Sunday, 28 July 2013

Dead Pixels Review

Dead Pixels by CSR-Studios is a zombie game, and I know what you are thinking “Not another one…”. Well yes, but this one is actually pretty good. Containing character upgrades, tonnes of weapons, pickups and houses to loot along the way, Dead Pixels takes all the good elements about a zombie game and streamlines them. No more long winded stories with tedious moral consequences, just point, shoot and perhaps throw a grenade every now and again. Take all this and grab an unsuspecting friend for local co-op and you have something that is loads of fun.

Dead Pixels loose story line is not going to win any awards, but it works for an excuse to shoot your way through hordes of zombies.  As we so often do in zombie games, we find ourselves in a city looking to get out alive. As we progress down each street there are houses ransack and other survivors to trade with. Also, everybody knows zombies walk around with loads of cash in their dead pockets, so along the way you might as well liberate them of this unnecessary baggage and buy yourself some fireworks or ten shots of adrenaline. The end of the world can make you quite rich, shame about that whole apocalypse thing and all.

Gameplay is what Dead Pixels boils down to. Run shoot, run some more, shoot again, become over encumbered, try and run but be unable to, run out of ammo and have to poke your way out of fights, get swarmed by the undead, see your partner die and become zombie who then starts to chase you, eventually decide “Hell with this”, dump all your excess weight and dash between all the zombies like you are in a downhill slalom race. Finally, breathe. All of this in a single street. As you have probably guessed, Dead Pixels can be very fast paced and frantic. However it does have a deep level of strategy to it. Managing your weapon ammo and deciding what to buy and sell to a trader adds an unexpected depth to the game. Ammo can be scarce and shops appear erratically, or sometime not at all. With each shop having a different selection of goods and varying prices, knowing when you are getting a bargain is important. However, you don't always have that luxury, what with all those undead folk and everything milling about outside.

Dead Pixels looks and sounds great. There is a wide range of zombie models, along with loads of different types of zombies from spitters to guys who run at you. Dead Pixels really does feel like an entire city, with its vast range of people, has turned on you. While the shops and houses are repeated level after level, I personally feel this adds to the feeling that the road out of the city is never-ending. Dead Pixels soundtrack compliments the game perfectly. It has a great rock/metal soundtrack with some brilliant guitaring throughout. I always think a game with a cleverly built and executed soundtrack is far more enjoyable to play because of it. This is a soundtrack I would buy and listen to separately from the game.

Dead Pixels has two additional game modes on top of the standard escape the city mode. The Solution allows you to choose a character from a list of convicted criminals who each have their own specific stats. The objective for this game mode is to trigger a catastrophic overload in the cities power plant and escape so you get pardoned of whatever crime you committed. With no shops or other survivors to interact with you are simply intent on your target of the power plant and escaping in one piece.  However, you do have the ability to spend the money earned from zombie kills still by using one of the 4 radios given to you at the start of the game. So you can really save up and buy some of the game’s biggest and most devastating guns to smash your way to the power plant and back out again. The other game mode is called The Last Stand and it is your run of the mill survival and time trail mode. No great leap from this mode, but it is a nice addition to two already great game modes.

This is a zombie game to be remembered. It is loads of fun, with plenty of weapons, upgrades and zombies, local co-op, 3 different game modes and 5 difficulties to test you on. Dead Pixel is something I will definitely come back to again and again.  

Gameplay – 5/5
Graphics – 4/5
Enjoyability – 5/5
Soundtrack - 5/5
Story – 3/5
Overall – 4/5

Right, now that you have heard my opinion on the matter why not go down to the comments section and give me yours. :)

General Information

Game Name - Dead Pixels
Developer - CSR-Studios
Genre - Action, Adventure

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Knytt Underground Review

Knytt Underground is an exploration platformer. You play as Mi, a young lady who has gone spelunking. There have been two previous games in the Knytt series. However, you do not need to have played them to enjoy exploring the vast caverns in Knytt Underground. Packed with quests, puzzles and a whopping 1,800 rooms can Knytt Underground dig its way to gaming glory?

Let’s start with story. I have no idea what is going on it Knytt Underground. I go and find some fairies. Do some quests, including finding candlesticks along the way. All while enjoying a lush underground environment and highly enjoyable and responsive platforming. So what if this isn't a game with a winning storyline. It is a game about exploring a complex area of caves and enjoying an adventure to discover what is in the next room. What it boils down it is a Metroidvania game without all that pesky combat. You can simply enjoy exploring for explorations sake.

Knytt Underground has some of the smoothest and most responsive platforming I have encountered in a long time. Usually precision jumping is out of the question, instead just end up diving headlong towards your goal and hoping for the best. Not Knytt Underground. Along with graceful jumps, Mi can also climb up most straight surfaces. This is an important element of the game as without her ability to climb, you would not get very far. There is a rudimentary tutorial that introduces some of Knytt Undergrounds features, but not all of them. Throughout your adventure you will come across these glowing orbs. Each of these gives Mi a specific power-up. These range from turning Mi into a little orb so you can fly across an area or makes and explosion to help you jump higher. No matter what the power-up is, it really changes up the gameplay and shapes Knytt Underground into a unique and unpredictable game.

Graphically Knytt Underground looks great. The environments are wonder, if a little dark at times, but then what did I expect from a game set in a series of caves. Using the various power-up looks as great as it feels to use them. Although the character models are a little shaky, they are a null point since your main focus is the massive scope of the game and its hundreds of rooms to explore.

