My backlog extends beyond Steam... devonrv’s profile
In other words, you’ll occasionally see me post about…maybe not obscure, but perhaps unexpected games. I’ve already brought up such titles as Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean as well as Fluidity, and you can expect more in the future.
As for my BLAEO wheel: whenever I buy a game on Steam, I always play it a little bit right then so that nobody can say that I bought a bunch of Steam games I’ve never played. That said, I’m going to keep a game labeled as “never played” until I reach it in my backlog and plan on playing it actively.
Also, since there are some games I never plan on 100%ing, I’ll probably just use “beaten” for all the games that I’ve beaten, even if I’ve technically “completed” them as well. I’ll use “unfinished” for when I plan on going back to play all of a game’s content, even if I’ve technically beaten it already.
Lastly, here’s my review of my favorite game, as well as an explanation of differences between all of puzzle’s sub-genres (something not many people seem to know): https://www.backlog-assassins.net/posts/db8kgjb Now edited to include a link to my review of its GB version and its postgame!
I used my Microsoft Rewards points I got from using Bing to get another month of Game Pass, though there are only two games this time I’m really interested in (the rest of the games in my list are maybes). The first was DC League of Super Pets, though that game ended up being overly easy. Seeing and avoiding incoming attacks wasn’t always fair, but your health bar is so large that even if you get hit by damn-near everything in the level, you’ll still reach the end and get at least a B rank. The only time I actually died was against the first boss…because I forgot the game has a dodge mechanic. Also, levels have long stretches of nothing, presumably to justify the speed-up mechanic (hold the A button to fly faster).
As for the other game…
Platformer. Standard left/right movement, but jumps are always a fixed-height (no short hops). You can also wall-jump (both to scale the wall and to do a long-jump away from the wall), but you have to wait for your character to start descending from your fixed-height jump before you’ll actually cling to the wall and be allowed to keep scaling or jump from the wall. Normally, these aren’t huge issues, but when the game starts having more timing-based challenges (like in chapter 5 especially), you’ll soon realize that these not-completely-responsive controls mean you have much, MUCH less time to react to sudden changes than it seems, since you can’t do a short-hop to get just a bit more altitude or wall-jump in the middle of a previous jump despite still being right up against the wall.
One of the first things you’ll notice is that this platformer takes quite a bit from Celeste, not only in which chapter-exclusive gimmicks appear where (chapter 1 has platforms that quickly move on rails when you step on them, chapter 2 has you being chased by an unkillable enemy, the final chapter gives you a mid-air dash, etc.), but also because the difficulty curve here is equally nonexistent. Level design is okay, but the only reason you’ll die more on certain rooms is because they last longer without a checkpoint or because you’re still trying to figure out their gimmick, not because they’re harder. Optional rooms can be more difficult, but this is also partly because the game doesn’t prepare you for what you need to do, making them unintuitive. One optional area in chapter 2 can only be reached if you push the jump button after walking off the platform–blatantly triggering Coyote Time–and an optional room in chapter 3 can only be completed if you figure out that the block launchers keep you on the about-to-be-launched block, even if you jump to an edge of the launcher that’s still sealed shut! The more I learned, the more I decided going back for the optional rooms I overlooked/gave up on wasn’t worth it (doesn’t help that you can only go back to three fixed points in each chapter instead of the exact room with the secret you missed).
Then, you’ll start to notice that the graphics in this precision-platformer aren’t always clear. It starts off simple: in chapter 1, the edge of thorn-covered platforms have the thorns darker and harder to see, which can kill you even if you’re 90% on the moving platform beside the vines. Then, chapter 3 has spike-covered terrain, except some of the spikes are large and stick out quite a bit further than their hitbox, to the point where you obviously have to fall through them to progress. Chapter 5 has a similar issue with its white foam sticking out further than what’ll actually hurt you. In chapter 4, the game introduces a pink flower that acts as a bounce pad…and places them among spikes, so they look more like decorations than something you can actually interact with. EDIT: Also in chapter 4 are wind gusts that you need to jump out of before they crush you against a wall, but parts of the background are white, which can make it easy to lose track of your white character.
Still, the worst parts are the time-limited segments in chapter 5. Not only do you have to deal with the aforementioned control issues, but there’s a baked-in delay for all the launcher gimmicks: the yellow boxes move with you for a bit when you land on them before finally ricocheting, the conveyor belts make you run on them for a bit before jumping will actually launch you forward, and the on-rails blocks move slowly when you step on the blue light, only boosting back to their start point when you jump off. On top of the obvious problem of forced-waiting in a timing-based challenge, this means that if you mess up (like, say, you jump too early on the on-rail block and it reaches the end and stops before your forced-full-jump gets you back on the platform), you often don’t have time for a second attempt before the hazard catches up with you and you die. Worse, the last few timing-based challenges in the chapter introduce hazard sparks that travel along the outline of platforms–which would be fine if they didn’t appear the instant you LAND on the platform, giving you no time to react and sometimes killing you outright if you happen to land on the unindicated spot where they spawn!
Oh, and despite everything, that’s not the final chapter; there’s one more afterward, though it goes back to chapter 2 difficulty. Even the timing segment at the end of the game never comes close to how difficult the chapter 5 segments are.
Overall, this one’s hard to recommend, especially since Steamdb is saying it never goes on any good sales (heck, it apparently got a price hike about a week ago!). If you’re looking for your next Celeste fix and haven’t played Sunblaze yet, definitely do that instead; it’s a better game and has better discounts. The only thing this game does better is story.
I beat Paper Mario 3D Land, but I had regular collision issues, maybe due to it aping the Paper Mario aesthetic, maybe due to it lacking the 3DS’s 3D that the original Super Mario 3D Land has. Worse, all bosses are wait-to-attack, and all have their own exclusive, unintuitive gimmick you gotta figure out before you can damage them. Also, stages are quite derivative of Super Mario 3D Land/World, so if you’ve played those games, you have little reason to play this one.
Next, I beat Psycho Waluigi, and although level design is okay for the most part, there isn’t much of a difficulty curve except for the difficulty spikes when the game throws cheap hits your way. It doesn’t help that some of the game’s issues involve its core mechanic/controls: you can’t grab enemies if they’re too close (not to mention your grabbing hitbox is the eye, not the whole cloud), and when you’re in an airplane, you can’t move up/down until your airplane is tilted all the way up/down first, even though some of the stuff the game throws at you requires you to react quickly.
