Looking forward to Partisans 1941

Today, on the Lookout Post, we’re taking a look at an up-and-coming game developed by Alter Games and published by Daedalic Entertainment called Partisans 1941. In Partisans 1941, you explore WWII from the side of the Polish partisans – an occupation resistance movement on the Eastern Front.

In this game, you discover how the story of Captain Zorin and his comrades unfold, how they battle the Nazi invaders and how they help the people while struggling to survive from day to day. While the story and its characters are purely fictional, the setting is very real and doesn’t always get explored in games, which is why I found this game so alluring.

To write this post, I played the Demo available on Steam. Check it out yourself to get your own opinions of it. The game comes out on October 14th, so be sure to wishlist it!

As Commander Zorin, you escape the enemy – known as the “Polizei” – and try to flee with your comrades. You have to sneak away from enemy soldiers, find loot and weapons, equip yourself and use your wits against the enemy to make sure that everyone makes it out alive. 

Gameplay-wise, Partisans 1941 combines Real-Time-Tactics with Stealth mechanics, allowing you to sneak around and set up ambushes. Of course, you can also just storm the castle and try getting them that way but more often than not, you’re at a disadvantage on top of them being better equipped than you. 

I really enjoyed being stealthy and sneaking around, spectating and observing the enemies movements and their paths. Right-clicking on enemies shows their vision cones. Pressing Alt allows you to see doors, loot, and places to hide in. You can silently kill enemies, drag their bodies away and hide them in the bushes before making your way through levels, and it’s actually quite well done. It doesn’t feel slow or too easy at any given time. While still giving you a hand and explaining things to you, the first few levels left me impressed at how challenging the game can get and how nice it feels to make it without casualties. 

Each character features their own skill tree with abilities and passive bonuses that improve their ability to wield certain weapons or give them better chances of survival overall. Zorin’s able to throw knives, for instance, making for an easy stealth kill at times, although you’ll have to retrieve your knife afterwards. 

The demo lasts about 90 minutes (at least, in my case) and features the first few levels. I noticed no bugs yet and was impressed with the quality of the demo. I can’t wait for the full-release. The music and visuals have been really nice and overall, I really did enjoy the voice acting and how the game felt. 

The full game is going to contain 20 unique mission scenarios, 8 different characters with unique skills, a large variety of weapons, armaments and equipment, on top of a moral system, side missions, errands and the resistance base. The latter being used for preparations, crafting and treatment but also to help your allies survive. Judging from press screenshots, you’ll be able to accumulate a vast variety of weapons on top of preparing your allies according to different needs.

Overall, Partisans 1941 seems to be a promising title. 

Cheers!

Mystery Blogger Award! We got atagged by Meg!

So, Quietschisto dared to tag us for the Sunshine Blogger Award and I wanted to make a post about that one but then I got reminded that a certain geeky gal called Megan actually tagged me for the Mystery Blogger Award… in March! Oh no, we’re super late! Meghan, thanks for the tag. I honestly forgot about it because other stuff came up! 

The rules are a bit of the usual, I guess:

  • Thank the blogger and link to them (which should be a given)
  • Display the award logo on your blog (which I’m gonna do in this post)
  • Mention the creator of the award + link
  • List the rules
  • Tell your readers three things about yourself
  • Answer five questions from the nominator
  • Ask your nominees any five questions of your choice, including one weird or funny question
  • Nominate 10 to 20 bloggers
  • Notify the bloggers by leaving a comment on their blog (though, I’d just message them where possible)
  • Share the link to your best post

Now, as far as the award goes… I’m just going to copy-paste this from Meghan’s site as it seems to be a quote on her end as well.

“According to the creator, Okoto, “Mystery Blogger Award” is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging, and they do it with so much love and passion.”

I’m not sure if my blog captivates, inspires or motivates, but I sure do know that I love blogging and that it brings me fun, joy and entertainment. I’m really bad at taking compliments and I have yet to get better at that but since that last part is there, I thought… you know… might as well go for that. 🙂 

Three things about me:

  • My eyesight is really bad. That’s mostly because of me growing really fast as a kid and my eyes just couldn’t keep up or something… and eventually, it started to reflect in my eyesight getting worse and worse. Right now I’m at -3.75 and -4.00 diopters and effectively, I could get it fixed but I’m scared of potential risks involved in surgery/laser-therapy and hence, I just rock these glasses until it gets better on its own or until I have time and guts to do that laser thing. 
  • I’m insanely bad at introducing myself and telling people something about myself. This may come as no surprise since I did that post, ages ago, and now I’m doing this thing here and the “three things about me” are turning a bit meta and boring… but yeah, I’m super bad at this kind of stuff, so I’m just listing the first/best three things I could come up with. 
  • My favourite colour is purple and I nearly would have gone to Prom in a purple suit… but then I found this Bordeaux red suit and fell in love with it… I looked fabulous if I do say so myself, although I would have been the best-looking person on the Prom even with the purple suit. Now, my self-esteem is getting better overall but it’s still hard to say that kinda stuff about myself and like actually mean it… although, I know that all of my fellow students were boring and had these lame blue and black suits… this is a party and not a funeral, nerds. 

Now, if I were to link my “best post”, I wouldn’t actually know which post to link. In terms of “best-performing” post, I’d clearly have to go with my review on Fall Guys that did get an overwhelming amount of views in the first couple and days and is still outperforming all of my other posts. But I actually don’t like that post too much as it was a bit rough and just kind of turned into a review after a while… and I don’t know. My “best post” would probably be more like my review on Outer WildsBefore I Forget or Girl By The Sea. I really enjoyed writing those and I noticed that I did a “good job” with those reviews while I was editing them. Hence, uh, there’s that!

The Questions that Meghan answered were quite interesting although I find the obsession with aliens a bit concerning… But let’s get into her questions:

  • What game or gaming moment made you laugh the hardest?

I honestly can’t remember the last time that I really “laughed out loud”/LOL’d at a game. Hades, however, has a few nice bits and pieces here and there in the conversations that I found quite fun. There’s also this one scene in DMC: Devil May Cry where Dante is facing this big giant spider-guy and they just say “fuck you” to each other for a solid minute. “Fuck you.” – “No, fuck you!” – “No, fuck you.” – “No, fuck you!!!!” – or something like that, which I found quite funny at the time. And then there are some badass-ish moments in Serious Sam that I found quite nice… generally, I kind of laugh because of certain moments but usually, I don’t really “laugh out loud”. 

  • Which character (games, book, shows, etc.) would be your best friend and why?

Now, this is a tough question as well since I don’t think it’s a good idea to get more friends. In our day and age, it’s hard enough to maintain healthy and close relationships to people already… and now you want me to add another character to my five offline friends? I don’t think that’s gonna work too well… unless of course, it’s Orpheus from Hades or Echidna from Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu’s 2nd Season (Part 1). Orpheus would be a very chill friend to be around. We could just hang around and be all melancholic, depressed and romantic together. Potentially, a song or two by him could lift the mood at times… 

BUT I don’t think we should choose a character strictly for our own benefits! No, no! Instead, we should consider them friends and think about how we could help them. I could cuddle with Orpheus and give him feedback in regards to his new writings… and we could go for a drink together for some inspiration or I could listen to him about him and Euridice and his love and all of that. I’d like to help him.

Meanwhile, Echidna would just be cool to hang around with. She’s an interesting character that knows a ton (meaning that we’d be able to talk about a lot, potentially) and we could have tea parties together, minus body fluids. I’d love to share my tea collection with more friends! With the pandemic and all of that, I sadly don’t exactly get the chance to share my tea collection with others… 

Alas, I’d be able to grant Echidna my knowledge and listen to her and talk to her and stuff, which is extra cool since I’m alive and she’s dead. Uhm, I would also be able to provide her with some of my favourite teas here including a liquorice-mint-tea and a green-tea with vanilla in it! That’s gotta be better than body fluids! I feel like that could work out quite well.

  • What life skill(s) have you learned from playing video games?

I’d say none but I guess that’d be a lie. After a lot of thinking, I’d go for “speaking and typing English” although a lot of that came from media consumption in general as well as school… so movies, shows, music, poems, books, games, and lessons all helped me learn English. Through video games, I connected with other people and was able to share my thoughts on things and talk to them and learn more, obviously. By getting to know a lot of people from all over the world, I got to talk to more people – using my English skills while also improving them. In the end, I wouldn’t say that video games taught me English… rather, they improved my English a bunch or they gave me opportunities to learn more and get better. 

