A short, snappy visual novel in which you commit major mischief, Overboard! makes being the bad girl fun. It taps into the human instinct for self-preservation and perhaps a latent desire to see what badness we can get away with. Good writing, fun gameplay, and a light thinking challenge. The game’s replayability makes it worth the price of admission.
If you’re up for a numbers-based puzzle game, I highly recommend Mystic Pillars. Adding a hint system would make it perfect, but it’s still a good game without one. Not only is the gameplay solid, but the visuals and sound show that Holy Cow Productions went the extra mile to present a polished game.
I just hope that later updates will introduce more content, such as new enemy abilities. Or at least improve the user interface. The thing Spire did well with UI was to provide, through tooltips, all the information you might need to make a good decision. In Slime, informative tooltips weren’t always there to remind me of what certain terms meant—or, they were partially blocked by something else on-screen. Card and button selection could also be better highlighted on certain screens. If I could ask for just one “small” improvement, though, it would be a larger font size. I haven’t played long enough to settle on a definitive verdict, but for now, I can say this: Slushy the Great is still a long way from greatness, but the potential and groundwork is there. I’m keen to see how it develops over time with further updates.
I expect promising things in the future from Provodnik Games based on Dull Grey‘s writing and interesting gameplay premise. But I also hope to see better translation and editing as this can make or break impressions, especially for a visual novel of this brevity. There were jarring moments when the quality of translation dropped significantly. I appreciate that there are many possible endings, but the most interesting ones ended up more confusing than satisfying. For these reasons, I hovered between rating the game “I Like It” and “Not Sure.” Overall, though, the game holds together well enough.
I found the plot meaningful, and it drove the game forward despite being doled out in tiny pieces and told in so few words. If you think of regular RPGs as epic novels, I’d say A Dark Room is a short story, one of those 100-words-only “short shorts.” It’s about humanity, sort of. It’s about discovery and survival. The Switch is a great way to play this game, with either Joy-Cons or touchscreen as options. I much preferred the touchscreen for speed. I enjoyed lying in bed with A Dark Room as much as with any title with fancy graphics. If you’re looking for an indie title that’s different, give this a go. Light the fire.
Unfortunately, I don’t think the game particularly explores themes of ageing and dementia in any clear or substantial way. At least, not other than creating a quiet, lonely atmosphere punctuated by moments of fear. The music mostly rests in gentle, bittersweet melancholia, but occasionally drops a tingling sense of danger. It’s got a lovely main soundtrack, and the visual style is muted but pleasant to the eye. So at least Heal has the mood, if not the words. While disappointed that there wasn’t much in the way of a story, I think Heal holds up well enough as a puzzle game. The art, music and Switch touchscreen controls get a thumbs up.
So I hovered between giving the “Not Sure” and “I Like It” rating. I like MMS2 just enough to want to try other Kairosoft games, to see if they’ve done better with the simulation formula elsewhere. I like it just enough to think, “I bet I could do a better job on a second playthrough!” But no, I don’t like it enough to sit through it again, even if Fast mode eliminated the eternity of screens and waiting and dragging shops around (though the touchscreen function performs wonderfully for this final task). Maybe the thing about Kairosoft games is that you’re expected to play one and move on to the next? In the end, bearing in mind MMS2’s roots as a mobile game for casual gamers, I guess it’s okay. Just okay.
Into a Dream is a decent effort for a solo developer’s small debut game. It’s a promising start in terms of dialogue writing, visuals, and music. Apart from a game-breaking bug, I would have given it a higher rating if I had experienced more agency as a player, in terms of really making an impact on Luke Williams. I wouldn’t recommend picking it up for the puzzles, only for the themes, though unfortunately, I don’t think the game made an impact on me theme-wise. But I appreciate that it chose to focus on a working father/husband, a demographic we don’t often hear talking about their inner struggles.
The amount of puzzles offered by Codebreaker Puzzle 1000! is impressive: one thousand puzzles per language set. Personally, the English puzzles were too easy for me, while the Japanese puzzles were difficult and not my idea of a good learning tool. But if you already like cipher or codebreaker crosswords, you might still enjoy this simple, straightforward version. As a game, I would have given a “Not Sure” rating, but since Codebreaker didn’t raise my hopes with great promises of fun or learning, I wasn’t let down (since I had low expectations). It is pretty barebones, so think of Codebreaker less as a game and more as a digitized book of crosswords.
If you haven’t been playing much interactive fiction, just remind yourself to switch mental gears and put on your metaphorical reading glasses. After I made that switch and carved out time to enjoy 80 Days slowly, I really enjoyed the little stories that make up Passepartout’s grand adventure. After six playthroughs, spending about two hours per playthrough, there are still many cities I’ve been thwarted from reaching and mysteries to fully uncover. Perhaps I’ll revisit old cities just to take in the scenery if I had rushed through them earlier. I’ve almost died, but I’ve yet to actually die. Who knows, perhaps I’ll stumble upon a plotline that lets me!