This is an action platformer. The store page claims “action adventure,” but make no mistake: this is a linear, stage-by-stage game. The only branching paths are dead-end, 1-2 room houses you can enter. Sometimes the houses have shopkeepers, and enemies do drop money, but for the most part, you can just ignore the houses and play the game linearly. The game is clearly inspired by Zelda II, especially given how the controls work: your jump arc is quick and forward-momentum is identical (so the platforming can’t get too complex), but there is a purchasable upgrade that makes jumping controls responsive (where you stop moving as soon as you let go of forward and go back to top speed the moment you hit the button again).
Most of the game is okay, but it has some beginner-developer problems, like some attacks not being conveyed properly. For example, when you defeat the very first boss (the giant slime) and it starts exploding, you’ll probably think that’s it, but then it suddenly bursts into smaller slimes that fly out quickly, and you’d only avoid it if you think to run away. For the record, no other boss does this; when they explode, they’re done for. The snakes also have this problem: they don’t animate or move at all, but they’ll shoot out projectiles occasionally: the purple ones shoot forward, and the green ones throw in an arc aimed at or near where you are (I never found out exactly what affects its trajectory). This is especially frustrating in the catacombs, as there’s one part where you have to walk above them and their projectiles can just barely hit you, but you can’t jump to avoid them because the ceiling is too low. Also, while you don’t need all the shop upgrades (and the vertical attack upgrade kinda breaks certain parts), the last level has segments where you absolutely have to trudge through lava, and if you haven’t purchased the “immunity to lava” upgrade, then too bad. Oh, and mimics are also inconsistent: sometimes, attacking them causes them to recoil backward, while other times, they’ll just keep moving forward and hit you anyway.
However, the part I disliked the most was the fact that, despite being a relatively modern game, it still copies the “spawn enemies from the sides of the screen regularly” thing that plagued so many older side-scrollers (it’s second only to limited continues for retro stuff that should never have been brought back). Not only is it a cheap replacement for actual level design, but the third level in this game applies that effect to enemies that are too high up to attack, but have a long chain below them that they drop right in front of you, and when you combine their constant spawning with the erratic, fast-hopping frogs and aimed-projectile-throwing sandworms in the same level, it’ll be hard to find a way past them without getting hit.
Overall, this one’s also hard to recommend. Mechanics are fine, but the level design can be pretty cheap sometimes and overly simplistic and kinda bland other times; it almost makes too much sense that the sequel is a roguelike.
The more games I play, the more I realize most professional titles don’t care about level design. To think there’s entire generations who won’t know what level design is; no wonder people think “constantly introducing new gimmicks=good.” It’s all they know.
This is a twinstick shooter. Move with left stick, aim with right stick, shoot with right trigger, melee attack with right bumper, dash with left bumper, and as you progress, you can choose various upgrades that are activated with the other buttons.
From the beginning, it’s clear the game doesn’t really have any level design: just empty halls connecting enemy arenas, where waves of enemies come at you. There was this one arena where the walls were hazards and would reflect your bullets (potentially back at you), but it was just one arena, one more gimmick thrown away before it could reach its potential; all the other arenas were interchangeable.
That’s not to say the halls were completely devoid of anything besides the occasional chest or weapon: in the second level, there are automated turrets that will shoot at you from off-screen with barely any warning and take 3/4ths of your health before letting you pass. In the final level, there are places outside enemy arenas were melee enemies will continually spawn while you need to look for red targets you need to shoot within the red level you’re in that will unlock the way forward. Beyond that, though, there isn’t much here.
Also, despite there being almost no variety with the arenas, the enemies don’t have much variety, either: most either chase you with a short-range attack or sidestep/side-dash while shooting at you (with the only real variation here being what type of gun they’re using). Sure, the game has stationary drones that send out pulses which lower either your health or item energy (depending on the symbol on them), but they don’t show up until the latter half of the game and are still fairly uncommon.
Also, after literally each and every set of enemy waves, the screen flashes to remind you what your objective is (despite levels being very linear), and it’s just as annoying as it sounds.
The bosses and mini-bosses are fine, but the game makes you fight the same mini-bosses multiple times, and as you might be able to imagine, it’s just as repetitive as the regular enemy waves because there’s neither variation with level design or AI, and I swear the game makes you fight the cyborg no less than six times, three of which are part of a really, really absurdly long set of enemy waves after the final boss! Yup, the game just couldn’t end on a decent note, so it instead sends 60 cannon fodder enemies at you and three copy-paste cyborgs before rolling the credits. I was wondering if it was supposed to be a “supposed to lose” segment around half-way through because of just how long and repetitive it was, but no: it’s just really long and repetitive.
