Steam’s currently having a celebratory sale for Linux-playable games.
Of course, since all the Linux games are also playable on PC, it just means I get to trawl the collection and go bargain-hunting.
I want to highlight two gems that may be less obvious than things like FTL at 50% (still waiting for 75%, yarrr.)
I’ve owned this for quite a while and rarely see it on sale. It’s going for two bucks, which I think is the perfect price point for the six or so hours you may get out of it (if you chase all the achievements.)
And even if you don’t complete the game, it’s worth two bucks to see the neat genre twist involved. (Assuming you are at least vaguely familiar with the platforming tropes of Super Mario Brothers – else it may possibly be lost on you.)
Suffice to say, things stay only bright and cheerful and kiddy and bright and bouncy for so long.
It’s like The Terrible Secret of Animal Crossing for platformers, which by the way, is also a great read if you’re into dark and creepypasta stuff.
Fair warning: You have to be okay with the frustrations of platforming games – rehearsing pixel perfect jumps and getting one’s timing -just- right may be an issue in certain parts. And dying and being sent back to the start or the nearest checkpoint if you miss. Over and over if you’re having an off day.
I know I personally have trouble with getting the hang of the timing when just starting out, but get it down after a while. There is also one notorious spot in particular that causes immense rage and failure for quite a number of people – including me, and led to staring at video guides and trying it 30x and still failing. I got past it eventually and seeing the ending(s) and experiencing the whole game was worth it.
There’s a less graphically attractive free version floating about the web too, but I think for two bucks, it’s worth spoiling yourself with the full-featured version. The 8-bit style music’s pretty fun and fitting too.
No, seriously, WHAT?
I know I’ve mentioned that I have a soft spot for cheesy casual games before, but this didn’t look like anything I’d be remotely interested in at first.
I don’t have a huge allergy to anime style cartoon graphics, but this game’s images are a touch on the amateurish side in places. Some characters look good/okay, and some look really strange to my eye.
Purely on principle alone, I don’t think I’d mind dating sims or visual novels but honestly have had very little experience with either genre.
(The closest to a dating sim I’ve ever gotten is an ADRIFT text/graphic adventure game called The PK Girl, submitted for the 2002 Interactive Fiction competition, which I found I quite enjoyed. It’s received some criticism for portraying things in a sexist light, but I was mostly more intrigued by the branching possibilities, multiple endings and ability to develop relationships with characters in an IF game, using a language that wasn’t Inform/Z-Code.
As for visual novels, Analogue: A Hate Story is about the closest I’ve gotten around to trying so far. Not bad if it’s on sale too, by the way.)
More of a buzzkill is the fact that it’s set in a magical school, and your protagonist is a magical student that has been raised as a
Muggle (redacted for copyright reasons), unaware of her destiny until approximately high school age.
Your default character’s name starts out as Mary Sue (until you change it in haste.)
And you’ll even have a cheerful and helpful female professor as your ally, while there’s this sour-faced lanky, evil professor whom you smash into early on, whose life purpose appears to be making yours miserable.
*resists urge to puke at Harry Potter overdose*
For $25, or even for $15, I’ll never buy such a thing.
But you know, Rock, Paper, Shotgun has reviewed the game and been somewhat positive about it, and it’s now on 75% sale on Steam, making it a much more palatable $3.75…
… and there’s even a free demo.
Welp, the demo did its job really well on me.
I gritted my teeth through the initial overdose of sweet sappy cheesiness, smiled tolerantly at the most obvious tall, dark and arguably handsome stranger who showed up as the most likely potential boyfriend for my character, and to my surprise, found myself getting into the flow of the story, experimenting with various twists and turns and options, suspecting there was significant branching narrative potential here, and most of all, wanting the story to continue when I reached the end of the demo.
That is how you sell a game.
What I’m most impressed by is the multitude of scenes and occurrences that the writer(s) have concocted for the setting. No shortage of writer’s block here. Global school events occur over the course of the term. Vacations come and go. You’ll have the opportunity to develop relationships (not necessarily solely romantic ones) with a plethora of characters. Conflict and drama pop up everywhere, sometimes when you’re least expecting it. Time passes. Things change.
And ultimately, you do feel like you’re living the student life of the protagonist you’ve designed, and that there’s room to try another kind of protagonist for another replay at the very least.
What I would recommend is to at least give this game a chance. Don’t immediately judge it by its appearance. Download the demo to try it out – it will give you a good idea of whether you might like this style of game/visual novel at all.