It might seem absurd for me to say I want to experience even more of Umineko's story given that ~130 hours is not a small investment of time; but as the final moments were unfolding and the conclusion was drawing near, I felt genuinely sad about the notion of saying goodbye to these wonderful characters, the amazing world in which they inhabit, and their incredible story. While Umineko is indeed a horror story with a tightly woven mystery tying it all together, ultimately it is also a deeply affecting story about love, loss, trauma, catharsis, feminism, family, the value of living, and the importance of our relationships with fellow humans. "Without love, it cannot be seen” is the core message of Umineko, and one which I’ll carry with me for years to come.
While it isn’t perfect in execution, it is doing a lot with a little and carries more weight than one would expect from first glance. It is cathartic, moving, hopeful, witty, and affecting all wrapped up in a relatively short experience. It is a game I have no problem recommending, and one I won’t soon forget.
At its worst, Manifold Garden is great. At its best, it is transcendent. It is easily one of the best puzzle games of the past few years, and I can’t even imagine how much effort must have gone into designing the majority of its unique, multi-layered areas. While its flaws definitely detract from the overall experience, it is still a game which is absolutely worth experiencing. It will challenge you, leave you saying “wow” aloud, and consistently surprise you.
Ultimately, Eliza is a fantastic experience. It dives deep into subjects which aren’t often talked about openly, and does so with expert attention to detail. It is a biting commentary on our reliance on technology in the modern world, and does not use kid gloves while doing so. Along with technology, it is a wonderfully executed think piece on mental health, and what it is like for everyday people to be afflicted by mental illness.
Supraland is an extraordinarily creative puzzle game with a significant amount of content to be explored and experienced; but also one which can be actively unfun to play, and occasionally expresses some feelings you might either find funny, or really gross. I somewhat recommend it, but you should maybe expect to bite your tongue every now and again.
While the game itself is fairly solid mechanically, when it’s firing on all cylinders and working its hardest to bring you the best it has to offer, it is merely okay. Unfortunately, most of the time the experience is pretty lackluster, and ultimately its problem is that it doesn’t do anything new – despite its quirky premise, it feels uninspired. It feels less like the euphoria of a cat café, and more like tending a litter box.
Even with its flaws, AI: The Somnium Files is an exceptional game. As it became apparent that the final hours were drawing near, my biggest problem with the game was that I didn’t want it to end. It is a unique experience which you’ll remember for years to come, and its story highs are – as of yet – unrivaled by any other release this year.