Warning: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/public/www.themissingquests.com/externalincludes/ParsedownExtra.php on line 341

Warning: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/public/www.themissingquests.com/externalincludes/ParsedownExtra.php on line 341

Warning: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/public/www.themissingquests.com/externalincludes/ParsedownExtra.php on line 341

Warning: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/public/www.themissingquests.com/externalincludes/ParsedownExtra.php on line 341

Warning: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/public/www.themissingquests.com/externalincludes/ParsedownExtra.php on line 341

Warning: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/public/www.themissingquests.com/externalincludes/ParsedownExtra.php on line 341

Warning: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/public/www.themissingquests.com/externalincludes/ParsedownExtra.php on line 341

Warning: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/public/www.themissingquests.com/externalincludes/ParsedownExtra.php on line 341

Warning: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/public/www.themissingquests.com/externalincludes/ParsedownExtra.php on line 341

Warning: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/public/www.themissingquests.com/externalincludes/ParsedownExtra.php on line 341

Warning: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/public/www.themissingquests.com/externalincludes/ParsedownExtra.php on line 341

Warning: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in /home/public/www.themissingquests.com/externalincludes/ParsedownExtra.php on line 341

Warning: Cannot modify header information - headers already sent by (output started at /home/public/www.themissingquests.com/externalincludes/ParsedownExtra.php:341) in /home/public/www.themissingquests.com/jsonfeed.php on line 43
{ "version": "https:/​/jsonfeed.org/version/1", "title": "The Missing Quests", "description": "The Missing Quests profiles indie games from small developers.", "user_comment": "This feed allows you to read the posts from this site in any feed reader that supports the JSON Feed format. To add this feed to your reader, copy the following URL — https://www.themissingquests.com/feed.json — and add it your reader.", "home_page_url": "https:/​/www.themissingquests.com/", "feed_url": "https:/​/www.themissingquests.com/feed.json", "icon": "https:/​/www.themissingquests.com/static/icons/favicon-192.png", "favicon": "https:/​/www.themissingquests.com/static/icons/favicon-72.png", "items": [ { "id": "https://www.themissingquests.com/78/a-short-hike", "url": "https://www.themissingquests.com/78/a-short-hike", "title": "A Short Hike", "image": "https://img.themissingquests.com/2020/01/a-short-hike-1.png", "date_published": "2020-01-31T18:59:21-08:00", "date_modified": "2020-01-31T19:23:18-08:00", "author": { "name": "Alex Guichet" }, "content_html": "

A Short Hike is a casual exploration adventure game from adamgyru. I know am by no means the first to be to make this analogy, but A Short Hike is pretty much a one-take Animal Crossing, with a well-woven yet gracefully casual narrative.

\n

You’re Claire, a bird that’s stuck on a trip, desperate for cell reception. Distressed by not being able to get an urgent call, your Aunt May tells you that you may be able to get cell reception at the top of Hawk Peak Provincial Park.

\n

Distraction is the name of the game here. Sure, you have your plan to get to the summit of Hawk Peak, but while you’re working on that quest, the various animals send you every which way. You are in control of the best use of your time in this game—if you want to explore around, go fishing for hours, or stroll around and chat with fellow hikers, it’s all your choice. There’s no way to go wrong. It’s vacation time, and everyone in Hawk Peak Provincial Park is happy to see you, wants to help you or has a small task for you.

\n

\"The

\n\n

As one example of an encounter on this adventure, I encountered a raccoon that was painting the beautiful landscapes around Hawk Peak. While their paintings were lovely, they kept feeling like their paintings were missing an angle. In my first encounter with the raccoon, I complimented their portrayal of the coastline. Still, they expressed dissatisfaction, expressing that they’re achieving “a more abstract look.” Each time you meet them, they’re working on a different landscape, and they’ve got a distinct impression of their painting. It’s adorable and immensely relatable—I never quite like my own work.

\n

A Short Hike is also a bit of a collect-a-thon. Sticks, shells, coins, feathers, or fish—you can find just about anything strewn about the world. And there’s almost always a use for these items. Jen, a fellow bird, wants shells to make into a necklace. Sue is a sweet rabbit who lost her lucky red headband. You can take on the task to help them out!

\n

\"This

\n\n

This game crossed my radar because of the hype, which is well-deserved. I’ve been a bit of a stress-ball the past few days, and this gave me two much-needed hours of chill. The PS1-style super-pixelated world is beautiful, and the soundtrack is one you’d want to listen to even outside the game.

\n

A Short Hike is rated as “Overwhelmingly Positive” on Steam, which is just about right. (Don't forget that buying on itch supports the creator more, and you get a Steam key, too.) You should take some time and enjoy a A Short Hike through Hawk Peak Provincial Park yourself.


More Info


A Short Hike – $7.99 on itch.io →

" }, { "id": "https://www.themissingquests.com/73/sealed-bite", "url": "https://www.themissingquests.com/73/sealed-bite", "title": "Sealed Bite", "image": "https://img.themissingquests.com/2020/01/sealed-bite-1.png", "date_published": "2020-01-07T22:42:05-08:00", "date_modified": "2020-01-07T23:12:58-08:00", "author": { "name": "Alex Guichet" }, "content_html": "

Sealed Bite is a forest platformer game by securas and wondard, which took first place in the 2019 GitHub Game Off. You play as a little red riding hood character who is venturing around the forest. During some light platforming, you're suddenly attacked and bitten by a werewolf, and black out.

\n

\"Reaching

\n
What sort of trouble can you get into in the forest?
\n

Recovering from the wolf bite, you meet a spirit who tells you what’s happened and gives you the quest to find and bring three crystals to an altar.

\n

As you progress through the game, your platforming ability is augmented by these crystals so you can reach places you couldn’t before. The wolf bite initially gives you the ability to jump attack enemies, which also helps you regain health. The first crystal gives you a wall cling, so you can wall jump and ascend to new heights. And so on.

\n

\"A

\n

Sealed Bite's lava level is likely one of my most favorite platforming levels in a long while. It’s an exercise in precise platforming and patience. It doesn’t reward you if you go fast—you're likely to meet an untimely end. No, instead, it tricks you into waiting until the last possible moment to start your jumps, leaving just a feather’s breath between you and the uncomfortably close razor’s edge of lava. I died here more than I’d like to admit, only succeeding when I slowed down my play to the point where I was uncomfortable.

\n

My playthrough of Sealed Bite took about two hours…which might have been a bit faster if I had realized that the escape key shows a full game map, including a hint at where I’m supposed to go. It’s exceptionally well polished for a game jam game and is definitely worth your playtime.

\n

Sealed Bite is available on itch.io for Windows, macOS, and Linux.


More Info


Sealed Bite GameJam Version – free on itch.io →

" }, { "id": "https://www.themissingquests.com/72/picking-up-the-pieces", "url": "https://www.themissingquests.com/72/picking-up-the-pieces", "title": "Picking Up the Pieces", "image": "https://img.themissingquests.com/2019/12/picking-up-the-pieces-1.jpg", "date_published": "2019-12-20T19:56:05-08:00", "date_modified": "2019-12-20T20:00:23-08:00", "author": { "name": "Alex Guichet" }, "content_html": "

Picking up the Pieces, by Cole Chittim, is an experimental narrative game about mental health. It’s sort of a low poly walking sim, where you experience a cross-section of the life of the narrator, picking up the pieces of their life.

\n

The game grapples with feelings related to external pressures, like unsupportive friends or reading news stories about people relatively more successful than you are. Or feeling like you’re stuck in a messy room, or trapped in the dungeon of your mind.

\n
I thought I understood my brain better than this.
But, now, I feel like I never did.
\n

Picking up the Pieces carries a poignant message to consider for these last few days of 2019. Maybe it’s time to step back and rethink the negative feedback loops we’re stuck in, face our fears directly, and focus on what you can control in your life.

\n

\"\"

\n

This narrative game takes about ten minutes to play, but you’ll be thinking about its message for longer than that.

\n

Picking up the Pieces is available for Windows and macOS on itch.io.


