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Jamestown: Impressions (shoot'm up Indie Game)

Jamestown is a fast paced indie shmup that features tons to unlock and some pretty damn nice visuals.

In Jamestown you'll be able to select from a number of different ships to play as, and each one play pretty different from one another. Some will have homing missiles, others will have plasma beams, and all sorts of other special abilities. As far as mechanics is concerned it's pretty simple. You have your regular shoot button, then a special which you can charge for an alternate fire, you also have vault as a defensive skill to negate any immediate dangers and bullets, and that's about it! Shoot stuff, collect the coins, then buy stuff with the coins. It's not a hard game to get into but it is a hard one to master.

Jamestown: Impressions (shoot'm up, shmup, Indie Game, Gameplay, and Review) Relevant information and links below Jamestown is a shmup, or shoot'm up that features great pixel art, and an indie...

The game's pacing is great as well. Each level never over stay it's welcome, while offering varied difficulty challenges as you proceed through them. This is a good thing since you'll be going over the same levels more than once in order to unlock everything in the game. It is arguable that Jamestown recycles a lot of the same content, but the developers have introduced interesting ways to reuse older assets to further the variety the game has to offer. From arcade mode, to challenge modes, and even a gauntlet mode, and more to unlock later on.

The game's graphics and presentation is top-notch. The pixel art featured is of a high caliber, with great details and animation. The game's soundtrack compliments the game's excellent presentation and really hits home the atmosphere the game tries to get across. It's just a gorgeous looking and sounding game.

There's a lot to love about Jamestown, but it's not perfect. The biggest issue I drew from the game is it's white enemy bullets. Of all the colors in the color wheel, why on earth did the developers choose white as the color of what's arguably the most important element in a shmup? White blends into the background, it blends in when there are explosions, it blends in where the screen shake. White is just not the color the eye picks up on first. When you're talking about shmups, visual clarity is of the utmost importance. Shmup players don't watch their spirits or the bullets individually, they "feel" them like a 6th scent. Usually in other shmups enemy bullets are as clear as day, allowing the player to ultaize their peripheral vision to "feel" their way around the battlefield. Because the bullets are white, a dull, uncaptivating color, the player is forced to watch every single bullet while keeping a close eye on the character sprite, forcing the player to play with a focus on parts of the game that shouldn't be focused on. The focus should be on the on coming dangers, not the immediate danger. The white bullets is my only real complaint about Jamestown, but it is a major one considering the genre.

Overall Jamestown is an excellent shmup. It feels great, it has a great degree of variety, and the ships are very interestingly designed. It does suffer from visual clarity problems due to it's white enemy bullets, but if you can adjust, I have no doubt Jamestown will be a memorable experience.

- Fantastic pixel art
- Fantastic Soundtrack
- Great diversity in ships
- Lots to unlock
- Many different ways to play

- White enemy bullets... for a shmup... seriously what the hell were the devs thinking?
(Only one con, but this one is a biggie)

Hours of Jamestown played: 2.5

Completion Status on Jamestown: N/A

This copy of Jamestown was purchased

Zombie Vikings: Impressions

Zombie Vikings is a beat'm up similar to what you'll find in Castle Crashers. It features a fast paced combat with an interesting art style.

You have your choice of 4 (6 total with the DLCs) characters, and you can play upto 4 players at once locally. The characters play mostly the same, with their special attack being the aspect that separates them. You have your basic attack, when held it'll do a more powerful swing. The more you chain the more damage you'll do. You also have a block and a roll as defensive maneuvers, and of course you have your jump and jump attack as well. To help round things out, there is also a throw key, that allows you to carry and throw a variety of things, your allies, objects and enemies. The most interesting attack is the special key that each character's signature move. Like the regular attack, it has a quick press, and a hold variation. Each character's special varies quite a lot, from throwing groups of enemies, to a scorpion like arm harpoon that helps you continue your combo.

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Zombie Vikings: Impressions (Beat'm up, Indie Game, Gameplay, and Review) Relevant information and links below Zombie Vikings is a new beat'm up indie game by the same developers of Stick it to the...

The game plays very similar to the likes of Castle Crashers. You and possibly a group of your local friends will head out, button mashing and comboing your way through any give map. Throughout you'll encounter a variety of different enemies and boss battles. Most of the combat plays out as you expect from any given beat'm ups. Zombie Viking's combat does feel smooth, responsive, and quick, but it don't really do anything to move the genre forward, but it at least feels good. Because of the variety in maneuvers available, the game does feature some depth in mechanics to learn, however it's also not the hardest beat'm up I've ever played.

The art style and overall presentation of Zombie Vikings is superb. It features an interesting digital paint look, that's whimsical as it is comedic. The sound track, voice acting, and story also reflect this. As far as presentations are concerned, I don't have much to complain about.

Overall Zombie Vikings doesn't do much in the way of moving the genre of beat'm ups forward, but what it does do it does competently, and is overall an enjoyable experience.

- Great presentation
- Fast and responsive combat
- Interesting special moves
- Easy to get into

- Can be repetitive
- Doesn't do any thing overly original
- No online

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Hours of Zombie Vikings played: 2.5

Completion Status on Zombie Vikings: incomplete

This copy of  Zombie Vikings was given by the developer

Mushihimesama: Impressions (shoot'em up, shmup bullet hell)

Mushihimesama is an arcade classic Shmup (Shoot'em up) from 2004 by Cave Interactive, a studio well known for their bullet hell games.

Mushihimesama seem to live up to Cave Interactive's reputation, as it features some of the most bullet's I've seen on a a screen at once. Reflex based gameplay is the highlight here and your skill as a shump player will absolutely be tested. Having so much bullets on the screen the developers have done something very smart, and only a master of the genre could come up with. Make the character's hitbox smaller than the character model itself. The hit box is only about the size of the character's head. You may say "but that doesn't make sense, and would only confuse the player", but the reality is, in a good shmup, the player never looks directly at the character itself. Rather, the player will use his/her peripheral vision to track the character while paying attention to on coming dangers, almost like using a sixth scent. By designing the hitbox this way, it allows the peripheral vision to easily follow the character, while "feeling" their way around the bullets. It's simply brilliant and intuitive design on the part of the developers.

Aside from the hitbox design, the bullets are large, flashy, and purple and clear. There are no other purple elements in the game besides the bullets, which also adds to the excellent visual clarity of the game. The bullet's formations are also unique to Mushihimesama, beautiful at times, and most importantly, challenging and satisfying to bob and weave around.

While playing you'll also be be able to collect upgrades and bombs. Upgrades are pretty obvious, as they'll upgrade your offensive capabilities, but bombs are the real strategic element of the game. Not only incredibly powerful, but they'll also whip the screen of any on coming bullets, giving the player a short opportunity to breath, or to escape an unavoidable situation. Use the bombs sparingly and strategically and you'll rack up those point chains in no time

The game also features great music, audio, and for a 2004 game, it stands the test of time as far as visuals and presentation are concerned. Distinctly Japanese, and it's wonderful.

Mushihimesama also features multiple modes to play, from time attack, novice mode, and even arranged mode. Though they all play fairly similar, does offer enough variability for people who are really into the meta of the game to find intriguing and worth exploring.

So I've said plenty of praise for the game, and in my opinion, it deserves all of it, but what about the negatives? No game is perfect after all. Mushihimesama can be unstable at times. When it was originally launched, many people, including myself reported a crash on load. Luckily that's been patched out (mostly). I still experience crashes when I alt tab sometimes, but, they are very rare. The game also slows down when a lot of stuff is going on, and this is persistent no matter how amazing your PC is. The game can also be repetitive as well, since even with all the different game modes available it is the same content over and over again. You can finish the game first time through in about 20 minutes. Since the game is an arcade port, and in the arcade, the main punishment for failure is more quarters, that element doesn't translate as well when it's on PC. To be fair, Shumps are rarely about completing the game, and are made to be replayed. It's the points that matter when you're talking about the high end, and when you continue, it does reset your score to a degree. In the context of the genre, this is still a reasonable punishment for the player, though even with that said, does lose some of it's punch as a port outside of the arcade.

Overall Mushihimesama is a fantastic shmup and if you're a fan of the genre, I have no hesitation to recommend it. If you are a more casual gamer, who's simply curious to the game, $20 might be perceived as high for a lot of recycled content, but even with that said, that content is about as solid of a shmup can ever hope to achieve.

- Brilliant design on the character, the hitbox, and the bullets themselves
- Satisfying and at time gorgeous bullet patterns
- A fair amount of side content for the player to explore
- Hardcore shmup fans should have no problem falling in love with Mushihimesama

- A lot of recycled content
- Can be repetitive for more casual players
- Some technical limitations

Mushihimesama played: 4
Completion Status on Mushihimesama: Completed
This copy of The Mushihimesama was given by the developer

Fallout 4: Initial Impressions

We take an initial look and review our current experience to Bethesda's much anticipated Fallout 4. We'll be writing a full impression on the game when I have more time to play more of it

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Fallout 4 played: 4

Completion Status on Fallout 4: Incomplete

This copy of The Fallout 4 was purchased.

Brigador: Early Impressions

Brigador is a tactical isometric shooter where every thing in the environment is destructible. At the time of this review, the game is still incomplete but shows a lot of promise in it's well designed gameplay.

Brigador is a challenging game to say the least. A player's first inclination is to shoot everything in sight, but you'll quickly learn that strategy will get you killed pretty fast. Your ammo is limited, your HP don't regenerate, and the game features a perma-death system. With out careful planning and strategic thinking, you'll become scrap metal in an instant. The game has a high learning curve, and an equally high skill ceiling. The game makes no concession to casual players.

The goal of the game is to enter an enemy territory, shoot out 3 of their cannons, and then get the hell out of there. It sounds simpler than it actually is. In any given map, there will be tons of enemies swarming to blow you up if you're not careful, as well as environmental hazards. Gas pipes, oil stations, and other things can easily blow up in your face ending your run. Then there are mud, tracks, and sand that will slow you down. Though there are hazards, the environment is completely destructible, allowing you to make your own path to the goals, avoiding the dangerous main roads.

Before even starting your mission, you'll be able to pick your vehicle, weapons, and special abilities. there are 6 different vehicles that are variations of 3 different types, tank, mech, and hover. Tanks have good Armour and speed, while mechs can use a powerful stomp, and hovers can strife and are the quickest, but they're balanced with low armour and HP. They all have their own unique characteristics and stats, and the same can be said about the weapons and specials as well. The game offers a fair degree of customization and experimentation, allowing the player to tailor their ship to their play style.

Brigador also features detailed but visually clear sprites in an isometric environment. The aesthetics have a classic PC look to it, and it's one of my favorite elements of the game. The art is interesting, full of nuance, and does a good job at communicating it's overall theme and atmosphere of a dystopian future. The sound design is also quite pleasing, with an appropriately futuristic OST and sound effects that has impact. However, since the game is in early access, some sound effects aren't implemented and is distracting from what is an otherwise polished presentation.

There's a lot of stuff to like about the game, it's presentation, it's skill oriented gameplay, and the destructible environments, however in it's current state, the game does feel incomplete. Currently, there is only one mode to play, endless mode, nothing to unlock, no stat tracking, and no story mode. So basically, the game is bare bones feeling very very beta. Of course it's in early access and these things are to be expected, but it is something worth mentioning for any one expecting a complete game. Bragador does not feel complete. There is a lot of room to grow and I am excited to see where it goes. One feature I really would like to see added is some kind of multiplayer. But until the game is further updated / released, it doesn't give much incentive for the player to keep playing, other than it's core gameplay, and maybe experimenting with different combinations of weapons and ships.

Overall, Brigador is a very promising game, that in my opinion, has the potential to be a cult favorite. All the game need to do now is to fill itself out a little. Give the player a reason to come back regularly. We'll see how it'll turn out once it's a full release, but so far, so good.

- Great classical looking visuals
- Challenging and rewarding gameplay
- Destructible environments
- customization

- Missing sound assests
- limited game modes
- Feels incomplete

Brigador hours played: 3
Completion Status on Brigador: N/A
This copy of The Brigador was given by the developer

Jotun: Quick Look

Jotun is an isometric hand animated adventurer. The game features great art and animation, and impressive boss fights. Though it may look like a brawler on first impression, it's not at all.

In Jotun, you play as Thora, who has to go through multiple levels of Valhalla to prove her worth to the gods. She can accomplish this by choosing which level to tackle, in which each will feature 2 stages, then a boss fight. The stages usually play out like a maze or a puzzle, where you'll be finding your path to the end while tackling environmental obstacles. There are some light combat scenarios sprinkled in between, but are often optional, or are set up more as a set piece to break up the stage, than an event to challenge the player's abilities. Once 2 stages are completed on a given level, the entrance to the boss is unlocked and from there, you're greeted with an impressive god like being, much larger than you in scale, and often has a challenge or "gimmick" that echoes the level that proceeded it.

The art is absolutely fantastic, and that should go with out saying. It's advertised as a hand animated adventurer, and the game certainly does a damn fine job at fulfilling that description. The animation quality is on par with classic animated movies of the past, while it's art design reminds me a little of old school Disney. It's beautiful visuals are complimented with an equally impressive sound design. The voice acting in the viking tongue is a nice touch to push the theme of the game further, while the music and sound effects are both appropriate and of a high quality. I love the OST of Jotun.

My favorite part of the game is easily the boss fights. They are impressive in design as well as in scale, often towering the player. Think Shadow of the Colossus kind of scaling, but in 2D hand animated form. The bosses also draw elements from the stages that you've completed in order to reach it. The ones I've defeated were very satisfying to fight.

Though there is much I liked about Jotun, there was one thing that really frustrated me. It's inconsistent level design. This is not to say all the levels and stages were unenjoyable, some were actually very smartly designed in it's puzzles. However, the ones that I didn't enjoy frustrated the ever living hell out of me. Back tracking, confusion, paths that lead back to the beginning, and the feeling that it's there simply to pad out the content before reaching the real treat of the game, the boss fights, these were all issues I drew from the game.

Though I feel like some of the levels I've played over stayed it's welcome, my overall experience with Jotun was definitely positive. It's eye catching art and animation, it's impressive sound design and boss fights were definitely highlights.

- Great art and animation
- Impressive boss fights

- Inconsistent, sometimes frustrating level design

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Jotun hours played at recording: 4

Completion Status on Jotun: incomplete

This copy of Jotun was given by the developers for review

The Beginner's Guide: Impressions First 10 min pure,

The Beginner's Guide is a surreal and immersive narrative about Davey Wreden's (Stanley Parable) developer friend, and why he retired. The way the game takes full advantage of what a medium like video games have to present is interesting, and smart.

So let me get this out of the way first and for most "Hold W to game". That's it. It's even less "gamey" than the Stanley Parable. I want people to understand this before even considering the Beginner's Guide. There's no mechanics, there's no real choice, it's very much a linear hour and a half trip being lead by Davey Wreden as the narrator. With that said, The Beginner's Guide really can't be told in any other form than through a video game.

The Beginner's Guide: Impressions + First 10 min pure, (gameplay, and review) Relevant information and links below The Beginner's Guide is the follow up to Davey Wreden's Stanley Parable.

Since the story is about Davey's developer friend, it takes you on an interactive tour through his friend's past games and levels. The game's aesthetics and concepts progressively get better and complex over time. The game is also very forth wall breaking, immersing the player into the narrative as a character in this story itself. Davey will often make reference to you, as you play through the game. It's a surreal experience, and it certainly breaks all sorts of video game norms.

If you're looking for a unique experience or just like really well told stories, The Beginner's Guide is an easy recommendation. However, if you're looking for a game, even for an off beat game, The Beginner's Guide might disappoint. As mentioned above, there's really no mechanics to speak of, other than hold W to game. In Gone Home you have to look for keys and can interact with objects all around. In The Stanley Parable you have a pseudo fail state and an Easter egg hunt for all the endings. Even in most other "Walking Simulators" you have some kind of puzzle, or obstacle along the way. Not in The Beginner's Guide. There's only 1 puzzle in the game, and that's solely there as a story element. There are dialogue choices to be made, but they have no significant (or any) effect on your game. It's very much a guided tour through an interactive narrative. It's also relatively short at an hour and a half (I finished it at exactly 91 minutes). But if you're able to focus on the quality of the experience the game tries to deliver, and willing to let go your previous conceptions of what to expect from a video game, The Beginner's Guide is top shelf material.

Overall The Beginner's Guide is a story that could only be told through a video game, yet ironically is one of the least "gamiest" game I've ever played. The story is surreal, immersive, and certainly something to be experienced for fans of great narratives, but the title of "video game" will be controversial to some on this one.

- Amazing Story
- Good use of the medium
- Surreal and immersive

- Hold "W" to Game
- Less incentive to replay than The Stanley Parable

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The Beginner's Guide hours played: 1.5

Completion Status on The Beginner's Guide: Complete

This copy of The Beginner's Guide was purchased on Steam

A Fistful of Gun: Impressions

Fistful of Gun is a top down arcade shooter that's best enjoyed with friends online or off, though it does support single player as well. It features quick round gameplay, a varied skill ceiling and some eye catching pixel art.

The premise is pretty simple. Pick from a large variety of characters, who all play very different from one another go out and shoot a bunch of stuff and dudes as the title would suggest. There are 2 main modes with a single and multiplayer variant to them. Arcade mode has you going round to round clearing the screen and at the end of the round you get to pick from an assortment of randomly generated upgrades. In story mode you can play either as a hero, or a bandit. As a hero you'll avoid innocent NPCs while shooting out the baddies. You'll get upgrades if you can find a store keep, or if you're lucky from barrels and crates. While if you play a bandit, you'll be doing similar except you'll be shooting every one, innocents be damned, and collect all the bounty from from your massacres. The balance to playing the bandit is, every one will shoot you on sight, and store keeps are rarer, as they tend to fear and run from you. 

The game's flow is pretty fast paced, some rounds only taking seconds to complete, though there will be a variety different events that may take more time. The game also runs on a limited continue system, and it's very possible to get a game over in your first few runs. It plays a lot more like an arcade classic than a modern game. Permanent gameovers, no quick save or loads, and a limited life counter are rarities in this age of gaming. Because of this, the game does benefit from faster paced style of gameplay, but that also means the game is short, can be potentially repetitive to some. 

The game is a lot of fun, but there are some issues I take with it. Though the character selection is fantastic, and I love how each character are so drastically different from one another the game can feel a bit samey after an hour or two. Even with the character variety you will be shooting and dodging over and over again, with only a handful of random events that help mix things up. To be fair, the game does help alleviate some of the monotony not just with character selection, but also with game mode variety as well. The game's controls can also be an issue at times. Some characters just play better on the keyboard and mouse, while some better on the gamepad, this is mostly due to the huge degree of divergence in the characters' play style. Though this is certainly something to be admired about the game, it also does require the player to have an encumbrance of hardware ready at hand to fully enjoy the game to it's max potential. Also be aware, during our time with the game, we also ran into some bugs as well, some gamebreaking, but since the writing of this review, I have noticed dozens upon dozens of updates. It's very possible they're patched out.

Overall A fist full of Gun is a really interesting top down arcade shooter. It's not perfect, and can be repetitive for some, but it does have a lot of potential, especially if the continue to support the game with more maps, and events, as that's what I think is lacking the most.

- Great Pixel Art
- Excellent variety in character selection
- Variable skill ceiling
- Very fun with friends online and off

- Lacks variety in events
- Requires both keyboard and gamepad to be enjoyed appropriately
- Some re balancing required

Albino Lullaby: Impressions

Albino Lullaby is an interesting title. It's a first person horror game adventure, that promises no jump scares! That's great for people like me, who enjoy horror games, but not the jump scares.

Mechanically Albino Lullaby is a pretty simple game. Walk around taking in the sights, collecting notes, and try not to get creeped out too much. Later on the game will introduce some minor stealth and combat mechanics as well. The game is really a lot more about the experience of it's atmosphere and story much more than it's mechanics.

The game's visuals is probably one the high points for Albino Lullaby. The textures have this pencil sketch look to it, the environments and characters are both beautiful and creepy at the same time. The game utilizes Unreal 4's engine for some pretty impressive lighting and rendering. The visuals are complimented by it's audio, with creepy background noises, subtle musical cues, and impressive voice acting. The game's presentation is spot on with what it's trying to achieve.

Though I certainly enjoyed the game greatly, it's not with out it's faults. My number one compliant has to be it's performance. Though the beginning half of the game runs relatively well with above 60FPS consistently, the second half is mired with tons of frame drops. The end part of episode 1 is so bad, that my frames dipped below 10FPS and I couldn't finish it because it was just torturous to put myself through it. The game also suffers a bit from poor difficulty scaling. The first half was mostly a "walking simulator" but the game all of a sudden injects such a challenge level, that I went from a relaxing (albeit creepy) walk in the park, to having to restart a section a half dozen or more times, then it teeters off back to easy mode. These are my biggest complaints about the game. The difficulty scaling didn't mire my experience too much, but the performance issues prevented me from completing the first episode. It should go with out saying, it definitely impacted my experience negatively. Luckily for us, performance issues can be patched out, and hopefully it will be in the near future.

Overall Albino Lullaby is an episodic game that seem to have a ton of potential. It's gorgeous in it's visuals, creepy in it's atmosphere, and features some damn good voice acting and dialog. It's really too bad about the performance issues, but at the time of this impression, it is a major negative factor. Luckily, I still found a lot of enjoyment out of Albino Lullaby. Here's hoping for some optimization patches soon.

- Amazing art design
- Great dialog and voice acting
- Atmospheric

- Terrible optimization on the 2nd half of episode 1
- Awkward difficulty scaling

Cross of the Dutchman

Cross of the Dutchman is an isometric adventurer that features a story based off of the real life figure of Pier Gerlofs Donia, a Dutch historical hero. The game is played in an isometric view where you'll be running around completing tasks as you explore the world and help save the people who you love.

Cross of the Dutchman is a pretty simple game mechanically. Combat only has 2 buttons. A basic swing, and a special attack that takes stamina to use. Upgrading is just as simple, with only health or stamina to increase, and you'll also be given the opportunity to purchase new special attacks as well. The basic swing is faster but weaker, but the special attack not only is stronger, but can send multiple enemies around you flying into the air, which is pretty satisfying. Out side of combat the game is pretty linear in it's structure. Though the world may look expansive on first impressions, many areas are gated off until the game want you to reach said area. There are also stealth segments sprinkled in between to add some variety.

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Cross of the Dutchman: Impressions (Isometric adventurer, gameplay, and review) Relevant information and links below Cross of the Dutchman is an isometric action adventurer that's based of of thew...

Cross of the Dutchman is a game that looks promising judging from trailers and screenshots, but after finishing the game in about three hours, the game shows a lot of flaws. As mentioned above the combat is very simple. This would be fine, except for the fact that it also feels sluggish, and it's the main activity besides running around. Since that's the case, it needed to be polished, it needed depth, but has none of the two. At no time did I ever switch to another special attack, or switch from sword to fist. Once I attained the sword and a special attack I liked it was all I used for the entire game. The adventuring in Cross of the Dutchman is also lacking. It being linear isn't an issue to me, but it demanding that I retread the same grounds three, four, or even five times over is ridiculous. There is a lot of running around in this game, A LOT of it. The game tries to break the monotony of either fighting or running with some stealth segments, but unfortunately the stealth is probably the poorest aspect of the game. It makes no sense why I can take on tens of soldiers at once one minute, then the next, I'm sneaking around just a couple of soldiers armed with lanterns! It makes no sense in the context of the mechanics, or the story, and is an obvious attempt at breaking up the flow in the game (which admittedly, does desperately need).

The game's also short, clocking in at three hours on my first play through, with a story that disappointed me. It's not that the story or characters are necessarily bad, it just wasn't memorable for me. Maybe because I'm Canadian and not Dutch, so I don't feel that historical connection, but there were no part of the game where I felt any emotions, or care for the characters.... except at the end. With out spoilers, the ending of the game was abrupt and felt cut off. The game's narrative finally reaches a point where something interesting happens. Where emotions and character development finally start to take place, then ROLL THE CREDITS! WUT?! Again, I don't want to spoil anything, but the game's ending feels more like the story only just started.

So I've mentioned a ton of things I took issues with, is there anything redeeming about Cross of the Dutchman? Though I've mentioned that I didn't like the combat much, the sense of impact when you hit an enemy, or especially when you use a special attack is really satisfying. Seeing a half dozen men go flying in the air, with some pretty good rag dolling and physics attached is actually pretty fun to see. The game also features some pretty good visual and audio design as well. The cut scenes are done in a still illustration format, but the illustrations are quite nice with a digital comic book look to them. The in game graphics, though low-poly, is quite charming, with colorful environments and characters, some nice particle and lighting effects, complimented with some pretty decent music. The game was also stable and optimized well for me. It never crashed nor did I encounter any major bugs, with it running at over 60 FPS the entire time.

Overall Cross of the Dutchman was a disappointment to me, as I am a fan of Triangle Studio's other game "It came from space, and ate our brains". From the screenshots, trailers, and based off of their previous work, I had high hopes for this game. Ultimately it lacks variety, depth, and it's further mired by an abrupt ending to it's story.

- Visual and audio are charming
- Great sense of visual and audio impact as you hit enemies

- Only 3 hours long with no replay value
- Basic and sluggish combat
- Poor stealth mechanics
- Too much running
- Abrupt ending to the story

Party Hard: Impressions (Stealth Murder Sim)

Party Hard has an interesting premise where you play the role of a psycho who simply does not like loud parties. His solution? Kill every one at the party of course! If I was to try an nail Party Hard to a single genre, I would say it's a tactical stealth game, though murder-sim also comes to mind.

The idea of putting the stealth genre into a crowded, open room, as Party Hard has done, is a pretty unique experience. In most other stealth games, the area is sparsely populated with tons of corners and objects to hide around, but in Party Hard you're in a large open room, where every one can see every one else. It makes stealth tactics much more interesting as the player will have to be creative on how he or she approach any given situation., with witnesses littered every where.

YouTube™ Video: Party Hard: Impressions (Tactical Stealth indie game, gameplay, and review)
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Party Hard: Impressions (Tactical Stealth indie game, gameplay, and review) Relevant information and links below Party Hard is an indie tactical stealth game where you play the role of a psycho who...

In Party Hard, the most basic way of accomplishing your goal of murder is simply to stab someone. It's also recommended that you dump the body somewhere unseen as they'll alert other party goers. The key here is not to get caught, even if someone alert the cops, as long as you don't get pined with the crime, you're still good to go. The game also gives you an assortment of randomly generated environmental traps and dangers, with each stage featuring it's own unique RNG generation. You can activate any of these traps at any given moment in order to help you murder the party. The game also encourages creative play, as each scenario plays out more like a sandbox. For example, there is a stage with a swimming pool. I got creative, and experimented with carrying passed out partiers into the pool to see if they'd drown. Indeed they did, and this is just one example of how you can get creative with the many "kill tactics" available to you. The overall premise of this idea, with how sandboxy the stages are designed, coupled with the random event generation that comes with every play though, the game does a good job at encouraging replay, while keeping things interesting and surprising.

Though the core of Party Hard is pretty enjoyable, and if nothing else, unique and interesting, it's not without it's faults. Your character's movement speed is at a snail's pace, with only a short, and slow regenerating stamina bar to help with it. It also encourages a lot of moving back and forth repetitively in order to dump bodies safely. Couple these 2 slow elements with the fact that when you fail a stage, you have to start at the beginning. Considering that some of the stages can take upwards to, if not over, 20 minutes to complete, the game can feel tedious at times.

Party Hard's overall creative stealth play, with it's interesting random event generation, I found it more enjoyable than tedious. It's overall a very unique and enjoyable experience, though some of the tedium will turn some players off.

- Unique stealth gameplay design
- Good visuals and audio
- Lots of dark comedy
- Random event generation keeps the game fresh

- Punishing fail state that waste time rather than teach a lesson
- Slow movement pace
- Can be repetitive

Hardland: Early Impressions

Hardland is a gorgeous looking ARPG in early access. The first thing that'll grab a lot of people's attention would probably be it's aesthetics. It's design being inspired by claymation the world and it's characters does have a pretty cartoony "doughiness" to it. At times the game feels almost like playing an interactive Pixar Movie.

Hardland as an ARPG is pretty simple overall. Go around a vast world, where the town areas are hand designed while the dungeons and wilderness are randomly generated. Kill some mobs, level up, find loot, explore, and maybe pick up a side quest or 2 along the way. There's no main quest that I've found so the game is very open to however the player decides to play it.

Hardland does a lot of stuff right. The graphics are impressive, it's well optimized and stable, it features an open sandbox for the player to explore with RNG elements keeping things fresh. These are all enjoyable factors of the game, but Hardland also does a lot of stuff wrong as well. With out a main quest and the side quest being mostly of the fetch variety, the game lacks a sense of direction. At first most players will be wandering around wondering what they're supposed to be doing before realizing, wandering around is what they're supposed to be doing. The game also lacks interest points. It's great that Hardland gives the player a vast and open world to explore, but I haven't found much interesting things to find. Sure there are some chests, and some side quest (again mostly fetch quests) laying around, but nothing that truly grabbed my attention. In such a vast and gorgeous looking world, it's a shame that I have to report on it's at times, empty feeling. The game also features fairly primitive mechanics. The leveling up system is basic, the equipment system is basic, even the combat feels basic. The game also suffers from a few quality of life issues. There is only 1 save slot, and all the items you collect are ordered by alphabetical. There is no equipment tab, food tab, or any sense of organization at all.

So I've mentioned a laundry list of things I took issues with, but I'm still feeling pretty positive about Hardland. I think the game has a ton of potential, and hope to see the game grow and add content as it continues forward. I think if the devs can overhaul the combat, and fill the world with more interesting discoveries, it's open world idea could very well be something special. It already has a gorgeous art design as a strong foundation, it just needs to be built upon at this point.

Overall Hardland is an ARPG that is bursting at the seams with potential. That potential just needs to be realized.

- Impressive visuals
- Vast and gorgeous world to explore
- Open world sandbox approach

- Lacks a sense of direction
- Lacks interest points
- Mechanics are very primitive

The Flock: Impressions

The Flock comes with an interesting hook in that it'll go offline and become unavailable for sale once the population counter ticks down to zero. The game itself is something similar to "juggernaut" game modes from other online games, but with an emphasis on stealth.

When you spawn into a match, each player tries to find and attain the light. Once attained that player will become the "Carrier" and every one else will remain as a "Flock". It features an asymmetrical cat and mouse style of gameplay where it's every one on the Carrier. You can gain points through killing flocks by shining the light on advancing Flocks, completing objective points, or simply through holding the light as long as possible. The Flock have a variety of ways to ambush the carrier. They can stand still which will put them into a "Petrified" mode giving full immunity to the light, they can also create decoys that they can teleport to at their will, and can give a howl that'll buff other Flocks around them. The core of this is pretty fun and interesting when you first jump into the game, though with this as the only game mode it can become repetitive after a while.

The Flock is also pretty easy on the senses. The environmental and character designs are suiting to the mood and atmosphere, with ancient looking dilapidated environments, and eerie music and sound effects. The Flock does a good job at communicating it's dark themes.

Though the hook of a permanent end to the game, and the core gameplay being initially enjoyable and interesting, the fun of "The Flock" doesn't last long. There are only 3 maps available and only 1 game mode. The game becomes very repetitive very quickly. There's also no incentive to continue playing with a huge disconnect from the mechanics and the perma-end concept. None of the mechanics would be affects if the perma-end system wasn't in place, and because of this, the immediacy that the game tried to force on the player falls flat. I feel like most players would be bored of the game before the countdown become relevant. You can experience every thing there is to experience in a matter of a couple of matches. Since that's the case, what's the incentive for players to protect the global population? Why should players care if it'll end permanently if the game can't hold their interest to see it to the end? There's not even a record system to track how much a player have contributed to the population countdown, making the game's premise feel pointless.

Besides the design flaws with it's perma-end system, and the lack of variety, the Flock also suffers from a myriad of technical issues. The game sometimes crash from alt-tabbing or when a match ends and sends the player back to the lobby. The graphics setting's effectiveness is questionable and while playing with those settings, my game refuses to go fullscreen, It's stuck on windowed mode. I've also experienced lobbies that refuse to start the game, and games where the goal (the light) refused to spawn in. To say the least, The Flock has a lot of problems.

Overall The Flock has an interesting foundation, but it's under developed, under conceptualized, and suffers from both technical and design flaws.

- Good looking and sounding
- The one game mode is fun for a little while

- Buggy
- No connection between the perma-end concept to it's mechanics
- repetitive
- Lacks content

20XX: Quick Look (Megaman Roguelike indie game, gameplay, and review)

20XX simply put, is Megaman X if it was a roguelike/lite. It plays and even looks like Megaman X, but in higher definition and add in a bunch of permadeath and random generation into the mix.

Once in the game you'll be platforming and shooting / slicing baddies until you reach the end where you'll fight a boss in an arena style setting, much like Megaman games. You can also collect various upgrades and weapons while traversing the RNG levels. These upgrades vary from passive effects, such as increase HP or attack power, to active effects such as a new primary weapon, or special ability. You'll also be able to dash, super jump, and you'll be utilizing the best of your platforming and side scrolling action skills.

The gameplay stay true to the Megaman formula but since it throws in a bunch of roguelike elements, such as RNG levels and enemy placement, it does suffer from level design when compared to the game's inspiration. Megaman games have always been known for challenging but memorable levels. With 20XX's dependence on randomly generated levels, it doesn't have the same impact in level design as original Megaman games. To contrast this critique, what the game gives up in hand designed levels, it makes up in replayablity, and variety. The game also offers 2 characters to play as. Nina, and Ace. I feel the game needs to take a look into the balance of the 2 characters, as Ace is by far much easier to use and often I do much better with him as a result.

The art and sound design are great. It emulates Megaman X games well, except brought into the modern age of 1080 and 60FPS. I don't have much complaints about it's presentation. Every thing about how the game look and sound does a great job of paying tribute to it's inspiration.

Overall 20XX is a very enjoyable roguelike/lite and the idea of mixing Megaman mechanics into the genre paid off. I feel the 2 genres are a great mix that seem so obvious once you play it!

- Excellent tribute to Megaman games
- Plays and feels great!
- Lots of replayablity and experimentation potential

- Reliance on RNG level design show some flaws
- Some minor imbalances between the 2 selectable characters

20XX hours played: 1.5

Completion Status on 20XX: N/A

This copy of 20XX was given by the developers for review

Caves of Qud: Early Impressions

Caves of Qud to break it down simply is a HD ASCII Roguelike. It's odd placing the acronyms "HD" and "ASCII" next to each other, but there really isn't a better way to describe the game. it keeps true to it's heritage of Dos based roguelikes, from it's HD ASCII visuals, to it's keyboard command scheme. Even the mechanics and visuals are redesigned versions of what you may find in games like Rogue or Dwarf Fortress.

If you've never played an ASCII Roguelike game before, getting into Caves of Qud, could prove challenging. It won't control like modern games, forgoing mouse and gamepad, and sticking strictly to keyboard commands. There is a help menu which I highly recommend any new player to check before proceeding. But once you get over the learning curve, you'll find an expansive randomly generated world to explore, with a ton of replay and experimentation potential. You'll be able to create your own class, and tackle the game's quest and world as you see fit. It's wide, expansive, and deep.

Visually it may look unimpressive at first glance, but when you compare it to it's original ASCII version you can clearly see where all the work went into. Instead of actual ASCIIs as representation of the characters and the world, the game uses low-fi sprites that carry a similar visual feel of ASCIIs. Even the font choice and spacing is carefully designed to remind us of older times, while keeping things modern and easily read. There is no sound to speak of, no music, no midis. The game is in early access so it could be something to be added later, however, I suspect the omission is done intentionally, as the original Caves of Qud featured no sounds as well.

The game is fantastic, even as a player who've never played a whole lot of ASCII games in the past, but with that said, it's not perfect. Though the lack of sound could of been done deliberately, I'd still prefer if it featured some midi sounds to go with it. Also the initial area is consistent and always the same, with areas outside of the starting point being RNG. This coupled with the high learning curve of Caves of Qud will make the initial few tries at the game feel more tedious than if it was also randomly generated as well.

Overall Caves of Qud is what I'd like to consider "The Pillars of Eternity of Roguelikes". Much like Pillars of Eternity, Caves of Qud keeps manage to update both the gameplay and visuals of it's inspired genre, with out sacrificing the original's spirit, all while being an immensely enjoyable experience.

- Great looking "HD" ASCII sprites and design
- Keeps true to it's heritage
- Deep and engrossing
- Endless experimentation and replayability

- Might not be for every one
- No sounds

Absolute Drift: Impressions

Absolute Drift is an interesting top down car game, that focuses much more on drifting and the control of the car, rather than racing. You'll be doing your best to drift around corners, doing donuts, and fish tails in order to score as much points and to accomplish as much tasks as possible.

YouTube™ Video: Absolute Drift: Impressions (Drift driving adventure game, indie, gameplay, and review)
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Absolute Drift: Impressions (Drift driving adventure game, indie, gameplay, and review) Absolute Drift is an interesting top down driving indie game, that focuses on drifting more than racing.

Once in the game you'll be thrown into a somewhat open world where you'll be doing various tasks, such as ramp jumping, donuts, fish tails, and other drifting and driving challenges. Once the section of the map's tasks are complete, it'll open up new areas of the game. While exploring this semi-open world, you'll also be given the opportunity to enter one of it's many mini-missions where you'll be aiming for high scores on the leader board. The game also features multiple car models, and colour and pattern customization as well.

The biggest hurdle to Absolute Drift is it's learning curve. It's not an easy game to master and make little concession to beginning or even intermediate players. The controls are difficult at first, as the car feel very differnt from other driving games, and the ground feels something like ice. Spinning out and losing control of your car will probably be your first 30 minutes or more of your experiance. This might prove frustrating to players who don't play a lot of driving games (like me) but when you start to get the hang of things, and the small amounts of progress that you make in your driving ability really does feel rewarding. How ever, if you are a fan of driving games, it's focus on high teir play may very well be an attraction to you.

The game also looks great, as it's polished and clean look catches the eye, with it's minimalist design, with great music that suit the game's look and feel. Infact, the game's OST was one of the main motavators to push through the initial frustration of the controls. I just wanted to keep playing so I could keep listening to the amazing sound track.

Overall, Absolute Drift is an interesting car game that I mostly enjoyed. I loved the presentation, I love the music, I love the concept. The only thing holding me back from enjoying the game to it's full potential is my sucky driving in combination with the game's extremly high learning curve.

- Great visuals
- Amazing sound track
- An interesting concept
- High teir driving fans would probably love the challenge level

- Extremely high learning curve
- Frustrating at times

Feist: Quick Look

Feist is a heavily stylized 2D platformer. It features a great looking art design with physics based platforming. You don't have a default attack, but you'll be able to pick up and push objects in the environment to keep foes at bay, and to solve puzzles.

The mechanics are very simple and because of this, Feist is a fairly accessible game. It's not a hard game to pick up and play on a whim. Though it's design is minimalist, the game is quite challenging. There were a few segments where I felt relatively frustrated. Some times the solution isn't immediately clear, or the game suddenly spikes in it's difficulty. Trial and error will be key to success.

The art, audio, and overall presentation is gorgeous. Strong silhouettes, and a pleasant colour pallet really help sell the game's look. The audio also adds a ton to the atmosphere and is quite easy on the ears.

