Looking forward to Lamentum

Lamentum is a pixel-art survival horror game set in New England in the mid-nineteenth century. I played the demo of it and honestly, I really liked the vibes that I got from it. Here’s why I enjoyed it so much!

Developer: Obscure Tales
Publisher: Another Indie
Release Date: 2021
Genres: 2D, Indie, Survival, Horror, Action Adventure, Lovecraftian

After no conventional method was able to cure Alissa’s deadly disease, the young aristocrat Victor Hartwell turns to unconventional methods and Grau Hill Mansion’s Earl, Edmond Steinrot, to find a treatment for his beloved wife. In Lamentum, we guide Hartwell in his desperate journey but nobody could have fathomed what unimaginable horrors were waiting for us over there. This is a story of love, sacrifice, and sacred otherworldy entities.

Lamentum takes inspiration from classic survival horror games like Resident Evil and Silent Hill along with cosmic horror masterpieces, like the Cthulhu mythos and other works by Lovecraft.

Obscure Tales is very much able to capture what makes the Lovecraftian horror stories so great: The fear of the unknown and the fear of the things that mankind shouldn’t have known. 

Terrible, terrifying creatures are lurking in the shadows while the Mansion has changed over one night. The paintings and statues have transformed into a terrible and grotesque state… and worst of all, there is just no trace left of Alissa!

That’s where the story really picks up. A note in the room that we wake up in reveals that Alissa made her way into the Earl’s office but the door’s locked from the inside and we don’t have any other way in. Hence, we have to go deeper and search other rooms for clues and useful items. In one room, we find a small box. In another, we find some mysterious runes. Alas, there’s a room with a sword but there is something off about it as well. It all feels like one big puzzle where you have to figure out how different pieces fit together and how you’re able to combine different items or use certain items.

The controls feel quite good, although I prefer the controller over the keyboard controls. When I found a gun, I had to get used to the aiming and the fact that you need to reload after every single shot, despite enemies moving towards you, which makes sense since mid-nineteenth century weapons weren’t automated or anything like that. Combat usually consists of figuring out the enemy patterns and kiting them while landing a hit or two in between their attack phases. With only one enemy or two, in the beginning, this can be rather easily done but over time, more and more enemies show up, so you really have to wage whether or not it’s worth it to risk damage or if you want to move past them. Generally, I’ve been trying to sneak past enemies as healing items and ink (to save the game) are rare in the game and as I wanted to try a more cautious approach, but if you’re good at kiting enemies, then you certainly can go for a more action-heavy approach!

The game allows you to assign three items to slots so that you can use them at any given time with just one button-press. Otherwise, you’ll have to move into the inventory and equip items manually, which can be a bit annoying at first as you’re still figuring out what you exactly need, but you’ll get used to it eventually. Generally, I kept my weapons in those slots as well as the lamp that I found somewhere but you can use them however you like. The inventory is limited to nine spaces but there are storage crates that share their inventory where you can put in a lot more items. Alas, you’ll have to manage your inventory space and be careful as to what you can bring with you and what you cannot. If you come across an item that you want to take but your inventory is full, you’ll obviously have to go back to a storage trunk and remove some of your items and go back to said room, if you can find it. I found that mechanic quite intriguing as a lot of the games I played tend to give you tons of inventory space or even inventory upgrades at the beginning, making the game a bit easier. 

Taking multiple trips back and forth is something that I tried to avoid as much as possible but due to the inventory situation, I sometimes had to do exactly that. The mansion is huge and despite having a map, it is actually quite easy to get lost in it, especially with all the doors that aren’t all accessible. And with enemies spawning in some rooms as you travel through them, multiple trips bear a lot of risks. This added a bit of difficulty to the game as I needed certain items for puzzles, such as keys and shards, but also didn’t know if I’ll need the runes and teeth in upcoming rooms. 

When you figure stuff out, you get that short moment of satisfaction that I really enjoyed in this game. When you’re stuck, however, it can be a bit frustrating but the game never really leaves you clueless. Certain doors are closed, so you have to search for something to do in the accessible rooms and hallways.

At last, I’d like to say that the art style is wonderfully dark and detailed. The Top-Down-ish view highlights the art style as you get to see a lot of the big rooms and small details that they feature. The animations are fluid and unique for all of the different enemy types and I love to see the different cut scenes in the game that depicted the horrors of the nightmare that we’ve found ourselves in. The dark and gory beauty of the game gets complimented by the beautiful and ominous music that switches from enigmatic and sad sounds to darker and creepier tunes. 

The full game will feature an array of 19th Century Melee and Ranged weaponry that isn’t just limited to the pistol, the knive and the sword found in the demo. Apart from that it will also include branching paths and multiple endings on top of “a terrifying plot for a mature audience”.

If you’re looking for a Horror Game to play, then I’d definitely recommend checking out Lamentum’s Demo over here. The game fully releases in 2021 but I really enjoyed the demo that is actually rather long for a demo. In case you want to get notified when it launches or in case you want to support Obscure Tales already, you should definitely wishlist the game on Steam. Personally, I’m really excited about this title, despite being more of a scaredy-cat. 

Either way, that’s it for the post. I meant to write this post for a long time already but ended up not really being able to do so, due to university stuff, exams, paperwork, family stuff, and all of the things that stop you from doing what you really want. When I got to write it, I really enjoyed the process. The beginning part of this post was a bit hard to work out without spoiling anything but I think I did a pretty good job at it (feedback appreciated!).