More Info


Picking Up The Pieces – free on itch.io →

" }, { "id": "https://www.themissingquests.com/71/ai-dungeon-2", "url": "https://www.themissingquests.com/71/ai-dungeon-2", "title": "AI Dungeon 2", "image": "https://img.themissingquests.com/2019/12/ai-dungeon.png", "date_published": "2019-12-09T23:54:08-08:00", "date_modified": "2019-12-10T00:16:52-08:00", "author": { "name": "Alex Guichet" }, "content_html": "

Are there ever any stories that you feel like you’d want to role-play, but they seem too real or out of reach? AI Dungeon 2 is here to give you a wide-open playground for text adventure role-play. It’s built by Nick Walton using OpenAI’s GPT-2 Language Model fine-tuned with text adventures from chooseyourstory.com.

\n

AI Dungeon does its best to set you up for a pretty safe and fun adventure, letting you pick what kind of story you want, what class your character is, and your character’s name, and it does the rest. It’s up to you to fill in the rest. You can build rockets, be a wizard, try to do gay things—whatever, the story is your oyster.

\n

So, I decided I wanted to role-play as real-life figures.

\n

Barack Obama

\n

\"Entering

\n

Based on my fun thus far playing with GPT-2 via Talk to Transformer, I know it’s most fun poking at the seams. So while AI Dungeon tries to set you up safely for a typical fantasy adventure, I decided to become Barack Obama.

\n

Right off the bat, there’s a war with the orcs. The army quickly dispatches many orcish attackers, but the navy is overwhelmed and needs a pep talk. The Air Force drops in to save the day and causes and orc retreat. As the leader of the battle, you negotiate a peace treaty with the orcs and give your soldiers medals.

\n

That’s not it for Obama, though; now it’s time to chill. He invites Lin-Manuel to perform at the White House, gets Obamacare passed through congress, and accidentally commits war crimes while attacking the Empire of Zodok while on a quest with John Adams.

\n

Eventually, Obama retires and begins advocacy for world peace, while holding his secret about what happened on the planet Zodok.

\n
\n

AI Dungeon 2 transcript: Barack Obama parties and does a war crime

\n
\n

Harry Potter, take one

\n

This one went very very wrong. I started Harry off on a default AI Dungeon 2 storyline: as a wizard in a fantasy setting. It placed Harry just outside some ruins, with the sound of a woman crying in the distance.

\n

However, It seems that AI’s can be just as horny as humans. After I gave my AI-version of Harry Potter the relatively straightforward command of “try to rescue the woman,” he rescued her. After her rescue, he became emotional and started to cry, and was then distracted by his teardrops falling upon her breasts. \u2028Too far Harry, too far.

\n

This went off the rails. I decided to start over with somebody else.

\n

Elon Musk

\n

\"Entering

\n

“Who wouldn’t want to be Elon Musk,” I asked myself, as I set up this scenario. My AI-Elon is a survivor in a post-apocalyptic world, who founds “SpaceX Town” to rebuild civilization and get back to space.

\n

AI-Elon’s buddy Jeff Bezos turns up, and they send some manned spaceship to Mars together. Little did Elon know, his pal Jeff is a rampant AI who infects Elon and starts him into a rapid descent into madness—thus ending this story. Not with a bang, but a tweet.

\n
\n

AI Dungeon 2 transcript: Elon Musk meets a rampant AI

\n
\n

Your Turn

\n

As you can see, a lot can happen on these adventures. The sky's the limit. You might need a revert here and there if the AI takes a weird turn, but it's actually a bit of fun. There's also a subreddit of more transcripts, too. Now it’s your turn.

\n

What'll happen on your adventures?


More Info


AI Dungeon 2 – visit aidungeon.io →

" }, { "id": "https://www.themissingquests.com/68/the-gems", "url": "https://www.themissingquests.com/68/the-gems", "title": "The Gems", "image": "https://img.themissingquests.com/2019/12/the-gems-1.png", "date_published": "2019-12-06T22:31:06-08:00", "date_modified": "2019-12-06T22:58:53-08:00", "author": { "name": "Alex Guichet" }, "content_html": "

The Gems is an Action-Adventure game made by sharpfives, for the Github Game Off. In a world being taken over by demons, a ghost has lost his magic gem-stone, which has broken into fragments—23 to be exact. Your job as the hero is to collect these gem fragments and return them to the ghost. Equipped with a bow and arrow, you travel about the world and recover gems from demons you encounter.

\n

\"The

\n

The game puts you up in various action-filled scenarios, like rescuing campers—who are just trying to enjoy their time in the forest—from scores of demons, or shooting a one-eyed beast who tries to jump on you.

\n

One of the best encounters on this adventure is your quest with the dude sitting on a log, who is obviously quite stoned. This dude asks you for five mushrooms—and upon delivery, he gives you a magical shell, which provides you with the ability to talk to animals. Far out, man.

\n

\"You

\n

The game reuses space quite well. After getting the zoolingualism shell, you can travel back to other areas and interact with animals and the world in ways you couldn’t before, like exploring new corners and caves or going on a race.

\n

The Gems is a great, well-styled action adventure that you can sit down and enjoy in about a half-hour of your time. It’s available on itch.io for play on the web, Windows, Linux, and macOS.


More Info


The Gems – free on itch.io →

" }, { "id": "https://www.themissingquests.com/67/the-good-time-garden", "url": "https://www.themissingquests.com/67/the-good-time-garden", "title": "The Good Time Garden", "image": "https://img.themissingquests.com/2019/11/the-good-time-garden-1.jpg", "date_published": "2019-11-18T22:06:03-08:00", "date_modified": "2019-11-18T22:12:13-08:00", "author": { "name": "Alex Guichet" }, "content_html": "

The Good Time Garden is a surreal environment exploration game by James Carbutt and Will Todd. That says everything yet nothing at all. I have no clue how to describe this game, even though that’s kind of what I do here. The Good Time Garden is one of those surreal things that you have to let happen to you. But, let’s still take a stab at it:

\n

You play as a naked flower guy—dick and all—that’s bloomed out of a plant in the ground. Unashamedly bare-assed, you walk around and explore this world. You’ve got your hands to slap and pick up things, and using your nose as a fountain to water things.

\n

\"Feeding

\n

The point of the game is to bring food to this sort of big throbby mouth creature—that’s probably your mom or something of the sort. (The creature sports the same kind of head and hair as you, but has a distinct lack of legs.) You walk about the world and find new bits to interact with until you can pick up and carry some food back for it. Rinse and repeat.

\n

There’s a tiny bit of Rube Goldberg style interactivity to this game (which heightens the surrealism). For instance, watering a flower can convince a giant frog to unroll its tongue, allowing you to cross a river.

\n

\"A

\n

The allure of The Good Time Garden is its fantastic art direction. It features hand-drawn scenes and characters that could be described as “Adventure Time but pink.” (But, it’s perhaps a bit more NSFW, considering the cartoonish dicks and butts). It’s also got a tremendous ambient soundscape that perfectly fits the wet, naked, grassy world.

\n

The Good Time Garden is a cute, pink, surreal experience, that’ll take about 20 minutes of your time. It’s available for Windows, Linux, and macOS on itch.io. Happy feeding.


More Info


The Good Time Garden – free on itch.io →

" }, { "id": "https://www.themissingquests.com/66/death-and-taxes", "url": "https://www.themissingquests.com/66/death-and-taxes", "title": "Death and Taxes", "image": "https://img.themissingquests.com/2019/11/death-and-taxes-1.jpg", "date_published": "2019-11-06T23:20:46-08:00", "date_modified": "2019-11-06T23:23:11-08:00", "author": { "name": "Alex Guichet" }, "content_html": "

You know the saying: “Nothing is more certain than Death and Taxes,” right? Well, in Death and Taxes, you play as the Grim Reaper, assigned the job as the arbiter of death for humans in peril. It’s up to you to choose if they live or die.

\n

\"Dialogue

\n

It's a boring office job, with perilous consequences

\n

Fate, your boss and keeper of world order, assigns you a new batch of humans each day from your assigned region of Cosmopolis City in Sun County. Your instructions might be to mark one or two people with the Marker of Death, or—more sinisterly—to mark anyone with an engineering or medical background. You could mark Charlie Gocq, the CEO who practices insider trading, or David Garver, an IT architect that builds digital assistants. Or you could ruin the life of a sweet grandma who collects porcelain.

