Looking out for “Automaton”

Another interesting title that caught my eye during the Steam Game Festival (Summer Edition) was Cicle Interactive’s “Automaton”, which is planned to be released on August 3rd 2020! It’s a Puzzle-Adventure set in a post-apocalyptic desert world where a small little robot ventures out in search for fuel. You explore abandoned bunkers, stations and other facilities, solving puzzles, in a quest to find out what that thing was that fell from the sky. 

When I started this game up, I saw a lot of potential in it!

Similar to NieR: Automata, Automaton features mixed third-person mechanics and 2D perspectives on top of vast open areas, which I find rather cool. You go from one landmark to another, only limited by the fuel reserves that shut you down when you run empty. There is little to no introduction into the game and little to no hand-holding. The game leaves you be, similar to thatgamecompany’s Journey where you also only orient yourself through different eyecatchers and landmarks that you see in the distance. 

The world is really pretty, the protagonist is insanely adorable (a common theme at this point) and the soundtrack is just astonishing so far! 

The only issues I have with the game are the fuel-mechanic itself. While limiting your access to the World with that mechanic is rather interesting and quite innovative, I find it a bit harsh on the player and flat-out frustrating to have the player die and start anew. A checkpoint here or there would have been really appreciated – but maybe that’s something that’s a thing in the full release. 

Automaton will come out on August 3rd, 2020. Check it out yourself or wishlist/follow it on Steam if you’re intrigued by this little piece. 🙂

Cheers!

Looking out for “Occupy Mars: Prologue”

I’ve always been fascinated by space and games that play in space. Landing on some planet, starting colonies, all that good stuff. Surviving Mars is a great game, Kerbal Space Program is something I wanna be good at, and well,… today’s Demo: “Occupy Mars: Prologue” by Pyramid Games is something I want to like…

You are on Mars, duh.

You have your tools and your rover. You build and upgrade your base, discover new regions, conduct mining operations, retrieve water and generate oxygen while growing plants and doing your best to colonize Mars. You try to make living on Mars possible, step by step. I love the premise.

It’s a highly technical, open-world, sandbox, survival game that really scratches that itch that other games have scratched in the past.

It’s got a day/night cycle and makes use of mainly solar power. You also try to fix broken parts using highly realistic mechanics like SMD, smoldering, hot-air and electronic measurements, fixing cables and platines and stuff.

I’m getting “The Martian” vibes from this game, which is really neat in a way. I really like the idea of ultimately trying to create an atmosphere on Mars using Mars.

Buuuut… it’s super janky. I struggled for ten minutes to try and pick up a rock with the rover’s crane. Some cables that you unplug or pick up, vanish into the ground, rendering the game broken sometimes. It’s only a demo and the game will start out in Early Access as well but I feel like some of the “realism” is harming the experience as you are trying to lift a rock or getting those ores while your oxygen, food and hydration meters are emptying over time, threatening your survival… I feel like some guide rails would be really helpful.

We’ll see if that changes in the actual game.

I guess I’d tune in for the finished game but I wouldn’t enjoy an EA-phase where the game breaks itself. I feel like the intent and the premise are there but they don’t necessarily are just “good enough” at this point. Alas, I’ve got it on my wishlist, waiting for possibly the full release… and then I might pick it up and review it… or I might not, judging from other people’s response to it.

Late to the Party #3 – Assassin’s Creed

There are some games out there that probably everyone has already played or that people would deem “Classics”. It’s games that get spoiled constantly since everyone already played them… Games that are the milestones that started entire franchises and genres. Games that are so great that it’s a miracle that I haven’t played them yet!

And that’s what this format is about. Welcome to Late to the Party #3 where I talk about my first impressions of Assassin’s Creed 1.

In the past, we already took a look at The Witcher 1 and Asheron’s Call, so check those games and posts out. Some people abbreviate Animal Crossing “AC”… some do the same for Assassin’s Creed… but Asheron’s Call… that’s the true AC, with Animal Crossing being AnCr/Anchor and with Assassin’s Creed obviously being AssCreed/AssCreek. Anyone who says something else is obviously wrong. So shut up. (That’s a joke.)

AssCreed is a game where this barkeeper called Desmond Miles gets kidnapped by Abstergo Industries. These guys want to use the so-called “Animus” to deep dive into Desmond’s ancestor’s memories that are saved in his DNA in order to find out where the “Pieces of Eden” are.

Aaaand that brings us to the Third Crusade where we play as AltaĂŻr ibn-La’Ahad, an assassin that gets demoted to a “Novice of the Assassin Brotherhood” by their leader Al Mualim, after essentially messing up a lot of things in the first few cut scenes. There’s this creed, the Assassin’s Creed, and he broke it so now he’s got to restore his former rank by getting rid of the nine Knight Templars.

So, uh, yeah, we’re climbing houses, throwing knives, stabbing people, eavesdropping strangers and try to attain intel before eventually killing someone and colouring a feather with their blood as proof of their death. There are a lot of side quests, though you’ve got to do only a few of them before every main assassination, and on top of that you can run around and explore a few different areas like Masyaf, Jerusalem, Acre and Damascus. There are a lot of historical figures in the story which is rather interesting… and the parkour and climbing and free running, as well as the assassinations, the stealth and the combat in general, are super cool!

So we played this on a few different Fridays over here on my Twitch channel and I really enjoyed the game… but then it somehow came to an end when I just didn’t feel like playing the game all that much. (Spoilers from here on, so skip to the end if you’re interested in the story.)

I stopped playing the game for a lot of reasons. After eighteen hours of total playtime, I ended up quitting Assassin’s Creed due to its gameplay-formula. The story outside of the Animus was super interesting but we got way too less of that… meanwhile, the actual game is rather repetitive!

You get a target to kill. Do three side missions. Go there. Kill the guy. Come back to HQ. Get some ability. Get another target. Do three side missions. Go there. Kill the guy. Come back to HQ. Get another ability. Rinse and Repeat.

It’s just boring at some point. It never changes. There are barely any new mission types in the game and the collectables and the watchtowers are rather boring. There is no “unlock” for the collectables. You find all 100 flags in an area but you don’t learn anything new from it. Meanwhile, the towers unlock more parts of the map, so you get to see the different missions and stuff… but none of the towers is particularly hard to get on top of.

And then there are parts of the story that just feel generic and boring. “There is a traitor in the Brotherhood. Find him to restore your former rank.”
I mentioned on stream that it’s probably going to be the leader himself. He’s a templar of sorts and we will have to turn on him to become the leader ourselves.

But since I don’t want to play more of it, I just read up on it and… I was right. Nothing too drastic. Nothing too new. Oh wow, the teacher is your end boss? The student beats the teacher? So innovative! Wowsers! I can’t contain my excitement about this glorious twist that I haven’t seen anywhere else before yet, at all! I’m so mad at myself for spoiling the “good” part of the story!

Alas, Assassin’s Creed feels like more of a disappointment than anything else. The free walking and parkour and everything else I mentioned is a lot of fun and seem to stay in the whole franchise, so I’m looking forward to actually playing the second game and the rest of them… but I’m not going to play more of the first. We’ve killed like three or four of the templars already and there are way too many hints that Al Mualim is the traitor… so, in the end, it was just a disappointment.

I didn’t get to see the Pieces of Eden yet but according to Wikipedia, the game ends with us having access to a map showing the remaining pieces on a world globe of sorts. Those pieces will allow Abstergo to control the thoughts of all living creatures. So, uh… the franchise consists of Abstergo finding the location of the pieces by using the memories of the different assassin all over the world… I guess?

Assassin’s Creed is a franchise that can be fun, probably, but I don’t like the first game. The first game seems to be like a setup for the rest of the franchise. A test of sorts. In the end, it worked out. I own all the games. I don’t know why I own them all. I’ll play through a bunch of them and I hope that it gets better with the gameplay-variety. I think I still enjoyed AssCreed more than the first Witcher game but whatever.

Starting next week we’ll fill in the Friday-Slot with a different game. Possibly with Portal 1 since I haven’t played that game in ages… We’ll see.

Either way, I hope that you liked this quick little trip into the world of the famous AssCreek. Have a wonderful day!

Cheers!

I hate invisible walls

Games allow us to escape reality. I mean, you don’t have to use it as an escape mechanism but it’s possible. You can visit places you’ve never been to before. You can do anything you ever wanted to do. You can be whatever you wanted to be.

Some games allow you to explore a ton of areas and give you a lot of freedom when it comes to movement. Some games want you to explore and find easter eggs – after all, it’s an unwritten rule that you shall never instantly take the main quest’s path or the path that the game wants you to go but that you, the player, shall strive to take every other path first!
The Stanley Parable is a great example of that!

But sometimes this can lead to problems. Being able to explore a map freely can make you feel lost. In Hollow Knight, for instance, I’ve heard that some people feel lost and I myself sometimes didn’t really know where to go… then I sat back at a bench in a small town… chatted with the elder and eventually found out where to go next or where to explore first with the new abilities I’ve got. Metroidvania games feature a ton of semi-open worlds where you can’t go to specific areas without certain abilities, so you naturally do a lot of backtracking eventually after you found that double jump or the wall jump or the dash or the ground smash ability. And that’s great. I enjoy the exploration and backtracking in Metroidvania titles a lot, especially since they kind of are like a puzzle, depending on how much handholding there is in the game.

