Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Dédale Review

Dédale is a great little puzzle title in which you guide a butterfly around. I have been informed that Dédale means maze and that is a fitting title. In Dédale you have to colour in each piano key square without going back over the ones you have already done. When you guide the butterfly over a square a musical note will play and the sequence of going over them all at once makes a tune. As the puzzles get trickier and add in more elements, I found myself relaxed instead of infuriated when I simply couldn't figure out the puzzle. The soothing music and the "Yes!" factor when you figure out how to finish a level make for a highly addictive and relaxing experience.

What makes Dédale a true gem is the music. It is gorgeous. It is worth playing just to relax to the music. My only issue is that sometimes when you go too fast moving the butterfly the piano key notes mash together. However, that is mostly my own fault for rushing.

Dédale is splits each puzzle into a different level and then further groups the levels together in worlds. There are 15 levels in each of the 7 worlds. In addition to this there are time trail, vortex and a Dédale-O-Matic modes.

Dédale-O-Matic is an endless mode where every time you finish a puzzle a new randomly generated one appears for our butterfly to paint in. Each is different to the puzzles from the story mode and follows the same key principles.

In time trail the piano key gradually disappear making life even harder for our young butterfly friend and his endless quest for colouring in. You can play through all of the worlds with time trail on for an added challenge and Dédale-O-Matic as well. It doesn't really make the game any harder just looks pretty and mixes the levels up a bit.

Vortex mode rotates the levels as you play them. This causes them to only be mildly harder but made me feel quite ill while playing. Needless to say I did not continue this mode for very long. A nice addition though for those who can manage it.

As you progress in worlds new elements are added (as you might have seen from the pictures above). These 'special' blocks alter how you can move the butterfly and bring a bit more depth to the gameplay.  While it is a nice addition they don't really make the game that much more challenging or alter the core gaming experience beyond "Oh I have to go left here" and can in fact make certain levels easier as it guides you and your insect friend through it.

Overall Dédale has some interesting elements but is still lacking a bit. I can get over the fact that it assumes I know what to do and have played this kind of game before but it would have been nice to be pointed in the right direction. The puzzles range from very easy to fairly tricky but are randomly assigned in each world. It doesn't feel like they get harder and harder rather you have a hard level then easy level. At the end of the day Dédale is an enjoyable and relaxing puzzler that doesn't do much to stand out from the crowd but is a find addition to it instead.

Score - 75/100

General Information

Game Name - Dédale
Developer - Sergey Mohov
Genre - Puzzle
Release date - 4 Jul 2012
Bundle - Bundle In A Box

Friday, 22 March 2013

"Dinner Date" Review

Dinner Date by Stout Games is different to most games. What I mean is that you don't play as the character (Julian Luxemburg) but in fact play as his subconscious. Also your on a deadline. This game spans then 25 minutes that Julian is waiting for his date to turn up. Sounds unusual and well, it is.

As Julian's subconscious you cannot change what he does. You can, however, make him do the little things we ourselves don't notice we do. This includes (for Julian) looking at the clock, flexing his hands or chomping on some bread. So what is the natural thing to make him do you you ask? Why get him drunk of course.

Now unique as this game is, I must say that Julian is miserable. All he does for 25 minutes is complain about one thing or another. However, he complains in a way that makes him seem real, alive and well to be honest a bit whiney at times. It does though all tie together to produce a highly unique game with some highly stylised graphics (despite our friend Julian's hands....) that afterwards leaves you feeling like you wanted to play more. Maybe more will come one day.

I would pick up Dinner Date just because I don't believe there is a gaming experience our there like it. However, it does feel like it needed more. That isn't to say it I'd bad just not as good as it could have been

Score : 70/100

General Information

Game Name - Dinner Date
Developer - Stout Games
Genre - Point and Click? (Need to make up a genre I think...)
Release date - 1 Mar 2011
Bundle - Bundle In A Box

Thursday, 21 March 2013

King Arthur - The Collection Review

King Arthur reminds me of the Total War series but with a story and more RPG aspects. But enough about the game for a moment. The story of King Arthur was a legendary British leader from the late 5th and early 6th centuries. He has had many incarnations over the years including animated films, full features and video games (this basically).

Anyway now you have a bit of background (albeit very little) on with the game. King Arthur has you adventuring around Britannia in a turn based strategic overworld and engaging in battles in real-time strategy style. Like I said it draws many things from the Total War series. You begin the game as young Arthur's father has died and are being shunted forward to be King. The starting area has you dealing with some rebellious faction and brings in moral choices very early on (something that features heavily as it moulds how the story and your characters changed but more on that later) each with their benefits.

The battles have pitting your army against an enemy army. Something I learnt early on was not to rely on the 'autobattle' feature as it almost always end with you losing far too many units. And units are extremely costly to regain. Anyway, during the battles you often have victory points that are certain locations such as villages, towers or keeps that give you buffs and help you to control the battlefield. The more of these you control the more likely you'll win. The buffs can range from Ealing your units to causing your archers to fire faster. All in all they are useful and enrich the gameplay experience by making it really feel as if you are conquering (or liberating) a region.

King Arthur has RPG features and as such each unit levels up. This means for basic units like spearmen that get to increase their stats. These stats include: attack, defence, stamina and upkeep cost. Your knights of the round table a likewise upgradable with slightly more options. You get a stat point that you can upgrade their leadership or fighting prowess but also you get a skill point for gaining new spells. All your hero units can use these spells in battle and certain units such as cavalry have abilities like dodge that make ranged attacks miss but reduces their defence.

King Arthur's quest system is reminiscent of old adventure books. Quests happen in a text bed adventure where you make decisions about what you elected knight does. This can alter your in game moral compass so make sure you choose the outcome you want. Quests can either result in a peaceful solution or a battle and the odds can end up stack in either favour depending upon what your choices were previously. This curious little throw back to gaming of years past is actually refreshing and helps to drive the story, build the world and give depth to the characters.

Right, onto the morality system. In King Arthur your moral choices are tracked from four points: Christianity and Old Faith, and Righteous and Tyrant. As you might of guess there are opposites. You can't be a Righteous Tyrant and neither can you be a Christian of the Old Faith. As is usual with moral choices in games it is best to choose what you want to be and stick with it. This is because as you progress down one of the moral pathways you gain new units, skills and general perks depending upon your choices. Being give more than just the 'good' and 'bad' choices adds a little more than usual to a moral choice system. However, it is sometimes necessary the you switch you're choices depending upon the situation. I both love and hate this. Firstly I find it annoying because when I'm close to unlocking a cool Old Faith unit I don't want to need to choose a Christian option to gain a cool item at the end of a quest. I do, however, love that it makes the world less black and white that sometimes it is necessary to compromise.

The RTS battles in King Arthur are what the game is all about. Pitting your legion against another. This is not always so easy though. For all the great ideas in this game there are so many bugs and bad gameplay choices. For starters, the user interface during RTS battles is so big that sometimes my units die because I can't see they are bring attacked. Another thing that really irritates me in the heat of battle is that I find it really hard to move the camera around. Zooming in and out of the action is a right pain. Sometimes it works and others it doesn't and his really breaks up the flow of the battle or gets me kill because I'm too busy fighting with the camera and not the undead hordes.

King Arthur has other strange choices. I don't understand why, for example, I have to hover over things for such a long time to know what they are and what they do. If trying to figure out the game for the first time this is not only very time consuming but a pain since it isn't always clear when it is going to show you the information.

On the whole I would say that King Arthur is a very good strategy game with RPG elements that actually enrich the gameplay. However, it has a number of questionable designs and bugs that frustrate and make the game harder to play. I would say that this is a game worth playing but be aware of some parts that are going to annoy you. However, don't let this minor blemishes put you off a well crafted and highly enjoyable strategy game.

Score - 83/100

General Information

Game Name - King Arthur - The Collection
Developer - Neocore Games
Genre - Strategy
Release Date -
Bundle -

Monday, 18 March 2013

Hammerfight Review

Hammerfight is like conkers with steam punk flying crafts that have metal balls attached to the bottom. You control your machine by rotating the mouse in a circle and use centripetal force to hit the opponent. With a hefty solo campaign and multiplayer, with Xbox controller connectivity, the quirky game has a lot of usual things to offer.

I remember when I first played Hammerfight, I was thoroughly confused. I remember thinking "So I hit the other guy with the ball thingy?" and did rather poorly at it. After a few games to practice my skills (most of which I lost), I got used to the controls and the timing needed to land a good strike. This is definitely one of those games you need to learn to play and actually read the tutorial to do well. That is something I don't normally do, but simply pick up the game on the fly. This is by no means a bad thing and really makes you feel like you go through a journey from being a rubbish nobody to being an expert superstar.

The basic plot of Hammerfight is that you are the last surving member of a tribe called the 'Gaiars', a tribe that has survived by fighting a race of insects. However, after your tribes destruction you meet a family friend who helps you plot the downfall of the Emperor who killed off your people. You do this through gladiator-esque area fights as you claw your way to the top. Overall the plot is enough motivation to get you through the story mode.

As you progress you unlock a variety of new weapons both melee and ranged. This expands the gameplay. With the addition of local multiplayer where you can bash a friend, Hammerfight has a good range of things to offer. Even if those things are a little strange and can leave you going, "What!?". The art and usual game play and use of physics make for a unique gaming experience and this is something I don't get to say very often.

I must admit I really enjoyed Hammerfight despite its tricky controls and sometimes strange collison physics. I especially enjoyed the multiplayer as the story mode is a bit hit and miss. Overall I would recommend this quirky indie area fighter with many twists.

Score - 75/100

General Information 

Game Name - Hammerfight

Developer - KranX Productions
Genre - Action
Release Date - 19 Sep 2009
Bundle - Humble Bundle

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Super Tower Rush Review

Super Tower Rush is the latest indie game to grace the shelves of Indie Game Stand. In Super Tower Rush you race a friend to the bottom of a big tower while avoiding traps and using special powers to give yourself the advantage. The winner is the one that reaches the bottom first. The game is still under development but is really a great local multiplayer game.

With lots of features still to come including online multiplayer and a tutorial you can forgive the developers for letting you be so confused about a few things. Firstly I knows it is good to pick up powers and make them better (or make my opponents worse) by spending the coins I have collected but I am a little fuzzy on what they actually do sometimes. Admittedly after playing a while you figure it out and it doesn't take away from the overall mayhem that is reaching the bottom of the tower and can in fact add to it at times.

There are a range of characters to choose from and each look very different and as this is an Alpha I expect more to come. I would like character specific powers and I'm sure the Super Tower Rush Team will have added tonnes by the time they make a full release.

Despite only being in an Alpha state, Super Tower Rush is fantastic fun and really does hearken back to days where local multiplayer was common place and I am looking forward to further updates from them.

Score: 75/100

General Information
Game Name - Super Tower Rush

Developer - Super Tower Rush Team
Genre - Platformer
Release Date - Still in Alpha
Bundle - Indie Game Stand

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