I am a woman with a lot of different ambitions. Just focusing on game reviews and coverage, I often have so many different niches to choose from that it can be difficult to keep a focus. This plays into why it’s been over a year since the last time I made an Impressions & Commentary piece. Thus the common thread in the two I’ve done is that they are impressions of the opening to a game, whether it be a Demo or the in game intro. The subject of today’s piece is the former, and is the first non visual novel to be covered in this format by me.
She Dreams Elsewhere is an indie RPG that its developer has described to me in an email as “like EarthBound had a baby with Adult Swim.” The cliche comparison framing aside, I would note that the idea of EarthBound x Adult Swim has actually been done before with LISA: The Painful, a game which I have also gave a glowing review to before. I also believe the the comparison is far more befitting for LISA than She Dreams Elsewhere but I will get to that a little later.
LOVE is certainly a unique game to say the least, but unique does not necessarily mean creative in this sense. In actuality, LOVE is an incredibly minimalist platformer that is manages to make a fun game out of incredibly simplistic mechanics and uses everything they can get out of them. Unfortunately LOVE is also a game that is way too brief to really recommend considering how little content it has. LOVE was originally an Ouya exclusive until the beginning of 2014 when it got ported to Steam. So far it is the first and only game to be designed by Fred Wood whose name sounds uncannily similar to Ed Wood. Also it has a very strange choice for a title seeing as how it has nothing to do with the game.
One may have noticed that a lot of indie platformers tend to go with a retro aesthetic as of late. On one hand, one could see this as a way to capture the feelings of platformers of the time and are missing in games today. On the other hand, one could see them as a way of cashing on nostalgia from older gamers while simultaneously avoiding innovation and saving on the graphics budget. You Have to Win the Game is somewhere in between those two. One obviously cannot claim it is a cash in due to it being free to play and I don’t doubt there was a legitimate vision set for this title. However it is clear that this vision was a rather bland one.
Right from when you start up you can tell this game is trying way too hard to be a 1980s PC title. The first thing you hear is loud typing noises as the title is typed out automatically. You are given absolutely zero plot or back story in this game and your only motivation is, as the title says, “to win the game.” As far as I know, there isn’t even a story given for the game on its Steam page, just play it because they say so. I admit it is rather petty to really complain about this and I don’t even consider it a flaw; just more of an indication. Read more
I’ve talked about Misao: Definitive Edition a couple weeks ago. I did find that there was at least a marginal amount of appeal to that game, but it fell apart under close scrutiny and it becomes hard to recommend. Mad Father was originally released in 2012 as a freeware title and was the second game developed by Sen after the original version of Misao. Despite this, Mad Father received a remake for Steam before Misao did. After having played both games it is quite obvious as to why; Mad Father is an immensely superior title.
The reason that Mad Father is so much better than Misao can be chalked up to a much more consistent story with much stronger writing. I do not consider Mad Father a perfect game by any stretch and it certainly has its fair share of issues, but I will say that I found this one have much stronger substance in its content and there were at least a few genuinely scary moments. Read more
Always The Same Blue Sky makes a rather bold claim on its Steam page. In all caps it proclaims “THIS IS NOT YOUR TYPICAL VISUAL NOVEL.” However I am going to have to disagree with that assessment. Always the Same Blue Sky is not bad by any means and does have its good qualities, but it is ultimately way too short and underdeveloped to consider this one to be above average.
TW: Misogyny, rape.
I’m no stranger to holding unique or contrarian views in regards to games. You kind of need to have either unique opinions or insight in order for people to want to hear what you have to say after all. There unfortunately comes the risk of having people accuse you of being purposefully contrarian in an attempt to garner attention rather than giving your own honest opinion.
The truth is that these are all my genuine opinions, I just don’t put that much stock in what everyone else thinks. I’ve always disliked how cliquish and conformist most mainstream gaming sites are in regards to games (among other things) and it always comes across as cringe worthy how people will take their word as law despite the fact that gaming media has become widely distrusted as of late.
