Southern sea otters were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in the 1970’s.
Their population is returning to the California coast and with it, scientists are able to gain a better understanding of their important role in the kelp and seagrass ecosystems they inhabit. Turns out the cute sea otters help keep seagrass healthy even in an environment overloaded with excess nutrients from runoff.
Hello, everyone! After I posted about the games I’ve platinumed I received a few asks about the Indie games I’ve played, so I figured: “Why not review my favourites?” Below is a list of Indie games I’ve played that I consider above average. Hopefully this list will help people decide if they’re worth playing or not. Keep in mind, though, that these aremy opinions. If anyone would like to discuss the games further, please feel free to message me or send me another ask specifying the game you’re interested in. I’m always happy to discuss games. XD
Whispering Willows is
like a throwback to the 90s computer games that we all loved and played when we
were kids. With a spooky atmosphere and almost game board-ish feel, the story
takes place on an old mansion property where a young girl named Elena Elkhorn must
depend on her Native American roots to find her missing father. Switch between
human and soul to solve puzzles, overcome obstacles, and attack enemies. Though
a bit slow-paced, the story and gameplay are solid and definitely worth a try.
CounterSpy is a
fun little platformer that’s almost comedic in nature. You play as a (possibly)
British spy during the Cold War, who spies on the Russian and American forces
to prevent nuclear detonation on both sides. The missions are pretty straight
forward, with you shooting or sneaking your way through enemy territory to discover
their plans of attack. If you fail to thwart them … it’s the end of the
world! While it isn’t really anything too special, its in-your-face 1970s James
Bond style music and gameplay are entertaining as hell, and if you set it to
the hardest difficulty, it is a fun challenge. I’d recommend it as a
good time-waster. 6/10
Assemblance is a
psychological first person thriller, where you play as a man who is forced to
repeat a time paradox over and over until you figure out a way to move on. The
story is subpar at best, but it’s not terrible. The graphics are beautiful and
very relaxing, as is the music. I’ve heard this game be described as a
“mind fuck” too, but I’m not sure if I’d give it quite that much
credit. Either way, it is a good game if you’re looking for something to pass
the time, and if you’re looking for a light challenge.
Velocibox is a pure
challenge game where you control a tiny square that zooms through various
obstacle courses. It doesn’t sound like much, but the levels can be extremely
frustrating and the trophies are so hard to
attain that they’ve only been awarded to a ridiculously
small percentage of players– we’re talking hardcore gamers with no life (like
me). If you’re looking for a fun challenge, this is the game for you.
The Park is a first
person, mostly cinematic horror game, where you play as a schizophrenic mother
who chases her son through a theme park that she used to visit when she was a
child. As you play, you begin to ask yourself if what you’re seeing is real or
if it’s just the result of the mother’s mental illness. There are a few jump
scares and puzzles to solve, but all and all it’s basically a horror movie,
with a child so un-likable he makes you miss the boy from Babadook. The story
is worth exploring, however, and the graphics and voice work are topnotch. I’d
give it a chance, unless you scare easily. 6/10
Race the Sun
Race the Sun is a
meticulous challenger game where you steer a tiny plane through an endless
field of obstacles. The objective of the game, aside from collecting trophies,
is to simply beat your own record before you crash or run down. You collect
extra points by hitting rings, which eventually allows you to upgrade your
plane for future levels. While I will admit that at first the game is fairly
addictive, it can get a little boring. You can’t memorize the fields because
they change and randomize every 24 hours, which is a neat idea, but it still
does little to keep players interested. But if you’re looking for a decent
challenge, then I highly recommend this game. Personally, I’ve come to use it
as a fun time-waster while I download other games.
Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture
Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is a story-based
video game where you divulge the disappearance of an entire town. I wouldn’t
suggest this game to people who prefer action-packed shooters or tricky
platformers, because aside from walking around and watching a beautiful
cinematic story unfold, there isn’t much else to do. Don’t get me wrong,
though; the game is still highly enjoyable. You play from a first person point
of view and collect clues that give you insight to the missing townspeople.
Each clue reveals a short story that helps you arrive at the conclusion, in the
form of several astral projections. Aside from the creative story and stunning
graphics, the voice acting is also incomparable. Definitely worth a play through
if you’re into cinematic game play.
The Unfinished Swan
The Unfinished Swan
is a first person puzzle game where you play as a young orphaned boy named
Monroe. The game is relaxing and wacky, as paint your way through various
levels to help Monroe finish his recently deceased mother’s favourite painting.
