Gates of Horn and Ivory – What If…

What would your life be like if you ended up in a coma right now? Would your family be the same, or would they be changed? Gates of Horn and Ivory is a simple game that takes you through Jack’s immerse experience in his comatose state after a car accident driving his wife and daughter to the hospital. Jack ends up in a dream-like world where he runs around searching for sparks of light to guide him out of his state. If he collects all the sparks of a specific color, he can gain new abilities which are needed to wake him from this nightmare. Meanwhile, his family still lives on, and he knows because he finds items that are scattered around the world, small clips of his wife talking to him, explaining to him highlights of important events. 

The game is filled with numerous puzzles which can only be solved through working out riddles and finding hidden clues throughout the world. Some problems are much more difficult than others, and some are simple enough that you don’t even need to find the solution to beat them. These puzzles unlock new areas and allow you to see more flashes of light which will, in turn, unlock more mysteries.

The beauty of this game is it isn’t just limited to the story. The artwork is impressive; awe-inspiring can only describe the background. The fluid movements of the dangling chains and moving steps work perfectly in time with the rhythm of the music as well, very light and peaceful, that can also have moments of suspense mixed randomly in.

Gates of Horn and Ivory is a beautiful game that teaches a valuable lesson about life and how we seem to always forget about how magical it is. Also, the devs have decided to have a small contest with the game’s release. There will be a speedrun competition starting on September 7th until the 30th, during this time the game will be on for a 30~% Discount and you can submit runs to speedrun.com to enter the contest. The best run on each category will receive a key for the game to give to a friend, and anyone who participates will receive 50~% off of their next game, TBA this year.

Graveyard Keeper – Three tips for Beginners

Graveyard Keeper has been an exciting experience so far. I was drawn in by its gorgeous pixel art aesthetic and the promise of managing my cemetery, but like any wary gamer, I didn’t let myself get buoyed by the hype. Fortunately, the game has proved to be a pleasant surprise. I enjoy management sims, even more so if it has a medieval setting, and I think Graveyard Keeper has done an excellent job in making the occupation more fun than it sounds.

To start with, although your primary objective is to keep the graveyard spiffy and well maintained, while you harvest meat from fresh cadavers on the side, there is a lot more to be done as you progress. With each NPC introduced, you get saddled with more tasks. I’d admit that it gets tiring. Keeping track of quests, trying to recall where and when you can find NPCs or objects, can turn ugly quickly, especially when you’re still learning the ropes and figuring things out.

After fumbling in the dark in the beginning hours of my playthrough, I wish some things in the game were made more apparent from the start. Here are things I wish I knew before I started playing:

1. Sleeping saves the game

It’s embarrassing, but I once played for twenty minutes and exited thinking that the game would autosave. Luckily, I’d only just started, so I didn’t lose much progress. It pained me to earn back my lost momentum, but I’m thankful I learned the lesson sooner rather than later. Some gamers might scoff and think it’s stupid not to know from the get-go. In my defense, the only reason I shut off the game without bothering to check was because I had a piping hot pizza waiting in the living room.

Stardew Valley employs a similar save system, but in Graveyard Keeper, you have the ability to save anytime you’d like. It makes your in-game daily schedule flexible and less stressful. This is a definite positive; there might be moments where something essential crops up and you won’t have the luxury of waiting for the day to end before you can save. If you run out of energy, remember that jumping into bed for a quick nap is an option.

2. Where to find important resources

If you’re the type who likes to explore and don’t mind spending time looking for items or objects, you can skip this tip. The map isn’t exceptionally large, but it can be a hassle if you want something before the day goes dark. There are also some items that can’t be found, only made.

  • The swamp area behind your house contains iron deposits and slimes
  • Check your skill tree to unlock techniques to craft nails, iron parts, wood planks, etc.
  • Seeds can be bought from the farmer at the bottom of the wheat field
  • Buy seeds in fours. You can only plant them in fours.
  • Apples can be found near the Lighthouse

I played for two hours without realizing I could find iron behind my house. Don’t be me.

3. The ‘Known NPCs’ menu 

I’ve seen several user reviews on Steam saying they wished the game had a quest log. There isn’t a dedicated quest log, which is a little unfortunate. However, the quests you get can be viewed in the Known NPCs menu option, under their respective NPCs.

