Posts Tagged ‘GamersGate’

Airline Tycoon Deluxe Review

Airline Tycoon Deluxe Feature

Airline Tycoon Deluxe Boxart

Developer: Spellbound AG
Publisher: Black Forest Games
Platform: Mobile – Android, iOS PC – Desura, GamersGate, GOG*, Steam

Airline Tycoon originally launched in 1998, and despite my own simulator addiction at the time, I was totally unaware of its existence. Instead, my time was split between DinoPark Tycoon and Sim City 2000. Apparently, I was years delayed from the current market. In any case, the ultimate version of Airline Tycoon Deluxe landed in 2003 – again, totally missing me. It appears not having access to the game in my youth has changed perceptions quite a bit.

When looking over fan comments when this title launched on GOG you see tons of excitement over this being the best simulation game ever! I don’t think it’s the best ever, but it is definitely charming and well thought out. You begin as an owner of an airline and, despite CEO status, must basically do all the grunt work as well. Hire staff, chart flight plans, and work with or against the other airline owners are just some of the tasks you’ll need to take care of.

Airline Tycoon Deluxe Feature

And, honestly, it’s overwhelming. Time and time again I found myself wandering the terminal in confusion… but some of that was my own fault. If you do take the time to handle every mission that comes your way first, you’ll be taught some of the basics. In any case, once you do finally get a handle on Airline Tycoon Deluxe it does make more sense – even though there’s still a ton of systems to manage.

I wish I had played Airline Tycoon Deluxe (or the original version) in my youth because it looks exactly like the kind of tycoon simulation that was so awesome at the time. The graphics are wonderful, the music is midi-tastic, and there’s so much room to take on the task of airline owner exactly as you wish. Just, at this point in my life, it seems that there’s a lot of preamble and studying necessary to get to the good parts.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


Review code provided
About our rating system – *Affiliate link

Blackbay Asylum Review

Blackbay Asylum Featured

Blackbay Asylum Logo

Developer: TAD Productions AB
Publisher: KISS ltd
Platform: PC – GamersGate, Steam

I play a lot of games. Many of them are indie, and some are certainly odd. With that said, I don’t think any other game has been this weird while still managing to grip me this year. Blackbay Asylum defies expectations, messes with convention, all while being a point and click adventure game. Well, let’s dive right in and try to define this strange creation.

Blackbay Asylum focuses on a murderer named Doug. He arrives at Blackbay Asylum after finally being caught. However, once he arrives everything goes absolutely wrong. This game has very little to do with the whole “inmates running the asylum” trope. Instead, this place becomes an apparent portal to hell. Lovely!

Despite all the gore, death, and creepiness around him, Doug feels perfectly at home. He makes jokey quips at pretty much anything early on. Jokes pummel the player so much that at least a few stick. As you explore the asylum you engage in a multitude of puzzles. Many are easy, a few are complex, and sometimes they feel annoying. For the most part they seemed fair.

Blackbay Asylum Featured

The dressing of Blackbay Asylum is all very odd, but one design change completely surprised me. For the first few chapters the game is presented from a top down perspective. But after that, it shifts back and forth between that and first person perspective. Why? I’m honestly not sure! In first person you’re given an up close look at puzzles that otherwise wouldn’t be possible with a top down view. Neither view feels like a last-minute decision, either.

Graphically, the game definitely feels behind the times. This is true of the audio often as well as some jokes. Still, the incredible oddness of everything kept me playing. I just had to see where the story went and if anything else unexpected would occur (as continued to be the case). Blackbay Asylum is definitely not for everyone, and probably asking too much at $20, but it certainly hooked me.


Score: 3.5

3 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


Review code provided
About our rating system

Gold Rush! Classic Review

Gold Rush! Featured

Gold Rush! Boxart

Developer: Doug MacNeill, Ken MacNeill
Publisher: Sierra, KISS ltd
Platform: PC – Direct, DOS, GamersGate, Green Man GamingSteam

After having recently whet my appetite with 1849, the California Gold Rush has become a topic I’ve found myself more interested in. Surprisingly, there aren’t a ton of games covering the time period. Gold Rush!, originally developed in 1988, is set right before the gold rush in 1848. Instead of being all about panning for gold, the game is more of a travelogue about what it took to actually make your way to California.

