Indietail – Hardspace: Shipbreaker

Ever since I was a child, I’d end up gazing up to the night sky in awe as it was brightening up with the light of distant stars and other planetary objects. It was fascinating to imagine what it was like out there and I always dreamt of becoming an astronaut or travelling space someday… but I knew that I’d never actually make it up there, especially because space is actually quite terrifying. Either way, it’s amazing that people are already able to shoot space ships up there and travel to space stations with drones making their way to Mars and scientists searching for other exoplanets. It’d be amazing to live in a time where humans have set foot on other planets in the solar system already and where people could live far, far away from this problem-ridden planet here called Earth. Well, today’s review is about a title that plays in exactly that sort of time, Hardspace: Shipbreaker!

Developer: Blackbird Interactive
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Genre: Simulation, Sci-Fi, Space, Early Access, Physics
Release Date: June 16th, 2020
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC
Copy was purchased.

In the aforementioned age of planetary colonisation, space ships have become more and more common and companies have taken command of space travel and turned into their own business. I guess this is somewhat realistic if you think about how Google, Tesla, and other companies are being idolized nowadays and how these companies are getting contracted by countries and governments. Anyways, in this day and age, where many humans have fled to other planets, there is one company that owns and operates a network of massive rail gates that let you warp through the inner solar system. This company called LYNX is actually also your boss in this game as you’ve signed away your rights and as you became a cutter in order to pay off your massive debt of a billion credits.

Being a cutter entails taking apart ships during your 15-minute shifts and processing the parts to make money for LYNX and to ultimate dig away at the aforementioned debt. It may seem daunting but in the future, this is your only option really, which is why your playthrough is dictated by efficiency and debt. You own nothing. Not your tools, not your home, not even your life. If you die, you get resurrect since LYNX owns your DNA signature. This process of resurrection costs a hefty amount of money which will be added to your debt. So, let’s dive in and play some Reverse-Lego, shall we?

Another day, another job!

You, as the player and the so-called “cutter”, own a set of tools that help you with your work orders. For starters, you own a tether-powered grapple that can be utilized to move around or push/pull ship parts into the appropriate places. Raw metal belongs in the furnace. Nanocarbon goes into the Processor. Salvage-able parts like seats, terminals and cargo belong in the barge. In case you don’t know where a part goes, your UI will tell you, so don’t worry too much about it. Another tool of yours is a laser cutter that allows you to take apart the ships at certain points in it, as well as a scanner that can be used to locate rooms, objects and potential threats. Yes, there are threats in this game… Not only can you run out of oxygen or get melted in the furnace but there are also power cables that can electrocute you, fuel tanks that can burn you to a crisp and reactors that can blow up on you. Naturally, you’ll be cloned and hence, resurrected… but again, that costs money, not to mention that explosions will cause a loss of money.

Let’s upgrade our Grapple some more!

But overall, the game’s very chill. I wouldn’t worry about min-maxing your shifts or getting everything done in one go… I wouldn’t worry about the certification grades or whatever. Play the game at your own place. There even is a mode that allows you to play with only one life while another game mode allows you to engage in free play or play without a time/oxygen-limited. The game is meant to be relaxing. If you enjoy the challenge, there are weekly challenges in the game as well with leaderboards and an active community… but really, this is my go-to “chill out” game for when I need to calm down, relax, or distract myself. Taking apart space ships is amazing, the game looks stunning, and the soundtrack is wonderful. Pair that with the wonderful eye candy that has been added recently and the humour in some of the dialogue and you’ve got a fantastic game that is already quite polished despite being in Early Access.

Inside the processor it goes! This should give us some good money!

The game gets updated frequently and while the debt isn’t too much of a concern, it’s a bit annoying that your save file gets wiped whenever there is a major update. I’d love it if the developers would give you a way to keep your save file but still play the new update. Apart from that, though, there aren’t really too many concerns. I’d love to see more story-related interactions in the game, to be honest, but I don’t mind the lack of a story. There are data-boxes that you can encrypt with messages left by evil AIs, former crewmates of the ships you take apart, as well as other people involved with the crew, which is interesting.

We made a good profit in this shift… but the rental fees are wrecking me. -.-

As an insert here, I’d like to mention that my absolute favourite of the game is the ability to take apart ghost ships. They are seriously creepy, especially since they need to be “exorcised” by destroying AI Nodes… If you don’t do that, you may end up getting locked in by the AI, which is not only spooky but also quite fun. Apart from that, I also love the stickers you can put on your grapple and the cutter… and I love the little backstories you get from data caches.

There’s the power generator. Let’s take it out!

The game contains flashing lights at times, so I wouldn’t recommend this to you if you have any issues with that, but otherwise, it’s a very nice and chill experience in my opinion. It’s a lot of fun to take apart the ships and I’m looking forward to writing another post on future updates once there are more coming out. There may be bugs since it’s still in EA but personally, I have only encountered one crash in my 30 hours of playtime (so far) and I doubt that I’ll encounter many more since the game seems to be fairly polished. All in all, Hardspace: Shipbreaker is a very satisfying and relaxing game that lets you take your time in space while you destroy or blow up abandoned space ships and slowly get rid of that debt! Highly recommend it!

Anyways, that’s it for the post today. Hope you enjoyed it!

Cheers!

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

Indietail – Ape Out

When it comes to games, there are plenty of factors that make a good game great. In my opinion, you can have a relatively simple gameplay loop or relatively simple mechanics in a title and still make the experience incredible by adding your own style to it, giving the game personality, or by working with an interesting art style, nice animations, or even by working more on the soundtrack, the sound design, and the environment. A game that is doing all of that really well is Ape Out. Here’s my review!

Developer: Gabe Cuzzillo
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Genre: Beat 'em Up, Top-Down, Action, Indie
Release Date: February 28th, 2019
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC, Switch
Copy was purchased.

