Game Review: The Tower

Hi y’all, whaddup! This is Alice! Today we gonna review a sweet li’l dungeon crawler tower climber called The Tower! It’s by Titan Cartoons. Read on!

I couldn’t get a good title screen pic, so here’s a credits pic!
Visit the Tower, See the World

The Tower is a pretty simple game. You have a team of four adventurers, you go into a tower, you fight monsters, level up, and get to the top! There, you fight the boss of all bosses and GAIN REAL ULTIMATE POWER!

The stairway to heaven is in bad repair

There’s no real story. You just fight monsters and collect stuff, in order to get stronger, in order to fight stronger monsters. The fighting and everything is wonderfully breezy and simple. And it’s totally short – I completed The Tower in about three hours.

It’s like a snack, y’know? Nothing is SUPER WOW, but nothing is super dingy either. It’s fun, it’s sweet, it’s short!

Fairies torment you, and you torment fairies. Fair’s fair!
This Level’s Gimmick Is Ice

So what’s good about The Tower? First off, it has a pretty nice level design. There are levels like GRASS LEVEL, POISON LEVEL, and ICE LEVEL, like ya in a Super Mario game, but they all done nicely, like there wuz nothing that made me tear out my hair in anger.

I find a secret room! The secret room is a WARDROBE.

Like, the corridors are easy to navigate, there’s no annoying back-tracking or stupid dead ends, there’s goodies here and there… The rhythm is just like smooth jazz.

Also yes, there are secret rooms to discover! My favourite! And sometimes you find cute outfits in them! You can dress Polina, MY MAIN, in goooorgeous pink flowers! (I.e. the best outfit.)

But yea seriously, it’s a bunch of well-designed levels. AND there’s more and more gimmicks the farther you go, so it doesn’t really get boring! (I also went pretty straight from place to place, but supposedly there’s TONS of secrets to be found and like, a million optional bosses and stuff… which I didn’t find.)

My Party Trick is Critical Hit

So, you explore levels and find loot, sure, it’s all fun, but most of yo time in The Tower is spent FIGHTIN’ EVILDOERS. Thankfully, that’s fun too!

Our party. A red-eyed lady, a kid, a dark lord, and a creepy drug-user. Totes inconspicuous!

So, we have a predetermined bunch of heroes, and they have a bunch of predetermined skills. They fight a bunch of monsters with different gimmicks.

Like with the levels, there’s nice variation in the monsters. Fights rely on timing, like who goes first and does what and attacks whom, and it’s intuitive and pretty fun like, you can intercept monsters and really mess up their day! (Or they can mess up your day.)

Pussyfuss. I mean, puns.

Most skills, attacks, powers, and tactics your sweethearts have make sense, too. Like, they have their place in the flow of battle and they’re mostly satisfying to use. Using skills costs energy, but makin’ regular attacks restores energy, which was a nice balancing act, I think!

The fights were pretty easy too, which may or may not be your cupcake. I don’t think I got any game overs? Not that I remember anyway. But I didn’t find any of the optional super bosses either, so there’s that!

A Bag of Candy

So is The Tower worth ya attention? Probably!

It’s great lighthearted fun, with enjoyable combat mechanics, SWEET FLOWERS, and cute levels! It doesn’t try too hard to blow your mind, it’s just like, “Yo, I’m this cool li’l game, I’m yours, do me.”

But, if you hate stock graphics, gotta have an engaging story, or hate fights, ya better steer clear.

Just havin’ tea with the boss.

Overall, a really lovely li’l game! Actually, I was pleasantly surprised! I had a good time, even! GO PLAY, Y’ALL.

Check out the game on Itch.io here!

Game Review: MechGears (Demo)

Hello, honeycakes! This is Alice. Today we gonna review the demo of an action RPG called MechGears by the dev BKtdm!

Snake!? Snaaaaaake!

It’s 20XX! There’s a nuclear terrorism crisis on Shadow Bosom Island! Our only hope is the legendary mercenary soldier and infiltrator… SNEK.

Soo yeah, MechGears is a loving parody of Metal Gear games. And Resident Evil games. And, umm, maybe other games too?

Like its idols, it’s an actioner: Snek crawls, sneeks, shoots, slashes, and explodes enemy soldiers, zombies, robots, and random obstacles. And there’s RPG elements also. Exploding enemy soldiers nets you exp, which nets you level-ups, which nets you more ways of exploding enemies.

All the while it fondly pokes fun at other games.

And there’s boobs.

Snek. In “camouflage”.
Zombie Outbreaks, Mercenaries, Bioweapons, Cola

Ok so I wuz lying. There’s no Shadow Bosom Island, actually the story of the demo takes place in the middle of a zombie outbreak. Snek is sent to investigate.

The story in MechGears is pretty well-paced. There’s snappy bits of dialogue, then there’s some potterin’ around and shootin’, then a sinister reveal, then some harder shootin’, a showdown, etc. I think the overall flow is actually really good!

Oh, and meanwhile Snek pokes fun at the story. Which is cute!

It’s also pretty tame. Like, take it down a notch and it wouldn’t even be a parody. I don’t mind – like I said it’s cute – but if you go into this expecting a hard deconstruction of Hideo Kojima’s foibles, you gonna be disappointed.

We save this guy. He’s happy. End of story!

And altho it’s s’posta be a parody, the story follows the stories of its idols. For me, at least, there weren’t any surprises. Again, that can be good or bad dependin’ on what you came for.

The writing is kinda weak tho, which is just bad. Typos, weak dialogue, stuff like that. But eh, it’s a demo, so mebbe that’s gonna get fixed!

Sometimes It Shoots, Sometimes It Lags

So MechGears is an action RPG. It’s built with the RPG Maker engine tho, which imposes some limits and makes the action, well, kinda clunky?

Imma be honest, the action was pretty awkward for me. There were moments when it was pretty cool, but on the whole it wuz awkward.

We’re gonna ambush this dude. And we’re gonna need 26 fingers to do it.

MechGears uses WASD-style movement, and spacebar to shoot. Ok! But then also some navigation is done by arrow keys. Or the mouse. And you use enter to jump over desks and stuff. And then you use other keys for reloading your guns, cycling weapons, throwing flashbangs, doin’ your close-combat things, etc. etc. etc.

I dunno about you guys, but it felt like I oughta have six healthy hands to play this game. And half the time I forgot which key was doin’ what.

