SORE – The Meaning Behind a Meaningless Game

I wonder if I got the job?     Did the interviewer like my resume?

I wonder if he enjoyed my personality?    Did he think I was boring?

I’m boring    What’s wrong with me?

Why am I so boring?    I need to change

 I hate myself

Without haste, people drift towards escalating problems easily to suit societies standards, similar to the example provided above. People always tend to search for the “bigger picture”, but when you look too much into the future, the smaller, simpler things can be overlooked. These insecurities can snowball until questions turn to issues, issues turn to actions, and actions can be fatal. Simple things can sometimes make the human mind very anxious and doubtful. Each case of anxiety is different, as the human mind is our most fascinating, yet fragile feature. Unless you suffer from the illness, you can never fully understand the heartache, but SORE gives you a taste in the life of uncertainty by providing just one task… simply leave a room.

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Before I continue, I must say that this review is based on my interpretation of SORE, the mystery behind the game is still unknown.

You begin this dark tale as a ghost stuck in a small room. The sounds of rain splashing against the roof fill your ears, accompanied by an occasional crack of thunder. Shadows engulf this chamber, with only a gleam of moonlight peaking its way through the one window in the room. Within the shadows sways a man, hung from the ceiling. It seemed as if suicide was his only option. The ideal scene set for SORE left me both apprehensive and curious in the best ways possible. Feeling uneasy but ready for more.

It will not take long to find out what your first objective is. Locate and use three keys to unlock the solid door restricting you from the neighboring room. SORE provides little to no information on why reaching the other room is of importance, making me feel no ambition in reaching my goal. SORE begins to get interesting once you peek your head through the window on the door. Interacting with the window allows you to see what the other room looks like. Is it gold? Is it a path to freedom? Is it an even more complex room? No… its a room just as simple, and just as eerie as the one you navigate through the whole game. The only difference is this room has a living man inside. He has the option of saying a variety of different phrases. Some are just random corny jokes, while others are clues to help you find the three keys. What lies in the middle of those two categories is rather disturbing nonsense. If you talk to this man long enough, he will begin to mention that we never talk back to him. It was then I realized something that made this game seem much more eerie… the man does not know we are dead. He cannot see us as a ghost, but instead a hanging corpse. Only his view of the rope is blocked by the walls of the room, so he can only see a motionless and silent man. To his awareness, we are very much alive and well.

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SPOILERS

The first two keys were uncovered rather quickly, but that third key kept me stumped. I spent about 45 minutes searching for the final key until I got hungry and retreated to my kitchen to make a sandwich. Upon my return, I saw the gleam of heavenly light shine out of the wall… the door was open. I entered to room with caution, expecting another set of challenges. The screen grew dark, and then an old-school computer crash screen appeared

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As anyone would be, I was left in confusion. I ran to my trusty friend, the internet, and read how to actually beat the game. The only answers I found left me in anger. There are two ways to beat SORE. You either stand still for six minutes or go up to the door and press “X”. Really? That’s it? Yup! From what the community has found so far, there is, in fact, no working key to unlock the door

I felt cheated…bitter…enraged! I just spent 45 minutes trying to find a key that didn’t exist. On top of that, the door leads to your game “crashing”, leaving you with numerous unanswered questions. I was ready to uninstall the game and abandon the review as a whole, but then I got to thinking. Yes, the game could just be bull**** to waste everyone’s time, or it could be much more profound. Upon looking deeper behind SORE’s unfulfilling story, I have come up with my interpretation of the ending.

Remember when I mentioned how “People always tend to search for the “bigger picture”, but when you look too much into the future, the smaller, more simpler things can be overlooked.”. That is exactly what this game intends for you to do, search for the bigger picture. Once I entered the world of SORE, I immediately started creating a checklist of what to do.

I have to search here, under that, and above there

No one would ever think that all you had to do was press one button, or stand still for six minutes. That would just be way too simple.

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SORE made me irritable. Not only at the game, but at myself as well. As each minute ticked by I was starting to blame myself for not being capable of finding this missing key. I finally gave up, thinking that this game got the best of me.

