Preview: Ama’s Lullaby (PC) ~ Explore and Hack

AmasLullaby_Art_6.jpgKickstarter Page

Today I want to talk about a game that has still a Kickstarter running. The name of the game is Ama’s Lullaby and I have to thank the developer for notifying me about it since this game shows some great promise. This game is an adventure and puzzle game. But, enough stalling, let’s take a look at the currently released material. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the article. 

 

What is this game?

AmasLullaby_Art_2.jpgAma’s Lullaby is a point-and-click adventure game taking place in a cyberpunk environment. In the shoes of Ama, a high potential teenager, you will explore an off-world colony created by machines. By using her laptop’s command-line based system you will be able to hack any network of the city. But every action will have consequences, and Ama will become an easy prey once her identity is unveiled.

That’s the 50-word description the developer gives. As a student in network engineering and a big fan of adventure games, this premise interests me a whole lot. I’m going to be honest, right away. I wish there was a demo of this game already. I want this game in my life, like right now.

From what I have seen in the trailer footage, this game has quite interesting gameplay. But I’m going more in-depth in the next section of my article.

My thoughts

7e97c0d6c91d53a54faee47ddaea309c_original.jpgThe game features very pretty pre-rendered environments. That was something that caught me off guard when I saw the teasers. If this is the alpha stage of the game, consider me hyped. This game is going to look amazing if it has the quality from the teasers throughout the game.

What amazes me more, is that this game is a one-man project. I have a lot of respect for people who create their own games and use mostly or all original assets and content. Speaking from own experience, it’s not easy to create a game from scratch. It requires a lot of work and a lot of dedication.

I admire the honesty of the creator on the Kickstarter. He tells the whole story of the development of the game. He admits trying to get this game from the ground once in the past, but he didn’t succeed. Admitting failure isn’t always easy to do, but the professional way he does it is worth its weight in gold.

In any case, let’s talk about the game again. Something that looks really interesting is the hacking mechanic. In this game, you can also get hacked. And that’s something that made me smile. That mechanic is going to make the game for me. Since it adds that dash of realism to the game that I miss in the hacking mini-games I played in the past.

This game is going to have dialogue trees. This is something I expect more in a RPG-game. But, it might give some interesting puzzles in this game. There are also going to be fight scenes. Here is me hoping that the game doesn’t rely on QTE (quick time events) for the battles.

The game draws its inspiration from Bladerunner in a way. Fun fact, the game is going to be released in 2019. That’s the year the movie was set in too, in a similar ship. Also, taking inspiration from any movie with my favorite actor Harrison Ford is a plus in my book.

Kickstarter

So, at the moment of writing, the game’s Kickstarter is still running. In 12 days, the Kickstarter will be closed. So, if you are interested in seeing this game before everybody else OR supporting this game, go to the Kickstarter page right now!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1005143815/amas-lullaby-a-point-and-click-game-in-a-cyberpunk

 There are also a lot of updates written by the developer and more video’s to see the progress of the game. So, go and have a look to that! I’m keeping an eye on the game as well. Since this game looks really interesting. I can’t wait to see where this game goes. If there is interesting news, I’ll tweet it out! Here are the links to their social media:

Facebook & Twitter

If you still have any questions about the game, go to their social media and ask a question. The developer will reply to your question.

To wrap this article up, I think I have to say in conclusion that this game has a lot of potential. Since it’s a point-&-click adventure game. And those aren’t made often. I can’t wait to see more of this game. Since what I have seen so far, is really good. All the concept art and trailers are getting me hyped!

So, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing this article. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article, but until then; take care and have a great rest of your day!

And the Award for Worst DLC Goes To…..

Fallout: New Vegas- Honest Hearts

I know what you’re thinking: this is bad writing. You shouldn’t reveal the answer immediately. Build some suspense! The reason I chose to do so anyway is not because some people like a tl;dr version, or because I’m pretentious and I do whatever the hell I so desire. No, it’s because I’d like to talk about Fallout first, and why this DLC was so disappointing. Prepare yourselves, because I have a feeling this’ll be a long one again.

In all honesty, I have not played the first two major instalments, though I did acquire them through GOG.com a while back and plan to play them some time. My first introduction was with Fallout 3. It didn’t run well, especially its DLC had serious performance issues, but I revered it nevertheless. It was so much fun. The engine used by Bethesda, its developer, has never been well optimised. Not for PC, not for consoles. Not for Fallout and not for The Elder Scrolls. But this is not a performance analysis, so I won’t go in-depth right now.

