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, Dot to Dot Puzzles

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

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


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

    0.1 hours playtime

    100 of 100 achievements

  • A Memoir Blue

    3.0 hours playtime

    15 of 15 achievements

    GAME
    PASS

  • All You Can Eat

    0.8 hours playtime

    11 of 11 achievements

  • Bishoujo Battle Cyber Panic!

    1.4 hours playtime

    8 of 8 achievements

  • Cat&rooms

    0.3 hours playtime

    no achievements

  • Come with Me

    0.6 hours playtime

    9 of 9 achievements

  • Drowning

    2.2 hours playtime

    16 of 16 achievements

  • DYO

    1.6 hours playtime

    10 of 10 achievements

  • EMMA The Story

    0.3 hours playtime

    no achievements

  • Escape Academy

    6.5 hours playtime

    27 of 27 achievements

    GAME
    PASS

  • Escape From School

    0.8 hours playtime

    7 of 7 achievements

  • Escape Room - The Sick Colleague

    2.3 hours playtime

    34 of 34 achievements

  • Femboy Besties

    0.1 hours playtime

    no achievements

  • Hide and Secret Treasure of the Ages

    0.5 hours playtime

    no achievements

  • it's always monday

    0.3 hours playtime

    no achievements

  • Mini Words: Top Games

    1 hours playtime

    12 of 12 achievements

  • My Friend Peppa Pig

    2.3 hours playtime

    11 of 11 achievements

    GAME
    PASS

  • Omno

    9.0 hours playtime

    21 of 21 achievements

    GAME
    PASS

  • PAW Patrol: Mighty Pups Save Adventure Bay

    3.1 hours playtime

    30 of 30 achievements

    GAME
    PASS

  • Pupperazzi

    4.8 hours playtime

    23 of 23 achievements

    GAME
    PASS

  • SLG Remix

    0.3 hours playtime

    no achievements

  • Starting the Game

    0.2 hours playtime

    18 of 18 achievements

  • The Artful Escape

    6.4 hours playtime

    12 of 12 achievements

    GAME
    PASS

  • THE CORRIDOR

    0.9 hours playtime

    10 of 10 achievements

  • The Shapeshifting Detective

    9.7 hours playtime

    21 of 21 achievements

  • The Timeless Child

    3.4 hours playtime

    22 of 22 achievements

  • The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season

    0 hours playtime

    48 of 48 achievements

    GAME
    PASS

  • Townscaper

    0.8 hours playtime

    10 of 10 achievements

    GAME
    PASS

  • Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion

    3.8 hours playtime

    37 of 37 achievements

    GAME
    PASS

  • Unpacking

    3.0 hours playtime

    25 of 25 achievements

    GAME
    PASS

  • We should talk.

    2.6 hours playtime

    24 of 24 achievements

  • We Were Here

    3.9 hours playtime

    26 of 26 achievements

  • With You

    0.4 hours playtime

    no achievements

  • 夏花的轨迹——A summer promise to forever

    5.1 hours playtime

    6 of 6 achievements

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.

Bonus:
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 - 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!

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 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 - 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! :)

Progress report: Fourth week of December ‘21 (a.k.a. Merry New Happy Christmas Year, I Don’t Really Care)

I so totally struggled with that title.

I am proud to say that I’m closing the doors on 2021, having reached multiple goals (most of which I didn’t even know were there, until I realized they’re close enough to go for):

  • over 200 completed games (211, to be exact, although I will likely move the beaten games forward, should I complete them later on) ✓
  • average game completion on completionist.me at over 90% (currently 90.61%) ✓
  • unplayed game percentage down to at least 55% (currently at 52%) ✓
  • unfinished game count below 70 (currently at 66) ✓
  • 60 games completed per month, two separate times ✓
  • being a terrible student (so terrible) ✓

As for the games I rounded out this month’s full sixty with, here they are:

Burning Daylight - I honestly have no idea why I thought this was going to be a point-and-click. Then, I opened the game, controlled the player character for a little bit and thought “oh, stealth?”, but there is nothing to really hide from, everything is streamlined. In the end, it’s just a “go right… and sometimes in other directions too” simulator, complete with the action button prompt bringing up the Xbox X, despite no controllers being connected. It only crashed on me once, so I should probably say I’m lucky, compared to some reviewers; I think the checkpoint complaint is absolutely valid, though, seeing as even after I’ve completed the game half of them still weren’t unlocked. The message seems to be ye good ol’ “technology bad, reality forget”… if I wanted to feel genuinely threatened by that, I’d go watch an episode of Black Mirror instead.

Coloring Game - Did I ever say something about not buying the DLC after it comes out? Lo and behold, I am completely at the mercy of casual games such as this one, and therefore I have decided to get all the DLCs for this one during the Winter sale. Coloring them in took a lot of time (the paint bucket option is a saving grace), idling out the rest even more so. However, I’m glad I can say that I am another step further towards being done with this franchise.

Dummy! - A very poor, made-for-multiplayer quiz game. It refused to work properly on my laptop, but even after I got it to run on a different PC, it would randomly freeze for no reason, leaving me no choice but to kill it using the task manager. Its loading times are too long for something that should be so lightweight, there’s no option to continue playing immediately after finishing a round and the wins are counted arbitrarily as well (making it more tedious to get the achievement for winning a hundred games). Good to know this went from paid to free, but even so, my advice will be to avoid this one.

Evergreen Blues - Simply put, Evergreen Blues is an interactive musical experience, where you get to choose your preferred lyrics to be sung, as a series of six original songs unravel in your headphones. The music is charming and the vocals accompanying it truly mesmerising. Fragmented as it is for the game’s sake, I would love to be able to keep the music to listen to outside of the experience. Recommended if you ever need ten minutes of relaxation.

Hair of the Dog - Long, long ago, in Victorian London occured a mysterious explosion. Shortly after, our main character visits his uncle only to discover that he was the one responsible for it, through his new experiment. Figuring his uncle isn’t around, the young man drinks the mysterious formula and realizes he got himself in trouble… at least until he can prepare himself an antidote. For a two week game jam creation, this game is stunning. Its pixelated graphics give it a retro feel, it features full, quality voice acting as well as, in relevance to the formula’s effects, real time play - if you’re not looking to finish the game in one sitting, you can split up your sessions depending on the time of day, as the available interactions will differ. This was a solid way to clock in almost an hour.

Hotel on the Grate - If you still remember me calling any game I played in the past “trippy”, forget that. This game is the ultimate trip. Hotel on the Grate is twenty minutes’ worth of absolute absurd, which you navigate as an on-call therapist, summoned to a peculiar hotel where disfigured humans (?) mingle with floating monsters. Likely due to the visual presentation, the game is quite hefty in size, but it’s got a damn good soundtrack.

Island Saver - If you’ve got a hankering for a cute and colorful children’s game, and you loved Slime Rancher, I highly recommend you check out Island Saver. You play as a Bionaut, tasked with revitalising multiple islands by eliminating waste and taking care of the local Bankimals. Even if there’s not much change in tasks between islands, I love how it keeps you going - there’s always waste to clean up, Bankimals to feed… and if not, you can go around looking for collectibles or put some hats on the Bankimals. The game was made in cooperation with the National Westminster Bank, effectively combining the themes of ecosystem care with basic money-managing tips. I can’t recommend this game enough, but even if you’re on the fence because it has DLC, try out the main game - there’s plenty to do there already. While the DLC has never been discounted, I bought it during the Winter sale and can finally say that I’m a 100% done with everything there was to do. Both the DLC islands had their flaws, but I definitely wouldn’t mind if a new island were to be released in the future.

Larry The Unlucky: Part 2 - In the first game we followed Larry through his childhood, this time around he’s all grown up, taking big steps into adulthood. Again, a simple “escape room”-type game with even simpler achievements. Sadly, the third part isn’t free, but I might get it someday in the future.

Metonymy - Metonymy is a student project… and very hard to describe. With religion as the overarching theme, you follow Colin and Tracy, who seem determined to stop the Choir, which I assume to be the religious cult of the world. On the other side, there’s also Enoch, the seemingly disowned member of the Choir. None of that matters, however, because this game is so short it doesn’t go anywhere. All you do is walk around a little as Enoch and Colin, respectively, and at the end there’s a big rhythm game-style face-off, which is what got me interested in this game originally. Problem is… even on the PC I played it on, it was so poorly optimized I couldn’t play that sequence properly. No idea what makes me feel worse, that or the fact that reviewers claim I would have gotten through it even if I didn’t try. The art style is intriguing, although not fully my taste (the shading on the character models makes them look downright terrifying), the soundtrack is great and the voice acting could use some work. If there’s ever a desire to expand this game, I think there could be something nice here.

Reverie - For the most part, this is a simple game with abstract puzzles (even if saying that seems redundant). To me, it was reminiscent of the old Flash games about discovering all kinds of possible chain reactions to progress. The one problem I had with it was the last achievement, earned for playing the game for eight hours. In comparison, the game can be beaten in just one hour or even a little less (took me just a little under an hour, but that’s because I spent a while fumbling around without getting anything done). Its store page even says that you can leave it open on a second monitor while doing something else, claiming it’s more of a glorified wallpaper. Cool, except not everyone has more than one screen. If I had a nickel for every time a game made me idle it for no payoff other than a random-ass achievement, I would have two nickels. Not much, but isn’t it weird that it happened twice already?

Runeous: Part One - The first part of what was envisioned to become a two-part VN in the past, but seeing as the devs have since moved on to other projects, will presumably never be finished. Runeous puts you in a fantasy world, in the middle of a journey in search of runes, which are supposedly what grants their users power, although I’m not sure how that would occur. I liked the Western cartoon-style character art and disliked, naturally, the fact that this VN was made in TyranoScript. Like many other prequels or introductions, it cuts off at the best part, but seeing as it won’t be continued, there’s now one less thing for me to hold out for.

Saving You From Yourself - This game makes it very clear that it’s not about the process of transitioning, but about outside observation and gatekeeping, yet it gets negative feedback for being transphobic… yikes. If judged by what it is - a gatekeeping therapist simulator - it does its job well. The art isn’t anything amazing and there’s no sound to go along with the game, but it’s short enough for that to not be a big deal. Still, if you or anyone you know can relate to the overarching theme, note the content warning and spend those five minutes on something more fun.

The Terrible Old Man - Based on an old short story from H.P. Lovecraft of the same title, The Terrible Old Man is a short point-and-click that lets you control Joe Czanek, one of the soon-to-be robbers of the titular old man. It’s nothing remarkable, maybe because this wasn’t the best story to retell in game format, but the fact that it came to be during a game jam makes me want to let it off the hook somewhat. The art is particularly ugly, but to be fair, this does drive the point of how ugly the main characters’ deeds are (and even more importantly, that this is a horror story) home.

Traum - A tad too sexually charged RPGMaker game about an underperforming husband. I may have charged through this game using a guide, but I still found none of the characters likeable and none of the scares actually scary… however, I have been aware of this game for years now, so at least now I can say it is done.

TREE - An emotional story of a man and the tree he grew… which loses all the impact when you realize you’re going to have to replay the game for one of the achievements.

Ultreia: Prologue - The first thirty minutes of a little robot’s journey. Nymo, who has recently had to part with a friend is now being called to Ultreia and it’s your job to help him get there. The demo cuts off at just the right moment, and pretty abruptly too; and with the 80% discount the full version is on as I’m writing this, I’m really tempted to get the full version right now. Then again… I might as well hold on until the new year starts, right?

At this point, I really hope it’s not about to become something to recite every year, but I truly want 2022 to start bringing an end to all this misery and suffering. Because of that, I wish you, my fellow assassins, to stay happy, healthy, safe and productive, whether it’s school/job performance, learning a new skill or assassinating your backlog from all possible angles. See you next time :)

Progress report: Third week of December ‘21 (a.k.a. Preparations!)

Due Tuesday, again. Late… again. At this point I kind of can’t wait for this year to end.

  • A Case of the Crabs: Rehash

    1 hour playtime

    no achievements

  • Azurael's Circle: Chapter 1

    0.4 hours playtime

    no achievements

  • Cowpocalypse

    0.7 hours playtime

    7 of 7 achievements

  • Devolverland Expo

    1.9 hours playtime

    22 of 22 achievements

  • Flaws in the People We Love

    0.2 hours playtime

    no achievements

  • Good Morning World

    0.0 hours playtime

    1 of 1 achievements

  • Larry The Unlucky: Part 1

    0.6 hours playtime

    12 of 12 achievements

  • Loneliness

    0.0 hours playtime

    no achievements

  • My Light In The Dark

    0.3 hours playtime

    no achievements

  • Something for Someone Else

    0.8 hours playtime

    1 of 1 achievements

  • Sprite Sequence: Chapter 1

    0.1 hours playtime

    no achievements

  • The Walsingham Files - Chapter 1

    1.3 hours playtime

    5 of 5 achievements

  • Universe For Sale: Prologue

    0.8 hours playtime

    3 of 3 achievements

  • Yu Crossing Animals

    1.3 hours playtime

    10 of 10 achievements

A Case of the Crabs: Rehash - A much improved remake of a Flash game that originally came out all the way back in 2004, ACotC is a noir-style point-and-click that follows Nick Bounty, a true to form detective, starved for a new case… that is, until one, quite literally, walks right through the door to his office. Now, it is up to him to solve the mystery of… seafood? Crabs. Mostly crabs. ACotC is easy, but doesn’t really hold your hand; as for the humor, ya gotta get the references, so I’ll write it down under “player must be American (I think)”. Knowing that a former Telltale Games employee is the original creator makes the experience so much sweeter and having learned that there is already a sequel out, and that it features voice actors billed for multiple of said company’s titles, I am more than willing to go on another investigation with Nick Bounty in the near future.

Azurael’s Circle: Chapter 1 - Yet another game made in RPGMaker; in this one, you investigate the suicide of your own mother. What’s weird about this one is, I’ve gotten so used to having to select the object I want to use from my inventory that I actually got confused by this game doing all that work for the player, which was a refreshing change that most of these games could easily use. Other than that, there’s really not much worth mentioning. The main character seemed very meh, neither overly good nor even ambiguously snarky/annoying/whatever else could make him interesting. It was also odd that while walking around in locations that are supposed to be lit up, only the spot around the main character was really bright, as if he was carrying some flashlight he forgot to mention. I would dare say it even gets a tad annoying, considering that it might have been an attempt at making the game scary… but if so, that’s a failed one. I don’t find something like that scary at all. Ultimately, it’s disappointing to think that this is where this character’s story ends; I got a peek at the next chapter and it seems to be a whole another story. This got good just as it ended, but maybe one day I’ll buy the second chapter.

Cowpocalypse - A mediocre point-and-click that I only completed thanks to a user-contributed guide… which may be an important distinction to make, considering there is, apparently, an official guide within the game. I opted not to look at it, though, since it warned me it was going to show a playthrough and no matter how crappy the game is, I want to be as unspoiled as possible. Now, the actual story… it was all a fever dream and you can not convince me otherwise. You play as a guy who wakes up in the middle of the night only to find that a fire broke out near his house, the cows that were supposed to be sleeping in that exact place are nowhere to be seen aaand there is also a reindeer stuck in the roof, butt-in, because somehow Santa Claus happened to crash his sleigh. Hey, at least that makes it fitting for the season, right? It’s 40 minutes of clunky UI work, moon logic and okay voice acting that not only did the actors not get credited for, but also didn’t omit any of the (sometimes really glaring) grammatical errors, which begs the question… how on earth have those native-sounding VAs not had a hand in fixing the script? It doesn’t seem like that tall of an order to ask. Even though this is the dev’s first game, its controls are too clunky, the story is, again, a fever dream and the dev’s claim that after the continuation comes out, “you’ll feel that this is why you were born: to play [Cowpocalypse]”, is a little too weird even as a joke.

Devolverland Expo - What do you mean, it’s the pandemic and everything’s closed down? Devolver Digital’s expo went off without a hitch! That’s right, Devolverland Expo is a virtual representation of what could potentially happen if one were to sneak into a closed down, called off convention. …except there are security drones flying everywhere. Yeah, that one’s a bother. Most of the presented games weren’t up my alley, but I still enjoy a good trailer. The merch gun was a pretty tongue-in-cheek idea, I liked that. I wonder if there is any info on the unannounced titles yet; I get books and cups, but plastic bags? That genuinely got me curious. The boss fight was tough for me to manage, mostly because the game as a whole was a little heavy for my laptop, but I got close enough to the end on one try that the game counted it as a win… cause I died right after that. I checked out the very ending online and there really wasn’t anything I missed, so I won’t be playing through again. Overall, a really cool idea.

Flaws in the People We Love - I don’t get it. I don’t know if I’m supposed to get it. The overarching story comes out of nowhere and doesn’t make a lot of sense, the game looks unfinished in a bunch of ways (visible FPS counter, mouse cursor is visible and stuck in the middle of the screen, many of the textures are clipping), but, having come from the same dev, I will say I enjoyed it more than Tennis Story. A good bunch of games could use the kind of jump feature this one offers.

Good Morning World - A diamond in the rough. …who am I kidding, it’s only rough. It tries to mix a groundhog day scenario with a self-aware secondary character and the results are poor. I have no idea what engine this was made in, but it suffers from the lack of the most basic options, most importantly the exit button. I had to pop up my taskbar while it was running and close it from there. There is very minor point-and-clicking, which, when actually important, is pretty much impossible to figure out on your own; again, not that there is a lot to click on, but when you want to do it, things either stand out way too much or are not visible at all. The VN side of things is just ugly - everything is in Comic Sans, using what I assume is the default textbook look and the skip option works all willy-nilly. Not even the end credits look good, and you’d think at least that part would be important. I only have about 5 minutes recorded in this game, but I really fumbled around for much longer - that discrepancy is there because, I think, this game closed Steam upon launching. Sounds ridiculous, but I’ve never experienced that happening before; I could have sworn I launched it from Steam, but when I wanted to check something in the client, I realised it’s not even on anymore. That and the achievement - it unlocked as the game was installing, which I would guess is because some people reported having trouble with it not unlocking. …but then it also unlocked after I launched the game, now without the client closing on me randomly. Lastly, even though this didn’t interrupt my playthrough, it might be worth mentioning that this game gives you the option to sign in with your Steam account at what I assume is the developer website. Not to demonize, but I’m not sure that’s cool.

Larry The Unlucky: Part 1 - Ported from mobile to Steam (made obvious by how it advertises the sequel), this one’s a nostalgic trip back to the good old times of Flash games… more specifically the escape room ones; I’m not sure I ever really made progress in any of the ones I used to check out back in the day. It’s short and it’s even got some easy achievements, so if you’re feeling it, give it a try.

Loneliness - Certainly not the first time someone decided squares are a good way to portray people… and I didn’t really buy it.

My Light in the Dark - Made in no more than two weeks, My Light in the Dark was originally a submission to a gamemaking contest and has seen little change since then. It’s short, relatively simple and tells the story of a girl who had been living with her abusive mother her whole life… until you take control. I don’t really have anything else to say about it, except that I appreciated the lack of the default UI sounds, which would have undoubtedly broken the immersion (they definitely don’t fit in with many other games, yet none of the creators seem to care?).

Something for Someone Else - I may not be the person this game was originally meant for, but I am glad that I got to play it. I’m not the best with games like yours, but, perhaps because you were so nice to me, I held out far better than I usually would. I think that is also why I truly regret cheating, even though you were the one to tell me it’s possible. In my defense, I will say that I played around with the option, trying to see if I could pass certain sections without cheating. I liked the song you played in the background; it may not be my favorite kind of sound, but I think I’m going to look it up and listen to it again. I’m sorry to hear that the one you wanted this experience to touch ultimately remained unconcerned. This probably won’t be much coming from a random player, but while I find it hard to deeply empathize with your struggles, if only because I don’t share them, I wasn’t indifferent to them (and that’s been a big thing with me for a while now). I didn’t care about that achievement you so graciously provided me with; it’s a nice thing to have, a memory of having gone through this experience with you, having listened. I appreciate the kind words you had for me. I wish I could listen to you more. Even though you said that this game came out of an idea for a somewhat different one, which you later scrapped, I would still love to experience the original idea, come to life. Considering that’s likely just my wishful thinking, though, I would also gladly listen to you talk about many other things. If you ever create another story, it would be a pleasure to meet you again.

Sprite Sequence: Chapter 1 - The Creation - A short platformer, supposedly about the process of creation. I wouldn’t know about that, but I guess it could be metaphoric in the most basic of ways. I liked the simple and friendly look of it, and even more so, the self-made sound effects. Recommended for the shortest of breaks.

The Walsingham Files - Chapter 1 - Another story about Sara the detective; this one is set after all of the events of Silver Creek Falls, meaning I have no idea about what happened or why we’re in a completely different place… but it’s okay, I only played this for the achievements anyway. The character sprites and portrait art remain pleasing to the eye (as I’ve mentioned before in my review for Silver Creek Falls), but this time… there’s more game. The riddles in the latter half of the game were pretty obtuse, and especially as someone who didn’t really care about the game, I may not have been able to complete it without the guide I found (outside of Steam!). Really don’t get the whole ending, though I would hope it makes sense if you play the whole series. This game also seems to have its achievements programmed in differently, as I unlocked the one for starting the game twice; the second time wasn’t because I locked it again using some third-party software, it just… triggered again on its own. Peculiar, that one.

Universe for Sale: Prologue - The first step into the universe (ha, get it?) of Universe for Sale. Its graphics are advertised as entirely hand-drawn (and impressively so), and inspired by European comics, meaning I wasn’t too far off in thinking it reminds me of those. One downside I want to mention is, in the menu there’s an option to set the voice volume… but the game isn’t voiced, it just uses beeps for character talk. That’s misleading and I’d hope it gets changed when the full game comes out. Since it seems that the game will mostly revolve around space and similar themes, it might not exactly be my cup of tea (again, accidentally punny), but I did wishlist it anyway.

Yu Crossing Animals - I sure hope the title isn’t a very obvious pun about a different, much more popular game! Anyway, Yu Crossing Animals… not sure why the main character here is also called Yu, but I’ll just roll with it. Yu is a furry (?) with mixed features (not unlike the other characters), who one day becomes assistant to the mayor of the village she found her home at. The catch being… the residents like getting to know each other closely. Having gotten a few pointers, Yu sets out to fulfill everyone’s requests and lewd them in the process. The game still looks unfinished, given how many empty houses there are standing around. I appreciate Yu having a voice, but I’m not convinced her kids’ cartoon-esque sound fits the theme of the game. I would also like to see VAs being brought on board to voice the other characters. The minigame is fine, although I think there could be more added in the future. I find the buttplug acting as the item to speed up movement ridiculous… correct me if I’m wrong, but wouldn’t walking around with one inside you be more uncomfortable? All that being said, the game is relatively new, having come out just at the start of the month, and seeing how it’s being advertised as “still free”, I think it’s safe to say that there will be updates in the future.

See you next week! :)

Progress report: Second week of December ‘21 (a.k.a. Overstimulation!)

This post was due Tuesday. It is now Saturday, which should tell you how wrapped up I got with the last of my in-person classes, getting gifts and going back home for Christmas. I’ve been so busy and done with it for the past few days, all I wanted was to lie down, fall into a coma and wake up after Christmas. Or better yet, after the new year hits. Whichever really works. Anyway, here’s what I got done with back then:

Alpha Polaris: A Horror Adventure Game - You know it’s gonna be good when the title factors in descriptors for the game. In Alpha Polaris you control Rune, a young scientist researching polar bears. Coincidentally, he just so happens to be living at the same station - the titular Alpha Polaris - as people working to find and extract oil, which is sadly nothing more than an off-handed remark. Soon enough, things start going south after one of the researchers brings in some particularly morbid items, found during a trip down to the newly discovered crevasse. While it’s not state-of-the-art, I don’t think Alpha Polaris is the worst of point-and-click games out there, either. Its look is very dated, considering it only came out in 2015, but I find it appealing. The voice acting is decent, the 2D art expressive, the 3D character models - pretty good. Perhaps the cutscenes are the worst part, visually, but it’s one of those things you could figure would look the way it does. As for the puzzles, however… I quickly started using a guide, because not only is arctic research not really my thing, I found a good amount of solutions to be obtuse. If you’re not that particular about your point-and-clicks being straight-up amazing and you like ‘em lookin’ old-school, consider giving Alpha Polaris a try.

Freakshow: Anniversary - It’s only an “anniversary” release to the dev and whoever followed this project since the start. Otherwise, it’s a very confusing game that barely has a backstory (and the little that it does have, it doesn’t seem to want to elaborate upon). The art style is crude, the voice acting could be better and the minigame collection available on the side doesn’t seem to have any real relation to the whole thing. My personal “…what?” kinda standout, though, has to be the dev scraping the game this was previously and remaking it from the ground up… to later provide “commentary” in which he says “I don’t have any crazy development stories or anything”. Why on earth record this, then? Marvelous, truly marvelous.

