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Callum John

A member registered Nov 05, 2016 · View creator page →

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I cannot sing enough praises for this game. Expertly written, Secret Little Haven is nothing short of a time capsule. It handles dark and sensitive themes with an unusual level of care. Each of the characters are distinct and likeable, with Alex Cole themselves being a particular standout in terms of charm and believability. The occasional dips into horror whenever John entered the narrative were a welcome change of pace and featured some creative scares that further emphasised the bitterness of the situation. I ended up making a serious effort to continue their fanfiction despite the fact I could have just written the word "butts" 481 times and cheesed the game's lack of insight. It's not flawless of course, the UI has a fair number of bugs and glitches involving windows getting stuck on top of each other and one puzzle getting me stuck for more than an hour could have used an extra hint (I didn't realise "Y O U R desktop" meant the actual desktop of your Windows 10 PC and not the virtual desktop in the game's executable). But it's absolutely worth the five dollars I would have paid had I not received it in a bundle.

This is really good. Having to build sentences out of a pool of fragments is a surprisingly engaging way of doing video game conversations. I had to think very seriously about each option in a way I probably wouldn't have if it was just a regular dialogue tree. Games about a relationship already in progress are rare so it's nice to play one written with great attention to detail. If I had to say one thing it's that I got the best ending on the first try so maybe it's a bit too easy? I'm not sure.

This just made me very happy indeed.

She is pretty cute!

This game plays upon my specific fears of the deep ocean and being locked in a tiny space, which makes it perfect before-bed playing material. Every single aspect of this game was top notch from the sound design to the visuals. There wasn't a single scare that didn't get me. It took me a while to realise what I had to do (I didn't realise that the map is divided into quadrants which affect the co-ordinates on the display) but once I did I was on the edge of my seat!

From the moment I opened the game I never felt safe - the pacing here is phenominal. This is one of few games to make me feel genuine paranoia. I felt a constant need to keep my little sub moving, checking over my shoulder even though - as far as I could tell - I wasn't being chased by anything. I'd be surprised if there were actual enemies in the game to avoid. The sound design is so good that they could have just been suggested to me.

I was so glad to be done with the game that I almost missed the secret co-ordinates on the end credits screen...

Dare I wonder what they lead to?

I've had my eye on this one for ages. Now that I've finally got around to reading it, I must say that it's an inspiring work of horror fiction that kept me guessing right up until the end.

Speaking of which; the inclusion of a post-credits scene means that this story technically has two endings. Each one has a very different emotional tone and yet both of them are canon. I have no idea how to feel about this, but it didn't detract from my enjoyment.

I am indeed disturbed.

What a horrendous waste of my time. I was genuinely looking for a real dating sim visual novel and from the moment I saw the "this game is not for the easily disturbed" warning at the beginning I was sorely disappointed. The writing is so bad and it wears it's inspiration on its sleeve so much it's overdressed and now you can't see its hands. Not in the mood for horror right now.

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I never knew I wanted a mash-up between Shadow of the Colossus and Jaws, but now it's here, it just seems so frigging obvious I'm surprised no-one thought of this before.

So all that creepy subtext was intentional? Could've fooled me. I had a feeling that you were buying some kind of tanning product from the shop, but I saw a possible negative connotation I saw that might have been overlooked. I'm glad it isn't that.

Also the game is set in northern England! That's cool. I feel that's a pretty under-utilised setting in games.

I found this whilst browsing the games list for the Racial Equality and Justice bundle. This game is so baffling, pretentious and awkward that... well if nothing else, the opening cinematic had me grinning from ear to ear.

Where to start... the presentation is horribly flawed. Everything from the characters to the backgrounds to the interface has a myriad of issues. For the most part it looks OK? Like, I can tell what's going on most of the time, but... it just feels extremely rough. Everything has this very uncanny quality to it.

The writing is incredible. This is the kind of stuff only spoken in legends. For the most part, things just sort of... happen. The tone flip-flops from actually kind of sweet and heart-warming to surreal and creepy on a dime. Every character talks like they were born on the moon and what little exposition there is contains a lot of gaps and leaves me feeling confused.

