Category Archives: Games

Kingdoms and Castles (Game Review)

I absolutely love city builders, so when I got the opportunity to play this game I was quite excited to try it out. I went in blind, not knowing anything about the game, and had a good time playing it.

Pros:

Beautiful voxel graphics and good music. Graphics in this title are top-tier, I have no complaints with this style and thought that it fit the genre quite well. The music is good too, nothing fantastic, but it works well for this game.

The advisers. The advisers in the castle are constantly giving you advice on what to do or, in my case, what was going wrong. These advisers are useful if you are just getting into the game, as they give you an idea of what you should be doing. They can be quite annoying, but if something needs to be built, changed, etc. in your kingdom, then they will absolutely let you know. The military adviser even lets you know when a raid is coming, giving you some time to prepare.

The controls. The controls and the camera in general are really nice. It’s easy to see the kingdom at a glance and find out what’s going on. When vikings or a dragon appear, a visual indicator pops up with the option to jump the camera to it, useful when you need to find out where the raid is coming from.

Optimization and flow of gameplay. The game runs really well. Even with a huge city and people running about the game never really faltered. I only ran into issues when it rains, but even then I never dropped below 40 fps. On the topic of gameplay flow, I am very happy with the inclusion of speed controls. I find them to be a necessity in this type of game, and having them already mapped to the number keys made it even better.

Kingdoms and Castles (1)

Cons:

The early game. The early game is brutal. There is so much going on at any given time early on that it is pretty hard to keep up. Constantly having advisers telling me that we need more food, that we need more homes, that the vikings are coming to kill us, and all of that was very overwhelming. While I was busy attending to the needs of my people, I made the mistake of not building enough defenses and ended up having half of my town razed by the vikings. This happened a few times before I was actually ready for viking raids. If you manage to make it through the early game, it does get easier, but until then it’s just a matter of hoping that you don’t get attacked at an inconvenient time.

The late game. Once you’ve managed to make it through the early game, the mid-game is just a clown fiesta of constantly having to rebuild buildings that burned down to vikings and/or dragons. However, once you’re past this phase, the game simply becomes easy. Viking attacks are dealt with quickly and buildings don’t need to be replaced as often. This stark contrast between the early game and late game was surprising. The difficulty definitely needs to be balanced out a bit. There’s never a middleground.

Generals and soldiers. The whole generals and soldiers mechanic sounds nice and all, but they end up being absolutely useless. They have to be manually controlled to move towards the enemy and barely do anything once there. Their sole purpose in my kingdom was to slow down the enemy so my archers and ballista towers could take care of them. I just stopped producing them after a certain point because it simply was a waste of time.

Lack of content. There simply isn’t enough content to keep this game interesting for more than a few hours. I could only see myself playing this in short bursts of maybe three hours at a time, as that is all the time it takes to get a decent kingdom and castle setup. Past that point it’s just mindless building until the map is covered. More buildings, different types of raids, or even more random events would have been nice.

Kingdoms and Castles (3)

Overall I can say I recommend the game, especially if you’re looking for a few hours of city building fun every now and then. It doesn’t take more than a few hours to max out a kingdom’s potential, but those few hours are enjoyable. I can see myself coming back to this in the future to maybe try out a new kingdom layout or challenge myself with a harder difficulty. You can buy Kingdoms and Castles here on Steam.

4- Pretty k

Tabletop Simulator (Game Review)

Tabletop Simulator, the game where I’m able to flip the table in rage when I lose at playing a card game I created.

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The game in which I spent most of my time

Tabletop Simulator is basically a physics simulator specializing in the playing of board and card games. I’ve already played countless games (mostly chess) against my friends, and I can really vouch for the amount of fun had. We all had a blast playing the variety of games provided out of the box and the countless games provided by the Steam Workshop.

The game provides countless different customization options, both visual and mechanical. For instance, I’m able to disable the gravity and play checkers like I would up in space (which was quite entertaining, might I add). The table and background can also be changed. I can even have a custom table, with a custom image.

Yes, this is an in-game tablet that actually works
Yes, this is an in-game tablet that actually works

Each individual game piece can be maneuvered and modified with ease. The size, color, material, etc. The amount of customization given to the player is quite astounding. The actual controls of the game are quite simple. There’s keys that can rotate pieces and flip them (handy when dealing with cards). Decks can be shuffled and dice can be played with a simple shake of the mouse. The controls are very intuitive.

The game does feature Workshop integration, a fantastic feature especially for a game like this. With such integration, we were able to play Eels and Escalators, Uno, Sorry!, 3-man chess, etc. I’d go so far as to say that this feature is the game’s best feature, well, aside from the fact that you can flip the entire table in rage if you were to lose, which is also a key feature.

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This, ladies and gentlemen, is Eels and Escalators

One of the largest features I haven’t explored yet would be the fact that the game provides an “RPG kit”, so you’re able to build and play your own RPGs. There are even some on the workshop, which is quite the amazing feat for what seems to just be a simple game. One could make quite the D&D experience with such a kit.

The most glaring downside to the game would be the fact that if you don’t have friends to play the game with, there really is not a whole lot of fun to be had. Sure, you can play with some Internet stranger, but it’s nowhere near as fun as playing with your buds.

Anyone remember this game? So much fun as a kid!
Anyone remember this game? So much fun as a kid!

Overall, Tabletop Simulator is what I would consider a “must-have” game on Steam. There’s really nothing else like it and the amount of fun that can be had with friends is limitless, especially with the inclusion of Workshop support. Now, back to creating my own card game!

5- Highly k

Cities: Skylines (Game Review)

The last time I played a city simulator was back in the Sim City 4 days. I never played the newer Sim City, purely because of the complaints it received. I will not be comparing the two due to this fact.

It’s actually been quite some time since I’ve been so hooked on a new sim game. I usually just stuck to the classics, like Sim City 4, RollerCoaster Tycoon 3, or the original Zoo Tycoon. Cities: Skylines has changed that for the better. Not only does the game encompass all of the features of those “classics”, it also adds plenty of its own mechanics to enhance that experience.

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The game has many features expected of city sims: zoning, traffic, pollution, etc. On top of that, the game already has an active modding community. It is plenty fun standing on its own, but with the addition of mods, that experience is extended furthermore. I’ve already installed quite a few mods, including some maps and buildings as well as some mechanic-changing mods, such as one that automatically destroys abandoned buildings, which is quite annoying to do manually.

The biggest problem I have with the game would be the traffic aspect of the game, which I’m not very good at managing. I can do fine in every other department, but when it comes to traffic, I’m just no good. This is partly due to how traffic in the game works. It is a bit wonky, but I found some minor success by using lots of one-way roads and such. Although it does sound strange, the less traffic lights in your city, the better.

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I also found it very impressive that EVERYTHING in the game can be renamed. Every citizen, building, district, etc. The attention to detail with features like that really brings out the micromanaging beast within me.

I do have a few other complaints, however. For one, I’m under the impression that the game is simply too easy. Once I got around 30k citizens, money was never an issue. That and I feel as if the lategame is severely lacking in content. Sure there are “monuments” and such, but nothing really exciting enough to make me want to stay with a given city for too long. On the other hand, the modding component of the game allows modders to remedy these faults.

Overall, there’s really nothing to lose when picking up Cities: Skylines. It provides hours of fun and the modding component of the game just keeps that coming. Be warned though, once you start, it is hard to stop, something I learned myself one night morning at around 5am.

5- Highly k

Sakura Spirit (Game Review)

Sakura Spirit is as close to an eroge you’ll ever get on Steam. The day when H-games are allowed on Steam is not yet upon us, and while this game may not have H-scenes (sorry guys!), it is still a short, enjoyable experience nevertheless.

Emphasis on short. The game doesn’t take that long to beat, and it is very limited in terms of interactivity. But hey, this is a visual novel, after all. Oh and about that interactivity? Yeah, there’s only one choice. Even with just one choice, I still managed to enjoy the game (Sakurano Maeko best girl).

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In regards to the game’s story, I can’t really say much. There’s a very basic story put in place, but most of the game leans heavily towards the fanservice side. Now, that’s not necessarily too bad, but if you’re expecting some sort of KEY-quality story, then this would not be the VN for you.

The art is fantastic, although the excessive glare on the girls’ bodies kept me wondering if they were made of plastic or not. As for music, it’s alright, nothing too spectacular.

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Overall, I’d have to say that Sakura Spirit’s sole selling point is the amount of fanservice included.For a game on Steam, that’s fantastic. There aren’t many like it, if any at all. I hope this leads to more eroge-ish titles in the future. I’m still awaiting the day when I can play the uncensored version of Kanon, or maybe even Shuffle! on Steam. Anyways, be on the lookout for future Sekai Project releases.

3- Moderately k

Bound By Flame (Game Review)

It’s like Dark Souls, but not as hard. That’s Bound By Flame summed up in a single sentence. If I had to compare it with similar games, I’d say it’s a cross between Dark Souls and the Witcherseries, although I don’t have much experience in the Witcher series.

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I didn’t know what to expect going into the game, other than what I know of the game’s genre. Coming out, I’d say it’s a decent experience. Nothing too bad, but not very good either. There are better alternatives out there, but if you’re looking for the generic fantasy RPG, you’ve come to the right place.

Let’s start with combat. The game does a fantastic job in this regard. The combat feels smooth and is easy to pick up, and this is coming from someone who doesn’t play many games like this. The enemies are balanced (for the most part) and I never had too easy or too hard of an enemy. Oh, and enemies actually have some sense. They tend to attack you when you’re charging an attack, which I found rather annoying at the time, but a good addition overall.

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The game’s animations are another story. They are both really, really good, but can be disgusting at times. Well, the terrible bits are only really noticeable during cutscenes, especially with facial animations. Not to mention that the voice acting is kinda iffy. During combat however, the animation is fantastic.

