XCOM 2 Succession Game Series – Operation: Brooding Breath (Part 4)

Today I’m publishing my post on the XCOM 2 Succession Game Series that Naithin has organised. Please check out his post on that. The header image graphic was made by Naithin as well and we basically are playing a mission each and then doing base stuff before passing on the save file to the next person in line. You can find all of that stuff out as well in Naithin’s post! I’d recommend following the series along as I’m not entirely sure how much if at all everyone will sum up what happened before. I for one have no idea what is going on with the story in XCOM 2… Aliens said that they wanted peace but apparently, peace means war and now there are resistance groups everywhere and we try to make contact with them and defend Earth while building up our own squads and soldiers and all of that… But yeah… Aliens! 

So far, Naithin had to complete the first mission and managed to get away with no casualties. Peril also was successful but during his turn, things got a bit heated for Owl which is why we lost him early on. Next up was Rakuno with his flawless performance and well, today it’s my turn… let’s see how that turned out. I’d like to mention that I decided to record the whole thing as well and upload it to YouTube. I will not cover everything that happened in the mission in the post, mostly since I just did my turns and did what seemed like a good call and I forgot to take notes… So, there’s a video and it’s good to have that there as everyone can just watch that if they’re interested in my voice and my decisions… Oh no, everyone will tell me that I could’ve done better! D:

https://youtu.be/1bkxHA7Bnzo

First up, when I started my turn, I found out that we not only were somewhat broke… but we also were barely cutting it power-wise, which is why I made it my journey to build a power-thingy for the base… which wasn’t possible yet since we didn’t have any money and/or rooms available yet. Luckily, someone started excavating Alien Debris already which would take four more days for us to complete. So, it was time to scan/pass time! When I wanted to do that, however, the game acted up to tell me that there is a time-sensitive mission that needed my attention right now. So, I figured we may as well stop the ADVENT Retaliation in Operation Brooding Breath. Our squad for this mission consists of two grenadiers (Ramblin Red and Three), one sniper (Endalia), as well as a Ranger (Silentdeath). I equipped Tessa “Endalia” Hastjarjanto with a flashbang, just in case, as well as Rakuno “Three” Venmuel with a Medkit, just in case, so we were ready to go. Our mission consisted of rescuing at least six civilians while also taking care of the aliens in the area.

Since we had barely any vision, I decided to tread slowly and move some of our squad members carefully. Easha Dustfeather, our Ranger titled “Silentdeath”, moved inside of a building while staying concealed and evacuating one civilian. Red moved towards some barricades in hope of spotting enemies. Tessa climbed up a building and stuck to the walls as she spotted two aliens hiding in the fog of war. Rakuno snuck to the side of the battlefield and kept watch over the area. The Overwatch would trigger when enemies were moving into Rakuno’s field of vision, enabling Rakuno to shoot the enemies in a surprise attack. Sadly, this was for nought as the enemies sniped us with a rifle through the tree from lightyears away and got a hit on Rakuno who suffered three damage points. Also, Overwatch was removed, so that’s quite unlucky. Tessa managed to resist a mind attack by an alien before the enemies ended their turn. 

In the next turn, Red saved a civilian before moving closer to the enemy forces, effectively flanking them. Tessa took aim at the alien hiding behind a car and shot it with a 43% success chance for four damage points. Easha continued to save civilians while moving out of the building. The building proved good in terms of cover but didn’t actually do much for us as Easha essentially had nowhere to go in hopes of catching enemies off-guard. She was guarded but couldn’t attack which isn’t exactly great for a ranger. Hence, I sent Easha to chew some gum and kick some doors. She was out of gum, so the door had to go. Rakuno was in a weird spot, kind of flanking the enemies but also hiding in plain sight. So, I decided to send him onwards and let him wreak destruction since the enemies already knew about him being there. Rakuno fired his frag grenade over into the direction of a car, finishing off the alien that Endalia wounded previously and setting off an explosion. The car didn’t blow up fast enough, however, as the enemy had already moved away in time into the fog of war. Meanwhile, the ADVENT forces were executing civilians in the distance for whatever reason. 

Red chased after the retreating enemy getting full cover behind a tree. Endalia followed to the end of her roof but wasn’t able to take aim with her sniper, which is why she chose to aim with her pistol and deal 3 damage on the fleeing soldier. What a mad lad. Easha and Rakuno moved up ahead into the direction of the remaining enemy.

In the next turn, Red pushed forward, entering Overwatch. Endalia left the roof to take cover at a different building. It would have been great for her to enter the roof of that other building but sadly it wasn’t meant to be for this turn. Next up, Easha saved another civilian, before taking cover again. Rakuno pushed ahead and took cover yet again while moving closer to the remaining civilians. Right when our turn ended, enemy forces approached us with Red taking aim and shooting his mini-gun-like weapon, emptying all of the bullets in his magazine in a spectacular flurry of attacks. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw that the enemies that carelessly approached the Rambling Redshirt himself survived every single shot. While Red may have tried his best to look cool, he failed miserably as every shot missed and as this game proved to me that miniguns are useless in XCOM 2 and that it doesn’t matter how many bullets are in a gun. The remaining two enemies took partial cover near a fence nearby after hearing Red’s glorious attempt of an ambush, ready to strike back and potentially even deal damage. Hence, I moved Red away from the location in cover so that he’s out of harm’s way. Since Red was now under cover and since he still had an action left, I decided to let him take a shot with his frag grenade, destroying the enemies’ fence and cover. The “Red” in Rambling Redshirt seems to stand for redemption as his shot not only successfully destroyed the cover but also took out one of the advent soldiers. Give this man a cookie! Tessa, Rakuno and Easha managed to save civilians silently, ending the turn, while the remaining enemy didn’t know what to do and ended up missing his shots at a stationary civilian, proving that he’s not the brightest LED in the spaceship. 

Since it was now our turn to strike, Red fired off a frag grenade finishing off the silly ADVENT soldier while creating some room to move in the building he was leaning at. Man, Red looked really cool right there. We should give him two frag grenades or maybe a shield or something like that so that he can’t miss anything. Right when that ADVENT soldier fell, a civilian transformed into a so-called “Faceless” which later greeted Endalia but only pointed at her. Endalia moved away as a sniper in close quarters looked like an easy target to the Faceless. Rakuno then took aim at the big alien and showered it with bullets, defeating it in one fell swoop, hence concluding the mission.

Tessa earned a promotion here, acquiring the “Return Fire” skill which allows her to shoot back once per turn when she’s being hit by enemy fire. Meanwhile, Red earned a promotion and he learned the Blast Padding skill, which gives him more armour and some damage reduction for explosive attacks. The Shredder skill could have turned Red into a heavy gunner that shreds enemy armour for us… but after his spectacular failure with the minigun earlier, I decided that his talents were needed in other areas. Hence, Red became tankier so that he can “try again” more often. If he were to miss every shot, the “Shredder” skill would have been useless. Rakuno was “gravely wounded” but should recover quite quickly once he’s back in the base.

In the base, I ended up researching the Faceless Autopsy after we finished the Research on Resistance Communications. We completed that research project as well as the ADVENT Trooper Autopsy in time for our next mission. I also started building a power-room so that our power isn’t at capacity anymore. I sent a Rookie called Sofia Vasilyeva into training to become a specialist, which would enable her to send out a drone to perform various tasks like healing or assisting allies. We unlocked the Battle Scanner giving us vision on the battlefield. We also unlocked a holographic decoy that we can throw that will attract enemy attacks for a turn. I paid my respects to Owl who died during Roger’s part before eventually assigning the research for Magnetic Weapons and saving the game as dark events were on the horizon. 

There is a new mission coming up, which is why it’s not my turn anymore… but actually Red’s over at Beyond Tannhauser Gate. His part should come up next and I’m looking forward to reading about it. My character, Lizz “Magi” Winterfield, didn’t make an appearance this time but I’d love to see her next week, potentially… I’m looking forward to reading the next parts and hearing other people’s reactions and opinions on my moves this time around, especially since there is now video proof of it. Any opinions or feedback? Feel free to comment here or on the YouTube video and let me know if there was anything that you would have done differently!

Cheers!

This post was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken.

Humble Choice – May, 2021

Another month means another choice to make and this time around, I’m not too sure what to think of the games. For starters, there are a bunch of interesting games in here that definitely catch my eyes and there are some that look kind of fun but I’d get quickly quite bored of them and then there are some that I absolutely don’t want. Last month I had a similar situation and ended up pausing… but then Humble Choice offered me a 50% coupon (or at some money off but I ended up paying 6€ instead of 12€, so… either something went wrong or dollars are worth a lot less now! Anyways, I got most of those games now either in my library or as keys, so I may give some away on Stream sometime. Hence, check out last month’s post if you wanna see my opinion of some of these titles! Personally, I feel like April has had a lot more to offer in terms of quality titles than this month… but again, that’s just my personal opinion and I haven’t looked at the cost of the titles, so I’m still debating on whether or not I’ll get this month’s titles while I write up this post here. Oh well, here is my rating!

NameDeveloperGenreRank
HellpointCradle GamesSouls-like, Action, Sci-Fi, RPG, Multiplayer1
MorkreddHyper GamesPhysics, Puzzle, Local Co-Op, Indie, Exploration2
VaneFriend & Foe GamesExploration, Action, Adventure, Indie, Casual3
Metro Exodus4A GamesPost-Apocalyptic, Atmospheric, Action, FPS4
Darksiders GenesisAirship SyndicateAction, Adventure, Co-Op, RPG, Hack and Slash5
Family ManBroken Bear GamesAdventure, First-Person, Indie, RPG6
Size MattersMazen GamesIndie, Science, Simulation, Casual6
RelictaMighty PolygonAction, Puzzle-Platformer, Exploration8
Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?Vertigo Gaming Inc.Management, Casual, Arcade9
RetimedTeam ManiaxCasual, Party Game, Multiplayer10
Fury UnleashedAwesome Games StudioAction, Roguelike, Platformer, Shooter11
LevelheadButterscotch ShenanigansPrecision Platformer12

First of all, the battle for the top 3 was a bit hard… Vane looks very interesting and I wanna try it out… but so does Hellpoint as it has this mix of occultism and science-fiction… and with that comes cosmic horror, I think? So it might be a great title to play sometime. And then there’s also Morkredd, which is a great title that I already and played through but it’s lovely to play it again with someone else together and I really enjoyed and you can hear more of my thoughts on that right here in my review. Wink wink nudge nudge. So, since I don’t know if Vane is actually good or if it only looks interesting, I put up Morkredd higher up because it’s very cool! And Hellpoint just made it a nudge higher up because I’m very interested in that game…

Next up are two games that I’m kinda interested in but also not really. I own the other Metro games and I played the first Metro game a bit so I know that I kind of like it but also kind of dislike it… and I know that I’ll probably play the franchise eventually on Stream, so I put up Metro a bit higher than Darksiders… especially since I own a Darksiders game but I don’t actually know how it plays and if I like it although I probably do… So Metro is a bit higher up than Darksiders because I know how the Metro series (or at least one of the games) works and I like it.

