My Week Unwrapped: May 3, 2020 – Kingdom Two Crowns, Samsara Room, Juicy Realm, Deathtrap Dungeon and More

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Hi everyone, and welcome back to My Week Unwrapped, where I discuss all the games I’ve been playing over the last seven days. This was another busy week with a whole bunch of new games to cover. I discovered a new obsession with Kingdom Two Crowns, was impressed by the lengths Rusty Lake goes to for their hidden puzzles, and got engrossed in Deathtrap Dungeon with actor Eddie Marsan narrating my adventure. So get comfortable, as this is a long one.

Kingdom Two Crowns

I loved the look and feel of Kingdom: New Lands back when I played it, but found it too punishing the way you could invest hours into it and then die and lose all your progress. It’s also the kind of game that doesn’t really tell you anything, so you’re meant to either learn as you go or from other people’s experience. I gave it multiple attempts before throwing in the towel and deciding not to give it any more of my time. But that didn’t stop me from looking forward to the sequel, Two Crowns. The title comes from the new co-op campaign you can play with a friend. Due to Coronavirus and social distancing, I can’t get together with a friend to play. But the game also includes a single-player campaign in the same theme as the original, as well as two alternate campaigns with different themes and some small changes, like mounts. One is called Shogun, and it takes place in feudal Japan, allowing you to recruit ninjas instead of pikemen. The other theme stands out even more, as Dead Lands is a crossover with the game Bloodstained. You play as characters from that game and even get different mounts with their own unique powers. You can also unlock characters with special powers, too. Now, I know I complained about the massive time sink of the first game. The same is true here, as I’ve had multiple 2-3 hour sessions now. I’ve started a few different games while I learn the ropes again. But this time I don’t feel so bad about it. That’s because if you die you get reborn as your heir. You get sent back to the first island and lose certain things you unlocked, but you also keep a lot of your progress. So even though I’ve got several games going at the same time and none of them particularly well, I’m still enjoying myself thoroughly. And knowing that death isn’t the end means my time invested wasn’t a complete waste. I know the game is probably a step back and too easy for those who liked the extreme challenge of the original game. But for me, Two Crowns is what I always wanted New Lands to be. I can definitely see playing this over and over trying to improve my strategy and learn from my mistakes without having to start from scratch while I’m still learning the ropes. If you felt the same way I did about New Lands, don’t even hesitate. Just grab Two Crowns. And I’ll hopefully have a proper review once I get through it. If you want to see more gameplay videos before buying, I compiled all of mine here.

Samsara Room

Rusty Lake, the makers of the Cube Escape games, celebrated their 5-year anniversary this week by re-releasing their first game that pre-dated the Cube Escape series, Samsara Room. It has you solving puzzles and finding objects that allow you to change into new forma access similar but different rooms based on those forms. I enjoyed it quite a bit, though I got stuck when I missed that clouds were suddenly interactive. Even after multiple playthroughs, I have no idea what triggers those clouds and how I’m supposed to know to check there other than accidentally stumbling upon the change. But once I got past that party the game moved smoothly again until the end. It was good quirky fun we’re used to from Rusty Lake without any overly obtuse puzzles. But what really blew my mind is that there’s a hidden level that they dropped clues for several weeks before the game was even out. That level of dedication is what really sets them apart from other developers. Oh and of course the fact that the game is 100% free without any ads or IAPs. So what are you waiting for? Go play it! And if you need any help, try my walkthrough guide.

Deathtrap Dungeon

  • I never read or played Deathtrap Dungeon before but I was still looking forward to the new game from Branching Narratives. That’s because the entire game is narrated by Eddie Marsan. It’s basically a gamebook with dice rolls and choices at every turn, but instead of reading it yourself, it’s read to you. I found the intro to be way too long and I nearly lost interest before the actual game started. But once it got going, I was sucked in. I wouldn’t think narration would affect my interest in a game like this, but it feels like a bedtime story. I’m not a huge fan of everything being díctate by dice rolls, but since it allows you re-rolls when choosing your stats, I ended up with high enough luck that it would be hard to lose those rolls. Anyway, I’d definitely like to spend more time with it…once I’ve had my fill of Kingdom Two Crowns. You can watch some of my gameplay video below to see what it’s like, but I recommend skipping past the intro to where it gets more interesting.
  • Juicy Realm

    Juicy Realm is a roguelike that was ported to iOS this week, in which you battle it out against rooms full of evil sentient fruit. The idea is to clear out a room at a time, earn coins and upgrades, then move on to the next room. There are crazy boss battles, plenty of chests to open, and ridiculously entertaining weapons. In between themed areas, you can spend your coins to buy some upgrades before moving on to the next area. I just started on the frozen world, and the grape boss in the desert world nearly beat me. He took a long time to die! One thing I really like is how you can slot on tons of items that give you bonuses like higher critical hit, defense against sleep, faster recharge, and so on. What I don’t really like is that every time you find a new weapon, you have to decide on the spot whether you want to keep it and toss your old one, or keep your old one and toss the new one. I wish I could try them out first so I don’t end up scrapping a better weapon for something worse. The stats alone aren’t really enough to say, as they all have different behaviors. For example, I’ve been using a chicken gun that shoots eggs. If I shoot from the right distance, the egg hatches into a chicken that explodes on the closest enemy. The eggs also work as homing missiles, so I’ve been able to mostly focus on not getting hit and not worry too much about aiming at enemies. It’s great. But I may have passed up even better weapons in my fear of losing it. Meanwhile, I see another weak gun in my inventory but I can’t see any way to scrap that instead. It’s possible I’m missing something. But that small detail is making the game a little less fun than it could be. I want to try our weapons and then decide which one I like better — not just gamble on them. Besides that, I would like to see the joystick improved on iPad. The hit box is only on the lower third of the screen and my thumb naturally falls around the middle, so I miss it. I also feel like I have to stretch my thumb to get my character running to the right. Other than that, it’s a lot of fun, and I can see spending a lot of time with it, especially if the developers add iCloud sync. You can watch some of my gameplay video to see what it’s like, though I was confused about a few things at first. If you are interested in it, though, don’t wait, as the price is just $1.99 for the first week.

    Echoes of Aeons

    Alchimia Studios have been working on their action RPG, Echoes of Aeons, for eight years now and it’s finally out, published under Crescent Moon Games. I’d been looking forward to it for some time now, thanks to hand-drawn art I kept seeing pop up in screenshots. Unfortunately, after an hour with it, I’m not really sold. It’s a little too dialogue-heavy, especially early on. There are a few good lines here and there, but for the most part it just feels way too wordy. I’d love to see a few short responses from people sometimes. Still, I could probably overlook that if the rest of the game was fun. I do enjoy exploring and finding hidden treasures. But every time I’d kill a monster, it would respawn if I went back to explore. And the fighting just doesn’t feel that great to me. The caves are the first area you encounter enemies. There were very few, but one kept getting close to a doorway, so if I went after him to attack, I’d end up back in the previous room and enemies in both rooms would reset. This happened several times with that one monster, but I finally managed to stay in the room and dispose of him. Then after just a few more small monsters, I was thrown into a boss battle that I only survived by chugging health potions. I’m not sure why there was a boss battle so soon, but at least I got past it. The real issue for me started when I began playing as the second character, though. Now, don’t get me wrong — I like having two characters for variety. One is melee and the other has ranged attacks. The problem is that I was just not having fun shooting these same flying green things in every room. Even with my strength upgraded, it took way too many shots to take it down. I want to explore, not spent five minutes shooting each little enemy. After about three or four of them, I just stopped playing and haven’t had the urge to go back. There might be a great game here, and it might get much more interesting later, but if an hour with a game isn’t enough to grab me, I’m not really willing to invest more time into it. It’s clearly a labor of love, though, so I suggest watching some of my gameplay video and seeing for yourself if it looks interesting to you.

    Alice Trapped Beyond Wonderland

    I had no idea that MediaCity Games was still making games, as it’s been years since they released anything new. But they’re back now with a sequel to one of their first games, called Alice Trapped Beyond Wonderland. The idea is that the Red Queen sent Alice’s friends away before she could save them, so now she has to go back for them. I’ve been impressed by other games from this developer, so I had high hopes. So far it’s a bit underwhelming, though. I like how there are four different doors that represent the seasons, and how you go back and forth between them to find items and solve puzzles. What I don’t like is how so many scenes have one item or clue in them and that’s it. You enter, pick something up, and never go back. It makes the scenes feel a little lifeless. For instance, there was a whole farmers market and all you can do there is buy bird seeds. I wouldn’t say it’s a bad game, but it’s just not holding my attention in 2020 with so many great games releasing. A few years back I might have been more impressed with it. Anyway, I don’t have a video of it yet, but I’m working on a walkthrough guide here.

    -Revolt-

    Ciro Manna has released a few iOS games by now, each of them very different from the others. They’ve all been interesting, if flawed, and kept me entertained for a while. But his new game, -Revolt-, feels too broken to continue playing. I like the idea of it, where you pick up random weapons and use them to take out all your enemies before moving on to the next room. The idea is to survive as long as possible. But the movement is so hard to control that it makes it nearly unplayable. You’re supposed to swipe to move, but your guess is as good as mine how many tiles a single swipe will move you. I’ve tried making smaller swipes, and I still end up overshooting the spot I was trying to land on. It means I’m spending my moves running back and forth over the same spot trying to land on it. I’m also not sure why it’s turn-based but you don’t move one space at a time. The movement is so clumsy and awkward that I just don’t even know what the developer was trying for. On top of that, it seems that if you pick up five weapons at a time, one of them gets used when you try to walk. It’s a very strange mechanic and I’m not sure what it adds to the game. I think it would make more sense to just make me choose a weapon to drop if I pick up one when I’m full. Anyway, until it gets a big overhaul, I wouldn’t recommend this one.

    (Update: It turns out that the controls are not broken. I just missed the text on screen saying “tap and slide” and just swiped like the giant hand was showing me. I’ll make another gameplay video for next week’s roundup, but wanted to clear that up. The controls are not intuitive, but they also aren’t broken.)

    Worm Jazz

    I mentioned Worm Jazz last week, and how I was blown away with it (pun intended). You play as a worm who gets longer from eating food, but can use mines and bombs to shorten himself. I’ve still been chipping away at the puzzles and came across two new mechanics — portals, which I expected — and rolling boulders, which I didn’t expect. The portals do what you would imagine, so I don’t think I need to explain them. But the boulders roll when a mine explodes next to them. They also cause mines to go off when they hit them. So you can get all these fun chain reactions going. If not for all the new releases this week, I’d definitely be spending more time with Worm Jazz, as it’s one of the best puzzlers I’ve seen in a long time. Seriously, don’t sleep on this one. And I’m still working on my walkthrough if you need help.

    Hello Human

    Hello Human is an upcoming puzzle game from Russell King, in which you perform tasks so a snarky AI can observe you and learn about human behavior. It’s releasing on May 8th, but I got an early copy and spent some time with it. I like how it’s a mixed bag of puzzles, though the more reflex-based ones could be a little frustrating. The AI reminds me of games like Calculator: The Game, in the way you can’t tell whether he’s your friend or enemy. Anyway, I look forward to playing more and recommend it to anyone who likes puzzle games with an amusing story. You can also pre-order it now if you want to make sure you don’t forget.

    Sky: Children of the Light

    And last, we have more Sky news! There’s a new traveling spirit this weekend, the one from the Season of Gratitude with the orange cape. He leaves tonight, though, so make sure to find him and buy his cosmetics if you don’t have them yet. There was also a new light to chase, this time the blue one. And the Forgotten Ark got a new transformation. The beta version of the game also got a surprising new feature — portrait mode for iPhone. The controls have been redesigned to play with one hand. It’s serviceable, but I’m not sure I would play that way for more than a few minutes at a time. Still, it’s nice to have the option, and hopefully it can be further optimized before it comes to the live version. Anyway, that’s pretty much all the news for now, besides a new winged light added to the Vault in beta. You can see videos for all these things below.

    And that’s just about everything I’ve been up to this week. I also spent some time with some Apple Arcade games like Neversong and Beyond Blue, though I have mixed feelings with both. I’ll see if I warm up to the controls of Neversong, but the graphics were downgraded for Beyond Blue and I’m not sure I have much interest in playing it now. Anyway, let me know in the comments section what you’ve been playing and I’ll see you back here next week with more of My Week Unwrapped!

    ***
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    Matthew Mains
    5 months ago

    I was hoping you had already started Adventure Escape: The Covenant.