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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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

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

Ladra

Developer Is Future Bright has brought to us quite a unique RPG Maker game. See, my qualm with RPG Maker games is that all games end up being practically the same: same sprites, same tiles, similar boring old story that attempts and fails at a new twist… but Ladra… Ladra is truly different for a game with this engine.

In Ladra you play as Estella, a thief who finds out about an upcoming war and decides to put her skills to better use. The story itself isn’t anything grand, and the game is rather short, of course, the RPG Maker engine makes it so that all the annoyances present in this type of game are there (such as the inability to press F12 for screenshot lest you close the game, or the rather basic tiles), but what games the game unique, and absolutely worth the buy (even at full price), is the gameplay style, for Ladra is not a typical fight-based RPG, but rather a stealth/puzzle RPG that, yes, seems vaguely inspired by the Thief franchise.

In this game, rather than attack enemies, you have to use 100% stealth. Hide in the shadows or various other places, crouch around and avoid patrolling enemies while you seek each level’s many treasures (a main one and several bonus ones that are optional). What I particularly liked (and it also drove me insane because I’ve been spoiled with ‘simpler’, clunkier, stupider games) was that even when you’re hiding in the shadows you can’t just walk right in front of the guards, because they will still see you. Isn’t that beautifully logical? I loved that!

Aside from still treasures, you can also steal from certain types of guards that patrol around, which adds a certain level of thrill to it.

Another good side to this game is that when you get caught you get tele’d to the last entrance used in that same map/floor (so, no restarting everything) – something that is extremely useful as you will get caught a lot of times while you try to figure out just how far the enemies can spot you and how to best avoid it.

On the downside, the linearity of the game and lack of options for alternate routes to take (there is only one path solution to each “puzzle”) was a bit disappointing, although I suppose it did add a level of difficulty to the game as a whole.

Overall, it’s a great little RPG Maker game with a unique gameplay style, and I definitely recommend it!

4/5

Monument Builders: Alcatraz

A casual game by Little World Studio, Monument Builders Alcatraz takes you through various levels in which you have to build things and clear roads on your path to the main goal, which is building Alcatraz.

The game seems simple, but like typical games of the style it’s timed, and not doing things within the allotted time can mean either failure or a lesser score. And we all know you want to get the 3/3 star rating, don’t you? Don’t deny it now.

Monument Builders takes you through various levels in which you have to dispatch your construction workers: bring down trees to gather resources, purchase materials and build stores: shops to keep the people and constructors fed and earn money with shops, material factories and more. Your construction workers will also need to be dispatched to clear out and repair roads, kick out thugs blocking them or… feed pelicans that will refuse to move otherwise.

Manage your resources and time wisely, and you will be able to get that 3 star rating and move on to the next map. Like other casual games of the sort, this one has several power ups, most of which are purchasable with in-game gems that, for once, you don’t need to pay for with real cash (you already paid for the game after all if you bought it on steam), but you do need to earn them by getting 3 stars in previous levels.

As a little added extra, in between the levels you will find a bit of tidbits about Alcatraz, which is rather interesting.

The story is nothing grand, as it never is with these casual games, but it is strangely addictive and I had a lot of fun playing it. Plus, it’s quick to pick up, play a single level and then move on with your day, something I always love. It’s fun to kill a bit of time with.

On the other hand, you might find that after playing a few levels, you’re merely repeating the same thing over and over, and might get just a little bored if you didn’t find the gaming style particularly exciting.

The game is not particularly striking in art or music, but it’s not unpleasant either, and I rather liked the looks of the maps.

Recommended if you’re into casual time-wasters, particularly if it’s on sale!

4/5

The Language Game

I’m a huge fan of gamification. Playing a game AND learning a new language? Where can I sign up? Unfortunately, Tap To Win’s “The Language Game” is more of a never ending quiz than a game, and with it, I’m starting to lose hope any kind of “language learning game” will actually help with language learning (and not just reinforcement) and be a game, at all.

The Language Game offers you two styles of play.

One is the study mode, in which you can review various words and phrases separated by categories. Within this mode you have two sub-modes: A pure study mode where you’re not quizzed, and one where you’re also quizzed by being told the word and given ~4 options to choose from. Now, I have an issue to pick with multiple choice in that I’ve always found it easy to “guess” the answer even when I knew nothing of the language itself, so I don’t really find that a very good learning mode for myself. If it works for you though, then great! You might yet get some vocabulary and basic phrases with this one out of simple repetition.

