PEGBRJE: The Aquatic Adventure of the Last Human, A Kishoutenketsu in the countryside and Ungrounded
Page 13? More like PAGE GREEN LET’S SAVE THE PLANET.
The Aquatic Adventure of the Last Human is a sub-nautical adventure made by YCJY, a Swedish duo, and Karl Flodin who provided the soundtrack. Made in the glorious Gamemaker Studio, our adventure begins as players are transported forward in time thanks to the magic of future technology to visit our Earth in the future. Unfortunately, the world looks a tad different — as in, from the surface one might be confused as if we are in the future, or if we’ve been transported back to the Cambrian Era due to the sheer volume of the world being suddenly water’ed. Time to dive right in.
As humans have never evolved to breath underwater, players control the submarine that we conveniently brought with us on this adventure. From there, players will explore this new world as they uncover what exactly happened as we began to reverse-sink (water going up instead of land going down and all). Players will uncover upgrades for their submarine as they explore, some found in crates that passively increase stats such as hull health, while others will give a unique passive/active ability. These unique upgrades are what allow players to alter how they play the game or explore the world, such as the saw to cute through thick vines in order to continue finding new places or an engine that allows for players to go faster than certain currents. In this vein, gameplay feels relatively similar to a Metroidvania as without these upgrades players are unable to continue forwards in certain regions, and the world itself feels like an interconnected maze of regions that these upgrades help access. However, I’m hesitant to formally consider it as such as gameplay feels more like an adventure exploration to reminisce on the themes that the game is bringing forward. Much of the game is spent not fighting the fish that are out there, for they do not pose any threat to the player. Instead, it’s about finding the audio logs of the world left behind, discovering what happened to this place while finding bosses to fight at different areas to progress forward.
I would like to note, however, that I could never tell if I could avoid bosses. The Tranquil was one such boss, as it felt weird to be killing a massive entity that is literally called ‘the Tranquil’, especially when I could leave the boss arena at any time. There may be more to the title that I’m unaware of, seeing as I’ve only done a singular run and haven’t tried out avoiding as many bosses as possible.
So what exactly happened to this — our — world? Well, if by any chance there may be some anti-climate change believers reading this, well I’m sorry because this game isn’t going to be something enjoyable. This world of ours is the future, where we were never able to control the rising temperatures and ended up flooding most of the world. What players see is humanity’s attempts at surviving under water, creating settlements enclosed with air as the water rose above us. What happens next can be best described as ‘what one might expect’ — I’ll refrain from spoiling, but I believe it is safe to say that it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Especially since this former inhabitants can’t see either of those anymore.
However, it’s this underwater ruins combined with the fantastic score that brings a sense of wonder and dread to the atmosphere. Being so deep underwater has always been described as almost spacelike or alien to most, with the perpetual darkness the deeper one goes and the strange wildlife that inhabits it. It’s truly hard to describe just how unsettling this feeling is, even moreso when combined with the logs of the past and the ruins in the backdrop. The fish are generally friendly, yet that didn’t stop me from suspecting each one of them as they swam by, worried that they might suddenly turn hostile on me. After all, we’re in their turf now.
Diving in to The Aquatic Adventure of the Last Human reminds me of title such as Subnautica: the deeper you go, the more unsettling discoveries await. While they share different themes, the atmosphere of being in a foreign world (even if you really aren’t in this one) creates fantastic explorational discoveries. It might take a while to complete, but you’ll definitely have something to ponder once you do.
A Kishoutenketsu in the countryside is a small puzzle game made by indie dev Remi Tootata of France. In this adventure, players are dropped into a world that they know nothing about, told little, and allow them to find out exactly what they’re doing.
As stated above, this is a small puzzle title focusing on the player’s ability to move specific objects by sliding them, or removing objects by walking over them. There are four keys that players need to acquire to enter the goal, which is appears to be a lovely looking house, but how to acquire each key is dependent on their location. I find that these titles usually work best with little information, but I can outline the more obvious puzzle that players will find as the one above: rock sliding. Players will be moving rocks around in the hopes of clearing them out without accidentally locking themselves in place or putting the rocks in places that cannot be moved. Thankfully, there is one other button players can utilize, which will rewind all actions that players have done turn by turn. Of course, there are a few exceptions; rewinding time does not revert back any pieces that have been ‘altered’ in any way, and that will be something to find out personally.
It’s a game of relaxation and simplicity, invoking imagery of a simple garden that players are just exploring and looking throughout. It isn’t meant to be overly thought provoking or mind bending, but instead just a simple environment to explore and exist within. The ending even doubles down on this feeling, and even though I was severely aggravated by one of the four puzzles it still left a small smile on my face. There’s no music, only visuals, and a solid 10 minutes of puzzles. If you’re looking for something relaxing that reminds you of going outside, try this one out.
(Note: I still don’t understand the tell of the tree puzzle, hence why it became so aggravating.)
Ungrounded is a tree simulation title made by an indie dev out of the US known as sg. Within this relaxation simulation, players are a cute little cube given only a simple directive: plant some sweet, sweet trees.
So, as a tiny tree ghost cube, the world begins as the player falls from the giant red sun itself and lands on the ground, with no real objective without looking externally for the two options: reach the sun once again, or cultivate a garden. Or both, technically. Players can make their way slowly upwards via these trees by grabbing ahold of the seeds and planting them on any surface, even ontop of trees themselves, to keep the growth continuing. For some of the mathmaticians out there, one may notice that the growing patterns of the trees are utilizing the L-system, which at it’s simplest utilizes recursion to draw and divide sections over a variable amount to create fractal-like shapes or patterns. There’s more out there to learn about L-Systems, but as I’m not amazing at patterned math I’d recommend looking into the link given on the itch page. I bring this up, however, as each generation of seed adds more to the sequence, creating more vibrant plants the deeper players dive into the world.
What you plan on doing is completely up to you: if aiming for the sun, simply continue upwards and grow a massive tree, using the powers of a tree ghost to faze in and out of reality to get out of tight spaces. The more generations the tree is, the more complex the new addition becomes and the more points gained when reaching the top. If, however, you are enamored by the beautiful relaxation of the aesthetic and wish to simply cultivate really pretty trees, this too is possible. Simply lean back, relax, and find gain some cool trees. However you wish to play, it will be soothing.
That’s it for page 13. Might be taking tomorrow off to collect some thoughts, whew. Software maybe today, uncertain.
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