Kraken Academy – Why I’m In Love With Broccoli Girl

Kraken Academy has been on my mind since I first eyed a trailer of it some months ago. “I have to play that one,” came to mind. Many of you are probably familiar with my love of visual novels. And in this case, I’m working with a combination of visual novel and interactive fiction characteristics–an all-things-aside awesome and hilarious game. Explore the bizarre introduction to Kraken Academy with me, and I’ll explain why you might start loving visual novels after all and why you should continue to if you already do.

Kraken Academy” is the first in a handful of showcases I’ll be doing here as part of “The Indie Houses” Steam event through my community at Indie Game Collective. I don’t usually boast about this kind of thing at the beginning of my reviews, but I am very grateful for this opportunity, I’ll say that.

Thank you to the Indie Houses Event program and my buds at Indie Game Collective.

The Weird World of Kraken Academy

You’re in the car with your sister and mom off to a new academy. After arriving, the grounds are a bit… off. As in, there is sludge and trash everywhere. This is a respected school? Yeah, that is intentional. It’s not totally revealed in the demo, but absolutely everything is messed up for some reason, and I think it has something to do with soda pop?? I admit, I’m drinking coffee out of a Ravenclaw mug, what of it? Heavy HP allusions here, but nothing infringing, and mild parody is enough to make a subtle nod in my fandom categories but provide something totally weird and new, plus hilarious.

Kraken Academy Mom
Dropped off!

When you attempt to enter the school grounds, a security system denies you for not having an access card. There are some different options here, but I just paid the creepy guy by the gate my lifesaving for a security card. It was impulsive, but that’s one thing that’s fun to roleplay in visual novels for me.

I should definitely affirm for you though, this is not just a visual novel. There are interactive top-down RPG elements, and some basic puzzle solving. You can choose either easy or hard when you start a new game. I went for easy, like I normally do because I prefer bumper lanes; that’s just what I do!

Roleplaying in Kraken Academy

It probably sounds kind of weird to reference RPGs as a source of potentially used game inspiration, while just having said it’s not exactly an RPG, but also kind of acknowledge that it is. Add on that this game is equally as much a dating sim. Plus you’ll physically wander around a pixel art academy and go, on what I presume are several missions to complete the game. Take all of that and I can’t remember what infomercial that’s from, but it’s a good one: “Set it. And forget it.” Did I mention I like easy games?

Actually, it’s more traditional to refer to these games, at least on Steam, as interactive fiction. That wraps it up–on Steam. I had no problem finding anything in the game or knowing what to do.

Mrs. Petrova Screen Teacher
Mrs. Petrova

I’m always up to causing the most amount of trouble with the least amount of liability for my characters. Kraken Academy had no problem accommodating that. I think, specifically, about my interaction with a delightful little character named “Broccoli Girl.” Yep, she’s a cute broccoli person. Why not?

And why not is also totally it. It’s like the devs took everything they could think of and just said yep, we’ll do that, it’s hilarious. Broccoli Girl sends you to the lake to get a costume for her party.

What lurks in that tentacled character silhouette that appeared in the woods? Oh yeah, it’s Kraken! The namesake of this game! He gave me a demo mission to collect an amulet and some tentacle pieces in the trash, which again is everywhere. The majesty of the Kraken is pretty amusing. He’s flippin’ humongous, about the size of the lake. And as usual, every character in this game is hilarious.

What I Hope For In Launch

When comes to what I want from the launch, the first is more Broccoli Girl. There was plenty in the demo, but I still want more Broccoli Girl. The moment I saw the tufted, verdant branches of her head’s face area, I said, “that’s the one.” I’m just kidding, I have no idea if broccoli people are even a real niche? My logo is a face made out of pizza though–do you understand the level of reciprocation here?

Kraken Academy Broccoli Girl
Broccoli Girl

I get a kick out of visual novels with any level of anthropomorphism. I find it very fascinating to look at. At times, I cross into animistic idealism which is way the heck out of the scope of this showcase, but you know–animal, vegetable, mineral!

Plus, I definitely want to see the Kraken mission solved, but I sincerely antipicate that is a given.

