Record of Lodoss War: Deedlit In Wonder Labyrinth (Review)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £15.49 (OST £5.79)
Where To Get It: Steam
Previous Reviews: Early Access

So… Lodoss War. It’s a big, long (and cool) multimedia franchise, which is continuing to this day, with a fair few characters across the series, high drama, etcetera…

This guy is important. Except here, where he is a boss who says words.

It’s somewhat important to point this out, because one of Deedlit’s failings here is that it fails to get me interested in any of it (as opposed to the rest.) If I were just playing the game, without context, I know that Deedlit is a high elf, in love with a guy called Parn, after their many adventures together. I know there’s a dark elf in here who’s been a common foe, although I forget the name. Karla is apparently sometimes a bad person, sometimes not, but a schemer?

This… Is basically the extent of what I’d know, only some of which is dealt with in the intro, and some of which I’d have to google. Honestly, some of it I still had to google.

So, uhhh…

Why yes, these are the same screenshots. Arrow puzzles are actually kinda fun.

Mechanically, it’s a metroidvania, in which you get new weapons, abilities, and the like, and use them to get to new places, meet new monsters, and bash their faces in, occasionally fighting bosses. It’s more fun than that, but a fair few of the tools in your toolbox are given to you before you even fight the first boss: A sylph, which allows you to ignore water element attacks and float when active, a salamander, who allows you to set things on fire and blow things up (and ignore fire element attacks), and a bow, which you use to cut ropes and hit buttons, bouncing off metal walls in short, puzzle like segments.

You get more than that, of course, but these three things comprise a big chunk of the gameplay. And yet, it feels kind of empty. Part of that is aesthetic. Since the place is one big castle, there’s not a whole lot of variation. Ah yes, the bit with lava in. The bit where the pretty water effects are (honestly, hovering over the water is a joy, visually.) It’s a bit flat, even if it’s gorgeously rendered. This isn’t to take away from the rest of the aesthetics, from the clear UX, the well done pixel art, the character and enemy designs, some of which are kinda creepy. Giant centipede content warning, folks. And the music isn’t bad, if a little limited.

These guys remain utter gits.

But while, mechanically, it’s alright, and uses its element change mechanics to good effect, outside of that, there’s… Not a whole lot. It’s still a solid metroidvania, although the short playtime will turn some folks off (sod them), but… I still didn’t mesh with it, even at the end.

This just… Drained my enthusiasm, honestly. Or maybe I’m just already knackered right now.

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Journey to the Savage Planet (Review)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £24.99 (Expansion Scenario: £5.99)
Where To Get It: Steam

I just keep finding cheerily dystopian games with guitars in, don’t I? Well, this one’s particularly cheery in its corporate dystopia, and is a metroidvania style deal in which your abilities allow you to explore the world more, see interesting beasties, and get yourself wrecked by them, so it’s not like I can complain. All I can do is eat the monsters that look rich. Or, more accurately, drain their mineral contents so I can make sweet, sweet traversal items and upgrades.

MUAHAHAHAHA, SUCK IT, HELPLESS CHICKEN LIKE CREATURE!

And, just like a metroidvania, there’s a fair amount of being lost, because, apart from shortcut points, you’re basically relying on muscle memory and a few upgrades to work out what’s what, and where.

So, first things first, the humour. Oh god, the humour’s on point, and it’s clear which rich asshole(s) Kindred corp’s head are inspired by. They shall not be named, for they are also namesearching rich assholes. But it’s pretty obvious, and oh boy are they smug, clueless jerks who’d rather throw money and people at a problem than use resources efficiently.

That’s our job, apparently.

Humankind. Whether it’s possible, advisable, or even safe, we will try to [BEEEEP] it.

Aesthetically, the game is pretty clear, with a clear, unobtrusive UX, cool alien designs that make the beasties in question instantly recognisable (along with other features, equally clear), and a broken world that feels awe inspiring at times to travel in. Musically, well, it’s good, it’s frontier western guitars, and yup, dystopian future with space-trucker guitars again!

This is not a bad thing. This is, in fact, a good thing. Equally good is the world. The pufferbirds are very satisfying indeed to feed to the grinding maws, to punt, and to generally bully, the creatures are, overall, well designed, big glowy weak points and all, and they feel like they belong in this screwed up, shattered world. Which, like your journey, is one big, long WHOOPS.

But it’s an enjoyable whoops that controls well, has some good acting (and some delightfully godawful adverts), a dystopian story that nonetheless made me laugh, and an ending that I saw coming a few hundred parsecs away, but still delighted me in the details. I found some of the later stuff and some of the bosses a bit of a drag, mainly because said boss fights were multistage, but also relied on maneuverability with limited healing, but overall, I found it well paced, and likable enough that I wanted to 100% complete before hitting that lever to take me back home.

Pretty landscapes. Filled with creatures that want you dead, and you want dead too. It’s all good…

And after I do, what I’ve found will totally be used safely for the betterment of mankind. Right?

Oh. Yeah. Comedic hellscape.

WHOOPS.

This review sponsored by CAMPING CUBICLE, the portable office cube with a coffee maker in-built, so you can feel like an office drone even in the farthest reaches of space, as you should!

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Monster Sanctuary (Review)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £15.99 (£3.99 for Monster Journal, £7.49 Soundtrack)
Where To Get It: Steam

It’s unfortunate, really, that my opinion of Monster Sanctuary hasn’t really changed since I last reviewed it. So let’s kick this off with a disclaimer: This is, in fact, a well designed game, and monster battling folks and metroidvania folks should give it a go, because it mixes both well.

Ow.

It’s just that, for me, it’s still not hitting the right notes, and I can’t really understand why. Which irritates the hell out of me, because it’s a potential for constructive criticism… And also because I dislike understanding why I feel the way I do about what I do.

So yes, it is an unknown time, monsters fill the world, but monster tamers exist, and so, they effectively serve as rangers, keeping the wilds in check, while raising their monster pals. And obviously, you are one such tamer, joining the sanctuary as the latest novice in your prestigious bloodline.

It’s got the right elements, with sensible grind, monsters levelling up in your first six slots (your three battlers and your reserves), visible monsters, so that, if you know what the monster is, you can plan your formation around it, nice skill trees which balance well, a combo system that means the last monster in your battle does more damage than the one at the front…

There’s always a Goblin King… And they never look good in tights, except that one guy…

It’s got a fair few systems, yet they fit well together. It’s got nice pixel art, it’s got nice tunes, it’s got a pretty UI that’s clear, good teleport points, reasonable progression and difficulty curves, and cool monsters with their own special abilities that not only help you fight, but help you get around the world, like the yeti who can push blocks, or the phoenix (my starter) who can levitate you for a brief time.

So I think you can understand why it’s frustrating me that I can’t pin down why it isn’t gelling for me. Because it’s clearly well put together, and yet, it isn’t doing it for me.

Anyway, yes, it’s well designed, go give it a go.

Hrm and haroom…

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Rogue Legacy 2 (Early Access Review)

Source: Supporter Gift
Price: £15.49
Where to Get It: Steam

Yup. This is definitely Rogue Legacy, alright. Platforming and murdering monsters in a procedurally put together castle and environs? Check. Some useful random abilities, some assholish ones, and some funny ones like IBS? Check. Several classes, and rising costs for every improvement you make, with Death taking all, then most of your money every time you die and your successor, from a random pick of three, asks him to ferry you to the castle?

KAME… HAME… HAAAAAAAAA!

Check. Whoo, that was a lot, wasn’t it? Anyway, yes, 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.

Still, even with the game being in early access, there’s a fair few changes in this sequel, such as the introduction of an Archer class, which has the side effect of… Making mouse controls or using gamepad somewhat mandatory. Sorry, keyboard only buds, it’s one or the other. New abilities, such as one that makes you take more damage, but only have a bullet hell like central hitbox (represented by your heart), or… Sigh… Pacifist. No attacks. No ability to damage, even via your new spin kick. +75% gold, though, so if you’re really canny, you can make it work. I am not, hence the gusty sigh.

Ooookay. That… Is indeed a boss door. Jesus…

And aesthetically, the game is still clean looking as hell, but less pixelated. It’s got this cartoony vibe to it, preserving the general look, and… I like it! Musically, it remains on point, remasters and remixes of the original tunes so far, all good.

Any critiques? Well… Much the same as the first game, honestly. Some of those visual abilities really are a bit of an eyesore, early impressions make the game feel much tougher than it actually is, and, new to this one, they could do with introducing window locking of mouse, because, while using a gamepad negates this, in windowed mode, it’s very easy to click outside the window as, say, the Archer (who I actually like as a class, on par with the barbarian for “Can screw up enemies” with the addition of being ranged, while still being fragile enough to only be on par)

Ah, the spiky ball that bounces slowly around… I didn’t miss you, old nemesis…

…And then dying horribly as you try and get back to the game window. Most of the classes remain very similar, the general mechanics of “Find things in the dungeon to give you permanent buffs” and challenges are similar (again, a nice new touch is the teleporters that need to be used, themselves making for new challenge puzzles which are interesting), and so, it feels, so far, like a refinement of what’s come before.

And I do like me a refinement. So count this one as recommended, and one to watch.

The Mad Welshman is actually the 253rd Mad Welshman of the name. His full name is Jamie The Mad Welshman, of The Mad Welshman line.

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Carrion (Review)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £16.99 (£7.19 soundtrack)
Where To Get It: Steam

Ah, Hollywood Scientists… Always poking into things man was not mean to. And it’s no spoiler to say that you are the monster, that your goal is to escape in order to eat the world, and I am very down for that.

See these guys? They’re fucked.

Carrion, essentially, is a metroidvania (That sort of game where you move around a world, unlocking abilities, solving puzzles, and opening doors to progress) in which you are a wriggling, tentacular mass of teeth and animal hate, able to eat people, throw things (and people around), and later, do all sorts of nasty things to people. But that is spoilers, even if the ending…

Look, what are you going to expect when you have a potentially world eating monster, and that monster is the protagonist? You’ve got a 50/50 shot, I reckon, of being completely right. Especially if you’ve watched movies like Invasion of the Bodysnatchers or, pertinently, John Carpenter’s The Thing (the original, not the prequel.)

This guy? Not going to have a good time. In fact, they’re fucked. Although sadly inedible.

Aesthetically… Damn… The whipping, whistling noises of your tentacular body, the screams, the growls, the dark, brooding music (that spikes into sharp stings or combat music, depending)… If there was something I could point at and say “This was done most excellently, it would be the soundscape. Visually, it’s fairly clear, and you learn very quickly what items do, even if the map… Is nonexistent. The pixel characters aren’t characterful, per se, although they have differing looks… But that’s fine, because they’re prey.

Well, most of them are. Once you get into the late game, encounters become more deadly. You have more tools to deal with them, but just being a hammer made of tentacles, spikes, and death doesn’t quite cut it. You have to act smart. And the puzzles require you to use all three of your mass levels, each with differing powers available, to get through.

These folks, being unarmed, are especially fucked. But their bodies are a good backup in case you need to replenish health without saving.

It’s a pleasure then, to see mouse controls that are responsive.

As to the story, well… It’s all shown and not told, it isn’t terribly complex, but it works. People may well critique it for being short, or the lack of map confusing them… But the checkpoint saves are fair, the aesthetic overall is brutal, bloody, and brooding, and… Yeah, I do love me a game with a villain protagonist, a monster counts, it’s tightly designed, and I’d rather that over a 120 hour game, 80 (at best) of which is padding. Recommended.

Does anyone else remember how creepy the whipping, whistling noises the Thing made during the dog scene? Yeah, you probably do. It was awesome!

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