Sekiro is a ton of fun!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers.

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

Looking forward to Bright Memory

Just recently I found out about a game that has been developed by only one developer using the Unreal Engine that combines action genres with the FPS genre and looks stunning. It’s an Indie Game that has been in development for quite some time and released last year in March, actually,… and I only just found out about it. Now, Bright Memory is amazing, and I wanted to talk about the first chapter that is playable over here for not too much of a price and I also wanted to talk about my expectations of the full version, Bright Memory: Infinite.

Developer: FYQD-Studio
Publisher: FYQD-Studio, PLAYISM
Genre: Hack and Slash, FPS, Action, Indie, Boomer Shooter
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC
Copy was purchased.

As already mentioned Bright Memory combines various genres into one smooth and satisfying experience. Take a little bit of DMC, a little bit of Bioshock and maybe even a little bit of Doom and mix it with a ton of nice graphics and a lovely soundtrack… and then you’ll essentially have Bright Memory. The game’s set in an alternate universe where the SRO (Supernatural Research Organisation) is researching the so-called “Kanshou and Bakuya”, 1000-year-old relic swords that contain a mysterious substance known as the “Soul of Jiu Xuan” that has capabilities that allow you to reanimate the dead. A terrorist organisation named “SAI” infiltrates SRO in an attempt to steal top-secret data and we, playing as Sheila (one of SRO’s agents), have to stop them but accidentally hit up that Quantum Transporter and get transported to the Floating Island, an airborne continent near the North Pole where the Soul of Jiu Xuan reanimated the various beats and corpses that once populated the island.

So, the story’s kind of packed and full of information but in essence, we try to not die and to retrieve the swords and other things…. and also there’s Carter who’s the Founder of the SAI and who’s trying to stop us at all costs… There are a few bits and pieces in the plot that aren’t clear just yet but it sounds promising so far… Now, but in the game actually, we only get to see the first chapter. I had to retrieve most of this extra info from the store page that goes a bit further than the first chapter… in a way, Bright Memory is a paid demo that is filled with a lot of satisfying action, actually.

For starters, the gunplay is amazing. You’re equipped with three different guns: A shotgun, a pistol and an assault rifle. Every shot fired feels like it packs a punch and it feels good to land them. Meanwhile, you also are equipped with a plethora of skills that can be acquired throughout the game as well as a bunch of other weapons, like an EMP Force Field, a Grappling Hook that you can use offensively, and a sword that can be used to slash up enemies, blast them into the air, juggle them, or deliver light slashes from afar! Combat itself offers a lot of combo potential as switching between weapons is nearly seamless and as you can quickly dodge enemy attacks via the Shift-key and the movement directions. I believe that the game has partial controller support but I’d imagine that it would work quite well if played with the controller.

On top of the high mobility that the game offers you, you can also rake in bonus points via the Combo-Meter that is very much like DMC’s… damaging enemies can keep the combo meter up and at the end of the chapter, you’ll receive a grade of sorts based on your deaths, the time needed, the combo-time you had, as well as the points and damage you achieved. In a way, Bright Memory reminded me of Boomer Shooters like Serious Sam and Doom Eternal, which is a good thing since I have wonderful connotations when I think of those games!

The gunplay is amazing and despite the game being developed by only one person, it is fully voiced and features an amazing soundtrack and there even are secrets, achievements, subtitles and different localisations.

The best part about the game, next to the pretty graphics that rival AAA titles, is probably the sense of immersion that I’m getting from it. Obviously, I wasn’t sucked into the game yet… but there’s a lot here that works quite well for me and for the experience. For starters, you don’t see any health bars and your ammo is only displayed through the hud on your weapons. You only see what Sheila sees with her HUD on. The same goes for skill-cooldowns and other information. I feel like that works really well for First-Person Shooters like this game, especially with this mix of swordplay and gunplay where every bullet and every slash counts. I think it would be bad if I had to watch more graphical elements on the screen like the bullet count in a corner of the screen or stuff like that. Instead, you have the bullet count exactly there where you’re aiming: On the gun. Love it! Similarly, the world feels alive with “Air Serpents” (aka dragons) roaming the skies, snakes and turtles occupying the areas and even other foes coming back. While there is an easter egg that kind of breaks the immersion, I didn’t quite mind it as I had a lot of fun with it!

Now, since I don’t want to get into the two boss fights from the first chapter, I’d like to go for some speculation… What do I expect from the full game?

Well, the full game, which will release sometime in 2021, will probably feature a bunch of different chapters. Chapter 1 has been more of an introduction/demo. I had fun with it for two hours… and during Bright Memory: Infinite’s development new features will be tested/showcased in this chapter, meaning that it might actually be quite nice to tune into it now and then. I got to play through the New Game and New Game+ about four times total… so I’d imagine that all chapters are somewhere between 30 minutes to 60 minutes in length with lots of achievements and secrets left on the level. I’d love to see this trend of the game just giving you checkpoints left and right since nothing’s worse than having to start over after forgetting to save for so long, you know? Apart from that, I’d love to see the skill tree getting developed more and there being new weapons, weapon types, and maybe even weapon upgrades. The combo system already feels quite nice but I’d like it a lot if the combo counter wasn’t present at all times and if there were some special interactions if you weave in your slashes between your gun rounds, etc. Overall, I like the game, don’t get me wrong… It’s just that there have been some things that I, if I had the know-how, would have done differently. Everyone’s a critic, right?
Apart from that, I’d love to have an endless mode or some sort of modifier in the game to make runs/playthroughs harder. The game is currently being remade/turned into a full-release, so I think that it will get added… Also, I’d love it if you could see lore entries in the game and if there were costumes that you could unlock in the game. There are currently four variants to Sheila in the game but having some variants of sorts would be quite interesting, like re-colours or even SAI’s armour on her… And yes, that latter suggestion wouldn’t make any sense at all… but neither does the “Schoolgirl Sheila Costume”, so there’s that.

Let’s summarise what’d be great:
– Full Controller Support
– More Skills/Better Skill Trees
– More Weapons/Weapon Upgrades
– Endless Mode
– More Customisation
– Slower Subtitles (didn’t mention it here… but yeah, just remembered that that bothered me and Idk where to put it here)
– More Chapters
– More Enemy types

I’m looking forward to the full release and can recommend trying out Bright Memory. It’s a demo. It’s short. I know. But there you’ll find plenty of information on the game, the graphics, and everything, so… Check it out and support the developers by wish-listing it! That’d be amazing!

Anyways, that’s it for today’s post. Have you played this game yet? Are you excited for the full release? Again, it flew completely under my radar but hey, I got to it eventually, right? What are your opinions on it so far or after reading my post? Let me know!

Cheers!

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

The Slormancer (Early Access) – First Impressions

Over the past couple of years, I’ve always had a fable for Action RPGs and Dungeon Crawlers. Heading into an unknown place full of enemies and loot, exploring it, slaying foes, finding better gear and repeating that gameplay loot always felt intriguing and fun to me but as time went on, I didn’t find too many games that piqued my interest… until recently where I found The Slormancer, a new 2D ARPG by Slormite Studios that just released on Steam. Hence, today I wanted to take a look at it and tell you about my thoughts and impressions.

Developer: Slormite Studios
Publisher: Slormite Studios, Abiding Bridge, TILT
Genre: Dungeon Crawler, 2D, ARPG, Hack and Slash
Release Date: April 6th, 2021
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC
Copy was sent by the devs.
Screenshots were taken from the Press Kit. I forgot to take screenshots during my playtime so far.

The story is somewhat irrational. You were born with absolutely no skill whatsoever but kind of end up being the hero that everyone needs, even if you don’t really want to. I guess you do have some talent after all but it’s the motivation that you’re lacking, though peril seems to be the best motivator. So, you end up being wound up in the apocalypse as the Slormancer and his underling try to conquer the world again. Long story short, you pick one of three classes and try to rescue the townspeople that have vanished. 

Combat is quite classic for an ARPG. You have your health bar and your mana bar and have to watch over those resources since you need mana to cast spells and health to live. You get overwhelmed with a plethora of different foes that each on their own may not be the strongest… but the hordes can really get to you if you don’t watch your step. As you move on you unlock skills that give you powerful abilities, specific to your class. I spent most of my time playing as the “Mischievous” Mage who’s got a lot of AoE spells and high damage spells at the cost of defence… and I’ve been having a blast with it. The “Mighty” Knight was described as a tank that can take a hit but deals less damage while the “Fierce” Huntress is an agile archer with lots of attack speed. The reason why I didn’t play the other classes as much so far is probably just that I’m having way too much fun with the Mage.

The three classes have over 200 unique abilities, upgrades and passives each with unique combinations. Skills can be upgraded as well and there are a lot of different aspects that you can change the skills to. The degree of customization also extends to the randomised loot that comes in normal, magic, rare and epic grades. The properties get randomised but legendary items have more than 80 unique affixes and can be upgraded infinitely. Similarly, there are 120 unique and game-changing weapons called “Slorm Reapers” available to every class that can be levelled up and evolved as time goes on.

My favourite part about The Slormancer, however, is probably the art style. It’s this charming pixel art style that I really adore with pretty backgrounds and interesting character designs. I really like it. The spell effects look amazing and satisfying, the enemies look unique, the combat feels good most of the time and the soundtrack is beautiful, in my opinion. Presentation-wise this game is really alluring and charming which is a great change from the grim styles that other ARPGs go for usually.

Apart from that you can change all the keybindings, play with the controller if you want to, change a lot of the settings, rebind your spells and even get a free refund on the skill points you invested previously. Classes can be changed later on as well with no issue at all and there are expeditions, bosses, and lots of content available in single-player… but that’s a bit of an issue for me personally as I mostly enjoyed playing ARPGs with friends and the roadmap doesn’t indicate any plans for multiplayer… I’d love to play it with friends but maybe the devs will consider some way of implementing that into the game eventually. The game is, after all, still in Early Access.

Personally, I didn’t have any issues with the game really. I could see myself sinking a lot of time into this and I’m looking forward to seeing how the next chapters will turn out and what the end game will have to offer. I’ve really liked it so far. I’ll probably stream it in the next few days, too, over on my Twitch channel, if you wanna see some of those dungeon runs for yourself. There will be bugs probably although I haven’t encountered any… So, take everything with a grain of salt, but I’d recommend checking out the Early Access as it is quite a lot of fun so far… or at least wishlist it over on Steam.

Hope you enjoyed this post! Let me know what you think of this game so far once you get to it. Take care of yourself!

Cheers!

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

Late to the Party #8 – For Honor

I’m not sure when but at some point in time, I actually got a free copy of For Honor on my account. I think Steam was just giving it away in 2018 or something… and then again in 2019… and again last year… So, I basically grabbed it for free a few years ago and then I just never played it and didn’t even bother looking at it. For whatever reason, I just figured that “freebies are nice” and that “For Honor is probably just another shooter”, so I basically didn’t really care about it… That was until Chris, a lovely streamer from the Stream Team that I’m a part of, streamed it and actually explained to me what it was about… so… now, I’m actually kind of enjoying it a lot. Alas, welcome to another post on a game that everyone but me has tried already. I’m sorry but it seems that I am Late to the Party.

Notice: This is not a review. These are my first impressions… sometimes also my second impressions. I tend to rant about games in ways that I wouldn’t rant about games I’m reviewing… I tend to praise games in ways that I wouldn’t praise them usually… Similarly, I compare games or cover non-Indie titles that I usually wouldn’t cover… Hence, these are no review posts. Just FYI. Move on.

“1v1 me bruh” – I won by spamming poison spears!

For Honor plays in an alternative timeline where Samurai, Knights and Vikings fight against each other… constantly… for territory and *For Honor*, I guess? There is a story of sorts but nobody really cares about that, as far as I know. It’s funny to see that not even Steam’s store page tells me anything about the story. You basically play as one of the three factions, deploy units on battlefields and play in a bunch of different modes from Dominion to Breach to Skirmish. But even if you belong to the Samurai faction (like I do!), you can still play Knights and Vikings and whatnot. It’s quite cool. Winning battles rewards you with different bonuses like experience for your battle pass, for your character and steel (which is the in-game currency that you need to purchase new heroes). Your character/hero can be customised once you buy them and you can level them up to unlock different skill variants to customise your playstyle. It’s an interesting concept, for sure, especially as you get to influence the battlefield with your victories and as you get to deploy units that you get from playing a lot in order to conquer a territory.

The season goes on for ages and within the season there are a lot of different campaigns and challenges and bounties to fulfil. I like this Real-Time-Battle-system a lot and really dig the whole idea behind it. As you complete matches, you end up conquering lands or battling it out with other factions and when your faction wins at the end of the season, you leave your mark in the world, as well. 

Between matches I can pretend to be a master strategist that is deploying units to these battlefields… noice.

Combat itself also has a rather high skill-ceiling. Enemies can strike to your left, right and top, so you’ll have to block accordingly and use feints or repeated attacks to trick your enemies into blocking the wrong way. Similarly, you can dodge attacks and cause the enemy’s stamina to deplete. There are also throws and a bunch of combos, specific to each hero, resulting in a rather in-depth melee-focused combat-system. But more important than the micro is obviously the macro in most games. You can be a mechanical god but it won’t help you unless you’re doing a 1v1-Deathmatch against other enemies. Most players seem to play Dominion, which is why you’ll need to keep an eye on the different points that you need to control as well as where the enemies are heading to, where your allies are, and all of that. Having a 4v4 mode like that is quite fun. There are also other modes like Capture the Flag and whatnot… but the activity in those modes is super low and I don’t have unlimited time to waste waiting on a match over there. If it’s not going to find a match in five minutes, I feel like I’m being cheated out of my time… y’know? Also, there has to be a reason that nobody plays those modes.

Now, while combat can be quite fun… I noticed that some heroes aren’t that fun to play against. For starters, I love playing Nobushi who’s an agile Samurai wielding a Naginata (which is basically a long spear… with a sword on top of it… and that btw really exists). Naginatas are annoying IRL… In For Honor, Nubushi also uses poison attacks, so, you just spam those attacks and win by default unless people know how to counter it… which… often doesn’t work because of latency. It’s annoying, to say the least. Similarly, despite being called “For Honor”, nobody honours the duel between two warriors and because of that, the most effective strategy seems to be that you group up as four people and steamroll over the enemies, especially in spots where you can easily gang up on them from behind without any issues. It’s annoying. It’s frustrating. There isn’t really a whole lot to do against it unless Ubisoft does something against it… it feels kind of as if Ubisoft is encouraging it, though, since there is no penalty for fighting together as four against one… and there is no penalty for killing the same people over and over again at their spawn…

Hooray, I’m stomping people!

And while the different bounties and game modes are quite interesting, I kind of feel like I’m burning out already from it. It’s a multiplayer game, so maybe it will be more fun once I get some friends to play it with me (on that note… add me if you wanna play?) but as it is right now, I just get frustrated because of AFKs in my team and people grouping up as four together against one single person… and that kind of stuff is just depressing. Unless of course, I get to play Nobushi because… then I can at least spam poison attack at the enemies to counter-frustrate them. 🙂 

Just kidding.

But personally speaking, I’d rather have a game where I can enjoy myself and where the enemies also have fun… than a game where every round is either a stomp by your team or a stomp by the enemy team. Sadly, that’s the case here. It’s either win or lose. It’s usually decided at the beginning of the game. It’s never really close or anything like that and you hardly ever see a comeback, which is something I’d really like in this sort of game. Instead of actual comeback mechanics, For Honor introduces “Breaking” which is something that prevents you from respawning when you’re getting stomped in games. It’s basically a mechanic that makes frustrating games more frustrating…

Oh well,… I’ll play it for a while and drop it again. At least I get to play as a Samurai here… that’s quite rad, y’know? Another game off the list.

Cheers!

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

Magic: Legends – First Impressions

I’ve liked Magic The Gathering for quite a time. I’ve got some friends that like it so I had to get into it as well… and then we never talked about it again since they only play the physical card game and since I don’t have the funds to get a deck like that together and since I don’t see why people hate MTG: Arena so much… but either way, it’s fun and the systems are interesting and just recently I found out about Magic Legends, which just launched in the open beta. Hence, I wanted to write a bit about my first impressions of it and my general thoughts and concerns. Enjoy!

So, Magic Legends was initially announced as an MMO in the MTG universe but eventually got published as an ARPG in that universe. You play as a Plainwalker and… and… I honestly don’t know what the plot is about. The plot is a clear weak point. I found it a bit cringy and the voice acting is bad and really, who cares anyway? I get to play as a Necromancer, so that’s cool. There are also five other classes. One of them has to be unlocked through different mechanics in the game… or through the shop. It’s quite interesting. When you play the game, you’ll basically have a normal attack available to you, two spells tied to your class and your deck. Since it’s based on MTG, you’ve got a card-based battle system in there with twelve cards from all elements. These can be classified as either Creature cards, Enchantment cards, or Spells. Based on your class you may summon more enemies or enchant your attacks more or you heal allies while smiting enemies and that sort of stuff. It’s interesting and I like it in a lot of ways but I have one core problem with it at the same time… It’s incredibly slow.

The story is lame but the implementation of the card-mechanics is even worse, in my opinion, as combat just sucks. It’s kind of fun since I get to summon a lot of creatures as a Necromancer and I love the way they implemented that class and the Black Spell Type and all of that,… but it’s really just “spam one button to get mana” and “spend mana on your cards to deal more damage”. There isn’t really much depth, in my opinion, but that’s not really important, I guess… It’s quite satisfying in a way since you can watch a show while playing the game with your attention split. Diablo 3 required more focus than this. Torchlight 2 did… Hence, being able to do literally anything else while playing the game on the other screen is quite refreshing, I guess.

So, it’s more of a chill experience where you grind runs to get better gear and then you eventually run dungeons and stuff. I haven’t gotten to that point yet, sadly, since I’ve had my difficulties with the game and the motivation to start up the game… but I’m quite sure that it’s going to be something like that later on.

My biggest issue with the game isn’t the lacklustre gameplay or the boring and empty world but mostly that the progression feels so incredibly slow… It took a friend of mine two hours to get to the good part (aka when you have 12 cards). It took me longer than that since I took longer breaks from the game between play-sessions and even dreaded the story and missions during the play-sessions. But I really want to get to the later missions that I can play with my friends… alas, I’ve got to pull through this.

Currently, I have 11 cards unlocked. Those include a Voracious Thrull that’s looking incredibly disgusting and I love it… as well as a Drudge Skeleton and Scathe Zombies and token monsters and the Bone-tip Archer. I can also summon other undead monsters and cast different spells to impale, burn down or shoot enemies. I also some spells that deal more damage to low-health targets or snare them. I feel like the Necromancer is quite a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to adding cards from other elements into my deck and creating synergies between different elements. I feel like that could be quite cool.

Throughout the fights, you’re able to find loot and spell cards as well as materials to upgrade your cards with. It’s quite nice to see frequent drops, although I’d like it even more if it would actually tell you which equipment pieces had the better stats or what equipment is suited more for your character, especially at the beginning. Magic Legends has a tutorial for everything, which is quite frustrating and annoying… At the same time, it doesn’t give a fuck about explaining stats to you… because everyone obviously knows what +2/+1 means or what it means to pick up Spark Globes or what CRT stands for. I would love it if the game had fewer tutorial windows pop up at times to speed up the pacing a bit more. Similarly, I’d love it if you could look all the information up again somewhere else or if you could look up terminology. I know people that haven’t played ARPGs before and hence wouldn’t know what certain terms would mean.

