Review: Gas Station Simulator (PC – Steam) ~ Let’s Fill ’em Up

Steam storeOfficial Twitter

Sometimes, a game just piques my interest. When I saw a game called Gas Station Simulator, I directly wondered… how is this going to work? Especially since we are talking about a gas station in the middle of nowhere. So is this title worthy of your time, or should you skip it? Or maybe wait until it’s more developed? Well, in this article you’ll find my thoughts and opinions on this game. Feel free to leave your thoughts and/or opinions on the game and/or the content of this article in the comment section down below.

Let’s fill ’em up

In this game, you’ll play as an unnamed character who bought up an old gas station in the desert along a busy road. It’s your goal to bring back this station to its former glory. Your shady uncle is here to help you via the telephone.

When you arrive at the station, it’s in disrepair. There is not only trash everywhere, all the walls need a new lick of paint, the store attached to the gas station is totally gone and so on and so forth. With step by step missions, this game teaches all the different mechanics to you. These missions are a tutorial in disguise, but it doesn’t hold your hand. You are free to complete the objectives in any order you want, and you are also free to choose when you go to the next objective. Of course, you won’t be able to upgrade your gas station to the next level without completing all required missions.

Now, if you would play this game only to complete the missions, this game is rather short. It took me around 10-ish hours to beat all missions. Yet, there is more to this game after you have beaten all the missions. There are a lot of upgrades you can purchase to enhance the environment of the gas station. Most of them, but not all, are cosmetic in nature and don’t do anything to attract more customers.

Currently, there is a cheap DLC called Can’t Touch This out for this game. Personally, I recommend buying this DLC as well. Since it not only adds a small bit of post game, but it also adds a lot of new options to customize the look and feel of your gas station, and it’s totally worth it’s price.

This game also has achievements. At the moment of writing, this game has 91 achievements. Currently, I have played this game for give or take 25 hours and I have 80% of the achievements. Most of these achievements are easy to get. Others are a bit trickier to get and require either some luck or some practice. Especially the carting mini-game, to get that achievement you’ll have to become very good. Sadly, those cart controls don’t work for me. But, I’ll talk about the controls later.

Usually, in the first section of a review I talk about the story, the characters, and voice acting. Overall, the story is nothing special. It takes a backseat pretty quickly, and it’s mostly an excuse to string the missions together in a coherent way. Which is for this game a good thing, since it ups the replay value of this game.

Now, I want to talk about the voice acting in this game. Overall, the voice acting is decent, but I do have some things that I’d like to critique. I have nothing to remark on the performance of the voice actors. It sounds pretty good. But, the amount of voice lines is just lacking and plays in strange places. It doesn’t take long before you hear the same voice line over and over again. In addition to that, some voice lines play in situations where they don’t fit at all. For example, I heard a customer shout in the store when the register mini-game failed… “Look what you did to my car!”. I mean, how can a check-out in a store do that?

On top of that, I find it a missed opportunity that some situations don’t have voice acting at all. Your staff doesn’t have any voice acting. Also, as soon as customers step in their car, they have lost their voice as well. So, you’ll never hear a driver shouting to another driver to move. Also, you’ll never hear a customer shout when they aren’t being served.

These things break the atmosphere of the game a bit. It’d give the game a bit more life and immersion when customers only said the appropriate lines in the correct places and the staff would also talk. For example, a simple “Understood” or “On it, boss” when giving them assignments would go a long way.

Let’s play the balance game

So, what’s the gameplay in this game? Well, in the end there are few things your gas station has when you have completed all the missions. Each area has its own little mini-game that’s quick to get the hang of and has its own challenges.

The first is a place to fuel. In this place, you’ll have to fuel the cars of your customers. In this mini-game you have to press the left mouse button until the gauge reaches a certain level. The closer you stop pressing the left mouse button to the ordered amount, the better you get paid.

The second area that will unlock is the store. The mini-game in there is you have to scan all the items of the customer, while keeping the belt clean. As soon as an item either leaves the mini-game area OR drops in the basket without being scanned, you’ll lose that customer when you scanned all their items.

The next area that unlocks is the garage. In there, you’ll have to repair cars. The more you upgrade your garage, the more defects can be fixed with their own little steps. The garage is something you shouldn’t ignore since at the end of the game, this is the biggest source of revenue.

The final thing that unlocks is the car wash. This is a manual car wash where the mini-game is as simple as spraying the car down with water and remove as much of the dirt you can. All in all, this is quite late game and honestly, I leave it closed.

