Total Games Played
Played in 2023
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Never have I played a game that does such a good job at respecting the player's ability to perform. Pseudoregalia gives you moves one at a time to play around with, gives you some tips in the pause menu if you need them, and lets you play around with them in a wide open world. It's so satisfying cracking how every move works and how you can use it to expand your movement in all new ways. Heck, the game even lets you work with LESS moves to sequence break however much you feel like you're able to. I've got into so many places I shouldn't have been and I felt rewarded every single time for doing so. Of course, you're gonna need everything to beat the game (I think?), but it feels so satisfying to do so no matter how limited or wide your tookit feels.
The atmosphere is also top notch. I loooove dream-like environments to death and this game does an excellent job of making the entire experience feel like a surreal dream. The art style, the music, and even the few bits of writing all tie together to make an excellent experience to jump and slide through like I'm Richter Belmont plopped into Klonoa and told to schmoove.
The one singular miiinor gripe I have is how easy it is to get lost. The game is small in scope so you're never lost for too long, but you can run around like a headless chicken for a while. I don't think a map would help very much, if anything it would defeat some of the point since the game is so small. Instead, I would add LANDMARKS. Things to make every room feel distinct in a way that isn't how the level design is arranged or something like that. This way you can have no map but still have a way to get your bearings in even the darkest of places.
Overall, I think I want to marry this game and have kids that look exactly like Pseudoregalia. Meaning I want more of this since this game is basically perfect aside from some quirks that prevent me from immediately putting it at a 10 or one of my favorites. I do think this game is probably my GOTY for 2023 even though it's such a short and sweet experience.
Go play it. It's cheap and short.
What does it mean to be an artist? Is it to create for yourself? For others? Is it even about having talent whatsoever? And how can you still love art if it becomes your work?
These questions and more are what Chicory proposes through both its gameplay and narrative. It's a very quirky game by nature, putting you in the shoes of a total goober coloring a now colorless world while interacting with the, well, colorful world and the characters who inhabit it. I have next to zero competence when it comes to drawing, yet this game was extremely accessible to someone like me. The world is your coloring book and it is shockingly enjoyable to sit down on a random screen of the game and either doodle to my heart's desire to make things as pretty as possible, throw color everywhere haphazardly, or screw around and draw Amoguses everywhere. Even for people who aren't very creatively oriented, there's still a very enjoyable and engaging puzzle adventure to explore and piece together bit by bit. It's not hard at all but Chicory as a game does a very good job of mixing together it elements into a canvas anybody can have fun painting onto.
The narrative reminds me a lot of Kiki's Delivery Service in the sense that the primary themes revolve around a passion and losing that passion to work, perfectionism, or simple artist's exhaustion. Doing anything over and over again is exhausting, let alone something that you love now with heaps and loads of pressure on your back. That's not to say the game ever says having work you're passionate about is a BAD thing, but it does explore the woes of the career artist as well as the hobbyist. As someone who wants to work as a creative myself someday, this story hit me like a freight train. Chicory's writing does a great job of telling you things straight but having the characters have very complex motivations to the point where they could and do reasonably make different decisions in very similar situations. The protagonist (default named Pizza, but I called them Pumpkn Pie) and Chicory (the character) both exemplify this perfectly as both grow and cope with the hand they've been given in very different ways while serving as great foil to one another. Pizza has no innate talent but carries artistic drive, while Chicory violently burned out even though she's definitively the best artist in the whole game. The relationship that forms between these two characters is very believable in both how they interact with one another and how they influence each other for the better, thankfully so since this is the backbone of the entire narrative. (Between this game and Wandersong, I've learned this team is VERY good at making strong protag-deuterag relationships that really explore the themes of the game.) It certainly helps that the cast of side characters are all very charming as well and suitably goofy to break up how honest and raw the main story beats can be.
The other parts of this game are also great, from the art direction managing to hit very good even in monochrome to the absolutely stellar soundtrack by Lena Raine that I'm confident I'll listen to a lot outside the game. There's not a lot to say here since the art style generally speaks for itself, and if I wanted to gush about the soundtrack I'd probably lean a bit into spoiler territory so I'll hold off.
The only real gripe I have with this game is that it's kind of a hassle to go find every little collectible for 100%, but I've learned that games should be enjoyed however much you want to. It's okay if I do most things while leaving a little to rest or go back to later. They're more or less all extras anyway. I feel like I got everything I wanted from this game. Progression can feel a bit boring and repetitive but these levels are so short I barely care, if I really feel bored I can just go do something else since there's lots TO do in Chicory.
I heavily recommend this game. It's very cute, charming, and surprisingly intelligent. Though the game might be a bit trickier without a mouse to really make things precise for those who love to draw all detailed.
A wonderful combination of heartfelt warmth and rolling tension amid a dark mystery, this game manages to constantly one-up itself with every move. My only complaints are that the bad endings are mostly bland and the trial-and-error nature of the game makes things way more tedious than they probably need to be. This is a game I can't really talk about much to those who don't know about it since so much of the fun is discovering the mystery, so just go play this already.
Side Note: The bonus anime preview included after the game ends made me die laughing because the TYPE-MOON art style clashes with the photorealism of literally everything else so hard. If only it were, y'know, actually good to circumvent that problem.