This game is frankly a hundred times better than it has any right to be. It’s stupid, right? It’s all stupid all the way down. And yet I love everything about it. I had a laugh with my buddies about it and now I’m actually getting into it. I’m blaming you for this, BioTech!
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I was surprised by how much fun I had with this. I’ve been on a pinball kick and trying out random pinball games and this one felt the most like a pinball game of all of the ones I’ve tried so far. Everything about the machine felt satisfying and mechanical in that way pinball machines ought to and the physics seemed pretty accurate as far as I could tell. Good control scheme, too.
I liked the design of the table, I’m not sure I really felt like I had a meaningful choice in whether to send the ball up one particular ramp or into a particular bumper, but that might just be because I wasn’t entirely clear on what actions triggered what events or what combos I should be shooting for. My one big problem with the design of the table was the mouse ramp, which seems to just send my ball straight down the middle about 60% of the time.
I have no other major complaints about the game mechanically, although I will add that the default camera angle seems a touch too low, since I actually didn’t notice the drop-down targets in the back until after I switched camera angles for the first time, and it wasn’t entirely clear up until that point what my ball was doing after it disappeared behind the ramps.
The themeing is also really good. Honestly you might be doing this game a disservice by calling it “furry pinball,” because it gives entirely the wrong impression about what to expect from it. The theme of a fox trying to survive the winter and find a mate is actually really well-thought-out and it works for a basic pinball table and I think with a little more polish you could really pull this off.
This game really surprised me. I was expecting something kinda typical of horror-themed walking simulators and came out of it really stimulated and thought-provoked. It accomplishes a lot with some choice and punchy dialogue and environmental design, such that its message is conveyed successfully with brief flashes of insight rather than weighty exposition. It invites exploration of its story rather than a fixed, narrow perspective, which shows that the developer is very adept at storytelling in spite of how brief the game is.
I’m still not sure what to make of the endings. Perhaps that’s the point. Looking back on the story as a whole I struggle to determine whether it’s optimistic in tone or pessimistic, but I think that’s deliberate, since the characters have very clearly different perspectives on what’s going on.
The one moment I definitely didn’t like was the section with the fish stuck in the door. Maybe I didn’t understand how that fits into the overall message, but it seemed like an unnecessarily cruel scene for the sake of having a scene of cruelty. If I had written this I would have left that out, but again maybe I’m missing something there.
I really applaud this game and I heartily recommend it to anyone who’s even remotely interested in interactive storytelling.
I’m not super familiar with how game jams work. When the rules say “entries must be exclusive to the jam,” does that mean I can’t, for example, post my source code on GitHub or distribute them anywhere else?
Between this and A Slide in the Woods I’m noticing a distinctive style in your work. You seem to have a knack for creating an effective atmosphere with relatively simple sound and visual cues, and your games are very tightly designed around creating a single core experience.
This Tornuktu of yours feels very realistically like something out of actual folklore, but its design and presentation has an otherworldly, almost dreamlike quality to it that makes it feel like something surreal and frightening. Add to that a sense of effective pacing and surprisingly immersive but minimalistic animations and you’ve got a real hum-dinger of an interactive story.
Despite simplicity being a very deliberate design choice in your games I find myself replaying them over and over again to drink in certain details of them. They grab me in ways that even very good games often don’t, and you manage to pull off that effect in about a five or ten minute experience, which I think shows that you’re capable of doing a lot with very little.
I genuinely believe you have a talent for what you do. Please keep doing it as much as you can.
I went through a bit of a journey with this one. Initially I made it up to the point where you get caught in a blizzard and I somehow managed to miss the cave and couldn’t find it again, so I stopped. Then for some reason I came back to it this morning and played it through to the end.
This game gripped me in a way I wasn’t expecting. I really liked the subtle touches that lent the game an effective atmosphere, like the little sounds that everything makes and the way that the ice creeps slowly away from your vision when you drink tea so that you’re not quite sure if you’ll need another cup or to hold on to the reserve you have.
I really liked how having to drink tea at set points throughout the game gets you attached to your sled. It keeps the player invested in the well-being of what would otherwise just be a physics object for flavor. I feel like you could have done a lot more with that by creating a sense of concern for making sure the sled is still with you at all times. As it stands, I did find myself periodically looking back to make sure it was still there (even though it’s literally tethered to the player character) but nothing really posed a threat to the sled itself. When the giant worm initially attacked me it landed on my sled, which initially frightened me, but because nothing really interacts with the sled except me it didn’t create an actual threat to my progress.
I don’t have any further notes on the gameplay itself. As walking simulators go, this one interests me because it’s not exactly subtle but it still creates an effective atmosphere by making the player feel like they’re in a hostile environment. I really appreciated how instead of throwing up a “Game Over” screen at the end the payoff is that I get to relax and drink more tea in my house, because it made the trek feel totally worth it, and that sounds silly because it’s such a simple touch but it actually creates a sense that the whole journey had an actual point rather than just being some dumb guy in the woods at night for no reason.
Overall verdict: Surprisingly good, could have benefited from more of a sense of threat.
EDIT: Having gone back and played this game through again, I now know that I somehow managed to miss the chase sequence towards the end with the giant worm, so my complaint that the game didn’t have enough of a sense of threat is hereby retracted. Either I triggered a bug or I somehow managed to sprint my way through the tunnel so fast that I didn’t even notice something was chasing me. That’s a much better climax than I initially experienced when I played for the first time.
I can’t speak for OP, but my copy isn’t running either. When I try to open it I get the little “busy” cursor for a second and then nothing happens. I tried installing the new updated version and my antivirus scanned it and said it was okay, but the program itself just doesn’t run. Weird.
I’m running Windows 10 version 2004, if that helps.
Full freedom of motion in zero gravity really does a lot to mix up the formula of first-person shooters and I absolutely love it. This feels a lot like what moving around in zero gravity would actually be like, with all of the challenges that comes with.
This is definitely a game that benefits from controller support, I think. I don’t have a working controller, sadly, and it took me a while to get used to navigating environments like this. It’s a good thing the game’s difficulty curve gives you time to grow accustomed.
No complaints about the gameplay. I like how powerups are cumulative and wear with use rather than on a time limit. The minimal sound design means that audio cues help out a lot when trying to scan the environment. The full range of movement allows for some pretty clever maneuvering when you find an enemy behind an impenetrable force field and rather than bring down the force field you can finagle your way around to attack them from behind.
The one thing I thought could use some more work was the environment design, because after a while the maps started to feel kind of samey. There were rarely land marks I could use to see if I had scanned an area before, so when there’s one enemy left and it’s not bleeping to let me know it has line of sight I occasionally find myself floating around not knowing whether or not I’m going in circles trying to find it. Having said that, this difficulty didn’t stop me from playing more of the game, so at worst this is a minor criticism.
This game really opened my eyes to the possibilities of 6 degrees of freedom, because while this game is fairly simple I found endless potential in the concept. It’s broadened my scope quite a bit. Well-done to the developer.
Reading back on my initial review, it occurs to me that my phrasing in some sections might be misunderstood as excessively critical, so I just want to clarify that I liked the minimalist detail in the aesthetics and the story. Because we hardly know what’s going on, we’re left to fill in a lot of details ourselves, kind of like when you’re reading an SCP with a lot of redactions. The ending kind of puts the kibash on this, but that’s okay because it acts as something of a resolution to the mystery even if it still doesn’t explain much.
I saw that a lot of people were really down on the “overly” pixelated look, but I liked it because the monster design is very simple (though I must say the animations and sound design were very solid) and the pixelization means that we see it in very little detail, which reflects our limited understanding of what’s going on and makes them spoopier, especially in darkened areas where we might have difficulty seeing them. I didn’t have any problems with the game’s visual aesthetic except for that one moment in the security office where I missed a vent because it was so dark and I was afraid to turn on my flashlight lest I wake the monster in the room.
I mentioned an “oh shit” moment in my review, and the reason it worked so well was that I hadn’t been attacked yet and didn’t know what would happen if I got spotted. I was in the cafeteria looking for the key card I needed when I heard the monster coming back. Because I hadn’t thought that its patrol route would return to the cafeteria I ducked into the first hiding spot I could think of, which left me completely exposed from the front but covered me from the sides. As I watched the monster walk past he was only a few feet away, and since I didn’t know how wide his cone of vision was I couldn’t be sure I would make it out, which resulted in a near-panic moment as it was walking past. This was all made possible by your masterful execution of the minimal aesthetic of the game.
You don’t see a lot of blends of horror and platforming outside of base aesthetic themes. Traditionally platformers are fast-paced and action-oriented games. I really liked how you combined the two ideas to make an explorative horror experience, though.
Good environment, nice ambience, some pretty legit spooks, real intrigue. I thought that the door lever puzzle was a bit of a drawback, though. Having to pull one lever, go through a door to pull another level, and then go back to pull the first lever to open the door that it closed felt kind of like busywork.
The back-and-forth between the diver and the controller really sold this one. It’s so nice to play a horror game that has actual characters in it, with actual character dynamics. The voice acting was really solid, too. By the end of this I really wanted to know what would happen to Amy.
I hope that you’re still collecting data for your thesis, because I tried to be as thorough as I could with my observations. I hope this project goes well for you. You show a lot of promise, above and beyond for the average indie game developer.
In summary, I thought that the atmosphere and pacing were absolutely spectacular. I was actually somewhat impressed with the animations, including the head bobbing, since they’re quite above-standard for the indie games that I’ve been playing recently. I found the storyline very believable (when you mentioned that Building 71 is a real place in the questionnaire I actually wondered if it was based on a real event) and I liked the found footage concept where the gameplay cuts out periodically as the protagonist stops filming and goes to hide.
Besides some initial confusion with the tutorial (it’s not immediately obvious that I’m supposed to check the glove box before exiting the car) my one problem was that all of the threatening situations happened in cutscenes, which lowered my level of tension irreversibly by assuring me that any sense that I would be actively participating in a survival situation was just an illusion. I was anticipating having to avoid an in-game threat, but in fact the threat didn’t affect me, just the protagonist. I was not an active participant in any portion of the story which included a real element of danger; I was just watching as they happened.
Minor quibbles aside, I really enjoyed this and I hope that you find success in future endeavors, whether they include further game dev projects or not.
This game is evil. Eeeeeeeeevil. When I first started playing it I was like “this is simple enough,” but that’s how puzzle games always get you, isn’t it? By about the fiftieth level I was in too deep to let it beat me. I made it to the end of the demo, but not without some serious mental yoga.
I think this might actually have the most polish I’ve ever seen in a puzzle game. I like how you can click and drag lines and just leave them to tinker with later if you need to, like you’re moving physical objects around as you think about the best solution. I also like how walking back lines can reset lines that you’ve overwritten, so you don’t lose too much progress if you realize you’ve made a mistake.
The music and aesthetics in this game are peerless for the genre. It keeps the experience interesting without being distracting. I don’t know what it is, but the music just stimulates me so that I never get tired of iterating through strategies for getting through the levels.
I think this is also a good game for demonstrating that puzzle games are harder to build than they look. It’s not just that this game has to contain a number of interesting puzzles built using a mechanic that’s easy to understand. The difficulty has to curve in order to reward solving a difficult challenge, so that some of the harder puzzles function as “boss fights.”
I don’t play a lot of puzzle games, but this one kept me playing until the bitter end no matter how frustrated I got, which I think is the highest possible recommendation I could give. Ten out of ten, would play more.
I don’t play a lot of horror games, but lately I’ve been looking to try some new things, so this was one of a batch of indie games I elected to try this week. While I adored quite a few of them, this is the first one that gave me that real authentic “oh shit” moment.
First impressions are pretty solid. This is one of those stories that only works because the player character is an idiot sticking their nose where it doesn’t belong, but I’ll come back to that later. The pixelated look is a classic for indie horror games, and this one uses it to its advantage very effectively. The environment is pretty static, which makes what few animated assets there are stand out, especially in tense moments. The limited visual fidelity also makes the monster that much scarier (spoiler, by the way: this game has a monster) by making it extremely unclear what exactly it is. You also don’t get a lot of story details as you progress through the game; like a lot of indie games, most of the context comes from notes that you find as you play, but these are sparse and give barely enough details to hint at what you’re up against and what the stakes are.
The level design is pretty good, and for the most part it feels very natural. During the introductory sections I found myself admiring the scenery, even though by design I had only a very limited view of it. This developer manages to do a lot with very little.
I had some trouble believing the tight hallways and oddly small navigable spaces in some of the interior structures, though, especially the one segment a few flights of stairs down that’s basically just a room surrounded by a single hallway with a closet and two restrooms. This section was blatantly designed with gameplay in mind first and worldbuilding second, especially since you need a key card to enter the central room, and the only reason to go into that room is to get another key card. This is also the one segment where I got stuck, because in the darkened rooms I could see a key card I needed to get to but couldn’t find how to get to it, mainly because by this point I was actually afraid to turn my flashlight on.
