Indietail – Skul: The Hero Slayer

Roguelites can be rather difficult and sometimes even frustrating. At times it’s very important to see what you already and what you still need in terms of specific stats or items. Knowledge is key more often than not and can turn a bad run into a good run. That part specifically is what makes me appreciate roguelikes so much. I really like them. More importantly, it’s important to remain calm and not lose your head… or maybe you need to do exactly that like in Skul: The Hero Slayer!

Developer: SouthPAW Games
Publisher: NEOWIZ
Genre: Action, Roguelite, 2D, Platformer, Indie
Release Date: January 21st, 2021
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC
Copy was purchased.

After the Adventurers joined forces with the Imperial Army and the “Hero of Caerleon”, the Demon King’s castle has fallen. All of the castle’s demons were taken prisoner except for one lone skeleton named “Skul”… So, it’s time for us to step into the role of Skul who’s doing his best to save the Demon King by himself!

BEASTMODE ACTIVATED

Skul is a challenging Action-Roguelite-Platformer that seems to have taken some inspiration from Dead Cells and maybe even Majora’s Mask. Your character may not be the strongest but you can switch out your head throughout your journey and enable yourself to inherit its unique abilities and characteristics. There are 30 different skulls to find throughout your journey, ranging from a fast-hitting and agile thief to a slow archmage to a Dead Cells cameo. Being able to swap skulls on a button press, enables you to change your playstyle on a whim and pick a bone with enemies while covering your weaknesses with different synergies between characters. At the same time, you can enhance your character by acquiring items that on their own also feature unique abilities like dropping a bomb upon swapping or enhancing your physical/magical attack but that also feature synergies in the form of traits. Traits add another layer to builds and strategies in Skul: The Hero Slayer as they can stack and form your build as you move on. You can equip up to nine different weapons and two skulls as well as one equipment piece that you can actively use in combat. The traits you have work in a lot of different ways. The Chase Trait enhances your damage based on the distance to your enemy while the Endure Trait reduces the damage taken. There are also more elaborate traits in the game that summon spirits, magma balls or even increase the damage you take and deal by a percentage, enabling you to really add a lot of synergies and develop incredibly strong runs, which is amazing!

Is that a Naruto-reference? Of course it is!

On another note, you’ll encounter doors to other maps after you complete a map and clear the encounter. Similar to games like Slay The Spire and Curse of the Dead Gods, you can choose where you go and shape your build even more based on what you need. Are you in need of more gold or a new item? Do you want more bones or rather a new character? The doors lead the way. Duh. I like these small additions that on their own may not contribute to a lot but overall give you a lot of freedom as to how your build will shape out and how you want to play the game. There are also special maps like the Bazaar where you can heal up, buy items, get a skull or even other powerful pieces of equipment. There are also mini-bosses in the form of Adventurers that have been hired to deal with you, challenge rooms that can award you with amazing additions to your build but that will also pose a serious threat to you and your run, or even boss encounters where you face off against the Elder Treant or a mad Alchemist. There are five different areas in the game, each with their unique mechanics and enemies. The further you proceed, the more dark quartz and money you’ll earn. Money can be spent in the run itself while Dark Quartz is a permanent currency you use to improve your skull or get a headstart into your run through the power of vendors that you unlock as time goes on.

So many enemies… and only one lone skul.

Skul not only shines through the strategic potential and the challenging yet satisfying combat but also through the Art it uses. Each skull feels unique and looks amazing. The spell effects of your skills range from powerful energy balls and summons to blink and slash effects, and overall also look powerful. That’s something that is just as important to me as gunplay in shooters. If you use a spell and it doesn’t feel as strong as it is, it takes away from the overall experience. In Skul, however, you can summon a giant meteor and feel the impact through the screen as you see your enemies get obliterated. Your slashes feel fast and satisfying. Your stomps feel heavy and strong. Your arrows are alright. I love the art style and the effects and while the music in the game is nothing special, it still adds to the experience, at least a little bit.

UwU it’s a witch and a cute one at that! OwO

But apart from that, there are also a few weaknesses to Skul… For starters, the major bosses you encounter feel nice when you beat them for the first time but they eventually turn into annoying roadblocks instead of actual foes that you need to slay. They still are challenging but I would have liked to see modifiers in the game that make the bosses more challenging or add unique attacks to it, similar to how Hades does it or even Risk of Rain 2. At the same time, I’d like to make another comparison to Hades as that game showed how well story-telling can be done in Roguelites, so it’s kind of bad to see how poorly the (rather obvious) story is executed in Skul. I either would have liked a better story with more interesting dialogue or just no story at all. It’s a bit of a bummer but can’t be helped. 

I look so evil! I love it!

The characters in the game, though, are more than endearing and adorable. There is a shapeshifting witch and an ogre merchant as well as an evil druid that all help you out on your runs. Similarly, you get to free people and get rewarded for it and there are special encounters at times that are challenging but fun. The whole narrative of the bad guys (aka us, the skeletons, demons and the Demon King) actually being the good guys is something I love and adore and I want more of that. It’s nice to see a change of pace. The Pixel Art and Gameplay are amazing and while I would have liked a better story and more variety in the boss fights… and while some of the translation errors bother me at times, I can look past those weaknesses and say proudly that I love Skul: The Hero Slayer and that I can highly recommend it.

Cheers!

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

Indietail – Curse of the Dead Gods

You seek untold riches, eternal life, divine powers and in your attempt to satisfy your greed, you step into an accursed temple only to be trapped in a seemingly infinite labyrinth of bottomless pits, deadly traps, and various monsters. Today we’re taking a look at Curse of the Dead Gods, an isometric rogue-lite game that I’ve been eyeing for quite a while now. On February 23rd, it left Early Access which is why I figured that it was time for a review. Enjoy!

Developer: Passtech Games
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Genre: Action, Roguelite, Isometric, Dark Fantasy, Challenging
Release Date: February 23rd, 2021
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC, Switch, XB1, PS4
Copy was purchased.

Curse of the Dead Gods doesn’t offer you much when it comes to lore. You’re trapped in this temple and you want to get out. Your only way out is the temple itself that is filled to the brim with riches for you to collect and challenges for you to overcome. One misstep, however, can cost you your life and bring you all the way back to the starting point. Death isn’t the end. It’s just the beginning. So, your job is to do your best in these different temples and become stronger by using a variety of resources to unlock new weapons, features and skills for your next runs. The premise is simple, the game itself, however, is quite challenging.

While you start off with 1000 hitpoints, which is a lot compared to other games in the genre, enemies are many and most of them are vicious. Fight your way through waves in each room, dodge traps and utilize your environment in order to survive. As you move through the temple and conquer rooms, you build up corruption. Once corruption reaches 100, you’ll reset the corruption meter and obtain a curse in the next room. Curses are a bit of a double-edged sword. The fifth curse you obtain is the deadliest as it reduces your health every second… the other curses, however, can actually benefit you even when they’re designed to make the game harder for you. I personally really liked this system, especially as it gives incentive to avoiding damage, collecting gold or offering items to the gods to prevent corruption. Once you beat one of the bosses, you’ll be able to collect a weapon, remove a curse and get some riches. Overall, really fun mechanics!

