Legend of Homebody (Early Access Review)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £4.79
Where To Get It: Steam

Wow. Legend of Homebody doesn’t fuck around. It’s not even spring, and I’m already nearly half dead from stress, despite eating, sleeping, and entertaining myself somewhat reasonably. I’ve earned about 15k and spent about twice that. My father is telling me I’m a useless waste of space, while my mother understandingly sends me the cake that is my lifeline.

And the winner of the “Too fucking real” award for 2021 is…

The worst part is, this could accurately be named Womenintech.jpg

So yes, Legend of Homebody is a lifesim game about a NEET (Not in Employment, Education, or Training) trying to make their way in the world through creative endeavours, while keeping their health and mood as best they can. And it’s hard. The Education part? False. You won’t get anywhere in the game without the online courses offered to our poor protag, and, while you can do commissions to pay for your bread and butter, that’s time away from the work that might let you make it big.

So, more fool me, I went with what I know: Gamedev. Which led to the aforementioned situation I started with. Who knew that developing and publishing a game on your own was hard?

God, two trashdads in one month…

Well, me. And every solo indie dev. But I digress. The game is pretty clear, UX wise, it’s pretty well translated, it looks good, for something that never leaves a single room (Another Big Mood from the TMW HQ… Sips tea), and it’s easy to work out the basics. Everything else? Is struggle. And it’s meant to be. There’s story mode, several hard modes, a slightly easier mode with less time, and… Robot mode.

And it’s when you play robot mode that it hits home how this is most definitely a game with something to say about how unnecessarily hard it is to live for creative endeavours. Because you find yourself succeeding. Hell, if it hadn’t been for some boneheaded decisions, I could have gotten an indie darling award, which would be a near unreachable dream in story mode. I made a massive profit.

And all because I had no need for food, sleep, or even entertainment or toilet breaks. That’s what it took to turn from a heartbreaking, depressing run to a successful one.

Gee, I wonder if this screenshot has any sort of social message

You just need to be a good little robot with no needs, drone. So I applaud this game for the way it ties its message to its mechanics, while simultaneously giving it the nastiest curse I can fling at it, the Too Fucking Real For 2021 Award.

Enjoy it.

Hooo boy. Time to sip a cup of tea. In my room. Writing reviews. Staring at the screen in thought.

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Cloud Climber (Review)

Source: It free!
Price: It free!
Where To Get It: Steam!

It’s the end. You’re the last one. And you’re thirsty. But that, honestly, means you can enjoy the last great fruits of humanity’s labour, for good or ill. One. Last. Lap. That’s what Cloud Climber is, a short narrative game about walking through the last remnants of a once… Of a people who worked really hard when their backs were against the wall, one last time.

I wish it were…

See, the world is all desert and sandstorms below. Water stopped coming up the buckets years ago. And that first utterance of the game, that first “Well, I’d better see if anyone else has water”, already has a sense of defeat. But not despair… The calm acceptance of someone who knows it’s over, and there’s nothing they can do about it. One. Last. Lap.

It’s short, so I really can’t say more without spoiling things, but it’s a beautiful set of towers, a beautiful, desolate, and ruined landscape, wood and stone that’s somehow stood the test of time, stood despite building code, and even common sense, has been forgotten. And all for one last push at survival. One. Last. Lap.

It looks so starkly beautiful from up here, doesn’t it?

The music, like the narrator, is calm, appreciating the beauty, gentle strings melding effortlessly in counterpoint to the winds below, the creaking of wood, the rattles and squeals of doors that have warped over the time they’ve been left alone. All presaging One. Last. Lap.

And finally, the acceptance is complete. It’s over. You are the last one, you’ve worked hard. Time to take a well deserved break. And your last lap, your journey to find what you’ve finally given up on finding…

Haha, all I can say is that I’m not sure if it’s a reward… Or a mocking coda on humanity’s…

One.

Last.

Lap.

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Hardspace: Shipbreaker (Early Access Review)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £21.99 (Soundtrack £6.99)
Where To Get It: Steam

If there’s one thing we can be sad about with Hardspace: Shipbreaker, it’s that we can’t huck segments of the ship, especially kersplodey ones, at Corporate. Then again, I can imagine we aren’t the first cutter to be disgruntled and think about that, so they might have giant cannons for just such an eventuality.

One of those “Last things you’ll see” moments. Whoopsie.

Anyway, yes, Hardspace: Shipbreaker is a game about dismantling spaceships in a dystopian hellscape where you are a clone whose processable (not furnaceable) worth is approximately $8. Armed with substandard tools you can improve (and later buy) thanks to completing work orders, and slowly, ever so slowly reducing a billion in debt, you cut up ships and yeet the various portions into the right trash receptacles for recycling, for your corporate masters.

You’re also a clone without a union, so no, diving into one of the three processing areas is a no-go, I’m afraid. You can, to be fair, set your number of clones between infinite, 30 total til game over, and none. Don’t pick none, you will die at least once learning the ropes.

I did, eventually, work out a way of getting these parts apart without this happening. Eventually.

It’s actually pretty relaxing, although there are motion sickness warnings for six degrees of freedom movement and the odd thing that’s moving while you’re looking at something that’s not. And with only a few tools, it’s pretty easy to learn the ropes. Cutting tool in focused mode for getting rid of cutting points or smaller metal plates you just want off to get the sodding airlock already, line cutter for when you’ve got metal things connected you don’t want. Grapple tool, its tether, and force push for moving stuff to the right receptacle and picking up even most things that are nailed down, visor to see the harder to see stuff to shove in the barge or destroy, and demo charges for when you can’t cut the bastard (nanocarbon or cut guard), but you want the damn thing gone. Simple!

…Except a friend just told me I can get rid of cut guards with a charged force push. Fuck my life.

Spooky ship, spooky ship, scares you just like a spooky ship…

The aesthetic is pretty cool, although glitch effects annoy the hell out of me, as does a resetting windowed mode, the UX is pretty clear, the music… Well, it’s space trucker guitars, I have no problem with space trucker guitars for, essentially, working yourself for the company store. The three base ship designs and their variations are pretty cool, each with their own challenges (sod you, Javelin, and your backasswards way of building a ship. I hate ensuring your individual toroids don’t snatch up the core of the ship, or drag the whole thing into the wrong station, and you are my nemesis), so… Yeah, I’m liking it on the aesthetic front.

But I also love me some worldbuilding, and, through collecting data boxes, we see just how shit a company Lynx is… And the mystery behind the AI nodes hiding in the Ghost Ships you encounter later on. It’s really not much of a spoiler to say “Someone done fucked up their if-whiles”…

This one isn’t the biggest. Even at the current stage.

Shipbreaker is pretty far along from the looks of things, and I’d love to see multiplayer, but as it is? Granular difficulty’s fun, the world’s fun, the game modes are fun, and if you’re into just chilling out for an hour or two with some mild swearing, a session of Shipbreaker is a good way to do it.

(EDIT: Well, ain’t my timing great. I published this, then found out the story update is hitting soon. Ah well, enjoy the story, I’m certain it’s suitably dystopian!)

Taaake me hoooome, hyperspace roooaaaads…

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Umurangi Generation (Going Back)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £11.39 (Soundtrack £3.99, DLC £7.19 (good stuff), Soundtrack for DLC £3.99)
Where To Get It: Steam

Photography is one hell of a thing. Like all art, it can show beauty or ugliness. It creates feelings, and often informs. And so, Umurangi Generation is all about… Just that. In each area, get all 10 basic photos (and five bonus objectives), and get more tools to take more photos.

Your four friends. Remember, it doesn’t count as taking a photo of them if even one is left out. Who would leave a cute penguin friend out? Monsters, that’s who.

Seems simple, doesn’t it? Hahaha, it’s not. In many respects. Control wise, it is actually that simple. Hold up camera, take photos, get money, although you get more for photos with lots of objects in that have lots of colours. You can even fiddle with exposure, colour balance, and tint, if you think it looks cool. Take the photos you’re asked for, get to the red marker, always where you start (the yellow one is a sign for the postcard objective), hit E, you’re done. Do it in 10 minutes for extra kudos.

But it’s not that simple, for a couple of reasons. First, some of your objectives are out of the way, difficult to find, or outright hidden. Sometimes, you need a specific lens, which makes it tough to deal with. And, the further you go on, the further you realise these are, essentially, postcards from hell.

I needlessly tilted that one, but… Yeah, shit’s going to hell…

At first, it’s subtle. You can just about see a UN blockade in the first area. Then it becomes more obvious: The troops are here, and the world is somewhat fucked. And the folks high up? They don’t give a fuck. It’s a dystopian future, which you’re living through and documenting… Just like photojournalists covering some of the events of the modern day.

Some of it, yes, is fantastical, like the Squids, but it’s all couched in a sense of reality, however strange it may seem. The UN soldiers on break are lounging around, smoking. The people of the city are… People. And it’s all with a sense of its location, a Maori world, with their symbols and culture… And graffiti and snaps you need to take… That paint the whole, grim picture.

They may be chilling out now… But things are going to hell.

Climate change, war, the price of rampant capitalism… All seen through a camera lens. You’re just trying to get by, in a world getting closer to apocalypse, a world where the leaders desert their duty because they don’t see it as a serious problem… A world that can feel all too real.

It’s a solid, sometimes depressing, sometimes beautiful game. It engages with its subjects through its level design, and I’d highly recommend it. Well, except for folks for whom this will be too depressing.

The Mad Welshman admits he got too-real vibes. Yes, even during the bigger stuff.

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Beyond A Steel Sky (Review)

Source: Review Copy
Price: £29.99
Where to Get It: Steam

Beneath A Steel Sky was an interesting game. A tale of dystopia, of consumerism and control gone rampant. And the main character, Foster, and his good pal Joey, saved Union City from the despotic reign of LINC, an AI, and left Joey as the snarky, yet benevolent ruler of Union City.

Even the holograms have to be cheery. Well, except one. I think she’s meant to be gruff to drive people away…

Seems like there’s no room for a sequel, right? But history repeats itself (somewhat), as, once again, the peace of Foster’s australian world is shattered, with the death of a friend, and the kidnapping of said friend’s child. And the trail leads him… Back to Union City. Where Joey, still revered, is missing, and where how good a citizen you are (your QDos score), and how happy you are, will determine where in society you stand.

As in the prequel, this is an adventure game collaborated on by Dave Gibbons and Revolution Software, and that collaboration shows in the world of Union City once more. Repairmen whose job isn’t to repair, but simply to note problems. Wonderful art portraying a city with, as before, a shadowy underbelly. And some very amusing voice acting. It’s the good stuff, aesthetically speaking.

Yes, not everyone is satisfied…

For those whose mileage varies on adventure game logic, there are a few puzzles that require you to see all the elements, some of which are awkwardly placed (wait, an electric fence… Behind a waterfall? Recipe for disaster, mate!), but some really stand out, such as an early one where you need to deceive an asshole from the Ministry of Comfort (Yes, they’re basically the secret police.) You need, in essence, to search for clues among a dead man’s belongings (for that’s who you’re pretending to be) to give enough information about your past life to… At least make them pretend everything’s alright.

Ohhhh, I remember most of you

It controls pretty well, early bugs have been fixed (although the Unreal Engine remains a resource hog), it’s aesthetically appealing, and brings a good (In the “creatively well done”) dystopia to life, with only some puzzles being “Adventure Game Logic.” For fans of adventure games, both this and the original come highly recommended.

The Mad Welshman notes that Beneath A Steel Sky is also on Steam, if you only use Steam. It’s been on GOG for quite a while now.

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