Posts Tagged ‘digital’

Bad Hotel Review

Bad Hotel Featured

Bad Hotel Boxart

Developer: Lucky Frame
Publisher: Lucky Frame
Platform: iOS, PC – Steam

Many gamers have tired of the tower defense genre as it was shoehorned into many games in the past year. I wouldn’t blame you for wanting to tune out any new games which rest within the genre, but even so, you might want to check out Bad Hotel. That’s because Bad Hotel creates something quite different out of the simple tower defense conventions.

First is the plot which sets you out as a hotel owner. The hotel is effectively your “tower” and, under normal circumstances, there should be nothing threatening its existence. However, Tarnation Tadstock happens to be in the neighborhood and he isn’t pleased with a new entrepreneur in his midst. As such, he sends legions of seagulls, swimmers, clouds, and a host of other enemies at you to make your hotel crumble.

Of course, you’re able to fight back! The player is always presented with a handful of possible rooms they can build. For example, there are main rooms which offer you money. Then there are rooms that house guns or healing stations. Unfortunately, of all the rooms, only the standard ones (aka, free of any other function) will generate cash. Without cash, you can’t build more weapons to fight. Each level is always a test to see how much weaponry you need versus funding.

Bad Hotel Screenshot

Each section of the building has its own health. Once it has been whittled to zero, it disappears, meaning you lose whatever benefit it offered. Skillfully deciding between how to orient weapon or health rooms is important because they’re usually expensive and you don’t want them going to waste. Housing them safely between standard rooms is helpful, but sometimes circumstances go so fast you’ll barely have time to think. It seems at these times that playing on an iPhone or iPad would be preferred, simply because it is hard to maneuver new rooms onto the hotel fast enough otherwise.

Bad Hotel’s gameplay is pretty fun and quickly increases in difficulty. However, that’s not all it has going for it. There are also the visuals that stand out as distinct amongst any other tower defense games, as well as most titles in general. It’s attractively designed with an art deco style and 80s color scheme. Musically the game stands out as well thanks to its procedurally-generated tunes. Each building offers its own sound effect, meaning the player is changing the music simply by how they choose to play.

If there’s any reason to knock Bad Hotel it could just be because it’s a bit too hard. The money given at the start of a round is always sufficient to get going, but if you’re not quick to come up with a strategy it isn’t enough. This could easily be solved by having two difficulty modes. Mostly though, it seems to me that playing on PC is not the ideal way to go. As I said before, quick hotel building would be much easier with touch controls, rather than mouse-based drag and drop functionality. Still, Bad Hotel provides a challenging and unique tower defense experience.


Score: 3

3 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.

Soundodger+ Screenshot 1

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.

Soundodger+ Screenshot 2

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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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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Outlast Review

Outlast Featured

Outlast Cover

Developer: Red Barrels
Publisher: Red Barrels
Platform: PC

 Having been a long time horror fan, I have long since developed specific tastes and requisites or what I think makes a “good” horror game. Of course, it is worth recognizing that games I do not find scary can still be great, or at least, appreciated by others. A game in the horror genre can be a lot of things, although scary is preferred. It just seems hard to come across one that I’d feel comfortable suggesting is actually terrifying. Is Outlast the game to do it?

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See No Evil Review

sne10 - Copy

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Developer: Bigfingers
Publisher: Bigfingers
Platform: PC
Received review code

See No Evil is the newest niche adventure game on the market by developer Bigfingers. Of course, even most adventure game fans will probably be unaware of its arrival. Why is that? It seems most likely due to the fact that this is a bara game. With that said, it manages to push past whatever notions people might have in their heads about what a bara game must be. As it turns out, See No Evil is a lovely title that deserves a much larger audience.

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You Need to Play Gone Home

Gone Home featured

Gone Home featured

Gone Home is the first full game provided by developer The Fullbright Company. Having never before played their Bioshock 2 DLC “Minerva’s Den”, I was unaware of their style or skill. It’s obvious that the team is incredible though as they have created a truly intriguing new game.

Playing Gone Home is so easy that it is likely fans of all genres (and non-gamers to some degree) would be able to play and understand it. This openness is important because the story included is one which many people will understand and empathize with.

Although it probably sounds sappy, I felt certain story segments paralleled my own life so closely that it was hard to continue playing for fear of what was to follow. It was just astonishing how normal – and therefore real – these depictions seemed. It was an experience far different from what the majority of games provide. Even if you don’t love it yourself, you’ll hopefully agree that Gone Home is a novel, worthwhile title.

Cloning Clyde Review

Cloning Clyde Featured

Cloning Clyde Boxart

Developer: NinjaBee in Association with J. Kenworthy Games
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Platform: Xbox 360 – XBLA

The puzzle platformer genre is completely stuffed with awesome, decent, and poor titles. At least, it definitely seems to be that way now. How were things back in 2006? Although it wasn’t very long ago at all I feel like there were certainly less… Or at least it was around then that the so-called “indie game” saw itself rise from the corners of the internet. In any case, maybe when Cloning Clyde came out it was still something fairly unique.

All things considered, it does have some neat tricks. Cloning Clyde’s main feature is, well, cloning! You traverse around 2D levels and often need to reach new, higher areas, press buttons, or do various other tasks along the way. Some of these can be accomplished alone but others require you to clone yourself once or multiple times over. Cloning is accomplished at special machines so you can’t abuse it on the fly.

Cloning Clyde Featured

Levels aren’t tremendously long but they can become quite puzzling. Mainly you just need to get the Clyde you control through a level but there are more points awarded if you accomplish extra tasks. Each level has enemies to defeat, figures to collect, and you also get a bonus for saving the extraneous Clydes. There is also a feature to combine DNA between Clyde and animals/objects which yields pretty humorous results at times (as well as giving him new powers).

Cloning Clyde sure doesn’t look very good anymore, though. It’s quite a shock to find that it was actually published by Microsoft Studios considering the incredibly rough visuals. In any case, the gameplay still stands up as fairly fun – if simple. Finally, if you don’t like seeing Clyde’s bare butt in his hospital gown then you can turn on family friendly mode which gives him underwear.


Score: 2.5

2 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Experiment 12 Review

Experiment 12 Featured

Experiment 12 Boxart

Developer: 12 different developers
Publisher: Self-published
Platform: PC

If you’ve been searching for something very unusual to play then Experiment 12 is something that needs to be on your radar. It is a collection of 12 games from different independent developers. For the most part, those involved are also well known within the community such as Jasper Byrne (Lone Survivor), Richard Perrin (Kairo), and Zaratustra (Eversion).  The multitude of developers decided to each create their own game in the span of 72 hours.

The main experimentation of Experiment 12 was not simply to make a game in a short period of time since that’s what game jams do regularly. Instead, each member of the team had to craft their chapter, pass it on, and the next person would continue the story from what was currently available. Therefore, the story was being generated bit by bit by each member on the team as they finally got their shot at making a chapter.

Experiment 12 Featured

Some of the chapters are longer than others but most take 5 to 20 minutes to complete. Things start out creepy and end creepy but there are definitely changes in between. For example, Ben Powell’s segment gives you gameplay like Missile Command in reverse. A few other sections completely change the “feel” of the narrative, but it’s not a flaw.

Only a few of the chapters are difficult making it a good entry point to indie games for many if they are interested. Experiment 12 is free and worth plunking an hour or two into just to see a creatively designed game. I would be interested in seeing more multi-developer work like this come out from far less ‘recognizable’ names.


Score 3:5

3 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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See No Evil Preview

See No Evil Featured

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Edit: You can now read our official review of See No Evil!

Well here is an incredibly interesting upcoming title… See No Evil is the latest game from developer Bigfingers and it is definitely not the sort of thing gamers are going to tend to see on a regular basis. The developer has worked on “bara” games before but seems primarily a Flash-based creator. Now we are seeing a full game set to arrive on August 1st.

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