My April was full of project work and travel, so I didn’t play many games last month. But while I was on one of my flights, I did delve a little bit into a couple of great games available on Apple Arcade.
I’ve started playing Mutazione (developed by Die Gute Fabrik), which imagines a future in which a meteor has struck Earth, causing a percentage of humans to mutate. The group of these folks live peacefully on a beautiful island, called Mutazione. The story focuses on a young woman who travels to the island to visit her ailing grandfather and get to know the residents who have become his family.
This is a charming, chill game, mostly involving exploring the island and talking to people to get to know them and occasionally help them out with their personal struggles. In addition, the game involves some gardening, with the player using specific music to help the plants grow faster. This act of gardening is a crucial aspect of supporting the community, and it’s fun to select plants to create an aesthetically pleasing garden, based on its location.
I’m several hours in an having a good time exploring. It’s a great game for a relaxing time, just sitting back and getting to know this world. I’m definitely interested in playing more and learning more about these characters and their stories.
I also dipped my toes into Fantasian, a Japanese-style RPG developed by Mistwalker (based in Hawaii). The art style is rather beautiful and it seems like it could have a fun story — however, I’m not vibing with turn-based combat right now, so I’m putting this one aside after only playing for about an hour.
Over the past couple of months, I’ve continued to love playing games on my phone using my backbone controller. The controller works great. and there are so many fantastic games available through Gamepass Cloud Streaming — this, combined with the fact that using my PS5 means I have to sit in an office chair in another room, rather than curled up comfortably on my couch, means that I’ve been opting for playing games on my phone.
Anyway, here are all the games I played over the last two months.
Signalis is a survival horror game developed by rose-engine. In the game, you play as Elster, a Replika technician of a small scouting starship. When the ship crashes on an unknown planet, Elster awakes from her cryochamber (at least that’s what I assume it is) and begins to look for her missing Gestalt partner, Ariane.
I was gifted a Backbone for Christmas, which is essentially a controller that attaches to your phone. Along with providing better controls when playing on my phone, the Backbone also came with a month of Xbox Gamepass, which has provided me access to a number of indie and small games that I might not have been able to play otherwise. It’s been a great month of games.
Pentiment is a narrative-driven adventure game from Obsidian Entertainment. Set in 16th century in the fictional town of Tassing, Bavaria, the game centers on Andreas Maler, an illuminator (artist) working at the local Abbey. When a murder of a prominent noble occurs, Andreas begins an investigation in the name of helping a friend. The player is able to wander around the town, interviewing various characters in an attempt to get at the truth — despite the fact that there never seems to be enough time and the answers seem hard to unravel.
One of the many things that makes this game so compelling to me is how it presents various perspectives on the truth (eliminating any clear objectivity) and how it deals with the passage of time. As the title hints at (a pentiment is an underlying image or forms that have been painted over), the “truth” is often a layering of stories and time.
Let me be real: 2022 was another tough year in a variety of ways that I won’t get into. Lately, I’ve been trying to focus on the things I’m grateful for, rather than dwelling on the negatives. So, please allow me to highlight some of the fantastic, wonderful, and exciting things that I experienced or discovered over this last year.
2. . . . and all of that hard work paid off, since the games I made earlier in the year helped me snag my first freelance work in the games industry. I am currently working a contract writer for Lost Lake Games on a project I can tell you nothing about.
And I am also working with Patrick Knisely, a solo dev in charge of One Frog Games. Together, we are working on building the story, world, and scenes, which will be incorporated into the gameplay for a platforming game tentatively titled Monochrome Heights (play the demo).
3. I sold my fourth poetry chapbook, titled Necessary Poisons, which will be published by Interstellar Flight Press later this year. I’ve been working on this collection of strange little poems since 2016, and I’m so grateful and delighted that it has finally found a home. (A cover reveal and release date will be be coming soon.)
Over the past year or so, I’ve been trying to reach outside of my comfort zone and play a greater of variety of games. In addition to my usual RPG, puzzle platformer, and adventure games, this year, I also dipped my toes into the roguelike, community management, and simulation genres. Expanding in this way has led to some amazing discoveries in terms of gameplay and the ways in which games can tell stories — and I’ve found some new favorites along the way.
As of writing this, there are a couple of games I’m currently playing that might have made the list, if I was closer to completion, including Somerville and 2018’s God of War. They may just end up on next year’s list.