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/

Help a Dwarf in His Time of Need! – Ruggnar

Ruggnar feels like an old game. One that you’d find on your emulator and say “Oh, wow! I remember this game,” then sit there for an hour trying to beat it again. Composed of mysterious yet inspiring music, Ruggnar, which I assume is the name of the main character, features a bearded dwarf harboring a candle on his head. His sole objective is to collect golden coins and keys to escape the dungeon. The game has three chapters for story mode and two miscellaneous modes: random dungeons and daily dungeons, both of which require the player to complete Chapter 1 of the story mode to unlock. Join Ruggnar and help light up his path to victory!

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Immediately after launching the game you are presented with a screen letting you know that a controller is recommended for playing this game. Getting my controller ready, I first made sure that I wouldn’t rather be using my mouse and keyboard. The menu screen is navigated using the arrow keys and with enter to select. The menu screen is simple and includes the title of the game, navigational buttons, and Ruggnar, who says “I need some help. Do you want to try?” After selecting play and the first chapter on story mode, I noticed something interesting. The game included its own online leaderboard with users and their times for completing the level. Even the tutorial had a number-one time at 14.112 seconds. I thought to myself “I could probably beat this”, but after 10 frustrating minutes I gave up with a personal best of sixteen seconds. I decided it was time to delve into the actual game.

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The game revolves around your candles, whether that be the one on top of your head or the multiple that you have at the start of each level. Parts of the dungeon that aren’t already lit up by chandeliers, lava or any other light source are darkened, restricting your vision and leaving you in the dark (literally). To light the area up and see what you’re doing you have two options: move to dark spaces and risk getting killed by something you can’t see, or throw your candles and watch as it lights up the area on which it falls. Although you only have a limited amount of candles to start with, you can pick up more around the dungeon. Beware as waterfalls can extinguish the flame on top of your head, requiring you to relight the candle using one of your own. Each dungeon contains traps to kill you. These include swinging axes, spikes, lava and much more. Checkpoints, which are shown as candelabras, are littered throughout the dungeon so you don’t pull your hair out trying to finish a level. I say that because unless you’re extremely patient, you will die many times.

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The main reason will be because of a lack of knowledge on where to go and how to complete the dungeon. When you die, you leave behind a tombstone with a candle on top, creating a handy light source. Another aspect of the game are the items that you can find and pick up around a dungeon. These include a feather, enabling you to jump much higher and run faster and a light which removes all the darkness in a level for a short period of time. The dungeons get more and more complex as you continue, often requiring some time to figure out a level before beating it. The biggest potential for this game is speedruns. I can already see that the developer has this in mind because of the leaderboards. I found myself wanting to speed through each level but failing as I didn’t know the layout of the map. More experienced players can definitely make this game known for its speed run capabilities by showing off their skills as they complete each level at record time.

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The use of candles throughout the game was an interesting mechanic, but one that I didn’t find much use out of. In my experience, running through the level and using trial and error was the quickest way to complete a dungeon. Perhaps it was my lack of patience that made me choose the speedrun method, however I can’t imagine many people using the candles for their actual purpose. They have a small area of effect and take a little too long to throw. Your tombstone provides a better source of light and even acts as a little reminder so know if you need to watch out for anything. Although the music consists of one looped soundtrack, I found it fitting the game perfectly. It was mysterious, yet encouraged you to continue the level to see what you could find. The old-fashioned artwork helped give the game a nostalgic feeling, enticing players who desire games that bring back memories.

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One thing to keep in mind throughout this review is that Ruggnar is still in Alpha. It’s in its early stages but I hope to see some new elements and improvements in the near future. The potential for speed-runs in this game is huge and could be its main attraction drawing players in. Overall the game offers challenging and solid puzzles to complete, a peaceful and mysterious soundtrack all accompanied by the compelling artwork.

Enomview Score: 7 out of 10

Ruggnar Early Access: https://sirill.itch.io/ruggnar

Countdown to Telltale’s Minecraft: Story Mode Season 2 Finale

Three days remain until Minecraft: Story Mode’s season two finale gets released. The extremely popular series by Telltale has become well known in the Minecraft community, attracting YouTubers and streamers alike. The point and click/choose your own path game focuses on a plot which is based on the ever so popular sandbox game, Minecraft. The player completes puzzles, decides where to go, and most importantly, chooses the dialogue between characters. Subsequently, the end-game depends on the path the player chooses to follow, not what the game forces you to. Many other popular games have taken this approach, a more popular one being The Walking Dead.