So not just sweet curves, but LERNING CURVES in dis game.

Whizz, bang, plonk, zim, zam, zom! What goin’ on?

And on top of that control scheme, you got a couple of enemy soldiers tryina stuff you with lead! It can get kinda overwhelming, and I wuz eatin’ thru my medpacks like popcorn, and THIS WUZ ON EASY DIFFICULTY OKAY!?

Like sure, I’m not super good with action games, but anyway. I feel like MechGears has got some work to do if it wants to be a smoothly-playin’ action RPG.

There are some honeycake moments tho! Like, if there’s just one or two zombies, it’s pretty satisfyin’ to just blow ’em apart with a shotgun while jumpin’ over desks. And stealth-killin’ soldiers was fun… some of the time.

(If they noticed me it got messy. Like, you makin’ toffee and then you accidentally pour all the semi-liquid toffee down yo blouse and then try to shape it into cubes kinda messy.)

It’s not a joke, you gonna need that cola before you done with the enemy base!

Also yeah, there wuz some laggy parts, which is nasty for an action game. Dunno if it wuz my geriatric laptop but anyway, be warned for possible performance issues!

Guns and Buns

Soooo… are ya the target demographic, punk? Just take a look at Snek, and ask yourself if you like some light action RPG stuff with stealth elements. If you noddin’ your head, it cud be a pretty nice game!

Me? I’m of two minds about the (so far) unironic use of oversized cleavage.

I mean, on one hand I do like nicely-drawn breasts. On the other, I don’t like when the game suggests to me, “Girl, no matter yo professionalism, you always gonna be a pic in a calendar.”

I dunno. I guess when the chips are down, I’m not the target demographic. Just a punk.

Okay now dear, those are not breasts, those are balloons…

So, wanna check MechGears out? Go to Itch.io and see for yourself!

Game Review: PROJECT: LOVE + CAFE

Hi peeps, whaddup? Alice here! Eat greens with yo bagels and keep rollin’, let’s see about today’s review! It’s Project: Love + Cafe by Moonwriter’s Tale!

Coffee and Cigarettes and Hotdogs and Rice and Chicken

So right off the bat, Love + Cafe isn’t really a game. It’s more of a visual short story.

Like, there’s no gameplay to speak of. It’s just people talkin’, and you readin’. The story is made up of five vignettes, where two people talk about stuff.

Also there’s no robots, no dinosaurs, no knights with magic swords, no lasers, and no flying castles. It’s just a bunch of young Spanish adults talkin’ about their heartbreaks.

I think they’re Spanish, anyway?

And altho I said “just” I don’t mean to knock Love + Cafe. In fact I kinda love it. Or, well, there’s a caveat, so mebbe it’s more like I wanna love it, but I don’t, yet.

Will shook hands with a fried chicken.

So yeah the “love” part of the title is that errybody talks about their heartbreaks, like I said, and the “cafe” part of the title… means that… there’s a cafe?

Like, there are food things, but it’s not a strong theme. Just something that ties errything up a bit better? But eh, it’s kinda weak.

Overall, I get the feeling the game kinda wants to be Jarmusch’s Coffee and Cigarettes? Anyway, not there yet, but you get the idea.

A Dose of Copyediting, Stat

So let’s get the weak part of the game out first. The script is pretty messy.

How messy? So messy that some of the vignettes were pretty much incomprehensible. As in, I couldn’t understand what the characters were talking about.

You, yes, what.

I get that the team is translating their original script, or just isn’t very skilled in English, so I don’t grudge them for it. Just, if you’re allergic to poor grammar, ESCAPE NOW.

I mean, I’m pretty laid back ’bout grammers and spellynge, but this script? Is messy.

Also, EVERYBODY in dis game? For some reason they have black hair and white skin. GAME, STOP, YOU BEIN’ CREEPY.

Lunge, Parry, Riposte

Ok, the part I love about this game? Dialogue style, baby!

Sometimes banal, sometimes messy, sometimes surprising!

Like, yo average dialogue in an RPG goes summat like dis:

NOBLE: Bandits have taken my daughter hostage!
HERO: Sir, we’ll take care of it. Where did they go?
NOBLE: They were seen riding toward the dark forest! Hurry! I’m mortally afraid for my daughter’s well-being!
HERO: We’ll set out at once!
ALICE: (clicking frantically, hoping the crud ends soon)

Y’know? P A P E R T H I N.

The dialogue in Love + Cafe tho? For all its messiness, it kinda feels real.

Like, these people are obviously young adults so they’re kinda annoying, but the things they do? They joke, they tease, they cry, they interrupt each other, they get small-minded and say mean things, they let things slip, they retract their words, they apologise, they fly off the handle, they make assumptions, hell, THEY DO A TON OF STUFF REAL PEOPLE DO WHEN THEY TALK

AND

I

LOOOOVE THAAAAT

a lot.

Oh yeah Dani, you gotta step up yo callin’ names game, gurl.

It’s not smooth either, like, they’re not trading banter (which can be really contrived sometimes). They say dumb stuff too, they trip up too, they’re rough and stupid and clingy and weak, too.

And I’m not sayin’ it’s all ‘cuz the writer meant it to be, it can be due to weakness in the script, but it makes stuff feel real.

Also, there are reversals and other cool stuff. Like, who’s dominating the talk suddenly changes, or they start chattin’ innocently and suddenly BAM “so what about your sister” and the talk turns blue as a bruise.

It’s just ahfghgafhdgaf like, I can’t phrase it well, y’know? PEOPLE ARE MESSY CREATURES. AND I LOVE IT WHEN THEIR TALK REFLECTS THAT.

Bla Bla Bla

Ok so, high praise, amiright?

Like I said tho, the script is messy and it’s not all shining diamonds. At times I wuz just clickin’ like, “Oh God, make it stop already.” But on the whole it’s super duper promising.

So should you play it? Imma say yea, if you like real dialogue from real world. If you gotta have demon magicians and sword-masters, skip.

Also if you a grammor nizza, skip.

Word.

Check out the game on Itch.io here!

Game Review: Geraldiator

Hi honeybabes, sugarpies, iddly diddly caterpies! It’s Alice! Today we gonna review, umm, Geraldiator. I dunno if it’s complete or just a demo or whatever but hey, we don’t discriminate! It’s by the dev ColoCoko.