Combat itself can be a bit overwhelming with projectiles flying at you while you’re dodging traps and lighting braziers, etc. You have a torch that illuminates the area and can light things on fire, which is important as you take more damage in the darkness. Meanwhile, you also have a combination of two single-handed weapons that you can use to chain attacks together and finish off enemies. During any time of your combos, you can weave in attacks from your main or secondary weapon, allowing for some rather satisfying moments and a nice skill-ceiling. Performing finishers and killing things quickly, awards you with so-called “greed kills” and more gold. While, obviously, riskier it’s also more rewarding to go for those as you need gold later on down the line. And then there’s also heavy/two-handed weapons that require stamina upon usage but hit rather hard. While Stamina recovers rather fast, it’s a bit tricky to not get hit for a while and know when you’re able to take a quick break in order to regain it.

Curse of the Dead Gods provides you with a map of sorts that enables you to choose your own path through the temples in a Slay The Spire like fashion. There are special rooms and guaranteed rewards at the end of them, allowing you to choose your own adventure, in a way. Do you want to go for more gold or maybe a new weapon? Do you want more relics to enhance your build or would you rather like to get a weapon upgrade instead? The choice is yours, which feels amazing and adds a bit of a strategic layer to the game.

Your build, your choices, your relics, your weapons – everything can be customised to your needs if you find the right items. Relics can be switched out for new effects and better properties that work better with your choice of weapon. At times, I had very bad runs but opted in for the two-handed hammer I was wielding, specialising into relics and stats that worked well with it… and I actually really liked the feel of it, despite me enjoying swift attacks more than heavy hitters.

The magic of Curse of the Dead Gods is that you can turn every run around. You get a bad run with weapons you don’t like that much? You can still win it and end up creating an amazing synergy of sorts that you wouldn’t have expected in the first place or you switch it up later through weapon or relic drops from enemies. I feel like there’s less RNG involved in Curse of the Dead Gods compared to other games. You know what bosses you’ll face and it’s mostly based on your skill.

While the gameplay-side of things is great and all, I would have loved to see at least a bit of lore. Maybe it’ll get added later on down the line, but honestly, I doubt it. The game is very stylised and the music sounds amazing. The temples have at times areas that feel very mystical and mesmerising to the point where I would have loved to read more about the world than just the Bestiary… so that’s a bit of a bummer…

But overall, it’s really enjoyable. It’s fun to get into, has a high skill-ceiling and can provide a lot of enjoyment for bursts of play sessions… I guess another concern for me would be that there isn’t really an end-game since you don’t have a story apart from wanting to get out. You do have challenges and a hard mode in the game as well as a bunch of achievements, unlockables, and even event dungeons and mixed temples… but the end-game may just very much be about challenging yourself rather than beating a story or something, which may be a downside for some people.

Anyways, I personally enjoyed Curse of the Dead Gods a lot. I could recommend this to anyone who’s looking for a bit of fun and a bit of a challenge. Fans of games like Hades or Dead Cells will probably enjoy combat a lot in this game… but the lack of a story can be a bit of a turn-off for a lot of people, so don’t expect any of that.

Cheers!

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

Roguelikes and Burning Out

I love playing Roguelikes and Roguelites. I like the challenge and the strategic/tactical element of it and how different weapons, skills and items can synergise in unexpected ways. I love how I can play Curse of the Dead Gods and have a very bad run that forces me to use heavy weapons all of a sudden… and it works… and it feels good… and suddenly, I’m more comfortable with taking heavy weapons and focusing builds around those… and I like new and innovative concepts that developers come up with in the genre, allowing players to enjoy new iterations of the same gameplay-formula without the risk of potentially not enjoying it.

But at the same time, Roguelikes and Roguelites (to make it easier for myself, I’ll use “Roguelikes” for both of the terms from now on) end up being quite challenging and sometimes even frustrating. Getting a bad run or not receiving the upgrades, stats or resources you wanted is… unfortunate… luck is a big factor in these games after all… and that can lead to frustration building up to the point where I get tired of it.

It’s a bit of a bad habit of mine to play a roguelike for a lot of hours to the point of burning out from it, only to quit playing for a while and to only pick it up later. Remember that post I did on 100%ing Risk of Rain 2? Well,… I’m half-way done with the next post but I’m just not getting the right seeds for my runs to get some of the achievements, which is… unfortunate.

And Curse of the Dead Gods is amazing but after a run or two, I need a break and play something else. Similarly, I’ll play Loop Hero for maybe an hour or two in a row before eventually deciding to switch things up.

The problem is that you’re not guaranteed any good runs. Rarely do you ever have mechanics in place that allow you to have a guaranteed great start. The Binding of Isaac has some mechanics like that in place… but it doesn’t help a lot when you don’t get the damage you need and end up dying because it takes you too long to kill something… or you’re just way too slow in Risk of Rain and die because you can’t dodge fast enough or manoeuvre fast enough around the map.

But while this may sound dooming,… I feel as if it’s fine. It’s fine to take a break from games and to come back later… and with Roguelikes, I tend to come back more often than with other games. I can play a lot of Hades for hours only to then take a break from it for another two weeks. I love taking breaks and coming back with a fresh mind. Sometimes I crave that Isaac run. Sometimes I crave another expedition in Loop Hero. Sometimes I want to Enter the Gungeon again or to climb the Nuclear Throne. Sometimes I just feel like spinning for more coins in Luck be a Landlord or I want to bring out the big guns in Risk of Rain 2. Sometimes, I want to be evil in Despotism 3k and punish humans… or I want to throw poison daggers in Slay The Spire… or I try to understand Heroes of Hammerwatch and Noita.

I could go on and on about frustrating mechanics in challenging games or I could just take a break and come back to them when I feel like it… and that’s the magic of Roguelikes. It’s kind of for that reason that my dynamic collection of “Roguelikes” on Steam features about 79 entries that all are amazing… well, most of them are.

And I figured I’d share that. Take breaks. Go for a stretch. Get something to eat/drink. Come back to a game later before the frustration and the salt ruins it for you. You can do it, I believe in you! And I encourage breaks. Breaks are important. Burning out is fine… just come back later.

Note: The featured image for this post is the same one as one that I used in a previous post… I figured I could use that one again because the games depicted in it were quite fitting this time as well. Celeste isn’t a roguelike but I also burn out from that game… so,… that’s why… Don’t hold that against me, thanks.

Cheers!

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

Indietail – Loop Hero

The Lich has thrown the world into a timeless loop and plunged its inhabitants into never-ending chaos. This time around it wasn’t me, though, as I stumbled across this game during the last Steam Game Festival and got hooked to its simple yet satisfying premise and truly addictive game loop. (Get it?) Today, we’re taking a look at Four Quarters’ Loop Hero.

Developer: Four Quarters
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Genre: RPG, Strategy, Roguelite, Card Game, Idle Game (ish?)
Release Date: March 4th, 2021
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC
Copy was purchased.

