2020 hasn’t been that bad EA-wise

2020 wasn’t that bad when it comes to indie titles that left EA. While the world is going to shits, the gaming industry pumped out a fair few titles. Hence I thought I should maybe write a piece about a few of the games that reached their 1.0 his year and that I really enjoyed playing for th past couple of months.

For starters, Hades just recently got out of Early Access and its 1.0 launched, introducing an actual ending, new music, artwork, late-game unlockables, a new aspect for the twin fists and a lot of other stuff. Honestly, the last time I played Hades was in March after some update but I forgot which one it was and there have been a few bigger updates between then already. Hence, I’ve got to visit Hades again to leave Hell for good… again. Especially since achievements seem to only now have been introduced, I can’t wait to unlock more stuff. The new weapons seem really cool and the addition of Hermes and Nyx seem quite interesting, although my sources are just hearsay at this point. I just updated it and I have yet to play it, though I may do that some time this week.

Hades is one of those titles that seemingly did everything well. It’s a fun and fast-paced action-rogue-lite with nice progression, some interesting customizable parts and items that you can change each run and on top of that it’s depicting mythology more or less accurately which I really adore. The characters in the game are fun, each with their own stories and quirks and perks. The music is just awesome… but personally, I don’t like the aspect of traversing the same “biomes” over and over again, so that’s something that I don’t like about Hades, although I know that it’s hard to change that since we’re in Hell, after all, right? The switching bosses, though, with their own lines and everything are really nice and the favour system? A ton of fun to play around!

Just a while ago, on August 4th, Littlewood also got out of Early Access, adding a whole bunch of new events, new characters, new special moments, and other features and I’m quite glad about that. I started playing Littlewood not too long after it got released into Early Access and I was done with all the content after a few hours, so I decided to wait for more updates… and then August came and I spend an awful long time in this game.

The problem I have with Littlewood is that time moves a lot faster outside than inside. Just like with Stardew Valley, I ended up binging it a whole bunch for a while before eventually just not bothering with it anymore since I didn’t have the time for it just yet. Don’t get me wrong: I enjoy Littlewood and Stardew Valley to bits… but then RL stops by and you just never really feel like playing it again until you start it up, binge it for six hours, and then close it again for another few days to weeks. Oh well.

And at last, my favourite title to leave EA this year is probably Risk of Rain 2, whose 1.0 dropped on August 11th, 2020. The 1.0 added a whole new boss enemy, some new mechanics, a new survivor, and an actual ending, which I find really nice. For the past couple of days, I’ve been playing a lot of RoR2, especially as I’ve discovered a few neat builds that I do enjoy playing a bunch and especially as I unlocked some more character perks and the latest survivor, the Captain!

I’m looking forward to the updates are to come in the future, but overall, RoR2 did really develop quite nicely, from a game where the teleporter was hard to find in the swamp area and where some bosses would just oneshot you (rip magma worm) and where fire was super op… to a game where can still get oneshot (ugh, void reavers) but it got balanced quite a bit and it’s essentially a ton of fun. Right now, I’m trying to unlock all of the artifacts on top of some of the items that I’m missing… and then I’ll attempt to get some Monsoon runs going before eventually heading into the new alternative mode: Eclipse!

Either way, that’s it for today’s post. I probably forgot some other titles that came out of EA this year but these few were quite memmorable and I did look forward to their release. An honourable mention would be Factorio but I didn’t play that game at all, yet, and I’m not sure if I’ll ever get into it at all… and then there’s also Terraria 1.4, although that one wouldn’t fit the theme, would it? I mean, it’s not a 1.0 but it was as hyped up as an actual new release.

Cheers!

Indietail – Clunky Hero

Some heroes are known for fighting windmills! Some others are known for getting tossed coins at! And some others… well… they have buckets on their heads and fight evil stuff to save their wife! In today’s Indietail we’re talking about the latest demo of ClunkyHero!

Developer: Chaosmonger Studio
Release Date: March, 2021
Genres: RPG, Action, 2D, Platformer, Metroidvania
Available on: PC for now (+more as stretch goals)
Reviewed on: PC
Copy was received from the Devs (demo available for free)

Clunky Hero is a humouristic and story-driven Platformer-Metroidvania-title with RPG-elements by Chaosmonger Studio. It’s being described as a mix of titles like Hollow Knight and MunchKin. The game features a rather adorable 2D world filled with a lot of surprises, references and dangers. You can now support the game on Kickstarter until the 15th of June, 2020, so I’ll just quickly talk about the demo that I got sent by this small dev studio!

