the presence of other animals. …I really have played too many of these games, haven’t I?

4 Seasons Girls - This one’s about a bunch of girls who are either just undressing in a public place or doing that and also possibly freezing their very nude bodies off. I think I’m gonna stop buying these, they’re all too same-y.

Heart’s Medicine - Season One - I originally picked up the sequel, Time to Heal, after seeing a video of it… and didn’t realize it wasn’t the first game in the series. Oops! Even though it’s been so long since then (like… two more years than I initially thought), I’m glad I got to fill in the blanks. It’s also rather easy to tell that it’s a mobile game port, but that doesn’t bother me personally. I’ve got another game from these devs waiting in my backlog, so I’m excited to play it soon (as well as all of their other games! They all look so cool!)

How Buddy’s Parents Met - This one also turned out surprisingly long, much like Alice in Wonderland, although the 60 piece size wasn’t available and the option to highlight a quarter of the puzzle definitely helped me cut down on the playtime. The art for this one was done by the same artist and I still think it’s adorable. Funnily enough, while I was playing, the game received an update that added trading cards and a bonus scene as a thanks to the players and to celebrate its fourth anniversary. I still have a bunch of jigsaw games to get through, so I’ll be downloading the next one now!

Nightmares from the Deep 3: Davy Jones - In the third and final Nightmares from the Deep, it’s time for your daughter to get captured! It’s been so long since I played the previous games, I was about to say she’s doing it again, but nope, that was all you! (I really need to push myself to complete game series faster.) If you’ve played an Artifex Mundi HOG, you may as well have played them all (not that that’s a bad thing, it’s just increasingly difficult to say something new about each one). The theme of this one is rather far from being up my alley. It’s also one of the games that has an achievement for completing the story on Expert mode, which I never do on my first playthrough; time will tell if I get to it by the end of the month. (EDIT: I didn’t… oops!)

See you next month year! I hope you had a good 2023, and if not, I wish you a better 2024! :)

Progress report: November ‘23 (a.k.a. What Is My Life?)

I don’t even know anymore. I haven’t been able to post this in time, because one of the reviews just wouldn’t let me write it and AAAAA…!

So anyway, here we go! :D

100 hidden fish - This one was nice.

Epistory: Typing Chronicles - Y’know… this is a really nice typing game, what with the visuals emulating a world made out of paper, challenging gameplay and a tearjerker story, but… I won’t lie, I made the mistake of not jotting my thoughts down right after I’ve beaten this game. Now, all that’s been eclipsed by the massively annoying bug that halted my progress on a particular achievement. I am, by far, not the only player who encountered this problem, and let it be known, the devs responded to my inquiry and tried toying with my save file, but to no avail, and so, the game stewed in my backlog, eternally marked as beaten. Every once in a while, I’d pop in to check if something fixed itself, but still, no. This month, after noticing the update from May (timely, I know) that claimed to have fixed some bugs, I tried again… and it worked! Now that I think of it all, I can no longer tell how much of it was in my head, knowing that my save file had been tweaked with. (Also, side note, for some reason I was convinced my original playthrough happened in 2018-2019, but apparently it was 2019-2020? Confusion upon confusion.) All I want to say is, if you have been stuck on the same achievement as me (Bug Spray, to be exact), or any other ones (I hear Explorer is troublesome as well, though not so much broken as it is tedious), this is your call to launch the game again and see if you can make some progress.

Five Dates - I’ve been trying to write this review for so long now, but every time, my brain just gets fried and I don’t know what to say. This was a nice FMV, much like other Wales Interactive offerings, with a great cast (it’s always a joy to see someone I’ve seen before, and in this case, it was Georgia Small as Saffron) and a concept that’s easy to wrap your head around (even if I can’t relate to it). I’m looking forward to playing FMVs on my own again.

NEKOKORO - This turned out to be just a generic wish fulfillment story about a guy so self-insert he’s nothing past his name, who gets chosen by three alien catgirls from another world to be their carer. After a short common route, which establishes who they are and why they’re on Earth, you get to choose whose route you want to read, and those end up being shorter than the common route, which isn’t great. Perhaps most importantly, I find it hard to believe that on one hand, these girls come from a civilization intelligent enough to be able to speak all the languages of Earth, but on the other, they marvel at concepts like pizza or the internet. Then there’s also the issue of how shallow it all is; not only do the girls fall for the main character really fast and out of nowhere, they also go for dates to the exact same places (somehow the concept of taking each girl to the same shopping mall to get more of the one thing she’s interested in is just funny to me…) The girls have some nice voice acting, although the script (even after proofreading) is a bit rough around the edges. Whether accidental or not, there are a few memes here and there. When it comes to “indie” art styles, you could do worse than this one; plus, the character models have some subtle animation, which is a nice touch. The BGM consists of a few poppy and cute tracks, which I couldn’t help but be sweet on, since I’ve heard them in another game I like a lot, and now that the credits have directed me to the source, I’m going to say this is, overall, a positive. I’m not against checking out the dev’s later games, but with their prices, it’s probably not going to happen any time soon.

Quickie: Fantasy Adventure - A spin-off of the Quickie series, set in a fantasy world. I’ve heard of these games before, but I don’t look for sexy stuff on Patreon, so I’ve been more than fine not playing them. This one came out on Steam recently and since it’s free, I figured I’ll check it out. It was a short and simple adventure, with each and every girl having an unique role and being equally hot for the main character. Though I can’t say I see myself playing the other game from the series that’s on Steam right now (mainly because it’s got management mechanics and whatnot), this one was fun.

Say No! More - Ever since I first saw screenshots from this game, I knew it had a delightful, Katamari Damacy-esque aesthetic, which automatically makes it something worth checking out in my mind. Lo and behold, I eventually won a code for it on SG, and when the monthly challenge came around, I couldn’t not play it. Right away, I was positively surprised by the fact that you can choose to say “NO!” in a long list of ways, with a male and female variant for each available language, including Polish (although the game itself is not available in Polish - boo!). That was a fun, if odd, contribution to the whole experience. The story is about you - one of the new interns at a huge company - finding it in yourself to say the one, forbidden word - “NO” - and experiencing all kinds of success because of it. I find this game to be a good reminder for all of us today that saying “no” can be healthy and a form of self-care, and that it’s not about refusing everything at all times. Maybe it’s just me not having had a job to be fired from yet, but I find the idea of a world where people are conditioned to say “yes” to have a good life truly scary. The major downside of this game is that it’s so short (and in relation to playtime, rather expensive). It only takes two hours to beat and while a few new things get introduced along the way, none of them are really essential to the gameplay, meaning you could get through the game while almost always doing one and the same thing. It’d be hard for me to say that I got bored with the repetition, because I didn’t, but maybe there could have been something else to do as well. But then… it took six hours of idling to get the “no” count achievements (no way I’d do that manually)… it kind of irks me that that is the only reason for a play time this long.

She Sees Red - A high-production FMV hailing from Russia is not something I ever thought I would play, until this game came along. She Sees Red starts off strong - there’s been a murder at a nightclub and now, a detective is on the case. Follow both the culprit and the detective to the end, and… yeah, about that. A single playthrough lasts about half an hour, which means that when you’re just getting into it, the game cuts and rolls credits. “Okay, so it’s not a feature-length film, what’s the big deal?” Well, maybe that alone wouldn’t have been too bad, but you will not get the whole picture after just one playthrough. Yet, at the same time, there’s not nearly enough variety in the game to warrant more than two playthroughs. Maybe three, if you’re still hoping to dig deeper, or at least patient enough to watch the same scenes again. Not that you’re necessarily forced to watch - there is a skip button, but as far as I know, liberal use may lead to skipping a scene you might not have seen before. (And if you’re a completionist, you’re going to want to see everything for achievements’ sake anyway.) I “got” the story, to an extent, after three playthroughs, I believe, but overall… I really wasn’t a fan of it all. There are a few cool action scenes, if a little too violent just for the sake of it, and Veronika Plyashkevich simply shines as the detective, but ultimately, this game isn’t even worth its base asking price, as low as it is compared to many others. Also, a short behind-the-scenes video, while not made to include any talking heads or interviews, is left untranslated… just a tiny oversight.

