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!

Indietail – Disc Room

Are you ready to get sliced? Are you ready for science? Are you ready to die? If you answered any of those questions with anything, then fear not, you’re on your way on one helluva ride with today’s review, Disc Room!

The year’s (not 2021 but) 2089 and a giant disc has appeared in Jupiter’s orbit. Now, it’s your job to explore said Disc… FOR SCIENCE! Explore a majority of rooms filled with deadly discs and survive until all the goals of the room are completed. Compete against your friends, solve puzzles, unlock abilities, and die! 

Developer: Terri (Vellmann), Dose(one), Kitty (Calis), JW (Nijman)
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Genre: Action, Adventure, 2D, Violent, Difficult, Indie
Release Date: October 22nd, 2020
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC, Switch
Copy was purchased.

Disc Room is a Race-Against-The-Time-ish Action-Adventure where you dodge deadly blades, discs, or whatever you want to call them. In about 50 different rooms, you need to keep all your eyes open and look around you in 360° to be able to dodge everything and anything. There are a plethora of disc types from big ones to small ones to homing and time-slowing discs. Dying at the hand of different blades can result in you unlocking abilities that help you survive, like the time-slow ability, the dash or the cloning-ability.

At first, the game seems rather simplistic and not that challenging – but eventually, you end up having to solve puzzles in the rooms. How are you supposed to die in less than 0 seconds? How do you die while there are four discs in the room, when there are only two, to begin? What does “Feed ????? 4 ?????” mean, and how do you accomplish it? The game grants you a lot of different puzzles that revolve around using the game’s mechanics to survive or not-survive in creative ways, which is awesome! 

Once you end up fighting so-called Gatekeepers aka Bosses and unlock new areas, each with their own themes, the game’s pace really picks up, as you get to explore each area independantly as long as you complete some goals. Just backtrack later and check older rooms out again once you feel confident in doing them! Each of the areas is special with different enemy types and new mechanics introduced. 

On top of that, the game offers a lot of replayability because of… a little friendly rivalry! I played it for the first time while watching my friend Jimmi play it on Stream. Whenever he beat a room, I was already on beating his time and surviving longer than him. I loved it when he was shocked to see that I was already at 24 seconds in one of the rooms when he was stuck at 16. While he tried to beat my 24-second-record in said room, I was beating his other records. Eventually, he got better than me, but if I try very hard, I’ll manage to screw him over again, for sure! I love it. 

I feel like the goals of the rooms and the Metroidvania-ish aspects of it (solving puzzles and problems with abilities that you unlock later into the game) really make this game special and a ton of fun, especially since these aspects are paired with tons of achievements, collectables, and the friendly rivalry integrated through your Steam friend list. 

The art style is simple but the game really doesn’t need to be more detailed, to be honest. The animated cutscenes are cute and offer a bit of mystery about the game’s story while also providing you with some interesting comics here and there. In General, the game has this web-comic-vibe that I really fancy. 

On top of that, the soundtrack is awesome! It’s a real SpaceWave/SynthWave banger that I could listen to for ages. Good thing that you can buy the Soundtrack as well over here, featuring 53 tracks. It’s anthemic, adrenaline-inducing, and just great! Might become one of my favourites!

All that being said, there are a few issues with the game. Being a game with saw blades and a lot of Violence, you may encounter a lot of Gore, which is unsettling and displeasing… but you have a warning for that on the Steam store, so that’s completely fine. My issue with it is that some of the rooms contain flashing lights and effects where the light turns dark and then bright again, which really messed with my eyes. Personally, I don’t have a problem with epilepsy but since it even fucked with my eyes, I’d imagine that other people could have real problems with it… but there is no warning about flashing lights and potential epilepsy triggers in the game, which is somewhat upsetting.

Apart from that, while I love the puzzles, I feel like it sometimes is a bit hard to get to clues on your own. A few times, I had to ask friends for input on the golden discs and what they think. I would have preferred if a room on the other side of the map would offer a clue to the puzzles in some way rather than you just have to do things.

At the same time, the game sometimes needs you to die from different disc types… but apparently, the different boss forms also count towards that, which is annoying, to say the least, because it shouldn’t be a thing. If a boss is already accounted for, why does the boss’ husk count as something separate. Otherwise, I’m completely fine with the difficulty and the challenge of the game but that little thing there just annoyed me a little bit.

Overall, however, the game’s great and provides a lot of entertainment, especially with the Achievements, the Steam Leaderboards, and the awesome soundtrack. I’d love it if more people could check this title out over here.

Post review commentary:

Anyways, I hope you’re having a great start into the new year! Personally speaking, 2020 has felt like a meat grinder (haha) – but I have high hopes for 2021! Hope you do, too! Happy New Year! Today’s review is the last one that I’ve prepared before going to my parents at the end of last year. Hence, look forward to more *fresh* content with that 2021-flavour in it!

Cheers!