Here are a few examples of things you’ll have to do while serving customers. These are: managing your staff, making sure everything is clean, and the roads are drive-able, making sure you don’t run out of stock for the fuel tank/the garage or the store, unloading deliveries… Honestly, as soon as you get into the micromanaging of it all, you don’t have the time to keep open the car wash. If only you could put your staff to work to unload deliveries or to stock the store/garage OR even do the car wash…

And when you think, that’s all… No, there is the reputation mechanic as well. As soon as you complete a mini-game successfully, you’ll get a few reputation points that can upgrade your popularity level. The higher that level is, the better upgrades you can purchase. But, when you fail a mini-game, you’ll get negative points, and you’ll need to earn them again. There are also optional missions for bonus reputation points after you completed the story missions.

To be honest, it can become overwhelming quite quickly. Especially when you unlocked all area’s. This is why I’m so happy you can close the car wash, and you can enable/disable certain random events in the options’ menu. Don’t want to have to deal with Dennis, who vandalizes your walls? You can turn him off. Don’t want to have to deal with the rush hour party bus? You can turn that off as well. Don’t want to make sure you close your warehouse to avoid stealing? That’s something you can turn off as well. The late game challenge missions are something else.

And the final thing you can turn off, and something I turned off is the sandstorm event. This is a random event that ruin your roads and make them not drive-able and create a pile up. This is a big problem since there is only a certain amount of cars that can be present in your gas station. You can solve this issue with your excavator, but the controls for that are quite tough to control in my opinion. You also have to be extremely precise in order to scoop up the sand, and you can’t dump it anywhere else besides a sandpit at the edge of your station. It’s a mechanic that breaks the flow of the game for me, so I turned it off.

I’m convinced that while talking about all the different area’s your station will have at the end… I forgot to talk about a few mechanics. But overall, this game is a balancing act. You have to juggle various tasks to make sure your gas station runs smoothly, so you don’t have to loan money from uncle. It’s something you can do, but you’ll have a time limit to pay him back. “Or else, Uncle has other ways to earn his money back.”

The reason I can’t tell you what the consequence is, is because it’s extremely easy to pay uncle back when you use it wisely. I never had any moment where I was in trouble of not being able to pay uncle. I mostly used his loan when I was low on stock for the garage and after repairing a few cars, I was able to pay him back easily.

Now, let’s talk about decoration. First, the painting. You can paint your gas station. But, I honestly feel that this mechanic doesn’t work too great. The mini-game to stay in the green area of a slowly rotating circle is annoying and boring and there is no way to cancel when you selected the wrong color. There is also no way to paint the selling in the building itself. You can only paint the roof. Oh, and when you install additional bathrooms, forget painting them. Since, you are unable to enter those. Which is annoying, since the paint decays in this game, so you’ll have to reapply paint after a while and it’s so frustrating to see the dirty paint back there without being able to get there.

In general, all spots are quite easy to reach apart from a few spots in the storage area and the garage. The spots in the storage area are just a bit to reach and the spots in the garage are blocked because the tire rack is in the way and the game thinks you want to fill the tire rack.

Also, you can order a paint job, but this is something I did once and regretted right away. Since, I had a color scheme I got used to and this paint job paints almost everything white. It’d be so much more useful if the color you put on the wall is remembered and for example, for some additional charge that color is applied.

To be honest, I haven’t played too much with the decoration mechanics. I find the default gas station more then enjoyable to play with and first I want to be able to purchase all other decorations before creating a totally new store.

Running out of gas?

This game is being developed by a small indie game studio from Poland called Drago Entertainment. A few days ago, they shared an update on their plans for the rest of the year. Now, why do I talk about this in a review on one of their games. Because they are talking about new features coming to this game in the future and how everything works behind the scenes.

It’s quite clear that the developers are extremely passionate and find communication with their players important. Over the summer break, they also shared what the next update to this game will have. Something I really love to see is there is going to be a patch for the random crashes this game has. In the late game, this game can crash quite often at random moments. There are some work arounds that delay the crashing but at the moment, apart from waiting for the patch, no real fix has been found. Also, you’ll be able to open and close other sections of the gas station. This is something I was going to talk about in this section. I’m quite curious to see how the game preforms when update #7 lands, since it promises to fix the biggest problem I have with this game and that are the random crashes.

Visually, this game look quite good overall. You do see certain models a lot of times but it doesn’t bother me. I think something that might help is randomize the color of the clothing of your customers. Then, when you have the same model coming in, there is a bit more variaty. The animations of this game are great as well.

But, there are a few minor things in terms of the UI that I’d love to see changed. The first is a small one. Why is the default option when you open the main menu, “new game”? I can understand that for when it’s the first time you play the game, but when you reboot the game after a crash and mash a bit… It’s scary to see the game restarting.

And secondly, it’s a mix between a gameplay problem and UI problem. The car wash is extremely picky. Sometimes a car is done with a lot of dirt on it and sometimes you have to clean almost everything. A sort of meter on how statified the customer is would help a lot.

