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Recent reviews by ♣ Coraline Castell ♣

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Showing 1-10 of 62 entries
12 people found this review helpful
0.8 hrs on record
“You can't escape the boundaries of your mind or the consequences of your actions, and neither can she.”

It seems that, although video-game feature films have steadily become obvious targets for mockery, the same (fortunately!) cannot be said about the recent output of indie shorts dedicated to the same medium.

Big studios have brought to "video-game movies" the special effects, expensive wardrobe and famous actors they required in order to become box office hits, but very rarely have they actually conquered the hearts of fans.

Indie shorts such as this, the Papers Please: The Short Film and even the BEHOLDER Short Film had to be creative with their limited budgets but, by employing a tight-knit group of people much closer to the subject matter, they became the most capable of translating the video game experience into movie form.

In terms of narrative, Paradox brings nothing new to the table to those already familiar with the Rusty Lake universe. What makes it such a successful endeavor is the charming way in which it translates the "escape the room" genre to the screen. By creating a detailed set and making a poignant use of its camera, Paradox truly brings to life the best of the acclaimed Rusty Lake franchise.

The cherry on top is David Bowles serving well as the detective lead, paired with an eerie mood that coats the short from minute 1.

Strongly recommend to the Rusty Lake fans. You don't need to be afraid of being let down.

-

If you liked this review, feel free to follow me on Letterboxd[letterboxd.com] for more movie reviews.
Posted March 17. Last edited March 17.
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38 people found this review helpful
16.2 hrs on record
Foreword
This is more of a complaint than it is a review.

The many issues of ASTRONEER
I've owned ASTRONEER since January 2017, roughly a month after it set foot on the Steam store.

During these two years (!), I've seen ASTRO turn from a very shallow exploration game with endless bugs into a beautiful multi-world universe with many more features... and almost as many bugs.

Several of the core problems I faced since Day 1 have not been fixed -- or, if they have, they were not fixed in a satisfactory manner.

Vehicles and base buildings frequently glitch out or get stuck. Early-game is still confusing to new players (or old players coming back) despite menu tutorials. Widely-requested features seem forever-bound to the road map.

My main gameplay complaint, however, is how badly optimized ASTRO is. It's frankly astounding how much worse they've made it in 1.0.

I'm not a game developer so I have little to no clue as to how optimization is supposed to work. So let's talk about it in comparative and practical terms: I don't have a high-end computer, but my machine is able to run The Witcher 3 on medium settings with roughly 40FPS at 1080p.

ASTRONEER, in the lowest possible settings, fluctuates around 15-30FPS at 900p.

It's unplayable, hideously unplayable.

I was looking forward to checking out the new base elements, take my hover for a spin, dig around in the dirt... but when I can hardly keep up with my friend because game some times runs as low as 15FPS, it's simply impossible.

I can see, more and more, that ASTRONEER is bound to turn its valuable team into clouds and trees developers.

Until ASTRONEER's development efforts become more performance and privacy oriented, I won't touch this game again.

Conclusion
There are several bugs. The tutorial is unhelpful. There is no story mode. The EULA is a violation of your rights.

Ignore the Steam store's completely inaccurate system requirements. Only buy ASTRONEER if you have a high-end PC, high-end patience and a will to sell your private data to 3rd party companies.

PS: Read the EULA

System Era also reserves the right to monitor use of this Software at any time, and you agree not to interfere with this monitoring or with any of the access control measures or technology discussed above, or to attempt to disable or circumvent such security features.

There is no possible way I could more strongly NOT recommend this broken, privacy-violating, badly-optimized game.
Posted February 12.
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20 people found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
2.7 hrs on record
“Always eyes watching you and the voice enveloping you. Asleep or awake, indoors or out of doors, in the bath or bed- no escape. Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimeters in your skull.”
― George Orwell, 1984

Foreword
I’ve only unlocked ONE of the THREE main endings of Do Not Feed the Monkeys in my 2.5 hours of gameplay. It was purchased during its 24-hour sale on Chrono .gg.

General Thoughts
20th-century Science Fiction saw a wave of quality dystopian literature. It poured from the likes of Philip K.♥♥♥♥♥♥ Arthur C. Clarke, Heinlein, Silverberg, Ursula Le Guin, Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Aldous Huxley, Orwell… it’s a long list.

The 21st-century, by contrast, has seen fewer prominent dystopian titles. But we shouldn’t be fooled into thinking the genre doesn’t have enough material to fuel our nightmares about the future: it seems like the baton has just been passed to gaming.

For the past two decades, big studios and indie studios alike have been working extra hours and coding themselves into bankruptcy to try and capture the equilibrium between the gnarly likely future and the sliver of hope we need to maintain in order to actually finish their games.

Do Not Feed the Monkeys has succeeded in doing exactly that. Its premise is simple: you must watch the monkeys and not interact with them. If you feed them (and get found out) you are immediately expelled from the Club… and then there’s the police to worry about.

So what makes Monkeys – for short – stand out? Mainly, it provides something that many of us, gamers interested in branching stories, are starved for: choices that actually matter. During gameplay, you must complete tasks for each cage you watch. But if you’re creative, there’s more to it than that…

Spoilers aside, Monkeys values your choices not only by translating your actions into immediate environmental changes, but by remembering and referring back to them by the end-game.

To add to that, it’s also filled to the brim with Easter-eggs, stylish graphics, clever writing and functional gameplay. Not once did Monkeys feel slow or boring, there was always something to do.

The survival mechanics were not overbearing, the quests were clearly stated and, although surprising, the consequences of thinking outside of the cage box always felt within what was expected, instead of cheating on the game’s side – who hasn’t, at least once, regretted picking a dialogue option that seemed like it meant something else?

All-in-all, Monkeys succeeds at keeping players on their toes by immersing them into a fleshed-out and likely future without going over the top with its creative ideas.

Conclusion
Do Not Feed the Monkeys receives a strong recommendation if you’re interested in branching stories, surprises, reading important e-mails, keeping your eyes open and being an obedient little monkey who stays in-doors at all times to listen to every bit they say, do you understand?

Be a part of the prestigious Primate Observation Club. Maybe you’ll even be rewarded access to The Cage of the Big Primate. Curious? We are selective, but we’re sure you’d be a fine specimen addition.

“I think the discomfort that some people feel in going to the monkey cages at the zoo is a warning sign.”
― Carl Sagan, The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God
Posted January 27. Last edited January 28.
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15 people found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
4.1 hrs on record
“you just can't differentiate between a robot and the very best of humans.”
― Isaac Asimov, I, Robot

Foreword
I'm an Amanita Design enthusiast and have played every single one of their games -- two of which rank among my all-time favorites. This was my second playthrough of Machinarium, the first was in 2010.

Quick Review
It usually doesn't make sense for me to write negative reviews, especially on acclaimed 10-year-old games. Whatever had to be learned from said game's mistakes has already been learned. In the case of Amanita Design, proof of their technical growth since Machinarium can clearly be seen in their latest works, especially the well-rounded Samorost 3.

My 'negative' review stems for the certainty that Machinarium has already been showered with all the praise it deserves, and the feeling that perhaps not enough has been said about the faults it does have.

Although the music and graphics presented in Machinarium hold well against modern scrutiny, the same cannot be said about several of its puzzles. In order to transform a little robot's quest to save his girlfriend into a point and click adventure, Amanita Design saw fit to clutter Josef's tale with everything they could, from solid puzzle-solving to Space Invaders.

It was the overwhelming amount of purposeless puzzles that finally pushed me away from giving Machinarium a recommendation, especially its two final ones. One of them requires the player to move their mouse around the screen and shoot a total of 30+ obnoxious little bad guys for no coherent reason within the story, and the second requires a musical ear and quite some back-and-forth -- that, or a guide.

By themselves, weak puzzles with the sole purpose of stalling players would not cast the game in such a negative light if they were few and far between. However, when frequently presented in the context of a bland story, not much can be said on my end to defend Machinarium in the face of so many other wonderful point and click games.

Conclusion
Machinarium has aged well when it comes to graphics and music but, years later, most of its puzzles feel more like player-stallers than rewarding challenges.

With the rise of point and click games in recent years, Machinarium is overshadowed even by other more mature works by Amanita Design themselves, and I personally feel it should only be recommended to those who have already played most of Amanita's portfolio and are starved for more.

Finally, Machinarium sits far from the top of my recommendations in the point and click genre -- especially to those unfamiliar with it. With a heavy heart, I cannot recommend it.
Posted January 27. Last edited January 27.
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16 people found this review helpful
3.1 hrs on record
“That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons even death may die.”
― Howard Phillips Lovecraft, The Nameless City

Foreword
I played Speed Dating for Ghosts on Ubuntu 18.04 through Steam Play. The game worked perfectly, even though it doesn't have native Linux support.

Quick Review
I'm not a big fan of visual novels. They have to be exceptionally weird, quirky or unique to pique my interest. Speed Dating for Ghosts ticks all those boxes with its inventive characters, outstanding writing and funny dialogue exchanges.

What's more, Speed Dating for Ghosts is exactly what it says on the lid: you play as a ghost going through an agency looking for a possible partner. It's up to you to decide which ghosts to go out with and which to dump.

Warning: it's going to be awful hard to choose because they're all very charismatic and, even if they're not your type, they'll still make you wonder “what the hell?”

