Game Reviews, games, Reviews

Bear with Me review

Game is availble here!

Bear with Me was made by Exordium Games – an indie developer studio located at Croatia. Beside Bear with Me they have many other games of different genres than you surely can enjoy. This also proves skills of the developers and their wish to reach wider public, as amongst their few games you surely can find something you’ll like.

I was gifted access to the first episode of Bear With Me quite a while ago, and I felt this issue needed a game like this. I haven’t been able to check the other two episodes yet, but the first one is more than promising – and I expect both second and third be even more exciting than what I played through.

You follow Amber, a ten year old heroine that – apparently – has solved many more cases in the past. Bad guys come back to town, and Amber has to protect the world of her toys, a world so very dear to her. On her new adventure, an old friend joins her, and seems like they both have many mysteries a player would love to learn….

Although the main theme here is quite obvious from the beginning, the game takes the noir, mystery, detective part truly seriously. Yes, we play as a ten year old accompanied by her trusted Ted E. Bear, however you still feel like you’re in the middle of a proper mystery game.

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That is exactly what excited me in this game, the grayscale (and yet, Amber describing paintings using a full palette of colors – so surreal when you can’t see it!), the deep voice of Ted E. Bear. Cutscenes in which you really feel that the duo is out of a retro detective movie of some sort.

What the developers came up with, and how they made their story work, for me was very unique. Thinking if I played similarly created games before, I have to admit that I don’t think I have. However, believing there’s no such game as Bear with Me at all would be naive. I imagine there are, but this one gave me some motivation to look for similar “genre” of a game – mixing cute and “scary” or mysterious.

But Bear with Me is more than just an interesting concept – it is a point-and-click game with every aspect of that. With pointless objects that you click to get sassy or intriguing descriptions from Amber, many puzzles and conversations with other characters. I would say conversations – at least in the first episode – are the lowest point. Felt too straightforward too often, and when you got to have choices, they were the choices that change nothing to be fair.

I also have to admit that game did have some flaws that made me squint a little, however it’s been mostly graphic-related and we can forgive an indie team that. Every time you play an indie game you need to remember that there are not hundreds of people working on making those game perfect – it’s a much smaller team, and I remind myself how much easier it is to miss some things.

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Achievements. This game actually has quite a nice collection of them! Some of them are a bit ridiculous, but at least they do show a little bit of a challenge. Or at least they don’t focus only on progress in game but also on how you play the game. Besides the story, they are there to let you enjoy Bear with Me for a couple more minutes than you expected. And also, the game does have a bit of replay value – but if I told you what I know, I would spoil such a great surprise that awaits you in the very first episode! So rather than listen to me, go see what the game developers have  got for you there.

Is Bear with Me perfect? Well, of course not, I doubt any game is, and I would say Bear with Me could be polished a little bit more. But for me, my love for indie games came from the love for unique, original, and surprising stories, and that is something Bear with Me surely delivers. I’m truly happy I got to experience the first episode – and will try to experience the other two in near future! If you’re looking for a nice point-and-click game with a story that will keep you wanting to know more and more, Bear with Me is a perfect choice for some cold, winter evenings, with a nice hot of your favorite hot beverage.

Written for Indie Arcade january 2018

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Game Reviews, games, Reviews

Black Home Review

Game

Today I’m gonna present to  you game from one of my favorite genres, and one of the very first genres that I have explored on my journey with indie devs. RPG-Maker games.

I am aware plenty of people consider it as a starting point for some indie developers, before they can learn stronger game engines. Those games may seem very simple but, if you dig deep enough, they will surprise you. Sure, the gameplay mechanics are somewhat limited – and usually we’re focusing on a puzzle-solving or combat type of gameplay. But in between all that, you can have a story, a wondrous tale that makes you forget all of the limitations.

The story always had a surprise for me – once I thought I figured it out, something happened, something that either made me think I was wrong, or would make the events of the game go towards completely different direction.

We follow Lecia, a worried wife that will do anything to save her husband, Lesnar. Lecia is a courageous young woman, ready to do anything in her power to figure out why her husband is missing and how to bring him back home. She will step into the abandoned monastery and won’t stop until she finds Lesnar.