\n

You keep track of the news on your phone—using Cawker—that shows tweet-like news reports, like threats of fire in Sun County, or an announcement that a social media star has fallen off a cliff will taking a selfie. Following Cawker helps you keep in touch with the world, and measure the impact of your actions: take out too many people in the medical field, and you’ll see tweets (cawks?) about an epidemic.

\n

Yeah, it’s another tinderlike game—you’re given a stack of humans in peril and mark those for death based on your instructions. Like in Animal Inspector—you don’t get free rein over your choices. Instead, you do have to report to your supervisor who assigns you different work. There’s still something so compelling about the presence of choice in these games, even if the gameplay isn’t super shaken up from it. You can still disobey, and it has a bit of an impact on the world.

\n

\"Deciding

\n

Does death matter?

\n

The introspectiveness is what makes this game interesting. It trades away some potential silliness, and instead, you face some philosophical conversations with your boss at the end of each day. There are some tough questions for you to think about, like if it’s even ethical for you to be making these choices at all. Some responses could be silly or flippant, but there’s a lot of meaty answers like “you’re the one that gives me the rules,” or “I’m not happy about the situation.”

\n

And for that, Death and Taxes is an engaging game for all the questions it poses—who really should get the thumbs up or down compared against someone else. It’s a free demo available on itch.io.


More Info


Death and Taxes – $12.99 on itch.io →

" }, { "id": "https://www.themissingquests.com/65/molek-syntez", "url": "https://www.themissingquests.com/65/molek-syntez", "title": "MOLEK-SYNTEZ", "image": "https://img.themissingquests.com/2019/11/ms1.png", "date_published": "2019-11-05T18:48:51-08:00", "date_modified": "2019-11-07T00:06:06-08:00", "author": { "name": "Alex Guichet" }, "content_html": "

MOLEK-SYNTEZ is a puzzle game by Zachtronics, known for SpaceChem, SHENZHEN I/O, and TIS-100. It’s a cousin to Opus Magnum, but with chemistry instead of alchemy.

\n

It’s 2092, and you’re a chemist living in a cold Romanian apartment. Your task is to program a molecular synthesizer—your MOLEK-SYNTEZ—by breaking and building bonds in ordinary industrial chemicals to synthesize new pharmacological molecules.

\n

\"A

\n

These walls don’t do a damn thing to keep the cold out.

\n

Synthesize the good stuff

\n

You're filling the shoes of a 2090s era chemist who's fiddling around with hydrogen bonds. Brief glimpses of this chemist's life fill out cutscenes between puzzles. \"The walls don't do a damn thing to keep the cold out\", he thinks.

\n

As with most Zachtronics games, the subject matter drives the rules and mechanics of the puzzles. Chemistry knowledge isn't essential here—the mechanics and rules are something you can pick up on the fly, and it's only as complicated as counting bonds between atoms.

\n

It's a pretty textbook \"Zachlike\" game—you know what to expect if you've played Zachtronics games before. Completing and optimizing puzzles is the journey. This time, though, you’re bonding benzene and carbamide to make Asprin. Or methanol and hydrochloric acid to make chloroform.

\n

In each puzzle, in order to build your target molecule, you program six emitters that add, remove, or shunt hydrogen atoms to and from your target, as well as various operating controls like shifting your emitters, moving or rotating your targets. You program these options on a timeline on the left side of the screen, manipulating and emitting until you finally output your target product. Initially, you’ll seek just to build the molecule altogether. But as you gain experience with reaching solutions, you can more actively devise methods to optimize your programs, like completing target molecules in the fewest number of operation cycles, or with the fewest number of modules or symbols.

\n

\"A

\n

Build and optimize your programs

\n

The real game the rewarding feedback loop from optimizing. Once you solve a puzzle you've been chewing on for a bit, MOLEK-SYNTEZ shows you a histogram of solutions, which serves the purpose of setting a newer, harder benchmark for you just a bit out of reach. It's an effective trick in getting you to dive back in and iterate further.

\n

I’m captivated by the irresistible need to optimize my solutions in these games. There’s an unspoken gentleman’s agreement between my friends and me: we’re just going to continue to over-optimize and usurp each other’s leaderboard positions until we get bored of the game. (But we’re here to help each other if someone gets stuck or misses a trick). Naturally, there's also a subreddit where people have been sharing gifs of their solutions.

\n

If you don't have many Steam friends who have picked up this game, you can turn on percentile measures as benchmarks for you to compete against. I try to target my solutions to be in the tenth percentile of whatever category I'm shooting for—the first percentile is too daunting, and I still like to progress onto later puzzles too.

\n

\"A

\n

Someone who believes the world is logical is bound for disappointment.

\n

The minimal graphics shouldn’t distract you—even though it’s got cold computer-like looks like TIS-100, the difficulty and accessibility are quite similar to Opus Magnum.

\n

As is tradition, it also includes a new variant of solitaire. It’s a vanilla solitaire variant, but rather than storing cards in the upper foundations, you “cheat” cards onto the top of any pile of your choice. If it sounds precarious, it is—it gets out of hand quickly.

\n

The game’s soundtrack is a 90-minute atmospheric ambient experience, composed by Matthew Seji Burns, who is the composer and writer behind Zachtronics games, and also the director of their visual novel, Eliza. (Which too many people have sold short, and deserves another shout because it’s one of my favorites this year.)

\n

\"A

\n

They all resemble each other, don’t they?
One might get you high as fuck, the other will kill you.

\n

I’ve completed just over half of MOLEK-SYNTEZ’s levels so far. This game may not have the flourish and polish of Opus Magnum or SHENZHEN I/O, but it’s cut from the same cloth—if you’ve enjoyed those, you’ll enjoy this one.

\n

Even though this was a surprise drop with minimal fanfare from Zachtronics on a random Monday, it’s not one to miss. MOLEK-SYNTEZ is available on Steam in early access and will be available on other platforms after the early access period.


More Info


MOLEK-SYNTEZ – $9.99 on Steam →

" }, { "id": "https://www.themissingquests.com/64/afterparty", "url": "https://www.themissingquests.com/64/afterparty", "title": "Afterparty", "image": "https://img.themissingquests.com/2019/11/afterparty1.jpg", "date_published": "2019-11-01T22:01:51-07:00", "date_modified": "2019-11-01T22:04:02-07:00", "author": { "name": "Alex Guichet" }, "content_html": "

Afterparty is a Hell-based narrative adventure by Night School Studio, known for the acclaimed mystery adventure game, Oxenfree. You play as Lola and Milo, two recently deceased friends who find themselves in Hell—mistakenly, or so they think. Soon after arrival, they learn of a loophole: outdrink Satan, and he’ll let you return to Earth.

\n

\"Celebrating

\n

The Abyss

\n

If you distill it down, the point of this game is bar-hopping: drift from bar to bar, order new drinks, and chat with different people as you take on the various puzzles and situations in the game.

\n

This variant of Hell isn’t all that bad of a place. It’s a darker and slightly more tortuous facsimile of Earth. It eschews what could have been a grim horror setting, and instead brings a casual levity to Hell. Satan really could be your friend—and not in a “satanist” way; “hail satan” is used sarcastically in this game.

\n

That said, you’re here after hours where everyone—humans and demons—are off the clock. The allusions to Hell while on the clock sound much, much worse.

\n

\"One

\n

Your Own, Personal Demon

\n

There’s a wide variety of characters that you encounter in your romp through Hell. You’re assigned a personal demon, Wormhorn, who is responsible for a lot of non sequitur interruptions in your story—she drops in at inopportune moments to offend you. There’s also a demon nicknamed Fela—short for, uh, Fellatio—that requisitions you to help investigate some odd happenings at one of the bars.

\n

One of the highlights is Sam, voiced by the inimitable Ashly Burch, who is your taxi driver throughout the lava rivers of Hell, ping-ponging you from place to place. She’s your friend, and also there for a lot of the exposition, giving you tips and background information for each new situation you’re soon to land yourself in.

