Tag Archives: steam

Game Review: The Static Speaks My Name

Warning: The game I’m reviewing today is called “The Static Speaks My Name”. This game contains mature themes.
Mature Content: This game deals with the concept of suicide… it’s not too overly dark or graphic, but the theme is looming and present.
Kern’s Disclaimer: This is not just a typical little indie title, it has a narrative that needs to be handled with care and respect. Know that going into it. One more time for the people in the back. This game is NOT for young or impressionable gamers. If you have delicate sensibilities regarding the content warnings above, maybe just don’t read this review or play this game. I won’t be held responsible if it triggers the absolute crap out of you.

I enjoy indie content, particularly when it pushes the conventional narrative limitations of media in an interesting way. The game I’m reviewing today does strictly that. Before I begin my review though, I do hope you didn’t disregard my content warning above. If you did, scroll back up and read it first.

The thing that sets this game in a different category from other indie horror titles, is that this game is less “terrifying” and more along the lines of “tragically unsettling”. I wouldn’t call it a horror game per say, because I don’t find it scary in the traditional sense, nor unnerving in the general one. Rather, this game dives deep into the realm of psychological horror in ways I rarely ever see.

It’s not scary, it’s chilling. Thematically speaking, “The Static Speaks My Name” is a short title, but far from a sweet little package. The game is more of a “narrative experience” than a game itself. Actually, I’d hesitate to call it a game because there is a clearly a narrative to be found here, but there’s not a whole lot of “gameplay”. The price is right though. As of writing this blog it is completely free on steam, and the time investment to complete the game is minimal.

The fact that it will take most people about ten minutes to to complete it says enough on its own. Honestly, you can beat in it half that time if you really wanted to rush it. Now, while some people may find the length lacking, the content isn’t. What you’re given in that short time isn’t anything to scoff at.

When you begin the game, a brief prologue begins. Surrounded by a dark space, you’ll see something in the distance and you’ll have to walk closer to it. As you do, you’re given three things. A name, an age, and a cause of death. When you get close enough to what is basically that floating cloud in the middle of a dark expanse, you enter into the body of a man, and you live out is last moments alive.

The beeping alarm drags the man from slumber and he awakens to a home that’s just a little strange. Everything seems just a little out of place and just slightly out-of-sorts.

As a first-person game, you play as a man named Jacob Ernholtz. As a player, you soon put the pieces together to find out more about this man, and his final decision. To be clear though, the game isn’t all doom and gloom. It’s not all awfulness caked in pure and unbridled cynicism. If it was, I wouldn’t have enjoyed it.

Actually, “The Static Speaks My Name” does something else. It attempts to tell a story that has little to do with the event that ended this man’s life, and more to do with his final moments that preceded it. This game is not an analysis nor a deconstruction of the prevailing topic at hand. It’s not even about the physiological nor social conditions at play when ones goes about making such a choice.

Rather the game carries a heavy undertone with the concepts of obsession more than taking one’s own life. As though the pictures hanging upon the wall act as an all consuming focus that Jacob Ernholtz couldn’t possibly escape a fascination with. He isn’t a good man in the slightest, which only further makes it hard to relate with him on any level. I’d say that that fact alone is what makes it a horror title. It isn’t the inevitable end that makes the game so unnerving to me, it’s the character you play as, and just how disturbed he obviously is.

Just take a look at the image below as a hint to just how obsessed he is with that one painting and the painter behind it. I assume you could extrapolate all kinds of meanings from this if you really cared to, but as for me, I don’t care to try at all… really, just playing as the guy is enough for me to be unsettled about just what in the hell could have been going on in his brain.

As for gameplay, it’s just a game about slowly twisting mundane moments in this one man’s life. Cleaning the microwave, admiring his collection of paintings among the wall, or eating his pet shrimp. Simple details, really. However, it soon becomes clear that this is the point of the game, the simplicity beyond horrific spectacle, which the game cares very little for. it doesn’t glamorize it’s core themes, but rather, it seems to spit upon the idea that typical cliche’s about depression needs to be continued on in ways we would normally expect.

They’re tired, they’re dusty, they’re old and we don’t need them. The game seems to say this, to exemplify that notion in every act, The game doesn’t spell things out for you concisely, there is no neat or tidy conclusion, and you won’t be likely to find yourself re-playing the game more than once to pick to pieces every little detail.

Once is enough, and the slow spiral of madness seemingly induced by paintings upon the walls is truly macabre in notion, but not quite in a way that inspires empathy or compassion… especially after you notice just what else this man keeps in his house.

The fact of the matter is, what makes this game notable, is that it inspires a gambit of emotions. There’s dark humor mixed with tragedy and although it is sad, dark and pretty disturbing, I find that it is a fitting end to this short game.

Now, onto the “static” concept and the idea of seeing other “static deaths”. If you look at the reviews, or commentators on Steam you see that notion brought up often enough in their reviews section. Here’s the thing, I’m glad we only have one story. One glimpse, one looking-glass, and that’s all. I don’t want more than this, and I’m glad that we don’t get more than that.

