Posts Tagged ‘4.0’

Hexcells Review

Hexcells Featured

Hexcells Logo

Developer: Matthew Brown
Publisher: Matthew Brown
Platform: PC – Steam

Every single year tons of new puzzle games launch – and I play a great deal of them. So many fall on established styles and therefore fail to draw my attention. Hexcells, on the other hand, provided a fairly unique experience and has captivated many. Now there’s a whole series of games for fans to enjoy. So how is this very first puzzler?

Simply phenomenal. The concepts at play are incredibly simple, which is almost necessary for a good puzzle game. Each stage presents players with a variety of hexagons laid out so they touch one another. Some include numbers on them. Your goal is to activate adjacent cells equal to the number on a hexagon. It might sound a bit weird at first but the quick tutorial stages make the goal understandable.

Hexcells Featured

With a bit of knowledge under your belt Hexcells throws a handful of increasingly difficult puzzles your way, adding more considerations along the way. Mistakes are allowed but if you make to many you won’t get enough points to continue on. There aren’t a ton of stages in all, which is the biggest letdown. Then again, the game is only $2.99 to begin with.

Hexcells excels at providing a fun and simple puzzle game that requires some careful thinking along the way. By the end I didn’t quite get the hang of it, but it was still enjoyable to work through each included puzzle. If you absolutely love the game then check out its sequels: Hexcells Infinite and Hexcells Plus.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


About our rating system

Are You Afraid of the Dark? The Tale of Orpheo’s Curse Review

Are You Afraid of the Dark? The Tale of Orpheo's Curse

Are You Afraid of the Dark? The Tale of Orpheo's Curse Boxart

Developer: Viacom New Media
Publisher: Viacom New Media
Platform: PC – DOS, Macintosh

Are You Afraid of the Dark? was one show on Nickelodeon that both enticed and frightened me during its run. Until recently I’d never realized any games existed for the series. Yet, a lone point and click adventure was released! Are You Afraid of the Dark? The Tale of Orpheo’s Curse places you in the shoes of the newest storyteller hoping to join the Midnight Society. Depending on how you “tell” the tale determines whether they let you in or not.

It’s actually a really cool framing for a digital episode of the show. Of course, you can only tell “The Tale of Orpheo’s Curse” but it changes depending how you play. Screw up and the other kids become excited or disappointed over the turn of events and give you hints on how to get things back on track. Of course, this framing is at the sidelines and most of your time is spent with the stars of this story: Terry and Alex.

Are You Afraid of the Dark? The Tale of Orpheo's Curse

These two siblings have somehow found themselves at Orpheo’s Palace – a run down theater which used to show magic performances. Of course, somehow they get in and discover that Orpheo is apparently alive and well and wants to use them in his sinister trick. As you explore you’ll discover hidden rooms, a variety of different, but mostly simplistic puzzles, and a surprising amount of danger. With that said, as a game targeted to Nickelodeon’s audience it’s not tremendously challenging.

What impressed me most about The Tale of Orpheo’s Curse was not its mix of FMV and CG animation (as that was suddenly quite hip at the time) but simply how user-friendly it is. Whenever you lose the game offers an immediate return to where you had just been. In fact, if you complete it in one sitting you’d never have to save once. This surprising convenience helped lessen the pain of a final chase sequence and other little flubs. If you like Are You Afraid of the Dark? or even just the early era of 3D adventure games then definitely find a copy of Are You Afraid of the Dark? The Tale of Orpheo’s Curse.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


About our rating system

Rock Boshers DX: Director’s Cut Review

Rock Boshers DX: Director's Cut Featured

Rock Boshers DX: Director's Cut Logo

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.

Rock Boshers DX: Director's Cut Featured

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


Review code provided
About our rating system

80 Days Review

80 Days Featured

80 Days Logo

Developer: inkle
Publisher: inkle
Platform: Mobile – Android, iOS

Around the World in 80 Days is one of those novels that has inspired an incredible amount of creative thought. Somehow, I’m not sure that there was ever a game based off the classic journey before now. 80 Days places you into the role of Phileas Fogg’s valet – rather than Fogg himself. It’s an interesting role to play as you must both determine what route you travel upon as well as keep your gentleman company.

80 Days falls strongly into the gamebook mold and that’s anything but a bad thing. As each day passes you must choose where to go, who to talk to, what to talk about, and how to best care for Fogg as well. Talking with others not only passes the time (and reveals some great writing) but can unveil new pathways for the illustrious trip. Of course you could simply stick to the default path but that would be the most boring adventure ever. Explore, converse, and enjoy this stunning world inkle has put together!

80 Days Featured

Unlike the novel from which it’s based, 80 Days stick you in a sort of alternate reality where steampunk and sci-fi aspects are everyday. This injects the game with more excitement as you can never be sure what awaits you in the next location. Unlike most mobile games, this one looks incredibly unique. The stylish framing of letters, excellent use of colors, map travel animations, and everything else come together to make this experience as visceral as travelling around the world via your smartphone can be.

Days are your biggest currency and worry. Get to a location too late, or simply waste your time and you’ll have to spend days before the next mode of transportation arrives. Sure, it’s the player’s fault, but it’s annoying all the same. And, while this is an odd complaint, 80 Days doesn’t feel like a “mobile” game because it is a title you want to play for long stretches at time. In any case, this is a standout title which Android and iOS gamers are lucky to have access to.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


Review code provided
About our rating system

Pathologic Review

Pathologic Featured

Pathologic Boxart

Developer: Ice-Pick Lodge
Publisher: Ice-Pick Lodge
Platform: PC – GOG*

Pathologic is one of the strangest games I have ever played. This isn’t due to the content, which is entirely understandable, but because its ability to shift from extremely good to annoyingly difficult in the span of playing for a few hours. This is a game that has earned a lot of acclaim over the years – enough to warrant a Kickstarter-funded remake! Even after finally playing it myself it’s hard to distill my complex reaction into a simple “I love/hate it” response.

Certainly, there’s a lot to love about Pathologic. The game allows you to play as one of three characters (third unlocked after a playthrough) entering into a slowly dying town. A plague has swept the area which leaves no one safe – not even you – from its grip. Visually, the world already looks dead with its desaturated browns, blacks, and greys. You hope to help people survive but that’s a massive task to accomplish.

It’s hard enough to save yourself. This is a survival game in the truest sense where you must think three steps ahead for what you need. Food, medicine, and the like are necessities and not just health boosts. If you can’t buy them you can always attempt to barter with townsfolk… or steal their stuff right out of their homes. There’s not a hyper obvious “good/bad” pathway, but characters will react with hostility, fear, or kindness based off what people are saying about you.

Pathologic Featured

The biggest problem with Pathologic is that it does so much to dissuade you from falling deeper into its world. First, the translation is pretty rough which means an English-speaker simply can’t get the full understanding of what’s going on (and may even be confused). The larger issue is the high barrier to entry for surviving in the game very long at all. Then there’s the combat which is primarily a test of patience than skill.

Despite these issues, Pathologic creates one stunning experience. It was far more innovative in 2005 than many games are today. Its experimentation may not have worked out perfectly, but it’s still a game worth playing. Here’s hoping the remake will fix the original issues without destroying its spirit!


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


Review code provided
About our rating system – *Affiliate Link

LYNE Review

LYNE Featured

LYNE Logo

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.

LYNE Featured

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


About our rating system

140 Review

140 Featured

140 Logo

Developer: Carlsen Games
Publisher: Carlsen Games
Platform: PC – Direct, Steam

One of my greatest loves in gaming is seeing how people create aesthetically interesting experiences. If they have some good gameplay to back it up then that’s just an added bonus. 140 by Carlsen Games is a pretty good, if imperfect example of a game focused on creating a very specific look and feel. It was obvious as soon as the multi-colored menu loads that I would enjoy this game.

The graphics are incredibly minimal. Your avatar is a square/circle/triangle when the mood suits it. As you travel along the 2D stages, sections animate in time with the music. For example, a platform might move with the beat or disappear at that moment. This lends itself to rhythm-based platforming where you must always be on time to make jumps safely. It’s not too difficult, although bosses prove a tougher challenge.

