The Ugly Monster
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The Ugly Monster

Playing Every Game in the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality

PEGBRJE: ‘Manna for our Malices’ and ‘Star and Light’

Oh?

Understandable.

Manna for our Malices is an investigative visual novel by enkiv2, an indie dev based out of the United States. Players will follow the life and times of Akagi Ai, a simple high schooler who just wants to live and swear as she pleases. Unfortunately, one dark night decides to rip that from her, and she finds herself stuck in an infinite loop returning to the day before in the hopes of discovering who kills her — and maybe more.

Players are stuck in a Groundhog Day-like loop after our protagonist is established, meeting her friends and getting stuck cleaning out the classroom after dark before being stabbed. The difference is that her ‘future’ self is stuck within the mind of her past self. This allows both of her selves (as seen above, neither take it well) to reflect on the current events and see how they can be altered.

The introduction of the ‘second voice’ lets Ai change up the day to see what her other friends may be up to or what clues she can find. Each alteration to the story can reveal something new, but not every direction gives useful information on her current predicament . Some reveal more sinister events that may be unfolding within the town itself, or help her understand her friends more.

By continually looping the story, Manna for our Malices lets you find every nook and cranny in the hopes of not only engaging you as a murder mystery enthusiast but also as someone who cares for the characters. Sure, some of them come on a bit strong, but there may be reasons for that. It is not a long experience, fitting snuggly within a 1–2 hour timeframe. It does not overstay its welcome. If you are a fan of this looping mystery style, then this might be a good game to check out. The art style might not be for everyone, so do be aware of that.

Wait, aren’t I also a girl in red? What if I’m saving… myself? Woah.

Star and Light is a narrative puzzle platformer created by K.hermann, a solo indie developer based out of Senegal. Players follow Adhara as she stands guard over a seemingly abandoned temple to Olorun, charged by her parents to save a girl in red from a mysterious Butcher. One day she is visited by a curious fellow named Merak looking for his sister, who just so happens to be wearing red and found her way inside the temple. What could it all mean?

Gameplay wise, players will try to reach the end of each stage by completing the various rooms found within them. Each room’s objective stems from the core gameloop revolving around Deathlight, a state in which the platforms turn when touched for the first time. Each platform can be touched once, turning it orange with the Deathlight, before becoming lethal to Adhara. The door to exit the room will only become orange to ‘leave’ when every platform that can be lit up has been, making each level equal parts platforming and puzzle. Just uncovering how to reach the end is half the battle, as a mixture of horizontal and vertical platforms can be featured within the level.

Outside of this, however, is a plethora of achievements and features that add optional possibilities to the gameplay. Some levels are entirely skippable. Other levels contain items to collect outside of the main puzzle, completing side objectives for those that are found within the temple. There is a lot of lore to be discovered outside of the story itself; all one must do is find it.

I’ve always been upfront in my dislike for platformers, mainly due to my lack in ability. However Star and Light kept me going thanks to its world and plot; I don’t get to see many games delving in to African deities and stories, so this was a completely new field for me. It definitely put me out of my depth, so I can’t really discuss much on that front. It’s best to research that yourself or discuss with others.

Star and Light has so much to offer. It brings back Flash (RIP) to showcase a bunch of different ideas and stories, and you’ll definitely enjoy diving through them if you have any interest in narrative platforming and African folklore.

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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.