Secret Little Haven (PC): A Deeply Personal Masterpiece (Detailed Review) #TransDayofRemembrance

Secret Little Haven | Logo

CW: Transphobia, parental abuse, gaslighting, depression, violence, and suicide.

So here we are at another Trans Day of Rememberence, the day where cis people can bitch about trans social justice warriors and bathrooms while trans people mourn their friends and family who were murdered by cis people, or who killed themselves because cis people felt inconvenienced by their desire to, you know, live.

I’ve used Trans Day of Rememberence as a framing device for my work in the past. Two years ago, I used it for a highly emotional piece where I let my anger and disgust front and center. This time, I’m going to do something a bit different. It just so happened that the next game on my schedule for a review is also very much relevant to Trans Day of Rememberance. Not only is Secret Little Haven made by a trans developer, but it is also a trans centered title with a lot of highly relevant subject matter. It’s also an absolute masterpiece that comes strongly recommended even if you aren’t trans.

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Rance 5D: The Lonely Girl (PC): Amusingly Problematic (Detailed Review) (NSFW)

Rance 5D: The Lonely Girl | Box Art

CW: References to rape and slavery as plot devices.

Sometimes, the games I review make me answer some unexpected questions. Given that my reviews of eroge always end up among the most viewed of my work, I knew I would be taking a look at this series eventually, and I always knew that I would have some difficulties with it. In this case, I don’t mean “difficulty” as in it being hard to play, but more so hard for me to review.

I’m sure that most of you are well aware that I’m a feminist, and that my feminist views have largely impacted how I perceive the world around me. If I’m being honest, I’m usually hesitant to bring it up with most normies because they either know next to nothing about it and thus don’t grasp the significance, or they are one of the many who have been groomed by right wingers to believe that feminism amounts to what they see on Buzzfeed or Youtube cringe compilations.

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Quick Review: Home (PC/Ios/PS4/Vita/Switch)

Home | Logo

Home is the first game developed by indie developer Benjamin Rivers, and was originally released in 2012. It is a short horror title made with the premise of letting players choose their own interpretations of the game’s events. I am unsure how to feel about this approach to storytelling. On one hand, a good work of fiction should always involve some form of subtlety and allowing for multiple interpretations gives a work more versatility. On the other hand, actively trying to invoke “multiple interpretations” oftentimes comes across as if the writer wants to have an excuse to not finish writing the plot and addressing every plot point.

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MOTHER 3 (GBA): A Genuine Classic (Detailed Review)

MOTHER 3 | Chapter 6

I really should have played this game a lot sooner than I did. I’ve commonly listed EarthBound as one of, if not my favorite games of all time. It’s hard to believe that my review of EarthBound was only the 2nd review I ever wrote, and yet I did not get around to even playing the equally amazing sequel until 7 years later.

To be honest, I may have just played MOTHER 3 for the first time fairly recently, but I have seen a lets play of it before. Hell I was actually introduced to this series through the lets plays of Chuggaaconroy and NintendoCapriSun, which I just realized were posted over a decade ago. Hell now that I think about it, I think I first saw those LPs almost a decade ago. Read more

Standard Review: Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I (PS3/360/Wii/PC/IOS/Android/OUYA)

Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 1 | Logo

I have always had a history with the Sonic the Hedgehog series. I grew up with both of the Sonic Adventure titles and I formed a connection with both of them early on. I also was nostalgic for the Genesis games seeing as how I played them through Sonic Mega Collection. I did enjoy games like Sonic Heroes, Secret Rings, and Unleashed despite the poor reception they received, and was lucky enough to have never played the infamous Sonic 06 due to not having either console it was on. Despite this, I missed out on Sonic the Hedgehog 4 when it was originally released on the WiiWare, Xbox Live Arcade, and Playstation Store in 2010, as I fell out of the Sonic series around that time despite it supposedly being where the series got good again for a short while. Read more

Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (SNES): Shoots for the Moon, Lands Among the Stars (Detailed Review)

Super Mario RPG | Bowyer

Super Mario RPG is a game that, when it was originally released, likely met with a lot of skepticism. Squaresoft’s RPGs are generally known as their huge sweeping tales that were not like anything that most gamers have seen at the time. Mario games, on the other hand, generally had no story beyond the typical excuse plot involving rescuing the princess. I can imagine the surprise when the two ended up going together like peanut butter and chocolate.