Alas, I didn’t really get any better at any life skill(s) thanks to video games, unless you accept my previous answer which shouldn’t count since it’s not through video games alone but all of that stuff.

  • How did you pick your gaming username (or forum username)?

Oh, this is fun. I made two posts on this. In this one, I mention it a bit below while also mentioning a discussion about gender-/race-locked classes. And in this one, I just talk about my username in general. 

  • We’re gonna hang out today, what do you pick for us to do?

Oh, darn, Meg… I’m super late. I hope you don’t mind that I’m nearly seven months late for this but… nothing special, it’s a bit late after all. Tea time for sure! We could also stream some co-op games on Twitch together (since I gotta be live soon anyways) if you bring your own controller. 🙂 I could also bake something real quick or make us some food and, since you don’t live nearby, I guess you take the bed and I’ll sleep on that seat-like thingy over there or at my GF’s. Does that work? When will ya be around? Any food preferences? 

Apart from that, coffee in the morning and since you won’t get a plane back to St. Louis anytime soon (heh, pandemic), we could go to a bar or a few in tomorrow evening and visit the botanic gardens, the museums around here, and some other interesting places tomorrow. Feels like the standard program for “tourists” and visitors from other places. 

Oh, I also gotta show you the monorail. Wuppertal is famous for it. You’re gonna love it.

My questions for the nominees:

  • You have to ban one game for eternity. This game shall never be played or watched again and nobody is allowed to talk about it. Which game do you pick?
  • How was your day? What have you been up to? Hope you’re well. 🙂
  • If you could take any vehicle/plane/etc. from any game/show/book/whatever to use in our world, what would you pick and where would you go?
  • This one’s weird! It’s not a question… it’s an answer! “No, but the raisins certainly belong to this office.” – Find the question that this answer answers!
  • What’s your favourite Indie title that you personally love that nobody seems to know?

My nominees!

Mr Peril from containsmoderateperil

Wilhelm Arcturus from TAGN

Gray from Gray’s Otome

Tipa from chasingdings

Krikket from NerdGirlThoughts

Stingite from The Friendly Necromancer

Belghast from Tales of the Aggronaut

Nait “Naithin” Thin

that one guy from that one blog that does those posts, y’know? (Quietschisto)

I forgot his name but his Palico in MHW is called “Big Chungus” (Frostilyte)

And, I don’t usually do tags all that often but when I do, it’s a long post. Hope you liked this one. 

As for the nominated bloggers, I appreciate these bloggers mentioned above a lot. I don’t read as many blog posts lately compared to the past few months… but now that my last exam is all done and dusted, I’ll be able to get back to that again, hopefully catching up with all of these cool and entertaining people (and Frosti and Quietschisto). 🙂 While there are a lot more bloggers out there that I appreciate and read a bunch, I didn’t want to nominate too many as I’d end up running out of bloggers to tag for that other tag post that I gotta do… I mean 10 are already a ton… Alas, these are the ones that I read the most lately and I gotta do Quietschisto’s tag as well and will nominate others for that one. 😀 

Cheers!

Edit: On publish, I didn’t check Meg’s name’s spelling and ended up writing “Meghan” instead of “Megan”. This is now fixed.

Indietail – Sir, You Are Being Hunted

It’s getting colder. It’s raining more. The nights are getting a bit longer… Autumn is coming – and with it: Halloween! (Unless you’re in the land down under where it’s Spring…? That place surely is magical!)

Halloween’s great! It’s the time to bring out my horse mask, watch some trash horror movies and quite potentially play some spooky games, alone, at night, by yourself… and that’s why we’re taking a look at “Sir, You Are Being Hunted”, a spooky and very British Stealth-Survival game by Big Robot Ltd!

Developer: Big Robot Ltd
Publisher: Big Robot Ltd
Genre: Survival, Stealth, Indie, Robots, First-Person, Horror
Release Date: August 13th, 2013
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC
Copy was purchased.

Note: I had to create a header image for this game as there was no actual press kit and hence no high resolution pictures or logos available. Hence, pardon my intervention in that regard.

But first,… what is Sir, You Are Being Hunted?

In this title, you’re participating in a fox hunt – the twist is that you, Sir (or Madam!), are being hunted and not some fox. For some reason, we then are tasked with finding a bunch of different machine parts on five different islands (all connected with boats), only to bring them all together at the magical statue in the centre island. Yeah, I know, the story doesn’t really seem too intriguing but hold on before you click off… because the game is actually somewhat good.

The spot we have to bank our machine parts at!

After all, this game combines witty humour, procedural generation, stealth and survival mechanics to present a funny and spooky experience.

While you’re searching for the smoke pillars in the distance, you’ll come across all kinds of robots. At first, you only get to see high-class hunters with their shotguns, their top hats, moustaches and their tweed jackets. These take only two hits with a hatchet and are your first source of new weapons, including their shotguns. But over time, the game throws all kinds of other enemies in your face: You get to see robotic hunting dogs, revolver wielding middle-class squires and lower-class poachers but also scarier foes like rocket.powered horse-riders or the giant landlord who’s able to chase you from afar and who is truly terrifying. 

This game’s the epitome of “British stereotypes”. From the Victorian look of all the enemies to the sad and dreary environment that you’re walking through to the small jokes hidden in the different item flavour texts and other info. I really enjoyed the humour to bits. On top of that, you get to chose whether you wanna be a “Sir” or a “Madam” that is being hunted… which I found cute in a way… And obviously, Great Britain can be lovely, but as far as stereotypes and that kind of stuff go, a lot of people think that it’s always raining over there… which is well shown in “Sir, You Are Being Hunted”. 

Wait… THAT is the landlord?! He’s huge! And scary! Oh no, he’s coming for us!

The biomes you’re walking through have this very sombre vibe to it but in a good way. Even during the day, it remains quite spooky and dismal, which I found more than interesting. In the distance, you may see the next landmark, a giant factory in the industrial part of an island with smoke coming out of chimneys… or maybe a small town whose street lanterns are shining a small light onto the nooks and crannies of the streets. Overall, despite its age, I did find a few spots here and there that actually were quite lovely or enigmatic in their own way. Looks-wise the game has aged somewhat well and has still its own character. The landscapes are pretty at first but over time, I noticed that they can also get quite monotone and dreary. 

When I say that the game aged well, I mean that it can still look good despite looking “old”. There are some uninspired spots and pieces with shrubs and hedges and some trampled ground but with procedural generation and you essentially getting a new map every run, it’s possible that you get some very pretty ones as well. In one instance, I had this very spectacular pink sky in might sight which was very clearly visible, even from the shrouds that I was hiding in!

Where the game truly shines is its audio design. The developers themselves said that they put extra care into that and wanted to make it something that gives the players a lot – and in fact, they did. During the game, I was constantly on edge trying to find the next place to go, dodging robots and looking into the distance in hope to see their red eyes and their paths… and while I was immersed and while I tried to progress, I ended up really listening to those sounds and noises in the game. Gunshots? Barking? Even birds that are flying away from robots scaring them off can be heard clearly if you’re nearby. I really enjoyed this aspect of tracking the robots and trying to find your own ways of dealing with them and trying to get around them. 

In one case, I lured robots to me with a trombone while waiting in a farmer’s field. I was crouching with my hatchet, waiting for them to stop by and before they noticed I fell the first one and dipped back into the shadows. Then I threw a glass bottle into the other direction, looted the corpse and shot the remaining two distracted robots with my newly attained shotgun! I felt quite good about that! Suddenly, the Hunted became the Hunter again!

But while the stealth parts can be fun and while the game is quite well-made with great jokes, cool enemies, nice sound design and pretty landscapes, I must say that some stuff really doesn’t work in “Sir, You Are Being Hunted”.

In my time in the game, I noticed that the different machine parts are spaced out too much, for instance. Sometimes, you find them and see them being heavily guarded… at other times you just stumble across the hills until you find another one by accident. The smoke pillars that should rise from them are often not really that visible from afar, so you’ve got to search a bit for them. Having a more reliable map would have been better in that regard or potentially reducing the number of parts that you have to find in total… or even making it an option to crank up or down.

Oooh, what to take and what to leave?

Another thing that just didn’t work out for me was the Survival aspect of it. During your playthrough, you have to watch your Health and Vitality. If you get hit, you need to stop the bleeding or else you’ll die. If your vitality is low, you’ll starve and die as well. The game prompts you to either go hunting to find fresh game or to just loot enemies and houses in order to find relatively fresh and quite rotten food… This – and the fact that you cannot really craft too many items in the game – make the game quite hard to get around. The inventory management that you need to take care of can be also relatively hard to get around, especially when you have to discard of junk items manually. One by one.

