In June of last year I made my Select Start Media debut with a review of a charming (if slightly wacky) “classic point-and-click adventure with a black African twist” called The Journey Down. With the music and atmosphere of Monkey Island and style and character design I’d never really seen before, the game felt familiar but fresh and I enjoyed the time I spent with it. You can imagine my excitement, then, when I found out that chapter two of this interesting tale had been released more than a year later, and I was able to revisit this dark and mysterious world with the bumbling protagonist Bwana.
The first Memento Mori game came out in 2008, and until about six months ago it was one of those games that sat in my Steam library unplayed and unnoticed. When I found out I’d be reviewing the second one, I thought I’d do the fair thing and give it a playthrough, so that I could truly give Memento Mori 2 the thoroughly researched review that it deserved. As it turns out, I think I would have been better off if I hadn’t, because maybe then I wouldn’t have noticed some of the blaring flaws with this frequently confusing and inconsistent game.
It is much easier to write a negative review than a positive one. With this in mind, this one was honestly pretty easy to write, and I’d better just note the things I liked here while I remember: music is sufficiently funky and aesthetic quality ideal, despite the low production value on each.
For whatever it is worth, Growing Pains is a technically well-made arcade platformer with strong variation in difficulty and an attempt at a unique idea. Realistically though, it is yet another addition to a sorely saturated market; the masochistic and unnecessarily timed trial-and-error competitive flash games played by school students in class and no one else; in a perfect world, anyway. With the number of these games being pumped out by independent studios that could be otherwise producing actual entertainment, it appears there is some sort of market for this trash, which saddens me deeply.
Independent games were once renowned for the extra effort invested in original plot, characters and at least an attempt at interesting dialogue, while triple-A titles pushed forward interesting gameplay concepts. With big-name developers now competing to see who can be as derivative as possible, we rely on independents to conceive gaming elements intriguing enough to prevent the gaming world from becoming an industry-servicing industry, pumping out bland, generally acceptable titles that appeal to wider audiences to maximise sales, using the profits from last year’s sequel-fest bland-o-rama.
Project Temporality investigates some potential game-saving concepts but is one of the most derivative independent titles in regards to the extra-curricular gaming elements that we’ve ever seen. Somewhere along the line, tables have turned.
As a non-combative first-person survival horror, it was inevitable that indie title Among the Sleep would be compared to Amnesia: The Dark Descent, and this toddler-based game conjures similar feelings as the much longer and larger Amnesia, particularly that widespread feeling of pants being shat in. At least in Among the Sleep you’ll already be wearing a nappy.
The title of best point-and-click game goes to an instalment in a much loved franchise that involves literally just pointing and clicking (as it should, I suppose), but that has managed to evoke such emotion that past games have brought me to tears.
Ahh, Wolfenstein. After almost single-handedly inventing the genre in 1992, the Wolfenstein series has struggled to stay relevant, releasing a handful of mediocre titles and non-canon multiplayer tie-ins over the last twenty years. Spoiler alert: Wolfenstein is back, and it’s making old-school sensibilities cool again.
Wolfenstein: The New Order is only the fourth title in the Wolfenstein series of first-person shooters (sort of, let’s not get into pedantics here) that started with id Software’s Wolfenstein 3D and essentially paved the way for all entries in the genre to follow. It was developed by on the id Tech 5 engine by debutants MachineGames, a studio mostly comprised of veterans from Starbreeze Studios (of Riddick and the Darkness fame.) Set in an alternate reality, the Axis forces (more specifically, the Nazis–I didn’t see any RSI imagery in the game) have won World War II by way of incredibly advanced technology and forced the Allies to their knees. As series staple protagonist William “B.J.” Blazkowicz, Nazi-killer extraordinaire, it’s your job to go up against your old pal General William “Deathshead” Strasse–or, as he calls himself, Totenkopf–and his arsenal of Nazi robots.