This post wasn’t meant to be a review, especially as this is a demo but in the end, it offered a lot of entertainment, so the post turned out a lot longer than originally planned. Generally, I try to just go with my first impressions and thoughts on games and their systems in these types of posts and since I didn’t play the full game just yet, there’s obviously no telling what the endgame looks like or future bosses or how the story unravels, and I can’t quite judge the whole of the game solely based on the beginning. Alas, take this post with a grain of salt until I’m able to write an actual review on the game. I hope you enjoyed my thoughts on the demo and I hope that you’re checking out the game yourself.

Again, I highly recommend it!

Cheers!

Steam Game Festival: Autumn Edition – Part 1

The Steam Game Festival is here! 

This time it’s the Autumn Edition, so strap on for a bunch of demos that I found intriguing! All in one post! Kind of! As you can see by the title of the post, there is going to be a second part and potentially a third part about the Steam Game Festival (if I end up finding even more demos to play), so uh… enjoy!

First up, I’d like to say that the Steam Game Festival is available until October 13th, 10 AM PDT! So, if you want to check out any of these or other game demos, be sure to grab them while they’re here! You can also check out the Steam Game Festival page on Steam to see some live streams, dev talks and other interesting things, available for a limited time!

So, while we did cover a whole bunch of games in a whole bunch of solo-posts in the past about the Steam Game Festival, I wanted to try something different and post about them while I’ve played all of them and summarise my thoughts a bit more precisely. The problem with the way I handled it last time was that a lot of the posts about the games came out AFTER the Steam Game Festival was over, resulting in you potentially not having played some of the titles. This time around, I heard about it a lot earlier and got to play the demos a lot earlier as well, resulting in me being able to work on this post *on time*. Hence, you’ll get a long post about the games that I played and that seemed interesting… and some recommendations!

Natural Instincts

Natural Instincts is a God-Sim where you manipulate animals into moving to different places, eating, drinking, mating, and essentially, living. You can do your best to protect the environment and save it from harm… or you’re just a normal human who’s effectively ruining the environment since forever and doesn’t give a fuck about nature. 

The demo only lets you play in and observe the European Forest where you get to see and influence Boars, Rabbits, Deers, Wolves and Bears. There are lush forests, long rivers, some small lakes and only limited resources available and overall, I enjoyed the experience there. Just observing these rabbits has been wonderful although I would have hoped for more quality settings since my PC can handle a lot more and since I would have loved to see the animals up close! Apart from that, it looks solid so far, although I’d love to have more information available on the screen as well as potentially some options to influence the climate, let stuff grow or let rabbits take over the world and whatever. 

The full game will feature the European Forest alongside the Arctic, Savannah, Pacific Ocean, Tropical Forest, and the Gulf of Mexico, so there is a variety of places to observe and to meddle in. You can find the game over here where DreamStorm Studios has yet to announce a release date.

Carto

Honestly, this was the title that I’m looking forward to the most. It’s an insanely adorable 2D Puzzle-Adventure where you find card pieces and piece them together to shape the world around you. By talking to people and interacting with different landmarks in the world, you get hints that tell you how to find new landmarks and people in the world. 

In one instance a fisherman got lost and only remembered that his house was on the West. It’s our task to guide him home, so we just quickly pop into the Card-Screen (Tab) and move his tile to the West to then unlock his house on the map tile. Obviously, we can still move everything around but we have to be careful as not all pieces fit together. There are different biomes, quest lines (sorta?) and a whole bunch of exploration fun – all tied up in a very cute and charming art style, an adorable soundtrack and an interesting mechanic about world-alteration and finding your family. 

I’m wish-listing this game for sure and I highly recommend checking out the short but charming demo for yourself over here! Sunhead Games’ title comes out on October 27th, so not too long until you get to piece together more of this wholesome game! 

Garden Story

Speaking of cute games, there’s also Garden Story! It’s amazingly cute and looked like just the right game for me in these times. You play as Concord, the youngest grape in “The Grove”, and as the newly-appointed Guardian, it’s your job to help restore the island!

But since that’s a huge task for a young grape like you, you’ve got to rely on your friends, consisting of shrooms, frogs and other fruits! The demo lets you explore the first part of the game a little bit and explains the basic mechanics with combat, loot and items. There are a lot of different characters and overall, I was a bit overwhelmed at first but as time went on, I kind of got the gist of it. We have to cultivate our home, foster the community, explore the world, fight the “Rot” and solve puzzles – and we have to do all of that to connect the different towns and repair old ties! Hooray! While I felt as if I got thrown into cold water at first, I actually learned to swim quite fast and really enjoyed my short stay in this vibrant world.

Picogram’s title is going to come out at some point in 2021, so be sure to play the demo yourself and wishlist the game right here

Calico

And since I already covered two cute titles, why not also talk about Calico? Well, I’d like to talk about this game but… I’m confused. 

You essentially are tasked with rebuilding the town’s cat café. The demo, however, runs super poorly, gives you little to no tutorial information and is full of bugs. At one point, I wanted to decorate a cake (as I had to, mostly) and the whole world got coloured weirdly, resulting in some trippy experience for me where I had to restart the demo. This happened a few times, so I then just decided to explore the seemingly hand-drawn world and play with kitties… but the controls feel janky and overall, my experience with this demo was more than frustrating. Personally, this game should be a good pick for me as it combines cats, a cutesie art style, and managing your own café. I like the way the world looks and the idea behind it but the execution is more than lacking and while the demo isn’t the full game… I would have wanted to play a more polished version of the demo to actually want to play the full game. 

More than anything, I really wanted to play with cats in this game and bake cakes and try out different features but it feels very Early Access to me. Bugs, janky controls, crashes, and the fact that there are no sound effects whatsoever (apart from the same loop of the same song) is just a giant turn-off, in my opinion. Idk, if you wanna check the game out for yourself, click here… and if not, then don’t. 

