Snake Blocks Featured

Snake Blocks Review

Developer: Spooky Cat Publisher: Spooky Cat Platform: itch.io As a fan of snakes, I could never pass up a game called Snake Blocks. The name might be initially confounding, but it all makes sense once you see this is a […]

Personal Nightmare Featured

Personal Nightmare Review

Developer: Horrorsoft Publisher: Horrorsoft Platform: PC – Amiga, Atari ST, DOS, GOG Personal Nightmare is a great name for a horror game. And heck, there are definitely some horrifying moments in the title. However, this 1989 horror title is steeped with so […]

Blood: One Unit Whole Blood Featured

Blood: One Unit Whole Blood Review

Developer: Monolith Productions, 3D Realms Publisher: GT Interactive, Atari Platform: PC – GOG, Steam Blood: One Unit Whole Blood might just be a game with the most redundant title around. It also happens to be a classic FPS from the […]

Devil's Dare Featured

Devil’s Dare Review

Developer: Secret Base Publisher: Secret Base Platform: PC – Steam When I was young all the great beat ‘em ups had practically passed me by. Sure, I could still head to an arcade and crowd around The Simpsons Arcade Game, […]

Heavy Bullets Featured

Heavy Bullets Review

Developer: Terri Vellmann Publisher: Devolver Digital Platform: PC – Steam Roguelikes have been in vogue for a few years now and yet developers are still finding new ways to iterate on them. Heavy Bullets appeared out of nowhere on Steam […]

 

Snake Blocks Review

Snake Blocks Featured

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Developer: Spooky Cat
Publisher: Spooky Cat
Platform: itch.io

As a fan of snakes, I could never pass up a game called Snake Blocks. The name might be initially confounding, but it all makes sense once you see this is a puzzle title. Every stage includes 2 to 5 snakes and your goal is simple: Move snakes from their starting position to a goal. However, each snake can only be extended a certain amount of blocks. That’s where the puzzling element comes in. How can you organize snakes so they all reach their destinations?

It’s a lot harder than you might think! At first, only stages with 2 snakes are available and turn out to be fairly easy. Sometimes you must work snakes through blocky obstructions and other times work them around each other. In any case, once those stages are completed you enter the 3 snake arena (then 4 and 5). With more snakes comes far greater challenge. Sometimes you might think a puzzle is easy only to realize every snake but one can reach its goal. Thankfully, there’s no time limit or other factors forcing players into annoying conditions.

Snake Blocks Featured

 

Snake Blocks is full of visual personality. The color combinations between snakes and the striped backgrounds just pops in the best way. Similarly, the stylized block snakes are far more adorable than they have any right to be. I found myself taking screenshots simply thanks to the great aesthetics. An included puzzle editor offers creative players full power to create new stages (and tweak visuals as well).

The biggest issue I had while playing was moving snakes. Although you can move the camera it snaps to certain positions. Often, these angles obscure snakes. As such, I had to click and drag where I assumed a snake’s head was to get it moving into view again. Due to the isometric perspective there were also times that dragging a snake moved it to locations other than intended. Issues like these didn’t destroy my ability to play but did cause moments of frustration.

Check out Snake Blocks if you’re looking to give your mind a workout in short bursts throughout the week. It’s not perfect from a control standpoint, sure, but puzzles are still smartly designed. Beyond all that there’s the aesthetic which is simply too cute to ignore!


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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Personal Nightmare Review

Personal Nightmare Featured

Personal Nightmare Boxart

Developer: Horrorsoft
Publisher: Horrorsoft
Platform: PC – Amiga, Atari ST, DOS, GOG

Personal Nightmare is a great name for a horror game. And heck, there are definitely some horrifying moments in the title. However, this 1989 horror title is steeped with so much antiquated adventure gaming conventions that it is extremely hard to come back to today. It seems this is the case with most of Horrorsoft/Adventure Soft’s catalog (see Waxworks).

The best aspect of Personal Nightmare are the graphics. Pixel art has moved away from the “painterly” style that became prominent before 3D graphics took over so this all looks very refreshing. In particular, death scenes (which you’ll come across frequently) are super grisly. Rooms look distinct as well-meaning you won’t get lost in a maze of samey-looking sections. Of course, the map itself is huge meaning you can still get lost for other reasons.

Personal Nightmare Featured

This game uses a parser-based system with some graphical elements. A list of verbs is always present on the right side of the screen. Clicking on one helps fill out the text parser, although you can just as easily type out a full command by hand. Thankfully the inventory has a fully graphical representation although it has a max capacity. Weirdly, your briefcase within inventory provides a secondary inventory which is massive. So, start stuffing objects in there, although this might mess you up on later puzzles.

Speaking of puzzles, they’re where Personal Nightmare gets everything wrong. Not only are you required to carefully inspect every item, but many require inspection before a certain time. Time plays an integral role in the game meaning you can miss a necessary item thanks to dawdling. It’s unforgivable puzzle design as far as I’m concerned because only the most hardened adventure fans will give that a pass. Combine that with some finicky inventory management as well as clunky controls and it just becomes a huge annoyance. Personal Nightmare  is aptly named, but for all the wrong reasons.


Score: 1

1 out of 5 alpacas


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Blood: One Unit Whole Blood Review

Blood: One Unit Whole Blood Featured

Blood: One Unit Whole Blood Boxart

Developer: Monolith Productions, 3D Realms
Publisher: GT Interactive, Atari
Platform: PC – GOG, Steam

Blood: One Unit Whole Blood might just be a game with the most redundant title around. It also happens to be a classic FPS from the 90s. Well, classic to some. I’d always heard murmurings of Blood alongside Doom and Quake but never got around to playing it myself – until now. I’ll tell you one thing, it certainly lives up to its name.

Of course a game called Blood is full of bloodstained nastiness but is there more to it than that? There’s a storyline, although it doesn’t seem to convey very much of interest. The scenes instead seem focused on showcasing awesome 3D models and lighting (awesome for the time, that is). Once you get beyond that it basically devolves into your standard older-style FPS.

Blood: One Unit Whole Blood Featured

Areas are all enclosed, although some are much larger than others. Movement is incredibly fast, almost as if the protagonist is wearing roller blades while decimating enemies. Said weapons are brutal although so are enemies. Even on the easiest difficulty the pace of Blood is fast and never lets up. If you can survive then there are a good deal of “episodes” to play. This is further enhanced by both the GOG and Steam versions including the Plasma Pak and Cryptic Passage expansion packs.

When compared to other games of the time period I feel that Blood was attempting to thematically outdo other games while maintaining a classic aesthetic. It has a neat Gothic feel at times, sure, but otherwise fails to stand out. Blood: One Unit Whole Blood is one of the many average shooters that have graced PCs over the years.


Score: 2.5

2 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Devil’s Dare Review

Devil's Dare Featured

Devil's Dare Logo

Developer: Secret Base
Publisher: Secret Base
Platform: PC – Steam

When I was young all the great beat ‘em ups had practically passed me by. Sure, I could still head to an arcade and crowd around The Simpsons Arcade Game, but outside of nostalgia this isn’t looked upon as a particularly good title. As my first “modern” home console was a Nintendo 64 all those arcade ports on SNES and Genesis also went ignored. With my warped perception of the genre, Devil’s Dare does indeed appear to channel the classic beat ‘em up aesthetic. You’ve got a choice of four fighters (to start), local co-op, pixel art, and a hefty difficulty. But does that work in today’s market?

Really, it depends what kind of player you are. If you cherish the intense difficulty arcade games presented then you’ll be right at home with Devil’s Dare. It even takes things up a notch by bringing permadeath into the equation. As you battle through four different stages you’ve got just one life. Getting killed means that run is over – unless you’ve accumulated enough money (or a Soul Token) to revive. Such items aren’t hugely common though so expect seeing Game Over often.

Devil's Dare Featured

Another reason someone might cherish beat ‘em ups is for the fun they had playing with friends or strangers at arcades. Again, the game hopes to recreate that experience by offering local co-op for up to four players. However, you won’t find any online component. Developer Secret Base stated online play is not in their plans. For some this is no big deal but for others it will prove challenging. Devil’s Dare was designed with multiplayer in mind. When you play solo everything is extremely tough. However, as soon as just two players team up there’s little trouble mowing down most monsters.

One facet I enjoyed a ton were all the references packed into the game. You’ll see obvious jabs at well known horror films, classic video games, and the like. Devil’s Dare most certainly has its heart in the right place. Enjoyment of the game comes down to your adoration for difficult beat ‘em ups and whether or not you can gather friends together to play around the computer. It might not be right for me, with my own friendships often tethered by the ‘net, but there’s definitely a fanbase out there hungry to dig in. Devil’s Dare captures the supreme difficulty of arcade games and does it with a goofy grin.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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Heavy Bullets Review

Heavy Bullets Featured

heavybulletslogo

Developer: Terri Vellmann
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Platform: PC – Steam

Roguelikes have been in vogue for a few years now and yet developers are still finding new ways to iterate on them. Heavy Bullets appeared out of nowhere on Steam Early Access some time ago and quickly forged a following. Since it’s finally out of Early Access I decided to give it a look and see what exactly hooked so many players. Now I understand. Well, sorta.

Heavy Bullets is most easily described as a first person shooter. Players begin with a revolver, six bullets, and (hopefully) a masochistic personality. Unlike most games, bullets count a lot. After shooting an enemy the bullet will lay around waiting for you to pick it back up. Actually, the bullets sort of bounce around toward you but that’s beside the point. Taking care of ammo is integral because you’ve got to kill to succeed. As per most roguelikes, the challenge is rather steep and you’ll spend a lot of time dying yourself.

There’s this interesting item purchase system which is split into persistent and non-persistent goods. Everything is available via vending machines scattered about stages. Weirdly, each vending machine holds specific goods. This means you might really need health, come upon a vending machine, and find it stocked full but useless to your current situation. This whole aspect didn’t jive with me much, nor did a lack of in-game description for what certain oddball goods effects are. I know you’re supposed to buy them and find out but at this point in my gaming life convenience is a blessing.

Heavy Bullets Featured

The thing that stands out most about Heavy Bullets is the art style. Hot damn, it is gorgeous. The 80s Miami-esque color palette is just so good. The choice to keep everything polygonal also fits. Unfortunately, the colors and jagged lines sometimes screw me up. Case in point, I can rarely see snakes in bushes because the colors are too similar. My “fix” is to simply shoot any bush I need to walk by.

As a fan of modern roguelikes, there is definitely a lot to like about Heavy Bullets. However, for some reason it failed to truly capture me like other titles have. It might be my frustration with seeing enemies, or simply the fact that no matter how much I play it doesn’t seem to equate to increasing skills. Ah well, there will most certainly be a new roguelike (or hundred) down the road!


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition Steam Giveaway

Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition Giveaway

The contest has concluded! Congratulations to CaEl84, Jon Snow, and RVIsAHeartless!

Hello and welcome to our latest contest on Pixel Pacas! This week marks the launch of Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition. We’ve shared our opinion via a review and now it’s your turn to give this modern rendition of a classic adventure a try. Thanks to developer Pinkerton Road Studio we’ve got three Steam codes to give out!

Here are your options for entering our giveaway.

Option One:

1. Follow our Twitter account - @PixelPacas

2. After you’ve followed us, post the official contest tweet: I want to go shadow hunting with Gabriel Knight in Sins of the Fathers! Pick me, @PixelPacas ! wp.me/p3taEI-HH

Option Two: 

1. Leave a comment on this post describing why you’d like to play Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers

Note that you are allowed to use both options! This will grant you two entries into the giveaway instead of one. If you do both, make sure you tell us your Twitter handle in the blog comment so the entries get paired up.

Our Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers giveaway ends on Wednesday – October 22nd at 10 AM PST. Good luck!


If you’d like to stay in the loop about our contests and content our Twitter is always kept up to date. But if you don’t use Twitter, we also have a Steam Group that updates whenever a new giveaway goes live.

Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers Review

Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers Featured

Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers Logo

Developer: Pinkerton Road Studio, Phoenix Online Studios
Publisher: Pinkerton Road Studio
Platform: PC – Direct, GOG, Steam

Want to win a copy of Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers? Check out our giveaway!

Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers arrived on PC back in 1993 courtesy of Sierra On-Line. It hit the scene as a more serious point and click adventure game than most. Although I never played it way back when, I did eventually play and adore it. Now, a (little late) 20th Anniversary Edition of Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers is out and leaves me feeling quite perplexed. Did this classic game truly need a remake?

As far as I’m concerned, the storyline is still as intriguing as it was back in the 90s. It stars Gabriel Knight, a writer with a trashy series as his best work. He runs a book store in New Orleans along with Grace Nakimura but even that endeavor flounders. This dull, cash-strapped life takes a turn when a series of “Voodoo Murders” occur. Do the crimes actually have any relation to Voodoo at all or is something else at play? As curious authors are apparently wont to do, Gabriel sticks his nose into the mystery and gets far more than he bargained for.

Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers Featured

Gabriel is definitely an odd protagonist. Early on he acts incredibly sleazy and is full of eye-rolling comments, especially when contrasted against excellent characters such as Grace. Thankfully, he loses most of his revolting nature once things get serious. This is important considering how much dialogue Sins of the Fathers has. There’s a ton. The vast majority is also voiced by a new cast. The most blessed change is Tim Curry’s awkward New Orleans accent finally being put to rest.

As for gameplay, much of the game remains the same as it ever was. This is still a point and click adventure with a hefty inventory and loads of puzzles. A robust hint feature proves to be the best change. Unfortunately, much of inventory management and item usage continues being problematic. For example, many items suggest players “take”, “look at”, and “operate” them even when some options are impossible. It is funny to hear the narrator chide Gabriel if he considers taking a gigantic object, but this will also prove annoying to modern adventure game players. It’s surprising item and inventory usage weren’t redesigned.

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Outside of new voice actors the biggest change comes from completely revamped visuals. Now things have a hand-drawn, painterly look instead of pixel art. Personally, I continue to adore the original Sins of the Fathers’ for its gorgeous aesthetic. I don’t feel that the new 3D models will stand up to the test of time, although backdrops and cutscenes look lovely. Despite the tweaks, one facet that remains between both versions is its intriguing tale which hooks players.

I don’t feel there was a need for this remake, but on the other hand, it serves as a way to introduce new players to the world of Gabriel Knight. If they won’t pick up an “ancient” PC game perhaps they’ll give this gussied-up version a go. All in all, Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers is as good as it ever was even if nothing can quite ever replace the original.


Score: 3.5

3 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Aliens vs Predator Classic 2000 is Currently Free on GOG

Aliens vs Predator Classic 2000

Aliens vs Predator Classic 2000

If you’re like me, you would really love to play the recently-released Alien: Isolation… but don’t have the funds to actually purchase it! While that purchase may have to wait months (or years), GOG is giving away one of the better Alien games of yesteryear.

Aliens vs Predator Classic 2000 is free via GOG right now. The promotion lasts 48 hours so basically interested parties should head over right after reading this post. To receive your own copy you must sign up for the upcoming GOG Galaxy beta with your e-mail (which means if you’re not a registered GOG member, well, you should do that first). Of course, signing up for the beta doesn’t mean you’ll actually be required to use it down the road.

In any case, after signing up you just have to wait a bit. It seems codes will be sent in batches over the coming days. The Aliens vs Predator Classic 2000 giveaway ends on Friday, October 17, at 9:59AM GMT.

Waxworks Review

Waxworks Featured

Waxworks Boxart

Developer: Horrorsoft
Publisher: Accolade, Adventure Soft
Platform: PC – Amiga, DOS, GOG

The early 90s were a scary time for adventure game developers. Horrorsoft, who began with text parser games, created Waxworks as an attempt to bridge that gaming gap. Instead of being a dull adventure game it utilized dungeon-crawler elements to offer copious fights. Of course, it still maintained that classic adventure core by requiring players to lug a heft inventory around.

Unfortunately, the implementation of action elements in Waxworks leaves much to be desired. The game does start off creepily enough, at least. You enter into a wax museum after being ushered there by your Uncle. According to him there’s a curse on your family and your brother will be lost forever if it isn’t removed. Destroying said curse requires entering different wax exhibits which transport players to different planes of existence.

Waxworks Featured

It sounds fine until you realize that every ounce of gameplay is a pain. The adventure trope of clicking on and collecting everything is in full force. Alongside that are constant swarms of enemies to slow progress and chip away at the health meter. Then there are maze-like areas that are far more frustrating than they are fun (especially as more enemies spawn as you try to find a proper path). It’s terribly un-fun.

Waxworks does have some grotesquely detailed artwork and a suitably creepy soundtrack. Had gameplay actually passed muster such aspects would be icing on the cake. As is, these are the only high points most players are likely to find. Only the most determined of horror connoisseurs should seek out this game.


Score: 1

1 out of 5 alpacas


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A Golden Wake Review

A Golden Wake Featured

A Golden Wake Logo

Developer: Grundislav Games
Publisher: Wadjet Eye Games
Platform: PC – Direct, GOGSteam

The 1920s were a heck of a time – and one that is rarely covered in games. A Golden Wake pushes players into the midst of the era’s many facets by placing them into the shoes of Alfie Banks. Alfie’s just a young man trying to make it in the world. After being fired from his New York job, he heads to Florida where a real estate boom is taking place. There, he hopes to use his patented salesman skills to work toward wealth.

A Golden Wake is most certainly one unique point and click adventure game. As Alfie, you get to experience all the fun of being a real estate agent! Okay, that might sound weird, but the storyline and characters do make it all very interesting. Of course, it’s not long before Alfie’s life takes new pathways. The game spans multiple years from the 20s onward, meaning you’ll get to see a great many important historical events.

Something I didn’t realize while playing was that the whole game is in fact modeled loosely after real events and characters. Coral Gables, the city being created at the beginning, is a real place that still exists in Florida today. The characters, too, are mostly modeled after people of that time. Despite having no clue about all this I still was able to enjoy the storyline, characters, and understand what was going on.

A Golden Wake Featured

Puzzle-wise, A Golden Wake  is surprisingly easy (minus one or two puzzles). This is not a complaint! There’s nothing worse than being trapped in an adventure game when all you want is to see the story to its completion. With that said, there were some odd notes in the story progression. Alfie himself seems to have extreme personality changes. Granted, the storyline is supposed to span many years, but the progression of time doesn’t feel particularly obvious.

Taking an adventure game trek through the highs and lows of a bygone era was tremendously entertaining. A Golden Wake nails the atmosphere with its visuals, music, and architecture. I just wish it could have been longer than the four hours it took me to beat it. With a little more fleshing out it would have been even more memorable. Still, A Golden Wake should prove to be quite a pleasant surprise for the adventure gaming community.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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