Indietail – Spellbreak

A while ago, I wrote a review on Hyperscape and actually recommended it. I mean, it was fun and felt like Quake, on top of being free-to-play. But then I stopped playing Hyperscape again since I wanted to play other games and when I came back to another round or two, I noticed how hard it is for a Non-FPS-player to react in time or to make the right decisions or to aim properly. On top of that, there were some balancing issues and it felt just very frustrating to play it.

So, then I got an E-Mail about Proletariat’s Battle Royale game, Spellbreak, which is available on Epic Games (among other places) and even features crossplay! I was eyeing it for a while before eventually realising that it should, in theory, be just my cup of tea. I mean… Magic…. Combos…. Boom!

My very first game and I won! Woohoo!
Developer: Proletariat, Inc.
Publisher: Proletariat, Inc.
Genre: Battle Royale, Fast-Paced, 3D, Action, Fantasy, Third-Person
Release Date: September 3rd, 2020
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC, XONE, PS4, Nintendo Switch
Game is free to play

In Spellbreak, you essentially play as a mage using two magical gauntlets to battle it out on a big BR-style map. Before the round starts, you’ve got the choice between six different elements to use for your primary gauntlet: Poison, Wind, Lightning, Fire, Rock, and Frost. This gauntlet grants you bonus effects whenever you level up. Those effects range from immunity to your own spells to utility to more damage, so it’s worth looking into those bonuses.

During the round, you essentially try to find equipment and scrolls, as well as gauntlets that have a different magical property to your primary one. For instance, if I were to play as a Conduit (Lightning Mage), I’d be able to pick up the five other elements but I wouldn’t be able to get a second lightning gauntlet. This is quite well-made since the different gauntlets influence each other in different ways. Using the Tornado spell for instance and infusing it with Lightning, Fire or Poison damage caused it to turn into a Lightning Storm, a Fire Tornado or even a Poison Tornado, which is quite nice.

Similarily the Poison Cloud can be infused with Electricity, Fire or Ice, resulting in either an electrifying poison cloud, a big explosion or a frozen poison cloud that entraps and poisons everything inside of it! Some elements don’t mesh well together while others are unique and have very good offensive capabilities, but overall you pick what you get or what suits your playstyle the most. After all, your primary attacks (aka not the spells) also change based on your elements. Rock mages only hit ground targets with their primary attacks but can generate shockwaves and armour using their class-specific skills. Ice mages are more precise but also rather slow while Tempest mages deal less damage but can shoot out a barrage of shots!

Another interesting mechanic in Spellbreak is the Mana bar that you deplete while floating or while shooting out your primary attacks. With amulets, you’re able to gain more maximum mana, while belts increase your armour and boots increase your movement speed. If you don’t find certain items, it can get a bit hard for you to spam or run all the times. Meanwhile, as a Tempest mage with a Legendary amulet, you could very much kite enemies away.

And then, you also have potions, shield shards and abilities. Abilities also have rarities like your equipment but basically enable you to use another set of utility. Chase enemies, fly through the air or become invisible. It enhances the playstyle and I really like how there are no offensive abilities for the Shift-Slot. Unlike Hyperscape, you have your damage in your gauntlets and spells, while you use the abilities to gain momentum, push forward or flee.

Poisonous Firewall!

And then there’s the art style. The game’s heavily influenced by shows and movies like Princess Mononoke, Akira, and Avatar – The Last Airbender. This is resembled quite well in the charakter designs and how the world looks. There are different parts to the map that all have a distinct nature to them and just feel different overall. That’s something that I really enjoyed. I really like the influences the game has in terms of the art, although it got a bit hard to discern certain damaging effects on the ground from normal grounds in certain areas, which is a bit troublesome.

An issue that I have with the game, though, is how you at times can get locked into walls and you just get combo’d away. On top of that, some enemies play quite good but you have no way of adding them or making friends, overall, which is a bit of a bummer, in my opinion. Unless you write down their names or memorize them or whatever, there is not really an option, from what I’ve seen.

Don’t mind me, just hiding in this push…

And at last, I had the issue of me having a hard time with the map borders. At times, I’d go and loot a place but then the circle would move again and suddenly, I’m more than 2000 meters away from the next safe zone and the circle just runs over me. This gets annoying and frustrating over time when the game just decides to place the inner-most circle on the other side of the map. I mean, the map also gets slower at a more drastic pace compared to other games, so personally I would have changed the interval or allowed bigger circles, potentially.

In the end, Spellbreak is just another battle royale game. You have good players in there and bad players. Aiming is not as hard and important as in other games, though zoning, strafing and fast reactions are even more so.

Spellbreak has a certain tactical component to it but in the rounds that I played it always ended up being about me and other players butting our heads in when the circle stops by. It’s a battle royale, after all. It’s different from Fortnite and other games, for sure, but I’m not sure if it’s something I’m going to play forever. This is going to be something that I’ll play with friends now and then, I guess, and then I’ll get frustrated because of the meta or because of my lack of skills… and then I’ll play something else.

In the end, Spellbreak is a free-to-play battle royale game, so try it out if you wanna and don’t if you don’t wanna. I enjoyed it so far but I’d imagine that others wouldn’t. Due to the nice combo system and the mobility you have in the game, though, I’d recommend it to fans of the genre or fans of Quake and Unreal Tournament!

Cheers!

Indietail – Ayre

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if you could fly on a majestic creature like a dragon? Have you ever wanted to surge through the skies and explore vast areas? Have you ever dreamed of true freedom with no boundaries whatsoever? 

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions or if you’re just wondering what I’m on about, then you might like this following review of Ayre!

Developer: Gordon Little aka Gord Games
Publisher: Gordon Little
Genres: Casual, Adventure, Indie, Dragons, Flying, Simulation, Third Person
Release Date: May 27, 2020
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC
Copy received from the Devs

Ayre is a new dragon flight simulation that is coming out on Steam soon. Mount your bonded dragon, Red, and explore vast areas while testing your flight skills in sky races hidden across the lands and discover the history of an ancient civilisation with their own customs and traditions as well as a story that is quite interesting. And then there’s the Crystal Comet, an organism of sorts that has been scattered across the lands and asks you to unify it again. 

Yeah, true freedom. It’s great. You’ve got an open world with gigantic, snow-covered mountains, vast plains, beautiful valleys and sparkling rivers that is completely accessible to you and your scaley companion. Across the world, you find collectable crystals and Monoliths telling you the story of a civilisation of the past. 

It’s an interesting experience to be able to go anywhere you want with little to no guidance and no boundaries set by abilities that you need. The controls may take a while to get used to if you – like me – don’t play too many flight-simulation-games but once you get the hang of it, it is rather fun. If you want to challenge yourself, there are plenty of ring-races that require you to reach a goal as fast as possible. If you then still want to step up your game, then I recommend checking out the advanced flight options that are less simplified and need you to watch the speed your flying at and control your dragon more precisely. 

Red looks like such a happy boiii in this one. Like some cute doggo but better!

The music and the colourful, simplified presentation make the game shine in a new light as well as you get to enjoy the world without having to fear any threats or dangers. If you fall off a cliff, your dragon is there for you and rescues you in time, too!

And the different biomes are rather intriguing. During the time I played, I found some ruins here and there as well as forests and a wasteland of sorts. There are different structures hidden in all kinds of places, from a temple in the mountains to a small port in a river. You may swim across some Deltas and travel by foot, too. If you get too far from your dragon, you just whistle and Red comes to pick you up. It’s just enjoyable. 

Crystal in a temple fits quite well!

Overall, I really enjoyed the game to this point but I noticed that it still needs some polishing and some more updates here and there. I’d be intrigued to see how this game fairs in VR and how people would enjoy it in that context but at the same time, me and my fear of heights don’t want to try that out, haha.

It’s only going to come out and I only got a key for review purposes, so some of the following issues might have been gotten rid of in the future, so I’ll probably revisit this game by then as well… but yeah, there are flaws. 

I love this area so much!

For instance, it feels really slow to travel on foot. Quite often I’d call my dragon and I’d just fly a small distance to get closer to a crystal I wanted to collect, or I’d just ride it on the ground to reach a point. 

There are also some spots here and there where the world feels a bit janky. Your character, for instance, can’t seem to climb up ledges all that much and often seems to struggle with going up the smallest hills. There are also areas where your dragon struggles, like when you run into a hill while attempting to fly up and your dragon just lands again, which can be a bit annoying but you get the hang of the flying and starting rather quickly, so that may be overlooked.

We’re a fast boy! And if we beat this race, we get a speed upgrade for our dragon!

I also noticed that some features seem to not be implemented into my version just yet, like different markers on the map or story-parts on different monoliths. I’d find a monolith in a new area but can’t seem to interact with it at all, so I guess it’s going to get added very soon after or even on release. 

And then there’s an issue that I have with the crystals. Some of them are placed in interesting ways like on the palm of a giant statue or at the top of some ruins but it can be quite hard to get to them due to different polygons of the game and the weird difficulty your character seems to have with them. There also some spaces here and there where you’d seemingly get showered in crystals while other areas are rather scarce of any at all. I would love it if you had to collect less in total and if the crystals would be rarer or if the movement speed of the character got buffed a bit more so that it feels less like a hassle in these areas. 

So fabulous!

For the first story-piece from the Crystal, as an example, you need to collect five crystals while you need fifty crystals for the second fragment of a story. It seems like a bit of a jump and I would rather have enjoyed smaller steps like a new fragment every 25 crystals since the story is the hook that keeps you playing. Without the story and the exploration part, you might get bored eventually after two to three hours of flying around. 

But regardless of that, I would say that it’s a solid premise and, while it needs some polishing, it is definitely worth checking out for anyone who likes the idea of it and enjoys truly open worlds without invisible walls

Yup, a pidgeon on a skateboard.

So, in the end, I’ll have to revisit it in the future once it got updated a bit more or once it hits the release and possibly gets polished more. I can definitely feel the love that got put into this world and the game in general and I really enjoyed my time. While there are flaws, I would say that this game is like a gem that just needs a tad more polishing. I feel like that describes it quite well. 

The game already is available for 12 USD on itch.io, which in my opinion is a fair price for what you get out of it. The steam price will probably be somewhere around that, I guess.
I definitely will come back to this game every now and then as it’s quite relaxing and rather colourful, especially when it gets updated more in the future!

STORY TIME!

I hope you enjoyed this review. Thanks a lot to the dev, Gordon Little, for providing me with a review key for this game. Please check out the steam store page and wishlist this title when it comes out. And please take care, the whole pandemic-business is still not over. 🙂

Cheers!

Indietail – Risk of Rain 2

A while ago I reviewed Hopoo Games’ Risk of Rain 1 and it’s to-date one of my favourite games. It’s a lovely Indie-Action-Roguelike-title with a very nice combat system, a wonderful soundtrack and a timer that is increasing the difficulty the longer you take to complete the game. Hopoo Games released Risk of Rain 1 in 2013 and then announced that I wanted to develop a second game that would take place in the third dimension! A whole new game that would play like a third-person-shooter but still remain true to its core-values that made RoR1 a RoR-game. And well…. since March 2019 it’s Hopoo’s time to shine as Risk of Rain 2 released in Early Access and as tons of people discovered it for themselves, gave feedback on the discord-server, streamed it, made videos on it and wrote about it.

The Warbanner is, still, one of my favourite items! Here it provides us with a buff in this globe around it, upon level up!

But how do I like Risk of Rain 2 and do I recommend it? Let’s find out!

Note: In this review, I will be comparing the second game to the first game quite often, so I recommend checking it out over here. Of course I’ll review the game as usual in different aspects, so there’s going to be a lot of reviewing on parts that are new or that make RoR2 unique, so enjoy this review. 🙂

Developer: Hopoo Games
Publisher: Gearbox Publishing
Genres: Action, Adventure, Rogue-like, Indie, Third Person Shooter,
Release Date: March 28, 2019
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC, XBOX One, PS4, Switch
Copy was purchased.

For anyone who doesn’t know about the Risk of Rain games (I suppose, it’s a franchise now), you essentially spawn on a foreign planet and fight off monsters while searching for a teleporter to get to the next area. Fighting enemies grants you experience (that levels you up, increasing your stats) and gold. Gold can then be used to open up chests and receive items that grant you all kinds of special perks from stat-increases (like attack speed or move speed up) to game-changing elements (like poison damage or exploding enemies).

When you find the teleporter, you activate it to spawn the last waves of enemies and to spawn the boss who you then have to defeat to get rewarded with yet another item and to proceed to the next level. Dying never felt unfair and there were a ton of possibilities of item-combinations to make you super overpowered and it’s really great!

While Risk of Rain 1 better when using the gamepad/controller, due to its platforming-nature, Risk of Rain 2 plays better using the mouse and keyboard since it requires a lot of aiming. Don’t get me wrong, gamepad-controls still work quite well, but I’m better at aiming, using a mouse. Controls are rather smooth, you’ve still got your shooting ability, second ability and ultimate, as well as some sort of mobility-ability. You can remap the keybindings but I found the standard ones to work out just fine. There’s also a whole new sprint-button and as I’m not used to that being a thing, I forget about that button more often than not.

The aforementioned sprint-button is very convenient since the new levels are massive!

Being procedurally generated, they offer a lot to see with different biomes and different enemies depending on what level you are at. The chests and the teleporter are also located on different spots, so you always have to find them. I really enjoyed the wide areas and the feeling you have when you’re standing up close to the bosses. You’re just tiny compared to it all!

INTO THE ABYSS

Speaking of bosses, we can find a lot of RoR1’s enemies and bosses in the game as well.

From the Whisps to the Lemurians and Stone Golems (on the enemy-front) to the Magma Worm, the Wandering Vagrant, the Imp Overlord, the Scavenger, and the Stone Titan (on the boss front). These still have similar patterns to Risk of Rain 1 but since we’re playing in the third-person-view a lot of their attacks are wide ones with great areas of attacks and different moves. There are also new bosses like the Clay Dunestrider, the Beetle Queen, the Alloy Warship Unit and, one of my favourites, the Grovetender.

These new bosses either spawn enemies or pull you in, some have chain attacks while others have special conditions that need to be met before they can spawn. It surely is really interesting to see these new bosses in the game while still keeping some old fan-favourites in the game.

A blue portal brings us to a whole new merchant that is able to provide us with new items… for a price!

Hopoo Games changed the boss-mechanic in a way, though. In Risk of Rain 1, once you’ve activated the teleporter, you’d have to defeat the boss and all enemies that have spawned in the next [time based on difficulty] seconds. This “clean up” of sorts was rather annoying but manageable in the first game.

Now, in the second game there’s no such thing as a “clean up”. Once you activate the teleporter, a globe around it is displayed with a red circle in which you need to stand to charge the teleporter up. In that time, enemies keep spawning while the boss (still) is attacking you. Of course, you can leave the area around the teleporter, but it won’t charge in that time and the boss will follow you around. Once it’s charged up completely, you can use the teleporter right away after defeating the boss, resulting in your excess money getting converted into experience points.

I really liked this change as it meant that you’d have to tackle bosses differently and as you couldn’t just wait the event out and then clean up slowly.

Into the next area!

The old enemies along the side of new enemies like the Brass Contraption and the Beetle Guards really make the world feel lively although dangerous.

There’re a lot of new attacks to look out for, coming at you from all sides. Lesser Whisps are rather weak but since they spawn a lot and since they are flying, you need to take care of them rather quickly as they do hurt a lot. And then there are the slow but sturdy Stone Golems who attack with a laser beam but need to charge up slowly after every attack. I really enjoyed this variety and new enemies are being added in every new update.

And then there are new items, too, along side old classics like the Soldier’s Syringe that increases the attackspeed-stat or Paul’s Goathoof that increases movement speed. I really enjoyed seeing these items again while also having new items like Little Discipline (which shoots out whisps from a container) or the Queen’s Gland (which spawns a Beetle Guard on your side that attacks enemies and can block shots for you).

Facing off against the Clay Dunestrider!

Just like in the first game the soundtrack, made by Chris Christodolou again, is awesome!

It’s very Risk-of-Rain-ish and fits the game like a metaphorical glove. It’s very space-y and futuristic while also atmospheric and, although it fits the game, it’s still all new and doesn’t rely too much on the first game’s soundtrack. I really enjoyed it. Along with the all new soundtrack, there is also a new style present in the game. Hopoo Games teamed up with Gearbox Publishing (whose dev studio is behind the Borderlands Games) and created an all-new style for this game. It now uses some sort of cell-shading-style that uses the same colour palette as Risk of Rain 1 and therefore remains true to its original colours but still has a new sort of freshness to it that looks quite rad, to say the least. I really like this new style and while I loved the pixel-artstyle of the first game, I can see how it doesn’t fit the new Third-Person-view and that this style is still fitting it quite well.

My favourite biome, the Scorched Acres! It’s so pretty and warped!

But while I love the Risk of Rain franchise, there certainly are some issues with it.

While Multiplayer has been fixed and is easy to set up, the devs’ fear of the MP overshadowing the SP came true and because of that I kind of feel like it’s not worth playing the game if you can’t play it with friends. Sure, it certainly is challenging and fun while alone… but it’s a lot more fun with friends as you can strategize a lot about who takes what items and how you build your characters.

And the other issue I had with the game was the fact that dying in MP means that you need to wait and spectate while your friends clear the level and venture into the next one. Once you’re there, you have less items than everyone else and therefore may be struggling more, resulting in a bad experience. I would have liked it if you’d spawn in as a “pet whisp” or some sort of enemy and play as that one for the time-being to either screw with your friends or help them beat the level. The current system really hurts the fun that I had with the game. And then there are the characters.

The Imp Overlord is back at it again! Scary!

Also, I found some of the unlock-criterias in the first game better than the new ones. But I guess that’s just a preference-thing. While I’ve unlocked a lot of items and new areas of the game, I think it’s worth mentioning that I have yet to unlock all of the characters, but since Multiplayer is a lot more fun than playing alone, I’ve experienced this weird feeling of not being as motivated to play alone as I was with Risk of Rain 1. I still start up occasionally and play a few runs, sure, but it’s not as frequent as I would have with RoR1, due to the fact that a lot of my friends don’t play it as often anymore. (If you want to play it with me, hit me up!)

And since the maps are so huge, I found it rather hard to keep track of the teleporter. Every biome has a few variants to it and the teleporter can be found in a lot of different locations. Quite often, however, I would have found the teleporter early on but would decide on actually getting more items first and then I’d get lost, resulting in having to find the teleporter again. I’d like it a lot if you could pull out a map (while the game’s not paused) to mark stuff on it or if the waypoints set with the middle-mouse-button were permanent, so that you can permanently mark chests and/or the teleporter. That’d be great.

Dio’s Little Friend (JoJo-Refernece much?) revived us here when the Imp Overlord let us experience his rage! Lucky!

Overall the game has a few flaws but since it’s in Early Access it constantly gets updated with a very dedicated dev team and a community that tries to give as much feedback as possible. The community for this game is great, the new additions to the game have been interesting and didn’t hurt the game’s spirit at all but rather helped it reach new heights! And it’s not finished yet. The journey keeps on going, so there’s more to be expected in the future!

So, I’d give it a recommendation.

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed this review!

Cheers!

Note: Screenshots were taken from one run. As I didn’t want to spoil too much, I only featured these three areas and the blue portal but I can assure you that there’s a lot more to see!