Stylistically, this reminded me a bit of Space Funeral, in a good way. It uses tried-and-true mechanics (with a bit of a spin) as part of its storytelling, but in a very subtle way.
The story itself is difficult to follow. The main theme certainly seems to be about some self-centered individual who is in a constant cycle of breaking and mending a friendship with someone else. The story begins with us in the middle of one of the "breaks" in the friendship. Young, the player character, expects it to be easy to fix the friendship, but the friend, Briar, is savvy to the cycle and won't be so quick to forgive. Young's journey is a humbling one, as he has to come to terms with his imperfections in order to show Briar he has changed. However, we can assume the cycle will continue. At least... that's what I got out of the story.
It's always tough with these sorts of surreal games to tell if it's just being weird for weird's sake or if everything has a specific meaning. However, this game at least stays consistent in its presentation, and for that much it's commendable.
The writing is excellent, the visuals are gorgeous for pixel art, the soundtrack is great (and surprisingly deep), and though the game only has one real mechanic for puzzles, it continually finds ways to keep it fresh. Unfortunately, the game is VERY formulaic. It doesn't take long to figure out exactly how each area will play out: enter a region, explore every cell on the map, enter a dungeon, explore every cell on the map, collect cards, fight a boss, repeat.
The dungeons themselves are designed impeccably and the overall pace is good enough that the predictability isn't too problematic. But occasionally I did roll my eyes upon entering a new area, thinking "Well here we go again."
Still, if you like Legend of Zelda and games with a deeper thematic experience than average, I can't recommend this highly enough.
Posted: January 22nd, 2014