Among the many new releases we’re seeing, there are also quite a few that are previously released titles now appearing on new platforms. We’re picking out and reviewing three of them here, as we look at The Longest Road on Earth, The Wanderer: Frankenstein’s Creature and Pretty Girls Breakers.
The Longest Road on Earth
About a year ago, Brainwash Gang and TLR Games released The Longest Road on Earth on Steam, where it was very well received. Now, it’s available for all major console platforms as well. We played the PlayStation version of the game, which like the PC version is being published by Raw Fury.
Somewhat ironically, The Longest Road on Earth is one of the shortest games I played thus far this year. And although we’ve had some really lengthy ones that include Elden Ring, Horizon Forbidden West and Dying Light 2, a running time of about two hours does stand out here. This isn’t necessarily a negative though, as The Longest Road on Earth boasts the kind of visual storytelling that works well within the confines of a narrative that is about feature length.
As a game, The Longest Road on Earth features little in the way of traditional gameplay, and its narrative is pretty much devoid of dialogues between characters as well – both spoken and written. Instead, the story plays out through a series of interactive scenes that are all backed by distinctive songs with lyrics and tones that fit the scene that’s playing out. If music videos could be laid out in a sequence to form a larger narrative, this game would be pretty close to that.
Because much of the story is delivered in an abstract and implicit way, your own interpretation as a player is a large part of what you get out of the experience, and that type of storytelling might not be for everyone. It’s certainly a creative and almost art-like approach to videogames, but there’s also a lack of interactivity to the experience. While most scenes keep you busy with often menial tasks while the story unfolds around you, we can definitely imagine that that’s not enough for some and that that will cause The Longest Road on Earth to be seen as a very niche title.
Within that niche, however, it’s a lovely creative take on the narrative-driven indie adventure. Its black and white pixel art style and anthropomorphic characters stand out, as does the unique way of storytelling through music-backed scenes. Consider it’s being sold at a budget price point, it’s two hours well spent.
The Wanderer: Frankenstein’s Creature
Originally released by La Belle Games and ARTE France on Steam, The Wanderer: Frankenstein’s Creature has now been brought to consoles by Hidden Trap. We played the PlayStation version of the game, which is also available for Xbox owners.
We’ve known ARTE as a publisher that regularly surprises us with very creative productions, and The Wanderer is no exception. It takes Mary Shelley’s classic story of Frankenstein but makes the creature rather than Frankenstein the main focus of the story. While it’s a rather casual experience from a gameplay angle, this makes for a game that’s very interesting from a narrative point of view.
Over the course of a story that shouldn’t last most players over three hours or so, you go through a lot of developmental changes with the creature. Starting out, you’re filled with confusion and wonder about the world around you, which is all new to you. Then, curious as you are, you quickly discover that others aren’t so welcoming – they’re scared of the creature they see and can’t understand.
This makes for an emotionally charged story where you long for acceptance and want to do good, only to be greeted with hate and even violence. Moments where more open-minded people accept you for who you are become especially poignant as little tastes of what could have been but probably never will be, and it’s a powerful insight into people’s (lack of) acceptance of others. It’s been over 200 years since Shelley first published this story, but in that sense it’s timeless – and told here through text fragments in addition to an audiovisual style that employs warm color schemes to denote hope at times where the creature is met with kindness.
Gameplay-wise, this is a short experience with a range of mini-games and short puzzles to help you progress through the story, but nothing that’s too demanding of the player that will stand in the way of you rather swiftly going through the narrative. These small challenges are quite diverse though, and even include a simplified rhythm game where you play music for someone. As emotionally laden as the narrative is, it’s nice that the gameplay is mostly pleasant to balance things out. It keeps the focus on the storytelling, so anyone who’s interested in a creative new take on a real classic should check this one out.
Pretty Girls Breakers
Originally published by Zoo Corporation on Steam under the name Pretty Girls Breakout!, this one is now getting a console release thanks to Eastasiasoft – who also published several other games with the Pretty Girls brand attached to them. We played the PlayStation 4 version, which also comes bundles with a PlayStation 5 version – each of which has its own somewhat easy to achieve platinum trophy.
While early Pretty Girls games tackled things like Qix, Solitaire and Poker, this one provides us with a new spin on Breakout/Arkanoid. And where other Pretty Girls titles had a rather formulaic approach the genre they were borrowing from, this one does a few new things in order to mix up the gameplay – always a pleasant surprise.
Of course the game’s level structure is based around the anime Pretty Girls that you’re battling and you’re unlocking costumes as you go, but for those who don’t care too much about the license (which doesn’t contain any nudity) there’s a decent Arkanoid clone here as well – on that gradually introduces new gameplay elements.
The first one is perhaps the most impactful one – the requirement to “hit” the ball by not just positioning your paddle in the right spot but also hit it with the baseball bats that are attached to your paddle. While you’d think that this opens the door to timing- and physics based gameplay, the ball moves rather predictably – the timing of your button presses merely serving to charge up a combo meter. Perhaps an odd choice, but we could’ve seen physics-based gameplay causing frustrations as well.
Besides higher scores, filling up the meter also opens up the door to familiar power-ups that have become staples of the genre, such as balls that just flow through multiple bricks at once or a shield at the bottom of the screen. More innovative as the enemies that are introduced later, who will not hesitate to fire at you as well. Well-timed swings of your bat can return incoming fire too, so there are quite a few nice little touches to the gameplay here that you don’t find in other Arkanoid games. The Pretty Girls license doesn’t add much unless you’re a big fan already, but if you enjoy the Breakout genre then this is an affordable and well-made take on it.