BUT!

While Metroidvania titles are semi-open, there are a lot of games that are supposedly Open World titles… but really are not. There are games there that have this annoying and limiting ability called “invisible walls”.

I always loved to explore these maps in different games and when I suddenly flew into an invisible wall in Super Mario 64, that would essentially annoy me a little bit. The same goes for a lot of other games like Beyond Good and Evil or Sonic Adventure DX or Tomb Raider, where you’d just stumble into a wall because the devs didn’t find a creative decision to stop you from going there.

It doesn’t have to be an invicible one but a powerful foe can quite often be just enough to stop you from passing through. In this case, we eventually were able to beat him, but it took us a while and many tries.

Some games feature killing mechanisms that punish your curiosity without frustrating you. A great example of this is Subnautica where you can leave the “island” or map that you are on (at least in the base game) and encounter the Ghost Leviathans who essentially are translucent and really strong. The Leviathans in the game can be killed but it takes ages to do in Survival, especially as you are very mortal yourself and as you need oxygen, nutrition and hydration. Therefore, killing the Ghost Leviathans in the so-called “Void” is not really an option, especially as they are a lot stronger and as they get a lot bigger the farther you go out of the Void! In the Void, these Ghost Leviathans spawn a lot more frequent, too, resulting in a spooky experience in an area where you can’t tell “up” and “down” apart with nothing to orient yourself with, with no option of survival and no goal to reach but plenty of dangers to chase you.

And this solution is creative as it’s not an instant-death mechanic like in the Borderlands games… it’s a challenge of sorts. You can’t win it, of course, but you can definitely try to live longer. There were plenty of videos by YouTubers that I’ve watched a while ago where they’d try to kill some of the Ghost Leviathans or where they’d try to outrun them or where they’d build a base in creative mode, trying to reach the ground and trying to survive and observe the Ghost Leviathans. You’re challenging the game’s boundaries as the devs don’t want you to go behind those boundaries.

But in other games, the devs tell you to fuck off and essentially just block passage using an invisible wall or a guard that would just tell you to piss off.

And that sucks. I hate it. In Nier Automata, you have vast, open areas that feel great, exploration-wise. Especially with the buildings that you can jump on and off from… but some areas are closed off from you by these pesky invisible walls and I just dislike that mechanic. If the world’s not open, why would you call it an Open World?

I feel like devs would need to find better mechanics to cope with people going to areas that they don’t want you to go to. It breaks the immersion when you run into a wall that prevents you from walking somewhere or that even causes you to walk on the spot. Instead, you may as well have a storm that pushes you away every time you move into a certain direction, just like Hollow Knight has in one area (found out about that yesterday!). Huge Ghost Leviathans scaring you away in the Void are a great solution to keep people away, too.

But I guess I’m yelling at clouds again and some things may never change. A pop-up like “We don’t want you to go this way, so fuck off and get back to playing the game” would be a thousand times better than an invisible wall but maybe that’s too rude for some devs and they just slam the door into your face, thinking it’s more polite.

Either way, what do you think of this? What are your favourite encounters hindering you from going where you’re not supposed to go? Let me know!

For now, though, I wish you a wonderful day and a great time.

Cheers!

This post is part of a challenge called BLAPRIL. The goal is to post as much as possible during the 30 days of April. There are different themes during some of the weeks and a lot of mentors, newbies and participants participating. Feel free to check this hub-post out and check out the other participants!

Indietail – Cat Quest 2

So, today we’re taking a look at Cat Quest II. It’s a fast-paced open-world action RPG by The Gentle Bros. The other day, I covered the first game on this blog, so I’ll also cover improvements over the first game!

Developer: The Gentle Bros
Publisher: The Gentle Bros
Genres: RPG, Action, Adventure, Open World
Release Date: September 24, 2019
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC, Xbox One, PS4, Switch, iOS, Android
Copy received from the Devs

So, what’s Cat Quest II about?

“Under threat from a continuing war between the Cats of Felingard and the advancing Lupus Empire, Cat Quest II will tell the tale of two rivals, brought together against their will, on a journey of discovery. Can they put aside their differences and bring peace to their world?”

taken from the official page

Yes, this time we’re playing as a cat and a dog who are working together to reclaim their thrones. Lioner the Purrsecutor is ruling the Felingard Kingdom with an iron paw, only caring about the war against Wolfen the Labrathor and the Lupus Empire. In Cat Quest II, we’re facing off against two antagonists while meeting some familiar faces and joining in with new allies for an epic catventure!

Cat Quest II sticks to its roots when it comes to the gameplay formula!

We still are using one button to attack, dealing physical damage and gaining mana, while using spells to inflict magic damage and status effects to our enemies. Using scorch marks, the game tells you when enemies are about to attack and what spells they are using, so you need to time your attacks well and roll out of danger when you’re about to get hit.

Instead of the shield-mechanic from the first game, armour now reduces our incoming damage which is also reflected in some of the spells. There are a total of twelve spells that range from the classic fire-, ice-, thunder- and other spells that we know from the first game to new spells that buff our physical damage, increase our damage or even create an AoE-aura around us, healing nearby allies!

Playing Rock-Paper-Scissors against Catnip Bravo!

As we’re playing two characters, we’re able to switch between characters in-game, when playing solo, or play as two separate characters when playing co-op. Yes, there’s co-op now! It’s awesome!
Each character has their own health- and mana-bar but the level is shared. When one player is down, the other one has to revive him by standing near him. Reviving takes some time and enemies don’t stop attacking, so there’s a lot more action than in the first game.

For my playthrough, I ended up having a mage-kitty and a bruiser-doggo, equipping the dog with a melee-weapon, attack spells and armour that provides more defensive stats and equipping my cat with a wand (ranged magic weapon) and support-spells like healing and buffing.

A new ally? Hotto Dog!

Over the course of time, I encountered a lot more armour sets that have unique effects like more mana regen or other bonus stats, which lead to me equipping my cat with a white mage’s cap (bonus healing!) and the bard’s weapon and armour (more mana-regen!) while giving my dog a powerful melee-weapon, the bard’s cap (mana regen) and the knight’s armour (more exp).

There still are no set-specific effects that are unlocked when you’ve got all three parts equipped but in contrast to the first game, there are a lot more amour-specific effects which help you customize your playstyle and strategize a lot more, which I found rather interesting. Some weapons and armour pieces are rather powerful in one regard but have some sort of malus on them, reducing other stats, while others are less powerful but don’t have such a negative effect. There are also new weapon-types that use different fighting styles!

Cat Quest II has even more dungeons, side quests and puns than the first game, leading to it being a lot more entertaining when it comes to exploration and adventuring. Although we’re in times of war, the humour is rather light-hearted and entertaining. As we’re fighting against both Lioner and Wolfen, we’re not only exploring the continent of Felingard but also the Lupus Empire!

The presentation of the game hasn’t changed much at all in comparison to the first game..

The Lupus Empire is a lot rougher when it comes to the landscape. There are deserts, mountains and dangerous shrubbery that inflicts damage on contact while the Felingard Kingdom features colourful grasslands and a lot more vibrant colours.

Overall the colour-palette and art-style haven’t changed at all. The soundtrack also features similar if not even the same pieces as in the first game, from what I can tell, which I don’t really mind all that much.

Let’s get to Cat Quest I’s flaws and the improvements in those regards:

While you had to do some sort of loot-box-game in the first game, you now are able to upgrade your armour-pieces and your weapons at two different blacksmiths, which I found great! It’s a lot better than in the first game and takes less grinding and luck – an overall improvement!
What I didn’t like was the fact you’re actually only able to upgrade your spells at only one place in Felingard. Luckily, they added a fast travel system now, which makes up for this flaw.

Another big update is the fact that your health-, mana- and experience-bar are all located at the top-left corner! It’s a lot cleaner and easier to monitor that way, which I’m a big fan of!

The quests aren’t as repetitive as in the first game and also feature a lot of references and humour, which I found quite great.

One of my favourite ones was a quest in which we were finding Pandora’s Box and opening it for the sake of adventure – rather entertaining! There was also a quest that was rather unique and featured catscrimination against mages and a mage wanting to travel back in time to destroy the source of magic so that nobody has to suffer anymore. The reward for that one was…. an invisibility coat (which I found rather entertaining, as it still leaves your head and weapon visible. Useless but entertaining!). Before it gets grindy, you also would have to level quite a lot. Completing side- and main-quests, doing dungeons and killing monsters grants you gold and experience – and most of the time you level up after one quest. Around level 82 (out of 99!) I had to grind a bit more, which is quite understandable as you’re getting into end-game-territory.

On a distance island I was even able to meet the Devs! Here’s Syaz, who I talked to via mail and who now wants to delete my save-file.

What about Cat Quest II’s flaws then?

Cat Quest II features many improvements over the first game. The combat and humour is entertaining, the story is a lot deeper than the first game and while you are able to complete the main story in circa six hours, you still have a lot to do when it comes to dungeons, secrets and all the exploration and side quests that you’re able to to do.
While the main quest series is rather short in my opinion, I’d say that the whole game is ruffly twice the size of it. Apart from the game-length, the local-only-multiplayer (which can be fixed with parsec!) and the fact that your partner’s AI isn’t the brightest (when playing Solo), there aren’t any other flaws.

Taking everything into consideration, I’d really recommend this game for everyone who loved the first game.

In my opinion, it really is an improvement over the first game but nontheless those that played the first game will have a bit more fun with this title as they’ll understand some of the references and recognize characters like the first Governor and Kit Kat a lot better, which adds to the fun of the game. If you look at the game itself without knowing the first game, you’re still able to enjoy yourself with it. It’s rather family-friendly and never too hard, so I’d imagine that my younger cousins might enjoy this title, too, if we played it together. There also are other jokes that adults might find entertaining but kids won’t get, which I really enjoyed.

Anyways,

Have a nice day 🙂

PS: If you liked or maybe even disliked this review, feel free to leave a comment! Feedback is always welcome! 🙂

Indietail – Cat Quest

Today’s we’re going on a catventure! I mean, we’re taking a look at Cat Quest after all! Cat Quest is not only a lovely homage to classic RPGs but also a parody of the same. It not only mocks the genre but also adds its features into it to make a purrfect game for every pun-loving RPG-fan!

Developer: The Gentle Bros
Publisher: The Gentle Bros
Genres: 2D, Open World, Action, RPG, Indie
Release Date: August 8, 2017
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC, Switch, PS4, Android/iOS
Copy was purchased.

After a dark wizard has catnapped our dear sister, we find out that we’re a so-called Dragonborn! The wizard summoned dragons into the world and we’re the only one who can save the world from those nasty lizards! In Cat Quest, we’re able to roam the expansive continent of Felingard, fight monsters in real-time battles and not only upgrade our skills but also our equipment!

Combat:

Combat in Cat Quest is kept relatively simple. We’re able to attack enemies with a normal attack, using our physical strength, to deal damage but also recharge our Mana. Our Health-bar can also be protected with Armor that recharges over time when out of combat, similar to the Shield in the Borderland series, although not as quickly. To not receive damage, we have to watch out for the enemy-attack-patterns: Indicated by red scorch marks on the ground, we can see what spell they are currently casting or when the next attack is coming. We simply have to roll or walk away from that zone then, making combat quite dynamic!

We’re also able to cast spells that consume Mana but also deal damage on top of other effects based on the spell’s nature: Fire sets enemies ablaze while your Ice-Spell deals damage to them and causes them to attack and move slower. For Spells to be stronger, you need ability power. Both physical and ability power are gained through level-ups and items. 

The first four spells that can be unlocked. All diverse but also punny!

Just like enemies, we also cast our spells in different directions. The Fire Spell is an AoE-spell around you, while Lightning is a horizontal and Ice is a vertical attack. There are also other spells with different patterns as well as a Heal Spell but I don’t want to spoil too much. Different enemy-types can use different spells, although they all resemble yours. Hence you sometimes have to dodge the ice attack while still attacking enemies. 

There are also enemies with special properties that allow them to not receive damage from physical, magical or certain elemental attacks, although making them weaker to the opposite. I personally liked this feature quite a lot as it made me change my spell-loadout in between fights in order to be effective while also making me walk and roll around a lot more in combat instead of just mashing one attack-button. 

One of my favourite catracters!

Questing, Levelling and Items:

There are two types of quests: Side Quests (which are completely optional but also really hillarious) and the Main Quest (which is the Story basically). These are most often either “Kill these monsters”, “go there”, “find that” or “talk to these guys” quests, which is relatively repetitive. Once you complete the quest, you’re most often rewarded with Experience and Gold en masse. But while I said that the quests are repetitive, I must say that the dialogues between the characters are pawesome! Also most quests only take about 2-3 minutes and always grant you a level up until level 60-something. At that level, you’d also have to farm a few dungeons to level up and proceed with the story. 

There are 99 Levels, 62 Side-Quests and 12 Main Quests to complete and 52 Dungeons to clear, so you’ve got a handful to do in this game. On top of that, there are also about 66 armors and weapons available in the game which can be broken down into different sets. 

The absolute meme-blade

A set would be the Squire Armor + the Squire Helmet + the Squire Sword. While the Armor-pieces enhance your armor- and magic-stats, the sword only grants you physical and magical damage but no armor. There are also other pieces in the game that grant you different boni like more health or just one stat bonus or even grant you one bonus while also giving you a malus that you need to make up for with other items or that you just take into account. Hell, there’s even a “Crappy Set” that reduces everything – and the more you upgrade the different pieces, the worse these items get!

Overall, you can customize your playstyle a lot with these items, although I would loved it if these “sets” had actual set boni like in other RPGs. That would have been a great addition to the game! Set boni aside, I love the combinations that are possible with these armor pieces and also really enjoyed the fact that you can see the armor and weapons on your catracter. 

Kit Kat the Blacksmith and her lootbox-shop, I guess

Dungeons usually harbor a few enemies, experience points, gold and chests. There are normal and golden chests, the normal ones contain items while the golden chests contain better loot but require a key to be opened. When you loot dungeons, you’re able to obtain multiple pieces of the same set. If you already have those pieces, your existing armor/weapon gains more levels and hence better stats. Usually, you’d have to go to a blacksmith and pay 50 gold or even 5000 gold for a chest that contains some loot. This, however, is a crap mechanic, in my opinion, as you cannot directly upgrade your armor. Meanwhile, spells can just be upgraded with gold at Arcane Towers without the hassle of playing a loot-box-minigame. 

Twin Towns at Twin Peaks! Two towns that are somehow connect although they’re not!

Presentation

Cat Quest really shines with its humour and the paw-ns (nope, a pun on puns doesn’t work) that are scattered all across the world. The Open World uses vibrant colours which is insanely cute! Also the overworld uses different colour palettes for the different zones/biomes while the dungeons always have a rather dark and enigmatic colour palette, which I found rather fitting. The music is okay but nothing special, in my opinion. It doesn’t really stick in your ear but there is no point in the game where the music doesn’t fit.

The world is nearly as huge as the devs’ cat-pun-repertoire, which makes it enjoyable to explore, especially as you unlock more ways of travelling later on, like “Water Walking” (cats don’t swim, they walk on water) and “Flying”, which renders you able to backtrack later on. Overall I really did get catventure-vibes from this game and enjoyed it through quite a few hours! 

A small portion of the overlord!

Conclusion

While Cat Quest has its flaws with the bad item-upgrade-system and the repetitive-ness of the quests, there are a lot more positive points to it as combat is superb, the puns and the humour is absolutely lovely and as the customization is also absolutely great! The World is HUGE and there is a lot of end-game-content to the game once you unlock Mew Game mode and play the game with different modifiers like having only nine lives, staying on level 1 for the whole playthrough, stronger enemies or even no armour. 

So overall, I’m recommending this game to every lover of puns and RPGs who doesn’t want to play another dark and dramatic game but have a relaxed fun time in between Dark Souls deaths while groaning at least once in a while.

Meow!

Note: This is already my 50th post. Thanks a lot for all the comments and feedback on my other ones!

Indietail – Westerado: Double Barreled

Howdy, fellow cowboys and cowgirls! Today we’re taking a look at Westerado: Double Barreled, a game where we chase a buffalo on the loose before finding out that someone not only burned down our ranch, but also gravely injured our bigger brother, and killed our mother! Our mission is to find the killer and take revenge! To do so, we’re equipped with a revolver and some other tools! Yeeha! 

Developer: Ostrich Banditos
Publisher: Adult Swim
Genres: Indie, Action, Adventure, Shoot 'Em Up, Western
Release Date: April 16, 2015
Reviewed on: PC
Available for: PC, Xbox One, Mac OS
Copy was purchased.

Let’s get to the plot:

After these incidences happened, we’ve got to “take care” about our brother and head to our uncle’s place where we learn that the killer is most likely in Clintville. Once we arrive there, we’ve got to earn Clintville’s citizens’ trust by completing quests and errands for them, including escort-missions, bounty-hunts and lots more! 

One of our first quests brings us to a graveyard.. Is that a premonition?

Gameplay-wise, it’s relatively simple:

Since we’re in the Wild West, we’ve got to solve everything with guns. There are multiple guns, ranging from shotguns, revolvers, bolas, to dual-revolvers, and even a sniper rifle. You can switch between weapons without any issues but have to load them up and unlock the gun while dodging bullet shots in the meantime. While the Bola doesn’t deal damage and holds only one shot, it instead captures enemies rendering them unable to shoot, which I found quite interesting. Meanwhile, the shotguns are able to hit multiple enemies, though only having two shots and being short-ranged, while the rifle is more precise, is able to pierce enemies and has five shots. 

One of two factions! Help them free the buffalos or fight them to the death! Your choice!

To kill enemies, you need to shoot off their hats before landing the killing blow. In the same manner, they’re able to shoot off your hat, before being able to kill you, too. Luckily, you own two reserve-hats that you automatically get used once you lose a hat, hence blessing you with basically four lives (three hats and your head). When killing enemies, you can pick up their hats to restock on lives. When you die, though, you are saved by someone who carries you to a nearby bed, refilling your hats and magazines but also helping himself to some of your riches. Hence, you lose money whenever you die which is why you need to go to banks relatively often, although they also help themselves to your bank account now and then – still, the bank is a lot safer than carrying your money around and risking to lose everything else, although not dying is probably the safest! 

Our Journal is helping us with keeping track of the Killer!

Speaking of the bank, there’re a lot more buildings in the towns that help you: 

The Sheriff’s and the bank often need help with killing bandits, while you may as well play some cards, have a drink or talk to other people at the Saloon, sometimes granting you hints on what the killer looks like. To find the killer, you need to find a few different hints in a “Who is it?” manner. As “clothes make people”, you only gain hints on what the killer looks like. The killer, though, could be nearby at any time, which is why you probably could kill him at any time in the game, if you wanted to. In fact, you’re able to solve all problems in the Wild West, using your guns. 

A quest by the bankers: Bring money to safety while killing those darn bandits!

See a saloon door? Shoot it open!
See someone funky? Shoot them dead!
Don’t like where the conversation is going? Pull out your gun, threaten them or even shoot them dead again! 

It’s hilarious. At all conversations, you’re able to pull out your gun, resulting in some funny moments where you randomly threaten people. 

We’re protecting buffalos from bandits – an escort mission from one ranch to the other!

Humour is a big part of this game, too, as well as references. Being a game published by AdultSwim, I had a great time throughout the game with random moments and references to tons of things, e.g. the founder of Clintville being “East Clintwood” or the fact that killing every NPC in one area results in you unlocking a horde mode for that area. Hillarious.

When you kill enough people, you also gain the reputation of a killer, leading to bandits randomly surrendering and stopping the fighting because they fear you so much.

Conversations are shown in this film-esque style! You always have the option of just leaving in the middle of the sentence or even drawing your gun, although those choices might not benefit you!

At some point, you might question whether or not you’re worse than the Killer you’re searching for BUT honestly, I don’t even know. It’s quite fun to just go all out on your revenge and the few casualties that it might take are the Killer’s fault, obviously. If he hadn’t messed with you, those people wouldn’t have died. (just kidding) 

Presentation-wise,

it’s got a lovely pixel-art style going that is enhanced by the liveliness of each area, with dogs, coyotes, scorpions, snakes, birds and all kinds of other animals being featured in the scenery. The music is also quite great and there haven’t been any issues with the sound just stopping or not fitting the area, in my opinion. Overall a great art style and great music.

On top of that, there are no restrictions to where you can go and where you can’t. A true open-world game, I guess! There are also factions in the game: Support the buffalo-friends or the militia, you’ve got the choice when it comes to alternate plots. 

The Map is huge but empty at the beginning. Over the course of time, you’re discovering more and more of this Western World, both over- and underground!

But let’s get to flaws. Overall, I really enjoyed the game, but the map sometimes seemed quite frustrating. There are tons of quests and all of them get marked on the map. When you’re unlucky, you just don’t know what you’re actually doing right now or you’re going to areas to do one thing and end up doing something else. Having the option to actually follow only one quest at a time, like in other games (i.e. Borderlands or MMOs in general), would’ve been nice, although this is an Indie Game and all that.

Another thing is the fact that there are no checkpoints that you can set yourself: 

When you respawn, you actually spawn in a “nearby bed” – which is at your Uncle’s. Before facing off against the Killer, you also get a checkpoint there, and although there are fast-travel-points here and there, scattered through the world, it gets quite annoying to always have to teleport somewhere or walk a while and it kind of feels lazy in some way. I would’ve liked it if there were rooms in the Saloon that you could pay for, to set a spawn point nearby. It’s not a big deal, I guess, but I personally got quite annoyed by it. 

But overall I had a blast during my playthrough. There is a learning curve at the beginning but once you get used to the aiming and all that, it’s actually quite enjoyable. My first playthrough was four hours long but there’s a lot of replay value, too, as you’re also able to go with higher difficulties, unlock new characters with new abilities and other properties and there are a ton of easter eggs to be found in the game. I definitely recommend this game!

Have a nice one! 

Indietail – Forager

In today’s review, we’re taking a look at Forager, “a 2D open-world game inspired by exploration, farming and crafting games like Terraria, Stardew Valley and Zelda” by HopFrog.

Developer: HopFrog
Pubslisher: HumbleBundle
Genres: Survival, Open-World, Adventure, Indie
Release Date: April 18, 2019
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC (Windows, Linux), PS4, Nintendo Switch
Copy was purchased.

I actually planned on posting another format called “The Chase for Closure” where I try to get all achievements (in Forager, that’s 6 remaining for me!) but then I saw that I needed to have all achievements in one file for the last one and there’s one achievement that I can’t get in my other file and yadidadiyada. You get the drill. So, I created another save file and started anew for that last achievement… before I realised that there’s the Combat Update coming out soon that includes new skills, items, bosses, a whole new biome and also new achievements. So… I gave up on the chase for the 100% (for now!) and instead decided to release another review. This time on Forager.

At the start, you spawn on an island, only equipped with your basic backpack (with not that many slots) and a basic pickaxe. On the island, there are resources that you’ve got to mine, forage, etc. to proceed. By doing so, you gain experience points and, well.., the resources (trees -> wood, rocks -> stone, bushes -> berries, etc.), duh. Once you’ve earned enough experience, you level up and have to spend a skill point on one of four different available skill trees: Economy, Industry, Foraging, and Magic.

The different skill trees unlock new items, buildings, enemies, resources, equipment and overall make your life easier. For instance, I struggled a lot with coal at the beginning, which is necessary to smelt ores into ingots. Hence, I burned wood to gain coal instead before then burning that coal for the ingots. This, however, resulted in me struggling with wood at the beginning. But once I advanced far enough into the Foraging-Skilltree I earned a skill that lets coal drop from all rocks! And I never struggled with stone again.

Top hat! Cause why not?

The foraging-skill-tree is about grinding, mining, and foraging those resources, while the industry-skill-tree is all about machines and technology, granting you improved work speed, automation and other goodies that are quite neat! When you get into magic, you’re able to forge swords, brew potions and craft scrolls that have all kinds of effects! The economy-skill-tree gives you more coins, helps you with storage, improves the number of resource-drops, and overall is also a great addition to the game.

Speaking of coins, they’re very important! As I said, you’re on one island at the beginning. To gain more land, you need to craft up coins that then can be used to buy more islands. There’re also markets where you can buy and sell items with and for gold! Coins and materials are the heart of Forager but at some point later, you just won’t have to worry about them at all.

The museum is quite empty, so we need to fill it!

The map is divided into five areas: The Grass Biome (where you start), the Winter Biome (North), the Graveyard Biome (West), the Desert Biome (East) and the Fire Biome (South). Each area/biome has different enemies and resources, as well as many different Quest-NPCs, Puzzles, and even a Dungeon each! When you complete Quests, Puzzles or Dungeons you gain a reward.

The dungeons were my highlight in Forager as they felt really Zelda-ish! The Quest NPCs are also quite cool as some of them have great dialogues. There’s a ton of references and jokes in them as well as a whole lot of quests. For instance, there’s this old guy at a giant tree in the Grasslands who warns you about this small guy with a pickaxe who’s exploiting nature! Naturally, he asks you, not knowing that you’re the guy who is exploiting nature, to help him protect nature by capturing a few torch bugs and bring him other stuff so that that madman can’t harm them anymore. Quite paradox and fun! I had to chuckle at that quest.

One of the first pickaxe-upgrades

While the levelling and grinding are a bit slow at the beginning, it picks up the pace quite quickly. Once you skill the right skills, you don’t have any struggles regarding stuff like coal, wood, food, etc. There’s even one skill that allows you to eat rocks! The next update will remove some of the skills that are “useless” while adding new skills in the skill trees that unlock all kinds of new items like trains and portals. There’s also going to be new bosses.

I’ve been playing Forager for quite some time. I’ve got about 23 online-hours on Steam but I also played the Alpha-version on itch.io that didn’t have that many features, yet, but was still really addicting. Forager is a nice game with many features, that has been improved a lot over time. There are weather effects, a day-night-cycle in place, new boss enemies and even hats – a ton of hats – in the game, that make the game quite fun.

One of the new bosses!

I guess you can criticize that there’s not much end-game-content once you’ve upgraded all your gear, skilled every skill tree to the fullest, done all the dungeons, and built on every island, but the new item tiers and the new Void Dimension in the upcoming update should fix that quite neatly. The slow pace at the beginning feels necessary as you’re always “this close” to levelling up or advancing which makes you want to keep on playing “for just a little bit more”. So, I actually don’t have anything to criticize. I like the style, the music, the humour and all the frequent updates. Therefore, I’m recommending the game, duh. But then again, I should mention that I enjoy the grinding and leveling aspects of this game and am a big fan of the Zelda-ish dungeons and puzzles and an even bigger fan of games like Harvest Moon, Stardew Valley and Graveyard Keeper. This game might not be something for you when you don’t like games like those but you probably got an insight on this game by reading my review.

All skills (in the beta since that update will launch soon and the other ones are not as good as these ones)

Anyways, feel free to leave feedback! Have a nice day 🙂