TSS#43 – Love, Death, The Witcher and Robots

I’m currently at my parents’ and with my siblings at school and my parents at work, I’ve got my sister’s Netflix-Account all to myself, resulting in me trying to get into the Witcher again… and…

I don’t seem to be particularly fond of it. I can’t seem to get warm with it but… don’t hate me. I don’t completely hate the franchise. I just hate the show! And the first game! And I haven’t played the second one yet but I enjoyed a bit of the third game and never touched the books, so I can’t hate on those yet.

I just feel like the pacing is just not right for me. The story-telling is doing stuff that I don’t like, like starting with a fight against some Monster that didn’t seem close nor overwhelming, it was just a bit… boring, in my opinion. And then they’re drinking and we get to know how everybody hates the Witcher.. and then everybody wants to fight Geralt but it ends well and then there’s a kid and the wizard and Uhm… I fell asleep at that point. Instead of watching the show in the evening, I then decided to watch it in the morning and suddenly… Uhm… I fell asleep again.

I guess the pacing isn’t for me. It may not be the ideal “morning show” or the ideal “wind-down show” but more of a “play the games, read the books, fantasize about Geralt in your wildest dreams and then love the show”-show. It’s not for me. But it doesn’t have to be. It’s for Witcher-fans and people that like the world, the characters and the franchise. It’s not for me, so I guess I don’t have to try to like it either.

Instead, I watched Love, Death + Robots. And I liked it.
It’s a lot shorter and episodic and honestly, I don’t know what to say about it apart from it being awesome.

I guess, I need the humor and I need a certain edge. I need to be fascinated by a world and like it from the beginning, even when I don’t know much about it. I mean, sure, I love reading Sci-Fi-stuff but I doubt that the genre is really the reason why I prefer this show over the Witcher. After all, I liked HBO’s Game of Thrones more than The Witcher (or rather… I liked the six seasons that I watched so far a lot and haven’t watched any of the other seasons, yet, but I’m sure I’ll like them more than The Witcher’s first season).

Essentially, I just found out about Love, Death & Robots a while ago and always wanted to watch it but didn’t get the chance to… and now I sat down with it and am completely in love with it. The show is episodic, being an anthology and all of that. The whole premise of the show is that there are these 18 episodes that all work on their own and that have something to do with the three topics found in the title.

The first episode, “Sonnie’s Edge”, is just… cool. I liked the hardboiled-ness of the characters in the beginning and the overlaying backstory of Sonnie who has been raped and sliced up by a gang of men and is now fighting in the pits to find the thrill of life again, as well as the dystopian setting and the fighting scenes themselves. Afterward, the episode features Love and… robots? I just liked it. There’s a bit of a philosophical theme here and Uhm… I might turn that into a post itself after I thought more about it and after I read other (famous) opinions on the matter of artificial intelligence, what makes a human a human and what it means to be alive. It’s interesting and intriguing. The story shifts around and it honestly surprised me… but it didn’t disappoint me at all. I liked the plot twists and right after the first episode was over, I watched it again for a second and a third time before eventually watching the second episode, “Three Robots”.

The second episode features three robots that try to learn about humans, long after the humans’ fall. They don’t know much about humans, and yet behave very human-like and very touristy. They then discuss several matters like how the humans were created and other matters. In the end, they make a discovery and learn about their own past and… it’s just great. Since the episodes are anywhere between 10 and 20 minutes long, I don’t really want to spoiler too much.

Each episode can stand on its own and feature a different topic, setting, different lighting and music as well as a different tone in general. The same way the first episode was dark and badass, the second one can be light-hearted and humorous while the third episode is rather dark and thrilling. I really liked this as no episode was like the other and as I didn’t really feel bored at all during the show, so far. The pacing is just right and the show is changing up the music, animation, the style, the lighting and everything in every episode. Apparently, there has been a different team involved in every episode.

And at this note… the third episode ended and was just thrilling, exciting and featured a very interesting plot twist at the end of it… But before I’ll ramble more about how much I love the show, I thought I’d wrap up this post here and think about how many cat pictures I’ll put into this.

Anyways, I wish you all a nice day and I really hope you enjoyed this post. I’ll be back home again by tomorrow, so I’ll be able to stream again and play more video games and essentially live by myself again from there on, so reviews and other posts might be different by then. I will also be able to finish up the drafts for the different MonHunLogs and overall, prepare for the new semester to arrive. It’s going to be a bit stressful soon, so I’m not too sure about how much I’ll be posting and streaming, but I’ll surely find a way.

Cheers!

Indietail – Haydee

In celebration of the #LoveYourBacklog-Week, I was browsing through my library and trying to revive games that I’ve played in the past and review those. Really Big Sky, The Plan, Among Ripples, Relic Hunters Zero, SpaceChem, Ori and the Blind Forest, and NeuroVoider are some games that I wanted to review and while I’ve finished reviews on a few of these games, a lot of them are still sitting in the drafts-section, waiting to get polished and to get wrapped up eventually (not today! But eventually for sure!). And then I stumbled across some other games that somehow (probably through free giveaways, random steam keys or Humble Bundles) have made it into my library, so I decided to play some of them without taking a look at screenshots and without looking at the Steam Store page of these titles. One of these titles was Haydee.

So, that’s how it came to be that today’s Indietail review is about Haydee, a game in which you’re playing as an overly sexualized female robot and where you essentially try to not tilt too much and where you want to know what the fuck is going.

Developer: Haydee Interactive
Publisher: Haydee Interactive
Genre: Metroidvania, NSFW, Platforming, Mature, Indie
Release Date: September 26, 2016
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC
Copy was purchased.

After starting this game up, I immediately thought that I’d regret it. I guess I was somewhat biased when I saw this protagonist’s model and realised that the Steam Store tags probably included „Mature“ or „Female Protagonist“ or „Nudity“ (and yeah, they do). We’re playing as a „thick“ robot who’s walking through maze-like rooms and solving puzzles. The game is accompanied by some futuristic and rather enigmatic tunes that got on my nerves rather quickly and the game is overly frustrating as it never tells you what you’re supposed to do nor how you perform certain actions nor how you save the game. Instead, you’ll have to figure out yourself that you can hang off cliffs by pressing crouch twice or that you’ve got to find certain (rather rare) terminals to save the game with (also rather rare) save chips. Hence, you’ll die over and over again.

