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.

Indietail – A Short Hike

With A Short Hike, adamgryu managed to create a wonderful experience that I’ll never experience again in the same way I did just a while ago. The tunes by Mark Sparkling complement the carefree journey you embark on phenomenally and I absolutely adore this short little game that is all about exploration, although I also associate a certain kind of sadness with this sort of experience… but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves here.

Developer: adamgryu
Publisher: adamgryu
Genre: Exploration, Indie, Adventure
Release Date: July 30th, 2019
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC, Switch
Copy was purchased.

In A Short Hike, you take control of Claire, a young canary that visits her aunt at Hawk Peak Provincial Park. There she’s waiting for a call but can’t help but notice that she doesn’t have any phone reception… Hence, she sets off on a journey to trek towards the summit of Hawk Peak Mountain in hopes that the reception there is better… but despite Hawk Peak Provincial Park’s somewhat rural appearance, there are plenty of things to do on your way to the summit, which is why A Short Hike isn’t exactly about reaching a certain goal or about reaching the summit of the mountain… but rather about the journey there.

Since we’re playing as a bird, we can fly up into the air, glide and dive through the valley and reach areas that we haven’t been to before. Reaching the summit should be rather easy, right? Well, our stamina is kind of a limiter in that regard, which is why we have to collect golden feathers around the islands and complete quests to acquire some of them. One of the earliest encounters we find is a small frog at the beach who’s trying to build a sandcastle but is struggling to do so due to him not having the proper tool for his endeavour. Instead of a regular toy shovel, he’s using a full-sized shovel, which makes detailed work a bit hard for the little guy. Similarly, there is an artist around the map who is trying to find the perfect spot to paint a nice picture to submit to a gallery while another person is trying to collect shells. There are countless encounters around the map and a lot of activities to partake in. You can learn to fish or appreciate racing someone. You can collect hats, sticks and coins or even go on a treasure hunt. There are a lot of things to do but nobody forces you to. Whenever you complete a quest, you’ll earn a reward of sorts that in return can help you reach the summit easier. Similarly, you can find golden feathers that expand your stamina bit by bit throughout the map, resulting in you being able to reach places that you haven’t been able to reach before.

Exploration is rewarding and relaxing. I honestly forgot why exactly I wanted to reach the summit but then I got there and… it was nice. I was still able to continue with the game and fly around, collecting coins and going on fishing sprees… but the short hike really is rather short, though the many tasks and activities you encounter along the way can give you a bit more playtime, for sure. As I mentioned before, A Short Hike isn’t exactly about reaching the summit but more about enjoying the way there. The journey is the goal and the goal is the journey, you could say.

It kind of reminded me of how I would go out and explore the town as a kid and just go around town and see where different streets would lead to. I’d end up in a forest, eventually, or find a shortcut to a place I liked. I also ended up enjoying the exploration bit and the hiking, travelling and walking around a lot more than me actually finding something. Sure, when you explore a lot and end up finding a secret or a reference to a different game in A Short Hike, it’s amazing and rather rewarding but there were times where I was just hoping that the map would reveal even more passages and areas that I haven’t explored yet. I was just hoping that I’d end up spending all day exploring this peaceful and colourful world that I found myself in. Maybe it was that sort of nostalgia that I felt and referred to before… maybe some sort of escapism… but sadly, I had to return to the real world eventually again, which is why it was nice to find refuge in a little adventure game like this for once.

But while the exploration is fun and all, it also comes with a few points that made the experience at times nearly a bit frustrating. Not super frustrating and not so much that I’d have to ragequit or anything… but it could have been done better… For starters, you can’t really move the map around too much which can be a bit frustrating. You’re semi-locked into this one perspective with the map changing the direction a bit when you reach certain spots or when you dive/fly around. That’s a bit tricky to use and can put a damper on the experience in my opinion. At the same time, I loved exploring the map but found it hard to navigate through it due to the lack of a map. Sure, you can get a compass if you want to but it’s not exactly the same as navigating through an area with a bird’s view map of sorts that you could put markers on if you wanted to. That’s something that I personally would have loved in a game like this.

Other than that, though, I absolutely adore this chill and relaxing, gentle and beautiful game that frankly allows you to calm down and enjoy the ride as you move on. It’s peaceful and lovely. The art style and the mellow tunes are perfect for this sort of game and if you ever feel like you need a change of pace from the constant distress that the outside world is putting us under, I can highly recommend this game to you… But I need to warn you that while the first playthrough (around 3 hours at most, I’d say) is great, every other playthrough may not be the same anymore, which is sad in a way. A Short Hike is a short game that comes with a nice experience at a reasonable price. In terms of replayability, it is nice to explore the map, trek along the many roads, or attempt a speedrun, but you won’t be able to spend hundreds of hours in here.

Cheers!

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

Sekiro is a ton of fun!

It’s been a while but I started playing Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and have really been enjoying it. I think there are a lot of reasons as to why I’ve enjoyed it so much so far… Hence, I’d like to talk about that today. So, I haven’t played a lot of Sekiro yet and I doubt that I’m anywhere near the end of it but I already got through my fair share of boss encounters! I’m currently 15 hours into the game and defeated the Horse Guy and Lady Butterfly already… I passed the Snake and did fight a fair few minor bosses… meanwhile I’m currently stuck at Mr Bowguy… and when I say “I’m stuck” I mean that I stopped playing since I’m frustrating and since I’m not good enough at this game.

Sekiro is a challenging souls-like Action-Adventure by From Software. In Sekiro, you follow a Shinobi known as the “Wolf” on his mission to take revenge on a clan of Samurai that attacked him and kidnapped his lord. After escaping death once, you’re given a second chance with a shinobi-tool arm-prosthetic that allows you to do new things… and all in all, it’s an interesting story that offers you a lot of challenge and lots of areas to explore. I personally really enjoyed it so far for a plethora of reasons:

Gyoubu Oniwa, a man on a horse wielding a naginata, is storming towards "the wolf" aka Sekiro's protagonist.
GYOUBU ONIWA! MY FAVOURITE BOSS SO FAR!

For starters, it’s very hard and frustrating but in a good way. Sekiro doesn’t feature stats or a stamina bar like in Dark Souls. Gear isn’t a thing and items don’t matter as much. It’s all about skill and mastery. Your enemy is your goal and to beat him is your mission. There are a bunch of attacks you can utilize from heavy and swift blows to special attacks you learn via the skill tree but overall, you mostly need to master the parry and the dodge skill in order to damage the enemy’s posture and bring them down in one fell swoop. As the wolf, you’re given a second chance after your first death, so don’t give up easily and fight on.

I personally found this very enjoyable. I never felt like an enemy was unfair. I never felt like the game was being unnecessarily hard on me. Instead, I’d rather have to learn patterns and tread carefully. Posture is important, something that is quite accurate in Iaido, the way of the sword. Alas, I enjoyed Sekiro’s combat and the way that From Software shaped the combat around “Samurai-culture”. From the design of all the characters and enemies to the stances and poses they take and even the sound design in the menu, the game feels rather polished and cohesive. There are instances of mythical creatures and ominous elements in the story that didn’t seem realistic, but Sekiro never claimed to follow a true story or anything like that. My point is that it combines real elements and values of Iaido and Iodo with mystical and magical elements and creatures and it… feels good. It works well. I, as a geek on that topic, can’t complain. I doubt anyone else really cares. The bamboo sounds in the menu, the stances that characters take in combat, and the different schools of sword fighting… Even if it’s only inspired by things that I loosely remember at this point and even if it’s not supposed to be “realistic”, it feels kind of authentic in a way, which is nice.

Anyways, I love Sekiro. And I’m currently stuck in this fight with General Bow-Guy (not his actual name). I get very close to the end but ultimately fail because I’m not good enough at the game yet. It’s not a matter of the fight being too hard… it’s a matter of me not being good enough and no matter how much I try, it never feels too bad really to fail because you have a chance! You immediately know what you’ve done wrong. That’s something that I love in this game.

Sekiro's protagonist aka the wolf is standing alone in a hall that is caving in and burning right now.

In Dark Souls 3, on the other hand, there are points where you can decide to grind to make the game easier for yourself… You need souls to advance your level and your stats. With stats, you’ll be able to dodge more as you have more stamina or to deal more damage due to your dexterity or strength going up. It’s nice and works well for an RPG but Sekiro is not that. Sekiro doesn’t need that. Instead of grinding for a certain weapon or for the next level up, you’re only relying on one thing and one thing alone: Your Skill.

Sekiro’s philosophy could be summarised using the words “If you suck, just get better”. It’s not about grinding the same area for ages but rather it’s about making the best out of the weapons that the game gives to you and mastering them. It’s about skill and mastery over grind and frustration. It’s about reflecting on your mistakes and instead of cursing the game… okay, you can add a bit of salt into the mix, too, which is understandable. Everyone gets frustrated at times, but what counts is that you have fun and for me, the fun comes with getting better and getting that super clutch kill all of a sudden after you lost your lives already in Phase 1 against Lady Butterfly and still managed to kill her not once but twice thanks to an incredible amount of luck and thanks to some form of transcendence that you’ll most likely never achieve again. Oh gosh, I hated that fight in so many ways!

Sekiro can be frustrating but it doesn’t have to be. If you die a lot, just don’t get hit. If you suck at the game, get better at it. If you don’t want to get killed, just kill the enemy before they have a chance to kill you. And I personally just love that about it. You can’t really avoid fighting. You’ll fight those bosses and you’ll murder them unless they’re optional. It’s fun. It’s hard. It’s rewarding.

General Bow-Guy asking Sekiro's protagonist how "grandfather" is.
There he is… General Bowguy!

Sekiro’s most frustrating moments made the victories, however small they were were, a lot sweeter, which is a nice thing that I enjoyed about it. I’m looking forward to getting gud again. I’m looking forward to beating General Bow-Guy in Sekiro.

Cheers.

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

Late to the Party #9 – Yakuza 0

For quite a while now, I’ve been hearing great things about the Yakuza series. I mean, thanks to Humble Monthly and Choice, I own Yakuza 0, Kiwami and Kiwami 2 already, so it was only a matter of time until I’d play one of the games and despite me being late to the party here, I was quite overjoyed with having played and beaten Yakuza 0!

Note: This is not a review… It may look like one… but it’s not… I just played through the game and made a post about it… Enjoy the post! Also remember to hydrate properly because Kiryu and Majima make me thirsty!

Kiryu may be scary sometimes but he ain’t a killer!

So, so,… where do I start? Uh, we play as two characters in the game. Kazuma Kiryu who’s a young yakuza in his 20s and who’s part of the Dojima Family gets framed for a murder he didn’t commit (because he canonically never officially killed anyone) and that’s quite bad for the Family since yakuza don’t kill civilians. Since Kiryu has been taken in by Kazuma, Kazuma is supposed to be held accountable for Kiryu’s murder, which is why Kiryu’s trying to leave the family and to find the actual culprit. This whole thing, however, is part of something much bigger because of the empty piece of land that the murder was committed on. Meanwhile, we also play as Goro Majima, an ex-yakuza that runs a cabaret in Sotenbori to pay off a debt and to get back into the yakuza. There are a lot of circumstances going on but eventually, his story gets intertwined into Kiryu’s and it all becomes a bit of a mess that can be a bit overwhelming and confusing… but in a good way. I won’t spoil anything but I loved it and loved seeing the parallels between the characters’ ideals and playstyles. Similarly, I had to pause the game now and then to think about what the implications and revelations meant for the story and why things were turning out the way they were turning out. There are a lot of parties involved, a lot of characters get introduced, and a lot of things happen, resulting in a brilliant story that ends up getting resolved with basically no plot holes left. I enjoyed it.

Kiryu is such a cutie. I love it!

At its core, though, Yakuza 0 is an Open World Action game where you fight off enemies using three different fighting styles (per character) and a plethora of weapons and techniques. It’s fun, it’s entertaining and kind of challenging, at first. For my playthrough, I played on the Hard difficulty and struggled quite a bit against the first boss, Kuze, but after that, the game turned out to be rather easy… which may be due to the upgrades I got. I ended up abusing the food system that lets you heal even during combat and ended up investing all of my money into my own body to unlock new abilities, more health, and stronger attacks. The damage you receive in fights can be healed using food from your inventory or by visiting eateries outside of combat. There are also a lot of side-quests and activities around town to get you sidetracked and make you lose your time. You know that amazing story I mentioned? Yeah, I delayed by an hour to play Shogi instead, after learning in the game how to play shogi… and then I delayed for another two hours after finding out about Karaoke and Pocket Circuit, the local racing game.

GOOOOOROOOOO MAJIMAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

The substories are the best part of the game, though. These sidequests are hilarious and ridiculous and it suits the game a lot. The rewards may not be worth it at first… but eventually, when you progress through the game, a lot of the side characters return to help you out, which is quite nice. And the ridiculous stories fit quite well into the game because of the fun little conversation choices and the over-the-top-combat. The story may be serious but when I can ram a bike into someone’s head and they still survive that, I can’t take a game that seriously… I mean… Again, the story is brilliant,… but at the beginning, I didn’t think that the main plot would be so good, judging from the amusing combat experience. Eventually, I ended up rushing through the game as I wanted to finish it before NieR Replicant comes out, so I ended up not doing too many sidequests for a while and didn’t regret that actually, at all. I even cried for a bit during one of the scenes.

It burns… a lot…. it pains me in my kokoro to be called out like that.

You may notice that I’m a bit all over the place right now but I still can’t believe that I’m done with Yakuza 0 already… and I’m a bit bummed out about it but there are still 34 achievements for me to collect and I really wanna clear them all… or at least most of them! Apart from that, the game’s somewhat old… I mean, it’s from 2015 as far as I know… but it still aged well! Don’t look at the water and you’ll be fine, though. The rest of the world is super pretty and the characters look and sound amazing. The Japanese dub is great and I loved listening to the fun soundtrack, too. It certainly aged well for a game that is six years old – I’ve seen newer games that looked a lot worse!

The future is NOW! (The game plays in the 1980s btw)

Now apart from that, there are a few things I don’t like. For starters, food is overpowered. Once you stock up on Sushi Sets you are nearly invincible. The combat felt great at the start but eventually, I noticed, that on Hard Difficulty the fights just turn into a button-mashing contest. Two styles aren’t that good in my opinion while the other two are overwhelmingly good, so there’s a balancing issue. The “Breaker” Style that you unlock later on, for instance, lets you deal with a ton of enemies at the same but it’s also great in One-on-One situations. I won’t spoil the other ones but I noticed that eventually I was quite strong and I frankly didn’t have a hard time at all. Fights were just me getting the heat gauge up and then smashing the enemies with motorcycles and stuff. Until the final chapter, combat felt somewhat easy, to be honest, so again, balance. I would have enjoyed a more even difficulty curve that would steadily make things harder, either by equipping guns onto them and other stronger weaponry or by buffing their damage more. There is also this one guy that you defeat a bunch of times and he just doubles up on health but doesn’t get stronger, in my opinion, making him a bad boss fight in a way…

Gotta beat up the imposter!

So, I’d love to talk about characters that get introduced more but that’d be a spoiler… the story then? Oh, right, that’d be a spoiler… The minigames? Well, one of them can get you banned on Twitch, but the rest are fine. Also technically spoilers. I’d recommend Yakuza 0 to anyone and everyone. It’s a great game and after 42.7 hours in it, I don’t think I’ll be done with the game just yet. There is still so much to do! I want to be good at most of the minigames and be friends with all the NPCs and fight Mr Shakedown until there is none left… and then there’s the different fighting styles I need to improve, all the food I need to taste, and just so much more. Great game! Looking forward to Yakuza Kiwami!

What are your opinions on the Yakuza series or Yakuza 0 in particular? Have you played it yet? Do you plan to? Let me know!

Cheers!

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

Indietail – Osteoblasts

I honestly wanted to write about this title for a while now… In fact, you may have actually read my post on the demo before and then after I published it, the developers hit me up and I got a review key for the full game… and then I’ve been playing it for a few hours… and then I tried other classes… And now we’re here, way too late, and I’m lowkey-addicted to Osteoblasts. That’s a good thing. I like playing RPGs but I’ve been a bit burned out from the genre since it always seemed like the same thing being made with different storylines… and Osteoblasts does appeal to me on a lot of levels and makes it seem new and fresh.

Developer: Moonana, Anglerman
Publisher: Moonana
Genre: RPG, Turn-Based Combat, Adventure
Release Date: February 12th, 2021
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC
Copy was sent to me by the developer.

I mean, the premise is simple. You’re a skeleton, you get revived by a Witch Cat, and now you… do stuff. You fight against dogs, skeletons, ghosts, demons and elephants. You level up your character, equip new randomised gear, fight enemies, crawl through dungeons, and eventually, you’ll still understand nothing. The gameplay is satisfying, the story not so much. My issue with the story is that it’s just super confusing. On the one hand, the dialogue sometimes is hard to understand and whenever there is supposed to be a revelation of sorts, the NPCs just drop more riddles and mysteries onto you, making the story less of a satisfying experience, in my opinion. The gameplay, on the other hand, is excellent and while some of the dialogue can be hard to understand, most of the jokes and puns actually land and made me chuckle.

