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!

Universe for Sale: A Sci-Fi Game Prologue Preview

Universe for Sale is an upcoming title that combines sci-fi themes and metaphysical themes into a quirky and compelling visual novel/interactive fiction. I already do not recall the main character’s name, and neither will you, as the shroud of mystery is an important part of this introduction. He is a self-described “cultist” with a floating head who drops into a tea shop on Jupiter to meet with a young lady named Lila. The prologue sets up a story involving Lila’s special gift to create mini-universes! Hence the game title.

Universe for Sale: Intriguing Oddities

The first thing that pops out of the screen of Universe for Sale is the brilliant art direction. The intro very unexpectedly starts with Lila young being ready for a story before bed. That cuts to a zoom-in of a highly stylized hand-drawn Jupiter from outer space, and it truly sets the mood. Oh, I just checked. This cultist is simply referred to as the mysterious cultist. He appears hooded in the scraps some structure, a space station, or somewhere. He goes in and pulls down his hood. Shadow is replaced by an incredibly shocking floating skull.

You’d expect a character like this would then next raise a sword and draw lightning through it, but this character is rather timid. Or at least he was for me because this is how I guided the interactions he has with the innkeeper and the strangers of the bar. Most importantly though, with Lila, a young woman with green hair fused with suction cup tentacles that are aloft her head rather casually.

Universe For Sale: It Is What It Says

After drifting through tables filled with aliens and cyborgs, you take a seat at the middle table. Lila shows up. The chatter runs for a bit then you talk about the tea. It is an interesting topic to delve into because the concoction entails a rather sci-fi-like explanation of the sifting and separating of the herbs and ingredients. The whole prologue is not quite Star Wars, but sort of Robert Heinlein. Man, I hope I didn’t mess that one up, it’s been some time since I’ve cross-referenced Sci-Fi. It also reminds me a bit of my friend Willy Elektrix who is an expert on this stuff and creator of Superstorm Melon Date.

Next is the crux of the story. Lila begins to demonstrate completely visually how she can create mini universes out of her tea. It sounds kind of psychedelic or something. But it is compellingly explained with relativity, quantum physics, and a touch of irreverence. The cultist’s enamor at the possibility of the creation of beings in these universes which Lila dismisses slightly cryptically before placing a circular universe back into her teacup. The cultist wants to buy them… I think.

Loose Ends

So, this is a PROLOGUE, basically a demo, it’s still in development. I always prefer a visual novel pre-release called prologues. It gives me an idea of what to expect from it. That is it generally covers one major scene. And that is what’s in this one. I really love the stylistic choices as I mentioned, since they give a very heavy graphic novel vibe. It’s a novel interface for a conventional visual novel/interactive fiction because the choices and responses are fluid and animated. It’s almost on board with a short film the way everything coalesces is so nice.

I really enjoyed this and I’m looking forward to seeing its release. I can already tell it has potential. Hopefully not so much that its artistic genius is lost on gamers, but check it out! It’s going places, like other planets.

Done

Thank you so much for reading MrDavePizza.com. I really take a look at all kinds of games here. And occasionally other topics, so have a look around and read as much as you like. Thanks for stopping by!

Astroneer: Space Sim Taken to New Heights

Astroneer is a low poly space sim with a playful and colorful, stylized atmosphere. It uses its practical fundamental mechanics and graphics to pull off an engaging and creative experience. After completing the tutorial on your basic tools and resources available, the game is essentially an open-world sandbox where you can develop your base camp or head to another planet. It is similar to games like The Outer Worlds and No Man’s Sky, without realistic graphics and more emphasis on casual, puzzle-solving gameplay. Today, I’ll take you through my experience with this game.

Challenging Intro

I’ve played through the tutorial for this a few times before since I’ve always wanted to explore its depths. It is a very engaging and interesting intro to the game. Before I cover everything though, heads up, this game, or at least its tutorial, expects you to find some of the answers on your own at times! This can be, and I’ll be gentle here, a little confusing.

Each step requires a bit of experimentation up to self-performed research for some of the game mechanics. Personally, I had to regularly run a search engine for parts. It’s not intrinsically difficult, but you should know about it.

Basically, it’s not a totally self-transparent tutorial and I got confused even up to this last experience with creating a generator. I have figured it out before though, so don’t let that deter you. It is very fun. Everything can be looked up online.

There is a lot of information at the Official Astroneer Wiki, if you need to look something up. Think of it as a bonus that this game has so many features, a wiki is out there.


Beautiful Game

Okay, moving on! This game appeals to all my gameplay aesthetics. Yeah, you could make a planet blue and green, purple and pink, or each or both, whatevs. This just looks so amazing though and was a major reason for my interest in it. Low poly is a wonderful way to go in a sandbox environment, and when applied like this–stellar! (In addition, it’s a tad easier on system resources in my experience.)

