Posts Tagged ‘2010s’

Life is Strange Episode 1 – Chrysalis Review

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Developer: DONTNOD Entertainment
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: PC – Steam PSN – PS3, PS4 Xbox 360, Xbox One

I still find it hard to believe that after all this time the thing which brought point and click titles “back” was one of Telltale Games’ licensed games, but it’s hard to complain. Since The Walking Dead, it seems many have followed in their footsteps to create titles with a similar feel. Life is Strange definitely has that sort of vibe, but manages to be its own unique creation. At least, that’s how it feels by the end of Episode 1 – Chrysalis.

You play as Max, a teen who just turned 18, loves photography, and attends a private high school. Her day starts out as bleak as usual until she witnesses a murder. Terrified, she reacts and amazingly manages to rewind time. Thus begins Max’s incredible journey from regular teenager to “everyday hero.” Unfortunately she still has to deal with annoying peers, cliques, and school security.

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Much of Life is Strange plays out like a typical modern adventure title. You walk around in third person, examining objects and talking to others. Where it diverges is with the time rewinding mechanic. For example, you may talk to someone and say the “wrong” thing. Instead of living with that issue, you can simply rewind before saying it and choose another response instead. Oftentimes it seems there is no best choice – but it’s still neat to see how every option plays out.

Things are off to an intriguing start in Life is Strange, although most characters feel ‘2D’ and events incredibly staged. Perhaps that’s just the result of integrating gameplay components. Despite these small detractions I’m interested to follow the game through its 5 episode series.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Grim Fandango Remastered Review

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Developer: LucasArts / Double Fine Productions
Publisher: Double Fine Productions
Platform: PC – GOG*, Steam PSN – PS4 Vita

I have chased the specter of Grim Fandango for years. When it first launched my attention was captivated by magazine articles and photos. I wanted this game – but my computer was not nearly capable enough of running it. Fast forward years until I found a copy at the thrift store… but my computer was far too modern to play it correctly. Finally, Grim Fandango Remastered has given me the chance to play this beloved point and click adventure!

Well, honestly I wish this had happened years ago with the original release and not Remastered. Buuuut… we’ll get to why that is in a moment. First, one must get all the obvious discussion about Grim Fandango out of the way. It tells a phenomenal story with an awesome cast of characters who all exist in El Marrow – the “Land of the Dead.” Manny is a salesman trying to work off his debt by selling travel packages to spirits. Unfortunately, he only ever seems to get lowlives who qualify for super cheap packages. Everything changes when he steals one customer from his coworker and things spiral out of control.

Nearly everything is pitch perfect: the visuals, music, voice acting, and overall story arch are a joy to watch unfold. Some puzzles aren’t particularly logical but this was still a big issue in the 90s. Grim Fandango Remastered leaves most everything alone aside from implementing a new control scheme and giving characters less pixelated bodies. There’s a pretty neat commentary track as well but beyond that it doesn’t feel like enough work to warrant a word like “remastered.”

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Then there are the glitches. Oh boy, those glitches (on PC at least) are monumental. I encountered multiple visual glitches as well as game-breaking bugs that would not allow me to progress in three puzzles. Considering the “puzzle logic” in the game, it’s very easy to simply not realize that an integral part of the puzzle isn’t triggering or has suddenly disappeared. Oh, sometimes it freezes too because why not? Here’s hoping a ton of patches arrive soon to sort the game out because right now Grim Fandango Remastered is a mess.

So what is the end result? This is most assuredly a classic game with amazing characters, art, and a multi-year tale but the current release makes it a challenge to enjoy. Some folks out there have played without glitches rearing their ugly head and that’s fantastic! I just wasn’t one of them. Grim Fandango Remastered, as it currently stands, could cause irreversible damage to the original’s reputation.


Score: 2

2 out of 5 alpacas


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Pix the Cat Review

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Developer: Pastagames
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Platform: PC – Steam PSN – PS4, Vita

Pix the Cat launched on PS4 and Vita last year as one of those PS+ Instant Game Collection titles. At that point I heard tons of people expressing just how good it was! Unfortunately, I didn’t get around to playing it during that time frame. Instead, my waiting resulted in being rewarded with a Steam release. For those who haven’t already played it on PSN, let’s jump right into what it’s all about.

Players control a blue, square-shaped cat named Pix and must collect eggs, which hatch into chicks, and deposit them in little warp holes. The play field looks a bit reminiscent of arcade classics like Pac-Man with a 2D board and twisty rooms. After collecting eggs, the chicks follow directly behind Pix in an increasingly long line. You cannot run into this line – or walls.

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As such, Pix the Cat takes on a fast-paced arcade vibe with heavy puzzle inspirations. While playing you’ll need to discover the most efficient ways around each room to maximize chick drop offs and points. It’ll likely take multiple run throughs to develop said strategies, but the gameplay is enjoyable enough to keep this from becoming monotonous. The only issue I really had was how slow Pix starts off as the most enjoyable gameplay comes when you’re rushing through stages with the timer nearing zero.

Beyond this main mode there are more thoughtful, puzzle-y sections as well as a local multiplayer mode. I’m not a huge fan of the additional modes as the “classic” one is most enjoyable. With that said, Nostalgia mode has outrageously cute visuals so check that out at least once! Pix the Cat is cute, challenging, and a great new take on arcade style.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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HuniePop Review

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Developer: HuniePot
Publisher: HuniePot
Platform: PC – MangaGamer*, Steam

I never would have thought that HuniePop was going to be a game that I’d be playing for over 11 hours until 2 in the morning. At a glance, it looks like your typical mediocre anime dating sim. There are plenty of those floating around, so why bother with HuniePop?

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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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Hexcells Review

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Developer: Matthew Brown
Publisher: Matthew Brown
Platform: PC – Steam

Every single year tons of new puzzle games launch – and I play a great deal of them. So many fall on established styles and therefore fail to draw my attention. Hexcells, on the other hand, provided a fairly unique experience and has captivated many. Now there’s a whole series of games for fans to enjoy. So how is this very first puzzler?

Simply phenomenal. The concepts at play are incredibly simple, which is almost necessary for a good puzzle game. Each stage presents players with a variety of hexagons laid out so they touch one another. Some include numbers on them. Your goal is to activate adjacent cells equal to the number on a hexagon. It might sound a bit weird at first but the quick tutorial stages make the goal understandable.

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With a bit of knowledge under your belt Hexcells throws a handful of increasingly difficult puzzles your way, adding more considerations along the way. Mistakes are allowed but if you make to many you won’t get enough points to continue on. There aren’t a ton of stages in all, which is the biggest letdown. Then again, the game is only $2.99 to begin with.

Hexcells excels at providing a fun and simple puzzle game that requires some careful thinking along the way. By the end I didn’t quite get the hang of it, but it was still enjoyable to work through each included puzzle. If you absolutely love the game then check out its sequels: Hexcells Infinite and Hexcells Plus.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Alpaca Party Review

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Developer: Meow Puff Games
Publisher: Meow Puff Games
Platform: Android, iOS (coming soon)

When we at Pixel Pacas first saw Alpaca Party on Kickstarter, there was absolutely no hesitation before pledging towards the project. After all, we obviously love alpacas! Thankfully, it did meet its goal and now the world finally gets to see the adorable, fluffy fruits of Meow Puff Games’ labor. But is there more to Alpaca Party than just cuteness?

The main gist of Alpaca Party is, well, to throw the ultimate alpaca party. In order to do so, you must buy party favors, upgrade your tunes, and invite different alpacas. All this requires coins, which is simply done by shearing your grooving partygoers when their wool grows long enough. At first, you’ll only be getting alpacas that give very little coins. But as you continue upgrading your alpaca license, you’ll be able to invite rarer alpacas that give out tons of coins.

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There’s also an extra little mini game that Alpaca Party offers called Floaty Alpaca, which plays exactly like Flappy Bird. While Floaty Alpaca does offer coins, it’s nowhere near the amount that you’re able to earn by simply shearing your alpacas in the main mode. It is a nice and charming distraction, however!

Honestly, that’s pretty much all the gameplay that Alpaca Party has to speak of. However, there’s something oddly addictive about it. While I’m doing other things, I’ve been letting Alpaca Party run on my phone on and off since its debut in late December in order to shear my alpacas and earn coins. It’s such an exhilarating feeling when you’re finally able to afford a new party favor or alpaca license! Though the best part, of course, is finding a brand new, super cute alpaca to add to your dancing menagerie.

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So far, Alpaca Party is only available for Android devices. iOS users need not fret, as Alpaca Party should also be available for them soon enough. In any case, if you’re looking for something adorable, captivating, and different, then definitely download and check Alpaca Party out. Best of all, it’s free!


Pink Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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Rock Boshers DX: Director’s Cut Review

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Developer: Tikipod
Publisher: Tikipod
Platform: PSN – PS4, Vita PC – Steam

Zillions of games out there attempt to mimic retro consoles and computers. Rock Boshers DX: Director’s Cut is one of these games, although it takes after the ZX Spectrum far more than a NES or SNES-like title. With harsh colors and barely distinguishable pixel creatures, your goal in this twin stick shooter is to shoot your way to safety.

Rock Boshers DX is enjoyable in its simplicity. Every stage has an entrance, exit, collectables, and often a puzzley challenge to solve. Although it starts off incredibly easy with killing off slow zombies it quickly ramps up in difficulty. Despite the very simple premise you’ll actually have to play levels multiple times to finally do what’s required. Despite the mostly classic and simplistic controls, or because of them, there’s a lot of fun to be had.

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Another high point of the game is the storyline. You are Queen Victoria and for some reason you’re in space. It’s nonsensical concepts like this which used to thrive in gaming’s heyday so it fits perfectly. All the in-game text is flavorful and even provides hints for how to solve stages. Unfortunately, the sound bytes become bit grating with their loud repetition.

Sure, the visuals might be of a style that’s hard to discern and some of the sound effects are annoying. Still, these are part of the atmosphere when making a realistic Spectrum game. Rock Boshers DX is a ton of fun, takes 3 to 5 hours to beat, and still includes some bonus levels with goofy names like “Cheese Dreams.” I thoroughly recommend it but you can give the original prototype a try first to see if this game’s for you.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Fork Parker’s Holiday Profit Hike Review

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Developer: Dodge Roll
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Platform: PC – Steam

Holiday-themed games are pretty common in the history of video games but most of them aren’t particularly good. Fork Parker’s Holiday Profit Hike has a little something over most of these simply because it’s completely free! Of course, even freebies can be stinkers so let’s dive into what exactly this game is all about.

You play as Fork Parker, an apparent stodgy, rich CEO who is on the verge of being canned by the Board of Directors. Seeking to make the company’s profits rise once again he goes on a quest through some snowy vertical cave… to collect random stacks of cash throughout your ascent. Yeah, I sure wish that’s how easy it was to make thousands of bucks.

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The gameplay itself is a mix between platforming and a bit of puzzling. This is because Mr. Parker has a hiking rope and spike which he can use to reach new heights. Throw a rope, hook it on a wall, and then you can continue a rope chain from that last anchor point. However, the rope is limited in length meaning you can’t make a huge spider web contraption to climb up.

It’s a fairly challenging concept at first and honestly it doesn’t become too much easier once you understand. This is simply because the mechanic of aiming is barely present, leading to a lot of mistakes. Fork Parker’s Holiday Profit Hike is frustrating but still a bit addicting. Most players will probably give up before reaching the top of their climb, though.

Bad Smell Review

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Developer: Magicdweedoo
Publisher: Magicdweedoo
Platform: PC – itch.io

After a while, top-down shooters start to feel really samey. This doesn’t mean they aren’t awesome – because they are – but it can get a little draining to see the same template again and again. Bad Smell positions itself within the genre while still offering a fresh spin on things. First off, just look at that art!

The art style seems tremendously like the sort of stuff you’d be able to draw in MS Paint. Yet, as this visual theme remains throughout, it helps to give Bad Taste a distinctly amusing vibe. The bright, cartoony world is very welcoming (and also lulls you into a false sense of security). There are two difficulty settings, normal and hard, though even normal can become overwhelming. In a way the art style hinders things occasionally when it’s simply too difficult to “read” where bullets are on-screen due to visual overload.

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Still, what is offered here is a competent and incredibly unique shooter. Not only are creature designs enjoyable but the music fits perfectly. You can jam out while playing Arcade or Adventure mode. Both offer a mechanically similar experience but Adventure includes themed stages and a few other differences. In either mode you can collect unused bullets back but it’s a fairly slow process. Reloading requires a humorous whack-a-mole minigame, although it gets grating after a while.

Bad Smell stands out in so many ways. Every design choice may not have been for the best, but it’s nice to see someone try different things. It’s a shame that there’s no controller support! If you don’t mind controlling a top-down shooter with mouse and keyboard then Bad Smell should provide a quick burst of colorful, slightly confusing shooter fun.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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