Let’s take a look at … – Guns, Gore & Cannoli (XBONE)

Earlier this year we covered the title Guns, Gore and Cannoli; an action-packed 2D run ‘n gun featuring a mobster working his way through the zombie apocalypse. You can read that article here. Well, that was on PC, and it’s now released on XBONE and we were lucky enough to get a review code to see if the console version matches that of its PC counterpart. Let’s take a look .. again!

ggc-screeny-1

Starting with performance, the game runs great. It’s certainly not a last-minute dash to get to another platform. It’s clear time and effort has gone into making the game run soundly on whatever platform you choose. The game suits a gamepad incredibly well, with tight, self-intuitive controls. In Heather’s article she mentioned she has trouble with the controls, sometimes hitting wrong buttons; I had no such issues!

The quality of the art and other resources is on point also. There’s no scaling or compromise in quality; the game looks and feels just as crisp as the PC version. I did experience some loading times higher than I would have expected. Not huge, but enough for it to catch my attention, but it’s hardly a problem. The content is well worth the extra few seconds loading. Maybe it’s because I’m used to gaming on a PC!

Best of all, the game is priced fairly. The title is currently £6.99 on Steam, so I was expecting a price tag of ~£10 for console, but it’s only £7.99. A really nice pickup price for the XBONE. To be honest, mine has sat unused in the corner for the most of the time I’ve had it as I can’t justify paying 2x more for a game than I would do on Steam. It’s awesome that this isn’t the case with Guns, Gore & Cannoli and it’s given me a reason to keep my XBONE out for a while!

ggc-screeny-2

I’d like to just share few thoughts on my own experience with game. A cinematic brings the game to a start, introducing Vinnie, a mobster on a mission to capture someone. Sleeping on a boat he learns that the world has been overrun by zombies. Naturally, been a mobster and all, he’s well kitted out and does not deviate from his macabre task. From here on you work your way through a multitude of environments, collecting new and exciting weapons as you progress, and meeting new enemies to test you.

One thing that I really liked was the difficulty. The game looks great, has a really funny story, and as such I was expecting something much more casual that what it is. The game puts up a fight, and if you don’t stay on your mobster toes it will punish you. Everything Heather said in her original article about the title I can 100% corroborate, and it is well worth the 9.5 we gave it originally. I’m not that far in, and already I’ve fought across a boat, a dockyard, a town, and met a wide range of interesting enemies!

A zombie football player that knocks you on your ass every opportunity he gets. A pinup zombie resembling Marilyn Monroe that likes to jump about, and another female zombie that can’t stop burping out some horrible green gas! I’ve also met a couple of NPC characters, all of which are funny and interesting dialogue with Vinnie. The game is lots of fun, plays great, looks great and sounds great, and it arrives on XBONE as strongly as it hit PC.

ggc-screeny-3

Tl:dr – Guns, Gore & Cannoli is now available on a number of game consoles and it’s no shoddy port. It’s clear the Crazy Monkey put time and effort into ensuring quality across the board, and the XBONE version is just as good as its PC counterpart. At £7.99 (or your regional equivalent) there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have this title on your XBOX. Get it downloaded!

Rating – 9.5 (again!)

Purchase – XBONE £7.99 or your regional equivalent | PC/Steam £6.99/$9.99

Trailer –

Let’s take a look at … – I Shall Remain

Zombies, or more accurately Survival games, have been all the rage lately. Ranging from 2D platformers to open world sandbox games, they seem to be everywhere, and usually seem to be stuck in a steam Early Access infinite loop. I shall remain is luckily not in any Early Access form, and brings enough to the genre to makes it its own. While not entirely polished it does offer a rare experience in that it is an isometric Action Role Playing Game (ARPG), not the typical survival sandbox. Let’s take a look.

isr-screeny-1

You start the game in an alternative post World War II setting. Nazis have unleashed a terrible virus in United States soil which has started to turn its inhabitants into flesh eating monstrosities. It’s a story about two brothers and their quest to find each other and hopefully survive long enough to do so.

