Страници

четвъртък, 3 август 2017 г.

Kingsway - Is this the dream operating system?




Kingsway is a roguelike game, coming from Adult Swim and Andrew Morrish. The game did not look like that much to me, but it made some noise so I decided to try it and see what all the ruckus is about.



This Good old Roguelike is...


The game starts pretty standard - you choose a face for your character, class(warrior, rogue, wizard, beastman(the exact name escapes me) ), name and you are ready to go. Kingsway take place on the map of the world and you will move between nodes on it. Even if you enter a dungeon the movement system remains the same. While moving between nodes you will have the chance to have an encounter. Either with another wanderer which will give you some options to interact with him or you will encounter a monster. When the encounter is finished and you are not dead(which might happen with both types of encounters) you continue to your destination. Your goal lies to the East and while nothing stops you to rush to there, you will probably die if you try to. And while on the topic if you die you are death for good(for bad I guess, but...), but you can leave something for your next character who is brave enough to venture into Kingsway. 

Kingsway is so rouguelike-ish that even its graphics are in retro pixel style.





 ...not like the others?


If you want your game to be seen and people to talk about it(which Kingsway managed) you need to do something if not unique at least different enough. The different about Kingsway is that it is like an OS. Yes, you read that right. Everything is happening in windows on the desktop of a retro OS. Your Inventory is a folder, Start menu is the Main Menu of the game, your quests come as e-mails, progress while traveling and attacking is shown with loading bars, etc. And you can open all these helpful windows all at the same time and just put them around the map or order them in any way you want on your desktop effectively ordering the UI of the game in the most comfortable for you way. 




But the most interesting part is the battles. When you encounter an enemy he will pop up on your desktop into a separate window with a picture of the monster and your skills as buttons at the bottom. Here comes the tricky part - the monster window unlike any other windows will not stay stationary letting you choose skills and hit the monster. Oooh, no..it will move and bounce around making it really hard for you to click that skill button and because that is not enough some enemies and traps will throw projectiles at you which in their turn will pop up in little moving windows with "avoid" button on them and you will have to click it if you do not want to get hit. It is really, really chaotic and tough. It takes more than little to get good at this game.






Conclusion


While the fighting mechanic is unique indeed and there are huge amounts of nostalgia with its pixel graphic style and retro OS-like environment, Kingsway has nothing much else to offer.You make a character, make a run find cool items, reach fairly far, you die. Rinse and repeat. Now do not get me wrong all roguelikes are like that and I like the genre as I have said many times. It is just that the game did not seemed that different or original to me. It felt like any other(good) roguelike out there. That may be good thing or not, depending on what you are looking for. 

Where to find:

Official site
Steam Store
GoG
Humble Store

вторник, 18 юли 2017 г.

ABZU - A dive into a beautiful world



I have always been afraid of deep waters. When someone mentions how deep is the Maraiana Trench the hair on my neck stands up. The lone thought of such depth terrifies me. And ABZU did not help me with this problem. It might even made it worse. But you have no idea what is ABZU, sorry. Come, let me show you.





ABZU is "experience" a lot like Journey (after all it's from the same director), but underwater. Because of this here and now I will say THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS!!!!!! Knowing that let us continue.




In the game you are scuba diver who awakes in the middle of the sea. There is only water around you. Water filled with life. If you are sea life enthusiast this is probably a game for you. You will see all kind of known, unknown and supposedly extinct sea life while you explore the vast seas of the world (which is probably Earth, bearing in mind that the animals you meet have earthly names).




But I derailed. What is ABZU about? That is for sure left for debate, but you will find two lost civilizations under the waters, both of which not in their prime, but with a lot of mystery surrounding them. Following a mysterious shark you will learn more and more about both, their clash and their differences and in the end you will stand against one of them. For good or for bad there are no choices in the game and while there are some puzzles they are more than trivial and will give you no problems. It is purely an experience in a world which you will have hard time to see otherwise.

Here I really want to tell you a lot about ABZU, share with you my thoughts about the story and what you will find under the sea, but all this will ruin your experience, so I will not do it. Here I can tell you how colorful and alive the world is, but I already said that. I can mention each specie you will meet, but that will tell you nothing about the game. Or go and talk how gracious you are, like a fish, but...I was not like that, mainly because the reversed controls. 
So I will stop here and leave you to find out more about the world on your own. But before that...few downsides.




