New year, new challenge and Jev comes along to take it on!
Like last time, I don’t have a specific tier or goal to follow except play whatever product comes to mind but I’ll be sure to be more methodical about the category selection for the upcoming games. Happy gaming!
G1: The Genre - Strategy Totally Accurate Battle Simulator - First game cleared from the evergrowing Epic Games catalog of free giveaways. There are a wide variety of factions with each unique units for the player to deploy and position before the start of the battle. The numbers of scenarios are plenty and varied, which warrants a new way of tactical thinking in terms of unit selection and positioning. My interest fell short after a few dozen, quick scenarios but it was a fun look on how the AI-controlled ragdoll units react and define the amusing outcome of the battles.
G4: Mother Earth - Island Bad North: Jotunn Edition - Next off from Epic Games, I try out the indie strategy game called Bad North. I find it simple to pick up and progress on your campaign, on your quest to defend every island you pass from plundering vikings. The minimalistic core gameplay brings out a focused take on the tactical battles, with gold currency to spend on upgrading your units and items. It’s fun and simple, especially for players who’d do without micro-managing and lengthy battles. After a while, although you’ll handle new enemies, items and various islands, the freshness can get bogged down by repetitious process of the island-hopping. I might have given it an excellent grade, if it wasn’t for the game-breaking bug that somehow prevents me from finishing the campaign (my saved games get stuck in loading screen). So, I’ll leave it as a dropped, good indie game and may or may not return to it, should it get patched again someday.
G3: Kill not the goose that lays the golden egg - Remaster Full Throttle Remastered - Review here (****)
G5: The seven basic plots - …and there’s no plot Faerie Solitaire Harvest - Review here (***)
G1: Developer/Publisher - Developer go out of business Orcs Must Die! Unleashed - More like, “Server go out of service”. I have no comments about the gameplay because the servers on this online multiplayer game has been shutdown. At least I haven’t paid before trying it and I have the other OMD! titles go through.
G1: My Game Is Good For My Health - It exercises your brain Gnog - Of what I’ve heard, Gnog was designed as a VR game but got overhauled to suit the standard gamers, as well. It’s an intuitive 3D puzzle game where solve different stages that tells a tale by its cute, imaginary visuals. Therefore, it might seem hard to figure but curiosity and exploration gets fun as I figure out the mechanics behind every puzzle stage. Pretty short with a couple of hours playtime but suits well for players in a wide range of age and low to moderate skills.
G5: The Seven Basic Plots - Comedy Sam & Max Season One: Save The World - Finally picked up the DVD that’s been collecting dust in my storage room, just to finish off the rest of the episodes of S&M Season One. For those less cultured people that aren’t familiar with the Sam & Max franchise can expect a typical point & click adventure game by TellTale Games standards. The plot is comical akin to the cartoon materials, all the characters are quirky in their own ways and the dialogues are both witty and humorous in an intellectual sense. The puzzle difficulty is mostly intermediate but leaves enough clues to not make them too challenging for an average puzzle player like me. Only the last episode left me clueless for a long while until I consulted an online hint webpage but the plots and humour payoff is pretty satisfying. I have the other two seasons in my backlog but they’ll stay around for a while longer after I get my interest back into finishing the whole series off.
G4: Mother Earth - Oceans, Rivers And Lakes Return of the Obra Dinn - This detective game has been in my recommendation for a while and I can understand why it’s so brilliant. As an insurance agent, the player has to enter the eponymous, ship that reappeared and assess the fate of each crew member. Using a special tool that views the past events in a suspended animation and related sounds, it’s up to the player to piece together the details and complete the ship’s book as much as possible. The longer I played this game, I uncover more details of the events I’ve visited through observation and deductive skills. I commend the game for its minimalistic style and reveals pieces of the picture largely in a “show, don’t tell” manner. Of course, some details are so subtle or stubbornly impossible to uncover that I had to do many guessworks after about half-way in my gameplay time. At least the story is intriguing as it unfolds at different points of time and one will have to expect some mythical factors coming into play of the plot. I am happy with the experience overall; the gameplay mechanics are largely basic to get around with, as far as I’ve done my way. The challenge of solving the crew’s fates can be largely difficult, depending on your observation and deductive skills. But if you feel confident enough, give it a run and Obra Dinn will suck you in like the time-watch itself.
