PEGBRJE: Vincent: The Secret of Myers and Above: The Fallen

As it was with the first title of this bundle, I have skipped another ZX Spectrum title due to my lack of emulators. If this continues, however, I will simply download an emulator and play through them all and dub it the Great Emulation.

Ah yes, the ‘threaten your life to make things interesting’ strategy.

Vincent: The Secret of Myers is a narrative point and click detective adventure created by indie dev ‘dino999z’. Players will awaken in an unknown yet fancy bedroom to odd sounds and a headache, unable to recall exactly how they were able to get there. Exploration of the room, however, leads to some terrifying conclusions that leave our protagonist scratching her head and hoping to discover just what is going on, or even who she is.

Blending together a detective point and click with elements of visual novel story telling, Vincent: The Secret of Myers has players following their unnamed protagonist as she investigates the bizarre world of Q4 and the megacorporation that drives it, Myers Corporation. Players will be soaking up information like a sponge, making decisions for the unnamed protagonist (whom I named Clarice, and will refer to her as such) as they try to piece together what exactly her connection to the corporation and the two that found her. She can ask questions when prompted to gain more information, but in general the prompts will be to give answers or make executive decisions in order to decide where to go. Every decision made has a possibility for consequences, however, as Clarice will need to utilize that information to ensure that each decision she makes is an informed one. There are many death flags within this visual novel, meaning that our beloved amnesiac’s journey could be over before any truths can be unearthed.

How this is done is through the point and click gameplay, to which players will be able to explore areas when given the opportunity. By clicking on highlighted objects in a room, players can gain information on the items — possibly important information such as dates, times, locations and more are then highlighted in bold red text for ease of memory. In some investigations, certain items will also contribute as evidence towards the discovery of the current dilemma, which is thankfully highlighted at the top right for players to better understand if they are on the right track. Once the evidence has been compiled, new story beats are introduced to iterate upon this information, leading to the seamless transition back in to a visual novel setting. Now these deductions can be used to solve narrative-centred questions, but many of them are to also solve puzzles in order to further the narrative, such as discovering combinations to locks through pieces of evidence or answering trivia questions in order to not die. There’s a lot to remember, but at the same time it feels naturally straightforward and paced in a way that is easy to recall the information necessary.

Coupled with its utterly unique artstyle that draws you in immediately, Vincent: The Secret of Myers will give you an entire world to dive in to and pull apart piece by piece within each chapter. It’s currently not complete, missing a few chapters at the end, but in its current state it proves its formula is a winner. The characters are devishly fun to talk to (especially Edgeworth, who knew he got caught up in this after Phoenix Wright?) and the soundtrack smoothly sits in the back of the ears as you solve the mysteries of the protagonist’s origins. There’s more to her than it first appears, but I’ll leave that for you to discover. If you love mystery novels in a darker setting and aren’t afraid of some glitchy scares, this is the perfect thematic experience for you.

Above: The Fallen is a 2D puzzle platformer by solo indie developer Hexnite. Players will be following the legend of those driven from their treetop homes by a sinister King. Generations of couples have been sent to find a new home to no avail, but this recent duo have decided instead to reclaim that which was stolen from them.

Now at first glance this title doesn’t look exceptionally unique, with players platforming throughout the levels and performing puzzles in order to progress. However, thanks to them being a duo players need both the man and the woman in order to solve the puzzles and progress; how this is done depends on the number of players involved, which drastically changes how the game feels and plays. Due to this, I’ll be talking about the game in both of these forms.

In solo, players will be utilizing their controller to maneuver both of the characters at the same time, with the left half of the controller for the man and the right half for the woman. Jumping requires the bumpers, and grabbing hold of objects and vines requires the triggers in order to be successful. As one might imagine, this makes the focus of the player split in half constantly and turns relatively simple puzzles into concentrating ordeals, giving the feeling of doing two different things with two different sets of hands at all times. The amount of times I would accidentally jump to the very bottom as the wrong character thinking I pressed for the other one was too numerous to count, which could be very frustrating to deal with. Over time this issue lessens due to the familiarity players will gain, but it highlights just how challenging it can be to handle two different individuals at the same time.

I’d also like to make a note that once again, this title hated my Dualshock controller to the point of being unable to be played on it as not only was the lady running to the left forever, but the triggers would not work for either individual to grab ahold of anything. I’m starting to suspect that there must be a Unity plugin/class that many use by default that is causing this, and will continue to investigate.

In co-operative, however, the game changes completely as there is now a second player to control and maneuver the other. It becomes less about the solving of puzzles and how to bend one’s brain to comply, but instead feels like a bonding exercise with another as the two players attempt to solve puzzles together. It’s an interesting alteration of tone and pace, even if nothing inherently has changed in the gameplay itself. I’m reminded of the times playing Portal 2 in its co-operative mode, where the fun is derived more from the antics that the two players can have, rather than the actual puzzles themselves.

This is the duality of Above: The Fallen, layered in with its naturalistic lore. There’s a lot to soak up visually, and the voice acting is a nice addition to add to the tribal aesthetic of togetherness. How you choose to play will be the bigger question, as a solo player will find an interesting mechanic with the duo coupled with possibly frustrating controls. Co-op players instead will find a fun team building title that can lead to different shenanigan's and alterations. Which aspect you hold more important is up to you.

Link

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.