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

Indietail – Yuppie Psycho

I remember my first day at work as if it was yesterday. It wasn’t at some weird office job with construction going on or whatever but in an old mill that got transformed into a restaurant. I wanted to make a quick buck by working as a waiter on top of getting some experience in. I got the job immediately but it caused me a lot of anxiety having to start in a new environment. This sense of anxiety got even worse when my coworkers would bark at me for no reason while an Irish man called me a “fish out of water”. And while I’d never like to get back to that sort of anxiety again, I thought I’d dive into the corporate horror that Yuppie Psycho presents us with.

Developer: Baroque Decay
Publisher: Another Indie
Genre: Survival, Horror, 2D, Stealth
Release Date: April 25th, 2019
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC, Switch
Copy was purchased.

Yuppie Psycho is a Survival Horror Game developed by Baroque Decay where we take control of Brian Pasternack who is about to start his first day at Sintracorp. “Uncertain, unprepared, and massively unqualified” we’ll try to rise and shine in Sintracorp’s hierarchy. Our first assignment? Kill the witch that is influencing the workers around here in a negative way.

In Sintracorp, there are no supervisors! Do whatever you want to! Work whenever you want to! Explore the area whenever you want to! Yuppie Psycho doesn’t really give you instructions but hints you at directions. In the beginning, you need to find the Hexenhammer in the Archives on Floor 7. Alas, you go there and get riddles and puzzles to solve. Later, you just have to figure out where you can unlock abilities or new ways to access older levels. The game hints you at directions but you’re free to go wherever you want to! The whole world is open to you… Well, apart from the exit door that you literally cannot go through since Sintracorp needs you and it’s only your first day of work.

Something that I really liked about the game was the tongue-in-cheek humour that you encounter. Saving the game is done by copying your face using Witch Paper, for instance, and coffee heals you. Albeit these examples not sounding too original, there are a lot of other moments in the game that made me chuckle out loud more than just once. Sometimes, I’d just remember that one event where we got our nickname and I’d just be chuffed to bits. Obviously, I cannot spoil those.

The art style is rather detailed for a 2D-title featuring impressive cutscenes and fun pixel-art that really made the game seem grotesque and scary at times but also kind of cute in a bizarre way. On top of that, the game confronts you with a very fantastic soundtrack that just gives me the creeps and fills me with joy whenever I think back at it. Honestly, I’m in love with the presentation and the absurdity of the whole game.

So, back to gameplay, a lot of things are trying to kill you and to prevent them from doing so, you essentially need to make cup noodles, sandwiches, and coffee, grab snacks and water, or stick items into other objects to solve puzzles. A lot of the boss fights seem kinda intuitive. You see stuff that hurts you and use it to hurt the boss instead. I feel like I did the first boss in an intended way… but I’m not entirely sure just yet. I feel like the game is giving the player a lot of freedom in how they can and want to play the game.

This stretches even further when you take a look at how the game is built up. You have different areas that are accessible through the elevator. You check out all of the different floors and see where you need certain abilities or items to get through but you don’t know what items or abilities you need until you find them. Brian, the main character, is sometimes giving you hints but more often than not you’re left alone and while that may leave people wondering on how to produce results, you’re never really forced to. You always tend to have enough time to figure it out on your own and the puzzles don’t feel too far-fetched. Instead, Sintracorp really lets you be your own boss. And that’s great.

Now, as far as things go that I got bothered by, I’d like to mention how the saving system of using Witch Paper and Ink Cartridges kind of feels a bit too complicated. I don’t like it when you cannot save whenever and the overall system is just a bit too “eh”. Also, I would have liked at least one auto-save in the beginning after getting to your office, as the game crashed there twice and as I had to redo the beginning twice, which was a tad annoying. To be fair though, crashes didn’t seem common. On the contrary, my streaming of the game probably took a hit on my computer, so I’d let that pass.

Apart from that, I wasn’t really bothered by anything. I would have maybe enjoyed having more accessibility options in the menu like turning off flashing lights and replacing it with a dimmed option or something like that. On top of that, it could have been nice to get some options to highlight interactable objects or make the game easier for people that have a hard time with survival horror titles, to begin with.

Yuppie Psycho, in essence, is a game that surprised me in a lot of ways. It’s a fantastic game with a great art style, story and soundtrack. The puzzles mostly feel good to solve and more often than not I had to chuckle instead of getting scared. I’m not a huge fan of Horror games but this game was actually quite bizarre and fun with fewer scares and more creeps going on. On top of that, choices matter as well to a degree here and sinfluence the ending considerably, so I’m looking forward to going through it again, eventually, as there is a lot of replayability with these seven endings, all of the collectables and the amount of things to do in the game. To sweeten the deal, Yuppie Psycho also got a free DLC upgrading the game to the “Executive Edition” adding new bosses, areas and more stuff overall neatlessly into your game, so that’s quite cool, in my opinion.

Now, I don’t give scores but I definitely recommend this game to fans of the genre that want to experience true corporate horror. If I was to give a score, it’d be a solid 9 out of 10, I think. It’s a great game but the missing accessibility options turned me off a tad.

Don’t get fired, stay healthy, and be kind to others!

Cheers!

