Every week we like to feature some of the freshest, most interesting games we can find, but we can’t get them all. Unfortunately that means that some games fly under our radar. This week I’d like to make amends for that. None of the games this week came out super recently, but they’re all worth your time.
As I went to research this article I was sure I had already covered the Letter, but a quick search turned up no results. Let’s fix that. The Letter is a horror visual novel that borrows as much from The Ring as it does from other games. You control a half a dozen characters as they enter and exit each other’s lives and manage a real estate deal involving a mansion on the outskirts of town. But where does The Ring influence come in? You might ask. Well on the first day of these character’s worst week ever, they find the titular Letter and it invites an evil into their lives.
The Letter is a game that could have been a derivative plod that re-tells its obvious influences, but it manages to break away and form its own identity through its multiple playable characters and absolutely gorgeous art. The Letter isn’t a game that veers wildly outside of established horror visual novel conventions but it absolutely nails everything it attempts.
A Case of Distrust feels like a game that is impossible for me not to like. It’s a detective game (one of my favorite genres) set in San Francisco (my city) that takes place in the 1920s (a thoroughly under-represented decade). Strangely enough, for a game with such a great grasp on what makes a good mystery, the description of the game on its store page is anything but. Developer Ben Wander writes, “This game is a blend of the board game Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective, the adventure games 80 Days and Phoenix Wright, the poster design of Saul Bass, and the hard-boiled novels of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler.” and all of that is accurate.
Fans of visual novels will immediately recognize the trappings of the games mechanics, and avid readers of mystery novels will see the best of the form represented in A Case of Distrust. The game’s middle sections drag on a little long, but that’s just about the only negative thing I can say about the game. If you’re at all interested in mysteries, or want to uncover a noir San Francisco you’ll love A Case of Distrust.
I had to add Monolith to this list at the last minute. I’ve been watching SGDQ all week and when I saw a game I didn’t recognize I was immediately intrigued. Monolith is Gradius by way of Binding of Isaac and grows past any sort of easily definable pedigree. Sure all of the levels are generated like Binding of Isaac, and yeah the upgrades are a sort of Raiden/ Gradius fusion but once the game is in motion it becomes its own beast. The action is fast and furious while you fire off shots in a screen that is increasingly full of enemy bullet patterns.
Monolith is a game that I’m embarrassed to have missed, but you can succeed where I failed and pick it up now.
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