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!

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 – Try To Survive!

I don’t usually play Horror games… and I don’t usually play all that many FPS games either… but some games combine these genres quite well or have something special about them. Some games out there are able to provide a lot of fun and a big challenge with little to no effort and a rather simple premise… and then there’s Try To Survive.

I’m honestly not too sure about how to approach this title. The game can be summed up quite easily: Shoot waves until you die.

Developer: INGO
Publisher: INGO
Release Date: August 3rd, 2020
Genre: Action, FPS, Horror, Rogue-like
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC
Copy was provided by the devs.

You’re in a forest and have to fight off waves that get increasingly stronger. After every wave, you’re able to upgrade certain aspects of your character like the range or damage of your weapon, for instance. You may also end up with equipment, like a flashlight or mines and grenades.

Try to Survive doesn’t seem revolutionary.

It’s fast-paced and dark but more than anything else it was disappointing. After half an hour, I’ve seen everything already. After a while I got a hang of it and just ended up kiting enemies while strafing away before grabbing health kits and damage upgrades to just continue like that… and that got boring quite quickly, to the point that I ended up losing on purpose to finally quit the game. There are games that are frustrating and that make you ragequit… and then there’s this title that isn’t too challenging, not all that frustrating, and for a Horror-title not exactly scary either… Is there a word for when you quit because you got bored?

And while this review may sound like a rant so far, I’m actually trying to be at least somewhat nice here since the devs sent me a key for this game and asked me to review it. There are just a lot of issues with the game – and the devs…

First of all, you don’t have enough options and the ones available to you don’t really seem like they change a lot. On top of that, the game looks kind of unfinished, no matter the options you choose. The enemies that you fight each wave don’t really have a cohesive theme either… some are more eldritch while others are just flies or they look like Psychos from Borderlands. It just feels like an attempt to create something “new” out of a lot of different styles and games and whatever… but it’s not new at all.

Secondly, the promotion that the studio is going for seems super sketchy. The devs noted in their mail that they’ll distribute $15,000 to the top three players of the leaderboard once they have a playerbase of over 30,000 players. Every 10.000 players, they will pay $1,000 to three random players, and they are planning to have “tournaments” with bigger price pools in the future as well with budgets of potentially $25,000 and more money… And I don’t think that’s a good way of handling promotion.

I’m not a fan of this “practice” since it just seems super dodgy. They are luring in potential players by offering a prize to them. It’s not about their game anymore. And let’s say they’re really reaching those numbers, there is no guarantee that they’re actually giving money to anyone. It’s a studio with no games so far, with no actual social media pages or any websites or any other info about them. When I asked about a press kit, they were not able to provide me with anything.

Regarding my question why this game was special, unique or worth playing, the devs told me that they’ll give money to the players.
That’s not what makes a game good or unique or special… it just turns it into some sort of weird scheme. And it makes it sound even more as if the devs didn’t care about the game at all and as if they were just trying to rip off players by luring them in, taking their money and leaving them with nothing.

And I don’t think I’m reaching too much here when I say that it looks like a scam to make money with a bad game… that is being sold for 10 bucks.

Originally, I was going to compare this game to a very similar Indie Game that costs less than half of this game’s price… but I don’t think I should compare games in a review. I don’t want to recommend a game in a review about a different game. I’ll post a separate review on that title later this month, instead.

To sum everything up: I cannot recommend this game and I tried my best to be nice about it, but in the end this game is boring and doesn’t bring anything new to the table… and it doesn’t justify the 10€ price tag at all.

Hence, no recommendation here. Cheers.

Blaugust Prompt #10 – The process behind my blog posts

Do I have specific routines for the process of creating a blog post? Are there differences between different types of posts? Do I only write posts on my PC? Do I only write at certain given times? Do I have a schedule for recurring topics? Well, this question and everything around the process of creating a blog post, in today’s Blaugust Prompt, hosted by Pae from NerdyBookahs

TL;DR: Yes, Yes, PC/Laptop, Yes, No, and more information!

The actual prompt is called: “What’s your process when creating a blog post?”

Now, I’d have to clarify that the process is different for every type of post. I tend to do Stray Sheep and other entries that are more wordy, ranty or just rambly in one sitting and edit them later. I usually sit down with a cup of tea or a mug of coffee, based on the time, and start writing… and when I’m done, my coffee is either empty or has gone cold, which is always a bummer. 