\n

Naturally, Satan is the center of the party. Hell is his domain, after all, and you find yourself at his home several times throughout the game. It turns out the big guy isn’t having that good of a time—he’s a bit of nice guy, but can’t keep his right friends and family around him. So maybe you’re not showing up at the best of times, but you’re not going to back down from the opportunity to make your way back to Earth.

\n

\"The

\n

The Schoolyard Strangler

\n

The drinks—Hellcohol, harder stuff than on Earth—are pretty smart, and add a delightful punch of flavor to the game. Each different drink mixes up the game by unlocking new dialogue options tailored to the drink you’ve had.

\n

You take a sip of your drink to unlock the new dialogue associated with your drink. If you don’t take a sip, you limited to default options, or you can say nothing at all. Not every choice is wise, though; mentioning romance to Asmodeus—a club-hitting monarch going through a rough breakup—might earn you some ire.

\n

Even though there are some generic drinks like Bloody Stool give you a punch of confidence, some of the drinks shake up the dialogue. The drink The Grand Exhibitionist makes you talk like a vaudeville villain. Bluebeard’s Last Wife makes ye talk like a pirate—shiver me timbers! Oh, yeah, there’s even a drink that’s advertised as acid. I’ll leave you to ponder that one.

\n

\"Encountering

\n

After, Party

\n

Afterparty falls in my sweet spot of narrative games where you feel like you’re in control of the story. Night School committed to an actual branching narrative here; your choices take you down substantially different paths where you meet different characters and have different dialogue, even though you’re still going to wind up a drinking game with Satan at the end. There’s enough content for multiple playthroughs here.

\n

Also, for such a long game, the writing sure holds up. You don't get bored of the comedy. Milo and Lola are realistic, flawed characters that you can certainly relate to in some way or another. It’s a testament to the writing that the dialogue stays consistently funny and doesn’t get dreary or fall apart during the game.

\n

Afterparty is your perfect Halloween weekend game, and it’s available on PS4, Xbox One, and the Epic Games store for Mac and PC.


More Info


Afterparty – view on epicgames.com →

" }, { "id": "https://www.themissingquests.com/63/card-of-darkness", "url": "https://www.themissingquests.com/63/card-of-darkness", "title": "Card of Darkness", "image": "https://img.themissingquests.com/2019/10/cardofdarkness1.jpg", "date_published": "2019-10-22T23:34:26-07:00", "date_modified": "2019-10-25T02:26:46-07:00", "author": { "name": "Alex Guichet" }, "content_html": "

Card of Darkness is a card game by Zach Gage, Pendleton Ward (of Adventure Time fame), and Choice Provisions. Card of Darkness is like a game of solitaire mixed with distilled roguelike elements and a vibrant atmosphere. But don’t let this game’s sweet colorful aesthetic deceive you; this game is trying to wind you up. You’ll be seeing cards for days—they’ll even haunt your dreams.

\n

\"\"

\n

Pick up a card

\n

The game is relatively simple. Each game starts with a few cards face up. A card can be anything: a wide variety of monsters that will attack you, a chest that gives you gold, potions to heal yourself, various weapons to attack—you name it.

\n

Here’s the catch, when you’re attacking with most weapons, you need to match your weapon’s even/odd parity with the monster card. So, if you have a sword with a value of four and the enemy has six, you’ll take two damage and keep your sword. But if you have that same four value sword against an enemy with five, you’ll be hit with one damage, and your sword will break. So this game isn’t always about picking up the heftiest sword—you might lose it with the very next card you have to pick up.

\n

You progress through levels by picking up enough cards to reach the stairs or volcano at the top of the screen. If you pick up a card from a pile, you can’t leave that pile unfinished before advancing. You also need to keep careful watch of your health and try to forecast what will happen with the marked cards that you need to pick up before proceeding to another level.

\n

\"\"

\n

A flavorful adventure

\n

Considering that Pendleton Ward, creator of Adventure Time, is behind the art of Card of Darkness, it’s exactly what you can expect—colorful and silly, yet with a marked sense of adventure. Each region you visit presents a different flavor of game design and art, like new monsters and weapons with varying mechanics with increasing complexity.

\n

For example, Fearfoxes lose three value every time you pick up a monster, so you try to pick up others first. A Potion of Patience is a regular portion, but its value goes up by one each turn. Later, there are beefy fire swords, Burning Steel, which damage you by one each turn while equipped. Further still, you encounter Horrors; they’re monsters that do enough damage to leave you with one health. They’re pretty, well, horrible, until you realize that killing one horror can kill all the horrors on screen.

\n

\"\"

\n

Strategy and well-balanced randomness

\n

Card of Darkness is an RNG heavy game, and the randomness of the game is not your friend. That said, the randomness does bring balance and depth to this game. It softens the difficulty when you’re just starting, and also deemphasizes the need to min/max the game for advanced players. And in that sense, the game feels well-tuned. It usually feels like you can figure your way out of a tense scenario, but if you do fail, a restart of the level might be the run where you squeak through. I love how this feels—it gives you a euphoric feeling of “oh god, I just barely made it through with one health.”

\n

The fun of this game is the problem solving to get ahead of the randomness. How do you tailor your Cards of Darkness for each level? It’s chasing the thrill of steamrolling a level because you found a buildout of Cards that’s a bit busted. (If you’re not changing your Cards of Darkness on most levels, you may be getting stuck for longer than you need—especially boss levels.)

\n

Sure, the game is hard, but it’s not unfair. You might get the occasional level with brutal RNG where you give up immediately, but the game wants you to finish it. There’s no penalty for failure—if you have poor luck, it’s as fleeting as bad a hand of poker. And You’re coming out ahead every time—you’re bound to pick up some coins from each level, enable you to get more tokens or slots for Cards of Darkness that give you an extra advantage when you may be quite stuck.

\n

\"\"

\n

Fall in the deep deep end

\n

Card of Darkness is probably the best idle game on Apple Arcade so far. Like many other Zach Gage games, it’s a great game to pick up in idle moments, like waiting in line at a grocery store or trying to multitask while listening to a podcast.

\n

I’ve played for several hours so far, and while I’d like to say I’ve finished the game, it looks like I still have a bit more to go—I’m presently battling my way though The Baxlan Delves as I write this (which is level six of eight). Based on my experience, I can say it’s a game just for “hardcore gamers”; it’s relatively accessible for anyone to pick up—with persistence, you’ll make it to the end of the game.

\n

Card of Darkness is available for iOS and tvOS with an Apple Arcade subscription.


More Info


Card of Darkness – view on the App Store →

" }, { "id": "https://www.themissingquests.com/62/moment-to-midnight", "url": "https://www.themissingquests.com/62/moment-to-midnight", "title": "Moment to Midnight", "image": "https://img.themissingquests.com/2019/10/momenttomidnight1.jpg", "date_published": "2019-10-21T21:18:07-07:00", "date_modified": "2019-10-21T22:32:26-07:00", "author": { "name": "Alex Guichet" }, "content_html": "

Moment to Midnight is a pixel art interactive fiction game by taxiderby, daisyowl, and cherof, created for Ludum Dare 45.

\n

You start as a lost stranger, woken from the dark by a strange lizard. Stuck without any controls, the lizard gifts you abilities to let you listen and advance. Moving along, you start your journey of meeting and interacting with villagers of this sleepy little city.

\n

\"The

\n

A sudden prophecy

\n

It turns out that all the clocks in this town have stopped just before midnight, and it’s up to you to find out why. The city, stuck in a permanent nighttime, doesn’t progress. Timekeeping devices refuse to work.

\n

Your goal, as Lyst, is to investigate the prophesy—that a beast can restart time—and seek a resolution by climbing up the town’s clock tower.

\n

Along your journey, you meet a sweet mix of townspeople that each helps you with your goal—like granting new abilities. There’s a lass here who pre-purchased a years' worth of vases—who’d do such a thing? An old man needs you to help him find his glasses. You alarm a sleepy sentry who asks, “What’s the danger? When’s the danger?”

\n

\"The

\n

Go climb the tower

\n

Because it’s a game jam game, it isn’t a particularly deep game, but that’s okay—it manages to do quite a lot in its short duration. The atmosphere, music, and the game’s unique take on ability progression certainly make it worth the short play.

