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 … – 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 –

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.

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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

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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 –

Indie Showcase … – De Mambo

De Mambo is a fast-paced single-screen action platformer currently in development by The Dangerous Kitchen. Supporting up to four players, De Mambo is “kinda Smash Bros, sorta Breakout and somewhat nothing like either of these since it has its own swing”. Interested? Yeah. Me too!

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The aim of the game is to knock you opponent off the screen with the three attacks available to you. Controls consist of the D-Pad and a single button to perform all three attacks depending on how you use it. Head here for a tutorial on ‘How to De Mambo’. The environment around you is also destructible, so as you smash through your opponents, the level will start crumbling around you!

De Mambo will feature: (The ones in bold are yet to come)

  • One Button Action – easy to learn, hard to master gameplay designed to use one action button and a D-Pad/keys
  • Multiplayer – roughhouse up to four of your friends/enemies in Mambo
  • Loser Rail – the feature designed to give you a second chance, for those of you not good enough to win
  • Flimsy Architecture – Breakable environment for reactive gameplay
  • Single-Player – A lone wolf mode that that we like to describe as ‘Zelda 2 meets WarioWare’
  • Challenge Mode – Replay challenges from single-player with multiplayer functionality and also send custom challenges to friends.
  • Multiplayer Stages – a wide variety of new multiplayer stages
  • New Gameplay Modes – Same core Mambo gameplay, new ways to play

De Mambo has been shown at various events over the last 12 months, and will be taken to EGX and Tokyo Game Show this September. Currently slated for release on: PS3, PS4, PS Vita, PC, Mac, and Linux, The Dangerous Kitchen are currently running a Kickstarter to fund the last stages of development.

With 27 days left of the campaign, they’ve already reached 42% of their £15,000 goal! De Mambo is also on Greenlight, so if make sure to drop a vote over there if you want to see the title on Steam. Last but not least, there’s a free demo available so you can get first-hand experience with De Mambo.

I’ll leave you with the trailer as usual. Mark my words, you’ll be seeing lots more of De Mambo once it approaches release, it’s a perfect party-title to play and have fun with friends!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 –

Indie Showcase … – Netw0rm

Netw0rm is a 3D action/runner game by indie studio Cuddly Zombie Games. We were recently given access to a build, and was pleasantly surprised! It’s a fun little action game, with a great premise, but has a few flaws. We were originally going to review the title, but given the fact that it’s not yet available, we’re going to bring it to you guys via the showcase, then we’ll conduct our review upon release.

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Netw0rm is an action shooter surrounding hacking. Yeah, how cool is that! You play the role of what I presume is a systems admin, and you have control over a system called the mothership. You can buy parts for your system, upgrade its hardware, and buy tools to help you hack. The game interface is pretty simple, and it looks like you’re working on an old computer terminal. It’s minimalistic and fits the mood and theme of the game well.

Gameplay sees you hacking into servers of multiple companies and instituted in order to steal data. What you do with this data is up to you. Leak it, or sell it on the black market for more credits in order to upgrade your PC. The hacking mechanic involved travelling down a tube, with multiple obstacles in your way. The steam page states:

“The game is inspired, in part, by the hacking sequences from 80’s sci-fi films and TV shows. In various films, hacking into a computer was represented in a very videogame-like way, navigating along a series of wireframe environments, dodging enemies and barriers as they attempted to break into the heart of the system.”

 The developer achieves this, and the game feels very much that way. You play the hack, you have to keep a certain space otherwise the trace will find you, and the obstacles in your way and things like ICE blockers, for which you need a certain type of program to overcome. But be careful, programs require both RAM and CPU cycles, so you need to manage your system carefully.

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The premise to the game is great, but unfortunately I feel there are problems with the fundamentals. The movement during gameplay feels … sluggish and flawed. It’s not as fun as it could be. The developer states that the game is ready to launch as soon as Greenlit, but I’d like to see some more time spent polishing the feel of the controls, and I’m sure others will agree.

Another potential issue I see is with repetitiveness. Given what I’ve played, I’m not sure how long it could hold the attention of the player without becoming too repetitive.

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Despite some concerns, I think Netw0rm is a fun game. The premise is great, I just feel the controls need some TLC to reach their maximum potential. If you want to check out the game, head over to its Greenlight page and drop your vote!