You, With Me - Maybe it’s just been a little too long since I played a VN from Afterthought Studios, but I can’t help but wonder how anyone could write a few okay stories and then come out with such a steaming pile of shit. No, really, this is bad, with a capital B. You, With Me is a story of Jacob and Lisa, an ex-pat couple living in Singapore, who dream of going on vacation to Sapporo. These dreams come crushing down when Jacob’s stomachache turns out to be cancer. The developers claim that this story is based on “(an) experience with a cancer patient”, in which case, I’m truly sorry to the person in question. It’s a kinetic novel, meaning there are no choices to be made, which isn’t bad in and of itself, as long as it has an interesting story to tell, and You, With Me does not. You just read about these people eating breakfast, going for medical check-ups, arguing every so often, then going to bed, rinse and repeat with small changes. Between the story being so ordinary and boring, and the writing style betraying the fact that whoever’s responsible isn’t a native English speaker, there was neither anything to make the reader invested in Jacob’s condition improving or make them wish he gives up on everything; no stakes, no intrigue, not even a single random piece of trivia to make someone say they know, now that they’ve finished reading. The game is also a mess from a technical standpoint - character sprites appear on top of each other, speaker names are mixed up (one of the characters straight up has an entirely different name when speaking, and it’s not even remotely similar to their actual name!), text isn’t properly split between boxes, so at times, characters end up saying so much in one box that it doesn’t even fit on the screen, and last, but not least, the music is so sparse, it feels like an anomaly when it does play. If you’re somehow still considering playing this one, I recommend you purge it.

See you… in, like, less than two weeks…

Progress report: October ‘23 (a.k.a. It Was Blood!)

…get it? Because it’s Spooktober? Ha, yeah, I know I’m funny.

This year’s Spooktober was particularly bland, as I didn’t get to any of the longer horror games that have been sitting in my backlog (Like my next Corpse Party game! Criminal, for a fan such as I!), and thus don’t consider myself sufficiently spooked. That being said, I’d like to think I played a wide enough assortment of smaller horror or Halloween-adjacent titles… so let’s jump bite in! that was a vampire joke

100 hidden rams - It was… okay, I guess.

Ann - Rong Rong is one of those creators I couldn’t tell you how I initially discovered (might have been his Danganronpa in a Nutshell animation, as unfortunate as that is), but when I learned he was releasing an RPGMaker horror game, an homage to the likes of Ib, Mad Father and The Witch’s House, I knew I had to play it. (I ended up playing it over two years after its release… but still.) Now that I’m done with it, my opinion’s mixed. The pixel art is gorgeous, the animated cutscenes are a nice touch and the music is good (though some tracks are louder than others, which was distracting), but the story is rather lacking. Many negative reviews are saying it’s blatantly ripping off Ib (which I can’t confirm or deny, as I’ve last watched a playthrough years and years ago), but I also noticed the influence of Corpse Party (all the way down to the soundbite that plays when a spirit appears). I want to say that that in itself isn’t really bad (well, maybe the degree to which it was “inspired” by Ib sounds bad), but the story definitely isn’t this game’s strongest suit. Coupled with the task of descending from the highest floor, which quickly reveals itself to be formulaic, I can see why people disliked this game. On the other hand, though, I can’t help but wonder how high the expectations are for such a short, free game (and the first one from its developer). I will say, though, that the spotty reliability of the autosave system annoyed me as well, especially on my way to the true ending. Why are you autosaving at the branch that leads to a different ending?! I’ve seen that one already!

Annie and the Art Gallery - As much as I was hoping to disagree with the negative reviews… this game really is a lot like Ann. There’s likely something profound to be said here about what is or isn’t merely an inspiration and how the influence of the previous work(s) dilutes the new ones so much so that they struggle to find their own voice… but I don’t think I’m qualified enough to be the one who says it, so I’ll just focus on talking about this game! You play as Annie, a girl who finally got a ticket to see the new art exhibit. There, she meets Brendan, the author of most, if not all, art being exhibited. He invites her to the back of the gallery… and that’s where it all kicks off. Trust me, you’ll be as taken aback as just about everyone else to learn, unprompted, that Annie has fire powers of unknown origin. While making your way through the secret corridors of the gallery, you’ll see the narrative get flipped on its head, though I can’t say I cared much for that part of the story (meaning I pretty much checked out halfway through the game). The writing could use some work - Annie reacts by saying “What the heck?” too often, which gets even worse considering the latest patch note has claimed to have “significantly reduced the amount of swearing”. The art is cute; with its thick outlines and general roundness, it’s hard to describe it as anything else than that. It’s also why I like the easter egg of paintings of characters from other games that have inspired this one; it’s essentially the dev doing fanart for all those games. After you beat the game, there’s a “hard mode” available, providing some more backstory… and that’s the reason I’ve still only beaten this game. Finding all the collectibles is one thing, that’s annoying enough all on its own, but… I just kept failing to dodge a bloody piece of paper that zooms around a certain room and kills you if you touch it (yes, really) and I wasn’t willing to bother at the moment. To sum it up, it’s a good game to play if you’ve already played all the RPGMaker greats (and Ann). I bet the extended backstory isn’t even freaking worth it.

Blameless - It only took me four years to stop being scared of the mere threat of a jumpscare! I spent almost half an hour trying to play this, then chickening out, because ooo, so spooky (lol). This is a story about a freelance architect who takes on a project and gets knocked out on its grounds. Who was the man in charge of the project? Why did he knock the main character out? Is there anything really being built? Well… the game ends before any kind of story can be established, but hey, I can finally say I played it!

Disturbed - I kept putting playing this one off for years now, but since it’s tagged as Horror, I figured I might as well play it for Spooktober and, well… the spookiest thing is how little story there is. You play as a nameless farmer, living in a world clearly tormented by some kind of plague, who finally decides to take action. Most of your choices are going to end in death, which I didn’t mind; on the contrary, that was the most entertaining part of it all. Then, there are two different ways in which you can truly finish your adventure. I’ll say, I wasn’t really into the actual story, so I just used a guide to get those two endings (and the last death one).

Ghost in the Pool - The first truly creepy VN of my Spooktober, Ghost in the Pool is a story of a certain high school in China, plagued by the rumor of one of its students having drowned in its indoor pool after using it at night during the holidays. Our heroine, Yaru, doesn’t really seem to believe it… or maybe she can’t let herself believe, depending on your choices. Either way, swimming is her one joy in life, so she wants to make sure she’s ready for her next competition. Is there any truth to the rumor? And if so, what is it like? That’s for you to discover! I liked the comic art style and the detail with which the many things that were “off” were portrayed, as well as the soundtrack, even though at times it was too sparse for my liking. The “gamification” of this story, which is officially stated to have been released as a comic already, however, is very apparent. The only thing the scene exploration gimmick gives the player is a bunch of flavor text, which may have been a nice touch for players who already know the comic, but if so, why not just translate the comic? The game also runs on an engine I don’t recognize, which means that despite having some QoL stuff that other (cough made in Unity cough) modern VNs don’t have, such as a backlog and a flowchart, it’s not as comfortable to play as it would have been, had it been made using an engine built for VNs.

Home - I’ll be honest: this is the third platform I bought this game for, and with its three different endings (each of which requires playing the game in full, mind you), I would have completed this game, what, nine times now? It’s a little much, so when I noticed that someone’s made a guide on how to edit your save file to place yourself right before the ending, I got right on it… except I still didn’t get one of the achievements that requires a trigger which happens earlier in the story, so now I’m kinda stuck, because I don’t want to play this game anymore, but I don’t know how to edit the variables to find myself right before that trigger (trust me, I tried). The game’s just not worth all this trouble.

