Monthly Archives: June 2018

Indie Wonderland: Moonlighter

Regular readers of this column will know that I generally only review two types of games: Games that I’ve been carefully and anxiously awaiting for many years, and games that I didn’t know anything about until I bought them ten minutes ago. Digital Sun’s Moonlighter is, surprisingly, the former: I’ve had some form of reminder tab floating around my Chrome hellzone ever since the first announcements and teaser trailers starting surfacing back in 2016. I try not to get prematurely hyped, but Moonlighter purported to fill an item-shop-shaped hole in my heart, left there by perennial darling Recettear and only somewhat tided over by the likes of Pixel Shopkeeper [reviewed here] and Holy Potatoes! A Weapon Shop?! [reviewed here].

Yeah, so I have a type. What can I say? Most video games are some form of power fantasy, and item shop games are a type of power fantasy I crave right now more than anything else: The ability to engage in ethical consumption under capitalism. Or, well, ‘ethical’ — I know times are tough right now, grandma, but if you can’t afford the ridiculous price tag I put on this stack of apples you’d better get the hell out of my store.

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

(Game source: Patreon funds.)

After the break: I’m looking to have cool adventures and bilk rubes out of their hard-earned cash. Will Moonlighter deliver on either front?

Indie Cultist Simulator Land

So. Those of you who pay attention to this space (a number somewhere between two and ‘several thousand people’) may have seen that I posted something this time last week, wherein I claimed to be delayed by E3 and promised that I would, and I quote, “try to have something up for you as soon as I can manage”. And then a week of stone cold silence ensued. What happened?

Cultist Simulator is what happened, as anyone who follows me on any kind of social media might have spotted. Weather Factory‘s magnum opus grabbed my brain by the folds and refused to let go: I started playing somewhere late Sunday last week, and eight days later I have a little over 50 played hours clocked. Hell, that Sunday itself I only intended to take a quick look, and ended up playing until 3 AM or so.

This is not going to be a traditional Indie Wonderland review. For one, Cultist Simulator doesn’t really lend itself well to my review style. If I took you through the first play session blow-by-blow, my mechanical spoiler counter at the start would have to read for the love of god, don’t read this review. Moreover, for two, Cultist Simulator is a… particular game. Not niche, per se, but… challenging to grasp. I don’t know if I have the confidence to try and pull apart what parts ‘do work’ and ‘don’t work’, either ‘as intended’ or ‘in general’. Hell, I’m not even sure still why it is that I like it so much as I do. I do, obviously, just…

So, I’m doing something different. Instead of reviewing Cultist Simulator in this space, I’m going to be talking about Cultist Simulator. I’ll explain why (I think) it appeals to me, and what that says about the larger game. I might try to drag some points of praise or criticism out of the whole affair, if such points seem to present themselves. It’s going to read slightly more like the ramblings of a madman than usual, but then again, I feel that might be appropriate this time around.

(Spoiler levels: Narrative, as low as I could manage. Mechanical, ditto.)

(Game source: Backed it on Kickstarter.)

After the break: Cultist Simulator, Or: Down I Go…

E3 Delay

Heya folks. Got a little wrapped up in poking fun at E3 the last few days, which impeded writing efforts. I’ll try to have something up for you as soon as I can manage.

Cheers,
– Jarenth

Indie Wonderland: Safe House

One of the neatest aspects of doing this repeated indie game reviewing gig over the years is that it’s exposed me to tons of games I wouldn’t otherwise have seen or played. It’s part of the reason I started the whole thing, really. And this has only gotten better as I got onto a few indie game review mailing lists, meaning I semi-regularly get announcements in my inbox about dates and review opportunities for games that, from my perspective, just sprung into being fully-formed.

Case study: Labs Games‘ recent Kickstarter success Safe House, a game about building and managing an undercover spy headquarters. Tell me that doesn’t sound potentially very cool.

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

(Game source: Developer review key.)

After the break: Safe House, a game that was tricky to find online, since both that combination of words and ‘labs games’ yield a range of possible results.