And well,… you can only save at the monument on the first island and at boats. When you die, you lose a lot of progress and items. Looting isn’t that satisfactory as you just hit F on a door instead of actually foraging and scavenging inside and outside of it. A lot of the items feel useless or are useless and due to the missing actual crafting system it kind of feels as if the survival aspects have just been added to the game because it seemed like a good idea.

When you’re surrounded and you’re starving, you’re basically waiting for the game to end. That’s not fun. Your last resort? Light a pipe and drink yourself into a more vital and nauseous state! Drinks give you vitality but make you tipsy… Smokes cost you vitality but do nothing else… I like the gimmick but it isn’t exactly helpful.

On top of that, you spend a lot of time travelling while crouching, which can get a bit annoying and feel way too slow. And while you get stronger by getting weapons and ammunition from enemies, the game also gets harder as there are bigger patrols, new enemies, and less places to go to for the sake of looting. Overall, the game can be quite frustrating and unforgiving but if you are searching for a challenge, this might actually be it!

Regardless of all of that, though, I’d recommend this game to others. It’s a good game in its core and the stealth parts are fun while the game is genuinely spooky – at least it was for me. I’d say that this is a great game if you’re searching for something slow but fun and somewhat relaxed to play on an evening or two. I’m not sure if it’s worth the full price though due to it being old and not getting updates on top of having some bigger issues like the survival being “eh” and the game feeling slow. 

Cheers!

Indietail – Spellbreak

A while ago, I wrote a review on Hyperscape and actually recommended it. I mean, it was fun and felt like Quake, on top of being free-to-play. But then I stopped playing Hyperscape again since I wanted to play other games and when I came back to another round or two, I noticed how hard it is for a Non-FPS-player to react in time or to make the right decisions or to aim properly. On top of that, there were some balancing issues and it felt just very frustrating to play it.

So, then I got an E-Mail about Proletariat’s Battle Royale game, Spellbreak, which is available on Epic Games (among other places) and even features crossplay! I was eyeing it for a while before eventually realising that it should, in theory, be just my cup of tea. I mean… Magic…. Combos…. Boom!

My very first game and I won! Woohoo!
Developer: Proletariat, Inc.
Publisher: Proletariat, Inc.
Genre: Battle Royale, Fast-Paced, 3D, Action, Fantasy, Third-Person
Release Date: September 3rd, 2020
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC, XONE, PS4, Nintendo Switch
Game is free to play

In Spellbreak, you essentially play as a mage using two magical gauntlets to battle it out on a big BR-style map. Before the round starts, you’ve got the choice between six different elements to use for your primary gauntlet: Poison, Wind, Lightning, Fire, Rock, and Frost. This gauntlet grants you bonus effects whenever you level up. Those effects range from immunity to your own spells to utility to more damage, so it’s worth looking into those bonuses.

During the round, you essentially try to find equipment and scrolls, as well as gauntlets that have a different magical property to your primary one. For instance, if I were to play as a Conduit (Lightning Mage), I’d be able to pick up the five other elements but I wouldn’t be able to get a second lightning gauntlet. This is quite well-made since the different gauntlets influence each other in different ways. Using the Tornado spell for instance and infusing it with Lightning, Fire or Poison damage caused it to turn into a Lightning Storm, a Fire Tornado or even a Poison Tornado, which is quite nice.

Similarily the Poison Cloud can be infused with Electricity, Fire or Ice, resulting in either an electrifying poison cloud, a big explosion or a frozen poison cloud that entraps and poisons everything inside of it! Some elements don’t mesh well together while others are unique and have very good offensive capabilities, but overall you pick what you get or what suits your playstyle the most. After all, your primary attacks (aka not the spells) also change based on your elements. Rock mages only hit ground targets with their primary attacks but can generate shockwaves and armour using their class-specific skills. Ice mages are more precise but also rather slow while Tempest mages deal less damage but can shoot out a barrage of shots!

Another interesting mechanic in Spellbreak is the Mana bar that you deplete while floating or while shooting out your primary attacks. With amulets, you’re able to gain more maximum mana, while belts increase your armour and boots increase your movement speed. If you don’t find certain items, it can get a bit hard for you to spam or run all the times. Meanwhile, as a Tempest mage with a Legendary amulet, you could very much kite enemies away.

And then, you also have potions, shield shards and abilities. Abilities also have rarities like your equipment but basically enable you to use another set of utility. Chase enemies, fly through the air or become invisible. It enhances the playstyle and I really like how there are no offensive abilities for the Shift-Slot. Unlike Hyperscape, you have your damage in your gauntlets and spells, while you use the abilities to gain momentum, push forward or flee.

Poisonous Firewall!

And then there’s the art style. The game’s heavily influenced by shows and movies like Princess Mononoke, Akira, and Avatar – The Last Airbender. This is resembled quite well in the charakter designs and how the world looks. There are different parts to the map that all have a distinct nature to them and just feel different overall. That’s something that I really enjoyed. I really like the influences the game has in terms of the art, although it got a bit hard to discern certain damaging effects on the ground from normal grounds in certain areas, which is a bit troublesome.

An issue that I have with the game, though, is how you at times can get locked into walls and you just get combo’d away. On top of that, some enemies play quite good but you have no way of adding them or making friends, overall, which is a bit of a bummer, in my opinion. Unless you write down their names or memorize them or whatever, there is not really an option, from what I’ve seen.

Don’t mind me, just hiding in this push…

And at last, I had the issue of me having a hard time with the map borders. At times, I’d go and loot a place but then the circle would move again and suddenly, I’m more than 2000 meters away from the next safe zone and the circle just runs over me. This gets annoying and frustrating over time when the game just decides to place the inner-most circle on the other side of the map. I mean, the map also gets slower at a more drastic pace compared to other games, so personally I would have changed the interval or allowed bigger circles, potentially.

In the end, Spellbreak is just another battle royale game. You have good players in there and bad players. Aiming is not as hard and important as in other games, though zoning, strafing and fast reactions are even more so.

Spellbreak has a certain tactical component to it but in the rounds that I played it always ended up being about me and other players butting our heads in when the circle stops by. It’s a battle royale, after all. It’s different from Fortnite and other games, for sure, but I’m not sure if it’s something I’m going to play forever. This is going to be something that I’ll play with friends now and then, I guess, and then I’ll get frustrated because of the meta or because of my lack of skills… and then I’ll play something else.

In the end, Spellbreak is a free-to-play battle royale game, so try it out if you wanna and don’t if you don’t wanna. I enjoyed it so far but I’d imagine that others wouldn’t. Due to the nice combo system and the mobility you have in the game, though, I’d recommend it to fans of the genre or fans of Quake and Unreal Tournament!

Cheers!

Indietail – Kill It With Fire

Winter is coming… which means that it’s springtime for spiders again. Usually, you see more in spring and summer, which is horrifying, but lately, I noticed that the heinous beasts love to get inside when it’s cold outside. Hence, it’s springtime… for spiders… in Germany! 

It’s been a while since we reviewed a title called “Kill It With Fire: Ignition“, which is why we’re now looking at the full game, “Kill It With Fire”. Before we get into it, let me just panic while I search for actual spiders in the different corners of my flat. It’s a scary world we live in, after all!

Developer: Casey Donnellan Games LLC
Publisher: tinyBuild
Genre: Action, Simulation, Comedy, Demolition, Casual
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC
Release Date: August 13th, 2020
Copy was sent by the devs.

So, what exactly is “Kill It With Fire“? – In Essence, it’s a “demolitionist’s wet dream” where you have to find and exterminate all kinds of spiders in different environments. To do so, you slap them, whack them, burn them, shoot them, slice them, and use all kinds of other weapons and objects to kill them all – while potentially also destroying a whole bunch of things in your flat, office, or in other areas.

Just like in the demo, you’re spawning into (presumably) your low-poly-house where you’re tasked with picking up your vase and opening a few drawers, as a small tutorial, I guess. Then you pick up your clipboard with more tasks and use it to punish spiders… for existing. 

Starting at that point, you’ve got to figure the game out yourself. You have certain drawers and doors, only available to you after you killed a certain amount of spiders. Other drawers aren’t available until you’ve finished a few tasks. Overall, this system gates your progress a little bit which I find necessary as you have to kill all of them. Kill them all. With Fire or not, whatever you feel like. 

In the starting level, I jumped a few times when I found a spider in an unusual spot. That’s something I could have and would have missed out on if I was able to leave immediately to go to the next area.

