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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Standard Review: Serena (PC)

Serena | Logo

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

Standard Review: Asphyxia (PC)

Asphyxia | Logo

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

Aozora Meikyuu (PC): A Beautiful Trainwreck (Detailed Review)

Aozora Meikyuu | Title screen

Aozora Meikyuu is a short and brief ecchi visual novel by developer Yume Creations, a team name that I’m not sure exists because Dream Creations was taken by a rhinestone trimming company or if the devs were just total weebs. One can definitely get the impression that it is the latter since Yume Creation’s other games are also short ecchi visual novels with anime girls.  I want to make it clear I have nothing against anime tiddies and actually kinda liked Aozora Meikyuu, but it’s not a good game.

Aozora Meikyuu, which means “Blue Sky” in Japanese and leaves me once again unsure if the name was left in Japanese to avoid confusion with the similarly titled visual novel “Always the Same Blue Sky” that I also reviewed or if the devs are just total nerds, is something that I enjoyed in a “so bad its good” kind of way. More specifically, it is a poorly written and overall stupid mess, but it also has a unique charm that appeals to me as an otaku turned feminazi. Read more

Steam Greenlight Landfill: The Path

The Path | Logo

The Path is…. weird. I was considering just not reviewing this game because normally it doesn’t look like good form to say “Fuck I don’t know” in a game review, but that’s basically my thoughts on The Path in a nutshell.

Image result for The path game

For those unaware, The Path was the first major title of the indie studio Tale of Tales. Tale of Tales is basically the equivalent of if Coda from The Beginner’s Guide actually existed and sold his games. This was a major issue I had with the first game they released, known as The Graveyard. The Path is an improvement over The Graveyard in that there is actual longevity and an overarching story to it. There is actual shit to do and some aspects that are almost kind of like a game. But The Path is not any more enjoyable to play than The Graveyard.

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Steam Greenlight Landfill: The Graveyard

It really blows my mind that any developer could release a game like The Graveyard and think it is a good idea. I do not even mean that in the sense that it was an incomplete game; I mean that as in this game was dead on arrival (no pun intended). In concept, one can already tell that The Graveyard does not even attempt to be a good game. I will do my best to keep this review from devolving into a rant, but I cannot make any promises.

In The Graveyard, you play as an old woman who is walking slowly to a bench. You then sit down on the bench, wait for five minutes while a very bland and droning song sang in German plays. Afterwards, you get up and walk out of the graveyard; that’s it. One may naively think that I am just being snarky and leaving out exactly how these events occur, but I am not. That is literally all that happens in this game. Read more

Standard Review: Silenced: The House (PC)

Silenced: The House | Title screen

CW: Gore and violent imagery, murder, death, misogyny, ableism.

Welcome to another edition of “obscure indie visual novels that only eight people on planet earth have heard of and only three including me care about.” I am your host Annie Gallagher and today we are taking a look at Silenced: The House on Steam and Itch.io. I actually may have never even heard of this game myself if it were not for the fact that this game’s developer followed me on Twitter and this game came up in conversation. I was initially planning to ask for a review copy, but after seeing that the game was only $2.00 at full price AND on sale since it just launched I figured I wouldn’t be losing that much by doing so. In hindsight this was a bit of a mistake on my part since

Gotcha!

This game is actually pretty damn good.
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Gone Home (PS4/XONE/Switch/PC): Go Home, Gone Home, You’re Drunk! (Detailed Review)

Gone Home | Pirate flag

I honestly did not think that I would ever be reviewing a game that I hated this much that also happened to be well received by the gaming community. Honestly I do not see how this game got any attention whatsoever, let alone being hailed as a key point in the evolution of gaming. If this is the direction that games are going to be heading then I may just start reading books instead. Gone Home is something that is so basic and primitive that it can barely even count as a game, yet it does not come close to having the artistic merit to be considered a movie or book. The story that the game is trying to tell is padded out across a four hour “game” that has no form of engaging gameplay and the four hours I spent with this game felt like the longest four hours of my life. There is genuinely nothing good I can think of saying as a serious praise. Gone Home is just a complete incomprehensible mess.

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Steam Greenlight Landfill: Final Quest II

Final Quest II | loading screen save

Good fucking god why did I even bother to play this piece of shit? I was not thinking this game would turn out good after the first game was such a train wreck, but this one is not only worse, it is a FUCK LOAD worse! The first Final Quest is Mother 3 compared to this miscarriage of a game! Final Quest II is so bad that I now take back every positive thing I said about it’s developer. I take it back because a game as bad as Final Quest II CANNOT be released at retail without the developers noticing. A development team that would knowingly release a game as unplayable as Final Quest does NOT deserve your money or support.

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Max, An Autistic Journey (PC): Could Have Been an Artistic Journey, but Wasn’t (Detailed Review)

Max, an Autistic Journey | Title

TW: Ableism… what did you expect in a game subtitled “An Autistic Journey?”

The observant eye might have noticed that the puzzle piece is a common symbol that is used to represent people with autism. The reasoning behind this was to represent both the puzzling nature of the condition as well as the fact that every autistic person is a unique individual. The puzzle piece is also a recurring symbol in Max, an Autistic Journey, due to the game’s focus on autism as a central theme.

As a “high functioning” autistic individual (Note: That means I can talk), I dislike the use of the puzzle piece as a way of representing autistic people as a whole. We should not be labeled like autism makes us some kind of unnatural enigma that is incomprehensible, when we are human beings just like everyone else. I am not the only one who feels this way either as this can easily be seen by Google searching “autism puzzle piece” and seeing several articles stating their disfavor with the symbol. Also it does not help Professional Imagination’s case when they Read more