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Multiplatform Game Review:- Valfaris from Steel Mantis

Set in a far corner of space, Valfaris is a heavy metal infused 2D action-platformer and the next game from the team behind Unity Awards finalist, Slain: Back From Hell. Brutal combat. Deadly enemies. Stunning pixel art. Savage soundtrack. Get ready to rip the galaxy a new wormhole.

 

 

Greeting true believers, It is I, Darsch, and I bring you a review of Valfaris.

 

Developed by Steel Mantis and Published by Big Sugar, Valfaris is a side scrolling platformer shooter similar to Super Contra, but better. The game has a killer soundtrack, killer art, and killer weapons.

 

 

The gameplay is spot on, you run, you gun, you pick up new weapons, you pick up upgrade materials to upgrade your favorite weapons, and expect to die a lot until you improve your skills at a particular tricky spot or boss fight. The difficulty is perfectly balanced, hard enough to challenge you but not insurmountably hard you will never progress. The game encourages experimentation and growth as a player.

 

 

The game has 10 levels and 21 bosses, 6 melee weapons, 7 primary weapons, and 6 special weapons, each with their own function and feel, that you can collect and upgrade. You can carry one of each and switch them at checkpoints. My personal fave is the Wolf Light primary, the Bastard melee, and Hellwraith special. The Wolf Light fires a constant stream of light that will deal more damage the longer it maintains contact with your target. When your enemy dies, wolf spirits are summoned to spin around the room. These will also damage enemies on the screen. Upgrades increase damage and the number of spirits. The bastard is a slower but stronger sword than you start with and once you upgrade it twice has a special charge ability that boosts your damage for a short time. The hellwraith is basically a chain gun. Each level and boss in the game is unique and has amazing designs.

 

 

The games art and music are top notch, brutal visceral deaths, a heart pounding metal soundtrack, and the main character headbangs when he gets an upgrade, what’s not to love? This game is what modern Contra’s and “Contra likes” wish they could be.

 

 

Valfaris is available now, on PC (STEAM), XBox One, Playstation 4 and Nintendo Switch!

 

 

10 out of 10 and you should definitely go buy it now, don’t miss this great gem!

 


June 16th, 2020 by Darsch
Posted in Game Review, Gaming, Multiplatform, Nintendo, PC, Playstation, Xbox | No Comments »

PC Indie Game Preview:- Empires in Ruins

The bastard child of 4X and Tower defense, with a black humor infused plot, set in a grim, disillusioned world. Quell the rebellion, tame the Western Marches, disobey your orders and save your brandy. Not strictly in this order.

 

 

Darsch Pugs here for Sanitarium.FM and today I am previewing Empires in Ruins. Empires in Ruins is developed and published by Hammer&Ravens and is a mix of 4x and tower defense set in a fictional medieval fantasy world where you are set to task quelling a rebellion in campaign mode or playing the freeplay sandbox mode to a killer soundtrack and humorous writing.

 

 

The core gameplay loop of the game is set up to manage your towns, research new tech, and then attack or defend nodes in a tower defense battle. A lot of the ideas and concepts are pretty common to all 4X games and tower defense games, but here we have a bastardized merger of the two that just seems to work, if in a somewhat clunky way.  You can set members of your army as guards in each providence, or nodes as I like to call them, and this weakens your army for battle but does not seem to be clear exactly how it effects the tower defense game and conversely you can take away guards to add to your army, which has a clear effect on the node but yet again not so much of a clear effect on the tower defense game.

 

 

The story of the campaign is fairly comical, if you enjoy dark humor or shit jokes, fart jokes, and dwarf jokes, it’s pretty low brow and low hanging fruit at times but there is something enjoyable about Sergeant Hans Heimer complaining about not being able to sleep or enjoy his brandy and belittling everyone around him as he deals with this rebellion he finds him self in charge of ending.

 

 

The graphics are pretty minimal, you have basic tiny units running along the ground towards your towers, visual fx are basic too, no major eye candy here.  But that’s not a bad thing though.

 

 

The game does however have an amazing soundtrack, one I find myself wishing I had a copy of for my weekly pathfinder and dungeons and dragons games. The music blends your typical medieval faire with subtle and not so subtle rock tones here and there in a nice blend of what I like to call medieval rock.

 

 

I recommend this title for people looking for something different than the standard tower defense or standard 4x title. The gameplay loop is fun if you like either 4X or Tower Defense and has plenty to offer to those looking for something with a different approach to each genre.

 

~Darsch

 

Empire in Ruins is available now in Early Access on STEAM, head over to the game page and pick up a copy, or join the community in their Discord for more info!


