GNOG (Going Back)

Source: Bundle
Price: £7.19 (With option to donate more on Itch.IO)
Where To Get It: Steam, Itch.IO

I love puzzle boxes. Hell, I enjoy puzzles overall. But I do love puzzle boxes. So, when asked “Would you enjoy puzzle boxes, but they’re a computer game?”

The answer is very obviously yes. And, after playing it, the answer is “More please!”

Don’t worry lil’ buddy, I’ll get your supplies back, thank god you still have oxygen, right?

So, GNOG, as you might have figured, is a game about puzzle boxes, those containers where the goal is to go through a series of steps that may or may not be clear, in order to open the box. That’s… Not strictly what happens here, but the goal is to open the box’s mouth, so we’ll count it as that, mmm?

And there’s a whole variety of them, such as submarines, giant frogs, a cartoonish tenement complex, all in this well put together, 3d mini-world. And there’s nearly always something moving, whether under its own power, or asking yourself “What does this [knob/button/switch/dial/OTHER] do?”

The puzzle home, splitting apart. And it’s our job to put it together again.

Aesthetically, it’s great. Bright, contrasting colours, clear differentiation, beautiful music, my only real gripes are that one puzzle in particular’s signposting is… Not great (HOM-3’s security floor), and that some of the interactions, even with mouse, are somewhat fiddly. But the storytelling through showing in each area is pleasant, from the simple “What does animal/person want, and what stops them”, to the subtle overarch of “Let’s piece together the things this boy loves in life, to reassemble the home wot we broke in the first puzzle.”, the music is fitting to each area, and fittingly uplifting as the puzzle boxes groan-sing in joy as they’re awakened, and the sound is good.

Ah, that wonderful bass fits FR-0G the best…

Essentially, if you like puzzles with cool, low-poly aesthetics, then GNOG is good. If you like puzzle boxes, GNOG is cool. And, since I like all of these things, I recommend GNOG. It’s as simple as that.

The Mad Welshman Starts singing tenor if you gently boop his nose, tickle under the ear, and headpat him. True facts!

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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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Risk of Rain 2 (Review)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £19.99 (£5.19 soundtrack)
Where To Get It: Steam

Other Reviews: Early Access 1

“WHERE’S THE FUCKING TELEPORTER?!?” I cry. I’m running for dear life, chased by 30 enemies of various types, including some very big boys indeed. The enemy level has risen to “Insane” (one step below “Impossible”), and I am hunting for a circular space with two horns, dark grey… In a multi-levelled cavern, floating islands and chains aplenty… And most of the surfaces are red.

It is world 4 out of something like 30 I’m meant to clear. Or maybe less to win the game. I don’t know, because I have real trouble finding the teleporter quickly.

Sod, sod, sod, sod, where the fuck is it?!?

Of course, part of that problem is that Risk of Rain 2 is a noisy game, visually. There are, I seem to recall, indicators of where the hell it’s meant to be… But even in levels where colourblindness isn’t an issue, there are enemies, often bright and attracting attention (not least because they’re trying to kill you.) When you have turrets, and you can’t directly see them, there are arrows to let you know where they are on the edge of the screen. Things are going boom, things are going ratatat-tat, things are going zap… And, often, they are coming from all directions. There are sparkly glowies that roughly signify where it is, but… Look to the aforementioned visual noise.

A similar thing happened in Risk of Rain, the first one. But there, you didn’t have to worry about the teleporter blending into the background. Its big horns were harder to miss.

Ah yes, this big ol’ lad… With the laser that’s nigh impossible to avoid.

Does it, apart from that, feel alright? Well, I’ve already mentioned how noisy it is visually, but its UX is relatively unobtrusive… With the glaring exception of getting an achievement, which covers said UX in a big, attention grabbing “YOU GOT THIS.” I would say “at the worst times”, but there isn’t a good time to get distracted. Still, you don’t need to worry about much of it, so that, at least, is okay.

Sounds are good. What characters I’ve unlocked are interesting to play, each with their own loadouts of skills. And I definitely cannot say the bosses and enemies aren’t interesting, because they are, even if, like its predecessor, the AI is essentially “Hyper-aggressive, all the time.”

You knew there had to be one death screenshot, right? Wouldn’t be representative otherwise.

The thing is, for all that I’m told it gets easier, when a core part of progressing is so damn frustrating to me, all the interesting enemies, good sounds, and progress based gameplay means jack and shit. I want to fight those bosses. I want to find those teleporters. I want to see those characters.

If you like a hard, twitchy challenge, even on the easiest difficulty, then yes, Risk of Rain 2 is for you. If you do not, this will only frustrate the hell out of you, as it has me.

After a discussion with friends, The Mad Welshman has deduced that we would all die if Isekai’d. Especially here.

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Beyond A Steel Sky (Review)

Source: Review Copy
Price: £29.99
Where to Get It: Steam

Beneath A Steel Sky was an interesting game. A tale of dystopia, of consumerism and control gone rampant. And the main character, Foster, and his good pal Joey, saved Union City from the despotic reign of LINC, an AI, and left Joey as the snarky, yet benevolent ruler of Union City.

Even the holograms have to be cheery. Well, except one. I think she’s meant to be gruff to drive people away…

Seems like there’s no room for a sequel, right? But history repeats itself (somewhat), as, once again, the peace of Foster’s australian world is shattered, with the death of a friend, and the kidnapping of said friend’s child. And the trail leads him… Back to Union City. Where Joey, still revered, is missing, and where how good a citizen you are (your QDos score), and how happy you are, will determine where in society you stand.

As in the prequel, this is an adventure game collaborated on by Dave Gibbons and Revolution Software, and that collaboration shows in the world of Union City once more. Repairmen whose job isn’t to repair, but simply to note problems. Wonderful art portraying a city with, as before, a shadowy underbelly. And some very amusing voice acting. It’s the good stuff, aesthetically speaking.

Yes, not everyone is satisfied…

For those whose mileage varies on adventure game logic, there are a few puzzles that require you to see all the elements, some of which are awkwardly placed (wait, an electric fence… Behind a waterfall? Recipe for disaster, mate!), but some really stand out, such as an early one where you need to deceive an asshole from the Ministry of Comfort (Yes, they’re basically the secret police.) You need, in essence, to search for clues among a dead man’s belongings (for that’s who you’re pretending to be) to give enough information about your past life to… At least make them pretend everything’s alright.

Ohhhh, I remember most of you

It controls pretty well, early bugs have been fixed (although the Unreal Engine remains a resource hog), it’s aesthetically appealing, and brings a good (In the “creatively well done”) dystopia to life, with only some puzzles being “Adventure Game Logic.” For fans of adventure games, both this and the original come highly recommended.

The Mad Welshman notes that Beneath A Steel Sky is also on Steam, if you only use Steam. It’s been on GOG for quite a while now.

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SUPERHOT (Going Back)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £17.99
Where to Get It: Steam

Ah, SUPERHOT. One hell of an interesting premise, both in terms of mechanics and story. The gist? Time only moves when you do, including looking around… And you’re in some extremely hectic situations in which it’s kill… Or be killed.

But hey, it’s only a pirated in-development game sent by a friend, and you can always restart!

MAKE HIM FLY.

Haha… Hahahaha… Haaaaboy…

It’s kind of amusing, really, how such a simple premise can be stretched out, and, with the story, each area of progression retrospectively makes the levels you’ve already completed something you can feel a vague sense of guilt about. But it’s only vague, because you’re hooked, the enemies are low-poly faceless red people who want you dead, and you want to see more.

Good boy…

Time for some… Dentistry. With bullets.

Aesthetically, that low poly look, the glittering reds of what you need to kill, the blacks of what you can use to maim and stun and kill, the slow sounds of glass shattering, bullets firing, and the sterile white of the rest of the landscape makes everything nice and visually clear, yet disconcertingly off… And that discomfort rises when… Ah, but you thought I was going to spoil something, didn’t you? Well, as far as this review goes…

guruCHAT – so old, it’s riskier to log in than not. Who knows who might hijack your chat?

You are not in control.

After all, I want people to experience the twists. That slow, dawning “The fuck?” as they happen, as you have to get ever more creative, to not rely on any one thing, be it guns, your fists, or things to throw, to help you survive. Or at least enjoy dying as a means of exploring what you can do, and to find the (really annoying) secrets of the game. After all…

Bodies are disposable.

The Mad Welshman’s reviews are good. Money is disposable. Support is the new… Okay, okay, but you have to admit, it was worth a shot!

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