140 Featured

I can’t get over how much these simplistic, stylish visuals appeal to me. All the color palettes work together perfectly. The shifts of color after collecting orbs, as well as how everything syncs and moves to the music is heavenly. Of course, some of this has to do with my enjoyment of the soundtrack to. To be fair, there don’t appear to be that many songs, but they’re good all the same.

My problem with 140 is not that it becomes challenging or unfair. Instead, I simply had a technical issue that made the timing on a jump nearly impossible. It seems at least one other person out there had the same issue. If not for that I would have completely fallen in love. Still, for most everyone else, I’d say 140 is a must-play.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


About our rating system

A Golden Wake Review

A Golden Wake Featured

A Golden Wake Logo

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.

A Golden Wake Featured

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


Review code provided
About our rating system – *Affiliate Link

Finding Teddy Review

Finding Teddy Featured

Finding Teddy Boxart

Developer: LookAtMyGames
Publisher: Plug In Digital
Platform: Mobile – Android, iOS PC – DesuraSteam

When I started up Finding Teddy I really had no idea what to expect. It begins with a view of a young girl in her bedroom. While she’s sleeping a gigantic hairy spider limb reaches through her closet and steals her teddy bear. She wakes teddy bear-less and ponders for a moment before heading into her opened closet. From there, players are transported to some entirely different realm.

This simple introduction really excited me to sit down and play the game all the way through in one sitting. Of course, it’s a fairly short experience (one to three hours) but neat nonetheless. Finding Teddy is a point and click style adventure game with a couple of puzzle types. There are the standard item puzzles which require you to use a certain object with the right thing to make something happen. However, there are also puzzles related to repeating back songs in the right place.

Finding Teddy Featured

It’s the musical puzzles that help set this game apart mechanically from others. Each music note stands for one of the letters of the English alphabet (and even have similar shapes). Through music the player conveys words and ideas to the world’s inhabitants. This could mean you ask for “help” from one or tell another to “dig” a hole. I liked this concept and was sad to see how short the game is.

Most puzzles make a lot of sense just as long as you’re very aware of weird bits in the environment. Also make sure to use your fly and/or cat partners once they’re added to the team. Finding Teddy is a brief but very nice adventure game. It’s obviously optimized for touch devices (as you click on edges of the screen to move) but the PC release better showcases the pixel art. Basically, you’re in for a treat regardless of the platform you choose to play Finding Teddy on.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


About our rating system

Bad Mojo Redux Review

Bad Mojo Featured

Bad Mojo Redux Boxart

Developer: Pulse Entertainment
Publisher: Acclaim Entertainment, Night Dive Studios
Platform: PC – GOG*, Steam

Bad Mojo is one of those games that was deemed one of the last noteworthy adventure titles (before their more modern resurgence). Despite owning a copy of the re-release, Redux, near launch, it seemed too difficult and weird to get into. I’ve finally run through the unique experience and found it very much worth playing.

The game opens with a man who has apparently just committed a robbery or two and is about to leave town. His plans change completely when looking at a locket from his mother zaps him. After regaining consciousness, he finds himself within the body of a cockroach. From there, players must navigate the dangerous apartment rooms to solve puzzles and hopefully return to human form.

Exploring is a disgusting, interesting feat as you come across dead roach and rat bodies, bloodied half-prepared fish, and general yuckiness. It’s incredibly surprising to realize a form of this game launched in 1996 since the visuals are still as gross as ever. Puzzles involve looking everywhere and figuring out what exactly to walk over or push to cause a reaction. If you need help, other creatures will speak of hints in vague tones.

Bad Mojo Featured

Bad Mojo Redux is a visual upgrade to the original game and my GOG copy ran just fine on my Windows 7 64-bit computer. Buying via Steam or GOG nabs all Redux bonus videos (developer commentary, making of, hint videos), manual, soundtrack, and other goodies.

The acting in Bad Mojo is pretty hokey, but if you can get past that the experience is incredibly different from an adventure game standpoint. You might find the finale a bit tricky though, as I did. Save often! Performing different actions during a playthrough result in different endings. Although the endings might be hindered by the story and acting, crawling your way through is definitely enjoyable. Check Bad Mojo (Redux) out as long as you’re not the squeamish type.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


Review code provided
About our rating system – *Affiliate Link