My Week Unwrapped: October 16, 2018 – ELOH, Grimvalor, Piffle, KLAC, Dr. Schplot’s Nanobots, SMASH PUCK, Galerider and More

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Hi everyone, and welcome to an extra long installment of My Week Unwrapped, where I discuss all the games I’ve been playing over the last week. Due to the colossal joke that is American healthcare, I was too busy last week to get my roundup done in time, so today you get a double whammy. There’s a ton to cover, so let’s not waste any more time!

ELOH

A couple of weeks before release, Broken Rules surprised me with the announcement and a copy of of the latest game they were publishing, called ELOH. In case you don’t remember who Broken Rules are, they’re they developers behind Old Man’a Journey. While the team is the publisher here and not the developer, there are some familiar names, such as Lip Comarella behind the artwork and SCNTFC responsible for the sound design. I loved everything about the game except that it ended, so I would highly recommend grabbing it. But if you need more convincing, you can read my full review here. And if you get stuck on any of the puzzles, I have a complete walkthrough guide here.

Grimvalor

I had Grimvalor ahead of release, as well, but I was having a rough time of it, so I kept giving up. I eventually got back into it and progressed to what I believe is the final boss of Act 1, but after several failed attempts, I decided it’s just not going to happen. Action platformers are already difficult for me, but when they have on-screen buttons, I tend to struggle even more. Add the fact that the JUMP button and DASH button feel like they’re in the wrong spots to be and should be swapped, and frustration ensues. I’m disappointed, because I absolutely love the look of the game, and it’s a blast to hack enemies to bits with my giant axe, dash around the place like a speeding bullet, and run up walls like I’m some superhero. But until either some difficulty options are added or more control options, I’m going to have to give up on it. If you’re like me and you have trouble with these fast-paced, reflex-based games, I should mention that you can grind for gold and experience to make it a bit easier. But I’m not sure if that’s enough to get you through the game, as I didn’t try it, seeing it as an unsatisfying way to complete it. I still appreciate that the developers brought such a high quality game to mobile and kept it premium without ads or IAPs. If you’re up to the challenge, definitely check it out, as it’s quite the looker. I also made a beginner’s guide to help anyone who might have missed some less obvious things.

Barbearian

I’ve been playing Barbearian for quite some time now, but still haven’t beaten it. Like Grimvalor, it’s a faster and more hectic game than I usually play, but I absolutely love it to bits. There are difficulty settings, which I’m thankful for, but I’ve not lowered the difficulty level yet because I’m determined to get through it without doing so. In the last couple of weeks, I made a ton of progress, beating the Ancient Mechanism boss and the entire next world. I’m now just having trouble with the fourth boss. I got super close to beating him but got sloppy and died. I’ve not given up, though! I plan to get back to kicking his butt on a quieter week. It helps that the developer recently added iCloud sync, allowing me to switch to iPhone when I need more precision. Anyway, I can’t recommend this game enough. I will eventually write a review when I complete it, but it’s safe to say I’ve gotten tons of hours of enjoyment out of it. I also collected all my gameplay videos here if you want to see more of it.

Dr. Schplot’s Nanobots: Puzzle

I hadn’t heard of Dr. Schplot’s Nanobots before (wow that’s a mouthful), but I couldn’t resist a premium IAP-free match-three game that only costs $0.99. It actually is a match-four, at least so far. Unlike other games in the genre, you always have to match exactly four pieces. The starting and end points have to match, but the others don’t. Obviously, you deal more damage if all four pieces are the same. But you’re on a timer, so the most important thing is to just keep matching as fast as you can. I love the humor and the art style, and I can’t resist a a game that gives me a monster named after my favorite apple on the planet, honeycrisp! I haven’t played that much yet, but it does feel fresh. I’m just worried that the free gifts and other aspects are remnants of what might have been a free-to-play game and that it might one day go F2P with IAPs and ads. But for now, I’m going to enjoy this charming game for what it is.

Black

Bart Bonte has made several puzzle games so far named after colors. The latest is Black, and it’s been out for a few weeks now. I haven’t finished it, but have enjoyed what I played so far. It has super generous monetization, as it’s completely free with opt-in ads for hints. So give it a try if you’re looking for a new puzzle game and are strapped for cash.

Piffle

Having played the very streamlined and polished holedown, I was a little wary of playing an IAP-filled free game with a similar idea. But Hipster Whale is the developer behind Crossy Road, so I have Piffle a chance. I also can’t really resist cute little fluffy cats. Unfortunately, it feels a little too pay-to-play to me. You only have five lives, and if you run out you have to wait or buy more. The craziest part is that it seems that even a purchase of $99.99 only gets you twenty-four hours of unlimited lives. It doesn’t remove the lives restriction permanently. Add to that all the power-ups you can buy, as well as forced ads between levels, and I was turned off pretty quickly. It’s a shame that after making millions off a fair business model with Crossy Road, they decided to release something as predatory as this. If you want to give it a try, go ahead, but I think there are better games out there that won’t nickel-and-dime you or punish you for needing to try a level again.

