My entry for 2021’s Grouvee Game Challenge. Can I do better than last year? Can I at least complete a Group? Will I be taken away again by the siren song of a game that never ends? Only one way to find out
Tier 1 - Group 2 (The Protagonist) - Someone evil or morally ambiguous
Pumpkin Jack (PC)
A tale of a man that was able to dupe the Devil thrice, now given the chance to defeat humanity’s hero to keep the world under the influence of evil and darkness. Yeah, pretty evil.
Overall, not a bad little title. Loads of 3D platforming on display here and the combat system is fairly good. Lots of repetition as far as set pieces go but still fun overall if you’re looking for something breezy that won’t take too much time to beat.
Fun Fact: This game actually has ray tracing support for lighting and shadows with only a little used for reflections. Looks very nice if you’ve got the card for it.
Tier 1 - Group 7 (The Title - contains) - Number
9 Monkeys of Shaolin (PC)
A beat em up that is a little different from most in that it takes place in ancient China rather than the modern day. It’ll remind you of an old kung fu film in that regard as it has loads of action but you’ll easily forget about it once you exit the game. A few cheap boss fights here and there spoil the experience as does the need for a little grinding to get over the game’s difficulty curve but, overall, not a bad game to spend an afternoon with.
Tier 3 - Group 2 (GAMES BY COUNTRY OF DEVELOPER) - Slavic country or Hungary
The Medium (PC)
Developed by Bloober Team out in Poland.
Bloober loves horror but they also love the type of game that’s light on puzzle difficulty and real heavy on story. That’s pretty much what you get here with the gimmick that there are moments where you’ll see your character occupying two worlds at the same time. Whether you appreciate the constantly changing camera angles or the gimmick itself, it is the characters and the tale of an old workers’ resort and the horrors that lay within that will get you going until the slightly ambiguous ending.
Tier 3 - Group 1 (DEVELOPER/PUBLISHER) - Debut of Developer
This is the first game from Graceful Decay.
Part walking simulator, part puzzle game. The story itself is a simple one about a couple that find themselves falling in love then falling out of it. It’s a human story and one not complicated by things like toxicity or abuse. Not exactly award winning stuff but still good overall. To get to the story bits, though, you need to solve a series of recursive puzzles as you manipulate a few objects in a model so that you can get access to areas and doors in the world around you. The concept is cool and the puzzles are enjoyable, even though you might need to brute force or stumble through a few to get to the solution. Short game but well worth experiencing. If you’re concerned about the price, know that this game is this month’s free offering on PS+ as well, though you have to be lucky enough to own a PS5 if you wanted to play it immediately.
Man, I haven’t posted here in months. Been real busy but not too busy that I couldn’t beat a few games. Time to play catch-up and list those titles here… at least in small chunks since trying to write this all at once is a bit tedious at the moment
Tier 2 - Group 3 (NEWSPAPER HEADLINES) - Art & Fashion
The Last Show of Mr. Chardish (PC)
It fits here as you’re exploring the life of an actor, hence art.
The first impression you have of the game is thta it’s a walking simulator and you’d be right for half of the game. The other half of the game is made up of many different puzzles as you go through different plays, all of which focus on one specific mechanic. One may deal with manipulating shadows to create pathways while another may have you controlling two robots at the same time. The gameplay is a pleasant surprise and the story is beautifully tragic and engaging. For those who love the genre but want more to do side from walking around, this is worth checking out.
Tier 2 - Group 1 (MY GAME IS GOOD FOR MY HEALTH) - It makes you more social
Act It Out!: A Game of Charades (PS4)
Played this one on PS Now. By myself. Not very social that way but I did get all of the game’s Trophies to pad out my overall level so that counts. You don’t really need a video game to play charades, to be honest, but it was there so…
Tier 2 - Group 3 (NEWSPAPER HEADLINES) - Mental Health/Psychology
Postal Redux (PS4)
It fits here due to the game’s ending.
Time has not been kind to the original Postal. What was once considered edgy and controversial is now sad. The shooting mechanics are lackluster thanks to their poor overall use and the AI feels unfair as a result. What should have been an exciting shooter feels tedious despite the game’s short runtime and those looking for the humor or the later games aren’t going to find it here. Unless you’ve got fond memories of the original PC game, take a hard pass on this one.
Tier 2 - Group 5 (THE SEVEN BASIC PLOTS) - …and there’s no plot
Access Denied (PS Vita)
There really is no plot here. You get sent to a room to solve puzzles and that’s it. No cutscenes or even text blurbs to tell you why you’re doing all of this. The puzzles themselves are clever but it feels more at home on a phone versus the Vita considering how bare bones this all is. At least I got all of the trophies on this one so no reason for me to go back to this one.
Tier 2 - Group 5 (THE SEVEN BASIC PLOTS) - CATS =ටᆼට=
Doodle Champion: Island Games (Browser)
The main character was a cat so this works out.
On occasion, Google will put out Doodles that are simple little games. This time they went all out to craft a bunch of sports related mini-games with a basic RPG tying them all together. The mini games themselves are fairly simple but very engaging, especially the skateboarding one. The side quests that have you travelling all over the island to help others was engaging and the various animated cutscenes made it all worthwhile. This is easily the best Doodle Google has done yet.
Tier 1 - Group 1 (THE GENRE) - Platformer
Woodle Tree Adventure (Xbox One)
This one is pretty bad. Your character, a living tree stump, has very floaty movement and the lack of a definitive shadow makes it difficult to land jumps in a 3D space. His leaf attack is weak until you power it all the way up. The soundtrack is mindless, the story is fairly rote, and the camera is poor since it is very sensitive and lacks rotation abilities. The only saving grace to this is that you can score the full 1000 Gamerscore in a relatively short amount of time so Achievement Hunters will appreciate that, at least.
Tier 1 - Group 1 (THE GENRE) - Shooter
Cloud Cutter (PC)
A very traditional shooter in the sense that you’re a jet plane instead of a person and the bullet patterns aren’t of the bullet hell variety. You’ll have to get used to the fact that firing is automatic and your plane has a health system in place. Otherwise, it’s simple, short, yet fun for genre fans.
Tier 1 - Group 1 (THE GENRE) - Strategy
50 Years (Xbox One)
It is a strategy game but you only have a few options to use. You can build, manage tasks, choose to fight and explore stuff, and that’s roughly it. The shorthand way to describe it would be a very stripped down and simplified Civilization. It isn’t a bad game at all though it does look ugly even for something so minimalist.
Tier 1 - Group 1 (THE GENRE) - Brawler
WarDogs: Red’s Return (PS4)
The presence of unattractive anthropomorphic dogs might draw your attention but the broken mechanics and lack of co-op will pull you out. Fighting doesn’t feel satisfying as you constantly slide around while the various flashy techniques like slow motion for the final hit in a combo fails to impress as the technique often happens way before the enemy is actually dead. Coupled with an upgrade system that doesn’t feel like it’s doing anything at all and you have a title that genre vets skip over in favor of much better games.
Tier 1 - Group 1 (THE GENRE) - Point and Click
Football Game (PS Vita)
The premise is interesting in that you’re trying to meet up with your girlfriend for the upcoming high school football game. The puzzles are nice enough and the low-fi visuals give this an old school adventure vibe. Yet all of this is for naught since the story seems to want to go somewhere dark yet ends up with an ending that’s too ambiguous and unsatisfying. It’s a short game overall but still not worth your time.
Tier 1 - Group 1 (THE GENRE) - Puzzle
Puyo Puyo Tetris (Switch)
The marriage of two of the oldest puzzle games out there shouldn’t work yet they both blend together quite nicely. The versus modes are quite excellent for fans of either title but the story mode is memorable not because of the challenges but because of how bonkers the storyline is. It is all sorts of ridiculous but the right kind and those who love nonsense will adore the tale told here.