Among your repertoire of weapons, you have all kinds of tools to kill those gruesome creatures with. Use your clipboard, a pan, deodorant & a lighter, it’s your choice… but other objects have also found their way into your collection, like shurikens and C4! Hence, the weapons get more and more absurd and hilarious, the more you unlock and offer you a lot of different mechanics to play around with. For instance, spiders get lured in by cheese puffs… but the different flavours seem to have their own mysterious effects, as well!

All of this gets collected over a variety of nine different levels, including your home area, a Japanese-style garden, an office, a barn and a very secret military basis! 

The variety of levels is a lot of fun to play around, especially with certain side-tasks that you can do in different areas, like “washing the dishes” or “shopping”. It’s fun to go for those side-tasks, which was a bit of a surprise for me as I usually tend to get tired of games when there are tasks that are a bit fidgety or require you to have some finesse or patience.

The game’s held relatively simple with an aforementioned low-poly-style and little gimmicks in the world instead of grand graphics. The spiders are held a bit cartoony so they didn’t bother me too much. At times, of course, I got spooked by them, but over all, it wasn’t as bad as in other games featuring spiders. As far as the music goes, however, I must say that it’s grand! The jazzy vibes of the music are great and I love the small chime you hear when you open drawers or doors. Now and then, you hear some spider sounds but most of the time, you’ll get to experience a small tune here and there, accompanying your character, similar to the piano in Untitled Goose Game!

Overall, I really enjoyed Kill It With Fire. It offers you a lot of upgrades and customizable options on top of fun achievements to work towards, but there are a few things that I didn’t quite like.

One of them would be that the final level features a lot of content-gating as it urges you to backtrack but I didn’t enjoy that part too much. Instead, I would have loved to see small secrets in the final level that are gated to collectables and optional tasks, while still being able to continue with the final mission as usual. Just a small thing that I got a bit annoyed by. 

Another thing would be weapon variety… There are a lot of different weapons from normal utility items to guns to fire weapons and whatever category a saw launcher fits in… but I personally felt that all of the weapons leaned into only one direction or so. We have fire weapons and guns… Usually, fire is your weapon of choice anyway, but I just kind of felt like there was a market here that didn’t get touched upon. I would have loved to see more knives or even a katana. I would have loved to go crazy on people with a football. I would have liked it if you could pick up any and all objects and throw them at spiders as a weapon in all levels. Of course, you can pick up and throw books at them… but if that’s your weapon of choice, you won’t be able to use it in the Barn area as there’re no books nearby.

Overall, though, considering the game’s length, I wouldn’t say I minded that part too much. It’s just something that I would have liked to see more of. Overall, I had a lot of fun playing the game. After 4.3 hours, I got all the achievements and unlockables, which was fun to do. Considering the price, I would definitely recommend “Kill It With Fire” to others, though it is somewhat short, so keep that in mind.

As a small note at the end of this review, I requested to get an affiliate link for this game and actually got one. So, if you decide on buying this game, you may do so using this link and while you don’t have to pay any extra, I’ll get a commission for refering you over there. While I don’t want to commercialize my blog or anything like that, I’d like to potentially use links like that (with a big disclaimer like this) in the future to potentially earn a little bit that I then could invest into the blog again. I could, for instance, get my own domain and get it hosted somewhere else… or maybe go for a paid theme… or potentially, I could fund new game purchases using that.
Hence, you don’t have to do that, but you can if you want to.

Cheers!

2020 hasn’t been that bad EA-wise

2020 wasn’t that bad when it comes to indie titles that left EA. While the world is going to shits, the gaming industry pumped out a fair few titles. Hence I thought I should maybe write a piece about a few of the games that reached their 1.0 his year and that I really enjoyed playing for th past couple of months.

For starters, Hades just recently got out of Early Access and its 1.0 launched, introducing an actual ending, new music, artwork, late-game unlockables, a new aspect for the twin fists and a lot of other stuff. Honestly, the last time I played Hades was in March after some update but I forgot which one it was and there have been a few bigger updates between then already. Hence, I’ve got to visit Hades again to leave Hell for good… again. Especially since achievements seem to only now have been introduced, I can’t wait to unlock more stuff. The new weapons seem really cool and the addition of Hermes and Nyx seem quite interesting, although my sources are just hearsay at this point. I just updated it and I have yet to play it, though I may do that some time this week.

Hades is one of those titles that seemingly did everything well. It’s a fun and fast-paced action-rogue-lite with nice progression, some interesting customizable parts and items that you can change each run and on top of that it’s depicting mythology more or less accurately which I really adore. The characters in the game are fun, each with their own stories and quirks and perks. The music is just awesome… but personally, I don’t like the aspect of traversing the same “biomes” over and over again, so that’s something that I don’t like about Hades, although I know that it’s hard to change that since we’re in Hell, after all, right? The switching bosses, though, with their own lines and everything are really nice and the favour system? A ton of fun to play around!

Just a while ago, on August 4th, Littlewood also got out of Early Access, adding a whole bunch of new events, new characters, new special moments, and other features and I’m quite glad about that. I started playing Littlewood not too long after it got released into Early Access and I was done with all the content after a few hours, so I decided to wait for more updates… and then August came and I spend an awful long time in this game.

The problem I have with Littlewood is that time moves a lot faster outside than inside. Just like with Stardew Valley, I ended up binging it a whole bunch for a while before eventually just not bothering with it anymore since I didn’t have the time for it just yet. Don’t get me wrong: I enjoy Littlewood and Stardew Valley to bits… but then RL stops by and you just never really feel like playing it again until you start it up, binge it for six hours, and then close it again for another few days to weeks. Oh well.

And at last, my favourite title to leave EA this year is probably Risk of Rain 2, whose 1.0 dropped on August 11th, 2020. The 1.0 added a whole new boss enemy, some new mechanics, a new survivor, and an actual ending, which I find really nice. For the past couple of days, I’ve been playing a lot of RoR2, especially as I’ve discovered a few neat builds that I do enjoy playing a bunch and especially as I unlocked some more character perks and the latest survivor, the Captain!

I’m looking forward to the updates are to come in the future, but overall, RoR2 did really develop quite nicely, from a game where the teleporter was hard to find in the swamp area and where some bosses would just oneshot you (rip magma worm) and where fire was super op… to a game where can still get oneshot (ugh, void reavers) but it got balanced quite a bit and it’s essentially a ton of fun. Right now, I’m trying to unlock all of the artifacts on top of some of the items that I’m missing… and then I’ll attempt to get some Monsoon runs going before eventually heading into the new alternative mode: Eclipse!

Either way, that’s it for today’s post. I probably forgot some other titles that came out of EA this year but these few were quite memmorable and I did look forward to their release. An honourable mention would be Factorio but I didn’t play that game at all, yet, and I’m not sure if I’ll ever get into it at all… and then there’s also Terraria 1.4, although that one wouldn’t fit the theme, would it? I mean, it’s not a 1.0 but it was as hyped up as an actual new release.

Cheers!

Indietail – Outer Wilds

Exploration is one of those key features used by a lot of video games these days. Usually, you end up exploring an area for secrets, collectables and shortcuts, which – when done right – can be very satisfying and essentially encourage you to do it more. In today’s review, we’re talking about a game that is all about exploration and that doesn’t rely on any of those features but rather makes the player piece together all the different clues and information in order create a bigger picture of sorts. Today, we’re taking a look at Outer Wilds.

Developer: Mobius Digital
Publisher: Annapurna Interactive
Release Date: Jun 18th, 2020
Genre: Space, Exploration, Puzzle, Mystery, Adventure
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC, XBOX 1, PS4
Copy was purchased.

In a distant Solar System, we are tasked with finding out clues about an ancient civilisation only to find ourselves in a time loop similar to Majora’s Mask and Minit. After 21 real-time minutes, the sun is bound to explode, leaving us with the mission of finding out why this is happening.

Why does this universe end?
What do the ancient Nomai have to do with this?
How can we stop it?

To do this, we set out to different planets, solve a variety of puzzles, translate scrolls and ancient scriptures, so that we can get closer to the truth, one step at a time.

The Reveal Trailer is probably one of my all-time favourite trailers!

This is where the game shines. You retain all of your information whenever you die or whenever you reset. Hence, at the start of every loop, you get to lift off from the launch pad on Timberhearth, after having seemingly just dozed off at the campfire.