“Set in a far-away village, a dull peasant named Rufus and wife, Brunilde, lived an ordinary life. Everything was great in the village until the Evil One was awakened by a magical mistake that unleashed his army of minions into the world. In an unsurprising twist, the Evil One kidnapped Brunilde and imprisoned her in his Super Evil Bad Guy Castle Fortress.

Determined to rescue her, Rufus ventures onto a great quest, only equipped with an ordinary broom for his weapon and a sturdy bucket as his helmet. Labelled the Clunky Hero, Rufus sets out on his quest to save his wife and the whole village!”

What seems like a rather generic RPG-story á la “heroine gets kidnapped and the protagonist must save her from some evil guy” is actually a rather comedic twist on the whole trope of a princess that can’t seem to not-get-captured. The game mocks the trope and the generic RPG-games that feature the same twists over and over again by tackling the issue with TONS of humour. In fact, on stream, I ended up actually laughing out when I saw the intro for the very first time. The narrator and the whole plot premise are just hilarious!

Soon after getting into the game, you’re being presented by hand-drawn backgrounds and the option of going towards a dangerous story to your left or a town filled with generic NPCs to your right. The NPCs either tend to mock or make fun of you while selling you items, or they’re breaking the fourth wall with critique points and jokes at the cost of the devs while also giving out quests for you. I personally really enjoyed some of these dialogue options quite a bit. Again, the writing seems alright when you read/hear it for the first time, especially when all the NPCs are voiced with some made-up language that further enhances the experience.

In the demo, there are a bunch of enemies that you can encounter in the world from goblins to drunk bees to derpy knights to jumping heads (reminding me of Spirited Away!). They usually are tricky to deal with and can deal a bunch of damage to you, which is rather annoying when you think about the fact that you can only get healed by heal-items.

The gameplay seems to feature a lot of exploration, some not too complex combat and a bunch of enemies as well as a ton of humour but nothing too out-of-the-ordinary. It all seems rather unpolished to me, which may be part of the appeal of a demo, I guess? I’m sure that the following issues will get fixed in the full version… or rather I hope so,… but I don’t know for sure.

I’ve noticed a bunch of bugs and issues with the controls. Controller inputs were not getting registered while controls in the inventory just did not work at all for the most parts. A lot of times I’d feel like the hitboxes were not matching up which was rather annoying and with you not being able to heal without items it became quite frustrating… Especially, when you then have to start the game up again and listen to the same cutscene again… for the fifth or sixth time. I GET IT! WE’RE SUPPOSED TO LAUGH ABOUT THE DUCKFACE JOKE! Yeah, it’s not funny after a few times, but that’s the case with all unskippable intro-sequences! (Looking at you there, Borderlands!)

But these are issues that can be fixed rather quickly. The devs are aware of these problems and mentioned them in a pop-up that you see when you start up the game. It’s impressive to see a demo like this being put out after only 4 months of development.

The final result is supposed to feature 25+ levels, 15+ interior levels, six different skills, six+ different weapons, 20+ side quests, 30+ consumables, 10+ magic items, 10+ bosses, 20+ NPCs and 30+ types of enemies.

And in the end, I would say that these smaller issues that have been spotted in the DEMO (!) will probably not be featured in the full game, coming out in 2021… and I’d say that it still has some beautiful art, some hilarious moments and a great narrator… so I’d recommend the game if the quality continues to improve from now on… but we don’t know for sure.

And I know that it’s difficult to trust some name on some Kickstarter campaign with one’s money. You obviously cannot just trust anyone… but in this case, Nicola Povesan – head of Chaosmonger Studio -, has been rather successful with backed projects on Kickstarter. There are short films like Attack of the Cyber Octopuses and Robot Will Protect You as well as the video game Encodya (coming out on Steam in 2020), so if you’d like to, you could very much go and help the studio out over here at the Kickstarter campaign.

Clunky Hero is currently about 2500€ away from getting released in an All-Or-Nothing campaign. You’ll be able to find the demo on that side as well as some stretch goals, so you may consider doing that.

Either way, have a nice day and always remember to greet your neighbours with enough safety distance!

Cheers!

Indietail – Ayre

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if you could fly on a majestic creature like a dragon? Have you ever wanted to surge through the skies and explore vast areas? Have you ever dreamed of true freedom with no boundaries whatsoever? 

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions or if you’re just wondering what I’m on about, then you might like this following review of Ayre!

