Posts Tagged ‘2013’

Deadfall Adventures Review

Deadfall Adventures Featured

Deadfall Adventures

Developer: The Farm 51
Publisher: Nordic Games
Platform: PC – GamersGate, Steam Xbox 360

In film’s long history, there has never been as humorous and attractive an archaeologist as Indiana Jones. But what about when it comes to games? Well, we could consider Lara Croft and Nathan Drake as riffs on the formula, but neither is exactly the same. Deadfall Adventures attempts to create a new iconic figure with James Lee Quatermain as he embarks on a journey to find a relic known as The Heart of Atlantis.

The story is pretty predictable, with hammy lines and characters. It seems the developers created it with this in mind as an attempt to create a plainly fun experience. As it turns out, the action-adventure FPS isn’t bad, but it’s not the next must have title either. Perhaps this is due to the fact that the features injected to make it “more” than a standard FPS add a little bit.

Deadfall Adventures Featured

Mainly, there are puzzles and treasures to find when not in the midst of firefights. Puzzles range from completely easy to ones that might make players think a bit. But only a little (at least on easy or normal puzzle difficulty). Deadfall Adventures has an included hint system via James’ notebook so you’re never completely stranded. As for treasures, they seem inconsequential until you realize they’re used as currency for player upgrades. Stopping the task at hand to doggedly search a location for treasure is not particularly fun, considering how hard they hide the pieces at times.

FPS segments themselves work but not in a way we’ve never seen before. They’re mostly average, but a few drag on longer than they need to thanks to undead enemy types. Mummies end up appearing a lot to hinder progress and they’re actually immortal – unless you shine light on them. The player is always equipped with a flashlight but seeing an enemy burn up into bits is only cool the first few times. After that, it’s a little annoying to not be able to simply take them down the same as other enemies.

Deadfall Adventures Screenshot

Where the game shines most is in the visual department. It looks good and makes sure to showcase a variety of interesting locales. Considering how the game brings you to locations such as Egyptian and Mayan temples, it would be a total shame if the graphics weren’t up to par. Non-human enemies were also given interesting designs, which is much appreciated. The same can’t be said for James and his gruff, stubble-faced self, unfortunately.

Still, it is interesting to see a game come out that isn’t simply iterating on what has already existed in spades. There aren’t many games that feature treasure hunting  and definitely few FPS titles that include a sizable amount of puzzles. What it comes down to is Deadfall Adventures being a strangely unexciting experience. Overall, Deadfall Adventures wasn’t my cup of tea but it deserves credit for being different.

Score: 2.5

2 1/2 out of 5 alpacas

Review code provided
About our rating system

Redshirt Review

Redshirt Featured

Redshirt Logo

Developer: The Tiniest Shark
Publisher: Positech Games
Platform: PC – Direct, GOG*, Mac Game Store, Steam

For better or for worse, many of us are participants in the “Facebook age”. For whatever reason, we enjoy sharing tidbits of our lives with others while also gaining more insight into others. Or rather, simply using the site as a means to waste time. Redshirt is the first title I’ve played that makes a game out of Facebook. In it, players assume the role of a lowly redshirt (basically, a stock character in sci-fi) janitor on a space station. From there, you can work your way up in ranks thanks to being a skillful social networker.

Redshirt is definitely unique. All gameplay takes place through Spacebook, which helps you forge new friendships or gain new enemies. You want to climb the job ladder but the only way to do so is to improve various skills. In order to do so, you must participate in either solo or group activities… but you’ll never get to have any group fun without friends! So, players must take to Spacebook and comment, “like”, and privately message others on the space station.

Redshirt Screenshot 2

It’s pretty funny to see these fictional characters posting music lyrics, or attempting to flirt with you via status updates. Despite being a cast of total strangers, it doesn’t feel all removed from Facebook. As such, I tend to reject conversations in-game and opt for the impersonal “like” button. It was weird to discover how ingrained my social media habits are that even in a game it was hard to act differently.

