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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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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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

Standard Review: Duck Season (PC)

Duck Season | Header

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

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

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

Amazing VGM: Sealed Door (Chrono Trigger)

Chrono Trigger | Sleeps beyond the flow of time

So we all agree Chrono Trigger is amazing, and we all agree that it’s music is also amazing. I have considered replaying it for review purposes, but something something backlog too big blah blah blah you heard it all before. So I did the next best thing and watched Chuggaaconroy’s lets play of it. I remember a time when the most subscribed lets player on Youtube actually made videos for the fun of it as opposed to making them to cash in on fads. Yes I know he only covered this game last year, but we are talking about a game about time travel so… okay fuck it, I was just feeling nostalgic… and spiteful.

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Bayonetta (PS3/PS4/360/XONE/WiiU/Switch/PC): One of a Kind (Detailed Review)

Bayonetta | Sapentia

I’d imagine that given my propensity towards fanservicey anime-esque games with sexy women involved, that it comes as a surprise that I haven’t played Bayonetta until recently. The major reason I haven’t played it until recently is because it originally released back in 2010 when I didn’t have a PS3 or 360. I actually acquired a copy of the Wii U version of Bayonetta 2 back around 2014 or 2015, but I never got around to playing it or many of the Wii U games I owned in general due to the fact that depression hit me pretty hard around that time, and before that I was in a phase where I was only interested in JRPGs.

I actually decided to play and review the first Bayonetta as a result of a poll I held on my now suspended Twitter account, and it was held to serve as a milestone to me gaining $50 a month through Patreon. That was over a year ago, and I am just now getting to that review. Yes I know, I am very slow. And Bayonetta is fucking amazing! 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