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Hypnospace Outlaw, Revisited (PC)



I didn't replay this because of the content update, it was just coincidence that I got an urge to go back through it when I did (heck, the update didn't even go out until weeks later). On my first play I was focused on completing the cases, but this time around I took my time and explored some of the stories I missed, like the Freelands being led by a guy who's always screaming about his freedom and creativity and how he should be allowed to do whatever he wants while demanding the other Freelands members stay in line with his vision and crapping on other peoples' work (which becomes delicious during the Lost and Found mission at the end), or the entire Coolfest '99 shitshow that left me thinking "Wait, what happened with a helicopter???"

It also gave me a chance to reassess my original thoughts. The final puzzle is not as obtuse as it first seemed and there's a pretty blatant clue sitting out in the open on one of the page listings, but after all the brick walls I kept hitting on the file sharing case I was, for lack of a better term, out of shits to give. There are also ways to complete most of the puzzles without spending any money (the exception, as far as I could tell, being the final puzzle which still required you to shell out 500 Hypnocoins) they're just harder to crack with what you know at the time, plus you'll need to know what not to click so you don't get a virus.

As I mentioned, an update was released towards the end of August that added about 60 new pages, updated some old ones, and added a way to get the tool needed for the final puzzle for free and thus complete the game without spending any money. On one hand the update's free and more content for your money is always welcome, but on the other hand there was something adorably nostalgic with all those "Coming soon!" pages never actually updating. Also, the guy singing the new Counselor Ronnie song sounds like Rick Sanchez.

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DARQ (PC)



This game made a bit of a splash when the creator turned down an offer to go back on his promise of a Steam release to make the game exclusive to the Epic Games Store. Good on him, I thought, I'll give his game a shot.

It's a decent enough environmental puzzle game based around walking on walls and changing perspectives. The atmosphere reminded me a lot of Condemned with its hazy gray palette, levels made of run-down urban locals, and obsession with creepy mannequins. But I wouldn't go past "decent" for some boneheaded moments. First, stealth sections in non-stealth games are the pits, especially in a puzzle game where you'll spend ages running around trying to figure out what you need to get by the plague doctor that will kill you on sight, only for the answer to be "tip-toe past him very slowly." Second, the game ends on a chase sequence that can get in the sea.

And the opera house level. I spent way too long running around the place trying to find whatever item I needed to deal with a hissing snake sticking out of a hole in the wall and baring its fangs at me. Eventually I found a room with a dead light bulb, and replacing it caused a bunch of puppets in the room to wake up and dogpile me, because I needed an item I needed to deal with the snake to get. The answer was to go over and pick up the hissing venomous snake.

Finally, developers, please stop ending your games with a black screen and the sound of a crying baby. Actually, please stop putting crying babies in your games altogether (thinking about you, Armikrog, as much as I'd rather not).

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What Remains of Edith Finch (PC)



Of the five walking simulators I've played so far, Edith Finch lands right smack in the middle. It's no Stanley Parable or The Beginner's Guide, but it's more memorable than Gone Home and leagues beyond Dear Esther, but then again you can recreate the experience of Dear Esther by going to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History's website and fucking around in the virtual tour while listening to an old man say "lucid" every now and then. Edith Finch at least scores points for having interaction with the game world, unlike Dear Esther's "Keep walking until the game ends" mentality.

What Remains of Edith Finch follows a young woman exploring her old family house to find clues on an alleged family curse that condemns everyone to horrible, premature deaths. So how compelling you find the story depends on whether or not you want to watch a series of short snuff films and can remain invested after the fifth or sixth. I will give the game credit for how soul-crushing the story of the brother at the fish cannery was, at least.

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Leisure Suit Larry 5: Passionate Patti Does a Little Undercover Work (PC)



For the uninitiated, I didn't skip Leisure Suit Larry 4, the series goes from Larry 3 to 5 with the explanation being the big baddy of 5 destroyed the master copies of the fourth game.

Starting Leisure Suit Larry 5 wasn't so much a case of "once bitten, twice shy" as "eight times bitten, sixteen times shy" since previous Sierra games conditioned me to be afraid of doing anything because I might end up trapped somewhere because I didn't solve a puzzle on the other side of the game world first, or get shot by walking into a building, or break an item I need later in the game, or maybe the game will just spawn a wolf right on top of me because it's bored. But as far as I can tell in Larry 5, there's no way to die or softlock your game except maybe at the very end of the game if you didn't pick something up as Patti. At least the thing is pretty obvious instead of hidden in a tiny drawer or behind a wall, and there could still be a way to complete the final puzzle without it.

But it's not without Sierra's dickery and moon logic, that's just relegated to optional stuff you can do for score. I restarted the game once because I missed the charger for the camera, then restarted again because I was supposed to stick the tapes in a degaussing machine before I could actually use them. At least you can deduce most of the answers after screwing up and realizing "Oh, that's what the Green Card seller was for" and overall Larry 5 seems to want to put as little between you and the smut as it can while still calling itself an adventure game.

Any time you change locations with Larry you have to purchase a plane ticket by punching in a string of symbols from a code sheet (which I had to print out a copy of from Al Lowe's website because the version that came in the GOG version was the size of a gnat's left bum cheek), and look, after the first time we do this we've proven we own the game, or at least the code sheet, do we really need to keep doing this? And on the subject of stupid shit, did we really need a return of save scumming at a casino?

Also, the constant references to a certain celebrity businessman have not aged well in 2020.

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Camelot (G, Amazon Streaming)



The message of this movie is "Violence is not strength and compassion is not weakness," but it's hard not to come away with the far more cynical "Don't have dreams because other people will tear them apart."

This was adapted from a play which explains a lot of the exaggerated, flamboyant (is that the word I'm looking for?) performances, and why half of its three-hour runtime is singing. And by Jove, the singing. I'm trying to engage with this retelling of the King Arthur myth, focused on an honest king trying to lay out a justice system to best serve his people only to have it shattered by the people he trusts being stupid and scheming behind his back, and then a song would start and I'd completely lose interest. Although there was one scene with Arthur soliloquizing in a dark room, and I could not pay attention to what he was actually saying for a different reason.

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Kirby Star Allies (E, Nintendo Switch)



Star Allies combines turning enemies into allies from Kirby Super Star, the four player co-op from Kirby: Return to Dreamland, and the blandest level design I've ever seen in a Kirby game to create the most boring Kirby game I have ever played. I barely felt like I was contributing anything as my three AI attack dogs ran ahead, tearing up everything that looked at me funny while I stared at the screen confused by the busy scenery and particle effects. Also, there were times it felt like the levels were designed by people who didn't know Kirby could fly, and switches that unlock secret levels should be occasional extras, not a third of the fucking game.

I guess the ice levels are pretty. And the new PSI power that gives Kirby a sideways baseball cap is a cute reference. But the only time the game becomes even remotely engaging is the final boss fight against what looks like the box colossus from Shadow of the Colossus wearing Majora's mask (and thing is called "Void Termina" so I don't think the latter is a coincidence). At least I had to actually do somethinginstead of letting my partners bash their heads against it and reviving them when they fell down.

I died two times in the entire game. The first death was during one of those sections where you and your allies turn into a giant wheel, and I didn't time a jump quite right. The second... I don't even know what happened. I tried entering a door just as a block was sliding in front of it which pushed Kirby out of the way, apparently causing him to have a tantrum and refuse to fly as he went tumbling into a pit.

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