Now, Family Man is interesting… kind of… and I wanna see how it goes, so while I’m not super-interested in it and while I wouldn’t have bought it, I’d take it since it’s better than some of the other games. Size Matters is also interesting… kind of… I basically put both of these games on Rank 6 since I’m not sure which one I find more interesting. Relicta didn’t really pull me in but I find it more interesting than the rest of the titles. Cook, Serve, Delicious 3 should be interesting for me but one of the previous titles bored me or frustrated me… I just have negative connotations with it for whatever reason and I think it’s either boredom or frustration but I just end up not liking it. Retimed and Fury Unleashed are co-op games, which is nice in theory, but I don’t really have friends to play those games with. Both of them are platformers, so that’s a minus point for me, essentially. Levelhead is just not my cup of tea, so that’s in the last place.

I think I’ll actually grab this month’s choice since I really want Hellpoint, Vane and some of the other titles that I mentioned above. I can also gift Morkredd to a friend potentially and have them play it as well, which would be nice. Maybe I’ll get another discount or something but overall this should be worth it, especially as my financial situation is less bad this month. I think this may very much be worth it. 

Anyways, are you grabbing this month’s choice? Let me know! How would you have ranked these games? I’ll probably get all the games again because of the Classic Plan but which games would you have thrown out? If you want to, there’s a referral link over here that you can use that would support me at the cost of nothing. Clicking it does nothing but if you decide to go for Humble Choice and you get it through the link, a little bit of money goes to the Trevor Project (who are a charity org that do stuff for LGBTQIA+ youth around the world) and I earn a little bit of money as well. But you don’t have to if you don’t want to. Oh well!

Cheers!

This post was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken.

Another Indie becomes Neon Doctrine

I know that I’m a bit late here but essentially, I didn’t know if that change was really that important for the blog to the point that it warrants a blog post… until yesterday’s review. Yesterday, I review a title called Elden: Path of the Forgotten that is published by Neon Doctrine who were formerly known as Another Indie. At that point, I noticed that in the little info section that I add to blog posts, I had to enter Neon Doctrine instead of Another Indie since they don’t go by AI anymore. This may be confusing to readers who may not know about the change, so I decided to add the “formerly known as Another Indie” section there as well and tag the post with both Another Indie and Neon Doctrine… but this results in an issue since I’ll either have to label future titles published by ND/AI as “ND fka AI” (obviously spelt out but I’m lazy right now)… or I just go by Neon Doctrine, which is the best choice properly… but at the same time, previous titles published by Another Indie are still labelled as Another Indie and essentially, I decided to just go with Neon Doctrine from now on, have this post here in place to explain the change, and I’ll update previous reviews with the Another Indie tag to also reflect the change.

But yeah, Neon Doctrine is the new branding of AI and it reflects the darker nature of the many titles published by Another Indie a lot better than their previous name. I mean, from Elden to Vigil to Yuppie Psycho there have been a lot of darker titles. There are also other titles that I haven’t covered yet that are a bit dark in nature but they said that they’ll still publish other Indie titles… this branding right now just reflects a lot better on this darker vibe that a lot of their games have had in the past…

And it’s cool! They even added this interesting trailer over here that is quite well-made and enjoyable.

Rebranding comes with a trailer,… I see! *takes notes*

And honestly, while I liked the previous name of the publisher, I’m all for this change as it’s lovely. The new colours and the new logo are amazing as well and they did put a lot of thought into this.

So, to sum it all up:

  • Another Indie embraces their darker nature and becomes Neon Doctrine!
  • Past posts will be updated to be tagged and labelled as published by “Neon Doctrine”.
  • The “Another Indie” tag will still be there for those posts.
  • Future posts will be labelled as published by “Neon Doctrine (fka Another Indie)” or just “Neon Doctrine”.
  • Future posts will not be tagged with Another Indie and will just be tagged with Neon Doctrine (unless I forget about this).
  • May the Fourth be with you!
  • Vlad is a cutie but don’t tell him.

I just figured I should post about this small change on the blog and explain my thought process and procedure. If you have any other/better suggestions, let me know in the comments and I’ll make sure to reply! Hope you enjoyed this post! Stay hydrated and safe!

Cheers!

This post was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken.

Indietail – Elden: Path of the Forgotten

I’m a huge fan of all things eldritch and Lovecraft’s stories left a mark on me. The way his words entrap you and pull you in until you’ve absorbed every single one of the letters feels astonishing at times and while I’m obviously not a fan of the racism featured in some of the stories, I feel like the stories that don’t involve any bigotry are probably some of his best works. Either way, today we’re taking a look at a game that features eldritch themes and is very much inspired by Lovecraft’s works but that doesn’t use words to describe its story. Today’s review is about Elden: Path of the Forgotten.

Developer: Onerat Pty Ltd
Publisher: Neon Doctrine (formerly known as Another Indie)
Genre: Action, RPG, Adventure, Challenging, 2D, Eldritch
Release Date: July 9th, 2020
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC, Switch, PS4, Xbox One
Copy was sent by the publisher.

Elden is a 2D-Action-Adventure where you follow Elden who witnessed a ritual performed by his mother that dragged her into another world. Set on saving our mother, we follow her steps onto the Path of the Forgotten into a world filled with brutal enemies and a lot of combat. The game’s art direction is inspired by 8-bit and 16-bit titles which looks amazing when it comes to bosses and some of the enemies but I feel like the world is lacking in some regards. There is a cathedral that looked stunning but all the other areas look somewhat bland. The first two areas feature a lot of the same colours and while I understand that pixel art is hard, I would have loved to see more texture in the ground and the vegetation.

Moving onwards, I’d have to say that I love the ominous sounds and the enigmatic soundtrack that is befitting of an eldritch theme. You swing three different weapons: A sword, a spear and an axe that each excel in different areas. The sound design makes hits sound powerful and in a way satisfying… but some of the enemy sounds are a bit confusing at times and left me at a loss. Combat itself isn’t groundbreaking or new. You have directional attacks with your weapons and can use spells to damage your foes. The game is rather punishing at times and while the combat system is somewhat average in itself, it was nice to see that strategy and timing are a lot more important than actually dishing out a lot of damage. You’ll have to decide when to hit and who to hit while dodging enemy spells and kiting enemies. On top of that, you need to balance your mana pool and your stamina bar while keeping track of your health gauge. It’s interesting in a way but some of the hits don’t feel like they connect. Sure, when you hit an enemy, you hear it land and it damages the foes as seen in their health bars. When you hear it, it sounds good, but sometimes you don’t really hear it. The different weapons work quite well against different enemies. The axe hits slow but hard while the spear gives you range at the cost of damage. You can hit rather fast with your spear while avoiding enemy attacks and poisonous slimes but more often than not you need to line up correctly and hit them while you can. Moving even a pixel downwards can already make the spear a lot harder to hit, which is a bit of a bummer. Meanwhile, the sword is the allrounder between all of these weapons allowing you to deliver decent swift strikes at the cost of range and stamina. Spamming it will leave you breathless, not allowing you to roll. You’re also rather close to enemies and they may land hits on you, too.

Combat is hard and punishing, often setting you back countless times. There aren’t many healing items and some of the items may have effects that you may only find out after using them a bunch of times. Since there are no item descriptions, a lot is left to your understanding. Trial and error are key here, I guess, but it often doesn’t feel as rewarding as it should feel when you find something out and I would have liked some guidance in terms of that here and there.

The lack of item description ties into what I was alluding to in the beginning: The world you entered features a different language and cryptic symbols that you cannot understand. More often than not you find yourself wondering what you’re doing here and where you’re exactly headed. What are these creatures? What does this switch do? What is going on here? Questions over questions and not too many answers. In an interview I had with the lead developer, he talked a bit about environmental storytelling and about how the player finds out about the story using drawings and pictures rather than words and letters and I personally find that Elden is doing a semi-good job at that. While it is a very neat concept and while the game tries very hard to do a good job at it, I find it hard to grasp the plot or the lore through the game as the game doesn’t give me much here. I think to make this concept work, Elden: Path of the Forgotten should have added more statues with poses, more paintings, drawings and picture books to the world. The player can’t learn a lot about the game unless there is something to learn from and so far I didn’t find too much here.

My main issue with the game is the challenge level. Dying is frustrating as it sets you back a bunch. You don’t really have a map so you may easily miss something or get lost in the world. The gameplay loop consists of fighting enemies, finding a switch or keys, opening a door and fighting a boss before heading to the next area… but it doesn’t have many new enemies and it feels a bit lacking in a lot of regards like new mechanics. On top of that, the estimated game length is on the shorter side with 2-5 hours. I don’t mind a good challenge in a game when it is rewarding to overcome the challenge. Elden doesn’t give me that reward really, which was a bit of a letdown. And then there’re the clunky controls that hurt you more than they actually feel good, which is the biggest issue with this game.

All in all, I’d like to recommend Elden: Path of the Forgotten but I can’t since there is so much amiss here in terms of reward and satisfaction. The environments feel bland, the sound design confuses me, the controls and the hitboxes are your biggest enemy and overall, it is not my type of game. Hence, no recommendation here unless you’re very into challenging and frustrating titles.

Cheers!

This post was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken.

NieR: Replicant – The Most Annoying Quest

Big Fat Spoiler Warning right here at the beginning by the way.