Also, the sound effects and music are very pleasant. Various interactions make sounds like bubbling beakers or fuel injectors, whatever that sounds like. I didn’t know what vacuuming up polymer sounded like, but now I do. I know this seems like a trivial thing to mention, but all the zooms, shhhs, and beeps are part of what makes sci-fi space stories a nebula of fun.

One of the important tools in Astroneer is the terrain tool. You use this to mine minerals and other materials, or to manipulate the terrain for whatever you want from it. There’s no delay if you want to just dig a giant cave in the ground, it only takes a moment. It’s a nice way for first-person click interaction, and it is surprisingly dynamic. Where games like Minecraft operate on more of a block terrain model, Astroneer has a little more curvature. It’s pretty fun to slurp up some rock and build a ramp to a new area in elevated mode. It can take practice, but it does everything you need it to.

There’s no question that this was a well-developed game and that it has set itself apart from other visual styles, but it sort of outdoes itself by marrying art style with explorative 3D gameplay.

Astroneer: Gameplay

I’m in the process of tying my space game reviews together into sort of a theme here at Mr. Dave Pizza. One thing I keep asking myself is, what role do these games have in advocating real space exploration? For Astroneer, I believe there is a lot of value in a major concept in the game which is the modularization of open-world space exploration.

You see, this game does something great. When you first start exploring you’re only given a few tools. It is in essence, a survival craft open-world game. Thematically though, since it is in space, it’s even better. You can create any sort of modular space equipment you need, including shuttles, using what you’re given and a landscape filled with resources. There are many many resource types–and things you can build!

If you don’t see my point: did you know that the international space station now uses a 3D printer to print tools they need for maintenance? (FACT)

Certainly, this is a game, and you can’t just find every mineral popping out of the ground while you slurp it up on every real planetary surface. There are minerals scattered throughout the actual cosmos though, and there could be a margin of productivity when we make it to Mars or back to the moon. If we end up spending much time exploring the surface, there will be plenty of attention dedicated to this I’m sure.

Astroneer: Rewarding Experience

It’s not anxiety-inducing as a game at all; pretty peaceful. If you make it further than I have, you might even make some friends (co-op is available, although I haven’t tried it.)

A moment spent looking at the Steam page will reveal that there are many amazing things that can be accomplished in this game, especially after you develop a reliable launch system. Some of the examples out there will probably make you doubletake because there’s quite a bit of opportunity to explore. I am sure they are rewarding though.

Yes! Research Points!

Well, that’s it. This game is unique in the way it can have such vast options, yet leaves me with humble approval for what it’s given me. I have actually made it past the tutorial before. This game is scientific in the way that the deduction of your information and resources is crucial to progress. And once I figure out how to eliminate the need for tethers, it’s on!

Thanks for reading this review on MrDavePizza.com. I review a variety of games, mostly indie or games in development, and lately, I’m into space games, but I play what interests me. So, if you like what you see, feel free to look around and read as much as you like. It’s free!

Space Mechanic Simulator – This Is So Clever

Let’s talk about an upcoming space game! Space Mechanic Simulator is a 3D space-sim in outer space. So far, this game is still in development, but that may have changed by the time you read this. It is currently in development with a demo on steam that I am reviewing here. Your job is to repair space stations, spaceships, and presumably other space vehicles with a sophisticated drill and a meter. Obtain parts from drones or 3D print them. Once you have detected the malfunctioning equipment, remove it and replace it with a new part.

Space Mechanic Simulator: First Impressions

This is going to be more of a showcase. I have trouble coming up with things to say sometimes about games that are realistic or puzzle-based. There is something to be said here though. And as a getting-my-feet-wet armchair astronaut, I smiled when I saw this listed on Steam. Because a lot of space games are action-packed, storytelling experiences that are sometimes what I want to sink my teeth into. But this game engages in a different way than that. This is more engaging in the logic-based deduction way. And it definitely drives the story well enough for me. The narrator is full of terrible puns to enhance your humor circuits though!

I wasn’t sure if I was going to write about this at first, because I got kind of confused at first by trying to rush through it. But I thought maybe it wasn’t finished. If you’re at that stage, just watch my video. I solve the first puzzle in the demo with ease after I paid attention to the tutorial.

The control keys flashed out of view too quickly in the demo for me, but by quickly pushing esc they’re pulled up.

The idea is to detach the panels, press 3 for the meter, and mouse over parts to see if any are damaged. Then just unbolt layers of parts until you get access to the right one to pull it out.

If you’re familiar with car maintenance, it’s a very similar concept.

Highlights

I really liked this preview of Space Mechanic Simulator. You may have seen me mention before that watching EVA spacewalk videos give me vertigo. I don’t really know what the real thing is like. I’ve watched a few recently though, and it’s actually very interesting. In real life at the ISS, there are, for each task, selections of tools used, just like working on any machine; including drills, wrenches, and sealants. I recently learned that on the International Space Station, they even have a 3D printer for making tools. How rad is that? Considering the nearest hardware stores are on the surface of the Earth, that is probably pretty convenient. That feature is in this game. Realism points!

