My Week Unwrapped: August 22, 2020 – The Bonfire 2, Kavel, Ord., renal summer, Otherworld Legends 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 has been a fairly busy week, though I spent much of it playing one game. I still found time for a few others that are worth checking out. I also played some of the latest Apple Arcade game, which I’ll touch on just a bit. Anyway, I have a lot to cover, so I’ll just cut to the chase.

The Bonfire 2: Uncharted Shores

The reason the earlier part of my week was quiet was because I got Xigma Games’ The Bonfire 2 about a week early and was trying to give it some proper attention and review it in time for release. Unfortunately, it turned out the version I was playing was not the latest, and besides a slew of annoying little bugs that since got fixed, my save file got corrupted. So the videos I made of that run are a little outdated. I then started a new game, but since I didn’t have time to finish before release and my review wasn’t fully applicable anymore, I scrapped it. I still have a lot to say, though, so pull up a chair. In many ways, The Bonfire 2 is a big improvement on the original. The developers listened to a lot of feedback and made a sequel that’s about three-to-four times longer than the first game and gives players much more freedom to design their village. I especially like the setting of three islands with waterfalls running between them. They also added a fast-forward button for times when there’s not much to do, and I appreciate that iCloud sync was included from the start. But there are still some issues that are hard to ignore. The behavior of villagers is often nonsensical and gets them killed. I had a tower guard get killed because he ignored the spiders attacking him and focused on one further away that was already being dealt with by other guards. I’ve had guards wander off on their own and get killed, when they would have been perfectly fine if they just stuck with the group. Thankfully, you can reset the day if someone gets killed like that and hope for better luck next time, or even shut off auto-save and revert to your last manual save if something goes wrong. But after a while, that becomes tedious. It also means that much of my second playthrough is about working around that nonsensical AI. For instance, I don’t use hunters anymore because too often they would leave meat lying around and a guard would go running after it and get killed. Other food sources are more reliable and less risky, so I just don’t have hunters. Aside from that, once you get to a certain point, you realize that it’s not that different from the first game. You have more freedom to design your village, sure, but things play out very similarly, just over many more hours. It feels padded out just to appear to offer more content but it just gets tedious after a while. Part of the reason is how much time you’re going to spend going back and forth through menus. Perhaps it should be called The Bonfire 2: Even More Menus. The UI is cluttered and a chore to navigate. I would have liked to be able to see more at a glance instead of having to always tap on each villager to see their full stats and equipment. Or to be able to assign roles from the same menu where I can see all my villagers in one place, instead of having to tap on each individual building. The “Build” menu is also an unorganized mess. It flashes when it wants to get your attention to build something new, but then you have to scroll around to look for it. Sometimes it also flashes when there isn’t something new, and in both instances I really wish it would highlight the new structures available or whatever else it’s trying to draw my attention to. It would also be nice if you can tell when a structure has enough materials to be upgraded instead of having to constantly check each one. It’s altogether just a very tedious experience of tapping through lots of menus. You spend a lot of time swapping villagers’ roles, so it would be nice if they could auto-equip tools for that job instead of having to be manually done each and every time. I’m on about day 90 on my new game and around where my first game ended, though I kept many more villagers alive, so things are going better. That said, I don’t feel very invested at this point. Somehow, production feels like it’s slowing down despite having more people working, and I’m not sure if that’s a bug or by design. So many things require coal, but I can only have two coal miners, so very little is getting done in a day. And each session with the game feels pretty much the same, especially since this is my second time doing it. But keep in mind that I put over 50 hours into Kingdom Two Crowns before having my fill, and that included starting over several times to try and do better and also experience the different themes. But The Bonfire 2 doesn’t feel exciting the second time around once you understand how everything works and know exactly what to expect, even if you’re doing better. I do think the developers put a lot of work into it and in many ways it’s better than the first game, but for me that’s just not enough. At this point, I wish I could skip all the building and get to the end and see what happens. I might continue playing in case I’m close to the end so all this time spent with it wasn’t for nothing. But if it drags on too long, I’m just going to move on. I also have a walkthrough guide here with some tips and tricks and videos of my current playthrough.

