The Count Lucanor Review (Cubed3)

lucanor_poster_02Developer: Baroque Decay
Publisher: Baroque Decay
Played on: PC
Release Date: March 3, 2016
Time Played (Steam): 4.5 hours
Played with: Mouse & Keyboard
Paid: $0 (Key provided for review)

Pulling off good horror with pixel art is difficult. Titles like Lone Survivor come to mind as somewhat recent examples of pixelated horror done right, but such games are far from the household names that Outlast, Amnesia, and even Slender have become. Part of the reason for that may be that it’s difficult to properly set up jump scares when playing from what is generally a pulled-out, third-person view; giving the player so much vision can undercut the effectiveness of such surprises. To combat this, many “bit horror” games choose the same tactic chosen by The Count Lucanor: the horror comes from the imagery and circumstances rather than their sudden presentation.

Read the full review here [Cubed3]

The Dream Machine Review (GameSpew)

94300_20170512211835_1cDeveloper: Cockroach Inc.
Publisher: The Sleeping Machine
Played on: PC
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.

Read the full review here [GameSpew]

Slayaway Camp Review (Cubed3)

SlayawaySky_1920x1080Developer: Blue Wizard Digital
Publisher: Blue Wizard Digital
Played on: PC
Release Date: October 25, 2016
Time Played (Steam): 3.9 hours
Played with: Mouse & Keyboard
Paid: $0 (Free giveaway)

Video games have explored countless horror film tropes over the years: abandoned hospitals, possessed toys, and ghoulish monsters, just to name a few. Such games have, for the most part, taken themselves completely seriously, sometimes to their detriment. There’s been a drought of games that capture the spirit of schlocky, B-movie slasher films like The Evil Dead and Grindhouse. Slayaway Camp aims to fill this void with an interesting combination: the typically fast-paced thrills of the genre mixed with the methodical pacing of a puzzle game.

Read the full review here [Cubed3]


Pony Island Review

405640_20170103170535_1Developer: Daniel Mullins Games
Publisher: Daniel Mullins Games
Played on: PC
Release Date: January 4, 2016
Time Played (Steam): 2.7 hours
Paid: $4.94

After a long, tiring day, sometimes it’s nice to sit down with something simple; something that doesn’t involve lots of complicated mechanics.

Luckily, a number of these games have emerged over the last few years, many of them cropping up in the mobile space.

Looking at the vast catalog of such games, it is clear that one of the more common types is that of the endless runner, and it’s in this genre that Pony Island finds itself. Continue reading

The Games I Wish I Had Played in 2016

Well, it’s officially 2017 around the world.  The start of a new year.  Which means that everyone’s looking back on the last year and going, “Well that was a bit toss, wasn’t it?”  That is, except for the people who are taking the opportunity to look back at their fond memories from the year past, namely when it comes to video games.  There were countless fantastic games that got released last year, so many of which I desperately wanted to try out.  Unfortunately, as a university student, there are two things that I severely lack in: money and time.  As a result, it is incredibly common that I have to watch as new releases are hyped, released, and enjoyed by the masses, while waiting patiently for the day that they inevitably go on sale and I actually have the time to sit down with them.  Some of these games have been sitting in my library for months, awaiting their eventual installation.  Others are on my wishlist, hoping to one day be added to my ever-growing backlog.  Whatever the case, these are (in no particular order) the games that I wish I had gotten to in 2016.  You can also consider this to be a “To play in 2017” list, if that’s your thing.  Either way, you’ve probably all already played all of these and think I’m a pleb for not looking at them yet.

Okay.  😦 Continue reading

The Static Speaks My Name Review

387860_20161126165434_1Developer: Jesse Barksdale
Publisher: Jesse Barksdale
Played on: PC
Release Date: August 10, 2015
Time Played (Steam): 12 minutes
Paid: $0 (Free to play)

“Well then.”

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. Continue reading

SOMA Review

282140_20160915182456_1.pngDeveloper: Frictional Games
Publisher: Frictional Games
Played on: PC
Release Date: September 22, 2015
Time Played (Steam): 11.1 hours
Paid: $15.94 (Multi-game bundle)

“Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”

-Philip K. Dick

It is with this quote that SOMA begins its interesting, insightful, and terrifying descent, both metaphorical and literal.  In its opening moments, the game establishes you as Simon Jarrett, a seemingly ordinary young man who is suffering from a severe head injury following a tragic car crash.  Given months to live, Simon decides to undergo an experimental procedure under the observation of Dr. David Munshi.  However, as the first stage of the procedure (a brain scan) begins, Simon is knocked out, and wakes up somewhere…else.  He eventually determines that he is onboard a largely abandoned facility known as PATHOS-II, and it’s some 100 years in the future.  After some exploring, Simon is able to contact one of the other sites on PATHOS-II, and reaches a woman named Catherine Chun.  She informs him of the purpose of the facility, and the two set out to complete the mission Catherine began before everything went to hell. Continue reading