Let's jump some JUMPS

Indie Wonderland: Omegaland

Sometimes you have to take a chance on a game you know nothing about. Or so I tell myself; the drive to only ever play the RPG adventures and metroidvanias and interesting experimental games (and visual novels) that I know I’ll enjoy (or loathe deeply) is ever-present. But without boundary pushing, how could I expect any sort of critical growth? Stagnation is death when it comes to writing.

Anyway, this unexpectedly wordy paragraph only serves to explain why I picked up Jonas Kyratzes‘s Omegaland. It looks for all the world like baby’s first platforming game, which isn’t generally a genre I’m wild about. But I know looks can be deceiving in projects like this; I have played Frog Fractions. So maybe there’s more to this game than meets the eye? The Steam page‘s “be prepared for few surprises along the way” (sic) does suggest that…

Then again, it might not be. Should I be judging this book by its cover? Only one way to find out.

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

(Game source: Bought it myself.)

After the break: Listen, I’m really hoping to be the first to discover the next Frog Fractions, okay. But not in like a Frog Fractions 2 kind of way, like – listen, it doesn’t matter, here’s Omegaland.

Ranneko Plays The End of Torment – Delayed Channel Update 2017-11-10

This update was delayed somewhat on the grounds that I was helping out at and then attending a wedding. The end of my Australia trip was super busy and I didn’t have the time or inclination to get this written up.

During this particular week; I finished up Torment: Tides of Numenera. It has been quite a journey, not only was there 67 episodes of the main series, but there are another 46 episodes of Torment Thursdays and playing around with the initial beta and 3 episodes of playing the alphas. I have spent about 76 hours reading out a lot of text.

I think what I enjoyed most about the game was the opportunity to spend time exploring the setting of Numenera. Unfortunately, my total pen and paper experience with Numenera has consisted of half of a oneshot adventure but I have always enjoyed the ideas expressed in the setting. Exploring a world that has seen advanced civilizations rise and fall so many times that the world is fully of ancient debris right down to the soil and Torment: Numenera was a good vehicle to explore it.

As far as the ending, I was surprised at how persuasively the Sorrow was written. She has been relentlessly pursuing us the entire game and we have witnessed her destroy not just other Castoffs, but also other more apparently innocent people and yet she was able to explain her purpose and convince me that this could not continue. I don’t think I have ever had the villain convince me over to their side before.

The releases for the week ending on 2017-11-10 were:

Saturday and Thursday: Torment: Tides of Ranmenera
Sunday: Ran Signature
Monday, Wednesday, Friday: The Ransistance: War of the Chosen
Tuesday: Heat Signature Hot Tips / Ranneko’s Tuesday Tips

After the break, more about the videos that released last week!

Indie Wonderland: Songbringer

I first heard of Wizard Fu Games‘s Songbringer in that most me way of hearing about new games: An online acquaintance hyped it on Twitter. I otherwise have very little idea what to expect from Songbringer. It bills itself as a ‘procedural action RPG’, which, what exactly does that mean? What do those words in that order tell us about what this game is? Nothing, that’s what. Which means there’s only one way I’m going to find out…

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

(Game source: Patreon funds.)

After the break: By playing Songbringer, that’s what I meant. That’s how I’m going to find out. No, Wikipedia is not ‘just as good a solution’.

Indie Delayland

Hey readers.

So, my job ended last week. Temporary contract, planned end, I knew it was coming. I already have a new job lined up for January 2018 (with some 95% certainty), meaning I’ll be home free and on unemployment benefits for the next two months. So far, so ‘good’: You’d probably expect this gives me plenty of time to review a whole bunch of games.

Complication, though: My job ended halfway into last week. Between wrapping that up, preparing the new job, and a general sense of routine-busting panic (I am not a person who deals with change well), I haven’t had a lot of time to think about game reviews. I’m alright now, so the rest of November and most of December should go well. Just wanted to let you know that today isn’t going anywhere. Thanks for understanding.

As for late December… Well, we’ll get to that when we get to that. Again, I appreciate your patience and understanding, and I’ll try my best to get some good reviews going for these closing months of 2017. Twenty serpentine, indeed.

Hah, 'Traveler'. That's gonna be real funny in a month or two.

Allegations that most of my gameplay time this week went into the gun-shooting adventures of a space-age robot wizard remain, as always, scurrilously unfounded.