The game expects you to die a lot, which is why I rather quickly got the achievement „Welcome to… Haydee!“ (Find your death in Haydee.) and „Moron“ (Die three times in a row in the same room.).

When performing certain actions, like jumping up, you’ll see that everything is jiggling in the most unnatural way and that everything about this game is rather oversexualized, which I personally didn’t really like. It’s not that I’m a prude or anything like that – it’s more that it seemed to be something that the game relied on too much. After all, NieR: Automata features rather sexualized characters as well… but it also has an interesting story, a great soundtrack, nice combat, an open world, a very creative customization-system, multiple endings and a lot more features that I can’t possibly list in this post.

But why did I keep on playing?

Mostly, because I’m stubborn. I don’t like Haydee at all and if it weren’t for a review (that I really wanted to write), I would have stopped playing this game immediately after my fifth death or so. But over time I got better at getting through the tutorial. Suddenly, there has been something nice about the game. A certain twist happened, as we unlocked a screwdriver that allows us to crawl through vents while we ignore the moon that is shining into the camera. There’s some exploration in the game happening which I wouldn’t have expected from what looked like a rather bad game. You’ll have to press buttons in some rooms, then go back and unlock other doors to proceed to the next rooms until you eventually can save again, wipe off the sweat off your forehead and rest assured that you won’t have to start over from the beginning again, as you’re dying over and over again.

There are some interesting platforming parts and while I really hate how the protagonist, Haydee, has to spread their legs and stretch out their butt and crawl over the ledge to perform a simple task as jumping onto a block, I really liked the idea of having these mixed elements in this game. A game that makes you hate it so much until you ragequit and a game that rewards those that stay for longer and play the game more than just twenty minutes. I personally took part in a few Drama projects and really liked the idea of performing something weird and experimental with a message so abstract that it either makes people hate it or love it. I’ve been to a performance one of a solo-actor and was fascinated by the fact that there’s been people prematurely leaving the room while others were confused and while I was just staring at that half-naked man performing one of my favourite plays, Woyzek, all on his own – a play with about fourteen and more roles in it played by one single man, with such a passion that it made people either hate it or love it (and I loved it absolutely).

Haydee is similar. Once you get past the hard bits, it gets rather enjoyable. You’ll be able to look past the over-sexualization, I think, and you’ll want to find out what Haydee is and what these strange robots are that aren’t like Haydee and why there are so many disposed Haydees on the pit of the cliffs you’ve already fallen into. There’s some sort of story that isn’t explained to you at all and I felt like I wanted to know what’s happening. I was intrigued by the mute character and the game that didn’t give a shit about me understanding it or not. There is no handholding when it comes to tutorials and even less when it comes to storytelling.

At some point, I found a gun and I knew that I’ll have to fight something, I guess. Maybe I’ll have to defend myself or maybe even hunt something down. Sometime later, I encountered some robots that apparently took down other Haydees and that have it out for me. Hence, I’ll have to make use of the gun and ammunition, I have to fight them off and survive the next levels and eventually… I stopped playing. I didn’t play through the whole game and honestly, I didn’t really want to as the frustration was outweighing the good sides by a ton, resulting in more or less of a rage-quit, I guess.

Question is, do I like Haydee?
Well, absolutely not.

I don’t like certain aspects of it, like the clunky controls, the missing handholding, the fucking jump scares that I encountered, the steep difficulty curve at the beginning and the unjustified difficulty of the game in general. You’re getting punished for messing up and you’re getting punished when the game doesn’t register the jump you did properly. There are no checkpoints in the game and you’ll have to manually save but you’re not able to if you don’t have to save chips. Eventually, you’ll fight against enemies but with no ammunition, you won’t last long, especially as stealth doesn’t seem to be an option. The aiming also feels rather off, the camera angles are weird and the third person only seems to be there so that the game can rub an ass into your face.

I think it’s just not my type of the game and hence, I don’t recommend it to people that value their time and money. If you want to try it out or if you think that everything I told you didn’t sound too bad, sure, go ahead, but I personally don’t think that I’ll play any more of it.

Anyways, I hope that you enjoyed this review. It turned to be kind of a rant in the beginning but then became a rather positive review before I eventually realised that the flaws don’t outweigh the good sides there are. The game turns good at some point but it continues with its flaws throughout the game and it just didn’t feel all that worth it, especially for the price you can get it at.

Until the next time, cheers!

Note: Since my screenshots didn’t get uploaded to the Steam Online Library (as planned), I wasn’t able to use them when I was editing this review on my laptop, resulting in me having to use the screenshots from the promo-material. Thought I’d let you know.

Indietail – The Plan

In today’s Indietail review, we’re taking a look at The Plan – it’s a short free-to-play Indie Game that I played ages ago and that I liked back then. Just now I started it up again and I just like it all over again. It’s by Krillbite Studio who also made Among The Sleep and Mosaic, two award-winning games that were highly recommended to me and that I’ll have to eventually play myself as well.

Developer: Krillbite Studio
Publisher: Krillbite Studio
Genre: Indie, 2D, Experience, Short, atmospheric, Free to Play
Release Date: February 10, 2013
Reviewed on: PC
Available for: PC
Copy was free to play.

But what exactly is The Plan?
Essentially it’s a game where you play as a Fly. You start up the game and after clicking on „Play“, you immediately are thrown into the game where a fly is sitting on some foresty ground doing what flies do. Just sitting there. You don’t get any instructions until you eventually figure out that you can lift off the ground into the dreamy atmosphere of this beautiful experience. Using AWSD you’ll be able to manoeuvre through the air and explore the small world that you live in.

Eventually, you’ll see forests with its trees in the distance and fly higher and higher as you encounter threats of source like falling leaves that you have to dodge or strong winds that push you around. Overall the game is quite relaxing though, as there is no game-over for you. You just get thrown into this small world of a small fly and as you fly higher and higher you’ll see that the world grows bigger and the fly becomes smaller and smaller. Eventually, you’re seeing stars and a night-sky with its figures and dreaminess before eventually reaching your goal and succeeding in the plan.

The Plan is accompanied by a very atmospheric soundtrack, enabling you to get captured into the soundtrack while also providing a dreamy tune of sorts that you can listen to while enjoying your flight.

