Source: Cashmoneys Price: £10.99 Where To Get It: Steam
Ah, the story of Cain and Abel. Two bears, both proud warriors, and one of whom is… No, this is the story of Cain and Abel. Cain definitely tries to kill Abel… It’s just…
Okay, alright, this is one of those procgen not quite metroidvania
type deals, where some abilities are kept between runs at a castle,
and others are only used or obtained during that run. And yes, the
story involves a bear named Abel, whose brother, Cain, appears to
have been corrupted by something, something that seems to have
corrupted others, as Abel finds out when he and a doggy merchant are
thrown into a world between worlds. And wouldn’tcha know it, Abel
accidentally has the key to those worlds!
It’s not a bad premise, all told, and the writing sells that
confusion, the questioning and hurt that comes from seeing people you
know and love become twisted. It also creates some interesting
characters, although some are more fleshed out than others. As in…
It’s pretty much Abel and the Merchant who flesh out over time. From
what I’ve seen so far, at least. As to the game? Well, there’s a fair
bit that I like, and a couple of things I’m… Not so fond of. But
hey, Early Access, things are subject to change, including my
So let’s begin with what I like. The character designs are pretty
damn nice. For example, Abel is a soft boy, for being a warrior, and
that’s thematically fitting. Yet he still animates well, and while
the enemies aren’t pushed back by normal blows, there’s nonetheless
strength and speed in the swings. The secondary abilities, the
passives… Most of them feel like powerups. The enemies are
an interesting mix, and, once I’d learned to spot certain traps, I
appreciated the tension in certain layouts. The fact that only some
items and abilities stay from run to run is less fun, but there’s
some compensation in picking one of the special abilities you earn
(by finding in-run abilities you haven’t collected yet) for an extra
benefit, such as being able to damage foes by jumping on their heads,
having better healing, and that sort of thing.
I am less appreciative of the keyboard controls. Just,
overall. The defaults feel a little confusing, and even with
rebinding them to something I’m used to, I have problems. Controller
is recommended for this one folks.
And similarly… I’m not exactly having fun with the bosses. Damage
in the game is brutal, and bosses can quite easily murder the heck
out of you with just a few hits, which, on the one hand, is similar
to the enemies… On the other, you have to get through
the enemies to reach the boss, and, while I didn’t have a problem
with this in, say, Dead Cells, I feel like I’m having more trouble
Despite this, do I recommend it, at the present stage? Yes. It’s showing a lot of promise, some solid writing, a good aesthetic, and hell, you might have a much easier time of the bosses than I am.
The Mad Welshman dislikes when he’s having a tough time of it. Just… Overall, to be honest.
Source: Cashmoneys Price: £11.39 (£11.79 for DLC characters (£3.99 each)) Where To Get It: Steam
I missed Dragon Spear on the first pass. Budget didn’t allow, and, despite being interested in the idea (A fantasy belt scrolling beat-em-up with RPG elements, like Dragon’s Crown), it wasn’t quite enough. Besides, I seem to recall the monkey’s paw had curled on me with another “I wish there was a game like [insert console exclusive] on PC…”
But I am pleased to state that, while Dragon Spear has its flaws,
I’ve enjoyed my time with it, enough to have considered it one of
those cases where said monkey’s paw did not curl.
So, to begin with, the story is somewhat threadbare, but the basic
idea is that there was a big bad, a bad that wanted to destroy
humanity, and they created Nightmares, monstrous creatures deemed
unstoppable by most. The important part being the “most” part.
For some people managed to destroy them, and Witches managed to
contain many of them… But all is not well, and six Nightmare
Slayers are summoned to deal with the threat.
Like I said, it’s a little threadbare, but it does have some
interesting moments, and a little character interplay. Some of
it’s… Confusing, and inconsistently written, not to mention a
little off in places. Er… Why did the Gunner (A pirate)
intentionally misgender the Warrior (a dude)? And then be
inconsistent even outside their hearing? There’s a fair amount of
awkward translation, but it still manages to have some moments, such
as a tragic fate, a little intrigue, and Magic Science Gone Wrong.
Oh, and the titular Dragon’s Spear, and a Dragon to go with it.
