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Forums > Contributor Zone > RotW // 4th -- 10th October // The October review surge is upon us!

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Author: honestgamer (Mod)
Posted: October 12, 2021 (04:53 PM)
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Well, we're into October, which means the usual stream of horror-themed reviews is upon us. This week, I had ten reviews to consider, because last week's topic was Joe's and his two reviews from last week weren't eligible until this week. And now, without further ado, the topic...

First up, here are the reviews that didn't place in the top three:

A Wolf in Autumn (PC) by JoeTheDestroyer

You do a good job of exploring the game's design here and of making me ask questions you don't actually answer, all while making it clear you don't answer those questions because that would spoil the experience for me in the event I ever play the game for myself. It works in service to the player who might read your review and decide to check the game out for themself, but let me assure you: I will not play this game. Anyway, my disinterest in playing it is no fault of yours. You actually did a good job of making this one sound worthwhile.

Apartment 666 (PC) by JoeTheDestroyer

"The narrative moves along like someone doing a crap job of describing the movie they saw on Shudder a few nights ago." I loved that line. There were several especially good lines in your review, but I liked that one the most. The game sounds wretched. Somehow, the score of 1.5 stars seems too high!

Kio's Adventure (PC) by JoeTheDestroyer

"At first, the clumsy chatter easy to ignore..." You are missing a word there. As for the overall review, I thought you did a good job of summing up your thoughts at the very end, which put the text leading up to it in the proper context. Still, the review felt a bit weaker than your other contributions because it mostly boils down to: "We're a bit hypocritical for wanting original games while rewarding generic ones that just execute well, so here are some examples of how Kio's Adventure is just plain weird that prove the actual execution is the difference." Not a bad review, and it told me what I needed to know, but it didn't impress me as much in such a busy week.

Forgotten Trace: Thanatos in Nostalgia - Chapter 1 (PC) by EmP

You did a bad job of making this sound like a must-have purchase, which is clearly a good thing given the score you awarded it. I feel like I know almost exactly what to expect if I play this game, and I also feel like there's little or no chance I ever will actually do that. My time is better spent watching anime or something, I figure. Thanks for giving me the info I needed to make that call.

Dead Space (PC) by Brian

This is a perfectly serviceable review that has a hard time maintaining my interest during a week where I have just read a bunch of exemplary horror reviews. The only real fault I have with it is the frequent use of passive sentence construction, which I think makes some of your statements less effective than they might otherwise be. However, that's a minor enough concern that it doesn't get in the way of a solid write-up.

Alien Syndrome (Sega Master System) by pickhut

Near the end, you say "consultation prize" when you meant "consolation prize." The score awarded at the end seems a half-star or even a whole star too low, given that you talk about how the game is full of smart design choices. You don't make it sound like one of the all-time greats, but it does sound like it falls on the right side of "mediocre." I thought the "TM" gag might have been just the tiniest bit clearer, because it took me a moment to catch what you were doing, but once I caught on, it was fairly amusing. Sometimes, out of the blue, some developer will insist on total adherence to copyright or trademark in a way that goes beyond useful and becomes comical. This seems like it was one of those times...

Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition (PC) by EmP

This sentence makes my brain hurt: "He soon forgets his ill-deserved access to an area closed off from the public and whatever gains he may make by his questionable association as soon as a passing limo pulls over to make enquiries." Maybe you could clean it up a bit? It feels like the victim of too much editing all at once. I write sentences like that sometimes myself! Another 'huh' sentence: "Still, it’s a creature of its era, and it does suffer from some hang-ups, such as ‘dumb icon’ interface, which demands your offer manual pretext to both your pointing and clicking." There were a few other rough spots, also, that you might want to look over later. Occasional roughness aside, this is a strong review, though the jump to "And that's how it used to play, so here's a bit about how it differs now" did feel a bit jarring. In any event, I'm more interested in playing this game than I've ever been before.

And here are the top three picks:

Third Place: Castlevania Legends (Game Boy) by dagoss

Some of your best criticism was happening around this line: "Instead, Sonia needs to constantly stop and wait. Stop and wait. Stop and wait. This slows down the already long levels in a way that is boring rather than tense." You do a good job of building on that point to show how such design infects the game as a whole. A lot of the other writing was interesting from a historical perspective, and I appreciate your reviews for continuing to explore things from that angle. In this case, your approach was more than the game seems to have deserved.

Runner Up: Okami HD (PlayStation 4) by overdrive

This made me chuckle: "Sadly, this leads to a redemptive moment, but for that one scene, I was truly happy!" Redemptive moments are just the worst, aren't they? This part of the final sentence in the penultimate paragraph is missing a word right near the end: "...a really long battle against arguably the least interesting foe you've met the entire game." Would you believe I still haven't played Okami, despite owning it on a few systems? I have played Okamiden on the DS, though, and that is a surprisingly great game for that hardware. Check it out if you get the chance.

Review of the Week: Mad Father Remake (PC) by JoeTheDestroyer

This is an excellent review that makes the game sound excellent, ahead of a score that matches. I thought you did an especially good job of exploring and evaluating the game's apparent use of themes, which is the sort of thing that elevates your criticism. In fact, it was one of the things that tipped the scales in your favor and led to this one being not only my favorite review from you this time around, but my favorite review from anyone. Stellar work!

Thank you, as always, to those of you who played games and assembled coherent opinions about them and were kind enough to post them here. It was a packed week! Until next time...


"Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy on reality

"What if everything you see is more than what you see--the person next to you is a warrior and the space that appears empty is a secret door to another world? What if something appears that shouldn't? You either dismiss it, or you accept that there is much more to the world than you think. Perhaps it really is a doorway, and if you choose to go inside, you'll find many unexpected things." - Shigeru Miyamoto on secret doors to another world

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Author: jerec
Posted: October 12, 2021 (05:00 PM)
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Hmm, I was working on RotW for September 27th to October 3rd, and some of those reviews were definitely in that week.

Edit: oh I see, Joe holdovers! I guess since EmP asked me to take that week, he might've neglected to mention that.


I can avoid death by not having a life.

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Author: honestgamer (Mod)
Posted: October 12, 2021 (05:51 PM)
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Well, if he mentioned it to me, I certainly didn't see it!


"Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy on reality

"What if everything you see is more than what you see--the person next to you is a warrior and the space that appears empty is a secret door to another world? What if something appears that shouldn't? You either dismiss it, or you accept that there is much more to the world than you think. Perhaps it really is a doorway, and if you choose to go inside, you'll find many unexpected things." - Shigeru Miyamoto on secret doors to another world

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Author: pickhut
Posted: October 12, 2021 (06:04 PM)
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Huh, strange that I missed or even typed that to begin with. Thanks for pointing out the error and overall for the comments! As for the rating, the reason I placed it there (I personally perceive it as being in the middle/average for this rating system) is that, while it does have smart design choices, this is more or less countered by the game's disappointing way it handled the last set of "stages." Or, more specifically, one actual stage sandwiched between three samey boss fights.

In another draft of the review, I made a speculation that maybe it was because the devs were working with the limitations of the system's specs that they couldn't add more stuff, but then I remembered Gauntlet is also on the Sega Master System, and that game has 512 stages. Also, the game's own box cover advertises itself as A Two-Mega Cartridge™, so it had space. So I modified the ending a bit to keep it vague.

Also congrats to Joe for RotW!


I head spaceshit noises.

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Author: overdrive (Mod)
Posted: October 13, 2021 (10:55 AM)
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I'm wondering who the big loser was this week. Jason for having to judge a few extra games due to not knowing that Jerec was subbing for Joe and, therefore, his holdovers didn't actually need to be held over. Or me, the guy who took second place to one of those holdovers that didn't actually need to be held over. If I wind up losing to EmP by one point in Site King, I'm gonna...uh, probably nothing because I likely won't even remember this a couple months down the line.

Still nice to get a high place. October always feels like that month where you have to really earn the podium because there are lots of reviews every week. While a lot are Joe's, this month always seems to bring a few old names out of the woodwork to join in. Makes it a fun month to both participate in and to read what everyone else is writing because you don't know who you'll see with something on any given day, or what they'll be writing about. But it will be horror-themed, which is always fun, and it will be well-written.


I'm not afraid to die because I am invincible
Viva la muerte, that's my goddamn principle

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Author: EmP (Mod)
Posted: October 13, 2021 (01:27 PM)
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Good insight Jason; I do not much care for that Gabriel Knight review. I wrote it sometime last year and sat on it for ages, trying to pick away at it while trying to figure out why it didn't sit well with me. In the end, I released it so it would be done (and I could, maybe, move on to Knight 2). Trace was a middling VN that was only 1/3 of the tale. The dull world-building part. I wasn't hugely enthused with that one, either. But they serve their purpose and are out of the way now.

Props to Joe for winning a week with a review that wasn't even in it (what a power play!), to OD for owning all the silver and dagoss for continuation a run of great game selection. Good job to Jason, too, for getting through a heavy week off the back of his first real horror game.


For us. For them. For you.

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Author: honestgamer (Mod)
Posted: October 13, 2021 (01:55 PM)
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This does seem like an unlikely month for Vacant to launch a comeback tour, what with so many people contributing so many excellent reviews. It's not really my month, since horror games aren't an area of personal interest... and yet I've reviewed a horror game of my own this week, so one never really knows!


"Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy on reality

"What if everything you see is more than what you see--the person next to you is a warrior and the space that appears empty is a secret door to another world? What if something appears that shouldn't? You either dismiss it, or you accept that there is much more to the world than you think. Perhaps it really is a doorway, and if you choose to go inside, you'll find many unexpected things." - Shigeru Miyamoto on secret doors to another world

This message was deleted at the request of jerec, the person who originally posted it.

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Author: dagoss
Posted: October 13, 2021 (03:02 PM)
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Thanks for 3rd place in a week with too many good reviews.

I'm going to struggle this month to come up with games to review. Castlevania is probably the only thing I like that has a horror theme. Maybe next time we could do an obscure Game Boy game theme month?


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Author: honestgamer (Mod)
Posted: October 13, 2021 (05:58 PM)
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Game Boy games might be too limiting for some, given our smaller community of writers, but I could see maybe something like a handheld games competition working (with a hybrid such as the Switch, or a portable Genesis being excluded). That seems like something worth maybe considering. What do you think?


"Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy on reality

"What if everything you see is more than what you see--the person next to you is a warrior and the space that appears empty is a secret door to another world? What if something appears that shouldn't? You either dismiss it, or you accept that there is much more to the world than you think. Perhaps it really is a doorway, and if you choose to go inside, you'll find many unexpected things." - Shigeru Miyamoto on secret doors to another world

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Author: dagoss
Posted: October 13, 2021 (06:35 PM)
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I was only half serious (almost all the games I reviewed this year were on GB or DS), but a handheld themed contest does sound like fun. Contests are always fun!


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