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What Are We Playing? Digital Game Edition [April 2024]

Periodically on this blog we highlight a handful of tabletop and digital games to spread the word about interesting experiences and support other creators. Here's our all-video-game April edition!

Image via Steam

This game is… kind of crazy?

It starts out as a roguelite deck-builder game (see previous post for my obsession with Slay the Spire) that takes place in a spooky cabin with a handful of puzzle elements. It took me several runs and about 14 hours of gameplay to beat what seemed like the final boss, and by doing so, I finally unlocked the... other two thirds of the game(?!) On top of all that, there’s also some ARG-inspired bits in there.

It would be too spoilery to reveal what lies beyond that gameplay point, but suffice it to say, the scope of the gameplay expanded dramatically and continued to surprise me throughout my playthrough. After getting past the first portion, the game went by a lot faster and the battles were less punishing. The middle portion was my favorite, and would probably be the most fun part to return to.

All in all, a carefully crafted and bizarre (in the best way possible) experience. Though I wouldn’t describe it as a puzzle game, fans of deck builders, strategy games, and ARG-adjacent storylines will find lots to enjoy here.

Time: 20+ hours

Difficulty: 3?/5

Image via Steam

The Last Campfire had relaxing fairy tale vibes. The story was pretty surface level, but so long as you’re not allergic to Cute Things, both the story and character design were cozy and charming. The gameplay progressed through three environments, each with about a dozen puzzle levels. Mechanics involved moving blocks and platforms and manipulating the environment to create paths. Both structure and aesthetic were reminiscent of Monument Valley or a micro version of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.

The simple mechanics made for very accessible gameplay that could also be appropriate for a younger audience. While I was rarely stumped, there were some tricky and satisfying solves here and there. Nothing in the game felt groundbreaking, but that’s obviously a high standard to judge a game by. If you like casual games that include exploration and environmental puzzles, you’d probably enjoy it.

Time: ~6-8 hours

Difficulty: 2/5

Screenshot from The Looker video game featuring rows of benches surrounded by hedges statues and a castle in the background
Image via Steam

Call of the Sea has a very pleasant visual design and involves exploration and point-and-click puzzle-solving while a narrative unfolds. The puzzles all felt logical, but at times it was hard to know whether I had the necessary information to solve something. I often realized I just hadn’t explored far enough. This then required me to backtrack, which felt a bit tedious at times, but stopped being an issue later in the game. Aside from this backtracking and one specific repetitive mechanic later in the game, the gameplay was fairly smooth. The walking speed and interaction proximity could both be improved, and an in-game hint system would be nice to avoid having to look up walkthroughs if you get stuck.

The narrative was a mix of archaeological romance and supernatural island, slowly unfurling the mystery of what happened on an expedition to the island with a mix of emotional and fantastical story beats. It’s a bit reminiscent of What Remains of Edith Finch, but a little more puzzle-driven.

Time: ~6h

Difficulty: 2.5/5

Image via Steam

At its core, Pentiment is an interactive story. The gameplay consists of walking around, having conversations, uncovering evidence, and learning about the town and the characters. That being said, it also has elements of an RPG–you select a background for your character and make consequential dialogue choices. There is a wealth of characters and glossary entries in this world.

The limit on the number of actions you can take/people you can talk to felt a bit constricting. There were so many things I didn’t get to do, either because I failed most of my checks (even with favorable boosts) or I just ran out of time, before I really understood how time worked. While I like that choices had consequences in this game, it often felt like the pacing was off, and I was left with a lot of unfinished business. The last third of the game did feel better paced, however, which makes me wonder if I misplayed in the beginning.

The narrative had significant depth, and there is a high level of detail in the ending sequence, which I really appreciated. The interactions between the peasants, townsfolk, and abbey built up an interesting story full of religious and class conflict, but without getting lost in the details. However, choosing the dialogue answers where I sounded the least like a jerk typically made it harder to pass checks, which was frustrating. At the end ofeach Act, I was also left wondering if I had the “correct” answer to the mystery, or if there even was one. The game posits an interesting question: “does a story need to be true?” Ultimately, I wished the investigations felt more puzzly, but the narrative, which was central, is what made the game.

Time: ~12-14h

Difficulty: 1.5?/5

Ada’s Study is a mobile game reminiscent of The Room game series, and akin to playing an escape room on your phone. It had beautifully rendered graphics and conveyed a good sense of character through small and easily digestible snippets of text. The puzzles solved cleanly and the challenge level would be very accessible to novice puzzlers. While one puzzle sequence was a little finicky to control, most worked well, and were well-suited to the medium. The ending presented a choice, which was a fun addition, but since it was the end of the game, it was a bit anticlimactic—hopefully there will be a sequel to continue the story.

Time: ~1h

Difficulty: 1.5/5

What have you been playing lately?

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Amy Blood
Amy Blood
Apr 29

Just played Morrison Game Factory actually! Probably our favorite so far. We really connected with the story emotionally. We're caught up now with all your games and can't wait to play the next!

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