NieR: Replicant has been a lot of fun so far and I really have been enjoying all kinds of aspects of it but it’s become harder and harder to stay away from spoilers, especially as I was interested in a book we encountered in the Mansion since I thought it was Grimoire Noir. So I essentially took a look at the wiki where I found out that it was actually Grimoire Rubrum, the counter piece to Grimoire Weiss and Grimoire Noir. Anyways, staying away from spoilers is hard and browsing the wiki was kind of counter-intuitive in my journey to go at the game in a “blind” manner since I now know a lot about the backstory and since I now understand a lot of things that have been happening that looked mysterious until now. Anyways, there is an achievement called “Weapons Collector” that I wanted and because of that, I browsed through the wiki once again to see where I can find the remaining few. Apparently, there are two weapons that I can find in the last area of the first ending, as well as one that I get from a quest or at the beginning of Ending B. So, I essentially don’t need to worry about those weapons exactly… But again, that doesn’t take much effort. If you want to unlock all weapons, you’ll have to do what I needed to do in yesterday’s stream: You’ll need to complete the quest named “The Damaged Map”, which is only available during the second half of the game’s first ending.

This quest is probably the most annoying quest I’ve ever encountered in any game. You get it from the blacksmith in your home village and he asks you to find a treasure map, so you go to the library where you find a damaged map that you then bring to the Strange-Things-Store in Facade. Once you’ve arrived in Facade, the Strange-Things-vendor will tell you that he needs three eggplants, three goat hides and three drops of machine oil to restore the map. Luckily, I already had three drops of machine oil from the Junk Heap, and you can luckily hunt down goats at the Eastern Road to the east of the Desert to acquire the goat hides. The eggplants either need to be grown in your garden or you buy them at the grocer, which I did in the home village. Once you’ve restored the map, you bring it to the client’s wife who tells you to find the treasure since she’s worried about her husband. You then head to Popola to decipher the map before you go to the Lost Shrine to a specific room in the northwest of the second floor, where you find the “treasure” that you then have to return to the client’s wife. She then gives you an ornament that you can either keep and sell (as she asks you to) or you let her keep it. Despite having a choice here, you’ll need to keep the ornament and sell it in Facade for an old gold coin. That gold coin needs to be returned to the blacksmith who then gives you his very first map in return. This treasure map needs to be deciphered by Popola, again, and then leads you to the Northern Plains where you need to find it at the “start of a steel bridge” where you then find the Labyrinth’s Shout, the weapon you need for the achievement. Quest completed. As easy as that.

As you can see this quest is super annoying since there are a bunch of trips back and forth from the Village to Facade. What’s annoying is that you’ll need to make these trips back and forth on foot or while riding your boar unless you’ve unlocked the canal already. Even with the canal, you’ll still need to travel via “fast-travel” to the desert (since there is no canal in Facade) and then head to the opposite side of the desert to Facade and then you need to go to the Strange-Things-Shop… and then you make the same trip back… and you do that a bunch of times, essentially. Super annoying. Also, you need to gather the materials and find the treasure in the Shade-ridden Lost Shrine and it was just a nightmare of a quest really… Was it worth it? Kind of? I’ll get the achievement, after all, which is nice, but at the same time, the weapon itself is not that good really, so if you don’t go for the achievement, just skip this quest.

As for the last three weapons, I’ll need to complete “The Magical Stone” to find the Iron Pipe… and I’ll need to find the Dragoon Lance and the Pheonix Sword in the Shadowlord’s Castle. The Dragoon Lance apparently is a weapon found in Drakengard while the Pheonix Sword can be found in Automata, too, so that’s quite nice.

Either way, I hope you enjoyed this post. I hated that quest up there so much just because of how many trips it took and just because of how much that weapon wasn’t worth it stat-wise… but I got it! So that’s nice.

Cheers!

This post was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken.

Game/Category Choice – What to look out for?

Today I wanted to talk about the age-old question of what category do you choose when you start streaming or when you plan streams. For context, there are plenty of people that start streaming on Twitch and then choose an over-saturated category and wonder why they get no viewers or they just complain about it. I feel like there are plenty of issues when it comes to categories and there are a lot of things that one need to think about, which is why I wanted to talk about how I approach this topic and how I plan streams. I’ll also give a few examples as to what games are very good for growth, from my experience, and what games are not so great.

First of all, here’s a disclaimer: I’m talking about my experience and what I heard from other people or opinions that I agree with based on my experience. So, take all of this with a grain of salt and don’t hate me for it. Thanks.

If you go into the directory on Twitch and look at the first two rows of the categories there, you can find a lot of very popular categories. Now, not every category there is a great category and it really depends on a lot of factors if you’re “successful”. Take Fortnite and League of Legends, for instance: There are 441K viewers in Fortnite active right now and 404K viewers active in League of Legends. These games are very popular. However, because it’s very popular to stream in those categories, it’s even harder to grow there. The League of Legends category features a bunch of pros and Semi-finals at the top with 175K to 4K viewers in the first three rows of the stream. When you click on the category, Twitch will recommend the biggest streams there to you from the get-go unless you filter from low to high, which it doesn’t do because bigger numbers usually mean better streams and Twitch wants people to consume better content so that they can earn more money. From 4K viewers, it goes down pretty fast down to the hundreds, to tenths. Eventually, you see where 60% of Twitch Streamers are: The 0-5 viewer wall and it already takes ages to scroll all the way down there… and it takes even longer to get from 5 viewers to 4 viewers to 3 to 2 to 1 to 0 and there are plenty of people at 0 viewers. It’s very hard to grow in the League of Legends category unless you’re well-known (through social media, YouTube, the Pro-Scene, etc.) or unless you’re very good at the game (again, the Pro-Scene or high-rank players, etc., Mobafire, Guides, etc.). Unless you’re very entertaining, famous or good at the game, you won’t grow, and it’s similar to that in a lot of the other categories at the top of Twitch’s directory.

Note: The numbers have changed since I got done with the write-up, and I can’t be arsed to change them to what they are in the screenshot so… uh… just see it as a range.

A different story, however, are categories like Just Chatting, Music, Minecraft, or New Pokémon Snap. If you’re very talented, you can find a lot of new members for your community in the Music category. The New Pokémon Snap category may be at the top but there aren’t too many streamers in there so the viewers distribute a lot more and it’s easier to find smaller and potentially cosier gems in the masses of streams… The Minecraft category has a lot of huge streams in it but there are also plenty of people that may look at smaller streams or find you through the category. I noticed that I had some of my highest numbers in the Minecraft category in the past because people just like how chill the game is. Meanwhile, Just Chatting is the fastest-growing category on Twitch and is right now at the top of it (at the time of writing). Just Chatting however is tricky to pull off as you need to be able to come up with topics, you may need to be entertaining or you may need to be able to respond properly to messages. At the same time, however, there is plenty of things that you can do in the Just Chatting category like IRL-streams, Reaction-streams or you may just chill and vibe with your community. I’ve found plenty of streamers that I like through the Just Chatting category and I’ve noticed that Just Chatting streams have done really well in terms of new viewers that joined the stream.

So, what I’m trying to say is that the top of the Twitch categories may not be the best choice here because while they may be popular they are also oversaturated. There are exceptions to the rule like with Just Chatting (oversaturated but smaller streams may still find success there), Music, Minecraft or even Pokémon games… but generally speaking, I tend to stray from the top categories just because of how many people there are and how bad discovery is.

Here are by the way the streaming categories that get recommended to me as a viewer. Since I try to create a stream that I’d personally watch, I’d stick to some of these categories like Darkest Dungeon, Just Chatting, Stardew Valley, Cosy Grove, NieR: Replicant, and Hades.

From very popular categories to not so popular categories, and from Tripple A titles to Indie Stuff maybe, I’d say that Indie Games have great communities and often present great opportunities for growth but the question here is: How Indie is too Indie or rather how niche is too niche? Subnautica is a very backseat-y fanbase but it is quite popular, especially with Below Zero’s release date being around the corner (May 14th). Undertale, Darkest Dungeon, Stardew Valley, Graveyard Keeper, and many other titles have great communities that are very loyal to these games, so you may find success via these games… but there also titles whose categories are rather dead in a way. Skul: The Hero Slayer may be a great game but the category is seeing fewer and fewer streamers and viewers as of late which means that the category is slowly dying. One of my all-time favourite titles, Dungeon of the Endless, may be fun to me but it’s somewhat boring to watch which is why the category is basically dead at this point. Sure, you can be the top streamer in the category… but it doesn’t matter if you’re the only streamer and if there are no new viewers in the category. The goal is here to aim for something that has a decent amount of viewers/streamers in it but isn’t too niche and too small or maybe even boring. It all depends on your taste and what you’re going for. Generally speaking, I’d stray from the top categories and just keep to categories that are close to the top but not quite there.

Now, what do I do here? Well, I love streaming NieR: Replicant right now which just recently came out and hence is popular… but while streaming a new game can be quite good for growth it can also result in the opposite effect as people tend to try to avoid spoilers and hence stray from the category for a while. The same goes for Cyberpunk 2077: When a game is that hyped, people will probably avoid it for a while if they plan to play it themselves. Alas, I haven’t found too many new viewers through NieR: Replicant but since I’m having a lot of fun with it and since the game is great, my current viewers seem to be enjoying the streams on Fridays and Saturdays. Meanwhile, I stream Just Chatting and Art Thursdays while I play whatever I feel like on Sundays and Mondays. Art is somewhat big for a category but not too big, which is great… and I tend to find more people through my LGBTQIA+ tag than I do through categories anyways, so it doesn’t really matter. With my streams, I tend to go for cosier vibes and people that want to have a nice and chill time, generally go for smaller streams, so that kind of works, from my experience. I don’t really try to grow too much but I tend to play a lot of Roguelikes and my community likes those. I may play Cities: Skylines tomorrow and ask my chat for help and I’ll see how it goes.

So, let’s sum it up:

  • You don’t typically want to stream in oversaturated categories unless you’re super good at the game.
  • New games can be opportunities but can also cause issues because of people that will spoil you or people that want to avoid spoilers and hence avoid your stream(s).
  • The top categories tend to be quite hard for growth. The bottom is even harder, however.
  • Indie is great but if you’re going for categories that are “too Indie” then you may hinder your growth based on the choice.

