Source: Review Copy Price: £14.99 Where To Get It: Steam
For all that I am not the biggest fan of tower defense games, I do respect a game that respects my time. And Necronator, being a tower defense roguelike, is a game that respects my time. And has a sense of humour. And, so far, only a few flaws.
If you’ve never played one of these, the deal in this one is
relatively simple. You summon enemies from your own “tower” (a
crystal sphere, in this case), they go toward the enemy settlements
or along the path you choose for them (by flipping signs), and the
enemy does the same from their castle. Why a crystal ball and a
Well, because you’re an evil overlord. Well, an evil overlord in
training. And each time you defeat a settlement, be it an actual
battle, a shop, an event, or a rest point, you move onto the next,
down a branching map until… The boss. Gaining more servants along
the way, that you cast.
There’s more to it than that, of course, mana, how getting minor
settlements from the enemy speeds up your mana production, and makes
defending a lane a little easier, how if you’re not quick enough
to ruin an opponent, they reinforce, and the fight gets harder the
longer it drags on… It’s a deckbuilder too.
Anyway, yes, battles are, overall, short. They get longer, as the
sectors drag on, but for the first hour or so of play, you’ll be hard
pressed to find one that lasts longer than five minutes. And I
respect that. It’s pretty frantic, it looks pretty nice, and a
rotatable view means that things can obscure the path you’re
looking at, but it’s never more than a keyboard press away, and
dragging units onto the field can be done anywhere, so this is
a pretty good deal.
Helps that it aesthetically looks pretty good, with some nice music,
a good pixelly feel mixing well with cel-shaded art… My main
criticism, aesthetically, is that some things don’t seem to get sound
cues, so you have to trust, for example, that enrages are proccing,
and that the status symbols over a unit are small unless you zoom
in… Which you don’t, generally speaking, want to do.
Overall, though, it feels frantic and challenging without actually being twitchy, it’s got an interesting deck mix, a good aesthetic, it respects your time… It’s a promising start for Necronator, and I look forward to seeing where it’s going.
The Mad Welshman salutes his fellow Overlords. Soon, brethren, soon, we shall face… The Finals!
There is perhaps nothing more satisfying than riddling demons with holes with dual wielded SMGs. The kickback, the satisfying noise, the rapid thuds followed by the larger thud (or boom) as the monstrosity from another dimension finally keels over. In your imagination, of course, because while there’s bullet trails in Jupiter Hell (allowing you to see just how much ammo you wasted murdering them), death animations aren’t really that impressive, nor do they need to be.
Oh. Wait. There is perhaps nothing more satisfying than seeing the
sizzling holes, melting a demon piece by piece, with dual wielded
plasma SMGs. I stand corrected.
What I’m saying is, 0.8.8, the Dual Wield update for Jupiter Hell,
has a feature that’s pretty damn satisfying, even if it has some
qualifiers, like “You get this cool thing if you survive
your first three level ups”, “It will still take up two weapon
slots”, “Remember how you had that ammo problem? It will chew
through ammo faster”, and “Only Marines and Scouts get this.
Of course, it’s not the only change, although hacking turrets
feels… A little underwhelming, as an example. Find the computer
terminal on a level, spend 3 of the new combo armour
replacement/hacking items, the multitool, and bam, turrets are…
Deactivated, seemingly. Since I’ve never seen a turret shoot someone,
and they have an ammo drop next to them, that’s basically what I
assume, anyways. I mean, it makes levels slightly easier?
Anyway, yes, I forgot, all this time, to say what Jupiter Hell is,
for the folks in the back. Jupiter Hell is a turn-based roguelike,
heavily inspired by Doom (Its spiritual predecessor actually was
Doom: The Roguelike, and it was only Bethesda’s litigiousness, in
spite of Id Software being cool with it, even flattered, that it is
not called DoomRL2 today.) Actions like moving, reloading, firing…
All take a certain amount of time, and the enemies, similarly, work
on a timer. Diagonal movement costs two squares of movement, but
moving doubles your chance of evading shots, so it’s valid to, when
seeing a big old bundle of enemies, to book it to a safer position.
Indeed, considering enemies will now hit cover when they see you most
times, and only get out if you destroy it (sometimes possible) or
lure them out (a risky move in some cases, but risk management is the
name of the game.)
