This Strange Realm of Mine is an Action/Adventure title with RPG elements that is obviously inspired heavily by Minecraft and similarly pixelated titles — at least in terms of graphics. But unlike numerous titles that share the same basic “look,” This Strange Realm of Mine is all about sewer diving, cliff jumping, shoot-outs, and dungeon monsters. Released on July 19th, 2017, from Doomster Entertainment, this Indie title offers psychological horror paired with macabre poetry and twisted logic. But can This Strange Realm of Mine stack up against other franchises in this genre that have been there, done that, long before now?
One thing that sets This Strange Realm of Mine apart from titles like Minecraft is its storyline. It deals with deep, philosophical notions — death, life after death, eternity, the value of existence, and our own self-awareness. The ongoing dialog about these topics is integrated into a design that interrupts these heavy thoughts with exciting gameplay. Initially, I didn’t expect This Strange Realm of Mine to have me on the edge of my seat, but even my first foray into a level had me jumping as strange skeleton-spider hybrids lurked around corners. These enemies would jump out from behind obstacles, drop from the ceiling, and flank me; in This Strange Realm of Mine, you absolutely have to check your blind spots and remember your six. On top of that, enemies either respawn or roam — I was never certain if they were drawn by gunfire from a room I hadn’t checked yet, or if they slowly respawned behind me as I moved through the level. It is old school, Retro-inspired FPS combat and suspense, revised for a modern release.
There are aspects of This Strange Realm of Mine that bring a higher level of realism to gun fights, which I found refreshing. For example, you can’t constantly spam reload on your firearms, otherwise you lose the bullets that remain in an unfinished clip. Typically, in FPS titles, players can reload at any time with no penalty, so this was a nice change of pace. Also, upgrading to a semi-automatic weapon also meant that I had to deal with an unsteady shot because the barrel of my gun would rise and fall with the gunfire. Ammunition was fairly abundant, but I was glad that I had the fallback melee option of my torch. This was especially useful in darker, deeper tunnels, and This Strange Realm of Mine didn’t hesitate to punish me with reduced vision if I wanted to keep my gun out instead of a torch.
The soundtrack matched the overall atmosphere of This Strange Realm of Mine well, and the sound effects were passable. I love titles that include an original soundtrack, and this game is no exception. And given the simplistic, Minecraft-style graphics, everything ties together well. I really enjoyed the narrative writing and sentiments in the loading screens between levels; the conversation about life and death was a bold contrast from the Action-oriented levels. The environments are simplistic as far as obstacles and details, but that’s no surprise for anyone familiar with this style of level creation.
This Strange Realm of Mine is a fun, if fairly simplistic, Adventure/Action title, whose narrative attempts to tackle big, philosophical notions. The combat was challenging but didn’t trek into the realm of frustrating or exceedingly difficult; numerous levels had minor puzzles, which added another mix to the experience. The RPG aspect of interacting with other characters along the way added more variety to the interactions, and I appreciated having dialog choices. This Strange Realm of Mine is a Story-Rich journey that manages to balance both sides of the coin splendidly – the plot is interesting, without the overall experience neglecting attention to detail in terms of combat and atmosphere.
Still, This Strange Realm of Mine isn’t a revolutionary title. While the storyline is thought provoking and deep at times, the graphics, sounds, combat mechanics, and overall gameplay are all pretty routine and rudimentary. Many titles have been inspired by Minecraft over the years, and This Strange Realm of Mine is no exception; however, this title lacks the creation and building aspect of the Minecraft style of gameplay, though I did have gathering missions that occasionally required me to do tasks like chopping down trees and killing monsters for components. This is a title that could have felt an awful lot like a mod for Minecraft rather than its own, stand-alone experience, but, instead, it manages to stand on its own two feet. Considering that this video game was developed and designed by one ambitious developer, it’s even more impressive to see this much variety. The replay value isn’t terribly high, as with many Action titles. However, This Strange Realm of Mine still delivers on a fun, frequently fast-paced, intriguing experience, and it’s certainly worth picking up on sale.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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