Posts Tagged ‘indie’

Eversion Review

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Developer: Zaratustra Productions
Publisher: Zaratustra Productions
Platform: PC – Steam

Eversion is one of those games that it seemed everyone had played back a few years ago. Time and time again, it saw mentions in articles and forum posts about creepy games. I bought it sometime around then, but never ended up playing the darn thing until now.

Mechanically, Eversion is a simplistic 2D platformer with a switching mechanic. It is possible to change the landscape/features of blocks at predetermined Evert portals. Aside from opening up paths through the stage, these also make the game gradually darker and disturbing. Well, as disturbing as a cartoony 2D platformer can be.

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There’s no doubt that this bait and switch worked extremely well around the time of its initial launch. At this point, however, so many retro-styled “secret” horror games are out there that it’s much less shocking. I did get a feeling of tepid surprise, but not much else. Autoscrolling stages in particular proved far more frustrating than frightening.

I likely did myself a huge disservice by waiting so long to play Eversion. This is a game that worked in a specific time and place. Sure, it only takes about half an hour to beat (if you’re not seeking completion), but the greatest asset of the game now feels stale.


Score: 2

2 out of 5 alpacas


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Golf With Your Friends Review

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Developer: Blacklight Interactive
Publisher: Blacklight Interactive
Platform: PC – Steam

Mini golf is pretty fun in real life, but not something I typically get to play very often. Golf With Your Friends brings this simple formula to the gaming world with the right amount of seriousness (that is to say, very little at all). The point is to have fun with a decent simulation of golf alongside a heavy dose of silliness.

The game includes five courses, ranging from the initial slightly realistic one to Egypt, a haunted house, and more. Each course goes from a decent difficulty to wildly challenging with outrageous jumps and obstacles. Golf With Your Friends isn’t exactly going for realism. There’s no option to change golf clubs – all you can do is charge swings (or make the ball jump to cheat some swings).

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Golf With Your Friends, as the name implies, is a multiplayer-exclusive experience. This aspect really shines once you start customizing match options. For example, consider setting the ball to random shapes. If you thought the levels were hard, try doing them with an acorn-shaped ball.

At the time of this writing, Golf With Your Friends is on the verge of leaving Early Access at version 1.99.0. My suggestion is to buy the game now before its price increases with the full launch. It’s already entirely playable and a great time with friends.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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VOI Review

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Developer: Yunus Ayyildiz
Publisher: Yunnus Ayyildiz
Platform: PC – Steam

Puzzlers have really taken over my life as of late. It’s just really enjoyable to chill out with games featuring one specific thing that makes their puzzles stand out. In the case of VOI, it’s the concept of 1 + 1 = 0. What does that mean, exactly? It makes sense in the concept of the game.

Each stage of VOI features a small stage, a few shapes (triangles, squares), and asks you to use them to create a certain shape as shown onscreen. These shapes require you to move the pieces logically on top of and around each other to create the shape. Where the 1 + 1 bit comes in is in overlapping objects. Once two are on top of each other, they “disappear.” This is a pivotal part of solving puzzles.

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Despite grasping the concept in theory, I still found it challenging to complete some levels. On others, I let my lizard brain do the work as it appeared to magically guide me to solutions with ease. VOI is definitely better suited to folks looking for a challenge based purely on logic rather than twitch reflex or hints.

It’s because of the surprisingly tough nature of the game that I came back to it less and less while in pursuit of a completion. One smart gameplay tweak would’ve been the ability to specify which piece to move when clicking on a space with multiple overlapped pieces. As is, things get a bit muddled and you often end up having to pull everything apart and restart from there. Frustrating bits like this lessen – but don’t extinguish – the challenging appeal of VOI.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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Phrase Shift Review

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Developer: Hyper Hippo Games
Publisher: Hyper Hippo Games
Platform: PC – Steam, Mobile – Android, iOS

With so many puzzle games out in the world it often seems like there’s no way to create something new. Well, Phrase Shift does exactly that. At first, it looks like someone cut out a small segment of a word search. Each puzzle offers one vertical column and multiple horizontal columns with words intersecting it. You’re also given a clue.

Unlike a word search which has you fill in everything, the horizontal words are already set per puzzle. So your goal is actually to shift the horizontal words left or right until the letters which intersect with your vertical bar form a word which fits with the given clue. It might sound confusing, but all you need is to play a level or two to grasp the concept.

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Once you do, get ready for a ton of enjoyment playing Phrase Shift. The game includes level batches of twenty in different categories: Food, Science, Animals, etc. For the most part, I knew all the vocabulary (even if it took a bit of guessing to bring them to mind). Some sections, such as Movies, might be tough for folks who have absolutely no interest or awareness of American pop culture.

Phrase Shift is a perfect game to come to after a long day at work. It allows you to both turn off your brain as well as give it the reward of solving (mostly) simple puzzles. I’ve enjoyed my time slowly working through the sections one by one. Unlike most games, I desire to play this one to 100% completion.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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HunieCam Studio Review

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Developer: HuniePot
Publisher: HuniePot
Platform: PC – Steam

I adored HuniePop. I didn’t know much about HunieCam Studio before its release aside from the fact that it was a simulation type game featuring the girls from HuniePop (along with some new ladies). Oh, and that everyone hated the art style and heart eyes. In any case, I was excited for this sexy new title from HuniePot.

Before I delve into how HunieCam Studio plays, I should mention that there is no mature content present in the game whatsoever, despite the age gate on Steam and ban from Twitch. Aside from some slightly raunchy loading screens and outfits that you can have your girls wear, there are no erotic scenes or dialogue. It’s a bit disappointing, considering I loved the adult content that HuniePop featured, but the absence of such material doesn’t hinder HunieCam Studio.

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Anyway, on to the meat and bones of HunieCam Studio. Basically, you’re thrown into the role as manager of a “cam girl” operation and need to earn as many fans as possible within 21 days. In order to do so, you must properly manage your ladies by getting them to work, building their fashion and talent, keeping them happy, and so forth. At the same time, you must invest in upgrades to your business (such as being able to hire more girls or increasing the amount of fans you get from photo shoots) and ads in order to maximize your fan base.

HunieCam Studio almost feels like a clicker/idle game, but it only has the very basics of one. It leans more towards management simulation with a strict time limit, as you’re constantly having to keep things in mind such as where all your ladies need to be or what upgrade you need to purchase next. Due to the nature of HunieCam Studio‘s gameplay, I found myself completely absorbed during the 21 days (which takes me around two hours playing nonstop each time).

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Unfortunately, HunieCam Studio can grow stale very quickly. It’s the same content and strategies for every playthrough (aside from deviating from the usual for specific Steam achievements such as earning a bronze trophy without using accessories). There is the incentive of ultimately getting the diamond trophy and earning wardrobe tokens, which allow you to get new outfits and hairstyles for any character, but that’s pretty much it.

Regardless, HunieCam Studio is a fun little title from HuniePot that gets your money’s worth, considering the low price. Just don’t go in expecting another HuniePop.


Pink Score: 3
3 out of 5 alpacas


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Dingbots Review

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Developer: Cannibal Cat Software
Publisher: Cannibal Cat Software
Platform: PC – itch.io

The very first video game console I ever owned was an Atari 7800. Along with this came a host of excellent games such as Joust and Robotron 2084. It was thanks to these formative gaming experience that I developed a longstanding love of twin-stick shooters. That’s why Dingbots pulled me right out of a writing lull in order to play it.

Dingbots is a twin-stick shooter inspired by those classics of the genre such as Robotron 2084 and Smash TV. Unlike many modern takes on the formula, it opts to stay true to the flashy colors, incredibly fast action, and quarter-eating challenge of arcade games. Interestingly, it also takes stylistic cues from Jeff Minter’s work which was much appreciated.

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As someone who loves (but is absolutely awful at) twin-stick shooters, I was pleased to find that lives were abundant. After that, there were multiple continues to use up. With that said, the visuals caused a bit of sensory overload at times. With so much on-screen it often became challenging to tell where my dully colored vehicle actually was which led to some completely unneeded deaths.

After mostly cheesing my way through, I completed the 30 levels of Dingbots in a little over an hour. Considering the game is available on a pay what you want basis, this is a good bit of fun for those seeking a quick classically inspired shooter experience. I just wish there were even more to help really hook players in for the long run.


 

Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


 

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MISSING: An Interactive Thriller – Episode One Review

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Developer: Zandel Media
Publisher: Zandel Media
Platform: PC – Steam

MISSING: An Interactive Thriller – Episode One is the first in (hopefully) a series of point and click “escape the room”-style games. As you can probably tell from the images, it also happens to be chock full of full motion video (FMV). I don’t know what exactly spurred this sudden FMV resurgence, but I’m definitely into it.

In any case, it starts you out right in the thick of things as you’re presented with a dude chained up in a room. Without getting much more context than that, we know what to do: Get those cuffs off! This is just the first of a dozen or so puzzles that you’ll need to solve in order to get out of this incredibly strange situation.

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Puzzles are incredibly simple for the most part, with at least one that left me frustrated. Mostly, that was due to my own overthinking of the darn thing, though. The story is a bit disturbing in what it implies, the acting is fairly good, and the scenes are shot well. The biggest issue is that it only took me about half an hour to complete it.

