Jevnation's 2021 Challenge Post

Well, here we go again!

Last year ended with a bit of crunch on different games, so I’m starting on a chill note and clear through games on my own accord for now. Due to studies and possible job hopping during Q1, you won’t see me post as frequently like I did previously. But they’ll come…!

Happy gaming 2021, our transitional year!

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  • G7: The Title Contains - Name of character / Place
    Detective Jackie - Mystic Case - Grouvee review here

  • G7: The Title Contains - Number
    Half-Life: Absolute Zero (mod) - An attempt at recreating Half-Life before it became as we knew it; an early beta. A group of devs used various sources and familiar resources to give make the experience as close as it was in its early years, back before Valve decided to polish it further. As a Half-Life fan, I find it interesting how different the models were on the grittier side, the levels were either simplistic or too spacy for a tight gameplay. Even the enemies cut from the original release were implemented and provide new challenges by maneuvering or toxic treatment. Otherwise, the plot is just as minimalistic and similar as it was in the original. Alas, since this mod project bumped into too many adversities, regarding coding and staff issues, Absolute Zero was finally put to rest unfinished. As long as this mod is available for download, this rough mod serves as a true fan service in opposite direction to the remake Black Mesa.

  • G5: The Seven Basic Plots - …And there’s no plot
    Idle Slayer - Idle/clickers is nothing I’m a fan of but developers find ways to add new touches to the gameplay core. Since Idle Slayer has platformer elements, I was curious enough to see what it’s got to offer. Surprisingly enough, I have spent over 33 hours into this game but it’s easy enough when it allows me to play while listening to Youtube or podcasts.
    You’ll have your character running in an infinite level, earning gold by slaying monsters and picking up coins. How much you earn is decided by the equipments and upgrades you purchase, which will affect your constant income by coins per second. What freshens up the gameplay for me was the ascension feature, which resets your coins and converts the slayer points to a currency for permanent unlockables, upgrades and improved income.
    It was fun while it lasted, until I realized that I hit a plateau passing through the nonillion gold territory. Mostly for the lack of equipment that were mostly unlocked through treasury amount, because it takes repetition to get a sense of real progress being made. Since I’ve unlocked most of achievements at this point, I’m pleased enough to let this go after the said amount of hours because… Why go on?
    In the end, it’s more about the numbers than the features apply, and I’ve yet to be proven wrong on games of this genre.

  • G4: Video Games Vs Other Media - Game With A Lot Of Easter Eggs
    Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King - Grouvee review here

  • G5: The Mechanic - Set Collecting
    Dude, Stop - Grouvee review here

  • G4: Video Games Vs Other Media - Game With A Phone Motif (If you read my review, you’d understand my peculiar reason for the category choice :upside_down_face:)
    Music Racer - Grouvee review here

  • G4: Video Games Vs Other Media - Game Based on mythology or legend
    Thea: The Awakening - After coming back to this for a second try on gameplay, I am saddened to say that I had to finally give Thea: The Awakening a pass on my backlog. I haven’t really come around to organize the balance between resource gathering, exploring and managing the parties because it can get particularly blurry on the former and the latter. Of course, micro-management is bound to have a long learning curve and though it may start easily with a tutorial in place, making some form of progress is too slow for my liking. The battles in form of card games are all dependent on the party’s stats and equipment, though the random turn orders can make or break the ideal outcomes.
    The sum of it all is unfortunate, because there is a neat world building and lore based on the Slavic mythology, as well as the micro-management on a scale of a handful of people could have made a fresh gameplay experience. I will leave this as a form of commentary instead of review, as I feel it might appeal to the more dedicated 4X strategy fans and newcomers would know better to read the game description and actual reviews. Still, I’ll check out the demo of Thea 2 and see if the changes are for the better.

  • G5: The Seven Basic Plots - The Quest
    Evilquest - Grouvee review here

  • G2: Skills or things we want to possess in real life
    The Uncertain: Last Quiet Day - Grouvee review here

  • G4: Video Games vs Other Media :jeff_btg:
    Break the G̵amè̢̢͘ - Grouvee review here

  • G2: Skills & Things We Want… - Powerful Vehicle :Blaster_Master_Zero_Jason:
    Blaster Master Zero - Grouvee review here

  • G2: Skills & Things We Want… - The Familiar or Mecha or Dragon :mind_cog:
    Into The Breach - The brains behind the addictive game FTL has delivered another reinvention to the tactical strategy genre. I command a squad of battle mechs sent back in time to save a group of civilized islands from alien bug race called Vek. Into The Breach puts more emphasis on the tactical side of battles, while keeping them bite-sized for quick sessions during the campaign. The RPG elements add to the squad customization along with additional utilities that decide the outcome of the missions, with the power core functions allowing me to adapt and re-adapt the assets for each squad member. The varieties of the squad and utility setup makes for the replay value, though I won’t see myself coming back after the first playthrough because I feel satisfied with just that. Worth to try out and see how you roll with this niched, tactical game.

