Suburban Timewaster

I play video games and review them.

Archive for the tag “indie games”

The Lion’s Song Episode 2 Anthology (Steam)

At the turn of the 20th Century, a young aspiring painter named Franz struggles to make a name for himself.  He has the ability to see the different layers of people, yet has trouble bringing them to life in his paintings.  Can Franz discover that one element he needs to bring his paintings to life?

Once again, we have another story about the struggles of an artist.  Like Wilma, Franz is struggling to find himself and develop his work.  However, while Wilma had to isolate herself in a cabin to develop her next song, Franz needs to go out and explore the real world to be able to bring life to his paintings.  On his journey, he takes advice from an art critic, Grete, and has a session with real life historical psychiatrist Dr. Sigmund Freud. I don’t want to give anything away but, at the end, there’s one painting you help Franz with.  Whether he completes it is up to the choices you make.

Like the last episode, you get to see references to early 20th Century Germany and, as mentioned earlier, Sigmund Freud makes an appearance.  You get to see history in the making from the fashions to the farmer’s market.

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Slight spoiler alert, Franz not only knows Wilma but actually painted her.  If that’s not enough, you get to hear Wilma’s song on the gramophone.

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For those of you who explored everything the cabin had to offer, the Grete in this episode is also the same one who sent a love letter to Arthur.  You also see another hint for what will take place in Episode 3 when Franz has the opportunity to paint a Mathematician.

The game play is similar to the last episode, with you making dialogue choices for Franz.

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As I said in the second paragraph, you get to explore more in this episode than you did in the last one.  In the first episode, you had little to no control over where Wilma went next. She stayed in a cabin, listening to the sounds around her for musical inspiration and only left in dreams.  With Franz, you could explore the city and actually talk to people to learn how they view the world. You also get to see how Franz views people by the white silhouettes representing the layers of each person’s personality.  You even get chances to paint people and ask them questions. What you ask determines how the painting will turn out.

This game is insightful and intriguing.  I give it 9 out of 10, it somewhat made me think and managed to get a chuckle out of me at certain points.

The Lion’s Song Episode 1 Silence (Steam)

Wilma’s a promising young musician in early 1900s Austria who’s having trouble coming up with a new composition.  Her professor offers to let her stay in his cabin for the week, hoping Wilma can find inspiration. Will she be able to write her next piece in time for the weekend concert?

As you can see, this game is historical fiction and it has a retro design to drive that point home.  This chapter is about Wilma and her struggles with her own insecurities. This shows itself in symbolic dreams, her crush on her professor and her conversations with Leos over the telephone.  I’ll admit that Arthur is a bit of a selfish jerk, trying to force Wilma to come up with a composition so he doesn’t lose face. However, Wilma’s crush on him is realistic as he is an accomplished professor.  Leos is a man who calls a random number to test out his new telephone and ends up talking to Wilma about his problems while helping her in return.

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The dreams are also very symbolic of the pressure Arthur put Wilma under and her very own insecurities.  Wilma even finds herself weird for caring more about her musical career than she does about starting a family, something she briefly talks about with Leos. In other stories, I’d consider this sexist but, in this game, I actually thought it was a clever nod to the role of women in that time.  Another aspect of the time is how remarkable Leos thinks the telephone and its ability to communicate with people from different parts of the world are. People of our time have the same reaction when we try out virtual reality for the first time at Best Buy.

The game play is simple point and click with you also picking Wilma’s dialogue options.

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You choose what Wilma will say to people and you click various objects to help her find inspiration.  Many players might find this confusing, but keep in mind that Wilma is a musician. She can hear music from the drops of the rain to the swinging of the lantern.  Wilma also gets ideas from reading books and letters that help her decide how to write her composition. Not only is it your job to click on the various items. You also have to find them in the right order.  Whether the audience thinks Wilma’s song is a masterpiece or run of the mill classical depends on you.

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This game is insightful and intriguing.  I give it 8 out of 10, a compelling psychological study on how musicians create.

Another Lost Phone: Laura’s Story (Steam)

After deleting Sam’s phone, you find another one that belongs to a girl named Laura.  Can you discover who is she and help her?

