Looking forward to Pawnbarian

One of the titles that I’ve been eyeing for a while now has been Pawnbarian! It’s supposed to come out in Q1 of 2021 and I’d be happy to review it once it’s out… but for now, I’ll have to make do with the first few impressions I got from the demo that is available here

Developer: j4nw
Publisher: j4nw
Genre: Minimalistic, Roguelike, Chess, Puzzle, Card Game
Release Date: Q1, 2021
Played on: PC
Available on: PC

Pawnbarian is a roguelike based on Chess. Play as a brave fighter of the Northern Chesslands, always on the lookout for a new challenge. Fight your way through the dungeon, one turn at a time! There are more characters planned for the full version as well and while the Pawnbarian may sound like more of a “more brawn than brain” type of character, he actually offers a lot of versatility. By moving to the top row, having three pawns in hand or by starting the turn at the top row, you get to promote a pawn into a queen. Other classes/characters will have other rulesets.

Combat is turn-based, leaving you plenty of time to plan out your next few moves. When it’s your turn, you have limited moves, indicated by the yellow pieces below the chessboard. Some of your pieces (indicated at the top left by a lightning symbol) refresh these moves, allowing you to move another time. 

The enemies also move in different patterns and all feature their own mechanics. Some of them are nimble, meaning that they’ll dodge away when you attack them unless they’re against a wall. Others spread blight, have more range or split into multiple enemies upon death. 

By hovering over enemies, you get to see these rules yourself and hence learn about them. At the same time, you can see how much damage you receive when you hover on different tiles. 

If you’re familiar with chess, you’ll know how the pawns, rooks, knights, and so on move. If you’re not, then the game will help you out by showing you the moves that you’re allowed to do with the selected piece. 

When you get hit, you lose hearts, indicated by the (anatomically correct) heart symbols below the chessboard. Hearts can be guarded via shields that you get for moving pieces with a shield symbol. At the same time, you can reacquire hearts in the shop that you encounter after every floor. At the top of the chessboard, you can see your current gold as well as a bunch of gold chunks and gems. Every turn one of those gold chunks vanishes but if you manage to finish the current floor with any of them left, you’ll be able to spend that gold in the next shop. This is a somewhat interesting mechanic as you have to try to solve these floors in the least turns possible… but at the same time, you’ve got to be careful and not get too far ahead of yourself as every floor can be deadly!

In the shop, you’re able to upgrade your deck by adding more effects to your pieces. At first, I thought that the pieces there would get replaced by other pieces… This was an oversight of mine as it actually says that you get permanent upgrades for your cards… in the tutorial… that I skipped. The tutorial itself is quite beginner-friendly. It tells you the basics of the game within seconds and lets you experience two floors before heading into the actual tutorial dungeon. I somehow completely missed the fact that there is a tutorial, although I’m blaming that on my headache.

What I love about this game (or the demo of the game, to be more precise) is the fact that the art style is super minimalistic. It shows you what you need to see without overwhelming you with all kinds of gimmicks, UI shenanigans or complicated tooltips. Instead, you see what you want to see immediately – and if you need to know more, you hover over tiles and pieces.

At the same time, the game is able to communicate rather well where the damage comes from, how much damage is dealt and where/how you died. After about 90 minutes, I actually was able to defeat the demo dungeon, which I was quite surprised about. The Blight mechanic, as well as the Nimble mechanic, were somewhat hard to deal with but I’d imagine that without those, the game would be rather plain and easy to beat. I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of other enemies the full game will have to offer.

Apart from the interesting and challenging mechanics, as well as the minimalistic art style, the game also features a lovely soundtrack so far that doesn’t get on your nerves after you’ve listened to it for an hour and a half. I mean, a lot of demos feature the same track over and over again, which can be quite annoying. In this demo, the gentle sounds convey this feeling of adventure quite well while at the same time allowing you to relax while playing.