First is the Menu of the game. It's not only the fact that it lacks some general settings like details levels, controls or even volume options, but every change in it requires a restart. Imagine you have a weaker machine and you are tweaking the game so it can run smoothly on your computer. This will be like ten restarts. The other thing which annoyed me is the fact ABZU is not patched since release and it does need some tweaks here and there. Not to mention while it is a beautiful game it has a peculiar graphic style which did not made me think the game will feell so heavy on my machine.



Conclusion

ABZU is exploration "experience"-like game in which you will dive in a vibrant, full of life world accompanied by beautifully written music. There you will discover the mysteries of two ancient civilizations. I cannot say for sure is it at the level of Journey as I have never played it, but people say while it is good, it is not as good as Journey. 
ABZU is a treasure if you are into scuba diving. You will swim along giant turtles, orca whales and even dinosaurs believed to be extinct for millions of years. The game has provocative story and ending, leaving a lot of space for pondering and discussion. 
It is a beautiful game, but I am not sure you will be impressed by it if you have played Journey, so play this first. 

Where to find: 

четвъртък, 13 юли 2017 г.

Dead Cells - Pixel jewel of hardship





Disclaimer: Dead Cells is still in Early Access.


Dead Cells is a rougelite game by Motion Twin. In it you are a headless prisoner who is trying to escape the prison? Or should I say you are a head using a body? Why are you escaping? How you got there? Those are question not explained by the game - the mysteries of Early Access. 






Despite being in early access Dead Cells offers quite the finished product gameplay-wise and lacks only more levels, story and real end. What it offers? Read on.


As in every roguelike/lite you have only one life. When you die, you start from the beginning and you lose money, stat upgrades and any items you have found or bought during the run. But Dead Cells also has a progression system to make the grind easier. When you kill monsters, you will get souls and between every two levels you will meet The Collector and be able to permanently upgrade items. After that you will be able to fully heal and fill your life flask (in case you have unlocked it) and then next level. As you can see almost classical roguelite formula. 





Unlike many games of the genre Dead Cells is not turn based. Instead it is metroidvania action-platformer combined with souls-like combat. So be ready to do some dodging! Honestly while I am huge turn-based fan the action platforming is done really well in the game and makes the grind not so tedious as you zap through the first levels and get to the interesting part quicker. Not to mention that the platformer gives freedom for a lot more interesting boss fights. 

Conclusions




It is impossible for Dead Cells to not remind you of the Souls series as it shares a lot of similarities to the evillest game ever (which is not a roguelike). In each fight, you should be careful. Boss or not everything can kill you easily because of this there is a lot of dodging. The boss fights are hard, but epic. And probably the best, bearing in mind you will see the same zones again and again, you can skip big chunks of the levels just by running, ignoring the enemies and mini bosses. In the spirit of the recently ended GDC I predict that we will see Dead Cells there as soon as it is out. 




Dead Cells has only one downside and that is its Early Access state, because of which you do not get enough for the price (Right now you can beat it for hour or two, the end is obviously work in progress and if you are not a completionist you will have nothing to do once you reach the end.). My advice is to wait until it is released and then enjoy the great game it will be. 

Where to find:

Official site

Steam

събота, 24 юни 2017 г.

Quick Opinion: Has-been Heroes, Old Man's Journey, Outland

After short content break we are back with a quick opinion about few interesting games. Some of which are older some of which are new. Here we go!



Old Man's Journey



I had really hard time with telling what this game is, so I decided to call it...a journey. And the more I think about it, the more I like this definition. You play an old man who receives a letter contents of which you don't know, bit this letter pushes you to go on a journey not only through the country, but also through your memories. Because of this I feel like this game is a personal experience something which you want to experience alone and see for yourself. The Old Man journeys alone and one's memories are something also personal and something you want to sometimes review alone.
First I want to say something here just so I do not forget it. Old Man's Journey is fabulously looking game. So colorful with rich pallets fitting to every mood and moment of the game. The game is visual feast. That said let me tell you how the game works as there are also some interesting mechanics in this small two hours game.
Old Man's Journey is separated in chapters and in each chapter you need to "find" a memory. To achieve this you need to traverse the area by solving puzzles. All puzzles are connected to the main mechanic of the game - you have the ability to change the landscape of the area by moving hills around and making them lower or higher. There is even slight color coding indicating that you can move the different parts of the hill to different altitudes. For example you can move one part of a hill (color x) higher and another lower (color z) which is impossible to do with single color hills. Using this and by aligning hill's altitude you will need to find ways around fences, herds of sheep, waterfalls and even scale cliffs or make way for a train.

Old Man's Journey is amazing, charming, filled with bittersweet feelings small game which might make you think about life in different light. Give it a chance it is barely a two hours journey each minute of which is worth it.






Has-been Heroes


By the creators (Frozenbyte) of one of my favorite platformers - Trine comes Has-been Heroes.  Has-been heroes is a party based real time RPG with tactical pause and roguelike elements. But this is not accurate description so do not quote me on it. "What is it then?" you ask well... Here comes the hard part, but let me try. You are three heroes which are trying to escort two princesses to school (mhm, exactly...). You do that by moving between points on the map and on each point you can find different things - shops, treasure, special items like keys or candles or rest camps etc. You cannot backtrack! You cannot visit a place where you have been already so you will have to plan from where you want to go. On the maps you will also find fights. Which are what the game shines with. 
When you engage into battle you will have to either survive for certain time or defeat all enemies. Here comes the interesting part of the game. Your opponents have stamina and if you want to damage them you need to drain their stamina by hitting them. The thing is when you manage to damage the health of an opponent he is knocked back and his stamina RESETS. It does not matter how damage you deal when you hit stamina. One hit will remove one stamina. The interesting part and the one thing you will need to learn and get used to it is the tactical lane based aspect of the game. Each hero has a lane and enemies coming at him/her. When one hero attacks and strikes he is not on his position and while it is empty you can swap him with another character which now can attack the same opponent combo-ing the two. Basically you want to drain the enemy stamina and then hit them as hard as you can to deal as much damage as you can. 
At the end of each map there is a nasty, nasty boss. You lose the game when ONE of your heroes die. How they die? Heroes also has stamina and when something reaches them it hits them reducing their stamina. Heroes’ stamina is not recovered between battles. 
There is a lot to get used to and learn in the game as it has quite unique approach. But there is also possible to not like the battle system and therefore hate the game. Another downside is how hard the boss is and if you do not manage to beat him in few runs you will feel like the game is not progressing at all. But if you manage to beat him and get his 80+ unlocks well that is a different story.

Has-been heroes has intriguing battle system, but sadly I did not saw anything else in the game which to keep me playing it. Also go and watch a video of it, it is impossible to explain how the game works with words alone.



Outland


Now I know that Outland is a bit older than the other two, but I always wanted to cover or remind you of old but good games so here it is - Outland. In Outland you are a simple boy which escapes from the hut of his teacher and goes on an adventure led by mystical light. On this adventure he will need to rediscover the powers of hero of old, because a horror is upon this world. The game sports very interesting art style, but what is really interesting about the game is its core mechanic which is color switching. Outland is puzzle platformer with bullethell moments, but all this is mixed up with your ability to change your affinity between blue and red. Everything in the game is related to those two colors. For example red projectiles can be absorbed if you are red, but blue enemies can be damaged only by red. Also there are color coded platforms - you will be able to stand on blue while you are blue and you will fall through them if you are red. Now this does not sound that cool but the game will force you to dynamically change colors while jumping, fighting or dodging obstacles which creates amazing dynamic gameplay keeping you on the edge all the time.


While not impressive with its story or visuals Outland is great action platformer and while might be a bit too hard for people not experienced in the genre it can offer some really good fun to fans of platformers. 

Oh...and it has co-op.



четвъртък, 18 май 2017 г.

Battle Brothers - No mounts, but plenty of blades



Men sweating, blades singing, blood, screams and flying limbs...your band is broken you just have seen the captain fall. You are in charge now.

This is how Battle Brothers starts. You barely manage to get away from the last battle with nothing more than three men, some money and few provisions. But you are not desperate, being the experienced mercenaries you are you know the company can be rebuild. And you will have to...or die.



Battle Brothers is a turn based RPG game where you command and manage a company of mercenaries, trying to recover the band to its former glory. To do that you will need to hire new men, acquire money, items and most of all reputation.  How? By traveling. A lot of traveling. To get all of the other things you will need money. Money come from contracts and contracts are found in towns, but once you complete a contract there is no guarantee there will another in the same town so you will need go to another. At the beginning you are barely known band of ruff-raffs which will chase robbers and escort caravans for little money. The loot will not be good either, but probably will be better than the farmer clothes your new recruits are wearing. Mentioning those guys...


New Recruits


When you arrive into a town you will be able to visit few different locations including smith, market, chapel, tavern, volunteers and few others, but the ones mentioned are the ones you will visit most and find in most towns. I am sure you can imagine what most of those are used for, so I will tell you more about the one where you will find yourself often - volunteers. In each town depending on its size mainly you will find different kind and number of men who have decided that the life of a mercenary is better than whatever they have been doing. Each volunteer has price, upkeep cost and biography. The biography is always the same for all men of a single type(all farmhands will have the same biography.) so it is not really that useful when you are hiring someone. All in all is a wild guess what abilities the man you are hiring will have(they can even have disadvantages like tiring quickly or eating more), but you still can guess some things. 



For example a trader is not very good in the shieldwall as he is weak. A priest will not flee easily, because of his hard resolve, but he is not used to fighting etc. In bigger settlements you will find better man. Some of them will come with good equipment or will even have few levels under their belt, but they will cost a lot more. The more men you have the more money you will need to pay them and more food you will need while on the road. The maximum size of your company is 20 men, but you will find yourself expanding slowly because of the scarce resources you have and the fact that you will lose men from time to time. And while it is easy to just go hire 1-2 new guys and put on them the equipment of their dead comrades you will notice that guys who are 4-5th level are a lot more useful than inexperienced new recruits. Not to mention that the game scales to really high levels of difficulty and you will need to train different men into different things so they can take on different roles on the battlefield. Making characters "specialize" so to say will make losing characters at later stages even harder to compensate for. It is kind of the Darkest Dungeon case where each level of a character make him/her more and more valuable and irreplaceable.


To battle!


And little by little we get to the main attraction -  battles. In battle as in the whole game your characters are represented by cute pawns, but that is pretty much all the cuteness you will see in this game. The battles are turned based and take place on hexagonal battlefields ridden with terrain obstacles which you will have to take in consideration during battle. Those include different terrain height which will affect damage and hit rating; trees which will block line of sight and even tall grass which is able to fully hide enemies and allies alike. But the things to keep in mind continue. 



Against different opponents different tactics work. If your enemies are undead or wild beasts pike wall is great. If they are humans you will have to advance as they will not throw themselves at the spears. Also when you are against armored opponents certain weapons work better etc. Also during battle you need to keep an eye on your brothers's resolve as if it drops they might flee. Many things affet resolve - being surrounded, seeing ally fall, seeing some being incapacitated.  You can even, no you will have to use formations and specialize troops to do different roles during battle. Or in other words the battles are complicated and will need deep strategizing if you want to win. Not to mention there are also crisis which when happen enemies become more numerous and start to raid cities and caravans. Making a well armed and skilled party very important if you want to survive the crisis. 



Conclusion


Battle Borthers is ok looking game. No flashy effects, no high detailed models, nothing visually impressive. But oh my how deep is this game! You will have to manage your company, be careful what brothers you hire, to have enough money, food and supplies. Which brothers you will take to battle, who will you hire, how will you arm them, what formation you will use. There is a ton of things, ridiculous amount of depth. The biggest downside for me was the lack of overarching story, but you can easily make your own. You will meet enough strong enemies, you will have more than enough epic battles to do so if you want to. You will even have the chance to get into a war between the royal families. Plenty of material to make your own story. Another nitpick which might turn people away is the low fantasy profile of the game. You will fight orcs, goblins and undead, but there is very little magic in the world of Battle Brothers.



If I have to compare Battle Brothers to another game it is definitely Mount and Blade with bigger focus on the fights and turn-based, but similar in many ways. Great, sadly niche game which will not get the attention it deserves. It is hard, it is far from casual and takes a lot of time to progress. But great, great game nonetheless.

Where to find:

Official site
Steam

   

неделя, 7 май 2017 г.

Hollow Knight - Is everything but hollow






I cannot say I am platformer fan. I have not played many emblematic titles from the genre and in general I have not played that many platformers. That said the genre have its place in my heart and after Ori and Blind Forest this place has become even bigger. But why I am babbling about all this? Well, so you can have an idea how much value this article will have for you. Now that we are done with the clarifications, come; let us decent into Hollow Knight.



Descend below Dirthmouth 



You are the enigmatic Hollow Knight. Your past is unknown, your future neither. Your travels...they have led you to Dirthmouth, silent, deserted place, the last stop before the road to the Forgotten Kingdom lying below. In its nature as I mentioned Hollow Knight is 2D action platformer concentrated on the exploration of a gloomy, but vivid and beautiful underground world. But your wandering is not pointless; it is not just a walk in the park. You are here to discover an ancient mystery and there are forces which does not want that. 




When I recently talked about Hollow Knight on another place I compared it to Dark Souls and because I am kind of proud with this comparison (which sadly turned out not to be unique to me :( ) so I plan to use it here too. 

So, what is typical for Dark Souls? Its hard, right? It has an interesting, but vague and far from necessary to follow story. What else? You collect souls, saves are done on checkpoints where you revive when you die and there are epic bossfights. Now let's look at Hollow Knight and compare it on those few points. 



Difficulty



Hollow Knight is far from Darks Soul's difficulty, but here as well as in DS you will easily die if you are not careful even against small enemies which you will meet everywhere. And while we are on the topic of enemies I want to express how impressed I am with the great variety of bad bugs. Variety which does not stop at different models. They have different moving patterns, attacks, behaviour and there are even such which will move randomly and bump into you if you are in the way. The best part may be is that in each area you will meet new unique bugs which you will have no idea what to expect from and how to approach which again brings me back to Dark Souls where I had the same experience with new enemies.

To fight all those you will have at your disposal only one weapon, but you will learn a good amount of skills and will find equipable charms which will give you even more abilities. 





Story


The story in Hollow Knight is told in fragments and a lot of it is left for the players to decipher and piece together while progressing through the world. And this story is vast and intriguing, but it does not limit your progress in any way if you have no wish to follow it. But if you like this kind of storytelling I suggest you to try keeping up with it as its worth it. Because the nature of the storytelling you will have to walk around a lot and not only because of the story, exploration will bring you many benefits. You will find vendors which will then move to Dirthmouth, items, the cartographer(probably the most important) hidden areas and not to forget the only way to quick travel between areas the kind of which I leave to you to find. 



But what makes the exploration in Hollow Knight unique is that you do not have a map when you enter new area. You need to find the Cartographer and he will sell you map of the starting part of the area, but then you will have to buy a quill if you want to be able to update your map with the new areas you find. Also unless you are really good you will need a compass otherwise you will not see your position on the map. I was really tempted to try playing without compass for additional immersion, but the areas turned out to be too big and me being too bad to play effectively this way, but if you want you can try.




Bossfights


 Aside from the exploration and the struggle to piece together who you are and what has happened to the once great underground kingdom the other really exciting part of Hollow Knight are the bossfights. Together with the gloomy, melancholic atmosphere these fights are the other main reason for me to compare Hollow Knight to Dark Souls.
The bossfights in Hollow Knight are against massive creatures which while not looking as menacing as the ones in DS are as deadly and dangerous if you are not careful. The massive monsters you will face in Hollow Knight will always be stronger than you and only quick wit, reflexes and skill will help you be the one standing in the end.
  





Some concerns


Before going to the Conclusion I want to speak about some concerns you might have. You might skip this part if nothing worries you. 
Hollow Knight is very action oriented platformer therefor is important how controls behave. Fear not! The game's controls are perfectly responsive and tight I have never died because of slow response of my character (because of rushing and stupidity...many times). 
Another thing which people might find annoying is the fact you might need to farm money if you want to quickly buy everything offered in the shop. You will not need all of it immediately, but there are all kind of people out there. The farming is not hard and there are big minions, something like mini bosses, which will drop a lot of money when killed and will respawn every time you leave the area where they stand. Bosses will not respawn although they also give good amount of money. But again farming will be hardly needed and when time comes you will probably have most of the money you need at this moment. 



"It's a platformer, how much variety it can have?" A lot! I spoke about this already, but each area is different with different, thematic design, bosses and enemies.
Is it metroidvania? It is. For good or for bad there are segments where you will have to come back later when you have the appropriate skills necessary to traverse the area. Those are usually bonus areas which will contain money, items or story and will not be necessary for your progress, but might make it easier. 


Conclusion
  
Hollow Knight is an epic 2D action-adventure. You’ll explore twisting caverns, battle tainted creatures and escape intricate traps, all to solve an ancient long-hidden mystery. In this review I have compared it to Dark Souls and I know a lot of you are thinking about Salt & Sanctuary, but this is a totally different game. Salt was an action platformer, but it was still centred around the hard fights and there was very little platforming or exploration. In Hollow Knight you will have your share of jumping puzzles and great amount of exploring the unique world in which you have descended.  It's a healthy mix of Ori's jumping puzzles and Salt & Sanctuary's fight without taking any of those two to the extreme.
A must play for the fans of the genre.



Where to find:

Team Cherry Official site
Hollow Knight Official site
Steam
Humble Bundle
GoG