Source: Cashmoneys Price: £1.69 Where To Get It: Steam
Bards have quite the reputation in tabletop circles. They can and will romance anything, or at least try to, whether it’s advisable or not. And, due to their natural charm, this will often work. It gets them into trouble, sometimes fatal, as much as it provides rewards.
So, in essence, they’re human beings who aren’t aromantic.
Okay, okay, there’s more qualifiers and nuance than that, but yes, Bard Harder is simultaneously about one of the more out there examples of bardery (A lich, to be precise), and of their player’s struggle to ask the DM they like on a date.
It’s cute, it’s silly, and, overall, it’s a story about the importance of knowing the target of your affections, listening to them, and clearly communicating with them. It’s a visual novel in which most of the bad ends are due, simply, to not using the information you gather.
I’ll freely admit I didn’t gather all the endings. I just wanted the one. But it was the main one, and it was sweet. Aesthetically, it’s pretty nice, UX is pretty standard for a Ren’py work, but the music and visuals appeal, and the writing… I have to admit, I agree with the people who simultaneously spoiler and screenshot said lich screaming “WHY ARE YOU SO CUTE?!?”
If you want a short, appealing visual novel, this one’s a pretty pleasant one, although I would drop the content warning of “Kissing a skeleton.” Even I’m not sure how that one works.
Content Warning: There are insects in this game, including spiders.
So here I am, trying to escape from perhaps the most Midlands dungeon keep of all time. I forgot how to beat the first floor boss, and so, surrounded by zombies and the technically invincible boss, I die ignobly.
So, here I am, trying to escape again. Dunno how I survived, but this time, I’m more prepared. This time, I bop the boss with my loot bag into spikes, killing them instantly, make my way upstairs… And then I try to make a flying leap to murder a bug, overshoot, and plummet to my death.
And now, I am trying to escape from perhaps the most Midlands dungeon, consistently getting to floor 5, and my only woes in life are the healer orcs, who heal enemies faster than I can smash them in the face.
That might be something to look at, balance wise. And skulls and flies remain aggravating enemies where, without a wand, you’re playing the waiting game (which sucks)
But otherwise, I’m having a whale of a time, in a first person roguelike with a silly sense of humour, some cool enemies, and an incremental system where, so long as individual runs go well, my trajectory is upward and outward. And, due to levelling also gaining you the ability to permanently copy (and improve) skills that previously belonged to your kit? Yes, I’m becoming quite the monster, and look forward to eventually finding out what our amazon’s deal is. Or one of the other characters.
So yes, random loot, several item slots, potions, wands, edible maggots, and moleman shopkeepers from Yorkshire are all part of this experience. Along with 2d drawings, in eight different directions, in a 3d low poly dungeon with painted textures, a cartoony look, some fun, silly voice acting, and fittingly off kilter music. This is extremely my jam. Especially with its very British sense of humour, your jailor “back in a bit” forever.
It just feels good, from the swinging of the sword and a quick parry system (remember, parry the weapon, not the enemy holding it), to the joy of smacking a zombie or nastier beast into spikes, killing them instantly, to the occasional comedy. It’s honestly not a bad beginner’s first person roguelike, as your general upward progression is noticable. But it has things for other fans of the genre too, so… Yes, definitely recommended, guv’nor!
The Mad Welshman used to live in West Yorkshire. Maybe he should go back there, and go down t’dungeon for a nice bitter…
Source: Cashmoneys Price: £15.49 Where To Get It: Steam
I dislike Golf. I don’t get it. I don’t like it. I don’t like many of the people who play it, because it is the sport of the bourgeoisie, and honestly? Fuck those guys. But I have realised I hate What The Golf, a game that is only tangenitally about golf, in that you have a power and direction to your swing, and environmental bullshit in the way… More.
Not because it’s a bad game. It really, really isn’t. Not because I don’t like its sense of humour, its playfulness. Nope. It’s because it made me race that fucking sheep. It made me play Flappy Golf. At some point, it might make me play Golf Doom, and I will die a lot (unlike in Doom), and I’ll get irritable.
And so, the rant is over, and we get to what’s fun about this. In short, it’s a combination of the aforementioned humour and playfulness (the Not-Mario level, for example, has “What The Golf” being sung to the tune of our well beloved plumber’s 1-1 theme), a solid, low poly aesthetic with real charm to it, and surprising you at almost every turn with whatever zany thing you’re going to do with the basic mechanic of “Hold the mouse away from the direction you want to go, further away = stronger.”
The aforementioned flappy golf is one of the annoying ones, but one that made me laugh was the one where the pointer was the thing that got thrown around. Or maybe that couch launching ragdoll one. Those are two good early examples.
Design wise, it’s pretty accessible. Clear colour differences, level objectives are pretty clear, the aesthetics are pretty good… My only major gripe is that the difficulty, especially with the crown levels, is highly variable, even early on, and that it’s not made clear that playing a level multiple times (three times, each a variation) can be done.
So yes, What the Golf? has its flaws, but is overall a good game, sometimes fast paced and twitch, sometimes calm, and often funny… But I still find myself grinding my teeth, even as I acknowledge it’s a good game.
The Mad Welshman well remembers a friend from his youth who got some use out of golf. He used to collect discarded golf balls, break ’em open, and sell the rubber bands. Good pocket money, really.
Source: Supporter Gift Price: £9.99 Where To Get It: Steam
I enjoyed the hell out of Monster Prom. Truly, it was an experience that will always stay with me, the days of smooching monsterfolk that shaped me, a magical time fraught with drama and sometimes iffy humour…
And now, it’s time for summer camp, with a mostly new cast, some new mechanics to shake things up, and, although the core of the game remains the same… Going to places that raise stats, successfully navigating events through picking which of the two choices correspond to the higher stat of the pair (yes, you have to deduce this), a campfire interlude in which you try to get hearts with the monster of your dreams by pandering… All of this remains the same, but there’s new wrinkles, changes. And some of them I like, some of them, I understand (but don’t necessarily like), and… Well, actually, there’s only one thing I don’t reallylike, but we’ll get to that.
It’s basically a VN dating sim type dealio, but with extra horny, a customisable content filter, and a competitive element if you’re playing together.
Anyway, changes. Character choices feel a little more natural, if a little bit more confusing for the first part, which is picking three items for your stat improvements to put in your backpack. With the quiz of the previous game, it was a little more clear, but I sorta get it, and it is a fitting way to work it in, as is trying to break the ice with your chosen bae before you’ve hit the camp.
The campfire, much like the lunch hall of the previous game, is mostly the same, except… There’s two differences, and they’re both fun. Want to give another player a boost? Spread some goss, honey, the mothman over there is dying to hear the latest! Haven’t seen it backfire yet (nope, just did, right now… -4 Boldness, OW), and there’s some fun madlibs. Now… Juan the Magical Latino Cat, this… Is a slightly different story. His role is to shake things up, by providing you with one drink, chosen from either one you can see, and maybe guess the effects of… Or the Mystery Box. There’s a couple that screw you over, but mostly, it’s interesting stuff, which does change your plans, and I like that.
Then there’s the little bit of rep, and this time, definitely intentional. Last game, we had Zoey, who many consider to be transgender (and awesome), and now? Milo, the nonbinary reaper. Who, like pretty much all of the main cast, is extremely cute. Would talk up on their instagram contents, 10/10. And someone’s parents being a gay couple. And pretty much all the main cast technically being pansexual. Okay, I take it back, this game’s pretty queer.
Aesthetically, it remains the same, although the music does feel samey pretty quickly, I kinda miss the “What they did after” vignettes, but the replacement of a cool credits animation makes up for that somewhat, and, while there’s stuff still needing to be put into the game (Hi there Gallery mode, I want a full screenshot of Milo’s hot bod, thanks in advance.) It remains accessible, the content filters are a nice feature, even if they don’t… Full cover everything, but I’m reasonably certain they’ve tried to keep it CW free, outside of the events and endings.
So, is it a recommendation? Yup, pretty much. I’d have liked it if they’d released with all the content, rather than putting it out now with some stuff missing, but, honestly, it’s definitely enjoyable right now, even if I do wish there was a cheat sheet built in that, once you’ve smooched your date once, helps narrow down what stats you need to smooch them again. Mostly because it’s tiresome remembering, and I want to enjoy the events along the way. Still, if you like smooching monsterfolk, Monster Prom remains a series to enjoy.
Well, unless you’re not up for thirst. Because hoo boy, there’s a lot of thirst.
As before, The Mad Welshman had real difficulty working out who they wanted to date. So they dated them all.
Source: Review Copy Price: £14.99 Where To Get It: Steam
Okay, so… I’m hecka late on this release review, for which I apologise. Anyway, yes… Necronator, a tower defence game with a whimsically comedic evil overlord theme (such bright, cheery overlords, such big wallies for the lords we’re meant to defeat!), in which you go through a procedurally generated area, fighting tower defence battles, meeting events, buying cards (for lo, your units are cards, with a mana cost, a hand, and all that jazz), and just generally having fun and getting into trouble.
It’s a game that, I feel, respects my time, as I’ve felt previously. After all, there’s a heavy incentive to win quickly, as once that timer at the top runs down, the enemy castle will spawn much quicker, and it’ll be all that much harder to defeat them, or you could even find yourself on the losing end. So battles are quick. Maps are quick. And you breeze through, thinking on your feet, and, essentially, having fun.
Like, I’m not a tower defence guy. And I’m having fun. It’s easily understandable, tooltips are solid, the units are fun and interesting, and, pretty quickly, you’ll find yourself with three different commanders to play with, each with their own fun and interesting units. Aesthetically, it’s on point, some really cool pixel/voxel art, the maps are more clear than last time I played, the menus were good the first time round…
I can’t find fault with necronator, beyond the mild annoyance of “I can’t drag my card anywhere on screen to summon units, only the dungeon heart? Booooo…”
Have fun with three undead cuties on a fun murderous rampage. I’d recommend that, and, it’s a good introduction game to tower defence games. Not a bad combo, I’d say!
The Mad Welshman approves of women getting into evil overlording. Hopefully, with enough entering the industry, we can change the term, give it some extra kick. The committee’s still deciding on a good name, though, input welcomed!