Rating by Antrax posted on Sep 30, 2014
Don't let the strong start fool you
The Black Mirror is something of a cruel joke. It starts out very atmospheric and intriguing, then quickly plummets in quality towards the incredibly predictable end.
The writing is so-so. The game starts out very interesting, but the dialogue is just awful. Voice acting lacks emotion and the lines themselves are awkward and stiff. Then the plot itself becomes retarded, with many convenient holes through which to fit the glaringly obvious twist. It's ridiculous because as you play you have to wonder why nobody stops to ponder some things, then you realize it's because otherwise they'd realize what was going on before the last climatic scene.
Gameplay also starts out decently with some interesting locations to explore, plenty of interactivity and some pleasant puzzling. However, roughly midway it becomes pixel hunt after pixel hunt, seasoned with some magically-appearing objects, reappearing hotspots and instances where your own character lies to you. "This is just a dustbin there's nothing there". Right click. "Oh look a necessary object!".
At some points, it really seems like the game deliberately screws with you. There are several instances where you have to wait. Normally in adventure games, this means leave and re-enter the screen. Sometimes that works, but other times you need to go somewhere far and come back. Other times still, a completely unrelated hotspot suddenly lit up, and "waiting" is going to look at it. The most infuriating time, though, is when you have to wait for 10 real-world minutes to pass. Yes, the game makes you sit and wait. This isn't a puzzle, because you can't fail. No matter what you try, eventually ten minutes will pass. It serves no purpose, since by that point you've exhausted all hotspots in all locations, so there's literally nothing to do but let the game idle while reading and book and wondering what the hell they were thinking when designing this idiocy.
The game also features some ridiculously cheap deaths, where you intend to look at an object only to have Samuel chop off his own head with it. Smart cursors have never been more punishing.
Of course there are dead ends, and not all are clearly signposted. There are plenty of save slots, but the interface isn't well thought out, so you'll find yourself only using eight, since any more require scrolling each and every time you want to save or load the game.
Puzzles are often illogical, and there's no feedback why things won't work. In one memorable instance, Samuel had to mix two liquids in a container, but insisted to put one of them first. When I tried the other, nothing happened, leading me to think the solution was something else. Also, if anyone knows what the game means by "the rope is too bendy", drop me a line. Even after "solving" the puzzle I don't understand what was wrong with my original idea.
To top off the annoyances, beyond dead ends, pixel hunts, illogical puzzles, cheap deaths and having to wait, there's also hand-holding. Often you know what to do but Samuel refuses to do it until you talk to two people back and forth and they spell it out for you. There's plenty of backtracking, at one point clearly deliberate since the game makes you travel between two locations repeatedly, and you have to take the long way around every time.
To summarize: the graphics are adequate, and the game starts out strong. However, it quickly degenerates into a series of frustrations, and what's worse, it looks like malice, rather than incompetence. At least it's a unique experience, so that's the silver lining I guess.
Time Played: 10-20 hours
Rating by UruBoo posted on Sep 20, 2014
A great improvement to a great game
I played J.U.L.I.A the first time it came around and enjoyed it very much. Now, the "new" J.U.L.I.A Among The Stars came with enhancements in graphics. And what a pleasure to see the new graphics (Full HD). There is no difference in story between the 2 JULIAs but just better design/different ways to solve puzzles. I am a big fan of Science Fiction and JULIA is a great one.
Time Played: Under 1 hour
Rating by millenia posted on Sep 13, 2014
A Quality Freeware Game about Demons and Everyday Drama
For a freeware game Ars Harmonia is definitely very well done. The graphics are great and the story is interesting, the music is good and some of the dialogue even has voice overs. As for gameplay it is a visual novel with some light adventure game type of puzzles.
The setting of the game is the near future with weird and brutal murders, often done by demons, though people have even wilder theories about them. The game is short but obviously only a little piece of a whole - just one case as it is mentioned ingame too. Future cases in the same setting will surely be also interesting to play.
The game has some gory descriptions but barely anything is shown graphically. Overall it is not very disturbing even with the violent and demonic theme.
Time Played: 1-2 hours
Rating by millenia posted on Sep 12, 2014
A Sci-Fi Noir Title with Nice Atmosphere
The Maker's Eden has been made with a motion comic technique and basically it plays a like an adventure and visual novel hybrid, having quite light gameplay with some puzzles and dialogue options to choose from.
The art, music and overall atmosphere in the game is very compelling. The story itself is also truly engaging, even with the quite common 'protagonist with no memory' gimmick.
The first episode is very short, it plays barely over 1 hour. To me it didn't make a huge difference as I thought the episode made a great package with a marvelous ending. But if you demand a longer play time or heavier gameplay you can subtract a bit from the score.
Time Played: 1-2 hours
Rating by millenia posted on Sep 6, 2014
A Good Continuation to the Story
The game continues a short while from where episode 1 was left off. Some changes have happened in the surroundings but the protagonist will meet the familiar characters again, and a couple of new ones. The second episode also has a narrator that interacts with Alicia directly, and can also be used to give some hints.
There's a lot of humour and at least with me it mostly hits the mark. The characters and events are very over-the-top but I found myself enjoying many of the little misdeeds Alicia had to do. The bigger story moves forward kind of slowly but reveals enough to keep the player interested.
There are still a few polishing issues like unskippable dialogue and some minor bugs but nothing gamebreaking. A few of the puzzles are also a bit hard to figure out but overall the difficulty level is pretty good.
The game has a nice length for an episodic release (though I admit I did wander around quite a lot being a bit stuck here and there, straight playthrough is probably a lot faster). I am definitely waiting for the next episode and hoping it will be even better.
Time Played: 5-10 hours
Difficulty: Just Right
Rating by millenia posted on Sep 2, 2014
Very good casual game
The protagonist in the game is a murder investigator with a sixth sense. The murder case, which is set on two different times and places, is interesting and the gameplay is mostly fun with varying puzzles. There are some hidden object scenes, and perhaps towards the end there's a couple too many, but most of the time puzzle solving and investigating is enjoyable.
The game looks and sounds nice, and Angelica gives a good amount of comments about the surroundings and the case. This is one of the best casual games I've played and I would definitely recommend it to people as an introduction to casual games. It also has a nice length for a casual game, definitely took me closer to 5 hours, if not past it.
Important notice: the Collector's Edition includes a bonus chapter that is basically essential to the story. Without it the ending is very abrupt and doesn't really give any explanations to why and how things were happening. One might say the game doesn't even feel complete without it. So if you are purchasing the game, I strongly recommend making sure you'll be getting the bonus chapter with your copy.
Time Played: 2-5 hours
I enjoyed the simplicity of this game and its original time traveling theme. When is the next episode schedule to be deployed?
Time Played: 1-2 hours