Little Dungeon Stories (Early Access Review)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £6.49
Where To Get It: Steam

Swiping left and right… Now there’s something with connotations. Do you swipe right, and lose a little Energy on a conversation that may or may not go somewhere, or do you swipe left, and lose some Humanity as you buy into a reductive system and make someone’s life a little worse? It’s a tough decision. Thankfully, Little Dungeon Stories not only adds the options of swiping up and down (occasionally), but it’s a much more simple affair. Keep your four meters higher than 0, go as long as you ca- Waaaiiit a minute…

Jazzek fumbled with his copy of PC Tools. “Gribbley gribbley gribbley.”

Okay, this is basically a roguelike, along the lines of Reigns, where you have four meters (Health, Energy, Humanity, and Money), and all you have to do is get to the heart of the dungeon. Simple, right? I mean, you have a minimum of two choices with every card you draw, and each one raises or lowers stats, or makes you equip a thing or sell it, or drinking a potion as opposed to keeping it…

Well, about that. You see, one meter will go down with every choice you make: Your Humanity. And sometimes, the choice isn’t whether you gain a thing or stat, or lose a thing or stat… It’s about how much you lose… From where. For example, when a spike trap happens, you could use 15 Energy, and maybe it would go alright. More often, though, it’ll then cost you 30 Health. Or you could spend 30 Energy you… Might not have.

This beggar, for example, was a lose lose for me in this specific context. Normally, I’d happily give some alms. But not having the income to help actually killed me this run.

It isn’t always difficult, but it definitely can be. Adding another random element, the fact your adventurers are always different, adds some replay value… At the cost of some runs being more difficult than others just due to the nature of the person. And you quickly learn that some paths… Are going to be difficult no matter what you do. Like the Library. If you have high intelligence, you can do a lot of things… At the cost of Energy. A fair bit of energy. Or you can craft a potion recipe, to make lots of potions next time you meet an Alchemist, or buy things from a Wizard… For energy. You’re going to be losing a fair bit of Energy in the Library. I hope you had a potion ready!

But, for all this, there’s a few reasons I actually quite like this one. First of all, it’s short. In less than an hour, I’d gotten the gist of the game, and had four runs, three of which ended disastrously (mostly with me lying on the floor of the dungeon, too apathetic to move forward or back… Just like a particularly bad day, honestly, except with more wandering monsters), and the final one somehow beating the bosses, completely not understanding what pillars or anvils did, and reaching the Dungeon Heart. Go me, and my largely oblivious himbo!

Awwwwh yeah…

Secondly, it’s pretty accessible. Text is clear, what an item is is clear… The only thing that’s not so clear is that the card text fades into the thing you want to do, so actually choosing a thing can be a little hard to read. It’s turn based, it’s simple movements, the music’s nice, the pixel art on the cards is nice… It’s a pretty solid game, and a good lunchbreak prospect. And, of course, it Does What It Says On The Tin.

So yes, this is pretty much a recommendation.

The Mad Welshman swipes left on this game.

Become a Patron!

SD Gundam G Generation Cross Rays (Review)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £39.99 (£54.98 for Deluxe Edition, Season Pass £19.99, Extra Dispatch Missions 1 £4.99)
Where To Get It: Steam

No, that isn’t a word salad up there in the title. Or, rather, it is, but it’s a meaningful one. It is, indeed, Super Deformed (Bobblehead Gundams fighting, basically), It is part of the G Generation series (The first to hit the PC, in fact), and you do, indeed, Cross both Rays (in the beam weapon sense) and, occasionally, Rays (In the “That’s their first name sense.”) Simple, no?

Damn bloody right I’ve got a Hyakuri on my Sortie team!

Well, that still doesn’t really tell us anything, and it only tells fans of Super Robot Wars something when I say it’s like that, so… It’s a turn based strategy game, with some customisation, lots of units, 13 campaigns covering the Wing, Seed, 00, and Iron Blood Orphans series and some of their spinoffs, like Seed Astray, lots of characters… And a system that encourages a certain style of play… Namely, that if you weaken multiple enemies, a single Gundam could kill up to three of them at once. Oh, and you can also link your Gundams of the same team in a single, devastating multi-target attack.

Or you can fluff a 78% chance, and swear at the wasted energy, the resource that only really renews without docking back at base for Warships and Story Gundams, maybe taking a hit yourself into the bargain. UWAAAAAAGH! –Splode.

This is 5 of them. And only a few of them are short.

And I definitely don’t feel guilty for this taking a not insignificant portion of my review budget, because, as mentioned… 13… Goddamn… Campaigns. At this very moment in time, 13 hours in, I’ve gotten 29% of the things to get (Which… Isn’t actually as far along as I’d like. Especially since I haven’t yet got my two favourites available in this game, the Gusion and the Hyakuri), and have finished most of… The first missions.

Yeah, be prepared for each of even the first missions to take… A while. And doing well, getting those sweet, sweet extra missions? Unlocks… A harder part to the mission, which will test your endurance and tactical skill. You get some neat unlocks though, whether through that, developing higher levelled mechs into different mechs, combining designs, adding abilities to your characters… More of which you can unlock… There’s a lot to it.

Although sometimes, what results from developing mechs can be a distinct downgrade. Gundam. Zaku. Gundam. Zaku… GUNDAM.

Aesthetically, well… Gundam has always been known for some good tunes, and some high drama in its voicework, and this game is no exception. A dramatic sting happens with every phase change (from you, to enemies, to different groups of enemies if there’s more than one…) There are theme tunes, attract movies, the top down forced perspective stuff is mostly clear and alright, the battle animations are great. You can skip them once you’ve seen them, to save time, but… Don’t skip animations just by weapon, as different units use those weapons in different ways. One Gundam will have a proper Beam Rifle, one will use two Beam Pistols, and, in a particularly silly animation, one will slap two Beam Pistols together to make a bigger Beam Pistol that they fire. It’s very pretty.

Now, not all is roses. The UI text can get pretty damn small sometimes, which isn’t great accessibility wise, there’s some “Your mileage may vary” in the fact that the game is using moments from the series completely, so there’s a lot of dialogue and narration between missions (You can skip this, but for those who don’t like to, be warned, it goes on a while a lot of the time), and in some series, you’re going to get severely hamstrung if your Sortie mechs are, for example, all using Beam weapons in IBO, where nearly everything resists Beam Weaponry.

I LOVE CANNONS!!!

Say goodbye to that 4K damage, friendo, you’re only doing 1.5K tops against a Graze. And you will feel shame at not being able to damage what’s effectively a mook with ease. On the other hand, IBO units do pretty well in Beam heavy series. Muahahaha. Finally, yes, there is grind. Some units can only be gained by either maxing out meters, or developing them from other mechs, which requires levelling them up. Thankfully, this grind can be lessened by doing “Dispatch” missions, which take your group out of play for a certain time (From 2 and a half to 12 hours), but… You don’t actually have to be playing the game to run that timer down. Actually a pretty reasonable way of handling it!

But, here’s the thing: Overall? Hot damn is this value for money, with some moderately alright tutorialisation, to the point where you’ll very quickly get some tricks to shoot down units by the score, even Warships, and look cool doing it. For Gundam fans, well, hey, you’ve got a Gundam SD game you can play on PC (Super Robot Wars when, Bamco?), and for turn based tactical strategy games, you’ve got something you can sink your teeth into. Definite recommend here!

The Mad Welshman notes with some amusement that his sortie team is now several levels higher than… Well, anything except major story Gundams now.

Become a Patron!

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.

Become a Patron!

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.

Become a Patron!

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.

Become a Patron!