I fell in love with the world. Set some 250 years in the future, in a world where people in the fifties thought “Well, this is it: he pinnacle of art, style and technology.” Everything is inspired by old technology and the styling of the fifties. Monochromatic computer screens, old jazz and rhytm & blues music, clothing (what’s left of it), … Even futuristic items seem old. It just oozes with charm.

Story-wise I prefer the third instalment over New Vegas, hands down. I plan on comparing the two in a later article at some point in the future, so I’ll keep it at that for now. I even liked the five DLC-packs that were released. Broken Steel continued the story. It wasn’t incredible, but it was serviceable. Operation Anchorage was fun and brought a tonne of nice, new items to the party. Mothership Zeta was interesting and fun, though the story didn’t grab my as such. Point Lookout was my favourite, with it’s unique swamp location, barely touched by the nuclear bombs, and interesting storyline. And The Pitt was my least favourite, though still well above the quality of the DLC in New Vegas.

In New Vegas, we have four DLC packs, instead of the five in Fallout 3. I maintain that I prefer quality over quantity, so I didn’t complain from the start. But neither really rocked my boat. Maybe I felt less invested, because I find the world of New Vegas less intriguing to begin with, but regardless I should have had some investment.

The first two I played were Dead Money and Lonesome Road. The former annoyed me so much, I considered dropping out of the game entirely. Nothing else in both games gave me this feeling, ever, but this story was uninteresting, and the location was highly unappealing. I take it it was the intention to look unappealing, but it should not be revolting or appalling. I was relieved to finally finish and return to the Mojave.

The latter started very promising, in what looked like an abandoned nuclear missile silo. It was slowly paced and there were very few enemies. It almost seemed like this was created so the player would get invested in the story and atmosphere. A mostly non-combat DLC to teach us more about the world. But things quickly turned around once I progressed and got out of the silo. More combat, a mysterious figure that I couldn’t care less about on the radio, and nothing innovative in terms of world building. Like an Olympic diver performing a perfect reverse two-and-a-half somersault and landing flat on his stomach; promising, yet disappointing.

Then there were two more: Honest Hearts and Old World Blues. The latter had an interesting world in which scientists were isolated in a crater full of interesting locations, where not-so-ethical experiments had been performed. The story was decent and the “fifties-mad-scientist” vibe was fun, but after having been let down by most of the rest of the game, I still didn’t enjoy it as much as I probably should have.

 

Which brings me to Honest Hearts. Set in Utah, an area barely touched by the nuclear war of before, it had a decent setting. That part reminded me of the Point Lookout DLC from Fallout 3. What’s the story like? I couldn’t tell you. I beat it and I have no idea what it was about. How’s that possible? I’ll tell you: poor game design.

Let’s go back to Old World Blues (and in essence, every other map in Fallout for that mattar) for a second. Fallout has always been about exploring, as have all the Elder Scrolls games been. You could freely walk around the map and explore. You’d find new locations and some gave me new side quests, but none of them interfered with the main storyline of the game or any of its DLC.

(Map of Fallout 3, with all discoverable locations)

In Honest Hearts, I immediately became confused when the party I was travelling with all died within two minutes of arrival, and not ten minutes after first being introduced to them. I failed about half a dozen quests because of that, so I decided to load my previous save and try again. They all died again and the same thing happened where I failed a bunch of quests. Slightly aggravated and confused, I decided to look up if I was doing something wrong. Turned out it was a scripted event and could not be prevented, which means it was part of the main storyline.

Now why would I fail half a dozen quests for that? Why would the developers give me the impression that all the members in my party had little side quests they could’ve given me? The only quest remaining right now, was (verbatum) “Recover the map of Zion Canyon.”, pointing at a location all the way in the utmost North-Eastern corner of the map, with me all the way down South.

Everything felt like this was created by a fan or something, not by the actual developers. A mod, maybe. The writing and phrasing of the quests felt off and confusing. And then, a colossal error in judgement… The maps in the DLC are usually not that big, with thirty or so locations, allowing you to explore them in only a few hours. So as I often did, I explored the whole region first. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Especially considering the only quest available right now was “Recover the map of Zion Canyon.”