There is not much there when it comes to the gameplay but I can see that that’s not the goal. It’s more about the experience that the player has while playing the game. It’s interesting to see the world from a different perspective, even if it’s just in 2D.

The Plan succeeds in telling the tale of a fly and its pointless and brief existence. The “plan” being it leaving its birthground and going out into the vast world to eventually reach its goal and die – just like in real life. Our goal is essentially dying and nothing matters, as some philosophers would say. I really like these aspects of philosophical overthinking that is possible to some degree.

The Plan features one achievement called „Hey, Listen!“, which I found hilarious, and delivers a nice experience overall, even if it’s a bit short. You can have fun with this game and essentially just uninstall it later, nothing is lost. I enjoyed this short experience quite a lot and since it’s free, I’d definitely recommend The Plan to you guys as well.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this rather short review on a rather short game. There isn’t much to talk about when it comes to The Plan. I liked it, so I write about it – even with the review being just 569 words long, that’s okay in this case as I don’t think I could stretch it at all without spoiling any of its surprising elements.

Anyways, I hope that y’all have a nice morning, day, evening, night or whatever. Until the next time – Cheers!

Indietail – Among Ripples

In today’s Indietail, we’re looking at a short relaxing eco-system-management-game that is called Among Ripples. In this game, we control a pond’s ecosystem by adjusting the oxygen levels of the water, adding new creatures into the pond and seeing what happens.

Developer: Eat Create Sleep
Publisher: Eat Create Sleep
Genres: Free to Play, Casual, Simulation, Relaxing, Indie
Release Date: January 22, 2015
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC
Game is available on steam for free.

In the game, you spawn in Dace fish by clicking the spawning grounds in the middle of the lake bed, Perch fish by clicking on the spawning grounds on the left of the pond, Clams by clicking on the right spawning ground on the lake bed, Crayfish by clicking on the left spawning ground on the lake bed, Pike fish by clicking on the right spawning grounds, and finally the otter by clicking on the left reeds at the surface of the lake.

There’s a limit to how much you can spawn in at the same time. Once reached, you’ll have to wait until they either grow or die. While this is somewhat realistic as an eco-system cannot sustain itself if there are too many of just one species, I thought of it as rather bothersome as you couldn’t mess with the pond’s system by filling it all with just clams or just lobsters. That was kind of a let-down, to be honest.

By clicking and dragging the mouse to the left or the right, you can adjust the oxygen levels which affect algae growth but also affects each creature differently. Algae is the foundation of the food chain as the smallest fish usually feast on it while bigger fish feast one the smaller ones and so on. Oxygen levels also affect the life-span of the different species, although the otter seems to only be able to starve to death. He can’t suffocate as he’s never swimming to the surface and that’s just a bummer, I’d say. Of course, I find otters cute, and of course, I don’t want them to die but more or less I would have wanted some sort of realism. Otters that can’t find food migrate, for instance, and mammals that don’t have air, try to get it if that makes sense.

There is also some pollution in the lake, which is why you need to spawn in some clams here and there so that they can clear or rather filter the water. Clams seem to not like high oxygen-levels and are usually eaten by lobsters. Lobsters on the other hand also keep the ground clean as the dying fish create pollution of their own. It’s rather interesting to see these connections and to find out more about these animals, but I’m not too sure about the accuracy of these and honestly, I don’t care enough to research about it myself. Instead, it would have been quite nice if there was a toggle-able tooltip that explains what’s happening or what the different creatures do or what they like. Maybe it could have been some facts from different sources so that you learn more about these animals. Maybe there could have been a scientist-log where you discover different habits of the creatures.

For a simulation or a sandbox type, your options are rather limited in this game. You can’t spawn in too many creatures, you cannot speed up the game, you cannot spawn in any food of sorts to artificially grow columns of fishes or kill off the otter who’s eating everyone and everything. You cannot change the water temperature or add and remove plants from the pond. Instead, you’re given the task to “watch” the eco-system and “spawn creatures to see what happens” but there’s not much else to the gameplay, which is a bummer.

Other than that, the graphics are fine. Changing the settings doesn’t do much for you and doesn’t drop the framerate at all. The creatures and the environment are really pretty and seem to be hand-drawn which I applaud a lot.

The music is quite serene and fitting for the game. The devs promise a soundtrack that changes with the different seasons but there really isn’t much to it. The seasons aren’t noticeable at all and the music doesn’t change much. It’s more or less the same music but looped for the whole game. After listening to the same song for an hour, I can’t seem to get it out of my head, though that’s a bad thing in this case.

I think that Among Ripples is a game that you start for a few minutes, play around a bit, and then drop and uninstall later again. It’s free on steam and quite interesting at first but loses its replay-value eventually, which is a bummer. I think it’s worth trying out even though I don’t think that it’s to everyone’s liking. I played an hour of it in hope that the gameplay or my understanding of it gets changed dramatically as time passes but it honestly was more of a letdown, so while I reckon that it’s worth checking out (it’s free after all), I don’t really recommend it as there isn’t much to it.

As a side note, the Kickstarter campaign for Among Ripples: Shallow Waters has just started on the last Tuesday and seems to be quite promising. It looks like more of a Tycoon-type of game where you add plants and rocks to the pond, change the terrain, and work with other scientists in-game to rehabilitate lakes that have died out, have been polluted or even destroyed. You create families of fish and can spectate them in third-person. You will be able to research more tools and other species during the story-campaign for your mobile research-base.
While this first game seems to be more of a relaxing experiment, the second game seems to be a lot more ambitious and it’s actually something that I’d like to play.

Anyways, that’s it for today’s review. I hope you enjoyed this little dive into the pond. Check out the Kickstarter campaign if you want to or even support if you can spare a buck or two.

Cheers!

Indietail – Lightmatter

When I was younger I discovered a game called “Portal” and I just fell in love with it. It was one of the first “better looking” games that I played. The puzzles were interesting, the aesthetics were great, I loved the music, the humour was really dope and made me chuckle a lot, and I ended up just falling in love with the game overall. Portal 2 was great as well as it added new mechanics to the game and as it really added a lot to the overall story. There have been just so many new layers to it and GLaDOS was just great in that one. Oh, and Co-Op. I loved the Co-Op campaign and playing through it. I still need to take a look at the Timemachine fan-made content and play through that eventually, so I’ll look forward to that.

