Jevnation here! Following up on my backlog, doing a challenge here on Grouvee makes things more interesting and fun! I’ll check out your other challenge sheets for the time being, so good luck! I’ll do some comments on the games I’ve finished to freshen up the topic along the way.
Once in a while, I’ll honor the challenge recommendation and post a batch of comments on games I’ve passed this year, whether they’re beaten or given enough time to play through. Hope you enjoy some gaming perspective here.
Dark Souls III - As the first Dark Souls title was put in my bucket list, I started with this game first due to my friend’s invitation to co-op. You play in a fantasy world as an undead, encountering some friends and lots of enemies of twisted kinds imaginable. The story is subtle as a whole and there are pieces of lore to be picked up, depending on your interests and attention to detail.
Naturally, what can be expected from a Dark Souls title is that it will give you a rough time even from the start, demonstrating its rigorous nature that will force you to adapt early on. It’s punishable at times but well-adjusted enough to not make me drop it early on. Who knows how long I would have lasted if I didn’t go co-op from the time it was possible. But along the way, you’ll grow more skilled and face new challenges with the enemies, environment and especially the bosses that’ll make you think new ways to survive and progress. Little did I know in beforehand how satisfying it was to overcome the daunting adversaries and it proves how Dark Souls picked up the torch of difficult games with a meaning behind it once again.
Similar games: Earlier Dark Souls titles
Serious Sam Fusion 2017 (Including the 2 games The First Encounter and 3: BFE - It’s time to get back to classic FPS as I check out Serious Sam for the first time. Fusion 2017 was featured as I purchased The First Encounter HD and serves as a hub for recent Serious Sam games for better experience and convenience.
Following the story’s chronological order with the games I have, I started out with SS3: BFE and get treated with some proper 3D graphics by 2011’s standards. The First Encounter HD has its older graphics polished up and gets nearly on par with its sequel, with slightly different arsenal and enemy types. Soon enough, I find myself in heated battlefields throughout the cities and deserts as I take on alien hordes that are out to get me. Because, why not? I’m playing a one-man army who delivers one-liners and bullets of different sizes and forms that are effective in many situations and fun to overcome obstacles with. Heck, I even mowed down bulls and vicious kleers with a cannon that spews out uranium-loaded boulders! The variety of enemies are wide enough to make the playthrough open for various fighting maneuvers, especially in Serious difficulty level.
Serious Sam makes a good use of the maps’ large spaces to make room for large groups of enemies that you’re free to slaughter. The game varies enough with the map arrangements to keep the campaign mode fresh enough from wearing down but you might have to go through a number of retries such as in the arena battle scenes as the enemies spawn and surround you constantly. My biggest complaint is how the last maps of BFE end up getting grindy with the massive size of enemy horde pouring in and for the long duration of every battle that occur along the way. In that respect, it’s more worth playing in co-op mode instead of solo in cases like these. But it shows how the Serious Sam franchise preaches by-the-numbers shooter philosophy and executes it mostly right.
Defend Your Life - There’s a tower defense game in every sort of concept you can imagine fitting into and Defend Your Life takes you in to set up immune defenses in a human body against life-threatening microbes and viruses. The graphic style is taken along the cartoon direction and as the micro-bodies are given more sentient appearances, the game as a whole has a more family appeal in the looks. The in-game depth isn’t much with only 4 basic towers to set-up (not to mention the upgrades and a shop to suit your style), which work as an introductory tower defense game for people that are just getting into the genre. While the campaign takes you through the human body in every possible section, there is no story to be immersed into and the shallow impact from the audiovisual elements aren’t making the gameplay satisfying enough. Defend Your Life is a stable, relatively casual game to look into the genre by but experienced gamers can find better titles to enrich their tower defending pleasure.
Try rather: Kingdom Rush (A cartoon-styled, fantasy TD game with similar mechanics but good variety), Defense Grid (3D-styled game with robots and a charming computer companion to be assisted by)
Super Sanctum TD - The original Sanctum game stuck out on its unique design of fusing tower defense with first-person shooter mechanics. Then this spin-off was released, scaling it back to traditional tower defense. The graphics are in 2D and more on the cartoon-y side in comparison to the main titles, aptly compatible with iOS. There is no story featured in the game but the campaign mode takes you along to play different scenarios across the Sanctum world and the XP functions allows you to unlock new towers, skills and perks to handle the upcoming challenges in new ways. The game’s block system is fundamental to your level performance in that it allows you to shape the enemies route to your liking and place your towers on those blocks. This is another one of accessible games to introduce gamers new to the TD genre but with slightly more depth with above-mentioned unlockables. But as there is no story nor much other immersion-based incentive for me to carry on, I’m satisfied enough with playing the first 10 levels and fulfilling some challenges for achievements.