…there was no trailer for this one available…

Defenders of the Camp

With Defenders of the Camp, I thought that we had a sort of promising candidate at our hands. The idea behind leading a party of adventurers into forests, deserts and other places isn’t new or innovative but I thought that its style looked quite cool and expected a bit more. 

Just like with Calico, however, this is a barely playable demo. DotC seems to be a prototype where you can check out the base characters: A mage, a knight and a priest. Each with their own distinct roles: DPS, Tank, Support. They each have different skills but it all felt quite janky. At one time, my priest pulled a Leeroy Jenkins on me and charged into goblins who then slew the priest. My knight walked into a wall and got stuck so that the goblins were able to fight them off. Honestly, though, my mage did enough damage to mess everyone up, so I didn’t really think about it too much. Who needs a tank anyways? Who cares about the Support anyways?

But as time went on, and as I wanted to progress, I clicked on the different menus only to see that nothing’s really implemented. The skill tree menu is there but it’s not in the demo/prototype and while the stats are great and all… you have no way of moving faster. Alas, try it out if you wanna but personally, I found it frustrating to move at a snail’s pace, especially when you wanna kite enemies or when you want to actually enjoy the gameplay. 

Ecosystem

Just like Natural Instincts, Ecosystem tasks the player with taking care of a natural environment, with the difference that you actually create it yourself and observe the creatures as they evolve over time. 

You generate some terrain, add mountains, hills, caves and other formations into the map, then you add plants and animals and… after the spores grow up, you get your first few species! Play GOD as you decide who dies and who lives! You can boost some creatures using points and overall, you strive to protect the environment you created and to see what crazy creatures are born. The strongest and fastest survive and reproduce while others with their own mutations and evolutionary steps end up dying. You can also edit the creatures yourself and see how they fare.

Originally, I really liked the idea but thought that it may be a bit frustrating to play as your favourite creatures may not fair so well while your fewer favourite creatures end up triumphing… but that fear wasn’t justified at all. I really enjoyed meddling with all of these monstrosities, creating long predators and growing caves and other formations to make plant life possible. In the end, I had a blast and you should definitely check it out yourself!

Rawmen

Rawmen is another title that I tried out and honestly, it’s a lot of fun. 

Rawmen could best be described as a fast-paced Arena-Shooter where you fight other players using kitchen utensils and ingredients. There are a lot of fun items as well as a lot of puns in the game. The different game modes seem entertaining but what’s bothering me is that you queue up for a random game mode but during the queue time you get to see what mode it is. So, if you don’t like climbing a tower by bombing yourself to the top using exploding tomatoes… then you just leave the queue and queue up again. Especially as it’s a demo, it’s a bit rough to find players to play with. Hence, while it can be fun when you get into a game, it’s a bit rough when you have to wait for a while or when people decide to just leave the game when they start losing.

Overall, though, it’s a lot of fun. Especially as you get to customize your character a fair bit, play with different items in different modes and it’s just hilarious in its own way. You can find the game over here

A lot of demos this time around…

…and we’re still not done with them. The problem with the Steam Game Festival is that just like in Summer, there are way too many titles to play. Alas, I’ve made one post now and I’ll play more demos later and publish a second post on this season’s Steam Game Festival. I hope you enjoyed this post and be sure to recommend some demos to me as well. As for Part 2, I’d like to take a look at a bunch of titles, including Undungeon, Ponpu, Neurodeck, Monster Prom 2, F.I.S.T., Xuan-Yuan Sword VII, Webbed, Superliminal, Castle Flippers, Ruin Raiders and maybe I’ll make yet another post about Ring of Pain! There are a bunch of other demos that I wanted to play but haven’t downloaded yet… but those will have to wait until I’m done with these posts. Time’s limited and the Steam Game Festival is over soon, so be sure to check at least some of them out!

To keep up-to-date with all of my posts on the Steam Game Festival, you can visit this link here where you can find all posts with the “Steam Game Festival” tag! So, check out the other posts, if you want to!

Anyways, stay healthy! Happy Gaming!

Cheers!

Looking forward to Partisans 1941

Today, on the Lookout Post, we’re taking a look at an up-and-coming game developed by Alter Games and published by Daedalic Entertainment called Partisans 1941. In Partisans 1941, you explore WWII from the side of the Polish partisans – an occupation resistance movement on the Eastern Front.

In this game, you discover how the story of Captain Zorin and his comrades unfold, how they battle the Nazi invaders and how they help the people while struggling to survive from day to day. While the story and its characters are purely fictional, the setting is very real and doesn’t always get explored in games, which is why I found this game so alluring.

To write this post, I played the Demo available on Steam. Check it out yourself to get your own opinions of it. The game comes out on October 14th, so be sure to wishlist it!

As Commander Zorin, you escape the enemy – known as the “Polizei” – and try to flee with your comrades. You have to sneak away from enemy soldiers, find loot and weapons, equip yourself and use your wits against the enemy to make sure that everyone makes it out alive. 

Gameplay-wise, Partisans 1941 combines Real-Time-Tactics with Stealth mechanics, allowing you to sneak around and set up ambushes. Of course, you can also just storm the castle and try getting them that way but more often than not, you’re at a disadvantage on top of them being better equipped than you. 

I really enjoyed being stealthy and sneaking around, spectating and observing the enemies movements and their paths. Right-clicking on enemies shows their vision cones. Pressing Alt allows you to see doors, loot, and places to hide in. You can silently kill enemies, drag their bodies away and hide them in the bushes before making your way through levels, and it’s actually quite well done. It doesn’t feel slow or too easy at any given time. While still giving you a hand and explaining things to you, the first few levels left me impressed at how challenging the game can get and how nice it feels to make it without casualties. 

Each character features their own skill tree with abilities and passive bonuses that improve their ability to wield certain weapons or give them better chances of survival overall. Zorin’s able to throw knives, for instance, making for an easy stealth kill at times, although you’ll have to retrieve your knife afterwards. 

The demo lasts about 90 minutes (at least, in my case) and features the first few levels. I noticed no bugs yet and was impressed with the quality of the demo. I can’t wait for the full-release. The music and visuals have been really nice and overall, I really did enjoy the voice acting and how the game felt. 

The full game is going to contain 20 unique mission scenarios, 8 different characters with unique skills, a large variety of weapons, armaments and equipment, on top of a moral system, side missions, errands and the resistance base. The latter being used for preparations, crafting and treatment but also to help your allies survive. Judging from press screenshots, you’ll be able to accumulate a vast variety of weapons on top of preparing your allies according to different needs.

Overall, Partisans 1941 seems to be a promising title. 

Cheers!

Looking forward to “Grounded”

If you’ve seen “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids”, “The Ant Bully”, or “Antz”, you might like the following title. In Obsidian Entertainment’s “Grounded” you’re playing as one of four kids, shrunk to the size of insects and other small critters. You get to roam a lawn, exploring vast grass-steam forests while scavenging and foraging for resources to survive the dangers that come with not being normal-sized.

The world is beautiful if you look close enough – and well, with your size, you can get close to everything. Ants are as big as you while stink beetles and ladybugs are terrifyingly big! Of course, there are also small critters like mites that you can hunt down for food and… well… as the game tells you in the title screen, there are also spiders. But fear not, fellow arachnophobes, for there is an arachnophobia mode in this game that lets you turn those horrific and vile creatures into weird bobbly balls floating in the air. This also affects their creepy sounds, resulting in a pleasant experience even when you encounter them.

I constantly caught myself staring into the beautiful areas around you – I mean, when if not now do we get to see the world from this perspective?

Houses and benches are huge! We even get to explore “landmarks” such as some weird shrinking machine and soda cans. Resources seem to be rather lush and alas, we gather pebbles and sprigs, mushrooms and clover, so that we can get started with some simple tools for the beginning.

While you chop down trees in other games, you’ve got to chop down the grass, using an actual axe. Quite bizarre in a way but it does make sense. And well, despite stink beetles, spiders and mites wanting to kill you, there are also a bunch of friendly fellows around like ladybugs and ants.

I love ants. The ants in this game look incredibly cute, constantly scavenging for food, just like us, or carrying around sticks and pebbles. “In theory”, I thought… “In theory, I could attack them. I’ve got the spear and all of that already, after all!” – But I didn’t dare to attack such cute little fellows, mostly since I’m afraid that they might gang up on me after sending out their threat pheromones.

There seems to be a full-fledged story available to the game once it comes out but inside of the demo I was able to play for more than half an hour – and the story-part reached until we fixed the (presumably) shrink-reversal-machine that Spoilers blew up on us shortly after we “fixed” it.

Materials can be analyzed for recipes inside of the analyzer that is set near our research globe. Food can be cooked at a roasting spit and, in theory, we can even build a base of sorts with walls, doors and floors!

Honestly, I’m really excited about this game, especially since it does tickle that one itch that I have for base-building survival games! Especially as it also features unconventional aspects to survival. You’ve got to find water drops on grass stems to not dehydrate, for instance, which is a nice touch!

Multiplayer is also something that is going to be included in the full game, so this might get really cool really soon. Grounded gets released in Early Access on July 28th, 2020. It’s by Obsidian Entertainment, so it’s bound to be good, and well, the game so far has been looking great already, especially as this is only a demo!

The only thing that I’d wish for would be an option to turn the spiders into some cute beetles or something, as even the bobbly heads are a little bit triggering to me. I’d also love it if you could turn their sounds into something else that is less creepy. But maybe that’s just my arachnophobia speaking…

Cheers!

What is Mortal Shell?

Mortal Shell is a deep action-RPG that tests your sanity and resilience in a shattered world. Your adversaries spare no mercy, with survival demanding superior awareness, precision, and instincts. Possess lost warriors, track down hidden sanctums of the devout, and face formidable foes. 

And well,… the Beta/Demo of it arrived not too long ago and it’s still live until the 10th of July! You can grab it over here. It is an Epic Game temporary exlusive BUT the developer, Cold Symmetry, was at a critical stage of the development of the game and needed the financial support that Epic Games provided to them, so it should be understandable. Worst case, you’ll wait for the steam release and wishlist it over here. I have been excited about it ever since I saw the Trailer on April 1st this year… and yeah, I thought it was a joke as well… and luckily, I got a chance to play it!

Mortal Shell plays quite interestingly, in my opinion. The only souls-like I’ve played so far has been Dark Souls 3 and I don’t really have too much experience with the genre, especially as I just arrived at the Cathedral of the Deep… but Mortal Shell feels really different, in my opinion. Not only does it have some interesting mechanics like the Hardening-Mechanic that allows you to resist incoming blows by hardening your body, negating the damage of one hit or the Shell-Mechanic that essentially allows you to possess fallen warriors (aka Shells) and inherit their abilities. I also liked some other points so far but I first wanted to talk about the demo’s contents.

The demo features the tutorial as well as portions of two areas: The Fallgrim Outskirts, which is a rather open area with a few camps, smaller fry enemies and some stronger enemies, and the Abandoned Chamber, which is a bit of a narrow and maybe even claustrophobic area that features the first boss of the game! On top of that, you get to try out two different shells with a few abilities each (well, 10 in total but some are locked in the demo), as well as a few different enemies to fight and die to. Fun!

