Driving creates so many sensory memories, or at least descriptions of those sensory memories that can change depending on when and where a person is driving. Whether it’s the street lamps rushing past while you ride in the backseat on a long road trip or that memory of you and your friends driving down the oceanfront with the convertible’s top down during spring break.
Wheels of Aurelia creates new memories with the protagonist Lella driving the Via Aurelia to reach the French Riveria in the the late ’70s. What Wheels of Aurelia does so different from other driving games is the focus on character stories. Throughout the drive different paths may be taken depending on the exits and the dialogue options that are chosen between characters such as Olga, Gorilla and others. In fact, Wheels of Aurelia could almost be considered a visual novel, but it is too ambitious to be held back by one genre.
The characters in 1970s Italy are all fueled by political interests and social topics that create discussion between themselves that the player has to navigate. “Any news about President Moro?”, “Are you a feminist?” and “Can I ask what you think about abortion?” are all topics that Olga may bring up within the first ten minutes of a playthrough. The time period is educational too, I know nothing about Italy in the 70s and topics such as Pasolini’s murder and “the real revolution in May ’68” that Lella speaks of in France led me to doing some research after each playthrough.
The game is currently still in beta and can be purchased from developer Santa Ragione’s website. So what are you waiting for? As the Italian’s say, buon viaggio!
|Recommended by Kieffer Wilson||Monday, January 18th, 2016||No Comments »|
As 2016’s first month opens up we’re looking forward to the excited works coming from some of our favorite creators. I’m personally excited for No Man’s Sky, The Neon Demon, and Sunset Park, but what excites me the most is the sucker punches. Pony Island is the first sucker punch that landed on me this year coming from Daniel Mullins, who also developed Agent Maxwell and Grav, for mobile devices. It’s easy to assume multiple things when seeing Pony Island, with the obvious first being that it looks like a simple sidescrolling arcade game. But if I were to spoil you a bit and say that the game dives into the human soul, a war of faith, and a devilish take on game development, it may seem a bit different than what the cover reveals.
The most difficult thing about recommending Pony Island is that the immense satisfaction the game brings comes from discovery and going in blind. So many amazing twists appear throughout the game that would be instant-selling points, but all of those points come from not knowing what you’re getting into. Even without those points though, Pony Island is another fresh take on narratives in video games. Throughout playing the player tries to answer what the story behind the main character is, where they are, and are they alone in this battle against the devil himself? Finding the answers to these questions never become stale either, with each half hour throwing something completely different at the player.
I won’t give away much more about Pony Island, but do yourself a favor, hop onto Steam and experience the smartest surprise to start off your year.
|Recommended by Kieffer Wilson||Monday, January 11th, 2016||No Comments »|
Many first-person narrative experiences have started being labeled as “walking simulators” as more games of the same type start appearing on services like Steam and itch.io. Even consoles are starting to see releases of these first-person titles, with games like Ether One, which came out earlier this year, and Gone Home, which will be released on Playstation next month. It is such a disparaging term for this group of games though, as many of them are different experiences and have unique pieces to reveal to the player. Rememoried is just one example of a title that has been herded into this genre that really experiments with different ideas to create something that does not fit into this genre.
Traveling through the stars, the player must rediscover the meaning to memories and, along with that, also learn what it means to forget those memories. This isn’t explained through point-to-point storytelling. Instead, the game’s mechanics and its connection to the player are of vital importance. As the player goes through multiple “acts,” different objectives must be discovered and then completed, but they are not always clear. As you progress, voices of the wise, the comforting, and the curious all speak — then the world of memory and stars reveal themselves more.
This is not a game that you should look into too much before experiencing it yourself; it has a couple of moments that really become memorable from self-discovery. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to remember what it means to forget.
|Recommended by Kieffer Wilson||Tuesday, December 29th, 2015||No Comments »|
Back in September this year my family adopted their first purebred puppy and it has been a pretty crazy experience so far. Teaching her to go to the bathroom outside, not to jump up on every person out of excitement and how the cat is not something to hunt has all been exhausting but something I wouldn’t trade if I had the chance.