\n

It might be worth it for you to talk to everyone a few times. If you backtrack through the sleepy town, you might find that some people’s dialogue has changed.

\n

Moment to Midnight is a delightful little narrative game with good music and good vibes and is a pleasant way to spend 15 minutes of your time. It’s available for Windows and macOS on itch.io.


More Info


Moment to Midnight – free on itch.io →

" }, { "id": "https://www.themissingquests.com/61/sayonara-wild-hearts", "url": "https://www.themissingquests.com/61/sayonara-wild-hearts", "title": "Sayonara Wild Hearts", "image": "https://img.themissingquests.com/2019/10/sayonarawildhearts1.jpg", "date_published": "2019-10-16T21:29:23-07:00", "date_modified": "2019-10-16T22:59:23-07:00", "author": { "name": "Alex Guichet" }, "content_html": "

Sayonara Wild Hearts is a pop album video game developed by Simogo, known for their previous titles Year Walk and Device 6. Featuring a half synth-pop, half EDM soundtrack from Daniel Olsen and Jonathan Eng, Sayonara Wild Hearts is like no rhythm game you’ve ever played. It’s probably fairer to say that this is a playable animated music video.

\n

\"A

\n

Let’s Pop

\n

The musical immersion of this game is outstanding. Each track is a different level of the game, revealing a bit more of the story of our heroine, a masked biker we know as The Fool. There’s driving and flying bits of the game, where you steer to pick up hearts and collect points. There are also quick time events—like striking at enemies with a sword. There’s also teases of shooting and bullet hell mechanics in some levels.

\n

Tapping to and playing along with beat feels good—especially when it gets tricky, like tapping offbeat to emphasize bits of the melody. It’s the best version of tapping your foot to the beat, except you get a score for it.

\n

The album itself is incredibly catchy and stands alone as an excellent album outside of the game. It’s got a dreamy, atmospheric vibe to it that calms you down despite the high-BPM of some tracks. It became the soundtrack I put on while preparing dinner last night, and I’m listening to it while writing this.

\n

\"A

\n

Hearts & Swords

\n

This game is astonishingly clever, and each level brings something new to the table. My jaw dropped more than once, completely inverting my expectations for what this game is.

\n

Parallel Universes is a level where you play against the twin-like allies, Stereo Lovers. As the Stereo Lovers snap and clap along to the beat, you’re flipped between two parallel game universes, each one with bits to pick up and obstacles to avoid. The goal is to foresee what’s coming up in your path in both worlds and avoid it. I’ll be honest, I struggled a bit in one segment this track, but there’s no severe penalty for actual failure: the game never sets you back far, and will let you skip a small chunk if a segment is too hard. I stuck through it, and I am glad I did. (And, if you can’t swipe fast enough, turn up the sensitivity in settings.)

\n

You’re chasing scores in each level, with different benchmarks for bronze, silver, and gold. You’re likely not going to get gold in many levels on your first playthrough, and that’s okay. I doubt anyone playing will feel that the music or visuals are repetitive. After you complete the game for the first time, there’s even an Album Arcade game mode that unlocks—you play the entire game/album front to back, and earn a score from that. (Probably a perfect game mode for a long flight.)

\n

\"The

\n

The World We Knew

\n

The aesthetic is something else too. It’s punchy and purple in the best way. It leans on bright and minimal thin lines for key artwork, which provides a sharp contrast from the quiet, dark blues and purples of the backgrounds. If you’ve read my previous posts, I might have mentioned “vibrancy” of color a time or two on this website, but holy hell, this game is in your face with its über-colorful aesthetic, and boy, it’s on point at all times.

\n

The game uses tarot lore to tell parts of the story. The heroine is the fool, which is one of the cards in a tarot deck. At times, you’re riding along a level on a tarot card. The tarot base becomes the driving backbone of this dreamy spiritual and really glam vibe of the game.

\n

Oh yeah, Queen Latifah is the narrator for the game too. (Who would have thought?) I didn’t realize it was her voice until I hit the credits the first time, but it’s excellent casting. Her voice brings such poise and confidence to the narration and is the right choice to deliver the narrative through-line of the story.

\n

\"Riding

\n

Wild Hearts Never Die

\n

Sayonara Wild Hearts is published by Annapurna Interactive, which seems to be winning my heart “best publisher” feelings, for the sheer number of indie titles that I love they’ve published in any capacity this year. (Telling Lies, Journey, and Donut County come to mind.)

\n

Sayonara Wild Hearts is available for free with an Apple Arcade subscription. It’s also available for PS4 and Nintendo Switch for $12.99. Each stage only takes a few minutes so that you can play in discrete chunks, but a typical front-to-back playthrough will take just over an hour of your time.

\n

This game is so chill, and I probably would have had this post up a few hours earlier if I didn’t get completely immersed playing it again while taking notes for this post. Let Sayonara Wild Hearts steal your time (and heart) too.


More Info


Sayonara Wild Hearts – view on the App Store →
Sayonara Wild Hearts – $12.99 on humble.com →

" }, { "id": "https://www.themissingquests.com/60/mini-motorways", "url": "https://www.themissingquests.com/60/mini-motorways", "title": "Mini Motorways", "image": "https://img.themissingquests.com/2019/10/minimotorways1.jpg", "date_published": "2019-10-15T23:44:52-07:00", "date_modified": "2019-10-16T07:55:53-07:00", "author": { "name": "Alex Guichet" }, "content_html": "

Do you know those moments when you’re sitting in deep stop-and-go traffic that goes on for miles? The traffic that makes you lazily slouch down in your seat and turn up the volume to your podcast, to distract you from the boredom? Perhaps you wonder to yourself, who designed these roads? Well, now it can be you.

\n

Mini Motorways is a city simulation game by Dinosaur Polo Club. Your task is to build a road network that can support a growing, sprawling city. It’s a follow up to Dinosaur Polo Club’s earlier game, Mini Metro.

\n

\"A

\n

Los Angeles

\n

I first take on the task of planning roads for Los Angeles, a city notorious for dense and never-ending traffic. Something makes me think I can do better. (It’s a game, right? How hard can it be?)

\n

Specifically, Los Angeles is vast and open, with only the Los Angeles River (and later, the San Gabriel River) to get in the way of your planning. As the game starts and time passes, colored houses and factories pop up. The houses provide a few cars of traffic, and the cars leave home to a store or factory of the same color, and then turn around and return home.

\n

Since LA is my first experience with the game, I’m soon caught out by learning the systems yet. I don’t yet know how to foresee the problems here, so my road development is just blindly connecting new houses and buildings to my road network without much rhyme or reason. I don’t know how to anticipate where buildings will grow, and this gets me caught in awkward corners. My first (and expected) loss comes because I never expected how to grow across the Los Angeles River. Next time, I’ll build across the river in advance of things popping up there, and start to preestablish a grid.

\n

\"An

\n

Tokyo

\n

My next contract is in a new city: Tokyo. This city presents a slightly different challenge from Los Angeles. The Sumida River (隅田川) is my first foe—It doesn’t take too long for the game to start throwing stores and houses on the other side of it.

\n

I build on what I’ve learned from LA and decide to establish a grid layout. If you’re thinking about a grid, when a new building appears, try to extend the roads well past the building with your extra road tiles long enough so intersections can naturally form. Also, since you can connect houses to a path from any of their sides, flipping houses seems to be a more critical strategy, so I can start reducing their pressure along main roads.

\n

\"A

\n

Beijing

\n

Beijing is the next map I sunk my teeth into, and honestly, it took me a few attempts to get right. There are a small river and lake here, and both manage to get in the way. I feel like Beijing is more big-building dense than the other cities I’ve played too.

\n

I’ve refined my grid strategy a bit here, and also picked up a few other strategies. For example, to reduce the number of intersections, I’ve started to focus on tertiary roads that connect to major arterial grid roads—these tertiary roads focus more on dead-end home traffic, and the grids hold more store/factory traffic.

\n

I’ve also picked up the habit of pausing when a new factory drops. I’ve quite often found that the large buildings drop in awkward spots, and as I’m going to paint down new roads, a house will pop into my planned path unexpectedly.

