Source: Review Copy Price: £11.39 Where To Get It:Steam
Uagi-Saba is one of those games I really want to like. An interesting, if bleak world, technically doomed. Music and aesthetics that match its dim dankness quite well. A relatively simple upgrade tree.
One of its biggest problems, however, is that “doomed” part. See,
a procgen world, made of discrete blocks with resources where you
have to carefully balance whether you want the resources within, or a
room with important functions, is, on paper, a great idea. But it’s
something where you have to have some reassurance that the player
will spawn vital things at appropriate times, or its a long, slow
death that doesn’t entertain.
For me, this problem comes in the form of heat. More specifically,
the fuel I need to get that heart up to levels where I can
actually progress. It’s not the only time I’ve come across resource
scarcity leading to a Dead Man Walking scenario, but it’s certainly
the most egregious, as opening rooms lowers the temperature… But to
find fuel sources (Smog vents), you have to… Open rooms. And heat
is vital for both the third stage of the game (Raising a Mystic, one
of the leaders of the community), and for staying in that
second stage (Keeping Inhabitants, who require a lower, but still
higher than ambient temperature to stay comfortable.)
This, to be honest, is a basic flaw. Add in that, while the visual
style and workmanlike HUD are fairly good accessibility wise, the
HUD’s size makes things busy, the tooltips do not stay around long
enough to remain useful, and windowed mode is a fixed size… Make
for added flaws. It’s a game that goes at a relaxed pace, but,
unfortunately, that also makes a death spiral such as this that much
As such, as much as I want to like Uagi-Saba, I really can’t recommend it. Great on paper… But sadly, the implementation just doesn’t stick.
The Mad Welshman sighed, and shivered a little. It’s cold, out there…
Source: Supporter Gift Price: £11.39 Where To Get It:Steam
Vilmonic is, at heart, a sandbox. If you had, perhaps, let your sandbox get wet, in a marsh, and then let millennia pass it by, with the ruins of civilisation just barely holding onto coherency, and strange, fungal creatures giving way to strange, fungal animatroids.
Welcome to Vilmonic, I hope you like fungus!
Okay, that’s simplifying things a heckuva lot, but the basic premise,
while simple, hides a lot of complexity, and a lot of fellow nerds
nerding out over that (mostly unseen) backstage fun. You are a being
that is trying to kickstart new life. You’re the only one who seems
to want to do this, as the rest of your compatriots are
corrupted, shambling versions of themselves, that want to spread
their infection as far and wide as possible.
However, your fungal friends are not nearly so united, and so what
plays out is, essentially, a Game of Life. Some fungaloids are
aggressive, attacking all comers (including you.)
And it all plays out with a minimalist, pixel art UI, both a
blessing, and a curse. On the one hand, there’s not much to distract
you, except the passage of time, and lots of things are clear. On the
other, that minimalism hides complexity. I had, in my own world, a
relatively easy time by leaving things mostly alone, and get
to enjoy wandering around, looking at the various species that have
cropped up on my world, but, behind this, there are sensory
priorities, urges, genetics, and all sorts of odd stuff going on
that, if you didn’t have an easy time of things at the
beginning, or you have a goal you want to work towards (Say,
carnivorous desert dwelling animatroids), it’s going to take
wiki-play to understand how to get there, because even the
information needs information the game doesn’t straight up give you
Vilmonic is interesting. It’s a game that does cool things. And if you like a game where your goals are mostly self imposed, where you can wander through the herds of beings you’ve created (or, just as likely, observe from a safe distance), maybe try and play God and find it’s not as easy as all that, then Vilmonic is worth a look.
Cymrus Villainous is a carnivorous animatroid. It is highly aggressive.
Source: Review Copy Price: £29.99 (£47.99 for Deluxe Edition, £18.99 for Deluxe Content DLC if you already have the base game) Where To Get It:Steam
A good post-apocalypse is equal parts absurd and terrifying. Myths arise from casual misinterpretations, nomenclature is taken more seriously than perhaps it should, and yet, this is because death waits around every corner, just itching for the unwary. Why, then, would you not be afraid of something called a “Boom Box” with a red button on it?
And that, apart from maybe a tale of tactical combat gone horribly
wrong, is perhaps the best introduction to Mutant: Year Zero, a
tactical RPG that moves relatively seamlessly between realtime
isometric exploration, and turn-based tactical combat. A game where
myths of survivors, that Safe Haven, put an already established
community in danger. Perhaps more than even it’s aware of.
Mutant: Year Zero is also an interesting game, because,
underneath all the glitter, there’s… Not actually a huge amount,
mechanically speaking. There are relatively static shops at the Ark,
your homebase. The turn based tactical combat is easy to get your
head round if you’ve played anything with turn-based tactical
combat… Two actions a turn, shooting ends your turn (generally),
special abilities have kill based cooldowns, and ensuring enemies die
quickly, and in a good order is the key to victory. A lot of it is
writing, and mood, and aesthetic, all of which it pulls off… Quite
For example, the map and loading music reminds me very much of the
iconic theme to John Carpenter’s The Thing, and, for those who
haven’t seen that movie, its understated bass line, simple and
rhythmic, has associations. Of death, of horror, of tension
and mistrust. And it mostly plays that tense theming throughout, to
good effect. Similarly, the two main characters, while ridiculous if
you sum them up by their base concepts (A warthog and a duck.