Loop Hero starts by having the protagonist of the game walk away from an amnesia-like haze. The world is plunging into chaos and darkness as the Lich or potentially something bigger than him is destroying the world over and over again. But you have the power! You remember! You walk into the world and can reconstruct it using different tiles and equipment pieces to get stronger and shape the world. You don’t control the game, however, as the game controls you.

Your character walks down a fixed path and battles against monsters that spawn every few days. You can pause the game or speed it up a little bit but there isn’t much for you to do… until you beat some slimes up. Monsters either drop card tiles or items. Items buff up your stats and increase your chances of survival in this hamster wheel of an idle-ish RPG while tiles can be placed to restore the world. Mountains and rocks buff up your HP when placed next to each other. Groves will give you sticks when you walk through them but spawn ratwolves every few days. Villages heal you and grant you quests while battlefields give you a chest or mimic to fight at the start of every loop, rewarding you with items, but may also turn nearby enemies into Ghosts. There are various interactions between different tiles, creating new tiles and allowing you to strategise about how you want to rebuild the world. Placing down nine rocks or mountain tiles in a 3×3 shape will turn into a big mountain which also buffs you up furthermore with more HP but may spawn Harpies on nearby tiles. Meanwhile, other tiles can create interesting synergies, like Vampire Mansions that ransack villages and turn them into the count’s lands after three loops. It’s an interesting loop of fighting, levelling, equipping and placing before you fight again, but a lot of things are out of your control.

At any point during the loop, you can decide to return to the camp that somehow still prevails. If you continue onwards, you risk dying to the enemies that get stronger with every loop… and you may lose it all, so be wary of that fact! But speaking of the camp,… There is something about you that gives the people there hope, and as you gather resources like metal, rocks and rations, you’re able to upgrade the camp and expand it, unlocking new tiles, features and even new classes, which certainly reinforces the people’s beliefs in you. If you don’t return to the camp and end up dying, you’ll lose a lot of your gathered resources and be forcefully ejected to the camp. The world gets reset and you’ll have to go on an expedition, yet again, to rebuild the world slowly.

By placing down more and more tiles, you’ll fill up the world completion meter. Completing that will summon the boss to your camp. Each boss plays differently and can be rather challenging. The Lich’s health pool is bound to different temples near the camp, for instance, that can be removed with Oblivion cards while other bosses utilise other interesting mechanics that make every chapter more interesting than the one before it. Once you’ve reached the boss stage of the game, you complete your final loop and are graced with an amazing soundtrack created by blinch, one of the developers. The soundtrack is amazing and I linked one of the pieces above. The combination of the rather detailed pixel-art style that is a throwback to old retro titles and the chiptune-y and classically 8-bit tunes is amazing and works really well for the game… but more than anything, Loop Hero’s soundtrack gets me hyped up. It’s unique and fun and amazing and I love it to bits. 

I truly love these interactions between cards and characters that suddenly emerge from the tiles. You encounter vampires, harpies, and bandits, and your character talks to all of them, triggering interesting voice lines, even with bosses. Loop Hero may fall into the idle game (ish) genre but adds its own twist to the formula and seems unique. Loop Hero has personality, which is something I really like.

And once you’ve built the different camp buildings needed for those, you can play as a Rogue or a Necromancer even. These come with different stats and mechanics. The Rogue, for instance, can only get items by exchanging trophies at the camp upon entering a new loop, which makes him quite hard early on but rather satisfying to play as once you get those fast attacks and big crits in. My favourite class, however, is the Necromancer (I may be biased) as you let your little skeletons tank and hit for you and turn the battle into a battle of atrocity. Will you be able to summon enough to deal with your foes or will they target you and end you before your army is up and running. Stats like “magic HP”, which is an over-health shield that protects the Necromancer at the start of every battle, or the Summon Quality, which dictates special skeletons’ summon rate, become rather interesting to play with. The Loot in general is very fun to play around with as your inventory is constantly fixed to the UI at the right and as all equipment pieces may grant you stats that are more important or less important for you. I kind of felt like I’m in Diablo 3 again where my specific build required more attack speed or higher skeleton levels and I had to wait for that specific drop with a specific roll. It was interesting and fun.

But despite all the praise, there are a few things that I didn’t like. For starters, the game can be sped up to double speed but doesn’t go further than that. I would have liked it if you could maybe speed it up to 4x or even more than that since the first and even second beginning loop can be rather slow after every run. At the same time, the world would have felt more immersive if some weapons, rings, and gear, in general, would have had special RPG-item-names that potentially get randomly rolled. I feel as if that would add a lot of flair to the game…

Other than that, I don’t have any complains really. Loop Hero is an interesting take on the “One Hero has to save them all” kind of RPG where your hero is actually trapped in a hamster wheel. The game can be challenging and unforgiving, like other roguelites, but overall, I enjoyed this one to bits and haven’t seen a game this polished in quite a while. It’s easy to understand, quite accessible and even has options that allow you to make the fonts dyslexia-friendly or to remove the CRT Shader for better visibility. Honestly, more developers should do add little features like this to their games in 2021!

Edit: As Naithin pointed out in a comment below, I phrased a sentence in a confusing way that can be interpreted as if every loop brings you closer to the boss. That is not the case. I changed the according passage to get rid of that confusing part and make it more clear. Apart from that, I also removed part of the sentences about the bosses as I figured that it would be more interesting if you saw it for yourself, aka I reduced the spoilers to basically little to nothing here, although it’s nothing big really, I guess.

Cheers!

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

Indietail – Iris and the Giant

While it has been a bit of a taboo to talk about Mental Health publicly in the past, the world is slowly opening up to the destigmatization of these rather important topics, such as Burnout, Anxieties, Depression, and other issues and emotions that humans tend to feel when they aren’t at their best. I think it’s important for the media to tackle these topics head-on and to spread awareness on how to identify them or how to deal with it. What do you do when one of your family members or friends is depressed or is experiencing a panic attack? How can you help them? Questions like these tend to remain unanswered since it’s rather hard to find a universal approach to all individuals’ issues. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to this kind of stuff but by sharing experiences and talking about these things, we actually can understand each other better and potentially help each other out. 

Games are a great medium to do this. By introducing these topics into the world of games, you can make them more approachable and interesting, in a way, while also sharing experiences or letting players experience these situations, thoughts and emotions, even if it’s only a little. Games like Night in the WoodsFlorence, and GRIS, to name a few, are really good at this. They share stories about grief, depression, loss, and other topics, and do so in a way that is more approachable for people that aren’t necessarily experienced in that area. Today’s review is about another title that is doing an amazing job with the destigmatization of Mental Health topics, Iris and the Giant.

Developer: Louis Rigaud 
Publisher: Goblinz Publishing, Maple Whispering Limited, Mugen Creations 
Genre: Roguelite, Strategy, Card Battler, Deckbuilding, Indie 
Release Date: February 27th, 2020 
Reviewed on: PC 
Available on: PC, Switch, Android 
Copy was purchased. 

Iris and the Giant tells the story of a girl named Iris who is struggling with anxieties and depression and who suddenly finds herself on the river Styx, which inside of her mind links the imaginary world and reality. There she has to face her inner demons, fears and sorrows in order to climb a mountain and overcome them.

