Monthly gaming reviews by self-confessed noob, Bethany Griffiths!
The most recent review is posted here monthly. To browse the entire back catalogue by title and go to a specific review, CLICK HERE!
#27: Ori and the Blind Forest
What’s up everybody! (you know, every time I say that, I want to say ‘Hello Bujamburan’s’, from George of the Jungle, but I don’t really know the social implications of just addressing people from Bujambura on this channel, so for what it’s worth if y’all are out there…Hi) It’s ya boi, Bethany Griffiths, coming atcha almost live, with this month’s Beta Test, a game review platform where I choose one game a month to go ham on until either I get better or get wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely (un)biased review.
What a month it’s been. I’m ass deep in possibly contagious patients, while getting a severe case of anxiety induced hypochondria, which means I’m fine at home, but can’t physically breathe at work because my windpipe feels like it’s burning, and my chest has an unpoppable bubble in it. Due to that, I’m also ass deep in the escapism of video games, because nothing says intense fear like burying my head in the sand and playing something I know I have a fighting chance at winning (because let’s be real here, there is no war in Ba Sing Se, and there is no COVID-19 pandemic in Melbourne). I’m not on my 5th drink into the night, you are. That’s not Gin, it’s…Cranberry soda? Ugh.
Ori and the Blind Forest is a multi level platformer that expresses story line through conservation and activism, implementing heart-string moments and themes such as loss, love, and light, to exemplify the circle of life (Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba). You play as Ori, a child of the Spirit Tree, the Governing force of the land of Nibel. Ori must reunite the elements to bring back peace to the land. It’s a harrowing journey, one only achievable with the force of your love, and the strength of your character (sometimes literally).
Developed by Moon Studios GmbH, and Published by Xbox Game Studios, Ori is a fantastic way to channel your quarantine tension into gamer tension instead. Judging by the ferocity of which I tried to demolish this game, the average noob will spend the better part of a week dodging obsticles, jumping from lanterns, and trying REALLY FUCKING HARD to get passed the water tree timer level (aka. My Hell).
The game is a classic platformer with power ups, levels, and enemies you can’t defeat with one blow. In this way, I really respect the game. It takes what I loved about the game play of Hollow Knight, the un-linear nature and learned abilities, swishes it around with the skill set of Vampyr, with the skill tree, and power up choice, and wraps it up in a small little animal based package.
Really I can only downfall this game in one area. I can’t berate it for the lack of extra lives you get, because you create your own save points. Nor can I discredit the amount of storytelling, as you can play as a pure story base, or branch out into various degrees of difficulty. No, the only fault I have with Ori and the Blind Forest is that you can’t set the WASD keys. I spent forever playing hollow knight, so when the switch over happened, I was constantly pressing D expecting to dash, only to find the ctrl key sitting wondering why the hell it wasn’t being used. There are options, oh yes, but shifting to the mouse isn’t going to fly, and the other configurations hurt my small Bethany head to try and figure it out. Long story short, I got stuck for a WHILE wondering why I wasn’t moving like I’ve seen every other gamer move. (and no, it’s not cos I suck. I take pride in my inability to game. Come at me Susan)
Over all though, Ori and the Blind Forest is a delightful game, choc full of explorative adventures waiting to be found. I had a great time finding new hidey holes and creating chaos where I could. Overall a very impressive, constructive game with a wholesome vibe, and super fun art style.
Yo dawg, I heard you liked the game, so I put a score in your review, so you could game while you game, and for that reason I give this Xzibit, I mean, Game:
4/5 NARU’S for style
0/5 NARU’S for plotline
0/5 NARU’S for easiness
5/5 NARU’S for Aesthetic jumping maneuvers
What? It’s over? Well not so fast. CROSS PROMOTION TIME. Have you ever enjoyed a podcast? Do you listen to The Monthly? A podcast called FRED? FRED watch? Then you’ll love to hear me ramble on my super new and impressive DnD podcast! ‘Wow, I’m interested’, you say? So am I! The Support Party is a podcast of stressed women playing Dungeons and Dragons with all supporting roles! We bring the drama, to bring you Calm-a (not Karma, which is a totally different thing, and I can not guarantee the expression of Karma onto any individual, but ya like to think it’s there right? anyway…). Follow our journey, comin atcha live in the next few weeks at #thesupportparty. Get on it!
Till then, I’ve been and always will be Bethany Griffiths, and this has been Beta Test, A game review platform where I either got better or got wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely (un)biased review.
Stay safe out there, and if you get COVID-19, remember, it’s a string of RNA, and you’re a pussy if you let RNA beat you. It’s not even DNA based! (not but seriously stay safe. I love you. Take care of our imuno-compromised and elderly. Don’t be a dick with toilet paper. God is watching).
See you all next time!
Good morning gamers. You may have been following me for a while now, so you know that I normally start here with a witty intro that may or may not be fantasticalised by my overzealous brain. You may also think I’m pulling a bit here, but the truth guys is that I have to get something off my chest, and I hope you have the time to sit and read.
To whomever may be reading this. I don’t know if you’re there, if you’ve been reading since the beginning in 2018, or if you just tuned in, but no matter where our journey began, I want to say thank you. Over the years I’ve been battling major depression and anxiety, ignited through the loss of a loved one, and propelled by fear and uncertainty. In fact, for a long time, the only certain thing I could count on was taking the time out of my month to write for you.
The imaginary you.
In this time of my creation ‘Beta Test’, I’ve lost a lot of close friends, I’ve become stuck in a job that is nothing but soul destroying, I’ve lost my acting mojo, and I’ve lost faith in the people I work with on most platforms of my creation. That is a cold fact that I’m not proud of, and it is not lost on me that I have to constantly fight to stay afloat. It’s tricky. But I have never lost hope in you. If there are 40 people this reaches, or 4, (or one), I really honestly want to express my gratitude for the strength you’ve given me. The fact of the matter is I need you, and you have been there, reading along, and you have saved me.
Joining FRED the ALIEN started as an acting gig for a character on UNI-bums, a character I wish I was sometimes. Strong, and smart, and fierce. When I decided to create a blog it was because I picked up a controller for the first time in my adult life to play Cuphead, (a game that would ultimately best me over in glorious fashion, until I rage quit) and as time has gone on, this blog has truly become my baby. I thank FRED for giving me the platform to stage my creation, and hope it brings joy to the people that give it the time of day. I have grown, and this has grown with me, and much like Jenny, I have learnt to experience new and sometimes daunting adventures with assured certainty that win or lose, I can always be Beta.
If you’ve read this far, don’t worry, there’s a review at the end of this rant, but really – from the bottom of my heart, thank you for all the support you’ve given me. It’s been a life saver.
So this is Bethany Griffiths, of Melbourne Victoria, and this is Beta Test, a game review platform where I choose one game a month to go ham on until either I get better or get wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely (un)biased review.
MINECRAFT! The game of the decade! The pit of wasted time that’s been guzzling up my hours since the early 10’s, the ‘I can never quite quit you’ game that always gets you coming back for more. Binge worthy, creative, and open plan, It’s been drawing people in like a horse to quicksand (slight Never Ending Story reference there. Anyone? Artax? ARTAX!).
Developed by Mojang, Markus Persson, 4J Studios, Other Ocean Interactive, and Xbox Game Studios, Minecraft is a unique first person world builder that concentrates around a solitary character and their interactions with the pixelated world around them. Honestly, I would call this a farming simulator, but it’s beyond that. It’s VR without the VR, Valley without the Stardew, the Bob Ross of simulators.
Game play is simple. You start in a world that is either set to general game play, or creative mode (where you can focus on building structures without the resource gathering component). If you find yourself in a game play scenario, you have till nightfall to create a shelter before the monsters come out to hunt you. These monsters include Zombies, Spiders, Skeletons, Creepers (think Mario’s Bob Omb’s but longer…and greener), and Endermen which…Look, I think they’re inter-dimensional shadow beings created from the energy that the player leaves behind, but I’ve been told they’re another species entirely. Once a shelter is built, resources can be obtained by either fashioning tools, and crafting tables, or by punching the shit out of a whole lot of pixel blocks. Choice is yours.
The end game, because there is an end game, is to eventually build a portal to ‘The End’. An alternate reality, where time stands non-linear. Not to be confused with ‘The Nether’, another dimension that has its own scary nature to it (seriously, somebody took ‘the floor is made of lava’ way out of context). The End is filled with Endermen and a boss you have to beat with whatever you brought along with you (so I hoped you packed a sword…and my bow…and my a-anyway you get the picture).
Even with the concept of completion in sight though, you don’t ever HAVE to reach The End. What I love about Minecraft is the hours upon hours you can spend going through the infinitely spawning world around you. Diving into sea caverns, exploring caves, geoscaping, finding tunnels to convert into homes, the choices are really endless. In fact, I have a game that HAS to be roughly 6 years old by now. Have I outdone myself? Probably. Will I stop? Dear god no. This game has gotten me through holes bigger than Shia LeBeouf wishes he could dig, and that’s saying something for the man who ‘isn’t famous anymore’.
Bear-ing in mind, get it, *Your leg AAH, it’s caught in a bear trap* lol so funny that song sticks like gum to a footpath, anyway…Bearing in mind the fact that this is a classic learning game that absolutely anyone can play, and the spirit of adventure that it brings; I give Minecraft:
4/5 ENDERMEN for style
0/5 ENDERMEN for plotline
4/5 ENDERMEN for easiness
5/5 ENDERMEN for Blocky Blocky goodness!
OK Seriously though, I said Shia Lebeouf earlier and now it’s just my brain going *SHIA SURPRISE*. Oh well C’est La Vie. What now? Well I’m going to listen to Rob Cantor sing one specific song for 3 hours while I binge Minecraft again, but if you’ve got a game you want me to die in, or have a good tip for a previously existing game let me know! Till then, I’ve been Bethany Griffiths, and this has been Beta Test, A game review platform where I either got better or got wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely (un)biased review.
Thank you infinitely for your company, and your support,
#25: Logical Journey of the Zoombinis
What to do! What to do! The year is 2004. Your ten year old and six year old desperately want a video game. You’ve tried Maths invaders! They get bored. Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego is too hard. Duke Nukem is right out. With all the pressure of raising children right in this new age of technology you are terrified of putting them behind the rest of their class. What will their teachers say? What will your Mother say? What will your increasingly snobby mother’s group (who are all raising geniuses) say? No! You need something fun and educational … Something sneaky, Something that will break down barriers without letting your children know they’re doing maths, and problem solving.
You pick up the Scholastic brochures, already in a spin over so many of the options, your eyes scan the page. Your hands tremble. What if you pick the wrong product? What if your children hate it? What if it’s uncool? Slowly you trail through the options when all of a sudden your children barge in, screaming at the top of their lungs “MUM CAN WE GET ZOOMBINIS PLEASE PLEASE CAN WE! CAN WE GET ZOOMBINIS AT SCHOOL!”
It’s on page three of the Lucky booklet.
Bonjour my little blue explorers! I’m Bethany Griffiths, and this is Beta Test! A game review platform where I – Great overlord and saviour – choose one game a month to go ham on until either I get better or get wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely (un)biased review.
A small point on that intro before we kick off. My mother has been buying edutainment games for my brother and I since we got a computer (which is to say: before my brother was born). She’s very hip and groovy, and would not like people to think she was behind the times. Good on ya mum. Love you.
No but seriously, Zoombinis was one in a long line of early learning development games we were privy to as children (Freddie Fish, and Put Put also feature). The early 2000’s was rife with the stuff, what with the millennium bug having failed, and kid’s were given video games as an aid to the 6 hours of T.V time we spent watching Play School and Sesame Street. Yes, life was good for a borderline millennial like me, and this game goes down in history as one of the classics.
Developed by TERC, and published by Viva Media, Logical Journey Of The Zoombinis is the first instalment in a trilogy of games set to inspire young players by displaying problem solving conundrums of the maths based variety. Children aim to get the little blue critters from one side of the map to the other by defeating ‘enemies’ and surviving natural disasters. The aim of the game is to find a new homeland for the Zoombinis, after their own city was taken over by what I can only explain to you as white people. (No, seriously, they’re called the Bloats, and they trick the Zoombinis into becoming slaves in their own land. Sounds like every history book I’ve ever read)
I binged this game when I got it to relive maximum nostalgia and if there’s something I truly wasn’t prepared for it’s that this game is hard! This game has had me stumped to the core, trying to figure out what mirrors I needed to set, what order I could pull of in the bloody tiger room, and don’t get me started on the goddamn bubbles from hell!. I remember feeling absolute terror when I got my Zoombinis sucked down a void the first time in Bubble Wonder Abyss, but the defeat of realising you’re an adult ans *still* don’t know what to do to get the little guys to the promised land is disgusting. Full disclosure, I had to get my mum to finish the rest of the game after I failed it the first time because I was so distraught.
This game is for 8 year old’s and my 25 year old brain still can’t understand the first obstacle of the entire saga (on Very Very Hard mode). This game’s first ranking is ‘not so easy’. This game’s difficulty ranking is like the Australian fire rating chart. I am both elated and horrified.
What I love more than anything with Zoombinis is the reliable fact that it delivers. It promises a learning experience, and boy howdy does it deliver. This along with the great revamp on the art style (because yes, it’s so old it got a re-release, Spyro Who?), I give this game:
3/5 ZOOMBINIS for style
2/5 ZOOMBINIS for plotline
3/5 ZOOMBINIS for easiness
5/5 ZOOMBINIS for *dang DANG dang DANG dang-A-dang dang-A-dang dang-A-dang DANG-DANG-DANG-A-dang dang DANG dang*
So dang son, what’s next? I’m going to play this till my eyes bleed, but how about you? Got a game you want me to roast the shit out of? Got an old hit you want to put to the test of time? Want to give me a game I love so much I’ll actually physically die for it? Let me know! Till then, I’ve been Bethany Griffiths, and this has been Beta Test, A game review platform where I either got better or got wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely (un)biased review.
Until next time,
#24: Pit People
Imagine you’re me circa 2017. You’re in a children’s toy store, because you work there. The shelves are stacked way passed an OH&S safe level because the area manager is a dick. The store is quiet because it’s 8:20 on a Thursday evening, and the only thing you’re allowed to play is this ONE Electro Swing Spotify playlist because it’s either that or the ‘hottest 100’, and you’re not going to play Blurred Lines…in a children’s toy store… One song comes on, it’s upbeat, has a catchy hook, and it’s towards the end of the playlist so you know it’s almost time to close. You and your boss have a bit of a quiet boogie as you mop and sweep for EOD. You make $80 that day.