As for learning how to play the game, I picked it up rather quickly. The game does a fantastic job of explaining the various mechanics, but it’d be helpful if you have at least some experience in the genre beforehand. The crafting system in particular was a very cool mechanic and was quite easy to learn.

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Do note that the game is rather linear. There wasn’t much in terms of choice, to my disappointment. Character customization is also quite awful. You have very few choices to choose from and all of the characters look the same.

I’m also going to point out how useless most of the game’s items are. You’ll primarily be using your sword and dagger loadout, with traps generally being a waste of time. Arrows can be helpful at times, but don’t really help out that much.

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Overall, Bound By Flame is a decent fantasy RPG. Not much more to say about it, other than the fact that there are better games out there. However, if you’re willing to put up with it, Bound By Flame is not that bad of a choice.

3- Moderately k

YAIBA: NINJA GAIDEN Z (Game Review)

A Ninja Gaiden game on Steam? Aww yeah!

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I was surprised to open Steam and find a Ninja Gaiden game, I mean, I’ve been a  fan of the series for years now and, with this title, the series continues to impress me. Yaiba takes the Ninja Gaiden series to a different realm, in a way, well, in terms of graphics at least. The game looks like it was pulled out of some comic book. This was a great style for such a game, even more for a Ninja Gaiden game. It was kinda like when I first played Borderlands, and that’s a good thing. However, disregarding the graphical change, Yaiba does not stand out as a true Ninja Gaiden game.

Although it may not be a “true” entry in the series, it certainly performs much like its predecessors and is a great deal of fun to play. The reason I’d say Yaiba is not a true entry is the pace. It’s simply not as fast as I’d expect from a Ninja Gaiden game. It played more like Dynasty Warriors, which isn’t entirely bad, but if I wanted to play Dynasty Warriors, I’d play, well, Dynasty Warriors. It may be a strange take on the series, but the game certainly nails that fun factor for me.

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The game’s difficulty is a bit weird as well. I played on normal, but it was really, really hard at parts. Maybe due to my lack of playing hack and slash titles recently, I dunno. I can’t begin to imagine the frustration that would come with choosing the hardest difficulty, but I’d like to try someday. If it’s anything like Metal Gear Revengeance, than it’ll be a frustrating time indeed.

The game’s story is laughable, but not really ‘bad’. Just your generic storyline, nothing to be impressed with. I was disappointed to find out that I was grounded the entire game, as in, I could not jump. Instead, I would dash. Dashing is cool and all, but I miss my jumping ability. Instead, quicktime events are factored into the game to replace the jumping mechanic. Want to jump across a gap? Press whatever button is displayed in front of you.

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The game ran smoothly on my PC, probably due to the fact that it made use of UE3, which is probably why this port exists, but no complaints from me. The game is also full of humor, a great addition to such a game, but most of this is adult humor, which was alright with me, but some may find it rather offending.

I’ve also heard of others having issues with the game camera, and I can’t deny that it can be a bit weird at times, but it wasn’t as bad as others made it out to be. It worked well for me, at least.

Overall, Yaiba is a fantastic entry in the Ninja Gaiden series, even if it may not be a “true” entry, it still manages to impress. I urge you to give it a shot.

4- Pretty k

The Powerpuff Girls: Defenders of Townsville (Game Review)

I was psyched to see a Powerpuff Girls game coming to Steam. I mean, when does that ever happen? I love Cartoon Network and their various shows. Video game adaptations of these series are usually bad, and this title is certainly not excluded from this general rule (to an extent), but its always nice to see games like this around on Steam.

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Many will complain about the game’s graphical style, myself included. The “modern” Powerpuff Girls are not as cool as the classic, although this is coming from someone who loved the series as a kid, so I may just be a bit (okay, a lot more than that) biased. This is where the “classic” style comes into play. The option to switch between the modern and classic art style is a fantastic feature, especially for those that used to watch the series back then. The nostalgia!

However, the graphic-switching mechanic does not come without its flaws. Specifically, when using the classic style, the backgrounds remain in the modern style, so there’s a bit of a clash there. It’s not too bad, but it does take some getting used to. Also, the game’s cutscenes could have been a lot better. They aren’t fully animated. The characters may have their proper voices, but they lack the animation to show them speaking in the first place.

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The gameplay is rather simple, which I guess I should have expected from a game like this, but it’s not so simple as to be outright boring, or even repetitive. It’s anything but. You’ll find yourself flying around various areas, exploring each room for goodies (think Castlevania), and smashing enemies while leveling up various skills. It’s not too complex (I would have preferred at least a little more complexity), but it is solid nonetheless.

The game also comes with a nice soundtrack and some rather smooth controls. I used a controller (as I do with just about every game like this) and was not disappointed. The controls were responsive and very easy to pick up.

The Powerpuff Girls: Defenders of Townsville is a great game. Although it may not be as loved by newcomers to the series, it still manages to earn my recommendation.

3- Moderately k