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Found 14 results

  1. If you're in the market for a heartwarming and hilarious tale about a frog detective (and why wouldn't you be?) the latest game from Grace Bruxner and Thomas Bowker definitely delivers. The Haunted Island, a Frog Detective Game stars a detective who happens to be a frog as the trusty amphibian investigates a supposedly haunted island. No tricks, this isn't going to suddenly turn into a bloody horror fest or take a turn into uncomfortable territory like Doki Doki Literature Club. Seriously, this game's adorable. It's all about trying to figure out who or what is causing problems for a kindhearted sloth for cryin' out loud! It takes about an hour to complete and sells for $4.49 on Steam. It boasts impressive features like the following: a frog lots of new friends to meet amazing and nice original soundtrack a great time to be had If those aren't intriguing video game features then I just don't know about you anymore, Todd. The Haunted Island, a Frog Detective Game is available now for PC. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  2. If you're in the market for a heartwarming and hilarious tale about a frog detective (and why wouldn't you be?) the latest game from Grace Bruxner and Thomas Bowker definitely delivers. The Haunted Island, a Frog Detective Game stars a detective who happens to be a frog as the trusty amphibian investigates a supposedly haunted island. No tricks, this isn't going to suddenly turn into a bloody horror fest or take a turn into uncomfortable territory like Doki Doki Literature Club. Seriously, this game's adorable. It's all about trying to figure out who or what is causing problems for a kindhearted sloth for cryin' out loud! It takes about an hour to complete and sells for $4.49 on Steam. It boasts impressive features like the following: a frog lots of new friends to meet amazing and nice original soundtrack a great time to be had If those aren't intriguing video game features then I just don't know about you anymore, Todd. The Haunted Island, a Frog Detective Game is available now for PC. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  3. All aboard the HMCS Britannic for a foray into madness courtesy of the mysterious Mr. X. The ship has all the modern conveniences as well as the ability to fly and travel through time. Also, any one of the other guests might be out to kill you. Looks can be deceiving in Murderous Pursuits, a game of refinement, role-playing, and, of course, MURDER. Murderous Pursuits puts players into a given section of the Britannic with up to seven of their friends who have taken the identities of other ship guests. Without drawing too much attention to yourself either from ship guards or other players, each guest must hunt down and kill their rivals in creative and sneaky ways. Of course, you should try not to make too much of a scene, since it might draw the attention of the guest stalking your trail. Take your time to explore the space, find insane (but concealable) weapons, and find the right time and place for your target's demise. Developer Blazing Griffin will be launching the game next week, but hopes that the open beta they have planned for this weekend can help iron out any remaining wrinkles in their game. The beta will begin tomorrow, April 20, at 7pm EST/4pm PST and run until Sunday, April 22, at 12am EST/9pm PST. You can install the beta client from the title's Steam page. Murderous Pursuits releases for PC on April 26.
  4. All aboard the HMCS Britannic for a foray into madness courtesy of the mysterious Mr. X. The ship has all the modern conveniences as well as the ability to fly and travel through time. Also, any one of the other guests might be out to kill you. Looks can be deceiving in Murderous Pursuits, a game of refinement, role-playing, and, of course, MURDER. Murderous Pursuits puts players into a given section of the Britannic with up to seven of their friends who have taken the identities of other ship guests. Without drawing too much attention to yourself either from ship guards or other players, each guest must hunt down and kill their rivals in creative and sneaky ways. Of course, you should try not to make too much of a scene, since it might draw the attention of the guest stalking your trail. Take your time to explore the space, find insane (but concealable) weapons, and find the right time and place for your target's demise. Developer Blazing Griffin will be launching the game next week, but hopes that the open beta they have planned for this weekend can help iron out any remaining wrinkles in their game. The beta will begin tomorrow, April 20, at 7pm EST/4pm PST and run until Sunday, April 22, at 12am EST/9pm PST. You can install the beta client from the title's Steam page. Murderous Pursuits releases for PC on April 26. View full article
  5. King Art Games released an episodic adventure series back in 2013 called The Raven - Legacy of a Master Thief. This year, King Art returns to its mystery to remaster it for modern consoles and give it a new coat of paint for the PC crowd. This new version will simply be called The Raven Remastered. The Raven focuses on unraveling the mystery behind the theft of a ruby from the British Museum in 1964. In its place was found a raven feather, the calling card of a master thief who disappeared without a trace years earlier. The ruby is one of a pair - the second is sent to Cairo for exhibition under the watchful eye of the player character, the bumbling constable Anton Jakob Zellner. Zellner quickly finds himself embroiled in a mystery that he had only ever encountered in his beloved mystery novels, complete with a debonair sleuthing rival in the form of Nicolas Legrand. When The Raven released five years ago, it received praise for its voice acting and narrative, as well as some criticism for its reliance on outdated adventure game mechanics. Perhaps those mechanics have improved with age? The remaster offers improved animations, a revamped lighting system, and new hair rendering all in HD. It also adds French, Spanish and Simplified Chinese support for the first time, which comes in addition to the already available German, Russian, Polish and Italian localizations. The trailer released to announce the upcoming remaster seems to oscillate between appropriately moody lighting showing off the improvements made and some... less visually appealing moments as seen in the thumbnail for the trailer. Can you keep the Eye of the Sphinx safe on its long journey to Cairo when The Raven Remastered releases on March 13 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC? View full article
  6. King Art Games released an episodic adventure series back in 2013 called The Raven - Legacy of a Master Thief. This year, King Art returns to its mystery to remaster it for modern consoles and give it a new coat of paint for the PC crowd. This new version will simply be called The Raven Remastered. The Raven focuses on unraveling the mystery behind the theft of a ruby from the British Museum in 1964. In its place was found a raven feather, the calling card of a master thief who disappeared without a trace years earlier. The ruby is one of a pair - the second is sent to Cairo for exhibition under the watchful eye of the player character, the bumbling constable Anton Jakob Zellner. Zellner quickly finds himself embroiled in a mystery that he had only ever encountered in his beloved mystery novels, complete with a debonair sleuthing rival in the form of Nicolas Legrand. When The Raven released five years ago, it received praise for its voice acting and narrative, as well as some criticism for its reliance on outdated adventure game mechanics. Perhaps those mechanics have improved with age? The remaster offers improved animations, a revamped lighting system, and new hair rendering all in HD. It also adds French, Spanish and Simplified Chinese support for the first time, which comes in addition to the already available German, Russian, Polish and Italian localizations. The trailer released to announce the upcoming remaster seems to oscillate between appropriately moody lighting showing off the improvements made and some... less visually appealing moments as seen in the thumbnail for the trailer. Can you keep the Eye of the Sphinx safe on its long journey to Cairo when The Raven Remastered releases on March 13 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC?
