Super Impossible Road

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Steam Page

I write this review as the game is still in Early Access. I say that not because I plan to go easy on the game or something, just as a heads up to those that will consider buying the game. I’ve always maintained that “Early Access” is not an excuse for how good or bad a game is. Once you put it on the marketplace, you’re fair game… in my opinion.

Super Impossible Road is a racing game. There’s really not much to say about racing games in general. You control a ball. You can modify your ball to have the stats that you want it to have but let’s be real here, does anyone ever care enough to min-max perfectly? If you do, please send me a message, I need to know what’s going on in your head.

The tracks have gates on them which fill up your boost bar. Using boost makes your ball go a little faster (obviously). Where this game differs from other racing games that I’ve played is that you can jump off the track to “cheat” your way to finish line faster. That’s why the game’s tagline “Winning is cheating”. Now you can’t just jump off the track and free fall to the finish line for victory. The game would be too easy in that case. Upon leaving the track, you have five seconds to return to the track. If you fail to touch the track in that time, you will automatically respawn at the last boost gate you touched. Which means that you have to be really careful about deciding when to ‘cheat’. Otherwise you may waste up to five seconds. If you see the writing on the wall that you’re not going to make it, you can force respawn early.

The tracks can be fairly complex. At this time, while there are only three ‘tracks’, the tracks are procedurally generated so it’s like having an infinite number of tracks? There’s also a daily track where you can compete with people across the world for the top score.

The game is aesthetically appealing (to me) with that ‘Tron’ feel. I’m not the biggest fan of EDM so there’s only one or two soundtracks that I like but it definitely matches the feel of the game. Excellent job.

While the game does have multiplayer, it seems it only has local multiplayer. Perhaps they will change that as it is still in early access. You can still have CPU racers and you can even race against your ghost. So it has some rudimentary tools.

Anyway, at the time of writing, the game is priced at $12. While I do like the game for what it does, I don’t think it’s worth $12 yet. Do it if you want to support the creators but other than that, I’d wait for it to go on sale or something for $5 or $6. I’m not the biggest fan of racing games so I won’t dump too many hours into it, but in my opinion, it does look promising. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

Super Impossible Road

Tallowmere

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Steam Page

Tallowmere is a dungeon diving roguelike. A return to basics, maybe. This game features all of your favourite people. We got bitches be spitting mad rhymes, Mike ‘Taze the Rainbow’ Pence, we got Allahu Ackbar, we even got President Donald ‘Grab em by the Pussy’ Trump.

Tallowmere (to my knowledge) is one of those endless games where you just scoreboard whore. Nothing wrong with that, just makes it a timesink rather than an experience. The controls are fairly easy to pick up and it has many ways to challenge players. The weapons you find each have unique controls even if some of them seem absurdly overpowered. I think with the exception of three weapons: the dagger, the club, and the grenade, all attacks home in on enemies and the differences between the weapons are usually how you’re affected as you use them. For example, the ice wand hand a weird range where it won’t angle up or down that much. The rocket launcher has a longer range and a faster projectile, but it knocks you back. Don’t use it next to walls or spikes (I have the achievement you get for suiciding by rocket). The katana has to be my favourite weapon even if I think it’s terrible. When you use it, you teleport to a nearby enemy and you can do this to easily bypass walls and traps. The drawback is, in rooms with large hordes of enemies, it’s easy to lose track of yourself. And when you suddenly die because you didn’t realize you had fallen into a spike pit, it can be annoying. But seeing myself fly across the room killing everything in 1 hit is just sheer delight that whenever I would get bored (usually around floor 50 or 60) I would just suicide using the katana.

Unfortunately, two things play against it. One thing is that you can sacrifice kittens for more health and that’s not okay. I mean, seriously, what the fuck. And you get an achievement for sacrificing all nine. Which I totally only did for SCIENCE! Also because I like to collect achievements.  The second thing (real thing here) that plays against it is that the difficulty curve drops off rather abruptly. After getting some good equipment on floors 1-10 it can become trivially difficult to kill all of the mobs and get better equipment which makes the future floors trivially difficult… The game becomes too easy. And this is why I wind up stopping or suiciding with the katana.

