Distraint: Pocket Pixel Horror

   DISTRAINT: Pocket Pixel Horror- screenshot

Distraint is a pixel 2D sidescrolling horror game by Jesse Makkonen. It’s quite an achievement of a game to have been made in just 3 months, and it’s also rather trippy in parts – which in this case works in its favor.

Before I get on to the actual review, I should specify: I played Distraint on mobile, but I know it’s also available on Steam. Not having the steam version, I’m not sure if there are any big differences between the two except for the free android version having ads. The ads were unobtrusive enough, but they were unskippable little videos, so they were a bit annoying in that sense. I only encountered them when reloading the game, though, so it wasn’t a big issue.

If there are any other differences, well, just keep in mind I’ll be reviewing the android version.

With that out of the way, let’s start: Distraint is a pretty minimalist looking horror game. The interface is kept nice and simple on the android version. Two arrows and three comfortable buttons (one for action, one for inventory and one for the menu) are located at the bottom. Since it’s a side-scroller, that was a very comfortable way of handling moving about the map.

I didn’t quite know what to expect when I first went into it. The visual of the game, to me personally, was both appealing and unappealing; I wasn’t overly fond of the sprite design, however, their quirky looks gave a new level of creepiness to the story that I didn’t expect. The backgrounds and settings, were beautifully done and most eerie to travel through, making the experience a pleasure.

The story revolves around Price, who guided by greed, seizes various properties from some people in order to gain partnership on the company he works for, a company led already by three very creepy, very shady guys. Along the way guilt and remorse eat away at him and he begins tripping all throughout. Or so it would seem. The game has very weird, very out of the blue moments, but unlike other horror games of the type I’ve reviewed, in this one it actually works in its favor. The very few jump scares (more like startle-scares) were mostly predictable, but not obnoxiously in your face, and also lend themselves to an eerier gameplay rather than just being there for a cheap scare.

Cover art

Which leads me to the sound, as some of these scares were things like a ringing phone. The sound, music and ambiance wise, was wonderful. The creepy music played throughout was perfect for the game, for the weirdness of it, there were, however, a few sounds that looped annoyingly or that were too loud for my taste compared to others.

But looks, story and sound all formed the perfect little creepy vibe to keep you on your toes the entire time, while still touching on your emotions, and truly making you care for at least the main character and the first two people he evicted. The third one… not so much. Even the very few “timed” events that were around were perfectly easy to complete without ripping your hair out… which leads me to the puzzles. The puzzles were simple but fantastic – perfect for a casual player, but perhaps it won’t cut it in that aspect for people who want a bit more difficulty. There is, however, a decent amount of backtracking and the damn character will not run. That is usually one of my major complaints on horror games that involve puzzles that send you backtracking through maps and maps: a lack of the ability to RUN.

You make me sad, developers. You make me sad.

Other than that, the game is fantastic. A true horror game indeed, which relies not only on the cheap scares but on some actual psychological aspects and on a great ambient. The ending is heart-touching, and I completely loved my play-through of it.

Definitely recommended if you’re into horror!

4.5/5

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Hide and Seek: Story of Dorothy

   HideAndSeek[Story of Dorothy]- screenshot

Hide and Seek: Story of Dorothy by TabomSoft is a little horror puzzle/RPG for android. Except for the obvious backtracking required in it (like in most puzzle games, really), the game is fairly short (10 to 15 minutes per floor if you know what to do, with 5 floors and then some extra backtracking), which is not bad considering that it’s currently free (if you play it with ads).

You play Dorothy, a little girl who fell asleep in the closet while playing Hide and Seek, and now seems to have forgotten why she was there to begin with. A weird premise to be sure, but it’s a quick horror game for mobile, so I decided I’d try not to be as judge-y of it.

I, of course, promptly failed.

Despite its two endings, a lot of things don’t make sense in the story to me. Yeah, yeah, I hear those of you who liked it: “You like to be spoon fed the story.” Nope, I like stories to be clear. I guess you can interpret things a couple ways, if you’re into that; to me most of those ‘open’ stories (if it’s what it was intended to be) seem more like just writer laziness.