This next paragraph contains actual spoilers, so if you’re reading this and thinking about playing this game stop reading now.
I initially disliked the ending when I got to it, but as it played out I actually warmed up to it. I was expecting there to be some kind of final confrontation, but instead what we ultimately got was a cautionary tale, and this is why it makes sense that the player character gets themselves into the situation they’re in. You’re not a hero, you’re just a fool who stumbles in over their head, and the ending really suits that. I particularly like how it’s not just a fuck-up on our part, too, but rather that it causes a legitimate escalation of the situation. That’s a good touch that fits with the basic narrative of a video game.
Overall, I’d say this is a solid 7 out of 10 game. It’s a bit rough in places, but it hits all of the right notes once it gets going.
This game feels a lot like an SCP, if you dig it. Simple enough premise, not a whole lot on the surface, but the story is in the details. I like the concept of having a very simple task that you must perform and having a lot of context kind of slip in as a result of extra stuff that the player does.
I must have played this like five or six times in a row just trying to puzzle out what was going on. I was also trying to work out how many endings there are (this is before I saw the bit in the description saying there are only two) and if there was anything that could be changed.
Overall, a very good game. It’s not long, and it’s not super complex, but everything is there that needs to be there, presented flawlessly and wrapped up in a bow. The developer shows a lot of promise and I look forward to seeing more projects from them in the future.
I had an alarming amount of fun with this one. It’s just simple combat fun done in a nifty way. I’m impressed with how well you managed to portray password strength via the medium of silly video game combat. The difficulty level seems to go up consistently with the strength of each password you fight, too, and I’m absolutely stunned at how well you managed to math that out. There’s even a strategy element where you have to decide if you want weaker characters at the front to let your ranged characters harass the enemy or put the explosive-throwing characters up front to weaken the enemy forces.
One little niggle, it seems like the passwords work really hard to stay in formation, and that lead me to some problems where I would direct my password to go to the right and the first letter would end up hanging too far to the left to aggro and attack the enemy while I was waiting for the later letters and the ones with ranged attacks to catch up. Had some frustrating moments with that.
I feel like the ability to fight against custom passwords wouldn’t go amiss either. That way you can get people to enter their real-life passwords and the game can show where they’re weak and then duke it out with the procedurally-generated password you get from playing the game. Maybe people can even compete to see who can find the strongest passwords.
This is one of the better examples of taking a simple idea and making the most out of it. This game has a very consistent motif and a very effective atmosphere. Something I particularly like is that the atmosphere doesn’t come suddenly; it gradually lowers you into it, using little tricks to create tension, both subtle and blatant.
After an initial setup period, the game establishes some very unusual movement mechanics which are clunky in that way most beneficial to horror games where it makes you feel like you’re in an unusual situation and having to use your wits to quickly get out of it. Little touches really help this game during these segments, like being able to hear your heart beating. One trick that I liked in particular was (small spoiler) establishing that the flashlight only has “some” battery left and then having it flicker at the worst possible times.
Having established the atmosphere and a weird mechanic that you have to get used to, the game uses a simple set piece to establish just the tiniest sliver of context before throwing you into an agonizingly tense escape sequence that’s designed specifically so that you can never be sure that you’re actually getting away that goes on just long enough for your confidence to waver before it sticks the landing.
I simply can not recommend this game highly enough. It’s short, immersive, exceptionally well-paced, and dripping with artistry. As soon as I’m done writing this I’m going to tip the developer for a job well-done.
I loved every second of this. This is an excellent example of a good experience that can be made with very simple assets and a very basic gameplay loop.
I love that each segment is short and to the point, that there’s a little twist after every iteration, that the music changes slightly in each level in – at first – subtle and then prominent ways, and the way this leads up to an ending that’s simultaneously unexpected but also well-earned.
There’s a lot of subtle touches to this game that make it an absolute joy to play from beginning to end, and I was genuinely impressed with some of the effects that the team managed to pull off. Sure, it’s a simple gag, but it kept me laughing all the way through, and for a free game that’s only about ten minutes long that’s all I can really ask for.
I just wish it supported proper fullscreen, because I had to exit out of the game and hide my Windows taskbar in order to read the subtitles that come up later on.