Tag Archives: Bundle in a Box

So many mushrooms to click on in The Sea Will Claim Everything

the sea will claim everything island

Sometimes I just want to read. Other times, I want to play, or, more to the point, interact. With people and animals and things. Cause and reaction is what I’m looking for, but the safe, casual kind. Don’t shoot me in the stomach and force me to find medicine to stop the bleeding. Instead, let me find some fish food for a hungry fishie that will make it smile. Well, after a panic-inducing, unpredictable weekend, I wanted to do both: read and interact harmlessly. Thankfully, there’s The Sea Will Claim Everything, a game which I’ve danced around revisiting lately. Well, the straw that finally broke the camel’s back is that it has now been released on Steam, and Jonas Kyratzes was kind enough to provide me with a free key since I already purchased the game back in 2012 from the Bundle in a Box promotion.

Allow me to quickly summarize what’s going on in The Sea Will Claim Everything. If I can, that is. You visit the Lands of Dream through a special window which allows you, the person reading this and playing the game, to see, travel, and interact with the various strange and fantastical elements of the Fortunate Isles. You begin in the Underhome, a biotechnological house unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before. Unfortunately, Underhome has been badly damaged by goons threatening to foreclose on it; they are so rude that they even cut up a nice rug. Your job is to help The Mysterious-Druid, who likes to simply be called The, get Underhome back to its healthy former self. However, along the way, you’ll end up on a larger quest to free the citizens of the Fortunate Isles from Lord Urizen’s political and economic oppression.

Strangely, when it comes to me and point-and-click adventure games, it’s always about getting to the next scene to see where things go. Brute-forcing through the puzzles to see what new characters pop up and grab more items for my ever-growing inventory. However, with The Sea Will Claim Everything and other works in the Lands of Dream, I prefer to linger, to absorb. Every screen is packed with flavor and things to click on, with my personal favorite being all the little mushrooms sprouting up in the Underhome. Verena Kyratzes’ artwork is colorful and pleasant, perfect for a storybook-like tale, and you should not take anything for granted–each individual flower has its own flavor text, as does every book and drawer and item at a merchant’s stall. Also, there’s evidently 700 collectibles to gather, so click, click, click.

Gameplay is mostly clicking and reading, and it doesn’t take long to realize that The Sea Will Claim Everything is roughly just fetch quest after fetch quest after fetch quest. Occasionally, you’ll have to find a recipe and create the item someone needs instead of simply finding it elsewhere in the world and bringing it back. I’m okay with fetch quests, as sometimes it is all I want, but I do wish that the quest log, represented as a single-page scroll, did a better job of showing your progress. For example, I need to make a special soup that will help heal the Underhome, and this requires gathering a number of items, but the quest log doesn’t show what I have and don’t have; instead, I need to pop back into my inventory, scan the list, and then figure out what is missing. Also, with so many people and strange names, it’d be helpful to list where the person is in the quest so that I can turn it in without having to scan every single screen in Port Darragh over and over again.

Since you’ll be doing a lot of sitting on a single screen/area and reading flavor text, dialogue text, recipe text, and dialogue text, a good soundtrack is a must. The music needs to not overpower your brain and get in way of the nifty characters and stories, but at the same time ground everything together, enhance it. Make you believe that this talking spider is part of the world. That this town of anthropomorphic creatures live lives and exist beyond your window view. I’m happy to report that Chris Christodoulou’s soundtrack is nearly perfect. Inspiring and mystifying, the songs fit the adventure. I do wish some were a little longer or looped more instead of repeating after a two minutes or so, especially when you are in a room for longer than that. I think my favorite is the piano-driven, calming “Plingpling Fairydust,” but the dark, beyond unnerving “Swamp Thing” is also quite special…for reasons.

The Sea Will Claim Everything is really the most charming oddball, and I’m looking forward to helping everyone I can on the Fortunate Isles, whether it is by solving a mysterious murder or giving them a cookie. It just might take a few more sessions. That’s okay. Those mushrooms aren’t going anywhere.

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Owl Creek has been invaded by ghosts in Phantasmaburbia

phantasm3a

Well, I’m back for round 2 of digging into Box in a Bundle‘s latest package, which I covered previously in a post about the non-game Dinner Date. This time, I’m most definitely playing a game, and I know that because after two hours I’ve switched between three different playable characters, gained levels, equipped special items, killed ghosts and skeletal rodents and unshapely shades, and died during a particularly tough boss fight. If that doesn’t summarize me playing a game, well…no, that’s it exactly. I mean, I literally did mostly the same thing over the weekend in Ni no Kuni, calling it quits when Moltaan, the Lord of Lava, wiped Oliver and friends off Old Smokey.

