Tag Archives: Lost Constellation

Longest Night’s stargazing results in emergent music gameplay

gd longest night final impressions

I’m really excited about Night in the Woods. I mean, yeah, I was excited before, after playing Lost Constellation early last year and seeing what these cute animal friends can get up to and the staggering amount of imagination and creativity to everything surrounding them and their antics, but now I’m even more excited. Unsurprisingly, this all stems from my recent dip into Longest Night, which is actually the first of the two supplemental experiences from Finji, though I’m tackling it second. You know I never like to follow anything by the book…unless it is the Metal Gear series in order of release.

Longest Night is less game and more short story. Or short stories, rather. Snippets of fake history. A gang of four friends–Mae, Bea, Gregg, and Angus–gather around the campfire and trace constellations in the dark sky, bringing to life these legends of old. It’s a classic tradition as part of “Longest Night,” which is equivalent to Christmas or the Winter Solstice in this world. It’s become a part of life, and the older one gets, the further from it they go, which is why no one around the campfire remembers how to make any of the constellations, something they used to do all the time as little kids.

To learn about these historical figures dripping with lore, like Ibn, the First Singer, Quinona, and Tollmetron, you have to trace matching stars to one another. Linked stars all share similar audio clues, so match all the chanting ones together, all the ones that sound like bells, and so on. It’s easy to figure out, if you know that you’re supposed to figure these sounds out. Honestly, I didn’t even realize you could click on them and draw lines to other stars; I thought the whole point of the game was simply to swipe your cursor around, making pretty tunes and enjoying the cackle of a campfire, but eventually I got the feeling I was missing something and started clicking.

Like I said, I spent far too much time simply losing myself in the stars, adding my own beats to the already catchy and, on purpose, looping soundtrack. I didn’t want to trace the rest of the constellations, knowing this dream would come to an end. Here, have a taste of my cursor-moving skills:


To be real, I don’t even know what Night in the Woods is about. I’m being ignorant on purpose; I want to be completely surprised, not just in terms of story, but also gameplay, much like I was going into both Longest Night and Lost Constellation. Sure, a part of me would like to see elements from these incorporated in the bigger adventure, like creating your own snowmen and music beats, but they could also scrap all of this and do something completely different, something totally unexpected, and I would still be content. From a few GIFs that I couldn’t help not look at, it seems like an adventure game with some varying and stylized action scenes here and there. Oh, and it looks gorgeous too. Lots of oranges and blues, falling leaves. Ahhhh.

Now that I’ve played both of Night in the Woods‘ supplemental side stories, all that’s left to do is wait for its final release. Which is somewhere in 2016. Until then, I’ll be staring up at the stars, humming along to a song that never ends.

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2016 Game Review Haiku, #9 – Longest Night

2016 gd games completed longest night

Stargazing to learn
The constellations of lore
Night in the Woods soon

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.

My five favorite games in 2015

my five favorite games in 2015 gd post

While I love listening to “Game of the Year” podcasts and sifting through dozens and dozens of lists featuring, in descending order, ten videogame titles, I myself don’t really participate in this tradition. Instead, I like to muse about the games I didn’t get to play in 2015, as well as list what I consider to be my five favorite games. Yup, five–not ten. I’m truly an outlier.

Chances are a few of these are smaller games or experiences no one else is talking about in big, bold tones, and that’s fine. Take for instance, my five from last year, which highlighted Disney Magical World as the shining star. It’s my list, and these are favorites for a reason, which I’ll go into more later with each game. Also, enjoy some artwork I whipped up for every numbered item.

::insert sound of drumroll here::

::okay, here as well::

::almost there::

::eee::

5. Lost Constellation

gd 2015 top five - lost constellation

Look, technically Lost Constellation came out two days after Christmas in 2014, but I didn’t get around to playing it until February, after a Quick Look from Giant Bomb brought it to my attention. I’m counting it for this year because it has continued to stick with me since then, and I’m bummed that Night in the Woods still hasn’t come out yet. Here’s me going out on a limb and saying that you’ll see that game somewhere in my top five next year, so long as it hits all the same marks as the supplemental demo did.

