Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Gray Garden

The other night, I finally completed The Gray Garden.

It's really long, but not in a bad way. The game is very centered on the story rather than the gameplay and the pacing is probably the best I've seen for a video game story in a long time. Said story centers around a world where a God and Devil of one realm have found peace with one another. As a result, Demons and Angels now live together in harmony. We see this world through the views of many different characters, centered mostly on Yosafire and her friends. Eventually, the conflict of the game is revealed after we learn about the daily and peaceful lives of the inhabitants of the world. Turns out that there may be some sort of raid on their world sometime soon and now everyone is investigating the possible incident. 



The gameplay itself seems as if it's based on being an RPG with a familiar battle system, but the battle system actually isn't all that important. Halfway through the game I decided that it was just there for the satisfaction of seeing a fight happen, to feel as if you're doing more than following roads and reading story. The game properly equips you for most battles, if you're willing to look around for the free equipment laying everywhere. No battles other than forced story related ones are even necessary, so you can skip the small-fry. I previously didn't know if I would have to grind these small-fry enemies or not, so I decided this time to try and do it without fighting them. Other than the first boss fight, I had no problems getting through mostly unscathed. I would suggest that if you're going to play this game, do pick up a ton of apples for the apple pie quest as they turn into free healing items.



I also, honestly, fell in love with pretty much all of the characters. Every one of them feels unique and well written. Not only that, but the character designs for this game are pretty amazing.

If I had to choose a favorite though, it would definitely be Froze (One of the main characters). She's pretty stoic and logical, which plays well with Yosafire's illogical tendencies. Yosafire (another main character) may seem pretty annoying, but by the end I felt like she was probably also one of my favorites. Some of the characters take on some major changes in the story while others stay the same. That feels a bit more realistic to me than having everyone change in personality.
I also really like the cats because, well, they're cats. Cool looking Demon cats. They're really strong, physically, but they're pretty air headed so it's really fun to watch their adventures.


I also really enjoyed the music of the game. It's really varied so sometimes it's really gorgeous piano music and others are an upbeat rhythm or maybe even some pretty rocking battle music. All of them really complete the sort of retro RPG soundtrack style, though (albeit with it's own twist). The video below is one of my favorites. Another is #13  (Etihw and Kcalb) on the playlist I pulled this one from.



Final thoughts are really positive. I thoroughly enjoyed this game. I'd suggest it to anyone who likes to play games for story and wouldn't mind taking several hours to play through it. I think I'll keep playing the games from this particular creator as it hasn't let me down yet. I like the whimsical writing and feeling to their games a lot.

If you're looking to play the game, you could find it here. This is the English translated version, which is the one that I played.
Also, there is a small short story April Fools version of the game that genderbends some of the characters. It's actually pretty cute.



Tuesday, May 12, 2015

More Games!

Greetings!
After some time, I've gotten through several more games (or started playing in some cases.) A trend I'm noticing is me playing through a lot of RPG maker style horror games. Sometimes they're really not that bad! Now that I'm looking at my list though, I've been playing quite a lot....
Still so much to go through...
But it's good that I have a lot of things to fall back on when I have a few moments of free time. 
Here are a few in no particular order!

Misao



Misao is more intense than most of the horror games I have played. It punishes you for interacting with most of the items on the screen, which was difficult for me since I like to investigate everything. You have to do everything just right, basically. Luckily, you don't have to go far back if you do something wrong; there are quick saves that allow you to go back quickly to a specific spot where you saved. These are reset after you turn off the game though. This is especially useful for seeing all the different bad end animations and screens with little consequence. 

It was pretty fun, but if you're afraid of a little more gory or seeing deaths, this isn't really the game for you. However, it is very much focused on story while also being a horror game. On top of that, there are quite a few puzzles to figure out.

As for a general idea of the story, Misao is about a girl who wanted to be friends with a classmate. However, she never got the chance to befriend her before her classmate, Misao, went missing. After an earthquake occurs at their school, the building is thrown into a strange world that may be linked to why Misao is missing.

I'd recommend playing it, but only after playing Mad Father first, since they may or may not go hand in hand together. 