I did not go into Duke Nukem Forever expecting to enjoy it as much as I did. Aside from the game’s poor reception there is also the fact that I never got into first person shooters even when they ARE well received. My only experience with the Call of Duty series for instance is playing about two hours of the first Modern Warfare and quitting because the game just didn’t click with me. Granted that was a few years ago and I did not play enough to get a full impression but I have other games I’m far more interested in. Read more
I’m not entirely sure how to feel about Dear Esther. I did enjoy it to an extent, far more so than I have enjoyed games influenced by its design. Specifically, I really enjoyed the graphical design and the music of the game, and the story actually had some layer of depth to it. Despite this though, I still did not find myself satisfied with it at the end of the day. It may be pretty, it may sound nice, and it may show some level of competence that was not shown in games like Gone Home, but it still does not change the fact that it is still a gameplay-less walking simulator that is over in less than two hours.
While the story does have some amount of depth to it, it is not a story that is particularly entertaining to see play out. The reason for this is due to the abstract nature of the plot. Dear Esther is not like any traditional form of storytelling that puts you in the perspective of a character and tells a story from his or her view. In Dear Esther, you do not even know who you are playing as or who the narrator is. In fact, you never see any characters in this game. There are no cutscenes or anything; it all just consists of walking forward and narration. Read more
Disclaimer: Rather than putting up a usual content warning at the start, I’m just going to say that if you are sensitive to any strong content and will be negatively affected, then I would not advise reading this article. I briefly talked about the content of the game in my original review, but this article is about to go a lot further into detail. There will also be far more elaboration on the plot related and thematic concepts present, which really just makes everything ever more disturbing.
If you read further on and end up seriously scarred by the content, I will not be paying for your therapy bills, but I will feel very bad about it. Also, there will be spoilers for every major plot event in Euphoria.
Ever since I completed Euphoria, I have thought about it over and over. My review was over 5k words but I still left a lot of stuff untouched. I have been considering writing more analytical pieces referring to more philosophical and abstract aspects of games rather than straight up reviews. I say this because I have the tendency to notice a lot of tiny details that most don’t. Furthermore, these types of analyses are typically reserved for more mainstream titles and not niche Japanese shit (especially in the eroge category).
I briefly mentioned in my review of Euphoria how well it portrayed a mentally ill protagonist in a way that most western games will never even attempt. The reason is likely because the Japanese are much more lax on sexuality than westerners are and are less likely to write off an entire game because it has sexual content. The truth is that Japanese eroge have significantly more attempts at being more than fap fuel than what most westerners are accustomed to. Allow me to talk for a second about why pornography has the reputation it does. Read more
I have been a fan of the EarthBound series for many years at this point. I first became a fan from watching various lets plays of the game back around 2008 or 2009, because at the time I knew nothing about roms and emulators, and I clearly could not afford a copy of EarthBound. After having been moved by both EarthBound and Mother 3, I was enamored with the series for several months to the point of near obsession. As such, the series was very influential to my experiences as a gamer, despite me having experienced them over a decade after EarthBound’s release.
I didn’t end up playing EarthBound on my own until I bought a cart myself despite the huge price, and I’m still glad I have a physical copy seeing as how it’s my favorite game of all time, and I only played Earthbound Beginnings last year when it was released on the Wii U e-shop. Hell I still have not legitimately played Mother 3 and am waiting until its inevitable e-shop release to do so (although as I said, I have seen let’s plays of it and know enough to say that’s it’s pretty much a masterpiece) Read more
The last two twins stick shooters I reviewed were… kinda shit. Those two games were Hatred and Venusian Vengeance. The former was a soulless cash in whose only claim to fame was shallow shock value that can only effect the most sheltered of individuals, and the latter was an ugly looking and tedious “retro throwback” with plodding level design. Riddled Corpses EX thankfully bucks this trend by being a good game.
I should clarify that I have not touched the original Riddled Corpses and that this version (the PS4 version in particular) was my first introduction to this title. The changes to the original game from what I looked up include an additional story mode, an engine that runs at 60 FPS, character stats, a new soundtrack (or possibly two depending on whether or not the unlockable metal arrangement were in the original game), online leader boards, a revamped combo system, two player co-op (online, but not local), and less grinding. Read more