Jan. 23rd, 2017

kjorteo: Pixel-style portrait of Celine's face (GOOD.)
I was expecting the next finished game to take months or years, not... two days, and this one wasn't even on my to-do list at all. I'm as surprised as you are, believe me. It all happened by accident: I bought this game because it was part of some Humble Bundle or another alongside other games I wanted, I started it mostly just to see what it was (I had the shortcut right next to also-unplayed Sweet Lily Dreams and I couldn't remember which one was which,) and I finished it because it looked short and easy and hey, finishing things feels good)

Labyrinthine Dreams is an indie RPG Maker puzzle game/navel-gazing walking sim by Solest Games that I probably wouldn't have played on purpose had I know what I was getting myself into, but I was right about it being short and easy (and the achievement being nice) and I don't regret the experience, so yay.

The game focuses on our heroine, Beth, as she navigates through a surreal dreamscape of gimmick maze after gimmick maze (seriously, the first few rooms in the game are a forest where you have to get around narrow hedge mazes while only being able to move in clockwise circles because you can move to your character's right or forward but not left or backward) accompanied by gorgeous imagery and sad flashback narrations. Think if What Dreams May Come were an RPG Maker puzzle game, basically, up to and including the fact that Beth is navigating coma dreams while on the verge of death.

The biggest problem I had was that, for as well made as it was, it was just so gosh-darn gloomy. Beth has led a fairly miserable life up to this point and now that she's dying on top of it, and I can't exactly tell someone in financial ruin with a dead parent and etc. to just lighten up already--her grievances are absolutely legitimate. Still, playing an entire game about this is just kind of a drag after a while, you know? Like, the very first screen in the game after you gain control is a lush forest with blowing leaves and then random hospital IV bags just sitting in the meadow (again, What Dreams May Come.) If you interact with the one closest to you, Beth quips, "If I survive this, I'll have the bills to look forward to. Great."

It's that kind of game.

It's mopey. It's tropey. It's not that I mind sadness (hi, some of my favorite games include To the Moon, Mother 3, and Undertale, and have you seen the novel I wrote) but that's more sharp feels, whereas this is general bleakness. It's the most depression-fueled game I've seen since Depression Quest, and given the overall presentation, I suspect it may have been marketed toward a similar demographic.

That being said, I am a very firm believer in "Even if it's not my thing, it's still someone's thing." This is a critically acclaimed game in general, and I can see why. It is a very high quality product. The visuals are gorgeous, as is the soundtrack. It even has some very high-quality voice acting on almost every line. Some of the maze gimmicks are more fun than others but there are a lot of clever and fun-to-play puzzles in here. It's just that I found "fun" to be a bit of a hard thing to have with Beth raining on my parade every other screen. Which, again, I'm not saying she's wrong, and I even liked the ending and thought it was a fair enough reward for getting through the rest of the journey, but....

I don't know. Like I said, I think I was the wrong person to be playing this. Still, it was 72-minute-long "I appear to have this game here and I'm not sure what it is, let's just go through it real quick" jaunt and I don't regret going through it.

Also, the nightmare monster was kind of cute


kjorteo: Pixel-style portrait of Celine's face (Default)
Celine Kalante Love

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