The Long Journey Home Review (Cubed3)

imageDeveloper: Daedalic Studio West
Publisher: Daedalic Entertainment
Played on: PC
Release Date: May 30, 2017
Time Played (Steam): 15.1 hours
Played with: Steam Controller
Paid: $0 (Key provided for review)

Randomness in games is an excellent method of promoting custom story generation. The fact that nearly everyone will have an experience that is at least marginally unique means that there’s always something new and interesting to talk about that many players may have never seen or heard of. That’s the goal with The Long Journey Home, a rogue-lite space game that channels FTL: Faster Than Light and No Man’s Sky into a challenging, galaxy-trotting, survival experience.

Read the full review here.

Block’hood: The Environmentally-Conscious City Builder (GameSpew)

416210_20170529225518_1.pngDeveloper: Plethora-Project LLC
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Played on: PC
Release Date: May 10, 2017
Time Played (Steam): 5.3 hours
Played with: Mouse & Keyboard
Paid: $0 (Key provided for review)

I found Block’hood to be deeply unsettling.

Now, that’s something of an odd emotion to feel when playing a cheery, colourful city-builder, no? With its intricately detailed cities (known as “‘Hoods”) that can consist of dozens of structures carefully stacked on one another, it seems like a lovingly optimistic view of the future. Catwalks criss-cross between constructs, providing elevated walkways to navigate the vertical landscape. Glasses clink in bars, internet cafes emit bleeps and whirs, and clothing stores sell the trendiest fashions to citizens. It’s a veritable utopia.

Suddenly, things collapse. Businesses fall into disrepair. Apartments cave in and lose all sense of life. Protesters line the streets as black clouds swirl in the sky. The veil is lifted, and the weight of everything you’ve done comes crashing down with the city you worked so hard to build. The clothes in those stores were manufactured in sweatshops around the corner, which in turn received their supplies from pollution-producing cotton fields. The internet cafes distributed electronics that were made with plastic, and therefore, oil. The apartments were constructed on the graves of trees, driving out assorted wildlife in the process.

Read the full article here [GameSpew]

 

Bokida: Heartfelt Reunion Review (Cubed3)

612740_20170518193321_1.pngDeveloper: Rice Cooker Republic
Publisher: Rice Cooker Republic
Played on: PC
Release Date: May 17, 2017
Time Played (Steam): 3.7 hours
Played with: Mouse & Keyboard
Paid: $0 (Key provided for review)

So many games focus on conflict. Light versus dark. Good versus evil. Bokida: Heartfelt Reunion, though, takes a different approach, with the nameless protagonist working towards the unification of the yin and the yang. For too long, the two have been separated, but it is time for them to be reunited once more.

Read the full review here [Cubed3]

Refunct Review

406150_20170319205821_1Developer: Dominique Grieshofer
Publisher: Dominique Grieshofer
Played on: PC
Release Date: October 16, 2015
Time Played (Steam): 25 minutes
Played with: Mouse & Keyboard
Paid: $1.64

Generally, when one game adapts ideas from another, it will expand on them. It will add variations and extra wrinkles to the gameplay that were impossible when the original game came out. Sometimes, it will even throw in entirely new ideas that profoundly change the way the core mechanics work. I therefore find it interesting to see a game like Refunct, which seems to draw inspiration from an assortment of free-running games, but particularly Mirror’s Edge. Now, Mirror’s Edge is a game that I played through quite a while ago, but I remember that some of my biggest problems with it were just how big it was. The levels were large and complex, often requiring complex sequences of actions to traverse effectively. There was a lengthy story mode, which meant that some missions felt padded with unnecessary combat sections and other irritating set pieces. It was a good game at its core, but there was just too much of it. Then there’s Refunct, which strips away all the complexity and leaves only the bare necessities. While this scaled-back approach may seem counterproductive at first, I feel that it actually elevates Refunct to be a far more enjoyable experience. Continue reading

ABZÛ Review

384190_20170311221002_1Developer: Giant Squid
Publisher: 505 Games
Played on: PC
Release Date: August 2, 2016
Time Played (Steam): 2.8 hours
Played with: Steam Controller
Paid: $6.59

Full disclosure: it is entirely possible that playing ABZÛ was very much a case of “right place, right time”, where this particular point in my life was the perfect moment for me to experience it.  Certainly, having a pleasant, zen-like gaming experience is not something that I’m opposed to at the moment.  With that out of the way, ABZÛ is one of the most wonderful video game experiences that I have ever had the pleasure of being immersed (heh…heh heh) in. Continue reading