Beacon Pines – Can You Figure Out What Words To Use?

Beacon Pines is interactive fiction, but really it qualifies with a new level of cozy interaction and fathoms deep optimistic complexity to its characters. The basic structure of the story relies on an interesting plot device made of… well, plot devices! You start in a storybook tale of a young fawn, though I’d say that’s up for interpretation, named Luka at his grandmother’s. Through exploration and experimentation and interacting with those around you can acquire something known as charms. Charms help change the course of the story. You may need to go back and forth to test what works and what doesn’t, but with each charm, comes some new element that alters everything. Hold on to your BOOK straps, we’re going in.

This is another showcase part of The Indie Houses Event on Steam. Lots of new games there and through my community at Indie Game Collective. Another game I covered for this event was Kraken Academy on Tuesday.

Things Happening in Beacon Pines

When I first loaded this game up, my emotions went twisting around inside me with the stunning cottage core nature setting mixed with Luka’s very deeply personal interaction in a grove. It seemed like a picture that wouldn’t move yet swished beneath your shoes as you walked through the grass. Nothing is quite explained too thoroughly for quite a bit of time. You’ll certainly find that browsing around Gran and You’s cottage leads to interesting discoveries and necessary elements of the game. You’ll have to at least talk to Gran, so you can learn the purpose of the “charms” spread throughout this game.

I don’t really know what the charms are. I got charms with words like “chill” and “ponder.” Anyway, my first charm was “chill.” It didn’t seem to do much at all, or maybe it did, I don’t know. It takes time to wander through the small town of Beacon Pines though, and at this point, it’s the only way to test out each charm. I might be wrong though because apparently, you can move backward in intervals depending on what’s already happened. It’s kind of like a spellbook I guess you could say.

That is perfectly okay, as far as I’m concerned. The characters whom you are able to talk to around the town are really cool looking and have some great dialogue. Great game dialogue is a boon, and when games master it, it can enhance the rest of the game.

Features of Beacon Pines

Here is a list of features from the press kit:

  • Explore an illustrated mountain town to collect word charms
  • Use those words to alter the story
  • More words to make friends
  • And even more words to weave the fabric of fate itself
  • Open the magical book at any time to go back and change your decisions

What I Wonder

The last part of the game I played before making the final quantum leap home was the abandoned warehouse. This part of the game intrigued me more than any other. Why wouldn’t you have an abandoned warehouse with toxic sludge and people who shouldn’t be there as you sneak in with your friends? It’s mysterious, and a tad weird. It is totally part of canon practically in a boatload of visual novels, comics, TV, etc. Unfortunately, reader, I cannot share why exactly the warehouse is there.

As far as the mechanics, this concept is ready to go. The storyline feels like it’s going to take on some substantial developments down the road though. It does not step on any thematic toes for the majority of the story than anywhere else. I think the only game I might compare it to is Bastion, the classic predecessor to Hades. Mostly visually though.

I love what I saw in this demo, and for a low price of free, you should check it out.

Here is some gameplay footage if you want to see what transpired over the course of around half an hour up until its cliffhanger. It might give you a boost.

That’s It

That’s about it for my coverage on this one. No news is not bad news, as Tom Nook says. I think you’ll enjoy this cast of fuzzy creatures. And if you can wishlist it on Steam, even better! Link below.

Thanks so much for reading Mr. Dave Pizza. If you like what you read, please have a look around, and come back again! Thanks.

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 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 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!

Monster Pub – One of the Great Indies Ever In My Opinion

Monster Pub is a neat and funny narrative wrapped up in a nice isometric, pixel art game that is ultra-casual. You’re whoever you want to be, a shadow-cloaked being, approached on a dark rainy street by a bright pink monster named Pfeffer. She leads you to a mysterious location that turns out to be a public house… for monsters, which is apparently based on the set for the ’80s TV show Cheers. Only here, it’s where every *monster* knows your name. Let’s play some sandwiches, Norm!

They did the Monster Pub mash

If you follow my reviews or know me, you’ll probably be aware that I don’t cover topics that are too graphic for any of them. So, you’ll realize quite predictably that these monsters are simply just some colorful limbed kooky humanoids–most of them at least. They just want to make some new friends and maybe even show off some of their specialties. I love a good monster, seriously. There are genres within genres when comes to these creatures, and I simply love what Monster Pub has to offer for it.

