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

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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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

Adventuring Gentleman - Indie Game Reviews 2017 Steam Screenshot

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

Adventuring Gentleman is a steampunk roguelite platformer. You start your game as a gentleman in a club room: there are multiple other chaps sitting there and telling you the news (aka quests). As soon as you pick your quest: you are taken on adventure, where you need to clean 5, 10, or 15 rooms and defeat a boss. After clearing each room from enemies, you can choose a bonus which improves your weapon or your character. It can be double-jump, flight, double shot, explosive shot, etc. If you kill the boss at the end of the quest – the pool of random bonuses is increased. This improves your chances to beat the next bosses: after all, the unlocked bonuses are more powerful.

Pros

  • The enemy killing process is fun: jumping on platforms, charging your gun and killing weird enemies turns out to be awesome
  • Skill-based, challenging and adapting gameplay: most enemies are not easy to beat. You’ll have to dodge projectiles masterfully in order not to get damage. The bonus choice matters, it will affect your play style, so you can influence how each quest walkthrough plays out.
  • Amazing style and enemy variety: the game author has a great imagination and enemies won’t leave you bored: fly with a musket, robot-waiter carrying the bombs, giant mushrooms, tin soldier that uses a ballerina as a gun and much more.
  • Great Victorian-inspired atmospheric music and sounds.
  • Steampunk Style: the steampunk is pretty much underrepresented in games, so kudos to game author for making a good one.

Cons

  • Some enemy attack preparation animations are not long enough or not noticeable enough. This usually is not a problem, but this will bring you a few frustrating moments
  • When you unlock the flight bonus and pick it: controls get clunky, to the point of damaging the gameplay experience and not feeling like a drawback
  • The game is mostly about the core gameplay (not much plot): if you enjoy the run-jump-gun mechanics – the game is for you, as this turns out much cooler than it sounds like. If you’re into the games for stories – this one probably ain’t for you.
  • The style is a double-edged sword: it is well done, but you’ll either love or hate it, no middle ground

Summary

I’m really happy that I’ve discovered Adventuring Gentleman: the art and music make a great atmosphere in favor of Victorian setting. The gameplay might seem simple, but it’s easy to learn and hard to master. The good game design is also there: the player is given a real choice how to build his character, allowing to strategize between shooting and making important choices that affect the play style. Despite the flaws with some enemy animations, I loved Adventuring Gentleman and highly recommend it.

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Feature Image taken from the Adventuring Gentleman store page, here

Rain World - Indie Game Reviews 2017 Steam Screenshot

Genre: Survival/Platformer/Adventure
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: No

Disclaimer: I got the key for free

In Rain World, you play as a small animal, slugcat, which got separated from his family (pack?). Wander through post-apocalyptic world, where you are both a hunter and a prey. Avoid larger animals that try to hurt you and try to gather fruit / smaller animals for you to sustain yourself. I really had high hopes for the game and tried to like it. Admittedly, it gave a lot of reasons to do that.

Pros

  • Great post-apocalyptic styled graphics, amazing backgrounds
  • Amazingly, responsive controls
  • Immersive ambient sounds that create a unique atmosphere
  • Cool innovative style, which tries to mimic a real eco-system. To add to that, it is somewhat supplemented with a physics mode, where bodies behave according to the in-game laws of physics
  • Vast world to explore

Cons

But after 3 hours of playing, I had to throw in the towel. What went wrong? Obviously a game like this must be a no-brainer to pick? For me, what spoiled the fun is terrible punishment for death with no way to cancel it. Here’s how the game “levelling” system works: the level is not written explicitly, but every time you rest, there’s a symbol that “bumps” upward. To enter some areas, they require that symbol to be at the certain height (that’s why I call it level). You gain levels by catching lesser animals (sometimes spread through different rooms). To gain one level, you need to get 4 types of food and then find the resting place. Sounds reasonable and fair so far. The catch is: whenever you die, you lose one level.

Difficulty

Bear in mind, I don’t mind the unforgiving combat / hunting difficulty, because it fits the harsh world perfectly. The hunt and hide mechanics are nothing short of excellent and they throw you in a world where the tides can change in a second: at first you hunt, then you become the prey. There’s just this anti-pattern of game design that grinded my gears: heavily punishing the player for death in a game that requires player to explore, meet lots of dangers and actually die quite a lot (from developer’s press release: “Rain World is truly a brutal place, and it is important to accept that death is an inevitable part of life.”). Well, I could accept it if it did not have this way of punishing me with repetitive grind for food in order to get to where I was (and probably lose it again). That’s where frustrations began and fun ended.

It could be easily fixed: add an “easy” mode option that does not take the level upon death and I’m sure I’d enjoy the game more. But since there’s no such thing – the game really became a repetitive experience with focus on mostly hunting the same stuff instead of exploring the world (due to the risk of losing everything). If you like incredibly punishing games – get it, you won’t be disappointed, because the gameplay execution is actually great. If you hate the feeling of losing your hard-earning level progress once you die (and then repetitively grinding to get it back) – this game is not for you.

Summary

Again, I loved the rest of the game, but I have no idea how this change came through and what was intended with it (if there’s a comment from developer: I’ll gladly publish it beneath the review; I don’t mind being wrong – I actually want to be wrong this time, because I want to like this game). For now though – I can not recommend it to anyone due to frustrating death mechanics.

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Feature Image taken from the Rain World store page, here

Badass Hero - Indie Game Reviews 2017 Steam Screenshot

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

Badass Hero is a roguelite platformer where the action hero under your control goes through the comic book universe. The game is well styled: each level is shaped like comics which you traverse, „picture by picture”. There’s a lot of action going on and the game rewards you being fast: as you kill enemies, your combo meter goes up. The death is inevitable, but as you die, you get a chance to improve your character, making further walkthroughs much easier. During each playthrough, you have a chance to find armor / weapons. You lose them when you die, but they greatly affect how far can you go.

Pros:

  • Action packed gameplay
  • Plenty of items like armor / potions
  • Very-well polished/juiced: even basic weapons feel awesome to shoot, lots of effects on hits, gore, explosions
  • Responsive character controls, which is very important for the genre
  • World is generated randomly, but there are good room variety so the room layouts do not feel boring

Cons:

  • Not much weapon variety so far (yes, stats are generated randomly (I think), but shooting patterns do not differ much: gun, smg, shotgun, bazooka, grenades)
  • Only 3 worlds planned, with 2 first ones available (they have plenty of enemies, but backgrounds get repetitive pretty quickly)

Summary

One of the biggest achievements of the game, in my opinion, is the way that authors dealt with random element. In roguelites, you often feel cheated when the random is against you. Since initial weapon is not bad and killing enemies is pretty much skill based, there’s no feeling that you are getting dealt a bad hand, which is really commendable.

I think that’s a great game for anyone who’s into Roguelite Platformers. Definitely grab it if you liked Rogue Legacy. At its current state, the game gave me ~3.5hours of fun gameplay (I completed the first world a few times, and since the second world is not really complete – I’m putting it in a box until it is done).

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Feature Image taken from the Badass Hero store page, here

Bleed 2 Steam Game Screenshot

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

Disclaimer: I got the key for free. But I’m going to buy a copy and send it to a friend, just because I think the game is amazing.

Welcome back to Short Indie Game Reviews 2017, and today I’m going to review the game called “Bleed 2.” Bleed 2 is an action game by Ian Campbell. The game features air-dodging, bullet-reflecting and tons of bosses. What makes the game so amazing is how dynamic it is. The feeling of unstoppable movement forward will capture you at the start of the game and won’t be releasing you until you finish it. If any game can be described as “action packed”, this is the one.

Pros:

  • Constant movement, amazingly dynamic gameplay: crazy tripple jumps that make up for a fast playstyle
  • LOTS of Interesting Bosses: be it a truck that keeps jumping on the road, the rotating particle emitter that affects the physics of all enemy objects of the screen or the cowboy on the flying board.
  • Cool pixel-art style that has a great old-school feel to it.
  • From easy to incredibly hard: there’s a difficulty for everyone. Changing them remarkably affects the feel from the gameplay. When I picked normal, it felt like walk in a park / play through just to see what happens next. When I picked “hard” – the game became a real challenge, it was really hard to survive without using slow-motion.
  • Good replayability (new characters / loadouts / mutators)

Cons:

  • Controls on gamepad take some time to get used to, were not really convenient for me
  • Dying does not feel punishing at all: I died mostly during the boss fights, and then I would respawn with full hp, making it much easier. (Counter argument: there are different difficulty levels which make the game more challenging, but respawning still remains the same)
  • One playthrough is extremely short (might be an advantage for some)
  • If Joystick is connected, it will be shaking (even if you are playing from keyboard)

 

I personally suggest playing the game with mouse + keyboard, but apart from the gamepad controls and dying, there’s not much else. Other than that – the game is awesome. I absolutely love the game and really recommend grabbing it right away. I’m serious. Never have I been as positive about suggesting a game as this time. Hell, my girlfriend liked the game and she normally avoids arcades with lots of shooting like plague.

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Feature Image taken from the Bleed 2 store page, here

Rise & Shine Steam Game Screenshot

Genre: Action-Arcade/Platformer/Puzzle
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: Definitely Yes

Disclaimer: I got the game key for free (spoiler alert: it’s hard to overestimate the game, it’s great).

Rise & Shine is an action-adventure platformer with a mix of puzzles, where you control the hero, Rise, and his gun, Shine, both of them trying to save the Gamearth. The name is not accidental: the game world of rise & shine is filled with game references. You’ll have to dash through the cities, dungeons, board the flying ship and participate in various fights against the army of evil grunts. Most of the game will be spent shooting enemies, but there’s also place for puzzles: you have to use different bullet types and mods to get through the obstacles and uncover the path forward.

Pros

  • Action-Packed, engaging gameplay
  • Challenging
  • Lots of Game references
  • Absolutely Stunning Graphics (especially backgrounds – probably the best backgrounds I’ve ever seen)
  • Smooth controls
  • Just good amount of small puzzles: enough to keep the gameplay diverse, not enough to bore you.

Cons

  • Short (took me about 3h to complete)
  • Not much of a weapon variety (2 bullet types x 3 mods) – but maybe it’s not necessary, those are enough to get you through the game

Summary

Overall, I’d highly recommend the game. The only reason you’d want to stay away from this one is if you really dislike shorter games. Otherwise, it’s an engaging experience that takes you through multiple different levels, filled with game references and puzzles. You can see that the developers put their soul into the game, sparing no effort to make it amazing.

Have something to add? Make sure to join our Steam group, http://steamcommunity.com/groups/coldwild

Feature Image taken from the Rise & Shine store page, here