Mogeko Castle




So weeeeeeird. Mogeko Castle is probably my second favorite rpgmaker style horror game now. As I said before, it's weird, but probably in a good way. It's a fun adventure through several levels full of story and learning about a strange world. I genuinely had fun in the world despite how little sense it would make sometimes.

Mogeko Castle's story is about Yonaka Kurai, a high school student. When she falls asleep on her usual train home, she finds that she is in a strange new world. Her motivation to get home is to go and see her brother, who has been away from home for some time.

There's a few warnings about this game if you want to play it though: It's pretty sexually explict. There aren't any NSFW images or anything, but the information and situations are pretty crude. Also, don't play if you don't like prosciutto.

Even though the story is weird, or the entire game for that matter, it's pretty fun to learn about the world that the Mogeko live in. I must have spent hours just talking to NPCs in the game.

I highly suggest it if you're into having a weird journey.



The Gray Garden



Created by the same person who made Mogeko Castle, The Gray Garden is a whole different adventure. It plays pretty much like a normal RPG. You choose when to fight enemies (aside from bosses) and venture around with different party members. you can buy and equip weapons and use potions and whatnot. The only problem I have with it is that sometimes it feels like you need to grind enemies for experience. The worst part of it is that you don't know if that is futile until you reach a boss because the enemies barely have a difference of levels in each area.

The art of it is really nice, though. I think I just like this art style really.

I haven't been through all of the game yet, so I'm not quite sure what the story is. All I know is that there are angels and demons living together in relative harmony. You play as a gluttonous demon who likes flowers and apple pie.

I'm having fun with it, though, aside from the possible need to grind.

And yes, since it is the same creator, it does have some crude humor and sexual themes.



Mad Father

Mad Father was one of the first few of the RPGmaker style horror games that I played. It's always been highly praised and I can see why. I had quite a lot of fun playing this one, but only after I got past the first few puzzles. It starts out pretty slow, maybe a bit confusing, but it picks up pretty soon after.

Usually I look for story in games, but the gameplay for this one was probably more likable than the story in this case. Not to say the story was bad, but the story section of it was broken up by a lot of the gameplay. You'd have a scrap of story, then a bunch of gameplay, then another scrap here, and it just kind of goes on like that. It's just one of those rare cases where I liked to actually play the game than read the story.

The story is decent though. It's about a young girl who's father is kidnapped one night. She wakes up to screams and finds that the house is filled with the living dead. It's kind of scary for her, but not too out of place since her father murders people in the name of science.

The art is usually really pretty and I actually really love the character designs. Each of the endings are pretty nice, too.

Puzzles keep you running around the entire mansion and the choices you make in story really feel as if they are affecting your character through the game.

It does have a bit of gore, though, so if you're squeamish, I'd probably stay away. Otherwise, please do play this one!


The Witch's House



The Witch's House wasn't really that fun for me. It's spoken highly of, and there's a lot of really pretty art out there for the characters. I got through it, but only after setting it down a bunch of times first.

The problem for me was the gameplay, mostly. It's one of those 'touch anything wrong and it kills you' sort of games, except it doesn't have the quick saves like Misao. So you have to overwrite files eventually if you save often because you're afraid to touch everything but want to see the story of the house.  It also relies pretty heavily on chase scenes, which really aren't all that fun to me. I feel like it artificially tried to amp up the terror and horror by throwing in a chase scene ALL THE TIME. Even if I successfully completed the chase scene, I'd often put the game down because I realized I wasn't having fun playing this.

Otherwise, it plays like a general RPGmaker style horror/puzzle game.

The story is lacking for me as well. I didn't get to see very much of it, only bits a pieces. I hope there is more out there, but as it stands, a normal play through netted me just a small shred of story.

I can't really recommend it, personally, even if the graphics are pretty.

Dreaming Mary


I'm going to be honest upfront: I didn't like Dreaming Mary. The music was beautiful, what little bit of it there was. I want to say the art was beautiful, because most of it is, at least until you get to the ending where it's full of artifacts and barely recognizable.

The game is pretty simple to play until I realized that the one mechanic in the game- interacting with things on the screen- switches up when you are talking to NPCs. It was pretty confusing to interact with everything by facing towards it using the up arrow and then be thrown off by having to talk to NPCs by facing left or right towards them and interacting.