It’s not a twitchy game. More accurately, it’s a button mashy game,
with a few tactical decisions to make, but mostly, the catharsis of
beating the everloving shit out of enemies while making sure they
don’t surround, and then a boss, which is sometimes jugglable
to a small extent (every character has at least one “Slam up”
move), but… Not always. And, in a nice touch, the boss telegraphs
are not only actual telegraphs, but, on Normal, at least, all enemy
attacks that aren’t quick have their area of effect shown… Albeit
as red with a slightly brighter outline. Which isn’t so great. Sigh.
And, despite my enjoyment, I do have to admit it’s a game where the
upsides often come with qualifiers. Like the above example with the
telegraphing, or the fact that you have multiple abilities to switch
between, but armour… There’s no good reason not to just go
to the next tier of armour as the story progresses. It’s just higher
levelled. The characters share money, which means buying equipment
and upgrades becomes easier the further you go, and the grind isn’t
nearly as bad as you’d think… But there is some grind,
especially when it comes to getting certain loot drops, like
interesting pets and armour sets, and the game is single save, with
no option to reset. BOOO!
The thing is… Overall, that still comes to a net positive. Not a big net positive, but still enough for me to think: This is a spiritual successor, to a platform exclusive game I’ve wanted on PC for a while… And it breaks the streak of that monkey’s paw curling on me, and throwing spiritual successors I’ve disliked at me. As a belt scrolling beat-em-up goes, it’s worth a look.
The Mad Welshman is just happy that, just once, an “I wish there was a game like [console exclusive] on PC” didn’t go horribly wrong for him.
Source: Review Copy Price: £11.39 (£16.58 for game+soundtrack, £4.67 soundtrack) Where To Get It: Steam
Der Geisterturm (The Ghost Tower) is a sequel, or maybe parallel game, to Das Geisterschiff, which I’d reviewed previously. As a member of Eberbach Corporation’s combat corps, you… Are told that you’re dead. And if you want a second chance at life, congrats, you have to get up a tower full of droids ordered to murder you a second time.
evil corporations. Go figure. Now, Das Geisterschiff was tough. Der
Geisterturm? Is murderously tough. As in: I have yet to get to
the second level tough. And there comes a time when you have to
resolve to see if you can beat a thing later, and say that you
it should be noted that individual enemies are generally not
that tough. And that you have a shield, albeit one with
limited energy (and another option we’ll get to later, for its
extremely situational usefulness.) And indeed, you have a lot of
options, that you need to switch between if you want to do the best
job you can. And even combat stances and ram responses, that can set
how you react to ramming (a valid tactic, when something or someone
is lighter than you.) Changing your stance and ram responses,
turning, and turning your shield on or off appear to be
instantaneous. Switching weapons, moving, and waiting, however, is
not. And we’ll get into why that makes the difficulty curve sharp in
first, improvements! They are, for the most part, small, but they
exist! Everything is blue now, rather than a somewhat
disconcerting red. Items have visible representation (although
sometimes tiny visible representation, like keycards), cutting
down on “Where the hell is the thing?” … Somewhat! It’s still
got that low poly aesthetic, with unidentified bots as wireframe
cubes, but… We’ll also get into that.
Der Geisterturm inherits some of the problems of its predecessor, and
manages to make some new ones, alas, making the buy-in that much more
difficult. For example, once an enemy has been identified, it should
stay identified… But it does not. And, considering there are
two basic enemies in both the tutorial and the first level, with only
the latter allowing visual confirmation without analysis, this is
kind of important. And now… Hiding and switching weapons. Yes, we
definitely need to talk about those.
is, for the most part, useless. Enemies have an audio range, but
generally speaking, this is big enough that your one for one
movement doesn’t actually allow for getting far enough out of audio
range (or sight range) to wait out their searching. As to switching
weapons, well… Some enemies have vulnerability to bullets, others
to lasers, others to explosives… You have limited ammo for each…
And the first level’s encounters? Appear to almost exclusively
consist of one drone that is weak to lasers. And another that’s weak
to bullets and ramming. They appear in pairs, one of each type. And,
as mentioned, switching weapons takes a turn, and they always appear
in patterns that, if you concentrate on one, or run to lure the
bigger one into range, you will likely take at least some
damage from the other.
no larger map, so get out those mapping tools, folks, no in-game
options and key rebinding, which is doubly annoying because the game
forgets it’s meant to be in windowed mode the moment you start a
Basically, I’d like to recommend Der Geisterturm, because it has an interesting aesthetic, a dark world, and a fair bit of atmosphere, but… While I could recommend Das Geisterschiff with the qualification that it’s hard, Der Geisterturm feels… Well, it feels much less fair. And maybe that’s intended. But it’s a turn off for me. I don’t particularly miss the days of the hard as balls wireframe first person RPGs like Wizardry 2, you see.
The Mad Welshman is an Old, it’s true. But he does not look kindly upon the past of computer games overall, except what we can learn from it.
Source: Cashmoneys Price: £34.99 Where To Get It: Steam
Digimon, Digital Monsters, only certain ranks of Digimon are the Champions, as it turns out, doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. But that’s besides the point, we’re reviewing one I missed, because the budget’s never great: Digimon Stories – Cyber Sleuth, Complete Edition. Bit of a mouthful, but I appreciate that it is. Even down to the “Timesaver” bonus content. Whuff.
yes, the general idea: It’s the future of our world, virtual reality
that doesn’t make you motion sick (or need to move physically) is a
thing, people quite literally “go on the internet”, and cyber
crime still exists… Except using Digimon, which humanity, as a
whole, seems to be unaware are actually living beings, albeit in
digital form. And two protagonists, along with their friends and
mentors, discover Great Events in the offing, as they gain the
friendship of Digimon, and the Digital World and the Human World
entwine and bleed into each other all the more.
It’s dramatic stuff, and I appreciate how the main plot’s kept me coming back, what with corrupt corporate businessfolks I love to hate (Well, no, I just hate, to be honest), Digimon of various personalities, such as one that simply wants friends, but goes about it in precisely the wrong way (and other, darker individuals), and, of course, friends, characters, their own stories. Nice. It’s also aesthetically pleasing, mostly, with a mostly clear UX. We’ll get into that mostly in a moment. But how does it play?
beyond the basics, which are a little more involved than Pokemon (You
have two sets of types to consider: Vaccine/Virus/Data/Free,
and element types. And yes, both of them factor into damage,
so if you have precisely the wrong matchup, prepare to have that
Digimon knocked out very quickly indeed), the devil’s in the
details of which story you’re playing in the game: The Hacker’s
Memories, or Cyber Sleuth. The Hacker’s Memories involves different
kinds of battles, and seemingly no use for the Mirror Dungeon part of
the DigiLab (where you do various things starting with Digi- to
Digimon, such as Digivolution, the changing of a Digimon into a
different Digimon, or back to give a little more of a level benefit.
A thing that’s required for certain kinds of digivolutions.)
Meanwhile, Cyber Sleuth has more of a real world map. But both
involve… Look, I would be here for a very long time if I were
talking about mechanical differences, and the Digivolution process,
so let’s talk about how it feels… And the negatives of the game.
Positive wise, we shall leave it so far as “Mostly good aesthetics,
mostly good UX, a fair bit of depth and complexity, without being
overwhelming, and puzzle areas that didn’t make me want to
tear my hair out at the roots.
wise, I’m feeling myself drawn into the story and its characters,
enjoying the boss battles, and finding the world interesting. It
dripfeeds the lore, only as it needs to, and, for the most part,
doesn’t go “Hey, did you know about ‘World thing?’” unless it’s
genuinely something the character wouldn’t know, or is unclear about.
Good! The random battles… Exist. Maybe I’m overlevelled a lot of
the time, maybe it’s just that way once you get any sort of decent
team, but it’s only either when I’m in a new area, or am just
starting out that I don’t seem to be one-shotting Digimon that
I’m not weak against. So… The random battles feel a little like
busywork as a result, especially due to the digicapture system (yes,
a lot of things being with digi- . Deal with it.)
you have to beat up a certain number of Digimon of a species to get
enough data to hatch one yourself. And then more data, up to
200%, to make sure your Digimon is the best of its kind it can be.
This can be eight fights with a digimon of a type (25%-30% each.) It
can be ten. And it can be 14 fights. I haven’t found anything below
15% Data from each fight yet, but… Yeah, getting Digimon can be a
grind. And some, you have to either feed in the Digifarm a lot, or
have along with you in fights, to raise their CAMaraderie to the
level you need. Rare Digimon can take a silly number of levels, plus
special items to make, but… That’s rare ones, I’m okay with that.