All the same, the story is not bad in the terms of horror games, even if it does get a bit challenged by the poor translation at certain parts throughout it.

But let’s forget about the story for now, we’re here to be scared, right?

The game has that pixel-RPG vibe of RPG Maker games. I’m not familiar enough with the horror assets of it, but I did quite like the art, sprites and the tiles used throughout. Dorothy was pretty adorable. Ambiance wise, the game took you from normal to eerie to black and white badness as you progress through the floors, and it did gave it all a bit of a gloomy, eerie feeling, so thumbs up for that.

Moving through the game is easy-peasy; you have the four movement buttons to the left and two buttons to the right (action and inventory). You interact with objects by walking up to them and pressing action, making text choices, and using items from your inventory.

The puzzles weren’t horribly difficult, but again, one or two included reading and you needed to do some slight extra job figuring out what the translation had meant. It wasn’t the worst translated game I’ve encountered, however, so it was still mostly understandable. There are more than a few timed scenes (chase scenes) which, if you know me and timed events, you will know I didn’t like them at all. Not only were they cheap tricks to get your heart pumping without using actual horror, but the monsters looked ridiculous.

   HideAndSeek[Story of Dorothy]- screenshot

The game has a gimmicky mobile item: hearts, which you lose every time you die, and you unfortunately lose hearts often because it has even some traps throughout. You replentish times every so many minutes of gameplay though, so no big deal. There are also clocks, I assume they grant you more time during chase scenes, but I didn’t try them, so I wouldn’t know.

You save on grandfather clocks which are placed rather generously through the game, a much appreciated feature considering it’s, as I mentioned, scattered with traps. I couldn’t decide if I liked these or not. They were quite interesting, though frustrating, and once you knew they existed they were rather easy to spot if you were paying attention. But the first couple felt like just cheap tricks to piss you off, so I was a bit torn.

There are various characters through the game, however, except for three of them (and then “mom” and “dad”) they didn’t bother to name any, and they are all called A, B and C. It was kind of a lazy move.

There were some problems with it though, with the save games disappearing, so save often and in more than one spot, just in case.

As for the ads, they were rather bothersome. I had some at the top which I was able to easily ignore after some playing, but the ones popping up when you lose or try to hit to go back are just cumbersome, so watch out for them.

All in all, I rather liked the game for the looks of it, but the unclear story and the gimmicky chases and silly monsters knocked a few stars out of it for me.

Is it scary? Meh. Skulls are scary… right? No?

Would I recommend it? I think you’d have fun if you’re into quick horror games, but if you like a horror game with substance, look elsewhere.

2.5/5

SIM – Sara is Missing

   SIM - Sara Is Missing- screenshot

Sara is Missing (SIM) is a horror sim game for android (which can also be played in PC and Mac). I have to give the developers kudos for their originality: the entirety of the game is played through a phone interface, making you able to get a bit more into the story. Advisable to play it at night, of course, to be fully into it. Sadly it happened to be daytime when I played it, so it wasn’t –quite- as horrific and immersive.

The premise of the story is simple: You’ve found Sara’s phone, and the AI in it requests you help find and return the phone to her. To achieve this you must go through her phone – photos, emails, texts, videos, etc – and make various choices along the way, as well as interact with people she knows (and those she doesn’t, too).

The game’s graphical interface is pretty good: the graphics are well designed and truly make you feel like you’re in a phone OS, the use of your own phone back button makes it easier for you to feel like you’re really on her phone and not yours, the videos and images and sounds are pretty spot on and make it seem like a phone from a real person as well. What I’m not so happy about is the AI, though I suppose you need someone guiding you through.

At set times through the game you will be allowed to interact with people. Sometimes ‘real’ people, sometimes just the AI, and you can choose from 2-4 choices throughout. Unfortunately, as with most choice type games, I found the choices way too limiting. Sometimes your choices would just be three different ways to ask what was going on, instead of saying something different, and that’s not really much of a choice unless you’re also adding a personality engine to your game.