OK. So from what I've gathered you play as a young girl named... uh... Me? Who wonders off into the woods, discovers a fairy and saves her from dying by offering her some water to drink. In return for her kindness, the fairy grants her a single wish. When Me refuses, the fairy gifts her the ability to see her soulmate by taking pictures of them...? This encounter understandably wigs Me out and she vows never to take a picture of a human being ever again. Fast-forward about a decade and Me is somehow a professional photographer with a girlfriend named Heroine and they're living in an apartment with a garden and a TV.

And Heroine is a truly insipid character. She's cute I suppose, but something about her seriously rubs me the wrong way. She doesn't seem to have a career or any aspirations beyond collecting stuffed animals, yet she still asks Me to buy expensive clothing for her. I seem to remember in one conversation she asked me if Me "needed her to live", which just makes my skin crawl... she contributes nothing to the relationship and acts like a bland robot the entire time.

The actual gameplay isn't great either. It's got a good idea for a core loop, but there are just so few options to pick from that it becomes tiresome very quickly.

Character customisation is nice, but customising a completely different character in this context is really weird. Like, wouldn't it make more sense if her outfit was randomised depending on what clothes you had unlocked already, with different probabilities tied to each? That'd at least feel more realistic. And the fact that she starts out with vampire-pale skin and you can pay to give her a darker skin tone with no further context makes me tug at my shirt collar slightly.

Look, I'm sorry, I really wanted to like this. I'm intrigued by the premise. It's nice to see games tackle established relationships. The app icon makes me smile. I like visual novels and yuri in general but... I struggle to find anything nice to say about this one in particular.

I understand this is probably your first project and you were under heavy time constraints. It's nice that you took a project and saw it through. Thanks for offering an android version by the way. That's nice. And by all means continue making games! I look forward to seeing what you learn from this experience to put into future titles but... let's just say I'm glad I didn't pay full price for this.

I just finished reading Highway Blossoms on normal mode, and I just wanted to thank you for creating such an enjoyable experience. This is probably my new favorite visual novel of all time...? I tend to overrate things I've just played and I don't usually pay for visual novels so maybe that had something to do with it but... man was that an amazing 6 hours or so.

It's a pretty simple story when you get down to it, Amber and Marina's dynamic is pretty by-the-numbers, but it's just done so well that I don't care. In fact, I think it'd be much worse off with a bunch of dialogue options and alternate routes (in the main story anyway, can't wait to try out Goofball mode). It does what it needs to and then it ends. And yet despite that, it's still wholly unique; a road trip romance story about searching for buried treasure in the American southwest isn't something I knew I wanted, but I have it now and I'm all the more grateful for it. Any piece of media that has me audibly emoting and commentating over it is doing something right (I lost track of the number of times I went "aww!" or "that's adorable"). Totally gonna play "Next Exit" when that comes out.

I have a few gripes though.

As great as the voice acting is (seriously, I'm going to have trouble adjusting to visual novels that don't have this feature) sometimes I'd accidentally cut off the voices by clicking too fast, and I couldn't configure the auto mode to a point where it scrolled at a comfortable speed. I also feel like there just needs to be a few more clips in there. It feels weird to go from hearing an actor do a great job at selling that a character is drunk or whatever, only to go to dead silence when it describes them muttering under their breath. I also felt disappointed by some of the action scenes. They were good, don't get me wrong, it's just that whenever things got intense, I imagined what it would look like as an animated film or miniseries. And then I'd remember that doesn't exist (yet), and I'd let out a disappointed sigh.

But that's it! Other than those two minor complaints I loved it. The music's great, the writing is great and so is the art. More please!

This game was pretty cool. Lots of fun ideas, some good writing. I surprisingly enjoyed the voice acting, but good gosh the gameplay! It's not that it's bad, it works, it's just a shame the the beat-map and the music don't fit together. I understand that doing so in 7 days is a huge ask, but I think the joke would land even harder if the rhythm part of this rhythm action game was at all compatible to DDR or Stepmania... can't fault that ending though. That was great!

This game is really cool! I'm so glad I found it. I was drawn to it mainly because of the artwork. All the characters look super adorable and the environments are really breathtaking. You say the game isn't finished, but it's really fully featured, with cutscenes and boss fights and even a save feature! Using a magic, portable house as a shield to recover your energy is a fun idea. Was this inspired by the coronavirus outbreak?

Seriously though, I have no idea how to make the PICO-8 do even half the things you managed here. Really impressive.

