Hot Steam-ing dumpster dives: GASP-ing for air

By: Ashley Rivas

I might have found it: my nemesis.

How many times am I going to say that before I die?  A lot, I’m sure.  My most hated game ever made is still The Last Remnant, but games my classmates have “created” in school have made me think about putting drill bits into my ears.  And yet, here I stand.  Born anew, forged in the fires of GASP

I’m going to keep the title in caps every time I type it, because it feels appropriately fucking obnoxious, just like this game.  Remember the Tower?  You’re going to miss the Tower.  I wish I was still in the Tower.  Honestly, after playing GASP, the Tower deserves some slack.  It was frustrating as fuck, but it had an element of bafflement to it.  I was confused when I played it.  I wasn’t confused when I played GASP.  I was mad.  I’M STILL MAD.

Start game menu
How little I knew then.


Why did I pick it?

GASP was free, which was an interesting question I hadn’t really explored yet.  Can I still be pissed at a game if I didn’t pay money?  [[SPOILER ALERT: The answer is yes.]] 

As with the Tower, I found a key review that made me realize this game was going to be something special.  The review? “I’d have a better time shoving porcupines up my ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥.”

Ohhhhh, yeah……  That’s going to be a good time.



What did I TRY to pick first?

This is actually a special installment of Dumpster Diving because GASP was NOT my first choice.  I actually downloaded a different game, Verge: Lost Chapter, for $1.99. 

I was pretty spun up for Verge.  It looked like it’d be another delightful attempt at a horror game (because, for whatever reason, that seems to be the genre where the worst bad gems lie).  It downloaded, I loaded it, and the GameGuru engine attempted to install files.  But, for whatever reason, I got a runtime error 3005 because of missing sound files.  This happened multiple times. 

Cue: An.  Hour.  Of.  Troubleshooting.  One suggestion from the Internets?  Mess with the GameGuru base code.

No.  No.  I will not fix your code for you.  I PAID YOU FOR THIS, YOU HACK FRAUD PIECES OF SHIT.  FIX IT.

So congratulations, Verge, for being the first entry in our honorary “Hall of Incomplete”, where games who are so fundamentally broken that they can’t even function well enough to get a bad review reside.

ENJOY THE WORST HONOR I CAN BESTOW. 

I did get my refund back.  So thanks for that, Steam.  But if there’s anything this entire article can teach us, it’s that Steam has absolutely no barrier for entry.  Games can do whatever they want, charge you money, and get away with it unless you make a successful petition for a refund. 

And that’s infuriating. 

The Verge….has no grade point average.  All courses: incomplete.


Why is it BAD?

I’m going to level with you.  There isn’t a lot to talk about here.  Because this isn’t really a game.  We talked about games in the last article, but here’s something games generally have to have in order to be considered a game: player agency

Players have to be able to impact the world around them somehow, and that somehow is admittedly broad.  Doki Doki Literature Club is mostly a visual novel, but the player still has some agency over certain actions, and is implemented into the story.  Agency is what differentiates games from, say, movies-that-are-distributed-on-your-laptop. 

This game?  You walk.  It’s another.  FUCKING.  WALKING SIMULATORALSDASDLAKMWEKWMEA

Sorry, I think I had a stroke.

Meteor Alert!
If only this meteor had fallen for real, and had really landed on my head during this play session.


Demerit 1: The Non-Plot

There isn’t a plot to this.  I guess you crashed on the moon and you now have almost no oxygen, so you’ve got to crank up those legs and get to hustling across the moon.  What are you running to?  An “unknown signal”.  I don’t know.  There’s no other information. 

The narrator makes a big deal pointing out how you can only run to one of these things without running out of oxygen, but you can.  You so can.  I know because I almost did it, before the game decided to hate me event more.

Errors
Note the constant code errors in the bottom left.

What’s really cool is that you get to one of those unknown signals, it’s a box on the ground that looks kind of like a Fluke meter.  And you can’t interact with it, because why would you need to do that?  Why?  Why would you need to pick it up, or turn it off, or ANYTHING?!

I don’t know.  Maybe I’m asking too much, since the game was literally breaking every second that I was playing it.


Demerit 2: That Scary Perma-Death System

The game warns you before you start that you’ll die if you die.  It’s a novel concept, dying when you die.  But what’s more novel than perma-death?  I’ve got it!  Saying you have perma-death when nothing actually happens when you die!  THAT’S AN IDEA THAT’LL PUT BUTTS IN SEATS, I SAY!

Perma-Death
HOW INTIMIDATING!

I waited.  I waited for my tank to run out and get to 0%.  And nothing happened.  My oxygen tank was at “Death” percent.  And yet, I survived.  Trapped in purgatory.

There were also meteors falling the entire time that made the screen turn red when I touched them.  That’s all they did.  I didn’t have a health bar, they didn’t take away oxygen, and nothing else happened.  I must be a fucking adamantium machine who can just stroll under meteors and dust off those shoulders like it ain’t no thing.