Feist overall is a pretty enjoyable platformer. A few frustrating moments, and the mechanics are fairly simple, but it has it's charm, and I found it fairly satisfying.

- Great art design and audio
- Good use of the game's physics
- Some interesting puzzle segments

- Some parts frustrating
- Very basic mechanics

No Time to Explain Remastered: Quick Look

No Time to Explain is a comedic puzzle platformer that features ridiculous amounts of "rocket jumping". You have an extremely powerful and exaggerated laser, though sometimes the game will change it up with different weapons, such as an equally powerful and exaggerated shotgun. Rather than using these weapons to combat creeps, you'll be using them to traverse and solve the level.

The mechanics are simple and easily understood. You can move left and right, jump, aim, shoot, and do a little jig (there is a dance button. Why? Reasons). It's really just that simple. You'll be using the game's weapon that it provides to work out a solution to the end of the map, with the map and the game's physics itself as your adversaries. As mentioned before, there are no mobs to fight (at least from what I've played). The only combat that I've experienced so far, with almost 2 hours in, is the boss fights them selves. The puzzles are satisfying and the map designs are smart, but I do feel the game could of gained rather than detracted if it threw in a few combat scenarios. It feels almost like a waste, that the player can't use these impressive weapons in more meaningful ways, other than traversing. Luckily, the puzzle and platforming aspect is quite well done and serves well as the game's main dish.

The presentation is a little simplistic but it does the job. It goes with a flash cartoon look, something similar to say Castle Crashers, but the characters and animation has a charming appeal to it. The game's focus on comedy really helps out with it's overall feel and atmosphere. It's probably not the best looker of the year, but there's something really lovable about the characters and the animation.

Overall, No Time to Explain is an interesting take on the puzzle platform genre, with smart level design, charming animations, and ridiculous weaponry. I can safely say, I've enjoyed my time with the game.

- Charming and comedic characters and animation
- The weapons feel very powerful
- Smart map design

- Under utilizes the awesome weapons

The Last Dogma: Impressions

The Last Dogma is a slightly off beat narrative focused adventure game. There's very few combat sequences (less than a handful), and very little to interact with.

The game focuses instead on dialog and story, however the dialog choices given have no consequences and have no baring to the outcome of the game. It's also incredibly cryptic just for the sake of being cryptic with out any connection to the gameplay. The story is also incoherent and a lot of the story sequences are incredibly drawn out, long winded, confusing, and with no player interaction.

The Last Dogma: Impressions (Adventure, story driven, indie, gameplay, and review) The Last Dogma is a strange adventure game, that compares itself to the Stanley Parable. Does it compete?

The game is also plagued with technical hic ups, and poor presentation. There are parts of the game where the player can walk off the ledge of the map, visual glitches all over the place, and poor grammar and spelling just to name a few issues. The game also features a ridiculous menu system where you have to use the "F" keys to adjust your visual settings with the settings themselves vaguely labeled as anything useful. Also the game features inconsistent model quality and incredibly blurry textures when you get up close.

So I've pointed out a lot of issues with the game, is there anything at all redeeming about it? The Last Dogma is a one man project, so in that context some of the environmental design is actually pretty interesting, and sometimes even look quite good, as long as you don't get too close to anything. The game is also priced relatively low as well, at $7.00usd it's not an overly steep price for the most curious.

Overall The Last Dogma falls flat on almost every aspect. Inconsistent visuals, technical bugs, and presentation quality are all issues, but the one aspect that takes the cake is the lack of gameplay and the incoherent story.

- Some interesting environmental design
- Reasonable asking price

- Incoherent themes and story
- Lacks gameplay
- Short
- Buggy
- poor presentation

Spectra: Quick Look (Score Attack, Racing, Indie game)

Spectra is a flashy cyber punk score attack game that features simple mechanics, but challenging gameplay.

The game's premise is pretty simple. Keep your ship on the track, steer it away from danger, and collect points. Hit an obstacle and you lose your current score chain. The game focuses more on the score attack aspect than actually completing the track, though for obvious reasons, completing a track gives the player more opportunity to build his or her score. There's 10 tracks total, and a hardcore version of them as well, offering the player a decent amount of gameplay.

Visually the game looks great, with a cyberpunk, almost Tron aesthetic. The music and audio are great as well, with fantastic upbeat chiptunes that fit right into the game's atmosphere. Presentation wise, I have no complaints.

Though the game is simple, yet challenging, it does suffer a little from monotony. Though each progressing track get harder and harder, it's really more of the same, but with more obstacles, or an extra turn. As far as variety is concerned, the game lacks in the department.

Overall, Spectra is a very easy to learn, yes hard to master game. It has a nice polished presentation, and ideal for the who like score attack games, or as a distraction from your more main staple games.

- Polished presentation
- accessible
- Challenging Gameplay

- Repetitive

Traverser: Impressions (Puzzle adventure)

Traverser is an interesting isometric puzzle adventurer, that features physics based puzzles as the player explore the game's dystopian world.

In the game you play as a young girl, who's a trained Traverser, special candidates who can manipulate objects with a special glove. In the beginning you'll find your father missing and that's where your story start. As you play you'll learn more about the wonderfully designed underground world, and it's many secrets. It's a story of dystopia set in a steampunk fantasy world.

The mechanics are simple enough. With your special Traverser glove you can pick up objects, have full control of the X, Y, and Z axis. You'll be using this very simple ability through out the game, stacking objects to get to ledges, dropping objects on weighted platforms, or even using it to build pipes. The game also features some stealth segments as well, having the player sneak past guards and cameras, as well as other segments where it'll require the player to explore the map. But to emphasis my opening remarks, it is the object manipulation and puzzle solving that takes focus here.

The game is quite a looker, with a great art style that capitalizes on the game's low poly look. With hand illustrated textures, dramatic lighting, and a delicious color pallet that you can almost taste. The voice acting and sound track are of equal praise. The actors portray emotions and character, while the ambient sounds and subtle music adds to the game's well developed environment, all of which, are stylized in a wonderfully steam punk manner.

The game looks and sound great, and the premise is simple enough, but how does it play? To put it bluntly, the game is very simple. Most of the puzzles aren't overly difficult, and the combat consist of little more than moving some objects and bumping it into enemies. For gamers that want complex, multi-layered gameplay, Traverser might not be suitable, even for those who are looking for a challenging puzzle experience, I feel Traverser may disappoint. How ever, I feel Traverser was never designed to be a brain teaser type of puzzler, rather, a more relaxed approach is taken. For those who just want to chill to some satisfying puzzles, that won't frustrate too long, while offering a wonderfully designed world to explore, Traverser can be a great experience. It wasn't the puzzles that kept me interested in the game, rather, the story and the sights. I enjoyed exploring the world and learning more about the situation, characters, and environment that it takes place in. It was my biggest incentive to keep playing.

Overall Traverser is an interesting physics based puzzler, where I feel the story and world, carries a large portion of the game.

- Great design and aesthetics
- Very Accessible
- Great story and characters
- Great voice acting

- Very simple mechanics
- Isometric view can hinder precision

Postal 2 Paradise Lost: Impressions

Postal 2 Paradise Lost is an expansion to an eleven year old game. Not often this happens but I think it was a pretty interesting and a smart idea by Running with Scissors. Postal 2 was definitely their greatest hit, and with Postal Three being panned by both critics and fans a like, Paradise Lost proves to be a worth wild experiment.

Paradise Lost being an expansion to an eleven year old game, there's going to be some issues that comes with that. The most obvious one is the visuals. Since it's not a remaster, It definitely looks dated. Also, since it's an expansion, it needs to remain consistent to it's base game. Because of this, it uses eleven year old design philosophy. There's no iron sights, no reload, and the player can carry what seems to be a fright truck's worth of inventory. To newer gamer's this might actually be a charming factor, as games today simply don't feature what feels like dinosaur mechanics. Though it comes with a cost, which is the overall gameplay. The gun play is obviously lacking, and if you don't voluntarily cause mayhem as you play, it does turn into something of a walking simulator.

