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9 people found this review helpful
2.6 hrs on record
Forgotten Places: Regained Castle is a hidden object game (HOG) that follows the story of Jane, who embarks on an adventure when Sir Charles, a friend of the family who had been her caretaker since her parents died, dies suddenly after the discovery of a relic. Mystery, puzzle solving, and supernatural oddities await!

The game is a mix of hidden object, mini games, and point and click--in which you'll pick up useful objects and use them or combine them with other objects in order to get past obstacles.

There are three different settings. These affect how frequently the game will give you "glints" that indicate what needs to be interacted with next as well as how quickly your hints will recharge. For the record, I played on normal and I never found that I had to sit and wait for it to recharge because I was stumped.

The hint system responds differently based on location. If you're simply roaming the map, clicking the hint bulb will actually show you where you need to go next and will not drain its charge unless you click it again after you've relocated. I was a huge fan of this because that small nudge in the right direction was usually enough to get me on track to the next puzzle segment. If you click the hint bulb during a hidden object section, it will expend its charge in order to show you where a single object is. Its final use, and the main reason I resorted to it, is to skip puzzles--particularly the ones that required me to move tiles around. These were challenging, but then I'm also kind of inept. That aside, it was a nice option to have and skipping puzzles actually shows you the solution step by step, so it was a bit of a learning opportunity.

The cursor is context sensitive, indicating when you can pick something up, look closer, etc. Jane will comment, providing a hint as to what needs to be done. You must have the correct item in your position in order to interact with some things, i.e a key before you can interact with a door.

The game is broken into story segments interwoven with puzzles and hidden object screens. The story is a mystery with some supernatural aspects regarding the late uncle of Jane, the main character. It's told via cutscenes and Jane's monologue, some of which is voice acted.

In order to proceed through the story, you'll need to help Jane complete tasks by interacting with objects in the area, which are often locked or out of reach. You'll need to explore the area and pick up useful objects and solve puzzles.

Environments are crammed with as many objects as possible while still looking natural. You can move about the castle, where the bulk of gameplay occurs, manually by switching from screen to screen or by fast travelling via a map. Yes, a map. It's not only a time saver, it saves you from the endless backtracking I've found myself stumbling into in games of this style.

There are collectables to pad out your game time-- butterflies (57 total). From time to time, you'll also find optional pages of your journal, which provide additional background information to flesh out the story.

Pros

  • The art is great. Scenes are very complex.
  • Seamless movement between scenes with little to no load times.
  • There's a map!!! You can fast travel to areas, lessening the confusion of having to remember what is where. I wish more games in the genre did this.
  • A wide variety of mini-game types from memory games to match two to sliding puzzles.

Cons

  • Some of the tasks are very broad and you end up sweeping your mouse over the screen, hoping it'll indicate what you need to click.
  • Music is a constant loop. If you're stuck on one screen for too long, it's incessant.
  • The writing has some errors.

.Bottom Line.

A thoroughly enjoyable hidden object game with a good mixture of puzzle types. With different difficulty settings, fans of the genre will find a decent amount of challenge while those who are looking to get their feet wet can get the hand-holding they need.

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Posted July 24, 2018. Last edited July 24, 2018.
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65 people found this review helpful
5 people found this review funny
0.9 hrs on record
I'm a little confused by Age of Fear's positive reception, though after doing some review digging I realised that nostalgia plays a large part. So this review is from the perspective of a modern gamer. I've never played a physical role playing game, nor did I own any console that came before the Gameboy Colour. If that describes you, you'll likely agree with this review. If not, take my recommendation with a grain of salt. Either way, this should be considered a neutral vote because there's nothing inherently wrong with the title.

Age of Fear is a turn based strategy game during which you and the enemy take turns moving across the battlefield and attacking each other. It's set in a fantasy world where Dryads and other fey folk are commonplace and details the story of a Strider and a Dryad who are on the run from the humans that hunt them. Along the way, you'll recruit new units, level up and learn new skills, outfit your party, and fight scores of enemies.

First, the elephant in the room: this game is ugly in almost every aspect of presentation. The UI in particular looks like something a dedicated person could throw together in Paint and the sound assets are some of the worst I've ever heard.

That being said, you can't judge a book by its cover so let's dig a bit deeper.

The game is broken into two main phases (three, if you count node selection on the map): story and combat.

The story is a mixed bag. I didn't find it to be terribly interesting and the weirdly fluctuating diction--one moment, it was ye olde English then another it was modern slang--didnt help.

Combat is presented from a top down view. Each party--whether allied, neutral, or enemy--has their own phase during which units are able to move and attack.

The sound assets are horrid. Voices sound as though they were recorded surrounded by a tin can: hollow, uneven in volume, and out of place. Attack animations aren't particularly impressive either, making the whole thing underwhelming. I would have preferred a faux board game setup where everything is presented in text and two pieces collide to indicate damage being dealt.

Parts of the environment are destructible, meaning you can find loot by targeting objects. An interesting aspect of a battle's conclusion that I don't often see is the fact that you can free roam and actually discover hidden areas and loot.

