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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Spaceship Looter - Indie Game Reviews 2017 Steam Screenshot

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

Disclaimer: the game is in early access, some things will probably change

Spaceship Looter is an action-roguelite. The premise is simple: your character visits abandoned spaceships to pick the abandoned goods there. The game is a mix between “Enter the Gungeon” and “Nuclear Throne”: lots of shooting, using the environment to dodge / kill monsters, some unlocks and money for upgrade purchases.

Pros

  • Great style, the game’s colorful pixel-art is pleasant to look at
  • Dynamic gameplay: small movement space and interactions with environmental destructibles make sure that you keep moving all the time
  • Challenging Difficulty: the game is not easy; good for hardcore players, but probably better avoided by casual players
  • Responsive movement / shooting controls

Cons

  • Performance is linked directly to your screen refresh rate: on my G-Sync 120hz monitor the game ran at double speed, making it essentially unplayable
  • The interactive obstacles sometimes fail to respond in time when you press E button (you just really need to be close to them, but it’s easy to miss this interval)
  • As with lots of these games, you can get screwed by random: some rooms get too much enemies and not enough obstacles or are too small; that makes it impossible to leave them undamaged

Summary

The game solves the problem that Enter The Gungeon had: Spaceship Looter has small rooms and that ensures that you get more action-packed fights and less movement. Right now, the game focuses on core game loop: the plot is close to nonexistent, just run, gun and use your surroundings wisely. There’s really not much else behind the gameplay process, but it’s well polished and addictive. If you don’t mind the lack of plot and consider yourself a seasoned gamer looking for an extra challenge – go for it, you won’t be disappointed

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Feature Image taken from the Spaceship Looter store page, here

Has-Been Heroes - Indie Game Reviews 2017 Steam Screenshot

Genre: RPG / Strategy / Roguelike (which is actually Puzzle / Roguelike)
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: Yes

“Has-Been Heroes” is a game from studio “Frozenbyte” – famous for its Trine 1 and Trine 2 games. I’m not mentioning it just because I want to: in my perception, Frozenbyte is a studio that is not afraid to take chances and experiment with the gameplay. The same is true for Has-Been heroes. In the game you play as retired (or actually dead) heroes, trying to escort the princesses to the academy. One unfortunate event happens though: the evil awakened in the kingdom and is actively trying to disturb you. Apart from the original premise of retired heroes – the plot is pretty cliché and very secondary. The premise of the academy seems to be forgotten entirely, since every play through is about killing the final boss.

The game offers an interesting and innovative line-based battle system: when one of your heroes attack, the game freezes. You can move another hero to attacker’s spot and attack again. All monsters have armor (called stamina), which you need to destroy in order to deal any damage. The catch is: every one of your heroes attacks different amount of times. Knight – once, monk – twice, rogue – three times. To be most effective, you need to score hits on the monsters that _exactly_ match their armor, otherwise it is regenerated. That leads to the gameplay that is based on effectiveness.

Pros

  • Awesome mix of puzzle / rpg / roguelike that is fun to play. Really innovative “attack optimization” mechanics are well thought out.
  • Tons of unlocks. I’ve played for about 8 hours and I maybe unlocked 20% of items / spells and less than 25% of all heroes.
  • Pretty graphics with its own style
  • Nice sounds and music
  • Challenging difficulty and skill-based gameplay. The more you play – the more you notice how much further you can actually go

Cons

  • Tutorial is seriously lacking. How do combos work? Why some attacks end up dealing more damage than another (even if armor has been broken)? The synergy between heroes is also not shown well, so when the game starts – you will most certainly lose fast, thinking that it’s too difficult.
  • It can get repetitive: in essence, this game fighting is all there is. For me: it has been pretty cool, but if you are looking for something more than awesome gameplay mechanics (plot? Detailed game world?) – you’ll be disappointed.

Summary

The game by itself has not been getting enough attention – which I think is a shame. Partly I think because the game description positions itself as a roguelike/rpg, where in truth is more like a puzzle game with a huge roguelike influence. It’s not a game for everyone, but if you enjoy puzzle games focused on optimization – this one is for you. I loved Has-Been heroes and I can recommend it to anyone looking for a mix of puzzle/rpg games with fighting systems. It fits perfectly for those who love combat but want something more.

