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

3..2..1..Grenades! - Indie Game Reviews 2017

Genre: Action / FPS
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: No

About The Game

3..2..1.. Grenades! Is the game where you get to throw grenades like snowballs. Run around, pick the right trajectory and fight 3 other people in tons of different maps and gamemodes.

First, the good sides:

Lots of contents, maps, gamemodes – the creator of the game was very creative when he planned those things. Tiny mode, where characters are much smaller, paint the walls, throw the pug into basked, throwing the grenades to hit the targets faster than your opponents, etc. This really shows the dedication to creating new stuff.

The quest mode is done pretty well. How can deathmatch game implement it? The developer put the doors, locked by special “golden grenades.” Each door hides the passage to a room with new deathmatch mode. You get golden grenades by beating deathmatch challenges and gain golden grenades from that. That way you gradually get introduced to game modes while playing against bots.

The explosions are done well. In the game which is focused on throwing grenades, this is important. The slight screenshake, the explosion particle that turns into smoke – all of this really gives a good feel after blowing stuff up.

The Bad

Since there is no online multiplayer, you’ll be forced to play against bots most of the game. The bots are not terrible, but most of the time you can just corner them and spam left click and this will work. Because of that, the game gets boring fast, despite the abundance of game modes.

Also, one of the big problems with the game is the Menu UI: Why can I pick the blank profile (and then not start anything with it)? Then, when you pick a good one, you can’t actually start the game by clicking on buttons. You have to press enter after clicking on it. Video proof: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6t_kKjLZvA&feature=youtu.be . Also, if you are playing on keyboard and using WASD + Mouse, you’ll have to press Enter a lot for cutscene / intro skipping. This is not very convenient (your hands are on WASD and Mouse, right? So you have to take one off to press the Return key. It would be much better to allow pressing space / lmb to skip the cutscenes).

The graphics are meh. I understand that the game aims towards the retro feel, but the art style did not cut it for me. The weapons are OK, but I did not like the character models / textures.

Summary

Overall, I think the developer of the game just lacked experience. It’s his first game on Steam, it has some good points and was clearly done with care, but the lack of experience just brings it down. The clumsy UI brings down the enjoyment and the lack of online multiplayer quickly makes the games against bots pretty boring. I’m definitely looking forward to more games from Banyango, but I can’t recommend this one. It might be fun with local co-op, but for those of you who don’t get with friends often – I can’t recommend the game.

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Feature Image taken from the game store page, here

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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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

Battle Riders - Indie Game Reviews 2017 Steam Screenshot

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

Battle Riders is a racing game. Plot twist: there are also weapons involved. You race around in your car while trying to destroy other racers. There are multiple game modes and three bonus types (ammo, boost, health) spread across the tracks. While the premise sounds simple, the execution is surprisingly fun.

The Good

  • Old-School racing feel and great car handling. The car really feels good to control. And the game is just fun.
  • Decent AI opponents: the AI is not unbeatable, but you’ll definitely need to practice and you will get surprised a few times when it takes you down right before the finish line.
  • The car models are great: those feel like a battle cars on the track. The feeling of car weight is also there, which really makes you feel like you’re driving a heavy, albeit fast, vehicle.
  • The cars are also upgradable, which gives a sense of progression for the game.
  • The music and sounds are alright. It puts you in the racing mood + engine roar/tire screech is really well done which is detrimental for immersion in the racing game.

The Bad

  • No joystick/keyboard control in menu: you’ll have to put your controller down and navigate with mouse
  • Can Get Repetitive: there are 9 tracks for ~100 campaign levels. Might not seem that bad, but campaign split into 3 parts. First part only features 3 tracks. That means those 3 tracks repeat over 32 missions. Yes, I enjoyed riding on those tracks for the first ~5 times. After that: that’s the first time I seriously wished that the game I like was shorter rather than longer. And to get all tracks / cars in solo racing mode – you’ll need to grind through all these 100 levels.
  • The backgrounds are somewhat bland. There are track surroundings, but behind them it looks like an infinite empty space, especially noticeable in the city tracks.
  • Extra mention goes to the strongest weapon, railgun: the shot does good damage, but it not feel powerful at all. It’s just a small red dot that appears/disappears when you actually expect something like a railgun from quake 2, leaving a good trail of particles for a few seconds.

Summary

What surprised me about the Battle Riders is the car handling. It just feels really great to drive and succeed on turning. It reminded me of driving in Need For Speed 2 and Need for Speed 3 – when you get so excited that your body literally follows the cars turn direction (I’m sure you know that feeling if you played racing games when you were a kid). The only serious drawbacks is the lack of multiplayer (would be tons of fun) and a small variety of tracks: there are 9 tracks, multiplied by two (the reverse directions are also possible). It might sound a lot, but first 32 races happen on 3 of them and it really starts to feel somewhat grindy to go through the same road over and over again, even if it includes reversed tracks. Other than that – the description of the game mentions “adrenaline pumping, high octane action and a lot of fun” and I agree to it. Despite the flaws – I can strongly recommend the game. If you love racing games and aren’t afraid of practicing the same track over and over again – that’s the game for you. If you are simply looking for a good game but maybe lack patience – that’s also a solid choice, but wait for 50% discount.

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Feature Image taken from the Battle Riders store page, here

Lil Tanks - Indie Game Reviews 2017 Steam Game Screenshot

Genre: Shoot-em-up / Action
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: Yes, but wait for 50% discount

Disclaimer: I got the key for free

Lil Tanks is a retro-styled shoot-em-up. You control a tank and his smaller assistant and try to singlehandedly repel an alien invasion. One of the innovative things about the game is the small assistant that also shoots and follows you. Its movement is comparable to movement in a snake game: the head moves, the tail follows in its track.

Pros:

  • Nicely drawn enemies / backgrounds, the game has its own visual style
  • Intense gameplay, a lot of things are going on at the same time
  • Difficult, challenging
  • Good music / solid sounds
  • Four different tanks that can be levelled up, eventually increasing in power. Each has special ability that can be used to your advantage
  • Different enemies with different movement patterns

Cons:

  • Only 3 different bonus weapons, not much variety bonus-wise
  • Level 6 deserves an extra mention: drive for >1 minute almost without enemies
  • Enemies do not spawn randomly, but bonuses do: especially on level 5, your fate is decided by random: if you get flamethrower bonus in the beginning on the round, you’ll probably do much better than if you get it at the end

Summary

I’ve played for ~4 hours and got to level 6 (I did not complete it, but as I understand, this is the last one). I’ve beat 4 levels on hardcore mode before that, but the 5th was just too overwhelming and it felt more frustrating than rewarding. I still say the game is good, but with 6 levels I honestly did not feel like it has enough content to justify $9.99 price. I’d suggest waiting for 50% discount.

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Feature Image taken from the Lil Tanks store page, here

Jets'n'Guns Gold Game Review Screenshot

Genre: Action/Arcade/Shoot-Em-Up
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: 100% yes if you enjoy old-school games

Jets’n’Guns is a shoot-em-up/bullet hell game where you control your ship and try to get to the end of the level while completing various objectives. As the game progresses, you unlock new upgrades and ships. There are truly lots of upgrades and lots of ways to modify your ship, so you definitely won’t be bored.

Pros

  • Action-Packed gameplay
  • Plenty of upgrades, enemies won’t leave you bored
  • Lots of different levels, each requiring its own approach to complete (can’t blindly press fire key and hope that everything will work out)
  • Great Soundtrack
  • Adjustable difficulty, the game will be as hard as you want it to be
  • If you’ve played it in 2004 – it’s as good as it was in 2004

Cons

  • No way to know where the enemy appears
  • Controls/collissions can be a bit more responsive, sometimes it’s easy to ram into a non-square obstacle because you miscalculated the bounding box

In conclusion, I highly recommend the game. If you have not checked it out – do it! It barely looks aged, the 2d graphics are still appealing and that type of gameplay never gets old!
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Feature Image taken from Jets’n’Guns store page, here

8-Bit invaders! game review screenshot

Genre: Real-Time Strategy game
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: Yes

Pros

  • Distinct graphic style (not for everyone), which makes the game engaging and aesthetically pleasing to play
  • Shortcuts for every building (I mean, it’s not surprise anymore, but if you’ve played red alert – you know that one feature was missing there).
  • Fast-paced gameplay, requires mostly macro skills and multitasking.
  • If you liked the previous games – this one won’t disappoint you either.
  • If you are nostalgic about late 90’s – early 2000 RTS era, that’s the game to check out. It’s like Red Alert 2 in space.

Cons

  • Campaign starts somewhat slow (not much unit variety)
  • Old-time strategy feel. If you disliked C&C series (before RA3) – the game will probably disappoint you too.
  • Sometimes AI feels a bit dumb

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Feature Screenshot taken from 8-Bit invaders store page, here