Overall, this game is hard to recommend. It’s similar to Cat Quest in that the mechanics are fine, but the combat is really repetitive. Wait for a good sale if you’re interested.
So with the lock-down going on over here, time to write a little post about my progress since last time.
First off, I finished (almost) a forgotten circle campaign in gloomhaven. That took a bit of time out of my backlog clearing :D.
First game to be knocked off the backlog:
A good turn based strategy game. Visually it’s meh, but the combat system is really well thought out with you having to balance actions/heat on your mechas. The progression is nice but feels a little bit lackluster at times (like even if you fully upgrade one class, you’ll never get a level high enough to skill everything/use all the stuff you unlock).
Then it was time to clear some SteamGift wins
Two were quite enjoyable
Robothorium was a nice short turn based combat system. The difficulty ramping was good, the leveling on the bots felt impactful.
Divinity dragon commander is a sort of total war in the divinity universe. I quite liked the world map interaction and the decision you had to take to please one race or another. The RTS part of the game was not my kind of thing, but you can beat the campaign without doing any if you’re doing well enough on the world map.
Dead Age was meh. The gameplay is quite nice at first (finding the proper balance between keeping on going and falling back) but it gets old real fast. Like after 3 or 4 hours or gameplay, it’s almost always the same thing.
As for Hero defense, just don’t buy this game. The gameplay is nice (tower defense, but your tower are 5 heroes that can move and level up in the map). But the game must have been coded by people that didn’t test the game stability. Each time you play a map, the game gets slower and slower. And after 4 or 5 map, it’s best to restart the game if you don’t want it to hang for 30 seconds/1 minute when starting a map (all while not using that much CPU/RAM). And the maps after the main game scales really weirdly. Like you breeze through the first levels and then you hit a wall that needs you to grind like crazy to climb.
After that, the lock-down allowed me to start taking on some more games.
I grabbed this one for free on steam, it was nice and relaxing. The ending was a bit weird (like you’re waiting for more in the story).
And to finish it off,
I think people know enough about it. Don’t know if I’ll ever beat it entirely. The game is at the same time very enticing (the progression, the combat) and rage inducing to me (sometimes RNG can just demoralize you).
March, march, march. The less we will talk about this month, the better. And I don’t think April will be much improvement of the situation… Well, at least we have some time for gaming…
Six new games, four beaten. Including two bought in this month so at least Im actually playing in what I’m buying.
I didn’t do any big game this month, but I played a lot of Kingdom Come, before I got bored and decided it’s not for me. So - dropped for now, maybe I will finish it someday.
Best game of the month: Heaven’s Vault
Beaten and completed games
Got this at the end of 2011. I’ve played it a couple of times before but never got very far. I think in the past I didn’t really pay much attention to the mission instructions and just practised shooting people from afar. As a result, I got stuck a couple of missions in and stopped playing. Years later, I came back and played a bit more carefully. Pretty fun overall. The graphics are dated and I’m sure the 4 or so sequels have improved on the initial idea. Glad to be able to cross this one off my backlog. It’s always nice to get rid of an older game and, as a bonus, as there were no achievements I get to mark it as complete :)
异常 | Exception
Fairly new, for me. Through playing this game I realised I will never be able to program!
It’s a pretty interesting game and at the start I could get through the levels without too much of a problem. The difficulty came when I had an idea of how to beat a level and couldn’t get it to work through the coding. I didn’t have the patience to sit and work out how to get my idea to work and I wasn’t invested enough in the outcome to stick at it. I guess if it was a labour of love, like a program I’d been working on and was committed to making I would work harder. Similarly, if I felt like making the code work would give me something back, like money or creating something that improved my life, I’d work harder. As it was, I just got frustrated and searched for solutions. Most of these were not the way I planned on beating the level, so even checking the answer didn’t help with my own initial coding attempt.
Sooo….probably a pretty good game for anyone who is interested in coding, can think logically or is patient and likes to work at puzzles.
Assassin’s Creed 2
Another old game to knock off the backlog. I got this in 2012. I have another in the series on Steam and possibly a couple more on the Ubisoft platform. As with other games, I felt like I shouldn’t try the newer ones until I beat this. I think the last time I played was 2015. I’d made a fair bit of progress but had either got tired or stuck. Picked it up again and played a lot in one weekend to finish it.
I had a few problems mapping my Xbox controller (didn’t have these in the past, so not sure why it suddenly happened) but once I’d fixed these and re-learned the controls it was pretty smooth sailing. Good game and the graphics still look pretty good. I’m sure everyone is already familiar with it. No Steam achievements, so I can mark this as complete even though I didn’t get all the collectables :)
Why Am I Dead At Sea
Picked this up this month. Looked interesting and was 80% off, matching a record low. I dived straight in and beat it :). Reminded me a bit of Emily is Away Too, Undertale, The Hex, Silent Age - short-ish games, story driven and a bit unusual. Beat it without any help, then checked a guide to get a few more achievements. I should really be able to 100% this, but I’m struggling a bit with the different endings so gonna leave it at 97% complete for now.
Adding to my backlog
Aside from Why Am I Dead At Sea, which I instantly knocked off. The only other game I got was Tomb Raider. There were lots of other freebies around, but I wasn’t really interested in them.
I went to Chiang Mai for a week. Not the greatest timing, as the Coronavirus really picked up as I left. Unfortunately, I couldn’t cancel without losing everything I paid for the flight and hotel, so I risked it. Thailand had a lower number of infections than Japan, so I guess there was less risk to my health (statistically), but it was the threat of getting stuck in another country that worried me more than getting sick. In the end, I could get there and get back (just in time, couldn’t do it now!) but it was pretty nerve racking seeing so many countries close their borders and airlines stop flying as I was away. A day or two before my flight, Thailand cancelled all sporting events and closed bars and massage places. The day before my flight there was a confusing notice about visas and entry to Japan too, which worried me a little.
Aside from that worry lurking in the back of my mind, it was a very nice trip. There were far fewer tourists than normal, so fewer crowds. I got an upgrade to a nicer room in my hotel and I got to eat a lot of very cheap delicious food. I probably could’ve spent a day or two less there, but it wasn’t a big deal and I found things to do for the full trip. I’m not very good at editing images or setting them out neatly, so won’t try and upload a lot of photos.
Loved the game, really fun 2D tower defense with platformer elements.
Apr 02 2020
aka. Weird times are upon us
How is it going guys? I hope you and your loved ones are all safe and well. Like a lot of people right now, I’m confined at home so at least there is time for the backlog. It was my last month of Xbox pass and I managed to play Final Fantasy XV and then try a few more games. At least now I know that Ori 2 and Indivisible are not really for me. I also started Metro Exodus and liked what I played of it, but didn’t have time to finish it, especially because I went back to Dead Cells and I’m addicted to it again (I blame Skatrzoo for this). Anyway, I just hope you’re all staying home for those who can, and staying safe for those who still have to work in those weird times. Let me know how you’ve been dealing with the situation, depending on what measures your country has been taking. And game on!
ABC Challenge 2.0 Progress (2/27)Finished this month: 0
Finished the main story of the Iceborne DLC in coop with girlfriend. The DLC is definitely worth the money, as it adds a lot of content and new monsters. As for the base game, the story itself has little interest, and hunting with friends is where it's at. Will probably put some more hours into it in the upcoming month. Recommended for all those who liked the base game.
Pretty much a clone of Hidden Folks, with added color and a level editor, by a totally different studio. It's not a bad game and if you liked Hidden Folks and want more, have a look at it, but the original is better.
That was my "big" project for March, to finish this before my Xbox pass expired. It was an okay game, and it might be only me who's burned out of the Final Fantasy franchise, but I wasn't too excited by the story itself. It was nice driving around the open world, discovering places and fishing, but I wouldn't really recommend the game at full price. At least the combat was more dynamic than in old school FF games (but I prefer the gambit system from FF12).
Apr 01 2020
March '19 Play Log
Welp, the world has officially gone to hell in a handbasket. I’m currently working from home, which works wellish. I’m a software engineer, so my job is in front of a computer all day, and when I get home I often spend the evening gaming. This doesn’t generally bother me, but since work and gaming are now in the same room, I’m realizing that the simple change of scenery made a huge difference. I’m not prone to cabin fever as I’m definitely a homebody, but after 2.5 weeks shut in I’m feeling it faster than expected. It doesn’t help that my sister and her boyfriend are recently back in Canada and are staying with me, so I’m ending up quarantined for 3 weeks. Thankfully it’s only 1 week left. I’m looking forward to getting my house back after that, but there’s a possibility they’ll have to stay for the rest of April. Fingers crossed they don’t… How is everyone else coping?
In game related news, way too many activations. I was hoping to beat Graveyard Keeper before the end of the month, but just beat it tonight so you’ll have to wait till next month for that review. Gotta say though, dispointing ending.
To begin with I wasn’t sure about this, but overall I quite enjoyed it. Recommend for anyone who likes story based FPSes and hasn’t played it yet.
- Interesting story
- Decent graphics
- Good voice acting
- The plasmids and tonics mean there are a variety of ways to play
- The challenge maps add a neat twist, they’re (mostly) not the traditional ‘very tough enemy’ type challenges
- A lot of the story is through collectable diaries, so if you miss a lot you may not know what’s going on
- There are a lot of collectable diaries, but some of them are irrelevant. I think it would have been better to skip those ones.
- Crashed once in a challenge map
Play or Pay. Took me a bit to warm up to this, but in the end I enjoyed it. WAY TOO MANY AUDIO LOGS THOUGH!! Overall I think I liked Infinite more, but that could be the whole rose-coloured-glasses thing. My intention is to play the Burial at Sea DLC next, but we’ll see when that actually happens.
A very good game, but awfully short. I haven’t tried the challenges yet though.
- Very similar to the non-VR version, but the levels are different
- Adds a new weapon compared to the non-VR version
- Ducking/sidestepping punches, bullets, etc is a lot of fun and works fairly well
- I didn’t have any issues in my small computer room with 2 trackers
- Very short
This wasn’t half a bad work out, and a lot of fun. Only thing that sucked was that it was so short. I think I’ll ignore the achievement for playing the whole thing lying down though… I didn’t try the challenges, they sound quite hard. I may take a look at them at some point though.
- The ending left me intrigued for what will happen in Episode 2
- I enjoyed the part where Alex was sniping (but I’d have loved a shot of that myself)
- Voice acting continues to be good
- Graphics are quite good considering the age of the game
- Doesn’t really explain how you end up back at the Citadel after the ending of Half-Life 2
- Crashed twice
- Alex drove me nuts. She consistently got in my way. Given that she’s with you almost the whole game this was much more of a problem than in Half-Life 2
- A few times she also stood facing the opposite direction, leaving me to deal with a wave of enemies alone.
- The zombie burning achievement requires it to be done in a single playthrough, but doesn’t specify that. I eventually realized after reloading several times because I couldn’t do it in one playthrough without dying.
- Alyx redeems herself in this episode, being much better at staying out of the way
- Story is fairly good
- You have a Vortigon follower for a while which is a lot of fun
- Ripping around in the car is really fun
- I found the missions more fun in general than in the first episode
- Some of the achievements are really annoying. Launching a garden gnome into space sounds like fun until you realize it means carrying him around for the entire game and hoping you don’t leave him someplace you won’t be able to go back to/drop him in a hole/etc.
- While the main story is left at a reasonable spot, it’s not finished, and there’s another open question left at the end. Clearly intended for an episode 3 that was never made.
Overall I recommend this, but somewhat half-heartedly. Part of the issue is my own fault - I should have turned down the difficulty earlier. Part of it is the game.
Much better than the first episode. Makes me wonder what possessed Valve to stop making these.
I’m glad I played these, so thanks to Traqie for changing my mind. I wasn’t a big fan of one, but not for the reasons I expected. The ending was good though, and I thoroughly enjoyed episode 2.
Before you get excited for a WW2 bomber simulator, keep in mind this is primarily an exercise in time management. You have to control all of the most basic things, and it gets extremely difficult fairly quickly to the point that you have to grind to get all the best gear, taking all the fun out of it IMO.
- Good music
- Animated style graphics unusual for a war type game are a nice change
- Requires you to grind to get money for better gear or you have no chance of surviving the main missions
- Gets difficult very quickly, requiring you to do 5+ things at once all urgently.
- Gunners won’t even go get ammo when they’re out unless you tell them. Ammo feed turrets are an option, but they’re heavy, expensive, and slower to unlock, which means yet more grinding.
- Long despite little real change as the game goes on. Granted I gave up long before the end but it was already getting repetitive
Play or Pay. Wasn’t a fan of this one. Grindy, unnecessary micromanagement, and excessively long given the lack of variety led me to abandon it far from the end. Gunners can’t even get their own ammo when they run out? I feel more like a baby sitter than anything else.
Absolutely loved this game. Don’t expect anything serious here, either gameplay or story-wise. You’ll be disappointed. If you enjoy a casual FPS and want a good laugh though, this game is definitely worth playing. I’ve seen other reviewers disappointing with the ending. As much as I can understand this, a serious resolution would have felt out of place given the content, and personally it gave me a laugh.
- I enjoyed the music
- Voice acting suited the game well
- Not overly challenging (which I like, but some others may not)
- You can fast-forward through story parts, which is great for repeat playthroughs
- I don’t really see the point in a separate arcade mode given that the story isn’t exactly serious. Especially given that they use the same levels, enemies, etc. They do add an additional challenge, but personally I’d have preferred more story levels.
- Some of the fast-forwarded parts could have fast forwarded a bit more
- 2 of the achievement seem to be broken
Play or Pay. No idea where I came across this but I’m really glad I did. Hilarious and a lot of fun. I highly recommend it if you enjoy funny shooters and don’t mind the on-rails aspect of it.
So my bad SG luck streak ended with 3 Sakura games. Never played anything like them before, so here’s hoping they’re my thing.