The equipment management consists of equipping shields, weapons, and accessories to the corresponding slots. Each can be found or bought and are not reflected on the character model. Party menus are a cluttered collection of numerical stats and blocks of descriptive text. You're able to periodically recruit new units in this same menu. There's a party limit to adhere to and new units can be named. Perhaps they'll be more useful later on, but the additional units I recruited just felt like cannon fodder and meat shields to keep the two main characters--who are so much stronger--safe.

The game's lack of polish is perhaps it's greatest drawback. If that doesn't deter you, then by a all means give it a go. I personally could not get into it, hence the low play time.

.Bottom Line.

I can't justify spending 24.99 on something that feels as though it's riddled with placeholders rather than a polished final product. The presentation and narrative do nothing to enhance what is otherwise a very basic top down, turn-based strategy RPG. Though I'm not getting much enjoyment out of this game, maybe you will if you're a more old school gamer. Those who enjoy a more modern style of strategy RPG may want to avoid this one entirely as it will feel supremely dated and uninspired.


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Posted May 8, 2018. Last edited May 9, 2018.
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A developer has responded on Jun 10, 2018 @ 5:38am (view response)
8 people found this review helpful
1.2 hrs on record
More interactive story than actual videogame, Fossil Echo is an atmospheric puzzle-platformer with beautiful hand drawn art and a haunting OST. You’re thrown into this world without any explanation, but you have one clear objective: make it to the top of the tower and don’t get caught by the armed men and machines that patrol it.

To be fair, you can tell the developers put a lot of time and effort into this endeavor. As such, I'd prefer to mark this as a neutral review, though the bad outweighs the good.

If you’ve played atmospheric platformers like Limbo or Hue, you’ll be familiar with the gameplay and overall challenge level of Fossil Echo. While you won’t be pushing objects to create a safe passage or outrunning huge spiders, your young protagonist will be unarmed in a hostile world and you’ll have to use your wits and creative thinking to avoid certain death. One hit can kill you, though the protagonist of Fossil Echo is a bit hardier and can survive long falls. He also has the ability to wall jump, which is indispensable in reaching higher ledges.

Fossil Echo can be played with your keyboard or a controller. The simple controls require you to move with right stick/WASD and jump with A/Space bar depending on which you choose. These can be rebound if need be. Both work equally well and feel responsive. Fossil Echo’s story is told in the form of brief cutscenes wound seamlessly between platforming sections. There’s really no way to summarize it without spoiling it, so I’ll just say that.

Platforming sections are short runs from point A to point B and will typically take you no longer than a minute or two. Some have enemies which can be dealt with in one of three ways:

-Avoiding them. Guards pace or turn to look in the other direction on a timer. If you time it right, you can avoid detection.

-Stunning them. The boy doesn’t have a weapon or even a way to attack, so you only real option is to jump down on your target, incapacitating human target and destroying mechanical ones. Timing is still a large factor have because you have to avoid detection by remaining enemies.

-Hiding. This is only really applicable in the sections specifically made for it. There are shadows to duck into and avoid detection. Otherwise, stumbling into an enemy’s line of sight spells certain death due to the lack of objects to duck behind or the ability to crouch (that and the A.I. fires off WAY too quickly to dodge).

Even on easy difficulty, these puzzles require a bit of trial and error to solve. One drawback of the game is its adherence to a wordless delivery of story and directions, meaning it’s not always obvious what you need to do next.

There are also segments where the feathers in the boy’s headband pushed upwards by the wind. This event leads into a more precise platforming experience as you have to move swiftly upwards and missing a step mean losing all sight of the feathers and having to start from the beginning of the segment. The camera pans upwards as you go, a constant reminder to pick up the pace. These sections were a nice break from the norm.

The game also has optional challenge sections that are introduced in the form of dreams. Periodically, you’ll find areas where The Boy can bunk down for the night, these and other objects and people that can be interacted with are indicated by the addition of black bars on the top and bottom of the screen, akin to the narrowing of a gaze - and pressing up will prompt him to start a fire and go to sleep. In his dreams, you’ll meet other characters and also find puzzles that will challenge your timing and dexterity.

These puzzles, while difficult, are the same get from point A to point B formula and do nothing to add to the experience except to offer padding to your game time. And being rewarded with a vague nonsensical cave drawing after struggling past a particularly difficult platforming section didn’t fuel my desire to try subsequent ones.

There’s no real reason to attempt these frustrating puzzles; no collectibles no story segments and no sense of accomplishment.

Fossil Echo’s ultimate downfall is its lack of content. The art and music are lovely, but that doesn’t justify the $9.99 asking price when a leisurely playthrough will take you no more than five hours. In fact, there is an achievement for beating the game in under 45 minutes. Speedrunners may relish that challenge, but the average gamer won’t be happy to know that the entire game can be condensed into such a small amount of time.

,Pros,
  • Gorgeous artwork and OST.
  • Controls are tight.

