2023-08-25: Stuff I Played Recently: Lost Coast
This post was originally meant to have a long and snarky title, but I feel like the games don't quite have the nicheosity required to pull it off. Next time, though? Using it for SURE, next time is going to be obscure as FUCK.
The first Uriel's Chasm has the dubious honour of being one of the worst rated games on Steam, enjoying a brief moment of fame/notoriety when a couple of semi-big Content Creators™ shat on it some years ago. I haven't played the first Uriel's Chasm, nor the sequel. I skipped straight to the third game. I found it quite an enjoyable experience - it's experimental, it's avant-garde, it has gameplay that feels almost superfluous in the context of its narrative, and it's more like a surrealist horror vignette than a full narrative, but it has a certain je ne sais quoi that made me fond of the hour I spent with it. I don't have the same enthusiasm for Gelshock as I do for many of the other games I put on these lists, but I enjoyed the experience and I respect it as a work of art. I'm not sure if the game will convert many diehard Rail Slave Games haters, but it certainly made me, a total n00b, more willing to try their other games in the future.
Fair warning: Paws of Coal is quite rough
, just in general. I came across enough bugs, some merely cosmetic and others game breaking (though avoidable by taking a different narrative path), that they warranted a mention here. It sucks that I have to say that, because Paws of Coal's writing is very enjoyable and its world is an interesting one. The player character is a scholar (botanist, specifically) in a kingdom of anthropomorphic animals which has recently begun its industrial revolution, and which seems to be entering a period of sociopolitical unrest. You help the local doctor identify the cause of an illness that only seems to affect the rabbit population, with your investigation naturally exposing you to the world, its people, its politics, and its social hierarchies, all written in a surprisingly nuanced and compelling way. Dare I say, it's not entirely dissimilar to Disco Elysium in many ways, though going further in letting you collect clues and deduce conclusions from them. The game seems to be a short prelude of sorts to a bigger, in-development title called Trip the Ark Fantastic, so most of the stuff you learn about the setting is more lore
, but it certainly got me excited.
I don't normally enjoy pure puzzle games. They feel like work to me, mentally draining and not very fun. Lingo is an exception. It's an abstract little (it's actually really big) open ended word puzzle game where the task is to approach various cubes with words written on them, and figure out what the appropriate solution word is. How do you know what the solution is? Well, that depends on the cube's colour, position, size, environment, context, and so on and so forth. I won't spoil anything, because figuring out how these different factors hint towards the solution is a big part of the fun. As I'm writing this, I'm about ten hours into the game, making decent progress through the second level. Realistically, I'm not sure I'll finish the game. It's long, and it's DIFFICULT - some of the puzzles are pretty bullshit for various reasons, but if you ever get stuck on anything you can always leave to explore another part of the winding, interconnected, non-Euclidian Antichamber world, and come back later to with a clear head and new information. It's possibly the most fun I've ever had with a pure puzzle game, though perhaps the solutions would be a bit too loose and ambiguous for diehard puzzle enjoyers.
Orbo's Odyssey is all about speed
. It's a 3D platformer built around two core mechanics, ground pounds and dives, and, long story short, you can go fast as FUCK, zipping around every level at max speed with no regard for momentum, only touching the ground for a microsecond every so often to reset your movement abilities. It's great fun, and the creative stylised visuals, cool music, and goofy sense of humour really make it come together as an experience. It's just a shame it's so fuckin short. Four levels is all you get, and they're not particularly long levels either. There are some secrets to find, but they're not the sort of secrets that reveal much additional gameplay. Still, length aside, it's a top notch game. Hopefully the developer does more with the movement system, because there's a lot of potential here that I don't think was fully explored.
Horror seems to be the genre of choice for indie devs making short game anthologies. Seriously, can you think of a Haunted Demodisc or Dread X style collection of games that isn't'
spooks-themed? Unsorted Horror follows the trend by being a collection of five short horror (thus the name) games based around interacting with machinery in some way. It's a one-man effort so there's a stylistic and thematic consistency that the aforementioned anthologies can't reach, but the actual gameplay varies enough from game to game that it's hard to explain exactly what it is you do. Which is why I won't. Unsorted Horror is free and short, so go try it out yourself.
This list was also going to feature Zortch, but that Civvie guy had to go and make a video about it. The only reasonable explanation for this startling "coincidence" is that he telepathically probed my brain for unpublished game recommendations, the countermeasures for which I will have to urgently research and deploy. If this keeps up it'll REALLY tank my hipster cred, especially after Pseudoregalia popped off like it did. Maybe I need to lay off the new releases.