As you play, a world of imagination unfolds, and the air of innocence reminds
you what it was like to be a child. Definitely worth a try if you’re looking
for something light-hearted.
The Fall is a puzzle
platformer where you play as an advanced robotic spacesuit AI named Arid. The
game begins with you crash-landing on a seemingly abandoned planet, with your
pilot injured and unresponsive inside you. In order to save him, you search the
planet for medical supplies, but soon find that the robotic inhabitants are
dangerously malfunctioning. To save your pilot, you must succumb to several
tests, forced on you by the head AI, and defeat an army of homicidal robots.
The puzzles are fun and challenging, the story is wholly original, and the
twist ending makes you think you’re watching The Sixth Sense. If you’re
looking for an intelligent Sci-Fi Indie game, you’re looking for The Fall.
White Night is a
horror survival game where you play as an unnamed man who crashes outside of a
haunted estate. Injured and in need of help, he hobbles to the mansion and
breaks in, desperate when no one answers the door. Once inside the house,
certain events transpire and horror ensues. I won’t spoil the plot, but there
is a twist ending and a story worth experiencing. The game has a very noir-type
feel to it on top of the horror genre, which I thought was very unique. To beat
the game, you must outwit the ghosts that hunt you, solve puzzles, and discover
clues that eventually prompt the ending. The game also does an excellent job at
making you feel helpless and vulnerable, as your only defences are running,
hiding, and depending on matches for light. I personally didn’t have this
problem, but I have heard people complain about their eyes hurting after a few
hours of gameplay– so as a warning, the game is almost entirely black and white. If
you’re not sure if you can handle that, then I’d highly suggest watching a
spoiler-free video on YouTube before buying, just to see how well you adjust.
Overall, it’s a great game that I highly recommend.
Contrast is a
platformer clearly meant for the PC, but it is playable on consol. If I had to
describe the setting, I’d say it’s almost Tim Burton-y in nature. You play as a
voiceless woman named Dawn, who watches over and guards a little girl named
Didi. Didi lives with her poverty-stricken mother in a tiny house in a town
filled with corruption and debauchery. With no friends and nowhere to go during
the day, Didi sneaks out at night to play; therefore, it is your job to
make sure she stays safe. When her father starts meddling with some dangerous
loan sharks, however, events transpire and you must help her save her family.
Aside from some irritating controls on consol, the game is great and the story,
obstacles, and puzzles are magnificent. The voice acting is also highly
commendable, which was a pleasant surprise. Didi is actually voiced by a little
girl, not an adult playing a child, and she did such an excellent job I thought
Disney hired the cast. I definitely recommend this game, especially if you play
The Vanishing of
The Vanishing of
Ethan Carter is another story-based game in which you play as a first person
detective searching for a missing boy named Ethan Carter. Much like Everybody’s
Gone to the Rapture, the game is almost entirely cinematic with a gripping
story and stunning graphics. While exploring various locations, you will find
clues and solve intricate puzzles in order to piece together what happened to
Ethan. Without spoiling the plot, I can only say that the mystery turns very
dark and engaging. Definitely worth a penny or two.
SOMA has repeatedly been
praised by fans for its “mind-blowing” original story and designs, but
I personally took issue with some aspects of the game. I will agree first and
foremost that the story is fresh beyond belief: it begins with you, Ethan,
booking an appointment with a famous neurologist after viewing a flashback of a
car crash. It becomes apparent that Ethan suffered a brain contusion during the
accident, which could, at any given moment, kill him. The next day you visit
the doctor and agree to an experiment that could help Ethan and others like
him. After a long conversation, you get strapped into a machine, then wake up
in an underwater, apocalyptic hell. SOMA has also been described as a
“mind fuck”, and you might agree, especially when it comes to certain
choices you’re forced to make. I personally found the game to be a bit buggy,
which is apparently common, slightly slow, and somewhat boring at times. The
bulk of the game consists of you exploring a huge map and evading “monsters”,
which can be rather irritating when they get too close. There are some horror
elements to the game, but nothing spectacular. All and all, it’s worth a quick
run through, if not for the story alone.
