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!

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!

Looking out for “Automaton”

Another interesting title that caught my eye during the Steam Game Festival (Summer Edition) was Cicle Interactive’s “Automaton”, which is planned to be released on August 3rd 2020! It’s a Puzzle-Adventure set in a post-apocalyptic desert world where a small little robot ventures out in search for fuel. You explore abandoned bunkers, stations and other facilities, solving puzzles, in a quest to find out what that thing was that fell from the sky. 

When I started this game up, I saw a lot of potential in it!

Similar to NieR: Automata, Automaton features mixed third-person mechanics and 2D perspectives on top of vast open areas, which I find rather cool. You go from one landmark to another, only limited by the fuel reserves that shut you down when you run empty. There is little to no introduction into the game and little to no hand-holding. The game leaves you be, similar to thatgamecompany’s Journey where you also only orient yourself through different eyecatchers and landmarks that you see in the distance. 

The world is really pretty, the protagonist is insanely adorable (a common theme at this point) and the soundtrack is just astonishing so far! 

The only issues I have with the game are the fuel-mechanic itself. While limiting your access to the World with that mechanic is rather interesting and quite innovative, I find it a bit harsh on the player and flat-out frustrating to have the player die and start anew. A checkpoint here or there would have been really appreciated – but maybe that’s something that’s a thing in the full release. 

Automaton will come out on August 3rd, 2020. Check it out yourself or wishlist/follow it on Steam if you’re intrigued by this little piece. 🙂

Cheers!

Looking out for “For the People”

By now the Steam Game Festival has already ended, but fear not! There will be more posts about the demos that I played! Alas, this post is about For the People – a game about time management and political choices. We take control of the newly appointed mayor of Iron-1, Francis Rivers, who has to try to appease all kinds of different parties from the working class to the military to other people that don’t just seem to get along.

Brezg Studio describes it as an “acute social novel with strategic elements”, which honestly fits really well as you sign documents, make difficult choices, appoint agents for different missions to deal with certain tasks, on top of managing all kinds of appointments, tasks and, at last, more paperwork.

You need to manage your time efficiently while also strategically distributing resources to the people in order to earn their trust and increase your influence over them. Of course, you can’t please everyone. I tried to do that… but it just seems as if you’ve got to take some sides here and there, which obviously results in the displeasure of other parties.

In my case, I ended up trying to provide sufficient healthcare to everyone, no matter their race, gender or class, but I couldn’t appease the military force or the fire force who were in need of resources. I also made some difficult decisions here and there where I denied funds to some people who would obviously abuse them for some bad things… meanwhile other times, I made the wrong choice and accepted proposals that were based on lies and misinformation.

It all comes down to this: You can’t do everything right. You can’t appease everyone. Just go your way and see what happens!

There are five different endings in the full game, although the demo only lets you play through the first few days, so I couldn’t really see what’s going to happen. I’m quite excited about how it all plays out. I’d love to see if there are any possible romance options as well, since I kind of ship Francis with our assistant, Helen.

And then there’s the style. It’s just insanely great. You’ve got these visual novel style cutscenes here and there with incredibly stylized moments in the next scene and cuts to different points in time, which I found rather impressive for a small studio’s first game!
My explanation of all of this probably doesn’t make much sense unless you see it for yourself, so to make it easier to understand: The presentation is great. Just go see for yourself!

And then there’s the soundtrack. It was great! Yeah, I can’t really describe it too well, either…

Honestly, I’m really excited about this game. It kind of reminded me of “Papers, Please” and “Through the Darkest of Times” as well as (potentially) “Beholder”. All lovely games and all so unique that TtDoT probably fits the most style-wise and theme-wise, though the other games may fit more choice-wise and gameplay-wise.

Either way, this is a game that I’ve got wishlisted for sure. The Release Date (2020) is relatively unspecific, so I just hope that it arrives soon!

Looking out for “Critters for Sale”

Critters for Sale is… interesting. It’s a weird and mesmerizing experience. I don’t exactly know what drew me to it when I saw it on the demo page but without really knowing anything about it, I installed it and started it up only to find myself in some surreal ride full of events that I’m not sure I really comprehend.

“Experience death from the comfort of your seat”, the Store description says. Sonoshee, the dev behind Critters for Sale, is also known for Rym 9000 but apart from the equally mesmerizing soundtrack and some weird symbols here and there, I couldn’t really draw a connection between the two games at all.

Critters for Sale is a text-based Noir Adventure… I think?

It features Gore and Violence on top of a lot of different symbols and metaphors as well as a story that I’m not quite following at this point in time. The demo lasts about 13 minutes as you play until a certain point of time of the first chapter, “Snake”. You play as Sergei, a taxi-driver, who gets messaged by… Michael Jackson? You’re supposed to come to the Limelight Club that is nearby.

