Looking forward to “Grounded”

If you’ve seen “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids”, “The Ant Bully”, or “Antz”, you might like the following title. In Obsidian Entertainment’s “Grounded” you’re playing as one of four kids, shrunk to the size of insects and other small critters. You get to roam a lawn, exploring vast grass-steam forests while scavenging and foraging for resources to survive the dangers that come with not being normal-sized.

The world is beautiful if you look close enough – and well, with your size, you can get close to everything. Ants are as big as you while stink beetles and ladybugs are terrifyingly big! Of course, there are also small critters like mites that you can hunt down for food and… well… as the game tells you in the title screen, there are also spiders. But fear not, fellow arachnophobes, for there is an arachnophobia mode in this game that lets you turn those horrific and vile creatures into weird bobbly balls floating in the air. This also affects their creepy sounds, resulting in a pleasant experience even when you encounter them.

I constantly caught myself staring into the beautiful areas around you – I mean, when if not now do we get to see the world from this perspective?

Houses and benches are huge! We even get to explore “landmarks” such as some weird shrinking machine and soda cans. Resources seem to be rather lush and alas, we gather pebbles and sprigs, mushrooms and clover, so that we can get started with some simple tools for the beginning.

While you chop down trees in other games, you’ve got to chop down the grass, using an actual axe. Quite bizarre in a way but it does make sense. And well, despite stink beetles, spiders and mites wanting to kill you, there are also a bunch of friendly fellows around like ladybugs and ants.

I love ants. The ants in this game look incredibly cute, constantly scavenging for food, just like us, or carrying around sticks and pebbles. “In theory”, I thought… “In theory, I could attack them. I’ve got the spear and all of that already, after all!” – But I didn’t dare to attack such cute little fellows, mostly since I’m afraid that they might gang up on me after sending out their threat pheromones.

There seems to be a full-fledged story available to the game once it comes out but inside of the demo I was able to play for more than half an hour – and the story-part reached until we fixed the (presumably) shrink-reversal-machine that Spoilers blew up on us shortly after we “fixed” it.

Materials can be analyzed for recipes inside of the analyzer that is set near our research globe. Food can be cooked at a roasting spit and, in theory, we can even build a base of sorts with walls, doors and floors!

Honestly, I’m really excited about this game, especially since it does tickle that one itch that I have for base-building survival games! Especially as it also features unconventional aspects to survival. You’ve got to find water drops on grass stems to not dehydrate, for instance, which is a nice touch!

Multiplayer is also something that is going to be included in the full game, so this might get really cool really soon. Grounded gets released in Early Access on July 28th, 2020. It’s by Obsidian Entertainment, so it’s bound to be good, and well, the game so far has been looking great already, especially as this is only a demo!

The only thing that I’d wish for would be an option to turn the spiders into some cute beetles or something, as even the bobbly heads are a little bit triggering to me. I’d also love it if you could turn their sounds into something else that is less creepy. But maybe that’s just my arachnophobia speaking…

Cheers!

The “To The Moon” Play-Along – Act 3

To The Moon! We’ve kind of forgotten about that, haven’t we? Well, I haven’t. I was just really busy… and didn’t really feel like playing the game. Act 2 was dragging on for so long and Act 3 wasn’t too surprising either and also felt quite boring so I stopped streaming the game (as it wasn’t entertaining to watch at all) and I planned on playing it… later… I wouldn’t have thought that I’d be a whole month late but whatever. The post is here! Hope you enjoy it! I’m glad that I’m done with this one. I didn’t particularly enjoy To The Moon due to Act 2 and Act 3 being somewhat slow and boring, I guess? I didn’t personally enjoy it as it felt really long and I just didn’t want to play it despite actually wanting to answer the question. Heck, I didn’t even read the posts by the other people over here yet as I didn’t want to spoil myself, just in case, it got better? Idk.


We’re sperms… because of science!

1 – Johnny… Joey… Twins. It seems after the accident Johnny lost his identity to his mother and became a replacement-Joey. Does it change how you feel about Johnny as compared to your Act 1 impressions?

