Last Time I Saw You (Demo) Impressions

Last Time I Saw You, by indie developer Maboroshi Artwork, tells the heartwarming tale of discovery that finds a balance between adventure and suspense. The story sidesteps the typical clichés of teenage coming-of-age and expands beyond the human emotions of love. It's the kind of story you know you can trust and one that you ultimately give yourself over to affection for these characters who are so tenderly represented.

We follow the story of a young boy named Ayumi, who has been having repeated dreams that his mind cannot comprehend. In these dreams, a young girl calls to him but reveals very little of her intentions. To many, they may be signs of an ominous omen, but to Ayumi, they are wondrous events that have a deeper meaning.

Ironically, Ayumi's hometown is bracing for a typhoon that will inevitably make landfall and he wonders if there is a connection between his dreams and the typhoon. The story is a subtle construction of art, as buried questions slowly emerge, hidden feelings become clear, and we are led, but not too far, into wondering if Ayumi is prophesizing or if he really is crazy.

Set in Japan during the 1980s, the countryside where the story takes place is exquisitely hand-drawn and bustling with activity. It is a vivid and vibrant place where the streets expand to infinity and everything around it looks big and uncharted. It is also a place where the innocence of kids and the experiences of the shopkeepers cross between the past and the future flowing together naturally like the ripples of a river.

Some of the characters are more wounded and cynical than others, and some, like the meat shop owner, for example, find kindness as foreign as an undiscovered country. Moments of humor are sprinkled throughout the game and while some of the dialogue can get repetitive, the story opens up gently revealing the next moment. Everything is lined up as it should. And while the pacing is deliberate, nothing is derailed.

The developer's style, I suppose, is to introduce some characters, linger with them for a while, and then move on to others, eventually coming back so that all the stories get tied together as we get glimpses of their many lives. Manabu, for example, is a bit older but is more childlike as he shares his ambition of becoming a baseball player. Nao, on the other hand, is well reserved, studious, and appears to be the voice of reason. Ayumi's parents are typical: an awkward father who goes to work every day and a stay-at-home mom who occupies her day cooking, cleaning, and prepping hearty desserts for the family.

While most adventure games overwhelm the player with useless dialogue and a long-winded introduction, Last Time I Saw You has no wrong scenes and no extra fluff. There are two repeating motifs: the constant dreams which are so simple and true and the seasonal approach of the typhoon, which the townsfolks worry about but never enough to stop their everyday activities.

There's a crucial scene where the storm finally makes landfall and Ayumi has to leave the safety of his class to retrieve an item he has left behind. Ominous black clouds gather above giving way to the heavy winds and raindrops which are so subtle that some may hear and feel it to be real, not imaginary.

As Ayumi tries to make it back to the safety of the group, he is attacked by flying phantom creatures. The entire sequence resembles a nightmare in which strange entities drift in and out of focus, puzzling Ayumi with their unexplained appearance. I applaud the developers here as they pay special attention to each scene, which I believe, is not to tell an ongoing story, but to make each scene have a unique end so viewers become anxious about what's to come next.

Unfortunately, that's where the demo ends. Last Time I saw You has real inspiration, and after a few playthroughs, I feel like I know the characters by heart, but I don't want to spoil your experience by quoting one-liners or revealing too much. Instead, I'll just say that the game's surprises, in any event, can lead our imaginations to wonderful places.

I'll provide a more detailed review when the game is officially released.

Never Stop Running - Speed Limit Steam Review

Speed Limit is a game you should be playing right now. So run and get yourself a copy before it passes you by.

Think your daily commute is tough? Spend some time with Gamechuck's newest runner, Speed Limit, and you'll start to appreciate just how relaxing Los Angeles traffic can be compared to this game.

Casting you as an innocent commuter, Speed Limit takes you by the collar and doesn't let up one bit. Right from the start, you're off on the proverbial run throughout the various levels with the simple goal of surviving wave after wave of relentless attacks.

Taking elements from classic past games, you'll be dodging bullets, weaving in and out traffic, and blasting bad guys from the air. So the experience is surreal at times that at the end of it all, you'll probably feel what James Bond goes through daily.

Speed Limit is a game you should be playing right now. So run and get yourself a copy before it passes you by.

Ready, Set, Run!