Incredible Dracula: Chasing Love Collector’s Edition - I started this on a whim years ago (not even on October! how dare I?!), and thought to finally sit down and play it in full. I haven’t played a clear-the-road game in a while, so some of these complaints might be unreasonable. First, the setup to the story kinda stinks. “Dracula just wanted to date a hot vampire countess, but a fat, ugly princess started chasing him instead!” That’s the kind of joke people would have laughed at twenty years ago. Thankfully, that fades into the background quickly enough, as pretty much every new level, there’s a different character asking Dracula for a favor and he’s always just as, if not more annoyed than before to have to go through with it if he wants to continue with his adventure. I played on Casual/Relaxed difficulty, as I always do, and I’m glad to have been late to this game, as apparently, achievements were locked on that difficulty for some time after the initial launch. As for the gameplay… I think the queueing is better than in other games? While some put the cap at three or five actions, here you can technically queue as many actions as you want, as long as the path to them isn’t blocked. Your minions walk and work rather slowly, and maybe it’s just my luck, but most times I used the time-limited booster, I felt it lasted for a rather short time (and thus didn’t let me get much done). Eventually, permanent speed boosts are unlocked… but you can only have one or the other on at any given time. Why? Why do I have to keep swapping the moment the minions start doing something else? There’s plenty of space on the screen! Same thing with the boosts that yield an additional piece of wood/stone after removing wood/stone obstacles. With all the switching you have to do on the fly, I’m convinced this game is a nightmare on any of the higher difficulties. One of the chargeable boosts that eventually unlocks is a single-use automatic level up for all buildings, which is super useful, as the requirements for upgrading buildings to level 3 get ridiculous, but I felt it unlocked too late. Even when doing my best to use all boosters to my advantage and not leave much empty air between actions, I guess I wouldn’t be good enough for this game on higher difficulties, as right before ending many of the later levels, I was stuck waiting to collect enough of a resource (cough tools cough) needed to unlock the final thing. I would think that’s one thing you don’t want to experience in this type of game, because it absolutely kills the momentum and doesn’t make you feel like you’ve upgraded at all, but oh well. Last, but not least, gold. At some point, you get the ability to synthesize stone into gold (especially useful if there’s no bank in a level). This was a nice way to get a bunch of gold quickly, but… the achievement for collecting 5k units of gold is still locked… I completed the bonus adventure and it’s still locked… I could have sworn I changed all the stone into gold near the end of most, if not all levels since I got the ability to do it, how much more can I be missing? As it turns out, I had to sit in a level for about an hour and a half (just about as much time as it would take me to complete five new levels earlier) to get enough gold for it to unlock. I couldn’t give you the exact amount, ‘cause eventually I got bored enough to play the level until completion, but it must have been about a thousand units, if not more. Call me lazy… but I think that’s crazy.

Interactive Horror Stories - A collection of seven short horror stories from a single author, though I’m honestly not sure it needed the video game treatment. There is no real reason these wouldn’t work as a blog post one could jump back and forth on, until “Ouija”, where you get to interact with an ouija board for a bit; thing is, that’s the very last story, and unless you were reading them out of order, you might not even get to it if you’re a particularly fussy reader. Other than that, the game has sparse visuals and sound effects, as well as no BGM. The stories themselves are unable to instill any kind of genuine fear because they overexplain the mundane and underexplain the supernatural. With some more practice, and a better translation, perhaps the author will improve. Another important thing to mention is the lack of content warnings; writing quality aside, there is no way to be prepared for what’s to come. (My personal worst offender is in After Funeral - the ghost of your beloved son makes contact with you, asking for you to resurrect him, but if you don’t cooperate… he says he’s going to rape your passed wife? The same one who passed while giving birth to him? Presumably, he reacts like that, because your lack of trust makes him turn evil in the blink of an eye, but still, it’s tone-deaf, disgusting and absolutely uncalled for.) There’s also Evil Beneath the Ground, a story featuring maybe the worst fictional vampire I’ve ever witnessed. (Why does he have to behave like a serial killer?! Vampires have a bunch of cool powers they can use to their advantage!) But yeah, I consider myself lucky enough that I don’t have any trauma per se, but I am all for turning people away from works that could make them remember their own trauma.

Itchy Scratchy - Well… I managed to play it three times in the span of three minutes, so that’s something. It may be worth mentioning that despite being described as a “shock” title on its store page, this game doesn’t contain any jumpscares or realistic violence. The dev sets you up for disappointment, saying the duration of the game “will leave you dissatisfied”, so… yeah, it’s hard to say anything else about it.

Let’s Split Up - I decided to play this one because it had the Horror tag on VNDB. Well, turns out it doesn’t play that big of a role in the whole game, but since only one person had rated it before and cared to give it some tags, there wasn’t anyone to say otherwise. Still, this might be one of the better games I’ve played this month. In Let’s Split Up, you play as Iris, who is currently on her way to a beach vacation with her boyfriend Brad, her best friend Gemma, and Gemma’s boyfriend, Chris. After driving up a mountain, their car breaks down and suddenly, they’re stuck in Luna Mountain - a mysterious, seemingly abandoned town… or is it? The main characters decide to do the one thing you should never do in a situation they’re in - split up! - and that’s where the story really starts. The game is advertised to have a whopping 24 endings, which may seem daunting at first, but after reaching my first ending, I realized it’s really not that many. Why, you might ask? It’s because Let’s Split Up doesn’t take anything seriously. It’s a delightfully tropey romp, where your choices change the story on the fly. Did you have fun spending time with Chris instead of Brad? Watch out, Brad might say the same about him and Gemma. Did you abandon Gemma and Chris on the run from a mysterious shadowy figure? Don’t worry, they’ll turn it around on you. Think you found a nice place to stay until you can figure out why your car is broken? Think again! Or don’t, since the house magically keeps giving you everything you need to survive. These are just a few of the wacky scenarios you can put these four in. I can’t lie, I loved every bit of it. Let’s Split Up may not have shaken the world of gaming (or even just VNs), but it did what it set out to do amazingly. To top it off, it’s got some good music and an art style that really stands out - something that would probably remind most people of a kid’s drawings, yet so detailed and consistent (the characters’ crazy faces are something else). I realize that the comparison to “child” drawings sounds like a jab rather than a compliment, but I do mean it to be a positive; it’s stood out to me because of that ever since I got it, and it likely will continue to do so years later. Oh, and there’s also a handy guide that comes with the game! I could have saved myself from trying to make one if I had remembered that. The two small things that happened while I played this could probably be easily fixed, if the devs cared to do so: first, do not launch this game at full volume. It is ear-splittingly loud by default, for reasons unknown. Nobody is talking about it in the discussions though, so I can’t say whether that’s just my problem or not. Second, for some reason this game contains no rollback to title screen, so after you get an ending, you’re forced to close the game and launch it again to play more, so expect to annoy that one friend with constant pop-ups about how you just can’t stop playing this one game, for some reason! So, if you know what you’re getting into… dare I say it’s a… hidden gem?

My Friend is a Raven - This game could not have been less user-friendly if it tried. The moment I launched it, it was running at only a few frames per second, which is never a good sign. Setting the graphics to Low yielded twenty-something FPS, but then the game crashed a minute or two later. After a few more tries, I gave up. Then, I figured I might as well try running it on another PC, and although the performance problem was the same, sans the crashing, that is why I am now able to say I completed this game. The story? A mysterious, plague mask-donning man wishes to converse with his raven friend, one last time. Depending on how much you explore before walking out onto the balcony, their encounter can play out in four different ways. There is one review, which may seem out of left field, especially considering that the author does not elaborate further past their initial analysis, but having made a similarly outlandish comparison in my Japanese literature class, I can’t help but see where it came from. As for the developer, they made Choo-Choo Charles, so in terms of horror games, I guess they’re off to bigger and better (?) pastures. It seems I’ve wishlisted their other two free games, though, so who knows…?

PARADISE CLEANING -Sister x Slaves- - Denizens of BLAEO, rejoice, for I have finished the PARADISE CLEANING franchise! This one is, uh… to be honest, I tuned out while playing it. I like the artistic choice of making the characters’ eyelashes a bundle of messy lines. Other than that, it’s just a supplement to another machine-translated VN from the same studio (they’re not even bothered enough to change the main menu image after the game actually releases). And now, yet another game is set to come out in “English”, so time will tell if this is really, truly over… [Edit: It’s not.]

PROJECT: Halloween - A VN-style monologue of an AI created to ensure that everybody enjoys Halloween (Poland could sure loosen up about it). Despite being a game jam creation, it’s fully voiced (and even includes an ending song!), which is rare for indie VNs as it is. My problem, especially considering how recently I realized its importance to me personally, is the character’s generic hairstyle. You showed a bunch of concept art in the credits, half of those hairstyles would have been much more memorable!

Serena - It’s really hard for me to have any kind of opinion on this game that isn’t influenced by the technical side of things. This game doesn’t feature any kind of settings screen or any other menu, so the moment you launch it, you’re thrown right into the story… which would be okay, if the game knew to adapt to the device it’s being played on. Instead, you might lose all your progress at any time by pressing Esc (‘cause no one told you that’s what it’d do!) or get stuck at one point, because the game can’t account for your screen resolution? Then, digging around the forums will bring you to a topic or two where the dev himself is explaining to players how to make the game launch in windowed mode (by modifying a text file), in hopes that works. Well, it didn’t work for me. I’m just glad I had another laptop to try this out on - it worked there. Now, I can finally say I played it. Can’t say it was worth all that trouble, though. (Unless, maybe, you like PushingUpRoses - she voices the titular Serena!)

Suspicious Downpour - A 48-hour game jam creation that promises “a short comedy horror experience” and sure enough, it delivers. Don’t expect to bust your gut laughing, though. (This sounds mean - I didn’t dislike it!)

TELEFORUM - A neat little analog horror (I’m hip with the trends, I swear!) that I managed to get to relatively early (Like, a week after release! That’s early enough, right?) and… well, I didn’t expect it to be a visual novel. For once, maybe I’m not terribly mad that it wasn’t created in a dedicated engine, because it looks great and plays smoothly, no complaints to be had. The real problem is that my first playthrough took about 25 minutes, and I couldn’t believe that’s how short the game was. So I played it again, because there had got to have been more to this, and to some extent, there was! O-kay… I’ve exhausted most choices, played the game twice, but still only have half of the achievements… so I pushed through the third time, and at that point, I was only really getting flavor text. After that, I peeked at a guide and as it turned out, I was only missing some miscellaneous stuff here and there. One of the achievements is awarded for playing the game for 2 hours, with a description that - stop me if I sound crazy - makes a classy jab at Steam’s return policy, and it is most likely this achievement that will cap off your journey through this game, as it would have mine, had I not made a mistake while going for the one annoying achievement that I missed along the way. All in all, I loved the setup, but I’m sad to say nothing really comes out of it - after half an hour of investigative work, the game just… ends. It’s as if the devs were told “go girl, give us nothing!” and took it as a challenge. It’s about as terrifying as The Blair Witch Project, if viewed nowadays.

The Fan - The Fan is… not an FMV, first of all, so if anyone told you that: I am sorry, you were lied to. It’s more of a point-and-click, I suppose; one about “The Fan”, a serial killer who has recently kidnapped another victim. What’s more intriguing is that you’re not placed in the shoes of the victim, but the killer. To me, the game ended just as it seemed to be picking up; in the first two chapters, you’re tasked with collecting significant items from the victim’s house, then her fiancee’s house, and then, just when you think something deeply fetishistic and utterly repulsive is going to happen… the game just ends. That being said, the set design is repulsive and gruesome enough by itself, which becomes insulting upon realization that most of it is just that - set dressing, environmental storytelling devoid of a story one couldn’t deduce from the premise alone. While close-up shots of many of the random items that serve no real purpose are less than ideal, the few shots of the victim being actively abused look rather realistic, to the point that I’m glad for the credits, lest we’d think this was a game-ified account of a true hostage situation. That being said, I still find it worrisome that this game was able to launch thanks to Steam Greenlight…

The Grandfather - The world is full of stories that employ metaphors so obvious anyone could understand them. Less so, stories that employ less obvious ones, which, in turn, encourage consumers to analyze the text and share their thoughts with others. Then, there’s just stories that are absolute nonsense, lacking even the tiniest sliver of entertainment or even engagement. To me, The Grandfather is one of those stories. Maybe the real story is not “that deep” or anything, but because it is obfuscated by a crude art style and obtuse puzzles, I was not on board. Additionally, I find it insulting that there’s a “DLC” containing just the story copied from the game (not even an explanation of anything) and the still images from the game (“wallpapers”; yeah, right). This game became free for a reason.

Witch College - The one thing that motivated me to play this now, instead of who-knows-when, was the promise of a witch girl (and a Halloween school dance, I guess). Both of these things turned out to be neatly hidden behind the most generic, anime-influenced story possible about a nice guy who’s the only relevant male character, as all the women love him for little to no reason. (Did I mention he’s nice?) The whole mystery of “who’s the witch?” is basically nonexistent; the game desperately tries to convince you it’s one of the girls, so it’s that much more obvious it’s actually the other one. The sex scenes in this 30 minute long VN come out of nowhere and feel more like the devs are checking off a box than anything else; they’re not even worth sliding your pants down for. The only reason I spent almost 2 hours on this game was that after getting both endings in the main game and reading both bonus stories (the main character had to bone all the women in the game, trust me), I was led to believe there should be something more, considering that the CG gallery still had a page and a half that were left blank. Because there are no guides for this game anywhere, I choose to assume that it’s a programming mistake nobody bothered to fix. Speaking of which, these devs get a “poo-poo” rating from me for using a less-standardized engine (and therefore, bad). Fix the CG gallery! Fix the random freezing! Fix the unskippable credits! Who am I kidding? They’ve long since moved on from this.

And now, I shall be moving on from this. See you next month! :)

Progress report: September ‘23 (a.k.a. Winding Down…)

By now, my thesis is done and submitted (it’s almost like they had to make that a headache too), so all I need to do is come back for my final exam, and then… I can say I’ve graduated from uni! On one hand, it didn’t feel real, but on the other, I wasn’t as moved as I thought I’d be. Just… that was how it should be. No more stress.

Here’s what I completed in the midst of all that:

100 hidden cups - I can see why people dislike this one. What you’re looking for may resemble cups, but the art style makes this one look like a sloppy job.

A Short Hike - As an update from my original post, now that I’ve actually tried out some Animal Crossing, I can say that this is, for sure, giving a similar vibe. That’s what the cute little animals do. They heal hearts.

Alice in Wonderland - a jigsaw puzzle tale - Somebody please tell me I accidentally idled this one for half the time, ‘cause I cannot believe I spent nearly 50 hours on a single jigsaw puzzle game! Then again… I love me some Alice in Wonderland. This game features cute art of some of the beats from the story, as well as relevant quotes. (The artist is credited in each and every piece, too! Thought that was a nice touch.) What kept me playing it for so long were all the available sizes: 60, 135, 240, 375 and the absolutely monstrous 735 pieces. I will say, though, that there is a handy option I wish I had discovered sooner, which lets you toggle between highlighting not only the border pieces, but also a chosen fourth of the rest of the image. That might have cut down my playtime somewhat, but hey, what’s done is done and I’m not complaining. I have almost all other jigsaw games from this dev (just learned they have a Halloween-themed one coming out soon!) and they look just as cute as this one, so I might start another one soon.

Paradise Cleaning!- Sexual Massage shop -AKARI- - This one gave me a weird feeling. I shouldn’t be looking at this… Well, the theme is visiting a massage parlor to destress and getting a surprise sexy service… I’m not a fan of the weird artistic choice of making the main character’s skin look grey. I get that it’s probably to make you focus on the girl, but still, ew.

The Walking Dead: The Final Season - The Final Season came to Game Pass, so I thought “You know what? Might as well play it before my sub runs out!” And I did! In comparison to my initial thoughts: I’m still disappointed about the fact that half of the new cast doesn’t get nearly enough screentime (Omar is literally just “the cook”), but at the same time, Louis might have grown on me even more than he initially did. He is the little sunshine Clem deserves and I am so happy for them. Funny how that changes! Still, I feel like it would be great to have an option to make her aromantic (compare to Life is Strange 2, where you’re not only presented with that option, but also allowed to not engage with either potential love interest). And at the end of the day, I find the ending still reeks of wish fulfillment… (yes, AJ cut Clem’s leg, but how did she make her way back to Ericson’s? I find it hard to believe he could have helped her get up and through the hole in the roof, and if you get James killed, as far as you’re concerned, nobody else knows about the barn…) …unless someone has found a way to explain it? On the technical side of things, I was following a guide this time around, so I had a much easier time getting all the missable achievements, but…! If future Telltale titles go back to the old format, it will be more than fine if they still only feature a scene select, but on the off chance that they keep following this trend, I would really like a way to replay these scenes in isolation. I am spoiled by DONTNOD and I am not ashamed to say it. (lol) Side note: I was also pissed at a few of the missables the first time around, because I was playing with a controller. By now, I’ve gotten myself a mouse, so that helped immensely (had to borrow one to complete the Steam version). Still somewhat apprehensive of the idea of a PS4 replay just because of those missables alone…

What’s that about ketchup? Oh. Oh, you don’t think that’s ketchup…

Continued next week!