Not exactly. I felt as if “erasing River” was a bad thing to do in Act 1, so I doubt it justifies it. Seeing that he wanted to “collect her” is still weird to me. I guess traumas can do all kinds of things to people and you don’t know what exactly could happen with these… I guess Johnny could have potentially turned out a lot worse, killing people and stealing their identities/faces, so at least he’s just some weird guy who wants to possess humans, right? 

If I went as far as to excuse someone based on trauma, however, I’d end up also justifying all kinds of other sick people who do horrible things to other people based on some trauma they had in the past. And without naming any politicians, radicals, serial killers or whatever, I’ll just leave it at that. 

“She was young and needed the money”

2 – Eva and Neil have a verbal sparring match on their differing views of contract vs. what they now know (or think they know) about what would make Johnny happier. The outcome of Eva’s actions notwithstanding; do you sympathise with one view over the other here?

I feel like it’s wrong to change the memories/brainwash others. While it may make them “happy”, it won’t satisfy them. I don’t think “erasing” River was the right choice. Erasing their sad moments was a bad thing to do even if Johnny wanted it. Alas, I guess I’d side with Neil there.

Space! duh!

3 – Throughout that same exchange, Eva asks Neil to trust her. He clearly didn’t. Did you?

Nope, I wouldn’t have and I didn’t trust her at all since she seemed to turn into a maniac doing all the out of line stuff with the drastic changes and all of that. Idk.

I would have expected it to go horribly wrong and Neil to fix it. Neil would do it just the right way with some Deus Ex Machina bullshit (because I’m a horrible writer) and his idiocy paired with some game-maker magic would end up saving the day while Johnny is flying off on the lighthouse to the Moon where all the rabbits await.. and then he dies…

Nah, even I wouldn’t write that bullshit. I guess if it was me, I would have written it to go horribly wrong and Neil would revert everything back to normal before Johnny dies, thanking the two for not altering his memories. I feel like that would have been a nice touch. 

…you’re crazy, Eva!

4 – “He can always find another ‘River’… But he’ll only have one brother.” Again, pretending for the moment you don’t know the outcome of Eva’s actions and what she (suspected) would happen… Do you agree? What about in this context of overwritten memories as opposed to life as it was?

I guess you can always fall in love with someone else but I wouldn’t agree that someone else means necessarily the same to you as the same person. Despite us all being “humans”, we’re all “individuals”, after all. Each with our own personalities, flaws and traits – each with our own ways of thinking, communicating and all of that. Saying that you can always find someone else to love or whatever would be somewhat true as there are many other humans out there… but personally, I’d say that it’s not the same as having a true soulmate that you’re destined to meet and that you love and honour in good and in bad times. You know? 

Same thing with brothers: While it may be true that you only have so many blood-relatives, I would not agree that you can’t find people in your life that are equally important or that could replace those gaps. Joey still is with Johnny in his heart (that sounds cheesy) but he also has friends, I’d reckon, apart from Nicholas, so I’d reckon that you can still find new people that are equally as precious. 

…and that thing selled? Alrighty!

Some people in the world are not blessed with “normal” or “good” family members and alas have to suffer through a lot. Some people get abused – mentally and physically – throughout their whole life while nobody is listening to them and while it all gets shrugged off. Some people get treated badly all their life and have to go through harassment, insults and violence, always fearing that they might get hurt once again. Some people don’t have the luxury of having family members that they love or that love them. In those cases, you can cut ties with them. In those cases, you can still find new people to replace those family members. You can still find new family members or people that are equally important to you. 

So, while you always can find someone else to like, I wouldn’t agree that family members are that much more valuable on a social level compared to someone you’re destined to meet with. You can find new family. You can find new friends. You can find new love. But it depends on your relationship with your old family, your old friends and your old love. You can’t just say that no family is replaceable and that every love is. It all depends on you and others. 

“The best part about it is the bottom and the top part.” – “What a shame it would be if anyone wasn’t able to see it!” – “Yeah, it will probably not like anything like this after maintenance!”

