To The Moon

To The Moon

Ever since I started twitch streaming, I’ve been on the lookout for some awesome indie games because let’s face it; my laptop is nowhere near good enough to play the latest games, let alone run a livestream on the side. During this search, I came across To The Moon, a 2D exploration game(sort of) made by Freebird games.

To The Moon puts us in the shoes of Dr. Neil Watts, one of the duo who go to visit Johnny Wyles, a dying man with a wish to go to the moon. The wish is made even more inexplicable by the fact that even Johnny doesn’t know why he wants to go there, in the first place. However, that wasn’t something that Neil and his partner, Dr. Eva Rosalene, should worry about. As employees of Sigmund Corp., their job is to fulfill Johnny’s dying wish by implanting memories into his mind using some revolutionary technology. So no matter how weird they found Johnny’s situation, it wasn’t something they had to overly worry about; just accomplish whatever they came to this rural settlement for, then leave the man to die in peace. And on to the next job.

But when Eva and Neil go into Johnny’s memories and cause some alterations to push him towards becoming an astronaut, they find out that no matter how much they tried, their attempts ended in failure. And amongst all this was his deceased wife, River Wyles, who had an eccentric habit of making paper rabbits during the later stages of her life. What was the relationship dynamic between River and Johnny, really?  And what is with that lighthouse? Most importantly, why were they facing these unanticipated difficulties in altering Johnny’s memories? Telling you more would only end up spoiling the story for you guys, so just play it and find out for yourself.

                                             If you don’t make this too hard, then of course…

The plot of To The Moon is rock-solid, I must say. The way it progresses from the present to Johnny’s memories over his life time was done really well, and some events threaten to bring tears to your eyes. However the gameplay itself is uninspiring, to say the least. We just go around collecting a certain number of interactable objects, then find a memento, solve a small puzzle and use the memento to get further into Johnny’s past life. Not so great gameplay-wise. However, this mechanic works well in establishing how certain objects have left an indelible impression on Johnny. The soundtrack is amazing though, I must say. A game like this needs an appropriate soundtrack to set the mood of the player, and To The Moon, I’m glad to say, has done the job well. And wait, I almost forgot to say this : the dialogue is awesome. The banter between Neil and Eva often will make you laugh out loud, and serves to establish not only their personalities, but also their camaraderie.

So, do I recommend To The Moon? Hell yes I do, especially if you’re a fan of indie games and story-driven games. Just go for it already!

RATING : 9/10

PROS :
– great story
– awesome soundtrack
– main characters’ conversations are so funny

CONS :
– gameplay itself is uninteresting

SUPERHOT

SUPERHOT

As I was checking out new indie games which I could play on my dying laptop, I came across SUPERHOT, supposed to be one of the most innovative game of last year. Of course I was intrigued by this description, and decided to try it out myself. So, is it worth playing?

When you first boot into SUPERHOT, you are greeted by what is supposedly another player of the game[in the game world], urging you to try out the game. Once you boot up superhot.exe from the  game menu, you are thrown into a few random situations where the game’s mechanics are explained to you, in what is ostensibly a tutorial. Here you are introduced to how time works in the game. Basically, only when you move, does time also. This lies at the core of SUPERHOT, and the most important thing to keep notice of, is how you’re going to utilize this mechanic.

Because even though the game is a first-person shooter at the outset, you absolutely have to be on your toes trying to figure out which ones among the red guys you have to focus on. The one who’s firing at you with a shotgun, or the one who’s right next to you and will punch you in the gut? Or is it the location from where you just heard a pistol pop off? All the varied possibilities and choices one can make, make for interesting dynamics. This game is essentially a puzzle where the pieces move as you do.

Not to say that it doesn’t have a story as such. We start off by just trying out this game at a friend’s recommendation, but the soon after everything goes sideways. At the start, we cannot get into the full game because the later game levels are password-protected, but then we manage to somehow get in due to some glitch. Soon enough, the game turns into something else entirely.

All of this is neatly packed into a short but satisfying 2.5-3 hours of the game. Yes, SUPERHOT is pretty small, but is totally worth every second of it. And the fun doesn’t end once the story is finished; you can try out the Endless Mode which gets unlocked after the story completion.

In the end, I’d like to say that this game is nothing short of marvelous, and is worth trying out. Anyone who is even remotely into indie games would find this a worthy buy.

