Cluster of Games, Part 1

In an attempt to reduce my enormous essays on the games I play, I’ve decided to try taking a cue from my game series with short sessions and use the same format. Each of these types of blog posts will be a cluster of five games. Maybe it will only be for the really short games while the lengthy games will be getting their own blog posts – I’m not quite sure about that yet. Guess I’ll figure it out as I go along.

  • Among the Sleep
  • Beyond Eyes

More games will be appended here as I play them.

Among the Sleep

Developer: Krillbite Studio | Released: 2014 | Genre: Adventure, Horror

This was a short first person horror adventure in control of a little toddler that could barely walk. After a birthday cake from mum and a later put to sleep, the majority of the game went through surrealistic set pieces with elements from the house itself. Most of the game was very dark with a lot of walking/crawling, sometimes with light puzzles like dragging a chair to climb on or finding “memories” for a portal.

I’ve said it before and I’ll repeat it again – I’m not really fit for horror games or movies anymore. I’ve become completely numb. I really should stop touching this genre.

Nevertheless I bought the game and I am trying to work through my backlog.

But in spite of the absence of screaming in my apartment, the game did its best with a spooky atmosphere, it didn’t go crazy with cheap jump scares, and the ambient sounds were really good. Humans that can still experience the feeling of horror may find a lot to like here.

The surrealistic dream levels sometimes reminded me of American McGee’s Alice games.

There were light puzzle elements, like finding key lock items or a few objects for a counterweight or a simple puzzle to open up for further access. That being said, most of the game really was walking simulator territory. In the last third of the game there was a roaming monster to avoid – a cue taken from the horror classic Amnesia: The Dark Descent which no doubt also served as a solid inspiration.

Notes: Click

  • There were body awareness. The kid was wearing blue rompers.
  • The toddler could crawl, walk and run, although the latter was often cut short by tripping.
  • I was given a teddy bear. It could comment on things, and when hugged it worked as a weak lamp.
  • Lots of doodles to find in various cabinets. I never got enough of them for an achievement.
  • Many levels ended with a brass tube that I could slide into, ready to enter the next level.
  • There was a smull hut where four “memories” could be placed to open the next set of levels.
  • The first real puzzle was finding a cluster of figurines for a small counterweight seesaw.
  • Sometimes the ambient sounds were assisted by the sound of a heart beating.
  • Boxes or chairs could be pushed for climbing but opening drawers also worked for that purpose.
  • When the toddler got scared (e.g. when the monster showed up) the entire screen shook its lines.
  • One of the better levels for avoiding the monster was in a library, hiding under the bookshelves.
  • In the final level, I sometimes had to hit a bottle with a ball to get access to a key lock item inside.
  • There was a level with lots of bottles on stacked boxes. Smash one and the monster came running.
  • At the last brass tube the monster came crashing in and ripped an arm off the teddy bear.
  • The reveal of the game was that mummy was a drunkard. Oh, well – then there’s always dad!

A few days later I also completed a DLC and a visited a museum.

The DLC was about calming down and collecting scared toys around the house by closing windows (to keep out the snow) and switching on a device such as a radio or a cartoon on the TV. The hairy monster was also roaming, but the biggest challenge was actually avoiding a menacing furnace in the cellar.

The museum displayed all the assets of the game with lots of comments, some of which was told by teddy placeholders. It was surprisingly elaborate. In fact, it was almost too much of a good thing.

7/10

Beyond Eyes

Developer: Tiger & Squid | Released: 2015 | Genre: Adventure, Facile

Regarding brightness, this game was the polar opposite of Among the Sleep. Here white was consistently dominating the screen. It was short – about two hours, including one level restart because of a bug.

Rae, a little girl blind after an accident, had to go look for her friend, Nani – which was an orange cat. The game was quite unique in the way it used her blindness as a gimmick. I was walking her around removing white “fog of war” that was drawn depending on being in close vicinity. Sometimes, a noise in the distance could temporarily show a hotspot, like a woodpecker working a tree or a church bell. There were also permanent hotspots created by constant sounds such as a streaming river or a waterfall.

Most of the game was about finding my way through fields and a village, uncovering white fog. Sometimes she was smelling the cat thus showing where to go next, and there were very light tasks such as throwing bread for seagulls to get out of the way, or fetching a ball for another girl.

I had mixed feelings about this game, but for the most part it was cute and short enough to warrant the installation. I actually quite liked “painting” the surroundings as it reminded me of a game mechanic that I used to find enjoyable. On the other hand, the girl was walking very slowly. Since she was blind it was quite understandable, but it was still too much. I often yearned for a run button.

It was also sometimes too easy to get into a loop of constantly bumping into house walls and bushes, having to find my way around. I then tried sticking solely to the paths and roads, but the game sometimes abandoned those just to spice things up. There were also things to back out of or walk around.

Especially barking dogs.

One really sweet idea that was used from time to time was to reveal something in the distance as what she guessed it was, then as she got close it transformed into what it actually was. For example, a fountain in the distance turned out to be a sewer pipe instead.

Notes: Click

  • I had to go quite a long way around a fence to get a ball for Lily, a girl she met by a fence.
  • When it started the rain, the drops were few and slow. Not the most realistic rain I’ve ever seen.
  • Later it rained a lot more, and the noise from it prevented the stickiness of the fog.
  • After a level in a harbour, I found a series of walls that she later deducted was a cemetary instead.
  • There were lots of houses with doors, none of which she could ever enter.
  • I opened the gate to a chicken yard that I couldn’t close. The chickens didn’t care either way.
  • A busy road was illustrated as a long and dark cloud of smoke. Luckily there was a crossing.
  • If a man popped up to move or change something, he was often whistling. Loudly.
  • The cat turned out to be dead (she only found its collar) but the girl with the ball visited her.

In the second level of the game I hit a bug as I discovered a barking dog. Somehow I managed to sidestep the path just enough to get into a repeating cutscene loop that I couldn’t break out of. I had to quit the game and then resume it, and that’s where I discovered that I was set back quite a bit.

6/10

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