Iron Snout - A 2D side-to-side (is that what you would call that?) button mashing fighting game, where you control a pig fending off hordes of wolves - wolves with knives, wolves with chainsaws, police officer wolves, Miley Cyrus wolves… wait, what? Ah yes, of all the things to date a game. I’m not really a fan of those kinds of games, but I’ve been sitting on this one for a while, not even expecting to be able to 100% it, yet as it turns out, I pulled through. If you like repeatedly challenging yourself to set high scores, this should be up your alley.

Mercury Blue: Mini Episode - A prequel to a point-and-click adventure game that seems to never have released, despite being slated for 2019. Having checked it out, though, I’m not exactly surprised. Me not being a fan of stories set in space aside, this game wasn’t nearly as funny as it seems to think it is. The robot’s personality lost me, on one hand he swears profusely, on the other gets scared for his life when appropriate… but then also goes back to swearing like nothing ever happened? Oh well. The voice actors really saved this experience for me and despite their personal websites being dead, I wish them the best of luck in finding more solid jobs in the future.

Not Heaven - Continuing the trend of promoting music through games, Not Heaven is a game-ified rap EP from Wealthy Relative. The way I got to experience it left me somewhat baffled and conflicted. To start off, the whole game is heavy on abstract visuals and with environments chock-full of various objects, the performance is bound to suffer. Considering I only have my trusty laptop (which is only a little over a year old by now, so not really outdated), this happened in most in-game locations. Not only was it tough to move around, I’ve also sat through almost all the songs playing while heavily stuttering. Your character can also take photos and paint around the place, but the aforementioned issues take all the joy out of trying it, my lack of creativity aside. Coupled with the bizarre (read: unpleasant to the ear) sound effects, it was all a pretty unsatisfying experience. I might try and give the EP a listen in the future, but I can’t really talk about whether or not I’d recommend this game.

Occult Crime Police - A homage to Ace Attorney, Occult Crime Police is a humorous mystery-solving VN that has you investigating a murder at Base 24, the only place of true interest there ever was in Boomtown, USA. Controlling Miranda Warren, a sheriff in her forties, you’re going to want to help her recover from her performance on a case from years past, which has left an impression on the people of Boomtown; that being a plot point I wish the story could get back to, assuming there would be a continuation in the future. Anyway, in good ol’ AA fashion, OCP features highly expressive, animated sprites, testimony and persuasion segments, and most importantly, Nintendo-style text boop-baps! …meaning that even if I’ve barely ever touched AA, I still appreciated and had fun with OCP.

Only If - A puzzle game that I can’t honestly recommend, and not because I’m not big on puzzle games in the first place. Only If sets up an absurd premise - you play as Anthony, a young guy who goes to a party thrown by Sam, a girl he seems to be interested in, only to wake up the next day, still in her house, but quickly thrown into riddle-solving mode by the mysterious (and very snippy) Vinny - and at just about every step of the way, it asks of you a different set of skills - you’re going to be sneaking around, platforming and stuffing your head in trash cans. Yes, really. While I admire the fact that this story was told completely without using any kind of visual representation for any of the characters, there are a whole lot of downsides I can’t forget to mention. Despite being dialogue-heavy, Only If features no subtitles, which may be perhaps the most glaring negative. After that, there’s the fact of little-to-no direction regarding the puzzles, leading me to believe that the guide creators may just be superhuman. While I mentioned the lack of subtitles, the story isn’t really worth it, anyway. In the midst of all the back-and-forth Anthony and Vinny have, some derogatory terms that are frowned upon nowadays appear; naturally that is also a big “no”. The ending isn’t really worth all the hassle of the puzzling and other performance, in my opinion. And last, but not least, something’s up with the achievements, making it so that if you happen to die in a segment (or the entirety of the game leading up to that point, even) prior to getting an achievement, you will be forced to quit the game, validate its files and fulfill the requirements again. I fully admit to skipping one of the sections, because working under pressure really isn’t my thing, so if you happen to try this game out and find yourself in the same predicament, I would say it’s not worth the trouble of not skipping. In the end, though, I can’t recommend this game, unless you’re a huge puzzle nerd (especially with how abstract the ones in this game are) who is also willing to deal with the achievement thing.

Six Days of Snow - Inspired by Japanese literature from days long gone, Six Days of Snow tells the tale of Eiji, a little-known writer in search of inspiration and Reiko, the young girl working at the inn he stays at. Little did they know what those six days were going to have in store for them… “It’s been a while since I read anything from Ebi-hime and her work is still nothing short of amazing” is what I’d like to say, but… well, look back at the first part of that sentence. What I can say, though, is that the art is impeccable and the music - perfectly fitting. I feel like I should be able to say something more about this one, but since it sat around in my library being unfinished for about five years at this point, I’m just glad it’s done and over with.

SORE - A sequential adventure game that desperately seems to want to convey some kind of existential message, but ultimately fails on account of not having an actual story to go along with. There’s no way to really get to something hidden deeper, to put yourself in anything remotely close to a win stat and the achievements will have you doing ridiculously inconsequential things like sitting on the main menu screen for three minutes or pushing a loose brick 25 times. Can’t recommend this one to anybody.

Tennis Story - A half hour’s worth of memories that have been given new life in the form of a game. I can admire the work it took to create something like this (and seeing how dramatic it is, perhaps it demanded some reflection as well), but it’s barely a time-worthy experience, unless maybe you know the dev personally and/or are the model for one of the characters.

The Adventures of Nick and Willikins - Assume the role of Willikins, the Cambridge-schooled butler (the last of his kind, presumably) who dedicated his life to serving Nick, his ever so lazy and downright idiotic master. Seems like Nick Hall (yes, that is the name of the residence) is going to be greeting a brand new day, one like any other… until someone is mysteriously murdered! It’s up to Willikins to solve the mystery, because just about everyone else is busy being self-absorbed and, to add insult to injury, convinced of Willikins being lazy, terrible at his job and generally inadequate (all of which is rubbish, naturally, but he’s heard it so many times by now that he takes it in stride and moves on). Perhaps the way he reacts is what saved this game for me, as I tend to deeply dislike humor based around singling someone out and talking them down aggressively for seemingly no reason. The background art was nice, character art… less so. I found the voice acting decent and the sarcastic/witty remarks entertaining; I interacted with just about everything for the sake of hearing more commentary. There are two basic features most point-and-clicks have nowadays that this one didn’t - I couldn’t seem to skip dialogue whenever I found myself accidentally triggering the same piece again and it wasn’t possible to quick-walk between locations, either. Most importantly, though, it really felt like the ending was rushed. All of a sudden, you learn what happened aaand… it’s the end. No real resolution, no “and they lived happily ever after”. Considering it’s free, though, it’s still on the upper shelf, if you will. I’m curious to see if the devs are ever going to put out another game.

The Change Architect - Oh my god, I just… don’t care at all at this point. It’s another one of the “intense 10 minutes” stories, except this one has no direct link to the previous two. The overarching theme, however, stays the same, so I’m wondering if it’s close to the devs’ hearts or if they just want to trick us into thinking they feel for it. I don’t get the whole thing where I think I’m supposed to be wowed by the ability to change the camera’s position. The game is ten minutes long, why can it not do that for me? This time around, it also asked if I want my progress to be saved, should the kickstarter for the new title succeed. I instinctively said “yes”, but I’m still going to uninstall this after I’m done writing my piece, so, like, whatever, maaan.

To Burn in Memory - Now off the store in favor of the Anniversary Edition, To Burn in Memory is a text-based adventure… which is exactly where it lost me, so I caved in and after a short while of wandering around, I followed the path to the end, along with all the achievements. Not really enough to write a review, now, is it?

When the Darkness comes - Billed as “an experience without meaning”, When the Darkness comes is an… abstract? experimental? walking simulator, originally created not with the intent of being publicized, but as an outlet for its developer. Since at its core, it is an exploration of things such as depression or anxiety, naturally this experience isn’t for everyone. I only took interest in it after having watched a playthrough of it (which, as I was proven upon playing by myself, was merely partial) and despite having added it to my library, I didn’t expect to play it soon. I’m glad I played it, braved it, even. No idea how I managed to do that in the middle of the night! It’s not my place to say if this game did a good job of portraying mental struggles, much less when I consider that the presentation is supposed to only resonate with the dev himself, really. It features a Stanley Parable-esque narrator and minor file manipulation for enhanced fourth-wall breaking (comparable to Doki Doki Literature Club), so if you’re into either of those, not currently suffering from mental health issues and not too big of a scaredy-cat, I will gladly recommend you give this one a shot.

See you next week! :)