Bad Writer feels uncomfortably realistic at times. Sure, it sometimes feels good (or maybe even necessary) to spend all day in bed or chilling in front of the TV, but the depression that follows afterwards can be all too real. Although it feels perhaps a little too short, there’s something oddly special about Bad Writer; the dread and excitement of trying to follow your dreams, the anxiety of waiting to discover if your work was accepted or rejected, and the daily struggle are all surprisingly poignant. If you’re looking for a unique life-sim that won’t always be particularly relaxing, Bad Writer might be the game for you.
Divination is unique, and explores some pretty intense topics, with an appropriately dark art style to match its themes. It definitely gives off vibes of those 80’s dystopian sci-fi films, which all focus on the same question: are any of us truly in charge of our own fates?
Seven Pirates H is a flawed but enjoyable game. An extremely unique system of leveling up, light-hearted plot, and cast of adorable characters somehow manages to mix charming and lewd in a surprisingly effective way. Unfortunately, the game is hampered by uninspired dungeons, combat that eventually grows repetitive (especially considering enemies tend to be far, far weaker than boss fights, which can be a slog), and an over-reliance on the booby training gimmick. Perhaps the game’s most damning flaw is my least favorite design choice ever: forcing players to revisit every single dungeon to fight a new boss as part of the story. Still, even with the obvious flaws, if you’re looking for a silly RPG with over-the-top fanservice, Seven Pirates H is very, very likely to scratch that itch.
Other than the aforementioned problems with the doll-finding puzzles and the frame rate hiccups, this is an intriguing game. Sorrowvirus explores the endless death-and-rebirth cycle of poor Wyatt, with each successful playthrough shifting the dialogue, the information learned, and the very look of his personal Purgatory, all underscored by an incredibly haunting melody. You’re certain to be left wondering if immortality is really as promising as it sounds.
Ghost on the Shore is a short, beautiful experience. Accompanied by nothing more than the voice of Josh in your head, you’ll travel across three islands, piecing together what happened along the way. Every answer you give to Josh’s questions will affect your relationship with him, ultimately affecting the outcome of the whole game. I found myself surprisingly emotional more than once during my experience. Ghost on the Shore is more than just a ghost story; it’s a look into what remains of us after death, both real and metaphysical.
As a whole, Anuchard is a fun game. It’s quirky, it’s perfectly pixely, and it combines city building and dungeon crawling surprisingly well. Unfortunately, the game gets bogged down by repetition, repetition, repetition. Even when puzzle solving elements build off the fundamentals, it just isn’t enough of a change to the mechanics to keep it from eventually starting to feel like a slog. While undoubtedly a solid game, Anuchard is unfortunately just a little too mired in the past.
Cat Cafe Manager is one of those games you don’t know you need until you start playing it. It’s cozy, heartfelt, charming, and silly in the best of ways. And so soothing that you’ll find yourself still playing even after you’ve completed all the in-game objectives. Which is why it pains me to give this game the score that I did. Because, as thoroughly enjoyable as everything I’ve described above is, the game has some serious issues that need addressing. Scrolling to read additional information frequently didn’t work; if you accrue enough skills, they escape their assigned boxes, spreading out across the screen and getting in the way when you try to view them; even with litter boxes, at the same time every day all of my cats would spontaneously void their bladders wherever they were in my cafe; finally, there were days I would set my advertising for a specific customer type and wouldn’t get customers for days. Perhaps worst of all, there were a couple times when the game wouldn’t let me do anything at all – time would continue to pass, and customers would appear, but I couldn’t prepare food, interact with anything, or even access the menu. Still, if you don’t encounter these bugs, or, better yet, they get fixed, I think there’s something really special in Cat Cafe Manager. It’s relaxing, lighthearted, sweet, and just overall comforting. Whether you’re a cat lover or not, there’s a lot to enjoy here.
Welcome to Elk is a game that’s hard to quantify. Hell, it’s hard to even accurately describe. Somehow, it manages to be moving, mystifying, upsetting, intriguing, stressful, confusing, enlightening, and probably a dozen other contradictory things. Welcome to Elk doesn’t provide satisfying answers or endings. There are few, if any, likable characters. You’ll experience more trauma than you probably want to in just a few, short hours. And at the end of it all, you’re left clutching at the sharp, jagged shards of other people’s emotions, wondering… what do I do now?
It’s actually really hard to find things wrong with Rise of the Third Power. If I had to really nitpick here, I’d say the enemies could use some more lively animations for their attacks, and the dungeons could do without the repeating elements of “find switches and find the bronze/silver/gold keys.” But these are honestly minor in the grand scheme of the game. Rise of the Third Power is a love letter to the games of my youth, and it plucks at those heartstrings with skilled fingers. With a fantastic story, fully-developed, well-written characters, gorgeously pixelated visuals, and a stellar soundtrack, this game is a must-have for fans of old-school RPGs.
Overall, Blackwind is a regrettably forgettable game. Unable to decide if it’s a twin-stick shooter or a hack-and-slash, with repetitive (and sometimes downright boring) level design, and cringe-inducing voice-acting, there’s little to recommend here. Honestly, the best way I can describe this game is in terms of food: Blackwind would be unflavored, plain oatmeal. Sure, it’s edible, but do you really want to eat it?
As a whole, The Letter is an awesome visual novel. With a literal ton of dialogue, extremely well-developed characters, a deliciously creepy, slow-burning story, branching story paths, and an interesting relationship system, there’s quite a lot for horror fans and visual novel fans alike to enjoy. Unfortunately, the awesome story and stellar character writing is bogged down by the ceaseless grammar mistakes. Still, if you can get past it, I think you’ll thoroughly enjoy it.
I honestly can’t decide if Happy’s Humble Burger Farm is a good or bad game. There are parts of it that I thoroughly loved, like the creepy storyline, the gritty, dated aesthetics that really immersed you in the game’s world, and the jump scares that got me every time. But those controls are just atrocious, hindering the game to the point it felt nearly unplayable at times. There are a lot of awesome, interesting, and unique ideas here, but unfortunately the execution just wasn’t there.
Ghosts and Apples is a thoroughly enjoyable game. Simple controls, Tim Burton aesthetic, and unique, addictive gameplay make for a great experience. While the difficulty curve is a bit steep for my tastes, the challenges are certainly part of the fun. There’s also a solid versus mode for two players. I played several matches against my husband and it’s just as addicting as the story mode. If you’re in the market for a unique puzzle-y, arcade-y, increasingly frantic game, Ghosts and Apples may just scratch that itch for you.
There’s just not a lot to criticize about Undernauts. Experience has taken their standard formula and improved upon it once again. Exploration is engaging and addicting, there’s tons of customization options for your team, challenging quests and enemies, and a flair for the creepy and disturbing. If you need a solid dungeon RPG, look no further.
Inscryption is refreshingly unique. With all the roguelike deckbuilders popping up these days, they can all start to blend together. Inscryption manages to stand out from the crowd in all the best ways. Complex card strategies blend with escape room puzzles far better than should be possible. And the whole package is wrapped in such wonderfully creepy trappings that it’s perfect for the Halloween season. Just remember: don’t ever assume you’ve reached the end.
Rainbow Billy is the lovechild of Wind Waker, Paper Mario, and Mr. Rogers that we didn’t know we needed. It’s sweet, it’s heartwarming, it’s addicting, and it’s beautiful. Not only that, but it tackles difficult topics in a rather mature and thought-provoking way. These topics really run the gamut of the human experience: self-esteem issues, anxiety, fear, anger, strength/masculinity, and so many more. Honestly, this game can be played by children and adults – there’s something to learn from the experience for everybody.
The Last Friend is truly a gem. Polished gameplay, tight controls, superb, charming art, and just that wow factor that makes you want to play for hours on end. It’s one of those games that I hesitate to call perfect, but honestly, I can find so few flaws, I’m awfully tempted to. I’m already counting down the days until it comes out on the Switch so I can download it and have it on the go as well.
Still, even with a small handful of flaws, this is a solid game. Residual has awesome pixel art, a unique premise, addicting gameplay, and the promise of unique playthroughs every time you start a new game. While it’s not a perfect game, my complaints are fairly minor all things considered. I’d definitely recommend this game to anybody looking for a unique survival/platformer mashup.
SkateBIRD is a fun, if flawed, experience. Charming, with a light-hearted story and a good sense of humor, there’s plenty to enjoy, even with the overly floaty feeling that hampers the controls. While it’s likely not the best skater you’ll ever play, it’s probably one of the more unique ones. I don’t think I’d really recommend it to hardcore fans of skater games, but for people looking for a casual experience you can pick up anytime and not feel too invested in, it might be worth a look.
Boyfriend Dungeon is a good example of a great, unique game that’s an awesome experience in spite of its flaws. It’s by no means a perfect game. Boyfriend Dungeon has incredible character development, tackles difficult subject matter, has absolutely gorgeous artwork and a killer soundtrack, and is more than addicting enough to get you going back for more and more. And that’s in spite of the lackluster, repetitive, and limited dungeon crawling options available to you. It’s quite unlike any game I’ve ever played, in the best of ways.