Author Topic: The Silver Sorrow Review Thread  (Read 6583 times)

Offline Silver Sorrow

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Moons of Madness
« Reply #15 on: August 10, 2020, 07:00:40 PM »
Moons of Madness

I guess this doesn't really qualify as a review...much like everything else I've done...probably more of a brief "impression" summary.

Starfox already posted a comprehensive review of this game, so refer to that if you require actual information.

Okay.

This isn't really a walking simulator per se, but close enough to make this list. (And it's MY list, so deal with it.) While you can die, it does lend more to puzzles -- at least initially -- than frantic survival. No, that part shows up about halfway through, goes away for a while, then resurfaces periodically.

You're an engineer named Shane Newehart, a graduate of good ol' Miskatonic U. You remember the official Miskatonic Tech U (The Blasphemin’ Shoggoths) cheer, don't you?

Give ‘em hell!
Give ‘em heck!
Shake your claws
For Miska-Tech!
Gooooooo TENTACLES!

Oh. Ah. Anyway, your family and friends think you're freezing your fundament off in Antarctica, but you're actually on Mars. Very secret. Very hush-hush. There were NDAs involved. You work for Orichi, which is doing...something...on Mars. (Think Weyland-Yutani, but much more not okay.) It all comes out eventually when Things Go Wrong. No spoilers from me.

Essentially, it's a Lovecraftian (not kidding) tale that requires a bit of puzzle solving, some frantic running, more puzzles, then some more running, a stealth section, more running, a fight with a tree, and so on. It's enough to make a man want to end his sentences in breathless italics...

The only thing I really had an issue with was the unmappable nature of the default controls. I still have trouble navigating with a controller in FPSes, so I stick to the mouse/keyboard. WASD is the rule here, but I'm used to WZXC (thanks, Thief series!). I get cramps in my left hand with WASD. I hate hand cramps. And the devs show no sign whatsoever of fixing such a stupid gaffe in their game. I'm thinking open revolt, followed by public executions.

Oh, and relying upon checkpoints? In 2020?? Ridiculous.

Otherwise, I'd recommend it...but only if on sale. I paid $24.99 for it, and I don't think I'll ever feel the need to play it again, so...yeah. Wait for a sale.

Bottom line: 4.5 out of 5. One half point deducted for the two issues I outlined. Still, a pretty good game.

~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~

HEY! YOU! YES, YOU! HERE'S A BONUS WASTE OF YOUR TIME AND MINE:

Announcer: Please welcome a guest to our country, Ireland's own...The Banshee. Ladies and gentlemen, please rise for our National Anthem.

[and The Star-Spangled Banner begins]

[a series of gut-wrenching shrieks]

Commentator #1: I don't believe it, Ray! Jimmy Ray Shub-Niggurath, quarterback for the Shoggoths and Black Goat Of The Woods With A Thousand Young, is taking a knee!

Commentator #2: And so is his Thousand Young!

Color Commentator: I guess pitch-black tentacled monstrosities really DO matter!

Commentator #2: Oh...my...God! Something is happening at the 50 yard line! The gound is swelling! Cracking! Something is burtsting from the ground!

Commentator #1: It's great Cthulhu himself!

Color Commentator: Unholy shit!

Cthulhu: [in a thundering voice] YOU ASSHOLES. GET OFF YOUR KNEES AND JUST PLAY THE FUCKING GAME!

[Cthulhu sinks back into the earth, which closes over him. The crowd is stunned speechless. It is quite silent in the stadium. The head referee, legs shaking, gestures for the ball, which is tossed to him. Jimmy Ray and his thousand offspring sheepishly regain their feet. The Ref blows his whistle. The team captains cross to him and prepare for the coin-toss.]

Commentator #1: Well! After a bit of a dramatic start, we're back on track for Arkham Mayhem! As the fans know, this is the annual meeting of the state's favorite teams, the Miskatonic Tech Shoggoths and the Crouch End Commandos. Who will take home the coveted Bloody Chalice? Last year it was the Shoggoths with their last-second touchdown, an upset that made many Commandos fans disavow the existence of Nyarlathotep himself. The Black Man was not happy, to put it mildly. So everyone's been waiting for this and wondering: who will take the Cup this year?

Commentator #2: Actually, I'm wondering how a technical college got accredited as a full-blown university, Gene.

Color Commentator: And I'm wondering how Cthulhu did that trick in the field. He isn't known for that sort of thing, is he?

Commentator #2: You're right, Steve. He's more...water-based?

Commentator #1: [nervously] Let's...uh...let's keep our eye on the ball, gentlemen?

[general nervous assent]

Color Commentator: But I just gotta ask: who the hell made Azathoth band director? That wind section is just a bunch of idiots piping randomly...

