So, this is going to be where I shove my reviews for the games submitted in this iteration of the Game In A Week contest! Obviously some of the games are only demos, so that will be taken into consideration upon going over them!
Apologies also if my scores at the end seem skewed or whatever, they make sense to me.
‘The Visitor’ isn’t the first RM game I’ve played made by Owl. Nearly a year ago I was skimming through the projects list looking for something when I stumbled across ‘Miserere’. It seemed intriguing, so I took a look, played it for a while and mentioned that I’d do a review of it upon completion. Unfortunately, a few days after, my computer took its last breath and passed on to a better place, meaning I never got around to getting any review done, or completing the game for that matter. I took a look at the project thread to see what comments I’d made about it a year ago, some of which being “a really cool atmospheric and stylish game”, which can also be said for Owl’s GIAW entry, ‘The Visitor’. Yet, another comment of mine was also “it’s getting to be a little more frustrating than I’d originally thought”, the same of which, can also be applied to ‘The Visitor’.
Right off the bat, we’re ushered onto a very distinct and interesting atmosphere with the game’s title menu and opening scene. Immediately we’re shown an environment that’s dark, brooding and just generally a little unnerving, with a sombre and mysterious piano piece playing over the top. A creepy old woman begins the tale by introducing us to a small family that have inherited a house from a late relative in the year 1913. The way the characters are presented is simple but in my mind, rather effective, though throughout the game, most prominently with the father, George, and the narrator, some of the dialogue feels like a bit of an anachronism, that pulls me out of the supposed time period and can questionably upset the legitimately creepy feel created so well.
You begin playing as the young family boy named Robert and start exploring the house. It feels a little ambiguous at first, because there’s no clear definition as to what you should be doing, other than the narrator stating that curiosity gets the best of all of us. I liked this idea, as it gave me time to drink in the scenery of the mansion. All of the rooms in the house are rather well made, with pretty much every object being one you can examine to further detail, though I do hold a bit of a gripe with the halls, which feel rather empty, bare if not for the odd potted plant and very interesting paintings that you can examine full size.
So, like I said, it seems a little ambiguous at first, but you’re just wandering, right? You explore the house and find the mother and father in separate rooms, going about their business when the father mentions that he wants you to unblock the pipes in the bath. After you find the appropriate equipment and drain the pipes, you find a key. A questionable place perhaps, but it leads us to getting out into the back garden for the first time, which leads to the harrowing woods sitting ominously behind the just as ominous mansion. You head into the woods, and everything starts getting rather dark, the music fades, replaced with the wind. It gets more difficult to see where you are, and my goodness, the tension is so thick you could cut it with a knife.
But... Then an odd piece of exposition is brought to our attention just after Robert heads into a dark cave, having lost his way in the woods. The sudden change of scene was a little jarring and quite frankly almost lost me. You then take control of George, the father. This is where my biggest flaw with the game is. The first section of the game as Robert has direction, though a little subtle. With this part of the game, it’s not too clear what exactly it is you’re supposed to be doing, and when you figure it out, why you’re supposed to be doing it. This section involves you going around the mansion finding particular items that have no discernible pay off until two scenes after, but it feels a little too coincidental and coordinated to really make it feel well executed. And the collecting was admittedly a bit frustrating, though that may just be down to my deducing skills rather than the game’s clarity. I found myself just using items on every object in the mansion after my tenth time doing the rounds and still apparently missing out on what I needed to find. I’m not saying everything should be flashing itself in my face, but it was a little confusing at times. Saying that however, I can appreciate meow how it has the sense of a point-and-click game, but those games were never particularly my style.
The plot continues along with not much more gameplay, other than another little puzzle that made things a little different from the exploring of before. What follows then is more or less the last 5 minutes of scenes that nudge up the tension levels some more, and pretty well I’d say. However, the ending just didn't have the right kind of pay off for me, and the dialogue, as mentioned before, just felt a little out of place in the setting that had been created, which is a shame really.
The genre of this game was submitted as ‘Horror’, but it’s more of a thriller in terms of the story and atmosphere. This game had some really interesting moments, mostly created through the visuals and sounds, but the gameplay and dialogue with characters weren't so great for me.
I do love Owl’s style however, and I would like to go back and play ‘Miserere’ to obtain some more of that ‘well, this is kind of weird’ feel (though Miserere does admittedly have a lot more odd things going on than The Visitor). Clocking in at around an hour or so, it may have its flaws, but it’s otherwise rather well crafted and definitely worth checking out, if not simply for the brilliant atmosphere and vibe that practically oozes from it.
This game had me in absolute stitches of laughter. The charm of Zylos’ crack at Warioware is undeniably fantastic, and it’s such a major selling point from the second you load up the game. The entire intro animation seems like something that could easily have been in an actual Warioware game! Quite simply, he hit the nail right on the head, which you’ll probably be doing yourself shortly in one of the various frenetic minigames that feature in Zylos’ GIAW submission.
I really admired Nightmare when it was released, and was aware that Zylos pretty much has RM working right in the palm of his hand most of the time, and what better way to prove that by offering the complete antithesis of Nightmare’s fear-inducing, spine tingling puzzler/thriller? RMRKario Ware is full of laughs from start to end, (which unfortunately, doesn’t take long to get to in this demo version) and I’ll admit I was a little concerned that some of the jokes would maybe go over my head, considering the esoteric nature of the jokes and my vaguely newbie status to the forum. Luckily for me, only one or two jokes came up that I wasn’t clued in on, and even then, the way they were executed still made me laugh.
The satirical take on previous RM games is a really interesting idea and for the most part, it was all great fun to do, though one tiny gripe was that a good couple of the minigames revolved around moving to a spot and doing something; opening a door, jumping off a ledge, etc. Basic stuff, but with the timer quickly burning down, it was still frantic and fast paced and mildly challenging figuring out what you’re supposed to do in such a small amount of time!
Another small thing that bothered me was that the boss stage was a little frustrating. It’s a little difficult to dodge some of the stylish projectiles being vomited at you by the evil vicious troll sometimes, and if they hit you in pairs, which they usually did, it takes off a considerable amount of health. This was the only real problem I had with RMRKware, aside from it being pretty short, but it’s an issue that can probably easily be updated and fixed, (or ignored because I’m maybe just a bit crap). As for the length, I’m presuming (hoping desperately) that more will be done with this. Whilst working off the template of another game, the ideas and subject matter are hilarious and original in the sense of the parody. Also, on another little note I do wonder whether minigames will repeat like they do in Warioware, and if they do, whether or not they add more difficult challenges in each individual minigame other than having less time.
This was a really fun game to play, even if only for 5 or 10 minutes. The audio is great, the visuals are nice to look at, (especially the intro animation scene) all the subtle little things like getting +rep when you beat a minigame all brought a smile to my face every time, and I think some kudos need to go Zylos’ way for an interesting experiment well done, even in its small stage of life. I very much look forward to seeing a completed version of this!