This is a really approachable sim. The developer has created other mechanic sims, which is an increasingly popular genre, so they seem to know what they’re doing. The demo is very limited just by the nature of being a demo, but the storefront for the game boasts future repair jobs that are much more complicated involving over 100 part selections.

Here is a list of features from Steam:

  • 3 celestial bodies available in astronaut missions (Mars, Earth, Moon)
  • 2 planets are available in missions with a rover (Mars, Moon)
  • repair of bases, hangars, rovers, shuttles, etc.
  • 2 space shuttles
  • 3 solar stations
  • 3 advanced space bases
  • Construction of the rover
  • Machines that consist of hundreds of parts (additional 46 unique parts available only in the Space Shop)
  • Time Attack Mode (repair and construction of machines on time – comparing the best times with others)
  • An extensive campaign with a unique story
  • Interactive HUB where you will be able to monitor and control the entire course of the game

Nice!

As far as my space game reviews go so far, this is the one I think will appeal to dedicated fans of the genre the most. With the EVA thrust controls and time-sensitive repair jobs, it captures the vibe of a real EVA–in a sort of relaxing way.

I’ll post the Steam link below.

Thank you so much for reading MrDavePizza.com. I am currently writing a lot about indie space games, but I play all sorts of games. So feel free to look around the site, and read as much as you like, it’s free!

Orbital Racer – This Is an Awesome Space Racing Game

Orbital Racer is a realistic space-sim pilot racer originally released for PC in 2017, now available on Xbox One and Series X. At a standard indie game price for nominal quality, I think this is one of the best racing games I have ever played. Players are given a selection of ring-wing fighter jets that can be raced with or without combat. Each race starts off in an area in orbit around a planet in our solar system. You will navigate your ship through HUD point rings with beautiful space scenery in the background and collect power-ups to earn your place in each competition, which is also customizable. Even with video game perks like the power-ups, it is highly realistic and one of the best space racers out there.

I hope that was an appropriately generous tribute to this wonderful game since I truly loved playing Orbital Racer. Since I did mention the subject of realism in this game, do note that this game actually has two options: action or simulation. They’re what they sound like, perfectly appropriate oohs and ahs for the average action-seeker gamer, and simulation for those of us who are preparing for internships at the ISS, well I am at least.

I rather enjoy the action profile features of this game. Those of us that fantasize about space probably know it’s not all about making the spice flow and using the force. We have physics to account for. That’s also not as cool as drifting through a hud ring while deploying a plasma mine, however, I could go either way for Orbital Racer.

Orbital Racer: A REALISTIC Space Racer

My experience with Orbital Racer has some backstory. This past week I’ve been doing a sort of study on space games, read previous posts for more info. I kept searching for a realistic space racing game. It was a desperate situation I mostly play free games, but I saw this one on Steam and liked the look of the ring spaceships with extraplanetary space stations in the background.

I don’t really know what the purpose of a ring ship is, but it seems like it would do something realistic. It slightly reminds me of the ship that either Anakin or Obi-Wan fly in the prequels, I can’t remember why. Sorry, I am totally juicing on the force lately, perhaps I’ll remember to use that on May 4th, I doubt it though. Anyway, there are really not enough games like this out there to have a selection, so I narrowed in on a reasonable indie title and here I am!

So, alright, is this like actually… “realistic?” I don’t know. Space has taken us to some weird places, and I’m not just talking about Mars. Remember that space pen that they spent a million dollars on developing for space use until they realized that a pencil was actually cheaper and better? I don’t know if that is even true; I feel like I saw it in a movie, but we do things in space we wouldn’t normally do. We’re constantly looking to imprint our culture onto our scientific achievements. So, yeah, maybe we will build these crazy ring racer starfighters and hold competitions in space. I ain’t paying for it, but I will pay for this game to show my support!

In Terms of Games: Excellent

The thing I appreciate in this game has some to do with “science,” but a lot more with what I consider a good investment in a “science-themed game.” There are no tears here. Only dreams. And next time I feel like crunching an MK8 session, I might think, well, I could also play Orbital Racer. Or Hotshot Racing, but whichever. I like that kind of freedom. I often play racing games when I want to expand some priorities for a moment. It’s a good way to regroup real quick or refocus without getting way too deep into a game that requires me to focus.

What really makes me wonder is how on Earth did this game got so overlooked. I’m serious. It does have one major issue, which is no multiplayer, but I never play multiplayer so to me, it is pretty much perfect. I would love to see some DLC for this or heck, I’d even try the multiplayer at least once if it were offered, so I’m just putting that out there.

