Posts Tagged ‘2013’

Ethan: Meteor Hunter Review

Ethan: Meteor Hunter Featured

Ethan - Meteor Hunter Logo

Developer: Seaven Studio
Publisher: Seaven Studio
Platform: PC – Direct, GOG* PS3 – PSN

Platformers are a lot of fun but it can be hard to dig through the piles of samey stuff to get to innovative games in the genre. The issue gets compounded once you realize that some of the innovations made don’t improve the existing formula. Ethan: Meteor Hunter is one such game that attempts to tweak things with a neat mechanic. But does it work?

In Ethan: Meteor Hunter, you must venture through a ton of levels as a little mouse. Yes, that cute rodent is Ethan, and he’s searching for meteorite fragments scattered around the environment. These serve primarily as collectibles as you try to grab each one on every stage. But there’s more to Ethan than his anthropomorphic ways. He also has the power to stop time and manipulate objects in the environment.

Ethan: Meteor Hunter Featured

How does this play out? Oftentimes, you’ll come across boxes and other items which block the way. At their easiest, all you have to do is move them aside. The difficulty progresses and requires more careful movements, sometimes interacting with other items on the screen. You might even have to make Ethan jump, pause, and move objects to keep him safe when he lands. It’s all very interesting, although it escalates in difficulty faster than might be expected.

But is there much beyond these powers to help Ethan: Meteor Hunter stand out? Unfortunately, there’s not much. The graphics are serviceable, but seem perhaps too “serious” for a game with a cute mouse lead. The music is pretty cool, although it also clashes a little with the game. Even though there are interesting pause/manipulation mechanics in play, the rest of the experience still feels like a standard platformer. It’s not bad, but not exceptional either. Still, it is exciting to see a new developer trying to do something different. Hopefully they’ll continue to push forward with changing gameplay mechanics with their future titles.

Score: 2.5

2 1/2 out of 5 alpacas

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Truck Racer Review

Truck Racer Featured

Truck Racer Boxart

Developer: Big Ben Interactive
Publisher: Plug In Digital
Platform: PC – Desura, Direct, Steam, PS3, Xbox 360

Truck racing in video games has a rather sordid past. Even though there have been multiple attempts at creating fun titles, they all end up falling under the horrible shadow of Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing. This well-known atrocity of a game has long since controlled the talk of truck racing games, but maybe recently released Truck Racer can show that it is possible to make a good game with tractor units.

In this game, you can engage in a ton of championships, simply practice on courses, or test out a timed trial mode or elimination race. In most ways, it’s like other standard racing games except for the fact that you’re racing really heavy trucks around the track. They feel like it too. Although you can get up to 90 mph pretty easily, turns are far tougher to execute carefully. Much of the early game is spent slowly making huge drifts into walls.

If you can’t quite get a hang of your ride, then head to the garage and get it spruced up. There are tons of upgrades available which can increase speed, traction, braking, paint job, and more for your preferred vehicle. However, in order to go on a spending spree the player must have acquired points by participating in championships. Even those who don’t get the coveted first three places will still receive points, just much less. Unlocking new championships also requires points so make sure to not spend them all on upgrades!

Truck Racer Featured

Races themselves are pretty exciting, in part because you’re stuck handling a massive machine on the fairly small track lanes. Ramming into other trucks to get by is satisfying, especially when parts start breaking off and littering the track. Players can utilize boost, which is increased as a player drifts or drives recklessly. The boost is integral to passing because these trucks can only go so fast otherwise.

As fun as it is to bang into other trucks there were also issues with this mechanic. On multiple occasions I found my truck stuck to the other one somehow, which caused precious seconds to be wasted waiting for the two vehicles to separate. Perhaps this is realistic but really destroys the otherwise fun arcade style that Truck Racer presents. It’s also unfortunate that, so near after its release, that there were no online games to be found. It seems the best course of action is to buy the game with a friend or two if you intend to have regular online matches. Other than these issues, there were a couple of occasions where the game also crashed on me.

Looking past the technical troubles, Truck Racer is still a lot of fun. It certainly looks fantastic, far better than any other truck-based racing games have before. It’s also worth noting that this isn’t just some ridiculous game. Truck racing championships occur in the United States, Europe, Brazil, and likely other places as well. If you can’t get yourself to a real race, then Truck Racer serves as an almost suitable replacement.

Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas

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Pokémon X Review



Developer: Game Freak, Inc.
Publisher: Nintendo
Platform: 3DS

Oh, Pokémon. You have been with us throughout most of our lives, through thick and thin. And as I near 20 years of age, you show no signs of easing up on game releases. You would think that after all of that time and after so many generations of Pokémon, its quality would be slowly diminishing. After having played through Pokémon X, I can assure you that is quite the contrary.

As soon as you start your journey, Pokémon X and Y immediately try to impress upon you the 3DS’s prowess. A little cutscene with one of the new Pokémon, Fletchling, flying in to wake you up. Then you’re able to venture about, free to explore this intriguing new world. Everything is in 3D! Dramatic camera angles! Free movement (when you’re skating, biking, or swimming, anyway)! There are so many little things that Game Freak has thought of to make Pokémon X and feel interesting and new.


One of the elements of Pokémon that has undergone a heavy visual change are the battles. No longer are our favorite pocket monsters in 2D. Instead, each Pokémon is now rendered in 3D (while still mimicking the old pixel art style). They also have unique idle animations and various animations for different moves. Add in some pretty environmental backgrounds and crazy camera action and each battle will feel different from the last. If only some battles, like double battles and horde encounters, weren’t marred by drops in framerate! Hopefully this is fixed with a patch or doesn’t happen in the first place with future Pokémon releases.

What I think is one of the best new features that Pokémon X and introduce is the customization of your character. Yes, you can finally play dress-up! There are quite a bit of clothing pieces and accessories to collect, so the combination possibilities are endless. You can even choose the skin color of your trainer, change your eye color with contacts, and get a new hairdo.


There are also other new features such as Pokémon-Amie and the Player Search System. Pokémon-Amie allows you to interact with your Pokémon and form even closer, stronger bonds with them. You can pet them, feed them, and play games with them to your heart’s content! This isn’t just for fun, either. The higher your affection with your Pokémon, the “better” it performs in battle. This means boosted experience points, being able to dodge attacks, and so forth.

As for the Player Search System, that brings every multiplayer aspect of Pokémon X and Y into one easy-to-access place. Located on your bottom screen, this is where you initiate global or local battles, trades, and more. No more having to trek to a Pokémon Center! Also included in the PSS are new features called Wonder Trade and O-Powers. Wonder Trade is incredibly fun and allows you to trade one of your Pokémon for a random one. O-Powers, on the other hand, allow you to give buffs to your friends, acquaintances, or passers-by. Such power-ups can range from increasing a Pokémon’s attack in battle to granting a 50% discount in shops for three minutes. Engaging in multiplayer activities in a Pokémon game has never been better.


I wish I could be as enthusiastic for Pokémon X and Y‘s plot as I am for the rest of it. As usual, you’re a young Pokémon trainer that has just begun his or her journey and the region’s professor wants you to fill out the Pokédex. But wait! Some evil mastermind with a team of goons wants to destroy the world with the power of a legendary Pokémon (the bad guys this time around, Team Flare, aren’t exactly imaginative either)! Thankfully, you’re able to stop them and be off on your merry way to kick some Elite Four butt. There’s also a metaplot going on throughout all this, but it feels like something that isn’t quite explained fully. Perhaps we’ll see more of that in a Pokémon X and sequel?

As for postgame content, there’s very little to do, unfortunately. There are new areas unlocked such as the Battle Maison and Friend Safari, but compared to previous Pokémon games, it’s not much. 


Pokémon is a series that I hold very dear to me. As such, with all that Pokémon X and brings to the table, I am insanely pleased despite any problems I do have. Whether you play every Pokémon game you can get your hands on or if it’s been a while since your last one (or if you’ve never played one at all!), it’d be a shame to miss out on Pokémon X and if you’re a 3DS owner.

Pink Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas

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Armed Seven Review

Armed Seven Featured

Armed Seven Boxart

Developer: Astro Port
Publisher: Nyu Media
Platform: PC – Desura

Are you a fan of shooters? Although there are still many coming out in the modern era, it feels like many have lost touch with the classics. Now, there’s an increased focus on the moe (or cute-ified) shooter, which often sacrifices quality for style. But there are still developers out there who have been making serious sidescrolling shooters. Many of them just happen to be from Japan. Astro Port is one quality shmup developer and their game, Armed Seven, has finally released in the West thanks to Nyu Media.

