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AI War 2 is a strategy game where you control a fleet spreading throughout the galaxy taking worlds from an AI force attempting to eradicate the AI command center whilst discovering new technologies and ships as you spread throughout the galaxy yourself conquering worlds controlled by AI forces, however by doing this you incur the wrath of the AI building a meter which increases the ferocity and strength of the AI as well as triggering a variety of countermeasures employed by the AI to counter your attacks and to take back worlds you’ve captured.

Whilst there are a number of differences between the original AI war fleet command and this sequel there are a few significant ones worth noting, firstly that scouting and capturing worlds has been streamlined and made a lot easier to have everything under the control of a command fleet carrier to simplify matters and make life easier, however on the other hand control over which ships you’re able to build and fill your fleet with has entirely been taken out of your hands and the ability to split up your forces into useful fleets is essentially taken out of your control with all of one type of ship forced together under one wave rather than being able to split them effectively and usefully to skilfully and strategically take on the AI forces.

The game itself claims that a lot of this control has been removed to prevent “frontloading” your forces however I find that being hampered into having whatever the luck of the draw provides is pretty detrimental and you end up with forces which aren’t an effective balance, often having too many engineer repair units floating pointlessly together in one single force rather than spread amongst all of your fleets just throwing themselves into enemy fire, and a few too many weak hulled ships flying headfirst into the enemy lines without the aid of shields or support units which would protect them and this hampers a lot of the gameplay in the late game when the real issues begin to show.

Initially this all works well while the AI is still relatively small in numbers and doesn’t push too hard back as you maintain a balance that can spread amongst your worlds and leave you protected whilst building up defences to protect yourself against any counterattacks. However the science you can gain is limited on the worlds so you can’t really level up your forces effectively, and with hampered numbers of limited forces while the AI fleet itself grows to such a degree that wave assaults against your worlds become so large you’re effectively forced into pooling all of your forces into one frontline assault force in order to simply survive it feels like the game would actually force you to frontload and instead of spreading for entire galactic domination that it wants you to push your frontloading forces against the AI command center as soon as possible before the threat snowballs into such a degree that the AI cheating becomes too much to handle.

AI cheating is a huge problem, because whilst you might see waves and forces are building from one particular planet and decide to hold the gate their end and perhaps route the forces before they invade you cannot do this for several reasons, firstly being that forces just appear out of thin air in the wormholes behind your forces and there’s nothing you can do to prevent that, but the ai forces can also build up such strength in numbers in their forces especially in the late game that these spawned in forces on regular intervals become impossible to prevent incurring into your systems and taking them over (which doesn’t reduce the AI’s threat meter and leaves you severely hampered) You might consider the strategy to take out that homeworld to prevent an incursion, where their defensive strength might be sub 50 but a fleet of 200+ strength is due to be spawned in from that world, however the AI will then cheat in another way transferring that invasion to come in another part of the galaxy away from your now forced frontloaded fleet and still invade in just as heavy a force in a similar timeframe so this does not delay or prevent an attack for now and causes more problems due to perhaps pushing too deep into enemy forces.

Fleets are said to be providing you more ships than ever before and more customisation, but I’ve not been able to find any customisation, and instead you might presume when overwhelming forces are being spawned against you that building more and more fleets would be a great idea, but the fleet command ships you can build will never attack the enemy, and whilst they have a pseudo strength of 1 and might scare off enemy forces from attacking thinking you’re weak they will actually do nothing for you and perhaps make you think you’re stronger than you actually are. Whilst all AI ships are able to attack and be useful in every capacity. If you do mistakenly build up too many fleet command ships though you’ve really caused yourself a problem that cannot be fixed, because the AI will cripple but never destroy these fleet ships and their energy drain will still remain which will actively prevent you from building smaller ships or defensive turrets and the like (even if you sit them on the AI’s command center) and you cannot even sell these yourself or scrap them to gain back the energy from overproduction, and once the AI has taken back a world or two reducing your energy output you will more than likely end up permanently unable to defend yourself even if you wait for the potential forced choosing of smaller ships ending up with a useless fleet of scarecrows being ignored throughout the galaxy.

I really liked the original game and expected it to be more of the same but better, however not being able to split up my little useful ships in any way that would remotely be useful and to design small fleets with waves that would actually work together well like having some shields and repair units alongside offensive units in strikeforces that work I do feel that the only way that the game could ever be played is to have all of your forces together frontlining and lazer beam focused on heading straight for the AI command. I would rather have the ability to choose which little ships I’m building and design my fleets to have X of X type and put them together in forces that stay together in those formations and have it in a way that works, otherwise the AI needs to be dialled back an extreme degree as it really does ignore all the limitations that are forced upon you and spawn waves of forces so severely beyond what you could ever put together to defend yourself that it does just feel like the AI is designed to cheat and take you down after you’ve taken X worlds and it becomes impossible to take the entire galaxy in the way that I enjoyed playing and you’re very much forced into one specific playstyle which does ruin the fun and enjoyment of doing things your way.

I would like to play my way and design my forces in a way that works to me, and I never frontloaded my forces, I kept them spread on a few galactic fronts and I would like to be able to do that and have forces and fleets that work because the fleet system just didn’t work for me at all. This game has just come out and there are potentials that mods may be able to change things in a way that work for my playstyle and perhaps the developers themselves may address some of these issues, but the fact that the AI just cheats to a degree that it’s impossible to play on 10 hours into a campaign and that you’re never able to scrap fleet commands or force enemies to destroy them to get back energy to rebuild and reinforce defences to make a comeback is a real issue that entirely destroys the game. A few tweeks on these fronts so you’ve still got a chance after everything goes wrong, like the AI reducing it’s threat after capturing your worlds, being able to scrap these command carriers and also being able to redistribute parts of fleets rather than having all of that type of ship only ever on one command would be great, because I’m feeling the customisation of fleets is severely hampered by this and it does make being able to build effective fleets harshened to the degree that I would rather line up factories to build units I want up to a total fleet cap rather than how it is right now and return to older methods, yet other aspects like scouting and capturing being streamlined and the hacking all coming from one ship does make things a lot more approachable, however these serious gameplay issues have made it a negative experience overall. Sure you can play and enjoy for a few hours but you are forced into playing one specific way or be punished and it’s a downgrade of gameplay as a result leaving me wishing I had the control over my forces and the customisation I would like.

Get AI War 2 for yourself on steam now at https://store.steampowered.com/app/573410/AI_War_2/

Exception is a fast paced action platformer where the goal is to reach the end of the level as fast as possible to compete on steam leaderboards, however it’s not quite as simple as that as there are a few twists involved, and I don’t just mean the fact that the levels can both rotate and reconfigure as you progress through them to make life more difficult both across 2D planes but also on a third dimensional rotation making levels interesting in a whole new aspect.

The twists in the levels involve mastering achievements which provide chunks of time reductions from your total score and discovering the best path using these techniques in order to get the shorted possible final time after deductions, and while many of the levels are cleverly designed to incorporate paths where you can destroy the objects in the world and the enemies on the way gathering scores for combo attacks, not getting hit or hitting “allies” along the way this doesn’t mean that taking shortcuts through a level to the exit might not be the faster route.

Along the way you unlock new powers which help you along your way to gaining better scores and faster times as well as making life easier as you progress through the levels and these powers can be upgraded further by collecting bytes which are scattered around the game often in out of the way locations adding additional challenges to the game.

Aesthetically the game follows a tron like neon colourful style as the universe revolves within an electronic universe within the computer of an old lady who has inadvertently installed a virus on her computer, and this has created changes within the universe which leads to the plot of the game, and you unlock a further memory of the storyline every world you complete as though you’re uncorrupting the data and memories of what has passed.

There are 16 worlds each with 10 levels most of which have an end game boss with a new challenge to uncover and defeat in order to progress further, and as you progress into later worlds more challenges are added to the levels along with more enemies gradually making the game harder to progress through and especially harder to get the best times on the leaderboards, this progression means that the game doesn’t feel like you’re doing the same things over and over as new challenges are added to master and harder to traverse platforming challenges are added.

I particularly like the uniqueness of the challenges on offer, with rotational teleporting and often twisting on the 3d plane of the levels creating a unique experience for a challenging action platformer, and the levels are challenging enough without being too diffiuclt that you feel an achievement in defeating the levels and if you’re able to pull off a path that incorporates taking down the enemies and hazards of the level and get a good position on the leaderboard it adds a real sense of achievement.

You will experience many hours of gameplay with worlds taking 20-30 minutes to progress through and even more gameplay on offer through hunting down missed bytes as well as the challenge of mastering levels to provide better leaderboard scores for those who desire to be the best at levels, and considering you have to master the balance between speed and achievements which provide bonus deductions on your time this is a more challenging prospect than simply running through the level as fast as possible which creates a more intricate and challenging time and adds to the replayability in order to master these levels fully.

Considering the game is £12 at release this is a very reasonable price as you’re going to get many hours of gameplay through simply playing through to completion and you’ll feel challeneged throughout as the game increases the difficulty on you, along with unlocking a narrative storyline along the way which is pretty interesting as a reward for progression. I feel like this is a worthy addition to the genre and offers more than just another action platformer with it’s unique features bringing plenty of additional challenge for true mastery as well as an interesting visual nature as the world twists and rotates around you while you play making your skills look even more spectacular as you navigate platforming challenges which weren’t initially visible on another dimension the instant the world rotates around you.

Get Exception for yourself on steam now at https://store.steampowered.com/app/456390/Exception/

Killsquad is a twin stick shooter mixed with elements from a variety of genre’s from novarama, and while the game at it’s core remains true to the twin stick shooter experience adding levelling elements similar to moba’s unique to each mission along with the variety in both the level and enemy design as well as the variations in the way all of the heroes play make this a highly polished experience and a game that stands out above others in the genre. Offering a choice of single player or online multiplayer up to 4 player co-op action without throwing overwhelming waves of enemies at you whilst keeping it fun and challenging.

