Indietail – Clunky Hero

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers!

Indietail – Haydee

In celebration of the #LoveYourBacklog-Week, I was browsing through my library and trying to revive games that I’ve played in the past and review those. Really Big Sky, The Plan, Among Ripples, Relic Hunters Zero, SpaceChem, Ori and the Blind Forest, and NeuroVoider are some games that I wanted to review and while I’ve finished reviews on a few of these games, a lot of them are still sitting in the drafts-section, waiting to get polished and to get wrapped up eventually (not today! But eventually for sure!). And then I stumbled across some other games that somehow (probably through free giveaways, random steam keys or Humble Bundles) have made it into my library, so I decided to play some of them without taking a look at screenshots and without looking at the Steam Store page of these titles. One of these titles was Haydee.

So, that’s how it came to be that today’s Indietail review is about Haydee, a game in which you’re playing as an overly sexualized female robot and where you essentially try to not tilt too much and where you want to know what the fuck is going.

Developer: Haydee Interactive
Publisher: Haydee Interactive
Genre: Metroidvania, NSFW, Platforming, Mature, Indie
Release Date: September 26, 2016
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC
Copy was purchased.

After starting this game up, I immediately thought that I’d regret it. I guess I was somewhat biased when I saw this protagonist’s model and realised that the Steam Store tags probably included „Mature“ or „Female Protagonist“ or „Nudity“ (and yeah, they do). We’re playing as a „thick“ robot who’s walking through maze-like rooms and solving puzzles. The game is accompanied by some futuristic and rather enigmatic tunes that got on my nerves rather quickly and the game is overly frustrating as it never tells you what you’re supposed to do nor how you perform certain actions nor how you save the game. Instead, you’ll have to figure out yourself that you can hang off cliffs by pressing crouch twice or that you’ve got to find certain (rather rare) terminals to save the game with (also rather rare) save chips. Hence, you’ll die over and over again.

The game expects you to die a lot, which is why I rather quickly got the achievement „Welcome to… Haydee!“ (Find your death in Haydee.) and „Moron“ (Die three times in a row in the same room.).

When performing certain actions, like jumping up, you’ll see that everything is jiggling in the most unnatural way and that everything about this game is rather oversexualized, which I personally didn’t really like. It’s not that I’m a prude or anything like that – it’s more that it seemed to be something that the game relied on too much. After all, NieR: Automata features rather sexualized characters as well… but it also has an interesting story, a great soundtrack, nice combat, an open world, a very creative customization-system, multiple endings and a lot more features that I can’t possibly list in this post.

But why did I keep on playing?

Mostly, because I’m stubborn. I don’t like Haydee at all and if it weren’t for a review (that I really wanted to write), I would have stopped playing this game immediately after my fifth death or so. But over time I got better at getting through the tutorial. Suddenly, there has been something nice about the game. A certain twist happened, as we unlocked a screwdriver that allows us to crawl through vents while we ignore the moon that is shining into the camera. There’s some exploration in the game happening which I wouldn’t have expected from what looked like a rather bad game. You’ll have to press buttons in some rooms, then go back and unlock other doors to proceed to the next rooms until you eventually can save again, wipe off the sweat off your forehead and rest assured that you won’t have to start over from the beginning again, as you’re dying over and over again.

There are some interesting platforming parts and while I really hate how the protagonist, Haydee, has to spread their legs and stretch out their butt and crawl over the ledge to perform a simple task as jumping onto a block, I really liked the idea of having these mixed elements in this game. A game that makes you hate it so much until you ragequit and a game that rewards those that stay for longer and play the game more than just twenty minutes. I personally took part in a few Drama projects and really liked the idea of performing something weird and experimental with a message so abstract that it either makes people hate it or love it. I’ve been to a performance one of a solo-actor and was fascinated by the fact that there’s been people prematurely leaving the room while others were confused and while I was just staring at that half-naked man performing one of my favourite plays, Woyzek, all on his own – a play with about fourteen and more roles in it played by one single man, with such a passion that it made people either hate it or love it (and I loved it absolutely).

