Indietail – Kill It With Fire: Ignition

It’s springtime… for spiders… in Germany! (Uh, I hope nobody minds that reference…)

Yeah, spring has already kicked in with its sweet scent of flowers and lawns, with pollen flying through the air (I’m not bothered by it), wasps bothering me on my balcony, with sunny and rainy days and generally a forecast that leaves me wondering if I’m dressed too warm or too cold. It’s springtime! And you know what that means:
I’m getting spooked by our dear eight-legged friends and even now I’m constantly in a state of panic as the last spider was bigger than the other one… and as I hated it so much when it came down from the ceiling Mission Impossible style and nearly landed on my hat before I swatted it with a roundhouse kick against the wall and started burning down my flat… again…

But all jokes aside, I really hate spiders and ever since having gone to that spider convention nearby, my fear of spiders has been brought to new levels. Luckily, I haven’t encountered any of these critters in Winter… but now that it’s getting warm again, these spiders are crawling out of their holes again and I’m just not good at all with them. At my SO’s place, I was tasked to capture this horrifying creature with a glass and a piece of paper – after all my girlfriend’s flatmate is vegetarian and doesn’t want to shed any animal’s blood… so, I essentially did it but it took me ages to approach this monster and eventually release it into the wild… Meanwhile, the two spawns of hell that have shown themselves in my flat were not as lucky… they did suffer my full wrath on top of my barbaric YAWP as I smashed them with my house shoe of DOOM and then vacuumed them with my vacuum of FATALITY.

And essentially, that leads me to today’s game which goes by the title of “Kill it with Fire” or in case of this demo (the game has yet to release!) “Kill it with Fire: Ignition”! A game that I’d describe as a demolitionist’s wet dream that allows you to kill these ugly critters with a flamethrower, bombs, shurikens, a shotgun and essentially everything that is lying around in your house.

Developer: Casey Donnellan Games LLC
Publisher: tinyBuild
Genres: Casual, Indie, Action, Destruction, Simulation, 3D
Release Date (demo): April 28th, 2020
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC
Copy was available for free as it's a demo. 

At the beginning of the game, you’ll spawn into your low-poly-house and are tasked with picking up your vase and opening a few drawers but little did you know that a spider was awaiting you in a spot nearby to spook you! Naturally, you follow it into the living room where you find the clipboard. Not only does this weapon smash spiders but it also shows you your different tasks.

Oooooooooooooh!

From there on, you’ll essentially figure stuff out on your own. There are drawers that require you to complete tasks from your clipboard in order to unlock new weapons. There are doors that require a certain amount of spider kills in order to unlock more areas (with more weapons and more spiders) and eventually, you’ll end up causing more harm to your sweet home than to actual spiders.

The game constantly accompanies you with a piano track that reminds me of Untitled Goose Game in a lot of ways. When you’re close to spiders, however, you end up hearing a very dramatic and threatening track that reminds me quite a lot of the JAWS theme. Once you’ve actually killed monstrosity, you get to hear a nice little tune that further underlines the wonderful comedic nature of this game. Lovely!

I gave “hot tub” a new meaning.

The game also makes use of sounds to show you where the spiders are! They usually are hidden behind or underneath objects, so you’ve got find out about the general direction by either listening to the spiders’ sounds (which are utterly disgusting!) or by using the spider-tracker that you can also use to crush these ugly foes.

The art style is quite colourful and really seems to convey the feelings of this being a nice and family-friendly game, until you eventually see those disgusting spiders that are actually rather big and really terrifying. When they survive your initial hit, they usually speed up and become even more terrifying, which results in quite a lot of moments where I noticed myself jumping. While the game itself is quite entertaining, I noticed that I’d get startled rather often, which is not necessarily a bad thing. I really enjoyed this thrilling experience.

Still tidier than my room :c

But what about flaws? Well, the fact that there’re spiders in the game should be considered a flaw in itself… but as you are exterminating these hideous lifeforms from Earth’s face in the most drastic and absurd ways, I’d say that one may be able to look past that fact… Of course, if you like spiders, then this game may not be for you… and if you hate spiders like I do but you don’t want to get spooked by them, then you may not like this game either… but overall, I really enjoyed this game so far.

