The Ugly Monster
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The Ugly Monster

Playing Every Game in the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality

PEGBRJE: Grime & Gaslight and Cats are Liquid — A Better Place

Play a priest with holy water bombs, or a cat that has mastered the three states of matter.

Cozy! Feel right at home.

Grime & Gaslight is a survival horror game created by Nekros Arts, a solo indie dev based out of Germany. Taking the role of a member of the clergy, players will try to rid a small town of a terrifying cult that may have spawned something that mere crosses might not stop.

Inspired by the megahit Slender: The Eight Pages, Grime & Gaslight will have the player blessing twelve crosses within a small Victorian town while avoiding the demon that lurks within. Blessing the crosses takes a bit of time, enough for the sounds of a running creature to echo firmly within the ears and alert of its coming. These crosses are pseudo-randomly placed. This gives failure (or repeated playthroughs) a new meaning as players will need to ensure that each area is searched thoroughly no matter how familiar it may be.

Besides a sturdy pair of legs and a healthy cardiovascular system to outrun the demon, the clergy have gifted the player with four (or three, depending) vials of holy water. These can be tossed at any dark force they come across to send it away temporarily. It cannot kill the dangers, but even a slight reprieve is better than nothing. These vials can be refilled at specific stoups so that players always have the ability to fight back. However this too takes up precious time that could be spent searching for the crosses.

Grime & Gaslight carves out its own path in this genre with its aesthetically charged horror. It doesn’t rely solely on the emptiness and fear of the unknown. Players are in an abandoned town with its own little stories to be discovered. The design and layout of this cursed place gives an indicator on what had happened here, while still instilling fear thanks to the sudden sounds of possible life coming from places best left alone.

There’s a sense of influence from Amnesia, yet it tells no explicit story outside of its premise of blessing and escape. The only exposition is from the smuggler who helped get the priest in to the town in the first place. After that, it is up to the player to find out anything else. That is, of course, if they even wish to stick around long enough to do so.

Armed with the ability to alter the lighting at any time (bless this game for that), Grime & Gaslight does a fantastic job of ensuring the player is thrust in to an aesthetic horror from the start. There are numerous modes to play, depending on your skill and comfort with horror, but the difficulty remains high regardless. Of course, this is all coming from a guy that can’t finish a horror game and usually has to watch someone else do it. Take my opinions on difficulty with a grain of salt.

If you like atmospheric horror games that actively let you run from your problems and throw water at them, this might be what you are looking for.

I THOUGHT THIS WAS GUNNA BE CUTE WHAT IS THIS NIGHTMARE

Last Quarter Studios is back with a sequel in Cats are Liquid — A Better Place, a 2D squish platformer. Continuing the adventures from the last title, players are a cat searching for her friends only to realize that sometimes being alone can be just as important. Oh, and it’s really scary. We’ll get to that.

As the title implies, the cat is able to manipulate her adorable body into the three standard states of matter; solid, liquid and gas. The default is a ‘solid’, able to climb walls and make cute jumping noises while rolling around the levels avoiding the angry spikes.

At the touch of a button, the cat can become liquid-like, increasing her speed and allowing her to squish under small areas to continue the adventure. This is also extremely important for making difficult jumps that need a bit more speed, as well as causing her to fall at a rapid pace out of the air to dodge possible projectiles.

Finally, she can become a gas, allowing her to float in place, unable to move until she returns to a solid or liquid. Air currents can carry her away though, and she is able to fit through walls that would have been impossible for her liquid self.

These three states make up the general gameplay challenges, as the levels are designed for fluid switching between the three to make jumps and find the door at the end. Switching states is extremely easy regardless of input device. This keeps that flow state swimming along. Even getting hit by spikes doesn’t necessarily interrupt it — players get a few i-frames and can continue forward as if nothing happened. Well, outside the horrific cat noise that will make any sane person sad.

A Better Place is not so much about the challenges of platforming as it is about what built this world in the first place; the imaginations of the cat and her friends. In the first game it was about self-realization and meeting friends, understanding that she is in this strange new world and what she is capable of. This time, she has a better understanding of what creates the worlds and rooms, yet finds herself constantly without those that she befriended.

Whenever something occurs, she begins to question whether or not those she surrounded herself with are truly there for her, or if she is clinging on to something that does not even exist. The game taps in to that unspoken yet permanently underlying fear of abandonment. Each level reinforces her lack of understanding of why her friends are not with her right now. It becomes so much darker and more bleak than what the aesthetic advertises.

This is the conundrum of Cats are Liquid — A Better Place, a cutesy game with a depressing and anxiety-filled narrative of just trying to keep your friends. Our little friend explores what it means to be alone, whether she chooses to or if it is by circumstance, and fight through both to come out the other side. The warning did state this game would include darker elements, but I don’t think one can truly prepare for how sad it can feel to watch our little cat feel so alone. Hopefully, her smile will help you through the 120 rooms — 30 more than the last time. They’re short, and hopefully you can use the new powers to reach the end and find a happier ending.

I’m going to go hug my cat now, thanks.

Lin- great I’m sad now.

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Jacob Vorstenbosch

Jacob Vorstenbosch

Just a Game Dev who decided to take on the monumental task of giving an overview of all 59 pages in the bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. We keep going.