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”
‘Aquaria’ clearly is a labor of love. It’s just that love doesn’t write good video games, love doesn’t prevent my game collection from getting cluttered up by games I don’t care for and love doesn’t stop me from writing about said games.
After a short confusing intro, we play as fish girl ‘Naija’ in a metrovanian style underwater world called ‘Aquaria’ – yeah I know. The graphics of the underwater caves are nice and full of details, the controls are solid and it even has innovative features like that impractical song mechanic which lets you play short tunes to active special abilities or solve icon/note based riddles. I am sure that there is an audience out there who loves this game and I will gladly tell you why I can’t join them and stopped playing after less than an hour.
The writing is so stiff and corny, full of ‘philosophical’ babble which gets boosted further by the very serious and serene, this-is-my-thoughtful-timbre voice acting. I don’t mind games taking a philosophical excursion. ‘Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs‘ basically poses the question wether mankind doesn’t deserve extinction by pigmen. ‘What Remains of Edith Finch‘ makes a good point about life being shortened by death, but both games do it with a knowing twinkle in their eyes.
Then there’s the music, which at it’s better moments copies chord progressions directly from ‘The Lord of the Rings’ movie soundtrack, but for the most part is so corny, that even the Elves were embarrassed. It goes perfectly with the writing.
In combination with those flaws there’s no chance for a game in a genre that didn’t interested me much in the first place, to keep me entertained.
It is my impression that the game is solidly made and it’s different parts fit well together, even in their corniness. For a ten year old indie game the production values are surprisingly high. It’s simply bad luck for ‘Aquaria’ to have made it’s way into my collection, as my heart is as cold as the frozen water of a wintry lake and bereft of the warming but fragile love it once held.
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.