20
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2770
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Recent reviews by Movac

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Showing 1-10 of 20 entries
No one has rated this review as helpful yet
0.0 hrs on record
Journey to Rooted Hold is the second game in the DROD series, and this is where it goes from good to great. Beethro's story technically started in the plot-light King Dugan's Dungeon, but JtRH begins the main plot threads that would be expanded in The City Beneath and come to a satisfying conclusion in The Second Sky. That and the excellent puzzle design make this the best DROD to play next after finishing Gunthro and the Epic Blunder.

Puzzle design took a huge leap forward in this hold compared to King Dugan's Dungeon, partly because the architects had more experience and partly because JtRH introduced some important new elements, some of which would rarely be used again in future official holds. The two defining features of JtRH are an ally and a villain: Beethro's nephew Halph, who plays an important part in the story and helps you by opening doors, and the nearly unkillable Slayer, who needs to be carefully manipulated and avoided as you clear rooms.

The third most distinctive addition to JtRH is bombs. They're used in a number of creative designs, and quite often as a timer. Many rooms have you light a fuse as you enter, then demand that you clear the room before the bomb explodes. This kind of turn limit demands a more aggressive style of play than King Dugan's Dungeon let you get away with. At times the limits may be a little too strict, but I always found it an enjoyable challenge.

This is the peak of the classic tactics style of DROD architecture in official holds. That alone makes it a must-play for DROD fans, even without the story. Starting with The City Beneath (or earlier, counting Smitemaster's Selections), DROD puzzles would begin to take a minimalist approach that demands intricate manipulation of fewer moving parts.
Posted June 18.
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No one has rated this review as helpful yet
0.0 hrs on record
If you're looking at this, I assume you played Gunthro and the Epic Blunder and want more DROD. Good news: there's a lot more DROD. This just might not be the best place to start.

King Dugan's Dungeon is a remade version of the original Deadly Rooms of Death, which dates back all the way to 1996. It's also the same hold that's available for free as "DROD: Architect's Edition," though this version is much improved from those previous forms. The core mechanics and puzzles haven't been changed, but while upgrading it to the current DROD engine plenty of nice features have been added. It uses the current graphics, sound and music for starters, making it much more aesthetically pleasant. Some secret rooms were added, it has checkpoints and full undo, some rooms were made easier to re-traverse after being cleared, and most importantly there are now a huge number of room-specific challenges, each of which is tied to a Steam achievement.

The hold itself, despite its place as the original, is easily the least essential of the 5 main official holds. Elements like bombs and pressure plates that would shake up puzzle design in later DRODs hadn't yet been invented. KDD more than any other official hold focuses on the core combat-puzzle mechanics, with room after room of simple fights, especially on the first few levels. In the original DROD release, checkpoints and undo didn't exist, which meant you had to plan ahead during fights to avoid having to start the room over. Choosing to play like that can still be challenging, though not in the way modern DROD players tend to prefer. Playing with checkpoints and undo makes a lot of the game trivial.

I found when replaying KDD in this release that the challenges were the most enjoyable part. Their added restrictions turn many basic combat rooms into real, interesting puzzles. If you choose to play through KDD, I highly recommend trying to complete whatever challenges look interesting.

Ultimately King Dugan's Dungeon is a primitive version of a series that would grow to do bigger and better things. But its historical importance is undeniable, and if you buy the "Original Trilogy" DLC bundle with the two amazing sequels it's practically free. Is it worth practically free? Absolutely.
Posted June 17.
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No one has rated this review as helpful yet
4.1 hrs on record
A smart grid-based puzzle game with a smooth difficulty curve and a steady drip of interesting new mechanics. Magnibox never gets as intricate or difficult as games like Snakebird or Baba Is You, so you're not likely to get stuck on any puzzle for too long. The pixel art is simple and colorful, the tunes are bouncy, and the whole experience is all-around pleasant. A good way for casual or serious puzzle fans to spend a few hours.
Posted May 14. Last edited May 14.
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2 people found this review helpful
9.4 hrs on record
Octahedron is another Concept Platformer, and its concept is this: what if you could hit a button to spawn a platform under your feet? It pulls hours of great vertically-scrolling platforming from that premise with constantly inventive mechanics and level design. Levels are constantly introducing fun new elements like platforms that toggle solidity each time you spawn a platform, or enemies that try to jump you from below, pushing the platform you're on to the ceiling. Each level feels distinct and is built for replay, with medals available for beating a level with all collectibles, without dying, below a par time, and below par platform spawns. Reaching the end of Octahedron is within the grasp of any platformer fan, and the medals are a wonderful extra challenge for dedicated players. Meeting platform pars is especially fun, asking you to work out the most efficient paths through each level.