And then–THEN, I beat Rockmen R: Dr. Wily’s Counterattack, and this game made me feel like I owed an apology to the last three games I beat. The game’s Metalls are so small, your shots go clear over them unless you shoot a fully charged shot, and that’s just the intro stage. Nearly all the Robot Masters have something unfair in their level: crabs that’ll abruptly fall on you while you try to jump over pits, switch-bombs that won’t appear until after the screen-transition has finished scrolling (requiring memorization or luck because nobody can react that fast), the spike-crushers from Metal Man’s stage being placed past a jump so you can’t bait it down or run through unscathed, Gilliam Knights that’ll abruptly boost onto you before you can kill them (unless you have a fully-charged shot ready to go AND anticipate when they’ll spawn), multiple cannons placed in positions where you can’t avoid their shots, the Quick Man lasers–there’s a lot. Plus, when the game isn’t being cheap, it’s being dull: a multi-screen room with no enemies and only the most basic of jumps? Yeah, that happens a few times.
Oh, and there’s no full-screen option, apparently.
You also don’t get a new password for beating any of the Wily stages, meaning you have to clear all of them in one sitting (the official games did this, too, but still). The second Wily stage has a lazy rehash of the Item 2 tunnel from Mega Man 2’s Wily stage 2, which normally wouldn’t be worth mentioning, but Wily Stage 3 also requires that you use Rush Jet, except now you’re down a bunch of energy and have to grind on the same two enemies to fill it back up. Also, the whole level requires Rush-Jetting, and it lasts so long that you’ll need to use W Tanks to refill its energy, and while the level does have two W Tanks, they don’t respawn when you die; only when you Game Over (which puts you back at the start of the level). Speaking of thoughtless copying, the first three Wily stage bosses are mediocre clones of official Robot Masters: Cut Man, Heat Man, and Air Man. Wily stage 4 was mostly okay, but the ice platforms have the same issue as the switch-bombs, and one time, I encountered a glitch where the screen transitioned twice and almost got me stuck (thankfully, I was able to kill myself to fix the bug). The final Wily stage is where you re-fight all the Robot Masters, and while you’d think this wouldn’t be that bad since weakness weapons stun the bosses in this game, this doesn’t happen for Power Man. In fact, you actually run out of weapon energy before he dies, even if all your attacks land, and the boss’s pattern is unpredictable enough that you won’t know if he’ll dig up rocks or charge forward after landing (and you kinda have to know due to how close he can get to you after he jumps). I had to use E-Tanks just to get past him, and that’s not even taking into consideration the two-phase final boss, the second of which regularly teleports to the top of the screen (where only two weapons can reach, and only one can reach reliably, and that one is Power Man’s weakness), and both phases–of course–have projectile attacks that are nearly impossible (if not actually impossible) to avoid sometimes. I only won because the game lets you replay Robot Master stages you’ve beaten so you can grind for E-Tanks (no shop in this game).
No wonder this game never got an English translation. If this was the standard back then, I can see how other games got the praise they did. Not recommended.
As you might expect from me if you’ve read some of my previous posts, I haven’t had much luck with my non-Steam games, either. The only other game I beat this time was Ikachan, and that game has pretty bland level design, with the challenge all coming from controls/physics.
I feel like I got close to beating Lyle In Cube Sector (which has a similar issue with how your cubes are always thrown in an upward arc, making it really hard to hit enemies), but I reached a point where seemingly every path was blocked by a giant cube, and I couldn’t figure out what to do with the cow since I’d still get killed by the hazard waterfall even when walking with the cow (and I’m opposed to looking up walkthroughs since games should be able to stand on their own). Still, I can at least rely on Mega Man fangames to maintain a base level of quality, right?
This plays like a typical Mega Man game, except you’ll notice very quickly that your jump arc happens faster than usual. It’s not nearly as bad as Dave Dave Dave, but it will take you a while to get used to, and even then, it’ll still get you killed occasionally. A notable consequence is: when you need to jump on a disappearing block directly above you, you have to wait dangerously late or else you’ll fall through it before it spawns and die.
Worse, underwater jumping is even more butchered. If you hold the jump button for too long, you’re forced to keep going until the height of your jump, even if it’s still a few units away and there are spikes there. Again, you have to let go dangerously early in order to make these seemingly-innocuous jumps. Thankfully, there aren’t too many underwater segments in the game.
Another significant difference is that you have less invincibility time because your stunned-knockback lasts longer. If you know Mega Man, you’ll know that boss attacks can be quick, to the point where you basically have to memorize their pattern to have a chance at avoiding their attacks. The shortened invulnerability exacerbates this problem, because now you often have next to no time to recover when you do get hit. I fought Jolt Man without his weakness power, and every time I got hit, I’d almost always get hit again if I didn’t jump right after regaining control.
You might think this is a refresh rate issue, but the game has an issue of the opposite type: your charge shot takes longer to charge than in official games. The sound effect is the same, so you’ll hear the “max charge” wobble and still end up shooting a mid-charge blast.
One thing it does accurately to the official games is the shop, but you can only buy extra lives, E-Tanks, W-Tanks, and artwork; no permanent upgrades like what Mega Man 9 and 10 offer. There are three blank slots that tell you the item is “not in stock,” but I beat the game and nothing ever showed up there, so I dunno what to tell you.
Oh, and the shop is the only place you can get those tanks; they’re never in a level like in other Mega Man games.
Now, level design. The game has an intro stage, but it’s rather empty and unnecessary; the boss can quickly jump between the left and right sides of the screen, but since you start the battle at the left side, that’s a cheap hit. The Stage Select places the cursor on Illusion Man by default, so I went after him first, and aside from the aforementioned issue with disappearing blocks and jump timing, this stage isn’t too bad. My only other major issue with it is there’s a screen where part of the ground disappears diagonally and makes you think there’s a split path, but the pink-colored bricks below the pink-colored bricks you’re standing on are actually background objects, so going in the hole kills you:
Illusion Man can spawn harmless duplicates to jump around you, but they’re only an issue when Illusion Man himself starts jumping around in the exact same way.