Taking cues from games like Diablo, you pick a class which will determine your playstyle throughout the game. You can run-and-gun, be stealth, be melee focused or choose to take a more dialogue-centric approach and open new conversations and options. The gameplay is well varied and offers a lot of choice. Even time you level up you have a choice between 3 types of skill upgrades that can affect the way your character fights.

isr-screeny-2

There are a good amount of weapons as well. Moving and attacking are all done with the mouse buttons, allowing you to take whichever approach you prefer to fight the endless hordes of zombies. Throw in common, uncommon, and rare weapons, and the level of interest in picking up tons of items becomes worthwhile as you may find an upgrade at any turn. I was able to find 3 rare items in a short time which constantly gave me something to look forward to. Each weapon has a durability factor and can be repaired or broken down into scrap to use for repairing others.

Considering this is a survival game you are in a constant battle with weapon durability, exhaustion, stamina, and even the virus itself. You are also infected in this game, and with no foreseeable way to cure yourself, you can only keep the virus at bay with serum. There are multiple status icons and bars on the main screen which you need to monitor to fight at your best or escape when things aren’t looking so good.

isr-screeny-3

Pretty good atmospheric music plays while you roam the city streets, scavenging cars and buildings for supplies. Multiple NPC’s come into play and offer quests or pieces of the story as you encounter them. You can even have a handful of them join you in your quests! Outfit them with weapons and watch as that large creature that has been giving you trouble falls in half the time when fighting with an AI controlled friend.

Most of the zombies in the game are standard fair and then you start to see that some of the monsters are different. Spitting toxic goo at you, running much faster than the others, raging when they take damage, or even large hulking beasts that will stop at nothing to destroy you.  Some of the enemies even have a different color in the sense that they are an elite or champion unit that has a better chance of dropping a rare item. Of course they are much tougher, but never pass on the chance to fight one of these as the rewards are great!

isr-screeny-4

The world is fairly large, and actually only gets bigger as you progress. Subway tunnels come into play as a fast-travel aspect, allowing you to cover more ground or backtrack in a faster manner. This can prove useful as you will be travelling all over New York City completing quests. It’s a big game around the 20 hour mark or more so you can expect to be busy for quite some time.

This game has a lot going for it and is unique enough to try if you appreciate dialogue-driven gameplay with a hearty dose of fighting and survival. Though the character moves a little slow, and the realistic effects of stamina can be frustrating, it’s never much of a problem unless you have to walk a large distance. The pace is pretty good and kept me busy. I even enjoyed the occasional quick event that would pop up with a limited amount of time to complete a task for bonus experience and a break from the main story.

isr-screeny-5

My only problems with the game were really its overall design of the interface. Items are tiny icons with no text over them to know what you are picking up. The screen feels very busy due to the HUD, and normally your mouse doesn’t appear to hover over anything: you need to pause the game in a sense to see what everything means. Especially when you level up or a skill increases. Icons will just appear, and unless you’ve memorized what they all look like you may find yourself pausing a lot in the first few hours trying to take it all in. Dialogue is kind of ugly too as a lot of the conversations were hard to read just on the format of how it appears.

Tl:dr – I Shall Remain is a survival game like no other on the market.  A combination of Diablo meets Baldur’s Gate with a post-apocalyptic setting makes the experience deep and fairly satisfying. Rare weapons, equipment breakdown, a constant battle against hordes of zombies and other undead abominations gives the player plenty to kill and run from. Only a few visual issues take away from the experience such as the HUD overlay and lots of icons with no effective in game way to determine what they are without pausing. Once you get through the beginning hours where the game can be fairly unforgiving, the pace evens out and becomes a pretty enjoyable experience.

Rating – 8/10

Purchase – Steam £10.99/$14.99

Trailer –

 

Let’s take a look at … – Alien Robot Monsters

I’ve always had a bit of a problem sticking with tower defense games. Sure, it’s fun for a little while, but then the game gets either too overwhelming or is too boring to keep my interest. Finally, a game worth my attention! Introducing Alien Robot Monsters by Kraftix Games, a game well-deserving of its 100% rating on Steam. This game is also available through the Apple Store and Google Play for you mobile gamers out there. Let’s take a look.

arm_screeny_1

Starting with a simple tutorial, this space-colony-themed game begins with the basics of building towers. Upgrades are explained and it’s quite easy to get into the game right away. It has a bit of an RPG-type upgrade system, where stars are earned based on how well you defend your map, and those stars can be spent on different types of global upgrades for your weapons, health, and troops. As you progress through the levels in the game, other towers are unlocked in a skill-tree style manner, allowing many layers of updates in your game. There are so many options to choose from, the game never gets boring, even while you’re out of scrap (the game’s currency) waiting for the next wave of alien robots to come through the lanes.