These limited options were just there to guide you in the one single direction, and the only real divergence was whether you accepted something or not (and sometimes not accepting wasn’t a choice if you expected to continue with the game), and the fates of a few and ending you got from a few poor choices.

There was another part I didn’t much enjoy, I don’t want to spoil much, but you are asked to make a choice between two people (it’s a fairly typical horror after all), however, because at first it phrases it one way, and then rather than offer you the actual option it goes on babbling and phrases it another way, if you fail to read through the inane babbling after when you just want to make the darn choice already, you might end up making the wrong choice. As I did. Which just pissed me off.

SIM is original and immersive in the technical aspects, but the story was rather lame. I could not really find the curiosity or desire to help find Sara with the limited content (or just because some AI asked me to, instead of maybe say… her mother texting me, or friend, or someone actually invested in her well-being), and I certainly didn’t care to pick for many of the choices that came after since I hardly got to interact with any of the people she knew, so I had no attachment to their well-being. Which in turn made the whole game a bit pointless since you’re probably supposed to want to find and help people…

The inability to interact with whomever I wanted whenever I wanted was kind of annoying too, having to wait for prompts to interact with others was boring, and this is why I end up giving this one such a low rating despite its originality.

2.5/5

Merendam: Escape from Seram Isle Review

 Merendam horror adventure room- screenshot

Developer Erocona brings us Merendam: Escape from Seram Isle, a small horror game that from the looks vaguely reminded me of Fatal Frame, which is one of my favorite games ever. So of course I had to give it a try. This game is available for android (which is the version I’m reviewing) and PC (the PC version is free). It’s also been on steam Greenlight since forever, so if you happen to like it, help the developer out and give it a vote.

You take the role of a young girl who appears to be asleep as she is being driven… somewhere by a not creepy at all old man who is saying some not totally creepy stuff along the way. Thankfully for you, some evil spirit attacks your car and you end up stranded in the middle of some old abandoned place, because it wouldn’t be a horror game otherwise. Well, if you can call abandoned a place fully inhabited by evil spirits that will attack you at random times. I still think she dodged a bullet there.

The game has 3 modes: hard, normal and no ghosts. Obviously, the latter has no ghosts popping up and lets you focus on the wonderful puzzles. Let’s talk about them for a bit, because they’re a big part of the gameplay.

Like all horror games you’re to find your way out of that place and back to civilization intact, and you do so by completing (i)logical puzzles with plenty of backtracking, because backtracking is fun! All the puzzles seem to be randomized, which means that while you might have found out how to do things or where codes and keys are, you won’t use the same code twice in different playthroughs. The puzzles were rather illogical to me (a bit of a hit and miss in logic, really, and you’re never explained why you need something or the other, even if you know it’s for the end goal), and there was no clear way of knowing when you would need an item for a puzzle and when you could safely drop it. Why is this an issue? Well…

You can only hold 2 items at any given time. No more than that. You want a third item? You have to drop it and pick the other item up (which requires a few more steps), because there is no swapping them either. Which means that if you carry with you the wrong items you are in for a world of backtracking (you probably are anyway). Thankfully there are only two main parts to the map each with their respective sub-sections, but you’ll know them quite well by the end of the game.

 Merendam horror adventure room- screenshot

Other than those weird puzzles, the game isn’t too hard. The ghosts will truly pop up anywhere and at any time, but they are easy-peasy to defeat in normal mode. You have two ways to fight them in mobile: two buttons will appear on the screen and you will have to smash them not to be cursed, or, some blue and red arrows will appear on the screen and you will have to swipe the finger of the correct side of the screen in the direction of the arrow (blue is for the left hand, red for the right). This latter one is a bit trickier until you get a hold on what you are supposed to do, but then it’s not too difficult. There seems to be no penalty for making the wrong move anyway (at least in normal mode) and you have plenty of time to correct your mistake if you don’t panic.

The ghosts jump up at you for cheap thrills and jump scares, and after the first few you just get used to them and don’t even jump anymore. I don’t much like when horror games go by jump scares alone, but this one gets a pass because the entirety of the game is pretty eerie on its own without the ghosts anyway. The closer you get to the end the more often ghosts seem to appear, but that might have just been me.

