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(Made for the GGJ16 in 48 hours by only one dude... )
This game is about is about...
The art is great, but the lack of any sound or music is a bit jarring. It's understandable that this game is limited by being made in such a tight time period, but it would definitely benefit from something to flesh out the periods of moving from one interactive item to the next. The setting design was great, and created a vivid imagery of where the game takes place. The player's lack of autonomy helps us empathize with the character's frustration and passive resignation to their situation. It would be better if there were more depth to the character to allow the audience to, putting it bluntly, care about what happens to the characters. I have to say it again because I love it so much, the art and animations are fantastic! I look forward to seeing more of your work.
This is probably the most pretention Art Game I have ever played, and being on Newgrounds, I've played a lot of those. But this one easily take the cake, there's a lot to cover and hopefully I'll try to cover everything.
First I understand that this game was done in 48 hours and you probably couldnt add everything you wanted. But even that doesnt make this game good so right off the bat I'll cover what you could have done with such little time, without adding anything to the game before delving on what would have made this game a more enjoyable experience, yet would have taken some time to implement.
The game suffer from a severe problem of pacing. The game takes way too much time to complete and to get your point across. It should go a lot faster than that, going as far as 3 days to see the whole evolution of the situation from day one to the end. You probably think you're building atmosphere by doing so, but you're not. I just had one glimpse at the mouse and I knew where it was going. When I went out of his house and saw the street I also knew further of what you had planed and if I didnt the first red cross on a door would have tiped me off. There was no way it wouldnt have. The rest was a painfully long and painstaking walk through your game with nothing new to add whatsoever. Including some days where barely nothing hhappened whatsoever.
Yes, by changing the pace of the game you would have made it much shorter but it would have also carried your point across in a much more efficient way. Perhaps you could have tweaked somehow the headline of the paper to reflect why exactly people were killed by making the headlines more clumsy and more obvious. Instead the point of the game is ruined by tedious gameplay, or rather lack of one.
Finally : Your game have about 3 full sentences. You should have at the very least take the time to check if they made sense. Heck even the author comment on your page have a sentence that doesnt make sense "This game is about is about..." It's not much but it would have helped a lot to give your game credibility
The absolute worst point of the game is the ending and I'll get back to why later. Now let's move on to what you could have done to make the game better :
Allowing some player imput, litterally any player imput that would have made any difference at all, or that would have helped it's involvement. Apart from the whole "pickaxe gameplay" going on, there is nothing to differentiate today from yesterday. I know that was what you were going for, but come on. This is tedious. This is a GAME not a novella. A game implies Gameplay, it implies player imput.
You want an addition that would have been both cool and not time consuming ? Put some dialog options on all the NPCs. Allow the player to share their misery. Allow the player to control it's character when the elevator goes down or when he is digging, allow him to choose his spot, even if there's a guard to prevent him from leaving the cave. Heck, give the character a jump, even if it would break the atmosphere a little it would give the player the illusion of being in control at least a little.
How about the player's wife ? She's in bed when you wake up and in bed when you fall asleep. She look lazy and uninvolved with the player miserable life. If you did not want to include her furthermore, how about just making her sit at the table, making dinner with what little they have ? Perhaps along the days she could have started to look more and more depressed and struck with despair. With the player unable to do anything to help her. Of course, dialogs would have once again made everything better.
Perhaps your intent was to create one of those silent games where as little dialog as possible was needed, but I dont think you could be able to create such an ambiance in 48 hour, it usually implies a lot more character sprites to allow the NPCs to convey more emotions, hence why I'm always going back to dialogs.
If you had more time, you could perhaps have added some dialog options, ways to get to know inmates and the guards. Eventually get into trouble yourself or appear as a model prisonner. Deciding which ending you'll be getting...
The game as it is feels empty and rushed. It's a corridor with some pickaxe gameplay that changes nothing before going back to your room. It's a little like a walk in the park.
But the very worst point of the game, the one that makes me call it a pretentious art game is the end. Not only this tedious pointless gameplay lead nowhere, but you break the atmosphere you worked so much to instaure to throw a "Ask me what it means" to the player. This is beyond lazy as an ending. It brings nothing into the experience, it reveals nothing about the fate of the main character or what he thinks and it's basically asking the player if he liked going left and right.
This game is even less than an artgame. Artgames usually lack gameplay to get a point across. Here you get across...Absolutely nothing. This is an unfinished game, that would have been a lot better if you gave it more time, or more thought.
I advise you to submit your game for beta-testing next time, So you can get second opinions and perhaps tweak the game to make it stronger. It's a shame because you have a good sense of character design and in a more fleshed out game, this story could have been very worthwhile. But please, please PLEASE : come up with your OWN story, convey it properly and DONT ASK THE PLAYER WHAT IT MEANS. If you want to create an ambiguous ending that's up to interpretation that's fine, but your complete break of the 4th wall is brutal and ruining the whole experience.
Even though I hope to see some more fleshed out work coming from you.
"This games is about... is about." Thats the part where you break your argument... that was write by another player, and thats the point where i ask to the player what he think, to can leave a message and condition to the next player. Make sure that you have understand all before put a lot of time in your review. Is ironic that u name this game pretentious when you are doing it in your review lol. Thanks anyways to spend this words for this little game...
Not a game. Basically a playthough novel. I enjoyed it to the outmost and I love how we get to answer what we thought about it... that doesn't happen a lot lol.
Story is great. Predictable and shit saddening but it's good. I'm glad I saw this on NG.
I'm really sorry to give this rating. I feel this game have some message somewhere, it need to have an motivation and a message to touch the player, but i didnt felt it, i cant see a message, none, and i think it was the most boring thing that i already played.
Np! This game is not for everybody :( Im sorry too.
was bored, played this game, started thinking about life, what i miss, what can expect me, what this game really means. started crying. eating ice cream now. 10/10.
PS: this game isnt sad, its what you make of it. it touched me, dont know how and why...
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