Indie Wonderland: Crashlands

Butterscotch Shenanigans got me interested in their latest release, Crashlands, through the clever campaign idea of ‘talking about it on social media’. I don’t even actively remember signing up for their launch-day email list? But sign up I did, received an email I have, and bought, downloaded, and played Crashlands for review, I…

I guess I’m doing that right now, actually!

(Spoiler levels: Narrative, low. Mechanical, high, but mostly by way of comparison.)

(Game source: Patreon.)

After the break: Crashlands. It’s a good thing it doesn’t read ‘Crash lands’, or I’d be in for a real rough plane ride, ha ha!

Torment Thursdays – Character Creation 2 Attunement

YouTube Link

After some technical problems it is time for take two of the attunement lab fight and again when dealing with the creatures it would be great if we had a visual to pair with the text, much like some of the scenes in Pillars of Eternity used where the player is performing actions which simply are not supported by the engine. I know this works because that is exactly what we see with the big choose your own adventure mega-memory that is our reward for attuning with each of the creatures. Given the length and intensity of the memory I am glad they opted to do something rather than just continue to show the lab.

It is a pretty cool little mini-choose your own adventure, I wonder if it is possible to get through it without being a murderous monster, I also wonder how old the memory is as the locations mentioned are all in the game…

Back In The Saddle

Heya, readers. If you’re seeing this, then: woo! Ninja Blues has crawled back up from a frustrating and attack-filled January 2016. Hopefully, with the measures we’ve taken, it should be smooth sailing again from here on out. At least until the hackers and the scammers adapt again in the ever-flowing arms race that is The Internet, but hey, what can you do.

Couple of points of site news for you:

a) We’ll be porting over our work from the Ninja Blues Repository to here over the next few days. Expect us to be fully back and caught up sometime soon.

b) I’m officially bringing in Ranneko as our third core Ninja Blues member. Not only was his help and support invaluable for getting through January, but his massive volume of work kind of makes him eligible for the position through sheer determination alone. He doesn’t know yet that I’m planning to do this, though; won’t he be surprised when he sees this post.

c) Yes, our banner is busted right now. Blame WordPress. We’re working on it; one catastrophe at a time.

And finally, in actual game-related news:

d) The imminent release of XCOM 2 can only mean one thing: it’s finally, finally time for a new Jarenth Plays series! Given that Jarenth Plays XCOM was one of the most popular things I’ve ever done, and one of the most fun, me picking up this torch with the sequel was more or less assumed. It’s going to follow up from whatever meager storytelling I had going on back then, too; if you ever needed an excuse to re-familiarize yourself with the (screenshot-devoid) first Let’s Play, now’s the time.

And, yes, I am recruiting for this second XCOM iteration! If you’re interesting in being a soldier, scientist, or engineer in my fight against ADVENT and the alien menance, now’s your chance. Sign up in this Google sheet, or leave a comment under this post, with your name, class preferences, and looks/colour scheme.

So yeah! Welcome back, everybody. Thanks for your continued belief in and support of Ninja Blues, it means the world to us. Let’s see if we can’t make the rest of 2016 suck less.

– Jarenth


Indie Wonderland: Fate Tectonics

I bought Golden Gear GamesFate Tectonics almost entirely on the name alone. We’re talking like 85%, maybe 90% of my reasoning. What can I say? I’m a sucker for a good pun name. ‘Fate Tectonics’ isn’t only fairly clever, as far as pun standards go, but also actually informative: I don’t quite know what this game is about just yet, but I feel like I can intuit it’s going to involve earthquakes. Earthquakes, and fate.

The other 10-15% of my reasoning is the adorable-looking art style on display on the site and in the Steam store. Guys, it’s pretty adorable. And yes, that does mean my attention is easily drawn by funny titles and cutesy art; game developers aching for an Indie Wonderland spot, take note.

(Spoiler levels: Narrative, largely nonexistent. Mechanical, medium-high.)

(Game source: Bought it myself.)

After the break: Fate Tectonics. Does it rock my world? It, er…

Ran Story – Looking For Context

YouTube Link

One of the most interesting features of Her Story is the way it presents a lot of information but surprisingly little context, not only because the videos are completely out of order, but we only ever hear responses, never questions. I was really keen to try to find the lie detector videos thinking they would be really revealing, only to realise that of course the videos consist only of Eve saying “Yes” or “No”, without the questions those answers are completely useless. Here I spend a lot of time initially trying to find out more about the murder and the items that have been mentioned previously but ultimately just trying to see every single video. The game is ultimately a very self directed experience it will never give you an outright answer but it’s few extrinsic rewards are based around simply viewing as much as you can.

I will say this actually finishing the game (not shown in this video) does hand you the single most important piece of context of all. A clue as to why the character we are playing as is looking in the database to begin with. Something I only spent a little bit of time thinking about while playing the game itself.

I really recommend you go out there and get Her Story for yourself so you can see what you can piece together about what happened and why, not just during the crime but during the interviews.

My final notes can be found here.

Torment Thursday – Character Creation 1

YouTube Link

Torment: Tides of Numenera has reached beta, we previously checked out the Alpha Systems Tests and it will be interesting to see what changes have been made to those scenes. A word of warning however, the beta uses content from the critical path of the game, so the content this series covers will contain spoilers for the final game. Some elements may change, especially in terms of UI, puzzles or combat but I would not anticipate any of the major story beats changing.

The first part of this episode is literally the same as Alpha Systems Test 1, and largely I feel my initial feedback remains the same, I really hope that they provide more visuals to go along with the text here. There is a lot of really cool descriptions and scenes happening in the text but we don’t really get to see any of it, a few still pieces of art to go along with the sound and text would go a long way.

Unfortunately we also had some… technical difficulties in the Attunement chamber, frustrating in the moment but we are dealing with a beta after all. It shouldn’t have much impact to you guys but I will have to play through the early parts again before I can record the next episode.

See you next Thursday!


Indie Wonderland: Punch Club

Man, the first month of 2016 just has me riled up. Death here, taxes there, website troubles up and down, and not a cake in sight. If only I had some way to relieve my angry tensions. Maybe some sort of social group built for that exact purpose and meeting in repeated, agreed-upon intervals. Like, I dunno. Some sort of club.

For punching.

And hey, would you look at that! With almost eerie timing, Lazy Bear Games and tinyBuild deliver unto us Punch Club! A game that has about a 25% chance of being exactly what I need it to be; it could, after all, also be a game about non-alcoholic mixed-drink enthusiasts, about a stick of wood with a boxing glove, or about a magical wand that provides an endless amount of sugary drinks.

Only one way to find out which one it is.

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

(Game source: Bought it myself.)

After the break: PUNCHING! Of some variety. As soon as I join the requisite club.

Ran Story – Confession

YouTube Link

I was pretty surprised by the video we see towards the end of this episode. I have spent so much time trying to dig into the back story of Eve and Hannah and ignored basically everything about the murder itself, getting an explanation from Eve, almost a straight confession felt like it came out of the blue. I am pretty sure that video in particular is what triggers the “You done” message, which I have of course opted not to accept, there are still many videos left to uncover. The confession included so many details that I hadn’t heard of before, but the broken mirror and the watch. Next time I should try to find those.

My notes from this episode can be found here



Ranonauts – Rocketeering

YouTube Link

The rising lethality of these missions combined with the continuing budget problems has lead to a really simple solution. Use more rockets. Sure we are much less mobile and we recover significantly less loot when we do this but morale is higher than it has ever been. Turning aliens into exploded smears of debris from a distance is much safer than trying to riddle them with bullets. You just don’t have the same need for accuracy, the hope is that more and faster assaults on alien ships will make up for our incredible budget shortfalls.

The Ranonauts Project would like to offer it’s congratulations to:

  • Nikita and the Hunter crew for the liberal and effective use of rockets
  • Team Soviet Europe for two successive alien ship raids with no casualties

To date Ranonauts has:

  • defended the earth for 2 months and 23 days
  • lost 19 soldiers
  • killed 124 aliens in 16 ground battles
  • captured 13 aliens
  • shot down 20 alien spacecraft
  • had one aircraft shot down
  • received $6,350,947 in funding

Ranonauts is in desperate need for new recruits after recent… incidents, if you or a friend would like to become a soldier in the Ranonauts project please leave a comment or fill in your information here, the next set of new soldiers will arrive in episode nineteen.

Ranonauts – Magic Walls

YouTube Link

There is definitely something a little frustrating with Xenonaut’s terrain blocking. Edges block a much wider range than I feel is reasonable. I first noticed this with UFOs near the entrances, but here it was lethal, one Andron took down a surprisingly large number of men because it was tough and standing right next to a wall. I felt pretty cheated by Xenonauts here, it lead to a rage-quit on the day and a re-evaluation of how much I want to keep going with this game.

The Ranonauts Project would like to offer it’s heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the following soldiers:

  • Lon Lon
  • Warstrike
  • Pietro Bianchi
  • Scimitar
  • Fredagar

The staff here would like to make special mention that San Salvador and it’s brave people remain in our thoughts and prayers, we only wish that we had had the funding for aircraft closer to hand.

Congratulations to:

  • Narmio for charging into the back half of an alien ship armed only with a stun grenade
  • Scimitar for doing taking out the Andron after being reassured only twice
  • Lon Lon for taking on an enemy drone with only a pistol
  • Androns for always using terrain despite explicitly never taking cover
  • The wall for covering a surprisingly large number of angles
  • Pedro260 for racking up 5 kills in a single mission

To date Ranonauts has:

  • defended the earth for 2 months and 19 days
  • lost 19 soldiers
  • killed 110 aliens in 14 ground battles
  • captured 13 aliens
  • shot down 19 alien spacecraft
  • had one aircraft shot down
  • received $6,350,947 in funding

Ranonauts is in desperate need for new recruits after recent… incidents, if you or a friend would like to become a soldier in the Ranonauts project please leave a comment or fill in your information here, the next set of new soldiers will arrive in episode fifteen.