Posts Tagged ‘Steam’

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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Pongo Review

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Developer: Drixy Games
Publisher: Black Shell Media
Platform: PC – Steam

There are practically zillions of platformers out in the world. However, very few have ever managed to scratch that same vertically-based itch that Jumping Flash brought into my life. I hoped Pongo might prove a solution that didn’t require pulling out a PlayStation console.

Well, Pongo is a bit similar in that you spend a lot of time jumping very high. This is due to the fact that you traipse around the stage with a pogo stick in first person. But that’s really where the charm ends, as gameplay itself is incredibly dull — and even becomes annoying due to iffy controls. There were a fair amount of times my jumps landed me on the very edge of a platform but unable to actually reach the flat surface. Instead, my only course of action was to fall off and try again.

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When jumping betwixt platforms isn’t annoying, it’s actually a fairly simple experience. Enemies hang about stages but with a keen eye you can basically snipe most of them before they even get a chance to harm you. It’s only with bosses that you have to actually put your skills to the test. The goal? Jump across the stage until you reach the end gate and move onto one of the other 49 stages.

Then there’s the whole fact that (aside from your pogo stick) Pongo feels like a massive Lovely Planet ripoff. The graphics aren’t nearly as pleasant, though, looking more like something that I would draw before getting a glaring filter/effect placed over them. It’s definitely not attractive or stylish in my eyes. It seems a true “spiritual successor” to Jumping Flash 1 and 2 remains just a dream…


Score: 1

1 out of 5 alpacas


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Spectra Review

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Developer: Gateway Interactive
Publisher: Mastertronic
Platform: PC – Steam, Xbox One

Back in 2014, I came across a game by the name of Goscurry. It was a racing-style arcade game in which players navigated a single spaceship along a never-ending road suspended in space. It was incredibly challenging, but a ton of fun. This year, I discovered Spectra and couldn’t help but become intrigued because of the game’s similar nature.

In Spectra, you control a spaceship along a long, winding galactic highway. You collect blocks, dodge obstacles, and (hopefully) make it through to the end with a high score. The gameplay is simple enough as most of the time you’re only weaving left or right to stay safe on the road. Things get more challenging as you progress through each of the ten stages, but not as much as you might expect.

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This is the main contrast between Goscurry and Spectra: Difficulty. You failed in Goscurry by making one wrong move. Here, you’re given a lot more freedom. Crash into a barrier? You’ll still likely be fine as long as you don’t panic. I even came across a glitch where the ship would warp back up from underneath the road to inadvertently save your run. Despite being an easier game overall, it still offers a lot of challenge and two difficulty settings to keep players on their toes.

Chances are I would have enjoyed Spectra much more if I had not previously played Goscurry. The graphics are nice and vector-like, but less artful than I would have hoped. Similarly, the music by Chipzel is good, but apparently chiptunes of this sort are not to my personal taste. I’m the odd man out! Of course, Spectra still provides a nice way to pass the time with quick play sessions and arcade sensibilities.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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Early Access Preview: Poly Bridge

Totally not something I created

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Here’s a random tidbit about me: I have a weird affinity for bridge building games. No, that does not mean I’m good at the either. With this interest in mind, it just makes sense that Poly Bridge jumped onto my radar and never left. On one hand, it’s just another bridge game, but on the other it brings some new aspects to the table.

So far, you can go through a variety of bridge building puzzle missions. Each level offers specific items for use and may even limit how many you have access to. Although each stage has a specific budget, you can totally go over it if you need to. The goal is basically always the same – create a bridge that doesn’t crumble under the weight of vehicles!

Totally not something I created

Totally not something I created.

Things quickly increase in difficulty for folks who don’t have the basic knowledge of bridge construction or are just awful at it (such as myself). You’ve got to create anchor points, or at least something to keep bridges upright. Utilizing triangular construction techniques to reinforce strength is necessary quite often as well.

Right now, the greatest unique aspect of Poly Bridge is its ability to export your triumphs and failures as animated GIFs. They’ll even post directly to Twitter if you want. Sharing my awful bridges with the world is a dream! There’s also a sandbox mode to create new puzzles which is awesome if you have the skills for that.

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Oops.

With all that said, this is an Early Access product for good reason. Much of it simply doesn’t work yet. There’s no current Steam Workshop support, sometimes the sandbox mode freaks out, and it doesn’t seem to save either. Even the tutorial breaks if you do anything a little unexpected. Still, Poly Bridge is already an enjoyable, playable product. I just hope to see the issues ironed out in order to begin sampling user-generated puzzles!

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Airline Tycoon Deluxe Review

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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.

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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


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Regency Solitaire Review

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Developer: Grey Alien Games
Publisher: Grey Alien Games
Platform: PC – Direct, Steam

Solitaire is one of those games which I can’t help but adore. Ever since its inclusion on Windows computers I’ve played it every so often. However, my favorite renditions of solitaire are games which shake up the formula such as Faerie Solitaire and now Regency Solitaire.