Now imagine you’re me circa right the heck now, and you open a new game. The themes are strong, the characters are bold, and… wait…is that…I know this…OH MY GOD! ‘Wash My Hands’ by Kormac starts pumping into your headphones. War flashbacks beseech your senses, you can smell the floor cleaner and lemon myrtle soap. You can see the fluorescent lights. In the distance: Security alarms. Ah yes, Retail never truly left you. It just waited in the darkness for the right time to strike the hippocampus. And it fucking hurt.
*FIERCE WAR CRY* I’m Bethany Griffiths, and this is Beta Test! A game review platform where I – Blueberry muncher – choose one game a month to go ham on until either I get better or get wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely (un)biased review.
Developed and published by The Behemoth, Pit People is a turn based battle royale game that focuses heavily on side quests and item collection to fuel your army of fighters. The story centres around Horatio, the unwitting hero ad humble blueberry farmer, that is flung into the world of fighting after his son is tragically squashed by *ahem* a big purple bear in the sky. (trust me, it makes sense when you play it). From there Horatio makes friends, enemies, and builds up his swole physique to battle onward into glory.
‘Firstable’, let me just say the animation in this game is everything. The cartoon graphics zip in and out of the frame with ease, and there’s no lag at all. Every character has its own movement pattern, and the team at The Behemoth did such a good job incorporating all the different collectable (wearable) elements on each person.
‘Second-diddly-ary’ this game has a banging soundtrack The electro swing really bops and allows you to get into the groove…Unfortunately as you just read, it also gives me intense retail flashbacks, so the groove to me is: Depressy, Stressy, Messy, and unlawfully being forced onto a casual contract (Read more by googling Australian Geographic Lawsuit). Regardless though it’s the best genre for this quirky kind of game. I always like it when these sorts of games know their niche and go for gold, it works in the game’s favour every time, and this is no exception.
What I really do love about Pit People above all else though, and this is probably why I’m such a sucker for this game, is that it hearkens back to the games I played as a really small child. Games like Guardian’s Crusade, and Pokemon were my family’s jam for many reasons, mostly because you amass a giant army of power and obliterate the competition, but also because of the connections you made to the characters along the way. We’ve all had that Zigzagoon, or Poochyena that we just couldn’t bare to get rid of, and this gives me all that and a bag of chips (note, the game doesn’t actually provide me with a bag of chips, but there IS a red solo cup if you’re into that #fratlife). Indeed, the best games, I think, are the ones where you take a party of adventurers on quests, and battle it out until you win… Just win, dying is not an option, I live by the blade.
On top of that, the art style is just *smooch*. You know when you see something done really well and immediately want to lick it? No? Just me? Well it does that. Everything is just so detailed! From the town square, to the loading screens, and everything inbetween. I really can’t fault this game at all, it’s very well done and the team at work shound be super proud of their achievements. A+
Because I’m the one writing this and I make the rules, I give this game:
5/5 HORATIO’S for style
4/5 HORATIO’S for plot line
3/5 HORATIO’S for easiness
5/5 HORATIO’S for STAMPER’S STRONG VOICE ACTING
So I’m going to go play this every waking chance I get now. It’s just that good, cash me inside for 50 days straight howboutdah. I’ve been Bethany Griffiths, and this has been Beta Test, A game review platform where I either got better or got wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely (un)biased review.
Until next time,
#23: The Sims 4
The year: 2007
The game: The Sims 2
My Brother: Not allowed to watch the giant Woo-Hoo display video concentrated around two sims (one of which is me, and the other my primary school crush that would eventually disappear into the realm of obscurity). I try to tell him to go away, that this is an adult thing and that he’s not allowed to watch. He is 9 years old and thinks he is also very grown up, also that I never let him do anything. My mother is unphased, but to me, a responsible 13 year old with an unhealthy fear of fucking up, letting my brother watch two sims give each other bedroom eyes is unfathomable. I am afraid. My brother is happy to spend time with me. The sims whisper to each other to initiate the coital action…
The cut scene doesn’t play because I forgot I disabled the feature.
Dag Dag Plumbobs! I’m Bethany Griffiths, and this is Beta Test! A game review platform where I – Tira Mirnah – choose one game a month to go ham on until either I get better or get wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely (un)biased review.
OH YEAH, the heavyweight of games. The legendary big boi. The only reason I own Origin. The ‘Katsu Tsu’ graveyard of Maxis dreams.No, don’t let my intro fool you, gone are the days of The Sims 2, now it’s all about The Sims 4! I have played this game so heavily over the years I have to tell you, It has become my life for months at a time. I have lost days of sleep due to collecting every single collectable, skill, and expansion pack available. I have gone long long hours of game play only for a Sim to die or the game to crash (early Sims 2) and realise I haven’t saved in the last Seven hours. My love for The Sims can not be eclipsed by anything this worldly on the video game market! (until they bring out a Tanz Der Vampire game, but I don’t see that happening this millennia soooo)
Developed by Maxis, and published by Electronic Arts [EA games ‘Challenge everything’ *fwish*], The Sims 4, most modern of sims franchise games, is a virtual world simulator where you control a fully customisable character(s). The characters are given personalities granted through three base traits that you can expand on by following lifetime achievements, and fulfilling goals. You create everything for them including housing which is also fully customisable, from the ground up. The base game comes with a very comfortable amount of material for you to shape and build your sims’ world around them, build their house, create connections, and family trees however expansion packs are available to provide new exciting experiences for your little mini me’s AND BITCH GUESS WHAT JUST CAME OUT! The Sims 4 is now a ~University Graduate~, and I am so pumped! (Footnote: this review is going to be about the sims 4: Discover University. Want me to review the base game? Drop me a line buckaroo)
Ok so first of all, no I didn’t pre-order, this is not Fallout 76, I will not tell a company that I’m happy with a bullshit product. I look for QUALITY in my Sims. And quality I got. So with that in mind, hold on to your seats because this bitch is back and Tina Turner is Quaking!
The Sims 4: Discover University is an expansion that I’ve frankly been waiting for ever since The Sims 2 stopped being a thing (get outta here with your Sims 3. It’s a completely different game and holds no bearing to the sims universe in my opinion. Also the game renders horribly. Get. Out). Yes, long have the days been since I could add spicy plot lines like ‘oh no I’m failing my degree’, and ‘oh no I didn’t get accepted into my course’, and the coveted ‘bitch watch me change my education degree into an arts degree and grow in HECCS debt’ (all real life Bethany created, Bethany lived scenarios). But now! Now I get to see the glory of education, I get to dive into the sea of fraternities, and dorky drama clubs that I may or may not have been president, vice president, and treasurer of in one single year. I get cool new clothing options! Yeah baby mamma I’m there!
The game itself runs beautifully. My computer fans might want to take off and fly about the room, but it’s smooth as a giant memory stored game can be. It seems as well that with every installation the detail gets better and better, for instance, the original hair textures were good, but there were better mods for The Sims 2 that I could have been using (anyone else use Modthesims.com or was it just me? Shout out to Bruno!) These ones though! There’s so much texture, such a variety, there’s so many more options for ethnically diverse sims! I can finally build a sim that has dreads that don’t look like Post Malone got high on meth and tried to style Ariana Grande’s hair. And Hijabs are a thing now! It’s so exciting to be given the gift of creation and I’m so happy that people that felt like they couldn’t truly create themselves or felt excluded in the game can now partake and feel like they can join in the community! (I realise that the game still has a lot it could do to adjust to people and cultures across the world, and while I wholeheartedly rejoice in the small victories that have been given, I do wish they came sooner. I am not blind to that fact. If you want to talk about ethnicity and diversity in the gaming sphere I would love to be an ear for you, and facilitate you. Please drop me a line, and we can get the convo started)
Coming back from that, I have noted some differences to the original 2 package. The most stark being you need to apply to a university, you can’t make sims to slot into Uni like The Sims 2. That was the first thing I tried, and I was ‘uuugh’ing at the effort it would take to put a sim in a house, apply, wait for the response, and move them in to the dorm rooms. (all in all 20 mins of game play). Once I got started though, it was fine, and I feel like the reward for taking care of your sims skills and needs is in the acceptance to the university itself. Springing off that, once you get in there is a finite amount of electives you can do per degree. Elective opportunities hinge of the amount of core subjects you take per term, and once you hit your max you can’t choose more. For example: I took 2 terms of 4 core subjects with 1 elective each, that’s a total of 12 credit points, the next semester I choose 3 core subjects. Because I have hit 15 credit points with my last 3, I can’t choose an elective even though I have room in my calendar. Not a problem for the average or casual gamer but I NOTICED AND WANTED MY SIMS TO TAKE MORE CLASSES DAMN IT. On the tone of classes, you can put out a student loan (which does nothing if not remind me of my $23,500 debt), instead of paying it straight up. Scholarships are available though, and are pretty easy to get into if you grind your sims the way I do.
From a game play perspective, the only jabs I have are that you don’t actually see the graduation ceremony. I would love a wedding type scenario where your family comes and sees you cross the stage and throw a cap, but I digress it doesn’t detract from the game play at all. School terms also start differently for each sim, dependent on when they enrol, so say I had a set of siblings at the uni but one got in before the other, that sim will graduate first, which is a bit of a hassle if you want to develop them at the same rate. The good news is though, you don’t have to leave campus straight away if you live on an ‘on campus, self owned’ lot, so I could keep my siblings together till they both graduated which I thought was a much nicer feature than ‘your sim has graduated. They have 24 hours to pack up their shit and leave’ (paraphrased obviously).
Also as a side note, there is no bar to tell you your grades (which for me, perfectionist supremo, was very hard to cope with), however, you can email your lecturer to ask how you’re going, which was a blessing because I HATE accidentally ruining my sims lives. All ruining must be intentional damn it! And I also figured out that once you go into a dorm room you can’t rearrange uni housing, that is, there is no build mode in the University established buildings. This isn’t tooooo bad because there’s a buy station like in the camping expansion that lets you grab furniture, rugs, books, kegs for keg stands, you know…the usual.
Wow this has been long, I didn’t expect this to go on but I had so much to say! All in all I have found this expansion and recent updates very enjoyable, and would absolutely recommend The Sims 4 to anyone seeking a classic casual game to fall into the llama hole of.
Because of no other reason than it’s the bloody Sims bitch, I give this game:
4/5 PLUMBOB’S for style
0/5 PLUMBOB’S for plot line (it doesn’t need plot line. YOU are the plot line)
5/5 PLUMBOB’S for easiness
5/5 PLUMBOB’S for GOD TIER GAME STATUS
What now? Gonna Game? In the words of the popular YouTuber Thomas ‘TomSka’ Ridgewell, while shaving off his own eyebrows, “Why? Why not? Why anything?”. If that is the case then go ahead and jump on my bandwagon, fling yourself into the abyss of The Sims 4, you won’t regret it! (also if anyone has TomSka’s details please let a bitch know. I NEED that sweet sweet colab deal. We can shave my undercut into a penis, I don’t care) Anyway, I’m way too hyped on the idea of The Sims (I almost said ‘nerd juice’ there in that sentence and I retracted that real quick) to be doing outro’s, sOOOOooooOOOO…
I’ve been Bethany Griffiths, and this has been Beta Test, A game review platform where I either got better or got wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely (un)biased review.
Until next time,
#22: Beholder 2
*Adjusts set top box* Ok, maybe over here? ‘These Lima beans are even better than the ones we had for breakfast and lunch! Ooh a Lima bean that looks just like the Leader, I’ll put it with the others!’, okay…or ‘I am covered in the dust of the Leader, he favours me!’, wait, how about ‘Nananananananana LEADER’, DAMN IT!
Do you want to see the inner workings of my head? Do you want to see all that’s left after this month? Please, allow me to introduce you to the running gag reel of simpsons quotes I’ve been non stop pelting myself with!
All hail the Leader, Citizens. I’m Bethany Griffiths, and This is Beta Test! A game review platform where I – H O V E R B I K E Enthusiast – choose one game a month to go ham on until either I get better or get wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely (un)biased review.
Yes my lovelies, the winter’s gone, the snow’s depart, the dead sleep on, it’s me! (Not Bertolt Brecht. Please don’t @me with your high school theatre complaints. No one can save you from the trauma of your youth). Spring is here, and you know what that means! Out with the seasonal depression, in with the regular, rapidly rising, levels of anxiety! I feel rejuvenated, relaxed, ready to huff pollen, and snort baby birds. Got a squirrel? It’s now my minion. All praise to Persephone! I’m here, I’m queer, Spring is in the air!
…Maybe I need to lay off the Zertec.
OK, you’re probably thinking I’ve gone mad, and yes, The Funny Farm is on a loop on my Spotify right now, HOWEVER it’s a good thing I’m revved up because that’s the most exciting thing about this review. Yes, sorry for the whiplash but I’ve just played one of the hardest games I’ve had to stomach in a long time. Yes, not since the days of Batman – The Enemy Within have I been so thoroughly disappointed on a game. Maybe there’s a reason I associate the two together. Both are a joke.
Beholder 2, a Warm Lamp Games and Alawar Premium creation, Tells the story of Evan Redgrave – Son of a ministry worker, who takes over his father’s place at work after his untimely demise. Set once again under the Iron curtain, with very thinly veiled references to both North Korea and China, You have to navigate through tough monetary decisions, relentless coworkers, and gruelling tasks such as working an office job, and paying bills…and reading books…OK can I just actually not. Can I do anything but this please.
Look, I don’t know how much you know about my actual real life money job (because honestly it’s really not the game’s fault I hate it) but most days I have to sit in the back room of a hospital for 8.5 hours, and answer over 120 phone calls a day about customer complaints, questions, queries, and bookings. To say I live this game is an understatement and I can’t. I can’t do it. I can’t sit at a desk for EIGHT POINT FIVE hours a day, answering phones, telling people that yes, they need a referral to see us, and no, we don’t give out our doctors’ personal home phone numbers, and sorry I know you have cancer but your GP didn’t fax through a referral, (a real, true scenario that I wish I could erase from my mind) then come home and play a game where I sit at a desk for 8 hours hearing people say stupid shit, and telling people that the best way to criminalise their wife/son/poet neighbour is to HaiL tHe LeADeR. I just can’t do it. Even with subplot. Even with all the intrigue. Not even the sudden shocking deaths can save this game for me.
Beholder 2 had a lot to live up to. The original game is one of my all time favourites, and I was so excited to play the continuation. I was holding out till I got a good quiet month, so I could focus all my time into giving this game all the attention it deserved. ALAS, I was let down like a Simpson on a hover-bike. My dreams of a good gaming month ruined. I was angrily ‘MMMMMMM’ing all the way through my time in this never ending cycle of wake, work, repeat and no I’m not okay.
On the technical side, because at this point I really do just have to be objective, the specs are OK, as a sole PC user though, it was painfully obvious that this was made with the intention of being played primarily on the Switch.