  7. The year is 1986 and Miami has found itself struggling against gangs, drugs, and the AIDS epidemic. One person per day is found murdered and hundreds go missing, overwhelming local police departments. Many of those people are never found, disappearing without a trace. Consuelo "Chelo" Martínez tracks down those ghosts to uncover the truth behind their disappearances. Ghosts of Miami tells the story of Chelo's sleuthing as she solves cases and makes a name for herself as a lady who can get things done. I had a chance to play through the demo of Ghosts of Miami this week and found myself really impressed. I'm not one who typically falls in love with visual novels. The limited degree of interactivity and the stylistic rut many fall into generally loses my interest. Not so with Ghosts of Miami. Developed by Pillow Fight, the team that made a name for themselves with 2015's We Know The Devil, Ghosts of Miami drips with 80s style. The dream pop art exudes charm and personality. While backgrounds have an ethereal, dream-like quality, the principle characters come alive. Their various facial expressions and poses render the cast instantly endearing and eye-catching. The animated opening alone demonstrates how much life Pillow Fight poured into Ghosts of Miami. There's a really passionate core to the game that its visuals thoroughly succeed in conveying. While style certainly contributes to the tone of Ghosts of Miami, writing remains the lifeblood of a visual novel. It needs to hold up to scrutiny. On that front, the title stands strong. Chelo herself presents a compelling protagonist as a sleuth who can take more morally ambiguous jobs because she lacks even a Private Investigator designation. The player feels her frustrations, insecurities, and fears via her dialogue or internal asides. The well realized supporting characters showcased in the demo pull their own weight, too. While the game itself will follow Chelo over the course of five cases, the demo only shows a part of her first case. She's hired by her landlord, Mrs. Woon, to find Grace Woon, her daughter who has been missing for two days. This first case proves to be an important one for Chelo, both because it could make or break her reputation, but also because it is her first case after quitting her gas station job and she really doesn't want to go back there. After setting the scene, Ghosts of Miami allows players to choose which lead they would like to follow up. The catch is that each lead takes time - Chelo only has time to visit three locations throughout the day - morning, afternoon, and evening. Do you go to Grace's favorite childhood spot? Check out her sketchy boyfriend? See if you can track down her best friend? Or do you put all that aside for now and see what your screw-up of a brother is up to this time? While visiting locations, players typically encounter new characters who can prove helpful, resistant, or clueless depending on the circumstance and the approach players choose to take. Like many visual novels, players will encounter helpful (or possibly distracting) love interests while solving mysteries. Players can rebuff these romantic advances to focus on work or blow off work to spend time with their new romance. Be warned! Spending too much time with those amorous connections could lead to disaster. The Ghosts of Miami has been Greenlit on Steam and it's definitely worth a look, especially if you're in the market for a different kind of game to spice things up in this year of great games. The full release of Ghosts of Miami is coming up sometime this summer. It will be available in English, Spanish, and Traditional Chinese. Pillow Fight is also working on additional accessibility options like screenreading, text-to-speech, and gamepad controls. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Ghosts of Miami. The demo felt incredibly refreshing with its overpowering charm, stylish aesthetic, and well written dialogue. It made me want to spend more time in its world and characters over the course of just one in-game day. Keep an eye on this one. You can download the demo from the Ghosts of Miami website. View full article
  8. Jack Gardner

    Become an 80s Detective in Ghosts of Miami

    The year is 1986 and Miami has found itself struggling against gangs, drugs, and the AIDS epidemic. One person per day is found murdered and hundreds go missing, overwhelming local police departments. Many of those people are never found, disappearing without a trace. Consuelo "Chelo" Martínez tracks down those ghosts to uncover the truth behind their disappearances. Ghosts of Miami tells the story of Chelo's sleuthing as she solves cases and makes a name for herself as a lady who can get things done. I had a chance to play through the demo of Ghosts of Miami this week and found myself really impressed. I'm not one who typically falls in love with visual novels. The limited degree of interactivity and the stylistic rut many fall into generally loses my interest. Not so with Ghosts of Miami. Developed by Pillow Fight, the team that made a name for themselves with 2015's We Know The Devil, Ghosts of Miami drips with 80s style. The dream pop art exudes charm and personality. While backgrounds have an ethereal, dream-like quality, the principle characters come alive. Their various facial expressions and poses render the cast instantly endearing and eye-catching. The animated opening alone demonstrates how much life Pillow Fight poured into Ghosts of Miami. There's a really passionate core to the game that its visuals thoroughly succeed in conveying. While style certainly contributes to the tone of Ghosts of Miami, writing remains the lifeblood of a visual novel. It needs to hold up to scrutiny. On that front, the title stands strong. Chelo herself presents a compelling protagonist as a sleuth who can take more morally ambiguous jobs because she lacks even a Private Investigator designation. The player feels her frustrations, insecurities, and fears via her dialogue or internal asides. The well realized supporting characters showcased in the demo pull their own weight, too. While the game itself will follow Chelo over the course of five cases, the demo only shows a part of her first case. She's hired by her landlord, Mrs. Woon, to find Grace Woon, her daughter who has been missing for two days. This first case proves to be an important one for Chelo, both because it could make or break her reputation, but also because it is her first case after quitting