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 … – 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 … – 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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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 talk about … – Socuwan looks to Kickstarter for funding

Socuwan is an Indie MMORPG currently in development by Karl Wimble. The title has been in development for over three years, and is written using a custom game engine created using Java and Open GL. Promising ‘a slightly quirky and refreshing twist on your usual, run-of-the-mill MMO’, Socuwan is now on Kickstarter looking to fund the rest of development.

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Socuwan is touted as being by the community, for the community: that’s certainly the case. Over the last two years of development, the community have provided around three quarters of the game content, including models, animations, textures, sound effects and music.

This community orientation carries itself through to gameplay, with a cooperative killing system and worwide duelling tournaments. Playing together will be rewarded, aiming to thwart the typical MMORPG process of finding a quiet area to grind.

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You can find more about the game on its website, and here is a breakdown of some gameplay highlights:

  • Worldwide duelling tournaments
  • Co-operative skilling system
  • Player owned houses in the game world
  • No grinding
  • Unique combat system
  • Thousands of weapon combinations
  • A diverse and unique looking world which is created by the community

If you like the look of Socuwan, then be sure to head by the Kickstarter campaign. With 18 days to go, the campaign has reached 12% of its goal so could use some love! The developer also has a long-running YouTube series document the development process, so check that out here if you’re interested. I’ll leave you with the kickstarter video for the title so you can get a better idea as to what Socuwan really is!

Indie Showcase – Overfall

Time for another Indie Showcase! Overfall is a seafaring RPG with a rich backstory, and gameplay that is determined by the player’s actions. Recently greenlit, and with a Kickstarter campaign at 56% of its goal with 11 days to go, let’s take a quick look at the title from Pera Games.

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Overfall is a tale of redemption and retaliation. After being caught in the act stealing a powerful artefact, the artefact’s guardians (the Vorn) rush back to your world in retaliation. With two of the Everking’s nine heroes (Fighter, Cleric, Monk, Guardian, Druid, Rogue, Warlord, Ranger, and Wizard), your mission is to find your missing ruler, and save the world from imminent destruction.

Dys is a rich and bountiful world, with a number races, each with their own political backstories and agendas. With everything in the world being the result of player decision, your actions will determine the alliances, and enemies, that will be forged throughout the game. If you decide to help a Dwarf early in the game for example, the Goblins might not appreciate it and cause trouble later down the line.

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Combat is presented in a turn-bases system with three distinct phases: mobility, utility, and attack. With each class having unique abilities, which can be chained for devastating results, there’s plenty of combinations and strategies to be taken into combat. Be careful though, death in Overfall is permanent, with only your unlocks surviving between runs.

To check out the game in more detail you can visit the Greenlight page, and if you wish to contribute to the Kickstarter campaign you can find its page here. Also, here’s the Kickstarter trailer so you can check the game out for yourself.

[Disclaimer: The goal of the Indie Showcase is to give indies exposure. Most content comes from press releases, and is not the personal opinion of anyone from IGUK.]

Let’s take a look at … Ori and the Blind Forest

Every so often a game comes along that pushes the boundaries of video game visuals and art direction. Ori and the Blind Forest by Moon Studios is one such game. It transports you to a world full of beauty, danger, exploration, and emotion like no other. It’s a game in its own category.

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Within the first 10 minutes I was almost in full tear factory mode. You become invested immediately, and what Ori does to the player within the opening scene is what “UP” by Pixar did in its opening scene. It grabs you so hard you are forced to continue to find out what might come next.

You play as Ori, a small nimble creature (a forest spirit) that traverses a beautiful, naturalistic, and unfamiliar world in which he finds himself thrust to learn more about his origins. The only thing to do is move forward, but it’s not without its perils. To slap the genre of MetroidVania on this title would be fairly accurate, but it’s also heavy on platforming and RPG elements such that you learn new abilities via an experience points system. They can be chosen from 3 different branches depending on what your play style is, and can be maxed out by the end of the game.

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Being a fan of Metroid style games, I was immediately at home with Ori. I would see something in the distance that I knew I couldn’t get, learn a new ability and come back to claim my prize.  Thankfully the game allows you to learn abilities that make these items show up on the map, so no guesswork is involved in finding them. It was refreshing to see a developer put the time in to letting the player have more fun and worry less about writing everything down, or trying to remember what locations they would have to return to.

In addition to the painting like scenery, the soundtrack was equally as amazing. Tranquil music would play while exploring the world, and then ramp-up during a scene of particular importance, or when the situation takes a dire turn. It raises the tension well, and then gently calms the player down, allowing them to focus on exploring. It’s beautiful, and adds to your investment in the game and its environment incredibly well.