Loot Hound reminds me of a lot of the experiences I have had walking with my dog at the park. In the game, your companion will look around at the things in the park that they find exciting — sometimes it is a person, other times it is a group of insects. Loot Hound also captures the times where a dog digs up holes in the ground and flies off of the handle to chase a smell, only this time your dog finds precious treasures! There isn’t much more to it. Your dogs can all can be upgraded and there is a little bit of information about the main character with each treasure retrieved. The real joy is really walking around the park with your four-legged best friend and being at peace knowing that they can wreak havoc at any moment.
All of this plays out a bit more relaxing than it would in real life though. No need for flea shampoo or waste bags to play this one!
|Recommended by Kieffer Wilson||Wednesday, December 16th, 2015||No Comments »|
Waking up next to the trash can with a giant bottle and a container of pills, I can only assume that last night didn’t go very well. I look outside to see sections of apartments dancing outside and comets raining down in the sky — they probably had a night as rough as mine. As I look over, my lifeless, mobile computer desk sits in the middle of the room and I notice out of the corner of my eye that my guitar is bobbing in rhythm with my breathing.
You may have guessed it already, but Nekrolog is a story about someone’s death. I guess the title, which means “obituary” in Swedish, gives it away, but the main character falling five stories down a staircase at the beginning of the game gets right to the point as well. It’s not clear on whether it’s suicide or just rotten luck, but your character’s unlucky plummet is when the game truly begins. Not something you can say about an average day.
|Recommended by Kieffer Wilson||Thursday, December 10th, 2015||No Comments »|
One of the most beautiful things about the age we live in is that we can express our emotions and imagination through any medium that our mind can think of. Years before any of us were alive, many who expressed themselves were limited to artwork, writing, or music. However, these days we can now explore what someone is thinking through different forms.
This is what I keep thinking about when I play Armel Gibson’s game OASES. There is no objective, and it isn’t a game where you are supposed to explore. Instead, Gibson wants players to understand what he imagines happened to his grandfather in 1960 when his grandfather’s plane was lost during the Algeria Independence War.
The story of Gibson’s grandfather is not a heartbreaking tale, despite him missing the birth of his son. This is not the story of a man who crashes into the enemy camp or someone who went down fighting to their last breath. OASES is about a person that stumbles upon an undiscovered world of beauty and is overwhelmed by a state of euphoria. The plane rolls with exuberance through different environments filled with giant waterfalls of the past and snow leaf trees that stretch beyond the sky. The kaleidoscopic mountain ranges can never be reached and the plane never crashes — this is all about existing within an imagination.
Originally Armel created OASES for Now Play This, an event that took place in London earlier in the year. Now it’s open for anyone to play and download.
Make sure to play OASES multiple times. Each time the man’s plane begins to fall, there is a new world to be discovered.
|Recommended by Kieffer Wilson||Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015||No Comments »|
We haven’t played Genesis Noir yet because, well, it hasn’t been made yet. Currently in the blueprint stages, creators Evan Anthony and Jeremy Abel were inspired by literary stories and, of course, film noir to create a game that’s as much about science as it is about romance. Taking place before and after The Big Bang, the game puts you in the middle of a love triangle. After a shot rings out, it’s up to you to stop the universe from expanding and to save the one you love. Presented in non-linear format, the players will be able to click and explore the story at their own pace.
What caught our eye about this game is the concept art. Using a pristine, minimalist design, the art captures the noir aesthetic without feeling too familiar. You can keep track of the project here, but in the meantime, enjoy these stunning screenshots of the concept art, which should satiate you until the real thing comes out. (H/t: Video Game Art Styles)
|Recommended by The Absolute Staff||Friday, November 20th, 2015||1 Comment »|