Umurangi Generation (Going Back)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £11.39 (Soundtrack £3.99, DLC £7.19 (good stuff), Soundtrack for DLC £3.99)
Where To Get It: Steam

Photography is one hell of a thing. Like all art, it can show beauty or ugliness. It creates feelings, and often informs. And so, Umurangi Generation is all about… Just that. In each area, get all 10 basic photos (and five bonus objectives), and get more tools to take more photos.

Your four friends. Remember, it doesn’t count as taking a photo of them if even one is left out. Who would leave a cute penguin friend out? Monsters, that’s who.

Seems simple, doesn’t it? Hahaha, it’s not. In many respects. Control wise, it is actually that simple. Hold up camera, take photos, get money, although you get more for photos with lots of objects in that have lots of colours. You can even fiddle with exposure, colour balance, and tint, if you think it looks cool. Take the photos you’re asked for, get to the red marker, always where you start (the yellow one is a sign for the postcard objective), hit E, you’re done. Do it in 10 minutes for extra kudos.

But it’s not that simple, for a couple of reasons. First, some of your objectives are out of the way, difficult to find, or outright hidden. Sometimes, you need a specific lens, which makes it tough to deal with. And, the further you go on, the further you realise these are, essentially, postcards from hell.

I needlessly tilted that one, but… Yeah, shit’s going to hell…

At first, it’s subtle. You can just about see a UN blockade in the first area. Then it becomes more obvious: The troops are here, and the world is somewhat fucked. And the folks high up? They don’t give a fuck. It’s a dystopian future, which you’re living through and documenting… Just like photojournalists covering some of the events of the modern day.

Some of it, yes, is fantastical, like the Squids, but it’s all couched in a sense of reality, however strange it may seem. The UN soldiers on break are lounging around, smoking. The people of the city are… People. And it’s all with a sense of its location, a Maori world, with their symbols and culture… And graffiti and snaps you need to take… That paint the whole, grim picture.

They may be chilling out now… But things are going to hell.

Climate change, war, the price of rampant capitalism… All seen through a camera lens. You’re just trying to get by, in a world getting closer to apocalypse, a world where the leaders desert their duty because they don’t see it as a serious problem… A world that can feel all too real.

It’s a solid, sometimes depressing, sometimes beautiful game. It engages with its subjects through its level design, and I’d highly recommend it. Well, except for folks for whom this will be too depressing.

The Mad Welshman admits he got too-real vibes. Yes, even during the bigger stuff.

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Cats Organised Neatly and Box Cats Puzzle (Review(s))

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: CON £1.99. Box Cats £1.69
Where To Get Them: Steam (CON) and Steam (Box Cats)

After a bit of thought, I’d decided to lump two games together for this one: Cats Organised Neatly, and Box Cat Puzzle. Mainly because the basic idea is the same: Fit cats into boxes. They’re around the same price, as well. But, while the basic concept is the same, both are subtly different experiences. Different flavours of cat herding, if you will.

Yup, those are definitely cats, they are cute, and they’re being organised neatly. The advertising standards commission is content.

Of the two, I’d say that Cats Organised Neatly is the more fleshed out game. A chill vibe, cute cats, rotation, a gallery of catte… Its puzzles, however, get nastier quickly. Box Cat Puzzle, meanwhile, is less polished. There is none of this rotation bollocks, you know where you stand with the pieces… Even if they’ve got a minimal representation until you place them.

But placing them, again, brings a different vibe. Cats Organised Neatly’s cats are cute. They are uniformly cute. They make you go d’aww regardless. The idealised form of cat, the cats cat owners see when they’re not seeing their cat be catlike in the “I own you, not the other way around” moments. While Box Cat Puzzle is very… Yup, they are definitely cats. Yes, sometimes they’re cute. But I chose the screenshot below for a reason.

I mean, let’s face it, that’s a work of god-damn art. <3

Okay, two, I just couldn’t help but appreciate the aesthetics of four cats in a circle licking their balls. This, too, is part of Cat Life. Box Cat Puzzle also has an editor, which is a nice feature.

They are similar. Not the same, each having their own flavour, little differences that make them their own works. But I chose to review them together for one simple reason…

Regardless of the fact that both are good in their way (although you’ll quickly tire of Box Cat’s music loop, so points deducted, and both have elements in their UX that are less than clear, namely the back button in Cats Organised Neatly actually being the way you get to both the menu and the puzzle select (ARGH), and the buttons that aren’t “get the pieces out of the box” in Box Cat, it’s… Kinda hard to write a lot of words around a puzzle game about putting cats in boxes. So, since I had two to hand… Why not both?

Both is good. Both are, in their own way, good. And if you like a puzzle game involving cats, well, these are both cheap options that provide some fun. And that ain’t bad.