The pain and anguish could have all been avoided if I took my time and stuck simply. Overthinking can lead to much more pain than a problem has to be. While SORE may have been unfulfilling and quick, this dark mystery teaches a valuable lesson. The lesson is deep and is only understood if you take the time to attempt the impossible… finding that last key.

Enomview Score: 5 out of 10

Check out the game: http://store.steampowered.com/app/690060/SORE/

Figment – A Playful Approach to the Mind’s Trauma

Bedtime Digital Games is back with a new game called Figment. The action-adventure game released in late September of this year has the player controlling Dusty, a guardian of the mind who is needed once again. Chasing down the traumas inflicting the mind, Dusty and his trusty bird friend Piper, travel great distances to seek out and destroy the suffering. Their journey takes them around the brain to areas such as the appropriately named Cerebrum city and Freedom Isles. Join Dusty and Piper in a grand and beautiful world solving complex puzzles and defeating the anguish inflicting the mind once and for all.

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Starting up the game, I immediately plugged in my controller to see what Figment would best be played with. I was in for a pleasant surprise as the controller felt just as good in my hands as the mouse and keyboard, if not better. The vibrations, easy controls, and nostalgia of playing my Xbox sealed the deal for me as I continued the game with the controller. Figment includes more than just a story to follow and enemies to tackle. It includes many sections that aren’t mandatory to continue the story. These usually include memories or as the game calls them, “Remembranes”. One of these Remembranes includes a young boy named Todd who says “Go away, you jerk. I never want to play with you again!”. Remembrances are an insight into why the mind is experiencing all the trauma we see and fight.  You can also knock on the doors of local residents of the mind, and listen as they express their concerns or say a witty comment. Details like this make or break a game and Figment is definitely a stellar example of how including features like these really add to a game’s enjoyment.

The first 10 minutes of the game was basically an introduction to the mechanics and one of the main villains, Nightmare. Dusty obviously isn’t new to the whole saving the mind thing, as Piper drops many hints that they have known each other for a long time. Piper asks Dusty for help once again but he’s reluctant saying that the mind has moved on. Only when Dusty is personally affected by the Nightmare, a skinny purple entity with four arms who steals Dusty’s martini and scrapbook, that he decides to go after it. We retrieve his sword, solve an abundance of simple puzzles, and meet the mayor, who oddly talks only in rhymes, and sends us on a mission to destroy the three sources of trauma.

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From there Dusty and Piper travel into the right hemisphere of the brain, which is a huge change of scenery. We go from a dull, dark and rainy region of the brain, to a bright, vibrant and lively area which is no doubt in reference to a more creative part of the mind. Musical instruments are abundant as guitars, trombones and flutes are placed all over the land, some of which serve as plant life. Within the first five minutes of arriving, we are introduced to the second villain, Plague man. Plague man seems to take advantage of our fear of sickness as he spews toxic gas and summons rodents that sneeze and do damage. As a side note, I’m a fan of how Dusty dies in this game. If you take too much damage from the gas or the rodents, Dusty poofs away in a cloud of smoke only to quickly reappear at the last checkpoint. The death animation isn’t overly done and you are quickly returned to play the game once more.

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As you progress through the game, the puzzles become more and more complex. Figment isn’t a type of game that you can breeze through. It requires thinking, patience and the occasional YouTube walk through and for some people, this is their cup of tea.

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I’m sure we can all think of a period in our life where our heads were filled with darkness and despair. We all go through it, everything in our life isn’t going to go as perfectly as we’d like to. Sometimes we are troubled with anxiety, depression, and fear and this is what the game bases its story off of. The antagonists in the game are our real-life fears visualized as quirky and humorous villains that perform the occasional musical performances. They run like cowards as you bravely continue your journey to rid the minds of the difficulties. Figment takes a playful approach to the very grim realities many people face on a day to day basis. It’s a game for all age groups and each group will enjoy and analyze the game differently. In the end, Figment is about facing your fears and how life is just one big game that shouldn’t be taken too seriously.

