Indietail – Pool Panic

I’ve never been a fan of games that had anything to do with sports. There’re football games, soccer games, golf games, and… well, pool games. Speaking of pool games, today’s review is about Pool Panic! 

Developer: Rekim Games
Publisher: Adult Swim Games
Genres: Sports, Indie, Puzzle, Adventure, Action
Release Date: July 19, 2018
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC, Switch
Copy was purchased

Pool Panic takes the classic approach of pool or billiards games and flips it the bird. There are 100+ levels in a ton of different settings and areas that all feature different mechanics that make this game feel like more of a puzzle game than an actual sports game. 

“It’s the least realistic pool simulator!”

– Rekim Games

You’re a walking pool cue ball that’s navigating through the world to uhm… beat all levels. The store page claims that the game plays best with a controller but I personally found the mouse and keyboard controls to be a lot easier to handle. 

Your goal for each level is to toss most to all other pool balls into the pockets before putting in the 8-ball and finally walking down the pocket yourself. Most of the time, though, there’s a twist. On top of the normal goals, there’re also side goals which include “no fouls” (pocketing the cue ball), finishing the level in a set amount of time, finishing it with only so many strokes, and finishing the level with all balls pocketed! You can complete these missions one step at the time or try to achieve them all at once, which leads to a bigger challenge, however, I so far only went for those redos to get them all but never tried to achieve all at once. 

But that seems rather realistic, right? Well, here comes the puzzle-aspect into play:

You need a certain amount of balls in the holes to finish the level, so the game makes it harder for you by throwing in all kinds of random elements at you. In one level, for instance, I had to sacrifice humans to a monster in a cave, then sacrifice their remains to our Lord and Saviour C’thulhu (just kidding, it was just a random altar for probably someone else) to unlock the whole, before eventually pocketing that 8-ball! In another I was running a marathon, there was also a fishing level or an air hockey level, a spider level, and overall there are just way too many different levels in all kinds of different worlds! 

I really liked one level in a medieval area where you’ve got to take part in a jousting tournament but my favourite probably was one of the earlier levels where you’ve got to bait raccoons with meat from the BBQ before then pocketing all those boy scouts and raccoons! 

There’s a huge overworld with a ton of different areas!

The overworld is relatively open with only a few barricades here and there. To proceed into new areas, you’ve got to finish previous levels, resulting in you gaining a way to overcome those barricades. There was a horde of bears stopping me in one place, so naturally, I had to find the bear hunter to scare those bears away!

But then again, you usually can access a lot of areas to some degree without having completed the earlier areas. I definitely would recommend checking out other areas in between if you’re getting frustrated with certain levels.

Speaking of bear hunters, bears and spiders: They’re all presented in the form of legged billiard balls. 

There is a huge variety of billiard balls in all kinds of colours that each have different effects and properties. Some balls are scared when you look at them, some balls that throw you when you get too close to them, and some balls that cause little earthquakes to happen when you annoy them. There are even goalkeeper-balls with arms that stop you from pocketing other balls and dancing balls that dodge your cue ball if you aim at them directly!

Presentation-wise Pool Panic really reminded me of Adult Swim for some reason. It uses vibrant colours and the world is truly unique – and also fun to walk on. The Adult Swim-iness probably was a feeling I had when I looked at some of the balls’ faces that were terrified by me aiming my cue at them and eventually sending them down the rabbit ho– I mean, pocket! Pool Panic uses a vibrant colour palette and some great music by Grandmaster Gareth. The colours, music, and animation are really fitting for a title that is so unique and… droll!

But although Pool Panic is shining when it comes to the world, the presentation and the creativity, I must say that it’s a bit frustrating to control.

I’ve mentioned that I preferred the mouse+keyboard controls before, and I must say that that’s mostly due to the fact that it’s near to unplayable with a gamepad. Even with a mouse however, there may be times where the game acts up, e.g. after locking onto a ball. Sometimes you just try to tune the direction a little bit and your cue just goes crazy! Luckily, after a bit of fine-tuning in the sensitivity department, it becomes playable and a lot less frustrating. I still would call the need for tuning here a flaw, though.

Overall, Pool Panic is indeed the least realistic billiard game I know!

The puzzling-aspects are great, there’s always a new take on levels, the different balls are brilliant in their facial expressions and overall I had a blast playing it. The controls might be a bit frustrating for quite some time but I was able to return to it after a break and play on, so I guess, it’s manageable. On top of that it also has co-op, a versus mode, a ton of achievements, some extra challenges, and the Panic Mode where you’re fighting against the clock! So, there is a lot of value in here! Hence the recommendation. ūüôā

Have a nice day!

I’m taking part in this year’s #IntPiPoMo. If you’d like to participate or get to know the other participants, feel free to check this post out!

Indietail – Westerado: Double Barreled

Howdy, fellow cowboys and cowgirls! Today we’re taking a look at Westerado: Double Barreled, a game where we chase a buffalo on the loose before finding out that someone not only burned down our ranch, but also gravely injured our bigger brother, and killed our mother! Our mission is to find the killer and take revenge! To do so, we’re equipped with a revolver and some other tools! Yeeha!¬†

Developer: Ostrich Banditos
Publisher: Adult Swim
Genres: Indie, Action, Adventure, Shoot 'Em Up, Western
Release Date: April 16, 2015
Reviewed on: PC
Available for: PC, Xbox One, Mac OS
Copy was purchased.