It's not without its faults however. Whilst I'm very thankful that you tried to include an option to play the game in English, the translation is very lacklustre. There are numerous grammatical errors, and a lot of dialogue gets mixed up to the point where I got a little confused over what is being said. This prevented me from understanding the controls properly, but I eventually figured it out.

It's also a little too difficult. Enemies hit really hard; they're impossible to predict and I over-relied on the house to the point I soft-locked the game on account of not knowing how to repair it.

But when I'd gotten used to the controls and figured out what I was supposed to do, I was blown away! It feels really good to move around the grid and smack into things; watching hordes of enemies have their attacks foiled as I sat indoors soaking in a nice warm bath was a kind of satisfaction I'm not sure I've felt in a game before.

Please keep working on it! I've included a machine translation of my comment into Japanese, if that helps at all.







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OK I've played it now. So good. This is the best game. 10/10. Runs like crap on Linux through WINE but that's not the game's fault.

Oh my gosh there's a game based on [Mimi's] Delivery [Rush]! Oh wow I love that film so much and now there's a game of it with the cutest pixel art I've ever seen I haven't actually played it yet but I love it already aaaaaahhhhh!!

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This is so cool! I haven't even finished the game yet and I'm having a blast. Just crashing a party and smacking the living daylights out of people with a bright orange strat. Hell's bells is it satisfying.

The biggest complaint I have is the controls. It's not that they're not responsive, it's that the default binding is dreadful. I thought we all agreed on Z being jump and X being attack?

Putting jump on Space and S on attack prevents me from playing the game without straining my wrist. Either I keep my arms straight and put unecessary pressure on my middle finger, or awkwardly hug the air with my arms and lean forward just to put my hands in a more comfortable position. As I type this I realise that I could use my thumb for jump and my index finger to attack, but I shouldn't have to interpret them like this. It gives me whiplash.

The game looks great though. it's certainly got that old-school anime charm with colourful, chunky pixel art with tonnes of hitstop and particle effects to keep things feeling juicy.

The combat feels excellent, but only when you're doing well. It's a shot in the dark as to whether you'll actually hit anything because with so many enemies on screen and so few animation frames to go around it's difficult to tell when to pull back, and hitting things feels so good you don't want to stop. A few defensive options like a parry, dash or block wouldn't go amiss. Right now, it's be quick or be dead.

It's also a shame that Sylvie never plays that guitar of hers. Sure, it's probably completely broken and there's nowhere for the sound to come out of, but some hot licks at the beginning and end of a stage wouldn't go amiss (or just a button I could press to really bring the noise to stun enemies or buff myself).

Overall, I think this game is epic. Shine on you crazy diamond.

This is really good. I like the title, the visuals are simple but effective, I really like the music (though the transition between the normal song and the "thinky" one could be better) and it's just really satisfying to play through. Really inspires me to work on my current game and get better. I hope you do well in the jam.

The major complaint I have is that the teleporter wouldn't work correctly for me, so some levels are probably way harder as a result. Also when I click the mouse, I expect the character to instantly transition into slow motion so I can plan my next move, but there's this cooldown that stops you from spamming it.

In theory this makes the game more skillful as you have to plan your dash usage ahead of time, but in reality it makes the game less responsive, causing a tonne of unfair deaths, at least in my opinion.

I'd seriously appreciate some proper difficulty options in a similar manner to Celeste's assist mode; removing the cooldown on dashing, gameplay speed options, making it so that spikes bounce you or reduce a life total, all that jazz.

Also I couldn't get the "skip level" cheat to work, but I realise now that you probably meant "Press the 1 and 2 keys on your number row at the same time" and not "Press mouse 1 and mouse 2 symultaniously". My bad.

No Linux build?

Hey, that was neat! The use of swearing felt really out of place (especially when it's like, one character who does it) the story isn't gonna be winning any writing awards any time soon and the way the dialogue boxes were set up meant that I accidentally ended up skipping ones with choices because they look so similar, but that visual presentation is sublime.

Make more stuff please!

P.S. Making the player walk through a corridor and rewatch three unskippable cutscenes after death is dumb and you should remove it. We have game over screens for a reason!

I'm glad I played this game. A fun, spooky ol' time. It's not without issues though.

The presentation was very good overall. While I liked the character portraits (Sheriff Lahey wears sunglasses 24/7 that's hilarious) and general environment art, the actual character sprites bear so much of a resemblance to the ones from Mother 3 it's distracting. I also think that the monster wasn't threatening enough in certain scenes. Whenever it's shown it's just some faceless sprite. I don't tend to like full-screen jump scares, but I feel we at least need to get one good look at this thing to understand why it's so threatening.

The game played fairly smoothly, movement felt pretty great even though sometimes the game wouldn't inspect the thing I though it would, but the puzzles were the real kicker for me.

Take the first real puzzle in the game; entering Lisa's house. The door's locked and you need a key. OK, I find this suspicious patch of dirt underneath the garden gnome which I can't dig up with my bare hands (Rachel's paid to investigate crime scenes you'd think that getting some mud on her hands wouldn't be too much hassle but whatever) and I immediately think "shovel". Guess where it is? In a tiny corner of the map way too dark to notice without the flashlight!

There's quite a few moments like this where I was having trouble finding things. The part where you have to answer the telephone is particularly annoying. The ringtone is just a flat sound with no positional audio or visual cue and plays on a constant loop until you find it. And when you do find it, it's in the washroom. The washroom! Because we all get lonely when washing our clothes...? Whenever I got stuck I just ended up checking each room of the house in sequence, which took way too long and I ended checking some rooms twice or missing certain doors. The game could really use a map.

The one puzzle I did like was the combination safe. When I saw all these old VHS tapes with knock-off brand film titles on them, I was sat there thinking "that's lame", but then the note on the safe mentions the films and I managed to remember them all and felt kinda smart. The safe doesn't indicate you can type in letters though, which got me a tiny bit stuck after trying to translate the initials into their alphabetical index (A = 1, B = 2 and so-on which would be the cooler solution in my opinion) but I got there pretty quickly.

The sound was surprisingly good, for just 10 days we get a whole score with build-ups pay offs, and even a leitmotif I noticed in one track. There was this especially cool effect where the ghost is breathing and it sounds like it's right next to you, and I don't know why but I kind of felt it beyond just hearing the sound? That's worth a mention.

I'm not sure I understand the ending though. Did Lisa really kill herself? What was the deal with that ghost at the end? I hear there's a true ending you get by not taking the gun, but I don't want to listen to that telephone for another second.

Good luck to you guys and thanks for making this game play in my web browser. Always appreciated as someone who mostly plays games on Linux. I hope to see more games from you in the future.

Yeah, I just ended up running the Windows version through WINE in the end. To this day, I haven't been able to beat Skullsquid. I just get keep getting overwhelmed by flaming skulls! Also, please update Legend of Xenia 2 to have an ending. It doesn't have to be anything fancy, just let Xenia say goodbye to the ghost of her father or something in a final cut-scene. Your work really inspires me, by the way. I just thought I'd mention that.

I love this game, and fancied playing it again on my Linux machine, but it wouldn't start. When I tried executing the binary in the terminal, I got the following error and no game window:

"./Legend of Xenia: error while loading shared libraries: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory"

I get this message even after installing both the libssl and libcrypto apt packages to my system. How can I get the game to run?

That's because Chromebooks are just glorified web-browsers at the end of the day. There would have to be a port to HTML5 for this whole thing to work on your computer, so try asking for that instead.

This is a promising project, but it's really not responsive enough. I've held physical typewriters, so I know they require a lot of force to actuate the keys compared to my Cherry MX Reds, but honestly I think this would be much more fun if it registered my key press instantly.

Hi there!

Thanks for making this game. I've been following your video series and it looks like something really special that I wouldn't mind spending hours getting good at. There's just one problem however; the game's too dark! Is the experience just that cool that my character needs to wear shades to stop my face from melting?

This is really annoying as it makes all the enemies and goals difficult to see. It does this no matter what screen mode I'm using.

Here are my stats:

  • Gigabyte B450 Motherboard
  • Ryzen 5 2600 Processor
  • 8GB of Corsair Vengence 2400MHz RAM
  • ATi Radeon RX580 Armor Graphics Card
  • Ubuntu 18.04 LTS

I tried running it on Linux with WINE and it didn't work! Can you please upload another version with the RTP included?


Why didn't I play this sooner? This is the highest rated game on Itch for a reason. The characters, dialogue and overall design are so good it hurts. I must say that having the characters use different alphabets when speaking words in foreign languages was a weird choice (occasionally they're subtitled in English, but it'd be nice to have the original words romanised so a language dropout like me can read them), and I occasionally found some of the baseball stuff hard to follow (I don't have baseball where I live) but the sheer quality and soul of this game shines through any flaws it might have.

Are you a fan of Darkstalkers?  I couldn't help but keep hearing that one sound effect Lord Raptor makes when one of his attacks is parried.

Regardless. This game is awesome.  You'll be damn sure I'll be first in line for Butterfly Soup 2: Soup Harder...

I have no prior experience with VA-11 Hall-A, but I did play it all the way to the end. I guess that counts for something...

Here's a fun thing: you forgot to remove the uncompiled scripts from the regular executable. They're all still there in the version I have.  Still, thanks for making a separate download. I wish you all the best!

This made me laugh out loud. This is the exact kind of stream-of-thought nonsense that comprises my sense of humor. The worst jokes honestly were where the game tried to parody anime and visual novel cliches. It was just a little predictable.

I played the web version which had multiple issues, but didn't impede my enjoyment all that much. I'm up to 2000+ clicks in the clicking contest and nothing is happening.

Any chance I could get a hold of the source code?

It's all right. This is one of the nicest looking Twine games I've ever seen, but I can't help but feel that something somewhere is... lacking. The game play is really easy without a lot of variation and I didn't really care all that much about the characters.

Speaking of which, the way they speak by giggling to indicate who's talking is a little off putting somehow. Also the font size is really small making it difficult to read comfortably.

You were indeed shirtless in this one.

Glad to hear it! The fact that you made this all in Ren'Py is insane. I can imagine that limiting your options somewhat. For something like this I'd personally reach for a generic game engine like Godot, but that's just me.

I could give you general help when it comes to programming some of those features, but when it comes to specifics, I really have to look at the source code to be sure. I've always used Ren'Py wholesale and never felt the need to modify it, so I'd have to look into that as well.

I really wanted to get into this one, but it's just far too frustrating for me to enjoy. It's great to see that you're actively supporting this game with new cards, but in my opinion you should really try to fix more core problems. Issues are listed in order of severity:

  1. Little to no interaction with the opponent. This is a massive missed opportunity. It may as well be Solitaire. You can't see their board or desired fusion either, meaning that it's impossible to know when you're winning. Having them play first would solve this issue.
  2. Any successful fusion instantly replaces your active one with no option to cancel, even if it's objectively worse than all other cards in your deck and fusions in the game. This has lost me dozens of matches.
  3. The game doesn't track what fusions you've tried so far in the current match, and keeping it all those variables in my head is really frustrating. I shouldn't have to break out a pen and paper for a digital game.
  4. The punishment for getting a combo wrong is way too harsh. Right now, the second component becomes active whether you like it or not. This has the undesired effect of not making me want to experiment with my hand, since if I get it wrong I could potentially lose the entire match. Either let me pick which component I want to keep on the board, or just discard the components altogether and let me move on with the game.
  5. There are no card effects beyond a flat appeal bonus. This is sad, as weird, card specific rules are half the fun of collectable card games to begin with. Without a way to draw cards, search for cards, or mess with your opponent, the whole thing just feels flat and lifeless. Why bother customizing my deck when all the cards are functionally identical?

Look, I understand you're not trying to create the next Hearthstone here. It might sound like I'm taking this all too seriously. I probably am. But even as a casual game about smacking cute bits of cardboard together, there's just lots of little things that get in the way that I can't just switch my brain off to.

The art and visual design are stellar as always, though.

Eh. Wasn't really feeling this one. I was playing it without  sound, so that might have something to do with it, but otherwise  I just really didn't like it as much as I wanted to.

It's really short, and the fact I can run back to my car before the monster starts chasing me shows how predictable it is.

Then again, I was playing casually without sound, so that could have spoiled everything...

I've seen this kind of thing before. I didn't find it particularly frightening or impressive. I can't help but feel that most of the experience was lost on me because I wasn't wearing headphones and was out when I played it.

It just needs more, you know?

Hi. We've cracked the code. All of our findings can be seen in these two documents here:

Be sure to join the Discord if you haven't already and show some appreciation to the people who solved this mystery!