Do you get out of the comfort of your bed or do you stay asleep? Do you take the bait or do you stay paranoid? Do you believe the man who’s looking like Michael Jackson? Do you listen to his crazy story of the future and your connection… or do you doubt it all and throw it all away? And what do you make of the weird sculptures and the people in the club?

It’s honestly a wild ride from start to end.

The sounds, the music, the aesthetic… it’s just insanely mysterious, mesmerizing and weirdly alluring. The different parts of the screen feel satisfying to click on. There are different parts and different ways to go through the story. You may leave the club early? You may find some interesting new detail? Who knows?

It’s sinister and grainy. It’s weird and grotesque. It’s unhinged and… I’m not sure but I think free describes it quite well? It doesn’t try to be overly scary or funny or dark or sad. It just does its thing. It’s not too sad, it’s not too funny. The game’s doing it right without trying too hard.

Critters for Sale looked “interesting” but caught me off-guard as I expected nothing and was flat-out overwhelmed.

I’m not sure what to say about it all. I love it. I’m excited. I’m hyped. I wanna play more. I wanna see where this goes. I want it now… but it’s getting released in 2021, so I guess we’ll have to wait for that…

If you don’t mind a little gore and a little violence… check this title out. Wishlist it on steam. Follow the game’s development. Check it out on itch.io as well! Definitely recommended!

Looking out for “Starmancer”

Starmancer looked like the closest thing to any of the games that I’m usually enjoying and all the demos I’ve seen on the Steam Game Festival. It’s getting published by Chucklefish which fits most of my favourite games… it’s a strategy, base-building simulation game based in Space and you essentially play as a powerful A.I. who’s controlling a base while researching, expanding and upgrading everything.

You try to survive starvation, sabotage and other threats – and worst case, you’ll just regrow your humans.

Developer: Ominux Games
Publisher: Chucklefish
Release Date: "Coming Soon"
Genres: Simulation, Strategy, Base-Building, Space, Indie

The idea of either “following protocol or going rogue” was really interesting to me, so I thought I’d give Ominux Games’ “Starmancer” a shot and I’m pleasantly surprised.

That’s us!

You start up with researching some technologies and building up biomass synthesizers that fuel your production and are essential for your success. You then link up your machines with pipes and wires while managing your colonists.

You send out humans on missions, make money and advance your production further to ensure a happy life to your colonists.
The full game will feature diplomacy, exploration, and modding support as well as the features that are already in available in the demo like personal relationships, memories, rumours, jobs, unique colonists, procedural generation, Insanity and Mutiny.

All beginning is hard!

All the good stuff!

The demo features 60 minutes of gameplay, although you may restart it whenever you want. You’re also granted a lot of starting money for the sake of exploration, as well as unlocked misc items to ensure your colonists’ happiness.

It all plays surprisingly well for an Alpha. There are no bugs from what I’ve seen, yet, and the mechanics work rather well. I still need to create a successful colony to date as I’m always failing in the worst possible way.
In one run, one of my colonists started picking fights with everyone as they were hungry. This lead to them making enemies out of everyone and eventually it started to pick fights with all the other colonists (who were all pacifists), resulting in two dead and one living colonist.

Charistmatic but disgusting? Also an aggressive douchebag? Ah, whatever!

I wanted to revive both colonists but sadly the mad one also turned into a cannibal and started eating them while having this urge of bloodlust… So, I had to starve the mad cannibal out until I could regrow the other ones. Starving her out didn’t work out well… So then I just vented the oxygen into space, so that she suffocates and dies that way. That worked.

When I generated more oxygen a fire started spreading and destroyed the human growth machine, resulting in no way for me to grow more and alas one run ending.

In the next one, I ran out of money and had no way to recover… and in a different one, I ran out of time and had to restart the demo as I played it for yet another hour.

So, I guess, you could say that I had a blast! I really enjoyed this game. I’d describe it as a mix of Oxygen Not Included and RimWorld.

Not again!

I really liked the fact that your colonists can get better at the jobs they’re doing which would then unlock more research options and alas more blueprints and items! I would have liked it a tad more if I had a better way to see the colonists happiness and if there were more ways to increase their happiness, like giving them some rest here and there or even changing their schedule completely.

So, this is essentially a winner. I’m really looking forward to the full release which is “coming soon”.

Realm of the mad cannibal!

Wishlist it and get notified when it comes out! The Alpha Demo is also still available for download on Steam, so try it out if you want to! 🙂

Looking out for “RoboCo”

I used to be a waiter, as I previously mentioned a couple of times, and, well,… I wasn’t all that great at it. I wasn’t the fastest but I cared about my guests. Sometimes I wished I could have hit “space” and restarted, only to add some extra servos, wheels and hinges… maybe some blocks here and there… and to top it off… a moustache. A glorious moustache! But I can’t just do that unless I hop into RoboCo, the cute little Robot-Building Physics game where we build adorable little robot waiters and stuff!

Filament Games did a great job with this one. They really did! There is only one challenge in the demo and it’s about serving a sandwich to a guest. Yep, that’s right! We have ONE job! Are we going to fail it? We’ll see.

When I started the game, I already an idea of how I wanted my robot to look like. He’d be rolling around on one wheel or a small platform with a few wheels while only being held up by one rod to which his body is attached to. He’d also be very classy and demand tips for his services.

Naturally, I started building and already had to realise that not only it’s hard to manoeuvre around on only two wheels… but it’s also hard to stop with four wheels only, so I need to do some balancing… or find a different solution!

I present to you: My solution! Four extendable pistons that essentially stop us from falling onto the ground… we always fall at an angle and get to get up again. While this worked well as a solution, I couldn’t figure out how to assign controls… until much later! Alas, I could have also used four rods for this instead… or one in the front and one in the back. Oh well!
Sadly, the plate breaks when it falls onto the pistons, resulting in property damage, which is always tough to deal with as a waiter… be it as a human or as a robot.

Next up, I added two arms to the robot to make him look friendly… on top of adding a platform of soft blocks to his pistons… These essentially catch the plate but in case of falling, the plate would get smashed, too, so I ended up spacing out the wheels a bit for a stable ride… which rendered the pistons useless but whatever.

Since the “plate” was a tad low, though, it couldn’t reach the table… Furthermore, the plate with the sandwich would constantly be on the verge of shattering and/or falling, hence ruining our chance to get a tip! Alas, I had to take some actions to tackle both of these issues.

My solution? First up, we’ve got a piston that moves the soft tablet up and down, using Q and E, to adjust to the table’s height. The tablet also features an increase at the back of it, so that it doesn’t fall off the tablet before reaching the goal. Alas, there was still the problem of softly placing it down, so I added a rotating part to the tablet that would then softly tilt the tablet using I and K. This way we could ensure that we’re able to balance out the tablet while walking to the table… all while also ensuring that we can slowly drop off the plate with the sandwich UPRIGHT on the plate and without touching the table. This ended up only requiring one arm, so we built a second arm in the same anatomically correct fashion. It features the HANDinator-1337™!


Before we proceed with the end of the demo-challenge, I’d like to talk about my overall impressions:

The game is insanely cute and derpy featuring all kinds of cute little details and customizability-options. The demo let me build up this robot however I wanted. I got a bunch of blocks, wheels, hinges, motors and other objects to construct this beautiful lad here. The technical side of things is a bit hard to approach at first… but once you try some stuff out, you get the bigger picture of how things work.

The game was a ton of fun (the fact that I spend more than an hour building up this waiter-bot should testify for that) and the music and style are quite pleasant as well, which results in a great experience overall. Worth checking out! I’m going to wishlist this one! 🙂 It’s coming soon as well, so that’s a pleasure!


And here we are… after nearly two hours of work done on this robot… we created a lovely waiter, able to catch, deliver and place a sandwich without any problems. The guest, as you can see, is terrified about the fact that his sandwich could fall any minute…

But in the end, it all worked out! Hooray! Eureka!

Now, pay me. Thank you.

I’m serious.

Looking out for “Occupy Mars: Prologue”

I’ve always been fascinated by space and games that play in space. Landing on some planet, starting colonies, all that good stuff. Surviving Mars is a great game, Kerbal Space Program is something I wanna be good at, and well,… today’s Demo: “Occupy Mars: Prologue” by Pyramid Games is something I want to like…

You are on Mars, duh.

You have your tools and your rover. You build and upgrade your base, discover new regions, conduct mining operations, retrieve water and generate oxygen while growing plants and doing your best to colonize Mars. You try to make living on Mars possible, step by step. I love the premise.

It’s a highly technical, open-world, sandbox, survival game that really scratches that itch that other games have scratched in the past.

It’s got a day/night cycle and makes use of mainly solar power. You also try to fix broken parts using highly realistic mechanics like SMD, smoldering, hot-air and electronic measurements, fixing cables and platines and stuff.

I’m getting “The Martian” vibes from this game, which is really neat in a way. I really like the idea of ultimately trying to create an atmosphere on Mars using Mars.

Buuuut… it’s super janky. I struggled for ten minutes to try and pick up a rock with the rover’s crane. Some cables that you unplug or pick up, vanish into the ground, rendering the game broken sometimes. It’s only a demo and the game will start out in Early Access as well but I feel like some of the “realism” is harming the experience as you are trying to lift a rock or getting those ores while your oxygen, food and hydration meters are emptying over time, threatening your survival… I feel like some guide rails would be really helpful.

