Game Review: My Big Sister

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My Big Sister

Trigger Warning: This game contains references and scenes relating to self-harm.

Developer: Stranga

Platforms: PC/Nintendo Switch

My Big Sister is a horror game that centers around a little girl and her big sister, who are kidnapped and begin their peculiar journey back home. It’s dark, creepy, and a little off center in areas. I will be touching on three areas in this review: Story, Visuals/Audio, and How it Plays.

Story

My Big Sister has a story that really piqued my interest given it’s not often I see a horror game done in a top-down pixel art style. The story itself starts off incredibly intriguing, as Luzia and her big sister, Sombria, are kidnapped by a very strang person which kicks off the journey to break a curse. It’s one that takes its time building up the ideas complete with twists and turns, but as the game is fairly short in play time the last third seems have too much packed into it. I really loved the weirdness of the story initially, with all the lies and creepy ghost things, but the last chapter kind of marks the point where it began unraveling. Without spoiling anything, I will simply say I feel the explanations in the good endings are kind of ‘meh’. On the subject of endings, this one has six different endings which is something I find very cool…but when I figured out that the only chapter that influences these endings is the very last one I was somewhat disappointed again. Nevertheless, I spent another hour running through chapter eleven six times to see each version and there was only one that truly made me satisfied with it. In terms of characters, I liked Luzia’s evolution over the course of the story as she fights for her sister, but I think she loses that charm in the last chapter like the rest of the game. The focus on mental health is one that surprised me. At first, I felt it was handled with care, and then that pesky last chapter showed up and it seemed kind of tacky I guess.

Visuals & Audio

The visuals for this are really interesting given that it’s all pixel based, and despite that, I think it really captures that horror atmosphere. There were some brilliant uses of light that really give you a reason to pause when heading into a new room. The character designs and their movements are another really stellar portion of the game. I love all the variations in body shapes, and the use of color to make things look more fantastical or more horrific.

The audio is also fairly good, though maybe not quite as strong as the visuals.

How it Plays

The controls in this are fairly simple, you walk around and use about two buttons to either run or pick up items. The only time the game doesn’t move smoothly is when trying to go through doors, there are times where you’re sprite will be a pixel too far over and you can’t get through the door without a full readjustment. There is a decent amount of story but it’s not terribly long at all and it is quite addicted, which means it’s a one sitting kind of game. That is both its strength and its weakness. A good horror game is one you want to look away from but can’t, so that shortness really helps the narrative but as someone who is paying for that experience, I’m always hesitant to buy games that only get about 6 or so hours of gameplay.

Final Thoughts

It’s one to check out for sure, especially if you enjoy atypical horror games. However, it’s one that I feel comes with a few warnings: it’s a short game AND it deals with heavy topics that are sometimes incredibly blunt in delivery. Not everyone will react to the subjects at hand the same way, so if it sounds like something you’d be interested in go check out some gameplay and pick up a copy!

3.5 stars

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Game Review – Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King

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Blossom Tales - The Sleeping King

Developer: Castle Pixel

Publisher: FDG Entertainment

Platforms: PC/Nintendo Switch

I know I’m not the only person out there desperate for a Zelda-esque experience, especially since Breath of the Wild departed so severely from the normal dungeon-centric play styles. So if you are like me and you love that top-down, puzzle dungeon experience then hopefully this will be the game that can hold you over for a time.

Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King is very much a Zelda clone, from it’s similar attacks to its adorable art style but that doesn’t mean it’s without its own type of charm. I’ll break this review down into three categories: Story, Visuals/Audio, and How it Plays.

Story

The main character is Lily, a spunky young woman who has it in her heart to become a knight of the kingdom and in following her dreams finds herself up against a powerful villain. The story itself is a rather simple one, you are an unlikely hero pitted against a powerful villain with magic and a ton of minions. The charm comes in with it’s light-hearted approach to the way the story is told. It kicks off with a grandfather telling his grandchildren a story, and this narration continues with each major point in the story. It even has moments where the kids fight over what a villian might be, and you see those decisions/fights happen on screen as your enemies change to reflect their/your choices. It’s a super fun way to make the game experience a little more unqiue. The story itself is pretty heartwarming as well, and Lily becomes a character that you really root for as she proves herself time and time again.

Visuals & Audio

This has a classic top-down Zelda like style, that works well for the new graphics of today. It looks super smooth and has a vibrant color palette that really fits the flower theme of the story.

The audio is another hit for me and has quite a nice little soundtrack with plenty of variety depending on which section of the map you are in.

How it Plays

Now for the most important part! I played this on the Nintendo Switch so, in terms of controls, it’s a very familiar experience for me. We have a sword and shield, with a spin attack and even a full health sword beam.; but they added a leaping smash attack that I really really loved. To the point where I need Link to up his game and start leaping at people. We have a lot of items to work with here as well some familiar (like Bombs) and some new (like a AOE fire medallion and a bee!) that really add a lot of variety and personality to each playthrough. The game is a beautiful mix of easy explorations and challenging dungeons, that had me playing for hours on end. I loved the adorable character designs for the NPCs and enemies, especially the Golems.

Final Thoughts

This a solid game in its own right, with a cute story and stunning visuals. The game stays fresh as it gives you new tools to work with and new areas to explore, honing in on that charm that made the Zelda games so much fun while setting itself apart with its humor and new additions. This is one of my favorite games on the Switch so far, and I would highly recommend it to anyone.

5 stars

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