That's a huge letdown, because the encounters feel tuned for co-op rather than solo play. Playing alone, I could feel the absence of other players; although enemies are tougher when playing with friends, having another person to divert a boss' attention feels more natural than having you and a boss circle a pillar as you whittle down its health, or slowly working your way through the unrelenting hail of bullets that some of the later encounters subject you to. You also get to revive your friends in multiplayer (you even get one self-revive), which makes some of the tougher fights a little easier.
Brynn's tale is told mostly in flashback, for obvious reasons, and as I watched it play out, I could make some limited decisions by putting the cursor on one of the eyeball icons on the screen and blinking to make my selection. Once the interactive portion of a moment is over, a metronome begins to tick back and forth at the bottom of the screen, even if characters are still talking. You can stay in that moment as long as you'd like ... as long you can keep yourself from blinking. Blink, and you're removed from the memory and sent someplace else.
Anyone that's played New Horizons will be familiar with the sorts of errands necessary to complete the spirits' tasks. Much of the time, the spirits have lost things that the player needs to find around the island. There's a lot of fishing, harvesting resources, and collecting items. These tasks can be finished within a half an hour or so most of the time, especially if I just have to do something like find a recipe book that's been stashed in a pile of leaves, but sometimes a task can require me to log in across multiple days. Say, for instance, I need to bring salt to the spirit baker on the island. That can only be purchased through Cozy Grove's shopkeeper, and I'll have to wait if it's not there on the day I need it.
This isn't a game you'll return to over and over, due to the heavy emphasis on a linear story with large-scale set-pieces hinting at the much bigger war around you. But it's absolutely worth playing through at least once, or playing again if you haven't touched it since its original release.
Mundaun still delivers eight to 10 well-paced hours of slow-burning horror. There are no endless exposition dumps or scary monsters jumping into frame. The story is just interesting, competently paced, and set on a believable and beautiful stage. Turns out, that’s all a game needs to be a good play on a dark weekend night.
You'll also be earning gear as your hero fights to survive, and juggling your loadout is a constant, unending job. Learning about each magical effect takes experimentation, since Loop Hero explains very little. What will this ring with those stats do when paired with this shield? What even is "vampirism," and could it be good in this context? You have to try different things and find out what works, much like parenting. Using trial and error to learn and figure things out is a great way to explore the world with your children, and it's almost a mandatory skill to perfect your run in Loop Hero.
Gnosia manages to capture that in single-player format, while creating a story and universe you care about enough to really learn and understand. I know everyone’s tells, but I also know what they like and dislike, what they struggle with and what they seek. Gnosia’s both an impostor game and a visual novel, and the mix results in something else entirely new. Whether you enjoy new forms of storytelling or just want the friendly deception without the social anxiety, it’s well worth experiencing.
Or you can remove the stress altogether and play on the lowest difficulty setting, which eliminates the stamina meter, allowing the player to zoom up the side of each environment and focus on enjoying the view and the experience. You do have to play the climbs in each environment in order of difficulty to unlock them in the scored modes where you unlock new gear. But every single climb is available to try on the casual setting from the jump, a welcome feature for anyone who just wants to be a virtual tourist on these mountains and structures.