Author Archives: Jarenth

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.

– 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.

Indie Wonderland: Spartan Fist

Glass Bottom Games is one of the few development teams whose work I actually follow. Mostly due to serendipity, though the cat-heavy focus of their games probably weighs more than I care to admit. Jones On Fire: Kitties Are Cute And Should Be Saved was the first-ever game that I bought to play on my tablet — man, remember tablets? And I wrote about Hot Tin Roof: The Cat That Wore A Fedora in the early days of 2015, back when things were calmer and we hadn’t lived through 2016 yet (review here).

And now we’ve got Spartan Fist. Which doesn’t have a lengthy side-title like its older siblings, but if it did, it would be ‘Punch Dudes So Hard They Explode’. Because that’s what you’ll be doing in this game.

I don’t need to explain why this review exists any further, do I?

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

(Game source: Patreon funds.)

After the break: Spartan Fist, a game in which no kitties are ever punched – they’re present, but no direct punching happens. Dudes, however…

Indie Wonderland: The Swords Of Ditto

One Bit Beyond‘s The Swords Of Ditto rather unceremoniously exploded onto my Twitter feed a few weeks ago. I hadn’t heard anything about it before that, but then, you might know that I don’t actually follow games news all that closely — either way, it came as a surprise. But a pleasant surprise: From screenshots, The Swords Of Ditto looks engaging and colourful, and from early discussion, it seemed to center around an interesting procedural gameplay system: ‘If your hero dies before defeating the dark lord, the next hero of prophecy has to deal with the consequences’. It was enough to get me to pick it up, and as such, here we are.

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

(Game source: Patreon funds.)

After the break: The Swords Of Ditto, which may or may not feature a Pok√©mon blacksmith. It probably doesn’t. But wouldn’t that be cool?

Indie Non-derland: An Odd Realization

So there’s no Indie Wonderland this week. And the reason for that is weirder than usual.

I’ve been playing One Bit Beyond‘s The Swords Of Ditto, a cute and colourful Zelda-esque about delving dungeons and beating evils over many successive generations. It has interesting theming, both in the immediately visual way the world is shaped (ex. the ‘Toys of Legend’) and in the underlying story that slowly emerges as you recover more and more logs. As well as some other stuff.

The problem is that I think there’s more to this game than I’m currently getting. Without getting too in-depth, on a surface level, I started getting a little bored with The Swords Of Ditto in my second run. It’s mechanically not very tough, and the heavily-lampshaded repetition starts to grate soon. But all the same, it’s very strongly implied that there’s supposed to be more: That all the repetition and the strange game design and the heavy lampshading is leading to some sort of breaking of the mold. If that does happen, it has the potential to be very interesting.

I just haven’t found it yet.

So, in a fairly unprecedented Indie Wonderland move, I want to give The Swords Of Ditto another week. If there is something more, I’d feel bad about writing what’s essentially an incomplete review. But if I can’t find what I’m thinking to find in two weeks time, it doesn’t really matter whether it’s ‘really’ there or not.

Check back in next week for the exciting conclusion!

– Jarenth

Indie Wonderland: Frostpunk

A fun fact about me: I moved into Boston early this year, in the aftermath of (and somewhat delayed by) the weather phenomenon known as the ‘bomb cyclone’. My first two weeks were characterized by feet-high piles of snow bordering all walkways, public life slowly starting back up as the white-grey snow banks refused to melt, and perpetual cold winds.

So what I’m saying is, 11 Bit StudiosFrostpunk? A game about fleeing the crumbling remnants of a once-temperate climate to establish a whole new life in an unknown perpetual arctic wasteland? I might actually have the credentials needed to review this.

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

(Game source: Patreon funds.)

After the break: Frostpunk. If this game has Dunkin’ Donuts around every corner, I’ll know for sure I’m the most qualified person in the world to write about it.

Indie Wonderland: Freaky Awesome

Much as the Steam store front page is slowly devolving into a Newgrounds-esque burning trash heap, it’s still occasionally possible to find cool games just by browsing. For instance, two weeks ago I found Mandragora Games‘s Freaky Awesome, a game that impressed itself on me (via trailers and screenshots) as ‘what if The Binding Of Isaac, but about weird ooze mutations instead of dead babies and poop’. Which… I dunno, that seems like a kind of game I could see myself enjoying, if I gave it a shot.

And here we are!

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

(Game source: Bought it myself.)

After the break: Freaky Awesome, or ‘what if the develops of classic Duke Nukem applied their talents to refining other game formulas’?

Indie Wonderland: Slime Rancher

Monomi Park‘s Slime Rancher has been in the periphery of my awareness for a while now. I remember it being announced. I remember several of my friends jumping on the first Early Access opportunity, talking about wrangling slimes there was to do back in those times. I remember thinking it looked cute, and possibly fun, and as such I would probably want to wait with actually playing it until post-Early Access. And, me being me, I remember buying it only a few weeks back, way after the full release had gone out, and then immediately forgetting to actually launch it for way too long — the one thing I didn’t remember.

Do you think I might miss thinking ‘you know, I should get around to Slime Rancher one of these days‘? I worry I might miss those thoughts.

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

(Game source: Bought it myself.)

After the break: Slime Rancher. So soon after playing Dragon Quest: Builders, I worry what might happen if I play an ostensibly peaceful game full of slimes.

Indie Early Access Land: Fort Triumph

Now, I know what you’re thinking, so let me get ahead of some dashed expectations real quick: No, this isn’t actually an Archer-branded video game. That’d be Fort Kickass, not Fort Triumph.

I know, I know. Let’s all take a moment to mourn what could have been: Oh, Fort Kickass the video game, you were too kickass for this world. But then let’s also take a moment to imagine what an inevitable trash-fire any licensed Archer game will inevitably end up being, particularly in the Year of our Luigi 2018. So maybe it’s for the best.

And then let’s finally look at the actual game for this week, Fort Triumph — ostensibly by ‘Fort Triumph Team’, who are definitely not putting all their eggs in one basket. That it took me three paragraphs of rambling to even get to naming their game in this review should probably fill them with a lot of confidence.

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

(Game source: Distributor Steam key.)

(Time of writing: 2018-04-16)

After the break: My triumphant look at Fort Triumph, a game about kicking. And… tactics, I guess?

Indie Wonderland: Minit

You know how the equation of playing video games changes as you get older? I’m sure you’re familiar with the idea that there’s always a gap in the trinity of time, skill, and money: When you’re young, you’ve got time and you’ve got skill, but money limits your access to games. Get a little older, and money stops being an issue while skill still remains decent, but now all your time goes into — jobs, taxes, home ownership, whatever it is adults do. And get older still, into that mythical ‘retirement age’ that my generation will see, and you’re supposed to have time and money for days — but with your body’s upper skill limit slowly declining. I can’t really comment on the accuracy of all it, but as a man in his thirties, I can tell you that the number of hours in a day, and days in a week, and weeks in a month, no longer feels as daunting or as plentiful as it once did. I just don’t have the time into every new 40-hour release, alright! Sometimes I just want some games I can play between work, dinner, and whatever other plans I might have. Sometimes… all I have is a minute.

Now, I’m not saying that ‘JW, Kitty, Jukio, and Dom‘ had these exact constraints in mind when they made Minit, a game where progress is ostensibly measured in minute-long intervals. All I’m saying is that, for me? This might work out just fine.

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

(Game source: Patreon funds.)

After the break: Have I made it so that it will only take you a minute to read this review? Haha, nope! Buckle up.