~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~
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Offline Silver Sorrow

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Gone Home
« Reply #16 on: August 11, 2020, 10:04:29 AM »
DISCLAIMER: Uh...this one's a little weird. As if the last one wasn't? Yup. I've been told that this may be due to cabin fever. Well...okay. Whatever. As I told someone recently, the good thing about going crazy in isolation and launching an axe-murdering spree is that, as I live alone, I'll be the only one getting axe-murdered. The other person just chuckled nervously and changed the subject.

[Incidentally, here's Bobdog's actual review.]

Also, possible spoilers ahead. The game's been out for a few years now, so deal with it.

~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~

Gone Home

It was a dark and stor--no. I'm not doing it.

I played this not long after it first came out, and wasn't too impressed. Now that I've played it again...still not all that impressed. I found it somewhat disappointing, really. The atmosphere sets up this creepy house with an infamous reputation amongst the locals (the Psycho House! Woooo!); no one is home, it's a dark and st...no, still not doing that. Anyway: thunder...lightning...you get the picture. And for what? Well...you're just going to have to decide for yourself. Personally, I was hoping that some eldritch horror had dragged your folks into a hellish realm of torture and insanity, but noooooooooooooo.

Anyway, you are...hell, I don't remember. Linda, or something. The year is 1995. You've come home from a year-long jaunt in Europe...gaaaah, white folks and their Grand Tours...and no is home to greet you. Holy jumpin' jehosephat, it's time to check your ammo and make sure you have plenty of adrenaline packs because--

--no, wait. Not that kind of game.

So you're on the front porch and you have to find the key to the front door. Apparently your family moved to this place while you were annoying Parisians with your high school French, so you don't have a key. But you know that there's a key around here somewhere...

And things happen...or not...from there. The house is dark, it's old, and you regret having your pubes dreadlocked in Ireland. They said it was a local custom and you believed them like the genius you are. Well...at least the lights work. The electricity's good, despite an absolute bastard of a storm moving in. Oh, wait...it's an old house with funky wiring, so some of the lights are going to flicker or just not work at all.

Is that normal? I mean, just moving into a century-old house with the wiring as-is? Don't bother having it replaced...it's so expensive, you know? And having the house spontaneously burn down is what makes life so exciting; tragic random misfortune makes you feel so alive!

So you look around. You begin to get a picture of each person's life through the magic of riffling through their stuff.

In a box in the library, you find your dad's porn stash -- you hope that the centerfold doesn't resemble you or your sister -- and note that dad is a writer, of sorts. He writes tech reviews for a home electronics magazine, apparently. He wrote a couple of books back in the dim, dead days of the 1970's; the first sold well enough, the second one didn't and his publisher dropped him. Since then, he hasn't written anything of note, except for a couple of scathing reviews of Sony's Betamax player ("Will not reheat leftover pizza and would barely melt the cheese in my grilled cheese sandwich until it caught fire. Zero stars."). Dad is obviously frustrated creatively and getting even more so as he gets older. It's starting to affect his reviews ("...these DigiTech cherry-flavored LED butt-plugs remind me of my youth in Treefucker, Oregon, particularly the summers, when I would momentarily flee my uncle's flailing penis and chase after the ice cream truck..."), although you remember with great fondness his excoriation of HP's amberchrome monitor ("...totally inadequate to the needs of both me and my tropical fish...").

Mom, on the other hand, works for the Forestry division. Conservation or some damn thing. It's the Pacific Northwest after all, a magical place featuring tree-centric industry and domestic terrorists screaming spittle-intensive slogans about the divinity of trees and spiking them so that lumberjacks suffer debilitating injuries. I know Mother Nature is a heartless twat and we expect that sort of attitude from her devotees, but show some civility, yeah? Instead of nails, spike 'em with Skittles! ("Yes, I lost a hand...but goddamn if my stump just doesn't taste delicious, you know? TASTE THE RAINBOW. Go on, taste it! Where are you going? Come back here and lick my wrist stump, you little bastard!")

You get the impression, after rummaging through mom's possessions, that she's being spiked herself -- ha! -- by a young co-worker, Chunk Oakpecker. Nothing concrete, mind you...I would say it's not possible, as I've seen the family portrait and concluded that mom couldn't get laid in a men's supermax prison using Ariana Grande's vagina.

Your sister Sam...okay, back up a bit--

--wait. She's my sister Sam? Does Pam Dawber know about this?

Note to self: shut up.

But about your sister: if you checked the answering machine when you entered the house, you heard several breathless, frantic messages from a young woman, calling for your sister. Right off the bat, you would probably think "so THAT'S how it is!" And you'd be right: your sister is an assistant youth pastor for the local Baptist church, working tirelessly and selflessly to protect runaway girls at risk.

