Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Dungeon Souls

Dungeon Souls isn't a completely new game.  It builds from the shoulders of previous games. If you take Dark Souls, mix in a little Nuclear Throne, and a splash of Risk of Rain you get Dungeon Souls. It sounds like a lot of fun, but there are a few problems here and there.  Luckily, these are things that  can be fixed.  Let us note that this game is in early access and still isn't completed.

The game starts off by letting you choose a fallen warrior. There are a few to choose from, however the ones that stand out the most are the archer and mage. Each class has a primary attack and two abilities to switch between. Each ability has a certain amount of cool down that prevents a constant spam of attacks. Choosing a class wisely is key to making it through each dungeon. 

Each dungeon you enter is randomly generated, but has the same objective. Find six things to activate, fight the monsters that come out of them, and make it to the next dungeon. Enemies can also randomly spawn anywhere and if you don't move fast enough a special monster comes after you that kills you in one hit.  It's a little bit like the Yeti in Ski Free and if you don't remember that game then I feel sorry for you. Either way, the name of the game is, "speed and efficiency". 

Enemies drop money which you can use to buy upgrades from the shopkeeper that is randomly placed in each dungeon. Choose wisely as you only have one choice before he vanishes.  With each enemy you dispatch, you will gain experience. Each level you gain you can increase accuracy, damage, defense, or speed. 

Take note, this game is hard. Don't expect to make it past the first dungeon the first few times.  After defeating two dungeons the player will reach a boss and so far I still haven't beaten him.  This game is intended to kill you over and over again. You, as the smart, charismatic, and handsome person that you are, will learn from your mistakes and keep beating your head against this wall until one of you breaks.  My money is on you, kiddo!

Again, this is an early access game that I am hoping they make some improve.  The Barbarian class comes to mind as something that could be re-evaluated. He has lots of health, but his attack speed and weapon reach just make you a slow moving target that dies... slowly.  The longer range classes have a clear advantage, making the archer the easiest class for beginners.

My opinion is that Dungeon Souls is totally worth your money to pick up.  It's not perfect, but it is worth it.  Again, it's in early access with a few issues.  Online multiplayer is coming soon so it will only go up in price. If you like challenging games with countless enemies and awesome abilities then Dungeon Souls is the game for you.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Curious Expedition Impressions

My feeling towards this game were mixed at first, and to be fair, they are still mixed.  With around 9 hours under my belt--my feelings are a mixture of confusion, wonder, stress, and excitement.  I feel like these are completely appropriate and capture the sense of exploration into the unknown.  This is much better than my initial reaction of frustration and annoyance.

There are still a great number of things that could be done better in this game, but damn it if it isn't an addicting experience.  You choose a famous likeness to start-- each has their own perks to start with.  There are various forms of currency in the game and the most valuable forms of currency is your sanity.  Out on an expedition with no end in sight, after days of no rest, and being pursued by wild animals could drive even the hardiest adventure a little loony.

The maps (and therefore movement) are hexagon-based.  The maps are randomly generated offering almost limitless adventures.  The point of these adventures is to become famous, but there is no point in being famous if you aren't around to enjoy it.  You must survive as well.  All movement takes effort which is calculated in time, sanity, and resources.  For example, moving through a jungle tile costs more sanity and time than moving through a grassland tile.  However, this can be mitigated by the use of a machete.  Wherever you try to move you will always be informed of the cost of that move first.  In addition to this, there is a lot of number crunching that you are not privy to through the course of the game.  You can also do things such as resting at a local village or get drunk to restore sanity.  My words of advice are to bring lots of whiskey with you. 

As an explorer you explore, make discoveries, loot shrines, and piss off the locals.  The ultimate goal of each level is to find the golden temple to exit the level.  There are various items you can use along the way to ease your travel, but make no bones about it-- this is not an easy game.  It's not especially hard per say, but it has no problem with screwing you over at the drop of a hat.  The discoveries and artifacts that you bring back with you can be kept, sold, or donated to a museum.  Doing these different things have various benefits like fame, money, or bonuses on your next expedition.  These choices can make or break your explorer, so choose wisely.  You can also choose a bonus perk at the end of each expedition that stays with you until your untimely demise.