Overall, I think that the game is quite fun to play and well worth a few dollars if you have some hours to spare. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

Tallowmere

My Review Process

If you’ve been following this blog for a few months, you’ll no doubt realize that while I tend to write about whatever I want to write about, I generally write reviews of… stuff. Usually games and I’d like to expand it to movies but I’m not really sure I know how to evaluate a medium that I spend so little time in. I spend my life absorbed in manga, anime, and video games, so I know those quite well. If I did eventually start reviewing movies, I would probably review them like I do anime, but that’s a topic for another day. Today I wanted to talk about my review process – particularly for games.

So what is it that makes a game good? Simple – is it fun? That’s probably it. Time to go home folks!

Nah, there’s more. So I look for a myriad of things in games. The first thing I look for (other than whether or not it’s fun) usually depends on the game and what it’s marketed as. See, it’d be unfair for me to evaluate a roguelike as an RPG because they’re two totally different types of games. In a roguelike, the gameplay is usually designed to be endlessly playable, and it’s almost arcade-like in ‘How far can I go’ in nature. While an RPG is designed as a wish fulfillment game, in which you either choose or are given a ROLE to PLAY in this GAME. Since you’re filling a role, there’s usually a role to fill, which means a criticism I often offer in RPGs such as character consistency/motivation is valid there. It would be silly and (as I said earlier) unfair to use such a method of evaluation on a roguelike because that’s not the point of a roguelike. Now this is not to say that RPGs cannot offer roguelike elements and indeed many no doubt do. Long story short – I have different criterion for different types of games.

Actually I don’t want to assign any more numbers because it’s not like I’m going through the game checking off a list. I’m just experiencing the game and these are the things I notice. So no more numbers, just observations.

There are few things that will kill my interest faster than playability. A game needs to be easy to pick up and play or I’ll just leave. I often bring this issue up when it comes to games with difficult to use controls. I shouldn’t need a Ph.D. in Euclidean Geometry to use the ‘Jump’ button. While some developers seem to think that complexity makes a combat system better, I’m going to have to rain on that parade and inform you that it doesn’t. If your game’s controls are so difficult that you need to spend a good 30 minutes to an hour inside a tutorial room, maybe think about your controls again.

The complexity of a gameplay should serve the player in allowing multiple styles of play. This is also a double-edged sword because players are lazy bastards. And what the developers might have intended as giving you options might turn into an effort in futility because the players will always find the easiest way to do a job. So in my mind, a well-done gameplay system will permit many styles of play, but again – we need to keep the type of game in mind. A game like Dark Souls permits the use of many weapon styles and doesn’t have ‘one’ way to complete the game which opens up the game to many different styles of play (though good luck doing the catacombs first). Meanwhile, (and I’m gonna step on a few toes here) a game like Pokemon Red doesn’t really permit too much in the way of variability. You’re all but trapped into using whatever the enemy is weak against or being overleveled compared to the enemy. The later games fix this by adding natures/abilities/move variability. (Though dragon types were super meta for waaaaaay too long)

Part of all games is the atmosphere and one thing that can really make or break an atmosphere is music. Music allows the developer to manipulate the player into feeling a certain way. I’ve recently watched Wolf Children (several times) and I love the movie. Some scenes are great by themselves, such as the snow scene where Hana, Ame, and Yuki are playing. Beautiful. Try watching it without music and then try watching it with music. What you should find is that the music just adds this sheer euphoric delight and turns what would be a great scene into a phenomenal scene. I have no doubt that you could also play with the lighting and music to turn that joyous scene into the prelude of something terrible. Managing the audio in your game to enhance the atmosphere and experience is pretty important to crafting a good game, and is something that I think can ‘rescue’ poor games.

