Journey to the Savage Planet (Review)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £24.99 (Expansion Scenario: £5.99)
Where To Get It: Steam

I just keep finding cheerily dystopian games with guitars in, don’t I? Well, this one’s particularly cheery in its corporate dystopia, and is a metroidvania style deal in which your abilities allow you to explore the world more, see interesting beasties, and get yourself wrecked by them, so it’s not like I can complain. All I can do is eat the monsters that look rich. Or, more accurately, drain their mineral contents so I can make sweet, sweet traversal items and upgrades.

MUAHAHAHAHA, SUCK IT, HELPLESS CHICKEN LIKE CREATURE!

And, just like a metroidvania, there’s a fair amount of being lost, because, apart from shortcut points, you’re basically relying on muscle memory and a few upgrades to work out what’s what, and where.

So, first things first, the humour. Oh god, the humour’s on point, and it’s clear which rich asshole(s) Kindred corp’s head are inspired by. They shall not be named, for they are also namesearching rich assholes. But it’s pretty obvious, and oh boy are they smug, clueless jerks who’d rather throw money and people at a problem than use resources efficiently.

That’s our job, apparently.

Humankind. Whether it’s possible, advisable, or even safe, we will try to [BEEEEP] it.

Aesthetically, the game is pretty clear, with a clear, unobtrusive UX, cool alien designs that make the beasties in question instantly recognisable (along with other features, equally clear), and a broken world that feels awe inspiring at times to travel in. Musically, well, it’s good, it’s frontier western guitars, and yup, dystopian future with space-trucker guitars again!

This is not a bad thing. This is, in fact, a good thing. Equally good is the world. The pufferbirds are very satisfying indeed to feed to the grinding maws, to punt, and to generally bully, the creatures are, overall, well designed, big glowy weak points and all, and they feel like they belong in this screwed up, shattered world. Which, like your journey, is one big, long WHOOPS.

But it’s an enjoyable whoops that controls well, has some good acting (and some delightfully godawful adverts), a dystopian story that nonetheless made me laugh, and an ending that I saw coming a few hundred parsecs away, but still delighted me in the details. I found some of the later stuff and some of the bosses a bit of a drag, mainly because said boss fights were multistage, but also relied on maneuverability with limited healing, but overall, I found it well paced, and likable enough that I wanted to 100% complete before hitting that lever to take me back home.

Pretty landscapes. Filled with creatures that want you dead, and you want dead too. It’s all good…

And after I do, what I’ve found will totally be used safely for the betterment of mankind. Right?

Oh. Yeah. Comedic hellscape.

WHOOPS.

This review sponsored by CAMPING CUBICLE, the portable office cube with a coffee maker in-built, so you can feel like an office drone even in the farthest reaches of space, as you should!

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Love Stories: Furry Shades of Gay (NSFW Going Back)

Content Warnings: M/M, D/s, anthro/furry, maid costumes, oral, anal, facial, degradation, spanking, bratting, open relationship, size difference, dubcon(?), masturbation

(more…)

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The Sad Story Of Emmeline Burns (Going Back)

Source: Free
Price: Free
Where to Get It: Steam

At first, I had mixed impressions. A beautiful piano piece on the one hand, not making it clear the drawers are the menu, and the key the options on the other.

Hijinks!

The piano remains good. And the opening crawl… Don’t let it put you off. Yes, it’s all text, but being that fits. Toma has no good pictures for this. Why should she, when she feels off, isolated, and feeling like her core, her identity, was stolen via the simple fact her aunt named her baby with Toma’s mother’s desired name for her daughter. And it’s affected her self esteem, to the point where she, a beautiful young lady (and she is) feels plain, weird, uncomfortable to be around.

A kinetic novel (where one doesn’t choose, but simply experiences the story), it revolves around two people, both young: Toma and Emmeline, and the fateful meeting they have in a graveyard. And it’s an emotional ride, where I found myself tearing up at one phrase early on:

“Every person has a story, and there is not enough space on a single tombstone to say it.”

But the story is told, and I teared up several times. That, in and of itself, says a lot. I sometimes tear up at the weirdest things (Like the SST arrange of Space Harrier, of all things. No idea why), but I don’t often do it overall…

Emmeline is smooth as warm butter…

But Toma’s story, and Emmeline’s struck a chord. They both loved a girl, and, in the end, they both got the relationships they wanted, and resolved, at least partly, the histories that plagued them.

You’d think that was a massive spoiler, but no. The details matter. The very British nature of the game matters, the small things matter. Just like a light brush of the hand, or a stammered set of words.

The Sad Story of Emmeline Burns is free, is hella gay, and it made me almost cry. If you want that experience, and don’t mind it being a kinetic novel… Go give it a go.

Oh, and the gallery is in the book, and the music box’s function is obvious.

And so we close our tale, the biscuits and milk all eaten, the night drawing in. Sweet dreams, one and all…

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Cats Organised Neatly and Box Cats Puzzle (Review(s))

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: CON £1.99. Box Cats £1.69
Where To Get Them: Steam (CON) and Steam (Box Cats)

After a bit of thought, I’d decided to lump two games together for this one: Cats Organised Neatly, and Box Cat Puzzle. Mainly because the basic idea is the same: Fit cats into boxes. They’re around the same price, as well. But, while the basic concept is the same, both are subtly different experiences. Different flavours of cat herding, if you will.

Yup, those are definitely cats, they are cute, and they’re being organised neatly. The advertising standards commission is content.

Of the two, I’d say that Cats Organised Neatly is the more fleshed out game. A chill vibe, cute cats, rotation, a gallery of catte… Its puzzles, however, get nastier quickly. Box Cat Puzzle, meanwhile, is less polished. There is none of this rotation bollocks, you know where you stand with the pieces… Even if they’ve got a minimal representation until you place them.

But placing them, again, brings a different vibe. Cats Organised Neatly’s cats are cute. They are uniformly cute. They make you go d’aww regardless. The idealised form of cat, the cats cat owners see when they’re not seeing their cat be catlike in the “I own you, not the other way around” moments. While Box Cat Puzzle is very… Yup, they are definitely cats. Yes, sometimes they’re cute. But I chose the screenshot below for a reason.

I mean, let’s face it, that’s a work of god-damn art. <3

Okay, two, I just couldn’t help but appreciate the aesthetics of four cats in a circle licking their balls. This, too, is part of Cat Life. Box Cat Puzzle also has an editor, which is a nice feature.

They are similar. Not the same, each having their own flavour, little differences that make them their own works. But I chose to review them together for one simple reason…

Regardless of the fact that both are good in their way (although you’ll quickly tire of Box Cat’s music loop, so points deducted, and both have elements in their UX that are less than clear, namely the back button in Cats Organised Neatly actually being the way you get to both the menu and the puzzle select (ARGH), and the buttons that aren’t “get the pieces out of the box” in Box Cat, it’s… Kinda hard to write a lot of words around a puzzle game about putting cats in boxes. So, since I had two to hand… Why not both?

Both is good. Both are, in their own way, good. And if you like a puzzle game involving cats, well, these are both cheap options that provide some fun. And that ain’t bad.

Cats own people. Not the other way around. All cat owners know this… Well, except the ones cats have trained particularly early…

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In Other Waters (Going Back)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £11.39 (Soundtrack £5.79, “A Study of Gliese 677Cc” (book), £7.19)
Where To Get It: Steam

Exploring alien worlds, with new life… We see it a lot in fiction. What we don’t see so often is a world that gets properly explored. Oh, those pretty plants? What’s their function, their relation to other species, how does it fit into the ecosystem, and… Is it actually healthy?

You can juuuust about see that the good Doctor’s ship has only 75% oxygen right now. Feelin’ a little pressured…

Well, this is all a consideration to an exobiologist, and indeed, In Other Waters, that would be all that you’d be worrying about outside of your own health. But the protagonists of In Other Waters have other problems. One, the human Dr. Ellery Vas, has been summoned to this world by an old… Well, their feelings are conflicted… Let’s say friend for now. Except she’s nowhere to be found, and her bases have been abandoned.

The other is you, the suspiciously advanced AI of a diving suit, and a malfunctioning suit at that. You’re her only hope. Both to survive… And to solve the riddles of Gliese 677Cc, a world where all may not be well.

Or, y’know, nature is just being nature, and you and Dr. Vas happened to stop in at a bad time. That could be it too. I’m not telling you.

Speaking of nature, once you finish studying a species, you get sweet biological drawings! Awww, isn’t this thing the cutest/

Still, what this results in? Is a minimalist game, in an undersea world which doesn’t really know you, and you don’t know it. Dr. Vas is fascinated, because, well, scientist, and she tries her best to understand the role of the various species she encounters, adding them to a rough taxonomy. Even as an expert, she isn’t sure of what’s going on, but she makes reasonable, educated guesses. And, despite the fact you can’t talk, she tries to communicate with you. After all, the friend she was looking for doesn’t look like she’s anywhere around. You’re all that’s left.

And, as such, it’s a game where you read about beauty… Yet, as a suit, it’s a sterile radar display, a UX for a robot, function, direction… You can see the movement of creatures, hear the water, the hissing of toxins clogging your rebreather, sometimes noises of the various animals and plants and fungi… But you are disconnected from it all. Just as Dr. Vas… Ellery… Is disconnected from her friend, and cannot properly communicate with you, disconnected from you in a different way.

The world as you see it. A washed out radar readout. Come to think of it, this is a bit of a nightmare colourblindness wise. Hrm.

You are all, in a sense, strangers in a strange land, alone, seeing beauty, trying to understand it… But you aren’t part of it. And the music, this UX, clean, easily understood, yet sterile, the way the world is presented… It all adds to one feeling, a feeling that’s strange for a game of exploration. Well, sort of strange. It fits well here, for example.

Loneliness. Maybe that’s just me, but it’s a lonely game, in several respects.

But here’s the thing: It wants you to explore its world. It eases you in, and each area has a sort of puzzle associated with it. How to get creatures to come out of their hidey holes. How to put others back in. How to maybe, just maybe, clear a toxic area with local plantlife just long enough to get where you need to go without Dr. Vas running out of oxygen, causing an override to your suit.

And I recommend it. I recommend its serene bleakness, the beauty you can only read about, and not experience for yourself, not fully. I recommend its story about searching for truth and piercing the veil of secrets, on several levels. It’s slow… But it’s good.

I’d like to be… Beneath the sea… In a… Sod, this doesn’t actually work. Beep boop, I can human well.

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