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She will have to solve many puzzles, seek help from different people and stay as brave as in the beginning of her journey to find answers to her questions – and to learn what has happened to her loved one.

In Black Home you meet a multitude of characters that have their own personalities, and through the little conversations that occur in between puzzles and combat, you can learn who they are. Observe how they react to a bad situation they got themselves into, and what kind of ending to the adventure each of them want. What is important to them, what is holy and what means nothing.

If solving puzzles is your forte, this game is for you. As well, if you like a good story with your puzzles. You need to be aware of the limitations RPG Maker games have, however Warfare Studios truly made the best with what they had, to deliver a good story and nicely balanced gameplay. The story is truly intriguing, and all of the characters you meet have their own story to tell. Even the foul ones, while you don’t learn all the details, you learn what made them into who they become, and what turned the monastery into ruins.

Written for Indie Arcade january 2018 issue

demo, Game Reviews, games, Reviews

That Which Binds Us Extendend DEMO (quick review)

“That Which Binds Us” started as RPG Maker project for Indie Game Maker Contest 2017, but has been now ported into renpy, and I have to admit, visual novel aesthetic fits it perfectly.

Demo can be seen here!

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We play as Evalise, just a regular young woman, in a regular modern day world. It looks like that kind of a story at the very first look, however, before you know it becomes much more serious and intriguing than you would expect. Which, I believe, we lack! A mature story is always interesting to play and if it’s well written, it can really leave you thinking about the morals and ideals shown in the game – and choice you are given.

Evalise is lucky enough to have a boyfriend – but is she really? We start the game from him interrupting her chat with her co-worker, asking her to bail him out of jail. Or rather, demanding. A typical example of a toxic man. And, to my surprise and shock Evalise plans to do so (and seems to have done so in the past…?)

But, once she enters the place when she can do so (which I thought you can do only at the arrest, but I do not have much knowledge in that area), it turns out to be a very special place. Sure, you can bail your closed ones out of jail there or… you can ask the clerk to make them forget you…?

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TBWU is a very interesting visual novel; renpy fits the idea much more than rpg maker, and I’m happy creators decided to port it, and use renpy as an engine. Story is intriguing and there seems to be many, many secrets in it to figure out what happened Evalise, why she was dating an asshole boyfirend and what future awaits her. What future we can choose for her?

It’s a short little demo, good for your cold february evening… 🙂

Game Reviews, games, Reviews

A quick look at Pixel Horror Jam 2016

For January’s Indie Arcade I have wrotten about a couple of games made for Pixel Horror Jam and I thought I will compile them here. They are short for the sake of magazine, but I hope you will still enjoy them!

Lavender

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Lavender is a modern take on Rapunzel’s story. Most of the story is related to the old tale we all know, and so our focus should be on gameplay, and the numerous puzzles we need to complete to get through the game. If you are perceptive enough, you can find some secrets in this game. Some that make it fit for the “horror” game jam…

 

Animal Village

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‘Animal Village, former Human Village’, this is how the little village we enter is presented to us. And that raises many questions…

The village is almost desolate, beside Miranda, the guide, Rondo the Stray (who also hates humans) and Mass the Butcher… Butcher to whom you don’t want to get too close.

 

Warning:the keyboard controls are not user friendly at all, but if you stick with them, you will experience a lovely, creepy adventure in Animal Village.

Cozy

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This is another short game, but this one mostly gave me such a retro feel! Everything here – the pixels design, the pointer, game itself it just feels super retro! As for a story, it seems a simple one, we are visiting our Uncle. Making sure he’s doing alright during those cold, winter times, making sure he’s ‘cozy’… Simple enough, right? But don’t forget the theme has word “horror” in it!

 

File

fileFile is one of the games in the jam, that took the word “horror” truly seriously. If you’re looking for a thrill, for a scare, if you want to be terrified… that game is a perfect choice. The way it is made, it keeps you in suspense, as more and more frightening facts get’s revealed… and all you can do is to keep playing, expecting more jumpscares and wondering where does the story leads?

What is the ending? What is the point of it all?