Capsule

Capsule is a very short (1 to 2 hours at most) immersive game that comes with quite a few warnings, and I can understand why. The developers warn anyone with claustrophobia, misophonia, or other similar phobias not to play the game. And why? Because this is truly one game best played in the dark.

If I had to put it in a category, I’d say Capsule has a slight feel of a minimalist puzzle game; but the truth is, there’s really no puzzle to it – at least not gameplay wise.

The story, however, does make you wonder even though it is at its core an immersive survival game.

The story goes as follows: You wake up trapped in a capsule, only able to experience the outside world through the radar on it. You don’t know what’s happened, but you have an idea of where to go to start the journey into finding out…

Although you’re thrown into the game with barely an idea of what to do, for this particular case the lack of a proper tutorial beyond how to move is actually not hindering, because controls and story are so minimal you really can’t go quite wrong… even if it did take me a while at first to get my bearings.

You have oxygen and power to worry about, a radar burst, a bearing, and a distance to your target.

Each level you reach a destination, where you have more of the story develop in the form of messages which often give you a new direction in which to go. You have to be mindful of the hostile environment while making your way to the next destination, but watch out for your power and oxygen! You might fall short and die of asphyxiation!

The look of the game is ultimately minimalistic. You can only see the radar of your capsule, a pixelated screen through which you move with the arrows and send a sonar wave with the space bar.

The blueish color is very pleasant to look at, and the flicker of the screen manages to make it quite immersive, particularly if you do play with headphones and in the dark!

The sound effects, though simple as well, help further the atmosphere of it all, and the feeling of immersion. The breathing, the static, the beeping… Even when on my first round I played it with the lights on and during daytime, I could easily forget that I wasn’t actually in the Capsule.

I have to say that because of its immersive aspect, it adds a whole level of ‘horror’ to the game that you shouldn’t overlook. Dying the first time was truly terrifying.

However… and there is a small con: it’s that the game becomes a little bit boring once you get a hold of the whole bearings/distance and when to restock oxygen and power not to die. So basically, once you get the hang of it things get a bit easy. But the game is so very short that, honestly you won’t even mind.

I think this a very nice, atmospheric game – simple and minimalist, if you’re into psychological type of horror you will definitely enjoy the hour of play. If you like jump scares in your horror, steer clear. This is real horror right here.

Whispering Willows

 

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Game: Whispering Willows
Genre: Adventure, Indie
Developer: Night Light Interactive
Publisher: Night Light Interactive
Release Date: jul 9, 2014
Platform: PC / Played on Windows 7
Overall rating:  9/10
Graphics: 9/10
Controls: 8/10
Level/Puzzle Design:7/10
Sound: 8/10
Story: 8/10
Replay Value: 5/10
Community: N/A

 

Review

Whispering Willows is a Horror(ish)/Adventure puzzle game by Night Light Interactive. In it you play as Elena, who is looking for her father. Elena has powers that allow her to spirit-walk (or astral-project, as you may want to call it), which will help her solve puzzles, talk to ghosts, and help them move on. The game has some basis of Native American folklore, which might make it of particular interest to some.

Although the game is fairly simple and short, it has a lot going for it.
The story is interesting enough, though to get the full impact of it you really need to read all the notes you find, and not just skip them. The 2D graphics quite beautiful in their simplicity, yet still detailed enough in the backgrounds that you find yourself noticing all those little special things. The soundtrack and sounds are quite fitting the mood of the game throughout.

In Whispering Willows you’re searching for your missing father at the Willows Mansion, which is full of secrets and ghosts and passageways. You will spend most of your time moving around the maps trying to find items, secrets and such, sometimes on your body, sometime by spirit walking.
The puzzles aren’t too easy, but they’re also not incredibly hard, making them just about the right spot where you won’t necessarily feel compelled to quit or look up the answer, but will also not find it immediately for most of them. Some do require quite a bit of backtracking though, and when I played the game you could only walk and not run. I hear this has been fixed now, as the developer is very present on the forums.

It can be a bit easy to get lost as it has several locations, and at the time of playing it the game had no map system (I don’t think it’s been added, but I’m not sure) which had me backtracking and getting lost in a few parts.
The game might also seem a bit slow to some, though if you’re used to Adventure games, the pacing shouldn’t be a problem.

The replay value of this game is decent – you will probably want to play it again at some point, but likely not soon after finishing it.

All in all, I highly recommend this game to anyone looking for a short, more paranormal than horror story with a good story.

Brothers – A Tale of Two Sons

 

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Game: Brothers – A Tale of Two Sons
Genre: Action, Adventure, Indie
Developer: Starbreeze Studios AB
Publisher: 505 Games
Release Date: Sep 3, 2013
Platform: PC / Played on Windows 7
Overall rating:  5/10
Graphics: 10/10
Controls: 9/10 (simple)
Level/Puzzle Design: 6/10
Sound: 8/10
Story: 3.5/10 (started great, ended awfully)
Playability/Gameplay: 1/10
Community: N/A

 

Review

This is a beautiful, yet most infuriating game.

I read reviews where people complained about the controls, but to be honest I had zero troubles with them as they’re super simple (basically just one button and one stick for each, and hardly anything else). Both with a keyboard and with a controller I was able to use both brothers without issue (even if the keyboard wasn’t particularly comfortable)… that is, until the game bugged out.

This game is beautiful in that it has pretty graphics and (for the first half) a very lovely story. The puzzles are very, very simple, the only time I ever got stuck was because, again, the game bugged out. If you’ve played Ico (PS2) you might like this one. It reminds you a bit of it, but it’s a lot simpler and has a much crappier ending.

Besides the ending not being to my taste, the game is, as I said, filled with bugs that made it impossible for me to play properly. When it wasn’t crashing with a “P13” error and needing to be re-verified for the third time in the same day, it was a checkpoint bugging out that not even a chapter restart could solve (just to count a few I had: puzzle not working, character disappearing through ground and falling to death, character disappearing, cutscene not playing and thus having to restart chapter to move on, character not jumping though the keys/buttons were pressed and falling to death, character jumping across gap… and then jumping right back and refusing to move forward except to jump forward and jump back again…. all that in less than 3hrs gameplay.)

What could improve this game: Besides a completely different ending, this game would be highly improved if they fixed the bugs, and would be even more interesting if it had an option to play real co-op with someone else (that is not on the keyboard next to you) if you wanted to. I love controlling both brothers at once, but I think it’d be slightly more challenging if you had to cooperate with another person rather than yourself. 😛 There’s not enough co-op games where you actually have to plan and co-op with someone, which is why this would be nice.

To sum it up: I recommend it for the first part of the story, and because I love these kind of games. I recommend it only if it’s on a bundle or super cheap, otherwise don’t bother because the bugs are too annoying. And I’d recommend it even more if it weren’t because of the bugs (maybe you luck out and have none, or maybe you get the curse I did and have them all.)

If you want a really really nice story tho, go play Ico.  😉