Shio - Indie Game Reviews 2017 Steam Screenshot

Genre: Platformer
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: Yes, if you are a fan of difficult platformers

About The Game

Shio is a platformer where your character jumps between lanterns to reach the unknown destination (which is gradually revealed to you by plot). If you have played “Ori and the Blind Forest” – remember the waterfall level? The one that did not have much checkpoints and was insanely hard to jump through? Yup, this game essentially evokes this same feeling, only gives different obstacles in much greater variety. You’ll often have to remember position/timing of every platform before you can succeed.

The Good

  • Great level design: each new mechanic is gradually introduced into the game. At first the jumping is trivial, but then it gives you much harder challenges that you have to complete using things that you’ve learned
  • Creative approach to obstacles: lots of variety that requires player to adjust his play style. Some notorious examples are lanterns that reveal obstacles for a small while, the ray that kills you if you stay in one place for too long, the platforms that you need to jump away from right before they disappear
  • The game is difficult, but because of that it is rewarding: you might want to smash your controller sometimes, but after 20 minutes of attempting the same challenge and completing it you’ll feel gratification. Completing the challenges is insanely rewarding
  • The graphics and style are captivating: the backgrounds are colorful and character animations are also well done.
  • Great ambient music that enhances level traversing experience

The Bad

  • If you are playing with controller: left stick is used for movement (the usual way), but for some reason if you press up or down – your character keeps moving left or right (depending on your previous direction I think). It might not seem like a big deal, but you’re probably going to instinctively press “up-right” when you are jumping right for example. This is when it will get tricky, as the system somewhat gets confused if you’ve been going left before. Worse news if you are used to pressing “up” when jumping, since the character will simply divert to previous direction. I had to switch to d-pad, which was ok, because it’s easier to avoid up/down buttons.
  • The door-opening lanterns are often unresponsive: they just don’t activate the same way as the ones that help you jump. You’ll often miss them at first because they seem to require different timing when you jump towards them (which will mess up your mechanical memory / control expectations).

Summary

Apart from controls (which are troubling but not unbearable), the game offers a great jumping/platforming experience. It’s not for everyone, but if you enjoy high difficulty games which require perfect performance from the player– this one might just be for you.

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Feature Image taken from the game store page, here

MegaSphere - Indie Game Reviews 2017 Steam Screenshot

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

Disclaimer: the game is in early access, so a lot of things are probably going to change/improve. The review is actual for the 4th of May 2017.

In MegaSphere, your character is investigating why are the stars of Solar System are going dark. It is an action-platformer, where you explore massive randomly-generated levels with well-defined objectives and progression.

The Good:

  • Challenging difficulty. The game feels really skill based. When you die from the enemy attack – you know exactly how you messed up.
  • Plenty of weapons with different shooting patterns and tactical uses. Weapons can also be upgraded by putting special modules in the slots. I.e. reflection that makes bullets bounce from walls. Shooting also feels nice: the weapons you get at the start are by no means powerful, but it’s a great feeling when you hit something successfully and then finally destroy it.
  • Great lightning and particle effects: the backgrounds are dark, and they make a great contrast with explosions / other game effects, which are masterfully made. These are hands down some of the best effects I’ve seen in a 2d game.
  • The music and sounds are OK. Not exceptional, but not bad: music does not feel repetitive and gives a good background for playthrough.
  • Environment with destructive elements: some parts of the levels can be destroyed, there are also explosive crates which you can use strategically to damage enemies.

The Bad:

  • The beginning is a bit slow and somewhat boring. There’s a good idea about gradually introducing game features by continuously unlocking them to the player (dash -> gun -> upgrade menu -> codex -> map, etc), but right at the start you need to traverse large spaces without much stuff going on. It gets much better when you enter the second location though.
  • No pausing the game when you open codex / equipment window. It’s probably by intention, but it often prevented me from reading codex / equipping stuff when I felt like it.
  • Maybe a bit more explanation about how saving works? I.e. codex record about this: right now even if I reached the checkpoint before boss, died, then respawned at the same checkpoint a few times, then exited the game – I still get thrown one level back to the checkpoint there.
  • Navigation tab could really use a legend somewhere, because icons of the map are not really obvious (i.e. at least in codex, where weapons are described; the game could do the same with navigation icons: icon – description).
  • AI is sometimes easily fooled (especially with destructive environment) – but in all honesty it does not make the game any less challenging

Summary

I think the game got my attention by its difficulty. The no hand-holding approach definitely works here, making fights and exploration entertaining and victories rewarding. Due to this, I can strongly recommend the game.

Have something to add? Make sure to join our Steam group, http://steamcommunity.com/groups/coldwild or join our facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/ColdwildGames/

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.

Have something to add? Make sure to join our Steam group, http://steamcommunity.com/groups/coldwild or join our facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/ColdwildGames/

Feature Image taken from the Pinstripe store page, here