Note: The price tags listed are at time of purchase which may have been during a limited sale.
THE EXPERIMENT: ESCAPE ROOM
I am really good at escape rooms, and maneuvering through a real-life puzzle with friends at your side is an invigorating experience. Five minutes into The Experiment, I was having flashbacks of my joyless experience with Myst oh so many years ago. That isn’t to say The Experience isn’t worth purchasing for people who enjoy puzzles or finding where clues fit together. I’ll honestly probably find myself sitting down and moving my way through the experience even though it will feel like moving through molasses for me. The great thing is, you can play it co-op, which is probably how I should be playing it, and it feels like you could very well play it with VR. But this is Your Weekly Video Game Phil, not Phil and Friends, and I do not have VR.
The controls are part of the problem; they feel like an unnecessary puzzle to figure out. And it took me ten minutes to figure out exactly how to open a door with a key. You have to stand in exactly the right spot, with the key in exactly the right spot, and you can’t shift the key around… then another ten minutes trying to figure out how to put a vial of blood where it needed to go. The control could be more intuitive and not quite so picky. Some of the puzzles and clues are almost too abstract. How am I supposed to be able to tell one dirty surface from another and know that that one dirty surface is supposed to be special all the other dirty surfaces? I think my biggest hang up, and this is why #StoriesMatter, is that, not having read the game synopsis beforehand, I had no idea why I found myself where I was, and to me, that’s part of the Escape Room experience. There is a story that you find yourself a part of that’s woven into the escape experience. It’s surprising how that can add motivation for finding the next clue. Here, there were no stakes because of that.
Final word: Maybe. Under the right circumstances, with the right people, I can see how this might be more enjoyable than my solo experience, which was ultimately made more frustrating than anything else by the controls.
Developer: OnSkull Games
Publisher: OnSkull Games
Price tag at time of purchase: $3.99
Platform: Microsoft Windows, Steam, Nintendo Switch
The bottom of my feet haven’t sweated so much since trying to make every perfect jump in Super Mario Bros 3 while the level moves you forward. Cloudbase Prime is a great time. A first-person platformer that hinges on FPS elements combining the sci-fi quirkiness of the Portal games with crazy 3-D world landscapes of hexagon-shaped towers. As the robot who is stuck in the midst of a gas giant mining station where things have “gone very, very, wrong,” it’s your job to manipulate the world around you, find power robots, blast evil robots, and set the mining station right again.
The really fun element of this that makes it a breath of fresh air amidst the endless line-up of FPS’s is you can use the hexagon-shaped towers to vault yourself into the air to get to higher ground and vault the evil robots into the air taking shots at them as they fall back to the ground. You can power up your weapons in some pretty awesome ways, and the environments are endlessly appealing.
Final word: Heck, yeah. There is a simplicity about this game, with quirky dashes of personality that made me laugh out loud. Plus, it’s ridiculously fun while still being just challenging enough to make me want to press onward even when I’m being absolutely decimated.
Developer and Publisher: Floating Island Games
Price tag upon purchase: $4.99
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Linux, macOS, STEAM, Nintendo Switch
FINDING TEDDY 2: DEFINITIVE EDITION
I didn’t play Finding Teddy, and Finding Teddy 2 was originally released in 2015, but finding it now on the Switch has made my week. A side-scroller in the vein of Metroid and Hollow Knight, Finding Teddy 2 takes a more whimsical and fantastical approach to its world-building adventure making it accessible to young adults, as well as…adults that are young.
You play a young girl who is called back to the land of Exidus (after having visited as a little girl) where the land has fallen into chaos. It is your job, with your floating teddy bear friend at your side (Adorable!), to find your way to the magical library (Joy!) and traverse the kingdom to find four stones that will set everything right again.
This game is full of the magic that makes stories like Harry Potter or The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe so wonderful. There is a sense of adventure and magic, with epic characters like the Guardians. As you traverse this world, you learn new skills, yes, but one of the great elements of the game is learning how to communicate with the denizens that populate Exidus; communicating incorrectly brings harsh consequence!
Final word: A resounding yes. Words and music combine in a Zelda-like confluence that really brings this world to life. The music is beyond charming (Every time I enter the library I find myself smiling.), and the bright color palettes are absolutely engaging. This was worth more than worth the $9.99 price tag.
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows, Wii U, Macintosh operating systems
Price tag when purchase: $9.99
Developers: Storybird, PixelHeart, Look At My Game
Publishers: Look At My Game, Aksys Games, PixelHeart, Storybird Studios