One thing I loved about this game was the combination of graphics and audio/voice acting. The 16-bit style graphics are bright and colorful and very detailed. I love seeing my tiny little troops walk out from their tower to defend their colony. Reactions to button selections upgrades are witty and funny comments from the soldiers themselves. Somehow the repetition never gets old, when that’s normally something that would irritate me about a game.

arm_screeny_2

The menu system is clear and helpful, allowing you to use your earned stars to help your become more powerful and survive longer. There are informative tree-style maps of the different towers and their unlocked upgrades. Enemies have informative screens as well, so you can decide the best type of tower to counter-act their specific skills and defenses.

When I found out I could download this game to my iPhone for free (with optional in-game purchases), I tried it out there too. Same game, great graphics, even on my small screen. This game is a steal at $5.99 on Steam, but if you want to get a feel for it first, download it to your smart phone and give it a try. I think it’s much more fun to play on a big screen so you can see all the details easily.

arm_screeny_3

Overall, I would recommend this game to anyone who loves tower defense games, and to gamers who feel like they can’t find a tower defense game worth their time. The combination of price, graphics, audio bits, and fantastic upgrade system make this game one of my favorites I’ve tried so far!

Tl;dr – Alien Robot Monsters is a fun tower defense game that won’t bore you!  Thanks to fun graphics, interesting upgrade systems, and a price that can’t be beat, this winner from Kraftix Games is one you should definitely get for your game library.

Rating – 9.5/10

Purchase – Steam £4.79/$5.99

Trailer –

Let’s take a look at … – Game Corp DX

Game Corp DX is a causal business simulator from Endless Loop Studios about running a game studio. After the successes of an original flash version, that to-date has over 5 million plays, Game Corp DX is a full rebuild with full screen support, faster performance, steam integration, and a boat-load of polish. Let’s take a look.

screeny_1

Game Corp DX starts with a tutorial covering the game’s mechanics, though there’s really not that much too it! You have a game studio under your control, and it’s your task to make as much money and games as you can. If you’ve played Game Dev Tycoon, Game Corp DX is like a much simplified version.

You can hire staff, fire staff, train them up, plan multiple projects and create the best games possible. Each game you create has a star rating assigned that is determined by the skill of your workers. As they build games their skills increase and so does the quality of the games created, and the revenue returned.

screeny_2

Each worker can also specialise in a certain area of development: Art, Sound, Code and Writing. Each skill has multiple levels, and the higher the level of the skill, the better software that employee can use, netting a better start rating for the title. Be careful though! As your employees gain levels and skill their wages increase! I spent all my money upgrading their skills, ready to make the most badass game possible, then all their wages shot up and I went bankrupt. Lesson learned.

There are a few ways in which the games you make can be customized. For one, you build games based around a team size. For example, a micro game requires only 2 staff, and is cheaper to produce, while a medium game required 10, is more expensive, but will get a much higher rating! There are also a number of pre-set game types to choose from, with each having a varying emphasis on the different design stats, so choosing the right employees for the job drastically changes the score your game will get. Each game is given a star rating, and the higher the rating, the more money the game will make!

screeny_3

Aside from control over what games you make, you have control over the space in which you work. Walls can be knocked down and re-built to build your office how you like, decorations and equipment can be purchased, along with necessities such as fridges and water coolers. The employees in the studio react to your environment, so the nicer it the better they work.