This is an indie game though, what a triumph. “I’m making a note here: huge success,” as GlaDOS sings at the end of Portal 2. Everything is just right. And even with a controller, it is stellar, even better. I used a DS4 with an app to emulate the Xbox controller and so can you. So arrive as you like, Orbital Racer is prepared.

Orbital Racer: Packed With Content

This game was released for Xbox in March of 2021, which may have brought you here. I played the Steam version, but I can only be certain that the Xbox version is also excellent. Some of the screenshots and videos I encountered seem to downplay the detail I found when playing this myself; I don’t know what that’s about. I suppose there have been patches and updates. And honestly, if you opt for simulation mode, with realistic physics, realism is the least of the qualities lacking. The cosmic background is astounding.

Do A Barrel Roll

Yeah, it’s all there, and it’s good! I’m going to be playing every aspect of this game until I’ve absorbed every detail.

I hope you enjoyed readings this. This really was one of my favorite reviews. I hope you’ll join me on more gaming adventures at MrDavePizza.com. I write about games, I say what’s on my mind. Feel free to look around and read as much as you like. It’s all free!

VA-11 Hall-A – I Seriously Love What This Achieves

VA-11 Hall-A (Or Valhalla as it’s known) is an interactive cyberpunk bartending simulator with elements of visual novel character interaction. Play from the perspective of Jill, a young woman who lives in the year 207X in a city called Glitch City. You’ll learn to mix drinks for customers using a unique interface and alter them based on customers’ needs and personal touch. Customers are customers, but many are absolute troublemakers. You’ll talk them through their problems, as compulsive as they can be, and keep them from causing too much trouble–and hopefully close their tabs.

Disclaimer: This game contains some mature themes, crude humor, language, and alcohol use. I don’t normally seek these out, but in this case, there is an artistic context for them.

The first time I tried this game, I had a lot of trouble figuring out the drink mixing system. Although this is not a complex game, it is important to pay attention to the instructions as much as possible because there are some details that are important. Once you get the basics down in the tutorial and the first couple of customers, you’re good as gold. Soon enough, you’ll learn that you can even make non-alcoholic drinks. Just concentrate on the tutorial for the first few minutes and you’ll be fine. Just a note, I played this on Switch, there are definitely some variations on PC. It’s also a Playstation 4 game.

“What’ll it Be?”

I’ve been really interested in visual novels lately, with pretty much any context. Many gamers are incredibly fond of the cyberpunk genre this year with the release of 2077. This genre has been around as long as I have though, so that’s not terribly surprising. I could tell when I played this game, however, that many other games probably used it as a benchmark for this particular style of game. Actually, when I saw the game’s listing, I realized that it was a few years ahead of the curve!

The characters in this game are up to a few hijinks here and there, as any good VN will let you have. You’re not really working in a ritzy well-lit bar in any sense. It’s 100% dive in a bad area in a bad town. My first customer was a co-worker who gives a run-through tutorial in the very beginning. This is very helpful. Next, was a local newspaper editor with an angry demeanor and a very red face. He’s definitely an antagonistic bully blowhard, but he is actually entertaining. In fact, Jill, the bartender, tells him at one point that entertaining characteristics are one of the perks of her job.

After him, a dirty-minded hipster punk enters the bar. He drinks too fast and unloads his personal life unwelcomed. As long as you know how to find the drinks, the interaction challenge goes by smoothly. The conversations can take around 5-10 minutes, which seems long but that’s why you play these games. By the way, if you get confused don’t hesitate to watch a brief video first, it’s really very simple once you see how it’s done.

VA-11 Hall-A Not Far From Reality

I think people are free to their vices fine if it is harming no one. Every weekend, I used to head over to my favorite British pub and batted wisecracks back and forth with friends. I loved it. I made real friends there and learned why it’s important to have them.

Aside from that, I also loved hopping into a random bar and just seeing what was happening. I’m traditionally a rather mild-mannered guy, so some people find this surprising. I cut down significantly for health though, but I don’t regret those times. There is a feeling you get when you go into a dark bar crowded with people, the music playing, and the clinks of glasses. Have a pint and set yourself right, I’d think. I was sort of, almost, reminded of that.

The main reason I’m telling you this is because I felt this game captured the diamonds in the rough culture of the average dive bar.

VA-11 Hall-A I Guess I Had Enough

Okay enough about that, but it is relevant to this game. If you find yourself fond of the bar scene, and want to emulate that, this game does pretty well. If you go past the first section, which is under 45 minutes, you can save and play from the save file all you want. I’d love to play this game the whole way through. From my research, I have learned that this game takes around 3-4 hours to complete. It flows well and it’s pretty easy for what you gain. Also, did I mention you can change the bar music playlist? They’re songs programmed into the game, but what a nice, and authentic, feature.