Indietail – Per Aspera

Ever since I was a child, I had this fascination with space. I’d often catch myself wondering what’s out there and how far it goes. My parents often wouldn’t be able to answer some questions, and I often would end up just wondering and dreaming of becoming an astronaut or maybe even living out there in that dark space full of shining stars. When I then realised that I needed to learn to swim and study a lot, I quickly gave up on that dream. Luckily, games let us experience those adventures and that sense of exploration without us needing to study or train a lot – games like Per Aspera, for instance.

Developer: Tlön Industries
Publisher: Raw Fury
Genre: Colony Sim, Base Building, Space, City Builder
Release Date: December 3rd, 2020
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC
Copy was sent by the publisher.

Per Aspera lets you step into the role of AMI, an Artificial Consciousness that can feel and think like any human but without all the physical limitations. Our mission? Terraform and colonise Mars! Build up a base with mining sites, factories, power production and maintenance facilities. Research tech trees for alternate ways of terraforming Mars, like guiding methane meteoroids into the atmosphere, creating or importing greenhouse gases, and always keep track of the colonies that are already arriving, as well as the changes that you’re causing the planet to go through. 

In essence, it feels like a neat little Colony Sim in Space with its own systems, challenges and features. But what surprised me initially is that the game features a story. As we continue AMI’s mission, we face a lot of different hardships and challenges. At one point, we’re getting meteor showers, at another we’ve got to brace ourselves against dust devils, and at another… we are being sabotaged? What is going on on this planet?, I ask myself, before trying to figure out solutions to my problems. A lot of colony sims don’t feature stories since it’s literally a game where you create your own colonies, cities, or countries. You reign over your patch of dirt and just think of “lore” as time goes on… if at all. 

The story’s well-written and the voice cast is just phenomenal. Troy Baker and the others are really bringing the game to life. 

Instead of an intrusive and annoying tutorial, you’re being greeted by voice lines from different characters in the beginning hours of the game. The “tutorial” is basically making you do things by listing objectives in the directory, but you’re free to do whatever you want at any given time until you run out of resources. Alas, you build your first aluminium mine, get factories and power going, build up space-ports and colonies, research things, and eventually, you’ll just explore, expand, exploit, and… you don’t exterminate, I guess? There are enemies at one point but you’re trying to bring Mars to live and not destroy it, right?

Anyways, while the little worker-robots are not that detailed, the game looks stunning otherwise. Most of the time, you’re zoomed-out anyways, so I was able to overlook the less-detailed workers, drones and buildings. The planet is amazing and as you pan the camera and zoom in and out of orbit, you get to take it all in, take a breather and relax a little while your workers are gathering resources. I’d say that the atmosphere wasn’t that great (ha, space joke) but it’s been a great game for the most part.

And I say “for the most part” because I had some struggles with it as well. Having played the game for longer sessions mostly and having started colonies multiple times now, I noticed that the soundtrack – while somewhat funky and great at the beginning – just got on my nerves. Hearing the same track over and over again really annoyed the heck out of me until I eventually turned it off and listened to some other spacey soundtracks or playlists. At the same time, I often would end up getting soft-locked into stages where my workers were not doing the prioritised work and I would constantly lose some until I eventually gave up after accepting that this indeed is a soft-lock. 

Starting a new base, again, is annoying and frustrating, as you’ll have to make your way through the same opening dialogue and the same story again. Building up your base feels the same more often than not. You can tweak your decisions and try to do something different but eventually, the excitement falls off. This continues into your longest colony as well: As you unlock more sites to play with, you land there, build up your production line and have to hope that the RNG doesn’t screw you over with resource nodes in the weirdest places. Starting a new base at another location in addition to your current base gets annoying and doesn’t feel too good, to be honest.

What got me hooked initially is the fact that you’re actually able to change the planet. You’re not accepting it the way it is but instead, you do your job and terraform the heck out of the planet. Using C02 you’re able to raise the temperature of the planet to melt the ice caps. Then you import different gases to raise the temperature… eventually, you’ll end up pumping oxygen into the atmosphere but if you do soon, you’ll end up burning your base up since oxygen, in fact, is really flammable. It’s a bummer, however, that you aren’t able to move parts of the mountains away, giving you more space to build in, or maybe just forming the planet using other techs or builders of sorts to fill in craters and change the shape of things. I would have wished for something like that.

Another thing I would have wished for would have been more priority levels, an overview of the buildings and materials you’ve got going on, or maybe even options to point your factories into producing specifically for the other factory or whatever. While the minimalistic approach to the UI is fancy in a way… It also was not to my liking. The information I needed wasn’t available to me. At the same time, I didn’t get notified at all about resource nodes running out, colonists starving, workers getting destroyed, etc. When I wanted to do something about that, I could prioritize one building over another… but that’s it. With only one priority level, the worker bots would just let the world burn and do nothing or rather do something… just not what I want them to do. 

The game has a lot of issues and by throwing curveballs at you when you’re still fixing the issue from before, I had a rough experience that wasn’t that great at all after a while. While I enjoyed the game for eight hours straight, I got overly frustrated with it past that. The music is nice but gets annoying. The tech tree is boring. The sandbox mode is just a campaign without the story. The building feels janky… and eventually, the game turns into an RTS-ish game with enemies attacking you while your base is on fire. The developer says that the game is “hard” but even on the easiest difficulty, I feel like it’s just unfair and annoying, at best.