February 15th, 2020 by Darsch
Posted in Gaming, General, PC, Real Time Strategy | No Comments »

Multiplatform Game Review:- Stranded Sails from Lemonbomb Entertainment

Stranded Sails is an open world farming adventure full of discoveries, quests and puzzles! Along with your crew you are ship-wrecked on a mysterious archipelago. Now it’s up to you to secure your survival and solve the mysteries deep in the heart of the islands –and finally escape.

 

 

Stranded Sails – Explorers of the Cursed Islands is an adorable farming RPG from Lemombomb Entertainment. It begins with a group of city dwellers boarding your father’s ship to set sail for a new snow covered frontier. Unfortunately, things don’t go to plan and you sail straight into a storm and end up ship-wrecked on a group of tropical islands. Your mission is to reunite your crew, build temporary shelters, farm crops and explore the islands to break the curse that prevents ships from leaving.

 

 

The animation is bright and cute, and kind of reminds me of cartoon Link in the Legend of Zelda games. The story is simple, but fun and the dialog, though long, is entertaining. My favourite feature of the game was the controls. As someone who cannot use mouse and keyboard for gaming, the controller options were easy to master, replacing item bars with spin wheels to select and equip items.

 

 

The start of the game was actually pretty tedious. I didn’t mind the hand-holding to find and settle the crew, but the limited energy bar was a huge drawback. Your options are to walk from one end of the camp to the other (which becomes boring after the seventh time) or run, which depletes energy faster and means you need a nap halfway through. This became less of a problem once you discovered cooking recipes and had a good batch of crops on the go.

 

 

Your crewmates are pretty useless too. Crops need watering, so when you’re away on another island scavenging for their survival the neighbour overlooking the farm just watches the crops dry out rather than help. Even though there is a chef being amongst your number, she doesn’t cook despite the ‘Stew for the Crew’ mini game. Basically, you choose an ingredient for each islander and if they like it enough, you gain experience. Over time you level up and one of them offers you a free tool upgrade or similar.

 

 

Discovering new personal meal recipes was a lot harder than it needed to be. After randomly throwing ingredients together for about an hour, I finally caved and checked the wiki. It turns out there are rules to cooking, e.g. any meal below Level 4 will be vegetarian. It would have been helpful for those tips to appear on screen, even if just a pop-up tip. Luckily ingredients aren’t used up when discovering. Cooked meals replenish energy and offer boosts which become essential when exploring the further reaches of the map.

 

 

Once I got my crew settled, mastered cooking, fishing, and even managed to get a boat upgrade, I was finally able to explore the stormy islands. I was excited, the training wheels were off and I was finally going to make this curse my bitch, then disaster. As I landed on the beach, the game crashed. Well, not just crashed, it turns out I encountered a game-breaking bug that corrupted my save files. Loading up the game offered me a black screen with the normal overlay menus. I could switch tools, but couldn’t see my character to know what was going on.

 

 

I contacted the developers and have been assured the latest update now fixes that bug, but the heartbreak of losing the 14 hours I had played so far was too much. I couldn’t get passed my frustration to find out what had caused the curse, and how I could fix it. I wouldn’t now know if my crewmates could become useful members of a castaway society, or if we would reach the promised land of snow. I will replay the game once my annoyance subsides enough for me to get through the settlement part again, but for the time being my crew can starve.

 

 

A cute Zelda like game thats marred by tedium and game breaking bugs.  5/10
~Scarlet_Dragon

 

Stranded Sails – Explorers of the Cursed Islands is available now on PC (STEAM, GOG and Humble Bundle), XBox One, Playstation 4 and Nintendo Switch, for more info or to buy, head over to the games website here!


November 19th, 2019 by Scarlet_Dragon
Posted in Game Review, Gaming, General, Multiplatform, Nintendo, PC, Playstation, Xbox | No Comments »

Multiplatform Game Review:- Legend of the Skyfish from Mgaia Studio and Crescent Moon Games

Legend of the Skyfish is a beautiful level-based adventure puzzler with a unique weapon and tool – a fishing pole!

 

 

Friends, Romans, countrymen, I mean inmates and true believers! LEND me your ears! This is Darsch Pugs today with a review of Legend of the Skyfish developed by Mgaia studio and published by Crescent Moon Games. This is an interesting one folks! Legend of the Skyfish labels itself as a level based adventure puzzler,  but I prefer calling it a Zelda like lite if you would.

