Indietail – Among Us

A while ago, I watched John Carpenter’s “The Thing” with a few people on Discord and enjoyed it quite a lot. The actors are doing an incredible job at conveying this feeling of anxiety and distrust they have… I mean, there is a thing that is possessing bodies, acting like them, and killing people there… But then I noticed that it’s really similar to a game I wanted to review: Among Us. Obviously, the similarities are there as Among Us even features a map inspired by the movie, Polis!

Alas, today we’re taking a look at Among Us by Innersloth, the popular party game of teamwork and betrayal.

Developer: Innersloth
Publisher: Innersloth
Genre: Space, Trustlike, Social Deduction, Social Deception, Multiplayer
Release Date: November 16th, 2018
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC, iOs, Android
Copy was purchased.

Among Us’ premise is simple. There are four to ten people on one of the three maps with one to two Imposters among them (roll credits!). The crewmates’ job is to finish the tasks to ensure victory. Meanwhile, the Imposters have to try and deceive everyone into thinking that they’re crewmates while also killing off people. To do so, they can kill people, vent into places, lock doors, and sabotage.

“Oh, hi, Skully!”

The main portion of the game, however, is social deception. Just like with other social deception games or trust-likes, as someone called them, you try to gaslight, manipulate, and deceive people. You want people to trust you so that you don’t get voted out. When a body is found, people will report it. The people near the body or whoever’s not accounted for is obviously the Imposter. Once a meeting is called on emergencies or when a body was found, everyone has time to discuss the matter, clarify where everyone was, deceive, or do whatever to prove that you’re innocent. Just like in other games, the crewmates then decide to vote someone out while hoping that that person is indeed the Imposter.

Unless you play with the proximity chat mod, you’re not allowed to speak during the actual rounds. When you die, you stay quiet. Meanwhile, you can only talk during the meetings. The Proximity Chat Mod allows you to talk to nearby people, which can be quite fun. There are also other additions to the game that can help you discover a playstyle you and your friends like.

All of this may sound complicated but you get the hang of it once you play a round or two. Be it at small gatherings, with friends or online with random people, you’ll be able to play it without much trouble.

Close enough to not be sus.

The more complicated bits are tactics like marinating* people (*marinating means that you’re “sticking around to give them a sense of comfort and trust when near you”) or the faking of tasks. While it is fun for the first few times that you play the game, it can be also rather taxing as you lie and deceive your friends only to backstab them in the end. At times you trick people into believing you while you gaslight others and accuse them, falsely, of being the Imposter even though you did it.

So, do I like a game like that? Not really. I don’t feel too good about it, so I can’t really play too many rounds at a time and I get tired of it quite fast and leave early most of the time. For a game that is available for free on the mobile versions (both Android and iOs), you can get a lot of entertainment out of it. The low cost of four bucks on Steam also helps with having access to it and inviting friends to play it with you. I easily got thirty hours of entertainment out of it, which is absolutely worth it, although that was partly due to alternate rulesets as well.

In Among Us, you’re able to customize the game’s rules to fit your needs as well. Want to make the game more challenging? Turn off confirmed ejects and visible tasks. Want to make the games shorter? Lower the tasks and the kill cooldown. Want to play Hide n Seek? Change the Vision settings for crewmates and imposters to fit that playstyle. In the end, it allows you to have a pleasant experience no matter who you are, as long as you have the right people.

Just the routine check up in the medbay I guess.

The online portion of the game sucks, however. Lobbies are either toxic with people having “bad words” in their names and these randoms just randomly voting you out. The absence of voice chat makes it hard for you to defend yourself, especially since the majority of these random peoples in public lobbies seem to be unable to write full sentences if at all. It’s hard to have fun in public lobbies, in my opinion, frankly because the game got so popular that a lot of kids ended up getting into it. Alas, I’d recommend private games.

Even with private lobbies, however, the game’s popularity is harming the game more than it helps. I’m sure the developers are aware of this but at times it can be rather hard to get into games, even when they’re private, as there are times when the server is just full with too many people logging into the game.

Apart from that, I would love it if you were able to change the number of Imposters as well as the map in the lobby-settings. If you want to change the map, you’ll have to quit and enter a new lobby. If you take too long to decide, everyone gets kicked. With a lot of settings being in the lobby, I don’t get why the map, the number of crewmates and the number of Imposters are only accessible in the pre-lobby-settings.

