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JMachine’s Halloween Grab Bag 2020

by on November 6, 2020
 

It’s that time of year again! Well it was and i missed the deadline for this article to still be relevant but entertain me will you? From it’s humble beginnings of kids pretending to be mobsters, extorting their neighbors for candy, Halloween is a time to embrace all things spooky and sweet. Since I’m not a big fan of candy and since putting on a bunch of costumes and reviewing them wouldn’t fit well with this publication, I’ve decided to once again review all the games I beat this month. The only requirement was each game i played had to be Halloween themed. With that out of the way here are the 12 hecking games I ended up beating this year; briefly reviewed for your viewing pleasure. *warning: This is a long article but luckily the reviews are short so hopefully you find something you like.

Detention: Based on the events of Taiwan’s White Terror period during the 1960’s, Red Candle Games’ Detention is a side scrolling, puzzle game with heavy narrative. The game design is beautiful. Each puzzle guiding the player in a way that brings forth a great experience. There is enough challenge here to keep game play engaging all while maintaining a proper flow of the story. A beautiful game worth every moment played. B+

Devotion: Red Candle Games knocked it out of the park again with this game! Devotion Is the 3D answer to their previous game Devotion. The puzzles guide the player beautifully as we piece through the story of a broken families past. This game was the second scariest experience I had all month. Unfortunately P.T. took that crown. (More on that one in the year end review) That said the atmosphere in Devotion always kept me on edge. The jump scares were used sparingly and to great effect as atmosphere clawed at your back without reprieve. By far the best game of this month and possibly my favorite game of the year. The only thing making this perfect is I don’t understand Chinese and thus cannot properly understand the more subtle parts like articles on the wall or references to things I no doubt missed. A

*Those interested in playing Detention will find themselves with a difficult task. The game used to be on steam but it was down voted to the point it was removed from the storefront by Chinese gamers. Apparently there was a Winnie the Pooh meme hidden on one of the hallway walls that was in a pirated version of the game; causing the upset and subsequent down vote delisting. Hopefully Red Candle will find a way around this and offer it in North America again.

Demon’s Tilt: If there is one thing that isn’t easy to get in this modern gaming world it’s a decent pinball game outside of the few arcades and bars still left in this country. Demon’s Tilt, by Flarb LLC (Man i love that name), alleviates that problem. This is fast paced, adrenaline pumping, board full of secrets and bonus’ that will keep you hooked for hours. Those who are devout followers to the order of the William’s will find solace in this altar. B

Xeno Crisis: Those not interested in pinball but still chomping at the bit for arcade action can find it here with Xeno Crisis. Available for the genesis, as well as PC, this love letter to Smash T.V. from Bitmap Bureau would surely drain anyone’s quarters if it were in cabinet form. Luckily for us this can be played in the comforts of our own home. It’s true twin stick SCHMUP mayhem and a refreshing break from all the scary games i played this month. B+

Observation: This, alongside Xeno Crisis, was grabbed via Microsoft’s’ Xbox game pass. It was a very fun puzzle packed, FMV game about being stranded in space as an A.I. OS (SAM). it would be very hard to discuss this game without spoiling it so I’ll just say this: It took 3 hours, it was free via game pass, and it was a very good time. Get your $1 promo out or buy some Pop Tarts, whatever works for you and play this! A-

Through the Woods: A viking has kidnapped your child. Are you a bad enough mom to rescue your child? All joking aside; TtW was a heavily atmospheric exploration game. You play a mother who decides to go to the vacation home in the woods with your son, not to take a break or anything, but to get work done. Your son hates this and despite much pestering to avoid the docks, decides to go there anywhere and gets kidnapped by a viking. Being this is a modern world tale, it’s a little weird to see that happen. Undaunted by this, you swim after them and what happens next is full of suspense and wonderful. My second favorite game of the month. A

Unforgiving – A Northern Hymn: Mildly similar TtW except you were kidnapped by your brother because he felt that was the appropriate way to detox you… Stupid beginnings aside, Unforgiving is more puzzle heavy but still heavily relies on Scandinavian folklore and exploration to weave it’s tale. Much scarier but also more boring during the quieter parts where you explore. It has a harp you can play though so there’s that. Overall a solid B.