All in all, I really want to love this game. It’s great that a game is taking a shot at the whole “terraforming” thing through science and atmospheric stuff and all of that… and while the story and the look of it are lovely, I’m just not sure if I can recommend it, in its current state. I’d be more than happy to revisit Per Astera eventually again and see if it’s worth playing… but right now, I’m not too sure on the whole “per Aspera ad Astera” part as there are way too many hardships and not enough stars for that.

Cheers!

I played Phasmophobia for the first time

So, Phasmophobia is a game that exists and is rather popular right now. Some friends of mine wanted to play it with me but I knew that if I were to pick it up, I’d end up playing it and then everyone would stop playing it suddenly. It’s a curse with multiplayer games that I’ve picked up in the past and hence, I hesitated on picking it up myself… but then MuddChi gifted it to me, so I played it for the first time with her and I had a lot of fun actually.

For anyone that doesn’t know Phasmophobia, it’s a game that explores the premise of investigating ghosts and paranormal activities. You take on jobs and search for clues that reveal the type of ghost you’re dealing with. These clues can range from temperature drops to it talking to you to flickering lights and other things.

For our first job, we went to a house where we found a random bone lying around. MuddChi took a picture of it while I was uwu-ing into the “Spirit Box” that allows me to talk to specific types of ghosts. We set up cameras and observed a “ghost orb”, a will-o-wisp kind of light that floats through the room. This already reduces the number of potential suspects from twelve to six! We then investigated the room more to see if we could find some fingerprints, using the UV light… nothing to be found. That means that it’s not a Poltergeist. My constant “uwu”-ing into the Spirit Box also didn’t result in any paranormal activities or other responses… the ghost must have thought that I’m an idiot. I tried asking it about its age, location, and whether or not it wants to hurt us: No response. 

We weren’t too sure if it was just shy or if it just doesn’t speak to us… but for now, we were able to rule out the Jinn, Poltergeist and Mare, leaving only the Shade and Yurei. The Yurei has a stronger effect on the players’ sanity while the Shade is really shy but apart from that, there aren’t any characteristics that would explain one or the other for now. Alas, we had to either detect Freezing Temperatures or an EMF 5 Reading… but since we couldn’t detect either and since we didn’t want to just guess it, we decided to go for a bold move: Provoking it.

Since it was in the main room of the house, right next to the door, we ended up having MuddChi check the activity while I’m throwing out insults at the ghost. The EMF reader was on the ground, giving out a reading based on nearby activity… and if it was nearby, it would either spike to a reading of 5 or I’d be able to see my breath. I decided to turn on the local voice chat and just constantly swear into my microphone, yelling “fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck” into my headset. With the crucifix on the ground, I felt safe, until the EMF reader picked up a strong signal. I tried taking a picture using my camera but was too slow. The ghost’s shadow appeared, scared the shit out of me, and vanished. I took a step back and was out of its reach – outside of the house. We got it, I thought. It’s a Shade! 

We cash in experience points and money and moved on to the next job. 

For the next job, at some small street house, we first checked out the basement to see if we get any readings or anything like that… but there was nothing. No significant temperature drops, no fingerprints, or any EMF readings. In the entryway, however, we found yet another bone and took a picture of it. There, we noticed a painting falling down and dishes being thrown around. Is this a poltergeist or does someone just not like to do the dishes?

After a while, MuddChi found fingerprints, reducing the number of ghosts to a measly five: The Spirit, the Wraith, the Poltergeist, the Banshee and the Revenant. Since the fingerprints were nearby, we threw down our tripods and cams to observe potential ghost orbs and placed our ghost journal with utmost care. No Ghost orbs meant that it’s not a Poltergeist, leaving us with only four potential ghosts! Since the Spirit and the Wraith both can be found via the Spirit Box, I tried speaking to it. The other two ghosts would need EMF readings but I already had the Spirit Box with me. 

I really wanted to talk to it and maybe make a new friend, so I stayed in the vicinity of the Ghost Journal and started asking questions. “How old are you?” got an answer: “OLD.” I was surprised. It’s either the Wraith or the Spirit. I should be able to soon see Ghost Writing or Freezing Temperatures to identify which one of the two it is. I didn’t see my breath yet and the Ghost Journal was empty. I tried talking to it again, asking what it wants to do. “HURT”, the ghost responded. Shivers went down my spine and I hated every single bit of this job. 

Why is this so scary? Why am I so scared of this when there’s really just a voice speaking to me and nothing else? “Who do you want to hurt?”, I ask. No response. “Do you want to hurt us?”, I clarify… No response. “Are you here?” – The ghost didn’t seem to like my questions as the activity went up again and as it seemed to not like answering it. “Give me a sign”, I spoke, and candles started falling down from the desk. I let out a small “Oh, fuck” only to see that the Ghost Journal was filled with something. “DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE”, it said. I was both anxious and relieved. It’s a spirit. Ghost Writing, Fingerprints and Spirit Box? Yup, a spirit. We entered the evidence into the journal, packed up and closed the hatch. Our trunk went off and we got our experience and money. It was a successful day and while it was really scary… I’m somewhat looking forward to playing another time. 

So, Phasmophobia is quite scary. It’s more about psychological Horror and you do your best to actually get the right clues and find the ghost. It’s a nice game and I hope that it gets the necessary funding to eventually receive even better and more elaborate updates! For this play session, I was joined by MuddChi who does stream on Twitch more often than not. She’s a great streamer and a close friend of mine, so I’d highly recommend checking her stream out if you haven’t already! The game itself is great but I seem to get enough of it after a job or two since it can be really scary and since I’m a scaredy-cat. 

You can find Phasmophobia over here on Steam. It’s currently in Early Access, so it’s still in development and can feature a lot of bugs and crashes, potentially. So beware of that. Personally speaking, I’d recommend it, although I’m not sure if this post gives you any insights on the game and its issues or why it’s so good, so this is not necessarily a review or anything like that. If you ever feel like playing Phasmophobia with me and some friends, be sure to join the discord and chat with us!

For now, though, I’ll try to get some sleep. I just did two jobs with a few friends and I’m actually quite scared. I hope you enjoyed this post! 

Cheers!

Edit: This post was in the wrong category and is now properly placed in The Gaming Journal instead of The Stray Sheep. Sorry for that!

Indietail – Spooky’s Jump Scare Mansion

With Halloween around the corner, I thought I’d review my favourite Horror Game to play every year. It’s a free-to-play title that is truly horrifying and gets me every damn time. It may not be the scariest or the most refined game – but it does its job well at luring you into a sense of security before striking with a nice little scare! Welcome to my review on Spooky’s House of Jump Scares Spooky’s Jump Scare Mansion!

As a quick note before we head into the review, the game does contain violence and flashing lights, so be warned if you have issues with that!

Developer: Lag Studios, Akuma Kira, AMGSheena
Publisher: Lag Studios
Genre: Horror, Cute, Atmospheric, First-Person
Release Date: July 28th, 2015
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC
Copy is available for free.

So, Spooky’s Jump Scare Mansion is, as the title suggests, about Spooky’s Mansion that is filled with an abundance of Jump Scares. You have to make your way through 1000 rooms in order to get out of there, diving deeper and deeper into the depths of the Mansion, finding bits and pieces of the lore of previous survivors or survival attempts, and in the end, you’re trying to survive.

Oh , gosh darnit, this is so cute but scared the living hell out of me!

As previously noted, the game lures you into a sense of security before striking with a nice little scare. The game does that by setting a certain atmosphere with creepy sounds, some memorable music as well as passages that are plain silent. Personally, I adore the use of silence in Horror Games as it allows the player to relax every once in a while before adding more suspense to the experience. It also lets them take a breather before striking even harder, something that usually works well. And well, the game does that often and exceptionally well, working with chase sequences, cardboard cutouts and different enemies to scare the shit out of you.

And that’s lovely. Usually, I don’t like cheap tricks like Jump Scares but, in this case, it’s the overall premise of the game, so I don’t really mind, especially with how cute the jump scares are at the beginning.

This guy leaving notes and comparing himself to a story’s sidecharacter… SMH

The simplicity of the UI combined with the easy-to-understand premise of the game allows for a great and memorable experience that I enjoyed. The gameplay consists of you walking through one door after another while the counter at the top-right corner of the screen counts up until it reaches 1000. You’re able to sprint, making use of your stamina, as well as take a few hits (as indicated by the health bar) and, well, that’s it. It’s simple but as time goes on the game features vast corridors, grand rooms and even forests filled with its enemy times.

As time goes on, the game also adds completely separate areas to the game, counting as one room but factually offering way more than just that. There you have to hide from enemies or find a key or solve another puzzle to get to the next “room”. The way that Lag Studios set up their game and the way that they execute the scares and the changes in the atmosphere is rather superb. They got me good quite often and were able to surprise me several times with new mechanics and areas.

The simple-looking graphics are effective at conveying a certain feeling with you, which is something that I really need in Horror titles. Meanwhile, the room-count that is steadily getting closer and closer to the big 1000 is giving you that feeling of progress that you need to go on. Personally, I had a blast, trying to complete it in one sitting, and as time went one, I ended up really enjoying this race to the thousand and my attempt of staying perseverant.

A MANSION IN THE MANSION?! WOAH!

Furthermore, the soundtrack of the game is just superb. From time to time, you’re greeted by each of the specimens’ themes indicating who’s following you. There are a few different encounters but whenever you hear a certain tune, you know that it’s that specific encounter and not some other monster or ghost or puppet. That’s something that I enjoyed about the game. The sounds, the voice acting, and the times of quiet were well-placed and added a lot to the game!

