Looking forward to Pawnbarian

One of the titles that I’ve been eyeing for a while now has been Pawnbarian! It’s supposed to come out in Q1 of 2021 and I’d be happy to review it once it’s out… but for now, I’ll have to make do with the first few impressions I got from the demo that is available here

Developer: j4nw
Publisher: j4nw
Genre: Minimalistic, Roguelike, Chess, Puzzle, Card Game
Release Date: Q1, 2021
Played on: PC
Available on: PC

Pawnbarian is a roguelike based on Chess. Play as a brave fighter of the Northern Chesslands, always on the lookout for a new challenge. Fight your way through the dungeon, one turn at a time! There are more characters planned for the full version as well and while the Pawnbarian may sound like more of a “more brawn than brain” type of character, he actually offers a lot of versatility. By moving to the top row, having three pawns in hand or by starting the turn at the top row, you get to promote a pawn into a queen. Other classes/characters will have other rulesets.

Combat is turn-based, leaving you plenty of time to plan out your next few moves. When it’s your turn, you have limited moves, indicated by the yellow pieces below the chessboard. Some of your pieces (indicated at the top left by a lightning symbol) refresh these moves, allowing you to move another time. 

The enemies also move in different patterns and all feature their own mechanics. Some of them are nimble, meaning that they’ll dodge away when you attack them unless they’re against a wall. Others spread blight, have more range or split into multiple enemies upon death. 

By hovering over enemies, you get to see these rules yourself and hence learn about them. At the same time, you can see how much damage you receive when you hover on different tiles. 

If you’re familiar with chess, you’ll know how the pawns, rooks, knights, and so on move. If you’re not, then the game will help you out by showing you the moves that you’re allowed to do with the selected piece. 

When you get hit, you lose hearts, indicated by the (anatomically correct) heart symbols below the chessboard. Hearts can be guarded via shields that you get for moving pieces with a shield symbol. At the same time, you can reacquire hearts in the shop that you encounter after every floor. At the top of the chessboard, you can see your current gold as well as a bunch of gold chunks and gems. Every turn one of those gold chunks vanishes but if you manage to finish the current floor with any of them left, you’ll be able to spend that gold in the next shop. This is a somewhat interesting mechanic as you have to try to solve these floors in the least turns possible… but at the same time, you’ve got to be careful and not get too far ahead of yourself as every floor can be deadly!

In the shop, you’re able to upgrade your deck by adding more effects to your pieces. At first, I thought that the pieces there would get replaced by other pieces… This was an oversight of mine as it actually says that you get permanent upgrades for your cards… in the tutorial… that I skipped. The tutorial itself is quite beginner-friendly. It tells you the basics of the game within seconds and lets you experience two floors before heading into the actual tutorial dungeon. I somehow completely missed the fact that there is a tutorial, although I’m blaming that on my headache.

What I love about this game (or the demo of the game, to be more precise) is the fact that the art style is super minimalistic. It shows you what you need to see without overwhelming you with all kinds of gimmicks, UI shenanigans or complicated tooltips. Instead, you see what you want to see immediately – and if you need to know more, you hover over tiles and pieces.

At the same time, the game is able to communicate rather well where the damage comes from, how much damage is dealt and where/how you died. After about 90 minutes, I actually was able to defeat the demo dungeon, which I was quite surprised about. The Blight mechanic, as well as the Nimble mechanic, were somewhat hard to deal with but I’d imagine that without those, the game would be rather plain and easy to beat. I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of other enemies the full game will have to offer.

Apart from the interesting and challenging mechanics, as well as the minimalistic art style, the game also features a lovely soundtrack so far that doesn’t get on your nerves after you’ve listened to it for an hour and a half. I mean, a lot of demos feature the same track over and over again, which can be quite annoying. In this demo, the gentle sounds convey this feeling of adventure quite well while at the same time allowing you to relax while playing.

Pawnbarian is a lovely chess-roguelike hybrid that adds its own twist to the Rogue-formula while sticking to the core premise of permadeath and turn-based combat. Personally speaking, I’m really looking forward to seeing the other enemies as well as the other characters that will be introduced into the full version. 

If you want to, you can check out Pawnbarian over here. It is also available on itch.io if you want to play it over there! Make sure to wishlist it if you haven’t yet – and if you want to, you can always try out the demo over there as well!

I hope you enjoyed this post! Feel free to leave feedback or any suggestions for other demos to check out!
Take care!

Cheers!

AFK Arena exists

So, a while ago, I played Raid: Shadow Legends for the very first time and didn’t like it at all. Eventually, after that, someone prompted me to try out AFK Arena since I was talking badly about it without having tried it out at all, and… yeah, they had a point. I was talking badly about idle games and them not being my cup of tea because I just don’t like them, despite not having tried every single one of them. I tried some… but not all.

In an empiric sense, I can’t make a judgement on idle games as a whole yet. I can just say that I disliked most of them so far…

Anyways: What is AFK Arena? Well, according to the ads that I’m getting on all of my YouTube videos, it’s an animated 2D turn-based idle-game with Gacha-mechanics and you don’t have to grind to get strong. There are misleading ads on YouTube that tell you that you have choices in the game and puzzles and some weird isometric thing where a lion-character called Brutus is performing a spin-attack on a lot of enemies that all drop a lot of gold.

I couldn’t find the bad trailers but the YouTube Channel has the story trailer here.

