2020 hasn’t been that bad EA-wise

2020 wasn’t that bad when it comes to indie titles that left EA. While the world is going to shits, the gaming industry pumped out a fair few titles. Hence I thought I should maybe write a piece about a few of the games that reached their 1.0 his year and that I really enjoyed playing for th past couple of months.

For starters, Hades just recently got out of Early Access and its 1.0 launched, introducing an actual ending, new music, artwork, late-game unlockables, a new aspect for the twin fists and a lot of other stuff. Honestly, the last time I played Hades was in March after some update but I forgot which one it was and there have been a few bigger updates between then already. Hence, I’ve got to visit Hades again to leave Hell for good… again. Especially since achievements seem to only now have been introduced, I can’t wait to unlock more stuff. The new weapons seem really cool and the addition of Hermes and Nyx seem quite interesting, although my sources are just hearsay at this point. I just updated it and I have yet to play it, though I may do that some time this week.

Hades is one of those titles that seemingly did everything well. It’s a fun and fast-paced action-rogue-lite with nice progression, some interesting customizable parts and items that you can change each run and on top of that it’s depicting mythology more or less accurately which I really adore. The characters in the game are fun, each with their own stories and quirks and perks. The music is just awesome… but personally, I don’t like the aspect of traversing the same “biomes” over and over again, so that’s something that I don’t like about Hades, although I know that it’s hard to change that since we’re in Hell, after all, right? The switching bosses, though, with their own lines and everything are really nice and the favour system? A ton of fun to play around!

Just a while ago, on August 4th, Littlewood also got out of Early Access, adding a whole bunch of new events, new characters, new special moments, and other features and I’m quite glad about that. I started playing Littlewood not too long after it got released into Early Access and I was done with all the content after a few hours, so I decided to wait for more updates… and then August came and I spend an awful long time in this game.

The problem I have with Littlewood is that time moves a lot faster outside than inside. Just like with Stardew Valley, I ended up binging it a whole bunch for a while before eventually just not bothering with it anymore since I didn’t have the time for it just yet. Don’t get me wrong: I enjoy Littlewood and Stardew Valley to bits… but then RL stops by and you just never really feel like playing it again until you start it up, binge it for six hours, and then close it again for another few days to weeks. Oh well.

And at last, my favourite title to leave EA this year is probably Risk of Rain 2, whose 1.0 dropped on August 11th, 2020. The 1.0 added a whole new boss enemy, some new mechanics, a new survivor, and an actual ending, which I find really nice. For the past couple of days, I’ve been playing a lot of RoR2, especially as I’ve discovered a few neat builds that I do enjoy playing a bunch and especially as I unlocked some more character perks and the latest survivor, the Captain!

I’m looking forward to the updates are to come in the future, but overall, RoR2 did really develop quite nicely, from a game where the teleporter was hard to find in the swamp area and where some bosses would just oneshot you (rip magma worm) and where fire was super op… to a game where can still get oneshot (ugh, void reavers) but it got balanced quite a bit and it’s essentially a ton of fun. Right now, I’m trying to unlock all of the artifacts on top of some of the items that I’m missing… and then I’ll attempt to get some Monsoon runs going before eventually heading into the new alternative mode: Eclipse!

Either way, that’s it for today’s post. I probably forgot some other titles that came out of EA this year but these few were quite memmorable and I did look forward to their release. An honourable mention would be Factorio but I didn’t play that game at all, yet, and I’m not sure if I’ll ever get into it at all… and then there’s also Terraria 1.4, although that one wouldn’t fit the theme, would it? I mean, it’s not a 1.0 but it was as hyped up as an actual new release.

Cheers!

Risk of Rain 2 – Revisited

A while ago, I’ve reviewed Risk of Rain 2 and had a blast, but since it got updated a ton over the course of more than a year now, I wanted to write about it again and… well… I recently got back into it again and had a blast, again. So, strap on for today’s entry in the “Revisited” series, where I post about Risk of Rain 2, a Third-Person Rogue-like Action Shooter by Hopoo Games who are also responsible for Deadbolt and Risk of Rain 1!

Let’s begin with the obvious: What are the biggest changes in the game?

Well, not only were there new items and characters added to the game… but also a ton of new features. By completing certain challenges, you can unlock new abilities for your characters and customize their loadout. Just yesterday I unlocked the ability to Surge into the Air and fly forever with the Artificer at the cost of losing his laser-beam. I also unlocked a few other abilities for my other characters like all the different weapons for MUL-T.

Oooh, what’s this?