The soundtrack of this game is good. It fits the atmosphere of you working in a gas station in the American desert quite well. The only downside is that there aren’t a lot of tracks so it won’t take long before you hear repeats. In terms of the music, I like and dislike how they handeld it. In the buildings, it’s played from the radio. But, if you put the radio in the store in a corner, it’s possible that, that area is silent. In terms of sound effects, this game is perfect. I don’t have any complaints or even (nitpicky) remarks about them.

Apart from the random crashes, this game runs overall quite stable. But, there are a lot of glitchy moments where things mess up. I have seen flipped delivery trucks on route to the station. I have also seen trash bags glitching through the floor into the void. The physics can go haywire sometimes. Jumping into the side of a car can send it flying or moving in some crazy ways.

Thankfully, the game has a sort of reset button for when cars get flipped or get stuck and you are unable to get them unstuck. You can send an alien craft over your station and reset it all. But, do keep in mind that it also sends your staff into rest mode so, you’ll have to reassign their job.

Speaking about staff and jobs, I truly wish you could manage that a bit more. I’d love to see shedules or commands like: “When you are done resting, go to the garage and fix cars.” Then again, it’d ruin a bit of the challenge of this game micromanaging it all.

Overall, the controls are quite responsive and easy to learn. You can also rebind them if needed. Since, at first, this game thought I had an QWERTY keyboard lay-out but I’m from Belgium and we use AZERTY around here.

I do have to say that reviewing games that still get new updates with new features and bug fixes is quite tricky. Especially, since I don’t know to what degree I can talk about the glitches in this game. There are glitches in this game and most of them are either the physics engine doing strange things are characters doing strange floating stuff. Or talking about limiting mechanics like only being able to have a loan of 1K. We never know what will change in the future. So, maybe some points I talked about in this review will be irrelevant in the future. Like, how tricky it is to restock shelves sometimes. The amount of times I took stock from shelves by accident when trying to refill, it’s silly.

But, something I’m totally looking forward too is that in the upcoming days a new DLC for the 1 year anniversairy of the game will come out. And looking at the store page, it’ll be a free DLC. I’m quite curious to see what’s going to be in it!

The final thing I want to talk about is that this game has an autosave. You can’t set the interval of it but every few minutes, this game autosaves. But you can also manually save. The saving and loading in this game is really quick. You do have some minor texture popping when the game loads in for the first time but it fixes itself quite fast.

Now, with that said, I have said everything I wanted to say about this game. I think it’s high time to wrap this one up.

Wrapping up

The bad:

-Still have some polishing up to do.

-Some mechanics like painting need an overhaul

-Silent staff

-The random crashes

The good:

+ Enjoyable micromanagement simulation.

+ A lot of freedom in terms of customization.

+ Amazing replay value.

+ Easy to learn but tricky to master.

+ A lot of post game.

+ Gets new content and bug fixes often.

+ …

Final thoughts:

Gas Station Simulator is one of those games that I’d recommend without any doubt in my mind. This game is quite enjoyable to play for everybody who enjoys simulation games that are a bit more hands on instead of your “spreadsheet simulator” where you stare mostly at stats.

While this game isn’t perfect and still needs some polishing and expanding for certain mechanics… The postives outweigh the negatives here by a lot. The biggest issue at the moment of writing are the random crashes but if the promised upcoming update fixes those, I think that this game can shine even brighter.

This game has an amazing foundation to become an amazing indie title. If this game gets polished up so it’s less janky and has a bit more content, I think you might have a winner here. I’d happily fuel up my tank with this game after a long day at work. But now, I’d fuel it up until it randomly crashes.

In conclusion, I quite enjoy this game with jank and all. It has a lot of charm and I can’t recommend it enough. I’m so glad that I gave this game a shot and I hope you will to.

With that said, I have said everything I wanted to say about this game. I want to thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in a future article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

Score: 80/100

First Impression: The Great Perhaps (Switch) ~ I Dunno, Time Travel Perhaps?

H2x1_NSwitchDS_TheGreatPerhaps_image1600wDrageus pageSteam pageDevelopers websiteNintendo microsite

Today I want to talk about a game that asks a question. The question of how the world would look like after a big disaster occurred. But, more on the story later in the article. To give full disclosure, I got a review code for this game from the developers of the Switch port Drageus Games for this review. As usual, Drageus Games asked that I gave my 100% true honest opinion. So, that’s what you are going to read in this article. Now, Drageus Games didn’t publish the PC-version. That’s been handled by Daedalic Entertainment of Deponia fame. Anyways, let’s dive right into this adventure game and look at what it has to offer. Should you play or skip this game? Let’s find out. One thing before I continue, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article. 