Mostly, I just want to see this fleshed out. There was something I didn’t explain enough, that I will now, which is: the character art for the dialogue is exquisite. Everything I love about visual novels is captured in these custom art caricatures to an extent that absolutely thrills me! From the buttons on people’s clothes to the inspiring facial expressions, it just looks so good. Combined with the hilarious dialogue and context, it’s just really really neat.

And those are my thoughts.

The Kraken
The Kraken

Thanks For This Opportunity!

I hope that gives you enough of a written preview to make a decision on what’s available in Kraken Academy. My time with it was better than I thought it would be, and that’s just so nice because I was hoping for the best.

In the meantime, thank you so much for reading Mr. Dave Pizza, and please come back again!

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Raptor Boyfriend – Gosh I Love How Weird This Is

Raptor Boyfriend: A High School Romance is an ambitious and masterfully crafted visual novel/dating sim that takes place in small-town Ontario. With fun cryptid characters and absolutely stunning illustrations, its gameplay value is probably some of the best I’ve seen for this genre. I have been excited to play this for some time, as a general fan of visual novels and cryptid fantasy games. You don’t have to worry about anxiety-driven creature interaction though, because this game is safe and accessible to diverse players. Shortly after the day began, I got started on this dive into the world of Ladle, Ontario. Scene one, which is what I played for you, took roughly an hour. Some players on Steam had a playtime of over 20 hours! So, there is a lot of content here, and many different ways to play. Let’s take a look!

Once again, I am so grateful for the support of my friends at Indie Game Collective. This showcase was made in collaboration with Rocket Adrift to sponsor this showcase. If you too would like to showcase indie games on WordPress, Twitch, YouTube, etc, or you are a game dev who wants exposure, let us know!

First Day of School in Raptor Boyfriend

Stella is a high school student who just moved to Ladle, Ontario, which is your standard Twin Peaks‘esque mountain town. It has its fair host of standby humans and a delightful cast of cryptids. They range from Robert Raptorson the raptor to Taylor the bigfoot. Stella is a socially anxious teenager worried about her first day at a new school. In the process, she is seeking to create or discover her true identity. She schemes from a selection of options how she will amaze her new classmates with how cool or edgy she is. Unfortunately, these things don’t really go to plan. And that’s not necessarily bad!

The first day revolves around Stella’s locker. Here you meet Robert, Fae, and Ingrid. Early on you are invited to a party at “The Lake.” You’re quested to attend later in the evening and invite some cool people too. At first, this is terribly daunting. For a transplant new girl who’s simply playing it by ear though, the success in this task is remarkable on her part. After a finished day, some lounging around at home, and a phone call, you will make it to The Lake. It may not be exactly what it first seems though, and a chanceful interaction sheds light on what’s going on. From there, you’ll share an initiation of secrets and pure hilarity–and also sweetness.

Features of Raptor Boyfriend

Taking a break from the standard dev feature list, Raptor Boyfriend has a succinct and intriguing feature list that is unique for a visual novel with lots of cool stuff!

  • Phone calls
  • Sleepovers
  • Make out sessions
  • Chill moments
  • Collectibles
  • Bonus scenes
  • Reading – accessible font Open Dyslexia
  • Multiple Endings
  • Cassette tapes
  • It’s 1997, man
  • A Furry Boi
  • A Scaly Boi
  • A Fae Bae
  • A Friday the 13th Spookfest
  • A Totally X-Treme Dinosaur
  • A Vengeful Ghost
  • A really deep moment where you star-gaze and talk about feelings and stuff
  • Controller support

Thoughts and Feelings on Raptor Boyfriend

I find the messages in Raptor Boyfriend to be really positive and rather sweet. Making friends and worrying about appearances is something we all deal with in new situations Playing Raptor Boyfriend leaves me with a warm feeling about how the cool kids are really just winging it themselves. The things that make us feel like we’re weird or inappropriate, aren’t really as big a deal as we think they are often. And you can’t be wrong if you do what’s in your heart. Also, sometimes it’s easier to get along with a member of another species!

With the really cool art, music, and sound effects, this is a quality production. There is also just about the right level of control in dialogue options. You can control what happens in the story without veering off course too much. In the last part of scene one, there was a part of the dialogue to say what the worst thing Stella has ever done in her life is. It’s a kind of initiation of sorts, and the selections and responses had me laughing SO hard. This game is complex and thoughtful, but hilarious in many parts. And I encourage you to check it out!

