Developer: SCS Software Publisher: SCS Software Platform: PC – Amazon, Direct, GamersGate, Green Man Gaming, Humble Store, Steam Thanks to a continuous deluge of them on Steam, many gamers are tremendously annoyed with simulation games. Getting into extreme minutia such as Munich […]
Developer: OVERDRIVE Publisher: MangaGamer Platform: PC – MangaGamer Dengeki Stryker is a visual novel that tells the story of a young boy named Yuuki Yamato and his unyielding desire to be a hero. Thanks to some extremely strange circumstances, h […]
Developer: Phoenix Online Studios Publisher: Phoenix Online Publishing Platform: PC – Direct, GamersGate, GOG, Steam In 2012, beloved game designer Jane Jensen started a Kickstarter campaign for her own development studio named Pinkerton Road. Money was raised for Moebius and Mystery […]
Developer: DigiFX Interactive Publisher: Merit Studios / Night Dive Studios Platform: PC – DOS, GOG, Steam Harvester, along with a few other FMV adventure games, paved the way for ridiculous violence in the 90s gaming scene. Of course, this was […]
Developer: Virtual Playground Publisher: ValuSoft Platform: PC – Steam Being a fashion designer is something I’ve never dreamed of, but for some reason I am still compelled to play any fashion-related game that comes into my hands. From Barbie Fashion […]
Thanks to a continuous deluge of them on Steam, many gamers are tremendously annoyed with simulation games. Getting into extreme minutia such as Munich Bus Simulator and Warehouse and Logistics Simulator, well, it is easy to see why such distaste exists. Euro Truck Simulator 2 blended into that lot for me until I finally played it. Then I realized that this is not just a dull budget release but an excellent game overall.
As you might guess, the game is focused on driving through the European continent in a big truck. You’re a trucker who takes on the missions of others and can even run their own company. To start with players can only tow newbie cargo for lower prices, but eventually you level up to transport fragile and dangerous materials.
Much of Euro Truck Simulator 2 is spent on the road between destinations. If you need your gameplay fast and exciting then run away now. Everything about this experience is slow but it works well. I’m someone who has always enjoyed simply “touring” games such as Grand Theft Auto and obeying the traffic laws. Doing so here is expected (unless you want to get ticketed all the time).
Only this time, all the minutia I’ve always wanted to live out my mundane driving fantasies are available here. There are windshield wipers, turn signals, headlights, and more on every truck that players have total control over. Many won’t find this exciting but this is just the kind of simulated features my interests trend toward.
My inaugural drive with the game lasted five straight hours. That says something, especially when my average gameplay sessions typically last an hour. Euro Truck Simulator 2 is such a simple concept and is executed near to perfection.
4 out of 5 alpacas
Even if we don’t admit it, oftentimes people simply want to feel like they “belong” somewhere. This is why we often see groups and cliques form. The gaming community is notorious for this by trying to shoehorn out people who like different games than them, or speak about games in a different way. Belong takes those experiences of being shunned and transforms them into a poignant game.
You start out as a small shape and explore a black landscape for others willing to accept you. Some are different shapes or different colors but no one wants to let you in. Yet, the game has suggested that there is a place for you. But where is it? Wandering the bleak blackness leads one to believe there is no end to the game. Maybe there really is no place for you?
Visually, Belong removes anything that could be construed as distracting from the experience. There are no genders or races or religions on display but simply a square, triangle, and circle of three color configurations. Simplicity allows all players to wedge themselves into the plight of one lone, slightly different shape.
There is an ending, and I felt surprisingly satisfied by it. All in all the game takes ten or so minutes to complete so there’s little reason to avoid playing. It’s a very simple title with a message that we can all relate to. Belong may have been the first game I’ve played by Liz Threlfo but it definitely won’t be the last.
Platform: PC – MangaGamer
Dengeki Stryker is a visual novel that tells the story of a young boy named Yuuki Yamato and his unyielding desire to be a hero. Thanks to some extremely strange circumstances, h gets his wish and the superhero Dengeki Stryker comes to life. Cho Dengeki Stryker is the ultimate version of the game as it adds on new chapters to fully flesh out the story. If you’ve never played Dengeki Styrker then check out our review. This review is focused purely on the new content. Interested players can purchase Cho Dengeki Stryker as either a patch or complete game depending on their needs.
In 2012, beloved game designer Jane Jensen started a Kickstarter campaign for her own development studio named Pinkerton Road. Money was raised for Moebius and Mystery Game X (which was later revealed as a Gabriel Knight remake). I backed the project because of my longstanding love for her work and waited impatiently. We’re finally at that point. Moebius: Empire Rising has launched and it does not disappoint.
Malachi Rector is an antiques dealer with more than just a keen eye for detail. For reasons unknown, he has incredible powers of deduction that allow him to “see” things not apparent to normal people. Because of his talent, his antiques business is quite successful, but there’s not much else to his life. This changes once Malachi gets wrapped up in a very unusual murder and subsequent investigation.
A mysterious government agency takes him in and asks him to comply with very strange requests. They want to use his power to match living people with the historical figures their biographies most mirror. Both Malachi and the player are initially in the dark, but agree to the request. Even if you’re not a history buff you’ll leave Moebius with a great deal of new information thanks to an interesting puzzle system.
Most of the game plays as a standard point and click adventure. From a third person perspective you click on objects to look and interact with them. Inventory is kept in check to keep it from getting unwieldy, and there’s always the option to look at hints if you get stuck. Where Moebius diverges from the crowd is in asking you to identify characters as people from the past. After gathering clues about their lives, you sort through a list of pre-determined historical names to see which is the best match. In doing so, you get a huge dose of information about these people and their contributions to society, whether positive or negative. It’s not all based in “literal” history either as names like Medea make an appearance.
One of the most exciting aspects of Gabriel Knight for me was always the amount of history intertwined in the storyline. Moebius attempts the same goals although I feel it doesn’t do so with quite as much tact. Yes, the storyline revolves around it, but you are still “taught” a lot directly through the identification puzzles.
As has always been the case, any game involving Jane Jensen has stunning backdrops. In this specific instance, areas appear hand drawn and are expertly designed. Colors are bright or dulled as need be and bring locations to life. Unfortunately, the character models do betray their gorgeous setting somewhat. Mostly, that’s thanks to the incredibly off animations on display. Malachi shambles weirdly around, stopping and going with no regard for actual human movement. Eventually you get over it and stop noticing (at least I did) but it was an unfortunate note to start off on.
All of that is fine and good, but what of the story? Moebius was anticipated for a reason and it should stand proudly as another great tale by Jane Jensen. Malachi has a dry wit that endears us to him and the other characters have wonderfully distinct personalities as well. The way the story intertwines between everyone is intriguing and urged me to continue playing despite sleep, work, and other tasks. On the rare occasion I got stuck in a puzzle, it would frustrate me primarily because that meant I couldn’t yet get to the next part of the story.
Adventure fans who have been waiting for this game should feel secure in purchasing it immediately. Moebius offers an immensely engaging story, great characters, and a neat mechanic. There are points where it stumbles but they can mostly be forgiven. It’s a shame the package couldn’t be a bit more polished, but even then Moebius: Empire Rising still shines through as a must-have title.
4 out of 5 alpacas
Review code provided
About our rating system
Harvester, along with a few other FMV adventure games, paved the way for ridiculous violence in the 90s gaming scene. Of course, this was right around the time that people began to express concern and attempt to enact legislation about violence in video games. Instead of taking on the issue in a professional manner, developers rushed to make the most foul media possible. Harvester is a tremendous product of that era and somehow still manages to be shocking.
The town of Harvest is stuck in the 50s. Women are obsessed with the PTA bake sale and little else while men appear to have their own fascination with meat. Everyone is in love with the mysterious Lodge. Steve wakes up in Harvest with no memory and realizes the townsfolk are completely out of it. He finds his supposed wife-to-be Stephanie is also aware of the disturbing nature of Harvest. Steve decides to join the Lodge in hopes of finally leaving this ridiculous town.
As this is an adventure game, there’s a ton of puzzles to solve as you point and click your way around the small town. Most aren’t too difficult but some do seem to expect solutions without ever hinting at them. One nice feature of Harvester is that it won’t let the game progress if you’ve missed out on any key items. There are a good deal of colorful townsfolk and you’ll want to talk to most of them each day, although some are best left alone (nuclear base, anyone?).
The real meat of the game is simply talking with the townspeople and seeing what ridiculous event transpires next. Everyone is just so odd that they captivate you for the hours it takes it beat the game. I was perturbed by certain characters because things have changed over the years.
Is it really a great gag when the firemen are all lisping interior decorators? No, not really, nor are other characters who refer to them in derogatory ways. There’s also Stephanie’s proclivity to wearing lingerie and nothing else multiple times during the game. If aspects such as these were left out the experience would be easier to recommend. And even so, Harvester lends itself to a car crash reaction, where you can’t help but explore it entirely despite its inherent nastiness.
Harvester is beyond the B-movie. It reaches Troll 2 levels of ridiculous and that’s why it makes you need to beat it, just to see this all through to the end. As it turns out, Steve isn’t nearly as much of a kidder as DigiFX Interactive were. Playing Harvester takes one back to an absurd era of gaming where developers would rather give legislators the finger then ever tone down their games.
3 out of 5 alpacas
Review code provided
About our rating system
Developer: Virtual Playground
Platform: PC – Steam
Being a fashion designer is something I’ve never dreamed of, but for some reason I am still compelled to play any fashion-related game that comes into my hands. From Barbie Fashion Designer until now, I’ve been seeking the perfect fashion game. Nope, Mission Runway isn’t it, but it is better than some out there.
In Mission Runway you participate in a TV show competition (modeled no doubt after Project Runway). Each “week” the designers compete in a themed challenge, get their fashions judged by a panel of celebrity experts (Tyra Banks lookalike and all), and someone always gets sent home at the end of a show. Hopefully, you can become the contestant that wins big!
Like most mission-based fashion games you simply have to create designs that relate to the themes in question. If the contest is for business wear then you’d better not throw your model onto the stage with a ball gown. Similarly, beach outfits should not likely contain pants and a giant jacket. That said, you can still mess around with the different style types and clothing once you get a feel for how generous the grading is.
That’s one of my favorite things in these otherwise not particularly deep fashion titles. I love attempting to game the system by creating the strangest outfits that still succeed at their goal. Of course, there are times I try to make pretty outfits too but my eye for it is pretty poor. With that said, the game takes less than two hours to beat if you know what you’re doing and there are not enough outfit choices that look anything other than horrendous. Since Mission Runway is supposed to be all about fashion it would have been nice to see more on display.
1 out of 5 alpacas
Platform: PC – DOS, GOG
If we were to be transported back to the start of the 90s we’d see that adventure games were still king. The two main combatants in the ring were Sierra and LucasArts, although many others tried to emulate them. One of MicroProse’s adventure game efforts was Rex Nebular and the Cosmic Gender Bender. With its own brand of adult humor, it actually does succeed in certain respects, although it falls apart in others.
Our star is Rex Nebular, an apparently for-hire thief, who regales a very strange tale that took place as he attempted to recover something for a mission. While searching through the galaxy his ship is intercepted by hostiles who shoot him down, landing him on their planet. As is quickly revealed, the planet seems inhabited purely by women. The Great Gender War proved women the dominant gender thanks to their incredible biochemical skills, which wiped all dudes from existence. Rex is set to either be killed or used as livestock to keep the population growing.
Although that might sound like some sort of tawdry sci-fi lit, Rex isn’t exactly enthused at either prospect. What he cares about most is his mission and heading home. Of course, puzzles slow his adventure. Rex Nebular and the Cosmic Gender Bender has multiple difficulty settings which dictate how many of the puzzles a player has to deal with. Although none are impossibly obtuse, some are a bit mean. Inventory management is downright horrible as you must scroll through an ever-increasing list of items to find the one to use. Anyone who relies on guess and check for puzzles will be in a world of pain here.
Most point and click adventures that weren’t from the big companies had a hard time with humor. This game actually manages to (mostly) nail it. Jokes are ridiculous and silly without resorting to gendered jokes as I expected would be the case. Honestly, the whole “Gender Bender” thing seems overblown in an otherwise relatively tame adventure experience. Women in the game are routinely depicted as strong as they are the leaders of society and inhabit a great many roles. The biggest issue is that all the women fit a stereotypical Western depiction of beauty, minus one who is used as a completely useless sight gag.
So while it is actually a pretty funny romp, it is short and far less interesting than the name implies. The story feels like the beginning of a series of (as of yet unseen) Rex Nebular adventures. Rex just wasn’t cut out for that. Despite excellent writing overall, Rex himself is mostly a blank slate with a dash of machismo. Rex Nebular and the Cosmic Gender Bender is best for adventure game lovers who can handle anything as long as it has snappy writing.
1 1/2 out of 5 alpacas
Review code provided
About our rating system
The contest has concluded! Congratulations to Arsyad Kalua, Colton Olds, and DrPixel!
Hello and welcome to our latest contest on Pixel Pacas! In case you couldn’t tell, we really found Actual Sunlight to be a game that players owe it to themselves to try. Beyond a glowing review and interview with Will O’Neill himself, we’re giving readers a chance to experience the game free of charge! Thanks to the developer we’ve got three copies to give out!
Here are your options for entering our giveaway.
1. Follow our Twitter account - @PixelPacas
2. After you’ve followed us, post the official contest tweet: Actual Sunlight’s serious narrative is intriguing and there need to be more games like it! Pick me, @PixelPacas !
1. Leave a comment on this post describing why you’d like to play Actual Sunlight.
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 Actual Sunlight giveaway ends on Sunday – April 13th 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 is updated whenever a new giveaway goes live.
Last week we reviewed Actual Sunlight and were drawn in by its intense narrative. Developer Will O’Neill was gracious enough to let us have an interview with him discussing the game’s creation and a little bit more. Today Pixel Pacas is proud to present this great interview!
Pixel Pacas: How did you get started developing games? Were there any independent developers you looked up to at the time?
Will: Actual Sunlight is my first game, but I have a much longer history as a creative writer. Eventually, I had the thought that maybe I should try to merge my writing into the world of the games that I also loved and had spent so many of my years living. I was definitely inspired to believe that it was possible through other very story-heavy games such as Christine Love’s Digital: A Love Story, as well as Kan Gao’s To The Moon. Atmospherically, I love a lot of survival horror games – Silent Hill 2 especially. The best written game of all time in my opinion, however, is Star Control II…!
PP: Were there any points during the development of Actual Sunlight that you feared it would not be completed? How long did it take to finish the project?
Will: I wrote it in the second half of 2012, and at that time was sort of restarting an earlier version of it that doesn’t really resemble what it eventually became. I was worried all the time. You worry all the time. I was so relieved when a lot of things started to click, and the pace of my writing on it really picked up towards the end of 2012, ultimately enabling me to release the very first version of it in 2013.
PP: What led to design decisions such as the RPG-esque visual style?
Will: I liked the idea of doing it in RPG Maker VX ACE because I felt it would be a way of commenting on the way Evan saw the world: Through the eyes of a person extremely trapped in himself and his own addictions, especially games. Of all the tools that somebody with my lack of experience and expertise could have used to make a project like this, I think I chose the right one.
PP: Did you have any expectations to how the gaming community would respond to your game? Have you been surprised at the response since its initial launch? Have things changed due to the Steam release?
Will: When I was finished, I knew that I had done something that was really quite good – definitely better than anything I had done in the past. Still, I was very surprised to see just how many people were really moved by the game, and how deeply. I have more than one letter that starts with ‘I never write to game developers’ and which then proceeds on for hundreds or even thousands of words. I’m very honoured by the things that people have shared with me in return for what I’ve shared about myself through the game.
It’s too early in the Steam release to know if anything will really change, but I doubt it – hopefully it will just be the same thing on a much larger scale. I’m really proud of Actual Sunlight and want it to be played by as many people as possible.
PP: Will you continue to pursue making serious, narrative-focused games in the future? What do these types of games offer players that is unique to the medium?
Will: These are definitely the kinds of games I will continue to make – before anything and everything, I’m a writer. The further I move away from that, the less I think I’ll be interested and the worse I know I will do. That being said, I would like to grow, and so I see myself moving towards some kind of greater interactivity. One of the things I’m working on now is in a more traditional adventure game format, so we’ll see how that goes!
I don’t know if they offer anything unique, but I think everybody ought to be up for a good bit of reading now and then.
PP: What made you decide to recreate Actual Sunlight in 3D and what is the current status of that project?
Will: My initial interest was in wanting to create a version of the game that would be playable on a Mac. As I started to mess around with lights and shapes in Unity, however, I quickly started to take it a lot more seriously. Ultimately, people didn’t seem to connect with it the way that they did with the original, but I’d like to continue development on it if the current version does really well on Steam. It’s very much an issue of not knowing whether or not I should dedicate the necessary resources to get it done the way it ought to be.
PP: What were some of the first video games you ever played? What do you play today?
Will: Oh man. I’m 33, so I grew up in an Atari 400 world – the first games I played were old-school Electronic Arts games like M.U.L.E, Mail Order Monsters, Archon, and titles similar to that. Later on I went through early consoles and early PC gaming especially, loving all of the classic Sierra and LucasArts adventures and a lot of other things as well. Right now, I’m into a lot of other indie games, both big and small. Been playing a lot of Nuclear Throne, but I also feel like games such as Horse Master and Save the Date are quietly the most awesome things out there. Papers, Please was also out of this world incredible, and deserved everything it won.
PP: For all those who have yet to experience Actual Sunlight, why should they give it a try?
Will: You won’t necessarily relate personally to Evan Winter if you play Actual Sunlight, but I tried to write him in such a way that even someone who is not like him could understand why he feels the way that he does. If you slow down and invest yourself in it, and don’t try to project your own judgments, I think you’ll find yourself in the middle of a really unforgettable experience.
A big thanks goes out to Will O’Neill for taking the time to participate in our interview! If you’re interested in playing Actual Sunlight, you can grab it on Steam.
This post is part of a series on The Pirate Bay Bundle.
When loading up 45 Guys 1 Brain for the first time I was certain it had to do with zombies. Not only does it have “brain” in the title, but the color scheme is various shades of green and there are tiny little people wandering about! As it turns out, it’s not about zombies at all.
In the game you have to guide a group of 45 pixel people through a stage, starting from the top left to reach the bottom right. Of course, there are various walls, gaping holes in the floor, and electric gates that impede the otherwise simple trip.
Each character is controlled at the same time too. Using the four directional buttons for group movement you must find the best way to keep the majority safe on their trek through stages. The first stage isn’t too bad but by the time you get to the last, it’s likely that most of the tiny characters will end up dead.
There are only four stages in total but that’s all you need to see that the idea behind 45 Guys 1 Brain is quite solid. Even though you only need to keep 10 alive to pass a stage, there’s fun to be had retrying a few times to increase your best score.
Developer’s comment: What the fuck is a pirate bay bundle?