5 – Anything you wish I’d asked you about that I haven’t, for this act or any of the others? Answer that question for this one. 😉

Uh, the answer to that question would be “Take 42 – Electric Boogaloo”. (You see the error to that phrasing? “Answer that question for this one” doesn’t necessarily imply that I need to mention the question as well, right? All jokes aside, I don’t really think that there are any question that I could have potentially answered for this one. I feel like the Play-Along was a lot of fun overall (mostly due to me being able to read other posts related to my own posts or rather due to me being able to see the answers that other people had compared to my own ones, I guess?). Uh, I didn’t like To The Moon… I mean, I kinda liked Act 1 and Act 2 felt super slow despite being shorter… and Act 3 dragged on as well… so whatever. Good job, Naithin. You made me play this game. 😛
Again, jokes aside, the planning was cool. Hope you do something like that again in the future. 🙂

The end!… or?

Well, that’s it for the post. Hope you enjoyed it. It’s super late but again, I didn’t really enjoy To The Moon all that much past Act 1 and I’m really happy that I only have to go through the Mini-Sodes now. 

Cheers!

Indietail – Stories: The Path of Destinies

Not too long ago, we’ve taken a look at Omensight, a game made by Spearhead. Omensight combined a beautiful world and a lot of different characters with some cool mystery-solving mechanics and some insanely fun combat! This time around, we’re taking a look at its spiritual predecessor, Stories: The Path of Destinies! Strap on for another Indietail!

Developer: Spearhead Games
Publisher: Spearhead Games
Release Date: April 12th, 2016
Genres: Adventure, Action, RPG, Indie, Mystery
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Copy was purchased.

What is Stories: The Path of Destinies about?

In a world with anthropomorphic animal characters and floating islands, we’re taking control of the fox Reynardo, who retired from his brave adventures when his mother took her last breath. One day, the Empire is attacking our hometown in search of a book in our possession. We, the sole survivor of the royal assault, are escaping on our airship, we join the Rebellion and try to take on Isengrim III, the vicious toad emperor who is trying to use forgotten magic, ancient artefacts, and the elder gods who once destroyed the world to rise to power! And, well, it’s our duty to stop that from happening!

In its core, Stories is an isometric action-RPG with mystery elements. We have to solve different loose ends of the game’s story to find out how to stop Isengrim’s plan, who to trust and what exactly is going on. Just like Omensightm, Stories is based on replayability. As Reynardo reads the magical book, he finds out that it allows him to travel back to the same day upon death. With newly attained knowledge, we get to chose different options and make other choices to influence the outcome of the story.

But not always do different choices lead to different outcomes. Often, we need to find out information beforehand to actually influence the outcome of a different route, and alas we have a total of 24 different endings to discover, a whole bunch of levelling and fighting to do, and a whole bunch of characters to investigate.

Do we save our old friend Lapino, a goofy and sly rabbit who is currently being held hostage by the Empire, or do we ditch him in order to find the old artefacts that are capable of potentially sealing away the banished evil gods and defeat the emperor? The choice is yours!

A lot of the times, the story branches into different paths, resulting in a bunch of new areas to discover, information on lore as well as new dialogue options!

And not everything is as it seems. Who can we trust? Who is a traitor? Are the leaders of the Rebellion as trustworthy as we think they are? What about our old love, Zenobia, the Emperor’s daughter? Is there a way to reach out to her? And is Lapino really who we think he is? The story allows us to form our own fate and managed to surprise me over and over again with complex characters that actually change their minds or show their true colours when we go the right way.

There are about four choices in each path to make, all featuring two or three options that split the path into different branches. The branches usually end with either the world getting destroyed or you getting captured or killed, which then results in the book bringing you back in time where you can start all over again. There are four branches that reveal four truths, required to reach the final ending and the end of the game. These four truths are linked to Isengrim, Zenobia, Lapino and the ancient evil gods. When travelling back in time, your book leaves you with guidance, telling you how the choices are reflecting themselves in your future… though no future is set in stone yet as you get to play them yourselves and make a different choice at any point.