I dunno, time travel perhaps?

ss_80c8f6807052540764e0c21b6a70cd8f9f84b89b.1920x1080I already started to explain the story in the introduction paragraph of this article. In this game, Earth is destroyed by natural disasters. You play an astronaut that was in his spaceship during the disasters. Now, when you descent back to Earth, you find a lamp that aids you to see the past and interact with it. Together with this lamp, you set out on a journey to find your family and explore what’s left of the Earth.

While the setup of the story is completely different, the story reminded me of another game a bit. In Time Hollow, you also have an object that allows you to interact with the past and you go through a very emotional adventure. But, that’s beside the point, I just wanted to mention that game if the premise of this game interests you, there are also other games with that sort of story nature.

The writing in this game is decent. From what I have seen so far, there was nothing that stuck out as really good or really bad to me. The only thing that stuck a bit out with the mediocre voice acting. I really can’t put my finger onto why but I felt that some lines were either a bit forced or strangely delivered. Maybe it’s the writing itself or the pacing, I can’t tell why exactly but the voice acting isn’t the strongest point in this game.

All in all, this game isn’t that long. This game can take you 2-4 hours of playtime. Currently, I’m in the middle of the game. You do explore various locations from a metro station to a zoo. The thing is, this game isn’t 3D, so it’s quite linear. But, I’ll go more in-depth on this when I’m going to talk about the gameplay.

Trial and error

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This game uses an auto-save system. I’m so glad that it does since this game can be quite tricky at the beginning. One of the first areas you visit is a metro station and I have to say that it wasn’t the most enjoyable experience I had.

I think that two things made my experience frustrating that can be fixed or addressed in an update. The first thing is that the icons for interaction or way too small. The size is bordering on too small when you play the game in handheld mode but when I was playing in the dock, I had to sit a bit too close to my TV for comfort to see the interaction icons.

The 2nd issue was the biggest cause of my frustration. I wasn’t able to get used to the delay of the time traveling. If you travel to the past in the metro station, you have to look out for a train. Your AI-companion does warn you when the train is approaching, but you do still have some time to switch back to the present. I always started to switch back when I visually saw the train approaching. To save yourself some frustration, don’t do that. The delay is long enough so that the train will always hit you and kill you. Keep that delay in mind.

Speaking about that delay, there is a mechanic that I would have implemented quite differently. That is the time you can stay in the past. After a while, a sound effect starts playing to let you know that your time is almost up and that you are going to switch back to the present. The issue I have with this is that the only sign you get is done with audio. Not everybody can hear the audio or is focused on audio-cues. I think it would have been greater if some sort of animation or effect started displaying when the audio starts. You could argue that the flashing of the lamp is a visual clue, I give you that. But, you do have, give or take, a second before it switches back when the final flash happened.

Now, how does this game play? It’s almost like a puzzle-platformer without the platforming. By using your lamp, you have to solve puzzles to go back to the past and the present. Compare the idea a bit with the Harp of Ages from The Legend of Zelda – Oracle of Ages.

There is some trial and error involved in this game. Because there is no real hint system in this game, you do have to try everything you can think of. Unlike the Steam version that has achievements that can help you a bit to steer you in the right direction, you are on your own in this game. You don’t even have some sort of map system or “to do” list that can help you remember what your next objective is. So, this game is a bit old school in that regard. Now, there are achievements in this game but they are less present than in the Steam version.

While it’s easy to die in the present, the respawn time is rather quick. So, if you failed to solve a puzzle, don’t worry, it doesn’t take long in order for you to give it another go. And because the game autosaves frequently, you don’t have to worry about losing too much progress.

Comic book?

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Visually, this game is pretty amazing. Everything has this hand-drawn look to it and is amazingly detailed. Sadly, there were a few moments where I felt that some details were either missed or not clear enough. For example, in the metro station, you can’t pass through a door because it’s damaged. But, the visual damage on the door is only a few scratches on the door itself. That’s like saying that a bush blocks your way and you are unable to walk around it… Isn’t that right Pokémon?

The visual presentation is like you are playing through a comic book. It’s quite clear that a lot of work and thought has been put into the visuals and the backgrounds of this game. I have to compliment the artists on their work since they did an amazing job.

The animations on the other hand aren’t bad but aren’t good either. The jump animation could have been better for example. The character is a bit too static but strangely, a part of the suit does move.

The audiovisual presentation of this game is decent. The music fits the theming and atmosphere of the game like a glove. Now, there isn’t an option to adjust the volume of the music and/or sound effects in the menu. You can only change the master volume in the options.

When digging around in the options menu, I found out that the voice acting can also be in Russian. Apart from that, you can also choose to change the language of the subtitles and the menu system. I find it very strange that you can also change the language of only the menu system honestly. I think that it would have made more sense to merge the subtitle and the menu language option.

