Margaret David


12 games reviewed
91.7% of games recommended
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Disliked - Balance
May 15, 2024

There may be someone out there for whom Balance will strike the right note. I can see, as if on a distant horizon, the goal the developer intends to show their players. But without a little more help in finding the zen of juggling numbers until they all ascend the board, I’m simply not motivated to ever try this again when I can instead move to Piczle Cross: Story of Seasons or one of the Picross S series games that I haven’t bought yet. It’s not pleasant to give a negative review to a fledgling developer who’s trying to bring something new to an audience that loves logic puzzles. Still, between the too-tight aesthetic, the tiny text, and the way I ended up fumbling grumpily with each board with no real encouragement, I can’t, in good faith, say I can recommend this game, even to other puzzle fans. But I also don’t think developer Wool Tyranny should give up or take my ranking too deeply to heart. It’s a good start when you know to offer a simple aesthetic to someone trying to figure out something new, and the music is very charming. Hopefully, they’ll try again down the line with something a little more polished and with a little more zest for player response. Until then, warm hugs, my apologies, and I’m very sorry that I need to say goodbye to Balance like this.

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Passing By: A Tailwind Journey retains its cohesive style and substance, and it runs beautifully on the Switch. Its quirks and issues will undoubtedly be no problem for some fans looking for a well-priced, lighter survival game that’s heavy on gathering cute collectables. However, I personally have trouble finding it as cozy as its sale copy suggests, with meters that are harsher than more action-forward survival/collection games like Core Keeper and puzzles that, while not difficult, are a pain to overcome with both the current control scheme and those meters at your heels. As the first game from a new indie developer, I do give the game its proper dues for its polish and its eagerness. I think Studio Windsocke have a bright future ahead, and, as I say, there may be those who click with the game, especially if you can overcome or alter the control scheme. Unfortunately, this game is not for me. It may be for you, so please remember that all reviews are subjective and that this is still a game with a lot of heart inside of it. That’s why I’m giving it a neutral score, and the developers my very best wishes. Available now on Nintendo Switch and PC/Steam.

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May 20, 2024

Coffee Caravan is a surprising riff on one of today’s most popular subgenres, and what’s more surprising is that it works pretty well, so long as what you want is a game that speed runs you through a sleek restaurant management sim with the promise of some useful goodies to unlock. I found the harder options to be pretty intimidating at first, but catching the rhythm of brewing, serving, cleaning, and then doing it again is a lot of fun in short bursts, and the lack of harsh consequences means you don’t feel burned for trying. That said, it really is a game best played in short sessions, and its quick run times make that easy and fun to do without risking burnout. The gradual recipe unlocks also adds variety without being overwhelming, and the result is a well-done, small-scale game that handles its strange little niche quite smoothly. Its minimalism and short-run flair mean it might not be for everyone. Still, for those looking for a quick visit to the land of Zen and the Art of Coffee, Coffee Caravan is a determined offering that stays grounded in the world of sims yet whimsical enough to throw that gentle rogue-lite style in the mix.

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Apr 6, 2024

All of that said, I came in wanting to like Terra Memoria, and in the end, I still mostly do. It’s chunky, yes, and the tone is sometimes a little off – maybe it’s the South Park exhaustion, but a subplot about ‘they took our jobs’ didn’t hit quite the right note for me when it was introduced – but its charm really is undeniable. The game is just too bright, breezy, and pretty to stay cranky, and its flaws can be soothed by taking breaks and coming back to it when you’re ready. The world building is also something that the developers put a lot of care into, and that’s also a delightful surprise. I’d be thrilled to revisit these characters and their quirky, magitek-laden world again in the future. It’s an indie delight, through and through, and I’m happy to say that, yup, it gets the green

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Liked-a-lot - Whispers in the Moss
Jun 25, 2024

Whispers in the Moss is one of the most unique games I’ve had the pleasure to try in the last twenty years, yet it’s as comfortable and familiar to play (once you’ve got your controls sorted) as a Dragon Quest game. The developer’s love for the auld days comes through pure, and every moment of the twelve years of work he put into this project is visible on the screen, in hand-edited art pieces of a style so out of date as to be computer archaeology. It’s not going to be for everyone, as the aesthetic may be too much for some to overcome, even with a few optional color palettes to help with personal taste or eyesight issues. But there’s a love for computer history in the game that gives it an irrepressible charm, and if you grew up fumbling with the ASCII graphics on your old Commodore 64/128, you’re going to feel right at home in these woods.

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Jun 5, 2024

Kamaeru: A Frog Refuge blends its real-world science with a method of show-don’t tell that makes it less intimidating than Apico, a game which I adored and which also reminded me how much I’d forgotten from my science classes so many decades ago. It’s also committed to a soft, comfy aesthetic that, even if you’ve never looked at frogs as cute before, this game will teach you why so many people just love froggies. I think my only silly quibble is the lack of audible ‘ribbits;’ just give me a vague background cacophony of happy, croaky little noises. It’s possible it’s something I’ll find as I get even deeper into the game! But that’s so minor and specific to me and isn’t a real complaint at all. The prettiness of this game and its lack of interest in stressing you about time is going to make it a soothing experience for a lot of people. The only way in this game is forward, but at the pace you choose. Pick up and play, or hyper-focus on it; it’s all entirely up to you! The frogs will love you to bits no matter what.

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Liked-a-lot - Athenian Rhapsody
May 14, 2024

Athenian Rhapsody, under the gassy gags and quirky NPCs, is a love letter to cult classics and indie games from our childhoods to today. Its mini-games are so diverse that it’s hard to get bored with any one aspect of the experience, and the sheer cheerful weirdness of it all will give you a smile even if you’re butting through some tougher patches. Because of that cheerfulness, it’s easy to give the tough spots a second chance, and a little dedication will help you enjoy the game, too. It’s hard to sum up what’s going on in the game’s world, but once you’re playing, it’s easy to simply ride it along while you’re meeting bizarre new friends. And, although I haven’t gotten that far yet, it’s clear that there really is an Undertale-style complexity in place to give you a reason to revisit. All in all, it’s quite an achievement from a new indie developer, and I can’t help but admire how polished and cohesively quirky it all is. Athenian Rhapsody may not be your kind of thing, but with a free demo available, it’s worth it to at least give this game a try.

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Liked-a-lot - Gambit Shifter
Mar 30, 2024

Gambit Shifter is not a game with lofty ambitions despite its regal cast of chess pieces. It’s a pleasant, low-stress, low-stakes puzzler that wants you to succeed and get you to think outside the board to figure out its riddles. Although its blue-steel aesthetic seems forgettably low-key, it actually allows you to put your thinky cap on and focus on the puzzle, without a lot of additional doodads to confuse its goal. No matter what, a glint of gold is your reward, and that makes it easier to push forward into the harder puzzles. The result is a sleek game that’s perfect for someone who wants something more spatial than the Piczle franchise and less punishing than Braid. At a budget price and a full slate of carefully designed puzzles, it’s a fine side game for someone who wants to shift — har — their brain into a different gear after a long day. Currently available on PC and via the Steam storefront, it’s a pleasant slice of quiet time, with no Bobby Fischer wannabes yelling in your ear about zwischenzugs or wing pawn decoy tactics. Try Gambit Shifter out. Then, maybe, try a casual game of chess at the park or the library

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Liked-a-lot - Doodle Harmony Ghosts
Mar 10, 2024

Doodle Harmony Ghosts is a lovely and simple PC treat that’s meant to engage the zen-seeking portions of your mind and have you just click happily away at the screen for a little while. There’s no frustration and nothing hidden behind its simple veneer. Perhaps the only advice I would have for these indie creators depends entirely on their comfort zone: Doodle Harmony and Doodle Harmony Ghosts would be perfect for gamers who own a tablet. Then, I’d be able to push this game onto my partner, who exclusively plays games like this on their tablet. That said, mobile development is a whole other critter, and it can be intimidating to approach for independent creators. My recommendation is, if you like simple but pleasing puzzle games and like supporting small creators, putting this one in your library will be no mistake. Doodle Harmony Ghosts occupies a quiet niche on the Steam store, where a simple and cheap game still means you’re getting a nice value for your time and dual dollar bucks

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May 20, 2024

I keep vacillating between liking Little-Known Galaxy a lot and outright loving it, and it may be that I simply need more time to explore a couple more worlds. Perhaps that I want to is the answer I need. I have to say that, for me, it’s doing everything right in spinning the Stardew formula while giving you a freshened, lighter experience, and I’m hooked on the mystery of the relic. In terms of ease, it’s a great game for a beginner to try out the genre, letting you explore and figure things out instead of feeling like you need to hit the ground running in order to have an efficient first year. Overall, I truly dig this game, and the opportunity to review it kept me from trying to scratch my post-1.6 Valley itch with other games on my wish list that I might not have liked as much. A new theme, a new pace, and a charming little low-stakes universe just might be what Dr. McCoy ordered for you, too. Beam a copy down and explore a Little-Known Galaxy for yourself.

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It won’t take long to fall in love with Nowa and his initial teammates on the Watch, and the bittersweet story beats come achingly fast in the first act of the game. Those who played the prologue game, Eiyuden Chronicles Rising, won’t have to wait long to meet some familiar faces and learn the answers to some of the questions left hanging there. From there, the journey is a comfortably familiar but emotional one, where power-hungry villains separate friends and family under the banner of a war that threatens to grow out of control. It’s a beefy game, too, with backers who already got their copy claiming that they’re clocking 60 hours on a fast-paced playthrough, and I’m suggesting that around 80 is going to be a fair hour count for most players. Chock full of stuff to do, things to explore, and characters to meet and collect; for some of us, this is the game we wanted when we were teens and still enjoying our last free summers. Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes is a fantastic JRPG, wearing its old-school quirks like a badge of pride, with even its deliberate annoyances feeling like a wool flannel shirt. I can safely say it’s a terrific game and one its backers will welcome home with delight.

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The Legend of Legacy HD Remastered is what it is, definitely, and nothing about its remaster changed what the game was like on release. With its unspoken story and non-traditional levelling system, this is not going to be a game for everyone. But its refreshed accessibility and the fact that there are plenty of in-depth guides out there with oodles of still relevant information makes this an interesting way to find out if you’d enjoy similar, harder games like SaGa Frontier. Or if you’d enjoy Alliance Alive, which was also remastered several years ago for the Nintendo Switch. This is where I admit I’m an old-school gamer, and this is my kind of thing. I grew up on obstinate, mapless, pain-in-the-rear dungeon crawlers, and this pretty, cosy (and low on fan service) homage to the genre is just the right kind of game for me to laze on the couch and play. It’s asking for patience from its players and a little investment to figure out how to make your party strong enough to wear down bosses. It requests your imagination to fill in the gaps of its story, giving you the freedom to think pretty much whatever you want of your journey through this ruined isle. If you’re like me, this is a special treat, a game that’s both different than anything else currently on the Switch and familiar to those of us who grew up with graph paper and clue books you had to mail away for. That’s why I’m rating this game so highly, as I’m the exact audience this game is seeking. Its quirks may not be for you, but if you’re willing to give it a try, whether on Switch or on Steam, both of which I prefer for this style of game, it’s doing its best to help you out. And it’s looking good doing it.

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