Video games are amazing, in them you can be anything you want; a Casanova, a starship pilot, a legendary adventurer or even a passport control officer. Papers Please is a small indie title from the mind of Lucas Pope released way back in 2013 and has you taking over a border control post in the mighty country of Arstotzka, You have a “won” a lottery for the post and must now see yourself and your small family through the next thirty-one days.
Okay, so we’ve covered the basics of the roguelike now let’s see where we can take it. FTL follows the basic idea of a roguelike game, always pushing on through randomly generated locations unsure of what lurks around the corner. The difference is that this time you control a small crew aboard a star ship, jumping from sector to sector, travelling from star system to star system; trading, doing quests and trying to stay one step ahead of the oncoming tide of war ships hot on your tail.
Katawa Shojou probably came to most people’s attention with the statement that it was a dating sim, about disabled high schoolgirls, made by a bunch of people on 4chan. This raised about every red flag in the book and it is likely that people only picked it up at first with the intention of seeing a complete train wreck play out before their eyes. Now who came out of this happy, the people wanting this to succeed or fail is what I hope to find out.
Now before we get too far into the review I should probably cover the basics of the genre for those mysterious people who go outside and talk to each other. Visual novels are not a big thing in the western world but quite big in Japan and neighbouring territories. In them the game plays as you would guess very much like a comic or novel with often fixed screens and scrolling text along the bottom that the player is required to read. Often during the course of the game the player will at serveal moments be required to make a choice often concerning what should be said or where the characters should go next. The biggest of these outside of Japan would easily be the Ace Attorney series and so if you’re still not grasping the idea of a game with a static screen and reading required then perhaps you should go check one of them out.
Roguelike games descend from the game Rogue released in the 80’s and can be identified by their randomly generated layout meaning that each time you play the game runs at least slightly differently. The problem with these games is that they often run toward the very hard end of the spectrum, carrying perma-death, meaning that a few simple mistakes can end your game often before you’ve come to grips with what the game is. Thus I present to you Desktop Dungeon; in particularly the free version still available on their website.