The game has been released today in early access with a roadmap ahead for future plans and expansions, but they wish to see what the community would like and build the game towards what players would like to see as well as fix those elements which don’t work for players and this is a good way of designing the game going forward to ensure the community get the experience they would like from the game. Even saying this the game as it stands seems a very polished experience and while there are a couple of bugs like breaking animations or causing enemies to lose agro if you do specific things (and really actively refuse to fight you) these bugs are expected in early access and bringing them up helps ensure they won’t be an issue going forward.

At present there are 3 main area’s in the game each with their own feel and experience all being very different, and although the enemies are varients of bigger waves of enemies coming in for melee combat and differing long range enemies as well as a few special ones unique to each area the way they do things does feel different enough, and they all look like they belong in their zones where many other games of the genre would simply throw the same enemy at you in each area rather than having the unique variants designed to fit the area.

The zones themselves offer a significant degree of variety beyond simply aesthetics with the factory area offering zones which traverse between rooms rather than simply being sidescrolling as well as incorporating mazelike stairway sections, and it is inhabited by a variety of mechanised enemies who feel like they belong in the factory zone, where the open world zones have fleshy inhabitants that look like they belong in those zones, with cave spiders inhabiting a crystalline landscape full of crevasses and bridges along with natural disasters occurring in the zone and the final zone currently in early access being a deserted wasteland with flying prawns and other wildlife.

There are a number of touches which have been given to the game which normally get neglected such as background elements making the world feel alive from flocks of birds flying by, to machinery working along in the factory area’s. This along with the level of detail put into the animations and mechanics for all of the skills which do vary greatly from each individual character to make sure that they play very differently to each other despite being two shooting and two melee classes they all feel and play very differently to each other.

Many games of this nature would often have a purely cosmetic difference between characters, but you can see the effort made to ensure the heroes play differently, starting with one of the shooting characters having a selection of skills and upgrades which revolve around marking the enemies with your primary weapon to trigger skills on them later, which plays very differently to the other projectile character who fires a ghostbusters style laser beam and fires huge plasma balls as well as providing health kits on demand for any character to use to heal. The two melee classes also play very differently due to one being very fragile with skills designed for dodging and avoiding enemies, whilst the other gains armour for hitting enemies and rewards remaining up close in the combat as well as having an option for an ultimate which provides momentarily invulnerability for the team.

Every run is different starting fresh with a basic hero and levelling up in a mobaesque fashion from a choice of options to tailor the run to what you require for that specific level based upon your team and the dangers you are facing. Providing a variety of choices for level up progression from synergies that will be unique to your hero or skills that may benefit a larger team, it’s down to you to create a build that works for you in that current moment, and as missions are fairly short levelling and progression happens quite rapidly. The choice comes to whether to explore for more enemies and more experience to make the boss easy or rush down the objective to get the rewards quicker.

A roadmap for expansions has been set out showing that new area’s are planned and being designed as well as extra playable characters, and new factions which may be new enemy types or even lead to further levels and layouts designed around them and this along with the fact that they are planning on expanding based on feedback from players as the game develops shows that they are putting a lot of effort into this game to ensure that it is a very good experience. Even as it stands with only a few worlds it’s very obvious that a lot of care and effort has been put in to ensure the game doesn’t feel stagnant and all the heroes, completion tasks and area’s all feel very unique and offer a variety to keep the gameplay fresh which all adds up to the game being a very polished experience and worth the asking price.

I look forward to seeing how the game progresses and what further developments will be coming out, and it would be really cool if they manage to have a huge roster of playable characters all feeling very unique in their styles and skills though I can understand this would be asking a lot especially as you can also change weapons and items on the characters for the missions, and perhaps further skill tree options would be fantastic to allow even greater customisation for runs though the game really doesn’t require any of this to be a very fun and playable experience worth the asking price.

Get killsquad for yourself over on steam now at https://store.steampowered.com/app/910490/Killsquad/ Currently in early access.

Also curated over at https://store.steampowered.com/curator/6860437/

Party hard 2 is a casual game from pinokl games and tiny build where your mission is to eliminate noisy party members in order to get a decent nights sleep, except things might not be entirely as they seem as there is a plot behind the gameplay as well as a tonne of different objectives to achieve, through whatever means necessary from taking out specific targets to completely wiping out all inhabitants and witnesses in order to make your way through the game.

The difficulty of the game can vary depending on what challenges you want to undertake, and whilst most levels are fairly straightforward should you choose to take the easiest objectives others especially those that require stealth or have a vary collection of partygoers together which results in the police hunting you down can present a much more challenging time which will result in a number of attempts before you’re able to successfully complete the levels.

There are two very unique boss levels included in the game each with their own particular method to be defeated which isn’t overtly publicised for you but is laid out in a method for you to discover through experimentation in order to succeed and whilst proving challenging they’re not impossible to overcome and add variety to the levels as well as a sense of completion having a final boss in particular to defeat in order to complete the game. The final boss also has aspects which fit into the plotline as well as proving a unique problem to overcome which adds to the reasons the game has been well designed and thought-out rather than simply being a collection of levels and challenges to overcome as you do feel like you’re progressing forward with some purpose and some path and meaning to the levels you work your way through.

Each level has a variety of tasks from the ones overtly shown to you through hidden secret objectives which you have to discover for yourself through experimentation or by completing certain tasks within the levels which unveil further tasks to perform within the levels, and there are four varieties of tasks which exist within the universe from the stealth and carnage paths to the mystic (secret objectives) and I forget what the other type is but attempting to fill or minimise these paths adds challenges you can choose to fulfil in your playthrough as well as playing with each of the 4 available characters to unlock all with their own playstyles and skills.

While the playstyle is easy to pickup there’s plenty of nuance in the methods you choose to achieve the tasks through the use of items and in game props you can trigger in order to achieve your goals, along with simply dancing to avoid suspicion and detection (though not everyone will like your dance moves and this can lead to further trouble than you’re intending) The mix of challenge and variety of techniques you can choose to play through the game as well as the openness to play however you wish to play all adds to the fun and enjoyment of the game as you really are free to mess around and experiment and just have a good time with it, and if all goes wrong and the police are called it’s not all over until you’re caught and you’re free to go on a rampage whilst trying to run and hide through the specifically designed escape routes until the police inevitably giveup as things become more effort than they’re worth to capture you.

I have 14 hours of gameplay across 14 levels each ranging in difficulty and challenge, note that however I only have a 50% completion and more difficult challenges as well as the newly added community created content and levels would vastly increase the playtime of the game, and as the game is very enjoyable it’s definitely a worthwhile and recommended purchase.

Get party hard to for yourself on steam now at https://store.steampowered.com/app/572430/Party_Hard_2

Clocker is a puzzle game set in two universes essentially as after receiving a mysterious broken watch to repair a father jumps to save his daughters life further breaking the watch and as a result both knocking himself out of time but also his daughter into a completely separate and phased timestream, and as a result of this puzzles must be solved in order to progress through the game through the manipulation of individuals by simply playing out and rewinding their timestreams causing interactions with the objects and individuals around them being altered by events as they currently stand. Furthermore these events continue to playout after solving the puzzles in the daughters timeframe where time passes as normal in close proximity to her, but passes slower the further away from her it gets in a doppler like effect.

The puzzle element of the game involves rewinding and fast forwarding the individual timestreams of individuals one at a time in order to create an outcome in the world that allows you to traverse to missing pieces of the clock which have been scattered around the world while you are stuck in a dome like structure unable to progress outside of a very narrow part of the city, and through solving these puzzles and collecting all of the pieces you’re able to progress to the next area. There are a number of puzzles in each zone which require solving and whilst your actions may appear limited it’s rather surprising how much of a difference things can make by having certain events playout in a slightly different order or position.

The interactions are said to have some very complex AI mechanics behind them and this is apparent due to the fact that not only must interactions between all of the elements be recognised within the dads timeframe in order to solve the puzzles, but also the effects of time passing in the daughters timestream afterwards as time continues to progress is rather difficult to picture as time continues passing onwards, and characters and events passing by depending on who encounters what and how fast things are travelling is a requirement in order to ensure things progress as you hope they will in her timestream.

There were at the time of my review being recorded only 3 area’s to the game, and there was around 2 hours of gameplay for me from beginning to “end” however this is a single playthrough without fulfilling the true ending which is clearly designed to be returned through and play out other outcomes and investigate thoroughly in order to find the solution for a true ending. On top of this they have also since added additional content to the game since my playthrough so actual playtime may vary especially if you have a more difficult time than me in solving some of the puzzles which is easily possible. The third area however was essentially a prologue and there was little to it at the time of my review, I know they’ve published changelogs showing additional content since so who can confirm how much there is should more content be added again, but saying that playing through different solutions and trying to gain the true ending would add even further gameplay time to the game.

The story and narrative of the game were very fun and entertaining and the puzzles presented a challenge in solving and took more thought than a cursory glance in order to achieve so I would recommend a purchase especially as the mechanics and interactivity between both time universes in order to solve the puzzles provides an interesting and unique problem solving nature you’d struggle to find elsewhere and as a result I think the game is definitely worth purchasing and playing through.

Get clocker for yourself on steam now at https://store.steampowered.com/app/916050

Lucius 3 is the final part of the movie inspired horror adventure trilogy where Lucius has to return to his home island to fulfil 7 prophecies in order to open the gateway to hell and potentially bring an end to the world. Featuring an open world layout it’s up to you to explore the world and try to piece together the clues from the scroll in order to enact specific pre-ordained acts of violence against people in order to bring forth the four horsemen of the apocalypse.

Whilst the open world nature adds more freedom to explore the world there are a few issues that result from the way things are done, as whilst some games like the old silent hill games would lock off area’s with finding specific keys prompting you to return to specific area’s this game relies upon activating specific cutscenes and triggers in order to allow access to certain area’s prompting that you’re not allowed to enter yet if you try to go to key area’s too soon. Whilst this prevents solving certain puzzles early it does create issues that mean if you hear one trigger hint and go to a certain area before hitting another specific prompt you’re going to end up stuck pretty early on and presuming you’re locked out of doing a certain action to get into the mayors house, and this lead me to go on a wild adventure lost unable to progress for a long time in my gameplay.