As far as combat goes, it is best describes as a simpler version of Omensight’s combat. You get to slash enemies with your sword, using a vast variety of swings and attacks, as well as abilities that you unlock through skills, counters and blocks. Using different materials, you get to upgrade your sword, adding bonus effects to it like fire damage or more attack speed. On top of that, you get to customize your character with different gems that grant you resistances or other passive effects. Overall, I felt like the combat is rather solid and a lot of fun to play. Spearhead Games learned a lot from Stories: The Path of Destinies and implemented it into Omensight which turned out to be a bit more difficult but also a lot more fun. So, I was quite satisfied with both games’ combat systems.

And then there is the world and the soundtrack: It’s beautiful… but that’s no surprise as Spearhead Games have proven themselves as a lovely studio that is very talented in world-building and game-making. The narration really adds more to the game, too! You could say that I’m a huge fan of Spearhead Games, especially as I just adore Omensight’s world and soundtrack. So it should be no surprise that I enjoyed Stories, though I’ve got to say that there is a weak point to Stories as well…

And that’s its cast of enemies:

Over time, as you go back and re-visit old areas, you’re presented with the same enemies over and over again. Of course, you find new enemy types over the course of the game and you get to fight stronger versions when you get stronger, but I never truly felt as if the game was challenging me a lot… as time went on, I struggled a bit more, but it usually was rather doable and never truly hard, so that was a bit of a downer. The combat is a lot of fun but I would have loved to see more variety in the cast of enemies that you’re facing.

But other than that, I couldn’t really find any issues with the game. It runs smoothly, the game’s plot, characters and the soundtrack are awesome, the combat is fun (though it could have been more challenging) and the exploration is quite neat as well. I highly recommend this game to any fan of well-made action-RPG games and for players who are interested in solving a mystery that involves the end of the world!

I hope you enjoyed this review! It’s been a while and I thought I’d publish it today, especially as this game is really good on top of being different from the other titles that I’ve reviewed so far.

I hope you’re having a wonderful day over there!

Cheers!

Looking out for “Traveller’s Rest”

I’ve enjoyed my fair share of shop or tavern keeping simulations from Recettear to Moonlighter to Shoppe Keep 1 & 2, so it was a bit of a no-brainer for me that I’d try out the demo for Traveller’s Rest. 

But what exactly is Traveller’s Rest?

In Traveller’s Rest, you take charge of a rundown Inn, serve guests food and ales, and where you farm your veggies, hops and grains yourself to become self-sufficient.

Since your tavern/inn’s kind of run-down, you’ve got decorate, clean and unlock a bunch of features as you progress through the quests that the game offers to you. As you gain experience and level up, you also unlock skills, tech trees, and features like ordering ingredients, renting rooms to guests, hiring staff and a ton of other things!

The demo starts off somewhat slowly as you’re being told how to build, clean and serve – the basics, basically. Over time, the Inn gets rather busy with guests swarming in and you having to clean after them when they trash your place, calm them down when they get mad and get rich when they pay up and leave!

I feel like Traveller’s Rest has a bunch of everything in there. The music is nice, the progressing feels steady and overall, it’s a nice little game with all kinds of features. It honestly kind of reminded me of Graveyard Keeper since the style is similar and since the malting and fermenting are quite similar as well. The only thing missing are the corpses that you throw down the river, but I doubt that would fit into Traveller’s Rest. 

Overall, I had a lot of fun with this two-in-game-days-long demo, despite the fact that it was a tad annoying that you’ve got to wait so long for the fermenting or malting or whatever to be done. I guess, a speed-up-option of sorts for those kinds of things would be quite nice, like meditation or something. 

The game’s coming out in Mid 2020. Be sure to wishlist and follow the game on Steam if you’re interested in supporting a solo-project. 

Cheers!

The “To The Moon” Play-Along – Act 2

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

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

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

Sperm at work

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

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

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

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

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

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

Small break for fresh air?

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

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

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

She was young and needed the money.

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

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

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

“Hey, I ain’t a bastard!”

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

😛

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

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

Have a nice day!

Cheers!

Late to the Party #3 – Assassin’s Creed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers!

Indietail – Clunky Hero

Some heroes are known for fighting windmills! Some others are known for getting tossed coins at! And some others… well… they have buckets on their heads and fight evil stuff to save their wife! In today’s Indietail we’re talking about the latest demo of ClunkyHero!

Developer: Chaosmonger Studio
Release Date: March, 2021
Genres: RPG, Action, 2D, Platformer, Metroidvania
Available on: PC for now (+more as stretch goals)
Reviewed on: PC
Copy was received from the Devs (demo available for free)

Clunky Hero is a humouristic and story-driven Platformer-Metroidvania-title with RPG-elements by Chaosmonger Studio. It’s being described as a mix of titles like Hollow Knight and MunchKin. The game features a rather adorable 2D world filled with a lot of surprises, references and dangers. You can now support the game on Kickstarter until the 15th of June, 2020, so I’ll just quickly talk about the demo that I got sent by this small dev studio!

“Set in a far-away village, a dull peasant named Rufus and wife, Brunilde, lived an ordinary life. Everything was great in the village until the Evil One was awakened by a magical mistake that unleashed his army of minions into the world. In an unsurprising twist, the Evil One kidnapped Brunilde and imprisoned her in his Super Evil Bad Guy Castle Fortress.

Determined to rescue her, Rufus ventures onto a great quest, only equipped with an ordinary broom for his weapon and a sturdy bucket as his helmet. Labelled the Clunky Hero, Rufus sets out on his quest to save his wife and the whole village!”

What seems like a rather generic RPG-story á la “heroine gets kidnapped and the protagonist must save her from some evil guy” is actually a rather comedic twist on the whole trope of a princess that can’t seem to not-get-captured. The game mocks the trope and the generic RPG-games that feature the same twists over and over again by tackling the issue with TONS of humour. In fact, on stream, I ended up actually laughing out when I saw the intro for the very first time. The narrator and the whole plot premise are just hilarious!

Soon after getting into the game, you’re being presented by hand-drawn backgrounds and the option of going towards a dangerous story to your left or a town filled with generic NPCs to your right. The NPCs either tend to mock or make fun of you while selling you items, or they’re breaking the fourth wall with critique points and jokes at the cost of the devs while also giving out quests for you. I personally really enjoyed some of these dialogue options quite a bit. Again, the writing seems alright when you read/hear it for the first time, especially when all the NPCs are voiced with some made-up language that further enhances the experience.

In the demo, there are a bunch of enemies that you can encounter in the world from goblins to drunk bees to derpy knights to jumping heads (reminding me of Spirited Away!). They usually are tricky to deal with and can deal a bunch of damage to you, which is rather annoying when you think about the fact that you can only get healed by heal-items.

The gameplay seems to feature a lot of exploration, some not too complex combat and a bunch of enemies as well as a ton of humour but nothing too out-of-the-ordinary. It all seems rather unpolished to me, which may be part of the appeal of a demo, I guess? I’m sure that the following issues will get fixed in the full version… or rather I hope so,… but I don’t know for sure.

I’ve noticed a bunch of bugs and issues with the controls. Controller inputs were not getting registered while controls in the inventory just did not work at all for the most parts. A lot of times I’d feel like the hitboxes were not matching up which was rather annoying and with you not being able to heal without items it became quite frustrating… Especially, when you then have to start the game up again and listen to the same cutscene again… for the fifth or sixth time. I GET IT! WE’RE SUPPOSED TO LAUGH ABOUT THE DUCKFACE JOKE! Yeah, it’s not funny after a few times, but that’s the case with all unskippable intro-sequences! (Looking at you there, Borderlands!)

But these are issues that can be fixed rather quickly. The devs are aware of these problems and mentioned them in a pop-up that you see when you start up the game. It’s impressive to see a demo like this being put out after only 4 months of development.

The final result is supposed to feature 25+ levels, 15+ interior levels, six different skills, six+ different weapons, 20+ side quests, 30+ consumables, 10+ magic items, 10+ bosses, 20+ NPCs and 30+ types of enemies.

And in the end, I would say that these smaller issues that have been spotted in the DEMO (!) will probably not be featured in the full game, coming out in 2021… and I’d say that it still has some beautiful art, some hilarious moments and a great narrator… so I’d recommend the game if the quality continues to improve from now on… but we don’t know for sure.

