Posts Tagged ‘4.0’

Lilly Looking Through Review

Lilly Looking Through Featured

Lilly Looking Through Boxart

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

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

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

Lilly Looking Through Featured

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

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


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Eldritch Review

Eldritch Featured

Eldritch Boxart

Developer: Minor Key Games
Publisher: Minor Key Games
Platform: PC – Direct, Steam

A lot of things come to mind when people invoke the name H.P. Lovecraft. Sometimes thoughts rush straight to Cthulhu, the Necronomicon, or (in)sanity. Even if you’ve never read his fiction, you’re likely aware of some of these things thanks to video games taking bits and pieces to create their own narratives. Eldritch is one such game that was inspired by Lovecraft, but also roguelikes. It might sound like a winning or awful combination (depending on your proclivity). As it turns out, the results are pretty good.

Players enter Eldritch with little explanation. They are just a woman stuck in a library, or so it seems. After reading some of the tomes, you realize that you can actually transport yourself to a new area by reading one of three special books. What is this strange new place? It’s a dungeon filled with treasures and dangerous beings – and you’ll have to survive it all. Or, as was often the case for my playthrough, you’ll die a lot.

Each dungeon is an odd mass of rooms, spikes, enemies, and objects to be found. Weapons are pivotal to survival later on and it is best to stock up on them early. Often there are coins scattered about as well which you can spend for other items. If you’re in danger, try to put the coins in storage though. Upon dying the player loses all they’ve found thus far, including any coins on their person. The same holds true for keys which are tremendously useful. However, unlocked levels will remain unlocked even after you die, which is quite handy.

Eldritch Screenshot

The gameplay itself is based around searching through levels to collect gear and find the exits. Of course, there are tons of monsters that will do anything to keep you from that goal. For about half of Eldritch the game is actually pretty easy. Then some new monster types appear that makes things more challenging – and sometimes even creepy. Sound effects are used to great effect as well.  For example, hearing odd breathing coming slowly closer will definitely cause players to be extra alert. Although there is apparently a very subtle soundtrack, I couldn’t perceive it and instead would play my own soft music over the game.

There’s an elephant in the room that it’s time to address. Eldritch looks tremendously like Minecraft. Or, it at least uses voxel graphics with pixellated skins that are certainly Minecraft-esque. This has been a trend lately for many indie developers and its easy to see why. With such graphics it is easier to worry about the experience, rather than making realistic graphics that are far beyond the scope of a small team. The game itself however is nothing like Minecraft. Aside from being able to blow up walls with dynamite, there is basically no similarity between the two.

Playing through Eldritch doesn’t take too tremendously long, but once you do, it reveals a new game+. Anyone who felt the main game was too easy will find this to be a much harder version. Features such as sneaking are actually necessary to survive! Players must also more carefully manage resources. If you felt the main game was too simple, then definitely try and get to NG+ to really start enjoying it. For me, the main game was tough enough. It’s a fun little adventure perfect for those looking to build up to more challenging roguelikes.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Pokémon X Review

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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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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.

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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.

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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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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.

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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.

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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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The Stanley Parable Review

The Stanley Parable Featured

The Stanley Parable Boxart

Developer: Galactic Cafe
Publisher: Galactic Cafe
Platform: PC – Steam

The Stanley Parable began as a Source mod in 2011. It gained attention, fans, and left a lasting impression on those who played it. Enough so, it seems, to have its remastered version break through the moderately unfair gates of Steam Greenlight. Now on Steam, what was previously known as The Stanley Parable: HD Remix is ready to confuse many new players.

Having only played the recent demo, I was mostly unaware of what to expect. Upon starting the game, you play as a character addressed only as Stanley. Stanley works at a monotonous job where he simply types what he is told for hours at a time. As the game begins, he becomes conscious to find the office entirely empty. As he searches further, he realizes that there is no one to be found anywhere. Well, unless you count the omnipresent commentator who is narrating all of Stanley’s actions.

It’s possible to beat the game after 20 minutes or so, but to leave it at that is to sorely miss the point. Try it again. After all, the loading screen at some points states how the end is not the end. Things change, and things stay the same, but overall things evolve in ways that gamers are likely not accustomed to. This is fun and even a little bit frightening at times. What choices change things and what are meaningless? It’s a joy to test everything out and advance tweaked narratives.

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Obviously, the content of these replays is best seen on your own. Much of the fun for me playing was hearing the narrator basically make fun of the precepts of gaming. We see a lot of talk about choice (or rather, the illusion of it) in modern video games. Developers wax about how impactful these choices are but deep down we all know they rarely lead to anything interesting. Knowing that choice is a constructed mechanic in games, and referencing it as such, The Stanley Parable is still able to create an experience wholly unique in the gaming medium.

There’s some people who will definitely dislike what is offered here, but if you have any inkling of interesting in gaming beyond taking everything at face value then discovering all of The Stanley Parable’s secrets could become a temporary obsession. It already has for me, as my time has been spent replaying the same old situations, hoping to jump into something far more fascinating. Sometimes it happens and other times the same exact story is retold. What will frustrate some has captivated me and soon may ensnare many other players as well.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller – Season One Review

Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller Featured

Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller Boxart

Developer: Phoenix Online Studios
Publisher: Phoenix Online Studios
Platform: Mobile – iOS, PC – GOG*, Steam, etc

Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller is an episodic point and click adventure series which just concluded its first season. It took Phoenix Online Studios about a year to pump out all four episodes, but now that it has concluded we can finally assess how the full product stands against adventure gaming competition.