I like to rag on this when it comes to games (especially RPG Maker games because they’re the worst offenders that I see) but the art style has to be CONSISTENT. Art that looks out of place is very jarring to the gaze and I’m going to be spending quite a few hours in this world that you’ve crafted. If I have an eyesore in my line of sight for most of that time I’m going to be saying “Great, I have to go through this town AGAIN” quite a few times, which may make me quit the game.

So I don’t generally don’t review games until I’ve finished them. I’ll make exceptions (game is too long, game is shit, game does not appear to have an ending) but I usually want to play to the credits. This can often be ‘inconvenient’ to a review release schedule but it does give me one additional tool: my feelings. If at any point I find myself saying “Christ, is this game almost over” it signals to me that I’m not enjoying this game. And remember – first and foremost a game should be fun. That’s not to say that bad games can’t be fun, they certainly can and I think that’s where we run into the playerbase creating their fun within the game. There’s nothing wrong with this, though it may make it more difficult for me to rate a game positively.

I do add caveats in my reviews, recognizing that not all games are for everyone. Now if you remember I wrote a post a while ago on how people review things (1-10) incorrectly. Well, I don’t use 1-10 incorrectly. So my bar for reviewing a game as positive is average or better. I know, it means that I will say you should buy most games, but that’s why you should take the rest of the review in context to see if that’s something you actually want to spend money on. Think of my reviews as a brief insight into the game that you can consider before buying them, rather than as a ‘Yes = buy, No = don’t buy’.

Anyway, that’ll be it from me for now. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

My Review Process

JumpJet Rex

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Steam Page

I regret to inform you that I write this review without having finished the game. Not for lack effort, but because it’s just not feasible. I’ll go into why later in the review.

JumpJet Rex is a colourful speedrun game about a dinosaur that collects stars to save the universe. Something like that anyway. There are some 30+ delightful little worlds with each type of world (ice, desolate space base, etc.) seeming to have their own little chiptune to go with it. And these are some damn good chiptunes. I bought the game through Chrono GG so it came with the soundtrack and my god was it worth it. Definitely got some workout tunes out of it (should I ever be finish my selection of podcasts). Really, have a listen to some of them. You can also customize the appearance of your dinosaur, 4 elements. Head, skin tone, shoes, jumpjet particles. But that’s dress-up and I don’t find it particularly enjoyable.

In each level you collect rings to unlock the gate. Pass the finish line and you’ve completed it, you earn a star. You can earn up to three stars per level. One for completion, one for not dying, and one for speedrunning. You need to collect some number of stars to unlock the next few levels. Simple enough. I usually settled for completing without dying to grind stars because I only needed to be careful to progress. But some levels are easy to speedrun if you take advantage of checkpoints (and dying). So I took those too. You can also download ghosts within the game of the top players in the world or people near your skill level to see how they do things. So it provides a good improvement tool within the game, well done.

As the game goes on, and certain elements get added to the levels, I saw some SIGNIFICANT frame drops. Like, we’re talking 2 fps frame drops. The culprits seem to be certain environmental objects. Patches of thorns that disburse leaves and these globules that travel up and down. And it became a real pain on a particular boss fight called ‘Seedmour’ in which the level is full of these thorn patches so after maybe a minute of fighting the boss you’d be unable to do anything for several minutes due to the fps drop. Alt-tabbing seemed to help, but I don’t know for sure. That boss fight was a particularly annoying because after dropping the boss’s health to zero you also had to ground-pound it before it got back up and if you happened to be stuck in 2 fps time when that window presented itself… prepare yourself to have to hit it again because there’s no way you’re going to do it in time. And this is why I haven’t finished the game. Because in the later levels this becomes a constant issue and you kinda need the frames in a speedrunning game if you want it to be fun. (I suspect the issue is some kind of garbage collection or object recycling code).

Other than that though, the game is brilliant. Definitely recommend giving it a go. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

JumpJet Rex

Words for Evil

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Steam Page

I write this review without having finished the game, but since I find no indication that there is a ‘finish’, I think it’s fair.

