My year in games – Part 4 (Oct-Dec)

And we’ve reached the end of 2020 with only four games to go. So, what was I playing…?

Here’s links to the other parts: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4



I don’t normally play 2D platformers any more. Back in the day I was a huge Super Mario fan, but modern indie platformers tend to be masochistic exercises in self-flagellation, requiring the hand-eye coordination of a surgeon combined with the reflexes of a fighter pilot. And then there are the ones that are procedurally generated… ugh!

However, I tried this one out because it has properly designed levels and comes with a range of accessibility features you can turn on and off as you please. And it turns out that it is very well designed, and does get quite challenging, but in a way that always pushes you to learn more of the moves and improve your ability. And many difficult screens are optional anyway, meaning you can test yourself if you want to collect a bonus heart, or you can just pass it by if you want to focus on progressing through the game. So, overall, it was nice to play a platformer that wasn’t punishing me for not being 12 any more.

Score: Hearts With Wings out of Ghostly Hoteliers


Ever wanted to know if you are really human? Try holding your breath for ten minutes and you’ll soon find out. But the real Turing Test involves creating a computer program or AI that can hold a conversation with you to a point you wouldn’t be able to tell it’s not human.

This game only uses this test as a theme, and is actually a first-person puzzle game, one of several that came out in the shadow of Portal. I skipped this until it went very cheap in a Steam sale, and found it much more enjoyable than I thought I would. In fact I ended up finding every secret and 100%-ing the game ( humblebrag 🙂 ).

You play Ava Turing, an engineer for the International Space Agency, who is tested (see what they did there?) when she is awoken from cryosleep and sent down to investigate the lack of communication from their base on Jupiter’s moon, Europa. It turns out that the other scientists have repurposed the prefabricated construction parts of the base and built a series of puzzle rooms that only a human being has the creativity to solve. But why have they done this, and is it anything to do with your slightly creepy AI companion T.O.M.?

It has a nice balance of difficulty, and is constantly introducing new puzzle elements instead of beating old ones to death, which means it feels fresh all the way through. A surprise like for me!

Score: Power Cores out of A room, but removing that core disables the exit door meaning you can’t get out, but there is a small hole in the wall which reveals a power socket, and if you fire the power core into that, it powers up an energy bridge, which…



As I am currently making a detective game, I thought I would have to play some other ones for research. Ah yes, “research” 🙂 I had read many good reviews about the Sherlock Holmes games in general, and this one specifically, and so far I’m liking it.

So, in the Victorian era there is this man called Sherlock Holmes, who is pretty intelligent, and works with the police to… OK, I think I can skip the introduction for these characters! This game features a collection of cases, the first one being the grisly impaling of an old sailor on a whaling hook, the second the disappearance of a train as it is heading towards your platform, the third a murder in a roman baths, and so on. The way it logs evidence and never forces you down a specific train of thought is quite clever. It has a ‘deduction board’ which represents clues as ideas that you can link together to create theories. The more evidence you find from investigating a scene or interrogating a witness or suspect, the more ideas start to populate this board. It is entirely up to you how you interpret each clue, and there are often several possible theories for each case. Ultimately it is up to you to decide which theory is the most likely, and then you also get to choose a moral outcome, e.g. turning someone in to the police or warning them they had better flee the country.

I have yet to get to the point where your choices in previous cases start to affect the later ones (which is a very cool thing that the game does), but it is ingeniously well done as it really makes you feel like you are cracking each case yourself.

Score: Just don’t look through the telescope.



Another detective game on my “research” list, and it couldn’t be much more different from the last one. *deep breath* You play Lady Love Dies, an “investigation freak” who was exiled for 3 million days after she was enticed by a God, a criminal offence on Paradise Island, an endlessly regenerating synthetic reality floating through the void, powered by a reality drive given as a gift by a different God (now dead). Suddenly, your investigation computer Starlight boots up and allows you back into the island, which is number 24 – Island 25 is ready and waiting for the immortal inhabitants to move to, but the entire ruling council has just been murdered in a room that only they have access to, and as the only person who wasn’t on the island at the time, you are given the task of uncovering the murderer so that Island 24 can finally die. *exhale*

This plays as a cross between a first-person exploration game, where you search for evidence, and a visual novel where you interrogate the suspects, all the while adding more information to your database on Starlight. Yes, it is quite deliberately strange, but not annoyingly so, as it has a consistent internal logic. And there are so many threads and motives that eventually everyone feels like they could be the killer, but that’s the joy of it! Anyone could be the killer, but it’s up to you to tease out the truth from the web of secrets and conspiracies.

There are some negatives though. For the first couple of hours you will feel like you are being pulled unwillingly down a raging river, with characters talking about the sacrifice to open Island 25, blood crystals, gods hidden in the giant pyramids surrounding the island, drinks machines talking to you and giving you clues, Nightmare Computers and the most bizarre cast of characters I have ever met. But, by the time you get through the rapids, you will be gladly letting the torrent pull you onwards to the sea, as you fling yourself off the top of a demon containment unit covering an entire high-rise of apartments to reach a blood crystal perched on the edge of a cliff.

Score: A Subtle Whisky out of The Tears Of A God

And there we have it, all the games I played this tumultuous year! Some were distractions, some were research, and most were pretty good.

Hope you have a Happy New Year and that there are better times, and many more games, ahead of us 🙂

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4