Pawnbarian is a lovely chess-roguelike hybrid that adds its own twist to the Rogue-formula while sticking to the core premise of permadeath and turn-based combat. Personally speaking, I’m really looking forward to seeing the other enemies as well as the other characters that will be introduced into the full version. 

If you want to, you can check out Pawnbarian over here. It is also available on itch.io if you want to play it over there! Make sure to wishlist it if you haven’t yet – and if you want to, you can always try out the demo over there as well!

I hope you enjoyed this post! Feel free to leave feedback or any suggestions for other demos to check out!
Take care!

Cheers!

Indietail – Disc Room

Are you ready to get sliced? Are you ready for science? Are you ready to die? If you answered any of those questions with anything, then fear not, you’re on your way on one helluva ride with today’s review, Disc Room!

The year’s (not 2021 but) 2089 and a giant disc has appeared in Jupiter’s orbit. Now, it’s your job to explore said Disc… FOR SCIENCE! Explore a majority of rooms filled with deadly discs and survive until all the goals of the room are completed. Compete against your friends, solve puzzles, unlock abilities, and die! 

Developer: Terri (Vellmann), Dose(one), Kitty (Calis), JW (Nijman)
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Genre: Action, Adventure, 2D, Violent, Difficult, Indie
Release Date: October 22nd, 2020
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC, Switch
Copy was purchased.

Disc Room is a Race-Against-The-Time-ish Action-Adventure where you dodge deadly blades, discs, or whatever you want to call them. In about 50 different rooms, you need to keep all your eyes open and look around you in 360° to be able to dodge everything and anything. There are a plethora of disc types from big ones to small ones to homing and time-slowing discs. Dying at the hand of different blades can result in you unlocking abilities that help you survive, like the time-slow ability, the dash or the cloning-ability.

At first, the game seems rather simplistic and not that challenging – but eventually, you end up having to solve puzzles in the rooms. How are you supposed to die in less than 0 seconds? How do you die while there are four discs in the room, when there are only two, to begin? What does “Feed ????? 4 ?????” mean, and how do you accomplish it? The game grants you a lot of different puzzles that revolve around using the game’s mechanics to survive or not-survive in creative ways, which is awesome! 

Once you end up fighting so-called Gatekeepers aka Bosses and unlock new areas, each with their own themes, the game’s pace really picks up, as you get to explore each area independantly as long as you complete some goals. Just backtrack later and check older rooms out again once you feel confident in doing them! Each of the areas is special with different enemy types and new mechanics introduced. 

On top of that, the game offers a lot of replayability because of… a little friendly rivalry! I played it for the first time while watching my friend Jimmi play it on Stream. Whenever he beat a room, I was already on beating his time and surviving longer than him. I loved it when he was shocked to see that I was already at 24 seconds in one of the rooms when he was stuck at 16. While he tried to beat my 24-second-record in said room, I was beating his other records. Eventually, he got better than me, but if I try very hard, I’ll manage to screw him over again, for sure! I love it. 

I feel like the goals of the rooms and the Metroidvania-ish aspects of it (solving puzzles and problems with abilities that you unlock later into the game) really make this game special and a ton of fun, especially since these aspects are paired with tons of achievements, collectables, and the friendly rivalry integrated through your Steam friend list. 

The art style is simple but the game really doesn’t need to be more detailed, to be honest. The animated cutscenes are cute and offer a bit of mystery about the game’s story while also providing you with some interesting comics here and there. In General, the game has this web-comic-vibe that I really fancy. 

On top of that, the soundtrack is awesome! It’s a real SpaceWave/SynthWave banger that I could listen to for ages. Good thing that you can buy the Soundtrack as well over here, featuring 53 tracks. It’s anthemic, adrenaline-inducing, and just great! Might become one of my favourites!

All that being said, there are a few issues with the game. Being a game with saw blades and a lot of Violence, you may encounter a lot of Gore, which is unsettling and displeasing… but you have a warning for that on the Steam store, so that’s completely fine. My issue with it is that some of the rooms contain flashing lights and effects where the light turns dark and then bright again, which really messed with my eyes. Personally, I don’t have a problem with epilepsy but since it even fucked with my eyes, I’d imagine that other people could have real problems with it… but there is no warning about flashing lights and potential epilepsy triggers in the game, which is somewhat upsetting.

Apart from that, while I love the puzzles, I feel like it sometimes is a bit hard to get to clues on your own. A few times, I had to ask friends for input on the golden discs and what they think. I would have preferred if a room on the other side of the map would offer a clue to the puzzles in some way rather than you just have to do things.

At the same time, the game sometimes needs you to die from different disc types… but apparently, the different boss forms also count towards that, which is annoying, to say the least, because it shouldn’t be a thing. If a boss is already accounted for, why does the boss’ husk count as something separate. Otherwise, I’m completely fine with the difficulty and the challenge of the game but that little thing there just annoyed me a little bit.

Overall, however, the game’s great and provides a lot of entertainment, especially with the Achievements, the Steam Leaderboards, and the awesome soundtrack. I’d love it if more people could check this title out over here.

Post review commentary:

Anyways, I hope you’re having a great start into the new year! Personally speaking, 2020 has felt like a meat grinder (haha) – but I have high hopes for 2021! Hope you do, too! Happy New Year! Today’s review is the last one that I’ve prepared before going to my parents at the end of last year. Hence, look forward to more *fresh* content with that 2021-flavour in it!

Cheers!

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

Happy New Year! – 2020 in blogging and streaming recapped

This is a scheduled post and I hope that it’s not December 32nd now as I really want 2020 to be over.

2020 has been a difficult year with Covid being an issue for the most part. At the beginning of quarantine and the lockdowns and all of that, I ended up starting to stream five days a week instead of three days. This was mainly to give people a way to relieve their anxiety and give them some entertainment and chill times. At one point, we played Amnesia and joked about the Zombie virus and how there is a fungus (similar to the virus/fungus in TLOU) that infects ants and controls them to get eaten by birds… who then spread the spores. Very interesting. We also joked about how we would fare in a zombie apocalypse… I’d try to mediate as much as possible, and I would most likely die first… yup.

At the start of 2020, I was also messing around, saying that there is always a plague in the 20s. Guess I jinxed it. Yikes.

Overall, this has been not too much of a bad year for me personally, though. While I had my fair share of panic attacks, anxieties intensifying, depressive phases, social problems, and other problems, I also had a lot of good moments, like getting a lot of traffic on my blog and hitting some bigger milestones when it came to streaming. I also managed to overcome some of those problems and learn how to deal with them. I think I even grew as a person due to some of the struggles this year, which makes me feel more confident in handling rough situations in the future better! At one point, I also joined a Stream team which wasn’t that good since I’d always compare myself to other streamers and stuff… So, I ended up leaving Wild Abandon.

The last few months of 2020 were a bit troublesome when it came to streaming, though. My internet speed was getting slower in the evenings, resulting in me dropping a ton of frames. Alas, I changed my schedule to morning streams as they seem to work a lot better for me. Numbers-wise that proved to be a good decision as well as it has lead to me meeting a lot of awesome people. I’m lucky to slowly build a community like this and I’m looking forward to growing this Crypt of mine steadily over time with more Undead joining in to enjoy games together without having to fear bigotry or toxicity.

Back to blogging: We hit a few milestones, including one year of blogging, one-hundred followers, and also my participation in both Blapril and the Blaugust Promptapalooza! The latter felt a bit off and I was certainly struggling with providing content on my blog, especially as a lot of the prompts didn’t scratch the itch too well… but we managed to get a fair share of posts out in that time and the link-backs certainly helped guide new readers to my blog, I think. At this point, hello new readers. Pleased to meet you. Even though we don’t actually meet. Uh, pleased to write you? Pleased to read you? Doesn’t really work, does it? Uhm,… I’m pleased that you’re reading my stuff. Thanks for that!