All in all, experiment and find your best solution. From my experience, those pointers up there are the best probably. I’d recommend starting off with the “Warming Up” tag and doing Just Chatting before you head into a game or after you’re done with a game as that helps a lot. Adding challenges to your runs can also help out a lot. If you stream in the Retro category, you gotta add the game title into your title so because there are so many games in that category…

Most importantly, have fun and if you’re a good streamer, you’ll find success somehow.

Cheers!

This post was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken.

NieR: Replicant is so much fun!

So, I’ve been playing NieR Replicant √(1.5) as of late. I’m not gonna type out the string of numbers because it essentially is the root of 1.5 and it’s annoying to type, so uh… let’s just stick to √(1.5) or “NieR Replicant” since it essentially is a remake/remaster (or as Yoko Taro calls it: an “upgraded version”). Anyways, today, I wanted to talk about my experience with NieR Replicant and my thoughts on it.

Hence: SPOILER WARNING.

So uh, what is NieR/NieR Replicant? Well, originally there we the Drakengard games and there was this alternate ending (Ending E) that placed two of the characters in present-day Tokyo where they defeat that bad guy and then they get shot by a Fighter Jet… and a few hundred years later NieR Replicant takes place and exclusively in Japan there was also NieR Gestalt, which is essentially the same game but you play as the Father of Yonha who’s naturally older than Replicant’s protagonist. Either way, the brother doesn’t exist in Gestalt and the father doesn’t exist in Replicant and also… apart from a few voice lines, nothing changes really between the versions. NieR Automata takes place a lot later than Replicant and is the direct sequel. Originally, I thought there was a game before that called Grimoire Nier but apparently, that’s just a book that adds further information into the story.

So, in Replicant, we play as the main protagonist (titled by the community as “Nier” but you can name him whatever you want) who’s trying to save his sister from the black scrawl, a fatal disease that plagues our sister. To do so, we fight the Shades and get to know Grimoire Weiss, a magical book that may be able to help us against the Black Scrawl, the Shades and Grimoire Noir, an ancient book found in songs and legends that apparently is behind the Black Scrawl.

From the get-go, I’ll have to say that NieR Replicant is pretty but it isn’t super pretty if that makes sense. A lot of the character models feel unpolished and clunky in contrast to the main characters’ faces and models. Kainé, one of the characters you meet along the way, is very detailed, for instance, to the point where you can see her buttcheeks at times during cutscenes, which is… eh. Speaking of Kainé, her storyline is amazing and I love the character to bits due to her harsh nature and how she’s super honest and straightforward, to the point where she seems almost rude… Also, she swears a lot, which I personally find super cool, actually… What I don’t necessarily mind is her outfit… I’m not a fan of it really but I don’t hate it either. It just feels so out of place. And then there’s Grimoire Weiss as well who is great and who I love absolutely. I love Weiss’ voice acting to bits, although I must say that the English Dub seems to fit him a lot better than the Japanese Dub. Grimoire Weiss is a magical book that allows us to utilize magic and accompanies us on our journey to find and discover the sealed verses in our fight against the Shades!

So, I love the characters… Especially Emil and Weiss. It was nice to see Emil’s backstory and how he became what he is in Automata. And the soundtrack is amazing! But what’s truly fun is… the combat. It’s great! Loved how different weapons combine into new move-sets in NieR Automata… but Replicant has a completely different system with sword combos and a bunch of combo attacks and on top of that, you can also use magic and charge up spells to unleash stronger abilities. Once you get past the (SPOILER) point of no-return (hate that it’s there) aka past the time-skip, you can use two-handed swords as well as swords as well, which is great… and on top of that, you can customise your weapons and spells with “words” that essentially allow you to enhance them with status effects, increased drop rates, increased damage, and other effects! I also really like that you can change all of your shoulder buttons/triggers and re-assign spells to them and move around the ability to evade or defend or you completely remove it.

But yeah, combat feels good and is a lot of fun and I love everything, especially since the story becomes a mix of “wholesome” and “edgy” after the time skip. I absolutely love the different jabs that Yoko Taro took at the game industry and Nintendo in particular with some of the jokes and references there. For starters, there is a boss fight where you fight against this huge robot and Grimoire Weiss complains about his weakness being too obvious. Meanwhile, on another note, the game plays a silly tune when you acquire an item, akin to the Zelda tune that you have when you get an item… but it’s out of sync and sounds silly… and there are other places where I noticed something like that but I don’t wanna spoil that since I found it quite funny actually.

Meanwhile, the themes of the different areas are amazing as well and I really like them. Similar to Automata you have a desert area and a city area with forest and stuff… and you can ride animals, but Replicant’s setting is rather medieval despite it taking place in the future, which is interesting. At the same time, you have a haunted mansion and this lost forest where people are trapped in deadly dreams and where the game suddenly turns into something akin to a Light Novel. There are places where the game shifts into a 2D perspective or a top-down view. Heck, there’s even a space where the game suddenly looks like an isometric RPG akin to the first Fall Out Games, which I found lovely. But the themes that change from the dystopian settings of the junk heap to the ominous Deathdreams in the Forest of Myth to the rule-obsessed masked people in the Desert, there are a lot of topics and feelings that I associate with these areas and levels and places and it’s lovely. I love it. It feels different. It almost turns into a different game suddenly.

And the soundtrack? Well, even with Grimoire Weiss at my side, I don’t have enough words to describe it. It’s fantastic! Anyways, that’s about it for today’s post. I’ll continue to stream the game on Twitch every Friday and Saturday around 9 AM Central European Summer Time if you wanna see me live!

Have you started to play it or have you seen anything of the game yet? What are your thoughts on it so far? I’m really loving it but I also love the whole universe and setting and this weird mix of Science-Fantasy, if that makes sense. Anyways, stay cosy and hydrated.

Cheers!

This post was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken.

An interview with Yandere Dev

So, just recently I made an interview request with Yandere Dev, the developer of Yandere Simulator. The reason for that was because it interested me how development was coming along and what Yandere Dev’s thoughts on accessibility and representation are. I hope you enjoy this interview!

Yandere Dev’s answers are represented in bold/italic text while my questions are in normal formating. Hope it’s clear.

Hello! Can you introduce yourself and tell us what you do, what games you like, your hobbies, etc.?

My name is YandereDev, and I enjoy anime and video games. My favorite games are open-world sandbox games with huge worlds to explore and hundreds of activities to do.

Do you think that Yandere Simulator is a “good game”? (As context, I’ve heard from developers that they are never satisfied with their work. Do you as a developer feel the same. Do you think that your game needs a lot more work to be “good” or do you have other thoughts on this?)

The game isn’t done yet, so I feel that it’s too early to judge it. With that said, I think that I’m disqualified from being allowed to judge the game since I’m too close to it to be able to judge it impartially. I’ll have to let other people tell me whether or not it’s a good game.

I’m always finding new ways to improve the game, but I’m not sure if that’s the same thing as “never being satisfied” with the game. I don’t think I’ll be able to judge how satisfied or dissatisfied I am until after the game is completed.

At this point in time, the primary work that remains to be done is not gameplay-related but simply adding a few more characters so that the story mode can be complete.

What inspired you to create Yandere Simulator?

Before I started developing Yandere Simulator, I had a ton of other game ideas and developed a bunch of simple game prototypes. However, I lacked the models and animations necessary to actually turn those prototypes into finished games, so none of them left the prototype stage. I decided that my next game should be designed around models and animations that I had access to, so I could finally go further than prototyping.

I searched for models in an online store and spotted an “anime schoolgirl” character model. This made me try to imagine a game with an anime schoolgirl for a protagonist. I asked a friend of mine for suggestions, and he proposed a “delinquent simulator”. I tried to imagine the most extreme version of that idea, which made me envision a game about serial killing, instead of mere delinquency. I asked myself what kind of schoolgirl would kill people, and instantly thought of the “yandere” archetype – a character that kills because of jealousy.

I asked a high-traffic message board if they would be interested in a “yandere simulator”, and received a very positive response. All of my previous game ideas had not generated very much interest or excitement, so when I saw people getting hyped about this “yandere simulator” idea, I knew that it had potential to be a successful game. Just one thread about the game was enough to convince me to begin developing it immediately.

How is development coming along? I’ve seen that it’s been in development for seven years. How long do you expect the development to take? 

At the beginning of the game’s development, I was only concerned with one thing – going down the checklist of features that the game required. But, over the course of the game’s development, I observed that people were finding fun and interesting ways to enjoy the game even without an official rival girl to kill. This showed me how much potential there was for Yandere Simulator to bring people far more enjoyment than originally intended. So, I updated my priorities and started expanding the game in multiple different directions. Instead of focusing exclusively on core features and rivals, I filled the game with tons of content, features, and activities that were not part of the initial plan, and I took the time to collaborate with amazing people to make awesome videos for my YouTube channel.

This contributed to Yandere Simulator spending more time in development than I originally anticipated…but, that’s because the game has been evolving into something with much more potential than the game that was initially planned. And…I can’t really see that as a bad thing.

I observed what the community enjoyed, and I adjusted my focus accordingly. Instead of keeping Yandere Simulator locked to one path, I allowed Yandere Simulator to become something that is free to change and evolve whenever I make new observations and discoveries.

When I look in the Yandere Simulator Discord, I see an incredible amount of variety in what people are doing with the game. I see people showing off screenshots they made using Pose Mode. I see people challenging one another with Mission Mode codes. I see people showing off the mods they’re developing. I see people creating custom skins and sharing them. Yandere Simulator started out as “Anime Girl Hitman”, but throughout its development, it evolved into something way better – a platform that offers a wide variety of fun activities and experiences. And I feel happy that I’ve created something that gives people so many different ways to be creative and have fun.

I don’t think of Yandere Simulator as “A game that still isn’t finished after 7 years.” Instead, I think of Yandere Simulator as, “A game that has been regularly updated with new features and new content for 7 years.”

Do you plan on releasing it on any platforms like Steam or Epic Games? The Epic Games Store in particular is known for giving funds to developers. Is that something you ever considered?

I’d like to put it on Steam eventually. I’d be happy to strike a deal with the Epic Games Store.

I’ve heard in one of your videos that you’re describing Yandere Sim as a mix of Hitman and the Persona series. How do you plan on combining the disposable characters of the Hitman universe with the character-driven and story-driven aspects of the Persona series? How does this mix of these two vastly different games work?

