Hi, I’m Gwen Guo, co-founder of Imba Interactive. It’s a game audio studio which does music, sound effects, voiceovers, audio implementation, and everything in-between. I’m going to talk about the three games I played and adored this year.  

Wandersong

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Developed by Greg Lobanov, Em Halberstadt and Gordon McGladdery Wandersong is a puzzle adventure where the main mechanic to solve puzzles and defeat enemies is by singing!

Here are the top 7 reasons why I LOVE THIS GAME.

  1. The devs believe that violence isn’t the only way to solve problems.
  2. It’s a very well-implemented game where audio is the main mechanic without the need to have hardcore skill progression the way many rhythm games do. This keeps the game unintimidating for the masses.
  3. It’s similar to the manga One Piece in a way that the Bard gains friendships/people to join his team along the way no matter how difficult they seem to be. The baddies aren’t also always bad, but bad through circumstance which we’ll come to understand through their personal stories. I really like this thematically because it portrays everyone in a multi-dimensional light rather than the typical good vs evil theme. I think it reflects how I personally view humanity as a victim of circumstance and structures. It’s all very wholesome :).
  4. While it’s an audio game, it’s also accessibility-friendly for the deaf (or the tone-deaf) with animation and colour cues. Not many indie games think about accessibility so really props to the team.
  5. The entire game, including the audio engine, was developed in GameMaker Studio. That’s impressive!
  6. The world moves with the music through subtle means – you can really tell that there’s so much heart put into the game. You just need to sing close to something as small as a pile of autumn leaves and the leaves rise with the song while making cool sounds themselves.
  7. Gord and Em are some of my favourite audio people – they are both from A Shell In The Pit based in Vancouver. His OST is simply amazing and delightful, and Em’s sound design is always so charming, creative and tactile. They’ve worked on indie hits such as Duelyst, Night in the Woods and Parkitect.

Florence

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What a simple & short masterpiece! It reminds me that often, it’s not about how complicated or challenging a game is – how it relates to the player (myself), makes them feel is the core to what makes a game really stands out to me. The small ways which they use puzzles to represent daily life are clever and intuitive.

My favourite mechanic is when arguments occur between the couple, the speech bubbles are represented by classic jigsaw puzzle, getting more complex as the argument escalates.

God of War

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The ultimate parenting simulation; ’nuff said.

While it’s not a game I’d ordinarily gravitate towards, I thought the focus on the relationship between Kratos and Atreus “Boy” was extremely compelling alongside the massive violent family soap opera that persists between Freya and her son.

Atreus is Kratos’ AND the player’s voice of conscience which keeps us as human beings in check of our decisions in-game – a reminder that our virtual son here is watching our actions.

The question this game poses is “how do you justify your sometimes complex AND violent decisions to your virtual son?” There are no easy answers with parenting as the game explains through flawless voice acting and writing, as with real life.

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