In this title, we’re thrown back in time to 19th century England and placed into the shoes of Bella. Despite being part of a wealthy family, her brother has just squandered away their riches, leaving Bella to marry a despicable fellow aptly named Mr. Bleakly. Instead of sitting idly by for men to decide her fate, Bella works to reclaim the family fortune and also select her own partner.

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We help her out in this quest by taking on round after round of solitaire. You don’t need to match card suits, just select cards one above or below your active card. The card layout is unique, more akin to what you see in western mahjong games where multiple cards may need to be uncovered to reveal the bottom one first. You’ve also got a selection of power ups, upgrades, and tasks to complete each chapter.

The best aspect of Regency Solitaire, aside from the lovely visual presentation, is that it doesn’t demand perfection. Fail your mission objectives? You can still continue! My biggest complaint is a current glitch which effectively freezes the game if you press space (which draws the next card) while in a combo. Beyond that, the release is quite fun and offers around 8 hours of gameplay on normal. And yes, you can bump it up to hard for a serious challenge.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Life is Strange Episode 3 – Chaos Theory Review

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Developer: DONTNOD Entertainment
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: PC – Steam PSN – PS3, PS4 Xbox 360, Xbox One

I’ll admit, despite the dramatic flourishes of Life is Strange Episode 2, the episode felt pretty meandering. This phenomenon appears in many episodic properties, though. Things picked up a tad in time for Episode 3 – Chaos Theory. Throughout the approximately two-hour playtime I found myself hooked, even if it wasn’t always for the best reasons.

Information related to Kate, Rachel, and the Vortex Club was left relatively untouched, even after what just occurred in the previous episode. And for reasons unknown, these interpersonal, ham-fisted issues are still more pressing than the impending destruction of Arcadia Bay. With that said, I enjoyed getting caught up in Max and Chloe’s antics even as they increase in severity.

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And (spoilers) I’ll admit to advocating very hard for a potential relationship between them. The way Episode 2 ended scared me about who Max’s potential love interest could end up being, as it seems completely wrong with the assessment I’ve made of the characters thus far (headcanon, haha). In any case, the real star of the episode is Chloe. We see more about her life and history which explains her current devil may care attitude. Then, in the final few seconds of the episode, we’re given a huge “shock” and then credits roll. Although the reveal felt like a cheap trick, it did effectively necessitate my playing of the upcoming episode.

I did not appreciate the utter game-y ness at times. Searching for a computer password and an appropriate place to hide keys had me trying every wrong option first. When the real one was revealed it was obvious, but somehow I didn’t notice (or maybe you need to perform other actions before the right one unlocks?). I’ll need to play again to see if that was the case or not, but if so, that’s truly annoying. Life is Strange is about the story, and any amount of frustration to experience more of that is a hindrance to my enjoyment.

Episode 4 looks to be when the Vortex Club party finally occurs, and as such I’m hoping it’s where everything finally amps up – so far the story is weirdly sedate. It’d be impossible to keep all that excitement for the final episode, right?


 

Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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eden* PLUS+MOSAIC Review

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

Most of the time, my reasoning for selecting one version of a visual novel over the other is to get the original, authentic experience regardless of any potential negatives or positives associated with that release. eden* posed a different sort of challenge. For those who aren’t aware, the original version was actually a so-called all-ages release, with more content being added afterward for eden* PLUS+MOSAIC. This review is for that latter version, and it honestly impacted my opinion.

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The Royal Trap Review

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

I’ll admit, after falling in love with Hanako Games’ Long Live the Queen I didn’t believe there would be any game in their library able to even come close. As such, The Royal Trap was quite a pleasant surprise. Unfortunately, because so much of the story reveals itself upon multiple playthoughs, I’ll just stick with sharing the starting point.

You play as Madeleine Valois. She has spent her life protecting (and effectively raising) Prince Oscar into a proper and well-rounded gentleman. His goal? Get selected by another nation’s Princess as a worthy partner, at which point he’ll no longer require Madeleine’s services. We start off with Oscar and Madeleine visiting Princess Cassidy along with others looking to win her hand. Unfortunately, things won’t play out as anyone expected.

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As with any good visual novel, the storyline is intriguing and each character brings something unique to the table. In my play time I discovered a handful of typos, but those could easily be resolved with patches (if that hasn’t already occurred). There are also 15 endings to uncover, meaning you’ve got a lot of potential hours of gameplay available. It’s definitely recommended to see The Royal Trap through to conclusion.

The release on Steam is an “HD Version” which of course updated the resolution to 1440×900. Background art has also been redone, though as I never played the original I can’t comment on the upgrade. CG scenes are gorgeous and even a bit steamy at times, which is great! Most of all I love Madeleine’s character. In comparison to most other otome game protagonists, she is truly her own character, rather than a blank slate for players to envision themselves as.

My only real complaint with the game is that there is apparently a recommended order to do the routes in, which I was unaware of going in. By doing so you get the best unveiling of the story/world so definitely check this post out if you intend to play the “right” way. But beyond that, The Royal Trap is a lovely visual novel worth your time.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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