Posts Tagged ‘Kickstarter’

Two Brothers Review

Two Brothers Featured

Two Brothers Boxart

Developer: Ackk Studios
Publisher: Ackk Studios
Platform: PC – Steam

Late last year, Ackk Studios came to Kickstarter in an attempt to finish their game. Two Brothers showed a great deal of promise with a GameBoy-inspired aesthetic and not only reached its goal but more than doubled it. A little over a year later the game has finally arrived on Steam (with digital console versions arriving later on).

The story starts out like many others in gaming history. We are greeted to a couple who are explorers. Apparently married and happily in love, things are going swimmingly until the klutz of a husband steps on a trap. The wife dies, but it isn’t long before the husband joins her. Except he can’t – he wakes up in a strange alternate world. There are colors here (instead of the green/black style of GameBoy)! Apparently, it isn’t his time to die yet. He cannot rejoin with his wife and must return to living. This is just the first inkling that Two Brothers is doing something different.

It continues to slowly be ushered in during play. The game itself feels like it would be right at home on a handheld. Although it isn’t a perfect recreation of GameBoy technology, it does capture the feel. When playing in its native resolution the game is incredibly tiny (although, I think a little larger than the size of GB screens). Exploring through the top-down landscape, helping townsfolk, and fighting enemies are all handled well.

Two Brothers Screenshot

But there are little things that seem “off” in regarding this as a classic-style game. For one, there’s the story which utilizes death in an unusual fashion. In most games, when you die you get a game over screen or go back to a checkpoint. Here, you go back to this colorful and strange land above the clouds. If someone has died, you might even find them there to talk to. Another odd little touch is the health restoring hearts. These things actually look like real human beating hearts!

Two Brothers is an expansive experience that touches on The Legend of Zelda without stepping directly on its toes. This is quite impressive considering how many games do fail to be different from their subject material. That’s not to say this is a wholly new experience, but it is certainly refreshing. Give Two Brothers a look if you still wish Nintendo were making GameBoy titles instead of their fancy new 3D things.

Score: 3.5

3 1/2 out of 5 alpacas

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Tiny Barbarian DX Review

Tiny Barbarian Featured

Tiny Barbarian Logo Boxart

Developer: StarQuail Games
Publisher: StarQuail Games
Platform: PC – Direct, Steam

Did you ever play a little game by the name of Tiny Barbarian? No? Did you perhaps see a Kickstater of the same name succeed last year? If neither is the case, then don’t worry, as I was actually in the same boat. Despite trying to be well-versed in the world of crowdfunded and/or indie titles, some always manage to slip though. That’s why Tiny Barbarian DX’s sudden appearance on Steam surprised me – but I had to play it.

The game itself is a new experience over the older Tiny Barbarian. DX has better graphics as well as a fantastic new retro soundtrack. The pixellated platformer also retains a classic style of difficulty. It might not be as hard as contemporaries such as Volgarr the Viking, but still puts up a good challenge. Controls are also quite simple with one button to jump and a single attack button.

Simplicity is definitely in Tiny Barbarian DX’s favor as it makes the experience easier to get into. Here I didn’t have to worry about dull introductions or tutorials and could get straight into the action with some degree of skill. Even so, it still took me over ten attempts each to take down each of the bosses. Thankfully, everything happens so fast that death is no hindrance at all.

Tiny Barbarian DX Screenshot

Right now the only downside to playing is that there is only one chapter released. This initial chapter included multiple themed stages as well as bosses to go with them. Still, it was sad to see the journey (temporarily) end after two hours. But don’t let this dissuade you completely as the following episodes will be given to owners for free. At the very least, it’s possible to try to better your score to rank higher on the built-in leaderboards.

Tiny Barbarian DX isn’t the kind of game I normally look to play, but that’s part of why it was so much fun. As shameful as it is to admit, I don’t regularly dust off my NES or SNES and play classic beat ’em ups and platformers. And yet, without feeling that nostalgic appeal, I still enjoyed my time with Tiny Barbarian DX. It’s simplistic, quick, and well put together.  Now I’m just stuck anticipating the second, third, and forth episodes!

Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas

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Race the Sun Review

Race the Sun Featured

Race the Sun Boxart

Developer: Flippfly
Publisher: Flippfly
Platform: PC – Direct, GOG*

Although I enjoy racing games, it’s pretty safe to say that the genre is usually pretty stagnant. Instead of innovation, the focus tends to be on continually improving graphics. That’s why Race the Sun is such a refreshing experience. At its core it is a racer, but an incredibly unique one.

Race the Sun has players controlling a sleek, solar-powered craft. It has wings, which allows you to glide at times, and a lot of possible upgrades. The goal is to race as long as possible before the sun goes down. Of course, this is an inevitability, so the real fun comes in trying to prolong the light a little more each race. This is accomplished via pickups on the playing field, which can reverse the sun’s descent, speed you up, and the like.

There are no other players to race against in the main mode, although there is asynchronous co-op and leaderboards to place on.  Basically, it’s just your craft alone in a host of procedurally generated levels. Getting used to the specifics of each level is exciting, and you’ll never be able to master them, as main stages change every day. Featured user levels also switch out regularly.

Race the Sun Featured

Playing is a very simplistic but entertaining experience as you glide your craft gracefully (or not) through obstacles. At full charge, you’ll be speeding along and hoping that your skills are enough to avoid crashes. The visuals and soundtrack help make Race the Sun less stressful, as well. It looks futuristic, which appeals to me. Then there is the music which is quite soothing. With these elements combined, it is more enticing to continue coming back into a stage for one more try.

Of course, this compulsion is also aided by a checklist of tasks to complete. Do well, and new levels and items are unlocked. This manages to be one of the best and most cumbersome design choices for the game. While some tasks are easy to complete, others will remain locked on your screen a while because of their difficulty. Not completing them keeps new features hidden, and that is annoying.

While Race the Sun excels at simplicity, it is this minimalist tone that may be viewed as a “lack of content” to some. However, that’s absolutely the wrong way to approach it. Sure, there are not hundreds of levels to choose from right out of the gate. But there are infinitely many stages available since they are updated daily. There is a devoted fanbase already involved with the game, and there will only be more once this Greenlight success finally launches on Steam.

Score: 3.5

3 1/2 out of 5 alpacas

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Valdis Story: Abyssal City Review

Valdis Story: Abyssal City Featured

Valdis Story: Abyssal City Boxart

Developer: Endlessfluff Games
Publisher: Endlessfluff Games
Platform: PC – Desura, Direct, Steam

You might not be familiar with the developer Endlessfluff Games, but they are a group that deserves some definite attention. In 2011, their attractive puzzle game Legend of Fae came out (maybe you’ve played it?).  Well, they’re back with another game by the name of Valdis Story: Abyssal City. As with their last major release, it is a stunningly beautiful game. But, graphics aren’t everything, so how does the game stand otherwise?

In Valdis Story, you can choose one of two playable characters (with two more being added in later). Both are humans, although from different sides of the track, as it were. Wyatt is a guy who had been living up on “the surface” where he fought against demons and angels. As you might expect, this places Reina as an underground dweller.  For her, she still seeks out exploration and danger because being cooped up is not the life she wishes to lead. Demons, angels, and ferals are all major threats to the populace – which is why someone has to fight in order to change the lives of the citizens.

As either character, you’ll explore the world in a very Metroidvania style. This means that you’ll be exploring large maps with a variety of rooms. Rooms contain enemies, treasures, and the like. There are also sections which require players to “race” with skillful platforming to get through areas in time. This is probably harder than it should be though due to jumping controls that take some getting used to. Until then, be ready to fail a handful of times when these bits crop up. Otherwise, there’s a lot of fun exploration to be had. Beating up on enemies can get a little frustrating though if they knock you off tiny platforms.

Valdis Story: Abyssal City Screenshot

Alongside searching through room after room, you’ll also be able to level the character up after enough battles. There is a nice skill tree to work through as well as the ability to increase their general stats. The inclusion of upgrades definitely enhances Valdis Story, though it would have been workable without them. Of course, the graphics are another facet that don’t have to be good to make the game engaging – but they are absolutely fantastic. The cartoony characters are animated lovingly and the backdrops also look great. Polished is one word that comes to mind, with another being gorgeous. Graphics aren’t everything but it’s always fun to see a game with such impressive art!

It’s hard to condense my final opinion on Valdis Story: Abyssal City into a succinct statement. I think there’s a lot right about the game, but still found it challenging at points due to its platforming controls. They demand more than your average platformer and it wasn’t something I was prepared for. Struggling with them early on definitely hampered my enjoyment, but once that passed it was a worthy experience. Valdis Story: Abyssal City is most worth checking out for those who have been seeking out a new and worthwhile Metroidvania game for their collection.

Score: 3.5

3 1/2 out of 5 alpacas

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Lilly Looking Through Review

Lilly Looking Through Featured

Lilly Looking Through Boxart

Developer: Geeta Games
Publisher: Geeta Games
Platform: PC – Direct, GOG*, Mac Game Store, Steam

The past few years have been really good to adventure game fans. Thanks in part to companies like Telltale Games and Kickstarter, there seems to have been a rebirth of the genre that has long since been defined “dead” by the general gaming populace. It never died, though, and there are certainly a lot of great new games making their debut! One successful Kickstarter adventure title is Lilly Looking Through which was fully funded in 2012. Have Geeta Games managed to produce a lovely point and click adventure?

Yes! At the very start, we are introduced to Lilly. This young girl has a pair of goggles that, when worn, transform the world around her. No longer are her surroundings drab and dated but colorful and full of life! Her world becomes something straight out of a picture book or an animated fantasy film and is a joy to explore. Players navigate via a point and click interface (which includes a tool to highlight selectable objects). Some adventure games cram environments with too much interactivity, but Lilly Looking Through keeps it easy.

Lilly Looking Through Featured

Well, most of the time. There are some puzzles which caused me to employ liberal use of guess and check. Although most of the puzzles aren’t this way, the ones that are tougher can become annoying. This is mostly due to the fact that Lilly takes her sweet time traversing areas and interacting with objects. Her animations are lively and all, but after seeing them the first time it becomes more of a time waster to see them on the third or fourth loop. There’s no way to skip said animations which is the main misstep.This is a small complaint, all things considered.

Geeta Games have provided a lovingly crafted point and click game. It is fairly short (from 2-6 hours for most players) but the journey is a lot of fun. It’s easy to get wrapped up in Lilly’s goggle-aided view of the world. Her delight and discovery is definitely imparted on the player. Here’s hoping that this delightful game gains a following so that maybe we’ll see more Lilly Looking Through in the future!

Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas

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Unemployment Quest Review

Unemployment Quest Featured

Unemployment Quest Boxart

Developer: Charles DeYoe
Publisher: Charles DeYoe
Platform: PC (Desura, Direct)

This post is part of the Indie RPG Bundle review collection

Chances are there’s probably been a time in your life when you’ve found yourself struggling for work. For me, the struggle is current and not something that should be desired by anyone. At the very least I’m lucky enough to have a place to call home until luck finally strikes. So maybe it’s because of my current state but I found Unemployment Quest to be quite a neat and unique title.

You start the game as a young guy who has apparently survived college but can’t find work anywhere around town or even at the mall. Some of his friends have found work and it seems only the main character is left out. Day after day, he must return home to his parent’s house to confront a supportive but disappointed mother and outright annoyed father.

Unemployment Quest Featured

So how does this factor into a video game form? You see, the player must battle those he wishes to give a resume to, and battle for increasing confidence (and gaining money). The fights are much like a typical JRPG and the art style meshes with this. It looks much like a 16-Bit game even if it has some different thematic elements at play. Leveling up helps a lot with fights but still doesn’t seem to change the mood of prospective employers.

In a way, I appreciate the commitment to making job acquisition an impossibility for most of the game. However, because of that, it seems silly that money is so easy to come by in the game. For a while you’ll be stuck broke, but soon enough there are treasure chests that start popping up with gratuitous amounts of money. Real life doesn’t work that way although I sure wish it did! Of course, the money is needed for buying new items a la every other RPG out there.

Once you get past the few iffy points like that, Unemployment Quest is definitely worth checking out. It’s cool to see the various ways the typical JRPG world was tweaked to service a story about the incredibly relatable task of looking for a job.

Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas

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