But that’s not all there is to this game: There’s also the great and self-ironic writing, the cameos and easter eggs found in the Mansion, and the countless other jokes and references that really made me chuckle. Seeing Kyubey from Puella Magi Madoka Magica on a poster in the elevator was great, seeing a “Doom 1”-styled poster in another was even better, realising that there’s a Hatsune Miku doodle in one of the rooms, reading these self-aware notes as well as seeing images inspired by the SCP Foundation, and experiencing some areas themed around other horror games, really made my day. Rooms that look similar to some of the Silent Hill Games or other areas that were designed like a part in Amnesia: The Dark Descent freshen up the game and bring more variety into the pot of goodness that is cooking over this metaphorical fire of uh… jump scares… or something.

Is it gone? Can I leave my hiding place? Am I safe?

Aaaanyways,… the game is great – but here and there you can still find some issues with it.

An issue that I had, for instance, was that the screenshot-function in Steam as well as the in-built Screenshot-Function doesn’t seem to work properly. At times, you would get bad and weirdly cropped screenshots that are heavily delayed. At other times, it doesn’t take the screenshot at all, which is something that I as a reviewer didn’t like, mainly since I enjoy taking screenshots and posting them in my reviews – taken from the original game by me for you. Regardless of that, I still managed to get some good ones here and there, as you can see in this post.

Another thing that I disliked about the game was the use of graphical glitches to represent “hallucinations”. Now and then the room turns into a mess and the textures get switched out, making the game rather hard to play. This happens only for a short while or only one room but it makes it hard to see where the doors are, which is its intension… but it can also get quite frustrating, especially when you’re being chased by something. I don’t know how colour blindness would work with these features, so in theory, this could ruin someone’s experience a hefty amount… and overall, it doesn’t add much to the experience, so I would have left that out.

Heh, this brings back memories…

In the end, Spooky’s Jump Scare Mansion manages to scare the heck out of you while also amusing you with some great dialogues, interesting mechanics, cool easter eggs, and the cutest ghost in the world! I can highly recommend this game to anyone who’s in search of a short but scary experience! It’s available for free on Steam. I think you can also grab it on PlayStation VR but as I don’t have any consoles, I wasn’t able to check that out.

The main game can be played through in about three to four hours – but you also have some replayability with the Endless Mode that features an all-new mansion and a leaderboard. There is also a DLC for the game called Karamari Hospital, featuring less of a perserverance-challenge and more of a puzzle-area where exploration is rewarded and where try to progress through this bizarre and scary hospital!

I wish you an early Happy Halloween! If you end up playing this on October 31st, Spooky (the ghost from above) actually is shown in a different get-up, so I can highly recommend trying it out then!

Cheers!

Indietail – Ring of Pain

"Roguelike flavour, card game pacing, 
dungeon crawl, chaos embracing. 
Shadows cast a truth to see. 
In the darkness, you can visit me." 
Join me as I venture deep, 
fear not you don't have to take a leap. 
Since if you're looking for something to play that's new, 
I've got you covered with my Ring of Pain review.

Honestly, Simon Boxer and Twice Different did such a great job with the rhymes, so I shouldn’t really bother with it and just leave it to them. Oh jeez, that sucked. Anyways, welcome to yet another Indietail!

Ring of Pain, a title that I’ve been excited for quite some time, has come out just a few days ago and honestly, I love it. It’s dark, mysterious, and creepy. It leaves you in the shadows so that you learn on your own and essentially, it really gives me that “one more run” feeling whenever I die, which is glorious and something that I’ve been missing from other titles that I’ve played lately. 

Developer: Simon Boxer, Twice Different
Publisher: Humble Games
Genre: Dungeon Crawler, Roguelike, Card Game, Difficult
Release Date: October 15th, 2020
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC, Switch
I received the copy by the devs but the opinions are my own.

But what is Ring of Pain about? After awakening, an owl greets us from our slumber, handing us a candle to light at the depths of this ominous place that we find ourselves in. Hence, we venture deeper and deeper, facing more and more challenges, getting stronger and eventually, we reach the depth of this place and have the choice of engulfing the world in shadows or enlightening it to change it forever. Apart from that, we also get to meet a dark entity of sorts that advices us to do the opposite of what owl says and to not trust owl at all… although the owl says the same about that dark fellow, so there are a lot of rhymes, lore snippets and other information to be gathered in the game as you go on but after a few hours, I know basically nothing about the game, to be honest.

The superior choice!

When you start off, you’re essentially only equipped with a candle that grants you some clarity and improved stealth chance. You venture deeper into the dungeon, fighting foes by clicking onto them, finding items to get stronger and essentially improving your stats to fare better against your foes. The better your stats and your build, the better your chances of survival – but mostly, you need your wits.

Enemies come in all kinds of forms with their own patterns and stats. Some of them explode on death, dealing damage to you and foes alike. Some other enemies attack you relentlessly, some attack you only when they pass you, while others don’t allow you to pass at all, essentially blocking the road. There are all kinds of enemies and once you discover them and learn how to deal with them, the gameplay becomes very tactical and strategic, which is something that I really enjoyed. 

Sam got a gift for us!

