Remember when you were in high school (or maybe elementary school) and you learned how to type? The teacher would sit everyone in the class down at a different computer, and you’d spend time learning about the “home row”, proper posture when sitting at the computer, and how typing with only two fingers on the keyboard at any given time is a horrible atrocity. (Author’s note: It’s not actually. You type how you want to type. Just never let me see it, because a part of me will die.) Well, if you remember that, congratulations! And if you don’t, then perhaps this review dates me, though whether it’s in a good way or a bad way is open for debate. Anyway, those that remember such typing classes and their associated programs may remember some of the games that were incorporated in. They were often simple affairs; tending to be very Space Invaders-esque, with various objects falling from the top of the screen requiring you to type different words to destroy, eat, or otherwise interact with them. Epistory: Typing Chronicles acts as a modern reimagining of such games, including more complex gameplay mechanics, a story and collectibles, and an absolutely gorgeous aesthetic.
Life is an incredibly complex thing. Every day, we have hundreds of experiences, ranging from the mundane to the life-changing, and that particular set of experiences is completely unique to us. No two people ever have the exact same day at the exact same time. However, despite the overwhelming dissimilarities, our lives are more similar than we might think. All of them have the same beginning and end; the differences arise in how we get there. Many people go through a number of standard “steps” in life, as well. Most remember being disciplined by their parents at some point. Lots of people get married. Still others have children; crazies, I tell you. Our lives continually cross at these points of commonality before diverging into an abyss of personal choices. However, it is through these points that I Am a Brave Knight tells its story, connecting each dot together into a brief, yet universal narrative.
The end of the world happens every day.
Well, I guess that’s a slightly misleading statement. A better way of putting it would be that the end of a world happens every day. It may not involve you or someone you know, but hardship is a constant presence in our lives. Day in and day out, we struggle to build up and maintain some semblance of a satisfactory existence, yet it’s seemingly inevitable that it will all come crashing down. It happens in different ways at different times for different people, but there always seems to come a point where every facet of our existence, carefully placed and polished to a mirror sheen, becomes utterly meaningless in the face of some seemingly insurmountable challenge. The world that we’ve so carefully built up around ourselves shatters into thousands of pieces, and we’re left to wade through some of the hardest times in our life as everything seems to fall apart.
Such is the premise of The End of the World, a short, linear, narrative-driven experience for mobile devices. As the game’s store description explains, it follows the life of a man whose world ended the day that he lost his love. In the game, this “world ending” takes the form of the world literally falling apart and decaying around the protagonist as time goes on. It’s the player’s task to take the man through the terrible hardships he faces and hopefully find a way to move on.
Tsundere: [noun] A Japanese term for a character development process that describes a person who is initially cold and even hostile towards another person before gradually showing a warmer side over time.
– Source: Wikipedia
Tsundere Sharks. The name alone got me, and it was further helped by the app icon, featuring a cute-looking shark with rosy cheeks and a sour expression. Having flashbacks to my brief time with Hatoful Boyfriend (a pigeon-dating visual novel), I was instantly intrigued. The store description furthered my excitement by promising the opportunity to “Find [the] best girl”, calling the game a “Super Realistic Harem-Shark Sim”. “I am 110% okay with a shark dating game on mobile,” I thought. I specifically postponed playing it until I was at home, thinking that it would be an amusing and entertaining experience deserving of my full attention.
I think that I maybe got a bit overhyped.
War is hell.
Now, certainly this shouldn’t be a revelation to anyone. As history continues to repeat itself over and over again, people continue to fight and kill one another, and the harsh, horrific realities of war are brought to the forefront of the public consciousness. Every person that dies may have had children. A spouse. Friends. At the very least, they had parents, whether they knew them or not. They weren’t just some faceless drone, waiting to be gunned down in the name of their country.
In video games, though, things are different. Every character is simply programmed to be there. Enemies have no real thoughts, hopes, or dreams. They will ruthlessly pursue you to the ends of the Earth, killing you over and over as you endlessly respawn, until you finally put a bullet between their eyes and end it.
This has raised an interesting question over the years: what are the ramifications of this interactive violence? So many games on the market expect us to mindlessly butcher hundreds, if not thousands of enemies, all in the name of the “greater good”, whether that’s saving our boyfriend/girlfriend or saving the world. It’s easy to justify going on a virtual murderous killing spree for hours on end so that we can save a fictional land, but what if it was all real? Would we still be seen as the hero at the end of the day? Or does there come a point where a line has been crossed, and redemption is rendered impossible?