Author: Alex Patterson

Review: INSIDE

If you enjoyed the 2010 Puzzle platformer, Limbo, then you’ll almost definitely like Inside too.

The game plays almost identical. Puzzles and platforming are all physics-based, and react exactly how you would expect them to. Apart from walking, you only use two buttons. Jump, and interact. The interaction button is to simply grab and pull/push an object.

One of the best thins about the game is the atmosphere. It’s dark, gloomy, mysterious and interesting. Although the game has colour and lights now, it’s still just as atmospheric as Limbo, if not more. The fact that there is no HUD, and never any text on the screen helps that tremendously. You are never hand-held. You’re smart, and have played enough games to be able to figure out the mechanics and puzzles on your own, so the game lets you.

I really love the puzzles in this game. It sometimes brings up previous puzzle ideas and mechanics multiple times, but then reiterates them to make them more challenging. However, the game also introduces new and interesting obstacles throughout the game to keep things fresh.

There’s no music or ambiance in the game, only sound effects, which continues to add to the atmosphere. The graphics are quite stylized, with faceless people and dark colour palettes. The animations are really great, and there are a lot of small details that make the characters and world feel more alive. I haven’t encountered any moment where the character model looks like it’s being controlled by a player. It’s almost like watching an animation. Particularly in the underwater or generator locations. The sound design by itself is a triumph and prides itself on being non-invasive, ever-present, and almost ghost-like.

As for the story, it’s sprinkled a little bit throughout the game, and you learn more by just observing your surroundings, and completing puzzles. There’s nothing like notes or audio logs, which is great.

There are collectibles which serve as extra puzzle rooms if you happen to find them. They’re quite decently hidden, but feel very rewarding once you complete them, since it’s less like “pick up this object”, and more like “here have more fun gameplay for finding this”.

Overall, I love the game. Although the game is very high quality-wise, I beat it in about 5 hours including exploration to find secrets. Reasonable length that gets mileage out of intelligent puzzles and varied game mechanic.

The simple way to know if you would be interested in getting this, is asking yourself how much you liked Limbo. If you want more, then this is exactly that. If you haven’t played Limbo, then I would suggest trying it, and Inside, as I think most people will have a lot of fun with both games. Very fun, and polished games with a fantastic atmosphere!


Review: Necropolis

The first thing I want to say is if you enjoy Dark souls, Lords of the Fallen or any other similar game, you know what you’re getting into with this game. It plays very similarly in a lot of aspects. Although simpler, and not in a bad way.

When it comes to melee combat, you can choose between a weak but fast attack, or a strong but slow one. On top of that, you can charge both to unleash a deadly combo of very powerful hits.

However, none of that is free. You have a stamina bar that recharges very quickly, but slow enough to not allow you to spam attacks. As you sprint, jump and attack your character will become exhausted. This reduces the size of your stamina bar, and in turn reducing the amount of stamina you can recharge. You can increase your stamina bar back to normal by eating food. Depending on the food, you will increase more or less stamina. You may also take a risk and eat rotten food, which will not grant you much stamina, and has a chance of making your character vomit, leaving you vulnerable to attack, but it’s a good option for desperate situations.

You also have the ability to dodge attacks, as well as block them with you shield, or shield bash enemies to knock them over. You may also replace your shield with projectile weapons.

As mentioned earlier, this game is simpler than most, and I personally enjoy it. You don’t have to spend time upgrading yourself, or checking the stats of weapons and gear. Everything is split into tiers. If you find a sword that is tier 2, it’s better than your tier 1 weapon. Simple as that. Now you can simply decide based on looks, or small custom attributes like fire effects on the weapon.

So the game is relatively rogue-like in the sense that every time you die, the entire world is reset and randomized. This doesn’t mean you find completely random layouts. It’s more like the developers created a set number of rooms, and the game randomly puts them together, and then fills them with random enemies & weapons. It’s good enough for a few playthroughs, but then can get stale after a while.

Even though you technically lose everything when you die, you can get credits for completing quests that the game gives you, which you may then use to purchase permanent items that will carry over playthroughs. Things like dyes for your clothes, or a codex. A codex is a passive upgrade that you can equip onto you character to do minor things like cheapen prices on stores, or jump higher. Barely game changing, but it’s nice to feel like you haven’t lost EVERYTHING when you die.

If you play the game in Co-op, it’s much more fun in my opinion. If you lose all of your health, you will be downed. Your partner has a bit of time to fight off some enemies and then come revive you for no cost at all for both of you. This can happen as many times as you want. However, if your partner does not revive you in time, you will lose all of the gear you carried, as well as your money, and re spawned nearby. I personally think this is a pretty good system, as it’s a decently balanced penalty. Although you can easily find some good gear again, it punishes you in case you found a super rare weapon or armor, and it will take you quite a bit of time to regain all that money you lost, which was quite valuable. It can also create for more co-operation between teammates because they can craft and drop items for you since you lost all of your stuff.

Speaking of crafting, it’s quite a simple system. When you kill enemies, you gather money and crafting materials. Simply clicking on a recipe in you inventory will craft that item, as long as you have the needed materials. That’s it. You can craft any item as many times as you want. As long as you have the recipe and the materials. There are tonnes of unique potions and bombs you can create to tide the battle over to your side.

Something I love about the game is that when you pick up a magic scroll or potion in the world, it won’t be identified to you. You have no idea what it’s attributes are until you drink/use it, or use a “scroll of identification”. This means that you could drink a potion and gain super strength, or be paralyzed right where you stand. It adds an interesting aspect where you aren’t sure if you want to risk drinking an unknown potion during battle because it could help save or ruin you.

The game isn’t as difficult as it makes itself sounds. You will die a few times, and it isn’t easy, but I beat it with one friend of mine in around 5 tries. It was a super fun playthrough, and I can’t wait to play it again with even more friends, but I won’t be getting back to it immediately due to the fact that it does need a little bit more variety in between multiple playthroughs. I’m hoping the devs will add even more monsters, rooms and loot in the future. It’s by no means empty, as it has quite a good variety, and a lot of surprises that will really come out of nowhere. I jumped quite a few times when I wasn’t expecting something.

I need to mention the stylized aesthetic. I personally love it. It’s got a dark atmosphere and the world and characters look very cool. Despite that, the game actually manages to sprinkle in a bit of humor too. The lore you find on walls, or descriptions of items can have a few jokes, which can be funny, but sometimes slightly frustrating. The point is to make you try figure out what some items do without being too straight forward, and I like that, but I felt like some descriptions were a little bit too vague. Just a little.

Also I love the soundtrack of the game. It really sets me in the environment and mood. Really great job!

Overall, I am really surprised to see the “mixed” steam store reviews at the time of writing this. Sure, the game has a few problems but overall I really had a blast playing it.

I personally got a review copy for this game, and want to mention that it in no way affects my opinion. I’m always honest, and have given countless negative reviews to games.

I want to point out though, that if I hadn’t gotten that copy, I probably wouldn’t have played this game so soon, as I think the full asking price is a bit high. 30 Euros or your regional equivalent is a little bit too high in my opinion. I’m sure the amount of work put into this game justifies it, and it really is a great and polished game for the most part, but I just didn’t get enough time out of it to justify that price.

Another issue is I don’t think I would have had anywhere near as much fun if I played through solo. It’s a fun game, but can get repetitive at times. It’s definitely not often, but sometimes you will find yourself grinding just a bit. I didn’t get bored for a second playing with my friend, and it’s not just because of his company. It’s an entertaining game, but I’m sure I would have felt a bit worn out on my own.

Finally, my biggest complaint. When playing in Co-op, you can’t both access shops at the same time. It’s just a big waste of time. Me and my friend need to take turns waiting for each other to browse the shop selection and make our purchases. I would love if they updated the game to allow all players to talk to the store owner at the same time.

Overall, I really had a blast playing through the game and look forward to my next playthrough. If you enjoy Dark souls or any other game that plays similarly, then you will enjoy this as long as you know going into it that it is simplified in a few aspects.

Review: Hide and Shriek

Hide and Shriek is a competitive multiplayer game where both players are invisible. Two players fight eachother in a creepy school, with the aim of scaring the living hell out of their opponent.
To win the game, you either have to earn the highest score at the end of the 10 minute round by collecting orbs and setting traps, whereas the second option is to scare your opponent 3 times in a row.

The catch is you are both invisible. There are multiple ways to reveal your opponent, and once you know where they are, you can activate your “shriek” which will trigger a floating head jumpscare on the enemy’s screen, and get you points.
If you shriek and your opponent isn’t close enough, you will be revealed for them to see for a short time.

The most common way to reveal your opponent is by catching them in a trap. You can collect different runes throughout the level, which all have unique powers. Sometimes you can set traps, and sometimes they will give you powers to remove any curses you might have. Runes can even be combined to give unique traits. Some can be very interesting, like sending your enemy to an alternate dimension to waste their time, or allowing you to dash through walls.

Some runes can be shot ahead of you, some can be traps set on the floor, some are on interact-able doors or closets etc. So there’s a lot to play around with.

The main way to get points is to collect orbs and put them on your altar. You can even pick up enemy orbs in order to set up traps. I like to put theirs behind transparent cupboards, and then trap them. The whole game is about outsmarting your opponent.

As you level up and get achievements, you will unlock customizables for your character, which is quite fun.

Most stuff is balanced quite well. Although I have a problem with 2 powers. One of them being a wisp that follows your enemy and teleports them to another dimension. Even if you see the wisp, it seems for no matter how long you run away from it, it will catch up to you eventually. I don’t know if there’s a long timer on it or if it just chases you indefinitely, but that just causes it to be more efficient to just run into it as soon as you see it to avoid wasting time.

The other one, is a power that reveals all runes close to you, and your opponent. It kind of defeats the entire point of the game if you can just see your enemy constantly through walls, there’s no investigation anymore. It’s not even that hard to get that power, and it seems a lot of people have realised it and are using it the majority of the time, which is why I prefer to just play with a friend and avoid using that power.

Overall, I really am loving the game. The aesthetic and music is great, the idea is fun and unique, and it’s just funny to hear your friend scream when you trap them!

Review: Rise & Shine

You play as Rise, a boy tasked with fighting off the people destroying Gamearth. You have a gun called Shine aiding you in your battle, that allows you to respawn after dying. The game is filled with small cameos and parody versions of real video game characters like Sonic and Gears of War.

To shoot your gun, you must hold down the right mouse button and actually aim. This forces your character to slow down, as the shooting mechanics in this game are quite methodical as opposed to being run and gun. You can shoot projectiles out of the air to protect yourself, or hide behind destructible cover. To shoot out of cover, you must once again hold down the aim button, but in doing so you are vulnerable. This creates a lot of intense gun fights, which is quite fun!

As you progress through the game you will earn new abilities like switching bullet types to something that can pierce shields, or being able to shoot a bullet that you guide with your mouse, that you must then navigate through mazes onto boss weakpoints.

The pacing is quite good, and the game manages to mix up combat, bosses and puzzle sections quite well. On top of that, new enemies and traps are introduced throughout the game to keep things from getting stale.

The game’s aesthetic is great. It looks nicely drawn and colourful, and is complimented with some great music.

Although the game is funny when it comes to some lines of dialogue, or background easter eggs, the main story is quite serious, and is told in the form of Comic panel-like cutscenes. There’s no voice acting, but you hear a few grunts or one-word lines to get the gist of how a character sounds.

Although the game isn’t a platformer as a lot of people might assume, there’s a decent amount of secret chests to be found if you do a little bit of exploration. And I do mean a little. So far from what I’ve played, nothing has been insanely hidden or hard to get to, but it’s a nice feeling when you find that optional chest to upgrade your ammo count.

The difficuly is just right, where you don’t rage when you die, but it also isn’t something to blow through. There are a few moments that reminded me of Limbo in the sense that you need to be aware of your surroundings as you progress, or else you’ll die to some sort of environmental weapon your first time round.
Overall, I think it’s a really fun and solid shooter with an interesting world to accompany it.

Review: Nidhogg 2

I’ll start off by saying that if you enjoyed Nidhogg 1 and are looking for more of the same, then Nidhogg 2 is that game, only better.
Although it brings new weapons, maps and customization options, the game doesn’t feel that different. Which can be a good or bad thing depending on your opinion.
I feel like if they messed with the original formula too much, the tight gameplay we loved about the first game would be lost.

Let me now elaborate on the mechanics for new comers, and the differences for veterans.

In Nidhogg, you and one other opponent face off. By default, it’s with a Rapier sword. A long, thin stabby sword. You can jump, press the attack button to poke forward, or move up and down to adjust the height at which your sword is held. If you move up or down while above or below your enemy’s sword, you will disarm them. You also have the option to throw your sword at the enemy, which might pay off as they could not expect it. However, if they do, they can effortlessly deflect it and leave you unarmed.

That’s what makes the combat in Nidhogg so great. There’s high risk, high reward, mind games and reflex based combat constantly. It’s so satisfying to beat your opponent. Even if you are unarmed, you can still beat your opponents if you are clever and skilled enough

What Nidhogg 2 brings to the table, is more weapons. They all MOSTLY play the same as the default Rapier, but there are a few minor changes.

The broadsword is a bit thicker, and instead of poking forward when you press the attack button, your character will slash upwards or downwards. This means you have less range, however, it is great at disarming your opponents if you get close enough.

There’s also a dagger, which allows you to make short, but very frequent stabs.

Lastly, there’s a bow and arrow. This allows you to attack from a range multiple times, as opposed to a sword where you’d lose it after throwing it. The arrows shot can easily be deflected, however. If your opponent sees it coming, positioning their sword and having the arrow fly right back at you shouldn’t be too hard.

So although the new weapons add a little bit of variety to the combat, I feel that ultimately the Rapier and Broadsword are the overall winners.

Fortunately, you can turn on and off specific weapons in multiplayer matches, as well as turn on certain mutators like “low gravity” and “no throwing”.

Onto the aesthetic. This is a completely subjective matter, but I think the graphics look wonderful. When the game was initially revealed, I wasn’t sure how to feel about the way the characters looked. Nidhogg 1 was eerie. You couldn’t see any of the facial features of characters, levels were simplistic and the music was quite drone-y.

In Nidhogg 2, characters look like they’re out of the Simpsons. They look goofy, their animations are silly, but they’re drawn very well. The background art and maps are brought to life through attention to detail. Objects are animated, and there’s a large number of maps, and they all differ to eachother, as well as have their own unique “gimmicks”.

One map has you fight ontop of a bridge at some point. If any of you are knocked onto the ground, your weapon will fall BELOW the bridge, so that you are unable to pick it back up.

Another map has you fight through tall grass, that if crouched in, will completely conceal you, allowing for some funny hide and seek fights.

You can also customize your characters quite nicely. It’s not The Sims level, but it’s nice enough to allow you to feel a little bit unique.

Now, one problem that comes with the lovely visuals, is sometimes they can be distracting. I’ve only had this issue once. In the Castle level, on the last screen before you win, are giant flames in the background. They’re everywhere. On top of that, as soon as you enter the screen, big text that says “FINAL SCREEN” will pop up. It’s behind your character, but it still disoriented me a bit. It didn’t help that I was a yellow character on top of yellow flames. This didn’t happen often, but it’s something that definitely happened more than it did in the original game.

Nidhogg 2 also allows for online play, which is great. In Nidhogg 1 you were restricted to playing locally only. This will allow more people to get into the game with their friends.

A quick note, graphical options are quite limited. You can switch between windowed, fullscreen. As well as low, med, or high graphics.

You can rebind keys if you’d like to customize controls.

Also, the music is quite strange, but in a good way. All maps have their own unique music that add to the atmosphere they’re trying to portray.

Overall, I really love the game. I wouldn’t say I love it anymore than I did the 1st game, though.

If you have NOT played Nidhogg 1, I would suggest you grab this game. Although the visual distractions can be annoying, I think overall this game just gives you a few more options that the 1st game didn’t (With the option to disable them all and just play old-school-style).