Progress report: August ‘23 (a.k.a. Getting Down To Business!)

By the time August rolled around, I knew I had to pull myself together if I wanted my thesis to be done in time. And I did! In the meantime, I also got into the routine of playing on Game Pass after a good day’s work. It felt like one of the things that kept me sane throughout that time.

But what did I complete? Let’s see:

  • 100 hidden aliens

    0.0 hours playtime

    100 of 100 achievements

  • DC League of Super-Pets: The Adventures of Krypto and Ace

    3.2 hours playtime

    15 of 15 achievements

    GAME
    PASS

  • IMMORTALITY

    16.5 hours playtime

    27 of 27 achievements

    GAME
    PASS

  • Otaku's Fantasy

    5.0 hours playtime

    no achievements

  • The Big Con

    9.9 hours playtime

    52 of 52 achievements

    GAME
    PASS

  • TOEM

    5.7 hours playtime

    48 of 48 achievements

    GAME
    PASS

  • Venba

    2.2 hours playtime

    15 of 15 achievements

    GAME
    PASS

  • Viki Spotter: The Farm

    0.3 hours playtime

    298 of 298 achievements

100 hidden aliens - Thought I was going to be writing about how this one was a tad harder, because “what really is an alien?”, but then I completed it in 4 minutes. The BGM for this one was really bad.

DC Super-Pets: The Adventures of Krypto and Ace - Outright Games want your attention once again, and this time, it’s superhero dogs. But not Paw Patrol, though they have made four games about those dogs already. It’s Krypto and Ace, featuring a few other animals and it seems kinda ridiculous, unless you actually read the comics. That being said, I don’t. I still haven’t even seen the movie this game was based on! Yikes. Anyway, this is just a fly-and-shoot. What was this genre called again? I won’t lie, I was terrible at playing this. I even thought I was going to have to grind for the A rank achievement, but then it popped in one of the last levels, ‘cause they’re just that long and full of enemies, I guess? I dunno, they’re supposed to be harder, yet they’re saying I was good, how does this even add up? Oh well. Between the levels, you can also upgrade your stats and take care of the animals you find to put them up for adoption later. It’s a small thing, but it’s something. In true Outright Games fashion, however, this game’s kinda borked. Nothing game-breaking on my end, but the fact that I had to use a DS3 mimicking an X360 controller (when my DS4 was connected, the game would push the cursor into the corner of the screen) is pretty out there. This is hard to recommend, unless you feel like turning your brain off for an hour at a time and are good with these shooty games?

IMMORTALITY - Have you ever been reminded of someone famous… someone popular enough to have had a steady career in the past, but who’s currently out of the public eye? They haven’t passed away… so where are they now? That’s exactly what cinema lovers have been wondering about Marissa Marcel. Well, okay, let’s rewind. Her career was less than stable; she starred in three movies in the span of 30 years, but more importantly, none of them ever saw a public release. They were thought to be lost or destroyed… until now. Now, you can take the chance to scrub through hours’ worth of footage from all three movies and learn what truly happened to Marissa Marcel. After Telling Lies, which I didn’t find all that interesting, I’m happy to say that Sam Barlow and Half Mermaid Productions absolutely knocked it out of the park with this one. While my interest in the FMV genre was originally sparked by the doofy-looking 80s/90s games, which had no shot at being taken seriously when played nowadays, this game might just be the best FMV that takes itself (and in turn, is taken) seriously yet. It’s a compilation of three movies, all so vastly different in their themes and so, so indie (though the last one seems like the kind to get a more mainstream following, or at least a resurgence in popularity years later) that they are begging to be watched. This was a big project and it shows (I have yet to listen to a podcast episode about the game I found recently, but from its description alone: each movie had a different writer!). I can’t say I’m a big movie lover myself (or at least, not as big as I would like to be), but I loved seeing different stages of production being emulated here; castings, table reads, location scoutings - it all looked and felt so real. The gameplay was incredibly smooth - sure, if you wanted to discover more of one particular movie, you’d probably want to highlight something that often appears again, but if not, no problem - you’ll get transported to a matching scene from one of the other movies and it never feels like you’ve missed anything. The only gripe I have with this game is, if you want to discover everything, it might take a little longer. I mean it when I say you might have seen everything, but not everything. If it weren’t for a guide, I would have had to spend even more time rechecking the footage; that was the one thing killing the momentum. But in the end, it wasn’t enough to sour my experience; as of now, IMMORTALITY is officially my favorite game I played this year.

Otaku’s Fantasy - This was a gift from a friend who I’m not even sure wants to keep in touch anymore? (No idea what’s going on, still haven’t asked him directly…) Anyway, he gifted me one or two nudie games in the past, because “sex haha”. Despite having had this in my backlog for a while, I somehow wasn’t expecting to be writing about an actual nukige on BLAEO, but now that I finished it, here we go! This one, correct me if I’m wrong, was made by one of those companies known for their low-budget works. Combine that with the SakuraGame “localization” (yes, I am officially a fraud) and you get the most mediocre fap material ever. The English title doesn’t even have anything to do with the plot, nobody in-universe is an otaku; it’s more like a prediction of “ah, yes, our clients are otaku and so they will surely love this”. Even though I don’t engage with explicit content often, I still have my preferences and this game did not fit within any of them. However, if being a guy whose only asset is his big dick (which he naturally gets to use with five different women) sounds like a fine setup to you and you don’t mind a poor translation (which, while comprehensible, is at times immersion-breaking), then this might just be the right next addition to your fap folder.

The Big Con - So, kid, ya feel like livin’ in the 90’s… as a con artist? Well, don’t let me stop ya, cause I wasn’t even around back then! This was a really cool game, just based on the merits of not being strictly one of the few genres I tend to play, but still having a pretty chill feel to it. I admit I was interested in this game the moment I heard about the cast (I could have sworn this used to be a marketing point! …or maybe I’m thinking of a different game), but that charm mostly goes away when the realization that it’s all partial voice acting sets in… The music’s pretty great, especially considering that some tracks have a few different arrangements to fit different kinds of stores you can enter. Most of the game consists of pickpocketing people, which is just one and the same action over and over, but I didn’t see that as a… con… heh. It’s easy, but you might still fail it from time to time and life goes on. If you happened to pickpocket someone you need to talk to for story reasons, you can always just put on a disguise you found lying around and they’ll reset; basically, the game will not softlock you. Heck, you could even change the settings so that you pickpocket people automatically. Talk about accessibility! The story feels a lot like a movie made in the 90’s, which shouldn’t be surprising, but I’m glad I can say that overall, I liked it, considering there are some kinds of American 90’s movies that are just very hit-or-miss for me. There’s a beginning, which establishes the goal, some initial confusion, learning the ropes, getting comfortable… and I’ll stop myself there, before I spoil anything. For that accessibility mention, there’s also a minigame which you can play at a few different locations to earn money and the scores you need for that are totally doable, but then there are two achievements for getting a much higher score, which may seem daunting, but the devs have implemented a setting that makes you invincible and that, in turn, makes reaching that score a total breeze. Now, what I didn’t like… there are a few visual errors, which, at times, make the dialogue scenes look like poorly made MovieStarPlanet movies, and I wish I was kidding, but that’s exactly the vibe. Thankfully none of that is game-breaking, so this remains the tiniest of nitpicks. A bigger one is that you only get one save slot. While you’re playing, this isn’t really an issue, ‘cause there’s nothing to save and load for except when you need to quit the game. After you’re done with a playthrough and you realize you’ve missed an achievement tied to something optional, though, you can only load at the last cutscene (and keep earning all the money you got in the last level endlessly, I presume), so you’re essentially forced to delete your save and start all over again… which is fine, ‘cause you can do it without closing the game, but then it didn’t want to load for me again until I closed and ran it again… so that just doesn’t make sense. Also, the “extras” menu is just the credits again, set to a whole new song. Don’t get me wrong, I love the song, but… really? There wasn’t anything cool to put in there? ‘Cause I find that hard to believe. Overall, I played this almost three times because of the achievements that I missed previously, but that’s just a testament to how easy and fun this game is; I didn’t need to pick up a walkthrough until I realized I could have worn the funny glasses to deconcentrate that one guy. (Side note: The devs have made an official one here! Accessibility triumphs, once again!)