You have a compass that is always pointing in the general direction(s) of the golden temple.  At the start of a level it is entirely inaccurate and bouncing around all over the place.  As you uncover more of the map the compass becomes more accurate--supposedly.  This is my one big problem with the game.  While this is one of the ways the game offers up difficulty, I have learned to almost completely ignore the compass on later expeditions.  The needle wavers from north to south or worse-- sometimes it's well over 180 degrees even after I have uncovered the majority of the map.  This makes finding the golden temple blind luck at times.  It does, in its own way, add a layer of strategy to the game because it forces you to analyze the map itself for the most likely places the golden temple may be.  However, when the needle is swinging around wildly only to point directly at it only AFTER I have discovered its location makes me question the value of the compass in the first place.

Granted, this game is in early access. It is at alpha 12.1 at the time I am writing this, so they have a lot of time to fine tune a few things.  If this impression sounds overly critical that is not my intention.  This is a fun little game with the potential to be great.  These are my thoughts on the matter.  I will continue to log more hours with the game as they seem to be updating it on a regular basis (and they are meaningful updates that affect how it plays).  If you are interested-- check it out on Steam.  It's already very addictive, so you can't go wrong-- just be prepared for a learning curve and a lot of whiskey.      

Friday, June 19, 2015

Duck Game Impressions

Duck Game had been a game that almost made me purchase an Ouya just so I could play it. When I first heard the news that Duck Game was coming to Steam I jumped out of my seat with excitement. Though the Duck Game you remember from Ouya is not the same Duck Game on PC. Duck Game got a whole lot better and has a lot more content.

Duck Game features a single player mode. It's fun I guess, but who is really buying Duck Game for the challenges?  You should do them since it helps you get the hang of all the mechanics in the game, but that's about it. Also, you can unlock certain hats only by playing these challenges in single player.

The real reason you purchased this game is to kill your friends online. You can play with teams of two or free for all for up to four players. This game is really more fun as a free for all game. You can set the map types and weapons. The real magic of the game is playing random maps with random weapons. That way there aren't any real advantage for any one player since you are always switching it up.

The objective of Duck Game is simple-- kill your friends one by one until your the last duck standing. If you are the last one standing then you receive one point. It only takes one bullet to kill you, so be careful with all your shots. Intermission tallies up the score after so many rounds which lets you know who is in the lead. The first person to reach ten or greater at intermission is the winner. If there is a tie then it's one tie breaker match.

Duck Game is not only fun, but just makes you laugh non-stop at the shear stupidity of it. When you press B on the gamepad you let out a "quack" since, of course, you're a duck. You can quack at any moment and time. But do you know whats better than quacking? Hats.  Hats are better than quacking.  What makes this even better is choosing your hat before you start the game. These hats can make you look like a giant log, hamburger, frog, monster, and even a double beer hat. Each has it's own unique quack animation that makes the most uptight person laugh out loud. You can turn off the quack button in custom games, but why would you do that?

Another point I need to mention is the level creator. Not enough maps for you? Stop complaining and create your own madness to play with your friends! It's easy to create levels with the tool and nothing is more fun than a level full of grenades and explosives!

Duck Game is the most ridiculous online shooter for 2015 (so far) and it's probably not getting any crazier than this. It brings the magic of the Ouya version to your PC with more weapons, but the same Duck Game you remember (Or don't?-- Seriously, who bought an Ouya?) You can purchase the game right now on Steam.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

High Strangeness Impressions

I have been a fan of action RPGs and Zelda games growing up.  Most games don't compare to the magic that I grew up with until now.  As the title implies, High Strangeness is probably the strangest game I have played in awhile. It meshes both 8-bit and 16-bit worlds into one game. The power to switch between both 8-bit and 16-bit is a game-play mechanic that doesn't get old!

All of this crazy power comes from the magical skulls that were brought to this world by The Keepers. The Skulls were meant to enslave mankind, but a prophecy told that one day someone would save mankind and use the skulls to banish The Keepers for good. This person happens to be a normal kid who loves metal music and attacks his enemies with CDs and a flash light. The story is deeper than that, but I am not here to spoil anything. This is just to give you an idea of what's going on. Also... did I mention there's a pompous talking cat!

Each skull you acquire to battle The Keepers contains a power. One lets you stun enemies and another lets your create blocks.  The most important one allows you to travel between worlds. What I mean by that is traversing from 16-bit to 8-bit and back. The majority of the game will be figuring out how to reach certain platforms by switching between worlds. In addition to this, certain enemies can only be killed in a particular realm (8-bit or 16-bit). By killing enemies you can upgrade your powers and acquire new ones. Each skill maxes out once you have upgraded it to level three.

The most impressive aspect of the game is the world it puts you in. Whether you are playing the game in 8-bit or 16-bit, it really feels like it is one cohesive universe in which you exist. Another great part of the game are the cut scenes explaining the back story. These portions have backgrounds hand-drawn like a teenager in high school.

My one gripe with the game has to do with the game-play.  At times I wish the game was more of a challenge in the action department. The enemies are varied, but it was lacking in the boss battle department. They have interesting concepts, but for most of the bosses all I had to do was drop dynamite and they would just run over it.  I could avoid getting hit at all times and was never really challenged. It wish I was forced to attack the bosses in some other way or with certain weapons. Thankfully the boss battles are not the majority of the game.

If you like solving puzzles by traveling through alternate worlds then you will probably dig this game. It's not the hardest game in the world, but the story is captivating and it has a few good twists and turns along the way. The game is available on Wii U and on Steam!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Westerado Impressions

Instead of telling you my ultimate feelings on Westerado, I thought I would tell you about the game in the form of the story. Westerado is a unique game that allows the player to make drastic decisions that change the story line. Though with any story there are always blurred lines of right and wrong. Here's a short story I would like to call "Tale of the paranoid cowboy"

Tale of the Paranoid Cowboy

Once upon a time there was a cowboy who tended to a ranch with his brother. Everything was going well until one night bandits invaded their ranch and robbed them of everything. They took all their buffalo and left the Cowboy's brother for dead.  The Cowboy couldn't stand to watch his brother die; he did the humane thing and took out his gun to end his life. 

Wiping the gun of his brothers blood, the Cowboy set out on his journey to avenge his death. Where could these bandits be? The Cowboy decided to move into his uncle's house where he was offered a warm bed and a place to heal his wounds. Was this a trap? Was his uncle really working for the bandits this whole time? Taking action, the Cowboy shoots his uncle.  The Cowboy took his kindness as a cover up for being the murderer.  The uncle, soon after being killed, comes back as "Uncle the Friendly Ghost" saying that he didn't deserve to be shot. 

With the his uncle's ghost floating around his new home, the Cowboy realized that maybe he wasn't the bandit who killed his brother and sets out to find the real killer. Was the bandit a woman? Did the bandit own a bank? The Cowboy didn't know, so he went from town to town murdering everyone in his sight because he could never be too cautious. 

The Cowboy also had this other crazy idea in his head; maybe he wasn't even a cowboy at all, but an actor on the set of a motion picture. Testing this theory he plans out his attack on a small town to the north of his uncle's house. He starts opening fire into the crowd killing a few women and even the bank tellers.  All of sudden a man appears and states, "I'm the director. How dare you ruin my film!" Waves upon waves of extras come after the Cowboy.  He fights back, but not for long as he is overrun and killed. 

This is where our story ends with one paranoid cowboy lying dead in a manufactured small town. He died doing what he loved.  He died being paranoid and killing. The reality was that the whole ordeal was staged by the director, but that didn't make the cowboy's plight any less real.  May his body rest in peace.


This is just one example of a story line that can carry out in the game. If you want to be the good guy and save all the towns then do it. If you want to be the jackass who robs people for money you can do that as well. Westerado is many things and there's really no right or wrong way to go. You can pick up Westerado on Steam right now!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Square Heroes Impressions

I am personally a big fan of online indie gaming. There needs to be more of it and Square Heroes offers that. It's not anything brand new it's actually based off a title called Square Off for Xbox Live Indie Market. It's a lot more fleshed out than that first title with new guns, weapons, and hats, and game modes. The game also features both co-op and competitive online multiplayer. Square Heroes is a great example of how video games don't have to reinvent new concepts but just improve on ones that already exist.

Square Heroes has a single player mode but this is just for the sole purpose of showing you the game. It shows you the controls for the game as well as teaching you all the multiplayer game types. It's something that you could literally skip over if you have friends to play with online. If you can even find some random players online I would highly suggest that over the single player mode.

Alright here's the real reason why anyone would purchase this game is the multiplayer. Joining matches is simple and easy. What's great is that people can vote on the game mode they want to play even if they aren't the person running the game! Co-op matches go up to four players while competitive matches go up to six players.

The game play is simple especially with a controller but you can also play with a keyboard and mouse. You use the right analog stick to aim and the left analog stick to move. Shooting is as easy as pressing the the right or left triggers. You can switch your weapons by opening a small circle menu with the right bumper and holding a direction for the weapon you want to choose.

Instead of describing each individual game mode I would just like to talk about my favorite one which is King Slayer. It's a co-op mode for up to four player where you face aganist one strong computer player known as the Alien King. He floats around and can kill you in one hit with melee and a couple of hits with his crossbow. You must work as a team to take him down because you only get one shot before it's round over. If a player dies you don't re spawn until either the Alien King kills you all or you kill him. It's a fun game mode that requires team work and coordination.

Also the game features a leveling system that helps you unlock new weapons, hats, abilities. The weapons don't just look different but have unique attributes. This is the same for the hats as well that can help you turn the tide in a battle. Though leveling can take a good bit of time but there are certain hours of the day where you gain extra experience.

One problem with the game has to do with death. Following players after death is a key feature in most online games because who wants to stare at your own corpse until the round is over? Sadly you can't cycle through the players that are still alive to watch the game which can be annoying especially when the player who dies is trying to stream the game. Hopefully this can be fixed.

It's a game that's easy to pick up and play. Play it at a party of play it online with your friends. Either way it's fun so what more do you want! You can pick up the game on Steam.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Plague Inc: Evolved Impressions

Ever have the desire to just... kill everyone in the world?  First of all, don't admit to that out loud.  Secondly, have I got the game for you!

Plague Inc started out on mobile platforms (iOS and Android) before making the leap to computer.  I am so thankful that it made that transition.  Well, it is making that transition.  The game is still in early access and still has a long way to go.  You know what is very impressive though?  Out of the 7,500 or so reviews on Steam 95% of them recommend this game.  That's very impressive for a game that isn't even done yet.

So, what is PIE?  Plague Inc: Evolved is PIE, get with the program!  I'm too lazy to type of the name every time.  So, PIE is the next step up from the mobile version.  At its core, the game is the same right now.  They might have fiddled with a few bits here and there or polished up the graphics, but the game plays much the same way.  It benefits immensely from the transition to the big screen though.  While not perfect, viewing the world map on a 46 inch HDTV is much more preferable than on my tiny Galaxy S3.

With the whole world in your view you feel like you are in a command center.  Your aim?  Destroy the world.  This is a strategy game through and through, so if you can't handle a little game of chance now and again you won't dig this game.  It is highly addictive though.  Games can play out in so many different ways and there are a multitude of perks that fundamentally change the way the game is played.  There are also many different organisms* you can use to destroy the world that all play very differently.

Don't think the world is just going to roll over and die either.  The world will fight back.  Doctors will work tirelessly to cure the disease.  Some governments with mandate that those showing signs of disease will be shot on sight.  You must be smart and evolve your disease in a way most beneficial to you.  If your disease is too deadly and kills to quickly it won't have a chance to spread.

This is a game that you'll find long forum discussions on strategies and tactics.  No matter how vicious your disease can get there will always be  many chances for your sure victory to fall apart.  It's infuriating and completely worth your time.  I put almost 12 hours into this death simulator over the weekend and loved every hair pulling moment.  I haven't touched the scenario mode yet either! 

I am most excited to know how they plan to implement multiplayer into PIE.  It's a burning curiosity.  Only time will tell, but until then I think you should brush up on your strategic annihilation of the human race.