The first few levels, a shootout inside a train and then a car chase sequence, acts as precursors of what's to come as each level becomes progressively more challenging and daunting the further into the game you get.

Improving and surviving each round takes practice, memorization, and a whole lot of patience because one small slip-up will almost always lead to death. And believe me when I say you will die. And die often. Thankfully the game's generous quick loading feature ensures that you'll be up and running in no time.

Visually, Speed Limit retains that old-school feel through its liberal use of pixel graphics that are reminiscent of games from years past. Despite the abundance use of blocks, each pixel is meticulously placed and never gets confusing to navigate around. The thumping soundtrack is synchronized perfectly with the action and helps to keep the adrenaline pumping at full speed.

Never Stop Running

Overall, the Speed Limit is an enigma. Despite its simple gameplay, it isn't easy. While the missions look straightforward, it takes a lot of trial and error to complete successfully. And with the high frustration that accompanies each missiotask players will probably throw their controllers at their monitors in rage.

But for those that can tough it out, you'll be filled with sheer delight knowing you've just beaten one of the most challenging games to come out in a long, long time. If you're the type that likes extreme challenges without the complicated subplots or storylines, Speed Limit is a game you should be playing right now. So run and get yourself a copy before it passes you by.

Infected Shelter Steam Review - Blood, Gore, and Zombies

Dark Blue Games has done a marvelous job with Infected Shelter and has set the stage for an anticipated sequel. I can't wait!

I'll Take a Side of Fries with Those Ribs

The bloody action/adventure sidescroller Infected Shelter has everything gore seekers could ever want: the undead, zombies, deadly weapons, decapitated heads, dismembered limbs, and oh yeah, lots and lots of blood.

If you thought Rick from Splatterhouse didn't do enough in the plasma and gore category, Infected Shelter offers more interaction and by far, more bloodshed.

As one of the remaining survivors of a post-apocalyptic world, you'll have to hack and slash your way through randomly generated areas, slaughtering infected creatures, enemy factions, and brutal leaders.

If you score a direct hit on an enemy's head, it lops off--at which point you can pick it up and throw it at another enemy to maximize the damage.

If you really want to see the blood fly, however, just pick up a chainsaw and cut those unsavory bastards into tiny chunks. You'll see more burning flesh and slabs of ribs laying around than you'd think you were at a local steakhouse restaurant!

Dark Blue Games has done a marvelous job with Infected Shelter and has set the stage for an anticipated sequel. I can't wait!

Sheltered Souls

The graphics have an old-school look reminiscent of the old SNES days. The color palette is used to great effect making every level unique and challenging.

And although the hit detection is spot on you can't always line up a perfect shot even when your foe is standing right in front of you. Fortunately, the heroic music, whimsical animations, and solid gameplay keep the action from ever getting boring.

The real stars of the game, however, are the unusual characters you can choose to play with. From the pegged-leg brute who uses his leg stump as a weapon; to my personal favorite, Old Grandpa in a wheelchair; you'll die laughing just watching these wack-pack dimwits run around chopping and slicing their way to victory.

Dark Blue Games has done a marvelous job with Infected Shelter and has set the stage for an anticipated sequel. I can't wait!

Infectious Gameplay

Controls are tight and responsive as they should be given the helter-skelter frantic action on the screen. One nitpick I do have, however, is the insane difficulty as you progress further into the game.

That last boss was borderline suicidal! I deserve a medal or something just for surviving that ordeal. My tip to anyone who has yet to beat the final boss is to roll, and roll, and roll, a lot!

Even with that minor gripe, Infected Shelter definitely makes the proverbial cut. The enormous amount of loot, relic, and weapon drops keeps the action hot and heavy while the zany animations keep the gameplay fresh and entertaining.

Dark Blue Games has done a marvelous job with Infected Shelter and has set the stage for an anticipated sequel. I can't wait!

Outlast 2 Review - Flippin' Terrifying

Star rating for Outlast 2

God Loves You. God Loves You

Alongside Resident Evil 7, this will -without a doubt- become 2017’s horror game of the year, and it should be. Outlast 2 delivers the scares horror fans have been waiting for. And the horror it gives you isn’t the usual horror, you know, where you jump from your seat and scream. No, the horror it brings is the kind that will stay in your head and mess you up for a while.

