Looking forward to Partisans 1941

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall, Partisans 1941 seems to be a promising title. 

Cheers!

Indietail – Sir, You Are Being Hunted

It’s getting colder. It’s raining more. The nights are getting a bit longer… Autumn is coming – and with it: Halloween! (Unless you’re in the land down under where it’s Spring…? That place surely is magical!)

Halloween’s great! It’s the time to bring out my horse mask, watch some trash horror movies and quite potentially play some spooky games, alone, at night, by yourself… and that’s why we’re taking a look at “Sir, You Are Being Hunted”, a spooky and very British Stealth-Survival game by Big Robot Ltd!

Developer: Big Robot Ltd
Publisher: Big Robot Ltd
Genre: Survival, Stealth, Indie, Robots, First-Person, Horror
Release Date: August 13th, 2013
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC
Copy was purchased.

Note: I had to create a header image for this game as there was no actual press kit and hence no high resolution pictures or logos available. Hence, pardon my intervention in that regard.

But first,… what is Sir, You Are Being Hunted?

In this title, you’re participating in a fox hunt – the twist is that you, Sir (or Madam!), are being hunted and not some fox. For some reason, we then are tasked with finding a bunch of different machine parts on five different islands (all connected with boats), only to bring them all together at the magical statue in the centre island. Yeah, I know, the story doesn’t really seem too intriguing but hold on before you click off… because the game is actually somewhat good.

The spot we have to bank our machine parts at!

After all, this game combines witty humour, procedural generation, stealth and survival mechanics to present a funny and spooky experience.

While you’re searching for the smoke pillars in the distance, you’ll come across all kinds of robots. At first, you only get to see high-class hunters with their shotguns, their top hats, moustaches and their tweed jackets. These take only two hits with a hatchet and are your first source of new weapons, including their shotguns. But over time, the game throws all kinds of other enemies in your face: You get to see robotic hunting dogs, revolver wielding middle-class squires and lower-class poachers but also scarier foes like rocket.powered horse-riders or the giant landlord who’s able to chase you from afar and who is truly terrifying. 

This game’s the epitome of “British stereotypes”. From the Victorian look of all the enemies to the sad and dreary environment that you’re walking through to the small jokes hidden in the different item flavour texts and other info. I really enjoyed the humour to bits. On top of that, you get to chose whether you wanna be a “Sir” or a “Madam” that is being hunted… which I found cute in a way… And obviously, Great Britain can be lovely, but as far as stereotypes and that kind of stuff go, a lot of people think that it’s always raining over there… which is well shown in “Sir, You Are Being Hunted”. 

Wait… THAT is the landlord?! He’s huge! And scary! Oh no, he’s coming for us!

The biomes you’re walking through have this very sombre vibe to it but in a good way. Even during the day, it remains quite spooky and dismal, which I found more than interesting. In the distance, you may see the next landmark, a giant factory in the industrial part of an island with smoke coming out of chimneys… or maybe a small town whose street lanterns are shining a small light onto the nooks and crannies of the streets. Overall, despite its age, I did find a few spots here and there that actually were quite lovely or enigmatic in their own way. Looks-wise the game has aged somewhat well and has still its own character. The landscapes are pretty at first but over time, I noticed that they can also get quite monotone and dreary. 

When I say that the game aged well, I mean that it can still look good despite looking “old”. There are some uninspired spots and pieces with shrubs and hedges and some trampled ground but with procedural generation and you essentially getting a new map every run, it’s possible that you get some very pretty ones as well. In one instance, I had this very spectacular pink sky in might sight which was very clearly visible, even from the shrouds that I was hiding in!

Where the game truly shines is its audio design. The developers themselves said that they put extra care into that and wanted to make it something that gives the players a lot – and in fact, they did. During the game, I was constantly on edge trying to find the next place to go, dodging robots and looking into the distance in hope to see their red eyes and their paths… and while I was immersed and while I tried to progress, I ended up really listening to those sounds and noises in the game. Gunshots? Barking? Even birds that are flying away from robots scaring them off can be heard clearly if you’re nearby. I really enjoyed this aspect of tracking the robots and trying to find your own ways of dealing with them and trying to get around them. 

In one case, I lured robots to me with a trombone while waiting in a farmer’s field. I was crouching with my hatchet, waiting for them to stop by and before they noticed I fell the first one and dipped back into the shadows. Then I threw a glass bottle into the other direction, looted the corpse and shot the remaining two distracted robots with my newly attained shotgun! I felt quite good about that! Suddenly, the Hunted became the Hunter again!

But while the stealth parts can be fun and while the game is quite well-made with great jokes, cool enemies, nice sound design and pretty landscapes, I must say that some stuff really doesn’t work in “Sir, You Are Being Hunted”.

In my time in the game, I noticed that the different machine parts are spaced out too much, for instance. Sometimes, you find them and see them being heavily guarded… at other times you just stumble across the hills until you find another one by accident. The smoke pillars that should rise from them are often not really that visible from afar, so you’ve got to search a bit for them. Having a more reliable map would have been better in that regard or potentially reducing the number of parts that you have to find in total… or even making it an option to crank up or down.

Oooh, what to take and what to leave?

Another thing that just didn’t work out for me was the Survival aspect of it. During your playthrough, you have to watch your Health and Vitality. If you get hit, you need to stop the bleeding or else you’ll die. If your vitality is low, you’ll starve and die as well. The game prompts you to either go hunting to find fresh game or to just loot enemies and houses in order to find relatively fresh and quite rotten food… This – and the fact that you cannot really craft too many items in the game – make the game quite hard to get around. The inventory management that you need to take care of can be also relatively hard to get around, especially when you have to discard of junk items manually. One by one.