You walk in a beautifully rendered 3D rendered space, but only use the left and right buttons, with your mouse trailing behind you as you scan for anything remotely clickable. The lack of physical depth on the screen is jarring, especially coming from it’s 2D predecessor, which not only boasted the best of 2D character design, but enabled 3D world movement with mouse touches. The game is repetitive to a blunt point. Not only in the monotony of everyday life, but also in the map. It was genuinely exciting to see all the places I could be going, and I was so disappointed that all it was was a flat plane. What’s worse is the devs even knew this, because you get a map near the start of the game, and the character that gives it to you says that it will save time from running from one side to the other.
The reason I’m so mad though, beyond the specs, the game play, my job, is that this game is visually stunning. I love the art style. I get to see everything I loved about the first game’s characters reflected back in amazing 3D. I want to play so much more of this game but I physically just can’t!
Because of the pitiful whining coming from my microphone, and the sobbing cry of loss from inside my head, I give this game:
4/5 Dead Colleagues for style.
2/5 Dead Colleagues for plot line.
0/5 Dead Colleagues for easiness.
0/5 Dead Colleagues for NO.
Jesus hell, I don’t even want to do an outro, that’s how upset I am. I can honestly say I’m so glad this month is over. It gave me nothing but avoidance and pain. Also, if you recall I did a review of the original, and in the outro I said ‘Good thing there’s a sequel, or I’d be suffering withdrawals!’. WHERE IS YOUR GOD NOW PAST BETHANY? WHERE? Well, shit, I’ve been Bethany Griffiths, and this has been Beta Test. A game review platform where I either got better or got wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely (un)biased review.
Until next time.
#21: Plants Vs. Zombies
Ok so cat’s out of the bag, I have absolutely played this before. Can you blame me for visiting an old classic? I swear I used to be so good at this game I was going to start a walk through YouTube channel for it before that sort of thing was cool (yes yes, I live in South Melbourne, I drink coffee from a theatre run co-op, and buy overpriced groceries from urban hippies, I know I’m pretentious, shut up).
The zombies are coming! I’m Bethany Griffiths, and this is Beta Test. A game review platform where I, a crazy plant lady, choose one game a month to go ham on until either I get better or get wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely (un)biased review.
Fringe season is upon us! Yes oh yes is the central hub of weird arts slamming into my face quicker than a pea shooter on acid. The colour, the lights, finding out you’re seeing a live porn act brought to you solely through mime! Priceless. And while some may be performing in plays, arts, or tributes to lost creative souls past present and future, Ya girl is staying in to play video games. By choice? No. Does it ease the slow agonising slip into the nether vortex of self hate from lack of expression, and guided interest? Yes, Yes it does. (Who needs friends to put on shows with. Wasn’t like I wanted to do it anyway. Be a part of a team. Feel a sense of belonging. Taste victory instead of three day old coffee, and Coles doughnuts. Psh, I’m fine)
But though I may look like the shell of my former self, this zombie girl is bouncing right back into it, and by into it, I mean games. Obviously. Let’s play Plants Vs Zombies shall we?
Plants Vs Zombies, Developed by PopCap Games, and distributed via Origin is a third person shooter, that styles itself like a classic capture the flag game. The main goal is to protect your house (and brains) from the zombies in the neighbouring cemetery (who want brains). Defeat them and you move through the ranks to beat the biggest zombie of them all (and no, I don’t mean me. Please put down your hands). Fail and you’ll get brain gutted by hoards of rampaging souls, set to feast on the most intelligent thing in the area (again, not me).
What I have always loved about Plants Vs Zombies is its open ended nature. You have a small amount of plants to protect your lawn, but before long you amass a whole almanac. I’ve had so much fun this month putting together the craziest lawns to get rid of my zombie problems. From using only explosive plants, to making a whole lawn of spikes, the possibilities truly are endless, and I am so happy that none of the initial joy I had from this has changed.
Plants Vs Zombies boasts a wide variety of choices in terms of modifiers, some purchasable, some attained through goals. From rakes, to vacuums, and pool cleaners, I always felt supported in my conquest. The rush of getting the next big thing is never so far away that you lose interest. In fact with the culmination of all the varieties of levels, to the different terrains, and atmospheres, I was never put in a position where I felt like the game was a chore. That’s rare.
What’s more, the game keeps on giving. Once you beat the main boss there is a randomise modifier that you can take to give you your plants for the set to come. It’s so much harder to complete the second time around, and that makes the fun greater. With every challenge, you feel like you’ve cracked a puzzle. I love that PopCap has continued to garner the same essence as it had as it’s early incarnation from the 2000’s.
The art style is simple. Hard outlines with blocked colour. You’d be forgiven for thinking it was a sequel to a flash animation. Indeed, the cartoonish nature of the game makes me think back to the early days of YouTube and internet culture, where games like Mummy Maze, Kitten Cannon, and Chatterbot were all the rage, with Cactuar and Tonberry, and Mr.Weebl’s stuff topping my 10 year old charts. Plants Vs. Zombies brings back a good time for me.
So it should too. We’ve come such a long way in the video game world, I love that I’m able to see some of the things that got me into the game-o-sphere still hold water. (you don’t know how disappointed I am with every ‘3-D’ game of the early 2000’s. Is it a blob of flesh going *mab mab mab*? No, that’s the protagonist – Jimmy Neutron; Boy Genius)
From the beginning I have loved Plants Vs Zombies. It takes everything early Bethany loved and held true to it’s bearings. A+
Because of the timeless fun I always have, I give this game:
4/5 Flower Pots for style
2/5 Flower Pots for plot
5/5 Flower Pots for easiness
5/5 Flower Pots for Bright colour and graphics
So, my dudes! I’ve been Bethany Griffiths, and this has been a Crazy back van salesman Beta Test. A game review platform where I either got better or got wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely unbiased review. If you have a game that you want me to give my two cents on, Please let me know!
Until next time,
#20: Hollow Knight
It’s a dark, dreamy, windy twilight in the dust bowl plane. You stand poised over your target. Nothing makes a sound. not even the leafless trees burble out a sullen woosh. You hover, ready to strike. Yes, finally, this is your moment. Suddenly, a moaning, grunting noise as the beast in front of you rebounds into life. Your ears prick. The target moves. Slowly you rise, ready to hit. Hit. HIT.
Your target dodges and you lose all life points.
You wake up on a bench.
Hello my little bone knights! I’m Bethany Griffiths, and this is Beta Test. A game review platform where I, a hardcore button masher, choose one game a month to go ham on until either I get better or get wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely (un)biased review.
Dear lord, what a month. I have moved out of home, almost quit my job on three separate occasions, my therapist keeps telling me I need to take authority, and I got rained on a lot! I’m an actual wreck. On the plus side though, I’ve been to a theme park, seen a museum, gone walkabout in the Royal botanic gardens, and bought three sexy pairs of cowboy boots! so … there’s a trade off in there somewhere (probably the boots). Might help to play some video games. Yes, I’m sure that’ll set me right. Help me video game gods, you’re my only hope!
Hollow Knight, Developed and published by Team Cherry is a platform jumping game that hearkens back to early 00’s multi site pathfinder days. Taking place in a post industrial boom town, find yourself traversing lush greenery, and craggy caverns, dodging enemy attacks, and fleeing things that make you go “ohshitohshitohshit”, while solving mysteries and unlocking all the treasures of the playing field.
I’m gonna start out with shouting a big hearty ‘I am so happy with this game’! The feel of the universe, the character play, the intrigue, the drama, the boss fights that make you scream like Markiplier in a FNAF video. It had it all! Let’s start at the beginning. I was immediately enthralled by the beautiful scenery, and from there I was pulled into the dimension. The game insists on giving you very little to work with, which would normally be a detriment, yet I found myself enjoying that I knew as much as the characters. It’s a story rich game that takes time, which made me slow down and feel the game play, as opposed to barrelling along in my usual style. In deed, Hollow Knight takes all my base knowledge of early 2000’s platformers and brings it into crystal clear HD quality in a way that only an indie millennial platformer could.
The artistic style is beautiful in that ‘I just made my first indie game and I’m pulling all the stops‘ kind of way, which I am a massive slut for (You know it, I know it, at least five game developers by this point know it). The easy, flowing nature of the art, and the score meant I was able to find a peaceful moment in almost every stage of my playthrough. More over though, I felt in awe of the culminative efforts of the developing team, and the way they were able to stitch together a game with SO MUCH INTEGRITY. (If we remember back far enough, I tried my hand at Nihilumbra a couple of months ago, and thought it was mostly OK.) Hollow Knight takes Nihilumbra by the collar (balls) and shoves it into inky black oblivion, while dialling up everything on its’ own metre to 100. It’s wild to see such a well made game in such a saturated market do so well. Side note: It’s been living up to the pay bracket as well, which, you know, $50 for a game. You’d hope it’s as good as it says it is.
Hollow Knight was easy to access, and user friendly. I found myself switching the controls around quite a bit to find a setting that suited me, and I enjoy that the game allowed me to take full control of the user interfacing. From a development point of view I am also thoroughly impressed with the sound effects of the characters. It makes it a lot easier to see what’s going on, especially for those of us who may be impaired. I solidly recommend Hollow Knight to anyone who wants to buy it. Thoroughly sucked in.
All in all, this is an amazing game. I had such a blast playing it, and I will absolutely be continuing in my QUEST throughout the coming months!
Because of the beauty and grace of the animations, and the solid game play, I give this game:
5/5 Skully bois for style
4/5 Skully bois for plot
2/5 Skully bois for easiness
5/5 Skully bois for ATMOSPHERE
So, my dudes! I’ve been Bethany Griffiths, and this has been a jumpy jumpy Beta Test. A game review platform where I either got better or got wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely unbiased review. If you have a game that you want me to give my two cents on, Please let me know!
Until next time,
Was it Puddin in the bronze age, with the big daddy? Fuji in the Cemetery with the gun? Or Listernator in the recording studio, with the loud obnoxious voice? NO. Fool! It’s Bethany, in a new apartment, with nothing but her whits and 5 kilos of uncooked white rice!
Share houses are hard, and I’m scared.
Good evening my murder suspects and welcome to my home, I’m Bethany Griffiths, and this is Beta Test. A game review platform where I, a lonely, family-less, 25 year old, choose one game a month to go ham on until either I get better or get wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely (un)biased review.
Much like the vast population of mid 20 year old’s, I have decided to do the stupidest thing imaginable for a person with a casual job, hella HECS debt, and no feasible credit score. I’ve decided to move out. Into a share house. With a cat. Let’s just say I was in the mood to John Mulaney this month’s review, in that ‘I said I was going to write my two cents – And then I didn’t’. However, John, no matter how alluring a testimony you present, I am once again at the mercy of the gaming world. Oh the feeling of staying up late after moving all my furniture seven suburbs away. I am in agony. Please kill me (With hugs, and chocolate). Also, Cluedo.
Developed and published by Marmalade Game Studio Ltd, Cluedo is an interactive online single/multi player version of its’ board game predecessor. With all your most of your favourite characters, this whodunit aims to bring the next level in murder mystery technology, as you strike out names, places and murder weapons in the hopes of finding the killer.
I was not disappointed with this game (Yes, that’s the bar for this month. Half the FRED team play it and I’ll probably be out of a job if I slander it too hard). There are some nice elements, like the auto checking of the cards if you guess something and a character doesn’t have it, and the game play was reasonable; you go round taking turns rolling die and crossing off clues until you have a pretty fair judgement on the murderer. Nothing wrong with that. But I felt like there could be something – more. A twist, a catch, something that makes me go ‘yes it’s Cluedo, but it’s so much more’. And really, look, Did I expect Tim Curry to prance onto my screen, blasting stories of yore? No. But it would have been nice.
What I should commend though, to be fair, is the art. As always I’m a sucker for good art; and though the music may be repetitive, the characters old hat, the game play pretty much the same as the board game, I do and can appreciate a good artist. There was a lot of time and effort in making the base game backdrops, and characters. They look appropriately mysterious, and they did my girl Scarlett justice, which really is all I could ever ask for. (I would die for her. Let me fight you)
From that though, I feel like they missed an opportunity for accessibility in the way of colour. For the most part, the characters are bright vivid colours, which for someone with colour blindness would make the game hard to play, what with the scorecard keeping tabs by colour only. I noticed it when one of the FRED fam was doing a run through, and how that seemed unnecessarily unfair. It would have been good to monogram the card accordingly to allow players ease of access. It would also have been cool to see a character sheet with colours that are on, say the Deuteranopia colour spectrum. (Baron Taupe, Mrs Peacock, Ms White, Lady Gold, and Pastor Olive are all ideas that spring to mind…some of them aren’t original. Sue me). With that said though, there are some things that do make the game just a wee bit more tight around the edges. When you go through the characters, a handy highlighted area helps guide you to who’s guessed what. It’s very helpful if you have a processing disorder, or have trouble concentrating.
In the end, Honestly, With Cluedo I got what I paid for, and I can’t really argue with that. I just wonder how much more could have been done to this to make it a show stopping game. As it is, you have to pay to play in different locations, and different characters. Mrs. White isn’t in the free version for example, so if you like that character, better hobble on down to Micro transaction town to buy yourself some white maid-ey goodness. (MMMM milk maids *gurgle*)
Because of the ‘we been knew’ of the whodunit, and the micro transaction fee, I give this game:
3/5 Dead Dudes for style
0/5 Dead Dudes for plot
4/5 Dead Dudes for easiness
Eh/5 Dead Dudes for having to pay to play, (Roger voice “ugh, it costs Money”)
So, my dudes! I’ve been Bethany Griffiths, and this has been Me, in the blog, with a Beta Test. A game review platform where I either got better or got wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely unbiased review. If you have a game that you want me to give my two cents on, Please let me know!
Until next time,
#18: Five Nights at Freddy’s
NO. no. no no no n0 no. No. I got wrecked. I got totalled. This game got me gooder than that one time my grade 5 teacher showed us that jump scare car video. Never again will I turn to the inky black depths of a dark room and think I’m ok. You Freddy have ruined the already fragile inner workings of my mind. There may be no return, I may lock myself in a safe room, crying to the world, “Let’s Eat! LETS EAT!”.
*wailing noises of defeat*
Hello, Hello my night shift workers, I’m Bethany Griffiths, and this is Beta Test. A game review platform where I, a very scared little Beta Test girl, choose one game a month to go ham on until either I get better or get wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely (un)biased review.
So with the VR game out and about, with creepy bunnies, and plot holes up the wazoo, I thought it was time to review…I can’t even type it without fear… Five Nights at Freddy’s. The ultimate pizza night horror game that makes my heebies jeebie around like cats on a hot tin roof, singing Memory. Am I mixing my metaphors? Yes, but you can’t blame me, I’ve been through hell damn it.
Five Nights At Freddy’s, Developed and published by notorious scary man Scott Cawthon, is a jump scare based horror game revolving around click based actions, such as opening and closing doors, and turning lights on and off, and scary music queues to get through and ultimately survive FIVE (six) NIGHTS.
