Pony Island is crazy. Remember how Eternal Darkness messed with your TV? And how Metal Gear (I forget which one[s]) messed with your Playstation? Pony Island messes with your computer. This meta game has so many surprises. Every 15 minutes I felt like I was laughing at something or going "Whoa, cool!" or even freaking out about something the game did. There's one trick in particular that it pulled that had me a bit frantic, but I can't say it because it'll be a huge spoiler.
Gameplay-wise, it's a little bit of sidescroller and a little bit of puzzling, and I guess a bit of text adventure. Some of it has a nice challenge (coordinating your mouse clicking on the sidescroller part, and some of the puzzles are tricky). Thematically it is wild. I'll just say that Pony Island is more than a game and leave it there. Play it, but don't read about it!
Neat game that earns its praise. What do you do in Her Story? You watch video clips of interviews with Hannah Smith, whose husband Simon was murdered. You're a police detective, and you navigate clips in a database and just...piece together the story. You search through the clips using terms that might be important. So like "murder" and "Simon" and "Hannah" are probably some of the first. I have no clue how many videos there are (a hundred?) or how many search terms produce results (a hundred?). It's absolutely fascinating to watch the interviews. The acting is pretty good. I have no idea how the story pieces itself together given that you can search anything, but it worked for me. Do some players have the ending given sort of prematurely? I guess you wouldn't really understand clips from the last interview until you'd watch a lot though. I found over 75% of the videos on my own. Several times I watched a video that divulged crucial information, and I would be like OH MY GOD! Like videos about Hannah's bruise. There are a lot of little reveals and even subtle things that you pick up on. I think I figured out what happened and could re-tell the story. I'm going to go read up on it to see what other people say. Really worth playing for something different, and really cool way to present a narrative.
This is not what I expected! I thought I was getting the third game this week about heists. Well, it's sort of about a heist, but it's more Stanley Parable than Monaco or Payday. A confused narrator guides you through video game production. It had me laughing pretty good by the end. Play through twice to get a cassette tape player and listen to the tapes scattered around, especially if you like Rick and Morty. Whoever is doing the voices on the tapes is clearly a fan. Absolutely worth 30 minutes of your life, and it's free on Steam and probably from Crows Crows Crows's website. Wonder what else these people have made?
Duuuude, Shadow Complex was awesome! It's a neat kind of 2.5d metroid-vania. You only really move left/right/up/down, but enemies will sometimes be in the foreground and background and move back and forth. One of the two issues with the game is that it's hard to aim your gun and shoot enemies that aren't on your plane. It seems to choose which plane to aim at depending on whether or not an enemy is there, but it is finicky. The other issue is that there are bugs. It crashed on me three or four times. Sometimes the map doesn't auto-update with your objective, so you have no clue where to go until you restart the game. One time a trap door wouldn't open and I was running around for 15 minutes trying to figure out how to get out of this small maze I was in. I finally reloaded and when I ran over this one spot, a trap door opened and that was how you get out. It definitely never opened the first time, as I ran over that spot (and shot it, and threw grenades at it) a lot.
The game isn't that difficult on normal. Boss battles weren't too bad, sometimes requiring a couple attempts. Regular enemies are generally only a challenge during set pieces, like one time you enter a room and four doors in the background open, revealing four minigun-toting soldiers. They spray at you as you scramble for cover (which keeps changing), and then little walker bombs start coming at you. That was a fun fight. It feels really good to shoot and melee kill enemies. There's good oomph to the combat, and it's fluid too. Enter a room, stealth kill the first enemy, get spotted by a camera, which activates turrets, shoot all those, toss a grenade into a group of soldiers, grapple onto a ledge to gain a height advantage, fire a missile at a missile launcher soldier, see a destructible vent, lob a grenade at it, jump down and assess the situation. I like that you have to think fast.
It's got a silly story that I can't always tell if it's taking itself too seriously or poking fun at itself (both I think). At the end, it says it's supposed to be a companion to some Orson Scott Card story. Weird. Long story short, you and your girlfriend are going hiking and exploring some caves when she disappears. You find her being abducted and taken into some secret military compound (the titular Shadow Complex). You proceed to attempt to rescue her, acquiring new weapons and gadgets along the way, each of which (guns, grenades, foam, missiles, the blue thing) allow you to bypass different obstacles, thus further opening up the map. I won't spoil the ending, but you'll probably see it coming an hour into the game. The main character has a lot of cheesy one-liners, and he made me laugh too. He has a habit of shooting enemies in the head who are taunting him and expounding upon their evil plans. "And then we will destroy San Francisco [manifestation of Orson Scott Card's anti-gay conservative politics?] and then we will kill you and everyone you..." [BAM! Shot in the head]. It's funny every time.
Despite some bugs, aiming issues, and over-the-top story, I 100% recommend this game if you enjoy a good metroid-vania platformer.