Short version: Made a depressed cat twerk, poked a severed arm with a stick, cried while talking with a pastor about an uncaring god. 10/10
Long version: For this kind of genre, good games have engaging stories, fun gameplay, nice music and graphics, relatable characters, and well written dialogue. Great games have all that plus a strong and consistent tone. They set out from the very start to show the player something. This is a great game.
Fair warning: This game is not a fast paced one. If you speed through content and don’t like exploring and talking to everyone you can, you might feel like it’s short and shallow. You get out what you put in. If on the other hand you take the time to explore, to chew it over, to talk to everyone, you’ll love it. If you play games exclusively to feel good and escape boredom, maybe this isn’t for you. But if you play games to get something out of a story, to learn a little about yourself, or generally to experience something, it’ll feel very rewarding.
I’m gonna break this down into a full scale review because it deserves more than just a blurb about how good it is.
Pros: Excellent story, characters and theme. Great music. Personal and honest dialogue that will more than likely hurt and empower you personally, and make you feel complex, good, and bad emotions. Cons: Sometimes the swears are a little lacking and out of character, no easy save/reload feature (your choices and mistakes count), and the occasional difficulty in platforming in dim lighting.
Story You play as Mae, a college dropout who just returned home to her town of Possum Springs. You reunite with your friends you left a year and a half ago, and find that the town is in some ways changed, or maybe not. Strange things are afoot in town, but few seem to notice or care when they have more important things to worry about like putting food on the table, juvenile delinquency, or just getting caught up in the slow stagnancy and deterioration of small town life.
This game’s magic is in its story and the well written characters. This is a deeply relatable, emotional, honest game. The scenes have a certain real-ness to them more than most games can ever hope for, mostly helped by the converastional language of the characters. It doesn’t feel scripted it just feels organic. The only negative on that front is that to maintain a teen rating, the game had to limit its swears, so there’s a lot of “effin” and mild swears like damn and a couple shits. So that kinda felt a little out of character now and then, but otherwise, it was tone aware. Everyone is a deeply fleshed-out character with their own interests. As the main character, you won’t win all the time. As a matter of fact you’ll find yourself in situations where you can’t make the best of a bad situation at all. But that’s good, because this story isn’t just about you. It’s about a community.
This game sets out with a theme, and does it well. The short version is that it’s a critique of modern society. In that, it tackles issues of capitalism, social isolation, religion, mental health, poverty, friendship, sexuality, anarchy, environmentalism, war, and defiant hope. Themes that video games, and stories in general really don’t often approach well, if at all. Pretty much every scene in the game somehow contributes to this, but does so without coming off forced at all. it’s all integrated into the larger whole of the game. Since the theme is pretty broad and far-reaching, you get a lot of different ways of looking at the situation, from the perspectives of all the characters. It’s a poignant story that hits close to home no matter who you are.
Gameplay It’s a solid platformer. It controls a lot like limbo or other side scrolling adventure games. There’s no real major obstacles or deathtraps, but there are some kinda tricky jumps you might need to do a few times to get right. The platformer thing isn’t really the game itself to be honest, it’s more the way you get from point A to point B. It could just as easily have been a visual novel or a grid based rpg, but it would have lost some of its charm of exploring the town.
There’s a lot of minigames, ranging from guitar hero esque, to a stationary worms tank minigame, to a fully built souls-series-hyper-light-drifter thing that easily could have been a standalone game on its own. All the minigames control well, but they’re pretty tough and there’s no easy reload button besides force-quitting. None of them are exactly mandatory though so don’t feel pressured unless you want all the achievements.
Graphics it’s layers of pretty stylized shapes and incredibly well animated characters. Subtleties in movement and expression help the dialogue too. The lighting and palette are beautiful, and the mood is carried by the graphics well. I can’t say too much about the graphics except that they’re pretty and fit the theme and mood. My only criticism of the game is in the graphics though, that the lighting in a few of the scenes was a tad dark for my monitor to differ between ground and background so I found myself guessing at where platforms were every now and then, but it was never enough to inconvenience me, and I could have adjusted my monitor for the effort of it.
Sound I need the soundtrack. It’s moody, atmospheric, happy, unnerving, rocking, and fun. It covers a ton of ground with the soundtrack to fit the many moods and emotions. Looking forward to the OST.
Time and money For 20 bucks on steam, it’s good. Took me 11 hours to play through the first time. To get to some of the stuff you’ll have to do multiple playthroughs. There’s no proper save and reload function. Your choices stick and that’s for the best imo. Unfortunately that means getting some achievements would take a disproportionate time investment, but so does dark souls, so whatever.
Overall: If you like games that make you feel things, if you like stories relevant to the present, if you don’t want to feel like a badass, but just want to feel… ironically human, this is for you.
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