There are three chapters in Monster Pub currently, plus trivia night. Seeing how this is a very indie game, the art style and dialogue are innovative and quirky. It’s something I really didn’t know much about when I started down this path. Certain indie game makers and dialogue writers seem to have this gift to portray characters in a very unexpected and real way. I felt this very present in Pfeffer and Argon but in almost every character. There’s an especially loveable giant blue bartender that takes the cake for fun monsters in this game too.

Games Within Monster Pub

As a bar, there are naturally some games around the pub that you can engage in to make friends. Yes, the goal of this game is to make friends. Didn’t I tell you it was harmless? So, there’s a card game called Sandwiches which is that slapping card game everybody always wants to play. You can also try to win at solitaire to entertain B.R. Keeper (the giant blue barkeeper.) I walked over to the pool table but Slats, the cool duck monster, tells me that the balls have deflated. Haha, I never figured out what that was about.

I played for around 30 minutes. There are a lot of sources of content that I hadn’t even breached in this time, but I played enough to tell that this game is polished and it is quite entertaining. Mostly aimed at the visual novel crowd, but also any gamer or artist. The honky noise of the dialogue clatter is pretty funny on its own, let alone the way Pfeffer chomps her words. Lots of fun small touches throughout here and there.

Final Thoughts

I never thought of a pub for monsters based on Cheers. Although then again, I might have because Mr. Dave Pizza is really weird like that, but either way, it’s totally unique and funny. I used to watch that show at 2 in the morning on cable as a teen because that was considered fun back then. In college, I hung out with friends at a pub that was basically my own version of Cheers. Instead, however, they liked to call it “Where everybody *calls* you names.”

The steam link is below. I hope you enjoyed this article. Thank you so much for reading I review all kinds of indie games and even some other stuff. Take a look around as much as you like. Find me on social media too!

“A Bird Story,” A Simple And Nice Game

A Bird Story is an indie game title from Freebird Games, a game studio that is led by Kan (Reives) Gao. I’ll just post this link to their website right here. This game came out in 2014. It’s the first in a roster of game titles from FreeBird that encapsulates pleasant illustration and crafty story development.

This one in particular is about a young boy who rescues an injured bird in the forest near his school. More specifically, he fends off a badger that tries to catch the bird in a forest clearing. The rest of the story flows organically from this incident and it is the primary purpose of the narrative.

About midway through, your fantastical travel abilities range from parachuting with an umbrella to flying around with the bird on a paper plane.

A Bird Story: Some Nice Things About A Bird Story

Lately, I’ve been running into this idea of less is more with games. Not in a negligent sort of way. I mean people play games with stories because they want to go somewhere. Like space or the ocean or anywhere really. The more efficient that experience is, the better the game. I’m not sure, but as a writer, I know that I want to be enthralled by the third act. Some would consider that classical storytelling.

The pixel art is absolutely beautiful. The game was created on RPG Maker from what I’ve learned, which is not the first time I’ve heard of this empowering game development software. The art reminds me somewhat of the NRS classic Earthbound, or Mother as it is also known. When you interact with the environment there are neat little experiences everywhere you go that make this an immersive RPG.

A Bird Story Sidewalk
rpg maker forest

Something I found interesting in this game is that all the non-protagonist characters have a transparent shadow silhouette as opposed to complex appearances. This may have been in the effort of time-saving, but it’s not bad really. In fact, it reminds me a lot of childhood where strangers are more like elements of life instead of the case studies I work them up to be sometimes.

The bird interactions are so darn cute. I really laughed out loud at the bird. I’ve always loved birds too. I’ve seen many species in my backyard and traveling, and I try to keep track. Despite what you think, birds can be very expressive if you give them the chance. I am currently on hold with pet ownership, so sometimes I think of them like pets. I think they appreciate that and I think this game would too.

A Bird Story indie game vet
A Bird Story interactive fiction balcony

It’s A Thoughtful Game

Okay, one other major thing about this game. There is no dialogue! Not verbal at least. It really is no problem though. The music is simply delightful, and there are enough character gags that you’ll know perfectly well what’s going on. The music was composed by Reives himself if I’m right.

If you want to check this game out it’s on Steam. I got it for $3.99. It doesn’t have a lot of replays after you run the game, but at that price, it’s cheaper than a movie.

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