Let’s take a look at … – Plantera

Clicker games are a polarising genre. While some enjoy the mindless grinding and levelling up, checking back every few hours to see how things are going, others just don’t see the point and consider them nothing more than a spectacular waste of time. While I agree they’re a waste of time, I still fall firmly into the first camp having dedicated 260+ hours to them in total. I love a good clicker game, and VaragtP, created of other clicker titles such as Tap Heroes and Loot Hero DX, is back with a third. Let’s take a look at Plantera.

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Plantera is a clicker game that revolves around the growing of a garden. You start with a small patch of land and have at your disposal a range of different plants and animals that will generate money as they come to fruition. From apple trees to pumpkin patches, and chickens to cows, there’s a number of items that can be added, 16 to be exact, to your garden to generate cash.

It’s not all plain sailing, however, and there a number of animals out to get your hard-grown produce. Wolves will wander into the garden that needs dealing with, and crows swoop down and grab what fruit they can. It’s a fun little clicker that doesn’t require much in the way of strategy or maintenance but allows you to simply sit back, turn your brain off, and appreciate your whimsical little garden world for 15 minutes.

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There are three types of plants available; crops, bushes, and trees, and you can have one of each on every patch of land that you own. As the produce from your plants and animals matures, you can either click it yourself to harvest it or leave it for the workers that you have pottering around your garden. There are 12 plants in total, 4 of each type, and each time you place one the cost for another goes up quite sharply.

There are also 4 animals, each offering different incomes. You’ll start with the humble chicken, producing eggs every now and again, but work your way to purchasing a cow, and then you’re in the money from its milk!

You start with a small area of land, and the number of plants and animals you can have are tied to this. For example, if you have 5 patches of land then you can plant 5 trees and have 7 animals (I made these numbers up, but they’re close). With enough cash, you can expand your land upping this limit, allowing you to purchase more plants and animals. Buy plants and animals, farm them, upgrade them, buy more land … rinse and repeat.

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Plantera will continue generating cash even when you’re not playing, but not in traditional clicker style. There is an ability called ‘Alarm Clock’ that increases the amount of time that your workers will work when away from the game. I can only presume that without levelling this up if you left your game off all night, your workers wouldn’t do anything!

It’s very click intensive if you want to harvest your plants manually. One click will remove them from the tree although they do drop naturally with enough time, and a second click harvests it. I’ve been playing this at my office, and I’m almost certain those around me are fed-up with hearing me frantically clicking my mouse and I gather apples!

In terms of progression, the game so far has scaled quite well, although I do foresee some of the later achievements been a bit of a grind. There is an achievement for getting to level 100, and an achievement for having 100 of each plant type. Things are slowing down now and the grinding has started. These could take a while …

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Plantera looks great. It’s got a very casual, cute, and relaxing pixel aesthetic. The animals are adorable, and the fruit and plants are colourful and playful. It looks great when your garden builds up. The music as well … man, I love a nice relaxing soundtrack and Plantera’s music is awesome. Everything that the aesthetics convey the music mirrors perfectly.

I have no real qualms with anything to do with it’s aesthetic, the menus feel a little under polished compared to the in-game aesthetic I feel, but it’s not a problem. The game has toggleable fullscreen, a number of language options, and cloud saving, which is great. The only thing that’s missing is a volume slider. The game features only on/off toggles for music and SFX, which wouldn’t be too bad but the game music is crazy loud! Earphone users beware the first time you launch the game, although I’m sure this will be fixed shortly in a patch.

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Overall, and bearing in mind I’m already a fan of the genre, Plantera is a great little time sink. It has the staple mechanics of a clicker game, and the graphics and music bring a sense of whimsy where you can turn off and relax in your garden for a while. There isn’t a tonne of items available, and mechanics are simple, but for the £1.99/$2.99 that’s been asked you’ll certainly get your monies worth.

Tl:dr – Plantera is a fun little clicker that will let you turn your brain off for 15 minutes and enjoy the charm of your pixelated garden. With a small selection of plants and animals, mechanics are simple, but for £1.99/$2.99 it’s more than enough to get your monies worth if you’re into the genre. If you’re not, then this probably won’t be the title that changes that opinion.