So, the UI of this game. Earlier I talked about the too-small interaction icons. The rest of the UI is good apart from some minor things I would have changed. One thing is that I think that the word “Areas” or “Sections” would have fitted better in the main menu instead of “Levels”.

And the second thing I would have changed is that I think that it would have been great that next to “Continue” the name of the area you were in appeared. But this brings me to another point. Why does this game have only one save slot? I mean, this genre screams to have multiple save slots. Especially when you share your Switch! Image that your sibling finished the game and you had to find the point where you were at.

Something that I personally find a huge negative in this game is the lack of an help section. Just image that you take a break from playing this game and you want to pick it back up. That means that you have to relearn all the different mechanics and controls of this game from scrath. That’s a pain in my opinion. It’s just a small feature that can save a lot of people headaches.

Now, I haven’t spoken about the controls. They are quite resposive and I didn’t had a lot of problems with them. Apart from the delay of switching back and forth between the past and the present. But, is this a problem with the controls or the gameplay? You can give arguments for both options.

When I’m reading back this article, you might think that this game isn’t the best or is mediocre. Well, that isn’t 100% true. This game is quite charming and you feel that a lot of care has been put into this game. But, it’s quite rough around the edges. If you are looking for a really polished game, I have to say that you should look elsewhere. If you don’t mind a game that’s a bit rough around the edges, I think this game can be for you.

If you enjoy adventure, point-and-click and/or puzzle games, this game might be an enjoyable time waster. With some additional polish, this game can get even better and then I wouldn’t say that it’s rough around the edges anymore.

And with that, I have said everything I wanted to say about this game. I want to thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

Publishing: Heralds of the Order – A New Handdrawn Turnbased Adventure!

Heralds of the Order is a turn-based strategy game boiled down to the genre’s core principles. Utilize positioning and abilities with elaborate patterns to achieve victory! Featuring hand-drawn art and over 20 story chapters.

Story

Maala, the realm without gods, finds itself on the verge of catastrophe.  Objects of ancient power resurface, triggering a race to claim them, one that promises to engulf the world in war. It is your duty as a Patronus of the Order to go forth and restore balance. Along the way, you will find new allies and face countless foes, as the line between myth and reality shatters.

Key Features

  • Turn-based tactical combat boiled down to its core principles.
  • A sprawling story that will take you on a gripping journey across Maala.
  • 8 party members each with their unique motivations and abilities.
  • Hand-drawn art and traditional rotoscoped
  • Over 20 handcrafted missions taking place in 6 unique environments.
  • Adapt your strategy! Customize your party‘s stats and choose from the numerous God Powers to overcome the challenges ahead of you.
  • Several unique boss fights with devastating attacks.

Combat Features

  • Abilities with elaborate patterns.
  • Positioning, flanking and countering the enemy’s defenses are the key to victory.
  • Elaborate battlefields with various boons and hazards.
  • A unique energy management system that determines the ebb and flow of combat.
  • Devastating God Powers which can alter the course of combat.

Media

Videos

A video of me playing through our free demoHere’s an interview we did with Eddie from Playing Indies

Character Art

Articles

“Let’s save the world of Maala in this new turn-based strategy game inspired by The Banner Saga. ” – TURN-BASED LOVER

“”Heralds of The Order” by @ArcheanGames promises a richly detailed turn-based strategy. ” – CaptainD, Indie Game News

Downloads

GameJolt Archean Games Download

https://gamejolt.com/games/herald-of-the-order/366356

Itcho herals
https://archeangames.itch.io/heralds-of-the-order

IndieDB Heralds
https://www.indiedb.com/games/heralds-of-the-order/downloads

IndeExpo Heralds
https://www.indiexpo.net/en/games/heralds-of-the-order

About the team

archean games.png

We’re a three-man team, consisting of two programmers and one artist, based in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. We spent our high school years dreaming of a career in the games industry, learning the basics of game-making. When we began university we decided that it was the perfect time to try our luck in the indie scene. And so we began developing Heralds of the Order – our first major project.

Twitter – FacebookItch.io

Quick Update on January and more

Hello, there dear readers of NekoJonez Gaming Blog. Thank you so much for reading my blog in 2017 and all the support I got and getting in these times when two blogs seem to steal my content. So, after a crazy December with a lot of articles too, I wanted to write a quick update for you guys and girls! 

Small break

It’s quite possible that the following weeks won’t have any articles or just short ones. No, I’m not bitter or thinking about quitting since my articles got stolen. Don’t worry about that. As a matter of fact, here is the reason why.

There are actually three. The first reason is that the holiday break is over and that I have returned to my full-time job. So, that means I have less time to play games and work on articles. The 2nd reason is that my theater group started to practice again for the upcoming production in April. So, I’ll need some time to study my lines and practice the play to perform. And the 3rd and final reason is that I’m entering exam time. Next week, I’ll have a final test and the week after that, I’ll have the final examination of the subject I was following.

