Aldershot

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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.

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

Cons:
- No gamepad support
- Poor options




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Sym on Steam:
http://store.steampowered.com/app/342100/

Sym official website:
http://www.atraxgames.com/sym/

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.

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

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



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Steredenn on Steam:
http://store.steampowered.com/app/347160/

Steredenn official website:
http://steredenn.pixelnest.io/

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. 

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

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




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Castaway Paradise Complete Edition on Steam
http://store.steampowered.com/app/304950/

Castaway Paradise Complete Edition official web site
http://stolencouchgames.com/castawayparadise/

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.

Republique Remastered: Impressions



Republique is an interesting take on the stealth genre. It mixes some point and click sensibilities with classic stealth and puzzle elements. All presented in a polished and expertly crafted world.

In Republique, you don't control the girl exactly, rather, you're a 3rd party entity that can control the cameras in the world, as well as any other electronic device. You'll be task to guide the girl through the game, through simple point and click commands, while having the ability to hack devices to your advantage. The fact that you see through the camera's perspective makes for some interesting gameplay. Being able to jump from camera to camera, allowing you to scout ahead of the girl for potential danger is one that's pretty fresh. Couple that with the hacking abilities and that it's a point and click, Republique has some fresh and interesting ideas for the stealth genre.

Though I did find the gameplay and stealth satisfying I think it's only fair I also mention that it's was also not the most challenging stealth game I've ever played. Because the girl is controlled mostly by an AI, with you serving only as a guide to her destination, I feel that the enemy AI has been scaled back in order to compensate. The enemy AI isn't the greatest, often missing the girl sneaking right next to them. But as mentioned before, due to the way the game was designed, this is some what understandable, but does come with a cost to the game's overall challenge level. For those who are really into stealth games, this could be perceived as a negative, but for those who are new to the genre, or like easier going games, this could be considered "accessible". How you feel about this will be very subjective.

Republique features some impressive visuals, taking full advantage of Unity 5's technology, and leaning on the team's professional background. The aesthetics are wonderfully designed, with expertly crafted models and textures, and lighting that would make Hollywood jealous. There's also some great voice over work with well known actors in the game industry. Presentation wise, I have little to no complaints about Republique. It's polished, it's professional, and it has a ton of style.

There's a lot to like about Republique but it's not perfect. The story of the game, with as little spoilers as possible, is one of a dystopian setting. It has all the classic elements, oppression, unreasonable mass surveillance, the lost of personal identity, hell it even has some book burning involved. I usually am a sucker for dystopian stories but I found Republique's to be rather cliche, offering very little new to the genre. I've played through ep 1-3 (whats currently available as of this impression) and it just repeats the same tropes that every one have seen a thousand times over in other dystopian tales. Even the characters in the game are weak with out much development. The story of the game was my biggest point of contention. Not necessarily because it was bad, but because it was incredibly average. I'm hoping that the future installments of ep. 4-5 will fix this issue, though I feel 1-3 was weak from a narrative stand point.

Republique overall is a strong and interesting entry into the stealth and point and click genre. If you're a fan of either of those types of games, I think Republique is worth checking out. It offers a lot of fresh ideas, and a polished to a shine presentation. If you're looking for an original and engrossing dystopian tale, Republique may disappoint, but because of how interesting and how high quality the other elements that make up Republique, I would still recommend checking it out if you have the chance.

Pros:
- Professional quality presentation
- Unique and interesting ideas for both the point and click and stealth genre
- Accessible

Cons:
- Cliche story
- Could be considered overly forgiving in challenge



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Republique Remastered on Steam
http://store.steampowered.com/app/317100/

Republique Remastered official web site
http://www.camouflaj.com/

Republique Remastered hours played: 6

Completion Status on Republique Remastered: Complete (ep.1-3)

This copy of Republique Remastered was given by the developers for review.

Trine 3 The Artifacts of Power: Quick Look


Trine 3 is still in early access, so the content will be limited. This is the first thing I want people to understand.
The game takes what the Trine series have already established, creative puzzles and level design, gorgeous graphics, and entertaining co-op gameplay, and then add in a new dimension, more specifically, the third dimension. Unlike it's predecessors, in Trine 3 you can move in and out of the background on all X, Y, and Z axis.

The additional dimension will evoke new puzzle elements and a new way to think about puzzling and platforming. It's really hard to say if this is to the serie's benefit or detriment at this point simply because there's not enough of the game to really judge that quite yet. As mentioned before, Trine 3 is in early access, and as of this impression (v0.04 Build 2882) there's only the first 2 chapters, 2 challenge levels, and a sandbox map. There's only about 1.5 hours of gameplay, and because of the lack of content at the moment, it's very difficult to judge if the new dimension adds, or detract from the classic formula.

What I can say from the brief amount of gameplay I've experienced, is that the presentation and aesthetics is top shelf quality, the controls feel responsive, the puzzles (so far) are satisfying with out being too frustrating, and it was a joy to play. I'd just like to see a lot more of it.

For fans of the Trine series, Trine 3 seem to be shaping up to be of a great quality, but once again, be aware there is VERY limited amount of content so far. The game also suffers from some optimization issues as well, but overall it's on the right path.

$20 might be asking for a little much for what's currently available, but I would suggest at the very least, adding this to your watch list, and check it out again when it's in it's final release. It definitely is showing a lot of promise.

Pros:
- Gorgeous aesthetics
- Easy to learn
- Creative puzzles and level design

Cons:
- Not enough content currently (v0.04 Build 2882)
- Needs optimization




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Trine 3 The Artifacts of Power on Steam:
http://store.steampowered.com/app/319910/

Trine 3 The Artifacts of Power official website:
http://www.frozenbyte.com/games/trine-3-the-artifacts-of-power/

Trine 3 The Artifacts of Power hours played at recording: 2

Completion Status on Trine 3 The Artifacts of Power: v0.04 Build 2882 completed

This copy of Trine 3 The Artifacts of Power given by the developers for review