Reviews by Team: Indie bundle for Palestinian Aid
Finding the hidden gems
Take A Hike! is a very short visual novel by Jane Titor about three teenagers with botanically inspired names (Olive, Sage, and Heather) and their experiences during a hike in the woods. All are part of an outdoor education class led by a young teacher named Miss Yarrow. After Sage separates from the group, Olive runs after her to ensure she doesn’t get lost, and the two are soon joined by Heather.
This is a kinetic visual novel, meaning that you don’t get to make any choices. Or, as the game’s description puts it: “Follow three stressed-out teens on a journey full of bickering, mosquitoes, and self-discovery.”
The game includes only small amounts of original art, but the sprite assets by DejiNyucu are used to good effect throughout. (Credit: Jane Titor / DejiNyucu. Fair use.)
It’s a romantic story that doesn’t quite go where you might think it will. The writing is good, with a couple of moments that had me laugh out loud (especially the scenes with Miss Yarrow, the true heroine of this game). Take A Hike! is only about 30 minutes long; it’s $3.50 at full price, but if you have bought the Bundle for Palestinian Aid, you already own it. I enjoyed the hike, and only regretted that I didn’t get to spend more time with these characters.
Before I Forget is a narrative game by 3-Fold Games, a two person development team based in the UK. It tells the story of Sunita Appleby, a woman who is struggling to remember her life and to navigate her day-to-day reality. You play as Sunita and explore her home, looking for her husband, Dylan. The game uses color, sound and music to evoke Sunita’s memories and to guide her on her path.
Some of Sunita’s memories form brief, interactive experiences in their own right. For example, in one childhood memory, her aunt explains the constellations to her, using references from Indian mythology (Prajapati for Orion, Saptarishi for the Big Dipper). As the player, you follow the directions of “Leela auntie” to identify the stars she talks about on the night sky.
While the graphics are very basic throughout the game, the voice acting and music help immerse the player in Sunita’s world.
The experience is about an hour long. The game also includes optional developer commentary. When it is enabled, little speech bubbles appear in various locations that let you play audio commentary recordings that are relevant to the specific setting you are in.
As you examine the objects in Sunita’s home, the world around you changes from grayscale to color, creating a sense of discovery. (Credit: 3-Fold Games. Fair use.)
Before I Forget encourages us to treasure our life and the people in it; it also tries to convey the experience of dementia in a way that builds understanding and connection. But above all it is telling a story which is building up towards a significant emotional impact.
If you enjoyed games like Gone Home (review) and Firewatch (review), you are likely to appreciate the experience 3-Fold Games have created. The asking price of $8 is a bit high for a one hour game, but if you purchased itch.io’s Bundle for Palestinian Aid, remember that you already own Before I Forget. Unless you’re in an emotionally dark place or the topic strikes too close to home, you won’t regret going on this short narrative journey.