I’ll be forthcoming with the fact that this is a game that I didn’t play a lot of this month. Why? Because I had to play in 15 minute intervals and take very long breaks to make me want to play it again. I am absolutely scared of this creepypasta wannabe game, and no one is going to be able to calm my fears. Thank GOD there are people that are braver than me! If you want the scare without the care, I urge you to watch Markiplier, Jacksepticeye, Treecicle, and Game Theory to get a good learning experience, because hell that’s what I did.
Now, aside from playing with my eyes closed the entire time, I was able to get the main mechanics and complete up to level two. A TERRIFIC FEAT FOR ME if I do say so myself (And I do!). I appreciated the amount of fear I was able to receive in a small dose. It’s been a long time since I was this scared by a game this way (even if the time trials in Spyro scare the shit out of me). I was thoroughly impressed by the nature of the game as well. The mechanics are so simple, click, tap, click, tap, but the value for money you get is huge. With that being said, this is the OG game that sparked a franchise, so I have some reservations about character design and plot points, that, with ONLY looking at this game, look clunky, and mashed together. For instance, we get the idea that kids are involved heavily in the haunting of the animatronics (spoiler alert? Do I need that in here?) but without the wider community chipping in, we would have no idea that the purple man was a thing, or that Golden freddy wasn’t a glitch. Scott could have been a lot less subtle about the story arc and the gave would have still held integrity.
Moving on, I want to commend Scott on the fantastic display of gravitas he’s pulled with FNAF. It takes cajones to create the idea for, make, and publish a game yourself, and I’m so glad he did. This really is a brilliant game, even if I can’t play it (and the lore is too complicated). I appreciate the time and effort that went into making millions of people so scared they buy the whole game set. (If I could see one thing from this game it would be a safe mode *please*)
Because of the just plain creepiness of the graphics and sound score, but the sheer terror, I give this game:
4/5 Creepy Animatronics for style
5/5 Creepy Animatronics for plot
0/5 Creepy Animatronics for easiness
NO/5 Creepy Animatronics for The never ending franchise that I’ll probably be made to play through *Sigh*
So, my dudes! I’ve been Bethany Griffiths, and this has been a Scaaaary Beta Test. A game review platform where I either got better or got wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely unbiased review. If you have a game that you want me to give my two cents on, Please let me know!
Until next time,
#17: Wailing Heights
Jesus H Christ you have no idea the trouble I’ve gone through to bring you this game. I actually filmed half a play through, twice, before I realised the frame rate I filmed my screen in was lagging to hell. This was AFTER I had edited most of the audio, and started on the main screen grabs. From there, I had to waste a solid 7 hours of film, and destroy my hopes at being a YouTube “personality”…
I’m not bitter, I’m just wrecked.
Hello my Disgruntled Vampires, I’m Bethany Griffiths, and this is Beta Test. A game review platform where I, a very confused Minotaur, choose one game a month to go ham on until either I get better or get wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely (un)biased review.
Guess who’s back on the bandwagon, and by bandwagon I mean mental health care plan? ME! Yeah, turns out that working a day job, where everyone is constantly yelling at you isn’t great for your mental health. Who knew. The stress is also not great for your body, as it turns out, because I was in ED a few weeks ago. Who knew. So now I turn to the only outside of professional help therapy I know. Video Games. Let’s get mentally responsible with it!
(Also, I’m just going to come right out and say it, this is one of those games I absolutely got wrecked on. More throughout the review about the how and why, but suffice to say, this was not one of the better ways to spend my month.)
Wailing heights, Developed and published by Outsider Games, is a narrative driven goal based game, that is set to the pace of a ‘play it yourself’ comic book. It has three inclusive chapters where you roam the streets, and various venues to drive the plot and solve clues about this mysterious village. Through your insights you come across familiar faces, and unlock more of the comic backstory, to create a whole picture of the in game universe.
From the beginning, we open with a backstory that gives us an overview of the general plot, with catchy background music that sounds like a take on 60’s pop rock i.e The Monkees, The Beatles, The Who. It is fresh and new, and it gets you excited for a good game. From there it get weird though, as we’re taken through the opening sequence and given our first objectives.
There’s no clear objective list to follow, so you have to take to wandering around until you get the right combo of events to get further in the game. I won’t lie, I had to use outside resources, and forums to get me through the whole game, because the hints given, like getting sugar for Aida-Z, or using the printing press to get a good review for Fangs, are ambiguous and way too subtle to pick up.
From there, Where I think this game really could have used work is that there are a lot of plot points that felt….clunky?. It felt like there were some contributors to the game that weren’t on the same page as everyone else, and that really brought down what could have been a well rounded game. Especially the ending. Not to spoil it, but I was pretty confused, as a new character comes in at the end, as a boss battle and we as a character make some very questionable (and…inaccurate?) decisions to win against them.
The script borderlines on cringy. There were moments I actually recoiled from second hand teenage cringe. That’s not inherently a bad thing, the game has a specific demographic, and 15 year old Bethany would have loved it. Looking from an adults point of view though, I couldn’t help but feel like the script was trying too hard. (Especially with the use of the word “Yummers”. Not sure what it is about indie developers, but apparently nothing says ‘I’m hip and with the kids’ like trying to use a variant on their lingo in a way that doesn’t work with the dialect of any of the characters. Maybe it’s a regional thing?)
The game is also much more suited to Xbox style controls over PC, so when the commands come up it takes you awhile to figure out the keys. (even figuring out how to get back to the main menu was a struggle for me)
Now, I will say the art style is beautiful, as is the score. There was a lot of time and dedication placed in the making of the environment, and I have major props to the entire art department for bringing such cinema to a game. Where it lacked though was the animation, especially syncing the footsteps with the movements of characters. I don’t know if this is just a personal qualm, but I found it highly grating to see the character move at one pace and hear the feet go to a completely differently time. Either way, it definitely could have been tightened.
Because of the overall pleasantness of the graphics, but the lack of user friendliness, I give this game:
4/5 Scottish Ghosts for style
1/5 Scottish Ghosts for plot
0/5 Scottish Ghosts for easiness
1/5 Scottish Ghosts for Stumbling around not knowing what you need to do to complete the objectives!
So, my dudes! I’ve been Bethany Griffiths, and this has been a long month of a Beta Test. A game review platform where I either got better or got wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely unbiased review. If you have a game that you want me to give my two cents on, Please let me know!
Until next time,
#16: Roller Coaster Tycoon 2
I was 16, he was 15. It was at the top of the building, outside the L, and S blocks. I had just put my visual diary into my locker, to get out my ham cheese sandwich (which I had every intention of throwing in the bin so I could get a burger from the canteen instead). He sidled over, clutching it in his clammy hands. ‘Is this it?’ he croaked, acne laden face staring at me. It was. It was everything and more. It wasn’t my first. But somehow I knew this time would be worth more than anything else I’d had in my short life. ‘Yes’ I breathlessly whispered. He held it out and I grabbed it from him. Laughing with glee over my new prised possession. A Pristine copy of Roller Coaster Tycoon 2: Triple Thrill Pack!
…Three years later I lost the disk and downloaded it on steam instead.
Hello my Angry, Hungry Guests. I’m Bethany Griffiths, and this is Beta Test. A game review platform where I, a mere hot dog merchant in the fungus woods, choose one game a month to go ham on until either I get better or get wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely (un)biased review.
First and foremost I have to apologise to an absolute legend of a friend of mine. Joel, you gave me a game that I loved, and I’m so sorry I lost the disk. Also you didn’t have bad acne. Also I made that sound like some sort of weird summer romance, which we both know wasn’t the case because I was very in love with *you know who* at the time. Anyway, thank you for the game, sorry I’m the person I am, and sorry you have to put up with me telling the world about our awkward shared High School experiences….Still friends yeah?
I’ll be honest. I put off writing this or a solid three ours because I got stuck in a time vortex, looking at all the memes. I don’t even want to write this any more, I just want to become an RTC2 meme generator. Would I get anything out of it? No; Would it fill the ever gnawing void in my soul that can only be filled with images of guests drowning? I THINK FUCK YES.
Roller Coaster Tycoon 2, Developed by Chris Sawyer Productions, and published by Atari, is a theme park based Tycoon game where you are given scenarios for parks around the world. The game boasts hundreds of roller coasters and side shows that you can customise, create, and build yourself. The parks vary from level to level, with some ranging from a span of 6 months (in game time) to 4 years (In game time. A solid 3 hours. I’m not a sadist).
This is an old game. This game was around before Facebook. This Game is old enough to get a job, and have sex in some states, and drink underage at a friend’s birthday party (with alcohol supplied by the cool older brother that maybe I had a thing for, shut up, god, what do you know).
This game is an early 2000’s creation, and it runs like one. It renders your screen to the bare minimum. If you leave it for a couple of hours and come back, it will have fucked up your computer. Sometimes it crashes if you haven’t saved it in a while. So why do I love it so much? Why is it one of the first games I go to if I’ve had a tough week? Why is this hunk of junk a gold star choice for my head brain?
The answers are simple. Roller Coaster Tycoon 2 offers me great, reliable game play, with no hidden agendas, easy controls, and a straightforward difficulty system. The graphics look (OK, they look dated) great for their time, and even though they’ve aged, they hold up in their own right unlike some games. Early Mario kart, for example was a nightmare of 8 bit pixel hell, this is softer, more readable, I can play RTC2 drunk and not run right off the rails. It also offers me tangible, short term, realistic goals. I can complete a scenario in an afternoon, and leave it at that. I’m not suckered into the next chapter with infinite game play, and as someone who gets major tunnel vision, that’s something I really appreciate. There are also zero consequences for most of my actions. I have a park that needs 1,500 visitors? Better make the wildest coasters and delete the exit. I need a rating of 700? Better drown anyone that doesn’t have a good time. Slip and Slide broke? Delete it.
I adore this game. I will be 80, sitting in some provincial nursing home because my kids are scum that won’t take care of me, watching the nurse robots tut over Mrs.Griffiths playing her old fashioned computer games, and this will be the game I’m playing. It’s one of the quintessential ‘Bethany’ games. Playable at any age.
Because of the absolute mad lad aesthetics, and the nostalgia for early 2000’s computer game technology, I give this game:
2/5 Drowning Guests for style
0/5 Drowning Guests for plot
3/5 Drowning Guests for easiness
5/5 Drowning Guests for Drowning bitchy little guests that are too stupid to find the park exit. Sorry not sorry Susan G.
So, my dudes! I’ve been Bethany Griffiths, and this has been a Roller Coaster of a Beta Test. A game review platform where I either got better or got wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely unbiased review. If you have a game that you want me to give my two cents on, Please let me know!
Until next time,
#15: Age of Empires II
It started with a LAN party in Yarraville. I was young, full of joy and naive. I hadn’t picked up anything other than the sims since I was 12 years old. The only experience with Age of Empires I had was when my friend burnt me a copy of the first addition that he got in a Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain box. We played 3 hours of solid MMO game play. 3 hours of building, constructing, and fighting off computer bot after computer bot. It was a bloody battle, many died, few survived, but we rose victorious. Kings amongst men. It’s been three years since my first slaughter and…I’ll get right down to it, I’ve played 451 fucking hours on this game.
OK so this time it’s not completely unbiased, but I haven’t reviewed a game I know before so hold onto everything you hold dear because it’s a ride. (Also, this IS a review, not a written play through, so if you want me to do a legit play through let me know! I would be so psyched)
Ayo-yoho wololo wololo, I’m Bethany Griffiths, and this is Beta Test. A game review platform where I ‘Hombis, Arectus!’ choose one game a month to go ham on until either I get better or get wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely (un)biased review.
Last month I went on two holidays and felt great, now it’s mid March and I’m getting to know just why the March Hare was so mad. Everything is in crazy town this month, work is up in the air, my health is up in the air, a kid egged Fraser Anning, People are getting shot, the world is dying from an intense case of people-itis, and I haven’t seen a good nail technician in for-ev-a. I’m so done I don’t know who’s Arthur or Martha. But I do know gaming! And I know Age of Empires!
Age of Empires II Developed by Skybox Labs, Hidden Path Entertainment, Ensemble Studios, and Forgotten Empires, and published by Microsoft Studios, is a scenario based RPG that incorporates ancient, lost, and forgotten empires that you battle against to claim victory. There are hundreds of campaigns and scenarios to play through. All of which get you to do different things to win, such as capturing all the relics, death matches, and historical based story lines. With limited resources, and a tech tree that follows the race you’ve chosen, it’s a bloodbath that you will win or rage quit trying.
I’ve been playing for a few years now, and let me tell you, this game holds water better than a camel in the desert. I’m 32% through the steam achievements and I have no intention of slowing down. (What can I say, I’m a glutton for anything with achievements and statistics.) Stylistically, the game gives off the old time feeling of geographical cartography. The trees, buildings, and landscapes all have that hand drawn perspective, while maintaining the integrity of the gaming style of 2013. The sound track will get stuck in your head for hours. You don’t know how many times I’ll be in the shower or making food and the main theme decides it wants to blare in my ears like the constant reminder that I haven’t completed all the scenarios yet (I’m getting there! I swear), And the game play is fun with friends or by yourself in a dark room, at two in the morning, guzzling dry cornflakes out of a Thomas the Tank Engine bowl.
Age of Empires II is unique in that because of the way the game is constructed, you can structure your experience however you want it. In the main scenario chart, there are heaps of specs to choose including different races, landscapes, amount of people you can have in your village, starting age, and tech tree prerequisites. In game, you can choose alliances, play bloody, or play peaceful by building a wonder or capturing all the relics (my personal go to is to advance absolutely everything, amass an army, and slowly sweep across the board, killing everything I can get my grubby little hands on). It really is a choose your own adventure game, that I’m proud to say I’ve never gotten bored with to this day.
The game runs old. By that, I mean it doesn’t need any special computer tech to get it off the ground. In fact, I think I could run this on my family windows 2003 desktop and still play without a hiccup. The only real bugs i’ve found in game has more to do with my settings, where my task bar doesn’t disappear sometimes, making map reading, and constructing just that little bit trickier, and the annoying glitch that if you’re away from your keyboard for too long (say, a couple of hours) it can get stuck like a scratched ‘so fresh hits of summer 2005’ CD in a boombox, and you have to task close. But over all, Age of Empires II runs smoothly, doesn’t overwork your systems, and rarely lags.
I love Age of Empires II like I would love a dog, or a small child. It’s an iconic game that you need to get into if you haven’t already. It’s accessible, and takes very little energy to play, as well as being infinitely entertaining.
Because of the meme quality, kick ass score, and ability to do a full kill sweep of the board, I give this game:
3/5 Wololo’s for style
1/5 Wololo’s for plot
4/5 Wololo’s for easiness
5/5 Wololo’s for Slowly sweeping your forces across the board and killing everything
So, my dudes! I’ve been Bethany Griffiths, and this has been a ‘dada hee?’ Beta Test. A game review platform where I either got better or got wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely unbiased review. If you have a game that you want me to give my two cents on, Please let me know!
Until next time,
*Ye old England had issues, ee ai ee ai oh, and with those issues came the plague, deadliest little plague that you ever did see, and the plague was on the mite, and the mite was on the flea, and the flea was on the rat, and the rat was on the girl, and the girl was on the street, and the street was on the block, and the block was in the city, and the city was in the town, and the sanitary cycle made the plague go round. Now there’s Vampires. Vamp town!*
You like that? It’s original! Hello my mortal souls, I’m Bethany Griffiths, and this is Beta Test. A game review platform where I – the clearly more vampire-y individual – choose one game a month to go ham on until either I get better or get wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely unbiased review.
Let’s review from where we started off last month shall we? I was sick, I was tired, I was struggling to be awake for more than ten hours a day. Well, I’m not better, but I’m getting there. I took not one, but two short holidays, and honestly it’s been the best decision I could have made (short of quitting everything I do and living as a hermit in the wilderness of country Victoria… Maybe in six months). I can’t thank the people I went away with more for being the most awesome friends ever. I was swimming, I was sand castle building, I was playing murder in the dark in a two story house with a bunch of twenty-four- to thirty-year-olds. There was a cheese platter at one point, and I played so many games! Not only that, but I have shiny new friends? 2019 amirite?
Anyway, you know the drill by now, first I relay my personal life in way too much detail, and then I tell you about video games. So let’s get on with is shall we? Here-a-we go!
This month I played a game that is absolutely a self indulgent guilty pleasure of mine (Vampires). It’s got a fantastic plot line (with Vampires), and the main protagonist is a moody bloke who just wants to be loved (and is a Vampire).
Can you see where I’m going with this?
Vampyr, Developed by Dontnod Entertainment, and published by Focus Home Interactive, is a solo player RPG that follows the story of Jonathan E. Reid, a Doctor turned Vampire in plague ridden London. In the midst of the Great War Johnathan uses guise of his Doctor status to work his job in the hospital, while studying his own Vampirism and treating patients that contract a variant of the Spanish flu.
Now, I’ll be real. In the first half an hour I thought I was playing another Batman: The Enemy Within. But this game absolutely grew on me. From even a non RPG standpoint, it stylistically trumps Batman’s computer generated comic graphics, and gave me grittier, more substantial game play. Vampyr delivered some very well put together live action sequences, and fight scenarios, along with challenging level ups and the ability to create your own destiny in a more coherent, infinitely more accurate portrayal of the human psyche. It’s not that hard to do, but they nailed it for me. (See Telltale Games! See what you can do if you’re not a dick to everyone!)
Vampyr aims to be a pseudo free world adventure game, where the player chooses the character path through a set of skill trees, and critical choices. This leads the player to feel fulfilled in action, even if the action isn’t game-centric. There are various side quests that you can go on to appease the sixty-odd inhabitants of war torn London, and hours of alleyways, and hidden corridors to stake out to get the full world experience. The game leans towards more Gothic imagery than horror to set the tone, which I found instantly satisfying. There’s something great about the story telling of any English myth from the 19th to the 21st century that really gets me going, but to see places that feel like you’re going back in time and experiencing the true nature of the universe back then, well, that’s pretty great!
I did notice a few bugs, like jumping into stand alone object and getting trapped, or sitting for a cut away sequence only to not be able to leave the chair. I scoured the forums though, and it looks like there are patches working their way around, so those should be fixed soon. In terms of fight play, the controls (bearing in mind I play PC) were slightly laggy, but overall not that noticeably. My MSI laptop took the game like the little champion it is, so I can only imagine what a desk top with a good CPU and RAM could achieve (*drooling noises* one day).
All in all, I had a great time with Vampyr, and it was a good gateway game to more RPG’s of which I’m sure I’ll be more responsive to in the months to come. I’ve very satisfied with the game on the whole, even with the price tag, and I can’t wait to see what the developers do next.
Because of the sound score, cinematic, and soft horror that I found way more titillating than terrifying, I give this game:
4/5 Tortured vampire souls for style
4/5 Tortured vampire souls for plot
1/5 Tortured vampire souls for easiness
God damn it! /5 Tortured vampire souls for accidentally killing people because you don’t understand what ‘embrace’ means in context
So, my dudes! I’ve been Bethany Griffiths, and this has been a Vampy Beta Test. A game review platform where I either got better or got wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely unbiased review.
Until next time,
#13: Knock Knock
January, *knock knock* sick and tired you’ve been hanging on me *knock knock* you make me sad with your eyes, you’re telling me lies *knock knock* Don’t go, Don’t GOOOOO.
I’m not on summer Vacay and I think I’m going insane. Hello my ‘delirious from all the resolutions’ lovelies, I’m a Bethany Griffiths, and this is Beta Test. A game review platform where I – a spectre fuelled by nothing but coffee, vengeance, weird 3m dreams, smashed avocado, and the need for a big summer holiday – choose one game a month to go ham on until either I get better or get wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely unbiased review.
First off, a bit of housekeeping. I want to tell you, this New Year has been interesting, and I need another month of January to get all of the things I had planned done. It’s been sixteen days, and I’ve signed up to roller derby, had a fake tan, gone to three big parties, re-enrolled in circus training, and started getting a diagnosis on a fourteen-year-old problem I have.
Let me tell you, that last point has been a struggle. I’m getting tests done as we speak to see what the heck is going on with my body brain. (as opposed to my head brain, and my metaphysical brain). So far it could be a giant array of things both benign and heckin’ scary, and that makes me nervous.
But I’m also relieved.
I want nothing more than to find out what’s going on, so I can finally say ‘I have ____. And I can monitor it, and work on fixing it, and I am not my illness’. This new year, I believe it’s the new year of getting things sorted, of getting that second opinion, and of seeing through the treatments you have to, in order to get you on the right track again. I care about all of you who read this, so I want you to take the time and look at the things you’ve been avoiding because they’re scary. I want you to help yourself by getting help, and I want you all to fall in love with the act of living. Because fuck, it took me way too long to do this, and sometimes you need a bitch to say ‘get your act together’.
*wipes eyes* Now that that’s over, let’s talk about a game.
I was stunned by the artistry I saw this month. Let me say that I’m a sucker for a good indie game with sexy graphics, and you all know it.
Knock Knock is an original soft horror game that that poses convincingly as a creepypasta. Developed and Published by Ice Pick Lodge (“Айспик-Лодж, ООО” in it’s native tongue, because we’re representing the whole world here on Beta Test), Knock Knock is the chilling saga of one lodger’s pull from dreams to reality, fighting his way through a maze of rooms and woods to find the truth that he has long since forgotten.
Now, I’m a horror wuss, we know this. Which is why I was horrified that this was a full screen game. With nowhere to hide, and no tabs to open I was immersed so heavily in the world of the game. I closed the blinds, sat in darkness, and played. To my creeped out delight, Knock Knock was just as good as I had hoped it would be. There was so much I needed to learn and the game let me play over and over to get it all right.
Having short chapters really worked in favour here, as when you die you replay the level. BUT having to replay the level is advantageous because the layout of the map changes every time you play, and with randomisation, there’s the possibility of a better field. I found myself stuck in corners, and on ladders for long periods, only to get a break next round with a straight run through. I’m glad for the variety too, because it means the game is geared to all levels. This gives everyone a chance to play, and isn’t that just what the spirit of gaming is about.
In terms of style, it reminded me so much of Status:Insane. We know I covered that game in my second review, which is why I loved that it felt like I was coming back to an old friend. Running around with our little oil burner I felt like Igor avoiding traps, and harmful whispers from the people who want to hurt me. The art is different, granted. This felt much more like a storybook gone wrong, like Tony DiTerlizzi was going to jump out from behind a gnarled tree and shout “It was meeee”. Like Tim Burton had talent. What I’m saying is the way the characters are drawn, the mood boarding, the sound and display, everything was so good, I loved just watching the little character run about and fix lights.
Knock Knock gave me nightmares in the best possible way. Everything I hate about creepypasta games was gone here. No jump scares, adequate lighting, reasonably soft pace. It was a giant relief for me, seeing as I’ve chickened out of many a horror game over the course of this year (FNAF haunts me to this day). Yes things appear from nowhere, yes there are morbid themes, yes there’s a character that looks like Ben-10’s Ghost Freak but nothing really hurts you the whole time. It really was a great way of playing through a horror game without freaking out and triggering, which I know for a lot of players is a big deciding factor.
Because of the killer graphics, and my inability to sleep at night I give this game:
5/5 Russian insomniacs for style
3/5 Russian insomniacs for plot
1/5 Russian insomniacs for easiness
20/5 Russian insomniacs for the hack where monsters can’t get you if you stay on a ladder (you’re welcome)
So, I’ve been a Bethany Griffiths, and this has been a way too personally involved (sorry mum) Beta Test. A game review platform where I either got better or got wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely unbiased review.
Until next time,
*after credit bit*
I really want to do a big shout out to the YouTube community for helping me through the game this month. I highly recommend watching Aliulo’s play through of Knock Knock if you’re too creeped out to do the whole game (or get stuck and rage quit). Sometimes it just helps to have someone else on the same journey as you.
#12: Town of Salem
You’re a mean one, Beta Test, you really are a heel. You’re as cuddly as a cactus, you’re as charming as an eel Beta Test! You’re a monthly game blog who’s a big ass third wheel! Is my brain full of spiders? Do I have garlic in my soul? Or do I just really enjoy the voice of Tony the Tiger? Moreover, does everyone also have a problem with Fairy tale of New York, or is it just me? So many questions, not enough time because holy hell!
It’s Christmas my dudes.
Hello my Scumbags, my Maggots, by cheap lousy – Nope, not going there. Can’t. Shan’t! I’m a Bethany Griffiths, and this is Beta Test. A game review platform where I – a person who thinks that song is way worse than baby it’s cold outside, self confessed Noob – choose one game a month to go ham on until either I get better or get wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely unbiased review. So it’s been a whole ass year since I started doing this little thing called Beta Test. A whole year of gaming as a novice, and trying something new. A giant year for me of travelling overseas, starting a new job, and getting my shit together (mmmk). I gotta tell you, it makes me so happy that you’ve all joined me for this wild ride. I’m so happy to have brought a little Beta into your life, and I’m so happy to be going into this next year GUNS SO OUT THEY’RE BLAZING!
Today, my little humbugs I delve into Town of Salem, a steam-driven take of one of my favourite all time games, Werewolf. For those that aren’t in the know (or don’t have a collection of ten to fifteen friends to sit around every weekend night for a month with), Werewolf is a ‘whodunnit’ card game where players are issued a secret card each. They take turns guessing who has the wolf cards, and lynching (verbally, dear god please verbally) people they find suspicious. The wolves come out at night (when everyone has their eyes closed and pick people to off until there isn’t anyone left.
You know, like a really complicated version of wink murder, or Heads down thumbs up, or Cluedo … or Christmas with the in laws. (Watch me ducking the hatchet this December 25th.)
Now, as someone who has played this in at least three iterations of its original form, (long card game, condensed card game, and online using only Facebook Messenger *don’t ask. It’s so stressful*) I was really dang nervous to start playing it online. What if people didn’t like me, what if I gained a bad online presence, what if it was a boys club…What if they shouted N00b at me? But like everything else on the internet, the only thing I had to worry about was the amount of antisemitic, racist, and xenophobic names people played under. Go figure.
Developed and published by Blank Media Games, Town of Salem employs all the tactics of the card game Werewolf (or sometimes as it’s known, ‘Mafia’) that I know and love, and makes it it’s own in the online realm. The game is a tactic take on the classic murder mystery, where you take turns over the course of many ‘days’ and ‘nights’ to find out who the baddies are, and who to trust. You play as a customizable character that looks like it belongs in an incarnation of ‘the crucible’, and change teams every time you play.
There are many different characters in the game, such as the Joker- who can only die if they’re lynched, but the village wins- the sheriff -who can question one person a night- and many more. (My personal favourite to play as is the mob boss because I can sit back, kill a person a night, claim joker to the Sheriff, and throw people under the bus.)
The games themselves go for roughly ten minutes in their classic form, and the banter is pretty easy going. I will say though, if you’re not over sixteen years old, might want to give this one a miss for a bit. Some people go really hard, and even I felt intimidated in the first few rounds. Thankfully I think a patch has been worked into the game, because as time wore on, I found less of the shit storm of online trolldom, and more people there to actually play a decent game. But I digress.
Where Town of Salem shines is it’s variety. Even if you play long periods of time, or binge like I did, you’ll get a different game in every incarnation of the setting. With all the character roles, it’s a challenge for everyone involved, and really easy to get hooked on. Yeah, I spent a whole day playing and met the same people roughly three times? It’s got a really big online forum, which is great because it means if you have a boring game it won’t stay that way forever.
Because of the way it gave me an outlet for my longing for game nights with friends, but also all the troll banter, I give this game:
5/5 Mafia Bosses for style
3/5 Mafia Bosses for community spirit
4/5 Mafia Bosses for easiness
0/5 Mafia Bosses for the names people give their characters. Seriously, the fuck dudes?
So holy Heckerooni, that was the last Beta test of 2018. I hope you’ve had as much fun as I’ve had trying new things, and being a total goof about flubbing through everything. If there’s one thing I think we can all take away from the year it’s – Don’t be afraid to start something. It might just be the best thing you could have ever done. And what of 2019? Don’t worry, like I said, not unlike Arnold Schwarzenegger, I’ll be back. Bigger and Beta than ever (gotta leave em on a pun).
So, for the FINAL TIME OF 2018, I’ve been a Bethany Griffiths, and this has been an ‘amazed at how the year’s gone’ Beta Test. A game review platform where I either got better or got wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely unbiased review.
Until next time,
Do you hear the bells, sweet symphony all seem to say throw cares awa- wait what the hell? It’s November already? But there’s so many things I haven’t done yet! I’m nowhere near being the international sensation I set out to be this year, I don’t have a one person apartment in inner Melbourne, I haven’t got my P plates, and I CERTAINLY haven’t worked out my ‘seasonal’ depression yet. This year is all going by way to quickly and, to quote a popular Vine [because I’m that person who’s vine addiction has bled into their entire speech pattern].
I am confusion.
Hello my rust buckets! I’m a Bethany Griffiths, and this is Beta Test. A game review platform where I – a seasonally regretful, self confessed Noob – choose one game a month to go ham on until either I get better or get wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely unbiased review.