But in today’s review, we’re not talking about the Portal-franchise but rather about a small Indie Game called Lightmatter by Danish Studio, Tunnel Vision Games! Lightmatter is essentially a homage to all kinds of first-person puzzlers, including Portal. It even plays in the same universe (which was made possible due to a contact with Valve that the Publisher, Aspyr, had!) before the first game and overall feels like a love-letter to the whole genre with its shifting and mind-bending mechanics involving… Light… matter.

Developer: Tunnel Vision Games
Publisher: Aspyr
Genres: First-Person, Puzzle, Indie, 3D, Adventure
Release Date: January 15th, 2020
Reviewed on: PC
Available on:  PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Copy was purchased. (Full Game Upgrade)

Lightmatter can be described as “The Floor Is Lava!” but with Light and Shadows. Essentially, you’re in a scientific company, called Lightmatter, that tried to create a CORE which would be providing sustainable and renewable energy to millions, using a crystal that is able to materialize Light! Sounds great, doesn’t it?

Well… something went wrong during the launch and us, the protagonist, ended up not getting evacuated with the remaining guests that were part of the tour. So, the facility is falling apart and we have to get out of there: Though be careful: Just like Light, shadows also materialized and thus, you’re not allowed to touch any of them since they will absorb you and suck out any life you have in your brittle body!

Hence, Virgil, one of the CEOs of Lightmatter (voiced by David Bateson), is accompanying us throughout the facility in order to guide us into freedom and help us get out of here. Virgil is more of a sinister character. He’s unfriendly and very rude in the beginning but begins to open up over time as we solve puzzles after puzzles to reach the goal, in the end. He tells us about the project and his plans. He tells us about his achievements and what went wrong and over time he develops as a character, revealing his hatred towards journalists and his arguments with his former partner. He even compares himself to Cave Johnson, who was alive at the time before eventually dying to moonstone-poisoning, and he’s even putting himself over Cave.

Virgil’s first appearance!

David Bateson is able to breathe so much life into this wonderful character that Virgil is. He’s an overall fan-favourite in the community and is able to fill the gaps and pauses in between and during puzzles just wonderfully. When you take too long to open a door or move on, he’ll mock you in a cynic and rude way that just makes you chuckle. He’s like GLaDOS but male and less robotic (and less potato-y). He’s very charming and charismatic in a way and he really tried his best to provide the world with a… brighter future, even though all his efforts were for nought in the end, as the project ultimately failed.

Gameplay-wise the game is working with a ton of different elements. Since shadows are dangerous, you need to illuminate your pathway to the next exit using lamps. These lamps, however, are rather heavy, resulting in you not being able to jump with them, ultimately making the game a lot harder than it would be if you could. You have to rethink your approach to a level quite often – and while earlier levels are rather easy to solve with just a button press needed, later levels get rather difficult.

James and Lux!

But while difficult, you never really get set back too much and it never really feels too punishing. And while every lamp provides only limited light to a cone in front of it, you never had to fiddle your way to the end. It was more about utilizing the tools and mechanics you learned and then bending the rules to fit your goal. The game also works with other mechanics like shifting platforms, buttons that are activated via light, and other cool mechanics that I don’t want to spoil here.

Even falling into the shadows just resets the level a little bit (your last lamp-movement mostly) and brings you back to the last checkpoint. The shadows are like an obstacle, not a punishment. And that’s something I really appreciate about Lightmatter. Dying doesn’t feel frustrating and the puzzles were challenging enough for me to have fun and yet not just rush through the levels.

THE CORE! IT’S SO BRIGHT!

Rushing through the levels would have been bad, after all, since most of them are riddled with small secrets and collectables. You can find out more about the backstory by finding tape-recorders with Elle’s voice. You can also try to search for Lux, the security manager James’ cat! Here and there you also find other little easter eggs like a bath duck in a corner or the Gravity Falls journal, so levels are really fun to explore.

And then there is the presentation. The graphics really play with the Lights and the shadows, and hence with a lot of contrasts. I feel like the levels were designed quite well and ended up providing a lot of detail in rooms that were mostly riddled with shadows or filled with light. It never was just one thing or the other. When there is light, there are also shadows, which also reflects the question behind the whole game: At what cost can you ensure a brighter future? What risks would you take to save millions? What’s one life when waged against many, or rather a few hundred against the rest of humanity?

Dev Commentary: Lasse and Ulrik talking about one leve of the game here.

The music is quite ominous quite often and really got into my head. While Virgil is talking about his arguments and his struggles to complete this plan, there is this ominous and enigmatic sound lingering in the background that is just quiet enough for it not to be overwhelming but also loud enough for you to notice it.
The game even provides you, when turned on, with the devs’ commentary if you want to play through the levels for another time and hear something about the development and different stages of the game.

But flaw-wise… there isn’t really much to talk about here. I think that Lightmatter really is a very well-crafted game that is able to create a wonderful experience when you play it through the first time or when you even play it for a second time to unlock a different ending. Here and there I felt like there are times where a small “hint”-button would have been quite neat as there are two levels that are a bit tricky to solve, especially when you don’t know about moving sideways, which is something that even the devs noted themselves. It’s something that FPS-players will find normal while other people might not find that understandable and which would take them a while. But overall it didn’t really bother me too much. Apart from that, having a few other ways to engage and interact with your environment and objects would have been quite neat. There’s a vending machine at one point that can be used but apart from that there is not much to click and push in the levels.

Coming to a conclusion, I’d say that Lightmatter really is a love-letter to First-Person-Puzzlers that manages to not only create a beautiful atmosphere in challenging puzzle-levels but also create its own identity, so that it doesn’t seem like “just another puzzle game”. It really is creative in how it unfolds the story and how it makes you utilize different aspects of the game and you can essentially taste the blood, sweat and tears that the devs put into this lovely game. I’m chuffed to bits.

Beating the game takes about six hours, I’d say, or more if you explore more or need to take more time for certain puzzles. It took me about two hours to get through the first half of the game and about three or four hours to beat the second half.. and to unlock other endings you can also just hop into single levels later on, so there is no backtracking needed. The Dev-Commentary also adds a whole new level to it with voice notes that are four to nine minutes long and tell you more about the process of the level-design and different changes in the game, as well as funny things like running-gags (a cat called Lux) becoming a real thing and getting put into the actual game. It’s well worth a listen if you’re into that kind of thing!