Bonus Thoughts

Well, that was pretty sweet altogether. Games like this are why I have such a fondness for visual novels. You may be familiar with Rocket Adrift from their other game Order a Pizza. This is not just a game, it’s a world. So, if you have lots of time, or even a little time, and the ability to purchase Raptor Boyfriend: A High School Romance, do it! There is also a demo, so you can try it out first. You won’t regret it.

Thank you so much for reading Mr. Dave Pizza. I have reviewed many games like this and I encourage you to look around my site. And please come back again!

Neo Cab: Rear-View Mirror of The Future: Review

Neo Cab is an award-winning visual novel released in 2019 somewhere within the future echoes of driver automation and the course of smart services. It involves themes of corporate monopolization, intimate driver/passenger simulations, and the management of being a business in the contemporary market. The story features Lina, an empathic cab driver new in Los Ojos, where being an actual cab driver is a rare occupation. There are many nuances to Neo Cab. Let me take you through them.

Meet Lina

The desert city of Los Ojos is a luminescent backdrop for the nocturnal journey of Lina’s relocation to this city. Neo Cab’s plotline for Lina hinges on some emotional preconceptions and some major miscalculations. If you’re unfamiliar with Uber or Lyft, I’ll explain quickly. A trend is emerging that has resulted in the wide culling of traditional cabs. In exchange, there are now drop-in drop-out freelance services anybody can drive fore.

This is about the progression where Lina works. The town of Los Ojos has embraced an entirely different form of universal automated transportation. The service is run by Capra. It’s an idea that has caught on as a possible future outlook in many proposals and speculations.

Part one. Lina, a human driver, does an initial pickup to feel things out, although quickly gets a vibe that maybe things aren’t going to be quite what she expects. The clients she picks up lead down more and more bizarre variations that cause quite a bit of disillusion. Lina picks up a past friend/lover with some heavy emotional past. The conversation is highly foreboding, but this person gives Lina a very important instrument to experience the story.

Remember Mood Rings?

Lina’s extremely flaky friends gift her a special bracelet. A clever tool in telling the story, the bracelet lights up with an array of color hues. The colors represent the actual mood of the wearer. Yellow is positive, green is relaxed, red is angry, and blue is just blue, depressed or sad. It’s interesting to see how different customers can run the gambit of Lina’s emotions with their bizarre antics. I gave a ride to a cyborg corporate spy that spiked the bracelet bright red. Actually, the next client does that too, but he’s rather passionate and respectful, so the bracelet turns chill green after some initial head-butting.

An interesting facet of this story tech is that the many interactions Lina can have are sometimes restricted because they are so extreme that they do not reflect her best interest. It is unique in a way because most visual novels have a few options that lead to a different reaction. In a nice, disguised mechanic, you get the sensation of what some of the crazy things you could say are, without actually even having the option to do so. These responses are slightly tinted in the corner with the color of the intense emotion.

The Cybernetics of Neo Cab

Occasionally, whether various sci-fi conceptions fall into the cyberpunk category reflects a trend in fictionalized stories, and if there is some sort of bingo board or what have you to put them there. Neo Cab is definitely part of the cyberpunk mass genre heart-thumping that’s around. Technology, big corporations, humans, cybernetics, and social deconstruction. Yeah, it’s definitely in there.

You might find also that this story, while quite a social commentary, is also what game tags would define as atmospheric and casual. You can jump right back into the game and find some passengers even if you duck out for a while after a long client ride. The art in the game is very clean and friendly too. There are heavy topics, but nothing real crude or graphic. There is some swearing, but it’s just in there–this is really a game for adult folks too if you’re wondering, although it’s pretty accessible overall.

Final Thoughts on Neo Cab

This game means a lot to me. It symbolizes themes from my experiences of city-living, technology, story-telling, and gaming–especially visual novels! It’s really a high-quality release and can hold its own as an indie yet an excellent product. You’ll find a link right below here to the steam page. The value is plenty strong because there’s quite a bit to do in the game.

I hope you enjoy this content here at MrDavePizza.com. I am constantly working on giving you a deep slice of the indie gaming world and beyond. There is an exceptional amount of content here, so please have a look around! Thanks for stopping by!

My Cup Of Coffee: The Trouble With Earl Grey – You Can Connect The Secrets

My Cup of Coffee: The Trouble with Earl Grey is a visual novel that takes place in a very imaginative turn-of-the-century coffee shop presumably somewhere within Victorian society. You play as a family apprentice of the coffee trade and you more or less are plonked right into days as a barista. The story revolves around a casual plot involving a group of customers known as the Grey family. Using clues from casual conversation, you are tasked to unravel the feeling of tension between Mrs. Grey and Mr. Grey and their maid as well.

My Cup of Coffee: In Context

It is definitely always my intention these days to explore these solo dev projects with a tone of casualness and positivity. The dev, Dreamgate, obviously has thought this game through and offered a polished project, which is pretty cool for a VN on Itch.IO! Pretty cool in general. I noticed in the credits that this game was made with Ren’Py, a traditional visual novel creation software. Well done! I’ve wanted to create my own VN for quite a while now and invested in some software on the Steam summer sale. I must play these games to understand what’s involved and frankly, it’s amazing what is possible.

There are around 8 ways I think for the game to end, meaning choice matters!

Gameplay in My Cup of Coffee

This is a traditional visual novel. You enter the scene, some backstory is given, a person enters, and you converse. As you converse with one person, then two, and so on, the story unravels. I like these because they’re really easy and give me a lot of room to focus on minutia within the story. Lady and Earl Grey, the married couple in the plot’s focus, are obviously named after types of tea.

Their maid, Maria Darjeeling a reference to Darjeeling tea as well. It’s a nice tongue-in-cheek joke about tea and coffee. (I hope the game creator/developer doesn’t mind me overanalyzing this swiftly progressed game!) Their costumes are bright and bouncy for a very light atmosphere. There is no real sinister motive from anything I saw, but the story does seem to put emphasis on a locket that Mr. Grey took from Mrs. Grey. I’ll leave that up to you to figure out, but my money is on the maid, Maria Darjeeling.

As a former barista, and literally drinking a cup of coffee as I played this, I’ve learned to enjoy coffee-themed games. Whether you are a fan or not, does not matter particularly, but I love that in one section you can choose whether to engage in a conversation or clean your machine. You’ve got to keep those things neat!

The Vignette

It’s a really simple game that’s nice to look at. If you’re looking for something casual to play a few sessions with, this is my pick at the moment. Luckily plenty of content for a regular-sized review. 16 oz or so, I’d say, although a demitasse would be fine. You can of course donate to the developer if you enjoy it and want to support their work.

So with that, there you have it. My Cup of Coffee. I want to thank you so much for reading MrDavePizza.com. Creating new content on a regular basis now, so please check back! I cover a lot of visual novels if that is definitely your thing, but all kinds of indie games and other topics as well. In the meantime, ‘za out!

P.S. I JUST found out that I can embed a link to Itch.IO games now, so be sure to check that out just below here!

What Comes After – Lost On a Train to the Afterlife

What Comes After is an interactive fiction from the creator Coffee Talk in collaboration with the Rolly Glory Jam. This story-rich game takes place on a pandemic-era commuter train that transforms into a ferry for souls to the afterlife after Vivi falls asleep. There’s no set directive, but the game is experienced through interacting with souls on the train. This ranges from average folks to owls and trees! It is a highly creative and somewhat mystical story that explores deep concepts of purpose and life as well as what comes after.

What Comes After: What Is It?

As a preface, I think its considerate to say that I’ve categorized this game in my mind as a pandemic game because every living character on the intro commute is wearing a mask. This does not necessarily really have to do anything with that topic at all though after about 3 minutes.

This is a game about the afterlife–sort of. More specifically it’s about a “ferry” of sorts to the afterlife in the form of a commuter train that the main character Vivi falls asleep on. It has a strong indie art style with stylistic choices similar to other popular visual novels/interactive fiction with a touch of some Tim Burton-esque montages here and there. It all adds up to a really nice presentation for this story.

