Horror-adventure Close to the Sun pairs an emotionally-engaging narrative with arguably one of the most stunning and memorable game worlds of 2019. Pity about the frustrating gameplay choices and story decisions that ramp up in the final third of the game. They cast a shadow over the accomplishments that preceded them.
Bridging film and video game, interactive movies are a niche format. However, with most of us having a lot more time on our hands during lockdown, now may be the time to give this hybrid genre more attention. Removing many of the annoyances FMV adventures are associated with, and featuring strong production values, The Complex is a solid entry point, even if it's far more enjoyable as a choose-your-own adventure experience than film entertainment.
Romantic relationships have their ups and downs, and players will likely go through the same experience with Maquette, which seesaws between satisfying and frustrating. Charming world design and bittersweet relationship observations are offset by a couple of opaque puzzles and patches of gameplay clunkiness (bad enough to force level restarts), which mar the overall sense of enjoyment.
It's beautiful, it's charming and its insights are given greater punch by exceptional voice acting. Yet, despite ticking so many boxes, The Magnificent Trufflepigs never manages to find the sweet spot of player satisfaction due to some odd, clashing design choices.
The Mystery of Woolley Mountain certainly serves up rewarding mental challenges, but they're paired with a constant challenge of another sort: the game's unsophistication in almost every other department. Stilted in its art style and comedic choices, it will test your nerves as much as your brain.
The Shore may be rough around the edges in a number of departments, including the quality of vocal performances, and a story that just sort of ends without resolution. The game is so powerful a visual and atmospheric experience, though, that the flaws are worth overlooking. Given the way it absolutely nails its striking depiction of the Cthulhu Mythos, The Shore is recommended, especially for Lovecraftian horror fans. It’s a dark indie pearl worth a five-hour dive.