Demerit 3: Invisible Walls

After reaching the first “unknown signal Fluke meter”, I decided to give it a go and try and go after another one, mostly just to middle finger the narrator who told me I couldn’t.  And when I got close enough to get into the 3 digit distance, I got stuck.  It couldn’t be a rock; I’d jumped over huge hills like they were marshmallows.  I explored left and right, and realized it was an invisible wall, probably a collider that they hadn’t removed. 

Boxed in
I’m boxed in.

Boxed in. On the moon.  I’m going to die here.


Demerit 4: Sound Death

I realized that the music I was hearing was getting eerily familiar.  So I grabbed my trusty timer and tracked the loop, which was easy since there was a clear little break at the end of the track.  It was 1 minute, 6 seconds long.  I heard that song for a solid 38 minutes, because it played during the entire menu too.  It’s in my head now.  They’re all in my head.  They’re part of me now.

Moon Valley
This was when I realized the loop was happening. Right when blood starting pouring from my ear.


Demerit Everything Else: NOTHING TO FUCKING DO 

Do you have any clear idea of what this game is?  Do you know?  I can’t paint anymore of a picture than this.  You walk around the moon, get hit by meteors that don’t matter, run to a marker, and find out that it’s broken.  The game is killing itself while it runs, it locks you out of half the map, and nothing happens when you do the thing the game told you to do. 

It’s hard to dodge the meteors, but that’s fine, because they don’t do damage.  So you spend the entire time running.  It got so bad that I decided to use my foot to hold the W key while I read a manga.

W key
Use all your digits for maximum efficiency.

Then, I turned into a shark.

Shark
Dun……….DUN!

Then, I asked my dog Jaina to play for me.  But she got bored.

Doggie PC
Going for a walk on the Moon was less interesting than staring at the ground.

And by the time all that nonsense was over, I still had to wait for 17% more to drain from my tank.  If that’s not a metaphor for the entire game, I don’t know what is. 


What’s good?

I don’t think there’s anything good to point out here.  They didn’t actually do anything. 

There was a voice actress who narrated the beginning, but she wasn’t good.  Maybe she did the constant breath sound effect too.  Which would’ve been great, if it changed according to the oxygen you had in your tank.  You know, like if the breathing got sharper, or fainter, or if anything happened that might indicate something was going on in the game?  Anything?

Anything at all?

Hello?

Can someone just end it?

Done!
Got pretty excited when I finally turned it off.


The devs

Here’s where this article disappoints in terms of the juicy delights from The Tower.  There really isn’t much dirt to dig up on these devs.  They’ve fallen off the radar on Twitter, where their last posts in May 2016 explained that one member of the team had left.  Their last update on Steam was January 2016.  Their Facebook mentions something getting Greenlit in 7 days, and I think this game was The Final Take; allegedly, it’s a found footage horror game, but I couldn’t find more info on it beyond seeing that the Alpha was open for a bit.


Final score: -2/5 (yes, negative). 

This was worse than the Tower.  This was worse than anything I’ve played before.  There is nothingness in this game, true nothingness swalloging Artax and threatening to kill Atreyu.  This is death. 

There was no effort put into this game. 

Sound effects are effortless to code.  Walking is simple to code.  It’s easy to make things show up on a screen, and it’s even easier to do all of that and ignore the fucking bugs that scroll down the player’s screen.  It’s especially easy to make sure that all of those things happen in the absence of any other action.  There aren’t pesky enemies to have to make; there isn’t a health system to manage.  The voice actor didn’t have to do more than one take.  And you know what?  Thank GOD the game was easy to make. 

Done!
Games should make you feel Dead%

Because who makes games that are hard?  Who spends 10 years struggling to develop a game, and another year after release to make sure it’s good?  Who creates a true love letter to a previous franchise and makes it their own, all on their own?  Why make a game, when you can just make nothing and still charge money for it?

These things are the death of Steam.  There is no quality control.  There is no process that makes sure people aren’t actually getting lied to.  Games like this get to stay because one person might have found it funny in an ironic way, or because the developer is a developer.  But are you a developer if you make something like this?  Can you consider yourself someone who made a game?  You shouldn’t.  This isn’t a game.  This is theft, even if it’s free.  It’s misleading and it kills any kind of trust players have towards random indie devs. 

And before I get shit for hating on a free game, they do have paid DLC available for the wonderful Mars experience.  I did not buy it, because I don’t fucking care to spend money on further nonsense.


What’s next?

You’re not going to believe this, but these guys had a Kickstarter that apparently succeeded after failing the first few times.  Their Kickstarter game, One Final Breath, is a bunch of gibberish that seems more focused on marketing t-shirts and including shoutouts to YouTubers who played the demo, but the game…it exists.  It’s on Steam for a delightful pricetag of $3.99.  It’ll be the most expensive game we’ve played to date, and judging from their amount of quality control, it’s going to be…absolutely amazing.

About The Author

I'm a big ol' nerd, and I want to effuse that nerdiness for the rest of my life. I spend as much time as I can drawing and playing video games, and I've taken that to the career level now since I'm back in school to be a game designer. I'm the mom to three puppies and a fat kitty, and the wife to a fellow nerd.

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