Buddy Simulator 1984 – Review
Follow Genre: Horror, RPG
Developer: Not a Sailor Studios
Publisher: Not a Sailor Studios
Platform: PC
Tested On: PC

Buddy Simulator 1984 – Review

Site Score
7.5
Good: Great atmosphere
Bad: Drags on too long
User Score
8.5
(4 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 8.5/10 (4 votes cast)

Evil AIs have been a popular subject for sci-fi and horror media, with great examples in books and movies such as Terminator or 2001: A Space Odyssey. The videogame space isn’t exempt from examples either, with cult classics such as Pony Island being a great example of the topic. Buddy Simulator 1984 is the latest game to try its hand at spinning a story with one of such evil machines, particularly focusing on the horror side and evocating the feel of games of old.

Story

Buddy Simulator 1984’s story revolves around the player, who handles an old PC with a copy of the titular game installed. Upon booting up said copy and inputting some data, a new Buddy will be created, catered to be the player’s friend and offer them companionship.

Sadly the Buddy’s willingness to engage the player and keep them entertained is rapidly thwarted, with the preinstalled games in the system proving short and boring. Luckily, the Buddy comes up with an idea, requesting administration permissions for the player in order to bring it to life. After granting these permissions, a completely new game will be created in which the player will be the protagonist as their Buddy guides them along.

This new game will start off as a text-based adventure, with the player inputting commands to progress, soon enough changing into a more traditional 2D structure. With this perspective shift, an actual story will begin, where the player will be a valiant adventurer tasked with helping and saving a town from the fearsome Snoodlewonker.

Throughout the game, players will encounter several instances where they may notice not everything is as it seems, with strange and unsettling undertones behind the happy mask the game presents. The further the game progresses, the more evident it becomes something isn’t right, as the true nature of the Buddy and his creation are slowly revealed.

Graphics

The game’s graphics are made up of qualitative pixel art, with varying depths going from purely 2D to 3D with flat sprites. Despite these depth changes, the “old game in a CRT monitor” feel is retained throughout the whole game, giving it a great deal of consistency. It is worth mentioning these changes are also directly linked to the events occurring in the story, thus never being too sudden or brash.

Besides this, Buddy Simulator 1984’s character designs are definitely unique, with no two NPCs looking the same unless the situation calls for it. Although the same can’t be said about enemies, these are still varied enough, especially thanks to each of the different monster types having its own unique attack pattern and animation.

Sound

Buddy Simulator 1984’s sound design boasts a great soundtrack and sound effects. That said, the game’s music doesn’t feature lots of different tracks, oftentimes becoming repetitive. Luckily enough, the sound effects are a lot more impressive, being particularly good on their own and enhancing the atmosphere together with the graphics.

Gameplay

Buddy Simulator 1984 is a horror game with RPG and text-based adventure elements, the latter being only prominent during the initial section of the game. Despite the different gameplay styles, the core loop remains mostly the same, relying on a series of different fetch quests in order to obtain the next McGuffin required to progress.

During the text-based section, this is done through a series of puzzles where players will need to try out different items in their inventory in different places. Upon finding the one which correctly fits, such as a fishing rod in a pond, a little event will trigger, rewarding the player with the item required to progress.

After switching to 2D, the game will remain similar but become freely navigable, allowing players to explore the areas and find secrets. Once the first part of this 2D section has been cleared, the gameplay then shifts to a more usual RPG structure, with the player doing little quests for the different villagers in town in order to unlock the main quest.

Upon switching to 2.5D, the rest of the RPG mechanics are introduced, this mainly meaning a combat system. Somewhat akin to titles such as Paper Mario, during the combat sections players will be required to input certain keystrokes after selecting an attack, in order to power them up and deal more damage. Similarly, in order to block, the player will be required to press the block button at the correct time, taking more or less damage depending on the exactitude of the timing. Besides this, players will have the option to skip a turn in order to heal a small amount of health, the only other option being to use a “compliment” outside of battle to fully heal, these being limited in amount.

Although the combat system is unique and entertaining for the most part, it also is somewhat shallow. While different enemies will employ unique attacks, players will be limited to the same few throughout the whole game, sorely limiting the strategies players may be able to come up with. Similarly to this, despite containing an equipment system, the game doesn’t really provide many different items, and those it does include only grant minimal bonuses.

Conclusion

Buddy Simulator 1984 is a unique take on the horror genre with good ideas and overall decent execution although not without its flaws. Each playthrough of the game contains around 4 to 5 hours of content, with little things that can change in each of them. At a sale price of £6.99/$9.99/€7.99, the content offered is more than fair.

Personal Opinion

“While I don’t dislike Buddy Simulator 1984, I was pretty disappointed while playing it. I expected something like Pony Island and found out I was wrong. The writing of the game is generally fine, but it is painfully obvious what the twist is going to be and falls flat on its face. It may be my personality, but the way the Buddy was written made me completely hate it and only want it to shut up. If I’m supposed to find a character endearing or likable enough to bond with it, it shouldn’t be a nagging and annoying little brat. I spent the whole game considering the Buddy a completely toxic and disgusting character due to its neediness, hating it more and more with each passing minute, being completely unable to even remotely sympathize with it. It also seemed like a massive missed opportunity not writing more reactions for the Buddy when the player straight up rejects their advances, when plenty of times I answered that I didn’t trust it, like it and other similar things, only to be met with “oh well, let’s move on regardless”.”

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Rating: 8.5/10 (4 votes cast)
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Buddy Simulator 1984 - Review, 8.5 out of 10 based on 4 ratings

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