At the same time, I’d also like it if you could zoom into the world. You can turn the camera around quite well (especially with the gamepad controls that work really well actually) but you cannot zoom in, which is kind of weird. At times the world looks quite pretty but it’s missing NPCs or enemies or any interactables or breakable urns, crates and that sort of thing. The game definitely needs some polishing in my opinion. The Voice Acting is garbage, the storyline is boring, the world feels empty and the pacing is incredibly slow… but once you get to 12 cards, it actually is quite chill and rather fun.

Although, I’d imagine that the end game is probably super grindy and annoying. The publisher for this game is Perfect World after all, so… it’s quite heavily monetized and despite being free-to-play and despite having the option to grind gold, I’d imagine that the grinding in the later stages of the game is going to be horrible to the point where it’s really just “pay up or go home”. I at first figured that this game sounds quite good to me with the MTG universe and it being an ARPG… and then I saw that it was hard to get to the good part… and when I heard that it’s published by Perfect World it all just kind of made sense to me… There is a shop for the game where you can get booster packs and extra deck-slots for real money. At the same time you can get a battle pass for ten bucks and 25 bucks, if you want more rewards. They did have a whole class locked after lootboxes but I think they got rid of that completely now and made it unlockable for free… still, all those practises make it hard to enjoy playing games for free really. And I don’t want to shit on people for trying to make a living off games and for having to feed their families and hence resorting to these types of things… but I think I’d rather enjoy paying a subscription fee every month or paying one price upfront for a great game than playing a mediocre game for free only to realise that you kind of have to cash in to make some progress in it.

And yeah, Magic: Legends is mediocre at best. Overall, if you get through the boring part and just rush through everything and skip the mediocre story, you may get to the good part quite fast… The Necromancer class is a lot of fun actually… but it’s an issue if you have to get through at least an hour or maybe even two hours worth of boring content in order to have fun in the game. It’s an issue for me and if I hadn’t had friends that started playing it, I would’ve stopped super early and just uninstalled it completely. Pair all of those issues with the fact that there are no European servers apparently and that all European players get redirected to the American servers… Yeah, I don’t know. It just kind of sucks, to be honest, when you cast a spell five or six times before it actually gets cast…

Hope you enjoyed my first impressions. Have you played Magic: Legends yet? What are your thoughts on it? Let me know!

Cheers!

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

Looking out for Anuchard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers!

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

Outriders – First Impressions

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

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

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

Oh no…. a storm is coming!

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

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

Selfie Time!

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

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

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

Looking Dope!

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

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

Cheers!

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

The Greydwarf Incident in Valheim

So, for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been chilling in some discord calls with people that have been playing Valheim… and eventually, I got it myself… and then I started playing and immediately understood, why it’s so hyped right now.

Alas, I wanted to talk about my experience and that one fated Greydwarf Incident.

Odin essentially sealed some baddies in the 10th world and noticed that they have been gaining power again, which is why he also sent us (and other Vikings from Valhalla) down to Valheim, the 10th world. In an attempt to get back to Valhalla, we now have to forage, craft, farm, build, and fight ourselves through the world to get stronger and kill those aforementioned baddies. Hugins, the raven Odin sent, is also there to guide us, and I think that summarises the story quite well. The game overall feels quite good. I am having a lot of fun with it right now.

Honestly, I love how you can improve your skills by actually doing things. Running a lot lets you increase that skill reducing the stamina used, while jumping a lot makes you jump higher. Attacking things increases the damage you deal with the spear, knife, axe, club, your fists, or whatever weapon you’re choosing. There are a lot of different skills and it kind of reminds me of Runescape in a way… in a good way, I should say. Progress is tied to the achievements you get. Fighting the first boss means you’ll gain access to the pickaxe that allows you to farm resources such as copper and iron in some areas. To get there, I need to gear up and also find a deer trophy to activate the boss fight. I’ve been playing for 6.7 hours (but mostly have been buildings things, to be honest) and I already got some deer hides and trophies thanks to my trusty spear-throws. The issue is that I need more leather scraps for the tanning rack to unlock even better recipes. On top of that, I need to hunt more deer to get those leather tunics, etc., which are going to be a solid upgrade to the rags I’ve thrown over myself. Currently, I’m wielding a spear and a tower shield most of the time, although I sometimes go for the axe in fights instead when I’m dealing with skeletons, for instance, that attack rather slowly.

After settling on a nice spot over here as well and building up two beehives, a nice little hut and a warehouse, I’ve decided to explore a little bit upwards. My seed “DrPepper” features a black forest to the north with some very interesting areas. For starters, there is a dungeon there filled with skeletons… and they don’t like me which is weird since I’m a lich IRL… but whatever. Otherwise, I found some ruins with loot and skeletons as well as some other structures that looked interesting. Upon further investigation, I was swarmed by a bunch of Greydwarfs as well as a Greydwarf Shaman. Among the Greydwarfs were a bunch of red ones as well as a lot of blue ones. I decided to do my best and block off any incoming attacks to increase my blocking-skill. It levelled up to Level 10, which was nice, but I sadly also got hit a bunch by rocks thrown from afar. The Greydwarf Shaman was fairly tanky and was spreading a lot of poison around that only seemed to harm me. On top of that, the Shaman was able to heal his allies by spreading spores upwards. The heals are coming in seemingly endlessly while my food is running low, alas, I decide to block and slowly crawl backwards. 

My kiting attempts and the occasional rolls actually worked out rather well, allowing me to get quite close to my base in no time with no further hitpoints lost. The Shaman seemed to protect something, which is why he stayed near that area. Alas, I ended up finishing off the small fry by stabbing my spear into them whenever they decided to turn their backs on me. At the same, I’d block all other attacks and eventually finish them off one by one. At last, I regenerated some health when the greed came over me. “Oh, Odin!”, I said. “Forgive me for straying from this path and not getting rid of these foes first. I decided to run but I shall run no more!” My flatmate probably heard my prayers and alas decided to knock on the door to ask if I was okay. “Uh, I was quoting something in class”, I said and he shrugged it off. “But Odin, I shall run no more and I shall rid this earth of these foes”, I continued, before heading back to the Shaman. The Shaman, now alone, posed no threat to me as I was able to roll away when he spread his poison while landing a few rather strong hits with my spear whenever he used his heal spell. He fell in no time and dropped nothing of importance. The chest he was guarding featured some gold and feathers as well as some Amber, but again, nothing major. Alas, I decided to explore more before stumbling across a Greydwarf nest. I struck it down and got rid of the remaining Greydwarfs only to notice that the nest here happened to drop an Ancient Seed, which according to a friend is required to summon the second boss. I held onto it tightly as I travelled back. Pressing it against my ear, lets me hear whispers. This shall be useful. “I shall burn their young and obtain their power”, I say, “but first I need to strike down Eikthyr.”