With all that said, luckily for the game, the gameplay and visuals are probably not the incentive for most who would be interested. What Postal 2 Paradise Lost does well is it's humor, and the amount of room it gives the player to goof off. Although it's not required to cause chaos as you play, Postal 2 Paradise Lost fills the world with open levels and a ton of tools and NPCs for the player to play around with. The game gives the player a huge amount of inventory space to give incentive to play in the sandbox. Wasting a few rockets for no reason carry little penalties as sequences where you'll require the lost ammo to accomplish a boss fight, is often littered around those areas. The tools provided for the player to play with are as absurd as the concept of the game. Diseased cow heads, hedge clippers, a d!ldo grenade, hell, you can even unzip your pants, and urinate on people to "stun" your opponents, causing them to vomit in place.

The game also features a no apology approach to black comedy. It's not afraid to poke fun at touchy subjects, make jokes that the more sensitive would find offensive, and simply put, is lewd, crude, and rude. For any one who's sick of all the politically correct games out there, Postal 2: Paradise lost will be a nice refresher. It's also really interesting to see the Postal brand of humor being applied to more current themes and subjects. When you see a certain famous journalist prancing around the game that's eleven years old, it's almost a surreal feeling. Just a PSA though: If you ARE one who has a steak of being offended by entertainment, stay away. Stay away for the sake of your own sanity.

Overall Postal 2 Paradise Lost is a hilarious trip down memory lane. It keeps to the spirit of the original Postal 2, and succeeds in reproducing the magic that captivated audiences those eleven years ago. Those who like their comedy raunchy, and their gameplay chaotic, Paradise Lost will not disappoint.

- Hilariously offensive
- Tons of room and tools to experiment with in causing mayhem
- Charismatic characters and story
- Captures the essence of the original Postal 2

- Dated Graphics
- Dated Mechanics
- Not for every one

Turmoil: Quick Look

To break Turmoil down quickly, it's a business oil tycoon simulation, that distills sim mechanics to the basics.

In Turmoil, the game feature upgrade options to better your oil drilling business while competing with other tycoons for land and resources. The goal is to make as much money as possible, as you would expect from these kinds of games. 

The mechanics are simple enough. You have a town phase, where each tycoon get an opportunity to upgrade and buy new equipment, get loans from banks, and even do some underhanded business dealings, bribing prominent members of the community. Once that's set, each tycoon will bid on their plot of land, each tycoon can out bid each other, if there's a valuable plot available, adding an extra layer of competitiveness. Once all the pre planning is complete, you'll head out and start digging for oil. 

Digging for Oil is very simple. Just hire some dossers to find hidden plots of oil, then lay down some drills to start digging. Hire some horse and buggy to transport your oil to what ever company is paying the most. The strategy is a mix of hide and seek, as you look for more oil plots, and business management, as it requires a delicate balance of profit, time, and costs.

Turmoil's visuals are definitely bright and cheery, but it does have a distinct frontier look, with an audio to match. It's of a fairly simple design, with a minimalist art design. It might not be appreciated by all gamers, but I found it to be charming.

Turmoil is fairly addictive, and found there to be a decent amount of content to play through, but I did find it a bit repetitive. Each excursion plays almost exactly the same, with only your purchased upgrades making any difference. Once you find a groove, a set of actions you find most efficient, you'll be sticking to the same strategy through out the game. 

Turmoil overall was a pretty fun romp. A great little simulation game to break away from other main staples of the genre. Though the game can get repetitive, it does offer a decent serving for the player.

- A decent size game
- Simple and easy to learn

- Repetitive

ARK Survival Evolved: Impressions

Ark is an open world survival sandbox with dinosaurs in Early Access. Though there have been others with a similar concept in the past, Ark is by far the most ambitous of the bunch.

In Art you have your usual tasks from the survival sandbox genre. You run around gathering simple materials such as rocks, and wood, and from that you'll make your first simple tool. From there you can start crafting some simple structures. It's pretty usual stuff for the genre, but Ark has a few tricks up it's sleeves to set itself apart. There's a large focus on training dinosaurs in this game. Once trained there are a nice few things you can do with them. You can sadle them up and ride them for more efficient transportation, have them follow you like a watch dog, and even mate them with others. You can raise an army of dinos who will follow you into combat while you mount your favorite one. It's even possible to mount teradactols, allowing the player to experiance flight!

Ark also features an interesting progression system as well. Each level you gain you'll be able to level up one of your main stats and be rewarded points that go towards unlocking more advnaced recipes. Crafting is on a progressive scale, much like your level. As you gain higher levels, more advnaced recipes will become available. It's a nice system, as it gives the player a sense of progress and something clear to strive for.

The graphics are quality as well. The game features extremly high fedelity enviroments, with great looking textures and models, highlighted by some amazing lighting and effects. The sound design is also quite nice with beliveable roars from the dinos around you.

Though Ark has a ton to offer even in it's early access form, the game isn't with out problems. At the moment the main concern is performance. Due to the game's extremely high fedelity, the game dosn't run very well on low-mid teir machines. I had to fiddle around with the exe file and a bunch of Nvidia setting to get even 20 FPS out of the game. It has been making incrimental improvements, but the majority of the problem still persist as of this impression. Another critique I have is Ark could use a tutorial. I didn't have too much of an issue jumping into the game, but only because I've played my share of survival games. For those who are new to the genre, Ark does nothing for those players. There's no tutorial, no guide, not even popup help tips. It just throws the player into the middle of a jungle and hope for the best. Hopefully a proper tutorial will be added before the release of the game out of early access.

Overall Ark is an extremely enjoyable survival game that puts the dinos in the fore front of it's features. The game is ambitious and the content feels very satasfying. It just needs to run smoother, a LOT smoother.

- Dinosaurs are varied and intrical to the game's design
- A pile of content right from day one!
- Enjoyable progression system

- Performance needs a major overhaul
- No tutorial for new players


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ARK Survival Evolved hours played: 17

Completion Status on ARK Survival Evolved: N/A

This copy of ARK Survival Evolved was gifted on Steam.

Axiom Verge: Impressions

Axiom Verge takes classic Metroidvania gameplay and brings it into the modern age while keeping true to it's inspiration.

Axiom Verge has all the trappers of classic games from this genre. Tons of weapons and items to be found, hidden treasures tucked away in breakable walls, and an emphasis on map exploration and item experimentation. The game captures the spirit of it's inspirations perfectly. While playing Axiom Verge I was instantaneously brought back to my youth, shooting at every wall I saw, hoping for a new rocket upgrade. It loosk, and plays, exactly like old Metroid or Castlevania games, while managing to keep itself feeling too much like a carbon copy. The game also seem to be quite lengthy as well. I've played over 4.5 hours and my save file says I've only unlocked 29% of the game and 18% of the items, which suggest I still have a lot of game left.

The game's art design is fantastic. The pixel art is crisp and sharp, perfectly rendered for modern hardware, while it retains it's classic 8-16bit style. Unlike other pixel indie games, where the pixel art are often more of an artistic interpenetration of the classics classic than a representation of it's inspirations, Axiom Verge is a true representation of what classic pixels could look today. The game also features a fantastic sound track that is well suited to the atmosphere and it's overall presentation is simply perfectly conceptualized to reflect the game's retro heritage.

If I was to critique the game for any thing (which I will of course), I would say the weapon balance is a bit off. Out of the 5 weapons I currently have I only use 2 regularly. The other weapons feel like fluff, to boost the game's list of features with out having much merit when in practice. I also find the game's death penalty to be rather light since there's no limit on lives or continue, and no currency to lose, it simply just send you back to your last save point. The penalty for death is so light, that it can often be abused as a short cut, killing yourself to reach a point of the map with out having to run back.

Overall Axiom Verge is a fantastic retro throwback to a time gone by, and it does it while modernizing it for current players with out sacrificing the spirit of it's inspirations. Axiom Verge is a very easy recommendation for any one interested in playing a modern retro game.

