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

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

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

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