Let’s get to the plot:

After these incidences happened, we’ve got to “take care” about our brother and head to our uncle’s place where we learn that the killer is most likely in¬†Clintville. Once we arrive there, we’ve got to earn¬†Clintville’s¬†citizens’ trust by completing quests and errands for them, including escort-missions, bounty-hunts and lots more!¬†

One of our first quests brings us to a graveyard.. Is that a premonition?

Gameplay-wise, it’s relatively simple:

Since we’re in the Wild West, we’ve got to solve everything with guns. There are multiple guns, ranging from shotguns, revolvers, bolas, to dual-revolvers, and even a sniper rifle. You can switch between weapons without any issues but have to load them up and unlock the gun while dodging bullet shots in the meantime. While the Bola doesn’t deal damage and holds only one shot, it instead captures enemies rendering them unable to shoot, which I found quite interesting. Meanwhile, the shotguns are able to hit multiple enemies, though only having two shots and being short-ranged, while the rifle is more precise, is able to pierce enemies and has five shots.¬†

One of two factions! Help them free the buffalos or fight them to the death! Your choice!

To kill enemies, you need to shoot off their hats before landing the killing blow. In the same manner, they’re able to shoot off your hat, before being able to kill you, too. Luckily, you own two reserve-hats that you automatically get used once you lose a hat, hence blessing you with basically four lives (three hats and your head). When killing enemies, you can pick up their hats to restock on lives. When you die, though, you are saved by someone who carries you to a nearby bed, refilling your hats and magazines but also helping himself to some of your riches. Hence, you lose money whenever you die which is why you need to go to banks relatively often, although they also help themselves to your bank account now and then – still, the bank is a lot safer than carrying your money around and risking to lose everything else, although not dying is probably the safest!¬†

Our Journal is helping us with keeping track of the Killer!

Speaking of the bank, there’re a lot more buildings in the towns that help you: 

The Sheriff’s and the bank often need help with killing bandits, while you may as well play some cards, have a drink or talk to other people at the Saloon, sometimes granting you hints on what the killer looks like. To find the killer, you need to find a few different hints in a “Who is it?” manner. As “clothes make people”, you only gain hints on what the killer looks like. The killer, though, could be nearby at any time, which is why you probably could kill him at any time in the game, if you wanted to. In fact, you’re able to solve all problems in the Wild West, using your guns. 

A quest by the bankers: Bring money to safety while killing those darn bandits!

See a saloon door? Shoot it open!
See someone funky? Shoot them dead!
Don’t like where the conversation is going? Pull out your gun, threaten them or even shoot them dead again!¬†

It’s hilarious. At all conversations, you’re able to pull out your gun, resulting in some funny moments where you randomly threaten people. 

We’re protecting buffalos from bandits – an escort mission from one ranch to the other!

Humour is a big part of this game, too, as well as references. Being a game published by AdultSwim, I had a great time throughout the game with random moments and references to tons of things, e.g. the founder of¬†Clintville¬†being “East Clintwood” or the fact that killing every NPC in one area results in you unlocking a horde mode for that area. Hillarious.

When you kill enough people, you also gain the reputation of a killer, leading to bandits randomly surrendering and stopping the fighting because they fear you so much.

Conversations are shown in this film-esque style! You always have the option of just leaving in the middle of the sentence or even drawing your gun, although those choices might not benefit you!

At some point, you might question whether or not you’re worse than the Killer you’re searching for BUT honestly, I don’t even know. It’s quite fun to just go all out on your revenge and the few casualties that it might take are the Killer’s fault, obviously. If he hadn’t messed with you, those people wouldn’t have died. (just kidding)¬†

Presentation-wise,

it’s got a lovely pixel-art style going that is enhanced by the liveliness of each area, with dogs, coyotes, scorpions, snakes, birds and all kinds of other animals being featured in the scenery. The music is also quite great and there haven’t been any issues with the sound just stopping or not fitting the area, in my opinion. Overall a great art style and great music.

On top of that, there are no restrictions to where you can go and where you can’t. A true open-world game, I guess! There are also factions in the game: Support the buffalo-friends or the militia, you’ve got the choice when it comes to alternate plots.¬†

The Map is huge but empty at the beginning. Over the course of time, you’re discovering more and more of this Western World, both over- and underground!

But let’s get to flaws. Overall, I really enjoyed the game, but the map sometimes seemed quite frustrating. There are tons of quests and all of them get marked on the map. When you’re unlucky, you just don’t know what you’re actually doing right now or you’re going to areas to do one thing and end up doing something else. Having the option to actually follow only one quest at a time, like in other games (i.e. Borderlands or MMOs in general), would’ve been nice, although this is an Indie Game and all that.

Another thing is the fact that there are no checkpoints that you can set yourself: 

When you respawn, you actually spawn in a “nearby bed” – which is at your Uncle’s. Before facing off against the Killer, you also get a checkpoint there, and although there are fast-travel-points here and there, scattered through the world, it gets quite annoying to always have to teleport somewhere or walk a while and it kind of feels lazy in some way. I would’ve liked it if there were rooms in the Saloon that you could pay for, to set a spawn point nearby. It’s not a big deal, I guess, but I personally got quite annoyed by it. 

But overall I had a blast during my playthrough. There is a learning curve at the beginning but once you get used to the aiming and all that, it’s actually quite enjoyable. My first playthrough was four hours long but there’s a lot of replay value, too, as you’re also able to go with higher difficulties, unlock new characters with new abilities and other properties and there are a ton of easter eggs to be found in the game. I definitely recommend this game!

Have a nice one!