Cats own people. Not the other way around. All cat owners know this… Well, except the ones cats have trained particularly early…

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Superliminal (Review)

Source: Review Copy
Price: £15.49 (Soundtrack £5.79)
Where To Get It: Steam

Perspective is a very funny thing. It can trick us. It can aid us, although not always in time. Looking at it differently allows us to change, or to empathise with others. But it can also damn us if we don’t change it.

How does that bear on a puzzle game in which you seem to be trapped in an Augmented Reality meant to be for your therapy? Well… Everything. Because fighting through the nightmare you find yourself in requires you to look at things a different way. Here, let me illustrate.

This was quite small before. And now it’s big. Because I decided it was big, and made it so by shifting my perspective.

Take the nearest cuboid object to you that you can lift easily. For me, it’s one of my vape juice containers. Hold it up at arms length in front of you. Looks okay, right? Now hold it in between your eyes, and, as expected, it looks bigger. Hold it end first, and, as expected, it looks longer.

So far, so expected, right? Well, the thing about Superliminal is that changing the perception of an object’s size changes its size. You have to pick something up to do it, but essentially, every puzzle is about perspective, be it looking at things from a certain angle to turn them into objects, picking something up and holding it in such a way it appears bigger to make it bigger, or smaller, understanding how perspective can trick us into thinking there’s no hole in a shadowy room, even if the room’s well lit…

From this, I conclude that the protagonist is a fan of Rage Against The Machine. What a coincidence, so am I!

Perspective. And the way the story progresses is also about perspective. Although I really can’t explain how, or why it’s connected to feelings of hopelessness, imposter syndrome, depression, anxiety… Without getting into massive spoiler territory. Hell, just saying that has spoiled something for a fair few people.

But I like it, even if some puzzles are infuriating. Apples. Ohhhh, apples have been the bane of my existence at least once. You will scream when you get one in particular. Please don’t throw things. You probably need those things you want to throw. Deep breaths… Deeeeep breaths.

Better? Good.

Because… Everything is going wrong? Okay, in the context, this is fitting to the game, but I couldn’t resist…

In any case, even though it’s a somewhat short game if you know exactly what to do, it all comes together pretty neatly in the end with an “Ah” moment (probably combined with a “You bastard” moment), its puzzles, while sometimes infuriating, are clever, and, for puzzle fans, this one comes recommended.

But that’s just my perspective. Maybe you’ll see it. Maybe you’ll have to shift your head around a bit to see it. Maybe you never will.

The Mad Welshman has to see a hero(ine)’s perspective. How else can he craft his easily escaped deathtraps so they find it easy to escape?

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What The Golf? (Review)

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.

It made me. Play. Flappy Golf. Unforgivable.

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.”

One of the really fun touches are the silly “HOLE IN ONE” type messages on completion. I love these.

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.

Ah yes, the institute of Golf Science. All sorts of strange golfing experiments, probably to work out why the hell golf is actually popular. Like, at all…

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.

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Petal Crash (Review)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £7.19
Where To Get It: Steam

Ah, I love me a good match game, even the arcadey ones I kind of suck at. And I know a good one when I see it.

Petal Crash is, indeed, a good one, although it is a little twitchy, so folks for whom that’s an accessibility problem, I apologise, story mode might not be for you.

Tut. No respecting library rules, IT’S TIME FOR A GEM-OFF!

In any case, Petal Crash’s rules are simple: You pick a block in your field to grab and throw in one of the four cardinal directions, if it hits a block of the same colour directly (next to doesn’t count!) then all blocks of the same type go boom, and push the blocks next to them outward. If they hit blocks of the same colour, bam, you have a combo going, so more points! And more blocks appear, so be careful not to let the field get filled, otherwise, you lose!

There’s a little more to it than that in story mode, which usually takes the form of tug of war (get more points than your opponent in the same timeframe to win, first to three ouchies on this count loses), but that’s the general idea. And it’s fun as hell. There’s a variety of different characters, and, honestly? I had a hard time picking between them, because they all have cute designs, and, while the story is “Ye Olde Arcade Game” simple, that of wish granting items kept by the other participants, collected via battles, amiable or otherwise (mostly amiable) to grant the true wish of the character you’ve chosen.

Awww yeah!

Beyond this, and the fact that it looks cute, and good, and its soundwork is great, there’s… Really not a lot I can say. It’s accessible, it’s fun, there’s… It’s recommended for arcade puzzler fans, and seems accessible enough that new players looking to try this sort of thing could very well have a comfy time. Give it a go.

The Mad Welshman loves hucking blocks at other blocks and watching them go boom. It’s just… Oddly satisfying.

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