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While the premise is the same as the last game, the plot couldn’t be more different.  I should tell you that I’m about to give major spoilers to the plot, so proceed with caution.  Unlike Sam, Laura is an adult and doesn’t struggle with who she is.  However, Laura is not without problems and hers involve her boyfriend, Ben.  I’m just going to tell you that Laura’s in an abusive relationship.  Ben has her send her GPS coordinates to him regularly.  He goes through her phone on a daily basis.  He even deleted her birth control reminders off her phone so she’s forget to take her pill.  This is just the tip of the iceberg.  His worst offense is sending a sexy video Laura made for her ex-boyfriend to her co-workers and putting the blame on her ex-boyfriend.  This also leaves Laura open to sexual harassment from her co-workers, none of them believing that she didn’t send this video.  Unfortunately, there’s truth in fiction with this situation.  During the High School Musical craze, the lead actress, Vanessa Anne Hudgens, faced slut shaming due to someone posting naked pictures of her on the internet.  No one considered that she might have taken the photos for her boyfriend and someone posted them without permission, making her the violated party.  As in the case of many people in abusive relationships, Laura’s too blinded by love to see what’s going on.  Then finds herself craving the moments when Ben’s nice to her, insisting that he can change.  However, the game does have unfortunate implications.  This time, I’m not just talking about the game play.  When Laura attends a seminar for people in abusive relationships, she mentions that everyone at the meeting is a woman.  Even now, people fail to see that men can also be the victim in an abusive relationship.

As I said earlier, the game play comes with unfortunate implications.  Let me put it this way, it’s another story about respecting someone’s rights as a human being, while violating their rights as a human being.  You can see the contradiction.  Only, this time, you don’t send messages or post pictures pretending to be Laura.  I’ll admit that the game play is intriguing with you having to search through her phone and use deductive reasoning to figure out her passwords.  However, you can easily change the plot of how you got the phone to make it less invasive.  You could have the story be about Laura reporting Ben to the police for domestic abuse and handing her phone over to a cop to present as evidence.  It would erase the issue of violating someone’s privacy and it’s believable.

This game is fun but uncomfortable.  I give it 7 out of 10; a great game but needs to be better thought out.

A Normal Lost Phone (Gamehouse)

You’ve found a phone that once belonged to a teenage boy named Sam.  What kind of person was he and how did he lose his phone?  Go through his phone to find out.

In real life, if you find someone’s phone on the ground, don’t go through it.  Even if you did, you wouldn’t be able to crack the password.  Anyway, you might read the summary and think this must be a boring game.  First, I should say that you couldn’t be more wrong.  Second, I should also say that I found this game on Gamehouse and it’s a little more controversial than what they usually publish.  Spoiler alert, Sam is a bisexual transgender who lives in a conservative town.  She has issues with who she is due to close-minded people surrounding her, including her own parents.  The story is about the relationships Sam has with her friends while trying to discover who she is.  It’s similar to Gone Home about a teenage girl’s struggles with her homosexuality.  Considering that the closest Gamehouse Original Stories has to an LGBT character is Francois, who has yet to come out of the plot closet, this is quite a shock.  They also deal in stories that are more family friendly.  I’m not saying that the LGBT shouldn’t have representation in children’s entertainment, quite the opposite.  It’s just that the game also deals with misogyny when they not so subtly hint to a rape attempt.  The guy blames the girl for leading him on and then shunning him.  What actually happened was that the girl wore a provocative dress, her boyfriend got a little drunk and he forced her to press against him when they danced.  She told him no and he got mad.  To make a bad situation worse, when she went home to her father and said that a stranger molested her, he told her that, the way she’s dressed, she asked for it.  I remember in Elementary School that they had one motivational poster about how you are responsible for you.  Ironically, society itself often contradicts this message.  This is similar to how bullies say that, if their victims didn’t want people to beat them up, they shouldn’t act different from everyone else.  It’s something that Frasier and The Big Bang Theory agree with.  In the former, Martin tells Frasier and Niles about when they were children and into the British television series The Avengers to the point of wearing bowler hats.  Then says that it’s something they shouldn’t have done because they made themselves a target.  In the latter, Penny once claimed that she felt guilty for picking on the geeks in high school and then claims that, if one of the kids didn’t want to get beat up, they shouldn’t have shown up to school wearing a bow tie.  While rape and getting beat up might not be on the same level, the point still stands.  Frasier and Niles should be able to wear bowler hats if they want to.  A boy should be able to go to high school wearing a bow tie without getting beat up.  If a girl wants to wear a provocative dress because she looks good in it, she should be able to without having to worry about rape or molestation.  This serves to point out how screwed up Sam’s town is and how liberal she is in comparison by telling the girl that it’s not her fault.  That’s not the only discrimination you can find in this game.  For instance, someone sets fire to an LGBT center and people around Sam, even his own parents, say that it’s a good thing.  I’m not sure if I mentioned this in a former review, but I have Aspergers, which is a low-level form of Autism.  I was lucky enough to have an understanding mother, but stories such as Silent Voice taught me about the discrimination people like me face.  One thing I learned is that parents do murder their autistic children and many people feel sympathy for the parents.  The news reporters even treat it as a mercy death rather than talk about how the children could grow up to accomplish so many things.  Therefore, I can somewhat relate to what Sam’s going through in my own struggles to accept my Aspergers.  However, as someone pointed out in his or her own review, the gameplay does undermine the message.

