Fire Emblem is a series that has seen many instalments over the years, yet I feel that it’s still one that flies under the radar for most people. Certainly up until the point where I played Fire Emblem: Heroes, I always knew it as, “That fantasy turn-based tactics game that most of the sword-wielders in Smash Bros. came from”. It intrigued me, but never enough to warrant going out and buying a game. This probably wasn’t helped by the fact that many of the titles in the series have become highly sought-after commodities in recent years. Regardless, its release as a free-to-play mobile game signalled an easy (and cheap) way for me to give the series a shot.
‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house,
Not a sound could be heard, ‘cept the click of a mouse.
I tapped softly at keys, poking them one by one,
In hopes that my Christmas post soon would be done.
Minimalism is a popular concept in video games. One of the most commonly-used forms is in minimalistic art styles; many indie games in particular often opt for a clean, simple look to make their user interfaces and gameplay screens uncluttered and easy to understand. However, minimalism can also be applied to other aspects of a game, such as the narrative or even the gameplay mechanics. In some cases, this can lead to phenomenal results. Take the various games that Telltale has made over the last few years; the player’s opportunities for interaction are typically limited to following button prompts, yet the rich narrative carries the experience. Instead of picking and choosing, though, Antenna opts for minimalism in basically every aspect. That’s not to say that it feels cheap or cobbled together; this is not some shovelware that was just thrown up on Steam Greenlight one day and left to die. However, there’s also very little to grasp onto when it comes to doing a proper analysis of it.
That was all I could really say upon “beating” The Static Speaks My Name. I have “beating” in quotes, as this was a case where it didn’t so much feel like I had beaten the game as I felt that it had beaten me. I felt uncomfortable. Disturbed. Anxious. I honestly considered not even writing this review, because I didn’t know if I could properly put into words how the game made me feel. Plus, I wasn’t sure I wanted to dwell on it any longer than I had to. But here I am, doing just that, so hopefully I can get some coherent thoughts out and not come across as much more pretentious than I usually do.
Dreams are weird. Well, they can be. They can also be exciting, frightening, sad, or all of the above. But they almost invariably tell us something about ourselves. Except for that one I had about Donald Trump eating a plate of pancakes. That one was just weird. Maybe I’m getting sidetracked, though…
Awkward Dimensions Redux is a short free-to-play game that takes the player through a series of short levels, each of which is meant to be a manifestation of a dream the game’s developer had. Some of the levels have small sets of objectives built into them, such as navigating a platforming challenge or taking an object from point A to point B. Overall, though, it is a linear “walking simulator”-type experience that gives you a glimpse into the psyche of a young artist. It really reminded me of The Beginner’s Guide, both in the ways in which it took me through a series of minimalistic, often abstract environments to the ways in which it used said environments to tell a story.
Life is an incredibly complex thing. Every day, we have hundreds of experiences, ranging from the mundane to the life-changing, and that particular set of experiences is completely unique to us. No two people ever have the exact same day at the exact same time. However, despite the overwhelming dissimilarities, our lives are more similar than we might think. All of them have the same beginning and end; the differences arise in how we get there. Many people go through a number of standard “steps” in life, as well. Most remember being disciplined by their parents at some point. Lots of people get married. Still others have children; crazies, I tell you. Our lives continually cross at these points of commonality before diverging into an abyss of personal choices. However, it is through these points that I Am a Brave Knight tells its story, connecting each dot together into a brief, yet universal narrative.
The end of the world happens every day.
Well, I guess that’s a slightly misleading statement. A better way of putting it would be that the end of a world happens every day. It may not involve you or someone you know, but hardship is a constant presence in our lives. Day in and day out, we struggle to build up and maintain some semblance of a satisfactory existence, yet it’s seemingly inevitable that it will all come crashing down. It happens in different ways at different times for different people, but there always seems to come a point where every facet of our existence, carefully placed and polished to a mirror sheen, becomes utterly meaningless in the face of some seemingly insurmountable challenge. The world that we’ve so carefully built up around ourselves shatters into thousands of pieces, and we’re left to wade through some of the hardest times in our life as everything seems to fall apart.
Such is the premise of The End of the World, a short, linear, narrative-driven experience for mobile devices. As the game’s store description explains, it follows the life of a man whose world ended the day that he lost his love. In the game, this “world ending” takes the form of the world literally falling apart and decaying around the protagonist as time goes on. It’s the player’s task to take the man through the terrible hardships he faces and hopefully find a way to move on.
Tsundere: [noun] A Japanese term for a character development process that describes a person who is initially cold and even hostile towards another person before gradually showing a warmer side over time.
– Source: Wikipedia
Tsundere Sharks. The name alone got me, and it was further helped by the app icon, featuring a cute-looking shark with rosy cheeks and a sour expression. Having flashbacks to my brief time with Hatoful Boyfriend (a pigeon-dating visual novel), I was instantly intrigued. The store description furthered my excitement by promising the opportunity to “Find [the] best girl”, calling the game a “Super Realistic Harem-Shark Sim”. “I am 110% okay with a shark dating game on mobile,” I thought. I specifically postponed playing it until I was at home, thinking that it would be an amusing and entertaining experience deserving of my full attention.
I think that I maybe got a bit overhyped.
PRICE is a game that started out with so much promise. It caught my eye on the Steam store for two reasons: its nicely realized anime aesthetic, and its low price of free. I figured that that was more than enough reason to dive into it, and I was initially very pleased with it. The opening cinematic in particular really drew me in with its haunting vocals and dramatic instrumentation. I highly recommend that you check it out if you’re into the whole “dark and mysterious anime opening” thing. Unfortunately, that’s the only part of the game I can really recommend looking at, as I found much of the rest of it to be a tiresome, frustrating chore to play.