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Posts tagged “Indie Game

Video Game Review: TANGLEWOOD – A Nostaglically Beautiful Puzzle/Platformer

Taking a page from the past in game development, studios, consisting of developer Matt Phillips, looked to bring us a that would have fit in with our titles from the past. This SEGA Megadrive inspired titled is a puzzle platformer which I recently got ahold of. The game looks and sounds good, but how well does it play? I look past the past and into what this title holds for gamers new and old alike. Join me as we stroll through a true retro gem – In 2018.

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Review – Hidden Folks

Here’s an old idea made new, another game derived from a series of puzzle-books, but this time instead of choose-your-own-adventure games, this time it’s a hidden object game a-la Where’s Wally (that’s Waldo if you’re across the Atlantic), the classic red and white master of hiding in plain sight, the must-have test of your children’s observation skills and patience.

Hidden Folks seizes the concept and turns it into something that is both addictive and strangely adorable. Layers of interactivity, vast scenes in which to seek tiny details with dozens of similar-looking items scattered everywhere, it’s wonderfully simple, and drives you back day after day for just one more game. (more…)


Polybius – The urban legend bought to life

If you’ve read up on an arcade game called Polybius, you will find information about an arcade cabinet from 1981 that became an urban legend. It was apparently a crowdsourced psychology experiment that produced psychoactive and addictive effects. The legend also talks of men in black attending the cabinets, simply for the purpose of data-mining. The arcade cabinet is as rare as rare can be and there are rumours that only a few of the original cabinets exist; one of which is stored in Basingstoke. James Rolfe, aka The Angry Video Game Nerd, did a piece on the legend too, so it has an interesting history.

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Heat Signature – Game Review

I remember seeing the Beta of this Heat Signature and was really interested to see what it was like, once it was complete. Now that it’s out of Beta, I’ve gotten my hands on a copy of the game. So we ask the age-old question, was it worth the wait and more importantly is it worth the money?

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Serial Cleaner – Video Game Review

Cast your mind back to last year, when I reviewed a game called Party Hard that had nothing to do with the Andrew WK song of the same name. As you may remember, Party Hard is the game where you play a serial killer and are tasked with taking out as many of the partying people as you could, so you can get some sleep. Did you ever wonder who might come and clean up after you? If you set Party Hard in the seventies and toned down the violence a bit, then Serial Cleaner would be the game to compliment Party Hard.

Specifications

  • Developed by: iFun4All
  • Publisher: Curve Digital
  • Platforms: Windows, Steam, PS4, XBox One, Mac
  • Release Date: 19th June 2017
  • Rated: Steam: 71 (Very Positive) & Metacritic (PC) 68%, user score 7.5
  • RRP: £11.99

Design

The game has a very unique style and takes full advantage of being set in the 1970’s, where almost every male person in the game has a fine full moustache and sporting some Ray-Ban Aviator shades. Your main character, a Mr Bob Leaner, lives with his mother and makes his living by cleaning up crime scenes. In between missions, there are storyline moments that relate to history. I really like the design line the developers have taken, everything feels right at home.

The colours are really something to behold, the art style is similar to papercraft, almost cell shaded in a way. I’ve not seen that many games that follow a similar art style and for that, I give the game a lot of credit. The design of the levels themselves had a lot of love poured into them. They start fairly simple, giving you a nice introduction to the controls and concept without holding your hand at every turn, as well as having a nice challenge curve.

There are several obvious design decisions made during development and they all feel like they add to the gameplay. Players are punished for taking risks and being caught, given that there are no halfway checkpoints being caught means everything resets. Yes, this causes many moments where you may find your patience being tested and it’s probably because you just were not good enough on that occasion. The great thing about getting caught is that restarting the level is instantaneous. Having a significant reload time for a game like this might be the tipping point that makes me stop playing. Being made to wait several seconds or minutes to have another go of the same level is not acceptable in a game like this, so I am glad they made it instantaneous.

Gameplay

You control Bob, using the cursor keys to guide him. Your task for each mission is to not get caught trying to mess with the scene of a crime. You do this by using your “Cleaner sense”, which gives you the ability to see the whole map, where all the hiding spots, bodies and bits of evidence are. The second tool in your bag of tricks is the ability to hide in things and activate various bits of scenery to help lose/confuse/distract the cops from finding you before you complete your mission.

When you get to a body you pick it up and then hot foot it to the nearest body drop point, which could be your reliable Station Wagon or maybe even feeding it to a Crocodile. Finally, you have a vacuum to suck up some of the blood, which is a requirement on some of the levels. The levels are really well designed; police seem to always be in the same spot while the bodies and evidence seem to rotate around a bunch of predesignated spots with every try. If a police officer spots you then you need to find the nearest hiding spot and wait for them to give up looking for you, before you continue with the job in hand.

Verdict

If you are looking to 100% complete this game, it’s going to take you a while. There are costumes to be found so you can put Bob Leaner in a Saturday Night fever style suit, or stockings and suspenders to name a few. There are also a lot of challenges for each level so you can replay them to make them more difficult. The game also includes 10 film specific scenarios to work your way through as extra content, so there is plenty to keep you occupied. For a little over £5 more than the RRP, you can optionally grab the music as DLC. I must say that it encompasses the era the game is set in perfectly, with some big hair, shoulder-pad style schlock rock, to funk and disco.

I have a few criticisms.

Even though I think the art style is nice, it is at points difficult to understand where you can and cannot run. I got caught more than once by thinking that I could escape the cops through a certain route and come to a dead end. I also think that you could add a hell of a lot of replay value if there was a level designer. You could happily hook it up to Steam Workshop to share levels between your friends, or the public. There have been a few times where I have managed to glitch through the scenery and actually appear on the other side of an external wall with no other choice but to restart, but in fairness, there have been few and far between.

A lot of other reviewers have picked up on the fact that there is no multi-player but I don’t think that a multi-player version of the game would work. I like the game as is, I’ve not managed to finish it as yet but I have seen enough to be able to say it’s a game I have enjoyed being frustrated by and having that feeling of elation when you get a level right and manage to move onto the next one. It’s certainly worth the money in my opinion.

Have you played Serial Cleaner? What do you think of this wave of games that implement very simple rules with a definitive art style like Hotline Miami, Enter the Gungeon etc? Give us your feedback via the comments section or over on Facebook, Reddit or Twitter


Enter the Gungeon – Review

Most people might think that Enter The Gungeon looks like it offers nothing new with its obvious heavy influence from games like The Binding Of Isaac and Nuclear Throne. However, it’s been on my wish list for some time and a few weeks ago it was in a sale and I could no longer resist the temptation to buy it.

Details & Purchase options

  • Enter the Gungeon (PC, Mac, Linux and PlayStation 4)
  • Developer: Dodge Roll
  • Publisher: Devolver Digital
  • Released: April 5, 2016
  • Cost:

Overview

Enter the Gungeon was developed by ex-members of Mythic Entertainment and the game is mostly a side on twin stick, bullet hell, roguelike shooter. That is a lot of buzzwords all stuck together and I totally understand if you are one of these people that will just roll their eyes and think “not another one”.

You play one of four playable characters each with their own unique starting ability. For instance, The Marine activates a sort of smart bomb when he is hit for the fist time, the Rogue style character (who reminds me a bit of Han Solo) gets a lockpick that can be used to unlock the loot chests. All characters have the ability to dodge roll which enables you to avoid gunfire and learning to use this skill is absolutely essential to the game because it can get a bit hectic in the Gungeon. Rooms are procedurally generated and then pieced together and populated with enemies at random. Your goal is to work your way through the Gungeon picking up and taking advantage of new weaponry and taking out the bosses to seek out a legendary gun that could erase the past.

Enter The Gungeon

Gameplay

When I first booted the game I tried to play it with a keyboard but my brain just yelled at me until I plugged in my gamepad. Yep, like most twins stick style shooters having a good gamepad is absolutely the way forward. I have not put many hours into the game as yet but it is certainly a game I can feel myself revisiting quite a bit and I get the feeling that even after I put 40 hours in I would still be finding new things from time to time. Take a look at all the content in their official Wiki to get an idea of the amount of content there is in the game. Rogue shooters are supposed to be tough and Enter The Gungeon is no exception to this rule. It offers you upgrades at the beginning (once you have unlocked them) and throughout the game if you choose to spend the time to find the shop in the level.

Money is issued to you upon defeating an enemy (in the form of cute little bullet casings) so the more enemies you kill then the more money you have to spend in the shop. You’ll need this to buy ammo for guns because I have found that ammo can be pretty rare so far. Although saying this I think that you probably need to treat the guns as almost a throwaway resource. You always have at least one gun, the starting pistol has infinite ammo but obviously does not do a lot of damage. Finding new guns and trying them out is always a rewarding experience because some of them have imagination applied to them. There is (believe it or not) a gun that actually fires other guns and you can use it in multiple ways. Hit your opponents directly with a gun and you will damage/kill them or shoot the gun so that it goes close to them and it might hit them with the bullets it ejects along its path.

Enter The Gungeon

The scenery is beautifully destructive for a sprite based game. As far as I have seen breaking open the vases give you no reward but it is strangely satisfying. The libraries are one of my favourite rooms, just because at the end of the battle it’s usually in a massive state of carnage. You also have the ability to upturn tables for temporary cover and push as well as destroy barrels which may or may not be explosive. There is also a co-op mode where you can take on the Gungeon with another player, this only works locally though so don’t think that you can hook up with your Steam buddies for this.

Verdict

The game got pretty incredible reviews across the board with Destructoid and EGM giving it a score of 9/10. Even the ever critical Metacritic has it sitting at (currently) 84%.

I think the game’ style really does something towards me liking it. The destructible environments really add to the feel, the enemies are wide and varied and each have their own shooting behaviour that you need to learn. Graphics wise it does nothing new with its pixel styling but it is done well. This game looks like it should happily sit on a Commodore 64 or Amiga, basically an old computer but it takes advantage a little of modern technology.

Enter The Gungeon Shop

Being a rogue game the difficulty is there, it has to be. I think without it this game would end up being yet another plain shooter that you learn the levels, learn the patterns and finish it in next to no time. You know what I’m like I always ask myself would I pay RRP for it? Okay I picked it up in a sale and yes in a sale it’s a bargain but it’s certainly worth £10.99. If you’re into shooters and like a touch of bullet hell with your rogue then I would advise picking this up.

Have you played Enter The Gungeon? Have you played the co-op mode? If you have please tell us how it is. You can get in touch with us at our usual locations of the comments section below and Facebook and Twitter


Cook, Serve, Delicious

It’s time to put on your chefs hat, some comfortable shoes and sharpen your skills. The hours ahead are long and hard to get ahead in the world of catering and this is beautifully simulated in Cook, Serve, Delicious. It was developed by Vertigo Gaming and originally release back in 2013, currently available for Linux, Windows and OSX via Steam (£6.99) and HumbleBundle (£7.99); there is also are versions for iPhone/iPad (£3.99) and Android via Google Play (£2.57). The sequel is in heavy development at the moment and due to be released sometime in 2017 and I think it’s due to be on all the above platforms plus the Xbox One and PS4.

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Not a Hero – Review

All hail the BunnyLord and his quest to be the mayor! Forget all other potential world leaders like Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Teresa May and Kin Jong Un for they are all pretenders. Although worse than any Brexit back-pedaller, I will deny all knowledge. I’ll claim that I was used for political reasons when all the bullet cases finish hitting the floor and the corridors are filled with bloody corpses. Now before you think I have gone utterly mad I’m here to tell you about an awesome little side scrolling shooter entitled “Not A Hero”. Yep, another one of those pickups during a sale that I grabbed for £1.99, but it’s available at £9.99 RRP from Steam and HumbleBundle.

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Bristol Geek News: July ’16 Edition

After the last GeekOut Bristol Meet, I was given a lot of information about different things that are underway. Some are in the planning stages, others are in full swing. Some are in development, whilst others invite you out for a drink. Join Timlah as we look at some cool upcoming things around Bristol – and what you need to know about them!

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Heavy Bullets – Review

Heavy Bullets

Heavy Bullets is not exactly a new game. Originally released in 2014, it was played by quite a few streamers at the time of launch. I remember buying it during yet another sale, after it had been sitting on my wish list for a while and I can honestly say that I still think it’s worth every penny of it’s retail price (£6.99 on Steam£7.49 on Humble Bundle).

Overview

You play a security program that has been sent in to restore order to a mainframe that has gone haywire. To do so you are equipped with a gun that only contains 6 bullets in some sort of Dirty Harry style gun. You must hold onto these six bullets as well as aim to pick up coins throughout the ten levels in order to buy some upgrades.
Welcome to Hell?

Looks

Heavy Bullets does not push the boundaries in aesthetics, but I really like the way it looks. It has a very distinct neon colour palette and is visually lucid and bright; the game nips along which is no surprise but it feels right at home at this speed. You can spot one of the bank or shop ATM’s immediately and the maps even randomly generate secrets, which I think is a pretty cool touch. I really love the way the graphics flicker whenever you get hit, along with the intentional  visual glitches when you are on your last life, making the whole thing feel more tense.Imp rush

The Game

It’s essentially a stripped down 3D-first person shooter, but there is something distinctly ominous about it. The music and general sound design certainly adds a lot to the atmosphere. In game it goes awfully quiet but as you roam around you get some very distinctive audible clues. The imps make a cute little chirping sound which you soon learn to be afraid of, as they launch themselves at you with great intensity. The game is rogue-like and so the enemies and the levels are randomised, which means that you have no idea what is around the corner. You may remember that I said that One More Dungeon really suffered from this, but for some reason it works in Heavy Bullets. There’s something about the smoothness of the game, along with the way it flows. I hate to put it down to feel but when you have played a fair few 3D shooters you begin to get a feel for which one’s work and which ones don’t.

Having a limited amount of ammo really adds to the atmosphere. I’m not sure how other people play it, but I end up paranoid reloading at every opportunity that I can. The first few enemies you meet are fairly easy, some worm like beasties that hide in the bushes which can sometimes be difficult to see, followed by some imps that run at you when they see you, which for me cause an instant amount of panic and tension. Further on you meet up with sentry guns that can only be killed if you shoot their battery. There are even flying enemies in the game. You can improve your chances of survival in further rounds by saving money in the bank, so the next time you play through you can dip into your account to help you out.

The money is generous enough, you don’t have to play 1000 games in order to afford one of the items. The shops can provide you with more health or upgrades to increase the radius of coin and bullet pickup, a discount in the shop and so on. The Steam community have put together a great little item guide so go have a look at them so you know what to buy from the ATM’s. Also a little thing I didn’t know is that you can blow up the ATM which gets you some extra cash. In theory you could do this early on to get extra cash and save up the money to make a proper attempt at the 10 levels.Pretty colours

It all comes down to the bullets though, they look and feel heavy when you fire them. When they hit something they lay on the floor and bounce their plump little form on the floor enticing you to pick them back up. Even when you reload them they make a satisfying thunk when re-entering the chamber. Upon reaching the end of a level, apart from me letting out a small joyous ‘whoop’, you’re not rewarded just yet. After all, you have a job to do here and need to get on with it. If and when you finish all 10 levels you are rewarded with $5,000 of in-game cash ready to spend to make your next attempt a lot easier, no doubt.

Verdict

I already said at the top of the review that I think Heavy Bullets is well worth the money. Its slick feel takes me back to early days of Quake which makes it pure simple 3D-shooter fun. In a recent sale I saw it on offer for a mere £2 which is a total bargain. The soundtrack is well worth the extra money although trying to use Steam to play it filled me with rage, but this is more of a problem I have with Steam rather than the game. Unlike some rogue based games, Heavy Bullet punishes you in the right places and the right way, making you, the player, determined to improve your skill and ability to defeat those damn worms. In my opinion… just buy it already!

Can you see the worm

Can you see the worm

Medibay ATM Bank ATM

Have you played Heavy Bullets? Do you also feel it’s a great example of a 3D shooter? Have you managed to finish it (I haven’t!). Give us all of your comments below or contact us in one of the many other forms of Facebook, Twitter or Reddit.