So, with that, I’m here to talk about Phantasmaburbia, a long-name game that appears capable of going the distance. To summarize, the year is 201X (twenty-X-teen), and the small modern neighborhood of Owl Creek has suddenly been overrun with ghosts. No one knows exactly why or how just yet. Four local kids, assisted by spirits of their ancestors, will group together on a suburban adventure to save the place they call home.

I’ve only gotten far enough in the game–roughly two hours and change–to have three kids in my party. I named the first boy Todd, the goth girl Rayne, and the gun-wielding, blonde-haired kid Drogo. Screenshots from the developer’s website show that the fourth character is another girl, so feel free to leave name suggestions; otherwise, she will be called something dumb, like Jam.

Anyways, it’s an RPG, with all the things you’d associate with the genre present. Its strongest element is its battle system, which is seemingly based around the active time battle model, with no room for pausing or breathing. Best plan your attacks before you even select them or the enemy, which consists of things like Catdavers and Roadents, might slip in an extra swipe. It makes for lively fights, but alas, many are over too soon, and the battle music takes a few seconds to really kick in and sound amazing. There are some other special elements to battles that involve you clicking dangerous tentacles away or loading bursts of light into a spectral gun, all timing-based.

The graphics are perfunctory, if not elementary. This is not a slam against Phantasmaburbia, as its story and gameplay more than carry the title forward, and graphics never are everything. Am I right, Minecraft? Anyways, there’s quite a bit of dialogue here, and the best is between each kid and their respective spiritual assistant ancestor. Everyone speaks in an Animal Crossing-like fashion, just making noise, but don’t take that as a reason to rush through the dialogue. The ghosts are particularly well-written, showing off their unique personalities.

It seems like most of Phantasmaburbia is spent either outside or underground in weird space/time dimension dungeons. These are where the puzzles are, as each ghost can interact here in a different way. For instance, one ghost can highlight invisible panels to walk on, and another can take over animals to move them onto special tiles. I suspect that once all four kids meet up and are one team, a lot of dungeon levels will involve switching between different ghosts to get everybody from point A to point B.

Oh, and one really small touch that I liked are the garage door motion sensor lights. You go near them, they go on. You walk away, they go off. It’s especially great when you’re nearby and see a wild animal trigger them. I don’t know. It’s the small stuff that can make a world feel big, and despite its rather generic look at times, Phantasmaburbia seems like a fully realized place, one I look forward to exploring more. Though that means I have to figure how to properly use Todd and Drogo to beat the current boss I’m stuck on. But for this sleek and somewhat goofy RPG, trying again is a must.

Thoughts on Dinner Date while I wait for my dinner date

Dinner Date impressions

Thankfully, I’ve never been stood up; granted, I’ve only gone out on so many dates in my short time on this planet, and only two of them could really be considered “blind,” with most romantic outings being mutually agreed upon long before it all went down. So I don’t know what that feels like exactly, though I could naturally pull from the emotions I feel over other forms of abandonment and disappointment.

Well, with the latest package from Bundle in a Box, which is called the “Cerebral Bundle,” I now know how it feels to eat a meal for two all alone. Before I get to that, let me list everything you get if you beat the average price, which you totally should:

  • Vampires!
  • Dinner Date
  • Phantasmaburbia
  • Necrotic Drift Deluxe
  • Dédale De Luxe
  • J.U.L.I.A.
  • I Get This Call Every Day
  • Cognition, Ep.1: The Hangman
  • Reversion – The Meeting

Whew. That’s nine games, and before dropping some coin on the bundle, I only ever heard of one thanks to an interesting article over at Giant Bomb. The other eight just look like strange ol’ names to me, and of them, I was initially drawn to try out Dinner Date first. Why? Well, it had the easiest name to digest, one which seemed to summarize itself in a single breath. I do hope to at least give each other game a try, especially J.U.L.I.A.,but knowing me and my awesome skills at multitasking and collecting more games than I know what to do with…well, not in a month of Sundays.

