Posts Tagged ‘2010’

Eversion Review

Eversion Featured

Eversion Logo

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.

Eversion Featured

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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Puzzler World Review

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Puzzler World Logo

Developer: Ideas Pad
Publisher: Merge Games
Platform: PC – Steam

Most of the puzzle games I play are based around a single (or few) concepts that you utilize time and time again. Puzzler World takes a different stance by offering a collection of different puzzle types in one package. How many in all? Oh, it’s like something over 1000 different puzzles to play. Yep, this is one game I’ll be working on for a good long while.

Puzzler World includes the following classic puzzles: Crossword, Spot the Difference, Sudoku, Word Search. There are also Codeword, Fitword, Link-A-Pix, and Silhouette which may be classics in their own way but I’d never really played games like them before. Sudoku is pretty odd because (at least in the first 200 puzzles) it doesn’t offer a typical 3×3 grid and instead is 3×2. Perhaps they’re just trying to introduce the concept to unfamiliar players?

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I expected to dislike puzzles such as Link-A-Pix, but really ended up digging them. This one in particular makes you connect similar-colored numbers via a chain of squares (which match up to the specific number). It sounds confusing but is very logical and fun once you get a hang of it. Codeword is probably the worst because I simply am terrible at solving alphabet codes and just use up my hint coins on these.

The presentation of Puzzler World is simple and made for smaller screen resolutions. At 1920×1080 it’s a bit of a mess, but better than the 800×600 windowed mode which makes Link-A-Pix puzzles tough to see. With that said, the collection of games is impressive and you can play them in any order you choose (and even ignore certain types!). Puzzler World is outrageously cheap for the amount of puzzles provided and often goes on sale for even lower.

Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas

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RUSH Review

RUSH Featured


Developer: Two Tribes
Publisher: Two Tribes
Platform: PC – Steam

Puzzle games are both my favorite and least favorite genre. There are always excellent titles to choose from, but some just end up being too convoluted. I wasn’t sure what to expect from RUSH since people don’t really talk about it… After playing it for hours I don’t understand how it was overlooked.

RUSH starts off simply. The basic gameplay concept boils down to making colored blocks reach a destination of the same color. Each block moves across a 3D cube surface and its path is controlled by signs. Signs allow players to make them move up, down, left, right, pause, and the like. If a block hits a wall it will always turn right and continue trekking along.

Tutorials explain all these rules of block locomotion. As you progress through other puzzles harder difficulties eventually open up. Puzzles are a ton of fun because each has its own design with the 3D cubes. Some look like mazes and one even looked like a big crocodile head! I really enjoyed the simple visual aesthetic of the game. Unfortunately, there is no zoom function so sometimes the camera can’t be placed just where you need it.

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The soundtrack in RUSH is phenomenal. It sounds like nothing I’d ever expect from a puzzle game which makes it all the more memorable. Perhaps jamming to the tracks helps my mind better process puzzles? In any case, when something is tough just call upon a hint or two. One hint option shows whether signs are in the right spot or not. The second hint does that but also highlights where additional signs must go. Of course, it’s up to you to decipher which signs specifically go where.

Playing RUSH is not without moments of frustration but fun definitely overpowers it. A few tweaks could have made the game even greater but as it stands more people simply must nab RUSH.

Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas

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Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland Review

Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland  Featured

Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland Boxart

Developer: Gust
Publisher: NIS America
Platform: PlayStation 3

Things were going fairly well for a teenager nicknamed Rorona. Sure, she was basically forced to work as an alchemist’s apprentice to pay off a debt, and her boss was a supreme creep, but it’s wasn’t that terrible! That is until the King decreed that her very shop was to be closed down – no townsfolk even care. This set of horrible circumstances are what awaits players as they play the introduction of Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland.

As Rorona, it is the player’s task to do a series of assignments for the King to sway him into sparing the shop. These twelve tasks are assigned one at a time and each have a due date. The final one being after three in-game years. With this obvious goal in mind, Rorona must work hard to scavenge items, fight monsters, use alchemy recipes, and fulfill the many requests lobbed in her direction. You see, it’s not only the King that has tasks but also the townsfolk and even your friends. Yep, poor Rorona is in for a seriously busy three years.

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There is a very rigid overall structure to Atelier Rorona, which means players can only ever do so many things before time runs out. You can venture outside of town to collect items for recipes and fight enemies along the way. Or, you can scrounge up some money and buy them from shopkeepers. Of course, who you choose to help is also up in the air. If you want, it is possible to completely spurn the King’s requests and help townsfolk exclusively instead, or vice versa. Although it is worth trying to manage both, chances are you’ll still not get the “true” ending without consulting a guide (or being awesome at time management).

In some ways, the game is simplistic. Instead of having a variety of points to draw from in battle, there is only HP. Rorona’s health is utilized for everything. Whether you’re performing alchemy or using a special skill, HP is pulled from. Of course, being attacked also drains some. However, there is no way to die. At worst, losing a fight will send you back home to nurse your wounds for a few days until they heal. Of course, you don’t want this to happen because it wastes precious days. Aside from HP, time is your main currency and it’s always draining!

Using alchemy is a surprisingly simple task thanks to smart menu design. The menu will always pull you to a specific section of items when one is needed for a recipe. Various traits of each item are also displayed, although this can become complex as you learn harder recipes. Without the right traits, you may end up with a poorly alchemized product. Gathering items, however, is not as fantastic. You can only carry 60 at a time and transferring them between the storage box at home and back is a tedious exercise. There are no easy ways to grab a section of items which would have been incredibly useful.

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Visually, Atelier Rorona is still a beautiful game. If you can ignore the sometimes fanboy-focused attire the design is otherwise very pretty. The world is pastel colored and the cel-shading is still as lovely as ever. Some backgrounds look uninspired, but it’s easy to ignore them when being put at ease by the attractive animation paired with a great soundtrack. Then there are the still pieces of art which also look divine. They’re highly detailed, colorful, and far nicer than the standard anime fare. Unfortunately, some of the game’s crude humor makes it into these scenes which really detracts from the overall atmosphere.

Atelier Rorona is a game of surprises. It doesn’t seem like such a pretty game would require strategic play to complete with a good ending but it does. Sure, you can fritter away the years, but then be left with an unsatisfying conclusion. As good as it looks, there are still instances where the writing veers into trite innuendo which has already been provided in many other lesser JRPGs. Although it leaves me with mixed feelings, Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland still managed to sink its hooks in. I’ll become a master alchemist yet!

Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas

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Gamebook Adventures 2 – The Siege of the Necromancer Review

Siege of the Necromancer Featured

The Siege of the Necromancer

Developer: Tin Man Games
Publisher: Tin Man Games
Platform: Android, iOS, PC (Desura)

This post is part of the Indie RPG Bundle review collection

Before being part of a bundle, I have to admit I had never heard of Tin Man Games or their Gamebook Adventures series. However, after playing, I have found that The Siege of the Necromancer is an incredibly entertaining game and something I need to have more of in my life. Why is that? What exactly is a “Gamebook Adventure”?

If you’ve ever played with a Choose Your Own Adventure book then you’re likely familiar with the premise. In this title, you are presented with a long story, almost purely comprised of text (although images pepper some pages). As you read, there will often be choices presented which can lead to very different outcomes. The main goal is, well, to survive the adventure!

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Gamebook Adventures 2: The Siege of the Necromancer starts you out in the middle of action. You and a band of a couple of men are seeking to survive rampaging goblyns. Things quickly go downhill, but you make it out alive. From there, you must explore and visit new environments on your travels. There are a great deal of helpful tools to find but, unfortunately, there are also a great deal of enemies standing in your way!

Battles are more interesting than the Choose Your Own Adventure books of yore because they actually play out more like a RPG. During a fight, you roll dice to set attack power or defense. Enemies roll as well and whoever has the higher roll will either be able to attack, or alternately, dodge an attack. It works out quite well and becomes tense as you watch the dice fall on-screen. Those who think the animation is too slow can also make it quick.

Beyond that, there are seemingly hundreds of choices to make throughout a single playthrough of The Siege of the Necromancer. Even after a successful playthrough there’s still so much left that you can easily give it another run. Put simply, the game is a ton of fun although most might not even consider it a “game”. It certainly makes me want to check out what else Tin Man Games has to offer!

Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas

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