Developer: Gordon Little aka Gord Games
Publisher: Gordon Little
Genres: Casual, Adventure, Indie, Dragons, Flying, Simulation, Third Person
Release Date: May 27, 2020
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC
Copy received from the Devs

Ayre is a new dragon flight simulation that is coming out on Steam soon. Mount your bonded dragon, Red, and explore vast areas while testing your flight skills in sky races hidden across the lands and discover the history of an ancient civilisation with their own customs and traditions as well as a story that is quite interesting. And then there’s the Crystal Comet, an organism of sorts that has been scattered across the lands and asks you to unify it again. 

Yeah, true freedom. It’s great. You’ve got an open world with gigantic, snow-covered mountains, vast plains, beautiful valleys and sparkling rivers that is completely accessible to you and your scaley companion. Across the world, you find collectable crystals and Monoliths telling you the story of a civilisation of the past. 

It’s an interesting experience to be able to go anywhere you want with little to no guidance and no boundaries set by abilities that you need. The controls may take a while to get used to if you – like me – don’t play too many flight-simulation-games but once you get the hang of it, it is rather fun. If you want to challenge yourself, there are plenty of ring-races that require you to reach a goal as fast as possible. If you then still want to step up your game, then I recommend checking out the advanced flight options that are less simplified and need you to watch the speed your flying at and control your dragon more precisely. 

Red looks like such a happy boiii in this one. Like some cute doggo but better!

The music and the colourful, simplified presentation make the game shine in a new light as well as you get to enjoy the world without having to fear any threats or dangers. If you fall off a cliff, your dragon is there for you and rescues you in time, too!

And the different biomes are rather intriguing. During the time I played, I found some ruins here and there as well as forests and a wasteland of sorts. There are different structures hidden in all kinds of places, from a temple in the mountains to a small port in a river. You may swim across some Deltas and travel by foot, too. If you get too far from your dragon, you just whistle and Red comes to pick you up. It’s just enjoyable. 

Crystal in a temple fits quite well!

Overall, I really enjoyed the game to this point but I noticed that it still needs some polishing and some more updates here and there. I’d be intrigued to see how this game fairs in VR and how people would enjoy it in that context but at the same time, me and my fear of heights don’t want to try that out, haha.

It’s only going to come out and I only got a key for review purposes, so some of the following issues might have been gotten rid of in the future, so I’ll probably revisit this game by then as well… but yeah, there are flaws. 

I love this area so much!

For instance, it feels really slow to travel on foot. Quite often I’d call my dragon and I’d just fly a small distance to get closer to a crystal I wanted to collect, or I’d just ride it on the ground to reach a point. 

There are also some spots here and there where the world feels a bit janky. Your character, for instance, can’t seem to climb up ledges all that much and often seems to struggle with going up the smallest hills. There are also areas where your dragon struggles, like when you run into a hill while attempting to fly up and your dragon just lands again, which can be a bit annoying but you get the hang of the flying and starting rather quickly, so that may be overlooked.

We’re a fast boy! And if we beat this race, we get a speed upgrade for our dragon!

I also noticed that some features seem to not be implemented into my version just yet, like different markers on the map or story-parts on different monoliths. I’d find a monolith in a new area but can’t seem to interact with it at all, so I guess it’s going to get added very soon after or even on release. 

And then there’s an issue that I have with the crystals. Some of them are placed in interesting ways like on the palm of a giant statue or at the top of some ruins but it can be quite hard to get to them due to different polygons of the game and the weird difficulty your character seems to have with them. There also some spaces here and there where you’d seemingly get showered in crystals while other areas are rather scarce of any at all. I would love it if you had to collect less in total and if the crystals would be rarer or if the movement speed of the character got buffed a bit more so that it feels less like a hassle in these areas. 

So fabulous!

For the first story-piece from the Crystal, as an example, you need to collect five crystals while you need fifty crystals for the second fragment of a story. It seems like a bit of a jump and I would rather have enjoyed smaller steps like a new fragment every 25 crystals since the story is the hook that keeps you playing. Without the story and the exploration part, you might get bored eventually after two to three hours of flying around. 

But regardless of that, I would say that it’s a solid premise and, while it needs some polishing, it is definitely worth checking out for anyone who likes the idea of it and enjoys truly open worlds without invisible walls

Yup, a pidgeon on a skateboard.

So, in the end, I’ll have to revisit it in the future once it got updated a bit more or once it hits the release and possibly gets polished more. I can definitely feel the love that got put into this world and the game in general and I really enjoyed my time. While there are flaws, I would say that this game is like a gem that just needs a tad more polishing. I feel like that describes it quite well. 