Btw, you’ll need to use your bonemark to cast spells/skills! Ain’t that fun?

As you rise from your grave, you get to choose between six different classes ranging from the Shaman to the Scavenger to the Stranger. I would have liked it if you were shown example skills or maybe more info on the different characters. The game certainly is lacking in the clarity department and leaves you hanging when it comes to explanations regarding your class or skills. I noticed that weapons would have similar names but have randomised skills and stats. This is a great thing, in my opinion, as it adds replayability and lets you customise your class a lot more. In the same way, you have a lot of different stats that influence combat in a plethora of ways from enhancing your attacks to letting you counter attacks or making you heal more. Stats also determine whether or not you can draw out the full potential of your weapons. Skills often are tied to certain stats. Buffing up stats in combat using spells, however, can also enable you to use the according skills. Overall, I like that mechanic a lot but it took me ages until I figured it out. The manual didn’t really help me in-game and I feel like the tutorial should’ve given me more of a helping hand, even if I hate tutorials that hold your hand too much…

Being able to use your skills only when you meet the requirements is interesting since it also influences how you gear up for certain encounters. Equipping different gear shapes your character in a lot of ways, giving you more attacks and helping you out stat-wise. If enemies use debuffs on you, you may lose out on the stat-requirement for certain attacks, which adds a bit more depth to combat. Just like how they can stop you from bashing their heads in, you can also debuff enemies and reduce their stats, preventing them from returning the favour. It’s interesting and fun. I like that a lot about this game. Similarly, you attack enemies, they have a chance to counter you. They attack you, you get to counter them. It’s great to see that rules apply to all characters in the game and it’s refreshing that they have the same chances at taking jabs at you, raising the difficulty a bit more.

Exploration is fun. You don’t need to travel far away to get to different parts of the world and friendly villages. There are a lot of Metroidvania-ish roadblocks in the game that urge you to find other ways to get to the next area like keys that you get from different boss battles or boulders you need to mine with pickaxes. It’s interesting and exploration gets generally rewarded since you’ll unlock shortcuts as well along the way. Through Exploration you also find statues of the old gods. There are six different gods that you can pray to earn bonuses to your stats. On every level up, you get to pray to one of three gods that each grant you two stat increases. Meanwhile, the aforementioned statues grant you those regardless of the level up and also can give you passive bonuses, a checkpoint, fast travel points or even shops, making them quite the reward for exploration.

My favourite part about Osteoblasts, however, is the presentation and the personality that comes with it. The game’s soundtrack is amazing and adds a lot to the atmosphere, especially since the world’s tracks play in battles, too, making the changes from exploration to battle not too abrupt. Similarly, the art style is phenomenal with abstract background art in battles, cute pixel art in the overworld and amazing pixelated character models in the actual turn-based battles. The animations for the different attacks range from simple sword swings to spell effects that appear on the target. The sound design is fun and adds a lot to the game.

But yeah, clarity is the big downside to Osteoblasts. I had to try a lot and fail at it until I figured out that my stats are the reason behind me being able to use a specific spell… or not being able to use it. Similarly, I’d love to see the debuffs and explanations about the enemy by hovering over it, so that I can plan the battles even more… but the game doesn’t have that. And I’d love it if I could get more information on items but, again, the game doesn’t have that. Once you find out about things, you can have a great time,… but until then it can be frustrating unless you catch on quickly about how things work in this game.

Still, despite the clarity issues, I had and am still having a great time with this game. Osteoblasts breathes life into a genre that has been quite dead to me for quite a while now and is delivering a satisfying experience despite its shortcomings in terms of clarity and plot. I would say that you’re making a grave mistake (pun intended) if you don’t at least try out the demo. The full game certainly has a lot to offer and I can highly recommend it.

Cheers!

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

More on the Frogwares-Nacon-Dispute

So, not too long ago, I wrote about Frogwares and Nacon and The Sinking City and tried to explain my stance on it in combination with the information that was open to the public. Then Frogwares DM’d me about some information I got wrong or that I portrayed in a wrong way, so I figured I should write a small update on the situation with information from those Twitter direct messages. I could have just updated the post but since a lot of people read it and seemed interested in it, I figured I should make a new post on it so that people actually see the updated information and so on.

For anyone that doesn’t know what this is about: Here’s the previous post, I’d say read the previous post… I’ll try summarising it quickly but it’s quite difficult to put it into a TLDR of sorts. So, Frogwares are a small studio that is behind the popular Sherlock Holmes games among others and have been developing The Sinking City for a year but required more financial support for the development of it. Nacon, formerly known as BigBen Interactive, was supposed to contribute to the game financially per contract on certain milestones and they’d be able to be the sole contributor of the standard version of the game and they’d take a revenue share as well. Nacon ended up agreeing to the terms but didn’t deliver the money on-time or would stop it completely, presumably because they wanted to get Frogwares’ source code for another game and Frogwares refused to give it to them. Nacon doesn’t own the IP or anything and has no right to stop financing the studio just because of Frogwares protecting their IP but they just ended up being dicks about it. Stuff went to court and now it gets complicated.

So, Nacon basically demands a version for them to sell on Steam and basically started selling an older version without any Frogwares logos on the boxes and stuff… That’s against the agreement, too. They also nearly breached the deal with Epic Games that Frogwares had by trying to sell on a different platform despite the exclusivity agreement. Frogwares had to issue DMCAs on different storefronts to prevent that. Nacon went to court.

July 2020: The Judge refused to order the continuation of the contract and the delivery of a new Steam Master version to Nacon. Nacon did after all breach the contract multiple times.

October 2020: The Appeal Court ruled differently. The contract continues but Frogwares does not have to deliver a new Steam Master version of the game. Nacon did receive a version before for the commercialization on the Epic Games Store and since there was this exclusivity agreement there, there was no commercialization on Steam yet. Hence, they should use the EGS version and be happy with it… So, the judgement from October 2020 is not preventing Nacon to release the game on Steam since they have the Master Version (from EGS) from April 2019. For whatever reason, however, Nacon wants a new version instead. Since the court didn’t say that Frogwares has to do that, Frogwares doesn’t do it. Frogwares proposed three times to find an agreement on that older version but Nacon refused it every single time.

Fast forward to February 2021 where Nacon still has the Steam Master Version from April 2019 but refuses to use that one. Frogwares still doesn’t have to deliver a newer version. Nacon refuses Frogwares’ proposals of settlings. Instead, Nacon goes and buys a commercial version that is newer from Frogwares only to then crack it open and edit/hack/pirate it to use it on Steam. They do not have the right to do so per contract or per court case or whatever. Piracy isn’t allowed at all in this case or any case. 

Another part of public information is that the decisions of July 2020 and October 2020 are summary court decisions and hence not final. The final decisions are sent to the trial court. I assume this means that the legal dispute will continue and with Nacon not only breaching the copyright agreement but also pirating a copy to sell their own, I’d reckon that the tides may shift in favour of Frogwares here. We’ll have to see about that.

Another part here is that Nacon still has to pay Frogwares the money they’re owed. Nacon is selling units of the games right now but is sending negative sales report without any indication or explanation. Nacon refuses to explain to Frogwares how they can sell the game but actually lose money. They have to pay Frogwares but make reports that there isn’t anything to pay. They don’t give any details on sales figures nor any documents that would explain this phenomenon of selling a lot but losing money. Hence, Frogwares’ only real option here is to start a new court case so that the judge can order Nacon to give them the actual documents and actual sales figures that are also part of the contractual obligation. 

My stance on the matter doesn’t change here. Nacon still behaves like a huge child that wants a new version despite the court ruling that Frogwares doesn’t have to give them one. Nacon doesn’t understand that no means no, which is an issue. I still think that Frogwares deserves all the support in the world. With these new bits of information, I still believe more in Frogwares. Nacon still just says “no, you” in there statement and says the opposite. We’ll just have to wait on the court’s ruling and see how things turn out in the future.

Any thoughts? Let me know! I still think that the topic here is quite interesting and since I apparently misinterpreted information or phrased it in the wrong way, I’m happy that Frogwares reached out and let me know about the bits of information that I was missing.

Cheers!

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

Looking out for We Are The Plague

We Are The Plague (formerly known as “Plague in Us”) is a tactical turn-based game set in a hand-drawn dark-fantasy world where you join the Plague and seek your revenge. The story is very cryptic but you essentially escape from prison and, with the power of the Plague, you find other team members, get rid of enemies and fulfil these missions of sorts. It’s an RPG that looks quite interesting and I’m looking quite forward to it.

Developer: Forever Entertainment S.A.
Publisher: Forever Entertainment S.A.
Genre: Tactical, Strategy, Turn-Based, RPG, Adventure, Dark Fantasy
Release Date: Q3 2021
Played on: PC
Demo available on Steam.

The game’s going to come out in 2021’s Q3 but you can play a demo right now right here. It’s an amazing experience in my opinion, which is why I planned on writing about it and my thoughts on it.

From the get-go, I’ve been intrigued by this game. The story is quite cryptic and you’ll have to piece it together slowly whenever you get bits of information here and there. Who are we? Who or what are the Plague? What is our goal and what are we trying to accomplish with our crusade/revenge? What did they do to us? What’s happening in the world? Questions upon questions but answers are only slowly trickling in, which is why we need to move forward. The hand-drawn art style reminds me a lot of Darkest Dungeon and the amazing soundtrack adds a rather nice feel to the overall atmosphere, which really compliments the themes of the story.

You move your character around and can command it to attack or defend. Combat is initiated by walking into the line of sight of enemies. Then your party gets pulled out and you move around in turn-based and, I guess, RTS-ish fashion? You position your units in a way so that you can get some good attacks in, reposition or kite enemies away. Different units have more movement points and can travel further. The different stats also influence other aspects of combat, like defence and attack, for instance. The three characters that you play in the Prologue/demo each fulfil a class of sorts. Your main character is a knight of sorts that does pack a punch and does have a few hit points but it’s not a tank. Another character can reduce his health by half to deal double damage while your third character utilizes a crossbow and can hence attack from afar at the cost of being fairly squishy. 

You can customise your characters using weapon runes and tattoos that grant you power. It’s an interesting mechanic but nothing too different from other RPGs. If anything, I’d say that the equipment that was shown in the demo leads to assuming that equipment itself doesn’t play too much of a role in the full game… I mean, I don’t know anything about other items that will come later, so it’s a bummer that nothing more is shown apart from one tattoo that you can put on one of your three characters.

What’s more pleasant, however, is how the side objectives in the story influence the game or give you new ways to play the game. There is a prisoner that you can choose to free or you leave him behind and your choice influences how the game plays out, making it harder to easier for yourself. I like that level of choice that you can have in the game and ultimately it adds a bit more of a challenge to the game. You can also level your characters and potentially unlock more abilities but some of the instructions feel a bit unclear.

I’d love it if there was a tutorial-section in the journal that allows you to look things up. How do certain stats work? How do abilities work? That kind of stuff, just in case you need to refresh yourself, you’d be able to look up what you learned so far, making the game more accessible, in a way.

Overall, it was pleasant though. There are some achievements in the demo and I got through the Prologue within two hours, so it was quite nice. I really dig the hand-drawn style and the overall aesthetic. I wonder how the story will pan out and what other weapon runes and tattoos there will be… Cool game! Looking forward to it!

You can try out We Are The Plague yourself by playing the demo!. You may also want to wishlist it, just in case! I hope you enjoyed this post! What do you think of the game? Have you played the demo yet? If you have or if you end up playing it now, feel free to share your opinions on it! I’m burning to see your thoughts!

Cheers!

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

Late to the Party #6 – Assassin’s Creed 2

It’s been a month since I last posted an LttP post and so, today I’m covering Assassin’s Creed 2 – a game I just finished today on stream. FINALLY. Today, I’m going to cover my thoughts on AC2, the improvements over the first title, what I liked a lot and what I didn’t like.

Note: This is not a review. Hence, there will be spoilers. If you mind spoilers from a game that is twelve years old then… this post may not be for you. Also… the featured image for this is a fanart I did before I played it… I hope you like it.

So, Assassin’s Creed 2 picks off where the first game left off. We’re Desmond Miles in the present day who’s now escaping Abstergo and entering the Animus again, now by choice, to train to become an assassin through the memories of Renaissance Italy’s Ezio Auditore da Firenze. The graphics are more polished already and being in Renaissance Italy adds a lot of much-needed colour to the world with pretty structures and architecture in the world, lots of different colours and amazing weapon types. The world looks better and while the Animus-stuff is still in the game, we get booted out of the past only about three times during the whole game, including the end, which is why you have more than enough time to explore the world and not get bothered by this weird Animus-storyline that nobody cares about. I’ve heard that the later games drop it completely, which is great… because really, nobody cares about that.

Ezio Auditore wasn’t always an assassin. In fact, we know how to fight… kind of… and how to free-run… but the game tells the story of our family, the Auditore family, helping out the Medici familia to uncover the truth of a plot against the state… but we get betrayed and our little brother, our big brother and our father get hanged publicly for conspiring against the state. Driven by revenge, Ezio’s now hunting down the conspirators and putting a lot of different names on a death list. As time goes on, we get trained in the ways of the Assassin’s since our family belonged to the Creed, known from the first game. It might be a bit overwhelming at first but the storyline is already a lot better than the first game. We get to murder different historical characters and the fact that we get to meet people like Leonardo da Vinci and Niccolo Machiavelli in person and work together with them is amazing. On top of that, the game also ties in other historic characters like Dante Alighieri into the storyline and even mentions Altaïr Ibn-La’Ahad, known from the first game. Amazing!

The little conversations between the characters are full of historic/political references which were nice. At the same time, the game allows itself to crack a joke here and there. I still can’t get over the fact that Ezio’s uncle introduced himself with “It’s-a meeee, Mario!” – It cracked me up.

The gameplay itself saw a lot of improvement as well. You don’t have the annoying content gating anymore. You can do sidequests whenever you want to and explore at your own leisure. Now and then, areas are still not available because they are from later story-lines and get unlocked later, which kind of sucks, but you can explore as much as you want to or just rush through the story within hours. The choice is yours. You don’t have to do side quests anymore, unlike the first game where you were forced to do three or more side quests to proceed with the story. It was annoying but Assassin’s Creed 2 shows that it’s a thing of the past and you’re not forced to do that… so you can do it whenever you feel like it, which I really enjoyed. Side Quests are great if you aren’t forced to do them. I’ll talk more about that later. Exploration doesn’t consist of 1000 banners or something like that to collect but rather is about feathers… that have some meaning, I guess… and you have statues and treasures as well as viewpoints. As you move around and explore, you’ll amass a lot of money… which can then be invested into new gear, weapons, tools and upgrades for the Villa. Upgrading the villa and adding new buildings, brings in more people and makes it come to life and makes it so that you earn money.

Earning money, investing it into the Villa’s/City’s value, and then making more money is amazing. It feels good and adds another layer to the game… it’s almost strategic in a way and you benefit from it through a steady income that can be invested into better gear over time. 

Now, exploration is cool and still features jumping puzzles and free-running. It’s a lot faster than in the first game, though, which makes it somewhat worthwhile. On top of that, there’s now Assassin’s Tombs and Templar’s Lairs in the game that you have to raid. These involve jumping puzzles that you need to complete in order to obtain treasures and seals. You need six seals for Altair’s armour… which is the best armour in the game, really, so it’s worthwhile. 

This actually looks pretty! AC2 aged well!

But from good changes and nice things to bad things: The game just drags on and on. While at first refreshing, the new missions feel boring eventually. There are races, beat-up missions, and assassination contracts among other missions and it overall feels like the same thing over and over again. Chuck in some Escort missions here and there or some slow missions where some NPC is telling you a story and you need to walk very slowly next to them. Instead of creating a cutscene for it, Ubisoft decided to go for these small missions that kind of slow down the pace and reduce the momentum momentarily, which is a bit annoying, to say the least. I didn’t like that personally speaking and would have loved it if they had just gone for cutscenes in those case or if we had to do parkour somewhere while Shaun is telling us the information or something. This trend continues into areas like combat with the combat mechanics at first feeling refreshing with a lot of different weapons and new animations as well as a lot of new systems and skills… but eventually, it just turns into a button-mashing contest where you spam X until people die. Especially with swift weapons like swords and daggers, it becomes a bit too easy, as you just attack the enemy over and over and over again until they die eventually. Even if they block most of your attacks or counter them, you can still counter their counter and continue attacking them, often stun-locking them into walls, until they die. Combat has plenty of mechanics like taunting, disarming, throwing, dodging, countering, etc. but it just feels like a button-mashing contest with some mechanics in it for the sake of style points. You can either dodge and attack three times… or you attack three times… it doesn’t make a difference, especially with how frequently you can heal yourself or purchase more healings.

At the same time, the game eventually has this plotline where everyone is an assassin apparently and we get initiated into the creed and end up chasing after the Pope who’s our last target… and to do so… there’s this siege at a fortress and a map we get and we have to save two children and kill nine lieutenants and it just is a bit of a mess. The first game? It was predictable. Oh no, our teacher and father-figure is going to betray us and be our last target? Who would have thought?! The second game… starts off strong and falls off after 20+ hours as you have no idea what’s going on anymore. The game suddenly introduces new enemies and you have to do these super tedious missions all of a sudden… and then… to unlock the final mission, you need to gather all 30 codex pages. Luckily, I got 28 already… but I had to backtrack for half an hour to find the last two so that I could beat the last two missions. The second-last mission was kind of fun… but that last one with the boss fight was just annoying. 

And well, the boss fight is… another mess that just could fill out a post on its own. Ezio has a piece of Eden and the Pope has one… and Ezio is the prophet and Pope Borgia is believing that he’s actually it, so they battle for the other piece of Eden to gain supreme power. The Pope suddenly has Yedi powers like Darth Vader and can fucking make us fly and stab us… but we still survive that with no issues at all for whatever reason… and all of a sudden we know how to utilize our piece of Eden and create four copies of ourselves that fight alongside us. When did we learn that? Never, we just had this Deus Ex Machina moment allowing us to pull that technique out of our arse. It’s not Ass Creed for nothing, right? Once we beat the Pope in a fist-fight during which he didn’t cheat for whatever reason, we enter the Vault… where Minerva… a Goddess… is revealing the truth and the prophecy to us. Minerva and the other Gods created us but they’re not gods… they’re aliens… or something like that. They were very advanced but got betrayed by the humans they created and lost because of the numbers advantage. And then Earth got fucked up by the sun or something… and that’s gonna happen again, so Minerva is speaking through Ezio to Desmond (yup) to warn him about the catastrophe that is yet to come and the templars that want to embrace it… and then the game ends.

Sadly there were no achievements on Steam available since I finished at least 75% of the content in the game after 30.3 hours in the game. I’m missing a few treasures, a lot of feathers and a few paintings but otherwise I should be done, collectible-wise. What frustrated me was the requirement of Ubisoft for me to start up the game on Steam… why? Idk…

So, I could also go into the sexism in the game and the at times janky controls but overall, I feel like it was an alright game. It was certainly A LOT better than Assassin’s Creed 1 but the story struggled later on and combat and the controls ended up disappointing me. However, I’m still looking forward to playing Brotherhood eventually once I get to that on stream.

Ass Creed 2 was alright. What are your thoughts on it? Did you play it? And if not, would you play it now? Let me know!

Cheers!

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

Looking out for Anuchard

Today I wanted to take a look at Anuchard‘s Demo. It’s a retro-inspired 2D Action RPG where you play as the Bellwielder whose job is to retrieve the souls of people that went missing in the dungeon. Dive into the dungeon, solve puzzles, fight monsters and restore the world’s fallen civilization!

Developer: stellarNull
Publisher: stellarNull
Genre: Indie, Action, RPG, Pixel Art, Adventure

The game’s release date is yet to be announced (TBA) but there is a demo available on steam right now. It starts off a bit clunky with you getting swarmed in a dream, dying and then waking up in bed… but the game is very much aware of tropes like that and makes fun of them, which is kind of interesting. You then get prompted to meet up with other people at the town hall where you end up finding the Audros Bell, an ancient bell that the Bellwielder uses to free the trapped souls in the dungeon. With it in hand and multiple spirits’ voices in your head, you end up venturing into the dungeon to free one of the villagers.

Combat features mostly three buttons. I’d recommend using a controller since… while you can rebind keys on the keyboard it feels weird if that makes sense. You have a normal attack that does some damage and can strike multiple foes at once as well as a heavy attack that makes you dash forward a bit and launch a powerful attack that will launch enemies away. Enemies often have armour that breaks when they’re launched into objects or walls. Beating enemies can drop crystals that you can use to place down a spire that heals you. Overall, it’s somewhat simple but it works. I would have personally liked it if there was a dash or something in the game to reposition yourself or mitigate damage by rolling away. Apart from that, attacks feel slow at times and you have this weird delay after attacking a few times. I’d like a stamina system more where your attacks either get weaker if you end up spamming them… or where you can’t dash or attack anymore once your stamina is down.

The dungeons also feature puzzles that utilize the knockback mechanic – at least in the demo. There may be more and different puzzles in the game later on but in the demo, it was limited to two similar puzzles – one of them took me a bit to figure out as well, though. Once you solve puzzles or beat rooms, you end up unlocking doors, similar to the Zelda games, although the puzzles are less elaborate. Then you fight a boss, get a relic and use that relic to revive a villager.

Villagers rejuvenate the village. You unlock a chef, for instance, whose dishes make you stronger based on the ingredients, similar to Monster Hunter World’s food system, which is a nice touch. Later you find other upgrades and abilities, potentially, but the demo doesn’t really give me any information on that, so I don’t really know.

Anuchard is intersting. The art style, music and world feels good, the combat is a bit sluggish, though. I wonder how the full game is going to look and feel like. Only time will tell.

Make sure to wishlist Anuchard and maybe even play the demo yourself!

Cheers!

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

The Sinking City – The legal dispute between Frogwares and Nacon continues!

On June 27th, 2019, The Sinking City was released on multiple platforms, including Steam. Then there’s been a bit of an issue between the developers and their “publisher”, which lead to it being delisted and eventually the matter being taken to court. Alas, I figured I should talk about it since it now is being stirred up again.

First things first. The Sinking City is an action-adventure game developed by Frogwares, the creators of Call of Cthulhu. It is inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s stories and set in the fictional city of Oakmont, Massachusetts, during the 1920s where the private investigator Charles W. Reed searches for clues to the cause of the terrifying visions plaguing him and the mystery of Oakmont’s unrelenting flooding. The game was announced in 2016 with footage eventually shown in 2017, and the game getting released in 2019 as a timed exclusive on the Epic Games Store. Nacon (formerly known as BigBen Interactive) was licensed as a distributor until 2020 but pretended to be more than that, aka a “publisher”. Their contract with Frogwares on account of both intellectual property violation and lack of payment, which is why the game was delisted from Steam, the EGS, as well as the XBOX One and PlayStation 4 digital storefronts until the legal dispute between the two parties was done. In exchange for a financial contribution, Frogwares gave Nacon the right to sell and commercialize the game on four platforms, but the intellectual property would still belong to the only producer and owner of this game, Frogwares. The deal was signed and payments were to be received for each production milestone completed. On top of that, there would be a revenue share in place starting from the first dollar earned.

According to Frogwares who addressed this in an open letter, “BBI/Nacon was hundreds and hundreds of days behind in payments in total”, followed by BBI/Nacon buying out a competing studio working on another Lovecraftian game and demanding that Frogwares would give their source code for The Sinking City to their competitor. The problem here is that they don’t really have the right to demand anything like that since they do not own the IP. When Frogwares refused, BBI/Nacon stopped financial contributions for over four months. Nacon would also not deliver any consistent sales figures or business plans and otherwise refuse to collaborate. Eventually, the game was released and despite them approving of all the previous milestones, they refused to pay up or give Frogwares the shares they deserved. They didn’t document sales figures or any other data on how many units were sold. At the same time, they would make up things about console manufacturers not having paid royalties for more than five months, despite the same manufacturer paying up without delay during that time for Frogwares’ other games. Hence, Frogwares went to court.

On top of not paying up or contributing financially, Nacon also has been still earning money from the release. While not holding their end of the deal, they profited from the game while pretending to be the publisher and owner of the IP and game. They listed Frogwares as a technical partner while removing any proof of their involvement in the game on all boxes, packaging and other material, resulting in them creating this illusion of them being the owners of the IP. The contract between the parties was then supposed to be terminated as a result of the court case but Nacon is refusing to accept that. Nacon also refused to take the games down and to pay up, so the matter wasn’t ending anytime soon. Frogwares’ only option was to take the game down via a DMCA notice on multiple occasions. Nacon then tried to still sell the game as their own property on multiple occasions by buying one copy of it, then hacking the game’s source code and editing it in a way that suggests that it’s owned and created by Nacon and not Frogwares. Then they started re-distributing it on Steam and other platforms. Features like achievements would be missing since the game would only be offline. Logos by Frogwares were removed or changed and overall, the game would behave differently.