And lately, I’ve been getting worse ads. There is a bad German dub on it and usually, you’ll see the same actors telling you about how good the common characters are that you get instead of the epic ones and how little you have to do in the game. Some ads share “tricks” to unlock free heroes. Others tell you about how video games are a waste of time and how they made them sick and how AFK Arena fixes that as you can, I guess, use your time productively? I’m getting mixed signals. Are games bad? Are mobile games not games, too? Isn’t AFK Arena also bad then if all games are bad?

Anyways, so I installed it and there actually is a story of sorts. Basically, the god of death was jealous of the peace in the overworld and hence created the Hypogeans, the main antagonist/villain faction in the game, to destroy Dura, the goddess of the Living, I guess. Dura, being super graceful and not wanting to die, sent mortals to fight the Hypogeans. That didn’t really work out since she got weakened a lot and used her last power to scatter seven divine artefacts over the world and now a lot of time passed and nothing happened but something will probably happen. Idk.

Note: I’m going to include pictures of characters from the wiki because I forgot to take screenshots. If you don’t believe me that I’ve played the game, I’ll reinstall it and shove it in your face. But I really deslike it, and here’s why.

Honestly, no clue why they created an actual alright-ish story if they didn’t plan on rebranding around it… “Legends of Esperia” or “Tales of Dura” or anything else could have turned this into some sort of Anime or show or proper game. Instead, we have AFK Arena, a game that is all about being AFK, as the name suggests.

Anyways, in the beginning, you get to chose between two heroes: Zaphrael and Lucretia, who kind of stand for a good vs bad kinda choice. Obviously, I have chosen Lucretia, the Betrayed. She’s a Hypogean character that is agility-based and does a lot of damage. Zaphrael wasn’t my cup of tea. I was hoping to get to play more Hypogean characters but haven’t encountered any at all so far really… which feels like a missed opportunity.

As time went on, we defeated enemies in combat and started accumulating more and more diamonds, gold and experience. Diamonds can be used to summon heroes (among other things) that most of the time are common, rare or sometimes potentially legendary. Most heroes can be upgraded into higher rarities, using copies of the same hero. It doesn’t have as “many” characters as Raid: Shadow Legends but it has a lot more unique ones that aren’t just recoloured, especially due to the faction-system.

There are seven different factions: Wilders, Graveborns, Maulers, Lightbearers, Celestials, Hypogeans, and Dimensionals. Having three, four or five heroes of the same faction in a team (max 5) grants your heroes up to 25% bonus attack damage and 25% bonus HP. Having three of one faction and two of another adds 15% bonus attack damage and 15% bonus HP, instead. Celestials basically contribute to this – so you can, in theory, play four Wilders and have Zaphrael in your rows to unlock the 5 Wilder bonus. The Hypogeans, however, grant you a bonus independently. Having one Hypogean grants you +30% defence, having more adds other bonuses. Hypogean heroes deal and receive bonus damage to and from Celestials.

The other four factions have an advantage-disadvantage-system similar to other games, with IE Wilders dealing more damage to Graveborn and receiving more damage from Maulers while also being neutral to Lightbearers. This adds a little bit of strategy to your game but most of the time you’d end up just playing your strongest characters or levelling up the character you like the most… and it works. Really well actually. I would have liked to play Graveborns but they just do not have any characters that I like… Wilders, however, are cute and interesting and have a lot of supportive characters that tickle my fancy.

So, there are different “classes” of characters and you get to level them up and try out different formations… so there is a bit of strategy involved in the game… Generally speaking, though, you can just put in anything and everything and it will work. While some characters are stronger against other ones, you don’t really have to care about that as you only care about having strong characters in your party. Just force your way through the game and you’ll be fine. Occassionally, you’ll notice how one character is underperforming so you replace them with someone else and you’ll be fine again. Changing the position of characters sometimes helps, too… having a healer is super important in later fights but then you’ll need to draw one from the gacha mechanic… and since luck isn’t always on your side, you instead have to level your characters until they’re overlevelled. Similarly, some characters come with only three abilities while others have four, so you eventually wanna get those with more abilities since they’re better than your normal ones. The game feels a bit pretentious as it gives you all of these classes, races, and abilities,… but in the end it’s pay-to-win anyways. The top-ranked players have put money into the game and continue to get better at the game since they have better characters. You can make it quite far into ranked against other people but generally speaking those that spend money at the game have a lot better ways of making it in the game. They have higher winrates and better success chances as they most likely have the better characters. The Guildmaster in my OwO guild approved of this statement, btw. AFK Arena’s PvP is pay-to-win-based. There is no skill needed.

Meanwhile, if you wanna play it casually, you don’t need to pay anything at all. You can grind away and chill… uh, I mean, there is no grind. Nope, no grind. Grinding is bad after all – that’s at least what the ads say! Alas, I started playing four Wilders+Lucretia for a lot of time and then eventually switched over to five Wilders because I like more damage. Then I needed to get the levels all the way up. There is a Crystal that you place heroes into, so that you don’t need to level them up. They instead take over the level of the lowest-level-character in your top five. Alas, you want to level your top-5 to be able to exachange heroes at any given time and keep the levels high. At the same time, you need good gear, and you want some of those uniques… and you also need to get missions done and use diamonds that you’re given to be able to afford the summons at the Tavern.

“You don’t need to grind like in other games”, they said. “You just AFK.” But I needed gold and experience… and the campaign wasn’t giving me enough and also was hard to get to, since you can’t target the enemies at all. Your character hit targets and if they don’t finish off the right ones, they’ll die.

“So what do you do to get stronger?”, I asked in chat.
“Just go AFK”, someone else responded.
“But can’t I just grind something to gain more levels or gold or whatever?”
“Send nudes”, responded some other person. There was no report button, so I didn’t know what to do about that creep.
“You don’t grind in this game. You just AFK.”, said yet another, and I felt as if they were just repeating words they heard in some badly mixed ad on YouTube.

In times like these, I would have loved a good grind. Like, when you want to improve your light level in Destiny 2 and farm some Strikes… or when you clear bounties to be able to get some mod for your weapons… or when you kill fifteen Ebony Odogarons in MHW and still didn’t get that Ebony Odogaron Mantle that is keeping me from posting about Monster Hunter World (there is the reason), so you go at it again in another session and kill it another five times with no drops… and then you’re tired and don’t want to play MHW again for a while so you just don’t do it anymore until 2021. It’s a bit annoying… but when it drops, it’s glorious and satisfying and you’re happy. In AFK Arena, it gets grindy inevitably. But you cannot grind without going AFK. So, if you really like the game, you don’t get the chance to play it, since you have to do something else instead. According to the ads, other games are bad, however, so… uh… mixed signals. What do I do? What do I do?

Ah, right, business! You gotta do business stuff and come back in two hours… or six hours…. or twelve… yeah, still didn’t have enough quite yet for the level ups you need… I guess I just need to hop onto two other guys’ shoulders and wear a trenchcoat in order to get more business stuff done…

Eventually, I uninstalled the game and returned it two weeks later, after seeing that Ainz Ooal Gown from Overlord made it into the game, and indeed I got gold and experience for not playing the game. It was stupid. When you want to progress and get the satisfaction of gearing up your favourite characters, you can’t because you need to wait for whatever reason. In the meantime, you’ll do nothing, I guess, or you play actual games with actual gameplay. Games where you control your characters and where you don’t just spin a slot machine to get more units to use.

Nemora, Arden, and Solise were my favourite characters by the way. I liked them a lot. I won’t miss them, I guess.

So, in the end, I kind of understood why people like the game: It’s basically a clicker game. When you’re not participating in the game, you accumulate gold, experience, diamonds, and gear by just idling. If you upgrade your characters and use them in the campaign, you get more and more gold through the AFK function. Eventually, however, it gets grindy. Which is understandable since it’s a game with a late-game at one point. But the game markets itself as this “non-grindy idle game that is a ton of fun and very strategic” when it actually is quite grindy and nothing like its premise, I guess.

And well, clicker games are great. You have to put in the work yourself at the beginning (or use an auto-clicker). Then you upgrade the different thingies to unlock more ways of clicking in the background. Then you essentially upgrade your thingies even more… and then you do it even more. And then you get bored and move on to other games because… it’s just a clicker game anyways.

Another issue with AFK Arena, however, is that it’s a glorified slot machine really… I’m not entirely sure about how I should feel about a game with a gacha mechanic when it also has cute and cool characters in it that kids could be drawn to… Like, the problem with Gacha games is that they reward you every now and then but often do not do it enough. So, you spin again and again until you get something good. You get dopamines, feel a kick, and suddenly you’re addicted. I guess it’s not that extreme in most cases but I still get a tad worried about loot boxes and slot machines and stuff in games. Not entirely sure how to feel about it, just yet, so I’ll have to think about that some more in the future. Potential writing prompt here, fellow bloggers!

At last, I don’t like false marketing.

Getting to level 100 didn’t take as little time as in the ads. There are no choices. There is little to no strategy involved. Sure, it’s free to play and there is technically no need for you to play it… but I’m not sure if those are selling points. The game doesn’t make you feel energized and healthy again. The common heroes suck.

I guess the ads don’t really have the goal of promoting the game but rather of provoking you into talking negatively about it. In one of the ads they draw ten heroes each to see who’s better at… gambling? And then someone wins because they get this overpowered character who seems to be broken… so uh, while it was about quantity of legendary heroes in the beginning, it suddenly was about who gets that broken character that I’ve never seen anyone use. In the same manner they were battling each other in a different ad, talking about how their characters are better than the other ones and then someone shows up and just brags about this max level character… I don’t know. The ads are super annoying at best and kind of want you to shittalk them because bad PR is good PR. Some of the ads want you to try out the game to see if it really is that bad after all… and some others are just weird…

I don’t think that AFK Arena is a good game at all. I kind of liked the idea of using Wilders and thinking about strategies and stuff… but once I realised that strategy doesn’t matter at all, I was quickly disappointed again.

Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk. See you next time. Happy Holidays.

Post-Post commentary:

I never really understand why games have to market themselves in that self-ironic way where they try to upset you in order to try it out yourself… or where they just lie to you in order to get you try out the game. There is an ad with an evolution-mechanic that you use in combat, which is just not true… One ad also shows an easy grind from an isometric perspective that isn’t part of the game. Generally, I feel like this is a bit of a problem with ads these days, especially on the mobile market. To get attention, you need to get lots of reviews or impressions of it… but reviews themselves mean nothing as they can be bought, while “impressions” doesn’t really describe it too well as the only relevant stat is the number of downloads.

AFK Arena doesn’t care about the player experience as long as you download the game, adding to their number of total downloads. I feel like that’s a problem of sites like the Google PlayStore and iTunes and whatever where downloads get put over average playtime and other scores. When people give it a negative review, it doesn’t really matter since at least ten bot accounts gave it five stars without writing a single word. Only caring about the number of downloads means that the same games on mobile app stores are in the top-ten, each and every year – and that’s a bummer.

At last, I don’t want to just shit on games like that. People that like the game are allowed to like it, just like how I’m allowed to dislike it. I feel like I’ve been fair about what I didn’t like and what I criticized about the game, its premise and the false marketing. If that stuff doesn’t bother you, that’s totally okay. You can enjoy the game regardless of my opinion and I’m not judging ya. It’s just an opinion that I published on my blog. So, no hate there.

If you wanna share your opinion on it or if you think I’ve been disrespectful or whatever, let me know in the comment section or hit me up via DMs on Twitter or Discord. Hope you have had some nice holidays and I wish you a great start into 2021. Stay awesome, stay healthy, and live and let live. 🙂

Cheers.

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

Looking forward to Call of Myth

There is just something about H.P. Lovecraft’s universe and stories that one could describe as “out of this world”. The way Lovecraft manages to cast a spell on you and get you to devour his stories sentence after sentence, word after word, is truly enigmatic. Not to mention that the topics of his stories and the genre of Cosmic Horror generally offer a lot of creative freedom when it comes to other sorts of media like video games, movies, stories, books, etc.

Today I wanted to write about Call of Myth, an upcoming CCG with some rather interesting mechanics that you need to try out for sure. Just like in other CCG, your cards feature traits, effects, and stats. The attack stat determines the amount of damage your card deals to the target enemy while the health stat determines how much damage your ally can take. Apart from that, CoM introduces a sanity-stat that works around the Madness-effect that your deck has.

Developer: Kadath studio
Publisher: Kadath studio
Genre: Lovecraftian, CCG, Strategy, Card Game, Free-to-Play
Release Date: Soon! - Demo: December 15th, 2020
Played on: PC
Available on: PC, Android, iOs
Copy was sent by the developers.

When your creature dies, your terror increases, resulting in creatures with a sanity stat equal or below the terror stat to go mad. There are a few different statuses that madness can inflict, like Depression, for instance, which increases a random card’s cost in your hand by one per proc. Other madness statues include Masochism which deals damage to target creature equal to its attack, Despair which reduces the creature’s strength by half and Mania which reduces the cost of a random card in the opponent’s hand by two!

This Sanity/Terror/Madness mechanic is really interesting as it changes how you play the game. Hastur, one of the leaders, can make an enemy lose all of its sanity to activate your madness. Other cards destroy insane creatures, steal them or have other interesting mechanics among them.

On top of that, the game plays in two lanes, making positioning rather important. You can only place melee characters in the front row and gunslingers in the back, although there are also a lot of flexible characters that can be placed anywhere. Gunslingers can attack without getting attacked back while Non-Euclidean characters can ignore the Melee row to attack the enemy leader. There are a lot of possibilities with this game design and I really like a lot of its mechanics. Pair those with the items, spells, events, and other cards, and you’ve got a fantastic CCG that rivals in my opinion other more established CCGs without any issues.

Apart from that, there are also plenty of leaders with their own abilities and features. C’thulhu has regeneration when your health is at ten or below while Yog-Sototh’s events cost one energy less.

Every turn your maximum energy pool is increased by one whereas your Research-ability (draw a card) increases its cost with each usage by one, up to a maximum of twelve energy.

I feel like a lot of the mechanics in the game are rather solid and this could become a nice alternative to other CCGs for players looking for a more complex design that offers a lot of creative freedom when it comes to deck-customization.

Apart from that, the art style of the cards and the background is just awesome and fits the whole setting. A lot of the cards have interesting names and mechanics to them that fit the theme as well and while I would love to see some QoL-features akin to ones in other CCGs as well in this one, I’m sure that the full game will receive a plethora of patches or maybe even include those once it’s fully developed and out.

From what I’ve gathered, the game is still in development but you’re able to play a demo, starting tomorrow (December 15th, 2020). The full game will be free-to-play and feature an in-game-store where you’re able to get cosmetic items as well as card packs, akin to other games. Despite that, there are also plenty of ways to gain cards and items through daily missions and free currencies, although I won’t know how fast you progress until the full game is out.

Either way, I’m looking forward to this title a lot and can’t wait to play with some of my friends who’ve been getting bored with Hearthstone and Legends of Runeterra. You can wishlist Call of Myth over here on Steam.

Cheers!

Late to the Party #4 – Bioshock 1

So, it’s been a while since I last posted anything related to the Late to the Party series. The main reason for that is the fact that I’ve been busy playing games that aren’t that old On-Stream while not playing as many games Off-Stream.

Either way, in March, I started playing Bioshock 1 (Remastered) for the very first time during a 24-hour-stream (the kind that I don’t do anymore) and I really enjoyed playing it for about six hours. After that, we didn’t touch it again for quite a while since I soft-locked myself. It’s a rough time when your save file is soft-locked, no matter which save-file you’re trying to load. But more on that later.

So, what is Bioshock? Why did I want to play it? Why haven’t I played it yet?

Bioshock 1 is an Atmospheric Horror-Action-FPS game by 2K Boston in which you’re playing a man named Jack in the 1960s that is exploring the world of Rapture, an underground city, trying to find out what conspired there. You have a wide range of weapons available to you but you’re also forced to modify your DNA to become an even deadlier weapon, slinging fireballs and summoning bees and doing that kind of stuff.

But first things first, after a plane crash, we get to swim to safety to an island with a light tower where a capsule of sorts leads us deep into the sea. Once we arrive in the destroyed city of Rapture, we get to meet our first Slicers, enemies that are going crazy to receive more Adam (which is the stuff you pump into yourself to get stronger) and they attack anything and anyone. While you make your way through the world of Rapture you find out about Andrew Ryan, a businessman and objectivist, that wanted to create a utopia for society’s elite to exist outside of the government’s control and limits. Through several audio clips and tapes found in the world, we learn more about the world, while acquiring more powers (through Adam) and trying to progress further and further into the game, intending to eliminate the mastermind behind all of this!

What I really liked about the game in the first six hours of my playtime was that you were able to see that something obviously wasn’t going great with Ryan’s plan. This place called Rapture was supposed to be a utopia but ended up in ruins with flooded and destroyed areas as well as corruption, elitism, and a lot of danger. We find out more about the source of Adam, the science and research behind it, the world and what happened, as well as how the few sane people in the world are managing to come by. We go on errands, completing missions, and we can do so however we want.

I loved it.

We were able to be stealthy or more like Rambo. We can shoot our way through the game or play a spell slinger of sorts. The game gives you a lot of freedom which eventually transitions into the choices as well. Jack is trying to find a way to escape Rapture and obviously, needs to get his hands on more Adam. To do so, we need to defeat the iconic Big Daddies (that even I knew about) and either harvest or rescue the Little Sisters. Harvesting gives you more but it will kill the Little Sisters. Saving the Little Sisters grants them a life free of Adam and risks but you’ll end up with less Adam, though you may get some other rewards. This whole thing is completely optional most of the time and the morality behind it influences the ending.

But then I got stuck and didn’t play it again until October the 7th and October the 8th where I played through the game during a Spooktober stream.

The whole dark and gritty aesthetic that Rapture presents to you is just lovely and scary. I got goosebumps from some of the score’s tracks alone, while the enemies are beautifully gruesome, scary and just creative. The Big Daddies, for instance, are bio-engineered humans in diver suits while Spider Slicers jump and crawl away, shooting you from the ceiling. Overall, enemies like that seemed super fun to me and I really enjoyed battling them in most of the scenarios while using these 60s weapons, magical powers, and using a water puzzle of sorts to hack turrets, vending machines and other objects.

Now, the issue I had with Bioshock was that there’s a postal office of sorts with a hotel and stuff where I was supposed to photograph one of the Spider Slicers… but that Slicer was stuck in the ceiling, so I didn’t have the chance to take a snap from it. Alas, I needed to restart the last save file – a file from over an hour ago.

And then I didn’t play it again until the beginning of October… but when I reloaded and made sure that I’d take a few snapshots of the enemies that I needed, I actually was able to progress smoothly with only one crash or two in total. The story progresses quite nicely and while a lot of the “missions” felt like errands, I did actually enjoy the game a fair bit.

Ammunition and EVE (your mana) are limited, so you cannot always just fight everyone and everything. This made the game rather fun, especially as I was able to customize perks and skills to fit my needs!

Honestly, I wish I had played Bioshock earlier. I’m looking forward to playing the second game eventually! Bioshock is a great game and 2K really outdid themselves with it!

What has your experience been with the Bioshock franchise and the first game? Did you play the games/this game? Did you like it? Can you recommend the franchise as a whole or maybe just certain titles? Let me know!

Cheers!

Steam Game Festival: Autumn Edition – Part 2

Today, I wanted to take another look at some other demos. 

Just like yesterday, the Steam Game Festival Autumn Edition is still a thing and it’s going to be a thing for another few days, so make sure to check out its page for some more information and some cool demos. 

Neurodeck

Neurodeck is a difficult card-based Roguelike Dungeon Crawler with a psychology-theme. Dive into your psyche, challenge your fears and face your phobias to defeat them through the power of life-inspired cards.

The game feels alright. You have to balance your two main stats: Your sanity and your stamina. To play cards you need to invest action points that refresh each round or get refreshed using card effects. As you use different cards, you require different costs of your stamina. Your Sanity resembles your Health pool and can be restored using hugs and snacks and other card effects. Most of the time, you’ll fight phobias (enemies) that inflict status effects such as Sorrow (lock cards for a turn at the end of your turn) or Anxiety, which I find quite interesting overall…

…but for whatever reason, I don’t like Neurodeck too much. It is very strategic but it doesn’t feel as strategic as Slay The Spire or Ring of Pain, for instance. You have traits and equipment that you can get throughout the run but the game does poorly to explain those systems. Combat feels a bit too slow, despite it being similar to Slay The Spire which feels quite a lot faster and more strategic. I should like Neurodeck but for whatever reason, it is not my cup of tea, which is totally fine but just something I noticed over the course of half an hour or so. If you wanna try it out, you can download the demo over here

Ponpu

Ponpu is an action-packed party game that is heavily inspired by Bomberman. Play as one of four different ducks (?) and bomb your way to victory. Since I don’t have a second controller, I wasn’t able to play the local co-op and hence, only tried out the Store Mode that features a whole world with different areas, levels and bosses.

Using the A-button you place down explosive eggs that either detonate after a while or when they hit something. Using the B-button you shield yourself, stunning enemies in the vicinity and propelling your egg forward so that it either destroys the environment or damages enemies. 

Since it’s heavily inspired by Bomberman the gameplay doesn’t feel too innovative. What’s really great about Ponpu, though, is the hand-drawn art style, the weird but cool music and the enemy and character design, that I personally enjoyed a lot. If you search for a game to play with friends, I’d reckon that Ponpu could be right up your valley. The single-single player-campaign was quite nice. The other modes include a paint battle, coin battle, death battle and some other modes that you may know from Bomberman already. You can find the demo and wishlist the game over here.

Webbed

Webbed is a physics-based 2D Puzzle Platformer where you swing through the trees, spin sticky webs and make friends with bugs – Oh, and you play a very adorable spider!

I’ve been following Webbed for some time already on Twitter and was quite excited to finally play it this time around! Despite my big fear of spiders, I really like the design of the critter that we’re playing and – worst case – you can still turn all spiders into blobs using Arachnophobia mode. The demo plays a day before the events of the actual game (that should come out in 2021) and features you getting to know the controls and the different bees, flies, moths, ants and other insects that inhabit the demo-forest. You can swing and fly through the air, eat bugs, collect pollen for the bee next-door. You also get to spin your own webs in a very nice fashion and while there is not much to do in the demo, it certainly is still a lot of fun to play as a spider and actually be nice and not pop up in some corner of the room and be disgusting and horrifying and whatever. 

Anyways, you can find the demo and wishlist the game over here! I highly recommend it to you! Lots of fun!

Xuan Yuan Sword VII

Being developed by Softstar, I’m not sure if this is still an Indie Game or not. Either way, Xuan Yuan VII Sword seemed interesting as its demo was available during the latest Steam Game Festival and as it seems to combine Chinese mythology with Action-RPG mechanics.

Play as Taishi Zhao, a calm and reliable swordsman who accidentally got involved in a tragic fate and now has to start a journey to find out about the truth. At first, I thought that this game was really nothing special combat-wise. You have your light and heavy attacks. You can parry. You can dodge away… felt like the classic Action-RPG-experience to me… but then I got introduced to the Martial Arts Stances that unlock different variations of your heavy attacks with bonus effects and special attacks that have a cooldown. On top of that, you have different skill trees and trinkets that you can equip and change to customize your play style. Also, a glimpse at the inventory reveals that your weapon apparently consists of multiple parts that may be exchangeable, improving different aspects of your weapon. Overall, I really enjoy the demo. While the story feels generic and slow, combat is actually a ton of fun! 

So, after an hour, I was able to play through the tutorial and the first boss fight as well as some other small fights. The story feels generic at first but the loading screens tease different empires and mythological aspects to the story that I’d look forward to, personally. Combat was where the game really shines and in case, you wanna play it yourself, go visit the store over here.

F.I.S.T.: Forged In Shadow Torch

F.I.S.T. is a challenging Metroidvania Action Platformer where you play as a rabbit with an exoskeleton and you battle against enemies. Story-wise, you’re playing as Rayton, a former resistance war soldier who’s been living in seclusion ever since the Machine Legion invaded and colonized Torch City – a city inhabited by animals. After his friend was forcibly arrested, Rayton gets his weapon back and gets ready to strike his enemies with an iron fist! Literally!

The demo shows you two out of three weapons but oh boy, it feels so good. You can either hand out high single-target damage using your fist or you slash through enemies using the drill, featuring high AoE damage. The fist is a lot faster while the drill is able to fix you up with some nice damage if you manage to hit a few targets. Using heavy and light attacks, you’re able to perform powerful combos, grab enemies and throw them away, as well as stun-lock enemies when you time your attacks right. Overall, really satisfying! The Dieselpunk aesthetic of the game (powered by Unreal Engine 4) just looks stunning, especially when you perform some powerful combos on enemies and successfully trigger some of the stunning animations that come with them. 

The full game will feature the classic Metroidvania experience with an interconnected game map and secrets but also a total of three weapons: The fist, the drill, and the whip! F.I.S.T. has been on my wishlist for quite a while already, so I was really happy about finally being able to play it! The game’s supposed to come out in April 2021 but in case you want to play the short but fun demo yourself or maybe just wishlist the game, click here!

Superliminal

Superliminal is a First-person Puzzle game that plays with the ambiguity of depth and perspective. 

Generally, it reminded me a bit of CrowCrowCrow’s “The Stanley Parable”, mostly due to the style and the Narration that the game uses. The demo lets you play the first few puzzles where you essentially get to make objects bigger, smaller, move them away or create new ones using the angle and distance that you look at them. I’m actually quite excited about playing this game myself when I get my hands on it! 

The game’s coming out on November 5th and honestly, I really enjoyed the general vibe as well as the creative puzzles in it. You can check out the demo yourself over here

Undungeon

Undungeon is a hand-drawn Action Roguelike with RPG elements where you travel between dimensions and change the world around you in an attempt to reconstruct the shattered Multiverse. I’ve been following the Instagram account for a while now and it looked really promising so far! In the demo, you play as Void, an interesting character that uses normal attacks and mines and has some other interesting abilities – and you try to find the Heralds.

The game feels quite nice actually. There is real-time combat and you essentially are able to equip different body parts for different abilities on each of the characters. While the demo has only Void as a character, the full game has six heroes (like Void) planned, as well as some other dimensions and new abilities and story-lines for each of the characters. What bothered me a bit is that it doesn’t feel too good to hit enemies or objects in the world. You strike something and it seems to just slash through it without an additional sound-effect or something that signifies that you hit the target. Personally, that’s something that I would have liked a lot more in this game. After all, the animations in combat look great! Why wouldn’t they also sound great? The story is a bit complicated to explain and I’m not sure I get it either… but I enjoy the travelling mechanic and the way that the story seems to get connected eventually with some bits and pieces that you learn through conversations. 

At some point in the game, the developer arrives and wants to talk to you. He can’t leave the game until you wishlist it, so if you want to do that or maybe talk to him in the game as well, check out the demo and the steam page over here! If you’re not convinced yet, you can also end his suffering and send him home by stabbing him in the gut. Your choice!

Castle Flipper 

Castle Flipper is a Medieval First-Person Simulation where you clean, destroy and rebuild houses in a similar fashion to House Flipper! 

At first, I thought it was by the same devs as House Flipper… but it’s not. It’s by Pyramid Games who also made Occupy Mars: The Game. The game plays similar to how House Flipper works. You’re tasked with restoring a house or furnishing it or just cleaning an area. When you finish those tasks/quests, you earn gold that you then can use to build your dream Castle… or House or whatever. The game feels rather janky, though. I cannot build up the second floor without placing a ton of walls on the first wall, resulting in a rather limited environment that House Flipper doesn’t have. The game also limits you with the resources that you have. Building materials don’t grow on trees… or rather, they do but they also run out and it’s annoying. 

Maybe it’s not fair to compare this to House Flipper but House Flipper was at least a bit more fun and left you with more creative freedom. Occupy Mars also felt rather janky, from what I remember, so maybe it’s just a thing that Pyramid Games does with its games. If you want to try it out yourself, you can do so over here. I personally didn’t enjoy it too much when I noticed how limited you actually are. 

Monster Prom 2: Monster Camp

I’m actually a fan of Monster Prom, so I’m actually quite excited about this release. Instead of the usual school setting, we’re now at a Camp and the demo lets you play two turns with 9 events and some “smol surprises”. The final game will feature 360 events, 50+ characters, 20+ secret endings, 40+ drinks, 2 prologue minigames, and lots of new special outfits! 

For anyone that doesn’t know Monster Prom: It can be best described as a competitive dating sim. You are tasked with finding a date until Prom Night – and to do so, you go to different places and talk to the person that you like and eventually, you may end up with them liking you and going with you to Prom. Oh, and the cast of characters mostly consists of monsters, demons, and other interesting personalities! 

In the demo, you essentially play a four-player game with two rounds aka 8 events that you do by selecting different places and by making different choices. In one scenario, we got lost in the woods and were about to starve, so Damien wanted us all to cut off our arms and eat it for the sake of survival. Luckily, a pizza delivery person stops by and is completely lost. We have to convince them that this is the place that she’s looking for… so instead of convincing her, we end up doing the creative/bold way: By glueing animals together and sewing a heart to one of them. There we go! For whatever reason, it worked out just fine and I got boldness and creativity for it! These stats are important as they influence the way you react to different choices and scenarios. On top of that, you can get away with certain choices when you’re bold, creative, charming or smart enough. Just like in real life! 

Honestly, I love Monster Prom’s concept and everything. The conversations are fun and intriguing. At times it gets weird, sometimes it’s hilarious or just plain cute. Highly recommend the first game here (remind me to link back the review here once I’ve finished editing it!). The demo for the second game that, quote on quote, is coming out “SOON!” can be found over here – so check it out and wishlist it yourself!

Ring of Pain

Honestly, I love this game way too much and I’ve only played demos so far… it’s another card-based roguelike-ish dungeon crawler set in a dark and horrifying world. 

We already interviewed Simon Boxer from Twice Different more than a year ago at last year’s GamesCom and we even took a few other looks at the game so far, so I’ll just refer to those posts in case you want to see some screenshots and more information. Generally, this game didn’t change too much. The animations are a lot more polished and the stats and different items got changed a little bit here and there, so overall, it’s still difficult but satisfying and very much up my alley! Highly anticipating this title!

If you want to check out the demo, you can do so over here! Check out my other posts on Ring of Pain if you want to! 

Black Border

Black Border is a political game where you’re tasked with controlling papers at the border. The game is heavily inspired by Papers, Please and… I feel like it’s a rip-off.

And I don’t like to use the word “rip-off” or “copy” or whatever, but the systems, the speech, the rules, and even the responses feel like they were copy-pasted into the game from Papers, Please. The developer mentions that they are “inspired” by Papers, Please and they prompt the player to check the original out themselves… but I just don’t feel like playing a game that has no identity and that is just there to try and copy what another game did. 

Black Border is a Papers, Please rip-off that wasn’t even “better” or “as good”, so I’m honestly not a fan of it at all. You can try it out yourself if you want to over here. I’ll also link you Papers, Please over here so that you can play that yourself. Surely, while the styles are generally different, Black Border just doesn’t seem to have any new ideas to bring to the table, which is a bummer. It’s essentially a skin that you purchase of a different game – with the original game looking and being better. I’m sorry if that sounds harsh but… it looks and feels like a copy and I’m not a fan of plagiarism.

That’s essentially it for the Steam Game Festival Autumn Edition!

I wanted to try out a few other games. After all, Stronghold Warlords, Undying, Pumpkin Jack, Dwarfheim, Haven, Manifold Garden, Say No More, and Backbone looked really interesting. There are a fair few titles that are on my wishlist that also are available as demos during the Festival and honestly, it’s just way too much for me to look at. I’ve got a few other posts that need to get finished in the next few days and I’m not sure if I have the time to look at those. If I do, it may also be too late and the Steam Game Festival may already be over… I’ll see what I can do about it! 

Either way, I hope you enjoyed this post. I hope you play and maybe even wishlist some of the games here! Also, stay healthy! My city has become a Corona-Hotspot and I don’t want anyone else to also get restricted! Stay at home and wear your mask and stuff!

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 “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!