Since then, there have been two sub series that have been considered spiritual successors to Super Mario RPG; those being the Paper Mario series, and the Mario & Luigi series. Super Mario RPG was also one of the last games released for the Super Nintendo in 1996 and was the last game Squaresoft developed for a Nintendo system until Final Fantasy Tactics Advance in 2003. Super Mario RPG was the source of many technical achievements and innovations for the time of its release, but the real question is if it is as impressive today as it was in 1996. Read more

Dragon Quest III: The Seeds of Salvation (NES/SNES/GBC/Ios/3DS/PS4/Switch): A JRPG Legend (Detailed Review)

Dragon Quest III | Box art

A lot of us who live outside of Japan don’t realize just how important the Dragon Quest series is to gaming. So many of us are bound to have at least one JRPG among our favorites of all time, yet ultimately aren’t familiar with the series that put this genre on the map. I’ve often thought of what it must be like to discuss the differences in gaming culture with a gamer from Japan, about the differences in popularity and what games that we never got in our respective countries.

Dragon Quest III is to the Dragon Quest series what Final Fantasy VII is to the Final Fantasy series. It’s the one that damn near every thinks of when they hear the name of the series. I finally got the chance to play through Dragon Quest III for myself a few months ago through its Switch port, and even thirty years after its release, it still kicks some serious ass! Read more

Bravely Default (3DS): Many Will Play, Few Will Finish (Detailed Review)

Bravely Default | battle

Ever since I knew of Bravely Default’s existence, I was hyped up for it. Just about everything I saw was a sign that pointed to this being an amazing game. First of all, it being a spiritual successor to Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light was a good sign seeing as how I found that to be one of the more underrated games in the Final Fantasy series. 4 Heroes of Light was a game I greatly enjoyed just due to how it managed to easily capture the feelings of Final Fantasy I-III while improving on their mechanics and presentation. Many have criticized it for being unpolished or overly difficult, but that was not correct. The game, despite not being easy in any sense, was well balanced enough due to how much more accessible and convenient the game’s job system was than previous games like Final Fantasy V. Yet what was probably the most memorable aspect of 4 Heroes of Light was its simplicity. Read more

YOU and ME and HER: A Love Story (PC): A Masterful Step (Detailed Review)

YOU and ME and HER | Cover art

Some times, the best things are those you don’t see coming. Prior to last week, I didn’t even know this game existed. Despite the fact that my reviews of visual novels tend to gain the most views, I haven’t found myself as familiar with the genre as some other visual novel fans. And honestly I have to ask, HOW is something as brilliant as this game not more popular? I get that it has only just now been released in the US, but you’d think that word of mouth would travel beyond language barriers.

Simply put, I have not been this floored by a game since I played Euphoria, and this game may be even better than it. Let that sink in… I wrote a thesis length essay on Euphoria… I was expecting to never find another work of fiction in any genre that blew my mind the same way. I don’t even know where to begin. Even though you obviously won’t see this piece until I complete it, right now I don’t even know how I’m going to. I just can’t think of the words to adequately describe my feelings towards this game, and describing my feelings towards games is my fucking job! Read more

Standard Review: Scratches: Director’s Cut (PC)

Scratches: Director’s Cut is an updated port of an Argentinean point and click horror game, simply titled Scratches, that was originally released in 2006. The Director’s Cut of the game was originally released in 2007 and was released on Steam in 2011, only to later be removed. Looking it up, I was intrigued by what I heard about this game. There was very little that was mentioned about this game beforehand, but pretty much everything I heard was something good. Specifically what I heard that caught my attention was that it was a game that managed to scare people without including a single drop of blood. Yes this game is a T rated horror game, and not only does it have no blood, but there are not even any enemies or ways to die. Despite this, Scratches does an excellent job at building up suspense and being legitimately scary at some points.

Admittedly, I would not say it is the scariest horror game I have played, and I have not even played that many, but it does have a story that is very compelling and suspenseful. Unfortunately it is also pretty slow and takes a while to build up to where it gets really exciting, and considering that the gameplay is rather poorly handled, it means that it will not catch your attention right away. To add to this, the game is pretty short lived and somewhat uneventful. Overall Scratches is good for what it is and what it accomplishes. It manages to provide a compelling and creepy atmosphere without any violence despite being a bit slow. Read more