G5: The Mechanic - Turn-based Carcassonne - This game is one of the few tabletop games I’ve had and got to play with my family. The funny thing is that while it’s easy to learn the basic, we’ve still had a hard time to learn the rules properly so we went along with the game sessions on our own conditions. Now that I have the digital version, it was a good way to learn the rules properly and can use it to teach my family and friends. The good things about this version is that it features AI players and optional add-ons to the game to make each game round more refreshing. The online gameplay is also a welcome feature, along with personal stats and achievements to go by. The music is soothing but very limited to the point that I can use my own music library to play to, which is fine nonetheless.
G4: Mother Earth - Space Void Bastards - Been on the fence with this one but Humble Bundle made the choice easy enough. Void Bastards has a decent concept of rogue-lite fps with crafting features and quirky enemies to get your experience a bit varied. It gets more fun as I make stronger weapons but its limited gameplay variety leaves a lot to be desired during those 10 hours.
G1: The Genre - Shooter Tyrian 2000 - Got this title for free on GOG many years ago. Little did I know that this shoot 'em up game is so old that it runs on DOS software, triggering some nostalgia within me. While the main gameplay is pretty standard genre-wise, Tyrian 2000 has already invested well into its contents by featuring the lore added to the story, ship upgrades that you can spend your currency on and different game modes to play on. Although its remastered version from 1999 makes controls compatible and added features, it hasn’t aged pretty well in terms of flow and immersion. But for those players who choose to stick around longer, Tyrian 2000 is worth its free value for shooter nostalgists.
G3: Newspaper Headlines - Politics & Economics Super Bernie World - Review here (***)
G5: The Seven Basic Plots - CATS =ටᆼට= Cat Quest - One of the Humble Bundle games satisfying my curiosity, being an action-RPG set in the world of… cats! Your adventure starts off after your sister gets catnapped (pun intended) by a powerful warlock, leaving to you level up by finding quests and clearing dungeons. The stories can get funnily unpredictable on the sidelines and not all is what it seems in the main storyline, which makes the progression fresh. The RPG system is quite basic with varied equipments and some practical spells; this juxtaposition makes the game easy to get into but the replay level isn’t enough for me to replay in Mew Game mode (new game+ mode with selected challenges). Overall, it’s an addictive game that could cater to casual to average action RPG players. The cat world adventure exists…!
G7: The title contains - 5+ words There is no game : Jam Edition 2015 - Another self-aware product? Actually, it’s a self-aware non-game, as it claims to be. There Is No Game is a brief and entertaining output that encourages thinking outside the box to solve obstacles. Effective way of promoting the upcoming (non-)game that might see its release sometime this year. For players that enjoy the meta premise of what games are founded on, like Pony Island but a lighter take puzzle-wise + a narrator’s voice that leads the, umm… narrative.
G5: The Seven Basic Plots - …the plot makes no sense Anodyne - This game is an oddity that plays out like an action adventure game akin to early Legend of Zelda games. You are to explore the world that’s representing your protagonist’s subconsciousness; making progress by solving puzzles, fighting enemies and collecting items (mostly cards). The plot in Anodyne is subtle to the point that it’s hard to tell immediately about the intrigue behind the quest you’re on, mostly touching upon the philosophies and life struggles in form of characters you meet up with. If you’re up for some classic genre adventuring while embracing some left-field, thought-provoking narrative, this game is worth it on a sale.
G1: The Genre - Point and Click The Darkside Detective - I think it’s safe to say that this is a nice introduction for people getting into adventure games but also playworthy for people familiar with the genre. You play as a detective with your dim-witted police assistant to solve a number of cases represented in each episode. What they all have in common are supernatural at work, including occult themes, ghosts and mythical beings involved. Since the puzzles are not as challenging as in an average adventure game, the humorous story gets easily enjoyable and fun to progress by. The Steam achievements encourage you to keep exploring and find more justified value in this series. For those that enjoy story-focused, humor-tinged adventure games with plenty of easter egg references to discover, The Darkside Detective is a nice treat, worth its retail value.