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All in all, Ori and the Blind Forest was everything I could have wanted in a game of this genre.  With beautiful music, well thought out move sets, gorgeous visuals, RPG elements, and a world that comes together seamlessly… there isn’t much more you could ask for.  It’s truly a remarkable game and experience.

Tl:dr – Some people buy games based on story, art direction, or gameplay. Ori and the Blind Forest offers all 3, and brings them together in majestic harmony to create of the better games by an indie studio that I’ve played in years. It’s full of emotion, visual brilliance, and gameplay that shows the dedication and talent that Moon Studios put into this game. It’s a no brainer that if you like MetroidVania style games, or are just looking for a good platformer/RPG, Ori and the Blind Forest will satisfy your every need and leave you wanting more.

Rating – 9.5/10

Buy – Steam £14.99/$19.99 

Trailer –

Let’s take a look at … – The Dungeoning

My default favorite game type is RPG rogue-like platformers, so I didn’t hesitate to review Nick Donnelly’s The Dungeoning, which was released in April of last year. Despite the mixed reviews on Steam, I was determined to give this retro-style game a fair shot.

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This game is exactly what you’d expect from something of this genre- a procedural dungeon map with ghosts, bats, and other creepy crawlies, with chests and boxes to open, potions, and basic weapons to upgrade. Upgrade your character with the experience you get from kills. This is all very straightforward….and then there’s perma-death. Extremely frustrating, but that’s the reason I love these types of games.

The game tosses you in head-first. There’s very little instruction besides some pop-up tips that occasionally show up in the lower right of the screen. No real storyline. Music was nothing exciting.  Graphics are retro and simple, but I liked them immediately. Controls were not as intuitive as I’d liked (I often manage to use potions instead of wielding my sword). Of course, I died almost instantly right off the bat. The few achievements I earned in my following runs didn’t synch with Steam until about two hours of game-play in. For an achievement Nazi like me, that’s a big no-no.

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I decided quickly that I hated the game. It was boring and quirky and didn’t have much charm to it.  The controls (which I refused to even look into rebinding- I like testing the game as-is) and achievement issues bothered me. There wasn’t anything unique about this particular game that would make it more interesting than some of my other favorite rogue-likes, such as Rogue Legacy with its hilarious traits or Binding of Isaac with its black humor or Ascendant with its unique graphics and weapons.

I then realized something. I kept playing it. I couldn’t stop. Despite the lack of anything unique in this game, I found myself going back to it to try again. I still die often, but quickly made it to level nine after being stuck on level six for too many runs. I learned more about the way to react to baddies and how to upgrade intelligently, and my achievements came rolling in. Oh no, am I addicted? I think I am! Who cares about the music- I muted it and put my own on. Yeah, there isn’t anything unique about this particular game, but it does what it should- gets you hooked and makes you want to do better than your last run.

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So, I don’t hate the game. I actually LIKE it. It continues to frustrate me, but for other reasons. Level nine took it from difficult to insane- too many enemies around me to survive. It’s hard to live if you get swarmed and don’t have enough potions and items to heal yourself. I figure this is something else I’ll learn to overcome as I keep trying over and over.

Overall, I don’t think this game really deserves its mixed reviews. I give it a thumbs-up. If you just want a difficult perma-death rogue-like to play, pick this game up. Worried about it being worth it? It’s only £4.99/$6.99, or wait for it to go on sale. I’d definitely add it to your collection. You might find yourself itching to do one more run, one more run, one more run….

TL;dr – The Dungeoning is a very stereotypical RPG rogue-like platformer with perma-death, but don’t be fooled- you’ll be just as addicted as any other game with more bells and whistles.

Rating 7/10

Purchase – Steam £4.99/$6.99

Trailer –

Let’s talk about … – Rogue Legacy

I’m hooked on Indie games because they’re unique and cheap. Developers want to get their name out there, and to have a great game, it has to stand out from the others and not cost an arm and a leg like well-known franchise games like Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed.  There are so many fun, creative games out there, and you can buy them for next to nothing.  As a PC gamer, I comb through the following places to find my next inexpensive purchases:

As a reviewer for this site, I am also lucky enough to have access to game keys given to us by developers who want us to review their products.

Some games aren’t that great or just don’t interest me. Some games are fun but I stop playing after racking up a few hours. However, sometimes I score the game that grabs all of my attention for hours and hours of play time, leading me to read forums, wiki pages, and guides for more info. Oh, and I talk about it. A lot.

At the end of April this past year, my Steam app on my phone notified me that something in my wishlist went on sale. I was delighted to see that it was Rogue Legacy, a rogue-like RPG platformer released in 2013 by Cellar Door Games that was both recommended to me and I was also warned about- apparently it is difficult as hell. $4 later, I installed this new game and started playing.

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I kid you not, I died within seconds.

Flabbergasted and a bit disappointed, I tried again.

Dead. Super quick.

I turned to my husband (also a gamer) in shock. I was starting to wonder if this was even worth $4. He just shook his head at me- he was used to me starting a new game at least once a week. Pretty sure he expected me to give up on this one quicker than usual.

I pressed on, though. Not sure why. I have very little patience, but something about this game drew me in. Slowly, I began to learn how to kill enemies, gaining gold so I could upgrade my skill tree, finding blueprints for equipment so I could get more passive protection and skills, finding runes to make the armor even better.

Within a few hours, probably between 10-20, I was fully addicted. The kills are so satisfying.  The traits on the characters (to be explained later) made me laugh. Grinding wasn’t a chore like it is in most games. In fact, after a death, I would have a hard time NOT going back in for another round.

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Now, 69 hours, 22/28 achievements, and 45 screenshots later, I’ve beat the game THREE times. I’ve maxed out every point in my skill tree, found and purchased every blueprint for every piece of equipment, and found and purchased every rune. After game, game+, and game+2, game+3 didn’t prove to be any more difficult, and I was forced to give up playing this fabulous gem. All I have left are 6 achievements that are insanely tough, if not impossible for me to earn.

Here’s the premise. You play offspring of your previous hero, fighting evil in a procedurally-generated map. That child dies in battle, then you choose between three of their offspring to take into the next battle. This is an RPG, but you don’t buff up one character- you upgrade the entire available set of skills and equipment. Carefully choosing your child each run is important. They will be one of several hero types (assassin, barbarian, etc) and come with none to a few traits. These traits are hilarious in some instances. Your child might have IBS (farting while jumping) or corprolalia (cussing after being hit), for example. Other traits are helpful, like better knockback, or no foot-pulse, which prevents floor spikes from being triggered. Some make your life difficult, like vertigo (the screen is flipped) or ectomorph (you’re skinny and enemies knock you back far).

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The map is divided into four main areas- castle, forest, tower, and darkness. Rooms can be empty or full of enemies. They might contain chicken drumsticks (health) or mana potions.  They might have coins, treasure boxes, containing runes, blueprints, or character upgrades.  You might run into special challenges, games or mini bosses. There’s even a room where you can change the game music. Each main area has a boss. Survive each area and defeat the boss, and the main door at the entrance of the map will light up, signifying that you beat that boss.  Defeat all four bosses and the main door will open. This will allow you to beat the two-part game boss.

Another way to beat bosses, which I haven’t been able to do yet, is in remix mode. After you beat an area boss, you can go back into that room and attempt to battle with a character the game has chosen for you. This is insanely difficult and despite how well I did otherwise in the game, I don’t last more than a few seconds with these guys. If I could, I might be able to get the rest of the achievements.

The game is simple to learn, but you will die, over and over and over again. But it’s ok- each upgrade will inspire you to try again. It’s insanely addicting. After you die, a screen will show up with all of the enemies you killed lined up. It’s fun to try and make the number more than last time.

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The graphics are cute, retro, and colorful. The music never gets old- I even downloaded the soundtrack. This game has full controller support and game play was very satisfying. The RPG aspect of this was extremely fair and even. The platforming is challenging but not something that will make you pull out your hair.  Replay value is great, and even at full price ($14.99), this game is worth the buy.  And guess what!  It’s also available on PS4 and Xbox One!

Tl;dr – This humorous, retro-style RPG rogue-like platformer is addicting and SO satisfying, with great replay value and a great price point, even at full price.  I can’t recommend it enough and can only hope that the developers might consider a sequel.

Rating – 10/10

Purchase – Steam £10.99/$14.99

Trailer –

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 – 

Indie Showcase … – Redemption: Eternal Quest

Redemption: Eternal Quest is a simulation RPG by indie games developer SimProse Studios in which you take charge of a party of 6 adventurers, sending them on adventures across the land to complete thrilling quests and to collect rare treasure and precious relics.

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R:EQ combines resource-management with classing RPG elements to create a challenging and unique randomly generated scenario for each turn and every game session. You have full control over your party, and it’s down to you to lead them to victory. With a variety of lands to be explored, and treasures to be found, it’s important you lead your adventurers with a level head. After joining your guild as novices, you’ll see them grow into legendary heroes as your adventures unfold.

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Adventuring is dangerous work, and your party will come across many who wish to stand in your way. R:EQ features a card-based combat system, with over 200 special minion cards available, each differing in combat strength.

If RPG/simulation games are your thing, Redemption: Eternal Quest is definitely worth a look. The depth of the systems, and number of possibilities that are therefore possible, are vast, and promise to offer a great RPG experience.

Redemption: Eternal Quest is currently on Greenlight, and is 94% to the top 100 at the time of writing, so it’s nearly there! Visit the Greenlight Page to leave your vote if you like the look of the game, and if you do, let them know IGUK sent you!