Similar games: Defense Grid (once again)
OH! RPG! - The next RPGMaker game… with a twist. Many RPG games revolves around heroes that are set out to save the world from evil. Except for this one, as it starts out with heroes getting beaten by the final boss and the world is heading towards its end. As those heroes make their way home, this game focuses mainly on the characters that tend to be put on the sidelines. You’ll take on the roles of NPC’s in their respective chapters and get involved with situations related to the heroes journey home, as well as the environment. For such a dire premise that the game is built on, there are plenty of light humor moments to brighten the mood as you progress through including poking fun at the RPG tropes and almost breaking the 4th wall. Although you fight alone by default, you can call upon the heroes’ assistance to overcome battles when the going gets tough (and at times when needed to). Different challenges that appear in and out of battles are both hit-or-miss but enough to keep the playthrough fresh. As I finished the game, I was left with a somber feeling because this game has plenty of characters with their own charm and made for a memorable story throughout this tragic yet hopeful plot. Can mostly recommend this to JRPG fans!
Similar game: Albino Hunter (A pretty humorous game with more freedom of carrying out the quests scattered throughout the game), Helen’s Mysterious Castle (Well-made game with only a single protagonist and a unique premise)
Thorne - Death Merchants - Thorne is a game series with several episodes planned for future releases. You play as the titular mercenary who has to unfold the mysteries around a village you got caught up in. Thorne has a medieval fantasy setting with mature themes, involving corruption and shady conspiracies, so it’s a pretty fresh take as a game running on RPGMaker engine. Rather than using the typical turn-based battle mechanics, you fight enemies actively on the spot by slashing and throwing weapons at them while maneuvering on the map. I appreciate that it changes the flow of the gameplay although the mechanics could get some further polishing due to blockiness and tedium of being surrounded by several enemies in a couple of key moments. Although the English translation is flawed in dialogues format-wise and grammar-wise, it doesn’t get in the way of the well-thought out plot too much to dissuade from continuing. You can finish this game in around 3 hours and enjoy the intrigue that unfolds along the way. This game and its sequel can be bought for a steal during sales.
PLAYNE - Meditation is something I got familiar with for almost two years now, understanding the basics and benefits behind it. Despite that knowledge, implementing this practice as a daily routine isn’t my strong suit in the long run and have gone over more than a couple of apps that woul d facilitate it. PLAYNE comes into the picture on Steam and I got to say that it does help make meditation into a healthy game. Having tried it for over a month in its early access stage and as I write this, I’ve managed to play it daily (while I can) for a short session. The incentives that are featured here are:
- The story. If meditation needed a purpose nail to get it stuck on your wall of things-to-do, PLAYNE has its own story to describe its own, little world. The sole character Wolf (with an appearance of a fox, huh) tells the background tale of how it ended up as a the static plane of existence, devoid of human awareness of time, presence and such. As you count up the days of your meditation, Wolf will reveal more of the story. The story told is quite original and has a bit of quirkiness in how Wolf describes the characters in it. The dialogues with Wolf are written with a bit sense of humor strewn around, which lightens the mood for such an introspective subject. That way, if you feel intrigued to know more of the story or Wolf’s background, meditation will practically pay off.
- The world. PLAYNE is only centered on an island but its environment changes with your meditation progress in the long-term. For instance, new life-forms and phenomenas will appear after a certain amount of days you’ve put your meditation in, not to mention your campfire grows by the consecutive days.
There are other features that encourage meditation and while I still have a long time until I reach the end-game to unlock the Evolve mode, this game passes off as a brilliant means to start building and maintaining a habit of mindfulness. If you’re interested in meditation but find it too boring to get by in the long run, I’d recommend this game for you to try out and see if there is something meaningful that unfolds for you to pursue.
Although this game is checked off as passed in my backlog, it’s been integrated to my daily routine enough to faithfully come back and reap the healthy benefits.
Rolling on the next set of games done this year… Cheers!
Speedrunners - A platformer racing game where you win by outrunning your opponents. For such a simple concept and content, the execution is just right enough to warrant a fair competition online, even. It’s easy to learn but I had to spend a little time learning the levels in order to overcome and use obstacles to my advantage. The tools and weapons that are picked up along the way add heat to the racing and over all the high-tempo hustle, I find it satisfactory enough to recommend it!
Puzzle Chambers - Simply put, this puzzle game (duh) puts you into a facility of puzzle chambers (double duh!) that requires logical thinking to solve problems by the use of number tiles, mainly. Your venture is nevertheless plot-driven, as the game focuses on characters that are trapped within the facility and have to find their way out. As you solve some puzzles and making progress, you’ll unfold the story that involves conspiracy theories, supernatural powers and plot twists (and humor) to keep you intrigued to carry on. The puzzle tasks do get progressively more challenging and introduces new kinds of tools and solutions further along the game so only if you are enjoy some challenging, logical puzzle solving or even enjoy something with an original plot to drive you through, this game might be something to give a try-out.