Rating – 8/10

Purchase – Steam £1.99/$2.99

Trailer –

Let’s take a look at … – Bulb Boy

Classic Lucas Art’s point-and-click games, such as Maniac Mansion and Grim Fandango, are a unique style of game where you solve mysteries by finding items, talking to the right people, and visiting the right locations to progress the story. They usually require a lot of thought on what items to use and when, and can be somewhat tedious as a result, even though the story might be the real payoff. Bulb boy is a short, simple point-and-click adventure game that doesn’t rely on story to make it fun, the gameplay and overall silliness of the game do that just fine.

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You start off in a room with your flying dog and grandfather. You’re “bulb boy”, and you see your grandfather get taken away by a monster, of sorts, and have to find a way to get him back. This starts off a room-by-room, point-and-click puzzle adventure that lasts about 2 hours. Each item you find will be used in the room you are currently in and doesn’t require a lot of inventory management which I found to be refreshing. You use the items in logical ways to solve the room puzzle and then move on to the next.

Most rooms are comprised of roughly 5-6 interactions that usually include a boss fight. Finding a way to not get killed while you hunt the room for items to use it is key. In one instance, you fight a walking turkey that will eat you immediately upon seeing you. If it starts to come close, find one of the various hiding spots in the room to hide your glowing head, and it will walk right past you allowing you to explore more and solve the puzzle.

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The art style is very twisted though adorable. Bulb boy is a little guy that glows to illuminate the room around him, revealing monsters and death scenes that are mildly gruesome, but not distasteful. I laughed a few times, and cringed at others, but I was charmed by this game even though it was so short. I really enjoyed the flashback scenes in where life is grand and no monsters loom. They still function as a point-and-click mechanic but don’t involve the fear of death and having to restart.

I wanted to mention lastly that the game does save for you in pivotal points so if you do die, you won’t have to restart the whole level. It’s a great feature.

Tl:dr – Bulb Boy is about a 2-hour point-and-click adventure game which was a successful Kickstarter project that launched late last year. It’s charming, creepy, and gross, but overall adorable in the way it presents itself. Even though it is short it provided a lot of fun and a decent challenge to make it worth playing. Though it’s hard to say if it’s worth the admission price of roughly $10.00, I would definitely recommend playing it, especially if you are looking for a less stressful point-and-click adventure game.

Rating – 9/10

Purchase – Steam £6.99/$9.99

Trailer  –

Let’s take a look at … – CMYW

CMYW is a fun little arcade shooter that fans of Asteroids and other retro-style space games will definitely appreciate. The goal is simple- shoot enemy ships, collect the resources they leave behind after exploding, and take these resources to your portal. While doing this, you must protect your portal and yourself from being hit by these enemies.

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CMYW features extremely basic and colorful graphics that are reminiscent of the old vector displays from the 70s. You command an old-school looking triangle ship that ejects a tiny little spaceman when hit. Likewise, enemies are simple polygons and the resources they leave behind after you shoot them are yet smaller polygons. Pair the graphics with a fun and high-energy soundtrack and the game is perfect for a space atmosphere.

The goal of the game is to defeat enemies, collect resources and get them to your portal safely. The farther away you get from your portal, the more the map zooms out. There is also a minimap that shows where all your enemies are and stops you getting lost in space. Some enemies carry special items that change your weapons or give you boosts, and as the game goes on the threat level increases.

CMYW offers both keyboard and controller options, both take some getting used to, but you can adapt to either with plenty of practice. I prefer the controller, and it took me awhile to get a hang of spinning, moving, and shooting efficiently without floundering around all over the map. I had the hardest time with spinning just enough to aim right where I needed to. I would prefer if we could re-bind the keys to fix my issue with choosing to move instead of shoot, but I think that’s the main challenge of the game- mastering the controls so you can rack up the highest score possible.

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 Game modes include single player, local multiplayer (up to four players), cooperative, and competitive.  Score hunters will appreciate the leader boards as well. Overall, I liked this game but grew frustrated by all the mistakes I kept making with the controls. It’s definitely gratifying blowing up all those enemies and collecting resources, and dying always causes a bunch of frustrated yelling and laughing before deciding to try one more time… one more time….

 Tl-dr I would recommend this simple but challenging game to anyone who likes arcade-style shooters, especially for the tiny $3.99 price tag.

 Rating – 8/10

 Purchase – Steam £2.79/$3.99

 Trailer –

Let’s take a look at … – Rogue State

Rogue State is a geo-political simulator that puts you in charge of a country as its supreme leader. The choices you make will affect your approval of the citizens of your country, the Parliament cabinet you work with, and even the opinion of other countries around the world.  Based on your actions you might deal with internal revolt, attacks from other states or possibly become the most powerful nation in the world.

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I’ve never really given one of these games a play-through before, so it was a bit difficult to get right in there as I would imagine most of these games are. My problem for a newcomer such as myself was the very limited tutorial. It covers the basics and then sort of tells you to experiment and figure it out on your own. I had to devote a decent amount of time learning this game. This can be problematic as there isn’t any form of control beyond menus and clickable options.  Unlike a traditional war game where you command units, you more or less place them where you want, and they will either win or lose depending on how strong your military is. It’s a numbers game really.

The game takes place in your presidential office where you visit various aspects of your governmental state. You can change tax policy, make phone calls to ambassadors around the world, start trade policies and make economic changes via sliders. There is also the aspect of building your ruined state to its former glory through different branches. Depending on what you prioritize you will either become a major economic force or a militaristic one. Remember to try to keep the majority of your citizens happy though or they will start to turn on you!

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What I did find interesting is how we as citizens of our own country always think that making decisions is either obvious or easy. Truthfully, the issues are much more complicated than that.  Appease one group and another starts to turn against you. This game did teach me that being a supreme leader is a lot harder than it looks, there’s no way to please everyone. Just try to do the best you can for your country and give attention to where it is needed.

You may some issue at first trying to figure this game out, but in the end you may find yourself a little more enlightened in how much power you truly have, or how powerless you are to the forces that surround you.

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Tl:dr – Rogue state is a geo-political simulator that is basic in its design but really has a lot of depth. Though the tutorial doesn’t offer much direction outside of some basic tools to get you started, the game can still be played and it’s best to learn from your mistakes and make note for your next play through. There was some eye-opening lessons to be learned from running a country, albeit in an unrealistic fashion via a video game. Even with all the power in the world, you can still be totally powerless against the forces at will. Rogue State is a niche game that can either totally engross you or frustrate you depending on what sort of games you have fun with.  It’s not bad, just totally different.

Rating – 6/10

Purchase – Steam £9.99/$12.99

Let’s take a look at – The Beginner’s Guide (Spoiler Free)

Thanks to better, more affordable tools, Indie development has never been so assessable. It’s easier than ever for people to take their idea and make it a reality. Access to various game engines, and the wealth of knowledge and assistance from the online community, have given us a plethora of games over the last few years that otherwise might not have been. Games that make us laugh, cry, and kill, but above all, they make us feel. While The Beginner’s Guide is fairly short, and lacks the sense of adventure we find in many games, it offers a look into the mind of a developer, and tells a deeply personal and powerful story that is unlike anything you’ve experienced before.

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The Beginner’s Guide was created by Davey Wreden, the mind behind The Stanley Parable.  I went in knowing a little about this game but it’s IMPORTANT that you do not read or research what this game is about before you play it. To have any part of the story spoiled will detract from the experience on offer. The game is a walking simulator, you don’t do a whole lot in terms of puzzle solving or fighting enemies, so spoilers are costly. Don’t let that deter you though, this game is really enjoyable.

Davey is the narrator during the roughly 1 hour and 30 minutes you’ll spend playing The Beginner’s Guide. He tells a story of a fellow “real life” developer and his attempts and journey through game design over a period of 4 years. It starts off simple enough to understand, but starts to take an emotionally charged turn where you, as the player, are starting to make your own deductions based on the levels you encounter, the environment and the narration. This is important as this game is all about interpretation. Yes, you will be given facts that are clear and make sense, but a lot of it is speculation on the player’s part. It’s fascinating because it’s a story of trying to understand a person through their art and creativity.