.Cons.
  • The story leaves a lot to be desired. It ended on such a random note that I found myself thinking, “that’s it?” only to think it again once I saw my completion time was a little over an hour.
  • What you need to do isn’t always obvious, leading to a frustrating trial and error.
  • The challenge sections have a punishing difficulty without any real reason to attempt them.
  • Despite the fact that this is a video game, it plays out more like a collection of cutscenes separated by brief platforming segments.

.Bottom Line.
I could only recommend Fossil Echo to platforming fans—and even then, only at a steep discount. There’s just not enough here to justify the full price despite the fact that what is here is amostly enjoyable puzzle platformer with a carefully handcrafted art style, peaceful OST, and a good measure of challenge. If you’re just looking for something to kill some time with, move on. For the same price, you could see an action movie and be more engaged and for longer.

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Posted March 22, 2018. Last edited May 9, 2018.
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23 people found this review helpful
0.4 hrs on record
This will be shorter than my usual reviews if only because I couldn't bring myself to keep playing.

--

I tried to like Balthazar's Dream. I did.

I like the theme. If you didn't already know, Balthazar's Dream takes place in the dreams of the titular canine, Balthazar. It details the touching bond between a boy and his dog after said boy gets into an accident that leaves him hospitalized.

I like the little details that remain true to the theme. Because Balthazar is a dog, hazards are things that dogs would find frightening, like vacuum cleaners, or hazardous, like chocolate.

I like the art. Though the pixel style is a bit muddied, the game has a distinct charm to it.

And, to its credit, the game has fair and numerous checkpoints that make it so that falling to your death isn't a big deal.

I tried, but I was ultimately unable to get over how poorly the game's mechanics work in tandem and as a result, this dream swiftly became a nightmare. Balthazar has an intelligence meter that drains as he climbs or when he's around objects that are scary to dogs. If it drains entirely, Balthazar will release his grip or bolt off scared respectively. While that sounds thematically sound, it's actually quite irritating as this means your time on a swinging rope, a staple of performers, is artificially limited and nine times out of ten Balthazar will run off of the edge of a platform, lemming style, to his death. These obstacles do nothing for the game except except to make things unnecessarily tedious.

Balthazar's Dream presents moments where you'll need split second timing and accuracy to successfully make a jump or series of jumps while also avoiding obstacles that will either kill you in one hit or have Balthazar ignore your input in favour of running for his life; however, because the controls are not precise and the gameplay mechanics make them unintuitive, the game difficulty becomes artificially inflated. This only adds to the frustration.

To be fair, I suppose the game deserves a neutral rating because those who are more patient than me will likely be more willing to put up with its flaws. Unfortunately, Steam doesn't give me that option, so a negative this will remain. If you're like myself, however, and you get frustrated by having to do the same thing again and again through what feels like no fault of your own, then you'll likely want to skip this one. If you're the type who loves precision platformers, and are therefore used to having a platformer fight against you tooth and nail, and you also don't mind that these controls aren't exactly "precise" per se, then Balthazar's Dream is the game for you.


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Posted February 16, 2018. Last edited February 16, 2018.
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52 people found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
8.3 hrs on record
Children of Zodiarcs (CoZ) is a tactical, turn-based RPG featuring a motley crew of young thieves who find themselves caught up in a dark conspiracy involving ancient powers and spoiled nobles. Take these underdogs to the top of the food chain with a unique mix of card and dice mechanics and overcome overwhelming odds.

Kickstarter backer here.

The hierarchy is immediately made evident in CoZ--and more importantly the fact that you're somewhere near the bottom of it. The game does a good job of explaining the fantasy world it's sent in without bogging you down with irrelevant details and names, building atmosphere and immersing you in it. Yours is a dark and dismal world where violence us a constant and meals are not guaranteed, but somehow the battlefields still manage to be interesting to look at with little details and particle effects to add a layer of realism.

Combat in CoZ is a bit slow paced, though in response to complaints the developer, Cardboard Utopia, added a fast forward function. In typical turn-based fashion, you and the enemy have your own phases during which you'll move your units and use abilities. Abilities are tied to the card system: you select the skill you want to use, after which you're taken to the dice roll screen where you essentially affect the effectiveness of your attack. Dice dictate which end of the range--shown when you highlight an enemy to attack it--your damage will fall into and also what additional buffs/snuffs will be applied. There are a few different markings on your dice: crystals add power, stars activate the special effect listed denoted on the card, shields protect you from counter attack damage, if applicable, and hearts recuperate health. You can reroll up to two dice should you not agree with the outcome of your initial roll.

CoZ is combat-focused, meaning there's no over world to explore and you'll never have control of your characters outside of a combat situation. This means that you'll be fighting back to back battles and learning the story through dialogue exchanges before, during, and after combat. There are also quiet moments after you've cleared a battle node where you can view an oftentimes humorous discussion between your party members.

In lieu of equipment, your party management boils down to crafting and equipping dice sets and deck building. Each dice set has six dice and the ones that aren't marked with a lock icon can be upgraded or traded out for a different one if you so choose to.