Frogwares also explained that they purchased the Deluxe Edition from their store and then released the altered version of that copy on Steam, which is a further breach of their contract. They didn’t pay them for any of the previous game but even if they had and were still contracted to them, they wouldn’t have been able to profit from the extra content and DLC offered in the Deluxe Edition, hence essentially pirating/stealing that extra content from Frogwares. Obviously, the game was taken down, yet again, on Steam but Nacon seems to continue the attempts of theft, robbery and profit from the game, despite not having any right to do so at all. They even launched the game at a 60% discount, to make as much money as possible before it would be taken down, which is ridiculous, to say the least.

Now, Nacon actually responded to this publicly just recently, saying that they are “contractually the sole exclusive distributor of The Sinking City on Steam”, but the court decided in favour of Frogwares that the contract is terminated. Nacon then denies all of the allegations, saying that they paid all of the financial contributions and the payment of royalties to Frogwares in time, accusing Frogwares to act in bad faith and saying that they have no right to make the game available to Nacon on Steam. What’s truly evil is that Nacon is actually turning it the other way around saying that the court has decided in their favour and prompted the continuation of the contract, while pulling quotes of their butt. According to Nacon, Frogwares tried to sell the game again on Steam without mentioning Nacon at all (an incident of which I know nothing of as I can’t find any sources… hmmm….). Now, Nacon is threatening with legal action as well, saying that Frogwares has apparently not indicated that “all court decisions in the dispute between Nacon and Frogwares have thus far been favourable to Nacon”.

The issue with this is that to make a lie seem true, you mix in a bit of the truth. They mentioned that Frogwares encouraged the gaming community via Twitter to not buy the game, which is true. There is proof of this… but Nacon doesn’t provide any truth at all towards their accusations here. Meanwhile, Frogwares showed the changes made in the most recent version on Steam in a video, which I’ll link below, and they provided sources and proof to everything they mentioned in their open letter. Frogwares doesn’t pull up any quotes or anything that the court apparently said out of their arses, they actually show parts of the contract, screenshots and other proof to make you believe them, while Nacon is just pulling the “Uno Reverse Card” here by saying that Frogwares is lying. 

Frogwares: “Nacon stole our property, didn’t pay us in time, is still not paying us, isn’t in a contract with us anymore and has yet to pay us, and they now are trying to profit off our IP without any right to do so while pretending to be the creator of the game.” – Nacon: “No, you’re lying. We’re right. Shut up.”

I don’t get why people are still so endazzled with Lovecraftian Horror when Corporate Horror is so much scarier. Nacon here, an evil corporation, is also trying to sway over people by pretending to be the only ones that made this game possible through their financing and support, when in fact, they started giving money to Frogwares after two years of development, and they stopped giving money to Frogwares after Frogwares denied them to incorporate Frogwares’ source code into a different studios’ game, which is ridiculous. Nacon is like an orange man-child of a Giant that has too much money and power while Frogwares is the tiny David trying his best to deal with this endless legal trouble. Eventually, Nacon gave Frogwares a 48-hours ultimatum to produce a functioning version to them so they can sell it on Steam or else they would “use all solutions available within the law and the contract”… so piracy is within the law, I guess, as they stole the game and started selling the altered version of it. Counterfeit, intellectual theft, piracy, and threats are apparently within the law and the contract (that btw is still breached). 

And I thought that Epic Games was evil but I guess there’s always someone worse out there. Nacon even tried to breach the exclusivity agreement that Frogwares and Nacon had with Epic Games by publishing the game on a different platform. While Frogwares didn’t know how many units were sold, how much money they would make and whether or not the revenue share was accurate on Steam (since Nacon didn’t provide any real documented sales figures), the minimum payment agreement in the Epic Games contract that actually gives developers a minimum amount in case their game doesn’t sell too well, would have been a lifeline. This is a wild guess and purely based on speculation… but what if… WHAT IF… Nacon tried to sabotage Frogwares on multiple occasions to tear them into ruins and disable them to make money to eventually buy them up like the competing company mentioned above. That’d be stupid, right? But what if Frogwares hadn’t delivered the game due to the lack of payments? Well, Nacon would have gone to court and probably won because they’re an evil corporation and they have money. This court case is already turning into a really long battle between the two but I’m not sure how Frogwares will hold up against Nacon. I don’t get why Nacon is trying so hard to get a two-year-old game back to Steam. I don’t have a huge understanding of business practices but I feel like they’d lose out on that, big-time… the only real idea that crosses my mind is that they want to buy Frogwares after wearing it down slowly and potentially bringing them to ruins. Wear them down, crush them, buy them, rebuild them, make money. Maybe that’s it? But I doubt that… again, it’s all speculation and it’s super silly as well. 

Nacon published some games that I have in my library now… and honestly, I don’t like Nacon. I’m calling them evil over here and I even compared to Trump for whatever reason because this whole ordeal seems dumb and pointless, just like Trump’s era in the States. I don’t see a point in their refusal to just pay up and continue with the revenue shares they get from the game (if their contract is really still in place). I mean, according to them, the contract wasn’t terminated… so why don’t they just grow a pair and stop the legal bullying here. They go through such huge lengths to pirate that game and make little to no money off of it when they know that they’re only screwing themselves over it. 

Apparently, Nacon also has (according to them) the right to use a third party to deliver the game on Steam without Frogwares’ approval, according to their contract… but nobody’s showing the contract and Nacon doesn’t have a contract with Frogwares anymore, according to Frogwares. I believe Frogwares for the most part here since they are ready to show more proof than Nacon. Meanwhile Nacon is just doubling down on their stubbornness and continuing to bully and provoke Frogwares until they can win a court case of something. As seen in their press release, they’re not even trying to deny that they stole and hacked the game. Ridiculous!

Any thoughts? Let me know! I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while now but then I thought it was over… in 2019… but then it started up again and even though big sites have already covered it plenty of times, I figured that maybe some people may be interested in hearing about it and spreading the word. In case, you want to read up on more info regarding this… 

Here are the sources:
Frogwares’ open letter on the situation
Frogwares’ proof of Nacon’s piracy
Frogwares’ video (see the link on Nacon’s piracy and the video above)
Right of Reply from Nacon following Frogwares’ allegations
“The court’s decision” according to Nacon and this press release
Dates and names were taken from the most reliable source on the web
Pictures used for this blog post to make things prettier were taken from the gallery/press pictures

Alas, if you want to get the game yourself, you cannot do that on Epic Games, Steam, or the XBOX/PS4 digital storefronts since there’s this whole thing still going on and the contract between Frogwares and Nacon states that Nacon is the sole distributor on those fronts… However, Frogwares self-published the game for the Switch as well as on their own site (linked above) and on Gamesplanet, so you can get it over there.

Cheers!

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

Outriders – First Impressions

Honestly, I’m not sure what to think about Outriders. I’ve been playing it for the last four hours and while I’ve enjoyed the demo, it’s mostly that I’ve enjoyed the abilities.

For anyone that doesn’t know, there’s a demo available for Outriders right now that lets you play through the first chapter of the game. There are four classes and you can level up to Level 7 and unlock World Level 4. Everything transitions over to the full game if you end up pre-purchasing or buying it… 

Where do I start? Where do I start? Uh,… Earth is doomed and people hence travel to a distant planet. One of the ships blows up in space for whatever reason and down on the planet, there are these alien storms that are very lethal. For whatever reason, we don’t die by it but get altered instead… hence, we’re one of the “Altered”, on top of being one of the remaining Outriders (the military people that came with one of the ships). There is black goo that is infecting people, killer storms, and some mad scientist that commands the other ship that is still in space to come down despite us not being ready. God damn it! Alas, stuff happens and we get put into Cryo to be saved later… but we wake up 31 years later instead of the few days, weeks, months that were planned. Alas, once we arise from our slumber, we are involved in a war, we are left to die and then we end up helping our friends, including my favourite character so far: The charismatic and never-sober Jakub! 

Oh no…. a storm is coming!

Well, since we’re an Altered, we have up to three different skills that can be exchanged for different skills. The four classes play quite differently, although I haven’t played too much of the Trickster just yet (more of that tomorrow, hopefully). The Technomancer is an ice-based long-ranged support character that can drop turrets and other gadgets to help allies or fight their way alone through areas. The Pyromancer is a mid-range fire-mage, kind of… You can inflict a lot of elemental debuffs and damage and you have some crow control, so I’ve been enjoying this one a lot. The Trickster is a time-based short-range assassin that does a lot of damage and gets shielded on top of the healing (more on that later) when they kill stuff up-close. The Devastator is an earth-based tank that goes into short to medium range and heals from killing encounters up-close.

