Game Opinion: Art Games & Games That Make You Think

Good Evening Reader,

I didn’t think these games were going to make an opinion on me, but they did and here we are.  Our professor tweeted a link a few days ago to a blog containing 10 indie/art games that are worth the play.  I am going to do a little review on some of the ones that impacted me the most.

Once Chance

This game was amongst the shortest of the ones I have played.  The controls were very simple, the real meat of the game was in the decisions you make as a player.  You are a scientist that “thought” he cured cancer but instead put the world in danger of extinction.  You have once chance in 6 days to save humanity.  While I felt the decisions were fairly obvious in order to save the world, they were actually very difficult.

In games like Mass Effect or Fallout, in order to be good or evil the choice’s are like night and day.  Where in this game the choices were much more real and difficult to pick from.  For example, if you choose to skip out on work and go spend time with your family you can still find a cure.  However if you were like me and decided the world was bigger then your family, you would have gone home to see your wife dead.

This game actually had difficult yet meaningful choices and the whole point was that you only have one chance at the game.  However you can just clear your cookies or “Ctrl+Shift+N” on google chrome to play the game again.  But the idea of only one chance to play the game adds to the severity of your decisions.

A Mother In Festerwood

Son Dies at 26 😦

This was an interesting game.  Minimal controls (mouse cursor) to move a lady.  Art style was too my liking (anything with pixel art I will most likely enjoy) and the game idea was very simplistic.  All the player had to do was to move their avatar (the mother) around their child.  If you hit the child he moves toward the house and is safe.  If he leaves the safety of your house he gains fighting experience but he might die.

What was really amazing was all the unknowns and the restricted freedom the player had.

Restricted freedom:

  • Free to let your son do as he pleases
  • Freedom of movement in a space around the house
  • Freedom to watch or play the game

The unkowns:

  • What happens if my son goes out in the wild?
  • How long does it take for him to grow?
  • Why does my son keep running to the wild?
  • Am I playing this game right?

After a while I began asking myself questions when I stopped and said, “look what this game has done to me.”  After a few minutes of play, I might have been in the “flow”.  I began asking questions as if I was the actual mother of this child.

During my first playthrough I ended up confining the little guy in the “safe” spot until he was about 16 years old.  After that he left to the wild and killed a few monsters.  When he was about 26 he was on his was back home and he died.  I first laughed, then the screen of his death popped up and I felt a bit uneasy.  I played as this virtual characters mother to see him die at a fairly young age.  The eerie music helped convey this feeling as well.

For the next game I decided to give my son freedom.  That ended badly.  When my son was 4 he decided to try to kill a troll and died.  Irony.

For the next game I tried to be both a supportive mother and give my son freedom.  So I ended up turning him into a mama’s boy until the age of 18 because he managed to slip away from me.  He never came back home and ended up dying again at 26.

I learned quite a bit from this game.  First I learned how such simple mechanics can get you to symbolically think about things like being a mother and how it feels to be in their shoes.  I also realised how terrible of a parent I would be.  When I get a chance I will try to get one of my parents to play this game and see how they do.  The game had points when I was frustrated being that child’s mother.  When he was trying to go kill a dragon I remember shouting, “Idiot! You are only 16 stop going for the dragon!”  This feeling of parental frustration is most likely similar to the real life version.

I have played the game a few times after and I have not yet passed the 30 year mark, can anyone beat that or am I just a horrible mother?

American Dream

My Nice House

This game I really enjoyed.  I am about 90% positive that I was in the “flow” considering I played this game for about half an hour without noticing.

Again, this game had very simplistic controls but the end message or feeling that I got out of it was great.  The player only has the freedom of using the arrow keys and ‘z’ for actions.  You play as someone with one goal: make a million dollars.  Essentially the game revolves around you buying items for your crappy apartment and trading stocks.  The game mechanic is fairly simple: buy low and sell high.  This is basic business.

How this game manages to invoke a feeling is actually really cool.  The idea of making lots of money is sort of a secondary objective.  It was actually very easy to make money using common sense and the “buy low, sell high” mechanic.  The key to making lots of money is to fill your house with lots of great furniture so you can throw parties in it.  When I first started, I decided that was stupid and thought that it was better to invest my money in the market and make more money.  By the time I had bought all good furniture and threw a party I saw someone gave me a recommendation for a stock.  So the next day I took that persons advice, cautiously, and bought on stock that he recommended and also bought another stock I thought would be good.  The next day his stock shot up through the roof and I knew what the game was about.

After this point I ended up spending all my money on furniture to wait for a stock tip at this party and spent loads of money maxing out that stock.  Immediately the amount of money I was making skyrocketed.  This game was pretty much telling me, “if you want to make money you must make friends that can help you.”  On my own I can generate a decent revenue, but those tips generated so much more revenue.

This whole “party” system was a bit of a cheat.  On my second play through I ended up throwing a party everyday and made a million dollars in about 30 weeks.  The first time it took me about 70 weeks after using the tips on my 60th week.  I ended up becoming a bit of a robot just using the tips I got at the party.  Sure I reached my goal faster, but I didn’t do it by myself.

That was why I really liked this game.  Depending on how you play the game, you end up feeling two different things.  You could feel a sense of pride by making a million dollars honestly, or feel like you didn’t really achieve anything and you cheated your way to a million dollars.

The End Of Us

It is really difficult to write about what I felt when I played this game.  After writing and deleting for a while I have decided that this game is essentially a metaphor for lust.  What this game does great at, is providing a lack of context but creating huge meaning by the movement of your “comet” and the NPC comet.

When the second comet flew into the window I thought it was an enemy at first so I tried to attack it.  After a while I saw that it was harmless so I left it alone and started swerving around with it.  Once it started collecting all the stars in the window I saw it as a threat and started to attack it again to gain all the stars.  The ending was the most confusing for me.  I don’t know if I was supposed to feel sorry for the other comet or if I had won the game.

This is a very simple game, but I still cannot wrap my head around what exactly its meaning was.  I have a few other ideas but I feel like they are just wild guesses.

Summary

Overall out of the 10 games I believe I played all but the ones above were the ones I felt were the best.  As for an honourable mention the game Distance deserves a mention. Its essentially a long distance dating simulator with minimal options.  The only reason why I found this one interesting is how they portrayed the actual dating.  While it did not invoke any huge feelings for me, I did connect with the game on some points but the game was too short to build any strong emotional bond to anything.  Also the game took place in the third person point of view so that the game can be played by both men and women.  I thought this was a pretty interesting design choice rather then picking male or female.

Thank you for reading
– Moose

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