Indietail – Breathedge

After your grandfather’s funeral ship crashed, you’re stranded in space. Just you, your immortal chicken and an AI/board computer that tells way too many jokes. Welcome to Breathedge, the “ironic space survival game” by Redruins Softwork that is releasing its version 1.0 today! I’ve been playing it on and off ever since it came out in Early Access two years and a bit more ago… and as time went on, I really wanted to like but… you’ll see.

Developer: RedRuins Softworks
Publisher: HypeTrain Digital
Genre: Open World, Survival, Space, Sci-Fi, Adventure, Sandbox
Release Date: February 25th, 2021
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC
Copy was purchased.

In Breathedge, you’ve got to survive hunger, thirst, radiation, freezing temperatures and the lack of oxygen in outer space. Easy enough. Throughout your playthrough, you’ll find resources floating around that you then can craft into tools and equipment to venture further into space or to access new types of resources, such as rubber, lead or paint. Your goal is first and foremost survival… but you also want to get to safety, which is why you’ll have to find ways to reach distant points of interest, such as an extraction point that is way too far away.

In the beginning, your oxygen reserves are limited. When you venture out from your shipwreck, you’ll find yourself quickly running out of oxygen, which is why you’ll have to come back to your ship and replenish your reserves. While this is somewhat interesting, especially with the fluid and fun movement in space, it also makes things rather tedious. Collecting resources and having to come back to base every time you run out of oxygen is annoying and while I get that resource gathering is key in these type of games… I don’t see a point in tool durability and having to craft a completely new drill whenever its durability/battery runs out… It’s quite maddening, to say the least.

Eventually, you’ll venture out and find the blueprint for the oxygen station that you can then use to set up balloons that you can refill your oxygen at, making the journey and resource gathering less annoying. You’ll also craft other upgrades for your suit to withstand the radiation or to increase your oxygen reserves, but generally speaking, I feel like it all is more leaning into the annoying to the tedious side of things instead of actually adding value to the experience. The upgrades you can get for your tools merely function as some sort of band-aid that lessens the frustration… but it is not enough, in my opinion. Getting rid of the durability mechanic completely would have made the game more enjoyable in the early stages. As mentioned before, you’ll also need to watch out for your food and hydration, which is standard-survival-stuff… Breathedge doesn’t completely re-invent the wheel or the formula for survival with these mechanics. It just does things because other games did the same things, which isn’t very exciting.

Now, where Breathedge truly shines is actually the exploration and the presentation. As far as exploration goes, you’ll find different wrecks of different spaceships floating around, functioning as eye-catchers that will allow you to pin-point more points of interest. Your oxygen reserves are, as mentioned before, limited, so you’ll need to test your limits, find something good to utilize in your next exploration attempts, and get back to base. Slowly, you’ll learn where to find different resources and where you have to go later once you have more oxygen available. It is very much a trial and error kind of thing but I personally felt as if it was rather interesting and somewhat innovative… until I realised that Subnautica and other games did it before as well.

As far as the presentation goes, Breathedge delivers really well. The art style is rather pretty, outer space looks amazing, and eventually, you’ll unlock base-building and you’ll be able to add windows to stare out into the void… which is just beautiful when you play with the highest settings. The soundtrack features some interesting tracks… and some rather pretty tracks… all in all rather satisfying… if it weren’t for the AI thing that narrates your journey.

Now, I’ll have to mention that the developers label the game as an “ironic” space-survival game. See it as Subnautica… but less serious. You’ll find yourself in a setting that is truly difficult to handle with depleting resources and oxygen troubles… but the AI that accompanies you constantly mocks the game and tropes of the Survival genre and the gaming industry, resulting in the whole setting being rather laughable. The plot itself is somewhat presentable and fun… but the AI makes it feel less enjoyable by constantly cracking jokes at anything and everything. Breathedge opens with a message about how the game is just trying to entertain and how it doesn’t want to offend anyone… but… the jokes are hit or miss.

Most of the jokes that the AI tells you or that you encounter in the game are seriously offensive and inappropriate. There are some good ones here and there with references to Mass Effect or other games… There are jabs that the game takes at other games but generally speaking, you’ll find yourself trying to ignore the jokes as much as possible. The notice at the beginning references some real offensive and inappropriate jokes in the game that aren’t fun or anything. I’m alright with explicit or even some more offensive humour if it’s within certain borders (“haha, like East Germany in”… Okay, I’ll stop.) but this game is just trying too hard to be offensive and thinks that it’s alright to do so if you mention it at the beginning of the game. At one point, I found the game making fun of men that wear makeup while at another part the game makes fun of “libtards”… Generally, I didn’t enjoy a lot of the jokes because they were tasteless or silly. Crafting an accelerator powered by farts is something that grade-schoolers would laugh at but they are hardly the target audience of the game.

Apart from that the game also suffers from pacing. You’ll find yourself held hostage and interrogated by coffin-robots that want you to tell everything that happens but as time goes on, you completely forget about it, which is just… weird. The resource grinding, the durability of tools, the constant trips back and forth for oxygen, food and water,… there are so many things that slow you down considerably and it makes the game just feel very slow to the point where you lose interest in playing more of it. When you die, you’ll have to pray that there was an auto-save an hour ago or something, or you’ll quickly end up ragequitting because of all the progress you lost. Alas, I just save every few minutes in case something happens that makes me want to reload the save again… or in case I die… and all in all, I really wanna like the game but it’s just not that fun unless you only play it on and off…

And again, the game is trying so hard to be like other games but also not be like other games. I feel like they could have tried out more innovative ideas regarding food and oxygen or other mechanics of the game. Breathedge frankly only goes where other games have gone before and it doesn’t really try to do things differently or be crazy and creative around its systems. It’s only a small step for the gaming industry but a big step for this Indie Studio. I mean, RedRuins Softworks are a Russian studio whose first project, Breathedge, has gained a lot of

Hope you enjoyed this post. It’s a bummer that the game has so many shortcomings and I kind of enjoyed it after ignoring the jokes… but I just feel like I can’t get into it for too long unless I take some long breaks in-between sessions. Oh well…

Cheers!

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

The Greydwarf Incident in Valheim

So, for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been chilling in some discord calls with people that have been playing Valheim… and eventually, I got it myself… and then I started playing and immediately understood, why it’s so hyped right now.

Alas, I wanted to talk about my experience and that one fated Greydwarf Incident.

Odin essentially sealed some baddies in the 10th world and noticed that they have been gaining power again, which is why he also sent us (and other Vikings from Valhalla) down to Valheim, the 10th world. In an attempt to get back to Valhalla, we now have to forage, craft, farm, build, and fight ourselves through the world to get stronger and kill those aforementioned baddies. Hugins, the raven Odin sent, is also there to guide us, and I think that summarises the story quite well. The game overall feels quite good. I am having a lot of fun with it right now.