I tried Primal Man’s stage next, but yikes, this stage is brutal. Instead of being able to move left/right on your own like normal, you’re forced on a rail, only able to jump and shoot. Despite this, enemies still take multiple shots to kill; turns out you’re supposed to shoot their balloons to make them fall off screen, but the railroading is so restrictive that you’ll still probably get hit by their aimed shots anyway. There’s one spot in particular (right after the collectible E) where it’s next to impossible to avoid getting hit, yet getting hit stun-locks you into spikes and kills you outright. I had to come back after beating a few other Robot Masters and getting their weapons, and this part was still a struggle. The level goes back to typical Mega Man platforming afterward, maybe a bit overly bland except the last room before the boss.
One more thing I’ll praise about the game is that the Stage Select tells you which levels have a collectible letter in them, and since I noticed the collectible E seemed similarly out-of-reach with default equipment, I decided to go after the Robot Masters that didn’t have one, starting with Jolt Man. His stage has electric balls that get redirected by certain tiles, though said tiles only show a small outline of an arrow briefly before the redirection, so they can still catch you off guard. There are parts where you can shoot the tiles to change where they redirect the electricity, but very little is done with this mechanic (they never show up outside this level). The level also has Sniper Joes that shoot abruptly with no warning, and the electric plugs aren’t introduced fairly since–even though they act like Thwomps but with some outward electricity on landing–the first one is placed in a small optional path with a low ceiling. Jolt Man himself normally shoots projectiles along the ground and jumps left/right, but he can also have lightning bolts come down from above, usually when you’re already mid-jump and can’t react to them effectively.
Tune Woman’s stage also doesn’t have a good introduction for one of its unique enemies. The level starts with a drop into a hole, but if you’re too close to the wall when the screen transitions, you’ll take contact damage since the enemies are placed right where the path opens up…on both sides.
This level also has a darkness gimmick, but you don’t get a light around yourself; instead there are only small lights around domes, which you need to shoot to keep the lights active, and they don’t always show you everything you need to know about (like a unique Metall that rushes down onto a platform you’re about to land on, and is first introduced behind said darkness). If the lights dim completely, not only can you see nothing besides certain enemies and the domes, but also those robot bat enemies start zooming across the screen faster than you can react to them. Near the end of the stage, the room goes dark on its own (without the bats, thankfully), so you just gotta sit there and wait for the lights to come back on, which takes way longer than necessary.
Besides Primal Man’s stage, everything here has at least been in-line with what you might see in an official Mega Man game…but then there’s Cypher Man’s stage. It starts with a four-way split path, each only consisting of 2-3 rooms with a glowing LED for each path to indicate which of them you’ve completed. Thing is, only two of those paths have a simple switch to complete them; one path makes you match a binary code by shooting two buttons (and they aren’t just +1 and -1; you have to hit both in some combination), and the other is a freaking ROT13 puzzle, where you just have to keep shooting the up or down arrow until the word shows up and the LED comes on. Worse, Cypher Man himself incorporates the binary code into his boss battle: he’s completely shielded during this part, but can still attack you while you’re struggling to use the binary counter that you’re still not entirely sure how to work with.
Also, after every two Robot Masters you defeat, the Stage Select locks you into doing a new level with one of the Mega Man Killers from the Game Boy Mega Man games (and the Mega Man 10 DLC) as the boss, but they do have new attacks here, so it’s not a complete rehash. Ballade’s and Punk’s stages are super short, but if you die against the boss even once, you’re kicked from the level and the Stage Select goes back to normal, so the only way you can try again is to save-scum and start the level over. Enker’s stage also works the same way, but it’s a feature-length stage (complete with a mini-boss!) that you’d have to replay every single time the Mega Man Killer kills Mega Man. Plus, the stage’s bomb-dropping gimmick can sometimes glitch and not drop the bomb, and if this happens for the first bomb in the stage, your introduction to this gimmick is the second bomb, which drops on you when you’re very close to the top of the screen and can’t react to it in time.
Once you’ve cleared the Stage Select, you reach Bass’s level, which has doppelganger enemies (not Doc Robots) that briefly transform into an official Robot Master for one attack before transforming again. It’s a pretty great example of how to do homages/nostalgia bait properly, without it being a total lazy rehash, but there are a couple problems with it. For one, when it turns into Wind Man, it moves instantly, giving you no time to react, but it also has an equal chance of flying off the screen and vanishing without a trace. Also, the levels are not designed around the enemy turning into Metal Man; not only do you only have half the screen to react to both projectiles, but you’re also often fighting a literal uphill battle, making it even more difficult to avoid them. Bass himself is just a cheap copy of his pattern from Mega Man 7’s Wily Stage 1, with it only being more difficult here since there are only two spots in the arena where you can get under his jump without taking damage.
The first proper Wily stage is not only an underwater level (with this game’s butchered underwater jumping), not only does it have enemies that zoom across the screen way faster than you can react, but after the halfway point, you’re forced into an auto-scrolling segment where you’re chased by an invulnerable version of the Mega Man 2 Giant GutsMan tank. I know Mega Man 4 and 8 have their own auto-scrolling segments, but they give you full access to the entire screen, whereas here, half the screen is taken up by that tank, and between its own attacks and the enemies and pits that spawn, your window of opportunity for getting past certain obstacles is pretty small, especially if you’re not using any boss weapons. After you escape the tank, there’s a much more empty auto-scrolling segment where spikes fall from behind you, and besides the aforementioned underwater jumping, the only issue is that the room keeps scrolling after reaching the hole you need to jump into, so you might mistake it for another pit and then get trapped when the spikes fall and block the hole from you. The boss didn’t seem too bad except the whole “you can fall on it and take damage during phase transitions,” but then again, I had unlocked Beat from getting all the collectible letters, so I didn’t have to jump up to shoot it when I got to its third phase.
The second Wily stage isn’t too bad, but the boss at the end is immune to the Mega Buster, so if you’re out of the weapons you can hurt it with, you’re screwed. Proto Man shows up to help you with this fight, but even though his buster can damage the boss, he can die, so it doesn’t rectify the initial issue.
The third Wily stage brings back the on-rail mechanic from Primal Man’s stage, but it’s ironically easier here since there are fewer enemies and straighter paths. That said, it does place a Metall Blimp in your way near the end, so you gotta do trial and error to figure out which weapon can kill it in time so you’re not stun-locked into the spike again. The level’s mid-boss is mostly okay, but I’m pretty sure the physics can mess up here and have you fall straight down instead of be dragged back with the auto-scroll like normal, as my first couple attempts got me stuck between blocks and killed. The second half of the stage has those timed bombs you have to step on, but it also combines them with ice tiles, so you need to use your flame-shield power to get past the ice wall, then pause and switch to another weapon so the flame is deactivated before you land on the ice floor:
This happens a few times, and it isn’t properly built-up-to. I didn’t even know I could shoot extra flames with the flame-shield power on until I did so by accident in this level (you’re not shown how powers work like in Mega Man X). The boss is Bass again, and his pattern is mostly the same except now he suddenly has the boomerang fist from the Game Boy Mega Man V, and spikes will sometimes come down from above.
The fourth Wily stage is where you re-fight the Robot Masters, but instead of having the choice between all eight like in every Mega Man game except 1 and X, you only get to pick between two before you have to go through a carbon-copy of a segment from an official Mega Man level (enemies are slightly different, but that’s it) before reaching the next pair. This means you can’t go “Cypher Man and Jolt Man sucked, so I’ll take them out first” since they don’t show up until the third pairing. The boss at the end of the stage is similar to the doppelganger enemies in Bass’s stage in that the boss shoots projections of official Robot Masters that do one attack before disappearing, and if you shoot them enough, the boss’s actual weak point shows up for you to shoot at. It’s not bad.
The final level is pretty empty except for a few disappearing block segments. When you reach the final boss, there are two more empty screens after the checkpoint you need to walk past, then the boss has a 15+-second-long intro that can’t be skipped. The boss itself has its weak points above the ground, so you’ll need to jump to hit them, and the boss can also pop its fists in from the sides of the screen, so you’ll want to stay in the middle so you can react to them…except the boss can also abruptly shoot projectiles from its mouth, which is right where you’d be if you’re jumping to hit its weak points and staying in the center to avoid its fists!
If there’s a pattern to when he fires those shots, I never figured out what it was. I eventually broke down and just bought two E-Tanks to get through the fight, though I only ended up using one.
The boss has a second phase, except now you’re forced to use Rush Jet and a non-charging buster instead of any other powers you got in the game. Plus, the boss is a teleporting Wily Capsule that can shoot projectiles that move faster than you, meaning you have to be in the right spot and moving to the right spot to avoid the homing shots when he shoots them from the center of the screen. You also can’t get through the orbiting projectiles unscathed unless you move right when they expand their radius. I burned my other E-Tank to beat this boss.
Overall, this one’s kinda hard to recommend. It’s free and there’s a lot it does right, but sometimes it strays a bit too far from what makes Mega Man work.
I reached this game in my backlog a little over a month ago, but noticed it was STILL in Early Access, so I decided to hold off on playing it until it was done. Not long after, I encountered a second game that also promised a major update would be coming soon, so I postponed that game as well. So, you may be wondering: why did I decide to play it now, even though it’s still in Early Access? Well…
Because those two games are the last ones in my Steam backlog.
Also, since the game’s recent updates mostly concerned the level editor and cosmetic changes, I mistakenly assumed that the campaign was finished. Nope; it stops after world 3.
Platformer. Besides standard left/right movement and jump, you can do a sliding kick by pushing X on the ground and you can swap characters with right stick. The game often makes you do this on the fly, so you can push L to slow time for a couple seconds, giving you enough time to move your thumb from the face buttons to the right stick and back. Alternately, you can have the face buttons be the swap-character buttons and have the shoulder buttons be jump/attack, but that just makes things even more awkward.
Each of the four characters you swap between have unique abilities that honestly could’ve easily all been combined into a single control setup for a single character and were only split to give the devs an excuse to make you use the awkward swap mechanic. The red character can double-jump and dive-kick, the green character can float for a few seconds and bounce off spikes harmlessly, the yellow character can wall-jump four times and ground-pound, and the blue character can forward-dash and use a homing attack. Despite the need to swap between characters frequently, it manages to work pretty well for the most part. My only issue with the controls is that the blue character’s forward-dash is mapped to jump, while her homing attack is mapped to X. If you’ve played any other game, you’ll know that dash is normally mapped to a button that isn’t jump, and if you’re familiar with modern Sonic games, you’ll know they have the homing attack mapped to the jump button, making this game the exact opposite of intuitive. Even when you think you’ve finally gotten used to it, muscle memory will take over at some point and get you killed again.
Level design is pretty good. The first few levels do a decent job at ramping up the difficulty while still letting you get used to how the game controls. The only issue I had with any level in world 1 is this one level that takes place at night, so it has a dark transparency over everything that makes it kinda hard to see the mushroom enemies and their tiny shots. World 2 is still mostly good, but it introduces swimming and underwater segments, which add momentum to your left/right movement! Then there’s level 2-4, which has a blind jump where you fall down a shaft, then suddenly there’s a part of the wall that has breakable blocks you need to dash through, and if you’re not quick enough, you keep falling into a pit and die. Also, to get one of 2-4’s optional collectibles, you have to hit a switch and collect some diamonds–but not all the diamonds, just the three large ones at the top and a few in the giant cluster of little ones in the middle; if you try to get all the little ones, the timer will run out on you, but if you get all three big ones and only a few of the little ones, the game will spawn the collectible for you. Quite unintuitive.
Then there’s the boss fights. First of all, every single one of them are wait-to-attack bosses! They make you wait long enough that you’ll think you have to hit them somehow, but all your attacks just cause you to take contact damage, and you die in two hits (and dying means waiting through ALL previous attack cycles again since bosses have no checkpoints). The first boss has you float up an updraft (that can randomly spawn right next to the boss, meaning you can’t really avoid taking a hit) so you can ground pound a log that has never shown up before now, and you have to do it on the correct side or the log will ricochet away from the boss and not deal damage. The second boss does a better job at introducing what you have to do (ground pound the floor), but there’s a lot of waiting you’ll need to do between when the boss tosses the bombs you can ricochet back at it. Also, you have to hit this boss SIX times (with lots of waiting between each hit, remember!), and the arena floods after the third hit; for this part, collecting the “stay underwater” tokens in time is fine, but the boss’s dash attack is suddenly slightly higher, meaning you just barely can’t single-jump over it anymore, and getting killed because of THAT and having to redo so much waiting is really frustrating. (not to mention the techno graphics and underwater transparency make everything less distinct).