RATING : 9.7/10

PROS :
– innovative mechanics
– great concept
– story

CONS :
– campaign is too small
– frame rates were occasionally bumpy[maybe because I was streaming]

Watch me play SUPERHOT on my twitch channel flamenfeed.

INSIDE

INSIDE

It has been some time since I’ve played any games, let alone indie games. So I myself wanted to try out something new, and picked up Inside. So, how was the game?

Inside starts off with the player being in control of a red-shirted boy who’s trying to get away from some facility of a dystopian world, where people are being turned into some sort of machines and mind-control is an extremely common occurrence. We, as the boy, have one objective; to escape from whatever horrors could be perpetrated upon us. The game is pretty dark and feels like a monochromatic game; I was actually trying to turn up the brightness of my screen to increase the visibility of the colors, before realizing that the game itself was being presented that way. It is pretty dark most of the time, in both form and character, and is a silent game throughout, save the occasional musical cues we get whenever we complete a part of a puzzle, or something on those lines.

                                                 Probably the most thrilling part of the game…

The puzzles of Inside are some of the most creative ones I’ve seen in some time; I mean, what would you expect if you haven’t played any indies in some time? But that notwithstanding, I must say that the puzzles did make me think quite a bit. And the bleak atmosphere really suits the game. Not just that, some of the incidents that take place over the course of the game are really thrilling, the kind of tense situations where you know that just one wrong move is enough to get you caught or killed. Which was exactly what I liked about Limbo, made by the very same Playdead. Whereas some of the scenes are just flat out disturbing in their far-reaching implications, yet more reason to love this game. The plot is a bit vague except for the escaping part, but in this case the ambiguity actually works in the favor of Inside, because of all the player interpretations which can kick in and add unique flavors of gameplay to each individual. And the best part? Minimal backtracking!

In the end, I would say that this is one game any indie/puzzle-game lover should definitely not miss. Do yourself a favor and play this already!

RATING : 9.3/10

PROS :
– great setting
– bleak atmosphere interspersed with tense moments
– creative puzzles
– minimal backtracking

CONS :
-I dunno man, you guys tell me.

 

Pi

Pi

Ever wanted to see a movie that attempts something out of the ordinary? A movie where you have to really stress your mind, like really? I’m not talking about stuff like Inception. I’m talking of something much more hardcore, like Primer. Well, this is one of those messed-up movies you can recommend to your friends just to see the expressions on their faces while they struggle to understand what the hell is happening on the screen.

Max Cohen, the protagonist (and narrator) of the story, is a mathematician whose current project is to predict the direction the stock market is about to take, using his computer Euclid. But in a more general sense, Max believes that everything in the universe follows a pattern , and similarly, even the stock market must have an inherent pattern which no one has yet discovered. One day, when Max is outside, he happens to meet a person Lenny Meyer, who happens to be researching on the mathematical significance of the Hebrew alphabet and the Torah, and shows Max some fascinating implications of the math involved in the Hebrew words.

    Max Cohen, with his computer Euclid

One day, when Max conducts a routine experiment with Euclid to predict the next day’s stocks, the computer prints out seemingly-garbage results for the next day, along with a 200-odd digit number, and hangs. Max throws the results out in frustration, but when he visits his mentor’s house and reads the newspaper there, he finds that Euclid was right all along. And when Lenny talks of a 216-digit number which was supposed to be of immense importance to the Jewish world, he realizes that this has to do with the final thing his computer printed out before it crashed on him. Now begins a mad dash for the number, and from here, the film goes places, both real and imaginary.

Sean Gullette, in his portrayal of the main character Max Cohen, is amazing. Max’s psychosis is disturbingly unnerving, and the intensity of Sean’s acting can only be understated. Also, you never know if what is being shown on screen is really happening, or if it is only a product of his imagination. He suffers from frequent cluster headaches and hallucinations, and they are truly freaky to watch. Ben Shenkman, playing Lenny, and Max’s mentor Sol, played by Mark Margolis, are great as well. The atmosphere of the film is tense throughout, and really builds the suspense in the viewer.

The movie, although a great attempt, isn’t without its flaws. The technical flaws aren’t always noticeable, but if you are observant and knowledgeable, you will notice a few goofs. Still, this movie is worth watching for the thought put into it, and the acting prowess on exhibition.

RATING : 8.3/10

PROS :
– unreliable narrator
– atmosphere
– concept

CONS :
– some noticeable goofs
– may get a little bit too disturbing for some