Scheming Through The Zombie Apocalypse: The Beginning - A just-started adventure series situated in a modern, animal civilization that’s just been struck by a zombie apocalypse. The point ‘n click adventure features a duo that starts their own scavenging business to get by but stumbles upon unpredictable encounters that warrants amusing results, thanks to the witty dialogues and dark humour gracing the plot. A neat feature to be mentioned is your navigation of hired scavengers through sites and the choices you make that can affect their fate, for better or worse (and hilarious either way). For being a short episode, its replay value is a given, not to mention that the scavenging goods inventory and the bartering functions adds dependence on your performance and choices made. I recommend getting it on a sale, if you think about trying it out and curious about the plot that develops over the Scheming series.
Similar game: Hector adventure series (You play as a cynical cop in this cartoony point n’ click adventure; contains mature humour)
Influent - Some of us want to learn new languages for various reasons (mine for being a Russian raised in Sweden, hence my mother tongue) and so we may look for other means if not by school classes. Influent tries its own approach at teaching players their desired language, as far as their collection of DLC’s allows, and lets them interact in a 3D environment with free roaming inside their character’s house. The location and its objects are subject for translation in nouns, verbs and adjectives, letting you practice to the point you’ll master those select words. But as much as 420 words are plenty for you to get into your target language with visual interactivity and games, that’s as far Influent will benefit you in its educational premise. Don’t expect to learn grammar, because it’s only word-focused training. As there’s much freedom in interaction, there ain’t much structure to guide you forward. Influent is unique in the way it lets you interact and learn new words from the featured objects but the execution is too limited to immerse your language as a whole. It suits as a visual introduction and training of vocabulary but if grammar training was included, Influent would have been more reliable as a complete language training program at a basic level.
New batch and updates in…!
Super Meat Boy - My personal review ***
The Stanley Parable - It was just a Half-Life 2 mod during the first time I played it back in the old days. I thought I experienced it all but as I found the stand-alone release on sale, the “what the heck” impulse got into me. There are many changes and improvements since the mod release, which freshens up the experience yet again with new choices and the narrator’s dialogues. The latter is the most entertaining and essential matter that drives the narrative forward, working well with the game’s design in attempting to manipulate the player in terms of choice within the meta boundaries. There is a lot of tidbits to explore within this limited field of premise that the game is staged on and for its unpredictable nature, this walking simulator offers plenty of fresh twists to keep me coming back. Warmly recommended!
FootLOL: Epic Fail League - I’ve never cared much for sports games but when there are games that add twists on the traditional premises, then chances are that I’ll check it out. FootLOL has the simple concept of giving players the devious tools to manipulate the players, the soccer ball and the field for the benefit of the match. As it’s easy to get into it, this results in some wicked fun during a match that lasts briefly for a few minutes, normally. The unlockables of abilities and team stats add some depth for the player to try out new strategies along for the tournament or online mode. While the contents had me kept interested for a couple of hours, it’s enough for brief gaming sessions if you want to break the soccer norms for a while and wreak havoc on the field for some malicious fun.
Finding Paradise - My personal review ****
Now adding in my future posts the challenge groups that my finished games were appointed to.
- Evoland - My review here (***) (G8: Developer / Publisher - Debut of Developer)
- Evoland 2: A Slight Case of Spacetime Continuum Disorder - My review here (****) (G9: The Wheel of Time - Containing Time Travel)
- West of Loathing - My review here (****) (G9: The Wheel of Time - Western)
- Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War - Dark Crusade - Picked up some Warhammer gaming again since I finished the previous title several years ago. Dark Crusade is pretty different, given its free choice of race in a freshly added meta campaign feature. I liked the fact that I could choose which territory to move my army to conquer or protect, as well as be rewarded with perks and hero equipments based on my accomplishments. The downside is that there isn’t much to the story being invested, besides the intro and event dialogues for each race, along with the dedicated lore put into the locations and characters. The missions have some variations and the decisive battles get mostly interesting objective-wise; it’s just getting a bit stale when I’ve learned to build my army to steamroll over my opponents during the remaining missions. Dark Crusade is still a decently fun RTS game that adds some interesting meta functions and may be suited for die-hard fans in the long run. (G2: Video Game Genres - Strategy)
The Hex - I am afraid to give away too much in this little review for gamers who have yet to check this game out. Much like the dev’s previous game, Pony Island, The Hex’ strength and charm lies in its unpredictable nature and the meta narrative that unfolds along the way. The game keeps up its flow as I’m playing and familiarizing with the six characters gathered in a hotel with the owner, who have something in common with the mystery around a murder that’s been warned to happen. Each character’s story plays out (by you) by telling their past in form of different game types that bluntly references popular classics. They all tie in to the main narrative like jigsaw puzzles, which can take more than one playthrough to get the hang of. The hidden (and strange) tidbits lying around allow you to explore around and unlock the secrets that the achievements might hint at. Ultimately, The Hex follows up Pony Island spiritually in sense of subtle depth but lots of fun and shocking contents that catch you off-guard. Greatly recommended! (G5: Pile of Shame - Game from 2018)