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Feature Image taken from the Has-Been Heroes store page, here

Domina - Indie Game Reviews 2017 Steam Game Screenshot

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

Disclaimer: the game is in early access.

Domina is the game you’re probably not going to complete. You can still enjoy it though. In Domina, you play as a wealthy woman who inherited her failing estate from the dying father. Having nothing to lose, she goes into “gladiator fighting business”. You have 365 days to prepare your gladiators for major tournament, all while training and participating in other fights (and also trying not to go broke).

Pros

  • Gladiator fights. With lots of gore.
  • You have a choice to control your gladiator directly or to watch how ai fights. Total chill. Exciting in both cases. Compare it to playing football or watching a match on tv. Both fun, but in different ways. Gladiator controls are smooth and responsive, but the hits / movement speed depend on how well-trained your gladiator is.
  • A lot of gladiator management opportunities: you need to train gladiators, buy equipment, upgrade your villa, and appease government officials.
  • Epic sounds and music
  • Nice pixel-art graphics that fit the violent atmosphere of the game perfectly.

Cons

  • No save games. The game does not save progress on exit. It’s a management game where you have to go through the year (2+ hours of gameplay) without being able to quit and return to this again later.

Essentially, the game is a black box. You have the description of stats that you train, but there are 3 gladiator classes available. To add to that, each gladiator has 3 parameters (aggro / turtle / evasion – which give an idea what they mean, but no way to understand what works best when picking the class without lots of experimentation). In my eyes, it’s not a con. If you want the game that leads you by hand – it’s not one of those.

Summary

Well guys, there’s no going around it: lack of save feature seriously takes away enjoyment from the game. Honestly, the lack of save-games is a huge let-down. I’ve completed it once in a loss, took me 2 hours and I did not participate in any extra combats (pit fights) + did not spend much time going into gladiator stats in detail. I’m not judging the developer, just saying my view from the third-person perspective: it’s like he made a most precious jewel and then choose to drown it in dirt. Everything in the game is great, but the lack of save system spoils it. For a lot of people – that’s a huge decisive factor and I understand.

Having that in mind, I cannot say that the game is bad. I really feel like the game does a top-notch job to simulating the gladiator fights. “Mixed” reviews show the essence very well. To me, the game was fun to start every time (about 6-7 that I’ve played, but I lost quite fast). The losing was pretty fun too: you just look how gladiators fight and then yours die off. If you want to complete the game and don’t have 2+ free hours when you can concentrate – don’t even think about it. If you just want to see cool gladiator combat – train your gladiators OR have extra time – A+, absolutely worth it.

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Battle Brothers - Indie Game Reviews 2017 Steam Screenshot

Genre: Turn-Based Strategy / Tactical RPG / Management
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: Absolutely Yes

Disclaimer: I got the key for free.

Battle Brothers has recently left early access, thus marking a full-featured release of long-developed game. Battle Brothers is a mix of a management game / turn-based strategy game where you lead a band of mercenaries in (somewhat) randomly-generated fantasy world. The campaign sets a defined goals that you need to reach, but it’s up to you how you prioritize them. First and foremost: the game is narrative based, expect to read a lot of background stories about your mercenaries, detailed quest discussions. Despite that, it does not really get annoying: if you want to skip the bios of your soldiers and quest texts while just enjoying combat/management – you can do that too.

Pros

  • Great tactical combat with lots of depth: there are a lot of factors that can influence how the combat goes. Troop morale, wounds / status effects, terrain, all can influence the end result. The positioning matters: you want your units to be placed on higher ground for better chance to win.
  • Lots of content: a lot of places to explore, cities to visit, treasures to find and fights to fight.
  • Captivating narrative: there are stories all around you, each one of your squad members have a story and random generator is really doing a good job in creating a believable narratives.
  • Most importantly, the game is just fun to play. The story telling aspects, combined with spectacular turn-based combat and lots of mercenary customization option makes a great mix of game mechanics, essentially bringing us an amazing game.

Cons

  • The tutorial is not nearly enough. To become somewhat good at the game in combat – you’ll need to watch videos (at least I needed to do it). Not a huge problem, because in this type of games, there’s so much to do that it’s hard to get into how things work at first.
  • No way to compare items: you need to check manually what your mercenary is wearing before equipping the item.
  • As with most of the team-management games, after you get a lot of people – it becomes really hard to manage them. You need to equip your mercenaries, make sure to choose the right stats / perks, which can get tedious after a while (especially if you have close to 20 people in your squad).

 

Summary

Battle Brothers is a perfect example of Early Access game done right: since the time early access started, the game has seen a lot of patches based on user feedback. In the end we get mature, finished product that is very engaging. With the text adventures comparable to Sunless Sea and mercenary management comparable to Mount and Blade – you get a fun mix of both, wrapped in a deeply thought-out turn-based gamplay. If you enjoy playing turn-based / tactical rpg games, this game is not to be missed.

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Feature Image taken from the Battle Brothers store page, here

Holy Potatoes! We're in Space?! Game Screenshot

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

Disclaimer #1: I got the key for free
Disclaimer #2: This one won’t be that short
Disclaimer #3: The game is close to release, but it is still work in progress and I had a preview version

„Holy Potatoes! We’re in space?!” offers a new take on a space exploration game. I suppose comparisons to “Faster Than Light” are inevitable, so let’s get this out first: similar to FTL, you control a ship that must traverse galaxies and the time is running out. Similar to FTL, you encounter various events and enemies. Similar to FTL, you recruit your crew, each one of them has their own strengths and weaknesses. Similar to how you loved FTL, you are going to love this game. They are different games though.

The ideas might be the same, but the execution definitely differs. ”Holy Potatoes! We’re in space?!” is west-meets-east kind of game, that mixes the game development styles from both sides of the world and keeps the best parts of them. Although there’s plenty of randomness, it’s not really a roguelike like FTL: the game is more plot / objective driven. You explore the space on your starship, taking turns to move from one galaxy to another. Each galaxy has a hub, something like a shop/upgrade center, where you can buy craftable item blueprints, crafting resources, weapons, upgrade your ship modules and hire more crew.

Indie Game Review 2017 - Holy Potatoes! We're in Space?! Ship Interior

After you visit the hub, you can travel to new planets and explore them, that’s where the main gameplay takes part. Exploration is just a series of events, from simple random quest encounters to enemies. The combat is turn-based (think JRPG turn based): your ship has multiple weapons, each one controlled by a crew member, and you may choose what weapons to use. You can also assign shield to your ship components or use special abilities.

Pros:

  • Unique Style, universe based on humor and lots of game and popular culture references
  • Interesting gameplay with lots of variety, game is really fun to play, the great blend of different mechanics really makes the game stand out
  • Depth of micromanaging, lots of things to do: crafting/ship parts/crew/weapons
  • Lots of items / craftables to customize your ship
  • Plenty of random events and enemy encounters

Cons:

  • The style / humor is not for everyone: I personally like it, but if you’ve played the other game (“Holy Potatoes! A weapon shop?!”) and did not like the style/humor – chances are you won’t like this one too.
  • The battles can get a bit repetitive: after all, you’re just firing the weapons at enemy and he fires back
  • Minor one, but had some issues with tutorial (notified the developers); as the game has lots of gameplay elements, it’s pretty easy to get lost in UI at first. It gets much easier later on though.

 

Overall, while I would not call this game a spiritual successor to FTL, I must say that it scratches that same „FTL itch” we all had after finishing the game. The game offers a unique take to the mechanics and Daylight studios do not disappoint with their execution: everything is well thought out and polished, the game is fun to play. It’s a great mix of genres, offering great depth of micromanagement paired with exciting RPG battles. Because of that, I highly recommend the game.

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Everspace Steam Game Screenshot

Genre: Space Action/Roguelike
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: Yes, if you enjoy space actions/roguelites

If you would ask me to give a brief description of Everspace, I’d instantly say that it’s a mix between Freelancer and Rogue Legacy. You travel from sector to sector of the galaxy via hyperspace jumps, kill the enemies and gather equipment to get to your goal (which is intentionally vague). The game is not open space, there is a route that you must follow. After you die – you have to start from scratch. However, you get to keep your money so you can upgrade your ship post-death and make the next run smoother.

Pros

  • Responsive ship controls using keyboard and mouse, decent space dogfighting combat
  • Great replayability: after you die, you get to equip the ship for the next run and try to do better
  • Amazing graphics: space seems very vivid
  • Challenging: you won’t go far during your initial runs, but that’s perfectly fine.
  • The missions/small challenges add focus to the gameplay
  • Innovative mechanics that work quite well: I think that’s the first combination of roguelike and space sim, have to give props to dev for making it work.

Cons

  • At this stage, the game can get a bit repetitive. Initial levels don’t offer enough variety. It often feels like you are going on the same track when you fly through them. (And you’re going to fly through them a lot!)
  • Looting often feels like a tedious job – flying from point to point just to shoot asteroids / crystals can get you bored. The upside is that you don’t have to hunt for resources, but you are greatly reducing your chances to have a good run.
  • Like with lots of roguelikes out there, you can get screwed by the gods of random, ensuring an unfavorable setup against you. You might get no decent weapon drops/overwhelming enemy numbers, that ultimately leads to your demise.

Everspace Review Summary

If you enjoy either permadeath roguelites or space action games – this one is for you. The space dogfights combined with permadeath/improvement mechanics will keep you entertained for some time. I’d probably suggest waiting for full release tho – the game is enjoyable as it is, but the developer promises much more content later on. If you don’t like idejas of permadeath and dying a lot and starting from scratch to achieve your objective – skip  this one.

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Feature Image taken from the Everspace store page, here

Death Skid Marks Game Review Screenshot

Genre: Action/Roguelite
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: Yes, but wait for 50% discount (under 5 EUR/USD)

Get to the concert! Today I am going to review Death Skid Marks, a game with a good mix of action/roguelike with lots of cultural references and crude humor. Drive your car and crush your enemies while trying to arrive at the concert you wanted to attend. Meanwhile, upgrade your car and the crew, encounter various enemies and challenges on the road.

Pros

  • Simple, but engaging gameplay
  • Roguelike elements (random factor on upgrading chars / car / getting tasks)
  • Action packed, something’s going on all the time
  • Distinct style, great interface, you spend less time customizing your car and more time playing

Cons

  • Bosses just wreck you at first (no tips even if you die lots of time killing them). Those are really hard, very big contrast to random encounters.

In conclusion, I have to say that the game is great, but it really is not a game for kids, lots of swearing and alcohol/drug references.

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Feature Screnshot taken from Death Skid Marks store page, here

Overfall Game Review Screenshot

Genre: Turn-Based Strategy/RPG
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: Yes.

Game Mechanics

Overfall is somewhat of a mix between roguelike and tactical rpg. The interesting thing is that the game remains plot driven. With about 15000 copies sold on Steam, I do think this game can be called a hidden gem.

First and foremost, the turn-based combat is challenging and interesting: each unit has 3 turn phases, units must combine their abilities to optimize damage output. Furthermore, the AI does not relent, the difficulty is challenging (well, as challenging as you want it to be) and won’t leave you bored and yawning.

Content

Now, I must honestly say that I suck at this game. After 40 hours of gameplay, I could not unlock most of the spells and alternative weapons, but the game is still fun. Amazing content literally floods the game, every character has multiple weapons, each with its own skills. There are also secondary  skills and trinkets, which are unlocked separately for each character. Overall, I think the game has more than 200 different unlocks, which make it extremely diverse.

I’ve had occasional bugs with some of the game events, like being unable to lose a tournament, but nothing too major that would make me quit. In conclusion, I would definitely recommend the game at its full price.

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Feature Screenshot Image taken from the Ovefall Presskit, here
Here’s the full review: