Welcome back to the Games of the Month! How was that Summer Sale last week? Did you pick up anything cool? Well get ready to fall in love all over again with a whole new group of games from our recommendations.
I have this weird habit of booting up Inkle’s 80 Days whenever I’m on a long plane ride. Obviously I haven’t done that recently, but the Inkle’s games find a way to suck you in and show you a kindness and depth to their writing that can make even the most droll trips interesting. Now the crew is back with their take on the murder mystery, and hand over my heart it’s one of the most interesting takes on the genre I’ve ever seen.
At the top of Overboard your character pushes her husband over the edge of their 1930s cruise ship into the depths of the Atlantic. Waking up the next morning you’re told you have a few hours until the ship makes port and you can disappear into the wilds of America scot-free, all you have to do is outsmart the Agatha Christie-style detective who happens to be on board. Easy, right? What follows is several hours of looping through Inkle’s masterful choose your own adventure goodness. Each time you fail (and you will fail) you get a little more information about how to build your Rube Goldberg machine of escape, spend some time with the captain and you’ll learn about their master key, spend some time rifling through your late husband’s belongings and find what he was hiding. I’m sure winning Overboard is as easy as picking a series of the “right” choices, but discovering your path to freedom is deeply rewarding and feels personal even if it isn’t.
It feels weird calling Game of the Year contenders from this far out, but Chicory stands a real chance of ending up in a lot of end of the year lists. The next game from the principal developer behind the similarly great Wandersong, Chicory is an adventure in coloring, friendship, and kindness. All of the color has drained from the world and it’s up to you to fill in the new blanks with your magical paintbrush. What this means is that you and a colorful cast of animal companions are roaming around a Zelda-inspired overworld where, at any point, you can whip out your paintbrush and start coloring in the world around you. Impressively, you can draw just about anything on anything. You can make the clouds in the sky purple, you can draw hearts all over a macho squirrel’s house, there’s not really a limit to what you can paint here.
What makes this all the more impressive is the way this drawing mechanic is implemented into the entirety of the game. On one hand you’re using these doodles and paintings to navigate the overworld, and on the other Chicory tells a story about some of the harder parts of the creative process. What do you do when you don’t feel inspired? Will your work ever measure up to that of your idols’? Is burnout inevitable for creatives? You’d be forgiven for thinking that Chicory’s adorable artstyle means it’s a game for children, and while it’s a game for everyone, there’s a huge depth here for players of all ages.
Finally, the soundtrack deserves a special shoutout. Composer Lena Raine is back at it again and crafting masterpieces in a variety of styles and energy levels that are somehow both perfect for their appearances in Chicory and for listening to outside of the game.
At this point I’m willing to recommend Chicory to anyone and everyone. Check it out if you need something heartfelt that feels like a warm hug transmitted from developers to players.
If you’re anything like me you spent a good number of hours roaming around Crazy Taxi’s world of KFCs and Tower Records as a child. With these fond memories of The Offspring yelling YEAH YEAH YEAH YEAH YEAH in my head I booted up Psycho Taxi, a game that is….. Well it’s Crazy Taxi in all but name.
If you’ve played Sega’s legendary arcade driving hit then you know what you’re getting here, but for everyone else: you play as a taxi driver trying to make as much money as they can while a clock stressfully ticks down in the corner. You race around town picking folks up and delivering them to earn money and time to keep going. Psycho Taxi deviates from this formula by…. Um… ok the car has a big wind-up key on the back of it that passengers crank before getting in and it’s really cute! I’m going to be honest here, Psycho Taxi is a great take on a classic game but it’s absolutely just a fresh version of that classic game. I had a great time whipping around corners and exploring the game’s map, so if you’re looking for a fun way to spend an hour or two you should give the game a peek but you’re not going to be blown away by alien new experiences. But hey, sometimes that’s enough, right?
There’s a fun charm to having a desktop pet. Do they do anything? No not really, but checking in on a program that runs in the background pretending to love me throughout the day is a way to liven up the work-from-home world we find ourselves in. Desktop Dinosaurs is my newest friend/software, and it does exactly what it says in the title: There are dinosaurs that live on your desktop. They live, they prance around, and thanks to a recent update they can even fall in love.
And that’s basically the entirety of the recommendation. If you’re partial to desktop pets, Desktop Dinosaurs is one of the most polished, lovable entries in the genre you can find.
It wouldn’t be a Games of the Month post if I didn’t get to talk about a detective game. This time we’re going for Detective Kobayashi, a polished visual novel that shares design with some of the genre’s greats. In DK you’re carting around your beautiful anime characters around from crime scene to crime scene picking through meticulously drawn environments to pick out clues before you present your case in climactic verbal battles. The setup here is pretty common to games like Ace Attorney, but Kobayashi brings in “one on one dialogue battles” to freshen things up. This is a sort of more flexible Trial system that you may be used to in these types of games, where you’re presenting evidence to point out contradictions.
Kobayashi also has a lot of game to explore. I wasn’t able to get to the end before writing this recommendation, but How Long to Beat puts the game at 7 hours which is way more than I expected when I started playing. None of this is to say that the game is perfect (there are some rough edges in UI and translation) but I had a great time with this weirdo detective.
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