Must Plays: Old Man’s Journey

While I still have a lot of catching up to do in regards to the copious amount of robust, open-world games that came out on the Switch in 2017, I’m more than happy to play some smaller, more intimate experiences in between making sure the word “backlog” cross my mind at any point. Thankfully it looks like the front half of 2018 will be loaded with ports which, while great for the system and those games that were missed because of Wii U’s small install base, don’t give me much of a thrill as I already have them on Nintendo’s misunderstood little gem.

In between trying to finish stuff like Xenoblade Chronicles 2 or the Champions Ballad in Breath of the Wild, I’d like to squeeze in quite a few smaller games to cleanse the palette on. Using the word “smaller” is something of a misnomer, because I’m not the type of person who ascribes to length being indicative of quality or worth. While perhaps they can be experienced in just a few hours, I don’t think that independent games are any less impactful.

I can’t believe I just used the word “impactful.”

I also can’t believe that spell check isn’t underlining it with a red squiggle right now either.

But I digress.

Point being, I’m ready for literally anything this year. Thankfully, something I’ve been very curious about, Broken Rules’ Old Man’s Journey, is finding its way to my favorite hybrid console this year. Beyond the trailer I know next to nothing about it other than it’s a “puzzle-driven story game about life’s precious moments, broken dreams and changed plans.” The titular elderly gentleman in question receives a missive of some sort, to which he responds by leaving his humble cottage and venturing out into the world. Quite frankly, the less I know beyond that the better off I probably am.

I’m not typically spoiler averse, but all I wanted to know is what I’ve seen – namely that it’s a beautiful interactive narrative that oozes charm and wit that tells a contemplative and reflective tale. Knowing that something has piqued the old man to where he’s willing to go trekking out into the world is all I need to go off of. I want the rest to be a surprise.

Vagueness is probably not the best conveyor or excitement but regardless I’m ready to put in my ear buds, zone out and see where this tired old man’s walking shoes take him.

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Foul-Mouthed Fun With Friends: Use Your Words Review

Even though they are passé at this point, my family still enjoys a good, adult party game.

After Cards Against Humanity burst onto the scene and took Apples to Apples call-answer-vote shtick and infused it with all the vulgarity and inappropriateness it could possibly think of, game developers were pretty quick to hop on the bandwagon. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then CAH must be flush with faux embarrassment. They’ve gone beyond Amazon to big box stores, with red warning labels letting people know that these are the unseemly and tasteless games they are looking for.

Like I said, I’ve played my fair share of them; from Joking Hazard to Personally Incorrect, we’ve busted out simple but offensive card games for the sake of sharing a giggle with others. They aren’t meant to be played ad nauseum, because even in short bursts the seams begin to crack and the shock value goes down as you realize even though they are subjective they can be gamed by certain people. As a flash in the pan experience though? They’re memorable and fun.

As I’ve written before, I’m not one to pooh-pooh a good gimmick. They should be enjoyed and taken into account as such just as much as they should for being a fad sometimes. Why forgo a good memory for the sake of snobbishness? Use Your Words came out of nowhere (or, specifically my inbox courtesy of Nintendo Life) and charmed me with its trick of being a game showish experience where the goal is to fill in the blank to various things and hope that others vote for your inherent wit and pithiness.

Everything from the 60s era elevator music to the overly emphatic announcer screams long lost game show. The only things missing are the old-fashioned stick mics and a circular design aesthetic. The game is played in rounds where you must either finish the subtitle to a foreign film with little to no context, finishing off a sentence or coming up with a headline to vague and garish photographs. It’s all capped with a quick answer speed round as its grand finale.

What makes the whole thing work is that rather than having to gather up a bunch of controllers, everyone logs into a website and types their answers in with any online enabled device. The asymmetry to it is neat, as you can’t look at anyone else’s answers and voting is also kept hush-hush. The game also adds its own answer to the pool that will take points away if you choose them, but after a while they’re pretty obvious as you start to peg how other people tend to answer. It’s best played in small bursts and with different people, because as I’ve mentioned before people will start to game the system when they see the cracks in the design.

Until that happens though, the cleverness of Use Your Words is delightful. In particular I enjoyed adding subtitles to movie clips, because it’s the type of interactivity that sets it apart from its card-based brethren. But the amount of interpretation is far greater in everything you do because you aren’t restricted by what cards are in your hand. But, that also means that your sense of humor will peg what kind of answers you respond with which, like I said, can be a detriment.

The worst thing I can say about Use Your Words is that I’m worried for the time when the developers shut down the servers to the connective website as it’ll make the game unplayable. It’s not the type of game that you play then summarily shelve for all eternity. You’re gonna want to bust it out every now and again when parties and family get-togethers happen at your house. It’s raucous, it’s rude and it’s a great ice breaker.

It’s true that I don’t know Jack, but I do know Use Your Words is worth your time.


FACT FILE

Developer: Smiling Buddha Games

Publisher: Smiling Buddha Games

Release Date: August 3rd, 2017