You play as a party of adventurers completing “quests”(let’s call them that)… for some reason. In fact the quests are scarcely explained so I’m not exactly sure what I’m doing except typing random letters and seeing if LJCQUES is a word that the game will accept. As you travel from scene to scene, occasionally people will request to join your party to which you have only two responses. “Absolutely” and “No”. Quite a jarring contrast of responses.

RPG elements are introduced in the form of character classes and upgrades. Every class gets three types of attacks and each can be upgraded three times (max level of 10 for each character). You can upgrade stats at blacksmiths through purchasing equipment and equipping them to your characters. There’s no equipment screen and there doesn’t seem to be a limit to how many things you can equip to a character so I like to imagine my archer had like a sword (not even a bow, a sword) for every finger and was wearing 4 types of chest armor. Lord knows how he did it, but he did it.

You type words at the screen for like an hour and then you get to the end of your map. Along the way you’ll find treasure or evade traps. Then you will be presented with some text “Book Found” or something like that and you’ll be told to move to next zone or to stay in your current zone. Very immersive.

I don’t really have any complaints about execution. Everything is done quite well. The artwork is nice, and consistent. It has that old 16-bit feel. The fights are… well, typing. If you manage to screw up so much that your heroes drop to 0 HP (maybe you were alt-tabbed) you are offered a chance to keep them alive by typing a 6 or 7-letter word.

Did I phone this one in? I know it’s short but it’s really not a complex game. You type words. Kinda missing where the ‘Evil’ is. I don’t think there’s enough in this game to really extend beyond “type words until done”. I’m going to say no on this one. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

Words for Evil

Hate Plus

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Hate Plus is the sequel to Analogue: A Hate Story. I played Hate Story on the recommendation of a good friend and I rather enjoyed it. I didn’t write a blog post review on it though because… I don’t know why. I wasn’t really in the habit of blogging at that point. But to put it simple, it’s a bit of a visual novel. You have some degree of interaction in the story, but overall you’ll be reading the same story every time. There are some options that are available throughout the story that change some dialogue, change some endings (I think the first game had 5 or 6?) and the joy is in the core story as well as how the character endings change. Fun stuff. Personally I tend to read visual novels for the women plot and while I tend to be bothered by adding clicks between me and the women plot I generally enjoy these.

I give this game(?) a VERY tentative thumbs up.

Hate Plus… is arguably a visual novel. It’s a visual novel in that you will be reading a story and it’s actually a pretty good story. The story is presented through decrypted diary entries which is great as a narrative device. Even though you’ll probably read the entries out of order, it’s actually somewhat engaging. It actually feels like the diary entries are more fun to read out of order because then we can piece together the visual novel ourselves. The stories are short enough (there’s one main story and a couple of sub-stories) that it’s actually possible to use this narrative style. This method doesn’t scale up well unless you’re really good at tying threads together with skill on the order of George R. R. Martin. These stories are only tangentially related, in A Song of Ice and Fire I don’t think there’s a single unimportant set of details. Yes, even the food scenes.

The characters are all fairly interesting with realistic interactions. I like how the character design is really thought out. There’s not so much on character development (the game is too short) but that’s fine, that’s not the point. These diary entries are just about… life. I guess it makes sense considering that the purpose of diaries is to write about life but I don’t really know any other way to put it.

The biggest flaw in the game is execution. The core of the game’s story is *Mute, the character depicted on the title art (seen at the top of this page). The *Mute of the past doesn’t quite seem to be the *Mute of the present so you get to dig around figuring out what happened, ultimately uncovering the beginning of the totalitarian regime that died out from the first game.

This game has a lot of fluff. That’s to be expected since it’s a diary game; but the amount of fluff in this game seems exceedingly so. In the prequel it took you maybe one to three minutes to read each diary entry. This game takes around five minutes an entry and while that may not seem like much, that’s an increase of close to 100%. The rule is not “Longer is better” but rather “Be as long as you need to be”. Unfortunately, from my point of view, some of these entries are too long. Don’t get me wrong, some of them are legitimately great reads, but they can drag on when you’re in “get to the point” mode.

