Hi everyone, and welcome back to My Week Unwrapped, where I discuss all the games I’ve been playing over the last seven days. Some astute observers may have noticed that I’m publishing this on a Wednesday instead of a Tuesday. That’s because I spent most of yesterday trying to switch cable companies and Spectrum made it really hard to leave them. By the time I was ready to write my blurbs for each game, I had no energy left, so I decided to push it off a day. But the good news is that I now have 300mbps upload speeds, so my YouTube videos should upload super fast now. I also finally saw Endgame. I know it’s only been out a few days, but some jerks spoiled big details for me, so I wanted to see it ASAP before anything else could be ruined. Don’t worry, I won’t spoil it for you! But jeez, I think you really need to stay offline if you care about spoilers. Anyway, I’m sure you’ve heard enough about my life and there’s a lot of games to cover, so let’s get down to business.
Ordia just released today and I only had it a couple of days early, so I haven’t gotten that far yet. It’s by Loju, the developer of one of my favorite puzzlers, Causality. The controls are similar to those in Spitkiss, but each level is much longer instead of bite-sized and all on one screen. So you control this little blob, and you pull your finger back, then slingshot him onto green dots where he can land. It starts off pretty chill, and might seem like a relaxing game at first. But before long, you’ll start dealing with moving hazards that kill you if you touch them, or enemies that attack you if you don’t get out of their way fast enough. There are walls of sticky substance that you slide down if you stay on them too long. And there are even enemies that chase you for a good long while. You only have one life, but you get sent back to the last checkpoint, so it’s usually not too terrible if you die. That said, I’ve only played through the first seven of thirty levels, and it’s already challenging me a lot. So we’ll see if I have it in me to play through to the end. For those — unlike me — who find it too easy, each level also has a hard mode with no checkpoints and a timed mode where you can compete against others in the leaderboard for the fastest run. The game looks great, too, and has a soothing soundtrack that isn’t distracting. Oh and lest I forget — it has flawless iCloud sync. I find the game slightly cramped on my iPhone, so I appreciate that I can play on my iPad at home and spread out more, but still play on the go. I definitely plan to spend more time with the game over the next few days, so look out for more videos and more impressions.
I really didn’t know much about Tengami developer Nyamyam’s latest game, Astrologaster, but I was still intrigued, especially since their first game was a work of art. Astrologaster is very different in theme, as it’s a musical comedy set in Shakespeare’s London. You play as Simon Forman, who uses astrology to rid himself of the plague and then declares himself a Doctor of Astrology and Physick. He then uses the stars to solve all sorts of problems, even give marriage advice and financial predictions. Each person who visits him for help is introduced through a humorous song that’s sang by a chorus. Theres also some similarities to Tengami, mainly in that you progress through the story by flipping through pages of a pop-up book. It’s not as elaborate as the previous game, but still a nice touch. I’ve only played for about twenty minutes, so I’m still figuring out how things work and whether my choices will affect my character later. I’m definitely sticking with this one, as it’s quirky and weird in all the right ways. I’ll hopefully have a proper review at some point, as well as more videos as I play through the game. If you like comedic narrative games, though, I think you won’t be disappointed with it.
You may remember me gushing endlessly about Dissembler last year, a tricky but super chill puzzler by Ian MacLarty. Well, his new game, Jumpgrid, is pretty much the opposite. It’s fast-paced, tense, and will get your heart pumping. I already wrote up a little preview post, so I don’t want to say too much about it here. But I’ve been enjoying it a lot more than I expected to. I can only play in short bursts, because I get sloppy and my reflexes get tired if I play too long without a break. But the game includes an option to lower the speed, so I may eventually do that if it gets too overwhelming. There’s still the endless mode, which I’ve actually been spending more time on than the campaign mode. Anyway, Jumpgrid doesn’t release until May 9th, but you can pre-order it right now. And if you like twitchy games, you’ll definitely want to do that. But I hope to have a proper review for release, or at least some further impressions.
Zombicide: Tactics & Shotguns
I’ve only played a little of Zombicide, and I have mixed feelings so far. It’s possible it gets more interesting, but from what I played, I found it a bit slow, even though you can skip some animations. It’s basically a turn-based RPG/strategy game in which you need to make your way through hordes of zombies to collect food, weapons, and rescue other survivors before making it to the exit. There are a number of characters to unlock through play, offering some variety, as well as some you can buy through IAPs. I only played through the first few missions, and it wasn’t bad per se, but I also wasn’t really pulled in. It didn’t help that it took me a while to realize that a gun can shoot zombies one tile away. The tutorial made me think I had to be on the same tile as them to attack them. Because of that, I wasted a lot of moves and also got one of my people killed on a mission. Luckily, no one ever seems to die permanently. But in between missions, you can use the food you found to level up your characters and weapons. That’s where the RPG elements come in. I’m not sure how much I’ll stick with the game, as there are others that are holding my attention more. But you can watch some of my gameplay video to see if it’s something you might like.
Sync: Party Hard
I really wanted to love Sync: Party Hard. It has great artwork, a unique concept and a ton of character. The premise is that Hercules threw a wild party and broke everything — and I mean, the entire world! So now he has to put everything back together, one at a time, before his father, Zeus, gets home. The catch is that you do so by using your phone’s accelerometer. As you tilt your phone in different ways, the pieces will move. Sometimes you need to rotate, sometimes you need to just tilt sideways, and sometimes you need to both rotate and tilt all at once. The result is a lot of twisting and turning, to the point that sometimes you might not even have a clear view of your screen while you’re doing it. But the goal is always the same — get the pieces to to meet and form a whole. I enjoyed the game — despite some frustration — for the first ten levels or so. But after a few more levels, I started to get flashbacks of Shadowmatic, which was too picky about the shape you were making and demanded too much perfection. The same is true here. For a game reliant on an imprecise control scheme — tilting — it demands too much from the player. Often, I find I have the pieces lined up, but the game doesn’t accept it and then I mess it up while trying to adjust. I imagine things are only going to get harder, so as much as I like the artwork and idea of the game, I just don’t have enough patience for it. You can watch my gameplay videos to see what it’s like, but you can’t really tell what I’m doing in them, so I’m not sure how helpful they’ll be.
SpellForce – Heroes & Magic
SpellForce is a series that has been out for a while on other platforms, but developer HandyGames just released a new game designed specifically for mobile. It’s a turn-based strategy game and it seems great on the surface. Unfortunately, I spent my first twenty minutes confused about a lot of the mechanics and also wondering why everything is so incredibly slow. It feels like most of my time is spent waiting, not playing. And when the game broke during a battle and wouldn’t let me do anything except rotate the camera, I decided to call it quits. I think there’s something worthwhile here if they can iron out the problems, but until then, there’s too many games I’m actually enjoying playing for me to stick with this one.
I heard of The Unic quite a while back, but I can’t help thinking of a eunuch when I see the name, so I’ve mostly just laughed every time I was contacted about it. Sorry. Still, I wanted to give it a chance in case the game itself is actually fun. After all, I don’t need to like the name of a game to enjoy the game itself. Unfortunately, it’s pretty bland, involving picking out the Unic (read like “unique,” I guess), which is the one pattern that doesn’t have a matching pair. When you do so, another tile will disappear and you have to find the next Unic. And so on, until there are no patterns left. Obviously, this would be too easy if you can take all the time in the world, so each level is on a timer. I believe it’s always randomly generated, so if you like the game you would basically have endless content. But I don’t find it all that interesting. It also didn’t help that half my time playing was spent opening boxes to find more patterns, as well as power-ups. It’s a free game with some IAPs and timers, but I didn’t play long enough to see how they affect the game. Anyway, if you’re curious, it’s free so there’s nothing to lose. But there are far better games out there to spend your time on.
Series: Your Story Universe
I don’t usually bother these free-to-play sort of choose-your-own adventure games like Episode or Chapters. They always look like they’re meant for kids or people into silly romance novels. But I saw Series in the New Games section with hand-drawn versions of the Saved By the Bell cast and even Xena: Warrior Princess! I used to watch both shows, but was a die-hard Xena fan, so I had to check it out. I only played one episode of the Xena story before I lost interest, though. You don’t play as Xena herself or any other well-know character from the show. Instead, you create your own character and follow her story. The character creation was pretty impressive, allowing me to choose the eye style and color, lips, hair, just about every detail. But then I had to choose from three free dresses or pay for one of the outfits that were more fitting for a hero. Anyway, as far as the story goes, I play as a barmaid whose father owns a tavern. I get a vision of Xena telling me I’m the next Warrior Princess, and then some thugs attack the village. Here’s where I completely lost interest, though. It’s a choose-your-own adventure game, but you have to pay for certain choices with real cash. For instance, when give the choice between trying to save a villager or just running and being a coward, running is free but saving him costs 25 gems. The game gives you 50 gems to start with and you basically have to buy any others you want to use. So you can make two “good” choices for free before you have to start paying. So I’m playing a Xena game and I can’t even choose to be a hero without continually forking over cash. Sorry, but as much as I like Xena, I can’t put up with nonsense like that and I refuse to support it. Had they just charged a certain amount for each series and let you play normally, I might have slapped down a couple of bucks to play it. But I refuse to buy consumables or bother with a game that’s build around them. And, quite frankly, it disgusts me that they’re using people’s nostalgia for these shows to leech money from them.
Ailment is out now on Google Play and should be out soon on iOS as well. I have an early copy and spent a little time with it today. It’s a twin stick shooter in which you have to unlock doors in a facility and make your way around, all the while killing zombies in your path. You can open lockers to find med kits, new weapons, and extra ammo. I was actually having a pretty good time with it and could have seen sticking with it for a while. But it’s monetized in a way that essentially breaks the game. You can basically play for free, but if you die you have to start over unless you watch an ad. I don’t see any way to remove the opt-in ads through an IAP, so you’re either stuck watching ads if you get overwhelmed and die, or have to just accept your fate and start over. That’s a broken game to me, as there’s no way to tell if it’s balanced properly or the difficulty ramps up just to push you to watch ads. So I’m just going to delete it and move on. It’s a shame, because there’s an otherwise enjoyable game here.
Senna and the Forest
Dastan Games, the developer of The Light Inside Us, have been working on a new puzzle game inspired by Return of the Obra Dinn. I haven’t played Obra Dinn, so I can’t speak to the similarities between the two games. But I played through Senna and enjoyed it quite a bit. You basically talk to trees and they give you clues to help you figure out the names of other trees. To complete a level, you need to correctly identify all the trees in the forest. It’s not a long game, but it was satisfying to solve the puzzles. Sadly, the release was pushed off, so it won’t be out tomorrow. There’s no set date at the moment, but I’ll definitely let you know when I hear more.
I’m still playing through SteamWorld Quest and working on a proper writeup for it, so I don’t want to say too much here. But I’ve gotten properly sucked in now. I have a few issues with it still, but overall I’ve been having a great time. Hopefully it will make its way over to iOS one day. But until then, it’s good fun if you have a Switch and like RPGs with unique battle systems.
And last, since I now have a Switch, I finally tried Firewatch, since I’ve been wanting to play it for a while now. I like both the mature story and the gorgeous scenery. Unfortunately, I had a bad case of motion sickness after just twenty-five minutes of play. It took me several hours to finally get it out of my system and feel normal again. So I don’t think I’ll be playing any more. I really wish I could, as it seems exactly like my kind of game. But I just can’t risk it.
And that’s everything I’ve been playing this week! I’ll likely have more to say about several of them next week, perhaps even full reviews. But there should be something here for just about anyone. If you do pick up any of these games, let me know what you think in the comments section. And I’ll see you back here next week with more of My Week Unwrapped!