In its heart, this game is a roguelike deck builder with some CCG and RPG mechanics. It’s an interesting mix with a cute art style and melancholic and crippling topics. Your will is the only thing that is guiding you through this world and thus, it is your lifeline. To protect your will from the demons you’re facing, you’ve got to use a plethora of melee weapons, ranged weapons, shields, heals, and spells in turn-based combat to protect yourself and march forward. The game itself is set up in a bunch of lanes from where enemies and objects come from. Hovering over anything tells you everything you need to know immediately and due to the turn-based nature of the game, you’ve got all the time in the world to overthink your strategy and the potential next move. Your deck can be customised along the journey by adding cards and upgrades as you move on. If you end up dying, you can start a new run with the new cards you unlocked, the skills you selected, and imaginary friends that function as a handicap.

What I really like about Iris and the Giant is the customization aspect of the decks and runs. You can opt-in for a lot of different builds and use the skills that you unlock along the way to further specialise in different aspects. What cards do you want to see more of? The choice is yours to make, no matter what you do and whether or not you decide to rely on these “memories” or to go in completely naked! In a way, it is very intuitive and beginner-friendly but then it also has a big learning curve and some real challenge to it, which is to be expected.

It’s a roguelike after all, so it is supposed to be challenging. While the tutorial actually explains a lot of things rather well, it took me ages to fully grasp everything. The game’s principle is easy to understand but hard to master and offers a lot of skill expression, in a way. 

The demons you’re fighting represent fears and issues that Iris has and struggles with and are inspired by creatures from Greek mythology, which is really cool. The story is told through the eyes of Iris in a rather sophisticated way, which is quite nice to see. I don’t think you’d expect a game that looks this cute to talk about some heavier topics so eloquently while portraying inner demons as actual enemies that you need to battle. The story is melancholic and grim at first but eventually becomes rather heartwarming and wholesome, which is incredible, and while the issues presented here are rather real, it all still is quite a lot of fun, which is important to me. In case you’re not up for an emotional ride, you can just skip the cutscenes and play the game, but if you like the story, the game offers you decreased difficulty and lots of handicaps to make it easier for you to see the ending of it. On top of that, there is also a harder difficulty for fans of the game as well as different game modes and challenges to complete, so overall, it’s quite accessible to different types of players.

And I haven’t even touched on the minimalistic style and the great soundtrack as well as the fabulous voice acting. I love the colours and the art style that the game has going for it. There are some colder areas with more blue-ish colours as well as some brighter ones representing hell, for instance, where you have fiery enemies and warm colours. The atmosphere changes as you go on, and I really like what direction the developer took the game in. It’s lovely to see a game this polished, although I’ve also got some minor issues with it.

For starters, the isometric style is quite interesting but could’ve been handled differently. Sometimes, you don’t see what’s behind certain enemies, which can lead to you potentially missing out on loot or maybe even not seeing an enemy that has been lurking there… On top of that, there is also the issue of the sound settings not being that well-designed. You can turn the game sound and the music on or off but there isn’t much of a menu here. Luckily, the graphics settings aren’t needed here since this should run on even the oldest laptop… but I still would have liked to see more options, especially in regards to the colours used in the game and so on.

But overall, I don’t think that the cons outweigh the pros of this game. I really enjoyed it and liked the approach the developer took in regards to describing depression and anxiety while also creating a fun game. If you’re into card battlers/roguelikes, I can highly recommend Iris and the Giant to you. Even if you’re new to the genre, you may still like this game for the lovely soundtrack, the cute art style, the amazing story and the well-made strategy elements.

Cheers!

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

Roguelike vs. Roguelite

I love playing Roguelikes. I love playing Roguelites. There is a difference between the two but a lot of times people debate and it just leads to nothing. Sometimes games are labelled as “roguelikes” but they’re actually “rogue-lites”. Sometimes people label games as “rogue-lites” based on one factor and one alone… and that’s kind of wrong, in my opinion. In the end, it doesn’t make a difference, really. As long as you enjoy them, it doesn’t matter what other people call them, right? 

Well,… it would be boring if I were to just leave it at that, as I personally think that there is a difference between rogue-lites and roguelikes. 

Faster Than Light would be a roguelike for me. Pawnbarian? Roguelike! The Binding of Isaac? Roguelite! Hades? Roguelite!

Now, the original game (can be found all over the internet but also on steam) that defined the genre of “Rogue-likes” was, as the name suggests, the 1980 game “Rogue”! It was an ASCII based game that featured turn-based combat, procedural generation and permadeath. While it was hard and challenging, it was also rather strategic and allowed you to step back, think about your next move, and then go on. All games that are like “Rogue” are rogue-likes, duh. Games that are like Roguelikes but aren’t exactly Roguelikes would be Roguelike-likes or Roguelites! Games that aren’t grid-based or that aren’t turn-based, for instance, would fall into that category. There are some people in the gaming community that define roguelikes and rogue-lites just by the amount of permanent character progression in the game, which I personally feel is wrong. I think that that’s a feature that shouldn’t define a genre. Whether or not a game features permanent character progression doesn’t matter for me when I tag a game as a rogue-lite or a roguelike in one of my reviews.

A new addition to my library, Noita, is a fantastically magical Rogue-lite that I can highly recommend!

So, Pawnbarian, for instance, features grid-based, turn-based combat that allows you to be rather strategic about the way you play. Slay The Spire may not be grid-based but it still is a rogue-like for me since the combat feels rather strategic to me. Meanwhile, Hades is more of a rogue-lite in my opinion as it adds a lot more to the original rogue-formula than just action and character progression. It adds dialogues, a story, permanent resources, cosmetics, and even fishing into the game. It’s a rogue-lite in my opinion.

Technically speaking my favourite Pokémon games are roguelikes: Pokémon Mystery Dungeon is a great series that features dungeon-crawling with turn-and-grid-based combat as well as resource-management. I’m not sure if other people would agree with me here, but in my opinion, that’s quite a lot like Rogue… or quite rogue-like!

But hey, opinions change and I’d love to hear more about your opinions on the matter so that I could educate myself. As far as I know, there is also the Berlin Interpretation that defines eight high-value factors and six low-value factors. Among the high-value factors, there’s procedural or random dungeon generation, permadeath, turn-based gameplay, non-modal gameplay, a degree of complexity, resource management for survival, hack and slash -ish based gameplay, and exploration. Having more of these features or fewer of them doesn’t exclude or include a game. It just makes a game “more roguelike” or “less roguelike”.

With Guild of Dungeoneering, I’m honestly not quite sure if it’s still a roguelike (technically, it should be…) or if it’s already a roguelite (I mean, it’s quite different, right?).

While I agree with a lot of these features, I’m not entirely sure what to do with the Berlin Interpretation. I guess, you could grade games in those aspects and then compare them to other games to decide whether or not the game is a roguelike or not… but generally speaking, I doubt that I’d ever use that interpretation/definition. 