I enjoyed many aspects of the game and had little to complain about. The dazzling and elegant world the game had to offer was one of its finest qualities. It was filled with detail with more than just a story to follow. Knocking on the doors of the inhabitants, I found myself curious about what everyone had to say. Perhaps if the residents walked out of their house, and showed their faces instead of just lighting up a window, it would’ve added to the game’s great design. Although the combat was light, it was solid enough. Figment isn’t entirely about combat but when you slay your enemies you get the feeling of satisfaction that makes you want to do it all over again.The combat can feel a bit frustrating at times as the enemies routinely disappear and reappear as they cycle through their abilities. This is mostly solved as some of the enemies share a health pool, so once one of them dies, so do the rest. The puzzles can sometimes seem overwhelming as the setting zooms out and you can see all the different parts that you have to deal with. However, completing one, especially a long complex puzzle gives you a sense of gratification that keeps the game moving. Finally, the musical performances add a great touch to the game. The catchy tunes are placed perfectly with the situations and I found myself humming to them sometimes. Overall the game has good combat, thought-provoking puzzles, fetching music and a diverse and stylish environment that connects to the ever-growing anxiety, depression, and sickness around the world.  

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Enomview Score: 8 out of 10

Check out the game: http://store.steampowered.com/app/493540/Figment/

Gates of Horn and Ivory – What If…

What would your life be like if you ended up in a coma right now? Would your family be the same, or would they be changed? Gates of Horn and Ivory is a simple game that takes you through Jack’s immerse experience in his comatose state after a car accident driving his wife and daughter to the hospital. Jack ends up in a dream-like world where he runs around searching for sparks of light to guide him out of his state. If he collects all the sparks of a specific color, he can gain new abilities which are needed to wake him from this nightmare. Meanwhile, his family still lives on, and he knows because he finds items that are scattered around the world, small clips of his wife talking to him, explaining to him highlights of important events. 

The game is filled with numerous puzzles which can only be solved through working out riddles and finding hidden clues throughout the world. Some problems are much more difficult than others, and some are simple enough that you don’t even need to find the solution to beat them. These puzzles unlock new areas and allow you to see more flashes of light which will, in turn, unlock more mysteries.

The beauty of this game is it isn’t just limited to the story. The artwork is impressive; awe-inspiring can only describe the background. The fluid movements of the dangling chains and moving steps work perfectly in time with the rhythm of the music as well, very light and peaceful, that can also have moments of suspense mixed randomly in.

Gates of Horn and Ivory is a beautiful game that teaches a valuable lesson about life and how we seem to always forget about how magical it is. Also, the devs have decided to have a small contest with the game’s release. There will be a speedrun competition starting on September 7th until the 30th, during this time the game will be on for a 30~% Discount and you can submit runs to speedrun.com to enter the contest. The best run on each category will receive a key for the game to give to a friend, and anyone who participates will receive 50~% off of their next game, TBA this year.

Descend into Dungeons – UnExplored

Descend into the depths of the Dungeon of Doom and complete your quest: steal the Amulet of Yendor from the fearsome dragon and make it out alive. Make your way deeper into the dungeon while fighting off the monsters and creeps that live there. Gather jewels and artifacts son your way to become a wealthy adventurer upon success, or to become a treasure trove for the next adventurer who stumbles upon your corpse. UnExplored is a roguelike game that makes good use of the term, with the minimal armor and slight movements, you truly feel like your life’s on the line in every room.

Right from the start you are given different options on game mode, anything from the basic easy/medium/hard, to a gold rush, a creature killing, and a timed mode. The games different modes all have high score boards which show the farthest you’ve gone each time and ranking how much gold you’ve returned with. Once you start the game, you are greeted by a shop menu, I recommend buying a couple items here, you’ll have slightly less gold coming out of the dungeon, but while inside it will help tremendously.

Once inside the dungeon the only ways out are to survive or to die, preferably the former. You will have to explore large caverns in order to find exits leading down and items to help you later on. Some of these items are weapons, others could be mysterious scrolls and potions that will not reveal themselves until you use one, some are good, like magic mapping which reveals the entire map, some are not good, like pain, which can deal enough damage to kill you twice over.

