Divination (Review)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £1.69 (£3.36 Collector’s Edition, £2.09 for artbook, soundtrack, other extras)
Where To Get It: Steam
Other Reviews: Itch release

Content Warning: This game has themes of self harm and suicide, and a depiction of suicide. As such, the review has been age gated, and this content warning has been added to the original review.

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Nexomon (Early Access Review)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £7.19
Where To Get It: Steam

Aaargh. Aaaargh. Sometimes, I hate Windows 10. Hey, is your app too blurry, why don’t we, why don’t we, why don’t we Stop Tabbing Out Win10, it’s not blurry! (To fix this, turn display change notifications the hell off)

Please don’t do this. Especially don’t do this more than 5 times in the first two gym areas. Kthxbai

Anyway, yes, Nexomon starts in full screen mode, and it seems to be a little while before you can actually get into the options. Have options on the main screen, folks, because otherwise you have, for example, the game’s volume blaring until the into cutscenes are over (one of which, for some reason, is unskippable.) And yes, I had that experience, and yes, it was a bad start to the game for me. And then another bad experience, with a fourth wall breaking joke that was less funny than the developers thought it was (Which has, so far, happened about eight or nine times), and perhaps the most obvious foreshadowing that the…

Wait, the Gym Leaders in this Pokemon-alike are part of Team Evil? I… Hrm. Anyways, yes, this is one of the Pokemon style games that have been cropping up this past year, and it’s… A very mixed bag. On the one hand, it’s visually pleasing, with lots of cool designs. The animations work pretty well, and the music pleases, even through the acknowledgement that the musical stings and the like have very similar motifs to the Pokemon franchise. At least the shopkeeper is a cat called Ron. That’s nice. And the battles, if you know what your moves actually do, is good.

A recent patch meant you know vaguely what moves do. The database is still very sparse, though.

But I did say it was a mixed bag, and most of this is in the writing, some things that may or may not irritate, the aforementioned lack of an options menu until you’re in the game, and status effects are, for the most part, single turn effects. That’s right. Single turn. Oh yeah, and if you’re wanting a team of a single Nexomon, you’re outta luck, because only one can be captured, and if you try to capture another, you’re wasting Nexotraps, the Pokeballs of this game. In one case, where the “captured” icon didn’t show up in the top right, I wasted three before I said “soddit!” and finished it off. And then I went back and, sure enough… Already captured, 750 coins worth of Nexotraps lost to the ether.

Pew-eee! Anyway, yes, it gets super dramatic after every gym. In a painfully predictable way.

Now, there are, indeed, 300 Nexomon in the game. And many of them are packed into a very tight space. As in, I was finding different Nexomon, including different rare ones, in different screens of a route. And, since there doesn’t appear to be much in the way of quick routes (You’d think they’d give you running shoes after the second gym, but no, it’s apparently somewhere in the third gym), it’s a slow trudge, and…

Well, it’s at this point that I talk about what this is: It’s a port of a mobile game, and it shows. It shows in the lack of move descriptions in battle, and the UX. It shows in how minimal the database and move descriptions are (beyond their energy cost, which may or may not reflect how powerful the move actually is.) And it shows in being more grindy than your default Pokemon experience. Since the writing isn’t all that great, and considering all of this, I would definitely understand if you were turned off, or at best non-committal, since, even when reviewing it, I had to take breaks out of, basically, irritation at how slow it was going. It had a feature where you could switch between moves you’d learned, but… Not enough to save it.

This poor dork, on the other hand… This guy really gets it. Repeatedly.

And, after the second gym, and the knowledge that I was going to have to grind more to beat the first trainer battle after it, I checked out. There are some good designs here, and, like Disc Creatures, it has the feature of allowing you to pick between your moves, but the game itself? Is a tedious slog with some distinctly hammy and awful writing in places, especially when it breaks the fourth wall.

The Mad Welshman would like to remind spiritual successor types: Please fully understand why a thing is good. Thank you for your time.

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Detective Kobayashi (Review)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £9.99
Where To Get It: Steam

Detective Kobayashi is a detective game in the rough style of Phoenix Wright, where a key mechanic is rebutting statements by an antagonist, and you can read the protagonist’s thoughts. Which, er… If it was a flagship feature, I wouldn’t exactly say it’s all that hot. Thankfully, it isn’t, and the game is… Pretty solid.

Detective games in this vein work in a pretty similar fashion: Explore scenes and talk to people until you have all the evidence you need, at which point it kicks you into deduction mode, either picking dialogue options that opens the door of truth a little further, or present evidence to contradict statements.

Which would be just dandy, if it weren’t very easy to trap yourself in these contradiction exposing segments. Each one has three possible statements to contradict: Only one of them is the one you should attack. Generally, you are only using a few pieces of evidence, out of… A lot. And you have to make sure you’ve got it in the right order.

Yes, everyone outright states the introverted child has a lot of trouble making friends, and yes, he left his newest and his favourite toys at home… But neither is the way to progress in the first case… Although I do seem to recall one is mentioned in the domino chain that comes next. In the second case, you play the deduction game if you pick the wrong culprit… But while you can get to a certain point, and the third case (of four) unlocks regardless, you will lose the case. A classic Dead Man Walking scenario.

Sometimes, it’s multiple choice answers for debating a viewpoint. This is one of those scenarios, and… God I hate this smug fuck.

Oh, and you can’t save during these particular parts. That’s a problem too. Along with having to remember the numbers you’re given to text people you haven’t met.

The first two cases, however, are interesting, in that the first doesn’t result in an arrest even if you solve it (I won’t spoil it, because it is legitimately a good twist, and the foreshadowing is subtle), and the second, the solution is foreshadowed very early on, as is the culprit, and I’m kicking myself for not noticing it the first time I yelled “J’ACCUSE!”

As to the writing overall? Detective Kobayashi himself does have a heart, as the first case shows, but it’s hard to like him considering what a pushy horndog he is, always trying to get his female partner, Matsuda, to admit she likes him (She… May or may not. Again, won’t spoil things.) There’s also a transphobic and fatphobic line in the second case early on that predisposes me to dislike him. The other characters… Some of them are quite interesting, some are a bit flat, so, overall… The writing is… Okay? I’m not hating it, I’m not loving it, so, yeah… Okay.

Protip: None of this line is cool, it’s somewhat shitty, on multiple levels.

Aesthetically though, it works. Good music, character designs that fit within the world, and give a little bit of added character (There seems to be a lotta hangdog expressions here. Not a criticism, just an observation), and, while I can’t say whether the VA is good or bad because I don’t speak enough Mandarin, or Chinese dialects in general, to be able to tell. Sorry folks.

Overall… Detective Kobayashi is pretty tightly designed in terms of the actual investigations, but the contradiction segments never really sat well with me, Dead Man Walking, even if it’s just the one, has definitely never sat well with me… But it does work aesthetically, and the writing’s alright (apart from that transphobic and fatphobic comment, which is definitely a turnoff), so… A “Worth trying if you’re into this sort of thing, but be aware of the above.”

A good detective understands other viewpoints. So… A good detective knows not to shit on other people. Just sayin’.

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The Legend of Arcadieu (NSFW Going Back)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £4.79 (It’s also on Itch, but it appears to only be the SFW version, as opposed to SFW with free DLC for NSFW)
Where To Get It: Steam

Content Warnings: Bondage, Edging, Monstergirls, Rough Sex, Hair Pulling.

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Lovely Heroines (NSFW Going Back)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £3.99 (or the option to donate more on Itch)
Where To Get It: Steam, Itch.IO

Content Warning: Anal sex.

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