Each character in the school can be of use to the player in some way. If the player befriends a character, that character can provide some type of service, be used to distract other students or play a role in certain scripted events. If the player kills a student, the player loses all of those advantages. However, a student can also be an obstacle, if they are protecting another character or are present to witness a crime. It’s up to the player to decide whether or not it’s worth it to kill a student and sacrifice the advantages that the student might have brought them.

What are some gameplay elements that are still planned for the future? 

Nearly every gameplay mechanic I wanted to put in the game is already in the game. At this point, only minor adjustments and tweaks remain.

When you’re working on Yandere Sim, what do you enjoy the most? Aka what part of your job is the most fulfilling and satisfying for you? Where do you take joy in your work?

Interacting with the fans is incredibly rewarding and fulfilling. It’s where all the joy of the job comes from.

What are your thoughts on accessibility in games?

I’ve always thought that it was very praiseworthy whenever a game developer puts in the extra work and effort to make their game accessible to people who may be dealing with a physical handicap.

How do you try to make Yandere Sim accessible to other people?

I’ve tried my best to make sure that nothing in the game relies on color so that the game can be easily played by the colorblind. With that said, a colorblind friend of mine has still been able to identify places in the game that use color for gameplay, so I still have some work to do in that regard. Aside from that, I haven’t yet had enough discussions with players to determine what could be done to make the game more accessible than it currently is.

How important do you think that accessibility is?

Ignoring accessibility means reducing the number of people who can enjoy your video game.

Will there be options to turn off graphical effects such as bloom, bright lights, colour filters, etc.? Do you think that features like that are important in game design?

These all sound like good ideas.

Will you be able to remap keys? How important do you think will this feature be for the enjoyment of players?

I’ve long wanted to provide the ability to remap keys, but it has proven to be difficult. A lot of players have requested this. I hope that I’ll be able to get it done in the future.

How do you feel about representation in games aka being able to create your character and customise their appearance, skin colour, sex, and gender? 

It’s a feature that I always appreciate having in games.

Do you think that players should be able to select a same-sex senpai? Are there any issues with that? How do you feel about LGTBQIA+ representation in Yandere Sim?

I’d like to offer a same-sex senpai, but it depends on the budget. It requires animations and voice lines, which would have to be paid for.

What is some advice you would give to other developers in regards to accessibility, player representation, and other topics that are important in game development?

I understand that what a game developer can do is limited by their time and their budget. The same expectations cannot be given to two different developers operating with completely different timelines and funding. So, there is no one statement I can give that applies to all game developers.

Over seven years, Yandere Sim has not only faced good press but also a lot of allegations. What is your stance on it? How do you deal with it and what is your advice for other developers when it comes to dealing with critics and bad press?

The first thing you must understand is that public humiliation is a very profitable entertainment industry. You can very easily get millions of views on YouTube simply by making a video where you shame and ridicule someone. It’s even easier to get views if you make a video about a YouTuber with lots of subscribers because YouTube’s algorithm will push your video to each of that person’s followers.

I’ve been targeted by drama YouTubers who make trashy tabloid-style videos where they demonize and vilify me because they know that these videos will get them tons of attention and money. The majority of claims they make about me are heavily exaggerated or outright false, and it’s trivially easy to debunk pretty much everything they say. However, people value entertaining narratives far more than they value truth and reality.

If I treat my fans like kings and queens, it doesn’t matter, because “YandereDev treats his fans bad” is a more entertaining narrative. If I am a competent programmer, it doesn’t matter, because “YandereDev sucks at code” is a more entertaining narrative. If I am attracted to adult women, it doesn’t matter, because “YandereDev is a paedophile” is a more entertaining narrative.

In short, I’ve been selected as a human sacrifice for the public humiliation entertainment industry because of my subscriber count. Numerous false narratives and untrue accusations have been made about me because the more scandalous the drama is, the more clicks and views people will get. I have been turned into a punching bag for the Internet to harass and abuse, not because I’m a bad guy, but because I’ve been framed as a bad guy.

It can all be summarized by one very simple statement: Your reputation is determined by what people enjoy saying about you, even if nothing that they are saying is true.

Do you think that the art and the artist should be looked at separately?

Yes.

Among the allegations, some people get upset about the fact that you can take panty shots of high school students. Is that still a mechanic in the game? If so, are there any plans of removing it or is there a reason why it stays/will stay? What are the alternatives for it?

It’s an anime trope. Anyone who gets offended by it is too sensitive. There are many alternatives to the feature, anyway.

Twitch also banned Yandere Sim on their platform. How do you feel about that? Do you think that this is justified? Do you ever believe that the game will be unbanned?

It sucks. It’s not justified at all. There is no content in Yandere Sim that is not present in other games that are not banned on Twitch.

What are your thoughts on (cyber-)bullying? Do you think games should be allowed to endorse topics or don’t you think that it may be a bit problematic?

Actual bullying that occurs in real life – not in the fictional realm of a video game – is unforgivable. Abusing, mistreating, and harassing others is never okay, whether it’s occurring in person or over the Internet.

Now, there are also other things that people bring up from your past that I don’t want to get into detail. How do you feel about that?

Digging into someone’s past to look for dirt on them to shame and humiliate them is deplorable behaviour, and should not be normalized. Every allegation made about me is disprovable.

Does all the negative press affect you mentally? What do you do to deal with this?

As a result of being portrayed as a villain by dishonest YouTubers, my life has been absolutely destroyed. I have been harassed in various ways on a daily basis for the past several years, and the harassment has only grown more intense with the passage of time. It’s safe to assume that I will continue to be harassed every day for the rest of my life and that the severity of the harassment will only continue to intensify. There is no reason for me to have any hope for the future. I don’t even have a future anymore. The harassment isn’t going to stop until I’m dead. Every time I ask myself why I should keep living, I fail to find an answer.

Being harassed on a daily basis for multiple years has made me severely depressed and robbed me of all motivation to work on the game project that I’ve dedicated 7 years of my life to. It’s impossible to be productive while experiencing abuse and mistreatment every hour of the day. The game that I’m developing definitely would have been finished by now if I had never been made the target of a multiple-year-long harassment campaign.

Even when I keep my head down and don’t do anything to attract attention, people constantly invent new reasons to harass me. My life is ruined and can never be repaired. The only thing I wish for is to live in peace, but I am not even allowed to have that.

Do you have any finishing words you’d like to mention to my readers? Do you have any general advice for game developers? If you could redo things, what would you do differently? 

The one piece of advice that I believe is most important is to start with small, simple projects, and gradually work your way up to more complex projects. Definitely do not begin doing anything complicated or ambitious until after you’ve gained a lot of experience with more simple projects.

Any finishing words on Yandere Simulator. Who would you recommend this game to? Where can people check out the game?

It’s for fans of anime and video games. You can check it out at yanderesimulator.com.

So, yeah, that was the interview with Yandere Dev. My opinion on Yandere Simulator changed over time and with me finding out about all these allegations, I wasn’t sure how to approach this interview but I think giving him a platform of sorts where he can talk about his feelings and opinions would be nice. Hope you enjoyed this post!

Cheers!

This post was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken.

Indietail – Hardspace: Shipbreaker

Ever since I was a child, I’d end up gazing up to the night sky in awe as it was brightening up with the light of distant stars and other planetary objects. It was fascinating to imagine what it was like out there and I always dreamt of becoming an astronaut or travelling space someday… but I knew that I’d never actually make it up there, especially because space is actually quite terrifying. Either way, it’s amazing that people are already able to shoot space ships up there and travel to space stations with drones making their way to Mars and scientists searching for other exoplanets. It’d be amazing to live in a time where humans have set foot on other planets in the solar system already and where people could live far, far away from this problem-ridden planet here called Earth. Well, today’s review is about a title that plays in exactly that sort of time, Hardspace: Shipbreaker!

Developer: Blackbird Interactive
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Genre: Simulation, Sci-Fi, Space, Early Access, Physics
Release Date: June 16th, 2020
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC
Copy was purchased.

In the aforementioned age of planetary colonisation, space ships have become more and more common and companies have taken command of space travel and turned into their own business. I guess this is somewhat realistic if you think about how Google, Tesla, and other companies are being idolized nowadays and how these companies are getting contracted by countries and governments. Anyways, in this day and age, where many humans have fled to other planets, there is one company that owns and operates a network of massive rail gates that let you warp through the inner solar system. This company called LYNX is actually also your boss in this game as you’ve signed away your rights and as you became a cutter in order to pay off your massive debt of a billion credits.

Being a cutter entails taking apart ships during your 15-minute shifts and processing the parts to make money for LYNX and to ultimate dig away at the aforementioned debt. It may seem daunting but in the future, this is your only option really, which is why your playthrough is dictated by efficiency and debt. You own nothing. Not your tools, not your home, not even your life. If you die, you get resurrect since LYNX owns your DNA signature. This process of resurrection costs a hefty amount of money which will be added to your debt. So, let’s dive in and play some Reverse-Lego, shall we?

Another day, another job!

You, as the player and the so-called “cutter”, own a set of tools that help you with your work orders. For starters, you own a tether-powered grapple that can be utilized to move around or push/pull ship parts into the appropriate places. Raw metal belongs in the furnace. Nanocarbon goes into the Processor. Salvage-able parts like seats, terminals and cargo belong in the barge. In case you don’t know where a part goes, your UI will tell you, so don’t worry too much about it. Another tool of yours is a laser cutter that allows you to take apart the ships at certain points in it, as well as a scanner that can be used to locate rooms, objects and potential threats. Yes, there are threats in this game… Not only can you run out of oxygen or get melted in the furnace but there are also power cables that can electrocute you, fuel tanks that can burn you to a crisp and reactors that can blow up on you. Naturally, you’ll be cloned and hence, resurrected… but again, that costs money, not to mention that explosions will cause a loss of money.

Let’s upgrade our Grapple some more!

But overall, the game’s very chill. I wouldn’t worry about min-maxing your shifts or getting everything done in one go… I wouldn’t worry about the certification grades or whatever. Play the game at your own place. There even is a mode that allows you to play with only one life while another game mode allows you to engage in free play or play without a time/oxygen-limited. The game is meant to be relaxing. If you enjoy the challenge, there are weekly challenges in the game as well with leaderboards and an active community… but really, this is my go-to “chill out” game for when I need to calm down, relax, or distract myself. Taking apart space ships is amazing, the game looks stunning, and the soundtrack is wonderful. Pair that with the wonderful eye candy that has been added recently and the humour in some of the dialogue and you’ve got a fantastic game that is already quite polished despite being in Early Access.

Inside the processor it goes! This should give us some good money!

The game gets updated frequently and while the debt isn’t too much of a concern, it’s a bit annoying that your save file gets wiped whenever there is a major update. I’d love it if the developers would give you a way to keep your save file but still play the new update. Apart from that, though, there aren’t really too many concerns. I’d love to see more story-related interactions in the game, to be honest, but I don’t mind the lack of a story. There are data-boxes that you can encrypt with messages left by evil AIs, former crewmates of the ships you take apart, as well as other people involved with the crew, which is interesting.

We made a good profit in this shift… but the rental fees are wrecking me. -.-

As an insert here, I’d like to mention that my absolute favourite of the game is the ability to take apart ghost ships. They are seriously creepy, especially since they need to be “exorcised” by destroying AI Nodes… If you don’t do that, you may end up getting locked in by the AI, which is not only spooky but also quite fun. Apart from that, I also love the stickers you can put on your grapple and the cutter… and I love the little backstories you get from data caches.

There’s the power generator. Let’s take it out!

The game contains flashing lights at times, so I wouldn’t recommend this to you if you have any issues with that, but otherwise, it’s a very nice and chill experience in my opinion. It’s a lot of fun to take apart the ships and I’m looking forward to writing another post on future updates once there are more coming out. There may be bugs since it’s still in EA but personally, I have only encountered one crash in my 30 hours of playtime (so far) and I doubt that I’ll encounter many more since the game seems to be fairly polished. All in all, Hardspace: Shipbreaker is a very satisfying and relaxing game that lets you take your time in space while you destroy or blow up abandoned space ships and slowly get rid of that debt! Highly recommend it!

Anyways, that’s it for the post today. Hope you enjoyed it!

Cheers!

This post was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken.

JJK-Appreciation Post

While I originally planned on taking a look at more demos today, I decided against that since one of the demos wasn’t available anymore and the other ones were causing troubles with my eyes. Today, I’ve been struggling quite hard with my migraine and for whatever reason, it’s acting up more whenever I tried to play a game and found some lighting that’s been weird and then I wanted to start up the other one but I’m in a slump today and couldn’t find the drive to start it up, let alone write about it. Me being in a slump and also me being in pain are two reasons why I’m not going to look at a game today. Neither demos nor reviews. I don’t want to talk badly about a game just because I feel bad and I want to be in a better mindset when I try out games again… Hence, I decided to weeb out about some shows that I love and adore that came out last season or this season and that people need to watch… But then I noticed that I filled out the post completely with me fanboying over Jujutsu Kaisen, so… uh… this post is now about Jujutsu Kaisen, I guess.

First of all, shoutouts to awesome people like MoeGamerPetePinkie and Fujo as they make me believe that the anime/manga community isn’t actually as toxic as I thought it was. I had way too many bad experiences with countless bigots, incels, sexists, and other idiots in the past, especially with the countless forms of gatekeeping in the community… I really hated the fact that I actually enjoy anime/manga. So, these guys up there are great and I can’t recommend their blogs enough. Pete can also be found over here where he wrote a nice article on Kana Little Sister!

That being said, I wanted to talk about a show that I’ve watched last season and shows that I’m watching this season and that more people need to watch.

For starters, you may have seen this incoming since I linked to Fujo’s JJK post, but I’m a huge fan of Jujutsu Kaisen and it’s just glorious. As Fujo already pointed out, all the men in there are hotties… and I’d love to switch places with them via a simple clap (heh). The fights are awesome, the manga was co-written by great minds… The sound design is incredible. I think JJK may be one of the best-produced shows from last season with great minds like Hiroshi Seko, Hiroaki Tsutsumi, Tadashi Hiramatsu, and Seong-Hu Park in the team. 

The director, Seong-Hu Park, is known for his work on Space Dandy, The God Of High School (he worked on the animation aka the only good part), FMA: Brotherhood, Yuri!!! on Ice, Zankyou no Terror (underrated as fuck!), and Zombieland Saga. I mean, him having worked on the key animation of some of Space Dandy’s episode is already enough to convince me that he’s great and that he made JJK such a great adaptation… but I honestly, before I wrote this post, I didn’t know that he was involved in Zankyou no Terror… an absolutely stunning show. Maybe I’ll talk about that another time. Anyways, Hiroaki Tsutsumi worked on the Soundtrack of JJK, Devil May Cry (the anime), Dr. Stone, Ao Haru Ride, Kuromukuro (underrated show!), and Orange, which is already a great portfolio I’d say. His work on Kuromukuro and Dr Stone made me a fan… and frankly, there aren’t any bad tracks in the JJK soundtrack. You can listen to it on Spotify and not only do the openings slay but the endings are wonderful and the overall theme of the score is amazing and I love it and my vocabulary isn’t advanced enough in terms of soundtrack and music, so I can’t really say more about it. Just listen to it. Do it. Now. I should maybe also mention that Wonder Egg Priority’s Sound Director, Akiko Fujita, also played a big part in making the soundtrack this good in JJK but I frankly don’t really know too much about peoples’ roles, so I don’t know if the Sound Director has as big of an impact as the composer of the soundtrack. I loved his work on Wonder Egg Priority, so I figured I need to mention him regardless of what a sound director actually does. Yes, I’m a pleb. Anyways, Tadashi Hiramatsu worked previously on Key Animation in Beck, Banana Fish, FLCL, Parasite, Mushishi (one of my favourite shows btw), Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (yes, also one of my favourites), and Yuri!!! on Ice, so it was clear to me that this show would be amazing once I’d watch it. At last but not least, there is also Hiroshi Seko who worked on JJK’s Series Composition and I frankly love his work on the Series Composition and/or Scripts of Kill La Kill (great show!), Attack Titan, Mob Psycho 100 (great show!), Inuyashiki (amazing show!), Vinland Saga (amazing show), Zankyou no Terror (again), Banana Fish, and Dorohedoro.

Again, the staff has been filled with nothing but talent and it’s amazing to see that it actually paid out as the show was a major success. It seems that they got the shounen-formula down and I really like how they rush from combat to combat but keep the momentum going without adding filler. This is something that a lot of shows have done in the past where they tried to keep things spicy but at the same time, JJK manages to give us brief moments to catch our breathes so that the show doesn’t actually feel rushed. The story could very much be compared to JJK’s combat in a way as it really packs a punch, giving you what you want, kind of baiting you in, trying to get your attention, and once it has your attention it comes up with something completely different that you didn’t know you wanted until you got it. Now, it basically just sounds like I’m fanboying over JJK but… no, wait, I AM just fanboying over JJK. Never mind. It’s true. I love the show. The soundtrack, again, super good! The animation, again, super good! Everything, again, super good. I love it.

The premise itself is relatively easy. A lot of things happen, so Itadori Yuji, the main character, attends a “school” to train in exorcising curses that are created by negative feelings… and it’s good. I can’t really say much here, really. The Manga has been amazing. The show is basically a typical shounen show but with a few twists to it… It kind of reminded me Naruto premise-wise but in a good way as I actually liked Naruto and the combat is great and the characters are adorable and the show made me chuckle quite a bit actually, so, naturally, I’ll write about it.

But I don’t really have much else to say about the show that wouldn’t result in major spoilers, so uh, that was it for the post. You gotta watch JJK. Do it. Now.

Cheers!

This post was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken.

LudoNarraCon 2021 – Demos

I’m a bit late on this train but the LudoNarraCon has been going on since Friday and well, it will end today. I hence wanted to talk about some of the games that I got to play in light of the new demo releases presented by Fellow Traveller (the publisher of In Other Waters).

One of the titles that I’ve been especially excited about was Tunic but sadly I couldn’t get the demo to work. There are no settings in there nor are there any control schemes. You just spawn in and the game kinda tells you what to do when you need it but for whatever reason, it didn’t want to respond to my controller/keyboard inputs. After a while, it worked and I got some slashes into a slime-thing but then it stopped working again, so uh,… I guess the demo is VERY early, which is disappointing since what I saw at the GamesCom was amazing and worked just fine. But regardless of that, I’m quite excited about Tunic. Not only is it published by Finji but it also is an action-adventure that has a lot of exploration in it as well as some obvious Zelda references. The cute art style paired with the nice combat that I got to see at the GamesCom demo… It was amazing. Really enjoyed it. Looking forward to checking it out eventually once there is a better demo out or once the full game releases!

Moving on, we’ve got a demo here for a game called NUTS where we research squirrels and their behaviours. From the get-go, I’ve got to say that Melmoth Forest and our little research caravan looks stunning. NUTS is very stylised with few but very vibrant colours and a lot of interesting mechanics. In a way, this game kind of reminds me of Firewatch and maybe even Papers, Please? It’s an interesting title where we place down cameras to track down squirrels’ nests and nut staches and document it and I’m also looking forward to this title, although I’m wondering where the story will lead us. While the demo is rather short (at only half an hour), it’s quite enjoyable. I guess people could take less time in the demo but I was messing around quite a bit and also ended up failing the camera placement a few times, resulting in me taking eight nights to figure out where the nut stash is.

As for the next demo, it took me a while to get it but Mind Scanners seems to be a “Papers, Please!”-like simulation type game where you cure insane people or declare people sane. There is this big authority in that world that lets you scan people’s mind to figure out their mental illnesses and rid them of anxieties and other issues… but not all of what they’re doing is good and because of that it’s your choice if you want to listen to the orders from above or if you want to help the rebel group, Moonshine, to accomplish their goals. I had fun but the demo is relatively short, so I’ll have to see how the full game plays out.

Out There: Oceans of Time looked interesting but ended up being rather frustrating. It’s supposed to be a Roguelite-Survival game with Exploration and Space-RPG elements to it and there is this story about an Archon that you’re pursuing but the demo just drops you into that whole world and does little to explain anything. “These places have resources that you need, so go there if you wanna” and then you take your crew there and they have abilities (that the game doesn’t really tell you about) and you can scan planets and drill or probe them but it’s all super weirdly presented. Don’t get me wrong, I’d be up for a roguelike-survival experience with exploration, alien races and this sort of art style but I don’t think that Out There is going to be the game for me if there’s not even going to be a tutorial or any sort of help for new players.