Milk Inside a Bag of Milk Inside a Bag of Milk: This short Visual Novel was interesting to say the least. In fact it’s so short I don’t think I could say anything without spoiling it. I’ll just say it was inexpensive, enjoyable, and oddly unsettling. Make sure you get the good ending! C+

Yume Nikki -Dream Diary: This is the 3D version of the RPG maker made cult classic. Once purchased long ago in a humble bundle; it’s time to shine is now and boy did it ever shine. You collect mini games to play on your Famiclone, you have interesting puzzles to clear, and you have an interesting, if not mildly confusing story to unravel. Being that the story is entirely comprised of dreams, Yumi Nikki is the story of a girl trying to make sense of her troubled past in a way that would make Salvador Dali proud. Some people will tell you the 2D original is far superior but this newer version actually scared me a few times and just feels more natural to it’s plot and design. There is even a secret ending for those who collect all the eggs and jellyfish! I had fun with this and I think you will as well. B

T-Gotchi!: This was a short, yet interesting experience I found while searching the indie store itch.io. You have yourself a Tamagotchi like game where you spend time with the human trapped inside. Unfortunately for me I tried everything I could think of to get a good ending but later found out it didn’t exist. Instead… well let’s just say if things like suicide and other sensitive topics of it’s kind aren’t your thing you should avoid this at all costs. I am one of those people. The warning was there but it never feels real till you actually find why it exists in games though right? At least that’s what usually happens to me. I’m sure people who liked DDLC will be right at home with T-Gotchi! though. C-

Xanadu Next: Not scary at all but very enjoyable; Xanadu Next is Falcom’s attempt at making a game for the N-GAGE, realize the terrible mistake they made, and then port their answer to western RPG’s to PC. It’s a Gothic themed tale of a disgraced soldier and his childhood friend as they research and explore a mysterious island. “But JMachine!” I hear you calling; “What makes this Halloween themed?” Well 10 minutes into the game you almost die. The only way to save your life was to graft your soul to a guardian spirit and the only way to make things permanent is to find a mythical sword, said to exist in a castle nobody has been inside. OK. It’s a bit of a stretch, all things considered, but I needed a break from being scared all the time! It was still a very enjoyable game though. grab the reshade mod guide in the steam community to make the experience the best it can be though. A-

Resident Evil 5: The true start to Capcom’s cinematic universe. Resident evil 5 is a relatively fast paced, FMV heavy Shooter with little to do with actual zombies like in the earlier games. In fact these enemies are more like people who decided to cosplay like zombies but refuse to be in character. They are intelligent, fast, and will shoot you with anything they have. Part of me wishes these games weren’t a part of the series (4,5,6 to be specific) as they just don’t feel like Resident evil to me. The remakes of 2 and 3 as well as 7 are examples that they can still make the old formula work. But I wasn’t playing those. I played 5 gold on PC. I also had the pleasure of playing this online in co-op! When it worked the game was fun. It didn’t always work though so here’s a handy disclaimer and the reason I give RE5, on PC anyways, a D:

YOU MUST MOD THE GAME TO GET IT TO EVEN BOOT THE FIRST TIME!! Capcom is still selling this with Windows Live integration only… that doesn’t exist anymore. the game literally will not work on steam if you simply download it and hit play. Luckily there is a mod in the community guides page to fix that. in fact you’ll need three guides to make the game work properly. This is because the game will corrupt save, prevent proper trading of items, will crash while playing online, and a host of other issues I’d rather not bog this article down with. once it’s all fixed up though it’s not bad though the single player still sucks so I ain’t bumping up my grade lol. D

And there you have it. Twelve games of varying joy bringing that made up my entire month. While all games had mixed reviews, they all were fun enough to recommend so if any of these seemed interesting give them a go! What games did you play during October? Let me know in the comments below.

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