The Ugly Monster
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The Ugly Monster

Playing Every Game in the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality

PEGBRJE: ‘ring ring’ and ‘warm’

Opposite Emotional Intentions

Get those gains mate.

‘ring ring’ is a small experimental horror game created by hiloqo, an indie squad of five from France. Players will find themselves unearthing a curious phone from the beach. The curiousity to see if it still works soon takes hold. If modern movies have taught us anything, however, it is that one should never use anything found on a beach.

The gameplay of ‘ring ring’ is simple; operate a rotary phone to dial four numbers and speak to whomever picks up the phone. Once a call is made, a voice will respond to discuss whatever it is they wish to say before the phone goes back to the disconnected dial tone. After a few calls, if the player is still around, someone will call them to discuss poetry, and this is where the unsettling feeling begins.

Without spoiling too much, it becomes clear that the phone should not work without a cable, but there are definitely people talking through it somehow. Whatever happens, the player will have to decide if their curiousity is worth the risk.

While a horror game, ‘ring ring’ has no need for jump scares to make you uncomfortable with the choice to continue. It sucks you in with how mundane each conversation is. You nearly forget that you have the power to just hang up at any time.

The grainy imagery adds to the suspense that builds with every call. The sound design is simple but effective. This is a really short game, however; both endings can be acquired within a half hour at most, which is why I call it experimental. You’ll want more by the time you hang it up for good. That alone is an achievement. If you want a short horror game, this is perfect.

Ah, guilt-tripping eleven year olds, a classic.

warm’ is a visual novel created ButterflyLatte. Players will step in to the shoes of Megumi Shimizu, eleven years old and class leader many years in a row. Secluded from many of her classmates, Megumi takes each day with a grain of salt. That is, until a transfer student arrives to tell her that the world may not be as cold as she once thought.

As visual novels go, ‘warm’ opts for a more literal approach to the genre. There are no ‘decisions’ to worry about; players will read and watch the story as it unfolds rather than make any significant alterations to it. Megumi, our protagonist, is a relatively mature girl who takes on many responsibilities for her classroom at the cost of her ability to ‘socially interact’. I put this in air quotes as she is perfectly capable in her speech, but finds people difficult to understand and relate to. This gives her that cold and aloof stereotype, distancing her from her classmates and giving her a viewpoint as someone watching from the outside.

Speaking as one who has interacted with many children, to say that she is one of the younger people to have an existential crisis while discussing the monotony of life would be an understatement. I’m able to relate to her as a twenty something, but if I were an eleven year old I could definitely see why many students may perceive her as strict and ‘boring’.

It is at the introduction of the transfer student Hinata that the story begins to bloom in to something more, thanks mostly to Hinata’s plucky personality. She’s upbeat, fast paced and wants to meet and talk with people. She wants to make friends in this new town, and Megumi helped her out so she is an obvious candidate. It’s a tried and true dynamic for novels about friendships, but ‘warm’ decides to go a step further and highlight the emotional journeys of both as they bond. Neither girl have had it entirely easy in their lives, yet have turned out nearly polar opposites because of it. I even felt bad for Hinata at Megumi’s insistence of being deadpan, as she just wanted to make a friend.

If I could summarize this game, the title would suffice; it is warm. It’s a cozy experience about young girls bonding while dealing with loneliness, bullying, and the surreal world of the pre-teens. It isn’t a super long novel, and it can be a bit odd seeing as Megumi’s inner thoughts remind me of a 20-something, but its soft art style mixed with soothing music makes it a comfy adventure. Curl up with some hot cocoa and dive in.

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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.

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