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You’re going to find a lot of reviews already praising this game for its powerful storytelling and pacing. It’s a game that makes you wonder, interpret and reflect on its protagonist. You may even reflect its meaning against your own life and experiences. It’s fascinating to see a game talk about a topic in such a personal way that you can’t help but draw parallels to your own personal feeling and experiences.

Some links that were provided to me really helped me understand this game and its meaning a little better. Not because I didn’t when I finished, but I wanted to know more. I’m not quite sure what to tell you here though. Do you watch the video and read the blog post first before you play? Well you certainly can, but I think it might give away the meaning of The Beginner’s Guide. If you watch it after, you may understand it all much better and want to go back to really pick up on every detail. I suppose it’s up to you, the player, but I honestly found this information extremely enlightening consuming it after I finished the game.

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Also, playing The Stanley Parable isn’t a bad idea as well because it may provide some insight that could be helpful…. and it’s really just a damn good game.  Really Good.

I’d recommend viewing these links after you finish, but it’s your call.

http://www.galactic-cafe.com/2014/02/game-of-the-year/

Click on* Playing Stories with Davey Wreden

http://livestream.com/accounts/6845410/gamesnow/videos/83818176

Tl:dr – The Beginner’s Guide has a strangely accurate but misleading title for those who have not played it.  It’s more of a story based game with no action and little puzzle solving. It’s a short game, clocking in at about 1 hour and 30 minutes, but is powerful and intriguing. You’ll spend your time learning something deep and personal about the main character in this game, and maybe something about yourself. Overall, don’t read spoilers and go in blind. It’s worth it.

Rating – 9/10

Purchase – Steam £9.99/$9.99

Trailer –

Let’s take a look at … – Epic Showdown

Epic Showdown is a casual arena-shooter released this October by indie developer Naloki. With four unique characters to choose between, and two game modes available: survival mode and crypt (dungeon crawling type option), there’s premise for a fun little casual shooter. Unfortunately, although I try to find the best in every game I review, I cannot recommend this one in the state it is in. It is nearly unplayable, and here’s a list of reasons why:

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The trailer for this game on Steam – which is also very unpolished – gives some back story to the game, but the game itself does not. There is no explanation for the character with the green hand who is watching some very oddly put-together heroes fight on television. There isn’t background on the heroes themselves, either. They are just there with no content, so there’s no way to get invested.

Control are typical of this genre with WASD and mouse movement, but their implementation is rough making them very difficult to use. At first the game looks like it is third person, but it actually isn’t. It’s fixed behind the character but it can’t turn meaning you just sort of slide around the screen more, like an unnecessary addition to your crosshairs. I was killed so quickly over and over because I wasn’t able to see well around the environment and back-up out of the way. I didn’t even have time to monitor my health and it seems the enemies hit way too hard relative to your health!

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The titles shortcomings don’t step here. The graphics feel old, and not in an intentional retro way either. It’s also too easy to get blinded by the environment. i.e., if you back-up into a tree, instead of stopping you from moving it envelopes your vision and you can’t see. You clip right through. The menu system is ugly, hard-to-read, and poorly designed. For example, hints are provided on the load screen, but the text is cut off.

In crypt mode, there is a slapping sound that repeats over and over and is extremely obnoxious. I couldn’t survive long enough to find out if it was something in the environment, or a glitch in the game. Overall, the game is just extremely unpolished and unfinished. The game crashed while loading and I had to force the executable to stop through Task Manager. It’s not worth anywhere near the $9.99 price tag it currently has.

Tl;dr – A catastrophic lack of polish isn’t the only thing letting Epic Showdown down.  If the game had more story behind it, and the controls were fixed, there might be some potential here. As-is, this game is unplayable and is not recommended. Don’t buy this.