And well,… you can only save at the monument on the first island and at boats. When you die, you lose a lot of progress and items. Looting isn’t that satisfactory as you just hit F on a door instead of actually foraging and scavenging inside and outside of it. A lot of the items feel useless or are useless and due to the missing actual crafting system it kind of feels as if the survival aspects have just been added to the game because it seemed like a good idea.

When you’re surrounded and you’re starving, you’re basically waiting for the game to end. That’s not fun. Your last resort? Light a pipe and drink yourself into a more vital and nauseous state! Drinks give you vitality but make you tipsy… Smokes cost you vitality but do nothing else… I like the gimmick but it isn’t exactly helpful.

On top of that, you spend a lot of time travelling while crouching, which can get a bit annoying and feel way too slow. And while you get stronger by getting weapons and ammunition from enemies, the game also gets harder as there are bigger patrols, new enemies, and less places to go to for the sake of looting. Overall, the game can be quite frustrating and unforgiving but if you are searching for a challenge, this might actually be it!

Regardless of all of that, though, I’d recommend this game to others. It’s a good game in its core and the stealth parts are fun while the game is genuinely spooky – at least it was for me. I’d say that this is a great game if you’re searching for something slow but fun and somewhat relaxed to play on an evening or two. I’m not sure if it’s worth the full price though due to it being old and not getting updates on top of having some bigger issues like the survival being “eh” and the game feeling slow. 

Cheers!

Indietail – Spellbreak

A while ago, I wrote a review on Hyperscape and actually recommended it. I mean, it was fun and felt like Quake, on top of being free-to-play. But then I stopped playing Hyperscape again since I wanted to play other games and when I came back to another round or two, I noticed how hard it is for a Non-FPS-player to react in time or to make the right decisions or to aim properly. On top of that, there were some balancing issues and it felt just very frustrating to play it.

So, then I got an E-Mail about Proletariat’s Battle Royale game, Spellbreak, which is available on Epic Games (among other places) and even features crossplay! I was eyeing it for a while before eventually realising that it should, in theory, be just my cup of tea. I mean… Magic…. Combos…. Boom!

My very first game and I won! Woohoo!
Developer: Proletariat, Inc.
Publisher: Proletariat, Inc.
Genre: Battle Royale, Fast-Paced, 3D, Action, Fantasy, Third-Person
Release Date: September 3rd, 2020
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC, XONE, PS4, Nintendo Switch
Game is free to play

In Spellbreak, you essentially play as a mage using two magical gauntlets to battle it out on a big BR-style map. Before the round starts, you’ve got the choice between six different elements to use for your primary gauntlet: Poison, Wind, Lightning, Fire, Rock, and Frost. This gauntlet grants you bonus effects whenever you level up. Those effects range from immunity to your own spells to utility to more damage, so it’s worth looking into those bonuses.

During the round, you essentially try to find equipment and scrolls, as well as gauntlets that have a different magical property to your primary one. For instance, if I were to play as a Conduit (Lightning Mage), I’d be able to pick up the five other elements but I wouldn’t be able to get a second lightning gauntlet. This is quite well-made since the different gauntlets influence each other in different ways. Using the Tornado spell for instance and infusing it with Lightning, Fire or Poison damage caused it to turn into a Lightning Storm, a Fire Tornado or even a Poison Tornado, which is quite nice.

Similarily the Poison Cloud can be infused with Electricity, Fire or Ice, resulting in either an electrifying poison cloud, a big explosion or a frozen poison cloud that entraps and poisons everything inside of it! Some elements don’t mesh well together while others are unique and have very good offensive capabilities, but overall you pick what you get or what suits your playstyle the most. After all, your primary attacks (aka not the spells) also change based on your elements. Rock mages only hit ground targets with their primary attacks but can generate shockwaves and armour using their class-specific skills. Ice mages are more precise but also rather slow while Tempest mages deal less damage but can shoot out a barrage of shots!

Another interesting mechanic in Spellbreak is the Mana bar that you deplete while floating or while shooting out your primary attacks. With amulets, you’re able to gain more maximum mana, while belts increase your armour and boots increase your movement speed. If you don’t find certain items, it can get a bit hard for you to spam or run all the times. Meanwhile, as a Tempest mage with a Legendary amulet, you could very much kite enemies away.

And then, you also have potions, shield shards and abilities. Abilities also have rarities like your equipment but basically enable you to use another set of utility. Chase enemies, fly through the air or become invisible. It enhances the playstyle and I really like how there are no offensive abilities for the Shift-Slot. Unlike Hyperscape, you have your damage in your gauntlets and spells, while you use the abilities to gain momentum, push forward or flee.

Poisonous Firewall!

And then there’s the art style. The game’s heavily influenced by shows and movies like Princess Mononoke, Akira, and Avatar – The Last Airbender. This is resembled quite well in the charakter designs and how the world looks. There are different parts to the map that all have a distinct nature to them and just feel different overall. That’s something that I really enjoyed. I really like the influences the game has in terms of the art, although it got a bit hard to discern certain damaging effects on the ground from normal grounds in certain areas, which is a bit troublesome.

An issue that I have with the game, though, is how you at times can get locked into walls and you just get combo’d away. On top of that, some enemies play quite good but you have no way of adding them or making friends, overall, which is a bit of a bummer, in my opinion. Unless you write down their names or memorize them or whatever, there is not really an option, from what I’ve seen.

