Now for a less depressing list. I like dungeon crawler RPGs, visual novels and basically anything with a good story. So here’s a list of games I’ve played and would recommend to similarly fucked up people.
Yes, I really don’t have anything better to write about right now.
- Dangan Ronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc & Dangan Ronpa 2: Goodbye Despair
My personal favourite series, I would recommend the games to anyone who enjoys mystery and dystopia stories.
Plot overview: A class of fifteen students (sixteen in Dangan Ronpa 2) are held inside their academy/a deserted island by a teddy bear called Monokuma (upupupupu). The only way to escape their confinement is to get away with killing one of their classmates and avoid getting discovered at the class trial, where they go over the evidence. Think of the Ace Attorney games with pink blood and zero grownups.
Thoughts: Dangan Ronpa somehow manages to maintain this lighthearted, colourful atmosphere, even though each chapter is about finding out who murdered your classmate. I got really invested in the characters, they’re so dynamic and complex, and I loved figuring out all the puzzles and mini games. What I enjoyed most about the games though is that they kept me guessing, which I find is an impressive feat. The thing with me is that I very rarely get surprised when it comes to the conclusion of a mystery or a story in general, because I can usually gather what could happen based on the information given, and prepare myself for the potential outcome. But Dangan Ronpa’s mysteries, I’ve found, will hide that one piece of information that’ll narrow everything down to the culprit until the very end, and in Chapter 2 of the first game and Chapter 4 of the second game, the unveiling of the culprits made me yell out at the console, that’s how off I was.
I’ll have to say this though; the typos in the second game really peeved me. I played the first game after watching a playthrough of the fan translation, and their spelling was pretty spot on, which made the second game so much more disappointing when it came to grammar and stuff. If it wasn’t Dangan Ronpa, I would’ve stopped playing, to be honest. I understand that the reason the spelling’s not that good is because they had to rush the translation, but seriously. This game is a visual novel, people. The story is the most important part. Pleaaaaase don’t do this again with Dangan Ronpa 3! I don’t care if it takes longer to translate as a result, just make sure everything is perfect! And that goes for voice acting too. I’m looking at you, Oogami’s voice actor from the English Dub! Seriously, your Japanese voice was heaps better. You did good with Gundam Tanaka though. *ovary explosion*
Squirmy parts: In my opinion, Dangan Ronpa 2 covers darker material than the first game, as it goes deeper into the dystopian universe that you barely brush on in Trigger Happy Havoc. The backstories of the students in particular become a lot darker in the sequel, and there’s a few creepy moments when you realise how much some of your classmates have gone off the deep end into psycho crazy. Also, YOUR FRIENDS ARE GETTING MURDERED. Squirm material RIGHT THERE.
- Corpse Party & Corpse Party: Book of Shadows
Ah….Corpse Party. Gruesome slaughtering of adolescents? Check. Completely unnecessary fanservice during these moments? Check. Sexy sociopaths that have me question my taste in men? Check. The first game is another dungeon crawler RPG horror, whereas the second game follows the typical visual novel point-and-click layout.
Plot Overview: The moral of this story should be DON’T DO CREEPY GHOST RITUALS, KIDS. This game’s about a group of students who get transported to the remains of Heavenly Host Academy, which is notorious for the murder of three primary school aged children (yes, it’s elementary in America. I’M CALLING IT PRIMARY. Thankyou,) by a teacher. After doing the Sachiko Forever After charm, the students find themselves separated from eachother, and desperately trying to survive and find a way out of there. The anime’s even worse- only two of the five characters who survived the game make it out alive. Kind of a ‘fuck you’ to those who played the game and said “haha, I know how this is gonna turn out,” when it came to watching the anime. Hahaha…NOPE.
Thoughts: Corpse Party isn’t my favourite game, but it’s still one that I’d consider a classic. Yes, yes, the panty-shots of possessed teenagers get old after a while, but it creates a story that stays with you long after you’ve finished the game. It touches on the adult fear that you could disappear and no one would know you’ve gone, that no one knows or cares that you’re spending the rest of eternity in pain. It also makes you wary of creepy ghost children for the rest of your life. I think that even if I have children, I will automatically be on guard if one of them wanders around at night. What’s that, tiny Satan? You need a glass of water? Too bad! The sequel, however, Book of Shadows, isn’t much more than a needless fanservice/additional gorn spinoff. The short stories following the original game’s bad end, while interesting, were too random in structure for me to get invested in, and the actual Book of Shadows portion of the game ends up as more of a bonus chapter than the focus, with a pesky to be continued after arguably the most nerve wracking part of the entire game. My personal opinions? Watch the game, don’t play it. There’s not that much playing to do. Watch NicoB’s let’s play of it.
