Source: Review Copy Price: £14.99 Where To Get It: Steam
For all that I am not the biggest fan of tower defense games, I do respect a game that respects my time. And Necronator, being a tower defense roguelike, is a game that respects my time. And has a sense of humour. And, so far, only a few flaws.
If you’ve never played one of these, the deal in this one is
relatively simple. You summon enemies from your own “tower” (a
crystal sphere, in this case), they go toward the enemy settlements
or along the path you choose for them (by flipping signs), and the
enemy does the same from their castle. Why a crystal ball and a
Well, because you’re an evil overlord. Well, an evil overlord in
training. And each time you defeat a settlement, be it an actual
battle, a shop, an event, or a rest point, you move onto the next,
down a branching map until… The boss. Gaining more servants along
the way, that you cast.
There’s more to it than that, of course, mana, how getting minor
settlements from the enemy speeds up your mana production, and makes
defending a lane a little easier, how if you’re not quick enough
to ruin an opponent, they reinforce, and the fight gets harder the
longer it drags on… It’s a deckbuilder too.
Anyway, yes, battles are, overall, short. They get longer, as the
sectors drag on, but for the first hour or so of play, you’ll be hard
pressed to find one that lasts longer than five minutes. And I
respect that. It’s pretty frantic, it looks pretty nice, and a
rotatable view means that things can obscure the path you’re
looking at, but it’s never more than a keyboard press away, and
dragging units onto the field can be done anywhere, so this is
a pretty good deal.
Helps that it aesthetically looks pretty good, with some nice music,
a good pixelly feel mixing well with cel-shaded art… My main
criticism, aesthetically, is that some things don’t seem to get sound
cues, so you have to trust, for example, that enrages are proccing,
and that the status symbols over a unit are small unless you zoom
in… Which you don’t, generally speaking, want to do.
Overall, though, it feels frantic and challenging without actually being twitchy, it’s got an interesting deck mix, a good aesthetic, it respects your time… It’s a promising start for Necronator, and I look forward to seeing where it’s going.
The Mad Welshman salutes his fellow Overlords. Soon, brethren, soon, we shall face… The Finals!
Source: Cashmoneys Price: £7.19 Where To Get It: Steam
I admit it: Normally, I am not a fan of Tower Defence. It’s just a personal preference, and I’ve only enjoyed a few games in the genre. So for me to say Dungeon Origins is okay? It might be more than that for you. Who knows. Let’s get into it.
The story idea is actually a pretty fun one: A hero has cleansed the
land of the great evils, and the kingdom is at peace. Well, right up
until the moment where the King makes the extremely unwise decision
of trying to kill said hero, who has defeated great evils, because
he’s too dangerous to let live.
Kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy, as said hero then resolves to
create a great and evil dungeon, with which to punish the
kingdom. And what results can basically be summed up as “Dungeon
management tower defense.” With a tutorial that… Isn’t great.
Basically, plonk down paths, making sure you have a nice twisty path
with the space available to you (because, at the beginning, it ain’t
much), traps, monsters (mostly monsters, as traps are less reliable),
and, when you’re ready, go for the next wave! Every 10 or so waves, a
boss spawns… And, of course, the more waves you get through, the
tougher the obstacles on the way.
And here is where it’s alright instead of good. See, while it
has some cool ideas, its implementation, even as a score attack type
deal where you see how many days you last is… Not great. Monsters,
for the most part, are fine. Learning how to mix monsters, like a
tough melee type in front of weaker, ranged monsters, is a must, and,
if worst comes to worst, the dungeon core itself can attack intruders
who’ve reached it, with monsters respawning after each wave… That’s
fine. But paths and tile placement is… Awkward. Mainly because you
are encouraged to get certain dungeon features, which, in addition to
costing… A lot, will also cost a tile worth of gold, an increasing
cost, and those features will completely block that tile. Traps not
being able to be placed with monsters? That’s more reasonable. But
special rooms take up more of the economy than they claim to, and
what they claim to is an arm and a leg for wherever they’re
There’s also a skill tree, which, again, is fine… But traps deserve another mention, because the earliest trap (indeed, the only trap I was able to unlock on the first run) has… a 10% chance of going off. Which, not going to lie, feels a little ridiculous. The idea is that, if it goes off, it does a significant chunk of damage… But it also does sod all to thieves, who will steal the hardest resource to get in the game: Gold.
