Skylar & Plux - Indie Game Reviews 2017 Steam Screenshot

Genre: 3D Platformer / Action / Adventure
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: Yes, under 33%+ discount, since the game is pretty short

Skylar & Plux: Adventure on Clover Island is a homage to early 3d platformers. You control your feline hero and help her gather three relic parts to restore something that brings her memory back.

The Good

  • Game World and Graphics are top-notch: seriously, the character models / animations / level design is something you would expect from the AAA game.
  • Controls are very responsive (maybe except for jetpack jump) and controlling your character feels great. The jumping, which has often been an issue in the old 3d platformers is done surprisingly smoothly here. It presents a challenge, but you are fighting with the obstacles, and not controls.
  • Beautiful Sounds and Music: the Music fits the colorful game mood and enhances it.
  • More than anything, the game is fun to play. It gives a good mix of puzzles, jumping and destroying enemies, which makes the gameplay exciting, since you never get bored while playing.

The Bad

  • It often feels that together with early 3d platformer feeling the developers decided to bring in the clumsy camera controls which was often an issue back then. If you want to look up – the camera often shifts right to your characters butt. Turning during jumping can also be a bit painful experience (although it’s somewhat mitigated because the gamepad has the button that centers the camera behind your character).
  • The plot is somewhat cheesy (which honestly is understandable), but the initial premise was that the cat character had memory removed and was trying to restore it. By the end of the game, this completely shifts and it seems like nobody cares about restoring the memory anymore. After completing the game, you still don’t know what happened to the character and how she ended up being where she is.
  • Not much Content / Low Difficulty: there are about 5 different enemies and one boss. The game itself can take about 3 hours to complete if you just want to run through it (to counter that: there are multiple optional health unlocks that can greatly prolong the experience; 100% completion will take much more time; the lack of enemies is also compensated by puzzles and good level design that requires lots of non-repetitive jumping with different approaches to getting past the obstacles).

Summary

Despite the flaws, the game is still fun, but not for typical hardcore gamers who are nostalgic about 3d platformers. The length of the game might be questionable, but the experience quality justifies it. It’s the game that I’d buy for my kid, because it is very colorful, well-polished and reasonably challenging. For veteran gamers with 3d nostalgia though – I hesitate recommend it and I leave this up to your discretion.

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Rogue Islands Steam Screenshot

Genre: FPS / Roguelite
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: Yes

In Rogue Islands you take control of a dwarf on a journey to save his tribe. It’s an FPS-meets-minecraft kind of game, with voxel graphics and heavy use of roguelite principles. You travel from island to island on your boat and complete simple missions: simply gathering enough fuel to move forward, visiting the “spirit tree” to meditate on top of it or fighting the boss. The gameplay on every island can be split into three parts: exploration, resource gathering, fighting. As for the gathering part: at the very least, you need to gather enough fuel to move to the next island, but there’s much more resources (food / magic gems) at each location. The monster hunting part is pretty straight forward: use your spells to kill monsters, they drop “souls” that can be used for upgrades later on.

The Good:

  • The islands are huge. The random terrain generation is also very well done, generating caves / mountains / ponds and placing random resources. I don’t know how they did it, but most of the time you get the feeling that no way the current map you’re playing on could have been randomly generated. I’m very impressed.
  • The graphics are well done: very colorful, lots of effects and due to the right sound choice you get the feeling like you are in 8-bit world. The monster death effects deserve extra mention: killing stuff is just cool.
  • The FPS mechanics are alright. It’s not impossible to dodge the enemy projectiles, but you need to make an effort to do this. The projectile impacts are well done, but the weapon shooting does not always feel powerful. Don’t get me wrong, the weapons are in fact quite powerful, it’s just your first weapon, wand, which you are going to use most of the time, does not give impression of power. Projectiles just sort of fly away from it. It’s just an aesthetic feeling: impacts done right, shots – not so much.
  • The difficulty seems just right. If you make mistakes: you die and reset, if you play / dodge correctly – you progress further. There’s not much random involved in the combat itself, which makes it deterministic and not luck-based.

