Welcome to Ranstotzka. Papers, Please.

YouTube Link

Good news everyone. I just received a letter from the Ministry of Labor informing me that I won the October Labor Lottery. I have to report to the Ministry of Admission at the Grestin Border Checkpoint. It should be a pretty mindnumbing job and the class 8 dwelling that is provided isn’t very good, but it is vital that I do my part for the glorious nation of Ranstotzka.

Apparently I will get paid for everyone I let in correctly, and they will know because they already have someone whose job is to double check and they get paid for every mistake they catch so no doubt they will be paying very close attention and willing to pull any bullshit reason they can to show I made a mistake.

So I guess I just have to sit down, memorise today’s rulebook and practice my signature phrase: Papers, Please.


Indie Wonderland: Hand Of Fate

How about a nice game of cards? I was drawn to Hand Of Fate, Defiant Development‘s latest Kickstarted opus, on the promise that it combined interesting deck-building card game mechanics with the ability to punch people like Batman does. I was not drawn to Hand Of Fate on any accidental similarity to Manos: The Hands of Fate, either the movie or the apparently lovely Android tie-in, as my lawyer advises me any overlap between the two properties is probably legally entirely incidental. Legally incidental. So don’t even think about going there, other lawyers. Legal Steve over there can beat all of you. Undisputed World Lawyering Federation heavyweight champion, right there. Don’t make us go habeas corpus on your asses.

Anyway: Hand Of Fate, which is in no way a secret training module for the ancient art of law-wrasslin’. It looks rad. What more reason do I normally need?

(Spoiler levels: Narrative, medium. Mechanical, medium.)

(Game source: Bought it myself. No, I didn’t back this on Kickstarter.)

After the break: Hand Of Fate. I guarantee you that there is not a Harold P. Warren in sight. All we get today are swords, rats, tokens, and oh-so-many cards.

Ranacide – Shmup-Four

YouTube Link

Game Source: Press Key

Galacide is an upcoming game from Puny Human in the final stages of Early Access. It enters final release on the 28th and I game I entered almost completely blind. It is a blending of two genres that I would never have expected someone to try, Shoot Em Up and Match Four.

The results of the blending are interesting, I don’t play many shoot em ups, but in general this one feels slower because in particular it involves trying to progress through literal walls of blocks while also dodging enemy fire. You have to balance clearing out height in the wall to give you space to dodge with clearing out depth so you continue to have space to move forwards. In the starting ship you also have to pick at any given moment whether you are trying to move and aim a block, or if you are fighting opponents so any time you are interacting with the wall you are restricted to dodging. It definitely adds a fair amount of stress without needing to actually increase the enemy count or complexity that much.

To me the play felt the best felt when the wall consisted mostly, so I could concentrate on both elements without getting too bogged down in either. The problem is that when the diversity increases it slows progress down to a crawl, which seems really strange in this genre of game, I am used to being pushed along whether I am ready or not and the pace the game sets has to be quite slow for the bitwall puzzle to really make any sense. It makes the game feel internally conflicted. I don’t really know how I would solve this either.

In any case, if you want to try it for yourself you can grab it on Steam for ten of your american dollars, or a regional Steam equivalent.

The Ranchanted Cave 2 – E8 – Cave Conquered

YouTube Link

After 8 episodes and about 10 hours of play the Enchanted Cave 2 has been beaten. The dragon-man I started out with has taken down not only the Necromancer but his ultimate creation the demon he crafted using the souls of 999 adventurers and capped off with his very own soul.

For such a significant sounding threat, the demon was surprisingly passive. It seemed content to squat on floor 100 waiting for me to show up and in the meantime just the big evil thing it did? Make it rain. Once the summoning is complete the rain begins and does not let up until it is destroyed, I guess sometimes demons are a bit odd.

So What did I think?

Jarenth Plays, Intermission

Heya, readers.

As you may have read and/or surmised by now, Jarenth Plays Starships officially came to an end last week. Hope you all enjoyed it! I’ve appended the Let’s Play Overview page with a much-needed Starships Index; it will now be easier than ever to quickly find your favourite episode! Is it the one where I effortlessly kill everyone ever? Or the other one where I do that?

“Jarenth, Jarenth, when’s your next Let’s Play?” I’m glad you asked, Nobody In Particular! Short answer is, I’m currently working on it. I have two possible games lined up; once I finish harvesting gameplay material from both of them, I’ll have to decide which one to do — either ‘if any’, or ‘first’. I hope to get to this in a handful of weeks. Please yell at me if I haven’t started anything by the end of August, alright? Let’s use that as a soft social deadline.

