Last week we looked at a few games for very different target audiences, but all pulled from the idea that Halloween-feeling games don't have to be so scary. This week we've got a few more games focused around monsters and the monstrous!
Geek to Geek Media was provided with review copies of some or all of these titles.
Penko Park is Pokemon Snap. Not New Pokemon Snap, but good, old-fashioned, N64 Pokemon Snap. It's a low poly, low saturation adventure where you ride in a leisurely cart through a series of environments taking pictures of interesting creatures.
I'm putting it in as a Halloween game because the creatures here are all a bit offputting. Maybe it's just because I'm not used to them or because of the low, kinda gloomy aesthetic, but these aren't cute pocket monsters. Even the smaller creatures feel threatening.
As you progress through the game you unlock new ways to interact with the world. A sticky hand lets you grab artifacts in the environment. You can change tracks to see different parts of a level. You can even get a ball of bait you can chuck at the creatures. Some of them love it, while some of them will turn aggressive at that interaction. There's even a “Ghost-o-vision” upgrade, which really amps up the spooky vibes.
This seems like a pretty short game and doesn't really do a whole lot to push forward the “photograph creatures” genre, but it's the purest Pokemon Snap clone I've played.
Monster Prom XXL
- Price: $15.99
- Suggested Audience Age: Rated M for Mature by the ESRB
- Availability: Switch, Xbox, PlayStation
I’ve heard folks talk about Monster Prom XXL for a long time, but had never seen it in action. Even when my friends over at First Encounter streamed it, I missed the show and just saw the discourse afterward about who those boys were enamored with.
I finally picked the game up without really knowing what to expect and had an absolute blast wooing my way through a high school full of the occult.
Basically, Monster Prom XXL is a game where you and up to three other people choose a location in the school to visit, have a chat with whichever students are there where you try to build up your relationship with them, and then do that over and over again. At the end of a game, which will only take about an hour at most, you pick a monster to ask to prom, and then the game ends.
Even though the aesthetic is high school, this is a very mature game. You’ll talk about drugs, sex, violence, and all sorts of other fun stuff as you try to find a date. The gameplay is absolutely minimal here, built exclusively around a few dialog choices in each conversation. Really it’s the absurd writing that shines.
Betrayal at Club Low
- Price: $9.99
- Suggested Audience Age: Unrated by the ESRB, but it should be at least Teen if not Mature
- Availability: Steam, Itch.io
I… don't know how to talk about Betrayal at Club Low. This is one of the weirdest games I've played in a long time, but the more I think about it the less weird it is… until I think about it too much and then it gets weird again.
Basically, Betrayal at Club Low is a sort of old school RPG. You play as a character with stats who moves around a small environment. You interact with lots of objects and characters, and roll your stats (represented by six-sided dice) against their stats to see what happens. Success usually helps you move towards your goal, while failure gives you status effects that add other dice with positive or negative modifiers to your future rolls.
Oh, and the story is that you are sneaking into a surreal night club as a pizza delivery guy to rescue a secret agent accomplice of yours who has been captured and you make dice out of pizza to get special abilities and extra stat boosting cash.
The basic mechanics are pretty straight forward, but everything about the art, writing, and overall presentation is absolutely wild. I don't even want to tell you all of the weird things you can interact with, but one of the first status effects you can get is “smells like the city” after standing over an open sewer. You can get into a battle with soup. There's a whole dance floor of patrons who can aid or turn against you. NPCs who have fulfilled their role sometimes leave the conversation by just flying straight up in the air with flames coming out of their feet.
I absolutely loved playing Betrayal at Club Low, but it's strange surrealism kept me on edge the whole time.
… and even more?
Halloween is coming up fast, but we'll be back with more suggestions to play soon! Be sure to jump into our Discord or Slack to let us know what you're playing.