And I know that it’s difficult to trust some name on some Kickstarter campaign with one’s money. You obviously cannot just trust anyone… but in this case, Nicola Povesan – head of Chaosmonger Studio -, has been rather successful with backed projects on Kickstarter. There are short films like Attack of the Cyber Octopuses and Robot Will Protect You as well as the video game Encodya (coming out on Steam in 2020), so if you’d like to, you could very much go and help the studio out over here at the Kickstarter campaign.

Clunky Hero is currently about 2500€ away from getting released in an All-Or-Nothing campaign. You’ll be able to find the demo on that side as well as some stretch goals, so you may consider doing that.

Either way, have a nice day and always remember to greet your neighbours with enough safety distance!

Cheers!

To The Moon Play-Along – Act 1

Ever participated in a Group-Reading-Event? Me neither! But Naithin borrowed the idea and planned out this Play-Along event so I thought I’d participate and also discover a cute new game… and this time around it’s To The Moon!

So, during last Tuesday’s stream, we started off playing through the first Arc of To The Moon and will continue to play through the next Arc on next Tuesday’s stream, and after each session, I will prepare a blog post with questions and answer regarding the game, which will come out on the following Friday. 🙂 I hope that the rules are somewhat understandable, so uh… yeah. Next up, I’d try to summarise the game as well as possible without spoiling the game before eventually getting to the questions that Naithin prepared for us… so uh, there will be spoilers. Duh.

What’s To The Moon about?
Essentially we are scientists that manipulate the memories of dying people to grant them their last wishes. During To The Moon we’re trying to get into the head of John H. “Johnny” Wyles and get through a few hurdles to essentially convince him as a Child in his memories that he’ll become an astronaut so that his subsequent memories will be about him going to the Moon and stuff. During that time we find out about River, his wife, that died of a condition and we also learn some stuff about other things in Johnny’s past, resulting in a rather sad story with its comedic moments here and there as well as some weirder creepy moments.

1.
Let’s start with the big guns — at the completion of Act 1 — how do you now feel about the very concept of granting someone’s dying wish by overwriting their memories with new ones?

Short answer: Bullshit.
Long answer: Your life consists (from what I know so far) of bad moments and good moments. “The pain I feel now is the happiness I felt before”, and vice versa, right? After every down comes an up and another down. That’s just how things go. If you’ve hit rock-bottom at one point, you can’t get any lower, right?

Overwriting all of that crap at the end of your life would make your life itself meaningless and ultimately destroy the satisfaction you felt at the happy moments in your life. If all of your life went well, you can’t be truly satisfied after all.

Another angle at this would be a very long paragraph about how a wild pig would be better off than a pig in a pigsty. That long paragraph would actually have been longer than everything I’ve written up until now, in this post, so I’ve deleted it and uh… essentially: I’d rather suffer in the wild than die in a pigsty. I’d rather be satisfied after a lot of suffering than to die after having been only happy. Happiness and Satisfaction are two different things.

Naturally, all the people that you loved or that treated you well would be gone in your mind as well. All the people that died along the ride and that suffered with you would be gone. All the people that you disliked are gone as well. All the people that made you “you” are away as well. In the end, your memories would make all of those experiences, good and bad, be meaningless as they just get erased and as you die in some stupid dream while forgetting about your family, your friends, your dreams and your experiences, your wife and your kids, or whatever else you had good-experience-wise.

A COBRA?! DEVS, ARE YOU STUPID?! – I mean, I only kind of remembered the show and thought it was a lion but was then tricked into entering Tiger as I was doubting my memeory and as there was one extra line there… BUT COBRA?! WHAT?!

2.
What did you think of River’s choice to put her treatment behind that of Anya?

You may think that this one’s an obvious one as I made it somewhat clear in the earlier question but I’d rather die in the end than prolong my inevitable death even more. River could have gotten treated and then could have died in a horrible fire on the very next day. “Anya” will persist.
“Anya” is love, “Anya” is life.

But I guess, I’d rather have the funds for some expensive treatment that might now work go to something that will persist forever than prolong my life when I’m old and when I might kick the bucket in the next five years anyways. If I ever get to only live because of some stupid machine, then I’d rather have you cut the cord. (Or rather unplug it since the cord might be useful to someone else)

[Enter joke about lasagna here]

3.
In response to Neil commenting that it was like watching a train-wreck unfold, Eva says, “The ending isn’t any more important than the moments leading up to it.” Do you agree?