Nah, just kidding. She's a burgeoning lesbian with a severe case of Teen Angst. There is no cure for this insidious malady, only time. The angst, I mean. Lesbianism should be encouraged...but only if the women are hot and open to being filmed--

--no. I didn't write that. You didn't read that.

What I meant to say was that the only cure for Teen Angst is time. And lots and lots of mix tapes featuring 90's White Grrrl Punk. Perhaps your dad could do the world a favor and murder the family in their sleep. This might be just the push he needs...do it...just open the gas valve and let the nepenthe of odorless death make the pain of living go away...

Again, you didn't read that. Moving on.

In short, your merciless scrutiny of your family's privacy reveals that, yes, your sister's queer. (It's not exactly a surprise; she has a fastball that would take the head off a statue.) Problem is, your parents don't like the idea. At all. Doesn't help that she's in love (or obsessed? And what's the difference, other than how closely you pursue them?) with another girl at school, a punk-loving ROTC girl with...wait, what? She's into punk AND she wants to join the armed forces?

I hate the system and yet crave structure and discipline! ANARCHY IN MEASURED DOSES!

No wonder the parents don't want to deal with it.

So your sister is juiced to the gills with hormones and angst and all that stupid teenage crap that we all went through. Does that cover everything? Hang on...oh, she's also thinks she's a writer (a trap many of us have fallen into), and keeps going back to some pirate story that she first wrote about in grade school. And keeps going back. For shit's sake ENOUGH with the dumbass pirate story! Come up with something else, goddammit!

Sorry. SORRY. You know what, kid? Even Mike Oldfield managed to compose other things when he wasn't re-recording Tubular Bells yet again. Think about it.

On a side note: while going through your sister's room, you discover that she and your father share the same interest in reading material, if you catch my unavoidable drift. So at least they'll have that to bond over during Thanksgiving dinner.

Okay. So that's the picture that eventually unfolds: yet another messed up family, each person with their own problems. Welcome to the human race.

The question is, where did everyone go? The answer to that is the big letdown of the entire enterprise, but I won't spoil it. I just wanted to mention that I was hoping for something more...hmmm...I don't know...INTERESTING. Something like the eldritch horror scenario I mentioned way back at the beginning of this bitter diatribe, when we were younger and still had the will to live, more or less.

But let's distract ourselves from existential dread with other issues, shall we?

The allegedly spooky setting versus the narration by your sister doesn't make a lot of sense to me. (Although to be fair to the developers, consider the source: I am frequently baffled by sandwiches.) Do people ever rummage through someone's home while the voice of another person narrates? I mean, yeah, if you picked up a page of, say, a script and read it with that person's voice in mind, I guess it would make perfect sense. But these "diaries" are triggered by picking up things like a tube of toothpaste (for example), resulting in a full-blown narrative journal that details feelings, circumstances, what have you. Is this journal or diary or whatever printed out on the items? Wouldn't that be a bit odd to see on, for example again, an orange juice carton? If so, wouldn't Sam's voice also read off the ingredients and whether or not this product contained my daily requirement of riboflavin?

Do you hear a voice-over as you examine someone's junk drawer? Sure, if you're possessed, yeah...but...wait. What if Sam is dead and her ghost is haunting the player? That would account for the voice-over. Wouldn't that be more intriguing (eldritch horror-wise) than the assumption that the young lass and her girlfriend are in a Motel 6 somewhere tribbing each other's brains out?

Oh, never mind.

On top of the disembodied voice giving its thoughts and impressions of the feelings triggered by the can of ravioli you just picked up (again: just for example), you may ask yourself, "What is that beautiful house?" You may ask yourself, "Where does that highway go to?" And you may ask yourself, "Am I right? Am I wrong?" And you may say to yourself, "My God! What have I done?" Letting the days go by, you...

...hang on, I think something went wrong there for a moment. But what I was getting at was the facility of obvious clues to further the narration and/or plot. So really: who leaves entirely relevant notes and letters and other documents detailing EXACTLY what the player needs to know, just laying around to be discovered? Yes, it moves things right along, and I'm thankful that I didn't have to dig through dozens of boxes in their attic just to discover a newspaper clipping about the death of the original owner of the house, but I lament that it's so...well, facile.

No, I understand necessity. I just wish such a thing happened in real life, because it's been two years since my dad died and I still can't figure out the password to his Surface.

Alas.

Moving right along.

Now, to further salt the wound enhance the creepy factor is that there IS a hint of supernatural delving. But...but it's just a red herring. Kids being kids. I suppose some wouldn't bother with it at all if they came right out and said, hey, this is a story about a teenage girl going through typical teen angst and shit, and then wrapped it up in an ordinary setting. Boring. So out comes the dark, creaky old house at midnight in the middle of a thunderstorm. Spooooooooooooky.

Gawd.

