Posts Tagged ‘Devolver Digital’

Fork Parker’s Holiday Profit Hike Review

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Developer: Dodge Roll
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Platform: PC – Steam

Holiday-themed games are pretty common in the history of video games but most of them aren’t particularly good. Fork Parker’s Holiday Profit Hike has a little something over most of these simply because it’s completely free! Of course, even freebies can be stinkers so let’s dive into what exactly this game is all about.

You play as Fork Parker, an apparent stodgy, rich CEO who is on the verge of being canned by the Board of Directors. Seeking to make the company’s profits rise once again he goes on a quest through some snowy vertical cave… to collect random stacks of cash throughout your ascent. Yeah, I sure wish that’s how easy it was to make thousands of bucks.

Fork Parker's Holiday Profit Hike Featured

The gameplay itself is a mix between platforming and a bit of puzzling. This is because Mr. Parker has a hiking rope and spike which he can use to reach new heights. Throw a rope, hook it on a wall, and then you can continue a rope chain from that last anchor point. However, the rope is limited in length meaning you can’t make a huge spider web contraption to climb up.

It’s a fairly challenging concept at first and honestly it doesn’t become too much easier once you understand. This is simply because the mechanic of aiming is barely present, leading to a lot of mistakes. Fork Parker’s Holiday Profit Hike is frustrating but still a bit addicting. Most players will probably give up before reaching the top of their climb, though.

Why Hatoful Boyfriend is a Visual Novel You Should Play

hatofulboyfriend

hatofulboyfriend

Hatoful Boyfriend is a visual novel which originally launched in 2011 by Hato Moa. However, it wasn’t until 2012 that the internet populace really took notice of it – even so, that was still a fairly niche audience. The fact that the game didn’t play nice with some modern OSes certainly didn’t help things. For whatever reason, Hatoful Bofyriend was then tweaked by Mediatonic to run on newer systems (alongside a few other little modifications/additions). It was around this point when a much larger audience took notice thanks to the remake’s release on Steam. Now, the game has “Overwhelmingly positive” reviews but most of which are done firmly tongue in cheek rather than much focus on possible merits.

The biggest trend that appeared was one of mock shock and jokes. Certainly, Hatoful Boyfriend was made to amuse, but the way so many reacted said one thing – they weren’t actually going to play it. Unfortunately, the oddball concept of a young woman going to high school with birds (and possibly falling for them) was too much for many to handle.  But in what way is this so different from most other visual novels currently on Steam? They tend to offer flighty impossible tales, often with implausible love interests (ex: the trope of tons of girls falling for one incredibly average guy).

One reason that I felt many distanced themselves far from Hatoful Boyfriend is because they cannot “be” the protagonist as they’re so used to. So far, most dissing of the game I’ve seen comes from guys who 1. don’t want to date pigeons 2. don’t want to date male pigeons. To be fair, no one should want to date pigeons – but something about the otome aspect makes it even harder for certain players to grasp. This is a shame and hopefully these players will reconsider playing a game that is about amusement and a simple story instead of serious romantic pursuits.

If you avoid Hatoful Boyfriend because it just seems too weird then I also ask you to reconsider. Yes, it is weird, and that’s part of the charm. This game offers a surprising amount of endings and is not just about being a goofy mess. Certain storylines are surprising in their emotional resonance.  Every bird has their own personality which compels one to learn more about them. Although it is not a modern classic of the visual novel genre by any stretch it is a fine value for its cost. There is so much more to this game than meets the eye – and so many people are missing out on it.

Are there problems with the experience? Yes, such as a very poor fast forward/skip text feature. The text appears the same as its original version, grammatical oddness and all. Still, Hatoful Boyfriend deserves more respect than it has received. If you ever find yourself running low on visual novels to play, then please pick it up. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Heavy Bullets Review

Heavy Bullets Featured

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

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

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

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

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

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


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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Always Sometimes Monsters Review

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Developer: Vagabond Dog
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Platform: PC – GOG*, Humble Store, Steam

Life is unfair. I don’t think anyone can deny that fact no matter their circumstances. Always Sometimes Monsters thrives off that concept as it pushes players into a more “human” RPG. The game begins by letting you (unassuming) choose the protagonist and then their love interest. Their race and gender are completely irrelevant. If you choose, the game can play out with lesbian or gay love interests at the center. From there, they must live out their dreary lives – and you’ll be right along for the ride.

My experience with Always Sometimes Monsters was extremely odd. At first, I couldn’t help viewing it as a game that was trying too hard with its edginess. After a couple of hours, I warmed up to it and wanted to progress my character through her story. However, progression is actually incredibly dull after a while. Just like in reality you must grind through the days to try and reunite with a past love. Heck, even that storyline is worrisome. I’ve never enjoyed the prospect of “winning back the girl/guy” that is so prevalent in romantic comedies. Sure, the path this version takes is different, but it’s still weird.

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In any case, much of the “grind” boils down to working at a job, getting money, and buying food. The food bit stinks as I’ve never enjoyed having to keep characters eating so they survive. Always Sometimes Monsters’ pacing suffers. It starts slow, picks up, then slows down for a good while longer until the finale finally comes into sight. Had the game continued as it did when my opinion first reversed itself then, well, it’d likely be far more enjoyable.

Always Sometimes Monsters certainly tried to do something different. Using the guise of a classic pixelated RPG it brought a more modern story to players. It also allowed for a surprising array of character choice, which is always appreciated. It just feels like the pace slogs everything down much of the way through. Still, it’s a very unique title and I hope to see more developers follow in Vagabond Dog’s footsteps.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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OlliOlli Review

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Developer: Roll7, General Arcade
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Platform: PC – GOG*, Steam PSN – PS4, Vita

Where are all the good skateboarding games? For many, the genre of extreme sports titles died out once Tony Hawk games got beyond their numbered iterations. To me it definitely felt like there was a lack of interesting newcomers. OlliOlli first launched on Vita to rave reviews but it took a bit longer for PC players to get their shot. The wait was most definitely worth it.

OlliOlli offers an unique approach to the entire skateboarding game formula. First off, it’s a 2D sidescrolling game. It takes the arcade-y nature of Tony Hawk but also integrates analog stick tricks that were found in the Skate series. What you end up with is a simplistic game that takes a lot of effort to get good at. As many OlliOlli players have discovered, you’ll keep playing stages thanks to the addictive gameplay. Although you can play with a keyboard, it seems hard to imagine given the ease of analog stick-based tricks. As such, this is all written from a Xbox 360 gamepad playing perspective.

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There are a surprising amount of levels to complete. Each also has five extra tasks to complete while running it. If you can finish them all you gain access to the pro version of that stage. If you thought the regular levels were tough enough these prove even wilder. It must be noted that sometimes timing of analog stick flicks versus what’s registered on-screen sometimes feels off. Perhaps there is some latency on the PC port from time to time? Either that or I’m not nearly as good at OlliOlli as I imagine!

As far as skateboarding games are concerned, OlliOlli glides above a great majority of them with ease. This is thanks primarily to the effective controlscheme but also the simple 2D visuals and awesome soundtrack. Honestly, it’s right up there with Hotline Miami’s (another game with ‘outsourced’ music). It’s incredibly hard to put the game down once you play it. Expect to wipe out constantly… and eventually get into the “flow” which makes OlliOlli amazingly enjoyable.


Score: 4.5

4 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Gods Will Be Watching Review

Gods Will Be Watching Featured

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Developer: Deconstructeam
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Platform: PC – GOG*, Steam

Gods Will Be Watching was a very hyped game prior to release. This continuation of fanfare from the Indiegogo success was expected, but even those who didn’t pledge freaked out. The general consensus post-launch is that the game delivered was not quite what people expected. Personally, I had no idea what to expect, and jumped right in. This led to a very intense game experience.

The basics of Gods Will Be Watching focus around it being a pixelated point and click adventure game. Players engage in scenarios and then must interact with objects or people and make choices. Each choice seems important because they often mean the difference between life or death for various characters. In a way, it’s similar to Heavy Rain (but we’ll get back to that…). It even has a Catherine-like element where, at the end of every level, you’re shown what choices most other players made.

All of these segments tie together in an overarching narrative which – spoilers – doesn’t appear to have significant differences regardless of what you do. I don’t want to touch on plot specifics because the entire game is crafted around telling said plot, but it end up falling short of its heady notions. The writing itself is nice, but you end up hearing some of the same conversations a lot after failing. It also may try a bit too hard at times for a “gritty” and “serious” narrative.

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And, yes, you’re going to fail a lot. You cannot save mid stage so any late screwups start you from the beginning of a stage again. This proved to be a horrendous move with a Russian roulette segment early on. After many players complained about the total unfairness of these random elements, the developer added more difficulties. This way, now most players can actually beat it, not just those willing to suffer through countless replays guessing about what to do when.

It seems that Gods Will Be Watching is one of those “love it or hate it” games. I was left feeling nonplussed about the whole thing but appreciate that it tried something different. I’d be very interested to see what Deconstructeam makes next.


Score: 2.5

2 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Foul Play Review

Foul Play Featured

Foul Play Boxart

Developer: Mediatonic
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Platform: PC (Reviewed), Xbox 360 – XBLA
Review code provided

“All the world’s a stage” is a quote which well reflects the realm of gaming. Games themselves tend to be visually represented stories, often mimicking tricks used first from plays or films. But every once in a while we get a game that doesn’t eschew that fact. Instead, we get something like Foul Play in which the lead character narrates his story and then acts out memories through a stage play.

Baron Dashforth is a self-proclaimed “daemon hunter” as well as a gentleman. That much is evidenced through things like his top hat and mustache. Despite his supposed gentlemanly nature though we are tasked with making Dashforth brawl his way through copious enemies and stages. From a beginning in Egypt all the way to the hellish daemon plane, there’s a lot to see.

Fights themselves can easily become button mashing fests. In order to lessen this, developer Mediatonic chose to offer special challenges on each stage. There are three at a time and often ask players to either defeat enemies in a certain time frame, keep civilians safe, or destroy enemies in a certain fashion. Successful completion of all three grants the player a new reward. The hardest challenge to complete almost always ends up being the one that asks players to chain successful attacks in excess of 100 hits.

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What makes pulling off a 100+ combo difficult? Primarily, it is the controls but the visuals also play into it. For one, Dashforth is small and not particularly speedy. Because the game takes place on a “3D” plane, he can move into the foreground, middleground, or background. Getting from one side to the other is pretty slow, even after gaining a useful ability in the third act. With not enough speed, you can find yourself losing a chain simply because you can’t get to another enemy in time.

The art style also causes trouble. Many of the characters are the same skin tone as Dashforth and about his size. When they aren’t dressed up in costume, it’s easy to lose track of your character among them. Similarly, when a massive enemy (or group of them) appear, they can completely obscure the view of your character. Static objects become see-through when you’re behind them so why can’t the big baddies do the same? Then, when there are enemies clustered all over each other, it is simply easy to not notice one is prepping an attack that will break your combo. Dodging and blocking is very easy and quick, but you can’t dodge effectively if you can’t see what’s coming!

Foul Play Screenshot

Players can enter into Foul Play solo or engage in local or online co-op. When in co-op the game makes more sense. This is because story scenes feature both characters and then have the second disappear once the single player resumes control. Perhaps the story itself isn’t that exciting, but it is able to offer some laughs along the way.

I did not much care for character designs, but that’s not to say the art as a whole is awful. This is not the case. The animation is smooth and the play aesthetic is used well. Heading to a new part of the screen often has backdrops being switched out, and new things hanging from wires off the ceiling. Similarly, enemies dress up as crabs, bears, and more and you can always see their face tucked into the costume. The concept of having the game be one big stage play is executed well thanks to the art design.

For as cute and silly as the visuals are though there is still work that needs to be done to tune up gameplay. It is easy enough to play but frustrating in other design areas. Even with all moves unlocked, it’s still hard to keep attack chains going far beyond 100. At times, it feels like a chore and that’s something you never want a game to become. Foul Play is one game that seems to emphasize style over substance. Pick it up if you and a friend absolutely adore brawlers and can run through the five acts together.


Score: 2

2 out of 5 alpacas


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