VA-11 HALL-A was released in 2016, which seems like ages ago, but it has plenty of contemporary charm and is perfect for the pixel art cyberpunk lover in you.

If you like what you read here, make sure to check out whatever you like here on MrDavePizza.com. I try to keep a diverse roster of game types reviewed, and there are lots of other visual novels and indie games.

Read Only Memories: NEURODIVER – You Have an Important Job

Read Only Memories: NEURODIVER is an indie interactive fiction visual novel project currently set for release sometime in 2022. Play as ES88 a psychic therapist who recovers lost memories for clients using the help of an organic “neurodiver.” You’ll start as a hybrid client named Crow. Crow has a mysterious background but is trying to restore a memory that has been tampered with to recover a memory chip at the center of a secretive trade he took part in. The art direction in reading Only Memories is colorful and fresh.

The subject of memory is always a potent one, and the way it translates into media is variable and unpredictable. I recently wrote a review of another game demo of this nature called Don’t Forget Me, which, while similar, manages to tell very much a similar thing without encroaching on the interpretation of the other at all. Actually, they’re quite different and are occupying diametric perspectives as I write this review.

Read Only Memories and Remembering Memory?

Memory is an intangible mind-matter that dedicates itself to preserving the structure of things that have been experienced before. I’m less into psychological cosmology or theoretical explanations than I used to be. As an adult, the naturalistic approach is the one that suits me personally. I really want what I say in these reviews to have a meaning beyond jump, jump, click, and synopsis. So, I apologize in advance for the expunging of neutral brain matter to explore the dynamics of these games about memory.

In my last review for Don’t Forget Me, I mentioned a book called The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. LeGuin. It’s a story I understand the concepts of and can probably recommend, but I have not spent a radical amount of time thinking about, or even really acquiring, to be honest with you. Sorry. If this concept suddenly sparks your interest for some reason, however, twentieth-century science fiction is the way to go. For the rest of us, “Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.”

Okay, moving on. ES88 and neurodiver Let’s GOOOO!

Step Into My Brain Worm Office in Read Only Memories

I have to share a weird anecdote for the sanctity of this review. I looked at some old photographs today and I paired that up with some current coffee daydreams floating around in my head. Memories are fragile stuff. What if somebody tampered with your memory though? I’m not trying to delve into your mind, but have you ever felt that way? What if what we remember isn’t the thing we remember it as.

In Read Only Memories, your attempt to recover a memory is based on the interactional transactions you make with your acquaintances and the people that exist in their memories.

So, start off, minding your business, and a friend stops by. Next, this guy Crow shows up, he’s half-dog/half-human–I think–formerly human. It’s cyberpunk everybody, it’s got a little Cloud Atlas setting and Phillip K. Dick axioms. Crow has had his memory tampered with.

So, this neurodiver thing is some sort of biological psychic hand-thing that latches onto a client and goes to town.

Gameplay and Objectives

The first mission, actually the only mission, since this is a demo, takes you to a “retro” previous-century bar with low-lit dartboards, and anachronistic drink menus. There’s a group of three humans, named after birds: “Sparrow,” “Owl,” and “Hawk.” And of course, you’re “Crow.” Or at least you’re in his memories from the comfort of your facility. These guys, all kinds of familiar character types are very assertive, especially Hawk who seems really grumpy for whatever reason.

It’s easy enough to figure out the inventory and drag-and-drop repair dialogue on the bartender. You get the drinks, swap for the chip, and you’re suddenly headed to the back for a punk character known as what’s called an “esper.” That’s what you are basically, as ES88, an esper, or psychic. Only none of what’s happening is actually happening, it’s a hologram if you will. He scrambles your memories and you return to the lab. That’s basically the end of the demo. Bet you didn’t expect me to drop the mic there, but that’s how it was!

You’re the Best, Around!

A few major strengths of this game. Art! Everything is pixel art, 32-bit maybe? I do not recall the benchmark for pixel art if there even is such a thing. It really looks nice, and that is as much due to the form as it is the wonderful color selections for everything in the game.

Second story. It’s got the right stuff. A passion, a dilemma, a quest. I’d say full steam ahead if the goal here is to tell a story about espers and retrieving mysteries from the depths of whatever this cyber mercenary subplot is.

Third, it’s totally unique. Yeah, I know I said there are other cyberpunk themes and stories with this theme, but it is not trying to rehash any old clichés or sell out at the first opportunity. The only counterargument I would see to this is that the characters at the bar named after birds look like Gwyneth Paltrow, Neil De Grasse Tyson, and Lupin the Third. And I love that.

It’s a work of love.

Cue Chiptune Credits

If you want to try this game you can find it on Steam, easily, I shall supply the link. It’s certainly neat from a niche perspective to see where this is going. Pixel art is just fun, and I don’t know how many pixel-art visual novels there are out there, but it would be alright if there were more.

I appreciate you reading MrDavePizza. I will have several game reviews down the line and stuff is just starting to get interesting here. So stay tuned, and have a look around!

Don’t Forget Me – Looks Like a Really Good Cyberpunk Mystery

Don’t Forget Me is a pixel art, narrative investigation game about two cybernetic specialists, memory copiers to be exact. After a client visits their clinic, they find themselves in a complex situation involving government conspiracies and secret technology. The game is slated for release on April 15th, and gamers will find themselves playing a game with excellent art and unique mechanics.

When I first encountered this game, I thought about some similar theme stories or picked up on them. One is The Lathe of Heaven, a science fiction book by Ursula K. LeGuin, and also Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a 2004 movie starring Jim Carrey and some other popular actors. Cybernetics is a common science-fiction theme and has been since its conception. I’m comfortable contending with you that Don’t Forget Me is a very unique and very neat game based on my test!

Plug Me In, Plug Me In But Don’t Forget Me

The demo is about 20 minutes long. I’ll need to check in on it later, after the release. What I am seeing from this demo, however, are some pretty sophisticated mechanics already. You start off in a sort of lab/clinic luminescent and high-tech with a vaulted ceiling, plus an amazing future cityscape out the window. It is bright and approachable. You are Fran, an assistant in the lab, and Bernard the technician of the lab. Actually, Bernard is sort of the computer/technology guy, and Fran seems to be more of an empath, she helps patients chill out. Obviously, those skills go quite far in a world like this.

I mentioned Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind because conceptually, that is similar to what is going on here. If you haven’t seen that film before, it’s about an organization that sells memory removal services. The plot is driven by recycling instances of Jim Carrey’s character falling in love with Kate Winslet’s character, over and over. A bunch of weird hallucinatory-level experiences segues from phase to phase of the experience. It’s quite good, actually. The similarities appear to be cosmetic only though.

So, to expand on that, Bernard and Fran copy memories in their lab or examine memories. It doesn’t appear that they ever engage in the process of erasing anything.

How Does Don’t Forget Me Work?

The learning curve is not much of a hurdle, very intuitive, although things are explained as you go along. A patient comes through the door and Fran tells the patient they’ll be done before she even puts the mask on. The device looks pretty much just like a dentist’s chair of some kind, with wires coming out of it and a face mask apparatus. Fran eases the patient’s concerns and they send her on her way in no time. Kinda cool, seems like a good gig!

The story changes dramatically when a new client in a panicked state visits the clinic. Fran has to try to calm them down. Unfortunately, this stranger seems to have a slew of dangerous memories and forces, Fran and Bernard, to search all his memories.

This introduces one of the mechanics of the memory reader in the game. Keywords or concepts based on clues surrounding this stranger are typed into a high-tech visual mapping interface. What were the first things he said, what did they notice? That sort of thing. Fran types words that might unlock the mystery of what’s going on. Government/conspiracy. Those work.

It’s a really interesting mechanic. I want to say it’s sort of like the game NetHack, but that’s probably horribly wrong. It’s a thing I’ve seen in games, where you type things to make more complex things happen. Typing games? Yeah, that’s probably it, that’s such an inadequate description for it usually though. It’s a great way to an empowering a player though.

The guy recruits them into his shadowy mission, and that’s about where it ends.

Aesthetics

Oh yes, there was one major thing I didn’t mention. This game is described as having a jazzy bebop music theme in the story. There’s a brief mention in the demo. I am not sure exactly what that will entail, but I did enjoy the music in the game and I love jazz. I love jazz/future combos because I feel it is always timeless yet anachronistic. Cowboy BeBop attests to that success, and I’m sure there are others.

I implore you to consider this game based on the artwork alone if anything, but also the story! I certainly believe this game is a winner in many departments, thematically atmospherically, and in character development. I’m going to need to know what happens now. It certainly could be bold if this slice of the final game were unmatched, but considering the release, I have the feeling the developers, “The Moon Pirates,” are on top of it. There are a couple of tantalizing screen grabs of the full game on the Steam page, a good place to wishlist!

Cyberstuff

I’ve been noticing a lot of popular cyberpunk games showing up on the indie scene. This is a nice direction. I really am going to get around to trying 2077 at some point, but there are plenty of fun worlds popping up. That said, there is more impetus for developers to step up their games in this genre. I’m sharpening my pixel art skills whenever I can. I featured another pixel art cyberpunk story game not too long ago called VirtuaVerse. Don’t Forget Me looks really good too though, in a really pleasant way. I wish I could say what it reminds me of, but I can’t place it, which probably actually means that it’s an art style that my brain recognizes for its pleasantries. I’m on board with that one.

P.S. If I haven’t told my history with cyberpunk hundreds of times, I started with Neuromancer decades ago and have evolved into a bit of a cyberpunk geek. Most teenagers probably aren’t jamming out on William Gibson’s hyper-contemporary marketing diatribe fiction like I was, despite the glitzier Sprawl era. That said, there are a couple of things to always consider in a cyberpunk story. One, the man is always oppressing even if they got rid of the man. Two, the future is only a reflection of the present society in cyberpunk. Third, anything is worthy of fictionalizing, especially in games.

That’s It!

Okay, that’s plenty of coverage on the Don’t Forget Me demo. I think this will be a fun release when it comes out. I will post a Steam link in here that updates itself. It’s obvious there is a lot more story, so as I mentioned earlier, add it to your wishlist!

Thanks for reading MrDavePizza. I review quite a variety of games, be sure to check out the IndieDev section if you liked this article. And be sure to wishlist and check out “Don’t Forget Me” on Steam.

VirtuaVerse – The Dark Cyberpunk World Of Indie

VirtuaVerse is an indie cyberpunk pixel art point-and-click adventure that exudes what some might think of as classic cyberpunk. You, a hacker named Nathan, wake up in your apartment, to which your girlfriend has changed the exit code. Stylistically it appeals to an aesthetic of a disheveled, neon glow surrounded by cybernetic paraphernalia. Solve enigmatic puzzles to progress the story.

I meant to try this game around the time Cyberpunk 2077 came out, maybe as an indie alternative. That was before I learned there was a demo so that I could see what was in store. After a conversation online about 2077 today, I see this enormous opportunity.

So let’s plug in and drop out.

Virtuaverse: POWERGLOVE

If you’re unfamiliar with the cyberpunk aesthetic, it’s a very specific sub-genre of science fiction that involves, usually, dystopian themes of cybernetic technology, augmented reality, and out-of-control capitalism at the expense of society.

I know I already wrote an essay on cyberpunk in my essays section, but this one might narrow down the variables, plus focus on Virtuaverse.

I really enjoyed VirtuaVerse because it exploits something that developers are still catching up on. That is, creative freedom means that when it comes to satisfying a range of gamers, aesthetic style and intention are really the key factors. It seems to be more important than ever.

Photorealistic graphics and mission play can be a heavy burden on developers, but it doesn’t need to be. This game is full of pixel art. This isn’t necessarily easier but is a lot more accessible for really indie projects. Also, it just looks awesome.

Cyberpunk pixel art apartment

I have a cyberpunk Pinterest board I keep active every once in a while–note to self–where I collect cyberpunk art. It is truly amazing these days to take something you’ve imagined for decades, like reading Neuromancer in 2005, to seeing 2D art that totally excavates all the small niches and fiction-inspired cinematics into a specific theme you grasped at.

I’m telling you, maybe it’s just an age thing, but I had no idea that creative media would ever make it this far. And I’m pretty forward-thinking. Actually, cyberpunk is the one that made me think that. Ironic.

VirtuaVerse city pixel art cyberpunk

Yeah, Yeah, THE GAME Chipbrain

I really don’t mind poking around for a while in puzzle games, because although I’m not good at them, I do occasionally get into the mood of the game. Sometimes I make a horrible guffaw, however, and just can’t find the clue because I’m not thinking outside the box.

I wanted to play as much of this as I could, so I checked out a walkthrough and made my way through it.

Just for reference, I’m linking a walkthrough by Indie James. This walkthrough is 6 hours in length. For an indie pixel art adventure, that is insanely full of content. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIaJvwSLxEE

I really wanted to go that far, but maybe I will. You see, when you’re a gamer or collect hobbies as I call it, you start wishing for things to exist just so you can see how awesome they are and because they are immersive. Sometimes it happens, and a lot of the time, it’s really different than what you imagined but in a good way. I’ve definitely gotten on my knees and cried “We’re not worthy!” with certain games.

cyberpunk pixel art

If you’re a medium-level cyberpunk nerd with familiarity with the early 90’s/80’s themes of the genre, this game is probably for you. I found it very immersive and accurate without too much hokiness.

All sci-fi seems to have a little cyberpunk these days because let’s face it, futurism fades. That’s perhaps one of the most interesting things about cyberpunk for me because it exaggerates the current stage of the world so much that it seems almost realistic. Just look at this last year, or any year really.

THE GAME!!!!

You can interact with almost everything in the game, whether to look or interact. Movement involves shifting to the left or right or clicking on directional waypoints. Some objects you find will help you interact with other things. Don’t be surprised at the possibilities, because you might have to use that nootropic brain of yours and get a little creative.

One thing that’s really cool about this game is it doesn’t involve combat or shooting, at all as far as I can tell. This is a wonderful achievement, because so many games go directly to that mechanic, and second because the aesthetic is really more important in VirtuaVerse. Neon rain, weird hacker stuff, lots of Japanese food, and motorcycles. Cyberpunk is for aesthetists.

I think this game would probably be most exciting to play for a pixel artist or appreciator of pixel art. I have looked at it enough to realize this game is a masterpiece. (6 hours!) Every single space for stuff is used by something that you can interact with in one way or another. That is really cool. Perfect for the overload vibe too!

Virtuaverse Alley Pixel Art Guard

If you get stuck, just check out that walkthrough I listed above. Whatever your level of puzzle proficiency, there’s something for you in this game if you are interested in cyberpunk or sci-fi. This perspective on this game was made possible by William Gibson, Phillip K. Dick, Neal Stephenson, and Bruce Sterling. So you can always start there too. Or Bladerunner.

VirtuaVerse Cyberpunk Pixel Art Cafe

P.S. The machines might be taking over. Prolly not though.

VirtuaVerse: Initiation Sequence Complete

Thanks for reading another article on MrDavePizza.com This is a really cool game, and all the games I write about here are really cool games, so be sure to look around.

This game is on Steam, there is a demo, be sure to check it out!

Cloudpunk – You’re All Driving Around In The Sky

The way games roll out in relation to cult themes these days feel like popping a bean bag chair full of glitter. Shiny and colorful, but spreading everywhere. Cloudpunk IS DEFINITELY a cyberpunk game. Life exists in an oppressively technological Babylon run by criminal overlords and the rebellious underdogs to send it tumbling–not always in an obvious way either.

Of course, Cloudpunk is massive, and I have no idea how long it takes to reach the end, how it ends, or if it ends. Hold on let me look that up. WOW, this game is massive.

Get Yourself Connected

I wondered if I should write about this game, because it’s rated M for mature, and generally I do not look around for that kind of content. This is cyberpunk though, a genre that is crude because of what it represents not for what it wants you to enjoy.

It’s so surprising to me that there are now good video games about cyberpunk. I’m not sure how some of the major titles like 2077 compare, but I feel they are different. Cloudpunk seems very focused on the dystopic literary tropes. 2077 is, I guess, more about the cybernetic samurai archetype. I haven’t tried it yet. These are games though, they’re not books. It’s getting there though.

Cloudpunk Voxel Butler

Your character is Raina, a delivery driver for a shady courier service called Cloudpunk, and you have a HOVA, a sort of flying car that works within the infrastructure of the city. I think the designers really wanted this to be a real thing someday. Maybe.

It’s very practical for the purpose of giving us our flippin’ flying cars already.

Great Expectations

I don’t mean this in an un-spirited way, but I recently realized that this argument for what futuristic tech we deserve is flawed. First of all, why do we need that? Second of all, we already have flying cars, they’re called airplanes. Sorry, I just had to say that. It’s not really related to the game, but it’s how I am dealing with the concept and my jealousy of the future.

Cloudpunk Park Vehicle Control

Anyway, I still love driving/flying my HOVA all over Cloudpunk, and you will too if you play it. What a wonderful feature.

The game is pretty gritty. Not as much as Vice City, but definitely somewhere around GTA2, the best GTA game, I don’t play those games anymore, but loved the top-down art and music of GTA2.

There’s a story within the game about Raina’s dog’s mind being uploaded into her HOVA A.I. system. It’s pretty weird, and I didn’t really like it, but it’s kind of sweet or cool I guess? This game often leans toward mild discomfort. That’s an educated storytelling attitude though, since classically, conflict creates interest. An ugly truth, but that’s our brains.

Cloudpunk Camus Landing

Give me the Dossier on Cloudpunk

What do you need to know? Just follow the green nav points on your mini-map in the bottom right corner, learn to park, be patient, and just pay attention. Once you get the controls down you’ll enjoy driving your flying car around the city, despite what I said about airplanes, and you’ll get to see this massive amazing cyberpunk city that blasts neon light into every shadowed corner.

It’s a rogue-lite and the 3D illustration of characters is sort of bricky and pixelated, (actually it’s a design tool called Voxel, but I thought I might explain it that way anyway), while the videophone is very, very 1990’s game stylized. The whole game seems very 1990s, which is fine because it is a time when these themes thrived, and also one I love.

I didn’t feel lonely, every character has something interesting to say, as jolted as it might seem at times. I felt the game writers were guided through the concept of this game through its characters.

At Cloudpunk, We’ll Leave the Light on For You

I really enjoy my time with Cloudpunk. Maybe someday I’ll finish it. I played for quite a while on my end, but not all the way. It seemed like things were leading somewhere, but I’ll probably be returning. That’s okay, because picking up stuff and then delivering it is super fun. I feel like I can just load it up and play for as long or short as I want. Although, it seems that the save system is automated and I’m not totally sure how it works. It’s a nice pace all and all.

Anyway, if you are leaning toward purchasing it, or it’s on sale, go for it. It is visually astounding and pretty satisfying. We may be on the verge of a cyberpunk revival, and I’m cool with it.

Thanks for reading. Read about more games at MrDavePizza.com