They should give classes on how to construct blog posts titles. This week on Under the Bed we explore two games which are a little heavier and thought-provoking than the standard fare.
She Who Fights Monsters, 2014
Rochelle B., aka Gaming Pixie, is a former game reviewer and current developer with works based on personal themes relatively uncommon to the gaming world, such as bisexuality; she’s perhaps best known for her two Twine games on the subject, What’s in a Name? and Eden. Her recent RPG Maker title, She Who Fights Monsters, in contrast, deals with growing up with an alcoholic father (with a bit more finesse and less spiders than Lisa), and is also based on her own experience.
You play as Jenny, an ordinary little girl who likes dress up, cookies, and playing video games on the big tv (who doesn’t?), and must make it through seven days facing a mercurial family life, ultimately deciding how she plans to face the future. Jenny acquires different memories throughout which shed light on the history she has with her father, one that allows Pixie to craft a narrative that is not all j’accuse.
She Who Fights Monsters is a great example of what people mean when they refer to games as art (unless they’re talking about this). Rochelle’s plot themes and interactive mechanics groove very well in unison, and the choice to portray encounters with Father as RPG battles was probably the best she could have made.
Playtime is around 20 minutes and there are three endings depending on your choice at the end. The author dubs it a “survival horror game of sorts” though as far as I understand it there’s no way to “get caught” or “die.”
Play this game if you’re interested in a fairly distinct emotional experience on the indie scene or if you’re tired of Japanese schoolgirls with technicolor haircuts.
Garden of Oblivion, 2014
Designed for Ludum Dare 30 with the theme “connected worlds,” this visual novel by Träumendes Mädchen is like a teenaged retelling of Dreaming Mary (right down to the intellectual bird friend with a monocle), but geared towards nihilism rather than
sexual assault agriculture. In Garden of Oblivion, our hero/ine Reven wakes up in a strange garden, where they encounter a number of friendly animal companions. Though staying in the garden promises eternal bliss, Reven can’t help but be drawn towards the door marked with an eye that he/she’s forbidden to go through.
Sure enough we soon find this world is a distraction meant to keep Reven from entering back into reality as they fight with their mental illness. The animals become increasingly cantankerous the more Reven rebels the rules they have established, and each time she/he manages to get through the door, the dream world inches closer to death.
As far as puzzles are concerned, “Oblivion” plays a bit like Halloween Otome. There’s one riddle you’ll be able to solve if you were awake during freshman year English, and the rest involves choosing books that might be relevant to the conflict at hand and solving jigsaw puzzles to get useful items out of them. There are two endings to get though acquiring the true ending for me was not at all a challenge, probably because I’m old and susceptible to basic classical conditioning and pattern recognition.
I might not recommend this title if only because I didn’t much care for Halloween Otome’s kind of gameplay and I thought Dreaming Mary was much more adept with the whole “secretly a horror game” shtick (which is my favorite shtick). However, if you’re a fan of the Coma plot set-up or disliked Dreaming Mary’s
sexual farming overtones, give it a try!