Rating – 3/10

Purchase – Steam £6.99/$9.99

Trailer –

Let’s take a look at … – Undertale

Undertale is a game by developer Toby Fox, a name that probably doesn’t mean much to you … for now. It’s a pixel-based RPG that was quietly released on Steam in early October, but once mainstream game sites picked up on it and started writing about their experiences, the game blew up. With quotes floating around like: “Made me cry”, “contender for game of the year”, and “I haven’t played anything like this before”, it was hard not to be intrigued by what players were experiencing. After playing the game 3 times, and with over 25 hours invested, I can safely tell you that this game is easily in my top 5 indie games I’ve ever played. It’s something absolutely special.

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For those who have played the SNES classic Earthbound (also known as Mother), you’ll feel right at home here. Dialogue that breaks the 4th wall, characters with the strangest quirks, and enemies that make no sense but interact with you during battles in ways that are impossible to describe. You have the choice of Fight, Items, Act, and Mercy. Depending on what you choose you might be talking, hugging or petting an enemy during battle. There are also many, many more options depending on the enemy you are fighting. Choose to a spare an enemy and you can select Mercy to avoid killing it all together. Want to murder its face, choose Fight and play out the battle in a timed event where you have to press the attack button at the right time for maximum damage.

Every battle will play out a little different depending on if you choose to kill or spare. Every enemy has a unique attack which might require you to do some platforming to avoid projectiles, pressing the directional pad in different directions to avoid being hit. It varies from moving around like you are playing a “shoot-em-up”, to just sitting there and not moving against the dreaded “blue attack” (it’s hardly scary, just don’t move). I never once got bored with any battle as I was constantly kept on my toes by each unique attack. It’s incredibly brilliant and fresh.

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The soundtrack is a chiptunes, 8-bit style score that was so catchy and engrossing I would sometimes just turn it on and listen to it while I was doing other things that day. Not much more to say except that it’s masterfully crafted, changes on how you play the game and will pump you up when it’s time to play a deciding battle. The music takes a perfect package and wraps it up in an equally perfect bow.

The story is the most important part of this game and I will not be spoiling any of it. It takes so many turns, making you think one way and then changes it all on you over and over. The game has 3 endings that provide a different experience each one you go through. What does that even mean? I’ll explain…

Your first playthrough will be the normal ending. No matter how you play you will be forced to get this ending. Once you’ve finished you have some choices. Do you spare every enemy you come across or kill them? This aspect of choice is an important mechanic. No matter how you play through the game’s roughly 6-8 hour story you’ll be learning what it means to spare a life or take it. Maybe you’ll run into a battle and that enemy starts using powerful attacks against you and just wants to hurt your character. Maybe you’ll come across a frog that just wants to be complimented and doesn’t intend on harming you. How you deal with these choices affects how the game will play out in the end.

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The game’s alternate endings are The Pacifist Ending and Genocide Ending, requiring you to have beaten the game on Normal, and then on your next playthrough either choose to spare every life or take every life respectively. There is no middle ground here, so I recommend looking up some guides prior to taking these on. Be aware they will challenge you emotionally, strategically, and physically. I managed to unlock all 3 and by far the hardest was the Genocide Ending.

Without ruining anything, there are two bosses in the game that require you to take part in some of the most grueling, fast-paced, and extremely enjoyable battles I’ve ever come across in a game. One battle takes upwards of 15 minutes to finish and required my full attention and focus to beat it. After many hours of trial and error, I was able to finish it and the feeling of excitement I got was beyond comparison. I also felt kind of terrible too. Terrible because I don’t know if I really wanted to kill this character, but I had no choice. This is what makes Undertale so special.

Each ending is unconventional, each character plays an important role, and each battle is so unique that this isn’t the kind of game you run through and quickly dispose of. You want to see what happens, you are invested in the world and characters. They are your friends, maybe they’re your enemies; it just depends on how you play the game. I promise you that every ending will surprise you and give you something you’ve never seen before. Just remember, if your game shuts down because an enemy deletes your save file, all you have to do is reload. 🙂

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This is a game where words cannot do it justice. This review is all how I felt when I played this game and the surprises I encountered in every meeting with the characters and every battle. Nothing is what it seems. Currently at over 7000 reviews with an Overwhelming Positive review score this game is something that doesn’t come along often. This might be the best $10 dollars you’ll spend this year as you’ll be experiencing something unlike anything else. Undertale stole my heart, made me hate myself sometimes and filled me with determination unlike anything I’ve played before. Hands down, this game will affect you in one way or another and will leave an impression on you for years to come. It’s perfect.