Let’s talk about Hyper Scape

Hyper Scape is apparently “the new shit”. Though developed by Ubisoft, it seems to become rather popular as it introduces interesting mechanics to the BR-game genre. Here are my thoughts on it so far.

It’s a fast-take and less RNG-dependant take on the BR-genre and while I personally am not a fan of Ubisoft or battle royal games… I must say that they did a pretty good job with this title.

Drop down from the sky and plunder the city!

What’s different in Hyper Scape?

Well, first up, you’ve got a double jump and get to climb and jump around buildings which is very “Quake 3”-like. Some buildings and areas are blocked off by destructible barriers and provide you with loot – but there are no rarity levels per sé. Instead, you’re provided with a variety of weapons that you upgrade by fusing them with the same weapon, improving their damage, magazine size and other properties of them.

On top of battling enemies with shotguns, grenade launchers, your baton, snipers and other guns, you also have two abilities that you find in buildings, crates or on the ground. Essentially there is a vast variety of offensive, defensive and utility spells that allow you to outwit your opponents. By fusing them with abilities of the same type, you also enhance their cooldowns or other capabilities.

Did I hear something?

Overall, I really like this feature. In the few rounds I had so far, I didn’t really feel as if the game was dependant on luck. You’ll have to think about it in other ways: If you can’t find any upgrades for your wall-ability, you may as well try to make use of the other abilities you can find and try to upgrade those as much as possible. Even defensive abilities like the

Wall can be used offensively, as you block off escape routes for your enemies and shower them with your grenade launcher shells and mines, or you use it to boost yourself up and get some distance between yourself and the opponent.

Fashion > Damage – get some skins and stuff!

The way you use your abilities and weapons, the way you jump around the map and try to get your kit together faster than your enemies while destroying foes, is really cool and I did enjoy myself quite a bit. I also love that the rounds aren’t taking too long. You either go in Solo or with a Squad of three – and you essentially butt heads with other people until nobody’s left – or until “the crown” spawns which you have to pick up and hold for 45 seconds to win. By holding the crown, however, you also are revealed to your enemies.

Of course, the map also gets narrowed down bit by bit as the different Sectors of the Map are falling apart and turning into blue dust… i don’t know. It fits the game. Instead of just having a circle of death coming in closer, you get these different city parts that get destroyed, so you essentially know where enemies might come from and can position yourself accordingly to catch them off-guard and rain down on them.

And speaking of the Map: The city of Neo Arcadia is wonderful. It’s bright and colourful and really fits the more cartoon-y feel of the game while providing you with some nice verticality as you climb among the roofs, walk along the mono rail or hop into the theatre or other land marks. Being up on the roof gives you the advantage of being swift and mobile, though it also presents you to snipers rather easily. Meanwhile on the ground you have to be careful since the escape routes can be quite difficult.

And well, just like in Darwin Project, there is Twitch Integration. Streamers are able to invite their viewers to play the game and they are able to decide on which sectors to get destroyed or which event to start next, which can be quite interesting for viewers but I can see some issues with streamers telling their viewers to vote in their favour… although viewers don’t usually equal slaves, so I guess there won’t be any issues with it and usually events like the “infinite ammo event” or the “zero gravity event” usually tend to harm and benefit everyone equally.

My first ever kill – it must be the scottish accent that’s giving me the skill and swiftness needed for that. Also, I survived and got spot 15! Pog!

The only thing I don’t like about the game so far is the lacklustre gunplay. The first thing I liked about Destiny 2, for instance, is that the guns actually feel like they’ve got OOMPH behind them! They actually pack a punch and it feels great to shoot with them. Meanwhile, you’ve got the guns in Hyper Scape that quite often don’t really feel as destructive as they may be. The sniper feels alright but all the others don’t really convey the feeling that they’re actual guns. And don’t get me wrong: I’m completely against guns iRL… but when it comes to games… made for your personal enjoyment… shouldn’t the gunplay feel a bit better? The noises and all of that included?

And apart from that, while the games themselves can be really fast-paced and quickly done… the time it takes before getting into the next round is just way too long in my opinion. It takes a few seconds to minutes to find a new game and you have to click yourself through the battle pass progress and the missions and who killed you and where you placed and all of that before heading into a lobby… only to find a game… and then it starts… and I’d love it if you could see the battle pass stats later or opt-out of the notifications as they get a tad annoying eventually when you have to click yourself through all of them one after one – only to start the game. I mean, you can look up what you unlocked in the Hyper Scape Hub anyways. It’s not exactly needed after every game… but maybe that’s just like yelling at clouds? I don’t know… it’s not the worst thing in the world and it doesn’t bother me the most, y’know? It’s just a wee bit annoying.

Enter the Hyper Scape?

I am really enjoying this game. I guess it’s still in its open beta, so we’ll have to see how the game gets balanced and how it’s going to be received overall. I feel like there’re way too many Battle Royale titles out right now, so it’s all the more important that games like this one try to take a different approach regarding loot and combat. I might not be the best at the game yet since I’m not an FPS player but I feel like I’m doing a lot better already even after only having played a few games of it, so the learning curve might not be too steep. I just have to get better at reacting quickly!

Either way, that’s it for today’s post. I’ve been playing this now for a bit and have really been enjoying it… you can sneak in “just a quick round” in between study breaks, which is quite nice compared to other games… you don’t usually go for “just a quick round of League” or “just a quick hunt in MHW”, so this has been quite nice every now and then. It’s probably going to be one of those on-and-off games of mine, although that might change if more of my friends get into it.

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 “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 “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!