The Count Lucanor Review (Cubed3)

lucanor_poster_02Developer: Baroque Decay
Publisher: Baroque Decay
Played on: PC
Release Date: March 3, 2016
Time Played (Steam): 4.5 hours
Played with: Mouse & Keyboard
Paid: $0 (Key provided for review)

Pulling off good horror with pixel art is difficult. Titles like Lone Survivor come to mind as somewhat recent examples of pixelated horror done right, but such games are far from the household names that Outlast, Amnesia, and even Slender have become. Part of the reason for that may be that it’s difficult to properly set up jump scares when playing from what is generally a pulled-out, third-person view; giving the player so much vision can undercut the effectiveness of such surprises. To combat this, many “bit horror” games choose the same tactic chosen by The Count Lucanor: the horror comes from the imagery and circumstances rather than their sudden presentation.

Read the full review here [Cubed3]

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]

Slayaway Camp Review (Cubed3)

SlayawaySky_1920x1080Developer: Blue Wizard Digital
Publisher: Blue Wizard Digital
Played on: PC
Release Date: October 25, 2016
Time Played (Steam): 3.9 hours
Played with: Mouse & Keyboard
Paid: $0 (Free giveaway)

Video games have explored countless horror film tropes over the years: abandoned hospitals, possessed toys, and ghoulish monsters, just to name a few. Such games have, for the most part, taken themselves completely seriously, sometimes to their detriment. There’s been a drought of games that capture the spirit of schlocky, B-movie slasher films like The Evil Dead and Grindhouse. Slayaway Camp aims to fill this void with an interesting combination: the typically fast-paced thrills of the genre mixed with the methodical pacing of a puzzle game.

Read the full review here [Cubed3]


Standing Still to Move Forward

384190_20170304205607_1“Beware the barrenness of a busy life” is a quote that appeared on my new browser tab this evening.  In a way, it’s appropriate.  Here I am at 10 PM, realizing that I have no games ready to review, and homework that I should really be working on instead of fixing that.  The insanity of the last week has left me feeling at loose ends this weekend, despite knowing full well that I have work to do.  Maybe it’s warranted, though.  Multiple 1-2 AM nights, one 3:30 AM night (is it even considered night at that point?), and probably something like five litres of hot chocolate.  Thinking back, I barely know where half the time went.  There were frustrating university assignments, final classes that seemed to last for an eternity, and the joys of crunch time on a video game development project.  Yet it’s all just a blur.

On the other hand, I feel motivated.  I know that I’ll never truly stop being busy, yet it seems like the worst may be over for the time being.  Coming out of last week, I’ve realized that, aside from three exams and presenting the aforementioned video game, I have very little on my plate, at least from a school standpoint.  In its place is something that I find far more exciting. Continue reading

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons Review

225080_20170314210219_1Developer: Starbreeze Studios AB
Publisher: 505 Games
Played on: PC
Release Date: September 3, 2013
Time Played (Steam): 3.1 hours
Played with: Xbox 360 Controller
Paid: $4.49

As a storytelling medium, video games are something of a double-edged sword.  On the one hand, their interactive nature has the ability to create far more visceral and engaging experiences for players.  However, this also brings with it some inherent drawbacks.  Budgets need to be allocated not just to production design, but also to programming, QA, and more.  Bugs and glitches may spontaneously occur, sucking up massive amounts of time and energy.  I bring up this comparison, because Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons stands as a prime example of both.  It is hampered in many areas by the restrictions of the medium, with bugs, technical problems, and gameplay issues taking me out of the experience on a number of occasions.  Despite this, it manages to feel like a near-perfect pairing of story and gameplay, where each is able to complement and enhance the other. Continue reading

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

So Many Me Review

260530_20170124204728_1Developer: Extend Studio
Publisher: ORiGO GAMES
Played on: PC
Release Date: July 17, 2014
Time Played (Steam): 8.5 hours
Played With: Steam Controller
Paid: $8.49

Appearances can be deceiving, and this is certainly the case with So Many Me.  Despite its cartoonish appearance and cast of cute and cuddly characters, what lies beneath the surface is a truly difficult, occasionally maddening puzzle-platformer.  As an adorable green jelly blob named Filo, you suddenly find yourself in a world requiring saving; you know how these things go.  Luckily, he quickly comes across a small green egg that hatches into a duplicate of him.  Discovering that the clone mimics his every move, Filo sets out on his journey, discovering new clones (the “Me”), interesting powers, and an assortment of enemies along the way. Continue reading