But at the end of the day, I end up excusing those small issues as it is a rather cheap game that can be played with people anywhere and everywhere.

Purple just claimed that white killed someone in this public lobby I joined. Everyone voted white. White wasn’t it. I called an emergency and voted purple. We won. I got banned from that lobby because I’m making sense. Fun.

Lately, I’ve enjoyed the Hide n Seek ruleset where Imposters see nothing while Crewmates see everything. At the beginning of the round, the Imposter announces that they’re “it” and they’ll count down to zero. The Imposter has to “find” people (aka kill them) while the Crewmates try to avoid the Imposter at all cost while finishing their tasks. Another ruleset that I really liked is “Chaos” where you’re allowed to talk whenever and where you can’t talk at all during the meetings. Vote time is decreased to 15 seconds with no discussion time. You have to vote people or else you’ll get voted off next. Once the meeting is over, everyone tries to finish their tasks while keeping quiet about previous rounds. As the name suggests, that’s really chaotic, especially as anyone that reports the body sounds suspicious when they can’t defend themselves.

In the end, it’s a fun game with an adorable art style, gruesome kill animations, an okay soundtrack but a lot of value for the little money you spent, if at all. Due to crossplay, you can enjoy the game with your friends on Steam, iOs, and Android without any issues, allowing a lot of people to join in. In the same manner, you can try and alter all of the rules, resulting in a pleasant experience that can be customised to fit your needs. Hence, the recommendation.

Although, I’d say that you should leave the game be a game. If you end up taking the gaslighting and everything into the Real Life, you may end up destroying friendships. Oh well,…

Cheers!

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

Indietail – Drake Hollow

After my post about Drake Hollow and why I’m so excited and after the interview we did with TMF’s Forrest Dowling,… It finally is time for my review on Drake Hollow. Welcome to yet another Indietail! And I’m excited about this one!

Developer: The Molasses Flood
Publisher: The Molasses Flood
Genre: Colony Sim, Base Building, Exploration, Co-Op, Open World
Release Date: October 1st, 2020
Reviewed on: PC (solo)
Available on: PC, Xbox One
Copy was purchased.

Drake Hollow is an action village-building game that you can play solo or with your friends. After a breakup, the protagonist is seen dwelling on a rock before a speaking crow approaches them and invites them into a new world where they are needed. Welcome to the Hollow where the Drakes are threatened by various creatures and where familiars roam the lands searching for people like you that can help the Drakes. The Drakes are small little creatures that need food, water and entertainment. They can literally die of boredom as the game emphasizes on multiple occasions. You build your small little village, go out on explorations and defend against the various enemies found in the game.

This gameplay loop of exploring, building and looting is the main aspect of the game. It keeps the game fresh and prevents it from becoming stale. As you find loot, you’re able to craft items, build defence and utility structures, take care of the Drakes and eventually, you’ll get a ten-minute countdown to the next raid that is coming in and needs defending. The Drakes help the player by being absolutely adorable and bringing in some life into the world… and they also gift you items and provide you with various buffs that help you survive, improve your combat capabilities, or influence your efficiency in various regards.

Speaking of combat, it is all relatively simple. You have a melee and a ranged attack on the mouse buttons. You’re able to find weapons and ammunition by looting old buildings and other islands. The fun thing is that anything can and will be a weapon: From a coat rack to a tennis bat to a rake or a weed whacker. I enjoyed finding fun and interesting weapons that could be categorized into heavy and light weapons. The aiming with the ranged weapons felt quite nice and while melee combat isn’t the most complicated, I noticed that you can cancel some of the animations and get more DPS in than usual if you put in some practice. Overall, I enjoyed the combat experience a ton! Especially stuff like jump attacks, combos and the right dodge timing can be more than satisfying – and then different enemy types feature different move sets and counters of sorts.

Where the game really shines though is the exploration part. A purple-ish mist known as the Aether envelops the world of Drake Hollow that damages the player. The world consists of mostly islands that aren’t connected at all. Hence, you’ll have to use craftable crystals to make yourself immune to the mist for a bit to get to the next islands. 

As time goes on, you’ll need other means of travelling where my highlight comes in: Waypoints. You place them down and connect them to supply trucks (with resources that you cannot access in any other way). Once two or more are linked up, you have a rail system of sorts where you grind your way rather speedily from one island to the next. I really enjoyed this part as I always wanted to explore more but then got disrupted by incoming raids, full inventories or dying drakes. 