This has never been an issue. EVER. Not in Point Lookout, not in Old World Blues, not in any of the huge maps of the main storyline of the game. On my travels through the map of Honest Hearts, I encountered a few NPCs who had specific names, not just “Raider” or something else vague. Usually, these are people who are important in some (side) quest. Now in the main game, or any the other DLC packs, if you encounter a place where you find someone with a specific name, they will rarely attack you before engaging you in conversation. This makes sense. It allows you to get involved in some quest or back out of the situation, without killing that person and locking yourself out of a quest.

Not in Honest Hearts, though. I encountered two or three people with an actual name, who all attacked me on sight. I had little choice but to retaliate. They didn’t have any important items on them, like notes are keys to something, so at first I figured they were just minor characters. Why would I assume otherwise, when this game and its predecessor have never worked like that? I figured wrong. They were vital characters; leaders of local tribes. So when I finally explored the whole map and recovered the map of Zion Canyon, my screen went black. I thought the game crashed for a second, until a video started playing about how I had influenced Zion by killing these characters. Tribes disbanded, influences changed, and so on. It talked about everything I had done and I hadn’t done anything yet but explore and recover a map!

FNV

I can’t be the only one who explored before continuing the quest and be surprised by a sudden cut-off. Guess what, turns out I’m not. Turns out more people were kind of angry and confused. Turns out that in the beginning of the story, right after your party members have been killed, a character important to the storyline is somewhere behind or among the attackers and shoots one of them in the back (on the picture above marked with a red box). Me, being all worked up because of the battle, not realising he’s important and since he’s some distance away, I shoot him down. Since this is in the middle of a fight with half a dozen of people at the same time, I didn’t pay attention to the fact that he had a specific name. Killing him causes his tribe to turn hostile and in turn creates a ripple effect throughout the whole community of tribes, causing their leaders to attack me on sight too.

I guess, “technically”, it’s my fault for not paying attention to every single person on screen during a battle and thinking “Ooh, is he an enemy or someone important?”. I apologise for being kind of busy fighting for my life while bullets whiz around my head. I also apologise for having been confused by the demise of my recently acquainted party members, including the leader, who I though would be integral to the story and with me for the most part of the game. I should have played this open-world game more linearly, and I’m equally sorry I could not resist the urge to explore first, rather than ignore the world the developers have so painstakingly created around me, and just hurry through the quests.

Oh wait, no I’m not. This is crap and they should be ashamed.

EDIT: This, of course, is not the worst DLC ever and I’m sure plenty of people enjoyed it, but it felt really frustrating, and I do maintain the beginning of this DLC is highly confusing from the beginning and that little mistake at the beginning ruined the whole storyline for me. That’s what bothers me most and it’s poor design.

Review #017: Delver (PC – Steam) ~ Thou Shall Explore!

imagesOfficial website

Notice: While I do realize that this game is also on Android, I review the Steam PC version here. 

Notice about the screenshots: All these screenshots are taken early in the game, since it are screenshots of MY playthrough. It’s a rouge game, so it’s random each time. But feel free to use my screenshots if you need them. 

As a kid I always dreamed of running around in caves and dungeons to explore for loot. I even wrote some stories about it. And my favorite genre of gaming has a lot to do with it. I love myself some great adventure games. But does Delver deliver? How good is it actually? It’s really cheap on Steam and is it worth buying this game while it’s developing? That’s what I’m going to answer today while playing the new October 2013 update. This review might be shorter then my usual reviews since this game has no every element I usually use to review. We shall see how it turns out. Anyways, let me know in the comments your thoughts about this game and/or this review. 

Let’s “delve” into this!

249630_2013-11-01_00001The game starts off on a path right to the dungeon. The cool thing is, as you die, you don’t have to start completely from square one. You can buy things from the stores. Of course, that depends on how much gold you have obtained from your last run. But here is a flaw in the game that surely will be patched in a future update. I don’t see how much gold I have left. So yeah, that’s annoying. 

The game has a small story, if I can remember correctly. At the start, there are two diary entries you can collect. Yet, starting a new game, I noticed that it’s just some hints. So, according to what I know, this game has no real story. And that isn’t a loss since this game benefits from this. Since each floor and dungeon is randomized.

The game is all about exploring the dungeon. And not about that you should save a princess or something. The goal is to get to the bottom floor and get an orb. With this orb you can escape again. Honestly, I haven’t yet been able to return with the orb.