Instead, I tend to go with the strategy aspect vs. other approach definition. Most of the time, I go with how I feel about a game and I’m sure I misclassified some of my reviews… but generally speaking, I don’t think that Diablo or Minecraft are roguelikes and I do think that Isaac is a rogue-lite. My blog, my rules!

Hope you enjoyed this post! I’ve been meaning to write about this topic for ages now and am glad, I got to make it. Going more in-def with some of this stuff would have been boring, so I tried to keep it light… or should I say… lite? :^) 

Do you care about that stuff? If so, what definition do you use? What’s important for you? Let me know!

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

Cheers!

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

Risk of Rain 2 – Teaching a Newbie

Just recently, I started playing Risk of Rain 2 again and I’ve been busy unlocking abilities for characters, for the sake of achievements mostly. But then I found out that some of the members of the Twitch stream team that I recently joined also play that game… and alas, we played a couple of rounds and our friend, baconbitsnow, died more often than not and we had a hard time letting him experience more of the game than the death-screen. Alas, I tried reflecting on how to teach him the game easier without making things too hard for him or too complicated for him to understand. He knows the basics of the game already but since he hadn’t played in a while, he was basically a newbie when it came to understanding what the items do.

Alas, I wanted to write a small guide of sorts of the basics and how to maybe teach someone better how to play the game or how to make the game more fun for them.

First things first: What is Risk of Rain/Risk of Rain 2?

The Risk of Rain games are challenging roguelikes where you land on a planet and try to get to the teleporter in order to proceed. What makes the game so challenging is that you essentially have to race against the time itself. The longer the game proceeds, the more challenging it goes. At first, more enemies spawn, eventually, enemy-spawns become elites with unique properties, and at last, seeing boss enemies just casually spawn into the world or seeing elite bosses isn’t that unnatural anymore. You kill enemies to earn gold to buy items from chests you find in the world. Items make you stronger. Then you hit the teleporter and the teleporter event proceeds. In the first game, you’ll have to defeat the boss to be rewarded an item before you need to clear out the stage. Since the second game is in 3D opposed to the 2D style of the first game, you’ll need to stay in an area around the teleporter (big dome basically) to charge it up before you can proceed. Clearing the stage is no longer needed. If you proceed to the next stage too fast, however, you’ll be left in the dust by enemies that out-scale/out-level you, so killing enemies here and there to gain levels is also important. 

These are the basics for the game.

In Risk of Rain 2, there are four difficulties: Drizzle, Rainstorm, Monsoon, and the all-new Eclipse. Eclipse is an alternate difficulty setting found in a separate menu that basically lets each survivor start at Eclipse level 1, giving allies a -50% Starting Health debuff. Once you complete the run, you’ll be at Eclipse Level 2 which decreases the teleporter radius by 50%. This scales up to Eclipse 8, making this game mode somewhat challenging and something that veterans should attempt but not beginners. Monsoon difficulty is harder to get into, so essentially I’d recommend teaching friends how to play on Drizzle or Rainstorm. Drizzle is a lot more forgiving as it grants more health regeneration to allies as well as a +70 bonus to armour. The difficulty also scales only at 50% of the normal pace, making this less challenging and easier to get into.

There’s no shame in taking training-wheels on for the sake of learning the game before eventually heading into Rainstorm, Monsoon and Eclipse runs. For the sake of the best experience, I’d disable any Artefacts, though, as they can be rather overwhelming to newer players.

While in theory, the Artefact of Command, for instance, could help out new players by letting them chose their items, it is a bit of a handicap as well since they’ll have to get that menu open and chose one of many items while standing wide-open and still. Instead of letting them chose their own items, I let Bacon open chests and ping the items instead, using the middle mouse button. This resulted in me seeing the item name in chat and me being able to explain what the item does and why he should or shouldn’t take it. I was also able to explain how the stacking of those items goes.

Bacon already had the Huntress unlocked, so I let him play that one while I opted into the Mul-T. Mul-T is able to dish out great damage and – when in doubt – solo-carry the game. Due to his two equipment slots, I was also able to let Bacon, at most times, switch between equipment to try out different things. Bacon really enjoyed playing with the Sawmerang, so I went for Gorag’s Opus in one of the slots to increase our attack speed by 100% while later going for the Preon Accumulator in the other slot to deal with lots of enemies at the same time if they were to swarm us or to deal a lot of damage to bosses if it’s an annoying boss. 

Due to some lucky RNG, we even got some early red items, resulting in me being able to explain to him what item categories there are: There are currently 97 items in the game on top of 30 equipment pieces. Equipment can be used to either dish out more damage or benefit you in some way to boost your damage, give you resistances or give you mobility. The other 97 items can be categorised into five categories: Common items (white), Uncommon items (green), Legendary items (red), Boss/Planetary items (yellow), and Lunar items (blue). Among the lunar items, there are four equipment items available as well.

White items tend to be flat-amounts of stats to your stats. The Soldier’s Syringe grants you 15% (+15% per stack) attack speed, for instance, while the Lens-Maker’s Glasses grant your attacks a 10% (+10% per stack) chance to critically strike, dealing double damage. A lot of these items don’t have an overwhelming effect but they are essential to your builds regardless. Since most of these don’t have an upper limit to the stacks, you can have as many Syringes or Goat Hoofs as you want to and actually feel the effects of them. The only exception to this would be the Crit-Glasses that only are doing something up to 100% crit chance. After that, getting more won’t do anything. 

Green items include a lot of different effects that grant you slows for your attacks or on-kill/on-hit effects that you can proc. There are also other additions to it like a double jump with the Hopoo Feather or an extra charge for your equipment with the Fuel Cell. These items basically grant you a lot of different effects and finding out which items suit your characters the most can be part of the fun as well. Yellow items only drop from bosses and offer some nice perks as well, although some of them are more situational than others. The Molten Perforator has a 10% chance on-hit to call forth magma balls from an enemy, dealing a lot of damage, for instance, while other items offer stat increases or other ways of utilizing your build. If you get one early, you can shape your build around them but if you play with Command, you can usually get just the best one for your character.

Red items essentially round up your build a bit more. These are usually super strong and grant you a whole lot of great effects. Aegis for instance lets you gain a temporary barrier for 50% (+50% per stack) of the amount you heal past full health. Meanwhile, Brilliant Behemoth makes all your attacks explode for a 60% total damage bonus to nearby enemies in a 4m (+1.5m per stack) radius around the impact. If you use a lot of normal attacks that might be the best choice while the Alien Head might be better for survivors that use a lot of abilities. Generally, you want one anyways and any is better than none. Lunar items can also be quite strong but they often offer drawbacks to them. To acquire them, you’ll need to use Lunar coins on Lunar Pods or buy the items in the Bazar Between Time accessed through the blue portal. 

With that out of the way, you’ll just head into the game. The best way to find out what the items do is to either pick them up and learn from the game teaching you or to ask a friend or check out the wiki

Bacon struggled past stage 4 since he died earlier and was behind in terms of items. Alas, we decided to go for the boss and grab that additional item before heading to the Artefact place to unlock Command for him. When playing with a new player, I’d recommend searching for the command-artefact-code and unlocking it for them so that they can try out things themselves in Single-Player or with other players. 