Type:Rider is an
educational platformer where you play as a colon (two dots) and work your way
through several levels to learn about the origins of various forms of print. If
you’d rather just play the game you can easily skip the information– but I
promise you, it’s fascinating. You can learn about Script, Gothic, Times New
Roman, etc. The game itself is a blast, but the history lessons work as an
Oxenfree is an
intriguing supernatural mystery graphic adventure where you play as a teenager
trapped on a costal island. What at first seems like a harmless trip with
friends, it quickly turns into a living nightmare when strange events begin to
occur. The story itself is distinctive and gripping, where certain decisions you
make help determine the outcome. The game has several endings and multiple
puzzles that require independent success or teamwork with the other NPCs. The
gameplay is smooth and soothing, the visuals are clean, and the story is outstanding.
Feist is an adorable
platformer with some of the most intelligent enemies I’ve ever seen. If you’re
up for a challenge, they’ll make sure you’re not disappointed. Though a mostly dark
game, with the main character, the enemies, and much of the levels being a
black silhouette, the game is fun and endearing. You play as a cute,
unidentifiable creature that fights through obstacles to save his abducted partner.
The game has a very primordial feel to it, with a sort of “survival of the
fittest” connotation. Without the strength or biological advantages that
your enemies have, you must rely on your superior intellect. The trophies are
also incredibly difficult to achieve, half of them being speed runs, with
almost no players having platinumed it. Aside from a few glitches that occur
every now and then, the game is definitely worth buying.
The Swapper is a
platformer where you must solve various puzzles by making and erasing copies of
your own character. There is a story to follow, set in space, where you begin
to experience weird occurrences. Each new area offers harder and harder
puzzles, but nothing unmanageable. For me, the true wonders of this game are
the graphics and music. The soundtrack is so beautiful and ambient that I found
myself downloading the whole score halfway through the game. The map is
relatively confusing when you get a bit further in, so you might find yourself
lost every now and then. You do have to backtrack to some levels, so I suggest
learning the layout early on. All and all, it’s a fun challenge well worth your
Wick isn’t a game I
would recommend to anyone who frightens easily. The game is riddled with jump
scares and portrays a haunting story about five dead children and their
psychotic killer. Despite being a survival horror, there is a story to explore
through certain clues that you can collect while playing. The game has several
challenges, including a DLC that answers a lingering question that looms over
you throughout the original levels. In order to beat the DLC, though, great memorization
of the map and clue locations is required. Wick also holds some of the hardest
trophies I’ve ever achieved for an Indie. The game itself takes place in a very
small campground at night, where you are pursued by the five dead children.
Your only source of light is a candle, which burns out if you don’t locate
more. Each level runs longer and longer and introduces a new child every time,
each with their own unique form of hunting you. If you decide to brave this
game, prepare for a long night. (Game is not as slow as the gif suggest) 8/10
Octodad: Dadliest Catch
Before I get into
this game, I must be sure to tell everyone that it is likely a game for
children, so I’ll be judging it from a child’s perspective. While I don’t see
it winning a ton of awards, even as an adult I’ll admit it’s fun as hell. You
play as an octopus with a wife and two children, so already the theme is ridiculous.
To make matters worse, your family doesn’t know that you’re an octopus, so you have
to do your best to keep it a secret. Throughout the game you must perform
various mundane tasks, but as an octopus the controls are intentionally wonky,
which makes for some hilarious accidents. There is also a story to follow with
a rather adorable ending. The game is colourful, cartoonish, original, and
warm-hearted. Perfect for anyone who’s looking for something soft and
She Wants Me Dead
She Wants Me Dead is
a noir-type platformer, possibly set in New York City, where you play as a man
trying to outsmart his homicidal cat. The cat, after being neglected by her
owner, forces you to work your way through various traps and obstacles. The
levels naturally get more and more challenging as you progress, but the game
itself is incredibly fun. Additionally, only one song is played throughout
every level, but it’s one of the most kickin’ songs I’ve ever heard in a platformer–
“She Wants Me Dead” by CAZZETTE vs. AronChupa ft. The High. The beat
of the music actually helps you determine when it’s safe to jump, which I
thought was really cool. If you’re looking for a decent challenge, I’d
highly recommend this game.
Layers of Fear
Much like Wick,
Layers of Fear is a first person horror game filled with jump scares and a
recurring theme of helplessness. Nothing scares me, but when I had my sister
play this game she got a headache and threw me the controller– it scared her
that badly. The game does a stellar job at recounting the story of a painter
gone mad as you explore his house and piece together his past. Aside from the
spooky atmosphere and wonderful graphics, Layers of Fear also includes one of
the most hauntingly beautiful soundtracks I’ve ever heard. If you’re looking
for a good mystery/horror game, Layers of Fear would be my first
ABZÛ is an adventure art video game where you play as a
female diver who silently uncovers the ruins of an ancient civilization. The
entire game takes place in the ocean, where the eco system seems to be terribly
damaged and unbalanced. As you swim through each beautifully crafted level, you
discover the reason for the imbalance and work to revitalize the ocean. The
graphics are spectacular, the story is new, and, if desired, the game is also
educational with nods to marine biology. The overall control of the character
takes some getting used to, but I highly recommend this game to anyone looking
for something uplifting and peaceful.
Typoman is an
adorable little platformer where you play as an all-black typographical
character made up of the letters H E R O. The game itself is particularly
unique, with every enemy and almost every level being made primarily of
letters. The story sports a creative battle of good versus evil in the form of
words, with “good” words having positive effects and “bad”
words having negative effects. As the hero, you must solve puzzles and traverse
through a post-apocalyptic wasteland to defeat the evil running rampant through
the streets. The graphics are gorgeous, the story is amazing, and if not for
the game’s unfortunate tendency to crash during the mini games and mild
glitches, I would have given it a perfect ten.
Buy it. Just buy it. I shouldn’t have to say
anything else, but I will.
Unravel is a beautiful Swedish platformer where
you play as a little red character named Yarny. As you may have already
guessed, Yarny is made of yarn, and as you control him you embark on a journey
to find multiple missing ornaments for a photo album. Each ornament produces a
page of pictures that “unravels” the story of Yarny’s family (humans who don’t
know that he can move). Each level presents a menagerie of fun obstacles and
atmospheres. Aside from the flawless controls and beautiful story line, Unravel
impresses players with gorgeous graphics and a soundtrack that could put Mozart
to shame. Highly, highly recommend.
Inside is a puzzle-platformer adventure game
that really tugs at your imagination. The story is multi-layered and
brilliantly crafted without a single word of dialogue. Without knowing or
understanding where the story is headed, you play as a nameless boy who
traverses through many psychological puzzles, with danger lurking around every
corner. Since the game’s release, no one has been able to decipher what the
story is truly about, but if I had to guess, I’d say it presents an Orwellian
dystopia that forces mind control on the masses and foreshadows our eventual
future. I believe the entire game is a controlled experiment, wrought by the
facility that you’re trying to escape– but really, who’s to say for sure? The
controls, story, and graphics are crisp, seasoned, and endearing, and they
convey a uniqueness of the highest calibre. Highly recommend.
Limbo is a two-dimensional puzzle-platformer
designed by the same company that produced Inside. Much like Inside, you play
as a nameless boy who awakens in the middle of a forest on "the edge of
hell”. How the boy died or if he’s even truly dead is a mystery. While
searching for your sister, you encounter other hostile children, mechanical
traps, murderous creatures, and all around unfriendly environments. As you
play, you begin to wonder if anyone is trustworthy and if there’s a way out of
the forest at all. The game does not hold your hand, so it is up to you to
depend on your wits to succeed. Besides being pleasantly enigmatic, the
gameplay is also awesome and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys
peaceful but challenging platformers.
Journey is an interactive adventure game where
you assume the role of a figure clad in robes. While able to play alone, online
gameplay allows other players to connect with you, which enables you to share
the adventure. The story is silently narrated through cut scenes that you
unlock as you venture through the desert, eventually ending up at a snowy
mountain. This game is definitely meant as a “feel good” type of
platformer, with music and graphics that put some mainstream games to shame.
The story consists of you, the character, realizing the fall of an ancient
civilization while avoiding the giant automatons left over from the war that
destroyed it. I would also argue that the journey you embark on is a quest to
find your ancestors, who later guide you to paradise. While I couldn’t confirm
this and it might not be true, I personally believe that this game was also
heavily inspired by the Hinduism. For anyone looking for a relaxing,
family-friendly adventure, this is the game I would recommend.