So, my apologies if I’m a bit absent on social media or on posting new content on my blog.

Content theft update

In December, I haven’t given anybody permission to use my full articles on their blog. In fact, I didn’t even know that another blog was doing it. The past few days, I have been mailing around and trying to get every trace removed.

As a matter of fact, I don’t give permission to copy this article to any other blog. If you copy this quick update to any other blog then my blog that is NekoJonez’s Gaming Blog, you admit taking content from other blogs without permission. Most likely you are a bot as well since no sane human being would forget to cut this part out when copying this part.

But, I give permission to share the article’s link over social media, if only it’s a direct link to this article without any changes to the link.

I’m so thankful for all the support and attention that the PSA got. Thank you for sharing it around and making people aware that this isn’t okay and it should be stopped! That’s why I’m announcing that Drakulus and I are working on another article to support other bloggers into fighting back content theft like this.

So far, we were able to take a few accounts of one theft bot down. Both the WordPress and Weebly pages have been taken down. Currently, I’m working on taking two other accounts down of that same bot.

Besides that, I’m working as well to get my content taken down from that other website that is stealing and copying content. While the theft isn’t too bad on that website, I still want it to be taken down to make a clear statement.

If you ever wonder what I allow and don’t allow on my blog, I would like to refer you to NekoJonez’s Gaming Blog new page! It’s called the DMCA page! In addition to that, you can also see a “DMCA protected” badge at the side of my blog. Yes, that means that my blog is protected by copyright.

If you feel that I misuse any content that doesn’t belong to me, please, do contact me over my contact page. I’m always open to working out things behind the scenes without any issues.

Closing off & TL;DR

In summary, articles might slow down or stop for a few weeks since events in my personal life (job, working on getting down the theft of my articles, theater group, and college) are taking so much of my time. This might be better in a few weeks.

Also, I’m still working on taking down the stolen content from my blog, so far I’m making progress bit by bit. Thank you for your support and I’m so glad for all the support. There will be an article with helpful information for bloggers in the near future.

Besides that, remember that my blog is protected by DMCA now, so I have the legal right to make a DMCA take-down if you steal or abuse content from me. If you feel I abuse content that is written/created by you, please contact me on my contact page and I’ll do my best to work things out behind the scenes.

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

Preview: Shadow On Broadway (PC) ~ Let’s Solve This Demo!

Shadow on Broadway LogoOfficial website

Today we are going to talk about something quite unique. This game is created by a group of students and this is their first game. A more complete story can be read on their about page. The reason I decided to write an article about this game is because I tried to create games in the past with my friends. So, this story speaks to me. My games weren’t as fleshed out or developed as this game is. But, is this game any good or is this a project better left between friends and family of the developers? Let’s take an honest look at the game. I have beaten this demo three times, the first two levels are playable, so if you want the full game, you will have to follow them on Facebook for future updates. Also, as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of the article in the comment section down below.

Note: while I have beaten the game, I’m not going to label this as a review. I have chosen to label this as a preview since it’s a demo that shows off the first two levels of the game in an alpha stage.

A Mystery

Shadow on Broadway 1In this game, you play as a P.I. named Jack and you must find Nancy. Together with Genevieve, you find a lead on which gang has Nancy. So, you can start to look for her.

While the setup for the story isn’t unique, what matters is how the story is written. The writing is okay. I enjoy detective/crime stories but I have read better-written stories. That’s not to say that this story is bad, the pacing is great but there are things left unexplained and things that don’t really “click” with the overall presentation.

Most of the story will be told while the next level loads. This will happen in nice black and white drawn panels. They are displayed like you are reading a visual novel. If you aren’t interested in the story, you can skip it by clicking after the level loaded. The voice acting will keep playing if you clicked until the cutscene transitioned into the level, but the comic book way of presenting the story won’t progress.

Speaking of the voice acting, it’s decent. There were a few things that could be improved in terms of the voice acting. Sometimes the voice acting lacked the emotion or the needed “punch”. To avoid spoilers, I won’t give specific examples but you will hear it once or twice. But then again, this might be me being too critical of a free game made by a group of people who just released their first game. Since the sound quality is amazing when it comes to the voice acting. It’s just that additional “punch” that is lacking.

There are also subtitles that show up on the top of your screen when the characters are talking. The only thing that annoyed me about them is the fact that a lot of subtitles are missing the “.” at the end of the sentence. You also get a sort of tutorial, where the keys are explained. These show up above the health bar in red while you hear the sound of pressing keys on a typewriter while letter per letter is shown.

This brings me to the sound design. The soundtrack of this game is good. The music is good and helps a lot building the atmosphere. The sound effects are overall good with a few exceptions. The sound effects of hitting enemies and them dying is just bad.