Mana gems are, it’s true, the rarest, but regular raids will provide you with a pretty consistent supply, whereas gold… Gold drops in relatively piddling amounts unless you’re going big with the raids (potentially disastrous, because raids cost your most common… And most used resource, Souls.) Spells… Exist, but have long cooldowns for what is, at first, not a great effect. Perhaps a scaling cooldown might have worked better there, but a single use, and then a several day cooldown is not great. (Hero assaults occur once a turn, which is a day, and raids for magic gems and gold take several days, a minimum of 2.)
Aesthetically, it’s alright. Lo-fi pixelwork, some chunky sounds, a relatively clear UX… But I found myself hemming and hawwing over this one, because while it was entertaining and a little interesting at first, the power creep of the heroes compared to the growth of me and my dungeon felt uncomfortable. So… If you want a Tower Defence game with RPG elements, then… Maybe?
The Mad Welshman has a dungeon. It’s where he reviews from. Quite nice, considering…
Source: Review Copy Price: £16.99 Where To Get It: Steam Previous Reviews: Early Access
It is the far future. And you’ve got a job ahead of you, commander. Because you’re the head of a private agency (not a corporation, honestly, really!) who has been tasked with dealing with the criminal influence of four cacklingly evil corporations, on behalf of the government. In sector 451 of the city of Conglomerate, and yes, they did call it that. So… It’s cyber, but not punk. Still.
So yes, this is one of those step based RPGs (first person, move a
tile at a time, moving costs time but turning or looking around
doesn’t, effectively turn based), with random loot, random enemy
placement, a pool of maps, a research tree… It seems like a lot,
but what it boils down to is: You do missions, which are usually kill
a thing, kill lots of things, or find a thing. And doing these things
breaks the influence of one of the four corporations who are openly
criminal in the sense of drug dealing, slavery, and the like. Them’s
So… Last time I reviewed this, I said it was mostly solid, pretty
promising, with a few things that needed work. That opinion has,
apart from the whole “It’s released” thing, not really changed
all that much. Because it still has issues. It’s just that they’re
now mostly in terms of writing and accessiblity, rather than one of
the two minigames being tedious as hell (the hacking has changed to
be something a little more quickfire than “Click on some text when
you see it”), and the money part of the game’s economy not being
great (unlocking the in-mission benefits like “Can always ambush
enemies if they don’t see you” costs money now. Which I’m fine
with.) Not changed, however, is the fact that the bigass gun which
looks like it can chew a room to shreds has a range of… 9 meters.
Now… Even if you have white writing, folks, it’s going to be nigh
illegible with a moving background, or something of even roughly the
same value. That’s an accessibility issue, for which there is no
option to fix. Dark red health on a dark brown background? That’s
hard to read, so… Colourblindness issue, no option to fix. These
are both two examples of how the game could work on its accessibility
(a third being UX/Text scaling.) And then… The writing/barks. I’m
not expecting Great American Novel, folks. What I do expect, however,
is not to be very tired of the AI’s yakking two minutes into a
mission. Yes, I get she was built by bad people to help you do bad
things to bad people. I got that in the first two voicelines about
how gleeful she gets about murder.
What I’m less fond of is references, without a hint of self
awareness. Ah yes, my training mission was a “Kobayashi Maru”
type. Mmmhm. Why yes, AI, we did come, we did see, we did kick its
ass… But both of these references are almost as old as I am. And
no, there is no option to turn off these barks, which… Sorry,
developers, they’re not well written, and in one case (SPU chips,
which add a little to stats), it doesn’t even make sense. Copper and
some wires, but maybe it will be useful? I… AI? Have you been
trained? At all?
