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

Rezrog - Indie Game Reviews 2017 Steam Screenshot

Genre: Dungeon Crawler / Roguelike
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: Yes

About The Game

Rezrog is a dungeon crawler where you take your party of explorers (one at a time) to go through the world. The game is styled like a table-top, each level is a dungeon that literally takes place on the table. Every character is a tabletop figure.

The Good

  • The style fits dungeon crawling perfectly: the board is revealed room by room, each room appears like lots of tabletop pieces dropping onto the table. When monster get killed – he is moved outside the room (placed nearby). The 2d-character figures also change the looks depending on gear equipped, which is pretty cool and unusual for dungeon crawling games.
  • Interesting approach to character death: when character is defeated, he gets “imprisoned.” That means that you cannot use the character before you rescue him.
  • Good graphics: 3D lightning is very well done, making dungeons more immersive than ever.
  • Challenging difficulty, especially in the beginning. You need to utilize every feature of the game to be successful: use the abilities, make sure to be well-equipped, purchase consumables and use them timely. Having said that, the game is not hard to get into: the UI is very clear and you won’t need to go through walls of text to understand how things work.
  • Skills can be freely swapped between characters. This is a double edged sword (later on that), but the good side is that you can customize any character. Also, it enhances prison system: you cannot equip the skill if the character that got imprisoned uses it already.

The Bad

  • Weapon Shop items do not have stats revealed until you buy them. You can’t even see level requirements on them. Essentially shop is a slightly improved slot machine: you know the type of the item that you are getting, but you have no idea what will it be. This seriously hinders strategizing and progression to some extent.
  • The content at the beginning can get a bit grindy: if your character gets imprisioned, you have to level up other characters to match the level, and the beginning of the game does not have that much monster variety.
  • The class differences are very vague. Since skills can be transferred between classes, the only thing that makes a difference is the natural growth of attributes.
  • Occasional bugs: sometimes your character jumps back to where he stood (all this happens while walking). Item description did not disappear when I closed inventory one or two times during my playtime. Nothing game breaking, but you notice those things.

Summary

Ultimately, what I like about the game is how well mechanics and style work together. Dungeon Crawler games are fascinating by themselves, but they often lacks good representation and is considered niche because of poor graphics / walls of text / hard to get into. Rezrog deals with these problems, and this makes it a game that can appeal to both gamers that are looking to get into the genre and more seasoned dungeon crawling veterans.

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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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Crawl - Indie Game Reviews 2017 Steam Screenshot

Genre: Dungeon-Crawler / Local Multiplayer
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: Yes

Crawl is a peculiar game. It recently left early access, entering the fully released stage. The game’s idea is really original: four players (either bots or humans) are playing at the same time. One of them gets the role of dungeon explorer, going through the dungeon. Other take the roles of ghosts, who can spawn monsters or possess the traps across the rooms. If someone manages to kill the dungeon explorer, he takes his role, while recently deceased player becomes a ghost. The player who manages to get level 10 and kill the dungeon boss wins.

The Good

  • Really innovative and fun gameplay: there’s also no downtime for anyone, because all players influence the game in a way. It’s like telling a story from two different points of view
  • Lots of content and variety: different bosses, monsters, weapons and items. As you play more games, you get more unlocks, diversifying the randomized gameplay even further
  • AI is really good
  • The game has its own style: the pixel art is well aligned and fits the theme well

The Bad

  • A bit of a snowballing tend to happen. If one player levels up while playing explorer, other players (ghosts) are getting stronger monsters. Technically, that tends to even out the disadvantages (weaker players have stronger monsters -> statistically they tend to kill explorer more and take its role) as the game progresses. But if weaker player gets the role of explorer – he still has to fight the strong monsters of at least two other ghosts which often won’t be in his favor. During the midgame this gap is felt the most, but then it evens out if the game drags on a bit. That’s really the only drawback I can name.
  • No online multiplayer: the game could really benefit from it.
  • Also, minor thing, but I could not switch active display on my machine (could not move the game to second screen). The option to do this is there, but it did not work if I changed it.

Summary

The game is good in singleplayer, because AI can use the surroundings well and both control and combat the monsters skillfully. However, Crawl shines brightest when played with friends: the hot-cold relationship that turns upside down when someone takes control of the explorer (and the old foe, in turn, becomes somewhat your friend) makes up for a lot of funny and exciting moments. The content unlocks also makes it really replayable. Overall, it’s a solid game with original premise and I highly recommend it.

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Feature Image taken from the Crawl store page, here