Speaking of “based on the time”, I tend to either write in the evenings or the mornings. During the day, I have to work on real-life stuff and study and do all of that, so I end up only having time to write when I get up and drink my coffee or when I am done with everything in the evening if there’s enough time before the stream. 

As far as to “where”, I tend to do it at my desk using my PC. Based on what I do, I can just use the second screen for music or research or whatever, while writing on the screen in front of me. When I didn’t have the PC yet, I would sit down on my bed and write on my laptop. I did try to edit a post on my phone once… but it’s incredibly hard to pull off and I suck at typing on my phone, even as a GenZ/Zoomer, “lol”. Alas, I usually go for the PC and just work on there. It’s the cosiest and most efficient, I’d say. I don’t have to tab in and out as much and I can type rather fast.

I have to rely on my laptop whenever I’m not at home or at my desk. I used to sometimes work on blog stuff at University in between breaks when I had too little time to work on university stuff and when I had just enough time to edit a picture and put it into a blog post or something like that. Over time, I ended up not doing that anymore, though, since my laptop has become slow and loud… and it can’t be helped since it’s already six years old but it still works when I’m at my parents and the volume of it doesn’t bother me there either, unlike in class. 

As far as schedules go: I don’t usually go for a schedule. I try to get posts out as soon as possible while not posting twice or even three times a day. Spacing out posts is important. While not my primary concern, I also want my posts to get read: Hence, I try to have a few days between reviews, so that some of the reviews can gain traction through Twitter, Discord, and the WordPress reader. At the same time, though, posts can also gain views when you post others and when people click off from them to others, so I try to space them out a bit but not too much. In the end, it’s a bit of a struggle between posting daily and potentially burning out but staying consistent enough for google to pick you up… and just posting every few days and potentially risk losing discoverability. 

I did once try to post a review every week with an additional post per week… but it ended up burning me out a bit and I posted fewer reviews for a while. Essentially Stray Sheep can be posted asap while reviews take a bit of work and cannot be mass-produced by me, at least with my standards and the value I put into them. The new Lookout Post also takes a bit of time to prepare as I want to get facts right or talk about certain games. The Gaming Journal posts also are more like gaming-related Stray Sheep that get posted once done.

Now, while other posts usually end up just being a write-up of sorts, reviews take a bit of work for me personally. Based on the game, I try to see every feature and every nook and cranny of it. Sometimes, you get the bigger picture already after a few minutes to hours, like in Fall Guys, but in other cases, it tends to take more than just hours. I’m working on a review of Outer Wilds right now and while it is written up, I fear that I’m spoiling too much. To find out whether or not I liked it, I had to complete the story, which didn’t take too long… Just 24 hours in total, according to steam. After that, I wrote up a post that is nearly 4000 words long (3870 words to be exact) and now I have to cut out words so that it ends up being shorter and less spoilery.

I essentially play games that I want to review, take screenshots wherever I can, and then take notes and write a post. 

Now, usually, posts can be as long as needed but reviews are a bit iffy in that regard, too. Reviews are supposed to give you insights on a game and whether or not you should buy or (rather) play it. Nowadays, people tend to not have the time to read through a post that requires you approximately 30 minutes to read through. Instead, people end up reading posts more that are shorter and more compact with more compressed information and essentially a TLDR at the beginning or even a summary that you can skip to when you’re in a hurry. 

But I don’t want to do that. I don’t want people to skip over my post. If they want to, they surely can do that, but I don’t want to enable them to exactly skip through everything, so I end up posting reviews that are long enough for me to see them as actual posts… but short enough so that people can finish them in a bus ride or in between. Hence, my posts are about 1000 to 1300 words long and get trimmed down to that. 1100 words are about 3-4 minutes of read-time, according to Grammarly and other sources. This varies based on the skill of the reader and the words of choice but generally, they are “long” but not “too long”. 

Back to my post on Outer Wilds: According to this post here, it would take a slow reader about half an hour to get through my review in its current state. Even a faster reader like me would need nearly 10 minutes for it, which could be considered too long already. So, I have to cut it down to about 1000 words or 1300 at max… or even a bit more, but not too much.

The other reason as to why I have to cut it down is spoilers. Outer Wilds is heavily based on exploration. Every screenshot, every information, every reference, every joke, every single word can ruin the experience. The same goes for my posts on Necrobarista or Milky Way Prince – The Vampire Star. Being visual novels, their story is really important for the experience of the player. Every single word that I could write, could be a word too much. Hence, I have to see what I can do about that, how I play around it, how much I can say and what I would consider a spoiler… or what information would be a key-information for me. In Outer Wilds, for instance, the information, that [no spoilers], was crucial to my understanding. Hence, that information would ruin everything about the game for the reader. Duh.

Hence, I need to get rid of all the information that people don’t need to know before they play the game. The screenshots mostly are either pretty or add to my information but never show any bosses from late-game or whatever… The information is always based on the first few hours of my experience while the issues are things that I encountered over the course of my playthrough. 

After I’m done writing the review, I then go and research some facts about the game like the Developer, Publisher, Release Date, Platforms, Genres and put them into a small verse-block to essentially give people a quick look into what the game is about and whether or not the game is something they might be interested in. I also look for a featured image since that’s going to be displayed on top of the post and since that one will be in the link text and all of that. 

At last, after all of that, I tend to go back to the beginning and write a pitch of sorts. Something creative that basically invites people to come to the post. In my review for Milky Way Prince: The Vampire Star, I ended up talking about idealization and intimacy by first alluding to the very first time I met my current girlfriend and the somewhat cringy but also very hopelessly romantic memory I had of that. That anecdote then relates to topics in the game and I refer to the summary of the story without telling too much about it. Afterwards, I welcome the reader to another review and head into it. 

That works quite often. 

Sometimes, I need to find other words for it though… I can’t just start every review with “Today’s Indietail is about [game name], a [genres] title” – that would make every review generic and less personal. Instead, I’d love to write a short paragraph or two about something related to it. In my review on Ayre, I asked questions about freedom and flying… and while not that creative, I couldn’t really come up with anything else, so I just went for that. Still better than nothing!

So, to sum it all up: I do work at certain times, I do have certain routines, I prefer my computer as a workspace, and usually I have some coffee or tea ready for the process of writing. Reviews take a lot of work and effort since I am considering these things and a lot more… and I tend to write posts up and then later worry about editing, layout, and the initial pitch… in that order! 

Thanks for reading this post so far! You’re a champ!

This prompt was hosted by Pae, so check her post out if you haven’t yet. The next post in line is by Krikket, so check her out as well! 

Cheers!

This post is part of the Blaugust 2020 event. Wanna know more about it? Then check out my post on it or Bel’s post where he also linked everyone who’s participating! Be sure to check out the others as well!

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!

The “To The Moon” Play-Along – Act 2

“It’s the second week of the To The Moon Play-Along and alas we’re getting right into Act 2!”, is what I would have said if I wasn’t late with this post. Alas, an explanation:

I was not at home to play the game and therefore couldn’t write a post on this prompt. I couldn’t play through Act 2 as I only had my laptop with me and as it (probably) can’t run TtM, but in return, I had some time to write up five other posts instead that I wouldn’t have gotten to over here… weird, innit? 

Anyways, we’re back home again since yesterday and alas we’re heading into another Act of To The Moon… this time it’s a tad shorter and alas only features four questions. If you still haven’t played the game and don’t want to get spoiled, don’t read this post. If you’re completely new to the Play-Along I’d recommend checking out the “hub”-post over here where you’re able to find not only my last post but also the other posts by the other people participating! 🙂 So, let’s get into this, shall we?

Sperm at work

1. When Eva was sitting, thinking about the reasons nothing at all changed in Johnny’s simulated memories — what conclusions do you think she reached? What conclusion did you reach?

My initial thoughts on the matter were something that Nicolas mentioned… “something happened” in the past that was extraterrestrial for them and maybe even a tad creepy. I would have thought that there was some supernatural or alien event that traumatized Johnny so much that he just can’t remember his past all that much. That was my conclusion at least.

Eva probably thought about it with her contract in mind and how she could potentially find a way out of this blockade. Later we find out that a different event traumatized Johnny and his mother… and that he had taken beta-blockers to (potentially) cope with it… so the side effects of those caused Johnny to forget about a lot of things.

I’m sure you did nazi those fascists coming when you landed on the dark side of the moon.

2. The block on the youngest memories and the use of beta-blockers… What do you think this will be all about? 

Well, *again*, I thought that there would be some sort of extra-terrestrial stuff going on but sadly was disappointed with what happened. With all the distortions and the black and white stuff between the memory links going on, I would have thought that it’s some trauma of sorts that turned Johnny into a creep… but uh… well, it was, I guess?

Small break for fresh air?

3. What about Neil taking off for a moment while Eva returned with the… ahem… Contained dead squirrel odour? What could have been so important to him?

Honestly, no idea. It just doesn’t make sense to me right now… I mean, he’s working for a company, he’s on contract and that contract is not fulfilled yet but he’s taking a stroll in the woods while his client is about to die. Everything seems a tad weird but I guess that’s Neil in a nutshell… in a good way. 

This is kind of a far-stretch but maybe he has some health conditions that required him to walk away to take some drugs or vomit or whatever – well, something that he’d have to do somewhere away from other people as it’s loud or unsightly. This assumption is based on the fact that we picked up some pain killers while sampling the odour and based on the fact that Neil’s health was already a bit damaged when we fought against the squirrel. Alas, I thought that Neil potentially could have some brain stuff going on or some side effects from the machine they’re using or something like that. I honestly have no clue so these are just some theories of mine on it… Maybe we’ll find out eventually!

She was young and needed the money.

4. We still have the third act to come. What do you think it will focus on?

We end Act 2 with trying to break through the inaccessible memories… using a dead squirrel’s odour… and uh… well,… I guess we’ll make it in time and get through the barriers? 

Initially, I thought that we’d find out about the past and that we’d influence Johnny to want to go to the moon by doing something with River since she’s a big part of his life. Alas, it probably focuses on River and that incident in Johnny’s childhood. 

“Hey, I ain’t a bastard!”

Either way, we’re done with the questions for last week! I didn’t like Act 2 as it was incredibly slow-paced and as it felt a lot longer than it was. For the length that it featured it just wasn’t that exciting, in my opinion… So, when I was getting bored, it was over already… and then I ended up playing some more to get through the first half of Act 3. Alas, while answering the questions I already knew a bit more than I should have known… but luckily I made some notes and alas was able to see my first impressions and theories on the story, so it’s all original over here. 

😛

And that’s it for this post. I’m looking forward to the third act as it will be the end of the main story… and then there’re only the minisodes to come which hopefully are a tad shorter and more exciting than Act 2. While I did like Act 1, I’m not entirely sure if the slow pacing of Act 2 is everything that I didn’t like. There have been other moments in the game that I didn’t enjoy as much, such as Johnny being a creep and some mistakes and logical errors here and there, such as the Animorphs reference in one part that they didn’t get right… The beginning of Act 3 was kind of cute but I’m not entirely sure if I’m liking the game all that much right now. Oh well. 

If you liked this post or if you have other stupid theories, let me know! 

Have a nice day!

Cheers!

Indietail – Void Bastards

What does it take to become a good mercenary? What does it take to outwit your opponents, to survive? What does it take to escape the Sergasso Nebula?

Well, according to today’s game, Void Bastards, it only takes water, prisoners, and a whole lot of sneaking.

In today’s Indietail we’re taking a look at Void Bastards, a rogue-lite Stealth-Shooter that could probably be best described as FTL meets System Shock. You play as one of many prisoners that get sent through the Nebula to eventually just escape its fangs. On your way, you’ve got to manage resources, fight or outwit enemies, chose between different paths to take, and routes to walk through.

Developer: Blue Manchu
Publisher: Humble Games
Genres: Stealth, First-Person, FPS, Action, Rogue-lite
Release Date: May 28, 2019
Reviewed on: PC
Available for: PC, Switch, Xbox One, PS4

The framework gameplay revolves around you navigating your tiny little escape pod through the nebula by choosing different paths and ships that seem to be procedurally generated. This aspect reminds me heavily of “FTL: Faster Than Light”, which was quite pleasant as it directly contrasts the seemingly action-heavy inner gameplay-loop that revolves around sneaking and shooting. There are a lot of different ships to explore from shopping ships, manned with only gun-point-turrets at max, to medical bay ships or cargo ships. Each of these come with different supplies, loot tables, allies, and enemies.

When you board these ships, you’ve got to find the next exit and loot the ships for items, resources, and materials. Obviously, you can also just move past the ships and skip out on potential dangers at the cost of loot but I usually ended up just going for the looting-experience as I felt that it would be too much of a waste.

The different ships all feel different.

There are different musical pieces as well as different layouts that these ships can have, resulting in a unique experience whenever you board a ship.

In the beginning, you’re only equipped with limited ammo as well as weak(er) guns but over time you’ll upgrade them – and throughout your runs, you’re able to keep all the upgrades as merely your player dies and as there are plenty of other convicts to send out in the Nebula, each equipped with their genetic traits, making the experience rather unique similar to how your genes make you taller or colour blind in Rogue Legacy.

While I used to just run and gun every ship, trying to get as far as possible with my limited ammo, I quite often ended up dying prematurely due to missing ammo and/or drastic actions, but that’s not what Void Bastards is about. In the beginning, I also didn’t see the comparison to Bioshock but over time I came to realize:
It’s a stealth game.

Awww, cute! It’s a tourist!

Just because you have a gun, that doesn’t mean you’ve got to use it.

You don’t have to kill most people and usually, you’ll end up getting killed if you take on too many or the wrong enemies. Essentially, the best way to survive in this game is to sneak past enemies, to lock doors, potentially trap enemies in different rooms while looting ships and making it further and further into the void. Your gun is your friend but more often than not you should just rely on sneaking and immerse yourself into the unique atmosphere that each ship has.

Every sound you make can be the last sound you make. A neat little gimmick that the game has is the fact that it displays sounds made by you or enemies on the screen. Thump, thump, thump… Step, step, step… BAM! BAM! You get the idea! It felt similar to XIII, a game for the original XBOX that used to utilize a similar comic-gimmick with the sound-displays, the cell-shading and generally the vibes that this game has as well.

But despite being able to take a trip down nostalgia-road with all the gimmicks and references to System Shock, XIII, or Bioshock… the game still has flaws that can’t get ignored, in my opinion.

For instance, the game gets rather monotone and repetitive over time.

Monotony-wise…
The soundtrack is monotone and seems to be lacking something as it only features 23 different tracks that all sound way too similar. The game doesn’t shine when it comes to the music, which is – in my opinion – a bummer as it really could have done more there and as it really could have been more fun if the soundtrack accompanied you during stealth- or action-passages.

As far as repetitiveness goes…
Part of the reason why I always wanted to rush through the levels was the fact that I felt rather uncomfortable having to face a game like this with its monotone music and all the stealth going on without any action at all. Once you realise that Stealth is your best friend, you have to get married to the idea of being sneaky. Sneaking through ships, looting caches while not getting seen… it’s the most successful way of playing this game and essentially you’ve got the whole game figured out if you get to that point.

And well, the whole gameplay loop may be flawed at this point…
I know that every run can’t be completely different when it comes to rogue-likes but I personally found that there wasn’t much replay-value there past the first few hours. You already have seen plenty of the game after a few hours of gameplay. Same goes for the campaign… I didn’t find it too entertaining for something that is supposed to take “12 to 15 hours”, resulting in a bit of a negative experience for me personally. The humour and the initial impressions with the comic-like presentation are rather cool and entertaining, I’d say, but they don’t outweigh the other issues in my opinion.

Alas, I don’t think that I really can recommend this title. For a game that costs thirty bucks without any discounts on Steam, I would have expected a bit more. If you aren’t bothered by repetitiveness in stealth-rogue-lite-shooters, I’d say go for this game… at a discount.

Either way, I hope that you enjoyed this post and I wish y’all a wonderful day. I was really excited about playing Void Bastards but in the end, I got a tad disappointed as the game became stale over time, which is a bummer.

Oh well, cheers!

Indietail – RogueJack

RNG was always has been a part of the rogue-like genre, from what I’ve seen. Surely, some games don’t rely on RNG at all, be it in the form of items, levels, enemies or stats. Some games don’t need to have that element of chance and randomness in their code but I wouldn’t call “RNG” itself bad as you always, somehow, have to make it work. “Hate the player, not the game.”

But in today’s Indietail, we’re not looking at a game that doesn’t rely on RNG at all but rather one that takes the best out of a lot of rogue-likes and combines it with gambling, or more precisely Blackjack. Today we’re taking a look at RogueJack!

Developer: Ponywolf
Publisher: Ponywolf, LLC
Genre: Casual, Card Game, RPG, Indie, Dungeoncrawler, Rogue-lite
Release Date: May 27, 2020
Available on: PC
Reviewed on: PC
Copy received for free.

In RogueJack we’ve got to crawl through a dungeon and beat enemies in order to level up and evolve our character, ultimately to find some sort of ancient amulet. In our adventure, we fight enemies, dodge their attacks, and get stronger by looting treasure chests and “trusting the heart of the cards”.

The rules are simple: You get two cards and then get to decide whether or not you draw one card or stay at your current number. Face cards grant 10 points, number cards grant their value. Some cards subtract points while others add. Before 10, an ace grants eleven points, and you win fights by getting as close as possible to 21. If you step over it, you lose the fight and the enemy damages you. If you hit 21 (BlackJack!), if your enemy gets more than 21 points or if your number is higher than the enemy’s number, you damage them.

And well, of course, some enemies have bonus effects and “move-sets” of their own. Some enemies win in case of a tie, others tend to play it safe and only play until 16 while others even poison, freeze or set you on fire when you get damaged.

Your damage depends on the items you collect. A six-shooter-gun, for instance, grants you more damage if you’re a cowboy while the Staff of Divination grants you two damage, more vision and even grants you a higher chance to actually see your cards before drawing. There are also shields that block damage before breaking, potions that heal you or cure status effects, daggers, swords and other weapons that grant you more damage and overall, it all depends on what you find and if you can make it work.

In your journey, you’ll encounter a vast variety of enemies in different colours and with different properties. More often than not you’ll try to fight them, to earn money, which you then may use on vending machines to gain more items. Ultimately you are not relying on item-RNG too much nor on any stats but only on your luck and the way you make the cards work. Get greedy and overstep 21. Play it too safe and the enemy hits BlackJack while you’re staying at 16. Ultimately, it’s a card game, but I did quite enjoy it. When you die, you’ll get a second chance. Die again and you’re out. You then get the chance to retrieve your exp and money and continue from the previous level or start anew from Floor 1, your choice.

When you beat enemies, you level up and unlock new characteristics. The Rogue sees all cards, for instance, but while these effects sound over-powered in a way, they are balanced by the fact that it doesn’t help you to know what’s coming when you’ve got bad cards. After you level up, there is no coming-back either. You can’t change your class. You are who you are until you’re someone else. It’s all a game of sorts, a gamble.

And well,… that’s it. The premise is a gamble, too. It can either work out or it doesn’t. I personally really liked the game and only disliked the slow turn-based movement and the unnecessary “freeze”-effect. Once you get rid of that, you can have quite a bit of fun, unless you lose to the cards, or rather the RNG. BlackJack is combining two interesting concepts: The only card-game I really understand… and dungeon-crawlers. The fact that you can’t change your class unless you reset, is interesting. The variety of weapons, enemies and classes is quite fantastic.

In a way, I’m conflicted on whether or not this really is a rogue-like as it actually resembles more of a dungeoncrawler-character… but I guess the borders from one to another are rather fluid and in the end a game is a game, right?

The presentation features a nice pixelated art-style that I found rather pretty while the soundtrack features… one song… that kind of reminded me of older Zelda games and which was fun at first but once it looped for the 42nd time, you probably will turn it off, too, and turn on some music that you enjoy. I would’ve wished for more variety in that regard.

In the end, the game’s premise and looks, the gameplay and the RNG-dependence of the cards are either hit or miss. You either love it or you hate it. I personally liked it so far but I wonder how much I’ll play it. It’s probably one of those games that I’ll turn on every now and then but for not too long per session.

If you already enjoy card games or more specifically BlackJack, you’re gonna love this iteration of the genre. If you enjoy dungeon-crawlers or rogue-lites, you’re going to find this game interesting. So in the end, I’m recommending it and I hope that you have a nice time with this title.

Cheers!

Indietail – Ayre

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if you could fly on a majestic creature like a dragon? Have you ever wanted to surge through the skies and explore vast areas? Have you ever dreamed of true freedom with no boundaries whatsoever? 

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions or if you’re just wondering what I’m on about, then you might like this following review of Ayre!

Developer: Gordon Little aka Gord Games
Publisher: Gordon Little
Genres: Casual, Adventure, Indie, Dragons, Flying, Simulation, Third Person
Release Date: May 27, 2020
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC
Copy received from the Devs

Ayre is a new dragon flight simulation that is coming out on Steam soon. Mount your bonded dragon, Red, and explore vast areas while testing your flight skills in sky races hidden across the lands and discover the history of an ancient civilisation with their own customs and traditions as well as a story that is quite interesting. And then there’s the Crystal Comet, an organism of sorts that has been scattered across the lands and asks you to unify it again. 