G1: My Game Is Good For My Health - It makes you curious Indecision. - This game goes down the alley of minimalism, when it comes to the narrative aspect. You’ll play a series of platformer-esque levels that last between 5 seconds to over a minute, each with their own environments and criterias as the scenario dictates. You won’t fail getting to the end of the game but how you approach it can grant you achievements for doing something special. Despite the game being a collection of seemingly unrelated events thrown together, I discover connections between some of the levels while others may be headscratchers for better or worse. There are even some that break the 4th wall but all in all, it has to be experienced by yourself. Indecision comes cheap and I can recommend it on a sale.
Been tired of writing, so here’s less reviewfest in favor of quicker comments.
G3: Newspaper Headlines - Diseases & Healthcare Heart’s Medicine - Time To Heal - Review (****)
G1: Publisher - Ubisoft Rabbids Coding (UPlay) - One of the free giveaways in the UPlay platform. A colorful
introduction to coding, made accessible for players of young age. For that reason alone, I grew quickly tired of it because the content variety and the plot intrigue is thin. But I can imagine it serving its purpose to give an entertaining coding training for people interested in the area.
G3: Kill Not The Goose… - Spin-off Might & Magic: Chess Royale (UPlay) - An interesting mix of quick battle sequences and RPG management akin to mobile games when it comes to heroes, armies and battle assets. It pits 100 players in a quick, online tournament against each other in duels, which requires of you to invest your gold and placements carefully in order to last long into the tournament. I am daunted from sticking around with this free-to-play game because of the scale of hero collections and management for such an online duel game but I’ve been fortunate enough to see myself ending up #2 of 100 on my third playthrough. The concept build is innovative and engaging but it might appeal more to mobile RPG fans who want to match the strategic skills with others online over a coffee break.
G3: Newspaper Headlines - Crime & Justice Batman: Arkham VR - An exquisitely made VR title, as it might have been expected from a Warner Bros release. It’s part of the Arkham series, situated between the events of Arkham City and Arkham Knight, where our hero follows the clues behind his companions’ fate. Know that it’s more of a puzzle detective game in its VR glory, so don’t expect much action to take place in view. The plot twist in the end took me really well and it might not tell much unless you’re somewhat familiar with the events taken place in the previous Arkham games. The story length is too short for its value and the bonus challenges that come after beating the game barely justifies the retail price. You’re better off getting this for a good discount price but it’s worth the experience.
G5: The Seven Basic Plots - Overcoming The Monster Book of Demons - I’m no stranger to homages being done to classics in later video games. Now it seems that Return 2 Games makes it their concept to reproduce some familiar games, albeit in a lighter, paperverse fashion with tongue-in-cheek humor laced in-between. But the dev group steps up their ambition by making their work a hub of game homages to deliver, whereas the first one being Book of Demons. I appreciate experiencing the Diablo nostalgia again, although the presentation of story and characters can get campy at times. The path system limits down the movement and it can get tedious retracing the steps when you get to a dead end (except with the exit shortcut when found). The card system changes up the gameplay and makes the loadout management more accessible for one to decide the playstyle of your choice. Although there are plenty of game modes to play by, once I beat the final boss, I didn’t find much new to go by. But I am still curious about what Return 2 Games are planning to bring on the table, especially since Book of Aliens has been announced.
G2: Skills & Things We Want To Possess In Real Life - Time Travel/Manipulation FRAMED Collection - My review
G3: Newspaper Headlines - Mental Health/Psychology TOMORROW DON’T COME - Depression is a mental issue that we’re all familiar with by near and far. And yet it is hard to put a finger on such a dreary abstract, for people who are fortunate enough to avoid it thus far. Since this puzzle game was developed by a person who went through depression, it presents brief but concise metaphors through the play of words, minimalistic graphics and your use of controls. The game is short but I think it contributes to describing the feeling of depression as needed. Kudos to the brave developer for bringing his mental difficulty to light through this. As I was done, the mood of listening to doom rock/metal felt enticing soon after.