Armed Seven is basically just like all those retro shooters that were cool, difficult, and always able to tempt a player into extra rounds. However, it also has some neat flourishes which keep the game from feeling stale. Before each stage, players can choose their main weapon, sub weapon, and charge weapon. Main and sub fire whenever you fire, but of course charge only activates after it has received a proper charge. Interestingly, your mech’s gun is not completely static. If the mech flies upward, the gun will shift to face that direction as well, and vice versa. This leads to increased complexity but also possibility for players to take down opponents from safer angles.

Probably the biggest sticking point with growing the audience for shmups is their high difficulty. Now, don’t get me wrong, Armed Seven is not a bullet hell game. Those are where the screen is filled to the brim with complex patterns that take a lot of practice to dodge. Here you’ve got much more manageable enemies and bullets but only one life. After your life bar is depleted, it’s game over! Thankfully, it’s always possible to return to the furthest stage you’ve played via the stage select. There are also a variety of difficulties to select from which were a tremendous help for mostly unskilled players such as myself.

Armed Seven Screenshot

In regards to the graphics it seems like a game that could have easily been a hidden retro gem. It has nicely detailed art, even if the enemies aren’t hugely different from existing games. Really though, how much variety do you need? There need to be cool mechs, big bosses, and a soundtrack to get you pumped! While I don’t think the music is a standout soundtrack for a shooter, it is still exciting. Of course, it doesn’t help that the genre has some of the most incredible soundtracks in all of gaming history.

Playing Armed Seven is an entertaining challenge. If you’re a pro, then the game can totally be finished in half an hour, but the majority of players will be required to spend a lot more time to make it through even once. Those later stages (while still not classified as bullet hell) are killer! My best tip is to try out a variety of weapon loadouts and see which best fits your style. From there, go forth dodging bullets and taking down everything in your path!

Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas

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Democracy 3 Review

Democracy 3 Featured

Democracy 3 Boxart

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

Sometime after going through high school, I found myself becoming interested in the workings of American government. It seemed too ridiculous on the news or complex to make any sense, so I tried to learn more about it. Of course, tuning into MSNBC, I gained a skewed perspective (as is true of most Americans and their news outlets of choice). In any case, along the way, I learned about the way a democracy is meant to function as well. With this “wealth” of knowledge, I dove into Democracy 3 expecting a fairly easy time.

It was not easy, even with a tad bit of government knowledge stored away in my brain. If anything, it seems a far more realistic simulation of government complexity than any other political games I’ve played in the past. Players are brought in with a simple tutorial but even that doesn’t aid how overwhelming the main screen with icons first appears. Each icon  represents a facet of government and has ties to other aspects that it affects. Because there are so many things a President must take care of, the screen is absolutely filled to the brim with these icons.

Democracy 3 Screenshot 1

Learning how to use them, thankfully, is easier than it would seem. Hovering over icons lets you see what they do, in case the icon images don’t give a good enough hint. Everything from controlling minute aspects of what to tax, to changing the cost of education, to enacting new laws on hot button issues is in your grasp. The main thing that you ever have to worry about is Political Capital. In game, it stands as your currency which recharges after each turn. Without enough of it, you can’t enact new policy changes.

Some tweaks might not lead to big changes but others definitely will. In particular, certain religious groups are depicted as having very serious fringe organizations that can and will assassinate you. After this happened to me, I began to consider that my role should be to please multiple groups rather than just my own gains. Of course, you can try and turn the United States into a staunch dictatorship if you really want to! Just expect to make much of your constituency very, very unhappy. It must be noted that you can choose from a handful of other governments to control, but I stuck with the US because it is the one I’m most familiar with.

Democracy 3 Screenshot 2

Part of what makes Democracy 3 “realistic” is that there is no way to win the game, or make everyone love you. It’s just not ever going to be the case. Similarly, natural or man-made disasters can wreak havoc on your approval level. Yes, it’s unfair, but that is something Presidents must contend with. Of course, realism in a political sim is great for some but will confuse or annoy others. Basically, if you don’t regularly look up political news then chances are this is not the game for you – although you might learn something by giving it a shot anyway.

The biggest criticism to lob at the game is simply that it is little more than a fancy database setup to let you play President. But then, that’s all some of us want to do. Checking the small variances in increasing or decreasing percentages of funding is enthralling for a certain mindset (such as my own). Trying to balance needs of the people versus what you believe to be “right” is a fine balancing act. Democracy 3 does an excellent job at letting the player test out just how good or bad they’d be if they had all the Presidential powers at their disposal.

Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas

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Montague’s Mount Review

Montague's Mount Featured

Montague's Mount Boxart

Developer: PolyPusher Studios
Publisher: Mastertronic
Platform: PC – Direct, GamersGate, Get Games, GOG*

Montague’s Mount is a game that reveals very little about itself when you begin. As the story starts, your character simply wakes up on a dark and dreary beach. There are pieces of wood scattered around and it seems as if you once had a boat and ended up here. The character hobbles – perhaps his leg was injured in the accident? His coughs also echo in the quiet air which makes it seem that this guy is in a lot of trouble washing up in a strange place. You find a walking stick, and then proceed. That’s all the introduction player or character receives.

This is an excellent start to a game which, unfortunately, cannot live up to its own expectations. It sure tries though. Everything about the game attempts to push a dark and mysterious atmosphere, from the mostly monochrome visuals to the sometimes eerie ambient sounds. The story is also told in small snippets, and objects are named in the Irish language Gaeilge. This all sets up a superb “feeling” for Montague’s Mount but none of this can protect against dull gameplay.

Wandering through this isolated island is ponderous. The lead character is purposefully slow and so is his interactions with everything around him. At one point, a bridge is lowered, but it creeps down at a horrendous pace. Really, this characterizes much of the game where puzzles are resolved in equally snail-like fashion. Slow events could increase tension if there were anything to fear, but that’s not the case here either. Instead, everything is monotonously paced without a good reason.

Montague's Mount Featured

Exploration is the main goal and you’ll be doing a lot of it. Players basically have to examine every object, because it’s never known what might be useful. Only necessary items can be picked up, which is convenient. There still happens to be a ton of clutter though which is fairly annoying to comb through. But if you ever lessen your extreme attention to detail then needed objects will be overlooked, only forcing you to comb through an area or two again. Whenever a game demands copious item hunts it is annoying, but definitely more so in dark environments. As you might expect, these are plentiful in Montague’s Mount.

Even those who enjoy atmospheric and slow games might find a bigger issue with this one. For some reason, Montague’s Mount has caused me (and some other players as well) to experience definite framerate issues. Without them, I’m certain it would have been easier to tolerate the game, but the common 20 FPS or so really made other issues readily apparent. Some have reported no hitches when playing, but there doesn’t appear to be a demo to test out first.

To me, Montague’s Mount is a game that seriously could have been great but has turned out to be a very flawed creation. Puzzles usually only require fetching an item and using it, but that is hardly compelling gameplay. Of course, when finding some items can be difficult it just serves to annoy rather than immerse anyone into the world. Of course, the technical issues I encountered made it a nearly unbearable gameplay experience. It’s really sad to see a game with such promise end up this way, but they can’t all be winners.

Score: 1

1 out of 5 alpacas

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Eleusis Review

Eleusis Featured

Eleusis Boxart

Developer: Nocturnal works
Publisher: Nocturnal works
Platform: PC – DesuraDirect, GamersGateSteam

If you’re anything like me, then Eleusis might strike you as an odd name. The game itself (judging by just screenshots) could also seem to be like any number of other horror games out there. However, these initial assessments sell the game short. It is nothing like the world of Slender copycats nor Amnesia. It takes a very different path, even if they all share a few gameplay elements in common.

In Eleusis, you’re given a very basic setup. After receiving a letter to visit your mother, your journey is stopped by a rock slide on the only road. Having your car stuck in the middle of the night is quite an unfortunate situation, thankfully, you find a town nearby and hope someone there can help you. The only problem is the town seems completely abandoned… Until you hear a scream.

While playing it was hard to shake the feeling that this felt far more like a classic adventure game than modern jump scare horror. Yes, it has attractive and ominous graphics, but the gameplay doesn’t necessarily tread far from old roots. What this means is that puzzles mainly consist of finding the right objects and using them when needed. Oftentimes, there are keys hidden which unlock the doors you need to head through. This is all pretty simple, at least, although finding objects can often be difficult.

Eleusis Featured

The difficulty stems from the fact that there’s just a lot of stuff the player can interact with. About 80% of it is useless, but the other 20% will be items worth investigating or provide objects necessary to finish the game. If you ever skip something, you can go back and find it, but it might take a while considering there are a lot of places to look. Wandering too often gets annoying so try to keep you eyes peeled throughout the duration of Eleusis.

So what is that differentiates this game from the pack? Primarily, it’s due to a focus more on discovery rather than running and hiding all the time. However, another neat aspect of the game (and its plot) is revealed by the title. Eleusis is the name of a town in Greece where the “Eleusinian Mysteries” took place. This was a yearly ceremony instigated by a cult and, well, if you research it a little you’ll see the parallels between these ancient ceremonies and the game.

Mainly, the only issues lie with the title being short-ish and a bit of an item hunt. Beyond that, Eleusis is a creepy adventure game that pulls from a very interesting facet of ancient Greek history. This is a game best for those who are tired of playing copycat, half-finished horror titles which keep getting published.

Score: 2.5

2 1/2 out of 5 alpacas

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Rune Factory 4 Review



Developer: Neverland Co.
Publisher: XSEED Games
Platform: 3DS

I remember when the very first Rune Factory game came out. It was touted as “A Fantasy Harvest Moon”, which immediately caught my interest. I bought it as soon as it released and played a bit of it, but found it a tad too difficult and went on to other games. Of course, I still found the concept extremely fascinating and continued to follow the series. After hearing that Rune Factory 3 improved upon the series’ formula, I decided to give it a try and absolutely loved it. So, it was only natural that I would be looking forward to Rune Factory 4.


Like Harvest Moon games, you’re able to grow crops, raise livestock (which are monsters that you tame rather than actual farm animals), and woo potential lovers. Rune Factory focuses much more on plot and RPG aspects, though. And there’s a lot of that packed into Rune Factory 4. The two main story arcs take a good 40+ hours to play through. That’s not all, though! There’s also a bonus arc that has quite a lengthy and cumbersome dungeon. I have over 70 hours logged into Rune Factory 4 and I have yet to finish the last arc.

Tired of fighting and need to take a break from the main story? Then embrace your social life! There’s plenty of well-developed characters to talk to and lots of festivals to attend. And don’t forget about the six bachelors or bachelorettes that you can date. Although it’s a smaller selection versus those of other Rune Factory games, the dating/romancing aspects in Rune Factory 4 are much more expanded. The best part is that you can totally have a harem of lovers (which made choosing a husband in Rune Factory 4 the hardest decision of my life).


There’s also a new feature to the series, which is performing orders with accrued Prince/Princess points. These orders vary from bettering the town with new shops and festivals, to expanding your farm. Heck, you can even change your character’s portrait to that of anyone in the game.

In terms of localization, the Rune Factory series’ new home at XSEED is definitely a good one. It’s as if they’ve been taking care of publishing Rune Factory games here the whole time! I loved every bit of writing in the game and the voice acting is perfect.

The only complaint I have about Rune Factory 4 is how evil the RNG can be. You see, there are “town events” that can happen often (these were really nice for building the characters of NPCs). Whichever one may pop up is totally random. Unfortunately, bachelor/bachelorette events, and even the one needed to start the plot’s bonus arc, are included in that very large pile of randomness. You might need a lot of patience to activate some of these events.


I had so much fun with Rune Factory 4 and I can’t recommend it enough. If you’ve ever considered jumping into the series, now is definitely the time.

Pink Score: 5

5 out of 5 alpacas

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Bad Hotel Review

Bad Hotel Featured

Bad Hotel Boxart

Developer: Lucky Frame
Publisher: Lucky Frame
Platform: iOS, PC – Steam

Many gamers have tired of the tower defense genre as it was shoehorned into many games in the past year. I wouldn’t blame you for wanting to tune out any new games which rest within the genre, but even so, you might want to check out Bad Hotel. That’s because Bad Hotel creates something quite different out of the simple tower defense conventions.

First is the plot which sets you out as a hotel owner. The hotel is effectively your “tower” and, under normal circumstances, there should be nothing threatening its existence. However, Tarnation Tadstock happens to be in the neighborhood and he isn’t pleased with a new entrepreneur in his midst. As such, he sends legions of seagulls, swimmers, clouds, and a host of other enemies at you to make your hotel crumble.

Of course, you’re able to fight back! The player is always presented with a handful of possible rooms they can build. For example, there are main rooms which offer you money. Then there are rooms that house guns or healing stations. Unfortunately, of all the rooms, only the standard ones (aka, free of any other function) will generate cash. Without cash, you can’t build more weapons to fight. Each level is always a test to see how much weaponry you need versus funding.

Bad Hotel Screenshot

Each section of the building has its own health. Once it has been whittled to zero, it disappears, meaning you lose whatever benefit it offered. Skillfully deciding between how to orient weapon or health rooms is important because they’re usually expensive and you don’t want them going to waste. Housing them safely between standard rooms is helpful, but sometimes circumstances go so fast you’ll barely have time to think. It seems at these times that playing on an iPhone or iPad would be preferred, simply because it is hard to maneuver new rooms onto the hotel fast enough otherwise.

Bad Hotel’s gameplay is pretty fun and quickly increases in difficulty. However, that’s not all it has going for it. There are also the visuals that stand out as distinct amongst any other tower defense games, as well as most titles in general. It’s attractively designed with an art deco style and 80s color scheme. Musically the game stands out as well thanks to its procedurally-generated tunes. Each building offers its own sound effect, meaning the player is changing the music simply by how they choose to play.

If there’s any reason to knock Bad Hotel it could just be because it’s a bit too hard. The money given at the start of a round is always sufficient to get going, but if you’re not quick to come up with a strategy it isn’t enough. This could easily be solved by having two difficulty modes. Mostly though, it seems to me that playing on PC is not the ideal way to go. As I said before, quick hotel building would be much easier with touch controls, rather than mouse-based drag and drop functionality. Still, Bad Hotel provides a challenging and unique tower defense experience.

Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas

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Soundodger+ Review

Soundodger+ Featured

Soundodger+ Boxart

Developer: Studio Bean
Publisher: Adult Swim Games
Platform: PC – Steam

As a longtime music and rhythm games fan I’ve been continually excited by the increasingly creative titles coming out of the genre. It’s not that I disliked the simple rhythmic button pressing or peripheral eras, but there’s a lot of fun in seeing how developers innovate. Soundodger+ takes the concept of bullet hell shooters and connects it to the soundtrack. This results in an exciting and really tough game.

How exactly does Soundodger+ emulate a shooter? With each song, “bullets” will be released in varying patterns. The player is meant to avoid as many as possible (and obtain 100% if they’re really good). Dodging is the primary mechanic and is aided by a slow down function. If things are getting too tough, you can slow down the song/bullets for as long as you need to make it safely through a part. However, this can damage your score at the end of a level.

Soundodger+ Screenshot 1

There are 23 songs that come with the game and 11 of these are brand new for the Steam launch. Each track has bullets perfectly synced to make them all quite the gameplay experience. Although it may seem that bullets are too fast and random to begin with, further play reveals the many patterns they exhibit. Because the soundtrack is so good, it’s easy to simply be caught up with playing those songs over and over again. However, there is another set of additional features in Soundodger+ worth investigating.

Added into the game is the awesome ability to play your own songs. Players can design their own bullet layouts with their music or simply let the game auto generate something. Of course, the best results come from hard work. Right now there is no easy way to browse other players’ tracks, but the developer is hopeful that Steam Workshop Support will arrive in the future. For now, just hang out in the Steam Community to find users already sharing their creations.

The visual aesthetic is incredibly simple but this works in its favor. If there were too much going on then it would clash with the bullets, making players crash into some by accident. It is suggested to play with mouse and that’s due to the many twitchy movements you’ll likely make trying to dodge stuff at the last moment. You can play with a controller or keyboard, but it might be a bit harder.

Soundodger+ Screenshot 2

So, are there any negatives? Of course, although they’re pretty bearable. The biggest one for me is that the song will momentarily speed up if you run into a bullet. This is helpful because it can push you past a difficult part but throws the rhythm out of whack once it slows back down. Similarly, it really jolts you out of the experience of enjoying the music and patterns. Zen mode allows you to hit enemies with no audible repercussions, but it would be nice to have the option for hits to be less distracting in the main mode as well. Other than that, it’s also a bit annoying that half the soundtrack is locked to start. Most can be unlocked by simply playing as many songs as possible, but to unlock the last few requires a player to be highly skilled.

Soundodger+ is an excellent music game because it combines simple but tough gameplay with a fantastic soundtrack. With musicians such as Austin Wintory, Chelsea Howe, and Disasterpiece contributing, it’s really hard to hate the track list (well, it could do with a little less dubstep). And if you do, there’s still always the option to use your own music! The game manages to tap into the core of what makes music and rhythm games fun and succeeds. If you’re on the fence about the game, try out the free Flash version via Adult Swim Games’ site. That might be enough to satisfy you, but bear in mind that only the Steam release allows for custom music. Soundodger+ is simplistic, and yet, one of the most disarmingly beautiful rhythm games I’ve ever played.

Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas

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