Posts Tagged ‘Desura’

Truck Racer Review

Truck Racer Featured

Truck Racer Boxart

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

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

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

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

Truck Racer Featured

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

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

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

Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas

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Super Amazing Wagon Adventure Review

Super Amazing Wagon Adventure Featured

Super Amazing Wagon Adventure Boxart

Developer: Sparsevector
Publisher: Sparsevector
Platform: Xbox 360 – XBLIG, PC – Desura, Steam (Reviewed)

Many of us first experienced the joy of actually playing video games in the classroom with The Oregon Trail. At least, there was some excitement before realizing that the title is actually pretty tough. In the end, the most fun many of us had with it was choosing awkward/irreverent names for the group. But what if it were an actually fun, arcade-style action game? Then we’d have something like Super Amazing Wagon Adventure which would absolutely never be allowed into school.

Things start off calmly enough. After selecting three travelers, they hop into a wagon and venture through the plains hunting animals. Once that’s complete, things start to quickly descend into weirdness. Buffalos or bandits might strike out at you, or sometimes, there might be tons of squirrels rushing at you. Other times, the old timey bandits might be firing at you with machine guns. One of your wagon-goers might eat some special mushrooms that cause a great deal of trouble.

Super Amazing Wagon Adventure Screenshot 1

Basically, things get all kinds of messed up and fast. But that’s obviously part of the fun. Although much of Super Amazing Wagon Adventure happens in the same general layout, the way that players work through them can change. Random hilarious events are interspersed within to keep it fresh. Much of these events are wonderful, such as discovering unicorns or special treasures underwater.

How does this game actually play? It’s about split between a side-scrolling shooter and twin stick shooter. In side-scrolling sections, you usually just have to maneuver around past dangerous things (flaming buffaloes, bullets, stinky skunk carcasses, etc) or fight back. The team has a measly gun to start but there are many gun power ups to find randomly. In the twin stick segments, you mosey around on one screen, shooting at whatever comes toward you. If you die, then the other members of the troop will investigate and have to undergo the same battle.

Gameplay itself is pretty simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. On the other hand, Super Amazing Wagon Adventure seriously tired me out after about an hour of play. Shooting up enemies while keeping your wagon team safe is a lot harder than you’d expect and there are many, many opportunities for death. As long as one player is alive then they’ll keep going, but even keeping one person alive is tough! One of the most fun (and morbid?) things to do is name your team after friends and watch the ridiculous or grisly ways they die.

Super Amazing Wagon Adventure Screenshot 2

So far, the experience is fun, if taxing. The simplicity is engaging and definitely hearkens back to earlier days of gaming. The visuals and audio definitely help in this regard. In particular, the visuals are defaulted to a mode that makes the game look like it’s playing on a CRT set. Edges are rounded and there are scan lines present as well. It’s lovely to look at the crisp pixel visuals through this veneer of authenticity.

I just wish there was a further expanded variety to make this an even more amazing adventure. For the most part, I’ve experienced dozens of playthroughs that all have to have specific types of events take place in a set order. Yes, there is a lot of variation, but these moments are additions to the existing formula. But when you consider the price of $2.99, it’s hard to suggest the game is lacking. There are multiple gameplay modes and wagon types alongside standard story mode! Super Amazing Wagon Adventure is a fun, bloody, and weird as hell journey to the American West.

Score: 3.5

3 1/2 out of 5 alpacas

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Eleusis Review

Eleusis Featured

Eleusis Boxart

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

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

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

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

Eleusis Featured

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

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

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

Score: 2.5

2 1/2 out of 5 alpacas

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Escape Goat Review

Escape Goat Featured

Escape Goat Boxart

Developer: MagicalTimeBean
Publisher: MagicalTimeBean
Platform: PC – Desura, Direct, GOG*, Steam (Reviewed), Xbox 360 – XBLIG

Escape Goat is one of those games that has managed to evade me since it launched on Xbox Live Indie Games. Many took notice of it at the time, but for me, my interest in any XBLIG title was negatively colored by a few unfortunate experiences. Only now have I finally gotten to spend time with Escape Goat and can’t believe I passed on it for so long.

The game is a puzzle platformer, which in itself isn’t impressive anymore, but thankfully there is a lot that manages to set it apart from the zillion others out there. The first thing anyone is likely to notice is the purple goat. This is your character, of course! The goat can jump, double jump, and ram to speed up. This unusually colored goat teams up with a mouse which can travel on walls to trigger buttons from afar, or even teleport you under the right circumstances.

As the story begins, you realize that the goat and every other animal is stuck in the Prison of Agnus. All players need to know is that they’re going to go through a series of rooms to find sheep and save them. Once every (or most) animals are saved then our goat hero can finally escape. Overall, this grants a little over 50 solvable levels. There are even more difficult ones to complete after you beat the game as well.

Escape Goat Featured

Unlike most puzzle platformers, it actually feels like the majority of Escape Goat is actually solvable. This isn’t a slight against any other games. Generally, it’s hard for me to work through many puzzle games because they seem to be hard right from the start. But here it’s easy to grasp the concepts of buttons and switches and how to most effectively use your mouse friend. As new features are introduced, such as exploding barrels, you work them into your puzzle-solving knowledge and continue to move forward smoothly.

It might only take a few rounds of guess and check to figure out the solution to a stage, but sometimes the controls can muck up plans. Playing with the Xbox 360 gamepad is recommended and is what I did. With this setup, it seemed that the goat was not perfectly attuned with my thumbstick motions. The issue only became apparent on a few late stages where I was attempting to perform some speedy hoofwork.

For the most part though, everything about Escape Goat is lovely. The visuals are a very attractive pixel art style, the chiptune music is suitably excellent, and puzzles themselves are varied from stage to stage. Beating the main game only takes a couple of hours but once you’re done with that it’s fun to then jump into the extra hard stages or even try your hand at the stage editor. In any case, Escape Goat only costs $4.99 which actually seems cheap for the amount of puzzles provided. It also happens to be the best game featuring a purple goat out there – at least until Escape Goat 2 launches!

Score: 4.5

4 1/2 out of 5 alpacas

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Cook, Serve, Delicious! Review

Cook, Serve, Delicious! Screenshot 1

Cook, Serve, Delicious! Boxart

Developer: Vertigo Gaming
Publisher: Vertigo Gaming
Platform: Android, iOS, PC – Desura, Direct, Steam (Reviewed)

For some reason, I’ve always had an affinity for games that have to do with food. Whether it’s BurgerTime, Cooking Mama, or Ore no Ryouri there has always been something uniquely appealing about them. It seems developer Vertigo Gaming shared my passions because in the early 2000s they released Ore no Ryomi 1 and 2. These two titles were fun, if simplistic fan games. In 2012, after serious growth as a developer, they published Cook, Serve, Delicious! This title blows basically all other cooking games out of the water.

Cook, Serve, Delicious! Screenshot 1

You begin the game as the owner of a brand new, and quite frankly, unappealing restaurant. The location gains customers primarily because of being situated in an office complex rather than word of mouth. With a zero star establishment under your name, it’s up to the player to get it into shape and eventually make it all the way to a five-star restaurant. Although you’re the boss, this is not a simple management simulator. In fact, most of the gameplay takes place in the kitchen.

Players must cook all the food that customers order! After selecting the food you want to serve for the day, you must sit behind the counter and wait to serve guests. As they pile in, they rattle off their food choices and the player must get to work preparing them. With an item selected, you have to choose all the proper ingredients and then serve. For example, if someone asks for chicken noodle soup then you’d better make sure to put chicken, noodles, and the like into the soup before cooking! Adding and interacting with food items (in the PC version) can be accomplished via mouse clicks or keyboard shortcuts, but keyboard is definitely the way to go.

Keyboard is suggested because things get incredibly hectic almost from the get go. There is often a steady stream of customers popping in, but things get even worse during rush hours. At these times, you’ll see all your prep stations fill with waiting orders that you want to fulfill. It’s possible to ignore orders, but then customers will leave frustrated and not return. Some food items are super easy to prepare such as corn dogs, but others require real attention. After a while though, you’ll likely start to memorize the various keyboard presses for different food items.

Cook, Serve, Delicious! Screenshot 3

Because keyboard play and quick reading is basically integral to being successful at Cook, Serve, Delicious! it is not a game suggested for young children or anyone with various hand/wrist strain injuries. It would also definitely be hard for those who type using the “hunt and peck” method but could actually help them memorize letter locations. As for me, my average WPM fluctuates between 90-110 and there was still a learning curve to become skilled at hammering out orders. With that said, the layout is mostly genius because many food item keybindings are directly related to their name. For example, to add bacon you type “B”. It is also possible to change most of the buttons if you need to.

