While clearly not as impressive in gaming terms as the Bloodlines series, Coteries of New York is a welcome addition to the digital world of The Masquerade. Offering up an immersive and atmospheric take on the politics and personalities of the undead Big Apple, it seduces with it's quality of writing and characterisation, proving to be more than a mere snack to tide the Hunger over until the main course of Bloodlines 2. If you have any taste for the Gothic you should give yourself over to the vampiric delights of Coteries.
The Procession to Calvary is very rude, very silly, and a whole lot of fun if taken as it is intended. Much like the Monty Python sketches that have influenced it, it walks the thin line between humour and heresy, but as long you don't mind a bit of irreverent blasphemy mixed in with your silliness, there is a great evening of fun to be had within. You don't even need to have spent 10 years getting a PhD to enjoy it…
When Someday You'll Return is at its best, it is one of the finest immersive horror games I've played. Its take on psychological horror and ability to create a sense of dread is second to none, but that comes with some caveats. It can drag in parts, has some frustrating stealth sections and some puzzles that are needlessly obscure, but if you're prepared to make it through the less successful moments, there is a lot to love here.
I had an enjoyable time playing The Innsmouth Case on PC several times through, but it's probably better suited to its mobile iteration, as the adventure book format works brilliantly on handheld devices. As a distraction from commutes (or a companion to lengthy visits to the toilet) The Innsmouth Case is a great little tale that will entertain fans of either cosmic or comic horror.
Maid of Sker is a great addition to the survival horror genre and offers a wonderfully intimate and local threat that takes its influences from Welsh folktales. Eschewing the combat and weaponry of many entries into the genre, its gameplay loop of sneaking and hiding proves compelling and successfully manages to keep you feeling in danger at all times. When you add in some excellent sound design and atmosphere you have a Victorian horror that deserves a rousing reception. There may not be a welcome in these valleys but this is one vacation that genre fans should have no reservations about taking.
There's much to love about Sparklite, and it's clearly been a passion project for the small development team, but my overall experience was a frustrating one. It's hamstrung by its half-formed and unnecessarily repetitive roguelite structure that undermines the positives of the aesthetic and challenging boss fights. A good roguelite gets better and more complex with repetition, but Sparklite just increasingly overstays its welcome.
The Academy isn't a bad game, per se, but promises far more than it delivers. Its influences are too clearly worn on its sleeve and it ends up less than the sum of its parts. The school is too small and the puzzles just not exciting enough to really draw you in. The target audience is probably much less jaded than me and younger players will probably enjoy the combination of Hogwarts-esque schooling and puzzles, but it's a difficult title to recommend for experienced puzzle gamers.
What Happens is an interesting and mostly successful addition to the growing field of games that focus on mental health issues. Most of what it sets out to do works well despite the glaring issues with polish and acting ability. There were moments which were more successful than others and it would benefit from making it clearer where alternative approaches were available. It is clear that Genius Slackers' ambition is greater than their abilities but I applaud the attempt to use gaming for such a vital and powerful message.
Ice Age: Scrat's Nutty Adventures isn't a terrible game, but it is so old fashioned and average that it is difficult to recommend. If you have kids of the right age range and find it on sale, then it's fun enough. The lack of a movie to tie into leads to a particularly weak story that feels like it's tacking on a license instead of a genuine entry in the Ice Age series. Scrat may find his nut, but I was left unsatisfied by a functional but mediocre tie in.