The demo did amuse me for about an hour, challenges included. After that, I stopped playing as the demo didn’t have to offer all that much more apart from these few weapons and two apartments. The full game will be available in Summer 2020 and I definitely recommend checking out this demo if you found this review entertaining. Also, you may consider wishlisting the game so that you get to know when it releases!

But for now, I wish you a wonderful day without any spider encounters in your homes and I hope that all of you stay safe.

Cheers!

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

Indietail – Among Ripples

In today’s Indietail, we’re looking at a short relaxing eco-system-management-game that is called Among Ripples. In this game, we control a pond’s ecosystem by adjusting the oxygen levels of the water, adding new creatures into the pond and seeing what happens.

Developer: Eat Create Sleep
Publisher: Eat Create Sleep
Genres: Free to Play, Casual, Simulation, Relaxing, Indie
Release Date: January 22, 2015
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC
Game is available on steam for free.

In the game, you spawn in Dace fish by clicking the spawning grounds in the middle of the lake bed, Perch fish by clicking on the spawning grounds on the left of the pond, Clams by clicking on the right spawning ground on the lake bed, Crayfish by clicking on the left spawning ground on the lake bed, Pike fish by clicking on the right spawning grounds, and finally the otter by clicking on the left reeds at the surface of the lake.

There’s a limit to how much you can spawn in at the same time. Once reached, you’ll have to wait until they either grow or die. While this is somewhat realistic as an eco-system cannot sustain itself if there are too many of just one species, I thought of it as rather bothersome as you couldn’t mess with the pond’s system by filling it all with just clams or just lobsters. That was kind of a let-down, to be honest.

By clicking and dragging the mouse to the left or the right, you can adjust the oxygen levels which affect algae growth but also affects each creature differently. Algae is the foundation of the food chain as the smallest fish usually feast on it while bigger fish feast one the smaller ones and so on. Oxygen levels also affect the life-span of the different species, although the otter seems to only be able to starve to death. He can’t suffocate as he’s never swimming to the surface and that’s just a bummer, I’d say. Of course, I find otters cute, and of course, I don’t want them to die but more or less I would have wanted some sort of realism. Otters that can’t find food migrate, for instance, and mammals that don’t have air, try to get it if that makes sense.

There is also some pollution in the lake, which is why you need to spawn in some clams here and there so that they can clear or rather filter the water. Clams seem to not like high oxygen-levels and are usually eaten by lobsters. Lobsters on the other hand also keep the ground clean as the dying fish create pollution of their own. It’s rather interesting to see these connections and to find out more about these animals, but I’m not too sure about the accuracy of these and honestly, I don’t care enough to research about it myself. Instead, it would have been quite nice if there was a toggle-able tooltip that explains what’s happening or what the different creatures do or what they like. Maybe it could have been some facts from different sources so that you learn more about these animals. Maybe there could have been a scientist-log where you discover different habits of the creatures.

For a simulation or a sandbox type, your options are rather limited in this game. You can’t spawn in too many creatures, you cannot speed up the game, you cannot spawn in any food of sorts to artificially grow columns of fishes or kill off the otter who’s eating everyone and everything. You cannot change the water temperature or add and remove plants from the pond. Instead, you’re given the task to “watch” the eco-system and “spawn creatures to see what happens” but there’s not much else to the gameplay, which is a bummer.

Other than that, the graphics are fine. Changing the settings doesn’t do much for you and doesn’t drop the framerate at all. The creatures and the environment are really pretty and seem to be hand-drawn which I applaud a lot.

The music is quite serene and fitting for the game. The devs promise a soundtrack that changes with the different seasons but there really isn’t much to it. The seasons aren’t noticeable at all and the music doesn’t change much. It’s more or less the same music but looped for the whole game. After listening to the same song for an hour, I can’t seem to get it out of my head, though that’s a bad thing in this case.

I think that Among Ripples is a game that you start for a few minutes, play around a bit, and then drop and uninstall later again. It’s free on steam and quite interesting at first but loses its replay-value eventually, which is a bummer. I think it’s worth trying out even though I don’t think that it’s to everyone’s liking. I played an hour of it in hope that the gameplay or my understanding of it gets changed dramatically as time passes but it honestly was more of a letdown, so while I reckon that it’s worth checking out (it’s free after all), I don’t really recommend it as there isn’t much to it.

