Archive for the ‘Games Gone By’ Category:

Voxelgram (Going Back)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £7.19
Where To Get It: Steam

Voxelgram is an interesting beast. A 3D Nonagram, or Picross game, where the objective is to take the clues of row, column, and… Other row? Yes, that works… Anyway, to take the contextual clues on the relevant axes of “(maybe a gap) Number (gap of at least 1) Number, etcetera”, until you have a shape that, when coloured, creates an object or scene. In this case, it’s all objects, but this is the general idea.

A fine example of a relatively simple puzzle.

But it differs in a few aspects beyond the obvious “In 3D.” Aspects that work, but may at first annoy. And they work precisely because the puzzles are designed around them. For example, that explanation of the clue format? Untrue in this case. Instead, it’s “Number [number of gaps].” It doesn’t specify the gap length, just as a normal Picross puzzle doesn’t… It simply rephrases the format in a way that makes it a little more difficult to decipher, needing more clues to be placed. Similarly, instead of the usual “maybe, yes, no” options, there’s marking blocks and deleting blocks (the yes and no), and… Putting blocks on other blocks, effectively a means of erasing mistakes. And again, this pretty much works because you’re not marking blocks as wrong or right: You’re deleting them.

This proved to be one of the more difficult puzzles I came across.

And finally, there’s the layering system. You can rotate the puzzle fairly easily, and, since the puzzle clues are written on the cubes themselves, rotating doesn’t make things awkward. What takes a tiny bit of getting used to, however, is switching between layers. It’ll always pick the frontmost side, and when you change sides, the entire slice resets before you go through the layers from that direction. Just like every mechanical change in the game, it makes sense in the context, but takes a little getting used to.

Aesthetically, it’s visually clear, with only the gap number being a little small (but only a little), the dioramas look nice when they’re done, and the solemn piano music (with the occasional small choir) gives it this odd, melancholy vibe. This is an unfinished world. Why don’t you finish it?

So it’s interesting. It doesn’t have a lot, but it does a fair bit with it. So, do I have any gripes?

ARGH! Until a friend helped me out, this one enraged me.

Well, yes. The puzzles vary quite widely in difficulty. There are a few real posers early on, and then… A diorama or two later, it’s a series of easy puzzles, every clue leading very clearly to its conclusion. Which, honestly, feels odd to say considering this is the ideal state of a puzzle of this nature, but it feels oddly… Unsatisfying.

Does this mean I don’t recommend it? Well, no, I do recommend it. Because it makes for a relatively relaxing time, Picross puzzle wise. And there’s at least one less than obvious quality of life feature: For all that it looks like you can go outside of a row or column if you unwisely mouse over another part of the puzzle, it doesn’t actually let you. Makes life easier when deleting blocks. And finally, a word of caution that may apply only to me… Every time I did the tutorial, it erased my progress when I restarted the game. An odd bug, but a minor one where the solution is, essentially, to do the tutorial for the achievement, quit, then start with the diorama puzzles, and never touch the tutorial again.

3D Picross is an interesting deal. And I hope we see more of it, over time.

5 4 3… The Mad Welshman didn’t want to make a puzzle… He just wanted to say out loud a row or column from a Picross puzzle. He doesn’t need a reason.

Kindred Spirits on the Roof (NSFW Review)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £26.99 (£36.13 for all audio dramas and Full Chorus DLC, Full Chorus £7.19, OST £3.99)
Where To Get It: Steam

Content Warnings: Lesbian Sex, Masturbation, Teacher-Student Relationship.


Dragon Spear (Going Back)

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.

The characters you can play. The front 3 are DLC.

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.

Perhaps the translation is off, but any which way, it does seem to not be a great moment, writing wise.

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!

When you properly wallop things, there’s a lot going on. So you know.

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.

Das Geisterschiff (Going Back)

Source: Supporter Gift
Price: £7.19 (£13.79 for all DLC, OST £2.29, unreleased tracks £1.25, remixes free)
Where To Get It: Steam

Content Warning: Although this review is not age gated, be aware that the game has mentions of forced drug use and kidnapping early on.

Ah, the corporate dystopia. The corporate dystopia where people have fucked the planet, the rich have gone to space, and the rest… Are left underground, fearing the sun they once loved. Yup, that totally isn’t too real right now, nosirree… Although, to be fair, the rich would be using rich people spaceships, so at least we get the black comedy of watching their autopilot ignore an asteroid.

See those sunbeams on the right? The sun is so hostile now, it’ll start melting the armour of an exosuit. And, as this note outright states later, it cooks a human in moments.

In any case, Das Geisterschiff is, as you might have guessed, one of those corporate dystopia games. You, the nameless protagonist, have joined a corporate Combat Unit, in order to hopefully make enough money to get off Earth.

Well, we all know how that’s meant to turn out. And, indeed, this game is hard. A fitting kind of hard, but yes, a fair amount of the time, avoiding a fight is the absolute best thing you can do once an enemy hits your radar. And if you do get in a fight, there’s still a fair amount to consider: Do you use some of your limited ammo? Or do you get up close and shoulder-barge the robotic sonuvabitch, because they’re lighter than you, and they can’t take i- Argh, this one was a suicide bomber, great.

Also on the good side, the game is atmospheric as hell, and the atmosphere is dark. The music is heavy saws and bass beats, threatening in tone, the world is dark as hell (As denoted by the content warnings above. Whee, lot of age gating this month!) And your shadowy boss is, as you quickly discover by the second mission, is shady as hell. Well, he is a corporate dystopia boss, of course he is.

It’s a low poly feel, but a good one. Y’know, red aside. And yes, I had trouble telling these screenshots apart when picking them to upload.

Still, content warnings aside, it’s not all roses. Accessibility wise, everything is shades of red, and quite dark, and while the text is sans serif, and the menu text is readable, the notes and talking type text are somewhat small, even on full screen with a big monitor and downtuning the resolution. And part of the game’s difficulty is somewhat of a lack of clarity as to what things are. For example, the screenshot lower down the review is a horrifying scene, if you know what those cuboids are (They’re dead bodies.)

But, unless you’re using things that sort of look like they’re usable, you’re not going to work things out. And you’re definitely going to have trouble finding upgrades, as the only clue I’ve seen is “They’re near those black boxes. Mostly.” Finally, you seem to only have a minimap. So I hope you brought your mapping software! (I didn’t, my first time, mainly because I’ve gotten so used to, y’know, actual maps.)

Six corpses. laid out. And if you hadn’t found another body in this level that explicitly tells you it is, you might not have guessed.

Finally, while I’m not entirely sure if it’s a bad thing or not, there are only a limited amount of saves. 100, to be exact. And it should be remembered that if you come into an area with low health from another, you might as well restart the whole chapter, with what you’ve learned. Because you’ll restart with that low health.

Would I recommend it? Sort of. As always, if the content warnings and accessibility problems turn you off, then no, and I also wouldn’t recommend this to first time players of first person RPGs. But for the more experienced player, it’s definitely an interesting one, just… Use a mapping tool.

The Mad Welshman loves him a dystopia. In fiction. Can you rich old assholes stop trying to fanfic yours in real life? Ta.

The Legend of Arcadieu (NSFW Going Back)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £4.79 (It’s also on Itch, but it appears to only be the SFW version, as opposed to SFW with free DLC for NSFW)
Where To Get It: Steam

Content Warnings: Bondage, Edging, Monstergirls, Rough Sex, Hair Pulling.