Belial: Chapter 2 – Cause of Chaos
Satan is dead and Lucifer’s son, Belial, is firmly in the frame for the murder. Without leadership, demons are running amok on Earth and heaven seems unwilling to intervene. Flashback two weeks to when Belial is planning a coup, having recovered the powers Satan ripped from him in chapter one. Anticipating Belial’s plans, Satan has shut off hell’s power and sealed himself away in his private sanctum. As Belial, you must gather a legion to help you restore power and get through the gates blocking access to Satan’s lair.
Whilst this game from keybol is a sequel, playing the first chapter is not vital, as everything you need to know is explained here. Despite the subject matter, this is not a gory horror game, though the story is mostly played straight with occasional flashes of humour. The graphics are done in a cartoon style with shading to give depth, and they are well-animated, especially Belial’s use of his wings and tail. The adventure presents a moderate challenge, so you will need to keep your wits about you to spot vital clues and necessary objects. Along with more conventional puzzles, you will use Belial’s own demonic powers, such as fire and lightning, to advance. You will also recruit a cohort of five other demons to assist in your quest, each providing access to a power of their own. The soundtrack includes suitable sound effects and a tune that starts off eerie and builds to a more dramatic tone. Though this score is repeated for a large portion of the game, the way it suits the atmosphere largely prevents the repetition from becoming distracting. There is a side quest to find 15 forks hidden throughout the game, and finding all of them unlocks a slightly longer ending.
A House in California
Somewhere in California there is a house. It once had light and colour and sound, but all those things are gone now, and four different characters now seek to restore the house to what it was. Searching through a surreal, minimalist world where memory plays an important role, can you bring back life to this house in California?
At times more a surrealist work of art than a game, this is undoubtedly an experience well outside the mainstream. The graphic style is mostly line drawn in shades of grey, with a handful of glowing orange fireflies initially serving as the only indications of colour. With the house having lost its sound, the game also begins in total silence. The four characters, named but otherwise undistinguished, each have their own chapter, and interaction is entirely handled using the verb list at the bottom of the screen. This list changes depending on your location, and actions include some unusual options such as “Play” and “Cook”. The most often used are “Remember” and “Forget”. By remembering certain items or locations, you are able to travel to them, later needing to forget them to return. This control system leads to puzzles that, whilst not especially difficult, require some investment in the strange game world to understand.
As a cowboy drawn to the American west by the lure of gold, six months of searching have left you almost destitute. Having traded your last few belongings for a horse and some supplies, you set out across the plains. Along the way, a strange tornado snatches you up, and when you come to your senses you are outside the strange town of Red Hill. You just want to continue your journey, but leaving town is not going to be an easy task. Appearing alternately as living community and forsaken ghost town, reality seems uncertain. One thing is certain, though: Madam Aurora’s show is coming, and you probably don’t want to be here when it arrives.
The graphics display a watercolour style with faded colours that suit the dusty and sometimes desolate nature of the setting. The town has an old western feel complete with the usual locations like a saloon, all wonderfully rendered. The soundtrack consists of a slow guitar piece with a background drone that rises and falls, an ambient track that perfectly fits both the western setting and the supernatural feel. You’ll also get to play two reels of music in an old player piano, both of which also feel very much at home here. Conversations with townsfolk will give you some story background, as well as provide certain items. Other than that, you will mostly be hunting for and using objects to further your quest to escape. The local shop has a number of red herrings in it, but the ability to sell items you have no need for should prevent money from being a problem.
This Pastel Games production can be played online at Games Nitro.
Johnny, Why Are You Late?!
We‘ve all had one of those days where things seem to conspire against us and we end up being late for work. Explaining his tardiness to his boss, Johnny is keen to stress that it isn’t because of his alarm clock. The subsequent backstory, played out over the course of the game, will involve a wife who hogs the bathroom, a son who is less than respectful to his father, and objects stored in the most unhelpful of places.
This is a gently comedic tale from keybol, with our hero fighting against the mundane frustrations of every day life rather than saving the world or foiling secret conspiracies. The graphics feature a cartoon style using bright colours and flat objects with limited detail, though all objects are recognisable and the characters have basic expressions. The trumpet and bell background tune is pleasant enough, but its repetition grated on me after a while, making the mute option invaluable. The puzzles are not overly taxing for an experienced gamer, but they incorporate a light mix of locating lock combinations and inventory use. There is also one puzzle which will require a small amount of dexterity with the mouse.
Johnny, Why Are You Late?! can be played online at Newgrounds.Continued on the next page...