It's actually wild how talented some people are with bitsy

When it comes to Square Enix, you never know if you're going to get something like the Portopia Serial Murder Case demo...or something absolutely wonderful like Paranormasight. This was geninuely an absolute delight to play through!
Although there are moments of characters recollecting information you already know just like every other VN, the pacing is generally very good with the snappy 10-12 run time. The characters are compelling (Tsutsumi, Harue and Richter were my biggest faves <3) and geninuely make it hard to choose who's path you wanna go down first. There's a lot of really quirky gimmicks with the 360 environment rotation and some meta elements, however they do take a bit of a backseat after the more horror focused first chapter. It is a bit disappointing but I think the rest of the game is strong enough to make up for it
Honestly, my only issue is that the true ending may be a bit disappointing or feel rushed, but I mean, at this point, I kinda expect that from Visual Novels hghdahsdjas

I was at an anime convention with a mini Sega CD in the console rooms and one of the ROMs on it was this, which I've always been curious about. Some teenagers behind me were like "oh that console's for sonic, look at the logo, segaaaa" and I then felt mortified because I had Not Loaded Up Sonic
Anyway, I had no idea how to play this because the TV had sun glare and barely any audio


It's pretty fun but I got kinda depressed when I realized I did much better by just repeatedly moving in a clockwise rotation than I did thinking about each individual move lol

A really sweet ball of early 2000s internet cringe (and i mean that in a good sincere way) tied to a good story and fun characters
The mechanical side of things is a bit wonky in places - there were a few bugs (ie messages not coming through and locking me out of progress), a few times I'd pick choices I didn't mean to progress text, and due to its presentation, you can't really speed up text which makes things a little slow in places (especially if you reload after picking a choice you're not happy and have to redo stuff). Overall, this didn't affect my enjoyment too much though

Let's get the negatives out of the way:
- game is incredibly poor at explaining objectives, and flat out doesn't tell you what to do. I think I might've thrown my first few family games because I didn't understand the car batteries. Even as someone who enjoys learning these types of games as I play and finding techs out for myself, it's a little too much imo....especially in a world where google is completely shit up with seo slurry articles lol
- the skill/progression system is horrid. You collect skill points that are shared between all characters, but levelling up slows down hard after you reach level 10. This means you'll initially start levelling up a character really fast and soon hit a wall, meaning if you need to play another character, they'll probably be underlevelled. This is also a pain because only one person can pick each character, so players leave lobbies a lot. That being said, respeccing is free which is nice but also means this choice of system is even more bizarre lol
- You can't do inventory/skill management while finding a match, but you can during the pre-game lobby, which has a maximum timer of five minutes. Because people can't do their skills while finding a match, they're going to do it now, meaning it's pretty slow to get into the game
- Victims are really overwhelming and there's no three hook state system like DBD. You can die REAL fast if you encouter the family so if you're playing with friends and struggling, you can spend most of the evening spectating instead of actually playing. Spectating in this game can still be pretty fun and tense but the novelty can wear off
Now, all that being said, push past an ungodly amount of liveservice horseshit and the core gameplay is honestly really fun - family especially - with a decent amount of depth and skill expression on both sides. The vibes are also great as well, with the game being geninuely kinda scary as a victim.

An absolutely wonderful little game. Deconstructeam have become some of my favourite game devs, with their focus on unconventional narrative experiences with a heavy queer and left leaning focus. From their small game jam projects to full releases like this, I always get something out of it and walk away with a lot to think about
Honestly, my main hangup (and I recognize this absolutely might be own my feelings of insecurity and invisibilty in queer spaces) is that it feels a bit alienating towards transmasc people, like another review mentioned. The game explicitly mentions that witches can only be women and non binary, and there's a plotline about a trans woman being a witch that I thought was sweet but also recognize that it's not my place to judge since I know some negative reviews weren't happy with it - but the game skirts around the idea of transmasc people existing, while it's awkwardly sitting in my mind and it just felt a bit cruddy. I guess in a way it can't mention them? I could go into the way "women and non binary only" spaces exist in real life, and usually serve as a way to alienate certain groups, but that may be reading too deep into things. Either way, there were only a few scenes where I felt this got in the way of enjoyment and am mostly able to push it aside
The writing here is so fun and powerful. Some might say it's cheesy but for me, it really works. Although it will often give you small glimpses and vignettes into its world, rather than super in depth looks, but I kinda love that because it feels like poetry
I think it's worth noting that the second half of the game is more of a political campaign sim, where you allocate people to tasks and try to influence others, which I did not expect. It isn't bad or anything, but I do think I preferred the first half of the game. Simply talking to witches, creating cards and reading fortunes were strong enough mechanics by themselves that they would have worked for the full game thanks to the high quality/intriguing enough writing

A bit of a mixed bag - especially in the second half - but honestly, I had a really fun time with this and basically got what I wanted from it
Ryuki is my new skrunkly

If I paid 50 quid for this and/or was hoping for a good singleplayer story experience, I'd be pretty upset with Exoprimal - but I'm playing it through gamepass and am admittedly a grindy liveservice game sicko that enjoys managing cooldowns and seeing numbers go up
And from that perspective, I honestly really like Exoprimal lol it's a nice alternative when my friends and I are feeling a bit tired of Overwatch or the other games we play. It's a bit visually overstimulating at first with the sheer amount of horseshit that's on screen but you do slowly get used to it. The characters have some good variety and depth to them which is one of the main things I'm looking for
That being said, I can't deny that the game is kind of a mess if you think about it. It really does seem to be trying to merge a singleplayer story game with a f2p liveservice experience, and will no doubtly alieniate a ton of people who are only looking for one of those. If you're here for the story, you'll probably find grinding the same gameplay over and over again fairly boring, and if you're here for that grind/minmax, you might be skipping all the cutscenes while feeling like matches take too long to get started
In summary though, check it out in you have game pass or see it on sale but I would absolutely NOT recommend paying £50 for it

This review contains spoilers

In a way, I wish I could give this a netural Steam rating instead of negative because there ARE many moments of brilliance reminicent of the first game scattered through out - but ultimately, I can't really think of a reason why this sequel exists, besides just wanting more of the same and if that's what you want, good on ya
If you haven't played the first game, there's no point in playing this, because it relies heavily on events from it, while also being a much worse story/game. If you HAVE played the first one and already understand most of the mystery, did you really think an ending that intentionally and powerfully played with themes of purgatory in delicate manner needed further conclusion?
There's also a lot of technical hiccups that made the experience much more frustrating than it needed to be, which absolutely soured my mood and left me harsher than I otherwise would be. Note - there are NEVER autosave points where you'd think they would be. Let's say the protagonists are in a house and have a confrontation with people. You go through a 5-10 minute sequence, there's some gameplay, lots of dialogue etc and it's eventually wrapped up. The other people leave and our protagonists have a moment where they decide where to go next and exclaim that they should start heading over there now. You would think that's a decent place to quit the game - but nope, I had to redo the entire previous sequence :( now imagine this happening again lol
That's also not counting the handful of sequences I had to redo because things bugged out - like characters no longer being able to move. When I restarted after that, a radio conversation I had just had with Olivia never played? I had Jacob get stuck running in place at one point. Radio conversations reset themselves sometimes. Characters would ask questions they'd already asked before or knew the answer to. Certain action prompts like climbing ropes occasionally feel sticky - once I was required to stand in a pixel perfection position to climb a rope and I was like ohhh my god no dont tell me the game has bugged AGAIN (and at least this one time it hadn't)
The story and characters are....kind of a complete mess? Not an entirely bad mess, I'll grant you that. Riley and Jacob can be quite enjoyable - although, the relationship between them isn't super balanced, as Jacob will be the one that speaks/rambles while Riley interjects a lot less. It makes a lot more sense if you think of Jacob as having ADHD, which he's quite hard coded as imo. But anyway, I noticed this has already been pretty decisive in the other reviews. There are other characters scattered about on the radio who range from enjoyable and interesting (Nick!) to not really anything to uhhh well I completely missed one of them apparently lol
The story unfortunately didn't click with me, mostly because the antagonists are either 1. just stuff from the first game, which I'll admit is still really cool but also nothing new and 2. these really really boring and dull hollow teenagers. I'm not surprised that 80% of players let Olivia stay behind because why the fuck wouldn't you lol? She's a nothing character and WANTS it. We really don't interact with her much over the course of the game and the moments she is nice are so shallow and quickly over that they leave no impact, meaning it's a disappointingly easy choice. When I realized where things were going, I stopped picking dialogue choices and just let Riley be silent to avoid Olivia changing her mind lol
I just sorta feel like I was being pulled along for the ride with the plot, probably not helped by the main structure being "okay we need you to go to these 3 places to put down things and doing that will probably fix everything!". I just would have liked a bit more motivation and personal investment in things, I guess
So at one point, Alex and characters from the first game show up and fair play, it's initially really cool!! but then Alex just kinda immediately cowards out of her initial menacing demenor and is suddenly on our side? And it's just really whiplashy and undermines the point of her being here, basically relegating her to fanservice support piece imo
I realize this is a Me Being Dumb thing but I also found navigating the island so fucking tedious. I got lost a few times and having to backtrack with mildly slow characters with mildly finnicky button prompts really took it out of me. Listen, Jacob spending 10 minutes talking about his favourite yoghurt or whatever might be boring as shit, but it beats the long stretches of empty silence I got while backtracking across the map lol
The thing with a game like this, I ended up googling "oxenfree 1 plot summary" about a quarter of the way in to refresh my memory on some things and upon reading it, I was like "oh man, the first game did have a really fucking cool mystery....I wish this game had that". When you, as a sequel, rely so heavy on the first product, you're inviting the audience to make comparisons, which is a dangerous game because it's very easy for them to end up wishing they were playing that instead. In fact, I think this might've ended up stronger with less ties to the original game, where it could stand more on its own merit
I did really wanted to enjoy this - the beginning is really strong!!! the spooky moments are awesome!!! the visuals/audio are generally great!! but in terms of cohersion, "mess" is the only word I have to describe it

Hmm, maybe I didn't fully figure things out but controls/everything felt a bit stiff :c

A solid gamepass co op roguelike - kinda janky, not super balanced but a good switch off game that tickles the part of the brain that enjoys seeing a number go up

Not only does this Visual Novel try something very unique, but it completely succeeds in doing so - an incredible short experience that I was extremely impressed with

I've been playing this with friends on game pass and man, it's just so hollow and empty and boring. I'll give a star for James Urbaniak's voice acting though, since he clearly put some effort in