I am Gerald, I Fight Monsters

So, Geraldiator is a short li’l game where you fight monsters in side-view Japanese RPG style. There’s no story to speak of. We’re Gerald, and, umm, we fight monsters.

Gerald in his garden, doin’ a circle dance with zombies

Gerald is dressed in black pants and a blue suit coat. He’s a BATTLE MONK. He knows fire, thunder, and freeze magic, throws teleporting knives, possesses DARK WRATH, and fights Labrador Retrievers from hell.

Yes, it’s a pretty crazy game. Didja check out that screenshot? Errybody is animated in a clunky 3D style, and they do WRASLIN MOVES.

It’s Frigid-san! Frigid-san is dressed in a blue egg! Hello, Frigid-san!

The presentation is what I love best about this game. Errything looks crazy, the moves are crazy, and did you notice we’re called GERALD?

It’s like that gag from Zombie Smashers X2 when ya on the Moon, fighting vampire nazis? And the vampire nazi boss gets a phone call from his top henchman? And the hench is called G O R D O N.

I am totally for this. Get me a pro wrestling dating sim with these aesthetics NOW!

Gerald and Mr. Hot Demon are developing their relationship!
Fight, Fight, Fight!

Ok, so, there’s no story, there’s just fighting, right? And WRASLIN MOVES are the specialty here. Like, sometimes Mr. Hot Demon or your neighbour Vivienne grabs you in a choke-hold and that changes the play a little.

Noooo, Vivienne, I din’t poop on yo roses, IT WUZ NOT MEEEEEE

Normally, you can punch, do lightning magic, or throw teleporting knives, but when WRASLIN MOVES enter the picture, you can…

Struggle.

Or do nothin’. (Which recovers your energy.)

Honestly it’s a bit disappointing? I don’t know, mebbe I didn’t level Gerald enough, but there’s a lot more options when you’re not bein’ wrassled. Later there’s DARK WRATH, but… well, it’s not quite as bombastic as it sounds? I tried to counter Mr. Hot Demon’s ultimate piledriver move with it, and he was just like, “Ok, Gerald, you’re gonna die.”

It’s a labbie. It’s plannin’ a high-speed dive bomb attack. No, I’m not jokin’.

Mostly the WRASLIN MOVES are fun ‘cuz you get to see crazy craziness. As part of the gameplay tho, they’re more like, “Ugh, I wish I could do more than NOTHIN’ or DARK WRATH.”

Otherwise, the fights are pretty varied? They’re usually the type with a trick: the enemy does a super move and you gotta guard at the right time, or the enemy is immune to your fire magic, or summat.

Some of the tricks were so bizarre or laborious that I couldn’t beat the enemies, tho. Like the flying grey lady defended by three floating graves, which seemed to combine IMMUNITY TO EVERYTHING with “gotta hit the right enemy” with BARRIER CHANGE all the while the flying grey lady is blasting me with magic and it’s like AAAAARGH ALICE RAGE QUIT

Ok, I don’t want you to think I throw controllers or anythin’? I’m really sweet and sedate!

Gerald pulled a horse’s tail. The horse kicked Gerald in the tummy. Dumb Gerald!

I respect the fact that since it’s a game about fighting, the fights aren’t spam-to-win, BUT… yeah well I’m dense sometimes, but sometimes I just don’t know how I’m s’posta beat these monsters.

Maybe if you approach it like a puzzle tho? Or just grind Gerald up to level 99 or summat? Anyway yeah. The fights are nice. Not quite as nice as the aesthetics, but nice.

Grapple A Zombie Horse

Ok, so, y’all asking yourselves right now: should I play this game?

ABSOLUTELY.

Noooo, Geraaaaald… I will avenge youuuuu…

It’s not super deep, but it’s great to see what kind of WRASLIN MOVES horses and Labrador Retrievers do, so you can, uh, prepare for real life. No, really. Geraldiator takes just a li’l while to play, but just look at those screenshots, honeypies!

It’s a really funny game.

You can check it out on Itch.io here!

Game Review: Carpentry Story

Hi y’all, whaddup? It’s Alice! Today we gonna review Carpentry Story, a sweet TREE-SLAUGHTERING game by fizzlymike!

Ready for murder.
A Carpenter Is Always In Demand

So, the basic premise is this: Once upon a time, there was a village with a master carpenter. Then the carpenter kicked the bucket, and as a result, ALL THE FURNITURE IN THE VILLAGE WAS DESTROYED and everybody left. But! You’re the grandchild of this super carpenter, you come back to the abandoned village, and YOU WILL REBUILD ALL THE FURNITURE!

It’s a crafting sim or a life sim or summat? Honestly it’s not a genre I’m familiar with. I played that Terra Nova, uh, Terra Firma, uh… TERRARIA game a while back but it’s different, totally. You don’t fight flying eyes in this game.

You don’t fight anything, actually! It’s a really sweet game and that’s the first thing that warmed my heart. Everything is really cosy and you can just go about your business everyday, slaughtering trees and giving birth to furniture without anyone bothering you!

Oh, just a heads up? If you hate furniture, this game is not for you. There is furniture by the cubic poop-ton, plus I’m probs gonna use the word furniture forty to fifty times more in this review.

We return to our childhood home, filled with remorse for all the dead furniture…
Making Grandad Proud

So from the first it looks like there’s a story to Carpentry Story, which wud make sense! However, once I got to playin’, I didn’t really see any of it.

It’s probs my biggest gripe: everything seems lifeless.

You start out and you determined to come to terms with yo grandfather’s legacy. Then days go by (I got to Day 33 or summat) and you never hear about grandpa again.

Also, while there are a bunch of interesting characters in the village, not a lot happens with them. They’re basically just, “Yo Alice, make me ten chairs, I’ll pay you.”

Also also, these characters run a bunch of establishments, but even after you toil your backside off to make these establishments supa fine, nobody turns up? I woulda liked to see a patron or two, and a comment like, “Oh Alice, you’re so beautiful and your furniture is okay too!”

My apartment! Pros: rent is low.

Yeah I know, I know, it’s a furniture makin’ game, it’s about crafting, it’s not about delving into the secret history of yo rambunctious carpenter grandpa, BUT… BUT…

Just make the village feel more alive please? Please please?

Crank A Lever, Out Comes A Barrel!

