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First Impression: Cave Digger (PC – Steam) ~ Diggy Diggy Dig. (Non-VR Version)

capsule_616x353-1Steam store page

At least once every two or three months, I get an email from a developer who is asking me to review their VR-game. I always have to decline since I quite easily get migraine attacks from VR headsets and that’s one of the main reasons why I don’t play VR and don’t even own a VR headset. Now, why am I taking a look at a VR game then? Well, because the developers of “Cave Digger” made a non-VR version of this game and asked me to write an honest review about their game. So, a VR game that went “Non-VR”, is it any good, or should it remain a VR-game? Let’s dive right into the caves while I invite you to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article. (A press code was provided by the developer to write this article)

Diggy Diggy Dig

Cave-Digger-PC-Edition-3dIn this game, you play as a digger for the Frontier. For the first part of the game, the story doesn’t have a big hook to pull you in. But, the further you get into the game, the bigger the actual hook gets. If you want to enjoy most of the story in this game, I highly advise you to take the second radio station on your train since it describes the mystery a lot better. More on that later.

The goal in this game is that you not only uncover the mystery in this game but you also rebuild the city with the riches you find down in the caves. The more you explore the cave, the more information you get from hidden parts of the caves where a lot of jewels and riches reside that might help you earn more money and buy more upgrades. 

So, what is the mystery about? To stay as spoiler-free as I can, it’s about a hidden ancient civilization that might still be alive or too advanced for our human race. So, in the alternative western setting, you have to make a decision about what to do. I have been playing this game for 3 to 4 hours now and I haven’t met another human character… Physically that is. Most of the story is told over the radio. And I do have a complaint about it. 

The voice acting of the characters is good. It pulls you into the story without an issue. Now, English isn’t my native language and while I’m quite good at speaking it, sometimes I enjoy it when there are subtitles when a word or an expression is used that I don’t know. Sadly enough, this game doesn’t have subtitles. That’s a big bummer. 

It would have been great if there was some sort of archive of previous broadcasts. It would be a great help to those who took a (long) break while playing this game to catch up at what’s happening or to re-listen again in case you missed some parts. 

At first, I thought that this game was going to be quite linear, but that is far from the truth. Since this game has 9 different endings. Yes, the replay value of this game is quite high. Now, I haven’t encountered one of the endings so far but I’m quite curious to see them. So, when I have beaten the game and I write a follow-up review article, I’ll talk more in-depth about the endings. One thing I’m going to say already is that there funny and interesting easter eggs in this game that add a whole lot of charm to the game.

Two Ways Exploration

There are two ways you can explore, you can go to the elevator and the train. The main game is going on an adventure with your train. But, it’s easy to earn money by exploring with the elevator. You need to do both since some items to progress in the game without going into a crazy grinding mode is by buying the items at the elevator. 

The gameplay of the “two modes” are also quite different. In the elevator, you can have secret vault doors, but I don’t know how to interact with them. Most likely, I haven’t found the correct tool. You also get three different stages where you get 30 seconds to mine out resources or collect artifacts. After 30 seconds, you move on to the next section. I find that it’s quite easy to throw a stick of dynamite to the walls and use the vacuum glove to collect all the gems before they disappear into the edges of the elevator. Oh yes, that happens during the transition of the sections as well. 

So, let’s talk about train exploration. With this train, you go into the caves where you have various places you can go to get materials and explore. At first, the train goes extremely slowly but the further you upgrade your train, the faster you will be able to travel. Thankfully, there are warp points to certain landmarks so you don’t have to restart your whole travel each and every run. 

The tutorial only explains the basic controls. But the rest is up to you to actually figure out on your own. How you safely extract fossils and oil from the caves, it’s up to you to figure out. Even what the strange golden statues are doing on several dig sites.

Now, to collect the goodies, you have to throw them in the deposit box in your train. Before I got the glove, I found it extremely annoying to pick up the items one by one and deposit them. When I discovered that the glove allows you to suck up several items at once, I found that the game opens up a lot more. Also, it doesn’t take long before you meet your chest buddy who is also a deposit point and even eats up whole piles of gems and deposits them for you. 

Now, this lack of tutorial is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it makes the game a bit more challenging and it feels more rewarding when you figure something out and solve a puzzle. On the other hand, things like the fact that the glove is a vacuum don’t get explained and might turn some people off from this game… 

Something I can forgive is the fact that this game can be a bit repetitive. If you are interested in this game, I highly recommend that you play this game in short bursts since otherwise, this game might become quite boring. 

