Tender Frog House
released on May 06, 2020
A wholesome one-day prototype.
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Short Version: If I ever have to read a visual novel with #00FF00 green as the sole background again, I'm going to strangle something.
Slightly Longer Version: On one hand, everything this game is saying is mostly true, if delivered in a dry manner. Capitalism is a hellscape and the commodification of any and every style or state of being is something to be cognizant of, even (if not especially) when it becomes frightfully untenable to separate capitalist meddling from "earnest expression" (whatever that supposedly means).
I don't think the way to deliver that message is through a stoic diatribe quoting verbose philosophers and using terminology that no-one will understand unless you have the specific knowledge of the author. For how much the text absolutely loves to relish in the (warranted) skepticism of 'new sincerity', it equally eschews any form of accessibility, almost as if to intentionally stifle and out-word any form of questioning that comes from it. I think that there is a good reason people dismiss this as a 'twitter thread visual novel', it presents the same austere and unrelenting tiredness as one to the uninitiated.
TL;DR: Sometimes, dumbing it down is a good thing,
doesn't feel like something i can really rate properly since it's effectively just a self-thread on a green background rather than on a blue one or a grey one.
i think as a lot of people here have said, some of the points in here do seem based in a number of senses but it's just disappointing that this experience amounts to being what it is. the brevity of it doesn't exactly help fix the sense of nothing that the piece gives in return for the time it takes to read through. even though some of the things that are said are interesting or agreeable to some extent, they also don't feel as if they're actually articulating much in themselves and don't feel particularly nuanced so much as ranty. quotes from other people substituting for the creator's own thoughts left me more disappointed than curious.
at least maybe this form of presentation is meant to a way of getting the word out more about these ideas since people might be more likely to find this than a random thread on a social media platform...? regardless, as implied above it's all told in a condescending enough way that i'm not sure if people would want to take to it very much at all even if they did find it
edit: I took a look at some of what the creator of this has said about its creation and it turns out it seems it wasn't really intended for the public to find en masse! darn. can't really forgive the presentation nearly as much in that sense, then. eh, whatever.
i like to call games such as toem and here comes niko "pseudo saccharine". i also label them as "wife's boyfriend bought me-core". they're (probably) usually made from a place of goodwill, but there's something frustratingly disingenuous and toothless about it nonetheless. kinda like the idea of eating pixy stix for nutritional value
naturally, i'm totally open to making fun of these things
but holy shit - you cannot just assert your message by writing a stilted, overly long discord conversation with yourself and padding it out via long ass philosopher quotes. i've never disagreed more vehemently with something i fully agreed with
don't even disagree but can you shut the fuck up
both the browser and the download version crashed at the mine, which is a problem almost everyone seems to be having as well. who cares
Making a point in the worst way possible
It's easy to criticize anything and everything, Tender Frog House takes this idea and keeps hammering the nail past the wooden plank, past the floor and past the actual earth itself to the point you actually lose touch what the whole thing was to begin with.
At first, bringing criticisms to the "twee" or the "comfy" genre of games felt like the one thing the creator of the game had going for it in terms of their own ideas until they kept constantly quoting other people and losing the point later on. It just feels like a lot is being said but nothing from the heart or substantial is coming out. I will say you should always have the freedom to speak your mind and have your own opinions on things because that's how passionate discussion about the medium we all love as video games comes to be but it doesn't feel like I learned anything at all with the thirty minutes I spent on this title. All of this while satirizing the games you're criticizing as hell spawn. I got no personal vendetta against the main point since I'm not a fan of the genre being criticized but you need to stand on your own two feet and not rely on quotes that make it feel an AI wrote the whole script for your games because that's how it feels. Soulless and wasting data. I will say I don't inherently completely disagree with some of the points being made but you can put some effort until making those points that isn't just extremely floaty text that makes it hard to read like come on dude, you can't just put the whole fucking paragraph there of what Adorno said and expect me to read it especially when it's cut off like that.
This is also accompanied by a quickly grating midi piano piece and even from a technical side, the game crashed twice with the web version and the downloaded version with having no option but to skip dialogue to get to where I was again. I get having a save feature or some safety net is moot on a game like this but when all there is to the game is clicking a text box, something has got to give.
I'm usually not this negative when it comes to games and especially when it's a single person project, video games are hard to make. It just feels like this game wants to make a point in the most obnoxious and condescending way possible with quotes from people I haven't even heard of until today. It doesn't even narrow in on anything and just veers off the deep end and can easily lose anyone trying to understand what the game is trying to say. Only a deep curiosity will get you to play this game or someone wanting you to experience this "game" and I'd probably just avoid this and play something else. You can either play this or a game of Dota 2 and I hate to say this but I'm preferring the latter.