Side Quest #16 - 18 January 2022
This was fantastic! I loved the different planets, the story, the MUSIC, the characters, everything about the game and I cannot wait for the sequel. Dathomir was the one I was dreading the most but ended up being the one I won’t forget about so soon because of what happens in the end of the story in that planet. The last two/three hours were really exciting and I was either grinning or pratically shedding a tear. If I had played this last year it could’ve been very well my game of the year. Since it was only in 2022, let’s see how it goes.
I did play in the easiest difficulty since I’m not a big fan of difficult games, but even then there were some tough spots and it was still very fun to play through.
This game requires TWO X-input controllers; it won’t register direct-input controllers (e.g. the kind with numbered face buttons). I had to download a controller emulator (specifically, reWASD), but that program has its own issues. Not only did it require a restart of my computer, but its UI is kinda obtuse and it only let me map controls to the left side of my keyboard (until today; I don’t know what changed). Worse, it’s a 14-day trial program; do they really expect people to pay $7 for this? Might as well spend a bit extra to get an actual X-input controller.
Point is, this game was destined for obscurity (at least on PC).
This is an RTS/escort game (not a puzzle-platformer like the store page claims). You don’t control anyone directly; you just push different buttons to toggle the positions of different blocks (pink for P1, blue for P2) so the melbits get from the yellow pipe to the other yellow pipe safely. As long as two of them reach the end in time, you win (levels usually spawn 4 or 5 of them). You might have noticed that this gameplay could easily be replicated by pushing a key on the keyboard instead, so what does the game do that absolutely requires two X-input controllers? Turns out, one type of platform is moved by rotating the control stick, and there’s exactly one level (2-1) where there are four of these platforms, each mapped to a different stick. That’s it. Every other time they show up, two sticks are used at most. Yeah, this game didn’t need to be controller-only, let alone two-controllers-only.
As you progress, levels get longer with more branching paths and more objects to toggle (as well as fewer safe zones where you can leave the melbits alone without them killing themselves), but half of the challenge is always remembering which button does what. The game only shows which buttons toggle which objects at the start of the level; after that, nothing. The logs are distinct (you always know they’re rotated with the shoulder buttons) and the trampolines are distinct (you know they’re always activated with L3/R3, though if you don’t hit the button right before a melbit lands on it, it’s likely to fail), but the regular blocks? The conveyor belts? The draw bridges? The springboards? The fans? They could be either the A button or the X button. Heck, many levels have identical blocks that each get toggled by different buttons. The game could’ve at least had the button as a texture on the block (not like they’d need to change it for keyboard).
To make things more confusing, each time you die or restart a level, there’s a chance the objects’ colors get swapped, meaning player 1 now toggles the blocks that player 2 did before and vice versa.
Another issue is depth perception. There are times (notably 4-7) where it’ll look like the conveyor will drop you on a path, but it actually sends you into a pit. Worse are the LEGO heads; each level has three to collect, but many of them are suspended in midair, none with drop shadows. You’ll think you’re on track to get one, then suddenly pass it by, leaving you to reexamine the level to try to find out where it actually is and how to reach it (though that isn’t too hard once you know what to rule out). The level-select shows you how many heads you got in each level, so I’d always try to go back and get them…until 3-7. One of the heads is placed below the rightmost drawbridge and above the path below it, so you’d think you just have to leave the drawbridge open so that the melbit falls on the head and collects it, right? Nope; for this one spot in this one level only, the melbits suddenly gain self-preservation and turn to the side before jumping off, even if you open the drawbridge while they’re walking on it.
The only other time I had an issue with the heads was 4-9. One is in midair directly in front of the fan tile (melbits center themselves above the fan when you activate it). Another is on the same path an enemy patrols, placed right after the springboard–the only way to get past said enemy–meaning you’d need to have to time the rest of the level so that two melbits are close to each other AND moving to that platform at the right time so you can time the springboard so the first one lands on the enemy and stuns it, allowing the second to get the head safely. Mess any of that up and you’d have to choose between getting all the melbits to the goal or sacrificing one to get the head.
Something the level select doesn’t show is how many melbits reached goal each level; it doesn’t even show score per level, just the highest single-level score in the selected world. I had initially planned on going back to see if I could do it, but abandoned that notion pretty quick once I realized that. Either way, I would’ve probably given up later due to the sheer amount of multitasking it’d require on later levels (by world 4, I could only get two or three per level).
Oh, and the title screen never displays “continue”; it always displays “new game,” which gave me a scare at first (it did keep my progress, though).
Overall, I don’t know if I can recommend this game. Even if you have the necessary equipment, the challenge is all multitasking and timing, not platforming or puzzle-solving like the store page claims. I can say I’m not a fan of this genre, but even if you are, you’ll still have the depth perception issue and the ambiguous controls issue to deal with.
EDIT: So, turns out there’s an Android/iOS port of the game with twice as many levels and no mention of controller support being required, so if you’re interested, just get that version.
Jan 17 2022
I’m not saying that DotEmu’s output is worse than just downloading the ROMs and an emulator for free, but I tried playing their Neo Geo releases that were free on Twitch Prime a while back, and they ran too quickly (I have a 144hz monitor). Nothing in the games’ options to remedy this, either, so I moved on to my next game:
Metroidvania. You start with just left/right movement and jump, but it doesn’t take long for you to get a sword (X button); tapping the attack button while standing still has you move forward slightly each tap, but you’ll bounce back a bit if you attack a shielded enemy, so it’s not as big an issue as it could have been. Your sword can also reflect projectiles back at enemies, but the game doesn’t tell you this directly; instead, it tries to do one of those “teach through level design” moments, except it does this by placing a rapid-fire turret at the end of a low-ceiling hall, so you can’t jump over the shots and will likely get hit a couple times before the intended thought occurs to you.
Shortly into the second biome, you get the titular kunai; LT throws one up and left, and RT throws your other one up and right. They’re not weapons, they’re more like grappling hooks; they latch onto compatible surfaces and let you swing across, or you alternate between them to scale vertical shafts. That said, the connecting string can get stuck if you swing past a corner, and you always automatically jump after letting go, which can cause you to be sent into the occasional low-hanging spike ceiling. Plus, you can’t increase/decrease the length of the connecting string; you have to let go and re-throw the kunai.
At the end of the third biome, you unlock the map, which fills in as you reach new areas. Unlike more well known metroidvanias, the entire room shows up on the map as soon as you reach it, so you can better tell which paths lead to more rooms and which are more likely to have optional collectibles. I don’t agree with the decision to place the ability to check the map so far after the start, though.
Although there’s a good bit of platforming to go with the game’s main selling point, enemy placement and AI are almost exclusively designed around long, flat rooms and platforms. Even flying enemies and teleporting enemies rarely show up outside of spike-free hallways. I’ll never understand these games; rather than try to combine enemies and platforming, it’s basically separated into platforming segments and boring enemy segments. This issue is laid bare during the combat waves preceding the final boss: although the arena changes a few times, it never affects how you approach the enemies; you’re still fighting the same types of enemies as before, only you have to fight way too many for way too long. It’s repetitive, to say the least.
This is made all the more frustrating because this one flying enemy type has a hitbox that only covers one side of its sprite, causing projectiles to pass straight through the other side:
The bosses tend to have at least one cheap hit in their pattern. The first boss has a shield and will be vulnerable while swooping, but tapping the attack button doesn’t always hit the boss, even though tapping the attack button anywhere else never results in an opening for you to be hit. The desert temple boss summons tornados to move along the left and right sides of the arena, and later phases have them spawn so frequently that if you fall in the center, you won’t be able to get out without taking a hit. The black blob boss (right after the you get the gun) can go to the ceiling and drop little blobs from random spots on the ceiling, but neither your sword nor the gun can kill them before they land, and they spawn quite frequently during later phases. Plus, right afterward, the boss will drop down and pull out its own rapid-fire guns before shooting quickly and moving quickly across the floor/wall/ceiling, always toward you, and even if it had better foreshadowing, you’ll still be caught off guard because you’ll be busy dealing with the little blobs that just spawned. The mountain boss has you climb a wall while it breaks the grapple-able tiles from it and spawns spikes briefly on the spot it just tackled; I was never able to avoid the spikes on the last stretch. Then, it shifts to a vertical autoscroller, but the platforms that show up are repetitive enough that you might think you’re supposed to do something else besides keep climbing. The final boss has a swooping attack with no foreshadow animation, and the attack only gets faster as the fight progresses. The boss also has an attack where it throws its scythe directly at you, and the only difference between the foreshadow animation for that attack and the foreshadow animation for its much more common earlier attack of simply throwing the scythe in a C shape…is that the boss holds its pose longer. The boss’s final phase has it shoot a laser at your last-known-location, then swoop the laser around the arena clockwise or counterclockwise (always towards you); you’re supposed to dash past the laser, but if the laser shows up pointing to your side of the arena (which is likely since it targets you when it spawns), you won’t have enough room to dash past without either your top or bottom hitting the diagonal laser.