The game already is available for 12 USD on itch.io, which in my opinion is a fair price for what you get out of it. The steam price will probably be somewhere around that, I guess.
I definitely will come back to this game every now and then as it’s quite relaxing and rather colourful, especially when it gets updated more in the future!

STORY TIME!

I hope you enjoyed this review. Thanks a lot to the dev, Gordon Little, for providing me with a review key for this game. Please check out the steam store page and wishlist this title when it comes out. And please take care, the whole pandemic-business is still not over. 🙂

Cheers!

Another look at Ring of Pain!

It hasn’t been too long since we posted about our last look at Ring of Pain and there’s already been a new updated demo for it. The last version was V0.8.21 while this one (got updated today, again) is already at V0.8.36, featuring a complete stat-overhaul and some UI-improvements, item effect changes and other updates. So I thought it’d be a nice idea to post about it again and maybe feature the rogue-like expert Frostilyte from FrostilyteWrites as well as Quietschisto from RNG who doesn’t really play rogue-likes in this post and ask them to write something about this demo as well. So be sure to check out their posts as well!

Note: Their posts may not be online, yet, at this point in time due to timezone- and schedule-differences. Also Frosti may still be asleep and Quietschisto may already be wasted again. Either way, if the link doesn’t work, check it out later again.

So, first up, what were the stats about before this update:

Don’t mind me, showing off over here.

Speed previously only determined the attack order while Clarity has been rather underwhelmingly, too, and only decided the chance rolls like stealth and dodge. The other stats were performing rather fine.

Now, speed gives a bonus to Dodge and Stealth chance while still settling the attack order. So, if you’ve got a high speed-stat, you’ll be able to dodge and stealth better but also attack before the enemy. Since these chance stats have moved from Clarity to Speed, Clarity now gives you a scaling bonus to potion healing, soul gain, curse resistance (which is now a secondary stat) and also boosts your Critical Hit Chance, which results in a system where these two stats should be as important as the other stats, Attack, Defense, and Health!

A Poison spell to replace my shields up?… or rather more crit chance and attack damage instead of Visionary?

Apart from that, almost all early game items have an item effect now and now also feature improved refined item card UI with icons for the item effect descriptions.

And rather than having one giant list of items, the game now has four “sets” of items that each focus on one primary stat: Mage (Clarity), Rogue (Speed), Warrior (Attack/Defense) and Cleric (Health).
Mimics will now show you two item options to choose between and you can now also reroll them to find better combos and easier get to synergies. This in itself allows the devs on the other hand to increase the game’s difficulty, which is gonna be more fun all along.

The UI already looks a lot cleaner!

But how does the game feel or play now?
Well, we still get launched into this dark and enigmatic place that now seems more lively thanks to some great sound effects and animations that I previously either haven’t noticed too much or that were implemented into the game. A lot of the time, you’ll get stronger through items, stat upgrades and different combos but the game also seems harder with some roadblocks here and there that you often can’t – just yet – fight, like the burial grounds’ “Plague Bearer” who is just too strong for you, or the demo’s final boss.

I really enjoyed the new mechanics that were introduced into the game, as my high speed and damage stat at one point in the game allowed me to dodge a few hits of the final boss, which would normally kill you. Now, while my chance of dodging was only at 20%, the chance of dodging two hits in a row is only at 4% while dodging three hits in a row is a chance of only about 0.8% – and against these odds still managing to dodge a total of three times has been rather fun, although I was a bit scared of having to fight through the complete fight if all of the attacks would miss – especially as I didn’t seem to deal any damage to this final boss, which was quite scary.

Huh… tough decision but I think the Inner Fury might be better here! After all, cats are better.

The games’ colours still are really vibrant in the few places that they pop up at, giving the game a certain feel. The encounters with Owl and with the shadowy being(s?) that you have now feel even more mysterious, as new dialogue options seem to have been added to the game. I can’t wait to find out what these are about and what else we will learn.

And well, the decision to not give you a “Low”, “Medium” or “High” Stealth chance but a basic numerical value that exactly tells you what your odds are, was great. I really enjoyed that bit as well as the different item sets and some of the references. There are some items in the game (like the Spoon) that seem to be useless but have their own uses in some builds where your attack stat is too high to proc a different effect and there are also some other cool references like the Onion Knight suit or the patting-glove to use on the dog that you encounter and that you’re able to pat… and I found that really amusing.

THE ONION SUIT!