As I said in the first paragraph, you find Sam’s phone and violate her privacy.  It goes much further than that as you scan her text messages and emails to discover her passwords.

You even send emails and pictures to other people pretending to be her.  While the detective work makes for intriguing game play, you not only violate Sam’s privacy, but also her rights.  I can only think of three people who would do something like this, House, Sherlock and Dean Winchester.  All of them would do this to solve a case, though the former two might also do this because they’re a**holes.  Apparently, the designer of the game didn’t think that part through.  You could’ve easily had this be about a detective solving a murder investigation, or an amnesiac Sam going through his phone to discover who he is.  Instead, the only clue I have about what kind of person you play is that they’re a d*ck without any regard for personal space.  Just the kind of person I would hate to run into.  At least, in Gone Home, you play the role of a young woman coming back from college to an empty home trying to figure out where everyone went.  Even she refused to dig too deep by refusing to read her sister’s diary about her first sexual encounter.

This game is addictive and intriguing.  I give it 8 out of 10; the game play undermines the story’s message.

Aveyond: The Darkthrop Prophecy (Bigfishgames.com)


When Mel discovered her magic powers, she hid in the village of Harakauna. Unfortunately, the darklings discover her whereabouts and try to bring her to Underfall. At the same time, a representative of Veldarah Academy wants to recruit her in order to help her train her magic. Will Mel choose the path of light or the path of darkness?

For those of you who haven’t played the game, be warned that there are a few spoilers in this review. I will hand one thing to the Aveyond staff. Instead of giving Mel powers and forgetting about it, like they did with Fox on Gargoyles, they actually make it the plot point. Unfortunately, when they get to the schooling part, they do the same thing they’ve always done. They rush right through it in order to get to the plot rather than combining both story elements. There’s also a scene where trouble happens at Shadwood Academy.

Unfortunately, no one believes Mel when she says that it’s because of her. Mel thinks that Edward would believe her, which is an odd conclusion to come to considering that Edward’s never believed her about anything. Considering how often the crazy stuff she says comes true, you think he’d learn by now. Instead, Edward dismisses her entirely and Mel holds the idiot ball. For those of you who don’t know, the idiot ball is when a character performs an uncharacteristic act of sheer stupidity in order to drive the plot. In this one, Mel gets a note from a stranger telling her to come alone to a cabin and, instead of informing her professors about it, she goes alone to meet the person. Someone who grew up on the streets ought to know better. Though I do appreciate that, when Mel’s in trouble, she tries to find a way out of there instead of waiting for the others to rescue her. For the rest of the game, you take on the role of Stella and I’ve noticed that when she gets an item and has to put it in a slot, she says, “I wonder,” while Mel has to have someone explain to her what to do. Te’ijal and Galahad have returned for the final game and, later on, we get an argument from them that looks like something that came out of Twilight. Oh, and you notice that when Te’ijal’s in control, she only makes decisions that make her happy while when Galahad’s in control, he tries to compromise for both of them? I’m going to give the staff the benefit of the doubt and assume that this is more about the characters than it is an issue of gender. Oh, and remember when Lydia stole the throne from Edward? The Aveyond staff wrapped up that problem as an afterthought rather than making it important to the plot. In the ending, you get to pick a bride for Edward. The canon option makes sense and doesn’t at the same time. When Mel tells Edward there’s trouble, he instantly dismisses her. When Stella tells Edward there’s trouble, he runs off to stop it. On the other hand, Edward has spent the whole game being irritated with Stella and worried nonstop about Mel. Add to that the fact that Edward marrying Mel in The Lost Orb is the canon beginning, it becomes even more baffling that Stella is the canon choice. Considering how many pairings have gone against the fan preference, I wonder if, at this point, the Aveyond staff loves to screw with their fan base.

The game play is, once again, your typical RPG. You travel the world battling monsters to raise your levels.

You can purchase items in towns and talk to NPCs to receive side quests. If you’re having trouble, visit the goodie caves to give yourself an advantage. The only difference this game has is that, not only can Stella learn spells by equipping weapons and leveling up, Edward can power up his sword by using sword stations.

This game is addictive but the plot could use some work. I give it 6 out of 10; a bad conclusion to Aveyond 3.

Aveyond: The Lost Orb (Bigfishgames.com)

Just when Mel thought she’d seen the last of the orbs, a mysterious woman named Nox tells her about the Orb of Death. Now she and her friends must destroy the lost orb before anyone of evil intent can get their hands on it.