By scanning and translating different scriptures on walls and ancient ruins, you find out more about this ancient civilisation of the Nomai, who at first seem quite noble and distant but later become rather relatable and “normal”. You end up learning more about different tribes of Nomai that all worked together for Science and that all lived on different planets after they crashlanded in this universe.

While the leads and clues may, at first, seem daunting and overwhelming, your ship log usually tends to help you out by telling you if there’s more to explore in certain areas. It also displays the clues, all linked together, hence giving you some sort of lead to explore, if you ever find yourself in trouble.

There are two “modes” of movement in this game. You either travel from planet to planet and manoeuvre around the planets’ surfaces with your small little ship. Or you explore by foot, relying on your jetpack to reach high places if the gravity allows, and scanning things using your transcriptor. When you have a rough landing, you have to repair certain parts of your ship, like its oxygen tanks, electrical systems, the landing gear and other ones that are essential for safe travels. When you travel on foot, on the other hand, you have to watch your health and oxygen but also be sure to not get stuck somewhere without fuel. This makes for some interesting mechanics as different planets come with different hazards and gravity levels. On top of that, you, at times, have to reach certain places before your oxygen supplies run out, hence adding a little bit of pressure to you.

The different planets all shine in their own way. While Brittle Hollow has a black hole at its centre and while Dark Bramble is an enigma of its own, Giantsdeep features high gravity and a very harsh climate that allows vortexes on its surface to lift your ship and even islands into the air. I could assure you that every single planet and planetary body features a unique experience and that every journey to different sites and locations feels unprecedented and adventurous! At least, that’s something I fancied in my playthrough. Since there is no set starting point for every planet, though, you have to figure every planet out yourself and understand its systems, although you should have plenty of times for that – being trapped in a time-loop gives you a lot of time to think, eh?

Making use of a time-loop mechanic gives every 21-minute long adventure a unique vibe, that I really dig. At first, I felt a certain rush to find out as much as possible in every single loop, but then I noticed that it’s alright to take a breather at times and to enjoy the views. After all, Outer Wilds is a charming and gorgeous game, featuring a great score, some lovely dialogues, and a lot of clues, secrets and easter eggs to find in the ruins of the “old world”.

The soundtrack, composed by Andrew Prahlow, gives this title a certain adventure-vibe that helped me enjoy the ride a lot better. Different places feature different tracks while some other tracks get played when you’re getting close to your inevitable death, creating a rather fluid and non-linear experience every time you venture out into the Outer Wilds.

I love the soundtrack. I love the graphics. I love the gameplay. I love the story.

In summary, I love Outer Wilds.

Outer Wilds created a novel experience for myself, even when it has some shortcomings here and there:

Your experience at the beginning can be somewhat slow, for instance, as you try to figure out how certain planets work, where you have to go, what you’re supposed to do. I enjoyed that, myself, but I’d be able to see how this would influence other people’s experiences and how it could bother others.

You don’t have a lot of directions given to you, although there are other astronauts on every planet that you can visit to ask them for “interesting places”. Based on where you land on a planet, you get to see different places to find out other clues. At times, this can mislead you into thinking that you found out everything about a planet, resulting in you seemingly “getting stuck”. At other times, you may just be wondering how an end-game location like the Hourglass Twins tie into the whole story and what you’re supposed to do with these “timed locations”.

Overall, I wouldn’t deem this too much of an issue though. By revisiting places and by making use of your ship log, you should be able to get “unstuck” in no time and figure out new leads whenever you try out a different location or find out a new piece of the puzzle.

Another issue that I found with the game is the fact that there are some issues in the PC version of it. Your ship can seemingly take way too much damage when bumping into certain objects and at other times, you may just die from a fall that you usually would make, which I found a bit frustrating at times. Bugs are, however, very few and very rare, so usually, this just left me in confusion and didn’t make me suffer too much.

Alas, my verdict is that Outer Wilds is an exceptional game that is worth checking out if you’re interested in a “true” exploration experience with a non-linear time-loop-based story. The presentation is just magnificent and charming, the story and the end of it are just more than grand, and I’m really glad about having played through it after 24.4 hours. That whole day that I spend in there was 100% worth it!

Cheers!

The “How are you?” controversy and Fleeksie

Today a tweet by Twitch streamer “Fleeksie” blew up and went viral, causing a relatively one-sided discussion about small talk, streamer-to-chat-interaction and toxicity. I usually wouldn’t write about this since it’s just gonna pass after a day or two at max anyways but I thought it would be an interesting topic for a blog post.

Either way, first things first: What happened?
On September 6th, Fleeksie tweeted the following thread where she effectively complains about people coming to her stream and asking how she’s doing. While it’s somewhat understandable that she, as a bigger streamer, gets that question a lot throughout one stream I don’t think that this is the right approach to the problem. Obviously, she’s entitled to her own opinion and she can think and say whatever she wants (to a degree) but I don’t think that her response to this “problem” is valid at all, which is my opinion to which I’m entitled, obviously.

The “problem” at hand is the fact that people tend to ask a question at times and when other people join in later they may ask the same question as well not knowing that it was asked already before, resulting in the streamer answering the same question over and over again. This can range from a simple “How are you?” to stuff related to the stream or the content, like “Does Zoe’s Q proc her passive twice?” – a question that Vicksy has to answer relatively often throughout every stream.

My stance on this matter is that streams that are community-focused often rely on a little bit of Small Talk to get a conversation going. People joining in and being curious about your day or about your well-being is never bad – on the contrary, this opens up potential other topics like your job, your hobbies, your stream so far, games you’ve been playing, news you’ve heard about and other things. On top of that, you can ask others how they have been (which I do anyway, even if I didn’t get that question), resulting in you finding out things about your viewers, their well-being, job, hobbies and other things that they have done/read/heard, etc. You can then essentially just latch on to any of those conversation points to never run out of topics.

Hence, I wouldn’t say that Small Talk is essential to streaming but it is not the worst thing ever either and if anything it can actually help you.

Back to Fleeksie, she continues saying that she feels puke coming up whenever she reads “I’m good how are you?”. It’s apparently painful to respond to that question. Even if this physical reaction to a harmless question was real, being rude to others wouldn’t solve it at all.
To solve this “issue”, streamers could introduce a chat rule saying that you aren’t allowed to ask how the streamer is doing. It’s that simple. Especially with mods, you can just time people out or ban them when they do that and you’re fine. It’s not going to be necessarily helpful to do so, though, as people getting timed out for formalities or small talk is just stupid.

And as per usual, Twitter… was Twitter. The tweet went viral and all kinds of people ended up either meme-ing about it, asking her how she’s doing… or they had constructive criticism, saying that they personally don’t agree… or they were just toxic. But Fleeskie also didn’t make things better, constantly tweeting about how she’s not getting scratched by it while also still going on about it, showing that it affects her. And while I don’t agree with her attitude and how she’s handling the situation, I don’t think it’s alright for people to straight-up attack her. Even when she’s now tweeting about how “hating small talk is controversial”, trying to fix the narrative… It’s not about “hating small talk”, it’s about making it sound as if every single streamer in the world thinks that way and as if every single viewer in the world is doing it wrong. It’s about biting the hand that feeds you. It’s about acting as if you’re entitled to people’s kindness and interest in and for you. That’s what’s ticking people off and that’s why people are getting so agitated about this.

If you cannot deal with people caring about you or people asking you something as simple as “how are you”, then Streaming on Twitch may not be the best thing to do since a lot of people ask questions and talk to the chat/streamer at times. I struggle with conversations, people and all of that stuff all the time, being an autist, but I’d never go as far as to attack others for being curious or for being nice. I don’t think that you should bite the hand that feeds you. I don’t think that attacking others for essentially nothing is the way to go, and I don’t think that being rude to people for asking a question that others have asked before is going to solve anything at all.

Twitch is currently in a peculiar state already. There are a lot of users and streamers that are just way too toxic or that harass, bully and attack others, on a whim. Especially women and people of colour have it rough on Twitch and I don’t think that this kind of stuff is going to help the case. Call me a hippie, a dreamer or even a “Gutmensch”, but I believe that there’s one good person for every ten people and that kindness and reason are able to solve more problems than rudeness and madness. Being nice to people and reporting offenders is a better way to handle things compared to attacking people that attacked you or being rude to people that were trying to be nice.

And since this is the internet, it’s only understandable that there’s always going to be some person (or rather a lot) that is really toxic… but it’d be great if there were more people out there that would promote positivity, respect, kindness and inclusiveness so that people would have a place to return to from all of that toxicity. I don’t want to watch a stream after having had a bad day only to see that I’m not welcome or that I’m being treated badly. I’d rather see others building each other up and us all having a good time.