Drakes tend to “die” of a lot of things. As you progress, you’ll have to take care of the various needs and pay attention to how much water, food and entertainment you produce. Resources around you deplete eventually, so you need to move on to the next set of islands, which is similar to The Flame In The Flood where you move your base/boat from one island to the next with a point-of-no-return mechanic. 

As you move on to the next set of islands, you get to explore and loot more without having to fear about your old buildings getting lost. The Drakes just pack up your base and take it with you to the next set of islands. The next set of islands plays in a different season with different mechanics. In summer, your water production may suffer a lot due to droughts. In Winter you have to build radiators and other buildings to thaw out your Drakes and production facilities. I found these mechanics quite neat but mostly, I loved how the islands change. The usually lush trees turn pink and red and white and lose leaves and the world is covered in a layer of snow when you encounter winter. The way you have to change your playstyle based on the seasons is a very interesting mechanic and I really enjoyed that.

Stronger enemies mean more damage and more danger. What happens when you die? Do you lose any progress when you die? No, not at all. You can revive at your camp and lose some weapon durability but you do not lose any progress. Your drakes don’t really “die”. You can revive them on the neighbouring island, although you will have to nurture them again. You can spirit walk to your dead body and resurrect it there as well. 

It comes to no surprise that I’m loving the overall presentation. I was the most hyped about the Drakes and was not disappointed at all when I saw their animations and behaviours. Follow the Drakes as they roam your small village, eat food, dance on the disco floor, go to sleep or burrow themselves when they get stuck somewhere. The world itself feels lively and features this vibrant style that changes with the seasons and is always stunning to look at. The Drakes have some great interactions with enemies and the player. The soundtrack is at times enigmatic and mysterious, at times adventurous! Overall, I’m loving the presentation, the soundtrack and the art style and I was quite satisfied with how the game turned out in the end.

And yes, of course, there are some issues here and there. When I started playing, the end-game was somewhat frustrating with resources running out, Drakes dying and enemies getting stronger while you felt a bit too weak… but that was mostly my fault as I moved on too fast or as I didn’t level my camp and didn’t unlock enough new facilities or I didn’t manage my camp properly. There are certain issues in the late game that can feel a bit overwhelming in solo, but I’m sure that you’ll do just fine if you play with up to four friends – with someone exploring and people defending and someone tending to the Drakes. For people that didn’t want to end their journey, the “The Molasses Flood” team added an endless mode (Sandbox) without a story but with a raised max camp level, new cosmetics and higher camp levels. The game will get more updates. They just added in filters for the depot to allow to view items by type as well as some other QOL changes.

In the end, the only thing that could be criticised would be the end-game that feels a tad frustrating or rather overwhelming as a solo player. The gameplay loop is satisfying, the combat feels nice, the Drakes are absolutely adorable, and overall, I’m loving this game so far and can’t wait to meddle with sandbox mode and to play it with friends eventually!

You can currently get the game on Xbox Game Pass and Steam. Cross-Saving between Win10 and XboxOne is available and there is Cross-Play available for the Windows Store, the Xbox One and the Game Pass versions of the game… but it doesn’t work for the Steam version as there is no native support for invites or hosting across these networks. The game keeps getting updated and I can highly recommend it! Check it out over here or on Game Pass, the Windows Store or wherever! 

As a side note:
You’re able to grab Drake Hollow on Steam with a 10% launch discount until the 8th of October! If you already own TMF’s “The Flame In The Flood” you also get an additional 15% off, resulting in a 25% discount on the game!

Cheers!

I’m excited about “Drake Hollow” by The Molasses Flood

It’s sadly not part of the Steam Game Festival but Drake Hollow is definitely something to look out for. I’m really excited about the game – and not only due it being made by the dev behind The Flame In The Flood! The Molasses Flood’s second game can best be described as a Base-Building Action-Survival-Game. 

What is Drake Hollow about?

Well, in the blighted world of The Hollow, you’ve got to defend the small vegetable folk known as the Drake from the deadly feral beasts that are threatening to attack them! The Drake can’t really take care of themselves, so you’ve got to provide them with gardens, wells, and entertainment as well as defences against the previously mentioned terrors. The Drake can literally die of boredom, so they need your attention and help in order to survive – in return, they provide you with buffs that are helpful in your quest of Survival!