On top of that, I’m only missing Acrid now, who we already know from the first game, before I’ve got all characters. There’s been plenty from the first game, which I found quite nostalgic, like the Huntress, MUL-T, the Commando, the Loader, the Engineer, the Mercenary, and Acrid. But Hopoo also added completely new characters like the Artificer who resembles more of a mage from the future of sorts as he shoots out fiery and electric projectiles and flies through the air, freezing enemies with walls of ice and doing all kinds of other cool stuff. There’s also REX who is an interesting character who has incredible healing capabilities but also uses some abilities that cost life as a resource!

My favourite survivors to play as are Rex, MUL-T and the Artificer, so far, but I have yet to play more of the Engineer, the Mercenary and the Loader. The Commando is quite basic, which is not a weakness but more of a strength, I’d say. The Huntress is a lot of fun with the right items! But personally, I just love the fantasy around the Artificer and Rex as well as the whole theme that our robotic survivor has with his MUL-T-ple equipment slots and different primary attacks. They all are played differently, which I find really enjoyable and overall, I’m excited to test out the other characters and unlock some broken combos!

I still love the Scorched Acres!

Hopoo is also working on yet another completely new character who should come out soon, so I’m rather excited about that one, especially since I got back into the game again now and since I’m unlocking all kinds of stuff now, too.

So, skill-load-outs (Skills 2.0) and unlocks (survivors, stages) aside, there’s also been the artefact-feature added to the game, just like in the first game that allows you to increase the difficulty by a lot again. So far I’ve only played with a few so far but they really do make the game more interesting. There are some new ones in the second games, like on an artefact that enables friendly fire for everyone or another one that kills everyone when one player dies, but also other ones that we already know from the first game like Command (Choose your items) and Glass (Deal 500% damage but have 10% health). So far I’ve only played around with Swarms (Monster spawns doubled, monster health halved), Vengeance (every 10 minutes your relentless doppelganger invades and tries to kill you), Sacrifice (Monsters drop items on death (chance) but chests no longer spawn), and Glass… and it’s been a lot of fun.

Secret area? Nice!

What I’ve noticed is that there’s a lot of stuff that I don’t quite understand just yet. For instance, to unlock the artefacts there is a hidden boss in the sky meadows that you need to fight but I couldn’t quite figure out how to actually fight him in my last run… so I’ll have to try that again. On top of that, there are a bunch of secret realms that got added to the game that you can access through a few of the new areas, as well as an ending of sorts.

You now have the option of looping past the last stage back to the first stage, and every three levels after the first loop, you’ll be able to catch the Celestial Portal that teleports you to “A Moment, Fractured” where you find the Obelisk that allows you to obliterate yourself from existence and end the run, unlocking a new character as well as a skin for your survivor. If you have the Beads of Fealty, you can also access a different alternative ending Hidden Realm, “A Moment, Whole”.

Nice to see you here, too! The Titan Boss from the first game! 🙂

So, the game is coming along quite nicely and I’m excited about the new skills, items, stages, enemies and the new survivor! I still really like Risk of Rain 2 and definitely think that it’s worth checking out! I’ll probably stream runs of it tomorrow and can’t wait to unlock more stuff, including Acrid.

Well, that’s it for today’s post. I hope you enjoyed this one! Be sure to check out Risk of Rain 2 on Steam and tell me about your experiences with it if you had any so far 🙂

Cheers!

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

I hate timers

I like the Zelda games but I never really got into Majora’s Mask… I mean, I guess I should like it – after all, it’s literally a darker version of Ocarina of Time and it has some great elements to it both presentation-wise and gameplay-wise.

But I guess the main reason for why I didn’t like Majora’s Mask was the fact that it had this giant creepy moon – and also a mega doom timer that was ticking down, constantly pressuring you. I didn’t like the concept back then and a lot later I noticed that you can actually reset the timer with a certain song but I still never got back into it and uh…. that brings us to today’s post:

Photo by Jordan Benton on Pexels.com

I hate timers.

Timers stress me out. They put me under pressure, just like the clock ticking down on me during an exam. In video games, there are timers that are actually well-made, like in Risk of Rain, for instance.

In Risk of Rain, the game gets harder the longer you play/the longer it takes you to finish the game.

Hence, you’ve got challenges associated with the timer and it’s also not a timer ticking down. Instead, you’ve got a game that rewards you with increasingly intense combat and tougher enemies so that it doesn’t get boring for you. To beat the game, you need skill (and the items) but also need to survive. You’ll lose if you die. Not if the timer reaches “HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA” difficulty. The timer doesn’t lose you the game. You do. The game is fair and I like that.

A timer indicating how much time you have left to clear a game is bad game design, in my opinion. It puts people under pressure which is usually bad when you try to relax. And sure, people play games for different reasons but I doubt that a lot of players enjoy the “ticking time bomb” character that some decks, characters or games have. When you play League of Legends and you’re playing against a Veigar, you eventually will have to face off against the Veigar with 2000 to 4000 AP who can one-shot towers with one normal attack and who one-shots your whole team with one W or a Q. Deleted with a button press.

Same goes naturally for the Bomb Warrior in Hearthstone or the Teemo Decks in Legends of Runeterra where you face off against someone who just holds out and stalls the game for forty minutes straight while you draw one bomb after another, reducing your life by drawing cards… yup. Very nice game design.

I don’t like that. If you have a section where you need to defeat enemies in a certain time-frame to get a reward, that’s a bit better, I guess… but having the “You’re fucked when this timer reaches 0”-character as a game mechanic for the whole game is just major bullshit – Pardon my English.

Either way, I hope that you don’t have the doom clock ticking over your head and that you instead have a pleasant day.

Cheers!

I hate contact damage

There have been a few hedgehogs, freezing in winter. They were sitting in a cave around a campfire but it wasn’t warming them enough, just yet, so they ended up getting cuddly and hurting each other, hence pushing each other back.

Now, while that makes a lot of sense in this kind of fable… because of hedgehogs having spikes or needles… it doesn’t make any sense in a lot of games. And that’s what this post is about.

So, ever since I started playing games, I was wondering why you’d take damage when you’re only bumping into other enemies. After all, they should be hurt if you bump into them. But since they don’t get hurt, you naturally shouldn’t get hurt by them either unless they run into you with a knife and legitimately stab you. After all, getting stabbed hurts – trust me, I’ve been there, although it’s only been my hand that took contact damage from my knife.

In games like Mario, there are enemies with spikes on their head, so that bumping into them actually would make sense, I guess? Meanwhile touching somebody in Hollow Knight or Dead Cells, hurts you, too, and that despite Hollow Knight’s enemies’ squishiness or the rotten nature of the corpses and stuff in Dead Cells.

I guess it kind of makes sense to have a Goomba hurt you in Mario as naturally his only way of attacking is the actual charge and bump he does but that’s no excuse for all the other enemies that are out there, shooting projectiles and bolts at you. They’ve got their means to attack you, so why do they hurt when you hug them?

To put Mario aside, I’d guess that the damage on contact mechanic was there in the first place for a lot of older games because of technological restraints (as in not being able to animate a stabby attack for every enemy). But nowadays there’re so many ways of damaging you… you don’t really have the technological limitations that you had back in the day and therefore, I wouldn’t know why something would hurt you upon touching you unless it’s on fire and/or covered in spikes.

In Risk of Rain (which very much is a platformer, I guess?), enemies attack you and have their own animations to do so. Running or dodging past them doesn’t hurt you. You just do your thing while they actually try to kill you. Not by just running at ya but by actually shooting, biting, stomping, and jumping you.

And the same goes for Risk of Rain 2: You are in a 3D environment with so much going on that you aren’t able to care about your character getting damaged by enemies hugging you. A lot of 3D games don’t have contact damage, although I remember the first Blinx game (you know that game about time-travelling cats with vacuums fighting monsters by shooting trash at them?) being programmed in a way that allowed enemies to move towards you and cause you to lose a life, which was just obnoxious.

If I remember correctly, you were able to turn on a challenge of sorts in Bastion where you got damage on contact from enemies. Despite them already hurting you with their attacks and despite the game being so challenging, you could already make it a lot harder by having the enemies hurt you by just touching you. The next step from that would be damage on sight, although that’s probably a thing already in some game. Who knows?

And yeah, I know, complaining about games is like yelling at clouds or fighting windmills. I won’t achieve anything by doing it, but I guess I still have my right to complain about it being a thing without an excuse for it being a thing. It’s just another unreasonable thing to do when there’s so much else to complain about in the world, but I thought it’d be a nice writing prompt. I don’t really think that games should have anything like that. 3D games generally need some reason or animation to explain how something hurts you upon contact while 2D games quite often do it because of limitations, although even that doesn’t make sense – especially when these enemies have attack patterns already.

But I guess that’s enough about this topic for today. Cheers!

