Sable (2021, Modern Platforms)
I felt like a real loner playing this game. My friends hated the dialog in this game with a passion. It infuriated them. They couldn’t stand it. Some of them quit within the tutorial area. And yes a life-time masked society having an adult looking back at their teenage years describe facial expressions is bad.
Have You Seen These Graphics?
A game where you just fly on your bike and play a bad version of Breath of Wild and it looks like this?
It is a game without violence. There is no combat, or boss battles. You just look at the world, climb up structures, and solve little puzzles. Very early on you can choose to end the game.
The game’s greatest strength is it is a interactive Moebius comic. As I was playing I kept going “wow.” There are breath-taking environments to explore. You can find currency and maybe a pair of pants that is not that different from your current pair of pants, but the real reward is catching the last sliver of sunset against a canyon wall, emerging from a vertically crashed starship to find the starry sky. Barely missing a jump and falling hundreds of feet, safely, to the ground.
I found it compelling to just look at, and again, that it is without violence or threat. I also personally, love that your speeder controls like garbage.
5/5 Even behind her mask, I could tell she was smiling at me.
G-String (2022, Steam)
G-String is a Half-Life 2 Mod. It is at it’s base: Half-Life 2 Again. Except now it is a cyberpunk city. Every angle you look you see unique graphics and world building.
In a dozen spoken and visual languages it tells you a truth of the game and the real world. Women are used, abused, and thrown away. It overwhelms you with this fact. Advertisements for cosmetic surgery adorn the walls. Broken sex bots lash out one last time at a world that never considered their worth. The more languages you understand the more the message gets across.
At the same time this is the same world we live in. Everywhere the world is filled with human garbage, including space. Most of the game is navigating maze like sewers, tenant buildings, back roads. Meanwhile you hear alerts about air quality, space debris falling alerts, civil war, terrorist actions, and how if you just tried harder you’d be a better station, somehow.
Supposedly the creator will wash her hands of the project and consider it done by the end of the year. She keeps posting updates, adding even more bespoke items. Filling the world with even more details.
I probably did the game no favors powering through it in a week. Each individual part is incredible. Seeing it all together as quick as I could brought problems of pacing, and how I wanted certain sections cut. Just one less dilapidated building.
The excess is part of the point. That it is also the best Half-Life thing I’ve played is a bonus. It lets you encounter the world’s story naturally, until you run accidentally into world changing events. I was amazed by it from the start, and am excited it will be “done” even if when I played it in January I found it quite done.
5/5 Tidal Wave Alerts
Castlevania: Lecarde Chronicles 2 (2017, Windows PC)
This is a free Castlevania fan game with some baked in PC Game weirdness that seems unthinkable in 2022. Putting it in Window Mode in Windows 11 puts it on top-center frame-unmovable.
The first half of the game is slow moving. You need to find the double jump powerup to move to the left of the map. Then the slide to move to the right. Then a key on the left. So on.
Despite being a search action Castlevania, you do not get levels. Each upgrade or new piece of equipment is important. You treasure them.
The level design frequently proved itself more clever than expected. It also proved itself devious. I cackled in hatred at dying and trying a platforming section again.
It remains fair, and doable by a little grit and patience and luck. Eventually the open world and mini-dungeons gives way to a Castle literally designed by Satan. It is open ended and filled with beautiful weird environments and weird puzzles. The game has to make more and more concessions to make sure you do not sequence break, okay this area requires the triple jump, two air dashes, a midair float, and spike armor. It’s a commitment to a bit.
I laughed so much dying at the game. Eventually somehow I reached the end. Then to get the Special Ending required a spike gauntlet that eliminated my good spirits. My friends who had been watching and good spirited insulting my every failure suddenly got quiet. Getting hit once in this challenge sent you back to the beginning. The nebulous hitbox suddenly the biggest challenge possible. I died eventually. I closed the game, deleted it, and watched the ending on youtube. It had quickly stopped being fun in any way and butting my head against it any further was gonna ruin my good feelings. Besides youtube confirmed the bad ending was better and funnier.
Video games are big things with lots of different experiences in them. I refuse to let something 12 hours into the game, at the very end, where I was just spinning the wheels of More Game, ruin those 12 hours. I had more fun with LCC2 than with Rondo honestly. It has bumps and worts, but what “classic” video game doesn’t. It is one of my favorite Castlevanias even if I don’t want to think about playing it or especially trying to beat it.
4/5 a pixel taller than your jump height ledges