Overall, this game is hard to recommend. There’s some good platforming, but enemy placement is bland and bosses tend to have elements of trial-and-error, not to mention the repetitive enemy waves right before the final boss. Wait for a good sale.
So a smaller set of games this week but still a nice amount. I just got really addicted to coloring pixels last week and since I'm near my goal of 70 games completed I decided to let myself just take this time off to grind it out to completion
Second week of January
Current balance of acquired - beaten games: 11 - 11 = 0
I apparently completely forgot it was post time yesterday. Been too distracted by other stuff.
Completed SG wins
Other completed games
Jan 16 2022
Ninglors Log 249
Played this week:
So much from me :)
Have a lovely week!
Report #343: The Almost Gone
Picked this one up in the sale. Looked very cute. Wasn’t disappointed.
A bit like point&click combined with The Room and House of DaVinci gameplay. Has five chapters and your main goal is to go through all the rooms and find/solve the exit puzzle. Rooms can be turned in 90° and you need to make use of it. For example you can only use a door, if you once clicked on it.
Only down side of the game, it has an achievement to keep it running for 5 hours. But first playthrough was only 1.5-2h and another (speed)run was 30min
This is a fantastic sci-fi horror game by Bloober Team. It features Rutger Hauer starring our protagonist and takes a lot of inspiration from Blade Runner and other cyberpunk-themed media.
It has a very classic, moody cyberpunk atmosphere and themes, set in a dystopian world of the future. While the game only takes place in one location, it really nails the way it handles the lore. It is very interesting to explore to say the least.
Exploration is pretty much everything this game has to offer. It features some very, very light stealth elements where you have to avoid monsters, but the AI is so forgiving it's almost laughable. Thankfully, there's even less enemy encounters than in Soma.
The redux version looks gorgeous. I never got to play the original, but bought the Redux version for a cheaper price since I had the original anyway.
I know that Bloober Team are kind of horror guys, but I found the way they tried to shove jumpscares everywhere somewhat unfitting. It never ruined the experience, just wasn’t that scary and looked weird. There are times when it feels they tried way too hard.
As far as achievements go, the collectables one is pretty much impossible without a guide, since almost half of the things you’re supposed to collect are easily missable. Looking around every nook and cranny in every single area would totally ruin the game flow for everyone, so I did a second playthrough to collect all that stuff. Even then, it was kind of a pain in the ass.
Overall, a great game.
This is a fun point’n’click puzzle game that relies heavily on meta narrative. It’s very lighthearted and fun, the solutions are pretty clever and mostly not very hard. The voice acting can be a bit cheesy, but still good.
This is a pretty simple and short puzzle game that’s being a step away from your usual hentai puzzle schlock. The differences are that it’s not actually 18+ (regrettably) even if it’s Adults Only on Steam, and that the gameplay is kinda brainless, but not that brainless. You have to push the correct buttons/adjust sliders to edit the photos of a girl. Some of these tasks can be pretty “difficult” - I always struggled with lighting/negative effects. Besides that, there are levels where the UI was bugged - the button you’re supposed to press to check if the photo meets the requirements is pushed by buttons and sliders somewhere out of your reach, and you can’t even click it. Thankfully, there’s an option to skip levels for earned money - and that’s the only way you can beat these levels.
Overall, it’s a bit buggy and simplistic, but the art is pretty good. Afaik, there were many artists involved, so the artstyle can vary.
It’s a joke game that got released on Steam some time before the actual game got released. It’s very simplistic and short, there’s not much going on. It’s kinda hard for me to get the highscore achievements, so no +1 completed game for me here.
Besides that, I’ve beaten first Black Souls game with endings b and c. Since I haven’t got the endings a and d, I can’t count it as completed, but I had a damn good 10 hours at it.
100 Completed Games Marathon progress: 3/100
Backlog progress status: