Source: Review Copy Price: £17.49 Where To Get It: Steam Previous Review: Early Access
Ah, ADOM. I’m going to say this now, if you don’t like hard, old school roguelikes, stay away, because ADOM is very, very traditional. In the “If you don’t know the systems, you’re unlikely to get past Level 3, and random start is Challenge Mode” sense.
Also if you find a clunky UX which occasionally does things like have text that’s obviously code (such as, in at least one of these screenshots, “DRINK_SYMBOL”) offputting. Because that’s a thing too.
Anyway, yes, despite this, it’s not a bad roguelike. It is, after all, one of the earlier ones that’s gone through a lot of rejigging, although this version doesn’t have the massive world traditional ADOM does. Gender options are alright (including, as I mentioned in my Early Access review, Tentacled… Gotta love Tentacled and Non-Binary as options… Although, as with older RPGs, each gender comes with stat mods… Not my favourite), class and race options are pretty plentiful, and there’s certainly a fair few systems to interact with, like summoning, grafting, corruption and mutation… There’s not all that many roguelikes where I can say “I, a Gray Elf Necromancer, decided I wanted a third arm that belonged to a goblin. I never did find a third dagger for it before I died, but I could have, and that would have rocked. Damn you, dark elf immune to life draining magic, which was my main healing…”
And aesthetically, it’s alright. No major issues besides skinny text for accessibility, the chibis and monsters look alright… Honestly, my main problem is that it’s clunky. Progression has gotten faster, so levelling isn’t a big problem, but going through a mini-menu when you want to do certain things gets annoying quickly, even with a turn based game where taking your time and thinking is the preferable path.
In the end, Ultimate ADOM may well please traditional roguelike fans who don’t mind a little jank, but folks looking to get into roguelikes should definitely look elsewhere. I honestly wish I could say more, but… There’s not a lot else to say that I haven’t said before.
The Mad Welshman is one of the deities in this game. Well, he’s like one of the deities in this game. Certainly as stylish.
Source: Cashmoneys Price: £7.19 (£4.79 for Evil God Korone) Where To Get It: Steam
Hrm. “Day of Atonement”, according to the developer. It’s a good title for this series of horror vignettes, and furthermore allows a simple change to make Tsugi No Hi (The Next Day), even if… What are the characters in these vignettes atoning for again?
Well, except for one, maybe two cases? Just being in the wrong place at the wrong time, intruding upon something that they never would have realised they were intruding on. It’s honestly one of the things I like about Japanese horror stories like these: It doesn’t feel the need to explain the why or the what. If you happen to know why you’re being targeted by this ghost/youkai/kami/whatever (no, I’m not using these interchangably, I’m just covering the bases), then good, but most of the time… You won’t. Why would you? How would you?
I got pretty far ahead of myself here, so let’s back up a bit. Tsugu No Hi is a series of short adventures that were previously made in Flash, in which, for the majority of games, there are precisely two necessary controls: Left, to go left. Enter to pass onto the next bit of dialogue. You do this a few times, each time being a day, and eventually… Well, you inevitably reach your fate. It’s one of the more literal interpretations of Kinetic Novels I’ve seen, and I like that.
Equally, I like the aesthetic when it’s not trying its best to burst my eardrums or jumpscare me. Photoshopped people, a photocollage for most of the stories, blank spaces where the eyes should be being the norm, normal, ambient sounds, until… Oh… Oh… Things are starting to get weird. A good staple of horror that: The slow realisation of wrongness in reality. The music in the end and the beginning of each story is also good, so… Mmm, do like, and same with ye ambient horror bass.
Now, let’s get onto problems. So, first up, if kinetic novels are not your thing, this will miss you. You have next to no control, you cannot escape this fate, and, while this is thematically appropriate (after all, you were fucked from the moment whatever is happening started), this is what it is. A dark ghost house ride, jumpscares and all. Some of these hit, adding to the atmosphere, and some, well, they’re silly, shock and nothing more.
Secondly, this is… A pretty direct set of ports. Volume control? Gonna have to go into your mixer while the game’s running, buddy. The small window of the story selection screen is most definitely… A thing, although the windows for the games themselves can be maximised just fine. And thirdly, fans of the originals will find the “The Next Day” transitioning to “The Day of Atonement” (in this translation “The Hexed Day”… Oh ho ho) to be a disappointment. I can’t really speak about the quality of translation, alas, but it seems mostly faithful from what I’ve seen of translators Let’s Playing it.
Honestly, I like Tsugu No Hi overall, I love the implication of connected incidents in many of the chapters, and I like the general concept, even if the aural and visual assault of the final days is a mixed bag for me, usually a miss when it’s really over the top. But I like the connected stories, even if the connection isn’t obvious. This… Is an extremely cursed place. Spirits abound, people are fucked (and one cat. So, yes, CW: Cat death)…
…I just wish this was more of an update using the assets, rather than most of the originals, jank and all, collected in one place. But hey, if you like janky J-horror, know to turn the volume down in the mixer lest your eardrums suffer, and are fine with jumpscares (either in the sense of enjoying the ARGH! Or just… Being okay with them, like me), this definitely isn’t a bad pick to while away a few hours.
The Mad Welshman has somehow not reached The Day of Atonement. He’s kind of disappointed, actually. He’s always wanted to punch a ghost in the face for trying to claw his own off.
Source: Cashmoneys Price: £13.99 Where To Get It: Steam
Ha. The most chill post apocalyptic game has released, and I have… Mixed feelings. Not about the game, but more… Well, it suddenly feels a bit raw, a game about nature claiming our buildings, the last evidence humans were there, growing over eerily familiar environments with the power of the stuff that was put down there, making them unrecognisable…
The game, I only really have a few minor problems with. Mostly to do with tooltipping. I’m sorry, what did this moss ball do again? Why would I bother with grass? I’d like not to have a restart finding out. We’ll get to the other two bitches in time.
In any case, the game is a very simple one. In the middle of nowhere, there is an isolated segment of civilisation, be it a dump, an apartment, a toll gate, or a highway. You’re given at least one seed to start off your quest, each with their own growth patterns. For example, got a big gap between the thing and the ground? The first seed you’re ever given does that well. But it doesn’t do well with flat surfaces, that’s what vines are for (and, to a lesser extent, moss.)
Once you’ve done that, you’re given items of civilisation. They’ve got a radius, and within that radius, things will grow around where you placed that item. And your seeds will grow, and sprout seeds of their own, which you use to cover more, place more items, so on so forth, until a certain percentage of growth is completed. And heck, if you have items left, and seed power left (what, you thought they’d be mean enough to stick you to just one seed type in a mission beyond the tutorials?), then you can add more before going to the next level, just to make it a little more aesthetic. I often do.
Entirely mouse driven, the loop is simple, the UX is minimalist, yet stylish, and the low poly landscapes, isolated in cloud (geddit, you’re making- Oh, never mind) appeal to me greatly. Less appealing is how it’s sometimes hard to see planters (look for green corners on objects. Not sure if there’s a colourblindness issue there, best to check with a screenshot), and how certain objects, like bicycles, are both inherently unstable and useful. Nothing quite frustrates like placing a bike in the middle of some lush foliage to get easy seeds, only for it to fall over the exact plants you wanted to harvest, lowering your percentage and fucking you out of the seeds.
But, overall, it’s a good, chill game. Goodness me, the post-apocalypse is a relaxing place without…
Ah. Yeah. Anyway, give it a go if you like puzzle games.
The Mad Welshman loves nature. No, really, he does! It’s full of things that are both crunchy and juicy when put over a flame of some kind!
Well, this is certainly pleasing. Not unexpected, but pleasing. Jupiter Hell has had quite the glow-up since I last saw it, and I am happy.
I mean, not aesthetically, although its intro is very nice, much machismo there, yes… And health items are still hard to spot in certain areas (would it kill ya to add outlines for the colourblind, mmmm?) but in other terms.
First though, your reminder as to what Jupiter Hell is: It’s a turn based game, in which all actions take a certain amount of time, and you walk/run around, pick up items, shoot the hell out of zombies, demons, and security bots, and move from level to level, with risk-reward decisions at every step. For example: You’re low on ammo for your favourite weapon. Do you ditch it for a while for something with more common ammo for the area, or do you stick with it in the hopes of finding more, at the risk of being caught in an awkward situation?
Oh, and there’s the challenge modes: Do not do them if you’re not up for a very roguelike challenge mode (hard as balls even on medium difficulty), but they do exist, and they are interesting (such as “Angel of Carnage.” Rocket launcher only, all ammo can be turned into rocket launcher ammo, good luck, because there’s a high chance of killing yourself!)
Anyway, me oh my, the stuff since the last update has become pretty interesting. More areas, lore (surprising nobody who’s played any of the spiritual predecessors, the Doom series, Mars has become a portal to hell and the company stationed there was doing bad things that caused this whole mess), and something I don’t think I’ve seen in a roguelike before: Messages that can incentivise you to take another path, or warn you about problems ahead.
“Some asshole got into the strongroom on CALLISTO MINES L1, here’s how they did it, please fix [NARRATOR: It wasn’t fixed, and everyone involved with that strongroom is dead, loot to your heart’s content]” or “Shit, the power’s out in IO HUB, you’ll need a multitool to bring the power back [TRANSLATION: Dark level, but if you have high enough firepower, this is a good thing, don’t bother fixing the lights.]”
It’s a pretty welcome thing, honestly. Refreshing.
Anyway, overall, Jupiter Hell has a good easy difficulty for folks, it’s relatively simple, pretty accessible, barring a few issues, and as far as roguelikes go, yes, I still recommend this one.
Now, The Mad Welshman doesn’t have to worry about demons for all of… A week? Things just keep cropping up, he doesn’t know where they come from…
Source: Supporter Gift Price: £19.49 Where to Get It: Steam
For all that I enjoyed Rogue Legacy way back when, it had moments where you hated it, and felt it was extremely unfair. And sometimes? It was.
And so, I immediately turn to challenges for heirlooms, the items that, effectively, bar progression. Because yes, I feel those are extremely unfair. Here, in the path of empathy, a gauntlet of needing to use your kick to boost off the swinging braziers of death and pain to get to new platforms, culminating in a circle of them you have to navigate and, effectively, use twice to get to the end of that segment of the challenge. There, in the airdash path, a flamethrower segment that, if you don’t remember it exists, you won’t immediately hit the airdash button and hammer the fuckin’ thing until you get out of there. The first one is early on in the challenge, a difficulty spike that really feels out of place. The second is the same, although more forgivable because it seems to be toward the end, rather than the second part of a multi-stage challenge, exams to see if you can use these items.
Technically, I should have described the game for the newcomers before that, but it’s such a pressing piece of assholishness that I had to mention it, because right now, it is a turnoff, and a big one. So… Rogue Legacy 2 is a procgen platforming type dealio, where your bloodline has been cursed, and only by defeating the horrors of the haunted castle in which the curse began can you all be free. That’s harder than it sounds, by the way. A lot harder, because you start pretty weak. Weak enough that you’ll likely die within a few rooms at first.
But you do get better, and you get to experience new and interesting classes, regardless of whether you’ve played the first. This time, I’ll mention the Chef. Yes. Chef. A well made frying pan is an extremely powerful tool in the right hands, and if it’s also enchanted to burninate thy foes, and turn medium sized projectiles into fireballs? That’s… Pretty good.
So, aesthetically, it remains good (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it), with important elements being clearly shown, some of the more irritating filters having been removed (yay!), and a pretty accessible UX and tooltipping. Cool!
Less cool is the base keybinds. I’m going to be rebinding the keys next time, because the base keybind of WASD for movement (well, technically ASD, with W being for easy aiming of spears, and SPACE for jump, but) and Shift for… Errr… Bounce… Well, with shift being a little finger thing, that’s much more suited for prolonged actions, which a bounce… Definitely isn’t. I’m gonna have to move that somewhere more accessible.
But, overall, for all my bitching about these things, Rogue Legacy 2 remains a recommendation for folks into roguelike platformers, still being in Early Access as it is.
The Mad Welshman swears he’s got his shit toge- ahahaha sod, I’m dead.