Honestly, I love how you can improve your skills by actually doing things. Running a lot lets you increase that skill reducing the stamina used, while jumping a lot makes you jump higher. Attacking things increases the damage you deal with the spear, knife, axe, club, your fists, or whatever weapon you’re choosing. There are a lot of different skills and it kind of reminds me of Runescape in a way… in a good way, I should say. Progress is tied to the achievements you get. Fighting the first boss means you’ll gain access to the pickaxe that allows you to farm resources such as copper and iron in some areas. To get there, I need to gear up and also find a deer trophy to activate the boss fight. I’ve been playing for 6.7 hours (but mostly have been buildings things, to be honest) and I already got some deer hides and trophies thanks to my trusty spear-throws. The issue is that I need more leather scraps for the tanning rack to unlock even better recipes. On top of that, I need to hunt more deer to get those leather tunics, etc., which are going to be a solid upgrade to the rags I’ve thrown over myself. Currently, I’m wielding a spear and a tower shield most of the time, although I sometimes go for the axe in fights instead when I’m dealing with skeletons, for instance, that attack rather slowly.

After settling on a nice spot over here as well and building up two beehives, a nice little hut and a warehouse, I’ve decided to explore a little bit upwards. My seed “DrPepper” features a black forest to the north with some very interesting areas. For starters, there is a dungeon there filled with skeletons… and they don’t like me which is weird since I’m a lich IRL… but whatever. Otherwise, I found some ruins with loot and skeletons as well as some other structures that looked interesting. Upon further investigation, I was swarmed by a bunch of Greydwarfs as well as a Greydwarf Shaman. Among the Greydwarfs were a bunch of red ones as well as a lot of blue ones. I decided to do my best and block off any incoming attacks to increase my blocking-skill. It levelled up to Level 10, which was nice, but I sadly also got hit a bunch by rocks thrown from afar. The Greydwarf Shaman was fairly tanky and was spreading a lot of poison around that only seemed to harm me. On top of that, the Shaman was able to heal his allies by spreading spores upwards. The heals are coming in seemingly endlessly while my food is running low, alas, I decide to block and slowly crawl backwards. 

My kiting attempts and the occasional rolls actually worked out rather well, allowing me to get quite close to my base in no time with no further hitpoints lost. The Shaman seemed to protect something, which is why he stayed near that area. Alas, I ended up finishing off the small fry by stabbing my spear into them whenever they decided to turn their backs on me. At the same, I’d block all other attacks and eventually finish them off one by one. At last, I regenerated some health when the greed came over me. “Oh, Odin!”, I said. “Forgive me for straying from this path and not getting rid of these foes first. I decided to run but I shall run no more!” My flatmate probably heard my prayers and alas decided to knock on the door to ask if I was okay. “Uh, I was quoting something in class”, I said and he shrugged it off. “But Odin, I shall run no more and I shall rid this earth of these foes”, I continued, before heading back to the Shaman. The Shaman, now alone, posed no threat to me as I was able to roll away when he spread his poison while landing a few rather strong hits with my spear whenever he used his heal spell. He fell in no time and dropped nothing of importance. The chest he was guarding featured some gold and feathers as well as some Amber, but again, nothing major. Alas, I decided to explore more before stumbling across a Greydwarf nest. I struck it down and got rid of the remaining Greydwarfs only to notice that the nest here happened to drop an Ancient Seed, which according to a friend is required to summon the second boss. I held onto it tightly as I travelled back. Pressing it against my ear, lets me hear whispers. This shall be useful. “I shall burn their young and obtain their power”, I say, “but first I need to strike down Eikthyr.”

So, I basically need to gear up some more, prepare the area around the boss by chopping down some of the trees, and then I need to summon it in order to progress some more. I think I’ll leave that for the next post on Valheim. I’ve been enjoying this game quite a bit and since other bloggers have been posting about it recently, including Wilhelm, I’ve been meaning to make some progress so that I don’t spoil myself too much when I read their posts. 

Have you been getting into Valheim? If so, how are you liking it? I personally am enjoying it but I’ve noticed that it is somewhat poorly optimised. It is pretty but a bit rough around the edges. The issue I’ve been having is that it does use up a lot of CPU from my Computer, meaning that I probably won’t be able to stream it. Hope they fix that soon. 

Cheers!

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

Indietail – Yuppie Psycho

I remember my first day at work as if it was yesterday. It wasn’t at some weird office job with construction going on or whatever but in an old mill that got transformed into a restaurant. I wanted to make a quick buck by working as a waiter on top of getting some experience in. I got the job immediately but it caused me a lot of anxiety having to start in a new environment. This sense of anxiety got even worse when my coworkers would bark at me for no reason while an Irish man called me a “fish out of water”. And while I’d never like to get back to that sort of anxiety again, I thought I’d dive into the corporate horror that Yuppie Psycho presents us with.

Developer: Baroque Decay
Publisher: Neon Doctrine (formerly known as Another Indie)
Genre: Survival, Horror, 2D, Stealth
Release Date: April 25th, 2019
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC, Switch
Copy was purchased.

Yuppie Psycho is a Survival Horror Game developed by Baroque Decay where we take control of Brian Pasternack who is about to start his first day at Sintracorp. “Uncertain, unprepared, and massively unqualified” we’ll try to rise and shine in Sintracorp’s hierarchy. Our first assignment? Kill the witch that is influencing the workers around here in a negative way.

In Sintracorp, there are no supervisors! Do whatever you want to! Work whenever you want to! Explore the area whenever you want to! Yuppie Psycho doesn’t really give you instructions but hints you at directions. In the beginning, you need to find the Hexenhammer in the Archives on Floor 7. Alas, you go there and get riddles and puzzles to solve. Later, you just have to figure out where you can unlock abilities or new ways to access older levels. The game hints you at directions but you’re free to go wherever you want to! The whole world is open to you… Well, apart from the exit door that you literally cannot go through since Sintracorp needs you and it’s only your first day of work.

Something that I really liked about the game was the tongue-in-cheek humour that you encounter. Saving the game is done by copying your face using Witch Paper, for instance, and coffee heals you. Albeit these examples not sounding too original, there are a lot of other moments in the game that made me chuckle out loud more than just once. Sometimes, I’d just remember that one event where we got our nickname and I’d just be chuffed to bits. Obviously, I cannot spoil those.

The art style is rather detailed for a 2D-title featuring impressive cutscenes and fun pixel-art that really made the game seem grotesque and scary at times but also kind of cute in a bizarre way. On top of that, the game confronts you with a very fantastic soundtrack that just gives me the creeps and fills me with joy whenever I think back at it. Honestly, I’m in love with the presentation and the absurdity of the whole game.

So, back to gameplay, a lot of things are trying to kill you and to prevent them from doing so, you essentially need to make cup noodles, sandwiches, and coffee, grab snacks and water, or stick items into other objects to solve puzzles. A lot of the boss fights seem kinda intuitive. You see stuff that hurts you and use it to hurt the boss instead. I feel like I did the first boss in an intended way… but I’m not entirely sure just yet. I feel like the game is giving the player a lot of freedom in how they can and want to play the game.

This stretches even further when you take a look at how the game is built up. You have different areas that are accessible through the elevator. You check out all of the different floors and see where you need certain abilities or items to get through but you don’t know what items or abilities you need until you find them. Brian, the main character, is sometimes giving you hints but more often than not you’re left alone and while that may leave people wondering on how to produce results, you’re never really forced to. You always tend to have enough time to figure it out on your own and the puzzles don’t feel too far-fetched. Instead, Sintracorp really lets you be your own boss. And that’s great.

Now, as far as things go that I got bothered by, I’d like to mention how the saving system of using Witch Paper and Ink Cartridges kind of feels a bit too complicated. I don’t like it when you cannot save whenever and the overall system is just a bit too “eh”. Also, I would have liked at least one auto-save in the beginning after getting to your office, as the game crashed there twice and as I had to redo the beginning twice, which was a tad annoying. To be fair though, crashes didn’t seem common. On the contrary, my streaming of the game probably took a hit on my computer, so I’d let that pass.

Apart from that, I wasn’t really bothered by anything. I would have maybe enjoyed having more accessibility options in the menu like turning off flashing lights and replacing it with a dimmed option or something like that. On top of that, it could have been nice to get some options to highlight interactable objects or make the game easier for people that have a hard time with survival horror titles, to begin with.

Yuppie Psycho, in essence, is a game that surprised me in a lot of ways. It’s a fantastic game with a great art style, story and soundtrack. The puzzles mostly feel good to solve and more often than not I had to chuckle instead of getting scared. I’m not a huge fan of Horror games but this game was actually quite bizarre and fun with fewer scares and more creeps going on. On top of that, choices matter as well to a degree here and sinfluence the ending considerably, so I’m looking forward to going through it again, eventually, as there is a lot of replayability with these seven endings, all of the collectables and the amount of things to do in the game. To sweeten the deal, Yuppie Psycho also got a free DLC upgrading the game to the “Executive Edition” adding new bosses, areas and more stuff overall neatlessly into your game, so that’s quite cool, in my opinion.

Now, I don’t give scores but I definitely recommend this game to fans of the genre that want to experience true corporate horror. If I was to give a score, it’d be a solid 9 out of 10, I think. It’s a great game but the missing accessibility options turned me off a tad.

Don’t get fired, stay healthy, and be kind to others!

Cheers!

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

I played Phasmophobia for the first time

So, Phasmophobia is a game that exists and is rather popular right now. Some friends of mine wanted to play it with me but I knew that if I were to pick it up, I’d end up playing it and then everyone would stop playing it suddenly. It’s a curse with multiplayer games that I’ve picked up in the past and hence, I hesitated on picking it up myself… but then MuddChi gifted it to me, so I played it for the first time with her and I had a lot of fun actually.

For anyone that doesn’t know Phasmophobia, it’s a game that explores the premise of investigating ghosts and paranormal activities. You take on jobs and search for clues that reveal the type of ghost you’re dealing with. These clues can range from temperature drops to it talking to you to flickering lights and other things.

For our first job, we went to a house where we found a random bone lying around. MuddChi took a picture of it while I was uwu-ing into the “Spirit Box” that allows me to talk to specific types of ghosts. We set up cameras and observed a “ghost orb”, a will-o-wisp kind of light that floats through the room. This already reduces the number of potential suspects from twelve to six! We then investigated the room more to see if we could find some fingerprints, using the UV light… nothing to be found. That means that it’s not a Poltergeist. My constant “uwu”-ing into the Spirit Box also didn’t result in any paranormal activities or other responses… the ghost must have thought that I’m an idiot. I tried asking it about its age, location, and whether or not it wants to hurt us: No response. 

We weren’t too sure if it was just shy or if it just doesn’t speak to us… but for now, we were able to rule out the Jinn, Poltergeist and Mare, leaving only the Shade and Yurei. The Yurei has a stronger effect on the players’ sanity while the Shade is really shy but apart from that, there aren’t any characteristics that would explain one or the other for now. Alas, we had to either detect Freezing Temperatures or an EMF 5 Reading… but since we couldn’t detect either and since we didn’t want to just guess it, we decided to go for a bold move: Provoking it.

Since it was in the main room of the house, right next to the door, we ended up having MuddChi check the activity while I’m throwing out insults at the ghost. The EMF reader was on the ground, giving out a reading based on nearby activity… and if it was nearby, it would either spike to a reading of 5 or I’d be able to see my breath. I decided to turn on the local voice chat and just constantly swear into my microphone, yelling “fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck” into my headset. With the crucifix on the ground, I felt safe, until the EMF reader picked up a strong signal. I tried taking a picture using my camera but was too slow. The ghost’s shadow appeared, scared the shit out of me, and vanished. I took a step back and was out of its reach – outside of the house. We got it, I thought. It’s a Shade! 

We cash in experience points and money and moved on to the next job. 

For the next job, at some small street house, we first checked out the basement to see if we get any readings or anything like that… but there was nothing. No significant temperature drops, no fingerprints, or any EMF readings. In the entryway, however, we found yet another bone and took a picture of it. There, we noticed a painting falling down and dishes being thrown around. Is this a poltergeist or does someone just not like to do the dishes?

After a while, MuddChi found fingerprints, reducing the number of ghosts to a measly five: The Spirit, the Wraith, the Poltergeist, the Banshee and the Revenant. Since the fingerprints were nearby, we threw down our tripods and cams to observe potential ghost orbs and placed our ghost journal with utmost care. No Ghost orbs meant that it’s not a Poltergeist, leaving us with only four potential ghosts! Since the Spirit and the Wraith both can be found via the Spirit Box, I tried speaking to it. The other two ghosts would need EMF readings but I already had the Spirit Box with me. 

I really wanted to talk to it and maybe make a new friend, so I stayed in the vicinity of the Ghost Journal and started asking questions. “How old are you?” got an answer: “OLD.” I was surprised. It’s either the Wraith or the Spirit. I should be able to soon see Ghost Writing or Freezing Temperatures to identify which one of the two it is. I didn’t see my breath yet and the Ghost Journal was empty. I tried talking to it again, asking what it wants to do. “HURT”, the ghost responded. Shivers went down my spine and I hated every single bit of this job. 

Why is this so scary? Why am I so scared of this when there’s really just a voice speaking to me and nothing else? “Who do you want to hurt?”, I ask. No response. “Do you want to hurt us?”, I clarify… No response. “Are you here?” – The ghost didn’t seem to like my questions as the activity went up again and as it seemed to not like answering it. “Give me a sign”, I spoke, and candles started falling down from the desk. I let out a small “Oh, fuck” only to see that the Ghost Journal was filled with something. “DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE”, it said. I was both anxious and relieved. It’s a spirit. Ghost Writing, Fingerprints and Spirit Box? Yup, a spirit. We entered the evidence into the journal, packed up and closed the hatch. Our trunk went off and we got our experience and money. It was a successful day and while it was really scary… I’m somewhat looking forward to playing another time. 

So, Phasmophobia is quite scary. It’s more about psychological Horror and you do your best to actually get the right clues and find the ghost. It’s a nice game and I hope that it gets the necessary funding to eventually receive even better and more elaborate updates! For this play session, I was joined by MuddChi who does stream on Twitch more often than not. She’s a great streamer and a close friend of mine, so I’d highly recommend checking her stream out if you haven’t already! The game itself is great but I seem to get enough of it after a job or two since it can be really scary and since I’m a scaredy-cat. 

You can find Phasmophobia over here on Steam. It’s currently in Early Access, so it’s still in development and can feature a lot of bugs and crashes, potentially. So beware of that. Personally speaking, I’d recommend it, although I’m not sure if this post gives you any insights on the game and its issues or why it’s so good, so this is not necessarily a review or anything like that. If you ever feel like playing Phasmophobia with me and some friends, be sure to join the discord and chat with us!

For now, though, I’ll try to get some sleep. I just did two jobs with a few friends and I’m actually quite scared. I hope you enjoyed this post! 

Cheers!

Edit: This post was in the wrong category and is now properly placed in The Gaming Journal instead of The Stray Sheep. Sorry for that!

Looking forward to Lamentum

Lamentum is a pixel-art survival horror game set in New England in the mid-nineteenth century. I played the demo of it and honestly, I really liked the vibes that I got from it. Here’s why I enjoyed it so much!

Developer: Obscure Tales
Publisher: Neon Doctrine (formerly known as Another Indie)
Release Date: 2021
Genres: 2D, Indie, Survival, Horror, Action Adventure, Lovecraftian

After no conventional method was able to cure Alissa’s deadly disease, the young aristocrat Victor Hartwell turns to unconventional methods and Grau Hill Mansion’s Earl, Edmond Steinrot, to find a treatment for his beloved wife. In Lamentum, we guide Hartwell in his desperate journey but nobody could have fathomed what unimaginable horrors were waiting for us over there. This is a story of love, sacrifice, and sacred otherworldy entities.

Lamentum takes inspiration from classic survival horror games like Resident Evil and Silent Hill along with cosmic horror masterpieces, like the Cthulhu mythos and other works by Lovecraft.

Obscure Tales is very much able to capture what makes the Lovecraftian horror stories so great: The fear of the unknown and the fear of the things that mankind shouldn’t have known. 

Terrible, terrifying creatures are lurking in the shadows while the Mansion has changed over one night. The paintings and statues have transformed into a terrible and grotesque state… and worst of all, there is just no trace left of Alissa!

That’s where the story really picks up. A note in the room that we wake up in reveals that Alissa made her way into the Earl’s office but the door’s locked from the inside and we don’t have any other way in. Hence, we have to go deeper and search other rooms for clues and useful items. In one room, we find a small box. In another, we find some mysterious runes. Alas, there’s a room with a sword but there is something off about it as well. It all feels like one big puzzle where you have to figure out how different pieces fit together and how you’re able to combine different items or use certain items.

The controls feel quite good, although I prefer the controller over the keyboard controls. When I found a gun, I had to get used to the aiming and the fact that you need to reload after every single shot, despite enemies moving towards you, which makes sense since mid-nineteenth century weapons weren’t automated or anything like that. Combat usually consists of figuring out the enemy patterns and kiting them while landing a hit or two in between their attack phases. With only one enemy or two, in the beginning, this can be rather easily done but over time, more and more enemies show up, so you really have to wage whether or not it’s worth it to risk damage or if you want to move past them. Generally, I’ve been trying to sneak past enemies as healing items and ink (to save the game) are rare in the game and as I wanted to try a more cautious approach, but if you’re good at kiting enemies, then you certainly can go for a more action-heavy approach!

The game allows you to assign three items to slots so that you can use them at any given time with just one button-press. Otherwise, you’ll have to move into the inventory and equip items manually, which can be a bit annoying at first as you’re still figuring out what you exactly need, but you’ll get used to it eventually. Generally, I kept my weapons in those slots as well as the lamp that I found somewhere but you can use them however you like. The inventory is limited to nine spaces but there are storage crates that share their inventory where you can put in a lot more items. Alas, you’ll have to manage your inventory space and be careful as to what you can bring with you and what you cannot. If you come across an item that you want to take but your inventory is full, you’ll obviously have to go back to a storage trunk and remove some of your items and go back to said room, if you can find it. I found that mechanic quite intriguing as a lot of the games I played tend to give you tons of inventory space or even inventory upgrades at the beginning, making the game a bit easier. 

Taking multiple trips back and forth is something that I tried to avoid as much as possible but due to the inventory situation, I sometimes had to do exactly that. The mansion is huge and despite having a map, it is actually quite easy to get lost in it, especially with all the doors that aren’t all accessible. And with enemies spawning in some rooms as you travel through them, multiple trips bear a lot of risks. This added a bit of difficulty to the game as I needed certain items for puzzles, such as keys and shards, but also didn’t know if I’ll need the runes and teeth in upcoming rooms. 

When you figure stuff out, you get that short moment of satisfaction that I really enjoyed in this game. When you’re stuck, however, it can be a bit frustrating but the game never really leaves you clueless. Certain doors are closed, so you have to search for something to do in the accessible rooms and hallways.

At last, I’d like to say that the art style is wonderfully dark and detailed. The Top-Down-ish view highlights the art style as you get to see a lot of the big rooms and small details that they feature. The animations are fluid and unique for all of the different enemy types and I love to see the different cut scenes in the game that depicted the horrors of the nightmare that we’ve found ourselves in. The dark and gory beauty of the game gets complimented by the beautiful and ominous music that switches from enigmatic and sad sounds to darker and creepier tunes. 

The full game will feature an array of 19th Century Melee and Ranged weaponry that isn’t just limited to the pistol, the knive and the sword found in the demo. Apart from that it will also include branching paths and multiple endings on top of “a terrifying plot for a mature audience”.

If you’re looking for a Horror Game to play, then I’d definitely recommend checking out Lamentum’s Demo over here. The game fully releases in 2021 but I really enjoyed the demo that is actually rather long for a demo. In case you want to get notified when it launches or in case you want to support Obscure Tales already, you should definitely wishlist the game on Steam. Personally, I’m really excited about this title, despite being more of a scaredy-cat. 

Either way, that’s it for the post. I meant to write this post for a long time already but ended up not really being able to do so, due to university stuff, exams, paperwork, family stuff, and all of the things that stop you from doing what you really want. When I got to write it, I really enjoyed the process. The beginning part of this post was a bit hard to work out without spoiling anything but I think I did a pretty good job at it (feedback appreciated!).

This post wasn’t meant to be a review, especially as this is a demo but in the end, it offered a lot of entertainment, so the post turned out a lot longer than originally planned. Generally, I try to just go with my first impressions and thoughts on games and their systems in these types of posts and since I didn’t play the full game just yet, there’s obviously no telling what the endgame looks like or future bosses or how the story unravels, and I can’t quite judge the whole of the game solely based on the beginning. Alas, take this post with a grain of salt until I’m able to write an actual review on the game. I hope you enjoyed my thoughts on the demo and I hope that you’re checking out the game yourself.

Again, I highly recommend it!

Cheers!

Indietail – Sir, You Are Being Hunted

It’s getting colder. It’s raining more. The nights are getting a bit longer… Autumn is coming – and with it: Halloween! (Unless you’re in the land down under where it’s Spring…? That place surely is magical!)

Halloween’s great! It’s the time to bring out my horse mask, watch some trash horror movies and quite potentially play some spooky games, alone, at night, by yourself… and that’s why we’re taking a look at “Sir, You Are Being Hunted”, a spooky and very British Stealth-Survival game by Big Robot Ltd!

Developer: Big Robot Ltd
Publisher: Big Robot Ltd
Genre: Survival, Stealth, Indie, Robots, First-Person, Horror
Release Date: August 13th, 2013
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC
Copy was purchased.

Note: I had to create a header image for this game as there was no actual press kit and hence no high resolution pictures or logos available. Hence, pardon my intervention in that regard.

But first,… what is Sir, You Are Being Hunted?

In this title, you’re participating in a fox hunt – the twist is that you, Sir (or Madam!), are being hunted and not some fox. For some reason, we then are tasked with finding a bunch of different machine parts on five different islands (all connected with boats), only to bring them all together at the magical statue in the centre island. Yeah, I know, the story doesn’t really seem too intriguing but hold on before you click off… because the game is actually somewhat good.

The spot we have to bank our machine parts at!

After all, this game combines witty humour, procedural generation, stealth and survival mechanics to present a funny and spooky experience.

While you’re searching for the smoke pillars in the distance, you’ll come across all kinds of robots. At first, you only get to see high-class hunters with their shotguns, their top hats, moustaches and their tweed jackets. These take only two hits with a hatchet and are your first source of new weapons, including their shotguns. But over time, the game throws all kinds of other enemies in your face: You get to see robotic hunting dogs, revolver wielding middle-class squires and lower-class poachers but also scarier foes like rocket.powered horse-riders or the giant landlord who’s able to chase you from afar and who is truly terrifying. 

This game’s the epitome of “British stereotypes”. From the Victorian look of all the enemies to the sad and dreary environment that you’re walking through to the small jokes hidden in the different item flavour texts and other info. I really enjoyed the humour to bits. On top of that, you get to chose whether you wanna be a “Sir” or a “Madam” that is being hunted… which I found cute in a way… And obviously, Great Britain can be lovely, but as far as stereotypes and that kind of stuff go, a lot of people think that it’s always raining over there… which is well shown in “Sir, You Are Being Hunted”. 

Wait… THAT is the landlord?! He’s huge! And scary! Oh no, he’s coming for us!

The biomes you’re walking through have this very sombre vibe to it but in a good way. Even during the day, it remains quite spooky and dismal, which I found more than interesting. In the distance, you may see the next landmark, a giant factory in the industrial part of an island with smoke coming out of chimneys… or maybe a small town whose street lanterns are shining a small light onto the nooks and crannies of the streets. Overall, despite its age, I did find a few spots here and there that actually were quite lovely or enigmatic in their own way. Looks-wise the game has aged somewhat well and has still its own character. The landscapes are pretty at first but over time, I noticed that they can also get quite monotone and dreary. 

When I say that the game aged well, I mean that it can still look good despite looking “old”. There are some uninspired spots and pieces with shrubs and hedges and some trampled ground but with procedural generation and you essentially getting a new map every run, it’s possible that you get some very pretty ones as well. In one instance, I had this very spectacular pink sky in might sight which was very clearly visible, even from the shrouds that I was hiding in!

Where the game truly shines is its audio design. The developers themselves said that they put extra care into that and wanted to make it something that gives the players a lot – and in fact, they did. During the game, I was constantly on edge trying to find the next place to go, dodging robots and looking into the distance in hope to see their red eyes and their paths… and while I was immersed and while I tried to progress, I ended up really listening to those sounds and noises in the game. Gunshots? Barking? Even birds that are flying away from robots scaring them off can be heard clearly if you’re nearby. I really enjoyed this aspect of tracking the robots and trying to find your own ways of dealing with them and trying to get around them. 

In one case, I lured robots to me with a trombone while waiting in a farmer’s field. I was crouching with my hatchet, waiting for them to stop by and before they noticed I fell the first one and dipped back into the shadows. Then I threw a glass bottle into the other direction, looted the corpse and shot the remaining two distracted robots with my newly attained shotgun! I felt quite good about that! Suddenly, the Hunted became the Hunter again!

But while the stealth parts can be fun and while the game is quite well-made with great jokes, cool enemies, nice sound design and pretty landscapes, I must say that some stuff really doesn’t work in “Sir, You Are Being Hunted”.

In my time in the game, I noticed that the different machine parts are spaced out too much, for instance. Sometimes, you find them and see them being heavily guarded… at other times you just stumble across the hills until you find another one by accident. The smoke pillars that should rise from them are often not really that visible from afar, so you’ve got to search a bit for them. Having a more reliable map would have been better in that regard or potentially reducing the number of parts that you have to find in total… or even making it an option to crank up or down.

Oooh, what to take and what to leave?

Another thing that just didn’t work out for me was the Survival aspect of it. During your playthrough, you have to watch your Health and Vitality. If you get hit, you need to stop the bleeding or else you’ll die. If your vitality is low, you’ll starve and die as well. The game prompts you to either go hunting to find fresh game or to just loot enemies and houses in order to find relatively fresh and quite rotten food… This – and the fact that you cannot really craft too many items in the game – make the game quite hard to get around. The inventory management that you need to take care of can be also relatively hard to get around, especially when you have to discard of junk items manually. One by one.

And well,… you can only save at the monument on the first island and at boats. When you die, you lose a lot of progress and items. Looting isn’t that satisfactory as you just hit F on a door instead of actually foraging and scavenging inside and outside of it. A lot of the items feel useless or are useless and due to the missing actual crafting system it kind of feels as if the survival aspects have just been added to the game because it seemed like a good idea.

When you’re surrounded and you’re starving, you’re basically waiting for the game to end. That’s not fun. Your last resort? Light a pipe and drink yourself into a more vital and nauseous state! Drinks give you vitality but make you tipsy… Smokes cost you vitality but do nothing else… I like the gimmick but it isn’t exactly helpful.

On top of that, you spend a lot of time travelling while crouching, which can get a bit annoying and feel way too slow. And while you get stronger by getting weapons and ammunition from enemies, the game also gets harder as there are bigger patrols, new enemies, and less places to go to for the sake of looting. Overall, the game can be quite frustrating and unforgiving but if you are searching for a challenge, this might actually be it!

Regardless of all of that, though, I’d recommend this game to others. It’s a good game in its core and the stealth parts are fun while the game is genuinely spooky – at least it was for me. I’d say that this is a great game if you’re searching for something slow but fun and somewhat relaxed to play on an evening or two. I’m not sure if it’s worth the full price though due to it being old and not getting updates on top of having some bigger issues like the survival being “eh” and the game feeling slow. 

Cheers!

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

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 “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! 🙂

I’m excited about “Drake Hollow” by The Molasses Flood

It’s sadly not part of the Steam Game Festival but Drake Hollow is definitely something to look out for. I’m really excited about the game – and not only due it being made by the dev behind The Flame In The Flood! The Molasses Flood’s second game can best be described as a Base-Building Action-Survival-Game. 

What is Drake Hollow about?

Well, in the blighted world of The Hollow, you’ve got to defend the small vegetable folk known as the Drake from the deadly feral beasts that are threatening to attack them! The Drake can’t really take care of themselves, so you’ve got to provide them with gardens, wells, and entertainment as well as defences against the previously mentioned terrors. The Drake can literally die of boredom, so they need your attention and help in order to survive – in return, they provide you with buffs that are helpful in your quest of Survival!

Take back The Hollow as you strive for the perfect village! Build solar panels and other important machines to progress! Play with friends and hold your ground together against the imminent danger, craft weapons and gear, pack your things and migrate from place to place, from season to season. Do what it takes to live on!

I really have been excited about this game for ages now. We’ve reviewed The Flame In The Flood about a year ago, so everyone should know what The Molasses Flood is capable of (the studio, not the event). 

What do I expect from this game?

  • First up, the soundtrack is probably going to be amazing.
    The Flame In The Flood featured a lovely, adventurous soundtrack made by Chuck Ragan, and I can’t imagine what they are going to come up with for the soundtrack of this game. I’d expect maybe some more mysterious and enigmatic tunes, similar to the Dungeon of the Endless soundtrack, as well as some road trip vibes with other tracks for when you’re exploring, similar to Amarante Music. 
  • Secondly, the peaceful aspects are going to be super wholesome.
    Taking care of these little fellows is going to be great. Just imagine all the cute little noises and dances they might make. I’m in love with Dufflur, the Drake that can be seen in the Steam Store Page. It’s just adorable, featuring a very lovely colour and some insanely pretty eyes!
  • Thirdly, Co-Op is going to be great when I find the right people to play this with – and I already have some in mind!
    I’d imagine that the resource gathering and base-building get infinite times better with friends, probably, just like it’s so much better to play games like Satisfactory or Ark with friends. 
  • Fourth, the combat is going to be intense and exciting!
    A change of pace is always good, so the resource scavenging, base building, and Drake-caretaking are going to be rather relaxed and fun to play around while combatting the “raids” will result in your heart rate spiking, in a good way of course. I wanna feel that thrill and excitement when facing off against these eldritch-looking monsters!
  • And at last, exploration:
    There are going to be a lot of different regions and seasons with each region being over a square mile big! From what I’ve gathered, there are landmarks to explore and, well, with every passing season there is going to be dynamically generated and populated areas, so you’ll always have places to go and spaces to loot, I’d imagine. 

So, in essence, I’m hyped. I’ve been hyped for ages but with the game coming out on July 17th, 2020, I’m getting excited again. I probably won’t be able to play it until after the 22nd, though, as I’ve got some exams on that day, but regardless of that, this is going to be great.

So, yeah, this is my post on Drake Hollow. We’re going to write a review on this game after the release so that you can see if my hype was justified, and we soon will publish an interview with one of the lead devs on the game, so stay tuned for that!

Be sure to wishlist and follow it on Steam, if you’re interested! You may also be interested in checking out the website! Cheers!

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.

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!

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

Indietail – Forager

In today’s review, we’re taking a look at Forager, “a 2D open-world game inspired by exploration, farming and crafting games like Terraria, Stardew Valley and Zelda” by HopFrog.

Developer: HopFrog
Pubslisher: HumbleBundle
Genres: Survival, Open-World, Adventure, Indie
Release Date: April 18, 2019
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC (Windows, Linux), PS4, Nintendo Switch
Copy was purchased.

I actually planned on posting another format called “The Chase for Closure” where I try to get all achievements (in Forager, that’s 6 remaining for me!) but then I saw that I needed to have all achievements in one file for the last one and there’s one achievement that I can’t get in my other file and yadidadiyada. You get the drill. So, I created another save file and started anew for that last achievement… before I realised that there’s the Combat Update coming out soon that includes new skills, items, bosses, a whole new biome and also new achievements. So… I gave up on the chase for the 100% (for now!) and instead decided to release another review. This time on Forager.

At the start, you spawn on an island, only equipped with your basic backpack (with not that many slots) and a basic pickaxe. On the island, there are resources that you’ve got to mine, forage, etc. to proceed. By doing so, you gain experience points and, well.., the resources (trees -> wood, rocks -> stone, bushes -> berries, etc.), duh. Once you’ve earned enough experience, you level up and have to spend a skill point on one of four different available skill trees: Economy, Industry, Foraging, and Magic.

The different skill trees unlock new items, buildings, enemies, resources, equipment and overall make your life easier. For instance, I struggled a lot with coal at the beginning, which is necessary to smelt ores into ingots. Hence, I burned wood to gain coal instead before then burning that coal for the ingots. This, however, resulted in me struggling with wood at the beginning. But once I advanced far enough into the Foraging-Skilltree I earned a skill that lets coal drop from all rocks! And I never struggled with stone again.

Top hat! Cause why not?

The foraging-skill-tree is about grinding, mining, and foraging those resources, while the industry-skill-tree is all about machines and technology, granting you improved work speed, automation and other goodies that are quite neat! When you get into magic, you’re able to forge swords, brew potions and craft scrolls that have all kinds of effects! The economy-skill-tree gives you more coins, helps you with storage, improves the number of resource-drops, and overall is also a great addition to the game.

Speaking of coins, they’re very important! As I said, you’re on one island at the beginning. To gain more land, you need to craft up coins that then can be used to buy more islands. There’re also markets where you can buy and sell items with and for gold! Coins and materials are the heart of Forager but at some point later, you just won’t have to worry about them at all.

The museum is quite empty, so we need to fill it!

The map is divided into five areas: The Grass Biome (where you start), the Winter Biome (North), the Graveyard Biome (West), the Desert Biome (East) and the Fire Biome (South). Each area/biome has different enemies and resources, as well as many different Quest-NPCs, Puzzles, and even a Dungeon each! When you complete Quests, Puzzles or Dungeons you gain a reward.

The dungeons were my highlight in Forager as they felt really Zelda-ish! The Quest NPCs are also quite cool as some of them have great dialogues. There’s a ton of references and jokes in them as well as a whole lot of quests. For instance, there’s this old guy at a giant tree in the Grasslands who warns you about this small guy with a pickaxe who’s exploiting nature! Naturally, he asks you, not knowing that you’re the guy who is exploiting nature, to help him protect nature by capturing a few torch bugs and bring him other stuff so that that madman can’t harm them anymore. Quite paradox and fun! I had to chuckle at that quest.

One of the first pickaxe-upgrades

While the levelling and grinding are a bit slow at the beginning, it picks up the pace quite quickly. Once you skill the right skills, you don’t have any struggles regarding stuff like coal, wood, food, etc. There’s even one skill that allows you to eat rocks! The next update will remove some of the skills that are “useless” while adding new skills in the skill trees that unlock all kinds of new items like trains and portals. There’s also going to be new bosses.

I’ve been playing Forager for quite some time. I’ve got about 23 online-hours on Steam but I also played the Alpha-version on itch.io that didn’t have that many features, yet, but was still really addicting. Forager is a nice game with many features, that has been improved a lot over time. There are weather effects, a day-night-cycle in place, new boss enemies and even hats – a ton of hats – in the game, that make the game quite fun.

One of the new bosses!

I guess you can criticize that there’s not much end-game-content once you’ve upgraded all your gear, skilled every skill tree to the fullest, done all the dungeons, and built on every island, but the new item tiers and the new Void Dimension in the upcoming update should fix that quite neatly. The slow pace at the beginning feels necessary as you’re always “this close” to levelling up or advancing which makes you want to keep on playing “for just a little bit more”. So, I actually don’t have anything to criticize. I like the style, the music, the humour and all the frequent updates. Therefore, I’m recommending the game, duh. But then again, I should mention that I enjoy the grinding and levelling aspects of this game and am a big fan of the Zelda-ish dungeons and puzzles and an even bigger fan of games like Harvest Moon, Stardew Valley and Graveyard Keeper. This game might not be something for you when you don’t like games like those but you probably got an insight on this game by reading my review.

UPDATE: Mariano/HopFrog is facing allegations for mistreating and not crediting his hired co-workers. He also threw them under the bus for “messing up his game” after he didn’t work on it for two years. So, read up on my post on that if you haven’t already and it may or may not influence your opinion on the game. I do recommend the game still… but right now in its current state I wouldn’t recommend it at the full price due to a lot of balancing issues and stuff… as well as the transphobia and as for how Mariano treats his programmers and other team members.

Anyways, feel free to leave feedback! Have a nice day 🙂

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

Indietail – The Flame In The Flood

For my first review on this Indie Game Blog, I’m presenting you The Flame In The Flood (Trailer/Shop) – one of my favourite games – where the protagonist Scout goes on an adventure with her dog Aesop/Daisy to find the whereabouts of the humans that escaped after the Great Flooding. To do that, they travel on a great river with their tiny raft and scavenge, forage, craft and survive on little islands full of dangers that nature has prepared for them. It was developed by The Molasses Flood whose developers previously worked on titles like Bioshock and Halo 2.

Before you can set out for an adventure, you’ll have to choose one of two modes to play: The campaign and the endless-mode. While the campaign consists of you playing through ten procedurally generated areas to reveal the mystery of the missing humans, you’ll have to try to survive on an endless river in the endless-mode (duh.) while the difficulty is raised the farther you travel. When you die in the campaign, you’re able to either restart your journey or revive at the last checkpoint you reached – in the endless-mode however death is permanent which adds the rogue-like-ish feel to the game and has a certain thrill to it since all your boat-upgrades, collected and crafted items will be lost forever then! 

The menu shows the skeleton of the previousplayer and the dog that has been left behind.

After choosing the mode, you’re able to set the difficulty. There’s the “Traveler” difficulty that is recommended to newer players with checkpoints and a normal abundance of resources and the “Survivalist” difficulty that is recommended for experienced players with permadeath, fewer supplies, and stats that diminish at an increased rate. On top of that, you can tick an option that allows your pet dog’s inventory to persist through runs that decide whether or not you wanna go for a rogue-like or a rogue-lite experience. In the end, you can choose between Daisy and Aesop, your canine followers that will accompany you through your run.


Now that your journey begins, you’re playing through a small tutorial that shows you the most important information needed to survive via signs that can be found across a camping ground. Those signs show you information regarding your inventory, crafting, stats, and dangers. After that, you’re pretty much left alone and although it’s the tutorial, you’re not safe yet since your stats diminish per second. Those stats include hunger, thirst, temperature, and fatigue. If any of them reach zero, Scout will die. To prevent that from happening you’ll have to collect materials in the starting area and the little islands that you encounter on your adventure. The game consists of two types of levels: The river and the islands. While you’re able to walk on the islands, search for loot and hunt for food, you’ll have to manoeuvre your raft across the river and head for different islands that contain different loot. This, however, is easier said than done since the currents are often so strong that there’s no returning after you’re going into one direction. Most often the game isn’t forgiving you for ignoring one island or choosing one over the other. You’re usually left with little to no time to think before your raft steers into one direction, so you have to make quick decisions:

Do you visit the church to have a higher chance to find clothing, alcohol (for the medical purposes of course!) and some decent housing or do you maybe go to the docking station to upgrade your raft or repair the damage done to it by previous mistakes? Sometimes you’ll have to even think about steering near cars and other objects that may damage your raft but contain loot that may be needed later.

The river is a one-way road and there are many objects that you have to manoeuvre around to not risk sinking! The wild river is accompanied by a great soundtrack that not only makes it fun to steer through the river but also calms you down in times of quick decisionmaking and storms. 


The island levels aren’t a lot safer though since you’re often awaited by wild animals and since death seemingly has his hots for you. In the early levels, you’ll encounter wild boars that are defending their territory, later you’ll also encounter even more vicious creatures like poisonous snakes, fierce wolves, and even threatening bears! Even when you don’t encounter wild enemies, death seems to be omnipresent: You may walk into fire ants, get sick or walk into poison ivy. Bites can end up in threatening sicknesses, catching a cold may result in death and having a broken leg hinders you from running away. All these debuffs have to be treated with craftable ailments, medicines, and bandages. However, resources are scarce in this post-apocalyptic world. While the learning curve is certainly steep, it isn’t insurmountable! After quite a few runs you’re able to understand priorities and improve your decisionmaking quite a lot.

The river at dawn is beautiful, even when wild currents are awaiting you!

As previously mentioned The Flame in the Flood is a game of choices. These choices are a part of the survival-experience and contribute to the feeling of never feeling safe. You’re not able to settle down on an island or build a base with farms and such like other games like Don’t Starve or The Forest. The only thing that comes anywhere near the word “base” is your raft that you can upgrade for more storage room, a stove or other things that help you survive. Without any upgrades your raft only has a limited storage room, the same goes for your dog’s and your own backpack. You sometimes have to abandon useful resources only because of the missing storage. 

What do I leave behind? May I need these resources later? May I find these on some island along the way? Will I come across another camping ground or even another church? 

me, while struggling with leaving behind recources

You may ask yourself these questions but since no run is like the other, you’ll always have to count on your own instinct and the luck that you may get a fruitful scavenge later on. Since you can’t sort your inventory with a sort function, you may as well not see that some of your items could’ve been stacked. There are also items that may expire like food and herbs. Sometimes you may not even find the needed materials for the next upgrade. These things and features can be frustrating but after quite a lot of trial and error, you’re able to survive for quite some time. Using your acquired loot you’re able to build traps and weapons to catch rabbits or trap boars to receive meat and hyde. Crafting new tools allows you to craft even more items.

Some of the features like expired food or certain other mechanics may also be used in other ways. Meat can be crafted into a poisoned bait to kill some of the predators that lurk in the shadows and sometimes you can also simply eat it, get sick but then immediately treat the sickness (although that’s more of a last resort). Interactions and mechanics like these make the game quite a lot of fun! It may be described as a true survival game where you’re holding onto the last bit of hope and fight your way to the goal of the game!

Your canine companion is also a great help since he not only carries his own inventory but also is able to point at collectable resources and nearby dangers. If you don’t deactivate it, you can also plan out your next run and make it easier for you to survive early on by putting materials, tools and other items into its pouch, which would make it a rogue-lite-game.

Not only has the player to fight with inventory-management but also with the previously mentioned stats. Every stat has a different way to tend to it. You need food, clean water, warmth and rest – and the latter also influences the rest of the stats since by sleeping you’re not only passing time but also getting hungrier and thirstier, the longer you sleep. This mechanic is nice when you want to wait out a storm but sometimes puts you into a dilemma: Do you pass time until the storm is over but get hungrier or do you risk a cold and continue your journey? Again, there are choices!

The fireplace not only restores your warmth but also acts as a safe-zone against the creatures of the night.

As for the presentation, the game’s overwhelmingly beautiful. The art style is astonishing and the river is able to convince you of the beauty of nature. Between biomes, there’s a fluid transition, just like with the different times of the day. Dusk and dawn are probably my favourite times to be on the river while the night shows you the dangers of nature with red eyes and approaching storms. It sometimes seems like a double-edged sword that you can enjoy these small moments of peace on the river at daytime and feel scared at night or when it’s getting stormy. The environment is truly enigmatic and influences your experience positively. On the islands you sometimes alarm crows when walking near them which then alarms boars and other dangers, so you always have to watch out for those. There’s also red eyes at night staring at you from the dark, proving that the abyss stares back when you look into the abyss. However, I feel like the main focus of the presentation laid on the river since that is also the main part of your adventure. The Molasses Flood could have tuned up the island-environment a bit more to make even those levels a bit more atmospheric in my opinion but it doesn’t bug you all that much while playing – it certainly didn’t bug me.

Another strength of the game is the soundtrack that is brought to you by songwriter and singer Chuck Ragan and further strengthens the game’s adventure-feel. It’s fun to hear his voice while manoeuvring through currents and steering forward into the unknown, although it sometimes changes abruptly and even may leave you alone with nature and the sound of the river. It sometimes also occurs that the soundtrack switches to another song when changing biomes which I didn’t like all that much but for the most part the soundtrack transitioned fluently.

While playing the game I tested out both the controller and the mouse and keyboard configurations and I must say that I prefer the controller. The controller makes this game a lot easier since you’re able to use the D-Pad to use your most important items on the spot without having to open your inventory, select the item and then use it after a few steps. By you using the left trigger you can switch between useables, meds and placeables which improves the pace of the game by quite a lot.

Two wild kids that have been left behind.

Another thing that I noticed was the fact that the camera sometimes gets in the way of you which leads to you sometimes running into fire ants without noticing at all. While you are able to tilt the camera a bit with the right joystick, it still could have been improved a bit here with a free camera.

Summary

I’d say The Flame in the Flood is a great game that presents you not only a beautiful presentation and a great soundtrack but also quite a few mechanics that make your journey(s) enjoyable for at least 15 hours or even more if you’re a completionist and want to meet all the NPCs or if you’re a hardcore gamer and want to challenge the odds even more by competing for the longest journey in the leaderboards. Once you get over the steep learning curve you’re able to enjoy the game even more even with small bugs that you may encounter every now and then or the fact that you can’t sort through your inventory unlike in other games. There’s also the fact that the endless-mode and the campaign don’t really differ all that much except for the finality of the latter. Most of the information that you need to proceed is available only through signs that can be found every now and then but you can also miss useful information by just steering to another island which is another minus-point for the game. But to counter that you also have a quest-system that rewards you for crafting certain necessary items which act as some sort of mini-goal to work on, even in endless-mode. There’s also bits and pieces of side-stories that can be found sporadically through quilts and NPCs which also may be missed, although it adds a bit of replay value to the game. For the completionists, there are 36 achievements but other than that you’re probably going to run out of stuff to do once you’ve seen everything at least once.

Scout and Daisy at night

At last, I’d say that the game is an interesting survival-experience with a steep learning curve, a great presentation and a lot of fun for fans of the genre and newcomers. While it has a few flaws, the good points that speak for the game are clearly overwhelming, which is why I’m recommending this game to you. If this game sparked your interest, you can get yourself The Flame In The Flood for PC, PS4, Xbox One and the Nintendo Switch.

Anyways, cheerio!

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