Ape Out is a beat ’em up game developed by Gabe Cuzzillo and published by Devolver Digital. As far as I know, it’s the first title by Cuzzillo but his work on the art and game design is phenomenal, to say the least. Some of the art was made by Bennet Foddy who you may know from VVVVVV, QWOP or Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy. And well, the soundtrack has been composed by Matt Boch, the former creative director of Dance Central. I’m starting here with the team because Bennett Foddy has been involved in plenty of interesting games and I kind of like that guy. Similarly, Matt Boch’s work on the game’s soundtrack is incredibly important for the game’s feel and presentation because of the way that Ape Out utilizes “emergent gameplay” and more importantly improvisation. 

In Ape Out, you control a gorilla who’s running through a maze while pushing, grabbing and evading gun-wielding enemies that are pursuing you. You’ve been caged and mistreated, so now you try to break out and achieve freedom. It’s simple but a lot of fun. The controls utilize only the AWSD keys for movement as well as the mouse buttons for your attacks. Gamepad controls feel good, too, although I preferred the keyboard controls. When you encounter enemies, you can simply run away, grab them and use them as a shield or you simply push, punch and slam them into walls. The Free Jazz soundtrack that accompanies you throughout the game interacts with your in-game actions, resulting in the experience becoming even more fun. Be it the drums, the piano or the sax, there are plenty of instruments in the soundtrack and they all seem to improvise and work together, blend together and have their own little solos. Free Jazz is amazing. It’s creative and innovative at times, which is why I personally absolutely adore this game’s soundtrack. The snares that you hear when you kill enemies, when you push them or when you slam them into the wall make it seem as if you’re part of the crew that is playing there on a stage. It’s fun and engaging. This is what emergent gameplay is about. Games like Untitled Goose Game did it before and honestly, it still works and brings life into a world that seemingly is only inhabited by you and your pursuers. But the emergent gameplay aside, the soundtrack is even more important because it reflects the gameplay quite well. Free Jazz is all about improvisation and creativity, just like Ape Out.

In Ape Out, there isn’t just one solution to all of your problems. Levels are similar but there seems to be a procedurally generated element to it. Each time you restart, die or pick the game up again, levels are slightly different, enemy placements change and the game feels different. Because of that, you’ll need to reevaluate your strategy non-stop. Do you slam enemies into the wall or do you just run leaving your enemies behind? Do you tackle them head-on or do you strategically take them out one by one? In one case, I grabbed one of the shotgun-wielding enemies and used him as a shield. Enemies that you grab, fire off a shot that can hit their allies. I used that to my advantage, taking out enemies with machine guns before eventually pushing my human meatshield into a crowd and taking out more enemies. I then proceeded to hurl legs, arms and torsos at enemies to give me some time to grab them, throw them, punch them again. Improvisation is key. Not everything goes to plan and while the game can be difficult at times, I never found myself getting frustrated. I got closer and closer to my goal and re-evaluated my strategy, reflected on what went wrong and more often than not spend many more tries to get that perfect goal.

But not only does the soundtrack add to the experience, but also the art direction that the game was taken in. Ape Out is incredibly stylized. Blood splatters are colourful while the world is dark at times. There are bright and vibrant colours wherever you go. The game changes colours frequently, plays with the environment and adds different mechanics to the game that add a different look to the game. The top-down perspective makes it easy for you to enjoy this art style a lot more while you’re still able to discern enemies, weapons and the like. There are 32 levels in total and they all are connected in one way or another. Instead of featuring a world-map of sorts, the game celebrates the jazzy soundtrack by splitting the game up into four disks with an A-side and a B-side, each. The four disks are presented with four different album covers, thematically tied to the chapters covered in the disks. The art style that the album covers have been taken into, or maybe even the whole game, kind of reminds me of 60s movies and Saul Bass’ typical graphical work. I love this minimalistic approach to the game. I really do. It’s amazing.

And, well, Ape Out is frankly a great game. It combines destruction and percussion, adds style to it, and lots of satisfaction… and it does it bloody well! I can highly recommend it. Try it out!

Cheers!

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

Indietail – A Short Hike

With A Short Hike, adamgryu managed to create a wonderful experience that I’ll never experience again in the same way I did just a while ago. The tunes by Mark Sparkling complement the carefree journey you embark on phenomenally and I absolutely adore this short little game that is all about exploration, although I also associate a certain kind of sadness with this sort of experience… but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves here.

Developer: adamgryu
Publisher: adamgryu
Genre: Exploration, Indie, Adventure
Release Date: July 30th, 2019
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC, Switch
Copy was purchased.

In A Short Hike, you take control of Claire, a young canary that visits her aunt at Hawk Peak Provincial Park. There she’s waiting for a call but can’t help but notice that she doesn’t have any phone reception… Hence, she sets off on a journey to trek towards the summit of Hawk Peak Mountain in hopes that the reception there is better… but despite Hawk Peak Provincial Park’s somewhat rural appearance, there are plenty of things to do on your way to the summit, which is why A Short Hike isn’t exactly about reaching a certain goal or about reaching the summit of the mountain… but rather about the journey there.

Since we’re playing as a bird, we can fly up into the air, glide and dive through the valley and reach areas that we haven’t been to before. Reaching the summit should be rather easy, right? Well, our stamina is kind of a limiter in that regard, which is why we have to collect golden feathers around the islands and complete quests to acquire some of them. One of the earliest encounters we find is a small frog at the beach who’s trying to build a sandcastle but is struggling to do so due to him not having the proper tool for his endeavour. Instead of a regular toy shovel, he’s using a full-sized shovel, which makes detailed work a bit hard for the little guy. Similarly, there is an artist around the map who is trying to find the perfect spot to paint a nice picture to submit to a gallery while another person is trying to collect shells. There are countless encounters around the map and a lot of activities to partake in. You can learn to fish or appreciate racing someone. You can collect hats, sticks and coins or even go on a treasure hunt. There are a lot of things to do but nobody forces you to. Whenever you complete a quest, you’ll earn a reward of sorts that in return can help you reach the summit easier. Similarly, you can find golden feathers that expand your stamina bit by bit throughout the map, resulting in you being able to reach places that you haven’t been able to reach before.