Okay so, how’s the actual meat of the game – makin’ the furniture? It’s basically like, you got a blueprint for a table, you go kill some trees, you turn the tree trunks into planks, and then you turn the planks into a table according to your blueprint.

Then you repeat that twenty times. If you don’t like repetitive tasks, get out now.

This was a verdant forest. But all that changed when the axe nation attacked.

For me, it’s like grinding in RPGs, yaknow? I’m happy to cut up trees all day long, size ’em down into toothpicks.

My only gripe is, sometimes the crafting is a bit laborious. Like, to make a chair, you need to arrange bits and bobs of wood on a 9×9 grid in a particular way. Then you crank a lever to complete the thing.

That grid arrangement feels kinda needless to me, yaknow? If I’m makin’ fudge, I’m not gonna arrange cubes of butter on a grid, I just slap it all into a pan and FRY IT TILL I HEAR THE SCREAMS! (Also that lever-cranking feels weird – I’m a carpenter, not a factory worker!)

But anyway, mostly it’s really enjoyable. You get up in the morning, you go to the woods, or maybe the mine, or maybe the town… you chop some wood… or you mine some ore… or sell some of your stuff… then night falls, you dead tired, you go to bed, you wake up next morning!

Yes, you also mine ores in this game! And get people to help you with stuff that carpenters don’t do, like smithing or weaving. (But not mining. I guess a more accurate title wud be Miningry Carpentry Story, but anyway!)

Grandpa wuz not just into furniture, he had a side hustle?

Not gonna lie, there’s something super satisfying about this game. You choppin’ all day in the woods, then sawin’ all afternoon at the workbench, then hammerin’ all evening to make twenty chairs, then you see the sun startin’ to set and you go to bed tired and happy!

Then comes the next day, and like a li’l money-grubber you go downtown and turn FURNITURE into MONEY. The circle of life!

Final Words

So wud I recommend this game? I think so, yea!

There’s a definite sense of accomplishment to be found. And it’s all so delightfully pressure-free! The only thing is, it’s a bit lifeless… but maybe that’s a thing they’ll address in the updates? Fingers crossed!

My apartment! Now all pimped up wid pink curtains!

Check out the game on Itch.io here!/

Review: Lucidity

This is gonna be an honest review. I’m gonna review Lucidity by the dev Ben SD. And I’m gonna be honest.

I don’t mean honest as an euphemism for “I wanna be mean but I don’t wanna be held accountable for it” tho. I’m not gonna bash Lucidity, it’s a cute li’l game. I mean honest as in, what on earth have been I doin’ for these past weeks?

Honest as in, what did I do, think, and feel as I was playin’.

Honest as in, why did I stop playin’.

Honest as in, who am I. And what do I do.

SO DIG THAT LINT OUTTA YO NAVEL HONEY, AND DIG IN!

Give Me Fudge And A Dancing Róisín Murphy

So, it’s April 1 and I fire up dis game. I’m like, oh yeah, it’s gonna be a short li’l game and it’s basically a drawn-out MBTI test? Ok, that sounds sweet, wasn’t MBTI kinda rubbish tho? Anyway I wanna be an INFP! Or was it INJP?

So then I play the game and it’s kinda like an episodic adventure game. Ok, cool? The episodes are set in various stages in human life… like, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, old age, so on. I’m like, ok… cool… I guess.

At this point I wuz probably like, I wonder what’s going on in IG? Or, Ima listen to some Django Reinhardt.

Kid Alice, and the stock joke about entering NPC homes

The point bein’, for some reason my attention wanders. Maybe something about the “age grades” doesn’t sound IMMEDIATELY APPEALING to me. Maybe it sounds too generic? Maybe the idea of visiting adolescence is just yech?

I’m not sayin’ that choosing age grades was bad design. Turns out, there’s quite a bit of delicious comedy to be served. But the thing is, our tastes are what they are. And so are our prejudices. It’s like,

CHEF: Next up, MAAAAASHED POTATOES!
ALICE: Meh.
CHEF: And theeeeeennn… SALTED CARAMEL FUDGE!
ALICE: MARRY ME

If Lucidity had started out like, “You have to assault four magic castles to rescue four enchanted knights: Sir Rose, Sir Agate, Sir Cucurbit, and Sir Seahorse. Go, Maiden of the Armoured Dandelion!” I woulda been like gimme that controller NOW.

Even so, you can make aligot from mashed potatoes. And aligot is love.

Y’all get what I’m sayin’? It’s the little things. You can do everything right, and still some whiny gnat of a girl comes along and is like, “Oh, the dress of that NPC lady looks boring, Imma quit.”

Oh Look, Sunshine Outside!

The next day I play some more. In this game, you look for glowing thingies that give you an MBTI question, then you answer it, move on, and collect ’em all to complete the age grade.

I move onto the adolescence part. And I’m like, welllll, my adolescence was awkward, lonely, kinda weird, kinda sucky. A time I’m proud to have survived, but something I’d rather not relive. Hating makeup, suddenly realising I stink of sweat, only feeling comfy in clothes errybody laughs at.

Goin’ to college. Visiting administrative building. Feels, gurl.

Turns out tho, bumblin’ around in adolescent Lucidity starts bein’ quite funny. There’s some really nice writing in this game. Not all the NPC mouths drop gold nuggets, but a surprising number do!

Then I hit some snags. I can’t find all the glowing thingies easily, so I quit, I go to YouTube and watch videos where that shirtless dude makes bricks without tools in Australian backwoods. I eat some grapes, and I wonder why they called grapes and grapefruit is called grapefruit. I potter around, tell myself I gotta do handstands, I haven’t done handstands since September. I can’t bring myself get back to the game.

Like, there’s a hint system in Lucidity, ok? In case you hit a snag. The trouble is, it isn’t really very precise. When I’m dumb, I need THE EXACT COORDINATES of the quest item I’m lacking.

Probably for people who don’t need that much, the hint system is cool. Anyway, eventually I find the thingie and get on with the game. Whew!

Snerk!

So snags, right? With games I’m like, STORY, STORY, STORY, GET ME MORE OF THE STORY, NEXT SCENE PLEASE, MORE, MORE, MORE. If the dialogue isn’t super on point, I just skim it, wanting to get ahead. If the milieu isn’t totally jaw-dropping, I just dash from A thru B to C. I just want to GET AHEAD AND SEE WHERE THE GOOD STUFF IS!

And if I hit small snags like, oh, can’t beat this boss, or can’t find this item, or (if we extrapolate to, say, novels) if this chapter feels dreary – then I’m like, wud it be too bad if I quit…?

In fact, I start to practically look for excuses to quit. I have to do this, I have to do that. I want to eat jam, I want to do cartwheels, I want to do basically anything ‘cept try to overcome this li’l snag.

That’s how li’l snags become show-stopping logs. It’s why, with stuff like movies, games, books, and comics, I’m looking for A) something super tight and super polished or B) something that’s so oozing passion you can’t help holding onto it.

It’s not like I want to be unreasonable. I just know myself, and my attention span.

What Will Everybody Think Of Me?

Ok, so far I’ve managed to overcome the hurdles and keep playin’ the game. I’m in the adulthood part – a really funny part! – and I’m thinkin’, “This game is fun, I wanna see what’s next!”

Just takin’ a hike, maybe drop some acid later on.

Then I’m like, ok, I need to find more glowing thingies to progress… Where are they?

I can’t find them. The hint system is doin’ its best, but… I’m duuuuuuummbbb… and I get boooooorrrreddddd… And I quit the game one last time.

The following weeks I’m like, oh yeah, I oughta finish Lucidity, I oughta write that review. Imma do that… tomorrow!

I’ve had it with War and Peace, I’ve had it with tryin’ to listen to Arcturus, I’ve had it with weedin’ my potato patch. I know I should persevere, but deep in my soul, that great angel called Procrastination beats its irresistible wing.

I never finished War and Peace either.

My fave co-worker!

Back when I wuz twenty-two, I was like, “ANY BOOK I START, I MUST FINISH!” I was mostly successful, too. With books, even if it’s awful, you can just let your eyes skim the lines ’till you get to the end and be like, “I read it.” (I’m no longer so dorky, now if a book don’t cut it, Imma ditch it without remorse!)

I wonder what it was? What made me feel like I gotta finish any book I started? A feeling of self-worth? “If I can’t finish this, I can’t finish anything in my life!” Or a sense of duty to the writer? “The writer wrote this, I must finish as my sign of respect to them!” Or maybe just social pressure? “What will everybody say if they find out I stopped reading halfway through?”

What a bullshit cake, right? Such crappy reasons to even start reading in the first place. Books aren’t there to act as our participation badges. Or as altars where we worship their authors.

Videogames aren’t, either. Or Arcturus albums. Or potato patches.

I mean, y’all know art is divine, right? Art exists to kindle that fiery spark deep inside us. Art exists for us to conquer our death fear. Art exists to obliterate our minds and build them anew. Even if it’s just, y’know, for a little bit.

Art isn’t looking for our validation. Art doesn’t care if we quit it midway. Art doesn’t ask how much we makin’, what we wearin’, who we datin’.

Art is just a pebble in the sun. If we pick it up, turn it over a few times, and throw it in the sea, it’s done all it is meant to do.

Anyway, peeps. Like I said, Lucidity is a nice li’l game. You can check it out on Itch.io here!

Thanks, honey! How are you doin’? Sorry I’m never home!

Review: Dino Hazard – Chronos Blackout (Alpha)

Hi y’all! Alice here. Today we gonna review the alpha version of Dino Hazard: Chronos Blackout. It’s being developed by Bone Collectors and is in alpha stage as of this writing!

Robots, Dinosaurs, Maybe Even Robot Dinosaurs

Know what? Like y’all and your mom, I too had a dino phase as a kid. We got Dinotopia and a ton of other dino books that we read into shreds. I even got my dad to read Leben in Der Urzeit to me as a bedtime story once.

And no, I’m not German. I think laboriously translating that tome with his shaky language skills put my dad more effectively into sleep than me!

The golden days of childhood right? T-Rex chasin’ that jeep in Jurassic Park, the colours of the Super Nintendo controller, yo tryhard classmates doin’ a dance routine to Spice Girls’ Wannabe…

So nineties nostalgia is big beans right now. And this here game deep in those beans!

Chaos reigns on the streets of rage! Battletoads, roll out!

In short, Dino Hazard is kinda like Jurassic Park the RPG, with a bunch of seasonings: renegade killer robots, time travel, evil AI overlords, heroic dogs, and kung fu capoeira!

Once you get yo hands dirty tho, it’s not as zany as it sounds. Imma get to that later.

Pixel Pixel Pixel

The game starts with us stranded on an island with a bunch of dinosaurs and robots, and both are OUT FO’ BLOOD. Well, some of the dinos are OUT FO’ SALAD but you get the picture? We stranded, comms is out, nobody gonna rescue us. It’s survival time!

Just waiting for a dinorex to eat me.

The overall presentation reminds me of the first Jagged Alliance. Also, strong Super Nintendo vibes goin’ on, with a rich palette, 16-bit pixel style, etc. Our heroes look nice, the dinos look their part, and there’s palm trees, naturally!

Note, too, the cool dino-dar in the lower corner and the ever helpful “Uhh, what wuzz I s’posta do again?” quick help in the upper. Playin’ this game is easy and there’s zero annoying tutorials, which is real nice!

So everything looks swell and plays sweet? Yes. Mostly.

Dino Hazard is in alpha, of course, so there’s some buggy bugs, but those aside, there’s this, umm, funky discrepancy in the graphics.

At a glance, everything looks straight from the golden console era… but then you notice some things appear as if at a higher resolution.

Fightin’ dinos! Where my horizontal bar at!?

In the battle screens and in the menus, specifically, the illusion of the graphical 16-bit goodness kinda bends. Not everything is consistent. I understand that’s maybe not an issue to some of you, but since Dino Hazard gives such a strong graphical impression at first, I do find it a bit jarring when there’s stuff drawn from two worlds, so to speak.

Then again, THERE’S A DINODEX, a heroic but lonely dog, and you don’t hafta kill dinos if you are packing salad sandwiches! So does it balance out? Yaknow me, I’m vengeful and never forget a slight… but yea maybe it kinda does?

You Are Doomed, Puny Hunams

Story-wise, Dino Hazard seems promising. Our happy li’l island is a paradise for dino trophy hunters, errything is clean and well organised, security is super tight, robots take care of things AND THEN IT ALL GOES TO HELL like of course.

Throw in a bit of crazy AI goodness, shady corporate shenanigans, good ol’ planet exploitation, and fanatical terrorists, and prego, spicy soup ready!

