In the super-spoopy Halloween bundle that I bought from IndieGala, I received a game titled simply You Deserve. I knew nothing about it, save that it was horror-themed in some way, and that the thumbnail they used to advertise it caught my eye. Maybe this isn’t the best way to choose what to play, but the way I see it, most indie games will either only last two hours at most or I’ll get bored and quit before then. Not an especially big commitment.
Let us start at the very start: the title. You Deserve. It’s not a good title. But after playing the game, it makes a little more sense. Not from the context of the plot of the game, but rather from the context of I am 99% sure that English is not the developers’ first or maybe even second language.
Although reading that sentence back, it may sound like English isn’t my first language, either. It sounds better when you read it with the proper cadence, I swear.
Continuing that thought, the game was likely not developed in English, but it was translated fairly well. It’s got a few grammatical oopsies here and there, but that’s something one comes to expect after having played so many no-budget indie games. What really gives it away is the voice acting. In the odd instance that your player character speaks to herself out loud, it’s very slurred and heavily accented. So much so, that I’m confident that the actress does not actually speak English, but was just taught to read her script phonetically.
That’s small beans, though. Who really cares about whether you can understand the voice actress anyway? We all just want to know more about the gameplay! Because gameplay is king! Nothing else matters! This exaggeration isn’t funny!
You Deserve is what the kids would call a “walking simulator” but there is a little more to it than just gambolling from plot trigger to plot trigger. You will have to pick up items and find where they belong, solve some very simple puzzles, collect a wide variety of keys, and sometimes punch over a stack of boxes to continue forward. So, yeah, it’s pretty much a walking simulator, but with some adventure elements. It’s slightly more interactive than The Park was, for comparison.
What is annoying about these adventure elements is that the game is dark, and the items you need to collect don’t always stand out from the environment. They don’t flash or sparkle like items in other games. I spent 15 minutes looking for a crowbar once, because it was placed on a surface with a very similar texture and it was very difficult to pick out. Also, some items are in semi-randomized locations, so something might be found in one spot, and then magically show up elsewhere (albeit nearby) if you die and need to pick it up again. Super annoying.
Sometimes, a glitch will cause necessary items to simply not spawn at all.
That’s the kind of game this is.
The best puzzle in the game is one where you need to magically unlock a door by opening a set of lockers in the right order. It’s not terribly difficult, but it did seem like the kind of puzzle you’d find near the beginning of a Silent Hill game.
The absolute worst part of the game is the very end, where you’re dumped out into a massive area and have to collect three items. As I mentioned before, they don’t necessarily stand out enough, so they’re very easy to pass by, and also there’s an insta-kill monster on the loose and if you die you end up back at the start, having lost any items you collected. It’s a massive pain in the butt, and the point where I no longer had any patience for the game, so I quit and watched the rest on YouTube.
So if the gameplay is wanting, the story should be strong enough to push the player through to the end, right? Well… not especially. You begin in a strange park-like area, with an inexplicable catacomb beneath it. Or at least that’s what I took away from it. Your character has no idea where they are or why they’re there. Then you’re ambushed by a monster and wake up in the basement of your character’s high school. This is the point where you can start to suss out who you are and what’s going on, should you read the files scattered about. I wasn’t really interested enough to bother, and read any files I happened upon, but there were definitely a few that I missed. Then you wander through another park, a haunted house, and finally, an expanded version of the aforementioned park. All the while, very little story is happening.
To summarize said happenings: the plot is about a girl in some sort of nightmare realm created by the zombified remains of a former classmate. This classmate allegedly committed suicide because she was bullied by your character and her clique. So zombie girl leverages her lingering hatred to pull the offending kids into a nightmare and kill them off one by one. Your character is ostensibly the last of the crew to go. Then at the end you try to exorcise the zombo-girl, but in typical horror story fashion, the success is a short-lived fake-out. Did I use enough hyphenated words in that sentence?
I think the fact that I didn’t care enough to remember a single character’s name says enough about how invested I was in this tale.
Personally, I think that I spent too much time with this game. It’s only about an hour long, but I faffed about and got lost enough that I doubled that, and then some. I think that if you know all the passcodes and where the items and keys are located, you could probably clear the whole thing in under 20 minutes. Me, I had trouble with some events triggering and ended up running in circles for far too long before consulting a guide and resetting to correct the bug. And then the aforementioned issue with the key item that failed to spawn.
All in all, I found that my expectations of You Deserve were met, but that’s not saying much, because said expectations were about as low as they go. The title screen may have been the most impressive part of the game, which set a pretty poor precedent. Would I have enjoyed it more if I had a more powerful machine and it ran at full speed? Maybe. Would it be a better game if the bugs were ironed out? That’s debatable. Would streamlining the fetch quest at the end improve the game dramatically? Certainly. But none of those things are going to happen, so You Deserve will forever languish in mediocrity. To be 100% truthful, I would suggest that even if you get this game in a bundle, even if you’re given a free copy, that you just shuffle it over to the category of Steam games you’re never going to touch. It’s not worth your time or effort.