Das Geisterschiff (Going Back)

Source: Supporter Gift
Price: £7.19 (£13.79 for all DLC, OST £2.29, unreleased tracks £1.25, remixes free)
Where To Get It: Steam

Content Warning: Although this review is not age gated, be aware that the game has mentions of forced drug use and kidnapping early on.

Ah, the corporate dystopia. The corporate dystopia where people have fucked the planet, the rich have gone to space, and the rest… Are left underground, fearing the sun they once loved. Yup, that totally isn’t too real right now, nosirree… Although, to be fair, the rich would be using rich people spaceships, so at least we get the black comedy of watching their autopilot ignore an asteroid.

See those sunbeams on the right? The sun is so hostile now, it’ll start melting the armour of an exosuit. And, as this note outright states later, it cooks a human in moments.

In any case, Das Geisterschiff is, as you might have guessed, one of those corporate dystopia games. You, the nameless protagonist, have joined a corporate Combat Unit, in order to hopefully make enough money to get off Earth.

Well, we all know how that’s meant to turn out. And, indeed, this game is hard. A fitting kind of hard, but yes, a fair amount of the time, avoiding a fight is the absolute best thing you can do once an enemy hits your radar. And if you do get in a fight, there’s still a fair amount to consider: Do you use some of your limited ammo? Or do you get up close and shoulder-barge the robotic sonuvabitch, because they’re lighter than you, and they can’t take i- Argh, this one was a suicide bomber, great.

Also on the good side, the game is atmospheric as hell, and the atmosphere is dark. The music is heavy saws and bass beats, threatening in tone, the world is dark as hell (As denoted by the content warnings above. Whee, lot of age gating this month!) And your shadowy boss is, as you quickly discover by the second mission, is shady as hell. Well, he is a corporate dystopia boss, of course he is.

It’s a low poly feel, but a good one. Y’know, red aside. And yes, I had trouble telling these screenshots apart when picking them to upload.

Still, content warnings aside, it’s not all roses. Accessibility wise, everything is shades of red, and quite dark, and while the text is sans serif, and the menu text is readable, the notes and talking type text are somewhat small, even on full screen with a big monitor and downtuning the resolution. And part of the game’s difficulty is somewhat of a lack of clarity as to what things are. For example, the screenshot lower down the review is a horrifying scene, if you know what those cuboids are (They’re dead bodies.)

But, unless you’re using things that sort of look like they’re usable, you’re not going to work things out. And you’re definitely going to have trouble finding upgrades, as the only clue I’ve seen is “They’re near those black boxes. Mostly.” Finally, you seem to only have a minimap. So I hope you brought your mapping software! (I didn’t, my first time, mainly because I’ve gotten so used to, y’know, actual maps.)

Six corpses. laid out. And if you hadn’t found another body in this level that explicitly tells you it is, you might not have guessed.

Finally, while I’m not entirely sure if it’s a bad thing or not, there are only a limited amount of saves. 100, to be exact. And it should be remembered that if you come into an area with low health from another, you might as well restart the whole chapter, with what you’ve learned. Because you’ll restart with that low health.

Would I recommend it? Sort of. As always, if the content warnings and accessibility problems turn you off, then no, and I also wouldn’t recommend this to first time players of first person RPGs. But for the more experienced player, it’s definitely an interesting one, just… Use a mapping tool.

The Mad Welshman loves him a dystopia. In fiction. Can you rich old assholes stop trying to fanfic yours in real life? Ta.

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Disc Creatures (Review)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £11.39 (Soundtrack £2.31)
Where To Get It: Steam

This one took quite a while to review. Unsurprising, because, as anyone who’s played Pokemon would know, Pokemon takes a while to get going, and Disc Creatures is heavily inspired by Pokemon. Down to emulating the game-boy incarnation’s style.

It’s so nice to see different generations get into things. You go old man!

However, before someone groans and goes “Oh good lord, not another one”, I will say, right now, that it has ideas that are its own, and has also taken on board the evolution of Pokemon’s world, in the sense that it tries to explore the subject of being a trainer. Or, to use the game’s own term, a DiscR. And the conflicts that arise when the sentient Disc Creatures, or the DiscRs who catch wild creatures… Go bad. So, let’s get the one problem out of the way first, before we talk about what makes this one interesting: Its window is very small, and there’s no adjustment for this save being full screen. Argh. Gripe out of the way, moving on!

DiscR is, as you might have guessed, a pokemon style game. Beat up monsters, catch them, add them to your collection, beat other monsters up with them to make them stronger… You know, the usual stuff, right? Not quite. For example, the move changer. There are a silly amount of moves for each Disc Creature, much like there’s quite a few for individual Pokemon, but guess what? You get the potential to use all of them! And then… There’s combat.

And with their elements displayed too. Lovely!

So, let’s see how you like these apples: HP doesn’t regenerate unless you heal or use Energin (because Disc Creatures are more like Digimon, in that they’re electronic, and can be burned to a CD), but the energy that powers your moves? Ahhh, that’s where it gets interesting. Because each fight, you start with 10 energy, and that’s definitely enough to power some basic moves for a few turns. But while sometimes, you or the opponents regain energy, the only surefire way to do so is to E-Charge. And that… Leaves the Disc Creature doing it wide open to attack, ensuring a critical hit if they are attacked. It’s pretty tactical.

Aesthetically, well… It’s a pretty faithful GameBoy Colour style overall… Pixels, limited palette, chiptunes… It all works, and, apart from the aforementioned “Windowed mode is tiny” thing, the UX in fullscreen is fine and dandy for play.

For reference, these screenshots are not resized.

It’s got some interesting mechanics. It’s got solid writing. It’s got good creature designs, good aesthetic, a nice, lo-fi world… When my only gripe is about windowed mode/resolution, and there’s some good quality of life stuff into the mix? Well, that’s a definite recommend, isn’t it?

The Mad Welshman loves it when somebody tries hard to be actually retro.

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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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DemonCrawl (Review)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £11.39
Where To Get It: Steam

Minesweeper. A logic game as old as Windows… Well, older than Windows, actually, but it was popularised (sort of) by its inclusion in Windows 3.1, right up until the present day. And the formula hasn’t changed. Like, at all. Click a square. Is it a bomb? No. Is it an empty space with empty spaces around it? Those empty spaces will auto clear, until, at the edges, there are The Numbers. The numbers that tell you how many Mines are adjacent. And from those, you have to deduce… Where the bombs are. Hit a bomb, welp, you die.

[Screams In Minesweeper]

Why am I explaining this, a thing known to many a person who just… Has a PC? Well, Demoncrawl is Minesweeper… But it’s also a roguelite, a game with progression once you lose, shops, items… And Hit Points. That’s right, you can fuck up more than once. Well, in Quest Mode. So long as the monsters (your new Mines) aren’t strong, and roll high on their damage, one shotting you. Or you’re sucking wind on hitpoints, in which case, welcome to Classic Mode in Quest Mode, sucker! But it’s okay, you can get magic items, and buy them, and there are strangers, people who’ll help you, and…

Look, it adds stuff to the Minesweeper formula, and it makes it still tough, and indeed some items (Omens) and status effects in dungeons make it tougher, but it also makes things more interesting. In a good run, I was collecting more gold than I knew what to do with, and when I had trouble, well, I had a magic bow, an explosive boomerang, a summoner of minions who would at least expose monsters, even if they didn’t kill them to make my life that much easier.

Oh… Dear.

On a particularly bad run… Well, let me explain the screenshot above. 3 curses in my inventory. One means there are ten more monsters on the board than normal, and there always will be until I get rid of it. One is “Chance of loot (at all) halved” … And this just after I’d gotten something that tripled my chances of a legendary item. And finally, “Levels always have at least one status, which is random.” And that random status? I lost an item on my first turn, and could have lost more. I was in deep trouble.

Somehow, I managed to solve it, and said “Fuck it!”, took a teleporter to a random level… And promptly died. At least I got a few tokens for buying new legendaries to drop, customisation stuff (mostly minor), and better chances at more tokens so I could buy them quicker. Oh, and a mummy avatar. I now have Resting Mummy Face. In EGA, no less. And all this is without mentioning other fun things in each level, like merchants, a very Audrey like plant that will give you things (in exchange for a lot of items), the Chaos Forge that… Well, adds chaos…

He later killed all of my kind. Just because I’d stepped on him.

To sum up, it’s an interesting take on Minesweeper that makes the game more enjoyable, has a fair amount of replay value and things to find, and I would recommend it for folks looking for a logic puzzly, rogueliteish time. Or one of the two and exploring the other. I’ve definitely enjoyed myself.

I am… Very bad at Minesweeper. It is embarassing.

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Meteorfall: Krumit’s Tale (Early Access Review)

Source: Review Copy
Price: £5.79 (£7.09 for game and soundtrack, £2.09 for soundtrack)
Where To Get It: Steam

Adventurers are not the smartest of folks. They run heedlessly into dungeons, and then scratch their heads as they’re faced with… A grid? A small economy system? A… Puzzle? BRUNO SMASH. Bruno dead. Whoops, Bruno should have listened to the tutorial of Krumit’s Tale, a fun little puzzle and deckbuilding roguelite in which you try to efficiently clear out a dungeon, with the only major criteria being survival. Of course, if you survive and leave a lot of item tiles on the board, you get more opportunities to beef up your deck. And that’s so very tempting.

All these tiles will be lost… Like tears in the rain. Time to die…

The actual rules of Krumit’s Tale are pretty simple. With an enemy, you attack first, unless they’re ambushing or blitzing you (the lightning symbol.) Killing an enemy nets you 1 gold, and gold is used to buy abilities. I mention this before things like parrying, where if you have more armour the the enemy’s attack? They’re stunned for a turn, which, effectively, counts for either two turns of damage, or the enemy’s death, depending on how much they have left in the (heart) tank, because you don’t start with weapons or armour.

You have to buy them, if you have the option. Once all enemies are dead, you’ve won, and the equipment and ability tiles you have left on the board are counted toward your bonus points. You get a free tile, you pick a special ability out of four, and then you buy tiles and rubbish cards you don’t want anymore until your deck size is the current maximum. Then you do it again. Die? You’ve earned XP, which will, over runs, unlock you new abilities for the character you’ve played.

A dangerous foe indeed!

The devil’s in the details, of course, with each new enemy having something that complicates matters, but the base ideas are tight, simple, and easily understandable. It doesn’t take long to get the hang of. Which is good, I like me some tight design! But what about… Everything else?

Well, it just so happens that I like the aesthetic too. Visually, it’s a cartoonish style, with some interestingly grim elements, and lovely little touches like the M of Krumit’s fluttering above the candle flame of the L, and the animations of each character. Speaking of characters, both of the currently available characters have their own… I won’t quite say “charm” , but character works. Bruno is definitely a barbarian of a man, with a constant, low key gargling of suppressed rage, and similarly, Greybeard the wizard is toothily muttering his incantations. Their designs, and that of the monsters, are pretty cool, and the music? Suitably creepy. Nice!

Yes, this would be an ideal spot. I love sneks!

This, the difficulty curve, the clever little things you can do (If your inventory isn’t used up, it counts toward that tile bonus, friends!), and its sarcastic, sometimes grim humour works well for me. As far as deckbuilder roguelites go, it comes recommended, even in this early stage, showing promise and polish.

The Mad Welshman loves the description of W’aggu. Alas, he didn’t screenshot it. Go play the game.

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