So, in terms of aesthetics, it’s alright. There’s some good enemy
designs, the world maps are interesting and aptly get the feel
across, the sound isn’t bad, and the visuals for attacks are kinda
cool in places. In terms of gameplay, it’s a little grindy, but
otherwise, I’m actually down for a limited set of map layouts, partly
because you know vaguely what to expect. Improvements have been made
in some areas… It’s still got jank, but… I’d still recommend it
somewhat for fans of step-based RPGs, because it ain’t bad.
But it could definitely work on its accessibility.
The Mad Welshman would offer their services as a dystopia writing consultant, but… Well, not much point.
Source: Cashmoneys Price: £39.99 (£54.98 for Deluxe Edition, Season Pass £19.99, Extra Dispatch Missions 1 £4.99) Where To Get It: Steam
No, that isn’t a word salad up there in the title. Or, rather, it is, but it’s a meaningful one. It is, indeed, Super Deformed (Bobblehead Gundams fighting, basically), It is part of the G Generation series (The first to hit the PC, in fact), and you do, indeed, Cross both Rays (in the beam weapon sense) and, occasionally, Rays (In the “That’s their first name sense.”) Simple, no?
that still doesn’t really tell us anything, and it only tells fans of
Super Robot Wars something when I say it’s like that, so… It’s a
turn based strategy game, with some customisation, lots of units, 13
campaigns covering the Wing, Seed, 00, and Iron Blood Orphans series
and some of their spinoffs, like Seed Astray, lots of characters…
And a system that encourages a certain style of play… Namely, that
if you weaken multiple enemies, a single Gundam could kill up to
three of them at once. Oh, and you can also link your Gundams of the
same team in a single, devastating multi-target attack.
you can fluff a 78% chance, and swear at the wasted energy, the
resource that only really renews without docking back at base for
Warships and Story Gundams, maybe taking a hit yourself into the
bargain. UWAAAAAAGH! –Splode.
I definitely don’t feel guilty for this taking a not insignificant
portion of my review budget, because, as mentioned… 13…
Goddamn… Campaigns. At this very moment in time, 13 hours in, I’ve
gotten 29% of the things to get (Which… Isn’t actually as far along
as I’d like. Especially since I haven’t yet got my two favourites
available in this game, the Gusion and the Hyakuri), and have
finished most of… The first missions.
be prepared for each of even the first missions to take… A while.
And doing well, getting those sweet, sweet extra missions? Unlocks…
A harder part to the mission, which will test your endurance and
tactical skill. You get some neat unlocks though, whether through
that, developing higher levelled mechs into different mechs,
combining designs, adding abilities to your characters… More of
which you can unlock… There’s a lot to it.
well… Gundam has always been known for some good tunes, and
some high drama in its voicework, and this game is no exception.
A dramatic sting happens with every phase change (from you, to
enemies, to different groups of enemies if there’s more than
one…) There are theme tunes, attract movies, the top down forced
perspective stuff is mostly clear and alright, the battle animations
are great. You can skip them once you’ve seen them, to save
time, but… Don’t skip animations just by weapon, as different units
use those weapons in different ways. One Gundam will have a
proper Beam Rifle, one will use two Beam Pistols, and, in a
particularly silly animation, one will slap two Beam Pistols together
to make a bigger Beam Pistol that they fire. It’s very pretty.
not all is roses. The UI text can get pretty damn small sometimes,
which isn’t great accessibility wise, there’s some “Your mileage
may vary” in the fact that the game is using moments from the
series completely, so there’s a lot of dialogue and
narration between missions (You can skip this, but for those who
don’t like to, be warned, it goes on a while a lot of the
time), and in some series, you’re going to get severely hamstrung if
your Sortie mechs are, for example, all using Beam weapons in IBO,
where nearly everything resists Beam Weaponry.
goodbye to that 4K damage, friendo, you’re only doing 1.5K tops
against a Graze. And you will feel shame at not being able to
damage what’s effectively a mook with ease. On the other hand, IBO
units do pretty well in Beam heavy series. Muahahaha. Finally, yes,
there is grind. Some units can only be gained by either maxing out
meters, or developing them from other mechs, which requires levelling
them up. Thankfully, this grind can be lessened by doing “Dispatch”
missions, which take your group out of play for a certain time (From
2 and a half to 12 hours), but… You don’t actually have to be
playing the game to run that timer down. Actually a pretty
reasonable way of handling it!
But, here’s the thing: Overall? Hot damn is this value for money, with some moderately alright tutorialisation, to the point where you’ll very quickly get some tricks to shoot down units by the score, even Warships, and look cool doing it. For Gundam fans, well, hey, you’ve got a Gundam SD game you can play on PC (Super Robot Wars when, Bamco?), and for turn based tactical strategy games, you’ve got something you can sink your teeth into. Definite recommend here!
The Mad Welshman notes with some amusement that his sortie team is now several levels higher than… Well, anything except major story Gundams now.
Source: Cashmoneys Price: £15.49 (£22.68 game+soundtrack, £7.19 soundtrack) Where To Get It:Steam
International espionage is, at the best of times, a tough job. It involves not only observation, but paperwork, diplomacy, bribery, compromising assets… It’s a multifaceted operation. And lots of things can get in your way, from local law enforcement, to other agents, encryptions… Even just plain bad luck.
And, in Sigma Theory, you’re doing this in service to perhaps the
last big arms race of all… The race to a Paradigm Shift, where new
technologies change the very nature of the world, people, cultures,
infrastructure… Even hearts, minds, and bodies. It’s an arms race
which could very well result in the world melting down, culturally
for sure, possible literally. No pressure, though.
The general idea is, in its basics, very simple: Keep relatively good
relations with your own country and others… While researching
technologies, and stealing the scientists of others to help achieve
your own goals. Turn based, you have a lot of time to think about
your moves… But something will throw a wrench in your plans,
because every technology gained changes the game somewhat. One will
make the agents of a country incorruptible. Another makes the
scientists of other countries more corruptible. One
slows research of every other country. One allows two of your agents
to get an upgrade in their intelligence. And there is no way in hell
you’re going to get that. So, that’s the main idea… Send your
agents to other countries, find scientists, compromise them, steal
them, research technologies, and try not to let the same happen to
Of course… Like I said, things get complicated, because there are
private groups who want to fuck things up too, and, while your
goals may well align with theirs (Taking down capitalism? Sign me the
fuck up!), they will scew you over if you don’t. And
exfiltrating scientists and other figures is its own, turn based fun
time, set in a city route spattered liberally with cops and events
that may raise the alertness level, lower it, slow you down, speed
you up… Screw it up, and you not only lose the agent, you lose
reputation with both their country and yours… And you need
that high rep with yours to keep your surveillance and combat drones
to help you, and get new benefits, like being able to replace the
agents you lost. You’ll also lose rep if you go loud, but sometimes
you need to go loud.
And agents… Agents have preferences. In the most recent game,
Russia was already well on its way to dominance, and America was
falling behind. But I forgot that Mystery, the hacker I’d recruited,
and who was exfiltrating a scientist, was a pacifist. With fleeing or
stunning highly dangerous options, I ordered her to open fire… And
she surrendered, immediately. Well, damn. Read your dossiers,
Jamie, read your dossiers! (Especially since recruiting agents you
haven’t recruited before requires it, to recruit them in the
Aesthetically, the whole is very pleasing. A simple, clear,
but fitting UI, music that adds to that tense feeling that pervades
the game’s mechanics, good character portraits, and the cityscape is
also pretty clear. With a surveillance drone, you know
how hard it’s going to be to get out, but without, the route is
clear… But cops fade into view.
The game is very difficult, and, at times, distinctly unfair… But I still enjoyed myself, and continue to do so, because thematically? It works. It’s a dangerous situation in which one misstep can cascade into the Doomsday Clock running down, or the world dominance (quite literally) of another global power, or a private corporation. So if the fact that it’s difficult doesn’t turn you off, I would definitely recommend it for what it is… An engaging turn based game, set in perhaps the biggest cold war I’ve seen in a setting. A cold war for how humanity itself is directed.
Being a spy agency is hard. I wonder how super agents would do with Disciples 1?