So what gives, why does the year have to end when it feels like it’s only just begun? Is the ever flowing nature of time doomed to stay constant? Or can I buy it out with some cheetos and a half drunk can of Dr. Pepper? Well if you’re like me and the biggest thing you’ve done this year is go on holiday, you’ll agree that no matter how many fun events you’ve been to, you need WAAAY more time to get your shit together before the new year. [And for me, this list of events includes a birthday where the main theme was ‘Egg’ and we chanted in a giant circle to the birthday boy as he blew out his candles. Clearly I need way more time to get on that level]
This month I used Deponia as my scapegoat from the outside world and impending doom that is the new year. Published and Developed by Daedalic Entertainment, [ a company that I didn’t realise was at all based in Hamburg until I got stuck wondering why there was such a big German following. You’d think that with a character called Wenzel it’d click sooner, but what can I say, I’m slower than a mower as of late] Deponia is the story of an ass-hole who wants to go on an adventure and escape his home town, instead of take responsibility for himself…Oops, sorry, I mean it’s about a “dreamer who has the burning desire to be more than what his life has set out for him”.
Who is also an ass-hole.
[Seriously, this guy’s first few actions involve him trying to sneak into his ex girlfriend’s room, cuss out his best friend, and steal a mailbox. He’s a flawed dude] Don’t let that put you off though. While my first impression was, ‘wow this dude’s an ass-hole”, followed closely by “I hope he dies so I can play as the girl character’, Rufus grew on me, and by the end I only had slight worries about his morality skew.
But enough of the main character, you want to hear the pros and cons of ~THE GAME~, So I’ll start from the top and go down. The tutorial was VERY wordy. There was a lot of banter that was supposed to be smart and witty, that came off as childish and annoying. It could have been pulled off way better, and I found it kind of a let down to the start of a game. What I am kind of glad of however, is that it was all one big hit, so I could start playing right away. There’s something to be said for a game that lets you get on with the story.
If you get through the tutorial, you’re greeted with a really good intro song, cowboy style, that framed the game and world in a way I can only classify as brilliant. It was here that I started to enjoy the actual game. Oh, and the sound quality is great. You know when you get that scratchy discordant vocal that you have to turn down to VOL LV.2 to get any sort of semblance of words? Well this is ~smooth sailing~ all the way through my ear drums. Even the bad sounds are well levelled. Who knew that the volume maketh the game?
The lack of skippable cut scenes busted my Jimmies like Judy Neutron on a school night in retroville, because as we all know, there’s only so many times you can be forced to sit still and listen before you rage quit, and I blew my top about 12 years ago when Kingdom hearts pulled that kind of malarkey. BUT, the voice actors really knew their stuff, and it was a lot easier to get through when there was such an amusing cast.
Quite honestly, and this sounds overdone but bear with me, this has got to be the most thought out, witty, visually pleasing games I’ve played in years. It reminded me so much of the 90’s games I grew up with, like Freddi Fish, and Putt-Putt, but with so much more adult humour. I have to pull out all the strings because I need to give you a good review, but honestly Deponia is such a breath of fresh air from the stale games I’ve been mainlining. I’d gladly go back to it any time [which I will because it’s number one in a series, yay!]
Which means that because of the way the characters interact, and the good vibes, I give this game:
5/5 Horny Bulls for style
3/5 Horny Bulls for plot line
2/5 Horny Bulls for easiness
5/5 Horny Bulls for the adult innuendo, I mean lord almighty the innuendo!
So there you have it. The goofy German game I will be playing for the rest of the year while I scrounge around to find myself before it turns into another *New Years*, and if you’ve been following me, you know how that goes.
In any case, I’ve been a Bethany Griffiths, and this has been a freaked out by the passage of time Beta Test. A game review platform where I either got better or got wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely unbiased review.
Oh, P.S… uuuh… If you ever google ‘Deponia Goal’, turn on safe search. Please. Trust me.
#10: Rusty Lake Hotel
Halloween! The most commercialised October tradition since Canadian Thanksgiving and the Spring Racing Carnival. The season of spooky scary skeletons played at half speed with a jazz synth mix ‘we are number one’ overlay. The sound of joyous cheer as a guy with a slutty Jesus costume pulls a blunt out of the cracks of a timber deck, using nothing but a pair of skewers, at an ill-conceived house party. What’s not to love about the spookening streets, the dark movies played on TV, the neighbours yelling at you to get off their porch because this is Australia and we don’t ‘do that’ here?
Oh yeah, jump scares…
Happy Octoberween, everyone! I’m a Bethany Griffiths and this is Beta Test. A game review platform where I – a Spooky Scary self confessed noob – choose one game a month to go ham on until either I get better or get wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely unbiased review. Now, let’s just say that I had every intention of playing ‘Five Nights at Freddy’s’ this month to really kick off the October festivities with a bang, but I’ll keep it real… I got three seconds in and chickened out HARD, restarted my computer, and bought a completely different game instead. BUT FEAR NOT! Rusty Lake Hotel is still a spooky game, filled with gore and Gothic features. Just… a little less like I’m gonna die at the hands of a big yellow chicken with an ‘Eat Me’ bib.
Rusty Lake Hotel is the first instalment of five games—and a movie—about the slow murder of the residents of a hotel in the middle of a lake. The characters are portrayed by animal figures that you slice and dice night to night to feed to the other guests. But it hints at real world scenarios that quite plainly gave me the wiggins.
Developed and published by Rusty Lake, the game sets out to explore horror not as a commotion of blood splatter and chaos, but rather the quiet stillness of failed trust and the cold clean underworld of premeditated crime. I loved the artistry of this game. The actual design was so appealing. I want to say it reminded me of a Lemony Snicket book or an early Tim Burton concept; the characters jumped off the screen (not literally, thank god) and really got me in the mood for some good old-fashioned gore. But the dark scenes, grim as they were, were light and cartoonish enough that I wasn’t left reeling with horror afterwards. In short, the game gives me the same sick satisfaction as a good medical or ER show, where you watch the screen and go ‘Oh my god, that’s a butt with a harpoon through it/toe with gangrene/hernia the size of mid-west France—Gross’ but you watch it every week on catch up TV regardless.
HOWEVER, while I enjoyed many elements to Rusty Lake Hotel—and I deeply enjoyed many, many parts—I do have some thoughts on it’s skill levels because here’s the thing: I’m a firm believer that if you need a whole ass YouTube tutorial made by the company to explain how to get through your game, you made a wrong move there, Sunny Jim. While I’m not a savant of video games, sitting up in my royal towel of unlocked steam achievements, I’ve gone through a damn ton of click and pointers. (Trust me, I used to buy those $10 Big Fish mystery solver games on CD back in the day. I played PopCap games for years on end. ‘Spy Fox: Operation Ozone’ was my JAM. I have cred on this one.)
It was just so dang hard! I spent hours trying to find out why I wasn’t frying the grease out of a pigeon in a bathtub, stabbing a rabbit with a mystery sword through the kidneys, and getting a pheasant in a photo booth to Abraham Lincoln herself with a costume and a gun. I was stumped at where the higgidy heck I needed to point and click to get the extra ingredients or why there was tabasco sauce coming out of a ram skull. (Or why the deer wasn’t WRITHING IN AGONY about his horns being sliced in half.) In this not so easy mouse cruiser, I relied on the tutorial for EVERYTHING.
That being said, I did enjoy the mechanics of the game. Rusty Lake Hotel pulled out some good spooks, and I give the developers some very serious cred for getting it right with the level of violence and the eloquence of the plot. Given it’s the first in a series, I’d be keen to see where all of it goes and how this fragment of story fits in together.
Because of the intrigue and drama, not to mention the everlasting images of murder I’m left with, I give this game:
5/5 Murders for style
3/5 Murders for plot line
2/5 Murders for easiness
0/5 Murders for eating your own poop because you’re a boar and apparently that’s A-OK. Don’t ask. Just play. You’ll see.
This game was, again, very gratifying. I enjoyed the ideas and concepts Rusty Lake are bringing to the table and I’m optimistic for the future. I just hope I can play through the next one without using a tutorial.
So, I’ve been a Bethany Griffiths, and this has been a murderous Beta Test. A game review platform where I either got better or got wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely unbiased review.
Until next time.
Another day another dollar, another month, another week older. Right? Sometimes the year slides by without us noticing it. The whispering, shaking of our bodies as they tremble with change, and the collision of foot fall on the ground as the end draws ever near…Except this time, no, I’m not going through seasonal depression, It’s my birth month! YAY! Thanks for coming! Congratulations, drinks and hugs all around! I don’t have champagne, but I DO have a goon sack and a hills hoist clothesline older than time itself. Let’s do shots and play truth or dare. The kids still play that right? I’m 24, and live in constant debt. Let’s get fucked up amirite? … Good god make time stop. Hello fellow kids! I’m a Bethany Griffiths, and this is Beta Test. A game review platform where I – a [good god] *mid* 20’s self confessed noob – choose one game a month to go ham on until either I get better or get wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely unbiased review. First off the bat let’s just say that I realised the other day that I’m the embodiment of that one Shrek vine with the two guys singing smash mouth, because the years start coming and they don’t stop coming, and they don’t stop coming, and they don’t stop coming, and they don-you get the picture. So I decided that god damn it I want to have fun before I die… the only problem is how in fresh heck do I do that without disrupting the very fine tuned life I planned for myself, what with the meek and mild job, the casual hours, the trying really hard to get along with everyone, the constant fear of failure. How in good gravy do I turn my life around? Well I don’t know, but I’m taking small steps in the path of what I hope is the good, and going from there. Today, Circus training, tomorrow [or realistically, in the next 5-7 years] the world. Imma still play video games tho. Speaking of which… YouTube, is there anything you can’t find on there. If you watch enough, the voices of your favourite personalities will become pretty iconic, especially if they’re in, say, a random video game you chose out of the steam pile to play this month. Yeah, when I first started playing Pinstripe, I was completely unaware of just who was in it, but once the character of ‘Jack’ came on the screen, the wormhole opened up and swallowed me whole. My whole life was a lie, there are worlds within worlds, and Seán McLoughlin has an iconic voice. Developed by Thomas Brush, and Published by Armor Games Studios, Pinstripe is a game that follows the loss of a daughter at the hands of a kidnapper, and the father’s harrowing journey to save her and himself. Using the talented voices of Mia Ciscon, Felix Kjellberg, Nathan Sharp, and Seán McLoughlin [to name a few], Pinstripe allows the player to be put in the head space of horror as one of it’s lighter, more playful incarnations. The game’s design is majestic. The undertone the designers chose really works in the game’s favour to convey the personalities of the characters – and the audio is stunning. The actors really held tone over the game, and subtle things like echoing laughter on a train, and slurping in the tunnels show just how well everyone working here knew how to convey engrossing style and tone. I thoroughly enjoyed all the mild glitch scares, and reveal gags especially right towards the end, where I was the most engrossed. Most of the story pertains to the daughter, Bo’s, imagination, and we get the feeling of childlike fear, like when a kid tells you a horror story, from the very start. What’s more, the in game law is graphic, with the insinuation of death, love, loss, a drinking problem, and a pastor lost from god, it’s easy to see how this could be set in the realms of limbo and hell. I love it when I can call a game titillating, but this one really did tickle my jimmies, and rustle my fancies. For the most part I found the levels challenging enough that if I really took my time I’d be able to figure out the ins and outs of the puzzles, but speed runners beware, this game has some tricky little turns that can set you back, or out of pocket for in game mechanics. At one point there is a no turn back zone that really threw me for a loop, [because, guess who didn’t want to read all the dialogue? It was me] and set me back for my achievements. I ran the game in a total of two and a half hours non stop, so while this is not an epic saga in the sense of time, it is brilliant as a small stand alone indie game. The creative team didn’t bite off more than they could chew, and what was presented was captured to the best it could be. What’s more, playing the game once isn’t enough. To unlock everything, including the steam achievements, [because let’s face it, I’m a slut for overachieving] you will need at least three attempts, which for this game is exactly warranted. Playing over and over, you see more and more of the personalities, notice different little pick ups, and get to theorise a lot more about the body of work. I was impressed with this game from start to finish. Even right at the end when I thought there was nothing more to give, Pinstripe kept on giving. It’s the game I truly needed this month. A good little pick me up that I will gladly come back to over and over again. Because of the well prepared, and beautifully stunning nature of this game, I give Pinstripe: 5/5 Goo sacks for style 4/5 Goo sacks for plotline 3/5 Goo sacks for easiness 7/5 Goo sacks for Sheer scenery majesty So in the end all that can be said is that you need to at least give this game a go. Take it for the titillating indie title that it is and you will have a fun time. Promise. In any case, I’ve been a Bethany Griffiths, and this has been 24 year old Beta Test. A game review platform where I either got better or got wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely unbiased review. Until next time.
#8: Whispering Willows
Rent. The hit musical about AIDS, capitalism, and the American way. The movie that warns you about power and what it can be like to be at either end of the spectrum. The humility of falling down, down, down. The one thing that makes you think about never EVER going into the corporate world. Well… I’m officially in the twilight zone and can I say it’s nothing like the power of retail. Yes, this month I jump over the moon in the pursuit of a new job in reception that has me quaking in my $12 Kmart flats, if not for the feeling of being a total fake that will be found out at any moment, than the dangling terror of waking up at 6am on a Wednesday. I’ve been pushed over the cliff by a suicidal Mickey Mouse, and I’m what I own. … Thank god I’ve got video games. Hello my Creepy Crypts! I’m a Bethany Griffiths, and this is Beta Test. A game review platform where I—a Workaholic, self confessed Noob—choose one game a month to go ham on until either I get better or get wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely unbiased review. Developed by Night Light Interactive, and Published by Akupara Games, Whispering Willows is a puzzle mystery game, that showcases a variety of chase and timing scenes. Set in a haunted mansion, as all the best things usually are, we play as Elena, the daughter of a man who had close ties to the mansion and its surroundings. Starting in the crypt, the game is set into the horror mode quickly as we explore old tombs and find things that aren’t quite all there in life, or in death. First I’ll say this. The game looks amazing. The hand drawn effort that went into making this game look as rich and dark as it does takes talent, and that’s why I’m so disappointed by the way it turned out. The game itself is a ‘WASD’ based exploration mystery, where you change forms to interact with the other characters and move objects. There are puzzles of various difficulties running through pretty much the whole narrative—which was generally pretty good, until you got stuck on a vague quote someone said and have to retrace all your steps to find the one corner you haven’t explored yet. That being said, it’s a pretty basic game that I would have enjoyed as a teen. That is, anyone can play it, and it’s edgy enough to catch my then-goth obsessed brain. The plot line centres around Elena, but there is a parallel story that ties into the game, about the colonial era, and the interaction between the settlers and the indigenous people. It was an interesting twist on what would have been a pretty straightforward game otherwise. Still, I’m not sure I can say all the pieces fit together. As I walked through catacombs, gardens, guest houses and observatories alike, I found a lot of the characters were only there to fuel plot progression, and the characters that were there for the hell of it were really obscure. For instance, there’s a man with a snapped neck in the garden that jokes about being a comedian in his life. That was it, no further plot, just—comedy. It seems that once you get over how visually stimulating the game is, the plot holes start to come out. Especially with the cut scenes—I don’t know who was in charge of them but they were under-drawn and unfinished. I got the impression that this was like a group project that one person was really passionate about and the other just went ‘Yeah, I’ll draw some shit’ and only got around to it the night before the whole thing was due. Still, credit where credit is to be had, the game play is easy enough that I wasn’t stumped the whole way through, and the graphics of the actual play through were, again, stunning. I loved the way the artist didn’t shy away from the disturbing imagery. The bright light that does save Whispering Willows a bit is the creepiness it maintains to instil from start to finish. I was honestly delighted by how raw and disturbed the spectres you find are, especially when they pop up out of nowhere. I think my favourite was the couple out the front of the mansion itself. I jumped a bit too high when they popped up. Because of the conflicting feelings this gave me, I give this game: 4/5 Spirit guides for style 3.5/5 Spirit guides for plot line 5/5 Spirit guides for easiness 1/5 Spirit guides for The cut scene graphics So, what can I say about this game? I think in the end, if you’re going to make a game, do it. I’ve got a feeling that the more this company produces, the better the games will get. After all, they’re not doing badly at the moment. I think it would be interesting to see a remake in five to ten years time with the same team to see how they could improve. Like the cast of Rent laments, ‘The story never ends.’ In any case, I’ve been a Bethany Griffiths, and this has been a 6am start Beta Test. A game review platform where I either got better or got wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely unbiased review. Until next time.