The Bad:

  • As of now, not big enough variety of monsters: first two boss models are the same. At the first ¾ islands, you are going to encounter 3-4 types of enemies at most. Again, this is OK for the early access title, but I think it’s fair that I warn you.
  • If you are playing with keyboard/mouse, but have controller connected, it’s still going to vibrate (which essentially means that you’ll have to disconnect it from your pc when playing).
  • No hotkeys to switch between weapons (spells). You have to press right mouse key, then the circular menu opens and you need to navigate to the one you need.
  • As of the current moment, the game crashed about 4 times upon my death within ~6h of playing. Not a huge deal (since you died anyway), but still gets on your nerves occasionally. After patch today I played for ~3 hours and did not encounter any crashes.
  • After alt-tabbing, the mouse pointer is not captured inside the game window (meaning it can go over the game window bounds if you have 2 monitors like I do – meaning you’ll probably die since the game is not pausing on alt-tab).

Summary

I don’t think it’s bad, but I have to warn you that it’s a roguelite after all, so all who like hoard resources are going to be disappointed as there’s really no easy mode 🙂 Despite the lack of content in Early Access version on launch and some inconveniences, the main gameplay loop is really well-done and I had fun playing for about ~9 hours at the current point. The terrain generation is really original and all the randomly generated landscapes/islands never felt repetitive, as I was eager to explore them and find the resources every single time. The game is really fun even at this point and I can confidently recommend it: there’s not much content yet, but the developers mentioned that it’s going to cost $9.99 during early access. For this price – it’s a steal and if you like the idea of it – there’s no reason not to buy it.

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Riptale - Indie Game Reviews 2017 Steam Screenshot

Genre: Action
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: Wait for 50% discount

About The Game

In Riptale you take the role of the swordsman, a dragon hunter of sorts. You go through randomly generated levels and hack/slash through the enemies. Literally. There’s lots of blood and when you strike an enemy, you really go through him. Non-boss enemies die from one hit, but you must plan your attacks carefully, because it’s pretty easy for them to hit you too.

The Good

  • Hitting enemies feels great. The blood, the slow-down of time at the moment of impact that allows you to start another combo.
  • Challenging Difficulty: the game is really hard
  • Good selection of music and sounds. The music can get repetitive after a while, but it never felt annoying. The hit sounds are very satisfying: it’s exactly as you would imagine when you think about something alive that got hit by a sword.
  • Customizable attack combos: you don’t have a traditional attack cooldown. Instead, you have three attacks (gems). Each attack costs one gem, so you can do three rapid attacks at once. Gems replenish over time though, so you can’t combo immediately. The interesting thing is you encounter shops as you progress in the game, and those sell special gems that can alter your attack pattern and make you stronger. This is the main way to change your strategy and playstyle. For example, as you play, you discover that placing some gems in first position makes charging harder, so you put them in second attack position (i.e. your first attack remains normal, but second attack becomes homing, allowing to kill the enemy quickly if he dodged).

 

The Bad

  • Collisions could be better. Occasionally you go through flying enemies without damaging them.
  • Gems are not recharged when you enter new room. If the game expects to have a fast gameplay, it’s a bit counter-intuitive to have player stand in one place and wait till the gems are refilled.
  • Aiming controls felt subpar quite a while: the 45-degree directions are fine, but enemies that are located at a different angle from you are frustrating to hit.
  • Slow-mo during falls could be useful. From time to time you get into situation when you jump down a platform and collide with a monster below (but there was no way to see it).
  • The levels are randomly generated. Traversing some rooms is not very pleasant due to a huge number of obstacles or maybe randomly placed stuff. The level compositions seems to be a bit broken and the gameplay speed gets hindered because of that.

 

Summary

What game excels at is the feel when you kill something: once your character cuts an enemy, you know this was for real. The time slows down for a split second and you just know that you’ve delivered a crushing blow of unstoppable force to something. That feeling of speed, action and being in the center of the events is something. Due to the other flaws and pretty simple graphics – I suggest waiting for 50% discount before grabbing the game; It gave me ~2 hours of good gameplay, but I doubt I’d return to it later.

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Feature Image taken from the game store page, here

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

Sonny - Indie Game Reviews 2017 Steam Screenshot

Genre: Turn-Based RPG
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: Not while controls/UI are like that

When you hear about the game “Sonny” some of you probably remember your teens: that was a really popular flash game. The same goes for me: I still have fond memories of playing it. This game on Steam, however, is not exactly a direct sequel of sonny1/2 from flash to PC. It’s a port from the iPhone game, made by the same author, based on the plot of the first game. It’s a turn-based RPG where you clear stages with your party, acquiring new skills and items in the process.

Pros

  • Content is decent. Lots of items, engaging plot (who does not like zombies?)
  • The combat system is well thought out: it’s easy to learn but hard to master, offers a solid challenge
  • Talent tree + possibility to evolve your abilities during battle, adjusting to your playstyle and improving the ways to defeat your enemies
  • Combat feels well polished: there’s really no attack animations for the character sprites, but hitting the enemies feel really good: lots of flashy numbers and colorful effects.
  • Solid and colorful graphics overall.
  • Sounds/music are good

Cons

  • All cons for me are essentially associated with UI/UX. The game might be ported to PC in terms of graphics, but UI/UX is still kept from Mobile. No difference between left / right / middle clicks in battle: if you want to see ability descriptions, you have to hold your CLICKED mouse button on them which screams “touch” from mobile. No skill hotkeys. The first flash game had similar mechanics, but it did not open a new window when you clicked the skill for description. That makes a huge difference. Here, when you want to check your skill out during the battle, you’ll also need to close the window with description (in case you don’t want to use it).
  • By the way, using right click on skill upgrade window teaches your character skill instantly in your talent tree. Learned it the hard way. So yes, there is a way to read about the talent, you just need to LEFT click it. The inconsistency is killing me.
  • Shop: no buy-and-equip at once. You have to buy your item, close the shop window, go to inventory window and equip your item there.
  • Hovering on stats does not explain them. There’s “Stat” info button that explains basic stats.
  • Big one: some debuffs are not visibly displayed on your character (you can find out that he’s debuffed only by clicking on him). Might not seem like a huge deal, but there’s literally a debuff that kills you when you attack.

Summary

Essentially, it feels like a good mobile game that tries to find the way to PC. By itself, there’s nothing bad in the fact, but the laziness in adjusting the UX for decent use on PC really breaks the experience. The game screams “mobile” right now. Honestly, I this is the first time I loved the the setting and gameplay, but was absolutely frustrated by the controls, as playing it on PC felt like playing the game on an oversized mobile. This type of controls work on mobile mostly for one reason: buttons are not too far from another due to smaller screen, you can simply touch them and navigating is much more convenient with your fingers. On pc, you have to scroll your mouse and click more buttons than necessary. The lack of hotkeys also hurts the game that requires you to do lots of clicking on skills. Overall, get it if the control issues are fixed. The gameplay is OK, but the controls are infuriating. If you have an iphone: get it there or wait for fixes on PC, I would not recommend this game in its current state, especially to Sonny fans out there. Better go replay the first game on the publishers website

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Feature Image taken from the Sonny store page, here

Adventuring Gentleman - Indie Game Reviews 2017 Steam Screenshot

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

Adventuring Gentleman is a steampunk roguelite platformer. You start your game as a gentleman in a club room: there are multiple other chaps sitting there and telling you the news (aka quests). As soon as you pick your quest: you are taken on adventure, where you need to clean 5, 10, or 15 rooms and defeat a boss. After clearing each room from enemies, you can choose a bonus which improves your weapon or your character. It can be double-jump, flight, double shot, explosive shot, etc. If you kill the boss at the end of the quest – the pool of random bonuses is increased. This improves your chances to beat the next bosses: after all, the unlocked bonuses are more powerful.

Pros

  • The enemy killing process is fun: jumping on platforms, charging your gun and killing weird enemies turns out to be awesome
  • Skill-based, challenging and adapting gameplay: most enemies are not easy to beat. You’ll have to dodge projectiles masterfully in order not to get damage. The bonus choice matters, it will affect your play style, so you can influence how each quest walkthrough plays out.
  • Amazing style and enemy variety: the game author has a great imagination and enemies won’t leave you bored: fly with a musket, robot-waiter carrying the bombs, giant mushrooms, tin soldier that uses a ballerina as a gun and much more.
  • Great Victorian-inspired atmospheric music and sounds.
  • Steampunk Style: the steampunk is pretty much underrepresented in games, so kudos to game author for making a good one.

Cons

  • Some enemy attack preparation animations are not long enough or not noticeable enough. This usually is not a problem, but this will bring you a few frustrating moments
  • When you unlock the flight bonus and pick it: controls get clunky, to the point of damaging the gameplay experience and not feeling like a drawback
  • The game is mostly about the core gameplay (not much plot): if you enjoy the run-jump-gun mechanics – the game is for you, as this turns out much cooler than it sounds like. If you’re into the games for stories – this one probably ain’t for you.
  • The style is a double-edged sword: it is well done, but you’ll either love or hate it, no middle ground

Summary

I’m really happy that I’ve discovered Adventuring Gentleman: the art and music make a great atmosphere in favor of Victorian setting. The gameplay might seem simple, but it’s easy to learn and hard to master. The good game design is also there: the player is given a real choice how to build his character, allowing to strategize between shooting and making important choices that affect the play style. Despite the flaws with some enemy animations, I loved Adventuring Gentleman and highly recommend it.

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Feature Image taken from the Adventuring Gentleman 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

Hollow Knight - Steam Indie Game Reviews 2017

Genre: Metroidvania
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: Yes, go grab it right away unless you get frustrated easily (read below)

I’m going to describe my gaming process of Hollow Knight with Kubler-Ross model.

Denial

“The game seemed really great at first, surely there can be some directions somewhere where I can understand what the plot is about and why am I going where I’m going?”

Anger

“I bought all the items from map vendor, I even have ink, why do I have to find a bloody npc to buy a map for this specific location? This is terrible, my character can’t even create a map and I need to equip a special item for my location to be shown. Why do I have to move a huge distance to get to the boss after dying? If only I could find a bench nearby. That’s right, I can’t, because there’s no clear map.”

Bargaining

“Maybe if I look the map online – it won’t be that bad? It might get better, right? What if I try looking it up no more than once in an hour, the process won’t be spoiled, right?”

Depression

“What? I’ve missed the mantis boss at the beginning of the game and still progressed further? It’s all meaningless, I can’t operate with so much data missing and obscure directions. Screw it, let me just write something on the review and then go on to the next game.”

Acceptance

“Alright, the community is really helpful and the game is actually enjoyable once you know what you need to do. There’s lots of content, so I’m not bored. As I play more, the game starts to be fun. The content is great and the art style is really immersive.”

Review

Seriously though,

I’ve played the game for about 16 hours and that’s a brief description of my experience so far. The community is split into two parts: those, who like the lack of direction and those who don’t. I can understand both sides: there are not many metroidvanias with such obscure sense of purpose but also heightened sense of exploration. The lack of directions when you traverse the game map (with lots of mazes) can build an excitement but it can also take it away when you are going through the dungeon for the twentieth time (I wish I was exaggerating – maybe I suck at this game, but I’ve honestly tried to play without googling stuff for the first 10 hours) because you don’t know where you should be.

Rock Paper Shotgun (https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2017/03/02/hollow-knight-review/) calls this a worse version of “Ori and the Blind forest.” I cannot agree to that: while Ori offered a great steamlined experience (let’s be honest, you always knew where you had to go) with mostly ups and some downs (water flooding level, anyone?), Hollow Knight offers a mix of emotions, from deep frustrations to overwhelming joy. The difficulty level of hollow knight is also considerably higher, but the game is totally skill-based. There’s no random factor: if you win – it’s because you did great. If you lost – that’s your fault entirely.

Pros

  • Challenging, skill-based gameplay
  • Lots of content: levels, enemies, items
  • Amazing art style, really immersive surroundings: the feeling of the abandoned world that changes as you change.
  • Responsive controls (except for the “ground slam” move, it’s really hard to pull that one off because the timeframe when you have to press jump button is so small).
  • Awesome sounds and music
  • Boss fights are amazing – really hard, but really rewarding once you complete them

Cons

  • The map system is horrible: even if you buy the items necessary to update your map, you still need to find the npc that sells you the map of the current location. A lot of times, you cannot do this easily.
  • ^ Because you have no map, it’s hard to find resting places. Since you cannot find resting place, you have to restart at your last resting place (which is usually very far). If you die the second time when you move towards your death – you lose your coins. Sure, you can put coins in the bank, but then you’d have to return to the bank every time you want to put something else there.
  • Lack of direction: if you like tightly knitted plots and someone telling you what needs to be done – this game is not for you. You really have to explore that underground city, return to the locations you’ve previously been to in case you missed something. You won’t even understand that you missed something until there’s nowhere else to go and you’re out of options.

Summary

The game does not lead you by the hand (which is great), but it sometime feels that it gives too much freedom, which might be a disappointment if you are looking for something with a straightforward plot and at least some vague directions where you need to be.

Overall, the Hollow Knight to me was a bittersweet experience. I could not play it for more than 1-2 hours a day, because it can easily get frustrating. Still, don’t let that discourage you: that’s the game that actually gives you a bouquet of different emotions. Because you feel frustrations, the emotional reward of completing something here also feels greater than great. And because you experience so much, the game begins to feel great. Due to that, the game captivates you. This magical feeling of wanting to overcome the difficulties will drive you forward once you pass the initial resistance.

The lack of decent mapping might hurt, but overall it adds the sense of unknown when you are trying to explore new location. If you lose patience easily – this game is not for you. 100%. Otherwise – highly recommended, a great _experience_ that will take you from frustration to the joy of solving problems and overcoming challenging foes. Definitely grab this one right away if you are a fan of metroidvanias. Go grab it right away. Seriously.

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Feature Image taken from the Hollow Knight 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

Holy Potatoes! We're in Space?! Game Screenshot

Genre: Adventure/Roguelite
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: Yes.

Disclaimer #1: I got the key for free
Disclaimer #2: This one won’t be that short
Disclaimer #3: The game is close to release, but it is still work in progress and I had a preview version

„Holy Potatoes! We’re in space?!” offers a new take on a space exploration game. I suppose comparisons to “Faster Than Light” are inevitable, so let’s get this out first: similar to FTL, you control a ship that must traverse galaxies and the time is running out. Similar to FTL, you encounter various events and enemies. Similar to FTL, you recruit your crew, each one of them has their own strengths and weaknesses. Similar to how you loved FTL, you are going to love this game. They are different games though.

The ideas might be the same, but the execution definitely differs. ”Holy Potatoes! We’re in space?!” is west-meets-east kind of game, that mixes the game development styles from both sides of the world and keeps the best parts of them. Although there’s plenty of randomness, it’s not really a roguelike like FTL: the game is more plot / objective driven. You explore the space on your starship, taking turns to move from one galaxy to another. Each galaxy has a hub, something like a shop/upgrade center, where you can buy craftable item blueprints, crafting resources, weapons, upgrade your ship modules and hire more crew.

Indie Game Review 2017 - Holy Potatoes! We're in Space?! Ship Interior

After you visit the hub, you can travel to new planets and explore them, that’s where the main gameplay takes part. Exploration is just a series of events, from simple random quest encounters to enemies. The combat is turn-based (think JRPG turn based): your ship has multiple weapons, each one controlled by a crew member, and you may choose what weapons to use. You can also assign shield to your ship components or use special abilities.

Pros:

  • Unique Style, universe based on humor and lots of game and popular culture references
  • Interesting gameplay with lots of variety, game is really fun to play, the great blend of different mechanics really makes the game stand out
  • Depth of micromanaging, lots of things to do: crafting/ship parts/crew/weapons
  • Lots of items / craftables to customize your ship
  • Plenty of random events and enemy encounters

Cons:

  • The style / humor is not for everyone: I personally like it, but if you’ve played the other game (“Holy Potatoes! A weapon shop?!”) and did not like the style/humor – chances are you won’t like this one too.
  • The battles can get a bit repetitive: after all, you’re just firing the weapons at enemy and he fires back
  • Minor one, but had some issues with tutorial (notified the developers); as the game has lots of gameplay elements, it’s pretty easy to get lost in UI at first. It gets much easier later on though.

 

Overall, while I would not call this game a spiritual successor to FTL, I must say that it scratches that same „FTL itch” we all had after finishing the game. The game offers a unique take to the mechanics and Daylight studios do not disappoint with their execution: everything is well thought out and polished, the game is fun to play. It’s a great mix of genres, offering great depth of micromanagement paired with exciting RPG battles. Because of that, I highly recommend the game.

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