As a side note, the Kickstarter campaign for Among Ripples: Shallow Waters has just started on the last Tuesday and seems to be quite promising. It looks like more of a Tycoon-type of game where you add plants and rocks to the pond, change the terrain, and work with other scientists in-game to rehabilitate lakes that have died out, have been polluted or even destroyed. You create families of fish and can spectate them in third-person. You will be able to research more tools and other species during the story-campaign for your mobile research-base.
While this first game seems to be more of a relaxing experiment, the second game seems to be a lot more ambitious and it’s actually something that I’d like to play.

Anyways, that’s it for today’s review. I hope you enjoyed this little dive into the pond. Check out the Kickstarter campaign if you want to or even support if you can spare a buck or two.

Cheers!

Indietail – Chinese Parents

Today we’re disappointing our parents! Not our real ones but our virtual Chinese parents! Today we’re taking a look at 中国式家长 / Chinese Parents, a casual Indie-Simulation where we become a random Chinese couple’s child, grow up and become a parent in the next generation – in hope of being better than our former parents!

Developer:  墨鱼玩游戏 (Moyuwan Games)Co
Publisher: Coconut Island Games
Genres: Casual, Simulation, Indie, RPG
Release Date:
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC
Copy was purchased.

As already mentioned, you are born into a Chinese family. The game follows a “Spore”-Esque gameplay formula in which you’re living through different stages of your life. At first, you’re a baby/newborn, then you enter kindergarten, different stages of school and later you need to get married to a partner you’ve met along the way which starts a new playthrough with a new generation where you’re a child again! 

Along the way you’re trying to accumulate different stats, knowledge, skills, and traits, while also making friends along the way, meeting your parents’ expectations (or not), working, participating in fights, competitions and other events as well as maybe even finding love. It’s a mishmash of way too many aspects of the Simulation-genre which results in an overall enjoyable experience

Yep, I called my character “nobody” in this playthrough.

To accumulate different stats, you need to play a little minigame in which you spend action-points to remove a variety of bubbles in different shapes and colours. The colours determine what stat these bubbles are raising. There are different stats that can be raised through these from Memory to Imagination to Constitution to IQ and some others. There are also bubbles that give you more knowledge which is needed to learn skills. Some bubbles cost more action points but have special effects like revealing the whole stat-map, giving you more action-points, collecting all bubbles of one colour or collecting the bubbles around it. There’re also bubbles that grant you more stats per round, which is quite neat, I’d say.

These stats determine whether or not you’re good at certain tasks like Sports (Constitution) or Arts (Imagination)! The other way of increasing them is by planning your schedule for the day. To do that you need to assign tasks that have to do with the skills you want to increase into a time-table. Most of the time these increase multiple stats but also increase your stress-level which has to be kept minimal by mixing in some entertainments into the schedule. If your stress-level increases too much, your character becomes anxious, depressed or may even die, which you don’t want to happen, right?

Once your time-table is all set, your stats increase and a new day starts with new events and more stuff to do!

Overall this gameplay loop would be quite repetitive if it wasn’t for different events that are occurring. Every now and then there are events that involve you and other people. Sometimes your dad comes home drunk and keeps shouting insults at you, other times you are rewarded with a flower from your kindergarten teacher and your imagination and mood becomes better.

By learning new skills and using them in your schedule, you unlock traits… but what are they for? 

Well, actually traits are for bragging rights. Your parents sometimes get involved in “Face Fights” with distant family members, neighbours and strangers. There they brag about their child to decrease the “enemy”‘s HP to win the fight. Your traits are basically your “attacks”, which I found quite hilarious. The rarer your trait is, the higher the damage! 

There are also talent shows called “China Got Trait!”, an obvious parody, where you show off your trait in order to earn better stats, some money and more “face”. 

So, your parents are quite proud of you when you unlock traits but what about the aforementioned expectations?

Now and then you are faced with a “mission” of sorts where you need to reach a certain amount of stat-points in a certain amount of turns or where you need to learn a certain skill. The race for that is quite interesting and I found it rather enjoyable to strive for appreciation and acceptance! For once, I tried to not disappoint my parents and most of the time, I failed. It takes at least two to three runs to figure out what to do in what order to achieve one’s goal in Chinese Parents. Hence, there’s a learning curve that I found rather enjoyable, too.

But enough of the gameplay, what about the presentation?

Overall it’s relatively simple. The art style makes use of meme-ish and toddler-like drawings for comedic relief while using a bright colour palette in most settings. Usually, you see one type of scenery per stage with your character in the middle of it. The character models also change in every run, which is quite interesting. Quite lovely, I’d say.

But then there’s the music and it’s… the same in all cases. Sometimes there’s a different tune mixed into the game here and there but overall you get to hear one tune over and over and over and over again and it might as well drive you into insanity. After around 4 hours of gameplay, I noticed that the music still hasn’t *really* changed and that the main theme is super obnoxious, resulting in me turning the music off and playing some other games’ soundtrack in the background. This was quite disappointing, as I had a blast playing the game overall. 

Chinese Parents is a casual game in its core.

You play it now and then but you don’t play it for too long. It’s not stressful. It’s rather relaxing. It’s a game you can return to whenever you feel like it. There are achievements that can be unlocked, as well as a few different careers you can go for and a treasure hunt to complete as well! 

I had a blast playing it as it plays with different stereotypes of (Chinese) parents and as it has this interesting art style and a lot of different funny moments. The events that seem to be procedurally generated also brighten your day whenever you play it, I’d say,…

and I’d say I recommend this game as well. 

Anyways, have a nice day and try to call your parents once in a while. I should try to do that more often, too. …

Indietail – The Bonfire: Forsaken Lands

In today’s Indietail, we’ll take a look at The Bonfire: Forsaken Landsa game that I bought for two bucks and while I really want to like it, there’s some flaws that I can’t overlook. Stay tuned for a review on The Bonfire: Forsaken Lands!

Developer: Xigma Games
Publisher: Xigma Games
Genres: 2D, Strategy, Survival, Simulation
Release Date: March 9th, 2018
Reviewed on: PC
Available for: PC, Androids, iOs
Copy was purchased

In The Bonfire, you’re a wanderer from distant lands who settles down and starts chopping some wood. There’s some background story to it but I haven’t really understood it for the past few playthroughs. The game has a few different menus: Actions, Build, Craft, Workers.

You’ve got one character that you control by selecting an action to do, like chopping wood to get some wood. This takes a lot of time, usually, but once you’ve managed to get your hands on a few pieces of wood (I guess), you’re able to build a Bonfire which then will attract wanderers that then can work for you. 

Good job! You can now attract other wanders!

In the Build-menu the different buildings, you’re able to build, are listed. That includes farms, mines, huts, and other buildings to get more resources and workers. Once you build the first buildings, the next ones are available. For instance, you need food at the beginning and therefore have to build a farm first to nurture your workers. Afterwards, you can build an Iron Mine to craft iron tools and improve your workers’ efficiency. After that, there’re sheep-herding, a tannery, coal mines, steelworks, a shipyard and other buildings for other jobs and resources.

Your additional workers can be assigned to different jobs via the workers-menu, while you still can work at the different places via action-menu. Workers will collect those materials automatically and bring them to your shed, one by one, day by day. Once they’re exhausted or once dusk arrives, they’ll head to the sheds or huts to go to sleep. During the night, you’re still able to work on your own since you apparently don’t need any sleep at all. 

After a bloody fight, I got to defend the village against the demonic beasts!

Here comes another mechanic into the game, though: During the night, monsters appear that try to kill your “villagers” aka workers. They range from wolves to giant spiders (ugh!) and even deer-monsters. After you managed to kill them, you’re able to skin them for leather, gems and other materials (it seems to be random). To combat these monsters at night, you can also make wanderers guard the village at night. When they’re guards, they can’t work during the day but will stay awake at night and fight the beasts. However, this requires you to craft a torch per guard. 

That’s where I’d like to introduce items. As already mentioned, there’s the crafting-menu where you’re able to craft items for your work-efficiency. By crafting a cart (10 wood), your workers can carry more resources before returning to the shed instead of getting, e.g., one wood, bringing it back to the shed, going back to the woods, chopping another piece of wood and repeat. Instead, they chop five pieces of wood before they return to empty their cart. There’s the torch for one piece of wood that is needed for guards. There are iron tools, later one, that improve the work speed and also allow you to clear paths to the coast. Later on, you’ll need to upgrade your guards’ gear, too, as the few guards, equipped with wooden spears and torches, won’t deal enough damage to the enemy hordes. Instead, you’ll give them iron or even steel swords and armour. 

