Posts Tagged ‘2011’

Infinite Game Works Episode 0 Review

Infinite Game Works Episode 0 Featured

Infinite Game Works Episode 0 Boxart

Developer: Sakura River Interactive
Publisher: Sakura River Interactive
Platform: PC – Direct, Steam

Have you ever dreamed of making your own video games? In Infinite Game Works, Justin has that dream. After joining up with two classmates, Aki and Cleo, the trio work together to create title after title. Along the way your friendships deepen and have the opportunity to become romantic – but they don’t have to either. Infinite Game Works Episode 0 is the start of a fun management sim series.

Players are tasked with creating games through a variety of traits. They must work on areas such as programming, music, graphics, and the like. Once Cleo and Aki join the party they offer artistic and musical talents respectively. Each day is utilized to work on projects, rest, or buy stuff to increase productivity. Sometimes there are story sequences that often come with a choice. Selecting choices might help a character learn a new skill or trigger a specific story path.

Infinite Game Works Episode 0 Screenshot

You may recall the name and that’s because Infinite Game Works Episode 0 originally launched in 2011. As such, it isn’t entirely comparable to the current age of indie visual novels out there. Yes, there’s a workable GUI but it is somewhat annoying to have to switch between scenes to check various stats and whatnot. There’s also a total lack of voice acting which, depending on your tastes, is a bad or good thing. Sakura River Interactive do intend to remedy old bugs and modernize the title nearer to Episode 1’s release.

There are five games to create in all, which takes three to five hours. As simplistic as the gameplay is I found it very enjoyable. It was incredibly satisfying to work on various parts of the game until each stated it was of “amazing” quality. If only real game creation were so simple! Perhaps it’s a bit too easy though as I ended up regularly having weeks left over to just grind skills further. Finally, make sure you budget early because the game will end if you can’t pay your friends/staff. Give Infinite Game Works Episode 0 a try, and if you like it, stick around for the rest of the series.

Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas

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Blackwell Deception Review

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Blackwell Deception Logo

Developer: Wadjet Eye Games
Publisher: Wadjet Eye Games
Platform: PC – Direct, GOG*, Steam

After Blackwell Convergence, both Rosa and Joey have grown into their roles. The duo has officially set up a spiritual business so they no longer need to discover ghosts on their own. Now, people can simply point them in the right direction. Things are looking up! Well, at least they are at the start.

Blackwell Deception is the longest game in the series yet and that’s because it takes the story in exciting and frightening directions. For one, things that were barely alluded to in the past are finally explained. It also seems that a far more menacing enemy makes their way into the story. What had once been a slightly silly jaunt through a medium’s life has definitely shifted in tone.

I like it. With more cases to solve in a longer span of time, there’s a lot more to discover. For those who prefer adventure games with puzzles, well, they have finally been bulked up as well. It’s not a lot, but there are at least a few instances that require careful thinking. In a way, I don’t appreciate this as it might create a barrier to those who were previously completely able to enjoy the games. Well, at least walkthroughs exist!

Blackwell Deception Featured

One issue with previous Blackwell games was that you always had to go back to Rosa’s apartment to look something up. By Blackwell Deception, she’s finally caught up with the times and has a smartphone! Now you can simply pull it up at any time and perform searches, call characters, and review case notes. This simplification removes most of the tedium which is a very welcome change.

The story has been something worth looking forward to but it is only with the first and fourth game that it seems to have been a truly excellent experience. Even though mysteries are resolved by the end, there is no longer a feeling of peace. Blackwell Deception feels like it’s leading to the climax whereas the middle titles just seemed to be lollygagging around. At this point, it’s hard to wait for Blackwell Epiphany but let’s hope it lives up to the high expectations formed by Blackwell Deception.

Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas

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Storm in a Teacup Review

Storm in a Teacup Featured

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Developer: Cobra Mobile
Publisher: Chillingo
Platform: Mobile – iOS, Windows Phone PC – Steam

Have you been looking for a simple, yet fun new platformer to futz around with? There are a great many titles to choose from, but Storm in a Teacup is one great option to consider. Arriving two years ago for various mobile platforms and in 2012 on PC, the game didn’t take the game by storm. But perhaps it should have considering how much more fun it is than the infamous Angry Birds (and others).

The setup is a little weird. You play as a dude named Storm who sits in a teacup because, why not? Of course, this isn’t an everyday teacup. Instead it is magical which means the thing can move and levitate. You use the teacup to platform through fifty levels. There are definitely physics puzzle elements as you try to discern how to best jump and dodge dangerous objects.

Storm in a Teacup Featured

Visually, it looks pretty. The world is colorful, bright, and cartoony. Disregarding Storm’s completely average experience (white, blonde guy) the world is fairly creative. While passing through a stage, there are also multiple goals to attain. First, you can try to grab all the collectibles. A sticker can also always be found on a level. You just need to figure out how to find or grab them.

Storm in a Teacup controls well despite being made with touch screens in mind. I played through with a Xbox 360 gamepad and it functioned perfectly. The trouble comes simply from tough positioning of objects on stages. You’ll likely die a lot running into spinning saw blades and the like before learning the floaty jumps work.

There are a great many physics/puzzle platformers out there and Storm in a Teacup is one that happens to be worth your time. You’ll get a good deal of gameplay from it at a budget price!

Score: 3.5

3 1/2 out of 5 alpacas

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Gamebook Adventures 6 – The Wizard from Tarnath Tor Review

Gamebook Adventures 2 - The Wizard from Tarnath Tor Featured

Gamebook Adventures 6 - The Wizard from Tarnath Tor

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

This post is part of the Indie RPG Bundle review collection

Many of us have “played” gamebooks in the past whether or not we called them by that name. Perhaps you played Choose Your Own Adventure stories or the Lone Wolf series. Whatever the case, Tin Man Games have been focusing on creating gamebooks for the digital audience and they do quite well at it. The Wizard from Tarnath Tor is the sixth in their Gamebook Adventures line.

The story focuses on your lead character, who begins the story stuck in a trap. You are saved by a wizard who then regales you with a tale about how he came to be there. According to him, he was a wizard from the great City of Tarnath. At least it was until it was destroyed in a rampage. This man asks for you to return to the city and fetch his wizarding tools because he senses that something evil has begun to take place there. And, of course, whether that is believed or not – that’s the journey you must undertake!

The Gamebook Adventure series pays great attention to keeping their games very book-like. Pages look realistic and page flips are animated as well. In a really useful move, you can also increase or decease the font size which is something that can’t be done with a traditional book. The Wizard from Tarnath Tor has a great deal of pages and choices to make along the journey.

As you might expect, it’s the choices that make these games the most interesting. After reading pages of text you are regularly presented with a new choice to make. Choices may reveal hidden objects, new dangers, or simply flesh out the adventure. Battles occur in turn-based fashion with dice rolls deciding the offense and defense of each side.

However, it seems something must have been amiss during its production because the writing does not stand up as well against The Siege of the Necromancer (the only other game in the series I’ve played thus far). No, it’s not necessarily the skill level because I was still curious to unravel the story. Instead, my eyes were regularly drawn to grammatical flubs. That, and the phenomenon of re-using the same word many times in a short span was also common. Even with these troubles, I still found the experience enjoyable.

Score: 3.5

3 1/2 out of 5 alpacas

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Frayed Knights: The Skull of S’makh-Daon Review

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Frayed Knights Boxart

Developer: Rampant Games
Publisher: Rampant Games
Platform: PC

This post is part of the Indie RPG Bundle review collection

If you miss the feel of first person dungeon crawling then you might be initially swayed by Frayed Knights: The Skull of S’makh-Daon. It sets you off on a quest with four warriors as they trek around dungeons, collecting loot and facing monsters as they go. What makes this so different from other games of the genre? Well, for one, the crew are one odd bunch.

Perhaps the biggest way to differentiate this game from other RPGs is the effort done to give each character a distinct personality. Each of the teammates is unique and converse with each other regularly. Through these conversations players get to see how ineffective and ridiculous their team seems. Thankfully, they can perform their roles of attacking, using magic, or anything else effectively.

Frayed Knights Featured

That level of uniqueness is unable to penetrate the rest of the game beyond some enemy designs. If you look past these features, then you’ve got a mostly by the book dungeon-crawler. One neat bonus are so-called Drama Stars which can grant you aid when it’s most needed (ie: reviving a party member), but that’s not a major tweak. Battles can be breezed through if you hammer on keyboard shortcut keys. This is convenient but unfortunately other GUI elements are less user-friendly.

It’s easy to see what Rampant Games were going for when creating this title. Although there is a definite amount of effort evidenced by the title, it would have done better to be backed up by more entertaining gameplay as well. If you can handle the grind, then it might be worth adventuring with the crew of Frayed Knights.

Score: 1.5

1 1/2 out of 5 alpacas

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Empires & Dungeons 2: The Sultanate Review

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Empires & Dungeons 2 Boxart

Developer: Niels Bauer Games
Publisher: Niels Bauer Games
Platform: PC

This post is part of the Indie RPG Bundle review collection

RPGs have come a long way over the years. Most coming from Western publishers now seem to favor wide open fantasies with less interest in strategical planning. Still, others, mostly in the indie scene, cling to the minute specifics that made the genre so endearing to begin with. Empires & Dungeons 2: The Sultanate takes an interesting stance between the two. It is both “old school” but simplified for the modern player.

Players will first be greeted with a map of the current stage. It always shows the location of your castle, the enemy castle, the enemy themselves, and objects of interest on the field. These include resources (iron, wood, etc) as well as dungeon entrances. In this top-down world view you primarily seek out resources or dungeons while also keeping an eye on enemy movements. Resources are used to further strengthen your home base and help generate more, stronger armies.

Empires & Dungeons 2 Featured

Of course, if you want to get money and honor, you have to venture into dungeons alone. Dungeons are also shown from a top down view that is strangely confusing at first. Once you figure it out though, you can venture into different rooms within. Usually, there are enemies to fight although sometimes there are merchants and others willing to barter for items. Perhaps the best feature in this mode is that if you die there is little punishment. The gold won on that dungeon trip won’t be collected but that is the only result.

Perhaps Empires & Dungeons 2 could be considered too simplistic? Much of the play is simply devoted to clicking around the map for resources or spamming attacks in a dungeon. Although this is definitely a turn-based strategy RPG it is surprisingly light on strategy. The visuals are also like to be off-putting to many gamers. In fullscreen mode (the only option), the play screen takes up less than half of my 1920 x 1080 resolution screen. The frequent typos were also distracting. Still, there is some attractive gameplay worth looking past them for if you’d like to spend time with a less stressful RPG.

Score: 2.5

2 1/2 out of 5 alpacas

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Solar 2 Review

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Solar 2 Boxart

Developer: Murudai
Publisher: Murudai
Platform: PC

When thinking about video games dealing with space, I usually picture a 4X strategy title. That, or the Space Quest series. What I don’t tend to imagine is the player taking control of a star and growing into a planet or solar system. Of course, that’s exactly what Solar 2 is about.

Having never heard of the first Solar, this was a pretty big shock. By collecting asteroids or other planets, you can grow larger. Planets even gain their own defenses once you have grown large enough to sustain life. There are a lot of dangers out in space though, such as aliens and other solar systems attempting to expand.

Solar 2 Featured

I think the game is pretty fun for a while as you wander about trying to expand. It gets a bit hard with the missions though as they are not really locked out by difficulty. That means you might be a tiny little planet trying to handle a massive swarm of aliens. At the very least, the mission text has a snide sense of humor that was enjoyable.

If the game were easier I’d enjoy it more, but as it stands it’s a simple but creative title that some many really end up loving.

Score: 2.5

2 1/2 out of 5 alpacas

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Dinner Date Review

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Dinner Date boxart

Developer: Stout Games
Publisher: Stout Games
Platform: PC

Have you ever felt yourself worrying that you’ve been stood up on a date? If so, then this is likely a game you can relate to. If not, then it shows a pretty depressing example of how worrying the whole process of waiting for a date to arrive can be.

As the name implies, you engage in the preparations and waiting for a date to have dinner with. The dinner is intimate, with a single candle and wine, despite being in the protagonist’s cramped kitchen. You can look at the clock – again and again, as well as interact with the objects nearby.

Dinner Date Featured

This is not any sort of typical game focused on gameplay. Instead, you mostly soak up the internal diegetic of the protagonist while waiting for your date’s arrival. There’s nothing wrong with exploring narrative over actual play in games, but have that expectation in mind beforehand. Dinner Date is a neat, if very brief, experience. I just would have liked to see the idea expanded further.

Score: 2

2 out of 5 alpacas

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