Game Corp DX definitely feels ‘flashy’, with the aesthetic being inherited from its flash-based predecessor. The music and sound effects are nothing to write home about either, and blend into the game nicely. All-in-all it’s a fun, little, casual business sim. It’s not bogged down in numbers, and you just get on with it. The downside of this is that it doesn’t offer much depth. You make games, increase your skill, and make better games. Rinse and repeat.

screeny_4

Tl:dr – For £1.99 Game Corp DX offers a fun few hours for those looking for a casual sim experience. Don’t go into it expecting deep mechanics and you won’t be disappointed. Its aesthetic throws back to its flash predecessor, but with the addition of full screen support, trading cards, and lots of polish, the £1.99 for the updated Steam version is worth it in my book!

Rating – 7/10

Purchase – Steam £1.99/£2.99

Trailer –

Let’s take a look at … – Cross of the Dutchman

Cross of the Dutchman is based on the true story of Pier Gerlofs Donia, a legend in the medieval province of Frisna in Western Europe. When his land is threatened by invading Saxon troops, Pier takes the lead on gathering a small force to back them out of their land.

screeny_1

Originally classified as an RPG, this new release from Triangle Studios has been re-labeled as action/ adventure. There are very light RPG elements- leveling up a limited number of health, stamina, and attack options and stats using gold collected in the game. Dialogue with other characters you encounter gives a basic story in between missions and combat. The mini map identifies the direction of your next objective, as well as enemy locations and direction. Gameplay is very straight forward- you attack with your fists or your sword, and each attack style has a “boosted” style that is part of your RPG decision making.

My feelings about this game are conflicted, so I will just list the pros and cons and let you decide!

PROS:

  • Gorgeous colorful graphics
  • Likeable characters
  • Artistic cut-scenes
  • Straightforward combat/easy to learn system
  • Useful mini-map
  • Low price
  • Nice soundtrack and sound effects
  • Good for achievement-hunters

CONS:

  • Very short game (estimated 4-8 hours depending on your style)- probably not much replay value
  • Attack direction is often difficult to get right- end up punching or swinging at air a lot
  • Stealth mode sections can be incredibly frustrating, especially when the save point is several minutes back
  • Some lag experienced during character dialogue and one fight
  • Little depth to the characters or story
  • Not too many areas- spend a lot of time running back and forth between already-explored areas

screeny_2

I think this game has a lot of potential, but as it stands, it doesn’t contain much depth. I’d like to see the attack issue cleared up. I saw others on the forums mentioning this issue as well, so maybe this developer, who has been very kind and receptive to reviews and comments, will find a way to get that fixed. However, for the price and despite its limitations, this game is worth picking up to have some casual fighting fun.

Tl;dr –  Cross of the Dutchman is an action adventure game with light RPG elements that is worth checking out for its colorful graphics and simple play style. The game is light on story line and character development, but fans of medieval history should pick up this casual based-on-a-true-story game.

Rating – 7.5/10

Purchase – Steam £5.99/$8.99 (15% discount until September 17th £5.09/$7.64)

Trailer –

Let’s take a look at … – M4 Tank Brigade

Early Access can be a great thing. It allows communities to experience a game before its complete, providing valuable feedback to the developer regarding improvements and ideas. As a reward for showing your support early on, you get the full game a discounted price and get to experience the process of a game being built. Everyone is a winner.

Unfortunately, there’s another side of Early Access. Sometimes games that look to have little hope of ever making an impact in a world enter Early Access, and the only thing you get is the experience of being let down, frustrated or wishing you hadn’t made that purchase. M4 Tank Brigade unfortunately falls into the latter. This game is riddled with poor control, graphical anomalies, collision detection issues, and sound choices that will make you want to punch your monitor they are so bad.

m4_screeny_1

In the tutorial you are provided with an abundance of information, which is a good thing. Everything from how to move, change positions from turret, to driver, to machine gunner, change squadrons, call in airstrikes, and hunt the enemy down. Though, while doing so, you’re forced to listen to some of the worst dialogue (content and quality) I have ever heard.

The voices sound like they were recorded in a basement, and try to push off the stereotypical ‘Drill Sergeant’ persona. The combination of “Hit any key to continue”, and “Way to go!” blasting through my speakers, because no one bothered to adjust the audio levels of the recorded dialogue, were almost enough to make me not want to finish the tutorial. Not to mention there are two different voices that are used. It’s confusing and just beyond bad.

m4_screeny_2

Things unfortunately don’t get any better in-game. The controls are very confusing, and once you’re in your tank, simple tasks such as driving, switching positions, and shooting are non-trivial; your tank continues to move and you can’t steer it. In what I expect is a WWII tank simulator, why would there not be multiple people per tank?

