PEGBRJE: Monster Pub Chapter 2 and Thing-in-Itself

I normally use gifs, but this time… I feel like this is just so much BETTER.

Monster Pub makes its return for Chapter 2, created once again by Alex Ilitchev. Our shadowy self-insert protagonist returns to the Monster Public House the next night of their own volition, seeing familiar faces once again to catch up with and share new stories. That or just really play a bunch of card games again.

Nothing has changed since the last installment of Monster Pub, which is to be expected as this is a narrative adventure split into three chapters. Players can wander around the bar, finding those that wanted to make small talk and those that wished to catch up on their conversations from the previous night. Players can import their previous chapter information if they so choose to, as that will influence slightly how the characters react (based on the decisions made last time). I decided against it to see how they would react, and I was pleasantly surprised to know that they didn’t suddenly forget me or something. Instead, they assumed that the conversation last time had gone adequately and that we as the player was back to continue where we left off. As before, conversations will have queued moments where players will choose between two answers, with some resulting in a positive or negative reaction. Not every answer gives a significant reaction, so don’t worry about it if no strong emotional symbols are created.

Of course, some may be back simply because they wish to play cards and I can’t really blame them. Sandwiches and Samson are a fun duo of games to play with the others, and since every heart has them reacting to how the game is going it adds some flavour to the tension. Unlike last time, I decided to ensure I would win regardless of whether or not a certain bovine individual gave off very strong ‘let me win or else’ vibes, which thankfully didn’t end in the little monster’s death. I’m still uncertain as to the possibility of simply losing every card game creating a different atmosphere with the individuals, but anything is possible. I forgot to mention this last time, but I really love the different sets of cards that each monster has on hand. They each reflect on not only the individual themselves, but also contain little bits of personality within them. Argon especially took me by surprise as their cards had Argon’s face scribbled out on the face cards, cementing the disdain for what occurred in the past. It’s a nice touch to add some narrative flair while playing a game with ‘technically’ no dialogue.

Monster Pub Chapter Two is exactly what you would want out of an episodic narrative adventure about making friends; continues exactly where the last one left off, allowing players to learn new things about the monsters they are trying to befriend while giving them the tools to interact and play with them as they do. The sentiment I shared last time still rings true as this title just reaffirmed my longing to be in different physical spaces again, going out with friends and possibly meeting new friends. It’s not long, but that won’t stop you from enjoying the little conversations that can be had. If you enjoyed Chapter One, or are in need of a friendship title of quirky monsters with feelings, try this one out.

I mean, not wrong.

Thing-in-Itself is an intriguing narrative experience made by Party for Introverts, a duo indie team focused on creating interactive experiences of emotional storytelling and connectivity. To this end, players will experience a brief moment in time for Ted, and be posed a very simple question: “How does one actually view things?”

This is not a game in the traditional sense, as players are more experiencing a story with possible shifts in narrative depending on a few meaningful choices that they make. The story revolves around Teddy and his relationship partner Molly and how they interact with each other through fully voiced conversations and texts. The focus, at first, is primarily centred around the philosophical idea of ‘thing-in-itself’ by Immanuel Kent (hence the title). The idea is that all things are simply constructs based around how we as individuals view them, and that our ability to ‘understand’ them is centred on our perceptions of the thing, making it impossible. This, of course, has many significant ramifications to the world as we know it, and clever individuals may discern some of the plot elements from the title alone. Due to the nature of the title, I won’t be going any farther along to delve into the themes or narrative because it truly desires for people to play it to ‘understand’ it the best it can. Choices are all meaningfully exploring what exactly is going on with Teddy, and shape how the narrative flows. Other choices are more means to an end than impactful, but help to set up the scenario and involve the player in the scene rather than having them watch from a distance as everything continues.

I will say that the full voice acting helps with the narrative immensely — I know that isn’t saying much as many narratives are usually bolstered with spoken word, but it’s the tonality that I really appreciate. Words on a page can show emotional weight, but cannot compete with the brilliance that is the human voice. There’s so much that can be conveyed with spoken words, and I truly feel that its addition makes all the difference for this title.

As advertised, the game is only about 15–20 minutes long, depending on if you wish to go back and witness the sequence of events again with different choices. However, I do not think that one needs to replay it, for the message is very clear after the first viewing; there’s a reason it is called “Thing-in-Itself”. If you wish to find out for yourself just how emotional a 15 minute story can be, try this out and find out in real time.

Links I thinks

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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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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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