One of my favourite item effects was the “teleport enemies away after attacking them” from the “something” wand of banishing (don’t know the exact name of it) as it allowed to you to teleport away exploding enemies right after you attacked them, which was always rather fun. The “Mage” set works rather well together as you get to use your souls for powerful spell effects and even better crits, adding damage or bonus stats in some clutch situations in a very magical fashion was rather nice. I always depicted a mage as a powerful caster who’d be able to always find a solution for prickly situations or who’d let hell let loose on the enemies so that works for me in this game (although the names are still subject to change, according to the devs).

Now, balancing still is a bit off. There are a lot of situations where you knew that you screwed yourself over earlier but you still manage to barely pull through as you’ve got enough stats from items to basically pull through anyway. I’ve noticed that you gain stats way too fast, which works in this demo, I guess… but if this was a finalized game, enemies would have to get a lot stronger in the next levels and a lot faster to justify your growth in power… or you’d have to nerf the Early Game of your Dungeon Crawl.

Hello, Darkness! My old friend :3

Apart from that, I really am looking forward to this game. I used to make the comparison to Slay the Spire but I was rather referring to the hype-levels that I felt about StS and this game that are quite comparable. The games feel entirely different and are both unique, despite having some characteristics that are similar. Comparing RoP to StS kind of works but at the same does not really, as Frosti also mentioned in a conversation, so, from now on I guess I won’t do that anymore.

And well, that’s it for today’s post. I hope you enjoyed it. Check out Frostilyte and Quietschisto(pheles) over at there blogs as they also posted about this demo.

Anyways, cheers!

This post is part of a challenge called BLAPRIL. The goal is to post as much as possible during the 30 days of April. There are different themes during some of the weeks and a lot of mentors, newbies and participants participating. Feel free to check this hub-post out and check out the other participants!

An early look at Ring of Pain

April’s Humble Choice offered you the option of downloading a DRM-free demo of Ring of Pain (v0.8.21) if you signed up for the choice, so I not only got some nice games this month but also got to see how much the game changed ever since the demo I played last year in August!

But first things first: What exactly is Ring of Pain?

Ring of Pain is a card-based Rogue-like-title by Twice Different, an Indie Studio responsible for Satan’s Workshop and Bounce House. Ring of Pain features a labyrinth of darkness and small shimmers of light that you get lead through in hope of finding out who you are, why you’re there and what exactly that place is.

Owl is as charming as ever!

The game features turn-based combat where you either try to sneak past enemies or battle them, always planning ahead of time to make use of the game’s mechanics and essentially survive. You get stronger through stat upgrades and by obtaining items, though some items not only increase but also reduce certain stats. The game also features some roll-mechanics similar to DnD as well as other mechanics where you block the damage completely if you have more armour than the attacker or where you outspeed enemies.

At last year’s GamesCom, I actually also did an interview with Simon Boxer (who’s the lead artist at Twice Different, responsible for all the amazingly creepy and dark but also colourful art in the game), so check that post out if you’re interested in some more info about the game or some “weird and quirky questions”.

The story is still rather enigmatic..

Naturally, I just hopped into the game and started clicking myself through it. You get to play through a small tutorial where you also meet our guide through the labyrinth, Owl, who acts as our mother of sorts, always taking care of and helping us while also quickly killing us if we were to defy it (Don’t do it. Owl is love, Owl is life).

The tutorial brings you to the end of the first floor where you essentially meet a boss monster that tells you that you’re not ready to proceed yet, hence killing you, which is a bit of a forced ending but better than an abrupt “demo ends here, screw you”-screen!

At this sacrificial well I was able to offer maximum health to receive items… but I didn’t… guess I’m not that lucky or not brave enough!

I’ve noticed that there’s plenty of new areas in the game right now and potentially a whole bunch of areas, similar to how you can access different biomes/areas from the different levels in Dead Cells.

Some of the items work only under certain conditions. I’ve seen one that had some nice stats but would have given me more stats/value if I had less than five items equipped, which I personally found quite interesting. One of my favourite items was the Mace of Banishing that gave me quite a bit of extra damage and other stats on top of the effect of teleporting enemies to a random area whenever you attack them. I found that quite neat in situations where enemies would attack you after you attack them as they can’t get their hit off unless they are ranged. Enemies that explode on death explode after the teleport, too, damaging other foes.

There are also plenty of effects like Poison, Freeze, On-hit-heal, reflecting damage and other boni that allow a bunch of customization for you build, similar to how there’s a lot of synergies in Slay the Spire.

