Tag Archives: ghosts

2017 Game Review Haiku, #61 – I’m Still Here

Brand new apartment
Haunted, fish out who it is
Delightfully quick

I can’t believe I’m still doing this. I can’t believe I’ll ever stop. These game summaries in chunks of five, seven, and five syllable lines paint pictures in the mind better than any half a dozen descriptive paragraphs I could ever write. Trust me, I’ve tried. Brevity is the place to be. At this point, I’ve done over 200 of these things and have no plans of slowing down. So get ready for another year of haikus. Doumo arigatou gozaimasu.

2017 Game Review Haiku, #58 – Toca Boo

Bonnie scares fam time
Hide, make them nervous, big boos
Cute animations

I can’t believe I’m still doing this. I can’t believe I’ll ever stop. These game summaries in chunks of five, seven, and five syllable lines paint pictures in the mind better than any half a dozen descriptive paragraphs I could ever write. Trust me, I’ve tried. Brevity is the place to be. At this point, I’ve done over 200 of these things and have no plans of slowing down. So get ready for another year of haikus. Doumo arigatou gozaimasu.

2017 Game Review Haiku, #18 – Overcursed

2017-gd-games-completed-overcursed

Ghost-hunter hired
Begins with points, clicks, outlets
Ends on massacre

I can’t believe I’m still doing this. I can’t believe I’ll ever stop. These game summaries in chunks of five, seven, and five syllable lines paint pictures in the mind better than any half a dozen descriptive paragraphs I could ever write. Trust me, I’ve tried. Brevity is the place to be. At this point, I’ve done over 200 of these things and have no plans of slowing down. So get ready for another year of haikus. Doumo arigatou gozaimasu.

2016 Game Review Haiku, #47 – Lost Ethereal

2016 gd games completed lost ethereal capture

Saving your dead fam
By walking through the realm of
Spirits, pixel art

Here we go again. Another year of me attempting to produce quality Japanese poetry about the videogames I complete in three syllable-based phases of 5, 7, and 5. I hope you never tire of this because, as far as I can see into the murky darkness–and leap year–that is 2016, I’ll never tire of it either. Perhaps this’ll be the year I finally cross the one hundred mark. Buckle up–it’s sure to be a bumpy ride. Yoi ryokō o.

2016 Game Review Haiku, #22 – I’ve Been Late

2016 gd games completed i've been late

Despite all the ghosts
This was a relaxing time
Under the moonlight

Here we go again. Another year of me attempting to produce quality Japanese poetry about the videogames I complete in three syllable-based phases of 5, 7, and 5. I hope you never tire of this because, as far as I can see into the murky darkness–and leap year–that is 2016, I’ll never tire of it either. Perhaps this’ll be the year I finally cross the one hundred mark. Buckle up–it’s sure to be a bumpy ride. Yoi ryokō o.

Absent’s time travel trip is a bit rough around the edges

gd absent adventure game thoughts

Surprisingly, or maybe it’s not surprising at all because we now live in an era when you can’t look left or right without something free being dangled before your hazy, consume hungry-limned eyes, there are quite a number of free adventure games on Steam to try out. I’ve already played The Old Tree, but there’s also Emily is Away, Dr. Langeskov, The Tiger, and The Terribly Cursed Emerald: A Whirlwind Heist (that’s one game name, by the way, starting at the doctor part, which I ended up playing in the time it took me to finish this post, whoops), Only If, and Missing Translation to look forward to in my ever-growing pipeline of even free things I don’t have time to play right now. Le sigh.

For the moment, I’m giving Absent from FNGames a go. I saw some posts about it over at the Adventure Game Studios forums, which I like to frequent now and then to see what people are working on and what’s out in the wild, especially since many of those titles don’t get a ton of coverage from the major websites. It was originally released in 2013, but made its cost-effective debut on Steam in 2015. Other than that, I went into it fairly blind, other than obviously seeing a screenshot or two to confirm it was, in fact, a point-and-click adventure game of the traditional sense.

Absent stars the determined if somewhat aloof Murray Schull, a young man attending college and who walks as if he has a permanent wedgie that he is internally debating on picking in public. One day, his best friend Steve’s girlfriend, Crystal, disappears, an event that spirals out of control and puts Murray on a path of danger, disillusionment, and death. Also, time travel, but that really only comes into play towards the very end. Oh, and Murray is haunted by visions of both the past and future, which factor into the puzzles and his decisions on what to do next to find answers as to Crystal’s disappearance.

To say I was taken aback by Absent is being kind. This game really surprised me, for good and for bad. First, a lot of adventure games I snag from the AGS forums are short, tiny little experiences. Snippets of an idea, a few screens to explore. Like A Landlord’s Dream. Absent features plenty of unique animations, is fully voice acted from beginning to end, and took me over six hours to see its credits roll due to the amount of story, puzzles, and, this is not a plus, backtracking involved. Sure, sure. Visually, it is not going to win any awards or even get my eyes to dilate with pleasure, but the graphics take a backseat for an admittedly overambitious story and dense amount of content to poke at.

Let me get more specific here, before I bring up the parts of Absent I found extremely lackluster, as there are many. Though the story is too big for its britches, I give FNGames credit for going big or going home. Since time travel is the deus ex machina to solve everything come the end events, there had to be some careful planning into setting it for that outcome, and I can appreciate details like how the first Reaper was made and that crack behind the canteen appeared. There’s a good amount of dialogue options to go through with many of the NPCs, as well as numerous unique responses for trying items on items that clearly won’t work with it. Showing everyone Murray’s homework assignment was amusing. Lastly, I dig the look of the ghastly, otherworldly Reapers, even if I don’t fully understand their motives.

Alas, Absent is fairly rough around the edges. Also in its middle area. From a technical stance, sometimes the cursor icon would automatically change to “use” when you hovered over a door or exit to a new area, and sometimes it wouldn’t. The inconsistency varied from screen to screen. There were plenty of times I also didn’t want the icon to change, forcing me to have to left click several times back to my preferred option. A few screens, like in front of the college and the swamp, are a wee bit larger than what you can actually see, so you are constantly changing to the “walk” icon to move a foot to the right or left and find the exit. It’s annoying. More times than not, the subtitles and voice-over work do not match up, and there were a number of typos spotted along the way, which, as an editor, I simply can’t not see.

One of my biggest critiques of Absent revolves around logic. Almost immediately, characters are shown to jump to the wildest conclusions without any rationalizing. For example, within minutes of learning that his girlfriend is missing, Steve is absolutely convinced that she was murdered by so-and-so and will hear no other arguments. Missing equals murdered in this world, and then once he finds out that Crystal was cheating on him, he no longer mourns for her. Like, not even a little bit, claiming she got her just desserts. I think at this point in the timeline, it’s been one day since she vanished. Granted, once the speculative fiction elements really start taking shape, a lot of logic-based decisions can be tossed out the window, but for the early part of Absent, I was hoping to see some more believable reactions out of the cast, especially Murray, who seems to simply be a dude we use to click around on things and cause events to happen. I’m still not sure why he’s the main character we play as.

Lastly, in terms of diversity, Absent is absent. This is a world of white people and only white people. Considering the size of the cast, it is a shame to see it so one-sided, and hopefully this is something that can be addressed in the forthcoming Absent II. I mean, it takes place at a college, for goodness sake, where all shapes, sizes, and color of people from everywhere in the world come together to learn, make mistakes, and learn some more. At least the female characters are voiced by women and not men pitching their voices up.

Still, all that said, I’d recommend checking Absent out. You might not be impressed with the story and safe way it wraps everything up, nor the difficulty of the majority of puzzles, which mostly require item on item interaction save for one involving a sliding ladder, but there’s still something interesting going on here, especially from a small team. Plus, if you like British accents, this game has them and then some. I personally think Steve sounds like Jim Sterling, but that’s just me. Maybe every angry British man does.

Campfire’s scary ghost story is told by matching four

gd campfire capture

I’ve gone camping a few times, when I was younger, but never in the stereotypical manner depicted on television or in movies. You know, when everyone gathers round a roaring flame in one big circle, roasting marshmallows on sticks and whispering the beginnings of stories whose only purpose is to ensure you have even more difficulty falling asleep on the ground in a sleeping bag possibly crawling with critters. Instead, I slept in a cabin and had lights out by like nine p.m. or it was with my father, and we’d eat hot dogs and beans and then I’d play my guitar in the murky darkness of the woods before the sound of its strings–the guitar’s, not the wood’s–would quickly freak me out. Yup, I’m kind of a big scaredy-cat.

Campfire was created by Adam Hartling (XenosNS) and Chris Last-Name-Not Known (rogueNoodle) for the Halifax Game Collective back in February 2015, which sported the theme “ghost stories,” and the player weaves these spooky tales by matching four icons on a grid and increasing the meter on the bottom of the screen. Seems easy enough. If you don’t match four similar-looking monsters, the meter will deplete and those around the campfire will grow bored, even sleepy. Basically, like a multiplier, you’ll want to keep matching four after four after four to ensure all are properly frightened from start to finish.

Honestly, it’s a bare bones match four puzzle game, but I’m in love with its design and aesthetic. The crackling campfire, the sounds the monsters make when matched, and the cute, children’s book-esque illustrations are a sight to behold. They remind me of someone‘s artwork that I look at weekly, though the name refuses to hop off the tip of my tongue. Unfortunately, you don’t really get to view what is going on with the campfire and kids as you match, since your focus and eyes are looked into the grid, always searching for the next set to clear. Okay, I went back to see, and all that happens is the main bear thingy, the one with the darker fur, just speaks a speech balloon featuring the monster you matched. Be cool if the monsters changed expressions as they grew more scared or bored.

I’ve not played anything else from rogueNoodle, but looking through his games list gets me excited to try out a few others. The same can be said about Adam Hartling. Gah, too many cool-looking indie experiences to experience, and not enough time in this universe. Curse you, Warp Door, for revealing yourself to me today. Curse you, and also thank you.

Anyways, if you enjoy matching adorable vampire bats and often listen to a soothing soundtrack that is burning wood on loop, give Campfire a try–in your browser, mind you–right over this way.