This isn’t the worst thing that could happen however as there are a number of side plots you can pursue along the way if you go off the rails from the main track with special events to eliminate the townspeople in a variety of ways some of which add further nods to horror movies with easter eggs. I tried to avoid this on my playthrough though as there’s a big theme throughout the game where Gabriel is constantly telling you it’s not too late to turn things around and abandon the path of evil, so I was trying to make my playthrough a chaotic good playthrough (with some accidents happening) and embrace the side of light only taking out those who really were evil and deserved it.

Spoilers, it’s hard not to go into a specific part of the game where later on events occur however I feel the spoiler is actually something that will free you up in your gameplay allowing you to go explore further and pursue the alternate elimination plots. Obviously I stated that I was trying to save as many of the townspeople as possible only pursuing those who deserved to be taken out, whilst accidentally flinging someone off a fort and perhaps ending someone’s life trying to open a portal to another dimension. The spoiler is that none of this matters, whilst I did seem to get a bug that jumped one of the prophecies straight into the church confrontation by wearing the white clothes too early (again from a clear hint in game to do so) there’s a scene where everyone in the town have decided they have to take you out in order to stop bad things happening in town.

At that point you’ve got to start literally vaporising everyone as they rush you down and whilst it’s an interesting minigame trying to catch out the people sneaking around the edges you do end up with regrets for deciding not to eliminate other people or pursue and search out those plotlines when you’ve been presented the opportunity. Taking them out would make this scene easier but that’s not the point, it’s the disappointment to miss out on all of the special scenes and sidelines that really hit you as you’re going to get a lot of enjoyment from pursuing those storylines and seeing all of the movie based easter eggs revolving around them.

I focused on following the plotline directly after the initial problems caused by getting sidetracked, though I don’t think there’s much of an issue after the first incident and even after you move on through the chapters of the game you’re going to be fine to explore the island for additional plotlines is going to add a lot more length to the game as well as enjoyment, without effecting the outcome for the end of the game and the ultimate decision over good and evil.

The game took me around 7 hours to get through however you have to account for getting lost in the first act due to events being locked off from activation and then looking over them repeatedly, but balance that with rushing through the rest of the chapters you could get more playtime exploring and looking for all of the additional actions you can do throughout the game and for the price of the game you’re getting a decent horror narrative adventure with some interesting puzzle mechanics. Whilst I feel that some of the progress related boundaries can cause some issues they’re relatively minor and I did get a funny bug where all of the towns people started sinking through the ground into hell perhaps because I took too long or maybe because of finding some drugs in a bag in the game but these are easily overlooked and not majorly gamebreaking.

If you’re looking for a new adventure game and enjoy horror movies this is a pretty good game for you as it’s crammed with references from a number of classics as well as being an enjoyable game. I would recommend giving the game a try.

Get Lucius 3 for yourself on steam now at https://store.steampowered.com/app/513290/Lucius_III

Battle princess Madelyn is a retro inspired action platformer inspired by one of the developers daughters as well as being written by a professional childrens author.  The game itself comes in two game modes and whilst the regular gamer might believe story mode is the preliminary game mode it seems arcade mode is actually something quite different and the designed primary mode.  Where arcade mode comes across 10 worlds of 5 levels each (according to the steam page but seems 2 and a boss), where weapon drops come from the sacks of enemies permanently replacing your main weapon until you find another, whereas the story mode is very different with actually shorter and different world levels all tied together with an exploration factor and unlocks involved which I played through believing this to be the primary mode and arcade simply being a level select of these and not a completely different entity which plays entirely differently.

There has been a huge patch to the game which has made some significant changes to the story mode through a number of issues experienced throughout by players, and at the time of print of this review there are some other issues I will bring up which would really change the quality of life of the game mode as well as one significant bug with fritzy which I will bring up with the aim of these being fixed in a further update and perhaps never being experienced by yourselves should you decide to go ahead and purchase the game.

Gameplay

Levels in the game involve a variety of enemies each with their own unique attack and movement mechanics spawning at various points in waves whilst you take them down with the arsenal of weapons you’ve collected attempting to traverse through the platforming challenges the area’s offer trying to find the boss keys and possibly finding secrets and additional powers along the way.

In story mode you have to complete side quests or defeat certain bosses in order to obtain additional weapons and powers like a double jump and whilst the area’s have been changed to be more linear initially and avoid a large number of very difficult challenges at the start there are a few additional balance changes which could be implemented to make progression feel a bit more natural.  For example you find a quest to obtain a hammer for the blacksmith so you can upgrade your weapon and armour however by the time you finally collect this half way through the game you can fully upgrade everything, whereas if you were offered this opportunity earlier in the game and naturally slowly level things up the quality of life and pace of the game would feel far more appropriate, and whilst you have the opportunity to press a button in the menu to unlock everything at the beginning this is cheating and defeats the purpose of the mode, in which case again it feels like arcade mode is the way the game should have perhaps been played and released.