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

Indietail – Risk of Rain 2

A while ago I reviewed Hopoo Games’ Risk of Rain 1 and it’s to-date one of my favourite games. It’s a lovely Indie-Action-Roguelike-title with a very nice combat system, a wonderful soundtrack and a timer that is increasing the difficulty the longer you take to complete the game. Hopoo Games released Risk of Rain 1 in 2013 and then announced that I wanted to develop a second game that would take place in the third dimension! A whole new game that would play like a third-person-shooter but still remain true to its core-values that made RoR1 a RoR-game. And well…. since March 2019 it’s Hopoo’s time to shine as Risk of Rain 2 released in Early Access and as tons of people discovered it for themselves, gave feedback on the discord-server, streamed it, made videos on it and wrote about it.

The Warbanner is, still, one of my favourite items! Here it provides us with a buff in this globe around it, upon level up!

But how do I like Risk of Rain 2 and do I recommend it? Let’s find out!

Note: In this review, I will be comparing the second game to the first game quite often, so I recommend checking it out over here. Of course I’ll review the game as usual in different aspects, so there’s going to be a lot of reviewing on parts that are new or that make RoR2 unique, so enjoy this review. 🙂

Developer: Hopoo Games
Publisher: Gearbox Publishing
Genres: Action, Adventure, Rogue-like, Indie, Third Person Shooter,
Release Date: March 28, 2019
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC, XBOX One, PS4, Switch
Copy was purchased.

For anyone who doesn’t know about the Risk of Rain games (I suppose, it’s a franchise now), you essentially spawn on a foreign planet and fight off monsters while searching for a teleporter to get to the next area. Fighting enemies grants you experience (that levels you up, increasing your stats) and gold. Gold can then be used to open up chests and receive items that grant you all kinds of special perks from stat-increases (like attack speed or move speed up) to game-changing elements (like poison damage or exploding enemies).

When you find the teleporter, you activate it to spawn the last waves of enemies and to spawn the boss who you then have to defeat to get rewarded with yet another item and to proceed to the next level. Dying never felt unfair and there were a ton of possibilities of item-combinations to make you super overpowered and it’s really great!

While Risk of Rain 1 better when using the gamepad/controller, due to its platforming-nature, Risk of Rain 2 plays better using the mouse and keyboard since it requires a lot of aiming. Don’t get me wrong, gamepad-controls still work quite well, but I’m better at aiming, using a mouse. Controls are rather smooth, you’ve still got your shooting ability, second ability and ultimate, as well as some sort of mobility-ability. You can remap the keybindings but I found the standard ones to work out just fine. There’s also a whole new sprint-button and as I’m not used to that being a thing, I forget about that button more often than not.

The aforementioned sprint-button is very convenient since the new levels are massive!

Being procedurally generated, they offer a lot to see with different biomes and different enemies depending on what level you are at. The chests and the teleporter are also located on different spots, so you always have to find them. I really enjoyed the wide areas and the feeling you have when you’re standing up close to the bosses. You’re just tiny compared to it all!

INTO THE ABYSS

Speaking of bosses, we can find a lot of RoR1’s enemies and bosses in the game as well.

From the Whisps to the Lemurians and Stone Golems (on the enemy-front) to the Magma Worm, the Wandering Vagrant, the Imp Overlord, the Scavenger, and the Stone Titan (on the boss front). These still have similar patterns to Risk of Rain 1 but since we’re playing in the third-person-view a lot of their attacks are wide ones with great areas of attacks and different moves. There are also new bosses like the Clay Dunestrider, the Beetle Queen, the Alloy Warship Unit and, one of my favourites, the Grovetender.

These new bosses either spawn enemies or pull you in, some have chain attacks while others have special conditions that need to be met before they can spawn. It surely is really interesting to see these new bosses in the game while still keeping some old fan-favourites in the game.

A blue portal brings us to a whole new merchant that is able to provide us with new items… for a price!

Hopoo Games changed the boss-mechanic in a way, though. In Risk of Rain 1, once you’ve activated the teleporter, you’d have to defeat the boss and all enemies that have spawned in the next [time based on difficulty] seconds. This “clean up” of sorts was rather annoying but manageable in the first game.

Now, in the second game there’s no such thing as a “clean up”. Once you activate the teleporter, a globe around it is displayed with a red circle in which you need to stand to charge the teleporter up. In that time, enemies keep spawning while the boss (still) is attacking you. Of course, you can leave the area around the teleporter, but it won’t charge in that time and the boss will follow you around. Once it’s charged up completely, you can use the teleporter right away after defeating the boss, resulting in your excess money getting converted into experience points.

I really liked this change as it meant that you’d have to tackle bosses differently and as you couldn’t just wait the event out and then clean up slowly.

Into the next area!

The old enemies along the side of new enemies like the Brass Contraption and the Beetle Guards really make the world feel lively although dangerous.

There’re a lot of new attacks to look out for, coming at you from all sides. Lesser Whisps are rather weak but since they spawn a lot and since they are flying, you need to take care of them rather quickly as they do hurt a lot. And then there are the slow but sturdy Stone Golems who attack with a laser beam but need to charge up slowly after every attack. I really enjoyed this variety and new enemies are being added in every new update.

And then there are new items, too, along side old classics like the Soldier’s Syringe that increases the attackspeed-stat or Paul’s Goathoof that increases movement speed. I really enjoyed seeing these items again while also having new items like Little Discipline (which shoots out whisps from a container) or the Queen’s Gland (which spawns a Beetle Guard on your side that attacks enemies and can block shots for you).

Facing off against the Clay Dunestrider!

Just like in the first game the soundtrack, made by Chris Christodolou again, is awesome!

It’s very Risk-of-Rain-ish and fits the game like a metaphorical glove. It’s very space-y and futuristic while also atmospheric and, although it fits the game, it’s still all new and doesn’t rely too much on the first game’s soundtrack. I really enjoyed it. Along with the all new soundtrack, there is also a new style present in the game. Hopoo Games teamed up with Gearbox Publishing (whose dev studio is behind the Borderlands Games) and created an all-new style for this game. It now uses some sort of cell-shading-style that uses the same colour palette as Risk of Rain 1 and therefore remains true to its original colours but still has a new sort of freshness to it that looks quite rad, to say the least. I really like this new style and while I loved the pixel-artstyle of the first game, I can see how it doesn’t fit the new Third-Person-view and that this style is still fitting it quite well.

My favourite biome, the Scorched Acres! It’s so pretty and warped!

But while I love the Risk of Rain franchise, there certainly are some issues with it.

While Multiplayer has been fixed and is easy to set up, the devs’ fear of the MP overshadowing the SP came true and because of that I kind of feel like it’s not worth playing the game if you can’t play it with friends. Sure, it certainly is challenging and fun while alone… but it’s a lot more fun with friends as you can strategize a lot about who takes what items and how you build your characters.

And the other issue I had with the game was the fact that dying in MP means that you need to wait and spectate while your friends clear the level and venture into the next one. Once you’re there, you have less items than everyone else and therefore may be struggling more, resulting in a bad experience. I would have liked it if you’d spawn in as a “pet whisp” or some sort of enemy and play as that one for the time-being to either screw with your friends or help them beat the level. The current system really hurts the fun that I had with the game. And then there are the characters.

The Imp Overlord is back at it again! Scary!

Also, I found some of the unlock-criterias in the first game better than the new ones. But I guess that’s just a preference-thing. While I’ve unlocked a lot of items and new areas of the game, I think it’s worth mentioning that I have yet to unlock all of the characters, but since Multiplayer is a lot more fun than playing alone, I’ve experienced this weird feeling of not being as motivated to play alone as I was with Risk of Rain 1. I still start up occasionally and play a few runs, sure, but it’s not as frequent as I would have with RoR1, due to the fact that a lot of my friends don’t play it as often anymore. (If you want to play it with me, hit me up!)

And since the maps are so huge, I found it rather hard to keep track of the teleporter. Every biome has a few variants to it and the teleporter can be found in a lot of different locations. Quite often, however, I would have found the teleporter early on but would decide on actually getting more items first and then I’d get lost, resulting in having to find the teleporter again. I’d like it a lot if you could pull out a map (while the game’s not paused) to mark stuff on it or if the waypoints set with the middle-mouse-button were permanent, so that you can permanently mark chests and/or the teleporter. That’d be great.

Dio’s Little Friend (JoJo-Refernece much?) revived us here when the Imp Overlord let us experience his rage! Lucky!

Overall the game has a few flaws but since it’s in Early Access it constantly gets updated with a very dedicated dev team and a community that tries to give as much feedback as possible. The community for this game is great, the new additions to the game have been interesting and didn’t hurt the game’s spirit at all but rather helped it reach new heights! And it’s not finished yet. The journey keeps on going, so there’s more to be expected in the future!

So, I’d give it a recommendation.

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed this review!

Cheers!

Note: Screenshots were taken from one run. As I didn’t want to spoil too much, I only featured these three areas and the blue portal but I can assure you that there’s a lot more to see!