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Free League Publishing's Twilight 2000 RPG banner art by Niklas Brandt
Free League Publishing’s Twilight 2000 RPG banner art by Niklas Brandt

So to bring a close to the saga of my review and ongoing campaign log for Free League Publishing’s Twilight 2000 RPG, we met for our second session in late April.  Here’s what happened since you tuned in the last time.

The continuing story as told by Kyle Van Schoen (Ice)…

It didn’t take long to wear out our welcome, and it seems the villagers got tired of feeding our asses.  So they put us to work to earn our keep.  Doc (Trish) went to help the local medic.  Wheelz (Nadya) managed to get Maestro (Roger) to stay and watch our stuff while she worked on the car like she’d promised.  Brick (Jack), Scope (Aleksy), and I were dragged off by Copper D to some nowhere on the outskirts of town to help clear land to farm.  There, we found a family in wait and, after much gesturing, we began hauling rocks and rubble out of the way.

It didn’t take too long before I noticed that Brick and I had an audience; the farmer’s daughter, a sheepish young woman, was watching us intently.  Brick either didn’t notice or didn’t care, too intent on what he was smoking and muttering something about this not being his job.  So I did what anyone in my position would do, I gave her a nod and a wink and picked up a second rock, ‘cause you just gotta make it look effortless despite doing twice the work and then you can reel ‘em in.  Before too long I had her undivided attention, until I walked into the disapproving gaze of her father, who shouted something at me and Brick in Polish and gesticulated something about just doing the job.  He sent the womenfolk away, and so there was no more need to get flashy anyway.  It evened out as Brick picked up the pace, and we worked through the rest of the day uneventfully.

Farmer's Daughter as drawn by Jennifer Weigel, flavor text for the setting to start session 2 of our Twilight 2000 RPG campaign
Farmer’s Daughter as drawn by Jennifer Weigel

When we got back, we learned that the car Wheelz was working on was worse for wear than we thought and she had to raid the other spare part we’d salvaged to get it going.  Oh well, at least we still got the still out of the deal.  After dinner, town leader Hirek strongly suggested we get on our way.  Maestro was eager to reconnect with US troops before we got too isolated so we decided to hit the road then and there and take advantage of the cover of night.  We’d learned something about a bunch of religious fanatics called the Shepherd’s Flock and didn’t want to stick around another week until Easter to see what that was about.  Best not to let moss grow under our feet anyway…

I was sleeping in the truck when Wheelz and Maestro took us off road, so I had no idea where we were when we set up camp.   Something about a roadblock.  No bother, I have no idea where we are anyway – just that it’s sure as Hell not L.A.  I was keeping watch while Scope set up camp and Wheelz and Doc slept.  Brick was drumming up some shit for the still when he cried wolf, but apparently he just wanted someone to sing his praises after he cut its heart out because by the time we took note it was stone cold dead.  Whatever.  Brick dragged its carcass back to camp and unceremoniously dropped it at our feet for breakfast, like we were supposed to get our bitch asses in the kitchen and cook him up his grub.  Scope complied and set to skinning, butchering and cooking the mongrel after he finished setting up camp.

Wolf as drawn by Jennifer Weigel, a 2nd session camping mishap in Twilight 2000 RPG
Wolf, drawn by Jennifer Weigel

We were just laying low for a bit when later on in the day, Maestro hailed a small hunting party – perhaps he wanted to talk trash about the Ruskies or something and I guess they seemed harmless enough.  No one had anything to barter, but they stayed to cook some meat over our fire and gossip-gab for a bit so it wasn’t all bad.  No sign of our troops, and the sheeple-cultists are apparently all over.   Time to pack up camp and go.  We drove through the rest of Palm Sunday uneventfully, but the tide turned as we dawned on Monday morning.

Maestro was driving so Wheelz could sleep, and barely along the road, the truck sputtered and gasped one last heaving cough before it passed out in the path.  Scope spotted some Ruskie off atop a hill and we poured out of the truck at the ready right before the first blast hit.  It was like a star fell from the sky and landed right beside us.  I know it was a howitzer blast, but still – it was far bigger than any scrap Moondog and us had ever gotten into back home.  So here I was, skirting death and taking cover in the trees as we scattered.  Maestro and Scope headed out of sight towards the far side of the blast radius after Scope took a pot shot at the dude he’d first seen on the far hill.  Brick joined me diving behind a big rock.  Wheelz refused to leave the truck despite the continuous blasting while Doc erupted out of there as if she were on fire and took off for the nearest trees.

Truck Hit as drawn by Jennifer Weigel, from our first encounter with a Soviet patrol in Twilight 2000 RPG
Truck Hit, drawn by Jennifer Weigel

It was pandelerium…  We could’ve been killed or even worse.  The trees erupted in gunfire at anyone caught with their pants at their ankles out in the open and the howitzer kept blasting away at the truck from God only knows where.  The trees murmured in Russian, I caught something about radioing in directions amidst swearing that would have made my grandmother pale.  In the midst of the fray, I pushed my SAW too far to try to shoot at some movement in the trees when it seized up.  Brick was shot and was down and out.  I don’t remember much after that except someone nearly shot my fool head off and I was taken back to California, but not in a good way, more of a West Side Story vibe.  Yeah I switched to the carbine and got a few shots off, but nothing really solid.

Wheelz was obviously pissed about the truck and was taking on the world redneck style, crouched behind a rock with a shotgun.  She just needed a good jug of moonshine and she’d have been set.  She did manage to take out someone in the trees though, and ran off to follow up on the guys who’d been shooting at Brick and me.  I have no idea what Doc, Scope and Maestro were up to – they were off in another part of Hell from all that I could tell.  Hopefully things were going better over there but I doubt it.  When the sky opened up and the last howitzer-flung star finally took out the truck, I thought Wheelz was going to come unhinged.  Things grew quiet and we emerged from the wreckage to assess the damage.

Truck No More as drawn by Jennifer Weigel, aftermath of our first encounter with a Soviet patrol in Twilight 2000 RPG
Truck No More, drawn by Jennifer Weigel

The truck was no more.  The stuff we’d stashed in the truck was no more.  Everyone was pissy.  Wheelz stole off to get some sleep.  Brick was spread flat on his back unable to move.  He seemed better with Doc’s expert assistance once she regained her composure from seeing him downed.  She flat out refused to leave him for all that he probably would have wanted it that way or done the same for any of us.  I took off to see what the Ruskies had on them since no one else seemed to want to get on it.  They’re cold dead, or most of them anyway, like seriously it’s time to take their stuff.  #thuglifeforever…  Anyway, there wasn’t much worth taking except some food and water, though I did take Wheelz a clean-ish blanket.

After all that, Scope worked on getting a stretcher together to haul Brick’s ass outta there while Doc slept.  Maestro kept watch for all that he seemed to be dozing on and off.  Wheelz mourned the death of her truck, digging around its burnt metal carcass to haul out a couple of souvenirs.  I got my SAW unjammed and tied up the last of the Ruskies, an efreitor or some kind of corporal, with a torn-up fallen comrade’s blood-soaked blanket. I asked him a bit about their group and the howitzer.  He was more or less cooperative and said that he and his comrades were everywhere and the howitzer was in the far woods north of where we had passed through.  I took most of his stuff but tossed him his blanket and 1 days’ food and water, and told him to get outta my sight, cause it’s not worth having some fool’s revenge wrath on your head later and he was just doing his job like the rest of us.  He thanked me and obliged.

Nadya Mad as drawn by Jennifer Weigel, in our Twilight 2000 RPG campaign
Nadya Mad, drawn by Jennifer Weigel

Wheelz packed up a bunch of stuff, I’m not really sure what all, shouted a string of what could only be profanities in Polish at Maestro pointing to where the truck had been, and stormed off alone.  We watched her go in silence before we began rummaging through all the crap I’d looted to pick out a couple of things and hit the road ourselves.  It was a quiet trek to the west for the rest of the afternoon with Scope and I hauling Brick’s ass on the stretcher and Maestro limping along with Doc.  The evening greeted us with a scream in the near distance and smoke rising through a gap in the trees.  Must be Americans; no one else around these parts typically screams in English, and Doc and Maestro were biting at the bit to check it out.

Turns out a pretty solid group of US soldiers had been ambushed by bandits and had fallen to some sort of roadside bomb.  Most of them were dead already but three were still moving, and Doc grabbed Scope and rushed in to assist.  Doc insisted on staying so I nabbed the blanket and snuck off to catch some shuteye after the long day.  I wasn’t in the mood to help a bunch of nobodys; I was cold and tired and it was late.  Maestro muttered something about it was gonna be alright, he was getting the fire going, but I was done and just clutched the blanket closer and shut out what remained of the Hellscape we were thrust into.

Kyle & Blanket as drawn by Jennifer Weigel, in our Twilight 2000 RPG campaign
Kyle & Blanket, drawn by Jennifer Weigel

I woke to more gunfire.  Seems another Russian patrol had caught us with our pants down at our ankles.  Again.  Scope had been off in La La Land looking for his gun instead of keeping watch and they’d closed in on him.  The leader sent up a flare; it was only a matter of time until more Hell rained down on us in some form or another and we couldn’t afford to stick around to find out what.

But we couldn’t get away fast enough.  I tried to SAW a couple of guys in the woods at the back and pushed it too far, my gun locked up with a resounding thud as if something had snapped inside of it.  Scope took out a couple of dudes with some amazing slick shots to the arms but the rest of them were on us like shit on a shingle before we knew it.  Bayonet kept knocking me down and trying to stab me after he’d downed Doc. And the others chased down Scope and Maestro like the dogs we all were.  We were captured and hauled off to some God-forsaken corner of The Universe, wherever-the-Hell we are now.


Jennifer Weigel is a multi-disciplinary mixed media conceptual artist residing in Kansas USA. Weigel utilizes a wide range of media to convey her ideas, including assemblage, drawing, fibers, installation, jewelry, painting, performance, photography, sculpture, video and writing. You can find more of her work at:


Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones (2019), a Game Review

Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones (2019) is a tactical role-playing video game developed by Cultic Games, evoking Lovecraftian horror.



Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones (2019) is a tactical role-playing video game developed by Cultic Games, evoking Lovecraftian and cosmic horror. Published by Fulqrum Publishing, this game is available through Linux, macOS, and Windows. This review will cover the $19.99 Steam release.

The Great Old Ones have awakened, exiling Arkham after the events of Black Day. Design your character and face the abominations of Arkham. Explore the 1920s through a Lovecraftian aesthetic as you unravel the secrets that plague Arkham, facing unknowable cosmic horror and malicious abominations.

The eye icon with tentacles reads Stygian: Reign of the Old Gods. To the left hand side is a woman in a 1920s dress. To the right is a blue abomination.
Stygian Promotional Art

What I Like Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones

The depth of character creation starts the game off on the right foot. While appearance has various options, the game provides greater variety in motives, age, and origins, adding different gameplay elements. For example, age reflects lived experience and physical competency. The younger your character, the less experienced but more physically capable. This dynamic requires trial and error to find the best choice for you.

The paper cutout art provides a unique interpretation of a familiar (but stylish) Lovecraftian aesthetic. While not the most haunting execution of the Lovecraftian, it still manages to unsettle and unnerve while maintaining visual interest. That said, if the style doesn’t suit the player’s taste, Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones might leave that player wanting.

While I find the story engaging and the mysteries worth exploring, there’s a massive caveat to that claim. Regardless, if you fancy the Lovecraftian, few care as deeply and express as much knowledge of the genre as Cultic Games in this installment. This love and knowledge shines through in the often subtle allusions and references to the expanded universe. It may earn its place as the most Lovecraftian game out there.


The characters vary in interest and likability, but there’s usually something about them to add to the overall mystery. Naturally, this remains most evident in the companions that accompany the player on their journey.

In terms of horror, Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones achieves notable success. Despite the subjective points of aesthetics, the game brings out the most unsettling and uncomfortable elements of Lovecraftian and cosmic horror.

White background, rubber stamp with disclaimer pressed against the white background.
Disclaimer Kimberley Web Design

Tropes, Triggers, and Considerations

With an understanding of the Lovecraftian comes the question of how to deal with racism. Most properties try to remove this context, but Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones recognizes the text and era (the 1920s) with caricatures such as a lunatic in blackface. I won’t say it fully explores these toxic elements, but it’s not painted in a positive light.

Insanity and mental illness play a large role in the mechanics of the game, such as becoming a key component of casting spells. Loosely related, drug addiction and usage are mechanics with varying degrees of necessity depending on your build.

If these are deal breakers, perhaps give Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones a skip.

Several listed classes on the left hand side. At the center of the screen shows the Explorer class with their dog.
Stygian Character Selection

What I Dislike about Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones

In terms of story, this game is unfinished, leaving many plots, quests, and arcs with unsatisfying cliffhangers. My understanding is that Cultic Games planned to finish the game, but money ran out, and the focus shifted to an upcoming prequel. I imagine the goal is to use this new game to support a continuation. But that doesn’t change the unfinished state of Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones. The beginning and middle remain filled with content, but the final act (loosely stated) falls monstrously short.

While this unfinished state mostly affects content, I did run into game-breaking bugs. From my understanding, these bugs completely hinder progress. Most are avoidable, but some are unlucky draws.


It’s these points that make this a challenge to recommend, requiring the potential player’s careful consideration.

Final Thoughts

Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones accomplishes what many games fail, bringing to life the Lovecraftian. Unfortunately, this game falls short at the end and leaves game-breaking bugs as potential deterrents for full enjoyment. If what you read above entices you, it may be worth the investment. However, it’s unfair to recommend this game within its compromised state.
2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5)

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Ashen (2018), a Game Review

Ashen (2018) is a souls-like action RPG developed by A44 and published by Annapurna Interactive available across all platforms.



Ashen (2018) is a souls-like action RPG game developed by A44 and published by Annapurna Interactive. This game provides a single-player and multiplayer experience with passive multiplayer mechanics. For this review, I am discussing the 39.99 Steam release, but it’s also available in the Epic Game Store, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and PlayStation.

In this bitter world, your character seeks to make a home for yourself and others. This goal requires you to fight for every inch of land, building connections and alliances to maintain a thriving village. Venture further to make the world a more hospitable place, but know the further you travel, the greater the threats.

The beginnings of a small village. A man waits by a pillar, facing the player.
Ashen Vagrant’s Rest

What I Like about Ashen

In 2017, Ashen earned a nomination for the Game Critics Awards’ “Best Independent Game.” It would later earn several more nominations in 2019. At the National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers Awards, it received nominations for “Game, Original Role Playing” and “Original Light Mix Score, New IP.” It was nominated for “Most Promising New Intellectual Property” at the SXSW Gaming Awards. Finally, at the Golden Joystick Awards, it earned a nomination for “Xbox Game of the Year.”

The multiplayer experience remains essential for Ashen, focusing on you and a partner venturing together to explore an open-world environment. However, the single-player experience is my focus and the game accounts for this gameplay. Ashen often pairs you with a villager who helps with the challenges.

The art style remains a plus throughout the gameplay. Though muted in colors and lacking finer details, the style creates a unique world that allows players to get lost along their journey. If the aesthetic doesn’t evoke that curiosity, then Ashen becomes hard to recommend.


Vagrant’s Rest and the inhabitants remain a strong incentive to continue on your journey. Seeing the progression of the town and building connections with the people provide the most rewarding experience.

In terms of horror, the art style often evokes an eerie atmosphere. However, I won’t go so far as to say the game is haunting. Instead, it evokes emotions that can unsettle and unnerve the gamer.

White background, rubber stamp with disclaimer pressed against the white background.
Disclaimer Kimberley Web Design

Thoughts and Considerations

The souls-like influence remains straightforward. Progression requires the player to defeat enemies and collect currency for weapons or certain item upgrades. Ashen simplifies and focuses its gameplay, reducing variety to polish its choices. The gameplay remains fluid, with a few hiccups that might be a computer issue.

If you prefer magic or defined classes, the gameplay doesn’t enable this variety. Item upgrades and choices define your playstyle, allowing most items to be playable at any stage of gameplay.

Weapons make a greater difference in playstyle. Most of these differences are self-evident (i.e. blunt weapons are slower but stun), but upgrades make any weapon viable. You pick an aesthetic and function, sticking with it until something better catches your eye.

A character helps another limp away, using a spear to help walk. Above reads Ashen.
Ashen Promotional Art

What I Dislike about Ashen

As mentioned, the game had some technical issues. I often assume this to be my computer, but I did note a few others mentioning similar issues. The gameplay remains fluid, so take this comment as a small point of consideration.

With limited roleplay options, liking the characters or art style remains essential for your time and money investment. As mentioned, the game doesn’t hold the variety of FromSoftware, which means their selling point comes from that unique art style and world. 


Passive multiplayer is a major part of the marketing for Ashen. While I don’t mind this mechanic, 6 years after release reduces the overall impact. When so few wanderers appear in your game, it’s hard to see the overall appeal.

Final Thoughts

Ashen delivers a highly specialized souls-like experience, preferring to perfect what it can at the cost of variety. If the art appeals and the thirst for a souls-like has you wanting, Ashen stands as a strong contender. However, there are many contenders which make this hard to overtly recommend.
3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

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I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream (1995), a Game Review

I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream (1995) is a point-and-click horror game based on Harlan Ellison’s award-winning short story.



I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream (1995) is a point-and-click horror game based on Harlan Ellison’s award-winning short story of the same name. Developed by Cyberdreams and The Dreamers Guild, this adaptation brings a new perspective to a familiar story. I heard of free purchasing opportunities for this game but cannot verify the quality. For this review, I played the 5.99 Steam release.

Play as one of the remaining humans on earth: Gorrister, Benny, Ellen, Nimdok, and Ted. Each faces a unique challenge from their common torturer, the AI supercomputer known as AM. Chosen by AM to endure torment, these challenges require the participants to face their greatest failures and tragedies.

I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream Cover Art. A mutilated face with no mouth.
I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream Cover Art

What I like about I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream

Having experienced this story a few times, Harlan Ellison provides the most substantive execution of his vision and moral questions in this game. While all have individual merits, I assume the added content and context better dive into the relevant points he hoped to explore. He also played the voice of AM, giving us the emotional complexity of the machine as he saw it.

As the above comment indicates, I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream remains a faithful adaptation with only one notable change. While that one change does reflect in that character’s journey, it uses that opportunity to the fullest. Where the short story left room for potentially inaccurate interpretations of the characters, this added context makes us better understand them.

The game’s writing remains a selling point for this story-driven experience. It dives further into the lore of the human characters and even allows further development of AM in the process. There are many ways to progress, and the multiple characters allow gamers to adventure further if stuck. That said, progressing individual characters to complete their journey remains essential for the true ending and experience.


As a point-and-click game made in 1995, I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream holds up well. In many ways, it pushed the genre in its time with dynamic storytelling and game features. Harlan Ellison was someone who pushed boundaries to challenge himself and others. He saw the gaming industry as another opportunity to evoke story-driven art, a focus reflected here.

White background, rubber stamp with disclaimer pressed against the white background.
Disclaimer Kimberley Web Design

Thoughts, Triggers, and Considerations

I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream adapts a dark and bleak story from an author notorious for his dark material. This game is no exception to that standard. Mental illness, sexual assault, genocide, and torture envelop the game. These elements are handled with attention but remain triggering to those sensitive to such dark material.

If these are deal breakers, I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream will likely earn a skip.

A cartage with red flames, a face in a circuit.
I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream Game Cartage

What I Dislike, or Considerations, for I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream

While the short story remains a haunting example of fiction in every sentence, I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream doesn’t evoke the same tension. It allows room to breathe or refocus on another character, which reduces the horror such a story evokes. While the characters participate in their torment, the loss of agency and hopelessness doesn’t translate in the execution.

Some mechanical and gameplay issues are noteworthy. For example, the saving mechanic remains dated, piling up if you save often or for specific reasons. Most of the mechanical issues stem from outdated UI from a gamer of a more modern era. Play it long enough, and elements start to click, but it needs that user investment.

Point-and-click caters to a niche audience, so modern gaming audiences aren’t inherently the demographic. The puzzle-solving and gameplay won’t win you over if the genre isn’t to your taste. Even within the genre, many of the puzzles remain challenging. For fans of the genre, this likely earns a positive merit. For those looking to continue the short story, this challenge will prove an obstacle.

Final Thoughts

I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream provides a new opportunity for the award-winning story to reach new audiences and continue to grow. Not satisfied with repeating his story in a new medium, Harlan Ellison expands this bleak world through the point-and-click game. While not as haunting as the short story, this game provides the most context and development of any adaptation before it. 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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