Additionally, Corpse Party introduced me to one of the most annoying protagonists I ever had the misfortune to come across. I’m talking about Ayumi Shinozaki, who’s role in the plot is probably to make everyone else look better. I get why she’s in the story, of course. She, being a psychic, is more susceptible to the horrible atmosphere surrounding her, and therefore displays the immediate effects of being in Heavenly Host Academy. The problem is that she almost immediately falls to pieces, and pretty much stays that way for the rest of the game. And because the player doesn’t know about the darkening yet (and won’t till Chapter 5), this comes across as more of a character trait than something else manipulating her. It’s not just this though. Whenever Ayumi’s ‘back to normal’, after a possession or something, she just becomes even more of a bitch. She blows up at Yoshiki, who’s just trying to help her and has been saving her ass this whole time, and when they finally reunite with their friends, what does Ayumi do? Tell Naomi to avoid getting close to Mochida, her crush. Sigh…Ayumi, get your priorities straight. Alienating your classmate who’s best friend has killed herself
to her knowledge and who just attempted suicide herself is a definite bitch move. Not to mention you should be focusing on getting out of this demon infested school first.
Squirmy parts: Child murder. Lots and lots of child murder. And they’re very very graphic about it. Attempted rape-turned-murder. Panty-shots, girl on girl, and lots and lots of psycho crazy ghosts. And the anime is worse.
- Mad Father
I wrote a post on this a while back, discussing the difference between psychopaths and sociopaths. Just to warn you, there’s gonna be a lot about dungeon crawler Rpg horrors here. Come on! They’re so much fun!
Plot overview: So this is about a sweet little girl called Aya who lives with her father after her mother died mysteriously a year ago. One day, her house is overrun with zombies, so she goes and tries to find her father and rescue him. Mini chainsaw in hand, she makes her way through the absurdly large house and uncovers the truth behind her mother’s death. Oh, did I mention that Aya’s dad has been experimenting on people in his basement, and they’ve risen from the dead in order to get their revenge? Yeah….that’s happening.
My thoughts: Let me get this out of the way. The ending was made sense. Yeah, it caught me off guard too, but after the shock wore off, I realised that it had been in the cards from the start. Aya’s grown up with the screams of people in her basement, and shares the same DNA as her father. Then you stop to consider the more subtle hints at Aya’s future; where did Snowball get his wound from? Why is Aya so comfortable with a chainsaw? Not to mention she cuts open a dog to get a key in its stomach. There’s also a few other pieces that you wouldn’t get unless you went back and investigated Aya’s room; there’s a dead bird and cat in her drawer, like her father did in his journal. *gasp* Then again, if you’re one of those people who chooses to believe the alternate interpretation, that Aya became a doctor to actually help people, then that would make sense too. Just because Aya had a traumatic past doesn’t mean necessarily that she’s destined to be the abuser in the future. That doesn’t really explain why someone needs to be put under anaesthetic for an ordinary checkup though.
One of the things I like most about the Mad Father series are the little side quests where we get to help the ghosts find peace, and learn a little more about their backstories. One of my favourite moments was when the little girl ghost got reunited with her mother, and it was just moments like those that made me feel like Aya was trying to make things up to these angry spirits who were hurt by her father, and it showed what a different person she could become. Keep in mind that that was before Aya was revealed to be psycho crazy as well, subsequentially crushing the remains of my soul.
Squirmy parts: The psycho crazy is strong in this one. To add to the mix, we’ve got zombies, creepy dolls and a demon called Ogre. But he’s friendly. I think?
- Mogeko Castle
Yes, yes, this game is practically infamous. That’s why I played it. Dungeon crawler RPG horror with a lot of WTF moments.
Plot Overview: Okaaaaay, here we go. You’re a highschool student named Yonaka who accidently ends up at the mysterious Mogeko Castle. What’s a Mogeko, you ask? They’re cute little cat/bunny like creatures who are obsessed with prosciutto and high school girls. Yup. They wanna get in your pants. No, it’s not just subtle hinting, they openly talk about wanting to have sex with you. And your job is to get out of the castle. Simple.