This is certainly an interesting approach, and one that many might not expect. You begin the game with a steady job at the bank, a house, and no family to speak of. 11 years ago your brother left town and you haven’t heard from him since – until today. As such, you decide to head out to find him. Of course, rumors have also been spreading about gold in California which means many other people have decided to head West too.

Gold Rush! focuses primarily on the journey from New York to California. Players choose from one of three routes to take: Cape Horn, Panama, or by land. Each route offers a completely different experience and puzzles to solve. Each route also provides copious information about the journey. Sometimes text glosses over harsh realities of the time while at other moments it faces them head on. It was certainly interesting to experience each journey, to say the least.

Gold Rush! Featured

Some modern gamers like to make fun of adventure games with text parsers. In this game, all you ever really have to do is combine an action and object such as “give money” or “take rope” so it’s not bad at all. The graphics are about what you would expect from late 80s tech and the audio is nearly nonexistent (and grating when it chimes in). Still, the journey is quite cool! It’s only once you finally reach California that the puzzles become more challenging, and at times annoying. This weird shift in difficulty was definitely unexpected.

When you consider the time in which it was made, Gold Rush! is a very effective adventure game. It teaches players a bit about the California Gold Rush and offers multiple ways to experience that trip. The Steam release even includes design documents for the game, which are an unexpected treat. Pick up Gold Rush! and see if you could survive the trek to California.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


Review code provided
About our rating system

Ampu-Tea Review

Ampu-Tea Featured

Ampu-Tea Boxart

Developer: ProjectorGames
Publisher: KISS ltd
Platform: PC – Desura, GamersGateGreen Man Gaming, IndieCity, Shiny Loot, Steam

It’s not like I keep this a secret, but I loved Surgeon Simulator 2013. Sure, the whole concept was fairly creepy but for some reason games where you have too precise control over things entertain me. That’s the main reason I checked out Ampu-Tea. The developers acknowledge their inspirations and have tweaked them into an odd tea-making sim.

Players control a robot arm. They can bend the fingers and thumb (although pinky and ring finger are activated by the same button). Beyond gripping with fingers, there’s also the option to angle the wrist in different orientations, and move up, down, left, and right. The controls are fairly simplistic and feel a lot more manageable than Surgeon Simulator 2013.

Ampu-Tea Featured

Upon starting the game there are five or so tasks (less if you’re playing on easy) related to making tea. These can involve adding a tea bag, sugar cube(s), hot water, and milk. Once all that’s taken care of you place the cup on a serving plate. Of course, getting any of this accomplished is difficult. However, after playing for only 20 minutes I was able to finagle my way to victory. Or, I would, if Ampu-Tea ever acknowledged my actions.

The biggest issue with the game is it appears in need of a few patches. For example, when given the task to add a single cube of sugar it fails to recognize when I do it in-game. An achievement popped up, but nothing else. Of course, after adding a few more sugar cubes the game failed me for adding too many. This, paired with a very short game once you figure it out, means that Ampu-Tea is not nearly as successful at the whole wacky hand control formula as its inspiration.


Score: 1.5

1 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


About our rating system

RefleX Review

RefleX Featured

RefleX Boxart

Developer: SITER SKAIN
Publisher: Nyu Media
Platform: Desura, GamersGate, Nyu Media, Rice Digital, Steam

Digital distribution is quickly changing the landscape of games available to players. In the days when arcades still existed, it was likely most had tried at least one shoot ’em up there. Afterwards, the genre trended toward niche with releases that mostly just fans were aware of. Nyu Media, known for their doujin releases, recently brought RefleX to a western audience.

Interestingly, RefleX is the second game in The Tale of ALLTYNEX trilogy by independent developer SITER SKAIN. Yet, it is the first released to Steam. The game includes eight stages complete with large bosses and tons of regular enemies. Of course, this is what is par for the course with shooters.

RefleX Featured

What is it that makes the game stand out against countless others? The most interesting feature is a reflect system. Using a shield during battle protects your ship but also reflects enemy bullets. Where bullets bounce back is dependent on the angle they struck your shield to begin with. So, in theory, these reflected bullets are a great way to weaken enemies. In play I found this hard to control simply because there’s so much going on.

Bullet hell shooters are famous for having tons of visual clutter thanks to ridiculous bullet patterns and enemies. With so much going on, using the reflective shield to its best is beyond my reach (at least right now). At least RefleX grants failing players extra continues! There’s a lot good about the game, but it seems opposed to novices, despite appealing to them with more lives. RefleX is best played by fans of the genre or those who really, really want to play a solid shooter regardless of difficulty.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


Review code provided
About our rating system

Moebius: Empire Rising Review

Moebius: Empire Rising Featured

Moebius Logo

Developer: Phoenix Online Studios
Publisher: Phoenix Online Publishing
Platform: PC – DirectGamersGate, GOG*, Steam

In 2012, beloved game designer Jane Jensen started a Kickstarter campaign for her own development studio named Pinkerton Road. Money was raised for Moebius and Mystery Game X (which was later revealed as a Gabriel Knight remake). I backed the project because of my longstanding love for her work and waited impatiently. We’re finally at that point. Moebius: Empire Rising has launched and it does not disappoint.

Malachi Rector is an antiques dealer with more than just a keen eye for detail. For reasons unknown, he has incredible powers of deduction that allow him to “see” things not apparent to normal people. Because of his talent, his antiques business is quite successful, but there’s not much else to his life. This changes once Malachi gets wrapped up in a very unusual murder and subsequent investigation.

Moebius Empire Rising Screenshot 1

A mysterious government agency takes him in and asks him to comply with very strange requests. They want to use his power to match living people with the historical figures their biographies most mirror. Both Malachi and the player are initially in the dark, but agree to the request. Even if you’re not a history buff you’ll leave Moebius with a great deal of new information thanks to an interesting puzzle system.

Most of the game plays as a standard point and click adventure. From a third person perspective you click on objects to look and interact with them. Inventory is kept in check to keep it from getting unwieldy, and there’s always the option to look at hints if you get stuck. Where Moebius diverges from the crowd is in asking you to identify characters as people from the past. After gathering clues about their lives, you sort through a list of pre-determined historical names to see which is the best match. In doing so, you get a huge dose of information about these people and their contributions to society, whether positive or negative. It’s not all based in “literal” history either as names like Medea make an appearance.

Moebius Empire Rising Screenshot 2

One of the most exciting aspects of Gabriel Knight for me was always the amount of history intertwined in the storyline. Moebius attempts the same goals although I feel it doesn’t do so with quite as much tact. Yes, the storyline revolves around it, but you are still “taught” a lot directly through the identification puzzles.

As has always been the case, any game involving Jane Jensen has stunning backdrops. In this specific instance, areas appear hand drawn and are expertly designed. Colors are bright or dulled as need be and bring locations to life. Unfortunately, the character models do betray their gorgeous setting somewhat. Mostly, that’s thanks to the incredibly off animations on display. Malachi shambles weirdly around, stopping and going with no regard for actual human movement. Eventually you get over it and stop noticing (at least I did) but it was an unfortunate note to start off on.

Moebius Empire Rising Screenshot 3

All of that is fine and good, but what of the story? Moebius was anticipated for a reason and it should stand proudly as another great tale by Jane Jensen. Malachi has a dry wit that endears us to him and the other characters have wonderfully distinct personalities as well. The way the story intertwines between everyone is intriguing and urged me to continue playing despite sleep, work, and other tasks. On the rare occasion I got stuck in a puzzle, it would frustrate me primarily because that meant I couldn’t yet get to the next part of the story.

Adventure fans who have been waiting for this game should feel secure in purchasing it immediately. Moebius offers an immensely engaging story, great characters, and a neat mechanic. There are points where it stumbles but they can mostly be forgiven. It’s a shame the package couldn’t be a bit more polished, but even then Moebius: Empire Rising still shines through as a must-have title.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


Review code provided
About our rating system – *Affiliate Link

Gigantic Army Review

Gigantic Army Featured

Gigantic Army Boxart

Developer: Astro Port
Publisher: Nyu Media
Platform: PC – Direct, Desura, GamersGate, Rice Digital, Steam

If mechs are your thing then Gigantic Army is probably already on your radar. The doujin title brings back memories of classic SNES and Genesis games, although it isn’t attempting to recreate any of those titles exactly. What Gigantic Army does best is give more realistic control of a huge robot on a 2D battlefield.

Your machine is massive and it feels the part. Each step is slow and heavy, clunking as you progress forward. This isn’t a bad thing in the least, although you might need to get used to the feel of controlling such a hefty robot. Enemies blast you continuously but most shots feel like nothing against your machine’s powerful armor. In fact, often times you can simply trod up to a weak little enemy and destroy it point blank. It’s pretty cool how powerful the game allows you to be!

Does that mean Gigantic Army is a super easy game? Not at all. Levels get progressively tougher, although if you need a better challenge you can always switch difficulty. If anything, it seems your toughest enemy is the clock. It counts down as soon as you start the stage – impatiently waiting for the player to finish. With that said, you can make the game easier (or harder) on yourself by the right selection of main and sub weapon as well. They aren’t all balanced in power levels meaning ones like the grenades are super powerful while others are far less so.

Gigantic Army Featured

The graphics paint a pretty dismal picture for the state of this war-torn world. Everything is painted in hues of brown and orange, with bullets being the most brightly-colored objects around. Enemy designs aren’t particularly inspired although bosses are still pretty neat and huge. Unlike most action shooters, this one doesn’t have a tremendously inspiring soundtrack either, which is a definite shame.

Still, Gigantic Army is a ton of fun to play. It feels great to be in control of such a powerful mech as it sprays enemies with bullets, boosts up to higher ground, and defends against weakling attacks. The ponderous movement definitely enhances the concept that you are in control the minute you enter a stage. Kicking robot butt is always entertaining and if you love that then Gigantic Army is a game you should play.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


Review code provided
About our rating system

Zigfrak Review

Zigfrak Featured

Zigfrak Boxart

Developer: Entheogen Studios LLC
Publisher: Entheogen Studios LLC
Platform: PC – Desura, Fire Flower Games, GamersGate, Indie City, IndieGameStand, Shiny Loot, Steam

Outer space has been the backdrop for many, many games over the years. The 4x genre thrives there and many other games attempt to utilize the immense landscape to their benefit. Most of these titles end up feeling quite dry, though. Zigfrak has a very different tone and ends up being just the kind of space-based action RPG I was looking for.

Zigfrak begins with you being a new pilot on the side of the humans. As you play through missions, your rank increases and your ship gets decked out with increasingly cool wares. There is a story progressing about aliens and whatnot, but it doesn’t feel tremendously important. This is because the gameplay completely overshadows anything else with how entertaining it is.

Commanding your spaceship in Zigfrak is pretty easy. By using either the keyboard and mouse, or just mouse, you can zip around with little issue. Collecting space junk, cloaking, and other features are also simple to pull off. Many missions result in unexpected dogfights which is where the game really shines. With enemies on you from all angles, it quickly becomes a frantic test to see if you can stand against all of them. The music becomes fast-paced in response and it’s extremely cool to see enemy ships explode in ridiculous fashion.

Zigfrak Featured

Even though I wasn’t enamored with the story, the writing is very well done. Instead of trying to be serious, there is a lot of humor involved. I couldn’t help but laugh at a few missions due to their phrasing. When it seems that a lot of space games lately focus on dull specifics, Zigfrak stands out as simpler to pick up and play. The only issues I had were sometimes being confused by how to complete a mission task. Although the game is very good at writing out the steps, some of them came across as unclear to me.

Overall, I don’t know the last time I had so much fun with an action RPG set in the vast expanses of space. I love that Zigfrak doesn’t take itself too seriously and loads players up with exciting firefights, loot, and amusing mission prompts. If you’d like to test pilot the game first, you can download the demo off the official website.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


Review code provided
About our rating system

Eryi’s Action Review

Eryi's Action Featured

Eryi's Action Boxart

Developer: Xtal Sword
Publisher: Nyu Media
Platform: PC – Desura, Direct, GamersGate, Playism, Steam

I rarely get angry at video games. When people talk about wanting to throw their controllers across the room I just look on in abject terror. What about a video game could make you so mad that you want to damage $40+ peripherals? Last year I played Eryi’s Action for the first time and found it ridiculous, but purposefully so. Now that I’m revisiting it on the Steam launch, my feelings have changed slightly. My rage was stoked, but not so much to ignore the inherent funniness of the experience.

Eryi’s Action looks like a cute little platformer. The world is cartoony and brightly colored. Lead character Eryi seems quite pleased with her adventure, swaying her arms to and fro for an idle stance. Music plays like some sort of cheesy Super Mario Bros. ripoff that is just catchy enough to get stuck in your head. Then you step forward and – conk – a pan falls from the sky and KO’s Eryi. Wait, what?

Oh, so it’s that kind of game. This incredibly cruel tricking of the player begins and never lets up. Whenever anything looks safe you quickly realize it isn’t. Moments like this are common: Hey, look at that easy jump over a ledge! Suddenly a block appeared that made me fall right down into the pit?! Memorization of trap patterns is required. Levels aren’t that long, at least, but that didn’t stop me from retrying puzzles zillions of times over.

Eryi's Action Featured

There was a part early on that stumped me. I racked up 50 deaths in attempts and then realized something. For some reason, my Xbox 360 controller was not allowing Eryi to run at full speed. She was instead running at a slower pace, making a certain jump impossible. I had in fact been making this fiendish game even harder (as it turns out, running requires pressing a button instead of analog stick control)! From there, I lovingly admired Eryi’s “new” speed by using a keyboard. Of course, this was a short-lived moment as the obstacle suddenly leapt up and crashed down onto her head. Normally, my screaming is internal, but this time I let out a real sound – a laugh.

Had I gone insane? No, it was the result of Eryi’s Action being purposefully evil that was so amusing. My frustration would always get close to boiling over but then subside thanks to unexpected traps. Sometimes, the traps are absolutely hilarious. For example, after experiencing normal enemies until this point, the second chapter features a chicken that will actively jump up and carry you skyward if you try to stomp them. Why? Because it’s a game about messing with expectations!

If you think you can handle rigorous and continual game-based punishment then, by all means, pick up a copy. Those who would rather play a “fair” difficult platformer have a wealth of other choices. Eryi’s Action is not fair. It is a monstrous exercise in player-focused cruelty and I dig it.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


Review code provided
About our rating system

Savant – Ascent Review

Savant - Ascent Featured

Savant - Ascent Boxart

Developer: D-Pad Studio
Publisher: D-Pad Studio
Platform: Mobile – Android, iOS PC – Direct, GamersGate, Steam

Usually, when musical artists venture into the world of video games the results are, well, not so great. There are such “classics” as the Make My Video series on Sega CD featuring INXS, Kriss Kross, and Marky Mark. Then there are more modern but equally unusual titles such as 50 Cent’s shooters. Those who recognize SAVANT as a musician might fear the same fate for Savant – Ascent. Thankfully, his input didn’t create some ego-stroking game-based catastrophe.

Savant – Ascent is a 2D shooter with a bit of a twin stick vibe even though that’s not really the case. On each stage you control Savant and must shoot up enemies that come at him from all angles. However, stages are quite small. Instead of running around you simply dodge left, right, or jump. Shooting is controlled via mouse or a controller’s analog stick. Sometimes, baddies will explode and leave a CD piece behind. Collecting and completing the four CDs grants Savant upgrades.

Upgrades are incredibly useful and basically necessary to beat the game. Therefore, you’ll probably spend a lot of the first stage trying to collect them. Savant – Ascent is pretty fast paced so it won’t take long. The most useful upgrades for me were the first and third, as they allowed for an extra powerful shot and markers for incoming enemies respectively. One negative thing is that it can be hard to notice the enemy notifications and sometimes there are none if the game thinks you already see the approaching attack.

Savant - Ascent Featured

So basically, this is quite a tough experience. Even after obtaining all upgrades there’s still a degree of skill (or just plain persistence) required to win. But doing so doesn’t take very long at all. There are three quite cool stages and a cool two-part boss fight… And that’s all. Completing the story mode took under an hour and that’s coming from someone who is not particularly skillful with most games. Yes, there is a time trial and endless mode, and Savant – Ascent is based on scoring, but it’s still quite short. When you factor in the price – $1.99 – it seems far more sensible.

Although the game has fully launched on PC there are some issues that need addressing. For one, having an Xbox 360 controller plugged in at launch causes issues with keyboard and mouse control. All you have to do is unplug it if you wish to use them, but the simple error is unfortunate. There was also a time when I received a “fatal error” upon barely starting a level and had to quit the game entirely. Blemishes like these are far from game-breaking but will definitely turn some people from it before even playing.

Interestingly, D-Pad Studios have committed to providing more stages and music in the future at no extra cost. If this turns out to be true then it’ll be a great way to enhance the value. As it stands, the current music is a lot of fun even if you’re not a SAVANT fan. Similarly, the visuals are crisp although I have to wonder if the final boss design was wise. As it stands, Savant – Ascent is a brief, but entertaining little game. If it can be spruced up to fix a couple of errors and see new content then it will definitely be worth returning to.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


Review code provided
About our rating system