I feel as if I'm merely venting here, just dumping on an otherwise perfectly presentable product, but the sheer languor of these walking simulations is beginning to get to me. The combination of casual movement and a dreamy score make me want to load up Skyrim again and seriously inconvenience a dragon. To seriously misquote Asia, I'll catch the pearl and rip off the dragon's wings.

My apologies to the developers. It isn't your fault that I have issues. It was just the heat of the moment that showed in your eyes.

Okay, but seriously: my only real problems with this game encompass two points...upgradeable to three, if you're picky about being able to complete a full game in one sitting. However, my position is a prime example of indolence, in that I will refuse to move for hours at a time...which is probably why I can't feel my legs anymore. So I won't hammer on the length of the game.

One: the view slows down when passing over something interactive. It's an odd feeling, one that makes me feel slightly nauseous. I'm expecting my view to pan at a certain speed, but it's slowed by a door or a note as my reticule passes over the item.

Two: the soundtrack. I'm usually okay with 90's White Grrrl Punk, as long as I never have to listen to it, but this game features cassette tapes littered around the house featuring bands that...well, to be fair, some of them I liked. However, the song over the end credits, showcasing the sad tragedy of complete tone deafness, is particularly poignant...a compellingly atonal tribute to the singer's ultimately failed struggle to be talented.

If I must say something positive, at least you can manually save your game. At last...hallelujah, I can save at last.

In summary, this is an atmospheric jaunt through a dark house on a stormy night, perusing others' discarded notes and possessions to discover that the player's younger sister had a (metaphorical) hard-on for another girl and holy pork 'n' beans do I have to sit through another damned audio journal featuring someone with mental diarrhea angsting over how poopy her life is?

Bottom Line: 4 out of 5. Although the conclusion is something of a letdown, I did enjoy exploring the house.

~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~

BONUS!

"I Am The Devil!" Fun-Time Activity: Although there is no achievement or special outcome for doing so, take all the "men's magazines" you find and put them on your parent's bed. Bonus points for including all the teen fangirl mags as well.

Special "I'm Burning In Hell For All Eternity!" points if you take the extra step: loan the magazines to a bunch of homeless guys so they can jerk off on all the pages, THEN place them on your parents' bed.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2020, 10:33:43 AM by Silver Sorrow »
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Offline Silver Sorrow

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The Station
« Reply #17 on: August 12, 2020, 10:38:31 AM »
The Station

First thing? Can't remap the keys. This is gonna...

Actually, this turned out to be one of my favorites so far. A couple of startled kitten moments, perhaps, but no pants soiled.

Okay. You're sent to investigate the possible OSHA-related issues onboard the Aspinall...Epsilon...Ingersol l...Epi-pen...Epsom salts...Rocinante...hang on, gotta check...okay, it's the Espial. Yeah, that makes sense. Anyway, things have gone wrong on board the...uh...The Station...which was set to observe the planet of Psy Prime before First Contact is made; it hasn't been decided to do so yet, as from prior observation the inhabitants have been found to be a violent, deeply divided species in the middle of a civil war.

I don't want to spoil anything, but I was already anticipating the ending at this point. But I chose to ignore that and keep an open mind, much like a splintered wooden screen door with great big holes in the wire mesh, smacking disconsolately into a broken frame in the occasional gust of dusty wind. The horizon is flat and featureless and bleak. Nothing stirs. The distant nothingness shimmers in the heathaze. I feel like an alien. A stranger, in an alien place.

[Slapping face briskly.] Enough of that. It's time to stop this dreaming. Must rejoin the real world as revealed by orange lights and a smoky atmosphere. So anyway, the Espadrille...uh...Station...i s undetectable...indetectible.. .ah. Cannot be detected...under ideal operating circumstances, but circumstances are no longer ideal. You might say the Station was gripped by them, especially if you subscribe to the "plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose" philosophy that--

--stop looking at me like that. Okay, fine. No more Rush, no more Genesis. In this review. Happy? Good. Moving on.

So the Station is supposed to be completely invisible to the denizens of Psy Prime, who, as you will see from the observation windows, are happily blasting the living shit out of each other. But it isn't. Something's gone wrong and the various Not-Detectable aspects of the Station have failed. The crew are in danger of being detected and you gotta find out what's gone wrong before the Psy Prime-ates notice them and blast the Station out of the sky, just for fun.

So you dock your little shuttle...right, stop that. It's silly. So you come aboard SHUT UP.

...and look around. You don't see the captain's log, but...

My fault. Won't happen again. In this review.

It's dark and spooky, so it's time to turn up the goddamn gamma, because even in space I gotta see what I'm doing. So now it's up to you: time to futz around with various clues and items to find out what's shaking...

...the Station. The Station is shaking. Some serious shit is going down as you wander from room to room. The crew isn't gone, they're...no. That would be spoiling the fun, wouldn't it?