Take back The Hollow as you strive for the perfect village! Build solar panels and other important machines to progress! Play with friends and hold your ground together against the imminent danger, craft weapons and gear, pack your things and migrate from place to place, from season to season. Do what it takes to live on!

I really have been excited about this game for ages now. We’ve reviewed The Flame In The Flood about a year ago, so everyone should know what The Molasses Flood is capable of (the studio, not the event). 

What do I expect from this game?

  • First up, the soundtrack is probably going to be amazing.
    The Flame In The Flood featured a lovely, adventurous soundtrack made by Chuck Ragan, and I can’t imagine what they are going to come up with for the soundtrack of this game. I’d expect maybe some more mysterious and enigmatic tunes, similar to the Dungeon of the Endless soundtrack, as well as some road trip vibes with other tracks for when you’re exploring, similar to Amarante Music. 
  • Secondly, the peaceful aspects are going to be super wholesome.
    Taking care of these little fellows is going to be great. Just imagine all the cute little noises and dances they might make. I’m in love with Dufflur, the Drake that can be seen in the Steam Store Page. It’s just adorable, featuring a very lovely colour and some insanely pretty eyes!
  • Thirdly, Co-Op is going to be great when I find the right people to play this with – and I already have some in mind!
    I’d imagine that the resource gathering and base-building get infinite times better with friends, probably, just like it’s so much better to play games like Satisfactory or Ark with friends. 
  • Fourth, the combat is going to be intense and exciting!
    A change of pace is always good, so the resource scavenging, base building, and Drake-caretaking are going to be rather relaxed and fun to play around while combatting the “raids” will result in your heart rate spiking, in a good way of course. I wanna feel that thrill and excitement when facing off against these eldritch-looking monsters!
  • And at last, exploration:
    There are going to be a lot of different regions and seasons with each region being over a square mile big! From what I’ve gathered, there are landmarks to explore and, well, with every passing season there is going to be dynamically generated and populated areas, so you’ll always have places to go and spaces to loot, I’d imagine. 

So, in essence, I’m hyped. I’ve been hyped for ages but with the game coming out on July 17th, 2020, I’m getting excited again. I probably won’t be able to play it until after the 22nd, though, as I’ve got some exams on that day, but regardless of that, this is going to be great.

So, yeah, this is my post on Drake Hollow. We’re going to write a review on this game after the release so that you can see if my hype was justified, and we soon will publish an interview with one of the lead devs on the game, so stay tuned for that!

Be sure to wishlist and follow it on Steam, if you’re interested! You may also be interested in checking out the website! Cheers!

Looking out for “Bake ‘n Switch”

Just the other day, I showed Ms Magi some games, including the demo of Streamline Games’ “Bake ‘n Switch”. She found the style adorable and since it’s a co-op game, I thought it might be a good time to try it out and see what’s baking!

The answer to that is bread. Lots of it! It’s super adorable!

Developer: Streamline Games
Publisher: Streamline Media Group
Release date: Summer 2020
Genres: (Couch) Co-Op, Baking, Casual, Indie

The story? We need to sacrifice adorable living dough creatures to the Guardians of Dough. We need to merge, punch and bake the Doughs before time runs out, resulting in a hectic experience akin to a mix of Overcooked and Pummel Party!

Ms Magi is not much of a gamer herself, but she really did enjoy herself throwing and stacking those buns together, so that was a lot of fun. And it gets incredibly hectic and fun as you’ve got to defend the a-dough-able creatures from slimy monsters that want to steal the yeast! Alas, you have to punch them until they’re slimy dead monsters to protect your buns, hun.

I really liked this game. It seems like a lot of fun, especially with the different characters being so adorable and everything looking so cute and bright and vibrant!

The levels also tend to get rather challenging over time, so you need to communicate in Co-Op. Since Ms Magi’s not much of a gamer we didn’t try out PvP – but I’m sure it’s fun, too, to throw buns at your friends and punch them to death.

But then again, games like these that take 2-4 players to play only work with others and alas can be a bit annoying to deal with when you have no friends to play with, so I guess that’s probably a bit of a drawback here.

Overall, a really fun demo as well. I’ll wishlist this for sure! You may want to do it, too?

Cheers!