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Unemployment Quest Review

Unemployment Quest Featured

Unemployment Quest Boxart

Developer: Charles DeYoe
Publisher: Charles DeYoe
Platform: PC (Desura, Direct)

This post is part of the Indie RPG Bundle review collection

Chances are there’s probably been a time in your life when you’ve found yourself struggling for work. For me, the struggle is current and not something that should be desired by anyone. At the very least I’m lucky enough to have a place to call home until luck finally strikes. So maybe it’s because of my current state but I found Unemployment Quest to be quite a neat and unique title.

You start the game as a young guy who has apparently survived college but can’t find work anywhere around town or even at the mall. Some of his friends have found work and it seems only the main character is left out. Day after day, he must return home to his parent’s house to confront a supportive but disappointed mother and outright annoyed father.

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So how does this factor into a video game form? You see, the player must battle those he wishes to give a resume to, and battle for increasing confidence (and gaining money). The fights are much like a typical JRPG and the art style meshes with this. It looks much like a 16-Bit game even if it has some different thematic elements at play. Leveling up helps a lot with fights but still doesn’t seem to change the mood of prospective employers.

In a way, I appreciate the commitment to making job acquisition an impossibility for most of the game. However, because of that, it seems silly that money is so easy to come by in the game. For a while you’ll be stuck broke, but soon enough there are treasure chests that start popping up with gratuitous amounts of money. Real life doesn’t work that way although I sure wish it did! Of course, the money is needed for buying new items a la every other RPG out there.

Once you get past the few iffy points like that, Unemployment Quest is definitely worth checking out. It’s cool to see the various ways the typical JRPG world was tweaked to service a story about the incredibly relatable task of looking for a job.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Gamebook Adventures 2 – The Siege of the Necromancer Review

Siege of the Necromancer Featured

The Siege of the Necromancer

Developer: Tin Man Games
Publisher: Tin Man Games
Platform: Android, iOS, PC (Desura)

This post is part of the Indie RPG Bundle review collection

Before being part of a bundle, I have to admit I had never heard of Tin Man Games or their Gamebook Adventures series. However, after playing, I have found that The Siege of the Necromancer is an incredibly entertaining game and something I need to have more of in my life. Why is that? What exactly is a “Gamebook Adventure”?

If you’ve ever played with a Choose Your Own Adventure book then you’re likely familiar with the premise. In this title, you are presented with a long story, almost purely comprised of text (although images pepper some pages). As you read, there will often be choices presented which can lead to very different outcomes. The main goal is, well, to survive the adventure!

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Gamebook Adventures 2: The Siege of the Necromancer starts you out in the middle of action. You and a band of a couple of men are seeking to survive rampaging goblyns. Things quickly go downhill, but you make it out alive. From there, you must explore and visit new environments on your travels. There are a great deal of helpful tools to find but, unfortunately, there are also a great deal of enemies standing in your way!

Battles are more interesting than the Choose Your Own Adventure books of yore because they actually play out more like a RPG. During a fight, you roll dice to set attack power or defense. Enemies roll as well and whoever has the higher roll will either be able to attack, or alternately, dodge an attack. It works out quite well and becomes tense as you watch the dice fall on-screen. Those who think the animation is too slow can also make it quick.

Beyond that, there are seemingly hundreds of choices to make throughout a single playthrough of The Siege of the Necromancer. Even after a successful playthrough there’s still so much left that you can easily give it another run. Put simply, the game is a ton of fun although most might not even consider it a “game”. It certainly makes me want to check out what else Tin Man Games has to offer!


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Dungeon Fray Review

Dungeon Fray Featured

Dungeon Fray Boxart

Developer: Nitesh Gupta
Publisher: Nitesh Gupta
Platform: PC

This post is part of the Indie RPG Bundle review collection

 Do you like roguelikes? Well, you’d better if you choose to give Dungeon Fray a shot. That’s because this title follows the genre conventions pretty stringently. You begin the game as one of a handful of classes, then get to work clearing dungeons, collecting loot, and leveling up (or dying). So why is it that, as routine as the game is, that I can’t stop playing?!

With simple mechanics, Dungeon Fray is extremely easy to get into. There’s very little pretense here. You just select your hero and are plunged in the middle of a dark dungeon. Maneuvering around is simple, as is fighting enemies. All you’re required to do is bump into them to initiate an attack (Y’s anyone?) although you can also cast spells. Once they’re dead, you gain much-needed XP.

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With enough experience your character levels up and that grants a free, much-needed health boost. Of course, you’re also collecting money from treasure chests and the like. With this you can increase stats (health, strength, defense) or choose to buy potions and spells. It’s important to improve your character but also maintain a healthy amount of items otherwise you’ll find yourself dying quickly.

Visually, there’s very little impressive about the experience. It has much less finesse than its brethren Hack, Slash, Loot, but somehow that quickly becomes a non issue. I prefer this game by far because it’s tough, but fair. You can always keep a close enough level to enemies by clearing floors, and there are a great deal of objects in dungeons to aid you. With easy to understand gameplay/controls and fast action, Dungeon Fray is the kind of game that compels players to go “just one more dungeon” (before playing many more).


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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