The enemies you will come across are not going to be easy, although most will go down with just a single hit, some, like the ogre, will be a brutal battle where you need to move in to strike and then retreat so as not to get hit by its enormous club.

The game has a good story to follow through the books you can collect and read throughout the dungeon, but it also has some very interesting special modes which enrich the story even more. In the timed mode, you are tasked with bringing down an evil cult and you must do it before they summon an ancient demon, your time starts as soon as you spawn and then it’s a race to find the exits and defeat the evils below.

Aside from gameplay, the graphics are very good and fit the theme of the game well, they are very simple and allow for a lot of imagination on what certain things can be. The music in the game is also very peaceful, it is soft but can pick up very quickly when enemies are nearby.

Unexplored is an amazing game and I highly recommend picking it up on the switch with a link placed below, it is also available on steam, which I will also link below. However, this review has been done for the switch version, if there are any differences between the switch and the steam versions I do not know about them.

 

 

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Burying the Dead – Graveyard Keeper

Ever wonder what it would be like to be in complete control of a graveyard? How it would feel to have to prepare the bodies and to eat chunks of their remains? Not the last part? Well with Graveyard Keeper you can do all of the above! Graveyard Keeper is a management sim game where you are the person in charge of running and taking care of a medieval kingdom, but it isn’t by choice. Your character was on his way home one night when he was struck by a car and killed, when he awoke he was in a medieval land and was told he would be in charge of the graveyard. After that it delves into how to maintain your graveyard, how the bishop will be ranking your graveyard, and the town nearby where you can have new shovels made, or get a drink at the bar.

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The game is energy based, meaning any action you do will cost you energy, but the good news is that you can regain the energy fairly easily. All you need to do to regain energy is cook some food, once the food is cooked and eaten you can get back to burying corpses. How you corpse part works is a little odd though, you are brought a corpse to bury, but first you have to bring it to the morgue and do simple surgery on it (remove parts of the flesh) and only then can you bury it in a grave. The bishop will visit you from time to time and give you a “style rating” on the graveyard, your style rating determines the types of graves and decorations you can have in your graveyard, which in turn raises the style rating even more.

The games tutorial is somewhat lacking in information, it gives you all the knowledge you should need to play the game, but doesn’t go very in depth on how to apply that knowledge. But aside from that there should be no trouble with learning how to play the game with no understanding of how management sims actually work. The music and sound effects in the game are also very good, they fit the theme and are quite appealing to listen to. As for the graphics, they chose to use a type of pixelated graphics, not so far as to be 8-bit, but not a stunning realism. That works out for it though as it allows for you to focus more on the matters happening in the game as oppose to the graphics accompanied by them.

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All in all the game is fun to play and it has a good feel to it. I hope to see a lot of excitement following this game release.

Get the game here: https://store.steampowered.com/app/599140/Graveyard_Keeper/

Grab your kids! – 60 Seconds

60-second warning before the bombs drop! Hurry- grab your kids, grab your wife, they’re dropping bombs up in here! Quick, grab some water, grab some canned food, grab your grandad’s rifle. You’ll be dead in a week if you don’t! No time for hesitation! Where is Timmy?!?! He is in the garage, throw him into the blast shelter. We need…. Bombs about to drop! Quick in the shelter or I’ll be toast as well. It is a good thing this was just a test, there were so many more things I could have grabbed. Well, that is until the tutorial is over. Can you survive a nuclear catastrophe?

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When a real bomb drops, who knows who will make it? You may not even get your whole family to a place of safety. Now not only would you have to survive in a cramped metal coffin, you’d have to deal with the loss of a loved one. In one minute, could you have all of your needed supplies to a place of survival? What do you grab? Even the simplest thing could lead to your demise, like a map. I mean in today’s world of smartphones, who has a map? With all these different things on your mind, “60 seconds” brings these aspects into a presentable format. A scary one at that.

Day one. All of us made it down to the shelter. In a distant life, we barely remember stocking this place with a radio and some other gadgets. It smells like mold and it’s tight. Some of us will be sleeping on cans tonight but at least we’re all safe. We barely had time to grab all of our necessities, but we have some cans of food and some bottled water. No need to worry about any robbers or the like, we have grandad’s shotgun. Now, at this point, the game has changed from a 3D grab everything run and gun to a still scene that is only narrated through a journal. The story is what makes this game replayable.

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However, after the initial rush is over it can be pretty dull after more than one play-through. The concept is great, attempting to survive in your fallout shelter. The rules are simple as well. Stay alive, and keep at least one adult alive. So in some regard, it is more worthwhile to send your children out to the waste because there is no penalty for losing them. If your adults die, then you lose. This aspect of the game can be pretty unrealistic because, in my mind, I wouldn’t want to lose my children.  Also, if you haven’t grabbed enough food, don’t fret, send someone to find some.

You can send one person at a time on an adventure that you don’t get to see but is narrated by your journal, and they can scavenge for supplies. The realism of the wear and tear on these members are shown when they return. There is also noticeable changes in members of your bunker as they need water and food. You’ll go days and days just continuing to maintain your rations, and hope that the military will save you. The radio and the map are the most important things for this to be successful. So which is it, will the military save you, or will you die?

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Marie’s Room – A Tale of Two Friends

Have you ever walked into a room and been immediately hit with a memory of a past event taking place in that very spot? Was it a good memory? A happy one? Or maybe a dark, and horrific one? The game Marie’s Room takes your character, Kelsey, through a memory trip twenty years into the past. A time when her only fear was her friend’s feelings. This title is a first-person game that takes place entirely in one house, or more specifically, one room. The room belonged to your best friend, Marie. Your goal was to locate an old journal but the nostalgia brings you back in time with eloquent visions. You begin to see her room as it was 20 years ago on the night of a disturbing occurrence.

As you walk around the stunningly created room interactable items start to make themselves known. Each item contains its own part to the grand-story and will help you better understand the troubles that Marie and Kelsey went through. The game creates a very deep depth to the story, giving even the most indistinct of objects meaning, something that we, as a society, don’t really do. As the plot progresses you can tell that something isn’t quite right. Masterfully created, the story starts to build with small hints that keep you on the edge of your seat while fitting pieces together in your head.

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Overall, the game only takes about a half-hour to complete. It’s a very short, but very compelling game that grasps you in right from the start and keeps hold of you until the very end. Aside from the story, there are many smaller details that were put into the game to further deepen and enrichen the story. Some examples being the empty bottle on the windowsill or even the random book on the table. Marie’s Room urges you to seek out those small, inconspicuous items.

Marie’s Room was created by a team of seven people, which is a spectacular feat. The story feels genuine and the characters are relatable. The graphics in the game are proportionate to the story-type. The items that can be interacted with blend in, which was a design choice that I found perfect for building the world. You can even hear faint noises between dialogue. Small things you would hear from a person shuffling through a room. This game is perfect for anyone who loves indie games and is ready for an amazing, heart-tugging story.

You can get this game free here: https://store.steampowered.com/app/648390/Maries_Room/

You can also check out the development process here:
https://www.kennyguillaume.com/blog/

 

An Outlawed Mage – Mages of Mystralia

A young mage born in a land where magic is banned, what do you do? Well, you didn’t know you were a mage until one night while weeping you burn down your cottage and now the whole world knows. Cast aside and thrown into the woods, you start your quest. Ashamed of what you are, you set out with the hope that you’ll be able to master your abilities and prove that you aren’t as terrible as everyone believes. You’re approached by a man who calls himself “mentor”, and he claims to be your mentor. He makes some remarks about either “be a mage or die,” and then lets you rest up at his home. After a quick rest, he sets you on a path to find a hidden mage village to learn your trade. At this point, you realize your mentor is a lazy sack of potatoes and he isn’t going to help you at all. No big deal, you’re an adventurer.

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Now, by this point, you’ve probably read mountains of text and endured credits during gameplay. The game is very beautifully put together, and the artwork style is fantastic. However, it seems that the introduction transition over to gameplay phase is extremely drawn out. Don’t fret, the storyline is well worth it, young mage. As long as you don’t step in the Enchanter’s flower bed, all will be well. Actually, maybe you should step in his flowerbed so that you can learn more about the side quest of finding flowers for his garden. This will teach all those kids to get off my lawn! No, but seriously. You should talk to everyone, and explore all avenues in this game or you may miss another unique characteristic of gameplay. So fall into a river.

After leaving your “mentors” home, you soon fall through a bridge and float down a river. An untrained mage lost in the woods, with no help… What could go wrong? Luckily for you, you stumble upon an ancient and wise spellbook. It speaks to you telepathically, “this one will do”. Unsuspectingly, this mage book is more of a mentor then the one who calls himself of that name. He trains you how to use the four basic spells, and instead of a tutorial helps ease you into the game. It keeps the learning curve low as new elements are introduced, and who doesn’t love a talking spellbook? After a small journey, you reach your destination. There he is. Your mentor again.

Well where have you been?! Mentor should have had another name like lack-of-skill, too bad they don’t name characters in this game like Argonians in Skyrim. At this point, he pretty much tells you that you skipped all the tutorial stuff and are ready to be out on your own. That mages learn by doing. Well, I guess we’re expert mages now! At this point, you’re on your own to explore the land and restore magic back to Mystralia. Where better to start then to clear the forest of corruption? Nowhere, except from saving a young lady from goblins and grabbing her husband to clean up the mess.

Now I won’t go too much further when it comes to the storyline and gameplay. But I will talk about how this adventure-puzzler is like no other. Crafting unique spells to puzzles, saving Mystralia, and adventuring like there is no tomorrow. What makes this game so unique is that the same puzzle can be solved several ways depending on how you craft your spell, same with how a boss can be defeated several different ways depending on your spells and play style. Mages of Mystralia is a game like no other when it comes to spell-crafting. If Zelda was about spell crafting, this would be one of its many iterations. I look forward to game updates and sequels. I really hope they come out with multiplayer.  For now, I’ll enjoy the game a few more times until I’ve worn out the replayability.

A World in Need of Power – Plug Me

In a city run off of battery power, an evil man named Doc. Oxyde wishes to destroy it all by unplugging all of the power supplies. But thankfully, our hero Plugman is able to use his plug-like head to stop the draining of power and re stabilize the city. Plugman journeys through a series of five worlds each consisting of nine normal levels and one boss level. On each level there are battery packs which you can try to collect if you’re up for a real challenge.
Plug Me is a simple concept platformer game, but it brings it up a notch with the timer aspect. Each leveled is timed to just a couple of seconds to complete, and the timer is in the center of the screen. The gimmick is that the timer is also a platform that can be used in the game, so as the timer runs out, the platform will disappear along with it, so you need to reach the end before time runs out, or the city will start to lose its power. Each level brings in new difficult obstacles as well, like spikes, spinning spikes, and even falling bricks to block your escape.     The game seems short having only 52 levels in it, but once those levels are beaten you will unlock “hard mode” this is a mode where everything is made more difficult for the people who enjoy a challenge. I’m not sure if you just need to beat all of the levels though, or if you also need to get all of the plugs scattered throughout the levels too.
The music in the game is good music for a game, it has an upbeat tone to it while trying to keep a peaceful aspect, but it also changes. If you die five times in a row on a level, it will change to a faster music, and it will stay that way until you complete the level. All your death streaks also appear on the screen as they happen in sets of five, as if the game is reminding you how difficult it truly is. Also, if you end up with 10 deaths in a row, your pal Evinrude will help you out by eliminating an obstacle of the level.
I personally am not that great at platformer games, and this one is no different. I tried to beat the first couple of worlds and I got stuck about halfway through world two. The game has a small following of people who really enjoy it and I’ve talked with them about the game a little bit as well, most of them say that they had a bit of trouble their first few times playing the levels, but now they feel like the levels are much easier for them to complete knowing where to go.
I enjoyed the game and will definitely go back to it and try again to beat the levels I missed, a very good game that deserves a try from anyone willing to.