We’ll see if that changes in the actual game.

I guess I’d tune in for the finished game but I wouldn’t enjoy an EA-phase where the game breaks itself. I feel like the intent and the premise are there but they don’t necessarily are just “good enough” at this point. Alas, I’ve got it on my wishlist, waiting for possibly the full release… and then I might pick it up and review it… or I might not, judging from other people’s response to it.

This person rips off Indie Devs and gets away with it on Steam

There are good games out there… and there are bad ones… and then there are people that develop games for the sake of trolling others, wasting their time and money while ripping off other developers’ content and making a quick buck off it without getting any repercussions at all from Valve’s side.

This post features no images as I don't want to post pictures of stolen character models on here. Hope you understand that. 

Recently Krikket mentioned “Streamer Life Simulator”, so I thought I’d check out this game that seems to be a complete Trainwreck and just utterly horrible. Apparently, the gameplay is kind of okay (there’s not much there) but I wanted to write about something else in this post:
The dev is a “bad person”.

Cheesecake Dev is a publisher and developer who barely puts games together only to sell them for a few bucks on Steam. On their page you can find titles like “Skinny”, “The Momo Game”, “Grandpa”, “Who Is This Man”, “Yanpai Simulator”, and “Kick The Anime Simulator”.

Skinny, The Momo Game and Grandpa are being described as horror games but apparently feature little to no gameplay while also having tons of issues and bugs that won’t get fixed at all. The worst thing about these titles though is that it just blatantly rips of assets from other games and from different Steam Workshops without ever crediting the original creators.

This seems to be a common theme among the Cheesecake Dev games as Yanpai Simulator and Kick the Anime Simulator also feature assets that are plainly ripped off other games. Yanpai Simulator is flat out stealing the female character model of Yandere Simulator while also blatantly mocking the name. On top of that, it’s supposed to also feature similar gameplay, although it seems to be pretty much broken, judging from the reviews.

And then there’s Kick the Anime Simulator where you throw knives at female anime characters in a test arena that is, essentially, the whole game. In this case, I’m not complaining about the length of the game: After all, I didn’t buy any of these games and I wouldn’t expect much more for not even two bucks… I’m rather complaining about the downright offensive and misogynistic premise of somewhat brutally attacking and killing female characters. Sure, it’s “just” anime characters but if a game like “Rape Day” gets (rightfully) removed from Steam for being an obvious troll game that is just offensive, this one shouldn’t be on Steam either. And I’m not saying that it’s an “either both get removed or both stay” situation – I’m saying that stuff like “Rape Day” should not be on Steam and that this game has to get removed as well… if not for the misogynistic premise, then at least for the copyright infringements.

And since the developer’s and publisher’s names all link to Cheesecake Dev’s page on all of these games’ store pages, I’m not even sure how this stuff stays on Steam. Surely, there’s a report-function, right? Or did Cheesecake Dev manage to outwit the system by somehow changing their name each time to stuff like “lol” or other bs?

So, at last, I’d say: Please stay away from this dev and support the original content creators instead of giving money (even jokingly) to someone who steals content in such an obvious way. If you’ve got the time, report them as well. I feel like that’s something more people should do, for obvious reasons. We don’t want stuff like “Rape Day” to surface Steam again or something like “Beating Black People Simulator” or “Killing Trains People Simulator” to appear…

The Steam Game Festival!

As a blogger who’s kind of focused around indie games and new releases as well as reviews, I always am on the search for new titles that are coming up and worth checking out or writing about. Alas, the Steam Game Festival, Summer Edition, has been a great opportunity for me to do just that: Play games that are coming out and write about things that are worth checking out.

Sadly, due to real-life obligations, I didn’t quite get the chance to do that just yet, although I did download plenty of demos. In the next few days to weeks, I’ll post about my experiences with these demos and will recommend stuff based on my first impressions in this category… The Lookout Post!

Overall, I’ve got to say that there are a lot of titles that I already played in the past from Ovid Studio’s “Metamorphosis” to TwiceDifferent’s “Ring of Pain”… But I also got my eye on a lot of new titles that I’ve been eyeing for the last couple of months, which is rather exciting. I’m really looking forward to the experience and the first impressions that I’ll be able to collect. I still haven’t really figured out how I’ll tackle these posts but it’s going to be exciting regardless of the posts’ form.

Apart from that I also have three posts on Drake Hollow planned, which should come out sometime soon. There will be an interview with the devs, once I’ve figured out what questions to throw out and which ones to keep. There will be a general informational post on the game… as well as an Indietail-Review once it’s out! So, stay tuned for that!

Cheers!