Last but absolutely not least, Minute of Islands is a hand-drawn puzzle platformer about a young mechanic called Mo on her quest to repair a world on the brink of collapse. The art style is adorable and the world is… maybe a bit disturbing, which is something that I adore and love. It kind of reminded me of a mix of Little Misfortune and Adventure Time, in a way? Disturbing elements paired with topics like Mental Illness, Anxiety, and maybe even Depression all packed together in a very cute and adorable hand-drawn art style. I can’t get too much into any details here because of spoilers but I’ve really enjoyed this game to bits for the last hour or so, and honestly wouldn’t have imagined that this demo would go on for this long. I’m excited about the full game and I’m looking forward to potentially writing about it! On another note, this game’s developer, Studio Fizbin, is also from Germany and they developed The Inner World before, which is a very cool title that Ms Magi actually likes a lot. Hence, I’m really looking forward to playing that since I own it as well on some platform… maybe I’ll write about that as well since I haven’t covered anything by Studio Fizbin before.

Anyways, since I’ve been so englamoured by Minute of Islands, I didn’t get to play the other demos I had planned for today, hence here are some honourable mentions in case that the demos aren’t available tomorrow:

  • Exocolonist
  • Chicory: A Colourful Tale
  • Do Not Buy This Game
  • The Murder Mystery Machine

I would have liked to play those games already today but it seems like I’m running out of time,… so let’s hope that they’re still available tomorrow for me to check them out after university. My highlights today were definitely Mind Scanners, NUTS, and Minute of Islands!

Anyways, hope you enjoyed this post! Make sure to check those demos out yourself or maybe wishlist the games on Steam/follow them on social media for more updates. 

Cheers!

This post was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken.

Indietail – Skul: The Hero Slayer

Roguelites can be rather difficult and sometimes even frustrating. At times it’s very important to see what you already and what you still need in terms of specific stats or items. Knowledge is key more often than not and can turn a bad run into a good run. That part specifically is what makes me appreciate roguelikes so much. I really like them. More importantly, it’s important to remain calm and not lose your head… or maybe you need to do exactly that like in Skul: The Hero Slayer!

Developer: SouthPAW Games
Publisher: NEOWIZ
Genre: Action, Roguelite, 2D, Platformer, Indie
Release Date: January 21st, 2021
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC
Copy was purchased.

After the Adventurers joined forces with the Imperial Army and the “Hero of Caerleon”, the Demon King’s castle has fallen. All of the castle’s demons were taken prisoner except for one lone skeleton named “Skul”… So, it’s time for us to step into the role of Skul who’s doing his best to save the Demon King by himself!

BEASTMODE ACTIVATED

Skul is a challenging Action-Roguelite-Platformer that seems to have taken some inspiration from Dead Cells and maybe even Majora’s Mask. Your character may not be the strongest but you can switch out your head throughout your journey and enable yourself to inherit its unique abilities and characteristics. There are 30 different skulls to find throughout your journey, ranging from a fast-hitting and agile thief to a slow archmage to a Dead Cells cameo. Being able to swap skulls on a button press, enables you to change your playstyle on a whim and pick a bone with enemies while covering your weaknesses with different synergies between characters. At the same time, you can enhance your character by acquiring items that on their own also feature unique abilities like dropping a bomb upon swapping or enhancing your physical/magical attack but that also feature synergies in the form of traits. Traits add another layer to builds and strategies in Skul: The Hero Slayer as they can stack and form your build as you move on. You can equip up to nine different weapons and two skulls as well as one equipment piece that you can actively use in combat. The traits you have work in a lot of different ways. The Chase Trait enhances your damage based on the distance to your enemy while the Endure Trait reduces the damage taken. There are also more elaborate traits in the game that summon spirits, magma balls or even increase the damage you take and deal by a percentage, enabling you to really add a lot of synergies and develop incredibly strong runs, which is amazing!

Is that a Naruto-reference? Of course it is!

On another note, you’ll encounter doors to other maps after you complete a map and clear the encounter. Similar to games like Slay The Spire and Curse of the Dead Gods, you can choose where you go and shape your build even more based on what you need. Are you in need of more gold or a new item? Do you want more bones or rather a new character? The doors lead the way. Duh. I like these small additions that on their own may not contribute to a lot but overall give you a lot of freedom as to how your build will shape out and how you want to play the game. There are also special maps like the Bazaar where you can heal up, buy items, get a skull or even other powerful pieces of equipment. There are also mini-bosses in the form of Adventurers that have been hired to deal with you, challenge rooms that can award you with amazing additions to your build but that will also pose a serious threat to you and your run, or even boss encounters where you face off against the Elder Treant or a mad Alchemist. There are five different areas in the game, each with their unique mechanics and enemies. The further you proceed, the more dark quartz and money you’ll earn. Money can be spent in the run itself while Dark Quartz is a permanent currency you use to improve your skull or get a headstart into your run through the power of vendors that you unlock as time goes on.

So many enemies… and only one lone skul.

Skul not only shines through the strategic potential and the challenging yet satisfying combat but also through the Art it uses. Each skull feels unique and looks amazing. The spell effects of your skills range from powerful energy balls and summons to blink and slash effects, and overall also look powerful. That’s something that is just as important to me as gunplay in shooters. If you use a spell and it doesn’t feel as strong as it is, it takes away from the overall experience. In Skul, however, you can summon a giant meteor and feel the impact through the screen as you see your enemies get obliterated. Your slashes feel fast and satisfying. Your stomps feel heavy and strong. Your arrows are alright. I love the art style and the effects and while the music in the game is nothing special, it still adds to the experience, at least a little bit.

UwU it’s a witch and a cute one at that! OwO

But apart from that, there are also a few weaknesses to Skul… For starters, the major bosses you encounter feel nice when you beat them for the first time but they eventually turn into annoying roadblocks instead of actual foes that you need to slay. They still are challenging but I would have liked to see modifiers in the game that make the bosses more challenging or add unique attacks to it, similar to how Hades does it or even Risk of Rain 2. At the same time, I’d like to make another comparison to Hades as that game showed how well story-telling can be done in Roguelites, so it’s kind of bad to see how poorly the (rather obvious) story is executed in Skul. I either would have liked a better story with more interesting dialogue or just no story at all. It’s a bit of a bummer but can’t be helped. 

I look so evil! I love it!

The characters in the game, though, are more than endearing and adorable. There is a shapeshifting witch and an ogre merchant as well as an evil druid that all help you out on your runs. Similarly, you get to free people and get rewarded for it and there are special encounters at times that are challenging but fun. The whole narrative of the bad guys (aka us, the skeletons, demons and the Demon King) actually being the good guys is something I love and adore and I want more of that. It’s nice to see a change of pace. The Pixel Art and Gameplay are amazing and while I would have liked a better story and more variety in the boss fights… and while some of the translation errors bother me at times, I can look past those weaknesses and say proudly that I love Skul: The Hero Slayer and that I can highly recommend it.

Cheers!

This post was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken.

Taking pride in what I do

My parents always kind of told me to not be too proud of things. I’ve heard similar things from a friend from Sweden once and from friends from a bunch of other countries and it’s just this kind of thing where you’re supposed to learn from mistakes and you’re not supposed to be too proud of your success because you’ll get complacent and cocky, I guess?

Well, today, I wanted to do the opposite. I kind of wanted to be proud of myself and started editing a video together. I cut a VOD from Twitch into tons of clips, deleted a lot of less entertaining stuff, and really enjoyed eventually creating this ten-minute long video that is sort of entertaining… At least it makes me chuckle here and there and I hope that it brings a smile onto other people’s faces as well.

Similarly, I’ve been very proud of a recent stream that I did over on Twitch and I’m looking forward to developing my branding and theme even more so that the Crypt becomes an actual place where people come to rest in peace without any of that negative stuff that living people have to deal with.

And then I’ve also been quite proud of my blog here. I rarely ever talk about numbers, mostly because I don’t know if I need to be proud of it… but… these past few months (especially ever since I started posting daily) have been amazing numbers-wise and while I know that this post will most likely not give that many impressions/views/etc., I am quite proud to announce that the past few months have been doubling previous numbers while this month is nearly tripling past months’ numbers, which is amazing. My review on Ape Out is reeling in some good numbers, despite it being only two days old, which is exciting because I’ve never been this proud of any of my reviews before. I feel like I actually got my thought process and my philosophy out and that Ape Out really enabled me to do so. Putting my thoughts into words is hard for me, especially since English my third language, but I feel like I did a good job this time around and I hope that I’ll continue to create (subjectively speaking/from my perspective) “good reviews” that I’ll be satisfied with. Reviews don’t normally get that many impressions short-term but they get more and more over time. The Steam Curator page is getting more impressions, however, and apparently, my blog is influencing quite a few views, which is a new one for me… and it’s great to see that. I’m essentially doing what I tried to do here: Give people reviews on Indie Gems that hardly anyone knows about! Really excited about that!

Now, obviously, my head’s still very much thinking that this post is stupid and that I’m misbehaving for actually taking pride in my work here… but I feel like it’s important for me to take pride in what I accomplish and to not dwell too much on what I could have done better. It’s something that I try to get better bit by bit, day by day. It’s a skill that I need so that my headspace doesn’t get too bad. Otherwise, I’ll end up overthinking everything and it puts me in a very bad space. So, today, I celebrate this stuff.

To sum it all up, I worked on a video, actually familiarised myself with DaVinci Resolve and even figured out how to render & save a project without googling it… I ended up creating some nice posts over the last couple of weeks and have been at it for 118 days now (including today)… and my streams have been good and I even have plenty of ideas in regards to animations I want to create for alerts, scenes, etc. Really excited about all of that so, today I want to cheers myself and pat myself on the back. Hope that doesn’t sound too conceited or cocky or whatever but this is just for me and my mental health. Thus,…

Cheers!

This post was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken.

#allesdichtmachen – Is this satire or can we throw it away?