Another major bug in the story mode is that your companion fritzy lacks his powers until you obtain the pogo ability which is if played linearly 80% through the game, and if not at least over 50% of the game and it feels like this should have been unlocked from the very beginning and not tied to the pogo ability (which also grants you a wand weapon and no explanation that you must use down attacks on enemies to bounce of their heads at time of review and I had to ask the developers about how to use the ability thinking it was bugged and I hadn’t been provided the ability)

Some other gameplay bugs have been fixed and as stated earlier the developers do care and are trying to make the story mode as tight as it should be, and whilst they’ve made the earlier levels more approachable they also fixed actual bugs from sidequests which had prevented you from being able to even fight certain bosses.  This shows that the developers are addressing issues with the game mode, so perhaps expect in the future that fritzy’s powers might actually work from the beginning of the game as expected, and if you could unlock some armour levels sooner in the game incrementally it would make quality of life so much better, so whislt there are bugs at the time of review I do expect these to be resolved.

Even with these bugs the game is very playable and enjoyable, in story mode you have a compressed taste of the levels with the challenge of having to find all of the unlocks and keys in order to fight the bosses.  Boss fights are well thought out holding onto that retro feel with learnable boss patterns and a variety of mechanics involved in taking down the bosses as you progress so they all have their own ways of being defeated rather than just dodge and attack where possible often subtleties are involved to get the best patterns to avoid getting defeated in order to progress.

The story mode has an interesting way of subverting expectations as you expect the game to be coming to an end through the building of stitchbot actually you unlock the second half of the game and additional area’s to explore previously inaccessible offering a pleasant surprise with additional gameplay.  (Which also allows you to finally complete some of the earlier side quests previously impossible to achieve should you desire a 100% completion rate)  Collectible stuffed toys are provided to you as you complete the game, which I initially confused for some form of monsterpedia type thing, and whilst the game begins with some of your collection already filled out (which if you read descriptions suggests you’ve already encountered them) I feel it would have been better to collect everything from an empty state to avoid confusion, and this doesn’t even have to be through side quests it could have been achieved through defeating the first of these enemy types or additional drops from existing quests/chests/bosses.

Overall Impressions

At the end of the day for the price you’re paying you’re getting a pretty fun action platformer for the price, and while the arcade mode is the definitive version with all of the polish you would expect from the game they are making efforts to polish the story mode to ensure that there aren’t major bugs and gameplay issues and giving it a more progressive arc into the gameplay showing that they do care about the title and want it to be the best that it can be. The game would have been good enough value with the arcade mode alone, and the fact that you have additional modes as well as the story mode there is plenty of gameplay to be experienced, and depending on whether you want to battle through waves of enemies and challenging platformers or explore to complete quests in order to get to the bosses there’s a game mode for you. The bosses also offer plenty of variety as opposed to simply learning their patterns some often involve some extra aspect in order to be defeated adding a greater challenge and more interesting factors to the gameplay.

If you’re looking for a good retro inspired action platformer this is the game for you. Check out battle princess Madelyn for yourself on steam now at https://store.steampowered.com/app/603930/Battle_Princess_Madelyn/

Deadbeat heroes is a frantic action game from some of the developers behind the marvellous miss take, except rather than stealth and puzzle solving to complete the levels this game it’s all about effectively taking down criminals in the most stylish way possible preferably without getting hit, except you aren’t the typical superhero, no you’re just some deadbeat with a special engine attachment on his arm granting you abilities beyond the basic human allowing you to take on crime in the name of a retired superhero.

You can see some similarities with the level designs between this and the aforementioned marvellous miss take, however the gameplay features of this game definitely leave it feeling a very different experience as you have to defeat waves of enemies in a variety of rooms whilst also potentially rescuing hostages for bonus points, though this isn’t essential to complete the levels it may help as it’s stylish to save the hostage right?

Your handheld engine has an additional special feature that allows you to clone supervillains powers which grants you time limited additional skills from freezing enemies to teleporting around the map and a wide range of skills between, some of which are more useful than others but do add variety to the gameplay of the levels and give you a fun way of taking down the plethora of enemies coming to get you.

Bonuses can be awarded for dispatching justice in a room without getting injured, while if you do get injured you’re rewarded with a health pickup to give you a better chance of taking down the next room. The true skill comes in combining running across walls and poles and diving from the skies to take down the villains preferably without getting hit, which is easier said than done when enemies can have turrets, rocket launchers and submachine guns all firing at you at once and while hiding could provide an easier way to win you’re not really doing it in a stylish way unless you’re doing it quick and chaining together those takedowns.

It took me 6 hours to complete the game from beginning to end playing just to unlock all the levels and defeat the final boss, where there are 35 levels all based around an old school London theme with typical british humour injected into the mix as you progress through the story taking down the 10 villainous area bosses along the way all with their own superpowers for you to use against them, and it’s not a true win unless you hit them before they even start speaking… Well that’s not entirely true but that’s a challenge I set for myself for humour and fun purposes.

The game itself can be single or a two player experience and can even be integrated with twitch so anyone chatting in your stream can become one of the hired thugs attempting to take you down along your path to dispense justice on the villainous prime sinister who has taken out every one of the city’s superheroes on his rise to power, just don’t question why it might look like he has the same sort of engine attached to his fist as you… I’m sure that there’s nothing deeper to that lore and that perhaps there might not be a spinoff story potential of what really happened with his rise to power and taking down all the superheroes, and don’t question your retired superhero bosses reasons for this quest and how he’s the creator of your fist engine….

Style is definitely a big part of this game and while it’s a gameplay mechanic it’s also very noticeable in the artwork and soundtrack of the game as it has an old school feel along with it’s cell shaded pseudo comic book aesthetic, it’s definitely a fun and interesting experience and even after you complete the game there’s scope for further replayability trying to get the highest ranks and scores across all of the levels and playing through with your newly unlocked character now out of retirement the only superhero remaining in the city. All of the characters play the same essentially being reskins so choice of character isn’t a limiting factor and unlocks are purely cosmetic, and while they could have given them different skills and added further gameplay mechanics as such I do like that instead they’ve made the powerups drop from dispatched villains in the levels so you can play through and perhaps compete over who gets to collect the powerup on the levels if you’re playing co-op and allow you to go through the entire game with your favourite hero.

I had a lot of fun bashing through the enemies in the frantic action levels and would recommend the game if you’re looking for a casual action brawler with a dash of british humour, or even if you’re just looking for a way to beat up your twitch chat viewers every now and then ;-) There’s plenty of silliness and the action gameplay is on the right level not being too easy whilst also being fun and giving you that feeling of wanting to keep retrying until you get through the game, and the boss powers do add variety between the area’s giving you more mechanics to play with whilst keeping the core game feeling, along with area’s becoming more difficult adding further and harder challenges the further you get into the game so I would definitely recommend the game as a purchase.

Get deadbeat heroes for yourself now on steam at https://store.steampowered.com/app/614090/Deadbeat_Heroes/

Dark Dream’s Don’t Die is an episodic detective adventure game where you play as david, an investigator with the ability to dive literally into the case and relive the experience through a supernatural ability to channel memento’s and relive the memories associated with it in order to investigate what happened, and while he is investigating a case revolving around a drug known as “real blood” he is also looking for information about his wife’s murderer and searching for a mysterious “D” who may be involved with this.

The game itself has some clever twists on the traditional episodic adventure narrative, intertwining plot around having to look outside of the box and seeing or noticing things other people might have missed, using leaning to change your perspective to find hidden secrets and focusing on certain exclamation points to gather clues and more information which while aren’t necessary to completing the game could provide further insights that may have been used to unlock additional endings. This fits in rather well with the theme of the game which is a cross between time travelling investigatory work and the alternative that might be that you’re undergoing surgery and stuck inside your own mind and memories with the slow talking doctor hinting that you might be under anaesthesia slowed down mid consciousness having brain surgery with the scar oh his head which he touches at times perhaps signifying a wound leading to surgery. (If you’re looking for a deeper meaning than the surface plot of the game shown) There are definite hints to things not being quiet what they seem when you are talking to the doctor who definitely has an otherworldly nature to him existing outside of the space time of the plot, but could perhaps be another with the ability to travel into the memories himself.

Playing through the game you do have limited stamina which you use to perform actions, and you can refill this throughout the memory itself, however if you return to david’s house you will find that there’s a lot to do outside of the investigation and sometimes it’s essential to find clue’s outside of the memory to take back in order to question and influence the characters in order to get the best responses, while this might have lead to alternative endings again this is something I will delve into later. One of the best scenes in this game will come from heading back to the house and talking to kaysen, as you will get to eat meal’s with him and replenish your stamina, these scenes are some of the most over the top comedic stuffing of as much food as possible into your mouth and something not to be missed if you’re playing this game.

Investigating david’s wife’s murder is definitely a secondary plot to this game and it can be easy to miss a lot of the special event triggers to gather information about this as many of them require you to head home to david’s during a memory and find hidden clue’s around the home, these will trigger some cutscenes and provide more information that might hint that perhaps the D you’re meant to be finding is in fact a daughter, which going along with the mysterious cat girl who’s around the apartment could also mean that in fact she’s grown up and a lot of time has passed, but kaysen is keeping it secret to not trigger perhaps an episode with david, but again there are plot hints to other things going on with a myserious perhaps future david visiting at the end of an episode but never being fully fleshed out, and also the girl with striking similarities being a clone of your wife but with less dots by her eye like that signifies versions through time travel and alterations of time.