So, I basically need to gear up some more, prepare the area around the boss by chopping down some of the trees, and then I need to summon it in order to progress some more. I think I’ll leave that for the next post on Valheim. I’ve been enjoying this game quite a bit and since other bloggers have been posting about it recently, including Wilhelm, I’ve been meaning to make some progress so that I don’t spoil myself too much when I read their posts. 

Have you been getting into Valheim? If so, how are you liking it? I personally am enjoying it but I’ve noticed that it is somewhat poorly optimised. It is pretty but a bit rough around the edges. The issue I’ve been having is that it does use up a lot of CPU from my Computer, meaning that I probably won’t be able to stream it. Hope they fix that soon. 

Cheers!

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

Steam Game Festival: Demo-Impressions, Part 3

The Steam Game Festival is going on until tomorrow, so here’re some more games to check out! I’ve been kind of slouching with these posts due to the quality of some titles and the amount of time that I need to spend in some games to make these posts possible. Pair that with a tight schedule that keeps me from leaving the desk until I’m done with my studies… and then add a little bit of a lack of motivation to it due to me having to continue sitting at the desk in order to write these blog posts… and that basically results in me not being able to write these posts in time. It’s a bit of a bummer and the pandemic and everything isn’t helping, especially with winter ravaging outside and me not being able to leave the house.

But from all of this explanatory exposition to more positive matters. Today we’re playing more Indie Game demos and here are my first impressions on those!

The Longest Road on Earth:

This is an emotive interactive visual novel and auditory experience based upon intimate human connection and the journey we all must take. Just like Per Aspera which we’ve covered in the past, it’s also published by Raw Fury, which is why I was rather excited about trying this one out… It’s a bit of an interesting Adventure game. The anthropomorphic animals each have their own lives and roads to take and master… and while the art style is stunning, I was even more impressed by the fantastic soundtrack by Beícoli. The situations you’re facing are all kind of out of context and focus on small things like riding the bicycle or going to the canteen… but the at times mellow and at times melancholic sounds that have been composed for this title give every single one of these scenes some sort of meaning… For whatever reason, one of the earlier scenes made me cry just now while another lifted me up but if I had played it without the sound on, it would have been completely different, obviously, and I may not have reacted in that way. Similarly, I love it that the demo ends on an upbeat note with some mischief and a little bit of snowy fun.

Ashwalkers:

Ashwalkers is a highly stylised post-apocalyptic survival game where your group tries to find the legendary “Dome of Domes” and hence ventures into a harsh world without rules or judgement. Your choices matter as you always have different approaches to all kinds of situations. Do you sneak past wolves or do you yell at them to scare them away? The choice is yours! While travelling to the vast and grey areas your party members’ energy, food and warmth levels decreases. Alas, you’ll have to set up camp every now and then, distribute resources, schedule guard duties and allow your people to rest or chat in order to replenish energy or let encourage them again. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to face even more dooming challenges. Will your party members make it through? Try it out yourself!

Osteoblasts:

Osteoblasts is a dungeon crawler RPG about, by and for skeletons. Although I’d have to say that since I, as a lich, can still quite enjoy it, I’d imagine that humans like you would also potentially like it. The art style is utilizing some rather pretty colours, the soundtrack is lovely as fuck, and the story is… I don’t really get it but I’m looking forward to figuring it out later on! You are being revived as a skeleton and have to fight against dogs among other enemies. There are multiple classes and items that change your skills. To use skills, you’ll have to use some of your bone marrow… and whenever you level up, you can select between three gods to gain their skill bonuses. The full game will feature multiple endings and while I may not be the biggest fan of turn-based combat in games, I actually really enjoyed this title and am looking forward to trying out some builds in the future and potentially reviewing this game as well once it’s fully out!

Cats and the Other Lives:

Cats and the Other Lives is a narrative experience that explores the reunion of a broken family. After the passing of grandfather Bernard, all of the remaining members of the Mason Family return to their childhood home once again. Alas, we step into the role of the house cat, Aspen, and interact with the world in a point and click style fashion to touch on past hopes, disappointments and regrets of the Mason family. Through flashbacks to the time when Bernard was still alive we learn new things about the past and about the mysterious things that took place in this house, and alas it is our role to relief the family members’ frustrations, to toss things over and to uncover secrets. Overall, this is a rather cute game, though somewhat creepy in some ways. I love the idea of stepping into the role of a pet instead of playing as a family member. It is interesting how typical cat behaviours are put into the game and how the developers enabled the player to utilize those patterns in order to progress through the story. Apart from that, I’ve loved small things like the little bits and pieces of information and lore you can pick up from NPCs in the hallways and rooms as well as the soundtrack that gives the game a somewhat eery and mysterious vibe. Great demo!


And with these few games, it’s already over for me. I have hardly enough time to publish this post and also play more titles. As always there is just not enough time get through so many unless of course, you have nothing else to do than playing games. There are other games that I would have liked to feature but due to time constraints, I’ll just have to vaguely list them:

Dead Estate is an action-roguelike with a top-down-shooter-ish perspective and an interesting art style. It’s supposed to be gory, fast-paced and Halloween-y.

Everescape is a political simulation of an employee of the immigration department. You’re supposed to prevent the entry and spread of some virus and do so with the power of bureaucracy. This seemed like another “Papers, Please” clone but with the difference that it also features an art style that is very much similar to Paintbucket Games’ “Through the darkest of times” (at least as far as the character design goes), so I thought I’d check it out and see how different it is to “Papers, Please” and how well it is done.

Blue Fire is a minimalistic action-adventure that kind of reminds me of Hollow Knight but in 3D. Apparently, however, it is somewhat short and the healing in it is frustrating on top of the game crashing quite often. I would have played it today, actually, but the demo got removed from the store, for whatever reason, so I don’t know how stable the build actually would have been.

Faith of Fate is an adventure game that apparently also has dating sim elements to it and that, according to Steam, is similar to Undertale. Looked interesting!

In My Shadow is supposed to be a puzzle platformer where you use these puzzles to confront your character’s past. The puzzles seemed interesting and I feel like the story could also present you with some nice interactions. Sadly, I didn’t like the art style too much, which is why I let it slide for now and which is why I didn’t play it first thing this festival.

Sands of Aura is an interesting mix of open-world exploration and souls-like action. The premise of it is that you bring life to a world buried beneath a sea of sand, which is something that kind of resonated with me. I like the idea of that world and I would have loved to try out the combat of this one!

Tasomachi is supposed to be an atmospheric 3D Platforming game in a fantasy setting, I guess. The world looked pretty and I would have loved to dive into it. 

Undying allows you to accompany a young mother in her journey to protect and raise her son, Cody, in a zombie-infested world. After being bitten by a zombie herself, she knows that her days are numbered, which is why she’s got to protect her son, search for safety and teach him skills while she still can. This sounds like a great game and I like the minimalistic approach to the art style and the perspectives, so I’m sure that this is a great title to check out. Wishlisted!

Either way, the Steam Game Festival will still be up until February 9th, 10 AM (PST), meaning that I still have about 19 hours left to play some of these demos, and potentially more if some of them still are around after the event. I’d recommend you to check out the titles listed above as well as the games that I didn’t get to. I still have a bit of time until then, so I will check them out. I will probably just not write about these last few titles as there wouldn’t be enough time.

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed this (somewhat longer) post. What other discoveries did you make during this event? Did you find any nice titles to play? Let me know!

Cheers!

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

Late to the Party #5 – Bioshock 2

During the Spooktober of last year, I played through the first Bioshock game on Twitch. I loved it. I loved the universe, the soundtrack, the combat and the way the whole world is fleshed out. You can read about all of that in my post on it from November 28th. Alas, I recently got into the second game on Stream as well and we managed to play through it just a little over a week ago. Alas, it’s time for another LttP post!

Note: There may be minor to small spoilers for the game. I didn’t talk about certain things to not spoil them or ruin the effect on you… but I guess you wouldn’t read this if you didn’t know already that there could be spoilers. In any case, you’ve been warned about potential spoilers. Enjoy the post!

First things first, I’d like to say that the Bioshock games are somewhat old already. Alas, I played the Remastered version of the second game as it’s just a bit more pleasing on the eyes. There are also fewer bugs in it and the sound doesn’t have as many hiccups as the original version, which is great. I guess you could argue that it’s not the same as playing the actual Bioshock 2 game but honestly, I don’t see the point in differentiating between the two games. The Remastered version did perform better on my newer PC, alas I just played that. 

While we were playing as some sort of agent that infiltrated Rapture in the first game, the second game lets us play as one of the most iconic denizens of Rapture, the Big Daddy. We explore through the decrepit and beautiful fallen city, chasing an unseen foe named Lamb, in search for answers. Our little sister was taken away from us as we were asked if we would kindly shoot ourselves. Somehow, though, we survived and got revived in a vita chamber in Rapture, which is where our story begins.

From the getgo, I was in awe. I love Rapture and the Bioshock universe but in this game… it’s just more rotten and devastated. The sunken city is incredibly pretty, especially when we get to explore the underwater world in our Big Daddy suit. I loved the new perspective on things as we hear the ground trembling as we stomp through the areas. While we’re somewhat slow, the game equipped us with a powerful drill as well as a bunch of different weapons and powers to add to our arsenal. 

Just like in the first game, you’re able to sling spells, so-called “Plasmids” at our foes and opponents, all in order to survive. If that’s not your style, you still have the option of using guns or melee attacks. What surprised me was that while I wasn’t unsatisfied with combat in the first game, I really enjoyed the changes to combat in the second game. For instance, we’re able to use plasmids and weapons at the same time, resulting in some cool interactions. Our drill is powerful but requires fuel, which adds a new type of ammunition to the game. If you’re out of it, you won’t be able to use your drill’s charge attack but you can still wack enemies rather well, smashing their faces and breaking their spirits. Apart from that, the camera that you use to find out about enemy weaknesses now doesn’t require ammunition anymore.

On top of that, you now have a hacking tool to remote-hack turrets, cameras and doors, which is lovely. Even the hacking tool, however, can be used as a weapon to place down miniature turrets that deal a good amount of damage.

Hacking in the first game was kind of janky in a way. Often, you’d rely on luck rather than skill as you were pressured by the time running out and as you needed to guide water through a circuit board, which didn’t typically make sense. The mini-game was fun but kind of unlogical in a way. Meanwhile, in this game, you’re able to hack enemies while in combat and you actually have to prove your skill as you hit certain areas in a smaller sized mini-game. It obviously isn’t the best solution but it is one that exists and that doesn’t utilize water, which is a good thing. 

Overall, the second game offers a lot of quality of life changes that improve combat and hacking. The soundtrack is still amazing. The game looks stunning.

But the issue with Bioshock 2 is that you don’t really have an enemy of sorts for most of the game. You hear about Lamb here and there but you never really know who that’s supposed to be. In the same manner, you’ve got Sinclair who just stops by and suddenly starts to help you but I couldn’t just get attached to him as a help, especially as our helper in the first game ended up betraying us. By the end of the game, I felt a bit let down as Sinclair didn’t betray us at all… that’s a shame? I guess? Or not? I don’t know.

The world-building is well-done and the game feels immersive. Characters have an actual backstory and their own motivations and ideals but in the end, the story overall feels somewhat lacking in a way especially as you go through the first few areas with little to no clue about who you are, who Lamb is and what your goal is. You need to free your little sister but that’s about it, I guess? Why do you go that far and what makes you special from other Big Daddies? 

Another nice addition is that, after defeating Big Daddies, you get to adopt (or harvest) their Little Sisters. You then get to harvest bodies for Adam while defending your Little Sister in order to attain more of that scarce resource that you need for your upgrades. Lovely! 

Just like in the first game, you have a good and a bad ending. Harvesting the little sisters ends up giving you the bad ending while adopting and rescuing them gives you a good ending. On top of that, you have these scenarios in the game where you can kill the leaders of the different areas or you spare them. Each of these decisions also influences your ending a little bit. In one of the early areas, I had the option of killing an unarmed black woman. She put us through hell but I decided to walk away. She then realised that I wasn’t some sort of baby-snatcher and monster but rather more than that: A human being.

Alas, she provided us with some support and she got to live. I would have liked it if we would have heard more of her later on… but in the end, that didn’t happen. No idea what happened to her. 

So, the story feels a bit weaker but in the final hours, it got rather emotional and nearly brought me to tears. The additions and improvements to the game felt great. The new spells and mechanics are interesting. The story, while at first somewhat weaker, made me feel… things. On top of that, we finally were able to see through the eyes of a Big Daddy (and more, wink wink). And all in all, I really enjoyed this game. I hope that I get to play Bioshock Infinite soon. I’d also like to play the Bioshock 2 DLC “Minerva’s Den” eventually… but that will have to wait until it goes on sale. 

For now, this just means that there is another game that I played through (in a time of nearly 10 hours with 27/53 achievements completed) and I really enjoyed it. The backlog ended up shrinking a little and hopefully, I get to have more fun with other titles in the future again.

Nice.

What about you? Did you play Bioshock 2 and if so, did you enjoy it? Let me know! Also, are there any other titles that you’d like to see featured here that I may not have played yet? I’d love to get into the Fallout Games eventually and maybe write something about Borderlands 3 (as I still haven’t played that game in the franchise) or about NieR Replicant which is coming out soon. But that will have to wait until I get to it and until I have a bit more time. 

Cheers!

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

Steam Game Festival: Demo-Impressions, Part 2

Like yesterday, I decided to make another post on the Steam Game Festival and more demos from this event. Yesterday, we covered ten games on there with most of them being rather interesting and today I wanted to continue the trend with the next ten games that looked interesting and promising. You can check out all posts on the Steam Game Festival (the current one and the previous ones) over here if you want to. Without further ado, however, let’s head into some cool games.

First Class Trouble:

First Class Trouble is a party game where players work together to prevent disaster. Play as either a Personoid or a Passenger in this social deduction game. The passengers need to stop an evil A.I. that is aboard this ship while the Personoids have to stop them, even if it means deception, betrayal and lies. The whole aesthetic of the game is amazing from the customization to the soundtrack and the graphic. The demo itself had a few hiccups with the servers but when everything is patched up and ready, you can find a game within minutes and get ready to eject people out of the air shoot. I personally enjoyed it a fair bit, despite all of the bugs. Whether or not all of them will be squashed on release, remains to be seen! But until then, there’s going to be a lot of time for polishing and further development! 

Luna’s Fishing Garden:

This game is a cosy and adorable fishing and building game where you plant trees, catch fish, trade items for money (leaves) and expand your busine- I mean,… garden. You can upgrade your fishing rod, add plant life to the world, meet characters and bring animals to the archipelago. While the demo can be played through in about forty minutes (At least, I think that there aren’t any more fish in the sea.), I’m sure that the full release will offer a lot more content. On another note, it actually is great to see a new game by Coldwild Games. They’re actually behind Merchant of the Skies as well, so I have high hopes for this game!

Beacon Pines:

Beacon Pines is a rather lovely choose-your-own-adventure-style game by Hiding Spot in which you step into the role of the main character, Luka, and the narrator of the story. Utilizing different words (“charms”) that you find throughout the game, you explore a cute and creepy story within a magical storybook. Are you stuck in one place? Try going back, using the Chronicles, and revise your previous turning points. What could you have done differently? What charms could change the outcome of your fate? Try it out yourself! Incredibly cute game with some eery vibes and an amazing soundtrack. I can highly recommend it and am looking forward to the full release!

Dorfromantik:

Dorfromantik is a peaceful strategy and puzzle game where you create a beautiful and ever-growing village landscape by placing down tiles. There are a bunch of biomes in the game and different interesting tiles that work in different ways. To keep on going, you’ll need to place down your tiles with future tiles in mind. In a way, it reminds me of Islanders but with less creative freedom since you’re using hexagons in this one. Quite a short and somewhat challenging but still rather lovely demo!

Space Wreck:

Space Wreck looked quite interesting, being set in a post-apocalyptic world in space and having to deal with problems in different ways while utilizing TTRPG mechanics… but in the end, I didn’t get quite warm with it. It’s inspired by Fallout 1 and 2 as well as Arcanum, but I’m not entirely sure if I quite like it for a plethora of reason. While I love the art style and atmosphere in the first few minutes, the voice acting feels off and I would have loved it if it just didn’t exist in this game. At the same time, combat is somewhat weird and clanky and as someone who hasn’t played the three games mentioned above, I’m not entirely sure if it’s supposed to be this hard to get into but for a game that is coming out in 2021, I feel like it should be more beginner-friendly. Oh well…

No Place For Bravery:

In No Place For Bravery, we step into the steps of Thorn, an old and ambitious warrior, who roams a vicious war-torn world in search for his lost daughter. No Place For Bravery is a 2D Top-Down Action-RPG with a fantastically detailed pixel art-style and a wonderfully eery soundtrack. Combat feels smooth but has a steep difficulty curve with lots of parries, timings, and different systems to look out for. There are different weapons and items to utilize as well as a story that I don’t really get… but it was fun! Really enjoyed this one. Make sure to wishlist this demo!

And while I would like to talk about more games today, I’m actually rather tired and can’t really play too much more. Alas, I’ll write about more titles tomorrow in Part 3 and I’ll try to get to it sooner instead of leaving it to the last few hours of the day! I’ll also try to limit the time that I’ll spend on each and every demo, as time management is key when it comes to deadlines. I hope you enjoyed this post and I’ll see you in tomorrow’s post!

Cheers!

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

Steam Game Festival: Demo-Impressions, Part 1

So, as announced yesterday, the Steam Game Festival is here, which means that I have a lot of titles to write about. I picked 25 titles yesterday but then found four more titles again, within the last few hours, so I’m not entirely sure if I’ll get to those soon, but I’ll make sure to share my thoughts on most of these games… just like today! In today’s post, we’re taking a look at the first batch of games. Instead of going in rather in-depth into each of the titles, I’d like to try to share my experience in as few sentences as possible in order to allow me to cover a bunch of games within a post. The first time this event happened, I wrote mini-reviews on the games and ended up still writing about a lot of the titles way after the event concluded. Alas, I’d rather want to share my experiences so that you can check these games out yourself!

Timberborn:

Timberborn is a Colony Sim with City Building aspects that allows you to take control of a tribe of lumberpunk beavers! Build farms, houses, dams and bridges to make this land your own. Humans are no more, so it’s time for your beaver-brethren to shine and erect a civilisation that restores the devastated land that is plagued with deadly droughts. There is a lot of vertical architecture in the game and I love the aspects of controlling the rivers with explosives, terraforming and dams. It’s quite interesting how the game works and I personally really enjoyed it. The demo lets you play a fair bit but since it’s a pre-release demo, there are a lot of limitations to certain features and mechanics that will be there in the full version!

Potion Craft:

Potion Craft is an Alchemy-Simulation game in which you run your own little potion shop, invent new recipes, attract customers, harvest your garden for ingredients, and experiment. I really enjoyed it. The game offers a lot of creative freedom, allowing you to customize potions and add effects to it with ingredients while getting better at your craft. The customers are often quite funny with their reasoning behind needing a healing or poison potion. There are a lot of different recipes to uncover and the demo itself lets you play quite a bit! Really looking forward to the full release of it!

