Monster Hunter World (Going Back)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £24.99 base game, lots of gubbins including Iceborne, which is the big DLC wot costs £35+ quid)
Where To Get It: Steam

Oh, how I’d wanted to do this one when it first came out. And Iceborne. Oh, and Rise when it comes out on PC next year. But, alas, a small thing called “My Computer Was Dying Just A Little Bit” stopped me, and the pricepoint for a while thereafter.

This is pretty much mandatory in any coverage of the game.

But now, I’m here. Now, I’m rekindling my love fo- Haha, just kidding, I don’t have to rekindle my love of MonHun. After all, a game in which you live in a monster filled world, hunting them for resources and safety, and going on to bigger and bigger monsters? I like it. I’ve loved its take on progression, where yes, monster get beeg, but you don’t get big. Your equipment does, in a sense, but that’s the arms race between you and monsters, one you have to keep up with. But picking good equipment, learning about the monster from the mistakes you can make and come back from, taking educated guesses based on what it is, and then using these tools to take down a monster, alone or with friends? Heck yeah.

Let’s get a thing out of the way though. Monster Hunter World is doing a colonialism under thin pretenses of study. It’s an improved, quality of life added, and bigger MonHun than I’ve seen (although next to none of us here in the West ever really saw the actual MMO), it’s gorgeous, and it plays well according to the rules of MonHun. Learn thy weapons with the cat in the house, traveller, or just test them out where you aren’t going to get flattened. Each is unique. Each is pretty damn cool. Dual blades are the best and I will fight you on this.

I remain Easy To Create In Videogames.

But yes, its story can’t help but be framed as colonialist af, considering yes, the Fifth Fleet are trying to force their methods to work here as they do elsewhere, and… Well, I think this is the first title where we actively screwed up with the Big Elder Dragon, rather than “Ohshit, it woke up for some unknown reason, is causing disasters and/or heading directly to our village/town, it’s them or us!” (Well, except the first bit. That first bit was classic MonHun “Ohshit it just turned up”)

So, aesthetically, it’s good, it’s got some wonderful tunes, including a new rendition of that iconic theme, “Proof of a Hero”, the monsters are animated wonderfully. I mean, they’ve had a lot of experience here, but the monsters fighting each other… Sometimes, I just get out the popcorn and yell “HIT HIM WITH THE CHAIR!” from a safe distance, and the UX is… Somewhat changed. I won’t say it’s all for the better, it’s still a bit of an issue finding things, and the scoutflies feel like a necesssary addition, considering how certain plants and items blend into the landscape as well as, well, a native plant should!

And mechanically… Well, the formula got refined. There’s an always available weapon called the Slinger (y’know, that thing you use to look cool as you ride pterodactyls), but the weapon types, from my personal fave, the lightning fast dual blades, to the lumbering Greatsword, or the swag pseudo-hammer that buffs everyone, the Hunting Horn, have added little mechanics from previous games…

THE TOP ROPE’S RIGHT THERE, HE’S DOWN, PEOPLE’S ELBOW THEM IN THE FORK!

It’s somewhat hard to talk about Monster Hunter games precisely because they are, despite their simple formula, A Lot, but yes, overall, I would in fact recommend MHW. From what I’ve seen, it’s pretty likely I’d recommend Rise a bit more, although part of that is on the grounds that we haven’t seen this flavour of village in MonHun since Portable 3rd (Technically Generations, but Generations is a mashup.)

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to take down The Dread Pickle.

Or, as is just as likely for the overconfident like me, to be leapt on from a mile away, and gored.

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Before We Leave (Review)

Source: Review Copy
Price: £15.99 (Soundtrack £6.99
Where To Get It: Steam

An interesting title, that. Has a kind of Ray Bradbury feel to it. In any case, the apocalypse has happened, the world has returned to some semblance of normality, and people have decided to rebuild. On sea. On land. In space.

I mean, they’re humans, of course they- OHHHH, YOU MEAN DEHYDRATED! D’OH!

Honestly, it’s somewhat nice to have a chill exploration and resource management game like this, and the aesthetic quite pleases me. After all, sea shanties are definitely my jam, and any music that reminds me of them is OK In My Book.

Of course, it’s not all fun and games. After all, pollution is one of those things that screwed people over in the Before-Time, not that they remember, but they quickly learn that yes, smog from power plants, iron dust, and other “fun” stuff bad. Especially this useful, but awful black stuff, god, we’ve gotta get away from using that pronto!

However, sometimes it slows down a whole bunch. Once you’ve got a ship, for example, and colonised a second island, your previously quick pace up to that point slows down for a while until you get everything ready for fabric making, because wow, who thought the heat of a desert would make people super tired, meaning that unless your home to workplace route is short (ha, good luck with that), they’re going to spend long periods resting, also low on resources until you gun quickly for your new researches that can only be done with desert resources, and clothing, in that order.

You have discovered… Really Big Houses. But yes, those resources aren’t going to be helped by the fecund planet you just left for a while

Oh, and set up a trade route. Trade is pretty important in Before We Leave for new colonies. Once again, once you hit new planets, things slow down again… If you’re okay with these slow periods, in which you don’t really need to do anything with previous islands. In fact, once the research tree on an island is done, there’s nothing that needs doing, although increasing the population generally helps with resource flow… But again, is not, strictly speaking, needed… You can keep that relatively pastoral life for quite a while on your first island, with no detriment to the others. Especially as higher populations create more work, in the form of unhappiness management. Your efforts mostly focus on one island at a time in the early game.

And then, when you get to a new planet… Oh. Whoopsie, you didn’t pass on any of those red research points, and you have to start all over again, research wise. Thus creating another roadblock.

Welcome to Island 3. Relax, we already got weather-proof clothing, they’re just sleeping because it isn’t arriving there fast enough, and we can’t grow cotton here.

Aesthetically, the game works. Low poly hexes, low poly people, characterful, good music, clear UX… But mechanically, I find myself more frustrated by the roadblocks than charmed by the simple, clear play. It may be one of those games that “gets better later”, but… While I’d say give it a go if you like colonisation and resource management games, I can’t personally say it wowed me.

Before I Leave, I’d like to remind you all to hit up the Patreon, or at least gimme a Ko-fi. That way, I’ll have some snacks for the journey through space.

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Ultimate ADOM (Early Access Review)

Source: Review Copy
Price: £17.49
Where To Get It: Steam

As soon as I get down the stairs, I know I’m fucked. The rat, I’m not worried about. The hobgoblin, I’m sort of worried about. But the Chaos Barbarian, the one with the star over their head? Oh yeah, definitely worried about them. And no matter where I go, I’m going to be trapped by at least two of them.

Well, dash it all

Welp. Yep, Ultimate ADOM is still the tough roguelike I know and love, although “love” may not apply evenly to folks. After all, even with easy class/race combos like a Dwarven Fighter, you’re not necessarily going to last. Something is going to screw you if you’re not careful. And patient. And even that may not save you.

So, a little context. ADOM, originally created in 1994 by Thomas Biskup, is a true blue roguelike. Permadeath, turn based movement and combat, dungeons, procedural generation, etcetera, etcetera, everything in the Berlin Interpretation, basically. You’ll die, you’ll die a lot, you’ll learn about the game over time, its systems, managing its resources (both the “high good” and “high bad” variety), and you will become intimately familiar with the wait button, because this is a game where healing options are few.

So, even among roguelikes, it’s a slowish game. But how is this version “Ultimate”?

So, yes, my Ratling’s gender is always tentacled.

Well, basically, a GUI, more races (Well, sort of, the rest of the races have yet to be finished at this point), more genders (although your mileage may vary in ye olde dealybobber of having stat bonuses for your gender… Props for having Tentacled as a gender, and giving nonbinary people charm bonuses, though, it warms my nonbinary heart a little… Ehehe), more classes, and, of course, more features. All the classic ones are in there, like the equivalent of both the game’s mutation stat and its timer (Corruption), and gaining experience, health, or magic from destroying items (an elegant solution to both trash drops and the somewhat slow progression, although only XP is unlocked at first) Although what it doesn’t have, at the present time at least, is a massive game world. It’s one, big dungeon. And that’s fine, honestly.

Aesthetically, it’s okay. No colourblindness issues I could find, text is sans serif and not small, although a little thin, items on the floor are shown as a popup over your quickslots when they’re under you, mollifying the “items can be tiny” deal you sometimes see, tooltips… And, of course, it’s turn based, and its design encourages you to take your time.

You’d think this room would be a problem. And it is for a Ratling. But it’s not impossible. It just requires a bit of running away and holding down the wait button a fair way away, eating what food you have when you get hungry.

So, generally, this is a solid roguelike, albeit definitely not entry level, somewhere on the harder side, although permadeath can be disabled if you want, and I would recommend this to roguelike fans either looking for something with a little (a fair bit) more bite, or fans of ADOM looking for a glow-up to their favourite.

There’s really not a lot else to say, excet that hobgoblins go splat so pleasantly.

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Paperback: The Game (Going Back)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £3.99
Where To Get It: Steam

Words are great. I love words. Especially words that make sentences, then paragraphs, then pages, then books… Yup, I love words. I mean, they’re double edged swords, like the…

Wait, game, what do you mean Estoc isn’t a real word? Or Wales? (There was actually a better example, but we’ll leave that…) I’ve wielded the former, and lived in the latter, so…

I agree, past me, this dictionary sucks if it doesn’t acknowledge Wales.

Yes, Paperback, the digital edition, has the same flaw you’d find in, say, some versions of Scrabble online: The dictionary doesn’t accept some words you know damn well are real. There goes my dream of making a novel set in Wales about aliens and 50s sensibilities clashing with modern ones in a videogame!

Except not, because, essentially, Paperback is simply about making words with the letters you have in your hand (for lo, it is card based), and either buying better letters, or the wild cards that give you fame. Some letter cards have special effects, like giving you more money if it’s first or last in the word (Maybe the editors have a thing for Ts, or a hangup about Ss), or allowing you to trash cards, and making a word with 7 letters or more gives you props too. Run out of two wild card piles, tot up the fame points for your Great Welsh Novel, and the winner’s the one with the most fame!

I vaguely remember this getting through and being shocked it did. Or it didn’t, and I went for Ennui, which definitely works instead.

Life. Don’t talk to me about life…

So… Accessibility wise, it’s okay. It’s windowed, but it can be made a window that fills the whole screen, and you can click on a card to see what the hell it does if the text is a bit small (which it is when you’re not zoomed in.) Both of these are good points. Less good is that there is no volume slider, only on… Or off for sound and music. And while Paperback has a chill, elevator music style track to play to, it is… A track. Or if it’s multiple tracks, they blur together that well.

In any case, paperback has a hotseat mode (always a plus, I find) and an online mode with a signup and login (I can’t really speak as to how well that works), it plays alright, it’s okay, accessibility wise, and as a game? It ain’t bad. If you want a chill word game with friends, this is a solid pick.

Panty, toilet, dirty devil! Words are trouble, words are subtle…

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Tanto Cuore (Review)

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

“So, Who wants to collect maids competitively with me so I can review this sucker?”

She is, presumably, very good at maiding. Also at card battles about recruiting maids to keep the Fake Masters out.

Firstly, this is emblematic of game reviewing, where, occasionally, you will say a sentence that not only makes no sense to the listener without context, but also gives you major side-eye if you say it in a public place.

But yes, Tanto Cuore is the digital adaptation of a card game in which you are hiring maids with Love, and either sending them to your Private Quarters for Victory Points or… STOP LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT, I’M DESCRIBING THE GENERAL GOAL, DAMMIT..

It will not surprise the manga/anime fans to know that yes, this is a Japanese game. And musically, it shows. Bright, pumping beats full of cheer and the promise of shoujo storylines, equally bright visuals… Maids. Maids.

This, this is the screen you’ll mostly be seeing. Partly obscured by a card animation captured too late, but that’s only obscuring where you play your love cards and special ability maids you haven’t put in your chambers.

…Maids… There are, in fact, several different types of maids, and employing them either as general maids (in your deck), Chief Maids (on the top of your Private Quarters, with their own special abilities, and indeed Victory Points), Chamber-maids (placed into your private quarters for their Victory Points), or… Crap, I forget the name of the maids with the green outline on the card, but those stay in your deck and count for victory points at the end, at the cost of stuffing up your deck with maids you can’t play. And, indeed, there’s tactics here, because some maids will give you stuff for playing them as cards, not private maids, others give you victory points so long as there’s a certain number in your deck, you can set bad habits and illnesses upon your opponent, and even ending the game is a tactical decision, requiring you to completely clear two stacks of maids… Something I didn’t learn for a while because of one of the flaws of the game.

There are rules. You can look at the rules via the book icon, that’s about as obfuscatory as the UX goes, nice big letters, clear presentation, bright and cheerful… But you will only gain this information near the end of the rulebook.

I knew, errr… None of this while I was playing, beyond “Oh, thank god, I turned all those bad habits back on them!”

And you will definitely gain no information (that I can find) about how far ahead or behind you are. Other flaws include that there is no hotseat (just versus AI, a single player “story” mode, with cheevos per battle against the maids of the house), and that there is one piece of music. And it plays a lot. And your brain is already melting from trying to calculate victory points, and…

Look, this is a gem. A flawed gem, but a gem nonetheless. And I would recommend this to people who want a light-hearted, simple once you understand what the heck you’re doing, and yet competitive game.

But trying to say this without sounding like a massive pervert is extremely difficult, okay?

I mean, The Mad Welshman IS a kinkster, but seriously, explaining this game without getting side eye is hard.

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