The sound of hitting the enemies is just annoying. When I heard it the first time, I just imagined a room full of them and them dying all at the same time. The sound of the enemies dying didn’t fit the enemies at all.

Solving it

Shadow on Broadway 2The gameplay of this game is pretty good. You play either as Jack or Genevieve. Both have different abilities that are unique to them.

Jack can roll to dodge attacks and Genevieve has a few magical moves. Their moves are easy to get used too since the controls are responsive. Yet, I have a few complaints when it comes to the controls.

The first problem with the controls is something I’m annoyed by if games do this. I live in Belgium and we have an “AZERTY”-layout in our keyboards. Usually, the game rebinds the “WASD”-movement keys to “ZQSD” but this game doesn’t do that. Thankfully, I could use the arrow keys as a replacement but this made it awkward for me when I had to fight. Since my arms are so close to each other. Oh well.

This brings me right to my second problem. Because of that, some keys were too far from my fingers to use. This became a problem in the second level when I was playing around with the magic abilities of Genevieve.

And the final issue I have with the controls is the lack of a rebind option and the options menu. You can’t rebind the keys and the options menu for the “controls” only shows a few of the keys. This needs to be a bit more worked out.

This brings me to the menu system and the UI. Something I pay a lot of attention too. And in this game, the menu system is okay apart from two things. I think that when you open the pause menu, it should make the menu more the focus. Now, it’s just displayed on top of the level.  My second “issue” with the menu system is a very small one. But, why is there on every menu “return” used to return to the previous menu but in the sound menu it’s “back”?

A small suggestion for the sound menu is, when you mess around with the sliders, it would be nice if you hear a sample so you can tweak it to your liking.

Now, I’m sorry but the UI isn’t the prettiest of things in this game. Now, am I saying the art chosen for the HUD and everything is bad? No, not at all. The problem is that it doesn’t fit the presentation at all. It would make the game so much better if the HUD blends in with the presentation a bit more.

Close, but no cigar.

Shadow on Broadway 3Now, it might seem that this game is bad or mediocre. The thing is, the game is still in its early stages and it shows. I think it’s a wise move of the developers to put the game online and get as much feedback as they can to improve their game.

Something I really liked about the demo was the presentation. The atmosphere of the game is just perfect. The filter put onto the gameplay is pretty good. Yet, it bugs me that I still need to complain about something here. The animation still needs a lot of work. The animation of the first boss special attack is unfinished and the animation of some scripted events aren’t present yet. Which is a shame, since the character models are well made and detailed. But without things like lip synching or some more movement of the characters, while those scripted events play out, it gives the game a cheap and unfinished feel.

Since this demo is quite short and can be beaten in a few minutes, this game doesn’t have a save feature. In fact, I didn’t need a save feature in this demo since I never came close to dying. The demo is easy, some puzzles might stump you for a bit but a seasoned puzzle gamer will blast through them.  This doesn’t mean that the puzzles are bad, they are easy to figure out and they don’t slow down the gameplay.

Like I touched upon before, in this game you must explore and investigate an area. In this game, you must solve puzzles and defeat enemies. I just talked about the puzzles, so let’s talk about the combat. The combat is pretty good, it’s too bad that there weren’t more challenging situations in the demo to experiment more with the combat system of the game.

If the developers would use these two levels as the opening of the full version of the game, my only hope is that they make those two levels longer. It’s better to have a couple of longer levels than a bunch of short levels. Since it allows for more creativity instead of an incoherent mess of ideas. That’s my opinion.

In one of my playthroughs, a glitch stopped me in my tracks. The camera froze just before the cutscene of the 2nd boss but I could continue playing the game. Blindly. The glitch stopped me from pausing the game too. I tried to replicate it several times, but I can’t tell what caused it.

Thanks to this glitch, I learned that you can use your attacks during those scripted cutscenes. This was so nostalgic to me since you could do that in the old Tomb Raider games too.

I want to mention one other thing about the 2nd boss too. Dress his arena a bit more. In the scripted cutscene, you show us walking to him while he is sitting on a stage in a theatre. But, when the fight starts, it almost looks like you are in an ordinary room.

If I may give a final suggestion before I go to my conclusion, I think there is a missed opportunity in the game. I think it would be a good idea if you put “Demo / Alpha version” somewhere in the main menu or as a message when you start the game. Since otherwise, people might think that this is going to reflect on the full version and that might put off potential players.

My conclusion for this game is a simple one to make. I think the developers Team Noir are working on something interesting here. The game looks promising but lacks a lot of polish. The HUD doesn’t fit the atmosphere, the animation needs some work, the story needs a bit more depth… but the fundamentals are there.

I have played a lot of good and bad free games in my gaming life and this is getting so close to the good category. I honestly think they released the demo too soon. This game could have benefitted from more polish. I have played far worse games where the game bugs out or the controls lock up. That doesn’t happen in this game. Apart from one glitch I couldn’t reproduce or trigger for a second time, everything works in this game like it’s supposed to be.

The content of this demo promises an interesting game. Developing a game is hard and requires a lot of work and skill. Looking at this demo, it’s obvious that the skill is already there. It just needs some more work.

That’s everything I wanted to talk about in this game/demo. I hope you enjoyed reading this article 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 – July 2017 Update

BannerBlog

July is almost over, and I have a lot of updates to share with you. I decided to combine them in one article, so without any further ado, here we go. 

Rebranding

You might have noticed it already, but a month ago, I decided to rebrand my blog. I didn’t make the new artwork and icon myself since I’m honestly not good with programs like Photoshop and other art programs. I can do some really basic editing, but that’s about it.

Thankfully a friend of mine helped me out. Thanks to Zoef, we got a new amazing looking banner and icon. I can’t thank him enough since it looks amazing. It shows perfectly what my blog is about and that was exactly what I was going for.

In the past month, I have tried to look for every place that had my old artwork and changed it. I think I changed everything, but when I noticed that something has my old icon, I’ll change it as soon as I can.

NekoJonez got an award!

Best_technology_blogs_2017 (1)

So, something special happened. Last week, I got an email from Market Inspector that I was nominated for “Best Technology Blog of 2017”. I was really happy when I received it. So, I answered their questions to get my nomination in for real.

A week later, I was working on another article while I heard the notification sound on my phone. It was an email from Market Inspector, saying that I actually won in the gaming category. Here is a link to their article announcing the winners.

I’m honored to receive this award. I feel recognized for all the time I have put into this blog. So, thank you Market Inspector for this award!

Big projects and collabs

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First of all, one of my biggest projects yet I have teased on Twitter is finally here. I finished “My favorite gaming music #20“. While the writing was done for a while, I wanted each game to have a separate article with a sort of review for each game. Then I noticed that 5-6 games didn’t have its own article. So, that’s why it took so long, I had to write a couple of other articles before I was able to finish the gaming music article.

Another big project that is currently in the works is a big Zelda project. It’s going to be a project that I’m not doing alone. Currently, we are aiming to finish the article at the end of August. If anything changes, I’ll announce it on Twitter of course.

In other news, I decided to not list all articles I get quoted in, in an update article on my blog. So, if you want to know when I helped writing in an article on another blog, you should really follow me on Twitter. Otherwise, you might miss one of the vacation spots I would take in gaming.

By now, you might be wondering what the image is I added a bit above this paragraph. Well, I’m a part of the Blogger Blitz event that Adventure Rules created. This is a “battle” between bloggers to try in convince you why a chosen game character is better than another character. But here is the catch, each blogger had to choose his or her own character. I picked Indiana Jones. More information about the event can be read on the Adventure Rules blog. On the 31st July, I’ll try to convince you why Indiana Jones is the better in mass producing and selling a certain iconic item than Lightning Farron. The blogger I’m up against is Lightning Ellen. Good luck and may the best writer win!

Schedule for the 2nd part of 2017

Believe it or not, I created a sort of schedule for the 2nd part of 2017. Currently, it’s just a rough planning of the articles I want to write in 2017. Notice that I said, rough planning. That means I can still move around my schedule and/or change it completely.

As usual, I won’t share the schedule. I want to keep it a surprise to everyone and I also change so frequently in my schedule, I would go crazy writing an update article or change it every time I make a change. The only thing I’m going to reveal is that my schedule is filled with game-related articles. I mean with that, first impressions and reviews.

Also, I decided to keep my 1 article/week schedule. Yet, when I’m able to write more than one article a week and I’m in the writing mood, I won’t stop myself. But, starting from September, that might be impossible to write more than once a week. Since then evening classes start up again and I have a few things going on with my acting group.

For this week, I’m still planning a few articles. If I have the time, I might even publish more than 2 articles this week. But, that all depends if I have the time. So, no promises.

NekoJonez is on Steam

Remember that I wrote an article about a game called “The Last Tree“? Well, it’s released on Steam now. The developer emailed me to tell me, that a quote from my article was featured on the Steam Store page! Here is a screenshot:

The last tree Steam

So, that’s why I decided to write a review about the game. So, I’m going to try to finish that article before the end of August! So, keep your eyes out for that. Thank you to the developer of this game for quoting me on Steam. This means a lot to me.

End of updates

So, that are all the updates I wanted to share for this month. The past few months were quite eventful for my blog and my personal life and I’m enjoying all of it. I hope you enjoyed reading this update article as much as I enjoyed writing this.

Thank you for reading this article and I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.