So, Covid is still a thing and my city (among many others) are facing curfews, lockdowns, and many many more restrictions… which is great. I’m all for that. It’s not the best for my mental health but it certainly is better than being able to go to a bar with friends at the small cost of human lives. There are a lot of issues that I have with the government regarding the current school politics, the forced tests, the constant switching between distance-learning and split classes studying together in a classroom, etc. I hate it. I don’t get it. I feel bad for the children and the parents but that’s a whole different topic, I guess. Today I wanted to talk about #allesdichtmachen (#closeupeverything) which has been trending on Twitter today because some German actors decided to mock the pandemic, “satirically” commenting on the government’s pandemic restrictions. This was directed by a director from Munich and 50-something actors uploaded videos on a YouTube channel where they say stuff like “You need to close all of the stores, including groceries, so that not only our souls starve” or “Without fear, I have fear, so please give us more fear”, etc.

Freedom to be cynical?

It’s apparently supposed to be ironic and quirky and satire and whatever but nobody sees that. The far-right and covid-deniers are applauding and using this to fuel their own narratives. Conspiracy-theorists count these actors as their supporters to gain more traction. These narratives that these actors “ironically” were painting is being used to fuel similar narratives. It all sounds the same. They’re mocking measures that save lives while ridiculing the efforts of our government. Sure, our government isn’t the best in the world and sure, it’s not going well right now. Sure, this pandemic has been going on for ages now… but effectively, they don’t publish troll videos where they mock the lives lost, which makes them better than these actors, in my opinion. These actors are “concerned about the loss of culture” in the form of theatre, movies, shows, etc. They are, to put it bluntly, concerned about not being able to fatten their pockets. Established actors are concerned about not being able to make more money by going to work. They felt the need to publish these videos and now the backlash is coming and they blame it on cancel culture and they help the far-right and covidiots paint this picture of the journalists, social media, and the government being controlled. These far-right politicians and covidiots say that we live in a dictatorship when these actors literally wouldn’t have been able to do this if we weren’t in a democracy. 

And yes, we very much live in a democracy so everyone is allowed to have opinions… that just doesn’t mean that everyone should say them out loud. Freedom of speech doesn’t entail freedom of consequences. If you think that your career is more important than the lives of thousands, then you can say that out loud. Anytime! You can say it and shout it and whisper it and mumble it. You can rap and sing it, you can add it to your prayer and publish it. That’s what democracy is about, after all. BUT and that’s a big “but” in capital letters as you may have noticed… BUT that doesn’t mean that you can get away with it and weasel your way out. Other people also have opinions and can & will share them. If they don’t like what you said, they’ll say it out loud. They may be harsh at times and insulting but effectively, it’s their freedom. They have that freedom of speech to call you out on your bullshit. You can fucking say what you fucking want. And the media that is also being criticised here apparently only says what the government wants them to say… but there are more than enough interviews, reports and news shows criticising the government, so I don’t know into what hole they stuck their head into… but there is plenty of evidence that the media isn’t saying the same things over and over again.

The FAZ (a newspaper over here in Germany) said that “Freedom of speech also means freedom of failed satire”, which is very appropriate and very true. These actors say that it’s satire when it’s essentially just facepalm material. Satire is supposed to criticise something in a comical and maybe sarcastic way. Satire also is very hard to pull off, which is why not everyone does it. These actors don’t clarify if this is their actual stance on things and in most of these videos that I’ve watched it came across like they actually meant it. Their “irony” and “satire” comes across as cynicism. It’s not helping anyone. Nobody asked for people to be cynical about it. Cynics are the assholes that make the pandemic harder to bear. 

Let’s not be assholes.

Covid-19 is serious. The people that die from it die horribly, practically drowning on land because their lungs fill with lots of moisture. At least, that’s what a friend told me who actually works as a surgeon’s assistant and who sees these deaths with his own eyes nearly daily. At the same time, people that got it and healed from it may still suffer from respiratory issues that will cause them a lot of problems in the long run, which is why it’s so important to fucking stay at home and wear masks and limit social interactions and stuff. This is why it’s so fucking important to fight covid and to fight the pandemic. It’s fucking important to fight with the government against this disease that has taken more than 80.000 lives in Germany instead of fighting the government that as far as I know hasn’t killed that many people in recent years, or has it? I don’t know. These actors probably have something to say about that. At least I believe they may have to say something about that since one of the 50 videos essentially is about that actress beating up people in public when they don’t wear masks because she wants to do it before the police do it. Oh, that’s so funny. It’s so quirky! Wow, top-class satire. Very funny and good. That showed the government! Yup. Clearly. 100%.

Not.

Jan Böhmermann who’s actually quite good at satire most of the time tweeted a documentary showing how the pandemic looks like in an intensive care unit in Berlin. That’s a video to watch instead of 50 cringy videos that basically say nothing. For me, it feels like I’ve not been leaving the house for a few months or something… but no, this is very real and it’s still going on. That documentary made me realise how real this still is. That documentary gave me insights on how fucking bad this shit still is. Those videos were hard to watch because I can only deal with a tiny bit of stupidity per day. I can’t deal with this much stupidity all at once.

Anyways, these were some thoughts on the situation. I’d rather have a longer lockdown than fewer friends, relatives and neighbours to hug when this is over. I mean, this will be over eventually and being cynical about it isn’t going to help. It’s gonna make things worse because these covidiots will make their own narrative relevant through this and more and more people may start to not listen to the government anymore and they may end up risking more lives… and then this goes on for longer… and eventually, there will be a coup… and then the world goes to shit… and then comes freedom in the form of the robot uprising but I guess I probably won’t see that anytime soon… the robot uprising would be better than a fucking civil war lead by idiots that are too stupid to wear masks. Man, Covid sucks. Covidiots suck. 

So, uh, stay safe and be kind to others. Don’t post cringy videos that make you look like a covid-denier or a covidiot or whatever you wanna call it. Cause that’d be silly.

Cheers!

Indietail – Ape Out

When it comes to games, there are plenty of factors that make a good game great. In my opinion, you can have a relatively simple gameplay loop or relatively simple mechanics in a title and still make the experience incredible by adding your own style to it, giving the game personality, or by working with an interesting art style, nice animations, or even by working more on the soundtrack, the sound design, and the environment. A game that is doing all of that really well is Ape Out. Here’s my review!

Developer: Gabe Cuzzillo
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Genre: Beat 'em Up, Top-Down, Action, Indie
Release Date: February 28th, 2019
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC, Switch
Copy was purchased.

Ape Out is a beat ’em up game developed by Gabe Cuzzillo and published by Devolver Digital. As far as I know, it’s the first title by Cuzzillo but his work on the art and game design is phenomenal, to say the least. Some of the art was made by Bennet Foddy who you may know from VVVVVV, QWOP or Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy. And well, the soundtrack has been composed by Matt Boch, the former creative director of Dance Central. I’m starting here with the team because Bennett Foddy has been involved in plenty of interesting games and I kind of like that guy. Similarly, Matt Boch’s work on the game’s soundtrack is incredibly important for the game’s feel and presentation because of the way that Ape Out utilizes “emergent gameplay” and more importantly improvisation. 

In Ape Out, you control a gorilla who’s running through a maze while pushing, grabbing and evading gun-wielding enemies that are pursuing you. You’ve been caged and mistreated, so now you try to break out and achieve freedom. It’s simple but a lot of fun. The controls utilize only the AWSD keys for movement as well as the mouse buttons for your attacks. Gamepad controls feel good, too, although I preferred the keyboard controls. When you encounter enemies, you can simply run away, grab them and use them as a shield or you simply push, punch and slam them into walls. The Free Jazz soundtrack that accompanies you throughout the game interacts with your in-game actions, resulting in the experience becoming even more fun. Be it the drums, the piano or the sax, there are plenty of instruments in the soundtrack and they all seem to improvise and work together, blend together and have their own little solos. Free Jazz is amazing. It’s creative and innovative at times, which is why I personally absolutely adore this game’s soundtrack. The snares that you hear when you kill enemies, when you push them or when you slam them into the wall make it seem as if you’re part of the crew that is playing there on a stage. It’s fun and engaging. This is what emergent gameplay is about. Games like Untitled Goose Game did it before and honestly, it still works and brings life into a world that seemingly is only inhabited by you and your pursuers. But the emergent gameplay aside, the soundtrack is even more important because it reflects the gameplay quite well. Free Jazz is all about improvisation and creativity, just like Ape Out.

In Ape Out, there isn’t just one solution to all of your problems. Levels are similar but there seems to be a procedurally generated element to it. Each time you restart, die or pick the game up again, levels are slightly different, enemy placements change and the game feels different. Because of that, you’ll need to reevaluate your strategy non-stop. Do you slam enemies into the wall or do you just run leaving your enemies behind? Do you tackle them head-on or do you strategically take them out one by one? In one case, I grabbed one of the shotgun-wielding enemies and used him as a shield. Enemies that you grab, fire off a shot that can hit their allies. I used that to my advantage, taking out enemies with machine guns before eventually pushing my human meatshield into a crowd and taking out more enemies. I then proceeded to hurl legs, arms and torsos at enemies to give me some time to grab them, throw them, punch them again. Improvisation is key. Not everything goes to plan and while the game can be difficult at times, I never found myself getting frustrated. I got closer and closer to my goal and re-evaluated my strategy, reflected on what went wrong and more often than not spend many more tries to get that perfect goal.

But not only does the soundtrack add to the experience, but also the art direction that the game was taken in. Ape Out is incredibly stylized. Blood splatters are colourful while the world is dark at times. There are bright and vibrant colours wherever you go. The game changes colours frequently, plays with the environment and adds different mechanics to the game that add a different look to the game. The top-down perspective makes it easy for you to enjoy this art style a lot more while you’re still able to discern enemies, weapons and the like. There are 32 levels in total and they all are connected in one way or another. Instead of featuring a world-map of sorts, the game celebrates the jazzy soundtrack by splitting the game up into four disks with an A-side and a B-side, each. The four disks are presented with four different album covers, thematically tied to the chapters covered in the disks. The art style that the album covers have been taken into, or maybe even the whole game, kind of reminds me of 60s movies and Saul Bass’ typical graphical work. I love this minimalistic approach to the game. I really do. It’s amazing.

And, well, Ape Out is frankly a great game. It combines destruction and percussion, adds style to it, and lots of satisfaction… and it does it bloody well! I can highly recommend it. Try it out!

Cheers!

This post was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken.