Posts Tagged ‘2.0’

Eversion Review

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Developer: Zaratustra Productions
Publisher: Zaratustra Productions
Platform: PC – Steam

Eversion is one of those games that it seemed everyone had played back a few years ago. Time and time again, it saw mentions in articles and forum posts about creepy games. I bought it sometime around then, but never ended up playing the darn thing until now.

Mechanically, Eversion is a simplistic 2D platformer with a switching mechanic. It is possible to change the landscape/features of blocks at predetermined Evert portals. Aside from opening up paths through the stage, these also make the game gradually darker and disturbing. Well, as disturbing as a cartoony 2D platformer can be.

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There’s no doubt that this bait and switch worked extremely well around the time of its initial launch. At this point, however, so many retro-styled “secret” horror games are out there that it’s much less shocking. I did get a feeling of tepid surprise, but not much else. Autoscrolling stages in particular proved far more frustrating than frightening.

I likely did myself a huge disservice by waiting so long to play Eversion. This is a game that worked in a specific time and place. Sure, it only takes about half an hour to beat (if you’re not seeking completion), but the greatest asset of the game now feels stale.


Score: 2

2 out of 5 alpacas


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Ray Gigant Review

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Ray Gigant Boxart

Developer: Experience Inc.
Publisher: acttil
Platform: PlayStation Vita

Having recently played Stranger of Sword City, I was ecstatic about Ray Gigant. Finally, Experience would be trying something new! A battle system that’s quick but encourages varied fighting and skill trees to differentiate characters and roles. In many ways, it’s intriguing for the very fact that it breaks out of the standard Wizardry mold. Every change could have lead to an amazing RPG, but unfortunately Ray Gigant feels like a collection of sophomore mistakes.

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Lexica Review

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Developer: d3t
Publisher: Merge Games
Platform: PC – Steam

Games revolving around creating or uncovering words are usually just my thing. After all, much of my free time is spent reading or writing thanks to a love of written language. That’s why I finally snapped up Lexica, and expected its semi-hybrid of sudoku and Scrabble to be perfect. As it turns out, I am totally awful at playing it.

My struggles come from the design of the game itself, which apparently are not as easily understandable as other word puzzle games that came before. Each stage presents a crossword-looking screen which you fill with letters until words form. However, each letter connects to a specific row, meaning you can’t place a letter anywhere at all. This is what makes it puzzling, as players must logically determine where to slide letters with few overt clues.

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In Lexica’s tutorial you’re basically told that puzzle solutions require word logic. Players themselves need to imagine what words could be made with the given letters and remove certain letter combinations which make absolutely no sense. The concept is very cool, but when given the almost total freedom of a blank board my mind fails to focus. Instead it just makes up words that fit without considering potential ramifications.

So, for me, Lexica is a serious disappointment. I recognize that some folks out there will absolutely adore it, as the challenge is better than most word games. There are 100 puzzles and 3 difficulties in all but chances are only the most diehard fans will see the game through to completion.


Score: 2

2 out of 5 alpacas


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Numba Deluxe Review

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Developer: Cobra Mobile
Publisher: KISS ltd
Platform: PC – Big Fish Games, Desura, Steam

Fans of puzzle games are absolutely spoiled for choice on Steam – or really, any digital games marketplace. While looking for match-3 puzzle variations I came upon Numba Deluxe. The game presents players with a grid of numbers and simply asks you to line up three or more in some sort of order. As such, it’s a match-3 title which utilizes numbers instead of colored blocks to allow for “patterned” paths.

This means you’ll be able to create paths by linking together multiple of the same number but also match sequentially increasing values (1, 2, 3, 4), even ones (2, 4, 6), odd (1, 3, 5), or even multiples (2, 4, 8). Each can also be matched in backwards order as well. Despite the simple concept I often found myself sticking to the most basic of routes (repeated numbers or even). Of course, to succeed you must utilize all linking styles.

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Numba Deluxe comes with three modes: Classic, Timeless, and Puzzle. Classic and Timeless are the same except, well, the first is timed. Considering the general relaxed nature of puzzle games, Classic isn’t an ideal play style. Puzzle presents a board which requires careful solving to clear. No matter what mode you select there are some issues inherent to the title.

Sure, the music is wonderfully calming but the board itself is lacking in flair. All numbers are the same color, leaving you to “read” each instead of get into typical puzzle flow. Special blocks (fire, ice, etc) change after a certain number of turns but don’t actually tell you how many turns are left. Finally, there’s little pushing folks to keep playing. Numba Deluxe is a competent little time waster but it doesn’t offer much staying power. If you’re in desperate need for a casual puzzle game allow me to suggest Puzzler World instead.


Score: 2

2 out of 5 alpacas


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Ostrich Island Review

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Developer: MeDungeon
Publisher: MeDungeon
Platform: PC – Steam

You know, I never really expected to play a game where you control an ostrich – but the concept is adorable! Ostrich Island begins with an ostrich who has their head buried in the sand. That’s you. After it quits being a scaredy cat the journey begins. Each level is fairly small and all that’s required is to get from point A to point B (with a great deal of collectibles in between).

The game is incredibly odd at first glance and even in play still seems strange. After all, there’s a button dedicated to digging your head in the sand as well as kicking. You’ll kick a lot if you want the highest score. Kick treasure chests to open them, or kick palm trees to knock the darn things over and collect what they drop. Your main goal is to collect big ‘ol ostrich eggs but there are tons of other prospective goodies.

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Although Ostrich Island may seem incredibly short and linear, you’ll eventually discover the progress gating. This ostrich needs to gain some skills (such as jumping higher or swimming) before proceeding. It’s a bit annoying since all you really want to do is goof off. It’s around this point that the cohesiveness also starts to disintegrate. Suddenly you’re in a dungeon! For some reason there are skeletons running around that kill you! It’s nonsensical in an annoying way given you have limited lives.

It’s safe to say that Ostrich Island is far less aimless than similar animal-controlled games like Goat Simulator. There’s definite purpose. For a while I even let myself get hooked on trying to collect all level items, hats, skins, and achievements. Really, your enjoyment of it will be derived by how much fun you have unlocking stuff versus how well you handle glitchy jumps, annoying progression gating, and the like. Ostrich Island is an odd bird indeed.


Score: 2

2 out of 5 alpacas


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Back to Bed Review

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Developer: Bedtime Digital Games
Publisher: Bedtime Digital Games
Platform: Mobile – Android, iOS PC – Steam

After delighting in puzzler RUSH, my attention shifted back toward puzzle games. Back to Bed first intrigued me thanks to an incredibly distinctive art style but it were the mechanics that sold me. Just like RUSH, you guide something (in this case a sleepwalker named Bob) to his bed. And, in a more similar twist, Bob walks in one direction and turns right when running into objects. On its own, is Back to Bed an excellent new puzzle game?

Unfortunately, I feel it falls short of its promise. Perhaps it’s more that the tremendous focus on artistry kept it from becoming a truly engaging experience. After all, the art is lovely as an obvious homage to M.C. Escher, Salvador Dali, and Rene Magritte. When a game looks this great, though, you expect equal parts greatness within the product itself.

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To be fair, Back to Bed delivers a serviceable puzzle game on a first playthrough. The biggest issue was that it was surprisingly simple and fast (taking under two hours to beat). The difficulty complaint is addressed by nightmare modes of the same stages. Completing nightmare stages is tremendously challenging, but rewarding!

My biggest issue was that the game attempts to play with perspective, but does so only sparingly. As such, when it happens you don’t expect it and may fail many times by not being aware of the weird perspective being integral for puzzle solving. Of course, beyond this the puzzle controls themselves are a bit borked. Sometimes you simply can’t place objects where you want them. As some puzzles are very time-limited this leads to annoying failures due to the controls. Problematic controls in a puzzle game are a huge problem.

Back to Bed is an imperfect game with a lovely aesthetic. If they had pushed creativity further it would be worth rewarding those attempts. However, beyond the visual artistry, everything about Back to Bed feels tepid.


Score: 2

2 out of 5 alpacas


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Z-Run Review

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Developer: Beatshapers
Publisher: Beatshapers
Platform: PSN – Vita

So, what would you do when placed in the middle of a zombie apocalypse? Run! In Z-Run that’s exactly what you do. Playing as one of two characters you simply try to maneuver through zombie-infested streets safely. Of course, you’re still free to pick up a weapon or two along the way to make the trek easier.

After choosing to play as Clair or Alex players get to either work through story mode or test survival mode. Story mode sends players through a variety of increasingly difficult levels. Levels themselves have a third person perspective with the character running directly “forward” in a 3D space. As zombies or other obstacles appear, you can whip out a melee weapon, kick them, or even try to dodge. As the playing field is fairly narrow dodging in particular can be hard to do successfully.

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One important aspect to note is the two bars (health and stamina) which must not drain. Stamina is used whenever you attack, dodge, or sprint. Health drains by being hit. Luckily there are item pickups to restore both bars. Visually, the game is gloomy and a bit repetitive with only a few stage designs to speak of. Sometimes zombies glitch out and that makes for unexpectedly humorous moments. Those spoiled by modern zombie games may also be disappointed by a meager dozen weapons. Still, Z-Run does throw players a bone by letting them level up a host of stats as they play.

Z-Run is a pretty difficult runner that excels in some areas and is lacking in others. It might not have a huge variety of stuff to do, but the core gameplay feels competent. This being a Vita game also makes sense considering each stage isn’t terribly long to complete, lending itself well to portable play. Still, there have been many entries into the runner genre over the years and Z-Run doesn’t quite reach the bar.


Score: 2

2 out of 5 alpacas


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The Witch and the Hundred Knight Review

The Witch and the Hundred Knight Featured

The Witch and the Hundred Knight Boxart

Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Publisher: NIS America
Platform: PS3

Back before I became a curmudgeon old games reviewer, I spent hours upon hours in Diablo and Diablo II. There was something incredibly appealing about clicking away at enemies in these ARPGs. As such, upon hearing about The Witch and the Hundred Knight I found myself intrigued – if a bit wary. But, curiosity persisted and I’ve ended up playing it. So, is this a game worth pursuing?

Maybe. First, let’s get all the basics out of the way. In this game you start out as a teeny, cute blob creature (supposedly male). A crude, cruel witch finds and names you Hundred Knight because it sounds cool. After a brief tutorial session with her, you’re brought back to the real world where she introduces herself as Metallia and that you are now completely under her command.

Metallia is a monster. She might look like a swamp witch but her meanness never skips a beat. It’s hard to recall that many games where you actually are forced to work under someone who could be quantified as evil. With that weird perspective in place, you go about doing things that you know are wrong but simply have to do anyway. That’s where all the ARPG hacking away at enemies comes in.

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The Hundred Knight can equip multiple weapons and get to work beating on everything in sight. Well, there is a bit more strategy to it than that. There’s the ability to chain together multiple weapons for greater attacks, as well as types of weapons which enemies are weak or strong against. The latter is particularly annoying as you may have to frequently switch out weapons when dealing between two distinct creature types.

Another, stranger, feature of The Witch and the Hundred Knight is the GCal system. GCals are effectively a timer placed on you throughout every stage. Work through the whole thing before the GCals deplete or you’re dead! Luckily, there are a variety of ways to replenish it but I still died a lot before figuring out the most efficient methods. That honestly might be one of the biggest issues with the game: Its obsession with systems.

This genre of game doesn’t necessitate massive complexity. And yet, the experience is filled to the brim with them. And for all that work, you can basically ignore 80% of them. Perhaps some will find them intriguing, but that was not a favorable aspect in my opinion. No doubt many will be bothered by Metallia’s attitude as well, but I dug her no-holds-barred cruelty… and was much disappointed by the designer’s intentions with her outfit.

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Visually, many have suggested it looks like a game from the PS2 era but I just don’t see it that way. The character models might be simplistic but they honestly looked really good to me. Similarly, the backdrops were nicely fanciful. The biggest problem with them were that foliage would often obstruct the playing field view. The soundtrack definitely meshed with the visuals, and maybe even did it one better. Every song had a real “character” about it and that made levels more enjoyable than they otherwise would’ve been.

It’s a shame, then, that for as simple as the experience could be that it wasn’t all that compelling in the long run. The Witch and the Hundred Knight doesn’t contain that engaging spark that more famous games such as Diablo managed to have. Without it, you’ll simply have to get by on enjoying the visual design, excellent soundtrack, and unusual narrative. All told that’s not a horrible thing but it could have been better.


Score: 2

2 out of 5 alpacas


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BloodNet Review

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Developer: MicroProse
Publisher: Tommo
Platform: PC – GOG*

Ransom Stark is a New York native with quite the unique problem. At the very start of the game he has a fateful run-in with a vampire which leaves him as one as well. The only thing that is now stopping Stark from feasting on citygoers is an implanted nanomachine in his body that can stop his vampiric transformation – but only for a few days. Will he be able to find a cure before then?

BloodNet is one strange title. It meshes a cyberpunk aesthetic with classic tales of vampires. The city is fueled by technology, drugs, and a giant corporation known as TransTechnicals. Of course, the company is shady as is always the case with corporations in these types of stories. As Stark, you must investigate both in the real world and online to save yourself as well as others you’ll come to meet along the way.

The game could be considered both a point and click adventure and RPG, but most would probably just learn toward the RPG definition. Most characters have a lot to say and offer you quests. Unlike some games, the quests make a lot of sense don’t just sound like elaborate fetch quests (even if they are). This is thanks to the excellent writing. Some may find it drags on and on but I enjoyed getting into the strange world.

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Fights break out sporadically but you might have a hard time figuring them out. You see, there are NPCs throughout the city you can recruit to your team to add muscle, but that’s not all there is to it. You’re also going to want to fashion weapons from existing parts you have (and be sure to equip some to teammates as well!). None of this is explained very well and the fighting system is unusual as well. The player positions their team before initiating a strike, but then it takes on a turn-based battle structure.

The thing about BloodNet is that it’s very set in its ways but is unwilling to explain much of it to players. This goes for the narrative as well as the gameplay functionality. Because of that it definitely is not something you can just pick up and play. It’s a shame because there is a very unique world to explore but it will take most some real effort to get into it.


Score: 2

2 out of 5 alpacas


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Zombie Shooter Review

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Zombie Shooter Boxart

Developer: Sigma Team
Publisher: Sigma Team
Platform: PC – GOG*, Steam

Ah, the twin stick shooter. Its simplicity is what draws me in. Sigma Team are a fairly well known name within the genre thanks to their Alien Shooter games. But did you know they made a couple of zombie versions? That’s exactly what Zombie Shooter is. Instead of aliens you’re faced with copious hordes of the undead.

Players can choose to play as a woman or man and then level up their character between stages. There are a handful of stages and each has its own appearance. Levels aren’t huge although you usually have to locate and then plant dynamite to proceed. Other times, you flip switches to open doors. In any case, enemies constantly flock you making it difficult.

The main method of increasing difficulty seems simply to offer more of the stronger enemies at a time the further you proceed. This is kind of annoying, but also exciting. Playing through the first few levels is a breeze but Zombie Shooter suddenly kicks into high gear. By the end, you’re frantically running for cover and hoping you’ll survive the next massive wave. The leveling system of weapons makes it so you usually don’t run out of ammo, though.

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Graphics are not particularly fancy but they weren’t even at launch. They seem to recall 90s games more than anything of their actual generation. One thing that they got right was the blood. Tons of gore proliferates the screen. Eventually, stages end up being so caked with blood that the floor is entirely red. You can change the blood color but what’s the point?

There are some problems with Zombie Shooter and the biggest is the main character’s ability to get stuck on environment geometry. It happened on three stages for me and was a source of very unneeded panic and frustration. Getting randomly stuck makes you an open target from all angles and routinely caused failure. Another issue is due to the isometric viewpoint. With no ability to change the angle, zombies can be hidden and launch surprise attacks.

All of this is to say that the game is fun, but very brief, and you likely won’t come back later. For whatever reason there is no multiplayer mode which would have enticed me to play some more. It won’t do much harm to play Zombie Shooter but you’ll probably want to seek out something with a pulse.


Score: 2

2 out of 5 alpacas


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