Haydee is similar. Once you get past the hard bits, it gets rather enjoyable. You’ll be able to look past the over-sexualization, I think, and you’ll want to find out what Haydee is and what these strange robots are that aren’t like Haydee and why there are so many disposed Haydees on the pit of the cliffs you’ve already fallen into. There’s some sort of story that isn’t explained to you at all and I felt like I wanted to know what’s happening. I was intrigued by the mute character and the game that didn’t give a shit about me understanding it or not. There is no handholding when it comes to tutorials and even less when it comes to storytelling.

At some point, I found a gun and I knew that I’ll have to fight something, I guess. Maybe I’ll have to defend myself or maybe even hunt something down. Sometime later, I encountered some robots that apparently took down other Haydees and that have it out for me. Hence, I’ll have to make use of the gun and ammunition, I have to fight them off and survive the next levels and eventually… I stopped playing. I didn’t play through the whole game and honestly, I didn’t really want to as the frustration was outweighing the good sides by a ton, resulting in more or less of a rage-quit, I guess.

Question is, do I like Haydee?
Well, absolutely not.

I don’t like certain aspects of it, like the clunky controls, the missing handholding, the fucking jump scares that I encountered, the steep difficulty curve at the beginning and the unjustified difficulty of the game in general. You’re getting punished for messing up and you’re getting punished when the game doesn’t register the jump you did properly. There are no checkpoints in the game and you’ll have to manually save but you’re not able to if you don’t have to save chips. Eventually, you’ll fight against enemies but with no ammunition, you won’t last long, especially as stealth doesn’t seem to be an option. The aiming also feels rather off, the camera angles are weird and the third person only seems to be there so that the game can rub an ass into your face.

I think it’s just not my type of the game and hence, I don’t recommend it to people that value their time and money. If you want to try it out or if you think that everything I told you didn’t sound too bad, sure, go ahead, but I personally don’t think that I’ll play any more of it.

Anyways, I hope that you enjoyed this review. It turned to be kind of a rant in the beginning but then became a rather positive review before I eventually realised that the flaws don’t outweigh the good sides there are. The game turns good at some point but it continues with its flaws throughout the game and it just didn’t feel all that worth it, especially for the price you can get it at.

Until the next time, cheers!

Note: Since my screenshots didn’t get uploaded to the Steam Online Library (as planned), I wasn’t able to use them when I was editing this review on my laptop, resulting in me having to use the screenshots from the promo-material. Thought I’d let you know.

Indietail – Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition

It’s time for Día de los Muertos – the memorial day of the dead! And for that we’re playing as the agave farmer, Juan Aguacate, who’s helping with the preparations in his village only to find his childhood friend, Lupita, be kidnapped by the undead villain Carlos Calaca to be sacrificed in a ritual to unify the world of the Living and the Dead and rule over them all! In our attempt to save Lupita, we are killed by Carlos only to find ourselves with the mask of the famous Luchador himself and some epic superpowers! Strap on for a review of Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition!

Guacamelee! Super Turbo Champion Edition (Trailer/Shop) is a Metroidvania-Action-game by Drinkbox Studios that is combining a colourful art style with 2D-Sidescrolling-Action, a lot of humour and tons of fighting!

Developer: Drinkbox Studios
Publisher: Drinkbox Studios
Genres: Action, Metroidvania, 2D, Platformer, Beat 'Em Up
Release Date: April 9, 2013
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC, Playstation Vita, Playstation 3 & 4, Xbox 360 & One, Nintendo Switch & WiiU, Linux
Copy received for free during a giveaway

It’s using classic elements of the Metroidvania like wide branched out maps, paths that can only be accessed using certain abilities, and a lot of exploring! To proceed we’ve got to fight our way through waves of enemies in arena-levels while solving Jump-‘N-Run-areas in some of the wider levels and overall follow along in this rather linear story. 

The story itself consists of going through different “temples”, fighting against Carlos’ generals and getting stronger to ultimately face Carlos himself and unlock one of two endings. 

