SteamWorld Dig 2 Steam Review Screenshot

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

About The Game

SteamWorld Dig 2 is a sequel to adventure-platformer that involved going underground and mining precious ores. In this game, the niece of the hero from the first part is trying to find him. The game expands the ideas from the first part: you still need to dig through the caverns, seek valuable resources, sell them and upgrade your gear while trying to uncover some plot mystery. But it’s all done in a way bigger scale.

I’m not talking about the size of the map (it has also increased), but the functionality as well: the arcade elements are there, but the game feels more like metroidvania now: apart from simple digging deep below, you get new locations like cultist temple, windy plains, human town. This all add flavor to the game and enhance the story.

Speaking about the story: it still feels pretty straightforward, but my impression was that it is not the main focus of the game. What the game succeeds at is aesthetics and progression, coupled with engaging gameplay. First, let’s talk about the aesthetics: the style is cartoonish and colorful, but that gives a very strong charm to the characters of the game. The backgrounds differ much more than they did in the first part, making locations distinguishable and much more memorable.

The gameplay

The main gameplay loop is at its height: gathering metals, ores, valuables deep down below is done in a very formidable way. The player is gradually introduces to new game features, be it grappling hook, drill or remote bombs. Those mechanic introductions are followed by new tasks that player needs to solve. It indicates that SteamWorld Dig 2 has a great game design. In the end, the game presents challenges, gives you the tools to solve them but does not throw a correct solution straight at your face, giving you time to think and fulfillment from solving riddles. The digging itself is very pleasant, the pickaxe sound + the rock crumbling are really well-done. It’s addictingly fun to go back to town and see the numbers grow.

Speaking about the riddles, there are special challenge rooms located around the map. If you finish them – you get cogs to upgrade your gear with various adjustments. Those rooms are well thought out, you won’t need to dig much there, but focus on solving situations that often require the use of newly-gained mechanic. On a negative side, this dilutes the digging experience (if you are more into that). To counter that argument, those challenge rooms are not exactly mandatory.

Also, the game is going to be as difficult as you want it to be. Apart from normal difficulty settings, there are special equipment addons that can make enemy battles much more challenging.

Honestly, I usually list the cons at this point but I could not find them here. Some mention the game is too short, but the completionists will find things to do nonetheless (challenge rooms + getting all secret objects that give special blueprints, there are 42 of them).

Summary

Overall, the game is a highly polished and pleasing experience and I can confidently recommend it to fans of the genre, especially to the people who loved the first part.

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Feature Image taken from the game store page, here

Vaporum Steam Screenshot

Genre: Dungeon Crawler / RPG
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: If you like Steampunk and/or enjoy Legend of Grimrock

About The Game

Vaporum is a grid-based dungeon crawler RPG in an original steampunk setting. It has this old-school dungeon crawling in first-person perspective. This is something you would encounter when playing the old Might and Magic games or the newer Legend of Grimrock series.
Your hero wakes up on an island in front of a mystic tower without any memory of who he is, what happened here and how he got here. Obviously, he decides to enter. That’s how the game begins.

Now, personally, the first thing I usually think about when I hear “dungeon-crawling” is turn-based, randomly generated level exploration. The game has neither: the levels are pre-defined and the combat happens in real time. The only thing that resembles turn-based gameplay is movement: you don’t get to move freely. Instead, the dungeon is split into tiles and you can move from tile to tile only. This constraint is done pretty seamlessly, so the movement limit won’t bother you.

The Gameplay

As I mentioned, the fights are in real-time: monsters have attack patterns and abilities, which you can remember and use to your advantage. When fighting the simplest ones – you can simply “dance” by moving forward one tile to attack and back one tile when they attack you, avoiding damage this way. The harder ones tend to move less predictably or have ranged attacks – so dodging will require considerably higher game expertise. This is where the game actually shines: you have a classical RPG-like inventory and levelling system, but those stats (depending on your chosen difficulty) are only an addition to your mechanical play skills. On higher difficulties, you can’t simply stand on one place, hit enemies and then use healing items. You’ll simply run out of repair kits and die.

The strong part of the game is immersion: the sounds fit the dark tower atmosphere well. The lightning is just about right: darker tones that allow you to see where are you going, but still make you feel like you are in the tower of evil. The level design supplements that: in this case you see how pre-defined levels have a clear advantage over randomly-generated content. You’ll be getting notes, “diaries,” that drive the plot forward. You’ll be hearing creepy noises while trying to figure out what happened. Levers, switches, keys – those are essential parts of your crawling experience. The puzzles that tower presents you are not complicated, but will still dilute the combat and give you some rest.

The game was marketed as “Legend of Grimrock” in Steampunk universe and it’s pretty much correct. Unfortunately, that also includes the flaws with camera controls. Turning happens by pressing the Q/E keys or holding middle mouse key and then dragging the mouse towards new direction. This is OK for exploration and puzzle solving. But in the midst of battle, this adds another set of buttons that delay your actions. One obvious solution would be to allow turning during the battles without keyholding, but alas, it’s not there.

Summary

Despite the high production quality, Vaporum definitely won’t be for everyone. Personally I find the mix between tile mechanics and real-time combat a bit awkward, but that should not deter you from the experience. If you enjoyed Legend of Grimrock – you are going to enjoy this game too. And because of the great immersion and skill-based, difficult combat, I highly recommend the game to legend of grimrock fans and those of you who look for more games in steampunk setting.

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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