XenoRaptor Steam Game Screenshot

Genre: Action / Bullet Hell
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: Yes, but wait for 50%+ discount

Disclaimer: the game is in early access so some things might change (although it has been in EA since 2014)

About The Game

XenoRaptor is a bullet hell game where you actually control a mechanical dragon and fight flying chainsaws in space. The game offers a pretty straightforward bullet-hell / shmup gameplay. If you play the campaign mode, it throws you into different levels. The levels differ not only in background pictures, but in actual amounts and types of obstacles. This really adds a good variety to the gameplay. The first levels don’t offer much resistance from environment, but it gets tougher as the game progresses. There are meteors and explosive barrels to make your life much harder. Ouch.

The Gameplay

Your ship has 3 weapons. Two of them are main weapons that produce “heat.” If you gain too much of it – the ship overheats and can’t fire. It feels like a good solution. On one hand, the player is forced to decide when to press the fire button. On the other hand, it opens up space for different strategies: if some users like heavy weapons that shoot once in a while, they can go for it. The others can go for the ones that can fire rapidly, aren’t as deadly, but generate less heat and can be used much more often. The third weapon requires special pickups, ammo, as it generally tends to be a bit stronger than the other two. I have to admit that I’ve rarely used the third weapon, as you can generally fulfill all your destructive needs with the other two.

One of the features of the game is the ability to customize your ship and your weapons: adding special effects, firing patters, reducing the heat generated or increasing the ship durability. There are lots of options for customization. Most of them are locked from the start, so you get to unlock them by defeating bosses and minibosses during campaign.

The gameplay itself feels very fair: although there’s plenty of random in enemy / obstacle placement and health drops, you always have the feeling that you’re in control. After enemies kill you, you can backtrace to the exact moment where you messed up or maneuvered poorly. Pretty straightforward. You get rewarded for skill, and punished for mistakes. The difficulty itself is pleasantly challenging: enemies swarm around you, leaving you no time to rest. One downside is that the waves take lots of time to clear before you meet the miniboss. If you fight for more than 5 minutes and then die, you’ll have to restart everything from scratch without any actual gains.

The game is well polished: explosions look pretty, the guns feel heavy. The enemy models look a bit bland and due to fast pace of the game it often gets hard to distinguish the roles of enemies.

The biggest issue for me was the weak camera controls: your ships stays in the middle of the screen all the time, which feels very lackluster compared to other action games. Usually, in action games like these, the camera leans forward, towards your aim reticle or ship flight direction. This serves two purposes: it adds ‘action’ feeling to the game, making player feel in the middle constant movement and maneuvering, but also improves the gameplay quality: when you are going forward with your ship, it’s much more important to know what’s going on in your movement direction than what stays behind your ship.

XenoRaptor

Overall, the game is well done, but personally I would wait for 50%+ discount due to other games on the market and not-so-great camera controls. So yes, I suggest grabbing it, but on discount

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Feature Image taken from the game store page, here

Strike Tactics Classical RTS screenshot

Genre: Classical RTS / Multiplayer
Game Page: Game Page
Should You Buy It: If you are a fan of classical RTS games

About The Game

Strike Tactics is a multiplayer rts. What makes it different and original is that it can be played from your browser. Yes, you’ve heard correctly. Full-featured RTS game, playable in Chrome (recommended by developer) or Firefox (tested by me and it ran fine).

My Take on the game

First of all, I love RTS games. But ultimately, I pretty much suck at them because I’m not really a multitasking person. In this regard, I’m looking at them like a daydreaming office clerk looks at racing cars: imagining how awesome would it be to drive one and be behind the wheel, and ultimately messing things up when he actually gets a chance to do it. So if I am being frank with you, I don’t think I’m qualified to review the game because I’m just not good enough, but I’ve played about three hours, a few versus AI games and three 1v1 games against actual players and just wanted to share my casual feedback, first impressions and simply inform you about its existence.

Gameplay loop

Strike Tactics starts like a usual rts game: you have workers that mine the basic mineral, carbon. The mining robots can get it from the trees that are often placed in most parts of the map. There’s an advanced mineral, ore, that is much rarer and is used for later game resources. You usually get 1-2 fields near your starting point, but will have to expand later on. The units take supply slots, so you need to build “silos,” special buildings that can shorten drop-off points for your drones.

