Posts Tagged ‘3.5’

Octodad: Dadliest Catch Review

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Developer: Young Horses
Publisher:
Young Horses
Platform: 
PC – Steam

Octodad has been doing a fine job so far assimilating himself into a life with a normal human family. Nobody suspects a thing! Unfortunately, things don’t stay perfect for long. In Octodad: Dadliest Catch, you’re in charge of keeping up the charade.

It’s anything but a simple task, though, considering Octodad’s eight slippery appendages. The main grab of Octodad: Dadliest Catch is its controls. When you want to walk around, you move each “leg” one at a time. Grabbing things and whatnot is done by maneuvering your right arm and executing those sticky suction cups. It’s as hard to describe the whole process as it is to actually perform at first, but it becomes manageable quickly enough (hint: use a controller if at all possible!). With the crazy physics and controls, there is some frustration with getting to certain points and platforms, but that’s what makes Octodad: Dadliest Catch so fun.

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The other half of Octodad: Dadliest Catch‘s appeal lies in its story, writing, and characters. As mentioned previously, as Octodad, you must get through events in his life while maintaining his persona as a normal human. This means going to the grocery store and taking your family to the aquarium (the latter of which Octodad thinks is a crime against sea-manity). All of it is just as wacky as controlling Octodad.

Your initial playthrough in Octodad: Dadliest Catch will probably only last you about two or three hours. Thankfully, there’s always co-op mode, which allows two players to control Octodad, and a plentiful amount of mod levels on Steam Workshop to keep you busy!

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I had a lot of fun during my time with Octodad: Dadliest Catch. Despite my frustrations with getting Octodad to get where I wanted him to go, the humor and fresh concept kept me going and kept me entertained.


Pink Score: 3.53 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Oniken Review

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Oniken Boxart

Developer: JoyMasher
Publisher: JoyMasher
Platform: PC – Desura, Steam

I hate to admit it but I was not raised on the era of tough as nails NES games. Nope, instead I became friendly with an Apple IIe, Atari 7800, and off-brand Pong console. These devices offered their own difficult games but it was quite a different experience when you typically only had one button and a joystick. Missing out on the greats like Contra, Ninja Gaiden, and innumerable others has caused me to wonder what it was like to grow up with them, though. So, from my perspective, it does feel like Oniken is bringing a classic experience to players.

It starts things off on the right food with a wonderfully cliche storyline. The Oniken – bad guys – are attempting to seize control of humanity. A ragtag trio of resistance fighters aren’t having any of it! They jump into action to stop Oniken by any means necessary. Lead character Zaku is armed only with a sword and grenades but will work his way through countless enemies through the game’s six stages.

Oniken Screenshot

As you might expect from a title hearkening back to the NES era, Oniken is a 2D side-scrolling action game. You slash up foes, jump over dangerous areas, and generally kick a lot of butt in order to beat bosses and complete stages. Each area might seem fairly tough the first time but repeated plays make them seem increasingly manageable. For me, that meant maybe ten or so rounds on the second stage, but I’m not as skilled as players actually honed on NES games are. After watching a few people play it, I found that perhaps the game wasn’t even that hard at all – my skills simply weren’t up to the task.

Both the visuals and music seem to accurately recreate the era as well. I can’t say for certain if the color pallete and amount of pixels are right on, but they seem good enough to me! It’s exciting to see that even at this point in time there is still something uniquely engaging about a game that operates with such a bare minimum of keys. Oniken is a ton of fun even for people like me who don’t feel indebted to the systems of their past. Basically, if you’re in the mood for a retro-styled romp then Oniken is a fine choice.


Score: 3.5

3 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Shufflepuck Cantina Deluxe Review

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Shufflepuck Cantina Deluxe Boxart

Developer: Agharta Studio
Publisher: Agharta Studio
Platform: Mobile – Android, iOS PC – Steam

If you were a PC gamer back in 1989, then perhaps Shufflepuck Cantina Deluxe will look familiar to you. That’s because it is Agharta Studio’s homage to Shufflepuck Cafe. It turned the relatively tame world of air hockey into a pretty cool video game where you faced off against odd (often unhuman) enemies. Shufflepuck Cantina Deluxe definitely follows this formula and with a lot of modern flourishes.

This time around, the game takes place in a cantina not unlike something you might see in a Star Wars movie. At the start, you can only enter the first floor and play air hockey against three opponents as you learn the ropes. Characters each provide missions for you about who to beat or how many times to beat them. Completing these missions is integral to progressing your character up the ranks from a total newbie to a skilled player.

Beating missions is also useful if you ever hope to obtain a lot of Credz for your character. Obtaining enough currency lets you head into the shop and buy new pucks and paddles. Some confer advantages such as a super wide paddle which will make the game easier. There’s also a way to buy the backstories of characters to obtain their special skills or even get to swap your character for theirs.

Shufflepuck Cantina Deluxe Featured

Of course, all of this is just the dressing for a fun, simple way to play digital air hockey. The first enemies might seem simple, but venturing to other levels of the cantina shows just how ruthless it can get. Enemies each have their own specials, some of which are hard to block. Then there are powerups on the board that can help you, help your opponent, or cast an unfortunate effect on you (such as making the paddle tiny). Pair that with some tough challenges and Shufflepuck Cantina Deluxe becomes quite difficult after a while!

Still, this is a pretty entertaining experience. It’s funny to see these fantasy and sci-fi characters playing air hockey. The base game is enjoyable and it’s always possible to “grind” for more Credz if you can’t yet beat certain enemies. Having not played it on mobile devices, I’m not sure which is the better way to play, but it was easy to control on PC. If you do opt for the PC version and own an Oculus Rift, there’s even a beta available to let you get your virtual reality on. Shufflepuck Cantina Deluxe is a must-buy for Shufflepuck Cafe fans and a nice choice for those hankering for air hockey.


Score: 3.5

3 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Storm in a Teacup Review

Storm in a Teacup Featured

Storm in a Teacup Logo

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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Stick It To The Man! Vita Review

Stick It To The Man Featured

Stick It To The Man Logo

Developer: Zoink!
Publisher: Ripstone
Platform: PC – Steam PSN – PS3, Vita

“Stick it to the man” is a phrase I don’t think I’ve ever heard used in a serious context. The Man, of course, is meant to be big government or any sort of authority figure. In the case of Stick It To The Man!, there is actually someone called The Man and he’s coming for Ray. Ray’s story begins on the way home from work. Everything is going fine until a secret government weapon flying overhead crashes directly on top of him. Ray doesn’t die but he does end up with this weird thing lodged in his brain. Now, Ray has got a noodly pink arm coming out of his head and it can read people’s minds.

As you might have already guessed, this is quite the silly game. Ray isn’t particularly adept at anything himself. Instead, the hand is used to interact with the world. After reading thoughts, puzzles are revealed. Sometimes, people even conjure up images in their mind for Ray to take in the form of a sticker. Here’s where the name mainly comes in, as these stickers must then be used to solve other people’s troubles. Removing and applying stickers is the main goal, although there are “stealth” sections as well.

Stick It To The Man Screenshot

There are times when The Man’s goons are on patrol on platforms. Your goal is to make it through without getting nabbed along the way. Although it seems simple enough, there is a lot of room for failure. On the Vita, you are supposed to be able to touch strategically placed pins so the hand will grab them and drag Ray safely along. Perfect timing is necessary because these areas are often cramped, meaning bad guys might be only an arm’s length away. Unfortunately, more often than not I found myself pressing the touch screen directly over a pin but the touch wouldn’t register. This caused many frustrating deaths. Although there are ways to make these sections easier (via sticker usage) I still found them harder due to technical troubles.

If you ignore those sections though there is definitely a lot to dig about Stick It To The Man! First, there is the world. Everything is done up to look like cardboard cutouts. Buildings and other features look simply like sharpie drawings and it is very cool. On the Vita the graphics shine and it seems they look even better on PS3. Stages have their own style and it’s a lot of fun to see what the world has in store for you.

Then there’s the writing. I won’t say the story is fantastic, because it’s still a pretty simple “go from point Y to Z – oh, and save your girlfriend” affair. What does stand out is the script for all the characters Ray comes across in the game. Each expresses their problems mentally with ridiculous candor. There were a multitude of times that I just had to stifle laughs at something a character had said. Many games try to be funny, but it’s hard to actually find one that is.

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Of course, not everything is perfect. One of the strangest aspects of Stick It To The Man! is how much of a dark comedy it turns out to be. Despite having stickers and a pink noodly appendage on his head, Ray meets with primarily unhappy individuals. Many begrudge their horrendous life circumstances, poor jobs, lost loves, and more. Sure, many characters have positive conclusions, but the path to them can be quite awkward.

All in all, Stick It To The Man! is a fairly fun, but flawed experience. The weird sometimes non-functioning of the Vita touchpad is the biggest strike against it. Even so, some have complained about the PS3 version accidentally targeting the wrong objects. Perhaps the PC version will be the best way to play? In any case, check Stick It To The Man! out if you have three to five hours to kill and don’t mind putting up with a few technical snafus. The writing and attractive visuals definitely make up for it.


Score: 3.5

3 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Race the Sun Review

Race the Sun Featured

Race the Sun Boxart

Developer: Flippfly
Publisher: Flippfly
Platform: PC – Direct, GOG*

Although I enjoy racing games, it’s pretty safe to say that the genre is usually pretty stagnant. Instead of innovation, the focus tends to be on continually improving graphics. That’s why Race the Sun is such a refreshing experience. At its core it is a racer, but an incredibly unique one.

Race the Sun has players controlling a sleek, solar-powered craft. It has wings, which allows you to glide at times, and a lot of possible upgrades. The goal is to race as long as possible before the sun goes down. Of course, this is an inevitability, so the real fun comes in trying to prolong the light a little more each race. This is accomplished via pickups on the playing field, which can reverse the sun’s descent, speed you up, and the like.

There are no other players to race against in the main mode, although there is asynchronous co-op and leaderboards to place on.  Basically, it’s just your craft alone in a host of procedurally generated levels. Getting used to the specifics of each level is exciting, and you’ll never be able to master them, as main stages change every day. Featured user levels also switch out regularly.

Race the Sun Featured

Playing is a very simplistic but entertaining experience as you glide your craft gracefully (or not) through obstacles. At full charge, you’ll be speeding along and hoping that your skills are enough to avoid crashes. The visuals and soundtrack help make Race the Sun less stressful, as well. It looks futuristic, which appeals to me. Then there is the music which is quite soothing. With these elements combined, it is more enticing to continue coming back into a stage for one more try.

Of course, this compulsion is also aided by a checklist of tasks to complete. Do well, and new levels and items are unlocked. This manages to be one of the best and most cumbersome design choices for the game. While some tasks are easy to complete, others will remain locked on your screen a while because of their difficulty. Not completing them keeps new features hidden, and that is annoying.

While Race the Sun excels at simplicity, it is this minimalist tone that may be viewed as a “lack of content” to some. However, that’s absolutely the wrong way to approach it. Sure, there are not hundreds of levels to choose from right out of the gate. But there are infinitely many stages available since they are updated daily. There is a devoted fanbase already involved with the game, and there will only be more once this Greenlight success finally launches on Steam.


Score: 3.5

3 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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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


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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


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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


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The 11th Hour Review

The 11th Hour Featured

The 11th Hour Boxart

Developer: Trilobyte Games
Publisher: Night Dive Studios – Contact
Platform: PC – Amazon, DotEmu, GamersGate, GOG*, Steam

A few years after The 7th Guest came out, Trilobyte returned with a sequel. In The 11th Hour, 60 years have passed since the murders at Stauf Mansion. So what purpose does anyone have digging around in there “today”? A TV series by the name of Case Unsolved has decided the mansion would make a perfect story for their show, of course! But all the evils of the first game still exist and they ensnare the show’s producer, luring you in to (hopefully) save her before it’s too late.

The more modern telling of The 11th Hour is a boon as it leads to more “natural” acting over the original. Here we’re not simply enjoying the farce but actually getting involved in the narrative (there are still some really, really goofy moments though). Some may still find it pretty hokey, but some of the later reveals actually ensnared me. This is aided by much higher quality video quality as well which looks more like a TV show than a poorly green-screened cast. This was possible because now you rarely see characters interacting in the CG environment, although it still occurs from time to time.

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Despite the modern setting, The 11th Hour is still a very similar game to its predecessor. That means you’re still going to be maneuvering around via a first person point and click perspective. However, this has been updated with camera motions that make it seem like the player is actually traversing the building, rather than just looking at a series of slideshows. The pre-rendered backdrops also look better with improved textures and lighting. I’m glad that they decided to keep the finger-wagging skeleton hand cursor despite the upgrades.

New puzzle types have also been added. Now there are riddles which hint at items you must find in the house. However, as riddles, they do so in a variety of ways that never explicitly state the object’s name. Some of these riddles are pretty simple but others require serious consideration. Some were fun, and others were very un-fun. Overall, players should be prepared for a lot of anagram-based puzzles. Of course, AI puzzles are also aplenty as well as others. A few are even quite similar to puzzles in The 7th Guest, but easier.

Some of these main puzzles are incredibly difficult though. Unless you’re some sort of puzzle-solving savant, there are likely to be multiple times that giving up will seem like the best course of action. Sure, none of the puzzles are broken, but they sure like to frustrate! Thankfully, there is an option to receive hints as well as skip puzzles entirely like in the original game. The hints/skip are also now accessible from any room via a laptop. It’s convenient but you’ll still miss scenes if you cheat.

The 11th Hour Screenshot

It might seem like an oddball suggestion, but perhaps the best way to play The 11th Hour is with a friend or two. Some of these puzzles and riddles are easy to get stuck in which makes a second mind useful. In either case, if you can’t enjoy the puzzles in some regard then there’s little reason to play since that’s what the whole game is about! By having someone to play the game with it can keep frustrations minimized as well help the experience to be more enjoyable.

The 11th Hour is most definitely an improvement over The 7th Guest. There are now a variety of puzzle types to experience and only a few of them have anything to do with chess pieces! Unlike modern point and click adventures though, Trilobyte did not hold back making creative and confounding riddles and tests of player skill. Those without an appetite for straining their brain over and over again should probably skip past, but puzzle lovers will rightly find a good game here. It might be nearing 20 years old now, but The 11th Hour still packs a riddle-filled punch.


Score: 3.5

3 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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