They stalk the Zone for the good of The Ark), are grounded, played
straight to good effect. They sound like they’ve lived their
concepts, and that suspends disbelief enough that you care about
these two irascible, but otherwise alright folks. The world has
enough to make it feel alien, while the familiar is seen through both
our own eyes (Awwh heck, those poor folks, dying while camping), and
the funhouse mirror of how the world sees them (Not
understanding it wasn’t as threatening back then, the campers are
derided for camping in a now-dangerous area.)
While relatively short, the game packs tightly, and if I had
one critique, it’s that the relatively small seeming improvements can
give an unwarranted sense of complacency. I hadn’t even realised
I was halfway to a sensible level for taking on the next leg of my
main quest at one point, and, at another very soon after, cursed that
I hadn’t gone back to the ark to get those seemingly unimportant
single damage points. Those seemingly unimportant single damage point
armours. Just one extra heal. Those single points don’t seem
to matter, but, as it turns out, they’re the difference between a
stealthy kill of an outlier… And an extended firefight in which
everyone dies. It’s a finely tuned game, but this also means that
yes, those upgrades are important, although there’s obviously
a little leeway.
Finally, there’s splitting up. Mutant: Year Zero emphasises stealth,
the picking off of outliers, because you’re always outgunned
in some fashion in a straight up fight, and it’s an interesting
risk-reward calculation to leave someone in a better position,
micromanage outside of the enemy’s view, so you can ensure the
So, an interesting world, seen through a funhouse mirror of post-apocalypse confusion. Solid writing, good music, a good aesthetic… And doing interesting things with genre mixing and the rote formulae we know and “love.” It’s tough, but it’s also fair tough, tutorialises well, and I’ve been having an enjoyable time, in the “Tense gripping of mouse and very quiet swear words when things go wrong and I know it’s my fault” sense. Well worth a look.
The Mad Welshman would probably be a top-hatted Corgi if he was a post-apocalyptic mutant. Cliched… But also CLASSY.
Source: Cashmoneys Price: £3.99 Where To Get It: Steam
Robots just seem to get the short end of the stick sometimes. Here,in the Endhall, we’re faced with a robot that is tempted, oh so tempted, by all the sights it’s been shown, but noooo, to see those sights, they have to fight their way through a crumbling hall of murder robots, mines, and turrets, with limited resources. Killing regains battery power, which double as health and turn-timer, and, after each successful area, you get to pick an ability to add to your deck, while never improving in base statistics.
And that, essentially, is everything mechanical about the game except for spoilers, that there’s ten levels in each run, and your starting moves, which are always the same. So… It’s minimalist turn-based strategy. Cool!
Aesthetically it looks alright, the music’s fine, what writing there is clearly lays out its short narrative… No move feels completely useless (Although some, such as Small Move, are more situational than most), and I never felt, when beginning a level, that it was impossible to complete, usually spotting where I’d screwed up a couple of turns before my demise.
Beyond that, it’s small, it’s tight, it does what it says on the tin, and what’s left are gripes. Namely that the tooltips for the enemy health aren’t always that readable (dark red… Argh), and that time-bombs counting as enemies is frustrating in layouts where they aren’t useful as environmental damage. Worth a look if you like minimalist pixel strategy titles.
Due to the fact individual runs are short, The Mad Welshman is amused to note that a third of his screenshots taken are, technically, SPOILERS.
Source: Cashmoneys Price: £15.49 Where To Get It: Steam
Scythe is one of those games where, for all that it added in the three all too brief months since I last looked at it, I can’t really recommend it without qualifications. Specifically, that it is definitely still better with friends, multiplayer or no… And that the Rusviet faction still causes colour issues, at two of the three distances you would normally look at them (Essentially, only up close are the workers easily visible.) Small text remains small, small icons remain small. Still some accessibility issues.
Spot the Rusviet Workers (DISCLAIMER: Difficulty *still* determined by colour blindness type)
Knowing this, let’s do a brief recap. Scythe is a boardgame set in an alternate history where a strange factory is at the core of a landgrab power struggle between six russian themed factions, where, unless you have the option to turn score previews off, you’re wondering whether ending the game is really a good idea, because there are multiple factors at play that mean the person to end the game (Getting six stars for various objectives)… May not actually be the winner.
Maybe one player has courted Popularity so well that their score multiplier takes them to first place. Maybe their winning several fights has boosted them slightly beyond you. It adapts its boardgame style very well visually, the card art is gorgeous, the music is great, and it now has both multiplayer and an extra reason to keep playing (some extra cards for play are now locked behind completing objectives in games.)
But none of this, unfortunately, gets around the fact that it still has those accessibility issues. Its addition of multiplayer was definitely a step forward, but it’s the only complaint of mine about it that was really addressed. And, as such, while it is an interesting game, I can’t really give a whole hearted recommendation. Nor, because it still has its interest, and definite fun from the diplomacy, and uncertainty that comes from playing with others, can I thumb it down.
There is, perhaps, a minor assumption here. An *understandable* assumption… But an assumption nonetheless…
The Mad Welshman is slightly amused it’s taken 3 years to get to the point where he hasn’t much to add on release.