Traffic-wise, I hit over a thousand views in some of the early months with the trend increasing into later months, so that’s something that I’m really proud of. It kind of proves to me that I’m doing things right and that the topics I post about actually resonate with people. I sometimes wonder how a post will do, especially when I try out something new or when I review a game that is just coming out. Seeing the number of interactions with the post or the tweets, however, brings a smile to my face and actually helps a lot with that “posting”-anxiety that I feel at times.

“Posting”-anxiety is probably not a term that exists but what I mean by that is that kind of fear that you have before publishing anything. Similar to how my heart starts racing once I’ve hit that “go live” button in OBS, resulting in me needing about ten minutes to calm down and be my reserved self that is actually happy to be live again. It’s a bit of an issue. What if nobody shows up today? What if nobody reads my blog post? What if nobody likes the game that I’m recommending here, even though it is a great title? Will people lose faith in me as a curator?

It really isn’t that bad with blogging, but at times I just tend to overthink anything and everything, which is something I want to get better at in 2021. I want to have more faith in my blog posts and my streams, and take better care of myself & my mental health. I want to have fun with what I’m doing and enjoy it while it lasts and while I’m able to stream and blog.

Speaking of Mental Health, I’m looking forward to going to therapy again. Due to my financial situation, I wasn’t able to visit my therapist anymore and ended up having to call all of the meetings off, as I just couldn’t afford it anymore. In the same fashion, I need to eat proper food again once 2021 starts and actually take care of my needs. Showering often, going to sleep early, waking up early, getting enough rest, taking enough breaks, getting enough steps in, taking a breather every now and then. Those things are really important and while I managed to get that kinda stuff sorted for a lot of 2020, which helped a ton, I also ended up falling back into old patterns of skipping meals, staying up all night long, eating too late and hence not being able to sleep, and so on. But then again, we had that post yesterday, so uh… y’know… read that for more in-detail-stuff.

Let’s go over my blogging goals, at last:

In 2021, I wanted to familiarise myself with the Classic Editor and all of the blocks in the Gutenberg Editor. So far, I’ve only been using the Gutenberg Editor but the Classic Editor has some features that looked more than promising, as far as formatting goes. I’d also like to meddle with all the different blocks that are available in Gutenberg. I haven’t played around too much with the different galleries, as of late, and there are plenty of features that I haven’t tried at all, yet.

That’s something I want to change. I want to bring the best out of Indiecator and get the most value out of my reviews and other posts. I wanted to be more consistent with the Monster Hunter Log and the Late to the Party posts as well as the occasional Stray Sheep and Lookout Post… post… yup.

I want to try out new things and see how it goes. Something that I haven’t tried at all, yet, is uploading playthroughs to YouTube or embedding the first hour or so of gameplay into my reviews to give people a better look at the game. There is only so much that I can do as far as explaining goes… and people will have the option of watching it or not watching it. Obviously, rendering stuff is going to be a pain in the butt, as well as editing videos again… as that’s something that I haven’t done ever since I got that workshop for Magix back in 2012 or 2013… so no clue really if my knowledge is going to be good enough for other programs. I’ll look into it, starting this year.

Apart from that, I started doing digital art in Krita in late-2020 and been really enjoying doing panel art and emote art for my own stream and other people. I have yet to think about whether or not I wanna take commissions but I’ll let you know when I do. I’d love to get into animation and bring some of my emotes to life on-screen… looking forward to GIF-creation and potentially creating some animated alerts for the Stream as well.