TOEM - This was a cute little game where you play as an, uh… whatever this character is supposed to be, and your nana introduces you to the world of photography. In a Scribblenauts-like fashion, you get to run around a bunch of different places, solving people’s problems just by taking the right photos, all the way up to the mysterious TOEM… not gonna spoil you on what that is! Despite the black-and-white, this is a chill game with a cute art style and gentle indie music. I really liked the level design because of the fact that you can turn nearly every level all the way around; the fact that it’s necessary for navigation aside, this is a really cool feature, considering that most other games would instead have invisible walls, dead ends or prevent the player from jumping at will. The Game Pass version includes the DLC level for free and I have a small problem with that: a “nap” mechanic is introduced and upon taking a nap, you can switch between day and night at will. This has a solid purpose, but the map is so easy to complete that it feels like it was conceived purely as a means to extend the playtime; feeling like you’re continuously napping all over the map instead of just having fun with no interruption was a tad annoying. Other than that, this was a nice game to relax with and I would gladly replay it on another platform.

Venba - In contrast to A Taste of the Past, Venba was made, in a sense, for everyone, and it shows. It is a love letter to Indian cuisine and a humbling one, especially for me, as not only do I not know anything about Indian cuisine, I just don’t know how to cook in general. At the same time, it’s not punishing, because it is Venba. It may be a little bitter, because it shows a glimpse into the life of an immigrant family and the divide between generations (again, not something I can discuss from personal experience), but what’s important is that it ends with love and understanding. Now I can only wonder how well I would be able to reproduce the dishes in real life.

Viki Spotter: The Farm - This one… had more achievements. Oh yeah. Welp, it was also the last one I could get for this cheap, so I guess that’s it for the Viki Spotter games for now.

Ketchup? Next week.

Progress report: July ‘23 (a.k.a. Life Comes At You Fast!)

…and it came for me, too!
Why did I not post this on time? By now, my classes were over, but I still wasn’t done with my thesis, so… I started… working on it… bit by bit… and kept missing reviews for a few games, still.
So, what was on the agenda in July? Here’s your answer:

100 hidden cats 2 - Dangit, I feel like I could have completed this one with a single pan down the screen.

Disneyland Adventures - This game is a breakthrough of the old days. I mean, have you ever wanted to visit Disneyland (circa 2012) from the comfort of your own home? Well, now you can! It used to be a Kinect game, which I guess would have been a good way to get the young ones to move around, but now it’s also available on Game Pass (and on Steam), completely playable like any regular ol’ game. I don’t have the money or the mental strength to ever go to a Disneyland, so this seemed like the game for me. In the end, though, it was kind of… meh. It’s a well-made game, it really is, but the way it’s structured makes you want to go through all tasks of one kind at once. For example, you’re going to want to finish all character missions first, so the game isn’t trying to steer you to the next mission while you’re exploring somewhere else. Other character interactions won’t really happen organically either, as you’re going to want to fill out all the autograph books (and if you don’t like a character all that much, why would you want their autograph, right?) So after all those missions, there are also the many rides. A few of them are just carousels for smaller children, which… I appreciate the effort, but why would you emulate that in a game in the first place? Then there’s the actual bulk of the game - virtual depictions of rides like it’s a small world, Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain and many more. These, I feel, had good variety to them, and dare I say, informed me of what I might want to check out, should I ever be able to go to a real Disneyland (provided it happens before all of these attractions are closed/replaced, lol). Most of them were fun, until I got to the very end and had to max out my scores/get all the secrets. (I’ve seen a bunch of people mourn the replacement of the real Splash Mountain, but I think we can all agree that the virtual one is the stuff of nightmares.) From a technical standpoint, this game could use some more love. While there are a lot of clothes you can buy for your character (and I do mean a lot, even though I was still a billionaire after buying everything), there are only three presets per gender for their looks, which is just kind of sad. Also, changeable clothes stop making sense when they revert to default after you enter a ride. There are oodles of collectibles that are only partially tracked (you only get to know how many you’ve discovered when you interact with a new one), and even then, some of the ones you’ve already interacted with never stop showing as new, which is confusing if you want to go for the ultimate 100% completion (thankfully not required to unlock all achievements). Interacting with characters is fun until you realize that a good deal of their voice lines just never plays. They’re mute when introducing themselves, which you only know thanks to the subtitles, but then before they’re even done, they interrupt themselves to tell you not to be shy and to talk to them… and those lines play properly. Last, but certainly not least, I believe the game adjusts to your OS language, because it was in Polish for me and boy, oh boy… it was a time much before machine translation was a hotly debated topic and yet, this game’s translation was just incredibly bad at times. But then, it wasn’t! Listening to Chip and Dale’s quips, it’s obvious that someone was doing a good job, but then there’s a quest to be done for Black Barty, which translates “to have in store” literally… biggest double take in a while. There has to be something more to this and I really want to know what. To sum it up, if there’s a Disney lover in your life, they’re sure to like this game, but if you’re not super into it, there’s more work to be done than it is worth if you want all those sweet achievements. (Fun fact: I had to find a way to get the game to recognize my DS3 controller for the two player achievement! That was super fun!!)

PARADISE CLEANING - sex-loving family- - Another month, another one of these. Only three or so more to go, as they’re all based on existing properties… I just wish they took a moment to fix the name of one of the items (theme-wise, we haven’t been on a ship since 2018, lol) and even more importantly, the resolution. I get that Japanese devs can be weird about some things, and it’s not like anything is really broken, but I mean, come on, how hard could it be to program a game to work in all available resolutions from the start? As far back as I can remember, all of these games have to be launched in a windowed resolution (only two of a possible four are available, I believe?) and only after choosing to go full screen within the game, can you launch it at a higher resolution. It’s not even like the devs don’t know about it, they mention it in the config window that pops up before launch… ridiculous. Oh yeah, and this game also got a “localization” here. Again, couldn’t recommend you buy it if they forced me to.

RUSH: A Disney-Pixar Adventure - This game, you could say, mostly picks up where Disneyland Adventures left off (while they’re not actually related, they were made by the same studio, so I’m taking it as Disney employing them to do their bidding) - with Pixar franchises. I went into this game with a “medium” level of knowledge of the available franchises and so, I guess you could say, my opinions were mixed as well. The game itself is fun enough, but some of the engineering behind it could honestly earn it a Golden Raspberry. If you’re aiming to get all achievements, you’re going to be replaying some levels even if you fulfilled the requirements for certain unlocks, because whoever programmed them capped them! That is, say it with me now, E-GREGIOUS! At least the idea behind the game is adorable - you’re joining a bunch of kids who are big fans of the Pixar movies and play pretend together in some of the more memorable scenes. Once again, the game language was set to Polish by default and while the voice acting was great (I think they got most of the original voice actors!), not only for the characters, but also the kids, the translation was once again complete with some mysterious choices. It’s like this game and Disneyland Adventures are the two-for-one I didn’t ask for, but got anyway.

Spring and Girls - I was convinced I got another game from the same dev when I bought this one, but apparently this one’s different and all it took to set them apart was the different-looking play area! It’s weirdly stressful to know that not only is the time measured, the game also tracks how many moves you make on each level. Anyway, yeah, the play area, although still basic, looked better than the one in all the previous games. But now, my question is: Is it all the same dev or not? ‘Cause if it is, why would they spread themselves thin under two different names? And if it isn’t, how could they get their games to look identical? …is it all AI art and am I supposed to stop buying them? At least I’m not getting them first-hand…

Viki Spotter: Professions - There’s less and less I can say about these every time I complete a new one. The music is the same, the art style is the same, heck, I’m pretty sure these are just asset flips. Oh well. There wasn’t enough variety in the professions, I guess…?

Catch-up time, next week! :)

Progress report: June ‘23 (a.k.a. It’s Still June, Right? …Right?)

I may not be the first (or only) one to be late with my posts, but damn if I’m not the one who’s most embarrassed about it.
Why did I not post this on time? Uhh, lots of other stuff happening all at the same time. Also, I think I was missing one of the reviews at that time.
Anyway, let’s see here…

100 hidden eternals - Okay, I didn’t expect this one would get a little riddly. The tasks you need to do to get all the eternals aren’t all that hard if you know what to do, but since nothing really stands out in these games… let’s just say I was in the dark until I realized this was the first game where a big slice of pizza suddenly started trailing my cursor. And what the heck even are “eternals”?