And alas, we unlocked that and some other logs for him before heading into the first-loop. Bacon was still struggling quite a bit, so we ended up rushing through the next two stages to venture into the Celestial Portal that leads us to “A Moment, Fractured”. Fighting the boss on the Moon would be too hard for a new player, especially with our items, which is why I decided to loop instead and go for that alternate ending. “A Moment, Fractured” features a monolith that can be used to obliterate yourself. Once you’ve done that, you finished your run and you’re awarded five lunar coins, kickstarting your journey to finding more and using them to unlock the artificer or to play around with some lunar builds. 

Hope you enjoyed this post. I know, it’s a tad longer and not what I usually do but I thought I’d just explain something about the basics of the game, what items there are and the best choices to make. Bacon said that he enjoyed himself and that he learned a lot. If you want to, you can follow him on Twitch. We’re in the same stream team, “Mistakes”, and I’ve enjoyed playing with him lately, despite him being a bit helpless with Malachite enemies. It’s a lot of fun to play with others! The wiki for RoR2 is a great resource btw, so I’d recommend checking that out if you have any questions regarding the codes for the different artefacts or regarding the scaling, the items, the enemies, etc. – Just don’t spoil yourself too much if you want to. 🙂

Anyways, I’ll be off for the day. I hope you guys have a nice time and I’ll see you next time.

Cheers!

Indietail – Darksburg

These are dark times with God having left us and Zombies swarming our beloved town of Darksburg. Alas, it is our duty to rid this town of this plague – if not for our beloved fellow citizens, then at least for the sake of survival. Alas, let us dive into this adventure with up to three other comrades and… kick some Zombie Ass.

Today we’re taking a look at Darksburg, which is an isometric and cooperative Action-Roguelite in a Medieval setting and with Zombies. It has a bit of an ARPG style going on with hack-and-slashy combat, hordes of enemies and perks to level up your abilities with. 

Developer: Shiro Games
Publisher: Shiro Games
Genre: Isometric, Co-Op, Action, Roguelite, Hack n Slash, Zombies, Medieval
Release Date: September 23rd, 2020
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC
Copy received via Humble Choice.

The game features five different characters ranging from Damage Dealers, Tanks, Supports, and other characters with their own unique characteristics. Every character has a normal attack, a passive ability, as well as four abilities, with each character playing around different mechanics. Varag, for instance, is a wild wolfman that can dish out damage but at his core, he is very tanky and blocks damage for his allies with his shield, only to then unleash a powerful counterattack once he has absorbed enough damage. My favourite characters, however, are Abigail and Dr Dolorosa. Sister Abigail is another melee-character that can deal a lot of damage but she also features a great utility-spell called “The Bell” that draws nearby enemies’ attention towards the bell. Meanwhile, Dr Dolorosa is all about her experiments and is embarking on this journey to find a cure for Zombies,… although her experimental cure mostly kills them. She utilizes poisonous knives and her kills allow her to collect samples that decrease her Asphyxiant’s and her Experimental Cure’s cooldown. At the same time, she applies a lot of damage over time, making her a great damage dealer, in my opinion.

On level up, you get to select one of three perks, each upgrading some aspect of your kit differently. This allows you to create your favourite build and experience a different playstyle that might suit you better than what others might recommend. So, while you may enjoy an auto-attack or ability focused build on Rose, you could also enjoy going for a build revolving around Rose’s pet squirrel Twig, adding more utility to that ability or increasing its damage. You get nine level-ups throughout each run by killing enemies, and alas can create countless of different builds with other priorities based on how you’re doing. This was something that I really enjoyed in my runs so far and I’m not done yet with experimenting more in this game.

When you embark on your run, alone or with friends, you spawn in an area of Darksburg that is swarming with enemies. There are four areas in the game: The Harbour, the Marketplace, Faubourg, and the Graveyard. After that, you’ll have to face off against Baron Manfred von Darksburg himself who has been infected himself and must be defeated to rid Darksburg of this plague. To get through areas, you need to defeat the Infected and Revenants, achieve side-goals like blasting open walls, lighting fires, finding items, and more, and eventually, you’ll have to get to the end of the level. While the beginning is rather easy, new enemies have introduced every few levels as well as traps and other events that happen, which is why you’ll have to explore and find so-called artefacts that you can use on top of your kit. Artefacts can be upgraded by picking another artefact of the same type, unlocking new abilities. These can enhance your build even more and grant you mobility, more damage, utility or even survivability based on what you get. 

On top of that, you also find chickens in each of the levels that then can be used to unlock skins for your survivors, as well as Dreadium Ingots that you use in the Cabinet of Curiosities where you exchange the ingots for so-called “Curios” that further enhance your build. This adds a bit of permanent-character-progression to the game, although it probably is more of another way of customizing builds.

But while the gameplay itself offers a lot of creativity as far as your build goes and while it is fairly accessible with the amount of remapping and control-customization that you can do, I still find the game kind of lacking. Once you beat the final boss, you unlock Ascension levels, granting you more challenging runs, but apart from that, there isn’t much to do. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed myself so far, partly thanks to friends I’ve been playing with but also because a lot of builds make you feel quite strong… but at the same time, the game definitely is lacking content for a game that costs 20€ on Steam Store at full price. On top of that, the loading screens at times are stuttering, the audio can bug out as well, and while bugs are a thing, I just feel like the game isn’t optimized too well, especially with these graphics.

Another issue I found was that the voice lines that the characters use get repeated quite often, which loses its charm after the first few times. More variety here couldn’t have harmed the game that much… and while the levels are procedurally generated, I would have loved seeing more areas, different enemies from time to time, as well as some variety as for the colour-scheme and the soundtrack. The music of Darksburg is alright but I wouldn’t call it “great”, simply for the fact that I hardly remember any songs from it. It just doesn’t stick to your ears that well and you wouldn’t immediately recognize it unless its the only game you’re playing, I guess.

In the end, the lack of content and bad optimization are the biggest drawbacks here. The game only came out in September of 2020, so maybe they’ll add more characters, more levels, more enemies, and more bosses to the game as well but for a game that costs 20 bucks at full-price, I feel like it’s not worth it. I’d recommend this game if you’re looking for a fun challenge to go through with your friends. I wouldn’t recommend this at the full price. We may revisit this in the future again if there is another update coming in that adds more levels to each run or other content but right now, I just don’t really see how this would be worth 20 bucks.

Hope you enjoyed this review! If you grabbed November’s Humble Choice, you may actually already own it, so let’s play some time! Do you feel similarly about this game if you already checked it out? Let me know!

Cheers!

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

Indietail – Fishticuffs

I’m a sucker for interesting takes on the rogue-lite formula. Games that are like Rogue are roguelikes, so they’re basically turn-based perma-death Dungeon Crawlers, I guess? I mean, definitions vary but a lot of people go by those while others think of roguelites as roguelikes with permanent upgrades that persist through runs. So while roguelikes may be somewhat limited to one or the other definition, Roguelites aka Roguelike-likes have so much more freedom available to them. From mythological roguelites to metal roguelites there are a plethora of games out there with similar features that bring their own twist on the genre and give people joy with the differences. Celebrating the differences is a great mantra to live by anyways.

Today, I wanted to talk about Fishticuffs by Yokcos, a game that combines the roguelite formula with the bullet hell genre and… fishing!

Developer: Yokcos
Publisher: Yokcos
Genre: Roguelite, Bullet Hell, Fishing, Arcade, 2D
Release Date: December 21st, 2020
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC
Copy was sent by the dev.

In Fishticuffs you’re trying your best to get a high score and bring some fish back home to the dinner table… but sadly the fishes are fighting back. Play as a hook and embark into the depths of the sea where you kill enemies, dodge projectiles, collect powerups and money and become stronger.

While the chill tunes at the beginning make it seem rather harmless, appearances are deceiving! The game isn’t a bullet hell game for nothing, after all! Your only attack is your space/left-click ability that lets you dive a short distance downwards and strike one foe. This ability, however, goes on cooldown for a little while meaning that you may deal one damage point to an enemy but you won’t be able to spam it constantly. 

Enemies, on the other hand, shoot out missiles and projectiles in periodic intervals. From horizontal to diagonal shots to electric fields by electric eels, there are a bunch of different enemy types with all kinds of attacks to avoid. You only have three lives, so you’ve got try your best to, quite literally, dodge a bullet.

On your journey downwards, you’ll be able to collect money and powerups. Powerups help you in your runs by giving you a wider hook or giving you a chance to damage enemies when you collect money. A lot of the power-ups seems a tad underwhelming but once you get a bunch of them, you’ll end up with a nice build that works quite well. This has been quite pleasant overall, although I would have loved it if there had been some drawbacks to the perks you get. In other games, picking up one upgrade would, for instance, increase your damage at the cost of your attack speed while another would increase your defences at the cost of increasing your hitbox and slowing you down. In this game, you basically just have these minor passive upgrades that kind of add up and eventually feel good… but on their own, they aren’t that noticeable, which is something I would have loved to see.

At the end of each level, you can spend your collected money on items in the shop. More often than not, you end up with only enough to buy one of two options. There is also a mushroom-like fella that tells you to not kill him and to not go into the shop… as well as a bigger enemy that drops loot as well… and while these are neat ideas, they don’t really get explained anywhere and it can lead to some misunderstandings. At one point, I thought I got healed by the mushroom-fella so I hit him again in the next run and didn’t healed, so that left me confused. I would love it if there was more clarity in regards to where healing comes from or what certain things do.

Once you’re done with the area, you’ll go onto to the next area with a completely new theme, other enemies and other items. At different depths, you have completely new experiences and other things to watch out for, which makes the game quite challenging. What I loved about the second area, as an example, was just how ominous it was. From the soundtrack to the style of the enemies to the eyes that pop out in the background… it’s very dangerous and scary, all of the sudden, which is a welcome contrast to the bright and relatively friendly shallow waters that you were just in earlier.

As expected, killing fish also yields money. On top of that, some items are synergizing with each other better than others. This actually results in a bit of a meta that can be found in the game… So when you lose your run and see that graph of how far you’ve gotten compared to previous runs, you can actually think about it… but since it’s really challenging, I would have loved to see some options to maybe make it easier for people that aren’t that good at games. The furthest I’ve gotten so far was Level 2 and I’ve had a few runs behind me already and really enjoyed it but if I were to recommend this game to a friend, I’m not sure if they’d be too happy with it judging from the difficulty.

Options to make the game a bit easier, like giving you a “bomb” or whatever to clear projectiles, once per level, could make it already a lot easier. Adding difficulty settings like easy/normal/hard, giving you more damage/HP or less damage/HP based on the difficulty would be another way to add more accessibility to the game. I mean, you don’t have to make it harder or easier if you don’t want to but a lot of games have those options and they are more fun for more people. Apart from that, I would have liked it if there were some graphics options like the brightness levels or some sort of colour-options. But at least, you’re able to fully remap the controls!

The soundtrack is fancy, the art style is adorable, the game is quite enjoyable. For the price, you get quite the challenging experience for your buck and alas, I’d say I’d recommend the game. The game has some depth to it but isn’t the most complex and while it is challenging, it doesn’t feel too frustrating as you’re able to start up a new run in a matter of seconds, which is quite lovely. 

Hope you enjoyed the post! If you want to check out the game for yourself, you can find it over here. Make sure to check out the description for a lot of fish-puns! And take care of yourself!

Cheers!

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

Indietail – Hades

I’ve always been a sucker for mythology. From Norse to Egyptian to Greek mythology, I’d take everything in and read up on all sorts of articles and myths and thoughts. I honestly loved it to bits. In the same manner, I love it when games incorporate mythology into their lore and build a universe around it that brings life to these old legends and stories. A game that does that really well is Hades!

Developer: Supergiant Games
Publisher: Supergiant Games
Genres: Action, Roguelite, RPG, Indie
Release Date: December 6th, 2018 (Early Access) - Left Early Access on September 17th, 2020
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC, Switch
Copy was purchased.

Dive into the underworld where the god of the dead and the king of the underworld, Hades, is reigning with an iron fist and where his son, Zagreus, is trying to escape hell. Meet a bunch of different characters, interact with them, romance some of them, gift nectar and ambrosia to your favourite people and the Gods of the Olymp themselves, and experience the story of Hades, one run at a time. Hades is an Action-Roguelite by Supergiant Games and in this review, I’ll tell ya why it’s such a great game!

Well, in this game, we play as Zagreus, who very much has a reason to leave Hell and to be angry at his father, which I won’t get into. Zagreus uses one of six different weapons in each of his escape attempts powered by Boons of the Gods of the Olymp. These weapons were used to slay the titans and are, alas, strong on their own already but as you progress further into the depths of Hell, you have to face stronger foes and more challenges, which is why the Gods help you. A variety of gods are there to assist you in your dangerous endeavour, most likely since they’re bored. From your uncles, Zeus and Poseidon, to your grandmother, Demeter, there are a plethora of interesting characters ready to provide you with their assist.

Your weapon tends to have a normal attack and a special attack which both are quite unique. Each weapon has four different aspects that each play differently and make use of different mechanics. On top of that, some weapons (like the shield) have other move sets that make use of holding buttons down or timing attacks properly. On top of that, you have dashes and the ability to perform dash strikes.

The various boons you encounter offer bonus effects to your character, making you stronger or more sturdy, or they change how your weapons work. Demeter is the goddess of the seasons, fertility, and death. Her boons help you afflict enemies with the “Chill” status effect, making them slower or dealing damage at certain conditions. Aphrodite helps you weaken enemies while Ares, Zeus and Artemis are all about that damage. There are a plethora of status boons, passive boons, and raw damage boons in the game and they all synergies quite well with each other, to the point where there’s also duo boons that combine the boons of two gods into one stronger perk. If you have high DPS, you may consider stacking Dionysus’ “hangover” status effect on enemies, while you may consider going for raw damage with Ares if your weapon is slower.

