Your Star Steam Pile Review
The Willpower to Help Kids Shoot Up
Remember that weird kid in junior high who was always drawing stick figure ninjas and weirdly snarling Totally-Not-Chuck-Norris-es with 12-pack abs and tiny hands? He moved to France and made a terrible game.
Your Star is an isometric-view, survival horror RPG; though I use the terms ‘survival horror’ and ‘RPG’ very loosely. You play as an unnamed boy who wakes up in an abandoned mansion and suffers from amnesia.Your only weapon is a teddy bear that acts as a flashlight and your willpower. Seriously, you “concentrate your willpower” to dissipate enemy ghosts.
The ghosts themselves aren’t all that threatening. They look like overblown, cartoon sperm and patiently wait their turn to attack you. There are two basic ghosts: little black sprites that don’t seem to do any damage, and human shaped shadows that high five you to death. There are also red ghosts that kill you in three hits. But it doesn’t matter what kind of enemy it is, they all take one or two hits to kill, when they bother to show up, stifling any sense of danger or anxiety.
There are a few puzzles in the game and the first of which is an insultingly simple slider puzzle that pops up when you try to escape the very first screen of the game. The second puzzle is an equally simple math problem to figure out how much morphine to give to a random kid. There are probably more, but I couldn’t make it past the first boss.
After enabling an underage opiate addict, you find yourself in what is, I assume, the foyer of this mansion, talking to the ghost of a priest who has stolen your memories. After an awkwardly translated cutscene, the battle begins. The first time I played this section, I got swarmed with red ghosts and died. The second through rage-quitting as the game bugged out and I got stuck unable to move on the stairs, so I was forced to wait a very, very long time for the shadows to kill me.
The game tells you before you enter the foyer that during boss battles, you cannot open the menu at all. That means no item use and no saving. Unfortunately, that also means that you can’t quit the section and go back to an earlier save if the game bugs out. This frustration is further compounded by the controls themselves.
As a gamer, you become used to certain control schemes and expect them to be commonplace. Most games use WASD to move and Q or E for action buttons. This game uses ARROWS to move and C for action, X to both open and close menus, and S and D to activate powers/use items. I naturally wanted my hand to rest at the WASD position, so when it came time to actually deal with enemies, I would either try to move and accidentally use a power or use an item instead of attack; all while Touchdown Jesus hides behind his wall of farts.
I was hopeful for this game because I always root for small developers. Your Star was developed and published by Natahem. Natahem is a French citizen who focuses on ink and charcoal art and has an interesting, surrealist style. It’s clear that this game is a passion project for an artist to have their work available to a wider audience; the art was hand-drawn on paper, then scanned into RPGMaker to be used as sprites, backgrounds and character models. I can appreciate the time and effort it took to do all of that, but it’s obvious Natahem should have spent a lot more time polishing the game before putting it up for sale.
“I can appreciate the time and effort it took to do all of that, but it’s obvious Natahem should have spent a lot more time polishing the game before putting it up for sale.”
The game breaks completely in the first boss battle, so you can’t get more than 5-10 minutes into it, depending on how much time you spend spamming the C key looking for anything interesting or useful. Also, the art for every speaking character, plus ‘Unnamed Boy’, looks like a rushed, first draft that hadn’t been inked or properly colored.
There are small nuggets of interest though. The saving mechanism is a nod to the Resident Evil franchise; you have a journal and a few ink pots. If you have no inkpots in your inventory, you can’t save, so you would have to be very judicious about your save points. There are also elements reminiscent of Amnesia: The Dark Descent in that the ghosts supposedly destroy your sanity the longer you fight them, and there are medicines for you to take in order to restore your mind.
It’s unclear if Natahem will have a price point for Your Star, or if it will be a free-to-play game, but in either case it is definitely a game to avoid.