I’m sure that by now
most of you have heard of Little Nightmares. Personally, my sister and I were
looking forward to this game long before it hit the mainstream, and I’m happy
to say we were not disappointed. Ironically enough, Little Nightmares ended up
being one of the best Indie games I’ve ever played. With a Spirited Away
meets Tim Burton feel, Little Nightmares gives us a puzzle-platformer horror
adventure game superior to all others. No one knows the true plot of the story,
which has sprung theory after theory after theory from fans, as you work your
way through the mysterious Maw and avoid being eaten. I also have my own
theories, but if I went into that we’d be here forever. I’ll simply say this:
Little Nightmares triggers your imagination and keeps you on the edge of your
seat. While some people have complained about the slow load times, the only
complaint I have is that it’s relatively short. I could have played this game
for days without getting bored. The horror element is almost kid-friendly, the
graphics are stupendous, and the character designs are out of this world. I
might even start collecting the comics.
The most important thing to remember when working with anything preternatural is Trust Your Gut. Magic is a science of instinct and association. Your eyes and ears are rarely used, navigate by what feels right.
BASIC CONCEPTS TO REMEMBER
1 - The older something is the more attuned it is. For example if a mage has a choice between working with a three year old tarot deck and a thirty year old deck, the older one will always produce better results.
2 - Natural materials are the best mediums for energy. Found wood, stone, feathers, twine. The less people who have touched it the better. I have generally found fallen Elkhorn to be the best readily available material. No human Ivory. You know why.
3 - You work in terms of sunrises. A sunrise is powerful unraveling force, most lesser enchantments will only last one or two sunrises before they have to be rebuilt. This can be designed around but requires extra time and energy.
PROTECT YA NECK
Your eraser is running water. Running water grounds most energies. Always have a bucket nearby.
If you are trying to talk to something, cover your face and be polite. Never say your full name.
Silver for the curses, lead for the spectral, iron for the fae, fire for anything that burns, faith for the demonic (a cross only works for a Christian, a star of david for a Jew, etc)
Magic is a study of balance. All comes at a price.
Photo taken by Theodore Roosevelt himself, of his Elkhorn Ranch veranda.
After his wife and mother died in 1884, only hours apart, Roosevelt became depressed. He moved back to the Dakota territories, where he had built his Maltese Cross Cabin the previous year. Finding the location too busy for his taste, in June 1884 he laid claim to a second ranch, which he called Elkhorn. He left the bulk of the everyday work to his managers and hands, devoting his own time mostly to hunting and writing.
The grass is always greener! March marks Seagrass Awareness Month, a time to recognize the importance of healthy seagrass beds in maintaining our ocean’s health.
In places like Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, eelgrass – a type of seagrass – provides a primary food source for a variety of marine animals, and protection for others. In addition, seagrasses can help filter pollutants out of the water and prevent erosion, keeping the water column healthy and clear.
Here, otters raft together in Elkhorn Slough, a tidal salt marsh in Monterey Bay, where they provide a critical service to eelgrass beds. Otters help protect these precious grasses by munching on predators like crabs that would otherwise threaten eelgrass beds.
What will you do to make like an otter and protect seagrasses?
Magic is life. The fabric that flows in and between all living things. Naturally, it has a mirror image, a negative space. The absence of magic is just as important as its presence. The art of working with this lack of energy is known as Necromancy. No. I will not be teaching you how to reanimate the dead. Its a long, unpleasant, and difficult process that takes more time than most mortals have.
COMMON FORMS OF NECROMANCY
Bone is a common commodity among practitioners. It is the frame, the literal skeleton, of something that used to contain life. This makes it an excellent capacitor for arcane energy. However, not all bone is created equal. Slaughtering an animal for parts will only make it conductive to unpleasant sorts of energies. Personally, I use fallen elkhorn.
Funerary arts are one of the oldest forms of magic practiced by humans. There is deep deep power in reverence for the dead. This can manifest in anything from the simple burying of a body, to the construction of vast necropoli to house the dead. A funeral does two important things: It lays the spirit to rest, like tucking in a child for a good nights sleep; and it acts as a hermetic seal for arcane energy. A tomb is the ultimate threshold. A one way barrier. A door locked from the inside.
But, magic is fluid. Any working must be tended to lest it decay. Even a single regular living presence is enough to keep the seals from cracking. Gravekeepers understand the importance of this. When you cut a living animal, they bleed. When cracks appear in tomb seals, you get errant natural necromancy.
HOW IS ANY OF THIS RELEVANT TO ME?
Defiled graves make for angry spirits. Fire is a readily available source of purity if the sun wont be around for a while. However, dealing with the restless dead is a dangerous business that takes a certain sort. If you run into trouble, find your local gravekeeper. Keep an eye out for silver shovels.
A FINAL WORD TO REMEMBER
Let the dead rest. Respect and reverence are paramount.