KLAC

KLAC is a hard game to explain. It’s also very short, consisting of only ten levels. Granted, each one is difficult, but it’s still surprising that the game is so short. I did enjoy my time with it, but I felt it could have maybe used some better learning through play. When a new rule or mechanic was added, I felt like the hints were solving the puzzle for me instead of teaching me how to do it for myself. But without them, I don’t know that I would have ever picked up on the different rules on my own. I’m curious to see where the game will go with the updates the developer is already working on, but I’m hesitant to recommend it in its current state. If you’re stuck, though, I have a walkthrough guide here.

Skyward Journey

If you told me that Dan Vogt, the developer of skill-based DATA WING, would make a super relaxed game similar to Gathering Sky, I wouldn’t have believed you. Once again, the game is oddly completely free with no ads or IAPs. And this one is pretty melancholy. You simply swipe your finger around the screen to create air currents that pull the birds in that direction. The goal is to get the birds to fly at sad people sitting on islands. When the birds touch them, their spirits are lifted and they smile. Some people are more miserable than others and require more birds to cheer them up. At the end of the game, you’re shown anonymous regrets from real people who sent them to Dan on Twitter. It can be a bit depressing, but perhaps also comforting somehow. In any case, it’s free, so no harm no fowl (ha ha) if you regret downloading it.

SMASH PUCK

Admittedly, I’m not that great at pool or golf, either the physical games or digital. That includes different iterations of either, but the gist of it is that I suck at getting balls into holes. Semidome’s SMASH PUCK, to its credit, features short levels with very direct goals. Mechanics are mixed up constantly and you have a very specific number of pucks you can use in each level. This keeps things focused and moving smoothly even when you mess up and have to restart a level. If you like these types of games, this one seems very well made. On a quieter week, I may have spent more time with it, but there are too many games fighting for my attention at the moment. Still, check out my video to see what it’s like and whether you might enjoy it.

Galerider

I somehow missed Galerider when it released about a week ago, and when I noticed it, I just had to have it. It’s an auto-runner using Unreal graphics that look like they belong in the word of Infinity Blade. And you ride a dragon. As a dragon fanatic, I had to take a chance on it, as it’s basically the kind of game I’ve always wanted — flying a realistic dragon through the air and not having to worry about ads or IAPs getting in the way. Things started off pretty promising, and I was loving the dragons rolls when you change lanes. I also was glad to see it had touch controls instead of on-screen buttons. Unfortunately, things got a little too hectic ready in the second level. Besides swiping not always working, I found it too difficult to aim my reticule on enemies while also focusing on flying. There was just too much going on and I felt overwhelmed by the time I got to the boss of that level. I didn’t even bother trying again because I just couldn’t see ever getting used to those controls. I would love to see the controls simplified so I can enjoy it, but in its current state I don’t see picking it up ever again. It’s a shame, because the game looks great and I’ve been aching for something like this for ages.

4Pillars

I was really looking forward to 4Pillars, both because of its art style and the fact that it was completely free, no strings attached. But once I started playing, I could see why. It feels very clunky. Considering it came out around the same time as Grimvalor, there wasn’t anything that would convince me to give it a chance. But it’s free, so if you want to see for yourself, go ahead.

Murder in the Alps

I’m not a big fan of hidden object games, but I liked the whole presentation of Murder in the Alps and I decided to give t a chance. It has voice acting, a murder mystery, and appealing artwork. At first, when the game gives a lot of free energy, it keeps up a pretty brisk pace. But I didn’t realize that every time I picked up an item in a hidden object scene it deducted five energy from my total. When I ran out of energy, I was unable to pick up an object unless I forked over some real cash. That’s where I deleted the game. I’ve seen some awful monetization schemes, but this one takes the cake. Again, go ahead and try it if you must, but don’t expect to make progress at a reasonable pace without spending a fortune on energy.

Max – The Curse of Brotherhood

This is actually releasing later this week, but I got it ahead of time and thought I’d share some video. It’s a hectic week with some strong releases, so I won’t time to finish it or review it in time for release. But I appreciate how generous the game is with checkpoints and that it doesn’t punish you much for dying. It’s ported over from consoles and feels pretty good so far on a touchscreen due to its simple control scheme. If you’re looking for a new puzzle platformer to sink your teeth into, Max – The Curse of Brotherhood might be just what you need. You can also pre-order it now and save 20% off the full price.

Reigns: Game of Thrones

And last, I’ve been playing the upcoming Reigns: Game of Thrones ahead of release. I’m not allowed to say much about it yet, but I will say that if you’re chomping at the bit for more Reigns or are a big fan of the show, you’re going to want to grab this one. Like the previous games, I completed the main game without too much difficulty, but I’m still working on the meta game, which you’ve most likely guessed there would be. Each Reigns game has cryptic stuff to decipher, and this one is no different. I’m also still working on completing all the objectives and finding all the deaths. There’s a lot here to like, but I’ll tell you more with my review when the game releases. You can also pre-order it now if you want to make sure it gets downloaded right when it’s available.

Whew! I’m out of breath. I think I need to relax now with some more Haunting of Hill House, which I’m thoroughly enjoying while at the same time being annoyed they didn’t just name it something else. If you ever read the book, you’re probably as puzzled as I am about that, and if you didn’t, you definitely should read it, but don’t expect it to be anything like the show. Anyway, I’ll be back next week with more of My Week Unwrapped. Until then, let me know in the comments section what you’re playing. Or watching. That’s fine, too!

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