Ranneko Plays Infuriating Surprises – Channel Update 2017-11-03

I think this week marks the first time I have quit a working game earlier than intended since my unsuccessful playthrough of Heroines Quest: The Herald of Ragnarok in early 2015. During the mission I ran into 3 separate issues which culminated in quitting the game and not going back.

To start with: We somehow automatically failed the sidequest from the previous expedition. We were asked to collect musical instruments and had no less than 14 instruments in our inventory and the collector leaves in disappointment. Not a great start, a relatively minor issue, but one that sets the tone for the episode.

Then, during this expedition we encounter our first celestial shrine. Unlike most shrine effects, the celestial shrine doesn’t create a hazard, instead it create impassable terrain. As an added bonus it also seems to cover a much larger area than most shrines. This is a trap, one that can’t help but get most players the first time they encounter it. It is simply much more dangerous than most other shrines and the most likely to render an expedition incompletable. A more experienced play of Curious Expeditions would know to avoid looting such shrines unless the path to the finish is clear. This kind of trap is not great to spring on a player in the last expedition of a run, personally, I would try to ensure this was exposed earlier when it isn’t going to completely destroy a character’s chances.

Finally, having realised the hopeless situation I resolved to use the Hot Air Balloon to escape and rescue what little treasure I had. Now when you are doing this, you get the rather selfish option to kick companions out of the party to increase space available in the balloon. Given I was on the last expedition I decided to completely empty my party. Unkind? Definitely. Encouraged by the game? Indisputedly. What the game doesn’t warn you is that you need at least 1 companion to actually use the hot air balloon. Dismissing every companion renders you unable to escape.

This was the final straw. Keep in mind, the interface to dismiss members of my party is explicitly tied to the hot air balloon. Why does it let me dismiss everyone from this interface if I need one companion to escape? Why doesn’t the interface tell me I need at least 1 companion to use the balloon before I set it up? This is either a bug, or both a terrible interface and a trap. Regardless it was the final straw for me and robbed me of even the consolation of at least returning from the sixth expedition. An incredibly bad experience that soured me on ever returning to the game.

The last week’s releases were:

Saturday and Thursday: Torment: Tides of Ranmenera
Sunday: Curious Ranpedition
Monday, Wednesday, Friday: The Ransistance: War of the Chosen
Tuesday: Heat Signature Hot Tips / Ranneko’s Tuesday Tips

After the break, more about the videos that released last week!

Indie Shortieland: Opus Magnum

Sharp-eyed inspectors of my Twitter timeline the last two weeks may have guessed the review that would show up this week. Like many of my friends, peers, and distant relations, I fell hard for Opus Magnum, Zachtronics‘ latest… opus, I guess, in their preferred systems optimization genre. It took an international board games convention and a glut of incredible game releases to knock me out of an Opus Magnum fugue, and even now, I’m thinking about going back. I didn’t even get that far into the story. And I could probably optimize that one puzzle a little better. Maybe by…

So it might surprise you that, as the headline suggests, this is going to be a relatively short review. Turns out I just don’t have that much to say about Opus Magnum! In fact, I could do the whole review in two lines: “If you liked the other Zachtronics games, get this one too. And if you’ve never played any, but you were thinking about checking the genre out, start with this one.”

Alright, let’s call this my time-optimized review. Check that off the list. For my next solution attempt, I’ll try to write one that actually hits all the relevant content marks…

(Spoiler levels: Narrative, none. Mechanical, some degree, but nothing serious.)

(Game source: Patreon funds.)

After the break: Content-Complete Solution (Still Pretty Short) [v1.3]

Ranneko Plays The Importance of Advertising – Channel Update 2017-10-27

My channel has been pretty stagnant of late. In a typical 48 hour period I average somewhere between 40 and 50 views, 0 comments and no new subscribers. I’m not sure what to do about this long term, but short term there are some very obvious actions that I am always somewhat hesitant to take.

The most obvious reason why I don’t get many views is that not many people know about my videos. If you don’t tell people they exist, they don’t find them. Strange right? Unfortunately, I get pretty nervous telling people about my videos, mostly worried that they will see it as spam or that the videos themselves aren’t good enough.

This week I built up the courage to post the Heat Signature tips on the Heat Signature subreddit and almost immediately saw results. My views immediately tripled and I got a few comments on the thread from people who learned things from the tips that I’ve already put out. It is a good reminder that telling people what you are working on actually works.

