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September 22, 2017

Steam Pack 6


It hasn’t been very long since the last one, hasn’t it? Only… five weeks! Eh, what can I say. I have a massive Steam collection.

It has actually grown a bit since this picture was taken.

Truly. Massive.

And how many of those have I reviewed so far? About 35. Which, granted, for a guy who’s been reviewing Steam games for about a year, it’s impressive. The Steam Packs help a lot in filtering out the games that don’t need a full, 2,000-word review. And since I have a lot of quick, short games, I like making these Packs. Thus I bring to you Pack #6, containing 4 more games I’ve played in recent months, games that I believe need nothing more than 500 words. Tales of riding music, collecting upgrades, beating puzzles and… worms eating each other? Ew. No, all four together, that doesn't sound like a good game at all!

Audiosurf 2



Price: 14.99$ USD.

The first Audiosurf game is a legend of Steam, one of the earlier games on the platform, released in 2008. Such massive popularity guaranteed a sequel would eventually be made, with upgrades, tweaks and overhauls of the various types of levels. I remember saying that the Medium difficulty on Mono was pretty simple after a while. Well, this changed. The base concept hasn’t quite changed, you still ride a track based on the song you’re using, going slower upwards when the song has a slower tempo, and going downwards quickly when the song’s speed picks up. The original game had three difficulty settings and multiple modes, including Ninja, Mono, Pusher and more. Audiosurf 2 keeps the modes, but does away with difficulty settings. You’re all on the same page! Why? Because the game now keeps track of your progress and score in a song compared to the progress of others who played it, as the level goes. I suppose it would be bothersome to have multiple difficulty levels on top of that. It’s kinda annoying for those who want to start with an easier difficulty level to get used to the game before plunging into the actual challenge.


Before you start playing, you can also pick among various skins. Tired of the regular look? Pick a skin, any skin! There’s only 5 at first: Stadium, Mystical, Dusk, Neon and Classic. The blocks to collect don’t really change, but the vehicle and obstacles do; as an example, in the Dusk skin, my personal favorite, you drive in a small car and the obstacles are thousands of black cars in the way. In Stadium Mode, they’re spikes on the road.

The best addition to Audiosurf 2, however, is the possibility for players to create new modes and skins and make them available on the Workshop. You can spend hours checking what fans created, and pick in there what you wish to see in the game! That’s sweet.

Of course, once again you can pick among all the songs in your collection, from the shortest to the longest. You want a quick level? A long one? A regular one? A marathon? Enjoy. But that’s not all! Each day, a new song is featured, the Song of the Day, and you can play it – and every previous Song of the Day. To top it off, your options become even more limitless, somehow, as you can input the URL of a YouTube video and use THAT as your level!

However… as much as I enjoy the system overhaul, I have to say I’m not fond of them removing the difficulty selections, nor am I fond of the new way the cubes are set up in a level or the scoring system. The score cubes and obstacles aren’t spread out now, there’s more of them all over the track. The focus has changed from simply collecting blocks to trying to collect 21 and fill the 3X7 grid you’re given, which gives extra points. More emphasis has been put on competition, which isn’t to my tastes either. If you’re playing a popular song, your score will be tracked in real-time… and compared to the Top 5 scores on that song. AKA, you’ll most likely not reach the Top 5 and, so, you'll see the Top 5 scores as they beat you. Not very fun. Otherwise, good game. I can’t say I like it as much as Audiosurf 1, though I can see why many people would prefer Audiosurf 2, what with the endless creative possibilities and tighter timing challenge. Also, some people like trying to beat a high score, which isn't why I was playing the first Audiosurf, to be honest.

DLC Quest


Price: 2.99$ USD.

Thanks! I would have never guessed!
I remember playing many games that took some video game concepts to their logical conclusion; I remember Achievement Unlocked and its sequels on Newgrounds, and I also remember Upgrade Complete. DLC Quest does the same, this time bringing the concept of downloadable content to its extreme. Only downside is, that’s not actually mocking DLC, and the concept is closer to Upgrade Complete.

The joke with this game and its sequel is that your character starts off with practically no abilities, being pretty much only able to walk forward. You collect in-game coins, buy upgrades – like the ability to jump or move to the left. This opens the way for more coins, more upgrades, and so on. As for why you need to get all of these upgrades? The plot is simple: Your girlfriend was kidnapped by the villain. Kill him… that’s all. But since your progress is constantly stunted by the abilities you lack, you have to buy more and more DLC.

Double jump? Heck yea!

So, what's my quest today?
The game is packaged with its sequel, Live Freemium Or Die, which follows the same concept but is a little longer to complete. This time around, the game is a bit more challenging, as you need to complete various tasks on top of discovering who killed so many villagers. From a village, we go in caves, discover the villain, then the villain behind that villain. As it turns out, the real bad guy is ________, who decided you were ____________________________________________. Want to have that spoiler revealed? Buy this 2$ DLC to update the blog! On top of that, you can actually die in “Live Freemium Or Die”, although there is no limit to the ives you can lose. It only makes the platforming aspect a little more difficult. On top of that, you can’t get a double jump here and must become a talented wall-jumper to get to the end instead.

Pop! I prefer the Rock zone myself.
Both games are ripe with geek and gaming references (with one NPC spouting memes, which the player character reacts to with groans and annoyance), and even reference popular gameplay elements (again, double/wall jump, collecting coins and upgrades, zombies, sudden sexy clothing), all to throw some shade on it all. The first DLC Quest is ridiculously easy, with most of the challenge being to find every single coin in order to buy the final “DLC”, which is what kills the final boss. But hey, no way to die in that one, and it can be completed pretty quickly. “Live Freemium Or Die” goes even further, adding more piques to the gaming industry in general, featuring pointless fetch quests, NPCs with no purpose outside of their one role (and they say so once that they’re past their purpose, too!), blatant advertisement sections (“BUY SODA”), an entire DLC area that must be bought to progress… They even have a Season Pass! As in, buy that pass to be able to go through the winter that blocks your way to the boss. Freaking season passes…

Pretty clever stuff, and I have a good time each time I play these two games. The first one is too easy, and the second one is long and demands too much backtracking from the player, but that’s a minor issue. Add very funny dialogue to the whole thing, and you get a game that’s worth, yeah, about 3$. And for speedrunners out there, the two hardest achievements to get are all about beating both games in record time.

Picross Touch


Price: Free

Is it the year of Picross for me? I reviewed Pokémon Picross early this year, and now… well, I’m getting into another Picross game. This one is bare-bones, basic, as if they wanted it to be minimal for easy transportation to other platforms, like mobile. This take on Picross features large squares, a simple system and fairly small grid sizes, which makes me think that this was supposed to be made for smaller screens. Oh well!

Somewhat easy.
Picross Touch (the name is another indication that this may have been intended for touch screens) drops any unnecessary elements to focus on the puzzles. You get a few basic tutorials, then you’re thrown into the level selection screen. Pick your size: As simple as 5X5, or as difficult as 15X15? The base game contains an impressive number of puzzles, too: 57 5X5 puzzles, 122 10X10 puzzles, and 187 15X15 puzzles. Even if you never go in the Workshop, you’ll have plenty of puzzles to solve! Not that they’re difficult, mind you; the smaller the grid, the easier it is to find where each black square goes. The menu screen even tracks your progress in the game! I currently have 27% of all the main game’s puzzles solved.

Still simple.

Still not satisfied? Go in the Workshop, where thousands upon thousands of puzzles have been crafted by the community. On the day I published this review, the current number is 8556. You’re reading this review later, the number must have increased. The best part about the Workshop must be that people can make puzzles up to 25X25 squares in size, allowing a lot more creativity.

This one looks pretty tough!
Speaking of creativity, the level editor is also pretty great. You pick your grid size, then you can start creating! Obviously, you only have access to black squares on a white grid, so you need to have an image that people will recognize despite the simplistic design. You can make puzzles from 5X5 to 25X25 in size. You can then publish it through the Steam Workshop! And to top it all off, when you’ve finished your puzzle, an automated system will go through the grid and rapidly solve it; if it can’t solve it, then you’ll need a few more black squares, as the numbered hints at the top and on the left won’t allow a human to solve it either. In other words, you cannot publish on the Picross Touch Workshop a puzzle that is impossible to complete.

This is good! Very, very good! Simple, but sweet. Yeah, I recommend this! If you want to get your fill of quick and easy Picross puzzles every once in a while, this is a nice thing to have in your library.

Worm.is


Price: Free-to-play

Worm.is, that’s a title I discussed already on my blog, way back when I first covered my 12 Steam discoveries. I was still an early user at the time, and would just download whatever free title I could get my hands on. This was one of them. This modern, multiplayer take on the famous Snake arcade classic was one of the first games to get me hooked to Steam. Not that it’s that great, mind you, but it showed the kind of creativity I could expect from many developers on the platform.

Little worm goes big.
In Worm.is, you’re a worm traveling around the great nothing, with bugs and bits scattered around. Eat them, grow bigger. Contrary to the original computer Snake game, this time you can pass over yourself once you’ve gotten big enough, instead of eating a part of yourself. Beware of other worms on the field who are also collecting bugs and growing. How can you kill other worms? Either by forcing them to ram into you, or by ramming into them if you’re significantly larger than them. It’s a tricky thing as you might want to avoid taking risks and stop yourself from ramming into other worms while you’re still small. When a worm is killed, it leaves behind a trail of dots, which the other worms can then eat to get stronger. There are leaderboards, and the entire point is to try and reach the first place – and keep it.

A level-up system? Huh.
The game is packaged with plenty of modes – free-for-all, teamwork (teams of worms try to collect more points than everyone else), Capture The Egg, Scourges (in which you can only kill others by using traps you can set around the board), Crazy Mode (where worms can be as gigantic as they want to be), Tournaments – of course – , 1vs1 matches, competitive modes, guild wars and private matches. A ton of options.

Now, I did describe this game as a free-to-play experience, although you can pay real money to buy in-game coins, which can already be collected quite easily around a board by a sufficiently tenacious player. Even then, they’re to be used mostly to customize your worm or give it some equipment. Yes, there is such a thing as equipment in the game, and it can make your worm more durable, or a better attacker, or a quicker mover…

Little worm has gone big.
Hide your homes, it's gonna devour everything.
It’s a fun little game, I can’t personally say it hooked me for a long time, but I have fun whenever I decide to click it in my collection. Not a title in which I’d make a name for myself in multiplayer, nothing major. It’s a little something. It looks nice, plays well, and provides a decent challenge… In the end, it’s still just a multiplayer version of Snake. There’s only so much fun you can have with that. The various modes help, of course, but I can’t guarantee it to be a title you could spend hundreds of hours on. And hey, if you get bored of this one, there are two variants called Mitos.is and Strike.is made by the same studio, to keep you busy.

I hope you liked this Steam Pack! Now to move on to another Top 12 list… and then… Well…a movie review. Not any movie, either… but you’ll see that in due time.

September 18, 2017

Shantae: Risky's Revenge (Part 2)

In Part 1, we collected 2 of the 3 seals and went on our way to find the last one. We help zombies by giving them coffee, and in return they'll help her go inside that dungeon. We need a machine, beans and a rotten egg – because the zombies have no taste, apparently. Coffee machine? Not far from the Lilac Fields. Beans? In a hidden cave in the forest. Rotten egg? That's been dealt with.

The elephant is the least graceful of all her forms, but it's
damn practical to smash golems and other rocky
formations. 
Speaking of quests, there’s an interesting additional side-quest you can complete. It involves finding jars of magic jam scattered around Sequin Land. Most of them are located in areas that cannot be reached until you have the proper ability – the monkey to climb walls, the elephant to destroy blocks and ram over small pits, or anything the mermaid does. There’s 17 to find.

By the way, each of Shantae’s forms can obtain a new ability as well, all of which are required to beat the game. The monkey form of Shantae can shoot itself from wall to wall like a bullet, the elephant can do a stomp to destroy blocks and the mermaid can blow bubbles. Just gotta find those abilities hidden around the world map!

I needed to bring you this coffee so that I could continue on
my quest. Of course I'd bring it to you.
Bu do you have any idea how much trouble it was?

Shantae’s friend Sky, another one on the list of girls in skimpy outfits in this game, helps her make a latte for the zombies, using a rotten egg as promised. And what do we get from them in return? Explosives, of course! We’ll force our way into the third baron’s dungeon! We just need an electric spark to blow the thing up… Gee, good thing Shantae has the Cloud Puff that blasts everything with thunder!

September 15, 2017

Shantae: Risky's Revenge (Part 1)


Hey, remember that review of DuckTales Remastered I posted early this year? Well, I’m going back to the Wayforward well for now. And, this time, I’ll be playing a game I’ve never played before! Even before I played through Super Metroid for my review, I knew the “Metroidvania” genre was large and encompassed multiple franchises – I mean, what was I expecting? Only Metroid and Castlevania? Come on, Nic. There’s got to be more than those. And, indeed, there are. Tons and tons of games that are set under the genre. Gigantic maps, with a lot of secrets? Weaponry, abilities and items required to move forward in the game? Memorable environments? Yep, Metroidvania alright.

There is one franchise that I had never played before, and it falls squarely into the genre. Tell me, who is a dedicated heroine who feels the need to help her fellows, thanks to her prehensile purple hair and generally friendly demeanor?


What? No! I meant Shantae!

That’s her. While Shantae’s franchise only contains four main games for now, she has already found a large following thanks to the intriguing storyline, the tongue-in-cheek comedic tone, and the endearing main characters. That cutesy art style on the main cast couldn’t have hurt, either… and same for the fanservice, if Pervert-Me is allowed a single comment today in this review. The clash between the cuteness of the style and the very revealing clothing is what makes this game hard to pin on the ERSB charts. Is it for kids? Yeah, but there are many jokes that would be understood only by adults…

How else would you get a half-genie anyway? You can guess the implications behind this term, right?


Shantae first appeared in her eponymous title, on the Game Boy Color, in 2002. She then took an 8-year break until coming back again in 2010's “Shantae: Risky’s Revenge”, a downloadable title on the Nintendo DSiWare. This one was re-released in 2014 mere months before the release of “Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse”, available on Nintendo 3DS and WiiU through the eShop. Then, a fourth game was crowdfunded on Kickstarter, and the resulting title, “Shantae: Half-Genie Hero”, came out on WiiU, PS4, PSVita, Xbox One, and lately on the Switch. The last three games were also released on Steam… and I already own two. I only need Half-Genie Hero now. I decided it would be best to discuss the games in order, so I’ll start with Risky’s Revenge, and see whenever I can review the other one – and the last one, if I get to buy it. This intro has been long enough, let’s jump into this game, shall we?

September 8, 2017

Unturned


There are more zombie games on Steam than there are zombies in any single one of those games. I’m barely kidding. The zombie survival genre is… well, basically a zombie by this point, coming back to life every once in a while through cheap knockoffs that can barely be called games. Those are the titles that enrage the Jim Sterlings of this world in how TOO identical they are, having been built from the same resources.

After an hour or two in the game, you should be fully
clothed, armed, and very dangerous.
You better be prepared, the maps are pretty big.
See those mountains way far in the diatcnce here?
You can go there. You can even swim across.
And this is only a medium-sized map!
Unturned has the most basic concept of them all: Your place has been struck by "something" that turned everyone else into zombies. You’ve been unaffected by the virus. You have to survive by gathering resources, building a fort, learning skills and fending off zombies. Also, you start the game entirely nekkid, with very limited inventory space. Not that nudity matters much considering your character is blocky like a Minecraft protagonist.

Nelson Sexton, of Smartly Dressed Games, published the first version of Unturned in 2014, and the title was in Early Access until July 7th, 2017, where its full version was made available. Have I mentioned that Sexton was only 16 when he released the first version? This guy’s going to go far in life. Unturned is already hailed as one of the better zombie survival games out there… which sadly also means that it single-handedly spawned a whole wave of cheap imitators. But let’s be fair and criticize this game on its own merits, not on what it’s led to, shall we?

Two words come to me when I start playing Unturned: Complete freedom. You’re given the choice to play alone or make a server with friends. If you’re a team guy, you can get yourself into a multiplayer game. The gameplay hardly changes between the two, it’s always the same concept: Survive. You’re dropped, naked, in the map you’ve selected, and you must get clothes, weapons, and so on. The concept is very simple and you’re free to explore the map to your liking. There are large areas of nature, small inhabited areas, and lots of water.

September 4, 2017

Clockwork Tales: Of Glass And Ink (Part 2)

Throughout Part 1 of this review, we met Evangeline Glass, and we saw her father figure Ambrose Ink kidnapped by some evil Barber (that’s the villain’s name, he’s not actually a barber), so we investigated the outside of the Inn we started in, ended up in a zeppelin, landed in a castle backyard, got caught, escaped easily, and found our way to the basement. There lies the Tremor Machine used by Barber to cause earthquakes in the region. Our protagonist has managed to do all this without ever applying violence to any actual humans!

Okay, I can buy a giant mechanical spider, but a large
machine right over lava? C'm'on.
She’s like a child-friendly Black Widow! And on top of that, Evangeline is a female protagonist who isn’t sexualized in any way! Sure, we may see her once or twice, and she is attractive, but it’s never alluded to nor does it ever become a point of discussion from other characters!

We are now in the underground area beneath Barber’s castle, right above the magma. Sheesh, you have to wonder how the Hell he was able to build that thing so deep into the Earth! And of course, the bridge to the Tremor Machine has been removed so that Barber can work on it undisturbed, so we have to find a way towards it. Should be easy, we just have to explore that room with various robotic body parts, or maybe the room with that giant machine and a cell, from which we can see Ambrose Ink peeking…


Oh hey, I found him! Well, that was easy.