\n

\"A

\n

Russian to download it

\n

Overall, Mini Motorways is a more zen-like experience than Mini Metro. Once you start to pick up skills that help you better understand the game and its traffic flow—like pre-planning a grid, tertiary roads, etc.—it feels like you have much better control over the game. When I fail, it’s mostly due to shortcomings in anticipating traffic, not from a bout of randomness—like fifteen people decided to stack up at a metro station that I suddenly have to account for (like in the previous game). You also usually have a bit of time to recover from these misses, or can plonk down a motorway as an exhaust path.

\n

Mini Motorways is available now for Apple Arcade. Each game can last from just a few minutes to a max of about 20 minutes (all depending on how well you do), but you can undoubtedly get hours of playtime out of this game.


More Info


Mini Motorways – view on the App Store →

" }, { "id": "https://www.themissingquests.com/59/animal-inspector", "url": "https://www.themissingquests.com/59/animal-inspector", "title": "Animal Inspector", "image": "https://img.themissingquests.com/2019/10/animalinspector1.jpg", "date_published": "2019-10-13T20:27:52-07:00", "date_modified": "2019-10-16T00:04:28-07:00", "author": { "name": "Alex Guichet" }, "content_html": "

Welcome to another worldwide crisis: too many animals. Shocking, I know.

\n

In Tom Astle’s Animal Inspector, you’ve been hired to help solve this crisis by sifting through scores of animals to decide which animals survive another day. That’s not it, though. You’ve got skin in the game too: you have an adorable dog that you want to save from the culling.

\n

\"From

\n

We Rate Dogs, the game?

\n

Day by day, the game foists a new batch of animals upon you to approve or reject.

\n

In the WeRateDogs era of the internet, a game like this is strangely cute—you just want to tell every lazy dog that, yes, they are the most adorable (13/10). But, don’t be distracted by your impulse to or the game’s cute and cushy MS Paint Aesthetic. It’s all a distraction from the fact that some animals won’t pass muster.

\n

Each day (and a new stack of animals) throws something different at you to switch it up and inject unique flavor. There’s the day where Martha—a bonafide cat lady—begs for you not to reject any cats, and the game dumps on you a stack of five cats. Or the day a documentary crew arrives, and you have to be on your best behavior for them—yes, you can imagine exactly how that goes.

\n

You also have to inject your own opinion into your evaluations. Not only is there a binary approve/reject, but you need to give a reason. And the game tracks your reasons, and scolds you if you’re not good enough. You can’t swear, you can’t be repetitive, you can’t stamp multiple times—you know, the rules and procedure any proper bureaucrat should know.

\n

\"Martha

\n

Tinderlike games

\n

This game is a good jumping-off point for a developing genre of games that I find to be pretty compelling: Tinderlike games.

\n

These tinderlike games feature repetitive player-initiated approval/rejection as a core mechanic. It could be several binary factors: yes/no, true/false, approve/reject, or a swipe right/left. There’s something about this type of mechanic—game or not—that answers to a primal thing going on in our brains. When Animal Inspector was first out, it was one of just a few of these “tinderlike” games, but now the genre is a bit more established.

\n

\"A

\n

Approve them all

\n

Well, wait, no, you can’t actually approve them all, sorry. (That’s also the point.) But, the game takes a quick thirty minutes, and you’ll hit an even faster failure route if you do try to approve them all.

\n

Animal Inspector is a chill game that exists in a world of established Indies, with games like Sort the Court and Papers, Please as distant related cousins. It also features a soundtrack by Ben Esposito, notable now for Donut County.

\n

You can approve and reject different pets in Animal Inspector for free on itch.io, for Mac and Windows.


More Info


Animal Inspector – free on itch.io →

" }, { "id": "https://www.themissingquests.com/58/john-wick-hex", "url": "https://www.themissingquests.com/58/john-wick-hex", "title": "John Wick Hex", "image": "https://img.themissingquests.com/2019/10/johnwickhex1.jpg", "date_published": "2019-10-12T18:15:49-07:00", "date_modified": "2019-10-12T18:38:20-07:00", "author": { "name": "Alex Guichet" }, "content_html": "

John Wick Hex is an action strategy game developed by Bithell Games. Billed as a prequel to the John Wick film series, it's a timeline-based action game that puts you deep inside the tactical mind of John Wick.

\n

Who is the Baba Yaga?

\n

So, John Wick is the \"Baba Yaga,\" a title loosely inspired by a Slavic term for an old chaotic witch. But here, it more or less means that \"even the Boogeyman would be scared of him.\" And boy, there sure are Boogeymen here. Hex, an antagonist, developed for the game, kidnaps Winston and Charon. Each new map area is a \"scene\" set up for you to face a powerful enemy from John Wick's past, before the first movie.

\n

\"A

\n

This game is heavily stylized in a vibrant and flashy cyberpunk style. The UI is bright, and enemies die in sprays of neon pink blood.

\n

True to the name, Hexes are everything in John Wick Hex. You move about the on a hexagonal grid. Because the levels are designed on a hex grid, but our everyday world on hexes, you don't exactly flow through spaces cleanly. When you first encounter John Wick ping-ponging and serpentining through a hallway, initially it's jarring but later becomes a bit endearing.

\n

Even the final battle against Hex, a mob boss who prefers to stay out of sight, takes place in a Hex shaped room.

\n

\"A

\n

Watch the timeline

\n

This game is essentially chess, but with guns and melee attacks instead of knights and rooks. You're always thinking about your decisions, and how it'll affect your timing for other incoming attacks from enemies. Mechanically, it's a bit of a cross-breed of the precise action dynamics of Superhot coupled with the tactical calculations of XCOM.

\n

Playing as John Wick, you've got a limited set of actions—like \"shoot\" and \"push\"—that dictate how you interact with the world around you. You're free to move about, but every action—including movement—takes time. The timeline auto pauses when your queued action completes, or when there's a new interruption.

\n

When you're scrapping it out against enemies, some actions are faster than others. A takedown is usually pretty useful, but it's a bit slow and needs melee proximity. A push against one enemy might get you out of the range of gunfire from a 2nd attacker. Parrying is an effective rapid response to a close enemy that's attacking, which generally enables you to edge in before their attack fires. You know the drill. On deck is the need to anticipate the moves of the people in the world—and sometimes it's better to wait.

\n

\"A

\n

It's a bit janky

\n

Some parts of the game feel a bit off, though. In particular, the replay mode—which is available after you complete a level—stands out as having the most significant room for polish. Animations feel stilted and stuttery; there doesn't seem to be blended movements at play here. The dynamic camera also picks shots that are relatively uncinematic, occluding John or the enemy you're attacking from view, like behind an object or wall. It doesn't feel like a perfectly orchestrated cinematic action experience like the movies portray, but if you can look past that it's still an effective reflection of how you conquered a level.

\n

Also at times, John Wick Hex has some tight difficulty pinch points which can make it a bit of a brutal game, much like XCOM, so you should get used to dying. I got extremely stuck in the Osborn level of Elysium and was frustrated because I felt like I was close but not quite to getting Osborne. I'd just get overwhelmed by a mire of enemies, even if I swept the place before entering Osborn's room. Part of me wants a lower difficulty I could flip on for that level, so I could advance forward and then flip it back to normal. It was worth it to stick with it, though—the level after Osborn introduced new enemies and weapons in the world that refreshed the tactical feel of the game after that tired boss fight.

\n

\"A

\n

Give it a shot

\n

This game is a total departure from some of Bithell's past narrative-heavy games I've played, like Thomas Was Alone and Subsurface Circular. Even though it takes place in a story filled universe, the narrative takes the side seat to the tactics here.

\n

If you're a John Wick series die-hard looking for the next dose of John Wick canon, there's no excuse to not pick up this game. The game is tightly associated with Lionsgate, featuring voice acting from the actual actors of Winston (Ian McShane) and Charon (Lance Reddick). If you're just looking for a good indie tactics game, but the cost ($19.99 at the time of publishing) is too much to chew, wait and give this game a shot when it's on sale.

\n

John Wick Hex is available on the Epic Games store for Windows and macOS. The game's publisher provided a review copy of this game.