Anyways, Lost Constellation is a tantalizing appetizer of things yet to come, but stands strongly on its own as a cute, somewhat dark bedtime story perfectly set in the winter. I played it in the winter, but I’m looking forward to going through it again when the summer heat kicks in as it can easily transport you from one season to another. There’s not much replayability to it, other than creating different looking snowmen, but the succinctness of the story–and mesmerizing soundtrack–are worth revisiting. Plus, there’s a rather sardonic cat to converse with, which I’ll never turn down.

4. Time Clickers

gd 2015 top five - time clickers

Here’s the scary thing. I’ve not actually played that much Time Clickers, but Steam says I’ve logged 199 hours on it, and that’s mostly because I enjoy leaving it open while I’m drawing or listening to a podcast. That’s still an insane number of hours, rubbing shoulders with other giants from my past, like Dragon Quest IX and Fallout 3. The difference here though is that those games are more based around actions while Time Clickers is a game of choices. Do I level up this element of my gun or something else? Do I hit the space bar now to use all my power-ups at once or wait until there are only a few cubes left? Do I reset and use Time Cubes to grow stronger, but start over? That last one is easy to answer: no. Never start over. Not when it took around 199 hours to get to the level 500s.

3. Pokémon Shuffle

gd 2015 top five - pokemon shuffle

I always hit a wall in Pokémon Shuffle, and, so far, I always break past it. Might take me a few nights, might take me a week or even a month, and it might take me a number of coins to purchase special power-ups to get the job done. But I persevere. For those that don’t know, it’s a match-three puzzle game where you match cartoon heads of Pokémon to damage the level’s enemy. You get five chances to play before having to wait some silly amount of time to recharge your hearts, but that aspect never bothered me because this was my before-bed experience, burning five hearts. Sometimes making progress, sometimes not–though you are always leveling up your team.

Currently, I’m at level 219 (Spewpa) and plan to keep going. I have no idea how many more levels there are, if there is in fact one for every Pokémon out there. Seems like it keeps getting updated. Pokémon Shuffle is also the third most played game on my Nintendo 3DS according to the stats library, at nearly 65 hours, behind Animal Crossing: New Leaf and Disney Magical World. I expect to be playing this a bunch in 2016, which is the opposite of that other free-to-play Pokémon game that came out this year.

2. Super Mario Maker

gd 2015 top five - super mario maker

As it turns out, I was not able to finish writing about Super Mario Maker before firmly placing this title as my numero two for 2015. The blog post for that is still in the works, so this might seem a little out of nowhere considering I’ve not really talked about it a whole bunch…on Grinding Down.

It’s fantastic, and I’m terrible at half of it. Namely, the half where you construct your own levels. It’s probably the most I’ve ever messed with a create-your-own-level mode other than Super Scribblenauts, and it works just fine, but I think I enjoy playing–and watching others play–Mario levels more than creating them. I constantly check back in to see what new levels will give me cutesy 8-bit costumes, as well as try my hand at a random assortment of levels. Truthfully, I love watching people stream demonically-designed stages and struggle, like with Patrick Klepek and Dan Ryckert’s ongoing feud. There’s a growing community around this game, one I’m finding myself actively participating in.

1. Fallout 4

gd 2015 top five - fallout 4

I finished Fallout 4 the other night out of fear of being spoiled, rushing through the end of the main storyline. If I could go back in time, I’d give a hug at a very specific time in my life, as well as not rush through Fallout 4 like that. It’s not great. In fact, I’d say that it is a better game to play and live in, but not complete. I’ll have some more thoughts on the various lackluster endings at a later date, but despite that, I can’t get enough of this world. It’s open, brimming with items and enemies and places to discover, and while I struggle with a lot of the settlement stuff and house decorating, it’s still something I think about whenever I find a certain item or resource out in the wild. I’m already thinking about other characters to craft and new ways to build up Sanctuary. I’m already planning a run where I’m friends with every faction in the Commonwealth and stop playing main questlines once those are locked in.

As someone who ate up every ounce (or nearly ounce) of Bethesda’s previous open-world games, Fallout 4 did not surprise me or the industry. It’s exactly what you expect it to be. It’s like going home.

There you go.

As many should now know, I did not get to play many newly released games in 2015, and so it was actually slim pickings when it came to my top five for the year. Regardless, I’m happy with them, and wonder what will grip my head and heart next year. Here’s hoping for a few surprises.

A young alligator astronomer’s journey to find a star in Lost Constellation

lost constellation overall thoughts gd

Lost Constellation, as a supplemental to the forthcoming Night in the Woods, did its job–and did it splendidly. I’m officially onboard for Infinite Ammo’s full-blown videogame, which, in their words, is “an adventure game heavily focused on story, characters and exploration, with some platforming to get around town.”

Lost Constellation is all that, but condensed and only slightly related. In short, it’s a ghost story, a bedtime tale, a journey within a journey. Mae’s grandfather is the narrator, weaving together the night-driven adventures of Adina, a young alligator astronomer, and her journey to find a star, keep a promise. As she travels through the cold, harsh woods, Adina will stumble upon a number of interesting–if mostly untrustworthy–characters, like a blue fox that wants to sell wanderers coffins, a cat that is not a wizard cat, just simply a cat, an old, weather-controlling witch, and ghosts of the once living. Oh, and snowmen, but Adina makes those herself, rather than runs directly into them; more on that later.

Gameplay is exploration-based, with Adina moving left or right, discovering items and characters to interact with. She can also pick up and carry snowballs, which are great for hitting things out of trees or summoning a guard via some rung bell. Expect plenty of dialogue to unfold, the majority of which is amusing and interestingly presented, and there is the occasional dialogue choice to make, though they never seemed like the sort of decisions that would change what might happen next. Merely a different way of asking the same thing. Maybe Night in the Woods will explore this deeper.

The soundtrack by Alec Holowka is strikingly soft and eerie. Beautiful and off-putting. Happy adjective and sad adjective. Perfect for a walk in a strange forest under starlight. I’m personally a big fan of “Tundra” so much that I left the game up in a part where it played while I did some household chores, letting it loop (this was before I knew the developers had a separate site for it). The whole soundtrack actually reminds me a lot of Mass Effect, Transistor (minus the jazzy drums), and Fire Emblem: Awakening, all snowballed into one very low-key, laconic, haunting concert.

One of the big focuses of Lost Constellation is collecting special items and constructing a snowperson out of them. Or around them, if you will. You end up making four or five across Adina’s time in the woods, and the game lets you take a screenshot of your finished work, saving it directly to your desktop, free of charge. I will now share with y’all my four snowpeople, in all their creative glory:

snowman_2015-02-07_11-31-50 snowman_2015-02-07_11-22-54snowman_2015-02-07_10-15-51 snowman_2015-02-07_10-22-55

Overall, I’m pretty proud of my work. From what I’ve gathered based off screenshots and animated GIFs for Night in the Woods, it seems to be set in a modern city and during autumn, so this snowperson-crafting mechanic might not show up there. Perhaps we can help Mae create monsters from piles of leaves. Either way, I hope something like this is in there again, because, while not challenging at all, it made for a fun distraction and at least made the slight bits of backtracking rewarding. When I watched Giant Bomb play Lost Constellation last week, they found a dog collar for one of their snowmen; I did not, which makes me wonder if there is some randomizing happening under the hood.

Again, Lost Constellation is a side thing, a slice of maybe what’s to come for Night in the Woods. It has me intrigued over this world and the holiday called “Longest Night” and this astronomer Adina (though not-so-much about Mae). I don’t know everything, but I’m looking forward to learning more, and I have to wonder how much of what is in Lost Constellation will pop up elsewhere. Regardless, here’s hoping for a 2015 release. Or heck, even another pay-what-you-want supplemental. I just want more.

2015 Game Review Haiku, #12 – Lost Constellation

2015 gd games completed lost constellation

A bedtime story
Of ghosts, snowmen, forest gods
Gorgeous, childish

From 2012 all through 2013, I wrote little haikus here at Grinding Down about every game I beat or completed, totaling 104 in the end. I took a break from this format last year in an attempt to get more artsy, only to realize that I missed doing it dearly. So, we’re back. Or rather, I am. Hope you enjoy my continued take on videogame-inspired Japanese poetry in three phases of 5, 7, and 5, respectively.