Cuphead

Cuphead

  There are a lot of my friends who, regardless of how large their Steam/Xbox/Playstation libraries are, always return to their classic gaming systems because they like a challenge. Old games like Contra which are known for their brutal difficulty, rewarded memorizing enemy patterns and level layouts and that had a really pleasing sensation when you finally beat the next level or boss. While there are games that are difficult these days (to the point where Souls-like is starting to describe games that are “hard like dark souls”), nothing felt like those old retro games in terms of difficulty. Enter Cuphead.   Before getting into what Cuphead is and what you’ll be doing, I need to talk about the design. The visuals and audio are some of the most polished and well researched that I’ve ever come across. As someone who grew up wanting to be a Disney animator, their use of Fleischer era ‘rubber hose’ animation is incredible and the sounds and soundtrack are equally amazing. If only for the audio visual experience, watch someone play Cuphead.   Cuphead is a punishingly difficult game. Even beating the very first stage will likely take you multiple attempts. In fact the design of the game is that you shouldn’t go into a level or boss battle expecting to beat it, but instead expecting to learn. How to learn patterns, layouts and timing. It will take a good amount of learning until you feel comfortable enough taking a proper run at beating the stage and when you do, it feels amazing.   As far as the story goes, Cuphead and his...
Rock of Ages 2: Bigger and Boulder

Rock of Ages 2: Bigger and Boulder

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of playing a game called Rock of Ages. I had owned it for a very long time but had never played beyond a few levels because I had found it fun but I wanted to commit to it. When I did complete the game, which was very fun, I was surprised to find that a sequel was being released shortly. Fast forward to the end of August, and it’s finally here! If you’re familiar with the first game and looking for the short review here it is: go play this game. It’s everything the first one is, but better. For those wanting a bit more, read on!   Rock of Ages 2 (and the original) are games where you roll a giant boulder into the door of your opponents castle, trying to break it down. These rocks take time to carve, and so you’ll spend the time between by building structures to protect your door. Things like giant walls, cannons and hot air balloon bears. Yes, bears suspended from balloons are a thing and give a short glimpse into how weird the game can be. All the art assets are using classic works of art, cut into “paper dolls” so they can be animated. The levels are all inspired by various forms of artwork from Dali to Van Gogh and while you roll around classic pieces of music play along side. The entire thing feels like a Monty Python animation and it helps since the game has a very similar sense of humor.   To keep things fresh, the game also has...
Subsurface Circular

Subsurface Circular

A noir story on a train Subsurface Circular puts you into the mind of a detective robot in a world you can only glean about by investigating robot passengers on a train. What sounds like an excellent concept for a game could turn out being very hard. For example, the game could be too linear, being more of a book because the developers didn’t have the skill/time to implement a world but are so proud of it then over inform you or force you to do the old “rub every noun against every source of information until the game is beat” type gameplay. SC ignores both options and forges ahead, writing a tale worthy of Asimov but giving you characters you care about and a narrative filled with choices. That’s a mouthful. If it’s a game, how’s it look and sound? While sound is minimal, it’s well implemented. From the train calling out your stations to the ambient noise, there’s plenty of sound going on. Graphically the game isn’t anything you’ll call home about. The simple meshes work well for the visuals provided, but the texture resolution and lighting won’t have you pulling the game out as a benchmark. Nor should it, given the relatively low price point for entertainment value. The game runs about 2 hours per playthrough and as far as I can tell has three endings to get you to that amount of playtime. So it’s good then? This game is excellent in terms of narrative and one that I highly recommend for anyone even slightly interested. The mood and tone are set early on and...
Blobcat

Blobcat

Great name, what’s it about? At first glance, you’re looking at a puzzle game where you’re a mouse trying to get around cats and end up in your mouse hole. At second glance that’s exactly what this game is and it does that very very well. You’re going to end up placing arrows, which both mice (yes, plural) and cats will follow. Watch the patterns they walk, figure out where to place the arrows and collect your points. Cute. Is it good? By my estimation, it’s VERY good. The quick gameplay is well suited to the puzzles presented. Each puzzle can be beat using all resources, but that will end up getting you a single star per stage. Since later stages are unlocked via stars, you’re going to want to try and use as few resources as possible to get two and three stars per puzzle. Something worth noting: I was never ever once frusterated while playing. There was no puzzle that needed me to look up help but the game was consistent in the challenges presented. Stars? That kinda sounds like a mobile game! Astute. It is a mobile game, and this is the steam version. I enjoyed playing on Steam but afterwards checked out the touchscreen version. They’re basically identical but much like mini-metro the game is retooled for PC controls. Do not let the mobile origin stop you from playing a great puzzle game. Anything else I should know? Yes, one. The game is quite short. I blazed through the first four stages in around 40 minutes. The whole game is only 100 stages and the...
This Strange Realm Of Mine

This Strange Realm Of Mine

Best described as a first person afterlife game, [i]This Strange Realm Of Mine[/i] feels discomforting. The sound and art, blending video game and poetry. It’s all wonderfully invasive upon the senses, and I suppose that was the artistic intent of the game. Wait, afterlife simulator? What the heck? That’s right. The game begins with you making a character, and then being told you died. How did you die? Not important. What is important is that you find yourself in Limbo. Not the biblical one, or at least not as far as I could tell, but one where your spirit comes as a crossroads. Inside Limbo, you’ll find a guide who leads you through several adventures. Completing each one leads you back to Limbo. Ok, that’s weird. But let’s say I’m interested, now what? Well good question. This is a linear game, that has you performing acts in first person. And while you’ll utilize a gun in a lot of the game there is quite a bit of variety apart from shooting things. And all of it is wrapped in poetry and metaphors. It’s quirky but it lacks any of the ‘high art’ that sometime plagues these games. Often, philosophical indie games tend to focus on the art and less on the game. TSROM feels like a good balance point between the two. Well if it’s a game, tell me about the gamey parts.  The game is made on Unity3d and that’s neither to it’s benefit or detriment. I felt the physics were very “default” but there were enough restrictions on movement I couldn’t initiate common Unity glitches. The graphics...