her gas station job and she really doesn't want to go back there. After setting the scene, Ghosts of Miami allows players to choose which lead they would like to follow up. The catch is that each lead takes time - Chelo only has time to visit three locations throughout the day - morning, afternoon, and evening. Do you go to Grace's favorite childhood spot? Check out her sketchy boyfriend? See if you can track down her best friend? Or do you put all that aside for now and see what your screw-up of a brother is up to this time? While visiting locations, players typically encounter new characters who can prove helpful, resistant, or clueless depending on the circumstance and the approach players choose to take. Like many visual novels, players will encounter helpful (or possibly distracting) love interests while solving mysteries. Players can rebuff these romantic advances to focus on work or blow off work to spend time with their new romance. Be warned! Spending too much time with those amorous connections could lead to disaster. The Ghosts of Miami has been Greenlit on Steam and it's definitely worth a look, especially if you're in the market for a different kind of game to spice things up in this year of great games. The full release of Ghosts of Miami is coming up sometime this summer. It will be available in English, Spanish, and Traditional Chinese. Pillow Fight is also working on additional accessibility options like screenreading, text-to-speech, and gamepad controls. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Ghosts of Miami. The demo felt incredibly refreshing with its overpowering charm, stylish aesthetic, and well written dialogue. It made me want to spend more time in its world and characters over the course of just one in-game day. Keep an eye on this one. You can download the demo from the Ghosts of Miami website.
  9. Quaseymoto

    What Happened to Gaming Mystery?

    Do you remember the last time you discovered something in a game without looking up an answer online or unlocking an achievement? It has been too long for me, and I don’t think I’m alone. There’s value in uncovering secrets via clues, random luck, or just natural progression of story. The internet community and completionists are winning out and persuading developers to dumb down these elements or remove them entirely. There are some diamonds in the rough, and these become instantly popular because mystery in gaming is something that shouldn’t be forgotten or lost. In-game mysteries come in many forms, but we’re going to focus on a few of the more common occurrences. The first and most prevalent is the puzzle. A puzzle comes in many shapes and sizes, and neither factor directly impacts the difficulty. But, in all cases the difficulty of puzzles has decreased over the years. How long are you willing to try solving a puzzle before researching the answer? A development team can make a great puzzle that takes hours of play to figure out (ex. Braid, The Stanley Parable, Majora’s Mask), but if you can google the answer two days after it releases then all those folks are taking away from their art. So instead they make the puzzle simpler. Now it takes no more than a few minutes to solve. More complex puzzles require a mechanic that points you to the answer, such as Lara Croft’s “Survival Instincts” in Tomb Raider. When did it become more important to complete the game than it did to enjoy the experience? Next, and perhaps most coveted, the Easter Egg. An Easter Egg is a bonus feature hidden in a game by its designers. Often a simple picture or message, they are a way for the designer to share an inside joke with a player who goes the extra mile to find it. The Easter Egg has its own variance in difficulty and scale. Some are meant to be found by any player willing to take a few more minutes. Others still are buried deep, deep in the code, deeper than the first Easter Eggs such as the key in Atari’s Adventure. They can be mysteries buried to the point that only a select few will find it without looking up the answers. In order to encourage players to explore their world and find the hidden gems, some more recent releases such as Halo have incorporated a gameplay feature into the Easter Egg. Now, in order to experience the hardest difficulty or ‘real’ ending, you must find them. So, to the internet! Instead of spending quality time in the world, players just watch how-to videos and skip any exploration. I use Halo to bring up a personal reference. I found my first hidden skull in Halo 3 on my own. I saw a small corner and the desire to explore sent me off on a few minute long quest to reach an odd ledge. Reaching that skull myself was so rewarding I yearned to go find all of them, with no help. In the end I failed and could not find two despite my best efforts. I refused to look them up on the internet. The developers had bested me twice. Looking up the answer would cheapen their victory. All of that is lost as we become less adventurous and focus more on completion. Let’s look at another example, P.T. I think this single level demo proves the value of mystery and also shows how the current gaming culture dilutes it. It contained a series of exploration-based puzzles with clues that led to the Easter Egg that was the project’s purpose, the relation between this game and an upcoming (now cancelled) Silent Hills. Adventure-horror is not my cup of tea, so I never played it. However, by the time I would’ve had a chance the entire mystery had been solved, analyzed, and shared to the point of a decrease in the value of trying it. In short, it was spoiled. Hideo Kojima himself expected it would take a week to be solved, but it ended up taking half a day. I praise the folks who completed it so quickly. However, the rapid spreading of the answers takes away from Kojima’s and Guillermo del Toro’s creation, minimizing the number of people that can enjoy and discover its mysteries on their own time. Most of the above focuses on video games, but tabletop gaming has its own form of mystery. Take Magic: the Gathering. I am a Johnny, a type of player that focuses on creating combos more than optimized strategy. As such, discovering card combinations built into a set, maybe even finding some the designers never intended, brings me great joy. However, when I do any research on cards in current sets I find dozens of potential combos and pre-built decks that will utilize and destroy my newfound discovery. It’s great that the community shares