There are two savepoints located at each main section of the maps, they’re useful, but the menu they pop up is a bit full.

Story-wise there’s unfortunately nothing to say. The girl has to get out of there, there’s nothing new to it. Nothing else seems to happen, stuff isn’t explained. The ending was… a little puzzling.

It’s a short game, it clocks in at under an hour if you know what to do, but might take longer if you have to do a lot of backtracking.

So, let’s get a bit more technical here.

The interface isn’t exactly minimalist, there are plenty of buttons and things going on and changing colors and symbols at the same time. It’s a bit bothersome, but at the same time I liked it, even if it was a bit too bothersome to have it displayed all the time. For performing most actions you have to hold your touch, and although I found this a tad bothersome at first, I grew to really like it because in most actions it makes a slow, creepy camera pan as you do (although it was pointless to have this when picking things up). When this lines up with a ghost jumping out at you for a scare, you’re in for a bit of a heart-pounding fright.

Although the graphics are 3D, it really is a side-scroller game, barely 2.5D. The character designs are far too anime-cutesy, which is not in itself bad; it doesn’t lend itself much to horror, but it fit strangely well in a cutes-y horror kind of way. The animations were very nice, not the smoothest I’ve seen, but pretty darn good compared to the average “cheap”, and the settings and atmosphere, with their darkness and perpetual rain, were gloomy and scary enough that it did put you on the edge of your seat for most of it.

The sound effects were on point, but the music nonexistent, which I barely noticed at all anyway, mostly because I usually mute it anyway in most games.

The English translation is not the best, but it’s quite passable compared to others I’ve reviewed lately.

I honestly think this game is full of potential and a fun little play, but it’s short and has a few shortcomings in terms of story and puzzles, which bumps down the rating quite a bit for me. Still worth a try, though!

3.5/5

Okami

 

Welcome to PS2 Review Week! Each day of this week I’ll be reviewing an old PS2 game I love and still play, focusing on the slightly lesser known or lesser played games and franchises (so no, even though I loved Final Fantasy, you won’t find reviews of it here).

Last and not least, for day 7, and the final day, I bring you Okami. If you haven’t yet played this one, boy are you missing out!

“Developed by the amazing Clover Studio and based on Japanese myths and folklore, you take on the role of a wolf, but not any old one! You take on the role of Amaterasu, a Shinto goddess of the sun, who must save the land from darkness”

One of the most distinctive things about Okami straight away (besides you being a wolf, that is), is the art style used throughout it. Even when it maintains 3D elements, the cel-shaded, cartoony like style is heavily reminiscent of the art style known as sumi-e, done with soft brushes and inks. Colorful and interesting, the visual style of Okami is what first draws you to it. The story, gameplay, and music is what makes you stay.

“Set in an old, feudal-ish style of Japan, Okami tells the story of how Amaterasu is called forth by a spirit protecting a village in order to help save it, after a warrior unseals (and fails to defeat again) a great evil”

The more you progress on the story goal, the more you will be able to explore of the world and, along the way Amaterasu will gain the help of a (rather annoying but thankfully easily ignored) companion, as well as meet other characters that will either help or hinder her along the way.

The game is RPG-styled; besides the main storyline quests you have side quests, mini-games, and some extra fun activities, such as feeding some wild animals or making trees bloom once again, slowly restoring the land to its former beauty. Each of these actions reward you with points later used to help raise stats, such as your health.

“The variety of attacks range from simple barks to making complex patterns on the screen”

Besides the basic attacks, Okami has a couple fun ones too: like peeing on an enemy or barking at them to attract or annoy them… but her main forte is her weapon, the Celestial Brush, through which, by drawing a certain symbol, you call forth certain powers: such as making trees bloom, attacking enemies with powerful attacks, etc. Of course, using this uses up ink, which requires you to keep a stock of this handy.

“Battle isn’t free-range; when you approach an enemy you’re encased in a small area within which to fight them. Certain enemies are weak to certain attacks. The rest of it is pretty common to other games”

Not everyone on the land know that this lovely little wolf is actually Amaterasu, and thus I found it a little weird that most villagers would randomly decide to put quests on what’s basically a dog… but I suppose that can be forgiven, as some of the quests are quite funny and interesting, as are the character’s reactions to the wolf’s actions.

Matching the feudal Japan style, the music used throughout the game, sometimes upbeat, sometimes not, is a perfect companion to the game. It’s so good in fact, I’ve even found myself wanting to get the sountrack for it.

“Even if you aren’t a big fan of RPGs, Okami is definitely a must-try game for its quirkiness, story and looks alone!”

And with Okami we finish up the week! Of course, I’ve left plenty of my favorite games out: Persona, .Hack, Final Fantasy, etc… if you’re interested in reading more PS2 reviews, then leave a comment below~

If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out my other reviews for the PS2 Review Week series! Read you next time!

 

Way of the Samurai 2

 

Welcome to PS2 Review Week! Each day of this week I’ll be reviewing an old PS2 game I love and still play, focusing on the slightly lesser known or lesser played games and franchises (so no, even though I loved Final Fantasy, you won’t find reviews of it here).

For day 4 We have Way of the Samurai 2!

Following the Feudal Japan theme, Way of the Samurai 2 puts you in the role of a starving rounin who, having arrived to Amahara, must now make its way in the world and survive.

Way of the Samurai is mainly, but not entirely, a fighting game, and as such fighting is what you will be doing a lot of. However, you will also have choices to do other things, as well as choices on who you fight for, and against, by siding, or not, with the different factions.

Although I would have wished that this game was infinite play, it sadly has a time system. Each day is divided into five sections: Early morning, morning, afternoon, evening and night. Most of the things you can do, including traveling within locations, might take up time to achieve, so you have to manage your time carefully, for you only have a certain amount of days to work within. Because there’s a time limit, you will be left wanting to replay the game to accomplish things you’ve run out of time to do, or even to turn from a good samurai to a bad one…building your reputation and siding with different people and factions in each run.

Because of all the choices you can take, there are also several endings for each type of samurai you can become. You can become a lone samurai, a sort of police, a gang member, a people’s samurai, etc. It all depends on the quests, missions, and sides you take, and who you side or make friends with.

The controls aren’t the best, but they’re decent enough that you won’t find yourself troubled by them. There is some character customization at the start, letting you choose between male and female, a name, what starting weapons you’ll have, and a bit of variation in heads and clothes. While it’s not very vast, it’s nice to have various types of weapons and looks to choose from. If this is not enough, along your journey, aside from the typical consumables and story/quest-related papers, you will also find decorative items you can wear, sometimes quite funny, sometimes… really weird.

While Way of the Samurai 2 might not have a ground breaking story behind it, the sheer amount of choices you can make in your replays and the likeable characters, as well as the lovely typical music, make it a must-play for me.

 

4.5/5

Fatal Frame 2: Crimson Butterfly

Welcome to PS2 Review Week! Each day of this week I’ll be reviewing an old PS2 game I love and still play, focusing on the slightly lesser known or lesser played games and franchises (so no, even though I loved Final Fantasy, you won’t find reviews of it here).

For day 2 we have Fatal Frame 2 (also known as Zero ~Crimson Butterfly~)!

Following into the steps of Fatal Frame, this second installment of the series also focuses on a story of siblings. This time it’s twin sisters Mio and Mayu. Mayu sees and follows a crimson butterfly deep into the forest. Worried, Mio follows after, but loses sight of her sister when they reach a lost, abandoned village. As you can imagine, the village is cursed and in it dwell plenty a ghost, again created by dark rituals once performed there, this time (surprise, surprise) involving twins.

While searching for her sister, Mio comes across the Camera Obscura, which will be her only weapon against the ghastly apparitions…

During the game you mostly follow Mio, though there are a few scenes where you play Mayu.

Much improved upon the first installment, not only are the controls and the twin’s pace much better, but the saving points seem closer in between as well. There are some puzzles, and the camera has been improved upon plenty, making it easier to handle and better and faster to work with.

Like before, the game has a few difficulty settings and with each comes a different ending, adding variety and making you want to replay it with a harder challenge. And of course, there are costume unlockables, camera upgrades, and story bits to find throughout it all, as well as ghost pictures to collect in a beautiful album… that sadly just about takes up the entirety of your card’s memory… so you better have a large one prepared for it!

Much like the first installment of the series, all the sounds, voices, effects and music are perfect to get you into the mood of the frightening, eerie village. While Fatal Frame 1’s events happened only within the one mansion, here you have an entire village to explore and get lost in, which can sometimes prove fatal… The ghosts are once again frightening, even a bit more so than the ones on the previous game, and the typical Japanese village’s run-down, eerie looks and story are done superbly, transporting you into this world once more with a little too much ease.

I highly recommend everyone plays Fatal Frame at least once in their lives, and out of the first 3 installments, Crimson Butterfly is definitely my favorite.

 

5/5

Fatal Frame (Project Zero)

Welcome to PS2 Review Week! Each day of this week I’ll be reviewing an old PS2 game I love and still play, focusing on the slightly lesser known or lesser played games and franchises (so no, even though I loved Final Fantasy, you won’t find reviews of it here).

For day one we have Fatal Frame!

“Fatal Frame, also known as Project Zero in some countries, is one of the best, most innovative (for the time) survival horror games”

Turned into a Franchise so far 5 titles long, this series by Tecmo was one of the first I played on the PS2, and one of my favorites too.

“Set in 1980’s Japan, the story follows Miku and Mafuyu Hinakasi and she journeys into one of the best horror stories to grace the PS2”

Armed with a mysterious camera that has the power to expose the supernatural, Mafuyu goes investigate a haunted mansion where many a grossly murder has been committed with the hopes of finding out more about it – and perhaps even finding a renown lost folklorist in the process – shortly after disappearing himself. This prompts his sister Miku to go in search of him. Within the mansion Miku finds his brother’s camera and, armed with it, sets off in search of him, in the process unveiling dark rituals and fighting the spirits it has created.

“The original gameplay mode was centered around the camera itself, the only weapon you have against the ghostly encounters (your only other option being running from them)”

Taking pictures of ghosts with this camera saps their energy and eventually kills them. The more accurate the picture, and the more upgrades you make to the film and camera, the faster you dispose of them. Not all ghostly encounters are a fight, many are simply part of the story, showing you more of what went on, and, if you manage to snap a picture of them in time, become collectibles.

“Like any good horror from Japan, it focuses a little bit less into jump scares (though there are some, of course) and more into the eerie atmosphere and story – a very dark story that is very, very interesting, and apparently based in a couple urban legends from Japan”

There are ancient rituals and powers at play here, trapping the spirits in the realm and lurking at every corner as you explore deeper and deeper into the mansion.

“Everything in Fatal Frame, from the music, the sounds, to the dark visual of the rundown, ancient Japanese mansion, help immerse you into the world of Fatal Frame”

The ghosts are frightening without resorting to making them look like monsters, and it certainly manages to keep you on the edge of your seat wondering if the next apparition you’ll come across will be just an echo, or one that might hurt you. This is definitely a game best played in the dark and with headphones on to get the complete feel of it.

Of course, the game has plenty of unlockables: mostly costumes, a few camera functions, and an extra “battle” mode in which you forego the story to instead simply fight certain ghosts in order to earn points to unlock things. In addition, if you end the game in the “Nightmare” difficulty, you get a different ending.

Seeing as it was the first in the franchise, the controls leave a little to be desired though, such as Miku’s slow, slow pace. The only thing I really disliked however was the lack of a free save, having to resort to save points instead, sometimes a bit far in between, or making you backtrack since you had no idea when the next one would be.

All in all, though, the game is definitely worth a play if you’re into survival horror. It’s different, it’s scary, it’s creepy, and it’s wonderful!

 

Domestic Dog

Sometimes I wonder what developers think about when making a game that makes them go… “yeah, I’ll totally sell this game!” even if the price is under $4.