In any case, each day you have only so many activity points to spend. Often, there’s time pulled out of the day to go to work as well. Sometimes there are away missions which tend to end with most everyone dying. Events such as these will make you pay attention to your character’s stats, as they need to maintain some balance of happiness and health. Learning how to use the various menus can take some time, but everything quickly falls into place.

Redshirt Screenshot 1

Perhaps my favorite part of Redshirt is the character creation portion. This is because you can choose to select male, female, or somewhere in between as the option is a slider. You can also select to keep that information private (although most species’ still have a gendered appearance). There is also free range of skin tones to choose from! Finally, you can mark an interest in men, women, or both. Only a few games offer such free form character choices like this so I really appreciated it.

With all that said, those who abhor social networking probably won’t be able to get deep into Redshirt, even with all its sci-fi flourishes. Personally, I’m somewhere in the middle. In my case, playing through the game felt like a chore at times while amusing at others. The concepts are cool and it would be great to see social networking examined/utilized more in the future. Personally, I want to see what type of game The Tiniest Shark creates next!

Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas

Review code provided
About our rating system – *Affiliate link

Desktop Dungeons Review

Desktop Dungeons Featured

Desktop Dungeons Logo

Developer: QCF Design
Publisher: QCF Design
Platform: PC – Browser, Direct, Steam

Last year, I found myself falling in love with the roguelike genre thanks to a handful of new indie games. I had never played Rogue, but it was easy to become a big fan of the concepts. After a while though, it did start to drag a little. Each game felt a little too samey. I wasn’t sure what to expect with Desktop Dungeons but it has managed to far surpass all expectations. This is an incredibly fun roguelike that can be enjoyed by new and veteran players alike.

Desktop Dungeons starts off with some tutorials, which in itself is actually rare in the genre. You get the basic mechanics for exploring dungeons, how battles work, and how to make use of magical skills. You’re also quickly introduced to the fact that your little explorers will die – and die often. From there, you can engage in a variety of missions in different dungeons. Or, you can take on a variety of puzzle missions which seek to teach players how to play with strategies in mind.

Desktop Dungeons Screenshot

Whichever you spend your time with, Desktop Dungeons is a ton of fun. It doesn’t hold back, though! You’ll find yourself dying (and losing all loot) often. Sometimes this can be chalked up to choosing the wrong character type and loadout, but other times it’s all due to a lack of strategic thinking. Managing health potions, taking out higher level enemies, and the like all must be kept in mind. Otherwise, your adventurers are apt to be killed off quickly.

There’s nice looking art as well, although it doesn’t scale up very well, so you’ll likely play in a smaller than average game window. But the graphics are certainly charming, as are the silly little enemies. How much fun you have with Desktop Dungeons is based around how willing you are to learn. Dying is common, but with little consequence, so feel free to try out a variety of play methods. Whether your play style is hitting up one dungeon for a few minutes, or playing multiple for hours, Desktop Dungeons offers great bursts of fun.

Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas

Review code provided
About our rating system

Intake Review

Intake Featured

Intake Boxart

Developer: Cipher Prime Studios
Publisher: Cipher Prime Studios
Platform: PC – Steam

Arcade shooters are one of my biggest guilty pleasures. I’m not generally very good at them, but they suck up my time all the same. Despite having experienced many flavors of shooters, Intake was still quite a surprise. The latest game by Cipher Prime Studios distills the shooter down to its most basic parts (which also happen to be the most “addictive”.

And, unlike most games, addictive is a fair word to use although not for the reasons you might be expecting. Instead of cluttering the screen with spaceships, penguins, or robotic fish, Intake has players taking aim at pills. The pills come in a variety of colors and your goal is to shoot them before they reach the bottom of the screen. If too many make it past then you overdose – game over.

Each stage has two colored pills and you’ll increase your multiplyer by being set to the proper color when destroying a pill. There are a few other subtleties, but for the most part gameplay is easy to grasp. Upgrades can also be purchased to allow for new powerups to appear during play. Some slow down the descending pills, while others make them gigantic for easy clicking.

Intake Screenshot

The unusual drug theme is paired with Cipher Prime’s typically gorgeous but trippy presentation style. Pills have an unearthly glow about them while the entire game has a neon glow about it. For the most part, the screen is clean, although that doesn’t make shooting a barrage of pills any easier. Of course, the visual subject matter might be off-putting for some, and that’s a totally fair reason to avoid Intake.

One reason I wasn’t completely sold on the game had to do with the soundtrack. While it is fitting, there are only three tracks in the game (two of which are expensive unlocks). You can play your own music over the game, but then the subtle connections the pills have to music are useless. Another hardship I encountered was simply running into a difficulty wall. Yes, determination will eventually get most players past it, but personally I would have loved to see some difficulty selectors or ability to select stages at will like shooters often do.

Considering Intake gets so much right though I’m willing to let most of this slide. The game is still simple to understand and fun to play repeatedly. It’s just such a shame there aren’t more songs included to change things up! Pick it up if you’re so inclined, but remember to take breaks from Intake every once in a while. Your wrists will thank you.

Score: 3.5

3 1/2 out of 5 alpacas

Review code provided
About our rating system

Type:Rider Review

Type Rider Featured

Type:Rider Boxart

Developer: Ex Nihilo
Publisher: Plug In Digital
Platform: Mobile – Android, iOS PC – Steam

My life is filled with typing. As someone who enjoys writing, how could it not? My penmanship is lousy and with a high WPM it is always the preferred mode of writing. Between pieces drafted for myself for websites, there are thousands of things being typed out by my fingers on a daily basis. Why then, do I have such minimal  understanding of the history of written language? I have my preferred fonts, but even then have never looked into why they’re named the way they are or the stories behind them.

Type:Rider is a video game but it’s also a teaching tool. Through completing each themed stage, I was able to learn about the history of fonts from Clarendon  to Helvetica. There are ten stages in all (with one secret level) and along the way you can read about what led to the development of certain fonts and what they were used for.

When it comes to playing, it is a standard platformer. Instead of being a little pixellated person though you’re two dots. They stick together mostly and you use them to jump, swim, and roll around stages. Because of the odd lead character, there are sometimes control issues. At times, the dots would end up “standing” on each other, which would mess up an otherwise easy jump. On other occasions, the dots flip around each other too much which causes other mistakes. It seemed most of the parts that made platforming a challenge were due to the unusual protagonist properties. Perhaps it would have been better to have a single dot.

Type Rider Featured

It’s a shame that the relatively easy game is bogged down by some annoying platforming bits because everything else is absolutely stunning. Type:Rider starts out with relatively dull looking stages, but getting past the first two or three is definitely worth it. It seemed that the developer really had a strong concept for what to do with more modern fonts and executed it perfectly. Futura had a similarly retro-futuristic vibe while Didot was filled with nods from the art world at the time. Before completing any level, I ended up taking copious screenshots because of how fantastic the visual design was.

In all, it seems that Type:Rider is a game full of surprises. It might look like a very simple platformer which teaches a bit about fonts, but there is much more at play. Yes, it’s pretty easy, and yes, it is really about fonts. But the way that they express the “feel” of each font is spot on. They’re not used simply as platforms or as background art, but are treated with reverence. If nothing else, playing Type:Rider will give players a new and much-deserved appreciation of fonts.

Score: 3.5

3 1/2 out of 5 alpacas

Review code provided
About our rating system

Nicole Review

Nicole Bachelors

Nicole Logo

Developer: Winter Wolves
Publisher: Winter Wolves
Platform: PC – Direct

Things were supposed to be going great for Nicole. She has just entered her ideal college and is excited to begin her law studies. Her roommate is kind, the school has high standing, and there are copious amounts of cute boys on campus. There’s just one problem… The campus has been the site of three college student abductions. Although each was discovered safely days after, with no memory of their time away, it’s a severely creepy crime that has left the campus with a worrisome atmosphere.

At the beginning, Nicole wants nothing more than to keep these fears at arm’s length. She focuses on classes and making friends, which is where the meat of gameplay comes in. Players must work to increase Nicole’s various stats. They don’t have much bearing on her school performance, but are instead useful for romancing a guy (if you want to). Each fellow is receptive to a certain stat and, if you can figure it out, then he’ll be putty in your hands! It’s not too hard to tell what stats work with who – you just base it off personality. She can even get a few jobs to earn some spending money.

Nicole Screenshot 1

For all this normalcy, Nicole just can’t leave the disappearances alone. One other stat to take care of is based around conducting an investigation into them on your own. You actually don’t have to discover who is behind it to finish the game, but you’ll want to. Be sure to increase your clue stat to maximum! You’ll also want to have a guy in tow to get the best ending possible. With a handful of variation in end states there are ten endings possible to achieve.

Unfortunately, the receptive bachelors are not particularly endearing. There’s a jock who loves to verbally harass Nicole whenever she’s around. It hardly makes you want to cozy up to the guy. Then there’s a smart science guy, who could be cool, until his personality turns… Perhaps the easiest character to get along with is a “nerd” who obsesses over a Tumblr-like site. Maybe that’s just me, but at least he wasn’t a complete asshole. In any case, there are four guys to romance. You’ll get to increase relationships via choosing dialogue although you can also buy presents for your favorite.

Although the overarching story is enjoyable, it could have handled a tad more editing. There are times that events are described with such detail that it’s just mundane (do we really need to know the subtleties of how Nicole sets up and uses her browser?). Also, despite being a story about college-aged youths, there are some really antiquated flourishes in the text department. This isn’t for one character in particular, but the writing overall. Other times, it is spruced up with more current terminology.

Nicole Screenshot 2

Despite my issues, I still wanted to see Nicole through to the end. I also really wanted to nab my guy of choice. This was definitely aided by the lovely character art. Everyone is given a great amount of detail and even have different outfits to wear. If only more could have been done with hairstyles so each guy didn’t have a similar mop of hair. CGs are also lovely but there are only a few included.

Play Nicole if you’re looking for some mystery alongside romance. Even if I felt most of the guy choices were icky, at least one or two of the four dateable options are nice. It’s a game that will also last a few hours as you play through Nicole’s first semester of college. In all, it might not be the best showing for an otome game but there was definite effort put into making this a polished product, so give it a look! There’s a free demo of Nicole available on Winter Wolves’ site to see if it’s a game you’ll enjoy.

Score: 2.5

2 1/2 out of 5 alpacas

Review code provided
About our rating system

Luxuria Superbia Review

Luxuria Superbia Featured

Luxuria Superbia Logo

Developer: Tale of Tales
Publisher: Tale of Tales
Platform: Mobile – Android, iOS Ouya PC – Direct

Why do we play video games? The first answer that often comes up is “for fun”. We are seeking some kind of enjoyment for ourselves, whatever that entails. In that way, games are designed to be subservient – to cater to the player’s whims. Now imagine for a second that a game existed with the roles reversed. You are meant to provide joy to the game. Would such a thing still be enjoyable? I found the answer when playing Luxuria Superbia.

Yes, absolutely. My first experience with Luxuria Superbia was on an iPad. Although granted instructions, the game still seemed absolutely foreign to me. On each stage, you are greeted with a blank circular tunnel that has little buds on it. When touching the buds, a row or rows begin to blossom with color. It doesn’t take a great deal of thought to realize that the “goal” is to light up the entire tunnel. With my virgin playthrough of a stage, I found myself excited by the pulsing colors and similarly surprised by the fact that the game talked back. It kindly urged me to continue – to bring it more pleasure.

Luxuria Superbia Screenshot

It was such an unexpected experience I knew that I needed to own the game myself and play it more. No matter what platform you go with, the main game is the same, but the experience changes slightly. To me, using a touch screen feels far more intimate than analog sticks on a console or PC. Somehow, Luxuria Superbia makes me want to keep coming back. I don’t play for high scores but to share a moment with the game. There is joy to be found in bringing pleasure to others, and I never expected to see such a message expressed via a video game.

There’s something mesmerizing about the colors as they brighten and as cute little objects appear (rainbows, wheels, etc). Paired with phenomenal music, plunging continually further into the tunnel proves hypnotic – and erotic. Tale of Tales’ latest title surprised me after a lifetime of gaming. Give it a try and see if you fall in love.

Score: 5

5 out of 5 alpacas

Review code provided
About our rating system

Valdis Story: Abyssal City Review

Valdis Story: Abyssal City Featured

Valdis Story: Abyssal City Boxart

Developer: Endlessfluff Games
Publisher: Endlessfluff Games
Platform: PC – Desura, Direct, Steam

You might not be familiar with the developer Endlessfluff Games, but they are a group that deserves some definite attention. In 2011, their attractive puzzle game Legend of Fae came out (maybe you’ve played it?).  Well, they’re back with another game by the name of Valdis Story: Abyssal City. As with their last major release, it is a stunningly beautiful game. But, graphics aren’t everything, so how does the game stand otherwise?

In Valdis Story, you can choose one of two playable characters (with two more being added in later). Both are humans, although from different sides of the track, as it were. Wyatt is a guy who had been living up on “the surface” where he fought against demons and angels. As you might expect, this places Reina as an underground dweller.  For her, she still seeks out exploration and danger because being cooped up is not the life she wishes to lead. Demons, angels, and ferals are all major threats to the populace – which is why someone has to fight in order to change the lives of the citizens.

As either character, you’ll explore the world in a very Metroidvania style. This means that you’ll be exploring large maps with a variety of rooms. Rooms contain enemies, treasures, and the like. There are also sections which require players to “race” with skillful platforming to get through areas in time. This is probably harder than it should be though due to jumping controls that take some getting used to. Until then, be ready to fail a handful of times when these bits crop up. Otherwise, there’s a lot of fun exploration to be had. Beating up on enemies can get a little frustrating though if they knock you off tiny platforms.

Valdis Story: Abyssal City Screenshot

Alongside searching through room after room, you’ll also be able to level the character up after enough battles. There is a nice skill tree to work through as well as the ability to increase their general stats. The inclusion of upgrades definitely enhances Valdis Story, though it would have been workable without them. Of course, the graphics are another facet that don’t have to be good to make the game engaging – but they are absolutely fantastic. The cartoony characters are animated lovingly and the backdrops also look great. Polished is one word that comes to mind, with another being gorgeous. Graphics aren’t everything but it’s always fun to see a game with such impressive art!

It’s hard to condense my final opinion on Valdis Story: Abyssal City into a succinct statement. I think there’s a lot right about the game, but still found it challenging at points due to its platforming controls. They demand more than your average platformer and it wasn’t something I was prepared for. Struggling with them early on definitely hampered my enjoyment, but once that passed it was a worthy experience. Valdis Story: Abyssal City is most worth checking out for those who have been seeking out a new and worthwhile Metroidvania game for their collection.

Score: 3.5

3 1/2 out of 5 alpacas

Review code provided
About our rating system

Lilly Looking Through Review

Lilly Looking Through Featured

Lilly Looking Through Boxart

Developer: Geeta Games
Publisher: Geeta Games
Platform: PC – Direct, GOG*, Mac Game Store, Steam

The past few years have been really good to adventure game fans. Thanks in part to companies like Telltale Games and Kickstarter, there seems to have been a rebirth of the genre that has long since been defined “dead” by the general gaming populace. It never died, though, and there are certainly a lot of great new games making their debut! One successful Kickstarter adventure title is Lilly Looking Through which was fully funded in 2012. Have Geeta Games managed to produce a lovely point and click adventure?

Yes! At the very start, we are introduced to Lilly. This young girl has a pair of goggles that, when worn, transform the world around her. No longer are her surroundings drab and dated but colorful and full of life! Her world becomes something straight out of a picture book or an animated fantasy film and is a joy to explore. Players navigate via a point and click interface (which includes a tool to highlight selectable objects). Some adventure games cram environments with too much interactivity, but Lilly Looking Through keeps it easy.

Lilly Looking Through Featured

Well, most of the time. There are some puzzles which caused me to employ liberal use of guess and check. Although most of the puzzles aren’t this way, the ones that are tougher can become annoying. This is mostly due to the fact that Lilly takes her sweet time traversing areas and interacting with objects. Her animations are lively and all, but after seeing them the first time it becomes more of a time waster to see them on the third or fourth loop. There’s no way to skip said animations which is the main misstep.This is a small complaint, all things considered.

Geeta Games have provided a lovingly crafted point and click game. It is fairly short (from 2-6 hours for most players) but the journey is a lot of fun. It’s easy to get wrapped up in Lilly’s goggle-aided view of the world. Her delight and discovery is definitely imparted on the player. Here’s hoping that this delightful game gains a following so that maybe we’ll see more Lilly Looking Through in the future!

Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas

Review code provided
About our rating system – *Affiliate link

Nachtigal Review

Nachtigal Featured

Nachtigal Logo

Developer: Cyanide Tea
Publisher: Cyanide Tea
Platform: PC – Direct

For many of us, the idea of having a romantic relationship with a vampire is incredibly appealing. Much of this probably comes from the fantasy aspect of the whole equation as vampires don’t actually exist! To have some ageless, handsome being doting on you hand and foot –  yes, I can see why it’s an enticing idea. But what if you simply managed to wander into a vampire’s home on accident one night? Would it still be lovely or would you end up fearing for your own mortality? This is where Cyanide Tea places players as they begin Nachtigal.

You see, it all was an accident on Miranda’s part. She was by herself on a vacation in Belgium, studying the architecture. Unfortunately, without her phone working, she finds herself completely stranded after a day of exploration. She enters into a mansion and is then trapped by two handsome, yet fearsome, vampires. Adrian and Luca don’t kill her though and let her live with them out of curiosity…

As you spend your days in the mansion, either one or both vampires will reveal parts of their history to her. Miranda somehow takes this all in stride even though she expects to die when a caravan of vampires arrive there in a few weeks. It’s odd, but her attitude helps keep the tone from being completely scary. She plays around with Adrian and Luca even though both of them end up feasting on her at various times.

Nachtigal Screenshot

This is the part that made Nachtigal hard for me to stomach. Miranda is scared – and rightly so – when they begin to use her for feeding. Yet, things quickly take a turn for the romantic as she offers herself to one or both vampires as a way to care for them. It is possibly an attempt to save herself from their anger, but the way it’s written feels icky. At least it did to me, but others will probably enjoy it as 100% fantasy fulfillment.

If it isn’t creepy to you then you’ll also probably seek out all six endings and unlock all the gorgeous CGs. Despite my trepidation, I still wanted to know every tiny bit of the story which caused me to play through multiple times. The art is nice, although it certainly gets bloody on some occasions. In particular, two endings are exceedingly creepy and not particularly befitting to the otherwise light tone. Nachtigal is anywhere from 1 to 3 hours depending on how quickly you read and if you play through more than once. It’s also available as a “pay what you want” download. As such, take Nachtigal for a spin and see if Adrian or Luca are just the kind of vampires you wish to romance.

Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas

About our rating system