 

 

The game shares many similarities with some Zelda games, most notably the fishing pole that functions as a weapon and grappling hook ala the hook shot and master sword in the Zelda franchise and switch puzzles to open gates and doors. The grappling hook function can be used to solve puzzles, jump over gaps, and pull and stun enemies so you can then whack them with your fishing pole. there are various fishing polls, hooks, and hoods to get throughout the game hidden in chests. the chest themselves are hidden but when you get close to one your bee friend starts making noise and flashing a treasure chest in a chat bubble on the screen so you know to look around for them, they are not too well hidden as they tend to be along the path you have to take since the game is linear.

 

 

Speaking of linear, it’s a pretty clean cut single path you follow, with plenty of backtracking in some levels to hit all the switches to solve the puzzles, more on them later. The game really lacks in the exploration department and that is something I feel it needed. The levels are beautifully hand crafted and hand painted but short and too linear to the point the game can become boring.

 

 

The game claims to be a puzzler, but the only puzzles is hitting switches to open gates, require very little thought and are more like running an obstacle course to get to said switches to press them or push a giant statue on them. This was a pretty big let down as I had expected a bit more in the puzzle department considering the game has 45 levels and touts having various puzzles to solve, but they are not really puzzles. The difficulty though is perfect for very young fledgling gamers trying out their first adventure game.

 

 

The game’s mechanics are spot on and pretty self explanatory, it’s fun zipping across gaps and smashing enemies with your fishing pole, they are simple, sweet, and intuitive, perfectly balanced as all things should be. Thanos joke aside I had a blast playing the game the first few levels before it turned into tedium for me. The mechanics are great, the game play loop is spot on, but it quickly gets boring as you follow a single path doing the same thing over ad nauseam with no reward except the thrill of victory that feels hollow as you really did not accomplish anything as there was no challenge whatsoever.

 

 

The games art is all hand painted and reminds me of watercolor and oil paint paintings with a touch of Picasso influences in the way the curves of certain details and the faces are painted. The Animation is fluid, and at times I was reminded of classic Disney animated features.

 

 

Legend of the Skyfish is a great game for beginner gamers, but lacks any oomph to keep the more experienced satisfied. I feel it is worth the small $7 USD price tag it currently has on STEAM. It’s not a bad game, but it’s not a great either and is best for younger audiences until the grow into their big gamer controllers.

 

 

Legend of the Skyfish is available now on PC (STEAM), XBox One, Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch and mobile, for more info, head over to the games website for more info.

 

I rate it a 4 out of 10
~Darsch


November 14th, 2019 by Darsch
Posted in Game Review, Gaming, General, Multiplatform, Nintendo, PC, Playstation, Xbox | No Comments »

PC Game Review:- Spaceland by Tortuga Team

Incredibly dynamic turn-based strategy, reviving the traditions of the old school tactics. Lead a team of the most desperate fighters, destroy alien monsters and uncover the secrets of the lost planet.

 

 

Greetings inmates and true believers, this is Darsch again, and this time I bring you Spaceland. Spaceland is a turn-based tactical strategy game developed and published by Tortuga Team. The game is best described as baby’s first XCOM for it is a simpler version of classic titles like XCOM and Incubation. This does not make the game bad, it just lacks the depth of micromanagement other titles have.

 

 

The art in Spaceland is a delightful cartoony almost claymation style of art that is pleasing to the eye and fun to watch with amazing cartoony explosions and special visual effects, it at times is reminiscent of children’s cartoons with sound effects and music to match. I would love to see more games use this art style in the future as it’s just plain fun to interact with.

 

 

The writing on the other hand is some of the worst piss poor storytelling I have had the displeasure of reading. I felt like I was reading a terribly written toddler story book. Character interactions were forced and clunky, story elements were bland and the writing so simple it bordered on the side of insulting. I don’t expect Michael Crichton and R.A. Salvatore levels of writing in my games but I certainly don’t want it to be “Good Night Moon” levels of garbage either.

 

 

The gameplay is a simple balance of click where to move , click the enemy you want to shoot, manage your ammo and action points  which are used to move and shoot and use the limited special abilities like grenades to kill enemies in simple maps that take roughly ten minutes to beat. the gameplay loop is simple, solid, and entertaining. It is great for when you want to play something like xcom but with out all the hardcore in depth mechanics and micromanagement or story. The game has seven rangers to choose from to make your squad, each with their own unique play style and abilities, weapon upgrades and upgrade-able skills, and 20 different types of enemies to encounter and destroy.

 

 

Overall Spaceland is not bad, but its not great either, it suffers from a terribly written story that really holds back the game thus earning it a 3 out of 10 rating instead of a 5, the story and writing is just that terrible.

 

Spaceland is available on STEAM now, for more info, head over to https://store.steampowered.com/app/1021070/Spaceland/

 

 

~Darsch


November 7th, 2019 by Darsch
Posted in Gaming, General, PC, Real Time Strategy | No Comments »

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