Back with another ACTUAL Game Impressions post. Again, these are games that are either unfinished or that I simply did not want to cover for my ACTUAL Review series.
This is a visual novel that I really wanted to like. It combines two of my favorite genres into one: mystery and yuri. Despite this though, the game simply failed to grab my attention even after eight or so hours of gameplay. Considering that I was about a third of the way through the game at that point, I decided to drop it.
The mystery itself is somewhat interesting, having to do with a psychological disorder and the hallucinations caused by it, but it is a very slow-developing one, painfully so. In fact, it was a struggle for me just to get through those eight hours. It does not help that the game can be incredibly wordy at times, describing the most mundane thing in excessive detail. I do not need an entire page of detail describing the inside of a trolley that is not even relevant just minutes later. Coming from someone that usually enjoys slow burn mysteries (like Ever17), SeaBed was quite the disappointment.
As for the art, it is at least passable. The character designs are fine, but the backgrounds are just pictures with a Photoshop filter applied to them. It is definitely a bit lazy, but it at least did not detract from the experience. The game is also fully unvoiced, which is unfortunate, but this is not really a high-budget game to begin with.
All that considered, I cannot recommend SeaBed. Despite combining some excellent genres together, the game’s slow pace is just painful at times, making it hard to get immersed in the story. At least the art is passable, but nothing too special. There are simply far better options out there for this type of story.
Vagante is a pretty standard rogue-like with a number of technical issues. The gameplay is decent and the inventory/upgrade system is cool, but the game simply does not feel polished despite having come out of Steam’s Early Access program after several years in development.
First, it is worth mentioning that the gameplay is pretty standard for the genre. Maps are randomly generated, treasure is common, and exploration is encouraged. Combat is definitely on the weaker side, but still passable. The game at least provides a variety of weapons and such to dispatch enemies, so the combat is not lacking in that regard. As for the enemies though, the variety is pretty decent, but definitely could be better. Bosses are cool as well, but nothing too spectacular. Everything about the gameplay is really just as average as it gets.
What really hurts the game is the number of technical issues. One such problem is related to controller use. The game really makes it a struggle to get everyone’s controls sorted out when playing multiplayer, as one player has to go through and assign each player to an input. As such, it took my friends and I quite a bit of time to get the controller situation sorted out before we could actually play the game. However, we ran into some problems later on, the most bizarre of which happened to me. We were playing in a group of three, but I was somehow controlling both player 1 and 4, so I ended up controlling two separate characters stacked right on top of each other. The bug was actually a bit of fun to play with, as I did double damage, but it was impossible to manage two inventories and once one of the characters picked up a passive speed-up item, they were no longer in sync.
On top of that, the game suffered from some stuttering, freezing for a second or so occasionally. One such freeze even resulted in a crash, forcing us to restart our entire run. It is even worse online though, as multiplayer progress online is not saved. As such, online runs need to be completed in one go.
Vagante definitely tried, but it simply has too many technical issues for me to recommend the game. If you are going to play the game solo, than many of these issues may not apply to you, but for a game that encourages multiplayer it is definitely troublesome. Even without those issues, the gameplay was rather average.
Gray Dawn is a rather surreal first-person adventure game. Unfortunately, this surrealism does not equate to a good story and the game is not really optimized too well.
For a walking simulator a good story is a must, but Gray Dawn simply does not deliver on that front. The story is full of religious (specifically Christian) symbolism and such that just do not feel like they really do much for the story. Sure, it provides a basic outline for the story (that of demons and the divine), but a lot of it just feels out of place, like it was only there to lend itself to the game’s surrealism. It also does not help that the voice acting is pretty bad, especially with the child’s lines. However, I will at least give the game credit for allowing the player to sprint, a feature that many walking simulators do not include.
Then there is the game’s optimization. Normally I try to avoid using that phrase, as most people view it simply as a buzzword, but in this case it really does describe the game. I had trouble running the game at a constant 60fps, so I went to play with the settings, toning down the quality from epic to high. In doing so however, just about every bit of text in the game became unreadable. Even some of the images (like paintings and such) became a blurry mess. The drop in quality between epic and high was what I would expect from epic to low. As such, I ended up playing on epic despite the framerate drops, as I would miss out on the story otherwise. If a game is going to be this demanding, then it should at least offer some settings that allow it to still be playable at a lower quality.
As such, I cannot recommend Gray Dawn. The story can be interesting at times, but it feels like a lot of it is lost to how much the game emphasizes its surrealism. The game also suffers from some horrendous optimization, some of the worst I have seen in an adventure game like this. You are much better off looking elsewhere.
I was provided free review copies of the games featured here. Read more about how I do my game reviews/impressions here.