these, even in a competitive world like M:tG. Unfortunately, I left the world of Magic and sold my cards mainly because of the devaluation of the parts I enjoyed the most. We live in a “no spoiler” culture for nearly all forms of media. In years past, motivated players could purchase a strategy guide to reach the coveted 100%. However, the explosion of free walkthroughs, guides, faqs, and demos on the internet has removed the financial barrier. Why are these mysteries the exception to the rule? Has the need to win become more important than the play? Imagine a movie that gave hints and reminders to previous clues or a book that allowed you to skip exposition in order to get to the juicy combat chapter. That mentality is far too common and encourages developers to focus on gameplay more than complex plot or mystery. In a perfect world shouldn’t there be room for both? The truth is I’m likely in the minority. Market research and statistics would likely reveal that most gamers don’t care about mystery as much as me. Thankfully the indie market provides some great products that utilize mystery in new and engaging ways. To those of you out there that have never immersed yourself in a game and picked out all the secrets and answers yourself, I encourage you to try it soon. The experience will both show you new ways to enjoy our hobby and stimulate your brain in ways that will benefit you outside of the gaming world. --- This post was authored by Extra Life community member Bobby Frazier. Thank you very much, Bobby! Any other Extra Lifers out there with some writing skills and a good idea? Read our article about how to become a community contributor and start submitting today!
  10. Do you remember the last time you discovered something in a game without looking up an answer online or unlocking an achievement? It has been too long for me, and I don’t think I’m alone. There’s value in uncovering secrets via clues, random luck, or just natural progression of story. The internet community and completionists are winning out and persuading developers to dumb down these elements or remove them entirely. There are some diamonds in the rough, and these become instantly popular because mystery in gaming is something that shouldn’t be forgotten or lost. In-game mysteries come in many forms, but we’re going to focus on a few of the more common occurrences. The first and most prevalent is the puzzle. A puzzle comes in many shapes and sizes, and neither factor directly impacts the difficulty. But, in all cases the difficulty of puzzles has decreased over the years. How long are you willing to try solving a puzzle before researching the answer? A development team can make a great puzzle that takes hours of play to figure out (ex. Braid, The Stanley Parable, Majora’s Mask), but if you can google the answer two days after it releases then all those folks are taking away from their art. So instead they make the puzzle simpler. Now it takes no more than a few minutes to solve. More complex puzzles require a mechanic that points you to the answer, such as Lara Croft’s “Survival Instincts” in Tomb Raider. When did it become more important to complete the game than it did to enjoy the experience? Next, and perhaps most coveted, the Easter Egg. An Easter Egg is a bonus feature hidden in a game by its designers. Often a simple picture or message, they are a way for the designer to share an inside joke with a player who goes the extra mile to find it. The Easter Egg has its own variance in difficulty and scale. Some are meant to be found by any player willing to take a few more minutes. Others still are buried deep, deep in the code, deeper than the first Easter Eggs such as the key in Atari’s Adventure. They can be mysteries buried to the point that only a select few will find it without looking up the answers. In order to encourage players to explore their world and find the hidden gems, some more recent releases such as Halo have incorporated a gameplay feature into the Easter Egg. Now, in order to experience the hardest difficulty or ‘real’ ending, you must find them. So, to the internet! Instead of spending quality time in the world, players just watch how-to videos and skip any exploration. I use Halo to bring up a personal reference. I found my first hidden skull in Halo 3 on my own. I saw a small corner and the desire to explore sent me off on a few minute long quest to reach an odd ledge. Reaching that skull myself was so rewarding I yearned to go find all of them, with no help. In the end I failed and could not find two despite my best efforts. I refused to look them up on the internet. The developers had bested me twice. Looking up the answer would cheapen their victory. All of that is lost as we become less adventurous and focus more on completion. Let’s look at another example, P.T. I think this single level demo proves the value of mystery and also shows how the current gaming culture dilutes it. It contained a series of exploration-based puzzles with clues that led to the Easter Egg that was the project’s purpose, the relation between this game and an upcoming (now cancelled) Silent Hills. Adventure-horror is not my cup of tea, so I never played it. However, by the time I would’ve had a chance the entire mystery had been solved, analyzed, and shared to the point of a decrease in the value of trying it. In short, it was spoiled. Hideo Kojima himself expected it would take a week to be solved, but it ended up taking half a day. I praise the folks who completed it so quickly. However, the rapid spreading of the answers takes away from Kojima’s and Guillermo del Toro’s creation, minimizing the number of people that can enjoy and discover its mysteries on their own time. Most of the above focuses on video games, but tabletop gaming has its own form of mystery. Take Magic: the Gathering. I am a Johnny, a type of player that focuses on creating combos more than optimized strategy. As such, discovering card combinations built into a set, maybe even finding some the designers never intended, brings me great joy. However, when I do any research on cards in current sets I find dozens of potential combos and pre-built decks that will utilize and destroy my newfound discovery. It’s great that the community shares these, even in a competitive world like M:tG. Unfortunately, I left the world of Magic and sold my cards mainly because of the devaluation of the parts I enjoyed the most. We live in a “no spoiler” culture for nearly all forms of media. In years past, motivated players could purchase a strategy guide to reach the coveted 100%. However, the explosion of free walkthroughs, guides, faqs, and demos on the internet has removed the financial barrier. Why are these mysteries the exception to the rule? Has the need to win become more important than the play? Imagine a movie that gave hints and reminders to previous clues or a book that allowed you to skip exposition in order to get to the juicy combat chapter. That mentality is far too common and encourages developers to focus on gameplay more than complex plot or mystery. In a perfect world shouldn’t there be room for both? The truth is I’m likely in the minority. Market research and statistics would likely reveal that most gamers don’t care about mystery as much as me. Thankfully the indie market provides some great products that utilize mystery in new and engaging ways. To those of you out there that have never immersed yourself in a game and picked out all the secrets and answers yourself, I encourage you to try it soon. The experience will both show you new ways to enjoy our hobby and stimulate your brain in ways that will benefit you outside of the gaming world. --- This post was authored by Extra Life community member Bobby Frazier. Thank you very much, Bobby! Any other Extra Lifers out there with some writing skills and a good idea? Read our article about how to become a community contributor and start submitting today! View full article
  11. What are stories? Conventional wisdom will tell you that stories are something along the lines of people describing a series of events with beginnings, middles, and endings. Usually, they tend to be interesting and sometimes they’re even factual. In fact, if we really want to boil stories down to their basics, they’re just the relation of events, real or imagined, to another person. It is one of the fundamental ways in which we communicate with one another. Though everyone tells stories, some people find it to be a necessity. For those individuals, writing novels, directing movies, developing games, become compulsions. Stephen King probably hasn’t written 85 novels, novellas, non-fiction books, short stories, and assorted other works just for the mountains of money (though I’m sure that didn’t hurt his productivity). I’d hazard a guess that he feels a need to write that can’t be satisfied. Maybe I’m going a bit too far out on a limb to guess at what motivates King’s prolific writing, but I know that I write short stories to clearly articulate ideas I have trouble sharing in casual conversation. That’s part of the reason why I write for a living, too. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter was reviewed on PC. Maybe it is that background that helped me latch onto The Vanishing of Ethan Carter. In many ways, Ethan Carter is about stories and why we use them to make sense of the world around us. In a much more obvious way, Ethan Carter is a young boy who has gone missing. Before he went missing, Ethan was writing to the detective Paul Prospero who decides to investigate the strange circumstances around the boy’s disappearance. As the game begins, Paul arrives in Red Creek Valley with a mind to solve the mystery of the missing child. However, it quickly becomes apparent that there is more going on in Red Creek Valley than a simple kidnapping or runaway when players discover the severed legs and body of a murdered man. Things only seem to grow stranger from there, though I won’t go into more detail in an effort to preserve the mystery of The Vanishing of Ethan Carter. Paul Prospero has a keen eye for crime solving, aided in part by an affinity for the supernatural. Examining evidence and reconstructing crime scenes allows the detective to visualize the events leading up to the murder and provides hints as to where the next piece in the puzzle might be. This element could have been very gimmicky, and in a way it is, but it worked in making me feel like an investigator. It helped me buy into the mystery. I think that’s the most important part of enjoying and understanding Ethan Carter; you need to be able to accept the central mystery and ponder over the bizarre set of clues that are scattered throughout the beautiful scenic landscape of Red Creek Valley. The Vanishing of Ethan carter is a deliberately slow burn. The walking speed is realistically sluggish, though there is a button that allows for sprinting for players that are in a hurry. The pace invites those with more patience to observe the effort that indie studio The Astronauts put in to make the environment come alive. Birds send lonely, mournful cries across the wide waters of Red Creek, ringing out against a backdrop of trees that have shifted colors in preparation for winter. The audio and visuals complement each other perfectly and can change on a dime if the situation calls for it. As players progress, it becomes very clear just how wide of a range The Astronauts have in terms of the kinds of games they could deliver in the future. Beyond superficial qualities like the way everything appears and sounds, the level design on display is also of a very high caliber. Though Ethan Carter is in reality rather constrained and linear, it rarely feel that way. A thick illusion of openness pervades the experience. Environments are cleverly designed to draw players toward their next objective in a number of subtle ways. Sometimes a unique tree will draw you down to the left or an unusual building will compel you to abandon the train tracks that you’ve been following. At several points I found myself thinking that there were entire unexplored areas, until I deliberately backtracked to satisfy my curiosity and found that they contained nothing but more wilderness. The slow pace of Ethan Carter also allows players time to consider the implications of the various situations they come across. Are they real? Is something beyond mortal experience casting a malevolent shadow over Red Creek Valley? What does it all mean, both in the context of the game and as an outsider looking to take meaning from it? While some of these questions are resolved by the time the credits roll, others are not and those are the ones we need to answer for ourselves. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter resembles games like The Stanley Parable or Gone Home that present an environment for players to explore and investigate. The core mechanical difference between the three is that Ethan Carter contains a number of simple puzzles and murders that require some thought and interaction. Some of you might remember that last year I wrote about my experience with Gone Home. While I applauded that it was trying something unique in the gaming space, it ultimately failed to resonate with me, despite the amount of effort that The Fullbright Company put into crafting the experience. It fell short because the solution to Gone Home’s mystery seemed obvious and the story one that, while not common in games, didn’t strike me as particularly compelling. I feel the opposite about The Vanishing of Ethan Carter. It is a layered tale full of unexpected twists, wonder, suspense, and horror. When I finished I had to pace around the room thinking about what had happened for a good twenty minutes. For me, the experience rang true and I felt the payoff of having heavily invested myself into a narrative that had decided to end in a bold fashion. Without spoilers, it takes real creative guts to end a video game the way The Astronauts chose to bring Ethan Carter to a conclusion. Will there be people who respond to The Vanishing of Ethan Carter the same way that I felt about Gone Home? Absolutely. Like Gone Home before it, Ethan Carter stands almost entirely upon the strength of its narrative and will illicit different subjective reactions from players. As for me, I thought The Vanishing of Ethan Carter was some of the finest storytelling in video games. Conclusion: The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a must play for anyone who fancies themselves interested in video games as an artistic medium for stories. A rich, finely crafted environment awaits, full of surprises and riddles waiting to be solved. Players looking for action or mindless fun should seek out other games. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter could be called many things, but I don’t know that I could label it as a “fun” experience. It is enjoyable, certainly, but not fun in the traditional sense that many associate with video games. I don’t know that I’ll be playing it again in the near future, but I do know that I won’t be forgetting my time in Red Creek Valley anytime soon. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is currently available on PC and will be coming to PlayStation 4 sometime in 2015. View full article
  12. Jack Gardner

    Review: The Vanishing of Ethan Carter

    What are stories? Conventional wisdom will tell you that stories are something along the lines of people describing a series of events with beginnings, middles, and endings. Usually, they tend to be interesting and sometimes they’re even factual. In fact, if we really want to boil stories down to their basics, they’re just the relation of events, real or imagined, to another person. It is one of the fundamental ways in which we communicate with one another. Though everyone tells stories, some people find it to be a necessity. For those individuals, writing novels, directing movies, developing games, become compulsions. Stephen King probably hasn’t written 85 novels, novellas, non-fiction books, short stories, and assorted other works just for the mountains of money (though I’m sure that didn’t hurt his productivity). I’d hazard a guess that he feels a need to write that can’t be satisfied. Maybe I’m going a bit too far out on a limb to guess at what motivates King’s prolific writing, but I know that I write short stories to clearly articulate ideas I have trouble sharing in casual conversation. That’s part of the reason why I write for a living, too. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter was reviewed on PC. Maybe it is that background that helped me latch onto The Vanishing of Ethan Carter. In many ways, Ethan Carter is about stories and why we use them to make sense of the world around us. In a much more obvious way, Ethan Carter is a young boy who has gone missing. Before he went missing, Ethan was writing to the detective Paul Prospero who decides to investigate the strange circumstances around the boy’s disappearance. As the game begins, Paul arrives in Red Creek Valley with a mind to solve the mystery of the missing child. However, it quickly becomes apparent that there is more going on in Red Creek Valley than a simple kidnapping or runaway when players discover the severed legs and body of a murdered man. Things only seem to grow stranger from there, though I won’t go into more detail in an effort to preserve the mystery of The Vanishing of Ethan Carter. Paul Prospero has a keen eye for crime solving, aided in part by an affinity for the supernatural. Examining evidence and reconstructing crime scenes allows the detective to visualize the events leading up to the murder and provides hints as to where the next piece in the puzzle might be. This element could have been very gimmicky, and in a way it is, but it worked in making me feel like an investigator. It helped me buy into the mystery. I think that’s the most important part of enjoying and understanding Ethan Carter; you need to be able to accept the central mystery and ponder over the bizarre set of clues that are scattered throughout the beautiful scenic landscape of Red Creek Valley. The Vanishing of Ethan carter is a deliberately slow burn. The walking speed is realistically sluggish, though there is a button that allows for sprinting for players that are in a hurry. The pace invites those with more patience to observe the effort that indie studio The Astronauts put in to make the environment come alive. Birds send lonely, mournful cries across the wide waters of Red Creek, ringing out against a backdrop of trees that have shifted colors in preparation for winter. The audio and visuals complement each other perfectly and can change on a dime if the situation calls for it. As players progress, it becomes very clear just how wide of a range The Astronauts have in terms of the kinds of games they could deliver in the future. Beyond superficial qualities like the way everything appears and sounds, the level design on display is also of a very high caliber. Though Ethan Carter is in reality rather constrained and linear, it rarely feel that way. A thick illusion of openness pervades the experience. Environments are cleverly designed to draw players toward their next objective in a number of subtle ways. Sometimes a unique tree will draw you down to the left or an unusual building will compel you to abandon the train tracks that you’ve been following. At several points I found myself thinking that there were entire unexplored areas, until I deliberately backtracked to satisfy my curiosity and found that they contained nothing but more wilderness. The slow pace of Ethan Carter also allows players time to consider the implications of the various situations they come across. Are they real? Is something beyond mortal experience casting a malevolent shadow over Red Creek Valley? What does it all mean, both in the context of the game and as an outsider looking to take meaning from it? While some of these questions are resolved by the time the credits roll, others are not and those are the ones we need to answer for ourselves. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter resembles games like The Stanley Parable or Gone Home that present an environment for players to explore and investigate. The core mechanical difference between the three is that Ethan Carter contains a number of simple puzzles and murders that require some thought and interaction. Some of you might remember that last year I wrote about my experience with Gone Home. While I applauded that it was trying something unique in the gaming space, it ultimately failed to resonate with me, despite the amount of effort that The Fullbright Company put into crafting the experience. It fell short because the solution to Gone Home’s mystery seemed obvious and the story one that, while not common in games, didn’t strike me as particularly compelling. I feel the opposite about The Vanishing of Ethan Carter. It is a layered tale full of unexpected twists, wonder, suspense, and horror. When I finished I had to pace around the room thinking about what had happened for a good twenty minutes. For me, the experience rang true and I felt the payoff of having heavily invested myself into a narrative that had decided to end in a bold fashion. Without spoilers, it takes real creative guts to end a video game the way The Astronauts chose to bring Ethan Carter to a conclusion. Will there be people who respond to The Vanishing of Ethan Carter the same way that I felt about Gone Home? Absolutely. Like Gone Home before it, Ethan Carter stands almost entirely upon the strength of its narrative and will illicit different subjective reactions from players. As for me, I thought The Vanishing of Ethan Carter was some of the finest storytelling in video games. Conclusion: The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a must play for anyone who fancies themselves interested in video games as an artistic medium for stories. A rich, finely crafted environment awaits, full of surprises and riddles waiting to be solved. Players looking for action or mindless fun should seek out other games. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter could be called many things, but I don’t know that I could label it as a “fun” experience. It is enjoyable, certainly, but not fun in the traditional sense that many associate with video games. I don’t know that I’ll be playing it again in the near future, but I do know that I won’t be forgetting my time in Red Creek Valley anytime soon. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is currently available on PC and will be coming to PlayStation 4 sometime in 2015.
  13. One of the entirely new IPs brought to the Electronic Entertainment Expo by Square Enix, Murdered: Soul Suspect tasks players with solving one of the most difficult of all crimes: their own murder. After being killed under strange circumstances, Ronan O’Connor finds himself as a ghost in the land of the living. We were shown a section from the beginning of the game, involving the first investigative portion as well as the introduction of combat. The demo began with Ronan’s murder in the middle of a street at night. Feeling completely disoriented from his death, Ronan finds himself near his own body watching his murderer walk away from the scene of the crime. As police officers arrive on the scene and begin searching for clues, Ronan decides to help the investigation. Being an incorporeal ghost renders Ronan unable to directly interact with most objects or people. The objects that are solid to ghosts are known as “vestiges” and can be manipulated to progress through levels. This means that Ronan must use his wits and what vestiges or people he can influence to collect evidence and unravel the mystery surrounding his death. It also means that few walls have any meaning. Frequently, Ronan will be able to walk through walls, objects, and people to find new hints to take note of and observe. I was surprised to learn that Soul Suspect has one of the most logical explanations of why players can’t enter any building they choose that I’ve seen in a video game. The game is set in Salem, Massachusetts a place that has been historically superstitious and has had many of its buildings consecrated. Ghosts like Ronan cannot enter a consecrated space unless invited, as with an open door, which was demonstrated in the demo. Once within the structure, he can freely move through the walls and furniture. Another of Ronan’s ghostly abilities is mentally influencing or outright possessing people’s bodies. In one instance, there was one witness to Ronan’s murder (it was in the middle of the street after all) and the woman was so distraught she couldn’t answer the police officer’s questions coherently. Ronan was able to enter her mind and had the option of focusing her thoughts onto a variety of topics. After choosing thoughts of the killer, the witness became able to clearly describe what she saw of the murderer to the officer and indirectly to Ronan. As Ronan continues to collect clues, he begins to have flashbacks to the events leading up to his death and realizes he was shoved from a window before being killed in the street. Moving toward the house from which he fell, Ronan sees one of the officers leave a door open, which allows him to enter the home. At that point, the demonstrator pointed out that later on in the game Ronan would be able to make electrical equipment malfunction, distracting people into revealing clues or allowing Ronan to proceed. On his way to the top floor of the house, Ronan encounters a young ghost, who is unable to move on because she can’t find her body. This was one of the game’s many side-quests in which Ronan can solve side mysteries to help other deceased move on into the after-life. It was at this point that we were also introduced to the combat. In the world of Soul Suspect, there are ghosts who pass on and there are the