The fighting makes use of a wide range of attacks, throws, kicks and special attacks that also help you to get rid of previously encountered roadblocks. It feels rather fluid and you can chain almost all attacks to one another and unleash incredible combos on your unknowing foes! Truly fun!

And yet, the game itself is rather lacking in terms of difficulty. In my first playthrough of the game, I didn’t have any difficulties with the enemies at all.

There are a few different types of enemies that come in different colours, giving them different properties and making you fight each in a different style but most of the time you’re able to send all of them flying with a few simple button-presses. Some enemies are more annoying than others, for sure, and there are times where you need to shift between the world of the Dead and the world of the Living to fight them while also dodging the attacks of the enemies in the other world but it seemed rather lacklustre when it came to difficulty which was quite a letdown.

At some point during the final levels, you encounter two new enemies, though, that can give you quite a hard time. At first, you face them as mini-bosses but then you encounter them on the next few levels as well, which is a lot more challenging. The sudden rise in difficulty rose my total deaths to a two-digit number (not factoring in the final boss fight), but I would have loved to see a more consistent rise in difficulty as you might see in other games. 

On top of just brawling your way through enemies, you can also find collectables in some interesting side-quests and puzzles, or upgrade your abilities and health/resource bars. But adding more damage and survivability to your character could be a reason for why the game felt so easy in the first games. On top of that, there’re way too many checkpoints in the early levels, even in areas where you can’t possibly die. Meanwhile, in later levels you’ve got to do Jump ‘N Run passages in dangerous spots with checkpoints that are far away, making a sudden misstep even more frustrating.

A great of making your way harder, however, is to buy costumes.

Costumes provide you with special perks that most often come with negative debuffs! For instance, there’s one that grants you “massive damage” but you also receive “massive damage”. My favourite one, though, was the El Diablo costume that grants you enhanced attacks and lifesteal but decreases your maximum health by a hefty amount!

But setting the difficulty aside, it was rather fun. There’s a lot of humour and even when you’re just smashing buttons and chaining attack after attack, you can have quite a fun time with this game. The game is mocking itself constantly, working with Mexican stereotypes and referencing other games while also adding running jokes into the mix that made me chuckle quite a bit here and there. 

There’re collectable Choozo Statues (a direct reference to Metroid‘s Chozo Statues), for instance, or posters in some cities featuring Luchadors of all sorts from all kinds of different games! Next to “Los Casa Crashers” (Castle Crashers), “La Mascara” (The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask), and “Mega Hombre” (Mega Man), you can find a lot more references in the game, which is most often a true delight!

The aforementioned art style is capturing that Mexican vibe quite well!

There are a lot of bright and vibrant colours involved while you’re in the world of the Living – while you see a rather dark and enigmatic colour palette in the world of the Dead. This mix of colours is quite pretty and caught my eye when I first stumbled across screenshots of this game. The music is rather fitting for the whole aesthetic and the overall Mecixan feel but it didn’t stick to my ear all that much. It’s not a soundtrack that I would recognize in a playlist or something like that, which is a bummer of sorts, I guess.

To conclude, I’d say that Guacamelee! is a delight to play. It’s a lot of fun and while it is rather short with its estimated ten hours of gameplay, there are a lot of sidequests and backtracking that one can do. There’s also the devil’s challenges that one may want to finish, on top of the Hard Mode which did a lot right for me. I guess that using the Hard Mode the game’s worth the recommendation, however, I’d recommend using the Super Turbo Championship Edition as well as it adds a lot to the game in terms of costumes, powers, puzzles and Hell, itself

So, while I do recommend this game, I’d still say that it might not be something for everyone. Those that want a bigger challenge might not be satisfied with the main game but might have more fun with the Hordes-mode/Arena. I guess, the game is worth its money but, when in doubt, one can always wait for a sale on steam, right?

Hasta luego! (I hope I used that right..)

I’m taking part in this year’s #IntPiPoMo. If you’d like to participate or get to know the other participants, feel free to check this post out!

Note: I put this little IntPiPoMo-section down at the bottom of this review after having already posted it, as I signed up for it after the day I posted it. Doesn’t make too much of a difference, though.