But maybe that’s just me. Do you have any thoughts on this matter? What’s your stance on small talk in Twitch streams? Would you handle this any different?

Indietail – Occupy White Walls

Art is something that should be accessible to everyone… but it’s a bit rough to get into. I don’t know a lot about art but I do enjoy going to exhibitions and museums – and while I don’t know a lot of the big names or techniques or epochs or whatever… I don’t think that I need to.

But there are often people that make it hard for newbies like me to get into that hobby. It’s hard to enjoy something like that if other people constantly are talking in a very condescending way with you while wielding big words and termini that you don’t understand.

Today we’re taking a look at Occupy White Walls, an art gallery simulation game that is trying to fight that problem. It’s trying to make art accessible to everyone – in a very unique way.

Developer: StikiPixels
Publisher: StikiPixels
Release Date: November 14th, 2018
Genres: Casual, Art, Simulation, Multiplayer
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC
Copy was available for free.

In Occupy White Walls, you create your own gallery. You build it from scratch using different floors, walls and structures, which feels quite sandbox-ish. You also are able to buy paintings, photographs and drawings of famous and underrated artists, so that you’re able to… occupy… those white walls… yup!

My gallery is nowhere near finished but it’s looking cool so far, even though I’m only using glass panes right now. I’ll probably completely rebuild all of this at a later date – but for now this is already turning out quite well!

By opening your gallery you’re able to earn more money… and by buying new artworks, you unlock new structures, frames and other cosmetic features.

What’s very lovely about this is that the whole game is kind of built like an MMO of sorts… You’re able to visit your friends’ galleries or teleport to a random user’s gallery: You comment in their guest books or have discussions with other people on different paintings. You open their gallery so that they earn money while you’re enjoying the paintings… and when you see something that you like, you can put it on your wishlist or buy it yourself!

The tricky bit to Occupy White Walls is that you cannot just search for paintings. You cannot go for Van Gogh, da Vinci, Munch or Sargent and just take their paintings. Instead, the game works with artificial intelligence called Daisy that essentially recommends paintings to you based on your preferences. You then are able to find more paintings that are similar to the paintings you pick or you even search for more paintings by the same artist.

I love this view over here to bits!

Using this method, I was able to find an artist called LARSKRISTO who does a lot of very colourful and obscure pieces but also creates very dark and enigmatic paintings… I really love his style!

Another great feature of OWW is the information that you get about each painting. You can learn about the background of the artist and some other information if you look at a painting. Most paintings have a ton of information available and hence you can also discuss interpretations with others and analyze these paintings yourself, if that’s your jam – or you just look at them and enjoy the view: All based on your preferences!

And Daisy learns from the pictures that you buy and is always to find something new and interesting for you – and if there is nothing of interest in the selection, you can always request more. So far it has been fairly accurate for me… and just now I found about de Goya and that I actually like his stuff…

The game is completely free to play and progression is purely based on your creations: You build up buildings and galleries and buy new paintings or unlock new cosmetic features for your avatar but you’re never asked to pay a single dollar out of your actual pocket – in case you really want to, you can support the developers by buying the game’s official soundtrack.

Moonlight Surgery by Alnilam is one of the paintings that I found today.

Speaking of the soundtrack, it is just enigmatic and mesmerizing. There are a lot of very relaxing pieces there that perfectly work with what you’re doing. It’s relatively easy to sink a lot of time into this game once you found some pieces that you like and once you’ve got an idea of what you want to do.

Originally, I planned on having a “café” or bar of sorts with a lot of different seating areas and art pieces around it… but I need to be a higher level for that to unlock some other furniture pieces. Hence, I’m right now working with a different concept of a gallery in a glass box of sorts that is surrounded by an ocean and that features a lot of surreal and contemporary pieces. So far so good… I’ll revisit the café/bar idea later, though!

When you open your gallery, you’re getting joined by bots that wander through your gallery and look at paintings. After a while, they explode into paint splashes and leave money on your desk that you then can collect to invest it into more paintings or more space, furniture and building materials. Every now and then, you’ll see actual players that you can interact with but more often than not, you’ll only see the bots and you’ll only notice that players have been there due to the comments in your guest book.

This is another painting that I really adore. It’s by John Singer Sargent and it’s titled “Madame X (Madame Pierre Gautreau)” and there’s just something about it that I just love.

And of course, there is a chat function where you can discuss all kinds of topics with other people… but since it’s Free-to-Play and since it’s online, won’t there be any trolls or toxic people there?

Well,… the developers have heard all of these concerns before and I’ve heard that they are working on a system to remove comments that you don’t like from your guest book while also detecting hateful messages. The comment feature was only recently introduced and the game keeps frequently getting updates! With each update, the developers are introducing more art pieces (old AND new!), new features, and items.

The community is super helpful and seems quite alright. Of course, you get the occasional “I was here” comment but once you’re able to remove that kind of stuff, those won’t be a problem. My initial concern about toxicity and trolls has also not been that much of an issue, yet, since there just don’t seem to be all that many people out there that know about this title or that appreciate art in that way. On top of that, you have to create an account for the game and while that is a bit annoying, it apparently is helping a lot with the process of keeping trolls out. Hence, I’m quite confident that the game won’t get tainted that easily by the internet!

The only issue that I had with the game is how many resources it requires to run properly, as in: Having a lot of paintings, objects and effects can make the game lag at times… but a lot of people avoid that by just creating small galleries on multiple accounts and by connecting them with portals.

It is still in Early Access and it still is getting updated… so that kind of justifies all of that jankiness. You have to wait a bit for stuff to load up and there are some issues here and there with floor-tiles glitching out a bit, but it’s usually not that bad compared to other EA titles.

All in all, I’d say that this is a great game and if you’re into art or if you want to look at cool paintings or meddle with some architecture you should definitely check this title out!

Oh, and if you want to visit my gallery: My name in-game is MagiWasTaken. And on another note, if you wanna check out some of the art that is featured in-game, visit this side.

Cheers!

Indietail – Best Friend Forever

I’m not exactly a dog person. I always thought that I’m not fit and active enough for dogs and hence I never considered if I wanted to have a dog. Obviously, with how the market is, it would be hard to find a flat or anything that would be dog-friendly and alas, I’ll have to rely on other media to maybe live that experience of owning a dog and taking care of it. One of these mediums is Best Friend Forever, an attempt to mix the genre of dating sims and management-types.

Developer: Starcolt
Publisher: Alliance
Release Date: August 27th, 2020
Genre: Dating Sim, Visual Novel, Management
Reviewed on: PC
Available for: PC, Switch
Copy was provided by publisher.

After having worked at a big corporation and after some other experiences, you, the protagonist, decide to move to Rainbow Bay. Rainbow Bay is the dog-friendliest place in the world (?) and essentially, the to-go city for everyone who’s searching for a cute little doggo and potentially even happiness, success and other good things. At least, that’s what the city means to our main character.

Early on, you’re prompted to type in your pronouns, blood type, Zodiac, and name before you’re getting unleashed into this short Visual Novel where you adopt a dog, take care of it, and where you try to find love… or something like that. On top of that, you also get to meet a vast cast of different characters that are all quite special in their own ways! Awoo!

From the get-go, I noticed that this game is quite different. We had some weird questions that we needed to answer for our Woofr profile, at the beginning. It’s a Visual Novel after all that is all about your little bowwow. You spend a lot of time picking up and throwing away your dog’s faeces or petting it or training it. Yes, you heard right: You can pet the doggo. It’s an interesting mix and I kind of like that about this title:

You get to date all kinds of characters and you get to min-max your dog’s training schedule to pass the dog school’s exam! Hell yeah!

While getting to know the characters, you stumble across different events and you have to decide where the conversation goes. Picking one of the options available to you usually results in people liking or disliking you – but you can also chicken out and go for a neutral approach that is somewhat boring, I guess.

And the game spans around 15 weeks that you have to spend training your tail-wagger. To do that, you plan your days with them by either going to encounters with the different people or by participating in Pawspirational Events (that have a chance of raising certain stats) or by participating in randomly-appearing Dog Events.

These Dog Events range from your furbaby getting scared to it leashing out a bit or to it pooing on the floor… usually, you have to either move your mouse cursor in certain motions or comfort it by petting it – and these events tend to award you with experience for the different stats:
Manners, Smartness, Trust, Sociability, and Fitness.

