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 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.
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!
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.
Normally, you can punch, do lightning magic, or throw teleporting knives, but when WRASLIN MOVES enter the picture, you can…
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.”
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!
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?
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!
Hi y’all, whaddup? It’s Alice! Today we gonna review Carpentry Story, a sweet TREE-SLAUGHTERING game by fizzlymike!
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.
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!”
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.
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!)
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!”
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.
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!
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!
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 notas 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!
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.
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!
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.
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.)
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!“
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.
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?”
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.)
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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!
Hi sweethearts! It’s yo fave flower girl Alice! On today’s menu: The N.E.X.U.S. Project, a sci-fi RPG in development by ts50!
Shoot the Aliens, Miss!
Ok, I don’t wanna sound too hyped, BUT THIS GAME IS THE EGGS! Seriously. It’s a bit rough around the edges, and there’s one part I don’t like, but apart from those things?
This game is crazy grass, and I just ate a lawn.
Ok like, Imma pick up my marbles from the floor and try ‘n describe this game to y’all! You know that doozy sci-fi movie, Barbarella, from waybackwhen land? You take that, minus the boobs (*sniff*), add in your regular cast of teenage whinerbombs, and put it in the smokin’ ruins of Stargate. That’s The N.E.X.U.S. Project!
Sooo… we got our main cast, three explorers drafted from Star Trek dropouts. There’s Andromeda, a pushover geek with a “Sorry that I exist” attitude, Pandora, a girl jock who’s amazing in all ways and whose every word is a complaint, and Nova, who would rather be anywhere else than here, but eh, the mission is the mission.
Their job? Explore new planets!
So yeah, the big appeal here is this nutcase cast coupled with nutcase aliens dropped together on a nutcase planet. AND THEN COMES THE STORY.
Space Time, Here I Come
Okaaaay sweethearts, SPOILERS (kinda) so if ya don’t want none, skip ahead to the next section!
Not a lot, tho. I spent like, an hour completing the entire demo, and that included some grinding. And, in that one hour of demo, how ’bout dis story? We put three wildly mismatched misfits into a hyper-tech spaceship, Earth explodes, we land on a random planet and kill the best friend of an alien super master, our hyper-tech ship blows up, and then we meet this green guy who says KEKEKEKE, like, who makes up this stuff? Give ’em ALL THE AWARDS!
There’s also a mention of inventing a time-machine, which earns my enormous respect, ‘cuz I’m sure this and the explosion of Earth is all about bein’ a teenager emo Valérian. Get us to Glapum’t, chauffeur!
Seriously? The story is bonkers, moves at a breakneck pace, and is totally pulp. I’m in love!
Shoot, I Say, Shoot!
Being an RPG, there’s also fighting in The N.E.X.U.S. Project. Namely, all our dudes are equipped with guns, ‘cuz when you meet an alien, a gun is the most important instrument of communication! Anyway, we shoot up some bugs.
It’s my least favourite activity in the game. Thankfully, it’s not totally horrible. Like I said, I even did some grinding.
It’s pretty standard turn-based stuff: you pick your action, the enemy picks theirs, everybody’s health go down, and then you repeat until one side is dead. The trick is, tho, that it’s kinda real time: while I’m pickin’ and choosin’ my options, the enemies get turn after turn and keep pummeling me until I’m just like OK OK OK EVERYBODY SPAM ATTACK!
Thankfully, it works! Like, you can just press enter all the time and most of the enemies die. Your health also restores after every battle, which is a godsend.
But yeah, if there’s one thing I miss it’s having a moment of peace in which to choose what I’m gonna do. I’m guessing that as the demo progresses toward a complete game, spamming attack no longer works so good.
On the upside? The fights are FAST.
Overall, I’m really impressed by The N.E.X.U.S. Project. It’s great pulp. The story is wacky, the characters are insufferable, the plot goes fast, and the aliens are green!
Also, in a sea of fantasy RPGs, it’s sci-fi. I’m not totally into sci-fi, but I’m still kinda waiting for a really great Gundam RPG, and every sci-fi RPG is a nice step in that direction.
Anyway, all ya sci-fi pulp lovers and green alien murderers! Check out the demo on Itch.io here NOW!
