Kingdom of Loot Steam Game Screenshot

Genre: MMORPG
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: Wait for early access to end

Today, I wanted to take a look at the game called “Kingdom of Loot:” I did not stumble upon it randomly, its ad has been displayed to me on Facebook. The game is in early access, so lots of work is planned ahead.

About The Game

The game is a massive multiplayer rpg game, made fully in pixel art. The game’s aesthetic is definitely well-thought out: the palette is colorful, the pixel art is well done and shows lots of care put into it.

Pros and cons

The ui is well-drawn, but clumsy. To equip a new item, you need to unequip the previous one. You can’t quick sell items (at least I did not find the way). You need to drag every one of your items towards “sell” button, which can become tedious if you take into account how much loot the game actually drops. There are no quick way to compare the item that you are going to equip with the item that you already have equiped. I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

You’ll have to pick up lots of loot. Luckily, this mechanic is well-done. The hitting animations and reward collections is polished fine, which is important. Every time enemy drops coins / weapons – there are visible effects and pleasant sounds on pickup. One thing that I would change is the loot attraction distance. Right now, you have to be almost on the coins in order to loot them. This brings some unnecessary walking around. Ideally, it would be much more entertaining if the coins were pulled towards you from 2-3 tile distance.

However, when it comes to gameplay, the game faces a serious challenge: right now, after level 5, the game throws you into the dungeon. Unfortunately, this is the only dungeon you can go to. I’ve tried playing with two melee classes and an archer, and did not see any active skills upon reaching level 5. All I got was passive attack enhancements, which essentially reduced the gameplay towards hitting the space button and drinking potion occasionally.

At this point, there is not much variety: one location to get to level 5, then dungeon to get to progress further. It’s better to group up for that one, since monsters are getting tougher and much harder to kill.

Summary

From the development perspective, the game is in peculiar state: if the game is being actively marketed, there’s not much content to keep player’s playing. The thing that can definitely be improved is an early game: players gather most of impressions from it, and if they just need to roam around and simply grind right from the start (except for one quest) – a lot of people are going to be lured by awesome graphics and polish, but not many are going to stay.

If it was up to me – I’d add more early game content specifically and work on basic UI improvements: that way the players will be able to better see the promise the game shows and follow it closer. A few things that could definitely make it much more entertaining would be early early game location alternatives, active skills for all classes, UI that would allow selling loot quickly (after all, the game is about loot, right?). Essentially, focusing all effort on the early game, to improve retention (more active players means that new players will be able to find the party easier and form friendships, thus forming additional bond with the game world).

Kingdom of Loot is the game that shows a lot of potential, but feels like it went into early access too soon. Overall, keep your eyes open for this one, but wait before it actually leaves early access.

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Feature Image taken from the game store page, here

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

Vagrant - Indie Game Reviews 2017 Steam Screenshot

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

Disclaimer: Game is in Early access, lots of things are ought to change. Developers mentioned that there will be a lot of improvement and they encourage people to post their thoughts, comments and ask them anything in Steam community hub.

The Vagrant is a 2D Action / RPG game, where you take a role of a travelling sellsword on her own mission. Combat lots of different creatures and explore the world on a journey through medieval fantasy world.

The Good

Overall, the gameplay itself is great. Attack Sequences: Animations are well done and you can chain the combos quite easily. The attack combos are introduced gradually (through your talent tree, where you can look up what they do and the keys to use them), which gives you enough time to practice them. The controls are responsive and make it easy to perform attacks.

And the whole game actually follows this practice: the difficulty gradually increases, throwing easy monsters at the start and then becoming more challenging towards the end. The seasoned players won’t be bored at the beginning either: at every world, there are optional rooms with higher rewards and more challenging monsters.

There’s also a vast ability tree, or rather a circle. You can level up everything, as long as you have mana and find relevant items. For people who like to grind – this can be a perfect opportunity to max out all possible stats.

And finally, the graphics are nice. The backgrounds seem to be hand-drawn and overall very clean. The game has a very distinct medieval-fantasy feel. I can’t say anything bad about the music, it’s there and it’s not annoying nor repetitive, so I can say that it’s a plus.

The Bad

  • Can’t Skip the Cutscenes, there are not many of them, but sometimes when you die and have to redo it – it’s a pain.
  • Game Balance leaves some questions: potions are useless: they restore health, but have cooldown. Instead, you can open the equipment menu and use consumable food, that does the same and has no cooldown. There are even talents that reduce healing potion cooldowns. Why? You can essentially avoid that by just eating food (which is also encountered more often in game).
  • Translation shows errors now and then and then there are weird plot hole that I especially noticed: “everyone in the village got killed” – then you kill the boss – then everyone in the village (except for one house) is suddenly there again. The characters also seem to open up randomly: would you tell a random dude you’ve met a day ago that your father abandoned you? It’s up to you to judge.
  • Alright, I have to mention the breasts. Alright, I know there are fans of this style out there and I’m not here to complain about the size, but I can’t help but look at the heroine and ask “where’s the damn neck?” Breasts seems to be drawn too high, leaving no place for the clearly distinguishable upper chest and neck.

Summary

At its current state, the game is not perfect. The plot might not be that great and the character introductions are somewhat rushed, but the combat system and the gradual change of surroundings make it well worth it. The ability to chain combos flawlessly, customize your abilities / equipment, as well as difficulty being just right – that makes the game good and because of this I can confidently recommend it.

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Feature Image taken from the game store page, here

Rush Rover - Indie Game Reviews 2017 Steam Screenshot

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

Disclaimer: game is still in early access, some things are ought to change.

Rush Rover is a top-down 2d action/roguelite game. In the game, you control a robot that fights the other, “converted” AI bots. Each playthrough consists of multiple randomly generated rooms, and you must defeat 5 bosses to win the game. As you kill enemies, you level up and get to upgrade various abilities.

The Good

  • Content: enemies are very different, their movement paths and attacks require different type of maneuvering and dodging from you. Some rush towards you and you have to dodge, others shoot in circular patterns so you have to keep moving in-between bullets. In any case: standing in one place means certain death. The guns are also really interesting: some charge up before firing, the homing missiles lock on targets before flying towards them, the “wave” gun tries to fry the enemies in a cone pattern.
  • Skill-Based Gameplay: the drops are random, but damage is not. You have to dodge lots of bullets and fire accurately, otherwise you get obliterated. If you die – it totally feels like your fault, which is a great game design.
  • The game handles roguelite randomness really well: your initial weapon does not suck. It’s not terribly powerful, but you can upgrade it as you level up, so even if you don’t find a new one, you can still complete the game. In fact, I’ve completed my first run without actually changing the weapon.

The Bad

  • One playthrough is extremely short: it took me about 40 minutes to finish one game. It’s not easy so you won’t be able to do it on the first playthrough (probably), but it took me a bit more than 2 hours to finish the game for the first time.
  • The graphics are not that great: the animations are well-detailed, but the backgrounds do get repetitive after some time. The UI is also a bit clumsy, i.e. you can’t pause the game by pressing ESC, you have to open inventory and click “menu” there before the actual game menu opens.

Summary

Rush Rover seriously made me think about what makes the top-down shooter games good. Frankly, I have not felt this excited about top-down games since Enter The Gungeon. However, the game does some things much better than the former: namely, the room balancing. First, you can teleport from every room after you kill all enemies. Second, the room is always equally full of enemies. They won’t rush towards you. You need to start approach them, and then they attack you. This contributes to a feeling that every room is literally filled with enemies, but still leaves you space to maneuver.

At the time of this review, the game costs 5.99 EUR (or your regional equivalent) and I definitely recommended it, as it’s a great price for the entertainment that you are getting.

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Feature Image taken from the game store page, here

Super Stone Legacy - Indie Game Reviews 2017

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

EDIT: 30-second victory screen has been made significantly shorter, removed that point by request of developer since it was fixed.

Super Stone Legacy is an action game. You go through randomly-generated dungeon rooms and kill all enemies that you encounter. One thing that makes it distinguishable is amount of boss fights: you encounter the boss after clearing two or three rooms. That means one boss fight approximately every 5 minutes. I must say right away that I’m on the fence about this game. Here are the reasons why, starting from the good ones:

The Good

  • The gameplay loop is really well done. The room battles are very dynamic and it is where the game shines.
  • Six characters with different attack patterns (that can be switched during game time) add enough variety to make fights exciting.
  • Skill-Based gameplay. Not much of a random factor: rooms are randomly generated, but nothing else. It’s up to you to dodge enemy attacks / move properly.

The Bad

  • Shooting/attacking mechanics: you have to click every time to perform normal attack. Why not make it possible to hold the left button for continuous attacks? There are two more attack types, but it would be much nicer to see them bound to right clicking / holding right mouse.
  • No difficulty settings. Once you level up your character to 7+ level, get plenty of hp and study enemy attack patterns, the game becomes a grind, you just go through enemies and simply click lots of times to defeat them without fear of being killed.
  • One walkthrough takes about 1.5 hours. You don’t have much incentives to start another one. There are no unlocks or anything like that.
  • There is no save feature, meaning you have to complete the game in one run. 1.5 hours might not be too crazy, but the feature would help.
  • UI: You can not alt-tab and minimize the window. It stays on top of the display all the time. For those of you with two+ displays: you can not choose the display in Unity launcher, which seems weird, because other games made in Unity normally allow that.

 

Summary

The game battles are fun and you can’t take that away. On the other hand, there are terrible UI / UX issues and not that much replayability. You completed the game – now what? You can try again with the different characters, but chances are you’ve seen most of the bosses and the enemies will be the same, even if they will be appearing in the same sequence. Taking the bad sides into account, I suggest waiting for 66% discount or more before grabbing the game.

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Feature Image taken from the game store page, here

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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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