Peekaboo - Oh, the Implications
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Cleril's Peekaboo, an RPG Maker VX game.

The most challenging part of a story is to translate the working of a single mind into a universal experience. To break out of one brain, and still make it legible to the populous at large. The reason this is challenging is because no two minds work alike. Every story that's left somewhat ambiguously open is stricken with a lot of speculation after the fact. Even among games, the true meaning and events of Final Fantasy VII are too liquid to be agreed upon by even closed fan-groups, and certainly less concrete to the general population.

Which is what makes this indie game, by escapist Cleril, so difficult to judge. Ambiguity and implied plotlines are what make up the entire draw of Cleril's title, and are simultaneously the game's biggest shortcomings.

The plot, what little is given, is about a news writer named James, who visits a mansion in order to write a ghost story. What little we discover of James won't fill a paragraph, nor does the rest of the world around James ever come into sharp relief. The largest plot piece, the setting, features a manor which James must explore and understand. The only thing the player is told about the house is that the police do not allow trespassers. Whether or not the police are there as a form of witness protection, or because of a murder, or theft, or anything, is left unstated. In fact, very little is said completely openly about the game's events, and anything that comes of the game is left to the player's interpretation.

Its what makes the game, the plot, the central element to the whole game. From wall to wall. Sound plays an important part, so playing the game on silent or off of fullscreen significantly reduces the effect. Given that the cinematography is limited by the RPG Maker medium, a lot of the game relies on the player's effort to feel a part of the story. Even if it's occasionally sabotaged by the writing.

This is aided substantially by the music and sound, which help set and keep a tone throughout the goings-on in-game. Sounds rely on heavy chords and shifts, peaks in volume commanding the attention, and dramatic lighting shifts help pull the player in, which is the strength that helps the game not only build its audience, but keep it. As best as the medium and the player's imagination allow.

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However graceful the music and sound work in-game, the direction and writing pull everything together in a clumsy way. Though the atmosphere handles itself rather well, the result of the gameplay feels hastily put together. The game highlights a myriad of ways to die, often without warning, resulting in a game mechanic that punishes creativity and exploration as much as it demands it. The inconsistent ride, more often than not, will kill the player for having the audacity to explore. In a game where there is another, more prevalent mechanic, that can be forgiven, but Peekaboo offers no other mechanic in which to find solace, and also refuses to apologize for what it puts its players through.

This is further inhibited by the writing. Failing to follow a direction either has the consequence of killing the player seemingly haphazardly, or having no effect. While this sometimes entrenches the player in the psychological mind-altering nature of horror games, it more often assaults the player's immersion.

Couple this with the game's various endings, which continue the trend of stating nothing definitely past the breaking point. A player can sit down and piece together the images that the game presents, and let the player come to the same conclusion that James did. However, because the tease is so understated, it's also likely that the player will wonder where James' story came from, or why it is laid out the way it is.

Peekaboo is part an exercise in playing with gaming as a genre, and sees equal parts success and failure. However, given the length, and the gravity of the failures, it feels like the sort of game that is better left for experience than the events. However, given the gravity of the writing in a game of its type, it's almost impossible to disassociate the game from its narrative.

Bottom Line: It's hard to classify Peekaboo as anything but a failed attempt. It does what it does well, but it doesn't do enough to really merit the thought it demands of its audience. Worth the experience, but will likely lead to more frustrations than benefits.

Keep in mind that this game is almost entirely about what the player takes from it. So, regardless of anything, player mileage will vary greatly.

I always found this problem with flash games, they are 'just flash games'. They arn't worked out well because of the fact that things require resources, making this sortuv stuff extremely hard to do, not only that, but on your spare time! christ... But they are still an art, though not a full fledged game, they are great to pass the time, and the maker learns things as people bash his/her/its game extensively :D

I do that with publisher made games too though, so no difference really...

Chase Yojimbo:
I always found this problem with flash games, they are 'just flash games'. They arn't worked out well because of the fact that things require resources, making this sortuv stuff extremely hard to do, not only that, but on your spare time! christ... But they are still an art, though not a full fledged game, they are great to pass the time, and the maker learns things as people bash his/her/its game extensively :D

I do that with publisher made games too though, so no difference really...

The game neither is Flash nor needs resources to be made for it. That, and I have the feeling that the creator really isn't really looking for feedback, but rather attention.

OT: I agree with most of your points, Nuke, save for one: atmosphere. The mapping for this game really broke whatever immersion the game had going for it: maps were too clean, too sterile, too blocky, and just poorly put together. If the elements didn't blend together in the map (like a particular set of rosebushes...), the maps then suffered from either being symmetrical or failing to accurately project a semblance of 3D (namely, planes) from the elements cobbled together. There's also the issue of the whole layout of the manor, too, but I'm not going into that.

The game would've benefited from a stronger narrative, and it would've benefited from offering up more concrete details about the whole thing. As it stands, though, it suffers from the flaws of the past games from this creator: hackneyed, choppy writing with a flair for blowing the melodrama out of proportion.

As far as your review goes, it's good, but not one of your strongest. It could be partly due to the material, partly due to when it was published, but I feel some of your sentences could be restructured. For instance, the phrase "As best as the medium and the player's imagination allow" really sticks out, and you could probably splice that into the previous sentence.

Just my $0.02. I know you've been doing this longer than I have, so I'm not going to question your methods to writing.

In the first paragraph, I think that legible should be intelligible, and that games should be gamers (although admittedly it works either way.)

The sentence "Its what makes the game, the plot, the central element to the whole game." just doesn't work at all, ether because something was overlooked or it's just not properly phrased. Also, two consecutive adverbs (seemingly haphazardly) just don't seem to work here. How about "in a seemingly haphazard way"?

With the line "However, given the length, and the gravity of the failures, it feels like the sort of game that is better left for experience than the events...", I understand what you're saying here, but the phrasing feels a bit off. "... it feels like the sort of game that is better enjoyed as an experience, rather than as an actual game." seems to work better in my view. Perhaps I haven't expressed my thought any better (or flat out misinterpreted what you're trying to convey), but the phrasing definitely feels a bit clumsy with what you have. You've also started consecutive sentences with "However, the ____..." I dig the parallelism you've set up, but it's a bit too obvious. Try switching out the second "However, the ____...." with "Yet the ___..." or "But the ____...".

Nitpicks aside, there are some really neat thoughts in here. The initial tangent offers a strong start to the review, and the sixth paragraph in particular is fantastic (especially " The game highlights a myriad of ways to die, often without warning, resulting in a game mechanic that punishes creativity and exploration as much as it demands it. The inconsistent ride, more often than not, will kill the player for having the audacity to explore. "). However you drop asides regarding "sabotaged/clumsy" writing in the early/mid points of the review, and then leave it as one of the last things you address. It gives the impression of shifting gears, which doesn't happen in favour of being sidetracked.

In general, the review feels like it meanders in its own musings. Between acknowledging the limitations of the game and casually dropping comments, I never really felt that the review was entirely focused. It just doesn't feel as tight and streamlined as it could be.

At any rate, I intend to play this game for myself in the near future as I can't say that I have anything better to do. Perhaps when I do, I'll come back to the review and have more to say regarding the subject instead of just picking nits.

I couldn't really get my head round this game, leading to a rather lacking review on my part. You seem to have done better than me on that front so I congratulate you on that.

I had fun with the game, sure it was greatly lacking in some areas, but for something done with RPG Maker it definitely makes the best of what is available whilst managing to be origial.

You address many of the problems i had with the game, especially the whole dieing by exploring part, it reminded me of some the old click and point adventure games that are best forgotten.

But i really had fun with it, i found it the right amounts of scary and at some points it had its moment of brilliance, one of the best moments was right at the start, i found a bloody grave, since this is a horror game i knew i should leave it alone, but i started digging, i found a man who was on his last breath, and called 911, i got a "please call again later" message, i knew something was wrong since 911 doesn't have that, but i kept calling, and each time the answer got stranger and scarier, that was one of the high points in the game for me, i felt immersed in the story so much that my gamer mind, which knew if i kept doing this a ghost would bite my ass off, was silenced by my wish to save this man.

Unfortunately there aren't that many of these moments, and having to do it again when i died ruined the horror and fun of it, great review.

I like the game for what it is, and I faithfully place my trust in that Cleril will indeed become a good game producer.
These games he makes, it's both challenging and rewarding, but it can also serve as a Resimé for when he's applicating for a job as a video-game producer.

Chase Yojimbo:
I always found this problem with flash games, they are 'just flash games'. They arn't worked out well because of the fact that things require resources, making this sortuv stuff extremely hard to do, not only that, but on your spare time! christ... But they are still an art, though not a full fledged game, they are great to pass the time, and the maker learns things as people bash his/her/its game extensively :D

I do that with publisher made games too though, so no difference really...

As someone else said this game isn't flash based. RPG Maker VX was used to make the game and it uses Ruby or RGSS2 as the coding language, if you wanted to know. I appreciate you think it's art as I like to think that too.

Maet:

At any rate, I intend to play this game for myself in the near future as I can't say that I have anything better to do. Perhaps when I do, I'll come back to the review and have more to say regarding the subject instead of just picking nits.

Look forward to hearing your thoughts on the game too. ;)

Liberaliter:
I had fun with the game, sure it was greatly lacking in some areas, but for something done with RPG Maker it definitely makes the best of what is available whilst managing to be origial.

Well thank you for taking my engine use into consideration. Glad you had fun with the game of course and this was my first full fledged horror game. :)

Swaki:

Might want to put spoiler tags on that since to you it's one the best effect. ;)

You can save via the Esc key in the menu of the game. I'm not making excuses due to the problem of you dying for exploring but that is a solution, save. ;)

Jav3lin:
I like the game for what it is, and I faithfully place my trust in that Cleril will indeed become a good game producer.
These games he makes, it's both challenging and rewarding, but it can also serve as a Resume for when he's applying for a job as a video-game producer.

