“Doctor required in GP’s Office!” is a phrase I heard oh too often in my youth, a term the receptionist would often throw out when doctor’s got too tired and would go off to the staff room. Theme Hospital was produced by Bullfrog Productions, all the way back in 1997. I was a young boy back then, but the game would always capture my imaginations. Indeed, we here in the UK have the NHS, but the idea of running my own American styled hospital was always a lot of fun. Fast forward to 2018 and we’ve got a new contender for the Hospital Management genre – A very specific niche indeed. It’s been over twenty years since Theme Hospital, so how does Two Point Hospital compare?
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.
Clicker games kicked off when an innoculous little game called Cookie Clicker hit the internet, to which we all had a good laugh. There were earlier clicker games, the technical genre name called incremental, but most people will cite Cookie Clicker as the first. But since then, the genre has gotten a lot more variety. One of the most popular and well-rounded clicker game is AdVenture Capitalist, which was created on the Browser Game website, Kongregate. It’s been on mobile as well as Steam for a while now, so what can this clicker game offer for us and is it actually any good?
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.
I remember saying during my review of One More Dungeon that rogue games may not work for first person shooters, then I reminded myself of the fantastic Heavy Bullets which made me backtrack on this statement a bit. I also forgot about the game which I am going to talk about today and that is Tower Of Guns. The game is available for OSX, Windows and Linux from a number of different online retailers, which can all be found on the developers’ website.
Greetings once again from sunny Valencia.
This is the last time I speak to you from here. I’ve spent the last week getting some well-earned R&R which has given me a bit of time to play a few of the games that I have been meaning to play but never get the time to (there is a lot of them).
So this week we have a look at Action Henk which is available for OSX, Windows and Linux via Humble Bundle and Steam but also available for Xbox One (£11.99) and Playstation (£11.99). I’ll be reviewing the Steam version (for OSX) but don’t expect that the game changes massively between versions.
With the fantastic tagline of “Buttslide to Victory” you should already know that this game like it could be fun. You play Henk, who is an action figure with incredibly slippery buttocks, his goal is to traverse as fast as he can cross the obstacle course that lies in front of him that looks like it could be a good home for any Hot Wheels vehicle. When you first begin to play Action Henk, developed by the fantastically named RageSquid there is no denying that the game is super simple, it has just three controls (a fourth is introduced later) which are made up of run, jump and slide but it’s the way that these three simple mechanics are woven together that really make the game what it is. It reminds me a little of Splosion Man, a game that utterly frustrated bit enthralled me on the Xbox.
It’s basically a speed running game and bronze, silver, gold and rainbow medals are awarded at the for each level depending on the amount of time that you took to reach the end. Your main strategy should consist of running on the flat bits, time your jump so that you hit the top of any sliding section then carry that momentum forward to take alternative and sometimes quicker paths to the goal. All this takes place racing against a ghost of the time that you have to beat, watching the ghosts will give you some neat little hints as to where you are slowing down but it all comes down to skill in the end. If you mess up the punishment is nominal as the restart is super fast. You can choose to restart at any time from either the last checkpoint you passed or the whole level; a nice touch to practice some of the tricker jumps. I am not a competitive person, the fact that there are several thousand people above me on the Steam leaderboard does not bother me one bit; however, I will state the obvious by saying there is some satisfaction in claiming another rung of the ladder but I have no active desire to beat people. You can also challenge your friends via the online or local multiplayer though so maybe a game we could set up a competition for at our next MeetUp. For me, it’s all about the flow. The feeling you get from getting that magical combo together that shaves off those few valuable microseconds to get you the next medal or beat your own time. As you play more other characters are opened up to you but as far as I know these are just skins with no real benefit but I could be wrong in this one.
Action Henk has truckloads of character. The graphics are lush and cartoony, it really feels like you’re a toy running around a kids bedroom; Henk and his comrades (the ones I managed to unlock) feel weighty and react as you would expect to jumps and bumps. The game is totally game controller compatible and really benefits from having one. There is subtlety in the controls too, for instance, if you press down in mid air you can reduce the height of your jump which can shave off a few microseconds. I firmly believe that id Action Henk had a slower restart time then I would not enjoy it as much as I do. For you 60 FPS junkies the game even has an FPS counter built into the options screen that you can see update in real time as you turn on/off options. Being the frugal gamer I picked it up in a recent sale on HumbleBundle but would happily pay full price for it. There are nine different stages to play, each with seven levels which include an evil but highly addictive coin collecting stage so the game has certainly enough replay value to keep you hooked for some time. When you have run out of levels you can always grab more from Steam workshop, take on the daily challenge or spend time and effort in making your own with the simple but very well made level editor. I needed something to replace the hole Splosion Man left when I gave away my Xbox and this just might be it. I’m going to need to either invest in a mechanical keyboard or always play using the controller because I think that the frustration may damage my shiny Mac keyboard.
Have you played Action Henk? Do you think it would be a fun game to play during our MeetUp? Has this review made you want to go and buy it? Let us know what you think of it via our usual channels of the comments section, Reddit, Twitter and of course Facebook
Love and paella
I have already told you what a VM (Virtual Machine) is and how to go about making one of your own. I also mentioned something called Vagrant which allows you to easily download images made by other people to hopefully speed up your development process. Well, you probably already know that technology does not really sit still for very long and so today we talk about a new Visualisation engine that has been kicking up a bit of a storm. Docker. It is still is a virtual machine but instead of one machine that provides your application, database and storage with Docker you may end up deploying several machines, one for each purpose.
- 66 levels (6 hidden)
- Sheep customisation (17 skins & 6 types of blood)
- Level editor (PC Only)
A long time ago in a galaxy not so far away there was a team of developers who went by the name of Psygnosis. Psygnosis were well known for producing very beautiful and excellent games like the classic Barbarian (1987) and Shadow Of The Beast (1989). Sometime in 1993 Psygnosis were
consumed acquired by the mighty Sony and continued to produce quality products like the fantastic futuristic racing game Wipeout. But let’s not forget one of their biggest games, selling in the region of 15 million copies over multiple platforms and that was called Lemmings. Now, like Timlah I too am a big fan of most of the work that Team 17 put out. It takes a very brave bunch of developers to take on a product that has already sold 15 million copies and especially in today’s market where the focus is leaning towards high impact graphics and open worlds, is there room for a classicly animated A to B puzzle game?
Flockers was originally released in 2014 and on first glance there really is not denying the similarity between it and Lemmings. You are put in control of a flock of fluffy sheep that are escaping their diabolical masters (the Worms). The sheep aimless walk from left to right only changing direction when the hit something they cannot overcome. You guide them to safety aiming for the exit along the way solving the various puzzles to get over/around obstacles. Points are awarded for every sheep saved, and by using less of the tools that you acquire, finally awarding you up to a total of total three stars. However very unlike Lemmings you pick up tools along the way rather than be given a set number at the start. Sheep can die in a number of ways, first and foremost is the environment which is littered with nefarious contraptions that are set to squish, impale or slice up your sheep. Another way to reduce the numbers is to let your sheep fall too far, this can be counteracted by giving the sheep a soft landing (another sheep). Of course, you can also loose sheep by destroying them yourself; yes, every now and then you will have to sacrifice the life of one of your fluffy little friends for the good of the flock.
The main method of control is the mouse, simply select the tool you want from the bar at the bottom of the screen and then click a sheep to activate that tool for that sheep. Pressing the right mouse button gives you a much wider cursor which is great when you want to make a lot of sheep do the same thing and not have to click 50 times. You also have the ability to zoom in and out of the scenes so that you can see what is up ahead and try to predict what is going to happen. Team17 have also integrated the keyboard a bit to try and help you quickly switch between one tool and another. Numbers 1-0 will select the tool sitting in that slot, letters Q and E will shift the tool that you are on left or right one. You can speed up the movement of the little sheep by pressing the left shift key which is useful for the impatient.
Looks & Sounds
Team 17 have a huge pedigree for having a great art style to their games and Flockers is no exception to this. The backgrounds are detailed and moody with great use of lighting, spikes implements are suitably covered in blood and make a quite fun squidgy noise when your innocent little sheep happen to wander onto them. Switches make a satisfying click when activated, it’s the kind of quality that you would expect from a seasoned house such as Team 17. Your little sheep are animated well, and lovable but equally fun to see them burst into streams of blood.
Moans & Verdict
Well, I would like to say that I had no issue with Flockers at all but that is just not the case. There is a bug (at least on the OSX version) that crashes the game as soon as it tries to load the main menu. It turns out that it’s related to the online link and if you turn off your network so that the game cannot connect to the internet then it’s fine. This small bug nearly ruined the game entirely for me, I hate it when I try to load any game and it just crashes. I would expect it on a game that is older perhaps but not 2014. This then also means that I cannot take advantage of user generated levels because as soon as I switch on the internet it crashes. Another annoyance is the fact that the level editor is only available for Windows. Yeah, I get it I own a Mac I am not allowed to have nice things.
If you put those things aside then you have a perfectly good game. Is it just Lemmings? Well yes and no, there is certainly enough in Flockers for them to of made it their own. It looks, sounds and feels professional which is something you would expect from Team 17 and definitely worth investing in; £14.99 for it feels a bit cheeky though. I picked it up in a recent sale for £1.49 but probably would pay up to £10 for it. It has enough puzzle pieces there to keep you occupied for a few hours the difficulty curve is well balanced. Like any game of this type, there is a degree of frustration but that is half the reason to play; if only to yell at the screen when you complete a level a true sign of enjoyment.
You play Daniel, general geek and nerd who while playing a DnD game with his friends goes to the loo and somehow finds himself in an alternate universe actually taking part in a real RPG. His body is possessed by a shadow demon who is unable to take control of Daniel and becomes trapped inside his body.
I picked up UnEpic during a sale for $1.99 USD (who buys things full price anyway) as I was curious as to what it was like. When you start the game you get to choose what sort of experience you would like, either with or without swear words. Now I’m not against swearing in games, but I appreciate the option to not have them. I decided to opt for it for my play through, but actually I quickly regretted it. Not because the swear words offended me, but they feel forced and felt as if they merely were implemented to add to the “humour”. I use the word humour in quotations for a very specific reason; I am sure that the dialogue between Daniel and his new shadow co-traveller is funny, if your 14 years old, but for me they really added nothing to the game at all. I’m not against toilet humour (and there seems to be a lot of it here), but toilet humour only works given the right circumstance. Conkers Bad Fur Day is a game that was full of toilet humour but also quite enjoyable at the same time.
The game itself is a cross between an RPG and a jump and run, where Daniel runs through the castle that he has found himself in. Your main goal is to survive each room killing any enemies, surviving traps and lighting torches in order to fulfil the various quests that you find along the way. Whilst doing so you gain experience points for killing enemies and lighting all the torches in the room. In some rooms, you will find chests with loot in and even some side quests that can distract you along the way. With every major level, you gain six points that can help you customise what specialities Daniel has. Putting some points into a ranged attack is generally a good idea, as I found that later on there are some enemies you can only reach with spells or arrows. There is no point here in being a full on tank and the rogue backstabbing ability is a welcome addition but did not really change your play style that much. To enable you to move around the castle a bit faster you can open up shortcut gateways that take you to a central room. These are really useful for getting to and from a save point which to begin with there is only one until you solve some of the quests to open up more. The game does autosave, but there is no indication of when you pass one of these checkpoints which I found quite irritating.
Once you open up a bit more of the map you get a boss battle, which was fun, but is too few and far between from my experience. You spend a lot more time running around the castle trying to find the relevant items needed to complete the next mini-quest so that you can get on with the main quest. If you’re going to play UnEpic I have one major piece of advice for you, make good use of the note making function on the map, there were a few times where I had finished one of the quests but I could not remember for the life of me where I got it from, so spent the next hour or so re-visiting most of the rooms I had gone to in order to find where I cash it in. The game does allow you to keep track of what is left to find in the quest and whilst I don’t expect it to tell me where to get the pieces to the puzzle, I did expect it to guide me back to the quest source. UnEpic does have multiplayer capabilities all hooked up through Steam, which I have not been able to test out.I had a conversation with Timlah to see if he thought it might be a fun to do a video series of it. He had tried it before and thought it to be “dull” which I was disappointed to hear but something in me still wants to test it out a little.
Visually the game looks okay being sprite based is good for this sort of game but it does nothing really special or endearing to make it stand out. The audio is quite nice, footsteps have a hearty echo at first but could do with changing based upon the environment. This is going to be one of those games I have got so far and I find myself having no real desire to go any further. I’m sure there is more hilarity to be had between Daniel and his companion but it would help if I found any of it actually funny. If I had finished it then I would certainly not bother with a second play through. So I’m afraid it will most likely sit on my Steam shelf gathering dust. It was certainly worth what I paid for it in the sale and I would happily pay a bit more but not much more.
Let us know if you have played UnEpic and what you thought of it. Did you manage to play the multiplayer? Do you think Timlah is right? Tell us what you think in the comments section or via Reddit, FaceBook or Twitter
In a recent bout of sales, I picked up a few games on my wishlist one of which was Punch Club. Now this is one of those games that I knew very little about when I bought it, I didn’t watch videos, read other reviews or anything. I thought the game might be some sort of boxing management simulation, something akin to an old game I used to play Barry McGuigans Boxing where you controlled a fighter moving his way up through the ranks to fight the champ. I was wrong, so very very wrong.
The game is more of a street-fighter management/strategy game where you take control of the life of a fighter in his quest to rise through the ranks to stardom and maybe get involved in some interesting side quests along the way. When you start you are shown a storyline cut scene that sets the background story with your father being brutally murdered. Then several years later you start in your house and after a telephone call, you are allowed to start to roam the city which opens up more as you play. Now I hate to criticise a game so early on but I can’t help but feel that the developers missed something by not allowing you to customise the look of your character.
Your begin to manage the day to day routine of your fighter which consists of juggling time and money between training at the gym to increase your stats, earning money (which can also increase your stats) so that you can train, sleeping and eating to revive your energy so that you can train more and fighting to increase you rank and try out new skills. When one day rolls into the next you lose a bit of your stats. This makes days that you cannot or don’t train really expensive and made the game feel like a bit of a grind. With every fight that you take part in you gain skill tree points that can be spent on learning new moves or focussing your fighter into one of the major disciplines of Bear, Tiger or Turtle. This is where Punch Club will get it’s replay value in that you can play the game through several times and change the focus points for your fighter. You could make them a powerhouse by putting a load of time and energy into weights and focussing your skill points on power or aim for a more speed oriented fighter who might focus more on kicks and their dodging ability. Whichever road you choose for your fighter you need to choose it early on because being equally balanced is not the way to go here. However given the fact that the main storyline does not seem to change between one play and another I probably would not bother with a second play though unless I am missing something.
Money plays a very serious part in the game and I think (although yet to prove it) the faster you can save up for your own gym equipment you will begin to feel the benefits in all areas. A session in the Gym costs $10 per time which means you should try to go there when you are full capacity to get the most out of it. Doing this is a lot harder than it sounds as I found myself always timing it wrong at first and my first fighter suffered from it greatly. But you don’t want a game like this just to give the answers to you straight away. The fights themselves are automatic and the only influence you have is at the end of every round where you can change your fighters tactics. Graphically the game has a polished pixelated 1980’s style. I think if it went a different way with super high resolution graphics it may even lose some of the appeal. My brain complains that there is no day/night cycle, time and days do pass but locations always seem to be the same, beautifully sunny at home while at the bar it’s perpetual night, it just feels weird. Adding a very subtle weather change or day/night cycle might have added to the immersion for me.
I really enjoy the amount of references to TV and film that there are in Punch Club. The Quick Store which never shuts is owned by a certain Apu, outside the store are two recognisable figures that look and act an awful amount like Jay & Silent Bob. Your mentor is Micky, which reminds me very much of Mickey from the Rocky series. The Pizza store is owned by Casey who is the spitting image of Stephen Segal and looks handy with a knife. Then you meet Biff, the mutant Crocodile who loves Pizza and not so subtle references to Fight Club. There are a lot of these dotted about which makes the game feel a little familiar, if you know any of the references that they point to.
While playing the game I found myself asking the question “am I having fun?” which is never a good sign. To be honest I have to say that for me it was not that fun. Maybe I just have the wrong sort of mind to care about the stats? It feels like a grind without a real purpose, the lack of interaction with the fights and the training just mean the game misses with me. At times it feels like an improved and less pay to win version of any of the free to play farming games out there which may sound cruel but that’s how I feel about it. I don’t find myself being drawn into the world but if you’re into stats based games and don’t mind a bit of a grind then I am sure you will love it.
TLDR: Graphically nice, good potential for storyline but lacks interaction and involvement.
Overall score: 5/10
Love and rockets