The puzzles were easy and repetitive (You do a puzzle, come back later, do that same puzzle again except with a different item or lower amount of time).

The only 'horror' aspect of it is a single chase scene. But that's okay because the creator doesn't really see it as a horror game, so I'm not holding that against them.

I've only heard the story as being praised for being very deep. I didn't see that at all, but instead saw it only as a touchy subject. I personally don't think that dealing with a touchy subject = deep.

The story, though, is about a girl who is dreaming, Mary, and her adventures with her dream friends. If I say anything more, it's pretty much spoiled because of how little story there actually is.

It's a pretty simple game, if you want to play something that doesn't take anymore than about 15 minutes to play. Probably more like five if you get the bad ending.  So it's an okay way to spend a few extra minutes if you want to clear an entire game.

Irisu Syndrome



Okay, maybe this one is a bit odd for me. I picked it up because I liked the art of it. I don't regret it or anything, but it's a completely different type of puzzle game. Instead of RPGmaker style, this is more like a mobile app type puzzle game. The point is the keep matching colored blocks together when the reach the ground. If you don't, it quickly drains your lifebar. It's a little difficult for me to play, but it's still fun to play to pass the time.  You unlock story by getting further and further into the game.

The story is pretty simple, though: Four kids hanging out when one notices a girl wearing a witch hat with rabbit ears. No one believes them and eventually kids start going missing. If you decided to play this game and want to see all of the story, I suggest reading the text files in the game's folder.


 Wadanohara


I haven't finished this one yet. This is made by the same person who did Mogeko Castle and The Gray Garden. I also picked up this game based on the art (it's really pretty in an odd sort of way). It plays like an actual RPG, like The Gray Garden, so there isn't really a deviation from the gameplay.

The story for this one is that there is a witch and her familiars who plan to return home to the sea kingdom. Pretty short and simple since I have only gotten as far as returning home.

Like most of the games this creator makes, there is a lot of crude humor and sexual themes.

 Alice Mare


This game felt more like a strange novel than anything else. I don't think it was ever labeled as a horror game. It's not a horror game. But it was a fun play. It's very story-centric and that's what makes this game what it is.

If you're looking for a nice story, this is probably the game to choose from the entire list. To keep it simple and kind of a surprise, I'll say that the story involves some fairy tales you may know of but it's kind of a twist on those.

Other than that, it's a really simple puzzle game where you run items back and forth or solve riddles and whatnot.

Forest of Drizzling Rain



I still haven't gotten through a lot of this game, but it's been decent enough that I know I'm going to play it to the end.

Forest of Drizzling Rain is about a girl who goes back to her parent's hometown to discover her missing past. When she gets there, things seem pretty strange and she meets people on the way. However, some of these people start disappearing and the main character goes out to find her.

It's a puzzle game with a small bit of gore to it (so far) and seems to rely decently on story.

Kantai Collection


I also started Kancolle a while back. I play through it pretty slowly and I'm still learning it. There isn't an english version so the first time I tried to play through it, I gave up because of the language barrier. Kancolle viewer has been good enough to me, though. It helps that I can turn around and ask at least two people to come look at my screen and tell me what something says (or general advice for the game).

The game isn't a horror puzzle rpgmaker style game at all, it's only in this list because it is indeed a game that I'm playing.

I'm going to compare it instead to Pokemon, just to make it easier on some people who may not understand the style of the game. While there is no walking around in this game, the system of battle and 'collecting' beings is pretty similar.

All of the girls in this game are humanized version of ships. Real ships that really existed. You start out with just one, and eventually find plenty more to help build your team (or fleet) to take on maps of enemies or even other players. Maybe you just want to send them out to find resources, though. That's fine, too.

In my screenshot, you'll see my favorite ship girl. Her name is Kiso.

Apparently this is what she actually looked like.

Anyway, she's my favorite ship girl and I think she's really cool.
I didn't touch too much on it, but you get the general idea of being a commander and sending out ships to fight battles.


I'll be continuing to work on the games that I have and writing out my thoughts on them here!