Unfortunately Kyntt Underground does have some poor qualities. The quest system is just a basic delivery job. Find A and bring it to B. However, you do get to enjoy all of Knytt Underground's other features during each quest. The other bit about quests that could use improvement are the rewards. Now, I am not being greedy or anything, but after collect several random items for a stranger I usually expect something shiny out of the deal. In Knytt Underground all you get is the satisfaction of a job well done and to be able to access a new area. So it can feel you aren’t really progressing even when you are. Now we come to the issue of save points. Why are they so well hidden and infrequent? It isn’t like you need to make sure you don’t die, because all dying does is respawn you back where you were previously. So I don’t understand why the save points are not just a bit more often, it makes playing the game for shorter periods of time difficult – this is something that could be improved upon to expand the potential market for this game. Nifflas Games if you are reading please make some change to this. You need to have more frequent save points, otherwise you end up like me wandering around in search of one for the better part of 20 minutes and that’s no good. 

Backtracking is another element that could have been reduced. While there are a lot of rooms, it seems there are a lot of wasted rooms. There a great deal of rooms with very little in and it seems that the game could have exploited this and had more plaforming elements.  However, there are enough rooms to challenge your skills.

On the whole Knytt Underground is a brilliant exploration platformer with a fantasic physics engine. However, it could be improved by having more frequent and less hidden save points and a more rewarding quest system. These somewhat minor complaints are overshadowed by a well crafted plaformer and highly enjoyable game.

Gameplay – 5/5
Graphics – 4/5
Enjoyability – 4/5
Story – 2/5
Overall – 4/5

General Information

Game Name - Knytt Underground
Developer - Nifflas' Games
Genre - Platformer, Adventure


Sunday, 14 July 2013

Dwarf Quest Review

Dwarf Quest is a dungeon crawler with a turn-based combat system. Playing as Morrin Firebeard you could not have a more classic Dwarven name. Using a simple, but effective system Dwarf Quest pits our hero against monsters, traps and bosses throughout his journey. While Dwarf Quest harkens back to old school dungeon crawlers can it stand up in modern times?

First off, Dwarf Quest is not a game with a grand story. It is, however, one with a loose story that gives you a bit of background. You are playing as Morrin Firebeard as he journeys through The Foundry on this year’s tournament. Along the way poor Morrin discovers nothing, but various creatures with pointy weapons and the corpses of his friends. The reasoning behind this brutal tournament beyond me, but it works for the premise of the game.

Dwarf Quest's graphic are not the most polished. However, the enemy models are quite detailed and varying. I like to think it was the developer’s choice in making the rooms look very similar in order to enhance the feeling of being a lost in a dungeon. If this is the case it is executed perfectly. Even with the ability to see where I had been previously, Hansel and Gretel style, I still felt a bit lost at times. Atmospheric would be a good word to describe Dwarf Quest's graphics, if a little uninteresting at times.


Combat in Dwarf Quest is turn-based. Each action performed uses up one of the dots above each characters head. These actions include: moving, attacking, blocking and using health potions, but not battle cards. Blocking makes shields appear above Morrin’s head equal to the number of dots he had left and reduces the amount of damage he takes. The same is true for his enemies. The real strategy comes from utilising blocking, attacking and moving to the best of your advantage. Certain encounters are trickier than others forcing you to alter your tactics.

Throughout Morrin’s journey he finds a range of items. These span from your ordinary health potions and treasure chest keys, to battle cards. Battle cards buff Morrin’s abilities in a range of ways. They can fully heal him instantly or make his next attack really pack a punch. They can really make a difference in Dwarf Quests more difficult battles and especially in both boss battles. Using a battle card can really turn the tide in Morrin’s favour and should be used accordingly. You find them frequently in crates and chests and even though there is a shop to buy them in, you rarely need to.

Now, onto the shop. What would you normally expect a shop in a dungeon to like? Well, whatever you were expecting I bet you were not counting on it being a coffin. The first few times I saw it did not even realise it was a shop and passed it up wondering "What am I meant to do with all this gold?”. Anyway confusing store managers aside the battle cards can be a tad overpowered, but they can also really make a difference in a tough fight so be sure to stock up.

Now we come to the issue of balance. Dwarf Quest is, unfortunately, riddled with these. Firstly, at the beginning of the game blocking means you take no damage. So it is easy enough from this horde all the health potions in case you need one - which isn't very often to begin with. However, once you progress far enough, finding a shield and another axe, blocking becomes less viable. So you would assume equip the shield, do a bit less damage, but stay alive easier. Wrong. By this stage unless you have two axes equipped the enemies will not take any damage. Puzzler, no? We it goes on. Even with enemies being able to hurt you through your guard they rarely pose much of a threat. this is due to the ample numbers of health potions and battle cards you find. However, in spite of all this Dwarf Quest is highly addictive. I simply could not stop playing even though I found myself complaining about all these balance issues. When it comes down to it, Dwarf Quest is a highly enjoyable dungeon crawler with an interesting combat system. Would I have like some things to be a bit more polished and balanced? Yes. However, with a second one on the works maybe these will be addressed. 

I would say that Dwarf Quest is worth a play. It is a fresh dungeon crawling experience and is unlike many other games today. I am definitely looking forward to the second one.


 - Gamplay 4/5

 - Graphics 3/5

 - Story 2/5

 - Enjoyability and Addictiveness 4/5

Overall 3/5

General Information

Game Name - Dwarf Quest
Developer - Wild Card Games
Genre - Action, Adventure