In short, Dinner Date has you exploring the subconsciousness of protagonist Julian Luxemburg as he sits at his dinner table, which is set for two, waiting for his date Meiko to arrive. As the night progresses and Meiko is nowhere to be seen, his thoughts continue to unfold  more frantically, and we learn about the worries that trouble him, many of which are not necessarily related to being stood up. Now, you experience this in a pretty non-traditional manner, slipping into Luxemburg’s mind with some control over his hands and movements. Think Being John Malkovich, but with keyboard button prompts. Via a first-person perspective, you can look at the clock, eat some bread, drink a glass of wine, smoke a cig, tap your fingers, stretch, and so on–all while Luxemburg mumbles and groans about his woes, quietly at first and then ultimately peaking after too much wine loosens his lips. Occasionally, I was unable to hear what he said, but his tone more than made his frustration cleared.

For my time with Dinner Date, I sat mostly mesmerized. A lot of that had to do with the soft, ambient music and just the surprising excitement that came with a new button prompt after X amount of time. Oh man. I can dip the bread in sauce? You mean I can stir my soup before I eat it? Sweetness. I have to wonder if this is what Heavy Rain is like in terms of detailed actions. If so, I’m in. Alas, after the credits rolled, the game crashed, which kind of left me a little confused, as I wasn’t sure if I had played the entire game or just a small slice of it; based on forum postings, I’ve done it all, which means it ends rather as one expects, which is a letdown for Luxemburg, as well as myself. I’d have liked to see how he fared the next day, the next week. Maybe even try again to get Meiko over. Oh well…

Dinner Date is about thirty minutes long in total with limited interactivity despite all the actions I listed that you can do as our leading curmudgeon. You’re basically just passing time until he is ready to move on to the next scene, the first of which covers wine, the second soup, and the third dealing with smoking a cigarette. It’s interesting, for sure, but I’d have liked more game than story in this one, which ultimately leaves it feeling like a fine piece of art, one you can look at and, untraditionally, touch, but can’t control. Still, there’s eight more games for me to check out from Bundle in a Box‘s “Cerebral Bundle.”

The Sea Will Claim Everything in its first hour of clicking

My dream goal would be to cover all the games that came grouped in Bundle in a Box‘s first package for The First Hour, but my time and sanity are running lower and lower with each new day in June that comes to pass. It really is amazing that I’m typing these words here at Grinding Down at all. If anything, I’m happy to report I played an hour (and then some more) of The Sea Will Claim Everything, a unique-looking point-and-click adventure game set in the fantastical realm known as the Lands of Dreams. Click that previously linked sentence to see how the sixty minutes went.

The sad news is that I dragged my feet with this review and the bundle is now over; The Sea Will Claim Everything will not be available for a little bit until Jonas Kyratzes can set up a webshop. So, if you are interested in it and didn’t purchase a bundle, you’ll have to now wait. Sorry, little dreamers.

But stay tuned, as I am going to continue to play The Sea Will Claim Everything and will let you know how it all turns out.

Today’s the day you can open that Bundle in a Box

A few weeks ago, I swore off indie game bundles. Not entirely, but certainly for that bubble of time, as a bunch of game-touting bundles had come out all at once, as if some madman in his madman fortresses, after drinking way too much madman juice, decided to release every rabid hound he had on the poor villagers down below and laugh wildly as he reaped the benefits. Yeah, I’m sure that doesn’t really convey what I want to convey, but basically it felt like too much in too little of a time.

That said, I knew in my heart of hearts that I’d come back, and that would basically happen with the mysteriously Bundle in a Box, a package steeped in slow-revealing secrecy, but sounding of supreme promise, as it did announce that its first package was going to be themed, and that theme, ladies and gents, was to be point-and-click adventure games. Yes, the revolution is in full kick.

Anyways, Bundle in a Box‘s first bundle includes the following: The Sea Will Claim EverythingGemini RueMetal DeadThe ShivahBen There, Dan That!, Time Gentlemen, Please! and–for the first time ever–the downloadable version of 1893: A World’s Fair Mystery text-adventure, which was previously only available as a physical product. That’s some good stuff there, and I’m particularly stoked to see two products from Wadget Eye Games, as I absolutely loved the Blackwell titles to death, pun totally intended. I’ve actually had access to a few of these above titles, but never through Steam, and if there’s something I can appreciate, it’s having all my games in one tidy list, ready for launching.

Bundle in a Box is also doing things a little different than what consumers might have already experienced through events from Humble Indie Bundle and Indie Royal. There’s a constantly decreasing minimal price and bonuses like soundtracks and “making of” ebooks are unlocked after a specific amount of bundles are sold. Money goes towards two fantastic charities: The Hellenic Centre for Mental Health and Treatment of Child and Family and The Indie Dev Grant.

So go forth, adventurers: http://bundle-in-a-box.com/

It’s the first click of many great clicks to come.