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Recent reviews by silversuriv

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1 person found this review helpful
7.2 hrs on record (1.7 hrs at review time)
What You Need to Know

Billion Road is a pretty fun board game. Any combination of 4 players (Local/Online, Human/CPU) can get together and compete, individually, to become the richest player in Japan. There are 3 main game modes: Skirmish, Free Play, and Tournament. A "short" 3-Year (36 turn) Skirmish game will take approximately 1.5 hours to complete on your first try, with a handful of events sprinkled within. In Free Play, you are free to make the game last as long as you want. In Tournament (Single Player), the lowest ranked player will be eliminated every 5 Years (60 turns), ending after 30 Years (360 Turns). At the moment, online lobbies are sparse, so expect to play with CPUs if you're not bringing friends along.

Board Game Elements

Each turn, a player is allowed to use an item, move, and perform a special action if applicable during an event. The various tiles include Plus/Minus, Property, Item, and Monster. There are variants of these tiles but what defines this game are the Property and Monster tiles. Properties allow you to purchase properties that will net you revenue at the end of the year. These properties can be sold or damaged due to special Followers (based on events) or Nemeses; however, maintaining properties will help keep your total asset value high when things start getting crazy. Such as the Malison or Debt Boy halving your on-hand cash each turn, etc. Monsters are valuable workers, which you can keep three of at any time, that have special passive or active abilities that can help turn things your way. Some of these abilities include: allowing a re-roll on the dice, reducing the value of a Minus punishment, firing a worker of an enemy player, etc. These abilities can be used as long as the Monster is "healthy," with a reduction in health each time an ability is used. When fully tired, the ability is locked off until you land on a heal tile, or a heal effect is used to pep them back up.

Billion Road manages to utilize their game mechanics well with features to keep the gameplay cycle from getting too samey or monotonous each playthrough. These include Nemeses that are bosses in a sense that requires the attention of all players to deter. There is also a Monster Island that houses some of the best Workers in the game if you are willing to take a detour to pick them up. Goal properties and secret bonuses are also provided to create an incentive to move players towards a particular direction or area of the map. And btw, the map is pretty big.


Overall, it's too hard for me to honestly say whether Billion Road is worth its price tag with so few hours in the game, but fortunately, I definitely enjoyed what I played so far and plan to play a lot more. A major thing to keep in mind is that although online lobbies are a thing, due to the low population count, I wouldn't necessarily bank on finding a full group of randoms to fill out your game. Accept playing with CPUs, at least for now. Although they do make some questionable moves at times, the game does provide CPUs with varying difficulty to fit anyone's playstyle. There may be a slight learning curve at first but it can be overcome quickly. I definitely recommend this game to fans of party-type board games.

No Commentary, Complete Playthrough


Before You Buy – analyses of newly released indie games
Posted April 16, 2020. Last edited April 17, 2020.
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12 people found this review helpful
6.3 hrs on record
School of Hidden Gems

You play as Kotaro, a lucky winner of a lottery for a scholarship and admittance into an academy of the Talented - people with extraordinary and magical gifts. There, he becomes the outlier, the only person without a single special power. This slice of life, mostly-voiced kinetic VN allows you watch Kotaro's relationship with his friends and love interest develop. Note that there is only one route/romance option - Suzu.

Be warned that there are tons of super clichéd and cringy situations here without imaginative dialogue or narration to cover them up. Kotaro, the weak nobody, has a major crush on the most powerful girl in school, the head of the White Lilies dorm. In a sequence of eye-rolling events every otaku will see a mile away, there will be some surprises that'll at least bring a laugh or two. Naturally, there will be a locker room scene, a bathing scene, and a summer festival, but this has become a welcomed norm in school VNs/anime for a very long time so I can't imagine anyone not expecting that. One surprise in this novel, an underutilized fan favorite in my opinion, is the crowd-pleasing body swap chapter.

The gameplay can be a bit rough at times with random untranslated lines and menu-language issues, but nothing was jarring enough to become critical, just a bit immersion breaking. The music and sound effects are relatively generic, and the artwork is more down-to-earth so to speak, with very simplistic backgrounds in most cases (CGs do look good though). Furthermore, there aren't that many CGs/camera pans with overt pandering to fanservice, maybe only a few - take that how you will. Instead you will mostly find fanservice in the very suggestive dialogue and people's reactions, but I find that much more enjoyable than generic hyper boob VNs. Everyone has their own tastes so I'm not going to judge, just inform.

It did seem unfortunate that although the setting is in an elite school of "special powers" (magic), everything is too ordinary and mundane. There's nothing technologically advanced, occult-like, or magical in sight. Even though there are magical duels, there are no graphics, animations or even CGs of the magic itself. Just a lightbulb flash here or there with a couple sound effects, making me feel like the game is shying away from the visual aspect of being a visual novel.

What further shines a light on this problem is that the writing is fairly weak during the duels, devoid of artistic imagery or smooth transitions. When you couple that with absentee magic illustrations/animations, we end up with drab special talent duels. Fortunately, the school life aspect of the game (which comprises the bulk of SoT) is much more interesting and prevalent than the magical duels aspect.

What really made the game stand out was the voice acting, hands down. The VO added lively personality traits that the script could not and solely carried my engagement and attachment to the cast. In the beginning of the game, we secretly catch Suzu singing and it was really jaw dropping. It made a really strong impression which carried itself throughout the game. Wait until you can hear the entire song with accompaniment - its ASMR levels of amazing. Afterwards we meet Otake, a perverted dorm mate who’s Talent is Eroticidence, and Mayu, a masochistic stalker that can turn invisible. Although these descriptions make them seem very amusing to watch, it's their voice acting that really sells the part. SoT has some colorful characters, and even though there were many common tropes and rushed situational developments, I somewhat miss the goofballs now that everything is over.

Complete [Early Access] Walkthrough Playlist



With a little more love, polish, and some script re-writing, School of Talent can be a really amazing VN for its price. The voice acting and character traits are just that good. Even in its current state, SoT is still a worthwhile adventure. I've played some very aggressively average VNs on steam, many costing more than this game, but I haven't run into any with voice acting (especially ones that are this well done) at a similar price point. This makes it easy for me to recommend School of Talent to any VN fan looking for a casual, albeit rough, kinetic novel.

Note: the devs are open to a possibility of releasing other routes as separate games. I really hope they do, as long as they can maintain the great voice acting.

Press copy provided by MyDearest

Before You Buy – analyses of newly released indie games
Posted February 18, 2017. Last edited February 23, 2017.
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15 people found this review helpful
7.5 hrs on record
Neat, Novel, & New

Having slogged through so many puzzle games recently, Causality managed to reinvigorate my interest in isometric puzzles with its novel time manipulation mechanic. This bittersweet feature will have you pulling your hair out as you try to navigate multiple characters through time paradoxes, butt loads of switches, death traps, enemies, teleporters and more. This 60 level pit of glory and frustration is sure to provide veteran puzzle solvers a unique and tough challenge.

Playing With Time

Starting out, Causality’s time manipulation seems to be just a glorified rewind mechanic. Initially, clickable directional tiles are the major challenges, populating the levels to help redirect oblivious, auto-moving astronauts to their destinations. As you progress, crazier obstacles will be added, compounding to create some semblance of difficulty. Several levels later, you’ll be crying when you see spatial teleporter tiles. What makes these tiles so unique is that they aren’t quite teleporters in a traditional sense. Causality provides a clone image that will eject from the teleporter’s exit before you actually step onto the teleporter’s entrance. Sometimes the clone will eject 3 spaces before the original enters, while precise finagling may get the clone to eject 10 or more spaces ahead of time. This clone is essentially a fully-fleshed character that is free to interact with anything. Naturally, you may be thinking that it’s odd to create a clone if you haven’t entered the teleporter yet. What if you decide not to go into the teleporter after positioning your clone? In adherence to the law of time and space travel, in agreement with any logical thinker, Causality will erase the clone if you decide not to commit to the teleporter. Furthermore, the game’s leeway with the time you get to spend with two copies of one astronaut may lead to a time paradox – a situation where both copies (original and clone) head towards the teleporter entrance.

At the bottom of every level is a nodal timeline, outlining how many steps you have remaining to get to the goals. The timeline also notes the points at which certain traps or static hazards will activate. One of the biggest uses of the timeline is determining the beginning and end of a teleporter “feedback” loop – how many steps you have with your clone before the original disappears. In addition, the complex nature of teleporters will, more often than not, suddenly create clones in the middle of the level while you are altering directional tiles. The timeline helps visualize things and allow you to go back to the point at which the clone spawns on the teleporter exit.

Complete Gameplay Walkthrough Playlist
Do NOT refer to this walkthrough unless you’ve tried everything; it’d definitely ruin the fun.



From what I can remember, the majority of the levels will be relatively easy (YMMV), able to be completed within minutes. A bulk of the levels will take a bit longer to solve, upwards of 15 minutes or more depending on whether you can or can’t see a viable path. The remaining handfuls/bonus levels will take quite a while – they doubled/tripled my overall playtime, and I still haven’t completed every bonus level (I got stuck on the final level for ~3 hours until I was spoonfed a path). These devious levels are extremely much more complex than the standard levels.

Although I really enjoy the teleporters, they unfortunately seem to be the only true time-manipulating challenge. I definitely wish there were others, like something similar to Ratchet & Clank’s Time Puzzles, but for such a neat and novel game, I can’t find too much fault here. A part of me wants to recommend this game to others just so they can experience the hellish levels I managed to overcome, but setting my ego aside, Causality is much more than its mind-wracking torture. The colorful backgrounds create an immersive experience and an optional color-blind mode adds some nice polish too. This makes it easy for me to recommend Causality to any fans of novel puzzle games.

Press copy provided by Loju

Before You Buy – analyses of newly released indie games
Posted February 3, 2017. Last edited February 3, 2017.
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7 people found this review helpful
4.9 hrs on record
What would you do if you really wanted to imprison some people that irked you? Obviously, you would scour their Facebook, Twitter, and eHarmony profiles to gather evidence of corroboration between them and terrorist activist cells. Atleast that’s how Osmotic Studios would do it. Although it may be a bit of a crude hyperbole, that is essentially what you will be doing in Orwell, the fascinating game where you play as Big Brother in an effort to keep The Nation safe and discover the culprits behind the recent bombing events in the capital city.

Privacy vs Security

Other than being the author of 1984, the story where this game gets many of its motifs from, Orwell is rebirthed as a new governmental security program created to maintain order and reduce crime in a totalitarian country called, The Nation. Being an all-encompassing program with no bounds in breaking personal privacy, Orwell has the ability to retrieve: medical records, user submitted online information, bank statements, school records, mobile device data, telephone calls, chat room conversations, and pc device data. Your role in ensuring the safety of The Nation is in the capacity of an investigator, one who has authority to utilize the Orwell mainframe as an unbiased outsider to The Nation. As an investigator, you must sift through all of the information Orwell retrieves to discover and submit “relevant” datachunks to your immediate supervisor. What you deem relevant will shape the futures of the suspects under investigation, so take great care in deciding what to submit to Orwell.

Gameplay-wise, Orwell’s UI behaves much like an internet browser with three major utilities: the Reader, Listener, and Insider. These utilities allow you to pull up internet-related articles, tap into phone calls or chat conversations, or remote control mobile/PC devices respectively. Throughout the countless scripts of text provided by the articles or conversations, datachunks are automatically highlighted, and notifications beside specific entries where datachunks are present help guide the player towards progression. Some datachunks will be relatively useless, such as a person’s favorite color, but others will be extremely relevant to the case. Chunk by chunk, you will eventually develop fully-fleshed profiles to aid you in determining who the next person of interest is until the final culprit is found.

License to Know

Using Orwell's features is the crux of the game, letting you slowly form your own opinion on who may be innocent or an accomplice, all while unraveling deeper motivations about the suspects and influential figures around you and Orwell. When you think you've cleanly profiled someone, post-incident reports will reveal multiple perspectives with conflicting beliefs that you may have never even thought of. As each episode focuses on a different character, everyone feels really well developed and sharply defined by disparate personalities and lifestyles. In addition, the more you learn about one thing, the less confident you will feel about another.

Although the detective aspect of the game begins off strong, it unfortunately slowly undermines itself due to the fact that every clue is essentially hand-fed to the player. Since notifications of datachunks are provided, what ended up seeming to be a neat and helpful feature to ensure that I can progress without too much trouble began to feel like a massive crutch. This created an extremely casual playstyle where I was really just along for the ride. Don't get me wrong, it is still one great journey, but the immersiveness could have been kicked up a notch by providing players a serious investigative challenge. For example, if all notifications and highlighted entries were removed, it would definitely force me to care much more about the seemingly mundane or extraneous text for fear of relevancy. Finding the clues could be as "simple" as manually highlighting useful data. The supervisor continued to nag me about looking for X, finding X, learning more about X, but eventually the clues led me there without trying anyways. I felt like I might as well just speed-read anything without highlighted text in it to quickly move on.

In addition, certain clues must be fed to Orwell to proceed, even if I wanted to exclude it. The game seems to make a big deal about being careful what to upload to the mainframe, so why force me to make choices like that. Maybe I'm inclined to believe X is innocent, but to proceed, I must upload information that X has a military background in order to create clearance for investigation. Having this feature further supports the casual mindset of submitting anything that is highlighted and diminishes the need to read everything or even care. Don’t get me wrong, the game still provides the players with a fair amount of control, since the endings are vastly different and minor paths will affect the outcome of certain suspects, but I definitely did not welcome the need to have milestone/checkpoint datachunks for progression.

The datachunk system still has some pretty neat features though, most notably in regards to data conflicts. At these moments, two conflicting statements are uncovered and only one can be submitted. You will essentially provide info that you want your supervisor to act upon. Ex. "I heard X was home last night....[phone conversation]" vs "Me and X had a blast at the concert last night [social networking site]." What you choose will relatively dictate what will happen to X. These conflicts returned a little bit of control taken away with the abovementioned checkpoint chunks.

Complete Walkthrough Playlist



At first, Orwell seemed to have been just a more interactive visual novel or point & click game, but certain scripted scenes suddenly thrust me into Orwell's world, making me experience the exact same feelings a tech-savvy security investigator would be facing. Times where I would suddenly lose access to Orwell's mainframe, experience a cyber-attack, discover life-threatening secrets or aid Orwell during an active escape attempt. I found myself making motions and exasperations my virtual counterpart would most likely make, and the intense emotions I felt during these moments are something that would be highly difficult to forget as I walk away from the game. I can't recall any visual novels or point & clicks that have made me feel so involved in its world, seemingly shaping the final conclusion to the story.

Even though I have some gripes with Orwell’s progression and datachunk systems, the game is a far cry from being a failure at its attempt to tell a captivating story with novel methods. It isn’t easy for a game to present information in such a way to draw strong opinions from the players, yet manage to continually make their beliefs sway back and forth. The developers, however, knew how to create false trails, dead ends, probable causes and multiple motivations yet skew them towards a believable conclusion. Furthermore, scripted moments that nearly broke the fourth wall created a unique sense of immersion and relatability. This makes it very easy for me to recommend Orwell to any fan of story-centric narratives or spy games. If you’re still on the fence about this game, try the demo. It is free and contains the entire first episode - and it only gets better from there.

Press copy provided by Surprise Attack

Before You Buy – analyses of newly released indie games
Posted January 21, 2017. Last edited January 23, 2017.
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10 people found this review helpful
1.8 hrs on record
Neat, Cheap, & New

Fearful Symmetry introduces a new approach to novelty maze puzzles. Alongside navigating a protagonist through standard obstacles any veteran spelunker would scoff at, you must ensure the survival of his mirrored counterpart who travels in symmetrical moves. The two characters start at opposite sides of the maze and each input will move both at the same time. What starts off unique and novel begins to feel a bit outmoded due to the game’s inability to fully utilize the symmetry aspect, but don't let that stop you in trying out this neat gem.

Fearful Hitboxes

For the most part, FS feels fun to play in the earlier levels, wracking that brain to solve curious dilemmas. As the levels progress, the developer’s deviousness comes into play where traps are placed on the exact location one would normally assume that it’s safe. Spikes, pits, projectiles, and timed death tiles (ghosts, death marks, etc.) comprise the bulk of the puzzles, but a couple surprises keep the intensity up for a short while. These include enemy statues that mirror your twin’s moves and zombie hands that are activated only when you are adjacent to it. In addition, critical thinking comes into play when you are forced to use certain objects to offset the characters’ paths or backtrack when the goal is so close. Although the traps will compound together to create chaotic mazes, the lack of more synergistic effects keeps FS from becoming something better.

Unfortunately, my enjoyment for the final levels is starkly different from the previous ones. This is mostly due to moving away from a puzzle-centric ideal towards a runner design. Even if I showed you the solution/run for the final levels (included in the playlist below), it will still take a lot of practice to finagle your way across the maze. It becomes more about luck and timing than about logic and puzzle solving. The main culprit of this is the extremely tight hitboxes.

Complete Walkthrough Playlist



I definitely want more of FS in a sequel where the levels aren’t locked in a specific size with really synergistic obstacles (levers, locked doorways, chests, consumable items, skills/spells/weapons, etc.). Until that happens, any puzzle lover that is looking for something different has come to the right place. For such a cheap and innovative puzzle game, it’s hard to deny its effort in providing a worthwhile experience, albeit a short one.

Note: the options are pretty bare with an overall lack of polish as seen in an absence of an in-game exit option, windowed-only mode, and issues with achievements unlocking (just implemented today), but these issues are minor enough, for me at least, to let slide.

Before You Buy – analyses of newly released indie games
Posted January 19, 2017. Last edited January 23, 2017.
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40 people found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
0.2 hrs on record
Waiting Simulator

Here I am browsing Steam delighted that another cute anime game was just released for cheap. After a nice surprise from my most recent blind purchase, Hell Girls, I thought that I couldn’t go wrong on a $0.66 (on sale) purchase…

In comes Anime! Oi history!, one of the jankiest VNs I have ever had the displeasure to click through. After finishing off my first, and most likely final, run of this game at around 11 minutes, I was left pretty surprised. From what I can recall, most of my time in-game was spent waiting. Just sitting and glaring at 10 second transitions as the next backdrop slowly (............................................... you get my point) fades in. Worse, a couple scenes forced me to literally wait as a part of the story. “Knock knock” …… [wait 30 seconds] ……. The final scene makes you wait some more, letting you choose whether you would like to wait 1, 2, or 3 (un-skippable) minutes.

Rough as Nails

Getting back to the game’s severely unpolished nature, every aspect in Anime! Oi history! was found to be a bit lacking. The character assets have pixelated outlines (in full-screen, no windowed mode), the music is too loud, the options are extremely bare (save, load, hide message screen, skip, return to title), and the script is comprised of one grammar mistake after another. Clearly not native in English, the developer(s) seemed to have slopped down some dialogue and thrown it into Google Translate or something. I’m pretty forgiving when it’s related to translation issues since I can work out the gist of things and I’d rather have a Western port of a game than no port at all (applicable to bigger games), but this homebrew project is just a bit too much. Furthermore, when the game abruptly ends, the window is minimized and the current audio track gets added onto the beginning audio track as you stare at the title screen in disbelief with two garbled tracks playing.

What About the Story?

Two girls go looking for someone, visit a couple places, waits, and finds him/her/it/whatever. I understand most games can be crudely summarized into one line with no lively effect, but that’s how I felt about the game.

Complete Walkthrough


$0.66 - $1 for an anime game with trading cards is a strong incentive for many people (there’s not much to be lost here), but don’t expect anything worthwhile from the game.

Before You Buy – analyses of newly released indie games
Posted January 19, 2017. Last edited January 23, 2017.
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10 people found this review helpful
1.0 hrs on record
1708 Achievements in One Hour!

Zup! 3, the newest installment in the minimalistic puzzle series was just released with 1708 achievements. With such an insane boost to any collector’s count, and at such a low cost, this game is pretty much an insta-buy. I can probably guarantee that 80% of the people checking the reviews right now are just wondering how easy and how long it will take to get them all. The answer is: super easy, and most likely under an hour (upwards to 2 hours depending on skill).

Those Missing Achievements

In fact, the achievements are so easy to get, there are probably only a handful of moments where there wasn’t an achievement getting unlocked. With 77 levels to play through, the achievement requirements basically include: opening/beating all levels, clicking anywhere, restarting levels, and finding specific symbols/shapes “hidden” (in plain sight) throughout the levels. The Discussions are starting to get flooded with questions of missing achievements.

Hint: some of the symbols are obvious, some will require some "needless" exploding.
Hint 2: take another look around levels: F, L, S, 2, <, [.

What About the Game?

Regarding the gameplay, I’ve actually found it to be somewhat enjoyable, much more than other cheap cash grabs on Steam, but something expected for a single dollar title. This physics based puzzle game revolves around clicking explosion blocks to propel hardened blocks/ball(s) to a goal platform. The physics is oddly satisfying, since there is an order to the madness. Blocks will magically land in such a way (skewed, angled, stacked, blocked, etc.) to get the ball to the goal. Most of the levels do require a little bit of timing, so it isn't just a monotonous slog, but there isn’t anything real challenging here. There are definitely a few cheeky levels thrown in there for the dev to have some fun too.

Complete Walkthrough


Before You Buy – analyses of newly released indie games
Posted January 12, 2017. Last edited January 23, 2017.
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7 people found this review helpful
5.8 hrs on record
Investigator of the Paranormal

Adam Wolfe, supernatural PI and scruffy do-gooder, just cannot get a break. Trying to uncover the whereabouts of his missing sister, case after case of unholy paranormal activity manages to find their way into Wolfe’s way. Fire demons, immortals, banshees, and time manipulators are just some of the things he will come to face on the journey to save Allie.

Wolfe’s HOPA

At its core, Adam Wolfe is a hidden object puzzle adventure. For those unfamiliar with the niche genre, understand that HOGs, especially modern ones, strongly adhere to the same formula regarding game design. If you’ve played one AM game, you’ve played them all. There are only so many ways HOG designers create their puzzles, and long-term HOPA veterans have no problems breezing through every game. To be fair, nearly all HOPAs cater to the casual community and many games include gameplay options to allow one to customize how casual or hardcore to make their gaming experience; either way, don’t expect a challenge. There is a hint button after all. Regarding the story, it will always be some grandiose adventure filled with supernatural beings. Otherwise, it will be some sort of themed setting/series of games (vampires, demons, haunted houses, mythology, etc.). Nothing tame, mundane, or ordinary.

You may be wondering, “Well what’s the point?” The thing is that HOGs are mostly hit or miss. If you like it, most likely you will end up loving it. Many HOG fans are die-hard fans. Always craving for more puzzles, even if they’re only reskinned or exactly the same, just like me. If you are a fan of HOGs and HOPAs in general, you will absolutely be very familiar with the style of play, artwork, puzzles, and HOGs present. What makes Adam Wolfe different from many AM games here on Steam is that Wolfe is much more cinematic than its competition. There’s more of everything in AW: cut scenes, fully-voiced dialogue, comic-book style transitions, etc. This leads to a much more memorable story and immersive gameplay. It’s also nice that there aren’t potato quality video transitions in between beautiful scenery landscapes.

Complete Walkthrough Playlist



As a modern release, the artwork is crisp and beautiful, and the game has a large sense of polish. I’m still unsure about how I feel regarding the game’s ending since some issues are left hanging, but with a strong allusion to a sequel (along with its more cinematic aproach), it is fairly easy to recommend this game. If you’re just another HOG junkie making sure this game isn’t a total burn, it isn’t, and you should go ahead and indulge yourself. Just beware that unlike most HOGs, especially on Steam, Adam Wolfe’s full story is broken up into 4 distinct and separate episodes. Each episode revolves around one major paranormal force, slowly introducing clues to the hidden entity responsible for Allie’s disappearance throughout. Make sure you purchase the entire season with all 4 episodes, and not just the first episode.

Although I’m a bit sad that the hidden object genre can be a bit stale and repetitive with very few innovations in point & click puzzles, Adam Wolfe seems to take a step in a more interesting direction of story-telling, and I absolutely thank them for it. There isn’t anything mind-blowing here, but I definitely think that AW is one of the top HOGs on Steam.

Press copy provided by Mad Head Games

Before You Buy – analyses of newly released indie games
Posted January 10, 2017. Last edited January 23, 2017.
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21 people found this review helpful
10.6 hrs on record (5.3 hrs at review time)
The Best Country in the World!

You are a beholder - a ministry-installed landlord of a war-torn totalitarian state. One that is responsible for everything that happens under your management regardless of how you may feel about those actions. As a loyal beholder, you must gather profiles on your tenants, report any wrongdoings, and strong-arm them into following the government directives (such as the ban of rubber duckies and blue ties). As the game progresses, however, you begin to develop opinions on the state of the regime and wonder whether sticking with the status-quo is absolutely necessary. To make matters more complicated, multiple dissenting groups will do their best to persuade you towards their visions for the future. Who knew spying held so much responsibility?


There are many methods available to help ensure maximum cooperation from your tenants. The first of which requires installing security cameras throughout the apartments. Alternatively, you can just as well look through an apartment door's peephole to see what may be going on within, but personally, I prefer to casually walk right in with my handy master key. Unfortunately, tenants will not allow anyone to rifle through their belongings with such wanton prejudice, so you must be sneaky about it. Honestly though, searching for evidence of criminal activity is the least of their problems. In fact, if the beholder wants someone arrested, evicted, or blackmailed, why not just plant evidence outright? After all, the beholder is an upright representative of the ministry with authority to act in the state's best interest - as long as he doesn't get caught.

Beholder paints a truly immersive world devoid of hope, happiness, or color, rife with propaganda and rebellious behavior. Daily newspapers released by the government have "Voices of Truth" attached to the back countering and revealing dark behaviors concealed by Big Brother. Assassination attempts are a plenty as you discover the alternate lives your tenants maintain. In addition, questlines clue you in on the tenants' problems just as much as your own families. People desire entertainment to distract them from their own problems, but they also need food, bribe money, security, and favors. You are free to straddle the line between honorable ministry representative and revolutionist at will, but understand that no matter how noble your intentions may be, they may lead to unintended harm. Furthermore, Big Brother is always watching.

License to Know

Regarding the actual gameplay, Beholder is a management sim with point & click controls, and it is deviously hard. For the most part, you will be provided one or two ministry/primary tasks, such as "Investigate X," "Convince X," or "Kill X," alongside 3-4 complementary side quests at any given time. Most of these tasks will have a time limit and require socializing, profiling, or blackmailing tenants to proceed. Depending on how you chose to execute these tasks, you may be fined by the ministry or police, and if you become bankrupt, the game will end prematurely. With multiple endings all wildly different from each other, additional playthoughs using differing styles of philosophy and quest progression are needed.

Not Enough Money

After achieving a somewhat "good" ending, I am left with a desire for the implementation of multiple difficulty levels. Although the story and initial playthrough was really fun and immersive, end-game became too money-oriented to care about anything else but retaining what I had and blackmailing as many tenants as I could before a deadline was up. I began choosing certain options solely on the basis of how much I might financially benefit from the situation. The moment I began to think, "I only have $X left, I need to say 'no' to everything now," is the moment Beholder becomes less impacting. Furthermore, certain endings are entirely dependent upon key choices made throughout the game, but many of these key choices all seem to be whether there was enough money to do X.

Complete Walkthrough Playlist



Having money be so vital to proceed is a bit of a nuisance in Beholder. It makes restarting a save from a game over very immersion-breaking because the knowledge of oncoming charges will force certain choices. This compulsion to do a particular action just for money cripples any emotional consequence in turn. Beholder should continue using the early-game style of having dire and unexpected consequences to impart the psychological agony that would persuade, not force, the player to act in a particular manner. I understand that the developers want to create a sense of harsh, soul-agonizing realism, but the story and world already did a good enough job in that aspect that I wanted to explore certain quest avenues or maintain a specific philosophy but couldn't. All because of bills and random end-game money barriers.

Even though I feel that Beholder needs to rework its money-centric nature, or add more difficulty/personalization options for it, I still found its unique spying aspect and management sim gameplay fun enough to come back for more. The thrill in having so much control over the tenants is indescribable, and catching someone in a criminal activity is empowering. The detailed world-building, strongly defined tenant characters, and surprising scripts make Beholder a worthy addition in any spy fan's library.

Press copy provided by Warm Lamp Games

Before You Buy – analyses of newly released indie games
Posted November 15, 2016. Last edited January 23, 2017.
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167 people found this review helpful
6 people found this review funny
10.7 hrs on record (9.5 hrs at review time)
Early Access Review
A New Breed

It is very hard to create and foster a competitive environment nowadays. Success in this field requires a healthy player base, constant balancing updates/patches, a high level of polish, and most importantly, an addictively fun game. A new contender is in town gathering up a strong online community with its unique MOBA-adjacent style of play; its name, Battlerite. For a very long time, my go-to indie game for addictive competitive action was Rocket League, but now, this skill-heavy arena brawler has taken control of all of my remaining free-time.

Coming from LoL and HotS, I felt that Battlerite would have some sort of semblance regarding traditional MOBA-style play; however, it is truly an entirely different beast. There are no minions, jungle creeps, lanes, towers, structures, etc. Just a small battlefield with walls, champions, and a fog of war. Each match is a best-of-5-rounds 2v2 or 3v3 brawl to the death. With a 2-minute timer for each round, matches end fairly quickly. This attractive trait not only encourages short bursts of carnage-induced mayhem, it also creates an addictive sense of replayability. The kind where you can start up a game while waiting for your dinner to heat up and put it down when the food's ready. To be honest, it is pretty hard to end with just one match, but that's beside the point. The matches are short, and you can put it down at any time if you really wanted to...

To help enforce the time-limit while providing a little bit of leeway for players to discover a winner, a Sudden Death mechanic in the form of an encroaching ring is implemented into the game. Being outside of the ring will inflict a decent amount of DPS forcing players to crowd around the center and get on with it. I found the chaotic nature of the Sudden Deaths really exciting, and nothing is more satisfying than prevailing against the difficulties.

Truly Competitive

The learning curve is fairly steep due to Battlerite's complex move set and nuanced synergies, allowing utilization of 9 different abilities/attacks for each of its 17+ champions (LMB/RMB, Q, E, R, F, Space, and 2 Shift+X abilities – movement is with WASD). Each champion will have some sort of escape/gap closer, self-sustain skill (stealth/invincibility/counter), and crowd control move depending on the playstyle. Furthermore, skill shots are much more prevalent than direct target and AOE skills. This leads to some extremely chaotic and Hellish battlefields. Champions can, and will, stealth, jump, dash, flip, juke, stun, snare, silence, or become immaterial at a moment’s notice. Sometimes even multiple times before cooldown. These deadly battles are beautiful to watch, but even more fun to survive.

With so many arguably balanced kits, it seems very plausible to succeed using any champion or team composition. I've seen support characters easily 1v1 melee bruisers just as often as the complete opposite, crumpling like a tin can under a tiny bit of pressure. The skill ceiling is so high for any particular champion that I wouldn't even dare say that one is better or worse than another. Maybe much harder to utilize to their full potential than others, but still competent nonetheless. Fortunately, the developers listen to the EA community, constantly tweaking skills, cooldowns, damage/healing numbers, or even reworking skills or passives entirely to help ensure a balanced environment.

To supplement the large move set, the game also incorporates advanced mechanics to enhance competitive play, as if it wasn't already hard enough to master. Pressing C, for instance, will cancel-cast your ability, putting it on a 1 second cooldown instead of casting it. Baiting out defensive maneuvers or herding enemies to a confined area can be accomplished with proper cancel-casting. In addition, one of three Battlerites can be chosen at the beginning of each round to tailor your needs against the situation at hand. These Battlerites add a small boost to one of your skills, sort of like leveling them up. One Battlerite may add Stealth to a particular skill, while another Battlerite may increase the Stun duration for something else, and as the rounds increase, these Battlerites become more and more OP. It is imperative to understand which Battlerites to pick in order to create powerful and synergistic combinations of moves and CC effects.

Matchmaking can be rather slow and wonky at times putting me in one sided matches more often than balanced ones. I'll chalk it up to EA testing, the deep learning curve, and a relatively small player base light on newcomers, but the overwhelming unbalance of early career matchmaking and the length of time it takes to climb that learning curve can be a major turn off. Of course all MOBAs will take a while to understand, but until fresh batches of players come in, expect to have a rough time until you can get a grasp of every character. Casual players be warned. I can assure you, however, that although it took a very long time for me to start winning on a consistent basis, familiarity with every skill and Battlerite combo was the cause of it. Knowing who to target/avoid, what CC skill to keep an eye out for, when to engage/disengage, and how to manage energy helped too.

Daily Quests provide a sense of direction and motivation to play on a daily basis. These quests are simple to complete (finish X matches with a ranged champion, etc.) and provide vanity unlockables in the form of loot chests as rewards. There are two basic types of chests, Silver and Gold, which provide Common, Rare, Epic, or Legendary items. Some of these items include: avatars, outfit skins, weapon skins, victory poses, and mount skins. Holiday and limited time chests are also available, and it is definitely possible to receive duplicates in the chests too.

Video Gameplay
This is one of my first games in Battlerite. Watching really experienced, pro-like gameplays do not provide a sufficient sense of difficulty. Hopefully my floundering around in the below video will.

Before you go running off clicking that purchase button, it might be in your best interest to understand that Battlerite is still undergoing a lot of balancing changes in nearly every aspect of the game, and champions are slowly getting added to see what problems pop up. Furthermore, when Battlerite leaves EA it will become Free-to-Play; however, it is also important to understand that purchasing Battlerite during its EA phase will provide you with instant access to the game, all current and future champions, and a unique Founder's title and avatar. According to the EA notes, "This bundle will not be available at launch. It’s likely that the same amount of content will cost more once the game is released."

Knowing this, I still feel that Battlerite is a worthy addition to your daily vices assuming that you are extremely patient and willing to learn. There isn't really any other game quite like Battlerite, other than Stunlock Studios' previous project Bloodline Champions. For those that always wanted to get a taste of MOBA games but hated the idea of 40-60 minute matches, Battlerite is your answer. Whether getting it during EA or until it becomes F2P is entirely dependent upon you, but know this, grinding for champions is a massive chore. Although it is possible to do well with any champion, there will be a time when you wish you had access to everyone. This EA package will provide that and more at a cost most MOBAs would present for a handful (or less) of champions.

Press copy provided by Stunlock Studios

Before You Buy – analyses of newly released indie games
Posted November 11, 2016. Last edited November 11, 2016.
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