Yeah, true freedom. It’s great. You’ve got an open world with gigantic, snow-covered mountains, vast plains, beautiful valleys and sparkling rivers that is completely accessible to you and your scaley companion. Across the world, you find collectable crystals and Monoliths telling you the story of a civilisation of the past. 

It’s an interesting experience to be able to go anywhere you want with little to no guidance and no boundaries set by abilities that you need. The controls may take a while to get used to if you – like me – don’t play too many flight-simulation-games but once you get the hang of it, it is rather fun. If you want to challenge yourself, there are plenty of ring-races that require you to reach a goal as fast as possible. If you then still want to step up your game, then I recommend checking out the advanced flight options that are less simplified and need you to watch the speed your flying at and control your dragon more precisely. 

Red looks like such a happy boiii in this one. Like some cute doggo but better!

The music and the colourful, simplified presentation make the game shine in a new light as well as you get to enjoy the world without having to fear any threats or dangers. If you fall off a cliff, your dragon is there for you and rescues you in time, too!

And the different biomes are rather intriguing. During the time I played, I found some ruins here and there as well as forests and a wasteland of sorts. There are different structures hidden in all kinds of places, from a temple in the mountains to a small port in a river. You may swim across some Deltas and travel by foot, too. If you get too far from your dragon, you just whistle and Red comes to pick you up. It’s just enjoyable. 

Crystal in a temple fits quite well!

Overall, I really enjoyed the game to this point but I noticed that it still needs some polishing and some more updates here and there. I’d be intrigued to see how this game fairs in VR and how people would enjoy it in that context but at the same time, me and my fear of heights don’t want to try that out, haha.

It’s only going to come out and I only got a key for review purposes, so some of the following issues might have been gotten rid of in the future, so I’ll probably revisit this game by then as well… but yeah, there are flaws. 

I love this area so much!

For instance, it feels really slow to travel on foot. Quite often I’d call my dragon and I’d just fly a small distance to get closer to a crystal I wanted to collect, or I’d just ride it on the ground to reach a point. 

There are also some spots here and there where the world feels a bit janky. Your character, for instance, can’t seem to climb up ledges all that much and often seems to struggle with going up the smallest hills. There are also areas where your dragon struggles, like when you run into a hill while attempting to fly up and your dragon just lands again, which can be a bit annoying but you get the hang of the flying and starting rather quickly, so that may be overlooked.

We’re a fast boy! And if we beat this race, we get a speed upgrade for our dragon!

I also noticed that some features seem to not be implemented into my version just yet, like different markers on the map or story-parts on different monoliths. I’d find a monolith in a new area but can’t seem to interact with it at all, so I guess it’s going to get added very soon after or even on release. 

And then there’s an issue that I have with the crystals. Some of them are placed in interesting ways like on the palm of a giant statue or at the top of some ruins but it can be quite hard to get to them due to different polygons of the game and the weird difficulty your character seems to have with them. There also some spaces here and there where you’d seemingly get showered in crystals while other areas are rather scarce of any at all. I would love it if you had to collect less in total and if the crystals would be rarer or if the movement speed of the character got buffed a bit more so that it feels less like a hassle in these areas. 

So fabulous!

For the first story-piece from the Crystal, as an example, you need to collect five crystals while you need fifty crystals for the second fragment of a story. It seems like a bit of a jump and I would rather have enjoyed smaller steps like a new fragment every 25 crystals since the story is the hook that keeps you playing. Without the story and the exploration part, you might get bored eventually after two to three hours of flying around. 

But regardless of that, I would say that it’s a solid premise and, while it needs some polishing, it is definitely worth checking out for anyone who likes the idea of it and enjoys truly open worlds without invisible walls

Yup, a pidgeon on a skateboard.

So, in the end, I’ll have to revisit it in the future once it got updated a bit more or once it hits the release and possibly gets polished more. I can definitely feel the love that got put into this world and the game in general and I really enjoyed my time. While there are flaws, I would say that this game is like a gem that just needs a tad more polishing. I feel like that describes it quite well. 

The game already is available for 12 USD on itch.io, which in my opinion is a fair price for what you get out of it. The steam price will probably be somewhere around that, I guess.
I definitely will come back to this game every now and then as it’s quite relaxing and rather colourful, especially when it gets updated more in the future!

STORY TIME!

I hope you enjoyed this review. Thanks a lot to the dev, Gordon Little, for providing me with a review key for this game. Please check out the steam store page and wishlist this title when it comes out. And please take care, the whole pandemic-business is still not over. 🙂

Cheers!