ghosts that cling to the world of the living. The ones that remain eventually begin feeding on other ghosts, obsessed with the idea that if they consume enough souls they will become human again. These ghosts become demons and are incredibly deadly to Ronan if taken head-on, but that is where players need to get creative. The best way to destroy a demon is by possessing them unexpectedly. Demons can’t find a ghost who has possessed someone, so possessing a bystander and then jumping into a demon was one of the solutions presented to us in the demo. The other method we were shown involved Ronan’s teleport ability, which functions as a dash that can be used to surprise and destroy the insane spirit. We only saw one type of demon in the demo, but there should be several other types in the final game. As Ronan progresses through the house, he encounters various runes and psychic imprints on objects that all gave clues. After reaching the window he was thrown from, the game entered deduction mode in which the player must correctly order clues and events in the proper order by using logic and reasoning skills. Piecing together his memories of the event and the clues present at the scene of the crime, Ronan realizes that there was a second witness to the murder hiding in the room with him at the time, and that she has disappeared. With no further clues as to the identity of his killer, Ronan begins his search for the witness, the only one who could help him bring his murderer to justice. Murdered: Soul Suspect will be coming to PS3, Xbox 360, and PC in early 2014. View full article
  14. One of the entirely new IPs brought to the Electronic Entertainment Expo by Square Enix, Murdered: Soul Suspect tasks players with solving one of the most difficult of all crimes: their own murder. After being killed under strange circumstances, Ronan O’Connor finds himself as a ghost in the land of the living. We were shown a section from the beginning of the game, involving the first investigative portion as well as the introduction of combat. The demo began with Ronan’s murder in the middle of a street at night. Feeling completely disoriented from his death, Ronan finds himself near his own body watching his murderer walk away from the scene of the crime. As police officers arrive on the scene and begin searching for clues, Ronan decides to help the investigation. Being an incorporeal ghost renders Ronan unable to directly interact with most objects or people. The objects that are solid to ghosts are known as “vestiges” and can be manipulated to progress through levels. This means that Ronan must use his wits and what vestiges or people he can influence to collect evidence and unravel the mystery surrounding his death. It also means that few walls have any meaning. Frequently, Ronan will be able to walk through walls, objects, and people to find new hints to take note of and observe. I was surprised to learn that Soul Suspect has one of the most logical explanations of why players can’t enter any building they choose that I’ve seen in a video game. The game is set in Salem, Massachusetts a place that has been historically superstitious and has had many of its buildings consecrated. Ghosts like Ronan cannot enter a consecrated space unless invited, as with an open door, which was demonstrated in the demo. Once within the structure, he can freely move through the walls and furniture. Another of Ronan’s ghostly abilities is mentally influencing or outright possessing people’s bodies. In one instance, there was one witness to Ronan’s murder (it was in the middle of the street after all) and the woman was so distraught she couldn’t answer the police officer’s questions coherently. Ronan was able to enter her mind and had the option of focusing her thoughts onto a variety of topics. After choosing thoughts of the killer, the witness became able to clearly describe what she saw of the murderer to the officer and indirectly to Ronan. As Ronan continues to collect clues, he begins to have flashbacks to the events leading up to his death and realizes he was shoved from a window before being killed in the street. Moving toward the house from which he fell, Ronan sees one of the officers leave a door open, which allows him to enter the home. At that point, the demonstrator pointed out that later on in the game Ronan would be able to make electrical equipment malfunction, distracting people into revealing clues or allowing Ronan to proceed. On his way to the top floor of the house, Ronan encounters a young ghost, who is unable to move on because she can’t find her body. This was one of the game’s many side-quests in which Ronan can solve side mysteries to help other deceased move on into the after-life. It was at this point that we were also introduced to the combat. In the world of Soul Suspect, there are ghosts who pass on and there are the ghosts that cling to the world of the living. The ones that remain eventually begin feeding on other ghosts, obsessed with the idea that if they consume enough souls they will become human again. These ghosts become demons and are incredibly deadly to Ronan if taken head-on, but that is where players need to get creative. The best way to destroy a demon is by possessing them unexpectedly. Demons can’t find a ghost who has possessed someone, so possessing a bystander and then jumping into a demon was one of the solutions presented to us in the demo. The other method we were shown involved Ronan’s teleport ability, which functions as a dash that can be used to surprise and destroy the insane spirit. We only saw one type of demon in the demo, but there should be several other types in the final game. As Ronan progresses through the house, he encounters various runes and psychic imprints on objects that all gave clues. After reaching the window he was thrown from, the game entered deduction mode in which the player must correctly order clues and events in the proper order by using logic and reasoning skills. Piecing together his memories of the event and the clues present at the scene of the crime, Ronan realizes that there was a second witness to the murder hiding in the room with him at the time, and that she has disappeared. With no further clues as to the identity of his killer, Ronan begins his search for the witness, the only one who could help him bring his murderer to justice. Murdered: Soul Suspect will be coming to PS3, Xbox 360, and PC in early 2014.
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