Exploration is rewarding and relaxing. I honestly forgot why exactly I wanted to reach the summit but then I got there and… it was nice. I was still able to continue with the game and fly around, collecting coins and going on fishing sprees… but the short hike really is rather short, though the many tasks and activities you encounter along the way can give you a bit more playtime, for sure. As I mentioned before, A Short Hike isn’t exactly about reaching the summit but more about enjoying the way there. The journey is the goal and the goal is the journey, you could say.

It kind of reminded me of how I would go out and explore the town as a kid and just go around town and see where different streets would lead to. I’d end up in a forest, eventually, or find a shortcut to a place I liked. I also ended up enjoying the exploration bit and the hiking, travelling and walking around a lot more than me actually finding something. Sure, when you explore a lot and end up finding a secret or a reference to a different game in A Short Hike, it’s amazing and rather rewarding but there were times where I was just hoping that the map would reveal even more passages and areas that I haven’t explored yet. I was just hoping that I’d end up spending all day exploring this peaceful and colourful world that I found myself in. Maybe it was that sort of nostalgia that I felt and referred to before… maybe some sort of escapism… but sadly, I had to return to the real world eventually again, which is why it was nice to find refuge in a little adventure game like this for once.

But while the exploration is fun and all, it also comes with a few points that made the experience at times nearly a bit frustrating. Not super frustrating and not so much that I’d have to ragequit or anything… but it could have been done better… For starters, you can’t really move the map around too much which can be a bit frustrating. You’re semi-locked into this one perspective with the map changing the direction a bit when you reach certain spots or when you dive/fly around. That’s a bit tricky to use and can put a damper on the experience in my opinion. At the same time, I loved exploring the map but found it hard to navigate through it due to the lack of a map. Sure, you can get a compass if you want to but it’s not exactly the same as navigating through an area with a bird’s view map of sorts that you could put markers on if you wanted to. That’s something that I personally would have loved in a game like this.

Other than that, though, I absolutely adore this chill and relaxing, gentle and beautiful game that frankly allows you to calm down and enjoy the ride as you move on. It’s peaceful and lovely. The art style and the mellow tunes are perfect for this sort of game and if you ever feel like you need a change of pace from the constant distress that the outside world is putting us under, I can highly recommend this game to you… But I need to warn you that while the first playthrough (around 3 hours at most, I’d say) is great, every other playthrough may not be the same anymore, which is sad in a way. A Short Hike is a short game that comes with a nice experience at a reasonable price. In terms of replayability, it is nice to explore the map, trek along the many roads, or attempt a speedrun, but you won’t be able to spend hundreds of hours in here.

Cheers!

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

Indietail – TASOMACHI: Behind The Twilight

Back in February, I covered a lot of the Steam Game Festival demos but sadly didn’t get to cover all of them. One of the titles that looked very promising but didn’t get covered was Tasomachi, which is a 3D Platformer in a charming fantasy world. In TASOMACHI: Behind The Twilight, you step into the role of Yukumo, a young girl traversing the world in her beloved airship. Upon arriving at a certain town her airship gets taken down by a mysterious force, which is why she now has to explore the town in search of parts for repair… but something’s wrong since the town has fallen silent with no trace of its inhabitants.

Developer: Orbital Express, nocras
Publisher: PLAYISM
Genre: Atmospheric, Fantasy, 3D Platformer, Exploration
Release Date: April 14th, 2021
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC
Copy was sent by the devs.

First of all, I’d like to mention that the world is beautiful. Usually, I’d talk about the presentation later on in the review but I feel like a huge selling point for this game is the wonderful art and the atmosphere in the games. The artist-turned-indie-dev, nocra, has been known for contributions to the art of Final Fantasy XIII-2, XIV: A Realm Reborn, freelance 2D art on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, as well as Xenoblade Chronicles 2. Hence, it comes as no surprise that the world of Tasomachi is beautiful, mysterious and enigmatic. The world is pretty and feels livelier every time you complete the challenges of the different places and every time you bring back more people. The music by Ujico*/Snail’s House certainly adds to this feel as well with chill and cosy vibes during the day and relaxed melodies during the night. The challenges that you complete feature some somewhat funky and futuristic sounds as well that certainly mix things up and overall, I love the presentation, the soundtrack, the art style and the character design to bits and feel like it’s outstanding.

The gameplay loop consists of you visiting these different places in the world, trying to collect Sources of the Earth, which are necessary to lift the fog and bring the towns back to life. By completing the challenges and getting the protection of the Sacred Trees, you essentially revitalise the places and get some repairs done for your ship, resulting in a bit of a Zelda-like experience minus the combat. There are a bunch of puzzles like mazes and switch-puzzles as well as some platforming challenges that involve mechanics that get introduced along the way. Some of the sacred trees also grant you powerups, like a mid-air dash or a stomp, that you can perform to get to Sources of the Earth around the map.

While I usually hate platforming in games, I actually don’t mind it in this game. The puzzles feel interesting and innovative in a way with mechanics you may know from other games but used in different ways. Similarly, I like that Tasomachi features multiple short sections that you have to overcome instead of one long painful course of jumping puzzles, which overall makes it more enjoyable. If you fail it a couple of times, it can get annoying but it’s not as bad as in other games which is why even I got a bit competitive. “Just one more time! This time I’ll get it” – And well, if you don’t want to do it, you can use coins to skip challenges completely. Usually, I don’t think highly of skip-buttons like that but the game has more than enough challenges for you to experience, so I don’t think it’s that bad to be able to skip a challenge or a few to make progress. The coins can be found around the map in random spots and they tend to respawn quite quickly, too, meaning that you don’t have to grind or anything like that. Once you got rid of the fog in a town, you also can use the coins to purchase decorations for your room in the silent valley or buy concept art and costumes, which is a nice little touch, in my opinion.

And then there’s also your trusty airship. I like the feel and the controls of it, especially as the areas are stunning and more than enjoyable to fly through. The plotline of your ship breaking down, sadly, puts a bumper into this as you’ll have to get through a few areas first before you can soar through the skies again… but once you get through that part of the story, it’s more enjoyable than it would have been before due to the revitalised towns and areas that now feature boats, new challenges and even more areas to explore. It’s an interesting take, in my opinion, especially as you can use your ship freely at that point, too, to fly through courses or flutter between buildings. On top of that, I love the nice little touches that the world has to offer like the day-night cycle and the animations and particles that your airship uses. It’s overall a very pleasant experience. I’d imagine, however, that the developers could maybe add some more life to the world in form of bugs, birds, and other critters to enhance the experience even more.

But even if I praise this game so much, I’ll have to say that there are things that I don’t like. First of all, I hate that you always “respawn” at the dock when you fall into the water in another part of the town. I’d enjoy it a lot more if you would just get put back at the last save spot or the last time you touched the ground… Failing a jump somewhere and falling into the water doesn’t have consequences for you aside from the fact that you have to go all the way over there again. Also, there are lanterns around the map that you can light and I find it hard to keep track of them all, especially as the light goes out when you enter a building or a sanctuary. I was wondering if something special happens if I light them all up but I couldn’t really find out as I would either lose track of where I’ve been already or I’d end up resetting it by accident. 

And then there are the settings for the game… There are no keybindings that can be changed, for instance, which is bad for accessibility. You also cannot change the gamma settings or turn off some of the particle effects. There is also an issue with the “Medium Resolution” that cause the water to flicker when you move the camera around, which is quite annoying… I would have liked it if you could change independent settings like particle effects, motion blur, bloom, lighting, control scheme, etc. in the settings instead of just being able to change the resolution. Stuff like that should be a given in 2021 in my opinion.

Apart from that though, I like this game. The puzzles have the right amount of challenge to them and can be skipped if you want to. The game is beautiful on the high to highest settings and presentable on lower resolutions. The soundtrack is amazing. The art and animation are great. I like that there is a photo mode in the game. I can recommend TASOMACHI to anyone that is looking for a nice and chill time in a pretty environment.

Cheers!

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

Looking forward to Bright Memory

Just recently I found out about a game that has been developed by only one developer using the Unreal Engine that combines action genres with the FPS genre and looks stunning. It’s an Indie Game that has been in development for quite some time and released last year in March, actually,… and I only just found out about it. Now, Bright Memory is amazing, and I wanted to talk about the first chapter that is playable over here for not too much of a price and I also wanted to talk about my expectations of the full version, Bright Memory: Infinite.

Developer: FYQD-Studio
Publisher: FYQD-Studio, PLAYISM
Genre: Hack and Slash, FPS, Action, Indie, Boomer Shooter
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC
Copy was purchased.

As already mentioned Bright Memory combines various genres into one smooth and satisfying experience. Take a little bit of DMC, a little bit of Bioshock and maybe even a little bit of Doom and mix it with a ton of nice graphics and a lovely soundtrack… and then you’ll essentially have Bright Memory. The game’s set in an alternate universe where the SRO (Supernatural Research Organisation) is researching the so-called “Kanshou and Bakuya”, 1000-year-old relic swords that contain a mysterious substance known as the “Soul of Jiu Xuan” that has capabilities that allow you to reanimate the dead. A terrorist organisation named “SAI” infiltrates SRO in an attempt to steal top-secret data and we, playing as Sheila (one of SRO’s agents), have to stop them but accidentally hit up that Quantum Transporter and get transported to the Floating Island, an airborne continent near the North Pole where the Soul of Jiu Xuan reanimated the various beats and corpses that once populated the island.

So, the story’s kind of packed and full of information but in essence, we try to not die and to retrieve the swords and other things…. and also there’s Carter who’s the Founder of the SAI and who’s trying to stop us at all costs… There are a few bits and pieces in the plot that aren’t clear just yet but it sounds promising so far… Now, but in the game actually, we only get to see the first chapter. I had to retrieve most of this extra info from the store page that goes a bit further than the first chapter… in a way, Bright Memory is a paid demo that is filled with a lot of satisfying action, actually.

For starters, the gunplay is amazing. You’re equipped with three different guns: A shotgun, a pistol and an assault rifle. Every shot fired feels like it packs a punch and it feels good to land them. Meanwhile, you also are equipped with a plethora of skills that can be acquired throughout the game as well as a bunch of other weapons, like an EMP Force Field, a Grappling Hook that you can use offensively, and a sword that can be used to slash up enemies, blast them into the air, juggle them, or deliver light slashes from afar! Combat itself offers a lot of combo potential as switching between weapons is nearly seamless and as you can quickly dodge enemy attacks via the Shift-key and the movement directions. I believe that the game has partial controller support but I’d imagine that it would work quite well if played with the controller.

On top of the high mobility that the game offers you, you can also rake in bonus points via the Combo-Meter that is very much like DMC’s… damaging enemies can keep the combo meter up and at the end of the chapter, you’ll receive a grade of sorts based on your deaths, the time needed, the combo-time you had, as well as the points and damage you achieved. In a way, Bright Memory reminded me of Boomer Shooters like Serious Sam and Doom Eternal, which is a good thing since I have wonderful connotations when I think of those games!

The gunplay is amazing and despite the game being developed by only one person, it is fully voiced and features an amazing soundtrack and there even are secrets, achievements, subtitles and different localisations.

The best part about the game, next to the pretty graphics that rival AAA titles, is probably the sense of immersion that I’m getting from it. Obviously, I wasn’t sucked into the game yet… but there’s a lot here that works quite well for me and for the experience. For starters, you don’t see any health bars and your ammo is only displayed through the hud on your weapons. You only see what Sheila sees with her HUD on. The same goes for skill-cooldowns and other information. I feel like that works really well for First-Person Shooters like this game, especially with this mix of swordplay and gunplay where every bullet and every slash counts. I think it would be bad if I had to watch more graphical elements on the screen like the bullet count in a corner of the screen or stuff like that. Instead, you have the bullet count exactly there where you’re aiming: On the gun. Love it! Similarly, the world feels alive with “Air Serpents” (aka dragons) roaming the skies, snakes and turtles occupying the areas and even other foes coming back. While there is an easter egg that kind of breaks the immersion, I didn’t quite mind it as I had a lot of fun with it!

Now, since I don’t want to get into the two boss fights from the first chapter, I’d like to go for some speculation… What do I expect from the full game?

Well, the full game, which will release sometime in 2021, will probably feature a bunch of different chapters. Chapter 1 has been more of an introduction/demo. I had fun with it for two hours… and during Bright Memory: Infinite’s development new features will be tested/showcased in this chapter, meaning that it might actually be quite nice to tune into it now and then. I got to play through the New Game and New Game+ about four times total… so I’d imagine that all chapters are somewhere between 30 minutes to 60 minutes in length with lots of achievements and secrets left on the level. I’d love to see this trend of the game just giving you checkpoints left and right since nothing’s worse than having to start over after forgetting to save for so long, you know? Apart from that, I’d love to see the skill tree getting developed more and there being new weapons, weapon types, and maybe even weapon upgrades. The combo system already feels quite nice but I’d like it a lot if the combo counter wasn’t present at all times and if there were some special interactions if you weave in your slashes between your gun rounds, etc. Overall, I like the game, don’t get me wrong… It’s just that there have been some things that I, if I had the know-how, would have done differently. Everyone’s a critic, right?
Apart from that, I’d love to have an endless mode or some sort of modifier in the game to make runs/playthroughs harder. The game is currently being remade/turned into a full-release, so I think that it will get added… Also, I’d love it if you could see lore entries in the game and if there were costumes that you could unlock in the game. There are currently four variants to Sheila in the game but having some variants of sorts would be quite interesting, like re-colours or even SAI’s armour on her… And yes, that latter suggestion wouldn’t make any sense at all… but neither does the “Schoolgirl Sheila Costume”, so there’s that.

Let’s summarise what’d be great:
– Full Controller Support
– More Skills/Better Skill Trees
– More Weapons/Weapon Upgrades
– Endless Mode
– More Customisation
– Slower Subtitles (didn’t mention it here… but yeah, just remembered that that bothered me and Idk where to put it here)
– More Chapters
– More Enemy types

I’m looking forward to the full release and can recommend trying out Bright Memory. It’s a demo. It’s short. I know. But there you’ll find plenty of information on the game, the graphics, and everything, so… Check it out and support the developers by wish-listing it! That’d be amazing!

Anyways, that’s it for today’s post. Have you played this game yet? Are you excited for the full release? Again, it flew completely under my radar but hey, I got to it eventually, right? What are your opinions on it so far or after reading my post? Let me know!

Cheers!

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

Indietail – Luck be a Landlord

Sometimes life’s rough and you’ll struggle to pay the rent, afford food and all of that. There are times like that where you’re desperate and have to… take a gamble or get evicted. In Luck be a Landlord, your landlady is an asshole that raises the rent every time you pay it… because capitalism! Hence, it’s your job to gamble away, quite literally, at a slot machine located in your apartment, so that you can afford the rent and keep surviving or even quite potentially beat the landlady/landlord and chase them out!

Developer: TrampolineTales
Publisher: TrampolineTales
Gerne: Slot Machine, Roguelike, Deckbuilding
Release Date: January 8th, 2021
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC
Copy was purchased.

Luck be a Landlord is a casual Roguelite-Deckbuilder where you spin the slot machine and gamble away while building a strong deck, collecting items, and raking in the cash! There are a ton of synergies and elements to the game and it’s a satisfying experience overall, in my opinion, especially due to the game design.

You see, in Luck be a Landlord you use coins to spin the machine and earn money based on your symbols. Some symbols earn you a set amount of money, like cats and dogs that grant you one coin. Meanwhile, others interact with each other, destroy other symbols, multiply other symbols’ worth, or multiply their own based on certain conditions, like the Geologist that destroys ores and pebbles and stuff and adds one more coin to their own value, which can snowball by quite a bit. After every spin, you can add one symbol to your “deck” or skip. There are also other mechanics in place like Rerolls or Removal orbs that allow you to remove symbols from your deck or reroll to further change the shape of it and what you’re going for… or rather to increase profits and remove tiles you may not need anymore.

There are a lot of ways to play the game. There are a lot of strategies… and quite recently, they added a bunch of fun ones like the Holy Water that removes the Hex’ negative effects but still allowing to generate money. It’s a nice item that makes the Hex a viable option now. Similarly, you can go for builds centred around bees, flowers, honey, and bears… or maybe aim for a Geologist-build where your oysters produce pearls that your Geologist can eat to add more value to himself… or you go for a build centred around destruction, etc. Every time you pay the rent, you also have to select one of three items that work passively and help you out by increasing symbols’ values or that give you other effects. There are a lot of options and more often than not you’ll have to improvise to get to your goal. After all, every run is random. The rent is due every few spins but every spin is randomised and so is every selection of items and symbols. Luck be a Landlord is in essence purely about RNG and deckbuilding, which is fun, especially due to it being paired with its simple premise and the satisfying gameplay loop.

Holy Water makes it so that Hexes have no effect but still give coins.

What I love about Luck be a Landlord is that runs don’t ever last super long. Once you know the tiles well enough, you’ll be able to dash through the game quite easily and get through the slow early game quite easily and rather fast, too. Longer runs do exist, especially when you snowball out of control… but once you beat it, it probably won’t continue forever, if that makes sense. The difficulty of Luck be a Landlord comes from staying ahead of the curve. You’ll need to make enough money each spin to get to your rent, but you’ll ultimately also want to have some way of snowballing or maybe saving up money, even. Similar to other roguelikes, there are certain points you want to hit in your build… and once you’ve beaten the game once, you’ll be able to continue the game on a different floor with a higher rent at certain points, hence adjusting these aforementioned points, I mentioned, if that makes sense. It’s nice to see different modifiers getting introduced into the game that make the game more difficult while still keeping the premise the same, although I’d wish there’d be more varied ones like modifiers that change the tiles you find or that change the premise kind of. It’d be interesting to see weekly challenges or stuff like that as well. Maybe we’ll get some of that in the future!