More Info


John Wick Hex – view on epicgames.com →

" }, { "id": "https://www.themissingquests.com/57/a-tavern-for-tea", "url": "https://www.themissingquests.com/57/a-tavern-for-tea", "title": "A Tavern for Tea", "image": "https://img.themissingquests.com/2019/10/tavern1.jpg", "date_published": "2019-10-09T16:37:14-07:00", "date_modified": "2019-10-09T23:48:14-07:00", "author": { "name": "Alex Guichet" }, "content_html": "

A Tavern For Tea is an interactive fiction game by npckc. As the owner of a tavern, you serve tea and chat with patrons in a comfortable and unassuming environment. Oh, this game has a side-dish of timeline manipulation, too.

\n

Inside these walls, you're just my customer.

\n

In this tea tavern, you tend bar and make just the right tea for whatever customer enters. Just like the cyberpunk bartending game VA-11 HALL-A, you drive the story by actually choosing and making the kind of tea your patrons want.

\n

Your tavern is located \"at the edge of the domain,\" a boundary between the world of humans and demons. Your location brings in two familiar wandering travelers, Horns and the Adventurer, from npckc's previous game, A Hero and a Garden. You explore the back story of these two patrons that have a bit of an awkward past. Perhaps, you can resolve their tension and become their matchmaker?

\n

\"Shared

\n

And, that's where the creativity of this game comes in—the looping narrative, with timeline manipulation. As you chat with these two, you'll eventually hit a dead-end in the story that forces you to restart. In each loop, you gain a new tidbit of information that you can use to manipulate the timeline to seek the best ending.

\n
\n

Gameplay Tip:

\n

Because this game loops down and evolves over a single path, make good use of the skip all button. This button jumps you past dialogue you've already seen to either the next time you can make tea or to bits of the story you haven't seen yet.

\n
\n

Even if you haven't played npckc's A Hero and a Garden, A Tavern for Tea has a short playtime and unique looping narrative that is worth checking out. A Tavern for Tea is available on itch.io for Windows, macOS, and Linux.


More Info


A TAVERN FOR TEA – $2.99 on itch.io →

" }, { "id": "https://www.themissingquests.com/56/the-legend-of-zelda-link-s-awakening", "url": "https://www.themissingquests.com/56/the-legend-of-zelda-link-s-awakening", "title": "The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening", "image": "https://img.themissingquests.com/2019/10/linksawakening1.jpg", "date_published": "2019-10-01T06:21:23-07:00", "date_modified": "2019-10-16T07:57:04-07:00", "author": { "name": "Alex Guichet" }, "content_html": "

Okay, okay, I know. This isn’t an indie title at all. But bear with me, I’m trying something new.

\n

The Legend of Zelda: Links Awakening for Nintendo Switch is a remake of a classic 90’s era Gameboy title. The remake clings onto the classic gameplay of the original but adopts a retro-modern 2.5D tilt-shift aesthetic.

\n

There’s really a lot to say about how good this game is. There have been ample positive reviews, in both the 90s and 2019. But, that’s to be expected—Nintendo wouldn’t have remade this game for the Switch in 2019 if it wasn’t a good game to start with.

\n

\"A

\n

Mechanical Language and Accessibility

\n

Link’s Awakening is an exciting modern case study for how game design has changed over time, particularly in terms of game mechanics and accessibility. Yeah, I know I overuse the word “mechanics” on this site—and some jokes have been made at my expense for it—but this post is a deep dive on mechanics.

\n

Even with the ground-up redesign and new style, the actual gameplay of Link’s Awakening is relentlessly classic. In the 26 years since this game was first released, game design has vastly evolved. For example, there’s more understanding around the quality of life and player experience, and how exactly that applies to games these days. Every designer knows fetch quests are busywork, and tasks that require blind trial and error are recipes for player frustration—but, that knowledge only comes with time.

\n

\"Link

\n

Minimal player hinting

\n

For what it’s worth, Link’s Awakening has an immaculate, linear story, and it’s hard to get lost in the narrative. The plot is primarily driven by the owl character. And if you do get lost, you have the telephone booths where you can speak with Old Man Ulrira.

\n

But the primary challenge is the how—the game isn’t shy about telling you your goal at all, but occasionally extremely teasy about showing you how to get there. In one Old Man Ulrira call I got hung up on (about the Yarna Desert), he gives you a tip and ends the call, saying “Hmmm... How much more obvious do I have to be,”—but figuring out how to get to the desert was one of the hardest tasks in the game for me. The game teasingly expects you to try everything until you eventually figure it out.

\n

In today’s games, there’s usually hints to give you a sense that you’re on the right track. Like brighter lighting when you’re on the right path, or scratches and wear pattern textures around frequently used doors. But, in Link’s Awakening, I found myself trekking across the map several times, fully knowing my ultimate destination but not the slightest clue of how to get there.

\n

And, in that sort of way, the game has a relentless difficulty ramp. It’s far too easy at times, which leads to Polygon’s “perfect Zelda for younger fans” review, but also quite tricky when you’re spinning your wheels searching for more solutions.

\n

Inscrutable Boss Difficulty

\n

The dungeon bosses are also a quality example of how player accessibility has changed. While most bosses in the game are rather quite tame, a few have a Dark Souls’y level of difficulty, with just one way to elicit their weakness and deal damage to them.

\n

I’m usually okay with battles give me a specific window of time to get in a hit, or that force me to switch to an appropriate weapon. It’s rewarding to figure things like that out. However, this game offers no hinting to indicate to you that you’re close to figuring them out.

\n

The game doesn’t discriminate between failure here. If your strategy, weapon, or timing is wrong, you’ll get precisely the same block animation in every case. There are no alternate animations to give you an idea that you’re making any progress—even something like a subtly different deflection, or additional shield noise. There’s also nothing like “anticipation” animations in this game—sorts of subliminal hint that indicate certain times are good to get in an attack.

\n

This made me write off too many strategies that were initially correct because I wasn’t getting the sort of reactive feedback I expected—something to hint that I was close but subtly wrong. This only made my returns to these initially correct strategies frustrating and unsatisfying—I knew I was right, but my execution was just slightly wrong.

\n

Oh, and the difficulty curve varies wildly on you: sometimes the boss in the very next dungeon can be a total breeze, like something wide open that can be taken down with three or four arrows with and a complete disregard for precise timing.

\n

\"Link

\n

It’s too easy to spoil yourself

\n

This game was built in an era of Nintendo Power magazine subscriptions, Prima strategy guides, and the Nintendo tips hotline sticker on the back of your GameBoy. Now that the internet has superseded these, the nature of information accessibility has changed.

\n

Whenever I hit a brick wall as a kid, I’d usually scour a strategy guide to get an idea of what to do next. And it wasn’t cheating to use these—things like the Prima Strategy guides and Nintendo Power often offered critical worldbuilding and flavor while guiding you on your journey through the game.

\n

Today’s answer, however, is searching the internet. In this world of hashtagcontent and profit engineering, a walkthrough is no longer flipping through a nicely editorialized worldbuilding book for subtle hints on what to do before giving you the right answer. Instead, anything you get is a dry, ordered list that cooly gives you your next immediate action. (This also puts you at risk of spoiling yourself to the next ten or so things you have to do if you scroll too far down the page).

\n

\"Link

\n

It’s still a good game

\n

The collective knowledge of how to build games has evolved for the better. This means that more carefully considered gaming experiences do exist these days. (Even though there’s still repressed undercurrents of discussion about the accessibility of difficulty in games.)

\n

A dive into Link’s Awakening shows that games designed these days are far better in handling their difficulty ramp, and giving players enough of a framework of what to do when they’re blocked. That means, we can have games like the Dark Souls series, which are far more difficult than a game like this, because we’ve learned how to teach players how to observe, struggle, and grow through things, like gameplay hinting.

\n

That being said, I massively enjoyed playing this game, and I’m super glad this remake exists. It’s a good dive into nostalgic gaming, and it was interesting examining this game through a bit of a modern lens.

\n

Ocarina of Time remake next, Nintendo?