The first hour of the game can be played for free on steam while the rest of the game can be purchased with a single upgrade, which I find quite fair. It’s worth the full price, I’d say but of course, you can also wait for sales or just playtest the demo first. Definitely a recommendation from me!

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed this review. Until the next time, have a nice day! 🙂

I wonder if they have Dr Pepper in there…

Cheers!

TSS#42 – #LoveYourBacklog Week 2020

This Friday is Valentine’s Day and you know who most of us probably haven’t shown any love to, yet? The backlog of games in our library!

Kim from Later Levels wrote about this topic on her blog and started a movement of bloggers out there sharing some love for their backlogs! Yay!

But then again, it doesn’t affect me as much as it should, really. I take my time getting to games I want to get to, and ever since I started blogging and streaming, I’ve been able to cover a lot more games than usual, resulting in my backlog only being at a whopping 723 unplayed games! Yay! Out of a total of 823 Games and about 325 DLCs! If you wanna stare at my massive library, you can do so over here at my profile.

I could swear that my numbers here were bigger and that I was well above 900 games, to be honest, but maybe Steam stopped counting DLCs as their own games, resulting in the shrink at these numbers. Anyways, this week there are bloggers all over the world who are essentially nominating games for a few different categories! On top of that, there is going to be a whole month dedicated to one game out of our backlog and personally… I’d be excited about that, although I’m not sure if I’ll be able to play too much in March. We’ll see about that. 

Anyways, let’s begin with the Nominations!

A game you’re eager to play, but haven’t yet started

This one would be Sniper Elite 4 or Lightmatter. I own both of these games and they both seemed quite interesting. Since I love sniping in shooter-games, I thought that SE4 might be a great addition to my backlog, especially since it was rather cheap at the moment. And as for Lightmatter… it seemed like an interesting Indie Game but even though I installed it, I haven’t been able to play it, yet. 

Now, Lightmatter is quite interesting and I already planned on featuring that in the next Indietail-Review, but as far as SE4 goes… I don’t think that I’ll get the time to play it any time soon as I currently am playing the heck out of Monster Hunter World!

A game you’ve started several times but haven’t yet finished

A game that comes to my mind in this category is Undertale. Honestly, it’s a great game and what makes it so great is especially the community around it. The music is the best part about the game and the humour and characters are written quite well, but I never got to finish it. I started it up again the other day and only played so much of it before eventually uninstalling it again. Maybe I’ll play through it one day… but not for now.

The most recent addition to your library

My most recent additions are The Pedestrian and Coffee Talk. I bought them at the same time in the same purchase, so I guess I’ll have to nominate them both. 

The Pedestrian has been great so far! I’ve only played it for two hours on stream before getting to a point where I was just really tired and wanting to head to bed. And afterwards, I didn’t really get a chance to play it (yet! Will soon play it again, I promise!). The soundtrack, presentation and the puzzles are just incredible and it has this unique idea that is just… delightful. I love it to bits.

As for Coffee Talk, I played it for about two hours and then didn’t touch it for a week but I also am planning to play through that before eventually turning it into a review-post. So, you’ll have to wait to hear my opinion on that one, I guess. So far, though, it’s been just lovely. 🙂

The game which has spent the most time on your backlog

The game that spent the most time on my backlog is apparently Realm of the Mad God but I’m not sure if it counts as it’s been last played on March 23rd, 2014 for an hour (that was my birthday six years ago!). A while later, on July 19th, 2014 Gun Monkeys and East Indie Company Gold found their way into my library but I could play these titles back then, so I ended up not playing them at all “for now” (and here I am, six years later, still not having played these games).

The person responsible for adding the most entries to your backlog

That person probably is past-me who went for every game-giveaway there was back then in order to receive tons of free games. My first ever game on Steam was Dino D-Day. I didn’t buy it but received it for free via Indie-Gala if I remember correctly. Back then I ended up getting a ton of other games as well and I really liked playing a lot of them. The first-ever game I bought was Don’t Starve Together, though, which I’ve played for only twenty hours in the last four years. That’s quite sad, isn’t it? Apart from that, present-me occasionally grabs a title here and there from the steam store and Humble Bundle also provides me with a lot of cool games for a nice price that helps charity organisations around the world, so I guess those people are responsible for that.

Anyways, this is basically my post. Follow the hashtag #LoveYourBacklog to find out about other people’s posts! Share some love to your backlog or try to get to it at your own pace without stressing too much about it. I personally get bored quite often from just one game and swap to the next one when that happens but right now I really am busy with Monster Hunter World, so that probably won’t happen any time soon for me personally. We’ll see.

Until then, cheers!

The MonHunLog #1 – The Elder Dragoning

In today’s MonHunLog I’d like to talk about the new weapon I discovered and got to love. The Insect Glaive. We also fought our first Elder Dragons and since we tasted blood, we’ll fight three more in the next play-session and document those in the next MonHunLog!

Now, the Insect Glaive is a special one. Essentially it’s a spear that is working with a so-called “Kinsect”. Not only do you have several slashes, thrusts and other attacks but you can also launch yourself into the air and slice through monster or even mount them without having to jump off a ledge. Handy!

Glamourous as ever! I really fancy this layered armour 🙂

Before, I’ve been mainly playing with the Hammer and the Gunlance. Here and there I was playing with the Bow as well since I couldn’t really play with the hammer against flying monsters but with the Kinsect Glaive, I’m actually in the air non-stop and am even able to mount monsters without having to use flash pods to bring flying monsters into the ground. You’re extremely mobile with the Kinsect Glaive and even fast monsters have trouble keeping up with you.

Another aspect of the Insect Glaive is… well… the Insect. You essentially equip a Kinsect that you nurture and evolve using materials. There are a lot of different trees that you can evolve your Kinsect into. I’m currently playing around with the Bullshroud II from the Gullshad Lineage (Tree), which resembles more of a Butterfly than any other bug. It evolves out of a Mauldrone and has a bunch of nice stats. For instance, I can shoot it out to create a dust effect when it hits a Monster. When I strike said dust effect, I get healed for a portion of my health, which is very nice. Instead of using the Vigorwasp Spray (Palico Gadget), I instead now go for the Coral Orchestra which I’ve only just unlocked!