Hello there sweethearts! Alice here. Today we gonna take a look at the demo of Numina, an indie RPG by Starlit. Dig in, y’all!
Where My Old SNES At?
Ok, so, nostalgia, amiright? In Numina, straight off as we get past the title screen, we back in the nineties. The presentation, the sounds, the story, and most of all the atmosphere are straight outta stuff like Secret of Mana, Chrono Trigger, and Breath of Fire 2.
Our hero dude is a hapless country boy with a sword. He ends up in the middle of magical shenanigans, and awakens his secret inner power. Then he and his friends go out to fight the evil wizard, while the fate of the world hangs in balance!
Seriously, if ya into that, and you wuz a kid in the 90s, you in for a treat.
Like, I’m not sure what to make of the fact that every other indie RPG these days feels like it’s riffin’ on 90s nostalgia. But, Imma overlook that for now. If the 90s RPG is your cheese, then this is about the smelliest, juiciest, tastiest, creamiest cheese out there. ‘Cept for one thing, maybe, which we gonna get into later.
Swing It, Country Boy, Get That Slime
So we adventurin’. The mountains look real good, and the maps real nice to walk in. Special treat: walkin’ in the early game forests around Mr. Farm Boy’s home. Sooooo niiiice…
Mr. Farm Boy and his pals also fairly expressive physically. There supposed to be big anime-like character art, at least from what I can see on the developer’s page, but they ain’t in the demo. The art does look really really nice though.
There’s a ton of storytellin’ in the form of cutscenes – we gonna get into that – but in between, we get to fight some slimes too!
Jus’ kidding, I romped thru the demo and didn’t fight a single slime. I fought a mushroom, a foggy fog cloud, a crystal (?), some wolves, and, uhh, some sorta centipedes, I think? And a big bird called Garuda.
Fighting is refreshingly simple in Numina. Mr. Farm Boy and his pals choose whether to beat the opposition with a sword or to fry them with magic. You can also chug potions and stuff, natch, and GUARD. (I did a fair bit of guarding in this game, which surprised me! Usually I just do my favourite, ATTACK SPAAAAAAAMMM!)
Anyway, there’s some cute little QTE to go with sword-fighting. It was really harmless, so even if ya hate QTEs don’t let Numina frighten ya. Fighting in this game is good, honest. Some of the boss fights drag out a turn or two too long, but otherwise, I could totally see myself grinding aggressive mushrooms and overleveling my dudes before mid-game.
Also, there’s a bunch of goodies hidden around in the maps, secret areas, stuff like that, all of which was delicious to find! Some puzzles too, but thankfully they wuz nothing to really hinder your progress.
What’s Going On? Didja Do That, Alice?
Aaaand then we get to part I liked the least in Numina, which is the story. Or maybe not even the story, but the characters.
Don’t get me wrong though, they’re not terrible. They, um… kinda like rice crackers? You can chew thru ’em fast, but they don’t taste like anything.
First off, at least in the beginning of the game, there’s a ton of cutscenes. You get to walk around, in control, for all of half a minute, and then it’s cutscene time again, people talkin’, people huggin’, lights flashin’, etc. I admit, it wuz getting to my nerves a bit. I may have rolled my eyes a few times.
I don’t mind that a lot though. Cutscenes are kinda ok in my books.
Tons of them, coupled with rice cracker writing, is not.
How bad is it? Well…
Firstly, there’s the usual fantasy adventure shenanigans: lots of needlessly mysterious mystery, lots of flashy magic that leads to Mr. Farm Boy bein’ spirited away or unconscious, lots of predictable villain speeches, etc. Not so bad by itself tho!
Secondly, about that needlessly mysterious mystery, there’s a loooooot of it. Unknown magic flashes, weird dreams happen, mysterious strangers appear and disappear, delivering cryptic warnings. About ten minutes in I’d already turned off my brain… but even that is not so bad by itself!
But, thirdly, Mr. Farm Boy and his pals never seem to have anything really ingenious to say about the mystery. Or anything else. Nobody seems to have much personality. Nobody schemes (‘cept the villains), nobody is a jerk (mostly), nobody steals their friend’s underwear and doesn’t return it, nobody is in love with a donkey, nobody grandstands to get some hottie’s attention, nobody murders an innocent ‘cuz they mistook them for the villain.
Everybody just gives the textbook answer and does the right thing. That’s… kinda bad already.
And that’s a real shame too, ‘cuz I think underneath all the cardboard, there’s a real heart to Numina! There’s heartbreaking loss, disappeared relatives, suffering sidekicks, strange political groups, slaughter, explosions, and marble collecting!
Somebody just gotta throw out the rice crackers, crack open a jar of tongue-burnin’ sour candies, and get HOT AND SWEET.
In Case You Think I Hated It… I Don’t
The demo of Numina took me about four hours to complete. And I admit, I woulda played it longer. There’s just enough to interest in the story, and more than enough to interest in exploring and fighting.
I’m sad about the bland parts, but I’m willing to overlook them, some. There’s enough good in here. Also yes, it’s a demo. I got all my fingers and toes crossed that the complete thingy gonna be so good!
And you? Totes if you aren’t too picky about writing, and you loved Chrono Trigger, you hafta try out Numina.
Hi y’all! This is Alice. Today we gonna review the demo version of Kindred Novel, a totally animesque RPG by Birdbunch! Let’s go!
Ropedarts, Zubats, and A Cheerful Young Knight
So, I start the game and first off there’s a brief history flashback, where hapless soldiers get slaughtered by werewolves. Once it’s over, the story proper starts aaaaand there’s no werewolves anywhere, I’m a dancer girl wandering in the mountains and what is this?
It’s a tutorial battle! Fought against a pot! Yes, the game is full of cute anime shenanigans like that. Love it or hate it, but I thought it was kinda sweet.
Yes, we’re this Begonia girl, and yes, we’re gonna meet more archetypal anime types down the road- the Cheerful Boy (who’s probably gonna be our love interest), the Bombastic Ditz, and the Stoic Swordsman! Together, they fight Zubats! (Or was it Zoobots? Zoozos? Summat like that! Bats with a Z!)
Don’t get me wrong tho. I know I sound sarcastic as all get out, but the story is quite well presented.
I almost get these sweet 90s vibes, y’know? Like I’m a kid again and watching Trigun and Tsukikage Ran on a crappy VHS. It’s predictable, but it’s also nostalgic, harmless, fun and VERY, VERY CHEERFUL. Seriously, stay away if ya allergic to sugar!
The script needs a bit of polish, but hey, we’ve all been there! BUT FIX YOUR ELLIPSES NOW, OR ELSE
Get Me A Controller
If ya feel the story’s throwaway, YOU WON’T FEEL THAT WAY ONCE YOU GET INTO A FIGHT. Seriously, long work hours have evidently been sunk into the battle systems of Kindred Novel.
There’s a ton of things going on in the fights. There’s magic, special moves, guard breaks (?), gear skills (??), augment jobs (???), and more! Enemies are weak to certain things, so finding that out and then executing the proper move is important. Also, there’s a time limit to choosing your action… but if ya good, you can QTE that skunk and get a super version of your move!
The fights look awesome too. And animesque. And, umm, a bit overwhelming.
Ironically, though gallons of design have been poured into the fighting system, it was the part I liked the least. I played with the keyboard, and controlling my characters felt a little awkward. Coupled with the time limit, the complex menu systems with my skills in six (?) different menus, and bein’ a ditz and not knowing who was on when, caused me to panic and spaz out on basic attack.
There is controller support though. I get the feeling that’s the natural environment of Kindred Novel. So, if you have one, I hope you’re gonna have a better time of it.
A lot of the things in the fights do make me go “THAT’S SO COOL, SENPAI!” Still, I pine for a simpler system, and can’t shake the nagging feeling that the system has been a wee bit over-designed.
Looks Are Always Important
Overall, Kindred Novel looks nice, plays nice, and feels nice. It’s like a bag of Fazer candy, you know the taste, and you know it’s kinda forgettable, but you’re gonna buy it anyway and be without regrets!
Caveat is, of course, the combat, which probably tries to cater a bit more to the Dark Souls audience out there. So it’s not all popcorn and attack spam.
I’m guessing if you are into fantasy anime, own a controller, and hate easy-peasy standard jRPG fights, then Kindred Novel is absolutely the game for you. Meanwhile, I’ll be waiting for them to implement the attack spam mode before I pull the plug on UNCONDITIONAL ALICE LOVE!