Then you have the versus mode, where you share screen with a friend (who needs to be physically by you, no online play here!) and compete against them on language knowledge. You’re offered a board-like setting with each tile being a different category, you can select which you’d like and each correct answer makes you win the tile. If you “sandwich” an enemy tile, you turn it to your own. The one with most the board conquered (thus more correct answers, and so the most knowledgeable) wins the game. There are more versions of the quiz here: not only the answer cards but pictures and forming words with letters they offer you, so it’s not as bland as the review mode.

The good thing is, on the versus mode each person gets to choose their own language. So if you’re learning Spanish, and your friend is learning Italian, you can each compete against each other in your chosen language learning. You can even compete against yourself in which language you know best! Though the whole “strategy” part of the game will be lost, I fear.

This game offers a few language pair combinations (English, French, Italian, Spanish and German) that are interchangeable. I played around with English (I’m ESL), Spanish (Native) and French (Beginner) to give it a fair chance. Most the translations were alright, though in my dominant pair every now and again it had a slightly odd phrasing or slightly odd translation, which made me wonder if I was being taught right on the French…

Otherwise, the music is nice if you don’t have to listen to it in a loop for the entirety of the gameplay. Unfortunately this lacks any real menu, so the only option is to turn it completely off or completely on. Aesthetically, the game isn’t too bad: the colors are soft and pleasant, the cards are big so if you have sight problems they’ll be rather easily visible, and the way the vocabulary is categorized seems pretty decent.

Do I see this as a good language learning game? Not really.

It’s good vocabulary building for complete beginners, and it’s a good reinforcement when you’re learning a language and still in the early beginner stage, but it’s not ground breaking nor will it aid you any more than sites like Duolingo would. It’s definitely not there to teach you an entire language, and I can’t say I recommend it for full price when there’s free options (like the aforementioned website or Memrise) that do the exact same, better.

Better spend the money on real classes!

3/5

Space Incident

Space Incident is a very, very short adventure/management game with various possible endings. Free on Kongregate, but paid on Steam, this little game by Vogd3 has a lot of potential packed in a rather disappointing package.

I read the introduction and it sounded promising: You play as the AI of a ship stranded from Mars to Earth and have to help the crew figure why you’ve suddenly stopped and get back on track to return to earth with hopefully no casualties. I was expecting something pretty big, so I was a bit disappointing in finding that playing through it once takes less than an hour in whole. In fact, once you’ve played through it once and read the options, any consecutive plays to unlock the various endings end up being pointless and taking less than ten minutes. I wasn’t motivated enough to run it more than twice.

Now, the art of the game has that typical retro pixel style. I have a love-hate relationship with pixel games: I know how hard it is to do pixel art and how much time it takes, yet at the same time it seems people do it less out of a “retro” look and more out of a simple “too lazy or poor to hire a proper designer” reasoning. The pixel art works quite well for this little game, though, and I’m really fond of the detailed ship backgrounds, but I’m not into the way the characters look, at all.

The music is pretty basic, sort of background sound effects, and though it’s not bad, after a while I just muted it because it annoyed me. The menu, btw, is pretty simple, having only a few options, and at the end you’re shown all possible endings, which include various combinations of who survives and what happens to the ship.

Interaction with the characters isn’t of your own choice. The characters, each which have various levels of needs such as hunger, psychological state, tiredness, etc, must want to talk to you in order for you to interact, and are otherwise autonomous, making their needs almost pointless unless you send someone who is starving into space and they have no time to come back. The only need that truly comes into play is when they start panicking, because if you don’t deal with it the right way they go into a temporary full-panic suicidal mode… but it’s not like you can actually do anything about that after you’ve botched calming them down, so…

The options offered in dialogue are poor and pretty obvious on which way they will lead you with the person- if it’ll help or not. The characters themselves all kind of blend in with eachother, at least two out of the three do (and the third is just annoying), and the story in a whole is, although not entirely bad, also not at all imaginative. In fact, it kind of leaves the only interesting thing (the reason behind why they were stuck in the first place) without a proper answer.

And finally, the english text… ah… it seems alright for parts of it, but suddenly the punctuation will be off by a bit, or the translation in whole, grammar and spelling alike, were outright bad.

At the price tag of a whooping $7 (on sale at the time of writing this), there is no way I could recommend it as worth it. But as a free casual game it’s actually not all that bad.

2.5/5

Shadowrun Returns

Many might know Shadowrun, and more yet might now Shadowrun Returns: a tactical turn-based RPG set in a cyberpunk/fantasy world that fuses the best of tech and magic.

I can’t really speak for how Shadowrun Returns maintains the rules and setting, for I’ve admittedly never played the original game. I have, however, recently spent many an hour playing through the entirety of the base campaign, and then some extra campaigns, and I can honestly say: I love this game.

“Let’s start first with the basics, and the most important aspect for me: The game runs wonderfully on my old toaster of a computer. Requirements are fairly low, and the game ran smoothly throughout the entire gameplay”

Entering the game, you are presented with character choices. There are a few different type of characters you can choose, some that are more proficient in the physical aspect of fights, others in magic,  and others in technological aspects. Although the game doesn’t offer much in terms of customizing the looks of the characters, it still has various choices for hair styles and colors, skin, and character avatar, so you’re certain to find something you’re at the very list ok with.

Whatever type of character you choose, however, the fact remains that you are now a shadow runner; a man often hired to run jobs of various types and difficulties (and, perhaps, legality).

The story begins when you’re called by an old shadow runner friend who has died. That’s right, the man left a dead switch that would call you and request you to find his murderer, for a price, of course.

“I’m usually rather picky when it comes to stories in games that offer a lot to read in them, particularly if they’re based around characters, and this Shadowrun campaign does offer lots and lots of it”

Aside from the strategy/tactical aspect of the gameplay, there is a lot of background story to be told, a lot of extra information and logs that, although you don’t necessarily need to read, they bring a lot more to the world when you do, and a whole lot still of characters – admittedly some more complex than others.

And let me tell you, this game ticked all my boxes. It takes a very good story to make you like a character that starts off dead, and yet I totally loved him. I felt compelled to find his murderer and bring him justice just because he seemed like he’d been as good a friend as you could get in that world.

“The story was solid, although I do wish there had been more than the base campaign to play by the original makers; the characters were all likable (or appropriately non-likable for the bad guys 😉 ), and the world – the world is simply fantastic”

The mix of technology and magic isn’t even weird, it’s melded perfectly to create a perfectly reasonable world with strict rules of what can and can’t be done, and it’s somehow not strange at all to find yourself going down the street and suddenly meeting an elf, or a troll.

The art style is also very well done, though it borders on comic book style; the settings are beautifully put together, the mix of drab and brightness make for an interesting city, even if they do get a bit basic and feel slightly repetitive as you progress in the story.

The characters are nice, and the offered list of powers and perks for the various types, although they might not span into big skill trees, are sufficient to keep you entertained. The music, sounds and FX are not only fitting, but also very well done.

“As far as the gameplay aspect goes, it’s a very typical tactical RPG: you take turns to move from cover to cover and complete your mission”

I rather liked the implementation of deckers, a type of hackers, but it really felt like they didn’t have that much use in the game: when they were required I couldn’t usually bring more than one to the virtual world, or the trip to it was just too short to make it overly worthwhile.

The virtual maps though had an interesting feature that added to their complexity: an alarm would sound and rain hell on you if you were careless there.

“When it comes to character interactions is another part where the game shines, for you have various choices that can turn you into a good, neutral, or bad person according to the choices you make, and what you tell and how you treat people around you”

Like I said, the basic campaign is beautifully put together and a joy to play through, but it does feel too short and it leaves you wanting for more.

The upside? The game allows you to make your own campaigns: with a large community on the workshop, there are plenty of extra campaigns available for download and playing if you’re not into making them. Some are better than others, so it might take some trial and error before you find one you like.

Overall, I was very pleased with my play-through of Shadowrun Returns, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys some good storytelling.

Great game with wonderful writing and excellent support from the community. If you enjoy this type of game with this specific type of setting, then you definitely wont be disappointed!

Cosplay Maker

Developed by Locked Door Puzzle, who seem to like putting the sound that goes with their logo really, really loud; Cosplay Maker is a time management/dating sim game.