But from good stuff to bad stuff: Luck be a Landlord is addictive… I mean, it’s gambling after all. I may be overthinking this a little bit but it is a slot machine simulation after all… so… it’s not good… and while you’re not earning real money or anything like that, it is still gambling, in a nutshell… So that’s my biggest critique for the game. I’m not too sure about how I feel about this… And apart from that, I hate the music. I hate it a lot. It’s alright at first and then it becomes worse and worse as it loops and loops more and more for longer and longer… you get my point. It’s repetitive like the gameplay and while the runs themselves are still quite a lot of fun every now and then, the music makes it a lot less enjoyable… to the point where I like to turn it off completely.

"You've reached the end of the Early Access version! Congratulations! This time your landlord was trampled by rabbits! Floor 2 unlocked!"

If you like roguelike-deckbuilders that are “not like other games” then Luck be a Landlord may be the game for you. You can also pet the dog btw. If you like doing that, this game is a winner. I’m sure you’re going to enjoy it. It gets updated quite frequently and despite it being in Early Access, I haven’t encountered any bugs yet. There’s even a countdown to the next update on the title screen, which is a nice gimmick, in my opinion. If you can look past the fact that this game basically glorifies gambling (again, I’m overthinking this a bit here), it can be very enjoyable… but I personally have some mixed feelings on that subject despite still enjoying the game.

Cheers!

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

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!

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

Indietail – Moonlighter

In every RPG, merchants are selling you all kinds of goods. But have you ever asked yourself where those goods come from or those merchants got so far? Well, in today’s review, we’re talking about a game that lets you experience both sides of the same coin: Merchants and Heroes!

Moonlighter is an Action-RPG developed by Digital Sun Games and published by 11 bit studios.

The Plot

Moonlighter is about a set of gates that have been found after an archaeological excavation. Those gates are referred to as the Dungeon and consist of four doors to four realms, each full of different artefacts and enemies. There’s also a fifth door that hasn’t been opened yet since nobody knows how to do so.
Once word of the dungeon has spread, a small town of merchants has been found near the excavation site, Rynoka.

Back to the present, the game presents us with Will, a young merchant who’s the heir of one of the oldest shop in Rynoka, the Moonlighter. After his grandfather “Crazy Ol’ Pete” has been lost in the dungeons, the protagonist Will has to take care of the shop while secretly dreaming of becoming a hero.

That’s where the game sets in. We accompany Will on one of his expeditions into the Golem Dungeon where he fights off enemies with a Broom and collects their dropped artefacts.
After being swarmed by them, however, we pass out and are set back at the entrance of the dungeon where Zenon finds us and brings us back to our room in the Moonlighter. He then explains to us how to sell items and even gives us a sword and shield that he once used.

Fun little joke by Zenon who gives us our first and his old sword in a zelda-esque fashion.

Gameplay

After this little tutorial, we’re beginning our adventure of capitalism and monster-slaying! At nighttime, we’re going into the dungeon to slay monsters and collect the artefacts dropped by them. At daytime, we then sell these artefacts in the store to get richer. Of course, you can always go into the dungeon during daytime but while it’s safer during that time the possible loot is also less valuable. Another reason why we’re only venturing into the dungeon at night is the fact that we can only sell items during the day.

This is the point where you might ask yourself:

What do I need the money for?

maybe you

That’s a good question, I’d say.
Basically, you’re able to upgrade your shop with the money you earn which then leads to you being able to earn even more money. You can also use the money to bring new NPCs into the town who then open their own shops, bringing the town of Rynoka to its former glory.
The bigger the town, the more customers you get!

Now, this is the point where you might ask yourself:

Why do I want other shop-keepers in my town?

maybe you, again

Well, while this question is justified – after all, we’re capitalists – it’s also not. The new shops that open in the town are rather useful to you and do not steal your customers.

Andrei’s introducing himself.

For instance, there’s Andrei, Forge Master Extraordinaire, who’s running Vulcan’s Forge and is able to grant you new equipment and upgrade yours.

For that, you need to bring him the needed materials and pay him a fee that is needed to craft those items. At Vulcan’s Forge, you’re able to craft five weapon types that each has two different paths to be upgraded to. There’re “swords with shields” or rather short swords (you get one from Zenon, btw), bows, big swords (or rather buster swords?), spears, and gloves that each have a normal and an empowered attack.

Each weapon has its own range and attack-set, so everyone might find a weapon that suits his playstyle. As previously mentioned, weapons are upgradeable and there’re two paths to take for those upgrades. You either go for the bonus stat which grants you an on-hit-chance to poison, burn, stun, etc. the enemy (it also deals more damage!) or you go for just more damage (which is more than the elemental variant).

As for armour, there’re helmets, chest plates and boots that all come with three different versions: Fabric, Steel and Iron. While Fabric is lighter and grants you a bit of movement speed, Steel is heavier and slows you down but also grants you more health (or rather resistance). Iron is the hybrid, I guess, as it doesn’t give you a movement speed bonus, nor does it slow you down, and as for armour, it’s in the middle between those two. These material-properties go hand in hand for all of the equipment which is quite handy since you might want to get a fabric bandana, some steel chest plate and some iron boots, for example, to not get slowed down at all but still get more armour, or you go for full plating to be slow but beefy like a true tank.. or you go for the ninja-playstyle with no resistances but some antelope-speed.

Crazy Ol’ Pete’s drawing of the dungeons and his theory on the guardians with their keys and the fifth door being opened with those.

There’s also Eris the Weaver and Potion Master who runs The Wooden Hat. She’s selling potions and enchantments at her store, allowing you to further upgrade your equipment or to craft or just buy potions for your adventures in the dungeon. While you can just buy potions with your gold, you can also bring her items dropped by slimes in the dungeon to craft the potions as well, meaning that you save half the price but have to collect some of those not-so valuable slimes.

There’s also Julien who owns the rival store “Le Retailer” and sells items, just like Will, but at a much higher price (speaking of gold, not your soul or anything), as well as Alan and Edward. Alan runs the Hawker Stand where you can get decorations for your store that give you benefits for your shop like extra-tip and Edward is the town banker who helps you with investments which is a high risk/high reward kinda thing that you may do if you’d like to risk losing some money but get a chance of cashing out big. It’s the bitcoin of gaming!

But let’s get busy. Once you open your store, citizens come in and want to buy stuff. To do so, you’ll need to place them on pedestals in your store and set a price. The game has a nice mechanic here where it shows you the expression of people looking at an item. If you set the price too high, people will be mad about it and won’t buy that item. If you set it too low, they’ll be really happy about it but you will make less profit (although you always make a profit since you get the items for free from the dungeon…but you could get more money is what I’m trying to say).

A fully upgraded store with some decent items in stock!

There’s the right price for every item that you have to find out about which sometimes can be a little tedious. Your merchant’s log helps you with that. In your merchant’s log, you can find all kinds of information regarding the items you’re selling as well as the prices you’ve set before. But I guess now’s the time where you’d be pulling out the only guides with the right prices, right?
Well, that’s where you’re wrong since there’re always variables in the market that make it hard to determine such a price:

If you sell too much of a specific item, the market gets flooded which is why the demand for that specific item is low and you won’t sell that item for the “normal” price anymore. If the demand is high, however, you can set the price even higher to earn even more money! To work around flooding the market, you need to put variation into your shop, even if it means selling less valuable items!

In the beginning, this “more” means a few hundreds maybe but as your game goes on, you’ll unlock new dungeons with new dangers but also new items – which means even more money! We’re living the capitalist dream!

Level Design/Variety

Speaking of dungeons, there’re four types of them (and the fifth one but I won’t talk about that one because of spoilers! duh.):
The Golem Dungeon, the Forest Dungeon, the Desert Dungeon and the Tech Dungeon.

The fountain, the safe spot of every dungeon-floor where you can rest up and heal your wounds before continuing your exploration. The longer you’re in there, the darker the water gets. A nice detail, reminding us that even adventurers have to take a bath!

Each of these feature different enemies that all have different attack-patterns and may also apply effects on you like poison, fire and electric damage. What I really liked about this game is that the different enemies aren’t just recoloured previously met enemies. There’s an actual variety of monsters. In the Golem Dungeon you’re facing off against flying golems, rolling golems, mage golems, fighting golems, golems with shields, bush monsters, mimics, slimes and all kinds of other enemies and while most of these early monsters have “golem” in their name, they still all look unique!

What surprised me when first facing off against these was that some of them needed to be kited first, like the rolling ones that charge at you and get stunned when they hit a wall making them vulnerable. Some other enemies can only be hit when from behind while others are flying and have to be taken out when they’re low enough – while they’re attacking. There are also ranged enemies that you’ve got to get close to and slimy ones that trap you in their bodies where you need to wiggle out of.

And while these attack-patterns were unique, the next dungeon also had other enemies that all worked differently! The forest dungeon featured enemies that were mostly ranged with some applying poison to you while others were constantly moving around.
Sometimes you encounter weird doors where the dungeon gets deformed so that a room from the previous or the next dungeon appears there instead of the actual one. That way you sometimes come into a dungeon, prepared to fight against enemies with poison, but then encounter enemies from the desert dungeon that you’ve never seen before since the Desert Dungeon is still locked up when you’re only getting used to the Forest Dungeon.

Even the back of the shop is full of small details like this mirror! Lovely!

More features!

An interesting feature in the game is also the time spent in the dungeon. To combat the player sleeping in the dungeon (that’s a joke, you may laugh. You can’t sleep in the dungeon, duh.) after a while the “watcher” as I call him spawns, an invulnerable monster that chases you around the dungeon and kills you if you don’t kite around it. You either have to return to town early or get to the next floor. Just don’t spend too much time on one floor and you’re safe. This kind of reminded me of that little gimmick of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon where a mysterious force would come near you if you’d take too long to find your way to the next floor. If you’d wait long enough, it would instantly kill you while you’re not even getting a glimpse of it. I once tried to fight the watcher in Moonlighter and, well,… I died. It just doesn’t work. So, don’t take your sweet time.

Every dungeon is procedurally generated, meaning that there’re the same tilesets for each “run” available but the combination of those is “random”. There’re all kinds of rooms featuring monsters, chests and even timed chests that are sinking into the ground until you defeat all monsters in the room, meaning that you may lose the items that chest contained if you’re not fast enough.

On top of that, there’re also rooms with secrets like a wave-mode where you can unlock better loot at the risk of losing it all while fighting against those waves. There’s also boring secret rooms with loot laying around at the ground or rather useful ones with an open chest that sends your items to town once.

A successful haul! A full inventory of items, 4 chests looted and 71 enemies slayn! Nice!

The latter is my favourite secret since inventory management is key in Moonlighter. Your haul determines how much money you earn so you can’t just take everything, especially since your inventory space is limited to only 20 spaces, divided into four rows with five spaces each. If you die in the dungeon, the first row is kept while the last three rows are lost. Some items stack to up to 10 items while others only stack once or up to five.

There’re also curses that do all kinds of things like breaking the curses item if you take too many hits or destroying the item to the upper left corner once you return home. This means that you need to move items around in your inventory so that some items are in certain spots where they don’t hurt your profit.

Some other curses transform other items into the cursed item on return while others cause the item to be only placed at the vertical or horizontal edge of your inventory. Mechanics like these make the inventory management here unique and special, which I really like! The problem, however, is that while there is a sort-function it doesn’t automatically stack stackables items. Sometimes I encounter items that can be stacked up to five that are split into two slots which I manually have to stack together which is kind of annoying, especially since you may as well overlook those and, in the end, make less profit.

In your inventory, you also have three other options of dealing with full inventories that are unlocked over time. The first you unlock is your merchant’s Pendle that teleports you back to the hometown for a small price. The second you unlock is a portal that eats items in your inventory (either drag items into it or drag the portal to the items you want to destroy), giving you some money for those items. However, you always would make more money when selling those items in the store, but this is kind of like a safety net in case you do not have enough money to teleport back home.

After a little fight at this dead-end, I ended up quite low and nearly lost quite a lot of items! So, I better quit for now but since I’m on my way to the boss, I’ll use the pricey portal instead of the pendant, so that I can come back after restocking on potions and healing up!

And then there’s the last option to open a portal to home that you can re-enter to gain access to the dungeon at the last point you entered. This is especially useful for when you found the final boss door but you’re low on potions and have used up your inventory space and shields and stuff. This option is quite pricey, so I only used it when I was at the entrance of the guardian since everything else would mean losing income for some loot that is probably less valuable.

While in the dungeon, you have to face different “normal” enemies while exploring the rooms until you find the door that leads to the next floor. The door to the next floor, however, is protected by the “guard” who’s basically a mini-boss. Once you defeat him, you get to go to the next floor which yields better items but also has more dangerous enemies and another guard who’s “corrupted” and therefore stronger with a slightly different attack pattern. On the third floor, there’s the “guardian” at the end of it – it’s basically the boss. Each guardian can only be defeated once and has a key for the fifth door, meaning that you need to kill all four to unlock that one and proceed with the story. After defeating the guardian of the Golem Dungeon, you’re free to go to the Forest Dungeon. After that one comes the Desert Dungeon and after that one there’s the Tech Dungeon. It’s a known concept that you see in all kinds of games like Pokémon or Zelda – before you can go to the next temple/gym, you’ve got to defeat the one before that. It’s simple, but works.

The Golem King! The first guardian that you’ll have to defeat!

Combat

The combat feels fluid for the most part. The devs of Moonlighter recommend playing with the controller but apparently the keyboard also works. I actually only tested the keyboard just a few minutes ago and while it certainly works, I didn’t really like it. In combat, you use your X-button for the heavy attack, the A-button for the normal attack. Holding B teleports you back to town while pressing Y opens your inventory. With the right trigger, you’re able to chug potions that you’ve equipped prior the fight, while you role with the left trigger, making you able to jump over cliffs, dodging projectiles and attacks while also travelling a small distance.

With the left shoulder button, you’re able to swap between weapons, as you can equip two sets of weapons. My favourite weapon so far was the bow and the gloves. The gloves have a three-attack-combo which is quite cool to use, while the bow is able to hit enemies from across the room. I really liked that combo but also enjoyed playing with the great sword and the spear. While the shortswords are handy they didn’t really appeal to me since the blocking doesn’t really work against AoE-attacks and since you also need to time the block quite well which I just couldn’t be arsed to practice. Meanwhile, the gloves have fast attacks and a three-attack-combo while with the spear you’re able to pierce and charge through enemies. The greatsword is slow but has a big horizontal range which is quite fun to play with.
Sometimes I got frustrated because of enemies’ hitboxes being unclear to me, e.g. when they were flying or when they were standing in front of me but only a pixel or something to the side which resulted in them being able to hit me but me missing, but, after some practice, I also got the hang out of those hitboxes.

You can’t let your guard down – even in the shop! Sometimes there’s thiefs trying to run off with some of your merchandise. Hop onto them and get your artefacts back!

Another way to make your explorations easy is by upgrading your shop since you’re getting a better bed that gives you some bonus-health (or rather a shield) as well as three free hits on every dungeon-run. On top of that, you can also get a familiar that comes with you on your runs and either collects items or attacks enemies for you. Currently, there are nine familiars to acquire that all come with different perks like boosting your damage, converting enemies into potions or even a mimic that attacks enemies and is able to carry some items as well!

Presentation

As for the art, this game is absolutely lovely. The animations and the pixel art style are really cute and overall nice to look at. The music that was composed by David Fenn creates the perfect atmosphere for the game.

While in the dungeon, it sets up a great mood for the Dungeoncrawling-aspects. Every dungeon track is unique and tailored to that dungeon’s theme. Some of the game’s music is a variation of the game’s title screen song, like “Naja” which can be heard in the Desert Dungeon, which I found quite neat as a detail.
While in the town and in the shop, the music is really relaxed and nice to listen to it’s not elevator-music-ish. The town music also reminds me of the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Soundtrack which I found quite cool, but that may be the nostalgia speaking.

Replay-Value?

While the combat feels fluid and while the boss fights are unique, the shop system is really cool and sets you up with hours upon hours of fun. I guess there’s not much replay value to the game right now but there may be some added quite soon. After around 20 hours I’ve been through quite a lot of stuff but haven’t finished everything, yet.
Later on, for example, you’ll have to grind some items and some gold for some of your weapons, especially if you’re out for all 67 of Moonlighter’s steam achievements! And if you don’t like grinding all that much, you can just stick to your weapon of choice and just get that one. The game doesn’t require you to enchant and upgrade every weapon and armour-piece and you can generally finish the game with every weapon – even the broom!

I wonder what kind of monstrosity hides under this blanket!

Once you’re done with those achievements, you can try out the game in the “very hard”-difficulty if you’re up for a challenge and still in need for something else, although the game’s recommended difficulty is “Hard” while the “Normal difficulty” could be considered easy.
I don’t really understand why they went for normal, hard and very hard instead of some other names there, but it works for me since you always (apart from when you’re in the dungeon) have the chance to change the difficulty to something higher or lower.

Once you’ve beaten the game, you unlock the New Game+ mode where costs and prices are about five times higher and where you can get new weapons and amulets that are exclusive to that mode. On top of that, nothing else really changes which seems like a bummer to me since some sort of boss-rush-mode or something like that might have been quite cool.
Another thing I would have loved would be to be able to play more afterwards with new content in the same campaign but while you certainly can play more, there’s not really much to do afterwards.

Ready for an adventure?

Conclusion

All in all, I’d say that this is a great game and I’d really recommend it to fans of Dungeon Crawlers, RPGs and games like Recettear where you own a shop and go on adventures and stuff. Moonlighter is a lovely game with quite a lot of content and while the new game+ mode doesn’t really seem to add anything to the game apart from new equipment, the new DLC “Between Dimensions” adds all kinds of new content, which I’m really excited for and which I’ll be covering in another post soon! The game is available for PC, Nintendo Switch, XBO One, Play Station 4 and other major platforms — as well as in retail with both standard edition and limited Signature Edition

Anyways, cheers!

Note: At this point in time (July, 19th), I’ve played the game for 26 hours, not including offline-playtime. I played through the main story, checked out New Game+ for a bit and also tried to play as much of every aspect of the game.
I bought this game myself and didn’t receive any compensation by the devs or publishers.

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