Sure officer, he gonna be just fine!

Alas, the plot, so far, is bogged with kinda meaningless stuff.

Once poop hits the rotor, we’re pretty much just relegated to doin’ basic survival stuff. Go here, get bandages, get the radio workin’, pick up this dude, get the laser fence down, etc. Like… ok… I understand why, BUT I DON’T WANNA.

I wanna learn about AIs and insert deadly viruses into the system and I wanna see special forces crashing thru the ceiling and velociraptors come in and eat them and a crazy escape sequence where I’m rescued by a heroic military robot and THEN A BOMB GOES OFF ‘cuz there’s a trigger-happy terrorist and all that in the first hour of the game, pretty please?

Instead, for all its story goodness, the plot of Dino Hazard is humdrum. I pray and hope things gonna pick up fast, but still, it’s the kind of game where I expect big bucks up front.

Soooo, it seems I’m always sayin’ this, but the script is kinda weak. On the upside, there’s a good pulp soup to siphon from, so fixin’ that script shouldn’t be too hard? Fingers crossed y’all.

Fuelled by Nostalgia

Soo, I kinda wanna say something about the nineties nostalgia, but I feel I don’t have enough eggs for it yet. Just know that Dino Hazard runs on it, kinda. If you don’t care about dinos and killer robots, you probably oughta skip this here game.

If you like the subject matter tho, keep an eye out! There’s a ton to like already, and with a polished script, this game could be a treat.

I survived the 90s to learn that all robots are bad! Except the good robots!

Check out the alpha on Steam here!

Review: Wooden Ocean

Hi there honeycakes! Alice here! It’s been a couple of weeks since my last review, ‘CUZ I WAS PLAYIN’ THIS HERE GAME.

Soo, the dish for today is Wooden Ocean by the developer Leif Ian Anderson. It’s the first full length game I’ve ever reviewed SO LET’S BUNGLE UP, I mean, write a detailed and thoughtful review ahh who am I kidding, gonna wing it anyway!

Let Me Dark You Up, Fudgecake

Elevator pitch? Wooden Ocean is your typical friendly jRPG, but mangled in a meat grinder, slammed thru a Dark Souls boot camp, and soaked in a marinade of cynicism, meta-story, and easygoing blasphemy!

It’s a pretty good game, really.

The story starts off quite intriguing: you’re Violet, a mysterious witch sailing to the edge of the world in search for her brother. You team up with demons, roam in endless dark forests (the titular “wooden ocean”), and search for clues about your family. Along the way, you dip into grand-scale schemes about a mysterious, uh, afterlife system.

The story is nice, with a caveat I’ll go into later. For most of the game, tho, you wander about in monster-infested areas, fight, learn spells, find loot, manage a ghost town (snerk!) and AMASS HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF GOLD! (There’s a bank.)

We all poor little kids, lost in a big dark house

Also, everywhere is dark. Honestly, if you can’t stand not being able to see well, turn back now.

Strange, Strange Pictures

One of the first things Wooden Ocean has got going for it is flair. It may not be for all tastes, but it’s distinct. The omnipresent darkness spews out queer characters illuminated by gaslight straight out of a Victorian purgatory, monsters look like they’ve gone through bad acid trips, and passers-by comment creepily on weird concepts like “angels” or “lawyers”.

Wooden Ocean has, like, an identity. It’s a game that goes into sentences like, “It’s a cross between Gears of War and Hatoful Boyfriend!

There’s not a lot of Hatoful Boyfriend here, really… but there’s Alex

Aaaaand, peeps, that strong sense of identity, that feeling of place, a feeling of “Dis land weird but also real“… that sense carries pretty far. It even helps us across a few bumps in design. Such as the numerous carbon-copy square-grid dungeons. Or the sprawling, near-identical expanses of forest.

Actually, Wooden Ocean’s sense of identity is strong enough that I kinda, sorta, am almost nearly fooled into thinking it’s all intentional. The very meta story also supports that.

All that not the real dish of this sweet ‘n sour game tho! What is? GETTIN’ LOST!

Where My Bonfires At!?

So Wooden Ocean pretty open-ended. You can sorta go where you like. It’s also pretty big.

I mean did I say big? I meant like BIGGGGGG. It’s LARGE. There are VERY MANY PLACES.

All these crystals are LSD trips into, umm, places

There’s also no quest radar that points out the direction to go. People are just like, “Eh, yo brother somewhere up north.” And then you just pack up and go for a hike. Along the way you chance upon a strange tower. You enter, fight demons, go into the basement, fight more demons, and there’s a door that leads into a cave, which takes you to an underground river, and then you find a long staircase that takes you to a frozen graveyard.

There, you find some dude who is like, “Yo Miss, cud you get me a blue bird? I think there’s one far away in the west.”

And I’m like WHAT. WHERE AM I. AND WHERE CAN I SAVE.

(Yes, saving is only possible in certain places. Be warned. Overall, it’s really not that hard tho, it’s not Dark Souls style difficulty. Really it’s not. I think.)

That “WHERE AM I” part is really the absolute best part of Wooden Ocean. It’s heaven. It’s where I forget me and the confines of the game, world expands, and time disappears. I’m lost.

Not even all genuinely open-world games give me that blissful feeling.

The downside? If you a completionist, this game can be hell. Like, there’s a bunch of optional monster caves scattered about – the “Poetries of Blood”. I find one, I see it’s too hard for me, I scram. Later I’m like, “Where dat one Poetry of Blood at again?”

Aaaaaaand… crickets.

Gettin’ back here is always like WHEW!

Take pen and paper notes if ya can, honeycakes. There’s a quest journal in the game that tracks more important stuff, but, lose a single chest somewhere in the woods? It might be LOST FOREVER.

You, Me, and Two Demons

The story in Wooden Ocean also pretty special. Not gonna go spoilerbang into it, jus’ sayin’ there’s stuff about the internets, religions, videogames, and living the life. Hate meta stuff and mise en abyme? Wooden Ocean’s story might not be for ya.

WHOSE DREAM, EH, WHAT?

There’s three main characters – Violet, the witch, and two others, Alex and Amelia. Plenty of the plot is driven by dialogues between Violet, who is usually dumbstruck by strange things goin’ on, and Alex, who tries to explain it to her but is usually like, “Eh fuck it, I’ll explain later.”

(Except there’s never later, it seems. Kinda.)

