I just played through this morning and I liked it a lot. It’s was a perfect rainy Sunday game but also a great example of what I wanted to do with this club.
I’ll just spoiler all this, but with notes about what each is.
I think the simple blocky look worked quite well because of how it allowed the dev to create a fairly rich town around you. The palette was used well too because of how flat it mostly was with bright pops of colour to accent certain things. The acoustic music gave a light atmosphere too and I just really loved the guitar strumming sound.
I liked the simplicity of how you moved through the world, just having 2 buttons for “use” and “magic”. Though some of it didn’t communicate that well. I think that blasting spikes to replace them with owls was meant to help me identify where the cops were. But I’m not sure what the cops did or mattered for? I only zapped them once, and it didn’t seem that necessary. I also liked the tree planting side objective, though at one point I grew a tree to burst a pipe and make a puddle for some ducks. I’m not clear what happened there fully or if I was required to do that. I don’t think it all needs an explanation, but some better grounding would’ve helped parts of it. I enjoyed planting trees regardless.
For the tarot game, I like the concept and it felt like a good witchy way to convey some messages. Though the first time I was disappointed to realise that they’re set scripts I’m following. I thought there might be some randomisation or response to my actions. I understood after that the thread of the game requires they be fixed this way, but it made the interactive part of these sequences a little flatter since the interaction felt a little “fake”.
Also a major thing that I think this game lacks is a direct interaction with the NPCs. You can talk to the cat and the owl, but you only really monologue at them with tarot cards. There is good work with changes to the world and how the NPC behaviour changes. (Eg. When you radicalise the fast food workers, they take breaks to go on the roof) But the lack of conversation undermined the story for me a bit (more about this below).
The world changing as you go is my favourite thing. It’s a really well used storytelling tool for advancing things and developing the narrative thread. It’s a strength of the simple models and constrained world space that’s works great.
I’ll echo what people were saying above about the story being quite simplistic and straightforward, but I didn’t take that as a negative honestly. I think for the short time the game has, complex nuance can be limited and is easy to deploy wrong or misread. Describing it as a manifesto makes sense to me, as it’s not supposed to be a realistic depiction of events as much as a conceptual way we can affect change.
I still think a lack of incidental NPC dialogue harms it overall. In a game about socialism, I learn about people from the objects and environments. I wish I got lines from the fast food workers before and after their radicalisation. Give them some humanity while showing some specificity to what change you’re affecting.
I was caught off guard by the turn, where the police come out in force. I wasn’t expecting that kind of escalation from the game, and the way it materially blocks you from certain areas too. Its funny The resolution is quite simplistic in a sense, but it does basically reflect the manifesto the game is presenting.
What’s funny is that I didn’t realise I had to do something with the bonfire. So I walked through the whole revolution, got to the end and briefly thought that was the game’s end. In a funny way I could imagine that as another way to end it, where you start the wheels turning and then your job as a witch is done.
The actual ending where you can tour through the town that’s been bettered is a good capstone to the manifesto story. Things can be better and it’s all within reach, it just requires a change.