Okay, so food is hectic to prepare and serve but also a lot of fun. Serving customers perfect meals makes more visitors arrive next time. With more meals served, your restaurant generates more money. And with more money you can buy a host of goodies for the business. There are many recipes to choose from, equipment to aid the player, and you can even place bets on how well you expect your next performance at work to be. Money is integral and easy to burn so manage it well!

After a while, new opportunities pop up. First, there is the ability to cater events. This is one great way to make money on the side. Many other, increasingly odd, avenues of play appear as well. It’s these concepts which expand beyond purely “cooking food in the restaurant” that make Cook, Serve, Delicious! and even better game. It just seems like such a vast product which is weird when simply looking at it at face value.

Cook, Serve, Delicious! Screenshot 2

The game is deep and will last a while. Even after all this discussion, there are still neat mechanics at play such as ratings on menu items that affect you in positive or negative ways. Then there are the e-mails you get daily that range from helpful to just plain awkward. Then there are the silly touches such as the names given to specialty menu items (such as “cheesy leaves” for a cheese-covered salad). Visually, it’s easy to see the attention Vertigo Gaming gave the title. Food looks routinely delicious with its cartoonish depictions and overall everything just seems pretty polished.

As for issues, it can be tougher to do certain menu items because they require a hand to move from the main portion of keyboard to arrow keys. Yes, these bindings can be changed, but it would have been cool to see an alternate layout available by default. Otherwise, it can be hard to make one that works well for yourself. I’ve ended up looking through the Steam Community of this game for one. It would also have been appreciated to see multiple difficulties available. I understand that the game is meant to be hectic, but it is probably nearly unplayable for those who have less than ideal keyboarding skills. An option to tweak speed, or disable rushes entirely could go a long way.

Bringing up these points is important to me because Cook, Serve, Delicious! is an excellent game that could easily attract attention from gamers of all types. It is far from the “casual” experience that supposed hardcore gamers ignore, and yet, non-gamers could even get into it. Having read comments from players so far it also seems that fans of different genres have still gravitated to the simple fun of playing this title. Cook, Serve, Delicious! is a seriously fun way to spend some time and I recommend anyone who has had their curiosity piqued to check it out.

Score: 4.5

4 1/2 out of 5 alpacas

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Omegalodon Review

Omegalodon Featured

Omegalodon Boxart

Developer: North of Earth
Publisher: North of Earth
Platform: PC (Desura, DirectSteam)

There are a few things I’ve always really wanted to do in games. One is to get to be a serial killer in a cheesy horror movie-type title and another is to be a rampaging dinosaur. As you might guess from the title, Omegalodon fits into the category of “rampaging dinosaur” (or at least some sort of giant fish-reptile hybrid). The question is if it can stand up as a worthy experience.

When first playing Omegalodon, I was incredibly confused as to what to do. Judging by the Steam forums, this seems a somewhat common response from new players. If you take the time to read any user-created guide though you’ll see things are pretty simple. You can play on the side the giant monster or with the police and army who are trying to stop it from destroying the city. If you join monster team then you can either inhabit the actual omegalodon (only one per game) or be an enviro. Enviros are trying to preserve this rare species and have healing powers.

Omegalodon Featured

Of course, the army and police units exist to stop it at all costs. They can hop around in a variety of weaponized vehicles and attempt to stop further destruction. Unfortunately, they can also engage in shooting each other which is what some games devolve into if nobody play as the monster. You can always tell who is on what team by opening up the map and checking the color of their location marker.

So the game is actually quite simple. But even so, there are not many people playing right now. This is the same issue that befalls a lot of indie multiplayer releases. I have encountered two kinds of regulars so far. One group was incredibly rude to newbies and the other appeared to be a group of children who were having fun roleplaying rather than sticking to the army/soldiers vs. monster gameplay.

When no one wants to play the game “properly” it’s hard to get a feel for how it is actually supposed to play out. When inhabiting the omegalodon, his health decreases fairly fast too which makes it hard to do too much before dying. Overall, it does seem like a game that needs a bit more structure more to feel like a fleshed out title. That, or simply needs more players who can make a match exciting. I’d like to have a good match myself, but after hours of trying, have yet to really hit it off with Omegalodon. If you’re committed to playing, make sure to rope in a few friends as well.

Score: 1.5

1 1/2 out of 5 alpacas

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Telepath RPG: Servants of God Review

Telepath RPG: Servants of God

Telepath RPG: Servants of God Boxart

Developer: Sinister Design
Publisher: Sinister Design
Platform: PC (Desura, Direct, GamersGate)

This post is part of the Indie RPG Bundle review collection

It’s possible that if you’re reading this review that “Telepath RPG” might sound familiar to you. Having never heard of Telepath RPG: Servants of God before, it was quite the surprise that there were actually two previous games in the series. Both appeared as free titles on Newgrounds. Those Flash titles appear to have set the basics for what the series would become in its third iteration.

Telepath RPG: Servants of God sets the stage in a fantasy Middle East where people have come to impose their religion upon the local people of Ravinale. You and your parents are sternly opposed to these new rulers and vocal enough that your entire family is imprisoned! But there are many others looking to kick these theocrats out of the city. With these soldiers at your side, the player must serve as a tactician to lead them to victory. Unfortunately, the story is static in that you can’t change the main character’s gender or race despite it not affecting much (beyond the obvious usage of “he” in voiced lines).

The game is played from a top down perspective where you control each of the teammates. Actions are always governed by the player and include positioning, attacks, and healing. Each character has a max number of places they can move per turn and distances for their attacks. With each in your hands, it’s required to keep track of positioning so that one character doesn’t block another out of attacking or anything like that. Play is pretty simple and that’s a big part of what makes it so fun. It’s incredibly enjoyable to control the team and keep them smartly placed for the most effective victories.

Telepath RPG: Servants of God

Beyond these main story battles there are also side quests to be completed. Regardless of what you’re doing, Servants of God is infused with tons of chatter. Characters all have personalities apparent through their words and the writing is a pretty good read. Many, but not all, characters also receive voice acting to speak their lines. It seems the voice actors might not be professionals, but they are (usually) not embarrassing to listen to.

One point that might bother some players are the visuals. The gameplay screens for battle and exploration depict characters as very cartoony. It definitely clashes with the otherwise high quality portraits. Some scenes have colored drawn backdrops that both look unpolished and like they were pulled from a fable. I’m not sure how that works out, I appreciated them nonetheless.

RPG players who are willing to spend some time with Telepath RPG: Servants of God just might find it to be surprisingly enjoyable. It’s not perfect, but offers easy to understand gameplay and a variety of difficulty levels so most everyone can play.

Score: 3.5

3 1/2 out of 5 alpacas

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Gamebook Adventures 6 – The Wizard from Tarnath Tor Review

Gamebook Adventures 2 - The Wizard from Tarnath Tor Featured

Gamebook Adventures 6 - The Wizard from Tarnath Tor

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

This post is part of the Indie RPG Bundle review collection

Many of us have “played” gamebooks in the past whether or not we called them by that name. Perhaps you played Choose Your Own Adventure stories or the Lone Wolf series. Whatever the case, Tin Man Games have been focusing on creating gamebooks for the digital audience and they do quite well at it. The Wizard from Tarnath Tor is the sixth in their Gamebook Adventures line.

The story focuses on your lead character, who begins the story stuck in a trap. You are saved by a wizard who then regales you with a tale about how he came to be there. According to him, he was a wizard from the great City of Tarnath. At least it was until it was destroyed in a rampage. This man asks for you to return to the city and fetch his wizarding tools because he senses that something evil has begun to take place there. And, of course, whether that is believed or not – that’s the journey you must undertake!

The Gamebook Adventure series pays great attention to keeping their games very book-like. Pages look realistic and page flips are animated as well. In a really useful move, you can also increase or decease the font size which is something that can’t be done with a traditional book. The Wizard from Tarnath Tor has a great deal of pages and choices to make along the journey.

As you might expect, it’s the choices that make these games the most interesting. After reading pages of text you are regularly presented with a new choice to make. Choices may reveal hidden objects, new dangers, or simply flesh out the adventure. Battles occur in turn-based fashion with dice rolls deciding the offense and defense of each side.

However, it seems something must have been amiss during its production because the writing does not stand up as well against The Siege of the Necromancer (the only other game in the series I’ve played thus far). No, it’s not necessarily the skill level because I was still curious to unravel the story. Instead, my eyes were regularly drawn to grammatical flubs. That, and the phenomenon of re-using the same word many times in a short span was also common. Even with these troubles, I still found the experience enjoyable.

Score: 3.5

3 1/2 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!

Siege of the Necromancer Featured

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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