Thoughts: Like I said before, a lot of WTF moments. But the story’s actually not bad, once you get over the fact that these cutesy bunny things are trying to rape you, and the music’s pretty awesome. While I can stand the not-so-subtle sexual references, I do have a problem with how the ending turned out. The thing is, if you’re making a game with a lot of WTF moments, you want the end to make at least a LITTLE bit of sense. It just came out of nowhere! Yonaka escapes, and concludes that it wasn’t a dream, goes home, finds her brother who’s just killed their parents, and kills him. And that concludes the Mogeko’s story…where it’s revealed that he’s reading to a comatose Yonaka whom he’s been drugging into unconciousness for an indefinite amount of time. Bwaaaaaaaah? Wait, how did we get here? No! You’re not allowed to jump through time like that, Game! No! Bad Game! I want answers! What happened between Shinya dying and Yonaka’s drug induced coma? How did she end up back at Mogeko Castle and into the hands of King mogedick? (Not his real name, FYI, people who haven’t played, I just really don’t like the asshole.) How much of the game was happening in Yonaka’s head? The only reason I’m not going on a rampage because of this is because there’s (apparently) going to be a sequel to this game, following one of the subplots featuring the Russian Mogekos (do you really need to ask?), so hopefully, they’ll show at least a little snip bit of what was actually happening. Mogeko Castle, you get a reprieve. For now.
Another problem I had was Yonaka’s character derailment. I don’t know about the rest of you who played it, but I liked Yonaka. She was the Straight Man, er, Girl.
Or Woman if you chose that option with the sleeping Mogeko. She was this quiet, reserved girl who rarely shows emotion (except when reacting to the Mogeko’s shinanigins, making everything more hilarious), and throughout the game, she manages to keep her shit together despite this whole situation. She wasn’t the stereotypical kawaii student council president who would break down and need her companion to drag her everywhere (Yes, I’m looking at YOU, AYUMI. Whiny bitch.) and I liked her for it. THEN, out of almost nowhere, she turns into this Onii-chan fanatic, who attempts to resurrect her brother in the normal end, even though he tried to kill her. As for the interview in the bonus dungeon, don’t get me started -_- As I said before, I’m hoping there’s more clarity in the sequel. Otherwise, they just threw out Yonaka’s personality and turned her into Little Sis-cest. For nothing.
Squirmy Parts: Let’s see…Mogekos are trying to molest you. So there’s that. There’s the Corpse Party-esque bad ending where you get a vivid description of how the Mad Mogekos eat Yonaka alive. There’s implications that Shinya and Yonaka have an incestuous relationship. Interracial love, if you ship Yonaka and Defect Mogeko. Lots of creepysauce. There’s the psycho Mogeko girl who keeps you as a sex slave in another bad ending. Aaaaand, finally, if you don’t like pre-marital sex, there’s the section where you can agree to sleep with a Mogeko. But COME ON. Please don’t play this game if that sort of stuff disgusts you! It’ll be your own fault for getting offended, and I will flick you in the nose for doing something so stupid.
- Dreaming Mary
A side scrolling adventure game that gets real dark real fast.
Plot overview: A girl called Mary goes to a world deep inside her dream, where she meets some of her old friends, who play with her before inviting her to go deeper into the dream. I’m sorry, did you think this was a cute game with bunnies and sunshine? Yeahhhhhh, no.
Thoughts: I found the game difficult at times, but I overlooked it because the music and the art style were so good. I will admit though, most of the enjoyment I derived from this game came from after I had completed it and was trying to see through all the symbolism. What formed my interpretation of the story was the Grimm’s version of Sleeping Beauty, where the prince is not a king, who’s not so nice, and he rapes Sleeping Beauty while she’s sleeping, which results in her giving birth to a boy and a girl. My theory is that Mary was Sleeping Beauty’s daughter, and as a result of the curse, she suffers from the same fate that her mother does, and thus, can’t escape her dream without ‘the key’. It’s implied that her father takes advantage of this, and molests his own daughter while she’s in one of these states. One of the saddest endings for me is the one where Mary enters the tree with no flower petals left, and it was only after I completed the ending where I had managed to complete all three challenges successfully that I realised how sad it actually was. In the latter, Mary goes into the tree, where it shows two handprints on the door, as if someone is banging on the door, trying to get away (shiver). There’s none of that in the other ending; she merely walks in, and everything fades to black. In that ending, Mary’s lost all her innocence, and has given up on hope. When Boaris invites her deeper into the dream, she follows him, not because she trusts him, but because she gives up and accepts her fate. WHY ARE ALL THESE GAMES I PLAY DARK AS FUCK?!
