Visions of an Apocalypse

I began writing this post, a review of two (now three) games that dealt with the end of the world about a year ago. In what remains of the draft, I had the line; “it’s the end of the decade, we don’t have time for details.” Eerily prophetic because in the time since the world really is ending and it’s doing so as T. S. Elliot suggested, not with a bang, but with a whimper.

As a species, we have been contemplating the end times since the beginning times. Poems, films, video games, even whole religions are based around imagining what it will be like when there no coming back, when progress reverses and we enter terminal decline. Something I’ve been thinking about, during our very real unfolding apocalypse, is that I need to finish things I start because at some point, this is all going to come to an end. So here’s three short reviews of three short games and their take on the end of the world.

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STAY (Away)

STAY is the story of a therapist named Quinn who was abducted in the early morning and woke up to find himself in a dank basement with seemingly no way out and a computer hooked up to a private instant message conversation with you on the other end. You talk Quinn through the challenges he faces and the game also tracks how long you are not playing for, inviting you to ‘stay’ with Quinn long as your absence affects his mood and trust in you. It’s an original and interesting premise that is unfortunately let down by almost every other aspect of this game. If anything you should stay away from this game.

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Gato Roboto – Meowtroid Zero Kitten

What if Metroid was a cat? You would finally be able to crawl. It would also be a completely different game with different level design, different movement options and Nintendo probably would have chosen Yoshi to star in the game instead. Hmmm, that wouldn’t be such a bad timeline. We would have a whole genre of Yoshivanias. Moving on from this alternative past, we have a brand new Indie game called Gato Roboto with a similar aesthetic to the original Metroid on NES. You could argue it’s even more ancient as it lacks a full colour palette. However, once you start playing this game it comes to life and impresses with modern movement and design.

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Yoku’s Island Express – Pinball Platforming

Don’t mind me, I’m just a dung beetle doing my best. It’s a little hard to see with this big ball of poop in front of me, but I just roll with it. Life is all about perspective, and I take things with a side-on view. Getting from one place to another can be difficult, but life is all about the journey itself and I’m having a lot of fun.

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Squidlit – Squishy Platforming

Hello. My name’s Plip and I’m a Squidlit. I’m no magic Squizard, but I can jump, shoot ink downwards, and move my little squidlit body left and right. That’s all you need to get through life really. Oh, and a healthy supply of muffins.

Thanks Cheflit, now I’m all set. A catapult shoots dozens of muffins into the distance, as they scatter across the upcoming levels. It’s nice to finally see some valid lore for health pickups.

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Rush Rally 3 – Rookie Developer Defeats Champion

5 right, into 3 left. Hairpin right. 6 left. Over crest. 22 dollars. Available on the eShop now. *thud*

Oops, I was meant to be giving directions. Welcome to Rush Rally 3! A rally driving game on Switch made by a single person Indie team called Brownmonster Limited. This is not the official rally game but who needs that, when you can race against Sebastien Lube and Marcus Groanholm instead?

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Rogue Singularity – Infinite Possibilities

What’s a robot to do? I’ve been told I have no purpose, yet I must have been created by someone, for something. These randomly generated “tests” lie in front of me, daring me to adapt. I use all my abilities to get through one after the other. Perhaps that is my purpose. I am the only playable character in this game. I am destined to play through these levels and beat them. I must do what nobody else can. This is the job I was created for.

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Never Stop Sneakin’ – You Have One Job

I’m finally free from the Amadeus facility. I had been locked in a room for 3 months with nothing but a PS Vita, and forced to write about games I had no interest in. An agent from the Department of Sneakin’ was able to free me by taking the keycard off a guard and coming back to bail me out of this room. Apparently they are building a time machine & need my help. I’m not sure how useful I can be as a videogame reviewer, but Major Milestone was adamant I write about solitaire. I was more than happy to.

After submitting a 285 page writeup on the intricacies of solitaire, I stood there while the boss read it all, occasionally nodding his head. It turns out Major Milestone already knew the ins and outs of Solitaire. This was just a test, and the real game I was tasked to review was Never Stop Sneakin’ on Nintendo Switch. This game existed in an alternate reality in one of Amadeus several timelines, & before reviewing I had to sneak back into his facility to grab the game. The Department of Sneakin’ had declared it too dangerous to sneak in again, so they hooked up the Nintendo Switch digitally to give me control of another agent. The logic was sound, as the top-down view I had was a lot more than anyone could see on the ground. Their life was in my hands now.

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The Friends of Ringo Ishikawa – Impressions

I don’t yet know what to make of The Friends of Ringo Ishikawa. Seemingly developed by one guy in Russia, The Friends of Ringo Ishikawa sees you play as a directionless high school thug who is threatened with expulsion from his school, which he hardly attends due to spending all his time getting into gang fights. It’s like a tribute to NES classic River City Ransom or some sorta slice of life anime like Cromartie High School which I’ve never watched but Deguello says is a parody.

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Metagal – Please Nerf

A Mega Man clone for $5? Heck yeah! What could possibly go wrong? Well how about everything. I bought Metagal because of its price and felt a wave of regret almost immediately after seeing the first low quality cutscene art and blurry text. This is an unfinished game that lingered as a Steam green-light title for 3 years with no approval, and has now been dumped on consoles for a few bucks. The very first screen on the Switch version is a blurry Joycon Grip diagram with white background, and it doesn’t really get better in the cutscene. Instead of a full-blown review this is going to be a short impression piece, since I could only stomach playing 4 of the game’s 8 levels. There are zero reviews online listed on Metacritic so I feel a sense of duty to warn people about this game.

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SteamWorld Dig 2 – Going Deeper

It’s been 89 days since Rusty went missing. From the small desert town of Tumbleton I’ve found myself in a brand new mining town, El Machino. This place is huge. It’s quite high up on a hill, full of houses, buildings and machines, has a population in the triple digits (so the sign says), and there’s even a rocket! The people here are quite simple minded and they are all trying to make a living, but still they are quite welcoming. Everyone wants to do business and The Mayor is happy to stand around and brag. The overall feeling is that there’s a lot more going on here than Tumbleton. Even the music is on a new level with a very funky baseline and more elements than I’ve heard before. Wait, what music? Must be in my head. I’ve come a long way to get here.

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Horizon Chase Turbo – Arcade Racing Isn’t Dead

Punk’s not dead and neither is speed. Horizon Chase Turbo delivers colourful thrills at over 300kph and has crashed into the Nintendo eShop at full speed. If you’ve recently found yourself enjoying the 12th port of Outrun and reminiscing the good old days, this could be the game that makes you feel alive again.

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GRIS – Comfortable Discomfort

You’ve lost yourself. Material objects lay scattered under a decorated tree, endless plates of food are spread across a table, but the holiday spirit has drained the life out of you. There’s no reason for any of this when you just want to lie down. You open the eShop in a desperate search for salvation, but it paralyses you further. So many meaningless titles. Pages and pages of sales. Now you are falling perpetually with no landing in sight, as the bottom of the screen never fills. Suddenly one name stands out, GRIS? The gameplay is a bit unclear but it’s a game about loss with some very high quality art. This might just do it. This might fill the emptiness within your soul.

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