(Although it's probably best not to talk about hell around ghosts... they don't fancy talking about how they died, OK?!)

Conclusion
Highly recommended to those who are into graphic novels and dating sims. If you're not into those two categories, I still recommend Speed Dating for Ghosts if you're into humor, well-written exchanges and multiple choices.

I hope Speed Dating for Ghosts... takes your breath away.
Posted September 1, 2018.
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12 people found this review helpful
1.8 hrs on record
My days have grown so lonely
For I have lost my one and only
My pride has been humbled
But I am his body and soul

―Annette Hanshaw, Body and Soul

Foreword
Verde Station is a game that should be played with as little knowledge about it as possible. That being said, this review is deliberately vague, in an attempt to not disclose much about the game itself.

Quick Review
Once in a blue moon a game comes by that makes me absolutely rethink the story-telling boundaries of games. Some do it because they make me realize the medium has its limits; others, because they show me that games can be absolutely boundless.

Verde Station is a powerful 90-minute-long statement of the latter. With a simple premise – “Welcome to Verde Station” – and a striking conclusion, Verde Station weaves the player into a well-written story by almost solely relying on the age-old “show, not tell”.

By working itself around its limited game area and basic graphics, Verde Station proves that brilliant stories can be told, with great style and taste, if you trust the player to ask their own questions and work themselves through the maze you set up for them.

Verde Station will make you question yourself. Verde Station will make you hold your breath. Verde Station will tell its story through the tinniest details and, in doing so, make you obsess about them.

Conclusion
I highly recommend Verde Station to story-lovers, sci-fi enthusiasts and curious folk. I do not recommend Verde Station to those who can't stand slow-paced games.

Verde Station should be savored in one sitting, with a curious mind, attentive eyes and a slice of insanity.

Welcome to solitude.
Posted August 18, 2018. Last edited August 18, 2018.
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17 people found this review helpful
6.2 hrs on record
“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”
― Leonardo da Vinci

Foreword
I was gifted Pocket Kingdom by a friend, due to it being on chrono.gg's[chrono.gg] coin shop for 3000 coins. Special thanks to the devs/publishers for making that possible.

Quick Review
Pocket Kingdom was an absolute delight to discover, unveil and figure out. I had low expectations about this title beyond its sweet pixel art and puzzle premise. Less than one hour in, I realized I had approached it wrong: Pocket Kingdom goes above and beyond being a thought-inducing puzzle game by packing its universe with cool tunes, an interesting back-story and surprisingly deep lore.

By exploring its intricate map one screen at a time, Pocket Kingdom gives you a fair amount of freedom regarding how to proceed with its puzzles. For example: one of the items you can collect are regular keys. You can use them on doors and chests, but you can absolutely decide which locks to use it on first, and the game is very generous and smart about where it places its keys.

Pocket Kingdom does have a handful of downsides, however: it's short, at around 6 hours long; the NPCs are mostly repetitive and contribute little to the story; the main character lacks charisma; the map can be absolutely infuriating not only due to a poor design choice, but also due to recurring bugs.

Conclusion
All things considered, despite the many puzzle games I've played, Pocket Kingdom is a title that left an impression on me due to the way it juggles with interesting lore, cute Easter eggs, fun achievements (seriously, totally unexpectedly awesome) and gorgeous pixel art.

I recommend Pocket Kingdom to anyone interesting in cracking a few puzzles, exploring an interesting floating island and stumbling upon a few really fun secrets.
Posted August 17, 2018. Last edited August 17, 2018.
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22 people found this review helpful
3 people found this review funny
4.0 hrs on record
“Even if there is only one possible unified theory, it is just a set of rules and equations. What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe? The usual approach of science of constructing a mathematical model cannot answer the questions of why there should be a universe for the model to describe. Why does the universe go to all the bother of existing?”
― Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time

Foreword
This edition of SPACEPLAN is an improved version of its free online prototype, that you can find with a simple web search. I find the full release to be more balanced, smoother and to have the addition of my favorite moment in the game: a brilliant ending sequence. The prototype is good to get the gist of it before buying, though.

General Impressions
As a space enthusiast, I wishlisted SPACEPLAN the moment I read its store description:

SPACEPLAN is an experimental piece of interaction based partly on a total misunderstanding of Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time.

Because of that, the game is around 4 hours long and follows a linear story. Those who buy SPACEPLAN looking for a clicker will probably be disappointed when it ends hundreds of hours before they expected it would. On the other hand, those who buy it looking for a story will probably be satisfied with the very peculiar and particular sci-fi universe the game creates.

The mechanics are the same of any other clicker game: click to produce more, buy upgrades to produce more. Rinse, repeat. To me, it's all very morose. SPACEPLAN's story, however, brought something new to the table that kept me captivated from start to finish: depth.