And yeah, I’m comparing the game to a whole bunch of games here, but mostly to Slay the Spire as both RoP and StS are card-based Rogue-likes that can be played rather fast and that feature a lot of strategizing and customization. In fact, I would even say that Ring of Pain might become “the new Slay the Spire”.

I really enjoy the darker art and the themes of it. The music and animations were really cool and I had a lot of fun with all kinds of different builds. Sometimes I’d go for a whole bunch of speed and damage, like a Rogue that outspeeds enemies and hits them hard before they can damage you… some other times I’d rather go for a whole bunch of defence and poison to parry enemies and whittle them down eventually.

And yeah, I’m hyped for this game and I’m looking forward to playing more of it when it comes out in Mid 2020. Next week there is going to be another demo with an improved build, so I’ll probably post about that one, too. If you’d like to, check out the Ring of Pain discord, the twitter account or wishlist the game on steam. 🙂

For now, though, I hope that you are doing alright over there. Hang in there!

Cheers!

This post is part of a challenge called BLAPRIL. The goal is to post as much as possible during the 30 days of April. There are different themes during some of the weeks and a lot of mentors, newbies and participants participating. Feel free to check this hub-post out and check out the other participants!

Indietail – Adore

What happens when we mix rogue-lite mechanics with an isometric perspective, an up-beat and rather colourful world, monster-taming and kiting-mechanics? Well, we would probably end up with a title that would be quite similar to Cadabra Games’ Adore!
Welcome to today’s Indietail where we see what this new Brazilian studio has to offer and if their first project is worth backing!

Developer: Cadabra Games
Publisher: Cadabra Games
Genres: Rogue-lite, Isometric, Action, Indie, RPG
Release Date: February 18, 2020 (Early Access)
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC
Copy was purchased.

In Adore, we’re playing as Lukha, a young lad who’s able to tame and summon monsters to fight by his side. We create special bonds with them and train them in fights in rogue-lite fashion.

Well, the God of Creatures, Draknar, is losing his power and is placing all of his hope into the hands of Lukha, the – presumably – last of his tribe of young Adorers (Summoners). Our mission is to venture into different areas and to free the creatures that are getting possessed and harmed by a mysterious curse. On our journey, we not only discover many secrets of the immense and enigmatic world of Gaterdrik but we also unravel a conspiracy to kill Draknar!

But why do we fight? Why are we doing this? What is our purpose?

Hence, we venture into the world and bond with creatures/tame them. Lukha himself can’t fight and is hence relying on summoning the tamed creatures and using their different attacks, abilities and synergies to win the upper hand in battle while also kiting damage and dodging wild monsters whose curse hasn’t been lifted yet. To tame creatures we need essences that we get in most rooms after clearing them. But since we’re only an apprentice, we also need to adore Draknar at his statures to upgrade the creatures’ abilities and to unlock new slots to be able to tame more creatures.

These creatures level up when they slay enough beasts and have all kinds of different characteristics. While Abbu is a squishy arcane-type that shoots out magic projectiles at enemies from a distant range, Zella, for instance, is a balanced Nature-type that is able to charge at enemies for a normal melee-attack and stun them with her special ability!

Thus, there are a lot of different monsters that can be used in different ways but you shouldn’t focus on just the monsters whose attacks you like but also take a look at and strategize with the synergies they have to offer. Every creature has different sets of available synergies to them that they receive when you upgrade them or when they level up. Some already have certain synergies, some others develop better ones later on but overall they are quite random and you can even get the same ones multiple times, which can be quite fun.

But how do Synergies work?

Well, if my Abbu (I love it so much so I will probably use it quite often as an example) has a synergy with other Beast-type creatures then it needs a Beast-type to be in your “team” to get a bonus. This can be a temporary damage buff or energy for its special attack when that other creature hits a target but it can also be just a passive synergy where Abbu itself shoots three extra projectiles when there’s a Beast-type like Meecra on your team. There are currently Mystic, Nature, Arcane and Beast types and every creature usually has at least one set of synergies with each type.

Creatures get summoned using your Stamina, so the more you have, the more Stamina you’ll need. Whenever you pick up an Essence, you’ll receive an upgrade for your stamina or your movement speed or your health. I quite often prioritize Stamina over Movement speed over Health as you don’t need maximum health if you don’t get hit (pro-tip).

Well, overall, I don’t see a point in getting more health, other than the fact that you receive damage when your creatures die or when you get hit and the fact that you lose when your health reaches zero or when your creatures all die. Stamina is needed for dodging, summoning and kiting, so I definitely find that more important, especially when you are fighting with a lot of tamed creatures! And the base movement speed seems to be on the low end, which is why generally that is my second priority.

Also, there are items. These are quite interesting as they work off your monsters and generally, you’re able to always find something that fits your playstyle in the store, if you’ve got enough money to buy anything. One of my favourite items in Adore is, for example, the Dodge Claw (the actual name may be different) that essentially gives the next summoned creature a damage buff whenever you dodge and cast the summon button in the right time-window.

There are also other items that last for your whole run as well as use-items like keys and potions but upon returning to the temple of creation, you’ll start at zero again, which is what makes a rogue-like a rogue-like. You keep the “fragments” you earn and can use those for permanent upgrades, however, which is why Adore is more of a Rogue-lite than a Rogue-like, but then again a lot of people don’t see a difference between the two and generally the whole rogue-like genre doesn’t really have anything to do with the original title, Rogue…

Adore is a rogue-lite at heart and with its interesting mechanics and build-customization.

It really was interesting for me to play and I really enjoyed my journey with this title. You have a lot of ways to play the game and you can go for a more damage-oriented glass cannon build or balance out your comp for fewer weaknesses. I really enjoyed that part!

But as always there are flaws that need to get worked on. These would include the music and presentation being on the rather weak side. While the world is colourful and mysterious in a way, it really is boring to see the same levels over and over again, even with its procedural generation and different creatures – and the soundtrack is too similar from track to track. Even the boss-monster-fights are rather calm when it comes to the musical tempo. I don’t expect the devs to add in-your-face-metal to them but I’m sure they can add new tracks to the game.

And aside from bugs, that, of course, are a thing, there are rather boring synergies in the game right now. Not all synergies are boring but a lot seem rather passive and easy to use, which is not good for an Action game.

I personally would get rid of the passive synergies like “This creature gets more attack speed when you have another Arcane Creature” and add more interactive ones like “If this creature receives damage, empower all other creatures’ attacks for a short period of time”. That way you wouldn’t just stack Abbus for the sake of them being quite strong and having so much range: Instead, you’d have a tank that would trigger certain buffs and you would care more about healing consumables in shops, hence adding risk and a reward to the gameplay.

But then again, this game is in Early Access and there are frequent updates. It only just came out a few weeks ago and the plan right now is for it to exit Early Exit in 2021, so I will revisit this title again in a different post once more stuff got added into the game.

My Conclusion is…

I would say that it definitely is worth considering. The gameplay is a lot of fun and the customization can be quite rewarding even if some synergies aren’t as fun as some of the items and even if the levels right now are quite similar while the music is rather underwhelming. If you’re not sure if it’s worth it, you may always take a look at it further into the future when it got updated a lot more. Cadabra Games is really into this and judging from their discord and the frequency of their updates, I really feel like this game could be one of many good games in a few years that comes from this small and new studio.

Until next time,

Cheers!

This post is part of a challenge called BLAPRIL. The goal is to post as much as possible during the 30 days of April. There are different themes during some of the weeks and a lot of mentors, newbies and participants participating. Feel free to check this hub-post out and check out the other participants!

The Stray Sheep #32 – Early Access Titles

Today I wanted to talk about Early Access titles and my thoughts on it.

I sometimes get hyped about certain games even when they are in Early Access. Early Access, however, offers such a high risk in some cases. After all, you’re purchasing an unfinished product that still needs polishing, bug fixing and may even miss core features.

In the past, I’ve purchased Early Access games on Steam like Universim, Goblins of Elderstone, Dead Cells, Risk of Rain 2, Oxygen Not Included, Littlewood, Undholm, Slay The Spire, and Silver Knight. A variety of games, as you may be able to tell, that all had some sort of premise going for them that I found intriguing. 

I love base/city building games that require some sort of understanding of certain mechanics of the game while also some foresight and strategy when it comes to planning. Universim and Goblins of Elderstone are games just like that. 

In Universim, you are playing god, giving your little settlers a helping hand to have them reach higher stages. You work your way up from the Stone Age to Modern Age and… Well, when I played it there was still just the Stone Age or my colony just died at some point thanks to people getting stuck in the ground, getting sick but not treating themselves, starving although there’s food right next to them, or the A.I. just wandering off into the distance for no apparent reason. Highly frustrating. But the game keeps getting updates and I can be proud of being one of those guys whose names get featured on a Monument in-game for being there in Early Access and living through this journey. I saw different stages of the game so far, improvements to the game, minor and bigger updates, and eventually, I’ll see a finished game that I’ve seen from the get-go.

And just recently a new update came out that lets your expectation skyrocket (sorry, had to) through the roof! Awesome!

Goblins of Elderstone is similar to Universim in some regards, as it also is a City Builder that is being published by Cryptivo. GoE’s premise is completely different, though, in some regards as you are controlling Goblins, giving them jobs, making them survive waves of enemies and harsh winters while also expanding, trading, and eventually befriending other races or going to war with them.

In earlier stages of it, it was just a shell of a game with some basic features like placing buildings and assigning jobs, while not having much more content to offer. And well, over the course of time they added in new jobs, new functions, actual effects for the gods you worship, and just recently more features and two new jobs/buildings: The Kindler (+ Kindler building) who produces firewood out of logs, and The Enforcer (+ jail) who “encourages your Peons to work better” and who locks up rioting or mischievous Peons in his jail. Interesting mechanics and I can’t wait to see more of this game as I love those titles where you’re not the “good” humans who slaughter those monsters or who are super-advanced, etc., but that’s material for a future post.

While there are games like this that are getting updated frequently and have nice features going for them from the get-go, there are also games in Early Access that, from what I’ve seen, are quite polished or even nearly finished, with only a few tweaks and fixes needed . 

A game like that is Dead Cells!
When I started playing, I ended up binging it as the combat felt really fluid, the itemisation was interesting and lead to some strategy-possibilities, and as there were other takes on the Metroidvania and Rogue-like genre than the ones that I’ve already seen. I didn’t regret buying that game at all. Maybe it was due to the fact that the game has been in development for a while at that point and that I only found it rather randomly a few years ago… I mean, it left Early Access only half a year later if I remember correctly. A few months later, the game received another few major updates and I doubt that they will stop any time soon. The last major update was released on August 13th, while the latest (minor) update got out on Oktober 9th. Updates are quite frequent in this one and overall I just love the combat and the rate of new content. I can’t wait to see what the finished game looks like.

Also, Motion Twin, the studio behind Dead Cells decided to split up into two groups for Dead Cells’ Future: Those that won’t work on it anymore (aka Motion Twin) and those that “will keep on keeping on” (aka Evil Empire). Evil Empire will still work in the same building as Motion Twin and it’s still the same people working on it but in the end this means that there are going to be a lot more Dead Cells updates while also more interesting games in the future without having to compromise! I’m excited!

And yeah, those are good examples of Early Access Titles but there are also bad ones. Games where the devs have just given up. Games where the devs left the players with an empty shell or no game at all. 

Risk of Rain 2, a great game by Hopoo Games with tons of frequent updates!

Cube World was a big thing quite some time ago and the devs seemingly vanished due to personal reasons. There are circumstances that one can’t easily resolve and depressions (apparently they were a reason) are something severe that one shouldn’t just shrug off like it’s nothing. Releasing an “imperfect” game was one of Wollay’s fears! But Cube World indeed is a game where some people thought that it was a scam of sorts, though I doubt that that was the intention.

In Cube World’s case, the game was luckily released only recently and it had some drastic changes to its systems and mechanics, which I won’t talk about in this post. Also, those people that bought the Alpha version of the game, received this newer version of the game for free on Steam.

But there’re other cases of Indie Devs that players put trust into and that had a premise going for their games but that didn’t deliver at all, as it was in Silver Knight’s case. The game reminded me of Undertale but with more of a Rogue-like/Dungeoncrawler theme and while it sounded interesting, the game’s core mechanics are just.. unfinished or just not there. The hitboxes don’t align at all, the music is the same track in a loop wherever you are. You don’t have a save function at all nor a tutorial and in the end, you purchased an empty shell of a game that looked interesting but turned out to be a prank of sorts.

Those cases are bad for the players, of course, but also for small indie devs that may rely on Kickstarter or Early Access to fund their game careers. When people get scammed, they lose faith and trust, and that harms other devs, which I find quite bothersome as I’ve met Indie Devs that are great and that worked on their games with a burning passion.

Another great EA-title that only recently left the Early Access stage! Lovely!

So, I’d say that I’ll keep on trusting in some Early Access titles here and there when they show promise, and I’ll still hope that they make it to the end and can present us a great game that we all appreciate. 

If you didn’t read those posts already, I’d recommend The Stray Sheep #18-24 where I covered interviews with some Indie Devs at this year’s GamesCom. I highly recommend checking those devs out on Twitter and follow their upcoming releases! 

Anyways, have a nice day and take away whatever you want from this post!

Edit: Fixed some typos here and there while also linking Naihin’s post about Cube World in that paragraph as he talks a bit more about it.