Trying navigate the mini map requires the mouse, but the mouse can’t be used in the tank. As a result you will find yourself moving your hand from mouse to the arrow keys, all while trying to aim the turret and keep your tank in position. It’s very unintuitive and overly complicated.

m4_screeny_3

The landscape is ridiculously barren. Between a few houses and anti-tank barriers, there is literally nothing. Not even trees in most cases. In addition, the collision detection doesn’t always work. You can run into a house and stop dead in your tracks, while other obstacles allow you to pass right through. The terrain is also pretty flat, with a few bumps along your path, are giant trenches that will put you in a huge bind if you find yourself in. They are best to be avoided unless you are taking cover from fire.

I did enjoy the explosions, and found the AI to be aggressive and intimidating; however, the enormous lack of polish, lack of an online community, and a host of better games already on the market make this game forgettable. It’s best to avoid playing this game at least till it comes out of Early Access. Maybe by then it will be an entirely different game, but who knows when that will happen if ever.

m4_screeny_4

Tl;dr M4 Tank Brigade is an ugly, irritating, unpolished action tank simulator that is currently overcharging for the content it provides. Graphically it’s about as barren as a desert, and the audio is awful to the point where you’d almost rather turn it off and just read the text provided. Controls are overly complicated and counterintuitive which may be the biggest issue with this game. I’m not sure what sort of crowd wants a game like this. If you are a huge WWII tank buff, or historian, you may find a way to enjoy it … if not, I’d recommend waiting till it’s out of Early Access before even considering it.

Rating – 3/10

Purchase – Steam £10.99/$14.99

Trailer – 

Let’s take a look at … – Xeodrifter (PS Vita)

Last week we covered the news that Xeodrifter, a metro-style platformer from award winning indie devs Regenage Kid, is now available on PS Vita. Well, we’ve since been given a key, and I’ve been playing it! Here’s what I think of Xeodrifter on Vita.

xeo_screeny_1

Let me start by clarifying that I’ve not played Xeodrifter on any other platform before, so all comments are in regards to the Vita version only. This also directly contributed to my confusion playing the title.

Let’s start from the beginning. The game opens to a view of a space ship travelling through space. You hit a comet, take damage that wipes out your warp drive, and you find yourself stranded in the middle of a small collection of planets. You’re free to visit any of them, so I head to the top one. I step onto the planet, and get owned. Really owned. Try another planet, and it’s full of water and I can’t swim. Another planet and a big eyed bastard fires a laser at me and fries me instantly. WHAT IS GOING ON!

xeo_screeny_2

The first 15 minutes playing Xeodrifter was the most I’ve been confused playing a game in a long time. Everything seemed to just own me, paths were blocked, and the menu looked like something that was found at Roswell. I had no idea what I was doing, but managed to stumble upon my first boss, and decided to run at him shooting … poor decision. Xeodrifter is a hard game. It’s one of these where you don’t just run around and go crazy on a boss, you have to learn the moves, the patterns, and execute your moves carefully in response.

After what seemed like 3 million deaths, I took a deep breath, watched the bosses moves, and I killed him! The problem was I was so frustrated by this point, that I didn’t really saver the victory. Part of this was down to my own inability, but I don’t want to take all the blame. Xeodrifter could do more to tell you what’s going on. You’re given nothing. I only knew there was an upgrade system for your weapon because of Steam comments I’ve read! It’s very much a case of ‘work it out yourself’ but, for me, it’s a bit too much. The smallest of tutorials would have helped immensely in getting into the game, and skipping the whole ‘I want to throw my Vita into the road’ phase.

xeo_screeny_3

After killing my first boss I was back to a brick wall, with every path seemingly lead to either a dead-end or an unbeatable enemy. I resorted to a YouTube walkthrough to see what was going on. And then it clicked. The video showed that there are hidden powerups throughout the levels that you really need to collect to continue. That in turn made the menu make sense, and the fact that some paths were blocked now made total sense; I don’t have the correct abilities yet, so need to come back. The YouTube video provided the context and instructions that I think should be there from the start; at-least in some capacity.