Now, every class heals in some way. The Pyromancer has spell-leech/spell-vamp and the Technomancer heals based on long-ranged damage dealt. I love playing mages and I love snipers, so I’m enjoying both of these classes a lot. There are also skill trees in the game as well as gear that changes your spell-attributes (similar to how exotics in Destiny have special attributes). Some weapons also may synergise quite well with builds, I’ve noticed. A sniper I got has a poison shot, for instance, which works quite well if I don’t one-shot a target with it while another weapon has bonus armour pen on the first shot after reloading… I’d imagine that other weapons deal bonus damage on burning targets or targets with ailments as that could work quite well with the Pyromancer for instance.

Selfie Time!

Either way, that’s been great and interesting, but overall it feels kind of… off? The gunplay is great with some of the weapons… but others feel lacklustre. In Destiny (and the comparison was inevitable) you’ve got weapons that feel like they hit their targets and like they’re packing a punch. The gunplay is funplay. Here… you’ve got snipers that just let out a quick “pew” before you have to aim again and it’s just not as satisfying. Not all weapons are like that… but a lot of them are.

In the same way, there are some mechanics in the game that feel kinda iffy like the missing jump-button and the whole guarding-mechanic that is very Gears of War ish. I both like and dislike the guarding mechanic. Sometimes it feels unnecessary or I forget that it’s a thing. I wanna jump over an obstacle and am suddenly guarding and clinging to the wall… feels weird. At the same time, it’s cool since I haven’t played many games with that sort of mechanic.

At last… the character creation… ugh… the male voice sucks btw… I like the female voice a lot more… but my biggest problem with the character selection is that the skin tones don’t work properly. Belghast has a nice comparison in his post showing some unintentional racism where skin tones aren’t the same for all heads… I wanted to create a super pale character because… I’m super pale and a lich and all of that… but all of the skin tones look brown-ish… which I didn’t feel that great about. Luckily, you can cover your head quite well with a helmet to brush over that fact. You also have presets for hairstyles, head shapes and beards… but I can’t customize the body or shapes or whatever. At the same time, I can select a beard as a man but not as a woman… and as a woman, I can have makeup… but not as a man? I don’t know. I like my makeup on male characters, so that would have been something I would have personally enjoyed. Generally, the character creation is also lacking a lot and I hope they add stuff to it, including actual functioning skin tones. I don’t have to be a pale vampire with red lipstick in every game… but you know… I don’t feel comfortable creating POC as a white person… maybe that’s just me but I feel like I could be labelled racist or something. 

Looking Dope!

Anyways, Outriders is fun but I’m not sure if I’ll play the full game unless it’s on sale or free or something… I mean, I wanna play a looter shooter again… maybe I’ll get into Borderlands again, who knows? But Outriders may not cut it for me at a price point of 60 bucks..

What are your thoughts on the demo? Let me know!

Cheers!

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

Indietail – Breathedge

After your grandfather’s funeral ship crashed, you’re stranded in space. Just you, your immortal chicken and an AI/board computer that tells way too many jokes. Welcome to Breathedge, the “ironic space survival game” by Redruins Softwork that is releasing its version 1.0 today! I’ve been playing it on and off ever since it came out in Early Access two years and a bit more ago… and as time went on, I really wanted to like but… you’ll see.

Developer: RedRuins Softworks
Publisher: HypeTrain Digital
Genre: Open World, Survival, Space, Sci-Fi, Adventure, Sandbox
Release Date: February 25th, 2021
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC
Copy was purchased.

In Breathedge, you’ve got to survive hunger, thirst, radiation, freezing temperatures and the lack of oxygen in outer space. Easy enough. Throughout your playthrough, you’ll find resources floating around that you then can craft into tools and equipment to venture further into space or to access new types of resources, such as rubber, lead or paint. Your goal is first and foremost survival… but you also want to get to safety, which is why you’ll have to find ways to reach distant points of interest, such as an extraction point that is way too far away.

In the beginning, your oxygen reserves are limited. When you venture out from your shipwreck, you’ll find yourself quickly running out of oxygen, which is why you’ll have to come back to your ship and replenish your reserves. While this is somewhat interesting, especially with the fluid and fun movement in space, it also makes things rather tedious. Collecting resources and having to come back to base every time you run out of oxygen is annoying and while I get that resource gathering is key in these type of games… I don’t see a point in tool durability and having to craft a completely new drill whenever its durability/battery runs out… It’s quite maddening, to say the least.

Eventually, you’ll venture out and find the blueprint for the oxygen station that you can then use to set up balloons that you can refill your oxygen at, making the journey and resource gathering less annoying. You’ll also craft other upgrades for your suit to withstand the radiation or to increase your oxygen reserves, but generally speaking, I feel like it all is more leaning into the annoying to the tedious side of things instead of actually adding value to the experience. The upgrades you can get for your tools merely function as some sort of band-aid that lessens the frustration… but it is not enough, in my opinion. Getting rid of the durability mechanic completely would have made the game more enjoyable in the early stages. As mentioned before, you’ll also need to watch out for your food and hydration, which is standard-survival-stuff… Breathedge doesn’t completely re-invent the wheel or the formula for survival with these mechanics. It just does things because other games did the same things, which isn’t very exciting.

Now, where Breathedge truly shines is actually the exploration and the presentation. As far as exploration goes, you’ll find different wrecks of different spaceships floating around, functioning as eye-catchers that will allow you to pin-point more points of interest. Your oxygen reserves are, as mentioned before, limited, so you’ll need to test your limits, find something good to utilize in your next exploration attempts, and get back to base. Slowly, you’ll learn where to find different resources and where you have to go later once you have more oxygen available. It is very much a trial and error kind of thing but I personally felt as if it was rather interesting and somewhat innovative… until I realised that Subnautica and other games did it before as well.

As far as the presentation goes, Breathedge delivers really well. The art style is rather pretty, outer space looks amazing, and eventually, you’ll unlock base-building and you’ll be able to add windows to stare out into the void… which is just beautiful when you play with the highest settings. The soundtrack features some interesting tracks… and some rather pretty tracks… all in all rather satisfying… if it weren’t for the AI thing that narrates your journey.

Now, I’ll have to mention that the developers label the game as an “ironic” space-survival game. See it as Subnautica… but less serious. You’ll find yourself in a setting that is truly difficult to handle with depleting resources and oxygen troubles… but the AI that accompanies you constantly mocks the game and tropes of the Survival genre and the gaming industry, resulting in the whole setting being rather laughable. The plot itself is somewhat presentable and fun… but the AI makes it feel less enjoyable by constantly cracking jokes at anything and everything. Breathedge opens with a message about how the game is just trying to entertain and how it doesn’t want to offend anyone… but… the jokes are hit or miss.

Most of the jokes that the AI tells you or that you encounter in the game are seriously offensive and inappropriate. There are some good ones here and there with references to Mass Effect or other games… There are jabs that the game takes at other games but generally speaking, you’ll find yourself trying to ignore the jokes as much as possible. The notice at the beginning references some real offensive and inappropriate jokes in the game that aren’t fun or anything. I’m alright with explicit or even some more offensive humour if it’s within certain borders (“haha, like East Germany in”… Okay, I’ll stop.) but this game is just trying too hard to be offensive and thinks that it’s alright to do so if you mention it at the beginning of the game. At one point, I found the game making fun of men that wear makeup while at another part the game makes fun of “libtards”… Generally, I didn’t enjoy a lot of the jokes because they were tasteless or silly. Crafting an accelerator powered by farts is something that grade-schoolers would laugh at but they are hardly the target audience of the game.

Apart from that the game also suffers from pacing. You’ll find yourself held hostage and interrogated by coffin-robots that want you to tell everything that happens but as time goes on, you completely forget about it, which is just… weird. The resource grinding, the durability of tools, the constant trips back and forth for oxygen, food and water,… there are so many things that slow you down considerably and it makes the game just feel very slow to the point where you lose interest in playing more of it. When you die, you’ll have to pray that there was an auto-save an hour ago or something, or you’ll quickly end up ragequitting because of all the progress you lost. Alas, I just save every few minutes in case something happens that makes me want to reload the save again… or in case I die… and all in all, I really wanna like the game but it’s just not that fun unless you only play it on and off…

And again, the game is trying so hard to be like other games but also not be like other games. I feel like they could have tried out more innovative ideas regarding food and oxygen or other mechanics of the game. Breathedge frankly only goes where other games have gone before and it doesn’t really try to do things differently or be crazy and creative around its systems. It’s only a small step for the gaming industry but a big step for this Indie Studio. I mean, RedRuins Softworks are a Russian studio whose first project, Breathedge, has gained a lot of

Hope you enjoyed this post. It’s a bummer that the game has so many shortcomings and I kind of enjoyed it after ignoring the jokes… but I just feel like I can’t get into it for too long unless I take some long breaks in-between sessions. Oh well…

Cheers!

