Bite-sized Review:
Local News with Cliff Rockslide

Developer: Horsefly Games

Release Date: 7 August, 2023 

Platform: Windows, Switch

Genre: Adventure

By Chris Picone, 24 August 2023

Local News with Cliff Rockslide's a bit of an oddity in that, while it plays out as a sort of first person adventure game, the genre I think it most closely fits is actually that of a visual novel.  It's also very light-hearted and mildly satirical; it doesn't take itself too seriously and presents as a comedic piece.


The graphics are predominantly low poly, but each scene is absolutely stacked with detail - surprisingly so, given the openness of the world.  It looks really good.  You play as the cameraman so you view the world through your camera lense, and as such are able to zoom in and out but otherwise what you see is what you get.  You're livestreaming too, so you also get to track viewer comments which can be funny from time to time.  Finally, the game features very traditional visual novel-style dialogue overlays. It can get annoying from time to time because it will usually show you a picture of the person you're literally pointing your camera at, but can also be useful if you're a little slow panning and lose track of who's who in the breaking news segments.


The whole game's run through first person controls as you follow your news anchor around and interview people, but the story's really played out through the dialogue.  While I expected the game to be some sort of challenge where you would have to try your best to film live scenes and then get to watch and be judged on the resulting video, it's really not the case.  I mean you do get judged on the quality of your recording but that only involves zooming in and out on the right character at the right moment, which isn't particularly challenging or engaging.  Instead, the game really feels like a visual novel, but with some added interactivity where you get to actually walk from scene to scene and the scenes play out live in front of you instead of just being displayed through static text screens.  There's no issue with that, but it pays to be aware of what you're getting yourself in for.



I think the biggest issue is that the screengrabs and trailer can appear a little misleading.  Not in a dishonest way, just that the focus on the camerawork and those mechanics appear far more important than they are in practice. If you go into this one expecting a visual novel with more interactivity than normal, it'll hit right.  I'd recommend this one for younger audiences.