There is a lot to this game with great potential to be a very interesting storyline, and it got me hooked and interested to hear more, however this game had the unfortunate nature of being limited to an xbox live exclusive launch and hidden without physical copy not really highlighted in the online indie marketplace of the xbox 360 and as a result has ended up being abandoned. While the game strongly emphasised the use of movement and even the kinnect to influence cutscenes with very action intense moments requiring heavy quick time events, but done in a very fun and active way which most games attempting to incorporate QTE’s seem to lack, this one was done in an enjoyable manner and ranked you on your capabilities to “synchronise” these as well as the choices you make with conversations during your investigation perhaps suggesting that 100% synchronising or failing to synchronise conversations could lead to alternative outcomes in later episodes.

The problem is however that because it was hidden on this platform and wasn’t as noticed future episodes didn’t get made, and even though it has now received a pc release and gained a lot of popularity on youtube it still remains unfinished, so all these questions around the plot are never truly answered because the game was never completed, the mystery of the game it seems will always remain a mystery forever. This goes back to where you can go and find additional information in david’s house and go back into the memories and complete questlines with this additional knowledge, however as the game was never completed you would have to ask yourself is there any point to gathering this additional information as the episodes just end short, with hints that the game is due further episodes and no true ending whatsoever, being only 2 episodes and a prologue in length the feeling is that there should be at least 1-3 further episodes coming up to complete the season and to end on a satisfying note.

Where things end at present you’re left with a lot of unanswered questions and mysteries, no plotlines at all are resolved and if anything you’re left with a major plot twist on two of the characters as both the wife lookalike has an ulterior motive and secret identity, and the suspicious flight attendant who seems to be inhaling real blood turns out to be some super villain determined to take down the plane. And how is the jumping between two flights connected to all of this, and why does the doctor know more than he is letting on.

None of the investigative lines are completed and the case is most definitely not closed in this one and I hope that the game can gain enough momentum that swery may eventually finish off this game, as I’m sure he has the plot and narrative already planned out much as you would for a game like this, it just feels a little sad that such a good game is left open ended and incomplete. Even though this is most definitely not a finished game I would still recommend a purchase as it has a good plot and is a fun experience, I just wish that the plot wasn’t left unanswered and that you were given a satisfactory ending, even if it does leave room for a sequel at least some aspect should come to a satisfying end for it to be truly considered a proper ending.

Get D4: Dark Dream’s Don’t Die on steam now at https://store.steampowered.com/app/358090/D4_Dark_Dreams_Dont_Die_Season_One/

Blackhole is a 2d physics based puzzle platformer with a compelling narrative storyline behind it, the game see’s you “crash” into a blackhole abandoning you the coffee boy with the ships AI to try and find all of your missing crewmates and rebuild the ship so that you can escape the anomaly you find yourself in.

The game promises more than 90 levels across 6 dimensions and over 15 hours of gameplay and that isn’t including the free challenge vault update that essentially added daily challenges with difficult levels into the game. Outside of the levels themselves there are heaps of secrets to discover in the overworld which can be quite challenging themselves.

Each dimension has it’s own theme and it’s own special item that modifies the puzzles in unique ways making the challenges of each of these varied across the game. From EMP pulses to effect lazers and doors to simple wall jump boots allowing you to hop off the walls like Mario.

The physics of the game are some of the best designed I’ve seen in a game of this type, allowing you to start off grasping the simple but once you realise you can use gravity transitions in the level to conserve momentum and fling yourself across to new area’s you can learn whole new ways to progress through the game and perhaps get those selfburns that seemed out of reach earlier in the game. They also do a good job of pacing out the new elements that you come across and scaling up the difficulty so you never feel too overwhelmed with the puzzles, another way they do this well is limiting the number of selfburns required to complete a level and progress through the story so you can finish a level and continue your progress without truly completing the levels and collecting everything whilst leaving a challenge to come back to later when you’ve mastered some of the more complex elements of the game.

Blachole’s story unveils itself as you progress through but if you want to know the true secrets of the anomaly you have to hunt down the black boxes in the overworld which can be in some very difficult to pass puzzles, as though whoever created the anomaly wanted to hide these as you, the AI and the crew all have no memory of what happened and how you got there, and if you haven’t seen the trailer you need to watch it for yourself (well that’s easier said than done, I tried to find the trailer I saw which showed the AI seeming to go a little crazy to link it here but I can’t find it anywhere…)

I am surprised how ridiculously cheap the game is and what a bargain it is for how much gameplay there is and how much enjoyment you’ll get out of it, not only in solving the puzzles but with the storyline and how well the voice acting is done (and you might recognise a celebrity or two in there) and if you’re into movie references and meme’s well there’s plenty in there from tetris to doctor who if you keep your eye out you’ll be able to spot them all, and may involve passing through a hidden wall puzzle or two at times.

This has probably one of the best games I’ve played in the past few years and I’m surprised it didn’t get more recognition and remains so unknown when it is such a well made game within the puzzle platformer genre, the game is so well done, has a great quirky storyline and good voice talent as well as polished well designed puzzles with great physics and a variety of gameplay mechanics throughout a lot of levels and different worlds as well as being a ridiculous bargain price as a result it has earnt itself an indelacio star.

Get blackhole on steam for yourself at https://store.steampowered.com/app/322680/BLACKHOLE/