Here’s the trailer so you can get a feel for gameplay.

Let’s talk about … – Volume now available

Volume, the long awaited follow up from Mike Bithell, creator of Thomas Was Alone, has launched today for Windows, OS X, PS4 and PS Vita.

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Volume is a modern ‘reimagining of the Robin Hood legend’. You play as Robert Locksley, a petty thief whose main weapon is Stealth. Gisborne Industries have taken over England, running the nation as a corporatocracy, and you’re going to stop him. With 100 levels of stealth action, and a range of different gadgets to help you get them, there’s plenty of varied stealth-action to be found through the campaign.

There’s also a fully featured level editor, so the community will be able to create are share maps, adding even more content and diversity to the title.

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Danny Wallace returns once again to provide narration for a witty AI, along-side Charlie McDonnell staring as Robert himself, and the critically-acclaimed actor Andy Serkis providing the voice of Guy Gisborne, the main enemy. Another familiar face in Bithell’s work, David Housden makes a return with another incredible soundtrack, which is also now available to download via iTunes, or as DLC on Steam.

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Reviews for Volume are already coming in, and they’re good! It looks like it’s living up to the hype, and we’re going to try and get a key to perform our own review.

Volume can be purchased on Steam for £14.99/$19.99, with a 10% launch discount (£13.49/17.99) until 24 August, and on PSN for PS4 and Vita.

Will you be buying Volume? Do you own it already? Let us know in the comments what you think if it so far if you do! Here’s the release trailer!

Indie Showcase … – WATER : THE WORLD IN CHAOS

WATER : THE WORLD IN CHAOS is a challenging, beautiful and amusing 2D sci-fi action game set in space. The story of this is brilliant: Foolien, the boss of the aliens, is watching Earth TV one day, and sees a huge waterpark. Envious of the brilliant time use meat bags seam to be having, he decides he wants to build his own. Problem is, Foolien’s planet has fallen short of water, so he looks towards Earth to sort that.

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To thwart Foolien’s plans, you play the role of an astronaut determined to save the world from the onslaught of water-stealing aliens. The key features of the game are:

  • Challenging and exciting gameplay in over 80 various levels
  • 4 awesome heroes with jetpacks capable of different power and speeds
  • Different types of enemies such as crazy robots, strange creatures
  • Spare your life by collecting drops of water Obstacles such as laser, propeller blades …
  • Easy control and amazing art with fun combat.
  • Fight again and again to get the best time possible and a glorious three star rating!
  • Break your keyboard or controller out of anger!
  • Battle your friends down to the mini second on the leaderboards

To defeat the aliens you will need to complete a vast range of levels that require both skill and mental capacity. The quicker you complete the levels, the more starts you get, and the more worlds you unlock.

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WATER : THE WORLD IN CHAOS is currently on Steam Greenlight, and has an active Kickstarter campaign that could use some love. If the game looks like fun, then make sure you head over to the Greenlight and Kickstarter pages and show your interest; I’m certainly looking forward to playing it!

Let’s take a look at … – Breach and Clear: DEADline

Breach and clear: Deadline is a zombie A-RPG/tactical strategy simulation from Mighty Duck Studios and Gun Media. A follow up to 2014’s Breach and Clear, Deadline offers a new setting for the franchise, with the enemy this time around being a swarm of nasty-ass zombies. The original B&C got great reviews, I haven’t played it myself, and so does the second instalment deliver? Let’s take a look.

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Breach and Clear: Deadline starts with a really nice tutorial mission. It introduces all the combat aspects of the game, but isn’t overpowering as a lot of tutorials are. There is plenty of action, and lots covered. Gameplay is broken in to 2 distinct phases, free movement mode, and command mode. In free movement move it plays like a standard ARPG. You have a squad of 4 characters, and at any one point you are in direct control of 1 of them. Your other teammates will either follow, or stay put, depending on the commands you given them.

Command mode is where things get real, and the strategy aspect of the game comes into play. In strategy mode you gain control over the flow of time, and your view retracts to give a view over the entire situation. You now have unlimited time in order to plan the individual movements and actions of each squad member. Members have a stack of up to three commands, so you can move them into position, set them to use an ability, then open fire as an example. Once all your soldiers have commands you’re happy with, hold space to advance time and watch how the action unfolds. If at any point your movements aren’t working out, you can stop time and set new orders, clearing the previous queue of unexecuted commands.

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The ability to switch between the two at will is great as it means the pace of gameplay is not broken. If you’re working your way up a street, and there are 3 enemies in front, you don’t have to enter combat mode to kill them. You can just continue on your way in real-time combat. When you approach an area and the game automatically kicks into command mode, that’s usually a sign that shit is about to go down, and command mode is probably where you want to be.

At the start of the game you get to create your squad, and this includes picking each member’s speciality. For example, on my squad I have a Fireteam Leader, Scout, Explosives Expert and a Medic. The makeup of your squad is important, and will determine what skills you have available. Each soldier has skills that match their class. So my Explosives Expert can lay mines, and throw satchel charges, while my scout can tag enemies. Getting the right squad makeup to match your play style can really help. Each squad member also has a skill tree with skills from each tree available. You can put skill points onto any tree you want. So if I wanted to fill out the scout skill tree on my explosives expert I could.

These skills unlock better abilities, and like standard RPG skill trees, the more you commit to a single class, the better skills you unlock. Skill points are earned by levelling up, which is a natural progression as you complete quests and kill enemies.

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As a squad of 4 elite soldiers, it’s your job to stop the spread of a deadly new breed of human monsters. You travel across multiple environments, completing main and side quests, collecting gear and levelling up. It’s a very traditional RPG experience. I especially like how much control you have other your kit. For each weapon and piece of gear you can rename it, upgrade it, and add attachments to make it more powerful. This is all done back at headquarters, where you have a workbench to perform your upgrades, and a locker to store any gear you might want later.

Weapons are upgraded using scrap, which is a resource dropped by zombies. It’s essentially the currency of the game, and can also be earned by scrapping weapons and gear that you don’t want. Gear also come in a range of levels, ranging from common to, what I presume is, legendary or something akin to that. I have collected white, green and orange named weapons, with the orange weapon being worth a lot more scrap than the others.

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The environment feels free and open, and you feel totally in control of what you do. There are main quests, with a linear progression, but aside from that you are free to move wherever you want, searching for loot, side quests, or just kicking zombie ass to farm scrap and upgrade your weapons. The map is big, and movement speed is slow, so there are bus terminals scattered around key locations that allow you to fast-travel. This menu is one of the ones that need immediate attention. You go from a nice looking game, to a menu that looks place-holder. One of the uglier parts of the game.

The graphics are nothing to write home about, but it’s an ARPG. You spend most of the time zoomed out, so the graphics are fit for purpose. Nothing special, but nothing particularly bad. Some of the UI could use some work, as it feels a little un-polished in places, but overall it’s nice. The music is great also. High temp tracks when you’re getting down to business get you into the mood for a fight, and compliment the combat experience well.

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From what I’ve seen so far, I think B&C:D looks and plays great. The UI for the most part is nice and easy to use, some areas are shocking and need immediate work, the graphics are up to par for what you’d expect from an A-RPG, and the gameplay is lots of fun. Yet, if you head over to the steam page, it’s sitting on an underwhelming mixed review average with 66% positive reviews, and lots of that points towards bugs and issues with multiplayer. I have 6 hours in the title, and I can honestly say I haven’t run into a single significant bug. Sure, I’ve seen a few textures flicker every now and again, but that’s hardly game breaking, and happens so seldom that you could easily forget about it. Multiplayer on the other hand is a different story.

At first I simply couldn’t find a multiplayer game open to join. Not a great start. I decided to host one, and jump into the game. Your single player save works on multiplayer, you just open the lobby up to others, which is nice. I played for around half an hour, and forgot I was hosting a lobby until the game paused on me for some reason. When you play online, and the other person pauses the game, it pauses yours also! It’s horrible. The person that joined my lobby just sat paused meaning I couldn’t do anything. Sure I could have kicked him, but I want to play online with someone!

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I eventually had someone join and stay, but he left pretty quickly, and that was the end of my multiplayer experience, no-one else joined. Other have reported big problems with it, and the developer has since released an update saying a reset of the servers fixed a lot of issues. I wish I could say more, but I just haven’t seen enough of it. My experience as it took a while for people to join, and when they did I just ended up sitting on a pause screen. If you’re looking to play online with friends, I’d wait until people are confirming that the multiplayer issues are sorted.