#7: Little Inferno
Ah, fire. The true nomadic milestone. The vibrating atoms, the fun red colour, the scolding heat of having burned your hand on a flaming marshmallow back in 2011 at an underage house party, and giving yourself a permanent scar on your middle finger. Fire—pretty great, and in this weather, I’m more likely to throw myself into an open inferno than restrain myself from the searing pain, because my body runs at the pace of a sloth with arthritis. Do you wanna build a snowman on my cold frozen corpse? Not if I jump into Dante’s open arms first! As the popular twitter handle @dril says, ‘I will face god and walk backwards into hell.’ And in this cold? I’ll be laughing all the way. … It’s been a month. Hello, my little pyromaniacs! I’m a Bethany Griffiths and this is Beta Test. A game review platform where I—a C O L D , self confessed noob—choose one game a month to go ham on until either I get better or get wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely unbiased review. Behold! Winter is here, and not only has it got the metaphorical keys to its dad’s comero to drive me personally to the land of frozen toes and hypothermia, but it also comes with the most impressive thing known to man since the wooden club. Fire! Yes, the cold is well and truly here and with it, I find myself struggling to get back into the world of the living (why is waking up at 6am so damn depressing?) which is why I’m playing Little Inferno this month. Developed and Published by Tomorrow Corporation, Little Inferno is a peaceful puzzle game, with no timers or, surprisingly, bad consequences. Set in a time where an eternal winter has taken over your town, you are given the pyromaniacs version of an easy bake oven to calm your otherwise terrified tenancies and burn all your worldly possessions. But all is not quite right in your home and soon you bare witness to the realisation that the fireplace is your only pastime. When you start receiving mysterious messages from your next door neighbour, your world is turned upside down and you start to uncover the truth. I found it really easy to figure out the mechanics, and if you didn’t want to delve into the deeper plot lines, I could see this being a therapeutic game, say, for hard days in the office where you really want to staple the refund policy to a person that just bought back an eight-month-old set of walkie talkies. Get home, put on some slippers, grab a glass of red, set things alight. I think the relief of being rid of ‘things’ and ‘stuff’ could be a catalyst for relaxation, and it was really satisfying. If you did want to delve into the law though, Little Inferno is a titillatingly intelligent critique on the level of cyber intake the world is engaging in, as well as climate change, corporate solitude, and escapism. The take on every computer generated medium known to the world isn’t lost here and was pretty much my gateway to getting the point of it all. The creators threw in flappy bird references and plants vs zombies cliches, for those of us that are too distracted by pretty fire to figure out the metaphor by ourselves (me), but the message was clear. What I really loved about this game was that nothing actually insidious was going on behind the scenes. It reminded me of an early Studio Ghibli movie, where you’re waiting the entire time to meet the big bad guy—the thing that you can put all your negativity and hatred towards in a shameless cycle of self righteousness—but in the end, it’s just a show about you, the kid, trying to make their way in the world, stumbling on adult truths and meeting friends along the way. The ending was also really valuable to me, because it conveyed this sense of getting out and letting go that I’ve really needed to be more aware of in the past few months. I found the way the game is set to critique the playing of itself to be on the nose, but in a good way. I enjoyed the way the player is set up to delve deeper and deeper into the string theory, to try and find something more sinister or visceral. The Steam forums, which I spent near days scrolling through, were abundant in alternate ending theories, best play routes, and conspiracies about the main characters. While I will always applaud the gamers keen enough to explore every nook of the game, I think Little Inferno is softly laughing at you. There is no hidden hate, no dead kids, no apocalypse now. Just the real world, in all its natural state, staring back at you sitting in front of your mass produced plastic box, staring into the abyss, burning the midnight oil as well as your life away. And I think that is the point. Or at least, that was the point for me. Because of the intrigue of the game play, and the way it made me think, I give this game: 4/5 Fire starters for style 3/5 Fire starters for plot line 5/5 Fire starters for easiness 4/5 Fire starters for the impending sense of dread that never actually comes to fruition So, after that explosive awakening, what remains? The distrust in the universe? You can’t go back, only forward. What’s burned is burned, and once everything around you is ash, what do you do? Well, like the late great Robin Williams once said, ‘Carpe Diem, seize the day, boys.’ Today, and this month, I leave you with a much more sombre message than what I thought I would—Find the happy in the world. Don’t just fill the void with flame and hope that it’ll keep burning exponentially. It won’t. In any case, I’ve been a Bethany Griffiths, and this has been an somewhat more sobering Beta Test. A game review platform where I either got better or got wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely unbiased review. Until next time…
Australia, land of the Bunnings sausage sizzle, the call of the kookaburra, and the sound of several Contiki backpackers Instagramming nude photos from the Swiss Alps. If you think I’m lying, you have never been on an Aussie holiday, which you need to get onto ASAP because I’M BACK, BABY! Seven kilos heavier from all the amazing food I consumed. Especially the desserts. God, I love European Desserts. Where was I? Oh yeah, games—as the white rapper Eminem once famously quoted from his popular hit, Lose Yourself, ‘Snap back to reality, oop there goes gravity.’ Which is what I’m pretty much feeling right now because of my hatred of flying, but also my cold hard drop to the world of retail down in the fiery depths below. Take me back! I beg of you. G’day, g’day! I’m a Bethany Griffiths, and this is Beta Test. A game review platform where I—a reality struck, self confessed noob—choose one game a month to go ham on until either I get better or get wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely unbiased review. In this time of my metaphorical soul dying, what could be better to soothe my working gal woe than to go inside myself and look at my voidal parts to discover ways of healing myself from the inside out? To fill myself with proverbial colour and to cast out the nothingness that I’m feeling? To, in essence, find the gaps and stuff them with something more meaningful than various treats from old Eastern European countries (Poland, I’m looking at you and your delicious Pierogis)? To help me on my soul finding (weight-gaining) trip, I’ve found a fun little thing, Nihilumbra. Developed and published by BeautiFun Games, Nihilumbra is a game for all levels that gives off classic platforming vibes while retaining its place as an all round indie game. Set in a world where you come from, and are trying to escape ‘The Void’, it deals with the ideas of loss and acceptance, and trying to find your place in the world. I found myself finishing the first play through in a solid day’s worth of gaming, only to find there was a part two built in, which I really appreciate from the developers. I’ll start by giving this game the credit it deserves. It is well made, the script is fantastic, and the overall calmness I felt while exploring ancient places was soothing, especially since every level ends in a chase montage. I was perfectly happy with the fact that you could use checkpoints to save yourself from death, that this game was on the shorter side, and didn’t drag on to overwork the concept. It was short and straight to the point. For that I give the makers props. However, I can’t say that I was enthralled by the game. I found myself getting bored by the third world and, by the end (though I really liked the sentimentality of the ending), I didn’t come away having had a mind-altering experience. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that not every game needs to have the big epiphany to work—Solitaire is good, Chess is a classic—but I got the feeling that Nihilumbra was trying to be more than it was. Or rather, going too deep for a game that reminded me heavily of an interactive ASMR video. It’s not that I had a bad experience, it’s that ironically, I ended up feeling next to nothing for pretty much anything in the game world. Going through the frozen wastelands, the Forests, Volcanoes, Deserts, and City should have been more harrowing to me than they were, and I think that’s where the problem is. We don’t form a bond to our character, they are always a separate identity, which is one of the games most core components. You are the void, You are trying to find yourself, You You You, and yet, for all intents and purposes it wasn’t me. It was a little black blob on the screen that I could control, that I could move with my WASD keys, and that I could make do neat tricks. I wasn’t pulled into the game, and that’s an issue. Stylistically, I found Nihilumbra more convincing, as it can be broken down to old school +10 years in that weird phase of not quite smooth, but definitely not 8-bit any more. I liked the settings and the way the natural world moved around the screen. I enjoyed the way the enemies were designed, even though there was little law behind the naming of them. In fact, I had horrifying flashbacks to myself ten years ago trying to create ‘alternative’ names for my neopets. But I don’t hold that against them. It was a fun little game that was in a fun little platform, no hard (or any) feelings. Because of the casual nature, and the old school style, I give this game: 3/5 Growing Voids for style 2/5 Growing Voids for plot line 4/5 Growing Voids for easiness 2/5 Growing Voids for the growing feeling of nothingness So, after all that, what’s left? Well all I can say is that I can appreciate credit where credit’s due. A tryer is better than a giver upper, and if you want to make up your own mind, I’m certainly not going to be mad at you for giving it a go. Just remember, don’t become the void. In any case, I’ve been a Bethany Griffiths, and this has been an introspective Beta Test. A game review platform where I either got better or got wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely unbiased review. Until next time…
Holidays. The relaxing sound of beer glasses clinking in some vague European country. The inviting feeling of just staying in bed, in another continent, a twenty-four-hour flight away from your home. Getting out of the work stratosphere, evading carpal tunnel (or in my case, chronic retail overload) to truly reconnect with your fellow people. When, unlike the great Atlas, you are able to lift off the weight of the world, don’t you just want to sigh in relief? Well, joke’s on you, you have to smuggle your family across the border of war torn Russia instead. Hello Carl! I’m a Bethany Griffiths, and this is Beta Test. A game review platform where I—worldly, Contiki-brained, self-confessed noob—choose one game a month to go ham on, until either I get better or get wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely unbiased review. This month I am back on the indie bandwagon, clanging my proverbial guitar, taking my metaphorical ‘shrooms, singing something or other from the Beatles or Hair, and loving every goddamned second of it. Yes, gone is the heinous, Joker-like, consumerist nightmare laugh that plagued me last month. Now I get to listen to the bomb in the washing machine, the gunshots of a tenant killing her husband, and the blissful screams of miners as they run down the street only to trample and subsequently kill my wife. Ah, the serenity! Can you tell I’m on vacation? Let me start by saying that above everything, this game is utterly amazing. The way the graphics are incorporated to give that classic indie feel, while maintaining a cohesive, fluid style is delightful. The black and white aura that Beholder gives off, while maintaining a solid colour palate is commendable, and the story line is nothing to sneeze at either. The game really gets you in the mood for the cartoon violence that you have to overcome, the dark imagery gets you revved up for more, and more you shall have with this one. Developed by Warm Lamp Games, and Published by Alawar Premium, Beholder is the gripping story of Carl, a ministry worker, and his plight as the owner of an apartment building under the fall of the Iron Curtain. This game is fraught with conundrums: from saving people that could easily be killed off, to deciding between saving your daughter’s life and keeping your son in school, to giving people up to the law or squirrelling them away on a barge overseas. I have lost whole days on this game, and I’m still not through discovering all the different nooks and crannies. When I first started playing, I was trying to go by the rules. I hate hurting people, so I was trying to be as gentle as possible. I soon learnt that that in not an option with Beholder. The trainee level is hard and the main level is almost impossible, giving you next to no money for tasks that cost you a fortune. I think I spent a solid three days trying to figure out how to save up $20,000 to protect my daughter’s life, only to find that I could get the medicine for free by playing dirty. Normally, I would be more conflicted by the hate that this game seems to have seeping out of its pores. But since this is practically a game interpretation of George Orwell’s 1984, I really appreciate the developers trying to make you think about your situation critically, and assess all your surroundings to take advantage of every loophole you can find. It takes determination, but the payoff is phenomenal in the end. Apart from the occasional bug or glitch, Beholder is amazing for people who want to get into the scene, in an easy to understand but challenging way. (And not to hype the game up too much, but after last month, this was honestly a godsend). Because of the hours of joy this game brought me, and the sheer stylistic vitality of the design, I give this game: 5/5 Illegal Apples for style 5/5 Illegal Apples for plot line 2/5 Illegal Apples for easiness 5/5 Illegal Apples for Dora shooting her husband (Five for you Dora, you go, Dora) So, I can honestly say I’m sad to see this game go. It gave me so much and asked so little. Good thing there’s a sequel or I’d be suffering withdrawals! Isn’t that a horrifying prospect? Well, one thing’s for sure, I’ve been a Bethany Griffiths and this has been a holiday mode activated Beta Test: a game review platform where I either got better or got wrecked, all in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely unbiased review. Until next time…
#4: Batman: The Enemy Within—The Telltale Series
