Author Archives: scousegamer88

Luigi’s Mansion 2 (3DS)

Developer(s) – Next Level Games & Nintendo SPD

Publisher(s) – Nintendo

Director – Bryce Holliday

Producer – Shigeru Miyamoto

PEGI – 7

Released in 2013 to worldwide critical acclaim, Luigi’s Mansion 2, or Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon as it’s known in the US, is the sequel to the much-loved GameCube launch title, Luigi’s Mansion. It takes the formula of the original game and expands upon it, as well as introducing gameplay elements that were ultimately cut from its predecessor. My verdict is that whilst I didn’t enjoy this game as much as I did the first, it’s still a particularly good game in it’s own right for a variety of different reasons.

Graphics – 7/10

On a technological level, the second game is about on par with the first, but what makes this game different from it’s predecessor is that the player is not just confined to one place to explore, but rather there is a much wider variety of locations in and around the mansion to explore in addition, such as a museum, a mining area and a botanical garden; all with their own unique look further adding to the lore of the series. The biggest problem I had with this game’s visuals in comparison to the first is that there is much less effective use of lighting to create the same kind of atmosphere that the first game had; mainly due to the fact that there is more light shone in each area even before ghosts are subdued. As a result, it doesn’t have the same sense of wonderful foreboding that the original game had. The soundtrack to this game is also much less imposing too, which to me further bogged down the experience.

Gameplay – 8.5/10

Luigi’s Mansion 2 provides players with a very different experience to the first game, structured as individual stages within each area of the map as opposed to letting the player come and go around the individual areas as they please. This is to encourage replay value, as previous stages require newly acquired items to explore in full. There are also much more side quests, with collectibles rife throughout, along with further incentive to collect coins, as this is now done to upgrade Luigi’s equipment, giving the game a small RPG feel to it. There is also the addition of boss fights located in each area of the game; boss fights being a element that Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto wanted to put particular emphasis on. The further scope provided for backtracking throughout the game was a good idea on Nintendo’s part; it made the overall experience far more interesting than what I thought it would be going into it. Although I miss being able to explore the given areas at will like in the first game, the new structure of gameplay nevertheless made this game an extremely enjoyable experience, and it made me glad that Nintendo decided to expand on the series further. The boss fights are just as creative as they were in the first game, if not more so, as some require more varied strategies to defeat.

Controls – 10/10

With the second game, there also came the refinement of the control scheme. In my reviews of the original Luigi’s Mansion, I mentioned that it could take some time to adjust to the control scheme, as there was simultaneous action required to direct Luigi whilst capturing ghost with both the C-stick and main control stick on the GameCube. But the second game doesn’t have these issues, with players having a choice between using the 3DS’s gyroscopic controls or using the X or B buttons to look up or down respectively. This play style makes it much easier to capture ghosts more easily than it was in the first game.

Lifespan – 8/10

The second game can also be made to last considerably longer than the first. To complete this game to 100%, players must invest at least 16 hours into it, as opposed to the mere 6 hours it can take to complete the last game. Since the original Luigi’s Mansion was an unjustifiably short game, the lifespan certainly needed to be extended on, and with the sequel, Nintendo have not failed to deliver; not only is there a longer game to enjoy, but there’s also many more things to do within it to keep players occupied.

Storyline – 7/10

The story of Luigi’s Mansion 2 takes place some time after the events of the original Luigi’s Mansion. Professor E.Gadd has found a way to pacify ghosts using a device called the dark moon. However, trouble soon starts as King Boo shatters the dark moon causing the ghosts to once again become hostile. Gadd immediately enlists Luigi’s help to re-capture King Boo and all of the other ghosts in and around the mansion and restore the dark moon to working order. Although the series is kept fresh with a new story to again further expand upon the lore of the series, and by proxy Luigi’s part in the Super Mario series in comparison to Mario, the problem I found with it was a problem I find with many other survival horror sequels; I knew what to expect going into it. If the threat remains the same, the sense of tension or horror doesn’t. The fact that the game is less atmospheric also contributed to the marring down of this game’s story. But nonetheless, it is a solid plot line that does also contain a small comedic element to balance the scales.

Originality – 8/10

Whilst the overall concept of the series has remained relatively the same with the release of the second game, the elements within the series have been kept fresh with the introduction of new ideas and elements in most of every value that players can come to expect. It introduces new ideas in terms of gameplay, it introduces more scenery and more enemies to match and it also constitutes for a longer in-game experience; something that this series desperately needed if it were indeed to be expanded upon.

Happii

In summary, Luigi’s Mansion 2 is one of the best Nintendo-exclusive experiences on the 3DS. It delivers on everything that players can come to expect from a sequel and more. It’s not quite as good as the original game, but it’s close.

Score

48.5/60

8/10 (Very Good)

To Hell With Hell: First Impressions

Released on July 2018 on Steam Early Access, To Hell with Hell is a top-down Roguelike bullet hell game designed to challenge the sternest of players throughout a series of randomly generated demon-infested battlegrounds. To me, it sounded fantastic on paper and having seen the demo of it before it’s release, I was excited to become immersed. But after playing the Early Access version, whilst I saw potential in this title there was one aspect alone that made it test my patience above all else at this point in development.

 

Graphics

To point out one of the many more positive aspects of the game, however, the visuals are pretty impressive. Seemingly drawing inspiration from the original Doom, the game takes place in hellish environments with equally hellish creatures ready to jump out and attack players left, right and center. The soundtrack that accompanies the game is also very reminiscent of Doom, comprising of mostly heavy metal, which also works well for me as a fan of the genre. The one big gripe I have with the graphics is that the enemy’s movement animations seem less detailed compared to that of the playable characters, making the game seem somewhat rushed in this respect.

Gameplay

The game is designed to be challenging on an unprecedented level, and so it is. Playing out like a combination of Diablo and Cuphead, it relies on the player’s ability to subdue enemies, but at the same time avoiding the onslaught of enemy attacks that are inevitably returned to them. From the onset, the challenge posed to players is made clear, and it doesn’t let up from there. There is also variety in gameplay with players being able to find new and more powerful weapons and abilities as the game progresses, which as with most Roguelikes, could offer value for replayability.

Controls

However, the big issue this game has, which will very much discourage replayability, is the controls. Giving players the choice of using either a mouse or controller, the game’s control scheme works very similarly to that of Hotline Miami, using a similar targeting system for players to defeat enemies, but in this case, it’s even more questionable, The target can be brought all the way to the four corners of the screen, which regardless of mouse sensitivity settings, hamper the game to a ridiculous extent. It would work better with a targeting system identical to that of Hotline Miami, whereby the cursor is only restricted to a specific radius, or even better still, a control scheme identical to that of The Binding of Isaac, whereby the opposite analog stick is used to shoot while the other is used to move. But the way it has been handled in this game at this point in development is, be that playing with mouse or controller, is nothing short of abysmal, and it’s a crying shame if this issue isn’t addressed because the game has so much potential otherwise.

Lifespan

For those who may be able to get past how terrible the game’s control scheme is, the game can be made to last for however long the player wants. However, most players who pick this up won’t be able to at this point, and therefore will most likely struggle to get past 20 minutes. The frustration of having a control scheme that doesn’t work can deny players hours upon hours of time with this title.

Storyline

The story at this point is as unique as the visuals; if not more so. The game follows the struggles of Natasias; an agent of the ruler of Hell, who has been imprisoned and is charged with rescuing him from a usurper to his throne. Though drawing inspiration from Doom, much as it does in the way of its visuals, the potential extent of the mythology behind this game is nothing short of phenomenal and therefore may promise expansion of the series in the future.

Originality

The idea of combining work inspired by John Carmack and John Romero with a bullet hell game with bullet hell gameplay certainly sound extremely exciting, and could potentially make for a fairly unique PC experience. I can hope that as the game’s development progresses further, even more different types of environments and enemies are added to further enhance what is already promising; perhaps if different types of levels are included, they could following the theme of the seven circles of Hell similar to Dante’s Inferno.

In summary, To Hell with Hell is a promising game at this point, but the problems also need to be ironed out. As long as the control scheme is improved upon, and inputting controller commands is made easier, then it could make for something particularly entertaining.

Figment (PC)

Developer – Bedtime Digital

Publisher – Bedtime Digital

ESRB – T

Following on from their breakout indie games Chronology and Back to Bed, Bedtime Digital then released Figment; an isometric action-adventure puzzle game continuing the trope of taking place in worlds existing in the subconscious mind. After having played both Back to Bed and Figment, Figment definitely stands out as the better of which in every aspect in m opinion. For as good a game as Back to Bed was, Figment addresses what issues there were with the latter, and delivers a much better gaming experience.

Graphics – 9/10

The game’s visuals follow the same isometric layout as their previous game, but in terms of conceptual design, this game is even more varied, as it contains not just one theme, but a much greater range of themes with each world that must be traversed. In relation to it’s the atmosphere, it’s very similar to Back to Back, in  that it perpetuates a visible contrast between happiness and horror (being comparable to the contrast between dreams and nightmares), but in Figment, this theme is made a lot more apparent, with scenery and character design being used to a greater extent to portray this contrast.

Gameplay – 8.5/10

Another aspect where Figment is better compared to the developer’s previous game is in the gameplay; it’s far more varied with not only a strong emphasis on puzzle solving in order to progress but also a greater (albeit it less subtle) emphasis on combat. Players much fight their way through many enemies throughout the game in a style very similar to that of games in the Baldur’s Gate or Diablo series’. Although Figment’s puzzle element is not as innovative as that of Back to Bed, it still makes for something particularly entertaining. The combat in the game also offers an unprecedented amount of challenge that I had never come to expect going into it.

Controls – 10/10

There are no issues to be had with Figment’s control scheme. It almost plays out like a hybrid between action-adventure RPG and a point-and-click adventure game, and essentially bringing the two genres together into one experience, it makes for an interesting way the developers have blended the puzzle genre with that of a top-down adventure game.  

Lifespan – 4/10

Lasting twice as long as Back to Bed, Figment clocks in at around 8 hours for 100% completion, which whilst it is an improvement on the developer’s part, it’s still criminally short; especially for a game in this genre, which can typically be made to last far longer. It was expected to me for this to have lasted longer than Back to Bed since there is far more depth in the gameplay than the former, but like Back to Bed, it still left me wanting more.

Storyline – 7/10

The game’s story follows a creature name Dusty and his companion Piper as they set out on a quest to end the nightmares that plague the subconscious world they inhabit. On the first inspection, it may seem that there’s no more to this game’s story than there was in Back to Bed, but when delved deeper into, there is much more to it than that. The story element in this game is far stronger than the former, with characters having much more personality and the plot playing a much greater role in the game. It’s also surprisingly mature for a game that looks like what it does on the surface, with the main character Dusty frequently expositing at other characters, and not following the tropes associated with the archetypical hero.

Originality – 7/10

Aside from standing out from Back to Back, Figment also works well to stand out among many other games in general; the scenery and visual style of the game is wonderfully unique, and gameplay is varied in a way that I hadn’t thought possible when I first played the demo at EGX Rezzed 2017. It was definitely one of the standout games at that show, and the final product clearly built upon what they had showcased for the better.

Happii

Overall, Figment is not only a far better gaming experience compared to Back to Bed, but it is one of the most unique action-adventure experiences I’ve played in recent years. It’s scenery and brand of combat and puzzle-solving make for something pretty enjoyable amongst the indie development scene.

Score

45.5/60

7.5/10 (Good)

Dragon Bros (PC & Xbox One)

Developer – Space Lizard Studio

Publisher – Space Lizard Studio

PEGI – 7

Developed by Liverpool-based indie outfit Space Lizard Studio, Dragon Bros is a run and gun side scroller drawing influence from many old-school NES classics such as Contra and Blaster Master, offering new generation gamers an insight into the tropes of the generation, whilst also offering older gamer’s with an appreciation for their routes a great sense of nostalgia; also catering to players of all skill levels with varying degrees of challenge. Though I had some issues with this title, I was pretty impressed with it, as it had a lot to offer that I could appreciate in terms of nostalgia value and the future of the indie scene.

Graphics – 9/10

Rendered in wonderfully detailed 8-BIT graphics, the game’s scenery and characters are overwhelmingly diverse without becoming too repetitive over the course of the game. There are four worlds each with their own themes, and new enemies introduced to keep things fresh on a conceptual level. The game’s soundtrack is also stellar. Composed by Gabriel Caruso, it blends 8-BIT music with rock and roll, complementing the feel of the game brilliantly; in particular, I was blown away by the game’s main theme, which is used in the first two boss fights.

Gameplay – 7.5/10

There are no unnecessary complications with the game’s control scheme, which was always going to be important in a game that can demand as much as it does of players in the higher difficulty settings. Some of the mechanics involved with controlling certain weapons also add to that challenge in an unprecedented way. The laser cannon is probably the best example of which, as it causes the enemy to gradually recoil over time, so they must, therefore, be careful to make sure not to fall off any platforms as a result of not paying attention.

Lifespan – 2/10

Where I had the biggest issue with this game is how criminally short the main story is; even taking into account the mini-games as well as the main levels. In total, the game can take there around 2 to 3 hours to complete to 100%. Whilst more intrepid players will get more than that out of it replaying it on the higher difficulty settings, many other players will most likely be left wanting more. But to me, even with bearing this in mind in addition, I was still left wanting more. That’s why I think a possible sequel would work well as a Metroidvania game, with elements like leveling up, or an even bigger arsenal of weapons to choose from.

Storyline – 5/10

The game’s story is also only vaguely touched upon, being portrayed through two cutscenes; one at the start, and the other after finishing it. It follows four infant dragons looking to save their home planet from the invading Mechaliches, whilst also trying to rescue their mother from their leader. While it may be reminiscent of the old way of telling stories within games, like what was done with NES games telling the story mostly through the game’s manual (the same effect of which perhaps intended by the developers), very little of that is actually told within the game, so if players want the details of the plot, they need to read the game’s Steam page. But regardless, the story does retain a slight feel of uniqueness about it, so I can appreciate it for that to an extent.

Originality – 6/10

By far the most unique thing about Dragon Bros is its conceptual design; very few indie games have stunned me in this respect as much as this game has, and it shows the vast amount of effort the developers put into making it. It also works well for me in particular because I’ve loved dragons ever since I was a kid, but bias aside, the 8-BIT renderings is as fantastically detailed as the likes of Rogue Legacy or Titan Souls. The one gripe I have in terms of uniqueness is that it arguably follows the tropes of its influences too much and that I think even more could’ve been added to make the gameplay to make it stand out among others.

Niiutral

However, criticisms aside, Dragon Bros is quite an enjoyable game, and it comes recommended from me for any fans of old-school games out there, and players looking to experience these styles of play for the first time. It’s entertaining throughout for how long it lasts, and players looking for a challenge will certainly not be disappointed.

Score

39.5/60

6.5/10 (Above Average)

Anew: The Distant Light: First Impressions

Following on from my Q&A with Steve Copeland and Jeff Spoonhower of Resonator Games, I was recently invited to tried out a demo for their upcoming Metroidvania game Anew: The Distant Light. After my interview with the two veteran developers, who throughout their careers that worked on such games Uncharted: Golden Abyss, BioShock 2 and Borderlands 2, their Kickstarter goal was funded, and following on from numerous development updates on their social media platforms, the game even made an appearance at last year’s E3 conference in California. A much-anticipated game, I was eager to see what Resonator had been working on, and what I could expect to see from the final product. I’m happy to report that I was not disappointed. After playing the demo of this game, I have high hopes of this game being one of the greatest Metroidvania titles off all time; a potential must-have for any fan of the genre, and even any gamer.

Graphics

In terms of conceptual design, the early build of the game was just as amazing to look at as it was to play. The demo takes place on an alien planet inhabited by numerous and dangerous creatures, and the player is seemingly free to explore on land, in dark caves, and even deep underwater, with more locations to be revealed with the final build, as the developers have promised to immerse players in a vast open world. Though influenced by the Metroid series, elements of which many veteran fans of the series will be able to point out quite easily, the game’s environmental design, in particular, is extremely distinctive from anything I’ve ever seen sci-fi. It makes me wonder how much diversity there may be in level design given the demo only features one stage within the game.

Gameplay

The game follows many of the tropes made synonymous with the Metroidvania series, including combat, item collecting and the discovery of new abilities needed to gain access to new areas overtime. Aside from that, it also has vehicular mechanics with players being able to ride cars, spaceships, and even giant robots in order to get around. Though only having there around 20 or 30 minutes of gameplay to show off, I felt extremely satisfied to play this game even for that small amount of time, which again, makes me excited for how much the final product will have to offer. But aside from that, I also found it intensely challenging at times too, which likens it to many other great Metroidvania titles such as Dust: An Elysian Tail or Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. In particular, I’m looking forward to how the weapons arsenal will be expanded upon from the demo, as in this build, only two weapons are available.

Controls

Anew: The Distant Light has a control scheme extremely reminiscent of that of The Swapper, minus the puzzle mechanics. But regardless of that, this game is shaping up to be a lot more satisfying to play than the latter; even though the control scheme at this point seems to be more evolutionary than revolutionary. But for how innovative The Swapper’s puzzle mechanics were, the entire experience of that game fell disappointingly flat, which Anew: The Distant Light doesn’t seem set to do at all; indeed, one of my first thoughts playing this demo was that this is everything The Swapper should have been.

Lifespan

As per mentioned, Resonator Games is boasting a vast open world with Anew: The Distant Light, which of course, provides great scope for hours upon hours of gameplay. I’ve always personally preferred a longer lasting game, and the longer this game can be made to last, the better. Many Metroidvania games can be made to last an extraordinarily long time and having experienced this game for myself, I can’t understand why this title would be no different to games likes of Symphony of the Night or Dust.

Storyline

The basic premise of Anew: The Distant Light follows a young child on a quest to both save Earth and uncover what happened to his co-pilot in the process. But with the scope for intergalactic travel and hidden items and further mysteries to uncover, my brief descrip[tion of the story may not do the game’s story justice. If the story has taken influence from many Metroidvania classics gone by, again, there’s no reason why the game couldn’t excel in this aspect either. Though The Swapper frustratingly sacrificed gameplay for story-telling for the most part, Anew seems to be set to address that issue if the story-telling is compelling enough. There were even instances in the demo which portrayed build-ups of tension, adding substance to the story early on.

Originality

Aside from showing an unprecedented level of uniqueness in conceptual design, and potentially in it’s approach to story-telling, where this game really looks set to stand out is in the respect of gameplay. In particular, the vehicular mechanics made the demo an extremely intense experience, which I’m looking forward to indulging in on a grander scale with the final release of the game. With the introduction of new mechanics and new worlds to explore, there’s no reason to suggest why this game couldn’t stand out even more than what it already seems to do.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed playing the demo of Anew: The Distant Light, and I’m looking forward to playing the final now far more than I was when I first laid eyes on the game when it first appeared on Kickstarter. I have extremely high hopes for this game, and I have every confidence that it will not fail to deliver on what the developers have promised. If you guys would like to learn more about the game, you can follow Resonator Games via the links below:

https://anewthegame.com/

https://twitter.com/anewthegame

I hope you are looking forward to this awesome-looking Metroidvania as much as I am.

Game on,

Scouse Gamer 88

Back to Bed (PC)

Developer – Bedtime Digital

Publisher – Bedtime Digital

PEGI – 3

Released back in 2014 to relatively positive reviews, Back to Bed is a surreal isometric indie puzzle game sporting a unique approach to puzzle solving, and providing one stern challenge after another. My own opinion of the game was that although I have some issues to address, I did have a fair bit of fun with this title. It stays fresh throughout, and although it doesn’t last particularly long, what there is to enjoy can be enjoyed thoroughly.

Graphics – 8/10

The game takes place within the dreams of a man named Bob, and as players can come to expect, the design of the game’s scenery is wonderfully abnormal. Each stage of the game takes place within different times of the day and the player is surrounded by increasingly strange objects, enemies and obstacles. In terms of conceptual design, it actually reminded me a lot of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, very much like Bedtime Digital’s follow-up release Figment. Throughout, the game also creates a very interesting atmosphere not only in its scenery but also in the soundtrack too; the game can generate a sense of comedy one minute, and then a feeling of horror the next. The opening title screen, in particular, feels quite harrowing. In terms of fitting in with the premise of the game, it can feel like the contrast between dreams and nightmares.

Gameplay – 7/10

The concept of the game is to guide a sleepwalking man through each stage of the game until he reaches the bed so he can go back to sleep. This is primarily done by placing objects within each stage to make the man turn in the desired direction. The man always turns clockwise when into contact with an object or wall, so, therefore, the player must strategize accordingly. Throughout the game, new elements are added to heighten the challenge of each stage. There is even a small element of combat involved, as enemies eventually come into the frame, and the player must work to subdue them before leading the man to his bed. As the new elements are added to the game, it becomes even more enjoyable overtime to be challenged in so many ways. If asked to compare it to any other games, I’d describe it as a mash-up between Lemmings and Road Not Taken.

Controls – 10/10

Overall, the game’s control scheme is relatively simplistic, and therefore, there are no issues to be had with the controls. However, some of the additional mechanics the developers incorporated into this game also pretty impressive. For example, the player has the ability to traverse certain walls in order to reach otherwise unreachable areas or to collect objects.

Lifespan – 3/10

Disappointingly, the game can only take up to 4 hours to complete to 100%, which was a surprise to me, since given the amount of variety the game has throughout, I believe it could’ve easily been stretched to last twice as long. Though Figment would last around twice as long as Back to Bed, I thought the worst thing about this game was that it far too short-lived, and really needed to last longer.

Storyline – 6/10

The majority of the game’s narrative lies within the basic premise, which is that inside the subconscious of a man named Bob is a strange four-legged creature called Subob, who must guide a sleepwalking Bob throughout his dreams to the bed in each stage. The story is quite abstract in many respects and certain elements of which are potentially open to interpretation dependant on whichever way a player may look at it, which does give it an additional boost. Outside of gameplay, the narrative is portrayed quite well too, with seemingly hand-drawn images depicting where the story goes with each stage of the game. It’s not the strongest example of storytelling to be found within a game, but it is quite enjoyable in its own right.

Originality – 7/10

Certainly, for a puzzle game, it is also a unique title with unique elements to be found in every respect, ranging from its conceptual design to its gameplay mechanics to even its basic premise. Though I was able to do it eventually, I was relatively hard-pressed to compare it to even a few games that I have played over the years, but irrespective of that, it provides a type of gaming experience that’s not easy to come by.

Niiutral

Overall, I was relatively impressed with Back to Bed. Though I felt it should have been made to last significantly longer than what it does, it kept me challenged and entertained throughout. The gameplay never becomes weary or overly repetitive, and it’s visuals add a level of charm comparable to many other visually stunning games before it.

Score

41/60

6.5/10 (Above Average)

A Matter of Time: First Impressions

Following on from my Q&A with Haywire Studios earlier on this year, the indie developer based in Adelaide, Australia, recently released a demo of the game following the games having been successfully backed on Kickstarter. Eager to try it out, I downloaded the demo, and played what Haywire Studios have been working on since, and I wasn’t disappointed. The potential this game has was obvious enough to me after having watched the initial Kickstarter trailer, but after having played the demo, I’m even more excited for the game’s upcoming release.

Graphics

The game incorporates 8-BIT style graphics similar to classic titles of the third generation of gaming. But the game’s most appealing aspect from a visual perspective it in it’s conceptual design, with the game being set in a medieval fantasy world with elements of science fiction blended in. This was one of the most exciting aspects of development for Haywire Studios, and even in the demo, it’s obvious to see how much dedication they’ve put into the visuals. Elements of classic games such as Dragon Quest and Hydlide are prevalent, but it will be extremely interesting to see how the makers diversify things like enemy design and scenery for hen the game is released.

Gameplay

A Matter of Time is a 2D top-down RPG pioneered by developers such as Nihon Falcom with their Ys series, and then later popularised by the likes of Nintendo with The Legend of Zelda. The game is heavy on both combat and exploration, and will be set in a massive open world with entire planets to explore, which makes particularly excited for exactly what scale this game will be on in terms of long-lasting gameplay. The developers have also teased unique combat abilities with the release of the final game, making use of an in-game item called the Paradox Cape. In my Q&A with Haywire Studios, the developer revealed that the Paradox Cape will introduce elements of stealth combat among other things. What other things are is anyone’s guess at this point but it will be intriguing to see what other abilities will come with the Paradox Cape.

Controls

The controls featured in the demo are quite preliminary compared to what the final game will inevitably offer, using basic keyboard commands for movement and standard combat features. But with the vast amount of combat mechanics and exploration potential the developers are boasting, even at this early stage of development, there will definitely be scope for expansion either on a keyboard, or for when the game will provide controller support.

Lifespan

With entire planets to explore within the game, it has the potential to easily outlast many classics within its genre, lasting hours upon hours. Provided the developers include enough to do within the game, which from how development was going the last time I spoke to Haywire seems extremely likely, then the game could very possibly capable of matching, or even exceeding the quality of many classic top-down RPGs.

Storyline

The game follows the exploits of a man named James armed with his Paradox Cape. Short of that, further plot points are detailed throughout the demo, and I won’t say anything else in case readers may want to try the demo for themselves. But the potential for story is quite monumental in this game; as well as it being extremely ambitious too. If time travel is implemented into the story as well as in the gameplay, my main concern is that Haywire may find this one of the more challenging aspects of development. Perhaps this is another way the Paradox Cape, as the name suggests, is used throughout the game, as it may be used to either explain or implement more complicated aspects of the game’s story. As speculative as it may be, it is also very exciting to contemplate.

Originality

The game has a great deal of scope for expansion on top of what the demo showcases, which in and of itself, is what could possible make this game stand among many other titles within it’s genre, as well as other games in general. It’s visual design and use of unique weapons already make it a potentially drastically different gaming experience compared to many others, but with what Haywire told me in our initial Q&A, it’s extremely thrilling to think of what else will included; even compared to many other recently released games like it that Haywire will inevitably have to compete with, such as Moonlighter and The Binding of Isaac.

Overall, I was extremely impressed with the demo of A Matter of Time, and I would highly recommend any RPG fan reading this to try out the demo for themselves by following this link:

https://camcog.itch.io/a-matter-of-time-demo

I am looking forward to playing the final result now more then ever and I again want to take this opportunity to thank Haywire Studios for our Q&A, and sharing what they had to say about this potentially evolutionary title.

Game on,

Scouse Gamer 88

Q&A With Moebius Games

Searching once again for up and coming indie games, I recently came across a procedurally generated sci-fi survival game named Exotic Matter. Developed by Moebuis games operating out of Munich, Germany, Exotic Matter, inspired by numerous works of science fiction and exploration games, similar to Minecraft has players needing to craft, build and solve puzzles in order to survive within the vast in-game world that surrounds them, whilst at the same also offering players a very story-driven experience in addition. Curious to learn more, I approached the game’s designer Florian Frankenberger to ask a few questions about the game, which was last week released on Steam Early access, and these were the answers:

    

What were the influences behind your game?

I always loved voxel games but most of them sadly get boring after playing them for some time. But why is that? Mainly because most of those games are sandboxes – they allow you to do all sorts of cool things but what they lack is a mission, something to accomplish. Sure you can level up all your gear and build fortresses but there is no set goal. So I thought one day that I should create my own game that actually gives the player a mission. And with that came the idea to go the Metroidvania approach as that some regions are accessible only after you have a certain gear, which gives the game a story but doesn’t force it upon the player.

What has the developmental process been like?

Hard I’d say, but also a lot of fun. I mean when I started I hadn’t developed a single game for some time. And the games that I created when I was younger were all 2D. So I had to learn all the fancy OpenGL stuff, matrix calculus, quaternions, shaders. And because I wanted not only to create a game but rather an engine for voxel games it took even longer to bring it to a releasable state.

 

What has been the most exciting aspect of development?

I think game development in general is quite exiting. If you compare it to what I did before: writing boring software that ran on servers, it is just so much more rewarding if you hit “run” and you could instantly see the changes you just made.

What has been the most challenging aspect of development?                          

The most challenging has been to actually create the modding interface for the engine. The problem is that everything I wanna do in the game also needs to be available for modders later on, so that the game itself actually is a mod for the engine. For example if I wanted to have a new block type that would do something when the player gets close to it, I would have to create a new block trait that would also then be usable in all current blocks types and all blocks types that modders might add later on. You see there is a lot of things you need to consider and to think about when adding something like that. That sometimes makes adding new things more complex than you’d think but it will help later on when you combine different traits to form completely new types of blocks without ever changing the engine again.

 

What’s next for Moebius Games?

Although I already have a few ideas in my head for new games, the most important thing now is to add more content to Exotic Matter and to remove all the bugs that most likely are still in there. I’m really looking forward to see what the game will become and also to see what worlds people will create once we open up the modding via Steam Workshop in one of the updates that will come in the next few months.

 

What sci-fi books, films or games were most influential in the development of Exotic Matter?

One of my all-time favourite books was a big inspiration for Exotic Matter: Stanislaw Lem’s Solaris. Even though the story of our game is not anywhere close to the book, the visuals are heavily inspired by it. For example, the purple colour as one of the key colours for the game comes from the fact that in Solaris the planet has two suns, one red and one blue, which tints the planet in violet light.

 

How well has the game been received so far?

I’d say although there are still some issues in the game, most people that played it so far really liked it. But some argue that getting into the game is not as easy as it should be and we’re currently working on ways to help that by showing more hints and making sure players are not able to loose important items.

How excited were you to have David Levy on board to compose the game’s soundtrack, and what was the primary aspect that his music added to the game?

It is a great honour to have someone like David on the team. When I first discovered the work he had done before, I was stunned. I knew that this is the kind of music I wanted to have for Exotic Matter. And I think the music he created for the game just so perfectly fits the mysteriousness of the planet you are stranded on, and the excitement of exploring it.

Do you have any advice for aspiring developers that may be reading this?

Hmm … if there is one thing I’ve learned then it is that while writing your own engine is really a lot of fun, today it’s more important to have portability. So if I were to start all over again with Exotic Matter I’d use one of the big engines like Unity or Unreal Engine so that bringing the game to consoles is a much easier task.

 

Where about on the Internet can people find you?

People can find us on https://exoticmatter.io or on Steam, just search for Exotic Matter 🙂

 

Do you have anything else to add?

I just wanna thank you for giving me the opportunity to give people this small insight into our game 🙂

I would also like to thank Florian for answering my questions about Exotic Matter, and wish him and Moebius best of luck with this extremely promising title. Anyone who may want to download Exotic matter on Early Access can check it out via the link below:

https://store.steampowered.com/app/459760/Exotic_Matter/

I will also be posting a review of the game very soon.

 

Game on,

Scouse Gamer 88

World to the West (PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One & Switch)

Developer(s) – Rain Games

PEGI – 7

Developed by Rain as an extension of the mythos of their breakout Metroidvania game Teslagrad, World to the West offers a completely different gaming experience to the former with a 3D top-down adventure game rather than a 2D Metroidvania. Having played this follow-up game and weighed it up against Teslagrad, this game comes out in front of it’s predecessor in terms of quality, as it exceeds it in almost every aspect.

Graphics – 9/10

First of all, the visuals are just as impressive as they were in the previous game in terms of both a conceptual and technical level. The conceptual design of the in-game world is a lot more diverse than in Teslagrad since it takes place in a much more vast landscape as opposed to being confined to one single area. It also does well to keep the same cartoon-like style that the first game had with it’s character and enemy design, along with both the design of the map and selected scenery within the game as well. That the developers made the transition from 2D to 3D, identical to the transition between the fourth and fifth generation of gaming in general, it made sense for them to have used cel-shaded 3D visuals to coincide with the visual ideas perpetuated within Teslagrad.

Gameplay – 8.5/10

Gameplay is also much more varied than it is in the first game, with there being a much more heightened sense of both exploration, combat and puzzle solving. The players controls four main characters, which all must be used to explore the in-game world and gain access to new areas in order to progress throughout. Each character has their own unique abilities and combat moves that the player can utilize to suit whatever situation they may find themselves in. Whilst it is much more diverse than Teslagrad, the main gripe I had about the gameplay is that it has only one side quest just like it’s predecessor, which is in fact the exact same side quest as in it’s predecessor, and completing part of it is also necessary to progress with a certain section of the main story, which was disappointing considering the size of the open world, and how it compares to the first game. Regardless, however, it’s still a particularly fun game to play, and what time is sent on completing the main story can be thoroughly enjoyed. And like in Teslagrad, there are some particularly impressive boss fights too.

Controls – 9.5/10

The only problem I had with the game’s controls were that at times, they seemed a little unresponsive, which proved annoying; especially in pivotal moments like boss fights. Otherwise, it’s quite impressive how the developers were able to implement so many different types of controls for the four different playable characters from Teri’s ability to possess animals to Knaus’s ability to dig underground to get around certain areas.

Lifespan – 7/10

Overall, the game can be made to last around 15 to 20 hours, which is a massive improvement compared to Teslagrad, which could only be made to last there around 5 hours. Though there is only one side quest in World to the West, it takes much longer to complete, as there is much more back story to cover than what there was in the first game.

Storyline – 7/10

The game’s story takes place in the same universe, but in a land far away from the city of Elektropia from Teslagrad. It follows the exploit of a teslamancer named Lumina, a bodybuilder names Clonington, and miner named Knaus and a bounty hunter named Teri, and how their story all come together for them to realize their end goal; to bring down a ruthless entrepreneur named Tychoon who is planning to use an ancient machine capable of manipulating the weather for his own financial gain. Unlike Teslagrad, there is most definitely a greater emphasis on the story going forward than there is of back-story, which is what the first game was primarily based on. And although I prefer the story in Teslagrad fractionally more than in this game, as it told the story in a much subtle, thematic and interpretive way, I like the story in World to the West for different reasons; that it tries much harder than Teslagrad to connect the players with the characters.

Originality –7/10

Although this game has its obvious influences (games in The Legend of Zelda series definitely came to my mind as I was playing this), it presents a gaming experience that is considerably different to the former, as in a way, its arguably more variable than the likes of Tri Force Heroes or Four Swords. Out of both of the gameplay formulas that have been tried and tested by Rain Games, I would much rather see them build upon this as opposed to the Metroidvania style of play in Teslagrad, as I think doing this has more potential and scope for expansion.

Happii

Overall, I enjoyed World to the West quite a lot. It’s a deliberately paced, varied and entertaining game with plenty of story going forward and back-story for players to sink their teeth in for a much more reasonable amount of time than Teslagrad. It’s better than their former game in every respect, and I can’t recommend it enough.

Score

48/60

8/10 (Very Good)

Omensight (PC & PlayStation 4)

Developer(s) – Spearhead Games

PEGI – 12

Developed by Spearhead Games, the same team behind the critically acclaimed indie title Stories: Path of Destinies, Omensight is a hack and slash adventure murder mystery game, which plays out unlike many other games of it’s kind, heavily relying on a combination of both combat to progress through hordes of enemies at a time, and lateral thinking to determine how best to proceed throughout the course of the story, and to figure what paths to take as events unfold. Though not without its flaws, I can safely say this is one of the best murder mystery games I’ve ever played, easily outclassing the likes of LA Noire and Heavy Rain, as the gameplay is a lot more engaging than either of the former titles.

Graphics – 7/10

Inspired by numerous comic strips and Japanese manga series’, the conceptual design reminded me a lot of the game Dust: An Elysian Tail; a universe populated by anthropomorphic animals with cartoon-style visuals. But in this case, in-game graphics are cel-shaded, which contribute to the game’s vibrancy in colour and variety in environmental design, as well as character design. Architectural and structural features are also varied in that they are designed by the different races of people throughout the game’s world, which adds even more to the game’s diversity in visual design.

Gameplay – 7/10

The game plays out very much like a combination of God of War, Majora’s Mask and Heavy Rain, with players having to fight their way through hordes of enemies, whilst all the while attempting to gather clues from characters to solve an intricate murder mystery by constantly reliving the last day before the world’s apocalypse through the perspectives of four different characters in order to influence their actions and gather information on each of them in order to piece together the events of what happened.

With so many different paths to go down through the perspectives of each of the four different characters, and having a lot of combat to deal with along the way, I really enjoyed this game. It’s a nice blend of action and drama, which come together to bring gamers something pretty exceptional; especially for an independently developed effort.

Controls – 9/10

The game’s controls are almost perfect, bar the fact that even when special abilities were fully charged, the game would sometimes take unusually long to respond to commands that I would try to register, and to execute the special abilities such as slowing time or dashing. Otherwise, the game’s controls and movement mechanics during battle sequences are completely fluent. The game itself also provides a stern challenge, and in games like this, acceptable controls are a must, and the controls are more than good enough in this respect.

Lifespan – 7/10

Dependent on the actions the player chooses to take, the game can take there are around 8 to 12 hours to complete, which for a game that has multiple paths, but is essentially non-linear, is fairly impressive; especially for a murder mystery game. It’s another reason to me why it is far better than Heavy Rain, since regardless of the different paths that can be taken in Heavy Rain, that game can only be made to last there around 6 hours with each playthrough. So for Spearhead Games to have made a longer lasting game on a lower budget is really quite remarkable.

Storyline – 7/10

The game’s story follows an entity known as The Harbinger, who has been called upon after the final day of the war-torn world of Urralia to save it from the different battling factions, as well as solving the mystery of the murder of the priestess Vera, and therefore also saving the land from the impending doom being brought upon by an omnipotent beast named Voden. The game’s plot in and of itself is extremely well written, with each aspect of the characters stories in conjunction with the mystery at hand all falling into place like perfectly lines up dominoes. Each of the four sub-characters have heaps of back-story, and they all play their own important part in the grander scheme of things.

The only thing that stops this game from getting a higher rating in terms of story is the voice acting. Whilst it was easy to take the ploy seriously, I thought the voice actors involved could’ve done better. For example, the actor who plays the character of Ludomir seems to swap between a traditional English accent and a Cockney accent, and I found myself really frustrated by this given how well the story is written. Also, Patricia Summersett, who played Zelda in Breath of Wild, also has a bit part in the game playing the character if Vera, and essentially recycles the same voice she uses in the former game, which again seems to be a mix of British and North American accents, and it can be hard to take seriously. On the other hand, the voice actors who played the character of Indrik and Ratika did a pretty good job, so the voice acting isn’t completely terrible.

Originality – 8/10

Though this game may essentially be a collection of different pre-existing video game ideas, they all come together to make one of the best murder mystery games I’ve played in an extraordinarily long time. Though many murder mystery games have story before gameplay in an attempt to relay the mystique of the game better, the fact of the matter is that this game proves that the best way to do that is through the gameplay itself. The best way to convey mystery through story is with a film in my opinion, which I think the likes of Heavy Rain and Fahrenheit would’ve worked better as. But the developers hit the nail on the head with this game in it’s attempt to convey the mystery primarily through gameplay instead.

Happii

Overall, Omensight is a solid gaming experience in every aspect, and I would highly recommend any hack and slasher or murder mystery fan to try it. The action is intense and game’s story is almost masterful, with many different ways to play throughout, which keeps it fresh, and will have gamers on the edges of their seats.

Score

45.5/60

7.5/10 (Good)