Foreclosed (Review)

Source: Review Copy
Price: £13.49
Where To Get It: Steam

Cyberpunk. Proper cyberpunk, not neo-futurism or cyber SF. Comic book aesthetic. Stealth, gunplay, hacking… You’d think this was right up my street.

But, in short, it’s not. I quite Foreclosed pretty early, and I’m not ashamed to say that. Because, on several levels, it just. Didn’t. Work for me. We’ll get into it after I explain what the game is.

Mmmm… A stealth section where I don’t have quite as much info as I’d like. Well, the important stuff is there, at least.

So, a third person (occasionally switching to first person, more on that in a bit) shooter with levelling, stealth kills, stealth, low health (at least to start), and “hit arrows in the right order” based hacking minigames. Oh, and the stealth kill is a QTE, button mashing 2. That’s your basics, right there. So… Let’s get into the few parts it got right, and then… The bits it got wrong.

In terms of general aesthetics, the music was good, tense stuff, chilling out during the quiet moments, the comic book aesthetic was indeed like some gritty inks I’ve seen in the past with colour, the voice acting (what I heard of it, anyway), was good, the comic booky bits looked good, and…

He’s a big feller.

That’s pretty much it. That’s… Pretty much it. Our protagonist takes up a lot of screen real estate, switches between walking and running… Well, seemingly in predetermined areas that nonetheless feel random, it switched to full screen mode whenever I came back to the main menu, keys don’t appear to be rebindable, default mouselook is fast, the first person camera has headbob you can’t turn off (and has a disorienting switch), the third person can sometimes be fucky, and there are segments where you’re forced into a different third person perspective than “behind the protagonist” (thankfully with absolute movement controls, so left is still left, right still right, and so on.)

And this was just what I saw in the first… checks… Half hour. I died precisely twice, once in the first stealth section (that one was most definitely my fault), and once in the first proper shooting segment (that… The protagonist is pretty squishy, the cover’s not great…)

Dead. And again. And again…

I’d have maybe switched to a lower difficulty (yes, there is a lower difficulty), but when I see this many problems this early on? Foreclosed was definitely not for me. I’m honestly glad I found this out early, even considering this is a review copy.

It’s a shame, really. There’s enough of interest here that if these problems were fixed, maybe it would be a fun, interesting romp, much like one of its main inspirations, XIII. But alas, it was not to be.

The Mad Welshman sighed as he looked at the television screen sky, and puffed on his neon vape. Time to get back to the grind…

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Tetrix (Review)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £5.19
Where To Get It: Steam

Wow, I haven’t seen this since FRAC, way back in the day… Legally distinct falling tetromino (well, not always) game, but in 3D, with a top down perspective, good luuuuuck!

No, really, if you get this I hope you have fun with it, because when I played this sort of game way back in the day, it was fun. Y’see, you can rotate in three dimensions, so more options, more thought, and, at high levels, more panic. The good stuff!

Let’s face it, do you need any other screenshots?

And, aesthetically, it’s alright! Nice vapourwave tunes, I’m good with those, a few UX themes to pick from, good colour differentiation, clear UX, and block types, yes! Although, sadly, none of the fun bullshittery of ye days of yore, like 4x4x6 blocks, or the dread CORNER T-BLOCK (no, really.)

My only problems with the game? Well… A few typos. Free Mode, Campaign mode. That’s… About it. It even starts nice and slow, adjusts the speed you start at in free mode, and, while it takes some getting used to (Check your controls for what’s X, Y, and Z rotation), once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty fun to play if you like Ye Olde Block Fallinge Game.

I do still wish it had some sillier blocks though, that was half the fun of some of the older varieties of this concept. Ah well. Another solid game, another game simple enough to understand and talk about that this entire sentence is simply padding. Give it a go if you like that one game which shares five letters with this one. You know the one.

The Mad Welshman loves spatial puzzles. Like where the hell to fit this book he just got. No, he doesn’t have a bibliophilia problem, why would you possibly ask that?!?

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Cloud Gardens (Review)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £13.99
Where To Get It: Steam

Ha. The most chill post apocalyptic game has released, and I have… Mixed feelings. Not about the game, but more… Well, it suddenly feels a bit raw, a game about nature claiming our buildings, the last evidence humans were there, growing over eerily familiar environments with the power of the stuff that was put down there, making them unrecognisable…

Just, y’know, sitting here, feeding nature the remnants of our civilisation, no big…

The game, I only really have a few minor problems with. Mostly to do with tooltipping. I’m sorry, what did this moss ball do again? Why would I bother with grass? I’d like not to have a restart finding out. We’ll get to the other two bitches in time.

In any case, the game is a very simple one. In the middle of nowhere, there is an isolated segment of civilisation, be it a dump, an apartment, a toll gate, or a highway. You’re given at least one seed to start off your quest, each with their own growth patterns. For example, got a big gap between the thing and the ground? The first seed you’re ever given does that well. But it doesn’t do well with flat surfaces, that’s what vines are for (and, to a lesser extent, moss.)

See, after we’re gone, it’ll be nice and pretty, look at this picturesque scene!

Once you’ve done that, you’re given items of civilisation. They’ve got a radius, and within that radius, things will grow around where you placed that item. And your seeds will grow, and sprout seeds of their own, which you use to cover more, place more items, so on so forth, until a certain percentage of growth is completed. And heck, if you have items left, and seed power left (what, you thought they’d be mean enough to stick you to just one seed type in a mission beyond the tutorials?), then you can add more before going to the next level, just to make it a little more aesthetic. I often do.

Entirely mouse driven, the loop is simple, the UX is minimalist, yet stylish, and the low poly landscapes, isolated in cloud (geddit, you’re making- Oh, never mind) appeal to me greatly. Less appealing is how it’s sometimes hard to see planters (look for green corners on objects. Not sure if there’s a colourblindness issue there, best to check with a screenshot), and how certain objects, like bicycles, are both inherently unstable and useful. Nothing quite frustrates like placing a bike in the middle of some lush foliage to get easy seeds, only for it to fall over the exact plants you wanted to harvest, lowering your percentage and fucking you out of the seeds.

I blame Ceres Fauna.

But, overall, it’s a good, chill game. Goodness me, the post-apocalypse is a relaxing place without…

Ah. Yeah. Anyway, give it a go if you like puzzle games.

The Mad Welshman loves nature. No, really, he does! It’s full of things that are both crunchy and juicy when put over a flame of some kind!

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Sunblaze (Review)

Source: Review Copy
Price: £12.39
Where to Get It: Steam

I’ll freely admit, hearing a combo of “Super Meat Boy” and “Celeste” didn’t exactly inspire confidence. For all that they share some things in common, they’re different enough that a mismash of the two would be painful.

But it was, for the most part, correct. Death is common. There is an optimal path through. Anything less than “pretty optimal” to “Optimal as fuck” means death. And, after about 19 levels, I very quickly realised this wasn’t for me.

Pictured: I got a little further, but my imminent demise here is inevitable, even if, looking at it, I see what to do.

Not because it isn’t good. It’s pretty responsive, you know exactly what tools you have in this twitchy puzzle platformer: A double jump and a dash. Maybe you get more tools later, maybe not. And you very quickly learn what things do, the game mostly teaching you ahead of time, such as falling blocks. Oh boy, there’s a lot of falling blocks. And the sprite art is great, and the chiptunes okay, the menu accessible, and options to turn off flashes, screenshake, and gltiching effects. I mean, they should be off by default, but now you know the option’s there.

No, it’s because I’m not great at this game. There’s a lot of levels in the first chapter, and, as mentioned, I got to 19 (pictured) before the momentum completely halted. Because it’s pretty difficult in terms of jumps and dashes almost from the get go. Now, what isn’t pictured is the spring platform that fell down. I know, theoretically, what I have to do: Jump off the ledge, dash to the block, then jump the fuck out before it crushes me under the spikes it crushes, high jump on the spring, dash back, double jump.

Ummmm… SOD.

I just can’t do it, because the timing’s pretty damn tight. The timing’s been pretty tight since about five levels before this.Not super tight, but tight enough that I bit 28 of those 36 deaths in the levels prior.

So yes, I like the aesthetic. I like the characters, especially the very dadly professordad. I like that it’s clear and simple, and I like its accessibility.

It’s just that it’s clearly laser focused on folks who say “Omigod, that game was hard as balls, but I finished it, got all the data cubes for the hard modes, and beat those, and I feel so good!”

And I am not one of those folks.

The Mad Welshman SETS deathtraps, he doesn’t try to escape them!

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The Henry Stickmin Collection (Going Back)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £11.39
Where To Get It: Steam

Try this one WEIRD game! Completionists will HATE it!

I mean, that’s a really good capsule summary. It’s weird (unsurprising, considering it’s a meme ridden ex-Newgrounds series, a notable time for experimentation in Flash games, not always to the better, but enjoyably so, in this case), and yes, as a completionist, I can say that 100 percenting this game is a bastard.

If you’re confused, this is an MLG replay of failing utterly by 360 no-scoping your friend there. SO PRO, MUCH 1337. Oh, and content warning flashing imagery for that.

Okay, let’s get into it. Henry Stickmin (not to be confused with Henry Stickman) is a not-great human, er… Stickman. And with him, you go on a choose your own adventure style game (but with some quick time events) where failing still provides entertainment. There are six episodes, one of which requires you to have completed all the endings of the previous two to complete (part one of “Completionists will hate this.”) Choose your method of getting past the obstacle, watch what happens, likely retry, rinse, repeat. As noted, there are quick time events (some of which are brutal, so folks not okay with twitchy games, note well), and… Collectibles.

Oh boy, the collectibles. So, normally, I would be fine with collectathons. Love ’em. But Henry Stickmin wants to make it as hard for you as possible. There are people you have to click within about half a second, or multiple people you have to click within a few seconds, as many as 15. Some of whom are small. The same with the paintings in Stealing the Diamond. Oh, and the Among Us collectibles. And that one achievement where you have to click Gary Mann 5 times, or click where Henry’s going to land correctly in three different scenes…

STANDO!

Yup. I hate the completionist aspect of this one. I’m also less than fond of it using infamous meme “Shoop Da Whoop” (A blackface meme), even considering that it was popular back in the day. Gollywog dolls were too, and I sure as hell wouldn’t defend them. But overall, it picks some solid ones, fun references to Avatar, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Predator, Looney Tunes, Zelda, Pokemon, Phoenix Wright… I could go on for a fair while, but its silly humour lands more often than it misses. Or maybe I’m just an old.

Aesthetically, well, it’s very clear. Choices are nice and big, the text is clear… The music is a bit of a mixed bag, but overall, it works.

Now, when it comes to the audience? I’ll freely admit, the appeal is somewhat niche. Masochistic completionists, I guess, old folks like me who get the memes, Newgrounds Nostalgics… Seriously, I don’t really know. All I know is I found it a generally alright experience, except for the completionist stuff, which I hated.

No, The Mad Welshman has not 100%ed this game. Don’t bug him about it.

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