Tag Archives: WTF

REVIEW: The 4th Wall

I would’ve demoed The 4th Wall (80 MSP) regardless, but when something looks this blatantly strange and gets all dodgy and interrogative, my involvement is a foregone conclusion. What lies beyond The 4th Wall? asks the marketplace description. Indeed.

A remake with better art and more content (the PC original can be found here, for the extra curious), the game could be described as a first-person ‘puzzle’ (the developer has coined it an ‘abstract horror puzzler’), but that’s not entirely truthful. The only ‘puzzle’ comes in the form of a maze, the rest boils down to trial and error and weirdness, so I had to go and create a new designation for the game— ‘Other’.

And unfortunately, I must invoke the first rule of Fight Club, as to talk about The 4th Wall is to spoil playing The 4th Wall. You’ll have to rest on brief and disjointed phrasing— exploring the white noise, a bleeding worm, a room constructed entirely of words, and eyes watching you.

See?

What I will say is if you decide to give it a try, you shouldn’t suffer any bouts of boredom. I blinked twice the whole time. The continual ‘resets’ of the visuals keep you going, as do the questions. It’s wall-to-wall WTF. Maybe the bleeding worm is a metaphor for the state of the planet, or maybe I’m supposed to be the worm? Or the blood? Maybe it’s just a really long penis. Who knows. The 4th Wall isn’t forthcoming.

Nor is it scary, in the traditional sense. One or two ‘pop-up’ or ‘corner of the eye’ instances. Unnerving? You could definitely say that, mostly in the spatial relationships between you and the ‘screens’, how a much larger room can exist inside a smaller one. That part reminded me of House of Leaves, which (partially) explored the sudden occurrence of a constantly-expanding labyrinth in a family’s closet. That scared me, the idea of a place folding, shrinking, or twisting itself without pattern. Something like this would be worth a whole game on its own, were it properly managed and expanded upon.

Exactly how my parents taught me things.

As it is, I won’t downplay the strangeness of The 4th Wall, which warrants a look if you’re into oddities, but I can’t call it a ‘buy’ either. Your time with it will probably run under an hour, mostly out of confusion and wandering, and there’s no real payoff. The ‘ending’ makes about as much sense as the rest of it. It’s a art house game, easily gathering a crowd to stand and gawk, some tension achieved, but with only the minimum in satisfaction after the ‘show’ takes its bow.

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REVIEW: Pig & Bullet

It’s not often that I’m filled with such disdain for myself that I question the decisions I make as if I’m a second party outside of my body that’s trusted to be objective. Spending a dollar on a game and losing isn’t grounds for reevaluating self-worth. With most dire muck, there’s still a crumb of entertainment to be nibbled. But every once in a while, a title comes along that utterly underwhelms and comes back to haunt my digital wallet almost instantaneously. Pig & Bullet (80 MSP) is that ghost today.

Placed in the hooves of a slaloming pig, the game has you avoiding a literal bullet hell and snatching turnip multipliers to run up the score in each wave. IKA mode requires the opposite, with you collecting bullets on a blue / red rotation, while the third, ‘Masow’ mode, is a sped-up version of collection with random bullet trains (ha! get it!?) roaring past. Yes, it’s the stuff that flash games are made of, translated to XBLIG as a spruced up but simple arcade thrill.

Just make bacon out of this and do us all a favor.

The problem is there’s just not enough content here, and it wears out fast. If your game is going the arcade / score-running route, it helps with longevity to push competition in the form of online scores. Unfortunately that’s easier said than done within the XBLIG framework (understandable), but local leaderboards should be the minimal entry fee. Pig & Bullet only keeps track of your current session. No unlockables, no extras, and very little replayability.

As an iOS game, it may (and I’m stressing ‘may’ in case you couldn’t tell) work as an on-the-go cheap fix. On XBLIG (and as on iOS) though, your dollar can get you so much more. I also question the critical praise used for P & B. Kotaku’s take was favorable, fine, but the Edge Magazine snippet is taken out of context. In terms of fun, I ask simply, where, and at what point? Every one of the game’s four ‘modes’ is only a slight (and mostly visual) variation from the last. The only thing worth a damn here is the soundtrack by Rama Amoeba (Japanese glam rock!) and Yasushi Kaminishi, formerly of Capcom.

For a title that started its life as a free browser game, you’d think the ‘improvements’ added to this release would go far enough to dispel the sense you’re still playing a browser game. They don’t, and your dollar can’t be returned. If you’re the type that must see for yourself (curiosity and all), click the marketplace link above and give Pig & Bullet its eight minutes. That’s all it deserves.