Yes, absolutely. Again, “the pain I feel now is the happiness I felt before”. Everything comes to an end eventually, so you might as well enjoy the ride up to that point.

A close friend of mine ended up with not wanting relationships for quite some time after her last break-up but then actually got to know someone who she was thinking of dating. I told her to go for it. If it goes wrong, it goes wrong. But if you don’t go for it, you’ll always end up with the “What if” and won’t even get the chance to get to those good moments.
“You miss 100% of the shots that you don’t take!”

In the end, it didn’t go well, since he was a dick but they wouldn’t have made the experience if they didn’t try. And they would not have experienced any of the good experiences if they never got together.

Know what you mean… I think!

4.
What did you make of Johnny’s decision not to read the book offered by Dr Lee?

Screw Johnny! If he cared about River he would’ve educated himself and tried to understand how she feels and what she’s going through. Instead of that, he decided not to read it, showing no interest at all but acting as if he does care later on when he’s with friends.

And later on, you find out that Johnny is a moron, to begin with since he got together with River, not out of love or anything like that, but for a reason that is a lot worse and a lot creepier than that. Honestly, just screw him!

Uh, but I guess that’s not what this question about:
“The Less I Know The Better”, right? So, I guess he didn’t want to know about it, trying to pretend that it doesn’t exist or that it will go away eventually. He tried to not read about it and not educate to not face the truth that the condition may get worse or that it may even kill River at some point.

In the end: He’s still a douche but I guess that was his reasoning behind it.

LFIE SAVER

5.
How do you feel about Johnny as a person now, particularly after he reveals why he (at least initially?) was interested in River?

Again, fuck Joey! Fuck him! Screw that guy. Joey is such a fucking weirdo.

I guess it’s understandable that you need to find someone interesting first before you can approach and get to know them. You won’t get to know someone if they are not on your radar. So, she got onto his radar since he’s weird… but uh… not like that.

Johnny aka “Joey” is just weird. Screw him!

Home Sweet Home…?

6.
We saw River’s obsession with origami rabbits very early in the pieceand some of the events that tracked back as a possible origin along the way. After Johnny told her about his initial motivations, it all kicked off. Neil thought it might’ve been River holding onto a grudge. What do you think?

Doubt it. I don’t think that you put on an “act” to fuck with someone and worry them sick if you love them. Even if Johnny is a weirdo and a creep and a jerk and a.. uh… where was I?

She probably still loved him and hence I doubt that it’s a grudge. In the next few arcs, there is probably some sort of revelation that she got traumatised by something and that Johnny did something worse than just that.

He’s a weirdo and a jerk after all… He’s a jerko! He must have done something wrong at one point and screwed her up that way… and maybe he just got traumatised by that as well and it got rid of it in his memories, too? Or there has been an accident in the past that lead to all of this later. After all, Nicolas also was alluding to something like that.

NOT AGAIN!

Either way, I hope you enjoy this post about my answers to these questions and my experience with To The Moon. I don’t usually play Point n Click games and I found the settings quite painful to set up… especially since you need to use Alt+Enter to get into Fullscreen and since there are no other video-settings… but the story is rather interesting so far and while it certainly is sad, it does have it’s comedic moments here and there, so that’s cool.

And mostly, I’m just excited to play a game again that I know nothing about. When I started playing Monster Hunter World, I already have seen a bunch of Monsters and currently, I’m a bit burned out with Iceborne since I know all the monsters right now… but since I have no clue about anything past the Fulgur Anjanath, I’m rather excited about that again. Having a true “blind” experience with certain games is just the best, in my opinion. Knowing what’s coming makes the game not necessarily less fun but it certainly loses a lot of its initial pull, so that’s a bit of a bummer, I’d say.

Anyways, I hope that y’all are having a great day! Have a nice one!

Cheers!

Indietail – RogueJack

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers!

I hate race/gender-locked classes

Today we talked about a lot of stuff on the Blaugust/Blapril discord. Among the discussed topics was World of Warcraft and how Tessa didn’t like it (while I, for instance, haven’t crossed path with WoW, yet, at all).

