Ultimate ADOM (Review)

Source: Review Copy
Price: £17.49
Where To Get It: Steam
Previous Review: Early Access

Ah, ADOM. I’m going to say this now, if you don’t like hard, old school roguelikes, stay away, because ADOM is very, very traditional. In the “If you don’t know the systems, you’re unlikely to get past Level 3, and random start is Challenge Mode” sense.

MONSTER CLOSET, WOOOOOOOO!!!!

Also if you find a clunky UX which occasionally does things like have text that’s obviously code (such as, in at least one of these screenshots, “DRINK_SYMBOL”) offputting. Because that’s a thing too.

Anyway, yes, despite this, it’s not a bad roguelike. It is, after all, one of the earlier ones that’s gone through a lot of rejigging, although this version doesn’t have the massive world traditional ADOM does. Gender options are alright (including, as I mentioned in my Early Access review, Tentacled… Gotta love Tentacled and Non-Binary as options… Although, as with older RPGs, each gender comes with stat mods… Not my favourite), class and race options are pretty plentiful, and there’s certainly a fair few systems to interact with, like summoning, grafting, corruption and mutation… There’s not all that many roguelikes where I can say “I, a Gray Elf Necromancer, decided I wanted a third arm that belonged to a goblin. I never did find a third dagger for it before I died, but I could have, and that would have rocked. Damn you, dark elf immune to life draining magic, which was my main healing…”

Bree-Yark is… God-damn, I think that’s one of the oldest tabletop/roguelike memes in existence… Glad to see it here.

And aesthetically, it’s alright. No major issues besides skinny text for accessibility, the chibis and monsters look alright… Honestly, my main problem is that it’s clunky. Progression has gotten faster, so levelling isn’t a big problem, but going through a mini-menu when you want to do certain things gets annoying quickly, even with a turn based game where taking your time and thinking is the preferable path.

In the end, Ultimate ADOM may well please traditional roguelike fans who don’t mind a little jank, but folks looking to get into roguelikes should definitely look elsewhere. I honestly wish I could say more, but… There’s not a lot else to say that I haven’t said before.

The Mad Welshman is one of the deities in this game. Well, he’s like one of the deities in this game. Certainly as stylish.

Become a Patron!

Deep Sea Valentine (Review)

Source: Review Copy
Price: £3.99 (£3.99 artbook)
Where To Get It: Steam

On the one hand, I love my Good Queer Shit, this is well known. I like gijinkas (human anthropomorphisations of various stuff), and I like games that use engines that aren’t really built for the game. But…

When you’re not talking to people, you’re walking through a smallish world. Considering this is using a visual novel engine, I’m slightly impressed.

…This game tries way too hard. And the result is a little painful.

Okay, maybe more than a little, this thing… I think I heard ten memes in the space of five minutes, and my brain (and teeth) ache a little.

So… Anyway, the game. It’s a visual novel made in Ren’py, simple choices, a choice of sea life gals to smooch on Valentine’s Day, short, to the point… And it has top down walking in it. Top down walking that scrolls somewhat jankily, and… Feels superfluous, honestly. There are set situations you’re faced with, things only opening up (a little) when you get to a certain point, so… Why not go with a more traditional structure, choosing where to go, etcetera?

Cheese. Health Advisory: Do not use this line.

Honestly, that’s mostly dissatisfaction with the jank of the top-down, majority segment of the game. Aesthetically, it be pixels, with hand drawn character art for the conversations, so I’m not complaining about the aesthetics.

The writing, on the other hand… Ohhh boy. See, I was down with “It’s time to pick up women. [pause] Respectfully.” But then, shortly after?… Stans, Stands, Darude’s Sandstorm, lots of cheesy lines… It grated. It grated a whole lot, and the humour seemed forced. I didn’t really feel any attraction to anyone (much less the protag), and…

I… Really wasn’t joking about the Darude Sandstorm thing. SIGH.

As such, I… Really can’t recommend this, unless you’re a masochist, or are as internet poisoned as the two jackass boys who seem to be the nominal antagonists of the story. I like my Good Queer Shit, but this… This ain’t it.

The Mad Welshman would like to be, under the sea, in a cute dolphingirl’s parlour, in a cave… Alas…

Become a Patron!

Hell Architect (Review)

Source: Review Copy
Price: £19.49
Where To Get It: Steam

Much like describing my issues with demons/Lucifer as tempters, knowing where the hell (ha) to start with this review has been difficult for me. But what I can say is that I felt… An odd sense of disappointment with it. Maybe I’m just being picky. Maybe. But nonetheless, let’s start there.

Hahaha, clothes? Why would you need clothes in hell?… I bet you’re all 1%ers too, how does it feel to lose your underwear, let alone your shirt?

There is, on the surface, nothing wrong with Hell Architect. It’s one of those pauseable real time management and building deals, in which you take care of your sinners while torturing them (sinners, apparently, still need food, drink, and proper toilet breaks (to make drinks) in Hell), building various things to look good to your boss (Lucifer, naturally), set underground (again, this is natural and common imagery of Hell), coming with a sandbox (the most commonly played), a solid tutorial, and scenarios to play with. All well and good.

Except… I can’t help but compare it to an earlier game, not only because of the (very) similar gameplay, but because it’s precisely why I feel so dissatisfied. The game being Oxygen Not Included (review here.)

Always fond of a wee cutscene, and I do like the painted aesthetic on display…

Aesthetically, it’s alright. UX is a little small, even on max scaling (upside: It has UX scaling. No congratulations, devs, this really should be normal across the games industry), but the cutscenes are visually appealing, what’s what is pretty clear, the music’s fitting, and the voice acting’s solid.

But it’s lacking the same character I saw in Oxygen Not Included, except with the torture devices. It… Feels blander, if that makes sense. And this is the thing… If I didn’t have this comparison, it would be an alright game in my book. Hell, it still is, perfectly serviceable, lots of playtime ahead, things to look forward to, tortures, etcetera.

Wh-whoah-whoah-whoah-whoah-whoah… They actually do have needs? Well, shit…

Even so, this is one of those times where, despite my heavy dislike of doing this, I can’t help but compare it to another game, and find it wanting in comparison. Maybe, if you like strategy/management/building type deals, you’ll find pleasure in this. For me, however, it just didn’t gel, even if that feels unfair to say, even to me.

I can’t ignore the emotional component of playing a game, however. That, as well, wouldn’t be fair.

The Mad Welshman doesn’t mind visiting Hell. They’re all pretty chill down there. Very big on responsibility for one’s actions…

Become a Patron!

Rogue Legacy 2 (Early Access Review 2)

Source: Supporter Gift
Price: £19.49
Where to Get It: Steam

For all that I enjoyed Rogue Legacy way back when, it had moments where you hated it, and felt it was extremely unfair. And sometimes? It was.

Screw you, challenge guy. Screw. You.

And so, I immediately turn to challenges for heirlooms, the items that, effectively, bar progression. Because yes, I feel those are extremely unfair. Here, in the path of empathy, a gauntlet of needing to use your kick to boost off the swinging braziers of death and pain to get to new platforms, culminating in a circle of them you have to navigate and, effectively, use twice to get to the end of that segment of the challenge. There, in the airdash path, a flamethrower segment that, if you don’t remember it exists, you won’t immediately hit the airdash button and hammer the fuckin’ thing until you get out of there. The first one is early on in the challenge, a difficulty spike that really feels out of place. The second is the same, although more forgivable because it seems to be toward the end, rather than the second part of a multi-stage challenge, exams to see if you can use these items.

This is not nearly as terrible a situation as you’d think. You can destroy these spikes. Others not so much.

Technically, I should have described the game for the newcomers before that, but it’s such a pressing piece of assholishness that I had to mention it, because right now, it is a turnoff, and a big one. So… Rogue Legacy 2 is a procgen platforming type dealio, where your bloodline has been cursed, and only by defeating the horrors of the haunted castle in which the curse began can you all be free. That’s harder than it sounds, by the way. A lot harder, because you start pretty weak. Weak enough that you’ll likely die within a few rooms at first.

But you do get better, and you get to experience new and interesting classes, regardless of whether you’ve played the first. This time, I’ll mention the Chef. Yes. Chef. A well made frying pan is an extremely powerful tool in the right hands, and if it’s also enchanted to burninate thy foes, and turn medium sized projectiles into fireballs? That’s… Pretty good.

So, aesthetically, it remains good (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it), with important elements being clearly shown, some of the more irritating filters having been removed (yay!), and a pretty accessible UX and tooltipping. Cool!

Ahahaha… Fuck.

Less cool is the base keybinds. I’m going to be rebinding the keys next time, because the base keybind of WASD for movement (well, technically ASD, with W being for easy aiming of spears, and SPACE for jump, but) and Shift for… Errr… Bounce… Well, with shift being a little finger thing, that’s much more suited for prolonged actions, which a bounce… Definitely isn’t. I’m gonna have to move that somewhere more accessible.

But, overall, for all my bitching about these things, Rogue Legacy 2 remains a recommendation for folks into roguelike platformers, still being in Early Access as it is.

The Mad Welshman swears he’s got his shit toge- ahahaha sod, I’m dead.

Become a Patron!

Banners of Ruin (Review)

Source: Review Copy
Price: £15.49 (£21.28 for bundle with Supporter stuff, Supporter Bundle on its own £5.79)
Where to Get It: Steam

I do love me some anthro dark fantasy. A tale of revenge, the last members of a clan of animals making their way through the enemy’s city to claim their head… Yes, this is very much my jam.

And, despite some qualifications, Banners of Ruin is also my jam.

Who are the bad guys? Well, they’re the ones on the side of ri- on the right hand side. This is dark fantasy, there is no right side…

So, in case you hadn’t guessed, this is one of those games where you pick cards for events (out of three each time, although you won’t always get a choice), level up your characters, build up a deck of combat cards with which to beat down the enemy, and weapons and armour to help screw them up, recruit more characters (potentially), fight a variety of enemies, and… Well, most likely die on your run until you really get to know the game.

Just roguelike things, y’know?

Honestly, though, while this isn’t anything new, per se, it’s solidly built. Choices are relatively simple, and everything is clear… Well… See, this is where one of the qualifications comes in.

See those tiny squares on the bottom? That’s where you drop your stuff.

Accessibility wise, it’s fuckawful. Serif fonts, often tiny. Colourblindness unfriendly symbols which are also tiny… Would a white outline, or, y’know, a high contrast colour kill you, folks? I can tell it’s bleeding from the drops, I can tell it’s a wound from… I know what the symbols mean because of your tooltips… It does have some of the basic stuff, like windowed mode, removing motion blur or screen shake, so on so forth, but… Something this ubiquitous is something that really needs looking at.

So there’s that. I did, however, like the fact that fights that seemed extremely deadly at first were actually manageable… Well, until the first boss, who utterly ruined me… But that’s generally the case with this sort of roguelike. I liked the fact that moving a party member from their position flummoxes the direct attack enemies, but doesn’t work at all on archers, and has only limited use with pikemen. However, be warned, keeping weapons in your stash also means they’re cards in your deck. Cards you can’t use, or, more accurately, I couldn’t quite use. Similarly, switching equipment from the looting screen is… Awkward. Tiny icons again, folks… Tiny icons.

I couldn’t exactly turn down a ferret with a polearm, could I?

And visually, I love it. I’m a sucker for painted art, and the art is good. Soundwise, I don’t feel particularly strongly either way.

If the accessibility issues were fixed, I’d whole-heartedly recommend this one to folks more experienced with card-based roguelikes, but as it is, it comes with that heavy accessibility qualification.

The Mad Welshman wants all dark animal fantasy to be as accessible as possible. The only thing I’d say we need more than dark fantasy anthro games is lesbian otome villainess isekai games.

Become a Patron!