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I've Got a Blank Slate Baby, And I'll Write Your Name

  • Frogge
  • 02/10/2019 02:39 AM

Blank Slate by Aesthetic Gamer
Length: ~10 minutes

Having played several of his games by now, I can safely say that it is extremely hard to critique the work of AestheticGamer. Whenever going into one of his games, it's best that you drop all expecations you have on what a game is supposed to be. I last reviewed a great "game" by him called Please Love My Computer Game, which defied every single expectation I had of it. Blank Slate was made many, many years before PLMCG, so it's probably far lower in quality, right? As far as I can tell, it was one of Aesthetic's first games (don't quote me on this) and one would think he didn't have a very good grasp of his style or the great scares I came to know PLMCG for, but you'd be dead wrong. Blank Slate, as short as it is, is an Aesthetic game. That in itself feels like a compliment at this point. Mofo's got such a unique and creepy style. I don't recommend his games if you're looking for your The Witch's Houses or Mad Fathers or Ibs or whatver, I recommend his games if you're a fan of much of cryptic, bizarre horror that push the boundaries of what rpg maker can really do.

Sadly, as short as Blank Slate is, it's got its fair share of flaws, and the biggest issue of all here is the gameplay. Judging from what I played of PLMCG as well, Aesthetic intentionally likes to throw in design choices that in every other game would be considered a big offense, but I think it boils down to the fact that the dude doesn't just want your playthrough to be like any other game, he wants to make your entire experience a puzzle. While I think there's potential in this idea, I feel that Blank Slate fails to have the same level of balance between clever yet challenging puzzles and just downright boring and frustrating ones.

Remember that shitty mirror maze section from Pocket Mirror? Take that and make it a hundred times worse, and you get this!

There's some decent puzzles present here, like the arrows that push you or the jumping puzzles, both ironically being the first two puzzles in the game, and you're actually only forced to do either one of two. I like this concept, it gives you some freedom of choice if you find one puzzle to be too difficult for you and lets you do the other, but sadly this is the only time a good design decision like this shows up. The following third puzzle is a horrible maze sequence that requires nothing but dumb luck to beat. There's like 12 branching paths and only one of them is actually safe while the rest all get you killed. There's a really long corridor section you have to get through just to reach the point where you died, and it becomes so annoying to have to walk through it time and time again just because I'm not a psychic who can magically tell which path to jump off to. The later puzzle is a bit easier and I managed to get through it on my first try. Thank god I did, because it actually has the exact same problem. You can't save before that puzzle, so if you die, you have to wait 30 seconds in that room segment to try again. And then there's a stupid memory puzzle that really isn't all that fun. Just have a notebook ready and this one will be no problem, but it still adds nothing to the game. It's kind of ironic how bad more than half of the puzzles here were, especially considering that Blank Slate, unlike the majority of rpg maker horror games, is actually a full on puzzle game. There's little to no going around rooms and finding keys here, and when there is, it's kept to an extremely minimal degree. It has adventure game elements, I guess, but I think calling it a puzzle game is the most fitting genre.

The other thing that brings the game is its visuals. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the effort that went into the custom assets, but some parts of the game really don't hold up in comparison to others. The beginning room has ridiculously oversized furniture, which I doubt was an elaborate choice, and some maps near the end are painfully large and bland. The game has its fair share of excellent looking, memorable sections, like that map with the giant bone fish, which I'd recognize anywhere, and I only saw it from this game's screenshots. A lot of the horror art's pretty well done and the monster designs can get really interesting. The sound design here in particular is top notch and really unnerving. The sound effects are creepy as hell and I actually jumped multiple times when the monster showed up.

Makes sense, the damn thing is three times your size. That's definetly got to be comfy.

Now those expecting a story are also likely to be disappointed, because barely any of that's present here. There's a sort of filler set up of a girl and the white zone and everything, but everything's either just left up to your interpretation and I'm too dumb to figure out or the story here is not meant to be taken literally, and I'm gonna lean towards the latter. This is completely fine in my book, I can appreciate a sort of fever dream-like game experience with absolutely no coherency in any of the writing now and again. There's one part where the dialogue can get a little cheesy, and that's when the main character is shouting "AAAH!" during the ending sequence while the default rpg maker shake effect is used, but that was the only time anything felt more silly than scary to me. Yeah, this game's actually really atmospheric for an rpg maker title, and probably not for the faint of heart. I've found that the common theme in Aesthetic's games seems to be that they're all way scarier than anything the likes of the anime games inspired by The Witch's House and Ib tend to be. While I still highly recommend PLMCG over this one if you're just looking to get scared, this is a decent experience that provides some extra scares if you just couldn't get enough.

Aesthetic has a lot of talent when it comes to his games (ahem and I'm sure he's gonna make something amazing for Haven Decay no doubt ahem), and you can really see it shine through in his recent works a lot. I believe he actually ended up using this game as one of the side games for a larger project again (as he tends to do with a lot of his games, creative recyling there bud!), so maybe just go play whatever that larger project is instead, I forgot which one in particular it was now, but if you want to play this as a standalone, I think there's enjoyment to be found. It's worth playing for Aesthetic's touch of the bizarre and great use of atmospheric scares, but just keep in mind that you may find yourself a bit frustrated too.

I give Blank Slate three oversized fridges out of five.

Which modern day rapper is this?