Is there anything cool you have been working on that you are nervous telling people about?

The last week’s releases were:

Saturday and Thursday: Torment: Tides of Ranmenera
Sunday: Curious Ranpedition
Monday, Wednesday, Friday: The Ransistance: War of the Chosen
Tuesday: Heat Signature Hot Tips / Ranneko’s Tuesday Tips

After the break, more about the videos that released last week!

Indie Wonderland: Holy Potatoes! What The Hell!?!

Hey readers. November’s fast approaching; Long-time readers will know this as the time I generally indulge in the theme of visual novels and dating sims. However, following reader feedback at the end of the last excursion, I’ve decided to tweak the formula a bit this year. By not indulging in the formula at all. November 2017’s gonna be Just Normal Indie Wonderland Reviews month, or: There Are So Many Good Games I Haven’t Gotten Around To Reviewing Yet, You Guys Have No Idea.

As some contrition to those who like to see me suffer in a serialized manner, I offer this: Earlier this month, I was mailed by a PR representative of Daylight Studios with an unprompted review key for their latest work, Holy Potatoes! What The Hell!?!. Yeah, it’s this series again, of earlier weapon shop and space adventure fame. I was mailed because the studio thought that my earlier experience with pop culture potato games would make this a good fit for my writing; And if you think that dramatic arc sounds similar to the last time they mailed me, that’s because it is.

Still. I’m not one to turn down well-intentioned potato gifts.

(Spoiler levels: Narrative, low. Mechanical, high, I think.)

(Game source: Developer Steam key.)

After the break: I’d make a month out of games like Holy Potatoes! What The Hell!?!, but alas, I already reviewed the other two earlier.

Ranneko Plays Rushing For The Finish – Channel Update 2017-10-20

I am not sure how widely I have discussed this, but most of the recording I do is also streamed up at https://twitch.tv/ranneko. There isn’t much in the way of audience interaction, and thus there generally isn’t much of an audience. The goal is to give me a backup in case I screw up with my local recording.

At the time of writing, I am actually very close to the end of the Ransistance and I am hoping to finish it off before I fly out (At the time of publishing I will already have started the first leg of my journey). I have been having a great time with War of the Chosen but I think it would be less fun if I not play it for a month and then have to get back into the flow right at the end of the game.

With the Chosen weaponry, the new hero classes, the new skill system and the near gear from the Alien Hunters DLC by the end of the game your soldiers are significantly more powerful than in the base game. I am finding the late game missions to be almost a cakewalk. I think if I play again I will try increasing the difficulty level and look at using mods built around upping the danger level.

Have any of you given War of the Chosen a shot for yourself?

The last week’s releases were:

Saturday and Thursday: Torment: Tides of Ranmenera
Sunday: Curious Ranpedition
Monday, Wednesday, Friday: The Ransistance: War of the Chosen
Tuesday: Heat Signature Hot Tips / Ranneko’s Tuesday Tips

After the break, more about the videos that released last week!

Indie Shortieland: SiNKR

Heya readers. Shorter Indie Wonderland this week, for reasons not of poor planning but of content. I was emailed by game designer Robert Wahler, who expressed an interest in seeing me review their latest work, the abstract puzzle game SiNKR. And, you know me, hilariously vulnerable to peer pressure and all that. Plus, SiNKR seemed like it’d appeal to me. I like puzzle games for two reasons: One, I’m good them, which makes me feel clever and competent. Yes, that’s totally a valid reason. And two, puzzle games tend to have a clearly defined end point, making it easy to judge how far off the end I am and how much of the game I’ve seen so far. I wouldn’t recommend that for every game, but as far as planning goes, ‘I can see I have X puzzles left until the end’ is much easier to deal with than ‘I think I might be at the final boss, maybe, unless this is a fake-out ending’.

I beat all of SiNKR‘s (current) 60 puzzles in about an hour and a half. That could either mean it’s too short and easy, which would be bad, or that it’s engaging enough to push through a challenging level of difficulty, which would be good. But which option is the correct one? Well…

(Spoiler levels: Narrative, none. Mechanical, high-ish.)

(Game source: Developer Steam key.)

After the break: I know some of you are hoping I’ll say I fell in love with the game. You’ve got your obvious jokes at the ready. I can just feel it.