The beginning of the game depends entirely on whom you had Edward propose to in the last one. Either way, Lydia tricks Edward into marrying her by locking the intended bride in the dungeon and disguising herself as said bride. While it’s not hard to believe that Lydia would desire the throne, some of her actions don’t match with her personality in the previous game. For instance, in Gates of Night, she tries to save Stella and sees the mission to the end. You can argue that all of this was a ruse to make Edward like her, but Lydia is also an accomplished mage. If she was only after the throne, couldn’t she have just cast a love spell? She can easily buy a love potion and spike Edward’s drink with it. Not to mention that amulet Lydia found in Gates of Night that she uses to make Edward buy her dresses, she could use that to make Edward marry her and become her slave. Speaking of love potions, the game once again romanticizes them. There’s this one scene where you create a love potion and Spook (a recently introduced character) and Edward fight over who gets to use it on Mel. Since I always thought of love potion as a date rape drug, this didn’t sit well with me. Later on, you find out Spook’s intentions, so the game could have easily just had Spook try to use the love potion while Edward tries to stop him. Edward and Spook also act incredibly obnoxious and neither one of them thinks to ask Mel what she wants. Did I mention that Edward will be fighting Spook for Mel’s affections even if you had him marry someone else? Oh, and for future reference, if you ever ask someone about their past and they say that their story will bore you, that’s usually code for “don’t trust me; I’m up to no good.” I’m also wondering why a village that shuts itself off from the rest of the world would have an MME system (mirror transportation) and signs pointing how to get there. Another problem I had was interests and prejudices that seem to come out of nowhere. For those of you who haven’t played the game, there will be spoilers in what I say next. Ulf (the orc traveling with you) wants to stay in Harakauna to become an alchemist. Now I can believe that he’d want to stay in a village full of talking animals and shape shifters that makes him feel welcome, but he has shown as much interest in alchemy beforehand as Lana Lang from Smallville did in art before applying to an art school in Paris, which is absolutely none. At the end of the game, Mel unlocks her magical abilities. Now I can believe that Mel’s abilities remained dormant because she’s had good luck relying on her mind all her life like Fox from Gargoyles. The only difference is that Fox actually demonstrated her intelligence while Mel has to have her hand held every step of the way. Oh, and did you know that Mel hates magic? Neither did I. She’s been around magic users and held them no ill regards and now that she has magic herself, she develops a prejudice for it for no reason whatsoever other than the writer needed to add unnecessary conflict to the story. Other than all that, the plot is actually quite interesting. The new characters are entertaining and I found the insane Empress of Eldrion to be hilarious.

The game play is very addictive. You travel a 2-d map collecting treasure, potion ingredients and fighting monsters.  The last one will help you gain levels to make the characters stronger. You can visit towns to purchase supplies, check your mail and teach Mel a new skill at the town’s agency. In this game, the training actually has something to do with the skill you’re learning. You can also complete side quests in addition with the main quest for 100% completion. During the game, you will have opportunities to either increase Mel’s attraction to Spook or decrease it. If you’re tired of having to move around so much, use the Magical Mirror Express, or MME, to travel between towns faster. You can also stop by hidden goodie caves to make the game easier.

This game is addictive and entertaining. I give it 7 out of 10; the game play makes up for the many problems with the story.

Ahriman’s Prophecy (Amaranthgames.com)

Talia was once an ordinary girl who only wanted to be a herbalist.  Unfortunately, during her naming ritual she uncovers an evil plot.  Now she must study to become a magic wielder and save the world from destruction.

The plot’s quite simple, save the world from an evil sorcerer. 

The two main characters are Talia and Devin and sometimes it feels like they’re the only two characters in the whole game.  During the journey, all Devin and Talia do is talk to each other.  While you can invite other characters, they contribute little in the way of storyline.  Alicia’s just another marriage option for Devin, after Frederick’s side quest, you don’t do anything with him except when you need to teach him a new shape shifting form, and Jack only has one side quest option and then he disappears.  It’s like the rest of the members just stand there in silence while Devin and Talia talk.  There’s also a dwarf you can hire but I never really use him.  The story line is quite cliché with a villain dumber than dirt.  One example would be a scene where he possesses a very important person and acts very impatient.  If he had acted nonchalant, Talia and Devin would have just given him the relics they collected and he would have won.

The game play is different than I’m used to but enjoyable.  Instead of entering random battles, you see a health bar whenever you exit town, go around destroying random enemies you see in the field and loot their corpses. 

As I said earlier, you can choose whether you want Devin to marry Talia or Alicia.  Another aspect of the game is that there are five guilds for Talia to join.  There is one aspect of the game play I hate and it’s that you can only have four people with you.  You can’t keep other members in a reserved party and when you switch members out you have to go all the way back to the city you found them in to get them back.  Then you have to switch out another party member to do so.  It’s a very frustrating aspect.

This game is simplistic yet addictive.  I give it 6 out of 10, and the best part is it’s free.

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