- Plays very well, and very true to it's retro inspirations
- Large game!
- Great pixel art and sound track
- Lots of secrets to uncover

- Unbalanced weapons
- Death Penalty too light and exploitable

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Axiom Verge hours played: 4.5

Completion Status on Axiom Verge: Incomplete

This copy of Axiom Verge was purchased on Steam.

Hatred: Impressions

Hatred is an isometric shooter where you play as a psychopath who's out to murder thousands of people. The premise is simple, but also the very thing that garnered the game so much attention. The game plays well enough, and it's quite violent, but at the same time, I feel the media has made the game out to be worst than it actually is.

Each level of Hatred will provide it's own challenge and goals, many are quite linear, but there are missions where it takes a more open world sandbox approach. As far as gameplay goes, it's your standard issue isometric shooter. You can run, perform executions to replenish your HP, crouch, pick up new weapons, etc, basically, standard fare. One thing Hatred introduces to this genre is the idea of killing innocent NPCs. In other games where the option to kill innocent NPCs are made available, they rarely give the player any incentive to partake in the action, but Hatred doesn't just give incentive, it makes it the main point. The issue with this is, shooting NPCs that can't fight back is really boring! After a while, the police, swat, and military will show up, which makes the game a lot more enjoyable and interesting, but there are some missions where a large portion of it, is rather dull, gunning down hundreds of unarmed NPCs that offer no challenge what so ever.

Artistically the game has it nailed down. It's heavily stylized with it's black and white aesthetics. Pops of red and blue are the only colors that line the game. The lighting and environments look great, brooding and gritty, very appropriate to the atmosphere. Hatred also features a low, brooding sound track, that never over powers, but adds a ton to the mood. It also features a physics engine that is sure to impress, as gun fire breaks away the walls that surround you. It's a great looking game! But be aware, the game can be buggy at times with NPCs flipping out, cars floating in the air, and other weird oddities.

For all it's controversy, Hatred is not the worst on the market. Mortal Kombat is gorier, Hotline Miami is more violent, and Postal 2 was more psychotic. The ONLY thing that set Hatred apart from the other games mentioned is that you play as a the villain that takes place in a (some what) realistic world. Basically, Hatred is controversial by concept only, the content of the game really isn't even a quarter as disturbing as the media would have you believe.

Overall Hatred is a competent isometric shooter that has an edgy theme to it. The gameplay itself is nothing special or revolutionary but does the trick. The controversy surrounding this game is way overblown, and dosn't deserve the AO rating (M would be appropriate). At the end of the day, Hatred isn't bad, but it's nothing special either.

- Great looking style
- Competent gameplay
- Challenging (Once the police shows up)

- Does nothing new or special in terms of gameplay
- Shooting NPCs that don't fight back can get boring.

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Hatred hours played: 4

Completion Status on Hatred: Incomplete

This copy of Hatred was purchased on Steam.

Sym: Quick Look

Sym is an interesting puzzle platformer that utilizes both the negative and positive space in the level design.

You'll be trying to get from point A to point B, but there are multiple dangers and obstacles to over come in each map. From dangerous saws to man eating plants, there is a fair amount of things to avoid. But other than dangerous obstacles, the game will require the player to think about using both the positive and negative space to traverse the world. If you find a ledge too high, go into the negative space where gravity is also reversed. Through that, you'll be able to reach platforms that would otherwise be unreachable. It's a bit of a fresh take on puzzle platformers, and the positive / negative space mechanic is smartly designed.

Aesthetically the game has a very interesting style. Every thing is rendered in a black and white, almost pencil sketch look, with a very surreal design behind it. The music is pleasant and suiting to the armosphere. It's a pretty good looker with out stressing out your machine.

Though Sym is a pretty satisfying puzzler with some unique ideas, it's not perfect. There are some serious quality of life issues that needs to be addressed. The game feels like it would suit a gamepad perfectly, yet has no gamepad support what so ever. There's also minimal options for the player to tune, and the resolution isn't in proper 1080p. These issues feel like short comings and mar the overall quality to the game.

Overall Sym is an interesting puzzler with a unique look. The levels are satisfying to solve, though the game could use some better features and options.

- Unique positive / negative space mechanic
- Interesting surreal look
- Good soundtrack

- No gamepad support
- Poor options

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Sym hours played at recording: 1

Completion Status on Sym: Incomplete

This copy of Sym given by the developers for review

Steredenn: Quick Look

Steredenn is a shmup (shoot'em up) with a very interesting idea. Let's throw some RNG (random) level into the mix! You'll be going through proceedrally generated levels shooting up bad guys and avoiding bullets in a tough as nails challenge level.

The game features wonderfully rendered pixel art, with a great metal sound track to add that additional bit of attitude. As far as presentation is concerned I have little to complain about.

Steredenn is pretty standard fare as far as shmups are concerned. Shoot things, don't get shot, get them pick ups, and don't die! What set Steredenn apart from it's competitors is it's RNG nature. Most shmups have consistent levels and encounters. It's often designed this way for this genre because shmups are traditionally a very player skill oriented genre, and consistency is often needed in skill orientated activities. Steredenn throws that out the window and offer replayablity over consistency, with new encounters each play through. 

Overall Steredenn is a very enjoyable shmup, with great aesthetics and sound, and I can't wait to see the game progress further.

- Excellent Pixel art presentation
- Great sound track
- RNG makes this shmup a little unique
- Addictive and challenging

- Low on content
- RNG could make the learning curve more difficult than other shmups.

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Steredenn hours played at recording: 2

Completion Status on Steredenn: Incomplete

This copy of Steredenn given by the developers for review

Castaway Paradise Complete Edition: Impressions

Castaway Paradise is an interesting take on the Animal House Crossing formula. Much like it's inspiration, you go around your island home, doing various tasks, such as gardening, clean up, fishing, and quests for your friends. Through these activities you'll gain XP and currency to help progress, and customize both your character and your island home. It's a pretty simple premise and should be pretty easy to grasp for all gamers of all age and level.

The game isn't hard to learn, and it's not one I would say it's focused on player skill. Rather, it's fairly relaxing, and could be argued as mindless, but I'd like to call it simple. The controls are all through mouse clicks, from moving your character to watering your plants. Accessibility is one of the game's biggest strengths and the learning curve is very easy going and should be able to be enjoyed by even the youngest of audience. 

Though the game is simple, I do feel it to be fairly satisfying. Earning xp to unlock the next set of things to customize my island and character with, purchasable with the ingame currency earned, there's something really addictive about this formula. I found myself endlessly checking on all my plants, constantly chasing the next quest, and doing it over and over again, Castaway Paradise has mastered the endless loop design of Animal Crossing. Because of this, it's arguable that the game can start feeling grindy after a while, but I don't think it was designed for long stretches of play, rather, like it's inspiration Animal Crossing, really meant to be visited for an hour or just a few minutes each day.

In Animal Crossing there is a pile of incentive to keep playing, or at least to visit each day. You can unlock mini-games, trigger events in game during real time holidays and celebrations. In Castaway Paradise I've yet to see any of these elements. I've only played for about 3 hours on the game's launch, so since this genre requires real world, time commitment over months, if not years, it's difficult for me to say if these elements are apart of the game. I'm of course hoping that these interesting tidbits spearheaded by Animal Crossing is also included into Castaway Paradise in some way. If there is a lack of mini-games to be unlocked, or if it isn't real world holiday sensitive I feel the game would be lacking some of the most charming elements that made Animal Crossing so memorable. Again, these are elements that I simply can not comment on for Castaway Paradise, as I do understand will require time to full flesh out, if it's there at all.

Overall Castaway Paradise is a charming little Animal Crossing-like, that seem to be doing a pretty good job at emulating it's inspiration. Only time can tell the true quality of the game, as this genre is really meant to be played over long periods of real work dates. But speaking solely from the 3 hours I've experience, it won me over. 

- Charming visuals
- Addictive gameplay
- Lots to unlock
- (so far) does a good job at emulating it's inspiration (Animal Crossing)

- Can be considered grindy
- Might be too simple for some

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Castaway Paradise Complete Edition hours played: 3

Completion Status on Castaway Paradise Complete Edition: N/A

This copy of Castaway Paradise Complete Edition was given by the developers for review.