Mystic Pillars (Review)

Source: Review Copy
Price: £5.19
Where To Get It: Steam

Counting games, such as games from the Mancala family, are quite interesting. Often seen as games representative of sowing and harvest, a common objective is to lay seeds from one pool, to another set as far away as the number of seeds you have away, dropping a single seed in each hole along the way, and then capture seeds from the next pool over. It’s a game of strategy. And it fits, because Mystic Pillars is a puzzle game where there is a great drought, caused by a spirit who has summoned pillars blocking the river.

He gets a little friendlier. But yes, he is both the storyteller… And the antagonist.

And while you don’t precisely do it like Mancala style games (Ali Guli Mane, or Chenne Mane is the cited inspiration), the general principle to the puzzle is similar: You’re taking from one pillar of seeds to another, and if you go 1 space away, you place 1 seed from the first to the second, if you move 2 spaces, 2 seeds… There are up to 10 spaces on each pillar, and so… You have a logic puzzle.

And, as with any good puzzle game, when I understood the solution of a difficult puzzle, I had that “Ahaaaaa!” moment, that pleasure of figuring it all out. That, alone, would be a recommendation.

But it also engages me with its story. A story of a traveller, seeking to return the flow of the river in the kingdom of Zampi, while a tricksy spirit tells you how it came to pass that the kingdom fell in the first place. I enjoyed it, as I did the clear, beautiful aesthetic of the game. As I did how the move limit is exactly what you need, no more, no less. And how there’s no pressure to solve, even though many of the puzzles are, within only a few experiments, solvable fairly easily.

When you get that “AHA” moment, it’s pretty sweet.

It’s not a long game, by any means. But it’s an enjoyable one, with a story I had fun reading, puzzles that gave my little grey cells a pleasing workout, and, as another game that does what it says on the tin… If you like puzzles, this one may well be a pleasant pick for you.

The Mad Welshman is more of a fan of Sennet. But he still appreciates this game.

Become a Patron!

Langrisser 1 & 2 (Review)

Source: Review Copy
Price: £49.99 (Assorted DLC comes to £41.96)
Where To Get It: Steam

The bandits were raiding the village, and my two heroes had things well in hand. Well, except when the next wave of bandits appeared, and… One was really close to a set of villagers, villagers I was meant to be protecting. So, some of this peaceful village died, died because I was too slow. And then some more died… Because they ran headlong into the two barbarian heroes I was trying to kill. I still won the day, but I wondered… Could I have done things differently? Could I have saved everyone?

We didn’t manage to save everyone. But we progressed. And our friend managed to rejoin us.

Well, theoretically, yes. In practice… Welcome to the Langrisser games, turn based strategy RPGs where you can muddle through, but perfection requires pinpoint precision.

And do you know, I quite like it. At least partly because it’s of the more black and white SRPG type, where you fail, because your heroes were killed… Or you win. This, I appreciate.

In any case, Langrisser is one of those fantasy worlds where the story will seem quite familiar to players of this sort of game: King gets murdered, or other horrible thing happens, the protagonist and their friend(s) escape, they defeat evils on their way to returning home to retake it, but wait, a greater evil arises in the second or third act, and…

Ledin is the one on the left. Just to clarify.

It still works surprisingly well. In fact, this pair of remakes of a now almost 30 year old franchise is a pretty solid one, with simple core mechanics (Infantry beats spears, Spears beat Cavalry, Cavalry beats Infantry, your mercs work better inside your commander’s command radius, they heal when they end their turn directly adjacent to you, and killing commanders removes their mercs from the field too, bish, bash, bosh, there’s your basic primer on everything Langrisser), solid combat, an interesting system where your character’s class can change the way they play a fair bit, and, of course, some nice aesthetics, with good music, clear tiles, workable and slightly charming battle animations, and plot divergences.

Basically, it ain’t bad, and with twelve hours average on a run of Langrisser I (for lo, there is a New Game+ on both games), there’s a lot of playtime to be had…

Battles follow a format that would later be popularly associated with the Advance Wars series.

At least some of which is due to unskippable combat animations, and individual movement animations even if you automate. Personally, I don’t mind it, mainly because I prefer manual movement myself. But I can see how that would be a turnoff.

Still, I’ve enjoyed my time with Langrisser, and I expect to enjoy more time with it. It doesn’t overcomplicate things, its characters charm, its aesthetics please, and… It’s something where I know where I stand. Because it lets me know clearly. And I appreciate something that does that.

The Mad Welshman is off to… Ahaha, not save the kingdom! Conquer it! Big difference!

Become a Patron!

One Step From Eden (Review)

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.

My co-op partner and I… Getting our asses kicked.

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 and pixel-art.

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.

This… Seems like a bad idea. But it may not be… Well, situationally…

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, British Internets!

I would say the little sod’s got what’s coming to him, but he’s one of those enemies you have to take down with individual attacks. He only takes one HP per, y’see.

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.

Become a Patron!

Lewd Leaf Land: Maple Tea Ecstasy (NSFW Review)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: $4.20 (Approximately £3.50, with the option to donate.)
Where To Get It: Itch.IO

Content Warning: This is an adult only platformer.

(more…)

Become a Patron!

World of Horror (Early Access Review)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £11.39
Where To Get It: Steam, Itch.IO

Content Warning: This game has body horror and mutilation imagery, mentions of suicide, self harm, and murder.

(more…)

Become a Patron!