Warm Feelings

I have to admit, although there was a time when it fascinated with it, this topic is actually a real phobia for me. I go out of my way to not think about it. That doesn’t mean I think it shouldn’t be discussed. It’s probably one of the most important topics anybody can ever talk about. And this game really doesn’t make it too creepy. I felt there were some really beautiful concepts in this mostly-dialogue game. For example the conversation with a tree about the seasons of life-loving every being. I euphemized that a bit, but you should get what I mean. Not to get too deep into it, but I felt something in my heart during this part.

I have to assess that the mystical elements of this game after probably very Eastern-influenced. Maybe a touch of new-age sentiment. I didn’t get around to talking to every single entity on the train, but I picked a few intriguing prospects to get a feel for it all. You might be shocked at who shows up on the train actually. It’s an inclusive trip! And it has a lot of borrowed concepts from classic storylines involving spirits of all natures!

The Beautiful Art of What Comes After

The one thing I really took from this game was not just a beautiful sentiment but a beautiful game! Everything just looks perfect with hues of purple, blue, and pink in the shadows. Plus any other apropos pastel that can make its way onto the screen. It did remind me a lot of the beautiful art from Coffee Talk, which I’m glad about. It was really kicked up a notch for this heavily thoughtful work.

A few modifications and this could have been kind of creepy, but everything feels very calm and grounded. The people on the train are at times a bit deep in thought but there is no true morbidity or fear in this theme. This feels very anchored to me. If I dare say, it kind of reminds me of the Miyazaki film Spirited Away.

To Whatever’s Next

I certainly don’t have the answers and I only enjoy these types of stories for their novelty, but their value is entirely up to the observer. As far as games that are rich and story and cheaper than a matinee, it’s highly worth it. I highly encourage any gamers hesitant about the story to not fret and give it a try if it sounds interesting. For me, it was so much more than what I expected, and I’m glad.

Thanks a ton for reading MrDavePizza.com. I’m pumping out these reviews regularly, but there is so much content on the site that I encourage you to have a look around! Enjoy, and happy gaming.

Wheels of Aurelia 1978 – This Game Was Shocking But Interesting

Wheels of Aurelia is an interactive-fiction-style racing game set in Italy in 1978. The left-hand steers the wheel of a gritty game that is full of themes of crime, punk, and danger. While the themes are a bit serious, its thematic integrity is in check by fun, innovative game design, and a serious historical snapshot. Drive through the coastlines in low-polygon graphics and talk to your passengers about anything.

Wheels of Aurelia: Clarification

There are a few things to make clear immediately here. As I said, the game is gritty. Some topics are about heavy life issues. I don’t find it any grittier than an average film though, or a classic novel.

The other is that a session in this game lasts around half an hour. That can either appear as too long or not long enough. That’s a beautiful aspect of the game as it were. Every time you play a different storyline can occur with new characters and different scenarios from deep reveals to high-speed car chases. There are 16 different endings that can occur any time you play, rewarded with achievements for keeping track. I don’t really know how to unlock the different endings but from my experience, this is probably possible by the evocative options of your dialogue.

How-To and Why of Wheels of Aurelia

Of course, you can play however you want! There are some simple things to note though. For one, this is a keyboard-controlled game. You use the space bar to accelerate, left and right to maneuver, and up and down to select what dialogue response you want to have. This ends up being a pretty exciting way to experience a visual novel-style story. You might be zooming between two buses on the road while choosing what music you want to talk about. Or there might be something really complex happening that you want to listen to. Of course, you need to watch the road, but I found the driving to be a little bit turbulent at first either way!

The story is inextricably sophisticated though. You play a young, punk woman on her way to France and a history of being kidnapped in a national scandal, while your passengers share all levels of true drama on their own. You won’t be bored in this game, and you’ll most certainly stay glued to the wheel and your enemies.

Hold On, More Here

Okay, I originally cut this way too short, my mistake, it felt as if I had written more. I do not know how to go too into Wheels of Aurelia, besides there are some heavy political and cultural topics. The main character, Lella, is a punk feminist who was kidnapped by a terrorist group in the early 70s. Her passenger asks her about how she can live and let live after such a thing.