I’m less fine with is the type-match colouring when you select an
enemy to hit, which is Red (Good damage, but not necessarilygreat damage, because, as you recall, there are two
sets of type matchup.) which is fine… White for normal, which is
fine… And blue for bad, or, more accurately speaking… Cyan
for bad. These last two colours are very close together, to
the point where even a fair few folks who aren’t colourblind
can’t tell them apart, so… Bit shit, that. And no, there is no
colourblindness option. At all.
there are two minor niggles. The dungeon animations, or animations
where your group is both running and bigger than 2, get weird,
because the monsters can easily get caught up on you (stilling their
animations, although it doesn’t restrict their movement), and are
always pointed toward you when they’re running, which looks
janky as hell. It’s not a dealbreaker, and nor is the fact that audio
options don’t seem to take effect (or can even be set) until you
start a game or continue it (the first time you play, you set them,
and can change them in game.)
Overall, I’ve had a fairly good time with Digimon Stories, and it’s probably one of the games I’ll actually new game+ , in my large backlog. As a monster collecting game, it’s solidly designed overall, its story is drawing me in, and, apart from these problems, I’m having fun, and would recommend it to other fans of RPGs, especially those who are into the monster collecting gig.
I’ve appreciated having two months in a row where I’ve had nice monster collecting games. Now if only I had the free time to play them…
Source: Review Copy Price: £11.99 (£1.69 each for two skins, £3.19 for artbook or soundtrack) Where To Get It: Steam
Content Warning: This game contains body horror, in addition to what is usually expected in a horror game.
I knew I was going to have a fun time with The Coma 2 when our protagonist, Mina Park, utters a solidly “Horror protagonist” line. Context first: She woke up in a strange, alternate school in which her teachers are monsters, and the halls are filled with student bodies twisted into grotesque forms. She escapes said monsters, rescued by somebody, and is deposited at the local police station, and told to wait there until the rescuer (seemingly the only normal person in this universe) comes back. And what does she say?
I’m here, I can file a report at the Police Station.” Solid. Gold.
Horror protagonists, continue to do counter-survival things in order
to make things interesting.
yes, The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters is the sequel to The Coma, this time
from the perspective of Mina Park, the best friend of the first
game’s protagonist, who is drawn into the same shadow world. A world
where people she would otherwise have trusted have become shades or
monsters, and only a few can be trusted.
pretty good survival horror, to be honest. 6 areas, which you hop
between in an effort to, essentially, survive and, hopefully, stop an
eldritch horror from entering our world. Does it have a good ending?
Ahaha, that would be spoilers.
the gameplay is pretty tight. E to interact, some of which
will take some time (and notes will take some extra time, as I
found out on my first proper death in the Police Station. Avoid death
first, notes later!), A and D or the arrow keys to walk, Shift to
run, space for a dodge… And WASD/arrow quicktime events (your
choice) for holding your breath and difficult actions. This,
honestly, is the one thing I wasn’t entirely fond of, but I will say
that the game eases you in.
aesthetically, the game is on point. An inked and cel shaded
hand drawn style that’s quite charming, ambient, eerie music with its
own feel, and audio cues that let you know when a monster that isn’t
one of the basic obstacle types is on your floor, and what direction
they’re coming from? These are all good. Similarly, the
writing is solid, with the character of Mina and others sold well,
and the world given to you piece by piece, in a sensible manner.
wise, it eases you in, and collecting the story notes is, for the
most part, pretty easy when you start, ramping somewhat in
difficulty the first time you hit the Police Station, and… Well,
let’s leave it at “The difficulty curve is reasonable, and I enjoy
this.” And feel wise? Well, I appreciated that there are few jump
scares, preferring to go with enemies you at least know when you
first see them, and the twisted humans, who are quick, screamy, and
will murder you quickly if you don’t succesfully hide or try to just
run (they’re slightly faster than you, although doors and stairs
briefly delay them.) Also a sensible stamina bar. I always
appreciate a stamina bar that lets you run for more than 5 seconds,
although this is still… About fifteen seconds before you’re out of
So, overall, this is fairly nice for a horror game, and, for horror fans, this one is one you should definitely give a go, at the very least.
The Mad Welshman is always pleasantly surprised when someone actually gets what a good horror game should be like. It’s fairly rare.