Tuesday, 21 July 2020 15:29
Every week, Fanbase Press Contributor Phillip Kelly plays and reviews a handful of brand new independent video games, all costing no more than $25. Why? There are a lot of indie games out there, and if he can help you, curious reader, to parse through the selection with even a little more knowledge, then, by god, he’ll die content.
Note: The price tags listed are at time of purchase which may have been during a limited sale.
This game comes with a warning that it will be disturbing and there may be deaths that could upset people. I was like “psh.” My “psh” shot to “OMGWTF!” not far into the game, which quickly became me cackling like a madman.
You are Peet. While exploring with your girlfriend Wren, she is captured by a toothy skeletal figure called Dr. Smile. This experience frightens you into a coma. You wake up with little-to-no memory of what happened, but, as the player, you know poor Peet is dreaming in his coma. You set off to find Wren in this backwards world that seemed to me like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on rabies. The neighborhood kids are a twisted cross between the kids visiting the factory and the lost boys from Peter Pan.
Moments of this jump out at you like little nightmares, plucking at childhood fears; other moments are absurd and weird and keep you on your toes. Everything blends together into this subversive experience that both mocks and embraces the beauty of life, love, and friendship. The story interludes are told in creepy couplets like a child’s fairytale, but you have a baseball bat and your wits to keep the darkness at bay. There are so many unique surprises within this game that I don’t want to give away. I found myself really enjoying the clever twists on the things you’d expect to find in a dark and dreamy platformer like this.
Final word: The gameplay is so smooth and so much fun. The puzzles are dark and will draw the laughter out of you even though you know you’ve become a better person than you were when you were fifteen. The visuals are stunning, like absolutely gorgeous. The soundtrack and sound design are haunting and creepy, and, sometimes, this is accomplished by juxtaposing jaunty music against a weird environment. A lot of thought, time, and real talent went into making this game. The price is a gift. Thomas Brush is a mad genius having designed, written, illustrated the art, and composed the music for this game. Just, wow.
Price at Time of Purchase: $14.99
Initial Release Date: 2019
Publisher: Serenity Forge
Genre: Adventure game
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, Linux, Macintosh operating systems
Developers: Serenity Forge, Atmos Games
Remember when you were a baby and you were told by your parents, “You have legs, figure it out.” Dooria is a puzzle game that doesn’t care if you get it or not. “You’ve played games, figure it out.” And somehow, you feel like the asshole.
Four levels in and I was screaming at myself, “Why don’t I know you yet!” I had to take a deep breath or 500 and really pay attention to what I was doing, really center myself, and I still wasn’t able to beat the fourth level… BUT I now know how the mechanics work. Why did it take me so long? I was expecting one thing: to be led slowly into how this world works. Instead, I stumbled through three levels having no idea what I’d done and just expected it to keep going that way…
The game presents a “story” in which a gentleman invites you to follow him through a doorway. You at first refuse; your ghostly self has better things to do. He gives you an umbrella to protect you from the rain and then disappears through a doorway. You change your mind, but when the gentleman entered the doorway… it changed. Now, every time you enter a doorway, the doorway shift. Your perspective jumps back and forth from one side of the door to the other until you can get yourself to a door that will take you to another stage. Apparently, there are multiple ways to figure out these puzzles. Apparently, I can figure out none of them.
Final word: This is genuinely like playing chess against yourself, only you have no idea what move you’re going to make next. Let me say this: In this day and age, it’s good to have a game that forces you to slow down and not just barrel ahead. I joke a lot here because most of my playing time was spent frustrated, but as I began to figure this out, I started to feel… good. The mush in my brain was flexing; lateral thought was being worked out. Yeah, this is challenging, but that’s not a bad thing. Plus, the design of the levels, the music, all the minutiae of the environments make you feel warm and fuzzy. If you want a beautiful challenge, I highly recommend. If you don’t want to think about nuthin’, then stick to your dang Animal Crossing.
Price at Time of Purchase: $15.99
Release Date: July 17, 2020
Developer: Paper Atom
Publisher: Paper Atom
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, macOS