Fallout 3 - Game of the Year Edition - I beat the main story over a few years ago but there were still a handful of DLC’s to finish, so I indulged myself in revisiting Fallout’s post-apocalyptic world again. It was pretty hard to come back to it since I had to re-acquaint myself with my old, stuffed inventory and re-learning certain mechanics. Some gameplay issues such as strong enemies that stand as bullet sponges would have been frustrating, had I not brought my supermutant companion along (though his absence in Mothership Zeta was duly noticed). I felt that since the main story was cleared, it was pretty much a sandbox with sidequests to find under rocks but thankfully, the world is built down to the detail that I find it consistently refreshing to explore new areas. The fact that there are more NPC’s with their own personality than I can count, along with over thousands of dialogues put into it, makes for a stand-out feat for Fallout 3. If you are into free roaming RPG with a post-apocalyptic setting, I can pretty well recommend it despite clashes with my preferences. Some compatibility issues are well-known but can be fixed through a few steps. (G2: Video game genres - Open World)
One Finger Death Punch 2 - I already loved the first game but it seems the devs had more ideas to apply onto the sequel and make it bigger. The sequel carries on the kung fu horde-whipping with the two buttons-only controls but adds tons of new skills, game modes and tools at the player’s disposal to dispose (pun intended) of the mobs at a satisfactory level. With the fluid game mechanics, time flies by quickly as I sat and cleared stages quickly. It’s apparent that this product is a labor of love as the developers have polished thoroughly to give the player some momentum in the ever so hectic situations, such as transitions between finish moves and active fighting. With that said, I find this sequel a welcome continuation of the kung fu stickman hustle. (G3: Title that contains - Number)
Sorry, James - A relatively simplistic game where my task was to decrypt files in your work PC, which reveals fragments of chat logs between two individuals. The story with themes of relationships, sexuality and life unfolds as I make progress, although it’s more show-don’t-tell as pieces of a puzzle that’s left to be put together in the end. The puzzles are easy to solve but, for achievement’s sake, challenging enough when it comes to doing it without mistakes. Took me 5 hours to complete and solving the puzzles were satisfying enough, although the story was pretty underwhelming. (G10: Popular Themes - Psychology or depression)
Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault - Got this game for free on Origin, so it’s a non-Steam title checked off. The production value for a 2004 fps game is on a pretty high standard, although the game hasn’t aged pretty well due to sluggish interface and buggy NPC movements, to mention a few. The single player maps are pretty mixed in detail and scale, for better or worse. For the better here, the first maps based on the Pearl Harbor attack are richly built and tones down on the isolated aspect of a map design, which helps to create the immersion. To think how much script work has been put into such parts… For the worse, however, some missions are divided into several maps that serve little to no purpose other than sneaking through and shooting down obstacles. It’s usually only, like, 2-3 maps later, I get to point of the objective that’s been set since the beginning. Though it’s been a while since I played a WWII-themed shooter game, I don’t feel enticed enough to stick to the end, despite the peaks of production values that I have seen in it. (G7: Grouvee & Other Databases - Not available on Steam)
Divide By Sheep - A puzzle game with a simplistic UI where you have to rescue sheep and wolves from islands, on behalf of the Grim Reaper who is missing some “friendly” company. Since there is a lack of story development along the way and content width spread too thin, the carrot didn’t bring me beyond 2nd stage world but it should cater to casual puzzle fans who wants to train with sequencing tasks. (G5: Pile of Shame - Game from 2015)
Swag and Sorcery - I was intrigued when the devs added a story with humor about fantasy and swag, crafting as well as town and party management into this game, dubbing it therefore as a semi-idle RPG. It had a pretty good flow in the beginning with a smooth flow that adds to the addictive “just one more adventure/crafting”, only until the grind factor grew a lot when I have to gather crafting items, selling them and pay gold to level up the party members until they could match up to the next boss, rinse and repeat! The fashion competition is an interesting idea but pretty tough to calculate unless you bribe the judges to find out their preferences. At its freshly released state, the game could use some additional management functions to maintain the flow because it can get tiring with manually switching party members between different crafting locations and adventure mode. Swag and Sorcery stands out for its slight humor value and concept of “swag” (ugh) but could use with further polishing to prevent it from falling into the grind traps, common to other idle games for now. (B1: Games by regions / language - Slavic Country or Hungary)
G4: Playable character - Object
Ball laB - The minimalistic platformer game from a young Russian developer has been given out for free in Steam, so I gave it a quick run. Easy to pick up but steep difficulty curve from the start. The game is okay for its challenging premise, what with the level advancement, decent chiptune music and a counter for passed levels along with deaths. But I think it’s good enough only for niche platformer gamers who can appreciate something quick and frustratingly challenging.
