Cover art for Afterparty via http://nightschoolstudio.com/afterparty/

Rather than portraying a typically bleak and solemn underworld, Afterparty presents an upbeat, colorful, and party-filled Hell. Coming from Night School Studio, Afterparty is a choice-driven adventure mixed with both witty and endearing writing. Players can easily make the creative connection between this game and Oxenfree, Night School’s debut game. Ultimately, the plot of the game follows a pair of best friends trying to escape Hell, by out-drinking Satan. To enhance the mysterious, alcohol-fueled atmosphere, Afterparty has an intelligent conversation system and various mini-game components that have varying levels of impact on your story.


Cover art via http://kafkagame.blogspot.com/

The second game from indie developer Denis Galanin, The Franz Kafka Videogame innovatively takes inspiration from the works of Franz Kafka to create a unique point-and-click puzzle adventure game. Having read a few of Franz Kafka’s stories, the idea of a videogame based on Kafka’s brand of literature very quickly caught my interest. His writings mostly focus on magical realism and fantasy to explore themes of absurdity, alienation, existential anxiety, and guilt. Kafka was influenced highly by his father’s overbearing and creatively stifling upbringing, lifelong anxieties, and many more of his own experiences, so I wanted to see how someone…


Cover art via https://store.steampowered.com/app/115110/Stacking/

Released by Double Fine Productions on March 6, 2012, Stacking approaches the adventure puzzle genre in an artistic and unique way: stacking Russian matryoshka dolls. Set in an industrial era, all the characters in this world are matryoshka dolls. As they provide the defining visuals and key mechanics of the game, the design of these nesting dolls is skillfully intertwined with the visual storytelling and meaningful gameplay of Stacking.


The title screen of Kind Words

Kind Words (lo-fi chill beats to write to) was developed by Popcannibal and released on Sep 12, 2019, amassing overwhelmingly positive reviews. Kind Words very quickly shows that it’s not a traditional game. Instead, it provides more of an experience, one that focusses on the kindness of humanity and how we as people can be so incredibly nice to each other. Nothing complex or mechanically innovative happens; you just send out and receive mail, collecting and sharing stickers along the way. But with such a simple context, it’s still able to emphasize the caring nature of humanity.


via http://www.grimremastered.com/

Grim Fandango was originally released in 1998 by LucasArts, but Double Fine Productions acquired the game’s licensing and released a remastered version in January 2015. The game follows the adventure of Manny Calavera as he travels throughout the Land of the Dead, trying to find justice for the souls whose tickets to the Ninth Underworld have been stolen. Highlights of the remastering include upgraded graphics, modified controls, and a re-orchestrated score. Although I never played the original, Grim Fandango Remastered allows you to switch between the improved and original graphics; you are also able to play through the game using…


Entering the Battlefield Aftermath

A Plague Tale: Innocence follows the journey of a young girl named Amicia trying to save her little brother Hugo from a genetic illness; set in Aquitaine, France from 1348 to 1349, the siblings are right in the middle of three major historical events: the Black Plague, the Hundred Years’ War, and the Medival Inquisition. All of these heavily impact the game’s narrative, some in more obvious ways than others. …


Inspired by the iconic Blair Witch horror series, Blooper Team SA released the Blair Witch video game at the end of August 2019. With the name of such a well-recognized film franchise attached, expectations for this game to be innovative and interesting were set fairly high. Thematically, Blair Witch offers an apt presentation of PTSD as a war veteran and former policemen, but it also has some unique game mechanics. While you can easily recall similar uses in other video games, the Blair Witch mechanics involving the dog Bullet are the most notable and emotionally impacting.


via https://store.steampowered.com/app/762830/Telling_Lies/?curator_clanid=33027628

Telling Lies is an investigative thriller created by Sam Barlow. As the successor to Barlow’s Her Story, Telling Lies reveals secret footage from four connected people across two years of their lives; the player uses keywords to search the video database and watches them for more directive hints to extrapolate keywords that further reveal the plot. The database and laptop designs definitely work well at drawing players further into the game and further suspending a sense of disbelief while playing.


Children are much more capable of comprehending abusive or neglectful situations than many adults might assume. This is a key message that Killmonday Games’ Little Misfortune presents. Released September 18, 2019, Little Misfortune follows one adventurous day of eight-year-old Misfortune Ramirez Hernandez. An unreliable and strange guide called Mr. Voice offers Misfortune the prize of Eternal Happiness if she beats his game. Throughout her journey to find the Eternal Happiness, Misfortune reveals a lot of information about her family and home life, none of it particularly positive. While the main story arch of Little Misfortune is a young girl’s search…


via https://steamcommunity.com/app/743450/screenshots/

Monster Prom is a dating sim that allows you to form relationships with various monsters, ultimately working toward asking one to attend Monster Prom with you. Specifically looking at the datable characters, Beautiful Glitch put a lot of time and effort into creating their game’s protagonists. Specifically, each characters’ name has references to their personalities or nods toward their type of monster, full of unique quirks and pop-cultural associations. …

Rachael Versaw

Software Engineering Major | Game Development Minor — I write about game design and recently have started contributing tech articles to my college newspaper.

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