Domestic Dog by Surreal Distractions is one such game. A dog-sim of sorts wanting to masquerade for something with actual substance (as I suppose most “something simulator” games are… ), you will be greeted with absolutely no tutorial and no idea of what the hell you’re supposed to do. Survive, I suppose.

“It’s a (boring) doggy dog life”

Basically you manage a dog that grows out of some sort of egg – the dog you get is random, and when you die, another one appears (not the same one, so you lose any “progress” made). You have food, water, dog money?, sleep – a few other stats to keep track of, basic stuff. You need to keep those up or you may pass out and/or die in the process. Tip of the day, in case it’s not obvious: You also have to mind cars, since they may run you over.

“What to do in the game? Well, be a dog, maybe?”

Eat, drink, poop, pee (sorry, I mean, ‘fire your weapon’) , bark at other dogs, eat said poo… you have a minuscule map, a shop with pointless things, and pretty much that’s it for the game.

“Boring doesn’t even begin to describe it”

There is really nothing to salvage for me in this game: the graphics are terrible, pixelation has never looked so bad, and outdated (sorry, I mean, ‘retro’) bright colors are sure to blind you. Because we all know if we refer to a game as “retro” it automatically must forgive all design flaws. Yup!

The UI feels cluttered and messy, everything seems to be moving, or too bright, or otherwise vying for your attention. The dogs themselves look rather ugly, even for alien dogs.

“The crowning beauty is the  horrifying 8-bit styled music and sounds effects (which are really loud, by the way!) are hideous”

There is no semblance of a menu that I could see, thus I could find no way to lower the volume, and quite frankly I didn’t even bother to, I just muted everything while I played.

So, would I recommend this? Hell no. Steer clear. Steer wide and clear.

 

Curse of the Assassin

A long while ago I reviewed Tin Man Games’ An Assassin in Orlandes, and I definitely loved it. Now the same developers bring us back to the city of Orlandes with Curse of the Assassin, another choose your own adventure game.

If you haven’t read my previous reviews of these games, then let me give you a small recap on how they’re played: These are text-based adventures, and the particular developer goes all the way out presenting it out to you as an actual, albeit digital, book. The chapters are short because each time you reach an important junction you’re offered a choice of moving or acting a certain way; as such, every time you make a choice you change your fate. The books have various endings, and Curse of the Assassin is no different. Combat, to spice it up, is mixed up a bit with tabletop RPG style by adding a dice – a roll higher or lower than a certain predetermined score will decide your luck.

Like in the previous games, before you dive into the game you’re given a choice of difficulty ranging from classic (with few bookmarks and stats granted by dice rolling), through Adventurer (with two base stats and unlimited bookmarks to retrace your steps), to casual (which allows you to better enjoy the story by providing you unlimited bookmarks, the option to go back, heal yourself not to die, and a button to unlock all choices).

This time around the story continues on from An Assassin in Orlandes. After defeating the last evil, you find yourself going through a patch of good luck, getting higher in your social status… until the strange death of an old friend sends you back adventuring. Though it has various references to the first game, I don’t think it’s truly necessary for you to have played it in order to enjoy the story.

So. What all is different from the first one? For one, the art has improved plenty. I was a lot more into the offered art this time around, both for mythical beasts and humans alike. The writing is still pretty good, but I didn’t enjoy it as much this time around – in some parts where I would have liked to make choices I was not provided those, and some of the ‘chapters’ (or sections, if you will) were a lot longer than in the previous installment… as in turn resulted the entire story. I did rather enjoy that they tempted adding in some romance and giving you a companion through your adventuring, which made it feel a bit less lonely. It also felt like there was plenty more to explore as well as plenty more choices to make, and I do love choices. But there were also a lot more fights too, and those I always find a bit annoying, if only because they can drag a bit with all the dice rolling.

The sounds and music are pretty good, as expected it can get a bit annoying as you play, so in the end I muted it, as I usually do in most games.

Would I recommend this one? Definitely, with a top rating despite the few shortcomings. I would also recommend that, despite not needing it, you play An Assassin in Orlandes first, if only to get your bearings (plus, it’s shorter and you’ll find out if you like these types of games or not with it).

 

5/5