Tl:dr – Undertale is one of the best indie games to come out in the last 5 years.  Fans of Earthbound will immediately see the similarities but will be immediately surprised at how different of an experience this game is.  The choices you make in Undertale matter, they affect you and those around you.  With non-traditional RPG elements, amazing soundtrack and a touching story and cast you’ll be hooked.  Multiple endings that are actually worth earning make this game something more than a beat it and walk away type of game and you’ll never forget your time in this world.  Simply put there is nothing out there like this game.  It’s an unforgettable experience.

Score – 10/10, Perfect

Steam Page – Steam £6.99/$9.99

Demo – http://undertale.com/demo.htm

Trailer –

Let’s take a look at … – Grey Goo

Grey Goo is the first major RTS outside of a big company, such as Blizzard, Microsoft, and EA etc., to make a significant impact in the genre in a long time. Considering over the last few years the RTS market has been largely dominated by the likes of the Starcraft series, and remakes or re-releases such as Age of Mythology, Age of Empires and Rise of Nations, it’s awesome to see a fresh entry, and such a solid one at that. Hardly surprising, Grey Goo is developed by Petroglyph, a studio containing the veteran talent of ex Westoon Studios developers who are responsible for the Command & Conquer series! Let’s take a look at the RTS.

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Traditionally, RTS games have primarily lived on PC, and this is mainly due to the complex nature of gameplay not lending itself to the limited functionality of a controller. Grey Goo is no exception, and standard keyboard and mouse controls will feel instantly familiar. The game controls wonderfully, with just the right amount of complexity in places for a satisfying and rewarding learning curve. You’ll quickly be able to pick it up and progress through the first few missions with little difficulty, however there are enough shortcuts and hot keys to make it a challenge to master.

The game offers three race choices, each with enough different to make them genuinely feel unique from one another: The Beta can lay expansion hubs (small, medium, large) to expand on the map. The Humans build Conduit (roads) in order to expand, and the Goo offer the most diverse way to expand. The Goo start off with a large mass called “The Mother”. As resources are consumed this mass grows larger and can spawn smaller Goo structures. It’s a really cool distinction compared to the other races and the balancing is well done, allowing for players to choose a race based on their play style and not be at a disadvantage to some OP race.

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Bases consist of a main hub with four expansion ports. You start off by building a refinery close to a Catalyst Pool (the game’s primary resource) and your harvester will mine the pool for resources throughout the course of the game. Once you have money coming in it’s time to build a factory to produce units and start building an army. If you run out of expansions you can construct a new hub or remove structures to build new ones.

What makes the construction unique is that it takes a similar approach to Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2. You have a pool of resources and as the buildings are being built resources are slowly taken from your resource pool as they are used instead of taking all the cost in one large chunk. If you don’t have the resources to purchase the structure, or train units, they are automatically paused until you gain a sufficient amount. This system allows you to pause production if you need to divert resources to a more important area.

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Another point of interest lies in the cover system. If your units are in cover they can fire on enemies out of position without the risk of taking damage. The enemy is only able to retaliate if they also enter cover. This makes for some great trap setups and gives high ground a tactical advantage, a mechanic that has become common in a lot of newer RTS games. Unless you have vision of high ground units there isn’t really much way to defend against them. What this offers is multiple ways to take out a few units, or a whole army that might be on its way to your base with a surprise attack!

Probably my favourite addition is the use of walls. A lot of RTS’s have abandoned the use of this mechanic but it’s brought back in Grey Goo. Set up a series of walls at choke points, or surrounding your base, and place your units on top of them. Instead of the typical tower defense concept, you instead place your units on the walls so that they can attack incoming enemies. I absolutely loved this idea as it simplifies defense.

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Visually the game is good. The structures, units and maps are fairly detailed though it’s nothing to spend a lot of time on. What was amazing were the cutscenes and 3d animation. The quality here is on par with Blizzards own 3D rendering and storytelling. It was really cool to see so much effort put into the cutscenes and pre-mission briefing scenarios. It immediately gives off a polished look and shows that this isn’t some cookie cutter RTS game that came out just for the sake of it.

I recently went back to Red Alert 2 to see how that game stood after all these years and it is 100% unplayable. From the incredibly slow game speed, to the dated visuals and broken functionality of changing your settings and having the game become visually distorted, there is no going back to that game until a HD remake comes out and fixes the problems of just re-releasing the game. This is where Grey Goo fills that void because it’s so similar, yet different enough to give the player something new to love. Grey Goo shines here.

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Overall my time with this game was well spent and enjoyable. Going in I didn’t know that ex Westwood Studio developers were involved though it felt so familiar I suspected they had their hands in it. I really enjoyed the story and gameplay and a way to experience the classic RTSs of the past in a new and fresh way. Grey Goo is top shelf quality RTS gaming at its core and deserves your attention if you are a fan of the genre.

Tl:dr – Grey Goo is the most recent offering from Ex Westwood Studios Developers Petroglyph and is an extremely well-polished game. Command one of three races as you build bases, protect your settlement with walls (yes they are back!), Mine resources to train units and explore detailed and well-crafted maps. With an engaging story and plenty to discover and master, Grey Goo puts itself up against some of gaming’s classic real time strategy games and gives the player that familiar but new experience from days gone by. If you were a fan of the Command and Conquer series this game deserves your attention.

Rating – 8.5/10

Purchase – Steam £29.99/$49.99

Trailer –

Let’s take a look at … Dino Eggs: Rebirth

We all know the movie industry is rife with reboots, prequels, and sequels. Well, it happens with video games too! Back in 1983 a puzzle platformer called Dino Eggs, created by David H Schroeder, was released for Apple II, Commodore 64, and IBM PC. Years later, the result of an international effort including original author David, a sequel has been released and is awaiting your votes on Steam Greenlight. Let’s take a look at Dino Eggs: Rebirth.

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The original Dino Eggs was received to great praise, so for our OG gamers out there seeing the return of the title will undoubtedly bring a flood of nostalgia and familiarity. For those of us who haven’t played the original, Rebirth features an introductory back-story tying the original game to the new bringing us up to speed.

The protagonist in this reboot is the daughter of the original, Time Master Tim, reminding me a little of Tron and Tron Legacy. You play Tamara, and your goals are in line with those of the original: avoid enemies while collecting dino eggs and other items (some of them new to this reboot) to teleport to the future for research.

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The game starts by guiding you through a few training levels, teaching you how to perform certain movements and how to collect eggs and baby dinos. Careful platforming and planning is required to uncover and carry items to portals. Only three eggs can be carried at a time, and once you send those to the future, you will show up somewhere else on the map, sometimes directly in harm’s way. If you’re injured, you can heal by standing in front of one of the portals. You have three lives to clear the map, otherwise its game over and you have to start from scratch.

There are several modes of gameplay available. Story mode allows you to unlock different areas as you progress through a fixed game, and multiplayer allows 2 to 8 people to play on the same screen. There’s even an option to play the original 1983 game which is awesome!

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Staying true to the original the graphics are colorful and retro-style. Game sounds and music are basic and suit the style, something which I personally find a little cheesy and loud, especially the falling through the portal scream when loading a map. The game itself is definitely an interesting challenge and remains true to its predecessor.

I think the main draw of this game is to bring back memories of those who loved playing the original version 32 years ago. This is a very family-friendly game (especially considering the multiplayer option) that could have two generations of gamers enjoying two generations of a game.

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Dino Eggs: Rebirth is currently on Steam Greenlight and could use your love! If you’re a fan of single-screen platformer puzzle games, retro-style games, or played the original Dino Eggs game, keep an eye out for this one and go give it your vote. Also head to the official site for more info on the project.

Tl;dr –  Dino Eggs: Rebirth is a reboot of the original 1983 puzzle platformer that will please fans of the original as well as a new generation of gamers.  Despite a somewhat annoying cut-scene style, this game features unique mechanics that are challenging and require patience and planning.

Rating – 7/10

Greenlight – Vote Now!

Trailer –

Let’s take a look at … – Razenroth

Razenroth is a top-down shooter with a bunch of roguelike and RPG elements thrown into the mix. Perma-death, random levels and a multitude of enemies will put you to the test as you try and find out what happened to your missing grandad. Developed by Enitvare and released on Steam late August, the title offers a lot for a low price of £3.99/$4.99. Let’s take a look.

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Razenroth starts with an opening narrated-slideshow that gives context to the journey that you’re about to undertake. Your grandfather mysteriously went missing and whilst looking through his old notes you stumble across something interesting. You find the name ‘The valley of Whispters’, and identify it as a possible location of your grandfather so you head off in search of him. Deep in the woods you find a wooden cabin with a single note that reads ‘Run Charles’ and your journey begins.

The intro does a good job of introducing the game, but I can’t help shake the amateur feeling it gives off. The writing isn’t bad, but has some awkwardly worded sentences. The art is also not too bad, but again gives of an amateur vibe. Since it’s the first you see of the game I think it would have benefit from some TLC, and more production value would go a long way here.

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Once the opening cutscenes ends you get right into gameplay. You start in what appears to be the abandoned cabin in the middle of the woods from the opening cinematic. There’s no introduction to your surroundings, and no hints as to what you should be doing. It’s up to you get stuck in and work it out for yourself which I liked. Razenroth is a top-down shooter, so the mouse is used to aim and rotate your character, the arrow keys are used to move, and the left and right mouse buttons use the magical abilities that you seem to have gained from a book in the intro.

The controls are somewhat floaty, and I’m not sure if I’m a fan of it or I simply go used to it. You character carries inertia, so if you run in one direction and release the key you’ll carry on moving for a little while. It felt a little like walking on ice the whole time.

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Though the graphics are in the same style as those in the intro, the in-game graphics feel to be of much higher quality and the game looks quite nice with its hand-drawn aesthetic. Killing enemies produces some cool blood effects, and likewise the use of your abilities creates nice light effects. One area that could have used more work is the UI. Same reasoning’s as my comments regarding the opening cutscenes, it just felt underwhelming in places.

The meat of gameplay is exploring the procedural woods you find yourself lost in, finding and killing everything to gain loot, and finding the various items and destructible spread throughout the map. As you kill monsters you gain EXP, and each level up provides you a skill point to increate one of your characters stats and buy abilities. This is where the RPG features lie. You can kit your character out in the gear you find through your travels, level up certain skills to suit you play style, and purchase different abilities to make yourself a more formidable force.

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Spread amongst the normal enemies are tougher enemies that have a skull above their head. While tougher, the rewards are much greater as they drop gear. Alongside these tougher enemies are also fully-fledged boss creates. These are accessed via finding their portal in you level. Step inside it and you’re whisked off to another area to have a one-on-one showdown! It was at this point that I learned that Razenroth features perma-death!

There is also no manual save, and the game will only auto-save each time you beat a boss character. Once you die that save is removed and you’re back to start at the beginning! If you do manage to defeat the boss you’re taken to an entirely new area, with a different environmental theme and aesthetic and your journey stars once more.

Razenroth started slowly for me, and it took a few runs to get into it, but once I did I really started to enjoy it. The only area in which I felt let it was production value, and it would benefit from some more overall polish. Maybe it’s just the hard-drawn aesthetic that gives me that impression? The game is also priced very fairly at just £3.99/$4.99 so is a great cheap pickup.

Tl:dr – Razenroth is a top-down shooter with rogue-like and RPG elements thrown into the mix. While slow to get going, after a few runs I found my stride and enjoyed my time. With repetitive gameplay, I’m not sure how long it would hold interest for, but for £3.99/$4.99 you’re sure to get your value out of it.

Rating – 7/10

Purchase – Steam £3.99/$4.99

Trailer –