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

Indietail – In Other Waters

It’s always a pleasure to see well-executed world-building in games and media. Reading up on lore entries, piecing together a world and exploring every nook and cranny for potential hints at what holds the world together at its core (yes, that’s a Faust reference). It’s a pleasure to see games create an immersive experience that enables exploration and narration in different ways than what we’re used to, and while “immersion” has become more of a buzzword as of late, I’m more than happy to have played through “In Other Waters“, game that made me understand better what immersion actually is.

Developer: Jump Over The Age
Publisher: Fellow Traveller
Genre: Non-Violent, Sci-Fi, Underwater, Adventure, Exploration, Simulation
Release Date: April 3rd, 2020
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC, Switch
Copy was purchased.

In “In Other Waters”, you play as an Artificial Intelligence (or A.I. for short) that is guiding a stranded xenobiologist through a beautiful and mysterious alien ocean. Explore the depths of Gliese 677Cc and help Ellery Vas uncover the secrets that lie beneath the secret. After being called to this planet by Minae Nomura, Ellery finds herself in an abandoned base in an ocean of secrets with only you around to keep her company.

“In Other Waters”‘s non-violent Sci-Fi story is portrayed through the eyes of Ellery/EV who’s trying to find and rescue her old partner, Minae. To do so, she needs you, an A.I., to guide her through the ocean. Alas, you need to scan the environment, find points of interest and navigate towards them. You are experiencing the game through the UI, rendering the world around you in a topographic visual style. You only see the UI, which is interesting as a design choice. I found it rather intriguing and really enjoyed this take on exploration. These overlays, buttons and features at first feel clunky and hard to navigate through but eventually, these menus actually feel somewhat homely and suddenly, you actually know how to move through the world swiftly and what to look out for.

As time goes on, you’ll encounter life on this distant planet. Creatures roam the area, plants inhabit different biomes and areas. A click on them reveals information on their behaviours and once you’ve scanned multiple specimens, Ellery will end up naming them and adding theses to the taxonomy as well as observations and quite possibly even a sketch of them. The game actively encourages you to collect samples of plants and other matters by tying them into the world-building or introducing gameplay mechanics around them. Some of the plant seeds can be used to open pathways while others can protect you from vicious currents.

Since you’re the UI of Ellery’s dive suit, you’ve also got to manage your oxygen and power reserves and keep an eye on them as you explore more and more. Your lifelines can be resupplied with plant matter and animal tissues, among other things. There are also other ways to create safe zones or help you out in the game and I found these interactions rather amazing as they added value to what you found out about the world and to how the world works. Frankly, you make an observation of the world around you and make use of that observation, which is a rather interesting take on gameplay, but I would have loved to see more of those in the game apart from the three or four that you have in there.

The immersion is further enhanced by the fact that different areas look differently in the UI. In the abyss of the oceans, there is little to no light, so your sensors can’t pick up on your surroundings that well, resulting in your UI being darker. In other areas, the colour of your UI changes completely due to rust and other materials covering your lamps and tinting them. It’s an interesting mechanic and with the bright colours that usually make up the world, I feel like these UI colour changes add a bit more to the world. It kind of makes sense, after all. You’re a program, a machine, after all, so you get influenced by that kind of stuff.

You are Ellery’s eyes and legs in this world, controlling every move and action. But you’re also Ellery’s friend and only companion in this somewhat depressing world. Frequently, Ellery talks about the observations she makes and her feelings on the events happening to you and her. Her discoveries are shared with you. In a way, it reminds me of Robinson Crusoe’s ball that acts as if his only friend for the early days before he eventually meets Friday. Talking to you keeps Ellery sane to the point where she asks you questions on speculations and theories, even if you’re just an AI. She asks for your input at times and you can answer with just a no or a yes… but while your options are limited in that way, it feels truly meaningful when you get a response from EV and when you actually can communicate with her and help her out from time to time. This aspect of the game felt really meaningful and awesome to me.

The gameplay mechanics range from research and exploration to these brief interactions with Ellery. You can read up on logs written by Ellery whenever you’re in your base or you can dive into the waters to collect samples and complete the taxonomy. In the lab, you’re able to analyse matters and unlock more entries for the taxonomy, too. Nothing’s ever forced and you can go on with the exploration and the story whenever you want to. This sort of pacing felt incredibly well-executed. If you don’t like the research, for instance, you can just go on with exploration or the story. Dying brings you back to a nearby checkpoint with no losses, which is quite nice. At times, I wanted to find out more about the story… at other times, I just wanted to roam the area more and find out about the world and see places I haven’t been to. When I died, I got set back a bit on the map but it didn’t feel too bad or frustrating, which is great as frustration would have ruined the experience for me.

All in all, I really enjoyed the experience and was able to play through “In Other Waters” after about eight hours. Depending on how much you explore and how long you spend in different areas, you may find yourself spending more time on this title. The soundtrack is amazing, the game is pretty, the story is interesting, and the world… is alive. Being the A.I. and seeing the world through that UI makes it all fit together and enables you to experience the game differently from how other games would have handled it and while I obviously haven’t been sucked into the game completely, I’d still call this “immersion”. I’m sure there is more to the term than just that but all in all, I can’t stress enough how great this game is and how “In Other Waters” actually is a great example of what “immersion” actually is, in contrast to the buzzword that big magazines throw around in their reviews on Cyberpunk 2077, for instance.

Alas, that’s my recommendation for today. I really hope you enjoyed this review. After writing this review, I checked what the negative reviews on Steam had to say about this game and overall, I just feel like people got into the game expecting something else entirely. The story is conveyed through text. The UI is the main feature. The world feels lively. I don’t get why people play a non-violent game about exploration only to complain about it being “actionless”, which is a bit of a bummer… Certainly, it’s not a game for everyone but if you tackle it in the right way, it can be certainly worthwhile.

Cheers!

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

Indietail – Kernmantle

So, a while ago, a developer sent me a request to review their game via my Steam Curator page. The developer in question developed Kernmantle and I kind of put off reviewing this game for quite a while since I’m not sure how to start or end it.

The problem with reviewing games is that I personally want to give every game a fair chance of getting played and reviewed. If a game seems to be abysmal or anything like that, I tell the developers in a kind e-mail that I think that it’s for the better if I do not review their game.

Developer: North of Earth
Publisher: North of Earth
Genre: Platformer, 2D, Physics-driven, Adventure
Release Date: October 5th, 2020
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC
Copy was sent by the developer.

In the case of Kernmantle, I accepted the game and decided to play it until I noticed that it’s absolutely not to my liking, despite what it seemed like. For anyone wondering, it’s a physics-based 2D Adventure where you climb up a 2000-meter-deep canyon and attempt to reach the top. It seemed interesting since it works with lighting in a pretty way while having a rather simple art style and I guess some mechanics behind it. Hence I gave it a chance.

At last, however, I noticed that that’s about it. Simple style, no story, pretty lighting, annoying soundtrack, abysmal controls.

A game that is all about climbing sounds like fun in a way… but the checkpoints are far away between each other and when you fall down once it’s more frustrating than Getting Over It or any other game, in my opinion. That’s not because of the depth that you’ve fallen or the lost progress… but for a different reason.

In Getting Over It, a game that I adore to be fair despite not being good at it, I know that I fell down because I didn’t get enough momentum or because I aimed at the wrong spot. It’s basically just me being at fault.

In Kernmantle, the controls are super janky and sometimes do not respond. So, while I’m holding onto the trigger of my controller, the grip just loosens it despite there still being plenty of stamina left in my hands. And that’s annoying when it happens once. It’s annoying when it happens twice. It’s frustrating at the third time and I stopped after the fourth time when I realised that it all was for nothing since there seems to be an invisible wall ahead of where I wanted to go with no other way to go from there.

At the same time, the game is incredibly condescending. The signs that are supposed to explain the game to you always end with something along the lines of “you moron” or “you idiot”, which is just rude. I feel like the developer is trying to be funny when they’re just insulting people that will refund this game afterwards anyways.

The character design and controls feel similar to Mount Your Friends but for whatever reason don’t work like that, although ripping off the controls would have been a lot better, in my opinion. A controller is required to play the game while Mount Your Friends at least allows Mouse+Keyboard: A feature that is much needed in games like these.

All in all, it’s a mediocre game that would be better with keyboard controls, akin to Getting Over It or Jump King. Paying ten bucks for this would be a waste. I can’t recommend Kernmantel, at all. Play Getting Over It or Jump King instead if you really want to.

Cheers.

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

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 was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken.