Source: Review Copy Price: £11.39 Where To Get It: Steam
Ah, Bomberman. A game which has inspired many clones, over the years. Heck, I was tempted to do a Going Back on Super Bomberman R, and am still tempted. So, Bombing Quest… An overworld RPG Bomberman style game, in which you are on a grid with bombable obstacles, unbombable ones, and monsters, where all but the most basic have some sort of surprise, be it charging, invincible rolling, leaping over bombs and blocks… It’s fun stuff, and mechanically, I’m liking what Bombing Quest is doing with the formula.
Aesthetically, though… Well, the first area is, visually speaking, very dull. It’s clearish, but… Well, dull. Not a lot of colour variation, and so I found myself less enthusiastic about blowing the hell out of the various gribbleys. And the second area, alas, isn’t much better.
The gameplay is alright. There’s a somewhat interesting cap on items, based on finding certain collectibles (and somewhere you can equip the gadgets that improve your stats), there are variations on basic levels past the first area (for example, a smaller arena where the enemies are, but a series of traps beforehand.)
But the biggest problem with it right now is the somewhat dull nature aesthetically. Colour and value differentiation is low, so the health bar sometimes gets drowned out by the background (and, let’s face it, red/grey isn’t great when it comes to dingy lighting or backgrounds), the character portrait models are… Well, they exist… And the music, similarly, doesn’t really grab, or even get the pulse flowing.
Bombing Quest still has a ways to go. It’s only at 0.4.3 at the time of writing. But I’m not terribly enthusiastic about this one, and a big part about it is the very workmanlike visuals, with their poor colour/value differentiation (not great for colourblind folks.) But mechanically, it works, with the usual disclaimer for games like this that you will get irritated when enemies avoid your bombs. Ohhh boy, you will.
The Mad Welshman doesn’t have a whole lot else to say, honestly. That’s why it’s short.
Source: Review Copy Price: £14.99 (£7.19 for Soundtrack) Where To Get It: Steam
Ah, adding roguelike elements to things. We’ve seen it a lot, in recent years. We’ve even seen games that attempt to mix the Battle Network style of play, in which a field of tiles is split in two, and you dodge round them, using spells, cards, chips, whatever you wish to call them, to make attacks… Look… Move round field. Dodge attacks. Hit people with things, in the way the cards you got say. Rinse. Repeat.
So, most of this review is gameplay, because the story? Well, it’s
post apocalyptic, there are beasties, there’s an end goal (Eden), and
there are bosses (Who are also playable characters.) The aesthetic
is, for the most part, fine, with a UX that only takes a little bit
of getting used to (Although… Points docked for no colourblind
mode, and some colourblindness problems, like the four tile marker,
and broken tiles not being quite clear enough), with some nice music
But the majority is gameplay, and the gameplay definitely has some
interesting elements. Like its inspiration, it is, essentially, a
deckbuilder, but stays real-time by shuffling your deck, rather than
having you pick cards from it, randomly putting them into one of two
slots, while you have a “weapon” for your character you can fall
back on (or, in the case of Saffron, the starting character, hold the
button down while you’re doing everything else.) Not all the weapons
are weapons, and the cards you can pick for your deck, the artefacts,
remain the same for all characters.
And there is the nice touch that you can focus on certain
builds, letting the RNG prioritise certain card types over others.
Maybe you like Anima, the elemental cannon type. Maybe you prefer
Trinity, where the best things come in threes, or, more
specifically… Third time lucky. Or maybe you want something like
Flow, where the flow is built up and spent, powerful so long as you
keep the flow flowing. I like this, it allows you to build the
sort of deck you want, even if it may be luck to get it going.
Shops are expensive, it’s true, and the unlocks between runs are,
essentially, random, but they happen, and the fights are
reasonable, so all is well in singleplayer.
Co-Op, on the other hand, is… Less well implemented. There is
shared health, but this comes at the cost of both players having to
play the same character, where… Not all of the palette changes are
properly distinguishable from each other. It is also only local for
both Co-Op and PVP (the latter of which I didn’t try, it must be
mentioned.) There have been attempts to balance the co-op elements,
with quicker mana regeneration, but, on the whole, my friend and I
were not impressed. If you are trying this through Remote Play, be
aware that yes, you’re probably going to have latency. Damn you,
Overall, though, I like One Step From Eden. It has flaws. It has boss fights I don’t like (Violette’s can be quite painful if you don’t realise those notes are for stepping on, to prep you for her largely unavoidable attack.) And, as mentioned, co-op’s not so hot. But it has more going for it than against it, and so, I would recommend this.
The Mad Welshman appreciates not having to play an alphabet soup deck. And no, this won’t make sense to many. But he is still glad.
Source: Review Copy Price: £3.99 Where To Get It: Steam
Two Picross games on my docket, and this one has one of my favourite creatures in fantasy, the humble goblin? Well, sign me u- Steampunk lick of paint you say? Jigsaws with somewhat finicky “You’ve placed this!” detection, you say? Character designs that are expressive, but not used outside the cutscenes and that expressiveness isn’t… Really used?
Eh, honestly, most of those are just gripes, to be honest. It
is Picross, the puzzles remain cool, the timers for the puzzles are
alright, and not exactly a worry unless you’re into challenging
yourself to gold every level. Hell, it even has the nice feature of
locking you into a row or column when you’re placing tiles or
crosses, showing you a count of your tiles from the ones you’ve
selected, and pretty easy cancellation if you’ve suddenly realised
“Damn, if I let go of the left/right mouse button now, I’m going to
make a fuckup.” Just click the opposite mouse button while you’re
still holding, and then you can let go. Nice!
There’s also voice acting in the game, and it’s okay, although
I’m sure it’ll grate to some. And then… Story. Well, it’s there,
alright. A NASA ship or satellite of some description crashes onto
the world, three goblins come across it, and they decide not to tell
anyone they’re trying to decipher the messages and what it is. That’s
Now, since it is basically Picross, and Picross is, generally speaking, Good, any gripes? Well, yes. Whether the starting tile you want is highlighted or not is a bit of a coin toss, leading to either clicking the tile in mild annoyance, or trying again, wasting a little time either way. And I’m not really sold on the cutscene paintings. Other than that, though, the jigsaws don’t really detract from the experience, and can be skipped, so in the end, it comes up as an alright Picross game, and that’s… Alright! I do kind of wish the goblin designs were better, and they’d have a bit of screentime beyond cutscenes and the occasional voice clip congratulating you for finishing a row (yes, they autocomplete the crossed-out tiles once you’ve correctly solved, saving you a little time), but… Yeah, it’s a decent game.
The Mad Welshman didn’t screenshot the jigsaws, because… Well, most people know what a jigsaw is, and a picture wouldn’t show the common problem of finicky placement hitboxes.
Source: Cashmoneys Price: £10.29 (Artbook £3.99, Soundtrack £7.19) Where To Get It: Steam, Itch.IO
It is 2020. Elves, dwarves, orcs, fairies, demons… They all live in this alternate world… And they all have everyday lives. And they’ve got the same happinesses (mostly), the same drama (mostly), and the same problems (sorta mostly) as we do. And Coffee Talk, through the medium of a late night coffee shop, explores those lives in its fictional setting.
I’m loving some of the little things. The joking between a vampire
and a werewolf about werewolves using BDSM as a method for calming
themselves during a fury (myth, in the setting. Some werewolves can
calm themselves with sex, but for obvious risk reasons, they stick to
vanilla.) The little things that remain the same, like people who’ve
been there before giving advice to those going through troubles
(Yeah, really is best not to leave issues unresolved, because yeah,
they fester. Ain’t good for anyone. Wise advice, cop in a computer
And, here’s the thing: Even though there’s wider story, a wider world
out there, it’s these little stories, these slices of people’s lives,
that are important. And I can only talk about so many, not only for
space reasons, but spoiler reasons too. But I do want to mention that
there’s one point that directly engages with the concept of fantasy
allegories of racism, with a writer in this world pointing out that
yes, there are different species to be racist about, but that
wouldn’t mean that racism as a concept wouldn’t exist if there are
only humans. And, of course, we know it to be true.
Now, mechanically, it’s very simple: Brew the drinks the customers
want, or brew specific ones. There’s a pretty robust save function,
and while, unfortunately, there isn’t a multiple save system, you can
go back to previous days, and there are three profiles to play
with… And the writing’s good enough that I’m reasonably sure you’ll
have an okay time playing through. But also, as a free hint,
be aware that the order of the ingredients is as important as
the type of the ingredients. I learned that the hard way, and several
saves and loads, my first time playing. I wanted to make sure I got a
specific drink right, you see. And that, basically, is the mechanics:
Make the kind of drinks you’d make in a coffee shop, what the
customers want, and the story will progress. Make the wrong kinds of
drinks, and you may just find other things, maybe good, maybe bad,
But of course, a visual novel, for that’s basically what it is,
stands on its writing (It’s good, if you hadn’t got that from my two
paragraphs of gushing), and its aesthetics. And its aesthetics, the
pixel art of the various characters, their designs, the simple and
clear UX (the menu is a little small, but not tiny. Just a
little small), and the chill beats really sell the atmosphere
of a warm, welcoming place where people can talk to the mysterious
barista, each other, and be… Be themselves.
I like Coffee Talk. And I’d recommend it. There’s not really anything more to say.
Except that no, I will never screenshot my attempts at latte art.
Source: Review Copy Price: £32.99 for the base game, £9.17 total for the soundtrack and “time-savers” Where To Get It: Steam
Azur Lane is one hell of a phenomenon. It was, originally a mobile shmup gacha type deal that persists to this day. Gacha, by the way, means random drops, like the toy ball machines you sometimes see in cinemas and arcades, which are called Gacha Machines.
But over the years, it’s gotten an anime, several manga, a fan following that make doujin and headcanon, expanding on the world… And the developers, basing their shipgirls, or kansen (women who’ve been given magical girl powers from rebuilt battleships to fight an alien threat called the Sirens… Or to use that alien threat’s technology to be evil) on the battles and cruisers, destroyers, battleships and carriers of World War 2, even down to a plotline in the main game that closely matches that of World War 2.
It’s interesting stuff, and, prior to the release of this game, a
friend encouraged me to try out the original. So here I am, reviewing
a 3D, third person character shmup with players switching between
shipgirls of various abilities to achieve three goals for S rank: All
player ships survive. Bosses killed. And to do that in 2 minutes or
And it’s honestly pretty nice! Very talky, and with a game loop
that’s a somewhat acquired taste, but the writing is good, and each
character shows their development, from Shimakaze, the protagonist of
story mode, a cute, but naïve shipgirl just coming into her own, to
Amagi, the sadistic, dominant, and extremely thirsty cruiser who was
the villain of the early arc of Azur Lane, along with her adoptive
“sister”, Kaga, who is a much more quiet character who merely
appreciates the art of battle… And is a grumpy dork. There’s even a
particularly humorous section in Chapter 4 of the game, where one of
the bigger bads, the Siren “Purifier”, attempts to fight the main
character, with a big, dramatic build up… And then all of that, the
dramatic music, the stormy clouds, the evil laughter and dramatic
monologue… All fall down as she’s told Shimakaze is in the middle
of a friendly match with another character.
“…What.” I laughed, just as I laughed at several moments up
Mechanically, while the main loop of “Sit through a ton of events,
have some two to five minute battles, maybe grind some earlier
battles to make sure you S rank, collect loot boxes, then do it some
more” may turn folks off, the battles themselves do have their
interesting parts. As with the original mobile game, there are up to
three frontliners, and three support ships, which provide abilities,
covering fire, that sort of thing. But you can switch between the
characters, and when you do… The character you were using heals, a
subtle encouragement to switch characters to use their special
abilities (such as Shimakaze’s speed boost), their lock on attacks,
and their own weaponry, with strengths and weaknesses. My one crit so
far is that while moving forward to the next objective is clearly
marked with a green arrow, it could sometimes be simpler, mission
wise, if the enemies just… Spawned in, rather than wasting time.
Maybe a personal preference thing.
Meanwhile, the keyboard is not recommended for this one, as there are
directional controls, camera controls, two attacks, two specials, a
dodge… That’s tough to keybind well, and I had trouble before I
went to controller to carry on playing.
Aesthetically, Azur Lane in general has been known for its music, and
it’s no different here, with some good tunage, solid sound and voice
work, and the visual novel/overworld map elements are well done. The
UX is pretty clear, and, while the 3D isn’t top notch, it’s still
pretty good, and I do like the water, unrealistic though it may be. I
dunno, maybe it’s because it adds a touch of stylisation.
So, overall, I enjoy Azur Lane: Crosswave. It’s definitely one fans of the original should check out, and, if you like these sorts of genres, there’s going to be an element of the game, at least, that will be enjoyable to you. It knows what niche it’s aiming for, and it lands it, and… Well, I appreciate a well written game!
The Mad Welshman curses the day his friend got him to Azur Lane. It’s killed his productivity…