Apart from that you also have the training schedules that you can set for them where you essentially can choose to work on two different stats at the same time by IE going for a walk, cuddling, playing, and many other options. Afterwards, you need to take care of your good boy’s (or girl’s!) needs (see above) by feeding or tending to your mutt… Generally, all of this is quite fun at first but later it feels somewhat… pointless?

The story is light-hearted and short. It took me 2.5 hours to get through the game for the first time and to play through Astrid’s romance route. There are a whole bunch of other options that I could take or romantic partners that I could ask out next time, so there is some replayability to it, as well… but the flea circuit isn’t really involved in this. Your doggo is just there in the corner to brighten up and lighten up the game at times… and the management-aspects that are required to pass the exam at the end exist… but they do not really involve your pupper too much. You plan out events and sometimes people comment on your furry friend’s behaviour but effectively, it’s just there to be petted. As far as the exam goes… at the beginning I got mostly silver and gold medals and as time went on, I noticed it going down to bronze medals…

Regardless of that, I got my passing grade, which I found somewhat weird. I get that the Academy is only there to determine whether or not it’s alright for you to own a dog and I get that it is a very light-hearted game but it seems odd to me to just pass it like that. I would have loved more of a challenge or maybe an extension period and supplementary classes instead where you make up for the missing training, maybe get to know a nice dog coach that you can fall in woof with, and unlock more dialogue options. It would have been quite nice… and while I don’t know if you can fail the Academy, I don’t really wanna try it out as I don’t want to my pupper to be taken away from me. On top of that, it would be interesting to see what happens if you neglect your pawl’s needs… but I can’t let my little bowwow starve or get ignored just like that… Some horrible human out there will probably have tried it out… so uh… check there?

I didn’t notice the dog pooping less indoors when the manners stat got up, for instance, so that’s something that I would have liked a lot: Actually seeing the results of the training.

Your little fuzzball (She was called “Titan” in my case!) essentially just provides you with a minigame of sorts that to pass the time for a bit or to stretch out the game, which was somewhat disappointing… And I loved the idea at first and everything but midway through the game, your dog is just there while the focus switches to the other characters, which I found quite bothersome. It’s “best friend forever” but suddenly, it’s more of a dating sim – your dog is secondary. Or rather it feels like it’s not about the dog anymore, which I found actually rather add… tending to your dog becomes a chore while obnoxious people step more into the foreground. (I really don’t like Sascha at all… can we kick him? Like out of the city? Just push him off the edge of the world?)

Another issue that I was facing was that I had a hard time dealing with the writing at the beginning. The game is at times mocking the whole hipster culture or ridiculing it to the point where I thought that it’s not taking itself seriously – and yet, there are characters that talk about their actual fears and their actual problems… and some of the joking and obnoxious characters (the secretary and your neighbour, for instance) just end up breaking that feeling of intimacy that you had with your partner. You talk about problems and in the next instance, you get to talk to Sasha again, which is just painful at best.

I couldn’t really handle some of the writing at the beginning due to the in-your-face-hipster-ness. It was a bit too much for my cup of tea but I guess some people could enjoy that.

Towards the mid-game, it was acceptable and tolerable. I had fun with some of the references and stuff… and your relationship moves relatively fast forward, which is quite interesting as well.

And at last, I reached the end and it just didn’t feel alright or finished yet. I would have loved to continue past the 15 weeks but instead, we see the “what happened to these characters later?” trope before the credits roll. Quite annoying. And again, the dog gets less important later on despite it filling in a key role in the game.

But while that was a bit bad, I guess, I really enjoyed the game overall. It was fun, it was cute. It conveyed a message of sorts that you don’t buy a dog but rather adopt it since it’s very close to you. It’s like a family member of sorts, you could say – not your property or anything like that.
On top of that, the game is really inclusive as it not only lets you chose your character model and pronounce but it also enables all relationships to you whenever you want them and while your sexuality never gets asked for, it is made really well in a way that your past partners, as an example, get named with “they/them” to allow any kind of interpretation.

So, what can I say about Best Friend Forever… it mixes two things that are somewhat different and is hence quite innovative, in my opinion, but it fails to convey the importance of your Woover as it doesn’t give it more credit or more special scenes. Instead, it’s just about you training it while you’re doing stuff with your love encounter. I would have loved to see more CGs of the Barksy to make things, right… in fact… CGs and a CG gallery are features that are missing completely! Especially, considering that you’re a photographer in the game…

The inclusive aspects, however, are really well-made, the soundtrack is alright, the characters all are somewhat quirky but feature a lot of nice traits and conversation options, and overall, it is a well-crafted game, in my opinion, even when the management aspects fell somewhat short. The short length of the game makes it possible to play through different routes and try out different things in several relaxed sessions. And yes, you can, of course, pet the pupper. Hence, this must be a great game.

I’d recommend this game to people that want to play a wholesome, cosy and rather short visual novel that has dogs in it. I wouldn’t recommend this to management fans as those would not be happy with this title. If you’re a cat person like me… it might take you a while to fall in love with your four-legged new family member… but once you get there, it’s super lovely. Despite some issues, I had fun, though, so I’m definitely recommending Best Friend Forever to anyone who’s looking for a short but lovely experience.

Cheers!

Humble Choice – September 2020

September’s Humble Choice is out now and this one is somewhat tricky!

The bundle contains a lot of games that I want to own… but also games that I already do own, so I’m still not sure what I’ll do about this. I think what I’ll do here is that I’ll list the ten choices I would make if I didn’t own any of these games from the 10th spot to the 1st spot!

10 – Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair 

Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair is a brand-new 2.5D platformer from some of the key creative talents behind ‘Donkey Kong Country’. With their arch-nemesis Capital B up to no good, the buddy duo needs to spring into action once again to save the day. To thwart his evil plan of using a “Hivemind” device to enslave an entire kingdom of bees, our heroes need to take the fight to Capital B’s “Impossible” Lair. Things look tough, but with the help of Queen Phoebee and her Royal Beetallion, Yooka and Laylee might just have a chance! 

While I like the idea of it being a spiritual successor to Banjo Kazooie, I never liked that game due to my hate for platformers. And I’m not going to like this one either. But it’s better than the other two remaining games and it’s probably going to be a good gift to someone who’s more fond of platformers.

9 – The Shapeshifting Detective 

The Shapeshifting Detective is a supernatural-noir murder mystery FMV game where you play as a detective who can shapeshift into other characters, allowing you to unlock secret conversations and private encounters. 

The game features more than 1600 full HD video responses, a simple questioning interface with unique ‘delete’ mechanic, and a randomly chosen murderer at the start of the game. – This seemed quite interesting but I don’t usually play games that are based on video responses made by people. Hence, this is one of those games that I’d give away to other people. 

8 – Lethal League Blaze

 Lethal League Blaze is an intense, high-speed ball game, with unique characters, outta sight sounds and none of that weak shit. In Shine City, the anti-gravity ball game has long been illegal. The group who kept playing was dubbed the Lethal League. Even now, with their sport pushed underground, players and crews compete in the League for challenge and respect.

Lethal League was quite a lot of fun but nothing I’d constantly play… Lethal League Blaze is a better version of Lethal League and I’d love to play it with friends.

7 – Golf With Your Friends

Why have friends if not to play Golf… With Your Friends! Nothing is out of bounds as you take on courses filled with fast-paced, exciting, simultaneous mini golf for up to 12 players!  

Every now and then people want to play Golf… but online… and then some people have Golf it! while others have GWYF… and I already have Golf it but don’t own this one, so I’d go for this one in case that I really wanna play Golf with my friends… through crazy Parcours and stuff… yup.

Honestly, these last four spots are just on the same level.

6 – Evoland Legendary Edition 

Evoland is a journey through the history of action/adventure gaming, allowing you to unlock new technologies, gameplay systems and graphic upgrades as you progress through the game. Inspired by many cult series that have left their mark in the RPG video gaming culture, Evoland takes you from monochrome to full 3D graphics and from active time battles to real-time boss fights, all with plenty of humour and references to many classic games.

I already played Evoland but I’d actually go for this since it includes the second game and the first game… and I have yet to play the second one. Evoland was a very cute and fun journey through the ages of RPGs that is constantly referencing and mocking stereotypes and features from other games, such as Zelda, Final Fantasy, and others… It takes itself not too serious while also providing you with a bunch of entertainment. Honestly, just great – and with the Legendary Edition, you get two games for one choice!

5 – Strange Brigade

Egypt, 1930’s. Erased from ancient history and buried in a nameless tomb for 4,000 years, Seteki the Witch Queen has risen once again. Only one troop of daring heroes can stand against the fearsome power of Seteki and her army of mummified monstrosities: The Strange Brigade! Explore remarkable ruins, solve perilous puzzles and uncover tantalising treasure while blasting your way through an array of undead enemies in thrilling third-person action that’s certain to bring out your inner adventurer! 

