Note: The price tags listed are at time of purchase which may have been during a limited sale.
Normally, I try to fit in a couple of different games to review, so that the $25 you spend will truly be worth it and take you at least to the next week when you can then add a couple of more doozies to your list. (Do kids say “doozies” anymore? If you literally have no idea what that means, drop a comment in the comment section.) Not only was this week the release of some big bundle/collections like Borderlands and Bioshock, but I was stuck between choosing a few different games that were each $20 and flipping back and forth between my Switch and PS4, devouring trailers. And then, I heard that voice, the voice of Little Misfortune. And I laughed pretty loudly. I felt like a good laugh, and the animation looked gorgeous.
I downloaded it and started playing it, and I didn’t put the controller down until I was done. I immediately picked it up and started playing it a second time. It took me about three and a half hours to go through the first time, and I imagine I’ll play this over and over again… well, let me rewind a little.
I downloaded the game and started playing it, and instead of laughing, I was immediately overwhelmed with a number of different, conflicting emotions. Little Misfortune is a young girl, abut eight years old. She has had a life so terrible that the things that are about to happen to her she mostly shrugs off. Her family is so abusive that she carries around a bottle of glitter with her, and with a toss of the hand, she brightens things that makes her unhappy. Sometimes, I expect to cry at the end of a story, but never at the beginning. Little Misfortune is such a ball of light, love, and innocence in such a dark world, a world no child deserves; it really affected me.
The narrator (an unreliable narrator if ever there was one) tells you a secret right off the bat. This secret was the first thing, I think, that made my mouth drop open, and I realized I had gotten myself into something unexpected. Little Misfortune can hear the narrator and calls him Mr. Voice. He talks her into leaving the house on an adventure to find the Eternal Happiness. She agrees to for no other reason than to make her mommy happy. (My heart kept breaking.) As a player, you get to make choices for Misfortune. You are told time and again that those choices have real consequences. I eventually did laugh, because there is some genuinely funny stuff… but there’s also some dark, twisted stuff. This is essentially a Grimm’s Fairy Tale or if Edward Gorey or (early) Tim Burton got their hands on a video game… with a little bit of Trey Parker and Matt Stone mixed in.
There are so many reasons why this game works and is so very engaging. First and foremost, the voice performances from Natalia Martinsson and Ramirez Hernandez are phenomenal - some of the best video game voice work I’ve heard in years. Secondly, they really bring these characters to life, and the dynamic is so fresh and unsettling that it’s easy to become involved right away. Their unhealthy dynamic is literally the center of the game. I couldn’t tear myself away from the screen! Thirdly, the world that Killmonday Games has created is so vibrant and rich and the visuals so lush, you can get lost just staring at the screen for long moments. The music is wonderful, magical, and dark. Also, there’s a magical fox named Benjamin!
Final word: 100% worth playing. I was genuinely blown away. They balance the realities of Misfortune’s tragic life with the fantastical adventure she’s going on so splendidly, and the replay value is incredibly high. This game is an inspiration and is just another reminder that #StoriesMatter. It only helps that the writing, the telling of the story, is genuinely superb.
Price at Time of Purchase: $19.99
Initial Release Date: September 18, 2019, Expanded release date May 29th, 2020
Developer: Killmonday Games
Composer(s): Isak Martinsson
Genre: Adventure storytelling game
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Android, Xbox One, iOS, Microsoft Windows, Linux, Macintosh operating systems