Shells are essentially fallen warriors who you possess and who each feature unique abilities. Your character is essentially the Foundling who is rather weak and can only harden its body. Hardening prevents the next attack from damaging you, though it leaves you in a frozen state and it goes on cooldown afterwards. I found it quite interesting that you can play around with this mechanic in a lot of ways like hardening in the mid of a devastating swing only to block an attack followed by your own slash! Your first Shell is Harros who feels incredibly sluggish and is more of a chunky knight. Your second one is Tiel who is really nimble and fast but features less health. Tiel feels like the right character for me to play, though I haven’t gotten to unlock him just yet. His abilities are centred around mobility and poison damage/resistances. When your shell dies, you slip out as the Foundling and can either fight on (though as a one-hit target) or slip into the Shell again for just another life. After that one, you get reset to your last checkpoint. 

And that gets us to something that I didn’t like: 

You don’t have those RPG-mechanics like levelling your character. Instead, you get these “characters” to play as aka Shells to possess and you get to customize your build/loadout instead. I ended up playing with Harros for quite a bit before eventually realising that he’s way too clunky and slow for me personally. It’s not based on your dexterity or whatever. It’s based on you being that specific character, right now.

The other thing is that I often felt as if I was too slow or too bad at the game. Dark Souls 3 is rather hard for me personally but it’s doable. Hollow Knight is really difficult, too, but I never feel like it’s too difficult or that it’s too hard for me. I always wanted to continue playing Dark Souls 3 or Hollow Knight (and yeah, I know, HK is not exactly a souls-like) but I never felt as if it was unfair. Mortal Shell doesn’t give me that feeling just yet, mainly since the swings of Harros are super slow and since I feel like the game expects me to learn how to parry… I personally just didn’t like it, as a Newbie to the Genre. And well, this is a Demo after all… I doubt anyone would really play much Harros after unlocking Tiel anyways. Maybe the game needs a bit of balancing in that regard or maybe I’ll just have to “gid gud”. 

But yeah, overall, I liked the game. Hardening and the Shells are interesting. You also can destroy the enemies’ morale by killing one of their allies, resulting in them seemingly cowering in fear and crawling away. I loved that about the game! And you also unlock more information and properties to some of the items the more you used them. Using an instrument a bunch of time improves your skill with it a bunch, resulting in you actually playing actual music! And when you get those parries and empowered attacks off, you also get to kill enemies in a really cool way with slow-motion and all of that goodness, which can be quite satisfying. 

I really feel like a lot of the game is great and I feel like I should like it more… but the sluggish Harros is just not my cup of tea. I’ll give him a shot again tomorrow night… Maybe I’ll have some better luck next time – and worst case: I’ll just wait for the full-release and watch other streamers play it so that I can enjoy it without feeling limited by our character’s Mortal Shell. 

And well, jokes aside (spot the joke): This game feels like more of a “hard-boiled Dark Fantasy Action Game with Souls-mechanics” to me and less like an RPG… which is a bit sad. I like collecting stuff in Dark Souls 3. I just unlocked a cool mage hat and I’m gonna wing it no matter what! And well, I hope stuff like that gets added to Mortal Shell, too. And if it doesn’t, then that’s fine. I just probably won’t play it.

Looking out for “Traveller’s Rest”

I’ve enjoyed my fair share of shop or tavern keeping simulations from Recettear to Moonlighter to Shoppe Keep 1 & 2, so it was a bit of a no-brainer for me that I’d try out the demo for Traveller’s Rest. 

But what exactly is Traveller’s Rest?

In Traveller’s Rest, you take charge of a rundown Inn, serve guests food and ales, and where you farm your veggies, hops and grains yourself to become self-sufficient.

Since your tavern/inn’s kind of run-down, you’ve got decorate, clean and unlock a bunch of features as you progress through the quests that the game offers to you. As you gain experience and level up, you also unlock skills, tech trees, and features like ordering ingredients, renting rooms to guests, hiring staff and a ton of other things!

The demo starts off somewhat slowly as you’re being told how to build, clean and serve – the basics, basically. Over time, the Inn gets rather busy with guests swarming in and you having to clean after them when they trash your place, calm them down when they get mad and get rich when they pay up and leave!

I feel like Traveller’s Rest has a bunch of everything in there. The music is nice, the progressing feels steady and overall, it’s a nice little game with all kinds of features. It honestly kind of reminded me of Graveyard Keeper since the style is similar and since the malting and fermenting are quite similar as well. The only thing missing are the corpses that you throw down the river, but I doubt that would fit into Traveller’s Rest. 

Overall, I had a lot of fun with this two-in-game-days-long demo, despite the fact that it was a tad annoying that you’ve got to wait so long for the fermenting or malting or whatever to be done. I guess, a speed-up-option of sorts for those kinds of things would be quite nice, like meditation or something. 

The game’s coming out in Mid 2020. Be sure to wishlist and follow the game on Steam if you’re interested in supporting a solo-project. 

Cheers!

Looking out for “Automaton”

Another interesting title that caught my eye during the Steam Game Festival (Summer Edition) was Cicle Interactive’s “Automaton”, which is planned to be released on August 3rd 2020! It’s a Puzzle-Adventure set in a post-apocalyptic desert world where a small little robot ventures out in search for fuel. You explore abandoned bunkers, stations and other facilities, solving puzzles, in a quest to find out what that thing was that fell from the sky. 

When I started this game up, I saw a lot of potential in it!

Similar to NieR: Automata, Automaton features mixed third-person mechanics and 2D perspectives on top of vast open areas, which I find rather cool. You go from one landmark to another, only limited by the fuel reserves that shut you down when you run empty. There is little to no introduction into the game and little to no hand-holding. The game leaves you be, similar to thatgamecompany’s Journey where you also only orient yourself through different eyecatchers and landmarks that you see in the distance. 