G10: Popular themes - Crime and justice
Backbone: Prologue - A demo to an upcoming noir adventure game, where you play as a private investigator in an animal society and get yourself into an unusual case. The pixel graphics are neatly done with all the characters standing out with their own design and animations. The soundtrack is mostly minimalistic jazz but tasteful enough to set the nocturnal downtown mood. What I ironically like about this game is how it opens up for different solutions to a single problem but deny you the desired results, whether it’s intentional or depending on how you picked the dialogues. For an adventure game, that feature alone warrants some replay value for the player to get more out of trying new methods and options to progress. But to what extent it allows for players, remains to be seen in the full game release, which I’m looking forward to.
G2: Video game genres - Walking Simulator
MIND Path To Thalamus E.Edition - This game took barely 3 hours to complete, which involves a metaphorical trip of the protagonist’s memories and reflections about family, struggles and loss. The story doesn’t give away too much past the internal dialogues that are spread throughout the journey, so a fully revealed plot is less to be expected. The puzzles are pretty light but required of me to familiarize with new environments to solve by, so it’s sufficiently challenging enough without leaving me stumped after enough while. The best thing I like about this game is the background quality and the stunningly beautiful effects on the landscape levels, which would match up as an art form in visual composition. The music is mostly ambient and sets the mood well, though the melancholic and immersive main menu track caters for my favorite recent track.
B3: Life - To The Arcade (Group debut)
Polygoneer - Received it for free. Super short arcade game similar to Asteroids that puts the players’ focus, reaction and coordination to the test. I found it easy to play, save for stage 5 where spontaneity can make or break your lasting time. Decent electronic music that matches up to the arcade atmosphere. Easy to pick up and play but, due to the colorful flashiness, only suitable for short sessions.
G3: Title That Contains - One word
Borderlands (Game of the Year Enhanced) - Guess I’ll wrap things up with the first Borderlands game, for now. The enhanced GOTY edition keeps it up to date, graphics-wise but it’s still ridden with bugs in some cases. I didn’t manage to finish off some last DLC missions when my main character save went corrupt following the game crash (no backup provided).
Besides the grief, I’ll give credits to the devs work where credits are due, for the vast, sci-fi western world they built and filled it with quirky missions and characters that are memorable. The RPG mechanics stand out well with some implemented experience system and an arsenal with vast range of level-based stats. As it was built to feature co-op functions, playing solo is quite difficult but makes well for playing with friends online. I am somewhat peeved that the common co-op problem is that the story details and narrative are on the sidelines as my party focused on carrying out the mission objectives. (My party member jokingly asked me to explain the storyline we got in, so far)
The first Borderlands stands already as its testament for the roleplaying FPS type of games, for what Gearbox managed to bring together and launched as a franchise. While there are important improvements implemented (pun intended) in the sequels, players that are engaged in the story and lore of Borderlands are in for a treat with the first title.
“So, Jev, can you fill me in on the game story we got, so far?” - Party member
G9: The Wheel of Time - Sequel or spin-off
Defense Grid 2 - I suppose I am not fully into tower defense games, as I’ve lost engagement to carry on through the campaign by half-way. There’s no denying, though, that it’s one of the better designed products of its genre, improving on the functions and assets of its predecessor. The campaign’s story mode now introduces new characters that add to immersion value and some added depth into the Defense Grid’s universe. Despite that, the story’s still a bit vague as the dialogues barely make input to the bigger picture of the us-vs-aliens narrative. The towers have their neat designs and somewhat well balanced, while you still have to push your strategic abilities to the limit if you go for more challenging modes in included maps. I can say for sure that Defense Grid 2 (and its predecessor) would be the go-to recommendation for both new and veteran TD players, as long they don’t rely on the story value to keep themselves committed (but can be served as a plus nonetheless).
G8: Developer/Publisher - Early Access Game
Train Valley 2 - This is one of the games I can play relaxed as I plan the railroads and the order of delivery for the trains I have at my disposal. Much like its predecessor, TV2 has a campaign mode that has you starting at the age of steam locomotives and with every map done lets you handle more transport goods along with further train types over historical evolution. Besides that mode, there is a map editor and Steam workshop for players to create and share maps with the community. The big plus with this thing is that the dev team arranges weekly map contests AND weekly competition for players, who can win prizes for best time finished on the chosen workshop map. This sequel shows many improvements and although I am not fully keen on the grid aesthetics of map textures, it’s still fun and should keep devoted players engaged through the above-mentioned interactions with the community.