As far as streaming goes, there are a plethora of goals that I have in mind for that:

There plenty of things that I’m working on right now and it all is a Work in Progress! So stuff changes and improves over time! Patience is key! The other day someone offered to animate things for free for people, so I messaged them if they were serious and if I could really ask them to do something for me… free of charge. As I was completely broke at the time, I was more than happy to hear that I’m able to get an ultra-awesome Stinger transition for my Stream as well as a super-duper-awesome animated “Starting Soon” screen that is in-line with my current branding. I’m really excited to implement that into my stream and once it’s out I’ll write about it again and credit the artist and all of that. Really looking forward to seeing how people react to it! I, for one, am deeply in love with it!

Aside from that there are some other goals:

  • Always say “yes”, unless uncomfortable.
  • Use Drama experience! (for entertainment, voice tone, volume, acting, etc.)
  • Educate myself on Mental Health and LGBTQIA+ related topics so that I know more about them and so that I can spread more awareness on those topics and how to handle questions on those topics.
  • Make the Stream more accessible. (Closed Captions, Content/Trigger warnings)
  • Be more positive in general about myself and towards others.
  • Work more on my emotes.
  • Be more consistent.
  • Think up more creative ideas for the Stream and the Branding.

Now, the post is already really long, as is, but let me just quickly clarify something: When I say “always say yes” then I mean that you take an opportunity in chat and turn it into something entertaining. It’s basically the backbone of improv and I want to use more of that and my Drama experience in my streaming to an extent but I don’t want to tolerate trolls, bigots or toxic people, so I won’t *always* say yes… just when it’s an opportunity. The other day, someone said something about One Direction, so I took that and said that I’m their biggest fan. Then I mentioned something stupid about how my favourite song by them is “Sucker for you” (which is obviously not by them) and how my favourite member of that band is Logan (who was in some other band as well), resulting in someone in chat really liking it. When someone comments on how I died, I’d say that I can’t die since I’m undead. All of that is merely an illusion. When I’m not good at the game, I can play it off as giving people a chance. When I am good at it, I can act as if that’s always the case with an ironic wink or whatever. There are plenty of ways to turn something boring and use it spontaneously to make it work for you and I feel like that’s something that I want to do more often.

Consistency and Quality are the backbone of streaming, so I want to up that, obviously. I want to brainstorm more on my branding which is what I do at basically any given time… Being more positive about myself and my looks and whatever is important for my mental health, so it ties into the goals from yesterday as well, but it is also important for the stream itself since a happy Magi is going to be more entertaining than a depressed Magi.

Talking about Mental Health and LGBTQIA+ related topics has been something I’ve enjoyed a lot in the past… educating myself on that is completely understandable as part of that. I want to understand what people go through and I want to be able to help. And at last, accessibility,… is tricky to deal with. There are a lot of things that I need to do but I haven’t figured them out just yet. Eventually, I’ll be happy with how accessible my stream is, but until then I’ll have to educate myself and look things up and try stuff out. Closed Captions are the first step towards that!

Either way, I hope you have a nice start to 2021. It’s definitely going to better than 2020, I think… Take care of your mental health and your needs. Take breathers whenever possible and don’t overwork yourself. Even with vaccines on the way, try to stay safe and try to not endanger too many people. I’ll probably wear my mask forever since I’m just not used to not wearing it. Do you have any resolutions for this year? Let me know!

Again, Happy New Year!

Cheers!

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

Indie Games in 2021 to wishlist right now

2020 had plenty of great releases. For starters, we had plenty of games that left Early Access and were well received when their 1.0 arrived this year, like Hades and Risk of Rain 2. There were also completely new releases this year that I really liked, like Milky Way Prince or Lightmatter, and a lot of other titles. 2020 has been quite a year but at least there were a lot of games to keep us company and brighten our days. At least, they often made my days, at least a bit better.

But everything has to come to an end and so, with the new year on the marsh, I wanted to talk about releases that are coming up in 2021 and that I’m looking forward to. I hope you’re going to enjoy this list. It’s not in any particular order or whatever but rather just titles off the top of my head that I have been excited about.