I was intrigued by the roles of Bunnilda, Penn Guindell and Foxanne in Mary’s dream, as in the end, passing or failing their challenges doesn’t contribute to you getting the good ending. It’s my understanding that they’re Mary’s maid, uncle and tutor respectively, who Mary went to for help; however, this doesn’t remedy the situation, and it ends up making Mary more likely to go deeper into the dream/submit to Boaris, her father, after all. For me, I saw this as the potential consequences of telling the truth. Failing the challenges causes you to lose flower petals/hope due to their reactions, which are disturbing to say the least; sweet and cutesy Bunnilda suddenly becomes malicious and mocking, and calm and collected Foxanne starts being aggressive towards you. When Mary asks for help, she is condemned for doing so; even Penn, who unlike the other animals doesn’t make a nightmare face upon you losing, sadly turns Mary down. As for the meaning of the red seed, I think that it’s a reference to pomegranate seeds in the story of Persephone and Hades, and how because she ate them, she can never truly get away. I think that Mary confided in the wrong people; granted, she didn’t know anyone else, but the people she told were servants of her father the King, or in the case of Penn Guindell, his brother, and out of misguided loyalty, (or in the case of Foxanne and Bunnilda, fear for their position as a member of the royal household) confide in Mary’s father. In the end, the only way Mary can get this to stop is to break out of the dream herself.
Squirmy parts: It’s pretty much agreed upon by all who played that there’s strong implications of molestation. Bunnilda and Foxanne’s nightmare faces deserve a mention, along with the giant shadow monster that chases after you after you stand up to Boaris. As for Boaris himself, he’s creepy as fuck. Come on. We know what you mean by ‘seed’, you sick twisted asshole.
- Alice Mare
This game is depressing as hell. And yet it’s one of my favourite stories. What the hell is wrong with me?
Plot overview: Okay, so there’s two demons known as the Cheshire Cat and the White Rabbit, who like to eat children’s souls. They accomplish this by effectively ruining their lives; the White Rabbit uses his power to make parents crueler to their children, thus make them more likely to be fucked up, and the Cheshire Cat takes away XXXX from the children. By doing this, the children are more likely to end up in their own individual nightmare world, which makes them easy prey for the demons. This happens to Allen, an amnesiac, and his five friends, and the only way they can escape is by gathering the keys to these worlds and choosing one of them to stay behind and essentially sacrifice themself. And no, I have no intention of telling you what XXXX is, by the way.
Thoughts: Is it just me, or does everything I love cause me pain? This game has it all; this universe is so interesting and complex, the characters are wonderfully constructed, and the music is gorgeous! Unfortunately, I fell into the habit of calling Teacher, and I quote, “suspicious looking Daniel” and the true end subsequently left me in tears. I found the whole concept very interesting in relation to issues as mental illness, and I ended up spending way too much time thinking about it. Maybe that was the first game that permanently fucked me up. Not that I’m complaining much.
What really got to me though was how they wrote each of the children’s backstories. As I said before, the White Rabbit changes the children’s fate, and there’s a real sense of tragedy in that each of the children blames themselves for events that were really out of their control, and struggle to make sense of their past; one of the most painful stories for me was Rick’s, because it made me think so much of Kaya, and I crumbled when at the end, he asked “is her pain the reason I exist?”. And yes, I figured out who Rick actually was from the start.
Squirmy Parts: As opposed to the last few games, this one depends more on the atmosphere of the whole situation to scare you, rather than jumpscares or blood and guts. The game touches on plenty of adult themes, and explores how they can effect a child. Unlike Dreaming Mary, there’s no reference to sexual abuse, though physical and emotional abuse is shown, as is neglect. Death and suicide is one of the more prominant themes, as is mental illness, which is referred to in the game as ‘nightmare syndrome’.
Soooooo, those are all the games I’ve been playing. They’re not games like Bioshock or Heavy Rain, but I enjoy them, and they help me s
tay insane. What games do you nonexistent readers recommend?
Love Cat Madigan