Kavel

If you’ve been following my work for a while, you probably know by now that I’m a big fan of match-three games that don’t have any IAPs or ads and bring something new to the table. So when I saw Kavel for only $1.99, I had to grab it. The basic idea of it is that the board fills up with gems made of of five different shapes and colors. You’re then given a Tetromino, which is basically a tile shaped like a Tetris piece. The idea is to then place that piece over four same-colored gems to remove them from the board and get points. Those gems will then be replaced by new random gems, including one that’s a bomb. If you match a bomb into one of your Tetrominos, it clears all the gems of that color that are touching. If you match two bombs at once, it clears all gems of that color from the board. Three bombs clears the entire board, and four bombs creates special bombs that give you a bonus multiplier. This is where the real high scores come in. Since the Casual mode only gives you 50 Tetrominoes to work with, you really have to plan out your moves and get those four-bomb matches or you’ll never get your score up. The Frenzy mode is like a time attack mode, where you have to act quickly before the clock runs out. I prefer the Casual mode, though I feel like I’m hitting a wall and can’t really get my score up. Right now there’s also no save state, so you can’t take a break without losing your progress on your current game. But the developer said he does want to add saves in an update. Anyway, there’s a lot to like here, but it’s definitely not the kind of match-three game that you can just mindlessly play. You really have to strategize from the beginning and make each move count. You can watch some of my gameplay video below to see if it’s something you might enjoy.

Ord.

I admit that at first glance, I didn’t think I would enjoy Ord. The idea of a text adventure told through one-word sentences didn’t seem like it would be very immersive. But I’ve never been so happy to be proven wrong. The game is made up of a series of binary choices, all one word each. There are four different types of stories, such as one titled Quest. In that one, you start off at home and set out on adventure to slay the evil warlock in his tower. Each item or obstacle or creature you come across is described using only one word and then you choose between two one-word options and see how it plays out. So you might see on tour screen, in big, bold white letters on black, “Bridge. Over. Under.” If you choose Under, the next words will be “Troll. End.” That’s it. It may sound overly simplistic, but it works surprisingly well. Together with great sound design and subtle visual effects, Ord.‘s minimalistic storytelling manages to get my imagination going in ways some much wordier text adventures can’t. I actually laughed out loud when I came across a Guillotine and chose “Test.” and it was followed by “Works. End.” The game does get a little repetitive after a while, and one wrong choice could end a game that was about to lead to a new achievement. But I’m definitely not done playing. I should mention I encountered one bug where my screen went black and I had to quit the story I was on. But that was only once and it’s a very polished experience otherwise. If you’re still skeptical, I recommend watching some of my gameplay videos below to get a better feel for it.

  • renal summer

  • renal summer has one of the strangest tag lines ever — “You are a dog’s kidney.” The idea is that your dog is in kidney failure and doesn’t have much time to live. But you can extend his life by assisting with kidney function. Based on appearances, I thought it would be a puzzle game — albeit a heartbreaking one. I bought the $1.99 ad-removal IAP right away because it didn’t seem like the kind of game that would benefit from ad interruptions. But it turns out it’s more of a clicker than a puzzle game. Basically, the blood is represented by four different colored blocks and you need to tap them each several times to break them and remove toxins from the blood stream. When blocks merge together into larger ones, they take fewer taps to break. You can also use the experience you earn to level up and make everything take fewer taps. There are also green blocks that appear once in a while that let you watch an ad (or skip the ad if you bought the IAP) to enter a sort of frenzy mode where you can break blocks with just one tap. That’s pretty much the whole thing. At the top of the screen, the old man completes all the different tasks on his farm while the sick dog tags along. What’s especially strange about it is that it takes place in real time, whether you play or not. And you can only push off his death a bit, but you can’t stop the inevitable. So I didn’t check in for a day and my dog died. Then the day rewinded so I guess I can witness that all over again? I get the kind of experience it’s going for here, but I just don’t think it’s the right experience for me. The tapping bothered my hand, especially in the beginning when blocks required a lot of taps to break, and I don’t like to be guilted into playing a game when it’s not convenient for me. As an experimental piece, I appreciate that it tries to do something different and make the player uncomfortable. But I’m just going to spend my spare time with my actual real life cat instead. I might check in occasionally to see what happens, but I’m not going to let it guilt me into tapping all day. The game is free with optional ads and a one-time IAP to remove them, so if you want to try it for yourself, there’s nothing to lose.

    Otherworld Legends

    Otherworld Legends is a hack-n-slash roguelike from ChillyRoom, the makers of Soul Knight. When I played, the IAPs weren’t available yet and you had the option to watch an ad for a continue (which affected your score). I refuse to watch ads to continue a run, and now that IAPs have been added, I’m not sure if there’s a way to remove the opt-in ads. I’m also not sure how balanced the game is if you want to play completely for free. I died when I encountered either a boss or a mini boss, and I just haven’t really had the urge to try again. But check it out for yourself and see if it’s something you might enjoy.

    RUNES

    I love the look of RUNES, a new puzzler from Inspire Games, with its deep purples and calming greens. The presentation is definitely the highlight for me. Unfortunately, I’m terrible at these kinds of puzzles and I ended up quitting in frustration on only the seventh level. You see, it’s a rolling block game, in which you roll one block to another and link them together. Then you need to move the new shape to the glowing runes and match them up. The level I quit on was the first with three cubes and I tried so many solutions but none of them got me where I needed. The problem is I’m no good at picturing a path for these shapes that would land them in the right position, so I just keep trying anything until something works. If you’re better at these puzzles, you should enjoy it more than I did. But I also don’t like that there’s a move counter that’s invisible. Basically, when you go over the 3-star number of moves, a ghost flies off. Then after some more moves, the second ghost will fly off. I don’t think the third ghost ever does, so no matter how many moves it takes you to finish you should at least get one ghost. I might have enjoyed the game more if it had an actual move counter and also an undo button. If I could experiment more without restarting each time I make a clear mistake, it would feel less tedious. But as is, I can’t see continuing with it. I should mention, though, that you get five hints each day, so if you get hopelessly stuck, you can resort to those rather than quit altogether. If you want to see the game in action, check out my gameplay video below.

    Sky: Children of the Light

    Not much news in Sky this week, but there is a traveling spirit. This time, it’s the Shushing Light Scholar from the Season of Lightseekers. You can find him in the Vault of Knowledge. If you need more help, I have a walkthrough here and a fresh video below.

    Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time

    The latest Apple Arcade games is [adult swim]’s Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time, and since I don’t know when my next Apple Arcade roundup will be, I want to cover it here a bit. I was a bit intimidated by it at first, especially after seeing screenshots with all the onscreen buttons. So I decided to just play from the start with a controller. I only played about a half hour so far, through the first boss, but it was great fun. It seems very polished so far, with 3D for the gameplay and 2D animations for the cutscenes. I don’t know much about Samurai Jack, as I’ve never watched the show, but that doesn’t seem to matter. I don’t think it’s hard to follow the story, and the action holds up on its own. There are also several difficulty modes, which I appreciate. I chose Normal and am doing fine so far, but I’m not sure if there will come a point where I regret not choosing Easy. I plan to play more and find out, so keep an eye out on my YouTube channel. If you have an Apple Arcade subscription, definitely give this one a try.

    And that’s everything I’ve been up to this past week! I also binged the final season of the Netflix series The Rain and learned that the reason the English dubs are so convincing is because they’re mostly done by the original actors. I enjoyed it and would recommend it if you’re looking for something new to watch. Anyway, let me know in the comments section what games you’ve been playing and I’ll see you back here next time with more of My Week Unwrapped!

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