One day, you find a stranger's phone and pick it up to examine it. As you start to dig through it, though, it isn't long before the phone's built-in software, IRIS, senses something is amiss. "Where is Sara?" it demands of you, asking for its owner. It becomes clear that you're going to need to help find Sara, and that this knock-off intelligence system is quite capable. You interact with it in a realistic mockup of a smartphone interface, inputting commands, flipping through apps, and typing in questions or comments with a prefilled palette of options.
Life is full of adventures, and in A Tale of Caos: Overture, you dive straight into a particularly fantastic one. Playing as female protagonist Terribilia Van Quinn (or Terry, for short) under the direction of your master Albion McMaster and alongside your trusty mechanical avian friend Heimlich, you set off on a dangerous mission to obtain a dangerous artifact. But things are not as simple as they seem, with McMaster shrouding himself in mystery, secrecy, and cunning, compounded by the naivety and impulsive, whimsical nature of Terry.
Mirror mirror on the wall, who's the doll-est of them all? Could it be YOU? Have you ever played with dolls as a kid, or maybe as an adult too? When you wake up in The Puppet Master, it turns out that it's time for a bit of role reversal! Your reflection in the mirror confirms your suspicion that your soul has been trapped in doll form, and you are soon accompanied by a voice of a woman. Simply solve a few puzzles and try not to cringe too badly at inaptly timed puns, and you will have your body returned to you. Fair enough, right?
You've probably heard the siren call of a midnight snack or had a thirst for water at least once. But in Atelier Sentô's point-and-click adventure Yûrei Station, something deeper and darker is at play. You play as a girl who sneaks out at the crack of dawn, careful not to disturb her parents, who wouldn't know what is going on anyway. Sitting in a train compartment in the pre-dawn hours, a heavy presence abruptly sits beside you, sending shivers up your spine. Not daring to get up, your phone suddenly receives a message. "I see you..."
We humans are unfortunately not equipped for flight, though it doesn't necessarily mean this experience is beyond us thanks to a delightful, lovingly designed bird simulator called Fruits of a Feather. Developed by the brilliant team behind Screencheat known as Samurai Punk, players take control of a bird, similar to a hawk or eagle, and can freely fly around a self-contained, low-poly rendered island. The island is devoid of other animal or human life but densely lush; great trees rise along the banks of a river that cuts through the island, lily pads floating lazily in its gentle current. Grasses line the shores and coastlines, magnificent mountains stand proudly capped white with snow. Dotted around the map are fruits of varying shapes, growing on the ground, in caves, and on trees. There are 192 in all, and they stand as your only objective. Fruits can be collected by simply flying into them. Sounds pretty easy, right?
When you receive a note from an old friend Joey from decades past asking you to help investigate something, you naturally agree to come stop by. Even if that something is in a house possessed with a feeling of melancholy. And spooky objects scattered throughout the compound, along with a creepy picture of some sort of doll, haunt you. Not to mention, the aforementioned friend is nowhere to be seen at the moment. No, none of those are red flags, because you are a good longtime friend, and you are here to investigate this wonder.
Sometimes there's nothing more relaxing or refreshing than a rainy day. There's a zen-like sort of peace found in listening to the droplets pattering against the ground and taking in the clear and wonderful fresh air. Unfortunately, we can't always take the time to enjoy the rain when it rolls through which is what makes a game like Rain in the Month of January such a delight.
Only by completing the seven trials will you earn your wings in Daniel Linssen's Birdsong. You are a young bird leaving the nest for the first time. As you leave, the world seems to stretch out before you, so that it's all in view but just out of your reach.
You can move your character with [A] and [D] or the arrow keys, and jump with either [W], the [Up] key or [Spacebar]. Pressing [Enter] at certain pedestals builds a nest, which functions as a save point, and [R] resets you to your last save point. The entire game is one large area which you'll explore in order to collect twigs to build nests with, find medallions to bring you closer to your wings, and activate pedestals to grant you abilities like higher jumps or wall-jumping. Certain parts of the world won't be accessible until you gain certain abilities, and you'll spend the game exploring until every part of the world is within reach.
With its simple but evocative pixel-art style, Birdsong creates a moody and mysterious world, whose puzzles are both satisfying and fiendishly difficult. Don't be surprised if you find yourself plunging to your death more than a few times, it's all part of the journey.
It's a familiar story for many of us old enough to have lived it. Mae Borowski, 20 years old and newly a college dropout, returns to her hometown of the formerly prosperous mining town of Possum Springs in Western Pennsylvania, only to find that the train station is closed and her parents have forgotten to come pick her up.
Remember that cringe-worthy thing you said to that really important person that one time? How about the time you took a tumble in front of your entire school? Or when you slept through your alarm and were late to a job interview?
Wouldn't it be great if you could manipulate time and make those moments disappear?
You're in a city of thousands with a small cache of emergency professionals at your disposal. A call comes in, a report, another call, a few more reports, and suddenly all your units are busy responding to other emergencies. A car accident, a robbery, a kitchen fire, an altercation in the street, an unconscious man on the sidewalk. Another call comes in and it's something worse: a serious industrial accident, the victim barely holding it together over the line. You look to your map and see the nearest ambulance is miles away. What do you do? What can you do?
When the stress of life sneaks up on you, as it does to us all, sometimes it's nice to take a break from the real world and check into the virtual one instead. But sometimes even our favorite games can be stressful themselves with their challenges to accomplish, achievements to unlock. Timers, metrics, collectibles, forgetting to save, running out of extra lives...
Spoilers ahead! Kentucky Route Zero is an episodic point-and-click game in five acts. Before you dig deep into Act II, please do consider enjoying Act I first.
The Big Old Tree that Dreams came into our lives a few years ago, unfolding the fantastic universe of the Forest Bed, and telling the story of one character, Myosotis, The Trader of Stories. With Bell's Heart it got our curiosity, giving us a great and unique adventure. With A Grain Of Truth it got our attention, giving us some crumbs about that universe, and creating questions that should be answered. And now the Rudowski brothers brought up a new game that might answer some questions, this time unraveling the story of The Trader of Stories herself from its very beginning.
Graphics are beautiful, as always, in Skutnik's special, atmospheric style. For navigation and action, use the keyboard controls. No words are needed here.
Be brave, go and kick 2016 out! And enjoy.Play Where is 2017?
Good fortune (and fun!) will come to those who dig through the archives.