These boons can be acquired by getting through rooms. Gods tend to give you a selection of three boons and you don’t know what you’ll get beforehand. Rooms also can feature other rewards such as Gold to purchase boons and other items in the shop, gems and darkness to use after the run has ended, maximum health, hammers or other rewards. Each run can feature up to two Daedalus Hammer boons which basically change how your weapon is working, making each build stand out even more.

What I love about Hades is that a lot of it feels rather intuitive. You see enemies, you strike them. You see boons, so you go for ones that sound nice. You don’t really have too many “noob traps” in the game and generally, you can progress quite well, especially once you invest your Darkness into that mirror of yours – aka permanent character progression that helps you get stronger after your runs.

But apart from combat being very fast-paced and fun to play with and apart from the plethora of possible builds with each of the four aspects of the six weapons available to you, the game also has another component: The Story.

The Story of Hades evolves whenever you talk to characters. From Achilles to Nyx to Thanatos (I love him), there are a plethora of characters ready to assist you by guiding you or helping you out with trinkets. By giving nectar to the different characters in the game, you receive trinkets that grant you benefits in the run. On top of that, each of the characters in the game has a ton of voice lines and a quest of sorts where you try to help them get through some of their problems which ends up benefitting you as well. Simply speak to characters after your run whenever you see an exclamation mark on their heads and enjoy the fully-voiced and witty lines that both refer to mythology but also have a lot of character. Each of the figures that you encounter has its own problems, traits and personality, which is awesome as it brings life to the mythology that people often refer to as “boring”.

And the game isn’t over yet once you’ve completed a run successfully and escaped Hell as there are various things to do like renovating hell, helping the characters out, fulfilling prophecies, fishing, achievements, and completing the runs with higher difficulties that you can assign yourself to the run. Once you manage to leave Hell once, Hades puts up a pact of punishment onto the gate, resulting in you being able to complete runs again with rising heat levels and more challenges such as more challenging bosses and special enemies. But if you’re actually struggling with beating runs, I can also recommend activating God Mode with grants you a 2% damage reduction bonus whenever you die. You start at 20% already which is A LOT but you can gain up to 80% damage reduction to help you experience the story without getting frustrated with the runs.

And I haven’t even gotten into the amazing art style or the fantastic soundtrack or the wonderful voice acting. I haven’t even gotten into the romance options and the further challenges as well as all of the different secrets in the game and the different areas that each have their mini-bosses and mechanics and traps. There is a ton to talk about in Hades and while I once thought that it was a bit “grindy” at times when it comes to gems, that thought simply vanished after unlocking a few of the house contractor projects. So, I don’t have anything bad to say about Hades and I can understand why it was nominated as Game of the Year, among other titles, and why it won “Best Indie” and “Best Action”. I really can understand that as I haven’t seen a game as polished and as wonderfully crafted as this one in ages.

And more updates are coming out here and there, as well, adding a ton of things, which shows the love and care that Supergiant Games puts into their titles, to the point where I had to rewrite this review about nine times so far. I hope that you enjoyed reading about this game and that you’re checking it out yourself eventually.

For me personally, Hades might very much be my Game of the Year 2020.

Cheers!

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

Indietail – Headbangers in Holiday Hell

It’s Christmas time… so it’s time for Christmas games with annoying elves, vomiting reindeer, lots of candy, and explosions! Don’t know what I’m talking about? Well, I’m talking about Headbangers in Holiday Hell, of course, the new Action Roguelite by Vikerlane that brings you the good ol’ festive goodness paired with blood, explosives, guns, and metal.

Developer: Vikerlane
Publisher: Hammer&Ravens
Genre: Action, Roguelite, Hack and Slash, Twin-Stick-Shooter, Arcade, 2.5D
Release Date: December 7th, 2020
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC
Copy was sent to me by the developers.

So, why do we shoot elves? Well, mostly because Christmas never changes. People get obsessed over it and turn into little elf-freaks lead by some bearded maniacs, so of course, someone has to stand up against them… and that’s us!

Inspired by Zombies Ate My Neighbors and Beavis & Butthead’s heavy metal comedy, Headbangers in Holiday Hell combines some absurd themes with Arcade-Twin-Stick-Shooter mechanics – granting you a rather entertaining experience.

When you start a run, you’ve got to rescue the Headbangers that are being held hostage by those bloody elves. Simply stand by them to untie them, similar to how you free hostages in the Metal Slug games. The catch is that those bloody elves shoot back and a lot of them are rather scary if you think about it.

Ammunition is limited, creating a sense of emergency when you run out and have to melee your way through missions. You can spend credits to buy ammunition or weapons but the same credits are also used for permanent upgrades that you can buy at the end of your run. Alas, you’ll have to measure if it’s worth it to buy ammunition or just try to melee and risk your life to get some drops from enemies.

Headbangers has a bit of stealth mechanics as well. You can use gas tanks and batteries to blow enemies up or electrocute them when there’s water around. At the same time, you can trick elves into watching the TV or you just “Rambo” your way through the game… but you’ll have to balance it to a degree as your hitpoints are important and as the game gets harder and harder as you proceed…

And well, there’re bosses and stuff as well. Fight your way through Malls and houses to end the Christmas tyrany imposed by that big fat bearded man. Honestly, I haven’t been able to finish the game just yet but it feels somewhat addictive, especially when you get so close to finishing off bosses or making it to new levels.

Runs can be short and painless or long and stealthy. I feel like that’s great for the current times when you have a lot going on and cannot spare too much time to play games. Alas, an Arcade title like this kinda fills in the gaps quite nicely, which is why I like it quite a lot to be honest.

And the whole premise is absurd and stupid – I just love it! Especially as the game is littered with small gags and easter eggs. On top of that, the game’s soundtrack is amazingly brutal. “In-Your-Face” Metal has to be done well and this game really nailed it. So far I haven’t gotten sick of it or anything like that… I feel like it fits the theme and premise of the game quite well and it’s certainly fun to have those hard tracks hit you while you blast through little elves in slo-mo. Check out the artist behind the soundtrack over here.

But not everything is perfect when it comes to Headbangers. When it comes to accessibility, I wasn’t able to find any settings to turn on a tutorial of sorts. There is a button for it that basically removes or turns on the tutorial-hints… but it left me confused at first, as I thought that I had multiple weapons and as I had no idea what the controls are like.

At the same time, the volume settings are rather limited, as well as the other settings, and I wasn’t too sure as to what to do when the game was too loud in-game. There are no settings in-game once you start the run, resulting in a frustrating experience of either bearing with it or ending the run and starting again. I would have loved for this to be different. Why can’t the settings just be in the game?

Apart from that, the art style sometimes makes it hard to see where bullets are on the screen while the controls feel somewhat sluggish at times, especially when you’re rolling around and dodging stuff. For a cheap game like this, however, I feel like the positives outshine the negatives by far, which is why I’m recommending this game to you.

You can find Headbangers on Steam over here. I feel like it’s a good game that certainly scratches that certain itch for Twin-Stick-Shooter Action and festive goodness. I hope you enjoy it as well!

Cheers!

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