For what it’s worth, point-and-click adventures largely end up becoming a story. Encodya is exactly that. It’s a heartwarming story of life and lessons learned. The gameplay is largely incidental, but the setting, though derivative, is an absolute win. Players that are unfamiliar with the genre may want to forego it if they crave a bit more action, but it’s difficult to not suggest Encodya to point-and-click enthusiasts. It’s difficult, it’s enchanting, and it’s a bit odd—even if it isn’t wholly original. But, to be fair, the studio praised their inspirations more openly than most would anyways.
If you go into Eternal Hope with measured expectations, you won’t be disappointed. It’s a story, first and foremost. Sure, the puzzles are interesting at times, but the gameplay largely feels like an afterthought. As it stands, Eternal Hope is probably best left to casual gamers who enjoy an atmospheric experience. Inveterate platformer fans aren’t going to find much here except frustration.
Kinetic Edge is a stripped-down platformer with a nicely balanced difficulty. Sure, the game is an effortless experience, but it’s unclear what atmosphere SCT was trying to achieve. To make matters worse, when the fundamentals are so simplistic, any missteps are hard to ignore. The mechanics are near perfect to what SCT was trying to achieve, but it feels like the bare minimum. It needs a stylistic overhaul to match. I’m not inherently against the cyberpunk approach, but it’s over the top. Without any change, Kinetic Edge will please only a handful of dedicated platformer players but will deter casual fans with its intense look.
As it is, ENDER LILIES is an expertly crafted but clearly early access game. Sure, it lacks a bit of depth, but the content that is there is encouraging. They’ve already managed to build a ridiculously forceful atmosphere and solid underlying mechanics. It’s polished well beyond most early release titles, but still lacks the depth of a full release. Now, the only task left is to add content. If Binary Haze can spice up their enemies a little more, and expand the game by a couple of hours, they’ll have a truly remarkable achievement on their hands.
Wet Dreams Dry Twice is an odd experience. It oscillates between totally enjoyable and completely tedious. I am either enjoying the challenge of a certain puzzle or flocking to the safety of a guide to get me through. Like most games, I can imagine a perfect audience for Wet Dreams Dry Twice, but to me it feels dated—and not in an intentional manner. Sure, loyal fans might be thankful that CrazyBunch has stayed true to their roots, but newcomers will find a game that feels too deeply couched in a bygone era. I haven’t played a point-and-click in over two decades, and yet the genre feels completely unchanged. Is that a good thing? Possibly to long standing fans of the genre. But to most, it’s all going to feel a bit stale.
Skul: The Hero Slayer isn’t perfect, but it’s getting dangerously close. The cynics among us could nitpick at the repetitive level design or the supposed imbalance found in the power-ups, but these criticisms would both be severe reaches. In truth, the game is a rare gem that sets a high bar for other Indie titles to aspire to. It’s the perfect blend of innocent and quirky. The combat system is fluid and responsive. Oddly enough, you just feel comfortable playing Skul: The Hero Slayer. It’s the type of game you could sink days into and not even notice. It’s truly effective.
That’s the issue here. Rise: Race The Future is simultaneously both extremely polished and not well thought out. You never experience glitches or bugs, and the controls, while occasionally difficult, are tight and responsive the majority of the time. But then you are confronted with the awkward level design and outdated AI, and you’re back at square one. If VD-Dev could delve back into the core of their game, and fix the underlying problems afflicting Rise: Race The Future, they could craft the game into an endlessly playable, simplistic racer that would appease most fans. As it stands, the game is plagued by basic problems that will leave most players seeking alternatives.
Override 2: Super Mech League is currently wasted potential incarnate. It looks good, and it has all the aesthetic bells and whistles one could ask for, but the heart of the game is lacking. The mechanics are stiff, clunky, and all too exploitable. The levels are unimaginative and feel even more unusual when compared to the wonderful character design. As it is, the game looks great, but is a glorified button masher that is in desperate need of innovation.
El Hijo feels a bit like an introduction to stealth games. It’s restrictively linear nature makes it an excellent choice for beginners, but a frustrating experience for inveterate stealth players. Still, its monotonous nature can, at times, be overshadowed by the cutesy, innocent spirit of the game which shines through in spite of gameplay concerns. Oddly, El Hijo might scratch the itch for players that have either never played a stealth or who have played nearly all of them. For those players in the middle of the pack, who still have plenty of options left, your time might be better spent elsewhere first.
For me, by the time I encounter my third bug, my time in Evolution has come to an end. With my interest already waning, these glitches are the final nail in the coffin. To be fair, I can imagine there are plenty of people out there who might love this game, but I can’t recommend it over the other quality board game ports that are available. Once the small issues are ironed out, Evolution could fill-in a niche spot for board game fanatics, but as it is even diehard fans would be hard pressed to ignore the problems.
Don’t worry. The small issue of the narrative doesn’t even come close to undermining what’s good here. Not For Broadcast is easily one of the most unique games I’ve played. Not only that, but you literally see the work the team put in. The humour and the pacing of the videos pair seamlessly with the game’s mechanics. It’s chaotic, it’s stress-inducing, it’s beautiful. You’ll often feel like Homer Simpson sitting at the nuclear power plant blindly pressing buttons, but you’ll enjoy every second of it.
Unfortunately, for the most part, Dreadlands has been done before. Even the few unique mechanics are not enough to save it from feeling stale. It’s made all the more frustrating because it’s easy to see the charm and playability hidden just beneath the problems that plaguing the current state of the game. Instead of a quirky, niche turn-based strategy game, we’ve got a game that feels like a total slog to get through.
For doubters, look through this review and count how many times I said ‘relaxing’ or mentioned the ‘slow-pace’ of the game. If this appeals to you, go out and buy Wingspan. That’s exactly what it is. It’s a beautifully designed and truly unique card game. This Steam port clearly builds off of a solid foundation from its board game progenitor. If my endorsement means anything, this game couldn’t deviate further from my normal interests, and I loved every second of it.
Eastern Exorcist is a game that continues to surprise you. When I thought it was easy, it humbled me. When I felt the story was growing stale, I was thrown for a loop. I was constantly changing my perception of the game. But, be warned before you buy: this game is hard. And, in that regard, it makes no apologies. You will constantly be challenged. The reward is that you get to progress through a game that is fun, imaginative, and couched in a setting that has not already been done to death.
Cyberpunk 2077 was doomed to fail. It’s not an unplayably bad game by any stretch of the imagination, but it could never live up to the hype that surrounded its release. Don’t get me wrong, you could play Cyberpunk 2077 and have an absolute blast, but it’s more likely that you won’t. I could almost feel the game constantly oscillating between an incredible experience and shockingly bad. The hard truth is that CDPR should have delayed the release even further. Sure, people grew tired of waiting, but the product we received on launch was an insult. It’s not that the glitches and bugs are impossible to ignore; you just shouldn’t have to. As it stands, Cyberpunk 2077 still has ridiculous potential, but CDPR has a lot of work to do to get there.
Get-A-Grip Chip is the sort of game that arises from a well-focused development team. It is beautifully smooth and playable. It stays true to its base mechanics yet pushes the boundaries whenever possible. The art style is quirky and unique. I felt like I was playing a game made by people who truly understood what they had made. They always had their finger on the pulse. The only issue is when you make a game this enjoyable, I want to play it for much longer than I was able to here.
If it sounds like I didn’t enjoy Neoverse, I actually did. It’s a clone, sure, but it’s a well made clone of an already great game. Beyond some balancing issues, there really isn’t much wrong with Neoverse. It’s just that the successful aspects of Neoverse (and there are plenty) have already been discussed ad nauseam when Slay the Spire released; they aren’t worth mentioning. As it is, Neoverse stands as a solid alternative with a bit of balancing issues and a different art style. It’s simple as that.
Let me take one step back. There is plenty of fun to be had for the casual gamer in Space Crew, but true enjoyment will come from fans of grinding and developing within the game. If you’re the type of person who loves to tinker and micromanage, pick the game up, you won’t be disappointed.