Getting lost in a good story

Shut Your Teeth, video game, screenshot
As Dusk Falls, video game, screenshot

Everyone deserves a bit of time for themselves now and again.

And after everything happening at work and with the data apprenticeship recently, I’ve really needed it. The situation is slowly starting to get better but there’s still so much to do in too few hours – and that’s before most of next week is wiped out by yet another training session.

During periods like this, I retreat into myself and batten down the hatches. I’m lucky to have people around me who are supportive and will listen if I need to talk, but occasionally I have to be alone. There are a few friends I must apologise to for being distant lately: I’ve not been ignoring them, it’s just that I’ve needed to be hide away while I concentrate on getting through this.

Fortunately, the holiday year at my workplace finishes at the end of July and I’ve had to use up my remaining leave. These days away from work have been a much-needed break from the pressure there. And with Pete tied up with a project for a client and hardly being home as a result, it’s meant I’ve had plenty of space to focus on my mental health and getting back on track.

Mornings have been filled with productiveness and catching up on my portfolio. Then if I’ve been motivated and feel enough progress has been made, the rest of the day has been dedicated to the following video games. Although adventure is my go-to genre, during situations like this I find myself gravitating towards titles which focus on narrative more than puzzles. Perhaps that’s something to do with losing yourself in a good story and forgetting about the real world for a few hours.

Although adventure is my go-to genre, during situations like this I find myself gravitating towards titles which focus on narrative more than puzzles.

Tales of the Neon Sea

After playing a demo list year, I added this game to my wishlist and then picked it up during the Steam summer sale. I’m not sure what I liked the most: its cyberpunk aesthetic, bright pixelated artwork, or cat sidekick who keeps the hard-boiled detective protagonist in line. There are a few minor puzzles but nothing which will leave you stumped for ages, so it’s easy to concentrate on the story about a strange murder case involving clues from a robot rebellion. I’d definitely play the sequel if Palm Pioneer make one.

Shut Your Teeth

As mentioned during my last post, I struggle with visual novels because they usually fail to hold my attention after a couple of hours. But there was something about Anastasia Erokhina’s title which made me want to stick with it. Maybe it was its tale influenced by sinister Thai folk beliefs, including one about powerful spirit possessing the ability to grant wishes and protect its owner; maybe it was the character stills which were sometimes hilarious. Play this one in short bursts and come back to it when you need more story.

Glass Masquerade

‘Hold on a minute,’ I can hear you saying, ‘This isn’t a narrative game!’ No, but I needed something different to break up my adventures and decided on Onyx Lute’s puzzler after watching it streamed by Darkshoxx a while ago. It’s like a series of jigsaw puzzles: hidden glass pieces are combined to unveil stained-glass clocks with themes exhibited by various cultures of the world. The graphics and music were so relaxing that I ended up leaving it on in the background while working on my portfolio.

Placebo Love

This has been the most touching game I’ve played in a while – and one of the very few which made me dive straight back in for a second and third playthrough. It’s hard to say what makes it so special without spoiling it but, as mentioned in my review, its cast of characters is wonderfully realistic and just as screwed up as the rest of us. It’s worth going into it with an open mind and being aware that Twelve Tiles’ game is a mystery at its heart rather than a love story, and more a friendship than relationship simulator.

Eternal Threads

I’m currently playing Cosmonaut Studios’ adventure and am on track to finish it during my day off today. As a future operative tasked with fixing corruption in the timestream, players find themselves in a house where six people died in a fire a number of years ago. Your bosses have prohibited you from simply stopping the inferno and instead, you must manipulate the choices made by the housemates during the week before so they all survive. I’ve managed to save four so far but still have some work to do.

As Dusk Falls

So what’s next after Eternal Threads? I’ve got Interior Night’s interactive crime drama lined up (finally something new in the Xbox Game Pass library I actually want to play). Starting in 1998 with a robbery-gone-wrong in small town Arizona, the choices you make have an impact on the characters’ lives in a tale of betrayal, sacrifice and resilience. I haven’t read any of the reviews so as not to spoil it, but the Steam ratings look positive so far. I’ll be spending Saturday night with my controller and a tub of ice-cream.

It’s not quite the end of the month yet and I’ve still got a couple more days of leave coming up. That means there’s still time to fit in a couple more narrative games.

The project that Pete is working on is due to be finished in the next few days so hopefully we’ll be able to wrap up Inscyption together soon. My guess is that we’re about halfway through Daniel Mullins’ title so there are still plenty of secrets waiting to be discovered. Turn-based combat doesn’t do it for me so I don’t tend to play card games often, but the creepy vibe of this one keeps pulling me in. I’m trying to figure out where the story is going but it feels like there’s going to be some major twist I never would have guessed.

We also want to get started on Stray by BlueTwelve Studio at some point, after Pete made a pre-purchase during the Steam summer sale a few weeks ago. This is another release where the ratings are looking very good so far, and why wouldn’t they – I mean, you do play as a cat after all. And writing that line has just made me realise: I started off today’s post with Tales of the Neon Sea and finished it with Stray, two games featuring a feline in a cyberpunk world. Maybe this is the start of a new trend.

It’s not quite the end of the month yet and I’ve still got a couple more days of leave coming up. That means there’s still time to fit in a couple more narrative games. If there are any you’d like to recommend, I’d love to hear your suggestions.

About Author /

Spreadsheet lover, video gamer and SpecialEffect volunteer. Goes by the name 'kissingthepixel' online. Lifelong fan of wannabe pirates and fine leather jackets.

6 Comments

  • Hundstrasse
    4 months ago Reply

    Getting lost in a world is one of the great parts of gaming… I’d absolutely recommend Kentucky Route Zero for this… But I just have a kind of standing recommendation for it whatever the situation really! 😂… Also I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I’ma recommend it anyway 😛

    • Kim
      4 months ago Reply

      I bought KZR before all the episodes had been released… and so decided to wait until the full game was available… but I still haven’t played it and had kind of forgotten about it. So thanks for the reminder! Can you remember how long it takes to complete roughly? Just wondering if it’s another one I can fit in this weekend. 🤔

      • Hundstrasse
        4 months ago Reply

        Wow! You did wait a long time then! I think I played up through everytime a new episode was released 😁.

        I think each episode is like 2-3 hours, plus there are the interludes between episodes which are worth checking out. I really recommend not rushing though; most of it is just getting lost rather than running to the next point to drive the plot on.

        I’d love to know what you think about it if you do get around to it.

        • Kim
          4 months ago Reply

          Hmm ok… let me get through As Dusk Falls and then I’ll make a start on it. I know it’s one of those games you always recommend so I’d be interested to find out what it’s about. 😉

  • nufafitc
    1 month ago Reply

    Great article and I absolutely love the design of the whole page. Sorry for not dropping by more often, as I’ve been so busy with life and blogging myself. I wish my visual design would look this great. Keep up the great work! I’m so much behind current games and I think I only know one of these titles. So thanks for the round-up :-).

    • Kim
      1 month ago Reply

      No need to apologise, you post way more regularly than I do so I can only imagine how busy you are with the blog and life! Glad I could point you in the direction of some new games. 😉

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