Posts Tagged ‘2014’

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.

Abomination Tower Review

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Developer: Adrian Sugden
Publisher: Adrian Sugden
Platform: PC – Desura, Humble Store, itch.io

I completely suck at platformers. Even ones designed to be family friendly often give me a run for my money. As such, it makes no sense for me to enjoy Abomination Tower. This fairly challenging platformer is procedurally generated with horrible spikes, fleshy monsters, and shooty globs that kill you in one hit. As you ascend the tower, each stage offers increased challenges to survive. And yet, I found it immediately enjoyable.

Perhaps it has to do with the humor inherent from the get go. The protagonist is an abomination in the most obvious sense. It is a being created by a mad scientist that moves and jumps but has no head. This no head bit actually has a gameplay aspect too. You see, after collecting enough eyeballs you unlock wearable heads. Each confers its own special ability – but you can’t stack heads. Even after unlocking a few more I still found myself sticking with “Save My Butt” since that allows the abomination two hits rather than one hit KOs.

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The humorous theme thrives thanks to Abomination Tower’s visuals. That aforementioned unlock, for example, actually places a round rump on the abomination’s head. Everything has a nice cartoony vibe despite the blood splatters decorating walls and floors. It’s also great that unlocks remain unlocked even when you die and/or restart. This is important when you (or me, in this case) die constantly.

Issues I noticed were that platforming is not as precise as it could be. Jumps in particular all have a minimum left and right motion, meaning you must account for these specifics when jumping through dangerous sections. Some procedurally generated bits also seemed to offer impossible fragments. Perhaps I’m not skilled enough yet, but they did seem problematic. Abomination Tower offers a quick burst of platforming fun in an inexpensive package.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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16 Bit Rally Review

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Developer: Proton Creations
Publisher: Proton Creations
Platform: Mobile – iOS PC – itch.io

So, maybe this is abnormal, but I have a serious reverence for arcade-style racing games. Cruisin’ World and Daytona USA are some of my favorites, although there are others on the list as well. 16 Bit Rally doesn’t quite pull from the same deck (it’s pixelated rather than polygonal) but it enthralled in much the same ways.

The best aspect of 16 Bit Rally is the sense of speed and movement it provides. Thanks to a super cool “3D” effect going on with the ground it really feels like you’re moving through the world. This sense of speed is only increased as you continue to play and upgrade car stats. Eventually, vehicles seem impossibly fast but still remain controllable.

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Racing against 20 other cars typically means you won’t get last place. Of course, netting a top three result is best as you’ll nab the most points and cash. Points simply tally toward an overall leaderboard while money is used to upgrade or buy new cars. I would have liked to see a few more cars, as the third and final is great until all your teammates finally purchase one as well.

For as fun as 16 Bit Rally is there are a few iffy bits. When you’re in the lead there’s no way to tell how far (or close) opponents are! There’s also a lack of controller support which is a tad annoying but not a game breaker. In any case, I was immensely surprised by how much fun the title was. I worked to complete most of the world racing rally in one multi-hour sitting and that’s saying something when my average gameplay session is an hour or less.


Score: 3.5
3 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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LYNE Review

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Developer: Thomas Bowker
Publisher: Thomas Bowker
Platform: Mobile – Android, iOS, Windows PC – Direct, itch.io Steam

What makes a puzzle game enjoyable? Usually, it’s a heavy focus on one very simple concept that takes skill to master. LYNE follows this principle perfectly thanks to an easy to grasp component of drawing lines. All you have to do is make connecting lines between shapes of the same color. The tricky part comes in thanks to limited spaces in which to draw these lines, as well as the requirement of connecting multiple colors without crossing pathways. Things quickly get challenging, but in a way that facilitates continued play.

I won’t lie, my first attempt at LYNE was superbly pitiful. After barely being introduced to the core components I found myself completely stuck. After frustrated fumbling I closed the game and came back to it later. Lo and behold, that brief time away allowed me to think about the problem from a different angle and solve it. Many puzzle games are like this and it’s that moment once you first start to really “grasp” the core mechanics that you can feel smart while whizzing through puzzles. The more I played, the better I became. Eventually there were even periods that I entered into the “puzzle zone” and seemed to solve many in a row with no issue at all.

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LYNE is a game for people who enjoy these types of experiences, and simply want a playful title to mess with. The price is super low at $2.99, but the amount of puzzles included is frankly astronomical by comparison. Beyond the main selection of hundreds of puzzles there are also daily puzzles. These procedurally-generated puzzles come in different difficulties and are all still quite fun. Although I’ve yet to complete it, there’s probably at least six hours of main-game puzzles to work through. It would be nice if hints were available though to help in those moments where you feel impossibly stuck.

Beyond the enjoyable, and sometimes super difficult puzzle gameplay, it just looks good. The calm colors, paired with some really stylish design, helps it stand out from the puzzler pack. It also functions well, although a few tweaks could help a lot. My biggest gripe is not being able to partially redraw lines on my own terms instead of being forced to undo on their terms. Really, what needs to be emphasized about LYNE is the incredible wealth of solid gameplay you get. This is an excellent puzzle game and players get a huge value for their money.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Devil’s Dare Review

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Developer: Secret Base
Publisher: Secret Base
Platform: PC – Steam

When I was young all the great beat ’em ups had practically passed me by. Sure, I could still head to an arcade and crowd around The Simpsons Arcade Game, but outside of nostalgia this isn’t looked upon as a particularly good title. As my first “modern” home console was a Nintendo 64 all those arcade ports on SNES and Genesis also went ignored. With my warped perception of the genre, Devil’s Dare does indeed appear to channel the classic beat ’em up aesthetic. You’ve got a choice of four fighters (to start), local co-op, pixel art, and a hefty difficulty. But does that work in today’s market?

Really, it depends what kind of player you are. If you cherish the intense difficulty arcade games presented then you’ll be right at home with Devil’s Dare. It even takes things up a notch by bringing permadeath into the equation. As you battle through four different stages you’ve got just one life. Getting killed means that run is over – unless you’ve accumulated enough money (or a Soul Token) to revive. Such items aren’t hugely common though so expect seeing Game Over often.

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Another reason someone might cherish beat ’em ups is for the fun they had playing with friends or strangers at arcades. Again, the game hopes to recreate that experience by offering local co-op for up to four players. However, you won’t find any online component. Developer Secret Base stated online play is not in their plans. For some this is no big deal but for others it will prove challenging. Devil’s Dare was designed with multiplayer in mind. When you play solo everything is extremely tough. However, as soon as just two players team up there’s little trouble mowing down most monsters.

One facet I enjoyed a ton were all the references packed into the game. You’ll see obvious jabs at well known horror films, classic video games, and the like. Devil’s Dare most certainly has its heart in the right place. Enjoyment of the game comes down to your adoration for difficult beat ’em ups and whether or not you can gather friends together to play around the computer. It might not be right for me, with my own friendships often tethered by the ‘net, but there’s definitely a fanbase out there hungry to dig in. Devil’s Dare captures the supreme difficulty of arcade games and does it with a goofy grin.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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Heavy Bullets Review

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Developer: Terri Vellmann
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Platform: PC – Steam

Roguelikes have been in vogue for a few years now and yet developers are still finding new ways to iterate on them. Heavy Bullets appeared out of nowhere on Steam Early Access some time ago and quickly forged a following. Since it’s finally out of Early Access I decided to give it a look and see what exactly hooked so many players. Now I understand. Well, sorta.

Heavy Bullets is most easily described as a first person shooter. Players begin with a revolver, six bullets, and (hopefully) a masochistic personality. Unlike most games, bullets count a lot. After shooting an enemy the bullet will lay around waiting for you to pick it back up. Actually, the bullets sort of bounce around toward you but that’s beside the point. Taking care of ammo is integral because you’ve got to kill to succeed. As per most roguelikes, the challenge is rather steep and you’ll spend a lot of time dying yourself.

There’s this interesting item purchase system which is split into persistent and non-persistent goods. Everything is available via vending machines scattered about stages. Weirdly, each vending machine holds specific goods. This means you might really need health, come upon a vending machine, and find it stocked full but useless to your current situation. This whole aspect didn’t jive with me much, nor did a lack of in-game description for what certain oddball goods effects are. I know you’re supposed to buy them and find out but at this point in my gaming life convenience is a blessing.

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The thing that stands out most about Heavy Bullets is the art style. Hot damn, it is gorgeous. The 80s Miami-esque color palette is just so good. The choice to keep everything polygonal also fits. Unfortunately, the colors and jagged lines sometimes screw me up. Case in point, I can rarely see snakes in bushes because the colors are too similar. My “fix” is to simply shoot any bush I need to walk by.

As a fan of modern roguelikes, there is definitely a lot to like about Heavy Bullets. However, for some reason it failed to truly capture me like other titles have. It might be my frustration with seeing enemies, or simply the fact that no matter how much I play it doesn’t seem to equate to increasing skills. Ah well, there will most certainly be a new roguelike (or hundred) down the road!


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers Review

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Developer: Pinkerton Road Studio, Phoenix Online Studios
Publisher: Pinkerton Road Studio
Platform: PC – Direct, GOG*, Steam

Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers arrived on PC back in 1993 courtesy of Sierra On-Line. It hit the scene as a more serious point and click adventure game than most. Although I never played it way back when, I did eventually play and adore it. Now, a (little late) 20th Anniversary Edition of Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers is out and leaves me feeling quite perplexed. Did this classic game truly need a remake?

As far as I’m concerned, the storyline is still as intriguing as it was back in the 90s. It stars Gabriel Knight, a writer with a trashy series as his best work. He runs a book store in New Orleans along with Grace Nakimura but even that endeavor flounders. This dull, cash-strapped life takes a turn when a series of “Voodoo Murders” occur. Do the crimes actually have any relation to Voodoo at all or is something else at play? As curious authors are apparently wont to do, Gabriel sticks his nose into the mystery and gets far more than he bargained for.

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Gabriel is definitely an odd protagonist. Early on he acts incredibly sleazy and is full of eye-rolling comments, especially when contrasted against excellent characters such as Grace. Thankfully, he loses most of his revolting nature once things get serious. This is important considering how much dialogue Sins of the Fathers has. There’s a ton. The vast majority is also voiced by a new cast. The most blessed change is Tim Curry’s awkward New Orleans accent finally being put to rest.

As for gameplay, much of the game remains the same as it ever was. This is still a point and click adventure with a hefty inventory and loads of puzzles. A robust hint feature proves to be the best change. Unfortunately, much of inventory management and item usage continues being problematic. For example, many items suggest players “take”, “look at”, and “operate” them even when some options are impossible. It is funny to hear the narrator chide Gabriel if he considers taking a gigantic object, but this will also prove annoying to modern adventure game players. It’s surprising item and inventory usage weren’t redesigned.

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Outside of new voice actors the biggest change comes from completely revamped visuals. Now things have a hand-drawn, painterly look instead of pixel art. Personally, I continue to adore the original Sins of the Fathers’ for its gorgeous aesthetic. I don’t feel that the new 3D models will stand up to the test of time, although backdrops and cutscenes look lovely. Despite the tweaks, one facet that remains between both versions is its intriguing tale which hooks players.

I don’t feel there was a need for this remake, but on the other hand, it serves as a way to introduce new players to the world of Gabriel Knight. If they won’t pick up an “ancient” PC game perhaps they’ll give this gussied-up version a go. All in all, Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers is as good as it ever was even if nothing can quite ever replace the original.


Score: 3.5

3 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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A Golden Wake Review

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

The 1920s were a heck of a time – and one that is rarely covered in games. A Golden Wake pushes players into the midst of the era’s many facets by placing them into the shoes of Alfie Banks. Alfie’s just a young man trying to make it in the world. After being fired from his New York job, he heads to Florida where a real estate boom is taking place. There, he hopes to use his patented salesman skills to work toward wealth.

A Golden Wake is most certainly one unique point and click adventure game. As Alfie, you get to experience all the fun of being a real estate agent! Okay, that might sound weird, but the storyline and characters do make it all very interesting. Of course, it’s not long before Alfie’s life takes new pathways. The game spans multiple years from the 20s onward, meaning you’ll get to see a great many important historical events.

Something I didn’t realize while playing was that the whole game is in fact modeled loosely after real events and characters. Coral Gables, the city being created at the beginning, is a real place that still exists in Florida today. The characters, too, are mostly modeled after people of that time. Despite having no clue about all this I still was able to enjoy the storyline, characters, and understand what was going on.

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Puzzle-wise, A Golden Wake  is surprisingly easy (minus one or two puzzles). This is not a complaint! There’s nothing worse than being trapped in an adventure game when all you want is to see the story to its completion. With that said, there were some odd notes in the story progression. Alfie himself seems to have extreme personality changes. Granted, the storyline is supposed to span many years, but the progression of time doesn’t feel particularly obvious.

Taking an adventure game trek through the highs and lows of a bygone era was tremendously entertaining. A Golden Wake nails the atmosphere with its visuals, music, and architecture. I just wish it could have been longer than the four hours it took me to beat it. With a little more fleshing out it would have been even more memorable. Still, A Golden Wake should prove to be quite a pleasant surprise for the adventure gaming community.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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