In addition, the days on which certain NPCs will appear can be found just on top of their character. It’s hard to notice it when you’re continually flipping through menus since they’re pretty tiny.

Overall, I hope these are helpful to anyone who’s just started the game. The learning curve is steep, but it gets a lot more fun once you get into the swing of things. If you’re thinking of getting the game, check out Justin’s review of it here!

Burying the Dead – Graveyard Keeper

Ever wonder what it would be like to be in complete control of a graveyard? How it would feel to have to prepare the bodies and to eat chunks of their remains? Not the last part? Well with Graveyard Keeper you can do all of the above! Graveyard Keeper is a management sim game where you are the person in charge of running and taking care of a medieval kingdom, but it isn’t by choice. Your character was on his way home one night when he was struck by a car and killed, when he awoke he was in a medieval land and was told he would be in charge of the graveyard. After that it delves into how to maintain your graveyard, how the bishop will be ranking your graveyard, and the town nearby where you can have new shovels made, or get a drink at the bar.

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The game is energy based, meaning any action you do will cost you energy, but the good news is that you can regain the energy fairly easily. All you need to do to regain energy is cook some food, once the food is cooked and eaten you can get back to burying corpses. How you corpse part works is a little odd though, you are brought a corpse to bury, but first you have to bring it to the morgue and do simple surgery on it (remove parts of the flesh) and only then can you bury it in a grave. The bishop will visit you from time to time and give you a “style rating” on the graveyard, your style rating determines the types of graves and decorations you can have in your graveyard, which in turn raises the style rating even more.

The games tutorial is somewhat lacking in information, it gives you all the knowledge you should need to play the game, but doesn’t go very in depth on how to apply that knowledge. But aside from that there should be no trouble with learning how to play the game with no understanding of how management sims actually work. The music and sound effects in the game are also very good, they fit the theme and are quite appealing to listen to. As for the graphics, they chose to use a type of pixelated graphics, not so far as to be 8-bit, but not a stunning realism. That works out for it though as it allows for you to focus more on the matters happening in the game as oppose to the graphics accompanied by them.

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All in all the game is fun to play and it has a good feel to it. I hope to see a lot of excitement following this game release.

Get the game here: https://store.steampowered.com/app/599140/Graveyard_Keeper/

Grab your kids! – 60 Seconds

60-second warning before the bombs drop! Hurry- grab your kids, grab your wife, they’re dropping bombs up in here! Quick, grab some water, grab some canned food, grab your grandad’s rifle. You’ll be dead in a week if you don’t! No time for hesitation! Where is Timmy?!?! He is in the garage, throw him into the blast shelter. We need…. Bombs about to drop! Quick in the shelter or I’ll be toast as well. It is a good thing this was just a test, there were so many more things I could have grabbed. Well, that is until the tutorial is over. Can you survive a nuclear catastrophe?

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When a real bomb drops, who knows who will make it? You may not even get your whole family to a place of safety. Now not only would you have to survive in a cramped metal coffin, you’d have to deal with the loss of a loved one. In one minute, could you have all of your needed supplies to a place of survival? What do you grab? Even the simplest thing could lead to your demise, like a map. I mean in today’s world of smartphones, who has a map? With all these different things on your mind, “60 seconds” brings these aspects into a presentable format. A scary one at that.

Day one. All of us made it down to the shelter. In a distant life, we barely remember stocking this place with a radio and some other gadgets. It smells like mold and it’s tight. Some of us will be sleeping on cans tonight but at least we’re all safe. We barely had time to grab all of our necessities, but we have some cans of food and some bottled water. No need to worry about any robbers or the like, we have grandad’s shotgun. Now, at this point, the game has changed from a 3D grab everything run and gun to a still scene that is only narrated through a journal. The story is what makes this game replayable.

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However, after the initial rush is over it can be pretty dull after more than one play-through. The concept is great, attempting to survive in your fallout shelter. The rules are simple as well. Stay alive, and keep at least one adult alive. So in some regard, it is more worthwhile to send your children out to the waste because there is no penalty for losing them. If your adults die, then you lose. This aspect of the game can be pretty unrealistic because, in my mind, I wouldn’t want to lose my children.  Also, if you haven’t grabbed enough food, don’t fret, send someone to find some.

You can send one person at a time on an adventure that you don’t get to see but is narrated by your journal, and they can scavenge for supplies. The realism of the wear and tear on these members are shown when they return. There is also noticeable changes in members of your bunker as they need water and food. You’ll go days and days just continuing to maintain your rations, and hope that the military will save you. The radio and the map are the most important things for this to be successful. So which is it, will the military save you, or will you die?

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Marie’s Room – A Tale of Two Friends

Have you ever walked into a room and been immediately hit with a memory of a past event taking place in that very spot? Was it a good memory? A happy one? Or maybe a dark, and horrific one? The game Marie’s Room takes your character, Kelsey, through a memory trip twenty years into the past. A time when her only fear was her friend’s feelings. This title is a first-person game that takes place entirely in one house, or more specifically, one room. The room belonged to your best friend, Marie. Your goal was to locate an old journal but the nostalgia brings you back in time with eloquent visions. You begin to see her room as it was 20 years ago on the night of a disturbing occurrence.

As you walk around the stunningly created room interactable items start to make themselves known. Each item contains its own part to the grand-story and will help you better understand the troubles that Marie and Kelsey went through. The game creates a very deep depth to the story, giving even the most indistinct of objects meaning, something that we, as a society, don’t really do. As the plot progresses you can tell that something isn’t quite right. Masterfully created, the story starts to build with small hints that keep you on the edge of your seat while fitting pieces together in your head.

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Overall, the game only takes about a half-hour to complete. It’s a very short, but very compelling game that grasps you in right from the start and keeps hold of you until the very end. Aside from the story, there are many smaller details that were put into the game to further deepen and enrichen the story. Some examples being the empty bottle on the windowsill or even the random book on the table. Marie’s Room urges you to seek out those small, inconspicuous items.

Marie’s Room was created by a team of seven people, which is a spectacular feat. The story feels genuine and the characters are relatable. The graphics in the game are proportionate to the story-type. The items that can be interacted with blend in, which was a design choice that I found perfect for building the world. You can even hear faint noises between dialogue. Small things you would hear from a person shuffling through a room. This game is perfect for anyone who loves indie games and is ready for an amazing, heart-tugging story.

You can get this game free here: https://store.steampowered.com/app/648390/Maries_Room/

You can also check out the development process here:
https://www.kennyguillaume.com/blog/

 

An Outlawed Mage – Mages of Mystralia

A young mage born in a land where magic is banned, what do you do? Well, you didn’t know you were a mage until one night while weeping you burn down your cottage and now the whole world knows. Cast aside and thrown into the woods, you start your quest. Ashamed of what you are, you set out with the hope that you’ll be able to master your abilities and prove that you aren’t as terrible as everyone believes. You’re approached by a man who calls himself “mentor”, and he claims to be your mentor. He makes some remarks about either “be a mage or die,” and then lets you rest up at his home. After a quick rest, he sets you on a path to find a hidden mage village to learn your trade. At this point, you realize your mentor is a lazy sack of potatoes and he isn’t going to help you at all. No big deal, you’re an adventurer.

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Now, by this point, you’ve probably read mountains of text and endured credits during gameplay. The game is very beautifully put together, and the artwork style is fantastic. However, it seems that the introduction transition over to gameplay phase is extremely drawn out. Don’t fret, the storyline is well worth it, young mage. As long as you don’t step in the Enchanter’s flower bed, all will be well. Actually, maybe you should step in his flowerbed so that you can learn more about the side quest of finding flowers for his garden. This will teach all those kids to get off my lawn! No, but seriously. You should talk to everyone, and explore all avenues in this game or you may miss another unique characteristic of gameplay. So fall into a river.

After leaving your “mentors” home, you soon fall through a bridge and float down a river. An untrained mage lost in the woods, with no help… What could go wrong? Luckily for you, you stumble upon an ancient and wise spellbook. It speaks to you telepathically, “this one will do”. Unsuspectingly, this mage book is more of a mentor then the one who calls himself of that name. He trains you how to use the four basic spells, and instead of a tutorial helps ease you into the game. It keeps the learning curve low as new elements are introduced, and who doesn’t love a talking spellbook? After a small journey, you reach your destination. There he is. Your mentor again.

Well where have you been?! Mentor should have had another name like lack-of-skill, too bad they don’t name characters in this game like Argonians in Skyrim. At this point, he pretty much tells you that you skipped all the tutorial stuff and are ready to be out on your own. That mages learn by doing. Well, I guess we’re expert mages now! At this point, you’re on your own to explore the land and restore magic back to Mystralia. Where better to start then to clear the forest of corruption? Nowhere, except from saving a young lady from goblins and grabbing her husband to clean up the mess.

Now I won’t go too much further when it comes to the storyline and gameplay. But I will talk about how this adventure-puzzler is like no other. Crafting unique spells to puzzles, saving Mystralia, and adventuring like there is no tomorrow. What makes this game so unique is that the same puzzle can be solved several ways depending on how you craft your spell, same with how a boss can be defeated several different ways depending on your spells and play style. Mages of Mystralia is a game like no other when it comes to spell-crafting. If Zelda was about spell crafting, this would be one of its many iterations. I look forward to game updates and sequels. I really hope they come out with multiplayer.  For now, I’ll enjoy the game a few more times until I’ve worn out the replayability.

Fortnite – Marvel Infinity War Crossover LTM

As a lot of you have probably heard by now, Fortnite has released a limited time mode which is a mash-up between the normal Fortnite Battle Royale, and Marvel’s main villain from Infinity War, Thanos.
The game mode is an amazing amount of fun for the amount of time I’ve put into it and it is by far my favorite limited time event they have released so far. The idea of the game is that you drop in an already closing circle and once the battle bus disappears the Infinity Gauntlet will drop from the sky as a meteor and strike a random spot in the circle.
After that, it’s free game to whoever can pick up the gauntlet to wield the mighty power of Thanos. Now you won’t see Thanos just running around with a gold scar, he has his own ability set which sets him apart from the other players:

Power Stone – Thanos uses the Power Stone as his main weapon for range by unleashing a line of power towards his enemies. This attack is a beam that you can follow the enemy with for a short amount of time dealing 15 damage for every hit.

Time Stone – The Time Stone is used in an odd way for this event, as it is Thanos’ Melee weapon. He uses the time stone to “Send them to a different time zone” as the kill feed will say. The melee attack is a straight lunge and destroys breakable objects around it.

Mind Stone – The Mind Stone is used by Thanos to jump exceptionally high. Thanos does not have a normal jump, but instead a jump that will charge up and allow for him to jump almost as high as the top of a mountain. This ability is useful for trying to get out of combat or to combo with the melee attack which I will describe below.

Mind/Time Stone Combo – If Thanos jumps into the air and then uses a melee attack, he will dive into the ground and create a small crater where he lands. This attack deals a lot of damage and can in most instances one-hit if the enemy is under you. But, it can also be used to destroy buildings quickly, because that the ability will go straight through any breakable objects.

Now, all of these abilities make it seem like Thanos is an all-powerful god who is unkillable (as he should be), but there is a couple of other things you should note.
– Although Thanos has 700 health and 300 shield, he cannot regain any health, and only regains shield through killing other players
– Thanos is visible to all other players on the map, minimap, and radar throughout the entire game.
– Thanos cannot build.
Once we take all of that into account, it really isn’t that difficult to kill Thanos, you just need to have a little bit of skill. And, once Thanos dies, the Gauntlet drops as an item for anyone else to pick up and wield.
I’m not sure how long this limited time mode is here for, but I hope that this opens the door to more amazing crossovers like this one.

A World in Need of Power – Plug Me

In a city run off of battery power, an evil man named Doc. Oxyde wishes to destroy it all by unplugging all of the power supplies. But thankfully, our hero Plugman is able to use his plug-like head to stop the draining of power and re stabilize the city. Plugman journeys through a series of five worlds each consisting of nine normal levels and one boss level. On each level there are battery packs which you can try to collect if you’re up for a real challenge.
Plug Me is a simple concept platformer game, but it brings it up a notch with the timer aspect. Each leveled is timed to just a couple of seconds to complete, and the timer is in the center of the screen. The gimmick is that the timer is also a platform that can be used in the game, so as the timer runs out, the platform will disappear along with it, so you need to reach the end before time runs out, or the city will start to lose its power. Each level brings in new difficult obstacles as well, like spikes, spinning spikes, and even falling bricks to block your escape.     The game seems short having only 52 levels in it, but once those levels are beaten you will unlock “hard mode” this is a mode where everything is made more difficult for the people who enjoy a challenge. I’m not sure if you just need to beat all of the levels though, or if you also need to get all of the plugs scattered throughout the levels too.
The music in the game is good music for a game, it has an upbeat tone to it while trying to keep a peaceful aspect, but it also changes. If you die five times in a row on a level, it will change to a faster music, and it will stay that way until you complete the level. All your death streaks also appear on the screen as they happen in sets of five, as if the game is reminding you how difficult it truly is. Also, if you end up with 10 deaths in a row, your pal Evinrude will help you out by eliminating an obstacle of the level.
I personally am not that great at platformer games, and this one is no different. I tried to beat the first couple of worlds and I got stuck about halfway through world two. The game has a small following of people who really enjoy it and I’ve talked with them about the game a little bit as well, most of them say that they had a bit of trouble their first few times playing the levels, but now they feel like the levels are much easier for them to complete knowing where to go.
I enjoyed the game and will definitely go back to it and try again to beat the levels I missed, a very good game that deserves a try from anyone willing to.

Hellish fun – Tormentor X Punisher Review

EDITOR WARNING: Article may contain profanity/vulgarities, and may not be suited for small children. Read at your own expense.

Tormentor X Punisher is one hell of a thrill ride. When I sit down to play, I feel like I’ve just injected caffeine into my bloodstream and strapped speakers blasting metal music to my skull. The game oozes violence and spews vulgarities like an edgy teen trying to impress his ‘cool’ friends. Even the title screen is a treat. Scrolling through the menu invokes unearthly screams from the titular female character. The bold title font pulses like a beating heart, and in the background, the face of a demon stares into your very soul. This game exposes us for the violent, crass animals we all are, and it makes us love every second of it.

Welcome to Planet Fuck You! It’s a real planet, between the giant sun of I don’t Give a Shit, and a moon shaped in a middle finger. Look it up.

Demons populate the planet, and it’s the perfect place for the pink haired demon slayer to unleash her fury. She hates demons with a burning passion of a thousand pyres. It comes across not only through her words, harshly screamed obscenities spat with enough distaste to make toes curl, but also in how she takes them apart. By blasting them into tiny, meat sized chunks, leaving them as bloody smears on the ground.

The game throws you into an enclosed arena, where you have to survive unending waves of demons for as long as possible. The controls are simple enough. Shoot to kill, fire your shotgun to reload, and always keep moving. It sounds disarmingly easy when you realise everything in the game can be killed in one hit, including you. It isn’t. On my first run, I lasted less than thirty seconds before being reduced to fleshy pulp.

The starting waves are a cakewalk. But things become maniac as demons spawn relentlessly, swarming you with single-minded determination like flies on manure. Once you survive past a certain time, anywhere between forty to sixty seconds, a boss spawns in the centre of the arena. The bosses that spawn are entirely random, and successfully killing one depends on luck or skill (I rely on the former). This mechanic is infuriating, but it ensures replayability. No single run will be alike.

The game has me hooked. Playing once isn’t enough, because each time you sit down and blast through it, it feels like a kick in the nuts. An adrenaline booster made of demon tears, head banging music, and copious amounts of muttered expletives. The tight controls are crucial for a game like this, because no one likes artificial difficulty brought on by shitty mechanics. Tormentor X Punisher focuses on gameplay and does it extremely well.

The only downside is the lack of the story. It’s a great game, but I generally like my games with a bit of lore, or backstory. With a colourful name like ‘Planet Fuck You’ and the main character’s hatred of demons, it’s hard not to wonder how everything came to be. Regardless, the game is still ridiculously fun, even without a story. If you’re looking for a fast-paced top down shooter rivalling the likes of Hotline Miami and Devil Daggers, Tormentor X Punisher is definitely worth a spin.