Tacoma is boring. That is a shame because I really liked its predecessor Gone Home, which was the first walking simulator* I played and it opened my eyes to the great possibilities of the genre. Like most people my first thought was “I want this again, but on a space station.” Of course I had something dark and sinister in mind, not a display of an Utopian society, which is so colorful and diverse, that in its awkward political correctness an evil mega corporation seems out of place. Continue reading “Review: Tacoma”
Review: What Remains of Edith Finch
After deciding to not really talk about a game, I am now talking about a new (yes, new as in ‘just released a few weeks ago’) game, and it doesn’t start with an ‘A’. ‘What’s going on?’ you moan. ‘I don’t like change!’ you lament, and I understand. Bear with me, because change, as scary as it might seem to us, can also bring new light into our lives – or at least give us great games like ‘What Remains of Edith Finch’.
What do you say if you really like a game? I don’t know because my collection is made entirely of horror and puzzle games I never asked for. I am a bit at loss for words, because ‘What Remains of Edith Finch’ is more of a visual and emotional experience and can’t be described by the usual “very good multi-death killing mechanics, but the subpar severed limb physics left me disappointed”. Surprisingly enough, this pure walking simulator contains more death, than your average shooter tutorial.
Maybe it’s not even a good idea to describe the game in detail. It’s one of those games you will probably enjoy most if you know least about it. I certainly was grateful for that hint. If you like walking simulators, stop reading and buy the game, now! Yes, full price. If you like well written stories about tragic deaths with a streak of the darkest of humor, buy the game! At first it reminded me a lot of ‘Gone Home’ my much appreciated introduction to the genre. A girl returns to the empty family house and explores, but apart from the basic premise the similarities end. ‘What Remains of Edith Finch’ shows how far walking simulators have developed in the last few years. The game tells multiple neatly strung together stories in a unique and creative way and everything looks and sounds fantastic. You will get more atmosphere than from your average early 90ies Black Metal record.
I finished the game in about two hours, which might not sound like much for a 20€ game, but it’s worth it. Like I said about the pig game, I prefer a short and tight game over whatever Ubisoft does these days. It’s great to not be bored for a second, start to finish. The game left me in a state of melancholic pondering and I’m grateful for such rare video game moments. I also laughed more than I probably should have.
Info: ‘What Remains of Edith Finch’ was developed by Giant Sparrow and was released in April 2017. You should head over to Steam or a less evil alternative and buy it full price, so that the developers may provide me with more quality games.
Review: Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Those days – when you wake up without a memory and then are stalked by a pig-man, who tries to kill you in a vast labyrinthian underground meat processing plant at the turn of the last century.
‘Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs’ was a fantastic, creepy ride. It took all that stopped me from finishing its predecessor and threw it over board or at least reduced it to a minimum. While ‘The Dark Descent‘ was closer to a classic adventure game, with more elaborate (and annoying) puzzles, an inventory and a lot of backtracking, ‘A Machine For Pigs’ is closer to a walking simulator and therefore a much tighter experience. Freed from boring gameplay mechanics like going-insane-because-I-can’t-find-a-match, and cleverly guided through the levels, I was able to concentrate exclusively on the things I enjoyed about the game. The writing is absolutely great, as is the voice acting. I really enjoyed discovering the gruesome story, which, while pretty over-the-top, stayed mostly interesting throughout the entire game and even managed to give a satisfying ending – a thing that is seldom witnessed in video games or life in general.
It’s not just the inner values that count. ‘A Machine for Pigs’ is beautiful. Regardless wether you wade knee deep in blood or fecal matter or both, I often paused just to take a look at the scenery. Sometimes the art design reminded me of the Bio Shocks, but I prefer that it has a more realistic feel to it. The sound design also is great. The developers made a better use of agonized pig squeals than most Death Metal bands. I also appreciated the restrained use of the very good music (no Death Metal, though).
Yes, there were still things, that I could have done without. Too much running away from pig-men for example, or that short part in the middle, where the story lost me for a moment, but those are minor complaints.
I really enjoyed my three and a half hours with ‘Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs’. That may sound like a rather short experience, but I prefer a tight compact game, that keeps me excited end-to-end, to a artificially drawn out Alan Wake-like experience – at least as far as story driven games are concerned. What have I learned? There are horror games out there that I can actually enjoy and kids are great for cleaning clogged up steam vents, when they manage to get out in time.
ABZÛ is an underwater walking simulator by Giant Squid, released in summer of 2016. I knew what I was getting into, because I had heard and read a lot about this game beforehand. I pretty much got what I expected. You steer your diver from one location to the next and that’s basically it. For me ABZÛ worked best, when it tried least to be a game and focused on being a beautiful trip through a lovingly crafted underwater world. There are passages that nearly take all control from you and just let you bathe in the glory of it’s art design and huge masses of fish (put your fish settings on ‘Ultra’!). The orchestral soundtrack is fantastic. At some points the game even managed to trigger some childhood-Disney-movie-emotions in me. Well done! As soon as the game made me do it’s over simplified ‘puzzles’, especially in its second half, I got bored. I can accept that it’s more about style and atmosphere, than story or gameplay – so why shove those tedious elements down my throat? Still, if you happen to own a large TV, a decent controller and manage to buy the game on a sale, I think it’s worth to dive in for it’s roughly two hours of play time.