Salad Fields (Review)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £11.39 (£3.99 soundtrack)
Where to Get It: Steam

“It’s a leather mouse recipe… It was handed down to me by my leather daddy.”

I see what you did there, Salad Fields, and I thoroughly approve.

Heh… Skulls are cool…

So yes, Salad Fields, a block pushing puzzle game with a surreal, wildly contrasting set of aesthetics, dialogue and characters who toe the line between “Barely subtextually queer” and “Holy shit”, is… A game. Bear with me, I’m still blinking and staring into space contemplatively. Surreal queer retropunk games, relatively rare as they are, can do that to you.

Apart from the block pushing puzzles’ mechanics, which are pretty understandable (if having quite the variable difficulty curve), it’s… Well, I’ve described it above, but there’s a lot to potentially unpack. Like the depressed snake whose birthday apparently sucks. Or the bird who’s into self bondage, teleporting elsewhere if they get unbound to do it again.

God, saaaaaaame…

Okay, maybe there’s not a lot to unpack there. They like tying themselves up. But there’s others, like the computer who’s terrified of Y2K… Look, it’s got characters, and they’re characterful, even if they’re surreal at times. The contrasting aesthetic elements fit with this strange, broken world, in need of a whole load of vegetables and a helping, comforting hand from your furry protagonist.

Well, except the magical boyfriends, they seem to be alright (Indeed, between the first chapter and the second, they talk about how well you’re doing, and chat about thrifting and the other’s cool t-shirt.) But there is, for example, the aforementioned computer, or an ampersand who never wanted to be fancy, but was pressured into it. There’s characters who are run down, depressed, or don’t have the spoons to deal with you right now, and… Well, you don’t see that too often, it must be said.

I could have put another puzzle here, for you to pre-emptively figure out or something. But nah, magical furry boyfriend time.

There’s some fine music, the sounds aren’t bad, and the aesthetics of each area are unique and interesting, although your mileage will vary depending on how you like Windows 95 era 3D and sprites. My only real crit is that movement is smooth enough that holding down a movement button for fiddlier stuff is a really bad idea, as you may have to restart from pushing something a space… Too far. Edging against boundaries you already know about sorta thing.

Anyway, I like it, queerphobic people will probably be, at best, confused, and queer folks into puzzles might find a character who they react to with “God, saaaaaame…” And… Well, I’m going to continue staring into space and blinking.

I like how this game is simultaneously “Big mood”, “ARGH”, and “wat.” Nothing pithy here, just an extra observation.

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Meteorfall: Krumit’s Tale (Review)

Source: Review Copy
Price: £11.39 (£13.48 for game and soundtrack, £2.09 for soundtrack)
Where To Get It: Steam

Other Reviews: Early Access 2, Early Access 1

Glowmancers… Terrible to be in a relationship with, because they’re self destructive, toxic, and quite happy to take you down with them.

Oh, and they’re the same as enemies too.


Yes, Meteorfall: Krumit’s Tale has left Early Access, and do you know what? Still humorous, still a good cartoony aesthetic, still a solid level of simplicity leading to all sorts of strategic fun. For those not caught up, it’s a sort of deckbuilding roguelike, in that you attain tiles, which can be weapons, abilities, etcetera, they fall onto the board in a random manner, and… Well, there, the similarities mostly end, because you still have to pay to put said tiles in your hand (most of the time), and, if you want good money, you want to be thrifty about which ones you use to defeat all the enemies that have also been shuffled into the deck, for lo, that is the goal: Kill ’em all before they kill you.

Rose actually looks less scary as the Evil Queen.

But what really makes it, for me, isn’t the strategy arising from dealing with the hand you’re dealt, it’s the characters. Not just the main characters, who are a right old band of murderous misfits (from Bruno the Warrior, to Rose, who is simultaneously a pure priestess (ha) and an evil queen, with part of her abilities being able to switch between the two. I talked about an enemy example right at the top, the Glowmancer, a boss of the game, and oh boy, she’s nasty. Heavy damage, but damages herself in the process, so you want to go in with things that stop her from damaging you (Damaging herself is less of an issue, that helps.)

The aesthetic and snarky humour basically supports this weird and wonderful world, where barbarian bikers brawl in belligerent bars, golems made of nuclear waste slop their way about, and killing buckethead goblinoids makes you feel less intelligent, thinking everything costs more than it does… What toll does the war on goblinoids take, mmm, mmm?

Look, it’s a good map, alright?

So yes… It’s a solid game. It has amusing humour, it has a good aesthetic, and characterful depictions. It has an oddball world. And it has an interesting take on the ol’ deckbuilding roguelike type experience, even if, like many of them, earlier areas become sort of rote after a while. Worth a go!

The Mad Welshman idly wonders what’s next for the procgen tile/card/dice based genre. Perhaps roguelike Shogi?

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Puzzle Puppers (Going Back)

Source: Bundle
Price: £3.99
Where To Get It: Steam Itch.IO

I must admit, when looking through my current collection of “Puzzle Snake”, I had a difficult choice. 3D? Mmmm, got its issues. Top-down? Mmm, works, but lacks that certain something.

Cute brightly coloured doggos!

Doggo snake puzzle? With cheery barks, nomming noises as they reach their bowl, cheery music, and bright colours? YES. This is it. And so, here we are, with Puzzle Puppers. Where for good results, the pups must get to their bowls, made difficult by rushing water, paired tunnels, and, of course, each other. Click a dog, click somewhere for them to stretch to (for lo, they are stretchy doggos), and test things out until you’ve got the cute little pups to their bowls.

And, for the best results, which unlock extra levels? Get all the meat in the level too. Another tight puzzle game, with self contained levels, and a single best solution for each. It’s aesthetically pretty nice, with some relaxing music, and… Ah. Yes, two of the pups can easily be confused, the yellow and the orange one. Maybe if the orange one were a little darker? Anyway, the sounds are also cute, so, for the most part, it’s got aesthetics going for it.

Cute stretchy brightly coloured doggos!

Apart from that, though, there’s… Not a whole lot to say. It tutorialises well, it’s cute and relaxing, and my only real gripe, apart from the potential colourblindness issue, is that it puts you back at the start of the level selection when you go back to said level selection. Which is a niggle.

A good puzzle game, with cute, brightly coloured doggos… It’s a pretty easy recommendation. When dogs are still cute when they’re stretchy, and act cute as their little tails wag and they pant happily, occasionally barking, it tends to relieve the stress of a puzzle such as this pretty easily. For puzzle fans, this one’s a good choice.

I spent just over 300 words saying why this is good instead of just pointing and saying “Doggos. Puzzle. Cute stretchy doggos.”

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Golf Peaks (Going Back)

Source: Bundle
Price: £3.99
Where To Get It: Steam Itch.IO

I must admit, I don’t really get Golf. Mini-golf? Sure. But there, the obstacles are clear, hilarity results from missing, as opposed to a grumbling hike to wherever the hell the ball went (If you even know where), carrying a big trolley of iron tools around.

Each map is small. But that doesn’t mean you’re not going to be scratching your head.

No, I just don’t get it. But I do get a puzzle game around the hazards of golf, and I understand logic problems involving set moves that you have to do in the right order. Those, I understand. And so… I understand Golf Peaks. Because that’s exactly what you’re working with. A set number of cards, in which you can putt the ball a certain distance, drive the ball a certain distance (that’s “make it jump up/over things”), or do both, the driving part generally being first. From this set of actions you’re given, you have to get to the hole. Run out of actions, whoops, start over.

See? That’s pretty understandable. And equally understandable, because the levels demonstrate what the new terrain feature does, are the obstacles. Sand traps. Water. Mud, which acts a lot like water. Springboards.

Just one lone springboard, huh? And yet, I get the feeling somehow it’s central to the puzzle…

Wait, springboards? Well, uhhh… Yes. Springboards. It’s pretty devious, because, for each level, there is generally one correct solution. And, like any good puzzle game, you’ll figuratively tear your hair out a bit, before that wonderful “Aaaaaah!” moment of realisation. Okay, I messed up here, but I got most of it right. I just needed to use that card last!

So it’s a good puzzle game, tight, single solution puzzles. Is it fun? Yes. Does it have a good, clear aesthetic? Yes. Every tile is clearly noted for what it is, the cards leave no doubt as to their function, even without some gentle tutorialising, and the music is calm and relaxing. Which is exactly what you want for this sort of thing.

So yes, overall, this comes recommended for puzzle fans.

Does… Anybody really get Golf?

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My Hidden Things (Review)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £6.19 (£2.09 for soundtrack)
Where to Get It: Steam

Dreams can be powerful things. Many believe they can tell us about a person. Their hopes, their fears… But the meaning is nearly always hidden, sometimes just by being personal, sometimes by being heavily symbolic. And, although it’s not always coherent… They can tell a story.

And that symbolism, finding it within a chaotic landscape, is what My Hidden Things is about. As well as a number of other subjects, like grief, finding yourself, dementia… All in a hidden object game where the objective is to make the objects from other ones, based on silhouettes. Not that you always see what you’re meant to make in the later levels, but… That’s your basics.

A good start. And a teddy bear of a loving dad. <3

A black and white art style ensures most elements are easily visible, and colourblind friendly, although when it ends up black on black or white on white, it… Is annoying at best. And that does happen, occasionally. But mostly, it’s accessible, with minimalist music that nonetheless fits the mood. Sometimes it’s dark, sometimes it’s contemplative… But the simple stories are what got me.

Vignettes of lives, sometimes intertwining, and… One in particular being dark, the aforementioned dementia vignette, where you can see what they’re having trouble seeing, and understand where it’s going… Until Xary, your guide through these dreams, tells you… There’s nothing more you can do here.

Yeah, it’s… This particular story was hard on me.

I looked and felt a bit grim after that one… But I went the full rollercoaster with another, earlier one, where a child tries to come to terms with her dad being ill, and… Well, it has its rough spots, but the feelings aren’t all negative. Indeed, there’s most usually a mix of emotions in each little vignette.

This is a short game, but it knows what it’s aiming for, and I appreciate that. It wants to tell those stories, for you to see the symbolism, both in the objects you’re making (or what they turn into), and the rest of it. I would recommend this one to hidden object fans who want something a little different.

Generally speaking, I take a bundle of words and another bundle of words, and mash bits of them together to create a review. So I’m experienced in this sort of thing.

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