Strange Brigade looked interesting… it’s a Co-op Action-Adventure game that you’re able to play with up to three other players and that features Zombies – or rather Mummies! It kind of reminded me of Left 4 Dead 2 but with an Indiana Jones setting of sorts… and even if I’m not the biggest shooter-player, I think I’d enjoy myself a fair bit with this one since it, again, seems a bit similar to the likes of Serious Sam and L4D2. 

4 – The Occupation

The Occupation is a fixed-time, investigative thriller set in North West England on Saturday 24th October 1987. Your role is to uncover evidence as a journalist by sneaking through restricted areas and questioning people on their actions through a series of one-on-one interviews. All this takes place in a detailed, systems-driven world where people will react to your actions and where time is your biggest enemy. 

This title seemed really interesting to me since it fills the need for another Stealth-Adventure game that is more along the lines of an Immersive Experience. It’s also another Indie game so I may review it in the future once I’ve played it. It seemed quite interesting and has a lot of positive reviews, hence I thought I’d go with this.

3 – Generation Zero

Welcome to 1980’s Sweden. The local population has gone missing, and machines of unknown origin roam the streets. Explore this vast open world to unravel the mystery of the invaders, perfect your fighting strategies and prepare to strike back. In Generation Zero, living is winning.  

Generation Zero has been something that I have been aware of… but I never really looked into it since I didn’t want to the game for myself in case I ever play it… and well, here’s the game in the bundle. This one might very much be a reason for me to go for this bundle. It’s a Survival game that can be played with up to three friends and where you have to strategize a bit and be stealthy instead of brute-forcing your way through the game since the machines are quite strong and they do not forget!

2 – Forager

Forager is a 2D open-world game inspired by exploration, farming and crafting games such as Stardew Valley, Terraria & Zelda. 

I reviewed this title a while ago and really enjoyed myself, especially with the newer content. It’s a great game that gets you a lot of content for relatively low bucks and a relatively simple but addictive game formula!

1 – Catherine Classic

Explore the pleasures and horrors of love as Vincent, a man with a hard choice to make: marry his long-time girlfriend Katherine or move on to the incredible blonde he just woke up next to — named Catherine! But beware! Make the wrong choice, and you could end up dead. Delving into themes of free will and the delicate nature of relationships and the choices we make, this action-adventure-puzzle game is an experience unlike anything else.

This game is an all-time favourite for me. I loved it when I first played it and I still, every now and then, play through it again. I love the characters, the story, the different endings, the game mechanics. It’s a unique mix of a puzzle game and sort of an Anime Romance-Horror-story where your choices matter. The soundtrack is great, the puzzles are quite challenging and a lot of fun, and there are some interesting sides to everything in this game… my favourite part probably is the bar in the game: The Stray Sheep. There, you’re able to decide what you drink, you can get drunk, talk to others and help them with their problems, which is really cute. Oh, and then, of course, there is plenty of room for humour, philosophical themes and other lovely features, making this an excellent game that I can highly recommend to everyone that loves games where you influence the outcome and games with challenging puzzles!

Dropouts: 

  • Vampire: The Masquerade – Coteries of New York 
  • Fun with Ragdolls: The Game 

I own the other Vampire game from last month’s Choice but this one is a Visual Novel set in a universe that I have no clue about. It just didn’t feel like the right choice. Fun with Ragdolls seemed like it was a game along the lines of Human Falls Flat and some other Simulation-type games with janky controls and janky physics… and I’m not a fan of those. I get quite frustrated with some of the controls and hence didn’t go for this one.

Now, out of these ten choices, I own Forager, Catherine Classic, and (technically) Evoland… I think it might actually be worth it to go for this. I’ll be able to give Forager and Catherine Classic to friends or give it away on Stream since these are great games, and as for Evoland, I get to play the second one, which is quite excited and I may replay the first game as well while I’m at it!

Overall, this month seemed mixed a lot better compared to the other months. There seems to be something for all kinds of people but I could see how it maybe is a bit rough to choose for people that aren’t particularly into Indie stuff or that don’t know or appreciate games like Evoland or Catherine. Honestly, I’d say that Catherine Classic is a real powerhouse in this one as it essentially “carries” the whole Choice this month. If I didn’t own it already, I would have immediately gone for this Choice. In the end, I’ll probably still go for this month’s Choice due to Generation Zero, Strange Brigade, The Occupation and Evoland – and I’ll make sure to give these extra-copies to people that like and appreciate these kinds of games.

The extras include Alt254 and a sneak peek of Carto, two cute little games that I’ve never heard about. But they look adorable and I’m looking forward to playing them!

Anyways, that was it for this month’s Choice. I hope that you enjoyed this post and in case you’re wondering where I got the idea from, check out Naithin! He’s another lovely blogger and I thought providing people with my opinion on Humble Choice might be also quite good. Be sure to check out his post here! 🙂 

Cheers!

Indietail – Try To Survive!

I don’t usually play Horror games… and I don’t usually play all that many FPS games either… but some games combine these genres quite well or have something special about them. Some games out there are able to provide a lot of fun and a big challenge with little to no effort and a rather simple premise… and then there’s Try To Survive.

I’m honestly not too sure about how to approach this title. The game can be summed up quite easily: Shoot waves until you die.

Developer: INGO
Publisher: INGO
Release Date: August 3rd, 2020
Genre: Action, FPS, Horror, Rogue-like
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC
Copy was provided by the devs.

You’re in a forest and have to fight off waves that get increasingly stronger. After every wave, you’re able to upgrade certain aspects of your character like the range or damage of your weapon, for instance. You may also end up with equipment, like a flashlight or mines and grenades.

Try to Survive doesn’t seem revolutionary.

It’s fast-paced and dark but more than anything else it was disappointing. After half an hour, I’ve seen everything already. After a while I got a hang of it and just ended up kiting enemies while strafing away before grabbing health kits and damage upgrades to just continue like that… and that got boring quite quickly, to the point that I ended up losing on purpose to finally quit the game. There are games that are frustrating and that make you ragequit… and then there’s this title that isn’t too challenging, not all that frustrating, and for a Horror-title not exactly scary either… Is there a word for when you quit because you got bored?

And while this review may sound like a rant so far, I’m actually trying to be at least somewhat nice here since the devs sent me a key for this game and asked me to review it. There are just a lot of issues with the game – and the devs…

First of all, you don’t have enough options and the ones available to you don’t really seem like they change a lot. On top of that, the game looks kind of unfinished, no matter the options you choose. The enemies that you fight each wave don’t really have a cohesive theme either… some are more eldritch while others are just flies or they look like Psychos from Borderlands. It just feels like an attempt to create something “new” out of a lot of different styles and games and whatever… but it’s not new at all.

Secondly, the promotion that the studio is going for seems super sketchy. The devs noted in their mail that they’ll distribute $15,000 to the top three players of the leaderboard once they have a playerbase of over 30,000 players. Every 10.000 players, they will pay $1,000 to three random players, and they are planning to have “tournaments” with bigger price pools in the future as well with budgets of potentially $25,000 and more money… And I don’t think that’s a good way of handling promotion.

I’m not a fan of this “practice” since it just seems super dodgy. They are luring in potential players by offering a prize to them. It’s not about their game anymore. And let’s say they’re really reaching those numbers, there is no guarantee that they’re actually giving money to anyone. It’s a studio with no games so far, with no actual social media pages or any websites or any other info about them. When I asked about a press kit, they were not able to provide me with anything.

Regarding my question why this game was special, unique or worth playing, the devs told me that they’ll give money to the players.
That’s not what makes a game good or unique or special… it just turns it into some sort of weird scheme. And it makes it sound even more as if the devs didn’t care about the game at all and as if they were just trying to rip off players by luring them in, taking their money and leaving them with nothing.

And I don’t think I’m reaching too much here when I say that it looks like a scam to make money with a bad game… that is being sold for 10 bucks.

Originally, I was going to compare this game to a very similar Indie Game that costs less than half of this game’s price… but I don’t think I should compare games in a review. I don’t want to recommend a game in a review about a different game. I’ll post a separate review on that title later this month, instead.

To sum everything up: I cannot recommend this game and I tried my best to be nice about it, but in the end this game is boring and doesn’t bring anything new to the table… and it doesn’t justify the 10€ price tag at all.

Hence, no recommendation here. Cheers.