Something is wrong, I can feel it.

To be quite honest with you, I felt quite conflicted while writing this article. Since there is a lot that this game does right but the mistakes that this game makes are quite major. 

A great example of this is the visual presentation. Visually, this game looks amazing. The environments are detailed and feel life-like. For example, there is a volcano level in the elevator and you really feel that you are mining in an extremely hot place. In terms of animations, it’s good. Nothing too groundbreaking but good. 

Yet, there are several moments where I thought: “shouldn’t there be some visual to tell the player you are breaking this rock?” or “why does my drill always get so zoomed in when I walk very close to walls?”  or “why isn’t there a fuse animation on the dynamite?” … There are several more of these questions in the visual department, sadly enough. There isn’t enough feedback from the game to the player to communicate if they are hitting or missing a rock for example and this breaks the immersion fast. 

And it pains me to say that the smooth and stable visual presentation isn’t the only victim to this problem. The controls are as well. In most cases, the controls of this game work amazingly. I rarely felt like I was cheated out of something or that the game was unresponsive. Yet, I felt that the vacuum didn’t always work as I was expecting, and carrying around items to other places felt a bit … janky. Sometimes I dropped an item with me being unable to explain why my character dropped the item. 

But there also problems with the audiovisual presentation. The soundtrack of this game is just amazing. The variety of tracks in this game is just perfect. I really enjoy the fact there are different genres present in this game apart from all old-western-style music. The sound effects are pretty neat as well but don’t always play consistently. Sometimes they don’t play and sometimes they play for too long. Sounds that don’t always play are the drill when you are excavating relics and sounds that play too long are your gloves when you are using the super punch and cancel it. 

Not even the UI gets saved in build 2020-08-25. For some reason, there are still controller controls in the level bottom of the pause menu… while I don’t have a controller connected. On top of that, the counter for the number of unlocked endings is completely wrong. Just look at this screenshot to see both issues:

So yeah, it pains me to see this since you can clearly see that the rest of the UI is fine and works great. You can see your current main objective and your special mission to gain additional resources but mistakes like I mentioned above are just giving this game a sort of “beta” feel.

Now, most of the issues I mentioned so far I can personally overlook to a certain degree. Yes, they are annoying and they make the game less enjoyable but not unplayable for me. Yet, the thing that makes the game a bit unplayable in my opinion is the fact there is no real way to lose this game. There is no real danger in this game lurking. There is even no punishment for jumping in the ravine, you simply respawn next to your train.

So, is this game a bad or a good game? On one hand, this game is extremely relaxing and maybe it isn’t so bad that there isn’t a lot of danger lurking over your shoulder so you can enjoy the game at your own pace. Yet, on the other hand, I got a bit bored during parts of this game since I didn’t feel challenged at all.

I think the best conclusion is this. This game is perfectly balanced, as all things should be. While it has (huge) flaws that can turn people away, there are a lot of good things that can draw others in. I honestly think that with some more depth and polish, this game can become a real hit but in it’s current state, I think it will become a footnote in history.

Now, I think the big problem I have with this game is that I have played a game that did this concept a whole lot better in my opinion. I’m talking about SteamWorld Dig. Maybe I’m comparing this game and that game a bit too much in my mind diminishing my experience with this game. But, that makes this game: not a bad game. Since I enjoy trying to get the achievements in this game.

As I said earlier, I’m conflicted about this game. On one hand, I enjoy this game and I would recommend it to people who enjoy games like Minecraft or Steamworld Dig, but on the other hand, I don’t want to recommend this game since it needs a lot more work to be enjoyed by more than a niche audience. Also, I haven’t played the VR version of this game. Maybe that version is more polished.

Maybe when I finish all the endings, I might be able to form better opinions on this game. And who knows, maybe by then a few patches are released that improve the game and I might praise this game a lot more in my review. But for now, I think I’m going to wrap up this article. Thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!

NekoJonez’s June 2018 Update

DSC_0956It’s almost time, time to start the summer of 2018. But, today I want to talk to you guys and girls. My readers. I want to share some things that are happening behind the screens and what you can expect from my blog for the remainder of 2018. Since this is quite an important update article. So, here we go. As usual, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your thoughts and such. 

The second half of 2018

emulatorsI can’t promise that I’ll be able to write 1 or 2 articles/day during this summer. The reason for that I’ll get into later. But, I do have some plans for the second half of 2018. d

First of all, I have finally found all the writers for the Tomb Raider project. If you still want to aid me in an amazing blogging journey about the Tomb Raider franchise, you can still contact me. But, that means you might get a special task.

When is the Tomb Raider project going to release? Well, for the moment I can’t say a date since I have to work out everybody’s schedule and I need to find the time for that myself.

So, besides the Tomb Raider project, what will you see in 2018 from me? Well, the big issue is that I have played a ton of games I have written about in the “First Impression” format. In addition to that, the play sessions I had with some games weren’t long enough yet to have a review. In addition to that, I have something that’s the total opposite of a writer’s block.

There is such a huge list of games I still want to write about but I haven’t gotten around to it. It’s such a huge list, I actually don’t know where to start. Besides that, the garage sale season has started and I have expanded my collection with a lot of games. So, my best guess is that soon you will see articles on those games.

Something you won’t see in the near future is me publishing a press kit. Looking at the numbers those articles pull in, I’m certain that people not really like them. For now, I’m not going to publish press kits for a while.

If you want to have my latest updates, I highly recommend you follow me on my Twitter. If you aren’t following me on there, this might be a reminder to do so. I’m quite humbled to see that I almost 500 followers on there.

Also, I have no idea if I’ll still be able to log in to 2018. Since the new EU copyright laws are going to make things extremely difficult to link articles, use pictures of games… Please, read up about it since content creation for the smaller people is going to become difficult. If I’m misunderstanding things, please tell me in the comment section down below what’s happening. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, here are three articles about this issue of Article 11 & 13.

https://www.theverge.com/2018/6/20/17482554/eu-european-union-copyright-filter-article-11-13-passes-juri-vote

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/jun/20/eu-votes-for-copyright-law-that-would-make-internet-a-tool-for-control

https://www.eff.org/nl/deeplinks/2018/w06/eus-copyright-proposal-extremely-bad-news-everyone-even-especially-wikipedia

That’s all about my blog, now, I do have a few personal things to share in the next section of this article.

Personal life and stuff

So, the World Cup is happening. And I do have to admit, I’m a fan of watching those games. As a matter of fact, while I was writing this article I was also watching a game. Now, I think it’s quite clear for which team I’m mostly rooting for. It’s the Red Devils from Belgium, my home country.

While personally, I don’t see them actually winning the cup, I see them going to the semi-finals. I can’t wait to see their game versus England in a few days since that’s going to be one of the most enjoyable games to watch during this World Cup. For those who don’t know, a lot of the Red Devils actually play in the English Premier League.

That said, something else is going to eat up my time as well. Since I pass the final subject of my degree, I’m going to start my final project this summer. That means I have to make writing a huge paper and do some networking. Starting from November till December, I’ll have to go 3x a week to class while working full time. That’s going to be nuts. Oh, and during that time, I’ll have to write that paper and do all the research.

At the moment, I have put in a proposal for my final project. If it’s accepted, it’s going to be a dream of a project where I’m allowed to do various experiments to upgrade a network and expand it. Also, the mentor of that project is an amazing guy. He taught me a lot of the tricks in computer science I still use to this day. So, here is me hoping that my proposal gets accepted.

If I get a passing grade on that paper in December, I finished my graduate degree. So, apologies in advance if there is a “drought” of articles from now till December. My final project and my personal life are going to eat up most of my time. I might try to write up some backlog of articles where I can just change the date and hit the publish button, but no promises. That’s why I said earlier in the article that I can’t promise a 1-2 article/day period during this summer.

Now, there is something else I wanted to talk about. While all of this is happening, my own mental health is taking a nosedive. Due to, what I hope are obvious, privacy reasons I’m not going in-depth about it on this blog but I’m not doing well lately. There are days that I feel like an emotional wreck and there are days that I get easily pissed off. I’m working on it, but it’s heavy.

2018 has been an extremely rough year for me. There is a bit too much happening to keep up with. While you could argue that I could take a break from writing but it’s actually helping to keep me sane. The issue is the motivation, on certain days I don’t feel motivated to anything productive. So, please, don’t hate me if I delay some articles because of that reason.

If you have questions about my mental health, feel free to ask them to me in private chats. But, you don’t have to worry about me too much. I’m around me befriended bloggers who are there to aid me when things get rough and I’m also in a great network of (professional) people who are helping me to get better.

And that’s all I want to say publically for now about my mental health. I hope you understand I won’t go into details.

All in all, this year is going to be nuts for me. I’m thankful for all the support I got throughout the years and I can’t wait to talk about the games I have played recently. With the Tomb Raider project and my final project for college, I have quite a busy end of the year. But, 2019 will be a more relaxed year for me. At least, I hope.

In any case, thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article on my blog but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.

First Impression: Europa Universalis IV (PC ~ Steam) – Thank you Mizari.

EuropaUniversalisIV_Packshot_editedLink to the official website

For the people who read my blog often, they might know that one of my best friends is Mizari. I often call him MiseryLC or anything among those lines. One of his favorite games is Europe Universalis IV. Recently I decided to give it a try with him myself. The gameplay and the genre looked interesting to me, so I bought it while it was on sale. After playing almost 40 hours in about a week or so, I think it’s safe to say that I’m having quite a lot of fun! So, shall we take a look at this game and what first impressions it left on me? The issue is, in order to write a review for a game, I have to beat it. While you can “beat” this game, you can restart it with and play it in another way. So, I think I’ll write a review after I played around 150+ hours of this game. So, that said, it’s time to start talking about this game, and as usual, feel free to leave a comment on the game and or the content of this article. 

Age of Empires?

2015-03-09_00001

When it comes to games where you need to build your own empire(s), I prefer the gameplay of Age of Empires and Age of Mythology. So, when I first started to play this game, I was quite confused. I might have looked over the tutorial but I haven’t seen one. Thankfully, Mizari is showing me the ropes. It’s quite handy to have a friend to play this game with.

When you start to get the hang of the game, it gets quite interesting. There isn’t any story in the game as far as I have noticed, since it’s one that you can make yourself. In our multiplayer sessions I play as Russia and he plays as the Ottomans. I don’t think that the Russians and the Ottomans ever formed a friendship.

 Numbers game.

2015-03-08_00001At first, I thought that most of this game would be a number game where higher stats would mean a better country. Let me tell you that it isn’t the case. Your goal is not only to manage a country but also you need to manage the relationships with other countries and such. When you don’t improve it at frequent intervals, you could get into trouble.

In my early multiplayer sessions, I regularly got attacked by other countries. I wasn’t that careful in managing my military points so I got attacked. But when countries that were afraid of MiseryLC’s empire also started attacking me, all I had to do was improve the relationship with his country and the attacks stopped. This makes it more then just a numbers game. It gives a realistic vibe to the game where time is just indicated by numbers.

The big issue is, that when you are just a beginning player there is way too much to play with. I found the tutorial when I wrote this part of the article, and only seeing three lessons, made me facepalm. The depth of this game, you can’t really explain that in three sessions. Well, you could but you might risk that you overflow the new player with too much information at once.

If you want to start playing this game, I highly recommend that you first play the game with a sort of guide. Don’t play in IronMan mode, since you can’t “roll back” choices. Speaking about that, there is one thing that is disappointing to me. You can only unlock achievements in IronMan mode. I think it would be better otherwise. I might be looking over a logical reason for why it’s ‘Ironman only’… but I hope that isn’t the case.

Nitpicking

2015-03-08_00002

This game updates a lot, which can be annoying sometimes. During my play sessions I had a few nitpicks. Recently, MiseryLC and I started a new game where we would play content from the quite recently released DLC “El Diablo”. It’s kind of neat that somebody who doesn’t own the DLC is able to play the game and it’s content then as well. But you play with a very unstable game then. My game crashed 3-4 times in 20-ish minutes.

I was able to fix it by buying the DLC myself and then play with him. While there is a lot of DLC for this game, various ones are simply cosmetic. Now that I think of it, a handful are just music packs.

Talking about that, the music for this game is outstanding. In my previous (music) article I actually talked about a track that I really liked. But often, I had moments where my country was in war and relaxing music was playing. This actually took me out of the experience. But a neat kind of hidden feature is that when you hover over the date, the title of the song actually is shown.

So, this game is amazingly polished and I already lost various hours to it. I plan to play it for even more and probably write a more in-depth review of game. But there is so much to cover, the length of my usual “first impression” articles don’t quite cut it.

Apart from some irritating bugs, that sometimes get patched a few hours after they have been found, and some odd things here and there… The game is quite fun. Also, the search option to look for provinces is such a god send. Without it, I would had more rebels in my country then there are M&M’s in a M&M bag.

Anyways, I think I have said most of the things I wanted to talk about this game. I hope you enjoyed my first look at this game and if you are interested in the game, I advise you to not buy it with the DLC included. Since those can add some new gameplay layers that might make the already quite overwhelming game even more overwhelming. But once you get used to how the game plays, the hours can fly by really quickly. Just giving you that warning.