G1: Classic Genres - Science fiction in Space
Odysseus Kosmos And His Robot Quest - Episode 1 - I thought I was ready to get back to point n click adventuring again and recalled playing the demo/pilot episode of Odysseus Kosmos, which was all right. The premise of a human and his sentient robot companion going about their duties in a solitary spaceship seems like an interesting change, as the areas are pretty limited while I progress the story. Alas, I’m either too dumb or just didn’t feel engaged enough in finding all the solutions to the tasks that our eponymous character got on his laps. Some solutions don’t seem sufficiently logical to figure out (which is the risk of improvisational solutions) and I had to look up the guide find out what’s the right item for it. Having done the first episode, I don’t feel motivated enough to purchase the rest of the series; there is not enough intrigue that states the pivotal plot elements behind Odysseus Kosmos, which I suspect gets developed in the later episodes.
G8: Developer/Publisher - Crowd-funded
No Time To Explain Remastered - TinyBuild’s debut release has virtually become an icon for the team. With a simple cartoon character from the future being grabbed by a giant crab claw, hints of flash cartoon hilarity seemed apparent from the trailer’s viewing. The graphics are along the Flash quality and the controls are pretty simple. On the other hand, the game mechanics, that require of your timing and coordination with your laser gun, define the challenge that accelerates with each level completed. I can compare it with Super Meat Boy as there are more than a few levels that took many tries to finish; nevertheless satisfying to some level. The game does get rewarding as the plot unfolds with unpredictable results, considering its dark, humorous nature. Took a few hours to finish it and can be recommended to challenge-seeking fans of platformers, who also appreciate some fresh content of hilarity, and… yes, hats!
G6: Graphic styles - Hand painted
Mushroom Cats - A quick game that can be finished in just a couple of minutes. A simple game that requires of you to find hats to dress the cats with for the winter. Charming and just about satisfying to find a game to check off your backlog, if you’re willing.
G6: Graphic styles - Pixel Art
Reventure - It’s all going to sound biased here but this game is addictive as heck! Rarely do I find satisfaction in dying in a game in numerous ways, both predictably and not. After all, that’s what this game goes on about and adds new changes to the world so that there is some kind of progress made. Hilarious and refreshing, which I recommend to those who enjoy some 8-bit goodness and beyond!
G4: Playable character - Someone evil or morally ambiguous
American McGee’s Grimm (Episode 1: A Boy Learns What Fear Is) - This game is about taking the Grimm fairytales in their modern twists and using your filthy presence to untwist them to their former, dark narratives again. The gameplay is simplistic but makes up for a lack of challenge with some narrative developments for what those fairy tales were originally shaped on.
G10: Popular Themes - Power and corruption
King’s Bounty: The Legend - I’m a fan of early Heroes of Might and Magic games, as well as played the original King’s Bounty so it’s a fascinating reboot made by a Russian dev team. There is a lot of work put into the story and the whole work pays a nice tribute to New World Computing’s classics. The main game is driven by the protagonist’s adventure, so it serves more as an RPG adventure with turn-based army battles rather than as a match against other enemy kingdom players. The downside to it is that I would have wished for a better flow in the story mode as, without the quick battle option, the battles can drag down the tempo. Some trials-and-errors add to the compromising caution, as there are certain battles that can’t be estimated by the outcome unless I get thrown into it and have to reload after a loss. Having invested 10 hours on it, I felt I’ve got a fair share of it and didn’t care enough to follow through to the end. I’ll still look into the other KB games and try setting my playthrough’s on easy mode for story’s sake.
G9: The Wheel of Time - Antiquity
Age of Empires: Online - Since this title was put out of service by Microsoft several years ago, a fan community picked up to light the torch again by hosting their own AoE: Online server for old and new players to get on board with once again. It’s hard to see why the game was officially dropped because there are many feats that makes it stand out from the other AoE titles. The primary function allows players to choose their civilization and have their own city map to build and decorate by using in-game “items”. Some RPG elements are present, such as the experience point system which lets you unlock technologies and units. As you progress by the maps completed, as found in the quest world map menu, you unlock more scenarios and rewarding challenges. Another welcomed feature is the co-op mode option where you can invite or find another player to assist you on your quest. Graphics-wise, the game is in 3D but the terrain and characters have semi-cartoon features that may appeal to a wider audience, for better or worse. There is a lot to discover within this resurrected online product and if you are curious to try out this unusual MMORTS that’s graced as Age of Empires, look into the Project Celeste website for instructions. For being free, you’re sure to be spoiled as an online RTS fan.
G6: Graphic Styles - Anime
An Adventurer’s Tale - Had an addicted, although bumpy, time with playing through An Adventurer’s Tale - A visual novel/RPG crossover with its own mechanics. True to the visual novel element, I must admire that part for its rich writing which contains thoroughly formulated telling, making AAT more than a simplistic fantasy tale of adventure and eroticism.
At its release time, though, the game is unpolished in several ways that I need to point out. Being an RPG game, I previously mentioned it having its own mechanics and it’s important for players to familiarize with it. Unfortunately, the game fails to provide enough tutorial instructions for beginners, leaving at a pretty steep learning curve. I once had to rely on luck on defeating the first enemies for EXP and equipment but I guess I am pretty frugal with the starting gold I had. In that aspect, it may encourage players to explore a wide range of areas both in- and out-of-town before you get into the action. It was a lot to take in at once but after a while, I felt comfortable knowing my way around.
The combat system is in the typical turn-based fashion. Although it’s in need of better pacing during the fights, it didn’t take long enough for my full party to grow strong enough to take out an enemy with one shot.
A considerable downside with the game is that it is riddled with bugs that might prevent players from achieving their goals. Funny enough, should you find an error message appearing in the midst of battle, the latter will be skipped to victory if you choose the ignore option in the message.
Fortunately, the developer is active and constantly listening to the players’ feedback in the forums and Discord. I gotta give him props to that, as I reported bugs and he got them fixed in the following day. Respect!
An Adventurer’s Tale makes for a more than a decent visual novel in the writing department, while being in need of further polishing in the RPG counterpart. If the dev keeps up the commitment to fixing up and enhancing some features needed for better immersion and stability, I could recommend it easily. For now, though, this game is best recommended for players who are more visual novel fans with interest in fantasy environment with adult themes.
G10: Popular Themes - Death or disease
Quarantine Circular - Much like the predecessor Subsurface Circular, Quarantine works similarly with its dialogue-driven narrative to keep the plot moving forward. Instead of AI-driven robots interacting with each other, it’s now about humans who are on the brink of extinction due to a lethal infection spreading wide and quickly. Things would take a turn when an alien being has been found and contained on a medical vessel, who could decide the fate of humanity depending on the player’s choices. The immersion of the plot is easy thanks to game’s focus on dialogue and the distinctive personalities of each character involved, so I’ll give props to the writer. At first playthrough, I was on the fence with replaying and trying all the options but I gotta thank the completionist within me for giving it new runs. With each replay, I felt more engaged with the story and different character’s development. There are certainly moments I wished I could skip familiar dialogues but over that, I am pleased once again by the developers for delivering once again. This interactive story game can be finished in barely an hour but opens for many options to explore, touching upon different situations where it gets light-hearted, tense and at times philosophical. Recommended for most people who like to play for the story!
G6: Graphic styles - Ugly
The Ploshers - I was given the beta key to try out before its public release. It’s certainly the first game released by the developer, as it is an arcade game with pretty simple cartoon graphics and retro 8-bit sounds. The goal is to clear every stage by shooting down enemies with corresponding colors of your bullets (as this game seems to be made for game controllers, the buttons on my XBox controller matches with them). With progress made with each stage, new enemies are introduced and the levels are built with more complexity, adding to the challenge. The negative points with The Ploshers at its current stage is that you don’t have any other abilities than just spamming bullets on bullet sponges of your enemies, so any extra abilities or power-ups would make the shooting a bit more satisfying. Some extra effects would make a better impact that you’ve endured maneuvering and shooting down the enemy monsters. I also think some sound effects could have been toned down a bit while still sounding punchy in the 8-bit way; it’s grating to the ears when an enemy fires a laser at every turn. In the end, the simplicity of the arcade game works to the strength of monster diversity along with the star difficulty. Unless there are further plans to polish and buff the game with further feature additions, I hope it serves the developer to create more and better games in the future.
G1: Classic genres - Cyberpunk
Broken Reality - Imagine this alternate reality, where the internet has been invented in form of a virtual reality world that people can log in and interact. Well, Broken Reality brings you into it in form of free roaming walking simulator, thrusting you into a surreal plot that’s to affect the digital world you’re visiting. The world is in 3d with some spritefest thrown into it while the map design is largely rough around the edges. The fun element of the world build is that it’s rich with the meme culture of the recent and old times. The internet culture as we know it as presented in many cringe-worthy ways, non-politically correct but not blatantly offensive either. The level currency running in this game is by the amount of likes you can generate through different means necessary, in order to access new areas and progress the story. There are some minor issues I am having throughout the game but the major offense would be final stage that is exceptionally large to the point that it butchers the frame rate and thus, makes it hard or annoying to play through during reaction times. The game might need a replay or two in order to catch the plot’s actual thread but I’ll recommend to people who enjoys a twist take on the 3D adventure absurdity of the internet culture. You should try out the demo to see if it’s too your liking.