The script is a bit rough in places, but the dialogues flow nicely and are quite entertaining. Our leads are cynical as all get out, and not afraid to tell it straight to the jackasses of this world. Thankfully, they’ve got their sweet and caring moments too, so it balances out a bit.

There’s also a ton of zany dialogues. The guard captain is a riot. And the girl at the counter in Kathis. Some dialogues run off at the mouth tho, so in addition to clearing out some typos, a few cuts of fat might be nice.

What the local folks say in place of “How do you do”

Overall, it’s quite well-written. And there are some sweetiepie story moments.

It does take a while to get to them, tho. I clocked in about thirty hours on this game so far, and only now I feel I’m gettin’ to the THIS IS WHAT I’M TALKIN’ BOUT parts.

Occasionally I hope games didn’t take so long for the big guns to come out. Like, if yo story has some banging super stuff about it, why doncha start with it some time? Then get on from there. No reason for me to be twiddlin’ me cute thumb in some village somewhere. Kill dad and get on with the tale!

Wooden Ocean is not really the worst offender here tho. The starting hook is nice. And it totally is more about roamin’ in the dungeons killin’ LSD rats than about zing zang plot bang.

The Afterlife of Artists

Okay, so what’s left? There’s maybe some balance issues: I was suddenly thrust into what I believe is the endgame, and my peeps are woefully underprepared with no way of backtracking. That miffs me a bit, but eh, it’s life.

The combat? There’s lots of it, so if ya not into the kind of pseudo-Souls stamina management on offer, ya might hate it. Also there seems to be a complex defence-weakness-resistance hurdle bundle that I didn’t really get, so I just blundered and/or strong-armed my way thru most fights.

It worked (until what I believe is the endgame anyway) so it’s not really a very hard game.

There’s also some unfinished content. I hopes and dreams for updates to come!

I’m totes not even mad! There’s like sixty optional dungeons ANYWAY

Overall, Wooden Ocean is kinda like Tyrkisk Peber. Yaknow that hard black candy with salmiac inside? It’s tasty, tangy, zingy, there’s a lot to chew thru, and it’ll break your mouth if you eat too much.

Is it worth the price of admission? If you hate blundering about in endless monster caves, goin’ thru fight after fight and gettin’ soooo lost… nope, stay the hell away.

With that caveat outta the door? Wooden Ocean is a pretty good game.

A really good game, even.

(I almost cried when I saw Simon. Almost.)

You can check out Wooden Ocean on Steam here!

Review: Star Shift (Alpha)

Hi there honeycakes! Alice here. Today we gonna review a grim li’l sci-fi RPG called Star Shift! I guess it’s basically a demo, but it’s pretty extensive – I clocked in about four hours – so Imma call it what they call it: an alpha. Anyway, let’s get started!

Space Bois and Lazor Beams

Ok honey, want an elevator ride of a review? Just read the next paragraph and then click X.

Star Shift is your erryday fantasy RPG, but in space, where a laser gun is your broadsword and a medkit your heal spell. Also it’s GRIMDARK: there gonna be WAR, TORTURE and a HUMAN BODY PARTS BUFFET. Dig in!

Anyway, umm… now for a more in-depth review…

Star Shift starts out with us choosin’ our own character, complete with name, species, and class. Then we out cruisin’ on a starship as the loyal troopers of a galactic superpower. There’s a war going on, and in a very short jiffy we learn that sentient life is cheap.

I made a kitty! Her name is Kitty! SHE EVISCERATES ENEMIES.

Gameplay consists mainly of us potterin’ around with our team of troopers, fighting murderous robots in various sci-fi flavoured dungeons. Occasionally there’s a starship battle, fought on a tactical grid-based map.

It’s all veeeeery recognisable. It’s like somebody asked, “What is sci-fi?” And Star Shift ticks all the boxes. Mostly. It’s… strictly not a bad thing, tho.

It’s Acid, Mom

Sooo, Star Shift is still in the works, ok? Where it shows is the graphics, which are a bit rough. Various styles are thrown together, some images look fairly amateurish, stuff like that. (The release looks to be in November 2022, so my fingers crossed they got the time to fix it up some!)

Also, the visual style is dark and full of acid.

Most places look about like this.

Altho I can’t admit to being a fan, the dankness and the garish colours fit well with the absolutely grim setting. Nothing looks very original either, but maybe this is an advantage? It’s kinda like popcorn for the brain. Dark and dank popcorn, but, um, still.

There was one part where the cookie-cutter design din’t please me, though, and that was the dungeons. They were sorta ’89 with their design: straight corridors followed by square rooms. Thankfully tho, they’re quick to navigate, so you don’t hafta spend a ton of time in any one dungeon!

Shoot, Loot, Scoot

Gameplay in Star Shift is basically, you shoot robots, take their stuff, improve your dudes, buy them new guns, and then head off to shoot more robots. In between, you choose a few dialogue options and follow da plot!

Shooting robots is quite pleasant in dis game, actually. Fighting is turn-based, and there’s some minor tactical scope ‘cuz you can see how the turn order is gonna go, so you can intercept enemy robots before they can shoot their bazookas at cha. Fights don’t drag out too much, and choosing which special ability to fire off when is intuitive.

Dialogue options! Good, evil, neutral! Simple daa?

Also, your dudes get brain points and you can use them to learn new abilities, like BE SUPER TOUGH or SHOOT MICROWAVE BEAMS. It’s fun, altho I get the feeling it’s easy to overlevel if you grind just a bit too much.

I don’t personally mind being overleveled (I like havin’ an easy time, don’t judge me sweethearts?) but mebbe that’s an issue for some.

Oh, also, I mentioned that there are starship battles in this game. They are pretty rare, which is nice, ‘cuz they were annoying. Namely, in the two big battles I took part in, there’s a lot of enemies and a lot of friendlies, and everybody is computer controlled. (Except the one ship I get to move.)

Cue me twiddlin’ thumbs while the computer plays me game. This issue cud be easily solved tho: jus’ make all the allied units CONTROLLED BY ME! I make good taktikel decisions, trust me, commander!

Zip zap boom! Errybody follow my orders! CHAAAARGE
Fifty Million Dead Civilians

Anyway, when we not shootin’ bots, we following the story. Did I say GRIMDARK before? ‘Cuz yes.