A simple question for curious readers: Normally I post shorter reviews in Grouvee as status only and copy them right here, while longer reviews are linked here. Would you prefer that I post longer reviews here, too? :upside_down_face:
Happy gaming!

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This seems like a good way to do it to me.

I really need to get to updating my challenge sheet!

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Thanks for your response, @peter! Keeping it brief and open for expansion is the way to go, for now. And good luck with your challenge sheet! It’s motivating to have peers updating and looking to each other’s challenges.

G2: Skills & Things We Want… - Magic Satchel :cs_sword:
Might and Magic X Legacy (UPlay) - Grouvee review

G5: The Mechanic :Crowned:
Might and Magic: Heroes VI - Grouvee review

G5: The Seven Basic Plots - Overcoming the Monster :lh_lich:
Loop Hero - Grouvee review

Breezing through my backlog lately… huh! Guess I’ve convinced myself to weigh my time more based on games worthiness. This time, it’s GOG-themed.

G7: The Title Contains - Dumb or Nonsensical
Teenagent - Grouvee review

G2: Skills & Things We Want… - Beauty and Charisma
Lure Of The Temptress - Grouvee review

G5: Seven Basic Plots - Voyage and Return
Treasure Adventure Game - Grouvee review

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G5: The Seven Basic Plots - Comedy :coffeetime:
3 Out Of 10: Season One - Grouvee review

G5: The Seven Basic Plots - Tragedy :s_smile2:
Seen - Grouvee review

G2: Skills & Things We Want… - Invisibility or Shapeshifting :mantis_logo:
The Fall - The Fall was given out for free on Epic Games. Pretty short adventure platformer, cleared in 2.5 hours. You play as an AI-driven exosuit for a human, who lost consciousness during a crash landing at a strange robot facility. While you search for a place to treat your user’s wounds, you come upon different robots who will aid or attempt to destroy you on your path. I’m not particularly engaged by the story but some twists were well-done, even touching upon what it takes for an AI to break the protocols programmed in you. The controls can get clunky during navigation and during crucial fights, which doesn’t bring down the experience too much. It’s lauded by reviews overall, so I might be in the minority here.

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G7: The Title Contains - Signs :rage_dyl:
Cave Story+ - Otherworldly

G6: The Soundtrack - Classical or Jazz :vrwitness:
Agent A: A Puzzle In Disguise - Like a first spy test

G4: Mother Earth :fishbones:
Dead In Bermuda - My interest survived only for a while

G5: The Seven Basic Plots - Rags to Riches
Blood Knot - This side-scrolling RPG caught my attention due to its setting based on 19th century Brazil. The story focuses on a young woman and her father, a drover, who returns after a long absence. They both set out to find a treasure related to trailblazers while being chased by his former comrades.

Now, I would have intended to finish it, if it weren’t for the glaring UI issues. An hour into the game and I came to the part where the text from the item menu vanishes during a critical combat, which gives me trouble to see what the heck I’m using. Having such difficulties in overcoming the obstacle, I’ll pass it off my backlog until the day comes when a solution is provided by the devs or the community, if there is any sign of the sorts. And that’s unfortunate for this game, because its graphics remind me of the classic illustrations depicting South American locations and people. I can’t recommend it for the time being.

G6: The Mechanic - Exploding Barrels or Double-Jumps
Fairy Bloom Freesia - I know kung fae

G6: The Mechanic - Nonlinear gameplay / Choices Matter
Stories: The Path of Destinies - The plot is there but expect repetition in other parts

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G7: The Title contains - One Word :IMrabbit:
Inmost - Tugging the heartstrings by this strong debut

G5: The Seven Basic Plots - Rebirth :sealkey:
Omensight - Groundhog Doomsday

G6: The Soundtrack - Awarded :triangle:
Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP - You’re in a concept record now

Posting this on my birthday. Now, I can enjoy myself! Cheers, friends!

G6: The Soundtrack - Chiptune :shovelknight:
Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove - A well-polished gem in the retro troves

G4: Video Games Vs Other Media - Game that has it’s own books or comics :rustylakeburger:
All You Can Eat - Now you’re playing the comic strip

G6: The Soundtrack - Electronic / Techno :sfsad:
Sanctum 2 - Being an FPS/tower defense hybrid, I had this game on my Steam as a curiosity. I’ve played through the first area with 4 stages, both single and online co-op but it doesn’t click with me. While it’s easy to get into the basics and the tower arsenal is widely varied, the latter makes for some learning curve for matches that have time pressure. Even the combat doesn’t feel particularly impactful, making me work until the climax comes up and then the wave is over quite early (except for boss waves). There isn’t much to the story, either, so I checked off Sanctum 2 early on. Fans of both genres should only test before they keep it.


