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About the Story
A dating sim about how humanity connects through art, even out in the vastness of space.
Winner, Best NPCs; Nominee, Best Individual PC - 2014 XYZZY Awards
Rock, Paper, Shotgun
S.EXE: Creatures Such As We
When Max Payne, the dark bullet-time Sam Spade-em-up game came out in 2001, I thought it possessed a most ingenious game meta-narrative moment. ... I am now twenty-nine and really difficult to please, but I can say confidently that Creatures Such As We is an elegant, intricate meta-narrative about player emotional investment and romancing non-player characters. Max Payne would do a Keanuface at it.
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Number of Reviews: 7
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Having played through Mass Effect 3 again recently, I could not help but view "Creatures" as a commentary on that game, and in particular on the discussions revolving around its ending. I did not check if that is even possible, but in any case: "Creatures" covers a lot of game theory relevant to ME 3, like whether players or authors should decide a games ending, how romance should be portrayed in games, the meaning of self-sacrifice, whether games should mirror life or rather provide means of escape, etc.
This is all packed into a well paced story on the PCs moon adventure with the designers of their favorite game, including that game as game within the game.
So why is "Creatures" not five stars for me? I think it lacks a bit on the game side of things. Most choices I really had to think about concerned my opinion on the game theory questions mentioned above. The choices regarding the actual plot seemed a bit bland in comparison, even though the story itself is quite compelling.
That caveat aside, in my opinion anyone even remotely interested in game design (and romance!) should play "Creatures Such As We".
I've often pondered on my reasons for reading novels, playing IF, reading stories online, etc. I've talked to my family about it, and my answers to why we escape and whether it is good changes fairly often. I also was oncea professional video game developer.
This game, then, drew me in completely. This is a choice-based game about someone who is trying to understand escapism, its role in life, its benefits and drawbacks, the meaning of art, etc.
It was fun to play the character as myself, giving the answers and reactions I would. I was happy with my ending.
It was funny to play this game after Ultra Business Tycoon III,and reading online debates over whether that game is winnable, and what it would mean if it is not winnable. I don't necessarily recommend playing that game first (Porpentine has better games, like Howling Dogs), but it was interesting.
Lynnea Glasser tends to make very good games. I didn't like Tenth Plague on philosophical grounds, but Coloratura was fantastic.
This game contains several instances of strong profanity near the beginning.
tldr: An enjoyable IF despite a bit of rail-roading.
I love space and seeing this setting made me think of something that could quite actually happen in the near future. It was very enjoyable. Playing as someone in the service industry, and all the ups and downs that go with it, resonated with me. My favorite aspect of the game, however, was the game within a game. Following along with the story in a story was really enjoyable and, if it weren't a Choice of Games game, I would definitely go back and tool around some more.
My least favorite part of the game was when I was given a choice that was no choice. There were a couple, really, but the second time the lack of choice felt more like it was played for laughs. The first time really got under my skin, however: (Spoiler - click to show)When asked how competent the protagonist is in a rather stressful situation, I decided to go with the more optimistic route. I decided that I was prepared to deal with the situation at hand. However, the narrative second-guessed me and then grayed out that option. As there were other options similar to my initial choice, again I chose to see the protagonist as more on the competent side. Again the game second-guessed me. I did this until there was only one option left, the option that the game wanted for me and not the option that I wanted. It was very frustrating to say the least.
IF games already tend to be linear (some more than others) and taking away what little player agency I thought I had left a bitter taste in my mind. I was able to keep playing, but that keeps me from wanting to go back and play a second time to explore other avenues.
I'm not sure how intentional this was as the game in the game seemed to shadow another game: (Spoiler - click to show)The Mass Effect Trilogy, where the ending didn't seem to take into any serious account what the players had done throughout the game.
All in all, I would recommend playing through this game at least once.
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There were a lot of great games released in the past year, and now that the XYZZYs are coming up, it seems like a very good idea to take a poll of all the games from last year people would like to see nominated. The management has asked...
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