World 3 also sees its level design quality start to dip. Graphics are less distinguishing, gimmicks are less intuitive, and the optional collectibles start getting easier to miss (I never missed any until world 3, except the “don’t take damage against bosses” ones). One of the new enemies here is a rat that’ll run away from you and throw a rock in the exact right arc to hit you when you try to jump on it. There’s a jump so wide, you won’t see the next platform until you’re over the pit. Stationary spotlights stay on for too long (yes, they hurt you on contact). 3-2 introduces rocket platforms that move forward automatically and which you can guide up/down, except that has even worse momentum than swimming! Also, there’s a part where you’re just supposed to figure out that the pink bubbles that don’t really stand out from the background that much are actually bounce pads that’ll reverse the direction of your rocket platform, and if your rocket platform hits a wall instead of them, you just die outright. This world also has a mini-boss on top of a regular end-of-world boss, and of course, it’s also wait-to-attack, but worse since the length it runs before attacking is variable, so you can never be sure if it’s safe to jump over the boss or not.
Overall, this one’s hard to recommend. Not only is it unfinished, but all the bosses make you wait, with the waiting compounding upon previous boss waiting, and the level design starts to falter as well by introducing less-intuitive gimmicks and more momentum (less responsive controls). Wait for a sale, and DEFINITELY wait for the game to be out of Early Access.
So yeah, even though I’m technically not done with my Steam library, there’s not a whole lot I can do with it until those two games are updated, so you can consider this a tentative “I finished my Steam library” milestone. I still have a bunch of other games from elsewhere, so I’ll be sure to make a post when I find a game decent enough to warrant posting about.
Secrets of Deep Earth Shrine could’ve been an okay puzzle game if it weren’t for the darkness gimmick or the fact that quite a few solutions are “go back to earlier levels and grind for upgrade materials.” I gave up the third time I got all the items in a level and ran out of energy right before reaching the goal. Speaking of puzzle games that were almost okay…
Sokoban clone. You move in the four cardinal directions, one unit at a time, and can push (not pull) blocks. Fragile blocks can hold down switches just like regular blocks, but they break when pushed into water or are hit by a crossbow.
Most of the game is pretty boring, and it doesn’t help that there’s no undo. Plus, a bunch of levels lag, exacerbating the game’s issues. There’s also a chance that starting the game will cause it to lock up immediately (before it even reaches the company logos), forcing you to close it with Task Manager. There are some tricky puzzles here, but even that is undermined by the fact that a couple levels obscure crucial elements necessary for solving the puzzles, so you’ll only be stumped because you simply don’t have all the info. EDIT: For example, one level has the fence tiles (can shoot through) oriented vertically, so they look like wall tiles (can’t shoot through).
Oh, and when you beat all the levels, you’re unceremoniously booted back to the world map; no ending.
It’s free, but it’s still hard to recommend.
Puzzle game. You move on a per-unit basis, leaving a trail behind you. You have to cover exactly 80 tiles before getting the first number, at which point your trail turns into solid tiles. Then, you just have to focus on collecting each subsequent number, though you keep leaving a trail that keeps turning into solid tiles after each number you collect. Once you’ve gotten one of each number, you beat the level.
First thing you’ll notice is that the graphics are terrible. The 3D perspective looks super jarring and slapdash, and it doesn’t even show you the entire board! Thankfully, you can push Enter to swap to a top-down view; this view puts the entire board on-screen and doesn’t look as bad (but now the box you control can look a bit too similar to solid tiles).
Second thing you’ll notice is that the controls are a bit too sensitive. It’s possible to move two spaces accidentally, so you need to be quick when you tap the button if you only want to move one space. Worse, there’s no undo, so this can force a reset if it happens during the game’s more precise moments.
If you can look past those issues, there are some tricky puzzles here, though it takes until level 18 (out of 44) to start getting consistently tricky (there was only one kinda tricky level before then)…and then the difficulty goes back down from level 25 to level 36, and the only reason level 37 took me a moment to figure out is because it was just a mess of number tiles AND was the first to double the amount of numbers you need from eight to sixteen! After this, there were only four really tricky levels: 39, 41, 42, and 43, though part of what makes them hard is not only the lack of undo, but that the game makes you get the 80 tiles before getting the numbers; if you want to solve the paths between numbers first (which you kinda have to for those levels), you need to take a screenshot and draw the path out; then, you can see which tiles are leftover to account for the 80 you need to cover before getting the first number in the first place.
Adding to the shameless, slapdash feel is the fact that when you beat the last level, the stage theme keeps playing over the ending theme.
Overall, the game is pretty mediocre, but since it’s free, I can recommend it for the somewhat tricky puzzles it does have.
If you’ve ever wondered why I explain each game’s controls, it’s because of games like Astrogon that don’t have standard left/right movement. In that game, tapping left/right has your character jump in that direction, in a very specific arc. Plus, that’s the extent of your control over your character, so if you don’t time your movements exactly right, you’ll just barely brush against a hazard and die. Needless to say, I stopped playing that game not long into world 2.
Still, despite all the bad free games I play, I always come across a game like this one that reminds me they can be just as good as paid games and that my decision to stop buying games all those years ago was the right decision.
Platformer. Standard left/right movement and jump, with the X button letting you pick up and place tetronimos. Holding X while carrying a tetronimo will highlight the spot it’ll be placed if you let go in that moment, so moving while holding the button has the highlighted spot move with you.
Level design is pretty good. The first few levels do an amazing job at teaching you some of the game’s more unexpected mechanics through level design alone, which is quite impressive. A few of the later introductions could’ve benefitted from a redesign, though, like the level that’s supposed to teach you that crabs can hit switches: the first switch in the level has a tetronimo placed on it that prevents the crab from reaching and pressing it, so you just kinda have to guess that’s what the crab can do before moving the tetronimo out of its way. The game also keeps introducing obstacles as the game progresses, and they kinda get abandoned until the last couple worlds, so it does take a bit for the difficulty curve to start ramping up (world 6 was when I first felt challenged). The puzzle elements are pretty light, so most of the challenge is from making tricky jumps, though there were a few times where I had to stop and think for a few seconds.
My only major issue is that the final level has a darkness gimmick, where you can only see around yourself and other tetrominos, so it’s just a bunch of trial and error to see where the death-puddles are and which switch toggles which blocks.
That said, overall, it’s not bad for a free game. I recommend it.
