The Stranger

The Stranger developed by SVBLM, released in April 2015 as their senior student project.  Explore a tropical island, picking up trinkets and uncovering the mystery of the island.It took me a moment to figure how to navigate the menu and dialogue since it would not react to mouse clicks. In hindsight, it was rather obvious but since I am used to navigating menu screens and dialogue with the most, it didn’t occur to me right away. So that’s my bad.

 

My biggest complaint so far with The Stranger is the inability to adjust the mouse sensitivity. It is ridiculously high, I spent the first part of the game, not even exiting the cave area till I adjusted to it. Although I still had moments of moving the mouse too quickly and having my in-game view basically go hypersonic speed, leading a few drownings due to failed jumps as a result.

*grumbles*

I did like the art direction that SVBLM went with for the game and the color scheme as well. I loved the character designs, especially the ghost. The ghost was adorable! The level design was well-thought out and implemented. The environmental design was beautiful and worked very well with the color scheme they had chosen.

 

The musical style was what I found most interesting since it switches between areas with only ambient sounds then a very unique sounding soundtrack in others. I enjoyed the music in some of the areas, in one area in particular. I might actually go find the track later on and download it, as they have made the soundtrack available for download.

Some of the stairs in the game are tricky to navigate up, but considering you have an incredibly amazing jump…it is a moot point. Although speaking of jumping, I managed to glitch my game a few times by spamming the jump button. Essentially I ended up getting stuck behind boulders or rocks that I could not escape from later, so I had to restart the game. Thankfully there is an autosave system so I did not lose much progress at all. The whole ‘drowning’ sequence can act a little odd if you happen to be looking up. This is usually fixed if you look down again and let it progress normally after that.

 

While I most likely did not find all the trinkets, I loved reading the descriptions. Always amusing, although the bowling pins had the same description which was disappointing.

I did enjoy the concept of using a grappling…hook? Hand? To reach hard-to-reach areas on the island. It reminded me of A Story About My Uncle cause of the grappling and aiming a specific sign/target to use it. Although figuring how to land on the zip-line in one of the areas was bit trickier, since my character had a tendency to veer off to the left when I was trying to go right.

Overall, I found The Stranger to be a short but fun platformer experience. I have to admit the ending confused me though. The autosave system was extremely well-designed since you barely lose any progress. The jumping can be easily spammed and leave players stuck behind rocks if they are not careful. Some of the stairs could be redesigned to make it easier to go up on, or just jump up the stairs. A way to explain how to use the zip-line would be nice since I thought I had missed a tool initially to allow me to hook onto the zip-lines. If you are looking for a short game with platforming elements, or a cutesy game with squirrels, bears, and ghosts then The Stranger has you covered.

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