Crafting is a matter of consolidation. Depending on what die you want to craft, you need to select sets to meet an icon threshold. Please note that the entire set of the dice used to craft will be destroyed, so this is a good way to get rid of low level or cursed dice sets. Sets with cursed red dice can be totally reborn by crafting to replace the negatively effected die.

I don't want to spoil the story, so I'll just comment on the quality of the writing. The story is a bit cliched in some parts, but the exchanges between characters are believable and oftentimes humorous. The narrative is delivered via character dialogue on and off the battlefield with a few still images--hand drawn, by the look of it--sprinkled in. The music is orchestral and suited to the atmosphere, bouncing between quieter, more melancholic tunes and lively, adventurous scores.

.Pros.
  • Battle precision. There's no lucky critical hits because you control (to a degree) exactly how much damage you do to the enemy.

  • The writing is very good, which I feel is important to an RPG.

  • Character design. From your ragtag group of heroes to the elaborate armour the elites' guard dogs wear, every outfit is a detailed, not to mention cool, affair.

  • Deck and dice management are unique and allow for tailoring your gameplay experience.

  • Regular developer support. Cardboard Utopia hears feedback and uses it to make the game better, which is always a huge plus.

.Cons.

  • Long battles. The "us against the world" thing gets old very quickly when it makes battles take longer than they should.

    For battles that don't require you to kill all enemies, you'll be running from point A to point B. This feels far less tactical and more of a headlong rush/lash ditch effort.

  • The grind. I'm no slouch at tactical games, but I still had to go back to the skirmish battles and level up more often than I would have liked because the enemy overpowered me. There's an easier difficulty for those who just want to enjoy the story, but the difficulty wasn't the issue, just the balance between story battles.

.Bottom Line.

Children of Zodiarcs is a solid strategy RPG with unique gameplay elements and an interesting story. It isn't perfect, but with continued support from the developer, it's getting better and better every patch. Personally, I would have liked for there to be more to do between battles, even if it meant going to a battle field and searching for points of interest using the same turn-bases formula, sans enemies, but the game is still fun in short sessions. I recommend this to fans of the genre, though those who aren't as enthusiastic about it may find themselves losing interest.

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Posted September 8, 2017.
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43 people found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
4.1 hrs on record
Its unique art style and interesting premise aside, Memoranda doesn’t have a lot going for it. The nonsensical story, 1-dimensional characters, and lack of direction or a clear idea of what to do next makes for a frustrating—not to mention brief—experience.

The game started out promisingly enough with insomniac Mizuki pacing her room, the source of her affliction, a red-eyed dwarf, vowing that as long as he couldn’t sleep, neither could she. The smooth animation, fully voice acted script, and bizarre, but beautiful artstyle created a distinct atmosphere and I was eager to find out how I’d be able to dispel Mizuki’s demon.

From there, the game makes a nosedive.

https://youtu.be/2xJkTyx5OrI

In typical point and click fashion, your protagonist is given a laundry list of tasks to complete in order to move the plot forward. Memoranda’s journal/quest log of choice called a memoranda and Mizuki updates it when you get something new to do. Unfortunately, she scribbles down personal notes the way one might in their own private journal, meaning that it may or may not make sense to someone other than the person who wrote it while these scribble notes fit in with the game thematically, a lot of them only gave the vaguest sense of what actually needed to be done.

This meant that I spent more time travelling from screen to screen, trying my most recently acquired item on people and trying to combine random items in my inventory.

Even the townspeople, who could have very well have made a helpful suggestion such as “Hey, have you spoken to so-and-so?” just continued to spit out one of their three pre-programmed lines, so they were of no help. I finally broke down and used the only guide posted in the community hub, which is why my playtime is only 4 hours.

One of those four were spent trying not to tear my hair out and the other three were actually spent playing the game with the occasional, infrequent glance at my handy, dandy guide.

In conjunction with the oftentimes obscure memoranda is the story itself. It’s based off of a collection of short stories, so perhaps it’s my own fault for not having read that first, but the game just seemed to be a Frankenstein of parallel story paths that were strangely disjointed, but somehow relevant to the fact that Mizuki had trouble remembering her name.

The dwarf I mentioned earlier, for example, I had assumed had something to do with the missing name, but it turned out that he was just another random weird part of Mizuki’s life. Add to that a near-suicidal man who wants to be a fish, an investigator who is looking for a weirdly human-sized elephant and the runaway man who’s harboring him, a duck doctor who brews mysterious potions, a “dragon”, an opera singing man-cat, a deadbeat who vomits the peanut punch he was so desperate for a war between an army of frogs and a giant worm, a girl who killed herself and feared a monkey would steal her name - the list goes on and the majority of these tangents go on without a resolution.

Instead, you end up with a lot of unanswered questions and the sour taste of “that’s it”? When the credits roll, not too long after the game starts.

If this was an episodic game, fine. The confusion would likely be answered by subsequent chapters. As a completed work, however, Memoranda is like a machine with too many complicated working parts--Some of the parts just don’t function the way they should and instead serve as clutter.