I’m hoping that the relative brevity of MISSING: An Interactive Thriller – Episode One will mean new episodes release frequently. However, it could be quite a while before we can check back in. In any case, the inaugural episode was a neat little game and I look forward to checking out later episodes as they release.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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POP: Pop Methodology One Review

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Developer: Rob Lach Games
Publisher: Rob Lach Games
Platform: PC – Steam

You know, I really had no idea what to expect when launching POP: Methodology Experiment One for the first time. The very first screen, which warned “THIS GAME MAY KILL YOU” revealed this was going to be quite the experience. I’m not sure whether that “experience” is one many will enjoy, though.

POP: Methodology Experiment One is comprised of a small handful of gameplay vignettes. Each explores a different game concept (racing, arcade shooting, walking, etc) and asks you to simply manipulate the screen for a few minutes. Once the time is up, you’re free to move onto the next section. It only takes about fifteen to twenty minutes to exhaust each section.

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Visually, this game is a standout. The pixel art style is regularly distorted in dizzying ways. Seriously, I had a headache by the end. Despite the real physical pain POP: Methodology Experiment One caused me, I still appreciated the colorful, trippy aesthetic. The same is true of the music, except to a greater degree since I dug it a lot and was not left feeling ill by listening to it.

The issue is that there is so little to the game that even the low cost of $3.99 starts to look like a bit too much. There’s some sort of thematic touches going on throughout, but they failed to hit the mark. Finally, the video mixtape style utilized to string each game together felt completely out of sync with the rest of POP: Methodology Experiment One. It’s not a bad experiment, but as a game people will actually want to play through… well, not so much.


Score: 2

2 out of 5 alpacas


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Armikrog Review

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Developer: Pencil Test Studios
Publisher: Versus Evil
Platform: PC – Steam, GOG, Direct2Drive, Green Man Gaming, Nuuvem, Wii U

The Neverhood is a very important game to me. It was one of the first games that I ever played. It was a game that my dad and I played together and beat together. The Neverhood certainly has its fair share of problems and might not be the best game in the world, but it’s just such an interesting game that I can forgive those issues.

When Armikrog was announced, I was on cloud nine. A modern-day spiritual successor to one of my favorite childhood games? Sign me up. My dad and I eagerly pledged a good amount of dough to Armikrog‘s Kickstarter campaign and patiently waited for the day it would finally release. It was delayed quite a few times, but that was okay, because that would help make it a better game. Right?

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Unfortunately, that isn’t the case at all. I dove straight into Armikrog expecting a similarly wonderful and strange experience as I had with The Neverhood. Instead, all I got was disappointment.

Immediately upon starting Armikrog, I was greeted with what is supposed to be a whacky, upbeat intro. Which it is, aside from the fact that the audio sounds like it was recorded in a closet with tin cans. I should have taken that as a sign of the awfulness that was to come, but I was blinded by excitement and continued on to play the game.

As I progressed through Armikrog, I began to notice more and more problems. Clicking on objects didn’t register half the time. The music liked to disappear every so often. Subtitles didn’t match what was being said and usually didn’t even pop up at the correct moment. Some puzzles were completely nonsensical and expected you to magically know things that weren’t previously made apparent. Not to mention there were bugs and glitches abound (there have been a few patches since I initially played and finished Armikrog; who knows how well they fix things, though).

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And those are just the gameplay and technical parts of Armikrog. While the graphics and music were fantastic (what music would actually play when it didn’t stop for no reason, anyway), the story, writing, and characters were barely there. I was hopeful considering the hilarious introduction with Tommynaut and Beak-Beak (our two heroes). However, what you see in the beginning is pretty much the most interaction you’ll see between the two throughout the entire game.

As for the story, there is actually a very interesting premise set up during an early part of Armikrog that you are able to read on a literal wall of text (if you played The Neverhood, it is reminiscent of the infamous Hall of Records). It’s probably the most enjoyable part of the game and got me pumped to see how it was going to play out. But, as you might have guessed, not too much happens after that and the ending is extremely anticlimactic and rushed. There’s also a villain, but he may as well not have even been included in Armikrog as he barely does anything.

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I could go on and on about my heart has been ripped into tiny pieces because of how very wrong Armikrog has turned out. I almost want to pretend that it doesn’t exist at all. Sure, you could say I set my expectations way too high or that patches have since fixed most of the problems (which doesn’t excuse the many delays before release or the lackluster story and characters). The fact of the matter is that Armikrog is incredibly disappointing and should be avoided if it all possible.


Pink Score: 1
1 out of 5 alpacas


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HuniePop Review

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Developer: HuniePot
Publisher: HuniePot
Platform: PC – MangaGamer*, Steam

I never would have thought that HuniePop was going to be a game that I’d be playing for over 11 hours until 2 in the morning. At a glance, it looks like your typical mediocre anime dating sim. There are plenty of those floating around, so why bother with HuniePop?

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