Fixed some spelling errors in that. :P

Very touching words there Jav3lin, thank you very much for the support. :D

Cleril:
Fixed some spelling errors in that. :P

The worst part of this is that any of your games contain a number of spelling errors, which can occasionally be admissible, but also cause issues with immersion. The lines "Your young" in the cab and "nobodies around" in the lower-left room are among them.

Either way, the work that needs the most correction is what the opening paragraphs describe. I find I have a consistently hard time relating with any of the characters, and by extension, why I should care about any of the events in a game. That's the biggest thing that needs addressing, at the very least.

NewClassic:

Cleril:
Fixed some spelling errors in that. :P

The worst part of this is that any of your games contain a number of spelling errors, which can occasionally be admissible, but also cause issues with immersion. The lines "Your young" in the cab and "nobodies around" in the lower-left room are among them.

Either way, the work that needs the most correction is what the opening paragraphs describe. I find I have a consistently hard time relating with any of the characters, and by extension, why I should care about any of the events in a game. That's the biggest thing that needs addressing, at the very least.

I've told you I have a problem with the yours. :P

But thanks for the additional input, duly noted. :)

Can fix those errors if I release another version of Peekaboo with the continue after death option. Not sure if I will due to making people download the game again which is annoying for me to upload and for them to download.

While it had its shortcomings, it still ended up being a very good game, especially considering the tools it was made with. A lot of parts, however, do show the games seams quite noticeably, but overall the game accomplishes a lot of what it was meant to do. Good review.

ucciolord1:
While it had its shortcomings, it still ended up being a very good game, especially considering the tools it was made with. A lot of parts, however, do show the games seams quite noticeably, but overall the game accomplishes a lot of what it was meant to do. Good review.

Thanks for the compliment ucciolord1, even if it was a bit backhanded I'll take it as that. :)

If you could be more specific in those seams that would be helpful.

Interesting article you got going there. The game seems an upgrade from Haven, but it still has many of the same crippling flaws. Either way, its just something that needs to be worked at.

Pimppeter2:
Interesting article you got going there. The game seems an upgrade from Haven, but it still has many of the same crippling flaws. Either way, its just something that needs to be worked at.

It is my first full fledged horror game. Thanks for the support I guess, though it be backhanded! :P

Cleril:

ucciolord1:
While it had its shortcomings, it still ended up being a very good game, especially considering the tools it was made with. A lot of parts, however, do show the games seams quite noticeably, but overall the game accomplishes a lot of what it was meant to do. Good review.

Thanks for the compliment ucciolord1, even if it was a bit backhanded I'll take it as that. :)

If you could be more specific in those seams that would be helpful.

Well, as I mentioned to you before, the bit with the growing blood symbol was meh, and I did encounter two bugs, hardly noticeable, but still there. At one point, no matter how I tried, the generator wouldn't crack, which kept me from getting one of the gems. Also, the collision data for the Peekaboo gem stays even after you pick it up. Other than that, though, it was pretty great. I didn't mean to be rude :)

ucciolord1:

Cleril:

ucciolord1:
While it had its shortcomings, it still ended up being a very good game, especially considering the tools it was made with. A lot of parts, however, do show the games seams quite noticeably, but overall the game accomplishes a lot of what it was meant to do. Good review.

Thanks for the compliment ucciolord1, even if it was a bit backhanded I'll take it as that. :)

If you could be more specific in those seams that would be helpful.

Well, as I mentioned to you before, the bit with the growing blood symbol was meh, and I did encounter two bugs, hardly noticeable, but still there. At one point, no matter how I tried, the generator wouldn't crack, which kept me from getting one of the gems. Also, the collision data for the Peekaboo gem stays even after you pick it up. Other than that, though, it was pretty great. I didn't mean to be rude :)

I do plan to fix some of the complaints and bugs with the game later.

Namely I plan to add a continue option for when/if you die you can just go back a few scenes of the game instead of having to start over or load a save. As well as fix those bugs.

You weren't, I was touched by your words is all. I feel like those big guns at E3 as they watch people play their games. :P

Cleril:

ucciolord1:

Cleril:

ucciolord1:
While it had its shortcomings, it still ended up being a very good game, especially considering the tools it was made with. A lot of parts, however, do show the games seams quite noticeably, but overall the game accomplishes a lot of what it was meant to do. Good review.

Thanks for the compliment ucciolord1, even if it was a bit backhanded I'll take it as that. :)

If you could be more specific in those seams that would be helpful.

Well, as I mentioned to you before, the bit with the growing blood symbol was meh, and I did encounter two bugs, hardly noticeable, but still there. At one point, no matter how I tried, the generator wouldn't crack, which kept me from getting one of the gems. Also, the collision data for the Peekaboo gem stays even after you pick it up. Other than that, though, it was pretty great. I didn't mean to be rude :)

I do plan to fix some of the complaints and bugs with the game later.

Namely I plan to add a continue option for when/if you die you can just go back a few scenes of the game instead of having to start over or load a save. As well as fix those bugs.

You weren't, I was touched by your words is all. I feel like those big guns at E3 as they watch people play their games. :P

That would be a great idea.
And thanks, you should feel that way. This is a fantastic game that you obviously put a lot of effort into. Keep up the good work :)

 

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