Set in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona, Outlast 2 places the protagonist Blake Langermann, a cameraman, right smack in the middle of an extreme Christian cult called the Testament of New Ezekial, led by a self-proclaimed prophet Sullivan Knoth.

In search of his wife Lynn Langermann, an investigative reporter searching for clues about the mysterious and seemingly impossible circumstances of a pregnant woman identified only as Jane Doe, Blake sets out through the Testament’s main town called Temple Gate, which is secluded from the rest of society. Along the way, he encounters horrors too great for the mind of a human to comprehend, causing his sanity to fade gradually until it is made evident that it no longer exists.

There’s not really a whole lot to say about Outlast 2, other than: It’s flippin’ terrifying.

Outlast and Outnumbered

And it’s not just the Testament that wants his soul. Blake stumbles across an exiled portion of the cult called The ‘Scalled’ whose members are inflicted with a disease that they believe comes from a “sickness in the soul”, when in actuality they are suffering from syphilis, gonorrhea, and pretty much every other STD there is. The sick and dying members believe that Blake is their “Scalled Messiah” after seeing he is not ill like they are.

Where there’s one thing, there has to be something else that contradicts it. In this case, it is the Heretics – a splinter faction that has broken away from the Testament due to their beliefs. Whereas the Testament believes in God, the Heretics believe in the Devil, wanting the seemingly pregnant Lynn to give birth to the Antichrist so they can let it out upon the world.

Blake isn’t just tormented by the Testament, the Scalled, or the Heretics. No, he is forced to live out his most haunting memory – what happened during his Catholic school as a child. In this dream sequence, the environment shifts completely from the Arizona desert to a school. Here, he is pursued by a grotesque-looking, multi-limbed demon, a manifestation of his fear of one of his teachers, all the while reliving the murder of one of his closest friends, Jessica. From then on, it’s nothing but Blake running through cornfields, hiding under beds, wardrobe closets, or even in barrels full of blood to hide from the bloodied machete-wielding cultists that are hunting him down.

The gameplay is for the most part similar to the first Outlast. You are not a fighter, as the game puts it. Your only options are to run, hide, or die. The AI of the cultists seems to be noticeably different than the first. The enemies here tend to be more diligent in tracking you than in the first. To me, it also seemed like enemies are most attracted to the sounds you make, so you better watch where you step.

There’s not really a whole lot to say about Outlast 2, other than: It’s flippin’ terrifying.

You Won't Outlast Us

One of the game’s signature aspects is the night vision, which of course returns. Because of Blake’s occupation as a cameraman, he has a more advanced camera – his including a higher quality picture and a microphone to track noises made by the cultists, allowing for easier stealthy movements to remain undetected. Batteries also make a return and, just like in the previous game, are scarce and are found in places that include electronics, such as flashlights. A new mechanic introduced in Outlast 2 is the bandages.

In the first Outlast, you would regenerate your health after getting hit. However, a significant amount of damage caused here would cause your character to bleed, which would prevent you from regenerating and cause death. Players must be smart about how they use their bandages, as it takes a couple of seconds (which is a lot in this game) and makes it extremely vulnerable to whatever’s hunting you.

It is common for players to feel panicked or even as if they’re actually in danger while playing this game and the most effective way to survive the horrors of Outlast 2 is to stay calm. I know from my experience of playing this game that I went into panic mode and ran aimlessly right when someone spotted me. That’s what makes Outlast 2 such a remarkable game. The amount of horror it brings actually makes you think that you’re in this very situation.

Outreach for Outlast

However, it is also that very reason that causes frustration among players. In my experience, the panic mode that was triggered caused me to not be able to think straight, hence why I started to run around aimlessly and scream. Well, the environment doesn’t exactly help with that. I would constantly find myself skipping exits and places to hide due to my being unable to think straight. I’m sure other players had that kind of problem as well.

I didn’t seem to have any other problems with the game. All in all, I really believe that Outlast 2 will become a staple in the horror genre just because of the outstanding work that was put into it. The horror felt real and left me tingling in fear even after beating the game.

Hell, I was sometimes afraid to go to sleep and even go into a dark room. Outlast 2 deserves recognition for being able to shake players’ heads and keep them up at night for a long time. All other problems such as players thinking that Blake’s stamina was an issue and how the microphone drained batteries faster weren’t really an issue for me and I didn’t mind it.