I beat Kao the Kangaroo 4, and it has the greatest innovation any beat-em-up/platformer hybrid has made: letting you run past the beat ‘em up parts! Kidding aside, the game does start having more mandatory combat segments as you progress, and then you start noticing that the platforming never evolves past world 1 difficulty, and then you notice the new enemies are just reskins of old enemies and that the beat-em-up segments don’t evolve, either. Bosses are also simplistic and boring, only giving you trouble due to finnicky mechanics like when you have to knock the second boss’s projectiles back at it, but the shot falls vertically and is small and disappears when it hits the ground and your attack to knock it back is also short-range. Besides finnicky stuff like that, the only time I got tripped up was when the game had what looked like a small dead end, but rotating the camera 180 degrees revealed a ladder above the entrance that you wouldn’t be able to see otherwise. Not recommended.
I did beat a good game afterward, though:
Platformer. Left/right move, A double-jumps, and your forward-dash is mapped both to B and X. You can also duck, but that’s only ever useful approximately three times, including optional levels. The game has a bunch of different gimmicks, each of which are segregated between the game’s six chapters, and there are green cubes you can collect to unlock “hard mode” levels that are actually a completely new set of 12 levels for each chapter. If that description reminds you of Celeste, don’t worry; letting go of forward actually stops you immediately, even in midair! Dashes are always a fixed-length and can’t be interrupted, but again, if you’re not holding forward, you don’t keep moving forward when the dash is over (unless you jump while dashing, but IIRC that’s never needed since regular forward jumping is about as fast). Jumps are also always a fixed height (no short hops), which is fine for the most part, but there are a few times where you need to do some awkward movements since you need to jump, but also need to avoid something you’d hit at the peak of your jump.
Another thing you can do is grab on platform-ledges and nooks in walls, but the window for doing this is quite precise. Obviously if you’re a pixel too low, you miss even if it looks like you shouldn’t, but if you’re too high, you get blocked by the platform’s upper corner and need to fall down a bit before you grab onto it. You can also climb onto platforms form this hanging position–not by pushing up, but by pushing forward. Sure, you don’t need to push forward to grab the ledge since that happens automatically as long as you’re directly beside the wall when you reach the correct elevation, but you sure as heck need to hold forward to reach the ledge in the first place, which makes it easy to accidentally climb into spikes due to having only a split second between grabbing and climbing. It takes some getting-used-to, to say the least.
Side note: if you’re dashing when you collide with the upper corner of a platform, instead of stopping and falling like normal, you clip on top of the platform and keep going until your dash is up–even if there’s spikes on the platform, in which case you also die.
Level design is pretty good. The first three chapters are usually pretty good about introducing their gimmicks safely, but afterward, it’s a toss up, as gimmick introductions tend to have enough danger around that you’ll likely die a couple times just trying to figure them out. Some levels require tricky movements before the game has trained you enough to know said moves are doable (like maybe you need to jump further than you realize can be done in order to save collapsing blocks for later), but most levels are designed in a way that makes it clear what you have to do as long as you take a moment to look around. This actually leads into my next praise: every level is only one screen large, so there are no surprises that come from a scrolling screen. You can always take your time to plan out your moves instead of being forced to react to new things quickly…for the most part. See, a bunch of levels have crucial objects (spikes, springs, etc.) completely covered up by other, larger objects (like collapsing blocks or TNT), so you won’t see them until after you get the other thing out of the way–but by then, you’ve likely planned out moves that don’t involve the unseen objects and will likely have to restart the level with your new knowledge. I sent the devs an e-mail asking them to change this, so hopefully it’ll be fixed by the time you play.
Collectible cubes can also be obscured behind objects in the same way, making those ones easy to miss, but that’s as unintuitive as those cubes get. Most of them are in plain view as soon as the screen is loaded, and even if you miss one, the stage select clearly identifies which level has a cube you missed, so you can go straight to the level in question and only have to worry about what it might be hidden behind. This is a massive improvement over how Celeste hid its own B-side levels–and dare I say even how it hid some of its strawberries–since you don’t have to worry about hidden split paths; everything is right there on screen, even if you have to move something else out of the way to see it. Just remember to save the Hard mode levels until after you beat all the Normal mode levels to maintain the game’s difficulty curve. Yup, this game has an actual difficulty curve as well (barring the occasional difficulty spike), unlike…you know.
Unfortunately, the layering issue isn’t the only graphical problem. First one of these you’ll notice is that collapsing blocks are the same color as solid tiles in multiple chapters–including Chapter 1, when you’re still getting used to everything. Their pattern/shape isn’t that different, either, and can result in some nasty surprises when you’re not expecting it. What’s really baffling is that in Chapter 4, collapsing blocks are a completely different color than solid tiles, so I don’t get why they didn’t do this for the whole game. The only reason this isn’t a bigger issue is because by Chapter 5, practically every block is a collapsing block, so you begin to expect to have to move quickly until you reach the goal.
Speaking of Chapter 5, there are a couple graphic issues there as well. Like other chapters, this one has its own tileset, but it’s one that makes nooks in walls hard to notice unless you’re looking right at them. This is because the blocks’ bright outline is thick enough that the nook never reaches the dark center of the tileset, and since the background is similarly bright, the two can blend together. Also, one of the gimmicks in this chapter is a powerup that turns you into a fireball (move forward automatically, push A to flip between moving diagonally up and diagonally down–or use up/down so you don’t accidentally flip twice), and being in fireball-mode causes everything to glow white…including formerly-harmless waterfalls, which kill you in fireball mode. They really should have had them glow a distinct color in fireball-mode, not only to make them easier to see, but also to hint towards their sudden lethality.
Still, I was willing to forgive all these issues because of how much the game gets right, but then I made it to the Chapter 4 boss. See, one of the gimmicks is that certain levels have power generators you need to destroy by dashing into them, and this boss is themed after a power generator. It’s also the first boss (of two) in the game, so your only frame of reference are said power generators. Thing is, dashing into the boss does nothing. The logical progression is that all other power generators were oriented vertically, but the boss is oriented horizontally, so maybe you need to time the bouncing platform to hit the boss from below, except doing that just got me killed. After several failed attempts, I looked up a walkthrough (the only time I did so for this game), and it turns out you have to grab onto the boss like a platform, causing it to fall down like a collapsing block and causing its weak point to appear, and that is what you dash into to damage the boss. The closest you get to a hint for this in-game is that the symmetrical arena has a corner opening above the boss, but that could just as easily be decoration since the solid tiles staircase upward going toward the top-center of the screen. The boss has a second phase, which is much more intuitive since it’s basically a regular level, but now you have to wait on the giant worm boss to move out of your way.
The second (final) boss is better by default, but bosses are not this game’s strong suit. The first phase is just four electric balls going up and down while the boss shoots at you, but you have to go back and forth across that same setup several times since the boss’s new weak point keeps appearing on the opposite side of where you are. Its second phase is just another standard wait-to-attack pattern-memorization boss, where even though you die in one hit and the boss’s three different patterns are very similar to each other, you still have to do it all in one go.
Beating all the normal mode levels unlocks a seventh chapter called “The Lost Levels.” I’m convinced that this chapter consists of levels that were cut from the main game because it has its own difficulty curve, going back to being very easy at the beginning and slowly going through each previous chapter’s themes and gimmicks (though it does have a couple new gimmicks of its own, and its own difficulty spikes). There’s even at least one level where an entire chunk is optional, adding credence to my “cut levels” hypothesis since that could have been where a collectible cube was placed (The Lost Levels doesn’t have any cubes or its own hard mode). Beating all the Hard mode levels just gets you an achievement for each chapter; you don’t unlock anything or even get so much as a “congratulations on beating all the Hard mode levels!” message.
Overall, this is a similar case to the game I previously posted about in that it was really close to being really good, but missed the mark due to various issues and a problematic boss fight. Still worth getting on sale, though.
P.S. Hard mode levels have their own gimmick on top of reusing their chapter’s normal mode gimmick. For chapter 2’s hard mode, the new gimmick is auto-dash spaces, and for whatever reason, these do give you some momentum, but the levels are usually designed in a way so this isn’t much of an issue. In contrast, Chapter 5’s hard mode introduces spiked drones that chase you during fireball mode–the mode where you have little control over your movement. Again, it’s fine for the most part, but there are a couple times where you need to be very precise with where you move, even though the game doesn’t properly prepare you for this.
2D Metroidvania. Besides standard left/right move and jump, you have a short melee attack (X button). You’ll also unlock three different abilities that you switch between by pushing L (not R) and activate by holding up and pushing the attack button. However, not only does each ability have a cooldown when 2/3 have no reason for it (EDIT: and the last one is still debatable), but they also use the same resource, so if you use one ability, you have to wait for the meter to refill before you can use a different ability. Their cooldowns last different amounts of time as well, with the third power (the projectile attack) making you wait the longest.
Level design is pretty good. There are a bunch of bland rooms, but that’s to be expected in the backtrack-centric genre that is Metroidvanias, and there are plenty of challenge-focused rooms to help give the game a somewhat-stable difficulty curve. There are a few puzzles in here as well, but they’re all pretty easy (even if you count all the fake walls and fake spikes as “puzzles”). There are a couple hiccups, though, like certain obstacles being introduced in less-than-ideal circumstances (will the bubbles let you stand on them or will they pop and bounce you? also why do they take a few seconds to spawn despite no visible spawn point?). The worst is that your block-summon ability can work on upward-facing spikes just fine, but urchin-shaped spikes will kill your block outright! That got me killed when it first happened and still took me a while to get used to.
Map design is okay. I never got lost or confused on where I had to go (the in-game map helps), and even though previous areas don’t always lead into their next area, the game does have warp points that help avoid the worst. The room layouts also do a decent job of implying where secrets/fake tiles are so you don’t miss too many items on your first run through an area. Still, it does have my biggest pet peeve with Metroidvanias: areas having optional items behind late-game roadblocks solely so you have a reason to go back to that area. I don’t know if Metroidvanias were always like this or if I’ve just been spoiled by the best of the best, but I always thought the idea was you’d naturally end up in an earlier area through basic story progression and think “hey, I can get this item now that I have this power!” instead of “oh, I finally got the power I need to go back and get this item that’s now super out of my way.” At least it’s only done with the optional items, though; I was able to get all the mandatory items on my first pass.
Sadly, the bosses are a huge nosedive in quality. For one, they all make you wait before you can deal one point of damage, then they make you wait some more. Even the ones that are technically always vulnerable have a tendency to idle in near-impossible-to-reach places for just long enough that trying to go after them there results in you taking damage from their next move and/or not making it there in time. Even still, the first boss is okay and the third boss is tolerable.
The second boss, however, is the worst one. On paper, it seems reasonable since its movement and attacks are slow, but it falls apart when you compare it to what your own character is able to do. First thing the boss does is summon a shield of orbiting projectiles just wide enough that your melee attack can’t get through without you touching the projectiles and taking damage. Then, it walks back and forth across the arena, so you need to use your bubble power to jump over the boss and avoid its shield-projectiles when it stops walking and shoots you. You’re probably thinking you can finally safely get a hit in now, right? Nope; the boss starts walking again, and its walk speed is just slightly faster than your own. Plus, the bubble power (which you need to use to jump over the boss) won’t let you walk through it; it’s sides act as solid walls, thus giving the boss even more time to catch up to you and subsequently making a hit-and-run nonviable. After some more walking, the boss stops in the center of the room and summons spouts from the left side to the right side, and since you’d naturally be on the right side at this point, it’d seem like you’d have enough time to summon a bubble and jump over the spouts…except your bubble rises even slower than the spouts do, and the spouts go quite high up, so you can only really avoid damage by knowing what’s coming and summoning the bubble early. After several deaths, I finally won when I stopped trying to avoid everything and just took damage on purpose so I could get more hits in.
The fourth and fifth bosses aren’t much better. Both of these bosses disappear for a while–making it completely unambiguous that you HAVE to wait–and the fourth boss only appears across a pit, forcing you to use your projectile spell to hit it. However, one of the fourth boss’s attacks is a close-knit spread shot that sweeps across the room, so the only way to avoid it is to summon a green block…which you can’t do if you’re waiting on your lengthy projectile-spell’s cooldown. But hey, you can always summon the green block in advance and leave it in a spot you can return to…but then you need to make sure that the boss’s other attack (two lightning bolt projectiles that are shot at your last known position) doesn’t collide with it because that’ll destroy your block and force you to summon another one (after waiting on your projectile’s cooldown from when you attacked the boss, of course). Also, the boss can summon bat enemies that fly towards you, and while you can easily take them out with your melee attack, it turns out said melee attack can also destroy your summoned block(!), and the available platforms are small enough that you don’t have much room to attack without hitting it. Combine all these details, and the fight is less a boss fight and more trial-and-error/figuring out the right sequence of inputs that’ll let you and your block avoid damage.
The final boss also has a close-knit spread shot that sweeps the arena, but each projectile can kill your block, so that attack is about trial-and-error figuring out where to place the block so it creates an opening you can slip through. Once you get that down, the rest of the fight is quite easy; it’s really just more waiting for the boss to teleport to the bottom where you can actually attack it. On my last try, I even beat the final boss without taking any damage and was disappointed there was no second phase.
Overall, this game could’ve been really good if the bosses had been tweaked and the spell cooldown was removed, but as is, I think it’s still worth picking up on sale.
P.S. Apparently, the NES port has extra content, so maybe play that version instead? That said, the map I found for it on GameFAQs seems identical to what I played here, so I dunno. Can someone who’s played both confirm/deny?
I beat Gun Devil shortly after my last post, and although I do think it’s an okay game overall (especially since it’s free), the game does have its fair share of problems (such as laser beams being active for a bit too long, cheap hits only indicated by tiny, barely-animated ground tiles, etc.), and the game ends with a message basically saying that it was planned to be longer, and that the dev might finish it if given enough attention/feedback. Does that mean it’d be better to wait for the hypothetical finished game that maybe also fixes some of the issues with this version, or is this all it’ll ever be? Would saves be compatible, or would the player have to beat those eight levels again?
Plus, since the game’s short, I figured I could combine it with a post about another game, but since my luck with games has gone back to being…average, I figured I should go ahead and get it out there.
Hack ‘n’ Slash/Platformer hybrid. Left/right move, A jumps, X does normal attacks, Y does special moves, and B dashes. If you find a subweapon, you use it with the R button. The game does the Smash Bros thing where your different attacks are neutral, up+atack, and down+attack. I played on Standard difficulty.
The core gameplay is your standard “lock you in a room until you beat all the enemies,” but it sets itself apart from other hack ‘n’ slash games that pretend to be platformers by having some actual pitfalls you need to avoid during the battles! That said, it kinda tapers off after the second level so it ends up just being the enemies and some ground that’s higher than the other ground. Plus, I think the main reason the game even gave me platforming as far as the second level was because the game randomly put me in the Seer room who offered to make the level “harder”–and of course, the game never explains what “harder” means (in this case, it also meant “lots of barely-visible traps”).
Oh yeah, the game is also part roguelite. The rooms you end up in are randomly chosen, and they can even be the same as a room from a previous level (with the only real difference being what enemies spawn through the portals). Levels are broken up into six sections and the boss, with each section consisting of around three or four rooms, and if you die, you have to start the whole level over again.
There are five different characters (you unlock a new one for each level you beat, except the final level EDIT: and the second level), and although they all play differently, part of these differences are due to the devs deliberately making the controls less responsive (or worse in some other way). The first two characters can only attack once in mid-air, the second character’s weapon hitbox is at the end of the weapon (meaning it’s entirely possible for your attack to go THROUGH an enemy without damaging it), and both have a slight delay between when you hit the button and when your attack actually happens. The 3rd and 4th characters finally let you move and jump while attacking, but the third character has a half second delay before you can attack again, and the fourth character has the shortest attack range of them all (EDIT: the 4th character’s Y attacks are longer range, but weaker (unlike all other characters’ Y attacks which are stronger) and they force-drag you to the enemy’s position on hit). The fifth character has an actual projectile weapon by default, but it can run out of ammo, and you have to use your neutral-Y to reload because your up-Y and down-Y are also attacks that consume ammo. Plus, the fifth character has the lowest jump and shortest dash, so you have to compensate by shooting downward to boost yourself up further. On top of this, you can’t move/jump while reloading, so that’s back.
The rest of the game can also be kinda cheap. Despite your first two characters having delayed attacks, enemy attacks happen instantly, sometimes without any warning (such as the flying green enemies that’ll immediately shoot downwards once they get directly above you). The worst are the ghosts, because not only do they home in on you, they do so very quickly, and their hitbox doesn’t extend to the bottom part of their sprite, meaning it’ll look like your shot connects but it goes through harmlessly anyway.
Still, the game wasn’t too bad at this point, and I even made it far enough to unlock all the characters, so what made me give up? Turns out, the game treats the final level quite a bit differently than the others. First, it isn’t part of the stage select; you have to pick another level and go through at least one enemy wave there before you can transfer over. Secondly, enemies in the final level are much more damage-spongy and deal a lot more damage to you than normally, making the game’s already cheap elements that much worse. Plus, the game suddenly decides to go hard on the platforming side of things (despite how underdeveloped it is in the rest of the game), with large gaps between platforms and even parts where you have to fall below a floating wall and dash upward on the other side to progress…all while being hounded by enemies that are very much not built around being part of a game with level design. Oh, and instead of being screen-by-screen arenas, the level scrolls, making the cheap moments that much more sudden. It’s here you realize why the game keeps telling you that “dying” takes away your powerups, and why getting game over tells you how many “runs” you did, and why the final level can only be accessed from another level (EDIT: and why the game stresses that you “can’t go back” after entering the final level even though dying sends you back just like normal): you’re fully expected to GRIND to get past this part. See, it’s not just dying, but ending your run at all that takes away your upgrades, including the larger upgrades that drop from bosses (the ones implied to be permanent since that’s right before the game saves). You wanna take a break? Powerups gone. Wanna try out that new character you just unlocked? Powerups gone. Normally, this isn’t an issue since enemy strength always goes back to 1 at the start of a fresh run (and your unlocked stages remain unlocked), but the game makes sure you know that enemy strength in the final level is 4, meaning you’d have to replay over half the game in one sitting (without dying!) to be at the level the game expects you to be at.
I tried six times to beat that level without grinding, and on my last attempt, I finally made it to the third section of the level, where the game suddenly decided to have the final boss hover on the right side of the screen, invulnerable, and shoot lasers at me while I had to traverse the level’s usual platforming + enemy section. The boss’s lasers are foreshadowed by a thin beam for about a second or two, but since the boss tracks your location, the only surefire way to avoid the main beam is to dash vertically right before the beam is fired–again, while also dealing with the platforming and the regular enemies. Problem is, I didn’t notice any secondary warning for when the beam is about to fire, so it’s still pretty ambiguous with the long delay between foreshadow and attack. It killed me in three hits (EDIT: despite me having 25% more than max HP due to a powerup), and the only way to try again was to redo both previous sections of the level in one go, so I decided I’d had enough instead.
This could’ve been an okay game if the final level wasn’t such a massive difficulty spike that forces you to redo so much if you die (and can kill you so quickly).