Do you move to the right to prevent that exploding fellow from blowing up in your face but risking that that right fellow hits you, or do you take the hit but kill the right fellow in the process? Do you take the risk of reducing your defensive stats by taking the Glass Shield, only for better dodge chance and more attack damage? Honestly, at times it feels like a huge gamble when you go through the dungeon and pick up items and later come to regret them. Sometimes you have to calculate and take risks but more often than not, these risks paid out for me, which is why the game is so much fun to me. Personally, I’m more of a careful and tactical player in other games but Ring of Pain makes it easy for me to take risks at times as it never fails to project the consequences for my actions. Enemies show their intentions for the next turn while damage numbers are reflected on my health bar when I hover over the options available to me. This damage projection in the game feels really good as it lets you plan out your next, if not “your next few”, moves.

Deeper and deeper!

And while I could mention how the stats work, I don’t really have to because it’s as simple as it gets. You strike harder when you’ve got a high attack stat, for instance, and the other stats are quite self-explanatory as well. The game systems make sense and the game teaches you those systems quite well. If you hover over the stats and card-keywords, you learn about them, too, which really helps beginners get into the game while helping veterans freshen up their memory. On top of your “standard” stats, Ring of Pain also features a chance to perform critical strikes, dodge damage or potentially sneak away, all influenced by either your items, your speed stat or your clarity stat, which I found quite neat. 

The game is easy to get into but hard to master. The UI being very intuitive is essentially necessary for a game like this that punishes you for every wrong choice you make. 

Where to go? What to do? Oh wait, it’s a gg!

So, I really enjoyed the gameplay side of things and the countless runs that I had so far and could go on and on about builds that I tried out and about why the spoon is so overpowered… but there’s more Ring of Pain. The whole aesthetic of the game, the enemy design, the writing and the art of the game, created by Simon Boxer, on top of the phenomenal soundtrack created by Belinda Coomes, and the spine-chilling and terrifying sounds made and implemented by Damion Sheppard really give this game this certain dark and creepy vibe that I just love. I love Ring of Pain for the specific reason that it’s fun and creepy. It’s dark, it’s gritty. At times, it’s horrifying. I love it. 

But despite loving it so much, there are some flaws here and there. For instance, there are the monument rooms that just never really seem to pay out? The fountain of life, as an example, reduces your maximum health but heals you fully, which is something that works but the game never tells you that it does that. You have to figure it out yourself. Another monument room seems to destroy your gems and give you a stat payout but the game – that is otherwise really good at projecting the consequences of your choices – doesn’t really tell you what happened after it happened, which made me just avoid those rooms. 

…was a good run!

Another flaw in the game is the difficulty curve after the candle-room where you make your choice. One of the choices leaves you with a boss-fight that I found rather hard to deal with… the other choice brings you into a new area with stronger enemies and it’s also a bit hard to get through, compared to what came before, so essentially I didn’t enjoy how steep the difficulty curve turned out to be near the end of the game, resulting in me having to yet finish a run all the way through. But the time will come when the stars align, and eventually, I’ll be able to beat the Ring of Pain…

…and when that time comes, I’ll play another run. And another one. Because I like this game a lot. While the flaws are there, they probably will get balanced eventually and there are updates to come, from what I’ve gathered, so there is still a lot to do. On top of normal runs, you also can unlock items for your future runs or play daily challenges that are seeded and feature over 25 modifiers. You can essentially compete with other players in those for the leaderboard, which I found interesting, although not exactly my cup of tea. Being a roguelike, Ring of Pain offers a lot of replayability with its 150+ items and 50+ creatures to discover, a story to unravel, 25+ special rooms to find, a branching ending, hard mode, 50+ achievements, and a bunch of other features that make the game more fun as you go on. 

Another unlock for the future runs!

Hence, I’m recommending this game to everyone who’s in search of another roguelike to play in Spooktober or afterwards. It’s creepy, it’s ominous, it’s glorious. The gameplay is fun, I haven’t encountered any bugs and overall, it’s great.

Cheers!

Indietail – Drake Hollow

After my post about Drake Hollow and why I’m so excited and after the interview we did with TMF’s Forrest Dowling,… It finally is time for my review on Drake Hollow. Welcome to yet another Indietail! And I’m excited about this one!

Developer: The Molasses Flood
Publisher: The Molasses Flood
Genre: Colony Sim, Base Building, Exploration, Co-Op, Open World
Release Date: October 1st, 2020
Reviewed on: PC (solo)
Available on: PC, Xbox One
Copy was purchased.

Drake Hollow is an action village-building game that you can play solo or with your friends. After a breakup, the protagonist is seen dwelling on a rock before a speaking crow approaches them and invites them into a new world where they are needed. Welcome to the Hollow where the Drakes are threatened by various creatures and where familiars roam the lands searching for people like you that can help the Drakes. The Drakes are small little creatures that need food, water and entertainment. They can literally die of boredom as the game emphasizes on multiple occasions. You build your small little village, go out on explorations and defend against the various enemies found in the game.

This gameplay loop of exploring, building and looting is the main aspect of the game. It keeps the game fresh and prevents it from becoming stale. As you find loot, you’re able to craft items, build defence and utility structures, take care of the Drakes and eventually, you’ll get a ten-minute countdown to the next raid that is coming in and needs defending. The Drakes help the player by being absolutely adorable and bringing in some life into the world… and they also gift you items and provide you with various buffs that help you survive, improve your combat capabilities, or influence your efficiency in various regards.

Speaking of combat, it is all relatively simple. You have a melee and a ranged attack on the mouse buttons. You’re able to find weapons and ammunition by looting old buildings and other islands. The fun thing is that anything can and will be a weapon: From a coat rack to a tennis bat to a rake or a weed whacker. I enjoyed finding fun and interesting weapons that could be categorized into heavy and light weapons. The aiming with the ranged weapons felt quite nice and while melee combat isn’t the most complicated, I noticed that you can cancel some of the animations and get more DPS in than usual if you put in some practice. Overall, I enjoyed the combat experience a ton! Especially stuff like jump attacks, combos and the right dodge timing can be more than satisfying – and then different enemy types feature different move sets and counters of sorts.

Where the game really shines though is the exploration part. A purple-ish mist known as the Aether envelops the world of Drake Hollow that damages the player. The world consists of mostly islands that aren’t connected at all. Hence, you’ll have to use craftable crystals to make yourself immune to the mist for a bit to get to the next islands. 

As time goes on, you’ll need other means of travelling where my highlight comes in: Waypoints. You place them down and connect them to supply trucks (with resources that you cannot access in any other way). Once two or more are linked up, you have a rail system of sorts where you grind your way rather speedily from one island to the next. I really enjoyed this part as I always wanted to explore more but then got disrupted by incoming raids, full inventories or dying drakes. 

Drakes tend to “die” of a lot of things. As you progress, you’ll have to take care of the various needs and pay attention to how much water, food and entertainment you produce. Resources around you deplete eventually, so you need to move on to the next set of islands, which is similar to The Flame In The Flood where you move your base/boat from one island to the next with a point-of-no-return mechanic. 

As you move on to the next set of islands, you get to explore and loot more without having to fear about your old buildings getting lost. The Drakes just pack up your base and take it with you to the next set of islands. The next set of islands plays in a different season with different mechanics. In summer, your water production may suffer a lot due to droughts. In Winter you have to build radiators and other buildings to thaw out your Drakes and production facilities. I found these mechanics quite neat but mostly, I loved how the islands change. The usually lush trees turn pink and red and white and lose leaves and the world is covered in a layer of snow when you encounter winter. The way you have to change your playstyle based on the seasons is a very interesting mechanic and I really enjoyed that.

Stronger enemies mean more damage and more danger. What happens when you die? Do you lose any progress when you die? No, not at all. You can revive at your camp and lose some weapon durability but you do not lose any progress. Your drakes don’t really “die”. You can revive them on the neighbouring island, although you will have to nurture them again. You can spirit walk to your dead body and resurrect it there as well. 

It comes to no surprise that I’m loving the overall presentation. I was the most hyped about the Drakes and was not disappointed at all when I saw their animations and behaviours. Follow the Drakes as they roam your small village, eat food, dance on the disco floor, go to sleep or burrow themselves when they get stuck somewhere. The world itself feels lively and features this vibrant style that changes with the seasons and is always stunning to look at. The Drakes have some great interactions with enemies and the player. The soundtrack is at times enigmatic and mysterious, at times adventurous! Overall, I’m loving the presentation, the soundtrack and the art style and I was quite satisfied with how the game turned out in the end.

And yes, of course, there are some issues here and there. When I started playing, the end-game was somewhat frustrating with resources running out, Drakes dying and enemies getting stronger while you felt a bit too weak… but that was mostly my fault as I moved on too fast or as I didn’t level my camp and didn’t unlock enough new facilities or I didn’t manage my camp properly. There are certain issues in the late game that can feel a bit overwhelming in solo, but I’m sure that you’ll do just fine if you play with up to four friends – with someone exploring and people defending and someone tending to the Drakes. For people that didn’t want to end their journey, the “The Molasses Flood” team added an endless mode (Sandbox) without a story but with a raised max camp level, new cosmetics and higher camp levels. The game will get more updates. They just added in filters for the depot to allow to view items by type as well as some other QOL changes.

In the end, the only thing that could be criticised would be the end-game that feels a tad frustrating or rather overwhelming as a solo player. The gameplay loop is satisfying, the combat feels nice, the Drakes are absolutely adorable, and overall, I’m loving this game so far and can’t wait to meddle with sandbox mode and to play it with friends eventually!

You can currently get the game on Xbox Game Pass and Steam. Cross-Saving between Win10 and XboxOne is available and there is Cross-Play available for the Windows Store, the Xbox One and the Game Pass versions of the game… but it doesn’t work for the Steam version as there is no native support for invites or hosting across these networks. The game keeps getting updated and I can highly recommend it! Check it out over here or on Game Pass, the Windows Store or wherever! 

As a side note:
You’re able to grab Drake Hollow on Steam with a 10% launch discount until the 8th of October! If you already own TMF’s “The Flame In The Flood” you also get an additional 15% off, resulting in a 25% discount on the game!

Cheers!

Looking forward to Partisans 1941

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall, Partisans 1941 seems to be a promising title. 

Cheers!

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!