Don’t mind me, just hiding in this push…

And at last, I had the issue of me having a hard time with the map borders. At times, I’d go and loot a place but then the circle would move again and suddenly, I’m more than 2000 meters away from the next safe zone and the circle just runs over me. This gets annoying and frustrating over time when the game just decides to place the inner-most circle on the other side of the map. I mean, the map also gets slower at a more drastic pace compared to other games, so personally I would have changed the interval or allowed bigger circles, potentially.

In the end, Spellbreak is just another battle royale game. You have good players in there and bad players. Aiming is not as hard and important as in other games, though zoning, strafing and fast reactions are even more so.

Spellbreak has a certain tactical component to it but in the rounds that I played it always ended up being about me and other players butting our heads in when the circle stops by. It’s a battle royale, after all. It’s different from Fortnite and other games, for sure, but I’m not sure if it’s something I’m going to play forever. This is going to be something that I’ll play with friends now and then, I guess, and then I’ll get frustrated because of the meta or because of my lack of skills… and then I’ll play something else.

In the end, Spellbreak is a free-to-play battle royale game, so try it out if you wanna and don’t if you don’t wanna. I enjoyed it so far but I’d imagine that others wouldn’t. Due to the nice combo system and the mobility you have in the game, though, I’d recommend it to fans of the genre or fans of Quake and Unreal Tournament!

Cheers!

Indietail – Kill It With Fire

Winter is coming… which means that it’s springtime for spiders again. Usually, you see more in spring and summer, which is horrifying, but lately, I noticed that the heinous beasts love to get inside when it’s cold outside. Hence, it’s springtime… for spiders… in Germany! 

It’s been a while since we reviewed a title called “Kill It With Fire: Ignition“, which is why we’re now looking at the full game, “Kill It With Fire”. Before we get into it, let me just panic while I search for actual spiders in the different corners of my flat. It’s a scary world we live in, after all!

Developer: Casey Donnellan Games LLC
Publisher: tinyBuild
Genre: Action, Simulation, Comedy, Demolition, Casual
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC
Release Date: August 13th, 2020
Copy was sent by the devs.

So, what exactly is “Kill It With Fire“? – In Essence, it’s a “demolitionist’s wet dream” where you have to find and exterminate all kinds of spiders in different environments. To do so, you slap them, whack them, burn them, shoot them, slice them, and use all kinds of other weapons and objects to kill them all – while potentially also destroying a whole bunch of things in your flat, office, or in other areas.

Just like in the demo, you’re spawning into (presumably) your low-poly-house where you’re tasked with picking up your vase and opening a few drawers, as a small tutorial, I guess. Then you pick up your clipboard with more tasks and use it to punish spiders… for existing. 

Starting at that point, you’ve got to figure the game out yourself. You have certain drawers and doors, only available to you after you killed a certain amount of spiders. Other drawers aren’t available until you’ve finished a few tasks. Overall, this system gates your progress a little bit which I find necessary as you have to kill all of them. Kill them all. With Fire or not, whatever you feel like. 

In the starting level, I jumped a few times when I found a spider in an unusual spot. That’s something I could have and would have missed out on if I was able to leave immediately to go to the next area.

Among your repertoire of weapons, you have all kinds of tools to kill those gruesome creatures with. Use your clipboard, a pan, deodorant & a lighter, it’s your choice… but other objects have also found their way into your collection, like shurikens and C4! Hence, the weapons get more and more absurd and hilarious, the more you unlock and offer you a lot of different mechanics to play around with. For instance, spiders get lured in by cheese puffs… but the different flavours seem to have their own mysterious effects, as well!

All of this gets collected over a variety of nine different levels, including your home area, a Japanese-style garden, an office, a barn and a very secret military basis! 

The variety of levels is a lot of fun to play around, especially with certain side-tasks that you can do in different areas, like “washing the dishes” or “shopping”. It’s fun to go for those side-tasks, which was a bit of a surprise for me as I usually tend to get tired of games when there are tasks that are a bit fidgety or require you to have some finesse or patience.

The game’s held relatively simple with an aforementioned low-poly-style and little gimmicks in the world instead of grand graphics. The spiders are held a bit cartoony so they didn’t bother me too much. At times, of course, I got spooked by them, but over all, it wasn’t as bad as in other games featuring spiders. As far as the music goes, however, I must say that it’s grand! The jazzy vibes of the music are great and I love the small chime you hear when you open drawers or doors. Now and then, you hear some spider sounds but most of the time, you’ll get to experience a small tune here and there, accompanying your character, similar to the piano in Untitled Goose Game!

Overall, I really enjoyed Kill It With Fire. It offers you a lot of upgrades and customizable options on top of fun achievements to work towards, but there are a few things that I didn’t quite like.

One of them would be that the final level features a lot of content-gating as it urges you to backtrack but I didn’t enjoy that part too much. Instead, I would have loved to see small secrets in the final level that are gated to collectables and optional tasks, while still being able to continue with the final mission as usual. Just a small thing that I got a bit annoyed by. 

Another thing would be weapon variety… There are a lot of different weapons from normal utility items to guns to fire weapons and whatever category a saw launcher fits in… but I personally felt that all of the weapons leaned into only one direction or so. We have fire weapons and guns… Usually, fire is your weapon of choice anyway, but I just kind of felt like there was a market here that didn’t get touched upon. I would have loved to see more knives or even a katana. I would have loved to go crazy on people with a football. I would have liked it if you could pick up any and all objects and throw them at spiders as a weapon in all levels. Of course, you can pick up and throw books at them… but if that’s your weapon of choice, you won’t be able to use it in the Barn area as there’re no books nearby.

Overall, though, considering the game’s length, I wouldn’t say I minded that part too much. It’s just something that I would have liked to see more of. Overall, I had a lot of fun playing the game. After 4.3 hours, I got all the achievements and unlockables, which was fun to do. Considering the price, I would definitely recommend “Kill It With Fire” to others, though it is somewhat short, so keep that in mind.

As a small note at the end of this review, I requested to get an affiliate link for this game and actually got one. So, if you decide on buying this game, you may do so using this link and while you don’t have to pay any extra, I’ll get a commission for refering you over there. While I don’t want to commercialize my blog or anything like that, I’d like to potentially use links like that (with a big disclaimer like this) in the future to potentially earn a little bit that I then could invest into the blog again. I could, for instance, get my own domain and get it hosted somewhere else… or maybe go for a paid theme… or potentially, I could fund new game purchases using that.
Hence, you don’t have to do that, but you can if you want to.

Cheers!

Indietail – Outer Wilds

Exploration is one of those key features used by a lot of video games these days. Usually, you end up exploring an area for secrets, collectables and shortcuts, which – when done right – can be very satisfying and essentially encourage you to do it more. In today’s review, we’re talking about a game that is all about exploration and that doesn’t rely on any of those features but rather makes the player piece together all the different clues and information in order create a bigger picture of sorts. Today, we’re taking a look at Outer Wilds.

Developer: Mobius Digital
Publisher: Annapurna Interactive
Release Date: Jun 18th, 2020
Genre: Space, Exploration, Puzzle, Mystery, Adventure
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC, XBOX 1, PS4
Copy was purchased.

In a distant Solar System, we are tasked with finding out clues about an ancient civilisation only to find ourselves in a time loop similar to Majora’s Mask and Minit. After 21 real-time minutes, the sun is bound to explode, leaving us with the mission of finding out why this is happening.

Why does this universe end?
What do the ancient Nomai have to do with this?
How can we stop it?

To do this, we set out to different planets, solve a variety of puzzles, translate scrolls and ancient scriptures, so that we can get closer to the truth, one step at a time.

The Reveal Trailer is probably one of my all-time favourite trailers!

This is where the game shines. You retain all of your information whenever you die or whenever you reset. Hence, at the start of every loop, you get to lift off from the launch pad on Timberhearth, after having seemingly just dozed off at the campfire.

By scanning and translating different scriptures on walls and ancient ruins, you find out more about this ancient civilisation of the Nomai, who at first seem quite noble and distant but later become rather relatable and “normal”. You end up learning more about different tribes of Nomai that all worked together for Science and that all lived on different planets after they crashlanded in this universe.

While the leads and clues may, at first, seem daunting and overwhelming, your ship log usually tends to help you out by telling you if there’s more to explore in certain areas. It also displays the clues, all linked together, hence giving you some sort of lead to explore, if you ever find yourself in trouble.

There are two “modes” of movement in this game. You either travel from planet to planet and manoeuvre around the planets’ surfaces with your small little ship. Or you explore by foot, relying on your jetpack to reach high places if the gravity allows, and scanning things using your transcriptor. When you have a rough landing, you have to repair certain parts of your ship, like its oxygen tanks, electrical systems, the landing gear and other ones that are essential for safe travels. When you travel on foot, on the other hand, you have to watch your health and oxygen but also be sure to not get stuck somewhere without fuel. This makes for some interesting mechanics as different planets come with different hazards and gravity levels. On top of that, you, at times, have to reach certain places before your oxygen supplies run out, hence adding a little bit of pressure to you.

The different planets all shine in their own way. While Brittle Hollow has a black hole at its centre and while Dark Bramble is an enigma of its own, Giantsdeep features high gravity and a very harsh climate that allows vortexes on its surface to lift your ship and even islands into the air. I could assure you that every single planet and planetary body features a unique experience and that every journey to different sites and locations feels unprecedented and adventurous! At least, that’s something I fancied in my playthrough. Since there is no set starting point for every planet, though, you have to figure every planet out yourself and understand its systems, although you should have plenty of times for that – being trapped in a time-loop gives you a lot of time to think, eh?

Making use of a time-loop mechanic gives every 21-minute long adventure a unique vibe, that I really dig. At first, I felt a certain rush to find out as much as possible in every single loop, but then I noticed that it’s alright to take a breather at times and to enjoy the views. After all, Outer Wilds is a charming and gorgeous game, featuring a great score, some lovely dialogues, and a lot of clues, secrets and easter eggs to find in the ruins of the “old world”.

The soundtrack, composed by Andrew Prahlow, gives this title a certain adventure-vibe that helped me enjoy the ride a lot better. Different places feature different tracks while some other tracks get played when you’re getting close to your inevitable death, creating a rather fluid and non-linear experience every time you venture out into the Outer Wilds.

I love the soundtrack. I love the graphics. I love the gameplay. I love the story.

In summary, I love Outer Wilds.

Outer Wilds created a novel experience for myself, even when it has some shortcomings here and there:

Your experience at the beginning can be somewhat slow, for instance, as you try to figure out how certain planets work, where you have to go, what you’re supposed to do. I enjoyed that, myself, but I’d be able to see how this would influence other people’s experiences and how it could bother others.

You don’t have a lot of directions given to you, although there are other astronauts on every planet that you can visit to ask them for “interesting places”. Based on where you land on a planet, you get to see different places to find out other clues. At times, this can mislead you into thinking that you found out everything about a planet, resulting in you seemingly “getting stuck”. At other times, you may just be wondering how an end-game location like the Hourglass Twins tie into the whole story and what you’re supposed to do with these “timed locations”.

Overall, I wouldn’t deem this too much of an issue though. By revisiting places and by making use of your ship log, you should be able to get “unstuck” in no time and figure out new leads whenever you try out a different location or find out a new piece of the puzzle.

Another issue that I found with the game is the fact that there are some issues in the PC version of it. Your ship can seemingly take way too much damage when bumping into certain objects and at other times, you may just die from a fall that you usually would make, which I found a bit frustrating at times. Bugs are, however, very few and very rare, so usually, this just left me in confusion and didn’t make me suffer too much.

Alas, my verdict is that Outer Wilds is an exceptional game that is worth checking out if you’re interested in a “true” exploration experience with a non-linear time-loop-based story. The presentation is just magnificent and charming, the story and the end of it are just more than grand, and I’m really glad about having played through it after 24.4 hours. That whole day that I spend in there was 100% worth it!

Cheers!

Indietail – Milky Way Prince: The Vampire Star

Remember that one time where you had that magical moment where you first fell in love with someone? When the stars aligned and everything seemed perfect? When you told yourself: “This is it.”

I remember that one time where the clouds broke up and the sun was shining after this rainy day. When I spotted her, sitting next to me, doodling in her notebook. As the professor was talking about something boring, I couldn’t help myself but get caught in her countenance. It was such an average moment with nothing special to it – but I couldn’t help myself dreaming of a common future or something that connected us, even if we were strangers. I had similar moments in the past. Love at first sight. A distinct connection that you feel to people you hardly know. Fate. Destiny. Magic. Whatever, you want to call it.

Developer: Eyeguys, Lorenzo Redaelli
Publisher: Santa Ragione
Genre: Visual Novel, Indie, Dark Romance, Anime
Release Date: August 13th, 2020
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC - coming soon to Switch, PS4 and XBOX One!
Copy received from the devs.

In today’s review, we’re talking about Milky Way Prince – The Vampire Star, a partially autobiographical dark-romance visual novel about Sune and Nuki, two young men whose passionate love affair collided with their inner demons. It’s a game about intimacy, idealization and abusive relationships. Hence, there’s a trigger warning.

We play as Nuki, a young man with a fascination for stars, who is being somewhat melancholic during the last days of summer. His obsession with stars goes as far as owning a pet starfish and gazing stars at the horizon and the ceiling of his room. One day, something crazy happens and after following a shooting star, he gets to meet and falls in love with Sune, another young man who seems to be upset about something. We want to know more about the two characters. We want to discover what’s up with Sune. We want to know if it works out. I really had my fingers crossed for the two of them… but some things are not meant to be, right? Sometimes it doesn’t work out. Sometimes, your issues get into the way. Your past haunts you while you’re sabotaging your luck.

The game’s constantly enigmatic, drawing you in, wanting you to cheer for the two unfortunate souls… but then you get rejected or accepted, based on your choices and senses. You want to help Sune and you want Nuki to be happy but in certain key moments, you just end up feeling the weight of your words and the way that you can harm others. It’s not that simple.

You can’t just help someone. Even if you want to be there for them, you can cause them more pain by doing so. Get caught in the moment and make one mistake, suddenly you’re feeling down in the slumps again as you give yourself the fault for the unfortunate outcome… And then you do it again or do better and it’s just a rollercoaster of emotions. It can work out! You can make it work! Or can you? I’m not sure.

And when you think that everything is alright, nothing is. Sometimes you feel like you’re doing everything wrong but there are always (at least) two people in a relationship. There are two sides to an argument, right?

While playing the game, I constantly saw myself in the characters. Getting eager, reading too much into certain feelings, feeling the passion, being up in the clouds and wanting to feel more… and then you’re down in the slumps again. Past abusive relationships that I had made me feel just like that. I see it. I see certain patterns and I get reminded of what I did wrong, even if it’s not about me. It’s about Nuki and Sune. It’s about the past experiences of Lorenzo Redaelli, the developer of the game. It’s about intimacy and idealization. It’s about mental health and problems. It’s about passion and struggle. Love and pain.

The game follows these kinds of patterns. You have moments where you enjoy yourself with Sune or where you are talking to yourself, thinking about things, and reflecting on a lot of stuff. But there are also choices. You can change the outcome. It doesn’t have to end badly. It doesn’t have to end well. You decide. And that’s something that surprised me. Your actions, your words, they reveal secrets and information. No playthrough is like the other, and I loved that about this game.

And when Nuki is with Suni… when they love each other, you’re able to use this special and innovative mechanic where you chose different senses to influence the sex, the love, the passion. Find out something new. Bring light into the darkness… or add more shadows to it? Control what happens, without it being too graphic. I liked that idea and the different outcomes are really interesting. I’m not sure if I’ve seen something like that in other games before!

On top of that, the game’s presentation is just amazing. Very abstract and ominous. At times quiet, at times loud. The game’s original, space-y, baroque electropop soundtrack is amazing and truly adds a lot to your experience… but it also lets you reflect on things at times. When you’re alone, all by yourself… Just you by yourself, the game’s quiet. You look at your phone, at the ceiling, at your mirror, and the game’s quiet. Silence is important. I highly enjoyed that aspect.

And then there’s the colours and the art style. Abstract. Minimalistic. At times just magical. The neon colours and all the different tones of red… they just add a lot to it. Sometimes it’s brighter and sometimes darker. Usually quite fitting to your feelings and your inner world. At times you see very interesting metaphors and images, although I don’t want to spoil it too much either, right now. In the end, my experience got enhanced by this and I highly enjoyed it, especially because of this art style that is so different from other games.

I guess the only issue that I had with the game was that it, at times, was too abstract for me. There have been some similes and images that I didn’t get… I also wasn’t able to tell when something was real and when something wasn’t. At times, I was wondering if it’s just a daydream or some sort of metaphor that Nuki uses to solve the problems he has. At times, I was confused… while at other times, I wasn’t sure which interpretation and which theory would be the most accurate.

Sometimes, I also had an issue with how Sune would react to things that Nuki said. You chose some of the dialogue options but sometimes the results or the reactions of Sune would be unexpected and it made me feel helpless. This is both an issue and a feature, in my opinion, as in real situations these kinds of things happen as well. You don’t get the expected results from a conversation. You cannot completely understand everyone. It doesn’t work like that. So, at times, I felt as if the choices were worded differently from the intention that I thought they would convey… which was an issue at one or two instances… but at the same time, it adds a bit of realism to the experience.

In the end, I couldn’t really talk too much about the game’s story itself but more about its topics and what I liked about it. It was somewhat hard to not spoil anything but I think I did a good job here… especially since there is so much that I didn’t talk about at all!

My first experience with this game was awesome and I still have goosebumps even while thinking back at it. I highly recommend this game… but I’m not sure if it’s for everyone. There are certain triggers in there. If you can’t deal with heavier topics like mental health issues, abusive relationships, borderline personality disorder, and the like, I wouldn’t recommend this to you. Otherwise, it’s a great experience that is definitely worth checking out!

The different endings and plot lines, the small secrets and the different choices really add a lot of replay value to the game, and even after you’re done with one ending or a lot of them, you’ve still got a ton of room for theory crafting, analysis, and speculation, so the game doesn’t end when you’re done with it, which is interesting and one of the many reasons as to why I’m recommending this.

Cheers!

Indietail – Fall Guys

As a kid, I used to watch “Takeshi’s Castle” whenever I came home from school and I loved it. Both the candidates and the commentary were hilarious. The game modes were extremely cool as well… and then there was the final round against Takeshi himself where everyone storms the castle and it was just great! Well, today’s game has a lot in common with Takeshi’s Castle, so I thought I’d talk about that first.

Developer: Mediatonic
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Release Date: August 4th
Genres: Multiplayer, Battle Royale, Casual, Platformer
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC, PS4
Technical Beta key was received for free. 

In today’s Indietail, I’m taking a look at the Fall Guys: Technical Beta!

Fall Guys could be described as a “wholesome Battle Royale” game that takes a lot of inspiration from game shows like Takeshi’s Castle and that uses “mini games” to separate the winners from the not-winners!

I don’t usually like Battle Royale games since there is too much shooting going on and I am not too good at them. A lot of times you just get outplayed by FPS-players as a Non-FPS-player and alas, I didn’t really get into it too much. BR games that I do enjoy are ones that are different, just like Fall Guys. Instead of shooting others until only one person or only one squad is surviving, you try to manoeuvre your way through a bunch of mini-game rounds with a ton of other players around. I guess it’s not exactly a BR-game but due to the “Survive until there’s only one man standing” aspect of Fall Guys and BR games, I would call it that… but whatever.

Controls feel quite alright. You’d expect something similar to Human Fall Flat or Octodad with cute characters like that but they actually control relatively normal with AWSD and Space as your main button on top of the mouse controls to leap forward or push others. Overall quite intuitive!

The game modes get rotated through randomly with a bunch of them queued up one after another. There are a bunch of parkour-style mini-games requiring you to reach the end of the way and dodge all kinds of moving and rotating objects. It’s incredible fun to see someone in front of you getting yeeted (Yoted? Yoten? YEET!) off the platform and respawning behind you at the last checkpoint. There are also some mini-games where you just need to survive until enough people didn’t… and also a soccer-style minigame where the winning team gets to proceed.

And that’s cool! A bunch of variety and mostly about three rounds before you get to proceed. It’s hilarious to see you and other players wobble through the game… but it still gets quite competitive. I could see myself and friends play this together but I’m not exactly sure if they’d stay friends afterwards. After all, I’ve seen people push other people off the ledge or jump over there head, leaping into the goal. I’ve seen people win with the cheapest tricks… and it can also get frustrating.

There has been one round where other people constantly where jumping over my head and where I had some latency issues as well, making some jumps quite impossible. And then there were some other rounds where I didn’t have latency issues but people ganged up on me and pushed me off into some Slime… so that’s been a bit of a bummer. I also had one round where my team did little to nothing in the soccer minigame, resulting in us losing and me not qualifying for the next round… And that’s the spirit of Competitive Games – even when they’re cute, it can get frustrating or annoying. Overall though, I really enjoyed the game.

“YAY, I WON!” – this guy… not me… oof.

And most of my enjoyment came from the presentation probably. It’s still fun to get competitive. It’s incredibly fun to dwell in nostalgia, thinking back to TV shows like Takeshi’s Castle. And the presentation is just fun as well – I guess that’s the best way to describe it. “Fun”.

After completing rounds, you’re awarded Season Pass progress and you get to unlock new customs or spend your in-game currency for new cosmetics, emotes, etc.

It’s got vibrant colours and a very energetic and neat soundtrack that essentially provides the optimal tunes for the game. It’s fitting and enjoyable and different. And having a “different” soundtrack is important in this case as I’ve heard similar tunes in other games and as I got annoyed by them. That wasn’t the case in Fall Guys.

But despite all the fun I had with this game, there are some points that I didn’t like or that I’m worried about.

For one, it might get a bit too frustrating when you’re paired with people in team games that just don’t really want to play with you or that just don’t want to defend or whatever. It can be difficult and I hope that there’s going to be some sort of regulation as to how many team games there will be in the game… I’d rather like this to be more of a “Survival of the Fittest” situation than a “Get lucky with the team” situation. Of course, you could say that people probably are not intentionally losing those… but if a few of the players are having latency issues, it’s incredibly hard to win the round and alas, you get hindered by your team and lose the game based on something that isn’t your fault.

I guess you can talk about latency issues as well in this review-section but I didn’t have too many issues on that front apart from one or two rounds… and it’s in the Technical Beta phase… so of course there are bugs or issues. Duh.

On the other hand, spectating the game after you have fallen out of the competition is a pain in the butt. You don’t have to do it but I found it hilarious to watch the other participants until only one person is remaining. Betting points on participants could be quite interesting for a mechanic to make it “spicier”. Queuing up only to spectate could be a fun idea. Right now… it just needs a mechanic that shows you the leaderboard and where you can choose to spectate certain players without having to click through all of them. Might be quite nice for potential tournaments as well.

So in the end, I did enjoy this game. If you like Takeshi’s Castle and want to get competitive without having to “gid gud” at shooters, I’d recommend this game to you. It’s quite enjoyable and I think that a lot of the issues will get fixed in the actual release.

Cheers!

Indietail – Stories: The Path of Destinies

Not too long ago, we’ve taken a look at Omensight, a game made by Spearhead. Omensight combined a beautiful world and a lot of different characters with some cool mystery-solving mechanics and some insanely fun combat! This time around, we’re taking a look at its spiritual predecessor, Stories: The Path of Destinies! Strap on for another Indietail!

Developer: Spearhead Games
Publisher: Spearhead Games
Release Date: April 12th, 2016
Genres: Adventure, Action, RPG, Indie, Mystery
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Copy was purchased.

What is Stories: The Path of Destinies about?

In a world with anthropomorphic animal characters and floating islands, we’re taking control of the fox Reynardo, who retired from his brave adventures when his mother took her last breath. One day, the Empire is attacking our hometown in search of a book in our possession. We, the sole survivor of the royal assault, are escaping on our airship, we join the Rebellion and try to take on Isengrim III, the vicious toad emperor who is trying to use forgotten magic, ancient artefacts, and the elder gods who once destroyed the world to rise to power! And, well, it’s our duty to stop that from happening!

In its core, Stories is an isometric action-RPG with mystery elements. We have to solve different loose ends of the game’s story to find out how to stop Isengrim’s plan, who to trust and what exactly is going on. Just like Omensightm, Stories is based on replayability. As Reynardo reads the magical book, he finds out that it allows him to travel back to the same day upon death. With newly attained knowledge, we get to chose different options and make other choices to influence the outcome of the story.

But not always do different choices lead to different outcomes. Often, we need to find out information beforehand to actually influence the outcome of a different route, and alas we have a total of 24 different endings to discover, a whole bunch of levelling and fighting to do, and a whole bunch of characters to investigate.

Do we save our old friend Lapino, a goofy and sly rabbit who is currently being held hostage by the Empire, or do we ditch him in order to find the old artefacts that are capable of potentially sealing away the banished evil gods and defeat the emperor? The choice is yours!

A lot of the times, the story branches into different paths, resulting in a bunch of new areas to discover, information on lore as well as new dialogue options!

And not everything is as it seems. Who can we trust? Who is a traitor? Are the leaders of the Rebellion as trustworthy as we think they are? What about our old love, Zenobia, the Emperor’s daughter? Is there a way to reach out to her? And is Lapino really who we think he is? The story allows us to form our own fate and managed to surprise me over and over again with complex characters that actually change their minds or show their true colours when we go the right way.

There are about four choices in each path to make, all featuring two or three options that split the path into different branches. The branches usually end with either the world getting destroyed or you getting captured or killed, which then results in the book bringing you back in time where you can start all over again. There are four branches that reveal four truths, required to reach the final ending and the end of the game. These four truths are linked to Isengrim, Zenobia, Lapino and the ancient evil gods. When travelling back in time, your book leaves you with guidance, telling you how the choices are reflecting themselves in your future… though no future is set in stone yet as you get to play them yourselves and make a different choice at any point.

As far as combat goes, it is best describes as a simpler version of Omensight’s combat. You get to slash enemies with your sword, using a vast variety of swings and attacks, as well as abilities that you unlock through skills, counters and blocks. Using different materials, you get to upgrade your sword, adding bonus effects to it like fire damage or more attack speed. On top of that, you get to customize your character with different gems that grant you resistances or other passive effects. Overall, I felt like the combat is rather solid and a lot of fun to play. Spearhead Games learned a lot from Stories: The Path of Destinies and implemented it into Omensight which turned out to be a bit more difficult but also a lot more fun. So, I was quite satisfied with both games’ combat systems.

And then there is the world and the soundtrack: It’s beautiful… but that’s no surprise as Spearhead Games have proven themselves as a lovely studio that is very talented in world-building and game-making. The narration really adds more to the game, too! You could say that I’m a huge fan of Spearhead Games, especially as I just adore Omensight’s world and soundtrack. So it should be no surprise that I enjoyed Stories, though I’ve got to say that there is a weak point to Stories as well…

And that’s its cast of enemies:

Over time, as you go back and re-visit old areas, you’re presented with the same enemies over and over again. Of course, you find new enemy types over the course of the game and you get to fight stronger versions when you get stronger, but I never truly felt as if the game was challenging me a lot… as time went on, I struggled a bit more, but it usually was rather doable and never truly hard, so that was a bit of a downer. The combat is a lot of fun but I would have loved to see more variety in the cast of enemies that you’re facing.