What makes this game different is greater focus on macro rather than micro. The graphics also follow this doctrine: it’s a 2d game with clearly distinguishable units, so you can easily understand what’s going on at any point of the game, even when lots of stuff is happening on the screen.

The combat is done well: units shoot projectiles that can miss the target, so micro is rewarded (if you control your troops well – you can dodge a lot of stuff). One significant difference is abundance of air units with different functions: in this game, air units play major role. Instead of simply supporting ground attacks, they should often compose about 50% of your army because they can counter some ground units effectively and easily take out the workers-gatherers (who are also flying). There are about 20 units now, each has its own purpose. Anti-air, tanks, damage soakers, long range artillery, bombers, super-weapons, flying gunships, everything has a distinguished role, its own strengths and weaknesses. This makes an interesting mix and opens a lot of strategy space. I’ve played against a player who focused on ground units at first, quickly dodging my attacks with his great micro and then fighting the battle of attrition. I’ve also played a game where my base got rushed by air units: lots of my workers got destroyed because I did not have decent anti-air defenses, and from then on it became really hard to stabilize, which eventually led to my defeat.

Strike Tactics - Classical RTS screenshot

Impressions

Overall, the game has a thought-out gameplay loop that requires you to gather resources effectively and build smart. The unit choice adds to the depth: there’s just plenty of combinations and you have to effectively plan your combat approach and quickly adapt to enemy tactics. A lot of effort went into music: most of it is hard-rock’ish, which contributes to immersion of the game.

One minor thing that caught my attention was inability to move the map with WASD. ForgeableSum, the developer of the game mentioned that arrows are there for that, but for me this is a crucial feature, simply because arrow keys are far off from other shortcuts and it takes away precious moments when speed matters. So having it configurable would be really nice.

One thing that is important for RTS games is “uniqueness”. What do I mean by it? The units should not be feeling generic. In Strike Tactics, the unit ideas and art seem pretty new and you can distinguish most units from one another (except for artillery and the normal tank in my case), but other than that – they are not very memorable and don’t have this “wow” factor, apart from the flying battleship. Since units don’t have unique audio tracks (voice commands?), they feel quite generic, lacking the “soul.” If you remember red alert 2: in my opinion, what made it so exceptional is the unit voices and unit types. There were not simply “soldiers,” but characters. Tanya, Crazy Ivan, Chrono Commando, Yuri. Because the game created those personalities, it helped player to get immersed into the game world and made it recognizable and memorable. At this point, Strike Tactics lacks this. The gameplay is good, but if you will ask me in 5 years – I’m sure as hell going to remember Red Alert 2 (even though it was far from being as deep as this game when it came to gameplay decisions), but I can’t be sure that I’ll say the same about Strike Tactics.

There is an observer mode, but no replays yet. And yes, this is the type of game where I’d actually be happy to look at replays in order to learn.

Summary

It all depends now whethere the game is going to get its critical mass of players. The components for success are there, but theres still a good way to go.

The game’s planned release is on July 31 or early August. There’s going to be a free deathmatch mode, and I actually urge you to try it (link below) since you don’t have to install anything and can just run it in your browser. From the information I have, the core game is going to cost about $20. For me personally, this seems a bit too expensive. But on the other hand, it’s a niche game that offers a well-thought out and deep gameplay. The skill ceiling is also incredibly high, so if you are into classical RTS games – this might just be something that you were looking for.

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Feature Image taken from the game page, Game Page

Switchcars - Indie Game Reviews 2017 - Steam Screenshot

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

In Switchcars, you take a journey. However, in this case, the journey by the road also symbolizes the journey through time: by driving forward, you literally travel through the years. You have to go from year 1950 to 2055.

It’s a curious action / roguelite game that asks you to switch cars to pass different kinds of terrain to outrun the time (and the cross-dimensional monsters that go after you). You have three car slots that you can fill with any passing car. If you press a button near a car, the car is added to your car inventory and is usable at any time by pressing that same button again. Each level consists of multiple road lanes. Those road lanes have different terrain types like air, water, railroad, forest, etc. So in the end, you have to match the car type with the lane type and do it in the most efficient way possible.

This is done in a really good way: a lot of vehicles are too fast, so unless you have godlike reaction you ought to get in lots of trouble and will be forced to switch and replace cars due to encountering tons of obstacles. However, since lane terrain types don’t change that often, there’s a good strategy element which makes path optimization much more important than avoiding obstacles. So even if you are as bad at action games as I am, there’s still possibility for completing the game if you pick the route correctly. There are also pickups, aka consumable items that can improve your car or help your character.

Switchcars Steam Screenshot

Some cars have special abilities like nitro boost, electrical engine, tank tracks, sled, etc. There are more than 1000 cars available, some are recolrs, but most of them feel very different indeed. Another interesting thing is that cars and landscapes depend on the in-game year. The cars do change with time, from retro-ish to futuristic, which adds a great twist to the game process and makes it much less linear. The pixel art is very polished and the cars are well drawn.

Another thing is your character’s grappling hook: you can attach it to most passing cars or static obstacles, ensuring faster travel through the level and allowing you to get the cars that pass you by. One thing that I did not like was the controls when trying to grab the flying vehicles, like planes or helicopters, because whenever I held the “up” button on d-pad, the game often ignored me and went in horizontal directions towards other cars or obstacles. So it was pretty much impossible for me to grab aerial vehicles that are in the sky already.

Another thing that left a bitter aftertaste was the impossibility to effectively control your car at higher speeds, despite the game having very responsive controls. The speed was just too much to understand what was going on the screen. Before you start shouting “git gud,” I have to say that maneuvering through the lanes happen almost instantly, but you still need a godly reaction to notice all the small details. So in the game, despite having big speeds, there are very few moments when you get to enjoy these. Perhaps the game could use some sort of a slow-mo bonus that would allow the player to slow the time down without loosing a feeling of speed. Another solution would be making cars a bit more durable, since a lot of the fast ones can’t survive a head-on crash with another one.

But to sum it up, all of this seemed like a very minor drawbacks to otherwise a great game. SwitchCars is an amazing example of an indie roguelite game that creates a spectacular product on top of an original idea. I can highly recommend the game to those of you who like action/fast-paced indie games.

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Feature Image taken from the game store page, here

Caveblazers - Indie Game Reviews 2017 Steam Screenshot

Genre: Roguelite / Action / Platformer
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: If you enjoy difficult games

About The Game

In caveblazers, you venture down the cavern to explore it. It’s a roguelite platformer, where you’ll have to jump from wall to wall, fight different enemies and descend deep down into the cave. The game is aimed at hardcore roguelite/action/platformer audiences due to high difficulty.

The Good

The combat system is pretty simple, but really well done. You have a melee weapon, a bow with unlimited ammo and a slot for special item. You just need to attack the enemy either from a distance or swing at him after he swings at you (and hopefully misses). If you swing at enemy at the same time he does – the swing is parried. Enemies do not have bounding boxes, so you can often go through them, thus flanking them and making them miss an attack against you.

As you progress, you find new weapons and magic items that can give you one special ability like super speed, high jump or some passive perks. The variety is good and it leaves a lot of space to decision making: do I want to equip a boots that will allow me to run faster once in a while or do I want a demon that duplicates ranged attacks?

You’ll spend lots of game time jumping, and this aspect is done really well too. Your character can jump from the walls, meaning that you can climb up this way. The jump controls are really well done, they are intuitive; you can change your direction mid-air, ensuring that you can easily navigate wherever you want to.

AI deserves extra mention: monsters know how to jump from walls to walls and can find how to get to you. You also encounter friendly adventurers on your travel, and friendly ai really gives a great impression: it can maneuver carefully and traverse complicated levels while following you.

The graphics are also nicely done and well-polished. The pixel art is done with love and fits the style of the game.

The Bad

  • The game often feels like it is relying on random too much. Some runs will be successful simply because your rooms spawned perfectly.
  • I’ve also noticed that sometimes enemy-containing rooms are generated without open passages to them. You’d need to blow up the ground if you want to get to the enemies. There were no problems with the exit.
  • At the rate the new perks are unlocked – the game gets a bit monotonous. Unless you unlock relevant perks – you always start with the same weapons. I’ve played for about 3 hours and I still only have one perk that gives me different ranged weapon.

Summary

Caveblazers is the game that leaves a somewhat bad impression at first. During the first hour of playing, I seriously disliked how things went. The gameplay was really repetitive: spawn, die, repeat. After that time, I’ve unlocked a few perks that altered the gameplay process and the game began to feel different and more varying. I’m glad I’ve persevered past the first 1.5 hours, because after that the game really became fun. To sum it up, Caveblazers is very focused on its mechanics, so I’m pretty sure that you are new to the genre – it won’t motivate you to carry on. For those hardcore fans that enjoy this type of games and have some sort of idea about what they are getting into – I recommend the game.

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Feature Image taken from the game store page, here

MidBoss - Indie Game Reviews 2017 Steam Screenshot

Genre: Dungeon Crawler / RPG / Roguelike
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: Wait for 66% discount

MidBoss is a dungeon crawler where you get to possess the bodies of your defeated enemies. By defeating more enemies and playing those characters, you unlock new skills and are able to use their skillsets even when you repossess some other monster. That opens a room for many different skill and build combinations.

The Good

  • The main idea: there are lots of monsters with unlockable abilities (you have to unlock them on every new run) that you combine into your own character builds. Each monster can have up to 3 active abilities chosen at the time. Some of the monsters don’t have 3, others have much more, which makes you choose. Those 3 abilities can be transferred to the next monster upon death, which opens space for LOTS of combinations.
  • The way how new runs are handled: the beginning gets repetitive, but “grave goods” system that allows you to transfer one item from your previous characters really helps the random factor and introduces the missing “roguelike” element: no matter what decisions you take, you will be stronger on the next walkthroughs if you are using the grave goods system properly.
  • Challenging difficulty done just right: the game is easy to get into, but hard to master. You’ll have to experiment a lot in order to find valid builds.
  • The art is not bad and is done in a consistent style. It’s a bit generic for a dungeon crawler, but not low quality.

The Bad

  • Random generation: the rooms often feel empty and not decorated enough. Additionally, the random generation also strongly affects the loot, so there will be games that you lose simply due to randomly generated items not being strong enough.
  • Not many stats compared to other roguelikes. When you level up, you can choose one of four stats only. Those affect your other attributes like dmg / block chance. So in that regard – levelling up your main character is pretty limited.
  • The UI: Menus are a bit clumsy. You cannot bind items on hotkeys (yes, even activated items). You cannot equip items at once when you pick them (even if you right click on them), you always have to open inventory and choose them.
  • The fonts are blurry and hard to read. The whole game graphics are blurred out (probably by intention), but I’m assuming that the blur shader is applied for the whole scene on rendering. This should not be done this way: the good idea is to render UI / Text after the relevant gameplay scene has been rendered. My eyes were not getting tired, but that overall impacts the UX and decreases the perceived quality of the game.

Summary

Compared to other roguelikes, this game is remarkably easy to get into, but that does not make it easy to play. The main possession mechanic is deep and well thought-out, but other aspects don’t feel very developed compared to other dungeon crawlers. I can recommend the game to those who are looking for a way to get into the genre or just don’t enjoy crawlers where you have to read tons of text. However, MidBoss seems quite overpriced right now and I’d personally wait for 66% discount and grab it close to $5 (or your regional equivalent), simply because there are other alternatives on the market.

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Gridd - Indie Game Reviews 2017 Steam Screenshot

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

GRIDD is a neon-cyberpunk game, where you control your craft and try to “hack the system,” while avoiding and destroying enemies. Behind simple concept there’s a good execution with well-detailed and thought out neon 80’s-like style. Think of Tron, a 1982 movie. The style of the game world vaguely reminds of a famous lightbike scene that the movie portrayed to us.

The Good

  • Simple, but action packed gameplay. You can move in 4 directions (up/down/left/right) and shoot. There are different obstacles and enemies that makes it interesting and engaging.
  • Difficult, skill-based gameplay with two modes: the arcade mode offers one same gameplay sequence again and again so you have a chance to study / adapt to it. Endless mode offers randomly-generated levels, so you’ll have to rapidly react to what’s happening on the screen since you can’t actually prepare for it.
  • Neon-Cyberpunk Style: glowing neon futuristic levels, with amazing particle effects, stylized enemy models and well-thought out obstacles. This gives a great vibe of “system hacking” like you would imagine it in 1980’s movies.
  • Music is repetitive, but not annoying: the music loop fits the game fine.

The Bad

  • There’s not much in the game content-wise. Sure, different enemies and obstacles are there, but your ship remains the same and there are only 3 bonuses: health / shield / weapon upgrades. It gets repetitive after a while: Arcade mode throws the same level at you again and again. Endless mode adds variety, but somewhat diminishes the skills: since obstacles and enemies are random, you can’t learn the positioning and predict them in a timely manner.
  • Dying sequence deserves an extra mention: after you die, you are shown the final screen with score (acceptable). Then, after you have to press the button to close the screen, you get thrown to the main screen of the game (press start to continue), where you have to navigate to the game mode you want and pick it (more button presses). For a skill-based game that requires lots of retry attempts – that quickly gets annoying. Simple restart/retry button would make it so much better.

Summary

The game offers an engaging gameplay with exceptional style, but does get repetitive after a while since there’s not that much content present. I say grab it during 50% discount.

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Rocking Pilot - Indie Game Reviews 2017 Steam Screenshot

Genre: Bullet Hell / SHMUP
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: Yes, if you have a good twin-stick gamepad

About the Game

Rocking Pilot is a bullet hell game where you fight the enemy waves on your helicopter. It is inspired by the classic arcade games, but tries to introduce new features to the genre. Without spoiling the ending, the setting of the game itself takes place in “reality show” that shows wars and armed conflicts across the world. During every mission, your helicopter stays on screen and tries to perform the task given.

The Good:

  • Each game zone brings its own interaction: hostages to be rescued, gas that blocks enemy and your bullets, mutant growth that can be killed only by rotors, etc. It feels like developers really spent a lot of time developing the enemies.
  • The graphics are bright and very polished: player’s action receive a good visual feedback. Picking up hostages, dealing damage and picking power-ups – all of this is clear and pretty.
  • Challenging and difficult. You can turn invulnerability/bullet deflection for some time, but not for long. It’s up to you when to turn this one, which direction to face, where to go and what enemies to shoot. Overall, the gameplay feels very skill-based.
  • The game by itself is not that long (probably the base storyline can be completed within 2 hours), but there’s a lot more stuff to do if you want to perfect it. There are also bonus levels with much higher difficulties. As it often is with shmup games, each stage offers extra milestones that can be completed for additional rewards / pickable bonus unlocks.

The Bad:

  • Collisions: bounding boxes are utterly confusing. You often have to kill the enemies using your helicopters rotors, that means you have to approach them, and it is not always clear how far you can go into the enemies without exploding. To sum it up, the death from collisions in this particular game felt like it was hurting the gameplay instead of helping it.
  • The mouse controls are awkward at the very least. When playing using controller, the helicopter turns towards the direction of the second stick. When playing with mouse, however, your helicopter seems to be turning right/left depending on where you move your mouse, and since there’s no cursor being shown – it’s just hard to navigate using the mouse. It just gives an impression that there was no effort to make the game use devices that PC can offer. This type of game on PC often uses cursor for targeting and easier rotation, but not in this case, and that makes mouse controls so much worse without a particular reason.
  • The UI is obviously meant for consoles: you can’t navigate the menus with the mouse, you have to pick language every time you launch the game. The game keeps launching on your display #1 no matter which one you set as a main one. No way to tune that in the settings. My monitors have different resolution and so I could not set it to run on the one I wanted to. You can turn on the windowed mode, but you don’t seem to be able to resize the window.

Summary

Overall, it’s a really decent bullet-hell game when it comes to the gameplay itself, but poor mouse controls make it an unsuitable pick for those of you who prefer gaming with keyboard and mouse. If you have a twin-stick controller and enjoy bullet hell games though – the game will be a good addition to your library.

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Feature Image taken from the game store page, here

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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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.

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Feature Image taken from the game store page, here