Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Oct 312019

What’s this, two posts in the same day?

That’s right, because I have a special announcement this Halloween!

This year, I worked with a team from Party Tales participating in the Spooktober Visual Novel Jam, which challenged people to create a horror or otherwise spooky visual novel during the month of October.

Now, the visual novel we made for the event is available from itch.io: Not It.

Not It is a choice-driven horror visual novel about a town plagued by a curse every Halloween… and the group of people who end up trapped at the inn on Halloween night.

I was the writer for Not It, so if you check it out, be sure to let me know what you think!

Happy Halloween!

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Oct 312019

Happy Halloween!

For my longer horror game this year, I held a poll on social media to pick a game, and readers chose Shadow Hearts!

Shadow Hearts is one of those games I’d wanted to play for a long time and finally got a copy this year. It’s a turn-based JRPG set in 1913, where a young man named Yuri who can transform into monsters rescues a young woman named Alice, who is being hunted by a warlock for unknown reasons.

It has a very Gothic horror tone, with curses, vampires, demons, and similar supernatural phenomena. Without spoiling it, the story was exactly the sort of thing I love.

Click for Shadow Hearts spoilers
By the time the plot brought in the Inquisition, which secretly still existed, I was starting to feel like this story was tailor-made for me, and that was before it took a decidedly Lovecraftian turn near the end.

It’s also a spin-off/sequel to Koudelka, another game I’d like to play someday. I expected its links to Koudelka to be just a few minor references, but the connections are more important than that. Several moments left me wanting to check out Koudelka, although Shadow Hearts still stands on its own perfectly well.

I generally liked all of the main characters, even though by the end I settled in on a single group I preferred to use in battle, and the villain wasn’t as one-dimensional as he first appeared. Overall, it has a pretty good cast.

While it’s a turn-based RPG, the combat system has a twist due to the “Judgment Ring.” The Judgment Ring system requires you to hit certain indicators on a ring when it’s your turn, not just to make your attack more powerful, but to attack at all. This adds additional tension (should you try for the more powerful attack and risk missing entirely?) and makes the combat feel unique even when compared to similar systems.

Now, I messed a few things up and missed some stuff that would have made my life a lot easier. I intended to have this blog post up yesterday, except I didn’t successfully beat the final boss until about 10 minutes ago!

Since I enjoyed Shadow Hearts so much, however, maybe someday I’ll start a new game and this time take care to avoid those mistakes – and also get the good ending, since Shadow Hearts has two endings.

Shadow Hearts is an excellent horror JRPG, and I’m so happy I finally got a chance to play it. I’ll be looking forward to play its sequel sometime in the future… maybe next October?

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Oct 282019

A few months ago, I picked up several games in a sale, including The Last Door.

The Last Door is an adventure game split into four episodes. The first episode begins with the main character receiving a strange letter from an old friend and then traveling to his manor, only to learn that things have gone terribly wrong.

From there, the remaining three episodes deal with his attempts to find out what happened and the consequences of his investigation. I don’t want to go into too much detail, because it’s a pretty short game. It took me about 3 hours to finish the entire thing, with roughly 45 minutes per episode.

It’s a point-and-click adventure game, but since it’s divided into episodes, each episode has its own self-contained area and puzzles to solve. Some parts are tricky, but overall it’s not too hard since each episode is so small.

And the story is wonderfully Lovecraftian. The first episode is creepy on its own and really sets the stage for what is to follow, a story of people who delved into a world they should never have touched and now are paying the price as an ancient force stirs.

It also has a great atmosphere, especially due to the soundtrack.

Some of the episodes are better than others, but overall I enjoyed The Last Door a lot. It ends on an ominous cliffhanger (or you could view it as a dark ending with a sequel hook), so I’ll definitely pick up The Last Door: Season 2 to see how the story ends.

And don’t worry – my review of Shadow Hearts is coming soon as promised! In fact, I played The Last Door after realizing I wouldn’t be done with Shadow Hearts in time for today’s post…

In the meantime, don’t forget that you have until the end of this month to get my horror stories The Book at Dernier and It Came Back for $0.99 each, as well as to earn points and win prizes just by posting here on the site!

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