Great, greater and greatest!

249630_2013-11-01_00002While it adds to the atmosphere of this game, this can become annoying. Like you see in the screenshot, the game is pretty dark. If you are in a well lite room, you might not see many things because of the light. I truly advice to play this game in a somewhat darker room.

The controls are excellent. I never felt that it was the game’s fault of a death. Deaths are permanent! So if you die, you are dead. No respawing, no loot drops. Nothing, only your gold. And this makes for a great challenge. Once you have some great stuff, you don’t want to die. You fight on.

Something I also really like is how the loot works. You don’t get better loot from the stronger enemies. No, you can get a better sword by killing a simple bat. Speaking about bats and flying enemies, there is a problem with them. Their hitbox seems to bit a bit off. This causes some moments where I clearly hit the bat yet, it took no damage.

A great addition to this update is how the game now displays status effects and it’s timer. When you drink a random potion, you now know what it means when the game tells you “you feel warm”. Also, the leveling up system is a great thing. I feel that it’s more fine tuned then before the update. And I really like it. The stats aren’t overly difficult. They are straight forward. For example, a weapon will say that it can do from 5 to 10 damage. So, if you level up your attack stat, you will easily do the most damage possible with that given weapon.

Managing the inventory is a joy. You need to be on a safe spot since the inventory, like Minecraft, doesn’t pause they game. And dear developer, when you pause a game, the music should stop as well. Anyways, the dragging around of items is a blast. And the ability to pick up items while being in the inventory screen and drag it into it. Great!

Not that easy!

249630_2013-11-01_00003

Here is another complaint. The picking up of items from the ground with your action key is a bit frustrating. I had several moments where it didn’t pick up at all. Since there seems to be a set region to be able to pick it up.

The fact that you don’t regenerate health is great. It makes the game more tense. I had several moments where I needed to hide for enemies.

But let’s leave it at that for the gameplay. I haven’t covered it all, but hey, if you’re interested, go check out the game. Okay, let’s look at the length of this review… Wow, I have talked more about it then I expected and I have a few things left to say. Okay, less stalling more reviewing!

The artwork of this game is beautiful! I really like the art style they went with here. Retro graphics and great animations give this game a different look and sets it apart from all the others. This game really sucks me in to it’s great gameplay and the visuals actually convinced me to buy the game.

The length might not be that long, but the replay value is extremely high. Since it’s always randomized. In addition to that, the game is a challenge. A real challenge. You can be in luck and get pretty deep into the dungeon. (If needed, this is a moment to get your mind out of the gutter). Or you can have though luck and die really soon.

An advise that I would give the developer too is that there should be more music tracks. The sound and everything is amazing yet, I think there are a handful music tracks and it would be a lot better if there were more.

So, I’ll leave it at this note. Let’s go to the conclusion!

Conclusion

The good:

+ Unique gameplay.

+ Great artwork.

+ High replay value.

+ No annoying story to bother you.

+ Great challenge.

+ Randomized dungeons.

The bad:

– More music would be great.

– There are a few kinks to work out with the flying enemies.

– Picking up objects is a tad bit frustrating.

Conclusion:

In my reviews I don’t cover every single thing about the game. Like in this review I didn’t talk about the AI, map system, magic and so on and so forth. With the intention that if you are interested, that you try it out for yourself and that there are still things to learn about the game while you play it. Like the traps.

This game really benefits from playing it yourself. I really like it and often in study breaks for college I play a quick round of Delver. Like a floor or 5… I really need to pay attention with it since when it sucks you in, it won’t let you go easily.

With some more work, this game will become a gem that everyone should play. I truly had trouble finding bad things about this game. But the things I found are flaws that can be patched. And the music is great, yet more music would be lovely. Thanks for reading and until the next time!

Score: 90 / 100

Review #007: Beastie Bay (Andriod) review ~ Let’s go exploring.

beastie-bay-cover-600x369

Wiki page of this game

Alright guys, let’s go for a game on a platform I never expect to create reviews on. I wrote a review on this game before but that was rather summing up the good and bad parts in a list. But I’m going to expand on my forum review of this game and I’m going to give it a proper full review now that I played it even more. This game is free on the Android Market and the App Store and is made by the Japanese developer KarioSoft who is also known for great games like Game Dev Story. This game really took me many times back to my tablet. Is this game my guilty pleasure or is it actually good and fun to play? Let’s dive right into Beastie Bay.

What is this game?

images

Saying that this is an adventure game, I would tell you that you are correct. You would be right too if you said it’s a simulator. But I would also agree if you say it’s a RPG. This game covers multiple genres quite nicely.

The gameplay is extremely well and is actually pretty deep for a mobile game. At the start you get the basics explained and from there you can discover the game on your own. I love it how games do that, leave things up for the community or you to discover.

But one complaint I have is that the controls to place buildings are a bit uneasy. Even the cursorpad you get doesn’t help that much since it can get annoying to work with. You have to play the game to understand what I mean here but the controls are the best they can get but they don’t 100% work.

But for a mobile game it’s impressive how they get all these controls on a touchscreen without cluttering up the UI too much. I’m blown away that I feel like my complaint is such a nitpick that you actually can overlook it.

But back to the gameplay. You need to survive. It wasn’t too clear at the start to me that you needed to place your farms close to your allies and other villagers or they don’t get harvested. Did I loose a lot of wood because of that. And here comes one major complaint with this game.

When your island grows, you can set shops for villagers of nearby islands to come and buy things. But if that villager finds wood, it doesn’t go to your resource pile. Nope, it goes to their shop. For that reason, I have to recruit a lot of new allies to just surround them with tree farms. This is something that the developers easily could improve on.

Explore the seven seas.

beastiereview6102

I like exploring as much as the next guy, but in this game, it’s extremely limited. You actually give orders to the AI to explore a certain area. And actually, it works. When you encounter an enemy you can start fighting the enemy in a sort of Final Fantasy-ish battle.

This is extremely fun and adds more depth to the game. But here we bump into the “not so free” part of this game. To remove level caps in the game, you’ll need a lot of golden coins. You barely ever get them in the game, sometimes by just playing, but you can get a lot by actually buying them with real hard cash.

But if you are in for some grinding, there is a way how you can get many coins easily, but that’ll take up some time. And I’ll leave that up for you guys to figure out by yourself.

The story is actually not present in this game. You are stranded on an island together with your ally and you go and explore and try to survive. And somehow, this game doesn’t need a story. This game is pretty fine how it is.

The gameplay might be simple but it’s not easy. Some dungeons and area’s will get difficult really quick.  Also, some parts of the game really made me scratch my head in confusion since I didn’t understand how the game wanted me to do.

How good is it really?

beastie-bay-eolienne-670x327


With KairoSoft, I notice a sort of tradition. The graphics are extremely well done. They are borrowed from their other titles but it’s how you recognize them.

But then the music. I swear that there aren’t more then 5 to 6 tracks in the whole game, and you need to listen to one track over and over again. This gets old extremely fast. The sound effects are over the most line the same for many actions and somethings could have used some soundeffects in my opinion.

Also, the shops are crazy expensive and the game has so many menu’s you easily get lost and you might have to make a to-do list.

In addition to that, trying to capture creatures is a big guessing game which bait they might like. In addition to that, it’s so rare that they actually like that bait, you end up with almost never recruiting allies.

The day and night cycle is actually a pretty nice touch. It made me often rush to a dungeon since I wanted to try to catch a certain creature or defeat one since they gave a lot of XP.

The game is pretty lenghty too. You won’t finish this game in one sitting. I actually advise you to play this game in short bursts, like no longer then a hour or two. Since playing this game for long times can get you bored. This is a game meant to be played in short bursts.

So, I have been talking for quite a while about a mobile game, it’s time to wrap things up before I go running in circles.

Conclusion

The good:

+ Addictive gameplay.

+ Very varied.

+ Extremely well made controls, with some slight flaws but they work.

+ This game can be hard here and there but with dedication you will get there.

+ Amazing graphics.

The bad:

– Music and sounds.

– Grinding.

– The difficulty goes up way to fast.

– Sometimes the game is a bit overwhelming.

– Most upgrades and shop items are way to expensive.

Final thoughts: 

This game isn’t for everybody. It’s a game with some flaws. Plus, you need to be able to look over ads. It’s a great game and surely worth a play in my eyes but it isn’t a big game you would be putting your PS3 down for.

Yet, this game is excellent to play while on the road or waiting for the doctor. You easily see that the developers put their hearts and souls into this game and they deserve your download.

Score: 70/100