The Coral Orchestra allows my Palico to boost my attack, defence or status resistances with music. I can go for a bit of a more an aggressive playstyle while still heal myself with the Kinsects now, which is quite neat!

The Kinsect also can be used to harvest extracts from a monster’s body part. You then recall the Kinsect to receive one out of four extracts with a different effect based on the colour. The red extract improves the attack, white extract makes you move faster, green extract restores health and orange extract prevents you from getting knocked back while attacking. Apparently, you get hybrid effects from multiple colours but I still need to look into that, using a guide of sorts. Maybe that’s something for the next MonHunLog.

Mission-wise, we first hunted down to Tzitzi-Ya-Ku that were troubling a few feline troopers in the Coral Highlands. Using the Insect Glaive we were either able to mount these before they could stun us OR just dash away to avoid the annoying stun effect. Therefore, it was a rather easy fight. As a reward for helping out the troopers, we received the Coral Orchestra Palico Gadget that I’ve mentioned before.

Afterwards, we went for the Food Chain Dominator quest and began to hunt down Deviljho! Deviljho resembles more of a big black pickle that spits out black clouds onto you to inflict Dragon Blight! But not only does it have this ranged attack but it also features some massive chompers that allow it to eat anything and everything! It got into a turf war with a Tobi Kadachi at one point during my hunt and it actually won without taking too much damage. Free Tobi Kadachi materials, I guess?

Its metabolism is so fast that it has to go for any prey it can see, resulting in its increased jaw strength. One of its attacks features a furious bite-attack where it lashes out four to six times in a row, dealing humongous amounts of damage! There’s also an Uppercut-like Attack where it launches you into the air, making you vulnerable to its attacks as it can just bring you down rather fast. And when you try to keep your distance, it just jumps at you, burying its massive mouth into the ground, trying to make the last meal you had your last meal at all! Wowsers!

But in the end, we brought it down rather quickly. The Deviljho has week points at the belly and the head, so essentially mounting it and then unleashing a flurry of attacks on its head is rather effective, especially if you then strike its sensitive belly afterwards until it gets back up again!
The armour we can craft from Deviljho looks weird in my opinion but I could see myself crafting it for my Palico, Tammy!

The next quest we tackled was the Event-5-Star-Quest, Kirin The Myth! Kirin is a unicorn-esque Elder Dragon that is able to summon lightning down onto you. It also features a lot of strong dash-attacks but doesn’t really do much else besides that. There are also some AoE-attacks and it can also inflict paralysis onto you, which can be rather difficult to deal with if you get hit multiple times.. but that’s nothing that can’t be taken care of, using Nulberries. Kirin’s weakness is mainly fire damage – it’s resistance to paralysis and shock-damage, though, so you better equip a different weapon if you focus on those kinds of effects.

When you fight it, it will dash around a lot, so having a rather mobile or even ranged weapon would be quite neat. The lightning-strikes it launches come either from above on multiple random spots in the close area around it or from on top of it in a stronger and more effective way, dealing a lot of damage, or in some stripes across the ground. The latter can be dodged rather easily by not standing in the area affected by its attacks or by jumping at the right time. The other two attacks can be dodged by standing a bit farther away from it. I found the Kirin Fight rather easy, to be honest, especially since we can just mount it a few times and then hammer down on the horn, using the Insect Glaive (I might as well main this weapon, it’s a lot of fun!).

Ded unicorn

The Event-Quest, Kirin the Myth, features two Kirins, though, so you may have to look out for the second one. Still… this fight was rather tame, so I wouldn’t be too worried about it for now. Maybe it gets harder in the later ranks of the game – after all, I only played the Five-Star-Event-Quest (which is in Low-Rank, I guess?).
The armour looks quite neat, though, although it doesn’t really have nice stats in the low-rank version.

After slaying our first non-canon Elder Dragon for this Event-Quest, I went ahead and attempted my hunt on Nergigante, the first canon-Elder that we’ve got to hunt down to restore the balance in the ecosystem. Before, we’ve encountered Nergigante when we tried to capture Zorah Magdaros and when we lead Zorah Magdaros into the sea. Nergigante is an Elder Dragon that feasts on other Elder Dragons and therefore can be found in Elder’s Recess. It is covered in Splinters and Horns on various body parts and features a few dash and lunge attacks, making it quite tricky to beat. It also deals huge amounts of damage with my current High-Rank-Armour-Loadout (partly Defender-Armour but also the Harvest Coil, the Skull Mask and the Dragon Resistance Charm).

When you hit or break different parts of its body, it recovers them by adding more splinters to them that get harder over time to the point where you deal no damage to it. Fresh splinters are still white and turn black over time. Hitting the white spots is key to slaying Nergigante as these horns are still fresh and soft, receiving more damage. Once hardened, they receive less damage and your attacks get repelled of it.

In the end, we managed to only faint once and eventually slay it rather quickly, which I was rather surprised by! Although we’ve slain it, the balance in the eco-system still wasn’t restored, so our quest continues as we try to beat Kushala Daora, the Dragon of Steal, as well as Teostra the Infernal and the Hellish Fiend Vaal Hazak, as these Elder Dragons from the Old World have shown up in the New World now! Fearing Nergigante’s endless hunger, they fled Elder’s Recess and made the Ancient Forest, the Wildspire Waste, and the Rotten Vale their hunting grounds. So, after a little bit of research, we now have the chance to fight these Elder Dragons and, yet again, try to bring balance to the eco-system – but that’s something for the next MonHunLog.

The Nergigante Armour looks rather dope, to be honest, and has decent skills and stats, so I might go with this one in the future, if I grind enough Nergigantes. The -15 vs. Thunder and the -9 vs. Dragon, however, isn’t really that nice… I’d love it if you could have normal armour as your layoured armour. That would be great!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. I very much enjoyed fighting these new monsters and unlocking the armours for them. Sadly, the Defender Weapon very much can carry me through all of this as the last level of the Defender Glaive is able to top every other weapon (so far) by more than 200 damage! Also, while the Defender Glaive’s element is blast (which usually is really strong against all types of Monsters), the Kinsect can be customized to have a different Element and different effects depending on the combination of weapon and Kinsect you use.

Anyways, I’ll see you in the next post. Have a nice day! Cheers!

