Helltaker (Review)

Source: Free
Price: Free, but the artbook has a pancake recipe, is £7.19, and if you like the game, buy it, let the dev know you liked it!
Where To Get It: Steam

Mmm, I do love me a sliding puzzle where I hit things. And I love me some demon gals. And I love the wooing thereof. So… That’s the major points of the review done with, let’s wrap it up, take it home, and-

Damn right!

Wait, you want me to say more? Ugh, fiiiiine… Okay, so… Helltaker is a game in which you, an incredibly macho (to the point of parody) protagonist, goes down to hell to get him a demon harem. Skeletons will bar your way. Block puzzles with one solution, and a perfectly fitting turn limit will haunt you. And saying the wrong thing to a demon girl will result in a bad end. But you are undeterred, because, as the protagonist states above, “When demon girls are involved, no price is high enough.”

Oh, and a multi-stage bossfight. I probably should have mentioned that.

HSSSSSSS!!!!

Anyway, it’s a puzzle game, it’s short, it’s free, and damn, does it have a good aesthetic. I love me some good inks. I love me some cartoonish, consistent visuals. And I love me a clear UX. It has all these things. So I never felt that much frustration with it, even with the normally despised Multi-stage rhythm boss fight (HISSSS!)

Don’t worry, it has a skip button. But doing them gets you cheevos.

And I liked the writing too, short as it is. You could be forgiven for thinking the entirety of the writing is “Short conversation, two choices, one is a bad end where you restart the puzzle”, but there’s also a little bit if you happen to ask the demon girls for advice. Including a secret ending (This is where the CW of suicide mention comes in, as one advice conversation has the choice of “Kill both of them” and “Kill yourself.” Only CW worthy ending that I know in the game, however)

And I would do aanything for love… Crap, that falls through, because I will push blocks…

So… Yeah, I love me a sliding puzzle where I hit things. I love demon gals, and the wooing thereof. And I like the humour of it. It’s horny, but SFW, and it prefers a little comedy, playing into the silliness of the concept, and I like the fact that the artbook also has a pancake recipe (There’s a reason why, but that’s to be discovered through play. If you like the game, get the artbook, give the dev some dough for making this short, but cool game.)

Seriously, buy the artbook if you like the game. It has a pancake recipe, and you’re supporting an indie developer.

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Meteorfall: Krumit’s Tale (Early Access Review 2)

Source: Review Copy
Price: £10.29 (£11.14 for game and soundtrack, £2.09 for Soundtrack)
Where To Get It: Steam

Other Reviews: Early Access 1

Note: This review was written using the optional beta, allowing early early access to features not yet complete. Like the fourth character.

They’re available now, but look, I’m impatient.

Last time I looked at Meteorfall, I appreciated a lot about it. The subtle depth of the deckbuilding, the encouragement to do more with less, and its fun, cartoony aesthetic and character. Oh, and adventurers being represented as characterful assholes too. Oh, Bruno, you growling brute of a man, I still love how your approach to life is to SMASH it…

That is the face of someone extremely smug they did this.

But now… Well, there’s two more characters, two more playstyles… And I’m enjoying them both. Mischief (the one that, at the time of writing, is available on the main branch of the game) is a rogue. Dextrous, stealthy until she attacks… And so, so smug. Thing is, she’s even more of a glass cannon than Greybeard, and, out of stealth… Well, she’s a bit crap without buffing. She relies upon it. Think of her as a hard mode, where you’re milking your resources to their limit.

Muldorf, meanwhile, is a jolly necromancer, and, while his skeletons take health to summon (mostly), and are not, in and of themselves, all that strong (mostly), they can still kill a couple of low level enemies without dying, and can be buffed by various means. This also means that, if you play your cards right, you’re rarely without four cards in your inventory, and his base weapons lifestealing or summoning enemies on killing others means that, if you get a chain going, you’re going to be a tough old coot. Even if you can’t heal normally.

Spooky Scary Skeletons, They Block Me From My Death…

What else has changed? Well, not a whole lot, if we’re talking about core elements. More items, abilities and perks have been added, and not just because there are two new characters with their own level rewards, but the core loop of “Beat all enemies and win, the more tiles still in play, the more bonus points you get to buy cool shit so you can discard some of your own shit, manage your resources well, and get abilities” is unchanged, the emphasis and encouragement of managing your limited resources effectively hasn’t changed, and the sarcastic, sometimes grim humour hasn’t changed either.

So, it’s still recommended as a card-based roguelike, it’s still promising… It’s just there’s more of it. Without drastic changes, I expect I’ll see you all at the release review, which will most likely read “Yup, it’s still good!”

I wouldn’t really call myself a Vaudedude, but hey, Muldorf the Necrodude does Muldorf, and I respect that.

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Necronator: Dead Wrong (Early Access Review)

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.

Ah, the fresh… The freshly exhumed face of a new Overlord in training!

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 castle?

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.

Muahahahahaa…

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.

Pffft. Giving this guy the cold shoulder. Repeatedly.

Actually, wait. Giving him a cold shoulder’s actually a good thing, for an undead. It’s not like you have a warm shoulder!

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!

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Hidden Through Time (Review)

Source: Review Copy
Price: £5.99
Where To Get It: Steam

Hidden object games, when they’re purely hidden object games, are normally extremely my jam, not least because they seem like a bit of a lost art.

Only a gem, and a feather left. Ohhh, Horus is gonna be annoyed if I don’t find his feather…

Hidden Through Time, while it definitely has its good points… Also misses the point enough times that although I’ve completed it, I find myself with mixed feelings. And some eyestrain.

Let’s get the obvious, glaring flaw out of the way right now: There are a fair few objects and people… Who are more than 75% obscured, or hidden in colour identical (or nearly identical) areas. Yes, developers. You want people to have a hardish time, explore your lovingly crafted scenes to find those objects… But if it’s more than 25% obscured, especially if, for example, it’s a thin god-damn thing to start with (Hi, nearly every instance of the mace I saw!), it’s going to irritate people when they find it, even if it is the only instance of the object around. The mace, as the most irritating example I remember, could have been put out in the open. There’s enough visual confusion that it would still be missed on a cursory pass, believe me. Otherwise, that full view of the object in the hints, regardless of what clue you give? Useless to me, or any other player. I got those through sheer bloody mindedness. And no, the outlines don’t actually help with the smaller items. In the case of the smallest items, it makes them harder to identify.

AAAAARGH, NO, PLEASE DON’T. IT’S TINY ENOUGH AS IS!

Rant over. Now let’s get on with nice things. Aesthetically, it’s quite nice. The clue boxes themselves are clear, there’s a nice, simplistic style, which, with the exception of the small, fiddly objects, works for it… And there’s a fairly easy to learn editor, allowing you to set your own objectives and clues, and for others to play those online, nice! It is somewhat irritating that some objects you’d consider rather common, like skeletons (Let’s face it, skeletons in games are really common) are restricted to the age they’re first found in, but that’s, honestly, a minor niggle in the face of things. Music wise, it doesn’t wear out its welcome, although it’s not really memorable stuff.

Scenario wise, I do somewhat like the story mode’s stories, for the most part. The stone age stuff is very reminiscent of both the Flintstones and old children’s puzzle books, which would also sometimes have things like “What if a zoo, but stone age?” , or little touches like the builders in the egyptian setting leaving their tools back at the workplace, or dropping them, or accidentally breaking the pillar they’ve built… These are nice touches, and they definitely helped bring things back from irritation with the negative aspects of the design, to the more positive end of things.

Mmm, well do I remember the tribal moshpit. Rock banging solo went on forever, though!

So, overall, Hidden Through Time is flawed, but it’s still a game that doesn’t outstay its welcome, that allows replayability through creation, has at least an accessible UX (Alas, a lack of colourblindness support, and the aforementioned eyestrain inducement of finding the tinier, skinnier things loses this one accessibility points), and is, overall, a hidden object game to definitely try. You’ll find out pretty quickly if this one’s a turn-off for you.

The Mad Welshman has found everything. Except his mind.

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Lewd Leaf Land: Maple Tea Ecstasy (NSFW Review)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: $4.20 (Approximately £3.50, with the option to donate.)
Where To Get It: Itch.IO

Content Warning: This is an adult only platformer.

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