Taking time to unwind can be far from the easiest thing to do at times. Between work, home, responsibilities, and everything in between, life can get in the way of what we need most. This week on Issue #3 of RF20XX’s The Indie Buzz, we explore games that both take into account preservation of self, as well as running off to the unknown just to stretch out and experience something new. Things that we’ve learned this week from both, is it is ok to say No, and that sometimes you need to create your own holiday. Check out what we had to say about Inure Coffee & Everybody Wham Wham!
~~~~~~~~~ Inure Coffee ~~~~~~~~~
On the surface level, cute animations and imagery have a habit of giving viewers a sense of comfort. Like a random pet photo or a portrait of nature, such pictures are a draw because it makes an audience think of things that make us happy, taking them to the places they might want to be, stripping the thoughts of the real world away for an instant. In the current age of games though, with examples like Doki Doki Literature Club, those very things could be the misdirection needed to tackle heavier themes or topics, taking the walls down and giving players zero notice right before impact. In Inure Coffee, this 15-to-20-minute experience finds time to both delight in view but also explore the idea of self-introspection.
In perfect form, the visual novella puts players in the role of the barista, opening up her shop for the day in order to tend to the needs of loyal customers. Over the course of the 3 days the game takes place in, a trio of faces are there for their daily brew, each that takes their own approach to life and in how they interface with the main character. This may state the obvious, but in looking at the central question of the game, it is extremely important in really finding out what is going on in the cafe. While the options are limited, each will lead down to one of two endings, with the effects obvious in each passing day, with the surroundings becoming dirtier and different guests arriving, both out of the corners in the room and at midnight. Over time, players are led to the same question as the patrons on screen, “Is Everything Ok?”
Without giving too much away, the setting and its eventful meetings start to become a metaphor to how each player answers that question while behind the counter. If one thinks of the familiar faces making requests as strangers, then certain needs are not met, while viewing them as friends enables walls to come down and a quiet, personal truth to be revealed. While short, the game is smart in its pacing, targeted completely at making the audience ask themselves that if put in this very relatable scenario, could they be honest with themselves. I also found the colors each customer was painted in to also reflect how each engagement went; blue/purple tones for passive and introverted, red for hostility and aggressiveness, and so on. For being a quickly created game, Inure Coffee has so much it could say to players if given the time for exploration.
Check out this title, along with all the others at the first official Narrative Driven Jam, a Game Jam hosted by creators Jess Andz, FShift, & El3a have put together! 30 titles & Counting!
~~~~~~~~~ Everybody Wham Wham ~~~~~~~~~
For one were to visit a location further to the north or somewhere that was populated with more trees than people, chances are it would be possible to find a share of people that really enjoy a good snow day. Winter, for most, fills the mind with a countryside covered in white, hiding both the sky and much of the land until the coming of Spring. Snow is fun to look at, but only in its initial stage is it also exciting to craft things out of, and the favorite out of all the possibilities is also the most customizable; The Snowman. In a premise fit to have its own real-world holiday, Everybody Wham Wham challenges players to not only make their own masterpieces, but to also compete against others in chasing perfection in this silly, operatic outing.
Everybody Wham Wham is creator group Bonte Avond’s longest game to date, but also its most jam-packed! Players will initially go into the main story, where it’s the time of the year again for The Wham Wham the Snowman-man Snowman Building Festival, a contest and celebration where the greatest snowbuilder wins. As the pumpkin-hat wearing silent protagonist, the goal is to lay claim to Wham-Wham’s grand prize, a….. skelter? There’s a mystery afoot that plays out as the story progresses, but meanwhile, it’s 10 days of snowman-building, where 3 judges, including a yeti and a runaway ice cream cone, will give each round’s specifics and themes needed for the best score. If time allows, players are also able to sabotage their competition’s creations, but getting caught deducts 2 points, so be sneaky, be tricky!
The contest is fun enough on its own, but the area where the fest all takes place is almost tempting enough to just hang out in and explore for a bit. In addition to talking with the other contestants, Piggy & Snailmn, there’s a practice area to build at, multiple characters that can be interacted with on different days, and even a radio with 50 minutes of content to listen to, in case players want to relax for a bit. Kyon Edelenbosch, along with Matteo Karkazis (Sad Alien), Mark Lohmann (Moon Moon Moon), and Mark Benis, together forming Bonte Avond, killed it again making an entire radio session, including hits from Tuba Guy, a throwback to their prior game, Tower Guy. For players that are extra on-point with their creations, an area on the outskirts opens up after the 9th day, so long as they’re able to make 70 points or more (I didn’t). If a relaxed afternoon is what’s needed, this game has everything one could want to get away for a bit and return to the snowiest time of year.
Check out this game, as well as their prior entries, at their itch.io site! You can also keep track of what the crew is getting into on Twitter & Instagram! (B. Avond, Sad Alien, MMM Studios)
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Thank you for tuning into your world, for this… is 20XX.