Posts Tagged ‘Greenlight’

Eldritch Review

Eldritch Featured

Eldritch Boxart

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

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

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

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

Eldritch Screenshot

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

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

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

Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas

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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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The Stanley Parable Review

The Stanley Parable Featured

The Stanley Parable Boxart

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

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

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

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

The Stanley Parable Featured

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

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

Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas

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Northmark: Hour of the Wolf Review

Northmark: Hour of the Wolf Featured

Northmark: Hour of the Wolf Boxart

Developer: Rake in Grass
Publisher: Rake in Grass
Platform: Mobile – iOS PC – Big Fish GamesDirect, Steam

This post is part of the Indie RPG Bundle review collection

Strategy RPGs are pretty popular but card-based counterparts are a bit rarer to come across. Still, when there are already such excellent card games out there such as Magic the Gathering it can be really hard to create something different. Northmark: Hour of the Wolf accomplishes making a sound card-based title without hanging onto other card games’ coattails.

The game begins with an attempted assassination. The kingdom of Northmark is in a panic because of it and you’re the one selected to basically carry out all their duties. Travelling from town to town you will come across helpful people, shops, and tons of opponents standing in your way. The only way to get past them is via fighting, of course.

Fights are when the game shifts into its card form. Both players select their warriors (cards themselves) and can then apply upgrades to them, as well as how they should be armed for attacks. You can tweak the fighters via cards which upgrade their defense, attack, and a number of other things. Weapon cards are used to actually fight the opposing cards, and all relevant information is weighed in order to see what attacks are successful and how much damage they deal.

Northmark: Hour of the Wolf Featured

It’s a surprisingly complex system and one that isn’t described very well by the in-game tutorial. Still, it’s not too hard to get a feel for it after a handful of battles. Between story mission, you can even jump into some prize fights to help level up your character and get more money. Said money can be used to pick up more cards for your deck.

Northmark: Hour of the Wolf also has some excellent presentation. The art looks great from the character models to world map view. Then there are the card designs themselves which look like they could be from a tangible product. Honestly, it’s surprising just how polished it is. The writing is a bit of a let down in comparison, although it has some nice snark about it.

Fans of card games will probably enjoy this interesting RPG-ized title. On the other side of things, those without a familiarity of card games in general should probably proceed with caution.

Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas

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Ten Games Worth Buying on Steam’s Greenlight Anniversary Sale

Greenlight Anniversary Sale

Greenlight Anniversary Sale

Steam Greenlight is an initiative by Valve to try to get more independently produced games through to the official marketplace. It’s such a big deal because, while indie developers can sell games themselves, it is on Steam where they will tend to make the most money (except in very rare circumstances). Although Greenlight is far from perfect, it has gotten a handful of really cool games well-deserved attention.

Greenlight’s first anniversary has come and now Valve has selected fifty Greenlight successes for a sale. But what games should you actually check out? If you’re unsure, take a look at the list of our recommendations below!

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