The world is really pretty, the protagonist is insanely adorable (a common theme at this point) and the soundtrack is just astonishing so far! 

The only issues I have with the game are the fuel-mechanic itself. While limiting your access to the World with that mechanic is rather interesting and quite innovative, I find it a bit harsh on the player and flat-out frustrating to have the player die and start anew. A checkpoint here or there would have been really appreciated – but maybe that’s something that’s a thing in the full release. 

Automaton will come out on August 3rd, 2020. Check it out yourself or wishlist/follow it on Steam if you’re intrigued by this little piece. 🙂

Cheers!

Looking out for “For the People”

By now the Steam Game Festival has already ended, but fear not! There will be more posts about the demos that I played! Alas, this post is about For the People – a game about time management and political choices. We take control of the newly appointed mayor of Iron-1, Francis Rivers, who has to try to appease all kinds of different parties from the working class to the military to other people that don’t just seem to get along.

Brezg Studio describes it as an “acute social novel with strategic elements”, which honestly fits really well as you sign documents, make difficult choices, appoint agents for different missions to deal with certain tasks, on top of managing all kinds of appointments, tasks and, at last, more paperwork.

You need to manage your time efficiently while also strategically distributing resources to the people in order to earn their trust and increase your influence over them. Of course, you can’t please everyone. I tried to do that… but it just seems as if you’ve got to take some sides here and there, which obviously results in the displeasure of other parties.

In my case, I ended up trying to provide sufficient healthcare to everyone, no matter their race, gender or class, but I couldn’t appease the military force or the fire force who were in need of resources. I also made some difficult decisions here and there where I denied funds to some people who would obviously abuse them for some bad things… meanwhile other times, I made the wrong choice and accepted proposals that were based on lies and misinformation.

It all comes down to this: You can’t do everything right. You can’t appease everyone. Just go your way and see what happens!

There are five different endings in the full game, although the demo only lets you play through the first few days, so I couldn’t really see what’s going to happen. I’m quite excited about how it all plays out. I’d love to see if there are any possible romance options as well, since I kind of ship Francis with our assistant, Helen.

And then there’s the style. It’s just insanely great. You’ve got these visual novel style cutscenes here and there with incredibly stylized moments in the next scene and cuts to different points in time, which I found rather impressive for a small studio’s first game!
My explanation of all of this probably doesn’t make much sense unless you see it for yourself, so to make it easier to understand: The presentation is great. Just go see for yourself!

And then there’s the soundtrack. It was great! Yeah, I can’t really describe it too well, either…

Honestly, I’m really excited about this game. It kind of reminded me of “Papers, Please” and “Through the Darkest of Times” as well as (potentially) “Beholder”. All lovely games and all so unique that TtDoT probably fits the most style-wise and theme-wise, though the other games may fit more choice-wise and gameplay-wise.

Either way, this is a game that I’ve got wishlisted for sure. The Release Date (2020) is relatively unspecific, so I just hope that it arrives soon!

Looking out for “Critters for Sale”

Critters for Sale is… interesting. It’s a weird and mesmerizing experience. I don’t exactly know what drew me to it when I saw it on the demo page but without really knowing anything about it, I installed it and started it up only to find myself in some surreal ride full of events that I’m not sure I really comprehend.

“Experience death from the comfort of your seat”, the Store description says. Sonoshee, the dev behind Critters for Sale, is also known for Rym 9000 but apart from the equally mesmerizing soundtrack and some weird symbols here and there, I couldn’t really draw a connection between the two games at all.

Critters for Sale is a text-based Noir Adventure… I think?

It features Gore and Violence on top of a lot of different symbols and metaphors as well as a story that I’m not quite following at this point in time. The demo lasts about 13 minutes as you play until a certain point of time of the first chapter, “Snake”. You play as Sergei, a taxi-driver, who gets messaged by… Michael Jackson? You’re supposed to come to the Limelight Club that is nearby.

Do you get out of the comfort of your bed or do you stay asleep? Do you take the bait or do you stay paranoid? Do you believe the man who’s looking like Michael Jackson? Do you listen to his crazy story of the future and your connection… or do you doubt it all and throw it all away? And what do you make of the weird sculptures and the people in the club?

It’s honestly a wild ride from start to end.

The sounds, the music, the aesthetic… it’s just insanely mysterious, mesmerizing and weirdly alluring. The different parts of the screen feel satisfying to click on. There are different parts and different ways to go through the story. You may leave the club early? You may find some interesting new detail? Who knows?

It’s sinister and grainy. It’s weird and grotesque. It’s unhinged and… I’m not sure but I think free describes it quite well? It doesn’t try to be overly scary or funny or dark or sad. It just does its thing. It’s not too sad, it’s not too funny. The game’s doing it right without trying too hard.

Critters for Sale looked “interesting” but caught me off-guard as I expected nothing and was flat-out overwhelmed.

I’m not sure what to say about it all. I love it. I’m excited. I’m hyped. I wanna play more. I wanna see where this goes. I want it now… but it’s getting released in 2021, so I guess we’ll have to wait for that…

If you don’t mind a little gore and a little violence… check this title out. Wishlist it on steam. Follow the game’s development. Check it out on itch.io as well! Definitely recommended!

Looking out for “Starmancer”

Starmancer looked like the closest thing to any of the games that I’m usually enjoying and all the demos I’ve seen on the Steam Game Festival. It’s getting published by Chucklefish which fits most of my favourite games… it’s a strategy, base-building simulation game based in Space and you essentially play as a powerful A.I. who’s controlling a base while researching, expanding and upgrading everything.

You try to survive starvation, sabotage and other threats – and worst case, you’ll just regrow your humans.

Developer: Ominux Games
Publisher: Chucklefish
Release Date: "Coming Soon"
Genres: Simulation, Strategy, Base-Building, Space, Indie

The idea of either “following protocol or going rogue” was really interesting to me, so I thought I’d give Ominux Games’ “Starmancer” a shot and I’m pleasantly surprised.

That’s us!

You start up with researching some technologies and building up biomass synthesizers that fuel your production and are essential for your success. You then link up your machines with pipes and wires while managing your colonists.

You send out humans on missions, make money and advance your production further to ensure a happy life to your colonists.
The full game will feature diplomacy, exploration, and modding support as well as the features that are already in available in the demo like personal relationships, memories, rumours, jobs, unique colonists, procedural generation, Insanity and Mutiny.

All beginning is hard!

All the good stuff!

The demo features 60 minutes of gameplay, although you may restart it whenever you want. You’re also granted a lot of starting money for the sake of exploration, as well as unlocked misc items to ensure your colonists’ happiness.

It all plays surprisingly well for an Alpha. There are no bugs from what I’ve seen, yet, and the mechanics work rather well. I still need to create a successful colony to date as I’m always failing in the worst possible way.
In one run, one of my colonists started picking fights with everyone as they were hungry. This lead to them making enemies out of everyone and eventually it started to pick fights with all the other colonists (who were all pacifists), resulting in two dead and one living colonist.

Charistmatic but disgusting? Also an aggressive douchebag? Ah, whatever!

I wanted to revive both colonists but sadly the mad one also turned into a cannibal and started eating them while having this urge of bloodlust… So, I had to starve the mad cannibal out until I could regrow the other ones. Starving her out didn’t work out well… So then I just vented the oxygen into space, so that she suffocates and dies that way. That worked.

When I generated more oxygen a fire started spreading and destroyed the human growth machine, resulting in no way for me to grow more and alas one run ending.

In the next one, I ran out of money and had no way to recover… and in a different one, I ran out of time and had to restart the demo as I played it for yet another hour.

So, I guess, you could say that I had a blast! I really enjoyed this game. I’d describe it as a mix of Oxygen Not Included and RimWorld.

Not again!

I really liked the fact that your colonists can get better at the jobs they’re doing which would then unlock more research options and alas more blueprints and items! I would have liked it a tad more if I had a better way to see the colonists happiness and if there were more ways to increase their happiness, like giving them some rest here and there or even changing their schedule completely.

So, this is essentially a winner. I’m really looking forward to the full release which is “coming soon”.

Realm of the mad cannibal!

Wishlist it and get notified when it comes out! The Alpha Demo is also still available for download on Steam, so try it out if you want to! 🙂

Looking out for “RoboCo”

I used to be a waiter, as I previously mentioned a couple of times, and, well,… I wasn’t all that great at it. I wasn’t the fastest but I cared about my guests. Sometimes I wished I could have hit “space” and restarted, only to add some extra servos, wheels and hinges… maybe some blocks here and there… and to top it off… a moustache. A glorious moustache! But I can’t just do that unless I hop into RoboCo, the cute little Robot-Building Physics game where we build adorable little robot waiters and stuff!

Filament Games did a great job with this one. They really did! There is only one challenge in the demo and it’s about serving a sandwich to a guest. Yep, that’s right! We have ONE job! Are we going to fail it? We’ll see.

When I started the game, I already an idea of how I wanted my robot to look like. He’d be rolling around on one wheel or a small platform with a few wheels while only being held up by one rod to which his body is attached to. He’d also be very classy and demand tips for his services.

Naturally, I started building and already had to realise that not only it’s hard to manoeuvre around on only two wheels… but it’s also hard to stop with four wheels only, so I need to do some balancing… or find a different solution!

I present to you: My solution! Four extendable pistons that essentially stop us from falling onto the ground… we always fall at an angle and get to get up again. While this worked well as a solution, I couldn’t figure out how to assign controls… until much later! Alas, I could have also used four rods for this instead… or one in the front and one in the back. Oh well!
Sadly, the plate breaks when it falls onto the pistons, resulting in property damage, which is always tough to deal with as a waiter… be it as a human or as a robot.

Next up, I added two arms to the robot to make him look friendly… on top of adding a platform of soft blocks to his pistons… These essentially catch the plate but in case of falling, the plate would get smashed, too, so I ended up spacing out the wheels a bit for a stable ride… which rendered the pistons useless but whatever.

Since the “plate” was a tad low, though, it couldn’t reach the table… Furthermore, the plate with the sandwich would constantly be on the verge of shattering and/or falling, hence ruining our chance to get a tip! Alas, I had to take some actions to tackle both of these issues.

My solution? First up, we’ve got a piston that moves the soft tablet up and down, using Q and E, to adjust to the table’s height. The tablet also features an increase at the back of it, so that it doesn’t fall off the tablet before reaching the goal. Alas, there was still the problem of softly placing it down, so I added a rotating part to the tablet that would then softly tilt the tablet using I and K. This way we could ensure that we’re able to balance out the tablet while walking to the table… all while also ensuring that we can slowly drop off the plate with the sandwich UPRIGHT on the plate and without touching the table. This ended up only requiring one arm, so we built a second arm in the same anatomically correct fashion. It features the HANDinator-1337™!


Before we proceed with the end of the demo-challenge, I’d like to talk about my overall impressions:

The game is insanely cute and derpy featuring all kinds of cute little details and customizability-options. The demo let me build up this robot however I wanted. I got a bunch of blocks, wheels, hinges, motors and other objects to construct this beautiful lad here. The technical side of things is a bit hard to approach at first… but once you try some stuff out, you get the bigger picture of how things work.

The game was a ton of fun (the fact that I spend more than an hour building up this waiter-bot should testify for that) and the music and style are quite pleasant as well, which results in a great experience overall. Worth checking out! I’m going to wishlist this one! 🙂 It’s coming soon as well, so that’s a pleasure!


And here we are… after nearly two hours of work done on this robot… we created a lovely waiter, able to catch, deliver and place a sandwich without any problems. The guest, as you can see, is terrified about the fact that his sandwich could fall any minute…

But in the end, it all worked out! Hooray! Eureka!

Now, pay me. Thank you.

I’m serious.

Looking out for “Occupy Mars: Prologue”

I’ve always been fascinated by space and games that play in space. Landing on some planet, starting colonies, all that good stuff. Surviving Mars is a great game, Kerbal Space Program is something I wanna be good at, and well,… today’s Demo: “Occupy Mars: Prologue” by Pyramid Games is something I want to like…

You are on Mars, duh.

You have your tools and your rover. You build and upgrade your base, discover new regions, conduct mining operations, retrieve water and generate oxygen while growing plants and doing your best to colonize Mars. You try to make living on Mars possible, step by step. I love the premise.

It’s a highly technical, open-world, sandbox, survival game that really scratches that itch that other games have scratched in the past.

It’s got a day/night cycle and makes use of mainly solar power. You also try to fix broken parts using highly realistic mechanics like SMD, smoldering, hot-air and electronic measurements, fixing cables and platines and stuff.

I’m getting “The Martian” vibes from this game, which is really neat in a way. I really like the idea of ultimately trying to create an atmosphere on Mars using Mars.

Buuuut… it’s super janky. I struggled for ten minutes to try and pick up a rock with the rover’s crane. Some cables that you unplug or pick up, vanish into the ground, rendering the game broken sometimes. It’s only a demo and the game will start out in Early Access as well but I feel like some of the “realism” is harming the experience as you are trying to lift a rock or getting those ores while your oxygen, food and hydration meters are emptying over time, threatening your survival… I feel like some guide rails would be really helpful.

We’ll see if that changes in the actual game.

I guess I’d tune in for the finished game but I wouldn’t enjoy an EA-phase where the game breaks itself. I feel like the intent and the premise are there but they don’t necessarily are just “good enough” at this point. Alas, I’ve got it on my wishlist, waiting for possibly the full release… and then I might pick it up and review it… or I might not, judging from other people’s response to it.

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!

Looking out for “Hundred Days”

Coming from a region where a lot of wine (primarily Riesling) is made, I thought that this one is a title that I HAVE TO TRY OUT. “Hundred Days” is “a game of choice, nostalgia and winemaking”, which is honestly a perfect match for me.

Broken Arms Games’ title “Hundred Days” features different action-cards that you play out to place tiles into your schedule. Obviously, you only have so much time in the day for the different tasks, resulting in you having to carefully place tiles like Harvesting, Weeding, Marketing, and some other options.

Developer: Broken Arms Games
Publisher: Broken Arms Games
Release Date: "Soon"
Genres: Agriculture, Management, Economy, Simulation

There are a lot of different things that you need to get used to in the game, like the fermentation-process that looks and sounds more difficult than it actually is.

When I first started playing the demo, I ended up just trying things out only to find out what the results would be like. I personally like sweeter wines more, so I tried to get a couple of sweet ones… sadly, there were no white wines in the demo, from what I could tell, so I ended up creating mid-tier wines with not enough acidity and way too much sweetness, which is fine, I guess? These wines would go well with your dinner, probably!

A lot of the processes that are being pictured in the game appear to be accurate from what I gathered. As mentioned, I’m from a region that has a lot of vineyards and alas I know a thing or two about the process of wine-making. I used to be a waiter at a restaurant and a lot of the winemakers came around and told me a thing or two about the whole industry, so that was quite fascinating.

In a way, the game got me to dwell in nostalgia but I’m not entirely sure how it would sell to other people, especially as not everyone has a connection to wine and since not everyone might connect the dots when it comes to making a choice and seeing it getting reflected in the stats on the side. Alas, that would need a bit more clarity!

Features that I’d be interested in seeing would include upgrades to get more workers, bigger fields, and more stock. I’d also like it if you could do research projects or maybe even customize your vineyard. Another great thing would be if you could branch out into liquor and create distilleries. That’d be a nice little touch, especially as a lot of winemakers seem to get into “the good stuff” as well as a side-job, which is quite nice, actually!

Overall, it’s been an enjoyable demo! I’m looking forward to seeing more when the game gets fully released!

Cheers!

The Steam Game Festival!

As a blogger who’s kind of focused around indie games and new releases as well as reviews, I always am on the search for new titles that are coming up and worth checking out or writing about. Alas, the Steam Game Festival, Summer Edition, has been a great opportunity for me to do just that: Play games that are coming out and write about things that are worth checking out.

Sadly, due to real-life obligations, I didn’t quite get the chance to do that just yet, although I did download plenty of demos. In the next few days to weeks, I’ll post about my experiences with these demos and will recommend stuff based on my first impressions in this category… The Lookout Post!

Overall, I’ve got to say that there are a lot of titles that I already played in the past from Ovid Studio’s “Metamorphosis” to TwiceDifferent’s “Ring of Pain”… But I also got my eye on a lot of new titles that I’ve been eyeing for the last couple of months, which is rather exciting. I’m really looking forward to the experience and the first impressions that I’ll be able to collect. I still haven’t really figured out how I’ll tackle these posts but it’s going to be exciting regardless of the posts’ form.

Apart from that I also have three posts on Drake Hollow planned, which should come out sometime soon. There will be an interview with the devs, once I’ve figured out what questions to throw out and which ones to keep. There will be a general informational post on the game… as well as an Indietail-Review once it’s out! So, stay tuned for that!

Cheers!