Steam reviews almost unanimously give tales of bugs and an unfinished product. I understand this regarding the multiplayer, but I’ve not encountered a single significant issue in the single player in my X hour play time. My only complaint is that the characters move too slowly. Hardly a big deal. Maybe I came in after they had been fixed, but the Steam reviews don’t reflect the experience I have had so far. I’ve really enjoyed the 6 hours I have in the game, and will be back for more. I’ll also be buying the first tile in the franchise.

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Maybe I missed the launch issues and they’re now fixed, or I’m a lucky one. But Bread and Clear: Deadline to me is a fun A-RPG, which great depth of control and good gameplay. Multiplayer is currently lacking and a feels empty, so take that into consideration if you like to play online a lot. I had fun with my team and look forward to finishing it.

Tl:dr – Breach and Clear: Deadline is a fun zombie ARPG, with a great tactical combat system. Graphics and sounds help deliver a good experience, and despite current Steam reviews I found no bugs or crashes. Multiplayer is both empty and flawed at the moment, so if you’re buying it solely to play online I’d hold off until it’s definitely sorted. I’ve really enjoyed playing the game, I currently have 6 hours in the title, and will be finishing it off.

Rating – 7/10

Purchase – Steam £14.99 (£10.04 until August 3rd)

Trailer – 

Let’s take a look at … – RONIN

Ronin a side-scrolling action-platformer developed by Tomasz Waclawek and published by Devolver Digital. I’ve played games published by Devolver before, all of which are extremely stylized and unique. Ronin does not disappoint, and I quickly fell into the world that this game was portraying.

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The first few levels serve as a tutorial, getting you into the swing of the games play-style. You control your street ninja by jumping, wall climbing and slicing through levels. Complete the 3 optional objectives in each stage (avoid triggering the alarm, kill all enemies, spare civilians) and you’ll earn a skill point which you can then spend on various upgrades to how your character can attack. They call these Limit Breaks.

The most interesting aspect of Ronin is the combination of a turn based combat system with free-flowing movement. Each level consists of a combination of buildings with locked doors, windows and elevators. Each building has computer terminals to hack, and bad guys to kill; it’s your task to work your way through them. The moment you are spotted by the enemy the game switched to the turn-based system, allowing you to plan out your attack. Enemies’ bullets or movements will be reflected as a red line that shows the path they’re going to take to attack you. Once the turn has ended you make your next move by either jumping on them, for stunning purposes, or by cutting them down with your sword. Kill enough enemies and the skills you’re able to purchase come into play as your limit break goes up, allowing you to perform more elaborate sequences. Throw your sword, create a decoy, or even teleport to an enemy to gain the advantage. The odds are often against you, you but with careful planning, and the right combination of skills, every fight is winnable.

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There is a story underpinning Ronin, although it’s a bit cryptic. You aren’t even sure what your name is, or the true meaning behind some of the bigger targets you will have to go up against.  It appears someone did you wrong and you’re on a crusade for retribution. The boss fights offer interesting scenarios, requiring even more careful planning to defeat them and their cronies. Enemies are fairly varied. There are agents with pistols, super agents with machine guns that fire for two rounds and a samurai who is just a PAIN in the ass to kill. There are also civilians that can be killed, but that should be avoided unless you plan on not earning your coveted skill point. If the civilians see or hear you, for example if you break a window near one, they’ll trigger the alarm. They’re almost as dangerous as the enemies shooting at you!

Each level felt familiar but there was enough variance to keep me interested for the 7 hours I played. There are only 2 music tracks, but both are great and really add to the atmosphere. I wasn’t able to finish it as the last mission is real crazy, but I was engaged throughout and really enjoyed my time. Once I finish the game I’ll update on the story more so be sure to check back for that.

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Tl:dr – Ronin is a side-scrolling action-platformer, with turn based combat, that adds a fresh perspective to the stealth kill genre. Great atmosphere, music and combat system allow this game to shine where others have lacked. Currently in early beta access, it feels complete enough to warrant the purchase. With a skill tree allowing new abilities to be unlocked, retribution will be swift on the ones who have done you wrong. I definitely recommend giving this a shot if you are looking for a fresh challenge in this genre.

Rating – 8/10

Purchase – Steam £9.99 (Early Access)

Trailer –