Pinstripe - Indie Game Reviews 2017 Steam Screenshot

Genre: Adventure / Platformer / Puzzle
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: Yes

Pinstripe is a game about ex-minister who takes a journey through Hell in search of his daughter. If the original plot does not intrigue you, there’s some more to it: you really don’t know why the minister is there and what’s going on, other than your daughter has been kidnapped. Encounter quite eccentric characters, solve puzzles, jump on platforms, and fight enemies. All that in order to reach the wrongdoer who took your daughter from you.

Pros

  • Amazing Graphics: the lighting, the particle effects, the backgrounds, the surrounding
  • Responsive controls: if that was a simple puzzler – that would not matter much. But in Pinstripe, you also encounter enemies apart from puzzles and will have to do some shooting. I’ve played the game with the controller and suggest you do the same.
  • The plot is not obvious at first: as you go through hell, you continue encountering some clues that build the full storyline in the end
  • Great Music and Sounds that help you feel the atmosphere of the game
  • The points mentioned above transform it into a spectacular combination of game and art. This is hands-down the most captivating title I’ve played this year. It catches your attention from the first seconds and does not release it until you are done.

Cons

  • The game is about 2, maybe 3 hours tops. After you complete it – there’s the “plus” mode, but it’s the same story, only allowing you to buy extra items to make it easier. To counter that: You’ll probably have to play one more time if you want to see all the references and understand everything better.

Summary

Despite the short length, the game turns out to be a unique work of art. For some of you, 15 EUR for 3 hour entertainment might seem too much and I can understand. But it turns out to be a rare combination of both solid gameplay mechanics and immersive storytelling: the jumps between platforms / destroying enemies feel good, but it is never overshadows the most important thing: plot. It feels like an experience to live through and the game to play at the same time. Honestly, the game has so much going in these 3 hours that it feels totally worth it in the end. It is what it is: a sequence of breathtaking experiences that does not release you until you figure out the mystery in the end.

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Feature Image taken from the Pinstripe store page, here

Has-Been Heroes - Indie Game Reviews 2017 Steam Screenshot

Genre: RPG / Strategy / Roguelike (which is actually Puzzle / Roguelike)
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: Yes

“Has-Been Heroes” is a game from studio “Frozenbyte” – famous for its Trine 1 and Trine 2 games. I’m not mentioning it just because I want to: in my perception, Frozenbyte is a studio that is not afraid to take chances and experiment with the gameplay. The same is true for Has-Been heroes. In the game you play as retired (or actually dead) heroes, trying to escort the princesses to the academy. One unfortunate event happens though: the evil awakened in the kingdom and is actively trying to disturb you. Apart from the original premise of retired heroes – the plot is pretty cliché and very secondary. The premise of the academy seems to be forgotten entirely, since every play through is about killing the final boss.

The game offers an interesting and innovative line-based battle system: when one of your heroes attack, the game freezes. You can move another hero to attacker’s spot and attack again. All monsters have armor (called stamina), which you need to destroy in order to deal any damage. The catch is: every one of your heroes attacks different amount of times. Knight – once, monk – twice, rogue – three times. To be most effective, you need to score hits on the monsters that _exactly_ match their armor, otherwise it is regenerated. That leads to the gameplay that is based on effectiveness.

Pros

  • Awesome mix of puzzle / rpg / roguelike that is fun to play. Really innovative “attack optimization” mechanics are well thought out.
  • Tons of unlocks. I’ve played for about 8 hours and I maybe unlocked 20% of items / spells and less than 25% of all heroes.
  • Pretty graphics with its own style
  • Nice sounds and music
  • Challenging difficulty and skill-based gameplay. The more you play – the more you notice how much further you can actually go

Cons

  • Tutorial is seriously lacking. How do combos work? Why some attacks end up dealing more damage than another (even if armor has been broken)? The synergy between heroes is also not shown well, so when the game starts – you will most certainly lose fast, thinking that it’s too difficult.
  • It can get repetitive: in essence, this game fighting is all there is. For me: it has been pretty cool, but if you are looking for something more than awesome gameplay mechanics (plot? Detailed game world?) – you’ll be disappointed.

Summary

The game by itself has not been getting enough attention – which I think is a shame. Partly I think because the game description positions itself as a roguelike/rpg, where in truth is more like a puzzle game with a huge roguelike influence. It’s not a game for everyone, but if you enjoy puzzle games focused on optimization – this one is for you. I loved Has-Been heroes and I can recommend it to anyone looking for a mix of puzzle/rpg games with fighting systems. It fits perfectly for those who love combat but want something more.

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Feature Image taken from the Has-Been Heroes store page, here

Echo Lake Steam Game Screenshot 2017

Genre: Puzzle/Adventure
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: with the current feature set, wait for 50%+ discount; yes if everything that’s promised has been added / or you like to help on early access, because developers are really responsive

Disclaimer #1: I got the key for free
Disclaimer #2: The game is in early access (I’m reviewing the version 1.0.3) and has lots of upcoming plans, you can read them here: http://steamcommunity.com/games/553740/announcements/detail/240217180986153974

Echo Lake is an indie game by Capsule Three studio. It’s a puzzle game that offers a meditative puzzle-solving experience. Row your boat, move from location to location and try to light up all of the stars. As a nine year old, explore the lake at night; jump into the atmosphere of wonder and calm; embrace tranquility that follows the puzzle solving

Pros:

  • Immersion: the game builds a great atmosphere: if you ever go for a summer walk during a starry night – that’s exactly the feeling that you experience when playing the game
  • Beautiful Art
  • Great soundtrack, relaxing music
  • Innovative approach to puzzles
  • As you progress, puzzles really become challenging

Cons:

  • First levels really feel to easy: new mechanics are being introduced, but often not explored enough. The „putterfish” levels (after lvl 4) is when challenge begins.
  • At the later levels, there’s so much synergy between elements that sometimes you just don’t realize how you solve the puzzle: the huge chain reaction starts (especially with dolphins) and then suddenly, the path opens.
  • Hints are useless: if you are stuck, it just gives a generic advice that might not even apply to your situation (instead of showing the next move, like it usually is in puzzles)

 

To sum it up, if you plan to buy it at full cost: wait until all features are complete (unless you have lots of feedback that you like giving). It’s a decent puzzle game, but the price is a bit steep for now. Definitely grab it at 50% discount, but otherwise: consider waiting to see if developers deliver.

Once the game has planned features implemented, I’m sure it’s going to be worth its money. But for now, if I’m honest with you, I’d feel bad if I paid 10.99 for it.

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Feature Image taken from the Echo Lake store page, here

Bearslayer Steam Game Screenshot

Genre: Platformer/Puzzle
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: Yes

Disclaimer #1: I got the key for free.
Disclaimer #2: The game is work in progress, so some things ought to change.

So Bearslayer is a one-button platformer/puzzle game based on a Latvian epic poem. You control your hero and lead him through the obstacles, described in the epic itself. Don’t let seemingly easy controls (one button?) fool you, the game gives a good challenge due to interesting level design. It’s not a simple runner where you have to jump over obstacles: while running forward, the hero encounters various enemies, closed doors, spikes, deadly pits, all of which requires unique level-based approach to overcome. Sometimes you’d have to jump on a moving platform (timing is very important!), sometimes you’d have to jump on the enemies and skip that one last tile (that seems necessary to jump on at first) and very occasionally the decision will be to stay calm and do nothing.

Pros

  • Levels do not get repetitive
  • Good game design, you’ll be surprised what obstacles you can pass and puzzles solve with only one button available
  • Actually smooth controls, the jumps are very responsive
  • Challenging difficulty
  • Skill-Based gameplay
  • Distinct style and cool effects
  • Amazing Music

Cons

  • Somewhat Short (at least during at the time of writing) – took me about 3h to complete, without special levels (which are insanely hard)
  • Not much of a plot
  • At the point of writing this review, some bounding boxes (spikes?) seem to be a bit too big, you can’t always properly predict when you slide into them when going down the walls.

Summary

Overall, I’d say that it’s a good blend between puzzle and platformer. If you like platformers/runners or fast puzzles – you definitely won’t be disappointed. If you want something EXTRA challenging – there are also secret amber pieces that you need to collect in order to uncover super-challenging secret levels. So yeah, If you don’t mind getting early access games and intend on giving feedback – I think it’s a good purchase right away, otherwise I’d add it to your wishlist and get it when it’s done to maximize the pleasure from playing. Give it a try when you can!

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Feature Image taken from the Bearslayer store page, here