I honestly am not sure if this is a real person aside from doing any research, but there are some authentic name drops. It’s also questionable whether they are identifiable as a Stockholm syndrome victim, the classic behavioral condition when a captive person grows fond of their capturer, due to proximity. There’s a momentary glimpse into this in my first run, when Lella goes a bit manic and dares her friend to either kiss them or kill them basically. Yeah, this ain’t lighthearted stuff! (excuse the Mark Twain’esque colloquialism)

There’s a conversation at the beginning with a famous racer too that hits on Lella, without real context. Seems Lella is a racer too. I can only spend so much time on these visual novels because sometimes they seem to have no end. I did enjoy the story in it though because it all fits in really nicely with my pathos of midnight drives or road trips along the coast. Relatability without sacrificing authenticity.

Roll the Credits

Alright, so not light-hearted, maybe less than most games I review! This should be enough context for what is a pretty casual game. Excellent atmosphere and style though. It had the vibes of 1970s Italian cinema. In fact, overall, this is a style of game that emulates cinematic tropes with craft. Reviews on Steam are mixed, but I think perhaps some reviewers expected something totally different. Steam says its release is 5 years ago, so that has a lot to do with it. I see this all the time. 2016 is all MMOs and FPS. This game is part of the ItchIO bundle and appeals to the new generation of gamers with fervor. They call that, “ahead of its time.” I guess maybe it takes time for people to appreciate some creativity.

I hope you enjoy this review. I love finding hidden gems and sharing them with you, so thank you so much for reading MrDavePizza.com. There are plentiful reviews of all kinds of stuff here so have a look around and take your time! Pizza out.

Bard Harder! – This Is One of the Weirdest and Funniest Games

Bard Harder is a visual novel by Shark And Pelican Games. The story is about Robin, who is at a casual imaginary tabletop RPG campaign for a TTRPG called Wizards and Wyverns. The game takes place in alternating environments inside the fantasy game world and the real world amongst teammates and the DM Subin. The gameplay is surprisingly a very good simulation of what it is like to play a TTRPG without actually playing a full-on RPG game. As a bard class character, most of the game takes place on the final boss where you’ve decided to flirt with a dark wizard in an attempt to save yourself and your teammates!

Bard Harder: Please, More Games That Look Like This

This is another very specific genre that I am playing because I am drawn to the style. It is funny how much you can play a game that is a dating sim visual novel without it really being either of those things but intrinsically fitting the descriptors.

This game is $1.99 on Steam, which is a super good deal. The game has some mature themes, but nothing offensive. It is a game with some casual LGBTQ themes, but it is not exclusively that. It’s mostly an open-minded yet comical game with a nice variety of character roles. And once you reach the second half of the game involving the skeletal dark wizard boss, you’re probably going to be laughing more than thinking about anything serious. I thought this game was hilarious.

These visual novels usually make me love this art style. It seems to have a kind of smooth-contoured outline with precise gradient shading. If that sounds really technical, it should, because I don’t even know how it’s done. I’d like to learn how though. In addition to that, every time I play a game like this I feel like I’m experiencing one of the coolest types of storytelling out there! Why not, with such great jokes. Did I mention music? Yes, this game has it. It’s digital instrumental music, but some of it is quite amusing. So, check, check, and check.

Wizards & Wyrverns

The game only takes about 30 minutes to complete, there are four different endings depending on what choices you make and how well you flirt with the skeletal boss. I actually game over’ed on my first attempt! That surprised me, I’m used to everything carrying on no matter what–but it does hurt to have a challenge! I think if you take the time to make educated choices you will probably win. My personal style usually involves just starting up and doing as much as I can and choosing the craziest options. It was maybe not the best strategy, but either way, you can enjoy this game however you like. And for $1.99, it’s seriously worth it, even if it is just to see ways VN’s are being designed. You can jump to the link below if you like.

Just a side note. I have played a handful of dungeons and dragons game campaigns. Unlike these players, I could never find the right time or setting. It’s something I’d pick up again probably because it’s a very social and intellectual genre of game. Sure you can RP in some MMO, but I don’t know, there are more snacks in the real thing.

If you’re kind of confused by what’s going on in this game because you’ve never played a tabletop role-playing game, stop stressing. You literally don’t have to know anything about it, although it does help with some of the jokes. This is one of the great things about visual novels though, you can play as any character and follow the step stone path. Maybe this will make you want to try it.