Our Character is astonished at the sight of all these Elder Dragons! Just look at my try to recreate Handsome Jack in Monster Hunter World! 😀 Isn’t he gorgeous?

The MonHunLog #0 – Pilot

I planned on making a few posts about my experience with Monster Hunter World and the monsters I’d encounter and capture or slay… and then I ended up forgetting to take screenshots. Well, now I’m at the beginning of the High-Rank missions with a good amount of hours in the game (37 hours used to be a lot for me a while ago), so I decided to stop procrastinating and actually write up some of these posts. This is going to be the first of (hopefully) many posts and it will essentially explain what happened so far.

In a world where monsters and humans coexist, we are a so-called A-lister Hunter who decided to join the Fifth Fleet of the Research Commission. The Research Commission is a team of researchers and hunters who specialize in maintaining a healthy ecosystem around the world by either culling a good number of smaller monsters or by slaying or capturing bigger monsters that are threatening the balance of the food chain and the whole area.

Every century, the most powerful monsters, the so-called Elder Dragons, traffic the oceans to reach the New World but for some unknown reason the frequency of this event changed and the Elder Crossing happens every decade instead! That’s why we, the Fifth Fleet, are travelling into the New World to find out about the reason behind all of this and to establish a healthy ecosystem.

That’s basically the plot so far. At the beginning of the game, we encounter a giant lava-monster called Zorah Magdaros that is as big as an entire island and that is on its way to the New World. This monster has been showing up in a lot of places and has been wreaking havoc. Due to spoilers, I won’t tell what happened to it, but I must say that it was great fighting it and its fellow elder buddy, Nergigante (although we only repelled Nergigante and didn’t get to fight it… yet!).

Anyways, that’s basically the story as far as I remember it. We essentially gear up, chose a weapon, slay monsters for quests and bounties, then forge new weapons and armour pieces out of monster-parts that make us look cool and that essentially help us get stronger… and then we rinse and repeat.

For the first few hours of the game, I played with the Defender Warhammer as it not only carries you through a good portion of the game but it also lets you stun enemies with powerful attacks. The Defender Armour Set is actually able to carry you through the Low-Rank missions. You don’t really take huge amounts of damage from a lot of monsters and there aren’t any better options for you at this point. It’s the perfect catch-up armour to go for when preparing for Iceborne Content, I guess, but since I haven’t played through the Main Game yet and since I don’t own Iceborne either, this armour set made my game experience a bit less enjoyable.

Hence, I sometimes switched to less powerful armour sets that offered me nice other skills and while it was quite challenging, I ended up having a lot more fun.

However, I’ve reached High-Rank now and the Defender Armour is actually not that good compared to other armour pieces, which is why I’ve got to grind up for other parts, like the HR-Legiana-Armour or even the Bazelgeuse-Armour. I’ll have to look into that and will keep ya up-to-date in that regards.

The overall concept of slaying and capturing monsters, grinding materials and then getting stronger was already known to me from other games but I’ve never actually played any of the other Monster Hunter games, resulting in this being a first for me. I found combat quite fun actually and a lot of the times I was just staring at the screen in awe due to the beautiful worlds, the vast variety of monsters and animals, and the cool looking armour pieces and weapons.

I really enjoyed the game so far but now that I’ve reached High-Rank (and there’s more to come), I’m really looking forward to crafting up weapons and armour pieces, grinding materials, and challenging myself with the newest types of quests and bounties. I feel like MHW is the right game for me. It’s scratching that certain itch that I needed right now. It’s so good that I can’t finish up my latest reviews or play more Destiny 2, wohoo. I like it a lot so far.

I’m pleased to bits with Monster Hunter Worlds and I can’t wait to play more of it. If you’d like to join me in my adventures, feel free to add me on steam or join our steam group, Indiecator. So far I’m only playing Monster Hunter World using the Gunlance, Hammer and Bow, but I have tried out other weapons and found some of them really interesting, so I’m quite keen on trying them out.

I’m really looking forward to playing more Monster Hunter World and to post about it on here. I only just started out in High Rank, so I can’t wait to see what’s coming next.

Until then,
Cheers!

Raid: Shadow Legends and why I don’t like mobile games

There are some mobile games out there that are actually quite good. The first Plants vs. Zombies game, for instance, was great! There are also “Arcade”-style games like Pac Man or Space Invaders that are actually well-ported and very much play- and enjoyable on the phone. I also had my fair share of puzzle games in the past, like Doodle God or Sudoku and even know I sometimes install a Chess-App, just to not get too rusty before visiting my parents and playing against my father.

But when I say I don’t like most mobile games, I’m talking about games that are so obnoxiously advertised on all forms of social networks and YouTube videos. Games that are falsely advertised on a lot of ends with gameplay stolen from “actual games” that have nothing to do with the actual gameplay inside of the App. Games whose developers bribe people into sponsorships with a whole lot of money to make them say stuff like “innovative gameplay”, “console-level graphics”, and “absolutely free to play and a lot of fun”, even when they don’t mean it or even when they don’t even play the game themselves.

And while the latter is nothing to be judged – after all, I’ve heard that there is a whole lot of money involved when you get one of those deals and some people really need that money when they make YouTube or Streaming their full-time-job – it is quite concerning when huge Streamers and YouTubers promote stuff that they don’t believe in, which may result in kids playing gambling-style games. In Germany (and probably other countries) there has been the case of “Coin Master” which got promoted by a whole lot of people that have a fanbase of 13-18 years. Coin Master is getting suspected of being artificial gambling and there has been a debate about it being prohibited altogether for kids, as it doesn’t even hide the slot-machine-aspect of it and as it’s unplayable without using money.

But today’s post isn’t about Coin Master. It’s about a game that exactly uses the “innovative and immersive gameplay”, “console-level graphics” and “free to play and a lot of fun”-keywords, amongst others. We’re talking about “Raid: Shadow Legends”, a game that is shit, I assumed. And then I installed it. To find out if it’s actually as bad as I thought. And I must say, it’s worse.

Now, when you play the game on your phone you’ll realise that the game itself doesn’t look as pretty as you’d expect for “console-level graphics”. If you use “console-level”, you should elaborate on what kind of graphics you mean. N64-era graphics were great and Raid Shadow Legends is better than. Xbox One level graphics are great – Raid can’t be compared to that, though. The graphics are alright. At some point, I played it on PC instead of using my phone, due to storage-limitations that made my phone’s other functions not work properly. On PC, you need to create an account, then download a launcher, download that game on the said launcher and then you end up getting thrown into the game.