The reason for this is because while I do think that perhaps more “statics” would have been interesting, I believe it would have made the game rather unpalatable in the long run. There’s only so much of this grittiness that anyone can take, and there comes a time when a compelling point to explore these concepts crosses a line too far.

If this game had been any longer, if it had explored too many more deaths or the disturbing minds behind them, it wouldn’t have just crossed the line for me. In fact, it would have trampled all over it and left a big steaming pile of dung in its wake. The solo developer, Jesse Barksdale, was wise not to take this narrative, or this game that far.

So, I guess the final question is, do I think you should play this game? All in all, if you can handle these sorts of themes, it might be worth your time to play it. Keyword being might. Once again, it’s short and it’s free. Those are low barriers to entry, so long as you can swallow down the core themes, which is the much larger, prevailing question. I can’t answer that, and to me that remains the ultimate conflict.

I think “The Static Speaks My Name” is an interesting narrative experience. However, I don’t think most people would “enjoy” playing as as such a disturbed man who eats his pet shrimp and has a nasty little propensity to obsess about a single painting. Honestly, give it a try if you want to take a dive down into that kind of character. If you have no interest in that, then this game is not for you… keep away from it.

This has been Kernook from The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you next time. Don’t forget to check out our other great content.

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Kern Plays: Dinner with an Owl

Hey everyone, it’s Kern here! Good games sometimes come in small packages, often times when you least expect it. That’s what happened to me when I played a game called Dinner with an Owl.

It was a game I streamed live on Twitch late at night, long after Kresh was asleep. It is also now up on YouTube.

To be honest, I wasn’t exactly sure what I was getting into with this thing, as the description only says this: Break the puzzling spell of your eccentric host! Dinner with an Owl: A short surreal point and click adventure.”

Kern Plays: Dinner with an Owl

Kern’s “let’s play” footage of Dinner with an Owl. This game was played in one sitting, as it is very short.

Part 1 of 1 (Watch on YouTube)

The game is exactly as it says it is, really. This game is short, and the puzzle itself is actually quite interesting. In retrospect, it was actually easy to solve, hiding in plain sight, but that’s what gave me such great difficulty.

The game is certainly “spoopy” instead of truly spooky or frightening in any way. Although it did catch me by surprise a few times, though not in a “jump scare” kind of way. It was more like a “Well, I wasn’t expecting that!” sort of way.

I’ll say this though, I doubt this is the sort of game anyone would want to play or watch more than once. If you’d like to experience the game yourself, go and do that instead of watching anyone play it, myself included.

Don’t worry about barriers to entry, there really isn’t any that I can think of. If you have a computer that’s even remotely functional, this game shouldn’t give you any issues. It’s free and you can get it over on Steam, so the price is right too.

More Information

If you like slightly grim point and click puzzle games, this one is worth a look. What we have here is strictly that. Dinner with an Owl is a point and click adventure game with surreal and grim undertones. The somewhat “Spoopy” part of the game lingers within the confines of the narrative.

Originally, this game was part of a game jam in 2017. On May 18, 2021, the enhanced “Dessert Edition” was released on steam. This is the version is the one that you see me playing in the video above.

Dinner with an Owl is compelling to say the least, because it isn’t overly complex, but it isn’t mindlessly simple. It stands in a strange in-between. The graphics aren’t god awful, and fit the over all design of the game well enough to get by without complaint. The soundtrack has its own original lyrical song as well, and that’s something noteworthy for an entirely free title like this one.

The voice acting isn’t half bad either. It is certainly good enough not to be earsplitting or absolutely awful. To be honest, I actually found some of the voices to be perfectly fitting, notably the owl himself.

If I had one gripe, it’s the repetitive nature of the game itself when it comes to dialogue options, though since this game was originally a game jam project made by BoringSuburbanDad you can hardly fault the project for being lacking in that single aspect. This likely wouldn’t be as annoying of an issue if I had figured out the puzzle far earlier than I did.

I wasn’t expecting it to be so straightforward, and that’s what gave me such great difficulty. All-in-all, this is a compelling little game, all things considered. For what it is, I found it enjoyable, and the price was right too.

This has been Kernook of “The Demented Ferrets”, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. Be sure to check out our other great content down below.

I’ll see you next time.

To Our Supporters: Thank You!

With your contributions, you make our efforts possible. Thank you for supporting our content. Patreon supporters receive access into our official Discord server, and a few other perks depending on the tier.

There is a $1 tier, perfect for blog readers, so don’t hesitate. Join today!

Patreon Supporters

At the time of this post there are 3 supporters of our content, currently all of them are in the “Demented Minion” tier.

($1) Little Ferrets: None
($3) Fandom Ferret: None
($5) Demented Minions: Francis Murphy, Josh Sayer, and Andrew Wheal.
($10) True Blue Ferret: None.
($25) Premium Ferret: None.
($50) Round Table Ferret: None.