So things happen from there. Although there were times when I was miserably confused by simple puzzles -- I am abysmally stupid -- I actually enjoyed it. I managed to miss out on a couple of audio logs and other things before the ending played out, so I wasn't too happy about an unheralded Point Of No Return keeping me from discovering everything. The game's short enough, however, that a second playthrough wasn't a burden. It helps when you have no life.

Also, it let me further digest the story, so now I have an even better understanding of the big picture. And gas. So...hooray for that.

Interacting with the game world is fairly straightforward: the reticle turns to parentheses when something can be picked up, inspected, read, etc.; it's a soft gray color, which means that you'll probably lose track of it when something you need to look at is bright. Adding to this is the mechanic that was so annoying prevalent in What Remains Of Edith Finch, where something that can be opened -- a drawer, for example -- is opened by clicking on it and moving the mouse to slide it open. There are also a couple of computer interfaces that require sliding the mouse around, too.

Also, you have a...god, I don't know what to call these things anymore. I'll just call it your PDA. TAB brings it up and you can see a map of what you've discovered so far, as well as your objectives, inventory, and what's for lunch. Just kidding. There is no time for lunch. You have to find out what's happened or everyone...well, you and three others...are completely screwed.

But if you don't care about that, there's a Free Roam mode, where you can...well, freely roam around the Station with all access granted without solving puzzles. Just looking around.

On a happy note, the music didn't make me wish I was deaf, nor did the voice acting.

And best of all...you can manually save your progress.

Okay, I'm tired, hungry, and sick of typing. You're pissed off at having to read all this. I'm just gonna call this particular review done and grab me a sandwich. You just...you just go do whatever you're usually inclined to do.

Bottom Line: 4.75 out of 5.
Fun Fact! The cheetah can run 75 miles per hour! Faster, if on fire!

Offline Starfox

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Re: The Silver Sorrow Review Thread
« Reply #18 on: August 12, 2020, 10:00:37 PM »
Quote
Adding to this is the mechanic that was so annoying prevalent in What Remains Of Edith Finch, where something that can be opened -- a drawer, for example -- is opened by clicking on it and moving the mouse to slide it open.

OK, so if it's not too late, I'll give you an advice...stay away from The Beast Inside or you'll run the risk to seriously go crazy (although by that point most of the work is already done  :lol: ). In there you not only have to slide open/close things but you have to slide/close a door sometimes while a f..ing monster wants to quickly dispatch you with an axe and then to slide a furniture in front of the door for more security before said monster can open the door you just close. I haven't done a review of The Beast Inside because I haven't finished the game yet, not sure I ever will... I got bored sometime in chapter 8 while in a mine due to a stealth mechanic that is clearly not the brightest I've ever seen and repetitive puzzles. Anyway...

Now I'm gonna have a cold shower because today it was 39°C here (102.2°F -- see how friendly I am) and as a guy living in Normandy, I'm liquefied (it the sixth day in a row of this regimen). Although now it's night and temp is more bearable at 22°C so I'm also going to open all the windows. I don't have A/C because guess what, an A/C unit would be in use about 10 days a year where I live so what would be the point? So i have the next best thing, a fan unit that cools the air with water, itself cooled with an ice pack... how marvelous technology is... right?


Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world. -- A. Einstein

Offline Silver Sorrow

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Re: The Silver Sorrow Review Thread
« Reply #19 on: August 13, 2020, 11:01:10 AM »
The Beast Inside? I looked at the store page, and...yeah, sounds a bit...not within my wheelhouse, exactly. On the plus side, they did come out with Drug Dealer Simulator, as well as Agony and Lust For Darkness (according to one Steam reviewer: "BDSM meets Lovecraft."), which tells you something about their moral compass.

[From perusing the various reactions to their games, I guess the devs' output could be summed up: walking sims featuring jump scares, dodgy gameplay, she-demons with jiggle physics, and lots of horror-entwined eroticism (or vice-versa). I wonder if these are the guys who are in the demographic for the Rule 34 aspect of the Hellraiser series? ("If you like goopy, bloody sex and the worst that BDSM has to offer, then this movie/book/game is for you!")]

So thanks for the warning. Dealing with The Music Machine has already driven me crazy, but I don't have to go crazier:hammerhead:

Sorry about the heat...I just cannot stand hot weather, it makes me seriously sick. I hate the cold too, but with the cold you can dress warmer, use a blanket, set fire to yourself, etc. It can be managed. But heat? Hell's bells. I loathe it. And hey! The high is expected to be 99° today!

Which is probably why I adore my A/C unit. I keep it at a balmy 70°. My home life is much like Lovercraft's "Cool Air," I guess. But sometimes I just have to go outside for a few minutes to stop shivering. It's weird. I'm weird.

(Side note: when I inherited my parents' home, I also inherited the service/maintenance contract my dad had with a heating/air company. When my A/C started having problems, the guy told me that since the unit's over ten years old, I need to replace it right away. They tried to get me to sign myself into $13,500 worth of debt. Upon conferring with my uncle, he said I should tell them to kiss my ass. He called an old family friend -- he's an expert, I mean; he wasn't just a clueless friend of a friend -- who came out and simply replaced two aging components. The cost? $450.)

Stay cool!
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Offline Silver Sorrow

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The Vanishing of Ethan Carter Redux
« Reply #20 on: August 14, 2020, 01:03:03 AM »
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter Redux

One of the most well-known of the genre [if this was Wikipedia, some dipshit would've stuck a "citation needed" note here], this version features an engine upgrade from the initial release, along with various improvements here and there. Allegedly. I don't remember having many issues with the original. But I can't remember what I had for breakfast this morning (all I can recall is screaming, but I don't know if it was coming from inside my head or from the thing on the plate), so...yeah. Details are hazy.

That original, released back in 2012, used the Unreal Engine 3. Now it boasts UE4 and works pretty well on my setup. 'Course, I installed it on my C drive, which is an SSD. If I had installed it on my D drive (HDD), I might've had some issues? Perhaps. Regardless, UE4 makes for a breathtakingly beautiful game, and I lament the fact that it isn't being used for something like The Elder Scrolls 6, instead of powering yet another slew of braindead shooters wherein retards kill each other.

Anyway, you play Paul Prospero...uh, spiritual investigator, or something like that? I wasn't paying attention. But you noticed a few red flags in the fan mail correspondence of one Ethan Carter. So you investigate Red...Cheeks? Falls? Rosy Red Cheeks Falls? I don't know. Again, wasn't really paying attention. But the gist is this: you walk around with your "sense" ability and put together scenes based on the clues/evidence in an area. Sounds like a blast, right? You bet.

You spend time wandering around, gathering clues in a specific area, then...okay, I'll give you a freebie. In the very first scene, as you wander in the woods around the rails that lead into Proud Ruddy Buttocks, you trigger a few nasty traps (you're okay, no need to stain your Underoos, Superman). Following the interaction instructions (i.e., a visual representation of your interaction key) of the floaty text above each trap, you'll get a small piece of a larger vision. The more traps you discover, the more pieces...and there are five traps. After discovering all of the traps, you'll be able to see a vision of sorts. Whatever the meaning of it all, you'll hear a bit of dialog between Ethan and his grandfather, read one of Ethan's short stories, and find a newspaper clipping about a mysterious fire.

Yay.

That's pretty much how the game goes: you wander around and investigate scenes and a couple of odd deaths connected to the case, and generally just flail about looking for weird and semi-weird things that might tie into a specific scene. At one point, for example, I found myself looking for an interesting rock.

Again: yay.

Now, you can't die in this game. There is one segment that relies on a jump scare or two; and should things go south, you'll just be sent back to the beginning of the puzzle. Shaking and cursing, no doubt, but not dead.

Some of these games rely upon an "aha!" moment that brings the plot into focus. This one is no exception. In the end, your trip to Mud Flaps Junction will make sense. Probably.

One thing that didn't make sense was that my control scheme (and mouse sensitivity setting) would reset to default (WASD! Again!) whenever I'd load the game. And while the save system was (allegedly; I have no memory) improved, it still stands as a testament to...something...that it relies upon checkpoints. Monstrous.

Bottom Line: 4.25 out of 5. Beautiful, moody. And one of the houses looks like Gandalf. Considering the aggravating puzzle within that house, "You shall not pass!" is a particularly apt refrain.
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Offline Silver Sorrow

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The Music Machine
« Reply #21 on: August 14, 2020, 10:49:51 AM »
The Music Machine

No, not the 60's proto-punk band.

A black screen. Movement/gameplay instructions in white text. Judicious experimentation with the controls -- i.e, smacking this or that key to make the text fuck off so I can actually play the game -- leads to the scene opening on the beach of an island. The visual style is, well, somewhat bizarre. I was forcibly reminded of playing one of the Chuck Yeager flight sims on my dad's 386, complete with amberchrome monitor, back in the '88 or so.

So what? you may ask. And rightfully so. My point is that the game's art style is an artsy-fartsy homage to a visual style best left in the distant past. The colors change from place to place explored, but the style remains.

So I started this one, not bothering to check the store page on Steam. As it turned out, an excellent choice...because if I hadn't been utterly confused by the setting, the "plot," and where it was going in general, I might have merely dismissed it as yet another walking sim with delusions of good storytelling. Remember, kids: if your audience doesn't know what's going on, you don't have to let on that you don't know either.

Case in point: that last paragraph. I've tried and tried, but it still doesn't make much sense. I think I need a keeper.

So what the hell, in fact, is this thing about?