With a bloody fantastic soundtrack (seriously, there's a reason it costs the same as the game), quirky graphics, smooth sound effects and a pinch of the completely unexpected, SPACEPLAN sets itself apart not only in the clicker genre, but also in the sci-fi genre by a complete twist of a very simple premise: humanity's gone, and we must find it across the multiverse, jai guru deva om and all that.

Anyway, I strongly recommend SPACEPLAN to sci-fi enthusiasts, music lovers and those looking for a story woven seamlessly with interesting game mechanics. SPACEPLAN will not please all – if most – clicker fans but, if anything, it'll stand out.

I'm sure Stephen would have approved of this one.
Posted July 12, 2018. Last edited July 12, 2018.
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23 people found this review helpful
1.1 hrs on record
“I was perfect, and titanic, and serene. But then, as I moved through the cold abyss, I saw a light. And as I came near, I saw something... wonderful.”

In one word, (I Fell in Love With) The Majesty of Colors Remastered is “memorable”.

Foreword
The Majesty of Colors Remastered is a remake of the original 2008 game The Majesty of Colors. I recommend checking that out first as it is available for free on Kongregate and other websites. For the most part, my review serves for both.

General Impressions
The first time I played The Majesty of Colors must have been around 2010, and I was absolutely awe-struck. In a time where flash games were still quite trendy and indie games didn't have a strong presence in online stores like Steam, Majesty felt not only striking, but also like a nod at a rising trend of indie game development: to transpire in unspeakable ways the things that needed to be voiced.

During those years, I played loads of flash games that evoked in me feelings that big AAA titles simply didn't: Every Day the Same Dream made me dwell on depression through my own feelings of loneliness, Coma made me reflect on the sad reality of illnesses and Majesty – you guessed it – made me wonder about love.

Even if, 8 or so years later, I'm still as clueless about defining love as I was back then, I still hold Majesty as a paragon of how to do a brilliant job at exposing love, pain and misunderstandings into one, beautiful game. Albeit short, it features captivating pixel art, solid sound effects, a cute monster and, what I like the most and the whole game builds itself around: a (bittersweet) branching story.

Majesty Remastered
For lack of a better word, you can clearly tell lots of love was put into this game, and even more so on its remake. The Majesty of Colors Remastered has even prettier pixel art and smoother monster animations.

It was also a delight to find that, aside from all the great improvements made to the game itself, an “about” section was added explaining the creative process behind Majesty and the challenges faced while creating and, later, remastering it.

Thanks Gregory and Melissa for making me feel that deliciously warm nostalgia of replaying an old favorite. This one never lost its charm.

“The purest and most thoughtful minds are those which love color the most.”
― John Ruskin, The Stones of Venice
Posted July 10, 2018. Last edited July 10, 2018.
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16 people found this review helpful
8.1 hrs on record
General Impressions
Dissembler is a deceivably colorful and seemingly simple puzzle/logic game that gets more elaborate as you progress. There are 4 game modes: the basic levels, the daily sets, infinite relaxed mode and infinite hard mode.

All in all, Dissembler introduces something that I've seen implemented into very few puzzle games: planning. In order to solve any of its harder levels you MUST consider where you are and where you need to be. Simply shifting pieces randomly will generate floating tiles that can't be matched or end your game really quickly (in the case of infinite mode).

Dissembler, more than being worthy of the generic “puzzle” adjective, is also worthy of being called a logic game, where every move matters and, if it wasn't for its handy undo option (that funnily enough can also be activated by “ctrl+z”), would eventually drive you into a corner.

Here lies its most interesting trait: Dissembler stands out in the vast 2D puzzle scene by bringing to the table a kind of game that evolves through the levels not because it adds in more mechanics, but because it actually forces you to think harder about what the final move needs to be in order to beat it.

For completionists, there are 4 achievements: solve 20 levels (which should be easy enough), solve ALL the levels (pretty difficult when you reach the last 9 levels), solve a daily set (I recommend trying to get this after you've played most of the basic levels, as it uses several different mechanics) and get 100 points in infinite hard mode (which almost drove me insane).

It actually took me 7 to 8 hours to get all the achievements for Dissembler. No doubt if you get a better infinite board than I did and you're more patient than I am, you'll finish it sooner. Infinite mode aside, I recommend trying to figure out all the main puzzles on your own. Dissembler certainly is the kind of puzzle game that gives you, for each hard level solved, that fulfilling sense of pride and accomplishment.

I highly recommend Dissembler to puzzle enthusiasts and those looking for a new and challenging way to solve puzzles. I don't really recommend Dissembler for casual puzzlers or those that, like me, take getting all the achievements a little bit too seriously.
Posted July 10, 2018. Last edited July 10, 2018.
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Showing 1-10 of 62 entries