Even though it's also available for PC (of the Windows, Mac, or Linux variety), it being a little trivia game designed to be played in short bursts, I decided to go with the Android version on my phone.
Its premise is very simple: each time you'll be presented with a few comic-like panels explaining a certain situation -- usually one in which someone is having some trouble. Then the character in question will wish for something (again, usually the wish is to overcome the difficult situation), and at that precise moment Lariat the witch will appear, offering a deal: the wish will become true if a round of 10 trivia questions is correctly answered.
Probably, the main selling point of this game are the questions from those trivia rounds: the topics they cover are mainly (modern day) cinema, animation, and video games, with a pinch of miscellaneous questions here and there. You can even tune (up to a certain point) the relative frequency of each category, in case you aren't so good with a particular topic (like me and anime). Oh, and there's no need to answer correctly the whole 10 questions in each round: the more questions you get right, the higher your chances of your wish getting true.
And so, depending on whether Lariat grants those wishes or not, the personal stories of each character will evolve in different ways. I've now reached a point where the stories have started repeating themselves, so after replaying a bunch of them trying to get a different ending from my first playthrough, I think I'll declare this game beaten. What has yet to repeat itself (that I can remember) is even a single question, which speaks volumes of the dev's dedication to the game (and of the size of its question pool!). <span class="bold">Never Alone (+ Fox Tales DLC)</span>
Got it last week in the still ongoing Humble Indie Bundle 16
(so you can still get it until the 8th of March). Its Windows and Mac versions are also available here, but the Linux one is still missing. Your loss, GOG.
Anyhow, the first thing one notices when playing (or looking at screenshots of) this game, is how beautiful it is. And, believe it or not, it's made with the Unity engine! So here's another one to put on the list of games for countering the old argument that Unity is a shitty engine: Unity is not inherently bad, there only happens to be a lot of weak (or lazy) devs that give it a bad name. But I digress again. The game looks really nice, and besides it was conceived as a way to divulge the lore and history of the Alaskan Iñupiat people. To that end, throughout the game you'll be able to unlock several documental-like short videos that explain different aspects of life in the Arctic, and some of their people's legends and folklore (which for the most part get reflected in the game either as plot devices or enemies). All in all, this goes to show that you don't always need to make up new stories and fantastic worlds in order to have an interesting game. Sometimes it's enough to turn your gaze to real parts of the Earth and its peoples, as demonstrated here.
As I said, at first sight the game looks perfect. However once you've played it for a while, its flaws become apparent. You see, it's a puzzle platformer clearly designed to be played in local co-op. I guess it must be tons of fun playing it alongside a friend or your children, but lonely people like me (if loneliness wasn't punishment enough) get to endure the terrible AI that takes charge of the character you're not currently controlling. Be prepared to die time and again as a result of the AI miscalculating a jump. Most of the time it's no big deal as the platforming is not that difficult and checkpoints are frequent, but in certain sequences where timing and precision is of the essence I was seriously tempted to ragequit.
If you happen to regularly watch TB's WTF Is... videos, and remember the one about this game
, you'll probably have noticed my opinion seems suspiciously similar to his. And that's just because it is. I do agree with him that Never Alone
is a gorgeous-looking game, but mechanically (even if you leave the terrible friendly AI out of the discussion) it's nothing extraordinary or particularly innovative. Where I don't
agree with him, though, is about the "cultural insight" videos and their use. While I concede that stopping in mid-game to watch them can somehow break the flow of your experience, in general they seemed to me like a perfect complement to the game's story, as they usually give you a good insight of what you just experienced in-game or what is about to come (like that delightful legend about the northern lights' spirits that would just rip off the head of any child who forgot to put on their hood). By leaving them all for the end, or not watching them at all, you risk losing a great part of what's happening during your playthrough. My list of finished games in 2016