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I Gave It My All - Cathedral review


kyathil

Publisher:  Decemberborn Interactive 615574958_header(1).jpg.3bc5774ba83f945e9e7fb49a93db3c2a.jpg

Release date: 31st of October 2019

Genre:  2D-platformer 

Price: 13.99€ Steam link

Pre-words

My intention was to review this several weeks ago, even pre-release... But, that sadly didn't happen due to a number of different reasons. Firstly, my October was really busy with all of the horror games I was trying out. Secondly, the weekend I had planned to dive deep into the game I got really sick. Lastly, after several attempts at playing the game I realized that this game was simply not for me... Which really doesn't mean that the game is bad or anything, in fact there are so many things I can really appreciate with it despite not enjoying it myself. I'll do my very best to describe why I think it's a well-made game and also why it didn't suit my palette. Kind of a different review this time, eh?!

Gameplay

Cathedral is another of those "character wakes up not remembering much and gotta explore the world to escape from current location" kind of games, which works well considering the premise of exploring up to 600 rooms that will feature different kinds of challenges. Some rooms feature challenges in the form of enemies, or a boss, some got some puzzles to solve, others have some kind of platforming related issues to tackle and yet some contain a bit of everything. The controls are relatively easy, but hard to master, and as such there is no big tutorial (it's not really needed). The game is heavily inspired by good old platformers like Castlevania and Metroid (not the modern versions) and does remind me a little of games like Shovel Knight and The Messenger (both are also retro style platformers). Even the music is retro style, using absolutely brilliant 8-bit music throughout the experience, which I personally really appreciated!

 

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They've been going in heavy with the contrast in the color scheme, which did add to the nostalgia but also was something my eyes didn't appreciate that much. The world is supposed to be huge, at least 600 rooms to discover after all, and features different kinds of NPCs... Sadly I never got to meet up with any and cannot comment on dialouge, eventual side quests and so on. You are also going to get better weapons, armor, abilities etc that will make your progress easier and also change up the gameplay a bit. Once again, I didn't get very far and thus cannot really comment on what the abilities are like, the fairness of weapons etc. The enemies are pretty varied and there is also plenty of them, adding something unique to each room you pass through. 

 

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Final Thoughts

At first glance I really thought Cathedral was going to be a game that I would really enjoy, seeing as I really loved Ori and the Blind Forest and Hollow Knight. Note that I never really played many platformers, such as Metroid, as a kid. Challenging bosses, puzzles, etc are all things that I really appreciate in games... Yet I just didn't enjoy this one. I remember a specific room where you have to hurry up and unlock parts of the room while a roof with spikes is crashing down and I died so many times and just didn't want to continue.Your jumps are really high in this game and most of the time I died because I jumped straight into the roof and couldn't choose to jump a little bit lower. I just didn't like that and there was a similar situation when I played Incubo which resulted in me never finishing the game. I'm all for hard boss fights, but when the fight is against the environment I just loose interest. I guess I'm more into boss battlers than hardcore platformers! Because Cathedral is definitely a hardcore platformer game.

Just because I struggled with this particular game doesn't mean it's a bad one, it simply didn't suit my taste. There are so many things that I can appreciate with it, such as the retro style music and graphics that they completely nailed. It feels like you're getting warped back in time to the 90s when you play it, and in a good way! The controls are simple and didn't experience any glithes or bugs, overall it was a smooth experience and it truly feels like a polished and well-made game! I can definitely recommend this game to people that enjoy games such as Shovel Knight, old Castlevania, Metroid and similar. It will be a pretty nice challenge for you! 

 

 

2019 - Week 48 IndieGame Releases


RaginRamen

Welcome, welcome one and all to Week 48 of 52 this year (25th November - 1st December).
Bringing your weekly dose of IndieGems pulled from the forge that have caught my eye.

 

FULL DISCLOSURE: I have not played any of these (unless mentioned), my opinion is structured through watching Let's Play videos, and analyzing reviews and stats.

Final week of November brings us another slow week. Not too many gems pulled out, but gems none the less. Some of my favourite are of the noodle persuasion (totally unbiased)

 

The Sphere of Abyss (Early Access)

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Developer/Publisher: Crazy Bear Games

Genre: Action, Adventure, RPG

Price: £11.39 PC (Steam)

Official Website

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"Faced with the challenges from the abyss, whether you choose to move carefully or dash forward, your strength and luck will be tested in The Sphere of Abyss!"

 

NUVAVULT

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Developer/Publisher: Mim Hufford

Genre: Puzzle

Price: £2.09 PC (Steam)
DEMO AVAILABLE

Official Website

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"a perspective altering puzzle game where 2D and 3D collide."

 

ERMO

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Developer/Publisher: Nonostante Games

Genre: Puzzle

Price: £1.99 PC (Steam), IOS, Android, Console (XBOXONE)

Official Website

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"A logic puzzle game about harmony and inner peace. A journey through mind challenges surrounded by an ethereal atmosphere."

 

Escape the Ayuwoki

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Developer/Publisher: Deadly Crow Games

Genre: Survival Horror

Price: £11.39 PC (Steam, Itchio)

 

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"A logic puzzle game about harmony and inner peace. A journey through mind challenges surrounded by an ethereal atmosphere."

 

Beast Agenda 2030

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Developer/Publisher: Ouch Giver Games

Genre: Action, Adventure, RPG

Price: £11.39 PC (Steam)

Official Website

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"Gadgets and Hacking focused Action RPG with optional permadeath that encourages you to use your brain."

 

ArtFormer

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Developer/Publisher: Buffa Software

Genre: Action, Adventure

Price: £15.00 PC (Steam)

Official Website

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"Be the hero of history! ArtFormer is indie action platformer PC game with RPG elements evolving in each chapter."

 

Story of a Gladiator

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Developer/Publisher: Brain Seal

Genre: Action, Beat'Em'Up

Price: £9.99 PC (Steam), Console (XBOXONE, SWITCH, PS4)

Official Website

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"Fight against waves of enemies in the arena to earn coin and fame until you are strong enough to enter the Colosseum and become champion."

 

 

 

Quantumleaper

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Developer/Publisher: Elias Sant'Ana

Genre: Adventure, Puzzle-Platformer

Price: £7.19 PC (Steam)

Official Website

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"You can use your other self to activate switches, mislead enemies and block projectiles. Sometimes, even tunnel through walls."

 

Neon Noodles - Cyberpunk Kitchen Automation

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Developer/Publisher: Vivid Helix

Genre: Automation, Simulation

Price: £11.39 PC (Steam)

Official Website

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"Set in a dark and mysterious cyberpunk world, you are in charge of the futuristic food factory known as Neon Noodles."

 

Ope

Ope.jpg.2b8798b62fa4c34ea5f58150bfbe0a94.jpg

Developer/Publisher: Campus ADN

Genre: Automation, Simulation

Price: FREE TO PLAY PC (Steam)

Official Website

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"His quest will lead him through enchanted forest and temples where he’ll need to deliver shamans from corruption before the sun sets forever."

 

Catch me again every Saturday for the weeks IndieGems that are fresh out the Forge. I brave the overwhelming out pour from Steam, so you don't have to.

Last Weeks Releases

If any devs want to get their freshly made gems- I mean games- fully reviewed, drop me a message on here or on my email [email protected]

I will check out your page and see what article or video I can make for you. Also can help with creating Presskits and Promotions for those that need it (whether being released soon or in the far future) 

Signed: RaginRamenTITLE.thumb.png.aeae098aacdaaf2622e827c7c13223af.png

Dwarves of Glistenveld - Grab an Axe and Let's Go


HappyFeet_1402

Key Information:

Developer/Publisher: Nysko Games Ltd

Genre: Strategy, RTS

Price: £10.99 (Steam)

Overview:

Dwarves of Glistenveld is a real time strategy game with elements of base building, exploration and even RPG elements, which sees you take control of a Dwarven Clan of your own to take on hordes of grubby Goblins.

Currently it’s in Early Access having released mid-October while the dev team work through a complete Six chapter single player campaign, but the initial release already includes 6 levels within Chapter One to play through, along with a sandbox skirmish mode, a couple of pre-created one off scenario maps, and a map editor for the more creative among us!

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Review:

The majority of my time so far has been spent playing on the single player campaign, which serves not only as a tutorial for the game mechanics but also provides more than a few giggles with the scripted dialogue between the Dwarves you control and come across.

You find yourself setting up fresh on each individual map with a set goal to achieve before you’ll be able to progress the story and migrate to the next section of the larger campaign map, initially you can expect to get through scenarios in a very short time indeed, essentially once you can prove your efficient enough at mining out rock walls, chopping through underground roots or teaming your Dwarves up to play whack-a-mole with the Goblins that also inhabit the underground caves.

That said, it really doesn’t take long for the campaign scenarios to ramp up potential challenge and work required to get through to the next scenario, and by the time I’d got to four/five scenarios into the game and past what I’d term the tutorial and into the real gameplay, it was taking a good hour or two to clear through a map, perfect for an evening of relaxation after a hard days work!

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Missions themselves take place on some really beautiful hexagrid maps, whether it’s the designed settings of the campaign or the procedurally generated maps within the skirmish mode, and make you truly feel like you are in a deep, dark cave system. Lighting is brighter where you send your Dwarves to explore and work, passageways and openings are blocked off by thin rock walls, and if you aren’t careful with how much you dig away you can risk a cave collapse causing all sorts of havoc for your clansmen. The design of the maps and terrain is well done, very quickly being able to see what resources are held within, or under, the walls (stone, iron, gold, gems) and also give a rough impression of whether it’s a plentiful or scarce amount of the resource as well, making it simple to plan at a glance where you want your Dwarves to begin working and how to gain the most material with the least risk of removing massive chunks of the cave.

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Setting up a base of operations is essential to progression within the game, as you’d expect from a title like this, and akin to the likes of Rimworld you can set blueprints and queue work orders for your clansmen to follow of their own volition, but also retain the ability to force them to prioritise on certain things where there is a sense of urgency to get something up and running.

On the face of things, the crafting and building within the game doesn’t seem overly complex, and my initial thoughts were that there isn’t that much to work with, however, as you start getting deeper into the game with bigger bases and more Dwarves to work with, I did begin to see some of the depth that exists, while it does currently feel that there could be more added in to the game this is one of the major points within the development plan for the game during Early Access so I wont grumble!

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Finally it’s time to talk about the Dwarves, each of which comes with a set of randomly assigned traits which provide a set of buffs and drawbacks to your clansmen, ‘Gastric’ will cause your Dwarf to fart loudly and possibly alert nearby enemies, while ‘Chunky’ makes them move slower (not sure how Dwarves can get any slower!) while also giving a buff to hit points, and these can help dictate which role they’ll best fill within your clan (gatherer, miner, fighter, engineer), which they aren’t locked in to but gain additional perks the longer the stick with it and begin leveling up.

Through my time playing I’d managed to level up a few clansmen as pretty decent specialists in fighting or gathering which I would keep set in those roles, but also created a good number of ‘all rounders’ which had perks across multiple job roles and could act as a jack-of-all-trades to switch around to where I needed bodies the most. Moving through the campaign you bring all of your Dwarves with you after exiting a map, and can bring them with you into the next stage of the campaign with all of their experience and gastric tendencies, giving me a real sense of attachment to them after they had kept leveling up!

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Final Thoughts:

Dwarves of Glistenveld offers a lot of playability considering it’s right at the beginning of it’s Early Access phase, the inclusion of the skirmish mode means that sandbox players could come back time and time again to face off on randomised maps, against multiple enemies, and due to the map generation always have a different game due to the exploration needed. The game looks beautiful, and I also hadn’t come across any bugs or crashes during my time playing, which is promising. The Devs have a solid plan for the Early Access phase (more buildings, technologies, enemy variance) and as with any game you’ve got to acknowledge that buying early on when the price is low means your backing the possibility of what the game will eventually become, and in my opinion the game is definitely on the right track to become an RTS with friendly town management but real strategic gameplay.

HappyFeet
#CraftFightSurvive

 

 

2019 - Week 46 Top IndieGame Releases


RaginRamen

Welcome, welcome one and all to Week 46 of 52 this year (11th-17th November).
Bringing you your weekly dose of IndieGems pulled from the forge that have caught my eye.

All three of these games do storytelling in distinctly different ways, proving that games is an exceptional medium for narratives. It can be dug up and interacted with, created hand in hand with the developer or told traditionally through character narration. No method is lesser than the other, but the variety is why I love games when it comes to the power of telling a story.

Below you will find my reviews of three games that caught my eye this week and hopefully (probably already has) caught yours.

Top 3 IndieGames

Wildermyth.jpg.a0c67b6fc08138731aae4fd4d6085d5f.jpg

Developer/Publisher: WorldWalker Games

Genre: StoryRich, RPG, Strategy

Price: £15.49 PC (Steam, Itchio)

Official Website

"It empowers you to craft iconic characters who grow through deep, rewarding battles and interactive storytelling."

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REVIEW
Anyone who is in love with storytelling like me will appreciate this game. From the very beginning, the characters you start with have randomly generated stats and traits. A very common mechanic these days to add flavour by creating a party as varied as the seven dwarfs. You'll have the grumpy one, the greedy, the cowardly and bashful one... except... this game also generates a full history for each of the characters. When first seeing this I knew I was going to enjoy the next few hours, my characters were already alive, I knew their dreams and likes and hates.

Currently in Early Access, so some campaigns aren't available yet, but the first campaign is a rich and full one that left me excited to play more. Eager to jump back in after this review, but I promise to be disciplined enough to not rush through my thoughts on this gem.

Going through the core mechanics, they are very much the same as many turn-based strategy games out there. You have your ability and movement points, your flanking, counters and area effect attacks. That hasn't changed here, so for any familiar with this genre, it should be a comfortable play style to jump straight into. What makes this stand out is how each characters personality and history effects their stats and even sometimes their abilities. For example, being a human (although I've not seen any other races... yet), gives different bonuses to stats and even a sense of wanderlust or background being a farmer, these are all factors that determine who the character is and what they can do. Alongside that, there are relationships with each of the characters, rivalries, friendships and romance can blossom between your characters leading to further influences. The depth of how your character can grow and become a living person is amazing and gives cause to an infinite amount of replayability and not to mention how attached you can get to them too. Yes... that's right, there is permadeath in Wildermyth. When their health drops to zero the first time you get to decide between letting them take a breather or die heroicly. If you let them take a breather they'll travel to the nearest town, patch up (get a cool hook hand sometimes, did I mention how your character develops in so many ways?) and they'll be ready for the next fight. However, if they are downed a second time, it's usually for good and you then get to choose if you want to memorialise their legacy forever on the Start Menu. 

Looking back on that paragraph I have a lot more to say, there are so many small details that I commend them for thinking about and it is those small details that bring life to the world and the characters in them. I won't take up too much of your time, so let me move on to another great addition to Wildermyth and that is the built-in editor. They have spent a great deal of time in tweaking the comic panels and how fluid the game plays so that YOU can create your own campaigns. Wildermyth, after all, is made by two great people (husband and wife team Nate & Ann) who have a tremendous love for pen and paper games where you create your campaigns and stories to share with friends. It was only natural to dedicate a big portion of this game into letting others have a play around too. The possibilities for the future will surely keep Wildermyth alive, especially with a growing community I envision it will receive.

 

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Developer/Publisher: Galvanic Games/Way Down Deep

Genre: Narrative, Adventure

Price: £9.99 PC (Steam), Consoles (SWITCH)

Official Website

"As you explore, the memories of the people who lived there come to life with the help of ARORA's Memory Reconstruction system."

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REVIEW
I will start by saying I loved this game and the storytelling methods, but it won't be for everyone. Now for the hard part... trying to write the review without any spoilers.

So, I think I can say this without spoiling as it is on the Steam Page, there has been a global catastrophe of which we could not imagine. The results are a post-apocalyptic world (a favourite setting of mine) in which the air is not breathable. But let out a sigh of relief, this isn't another run of the mill fallout photocopy, it's main focus is exploration and storytelling.

Enter another setting I love, archaeology. The story and game revolve around you finding the Sunken city and exploring the environment. There is no combat, no inventory or anything, just you and the ancient world around you. This is where the diverge of opinions would come in to play, some would argue this has no gameplay, it is just a 'walking simulator', a term that I feel is used poorly for so many games. In a grain of truth, they are right that there isn't much gameplay, I find myself moving room to room, scanning clues and letters until my AI has enough evidence to recreate probable memories... then moving to another room and repeating. What kept me going was watching these memories build on top of each other, watching a seemingly unimportant past come to life in a story that I was urged to finish. Along with the past, there is a wonderful relationship being built between the two main characters. They are from different cultures and ideologies, meaning their comments and interpretations of what you find are interesting and at times funny.

Again, without going into spoiler territory... it's worth it.

There's very little to say about voice-overs, as there is none, you'll be doing lots of reading as you excavate the past. The music itself is also taking a little bit of a backseat, beautifully floating in the background. The strength of this game is weirdly the lack of sound. There are subtleties in the ambient sounds and music has very few crescendos to distract. For the most part, you are bathed in the silence of a place not explored for hundreds of years. It's fitting.

In my final thoughts, I'd like to echo what I said at the beginning, this game isn't for everyone due to its lack of gameplay, but I still recommend it to anyone with a thirst for digging up history and observing life from the perspective or others.

 

Yaga.png.6eccee774a84ec1a2d2559d2ccc97f10.png

Developer/Publisher: Breadcrumbs Interactive / Versus Evil

Genre: Adventure, Action, RPG

Price: £15.99 PC (Epic), Console (SWITCH, XBOX1, PS4)

Official Website

 

"Smash, clobber and bash... in this darkly funny action role-playing game that changes every time you play."

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REVIEW
The animation and folkloric setting were major attractions to me when scouting indie games to play this week. It keeps to that feeling and atmosphere throughout the game with its use of rhyming in the storytelling. The tropes of a greedy ruler sending you on impossible missions and the iconic Baba Yaga herself in a house on chicken legs. It brings me good feelings and memories from tales that I have read in the past.

I'll say without any doubt that I have enjoyed this game and the journey it has led me on, BUT with all it's praise (that it deserves), there are some frustrations that I have been met with. Should I start with the good or the bad? Let's get the bad out of the way, for as frustrating as it was, it didn't stop me from continuing with the game.

So here we go, the bad luck system. On paper, it's curious and fun. Adding that extra spice of challenge to make things interesting. As time goes by, your 'Bad Luck' meter increases. Other factors that will come in to effect depend on the weapon you're using and actions you decide to take when interacting with people and altars. Yes, there are ways to decrease the bad luck meter, so an attempt at balancing has been satisfied, but in my opinion, it requires just a little bit more tweaking.

What's so bad about the meter getting more and more full? Well, constantly coins will be getting dropped, forcing me to backtrack a lot to retrieve them. At first, it was a cute and cool feature, "oh look, they really thought about this", it very soon became tedious. My greatest frustration, however, was when my weapon would just break in the middle of a fight. If I had no other weapon (like the first time this happened), then I would be left to fend with nothing but my fists. After the first encounter with this, I made sure to always carry at least 3 weapons with me in case it happens again.

Now I call this a minor negative since it probably doesn't affect everyone, those with better skill than me will be scoffing at the remark and I'll not argue. Some will be fine with it, some like me might not be.

Let's talk about the awesome stuff now. Foremost at the front is the art and sound design. I am absolutely loving both. As you can see on the image above, the art is magnificent and they have done wonderful research into the lore of Slavic Mythology. Whenever I encountered a new boss, I was always at awe of the detail in the design. Matching the art for greatness is the sound design. From very well done voice overs to outstanding music performed by Romanian Hip Hop band Subcarpați. Fusing modern urban samples with folklore instruments to create something quite astonishing. Even outside of the game I have listened to the soundtrack on occasions.

On the surface, Yaga may seem like a cookie-cutter game where you explore procedural levels, kills beasts and then move onto the next one, but there is much more to learn. Some features under the hood is the crafting system, where you pick the metal that your hammer is made from and then a selection of enhancements, and there are many to pick from. Your choices will determine the kind of person you are becoming, from greedy to smart to just plain dumb. All in all, there are five personalities and five different endings you can get. My favourite mechanic has to be when you choose what day to start your adventure and the different curses and gifts you can receive. They add so much flavour to the gameplay and changes how you fight your battles. Whatever day you pick, it can give you stronger attacks or health recovery when resting, among other effects. Curses and Gifts are creatively designed, taking the edge of some difficult situations. It's best to try and collect as many as you can as they stay permanently.

In closing, I do recommend the game. The combat is really fun, rolling and attacking and throwing your hammer like Thor, only to be returned to you. It is very satisfying. The gifts and curses add that flavour I need and makes for very interesting playthroughs. And with your hand chopped off, it's always cool to see little Ivan get creative and Forge something useful as a replacement.

I love the world and setting, music is amazing and the art just as beautiful. The only thing I would tweak is the Bad Luck mechanic, but as outlined before, that me personally.

You should definitely go out and give it a go.

 

With my "short" reviews not looking so short, from here on they will be posted for each individual game instead of as a Top 3.

So keep an eye open throughout the week as I bring you my top picks fresh out the Forge. I brave the overwhelming out pour from Steam, so you don't have to.

LAST WEEKS TOP 3 INDIEGAMES

If any devs want to get their freshly made gems- I mean games- fully reviewed, drop me a message on here or on my email [email protected]

I will check out your page and see what article or video I can make for you. Also can help with creating Presskits and Promotions for those that need it (whether being released soon or in the far future) 

Signed: RaginRamenTITLE.thumb.png.aeae098aacdaaf2622e827c7c13223af.png

2019 - Week 47 IndieGame Releases


RaginRamen

Welcome, welcome one and all to Week 47 of 52 this year (18th-24th November).
Bringing your weekly dose of IndieGems pulled from the forge that have caught my eye.

 

FULL DISCLOSURE: I have not played any of these (unless mentioned), my opinion is structured through watching Let's Play videos, and analyzing reviews and stats.

This week has been slower then previous ones, but that hasn't stopped some amazing gems coming to my attention. Check them all out below!

Coming soon are reviews for my top picks.

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Kyle is Famous

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Developer/Publisher: John Szymanski

Genre: Narrative, Text Adventure

Price: FREE TO PLAY PC (Steam, Itchio)
 

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"Take Kyle's hand through 21 unique endings, each determined by what Kyle has done and who he has interacted with. He needs you. Be kind."

 

ANNIE: Last Hope (Early Access)

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Developer/Publisher: Pixel Rice

Genre: Action, Adventure, RPG

Price: £7.19 PC (Steam)

 

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"Love, betrayal, humanity and rule, conspiracy and choice in apocalypse, all waiting for you to reveal."

 

Lost Ember

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Developer/Publisher: MoonEye Studios

Genre: Action, Adventure, Exploration

Price: £25.99 PC (Steam, GoG, Humble), Console (PS4, XBOXONE) TBA (SWITCH)

Official Website

REVIEW PENDING

1589280382_LostEmberSS.thumb.jpg.7a960c92b6f8736ce29c8bb8eafbdd97.jpg

"Start as a small, defenseless blob. Grow legs, arms, a tail, a new head, wings and some big, nasty teeth."

 

Miscreation

Miscreation.jpg.d992109794fc80c3ce44364d3cd4240d.jpg

Developer/Publisher: Chronicle Ltd

Genre: Platform, Adventure

Price: £7.19 PC (Steam, GameJolt)
DEMO AVAILABLE

396473053_MiscreationSS.thumb.jpg.b6b8d9fe3c24e6851246291121742009.jpg

"Start as a small, defenseless blob. Grow legs, arms, a tail, a new head, wings and some big, nasty teeth."

 

MOLEK-SYNTEZ

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Developer/Publisher: Zachtronics

Genre: Simulation

Price: £7.19 PC (Steam)
DEMO AVAILABLE

Official Website

1161799319_MOLEK-SYNTEZSS.thumb.jpg.281e6fdd214a38e6ec6db60c6483ec8f.jpg

"Create small molecules with various pharmacological effects from the comfort of your small Romanian apartment."

 

Black Future '88

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Developer/Publisher: Super Scary Snakes / Good Shepherd Entertainment

Genre: Action, Rogue-Like, Shooter

Price: £15.49 PC (Steam, GoG, Humble), Console (SWITCH)

Official Website

REVIEW PENDING

506005062_BlackFuture88SS.thumb.jpg.48a519f8ef1ce80931fd4a1ac283c214.jpg

"Shoot, slash, dash and upgrade yourself to survive the endless waves of Homicidal AI, Traps & Colossal Wardens... Before your heart explodes"

 

This Land Is My Land (Early Access)

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Developer/Publisher: Game-Labs

Genre: Action, RPG

Price: £34.99 PC (Steam)

Official Website

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"Experience the frontier as a chief of a Native American tribe and resist the onset of the settlers."

 

Still There

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Developer/Publisher: GhostShark Games / Iceberg Interactive

Genre: StoryRich, Puzzle, Adventure

Price: £11.39 PC (Steam, GoG, Humble), Console (SWITCH)

Official Website

REVIEW PENDING

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"Evade the past, welcome oblivion, make the perfect Italian coffee... A psychological adventure game about grief, technical puzzles, wacky AIs and dark humour."

 

Size Matters (Early Access)

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Developer/Publisher: Mazen Games / Grab The Games

Genre: Action, Puzzle

Price: £7.19 PC (Steam)

Official Website

444083803_SizeMattersSS.thumb.jpg.002dc8a478f75c8a1f38b79d4fb2655f.jpg

"In Size Matters you take on the role of a scientist who has unintentionally ingested a chemical which causes him to shrink every second!"

 

Bug Fables: The Everlasting Sapling

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Developer/Publisher: Moonsprout Games / Dangen Entertainment

Genre: Action, Adventure, RPG

Price: £15.49 PC (Steam, Humble, Itchio)

Official Website

738418461_BugFablesTheEverlastingSaplingSS.thumb.jpg.7065b4e170b466f79b6d4f20d6c132cd.jpg

"Embark on an epic quest in Bugaria in search of The Everlasting Sapling, a treasure that can grant immortality!"

 

Guntastic (Early Access)

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Developer/Publisher: Ludicrous Games

Genre: Action, Multiplayer, Brawler

Price: £9.99 PC (Steam), Console TBA (XBOXONE, SWITCH, PS4)

Official Website

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"Battle in lightning-fast, one-shot one-kill rounds that last only 25 seconds – after which anyone who's still alive is forcibly eliminated."

 

Sigma Theory: Global Cold War

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Developer/Publisher: Mi-Clos Studio Fibre Tigre / Goblinz Studio

Genre: TurnBased Strategy, Simulation, RPG

Price: £15.49 PC (Steam, Humble, GoG)

Official Website

511024453_SigmaTheorySS.thumb.jpg.dc7c8635ced98472966a234956a8c8a7.jpg

"In a futuristic global cold war... Recruit a squad of special agents and run your Intel agency to secure the control of the singularity."

 

Catch me again every Saturday for the weeks IndieGems that are fresh out the Forge. I brave the overwhelming out pour from Steam, so you don't have to.

Last Weeks Releases

If any devs want to get their freshly made gems- I mean games- fully reviewed, drop me a message on here or on my email [email protected]

I will check out your page and see what article or video I can make for you. Also can help with creating Presskits and Promotions for those that need it (whether being released soon or in the far future) 

Signed: RaginRamenTITLE.thumb.png.aeae098aacdaaf2622e827c7c13223af.png

Encased - One to Watch!


HappyFeet_1402

Key Information:

Developer/Publisher: Dark Crystal Games / Black Tower Entertainment
Genre: Turn Based, Open World, RPG
Price: £23.79 Steam / Humble

Overview:

Encased is an Early Access offering from Dark Crystal Games, a sci-fi post-apocalyptic RPG that will bring back memories of Fallout while featuring brilliantly developed characters that give it a real lease of life and allows you to immerse yourself in the world that has been created. Originally a Kickstarter project, it was more than successfully backed, and is promising over 30 hours of story, a freeform open world with over 100 handcrafted locations, and a roster of almost 300 NPC's with their own part to play under The Dome.

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Review:

There is truly only one place to start with an RPG like Encased, and that's the character creation system where it becomes really clear very early on the scale of depth that Dark Crystal Games are looking to bring to the table, I actually had three goes at creating my character before settling on the first one to take through the Prologue. The Dome is home to various castes of people all filling different roles within Magellan Base, like the various cogs in a wheel, where all are needed to keep things running smoothly, and choosing from these different castes will have a very real effect on your time within the game; Orange Wing is full of criminals doing menial tasks, White Wing is the scientists, Blue Wing is full of the construction and design minded people, Silver Wing is essentially full of middle management and finally Black Wing is the military. 

Beyond the initial choice of which Wing to join, you are then given the ability to spend points tweaking your beginner stats (think the normal Charisma, Guts, Brains etc), and finally the more specific Skills that will need to see you through life in an unforgiving world. The Skills relate to three overriding aspects (Combat, Social & Smarts) before being broken down even more specifically to categories such as Heavy Weapons, Medicine or Leadership, and within each of these sub categories are where you unlock your actual active and passive abilities for use within the world itself; I'm talking Lock Picking, Crafting, special combat attacks, and I'm sure by now you can see what I was referring to when I mentioned that game has real layer of depth in the workings here!

I feel it's worth pointing out that as of the current build, while you are able to see a whole range of these active and passive abilities not all of them are actually implemented just yet, so while I was running around as part of the Black Wing with a heavy weapon, the skill's relating to those weapons weren't available for me to use, it's not at all game breaking though.

unknown.png

The whole game takes place in a vast world under The Dome, and it's clear that the developers have spent a lot of time crafting a world that is truly immersible, especially within the multi-story Magellan Base that acts as the main tutorial for the game. Within this beautiful environment there are countless NPC's already within the game that you're able to interact with, each helping to build the world around you or provide interesting side quests to solve in between the main quest line teaching you the basics of the game. I completed the tutorial twice during my time playing, both times with different characters from different wings (once military, once management), and while the game is still in Early Access I can't understate how fully fleshed out this part of the game is, as I came across the same side quests/events with both characters and managed to have completely different stories and outcomes both times, now this could have been as a result of the dialogue options I chose, it may have been as a result of the items I'd looted from the map (and there is an awful lot to loot!) but either way it's a very promising sign that the decisions you make as a player do actually have a real impact on how things will play out!

Another really key point with the map's and environment themselves, apart from how beautiful they are, is that they offer an open playground and more than one way to get to your objectives. There are numerous locked doors to overcome, ventilation shafts that you can use to move around, and especially on the map of the first mission outside of the Magellan home base there are several different ways to get around that let you don your role playing cap and get into character - do you pull Schwarzenegger and go guns blazing, or try and use some brains to avoid all out confrontation. I found myself completely sidetracked by the environment and simply letting curiosity get the better of me on more than one occasion, especially when there seemed to be some goodies locked behind a door with no obvious way in.

My final thoughts on the tutorial area specifically though, are that it is a very well designed exercise in educating a player, as while you are able to fully explore the whole base and get a good few hours of game play out of it, if you are looking to simply get out into the bigger world once you've been through it that first time you can get through the essentials in a very short space of time without it seeming a frustrating experience.

unknown.png

Combat within the game is challenging, it's hard to reinvent systems and come up with something completely new, and so any Turn Based player will quickly get to grips with the basics of the system; you wait your turn, have an amount of 'action points' to spend on movement, fighting or item usage etc, and when your points are spent you grit your teeth and wait for the damage to starting coming in. However, the combat in this game is not a walk in the park, where even a few instances of fighting one-on-one without a chance to really recover health in between will leave you crossing your fingers hoping that you just about squeeze through without dying, and when you end up in combat with multiple enemies you really need to think about what you're doing. There were a few encounters within the game where I was forced to reload the most recent save file and try a brand new strategy several times before getting past the danger, and while this could become frustrating for some people I found it really refreshing that almost all combat had a life and death feeling about them!

The character you have been building along the way will have a real impact on combat, both in the way you fight but also how well you manage to do once you've decided whether to pick up a gun, or try and use some blunt weapons (or even fists) to do the talking. After a bit of playing around it appears that the skill points and abilities you choose can affect everything from the odds of you landing a hit on an enemy all the way through to the damage done and secondary effects such as reducing ability points or movement; I won't proclaim to know what's best for everyone's individual play styles, but it seems clear that the groundwork is being laid so that once the skill trees are all implemented in game you'll be able to really specialise your character as you begin levelling them up.

There are also definitely a few tips that I would pass on to anyone; see if the terrain can be used to your advantage, use bullets sparingly because they aren't easy to come across, un-jamming a weapon can be a death wish and standing completely still once a bad guy is right up in your face simply means you're going to get hit hard - repeatedly!

unknown.png

Final Thoughts:

Encased is one of those games where the Early Access price can make you balk, it's a solid £20+ for around a dozen hours of fleshed out gameplay as it stands right now, however, I've seen this situation before with games such as Ark: Survival Evolved, and if the team keep improving on what's on offer right now, the early access price will seem like a steal when all is said and done, because they are truly on the right track to deliver a game that could justify a higher price when it hits full release! There are definitely a few gripes on my part, like the lack of crafting without a workbench because these were few and far between on my playthroughs, or that some tooltips/descriptions of items don't necessarily give enough information on how items affect your character, and they did cause moments of frustration but this is an early access title and you can't expect complete polish in that situation. Overall, I loved how alive the world felt while I was exploring Magellan Base, with so many NPC's to interact with and 'side quests' to complete on their behalf, and once I'd reached the end of the story that's available was genuinely disappointed there was no more to see!

I want to thank Black Tower Entertainment for providing a key for me to take Encased for a whirl, and cannot wait for more updates to land!

HappyFeet
#CraftFightSurvive

2019 - Week 46 IndieGame Releases


RaginRamen

Welcome, welcome one and all to Week 46 of 52 this year (11th-17th November).
Bringing your weekly dose of IndieGems pulled from the forge that have caught my eye.

 

FULL DISCLOSURE: I have not played any of these (unless mentioned), my opinion is structured through watching Let's Play videos, and analyzing reviews and stats.

This week has been so hard to pick my favourite IndieGames, some real gems found from epic adventures to simple meditative puzzles. There is something for everyone.

Coming soon are reviews for my below picks.

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Sparklite

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Developer/Publisher: Red Blue Games / Merge Games Maple Whispering

Genre: Action, Adventure, RPG

Price: £19.99 PC (Steam), Console (SWITCH, XBOX1, PS4)
DEMO AVAILABLE

Official Website

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"An action-adventure set in a whimsical and ever-changing land. Battle foes in top-down action using an arsenal of gadgets, guns, and gear."

 

MechCube: Escape (Early Access)

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Developer/Publisher: OGUREC APPS

Genre: Point'n'Click Adventure, Puzzle

Price: FREE TO PLAY PC (Steam, Itchio)

 

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"This is a non-linear point-and-click adventure with a lot of endings, secrets, easter eggs and references to modern pop culture."

 

Infected Shelter

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Developer/Publisher: Dark Blue Games

Genre: Action, Adventure, Beat'em Up

Price: £7.99 PC (Steam), TBA (SWITCH, PS4, XBOX1)

Official Website

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"Through randomly generated post-apocalyptic areas controlled by different enemy factions with brutal leaders and shelters occupied by infected creatures."

 

Tales of Lazo

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Developer/Publisher: DYSTANT Games

Genre: Adventure, RPG, Simulation

Price: £3.99 PC (Steam)
DEMO AVAILABLE

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"The game logic reads through your story and looks for certain keywords that make Lazo do different things."

 

Discolored

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Developer/Publisher: Jason Godbey

Genre: Adventure, Atmospheric, Puzzle

Price: £5.19 PC (Steam), Apple Arcade

Official Website

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"A lonely roadside diner in the middle of the desert. The locals say it’s lost all its color. You are sent to investigate."

 

The Legend of Bum-Bo

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Developer/Publisher: Edmund McMillen

Genre: Adventure, Strategy, Puzzle

Price: £11.39 PC (Steam)

Official Website

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"Bum-bo finds himself facing droves of deranged enemies, lost children, his fears, and eventually the beast that stole his beloved coin."

 

Yaga

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Developer/Publisher: Breadcrumbs Interactive / Versus Evil

Genre: Adventure, Action, RPG

Price: £15.99 PC (Epic), Console (SWITCH, XBOX1, PS4)

Official Website

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"Smash, clobber and bash... in this darkly funny action role-playing game that changes every time you play."

 

RUNE II

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Developer/Publisher: Human Head Studios

Genre: Adventure, Action, RPG

Price: £23.99 PC (Epic)

Official Website

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"Set in a dangerous Norse universe during the end of days... where gods, beasts, and the last remaining humans struggle to survive."

 

Superliminal

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Developer/Publisher: Pillow Castle Games

Genre: First Person, Puzzle

Price: £13.99 PC (Epic)

Official Website

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"Explore a surreal dream world and solve impossible puzzles using the ambiguity of depth and perspective."

 

Village Monsters (Early Access)

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Developer/Publisher: Josh Bossie

Genre: RPG, Life-Sim

Price: £11.39 PC (Steam, Itchio)

Official Website

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"Set in a forgotten video game world. Make monstrous friends, pursue interesting hobbies, and explore strange lands."

 

Draw Chilly

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Developer/Publisher: Josh Bossie

Genre: Action, Arcade

Price: £8.99 PC (Steam) Console (SWITCH)

Official Website

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"Take on the role of Vladimir and raise a city from the depths of Purgatory at the request of your employers, the Horsemen of the Apocalypse."

 

Tracks - The Family Friendly Open World Train Set Game

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Developer/Publisher: Whoop Group / Excaliber Games

Genre: Builder, Simulation

Price: £16.74 PC (Steam)

Official Website

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"Create colourful railway systems, decorate beautiful towns, transport commuting passengers, and even ride your train in first-person."

 

Woven

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Developer/Publisher: Alter Ego Games / StickyLock Studios

Genre: Adventure, Platformer

Price: £16.99 PC (Steam), Console (SWITCH, XBOX1, PS4)

Official Website

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"Search for hidden secrets and customize your character with different animal shapes to solve puzzles."

 

The Deed II

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Developer/Publisher: Pilgrim Adventures / GrabTheGames

Genre: Adventure, RPG, Narrative

Price: £2.89 PC (Steam)

Official Website

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"Can you commit the perfect murder?"

 

Between Two Castles

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Developer/Publisher: Daisu Games

Genre: Strategy, BoardGame

Price: £10.29 PC (Steam)

Official Website

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"In this game, you cooperate to compete - or is it the other way around?"

 

Between Two Castles

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Developer/Publisher: Sparse Game Dev

Genre: Casual, Puzzle, Meditative

Price: £5.49 PC (Steam), TBA (IOS, Android)

Official Website

627850289_SpingFallsSS.thumb.jpg.1c0d61437a1e798a0e0b80284488c0df.jpg

"A puzzle game about water, erosion, and watching things grow. Manipulate the landscape and bring wildflowers to life on a peaceful mountainside."

 

Catch me again every Saturday for the weeks IndieGems that are fresh out the Forge. I brave the overwhelming out pour from Steam, so you don't have to.

Last Weeks Releases

If any devs want to get their freshly made gems- I mean games- fully reviewed, drop me a message on here or on my email [email protected]

I will check out your page and see what article or video I can make for you. Also can help with creating Presskits and Promotions for those that need it (whether being released soon or in the far future) 

Signed: RaginRamenTITLE.thumb.png.aeae098aacdaaf2622e827c7c13223af.png

2019 - Week 45 IndieGame Releases


RaginRamen

Welcome, welcome one and all to Week 45 of 52 this year (4th-10th November).
Bringing you your weekly dose of IndieGems pulled from the forge that have caught my eye.

 

FULL DISCLOSURE: I have not played any of these (unless mentioned), my opinion is structured through watching Let's Play videos, and analyzing reviews and stats.
 

Action, platformer, management and strategy are some of the wide ranges of this weeks IndieGame releases. However, many this week are puzzling to say the least. So put on your thinking caps, some of these may look (deceivingly) easy, but you'll have many head-scratching moments.

Return of the Zombie King

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Developer/Publisher: Adventure Mountain

Genre: Platformer, Runner

Price: £3.99 PC (Steam), IOS

Official Website

1403389544_ReturnoftheZombieKingSS.thumb.jpg.9ec77a4acbb61a73333066a1f9e16886.jpg

"Auto-runner where you use a reanimated royal corpse to collect gold to buy back your old body parts."

 

IMBROGLIO

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Developer/Publisher: Rostislav Pogosian

Genre: Sokoban Puzzler

Price: £4.79 PC (Steam)

Official Website

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"Solve sokoban-based puzzles scattered across multiple worlds"

 

Mars: Power Industries

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Developer/Publisher: 7A Games

Genre: Casual, Strategy, Puzzle

Price: £2.09 PC (Steam), IOS, Android
DEMO AVAILABLE

Official Website

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"Power up the colony, uncover the Martian mystery and figure out what happened to the first colony! "

 

Fated Kingdom

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Developer/Publisher: Game Liberty

Genre: RPG, Strategy, Board Game

Price: £7.19 PC (Steam)
DEMO AVAILABLE

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"And if for success you need to substitute, betray, or even deliver a sneaky stab in the back, then why not do it?"

 

Vecter (Early Access)

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Developer/Publisher: Taranasus

Genre: Casual, Retro, Racer

Price: FREE TO PLAY PC (Steam, Itchio, GameJolt)

Official Website

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"You get in your ship, you push the throttle on max, rip it out of the console and then try to survive for as long as possible."

 

The Story of Henry Bishop

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Developer/Publisher: Blazes Games

Genre: First Person, Horror

Price: £5.19 PC (Steam)
 

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"Explore the old mansion and learn the horrible secret of the family, which once disappeared without a trace in this house."

 

Mustache or Revenge

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Developer/Publisher: Growfall Games

Genre: Action, Platformer, Puzzle

Price: £3.99 PC (Steam)

Official Website

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"Challenging platformer taking you on an adventure through dangerous dungeons filled with ingenious traps."

 

Ritual: Crown of Horns

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Developer/Publisher: Draw Distance/Feardemic

Genre: Action, TopDown Shooter

Price: £17.99 PC (Steam, Humble), SWITCH

Official Website

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"A game about wrecking havoc on history, seeing through false narratives and embracing your inner monster."

 

The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters

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Developer/Publisher: Devespresso Games/Headup

Genre: Survival Horror

Price: £9.99 PC (Steam, Humble), TBA (SWITCH)

Official Website

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"You must precariously balance the urgency of exploration with your absolute need to survive!"

 

Ghost Grab 3000

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Developer/Publisher: Matt Glanville

Genre: Action, Arcade

Price: £3.99 PC (Steam, Itchio)

Official Website

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"Chain ghosts together then pop them all at once for points in an endless 'bullet hell' arcade apocalypse."

 

Basement

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Developer/Publisher: HalfBus

Genre: Management, Strategy, Simulation

Price: £15.49 PC (Steam)

Official Website

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"You'll start in an old uncle's basement and quickly realize how complex and unpredictable the world of drug dealing business is."

 

Down Ward

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Developer/Publisher: Fisholith

Genre: Arcade, Puzzle, Action

Price: FREE TO PLAY PC (Steam)

 

1123945967_DownWardSS.thumb.jpg.03b2d61d65dd26d84848697c9b310e1c.jpg

"Venture into the haunted wilds with Gable, a little owl, as she sets out to rekindle the dormant relics of a land long abandoned to ruin."

 

Catch me again every Saturday for the weeks IndieGems that are fresh out the Forge. I brave the overwhelming out pour from Steam, so you don't have to.

Last Weeks Releases

If any devs want to get their freshly made gems- I mean games- fully reviewed, drop me a message on here or on my email [email protected]

I will check out your page and see what article or video I can make for you. Also can help with creating Presskits and Promotions for those that need it (whether being released soon or in the far future) 

Signed: RaginRamenTITLE.thumb.png.aeae098aacdaaf2622e827c7c13223af.png

Song of Horror - Episode 1


kyathil

"I am not going to play more horror games until after New Year's Eve" - Kyathil pre discovery of Song of Horror

 

Publisher:  Raiser Games (devs Protocol Games)  header.jpg.85a8223f0c27adcf88ba898669361798.jpg

Release date: 31st of October 2019

Genre:  Third-person survival horror adventure

Price: 7.99€/episode (season pass 21.99€) Steam

 

Pre-words

First of all, I really didn't have the intention of reviewing yet another horror game... But, I really couldn't resist this one. I'm kind of amazed since this game somehow dodged my radar until shortly before the release.

Song of Horror has been under development since 2014, by the Spanish based studio Protocol Games,  with a whole lot of ups and downs in the process. They attempted to fund the game using Kickstarter twice, but both attempts were unfortunately unsuccessful which obviously had a big impact for the future of the game (in fact many considered it cancelled since nothing seemed to be happening for quite some time). There was also a change of publisher along the road. I personally really admire the decision to keep on going with the development, finding new ways to make their dream game come true, despite these bumps in the road. Yay for not giving up! On Halloween they released the first 2 episodes of the game, with more to come in the future!

Story

The famed writer Sebastian P. Husher has gone missing, along with his entire family. Worried, his editor sent an assistant to his house in order to look for him – but he never came back… These disappearances spark a set of events that will soon reveal something dreadful: a nameless, eldritch entity known only as the Presence seems to be responsible – and it’s still somewhere, out there, lurking in the shadows, awaiting you… You may die, but the horror continues – others will pick the investigation up from where you left it until you all find out the origin of The Presence and put an end to this nightmare.

Visuals&Sound

Most of the eerie atmosphere of the game comes from the sound and visuals. Visually the game looks very realistic to the environment, with great lightning and shadows, which helps the player immerse themselves into the game. However, the characters themselves look a little bit off in comparison and not nearly as realistic with pretty wonky facial animations in cut scenes. This might be intentional, can't really tell, and it doesn't have a huge impact on the game and didn't remove the spookiness , but it was something that stood out as I was playing. The sound effects are absolutely fantastic, with realistic noises from doors, clocks and what not and the sound track features some really creepy, but cute (?), melodies.

 

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Gameplay

A famous author has gone missing, his assistant who was supposed to find him never returns and the only logical conclusion is for you to follow in their footsteps. Survival instincts are never great in horror games! The game is very story-driven, with the character(s) investigating what's going on at the house of previously mentioned writer. You're off to discover what kind of horror lurks around, but also a bit about the people affected by it. Before the episode starts you get to choose between a couple of different characters, with different associations to the house and the missing people, that will serve as your investigator. The characters have different backgrounds, personalities and personal possessions that will have a certain impact on your game experience. If any of the characters die, you will get to choose a new one that will pick up the torch from the deceased one. I did read that deceased characters might return at a later point, probably in a future episode, but how or why that would happen I cannot tell! 

Paying homage to the 90s, A Song of Horror uses a third-person perspective and a semi frozen camera angle which definitely gave some cosy, nostalgic, flash backs to old classics like the original Resident Evil and Silent Hill. The third-person perspective did make the game a bit less scary for me personally, but not in a bad way. It actually felt really nice not having jump scares served in your face every now and then, like so many modern horror games do!  Not that the game won't provide you with some scares at all, mind you... Some were so clever and unexpected that I almost jumped. 

H. P. Lovecraft 's work has also been a big inspiration for the story and mechanics of the the game. There is, of course, the Presence... A mysterious entity that seems to be chasing the characters and for some reason resides in the house you're investigating. Several people are missing, most likely connected to this entity. There are objects that seem to resonate with the otherworldly and paranormal events that will send chills down the spines of yourself and the character you play as. But, in order to really convey this fear to the players themselves they cleverly added things such as a heart beat, vibrating with your controller, whenever your character is unnerved. I'm convinced that sometimes this was added just to spook the player, while everything being perfectly safe in the game itself! However, tread carefully as you investigate this mystery. You never know what lurks behind a door or corner and carelessness will punish you....

 

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There are two things that the devs high lighted a lot in this game, the behaviour of the Presence and that the actions of your characters will affect future events. Apparently the AI for the Presence will note how players tackle obstacles in the game and adapt accordingly, making the game experience a bit different depending on your play style. This was not something I reflected upon a lot as I was playing, but when I watched other people play the game I did notice a some differences! It actually made me wanna give the game another whirl with a character I haven't played as, yet, and try to change my own play style a bit in order to see how different the game experience will be. Needless to say, I really love this aspect! With regards to actions potentially affecting future events I cannot judge, since I only played one episode so far, but looking forward to see if my actions so far will affect future episodes!

Bugs 🐞

I didn't encounter a lot of bugs as I was playing, but there were a few and I do think they are worth mentioning. A few times it seemed like the marker for interactable objects glitched out and either didn't disappear after doing one-time interactions or you could see a marker, but not interact with it. Additionally I got stuck in stair cases a couple times, it was almost as if the characters simply tried to nope out from the game. Definitely not judging them for wanting do that, would do the same! It even caused me some stress during a tense situation, where I wanted to quickly get away but was quickly very stuck instead. 

Final Thoughts

Most of the controls and mechanics worked smoothly, but a few were a little clunky such as a certain heart beat mechanism... This and the bugs could definitely be improved. All in all though, this is a really well made horror game. I absolutely loved the focus on solving a mystery, the story, the 90s vibes, the characters and their quirks, and most of the puzzles. It's spooky and creepy, sometimes also pretty darn scary, without being downright terrifying as some other horror games are. It offers plenty of replayability, both with the adaptive AI and the different play styles of the characters. It didn't feel like a haunted house experience, where you simply wait for the next scare, instead every puzzle piece you put together invoke  a curiosity for the next one and a determination to solve the case! Looking forward to playing the next episode and want to thank Protocol Games for providing Indie Forged with a key!

 

 

 

Hello I'm a Centaur man - Legend of the Keepers: Prologue Review


bravster

Key info :

Title : Legend of the Keepers: Prologue

Studio : Goblinz Studio

Price : Free
Genre : Management Sim / Strategy

Release date : 10/11/2019

Steam Link : Legend of the Keepers

As a kid playing make believe many would have wanted to be the hero. 

To be a dashing knight, off on a quest to save the damsel in distress or make a daring raid on an arch villains hideout. To restore prosperity and wealth to the neighbouring town and be that shining beacon of hope that their imaginary world needed so much.
But there was always that one kid who enjoyed playing the villain, sometimes a little too much...

Legend of the Keepers is that child some years later, albeit with more legs than I recall and they've been hired to keep adventurers and heroes out of a local dungeon.
Someones got to do it right?
Think Dungeon Keeper fused with Darkest Dungeon and you've got a pretty good overview on this one.

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Gameplay splits into two areas.


One side you'll manage the dungeon - events will be randomly generated and your response is usually to spend a resource of some kind; money, blood or blue blood? As well as the option to just say no on many scenarios.


The second portion is its combat portion - you'll face various heroes each with different abilities and your goal is to decimate or scare them off.
Enemies have two life bars - health and morale, you can affect these in various ways; from spike traps, burning, spells, poison darts or just a good old fashioned axe to the face.
Each action from either party also affects a different position in the field, so party position is very important in the setup as is the type of monster you field, you don't really want your squishy succubus or skeleton in the front lines where they'll get one shot by a pesky rogue,
by the same token you don't want your ice giant sat in the back getting bombarded by fireballs which he is extremely weak to.

Monsters are levelled up in the management portion of the game, and as death is not really an issue to your minions you can develop a powerful anti hero team. 

Should your minions fall within the encounter and your traps fail to stop the oncoming heroes you will take to the fray as your avatar.
In the prologue this is a centaur and you are ripped! You feel like a total bad ass stomping those worthless weak humans, although if you fail its game over... no second chances.


The game is quick to play and simple to pick up.
I smashed through a campaign in just shy of 2 hours and there is an element of replayability to the game as no encounter is exactly the same, there's even a neat talent point system which levels up your avatar before each game.
Although this is in no way reflective of the full game as this is a demo after all - a good glance but a demo all the same.
As a note it was a nice touch to see some Halloween skins over the spooky period; pumpkins, witches that sort of thing.

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Overall I like it, but it needs something to keep the player coming back. 

It's not as punishing as similar titles and lacks that challenge and progression which may well be implemented in the full game, I would be hopeful for such as I love a good challenge in this genre!
Other avatars are coming but I'd like to see them bring different things to the management side of the game as currently its very simple, there needs to be more consequence and things to actually manage rather than click through context menus that can have little baring if you're smart and learn how to skip each one.

If you like Darkest Dungeons and want something from the other side give it a look.
It's free and quite entertaining!
Now if you'll excuse me I'm off to sharpen my buzz saws.

2019 - Week 44 Top IndieGame Releases


RaginRamen

Welcome, welcome one and all to Week 44 of 52 this year.
Bringing you your weekly dose of IndieGems pulled from the forge that have caught my eye.

Below you will find my Top 3 IndieGame releases this week, no surprise that they are mostly... actually all... horror related. Even though they are all horror games, they have different styles and ways of doing it. From messing with your mind, bringing slow dread or finding the beauty in whats monstrous.

Some weeks (such as this one) there will be an extra review for a game that I had high hopes for, but has fallen short of my expectations. That review can be found at the end of the article.

Top 3 IndieGames

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Developer/Publisher: Shadow Knights Studio

Genre: Investigative Thriller, Horror

Price: £18.99 PC (Steam, VR), Date TBA (XBOX1, PS4)

Official Website

"Uniquely crafted thriller with glimpses into psychotic and alternate dimensions."

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REVIEW
For a game that is still in Early Access, I am massively impressed. The environment design is amazing with going as far as little details like cobwebs and door stoppers. Framing the environment is cinematic lighting, giving you an experience that is both beautiful and terrifying. Genuine tingles ran up my spine at times as I was truly immersed.

Enough gushing about the visuals, I'm sure if you watch the trailer yourself, it'll be clear. What you really want to know is how terrifying of a horror it is.

To start, this is one of my favourite types of horror themes. It is purely a psychological driven horror. No blood or gore, no jump scares. What you get instead is slow spine-tingling dread and surreal sprints through corridors that mess with your mind. In a way, it reminds me a little of Layers of Fear... if Layers of Fear had a huge graphical face lift.

Puzzles are hit and miss for me. Some are well designed but a lot of them rely on you having a very keen eye for details rather than a sharp mind. Eventually, after searching every nook and cranny I would find what I need, but the time spent searching takes you out of the immersion and story. There it is, my only complaint. Oh, and it was much too short of a game, but... then I guess it is still in Early Access and not finished, so will hold my breath on that till future updates.

Sound design is brilliant and atmospheric, music is lovely and eerie. I do recommend this game to any horror fans, especially those who love the twists and turns you get from psychological thrillers, just a word of warning that for its price, it is quite short... it's worth it because of the amazing work that has gone into it, but just fair warning. I still loved it.

 

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Developer/Publisher: Protocol Games/Raiser Games

Genre: Survival Horror, Adventure

Price: (Each Episode) £6.99 PC (Steam), Consoles (TBA)

Official Website

"Face the manifestations of the Presence, an unpredictable, eldritch AI that reacts to your way of playing"

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REVIEW
Our second horror of the article is different from the first in many ways, but it does not hold back the scares in the least. An episodic horror game living up to its name by bringing its excellent sound design to the front and making us all paranoid with fear.

I believe that the best horrors are not the ones that make you jump, but the ones that fill you with slow dread, making you second guess your every action. Your greatest enemy is yourself after all, and your biggest fears live within the realms of your imagination.

Song of Horror takes advantage of this brilliantly.

Highly recommend you wear headphones for this game. As you travel room to room, or down dark corridors, the sound of creaking floorboards and shoes scuffing in a hurry... but not your feet, these sounds come from upstairs. Or there is crying to be heard on the other side of a door. You can't trust your senses, but at the same time, you must rely on them to survive. Building this paranoia within you is fantastic and very Lovecraftian at its purest without relying on monsters and scares. Very few games make you doubt your choices like this one.

There are two unique features in this game I have no seen very often. The first is a mysterious one, I have read that the 'Presence' is a clever AI that remembers what you do and changes their scare tactics based on it. Hard for me to judge or experiment to see quite how that works, but on paper, it sounds really interesting and cool. The second feature I can talk more on, instead of giving you lives or health bars, you are given a cast of characters. Each of these characters has a different personality in how they interact with objects and clues and also different stats. I played my first playthrough as Etienne (it goes without saying that he did not survive until the end). What is cool is that when you die, that character is gone for good. You then pick another character to enter the haunted house with and once you find the body you can pick up your old inventory. This is excellent and adds to how tense the game can become when you know it could be your characters last breath.

Highly recommend this game, it's inexpensive and to echo many other reviewers out there, it has an essence of classic Resident Evil and Silent Hill, but with some new twists.

 

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Developer/Publisher: LaBelle Games/ARTE France

Genre: Point'n'Click, Adventure

Price: £12.99 PC (Steam), TBA (IOS, Android, SWITCH)

Official Website

"Play as the Creature, a wanderer without memory or past... A thousand miles from the horror stories"

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REVIEW
Living poetry, a breathing painting that you experience. 

From the moment you awaken and open your eyes, the world is painted before you as you explore and learn what life is. You may be this huge creature, but your mind is like a child, seeing for the first time a deer and the flowers blossoming. To me, it almost doesn't feel like a game, it is much more akin to an experience. There are game play mechanics and puzzles to solve sure, but you are so absorbed in the story and the character, you forget it's a game you're playing.

The art is a wonderful watercolour style and enhanced by the music that accompanies it. Even in the times of silence, it is filled with birds chirping or streams running, there is life in this enclosed world that you journey through. Headphones are a must when experiencing this story. Sound design is mastered perfectly, with silence being used to drive emotion when at times needed.

As is to be expected, some will compare it to the original story, as is done with many works of re-interpretation. What makes this very interesting is that you are given choice over matters. The story itself is different from the book but no less heartwrenching as you see through the eyes of the creature and hear his inner thoughts. You begin to empathise with him and as you decide how he reacts to certain situations, you begin to live through him, for better or worse. 

Emotion is key to storytelling. It's a belief of mine that real art and a good story makes you feel and The Wanderer takes you through happiness, regret, sadness and anger.

I can not recommend this game enough. Some may turn away because of its length (3hrs), but I tell you it is worth it. I hope that the developers continue to tell beautiful stories that we can experience and learn from, I'll be there waiting for more.

 

Um... Meh

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Developer/Publisher: Night School Studio

Genre: Point'n'Click, Adventure

Price: £15.99 PC (Epic), Console £16.74 (PS4, XBOX1)

Official Website

"But there’s a loophole: outdrink Satan and he’ll grant you re-entry to Earth."

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REVIEW
I have included this game in the article because it is a game I have been looking forward to for a long time. Like many, I am a big fan of NightSchools previous game "Oxenfree". The free-flowing conversations that touched on heavy subjects and themes so effortlessly and provided us with emotion in the story and characters that we loved.

When I first heard the announcement of AfterParty and watched their first trailer, I was more than excited. It didn't look like it would be as deep of a story as Oxenfree was, definitely a more casual fun trip through hell with colours and plenty of humour and I was ok with that. What I didn't know at the time is that this casual trip would be a long walk with not much to say.

Oxenfree, for those unfamiliar, is famous for their free-flowing conversations and well-written dialogue. In AfterParty, it is instead held back by a heavy load of exposition that doesn't go anywhere. Like a joke with no punchline, this exposition is then repeated on those long walks, thinking maybe the conversation is going somewhere... but no. 

Much of the game felt very flat to me, and if it wasn't for the conversations filling the void, I would not have made it to the end of the game. This is because a large portion of the game is walking from A to B and doing what you're told. There is very little choice to be made and what choice you do have is an illusion. Often this kind of railroading of a player can be forgiven in my eyes, many amazing games are extremely linear and make up for it in other aspects, usually story. Unfortunately, I have already mentioned how the story disappointed me, so combined with the very "go here do that" game style, it was a very slow crawl.

There are redeeming parts of the game. The voice acting is brilliant and you could tell the little inflexions and range of emotions performed making it enjoyable to listen to. The characters have thought out personalities that lend to the voices and they're likeable. I grew to like many of them, even if the story did let it down.

In conclusion, it's not a bad game, there were entertaining moments with some funny jokes, but I never felt like I needed to keep playing, I just felt... meh.

 

 

Catch me again every Monday for the weeks IndieGems that are fresh out the Forge. I brave the overwhelming out pour from Steam, so you don't have to.

If any devs want to get their freshly made gems- I mean games- fully reviewed, drop me a message on here or on my email [email protected]

I will check out your page and see what article or video I can make for you. Also can help with creating Presskits and Promotions for those that need it (whether being released soon or in the far future) 

Signed: RaginRamenTITLE.thumb.png.aeae098aacdaaf2622e827c7c13223af.png

2019 - Week 44 IndieGame Releases


RaginRamen

Welcome, welcome one and all to Week 44 of 52 this year.
Bringing you your weekly dose of IndieGems pulled from the forge that have caught my eye.

 

FULL DISCLOSURE: I have not played any of these (unless mentioned), my opinion is structured through watching Let's Play videos, and analyzing reviews and stats. For full reviews of my Top Picks of the Week, follow here
 

So this week we have a range of interesting IndieGames that have been released, half of which are on the spookier side as can be expected for the end of October. Check them out below and let me know if you've picked any of them up and given them a go.

Lee Inside TV

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Developer/Publisher: Kyrios Game Studio

Genre: Adventure, Puzzle-Platformer

Price: £1.99 PC (Steam)

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"Where gameplay is always changing and each level feels unique

 

Raindancer

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Developer/Publisher: Strange Creatures Studio

Genre: Action, Adventure, RPG

Price: £0.79 PC (Steam)

Official Website

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"A ONE-HIT-DEATH boss-rush action adventure"

 

Spooky Station

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Developer/Publisher: Estúdio Vaca Roxa

Genre: ArenaBrawler, TextAdventure, Action, Puzzle, Rogue-Like

Price: £3.99 PC (Steam)

Official Website

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"9 Ghostly games... this bundle is certain to spook your socks off!"

 

Quest for Conquest

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Developer/Publisher: Pixel Pinecone

Genre: Adventure, Caravan Management

Price: £4.99 PC (Steam)

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"...the ruler is doing nothing about it, so maybe it's time to replace them."

 

Ball-Pit Simulator

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Developer/Publisher: Drew J. Stivers

Genre: Adventure, Platformer

Price: £3.99 PC (Steam, Itchio, Gamejolt)

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"There is only one rule in the ball pit, don't touch the green balls!"

 

Cathedral

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Developer/Publisher: DecemberBorn Interactive 

Genre: Action, Adventure, Metroidvania

Price: £11.99 PC (Steam, GoG)

Official Website

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"A world full of secrets, hidden rooms, dungeons and towns; Cathedral features a vast world, meant for exploring!"

 

 

Pixamal Zoo (Early Access)

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Developer/Publisher: Twitter Monkey Maneuvers

Genre: Tycoon, Simulation, RPG

Price: £12.99 PC (Steam)

Official Website

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"Only you can save the zoo! So, do you want the job?"

 

Catch me again every Saturday for the weeks IndieGems that are fresh out the Forge. I brave the overwhelming out pour from Steam, so you don't have to.

If any devs want to get their freshly made gems- I mean games- fully reviewed, drop me a message on here or on my email [email protected]

I will check out your page and see what article or video I can make for you. Also can help with creating Presskits and Promotions for those that need it (whether being released soon or in the far future) 

Signed: RaginRamenTITLE.thumb.png.aeae098aacdaaf2622e827c7c13223af.png

Sin Slayers - The Seven Deadly Sins


HappyFeet_1402

Key Information:

Developer/Publisher: Goonswarm/Black Tower Entertainment
Genre: RPG, Turn Based Strategy, Rogue-lite
Price: £11.39 (Steam, Humble)

"Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, Pride; these are the seven deadly sins men and women are confronted with throughout their time on this mortal plane of existence, temptations borne within the hearts and souls of us all, the slippery path set before us to lead us all into damnation."

The words reverberated around the cold stone walls of the chapel, not spoken in raised tone but with a solemnity that granted them both power and presence. The Warrior was tense, for he had no recollection of how they had arrived in this place nor whether the elderly man before them was complicit in this mystery, though for now it seemed wisest to stay silent and listen.

"For aeons we had believed that those hedonistic traits were nothing more than bedtime horror tales, told to keep children and adult alike on the narrow path of virtuousness, designed to keep the masses in line while our Noblemen & Women pursued a much freer life, where the judgmental eyes of the keepers of the faith did not watch."

The Huntress & Priestess flanked the Warrior, focused less on the speaker and far more alert to their surroundings. Faint light crept from hanging candles in the corners of the chapel hall, casting ungodly shadows across the baroque statues based around the pillars supporting the towering ceiling, as if the shadows themselves held a life of their own.

"Foolish we all were to discard the warnings of scripture as nothing more than manipulative writings, our lack of belief has deceived us all. Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy & Pride; we caved to our primal desires, and as each and every one of us traveled that path we opened the door to them. Further we debased our virtue, and we lent credence to them, granting them substance."

The lights around the chapel grew dimmer, the shadows growing in thickness and seeming to move with a real energy around the hall. All three of them now focused solely on the heavy words falling from the old mans lips, reverberating around the now unseen walls.

"The Sin Lords, accompanied by the lost and ruinous, the damned and possessed, hold dominion over this realm. There is no escaping from this reality, there is only the hard trail of redemption, and if you wish to feel the warmth of a bright summer day or taste the freshness of spring water upon your lips again then you must face those hedonistic desires within and overcome the Seven Deadly Sins" 

Overview:

Sin Slayers is a new offering from Goonswarm which offers quick turn based combat, RPG progression and Rogue-lite adventuring on procedurally generated gothic maps, ensuring no two playthroughs are exactly the same.

Review:

The vast majority of your time will be spent on the atmospheric procedurally generated maps outside of the Church safe haven, tentatively exploring through the fog of war in search of your quarry, while also expecting something horrible to happen with every move into an unexplored tile. There are a whole range of text based events to come across, allowing you to rummage through graves and all manner of other things for some items of note, as well as static traps, traders, resting points, and of course enemy encounters. 

The trio of heroes you decide to bring on an adventure will allow you some tools to make exploring a little easier (the Warrior will reveal tiles of interest within a small range), though it’s worth thinking about when you decide to use these abilities, as there are cooldown timers that only tick over as you move through unexplored portions of the map, so using the Priestesses group heal prematurely can really haunt you if you encounter a bruising battle straight after!

These maps are also where one of the games stand out features begins to play out, the Sin Meter, which will increase as you undertake certain actions on the map, and are very thematically tied to the Sin Lord which rules over the part of the world you’ve set foot in. Gluttony will punish players for using food items, Sloth punishes use of the healing/resting fountains, Envy will punish any crafting done while on the map. These all provide a slightly different handicap to players, as if you haven’t prepared carefully for the Sin you are facing, the inhabitants of the map will get increasingly more powerful as your sin meter increases. 

Remember here though, that with greater risk comes greater reward, and while managing your Sin level to keep it low will offer a quicker and easier journey, if you can handle the greater punishment the game will reward you with greater payouts after battles!

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The remainder of your time will be spent within the sanctuary of the Church, a place full of NPCs you’ve encountered on your journeys, and where you have the ability to use traders, change up the trio of adventurers you’re using, progress through the main quests, as well as explore the deeper parts of the crafting system.

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Sin Slayers can feel a little light in the RPG progression department if you’re looking for a game that offers deep customisation and a crafting system worthy of needing a degree education, however, this isn’t a bad thing when you look at what the game is actually trying to achieve.

Each of your heroes will be able to level up five times, increasing base stats (like health) in a fixed way, as well as having 5 levels of abilities to choose from as you get deeper into the game, and tweaking the active and passive abilities does give you a chance to have heroes fill certain needs within your squad. One of the surprises I liked was that unlocking ability choices doesn’t appear dependent on character level, as different craftable items (stones of knowledge) are used to get deeper into the ability tree, meaning you could unlock a new heroes skill tree immediately upon recruiting them if you desired it!

Crafting can either be done mid-adventure with some items (food, potions, other 1 use items) while the deeper gear crafting will be  available as you steadily progress the capabilities of the Smith in the church. One thing I learnt for too late was the it can be well worth keeping hold of older ‘useless’ gear as they become ingredients in the recipes for better gear; the Old Broken Axe is needed for a Battle Axe, and that in turn is required to craft the Inquisitors Axe which ends up being a solid weapon choice!

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Combat within Sin Slayers offers up no major surprises to any turn based strategy player, as your heroes line up against all manner of depraved and possessed enemies, before proceeding to take chunks out of each other in an initiative based order. The majority of fights aren’t particularly time consuming, but as the game implements a rock, paper, scissors system of resistances and weaknesses against differing types of damage (physical, holy, projectile amongst others) you can very quickly find yourself struggling against enemies which hold some advantages over you in this department. Given that there are 40 normal enemies, on top of the 7 mini bosses & 8 Sin Lords, the random encounter fights have enough variety to keep them engaging.

Your 10 heroes themselves fit a variety of slightly different roles on the battlefield, bringing damage, abilities, and utility to your squad, and it’s well worth thinking about what synergies you can create on the battlefield! I’m currently running with the Inquisitor, Paladin & Warrior, all 3 are physical damage based, but with high armour (which unlike health, always replenishes for each battle) and the passive once a turn heal the Paladin offers give a hard hitting, durable trio with some self sustain.

One last word of advice within battles, make sure you hover your mouse over the battlefield items, as the game will occasionally hide some free items within some inconspicuous looking crates/bottles/tables that would be easily dismissed as nothing but decoration.

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Final Thoughts:

I’ve put a fair few hours into Sin Slayers since getting hold of a key, and while I’m now done with writing the review, the best compliment I can give the game is that I am not done playing this one just yet! There’s plenty of challenge to be found within the game if you decide to push your sin meter to the max, and even without handicapping yourself that way Sin Slayers is not a walk in the park once you progress past the first Sin Lord. The game offers another great option for people who are looking to relax for a couple of hours in a shorter gaming session, while still feeling like you’ve had some reward even if you’re adventure finished in failure overall!

I want to thank Black Tower Entertainment for providing us with a key to take Sin Slayers for a spin, and if you’ve got any thoughts let me know below!

HappyFeet
#CraftFightSurvive

Ape Out Review - Smash! Grab! Escape!


RaginRamen

Key Info:

Developer/Publisher: Gabe Cuzzillo/Devolver Digital

Genre: Top-Down, Action, Smash'em Up

Price: £10.99 PC (Steam, GoG, Humble, Itchio), SWITCH
DEMO AVAILABLE

Official Website

Ever have those moments of pure anger where you run away into your mind, turn into a huge ape and brutally pulverise everyone in the building into a pulp during a mad run to the exit? No?... Well if you did, it would look like this. 

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- Pros
Intense Bold Beautiful Art I could just watch for hours.
Punch in the face Jazz Orchestra that is procedurally generated by how Apeshit (sorry) crazy it is getting.
Simple Controls. Move. Grab. Punch. That's it.
Satisfyingly Hard. It has that 'Just one more try' worm that burrows in your head, telling you, you can do it.
Shakes it up every level. Enemies change, surprises come into play, your strategy must evolve as you progress.
Angry Violent Ape (good stress reliever).

- Cons
Too Short (only took me 2 hours to complete).


Ape in Cage. Ape Mad, Ape break out and go on a violence-induced sprint to exit
This isn't really a narrative game and that's ok. It's not meant to be and I wouldn't expect it to.
However, between the bloody corridors and guards running on fire, there is a very loose visual narrative. You start in a lab, you've been experimented on and later in the next few stages, there is a progression of sorts with each of the 4 stages occupying a different environment. All these stages (presented as Vinyl Albums, so cool) work as 4 different vignettes or slices of a great Angry Ape who just wants freedom... at any cost.

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You would think it is just a smash, grab, have a nice day kind of game
But let me tell you about my first play-through. I was immediately engrossed in the carnage and the completionist in my head said to get revenge on every single one of these men for imprisoning me, hunt them down, rip them apart and be rewarded by the satisfying cymbal crash... But no, as I picked up a dismembered arm to fling at another incoming enemy, a spray of bullets from a shotgun burst towards me, and then it hit me. I'm meant to escape. 
In the beginning, I thought the game frustrating, but when I started actively trying to escape, it became the mad rush it was meant to be. New levels brought more surprises, in one level lingering close to a window meant getting shot by snipers, soon I encountered explosive experts, flamethrowers, mortars falling from the sky, the variation kept coming and made everything fresh, constantly pushing me to re-evaluate my strategy.
"In most games, procedural generation is there to add replayability and add very divergent outcomes. In this game, it's about forcing you to improvise. - Gabe Cuzzillo
You can't rely on knowing the layout of the building or position of the guards, you have to take each moment as it comes. For those that know me, I normally get turned off a game at the mention of procedural generation, there's no authorship to the design and structure, but in the case of Ape Out, it is for a reason and a reason that works for me.

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You've got to admit, the music is pretty fantastic
So it's no wonder that during production, it became a linchpin and focus that Gabe Cuzzillo latched onto. "You've Got to Have Freedom" by saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, THAT is the linchpin that drove it home.

"It really spoke to me on a deep level" - Gabe Cuzzillo

But we're here to talk about the music in Ape Out, an algorithmic masterpiece of a score by Matt Boch. Double time drums set the pace and the rhythm of your heartbeat, growing louder and more intense as violence escalates. Loud cymbals crash into the track with every man you smash, ratatat of guns and explosions and the wet squishing sound of carpet drenched in blood. This is a symphony of carnage and the urgency to escape, blended into a head-bobbing jazz track that you control. Does it all fit and work? It most certainly does and it gives you the satisfaction that it was your rampage that created this soundtrack.
On top of this amazing soundtrack, we've got the sharp colours and shapes that pull you in and compliment the harshness of the saxophone. The inspiration for the art style sits heavily with Saul Bass, who is famous for strong colour, simplicity in shapes and lack of tonality that creates a striking image. This was brilliantly re-created by Bennet Foddy.
The tall parallel walls give that vertigo feel and tightness, making you feel like a rat, trapped in a maze as you scurry around looking for the exit and avoiding the dangers. This little detail took me a while to notice, but when I did I loved it. There is no health bar telling you how weak you are, but instead the more damage you take, the bigger the pool of blood that trails behind you. This is the kind of game design I love. When the visuals and music don't just look and sound good but work to make the game better.


As mentioned in the Pros and Cons, this is not a very long game and depending on your level of skill, you could complete this game in a very short time. Thankfully there is an arcade mode that scores you for how far you can get without dying and a harder difficulty mode too. 
For me, those modes don't interest me. For others, it will add maybe an extra hour or two to your fun.


Final Thoughts
Ape Out is a hugely enjoyable game, it lived up to what I wanted and it gave me plenty of pleasant surprises that kept the repetitive gameplay fresh and interesting. The music is amazing (I'll be buying the soundtrack right after this) and the visuals were pure art for my eyes to drink up. 
My only con is that the game was too short, but in actual fact, its a double-sided coin for me. Yes, it did not take long to finish the game, but at the same time, if it had lasted any longer, it would have risked becoming stale. The game was exactly as long as it should be, despite the brevity. 
Still, I can't help but want more. More Albums and more music to smash people to the rhythm of. Highly recommend the game to anyone with anger problems, a love for jazz, or just wants a short game to enjoy. Or anyone really... I mean who doesn't like Apes, Jazz, and Violence?


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Pathway - Grab a Stetson & Whip!


HappyFeet_1402

Key Info:

Developer/Publisher: Robotality/Chucklefish Ltd

Genre: RPG, Rogue-Lite, Turn Based Strategy

Price: £12.99 (Steam)

Overview:

Pathway will instantly remind you of certain cult-status franchises (yeah, I’m looking at you Indiana Jones), both through its aesthetics and the story events that you stumble upon while you’re playing, and given some of the events I found while playing, I’m certain there is more than the odd dedicated homage to old Indie. Pathway is a mix of genres, having the fast playability but 'one attempt' gameplay of a rogue-lite, the progression and equipment management of a friendly RPG, and an easy to grasp turn based combat that all combines to create a game that is pretty much perfect if you’re looking to kill a couple of hours while also getting a sense of achievement from your time.

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Review:

Within the game there are currently five ‘adventures’ to play through, providing the overriding narrative to the actions that you take on the world map, and giving the player an end goal to work towards, and these adventures are played out over an expansive ‘world map’ where the pathway to victory is left for the player to decide. Given that there are around 30 individual locations on the first map of the first adventure, which acts as a sort of introduction to the game, and on the second adventure their are multiple maps, each with in excess of 30 individual locations each offering different tactical battles, narrative text book choices or events, and a range of traders, there is plenty of scope here to play through the same adventure more than once and experience a different journey to the final destination.

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Before each adventure you’ll be asked to build your team from a roster of companions, each filling slightly different roles on a battlefield or unlocking different options through the storybook events, so you do need to choose wisely up front as this team will need to take you through the whole adventure, barring some occasions that the story results in a fourth member offering to squad up with you. There’s a solid roster of 16 playable characters, each of which differ in their role and abilities from each other, which when combined into a trio to take on the bad guys offers a different tactical way to approach the adventures, personally I'm taking a mixture of short and medium range weapons (think shotguns and assault rifles) while also making sure I've got a few bandages and grenades for when need arises.

A great deal of these companions are only unlocked after completing certain parts of the game, or meeting other pre-requisites, such as looting a particular item (for example the Disintegrator unlocks Bellamy), and so there's a steady introduction to more varied members and options, but it also ensures that you aren't overwhelmed upfront through choice, as the gradual introduction allows a chance to recognise where certain skills and abilities come in useful. Speaking of skills and abilities, the skill trees for each adventurer aren’t the most in depth that have even been seen in a RPG, but they do give enough choice to tweak each of them to the playstyle and role you’d like to focus on in the tactical battles, and you will want to specialise your adventurers as they level up, because without competent armour repairs, healers or damage dealers you can very quickly find yourself in a tough spot after battling through a few encounters! As you would expect progression is permanent, so the levels and perks (and inventory) gained through one adventure will carry on through to the next, and while you’ll need to spread the love, giving different characters some game time, to get the whole roster levelled up, it’s a solid form of permanency that shows some long term reward for players.

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Combat is pretty straightforward but also very quick in the main, feeling like short quick skirmishes rather than protracted or overly complicated affairs, especially as some of the 'random' encounters can be over and done with in the space of a few short minutes. The basics will instantly be picked up by any Turn Based Strategy player; try and stick to cover, get your lines of sight to increase the chances of hitting an enemy, flank where possible, use abilities in conjunction for greater effect and bring enemies down with a focussed effort rather than spreading fire amongst a wider number of foes, as it really helps getting the amount of incoming damage reduced as quickly as possible!

There are some times when combat can feel a little repetitive, especially where you end up triggering the ‘random’ event skirmishes, because these can often feel like a slightly different version of the battle you had only a few minutes before, however, given that the battles only last a matter of minutes I don’t have any major gripes, and the attrition they place upon your band of adventurers makes choosing the right time to heal and repair feel like a strategic choice. The bigger battles though, those that act as story progression and main events, they do offer a real challenge on some well designed maps. You'll come across ever increasing bad odds, where there are more enemies to face, usually of more varying specialities, higher levels, and they hit far harder and take more of a beating to get down than in the random encounters. The main map will highlight these with markers above the location before you reach them, and I'd suggest making sure you don't turn up with your armour half destroyed and bullet holes riddled throughout your adventurers body!

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I haven’t mentioned the replayability of the game yet, but it’s clear that the options are available for multiple playthroughs of varying challenge, as you can tweak adventures to have more enemies during the battles, you can begin with reduced supplies for healing and repairing, and less fuel that's needed to move through the map, as well as a generic ‘difficulty’ slider to just crank the toughness of enemies up even without increasing the number of them. I found that on the standard settings it’s easily doable to complete a pathway through one of the maps in under two hours, acting as a nice time to hang up the keyboard and mouse for the evening, but if you're in for a longer playthrough you can start cranking up the difficulty.

Summary:

I had great fun tumbling through an open desert, watching Nazi’s get disintegrated when they opened up ancient sarcophagi (there’s old Indiana Jones again!), and for a tactical game actually found the experience more relaxing and entertaining than some of those that really emphasise the nuances and depth that can be found within the genre. Overall, Pathway is an entertaining game, perfectly suited for starting, and finishing, something in one sitting, but where you can return at any point and not have to truly start over again because of the progression mechanics, so grab your Stetson & whip and jump in!

HappyFeet

 

 

Steam sale spooky indie highlights!


kyathil

Am I only writing about horror games? Maybeee?

Well, I am putting up some indie spooky games featured on the current sale that I have either played myself or planning to get! To make it easier I will place them in different categories: spooky, scary, poop-pants, unkown territory (meaning, I don't know how scary they are yet and mean to play them!). I will not be reviewing the games on this post, due to the amount of them. Just highlighting some interesting deals!

SPOOKY

These games are not of the horror genre, or are not that scary, but can definitely get you into the Halloween spirit!

A Plague Tale: Innocence

Price: 26.99€ (40% discount) Steam link

Follow the grim tale of young Amicia and her little brother Hugo, in a heartrending journey through the darkest hours of history. Hunted by Inquisition soldiers and surrounded by unstoppable swarms of rats, Amicia and Hugo will come to know and trust each other. As they struggle to survive against overwhelming odds, they will fight to find purpose in this brutal, unforgiving world.

 

 

Little Nightmares

Price: 4.99€ (75% discount) Steam link

Immerse yourself in Little Nightmares, a dark whimsical tale that will confront you with your childhood fears! Help Six escape The Maw – a vast, mysterious vessel inhabited by corrupted souls looking for their next meal. As you progress on your journey, explore the most disturbing dollhouse offering a prison to escape from and a playground full of secrets to discover. Reconnect with your inner child to unleash your imagination and find the way out!

 

 

Binding of Isaac: Rebirth (complete bundle)

Price: 25.07€ (30% discount) Steam link

When Isaac’s mother starts hearing the voice of God demanding a sacrifice be made to prove her faith, Isaac escapes into the basement facing droves of deranged enemies, lost brothers and sisters, his fears, and eventually his mother.

Gameplay
The Binding of Isaac is a randomly generated action RPG shooter with heavy Rogue-like elements. Following Isaac on his journey players will find bizarre treasures that change Isaac’s form giving him super human abilities and enabling him to fight off droves of mysterious creatures, discover secrets and fight his way to safety.

 

 

Darkwood

Price: 5.59€ Steam link

Darkwood - a new perspective on survival horror. Scavenge and explore a rich, ever-changing free-roam world by day, then hunker down in your hideout and pray for the morning light.

 

 

Graveyard Keeper

Price: 8.39€ (50% discount) Steam link

Graveyard Keeper is the most inaccurate medieval cemetery management sim of all time. Build and manage your own graveyard, and expand into other ventures, while finding shortcuts to cut costs. Use all the resources you can find. After all, this is a game about the spirit of capitalism, and doing whatever it takes to build a thriving business. And it’s also a love story.

 

 

SCARY

For those that wishes a bit of a scary experience, but not on the level that you might need to find your pet and get some emergency cuddles while playing. Or if you are a little bit easily scared, yet still wants to experience horror!

Narcosis (VR supported)

Price: 6.24€ (50% discount) Steam link

Survival, horror at the sunless depths of the Pacific Ocean: Stranded on the seafloor with low light and few tools, an industrial diver takes desperate steps to surface before his oxygen — and sanity — give out.

This first person survival story unfolds from inside a half-ton, high-tech dive suit — a “walking coffin." Influenced and inspired by a growing appetite for unconventional horror and narrative-driven games, Narcosis is rooted in reality, but steeped in the surreal.

 

 

Apsulov: End of Gods

Price: 13.43€ (20% discount) Steam link

The humans delved far beneath the earth to find the mercy of the gods. What they found was never meant to reach the surface. Not on Midgard, nor any of the nine realms of Yggdrasil. Now their discovery wreaks havoc on their world, exploiting their technology, and leaving all in misery and decay. Through all their conquests and revelations they never stopped to consider that some things are buried for a reason.

In a world of technology and mythological artifacts, chaos rules over the human realm. It is in this chaos that you find your purpose and destiny.

In this future viking horror you awake in a sanctuary of steel and concrete, built to research and exploit the worlds of Yggdrasil, and to house an artifact, buried in the earth aeons ago.
Unveil the secrets of the mythology, the artifacts, and the realms of Yggdrasil in Apsulov: End of Gods.

 

 

Layers of Fear 2

Price: 12.49€ (50% discount) Steam link

Layers of Fear 2 is a first-person psychological horror game with an emphasis on exploration and story. Players control a Hollywood actor who heeds the call of an enigmatic director to take on the lead role in a film shot aboard an ocean liner. Beware, for all may not truly be what it seems.

 

 

SOMA

Price: 4.19€ (85% discount) Steam link

SOMA is a sci-fi horror game from Frictional Games, the creators of Amnesia: The Dark Descent. It is an unsettling story about identity, consciousness, and what it means to be human.

The radio is dead, food is running out, and the machines have started to think they are people. Underwater facility PATHOS-II has suffered an intolerable isolation and we’re going to have to make some tough decisions. What can be done? What makes sense? What is left to fight for?

 

 

 

POOP-PANTS

These are all games that I found truly horrifying (except I haven't played Witch Hunt or Home Sweet Home but got scared watching the trailers). Expect jumpscares, creepy atmosphere and nightmarish monsters and horrifying experiences!

 

Pacify

Price: 2.75€ (31% discount) Steam link

You just signed on with PAH Inc. Paranormal Activity Helpers Incorporated, yeah sounds corny, but the pay is great. They said you won't ever be in any real danger, and they have tons of work right now. Your first job is at some old haunted house. There is a broker wanting to put the house for sale, but with everyone in the town spreading rumors of evil living inside the house, he needs some proof that it is safe. He actually seems creeped out himself. Anyway, he hired PAH Inc. to check the place out. You can go check it out alone if you'd like, but I would take at least 3 more friends with me. Check the place out, and if there is anything supernatural going on, try to bring evidence back to PAH Inc.

 

 

 

Unforgiving: A Northern Hymn

Price: 3.74€ (75% discount) Steam link

You may think you know your limits – what evils you might be willing to commit to save yourself.
Are you ready to find out what you are capable of? Are you brave enough to face the darkness in your soul?
Not only are the old stories true, but the things that crawl in the shadows are more wretched than you could have ever imagined.

The whispers of the northern woods pick at your sanity. Your fingers tremble as you light your final match, body shivering from dread. Do you sense them hunting for you? Can you feel them hunger for your last breath?
You can feel his eyes on you, sitting at the water's edge, watching as he plays his infernal violin…

 

 

Witch Hunt

Price: 6.14€ (25% discount) Steam link

Witch Hunt is a challenging horror themed hunting game that takes place in the 18th century. Main focus of the game is on exploration, non-linearity, and atmosphere. Witch Hunt features lite RPG elements in form of a financial system and a skill system.

You play as a witch hunter who took the task of eliminating all evil that settled in the woods near the town of Bellville. To achieve your goals, you'll be able to use weapons, magic, and other tools that can be found and bought.

 

 

 

Amnesia: The Dark Decent

Price: 2.99€ (85% discount) Steam link

The last remaining memories fade away into darkness. Your mind is a mess and only a feeling of being hunted remains. You must escape.
Awake...
Amnesia: The Dark Descent, a first person survival horror. A game about immersion, discovery and living through a nightmare. An experience that will chill you to the core.
You stumble through the narrow corridors as the distant cry is heard.
It is getting closer.

 

 

 

Home Sweet Home

Price: 10.19€ (40% discount) Steam link

Tim’s life has drastically changed since his wife disappeared mysteriously. In one night, after suffering from the sorrow for a long time, he woke up in an unknown place instead of his house. While trying to escape from this place, he was hunted by a rancorous female spirit. Can he survive? Is this place actually his house? Does it relate to the disappearance of his wife? Some dark sinister secret is hidden inside this house, and it won’t be a place of happiness as it used to be any longer.

 

 

 

UNKNOWN TERRITORY

I haven't played these nor do I know enough of these games to properly place them in a category, but I do plan on trying them all out at some point! All are on my personal Steam wish list!

 

The Initiate 2: The First Interviews (no 1 is also on sale)

Price: 3.74€ (70% discount) Steam link

With little memory of how they got there, three people awake in adjacent cells. A voice bellows from a wall speaker. "Welcome to your trial - Your goal is simple, escape or die".

This is the story of Samantha Blake - a distraught mother who lost her child during complex brain surgery, Benjamin Clarke - an alcoholic whose life was turned upside down with the death of his wife in a horrific car accident and Stephen Parfitt - a college professor and author who is starting to give up on life with an ever changing World.

Three strangers - forced to work together to survive captivity - each searching the answers, the redemption and the peace of mind that they so desire.

 

 

Remothered: Tormented Fathers

Price:  7.99€ (60% discount) Steam link

Remothered: Tormented Fathers is the pure and realistic survival horror videogame. A game by Darril Arts, directed by Chris Darril, developed by Stormind Games.

Psychology plays a huge role within the game: heroes and enemies are atypical and the line between good and evil is blurred. The plot is rich of unpredictable twists, but it is touching at the same time. The development of the game is similar to that of a film narration, where the player perfectly identifies himself with the character. The soundtrack, composed by Nobuko Toda (Final Fantasy, Halo, Metal Gear Solid) and Luca Balboni, enhances the terrifying atmosphere of the game.

 

 

 

Don't Knock Twice (VR supported)

Price: 6.79€ (66% discount) Steam link

Don’t Knock Twice is a highly-immersive first-person horror game with VR support on HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.
To save her estranged daughter, a guilt-ridden mother must uncover the frightening truth behind the urban tale of a vengeful, demonic witch. Explore a grand manor house environment and interact with almost every object you see. To find and save your daughter, you will explore all depths of the manor, searching for hidden clues and wield items to fight or escape the terror that surrounds you. Developed alongside the 2017 horror film, Don’t Knock Twice, starring Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica).

“One knock to wake her from her bed, twice to raise her from the dead.”

Play with or without a VR device.

 

 

 

The Blackout Club

Price:  19.99€ (20% discount) Steam link

The Blackout Club is a first-person co-op horror game centered around a group of teenage friends investigating a monstrous secret beneath the skin of their small town.

Every night, everyone in town gets out of bed and sleepwalks. In the morning, they wake up with no recollection of what happened or where they were.

IT TOOK YOUR FRIEND. THEY SAY IT'S NOT REAL
 

 

 

These are just some of the offers going on and if you play any of these, please leave a comment about what you grabbed and what you thought of the game!

 

Kyathil - The Horror fan with nerves of poop

 

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Rise to Ruins - Striking a Balance with Corruption


HappyFeet_1402

Key Info:

Developer: Raymond Doerr (SixtyGig Games)

Genre: God-Like, City Management, Tower Defense

Price: £11.39 (Steam Link)

Overview:

Rise to Ruins is a brilliant mix of the city building & tower defense genres, with a hint of god-like features, where you aim to establish well rounded towns in a world blighted by the ‘corruption’, essentially all manner of walking dead and monsters aiming to take control of the map that you also want to keep for yourself. Worked upon by Raymond Doerr since it’s initial early access release in 2014 Rise to Ruins finally received its 1.0 update and full release on the 14th October.

In Depth:

The game offers it’s players the opportunity to choose from 45 Locations on the World Map to begin setting up their initial base, all of which have different layouts and their own challenges for players to overcome, whether it’s a lack of certain resources or terrain that offer no obvious ‘nice’ places to start from, where you could reasonably grab a stretch of land that is easily defensible. Though the World Map also serves to function as a longer term campaign for players to work their way through, as once you’ve got an initial base established and producing resources you can look at having your villagers emigrate to begin populating another village on a different map, in fact as the corruption begins to push too hard in one map the aim appears to be to pick up sticks and move on to somewhere a little less tainted to carry on.

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More locally the aim on any specific map is to carve out a stretch of untainted land to establish your village in safely, or if you’re feeling particularly adventurous you can aim to begin pushing the corruption back, although completely cleansing a map doesn't seem to be a game design, and this is where one of the biggest balancing acts comes into your decision making. The corruption will continue to spread across a map if left unchecked, and as it continues to spread the land available to you lessens, while also increasing the number of enemies that will crash upon your defenses night after night in an attempt to destroy your village, however, if the corruption isn’t able to expand as it wants to the waves of enemies that besiege your village will increase in difficulty, and so you are left with the tough ask of finding that sweet spot in between that doesn’t allow the corruption and its minions to overwhelm your defenses.

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City building and management is deep and meaningful, with actual choices to be made as you are limited in how quickly you can expand through a building support limit, as well as through the actual villagers available to you to fill these workers slots. Building also serves a secondary purpose, and that is expanding the area in which you’re able to build in, initially you’ll be given an ‘area of control’ around the camp that you place and all other buildings must be built within that area, but each additional building will extend the area of control around them allowing your controllable space to increase, with some buildings designed purely to give you more room to play with. This is where the perfectionist within me clashed with what I knew was the right thing to do, every other city builder I’ve ever played I’ve aimed for the ‘pretty’ town, the well thought out layouts, the aesthetically pleasing, but in Rise to Ruin you need to put that to one side and focus on extending your area of control. If you aren’t ambitious early on in grabbing land, you’re going to find it very hard to build everything you want, and just as hard to expand beyond your walls due to the time and resources needed to make an area safe – be bold, be ambitious, maximise the area of control!

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This brings us to the Tower Defense side of things, every night (and occasionally during the day) monsters are going to come for you, in a slow trickle to begin with before increasing night after night until hordes of enemies are descending upon your village! The AI is designed so that the monsters follow the shortest accessible path to your village, think Rimworld, and so you’re going to want to wall off three sides of your village and begin creating the ultimate path of doom. Defense is provided in multiple ways; constructed towers, golems, your own villagers and finally some god powers that you have available to you, but the nightly attacks can easily catch you out if you’re not prepared for it, and after the first night or two, you really cannot get by relying on purely the powers available to you (think fireballs, magic missiles etc). The difficulty ramps up pretty quickly, and more than once I’ve been sat there on night 3 or 4 and known that it’s game over already because I hadn’t planned properly and gotten the towers and supporting buildings needed for ammo built in time.

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Overall it’s a game I’ve been more than happy to follow through Early Access to its full release, and it offers a really solid challenge in it’s gameplay while also looking lovely as well! I can easily recommend the game to anyone who enjoys these genre’s, and if you’ve already played it let me know your own thoughts below!

HappyFeet

Die Hard 10 - Die hard with simulated physics - Noita Review


bravster

Key Info:

Developer: Nolla Games

Genre: Rogue-Lite, Action

Price: £13.99 Steam

Review:

The rogue-lite, a genre that in a nutshell rewards you after hours of perseverance and dedication to your chosen punishment. The true masters of the art will pummel you into submission eventually giving you that singular golden thread of a perfect run before taking you back to endure more torture, like some mad waiter who’s given you the cutlery but ran away with the main course and forced you to live out some obscure groundhog day where you can’t quite taste the meal.

Developed by Nolla Games, Noita is one of the latest in said genre. Akin to the ilk of Magicite and Deadcells it promises a painful experience from start to finish which at the time of writing I have not had a single successful run in the long string of now 200+ runs and 33 hours. Am I done yet? Nope.

Gameplay involves the player popping into the world as a robed purple figure without much pretence of what’s going on, equipped with 2 wands sent to venture forth into a procedurally generated mine filled with enemies to collect gold for some unknown reason – likely this will get fleshed out later as this is still in early access.

Wands are your main means of offence within the world with a maximum of four able to be held at any one time. Many can be picked up within the dungeon as you explore and can vary wildly from casting tiny bolts of magic which do limited damage to launching a full scale nuclear explosion across the screen that’s happy to rip you to shreds instantly should you be within the blast zone – which as a word of warning certain enemies can also pick up wands.

These wands can also be customised should you reach the end of an area where you essentially level up. Customisation is only limited by what is either in the shop, in your inventory or attached to other wands which you can add and remove to test them out before heading further into the depths. Fancy something that shoots 5 fireballs at once or a bomb that also freezes liquids? The possibilities and combinations are mind boggling with new spells and effects being added regularly through the development process.

Enemies come in a variety of shapes and sizes; starting off quite gentle in the first few stages featuring small bouncing enemies with easy to dodge projectiles all the way to what the hell was that thing oh look there’s the death screen in 3 seconds flat, at least it told me how I died. Every mob I’ve met so far has had different mechanics which is refreshing learning how to defeat or avoid them and provides a unique challenge as well as a possible solution when enemies fight eachother.

 

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With enemies and basic gameplay out of the way its time to get to the meat of what makes Noita stand out through so many others of the genre.

Simulated Physics.

Every pixel in the game boasts its own physics – liquids, dirt, sand, fire, gas, minecarts, rocks, ice, even electricity through liquids creating a very different kind of playpen for the creatively minded. Find a creative way to kill an enemy by kicking a flask of oil and watch it burn or impale it with a falling ice shard and you are rewarded double the gold for your victory. Yet be warned, enemies can end your fun just as easily; one moment of being trapped underwater after an enemy collapsed a roof on me comes to mind and drowning doesn’t take long especially when you accidentally swap to an electric weapon… fun times.

A favourite trick of mine is kicking a minecart and riding said minecart downhill into an unsuspecting chump at the bottom. Bliss.

 

Noita is an immensely fun and repayable gem that stands out because it deserves to stand out! With solid mechanics and a challenge that will keep even veterans to the roguelike genre satisfied for many an hour.
Sat currently at £13.99 on steam I would recommend Noita to anyone… or at least anyone who is a glutton for punishment.

Go on give the minecart ride a go and tell me it’s not satisfying!

My Indie Horror Top List!


kyathil

Halloween is just around the corner and what better way to celebrate it than with some spooky horror games? I've been a big fan of Halloween since a kid and have been playing a variety of horror games on Twitch the last couple of years, with a heavy focus on them during October. Thus I wanted to share with you my 5 top pick of indie horror games! However, I will not add some great well-known titles such as Layers of Fear, Amnesia or Outlast due to them already being classic horror games and the goal of this article is to introduce something new to the table. :classic_smile: Also, I haven't played every single horror game out there and some are not included because of that (such as Devotion and Home Sweet Home).

When I compiled this list I took several things into consideration and will add ratings reflecting these aspects:

  • Scare factor - This one is given, I think. This is my biased opinion and they are rated in comparison with what I've experienced so far.
  •  Gameplay - How smooth the gameplay is
  • Story - Is there any deeper story or just something to justify all them scares?

More aspects could definitely be considered, but don't want to write a long, tedious, novel! Without further ado, here are my top picks for indie horror games:

 

5. Pacify header.jpg.a8bc66ea82fc79d5051751ce1fa0024a.jpg

Publisher:  SKH Apps

Release date: 29th of February 2019

Genre: Co-op puzzle haunted house fun times?

Price: 3.99€ Steam

On fifth place comes the only multiplayer game on this list, which might also be part of the reason why it's actually on the list too! You can choose to play solo or together with up to 3 other unforunate souls, in either co-op mode or PVP. If you play solo, which is most of my personal experience of the game, it will be a whole LOT more difficult and scary... So beware!

The game takes place in a house which you and your comrades, for some reason, are set to investigate. This is not just any house though, but one of those happy houses haunted by a happy little not-at-all-creepy ghost girl! After a short time in the house it becomes clear that it was a very bad idea to enter and the goal is set to simply escape. But, it's not as easy as just running towards the exit and pray to any eventual diety that you get out safe and sound. You have to solve puzzles, with tools such as dolls, matches and keys... And keep a constant eye out for that happy little girl, because if she detects you she will politely ask you to join her games and you will politely not want to participate in that. One advice, do read the notes you find... It will make everything much easier!

What I really like with this game is that it is a scary game to play with friends, but it's not like many other scarier multiplayer games such as Dead by Daylight which is basically a hide-and-seek game set on a pretty big map. Sure, there is a bit of hide-and-seek in Pacify too, but how you get out is a bit different (and pretty hard to nail, especially solo) and the map is not very big... It's just a house after all. It is also really fricking scary, much more so than Dead by Daylight. I'm pretty sure I browned my pants at one point while playing... It's also not a very expensive games and considering how many hours you can spend with it (it's quite replayable) I really think it is the game with the best price vs play hours on this list! If you and your friends enjoy some spooks, preferably as a team, I can warmly recommend giving this gem a spin. 

Score:   Scare factor - 8/10,  Gameplay 8/10, Story 5/10

 

 

4. Narcosis 825657242_header(2).jpg.4191dcd5aa5dda08c6dbccafbc7847a3.jpg

Publisher: Honor Code, Inc 

Release date: 28th of March 2017

Genre: First person survival, horror

Price: 12.49€ Steam

 

You are an industrial diver about to do everyday work on the bottom of the sea... And about to experience the absolute worst work day of your life. You put on your dive suit, doing your normal routine... Only this time something goes awfully wrong and you are left alone in your half-ton, high-tech dive suit described as a "walking coffin", trying to get back to your base and figure out what exactly happened. And whether anyone else survived. All this while carefully monitoring your oxygen level and defending yourself against hostile creatures. The sea hides many beautiful beings, but also lethal dangers. Navigation is slow in that heavy suit, your tools are few and the depth is very, very dark... You need to be clever in order to survive and return to the surface.

Narcosis features many familiar horror game concepts, such as the oxygen/sanity level which can be somewhat compared to the light source mechanism in games like Amnesia. The oxygen level will naturally deplete with time and you will need to find refills in order to not suffocate and die. Additionally, if you encounter hostiles or experience horrors it will start depleting more rapidly due to the protagnist breathing more rapidly (as you might expect a stressed person to do). I personally think this is a nice and realistic detail and makes the game feel more real. There are a couple of jump scares, but not that many, and some horrifying events that will increase that spook factor with quite a few notches. It's about as scary as SOMA, mostly relying on atmosphere and sounds to provide the horror elements (but not only). The suit is really clunky to steer, which bothered me at times, but also added to the overall claustrophobic atmosphere of the game.  Yes, you do a whole lot of exploration in the deep vast sea and yet you feel trapped and smothered due to this suit. I did read that some people found the graphics outdated, but I didn't think so myself and thought the game was realistic and at times really beautiful. Fantastic soundtrack to increase that abyssal ambiance too! 

The whole concept of Narcosis is to get a glimpse into how traumatic it would be to be put into a situation like the one the protagonist experiences. How he reacts to the events and surroundings feel realistic, most of the time. His desperation to find someone, anyone, increases the sense of despair and loneliness... And the constant fear of what lurks in the dark, but also in his own mind. The fight for survival is not just to survive foes but also to keep sane and not fall into utter despair. It also features some really nice plot twists that left me bamboozled for days! I really do hope that the protagonist got a BIG glass of some good whisky after his adventure. I definitely enjoyed my play through of the game and want to thank the developers who kindly offered a key to it!

Score:   Scare factor - 6.5/10,  Gameplay 7/10, Story 8/10

 

 

3. Apsulov: End of Gods header.jpg.4fb7e875440fe7fa5ae49bc3f1697bb2.jpg

Publisher: Angry Demon Studio

Release date: 8th of August 2019

Genre: Future viking horror

Price: 16.79€ Steam

 

When I first saw a trailer of Apsulov I thought it looked a little bit like Alien:Isolation, and me being a huge fan of the latter just had to check it up some more. It is described as a first person dark adventure/horror game where Norse mythology is mixed with sci-fi! At least I thought that sounded pretty cool, not that I had any idea whatsoever just how these developers planned to intertwine these concepts. 

Just like a lot of other games, especially horror focused ones, you wake up without having a slightest idea as of who you are, where you are or when you are... However, it really does sound like you are in deep need of some water and perhaps a mint! Unlike Pacify where you choose to investigate a haunted house (bad idea), in Apsulov you for some reason wake up in the middle of this nightmare and thus we cannot really blame her for having bad survival instincts by entering obviously bad places! At first it looks like the game takes place in some sort of space station, hence the Alien: Isolation vibes, but is actually some kind of underground science center. Humanity was digging deep into the ground on a quest to find Norse artifacts, but something went wrong and the result was chaos and suffering. The protagonist's personal quest is to explore this underground facility and figure out her place in all of this. But, her surroundings are very dark and in the darkness lurks less friendly entities...

There has been quite the evolution since the studio's previous titles, Unforgiving: A Northern Hymn. The graphics are fantastic, including the human models, and the gameplay is really smooth even though it introduces more complex elements versus the older game. Just like in Unforgiving, there is voice acting and I suspect they have the same voice actors for the Swedish and English language options... Partly due to the pretty obvious Swedish accent for some of the characters. One thing that I did miss in Apsulov is the choice of having one spoken language and another as subtitles. It's a very minor thing though.

What is scary in Apsulov is, mostly, the atmosphere, the plentiful amount of hostiles, and the overall darkness of the environment... There aren't that many jump scares and the ones I encountered did make me almost fly off the chair! Pretty good ones! The environment is pretty dang dark, but you do have a kind of special vision that will make navigation possible in dark places (and find hidden things!). Some cut scenes are pretty creepy and/or gory, so do keep that in mind if you decide to try this game out! I don't think this game is near as scary as Alien: Isolation, would put it on a similar level as Dead Space, but it doesn't make the experience any less enjoyable. In fact, I had a hard time putting this game down and started it right after finishing Blair Witch! There are plenty of puzzles, some more complex than others and the mythological lore is brilliantly woven into the story line. As you may have noticed there are many familiar concepts from other horror games in here, but the developers have also included their own unique twists and turns of things! Once again I feel like I could write so much about my experience of this game, but this article is not supposed to go in depth about the games mentioned and thus I have to stop! Seriously, if you're into horror games, JUST PLAY THIS!

I truly enjoyed this game, not just as a horror game but as a game in general, and am proud of what the studio has achieved! Well done and thank you for providing me with keys for your games 🙂

Score:   Scare factor - 7/10,  Gameplay 9/10, Story 8/10

 

 

2. SOMA header.jpg.ed6f982c7fa5a774ff87e89b0769c863.jpg

Publisher: Frictional Games

Release date: 22nd of September 2015

Genre: Sci-fi horror

Price: 27.99€ Steam (heavily discounted during sales)

 

On second place is my favourite horror game of all time, SOMA. I played it for the first time a few months after it's release and despite this being a couple of years ago by now and having played many horror games since, it is still my absolute favourite. Not because of the horror factor, it might be the least scary one on the list, but because of the amazing story! That's right, a horror game featuring a deep and thought provoking story! How odd! While Narcosis explores how a traumatic event can affect a human, SOMA explores what it means to actually BE human. Also, the game tackles this topic in an absolutely brilliant fashion!

The game was developed by Frictional Games, also known for their masterpieces Penumbra and Amnesia (which in a way made horror games popular again). There are some elements to the game which are very similar to their previous titles, such as monster chasing scenes and the mechanics of the hostiles. A huge difference is the focus on figuring out what has happened to you and the location you are currently on, instead of focusing on scaring the living crap of you (there are some occurrences of that too, of course, but not that many in my opinion). I sincerely wish the worst to a certain Akers.

It is still really scary, with many dark areas and terrifying sound effects! The areas you discover are also vastly different from those of Amnesia, parts are inside of a science center (ish?) and parts are taking place in the deep sea, while  in Amnesia you are stuck in a big mansion. I have to mention that I found the sea levels absolutely gorgeous while playing, really beautifully done! While playing Narcosis and Subnautica I did get flashbacks to the sea parts of SOMA, which makes me think that these games took some inspiration from SOMA for their own sea levels. Might be wrong though! Still, fantastically done. The soundtrack to SOMA is also absolutely amazing and have been adding my favourite tracks to my "work mode" Spotify-list, game music is fantastic in the background while coding.

As previously mentioned, I do think that the story is what makes SOMA unique and where it's absolutely brilliant. The journey that the protagonist makes, the characters he encounters (and the fates of various people in the world) and the difficult choices he has to make are all so fantastically well done that it left me slightly traumatized. But, just slightly. It's amazing how real the characters feel, partly due to excellent voice acting and how affected I got by the events. In order to progress in the game you have to solve puzzles and use stealth to avoid threats, in classical Frictional Games manners, but you also have to make choices that will affect those you've encountered. Some of these choices left a very bitter taste in my mouth and some might have also produced a tear or two. It is a very heavy game and as such might night be suitable for all, it is also a pretty scary game even though it's not on the same level as Outlast or Amnesia. Nevertheless, it was a fantastic experience to get through and might pick up again in the future! 

Ps. I really want something new from the studio! It's been 4 years, please give us some new horror game Frictional!

Score:   Scare factor - 6/10,  Gameplay 9/10, Story 10/10

 

 

1. Visage (Early Access) header.jpg.1034ee1567341731b7252d1640053f03.jpg

Publisher: SadSquare Studio

Release date: 2nd of October 2018 (first EA chapter)

Genre: Psychological horror

Price: 20.99€ Visage on Steam

 

On the first place is what I personally think is a spiritual successor of the infamous PT and despite it being still in early access, with just two chapters released, it is one of the scariest gaming experiences you can get! Oh boy, how I screamed while playing this masterpiece! Thus, make sure you bring extra pants if you decide to give this game a try and remember that it is not for the faint-hearted. Also, keep in mind that it is still in early access and you might detect a few pesky bugs along the ride!

Visage is a PT-inspired horror game taking place in a very old, seemingly haunted, house. Many families have lived here in the past and while many families lived there in peace,  some faced a horrible fate. You are Dwayne (a little unclear so might be false) and for some unknown reason you decide to live in this, ill-rumored, house. Maybe Dwayne is there to investigate paranormal activities? Maybe he got a secret death wish? Who knows?! At least I would never even set a foot inside a house like this, because I very much enjoy living. Dwayne will quickly discover that there is definitely something, or someone, haunting the house and some of the inhabitants of the past will pay him a visit...

In some ways, Visage reminds me of another PT-inspired indie game  - Layers of Fear. Just like Layers of Fear,  it features a super realistic looking house that will sometimes change appearance as the stories progress. There will be some jump scare scripted scenes, but they are few and far in between. It's a bit more focused on puzzle solving compared to Layers of Fear and we are not investigating the fate of just one family, but several, and they are split up in chapters that you unlock in different ways. The chapters themselves differentiate quite a bit from each other as well. For example, Lucy's chapter is following a rather linear path, classic horror game style, while Dolores's is less so and much more focused on puzzles. 

What is unique with Visage is the random events that will occur throughout the game, they can be things such as suddenly switching off the lights or a little peek-a-bo of a previous inhabitant... During one play through you will not experience all of these events and thus every play through will be a bit unique. This in combination with the fantastically eerie  music and sound effects, the realism of the environment and the super creepy stories are what really made utterly terrified as I was playing through the 2 released chapters. I can't even described in words just how scary I found this! If you're looking for a game that might scare you beyond imagination, then this game is certainly for you! 

Score:   Scare factor - 9.5/10,  Gameplay 7/10, Story 7/10

 

 

HappyFeet_1402

Greetings! Welcome to Indie Forged, the community page to run alongside our gaming articles and reviews based around showing off everything Indie!

We're a small group of individuals from the gaming community Forge (you can find them on Ember, Twitter & Discord) but that all share one passion in common - our love of Indie games! We've all sunk countless hours of our lives losing ourselves in these games, lovingly created by talented individuals or very small teams, and all of us agree that these games don't always get the exposure or success that they rightly deserve, and so this is where Indie Forged steps in.

Our aim within this community, through our reviews, and on the Steam Curator page is to find and bring Indie Games to the attention of other gamers in the hope that we can help with getting those games the recognition the deserve. We're all in this purely for our love and respect of indie developers, and so here we are;

Bravster:

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Greetings I'm Steve to some and Bravster to many others.

Hailing from the the Southern depths of England somewhere between disappointment and disappointment by the sea (London and Brighton). I work two jobs - One as I.T Support for an outsourcing firm : yes I've turned it off and on again so many times the switch is now a nub. The other as a Voice Actor for animation, games, corporate businesses, audiobooks and everything else around and inbetween : get me talking about it and we'll be here all day.

I've had a love of games from a young age preferring something with a challenge or a story I can really sink my teeth into enjoying large AAA titles such as the Witcher, Alien Isolation and the Final Fantasy series. A few favourite indie titles of mine are : Binding of Isaac, Rimworld, Don't Starve, Subnautica, Kerbal Space Program, Limbo and of course Divinity Original Sin 2. Playing a mixed bag of FPS, Horror, Rogue-Lites and Strategy.

HappyFeet:

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Hey, I'm HappyFeet, based in the UK and essentially I've been gaming for so long I can't really remember where it all began! 

In the past I've dabbled with various different types of content creation (let's be honest, who hasn't given Twitch or YouTube a bash these days!) before I realised that I just love gaming, and particularly Indie games. Craft, Fight, Survive is a mantra that seems to cover my gaming tastes pretty well, and if a game involves one of those aspects then it's generally good enough for me!

Favourite Indie games?? Here goes; Ark, 7 Days to Die, Rimworld, Factorio, Subnautica... I could keep going but the idea was to only pick a few!

Kyathil:

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Kyathil originates from the deep forest of Sweden, maybe this is the reason why she takes a special liking into the dark and mysterious and in beautiful nature? She joined Forge even before the True Forging really had happened.

The stunning game Ori and the Blind Forest is what truly awoke her slumbering indie heart and she began adding more and more indie titles on her corner of the internet, her Twitch channel. For a longer period she even arranged monthly indie days where she would try out a few titles and share her love for indie games with her community.

Now she wishes to put her passion for indie games to writing, hoping that she can reach a larger audience through words. Albeit her heart beats the most for indie platformers, such as Ori or Hollow Knight, and horror games, such as Visage and SOMA, there is not a genre she would not be open to give a try!

RaginRamen:

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Keeper of the Soup Dojo, RaginRamen, has been a passionate disciple of IndieGames for many years. Having started as a 3D Artist in the modding community, he has fought in the trenches of late nights working on what he loves. Now he seeks to turn his gaze on marketing and promoting Indie Developers' great works. Starting with written articles, reviews, Youtube videos, and streaming; to eventually move onto reporting at conferences, interviews and helping in campaigns.

Narrative games are top of my list. Anything with story, even a puzzle game that's got a cool story, I will be down to play... Favorite indie games though... off the top of my head, Little Nightmares, Firewatch, Oxenfree and Divinity Original Sin!

We'd love to see you join the community here on Ember, whether you're a gamer or an Indie Dev, as well as following the Indie Forged 'writers block' to get notifications when we get an article up.

Brav, Happy, Ky & Ramen!

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