And how does all this feel? Well, easy mode feels pretty do-able,
although you definitely have hairy moments. Normal is a roguelike
experience, something that takes a fair amount of tactical thought to
defeat… And, of course, there’s challenge modes. I don’t recommend
challenge modes for the casual player, or the higher difficulties.
But it is casual playthrough accessible, with relatively
minimal unlocks for getting certain achievements.
It helps that it also looks and sounds pretty good. Shots sound
satisfying, the clank of one of the chonky security robots is a sound
that, once you know the enemy itself, makes you break into a cold
sweat and hunt cautiously for both the robot and the best cover, the
maps look pretty good for being tile based, quite atmospheric, and
the music… Well, as with its inspiration, it veers between heavy,
driving metal, and ominous, low tunes, setting the mood for each
area. Oh, and then there’s the Marine/Scout/Techie, whose angry
growls evoke that 90s protag feel, but in a way that’s not, like
quite a few of the 90s FPS protags, a dickwad. Just a dude very, very
angry that shit’s gone to hell.
So yeah, Jupiter Hell is getting closeish to release now, the devs have been very good about trying to balance it while maintaining interesting mechanics, and, while I don’t think they’re quite there yet, it’s a pretty good roguelike to start your entrance into the genre.
The Mad Welshman has nothing against demonic denizens. He just wished they’d stop trying to kill him.
Source: Cashmoneys Price: £12.99 Where To Get It: Steam
At first, Endcycle Vs didn’t interest me, despite loving Megaman Battle Network’s combat system of a 3×6 grid, split in two, in which the player and their opponents use abilities (Chips, in the case of the player) to attack the enemy, a new hand coming when the old one is used. After all, it was multiplayer only, and not even mod support was going to bring me to that party.
But now, it has singleplayer and… Well, I’m somewhat bouncing off
it, to be quite honest.
Mainly, it’s for a very simple reason: Everything is fast. And can
seemingly move diagonally, although that may be just that they’re…
Going really fast. In its inspiration, MegaMan Battle Network, things
generally don’t move quickly. And the few enemies that do are
considered the biggest pains in the ass in the series. Similarly,
some moves where instant hits (known as hitscan), so you at least
knew that, the moment you hit the fire button, something would get
And neither of these appear to be true, with the exception of swords,
in Endcycle Vs. Spreadshots? Slowish projectiles. Cannons? Slowish
projectiles. The “Rush” Sword is, in fact, a leisurely dodge. And
grenade and trap type weapons both have a specific range, and are,
generally speaking, slow. Meanwhile, enemies fast. Can you perhaps
see the problem here?
Now, less a problem and more “Something different, to maybe get
used to” is the fact that, instead of getting a new “hand” of
chips once you’ve used the last, you have three sets of four chips,
each with cooldowns, and you can switch between chips with the space
key, and use one of those four chips with the arrow keys. Okay, cool.
But what this, generally speaking, means is that you’re either
waiting on a cooldown, or rapidly switching between ability sets.
Now, you can set everything to attack chips, if you really
want, but it’s good to have some sort of healing, some sort of
defence, and some sort of area or panel grab chip, which makes
neutral panels yours, or enemy patterns neutral. Because you can only
move on neutral or your panels, so without those, you can get
Aesthetically, it’s alright. The music is good, light, but pumping
beats for combat, a synth theme, various other tunes, all inspired
by… Well, its inspiration. The spritework’s alright, the menus have
a consistent font, and my main gripe is that it’s hard to parse
cooldowns when you’re concentrating more on the enemy’s position
rather than, y’know, you. Where the icons and their cooldown
Overall, it’s very obviously designed for the Pro E-Sports crowd,
balanced around people who are twitchier, more timing aware, and fine
with longish matches because they’re darting around so damn much. But
that definitely isn’t for me, and I don’t particularly see it being
appealing to more than a niche crowd within the niche that is people
who like this sort of battle game overall, and the people who, like
me, loved a game boy advance series from way back when.
There are other games like this in my future. And so, I don’t actually have all that much interest in coming back to this.
The Mad Welshman lives in the cyberworld. He has to admit, it’s a somewhat dull place. You get used to those rushing neon comets quite quickly.
Source: Cashmoneys Price: £27.99 Where To Get It: Steam
Ah, the games that try to give us the Pokemon experience on PC. The hunting of cute creatures, the training of cute creatures, the, er… Well, let’s skip over one of those points to the charm of gym leaders, the worlds, and the cartoonishly villainous antagonists. Yeah… And Temtem, in Early Access right now, is one of those, and is also… An MMO.
right, a massively multiplayer game, in which you can, at times,
interact with other trainers. Suffice to say, I am an internet
hermit, so I shall most likely end up talking about that on the next
Early Access review. For now, though, let’s talk about interesting
differences, nice touches, aesthetics, and, of course, how it feels
much from the beginning, there were interesting things that quickly
became apparent. Now, before we talk about that, the way it usually
goes for the new folks: You are a monster tamer, catching monsters in
some form of digital storage (cards, in this case) after weakening
them enough, and using them to fight other trainers, most of whom
will pick a fight with you first. The wild temtem only exist in
bodies of water and tall grasses, for the most part, and, once a
fight begins, you engage in a turn based battle, which is where the
first differences crop up.
things stay the same. Your Temtem all have types, and those types are
strong against one or more types… And weak against others. But
here’s an important difference: Once you run out of stamina, the
resource each Temtem has for using moves, it’s not “Oh heck, that
move’s useless now.” No, you can do one of two things, both of
which have different risks. You can rest that Temtem for a turn,
which means you’re losing out on damage, but get stamina back… Or
you can still use the move, but take the overflow of stamina loss to
your hit points, then have to rest a turn. If you have healing
items, and that move makes a win that turn likely, odds are high that
one’s going to bring you the higher reward.
better, once you have a Temtem caught and registered in your
codex, the game will colour code the target ring around the Temtem a
bright green (for super-effective), or a dark red (for weak.) Value
differences, people: They make a lot of difference. It’s by no means
the only set of changes, which make for a more streamlined, nuanced
experience, but it’s definitely one you notice straight away. Finally
on the interesting and positive differences front, there is Temtem
Essence, effectively, a full party heal and revive that can be used
once, until you return to the nearest healing station. Cool.
the game is cartoonish in nature, with cel shaded 3D models, nice,
orchestral style music (I do love the cheery violin number you first
hear when travelling the first route), and the writing… Well, from
the moment you look at the Fire starter, and you hear the professor
mention he won that starter in a pub brawl, you know the writing’s
going to be a little more mature, and I appreciate this step. So…
There’s a fair amount to like. What’s not so hot?
it’s only a few things so far, and I’m sure that, later in Early
access, the devs will handle some of them. Balance wise, the first
area is a little tough, and I had to rush back to the healing console
a few times before I got to the first town, because some of the
trainer fights (for example, the fight where there’s a level 11… I
already forget the name, but it’s a bigass piranha.) are somewhat
tough. Not unbeatable, for sure, but there’s some you’re definitely
not coming out of without a Temtem being knocked out. Which neatly
leads into another minor niggle… Unless you’re talking to
everybody, you may not realise which of the three consoles you come
across are the healing one, the storage one, or the vendor. It’s not
a big problem, as experimentation quickly shows which is which
(it’s the left one for healing), but it is an annoyance. But,
on the other hand, it’s a definite improvement that there’s no
unskippable speech, and the animation for healing is pretty quick.
Very nice quality of life thing, right there.
the things that are interesting, but whether they please is to taste.
Firstly, that some Temtem start without offensive moves when they’re
caught. That one usually resolves itself relatively quickly, but in
your first area, levelling up requires them to be in a fight to get
experience, for at least one round. And secondly, that evolution
levels are not “This level, full stop”, but “This many levels
after the level you caught it at.” Personally, I found it an
interesting touch that doesn’t overly affect my experience, but
others may get turned off, so that has to be mentioned. There is also
the fact that any one Temtem only has a limited number of breedings
in them, and, when bred, the child has the lower breeding
limit of the two parents. That one can, potentially sting.
Anyway, overall, I’ve had a pleasant time so far, now that the rush of the first few days has gone down. It has quite a few quality of life features (more than I could explain in my usual review size), interesting mechanical changes from its spiritual inspiration, a nice aesthetic, and, of course, playing with your friends. I can appreciate this a fair bit.
The Mad Welshman is a hermit, it’s true. But in his time in the mountains, he learned well the art of swearing at a monster-capturing device to make it work better. A valuable skill.