“External Visions Demo” Review
Verdict: 2/5 stars. It’s a competent game, but that’s really all it is, and I think I would like to spend my time on games which bring me more joy than just “competence”.
What’s with all the hecking demos around here lately? There’s been three in the past week, and all of them are longer than the actual games I’ve played in that time! I guess in order to make a demo, you gotta be making a commercial product, and if you’re making a commercial product, it has to be long. That way you can indoctrinate the proles for longer. Why do you think my reviews have such a heft to them? It’s all propaganda, all the way down, telling that a game has to be made THIS way, or that you can only express yourself THAT way, and all the fun and games are just a distraction to stop you from realising this universal truth: I control what you like. I am the Alpha, and the Omega. The beginning, and the end, the bullet in your gun, the inner glow that lets you know to call your brother son…
And this game is a double – betrayal. Not only is it a demo, but it’s also a retro game, because you can’t spell “video games” without “parasitically appropriating past remnants of our culture for the sake of covering up our lack of imagination while selling to the lowest – common – denominator who buys product based entirely on how the chemicals in the brain makes them feel with no higher thought processes whatsoever and so exploits their false sense of nostalgia in order to trick them into believing in a past that never existed, and will never exist so long as they live”. Give or take a few letters.
Usually starting out a review like this means I don’t give a shit about the title and will spend the next two thousand words pissing and moaning about how bad modern games are, how the Copyright Monopoly is ruining human culture, and how the only way to live virtuously in this world is to be exactly like me with no deviations whatsoever. I mean, you should, but that’s not what this review is about. This game isn’t like it that; it’s pretty challenging, I would say. It does, however, does live in a universe where everyone is woke as hell, just like me, while dropping the ball and ending up writing a bunch of nonsense that only tangentially plays into the main portion of its creation. Also just like me.
So it’s challenging in its gameplay but not very challenging in its themes, one just sort of existing for the sake of adding some variety to the other. Par for the course. But not with me, because, once again, I control what you like, I am the only source of entertainment in your lives, I am the one who casts out the Normie Menace and ushers in the Divine Frogelings, and it’s all very well – planned, uh, there’s a lot of good stuff here, good stuff later on, past, present, future… futurism… futurist… Oh, Hell, I hope they don’t realise I’m just distracting them from the grave…
Main portion of its creation
I talk too much, so I’ll let the box art do the talking: External Visions is “an artistic metroidvania with a classic NES era gameplay, taking the player through the life of an average man escaping his depression in an imaginary world he created around him”. I like to run away whenever I see “Metroidvania”, because you can’t spell “Metroidvania” without “Metroid”, and you can’t spell “Metroid” without “Backtracking”. Oh, wait, yes you can — such as with this game not wasting my time with such nonsense. You get different type of powers, yes, but they’re not permanent, and you can usually find them right next to the rooms where they’re most useful, leading to many different creative ways in order to use the things. It’s one of those games that would be fascinating to see a TAS of because of how potentially broken you can make the two most interesting ones — the green one which moves blocks and the white one which makes them. The red one just destroys them, so it can blow off.
Much of the interest in the title comes in the challenge it provides. It’s not a run – and – gun type of game where you can run and gun, and you have to stay in one spot in order to shoot sustainable fire, making the gameplay revolved around positioning yourself near enemies without taking damage from them. It’s fortunate this game avoids much of the finicky frustrations of ranged attacks by making the enemies and projectiles big as can be, and also giving you a melee attack which hits pretty much anything, as melee attacks do. It’s really simple, and though on the hardest difficulty I got through this demo EZPZ, I found some small enjoyment getting through the levels in that old style of gaming, where it’s all action and with a minimum of flash and bang. Even the puzzle sections aren’t so bad, as quick as they are. I suppose the overall lesson to be learned from this title is to keep the action rolling, which is like saying “stop feeding” to your teammate, but it’s still good advice!
These games are so minimal that it’s hard to discuss them without turning into a games development blog — and nobody wants to run a game dev blog. Want me to talk about “intuitive design” and “player psychology” every damn article? No? Yeah, that’s right. I enjoy taking a break and talking about the story now and then. I am disappointed there really is none. The box art says says this game takes place inside the protag’s imagination, but there’s really no evidence to state that’s the case; the levels take place in an abandoned company that could exist in any old video game. The characters all seem normal, the enemies are pretty standard mutant and robotic lifeforms with no distinguishing dream – like characteristics, and all anyone talks about is how modern life sucks, and it sucks because of the way you are. It’s like attending the world’s most roundabout class on Stoicism, where the professor talks about her winter vacation for the first forty minutes and then spends the rest of the hour putting up bad YouTube videos and dead memes about nihilism. In short, you can give the story a skip.
This game is perfectly fine, just fine, with no real highs to speak of, no real hooks or events that I’ll be talking about in the rest of my reviews, and nothing that I’ll think about more than once in my entire life — if that. It’s clever in places and standard in others, it does its Metroidvania thing well, it doesn’t go crazy with mechanics, and is super easy to pick up and just play. There are no deep themes, and no story to interrupt the gameplay, and the gameplay is pretty pleasant so I suppose it doesn’t matter too much. It even does well with its restricted colour palette, which I’m assuming is the NES palette, but given how awfully murky it was, I won’t blame the developers to have developed a bootleg. But it is, on the whole, average: like an especially long browser game with an art style just as good.
The most interesting part of this game would be the very first room I travel to, where there is a tutorial platforming puzzle just like that from Cuphead’s tutorial, and I cleared it in three seconds. I then wondered how in the world that games journalist managed to go one minute and twenty – four seconds before surmounting the most rudimentary obstacle that any gamer can get past, and even a five – year – old who has barely played games in his life. Seriously, this shit is as ancient as Super Mario Bros. I don’t get it. Was the guy coming off a bender and had to play nice for a camera that was following him around at all hours? Was he on a bender while playing Cuphead? Was he deliberately trying to get fired so he could collect his severance cheque? I think this YouTube comment (by noted scholar “phaze wilson”) sums it all up:
“I bought the game after seeing this when it first came out to see if it was really as difficult as this guy was making it look. I played it and got past the tutorial and first level on the first try. To confirm the theory that he’s a dumbass; I even got my mom, who hasn’t played a video game since fucking Atari came out, to play it. She failed the dash jump on the tutorial twice, and then figured out what she had to do, and passed it on her 3rd try. Same with the parry part. She passed the first level after dying twice. Keep in mind my mother is 58 years old. It isn’t a matter of video game skill, it’s literally just basic cognitive skills and basic problem solving skills. I’m seriously questioning if he has some type of mental deficiency. He isn’t learning anything from his constant failures. This video should honestly be used in a study on intelligence.”
So the most fun I had with External Visions is when I thought of an entirely different game and someone else’s ignoble failures at it. Thanks. I suppose.