As the rather unoriginal but quite aptly descriptive name says, the game revolves around making cosplay and all the drama and things going on around it. The game starts with you at a convention (and you can’t customize a single thing about your character), getting all ready to start on the cosplaying world. You make two friends there, a cosplayer and a photographer, who you will (if you so choose to) keep in contact with during your gameplay and meet in future conventions, and they will in turn give you ‘advice’ and introduce you to other characters as you progress through the game.

You are able to anyone of your friends provided your friendship is high enough, a stat you will have to maintain by taking some “friend time”

This is the dating aspect, which if I’m to be honest I didn’t care to try. Why? Because the characters all fell rather flat and uninteresting, and I just couldn’t muster enough interest in the storyline.

The time management aspect of the game comes in the cosplay making part. Every so many months you will have conventions to enter, and in them cosplay competitions you can enter into in turn

In order to make your costumes you need to get ideas (unlocked by buying things, relaxing with some TV, socializing, etc), and materials (which you need to buy).  In order to get money for the materials, you have to work – which causes your “energy” to go down. Energy can only be recovered by “relaxing”. So far so good: it takes typical stats to do things, so you have to manage your time carefully.

The problem starts in the scheduling and continues to the very end

Your schedule is bunched so that Saturday and Sunday are bunched together as one big “Weekend” chunk, and your days are all bunched together in “day” and “night” of the week. You can not micro-manage day by day, which is absolute bullcrap for many reasons, the most blatantly obvious of them all being that when you get your costume to 100% completion in the middle of the week, you are still stuck “working” on it the rest of the week just because you can’t pause and modify the schedule.

Likewise, the rate at which you gain and lose stats, although manageable, is annoying and would benefit greatly from some micro-management choices

Once you’ve scheduled your day, you hit play and the week passes with a few repetitive, boring animations, but quite upbeat music. Despite the lack of interesting animations (you never actually see yourself working on the costume, you only see yourself wriggling your arms and head), the first couple of times you see this it’s alright.

After the first couple of times though, the slow speed at which the week progresses before your eyes is tedious at best, and though there are events that break up the week pop up (requiring an ‘ok’ to close, so that you can’t even go do something else meanwhile), most of the time they are a boring and inconsequential interruption. Such is the case of one in particular: “Another day of steady progress in your costume.” Geez, how… ground breaking. Can we speed this up, please?

What is more infuriating is that there is no way to skip or speed through the week. Okay, there IS a way, but you have to purchase it… can you see how ridiculous that sounds? How can something that should be in the game need to be purchased?

At this point I should mention that while there is a tutorial to the game, it’s a rather lame one, and mine got stuck for quite a bit, too.

Another annoying thing is that the cosplay costumes seem to take forever to do. I mean, seriously, I’m no seamstress and I’m pretty sure I could do something faster than this girl…

As for the rest: there is some progress and goals, the goals seem a bit far in between (from “make an outfit” straight to “win competition”) and the progress seems pretty pointless

It also seems you’re unable to sell either your old costumes nor your excess material (if you bought something by mistake, for instance). The variety style on cosplay outfits to choose from though seems okay.

That pretty much sums up all of the gameplay aspect. Moving on to the small technical bits, the game felt unnecessarily sluggish for something so 2D and plain. Sometimes switching from regular week to event seemed to take a bit too long, and the loading of my file or new costume ideas also took unnecessarily long. The loading screen also seemed to have no indication of just how long it’d take to finish loading, which was rather annoying.

The menu is plain, the music in the menu pretty bad, but surprisingly I found myself quite liking the rest of the songs on the game – all upbeat and fun. They didn’t seem to match the game a whole lot for me, but they were nice, up to the point where the same 3-4 ones started to play over and over and over on the week play through. Good thing I liked them…

The intro video was interesting and nice, but absolutely unneeded. The whole bright color scheme of the game with the fancy old style music seemed reminiscent of Persona, only it didn’t quite make the cut. The graphics aren’t the worst I’ve seen, but they are definitely not what I’d consider “nice” or of sufficient quality to match the price tag on this game.

All in all, Cosplay Maker seems like a very good game idea executed rather poorly. You do get some fun out of playing it and it can get a bit addictive to do just one more upgrade on a cosplay or one more outfit or one more week… but it’s not really worth the price to me in its current state. Basically the only thing you’re truly paying for here is the music.