Haiku the Robot – First Impressions (IGC Showcase)

Yep, Haiku the Robot is about robots, although you’re more likely to catch on fire before most of its poetics! It’s a dystopic pixel platformer with a variety of routes to navigate through. The tunnels are left from the aftermath of an apocalyptic turn. It does have somewhat of a narrative for the first minute. Mostly, you’ll be in the heat of battle. You are thrown into the general theme of trying to find your way around immediately. Thankfully, maps are available.

Collect bits and bobbles to fund your robot hack and slash lifestyle. This game is as challenging as platformers like Dadish 2; although the mechanical obstacles feel more like being in a large machine. Enemies across each level wander, bounce, and get into your business. There are secrets and puzzles everywhere. If you take a wrong turn, well, you’ll end up back at your checkpoint. These checkpoints are around enough to challenge you, in the general areas of your exploration. Let me give you somewhat of a mental map for this.

Playing Haiku the Robot

The theme of Haiku the Robot runs a bit melancholic. The pixel art effects and the grim backgrounds are smoldering and dark. Luckily, the game is packed with hard-boiled noir robots who vend goods or present challenges–and generally add the only social elements of the game. And the areas you make your way through contain secrets. New areas can have treasures of monetary value and levers that with a slash of a sword unlock even more areas.

The game is kind of weirdly cute yet dystopic in a style that’s approximate to that feeling you get when you see a Jack-o-lantern out of season. Haiku the Robot is so fleshed out though and with several levels in the robot world of Arcadia, you get your money’s worth.

There is also a feature that I wasn’t able to experiment with before I got wiped during my gameplay session at the boss while recording, and that is the chip system. With the chip system, you can customize your gameplay. I guess this is sort of like the skill tree system of various RPGs and could be an interesting resource for later moments in the game.

Yet, even without a play style upgrade, the hack and slash plus movement mechanics of Haiku are fluid and smooth. I never felt that I was not in total control of my character’s fate, leading to some fail-defying heroics as I tried to reach the first boss.

Out Now on Steam!

Based on the level of engagement I gave the game and for its return, I should honestly be thankful. Most enjoyable platformers find their merit in the flow of the gameplay. I feel strength when playing this game. The way it will challenge you to use experience with these types of games is a thoroughly rewarding experience. Perhaps, as the yin to the yang of its theme, the balance of dark and light is potentially the zen quality origin that makes playing Haiku what it is.

Haiku the Robot is out now on Steam for $19.99. I have to note that I received a promo copy of this as a publisher showcase with the Indie Game Collective. Make sure to check them out and please enjoy the content here on Mr. Dave Pizza where I have covered many indie games of all genres and categories.

Thanks again for reading. Enjoy your games!

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 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!

The Life and Suffering of Sir Brante: Demo

The Life and Suffering of Sir Brante is an interactive visual novel. It spans the lifetime of a character named Sir Brante. Progress through the stages of life starting with childhood. You will forge deep experiences that will shape the course of your entire life later on. Your actions will affect your own character and also how others interact with you. Try to live true in a world dominated by an esoteric caste system and brutal classism. Yet, starting from the very bottom.

If you’re looking for an experience, not just a game, that will affect you at your core, or one that affected my core, The Life and Suffering of Sir Brante is it. This game might re-open closed wounds from life. It reminded me of my own convictions of life’s tricky path of balancing light and dark. It also addresses our own socio-economic realities in a compelling allegory.

An Introduction to The Life and Suffering of Sir Brante Household

I really had to try this game. I was browsing visual novels, a new personal favorite genre, when I stumbled upon its reviews page on Steam. People are going bonkers over this game, awe-struck, moved, strangers on the internet expressing this game’s impact. After playing the first chapter over the course of an hour and a half in a two-chapter demo, I can attest that this game is deep.

The game is somewhat simple in its interface. You progress through a book about your life through which you make choices of responses scene by scene. Moments in this story are all illustrated, succinctly yet adequately. The illustrations are as though in a vintage/antique book might have–with some special effects here and there. Your choices, initially, are guided by an introduction to the stat system intertwined with interpersonal choices in the book, probably one of the few RPG game elements in the story.

Immersive Story

You can focus on what elements might be important to you, what aspects of your personality you want to hone, and how you want others to think of you. And trust me, you will have an opinion.

There are many very quite beautiful moments in this game, even from the beginning. Everything is explored, including your very own birth. In these contexts, I often adhere to the Jungian philosophy of representational archetypes in storytelling. I have heard of people recalling their own births before, quite sincerely, but I can’t help but assert that’s not quite the norm. Yet that’s how this story starts.

The first few segments of Brante’s childhood are playful and pleasant. As the trials of reality in this weird world set in, they are rescinded on the way to a life of servitude and suffering. The world in which Brante lives is very harsh. This is not an obstacle to its enjoyment though.

I should warn you, this game is very graphic. People are frequently being punished with intimidation or violence, and a couple of times the gameplay made me a little uncomfortable. Stories need to have conflict, some need it more than others, so honestly, it is one of the things that makes this game so meaningful, but also the choices you can make to protect yourself and the ones you love during git.

Theme and Context, Something New

I started the game with my selected character goal of being receptive to a higher power. and managed to maintain that set of ethics up until I realized I was actually getting quite attached to the characters. I only played this for 90 minutes! And the characters were so important. I lied to protect everybody in the family. This is not too different from my own convictions. It’s good to be a good citizen, but if you turn in Brante’s own mother for a stat point, your character probably doesn’t have much integrity.

Things aren’t great, but you learn a lot. Eventually, your father gets notice that his own father, another nobleman, is back to return to their house. This guy is no Grandpa Joe, no, Gregor Brante is a complete jerk, I hated him. The only redeeming aspect is he proves that the noble aristocracy is as evil as you suspected, but also will prepare you for a lifetime of… suffering. Joy.

There is an important factor which I haven’t talked about yet. This is the theological element of the game; or pantheistic, however, you want to phrase it. The description of the game on Steam describes the world as a place where the gods are real. It’s more like a paternal and maternal combination of gods in the world. The game is frame by frame, so you won’t think about it much, but the entire world is bordered by a giant pillar of light at all times. This is the source of the two twin gods that caretake the whole world. Obviously not Earth by the way!

Onward into The Life and Suffering of Sir Brante

No corners were cut in producing this visually gritty game world. It will play heavily on your emotions if you play it most likely, but I am also quite sensitive to emotional topics–and observational! You don’t have to play it as a perceptive stat; I think you could probably have fun screwing around with the dark on this one, but you may be forced to contemplate your actions. And the whole world is out there to treat you like scum. Some characters are truly spirit-warming though.

I do not know where the story goes after chapter one. The story is broken up into life stages, chapter 1: childhood, chapter 2: adolescence, that sort of thing. I leave that to you dear gamer. Hopefully, Sir Brante gets justice, but you’re probably going to have to fight for it with your heart.

I can only imagine you will probably have lifetimes of playtime if you choose to play it that way. I forgot that I wasn’t Sir Brante by the time I was done! At the very least, do yourself a favor and check out the demo. It is an interesting production, and I think this one is definitely worth your time.

Thank you sincerely for reading MrDavePizza, I update frequently so check back. And you can also find me on social media!