Spooky Starlets (NSFW Early Access Review)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £7.19
Where To Get It: Steam

Content Warnings: Monsterfolk.

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Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly (Going Back)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £23.79 (Soundtrack £3.99)
Where To Get It: Steam

I love ghost stories. Tales of regrets, of vengeance, and sometimes, of telling a loved one it’s okay from beyond the grave. I also hate them, because few of their endings are happy, and even the “happy” ones are most often bittersweet.

ACTUAL BEST ENDING

And so it is with Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly, where I refuse to believe the ending called the Best Ending is, in fact, the best. And, to put it bluntly, some of the endings can fuck right off.

But, honestly, that’s what grief is. And grief, and the delusions thereof, the regrets, the unfulfilled desires, is essentially what it’s about.

Oh, and somebody who wants to murder existence itself. But that’s more set dressing, more characters for the plot to revolve around, more endings. We’ll get to the endings, believe me. But first, the game in general.

Aesthetically, it’s gorgeous. Soft, bishy visuals (no really, look at these cute boys! Unf!) and beautiful music, along with some solid Japanese voice acting, make this pleasant to play. It also has a VN flowchart, which, as I may have said before, is a godsend in general.

AaaaaaAAAaaAA, so Bishilicious!

However, for some endings of the game, it’s a pain in the ass, because you still basically have to play the routes from certain parts. So I’m two endings short, because I cannot be arsed to go through the entire game again just to get them. Besides, I’ve already unlocked the “Best” ending (Bullshit. The Happy Ending is much better.) And then there’s the minigame.

Look, I love a good minigame, which probably gets me some weird looks. But I had an abysmal time with the butterfly shooting game, which you’ll have to do several times, either in the main menu or by selecting a chapter where you fight one of the dangerous shadows of the mansion. On keyboard, it seems to only take one input at a time, on mouse, if it goes outside of a window, you have to click back at the window, wasting valuable time (and probably a butterfly)… And considering it’s the method to unlock the side stories (necessary for certain endings), I was… Annoyed. See also the lack of fastskip.

The thing is, overall? This is a solid, well written visual novel, and I basically played this in one sitting, all the way through (except the Yamato endings. Sorry dude), before writing this review. I don’t often manage to get a VN like this played through in one sitting, and that’s basically a recommendation right there.

So, for folks who like a good supernatural or psychological horror, this one comes recommended.

Okay… Now we deal with the story. Five amnesiac characters, one of which is our lady protagonist, who wake up in a strange mansion, immediately hunted by beasts who used to be people, and cryptically told to finish some sort of kaleidoscope, by finding gems dropped from said beasts wot used to be people. And it’s got its scary moments, its heartwarming moments, its heartbreaking moments, and its funny moments.

SPOILERS NOW AHEAD

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Monster Prom 2: Monster Camp (Review)

Source: Supporter Gift
Price: £9.99
Where To Get It: Steam

I enjoyed the hell out of Monster Prom. Truly, it was an experience that will always stay with me, the days of smooching monsterfolk that shaped me, a magical time fraught with drama and sometimes iffy humour…

This is what happens when you have an already horny player, and a mad lib entry that just begs for this answer. Yes, I do want to fuck the hot nonbinary reaper.

And now, it’s time for summer camp, with a mostly new cast, some new mechanics to shake things up, and, although the core of the game remains the same… Going to places that raise stats, successfully navigating events through picking which of the two choices correspond to the higher stat of the pair (yes, you have to deduce this), a campfire interlude in which you try to get hearts with the monster of your dreams by pandering… All of this remains the same, but there’s new wrinkles, changes. And some of them I like, some of them, I understand (but don’t necessarily like), and… Well, actually, there’s only one thing I don’t reallylike, but we’ll get to that.

It’s basically a VN dating sim type dealio, but with extra horny, a customisable content filter, and a competitive element if you’re playing together.

Damien: Finally outed as a dumbass. As if it wasn’t obvious already.

Anyway, changes. Character choices feel a little more natural, if a little bit more confusing for the first part, which is picking three items for your stat improvements to put in your backpack. With the quiz of the previous game, it was a little more clear, but I sorta get it, and it is a fitting way to work it in, as is trying to break the ice with your chosen bae before you’ve hit the camp.

The campfire, much like the lunch hall of the previous game, is mostly the same, except… There’s two differences, and they’re both fun. Want to give another player a boost? Spread some goss, honey, the mothman over there is dying to hear the latest! Haven’t seen it backfire yet (nope, just did, right now… -4 Boldness, OW), and there’s some fun madlibs. Now… Juan the Magical Latino Cat, this… Is a slightly different story. His role is to shake things up, by providing you with one drink, chosen from either one you can see, and maybe guess the effects of… Or the Mystery Box. There’s a couple that screw you over, but mostly, it’s interesting stuff, which does change your plans, and I like that.

Hello, Juan, I suppose some of these drinks are revenge for us stealing your FUN. Most of them are pretty cool, though, you’re one hell of a party animal.

Then there’s the little bit of rep, and this time, definitely intentional. Last game, we had Zoey, who many consider to be transgender (and awesome), and now? Milo, the nonbinary reaper. Who, like pretty much all of the main cast, is extremely cute. Would talk up on their instagram contents, 10/10. And someone’s parents being a gay couple. And pretty much all the main cast technically being pansexual. Okay, I take it back, this game’s pretty queer.

