Game Reviews: “Always Sometimes Monsters” and “The Forest”

I know I haven’t written a blog post in a while and I apologise. You see, I graduated from university with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and since then I’ve basically been working a lot. But when I’m not working I’m mostly playing video games.

I’ve gotten into this whole “indie game” and “alpha game” fad on Steam. Lately I’ve been going crazy just downloading a bunch of indie games and alpha games (I’m downloading “Project Zomboid” as I write this). The two latest ones I’ve been playing are: a “life simulator” called “Always Sometimes Monsters” and an open-world horror/survival game called “The Forest”.

Now here are my reviews.

“Always Sometimes Monsters” is not in alpha, though at times it feels like it is. Not that it’s buggy, but I just found a lot of spelling and grammatical mistakes that really should have been corrected before it was released.

Basically the game begins with a guy walking down an alley way telling his boss that he quits because he doesn’t want to kill people anymore. They then come across a hooded figure who wants to tell them a story about choices. The game is this guy’s story, so if you choose to kill him before he tells the story, there is no game. Then you get to pick your character and your love interest and name them and the game begins.

You’re a writer who got a publisher but never finished anything and your love interest left you because you’re basically a twat. You get invited to her wedding and the game revolves around you trying to make it across the country in thirty days to get to the wedding and tell her you still love her so she doesn’t marry the “wrong person”. (By the way, I say “her” but your love interest could be male if you so choose, even if you play as a male character.)

This game has been called a “life simulator” and you’re made to believe that your choices will actually affect the outcome of the game. But I’m here to say otherwise.

I wouldn’t call this a “life simulator” as the only “life” thing you have to do is work at various locations to get money to get bus tickets. That’s about it. The game will remind you to go eat, but you don’t have to. Don’t bother wasting your money on food, even if your character complains. There are no consequences to not eating. Also, in the second city that you visit you can get a fishing rod and talk to a kid who will mark the only clean spots to fish if you get him a lake crab. If you do that, you’ll basically have unlimited free food as you don’t even have to cook the fish, you can just eat them raw.

Not to mention that the working part is tedious and a lame way to make the game seem longer than it is. There’s one part where you have to move boxes from a conveyor belt to a truck. The boxes are infinite. I moved fifty boxes before I finally called it quits (some people moved over a hundred even though the counter stops at 99) and then I realised that I didn’t even need to move that many. The guy was overly joyed that I even moved that many boxes. It was stupid.

So how about those choices then? Surely they must have some impact. Well, not really, no. I mean there is a point near the end in which one character scolds you for all of the “evil” choices that you made and they question whether or not you feel bad for making those choices. Hmm, do I feel bad for having a guy killed off and orphaning his kids? Obviously. I didn’t know that would happen. Basically, they’re trying to do the same thing that Telltale Games did with their “Walking Dead” video game series.

I honestly don’t feel like my choices made an impact to the story at all until the day before the wedding. That’s when there were choices that actually altered the ending of the game, so I ended up making multiple saves so I could replay that last day and see the different endings. I got three different endings and I use the term “different” very loosely. They were basically the same ending just with slight variations. There are only two different people (that I can tell) who the hooded figure can be. I won’t give anything away in case you want to play it.

So do I recommend this game? Well…ten bucks isn’t a horrible price, but I wouldn’t shell out that kind of money for this game. I got it for 20% off on Steam and even with that I feel like I spent too much money. I say wait for a 50% off sale before buying it. Or better yet, buy something else. If you want a better “life simulator” game buy “The Sims”. Well, maybe “Sims 3″…or “Sims 4” when that comes out. If you want a game that tells a really emotional (almost to the point of making you cry) and powerful story (like this game tries to do), play “To The Moon”. If you want a game that really makes you feel like your choices have an impact to the story buy TellTale Games’s “The Walking Dead” (which will also almost make you cry in episode 3) or “The Wolf Among Us”. Or better yet, buy “The Stanley Parable”. That’s a game that’s nothing but allowing you to make choices that affect the gameplay and story.

So how about “The Forest”? What is “The Forest”?

“The Forest” is an extremely early alpha open-world horror/survival game that’s available for fifteen dollars on Steam. When I say “extremely early alpha”, I mean it. This game just recently released version 0.02. But it’s already extremely polished and it shows a lot of potential. Honestly, the graphics in this game rival that of big budget games, such as the “Call of Duty” franchise.

Basically you’re the lone survivor of a plane crash that crash landed on an island inhabited by cannibalistic mutants. Your job is to survive. It’s a huge island (though a lot of it isn’t accessible yet due to the fact that it hasn’t been programmed in yet) with a lot to see, though not a whole lot to do. On the plane you find some food to keep you satisfied for a while and you find an axe which you can use to cut down trees and kill the mutants.

You can build a few different kinds of shelters, a few different kinds of firepits, a few different kinds of traps and storage containers and rafts. But it’s all “a few” since it’s still really early. They’re constantly updating it, though, and there’s even a countdown timer built into the main menu of the game to let you know when the next major update will be released (major update is the next .01 of the game [so from .02 to .03 is a major update]).

The mutants are annoying. There are so many of them and no matter where you go on the island, they’re going to find you…and kill you. They take so many hits with the axe to die and, on my latest playthrough, they managed to kill me in one hit. I don’t know if that was a bug or not, but it was a little ridiculous. Though I should say “knock me out” rather than “kill me” since the first time you lose all of your health you’re knocked unconscious rather than killed. You then wake up in one of their caves (version .02 fixed a bug where you’d always spawn in the same cave, so now you spawn in a random cave, which is better, but it’s still annoying). In said playthrough, I was trying to leave the cave and the mutants snuck up behind me and killed me. So that sucked.

All-in-all the game right now is pretty bare and there are quite a few bugs (obviously). One bug that was rather amusing was when I’d pick up a rock and it would say that I can’t carry anymore raw fish. That was a weird one. A lot of people had the bug where your character would be launched into the air from hitting a dead body with an axe. They claimed to have fixed that bug in v0.02, though a lot of people say that the bug is still there. And of course, the famous bug of seeing a bird perched on thin air. Classic.

So would I recommend this game? Not yet and not at fifteen dollars. While the game is really fun and scary and has a great atmosphere and vibe and while there is A LOT of potential for the game, it’s just too early to be able to fully recommend buying it for fifteen dollars. Unless you’re a hardcore indie game fan like I am and you want to help out indie game developers AND if you’re into buying alpha games and watching them grow and become better games, then I say wait this one out until it’s either much more developed or on sale.

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