Seriously, this game oughta ship with content warnings. Things start out very grisly, slaughtered civvies errywhere, and more to come. Like, there’s torture, cannibalism, memory control, oppressive galactic regimes, and general misery round every corner!

If grimdark is your genre, this game has a full five-course meal for ya. Everything is gonna go bad.

Happily, though, a fair few of the characters are decent folks! It’s the one thing that makes the grimdarkness bearable. Even if shit’s raining all around, our brave troopers seem like fairly good people. Even our TOTALLY CORRUPTED COMMANDERS don’t seem completely rotten! (I don’t know if they’re totally corrupted, but it’s that kind of story.)

Our boss looks like a vampire lord. Also, THERE ARE TOO MANY ELLIPSES IN THIS GAME!

Sooo, even if ya not into grimdark stories (I’m not), do give Star Shift a chance. Even if it looks like all the good men are gonna die. They probs will, but hopefully they’ll go like Túrin.

Your Cup Or Not

Anyway, ad summam? Star Shift looks to be the kind of game that you’re either into – in which case it’s gonna give you a good time – or not. It’s like marzipan, y’know? Kinda disgusting, but some folks are totally lovin’ it.

Objectively, I guess the biggest weaknesses so far are the mixed-bag graphics, a rough script, and some oddly-designed space battles. Imma hold my breath and see ’em all fixed before release, tho.

Otherwise, I think dis game pretty good! Conventional, but good!

Check out Star Shift on Steam!

Review: Winter – A Samurai Tale (Demo)

Hello fellow caterpillars! This is Alice. Today we gonna take a look at Winter – A Samurai Tale, which is, umm, a jRPG. But neither j nor RPG in the way y’all probably thinking. Anyway, it’s in development by (gotta get this right) L’Aède Aveugle. This is a demo only.

A Historical Fantasy

Ok peeps, GET A LOAD OF THIS. Winter is unusual in two ways. First, it’s an RPG game without a lot of RPG trappings. Like, your mileage may vary on this, maybe you wouldn’t even call it an RPG? There’s no fighting encounters where you choose ATTACK or FIRE MAGIC or POTION, there are no shops where you buy new swords, there are no dungeons, no party members, no exp, no levels, and no need to buy ten antidotes for a poison cave, THANK GOD.

There are, however, stats. And you do engage in fights, kinda. And you can select different approaches in various situations. So in that way, you can choose your role, which makes it a role-playing game… although it’s more of an interactive novel, which we’ll get into in a bit!

Second, Winter is set in a kind of pseudo medieval Japan. There’s samurai, peasants, funny-looking castles, and one-eyed umbrellas. Our hero is a brave samurai who is destined to fight Japanese demons, yokai.

The story is also kinda unconventional, which is cool.

Red fog and skulls: BAD GUYS. Yes, some things are still conventional.
Choose Your Own Statventure

The way you play Winter is like this. You move your hero dude around the map, meet other dudes, and talk to them. Then you get to choose from a few options, and based on that, your stats – based on the Japanese five elements – go up or down.

You fight some dude, maybe, and you get to choose whether to do a cunning manoeuvre or JUST BASH HIS HEAD IN, MOM or whatever, and then your “Fire” stat goes up or summat.

It’s a cool concept, and it reminds me a bit of those interactive fiction books I was nuts about as a kid. Y’know, Fighting Fantasy? Anyway, I love it, and it made me want to try and cram all my points into “Air”, buuuut… well, there are tricky parts, too.

You see, in Winter, I rarely had a clear idea which stat was gonna be affected. And depending on how your stats go, you can die.

I saw this screen a fair bit. Also, there’s a lot of pseudo-Japanese poetry in this game.

The problem is, sometimes I felt I was locked into choosing a certain way. All paths are supposedly playable, but the way my stats swung, occasionally when I chose “my way”, it just ended in death. YOU MAKE SINATRA SAD.

I do think the system is sweet, and the godai setup is funky, but in action I guess it would benefit from more transparency? That way I wouldn’t feel cheated out of a choice even if my stats weren’t enough for it.

On the upside tho: Ya hate dungeons, stocking up on items, hikin’ back to town to get yo HP and MP up? None of it here! FREEE-ESH!

My Name is Kusama Daisaku, This Is My Giant Kabuto

Sooo, the story. I’m not gonna be real spoilery here, but Imma say this. We start the game by beating the Big Bad, and then we go on from there. Also fresh!

It’s totally a pretty serious game.

The story follows our samurai hero as he goes back home, and we see him banter with his pals, hug his mom, solve some friendship issues, meet his girl and get his girl’s dad’s permission for marriage… stuff like that. It’s pretty sweet!

There are also a few very nice story beats, not gonna spoil them, but they’re good. I mean, they were good for me.

Me, when there’s no more jam. I told you it was serious!

Errything is also steeeeeeeped in Japanese-y lore. Seriously, if you hate hearing how valorous and honourable samurai are, or how wonderful poetry is, steer clear. Conversely, if you a hard-core Japonist, you gonna be treated to lovely woodcut pictures!

The script is a bit rough tho, and the tone is all over the place, but it’s a demo, y’all? I trust those things gonna be sorted, eventually.

Talky McTalkness

So, I mentioned interactive novels before, right? I kinda think Winter is a game currently in the wrong genre.

It tries to be an RPG-style game. You can move your heroic samurai dude around, talk to everybody in the village, check your stats and inventory, etc. However… all of that doesn’t really matter.

The game is, basically, just a string of scenes with LOOOOOOTS of talk. (Seriously, especially for an RPG, it’s talky.)

It’s also self-aware!

Anyway, I feel like Winter would be much more at home as a visual novel. It’s all there: the scene-setting, the images, the interplay between characters, choosing your response, so on. Moving Mr. Samurai Hero around just feels… extraneous.

Just show me the woodcuts, get me to the next scene, pop me up some dialogue choices, ok? I’d be happy!

Getting There, Sweetheart, Getting There

Imma cut you a lot of slack, game. I understand a bunch of things are still under serious development. So, with that said…

There is a lot of sweet fruit here. The story has promise measured in tons, and the visual style has flair – not MONONOKE yet, but maybe one day. The godai system feels fresh, totally thematic, and could be really intuitive.

You might find your favourite ukiyo-e!

What I hope to see in the future is a delectable, samurai-themed visual novel, complete with a polished script and a transparent five-elements stat system! Ok? Go!

Check out the developer’s Itch.io page here!