Thoughts on: Mystik Belle, Detention and few other games

There have been quite a lot of games I was curious about, a lot of which turned out to be not what I wanted. A few, though, turned out to be amazing. Let me write some good things about Mystik Belle, Detention, Lode Runner Legacy and some non good things about Seasons after fall, Wuppo, Everything and Rakuen.

Mystik Belle is a rather curious action adventure platformer. Unlike what you might think in the first few moments, it isn’t really a metroidvania in a traditional sense (although it is about exploration and upgrades), neither is it trying to emulate fast paced action platformers and even in it’s visual style it isn’t really going for something emulating 16-bit consoles, but rather this feels like an evolution of the adventure platformers from the personal computers of late 80s-mid 90s. Sure, you do explore, find new upgrades and fight bosses, but most of your time you spend on thinking how to use items and plan inventory to achieve your current goal. Which you would do by talking to people and running back and forth in a gradually opening game world.

Which might sound boring, and there are moments when it is, but most of the time the game actually conveys what it wants and where you should look for it pretty well. And the look and style of the game never fails to amuse as well – there are so many cute little enemies, some of which may be unique to just one room in the entire game. The tone of the game is inconsistent a bit, though, sometimes seriously straying off it’s usually kid-friendly story and dialogue, and I’m still confused as to why this was made. But other than that, and some rather frustrating moments during few boss fights, Mystik Belle is a really nice game to play.

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Detention is a surprisingly rare attempt at a story-driven horror point and click adventure that doesn’t go for shock value or other cheap thrills (*cough* The Cat Lady *cough*). Despite starting as a rather curious and scare-focused title with avoiding enemies, it quite soon ditches some of it’s enemy centered mechanics just to tell its story in a more memorable and interesting way. In many not very obvious ways it’s a spiritual successor to Sanitarium, except with really tight storytelling and a rather unique spin on the story and setting.

You see, a rather important part of the story is based on the fact, that the events of it happen in a military totalitarian state, where people are motivated with propaganda to snitch out “communist agents” and love the glorious president and country. Yet, surprisingly, despite that alone being a unique setup for the story, the story itself is a far more eternal melancholic and sad tale about broken hopes and mistakes made. It’s so shockingly well made and told, and it’s so surprising how the mood of the game constantly evolves, that I simply cannot recommend you play this game enough. It’s one of the best examples of a story-driven point and click adventure game in recent years.

Lode Runner Legacy is a blast. Original Lode Runner (as I understand, the unauthorized port to MS-DOS) was one of the very first games I’ve played and I loved playing the fantastic Lode Runner: The Legend Returns back in the day at my friends’ home (it wouldn’t run on my crappy system). Legacy is mostly a re-imagining of the original title, but with some cool new features and enemies/obstacles, several cool game modes and a really simple but effective visual style. I’ve not finished it yet, since it’s one of those games that are fun to play in shorter sessions, but my only complaint so far was the still very strict reliance on the exact positioning for the floor burning to work, just like in the original, which felt rather sluggish and laggy at times. But otherwise, a super fun title.

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Despite the amazing looks, Seasons after fall is a sadly boring-boring game. It’s platforming is amazingly clunky with some frustrating sluggishness to all animations, level design boring and puzzles and platforming usually feeling tedious to go through and punishing with more boredom if you fail. Dropped it at about 1/4 of the game.

Wuppo seems like an amazing concept – it’s full of character, with great strange doodly visual style and actually thought out world. And it mixes action bits with adventure platforming in a very curious mix. But I just got bored with its big world with lack of any directions quite quick and its unconventional controls and slow menuing got me quickly disinterested in trying to continue further. Especially when I learned that apparently it’s also a pretty long 10+ hour adventure.

Everything seems like a rather neat idea of giving you a look about how things in the world, from tiniest particles, to stars and galaxies, are interconnected. It’s supposed to be a somewhat meditative experience as you think about life, but the trouble with the game I found was that it felt too boring and limited in trying to accomplish what it wants to do. It seems to work better as an app for quick relaxing sessions on a phone, if you’re into that, rather than something you would launch on PC or a console. Yet, surprisingly, it’s not on mobiles yet. It’s cute and curious if you’ve never explored the life concepts it touches upon, but you won’t find anything new or interesting in it otherwise.

Rakuen is tedious. It’s hard to say that any other way, sadly. It’s a project from Laura Shigihara, a singer and songwriter probably best known for the Plants vs. Zombies soundtrack, but, more importantly for this game, also composed some music for To the Moon. And while I’m not that much of a fan of To the Moon, that game was written and more importantly told in a really good way and was a memorable experience throughout. Which was mostly achieved by ditching the boring in-between things. Rakuen is a game about boring in-between things, and I couldn’t get arsed to finish it after yet another boring fetch quest was asked of me, without any real connection to anyone or anything being established, so I would care in the slightest. It looks good, it sounds fine (I don’t like it much, though), but it’s just plain boring.

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