In trying to make this plot complex and many layered, the creator only manages to needlessly convolute the main plot—that is, the problem with Mizuki’s memory—with a bunch of fetch quests and 1-dimensional characters that serve no other purpose than to move the main plotline along.

And that fact shows. The other characters are people who Mizuki’s seems to be very familiar with and as such, it seems that she doesn’t need to explain anything about them other than their name and occupation. The art in Mizuki’s mind, however, nor have we shared any of her 30 years on Earth and so these strangers she chats with so warmly are held at arm’s length and are made stranger still by the fact that we have no idea why we should care about them or their problems.

This utter lack of character development makes the game feel even more like a chore because at no point do you feel empathetic towards any of the characters that appear once, say their peace, and a re never heard from again. There is nothing memorable about them other than the fact that they are strange people or creatures in a strange world--their motivations, likes and dislikes, and what makes them more than a plot device is lost.

Phil is the perfect example of an interesting characters rendered one dimensional by loose ends. He's mentioned early on and, indeed, his story seems to run parallel of Mizuki's because she spends much of the game trying to figure out where he was located and, upon finding him, protecting him from being located by someone investigating the disappearance. After completing a few tasks geared towards helping him become a human, you find out that this weirdly proportioned elephant doesn't actually want to be a human and the man who said he did was actually lying to keep you busy.

Which is insult to injury considering these are clearly fetch quests meant to pad your short game time.

After that, that's it. You don't find out why the elephant has gone missing, why the runaway man is harboring him, or where they end up in the end. You just leave the elephant sitting in an armchair and talking gibberish (apparently elephants speak gibberish) and the man cooking spaghetti. For all of eternity.

The game looks great and the music is quite nice. The voice acting, however, leaves something to be desired. Personally, I found the main character's very noticeable lisp maddening. Other voice actors sounded phoned in--as though they were recorded in a large, echo-y room or passed through some other medium like a phone and then recorded by a device.

.Pros.
  • Music and unique art style
  • A cast of colourful characters and locations to visit.

.Cons.
  • The story is too convoluted for its own good. Multiple story paths lead nowhere, creating a mess of loose ends.
  • The voice acting isn't great. It’s very phoned in, sometimes sounding like the speaker was recorded through some medium then through mic
  • Those interesting characters never get fully fleshed out.
  • Some of the solutions aren’t practical. Why can't I realistically use the world around me rather than having to solve it the ONE way the game wants me to?
  • Very few interactive points in many of game screens. They were pretty, but empty.
  • You spend a lot of time wandering, not knowing you have to backtrack. New ways open and people show up and you don’t even know they’re there. (Can’t talk to people without marker over their heads, which means they serve as props).
  • No way to speed up actions. Interactions have to play out in their entirety. This is a very basic function in most point and clicks.

.Bottom Line.

I found Memoranda to be subpar in terms of story and gameplay elements. Strange is fine, but the disjointed, random events that make up this surreal tale border on the nonsensical and, by the end, you have more questions than answers.

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Posted August 31, 2017. Last edited September 1, 2017.
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46 people found this review helpful
2.1 hrs on record
Downward is a first-person parkour platforming adventure. Traverse a fragmented, post-apocalyptic world and hopefully return things to the way they once were. There’s no combat, so you’ll have to be faster—and smarter—than the automatons that guard ancient secrets.

Disclaimer: it didn’t take me long to decide that Downward wasn’t a game for me—but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad game. If you can live with the issues I list below, chances are you’ll enjoy it. Others who share my preferences, however, may be turned away.

I’ll start with the good.

On one hand, Downward is quite pretty. The remains of buildings are rough and desolate, the water below these floating chunks of land ripples and sparkles in the sunlight, and bright lights and lasers emit from futuristic structures. These pretty backdrops do support exploration and you’ll find locked barriers and the Dry Runes required to open them as well as pickups to upgrade your character simply by roaming about. Exploration requires quite a bit of backtracking, however, as the skills and number of Dry Runes you’ll need to proceed won’t be available to you right away.

Dry Runes are cumulative and can be found in nooks and crannies or even on the ground, in plain sight, but many of them will need to be snatched off the backs of golems, lumbering entities made of stone. Your character cannot fight and so facing off against golems becomes akin to a game of tag where you avoid being struck, either by the swing of a rocky arm or by the rock waves that they kick up by pounding the ground, and wait for your chance to snag a Dry Rune right off of your adversary’s back. You’ll know when a Dry Rune can be plucked because it will change colour.

As you progress, you’ll unlock additional skills to reach previously inaccessible areas and generally make your life easier. The ability to place a sort of homing beacon that you can return to at any time with a click of a button is not only a life saver, but one of the game's strongest aspects. It cuts out some of the frustration of missteps and can pluck you out of harm's way.

.The neutral.

The game is fully voice acted from what I experienced, though there aren't very many characters to encounter in a world on the verge of collapse. The BGM isn't particularly noteworthy and the sound effects do a serviceable job without sounding out of place.