How often do you screw up? Sometimes it feels like failure is inevitable, sneaking up on us every time we turn around. It could be at a party, at a family gathering, or like me, at a recent bad day on the job that led to a string of awkward, disappointed messages, and a panic attack so vicious that I got an actual cold. When an horrendous event happens, don’t you wish you had a save point to skip back to, to make it all better? Because this game sure doesn’t. Hey ya, Bats! I’m a Bethany Griffiths, and This is Beta Test. A game review platform where I—a snotty, anxious, self confessed noob—choose one game a month to go ham on until either I get better or get wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely unbiased review. This month is a toughie. Not just because I started it with a panic attack the size of east Ukraine, or because I have five whole weeks till I’m officially in Europe (though the latter is a nice thought, isn’t it). No, it’s because I tried my hand at something more mainstream. Yes, I dipped my hand in the black inky ooze of mass marked consumerism, thinking that it would break me into the best game I had ever surely played. Oh, how was I deceived. Let me set the scene. A girl, at her laptop at night. She is in her lil’ chilli pyjamas, nursing a Milo, browsing steam. She sighs. Her eyes—tired. Barely staying awake, delirious, She hears a voice in her head. ‘You’re too genre based,’ it says. ‘You need to branch out. You have to do a game that’s more popular. With identifiable characters, and a big plot pine.’ She nods, her finger hovering over the checkout button. ‘Yesssssssss, that’s it,’ the voice whispers, ‘cater to the masses.’ She clicks. The game is bought. She slumps, falling asleep. Head lolling, the download starts, and the month begins. She has now overdrawn her bank account by ten whole dollars. Now, I know, I know, you should never play a game out of spite. Or to please other people, but Darn it, I’m nothing if not a tryer. (not a ‘doer’ because doing is hard and I’m in therapy for it, but trying is something I’m severely adept at. Look out world). In the first few seconds of Batman: The Enemy Within, I was struck by how nice the graphics were. Sure the outlines were programmed in to change with the character, and sure the characters were a little clunky, but wow would you look at that story line. In the first few minutes, I was thinking this was a very long cutscene before the tutorial, and In the first few hours I realised what I should have realised long ago—this is it. This is the game. Now, this game has its good points, don’t get me wrong, but what I felt was so disappointing was that I was set to like this game. It had good dialogue, easy manoeuvres, and it was a great pick up for someone who only knows the basics about Batman. However, in the words of every parent who’s just seen their kid purposefully dump their cat out of a two story window: ‘I am severely disappointed in you right now.’ The lack of skippable cutscenes and actual gameplay was insane. In fact, the whole thing felt like a bastardised intro monologue that grew legs and overran the series with its bulky off-brand Batmobile body. If you thought listening to Sephiroth’s Kingdom Hearts monologue was boring, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Watch as Bruce Wayne encounters conversation after conversation with people that will hate his guts no matter what you pick. Take aim as he presses Q and/or E in movements so slow and meaningless you’ll wonder why you didn’t just pirate a copy of The Dark Knight and watch that instead. Behold, as you choose the silent option for him to cross his arms and pout like the toddler that he is. By all accounts, I was not amused. The thing is, I like that this game has real world consequences. I like that you get to influence the characters and gameplay, and I like that there aren’t any difficult combo breakers that you have to master. But when the entire story is just one long exposition line with a couple of buttons to press on the side here and there, it gets boring quicker than Jared Leto’s Joker. Instead of a kick ass, gritty, crime fighting saga, I got a long, grating, lecture-like, download. And that is inexcusable. Because of the overbearing plotline, and the sheer boredom I faced, I give this game: 2/5 Bats for style 4/5 Bats for plotline 3/5 Bats for easiness 0/5 Bats for Bruce Wayne’s Pouty McPout Face At this point I can’t even feel bad for the franchise for such a bad take on the Batman series. I found out that Telltale has cut a significant portion (25%) of their staff in November 2017, as they want to ‘focus on delivering fewer, better games with a smaller team.’ [G. Smith, Rock Paper Shotgun, 2017] As someone who’s been hired under three different companies that are now slowly going bankrupt, I know a liquidation when I see one. Their comments of wanting to ‘make the company more competitive as a developer and publisher of groundbreaking story-driven gaming experiences’ sound exactly like something a CEO trying to deflect from the issue would say. I feel ashamed that a company would cut it’s staff by such a high margin to cover their asses. So, with that illuminating month of stress and boredom out of the way, what could possibly happen next? Well, one thing’s for sure, I’ve been a Bethany Griffiths, and this has been an abysmal Beta Test. A game review platform where I either got better or got wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely unbiased review. Until next time…
#3: Night in the Woods
Change. The daunting process of moving on and finding yourself. Whether it’s the change of growing up, or changing a job, or vomiting so hard you change your drinking habits for the first month of 2018… change is coming, and it is inevitable. So what can be done about the unsettling fear that so many of us feel crashing down when things start to turn? And what can we do to stay positive and let go of the past? Find out with me in this weird month. Wazzup, nightmare eyes! I’m a Bethany Griffiths, and this is Beta Test. A game review platform where I—a vaguely more sober self-confessed noob—choose one game a month to go ham on until either I get better or get wrecked. This, all in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely unbiased review. It’s February, my dudes, and like most people that love to make empty promises, I’ve only broken my New Year’s resolution three times! I know, what idiot makes the decision to do anything in January, other than starfish on the floor in front of the air con? Well, this girl apparently. Go me! But aside from the goal setting and parameters I’ve claimed, I’ve been losing myself in one of the best millennial games of 2017. So put down the smashed avocado, step away from the new Kesha album, and buy yourself a house because this one’s a good’n. Yes, it seems like amongst bar soap and the American dream, the only industry the millennials aren’t apparently killing is the video game one. Night in the Woods is a thoroughly enjoyable, story rich indie adventure game that sucks you right in from the start. Developed by Infinite Fall, and published by Finji, the game tackles some of the realer and more hard-hitting moments of early adulthood. It plays on the internal struggles of mental illness, the themes of gender and sexuality, and the way higher education is seen. It also explores the manner in which the presence of change in the universe is unsettling and the way people relate to each other through their own broken ways. It is a true critique on the modern age. Throughout the game, we are able to see these themes through the eyes of the main character, Mae. As a hotheaded gal who has a great fear of letting go of the past, I really identified with her character. And not because she and I have a habit of throwing-up drunk at parties (i.e. the reason I’m sober this month), but because of the way she identifies with her fears and anxieties. Night in the Woods really played on this theme of insight, using a higher intuition to solve where you are and where you’re going to be. I got the sense that Mae knew too much; she was so highly in tune with the ethereal elements of the world, but so painfully out of focus with the rest of the space. She was pent up and felt like she always had to perform to please people, all the while thinking she’s an embarrassment and a disappointment. Mae’s character is juvenile and impulsive. She gets reckless fast and is prone to bursts of mania, some of which could be seen as confronting if the player is sensitive. Her highly guarded nature is driven by anxiety and repression, and the way she gets it all out is by smashing stuff and dissociating. Her character is genuine, though, and the love she has for her friends, family, and neighbours is both real and warming. For a character with that much thought and depth, I give huge props to the writers. And that doesn’t even include the rest of the main band: Bea, Greg, Angus, Germ, and Lori all have backstories just as deep. Night in the Woods boasts an impressive narrative that drives the game from a mediocre platform jumper to a true iconic piece of game design. The way the characters interact with each other and the sheer amount of thought that went into the NPC’s is astounding. Almost everyone in town having their own string of dialogue was a genius idea for someone like me who loves a good story with my game; the writing has a fantastic way of making you, the gamer, feel involved. The art style is simple and modern for a 2D render. The autumnal colours give a full, nostalgic view, as though we’re looking back on a constant memory. And the score is gorgeous too. I love the way mundane activities are portrayed in this game. Having a conversation with your mum at the breakfast table, or filling out your journal feels pivotal, and real. (Which is funny, since the game nods at a fourth wall break in chapter three, making me *feel emotions*.) Because of the infinite reality Night in the Woods facilitates, and for the gorgeousness of all things score and script, I give this game: 5/5 Crimes for style 5/5 Crimes for plot line 3/5 Crimes for easiness 5/5 Crimes for millennial strength That awkward middleground of not quite adult but not quite kid, too young to be stuck in the one spot but terrified of the outside world, is played with brilliantly. I saw myself reflected right back in so many incarnations of each of these characters. Being stuck in a job that pays the bills, dealing with my anger issues, trying to save what I can with my retail job, and getting professional help to stop my disassociation. It’s hard to not identify with at least one character here. The developers really took the time to understand what young adults are going through in the modern world and the way it impacts their lives. I am so grateful for that. I’ve been a Bethany Griffiths, and this has been a sober, existential Beta Test. A game review platform where I either got better or got wrecked, in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely unbiased review. Until next time…
#2: Status: Insane
December. The consumerist tradition month. The month where everyone in retail is made to work ungodly hours, and get pelted by shoppers who lost all semblance of mental balance long ago. The month of watching the family gossip unfold in a disarray of champagne and beer. The month of getting fat and blaming the weather instead of the gross amount of pudding and turkey you ate on Christmas Eve/Day. It’s enough to make you go insane. Happy New Year, folks! I’m a Bethany Griffiths and this is Beta Test, where I—a self confessed noob—choose one game a month to go ham on. Whether I get better or get wrecked, you’ll get an unbiased review! Now, with the holiday period coming to an end, I probably should have chosen something like Wii Fit Boxing as my game of choice this month. But oh no, I’m not about to give up my sloth lifestyle just yet. Maybe February… ANYWAY, this month I’m taking you down a dark corridor, through multiple warp pads, and away from any bright lights that harbor gun wielding doctors, as I play Status: Insane—the addictive fast run maze game. Here, you play as Igor, the mental patient with the demeanor of a chicken, who needs to escape the confines of delusional purgatory to reach happiness, peace, and as many funny hats as possible. That’s not hyperbole either. You reside in your ward room waiting to escape—which you will, through a complex series of puzzles that lead to graveyards, sewers, castle outskirts, experimental facilities, and finally to freedom. You just need to navigate through everything without dying or being pelted with tranquilisers first. Make your way through the delightfully spooky layout, which reminds me of every early 3D animation game I played as a little kid, and you get to interact with characters like Greg – the angry patient, and your imaginary friend who is a floating explosive head, with a brain tongue. He has the best dialogue of the whole game, by the way, with his Russian accent and hipster beanie. This game has modesty. It’s an indie run game that has a small cult following, and the developers are lovely. But beyond that, the puzzles aren’t impossible. I wasn’t pulling my hair out, trying to do a maze runner level for the trillionth time. In fact, I only spent a good three days finishing the main storyline. The only time I found myself frustrated was with my own reaction times, which caused me to get zapped by electrical pods, hit by needles, eaten by rats, blown up by floating heads, and demolished by crashing rockets. So… you know… the usual stuff. There is also a strong set of achievements throughout the game that you get by performing specific interactions, like finding all the hats, patient notes, and posters scattered about the universe. This works really well in the game’s favour because it has such a simple structure. The added elements of play give the gamer something to go back and look forward to, instead of finishing the game and going ‘well, that’s it.’ Because of my intense love for easy-to-play, maze games, and the general innovation and motivation shown through the game’s development, I would rate this: 2/5 Tranquiliser Darts for style 4/5 Tranquiliser Darts for plotline 5/5 Tranquiliser Darts for easiness 5/5 Tranquiliser Darts for NOSTALGIA This game is one giant cliché. It cringes. It cringes like the Jimmy-Neutron-game-making-Cindy-Vortex-dumb cringes. It cringes like every-chase-level-of-Crash-Bandicoot cringes. It cringes like a-parent-taking-his-ten-year-old-to-a-Disney-film cringes. And it’s SO good. I loved every minute of gameplay that reminded me of the early days of 3D animation, every small jagged detail of the characters, every level that incorporated something new. This game was fantastic on the nostalgia scale, and I loved that little kids as well as adults would be able to enjoy it. I’ve been a Bethany Griffiths, and this has been a stocking-stuffed Beta Test. A game review platform where I either got better or got wrecked, in the hopes that I can provide you all with a completely unbiased review. Until next time…
#1: Cuphead—The Impossible Game
G’day folks, I’m a Bethany Griffiths and this is Beta Test, where I—a self confessed noob—choose one game a month to go ham on. Whether I get better or get wrecked, you’ll get an unbiased review! This month we’re going to dive into the satanic depths of Cuphead. It’s a high-powered, action-packed indie game that has become notorious for having some of the hardest game play in a stand-alone franchise this year. The near impossible levels of hardness, and the smug noises of the big bosses (Goopy Le Grande, I’m looking at you, buddy), have made me rage more times than I’d ever care to admit this early on in our relationship. In the game, you play as a little red teacup with arms and legs (or a blue mug of the same anatomy if you’re player 2) that shoots bullets of energy out of their hands in attempt to kill the endlessly spawning enemies. Starting in Inkwell Isle, you progress through three different worlds to reach the main boss of the game and defeat the evil. Pretty straightforward, right? So, what’s the catch? The entire game is stacked against you! Right from the very start, you notice that you are slower and do less damage than your enemies. There are also no checkpoints or saves mid-level, so if you die you HAVE to go back to the start. (You have three lives, straight up, with no extra lives thrown at you at any point in time.) Not only that, but if you play the game in Simple Mode, you can’t progress to the final battle. Now I’ll be honest, I haven’t played a game that used platforming like this since the Rayman and Spyro franchises back in the early 2000s, as my tolerance for spending hours on a single level only to get to the end and die for the twentieth time is pretty low. I’m one of those people who get so immersed in games that I feel like I’m actually about to die if I lose… which leads to a lot of clocked hours on placid games like The Sims. But this one, this one game made me re-think my entire stance on all of that. I spent a good hour-and-a-half on the first level, where I tried so hard to get through the first half, only to die when the acorns started appearing. I was bashed by daisy men and mushrooms alike; little blue blob creatures foiled my every plan to get coins, and parry pink items to get a perfect score. And at the end of it—at the end of all that time dying over and over again—I was absolutely, utterly hooked. The game play is simple enough. All the boss levels are a mass stream of button mashing until they die. You get various power-ups that you can buy with coins collected from run and gun levels, as well as some well hidden spot around the home screen. There are three basic types of level: run and gun, boss battles, and plane levels where you fly a fighter aircraft that fires bullets and drops bombs. All in all, the basic concept is plain and simple, but very well thought out. The plot line is pretty fantastic, too. You and your brother are bequeathed the arduous task of collecting the souls of the damned for Satan himself, ensuring your safe return home after gambling away your own soul in a casino that somehow let in minors. As you race through level after level beating bosses, you have to find ways to cheat the system to make any progress. You can use potions and remedies to poof in and out of focus or special bullets; you can gain features by freeing people from impending doom. This would be frustrating and ‘unfair’ if you weren’t dealing with a game that has the literal devil himself in it. Every detail has been thought out from the devil’s perspective and it all makes sense. Given this, and the sheer amount of time I spent on this game, I would rate it: 5/5 Cupheads for style 4/5 Cupheads for plotline 2/5 Cupheads for easiness Which all rounds down to a solid 3.6/5 Cupheads. The game is conceptually brilliant and visually stunning. The late ’50s inkwell style animation and fluid, ever-changing characters create such a beautiful world that it’s hard not to fall in love. The influence of early Disney and Fleischer Brothers studio, are evident, with the game holding true to those sinister undertones of cartoons gone by. Yet, it’s refreshing to see this style of animation in a modern setting. If there’s one thing I can say as a take away from Cupheads, it’s that even if you suck, even if you haven’t picked up a controller in fifty years, you will be entertained. And that is what makes this a fantastic game. I’ve been a Bethany Griffiths, and this has been Beta Test. Until next time…
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