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mr shadow,emily is away

Budget Diaries: Mr Shadow, Emily is Away and more

Budget Diaries is a new series where Gearburn explores the vast digital landscape of the internet in search of unique and engaging games that won’t break the bank or greedily consume half your hard drive’s space. If you’re tired of paying half your wages on games, waiting for massive downloads or playing games that seem all too familiar, then you’ve come to the right place.

This week, Wiehahn takes a look at eccentric Mr Shadow, the quirky Shootout on Cash Island, and nostalgia-inducing Emily is Away

Feel like there is anything we’ve missed? Drop your suggestions in the comments and we’ll be sure to check them out!

Emily is Away and Emily is Away Too

Emily is Away is a casual narrative driven game that takes place over five years in the early 2000s on a chat client strikingly reminiscent of the late AOL instant messenger. You play as a self-named adolescent (put down your own name, trust me) chatting away with your internet buddy, the eponymous Emily a.k.a. ‘Emerly35’.

At its core, Emily is Away is a glorified branching text adventure with each choice having lasting consequences throughout the game. Will you go to that party everyone is attending? Emily will be there. Will you cancel that date with your latest fling so that Emily can visit the weekend? Do you even like Emily?

If you were born any time before the late 80s, this game will bombard you with nostalgia. From Windows XP to Snow Patrol and Avril Lavigne references, Emily is Away stays dedicated to its vision of youth at the turn of the new millennium.

If you fall into a younger demographic though, I think a lot of Emily is Away‘s potency could fly over your head. With that being said, Emily is Away evokes a lot of the experiences most of us have
probably had on modern instant messengers like WhatsApp: the vagueness and uncertainty surrounding simple lines on a screen, the constant revision and curation of every word you type… this digital hell has been around a lot longer than you might have thought.

Emily is Away Too is a direct sequel and takes exactly the same approach as its predecessor, but thoroughly expands the experience by, among other things, letting the game flow over into your
browser with links to ‘Youtoob’ videos and the like. While Emily still features prominently, you also now have a new chat buddy, ‘Punk4Eva’.

Developer: Kyle Seely
Size: Emily is Away (17MB), Emily is Away Too (100MB)
Platforms: PC (Windows, Mac, Linux)
Price: Emily is Away (Free with option to donate), Emily is Away Too (R 55)

Shootout on Cash Island

If Broforce and a 70s disco queen had a baby (don’t ask me how), Shootout on Cash Island would probably be the resulting offspring. This vividly colourful and quirky retro platformer might not be the pinnacle of innovation but it certainly accomplishes what it sets out to do: providing you with a simple but challenging, and thoroughly entertaining action platformer experience.

According to the title’s Steam description “Bobby from HOT GUNS has a job to locate and secure the legendary Money Tree, but as it always happens in this kind of nonsense stories — he’s not the only one looking for it”.

As Bobby, you will mostly be jumping around levels and avoiding enemies such as mad men with boxes on their heads, drunken dudes that keep chucking their empty bottles at you, and the occasional leaping Piranha. But fret not, Bobby is not alone in the fight! Throughout most levels you will have your trusty, uh… let’s call it a psychedelic flying rainbow cooler box, dropping you various weapons such as shotguns, bazookas, and machine guns. If you happen to run out of ammo, no worries, there’s a guy “flying” a missile around in the air, ready to drop you some lead once the time comes.

You will also have some more innovative gadgets at your disposal such as a helmet, used to bash open objects above you, and a super suit that allows you to jump higher and perform the ol’ Super Mario air stomp.

The game doesn’t waste any time with narrative with each level throwing you straight in the action, which I think works well with this predominantly fast-paced platformer. You will also be serenaded with some pretty funky tunes while on your greedy rampage.

But why go through all this trouble, you ask? Well, because Bobby has a customizable beach house that you can upgrade with your cash, gun racks and all.

Developer: Quantized Bit
Size: 100MB
Platforms: PC, Andriod, iOS
Price: R 24

Mr Shadow

Mr Shadow is one of the most fantastically strange titles I’ve played in quite a while. From the entrancing scores (the music in this game is truly amazing) to the wonderfully eerie narrative, this game had me totally enthralled.

In this dark and eccentric point-and-click adventure game you play as the invisible helping hand that guides and aids our nameless toddler protagonist on its journey to bring colour back to the world.

You see, this kid is haunted by Mr Shadow, an evil creature that has the ability to suck colour from the world and raise the shadows to do his bidding. The only way to defeat Mr Shadow and return the world to its old vivacious state is to find the light in an alternate dimensions, of which the gateway is coincidentally located in your room.

Like most point-and-click adventures, gameplay mainly consists of solving puzzles to progress further in the story. Mr Shadow though, boasts some of the most wonderfully weird, challenging, and admittedly illogical puzzles I’ve encountered in the genre.

What sets it apart from many other adventures games is the fact that quite a few of its puzzles requiring careful timing to solve. Now, I found this to be quite an interesting take on the genre but I also think it might rub some players the wrong way, so it’s an important fact to remember.

Beyond the gameplay though, Mr Shadow deals with some deep and relatable themes. It reminded me a lot of Studio Ghibli’s work, especially Hayao Miyazaki’s love for creating stories where the innocent overcome unimaginable odds.

The game is inspired by the imaginary fears children conjure in the darkness, that strange place where fear and imagination meet. As a child, we’ve all had our encounters with these made-up
monsters. Whether it was the monster in the closet or the ghosts living in the ceiling, these creatures were as real to us as the very beds we cowered on. Mr Shadow evokes and taps into these once overwhelming feelings while lessening the blow with a captivating layer of eccentricity and melancholic charm.

Developer: Bycomb
Size: 100MB
Platforms: PC
Price: R 55

Author Bio

Wiehahn Diederichs: Columnist
Capetonian freelance writer and photographer. Wiehahn is a lover of stories in all their forms, and has been an avid gamer since he took his first breath. If he is not working or gaming, he either pours his creative energy into his passion for music or plays foosball in some... More