There are also challenges available for those who like to test their skills. There are leaderboards if you’re into that sort of thing and you also get a prize if you can successfully complete your objective.

.The not-so great.

My main issue with the game is the platforming itself--or rather the weightless, floaty feel of leaping from platform to platform. The first person perspective doesn't do the game any favours in making the action seem more... solid. Imagine, if you would, swinging a heavy weapon. When it connects, you expect there to be a nice solid 'thunk' that reaffirms that you've got a huge, powerful weapon in your hands. Parkouring in Downward is like that same situation, only the powerful swing ends in a lackluster 'shik' like you've swung a butter knife instead. It doesn't have the same sort of oomph.

To some, this won't detract from the experience of hurtling high speed from surface to surface, but for others like myself this may result in a weird disconnect.

Here's what I mean:
https://youtu.be/gi-45T82wQc
Parkouring is easy: just hold down right trigger and your character will leap, grab onto, and hoist himself onto surfaces with minimal input (usually just a tilt of the left stick to orient him) from you. In comparison to, say, Assassin's Creed, where you'd hold down one button, then tap another while moving the left stick, these simplified controls are a little lackluster, but they get the job done.

My final complaint is the nature of the collectables--these little glowing orbs that are used to upgrade your character. You pick them up simply by passing over them and they make a pleasant chime. Now the problem arises if you die without saving your game at one of the bells scattered around the game after collecting these orbs: not only will you lose them, they'll also disappear entirely from the map, meaning there's no way to recoup your losses. After a particularly harrowing platforming section or golem fight, this is insult to injury.

(This is usually where I'd list pros and cons, but my personal cons are much more substantial than my pros.)

.Bottom Line.

If you can forgive its shortcomings, Downward is a fun first-person platformer. I can’t comment on the story from what I’ve played, but I can say that it’s nice enough to look at and it performs well. The game isn’t for me, but maybe you’ll enjoy it more than I did.
Posted August 31, 2017. Last edited August 31, 2017.
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18 people found this review helpful
5.0 hrs on record
Rogue Wizards is a solid, beginner's dungeon crawler in which, as the name suggest, you can learn a variety of spells from different elemental alignments. Weapon types are varied and you can switch between the one equipped to your hotbar as you see fit. There are also light city-building element where you can add businesses to your city by rescuing the people who operate them from the dungeons you run and upgrade those businesses by patronizing them.

While its cartoony appearance may suggest a more suggest a more casual gameplay experience, Rogue Wizards is a challenge and easily accessible dungeon crawler in which your weapon choice and play style aren’t dictated by character class, but by user preference. It’s suited and long and, though the story is your typical you’re-a-hero-now-save-the-world affair, it does a good job of keeping you engaged run after run. It doesn’t do anything groundbreaking, but that doesn’t make it a bad game in the slightest.

”You’re a wizard, [insert name here].”

Rogue Wizard throws you right into the action and that first dungeon where you clamber around in the dim depths searching for anywhere that could lead out is a pretty good representation of the rest of your dungeon diving career. When you first enter a dungeon, you can’t see anything beyond your line of sight. Moving about, either with the WASD keys or your mouse, dispels the darkness and fills in your mini-map. As you uncover the rest of the floor, you’ll be greeted by breakable objects, treasure chests, doohickeys of magical origin that allow you to fast-travel between rooms and, of course, monsters.

Once you step into the line of sight of the dungeon’s monster denizens, it's kill or be killed. Combat is turn-based, meaning that using item and spells and changing your equipped weapon takes one turn and you’ll have to wait until all of the other enemies take their turns before moving again.

Your range is decided by the weapon you have equipped and you change them freely by using the corresponding numerical keys. There’s a good variety of both ranged and melee some with their own elemental attributes, so use whatever suits your tastes and the elemental affinity of the monster at hand. Spells can be used regardless of the weapon you have equipped and casting one costs [spell stones] of the corresponding element, and defeating monsters. Monsters also drop keys, which open chests that contain gold, equipment, and spell stones.

One of the more unusual things you can find in dungeons is missing townsfolk. Upon their rescue, they’ll return to home base and set up a business. This light city building element is complimented by the fact that you can upgrade a store and therefore its stock by buying and selling items to gain experience and then by using materials found during your run. You can also find companions, though those are a rarity.

Every dungeons has a hulking boss monster that you must defeat before leaving. These giant beasts will test you skills and keep you on your toes as they will have their own gimmicks that you’ll need to counter in order to fight effectively.
Levelling up awards you with attribute spell points. There are three attributes: strength (increases damage), finesse (increases block chance and your ability to disarm traps found in dungeons), and stamina (increases defense). Spells fall under one five elements—fire, ice, sky, earth, and cosmic—and there are four tiers of spells that can be learned by unlocking the tire proceeding it.

Your equipment can also increase in rank with regular usage and each rank will grant you with an enchantment. They have their own max rank, which means that a weaker piece of equipment can surpass a stronger one depending on its growth limit. Equipment can also be socketed with gems if they have slots available. Gems add useful effects like increased equipment rank and elemental affinity.

.Pros.
  • Quick and easy to pick up gameplay.
  • The shop improvement system allows to upgrade the weapons and armour sold at will--assuming you have the right item.
  • The character models reflect the equipment. A nice touch.
  • Pets are helpful, not merely vanity.

.Cons.
  • Gameplay can get repetitive in large doses.
  • Ranged weapons have a clear advantage over melee due to the skittish nature of enemies.
  • Spell stones are few and far in between at times, limiting your magic usage. Which is fine, but sometimes killing creatures without using their elemental weakness takes forever and a day.
  • The game is slow to start, meaning it'll be entirely too easy until it hits its stride.

Here's a quick gameplay video without commentary: https://youtu.be/6_tyiy5XPL4

.Bottom Line.

If you’re on the market for a title that isn’t too demanding, Rogue Wizards is a good bet. The game is like the starter version for the genre in which you’ll find an amended version of the skill trees, character customization, and other such aspects—so those who seek those gameplay elements should steer clear. As a fan of the genre, I liked what I played, but I can definitely see where there’s room for improvement as far as depth and quality of life.

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Posted August 11, 2017. Last edited August 11, 2017.
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29 people found this review helpful
4.4 hrs on record
Walkerman is a beautifully illustrated fantasy visual novel with adventure game elements. It features an intricately detailed world with its own politics, religion, and social structures, a cast of interesting characters that serve as more than just “villager one” or “guard A”, and unique battle system. The game is slow to start, but the writing will keep you engaged until you actually start Walking.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ixt7uTnF_L4

Keep in mind, however, that this purchase includes the first chapter of the game alone with the second planned to release fall of 2017.

”Take my hand.”

The abominations you hunt as a Walkerman - an individual who patrols the streets at night fighting off the evil that lurks there - shouldn’t be able to speak, but the one that pursues you in the game’s opening arc keeps not only repeating that phrase--It knows your name.

”Jorgen. Take my hand.”

You’re thrown directly into the fray in game and out of it. Jorgen is brand new to the Walkerman scene and as such you’re learning the best way to deal with these creatures right alongside him.

The first few hours of the game are spent talking to the people and setting up the universe. , as it were; establishing a believable, breathing world with residents who are interconnected by the events that unfold.

The writing is a bit heavy handed in terms of new names and vocabulary to learn, so those who aren’t intrigued by the political climate may find themselves skipping forward to Jorgen’s third or fourth day on the job when you start making decisions.

Decisions boil down to one of two situations: social ones which will change the way a character or characters view you and Walkerman related decisions which will affect how you proceed in terms of investigating monsters and the objects you’ll have at your disposal when fighting them.

Investigating your quarry to figure out the rules it follows is a matter of trial and error due to the nature of the game’s objects. All objects in this world have different properties that monsters will respond to based on the rules they follow. For example: if a monster follows the rule that it must face all coins tails side up, then throwing a handful of coins could serve as a lure or a distraction because no matter what, the monster will turn over any coin facing the wrong way.

Every monster will respond differently to different objects, so if you’re in danger, chucking one might mean the difference between life and death.

As a VN on Steam, Walkerman has some of the better writing I’ve encountered. It sets up background and details character interactions well, though it could benefit from a glossary of terms because it relies heavily on context and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the paragraphs of exposition. The art style is detailed and colorful and characters change expression and position accordingly. Characters stand before static backdrops and any change is indicated via text.

The story is unfinished, however, and what you get here is the first of five chapters. Discussions in the forum suggest that the entire story will be completed within the next two years, so if you're unwilling to wait an undefined amount of time between chapters, it may be best to follow the game page and wait for a hopeful season pass once everything is said and done.

I recommend this game based on the quality of the writing and my subsequent willingness to purchase upcoming chapters. They will cost 2.99 USD a pop so that the game as a whole will cost around $20 retail.

.Pros.

  • The writing is great, creating a web of intrigue that encompasses an entirely made up world with its own rules, history, and political/economic climate.

  • The art is nice to look at and the characters expressions change according to the situation.

  • The action-adventure aspect where you use items and rules is unique and interesting. Save often, though, because you can get a premature game over if you slip up.

  • Your choices matter. When you're facing off against a creature of the night, one wrong move means a messy death.

  • This is subjective, but the adult themes really do it for me. This is a world that's falling apart--not because of supernatural forces or some great cataclysm--due to human vice.

.Cons.

  • Subsequent chapters will be released as they are completed. Realistically speaking, this means there are no promises that the game will even be finished as we've seen with like styled releases.

  • Some of the decisions you make don't seem to have an immediate effect. I'm not sure if this means it will change things in subsequent chapters.

.Bottom Line.

If you're willing to wait for subsequent chapters to be released, Walkerman is an easy recommendation to VN enthusiasts and those who love losing themselves in the lore of a fantasy world. Just bear in mind that it could take any number of months before you'll see how this story ends. The game offers something different in terms of action adventure gameplay where you use the properties of items and trial and error to outsmart the creature that's hunting you. The combination results in a heart-pounding situation despite not having any direct control over your character and you'll sit at the edge of your seat as the battle unfolds based on what you've chosen as a result of your investigative work prior to the showdown.

