Alpha Computing – Computer Tycoon

I was introduced to this lovely screen… then the game crashed. I thought, maybe this was a one time hiccup, so I launched the game again. The game launched successfully on my second attempt, and I was introduced with some nice hip music. I started getting in my retro grove, I immediately felt like I was on roller skates in some archaic restaurant with a jukebox playing. Not to mention, the game was nice enough to show me all of the people whom had contributed to the game by writing reviews, and the like. Since I also approve of this kind of help from the community, and that every game developer should always show appreciation to those whom help them, I’ll repost this achievement wall.

After clearing through the thoughtfulness of the developers by clicking the big red X in the top right of the window, like it was an annoying pop-up. Somehow even though the previous screen was extremely thoughtful, the art of this game still had me convinced that it was some annoying Windows pop-up that had to be deleted. I was introduced with a portrait of the young Steve Jobs next to his brand new Macs. All I could think of was Steve yelling at some employee, and telling him to get the hell out of his building. I was excited, I got amped. I was a little disappointed that on the right there was a C:\ drive reference, when that doesn’t match their overall theme of Apple references. I feel like this screen needs a bit of design work. I continued on to the ‘New Game’ option. It was time to ride the rainbow of this multicolored display.

After clicking new game, I was prompted with the new game screen. Where I could select all my options for the new game. I clearly had to become Steve Jobs because I couldn’t find a good avatar for Billy Gates, which I hoped for. There are a few avatars that are well created that represent avatars from the past, however they’re not all there. I will say they’re very good graphics, but there was nothing to actually design my character which was a disappointment.  On this screen, I could also tell that the game is still in early build phases because they also have a button for ‘Random Events’, which is disabled. It’s a work in progress, but I pushed forward. A lot of the screens here need polished.

Pressing forward like the train that I am, choo-choo. I was introduced by a dialog that emphasized how this was a new game in alpha, and that a single developer created all of this. I was impressed by how much work was done for a single developer already. I can tell that the game needs a lot of work, but it looks like it may still be fun to play, so I hunkered down and began to play. The game was simple, don’t go bankrupt, and survive until retirement. Retirement was defined as the year 2034, Elon Musk made it to Mars yet? I then read about two other ways to win, by running my enemies into the ground by bankrupting them, or to invent all technologies before my opponent. Seemed easy enough, I prepped for my crash course into the game. Helmets on!

The tutorial to the game is looonggg and teeextttt based. I wish there would have been a walkthrough of the game showing visuals right away, as I’m one of those people who can’t focus on text that long and I get distracted easy so I skipped through hoping the game would explain itself. I clicked my starting country of Madagascar, and had no idea what I was doing other than the fact that the preference was largely blue. Once I established an industry site in Madagascar, I got excited by the 3D design layout. I was ready to build my empire and rock this island. Anyone have some buckets in case this plan starts going down with the ships?

I immediately built one of everything, not sure what I was doing. I also found out it takes time to build all of these things, I had accidentally paused the game. With 4 million bucks to spend though, I was worried. Then I was hit with a voice that sounded like Mom, my buildings were upgraded and built! She disciplined me, just like she use to with my homework, that my research queue was empty. After a few minutes of tinkering, I got distracted by gameplay.

In-depth, steep learning curve. I spent at least a half an hour trying to figure out how all the things fit together, and immediately was glad that I’m a computer developer by trade because there is a lot of technical depth to this game. If I didn’t have the background I do, I feel like I might drown. However, that is also a good thing, showing how much time and effort went into all the details of this game. After several hours of gameplay…

I’ll wait until the game is more polished.

Check out the game for yourself, here: http://store.steampowered.com/app/686680/Computer_Tycoon/

C’mon Gamers, Do The Locomotive – Railway Empire Review

Name: Railway Empire
Developer: Gaming Minds Studios
Publisher: Kalypso Media Digital
Release Date: 28 January 2018
Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One (click here for the Steam link)

The transport game genre has been around for decades, being popularised by gaming pioneers like Chris Sawyer and Sid Meier, with their Transport Tycoon and Railroad Tycoon series way back in the 1990’s. These titles hooked gamers into plotting tracks across an isometric map, moving  passengers and cargo from one station to the next, trying to outdo competitors and make the biggest profit.

The genre is one of several that didn’t make the transition to 3D very smoothly. Some titles, like RollerCoaster Tycoon and other theme park-themed franchises have managed it very well; others that focus on the more pragmatic side of rails and tracks seem to struggle.

Despite an admirable effort, Railway Empire, the new title from Gaming Minds Studios – the minds behind the classic Patrician series of games – don’t quite manage to succeed in fully breaking free of those shackles that have inhibited similar recent transport genre games since making the jump to 3D.

But let’s focus on the good, for now, because there’s definitely a lot of that to find here. Railway Empire is, initially at least, every bit as engaging as its spiritual predecessors. At its core lies the addictive drive to perfect transport lines between different cities and industries, making the maximum amount of profit in the shortest time and distance.

It’s a really pretty game to look at and get immersed in. The art style sits in a happy place between cartoon-like exaggeration and accurate realism, while the music evokes a sense of the period its set in, with yankee doodle folk music trilling happily in the background.

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As you’d expect of a transport game, there are a vast array of historic trains to utilise on your lines. The tech tree has a really good selection of era-appropriate innovations to dig in to, and the industries scattered throughout the maps lend themselves to the overall ease with which you can slip into early nineteenth century America.

The story campaign mode is also surprisingly interesting, even outside of the gameplay. You explore the construction of one of the most important transportation routes in the world at different stages and times during its development.

You interact with historical figures from the time, and although Railway Empire displays a certain nostalgia and enthusiasm for the railroad, it surprised me by not sugar-coating the murkier side of that period of history. It hints at ruthless and possibly illegal  industrial practices, as well as portraying more obviously immoral acts such as the resettlement of Native American people for the sake of “progress”.

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There are also a few new interesting mechanics, like being able to send spies and saboteurs to make mischief with your competitors – who can do exactly the same thing to you, of course.

Railway Empire makes several advancements on mechanics that were major stumbling blocks for the likes of Transport Fever to result in an overall package that, on balance, is enjoyable to play more often that it isn’t.

For example, railway tracks can be planned in advance. For me, this is the single greatest thing about the game. Instead of laying a track halfway across the map and nearly bankrupting yourself in the process, you can forecast how much construction will cost, and plan the track’s route around obstacles to be as cost-effective as possible.

Railway lines are also, on the whole, easy to set up and assign trains to. There’s no need to place depots and buy a myriad of carriages and containers; simply select the cities the train is to visit, assign the engine, and the train will automatically pick up passengers and cargo, up to its maximum capacity.

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Sadly, this is where the system begins to derail. Railway Empire is great fun during the initial set up of rail lines; but when the game reaches the point where you have to go back and start adding to, or editing, what you’ve done before, it can quickly become a bit of a nightmare.

The biggest one for me was trying to expand the rail network. At first you’ll just be able to afford a one track line between two stations, but naturally, once more destinations and locomotives are added to your network, you’ll want to add to that. But short of deleting all of the trains currently on the tracks, it can be extremely frustrating to get anything built.

You’ll often end up in a deadlock where you can’t add a new track because of an existing junction, which you can’t delete because there’s a train waiting at it, because the line needs a new track for it to move on to. It’s a chicken-and-egg situation that usually ends up with the frustrating outcome that you’re best deleting everything and starting again; which is ultimately self-defeating, eliminating the benefit of pre-planning tracks before construction.

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It feels like there are several layers of menus and detail missing to allow you to micromanage the game to the extent that you need to in order to set up a well-oiled transport network. For example, once a city gets to a certain size, lots of passengers and goods start getting generated there to be picked up. It’d be really handy to have a means to tell trains what to prioritise when they’re choosing what cargo to take first, but there isn’t.

It’s hard to be so down on Railway Empire, because there’s definitely a lot of good to be found here. The transport genre is crying out for a modern-day rival to Planet Coaster, which triumphantly brought the historically equivalent theme park genre into the post-3D world. Railway Empire is that game – as long as you play the first 30-60 minutes of any game and don’t progress past that point.

Although it should have been on track to deliver an engaging experience, a few points manage to derail it. But you may want to choo-choo-choose Railway Empire if your love for the transport genre can survive some frustrating gameplay niggles.

EnomView Score: 7 out of 10

 

One on One with Developer of new MOBA, King’s Vessel

With the new year sending us into 2018, the indie game development scene has seen no shortages of new games entering the arena. Looking to tackle both new and old genres, we can expect one thing, and that is another great year for indie game development. Hello, EnomViewers my name is Reno Morgan, and I am here to share with you one of those new games: King’s Vessel by Natoken Entertainment.

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I had an opportunity to discuss the development of King’s Vessel with the owner and founder of Natoken Entertainment, Nagiliant (Soren Warnsdorf). The talk filled me with excitement for this upcoming MOBA. King’s Vessel aims to grab at the roots of what made MOBAs so addicting and yanking it right into 2018. One of the first things that attracted my attention had to be the fundamental gameplay for King’s Vessel. While I did not get a chance to enjoy it by discussing the game with Nagiliant, I gathered that it would either be a major success or it would fail to hook the dedicated MOBA community. Something Nagiliant took time to address when I asked the following:

“The MOBA genre is probably one of the most consistent compared to new wave games. Staying the same over so many years making it really difficult to change what the MOBA community already knows. Time has proven this after numerous major companies made attempts at revitalizing these type of games, for example, Paragon by Epic Games and Battleborn by Gearbox all recently shutting down development or closing servers despite being made by very reputable development teams. As an indie team, how do you think King’s Vessel can overcome the stubborn MOBA community, and how do you all plan to open people up to trying something new?” – Reno

Nagiliant reassured me that in order to properly break the cast set by modern MOBAs, King’s Vessel would need to reach way back to what made MOBAs initially addicting games to play. Sticking to the staples of the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena Angel Arena. Nagiliant wants to bring focus away from Tower Defence / Lane Pushing and go back to the “Arena” aspect of MOBAs. Focusing on eliminating the enemy team, and controlling the map with a series of capture points that will provide vision. While pushing the enemies towers will begin to limit their spawn territory, it is not a requirement to end the game. As long as your team generates enough points to spawn the enemy boss this way you can end the match without pushing individual lanes.

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While sticking to the fundamentals and mixing in what can already be experienced in MOBAs like LoL, Smite, and DotA, the map for King’s Vessel will look vaguely similar. Featuring two lanes, instead of the typical three with a larger jungle and some new objectives like the Control Points, it won’t feel completely alien to most of us. One of the focal points of the game is eliminating the enemy team’s players, and holding the three Control points which will eventually summon the enemy teams “Boss” at the center of the map. There are two within each teams jungle and one at the center when the boss is not summoned. Players will have to battle in an expanded jungle, while also protecting their territory which is held by the various towers on their side of the map (that can be destroyed). One of the major differences will be the spawn location relative to the main objective, which will no longer be right outside, but instead at the center of the map. This makes death penalties very severe unless you maintain your Lane Towers to use as teleport points. If your boss is spawned, and your team is re-spawning you have a good distance to go before you can reach the center to help defend it. I can definitely see mobility being one of the most vital factors when it comes to Hero/item choice.

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We also discussed hero development and item usage where Nagiliant introduced some of the additional features that will strike veteran MOBA players as a little odd. While players will have access to a variety of items you can purchase to reinforce your hero some of the more powerful items will have fall-offs. These items aim to help balance the more powerful passives and stats by providing players with the opportunity to sacrifice performance in another aspect for those benefits. We can only wait to see how these pro/con items will perform, but it won’t be too far off from items like the Divine Rapier in DotA that can be a great boon to you, or fall into the enemies hands and be your biggest enemy. Nagiliant went on to share how the goal is to see these items and not just to augment what heroes can already do, impacting how those heroes feel to play. Possibly opening up new corridors into the versatility of individual heroes to allow them to play in different ways. Along with these unique tweaks we can still expect to see stacking and evolving items.

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Some of the other features you can expect to see will be Hero (or Vessel) skins, and the idea of having skins for the team’s towers/boss was also shared. Hopefully, in the coming months, we will get to see more of what Natoken has planned for King’s Vessel.

With no expected release date for playtesting, or estimated release you can bet I will be circling Natoken Entertainment until the release of King’s Vessel to share with you all the moment you can get a slice of the action. I will provide you all with links to all the information and media for King’s Vessel and I hope you all give them a look! It has been a great time talking to Nagiliant, and I want to give a big thanks to him for providing all of the artwork and giving us permission to share it with all of our EnomViewers. All the artwork was done by one of the Natoken Entertainment developers, Marjaana. Thank you for reading, and see you in the next one.

Here is where you can find the Natoken Entertainment Patreon along with the benefits to the patron tiers I will provide below.

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(A little hint while Nagiliant did not want to make any false promises for digital in-game content included with the Patreon rewards he did say that patrons will be shown appreciation.)

You can click the following for links to the King’s Vessel media sources
Youtube
Twitter
Twitch
Reddit
Discord


Hello, EnomViewers my name is Reno Morgan a 21-year-old indie Narrative Designer, and University student out of the United States, NY. I only recently joined the Enom team and I write articles on upcoming Indie Games. I also do follow up reviews, and game critiques on the same titles I write up-and-comings about. In between writing for Enom, I also work on Indie Games as a story writer and character designer. I love everything video games, and I am as nerdy as you can get. Some of my personal favorites are Smite, FFXIV, and anything Square Enix. I am also an avid anime fan, and I love cosplaying. If you ever have a game you want to geek out and share with me feel free to message me at any time my Discord is 1D#0001 you can also email me at vindictris@gmail.com. Look forward to sharing the future of indie games with you all, hope you share something with me too! Thanks for reading.

The Light of Our World – OneShot

You awake in a strange bed, the doors are locked and you have no idea where you are. Your only escape is solving puzzles and unlocking the door to adventure. Once you leave your house, you’ll be thrown into a world of puzzle solving, storytelling, and most important of all, talking robots. In OneShot you journey as a “God” speaking to a character named Niko. Your goal is to get Niko to the top of a tower and rebirth the sun to bring light to the planet once more. The game is a story-driven puzzle game that requires you to complete multiple tasks while combining items in order to solve puzzles.

The game overall is pretty simple. The controls are easy to understand right away since it’s just the arrow keys and then a few buttons for operating your menu. The game gives you hints if you are stuck, but sometimes the hints aren’t exactly what you want. For example, in the first room, you get a message saying “it’s too dark in here” so you need to stand by the window to get more light.

The game is recommended to be played in a windowed format, but I personally would recommend playing it in full-screen, there are a few mechanics that take place that I feel are better experienced in full-screen mode. On the other hand, there are a few instances in the game where windowed may be needed (hint, hint). I would also recommend playing it with headphones, as the background music in the game sets the mood for the specific part you are at.

The game is a nice, deep puzzle game that really makes you have to think right from the start. It brings you in and makes it seem like you can’t leave until the job is done. It pulls you in right from the start and doesn’t want to let you go. But the game itself is intriguing enough to make you not want to leave either.

The graphics are a  beautiful pixelated look, but it plays it off well. You can tell that the creators wanted you to focus more on the story than the graphics. But they still could have used a little touching up, the area seems somewhat bland, even for the dark world they live in. Besides for the actual atmosphere, cute little-pixelated characters show up with text. For example, if Niko feels happy, you’ll see an adorable, happy Niko in the corner. For me, it really helped to connect with Niko. Especially since it allowed me to connect with him more, which is important in the game.

In my opinion, the game is amazing. It gives you a story that is well-driven, but also allows you to free-roam and discover things on your own. It could use a more direct approach to some of the puzzles given, but then I feel the game would be a bit too easy to complete. As for the rest of the game, there isn’t really much else I would, or feel should, be changed.

If you feel like picking this game up you need only understand one thing. You only have OneShot.

Pick up this fantastic game here: http://store.steampowered.com/app/420530/OneShot/

Blood Boiling Beauty – Cuphead Review

I remember waking up every day as a young child. I’d grab a bowl of crisp and cool cereal at six in the morning then plop myself down for some much awaited cartoons. I was wired to do it each and every Saturday. I’d scramble for my television remote and flick until I saw the old-timey goodness of Tom and Jerry. Althought embarrassing to admit, I feel like that each and every time I play Cuphead.

There probably isn’t a single gamer on the planet that doesn’t know that two-syllable title. Cuphead is an above average run-and-gun game which focusses on boss battles. Forget going through painstaking hours of effort to reach the boss, just hop right into it! After that small summary, Cuphead may not seem like anything special. Sure, you fight boss after boss until you face the main boss, The Devil King. But that’s not the special part…

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Every time I take a bite of spicy food, my tongue hates me. But, for some odd reason, I can’t help but keep eating. I don’t care how much pain my mouth suffers, the experience is diabolically enjoyable. It’s the same for Cuphead. While my blood boils and my fingers ache from a rage-induced grip on my controller, it’s like eating spicy food.  It’s diabolically enjoyable.

When it comes to graphics, Cuphead is by far my number one choice. Computer-generated worlds with every pixel perfectly detailed are great and all, but I couldn’t feel for it what I feel for the Cuphead’s beautiful, hand-drawn, cel-animated, 2D world.

Another aspect that helped nail the nostalgic feeling was the custom, melodic music that enhanced each and every battle. Although it’s more behind the scenes, if you haven’t seen Cuphead‘s music being produced, you can check out the recording of the Floral Fury soundtrack, here. The great jazz beneath each moment of the game held me concentrated every time I picked up my controller.

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When it comes to the story of Cuphead, I was really able to connect with my childhood. A wacky adventure perpetrated by a fun-loving, bendy, cartoon cup and his equally appealing brother, a mug, was straight out of the Disney textbook. Sent out to defeat an onslaught of creative characters right out of the 1930’s, Cuphead wanders around dishing out finger blasts and collecting the souls of the indebted. Then, Cuphead travels towards the Devil King’s casino to use his newfound strength on the Devil himself.

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When it comes down to it, Cuphead deserves every ounce of fame it gets. I can’t think of any other indie game off the top of my head that was produced with this much effort. From every boss phase transition to the music heard as you stroll around Inkwell Isle One. Each detail of the game provides an experience unlike any other.

Become the savior of Inkwell Isle, slay the Devil King, and finger-blast some carrots! Pick up the game here: Cuphead on Steam

An interview with Amerilainen – Bounce Rescue!

Recently a new indie game was released by Bitcore. It is known as Bounce Rescue!. The review of that game appeared earlier. However, since the bouncing mechanics is unique in platformers, we wanted to learn more about the reasoning. For this, we managed to corner the CEO of Bitcore, and forced this interview on him. Or rather, we cornered one of his team who informed got the CEO for us. Meet Amerilainen, the one who directed his team to create this game.


Hey, K1mpp4 said you’re doing an interview about us?

About the game yes, if you are willing to give it

Yes of course

Alright. Bounce Rescue! is an interesting game, and we only found out about it due to K1mmp4 posting it on speedrun.com. From what I have seen, the three of you worked on the game Bouncy Rescue, You, K1mpp4 and Arska. How did the three of you meet?

Ari is a deputy member of the board and my cousin, and now that I got an office for the company he came to make Bounce Rescue. I met Kimi at a local game gathering (late 2017) and within a few weeks he was in Bitecore. Now they have been making the game officially about 3 months in the team. I personally started the Bounce Rescue!-project in 2015.

In 2015, what inspired you to make this game?

I’ve always liked platformer games, so it was quite natural to start doing that.

Was there any particular platformer that was your favorite, and inspired the bouncing around in your game?

The greatest inspiration is surely Mario. Through mistakes and tryouts the game mechanics were born slowly.

I have to say, bouncy around is not seen in most games. I only know one other game that had bouncing mechanics like you have. That was The Great Circus Mystery Starring Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse for the SNES. As soon as I played the game, I feared the jumping would just be as annoying, you however made it easier to jump and give us the option to jump anytime we want after touching the ground after a jump, what this hard to implement?

Let’s say it was not originally meant to come into game, but because some of the levels were quite difficult I kept it in the game. After a few rounds of testing, I got it like it is now. So it was surprisingly easy to develop to the end.

I have never played that Mickey Mouse -game myself, need to take the test of that.

You should try it. Anyway, Bounce Rescue! is an interesting game with the bouncing. There were several character options to choose from. I notice no description on what they are good at, but for some testing I got some differences that lies with several characters. What was the idea of withholding this information? To make players try every character out and see what suits them, or did you have another reason?

The intention was that you have to explore the game. I wondered if this information was given first to the player, but now they have to test themselves. Of course, the characters with the best features are at the end of the game.

It has a mix of platforming, and some simple puzzle solving. And the characters are also a bit cute looking. Was this your intention when you started it, or did it come to it?

Originally, the goal was to keep the game colorful, cute and challenging.

And it is. I have played several hard and difficult games/platformers. This is not difficult, but very challenging. Good job on making that.

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The story of the game is a basic story. Your friends got kidnapped and you rescue them. You can opt to not rescue them as well. Are there different endings for that?

The main purpose was in gameplay, not in the story. The end of the game is always the same, you rescued all or not. You just don’t get all the characters unlocked. The controls in the game are polished in my mind, so with a little training the game runs easily.

Yes, the controls, despise the bounding, are great. 

So since the ending is not the same, why would you try to get all objects? Do they have a function or are they just for score purposes?

For example, some characters make you faster / easier to go levels thru. So just for those reasons, it’s worth rescuing the characters if you want to make better time / score record in the level.

There are other objects as well to collect. I forgot what the 3 were, crystals? What are the purpose of those?

Yes, collecting crystals you will get stars at the end of the level. And if you have enough stars, you’ll get the some achievements open. And the crystals give you more points at the end of the level.

Did you make any other games or was this your first?

I’ve been doing for over 15 years games, but this is my first official game. The company has only been around for 3 years now.

Longer than me then, only started 13 years ago. Did you make games professionally before or just as a hobby?

Just a hobby The material for the future has accumulated quite a lot now.

So now that bouncy rescue is released, what are your plans for the future?

The Japanese release on PS4 and the Xbox One release, and after that start thinking what is our next project.

No plans to get this on the switch?

There is not right now any kind of agreement for the Nintendo Switch. But it is not excluded.

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Besides your release, you also started a race on the release day for speedrunners. Why did you do this?

It’s great to see how fast someone really gets through the game. And of course fastest will get rewarded.

Already thought of what the reward will be?

Yes, it will be a cash prize.

I won’t ask how much that cash reward is. Anyway, we are reaching the end of the interview. The game is interesting and worth to get, and has gotten a high score on our review. Do you have any last words for our readers?

Hope you got the game and like to play it. And more info about races will come to our website (bitecore.com). Thank you for your support in advance!


Want to play Bounce Resue!? You can get it on steam now. We hope to see you in the race as well. Remember, the best place after 2 months gets a cash price. And I will personally add 5$ to the reward of the first place.

Come Over to my Fist! – Gang Beasts Review

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Ready to take some anger out on some unsuspecting friends? Do you need a physics engine that makes very little sense with destructibles that break when you look at them funny? Well look no further! Gang Beasts has everything you need to get you started on clunky, awkward fighting as you beat the living snot out of someone and throw them, wait that didn’t work, throw them over– crap! He didn’t go over, hold on…. Throw them over the side of a building!

Gang Beasts is a multiplayer fighting game that you can play with your friends at home or online. You start out with a fairly impressive selection of player skins, although they don’t affect the gameplay a great deal, they are still fun to play. However, if it is your first time playing, get ready to start scratching your head if you either didn’t figure out the controls or don’t have anyone there to tell you how to use them. The controls and the character movement is so awkward that you need to get good with the controls in a big hurry, as those people you are playing with already have a gigantic advantage that is very hard to get over.

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However, that’s not to say you won’t still have fun playing. Even as you are getting the snot kicked out of you, there are several fun and creative ways to die throughout the large number of levels. Not to mention the fun little glitches you find along the way can be a lot of fun to look at. Even if you haven’t mastered the controls, the opponents you are facing can make some serious mistakes that you can all have a good little chuckle at. If you have the right group of people to play with, this game can be a great deal of fun.

No matter how fun the game can be, though, the controls and the game itself has its shortcomings that cannot be overlooked. Saying that the physics engine can be a problem is a serious understatement. You could be fighting someone for around ten seconds in one place and your platform could fall out from under you, killing you and whoever was on it with you when it happened. Then there are game glitches such as the same level repeating over and over again as you put the maps on random.

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When it comes to the overall experience, there isn’t a whole lot to look at here. It has no story mode, not that it really needs it, but it also doesn’t have a whole lot of content. There is a versus mode, a co-op mode, and there is also soccer (or the Football that is not American) mode. Beyond that, there is not a great deal to go off of. Once you are done playing through two random free-for-all matches with friends two or three times, you will probably be getting a headache with the game controls, and no, that is not an exaggeration, you will get a headache. There is probably a good two hours of gameplay overall.

The best method of playing when you first start out will definitely be the co-op mode, but as said before, you still need the right group of people to play with before you venture into this territory. Learning the controls is top priority, or you’re going to be losing, and losing a lot. It is a quirky game that will leave you flabbergasted in the wake of what it has in store for you, for better or worse. It can be a lot of fun to watch your friends make idiots out of themselves with one of the weirdest physics engines ever created, and it can be a gas surprising yourself with what you can do with it. If you have a group of friends to play with, this game is fairly well recommended. If not then it may be best to hold out on buying it until you get a few of the game’s flaws sorted out for yourself, either by walkthroughs or playing the game at someone else’s expense.

Another Addicting Jailbreak – The Escapists 2

Immediately, not sooner or later, I was drawn in. The Team17 logo that shot across my screen assembled itself into from panes of material and shattered only to reveal the start of your captivating experience. The title of the game,‘Escapists 2’, makes its appearance. I’m excited, I haven’t even pressed a button yet, and already my imagination is lit up with different imagery. Prisoners squeeze through the cracks of the game title, emphasizing the name of the game. Quick, they’re escaping! Sirens and flashing neon flood the screen. On queue, the men in blue arrive in full force ready to detain all the convicts they think will get away. The chase has begun.  As for spot on intros…. nailed it.

The Escapists 2

The Escapists 2

The splash screen, and introduction to the theme of the game got me amped. I was ready to go, and when I got to the initial game play screen where I could select options like play versus, play game, my characters, criminal record, and leaderboards, I didn’t hesitate. I clicked ‘PLAY GAME’, and was ready to go. Unexpectedly, I got a lovely note from my warden. He even offered me a place to learn how to escape. I mean, I got this in the bag if the wardens on my side. So I figured I’d make like Andy Dufresne and escape this tin box. I mean, how often do you look at a man’s shoes?

Welcome Prisoner

Welcome Prisoner

Interestingly enough, I wrote the last paragraph before continuing with the tutorial. I mean why not write your initial thoughts down while through the progression of trying something? I’d rather have that genuine feel too each and every word then well thought out after-the-fact. I made a Shawshank Redemption prior, and how spot on I was. Sipping on the beach, enjoy the sand and sunshine. You won’t understand how great this tutorial is until you try it yourself, it even makes you feel rushed like you would in a real prison escape. Guards chasing you while you’re trying to read what to do. I’m sure you can’t actually get caught in the tutorial, but it definitely gives you the vibe that it’s over for you. I won’t ruin the end for you, but the tutorial is worth it just for the story line. This initial prison gives you just enough information to stomp out the learning curve, and get you onto the track of escaping. Tutorial… nailed it.

After figuring out the basics of the game, I headed back to the character screen. I wanted the prisoner to be a representation of me in pixel form. I got to work. I killed Clive, and that’s why I’m a prisoner to begin with, but I also needed a spot for me. After renaming my character too ‘Johnny’, I was disappointed with the face selection options. Apparently I could only have a round ball head or an oval egg head, and skin tones seemed lacking as well. I felt like there could have been a larger range here. There were only three options, however those options were satisfactory. The hair options were great, tons of them. However, I also felt like they could have had a better selection of hairstyles if you were able to select a hairstyle and then choose the color of that hairstyle. Instead they give you some basic options that you can choose from, and their hair color variations. This is true for the beard, hat, and eye wear options as well. For character creation, I was a little disappointed however it wasn’t terrible. In the end, I still made a pretty bad-ass mockup of me. They call me Mr. Johnny.

Mr. Johnny

Mr. Johnny

It was time to get the ball rolling for real! So I moved on to my first real prison, and I was loaded up with all kinds of information beforehand. Apparently the warden had a lot of escape attempts and successes before so they built a new more ‘secure’ prison. This warden is probably a walk in the park, so breaking out is probably going to be easy. Plus, with these epic glasses I got on, I’ll have everyone begging to be my friend. Center Perks 2.0, I’m going to show you who the boss is.

First Prison

First Prison

I was excited to play after reading about the prison and what not, but I was slowed down by the prison customization screen. I thought it was awesome that I was able to update every single guard, and every single prisoner to have a look that I deemed necessary or a name of my choosing. Well, and that is how my entire family got locked up with me. Don’t worry family, I’m going to break us all out! However, I’m still disappointed with the character creation screens here because they’re exactly the same when I created my character. I’m liking them a little bit more because I still get mostly the desired effect, however I feel as if more work could of went into this. Into gameplay!

Boom, I’m in the first prison straight off the bus. I don’t spawn somewhere random like my cell, and the warden walks me through the prison like its a fancy hotel. Shows me where to get my hot meals, how I can gain strength, speed, and intellect, and he hands me the keys to the gate. Alright, alright, he didn’t hand me the keys to the gate of the prison, but he might as well have. I didn’t feel the character strength I should have from the warden, as he lead me to my cell that was nicer than a Hilton Suite. The best part of all of this? The film crew recording everything. I’m going to be on television, ma!

On my first day to breakfast, I immediately made the mistake of left clicking and getting into a fight. I got the rocks kicked out of me. I saw all the pretty coins above people’s heads, and I thought I could chat to them with my left mouse click, and then I realized… Nope, I’m going to wake up in the hospital. I will say, the way the infirmary staff carries you from the place you get knocked out at to a bed is pretty awesome. I later learned that all I had to do is hold my action key to shop from someone. Lessons are learned quickly. Time to hit the gym!

Gaining stamina, strength, and intellect are repetitive, but they go up really fast. So they’re easy to get high quick. So I didn’t have to worry too much about all my skills, I quickly skipped any part of the routine that I could without getting into to much trouble. I made sure to get my energy up by napping, taking showers, and attending all meal times. Every chance I could I went to go raise my skills ‘cause I knew I’d need them high to build things that would help me escape, and rob people who had things I needed. I also learned during this period that as long as you show up during the last minute of the task you get credit for it. So I would skip some of the tasks that I didn’t need. Like dinner time was after shower time, and both raise your energy. I didn’t need dinner so I showed up at the last minute, and didn’t get in trouble by the guards and still got extra study time in. Day one was over before I knew it.

Day two- I knew it, I had to prep for my escape. These walls had too been closing in, I started to feel like I’d be trapped here forever, and I knew that I had to get out. Lucky me, when I woke up I had found some screwdrivers in a fellow prisoners bunk, and I took them for my own. I weakened the vent in my cell to 10% and found the target cell I’ll need to be hide in when I make my great escape. I’ve located a weak path to the North of the facility, I’ll just need to hide in the cover of night.  Somehow the guards found damage that I had made earlier in the game, while attacking a wall and they beat the snot out of me in my own cell. Was a good time, but I’m still on the war path to escape. Well, I was then several days passed.

Needless to say I eventually escaped, however its not as easy as it looks. This game is totally worthwhile, however may take up some time in your life. I would recommend this to a friend or family member who wants to burn some time. Once you have played this game a few times it gets really easy, however it is pretty hard at the start. The online play is almost not worth it because you have to escape with all the other prisoners. Sometimes other players can be hard to work with. I mean, we’re all supposed to be convicts after all sometimes someone gets left behind. However, when you get out, Red, I’ll be waiting for you on the other side.

Endless Playability – Dead Cells Early Access Review

Dead Cells is the kind of game that baits you into hour long marathons. You dip your toes in to test the waters and end up free falling. Sessions end with a pounding head and bloodshot eyes, but your regret is tempered with unwavering satisfaction. You promise yourself this won’t happen tomorrow, but when night comes around, you find yourself in the same chair, the same game, with the same results. I consider this a litmus test, where your enjoyment results in something tangible.

Dead Cells considers itself an illegitimate child of a Metroidvania and Rougelite – a RogueVania. The world it tosses players into is ever-changing, each run guaranteed a unique experience due to a non-linear progression system. Endless replayability wrapped up in a merciless, electrifying package. There’s never a dull moment as you explore the labyrinthine corridors of each level. For every platform you scale, a surprise awaits, be it a reward or an enemy, exploration is exhilarating because you never know what’s around the bend.

The world of Dead Cells is vibrant and lively. Each level has its own ecosystem, and while some enemies are constants, there’s always a newer and stronger enemy to contend with. Dying is inevitable, but every death pushes your progress forward even by a single centimeter. This isn’t the kind of game you can brute force your way through. Practice makes perfect, and the road to victory is a slow, steady one. An insurmountable obstacle today becomes a cakewalk tomorrow.

Collecting ‘Cells’ from enemies allows you to upgrade your character’s abilities and equipment in the rest area between each level. You lose the cells if you die half-way, so think carefully before diving into the fray with swords swinging. It’s a gamble on the chance to earn more or potentially losing everything.

Non-permanent upgrades arrive in the form of ‘Scrolls’, allowing you to customize a preferred build for your character. Want to be a glass cannon? Go for it. What’s that you say? The best offense is a good defense? Sure, whatever floats your boat. The headless character you control is but clay, waiting to be moulded into your ideal.

Your character lacks the ability to speak, but its personality shines through its reactions to various NPCs and events. Overzealous head nods, shoulder shrugs, I find it amazing how much it conveys despite not saying a word. I never missed a thing, because the gorgeous pixel art makes it near impossible to look away. Dead Cells oozes style and beauty, the amount of detail put into the sprites, background and objects, is staggering. Projectiles exploding in solid, pink spheres, the shower of sparks on the tail end of a chain lifting a wooden platform. Early Access isn’t something I’d associate with this game.

Other than the art, combat is easily the best thing about Dead Cells. Combat feels buttery smooth, an intricate dance instead of messy, clumsy blows. The pool of weapons you can choose from is varied; from swords to whips to bows. There are advantages and disadvantages to each of them, experimentation is key in finding a favourite weapon to eviscerate an enemy. I stuck to the traditional sword and shield as I have an unfortunate preference for rubbing elbows with things that bite back, and a shield is handy for times where I’d miss a target and stare down at a nocked arrow.

Players can also arm themselves with gadgets for extra firepower. They are especially useful during boss fights, the bear traps and grenades come in handy when faced with an enemy twice your size.

I’m reminded, very rudely, of the fact that Dead Cells is still a work in progress, when I’m interrupted by an error message. I don’t mind it too much since it’s nothing ctrl-alt-del can’t fix, but it chips at my enjoyment when I’m half-way through a really, good run and have to restart. These incidents are rare, I’ve come across only two so far, but it can be a tipping point for fussy gamers.

If you can handle the occasional bug, I’d heartily recommend Dead Cells. It is a challenging, mesmerizing experience that will have you craving more after the first taste.

Rage Quit Labyrinth – Hollow Knight Review

Name: Hollow Knight
Developer: Team Cherry
Publisher: Team Cherry
Release Date: 24 February 2017
Platform: PC (click here for the Steam link)

It’d be really easy to sit here and liken Team Cherry’s Hollow Knight to any Metroid game, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do. Hollow Knight plays a helluva lot like classic and contemporary Metroid games. If there was ever a game that embodies the word “Metroidvania”, it’s Hollow Knight. Cut it in half and you’ll find a picture of Samus Aran running through it.

Ok, so you get it by now. Hollow Knight is a 2D platformer with a sprawling map to explore. Periodic skill upgrades enable you to backtrack and access previously out-of-reach areas, find more upgrades, and advance the story.

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But instead of super missiles and life-draining flying parasites, Hollow Knight offers a weird and wonderful world full of talking bugs, corporeal dreams and ancient prophecies. The game opens with a tough but diminutive warrior awakening and jumping from a really high cliff to find a largely abandoned village called Dirtmouth.

It sits above a ruined, ancient kingdom that was sealed a long time ago – only the well in Dirtmouth allows access. And there’s something down there stirring from a long slumber…

Mechanically, Hollow Knight is everything you could ask for from a modern platformer. Expanding on the classic basics, it adds in a plethora of new twists and ideas to provide a challenging title even for genre veterans. All of those speed run videos you can find will seem extra impressive once you actually play the game for yourself.

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The protagonist attacks foes with his trusty nail, bashing enemies at melee range. Supplementing this are some ranged spells, and later, advanced nail techniques that let you deliver charged power attacks. Enemies drop currency that can be used to buy map upgrades, more charms, or expand the nifty Stag system that serves as the ancient kingdom’s Underground network.

Adding versatility to how you play Hollow Knight is the charm system. Each charm has a different effect, and occupies a certain number of notches; the more powerful the effect, the more notches you use up. For example, you can use a charm that gives you bonus health, that shows where you are on the map, or extends the attack range of the nail to attack enemies.

You can gain more notches by purchasing them at stores, or unlocking them via challenges, but ultimately it comes down to the choice of having fewer stronger boons, or more numerous weaker ones. I found myself leaning towards the latter, though of course every player will be different. And the sheer volume of charms makes it fun to experiment with different combinations.

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And experiment you shall, because Hollow Knight can be savagely, ruthlessly, mercilessly hard. There’s a small safety redundancy in place in that if you die, all of your hard-earned cash stays in the same location with a shade of your former self. If you defeat it, you reclaim your lost loot. But if you die again before you do, it’s all lost. Forever. And that’s even before you play the game in Steel Soul mode, which inflicts permadeath.

Luckily, Hollow Knight is a pleasure for the eyes and ears, so although the repeated deaths you’ll endure will culminate in repeated rage quits, exploring the labyrinthine depths of the fallen kingdom of Hallownest will take the edge off the anger.

I continue to be a fan of understated graphic styles, and the sleepy, dusty kingdom of Hallownest certainly showcases one. There’s such a rich and varied texture to each of the areas; the palette of Hollow Knight isn’t that varied, which makes how distinct the different sections of the world are such an achievement.

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And what a world map it is. There’s a sprawling maze of interconnected caverns, rivers of acid, and forests of fungus to explore. And if there is a joy above all of the others in Hollow Knight, it’s in the exploration. The game places a high premium on the art of mapping, making it really difficult at first to navigate the mysterious depths.

Indeed, it’ll cost you a precious charm notch just to keep track of where you are at any given time. Incomplete maps of each area must be bought, and yet another item purchased to add new rooms to the map as you travel through them. Map pins keep track of places of interest – once you buy them, of course. Fortunately, Hollow Knight doesn’t operate a microtransaction system!

You can lose hours plumbing the depths of Hollow Knight, and just when things get too frustrating – and they will get frustrating – it’s easy to put the difficult area to one side in favour another far-flung corner of the large game map. A treat for the eyes, a nostalgia hit for old-school Metroid fans, and more challenges than a political election in Florida; Hollow Knight has a lot to offer.

EnomView Score: 9 out of 10