I don't know.

But after giving it some thought (my soundtrack: the rattle of the A/C unit, the high whine of my ears ringing, the gurgle of my stomach, unhappy with my dinner choice, and the hellish cacophony of internal screaming that I call "thinking"), I threw this plot summary together:

"You're Quintin, a vengeful ghost who has possessed the body of a 13 year old girl and you are controlling her actions. Why? Well, Haley was desperate for attention, so she told her father that you molested her. Her father shot you stone dead, and your ghost possessed Haley. You are seeking to kill her, but in a special way. Now you're wondering around some stupid island because to hell with it."

After I played the thing...in one session...I thought I'd visit the store page and see what I had missed. Right there:

"Haley, an eccentric 13 year old girl, has a complicated relationship with her old friend Quintin. He's a ghost now, and he's puppeting her body with the intent of finding a satisfactory way of killing her. This dubious quest has led them to a mysterious abandoned island, where several people were recently murdered. And where, among the rotting cabins and dense trees, a strange new building hides a bizarre secret..."

Okay. I guess maybe I should've read that first. Would've helped a little. But not a lot, I think. I mean, why they're on the island is beyond me. I guess I'm not smart enough. Or enough of a psychic to read the developer's mind.

As I was playing I gave up on trying to understand it and just wandered around, reading the dialog. It's a cheapo indie game, so there aren't any fancy frills like voice acting. It didn't take long to finish, but it seemed like it took an eternity to get to the end. Exhaustion and a sinus headache making my left eye AND teeth ache certainly didn't help.

Note to self: when I'm feeling rotten, don't play games like this.

One of the devices used in the...uh...story...is the frequent conversations between Haley and Quintin. They argue, they reference their relationship in an oblique manner most of the time, and so on. Their dialog is fairly distasteful sometimes, but I really don't want to go into that. Let's just say that I don't want to hear about a 13 year old girl and the ghost of a 34 year old man talk about sexual attraction. Even if he isn't interested, SHE is, and I think I'd rather wipe my ass with barbed wire than listen to that.

The puzzles were simple enough. You probably won't need a step-by-step walkthrough. Even though my eyes were crossing from sleep deprivation, I managed. You should have a much easier time of it than I did.

The story...as such...is apparently continued from The Moon Sliver. But I played this one first. Oh, well.

Bottom line: 2.5 out of 5. A puzzling (in more ways than one) experience with an enema...uh...enigmatic...plot. On purpose. It was artfully done, with a nod or two to the 8-bit games of yesteryear. But even if the intentions were noble, my eyes were still stinging from the damned graphics...in summary, the game is eye-searingly monochromatic with as much pretension as the developer can manage without quoting dead German philosophers.

~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~

BONUS: The Magic of TECHNOLOGY!

When I first started playing this game, I thought I'd try out the voice-to-text "feature" of the Samsung Notes app on my phone. You know, instead of being a complete dinosaur and pausing gameplay to *manually* jot down notes. I mean, like, so not like on fleek or something. However the little bastards put it, anyway.

So here's the text transcription of my attempt:

"No no the music Box smiling Chrome it's like plane make a plain narrow check Yeager's flight simulator my dad's hamburger Chrome monitor Debbie ASD controls scrap Aber Chrome monitor hamburger Chrome launcher with the phuket wrong with you"

My translation, as close as I can tell:

"No, no...the Music Box [note: I had forgotten the name of the game...thus the necessity of taking notes!]. [Smiling chrome??] it's like playing Chuck Yeager's flight simulator on my dad's amberchrome monitor...WASD controls crap...amberchrome monitor AMBER CHROME MONITOR what the fuck is wrong with you??"

Incidentally, the record function randomly stops recording, as well. That's when I gave up and went back to making manual notes. Look, I'm not ruling out that it looks like that because I have the vocal clarity and the sonorous intonation of Fat Albert's friend Mushmouth suffering a mild stroke, but it could also be that the program is flawed, perhaps ever so slightly.
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Offline Silver Sorrow

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The Moon Sliver
« Reply #22 on: August 15, 2020, 09:36:05 AM »
The Moon Sliver

Trying to avoid an experience like what I had with The Music Machine's story, I was prepared for this one -- or so I thought, he said in foreshadowing tones -- and looked up the story first.

"The Moon Sliver is a short narrative-focused non-linear exploration game, with elements of horror. It features a unique narrative mechanic that blurs the line between story and exploration, where interacting with objects and even simply moving around will reveal fragments of narration. As you piece these fragments together, a story of guilt, loneliness, and faith begins to take shape. And it becomes increasingly obvious that something is hunting you..."

What? No, wait...I just--

"The Moon Sliver is best thought of as an experiment in exploration-focused storytelling, blurring the line between novelette and game. It seeks to tell a deceptively complex, poetic story in a literary fashion, through an interactive medium. It rewards players who ask questions and actively seek to figure things out for themselves."

Dude, chill. You don't have to--

"Explore the island, keep your flashlight charged, wait for night to fall. Discover answers."

Shut. Up.

Do you remember talking to David Hatter in VTMB and he launches into this overwrought explanation of how the term "writer" doesn't really describe what he does? I think a conversation with this guy would be eerily similar to that. I also wonder if he has a man-bun.

Anyway, I start it up, and...well, boogers. The onscreen text informs me that this one-man-band has decided that it's an experience and should be played in one sitting. So no saves. I am told that I should probably set aside an hour to play. I normally set aside a solid four hours for gaming (which partially explains my neuropathy), but now? I DON'T WANNA.

It's pitch black and there's this white text onscreen...

...ah. Use the flashlight. Click! Text. More text. Another game where I'm squinting at the screen, trying to make sense out of "mysterious" dialog. I notice that there's a teeny tiny question mark reticle that appears over something that can be examined. Ah. More text is my reward. Okay...some of the text is a faded gray, making it hard to read...and it could be at the top of the screen or the bottom.

I'm taking a moment for a weary, exasperated sigh. Be right with you.

Okay, take a run outside. Bleak. Oh, good. I was hoping the setting would be as forlorn and barren as my soul.

I'm told...via onscreen text...that the night is wild and cold. The sky is a bright white, my surroundings over-contrasted.

Hang on for another tired sigh.

I'm also informed that there were four people who lived here, now there's only one. I wonder if it's possible to die from sinus pressure. I truly hope so.

I cross to the remains of a building. I enter a...structure, of some sort? Let's call it a "shed." It's dark. Things to click on. More enigmatic text, some of it legible, detailing a conversation between two people. Who are they? Who am I? Why is my face always breaking out? Should I worry about my hygiene more? And yet...what does it matter? Why should I care? I'm gonna die alone anyway.

I exit the shed. Outside in the wind. Yes, the night is still wild and cold, thank you text. There's a hatch over there. Let's investigate. Text about monstrous footprints, or something. Oh, good. I hope it kills me.

Hatch won't open. Huh. Oh, there's a box of some sort nearby that has four buttons. Apparently I need to find the combination to...

...Christ. Enough of this pretentious nonsense. XYZZY.

Bottom Line: 0 out of 5.
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Offline Silver Sorrow

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The Suicide Of Rachel Foster
« Reply #23 on: September 14, 2020, 09:42:38 PM »
The Suicide Of Rachel Foster

All right! I love a good comedy!

Ehhh...the joke was on me, as it turned out. To illustrate, here's a snippet from the pinned FAQ in the Steam forums:

Quote
Q: How do I save the game? How often can I save?

A: The game is saved automatically at the end of each day. Therefore, in order to save, you will need to complete all of the events of any given day.

Jeebus Horatio Christmas. I can't remap the controls, I can't save the game...what's the point of even calling it a "game"?

Okay, okay. Maybe I should just play the alleged "game" and...good God, this character just doesn't move all that fast, huh? Turning speed is leisurely, too. I have the turn speed cranked all the way up and still it seems as if I'm underwater. After slogging my way through a couple of rooms, I decided to head to the Steam forums and see what I could do about it.

As it turns out: nothing. I saw a lot of threads about head-bobbing issues, widescreen issues, this and that...quite a few of them dating back to February and before. As it is August as I type this (bitterly, I might add), and these issues are still evident, I hazard to guess that maybe, just maybe, they haven't been fixed and never will be.

I can't play this. I'm kind of sick now, thank you game. Glad I quit when I did, or this headache would've been worse.

So...refund? Yeah. Refund.

Bottom Line: 0 out of 5. Refunded.

~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~``~

Post-Mortem Bonus: Upon starting the game, there's an oh-so-serious message about the subject material being unsuitable, perhaps, for those with mental issues (STOP LOOKING AT ME), and there's a website and an encouraging message, etc. etc. (You're not alone! Call this number! We care a lot!)

Pure marketing. This is the twisted modern-day version of those breathless disclaimers for the cheesy "horror" movies of the 1950's where they'd say the movie is so terrifying that there's trained medical personnel on hand for the moment your heart explodes in your chest when you see the guy in the foam rubber monster suit onscreen.

But since everyone in the entertainment industry is a psychopath bent on screwing with your head, they put it in such a way that they "care." Look. Let's just call a shovel a shovel and simply plaster a message in evil pulsing blood-red text: WARNING: THIS GAME MAY CAUSE YOU TO KILL YOURSELF!

But in this case, I'd amend that slightly: WARNING: THIS GAME MAY CAUSE YOU TO DEMAND A REFUND!
Fun Fact! The cheetah can run 75 miles per hour! Faster, if on fire!