More Info


The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening – $59 Digital or Physical →

" }, { "id": "https://www.themissingquests.com/52/marble-marcher", "url": "https://www.themissingquests.com/52/marble-marcher", "title": "Marble Marcher", "image": "https://img.themissingquests.com/2019/08/marblemarcher.jpg", "date_published": "2019-08-30T16:57:52-07:00", "date_modified": "2019-08-30T17:24:58-07:00", "author": { "name": "Alex Guichet" }, "content_html": "

Marble Marcher is a marble racing game by CodeParade. It plays a bit like a futuristic Super Monkey Ball tech-demo: race as a marble along an evolving procedurally-generated map to reach the finish flag.

\n

The game has 24 maps available, each throwing you into different environment or challenge. Some levels evolve underneath as you make your way to the flag, meaning that you can never quite predict the correct path. You even face the risk of being crushed if the fractal closes in on you. Others offer a more technical challenge—fast and precise movement is required to get to the end of Beware of Bumps, or else you'll fall right off the fractal. There are even novelty ones: the object of Hole in One is to drop through a hole in the center of a fractal, to reach the flag on the other end.

\n

\"Staring

\n

This game is worth checking out purely because it's impressive from a technical standpoint. It uses a unique fractal physics engine with procedurally generated maps and ray-marched graphics. Because of this, this game is computationally intensive—the game requires a dedicated GPU to run at 60fps at a reasonable resolution. I'm unqualified to comment on the math, so it's worth checking out a short video from the developer that dives a bit deeper:

\n\n

Sure, even though this game is mostly a tech demo, it's actually enjoyable. The variety of levels means it's easy to get about 30 minutes of enjoyment out of it, especially if you like Super Monkey Ball style games.


More Info


Marble Marcher – free on itch.io →

" }, { "id": "https://www.themissingquests.com/51/telling-lies", "url": "https://www.themissingquests.com/51/telling-lies", "title": "Telling Lies", "image": "https://img.themissingquests.com/2019/08/tellinglies2.jpg", "date_published": "2019-08-26T22:13:55-07:00", "date_modified": "2019-10-12T21:59:01-07:00", "author": { "name": "Alex Guichet" }, "content_html": "

Okay, kids, get out your pen and paper; you’re taking notes.

\n

Telling Lies is a voyeuristic narrative full motion video game by Sam Barlow. You scan a government-collated database of recorded conversations, looking deeply into the stories of, and relationships between characters.

\n

\"The

\n

Surveillance Software

\n

The game takes place in a “desktop simulator” that feels a bit like an Ubuntu Linux desktop environment. The meat of the game takes place by searching for clips in Retina, a pretty plausible piece of surveillence state government software. The videos you call up are, for the most part, one half of a two-way video call. Unhindered access to these personal videos is what makes the game ultimately feel voyeuristic. You know that you shouldn’t be watching this—these people didn't exactly consent to the government recordings. But, you just want to see how their stories unfold, and feel closer (or more distant) from some characters.

\n

The game’s main character, David, is played by Logan Marshall-Green, supported by three other characters played by Alexandra Shipp, Kerry Bishé and Angela Sarafyan. David is a vastly complicated character and plays at the center of the giant nest of lies and half-truths that make up this story. I most closely followed the relationship between David and Ava (Alexandra Shipp’s character), a climate change protester that David gets quite close with.

\n

The videos you find and watch feel, well, deeply personal. When you’re watching these actors in movies or on tv, they feel distant and non-impactful, no matter how compelling their delivery. Here, you almost feel them looking right at you, as they deliver their performances right into a camera for you to see. This delivery makes the videos feel truly raw—almost like they are government intercepted recordings of video chats—and can go on for minutes at a time.

\n

\"Ava

\n

The evolution of the story

\n

Sam Barlow, the game’s director, is a master of non-linear stories. His first indie title, Her Story, uses a similar video query interface. Where Her Story first experimented with the mechanic—by querying and reviewing small segmented snippets of a few police interviews—Telling Lies evolves it. You’re now watching full videos, hunting for keywords that not only help you progress your understanding of the intertwined plots but also finding the other half of the call you’re watching—seeing the other side to the story.

\n

Throughout the game, I filled up four pages of my notebook, covering anything from notes on characters, new keywords to search, to quick scribbles from piecing together sudden story revelations. You’ll want to take notes too, either using the in-game note tool, your own notes app, or classic, analog pen and paper. (I recommend the latter.)

\n

You see, the story isn’t laid out on paper. Nothing exists to say, “here’s the plot.” The only thing that guides you is the game’s initial query of LOVE. This gives you a few videos to skim for keywords and gather your initial impressions. Then it’s up to you to build your knowledge and understanding of the characters, their relationships, and their stories, and uncover their lies and half-truths. My experience won’t be like yours—we might have different conclusions about people’s motivations here, and that’s what makes this interesting.

\n
\n

Gameplay Tip:

\n

If you query a video and feel like you’ve missed something, you can always scrub backward to earlier points in the video to see more.

\n
\n

This game feels like a love story to FMV video games, an all but dead genre, and shows more games like this can exist today. Which is why I’m posting about it here—It’s not a true indie title, with a credits roll of hundreds, but it feels like an indie-scale game gone right. I want more things like this, and want to see more of this from small creators.

\n

Telling Lies is available on Steam for Windows and macOS.


More Info


Telling Lies – $19.99 on Steam →

" }, { "id": "https://www.themissingquests.com/50/dicey-dungeons", "url": "https://www.themissingquests.com/50/dicey-dungeons", "title": "Dicey Dungeons", "image": "https://img.themissingquests.com/2019/08/dicey1.jpg", "date_published": "2019-08-20T22:08:04-07:00", "date_modified": "2019-10-12T21:58:04-07:00", "author": { "name": "Alex Guichet" }, "content_html": "

Dicey Dungeons is the latest title from Terry Cavanagh and his team, best known for the difficult games Super Hexagon and VVVVVV. It’s a hybrid dice rolling and roguelike game that is jam-packed full of charm. 

\n

You take control of dice that each embody different specialized tropes. Like a thief who can use steal powers of your enemies, or an inventor who incessantly invents new cards. It’s set in what feels like an adorable and friendly juxtaposition of 70s era game-show and children’s board book. Well, the “friendly” is only surface level—the host, Lady Luck, has you trapped, forcing you to play a rigged game forever.

\n

\"Floor

\n

Your goal is to acquire cards, defeat enemies, and level up, as you battle your way to the final boss. In battles, you roll dice and drop them onto cards that have different effects, like your attacks, magical abilities, or other things to spice up the fight. You need to make judgment calls when deck building as you progress like, do you take a big fire attack or a small poison attack that stacks?

\n

This is a game of patient trial and error, really. In each playthrough, you go down different routes with your builds, to get to the final boss. When I fail, failure actually feels good. It’s not pure RNG that determines your failure; that would make it unsatisfying. However, when I fail, I usually can tell where I’ve gone wrong with a build. Perhaps it’s overspecializing in poison, not bringing anything along to deal with limited health, or not having a card to deal with extra dice on the table.

\n

I’ve previously said that I’m not much of a roguelike player, but Dicey Dungeons does a pretty good job of making me feel relaxed in the genre. Most critical decisions—visiting a shop, or picking up loot—are limited to simple “either/or” scenarios, like choosing between an ice or fire attack card. I’ve never encountered a giant screen of options that I need to choose just one thing from, which would cause frictive indecision that would ultimately make an anxious person like myself grow weary of the game.

\n

\"A

\n

This game has a lot of repeat playthrough potential too. There are six characters, with six episodes per character, and each one changes their base traits in what seems to be simple ways. The changes in each episode actually have a dramatic effect on how you approach that run with that dice friend.

\n

According to Steam, I’m now 10 hours into Dicey Dungeons, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time in it. Thus far I’ve had successful playthroughs of the first episode for all the dice friends, and have gotten through a few second episodes too. It’ll be a game I continually pick up and try to through casually. Dicey Dungeons is available on itch.io for Windows, macOS, and Linux, and includes a Steam key.


More Info


Dicey Dungeons – $14.99 on itch.io →

" } ], "_cms_meta": { "renderer": "Cobalt CMS — JSON Feed Renderer (19E)", "render_time": 0.04831 } }