Controls are very simple. With the left stick you move, and then you press square you’ll shoot in the direction you’re aiming. That means your limited to only shooting in four absolute directions, but that’s part of the Metroid charm that the game has. Movement feels good for the most part. Sometime when jumping up multiple ledges, the inertia that the character carries felt cumbersome, but for the most part they feel good.

xeo_screeny_4

As mentioned, hidden throughout the levels are health and weapon upgrades, and these really are key to moving forward. Your weapon has a number of different categories that can be upgraded that range from increasing fire speed, power and scatter shot etc. Something I really like about this system is you have three weapon setups available, you’re not limited to picking a single setup. You can assign your upgrade points three times, to create three individual setups and change between them at any point.

There are 7 bosses I believe in Xeodrifter, I’m only up to bass 2 myself, and each boss drops a power when defeated. These are entire game mechanics, and are required to continue working through the planets. The first one you receive is the submarine. Finally, now I understand why everywhere was blocked with water! The second upgrade you get is a Phase Shift which allows you to shift between the front and back layer. Again, much more of the planets are now accessible so it’s time to revisit each and find what you missed.

xeo_screeny_5

Xeodrifter is a tough game, and I’ve played tough games before that make you really work for your score, but I just wasn’t feeling it with Xeodrifter. I’ve been looking for a game like this for my Vita for a while now, and really thought this would be it, but it missed the mark for me. It’s not a bad game by any means, but I just didn’t feel very rewarded after the tough battles and the work needed to progress. It felt very empty.

If I hadn’t had found that YouTube video explaining the game, I would have just put it down after the first 20 minutes. I’m glad I didn’t, I enjoyed my time with it, but I don’t think my play time will get much higher.

Tl:dr – Xeodrifter is a tough and confusing Metroid style platformer. If you stick with it enough to learn how to enjoy it, there is a good experience in there. For those not into their hard-core platformers this will turn into an exercise in self-control. Those into their tough platformers may relish the challenge, but for me it wasn’t substantial enough to justify the work it wanted.

Rating – 6.5/10

Purchase – £6.99/$9.99 Steam | PSN

Trailer –

Let’s take a look at … – Master Spy

Master Spy is a stealth platformer from TURBOGUN games. Comprised of just two developers, John Coxworth (Art) and Kris Truitt (Dev), TURBOGUN have been working on Master Spy for the past few years, in-between their full time jobs. With pixel-cinematic goodness, and tight and unforgiving platforming, it really impressed us. Let’s take a look.

mspy_screeny_1

We have to start with the great pixel-art. Pixel-art is used frequently in indie games, but few get it as right as Master Spy does. The environments are large, and packed with hand-pixelated detail. The characters and obstacles look and feel great. There are also full cutscenes constructed through just pixel art. They are kind of comic book style, with a maybe a frame every few seconds, and they work great.

Working hand-in-hand with the aesthetic is the awesome backing track. The team brought in composer André Allen Anjos (RAC), and I’m very glad we did. His music brings a lot to the game, and ranges from pumped pieces whilst in combat, to slow acoustic numbers in the cutscenes. It’s as diverse as the game environments, and they wont great together.

mspy_screeny_2

Master Spy plays just as good as it looks and sounds. Controls or devilishly simply; one button to jump (a quick double tap produces a slightly longer jump), and button to activate your invisibility jacket. The trivial controls in absolutely non-trivial situations makes you work for each level. My only reservation with the controls is that I’d like the main character to move a bit quicker. That’s mainly to make it easier! His slow speed can make jumps a bit more difficult, but I guess that’s the point!

The goal of the levels is to get the key-card, and reach the door . . . If only it was that simple. Whilst doing so you’re also avoiding rabid dogs, guards, lasers, and much more. Each level requires you to take a step back, watch the patterns of your adversaries, and strike when you feel you can make it. You’re probably wrong, you can’t make it, so prepare to die lots.

mspy_screeny_3

Gameplay is very fast, as is the respawn time. Ala Meatboy, where when you die you’re running again before you know it. This fast respawn time makes dying not TOO much of a problem. I’ve had some rage-inducing moments where I get stuck on a certain part, but at least there’s no delay to trying again. If you get a certain length through a level, there is usually a checkpoint, so you don’t have to go right back to the start which is good. My controller would be in the neighbour’s yard if I would have had to go to the start of each level after each death!

The line between a successful run and a death is razor thin. Truly, unless you’re the chosen one, the only way to complete the levels is to study your enemies, their patterns in this level, and then going for it. No delaying, you’ll just die, pick a plan and run with it. It feels great when you’ve just ran past a dog, up onto a car, quickly applied your invisibility cloak before the camera could see you, then slowly sneak out the door.

mspy_screeny_4

You play as Master Spy, a … master spy who’s been tasked with recovering a tape for Gale-Electro. The game appears to have 5 main missions, each taking place in a new environment, and over a number of different smaller rooms and tasks. I have 40 minutes play-time into the title, and think im roughly half way through mission two. I’m sure however as the game gets tougher my progress will significantly slow down. I’ve seen some gifs of the later levels and they make me shudder!

After each mission you’re given a spy grade for speed, sneakiness, and an overall Spy Grade. After my first run of mission 1 I have 52 deaths, and scored F in speed, F in sneakiness, and a grade of Novice overall. There’s plenty of room to improve, and I plan on doing just that.

mspy_screeny_5

Tl;dr – Master Spy is a brilliant stealth-platformer. With simple controls, and devilish environments paced with dangers, it takes a sharp mind to find the correct path, and even sharper skill to execute. The pixel graphics are great, with the pixelated cutscenes taking that one step further. Throw into that the amazing soundtrack, and you have simply a great game that any platforming fan should play.

Rating – 9/10

Purchase – Steam £6.99/$9.99 (10% discount until 15th September £6.29/$8.99)

Trailer –

Let’s take a look at … – Mos Speedrun 2

Mos Speedrun 2 is a precision platformer recently released by Physmo. Sure, there are plenty of platformers out there, but Mos Speedrun 2 brings some unique game features to the table that makes it stand out. Fans of precision platform should definitely give it a look in, so let’s check it out!

mos_speedrun_2_screeny_1

This cute, colorful, pixel-graphics game offers 30 levels of challenge. Guide your little creature through the map, jumping over enemies, picking up coins, capturing way-points, bopping around moving platforms, and avoiding the plentiful environmental hazards.

In typical precisions platformer style, one hit will send you back to the start of the level. The only respite are way-points that can be found at various points throughout the levels. They’re only good for one use though, die twice and you go back to the beginning regardless. Get to the end to unlock the next map! Simple idea, but the play isn’t as easy as it sounds.

mos_speedrun_2_screeny_2

You can make getting to the end of the map your goal, but if you want to challenge yourself to be the best, you can beat the level in the lowest time possible, collect all the coins around the map, and also discover the gold skulls hidden in various, dangerous spots. There is definitely a lot of replay value for those who want to improve their previous score and earn badges for completing goals.

Another cute aspect of this game is the costume feature. By finishing levels, you can unlock new items to wear on your adventures, which mix and match. Lastly, one unique option is to have “ghosts” turned on, so you can see your previous runs, best run, and friends’ runs in that map while you play.

mos_speedrun_2_screeny_3

I used a controller for this game. Obviously, the major action in platformers is jumping. Moving the joystick up created one type of jump, while hitting a button created another. This took some getting used to, but generally, the controls are intuitive. (Although I’m still trying to get used to wall jumps)

I waste a lot of time trying to get this platforming just right, and often wind up killing myself anyways! It definitely takes a lot of patience and can be very frustrating, but successive runs will help you get better at each level and eventually pass it. Then you start all over on the next one!

Tl;dr – This game is everything a precision platformer needs: basic graphics, tight controls, a learning curve, and plenty replayability. Dive in as deep into mastering this game as you want, it has plenty to offer for any type of platforming player.

Rating – 7.5/10

Purchase – Steam £5.99/$8.99 (On sale for £5.39/$8.09 until September 10th)

Trailer –

Let’s take a look at … – STASIS

STASIS is a sci-fi point-and-click adventure game from The Brotherhood. Kickstarted back in 2013, STASIS received $132,523 of its $100,000 target, and today launches on both Steam and GOG. Inspired by the game Sanitarium, and made by a one-man-band Chris Bischoff over the past five years, STASIS promises a true, horror sci-fi experience. Let’s take a look.

stasis_screeny_1

STASIS starts with an awesome, movie-like introduction, showing a ship flying through space. The music, art, and direction show clearly already that the title is not lacking production value. You wake up on an abandoned ship, fresh out of a stasis chamber, with no recollection of what’s happened. The last thing you remember is you, your wife, and your daughter were heading to Titan.

You are alone. Not only on the ship, but in regards to gameplay and problem solving; you are truly on your own. There are no goals, no objectives, and no tips on where to go next. Only through meticulous exploration of your environment, and taking careful note of your surroundings, and the scraps of information provided, will you be able to progress.

stasis_screeny_2

Gameplay is typical of point-and-click adventure, and the isometric environments help pull you into the environment. The art utilizes pre-rendered 3D environments, with a gritty, film-grain like layer atop. It creates a very grungy atmosphere, that when coupled with the ambient backing track, and the terrifying sounds the ship makes, creates a very tense and uneasy feeling.

The music and sound in STASIS go a long way, and thanks to the highly successful Kickstarter campaign, two world class musicians, Mark Morgan and Daniel Sadowski worked on the project. Same goes for the excellent voice acting. The Kickstarter funds also allowed professional voice actors Ryan Cooper, and Rebecca McCarthy to join the project. All interaction is excellently narrated which goes further in immersing you in the experience.

stasis_screeny_3

The game starts somewhat slowly at first. You’ve taken damage and are ill, so can’t move too fast. Your first task is to find medical help. You come across an old machine that can help, and the first puzzle presented is to get it up and running. This is a great example of how the game doesn’t molly-coddle you, and leaves it up to you. There are no prompts on where to go. No suggestions on how things work, you just have to work things out. There is a circuit breaker on the wall, and to learn how to use it you have to press all the buttons and see what happens. It’s authentic, and the sense of adventure and the unknown is great.

Information is gained by exploring items, and reading computer terminals. Often, things like this can feel disjointed from the task at hand, and somewhat superfluous. Asif you’re going out of your way to learn extra, non-critical information, but not with STASIS. Everything is relevant to the storyline, and you need to gather the information in order to continue. It’s just you, the operating system that runs the ship, and your intrigue.

stasis_screeny_4

After more delving, and puzzle solving, you discover that you appear to be on a scientific research ship that’s been running for 50 years. How long you’ve been here for god only knows. As you explore the ship further things start taking a turn for the macabre. Corpses lie in empty corridors, screams radiate throughout, and shadows of creatures scurry past the edges of your vision. I’ve also come across another human, and have been instructed to leave the area I’m in immediately. Things are ramping up, and I’m looking forward to seeing where they’re taking me.

Narrative plays a large part in what makes STASIS great. Diligent reading and exploration will yield the greatest results, and you’ll get out of it what you put it. I think if you rush through it, just solving the puzzles in order to move forward, you might have a lesser experience.

stasis_screeny_5

I’m about an hour and a half into STASIS, and it’s clear that a rich and well produced journey lies ahead. A grungy and rich aesthetic makes the environments real, and the excellent voice acting brings the characters to life. I love the fact that the game really leaves you in your own. It’s a true adventure game, not ‘Go Here, Do This, Collect That’. If you don’t have a sharp mind and approach the environment diligently you won’t get too far. For fans of adventure games, STASIS is a must-play.

Tl:dr – STASIS is a sci-fi, horror, point and click adventure game. With great production value, including the effort of great musicians, and professional voice actors, a fitting world is created to host the rich narrative. It doesn’t hold your hand, and it requires a sharp mind and key eye to progress. You’ll get out of it what you put in, and if you invest in it you will be rewarded with a great experience.

Rating – 8.5/10

Purchase – Steam £18.99 | GOG £18.99 (£15.29 with launch discount)

Trailer –