My biggest complaint with Octahedron has to do with the final challenge. The lead-up to the end is a lot of fun, handing you a power-up you've been wanting since the start of the game and giving you a gauntlet of fast-paced levels to use it. But the very last level changes up the formula for the worse. Without going into spoilers, I'll just say that while it's not too difficult, I believe it's too chaotic. It's just not as interesting as all the carefully-crafted level design up to that point. But while that's a disappointment to end on, it's a small part of the game.
Posted March 31.
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6 people found this review helpful
43.8 hrs on record
Copy Kitty is one of the most outstanding action games on Steam. In the 24+ hours I've spent with it so far, it's constantly found new ways to surprise and delight me, from big things like multi-phase boss fights that escalate farther than you could expect, to little things like smart context-sensitive dialog.

Combining powers is more than a gimmick, it gives you a huge flexible toolkit to overcome the chaotic levels you're faced with. Especially on hard mode, I often found that a situation that seemed unfair at first could be blown through with a carefully-chosen weapon combo.

Speaking of hard mode, Nuclear Strawberry went above and beyond in making the extra playthrough worthwhile. Dialog is all-new, levels are revamped, there are even new enemy and boss varieties. It's a proper second loop that finishes the story.

The two playable characters here could hardly be more different. Boki, the game's star, runs and jumps like a platformer. She has a double jump (on the floaty end but it feels right), a roll with invincibility frames, and a kick that does respectable damage (and blocks projectiles). Her power combos lean bombastic and are built from up to 3 of 10 base elements picked up from fallen foes. Savant, on the other hand, flies like a shooter. He fires combos of up to 2 elements from floating 'bits' that you can move in different ways depending on the powers you've chosen. This makes up for his lower base health with the ability to fight from safety with trick shots. Each character's path through story mode on each difficulty has different level layouts and altered bosses to support the different play styles, so ultimately there's 4 unique paths through a story mode that was respectably long to begin with.

I've only dipped my toes into the endless mode, but it's way more than a simple wave arena. It has a cool level generation system with a Lumines-style sweeping line that constantly reshapes the arena while you play. There are unique bosses, enemy types, hazards, and stage types that don't show up in story mode. The mechanics in Copy Kitty deserved this good a free-form sandbox. And with a powerful level editor and Steam Workshop support, I expect to keep playing Copy Kitty for a long time.

The look of Copy Kitty is a combination of cute creatures and cyber excess that reminds me of the later Mega Man X games, in a good way. It looks busy in screenshots, but the constantly moving environment art feels right for the dynamic action.

I can understand why some reviewers felt that the story is lightweight. It is set in a VR training simulation after all, which limits the stakes. But I grew to enjoy the interactions between Boki and Savant, and there's to be a fair bit of worldbuilding fun around the edges if you care to look.
Posted July 14, 2018.
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No one has rated this review as helpful yet
1.6 hrs on record
Where many retro-style games copy the aesthetics of mainstream 8 or 16-bit consoles, MURI carefully recreates the experience of a circa-1990 shareware DOS platformer. Graphics are limited to the garish EGA palette, bleep-bloop sound effects imitate the PC Speaker, and the one concession to modernity is the option to play at 32 FPS instead of the authentic default of 16. It even moves like an old Apogee platformer, with jumps that feel both stiff and precise. If you don't get a nostalgia hit, MURI will likely seem too archaic to enjoy. If you're into it, though, I'm happy to say that MURI is actually quite a good game on its own merit. If you don't believe me, try the demo.

MURI's level design is more varied and focused than in the games that inspired it. Secrets are smartly telegraphed, and enemy encounters demand that you switch up your approach. Many DOS platformers had sprawling levels to explore, but MURI's more compact approach is denser with memorable moments.

The plot was my biggest surprise, in a genre where excuse plots are typical. A science-fiction story with personal stakes and massive scope, it would suit an RPG but was squeezed into a handful of fairly brief cutscenes. The way it was told dampened the story's impact, and I'd have liked to see it expanded.
Posted June 14, 2018.
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No one has rated this review as helpful yet
3.1 hrs on record
After my first hour with Swarmlake (spent in short but intense sessions), I think it might just be the best micro-scale arcade game since Super Hexagon. It plays so fast and fluid that, like Super Hexagon, you quickly need to learn to play by feel. Precise movement, a forgiving hitbox, and excellent directional audio cues (wear headphones!) make it feel fair despite the overwhelming number of enemies. When the swarm grows large enough, it feels like a single giant entity with its own alien behaviors. Fighting it isn't the circle-strafing tedium of bad arena shooters, you need to constantly shift your approach in response to its behavior, scanning for weak points, rushing in and back out when you spot an explosive red orb you can reach. I expect I'll be coming back to Swarmlake for a long time.
Posted June 3, 2018.
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1 person found this review helpful
4.5 hrs on record
WE ARE DOOMED looks like another Geometry Wars clone, or a Robotron clone for you old-school folks out there. Twin-stick score-attack shooting against waves of swarming enemies in a rectangular arena, yawn, seen it. But look, if you still think there's life in the sub-genre (or if you wish there was), you must play WE ARE DOOMED.

It hits you first with the look. The simple, colorful shapes look a bit flat in screenshots, but come alive when they fill your screen in motion. And, importantly for an arcade game, the action is always instantly readable through all the chaos.

The real smarts in WE ARE DOOMED's design take a bit more play to come through. The SUPERBEAM system is a simple bit of genius, almost too simple to notice, so I'll unpack it here. Pickups spawn semi-randomly around the arena, often in inconvenient places. Each pickup charges your SUPERBEAM. When the meter is full, you can unleash it to (1) temporarily replace your ordinary beam with one that reaches across the arena and tears through enemies in an instant, (2) multiply your score gains for the length of the effect, and (3) gain a brief moment of invulnerability. Pickups disappear quickly, though, so you may need to carve your way through a horde of enemies to grab one. If you try to play conservatively and avoid hard pickups, not only do you miss out on score opportunities, you end up without enough firepower to keep the arena clear.

The risk/reward tension of the SUPERBEAM system gives a session of WE ARE DOOMED the close-range enemy-dodging frantic fun of late-game Geometry Wars for almost its entire length. This pacing improvement over similar games, combined with plenty of polish and generally thoughtful design, makes WE ARE DOOMED my favorite coffee-break shooter. I hope to see you on the leaderboards!
Posted May 1, 2018. Last edited May 1, 2018.
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No one has rated this review as helpful yet
4.9 hrs on record
This little twin-stick run-and-gun is overflowing with enthusiasm. A refugee from the defunct XBox Live Indie Games service, it has the slightly rough polish and short runtime (about an hour) common on that platform, but it makes up for that in spirit and explosions. It's not short on fun, either: the kinda chunky mech control reminds me of an updated Metal Warriors, and nailing bank shots with the fancy grenades always feels great. Normal difficulty is a fun ride, and the two modes above it provide plenty of challenge, demanding skillful use of indirect shots and your recharging shield. It's simple, it's silly, it's cheap, pick it up and blast some aliens.
Posted April 30, 2018.
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No one has rated this review as helpful yet
6.7 hrs on record
Rakuen is a lovely, funny, clever, pretty, heart-wrenching adventure with good songs. Its puzzles don't add much, and it's stuck with an awkward RPG Maker UI, but I found those flaws easy to look past. I recommend Rakuen to anyone who isn't too cynical to cry at Pixar movies.
Posted April 24, 2018.
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Showing 1-10 of 20 entries