Beacon Pines - This game was awesome. It really felt like someone wrote this story like a book, then went “wait, this could be a game!” and that’s how Beacon Pines was born. When you start the game, you’re introduced to the narrator, a.k.a. the in-game writer of the story. She needs your help finishing it. You get to, quite literally, dive deep into the story, as she reads it out loud. For contrast, character dialogues are accompanied by “Nintendo beeps”, which was a bit jarring at first, but I eventually warmed up to them; they’re different in pitch and tone for each and every character, and so, they can give you an idea of what everyone would sound like, had they been voiced. Shortly after starting your journey, you will be introduced to Charms - various words that you can discover by interacting with your surroundings and use to try and change your story at Turning Points - scenes interrupted by an incomplete sentence. There’s also a nice flowchart that lets you track all the story branches, so it’s never too overwhelming, although the game is much too short to cause genuine confusion, but I digress. I love the fact that the story plays out in a world of anthropomorphized animals; it’s a simple, yet effective choice, as you can either work with established stereotypes regarding certain animals, or go fully against them. The art is gorgeous, the music is great; it all really felt like getting to go back to the past and read a book, back when I used to do that more often, only with the story getting darker than regular novels would, and perhaps with more twists as well. In the end, though… the climax just wasn’t really satisfying. The Big Bad™️ didn’t get enough time to be The Big Bad™️, and all the other characters that could have been disliked simply weren’t evil enough. On the other hand, I can honestly say that in this game, all bad ends matter. Where in most other games bad ends are just there for the flavor - whether it’s to show a world where a certain character snaps or something goes so horribly wrong that the writer wants you to know how hopeless this kind of situation would be - or simply there and gone, in an instant (chose the dumb option? didn’t have enough of a stat? cue the fade-to-black as the main character says “welp, I’m dead now” and sends you back to the title screen), Beacon Pines’ bad ends give you more and more lore at a steady pace and despite being vastly different in tone, all the branches keep to one and the same story. So while it’s not a game for the people who tend to skip out on bad ends in visual novels and call it a day, at that point the narrative is still engaging enough to keep you on your toes. I’ll admit, I kinda messed up by accidentally leaving only an hour or so’s worth of playtime for my last sitting, but hey, life’s been weird like that recently.

Bloodshore - Another FMV means I’m playing with A again. This one’s about a battle royale that started out as a show involving the most dangerous criminals in the world, but currently invites all kinds of influencers, because “omg, there’s no way I would die! …but if I do, that’s still content!” Much like SIMULACRA 2 was of lower quality in comparison to the first game by focusing on soulless influencers, this battle royale show is, presumably, worse than it’s ever been, as the ratings are said to have been declining for years. The puppetmasters are pulling the strings, but is there really no way to stop this senseless bloodshed? That’s where our protagonist, Nick, comes in. Nick’s popular because of the movies he starred in as a child and besides that and the story about his friend (is it just me, or did it sound like it was inspired by the Coreys?) there’s really nothing else to know about him; I guess you’re supposed to assume that he’s trying to get famous again out of nowhere. Quickly enough, it is revealed that Nick is a plant, playing the game in hopes to destroy the corporation running it from the inside and if you do everything right, you might just succeed. The main problem of this game, however, is the same reason I was curious about it - the battle royale setting. I admit I’ve somehow become attached to Wales Interactive’s games, even if they tend to end abruptly, leaving things unexplained, but this setting only made it worse. How did Nick become a plant in the first place? What’s the whole deal with Dev? Why is there an attempt at romance more shoddy than all David Cage games combined and who made the decision to put it in there? I know FMV games are a big endeavour, but this one is an absolute flop, because everything is so samey even if the circumstances change and at no time does the world feel inhabited enough (there are said to be either 50 or 60 players and we see 20 at most, only about half of which are named and therefore hold importance to the plot). Also… don’t get me wrong. The guy they got to play the host was pretty damn good. But it could have been Rupert Booth! But instead, they got him to play the most minor role of some guy arguing about the show, who you may or may not even see depending on what you choose. Boo! There’s also this weird thing where the game will let you skip some long scenes if you’ve seen them before, but not others (kinda like some VNs; best you can do is assume there are some minor changes to the story, at least), so you might never really be sure how many of the total scenes you’ve actually seen. Another boo!

Neon Girls - Woops, I totally just started buying more of these. Oh well. This one’s all about girls in neon environments and with neon decals on their bodies and outfits.

PARADISE CLEANING - Conquering Married Women through Sex - - As opposed to the one I played previously, Married Woman Cosplay Life, the source of CGs for this game seems to be all about the more violent kind of sex. It has already been “localized” and is available on Steam, although the devs don’t seem to be the least bit embarrassed about it being MTL. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Viki Spotter: Zoo - It’s Viki Spotter, again. I muted the BGM again, as it was another one of those short royalty free loops. Can’t you at least get multiple ones? Also, I get that it’s a generic art style, but… why are some of these animals so thick…

Let’s keep playing catch-up next week :)

Progress report: May ‘23 (a.k.a. I’m Checking Out!)

Yesterday, June (a.k.a. my last month in uni)’s started, so I thought I was finally done tying up all the loose ends (‘cause… y’know… we’re in our third year, we’ve gotta write our theses…), but then this week everybody had something for us to do. I knew I wasn’t gonna be done with my thesis for the first deadline, but like, come on! At least give me some time to write it now, so I don’t have to waste all of my vacation! Sighhh…

100 hidden hares - Kind of a dirty move to hide two of them in gift boxes.

Her Story - Since I played Telling Lies first, I might as well compare the two despite Her Story having come out earlier. A didn’t even want to play this one with me ‘cause the premise made it sound like it would be identical to Telling Lies and lo and behold, it’s fundamentally the same exact game! Her Story, however, wins points for the style/setting (you can even turn off the effect that shows the person sitting in front of the in-game computer every time you stumble upon a major plot point), as well as the overall length. This game is all about this one-man (or rather, one-woman) performance, as you watch the character’s testimonies shift from interview to interview. Viva Seifert delivers an incredible performance, I’m genuinely surprised she isn’t an actress first and foremost. Maybe if I hadn’t played Telling Lies first, Her Story would have had a stronger impact on me, especially considering how much easier its story is to piece together than Telling Lies’. Overall, it’s a good game that I will be happy to play again next year.

Love Colors - For reasons unbeknownst to me, this game is marketing itself as a couch co-op painting game. Look, I would have imagined anyone who has heard of these pixel coloring games knows this by now, but to people who don’t play them, it’s like a modern version of Facebook gaming; so no, I wouldn’t want to invite my friends to play with me, ‘cause I’m pretty sure they would all just disown me. Instead, I feel like the devs should be focusing on the issues that still plague this game. For starters, I will say that they miraculously reappeared during Steam’s Puzzle Fest and discounted all the DLC content for the game, which was a nice surprise (I happened to buy it for a regular price shortly before that; Steam promised to refund me after I asked for it, but to this day I can’t tell if that money got back to me or not). They also removed two bugged achievements at some point before that, which is the only reason I can say I’m finally done with this game. But there still are a bunch of things that need fixing. First of all, the lack of windowed mode. Why, why, why is this nearly two-year-old game still only available in fullscreen mode? This really irks me, because rather than listen to music all the time, I like to watch stuff as I play casual games like this one, and here I was stuck with having to listen to music; sounds like a first world problem, but I’m sure I wouldn’t be the only one in this. Second, somewhat weird controls. After spending hundreds of hours in Coloring Pixels, I got used to being able to zoom in/out using the +/- keys and move around using the arrow keys, but here, you need to use the mouse wheel to zoom out and hold RMB while dragging to move around. It sucks that it took me buying a separate mouse to learn that. IMO, it’s a weird choice for laptop players (or just people who like using their keyboard, I guess) to be faced with the fact that unless they’re using the mouse, keyboard inputs will only make the screen snap to wherever the cursor was left in the game. Third, the bonus distribution. There are these “balloon” (color bomb, fills out a circle of a certain size around the place you click) and “bucket” (autofill) tools that are meant to… spice up? the gameplay, and I don’t know what to think. It’s not that they aren’t useful, but sometimes I felt I had way too many bombs and not enough buckets. Though the way you get them is as organic as it gets (depending on the size of the image, you might get the bonuses at one to three different points of completion, but what you get is pre-determined by the game, no rhyme or reason), I’m torn. These bonuses help out, but I feel like the game should be enjoyable without them, and as it stands, anything that required a bigger zoom out was an exercise in misery. But hey, at least they have a “Poland” category! (LOL)

Not An Angels - A nudie puzzle game. I’m not too keen on the whole “pre-rendered 3D graphics” thing, but overall, this one has a much better presentation than Unravel Cyndy. No paid DLC required to 100% is also a plus. The achievement for “completing 250 scenes” (I’m not even sure what the game counts as “a scene”, I could have sworn I’ve still had some to go when it finally popped) is a bit much though, there’s only so long you can spend on completing puzzles of the same images, even if you change the puzzle size (which there are a lot of - another plus for players who like a challenge; I stuck to sizes 12 and 24 for the sake of faster completion).