Bard Harder: Closing Comments

Thank you for reading MrDavePizza.com. If you enjoyed this review, please enjoy the site. If you enjoy visual novels, I have written about several of them. You can find those in the menu at the top of this page. I also review all kinds of games, mostly indie, so have a look around, and read as much as you like, it’s free!

Doubts – Gerda is In For an Ugly Surprise and It’s Sad

Doubts is a short interactive fiction game from a talented solo developer by German artist, Fulmen. Play the role of Gerda, a woman in 1926 Berlin, Germany. She is a runaway with her boyfriend and is by herself during her boyfriend, Joseph’s, temporary absence. She contemplates her surroundings and decisions in a session of examining items around their hotel room while he is away. Without certainty, she wonders if her decision to be with Joseph is such a good idea.

Doubts: Who Is Joseph?

First of all, when it comes to puzzles, I always say this, but I’m awful at them! I wonder quite a bit if this is my own doing or the intended reaction sometimes. I used cheat codes on Myst, alright!? Okay, who didn’t, but some are better at it. Like that puzzle in front of Langley that offers fame and fortune to whoever solves it. I think I read somebody did actually solve it, but I can’t recall.

Anyway, I did not solve what the mystery was in this game–or maybe I did–but I did adore it. The stylized environment is absolutely perfect. Even though the game provides a max of around twenty minutes of gameplay, it’s wonderful.

Sometimes, I play games that really appeal to me, because they help me remember something I don’t necessarily want to write about. Some years ago, I traveled across the country though, and this game kind of reminds me of it, in many, many ways. Although I wasn’t running away from anything, let alone in 1926 Berlin.

That said, this is a wonderful depiction of that environment. I really liked the slight sepia/salmon tint to everything and the cartoonish but historically accurate items throughout the room. This is really high quality. Even if I don’t know the full story here, I take joy in the visual presentation.

Doubts: Troubling Metaphor

I felt bad for Gerda. She seemed an optimistic, reserved woman who was only hoping for the best, and Joseph probably capitalized on that. I hate seeing women taken advantage of, even in fiction. Storytelling has long depicted the bastards of times past in many fashions. Things have changed in some ways and others not. I have many thoughts on this, but that’s what you’ll need to understand with this type of story.

Anyway, I think you can see why this game is intriguing to me and ultimately captivating. I just really was able to get immersed in it from the illustration to the dialogue bars with Gerda’s thoughts on what she discovered. Very strong character development! Back in Gerda’s day she probably had just about no choice in her future. Even the optimism she exudes seems to be tainted by this very impossible situation.

Final Thoughts

If you’re interested in checking this out, which you should, I will provide the itch.io link below. There are a couple of games from the developer, and they seem to be chugging them out, so maybe keep an eye on this one.

This game plays for around 10-20 minutes, depending on how much you explore, but it’s worth your time.

I hope that this will bring attention to the dev. Itch.io is a provider of indie game monetizing, but the game is free. If you’re able to contribute a dollar or so to this developer, I’m sure they will appreciate it. Otherwise, give them a shout-out.

I hope you enjoyed this review on MrDavePizza.com. There are many games like this (and others) around my site, so have a look around and reach as much as you like. Thanks for reading!

Scarlet Hood and the Wicked Wood: Review

Scarlet Hood and the Wicked Wood is a new visual novel/interactive fiction game. The story follows Scarlet, a budding musician in an aspiring band of close friends. Start your journey on route to your band’s major performance at a club in the city. Plus, explore the opportunity it provides with a heavy offer from the club’s boss. In an unexpected twist, you’ll soon find yourself, through unforeseen circumstances, in another world! This land is filled with popular themes from classic fantasy stories and solvable puzzles. Together, they all blend nicely into a one-of-a-kind story.

Scarlet Hood: Definitely Try It

I’m so glad I gave this game a chance. I’m not very good at puzzles, but Scarlet Hood evenly spaces puzzles enough that it progresses smoothly. The game gets right back into the story elements of this game. Since this game is fully animated as well, it was actually pretty cool to see the characters move around and traverse back and forth to solve puzzle clues.

Although this is definitely an indie game, the quality of the illustration and dialogue is very impressive. You can even use a controller on it, which is practically unheard of for VNs! This is also, for the full version, a purchasable game though, so that is probably a factor, but still nice for the genre. Its bold use of idioms and colloquialisms is on point, and the writer and/or editor seem to have made sure everything is grammatically correct. This might not matter to you, but as a writer, I often look for this aspect of games I play with dialogue.

Design and References

I really liked the way the tour bus drives along the interstate into town like a well-produced anime film. Lab Rags feels a lot like experiencing a vastly different theme but similar vibe to the animated film from Daft Punk called Interstella 5555. If you’re unfamiliar with that title, it’s an anime film from 2003 about alien musicians with the whole Discovery album as a soundtrack. All of the character art is beautiful too. When I wasn’t powering through dialogue, I took an extra moment to study the characters in the game. The same can be said of all the environments also.

The major plot twist occurs after the show. Scarlet travels down a road pondering the choice she’s been given about her career and her band. I never reached far enough into the demo to decide what exactly had happened. A strange glow in the sky seems to be at play in this Wizard of Oz plus Alice in Wonderland transition of surroundings. If you don’t follow that analysis, don’t worry, because this game has its own spin on just about everything.

Overall, I really liked all the scenes and transitions of this story.

Check it Out

If you want a game with well-tuned dialogue and fun interactivity, this game has everything.

I hope you enjoyed this quick review. Thank you so much for reading MrDavePizza.com. I review a lot of visual novels, but I also review other indie games as well. Feel free to look around as much as you like.

The Last Act – Haunted Happenings in The Group

The Last Act is a visual novel with a theatric theme about an actress in a lead-play character. Interact with a social group of charismatic characters, while finding yourself getting more and more into the script as the serious drama unfolds. The choices you make unfold the story in different ways, but ultimately you’ll find yourself interacting with supernatural characters that seek to interact with your fate. Will you continue on with the play? Or is it too much? Or do people just need to mind their own business? It’s up to you.

This review was sponsored with a free copy.

The Last Act: Lets Get Theatrical

I was grateful to receive this copy, I say honest because I had seen it recently released on Steam and wanted to play it. Visual novels are my domain and when I find one that’s been developed with sincere craftsmanship, I enjoy the story more. That said, I really just love visual novels, so it takes a lot to shy me away from them.

(What are visual novels? https://electrastreet.net/2019/11/what-are-visual-novels/)

The art in The Last Act is what I think I would call manga. It’s not quite anime, but it is close. I suppose experts on that could distinguish better than I could. It is slightly cartoonish though, which I enjoyed because I find that style translates quite well for me.

I noticed when I downloaded this game that it was almost 2 GB in size. Since I only played up until the crossroads of the story, my only guess is that the art of the game was at a crisp level of detail (which would make sense), or that the story carries on for a significant amount of time. I could be wrong though, and I’ll just say there is no lack of substance or ectoplasmic adventures. Did I mention that a ghost is one of the characters?

The Last Act: Features:

  • A mysterious tale of heartbreak, romance, and supernatural events
  • Unique soundtrack with 12 tracks
  • Nine illustrated backgrounds show different places throughout the story
  • 35,000 words that immerse the player in Sarah’s supernatural world
  • Six characters with three romance options full of personality
  • Multiple endings where your choices matter
  • 20 beautifully illustrated CGs in a gallery for collecting

Supernatural Mystery

I had a lot of fun with the choices in the game. Some stories are pretty linear, which is okay, but in a playful session, I choose the most rebellious decisions first, until I want to see what’s going to happen another way. This story is on par with other dating sims in giving you some creative love interests. An interest in theater is enough to enjoy this one though. Actually, although I have nearly no theater experience, I understand the culture enough and enjoyed the roleplaying aspect of this feature.

An addendum to this, although there are some macabre/occult themes and mildly creepy ghost presence, it’s not what I would call horror or scary even, aside from the slightly creepy ghost music that reminds me of Professor Snape. Based on that information, if you’re looking for a visual novel with lots of fun choices and a stimulating plot, this one is good. You can find it on Steam for around $10 currently. I’ll include the link below.

Thanks

With that, this wraps up today’s game review. Thank you so much for reading MrDavePizza.com. Make sure to have a look around. I review mostly indie games and especially visual novels, but there’s a bit of everything. I hope you enjoyed this article.