Gal*Gun Returns:

I played Gal*Gun: Double Peace ages ago (in 2017, apparently), and despite the premise being incredibly silly, I really enjoyed it. Girls are running wild because of something in the story-line that I can’t exactly remember, so you need to survive your school-day by sneaking away and shooting girls with a “pheromone gun”. Gal*Gun Returns scared me plenty of times, btw,… and I’m sure it will scare you, too. This rail-shooter demo lets you experience a level per heroine, which can be completed relatively quickly. While incredibly silly, it was rather entertaining. I still don’t get what’s going on but it’s all fun and games, I guess. 

Despot’s Game:

Despot’s Game takes Konfa Games’ Despotism-3K-universe and combines it with some interesting and rather tactical Roguelite Auto Battler mechanics! D’Spot, the game’s antagonist, is an evil A.I. (playable in Konfa Games’ previous game) that throws you and your fellow humans into an Arena of death. Fight against plenty of enemies, upgrade or purchase more humans, mutate them and use your head to strategically place them in order to proceed far enough into the game. If you survive the labyrinth, you’ll have to face off against the unstoppable end-game builds of other players and beat each other to death. The game itself plays itself similarly to other Auto-Battlers like TFT or DotA Underlords but it adds its own twist to it by combing the auto-battler formula with roguelite-elements and random events, known from the previous game. Incredibly challenging but also incredibly fun!

Unsouled:

Unsouled is supposed to be an “ultra-brutal Action-RPG with fast-paced and savagely rewarding combat” but it kind of feels like it’s lacking. The story is confusing, the combat doesn’t feel good at all with you having too many dashes and you being able to guard everything effortlessly. The game looks pretty but the gameplay feels clunky.

Loop Hero:

Loop Hero is actually a title that I’ve been excited about for quite a while. I’m really looking forward to March 4th when this title releases because I’m actually in the game. I, Magi the Lich, have thrown the world into a timeless loop and plunged its inhabitants into never-ending chaos, after all, so it’s your duty to go onto expedition and find out what’s wrong with the world and if there are any other survivors. Your hero loops on a path and battles on its own, so you have to place down mystical cards to create terrain, buildings, and enemies to fight. As you progress, you’ll receive loot and resources that can be used to equip and upgrade your hero and your camp. Once you return, you receive a new loop in your next expedition and you’ll have to try again to survive the loop! Incredibly fun game with some adorable and nostalgic pixel-art and an amazing soundtrack!

AK-xolotl:

AK-xolotl is as the name suggest a game where you play the cutest amphibian ever, an axolotl with an AK (duh!). It’s a top-down arcade battle-arena shooter with some bullet hell elements to it where you defend your pond from invaders to score big. It seems to have multiplayer and it gives me “Nuclear Throne” and “Enter The Gungeon” vibes, on top of featuring axolotl… So I HAD TO try it out. The art style is super adorable, there are costumes, it is challenging, the guns feel good and the soundtrack is fantastic! Pairing cute animals with guns and in-your-face-metal is a great idea that should be explored more often in games. 

SkateBIRD:

SkateBIRd is a game about Skateboarding… as a bird. Take control of a bird on a skateboard and perform tricks… it’s kind of relaxing and brings me back to the days when I played those Tony Hawk games on my Xbox… ages ago… but yeah, that’s about it. There are a plethora of easy to hard tricks to perform, the birds are cute, there are missions in the game, and the soundtrack is super chill. Try it out yourself!

Towermancer:

TowerMancer by Digital Synapis is a strategy tower building game where you gather resources, build rooms and face menacing threats. The story-line is about a lich that married the lichmancer and they got a lot of kids (lesser liches) and the youngest one is you, an aspiring lich that is trying to become a Towermancer. Nice! The pixel art style looked interesting, so I gave it a go, and… it’s quite fun. It’s a bit challenging here and there, although the overall premise of the game is rather simple. I really enjoyed building up the tower and coordinating all of the imps in order to rebuild what those fireballs have destroyed, and I’m looking forward to seeing the full game! The demo only lets you play the first few levels but it’s quite enjoyable, in my opinion.

Roguebook:

Roguebook is a new roguelike-deck-builder with unique mechanics from the developer of Faeria as well as Richard Garfield, creator of Magic: The Gathering! The game itself is similar to other roguelike-deck-building games like Slay The Spire, with the difference that it revolves around two characters. On top of that, you can summon allies, upgrade cards with gems, find artefacts and unlock skills. The two characters can be changed in the full game. While the game itself is quite similar to Slay the Spire when it comes to combat, it also features an overworld akin to Trials of Fire, a Card Battler that came out in 2019. The art style is amazing and the overworld adds another layer to the game, although I’m not entirely sure if I like that system. On top of that, the game has some flaws here and there where it doesn’t explain certain mechanics to you, which made my experience a bit less exciting. Regardless, the game is quite fun and I’m also looking forward to this title when it’s fully released.

So, that’s it for the day. We looked at ten different games and I did enjoy this quite a bit. I hope you liked this post as well! What games did you check out so far? I’ll try to write a post on the next ten games tomorrow and will hopefully wrap this series of posts up within the next two days so that you can get all the recommendations that you want.

Cheers!

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

The Steam Game Festival is here!

From February 3rd (yes, that’s now!) until February 9th (10 AM PST), the Steam Game Festival is held on Steam and you know what that means… There are a lot of demos to go through for upcoming games!

Alas, I wanted to write about some of my discoveries and my thoughts on them. I wrote posts on these events a couple of times already, so you can check out the previous posts over here.

Demos, I’ll try out in the next few days:

  • Despot’s Game
  • Luna’s Fishing Garden
  • Ashwalkers
  • Undying
  • Roguebook
  • Unsouled
  • No Place for Bravery
  • AK-xolotl
  • Derfromantik
  • Timberborn
  • Potion Craft
  • SkateBIRD
  • Loop Hero
  • The Longest Road on Earth
  • Gal*Gun Returns
  • First Class Trouble
  • Osteoblasts
  • Space Wreck
  • Everescape
  • In My Shadow
  • Dead Estate
  • Beacon Pines
  • Cats and the Other Lives
  • Sands of Aura
  • TowerMancer
  • Alien Scumbags

So, there’s a total of 26 demos for me to try out here. So, a bunch! Obviously, there are a lot more games on the Steam Store Homepage available for trial but I can’t possibly try out everything, so I decided to limit it to these 26 entries (originally 25 but someone on Twitter approached me with the last entry there). I’ll take a look at the first load of games tomorrow and will make another post the day after that based on how many are left. I think that should work out quite fine unless I’m too busy with uni-stuff… 

Hope you enjoyed this short post over here! I sadly am running a bit low on time and energy, so I’ll have to write more on these titles tomorrow… Looking forward to it.

What games are you trying out? Is there anything from this list that you’ve tried out, yet? Let me know!

Cheers!

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

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 was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken.