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All by myself... playing Isolation!

Welcome to Isolation. Or in Isolation!
Your choice, the important thing is that you hear this: Isolation is a short sci-fi psychological horror RPG Maker VX Ace game made for the 2016 Halloween event by PianoTm in just three days. So yes, this was an old game made for a jam, and also a sci-fi horror? Wow unexpected... I mean the "sci-fi" part of course, the horror one was rather obvious!

Isolation is, unsurprisingly, the story of a lone character, Gia Leung, the first woman on Mars and the first human on Mars after her colleague Dr. Piotr Gransky died killed by an explosion. So Gia has to wait six weeks to be rescure by NASA, but luckily she is not really alone since there's MISY, an artificial intelligence (or AI for short) created by NASA in 2021.
The game is pretty simple and can be defined a sort of walking simulator in which you have to interact with some items and the whole setting consists of just two maps and a view of the outside martian landscape. That's all. It's also a very linear game, and I do not think there are different ending, since you have limited control on Gia's possible actions.


Oh no... the martians are here!

Anyway I liked the fact that all the assets seems to be custom made, from the protagonist's portrait that has several versions due to the different situations, to the map that also changes while the weeks pass: the whole environment degrades, some items are change locations and some others appears! What's going on? The story is pretty short, I finished it in ten minutes exactly, but that's ok due to the lack of locations and characters I didn't expect to drag for a long time. It's also well written, as it reminds to me of a book I read once, but I won't say the title or it would be spoiler time, of course!
So mapping is simple but good and I like that Gia can sprint since her walking speed is pretty slow. Music is used sparingly, there is a menu/introduction theme that's tense and appropriate to the situation, a music box that's heard twice during the story, and finally the ending credits uses Bowie’s Life on Mars. There are also few sounds, like an explosion and Gia's scream, I expected some beeping, still the eerie silence contribuites a lot to the atmosphere (maybe the sound of steps would be add even more to it, anyway just an idea).

The game has some minor bugs, like for example a cut text when examining the air-recycling cylinders, and some small mapping errors (like walking on the windows in a particular week). Also the word guessing game that you will play at a certain point do not seems to work as planned, anyway here the is nothing game breaking, annoying or problematic.

Final Verdict
Isolation is a very short but complete ten minutes experience with a mini scenario. Despite some flaws I found it to be well constructed and contrived, it would have a bit better with some more details and less bugs, on the other hans I'm aware of the really short time in which it was made, considering also the presence of custom made assets that clearly took quite a bit of this time.
Considering everything this is an ok game, with some good ideas and aspect and others that aren't really successful. Still not bad for a ten minutes story!

Posts

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pianotm
The TM is for Totally Magical.
28539
Thank you so much for the review.

So, this was for a thirty-day jam and I had just gotten out of the hospital for severe skin infections in the legs. The doctor had said there was no medical difference between these wounds caused by infection and third-degree burns aside from the cause. Morphine had not been able to manage the pain so while I was in hospital, I had been put on Dilaudid (which is morphine, but with a little something extra). Dilaudid was illegal to prescribe outside of the hospital, so they put me on Percocet, which is Tylenol (the bottles even had Tylenol on the label), but with opioids. Anyway, for this jam, I was following the instructions for that Percocet, which was specifically written with the fear that I might become addicted (I didn't), with the added instruction to take another only if I couldn't get the pain under control (for that whole month, I couldn't). I just sent a message into the jam that I was in so much pain on that particular day that I couldn't even work. I just couldn't concentrate. But I went the whole month not being able to work on it. I had drawn the graphics and made the sprites on the first day and was ready to go, and then, the pain management hit like a ton of bricks. On, like, the last two days of the jam, the pain had finally subsided and I was able to focus on what I was doing, and I overworked both days.

Sometimes, I kind of just want to forget this game existed but I'm proud that I got something playable out and that it was actually a somewhat decent story. And you should be surprised it's horror because I generally don't like horror.
author=pianotm
Thank you so much for the review.

So, this was for a thirty-day jam and I had just gotten out of the possible for severe skin infections in the legs. The doctor had said there was no medical difference between these wounds caused by infection and third-degree burns aside from the cause. Morphine had not been able to manage the pain so while I was in hospital, I had been put on Dilaudid (which is morphine, but with a little something extra). Dilaudid was illegal to prescribe outside of the hospital, so they put me on Percocet, which is Tylenol (the bottles even had Tylenol on the label), but with opioids. Anyway, for this jam, I was following the instructions for that Percocet, which was specifically written with the fear that I might become addicted (I didn't), with the added instruction to take another only if I couldn't get the pain under control (for that whole month, I couldn't). I just sent a message into the jam that I was in so much pain on that particular day that I couldn't even work. I just couldn't concentrate. But I went the whole month not being able to work on it. I had drawn the graphics and made the sprites on the first day and was ready to go, and then, the pain management hit like a ton of bricks. On, like, the last two days of the jam, the pain had finally subsided and I was able to focus on what I was doing, and I overworked both days.


Ow. Impressive how did you manage to finish this despite it all? Just making the graphics all alone is really worth of note, really. The most important aspect for me was how the environment changes week after week, and this is something I did not expect (also it's rarely done in most other game I played). At all.

author=pianotm
Sometimes, I kind of just want to forget this game existed but I'm proud that I got something playable out and that it was actually a somewhat decent story. And you should be surprised it's horror because I generally don't like horror.


Uhm I understand, well I saw the other review that made me curious, and I was also looking for a short game to play. Nice that the ending was more or like that book I read (even if the story was sooo long before that revelation and I think it was more fitting a short tale, like this one). Well it's more a sort of psychological horror, but despite not liking it, it turned out pretty good I guess!
pianotm
The TM is for Totally Magical.
28539
TheRpgmakerAddict
Uhm I understand, well I saw the other review that made me curious, and I was also looking for a short game to play. Nice that the ending was more or like that book I read (even if the story was sooo long before that revelation and I think it was more fitting a short tale, like this one). Well it's more a sort of psychological horror, but despite not liking it, it turned out pretty good I guess!


No, I like it (just because I don't generally like horror doesn't mean I don't like all horror) and I like the story. This game specifically would have been very different if I had been able to work on it, and it ended up being nowhere near what I wanted it to be. That's why I want to forget it, sometimes. But I do like the game. It's just the reminders of a really bad time that make me want to forget it.
author=pianotm
No, I like it (just because I don't generally like horror doesn't mean I don't like all horror) and I like the story. This game specifically would have been very different if I had been able to work on it, and it ended up being nowhere near what I wanted it to be. That's why I want to forget it, sometimes. But I do like the game. It's just the reminders of a really bad time that make me want to forget it.


Oh yes, I understand. Story had a potential for sure, I wonder what it was the original intent, anyway that's still good that you were able to complete the game in such a short time and difficult situation! Still better and more interesting than other games I played (and some not even made in a short time)
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