Once again, thanks to everyone for reading my work and leaving comments! And if you like what we’ve been doing here, with Jarenth Plays in particular and Ninja Blues at large in general, please consider donating to our Patreon Campaign if you haven’t already! The support we’re already getting from our current backers is an incredible motivator to continually cast aside my social life in favour of writing more of these things.

– Jarenth

The Ranchanted Cave 2 – E7 – One Last Soul

YouTube Link

Last time we made it down to the Necromancer and instead of confronting him and taking him down decided that maybe right now was a good time to go get some fresh air, maybe a beer. Leave fighting evil and saving the world for another day, one where we are a little less concerned with self preservation and perhaps just a little less sober too. Today is that day let’s take down that necromancer.

Continue reading


Indie Shortieland: oO

Heya, readers. Shorter Indie Wonderland this week, as I’m sure you can tell from the title. An unexpected one-two combo of stringent work deadlines and rapid-onset fever meant I couldn’t quite give my long-form attention to any game this week. This is the reason you’re getting a shorter game overview this week; no role is played, I take care to emphasize, by my brain hooking itself onto Marvel Heroes with renewed fervor, and deciding that grinding several characters to the level cap would be the best use of my time. That obviously didn’t happen.

The game I did look into this week is the enigmatically titled oO, by developer Rainbow Train. This game advertises itself as a “hardcore minimal indie “dodge-em-up / runner” arcade game“, whatever the hell those words in that order mean; from the screenshots, I thought it looked like a minimalist reflex-driven puzzler in the vein of Super Hexagon. I figured I could play oO for a little bit, and I’d find one or two interesting things to say about it. So I did, and I did!

They just weren’t the things I expected.

After the break: Ooh, a cliffhanger! So, do you think I liked oO? Or hated it? Place your bets now, ladies and gentlemen!

The Ranchanted Cave 2 – E6 – The Better Part of Valour

YouTube Link

Finally the long dungeon crawl reaches the end. I meet the Necromancer and epically run away. I like to try to learn from my mistakes and when I originally played this game just after it was released on Kongregate I had a similar run where I made it through half of the dungeon and then fought the Necromancer who utterly crushed me. Net result was that I was reset to outside the cave as if the previous run had never happened. This might have been fine for a short dip in the cave but for an extended run which contained a very large amount of progress. Well let’s just say I closed the browser tab and didn’t look back until the steam release.

In general I don’t really like losing large amounts of progress at a time, as much as I love Spelunky and NecroDancer, when I die in them I lose that current run, somewhere between 5 and 30 minutes of play. Losing hours of progress at a stroke is the kind of thing that gets me to abandon games, especially when they are built on slow and steady progress like an RPG.

The Ranchanted Cave 2 – E5 – Time To Do Some Maths

YouTube  Link

The longer this run lasts the more I am leaning on that heal spell, effectively I am substituting mana for health. This approach clearly has its limitations but they are pretty straightforward to work out, none of the information I am using is hidden. The cost of the spell is standardised and the amount I heal is shown every time I cast it.

So how much is a single point of mana worth? Well, depends on my magic, but at the start of this episode, 1 mana was a little over 6 (122/20) health. Even there that means that a single point of mana regeneration is worth more than the most health regen I have ever put on an item via enchantment. Time to slowly phase out health regen in favour of more mana. Heck spare mana lets me get away with a bunch of other things too, I can convert mana into attack via spells, I can convert mana into gold via transmutation and lastly I can convert mana into knowledge by revealing the entire level. I don’t know why I didn’t start this transition earlier.


Jarenth Plays Starships — Episode 10: Unification

In the last episode of Jarenth Plays Starships, I finally, totally, completely defeated Vadim Kozlov and his Galactic Union. I conquered planet after planet, one after the next, until nobody but the most foolhardy would dare even declare their allegiance to that doomed Purity crusade. And then I found the one planet that had a bunch of those foolhardy braggarts, and I smacked the upstart right out of them.

Now, with the taints of red and brown finally scoured from the galactic map, the ranting voice of Vadim Kozlov has finally fled my precious airwaves. His fleet has disbanded, on his orders, to become independent raiding parties… reasoning that if all his ships combined couldn’t make a dent in my power, splitting them up into tiny groups might be more effective? I wouldn’t be able to guess at the reasoning, to be honest. But whatever the reason, whatever the case, the last of the great non-Supremacy power blocs has finally fallen.

And as for me? Well, I’m doing alright. I’m doing very alright, if you’ll permit me a little brag. In fact, according to all power metrics, I can’t be more than one turn away from total galactic victory. And I’m sure I will reach total galactic victory, sooner or later, if I just keep conquering enemy planets…

…assuming I can build up the conviction to do so.

After the break: I don’t want to wipe Suzanne off the map. I really don’t. I *like* Suzanne! But honestly, what other choice do I *have*?