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Tales From The Basement

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Tales From The Basement, March 14, 2022
by Gryphon
Related reviews: EndMaster

General Recommendation: I recommend this game. Those fond of the lol random and/or offensive genres will have an excellent time. Those who are unfamiliar with the genre can be pointed to this game as a fine example of the genre done correctly. Even those who dislike the genre may find themselves enjoying this story despite those elements, as it has such a wide variety of possible plotlines and outcomes that there’s probably something for everyone.
Preview: Can you successfully get a life? Or will you retreat to the mediocrity of your basement, if you survive the outside world at all?


General notes:
This is a game that really has nothing else quite like it on the site. The closest I can think of is Trash (with similarities in humor and setting, and the same episodic feel), but there are subtle differences in theme and character that make this one it’s own unique thing.
Despite essentially being three seperate stories, the grouping of these tales into a single game helps the narrative of each individual game stand out in its own way. Cave of time storygames are already seperate stories grouped around a single character; this game takes the logical next step by grouping its narratives around a theme.
Ebay Escapist: A fine exampe of a “lol random” game done correctly. There’s a through-line of theme between all the branches, and even the plots and events that make no sense seem connected and fit with the world crafted around them.
Good Girl: It’s impressive how grounded this branch feels despite dealing with situations that are as fantastic, if not more so, than the other branches in this game. The narrator’s more detached tone, coupled with Suzy’s less, y’know, crazy, personality slows down the plot here and makes each mini-adventure seem more serious.
Anime Addict: Not my thing, probably for the same reasons I didn’t get as much enjoyment out of trash. I’m not familiar enough with the subject being mocked to really appreciate the satire and humor here. I expect other people in the target audience will find this branch quite entertaining and clever.
I’m not in this game’s target audience, but I did enjoy it more than any other work in the genre I know of. I liked this game more than Trash, due to the existence of semi-sympathetic characters, and more variety in humor types and plotlines.

Specific notes:
-Ebay Escapist starts off efficiently characterizing the lead by showing that they prefer dreams to realisty.
-I can already tell this story is going to be something different when the first major obstacle I face is a homicidal plant. Earth is saved!
-I know that stopping the kudzu & dying unrewarded vs running away and being blamed is more a result of the narrator’s pathetic life than anything else, but I do like when stories allow heroic actions to go unrewarded. It gives stories depth and makes the player question whether they’re playing the game to do well or to do good. More realistic.
-Gosh darn exchange rates
-I usually dislike when actions have very random outcomes, but it seems to fit the tone of this story pretty well, adding to the surreality and randomness.
-…now I can buy that bomb shelter I always wanted? Is this a ground zero prequel?
-Chainsaw murdered because of inconsistencies in english spelling. My own fault, really.
-Lol, I like that the styrofoam island is in more than one branch. Details like this prevent this branch from falling into the traditional pitfalls of similar games. It simultaneously adds connectedness and randomness in a positive way.
-This Ebay Escapist branch is probably the most well-crafted “lol random” game on here. Things happen without any apparent reason behind them, but in a weird way, everything fits with the world in a consistent way.
-I can’t believe the freaking abestos car is worth more than the island.
-After switiching to the anime branch, I’m struck by both the subtlety and the power of the tone shift between the two pathes. The narrator’s tone switches almost instantly, becoming both harsher, and more personally involved. While in Ebay Escapist the narrator is simply telling the Escapist’s story, here the narrator is directly judgemental, laughing at the Addict, and providing personal commentary.
-The grammatical horror of the phrase “AN HERO” really hammers the point in.
-The Addict branch seems to have a lot in common with Trash, both in narrational tone, and a lot of the plotlines.
-“Yiff in hell”, lol
-The use of the narrator’s name (Brian) in the Addict branch is clever. You don’t learn Brian’s name until he’s decided to pull himself out of his anime addiction and developed a bit more of a personality. Meanwhile, you never learn the Ebay Escapist’s name (due to the short random naature of the branch), and you learn Suzy’s name immediately (due to the more involved character-driven nature of her story).
-I can already tell the good girl branch is going to be the most complex, as we’ve got an actual cast of named characters. This does a good job of differentiating this branch right off the bat.
-Oh somebody’s getting those ashes dumped on them.
-Ben should just get a job building people bunkers (and killing Chulocks) since he seems to be really good at it.
-In the Good Girl branch, there’s been yet another narrational shift. This branch is probably the closest to EndMaster’s usualy writing style; a more traditional unbiased narrator who doesn’t directly comment on the action.
-“You would’ve wrote it in already” lol
-Somebody got the ashes dumped on them but it was not how I expected

All good!
Mastery of Language:
I didn’t notice any sentence structure issues, and I thought the change in the narrator’s voice from branch to branch was a particularly clever way of showing the difference between the stories.

Quite excellent. Each major branch has literally dozens of different outcomes, with a wide variety of different ways the protagonist’s life can end up.

Player Options/fair choice:
Not great, but since this game has many lol random elements, that’s sort of the point and it’s not an issue.

In Ebay Escapsit I got the ending where you die fighting the kudzu. In Anime Addict I got the ending where you leave the house and immediately get beat up. In Good Girl I got the ending where you’re killed by Chulocks.

CONCLUSION: Another original installment by EndMaster in the CYS landscape.

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