G5: The Seven Basic Plots - CATS :2016imnotcrying:
Inspector Waffles - It seems like anthro-themed crime adventure games are slightly picking up in trends lately, including Blacksad, Backbone and Chicken Police. In the recent year, Inspector Waffles joins the fray and takes the eponymous cat into a murder case taken place in a cat-and-dog society. This case would unfold to something larger that ties with the milkaholic inspector’s past and test his resolve while connecting the dots.

The gameplay core is a point-n-click adventure game with static scene mechanics akin to The Darkside Detective, which saves time on navigating around. The puzzles found here are mainly at lower difficulty but there will be moments you are required to search the locations thoroughly to find essential items or leads, which I had a few times gone back to find what I missed. Remembering certain characters and locations after a long while is also part of the adventure, but having a relatively limited amount of locations to navigate around helps.

Inspector Waffles is a welcome addition to the rooster of its contemporaries, having a pretty original plot with a balanced complexity, a memorable cast and an abundance of animal puns.

G4: Mother Earth - Space :steambored:
Planet Ancyra Chronicles - The pay-off is insubstantial

G4: Mother Earth - Forests and Meadows :demo:
Far Cry 2 (On Disc) - Set this stale world on gorgeous fire

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G4: Mother Earth - Urban Areas :Trapdoor:
Serial Cleaner - Quickly in and quickly out

G7: The Title Contains - Verb :mayoronion:
Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion - A (tax) fine reason to like veggies

G6: The Soundtrack - Personalized :w:
Beat Hazard 2 - 2 of the same is one too much

G4: Mother Earth - Mountains :cozykcdaxe:
Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans - The black sheep has been snuck out, but is it worth poking?!

G2: Skills & Things We Want To Possess IRL :trainbowbarf:
Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout - Fun with friends or over a coffee break

G4: Mother Earth - Caverns / Underground :bb_liza:
Mondealy: Day One - So far, the premise is nice and clearly Undertale/Deltarune-inspired, with a varied, colorful cast of characters that makes the game more pleasant to play further in. On the other hand, I am not quite sure where the plot is intending on leading or what’s the driving point besides the two-worlds premise, as well as the some holes needing to be filled.

But there hopefully, the dev will take the time to fix and touch up on the game before its full release and see if there is anything worth in it…

And no, this game does not have dating features. The dev has confirmed that the character interactions between each others are as close as that gets.

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G7: The Title contains - 5+ Words :thewarrior:
Hero of the Kingdom: The Lost Tales 2 - By now, one could consider the main original Hero of the Kingdom releases as a kind of full-feature movies, while The Lost Tales ones being part of mini-series in comparison. Every release has their story individual enough to be enjoyed separately, although they share the same world with references to their characters and events.

Part 2 puts a human kingdom’s princess in focus here. After her little escapade of adventure outside the castle, she has to find her way back in after learning of a turmoil taking place in her home city. Parts of this story involves helping out a farmer on numerous chores, dealing with pirates and fighting evil troops summoned from a different realm. Knowing that HotK is mainly a point-n-click RPG adventure game, there isn’t as much impression being made during the story besides the short texts narrating for progress’ sake, like the rest of the franchise.

Still, it’s to be taken for what it is; an easy-going fantasy adventure in a light-hearted environment, which the franchise has been built on ever since. The features here are scaled back and barely has any grind factors (glances at HotK III), although my experience suffers from having to travel back and forth to keep my required items and stats stocked up to progress the story. The isometric art keeps up the standards, although there aren’t any notable, new mechanics added on to freshen up the HotK experience. Nevertheless, if you like HotK overall or wants some relaxing fantasy RPG escapade to sink 3.5 hrs into, The Lost Tales Part 2 is worth checking out.

G7: The Title contains - Colour :simonsez:
Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy Remastered - Aged badly but put the interactive movie niche on the map anew.

G7: The Title contains - Only Capital Letter :soundbubble:
HIVESWAP: ACT 1 - Lush, cerebral, gamer-friendly though unreliable, for patient Homestuck newcomers or old fans

And with that, I have officially rounded off the Grouvee challenge of 2021. I will follow up with posting reviews of remaining games I’ve cleared off that year, knowing that I’ve put them off out of considerations for replays or plain laziness. (and the fact that I am a thorough and slow writer, too)

The amount of games I’ve cleared off could have filled several groups in the document but as of now, I barely managed to complete two, which will suffice. After all, it’s the bigger picture that counts, that being the pile-of-shame that has to be downplayed (pun intended) and control the personal library. But for now, it is the remaining reviews and starting out on the new year with new goals.

Have an excellent year on all fronts, gamer folks!