What I really liked about the game was its simplicity and the fact that there are still a few mechanics that require strategy. The atmosphere is great and overall the game feels quite relaxed. You later unlock trading, research, dungeon crawling and now and then you even encounter mysterious wanderers that need food and tell you stories in return or reward you with equip. At some point, however, you notice the game’s flaws.

My town is growing!

For instance, you can’t upgrade the protagonist. You’re able to give carts, tools and armour to everyone else but not use those yourselves? At some point, you’re short on wood or iron or something else and you click on that “mine iron” or “chop wood” button to only bring back one wood or one iron each time, which gets quite annoying. You’re not able to click on some “repeat until” or “repeat forever” button and let it run on for a bit but instead have to click on that button again and again and again. Quite repetitive. Also you can’t work at the tannery or the coal mines or somewhere else and only are limited to three to five options.

And you can’t get more efficient at it. There are workers with different traits like “Strong”, “Honest”, “Wise”, “Quick Footwork”, “Hardworking”, and others but there is no explanation for those traits and there are no bad traits, either. Sure, hardworking is good for workers, I get that. Strong is really good for warriors (that don’t protect your town btw), brave is nice to have on guards but I have no clue if I’d rather have a wise or an honest trader. Also, in the beginning, I thought that “Quick Footwork” would make them walk faster, like in Grim Nights but it doesn’t. It seems like it’s just good for Scouts, which is quite disappointing, to be honest. 

Another flaw that I noticed was the material-list. You can’t move around the UI like in Banished at all and while the presentation of the game with its snowstorms and the snowy lands and all that is quite pretty, you sometimes can’t see your material list at all.  Having it on a grey or darker background and just on the side of the screen instead of the top half of your monitor, would have been quite smart and handy. Instead, at nights, I’ll just have to guess what resources I’ve got and what not. 

Here’s my shipyard and my coal mine but due to the stormy weather and all the fog, the white material list can’t be seen all that well. There’re occasions of snow storms that make it even worse to see and there are no ways to customize its colour or anything at all.

Speaking of the UI, changing jobs is a pain in the butt! You need a few different clicks in a menu that sometimes assignes jobs while you’re scrolling through the horizontal list of jobs. Afterwards you’ve got to re-asign stuff like pickaxes, carts, axes and other items. It would’ve been better if they just autoassigned those.

There are also other UI-choices that I can’t really support like the dungeon crawling having the retreat-button on the left, even when you’re travelling from right to left (which in my brain doesn’t make sense, leading to me pressing on “retreat” instead of “forward”, hence leaving a dungeon instead of proceeding).

The sound-design is horrible, too. The music is the same track all over again on days and a different one for combat. Sound and Music are often way too loud but you’re only able to turn it on or off in the settings. Once dusk arrives, you’ve got some time to work, still, before the beasts of the nights let out their demonic screech and visit your village for some tea with blood and sugar, as well as some villager-scones. That screech is even louder than the usual sounds. It’s so badly mixed that it’s too loud, even with it turned to the lowest settings in my windows sound mixer. 

And for disclaimer purposes, I’d like to say that I don’t want to trash the game or anything but I personally find these flaws so annoying that I don’t really want to play the game for more than an hour or two..
When I bought the game, it was only 2€ but they raised it to ten bucks now, which is outrageous for a game with only three hours worth of gameplay and this many flaws. I still enjoyed the game for a bit for its “city-building”-aspects, I guess, but I would never have bought it for the ten bucks it costs now. It has its good sides but there’re some aspects and flaws that I can’t overlook when it comes to a review like this.

The dungeon crawling – “Retreat” shouldn’t be on the left when you’re moving “forward” to the left, in my opinion. Other than that quite interesting..

So, in the end, I can’t recommend this game at full price.

If you’re in it for the experience, wait for a sale to come and buy it for two bucks or so. And, as I said, I want to like the game but I can’t fully recommend it because of the poor execution, the horrible sound issues, the repetitive gameplay, the bad boss-fight at the end (that I haven’t even touched here btw) and all that.

BUT the sequel is in the works and it’s going for a rather isometric style with a different UI and some more city building-like aspects. From what I’ve seen it looks a lot better and less problematic, hence, I’m quite interested in that one and will probably do a review on that, too. I don’t want to bash that one but the dev seems to be quite excited about that one, too.

Anyways, have a nice one!