But other than that, I couldn’t really find any issues with the game. It runs smoothly, the game’s plot, characters and the soundtrack are awesome, the combat is fun (though it could have been more challenging) and the exploration is quite neat as well. I highly recommend this game to any fan of well-made action-RPG games and for players who are interested in solving a mystery that involves the end of the world!

I hope you enjoyed this review! It’s been a while and I thought I’d publish it today, especially as this game is really good on top of being different from the other titles that I’ve reviewed so far.

I hope you’re having a wonderful day over there!

Cheers!

Looking out for “Traveller’s Rest”

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

But what exactly is Traveller’s Rest?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers!

Indietail – Before I Forget

In today’s Indietail, we’re talking about „Before I Forget“ by 3-Fold Games, a one-hour-long narrative experience, that shows us the story of Suni and Dylan Appleby.

Developer: 3-Fold Games
Publisher: 3-Fold Games
Release Date: July 16th, 2020
Genres: Indie, Exploration, Walking Simulator, Narrative, Adventure
Reviewed on: PC
Available for: PC
Copy received from Humble Choice.

In the beginning, we’re just thrown into this apartment, blurry sighted and left with little to no instructions. The only thing we know: We need to find Dylan. Who is Dylan? Where is he? Why is he so important to us? All these questions were going through my head while some beautiful piano music was luring me from one room into the other.

From the get-go, I was astonished by the vibrant colours and the art style that slowly pieced itself together. We can’t go anywhere. There are locked doors and other pieces that are missing, so we need to explore. Find postcards, letters and other objects to trigger certain memories and piece the story together, slowly completing the world like a puzzle of sorts.

You don’t see the bigger picture until you’re fully immersed in the game.

And being immersed isn’t too hard in this case. The story is wonderful and lovely at the beginning but slowly changes pace as the small world we live in gets completed and as more options unlock themselves before us. We can’t proceed through some hallways and cannot open some other doors. I quite literally got lost in the world and the apartment or did I? Did I move through this door already? Why is this one closed again? I could swear that I was here before? I’m confused.

Time and space seem to be mere concepts, rather abstract ones at that. The protagonist’s movement resembles that quite well. Throughout the game, the mouse and player controls feel sluggish or slow down at least, which resembles our confusion quite well. Then everything seems fine again and everything is back to normal…

We forget ourselves. We end up questioning who we are and what we have done. We know nothing about the character that we’re playing… and apparently, the protagonist doesn’t know much more either… at least yet.

The experience reminded me a lot of Answer Knot, where a relationship gets established through notes, photographs and different memories that we remember.

It’s a neat concept that is well executed.

Throughout the game, we’re accompanied by a very interesting soundtrack (by Dave Tucker) and some interesting design choices. Partly, we’re left in the silent, only hearing our footsteps while slowly moving around… partly, we’re accompanied by some nice little piano tunes that become more frequent as the game goes on… and partly, we hear this ominous humming that seems to threaten us while a black hole of sorts stops us from proceeding further into the apartment.

As time goes on, we remember more. Time doesn’t stand still. We find out about the couple and their wishes and careers. Snippets of different conversations. We read about Dylan’s tour and Suni’s research. Here and there we travel back in time to where Suni’s aunt is showing her the stars and explaining the stories and meanings of the different stars and constellations, not all of them were happy but overall it was beautiful.

And well, I’m not sure how to tackle everything else about the game. Being an immersive experience, I can’t talk about the plot too much. I’m afraid that I might have already taken a lot away from the game by only talking about less than the first half.

I guess what I could say is that I loved it. The end was beautiful, the soundtrack was superb, the art style and the shift from the vibrant colours to a darker palette was fluid and just lovely. I loved how the „world“ (aka the apartment) slowly completed itself. And speaking of the apartment, I loved how the two cultures that collided in this relationship are resembled in the flat itself, with British/Western objects and furniture on top of Indian (I think? Correct me if I’m wrong!) paintings and influences scattered throughout the flat. I loved exploring all the rooms and I loved how turning the lights on and off, changed so much about the atmosphere! I also loved how objects and furniture shifted and changed as we remembered more. Oh, and don’t get me started on the voice acting! Just lovely!

Near the end of the game, I had goosebumps from all the metaphors and symbols found in the last sections of the game (can’t talk about that as I don’t want to spoil it for anyone) – and when it was over… I was in awe.

It’s a great game. I highly recommend it.

The only thing that I could criticize would be that I would have loved to put different pieces together by myself. I would have loved it if certain things wouldn’t have been explicitly mentioned by the game. I feel like making the player think is a much stronger way of telling a story instead of actually spelling it out. It didn’t bother me too much. This way of storytelling is obviously more direct and allows more players to reach the same experience, so I guess it’s not bad… I just would have liked to find secrets or maybe even create theories about the characters, by myself, instead of finding everything out in the end… and despite most of the game being rather direct, the ending still leaves a lot of things open. If you enjoy theory-crafting, the ending is going to be lovely for you.

The game’s coming out soon, so you may want to wishlist it on Steam.

So, that’s it for the review. I guess I somehow managed to create a spoiler-free review of this short but beautiful experience. I hope that you will enjoy this experience as much as I did.

Cheers!