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Season one of Minecraft story mode comprises of eight episodes, each a little more than an hour long. If playing more than eight hours of story mode doesn’t sound appealing, countless videos of people playing and completing the game are all on YouTube. I recommend getting your popcorn ready and clearing up three hours of your day as you’ll quickly get drawn in. You can buy the game for $25.99 on steam and play the first season for free for a limited time only. You better go quick, as the season finale is supposed to be mind boggling!

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Check out the game: http://store.steampowered.com/app/639170/Minecraft_Story_Mode__Season_Two/
Season 1 free demo: http://store.steampowered.com/app/376870/Minecraft_Story_Mode__A_Telltale_Games_Series/

Alto’s Adventure – The Perfect Harmony of Winter, Snowboarding, and Music on the Go

On its cover, Alto’s adventure is just a simple snowboarding game, but after enjoying it, you realise there’s more than meets the eye. When you boot up Alto’s adventure for the first time, you are greeted by a beautiful mountaintop and are thrown right into the game. The gameplay is basic, yet engaging.

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Outstanding visuals in minimalist format

The core structure of the game is snowboarding down a vast, serene mountain. You collect points by hi-fiving llamas (Yes, we said llamas), and collecting coins. By tapping the screen for various amounts of time, you can jump and execute flips, also collecting points that add to your overall score at your run’s end. With coins you can purchase a multitude of one-time use items such as revives, allowing you can continue your game after hitting an obstacle. Next to the transitory items, you can find the permanent upgrades. You can use your coins to buy power-ups that can be found while snowboarding. Those powerups, such as coin magnets, can be upgraded to last longer and appear more often. Although the game has only a few key obstacles to watch out for, when you do encounter them, you must take heed.

At one point of the game, you are being chased by “The Elder”, an enemy that snowboarding behind you. You must avoid him in order to progress. Other than that, the only other obstructions to watch out for are the rocks and your own self-error.

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Due to the simple, yet soothing gameplay, I wasn’t able to sustain gameplay for over a long period of time, but the aspects that keep me reminiscing are the stunning graphics visuals and soothing music. The game has a unique art style rarely found in the app store. Alto’s Adventure also includes time cycles, switching between day and night, complementing the snowy environment in amazing ways. Blending with the visuals perfectly is the soothing soundtrack. It keeps you calm and practically pacifies your heart rate.

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Alto’s adventure is still just a simple snowboarding game with simple mechanics and gameplay. It’s the charming visuals and beautiful music make the app greatly stand out from its peers. You can pick up this game on your respective app store for $4.99, which is a bargain for this caliber of game.

Enomview Score: 9 out of 10

Check out the game: http://altosadventure.com

Dungeon Rustlers – The Revival of Old-School Dungeon Crawlers

Remember the pleasure of the old-school 8-bit games you would attempt to master at the arcade after school. The enjoyment, yet simplicity, of slaying the visible pixels that stand before you. Dungeon Rustlers brings that nostalgia out of the arcade and into our homes. Choose between a Knight, Archer, or Mage to take on 50 levels, and the 7 unique and challenging enemies of this retro epic of a dungeon crawler. Dungeon Rustlers challenges worthy players to hack-and-slash through waves upon waves of tenacious enemies. Although you can only begin your anticipated adventure on PC, it does offer full controller compatibility for those console players who are willing to attempt the vigorous task of reaching the 50th level.

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I felt a strong attachment to this game the second I began my adventure in level one. As an avid player in games like Realm of the Mad God and Gauntlet,  I feel as if much of the world is missing out on these old-school adventure games. It’s not hard to see that the retro-90’s genre is fading away, and with new generations being exposed to the higher class games of today, pixelated dungeon crawlers could be pushed toward extinction. Luckily, companies like Zimventures brought us Dungeon Rustlers.

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Before you begin the climb to victory, you must first choose one of three classes. The bold and ruthless knight can unsheathe her mighty sword to make her enemies cower in the face of death. As you progress through the levels your sword acquires the ability to shoot arrows from its blade, causing the slaughter of annoying slimes to be much more satisfying. If you ever find yourself on the brink of death, do not be afraid to activate your force field and flea the scene to regain health.

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The archer, my personal favorite, weaves her frost arrows from her quiver, leaving her enemies frozen and slowed. While the archer is given less health than the knight, she is more than capable of conducting an equal amount of destruction. The Archer’s class ability allows you to heave frozen walls in both the front and back of your player, causing enemies to be halted and slowed where they stand. With her frozen bow in hand, no enemy would dare step in your path.

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The final warrior would be the fire conjuring Mage. Spitting fireballs out of each hand, the Mage can melt any enemy it may come across. If ever in a crisis, the Mage can activate his special ability and summon a ring of fire around him, damaging enemies and keeping them away. While the mage can easily shred through the skeletons roaming in the dungeons, you only need to be hit twice in order to die.

All three classes are capable of upgrading their basic attacks and summoning floating helpers to aid in the adventure. Upgrading basic attacks will increase both the effectiveness of each hit and the number of shots being volleyed out of your weapon. The purchasable helpers will stand by your side and synchronize their attacks with yours, causing two more bullets to be added alongside your barrage of attacks. All of these upgrades can be purchased with gold found within in each level.

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Dungeon Rustlers eases players into the game by providing appropriate increasing increments of difficulty, making each level seem accommodating, but no walk in the park. Around level ten, I did feel as if the upgrades for basic attacks made each level executable with ease. Similar to training in Call of Duty: Zombies, I would find myself dragging enemies behind me, eventually turning around and unleashing the power of my triple shot weapon. All of the enemies would perish, and I would repeat the cycle like clockwork. While many levels seemed like they should have been more difficult, I did find myself on the edge of my seat for a select few. Once you die, you are not brought to the title screen to replay the game right away. Instead, you respawn where you last were, but are missing all of the valuable upgrades and power-ups needed to withstand the forces of the current level. This shouldn’t pose as much of a problem during the early levels, but dying around level 30+ could be fatal. You begin with three lives and once all have dispersed, your journey is over. You can then attempt to climb the levels with a new character or beat your best times on the previous character.

Zimventures based Dungeon Rustlers on racing through levels and clearing them fast. They encourage players to repeat the game to shatter their previous times. After each level, you can view your best time, and where you stand on the compared to other players. I could imagine the replay potential, as well as the appeal to speedrunners in taking on Dungeon Rustlers and smashing the leaderboards.

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The music choice for this game was amazing and fitted the tone to appeal towards old-school players. The mix of an epic dungeon crawler and retro-electro style tunes and beats, made me taste the sweetened luxury of being in a 90’s arcade. I did stumble upon a few glitches that left me dead for no reason, but I do understand that the game is still in early access and is not yet fully patched. I do wish Dungeon Rustlers offered more playable characters and diverse combat styles between them. Dungeon Rustlers’ 50 levels can be purchased for $3.99 on the steam marketplace today.

Enomview Score: 7.2 out of 10

Check out the game: http://store.steampowered.com/app/713450/Dungeon_Rustlers/

Flightless – A Free Game that Somehow had me Questioning Life

Life is hard. No one ever said it wasn’t. The doctor who delivered us didn’t offer us any legal form stating that we’ll get it easy. Sure, some people roll the dice and are born into the upper echelons of humanity, living without a care in the world. Even if we’re lucky enough to lead such an easy life, we’re linked to the strings of our morality. I can honestly say Flightless offered me an escape from those harsh realities. For 20 minutes of my existence, I was a body without a care in the world. My only purpose? Get from red square to red square.

Flightless offers impeccable quality, impactful design, and a profoundly soothing music choice all in a game smaller than 50 megabytes. On top of all that, I think the greatest service the game provides is being free, offering an independent place to seek refuge in such a complicated world. The basic, yet moving designs perfectly line up with the peaceful aesthetic. Personally, minimalistic and pixel-based games are my favorite, Flightless not being an exception.

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I will honestly say that the 20 minutes that I spent playing the game felt more like a pleasurable break rather than researching a game for this site. It washed away the doubts and insecurities I feel about putting so much effort behind a website that might not even break through the mold. 

Besides the thought-provoking aspects (that probably didn’t even mean to provoke thought) of the game, the root constructs of the game weren’t all too original. In a way, you could compare the core concept of the game to Super Hot, in that the world and all it’s obstacles only move when you do. This causes you to predict and plan for the future that waits for you. 

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Puzzles included classics like the ice beneath you shattering and a slippery floor that stops when you hit an object, walkable ground, or when you plainfall off the map. There were some obstacles I haven’t seen before such as moving spike balls that require prediction to evade. Retractable spikes that change with every step were also present. One more aspect that I enjoyed with the actual mechanics were having to back travel once or twice to get to the next level. It made the game feel whole to me, like a world with more than one set path.

With the game sadly lasting a mere 20 minutes, I can’t offer much more of an in-depth analysis. Of course, we hope that the game is extended and look forward to any and all work that Bristol Street Studios release.

Enomview Score: 9 out of 10

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Get The Game: http://store.steampowered.com/app/731770/Flightless/