Telltale Games cut their point-and-click teeth on comedy, with Sam & Max and Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People becoming early breakout hits. As time went on, though, they headed in a more drama-focused direction, with the most publicized catalyst being the first season of The Walking Dead. Its focus on life-changing decisions made under tight time constraints created an emotional rollercoaster of an experience, with a plethora of scenarios whose outcomes were a far cry from black and white.
With this pedigree behind it, Guardians of the Galaxy: Tangled Up in Blue feels like a huge step back. That’s not to say that it’s a wholly worthless experience, but it feels like a game that largely ignores the developments made by its predecessors.
Release Date: May 11, 2012 (Episode 1) – May 11, 2017 (Episode 6)
Time Played (Steam): 15.7 hours
Played with: Mouse
Paid: $0 (Key provided for review)
Five years is a long time in the world of gaming.
Five years ago, the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 only existed as prototypes. Games like Dishonored, The Walking Dead, and Hotline Miami were considered new IPs. Half Life 3… well, people were a bit more optimistic about its existence.
Amidst all of this, the first two episodes of The Dream Machine slipped onto PC. At the time, it probably seemed impossible that it would take until 2017 for the story to reach its conclusion, yet here we are. Somehow, it managed to avoid the encroaching grasp of development hell and emerged as a beautiful head-trip of a game.
Absurdist humour is something that can be very difficult to pull off. If you push things too far, you risk alienating your audience, with the potential exception of the “lol, so random” crowd. If you don’t go far enough, most, if not all of the jokes will just fall flat, since (as the name implies), their humour comes from how utterly absurd they are. Add into the mix the complexity inherent in interactive media, and you have the delicate balancing act that is Jazzpunk. Continue reading →
Short games present an interesting conundrum. On one hand, they tell a brief, concise story that can generally be experienced in one or two sittings without overstaying its welcome. On the other, they provide significantly less time for the player to actually get invested in the game, whether it’s the story, characters, or gameplay. In some games, this can work well; games like Dr. Langeskov, The Tiger, and The Terribly Cursed Emerald: A Whirlwind Heist immediately come to mind. However, others can feel like they’re over before they’ve even really begun; sorry, I don’t have some perfectly relevant example for this off the top of my head. Interestingly, though, Message Quest manages to fall somewhere in between, feeling like it’s both over too quickly and not soon enough. Continue reading →
Release Date: N/A (Last updated December 11, 2015)
Time Played: 18 minutes
Paid: $0 (Free to play)
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. Continue reading →