G4: Playable character - Child
Lieat - A favorite of mine in recent times. Lieat is a story-driven adventure/JRPG game divided into three episodes, starring a vagabond accompanied by a little girl as his protégé, with backgrounds to the past that slowly unfolds to catch up to them. What drives the plot is that the latter is a dragon who can make lies manifest themselves as creatures, which serve as her meals. Each episode took me nearly an hour to finish, so these chapters come in bite-size. The characters featured are certainly memorable, as they come with different personalities and backgrounds that play to the story’s benefits. Efina has certainly become one of the main characters I highly like. Even the art department sticks out decently from the noise of anime-styled games; most prominently the fairy tale-esque profile design that’s both unique and subtle but sufficiently distinctive. It’s a cute adventure game that walks the balance between accessibility and depth in each episode’s story, revolving around the themes of growth, emotions and the nature of honesty and lies.
G7: Grouvee & Other Databases - Game connected with a movie
MANOS - The Hands Of Fate: Director’s Cut - I got this gifted by a fellow in a backlog community, due to my interest in 8 bit-esque aesthetics in games. MANOS is originally a movie from the 50’s, considered being one of, in not THE, worst movies ever made. Now, this game was made and it does show in a thin plot (by its own rights) and diverse levels that you are in for an adventure with ridiculous set of adversities. Plot involving a cheesy doomsday cult? Check. Airplane level? Check. A giant ostrich, robot-man and vampires as bosses? All check. The game is short (with my time being 38 minutes), which is just enough and dense with content variety for such challenge level. I don’t have many reasons to recommend this game though, except for people who either want some nostalgic gameplay content or those who are well familiar with the original cult movie.
G5: Pile of Shame - Game from 2013
Poker Night 2 - The who’s who of poker game made a neat presence due to its cast and cross-media features. The deal-maker here was playing against characters from video games and series. That way, you’ll get a more refreshing way of playing texas hold 'em by getting in touch with them by their in-character dialogues, as well as the opportunities to win exclusive in-game items for associated games on Steam. For this sequel there are items for Team Fortress 2 and Borderlands 2 to be won. I find interaction with those characters both charming and humorous. However, I also find the effect to last only for so long if you’re playing for the in-game items because it can become a grind trying to win the opponents bounties; even reducing risks by reading and manipulating their expressions. It’s a special game that I could recommend for cultured video gamers (especially for players of TF2 and BL2) but you’ll have to be patient and have plenty of time if you’re in it for the items.
G1: Classic Genres - Mystery or Horror
DISTRAINT: Deluxe Edition - My review here (****)
G7: Grouvee & Other Databases - With Review On Grouvee
DISTRAINT 2 - My review here (****)
Although I have failed fulfilling any of the challenge tiers, this event was a fresh take on how we monitor our backlog progress and put ourselves on trial in new way, especially in the categories. With all things said and done, I’ll have one last submission update on my progress. Happy new year of gaming, everyone!
B1: Games by Regions/Countries - Nordic Countries
Deep Rock Galactic - My review here (*****)
G2: Video game genres - Shooter
Just Cause 4 - My review here (***)
G8: Game developer/publisher - Devolved Digital
Hotline Miami - My review here (***)
G5: Pile of Shame - Game from 2012
Carrier Command: Gaea Mission - My review here (**)
G1: Classic genres - Featuring mythology / legend
Viking: Battle for Asgard - My review here (***)
G5: Pile of Shame - Game from 1900s
SiN - My review here (****)
G2: Video Game Genres - Visual Novels
Sixtieth Kilometer - My review here (**)
G7: Grouvee & Other Databases - With less than 100 reviews on Steam
The Great Geometric Multiverse Tour - This is pretty much an FPS game with simplistic graphic details. But its gameplay core has its rogue-lite structure, mostly about you needing to shoot down geometrically shaped enemies in order to clear the next level. What helps you progress better in both short- and longterm are the game altering perks that can either be found or purchased. Another factor is the wide arsenal of weapons that can change your level clearing methods to various degrees. And finally, there is the point system that’ll give you currency to upgrade your assets throughout and between your playthroughs. It’s mostly helpful if you are committing many hours into the game. Although I find it not enough incentivizing to stick to it, I appreciate the devs for letting in the gamers into their product by having done a giveaway on Steam at one time.
G1: Classic Genres - Based on / Inspired by true events
IS Defense - More of a turret shooter rather than on-rails shooter but it does well in its own area. You are tasked with shooting down hordes of IS attackers as long as you can in each stage, in survival mode fashion. The experience points you get from your performance can be used to spend on upgrades (personal skills, weapons, backup) to get better results and repeat. There is no story to follow, except the setup background to give you a cause but it’s a fun game to spend some coffee break on.
Phew! That would be all! See you guys in the next year’s challenge!