G4: Mother Earth - Urban Areas Metrocide - My review
G3: Kill Not The Goose… - The Sequel Dynasty Warriors VII Xtreme Legends Definitive Edition - I have played most of the DW series and have noticed the changes that KOEI have applied to every release so far. In the seventh main title (or sixth for its genre’s sake), besides new characters, they applied additional story elements true to the Romance of the Three Kingdoms novel more than other titles in the series IMO. And since it’s Dynasty Warriors, the anachronism is still applied in the way as its recognized by character design, fighting styles and direction. At least the rocking soundtrack goes further with the symphonic influences rather than the electronic, so there’s more cinematic feel to the storytelling and a slightly different immersion in the fighting rampage.
This PC release certainly brings plenty to offer in terms of story-telling game modes (it was my introduction to the famous Chinese novel since long), character cast and progression. It, along with DW VIII, serves conveniently as an introduction for new players who are into polished hack n slash games with an interest in history. Older fans might still enjoy this output that takes on a familiar formula with some fresh revisiting, as much as I did.
G4: Mother Earth - Caverns / Underground Cosmic Trip - A part of the low-tier VR bundle bought from Humble. It’s a nice introduction to the VR platform, deploying you on an alien world to build bots and applications, in order to gather resources and eliminate hostiles.
Although having some FPS mechanics, the main bulk of gameplay rides on your real-time strategy management. You can delegate the resources to your gameplay style, which may be decided on your upgrade choices for your weapons or improvement of your bots. Even the graphics is well-noted for the beautiful details and visuals. The tutorial and relaxed mode would be essential ways to get your game up because in other modes, the difficulty curve will rise quickly and overwhelm you with the enemies if you’re not working quickly.
For people just getting started with the VR, Cosmic Trip might appeal if you take the time with the easy modes while growing accustomed to the VR controls. Otherwise, you should hold it off or look elsewhere if you’re more into story-based VR games.
G7: The Title Contains - Articles “The” or “Of” The Haunted Island, a Frog Detective Game - This feels like a picture book or animated episode turned interactive adventure game. Short but well-worth for its charm and likable characters!
G1: Developer/Published - Early Access Game Gunfire Reborn - I’ve never heard of this game until a friend of mine invited me into it. You can say it’s a rogue-like fps game in veins of Borderlands, both for its co-op system and a wide arsenal with large inscription variety. The basic gameplay mechanics are easy to grasp, though the weapon system has a lot to offer when it comes to randomized perks and elements. The buffing scroll and skill systems can also change the outcome of your playstyle in every playthrough and it took several rounds until I found my winning set (through both selectivity and luck). The permanent perk system gives a good replay value, since you can spend the soul essences you collect to get a better chance of surviving the increasingly difficult levels as you progress. Despite all this, once I cleared through the 3 multi-level stages, there isn’t much else to experience in its current version and I could only recommend it for co-op shooter fans to get it now. People who find themselves on the fence should rather wait until there’s more solid content added in for full release.
G1: My Game Is Good For My Health - Own experience: It exercises your body Audioshield - I have enjoyed laying hours on games that uses one’s own music library as a playing field. Audiosurf was the game that perfected that concept on basic field and now the same creator has his third work which was released on VR platform. Enter Audioshield! Getting your body moving to block incoming spheres for scores sounds familiar to Beat Saber players, along with dodging floating walls. This build easily makes for a daily exercise at home (especially relevant for the global situation). It only comes down to finding tunes that suit the atmosphere and beats you’re going for, so players new to the music interactivity will have to try out different tunes to find out what works or not. I will invest my money in exploring my library through this game but as far as using Audioshield as a form of exercise, it’s well-spent!
G5: The Mechanic - Nonlinear gameplay / Choices matter The Warlock of the Firetop Mountain - A classic roleplay book turned into a video game, based on Dungeons & Dragons. The nice feat is the cast of characters that each have their own branching paths in their adventure, which eventually joins up again. The events laid out as well as the outcome also depends on your character’s stats and traits, your choices and your luck, of course, which essentially gives replay value on the single plot concept (only varied by your character’s background). Personally, though, after playing with a few characters and eventually reaching my goal with one of them, I felt that I have seen enough of the game and not enough reason to go through all the characters due to the repeated events laid out in the main path. Similar to the Hand of Fate games, it sticks out well for its roleplaying niche and execution. This game might get mixed returns for different players but I might say that it wears out its freshness after just a few playthroughs.
G3: Newspaper Headlines - War & Natural Disasters Just Cause - Review here!
G3: Kill Not The Goose… - True Standalone Without Cliffhanger ® Interkosmos - Review here!
G1: My Game Is Good For My Health - It makes me think about life Heart’s Medicine - Hospital Heat - Review here!
G1: The Genre - Platformer Aperture Tag: The Paint Gun Testing Initiative - So, Portal had us thinking with portals; now this fan mod have us thinking with paint instead. It holds up a decent quality by its level design, aha moments and the enigmatic test lab narrative. However, there’s only so little to come back to and it was more the level progression rather than story intrigue that kept me going to its end. Hard to say if it’s worth its retail value but if people want a change of lab adventure through different means, Aperture Tag will grant you that.
G2: Skills and Things We Want… - Invisibility and Shapeshifting Natural Selection 2 - I gave Natural Selection 2 a quick run for the tutorial, some quick matches and achievements, considering that I’m not a dedicated multiplayer fan. Nevertheless, the intuitive (and funny) tutorial introduced the basic gameplay well and gave a decent ramp for the more advanced functions required for an executed, strategic path to winning matches. The choices for the teams and their commander makes for well varied opportunities to play through the matches. Even though I am pretty daunted as a beginner, the basic weapons and tools can still make a difference in battles. I used to try the previous game as a Half-Life mod but I can see that the team has polished their concept for the better through faction balancing and strategic options.
G3: Newspaper Headlines - Food & Gardens Don’t Starve Together - I bought this game over an invitation from a friend I play co-op with from time to time. I’ve played over 5 hours on this but as a beginner, I’ve only got a small taste of the evergrowing mass of contents that the devs put out. Nevertheless, the learning curve is high on this, leaving me to figure out or consult the wiki site for next choice. Considering the daunt and little clue about the goals that typical survival games tend to leave players to their own devices, there wasn’t much to keep me hanging around. Survival fans are likely to dig into this, considering the overall reviews. For non-fans, though, only give it a test and get the wiki sites ready.
G6: Life - Chores (Cleaning) Viscera Cleanup Detail: Santa’s Rampage - A stand-alone expansion to the cleaning simulator. The title surely gives off a hint to the setting: A Christmas themed add-on contrasted by a bloody aftermath from the father of all children’s breakdown. It’s just one level here but decent enough with all the funny and macabre, new stuff to handle. Pretty much worth its low retail price, unless you own the original game that comes with this.
G4: Mother Earth - Desert The Alto Collection (Epic Games) - I’ve been familiar with the Alto games when they came out on Android. This pack contains two games with different setups sharing the same concept. This fast-paced board racing game has a light-hearted and somewhat relaxing atmosphere about it that makes the game easy to pick up and play for 5 minutes or so. Although its core gameplay is an endless platformer, the set of goals are small and easy to pace through until you get your next set to fulfill, adding to the addiction value. Having a workshop with perks and tools for sale also helps giving a push for the progress making, with new obstacles to change up the racing field. Accessible to casual players overall, although I’ve stuck around long enough to know that these games are built on repetition with no hint of endgame.
G1: My game is good for my health - It lowers your stress level Rusty Lake Paradise - Review here!
G6: Life - Go To Work Heart’s Medicine - Doctor’s Oath - Review here!
G6: Life - Vacation Florence - Florence is like a picture book, telling a story about the love’s ups and downs, along with following your dreams. The puzzles are designed to make the interactivity with the story’s actions possible but other than that, there’s not much you’ll get out of Florence besides the simple charm and a reminder of what we make of our lives.