Pretty Girls Mahjong Solitaire [GREEN] - Well, I don’t know if it’s because I forgot to turn on the mysterious “Easy Mode” while playing Pretty Girls Mahjong Solitaire [BLUE], but this one took me so much less time to complete, it’s kind of insane. No, wait, it’s because this game actually has a shuffle button! Crazy how they can get rid of the padding and still have a game that clocks in at about 2 hours, am I right?

Ravenlok - Honestly, I don’t think I ever played a hack’n’slash to completion before this one. As of writing this, Ravenlok is one of the newest games on Game Pass; a hack’n’slash set in a world that takes heavily from Alice in Wonderland and blends together detailed 3D environments with voxel character models. I’m a sucker for Alice-esque media, so I was naturally attracted to this game; then, even more so, when I read it’s actually not that hard, or rather, not hard at all. I still took twice the expected time to beat it, even though I only lost two or three fights once. Oh well. The game’s got a satisfying quest system - although you can pick up most of the quests at the very start, which may seem overwhelming at first, you’ll be completing them one by one as you progress through the story. The stores could have used some better planning though; despite there being a fast-travel mechanic, having to switch locations to get items or level up (two different NPCs, two different worlds) gets old quickly. The combat gets repetitive fast as well, but in the end, it’s all doable. Otherwise, this game was just very okay. I feel like it could be a nice introduction to the genre, if you’ve never played anything from it yet.

Senpai Puzzle: Waifu Summer - Just a baby’s-first-game-looking puzzle game with cute and summery anime girls.

Super Seducer 2: Advanced Seduction Tactics - Me and A have actually finished this back in April, I just didn’t review it because I thought I would want to watch the bonus content… yeah, right. I’ve aired most of my grievances out while reviewing the first game, but there is some new stuff in this one. Richard and his crew have listened and this time, they have included more “diverse” scenarios: interracial dating (now you can teach a girl to say she’s horny in Chinese), rich guy friend Mahmoud looking for a sugar baby (I think? Has this scenario ever been relatable to anyone? Hello?) and last but not least, multiple scenes from a woman’s POV (these ones are maybe not that bad, if still super trope-y). Charlotte, the women’s dating expert (or something like that? I don’t even know), is also introduced to provide her perspective on the choices you make. The set for the cut-ins after decisions has also been upgraded - instead of more-or-less half-naked female models, there’s a bunch of models both female and male, dressed elegantly and posing all around the set. None of that matters much, though, ‘cause both Richard and Charlotte are just so fake, you can’t even tell if they like each other or not. Does Charlotte have her own opinions, or is she just saying what she thinks women would want to hear? It’s all a mystery to me.

The Walking Dead: Season 1 - My third playthrough! While there’s the inherent lack of care for the major beats, which you’ll obviously be steered towards either way, I love discovering these characters again and again. Now that I knew how to get Kenny on my side in particular, I tried my best to do so, but there are still bound to be some choices where I just can’t get myself to be as stubborn and single-minded as he is. Gah, what a great game.

The Walking Dead: Season 2 - Okay, since I can’t even tell what the hell I did differently during my second playthrough because of how cryptic I was being in that post, I’ll just say what I did this time straight up: I was more trusting of Kenny, so much so that I tried justifying him to the others, but I would also pull him back when he got out of hand. My interactions with Jane were more reluctant, leading to a more negative outlook on her as a whole (I do still feel for her, though). Also, I managed to lose Bonnie? WTF?! Didn’t know that was possible.

Umurangi Generation: Special Edition - A first-person photography game set in a retro-futuristic world sounds pretty dope, but this ended up being annoying more than anything else. Don’t get me wrong, I like the fact that each level has a set of things that need to get photographed before you can finish the level, but putting a time constraint on it (completing each level within 10 minutes is one of the goals you need to achieve to perfectly complete a level) is totally not the way to go in my opinion. Instead of being able to take in your surroundings naturally (as opposed to playing in creative mode - which is also unlockable, btw), you’re constantly being rushed by the bounties. Funnily enough, this clashes with the fact that the dev(s) is/are supposedly big on environmental storytelling (which is why your friends are nothing more than their names and the posing they do for your photos, I guess). If there really is a story you want to tell through your environments, you’ve still got to lay some groundwork first. Don’t mind me, I’m not a fan of media that is mute on purpose (I tend to find it more and more shallow every time, it’s like people think they’re being smart by putting out something that’s so obviously made to make the viewer cry, like come on), but if there’s no background for the story currently playing out, there’s no way to try and bond with the cast. Hell, as a player you don’t even get to learn who you’re playing as. The tutorial is also so barebones it might as well have not existed. It just asks if you’ve ever played an FPS game and then it throws the whole list of key prompts at you with no context or warning. Sometimes it’s not really fun to be led by the hand through every single little task, and I wouldn’t say this is the kind of game that would warrant this kind of approach, but then again, you couldn’t call what happens a “tutorial”. At least the music is pretty damn good, I might find time to listen to it outside of the game. All in all, it’s a refreshing concept, but not with the best execution.

Zodiac Girls - Following Sweet Car Wash, this is my second encounter with this series. I couldn’t help but get this one, ‘cause for some reason I really, genuinely liked the art in this one (the theme not being anything particularly fetishistic is a bonus too). I’d say I don’t see myself buying more of these any time soon, but let’s face it, tons of codes for this dev’s games have flooded the market recently, so… you know. clears throat

See you next month!

Progress report: April ‘23 (a.k.a. Nothing, Merely Tired)

Like a wise man once said.

100 hidden dogs - Doggos indeed. This one changes perspective throughout the image, as well as feature moving parts, which… don’t do the job of covering stuff up well, I think. There are a bunch of cats and snails drawn that are pretty darn distracting, though; not to mention a few things that could be seen as dogs, if the dev or artist didn’t insist on drawing all findable dogs the same way.

Buddy and Lucky Solitaire - A solitaire game with the twist of emulating the experience of playing in multiple locations in the city and in nature. The solitaire itself lacks an infinite undo feature, which I presume to be the main reason behind my final playtime (not that the devs did it on purpose, seeing as the game didn’t have an undo function at all at first), but then there’s also the aspect of being able to pause your game and look around the location, with most of the game’s achievements being all about spotting certain things within them… I dunno, that’s just a weird little thing taking up too much space in my opinion.

Kawaii Neko Girls 2 - See Kawaii Neko Girls.

PARADISE CLEANING - Married Woman Cosplay Life - - Genuinely wasn’t expecting there to be more, I suppose this is turning into more and more of an elaborate marketing scheme by the day. (Even though the game this is based on doesn’t seem to be coming out in “English” soon, they’ve got a whole new game still in the works, alongside its own PARADISE CLEANING counterpart. Update: As of the time of revision, the original game for this installment of PARADISE CLEANING now has its own Steam page.) Having looked up the game this is based on, I guess the theme checks out, though I’m still confused as to why the couple seems to always be having sex in some kind of void (lol). It’s probably also worth mentioning (late, but still) the laziness in one of the objects you use for cleaning still making a reference to being on a ship (the very first PARADISE CLEANING game had this theme), not to mention showing the girl off at the side of the menu when she’s the only one in the whole game (again, the first installment actually had multiple girls). Oh well, guess this is another cheap ero series I’ve started buying my way through.

Sweet Car Wash - A SG win, yaaay! (I should really be playing more of those.) Anyway, this is one of those small, easy and sexy? (YMMV) puzzle games, so there isn’t really anything to say about it. It’s good for a chill evening, I guess?

See you next month…