Aesthetically, it remains the same, although the music does feel samey pretty quickly, I kinda miss the “What they did after” vignettes, but the replacement of a cool credits animation makes up for that somewhat, and, while there’s stuff still needing to be put into the game (Hi there Gallery mode, I want a full screenshot of Milo’s hot bod, thanks in advance.) It remains accessible, the content filters are a nice feature, even if they don’t… Full cover everything, but I’m reasonably certain they’ve tried to keep it CW free, outside of the events and endings.

I love how adorably vulnerable looking Aaravi the monster slayer is when you date her. She’s opening up to you, and if you break her heart, we will end you

So, is it a recommendation? Yup, pretty much. I’d have liked it if they’d released with all the content, rather than putting it out now with some stuff missing, but, honestly, it’s definitely enjoyable right now, even if I do wish there was a cheat sheet built in that, once you’ve smooched your date once, helps narrow down what stats you need to smooch them again. Mostly because it’s tiresome remembering, and I want to enjoy the events along the way. Still, if you like smooching monsterfolk, Monster Prom remains a series to enjoy.

Well, unless you’re not up for thirst. Because hoo boy, there’s a lot of thirst.

As before, The Mad Welshman had real difficulty working out who they wanted to date. So they dated them all.

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Cartomante (Review)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £1.99
Where To Get It: Steam

When I went into this game, a divination game similar to… Well, Divination, in which you choose from a limited set of interpretations (of Tarot Cards, as Cartomante would imply) to “deal” with three people’s problems… I wasn’t expecting to try and solve a gay love triangle of man, their boyfriend, and their pupper (In the werewolf sense, who is also the boyfriend’s ex.)

Whoops. This guy is so fascinating he dominated my screenshots…

Okay, okay, that’s a big spoiler, but, as with any short game, it’s kind of hard to avoid them, and… Well, there’s several ways that could go. Several cards. Thirty potential endings.

And it helps that it has an aesthetic. Bright, colourful, with an off kilter soundtrack, it feels wonderful and weird, and the three clients are quite the set of characters. A voiceless (?), masked figure with a heavy load. A tattooed man with a ghostly dog on his shoulder. And a bourgeois plantgirl who is utterly blind to the fact her nephew is having orgies in the flower shop she entrusted to him.

God, she really is a bitch, and I’m looking forward to finding the ending to her story where she gets hers. But I did get her to legalise sex work in one ending, so there’s that!

Damn straight, tell it like it is!

Anyway, yes, the writing is as colourful and oddly off kilter as the game’s visuals. Sometimes, you get hints of a very dark supernatural world. Other times, it’s a supernatural world where people just casually talk to the Nameless like it ain’t no thing, and others, it’s an ordinary world with ordinary (and sometimes dumb) problems.

In any case, if you want something weird, with a fair bit of replayability while being short in terms of individual sessions, and like short VNs, well, Cartomante is £2, its sessions are short, it shows when you’ve picked an interpretation , and one feature I’d really appreciate is tracking what you’ve got and where, but…Well, as mentioned, it’s £2, it’s fun, it’s got good writing, and what the hey, bring a notebook.

The Mad Welshman seeks advice from the cards on what to if he’s secretly 300 bwci bois in a sweater…

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Paradise Killer (Review)

Source: Review Copy
Price: £15.49 (£19.28 for game+soundtrack, £7.19 soundtrack)
Where To Get It: Steam

I love a good murder mystery. The twists, the turns, the red herrings, slowly being guided along a path. And sometimes… Being wrong. In a way, aside from all the other cool stuff, that’s what’s so good about Paradise Killer…

You’re allowed to be totally wrong. Even if you do need at least some evidence. And hell, even after a marathon session with one trial I felt was off, I’m still not sure I got the whole truth. Pieces were missing, strange pieces, but, considering how large the world is, I’d probably need a walkthrough to find the clues. But it’s okay, even if I feel like I shafted some friends in the process.

Regardless of right or wrong, the sentence remains… DEATH.

In any case, Paradise Killer is a first person exploration type murder mystery, with some visual novel elements (the interrogations, the trial, some of the puzzles) where the Council of Island 24 have been murdered just prior to the Island’s reality being broken down to make way for Island 25, Island Perfection (ha.) And you, Lady Love Dies, interrogator, investigator, and, when the time comes, executioner, must find out who did it. Maybe who plural.

Writing wise, it’s great, and aesthetically, it’s this strange 80s/90s vibe combined with urban fantasy, a paradise island with pyramids, some small hellscapes, obelisks, tenements… The supernatural and the “Normal” live hand in hand. The soundtrack’s great, the sound design is, except for the static in the second gate, good, and the VA pleases, very characterful.

I like Lydia. She’s down to earth, even in as strange a place as Island 24.

Now, mechanically… Ah, here’s where there are some imperfections. I’ve noted that you’re allowed to get it wrong, and this is good. But this is a fairly big open world, and, oddly, I feel that works against it in some respects. Hunt relics. Why? Completionism and a few quests, it seems. Hunt blood jewels. Why? Well, that’s more useful, unlocking a secret item needed for the best clues, unlocking fast travel points, and paying the toll for travelling from them.

But it definitely felt like a needle in a haystack at times, finding the clues. And then… There are the puzzles. Use symbols from a set to complete the image, except… I never used some. I never came across a lock that used some of the symbol elements. Maybe that’s by design, maybe not, but it kinda frustrated me on some odd level.

Yeah, ummm… Some of these, I didn’t use my whole playthrough.

Still, the mysteries kept me hooked, and the mysteries left are seriously tempting me to dive back in now that the review’s written, hunt down those final clues, and that, along with its aesthetics and writing, really nail it for me. Some of the platforming is annoying as fuck, but, overall, I would highly recommend this one, especially to murder mystery lovers.

May the million eyes watch over you as you play this…

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