Eastward

For quite a while now, Eastward (developed by Pixpil, published by Chucklefish) has been sitting there on my wishlist, waiting to get released… and the release date has been sitting there as well on “Soon” but I don’t know if it’s going to be out sooner or later… I just hope that it’s going to be there in 2021. It’s an RPG game full of love and attention for detail. From what I’ve seen the art style is super adorable and the world is, despite the population’s decline, relatively lively and charming. We play as a little girl named Sam and an old man named John and revolves around exploring and solving the game by switching between the characters. John has an arsenal of weapons while Sam can stun creatures with a kinetic blast. The game also features a lot of quirky character, some interesting cooking mechanics, and a story that drives the adventure portion of the game. I’m excited! 

Anno: Mutationem

Anno: Mutationem (developed by ThinkingStars, published by Lightning Games) is an Action-Adventure with RPG-elements where we become Ann, a highly-skilled combat-trained lone wolf on a personal mission. The world features a blend of 2D and 3D gameplay of Action-Platforming and Exploration with portions of it having a cute pixel art style while other portions seem to be somewhat animated, I guess? It’s a blend of different directions, which I find intriguing. Pair that with a Cyberpunk setting, a lot of exploration, and a whole bunch of action, and you basically get a cyberpunk game that I’d like to play. The plot is being described as “dark” and “twisted”, which is something I rather often fancy in games and media in general. On top of that, a lot of the visuals seem cute, so I’m looking forward to seeing contrasts in the world and how they reflect on society, there and in general. On top of that, there will be a lot of customization and upgrades available to Ann’s weapons and her skills, using modifiers and chips. Overall, I’m looking forward to it!

Stray

Just like the previous title on this list, Stray (developed by BlueTwelve Studio) also has been confirmed for 2021. It’s published by Annapurna Interactive who also published Journey and Outer Wilds, so I’m kind of expecting something special here. Or cats. I love cats. Stray is a game about a stray cat that’s trying to untangle an ancient mystery of sorts to escape this cyberpunk city and find its way home. This game seems to be a game focused on mainly exploration, which is something I generally like in games. It’s an interesting direction to take a game in, so I’m wondering how it’s going to turn out. Stray is set in a cybercity and areas around it, which is why you’ll encounter a lot of neon-lit streets as well as a friendly drone, known only as B12. The game’s developed by BlueTwelve, a small studio from south of France, and I feel like this game could be rather charming and fun to try out. Annoying people… as a cat… but in third-person? Lovely!

Garden Story

During the Steam Game Festival: Autumn Edition, I wrote a post on this title among others. The demo seemed very promising and I’ve been looking forward to playing the full game eventually. Garden Story (developed by Picogram, published by Rose City Games) is about Agriculture and Exploration and you essentially play as Concord, a small grape-person, who is trying to unify the community as the newly-appointed Guardian of The Grove! Make friends, beat bosses, explore the world, gather materials, rebuild your home, and have fun in this small and adorable title. You take on requests, complete favours, and you try to inspire the inhabitants of The Grove to make the community great again. Defend against Rot and solve puzzles, find a plethora of equipment and other items, and cultivate a home with all kinds of structures to be rebuild. Honestly, Garden Story kind of felt like a mix of Heartbeat and Zelda, so I’ve been looking forward to it.


Honestly, there are a lot of great games coming out in 2021 and then there are a lot of EA titles that may get done as well and… overall, I really hope that 2021 becomes a great year for everyone. At the least, I hope that it’s at least a little bit less terrible. 🙂 I’m sure that’s possible, right?

I hope you enjoyed this post. There are other titles that I could have put in here but I wasn’t able to link their Steam Pages yet since there are none… other titles may come out a lot later… and then there are other titles that I haven’t heard any news about ever since April or May. Alas, I may do some more posts like this one or single posts for games that I have a lot more to say about. 

Hope you have a great day and a great start into the new year!

Cheers!

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