Posts Tagged ‘Steam’

Letter Quest: Grimm’s Journey Review

Letter Quest Grimm's Journey Featured

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Developer: Digerati Distribution
Publisher: Bacon Bandit Games
Platform: Mobile – Android, iOS PC – DirectSteam

Words rule. As someone who writes all the time it makes sense that I’ve got at least a passing interest in the English language. That’s why games like Letter Quest: Grimm’s Journey appeal to me most. It’s an RPG of sorts completely focused around Scrabble-like mechanics. You’re provided a small selection of letters and must create words with them in a short period of time. The bigger the word, or the rarer letters used (Q, X, etc) and little Grimm will release a stronger attack! Yes, the concept is simple, but quite effective.

Each stage is quite small and features Grimm walking from left to right in a cartoony 2D world. Firing off a word uses up your turn, although players can choose to utilize potions and the like instead. As you progress the enemies grow much tougher which demands more of players. Luckily, Letter Quest never makes slow typers (or clickers) disadvantaged thanks to its turn-based approach. What it does do though is offer really slow character progression.

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Upgrades to Grimm’s health, attack, and such are unlocked via gems. Gems are awarded upon beating persistent quests or levels. They’re certainly easy to get but accumulating enough for upgrades is surprisingly slow going. As such, it can be tough to defeat later stages without a lot of grinding. Really, I was just disappointed my awesome Scrabble skills weren’t enough to keep me powering through.

The concept and execution of Letter Quest: Grimm’s Journey is spot on aside from its artificial gatekeeping measures. It looks cute, has a pretty responsive interface, and is an enjoyable puzzle game. If you’re looking for more in the same vein then check out Words for Evil. Although imperfect in its own regards, skilled players are rewarded without restrictions.


Score: 3
3 out of 5 alpacas


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Door Kickers Review

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Developer: KillHouse Games
Publisher: KillHouse Games
Platform: PC – GOG*, Steam

Police games intrigue me a whole heck of a lot. From Police 911 to S.W.A.T. they’re all just pretty excellent games. Unfortunately for fans of the latter title, there’s been a real lack of super strategic and gritty games since Sierra got eaten/killed/revived. Door Kickers may not be exactly the same, especially given its top-down perspective, but it is excellent in its own right.

In Door Kickers you’re given a huge array of campaigns and basically given free rein to complete them exactly how you want. Each features a different strategic situation to assess. Players plan absolutely every aspect for teams and (hopefully) execute it flawlessly. The top-down perspective gives a great vantage point as players see the entire level map. Of course, actually “seeing” where enemies are requires line of sight confirmation. Until that point areas are hidden.

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Brash players can do well enough in early stages with minimal officer deaths, but not through the entire campaign. Door Kickers is definitely designed with tacticians in mind because those players will reap the greatest rewards. It simply feels good to have a plan work perfectly. Of course, surprises are bound to happen. Modifying plans on the fly to suit changing situations feels damn good, too.

Buying Door Kickers is like unlocking a new gaming obsession. Beat all the missions? Now go back and three-star them while completing all the challenges. After that you can download user-created mods/levels, or heck, make your own. Door Kickers is an excellent strategy game, especially for those of us looking to scratch that S.W.A.T. 4 or Rainbow Six itch.


Score: 4.5

4 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Tales of Maj’Eyal Review

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Developer: DarkGod
Publisher: DarkGod
Platform: PC – GOG*, Steam

My first exposure to roguelikes would probably make Rogue fans cry. Instead of following most of the same principles, what I came to know of the genre could be better defined as rogue-lites. In any case, not everything I play falls into that distant genre cousin branch, as Tales of Maj’Eyal proves. This roguelike RPG is incredibly deliberate with turn-based play, variety of challenging enemies, tons of character classes to experiment with, and of course the possibility of permadeath.

Honestly, Tales of Maj’Eyal is quite a lot to take in right from the start. There are tons of classes and different types have their own starting hub worlds. Despite a recognizable top-down and turn-based interface, there’s a lot to get a handle on with a multitude of spell types, enemy powers, and a handful of other systems. But basically, it’s very much like a typical deep RPG wherein you’re able to hone your characters with exacting detail and will always need to be careful while exploring randomly generated dungeons.

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Once you digest everything at play here the game really takes off. It’s difficult for me, even on easier settings, but I certainly appreciate that there are multiple options available. If you’re looking for a “hardcore” experience then Tales of Maj’Eyal provides that. If you’re seeking a highly strategic, but not completely hellish game you can get that too. It’s great to see a game of this genre open itself up to a variety of skill levels.

In all, it was a big surprise how much I ended up enjoying this one. There’s so much going on, but the foundation is solid. Roguelike fans looking for something more “classic” than Rogue Legacy and its ilk will definitely find it with Tales of Maj’Eyal.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Grim Fandango Remastered Review

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Developer: LucasArts / Double Fine Productions
Publisher: Double Fine Productions
Platform: PC – GOG*, Steam PSN – PS4 Vita

I have chased the specter of Grim Fandango for years. When it first launched my attention was captivated by magazine articles and photos. I wanted this game – but my computer was not nearly capable enough of running it. Fast forward years until I found a copy at the thrift store… but my computer was far too modern to play it correctly. Finally, Grim Fandango Remastered has given me the chance to play this beloved point and click adventure!

Well, honestly I wish this had happened years ago with the original release and not Remastered. Buuuut… we’ll get to why that is in a moment. First, one must get all the obvious discussion about Grim Fandango out of the way. It tells a phenomenal story with an awesome cast of characters who all exist in El Marrow – the “Land of the Dead.” Manny is a salesman trying to work off his debt by selling travel packages to spirits. Unfortunately, he only ever seems to get lowlives who qualify for super cheap packages. Everything changes when he steals one customer from his coworker and things spiral out of control.

Nearly everything is pitch perfect: the visuals, music, voice acting, and overall story arch are a joy to watch unfold. Some puzzles aren’t particularly logical but this was still a big issue in the 90s. Grim Fandango Remastered leaves most everything alone aside from implementing a new control scheme and giving characters less pixelated bodies. There’s a pretty neat commentary track as well but beyond that it doesn’t feel like enough work to warrant a word like “remastered.”

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Then there are the glitches. Oh boy, those glitches (on PC at least) are monumental. I encountered multiple visual glitches as well as game-breaking bugs that would not allow me to progress in three puzzles. Considering the “puzzle logic” in the game, it’s very easy to simply not realize that an integral part of the puzzle isn’t triggering or has suddenly disappeared. Oh, sometimes it freezes too because why not? Here’s hoping a ton of patches arrive soon to sort the game out because right now Grim Fandango Remastered is a mess.

So what is the end result? This is most assuredly a classic game with amazing characters, art, and a multi-year tale but the current release makes it a challenge to enjoy. Some folks out there have played without glitches rearing their ugly head and that’s fantastic! I just wasn’t one of them. Grim Fandango Remastered, as it currently stands, could cause irreversible damage to the original’s reputation.


Score: 2

2 out of 5 alpacas


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Pix the Cat Review

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Developer: Pastagames
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Platform: PC – Steam PSN – PS4, Vita

Pix the Cat launched on PS4 and Vita last year as one of those PS+ Instant Game Collection titles. At that point I heard tons of people expressing just how good it was! Unfortunately, I didn’t get around to playing it during that time frame. Instead, my waiting resulted in being rewarded with a Steam release. For those who haven’t already played it on PSN, let’s jump right into what it’s all about.

Players control a blue, square-shaped cat named Pix and must collect eggs, which hatch into chicks, and deposit them in little warp holes. The play field looks a bit reminiscent of arcade classics like Pac-Man with a 2D board and twisty rooms. After collecting eggs, the chicks follow directly behind Pix in an increasingly long line. You cannot run into this line – or walls.

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As such, Pix the Cat takes on a fast-paced arcade vibe with heavy puzzle inspirations. While playing you’ll need to discover the most efficient ways around each room to maximize chick drop offs and points. It’ll likely take multiple run throughs to develop said strategies, but the gameplay is enjoyable enough to keep this from becoming monotonous. The only issue I really had was how slow Pix starts off as the most enjoyable gameplay comes when you’re rushing through stages with the timer nearing zero.

Beyond this main mode there are more thoughtful, puzzle-y sections as well as a local multiplayer mode. I’m not a huge fan of the additional modes as the “classic” one is most enjoyable. With that said, Nostalgia mode has outrageously cute visuals so check that out at least once! Pix the Cat is cute, challenging, and a great new take on arcade style.


Score: 4

4 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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Ostrich Island Review

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Developer: MeDungeon
Publisher: MeDungeon
Platform: PC – Steam

You know, I never really expected to play a game where you control an ostrich – but the concept is adorable! Ostrich Island begins with an ostrich who has their head buried in the sand. That’s you. After it quits being a scaredy cat the journey begins. Each level is fairly small and all that’s required is to get from point A to point B (with a great deal of collectibles in between).

The game is incredibly odd at first glance and even in play still seems strange. After all, there’s a button dedicated to digging your head in the sand as well as kicking. You’ll kick a lot if you want the highest score. Kick treasure chests to open them, or kick palm trees to knock the darn things over and collect what they drop. Your main goal is to collect big ‘ol ostrich eggs but there are tons of other prospective goodies.

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Although Ostrich Island may seem incredibly short and linear, you’ll eventually discover the progress gating. This ostrich needs to gain some skills (such as jumping higher or swimming) before proceeding. It’s a bit annoying since all you really want to do is goof off. It’s around this point that the cohesiveness also starts to disintegrate. Suddenly you’re in a dungeon! For some reason there are skeletons running around that kill you! It’s nonsensical in an annoying way given you have limited lives.

It’s safe to say that Ostrich Island is far less aimless than similar animal-controlled games like Goat Simulator. There’s definite purpose. For a while I even let myself get hooked on trying to collect all level items, hats, skins, and achievements. Really, your enjoyment of it will be derived by how much fun you have unlocking stuff versus how well you handle glitchy jumps, annoying progression gating, and the like. Ostrich Island is an odd bird indeed.


Score: 2

2 out of 5 alpacas


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Hexcells Review

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Developer: Matthew Brown
Publisher: Matthew Brown
Platform: PC – Steam

Every single year tons of new puzzle games launch – and I play a great deal of them. So many fall on established styles and therefore fail to draw my attention. Hexcells, on the other hand, provided a fairly unique experience and has captivated many. Now there’s a whole series of games for fans to enjoy. So how is this very first puzzler?

Simply phenomenal. The concepts at play are incredibly simple, which is almost necessary for a good puzzle game. Each stage presents players with a variety of hexagons laid out so they touch one another. Some include numbers on them. Your goal is to activate adjacent cells equal to the number on a hexagon. It might sound a bit weird at first but the quick tutorial stages make the goal understandable.

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With a bit of knowledge under your belt Hexcells throws a handful of increasingly difficult puzzles your way, adding more considerations along the way. Mistakes are allowed but if you make to many you won’t get enough points to continue on. There aren’t a ton of stages in all, which is the biggest letdown. Then again, the game is only $2.99 to begin with.

Hexcells excels at providing a fun and simple puzzle game that requires some careful thinking along the way. By the end I didn’t quite get the hang of it, but it was still enjoyable to work through each included puzzle. If you absolutely love the game then check out its sequels: Hexcells Infinite and Hexcells Plus.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Rock Boshers DX: Director’s Cut Review

Rock Boshers DX: Director's Cut Featured

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Developer: Tikipod
Publisher: Tikipod
Platform: PSN – PS4, Vita PC – Steam

Zillions of games out there attempt to mimic retro consoles and computers. Rock Boshers DX: Director’s Cut is one of these games, although it takes after the ZX Spectrum far more than a NES or SNES-like title. With harsh colors and barely distinguishable pixel creatures, your goal in this twin stick shooter is to shoot your way to safety.

Rock Boshers DX is enjoyable in its simplicity. Every stage has an entrance, exit, collectables, and often a puzzley challenge to solve. Although it starts off incredibly easy with killing off slow zombies it quickly ramps up in difficulty. Despite the very simple premise you’ll actually have to play levels multiple times to finally do what’s required. Despite the mostly classic and simplistic controls, or because of them, there’s a lot of fun to be had.

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Another high point of the game is the storyline. You are Queen Victoria and for some reason you’re in space. It’s nonsensical concepts like this which used to thrive in gaming’s heyday so it fits perfectly. All the in-game text is flavorful and even provides hints for how to solve stages. Unfortunately, the sound bytes become bit grating with their loud repetition.

Sure, the visuals might be of a style that’s hard to discern and some of the sound effects are annoying. Still, these are part of the atmosphere when making a realistic Spectrum game. Rock Boshers DX is a ton of fun, takes 3 to 5 hours to beat, and still includes some bonus levels with goofy names like “Cheese Dreams.” I thoroughly recommend it but you can give the original prototype a try first to see if this game’s for you.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Spelunky Review

Spelunky Featured

Spelunky Boxart

Developer: Mossmouth
Publisher: Mossmouth
Platform: PC – Steam, PSN, XBLA

There was a point in time where I watched Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom a lot, but only for a brief moment. After that childish love affair with Harrison Ford ended, the VHS went back on the shelves to collect dust. The concept of adventure in forests, caves, and the like were great for a film but it seems they would be able to easily translate into games too. No, this isn’t a post about the various Indiana Jones games that came out over the years, but Spelunky.

Spelunky is an incredibly fun game. You start out as a little adventurer person (there are many to choose from, some who you find along your travels). They explore the caves and you must keep them alive by defeating enemies, dodging traps, and also making sure you don’t fall too far – or onto spikes! Along the way, you’ll gain valuables which are exchanged into currency at the end of each stage. If you find a merchant, they’ll usually sell you something helpful, unless you decide to steal from and/or kill them.

What makes Spelunky so fun is largely due to how simple the game is to understand. You must get from the start of the stage to the exit in a certain amount of time without dying. Do this a handful more times and you’ll work through the whole thing. Controls are also spot on for the (sometimes) careful maneuvering needed. Good luck getting through the game in one go though. The whole thing is diabolically hard at points. Usually, the player’s own impatience works against them.

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The original free Windows version of Spelunky had cute pixel art, but the current art appeals to me even more. Listening to the game’s soundtrack is also fun although there aren’t quite enough tracks available. The biggest negative I perceive is the simple fact that there’s no online multiplayer option. At this point in time, I (and many other people) don’t really get to have get- togethers for gaming. But online gaming nights? Oh, that’s much easier to organize.

With randomized stages leading to infinite replay value, I have started my adventures hundreds of times. And yet, when I have nothing else to do all I want is to play even more Spelunky. It creates an enjoyable hold on players and is definitely worth the purchase if you’ve never played.


Score: 4.5

4 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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