Three open-ended exploratory story-driven games, all using unconventional approach to the genre they would usually be in. Let me write a few things on Neverending Nightmares, Dropsy and OneShot.
Neverending Nightmares is a game full of promise. It’s also a game full of tedium. It has a very unique mostly black and white pencil drawn line art, solid atmospheric soundtrack and does start with a lot of promise. But as it progresses, it becomes clear that the developers never really thought of creating much beyond just wondering a lot of empty rooms and corridors slowly and, depending on the part of the game, at times avoiding enemies via stealth or running away.
As such, it quickly becomes a very boring game, as you slowly walk around, being unable to do more than just walk in most cases, with occasional pointless “examine” prompts and constant ability to open doors as only other actions. Game becomes more gruesome and almost jump scare heavy, which, despite some truly inspired twisted imagery, just gets you to the “end already” point. And while it has a “story” and even 3 endings, none of them are particularly engrossing, as much as just occasionally stuff happens and you move on to the next part. This might’ve been something interesting, but, sadly, it isn’t.
OneShot is a commercial re-release/director’s cut of a free RPG maker story-driven adventure-exploration game from three years ago, with fourth wall breaking concepts and pretty good soundtrack. The original had a pretty curious idea of being able to finish the game only in one proper sitting, with saves available only at certain points and closing the game meaning permanent death and no ability to replay (by normal means), a lot of puzzles based around checking things on your system, dialogue directly with you, the player, and rather weakly written and paced, but surprisingly effective concept behind the story. It posed some tough (in theory) questions, ended at the right moment and, even with the (well deserved) success of later released similar in premise and ideas titles, had a very nice and unique place to itself.
Paid version, however, especially exemplified with the free update released later, misses the entire point. It makes several locations, that had a good pace, much longer and introduces tedious item hunts. It makes characters that had little but meaningful impact talk more and have exactly the same impact, but now taking more player’s time. And then proceeds to presume that you, the player, cares about that a lot and puts words in your mouth (remember it has dialogue where you’re supposed to reply, as yourself). And then it proceeds to add a “real ending” free update that is a big barely interactive cutscene that is everything wrong I mentioned in one go and still written as an average fanfic, with the authors being way too much into their own fiction with little regard to actually making it good for the rest. The music is still very good, though.
Which still leaves you with the game that, at it’s core, is pretty cute and nice and interesting and worth checking out. But if the original free version was still available, I would’ve actually suggested checking that one instead (even if it was now to be a commercial release).
Dropsy is… strange. It’s a point and click adventure game, yet, vast majority of it’s content is completely optional, it has puzzles and linear story, yet it’s mostly about exploring a huge map (with day and night cycle at that) and helping people. And your main interaction is hugs. It’s charming, it’s sweet, it’s bizarre.
It has some elements that can become slightly tedious, especially if you don’t follow the storyline first (to eventually get a fast travel option), its story is even more weird than you can expect at the start and some of its controls, due to point & click nature, can be a bit more finicky than you’d want. But it’s all worth it if you want to spread joy and happiness and hug everyone and everything you meet.