I think that by far, the worst addition to this game though, is the time restricted setup. Yes, you can change your computer clock to skip it. No, I don’t care. Why was a mechanic like that put into the game in the first place? The rule is, you need to wait 12 hours after reading the day’s worth of diary entries (usually 12-18 entries). Why was this unnecessary barrier to content added? I paid for the whole game today. I didn’t pay for 1/3 of the game today, 1/3 tomorrow, and 1/3 the day after that. This is unreasonable and severely hurt my opinion of the game. There are also several sections of the game where you are literally forced to wait twenty minutes to an hour to proceed. This. Is. Frustrating. Design.

I’m actually going to sit on the fence here. It’s not a game that you can recommend to anyone. I personally found it to be… acceptable. But you have to remember that I’m a little bit weird. I liked the fluff even if it dragged on a little longer than it should’ve. I found the way the totalitarian regime began to be interesting. I like the characters. So while the time delay execution style is retarded, I tried to not let it get in my way. So my last word will be a conditional. If you enjoy fluff and reading about things entirely unrelated to the content at hand (even if only briefly) and you want to learn about the rise of a Confucian society, maybe catch this game on sale. If you need the linear path or even a mostly linear path to progress through your games, maybe give this one a pass. As always, thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

Hate Plus

Jotun: Valhalla Edition

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Steam Page

You know, I’ve always been a bit of a sucker for Norse stuff. I’m actually wearing my Fenrir necklace as I write this up. There’s just something so… raw and inspiring (and on occasion, messed up) about Norse legends. When I imagine myself a viking warrior, I feel so powerful. I’m a huge Berserk fan, and the word Berserk comes from the Norse language meaning “bear skinned”. Berserkers would wear a bear’s skin to signify that in combat, anyone was fair game. And there’s just something about that I can connect to. So when I saw Jotun, I knew that I would eventually purchase it.

Jotun is the story of a young girl that has died on the seas, being sent to Ginnungagap to prove herself. She does this by going through several worlds, collecting runes, and conquering the Jotun that live there. All of this is for the purpose of “proving oneself to the gods”. There isn’t really any dialogue, just narration that I assume is in the nordic language. I wouldn’t know for sure though, I don’t speak it. The narrators are suitably… husk sounding. Tough sounding. Maybe it’s the language, I dunno.

The game is beautiful. Straight up beautiful. ‘Nuff sed.

The combat feels clunky at times. You have an axe. You have blessings from the gods that give you various buffs when active. You have a fast, weak attack and you have a slow, strong attack. The strong attack feels too slow. I took kendo for a year and the amount of time you spend with your axe above your head for the strong attack is unrealistic. If your weapon is above your head, it’s not protecting your body. This is just unreasonable. It also does less damage than the weak attack does in the time it takes to use. I’d only ever use the strong attack when my enemy was in the air so I could hit them as soon as they land and then switch to weak attack. Freya’s blessing also speeds up the weak attack so it becomes even more useful. You can get Thor’s blessing to power up your strong attack but… too slow.

The game is in 2D but the characters have 3D hitboxes. This becomes especially frustrating in boss fights with enemies that stand (so, almost all of them). because the hitbox when they’re standing is half the size of the one when they’re on the ground. Which, sure, it’s realistic, but it can become difficult to judge whether or not your strike will hit because the hitbox is so weird. The devs were nice enough to show us a shadow of our character when it’s behind a boss, but they weren’t nice enough to show us shadows of things falling from the sky that are behind the boss. So quite a few deaths of mine were caused by attacks I literally could not see coming. Not to mention that if your character is where a titan will stagger, it will get knocked back into those hazards you were avoiding. Extremely annoying.

Overall? Great game even if some fights are exceedingly frustrating. Definitely recommend. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

Jotun: Valhalla Edition