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Game Info:

Impressions
Developed by Infinite Level Games
Published by Infinite Level Games
Released February 4, 2020
Available on Windows
Genre: Indie
ESRB Rating: None
Number of Players: Single player
Price: Free on Steam

Thank you Infinite Level Games for sending us this game to review!

Impressions is a politically-based indie game revolving around the topic of extraterrestrial life. It follows the news station Stream 47A as they comment on the various events concerning these aliens over the span of four days. At the beginning of each day, the event with the aliens is announced, and the user is greeted with an article about the event. They can click on an arrow in the bottom right corner to see a text chat with various users commenting on the event as well. There is also a button that says “Start Day” that the player clicks in order to start the stream officially.

Before the player ever starts any of that, though, they are given a quick but dramatic introduction to the topic of the plot, and are then allowed to choose the appearance and give a name to their character. As they are put on the stream, they are in the center position between their two coworkers, Patricia and Clark. Patricia serves to have an optimistic view on the aliens, while Clark expresses a position of fear and anxiety. As the streams continue, Patricia and Clark have many arguments, which do have a tendency to escalate, and the user has the opportunity to be the tiebreaker or just remain neutral. However, the sentiments they choose affect the overall atmosphere the aliens receive from the humans, allowing the user to replay the game many times and being able to receive a different ending.

Impressions
Highlights:

Strong Points: Well-developed story; fitting music; expressive characters; provides information for the player to use in the discussions; realistic trains of conversation; characters represent diverse viewpoints; real-time conversation where the player can answer; can choose character gender and appearance; ending changes based on perception of the user
Weak Points: Short (only about 25 minutes); 2D graphics sometimes lack proper perspective; cannot save
Moral Warnings: Blatant disrespect and insults thrown at other characters for their opinion, prejudice against said opinions (which don’t deviate from the topic of extraterrestrial visits)

The general user interface and controls are easy to handle and grasp, and any differences from normal controls are pointed out in-game. It is mentioned from the very beginning that saving is impossible, which makes sense because a single playthrough only takes about half an hour. However, this lack of length doesn’t allow as much to be explained in the overall plot. The graphics are simple as well, with a distinctive retro feel, and the music is very fitting for the atmosphere of the game’s world, and help to set the mood for each day. The characters, despite being simply rendered, are very expressive, and have the ability to show a wide variety of emotions.

The photos on some of the articles, on the other hand, are not as well drawn, with one of the most notable examples being the picture of a building, where the building is upright and the windows are slanting diagonally in such a way that it appears they are inching closer and closer to the edge of the building wall. These small graphical things that I’ve noticed, though, are only things that I’ve picked up because of my scrutinizing artist’s eye, and are not things that particularly hinder the storytelling.

The pacing of the conversations on the stream during the day is very close to real-time. The characters discuss the day’s events, and if the argument begins getting heated, interruptions and talking over each other are accurately rendered, not giving the user time to read what is inside each bubble. There are many opportunities to make choices, which are counted as responses to conversation, and the player only gets twenty seconds to answer when allowed to talk.

Impressions
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 80%
Gameplay - 14/20
Graphics - 6/10
Sound - 10/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 94%
Violence - 9/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8/10

As the characters of Patricia and Clark are developed, the story pits the two characters against each other in such a way that their arguments tend to get very disrespectful. There is clear prejudice toward the other’s opinion, and they generally tend to be closed-minded. Each character tends to try to sway the player character into ganging up on the other character in order to invalidate their viewpoint by a majority vote. However, amongst the heat and backstabbing betrayal, there isn’t cussing in any of these interactions. While the intent is clear in each sentence, the vocabulary stays civil and appropriate for all ages. There is a recap at the end of the game, allowing the player to review the decisions they made and see how it tied into the results they got in the end, which would be humanity’s opinion on extraterrestrial life.

Morally, the game is surprisingly well suited for all ages. While there is the constantly hammering banter between the various characters, the vocabulary stays civil, and none of the interactions escalate into violence. However, there are a few mentions of various world religions (none of which are practiced in reality, out of those named), and how they might take the presence of extraterrestrial life into account in their belief system, as well as a group of extremists who are mentioned resort to violence.

While I do wish Impressions was longer, so that I could get more details on the story, it is a very interesting game overall. It does have its shortcomings, as all games do, but they don’t noticeably harm the game in any way. It does a great job of using a slightly unconventional format to tell the story, and so I highly recommend this game to science fiction fans looking for a quick play.

- Kittycathead

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Kaitlyn

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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