CW: Mentions of Nazism, pedophilia, incest, antisemitism, and kidnapping
It seems as if the games I play are constantly trying to push the envelope for different ways to be absolutely fucking awful. I am at the point where if someone asked me the worst game I ever played, I’d ask what criteria they are basing them on. I could go with the game that was so disgusting and scarring that it made me suicidal, I could go with the no-budget “experimental” game that included real life gore in it, I could go with the RPG Maker game with no battles, levels, dialogue, or ending, or I could go with the game that required you to manually rename the game’s exe file to even play it.
Games&Girls is now among those games as “the visual novel that I almost didn’t review because I didn’t think I could review it without insulting the developer.” And even approaching this review is difficult because I’m not sure if I should do what I usually do and start describing the story, writing, presentation, or open with the fact that the 4th episode has you trying to seduce a fucking Nazi?
God damn, I wrote my review of You Have to Win the Game six years ago. I was either 19 or 20 when I wrote that review. More time has passed since I wrote that review than has passed between the original release of You Have to Win the Game and its sequel, Super Win the Game. No, that’s not a jab saying that the game was made too quickly after the original, it’s a two year gap. It’s just… time goes by so slow yet so fast.
So I recently decided to check out Super Win the Game to see if it’s any better than its predecessor. Super Win the Game is, in fact, better than You Have to Win the Game. While neither game is a must play by any means, it is nice to see that a lot of the issues I had with the previous game were resolved in this one.
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.
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.
I have a strange fascination with the “meta-horror” sub genre as of late. It is one thing to scare the player by having big freaky monsters jump out at them from behind the bushes and go “OOGEDY BOOGEDY BOOGOLY,” but it’s another to use the player’s connection to something from their childhood to hit them on a personal level. It is because of this that I spent more time than justified reading those stupid gaming creepypastas that were about as scary as Donald Trump trying to walk up a flight of stairs without complaining.
I have already covered a fair few games based around this sort of premise, and despite the fact that it isn’t exactly something that’s never been done before, I do find that there is enough unique variance that makes me want to check all of these out. Duck Season is the most recent of these that I have tried out, and it was definitely something. Read more
Serena is a very brief yet powerful point and click game that leaves a large emotional impact on the player. It has received a lot of support from the adventure fan community and has had some high profile people involved such as former Sierra staff member Josh Mandel, and the character Serena being voiced by Sarah Wilson, otherwise known as Pushing up Roses. This game was also the first to be developed by Senscape, who is headed by Agustin Cordes. When compared to Agustin Corde’s previous game, Scratches, Serena’s story is far more compelling and deep yet the game itself also has far less content. The one important aspect to note about Serena is that the game can be beaten in less than an hour. However, the game is free to play, and as a result, I cannot think of any reason not to recommend Serena. Read more
This just in, this blog talks about games and not just politics! Yeah, last three posts have been political, not counting a review I deleted due to… reasons I don’t want to go into. I figure I’ve been overdue on another Amazing VGM entry as well. So picking a game at random we have… well, just look at the title. No, not every track in the game is a number, it’s just a title scheme for tracks created by artist AM3 for the game. AM3 is not very good at coming up with song titles.
Asphyxia is a rather conflicting game for me. It, at first, seems like a recipe for a hit given its odd premise of being a yuri dating sim where the girls are based off of British authors from the 1800s and early 1900s (which is going to be lost on anyone who is not an English major, so I’m not going to be talking about it much). It also tells what by all means should be a very engrossing and compelling storyline with deep characters and mature themes. There is a lot to like about Asphyxia, but for once the problem with a story is not that it is shallow or amateurishly written.
Instead, much like those works of “classic” literature that we we’re forced to plow through in school, Asphyxia’s writing is plodding and stuffy. The characters do not talk like real people, there is an unnecessary amount of description put into insignificant details, and I just found myself trying to speed read through as much as I could in order to finish the game. In the end, I was curious enough about the storyline to get every ending, but it is not a game I plan to replay nor is it one I can recommend. Read more
Just now, I needed to take a look at my previous review of The Friends of Ringo Ishikawa. I needed to do so because my feelings on Lucah: Born of a Dream are similar to that game, and I don’t want people to think I’ve gotten lazy (although with my less frequent updates, that ship has probably sailed). Also similarly to The Friends of Ringo Ishikawa, I did not care for this game.
Both are unique games that clearly had a strong ambition, and both are games that I can imagine a specific niche of people enjoying, but ultimately, both games disregard some of the most important rules of game design and create something that fails to engage overall. The difference between the two games is that they abandon different rules. Ringo Ishikawa abandoned the rules that games should be fun or accessible and tried to use its abysmal gameplay as a storytelling tool.
It’s no doubt that I have covered some strange games over the past few years. I could have taken the typical route as video game blogger and just covered all the newest and most popular games, but there is something that always draws me to these odd titles that are not perfect by any means, yet still have their own unique charm to them.
The Friends of Ringo Ishikawa is the most recent game I’ve played that fits this category. It is one of those “I would not have played this on my own if I didn’t get a review copy” games, and I would say that I’m glad I played it, although I’m not sure I will be playing it again any time soon. Read more