Cuckoo Curling is a local multiplayer party game. The objective is to curl pucks across an ice rink onto a seven-by-seven grid and get four pucks to align to score a point. That’s about it; it’s a quaint game to play with friends, but boring to play by yourself. The visuals are cartoony, soft, and warm. And the atmosphere elicits that niche-activity-in-a-small-town, sort of feeling.
Kindness Coins is a very short, didactic, visual novel. The theme of Kindness Coins focuses on the idea of being entitled to a woman’s attention and romantic interest. If we’re analyzing the developer’s pure ability to get the point across, then it succeeds in that effort. However, the point isn’t expressed through the plot or action. The theme is simply told to us and ham-fistedly laid bare through dialogue. In this sense, it’s more akin to an essay with pictures than a visual novel or any form of narrative. Labeling it an essay, though, is giving it more credit than it deserves. To call something an “essay” is to imply some sort of exploration of the topic in question or some level of rhetorical expansion, Kindness Coins doesn’t do any of this. Instead of opting to simply recount the simple points and thesis statements of the stance, rather than thoroughly explain it or engage in any significant rhetorical practices that would make it an effective argument. There’s really no need to play it after I just explained it to you, but play it, if for no other reason than the art style is great.
Dr. Langeskov is an interactive experience game (I’m not calling it a walking simulator because it’s both derogatory and untrue) in which you assist the game’s director in creating the experience for a player. Basically, you’re a stagehand pulling the levers behind the scenes to make the game happen. It’s a novel and interesting concept to think about. Imagine a game you’ve played; now imagine all the levels and events were on a stage and the NPCs were actors. The game was made by some of the same people who made The Stanley Parable, and this will be important to note. Both games focus on the production of a game, but where The Stanley Parable explored themes of game design, choices, agency, philosophy, and the creator-audience relationship through a funny choose your own adventure story; Dr. Langeskov has… none of that. It may have been forgivable if it had executed well on its own style and approach, but it doesn’t do that either. There’s no theme to the game which, is fine if it could make the situations interesting, funny, and/or compelling, but it doesn’t. There’s no overarching narrative or idea to create a through-line for the game to carry the player’s interest. It’s simply a series of actions with jokes. Are the jokes any good? Not really, without the through-line to ground them, the humor loses its impact and seems pointless. So, is there really any reason to play it? Not really, skip it.
- A lot of indie games don’t usually have that much in either an artistic, conceptual, or content sense that allows them to be discussed at length. So, expect to see a lot of reviews that look like this.