More casual VN fans who like to get straight to the nitty gritty may not enjoy this title as much as there's a lot of build up and exposition before you actually start getting your hands dirty.

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Posted July 21, 2017. Last edited July 21, 2017.
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65 people found this review helpful
8.5 hrs on record
Within the first 20 minutes of playing Agatha Knife, I had learned about a religion based on a Time Lord who rewards you with threats and through whom salvation is bought via cheese, met a trio of... "anatomical saleswomen," one of whom had recently married for money, and conspired to create a made up religion in such a way that dissed all organized religions by revealing them to be business models that prey on the fearful.

https://youtu.be/unP1_rWWGCw

From that moment, I knew this rather provocative title would be something special.

The premise of Agatha Knife is a strange one--rescue your family butcher business by creating a false religion that will bring in animals that are willing to be killed without fear of the titular protagonist--and so when I say that the events leading up to that moment are stranger still, you know that they're, well, strange.

.So You Want to Make Your Own Religion?.

A God.
A sacred text.
A sanctuary.
A martyr.

These are the components of a religion and with the help of your mentor, a man called Awesome Sandro, you must find or create these things in order to make the "perfect lie."
But is there more truth to this lie than your mentor would have you believe?

.Small Town Girl.

The game takes place in Agatha's hometown, which is divided into streets. There is a single off-site area that can be accessed via bus, but for the most part you'll be familiarizing yourself with the businesses in town.

You’ll meet several quirky characters including an angry, sandwich-eating construction worker, a skirt-wearing male wrestler, a Mighty Morphin Megazord (cosplayer)-- and more, but a lot of these quirky characters won’t be essential to the plot. Still, it’s fun to see what they have to say and their limited response pools broaden periodically in correlation with what task Agatha is trying to perform.

Agatha herself will look directly towards the screen and talk to you, breaking the fourth wall and also immersing you in the inane events that unfold. You become her conspirator, the person who understands her best because you're along for the ride.

While the story is one of the more interesting ones I’ve encountered to date, Agatha Knife’s gameplay is quite slow paced. You’ll spend a lot of time walking from one location to another because unlike other point and click adventures -- like, say, Broken Age -- you cannot skip or fast forward through animations or character encounters.
You do have the option to have Sandro teleport you back to the butcher's, but getting anywhere from there is up to your own two feet.

.Logic is a Child Butcher's Best Friend.

The game does not rely on puzzles, so to speak, and as such there are only a few truly puzzling moments. Instead, it asks that you use logic that you find the objects necessary to progress. These objects are stored in Agatha’s bag, which can be accessed by clicking her. Most of the time that means finding an object or objects in order to trade for another that you need. There's a hint system which utilizes tarot cards that, for the most part, points you in the right direction without holding your hand, but on a few occasions the cards are too vague to really be of any help. You'll need to pay attention to people and locations in these situations, an attention to detail that I quite enjoyed.

Most notably, there are a couple of options as to how you can progress. I only realized this after skimming the forums for a solution after getting stuck, but when you need to check out a library book, you have the option to get your photo taken (I won't spoil how you can manage to get money when the entire premise is that you and your mother are very poor) and apply for your own or to borrow your friend's card. This like some dialogue options is just a different path to the same end, but it's still a nice touch.

.Dark Humour.

Mango Protocol has a twisted sense of humour and those who are easily offended should probably steer clear of this title. It presents a satirical look at commonplace problems in modern society such as obesity and religion and pokes fun at them, talking about them in ways that aren't exactly "politically correct." The game dares to communicate what cynics can only think and it does it in such a way that it's utterly hilarious.

There's also quite a bit of violence, which is understandable given that the main objective is to make it so that Agatha's animal friends will willingly go to slaughter. If you're squeamish, the disembowelment that the young Miss Knife takes so much pleasure in may seem distasteful, but it's an entirely necessary part of this absurd world.

.Pros.
  • The attention to detail in the expressions and animations are fantastic.
  • The writing is hilarious. Dark and satirical, but hilarious.
  • Agatha is a likeable character, meaning you’ll WANT to see this journey through to the end.
  • The other characters are colourful and fascinating.
  • The bizarre story dared to do something different and that definitely paid off.

.Cons.
  • The subject matter means that this game isn't suitable for all audiences.
  • The action is slow-paced.

.Bottom Line.
Agatha Knife is well worth a play for those with a wicked sense of humour and a tolerance for violence and gore. Its titular protagonist is the violent, sarcastic little sister that you never knew you wanted and the game does an excellent job of presenting the world from a child's perspective. From beginning to end, the bizarre events will keep and hold your interest and, for someone who no longer has enough time to finish her games, that's a definite plus.

If you found this review helpful, please give it a thumbs-up. For more reviews like this one follow the NeedtoKnow Gaming Curator page <3
Posted July 8, 2017. Last edited July 8, 2017.
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