Unless you've stumbled upon this website on a journey towards Jurassic Park spoilers, you know that E3 is right around the corner. As a good chunk of TechRaptor's staff battens down the hatches for the news to come, I'm here with one last dose of Coverage Club to tide you over before the madness. What better way to make the time go by than with some cuteness? With Chuchel and Fatal Twelve, we have two distinct brands of kawaii for gamers to fawn over. Whether you're into weird animal noises or anime eyes, you're covered for the last day before the big show. Let's get crackin'!
Coverage Club is the series where we shift our critical eye towards smaller games that deserve some attention. You can find more of them here.
Covered by Kyle Johnson
What if you could undo your death? If you had a chance to change the myriad of circumstances that led to your untimely end, would you take it? What if it meant sending one, if not several more people back to their own deaths?
aiueoKompany and Sekai Project ask these questions and a whole lot more in their visual novel, Fatal Twelve. The third VN coming from aiueo, it was preceded by the Japanese-only Progress, and the dual-language Sound of Drop. Considerably longer than their first two outings, Fatal Twelve packs an engaging mystery and sets up interesting conflicts and relationships, even if it takes a while to get going.
In Fatal Twelve, you play as high school student Rinka Shishimai. Branded an outcast due to her odd-colored hair, Rinka is a good-natured person, if a bit dense. One day, coming home from school, a bomb goes off in her train car, and she shields one of her friends from the explosion and resulting fire.
But then, she's given a second chance. Thrown into a life-and-death battle royale called the "Divine Selection," her death has been undone, but only as long as she can survive the game. By collecting information about her fellow competitors, she can "nominate" them for selection, thus sending them back to their doom, and saving herself. Rinka must learn their name, cause of death, and their regret about their life.
The early parts of Fatal Twelve do an excellent job of explaining the mechanics of Divine Selection again and again. Perhaps this was done in anticipation of how complex it was, but much of the early few hours are spent following Rinka as she attempts to maintain a normal life, while juxtaposing it with the other competitors, as they try to uncover information about one another.
There's a colorful cast of characters to pick through, too. Elementary school students, CEOs of multinational corporations, a mafia underling, and a few high school girls make up some of the participants. There are some light yuri undertones to the relationships between Rinka and her friends, but the focus remains on the mystery and investigation. Rinka is a naturally likable character, and her laid-back demeanor ensures she provides some contrast to Fatal Twelve's tense moments.
The comparisons to Danganronpa are not entirely unwarranted, though Fatal Twelve does have some key differences. Danganronpa is technically classified as an "adventure game," with different gameplay mechanics rearing their heads during investigation scenes. Fatal Twelve doesn't offer a whole lot of variation outside of reading text and selecting different options in the first four hours, but that may change as the novel progresses.
With some great character art and some intriguing setup, Fatal Twelve shows a lot of early promise. Not every take on the "battle royale" mode has to involve dropping onto an island and shooting your competition, and Fatal Twelve will hopefully keep up its air of mystery as it continues.
Fatal Twelve was covered on PC via Steam with a copy provided by the publisher.
Covered by Robert N. Adams
CHUCHEL is a game that looks very strange at its face. It only gets stranger once you actually get inside. In this game developed & published by Amanita Design, you play the role of a little black furball trying to eat a cherry. Actually getting to eat your precious cherry is hindered by an annoying little pink dog-like creature who decides to run off with it. Along the way, you'll encounter various fantastical creatures that look like they were dreamed up by someone who spent a little too long in the sun at Coachella.
This game mixes puzzle elements and active gameplay, switching it up every few levels throughout the 30 or so individual scenes that you can play through. The puzzle elements will eventually give you a hint if you get totally stuck. This is quite nice because the absurdist nature of the design occasionally made it a bit difficult for me to work out what was going on. The solutions made sense once you actually figured it out, but trying to piece things together from the beginning was a difficult task.
While a handful of the puzzles were genuinely interesting, the majority of them felt more like the worst of trial and error gameplay. This is exacerbated by the comedic tone of the game. Chuchel is a boisterous, loud, and animated character that is prone to fits of rage. Some of the scenes felt like a shadow of classic Looney Tunes cartoons, but for some reason, they just didn't tickle my funny bone at all. This turned something that ought to have been funny into an annoying waste of time that slowed me down from solving the next puzzle.
The more active bits of the game emulated some classic titles with its own little spin on things. A particular level has a snail that invites you to play the CHUCHEL version of PAC-MAN, Tetris, and Space Invaders. Mechanics like the slingshot similar to that of Angry Birds and Flappy Bird-style flying pop up throughout the game. There are also a few platforming levels, some fighting levels, and some shooting levels. There's a great variety of things to do in this game.
CHUCHEL's music and art were lovely. Characters were unique and lively in a style reminiscent of Tim Burton. Completing certain levels treated players to a wonderful little musical number where the level's various creatures and oddities would dance about and sing for you.
As for the main character, I found him (and his little pink rival Kekel) to be more than I could bear to listen to for a moment longer than necessary. I managed to finish the game from start to finish in under two hours. It was a surreal experience that I think some people will enjoy, but I certainly did not and I'm quite happy to leave this game behind.
I'd strongly advise that you watch a trailer for the game before you decide to pick it up. If anything you see brings a smile to your face, CHUCHEL will be worth the experience. If you find the way the characters act boring or annoying then you will likely not want to endure several hours of this game.
CHUCHEL was covered on PC via Steam with a copy provided by the developer.
What do you think of this week’s Coverage Club selections? Do you know of an overlooked game that deserves another chance? Let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to follow our Steam Curator to keep up to date with all our reviews.