In-game you then chose your starter-hero out of four classes. A Ranger, a Mage, a Barbarian and a Templer/Paladin. Then you go through a little tutorial and go start “playing” the game.

Playing the game means that you select a dungeon to run through, then fight in three to four combats, including one stronger enemy at the end or even a boss monster. Combat is turn-based and not that immersive or innovative. You click on an attack and select an enemy to attack. Then the next enemy or ally gets to attack. You can speed it up to double-speed if you don’t feel like seeing the animations play so slowly. An option to turn them off altogether would have been neat as well but I couldn’t find anything like that.

The little depth there is.

Around level three, you unlock the “auto”-function. With it, you don’t need to do anything anymore apart from selecting the next mission, hence getting rid of the little gameplay that is existent in the game. If you feel like training your characters more, you may as well use the “Multi battle” feature which allows you to queue up 15 runs, so that you save the time that is needed to click on two buttons between run.

Another aspect of the game is the collection of characters. You unlock them by paying silver to open Shards that then unlock the characters you then can train. These characters have stars depending on rarity and are stronger the higher the star-rating is. Legendary shards have a higher chance on Super Rare characters while normal shards have an insanely low one to get said Super Rares. In the beginning, you will have to open some for the tutorial and probably receive something rare, despite the odds, due to the devs wanting you to see what “great units” there are. Despite them being stronger, these characters then still need to get trained, equipped and skilled.

182 Defense! Less clothes mean more armour after all!

The game brags about “over 300 unique champions” when instead there’s maybe 50 different once and a ton of variations of the same characters with just different clothes and more or less clothing on. Female characters usually are busty or half-naked, because of more skin that is shown means more armour, right? Meanwhile, guys are either muscular or armoured. There are some more androgyne males in the game but those are usually elven mages or something like that. There is not much uniqueness between characters apart from colours and clothing.

While they may vary in looks, characters have the most boring names ever with a few exceptions. There’s “Magekiller”, “Sniper”, “Bully”, “Knight”, “Shadowkiller”, a different coloured “Magekiller” that just looks like Magekiller but has a different element, and the list goes on with stupid names without any character or back-story of sorts. “300 unique champions” is something you have in this game if you close your eyes, imagine 300 unique characters and then dance in a circle until your wish of these “300 champions” becoming unique comes true.

Oh nice! I got a Lvl. 1 Uncommon character called “Sniper”. Now that’s rad. Not.

Skills usually are the same for most characters with single-target or multi-target spells. There are some status effects here and there like poison, fire and debuffs, I guess, but nothing too strategic or innovative. I found a Support-Character who can protect allies and heal them but there still is no depth to the gameplay. When you play it on Auto-Mode the A.I. does exactly what you’d do. Some may call it “smart programming” others may call it “making the obvious move and just doing the simplest and best way of winning the round”.

Now, to participate in those fights and continue with the poorly-written run-off-the-mill story, you need Energy. Just like in other games, Energy recharges over time and can be refilled using micro-transactions. These micro-transactions are really expensive for the most part, so you either have to wait it out or you take a deep dive into your pocket. You can pay for Jewels (cash), Silver (in-game currency) and all sorts of bundles that combine characters, jewels and gear, and eventually you will have to pay again to continue with the game as it is.

The skill tree that requires you to buy scrolls in starter-kits using real money. Wohoo.

In my two-hours of “gameplay”, I hit a road-block where enemies were too strong for my current party and the only way of progressing would have been to get Legendary Shards and have luck with the rolls, resulting in four-star-characters as most of my party-members were at max-level, already. Now, I tried enhancing them using other characters and raising their star-levels but it didn’t seem to increase their strength at all. So, my options were limited as a free-to-play-player who doesn’t want to spend money on a game like this, so I stopped playing.

And that’s probably the point where a lot of people would say that nobody is forced to play the game or that the game isn’t forcing you to pay money for it. BUT – and that’s a big “but” – the game is actually manipulating the player quite easily with a ton of obnoxious pop-ups that give you better offers for skill-books, gems, shards, jewels and gear. In my first two minutes of “gameplay”, my screen was covered in pop-ups for a lot of time. The “game” offered me limited-time offers that were up to 90% better than the usual shop offers… but they are only available for the next fifty minutes! Oh no! And the timer is ticking down! What should I do now? I am in fear of missing out (FOMO) and may want to grab this nice deal that allows me to play the game and suddenly I’m buying something in this shitshow of a game that is abusing people that might suffer from FOMO and that might be easily manipulated. Like kids that are playing it on their parents’ phone or kids that know how to access their parents’ data. And parents that think that this is what their kid needs because of all the other kids in school having it already. Welp.

An offer you can get right now that isn’t limted time-wise.

And that’s the last point I’d mention about this game. It’s a pay-to-win shit-game with essentially no gameplay to it that gets rid of its own gameplay by introducing an “Auto-Battle”-button to it and that essentially requires of you that you pay something to gamble for good characters before venturing into the dungeons again where you then stumble across the point of pay-to-win-iness. There is also PvP in the game but it’s not based on skill or strategic know-how but purely on who invested more money into the game to get powerful units. The gameplay is limited to a few clicks per battle. It’s not immersive or innovative at all. The graphics are not bad but they aren’t on – what I’d call – “console-level”. The characters are overly sexualised with no variety or diversity.

Raid: Shadow Legends is not a roleplaying game, it’s, at most, a glorified Gacha-game with turn-based combat and false advertisement. There are issues in this game like the abuse of FOMO and the pay-to-win-aspect. And I honestly don’t get why people would play it, apart from the instant-gratification some people may get from gambling.

“Gameplay”

So, that’s it for the post. I’m sorry if it turned into a rant. I tried to look at the good aspects of the game until I realised that there are no good aspects to it.

As a last point: Why don’t I like mobile games? Well, most of them are filled with micro-transactions and have nothing else to offer, so I don’t like them and usually don’t think much about it. Raid: Shadow Legends managed to not meet my already super-low expectations and is a shit show of a game if you can even call it a “game”.

Have a nice day!