Easha then confirmed Tessa‘s discontent by mentioning how they don’t like the “Time, subscription model, graphics, faction wars, class-race-locks, Blizzard being Blizzard lately”…

…and I guess I can agree with a lot of it. The Graphics may not be my style, the subscription model is not to my liking either (though companies still have to earn money, I guess), and Blizzard can be quite Blizzard-ish which also isn’t to my liking… and while faction wars are kinda cool, I thought that all of these points are not exactly points that would make me play the game. Instead, they’d rather turn me off or scare me away. One of them, which I also hate in other games (Dadaaaaaaa! That transition though!) is what this post is about…

Gender or race locked classes!

I hate them.

Naturally. Intently. I don’t like a thing about them and I don’t know why they’d be a thing.

I guess, it makes sense when you’re playing as someone and you’re that person and that person is known for being that class and that gender… just like Link is male and a bit of a swordsman with a thing for gadgets… but overall it’s not that nice to lock people into one gender if they want to play a class or to lock people into a race if they want to play a different class.

Source in the link at “link is male” (see what I did there?)

Belghast has posted about this issue a while ago when he talked about the fact that he’s got this character of sorts that he likes to create in games and that he generally doesn’t really like it when that ability is not available in some games. I guess, you can still somewhat create a beard in Destiny when you’re playing as an Exo with the markings and stuff… but it’s still quite annoying. Check out his post btw as Bel really did a great job on that post!

Naithin also discussed the fact that your character is locked to being male in “Escape from Tarcov” because of (and I quote the devs) “lore reasons” and the “workload” and “time” it takes to create those female characters. At the same time, some other dev confirmed that it doesn’t take that much time at all – and even if it did it’d be worth it as you can approach a larger demographic like the guys online who enjoy playing as a female or the women who like to play as a female. I don’t get why it’s so hard to implement something like that without causing a shitstorm, after all, there are (apparently) female NPCs in the game lore as well and the devs apparently had time to program those but not the player models that other plays are going to see before you shoot a bullet through their eyes. (That’s how shooters work, right?)
Oh and check out Nait’s post on that. He did a great job, too, and I really enjoy his stuff (as you may be able to tell from all the times where I link him in my posts, lol)!

This is the Winterfield – a/the sniper from Blinx 2 (lovely game!)

In games, I generally enjoy the class-experience more than being able to play a character with the same gender as myself. I enjoy it when I can have a cute character in a game (be it a male or a female one). Sadly the male character models look really bad in a lot of older MMOs that I’ve played (at one point I did play Aura Kingdom and Guild Wars 2 and while these two are very different, they both feature bad male character models, so I obviously only had the choice to play a female character, lol). And that’s kind of how my name “Lizz Winterfield” came to be as Lizz is a cute name and as “Magimos” (older username of mine) didn’t really fit a female character… and Winterfield was the most “Human”-sounding last name I could think of in that game (also it’s my favourite gun in Blinx 2).

But a lot of games also feature classes that are locked to certain races on top of only being gender-locked. In Black Desert Online you can only be a female witch or a female fae and not a male one, which made it weird for me when I played the new Fae class on stream and realised that I can’t select to be male, despite the character model looking like a child. A male child would have been a lot less… uh…. weird for me on stream, compared to this small girl here.

“Titenda”, the little Fae character that I’m playing in BDO. 🙂

In TERA there is some class that you can’t pick if you’re the reptilian-looking race (if I remember correctly) and there are also other games where I encounter similar things, which I also didn’t really like.

It doesn’t help the player enjoy the game if you’re locked into a race or gender you don’t want to play when you want to play a certain class. It doesn’t help if you’ve got to play only certain classes and races if you want to be a certain gender. And if you want to be a certain race it doesn’t really help the player-experience if you’re locked into classes and genders that you don’t like.

It’s the trinity of “let players be who they want, it’s a fucking RPG, you dingus”.

But then again, new devs probably don’t read this and even if they did, why would they care about someone who had to play as a small kid when they only wanted to be a bard in an MMO.

Oh well, cheers I guess.

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!