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First Impression: Nightmare Reaper (PC – Steam) ~ Can You Sleep Through This?

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Steam store pageGOG page

I can’t tell you exactly why, but I’m a big fan of old school 3D shooters. Last year, I took a look at Ion Fury and Wrath. Honestly, I think that it’s because these games stuck the right balance between modern game design and old school gameplay. Now, one day I stumbled across this game. A game in Early Access that released last year to GOG and Steam. A game that presents itself as a game inspired by Blood, Doom, and Duke Nukem 3D. That’s quite interesting in my eyes. Currently, only the first episode has been released and episode two is coming in the near future. At the moment of writing, the developer said that they are aiming to release the second episode at the end of the summer. But, is this game worth your time and money? Let’s take a look at this game while I invite you to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article. 

Can you sleep through this?

ss_b7e8b7e313a53c7bf3c33a58c248e23c44b7b9bd.1920x1080You play as an unnamed girl who is stuck in a psychotic ward. Her story is being told through small notes that you unlock after beating each level. In order for you to enjoy the game, you don’t need to pay any attention to the story, at all. But, I can tell you out of the experience that it enhances the game tenfold. My imagination and the spare bits of story that I got gave the world-building quite a lot of meaning. My imagination filled in some gaps that made the story quite interesting.

Now, I can understand that some people won’t enjoy a story that is this bland where it’s quite clear that you need to protect yourself on the character or fill in some of the gaps yourself. But, I didn’t find this a problem at all. Since this game focusses itself a lot more on the gameplay than on the story and in that case I don’t mind a “weaker” story.

I always find it quite difficult to review or criticize a story when I know that you don’t have every piece of the puzzle. A story can start off strong and end up quite weak. Currently, I’m quite interested to see where the story is going to go and if it wraps up with a nice conclusion or if it leaves it up to the player to figure out.

As I said before, the story is mostly told through small notes that you can read on your table after beating a level. You unlock one note for every level you beat. Each note builds on the previous note painting a more complete picture of the situation. There is no voice acting during these notes, but that doesn’t mean that there is no voice acting in the game.

The girl you play as is voiced by Marie-Claire Lavertu and I haven’t found anything about her. Now, this might raise some red flags but don’t you worry. The voice actor nails the voice acting of the main character flawlessly. The grunts, the smirks, the laughs… It’s all done pretty well. She did a pretty amazing job of bringing this troubled character to live without saying one line. I wonder if she also did the screams of the other patients you hear when you are in your room.

So, how do you play this game; since you start off in a hospital room? Well, as the name of the game suggests, you are going to reap some nightmares. So, it’s time to go to sleep and you get transported to a randomly generated level where your goal is to beat your enemies and reach the goal.

Retroception

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This game features randomly generated levels. Well, to a degree. The developer created a whole slew of rooms and the random level generator just fits them together in random order.

So that means, that you might find the same layout once or twice but in most cases, each level and each playthrough is quite different. But, this isn’t the only thing that stands out in this game.

The Steam Store page boasts that this game has over 32 weapons and is going to have 80+ weapons. Now, before you think that this is going to be an overload to manage them all… You don’t have to manage them all. That’s because you can only carry over one weapon from one level to the next. Yes, one weapon.

It gets even better, each weapon might have special abilities and has a certain level. So, you need to think and strategize about which weapon you want to keep and which weapon you want to sell for those precious coins.

These coins can drop from destroying the environment, defeating enemies, selling weapons at the end of a level, finding treasure, and playing the Gameboy Advance Skilltree minigame. Oh yes, the minigame. One doesn’t simply unlock new powerups in this game, you have to earn them by first having enough coins and then beat the mini-platform level. Only when beating a level, you lose your coins and earn your sweet powerup. Trust me, these power-ups are worth it! After defeating some levels, I felt more equipped and stronger to beat my enemies.

If I would take a look at all the enemies and weapons, I think I would be here all day. Let’s first talk about the weapons. You have swords, staffs, shotguns, rocket launchers, tomes, pistols, rifles… It’s a whole lot. Personally, I rarely used the bows since I found their fire rate a bit too slow since this game can get pretty hectic and intense with some enemies and a strong gun fits my playstyle more in these types of gameplay situations. And my preferred weapon was a double-barreled shotgun with the chance to shock my enemies I picked up in one of the earliest levels.

Obviously, I’m going to talk about the enemies right now. You have a whole range of enemies. From hit scanning enemies to enemies that take you with melee attacks. It’s essential for you to learn the patterns of each enemy so you can play accordingly for which enemy you should take out first.

There are some enemies I absolutely hated during my playthroughs. These Dragon Plants that not only spit acid but also spit little egg projectiles that hatch smaller dragons. These didn’t die fast enough for my liking. And then I’m skipping over the enemies who throw what I assume mutated blobs of themselves to you and these blobs track you and when they explode… You lose a LOT of your health. And these blobs are so freaking small and annoying to kill…

Now, would I remove these enemies? Absolutely not. They ramp up the difficulty of this game to a very rewarding level. For having so many different possibilities, I’m surprised how much work there has been put into the balancing of the game. New enemies are introduced one by one so you can get used to them, learn their patterns, and try to manage them in the chaos of a whole enemy filled room.

The “punishment” for death in this game isn’t that harsh. Thankfully, since you will die quite often since this game can be quite rough. But I mean that in a good way. The punishment is that you have to restart the level with the weapon you choose to keep from the previous level. But, you don’t lose your gold. So, if one level is a bit too tough, you can grind up your coins, beat a few skill tree mini-games and try again with some new powers.

During my playthrough, I regularly felt the urge to play just one more round, to try to beat that annoying level. I found that most of this game is quite fair and balanced apart from the fire boss. I’m sorry but I find that boss battle just too difficult. That boss hits a bit too hard. My biggest complaint is that this boss appears after quite a challenging level and then you have to try and beat quite a difficult fight. Thankfully, the developer said that he is going to take a look at how the fight can become a little bit easier. And also, he has given us some helpful advice to beat it. It’s the biggest frustration I have with this game since I have gotten so close several times… But one of these days, I’ll do it and defeat that – CENSORED –

So, would it surprise you if I said that I’m not even done talking about all the mechanics yet? Oh, I haven’t mentioned the power-ups, the random events, and the possible bonus gold you can earn by killing all the enemies, finding all the gold and secrets… Well, I’ll leave these interesting and fun game mechanics up to you to find out. There must still be something to discover when you play this game after reading this article, right?

Shoot everything

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You might have noticed by looking at the screenshots, that this game doesn’t have the most modern graphics. This game goes for a more retro aesthetic with some modern vibes. And the game succeeds in that quite well.

In the visual presentation, I find this game quite exceptional. I really like the visual presentation and animation of this game. From the enemy design to the animations on the weapons, I really think they are well done. Especially, when I saw some early footage of the game and compare it to what’s on offer now, it’s impressive how far this game has come. The only minor complaint I have in the visual department is a timer. Yes, a timer of how long your power-up is lasting. Since there is no inventory in this game for power-ups and health pickups, so it would have been nice to see how much a powerup is going to last when you want to use it to rush a boss or a difficult room.

To finish up my thoughts on the visual presentation, let’s talk about the UI. Overall, it’s quite well done but there are a few minor things that I would change. First of all, the “Reset Default Settings” is a great future but I would rather have that feature reset for example only the game features instead of resetting everything. Another minor complaint I have about the UI is there are no page numbers on the achievement page.

Speaking about achievements, it’s lovely that these give you coins in-game but I find them to also have them as Steam achievements. I mean, there are over 80 already. Maybe this is just me, but I almost got an achievement in every round, if not two or three. Maybe I look at achievements in a totally different light but I found them not rewarding to earn at all.

There is one thing that I haven’t talked about yet and I usually talk about quite early in my articles and that’s the audio of this game. First of all, let’s talk about the sound effects. The sound design of this game is close to perfect. On quite rare occasions, I didn’t hear some trap or pickup sound effects playing, especially during fights but that isn’t such a big deal. These fights are hectic enough when you try to manage large groups of enemies, the sparse health pickups, and the great sound effects of the enemies and weapons.

But I want to talk about the amazing soundtrack by Andrew Hulshult. Now, if this name doesn’t ring a bell. Well, let me just say he created the soundtrack of a little game called Dusk and Wrath: Aeon Of Ruin. Let me just say, if you enjoy the DooM 2016 soundtrack, oh man you are going to enjoy this quite a lot.

Overall, I would recommend this game to people who enjoy retro games and shooters. At its current state, I found this game quite addictive and I had a hard time putting this game down during my summer holidays. Before I knew it, I had put in 11 hours in this game and I’m not bored with it yet. I can’t wait to see what the second episode will bring to the table.

To be honest, I had a really hard time finding negatives to say about this game apart from the fire boss being too tricky for my liking. All the other things are things that are either quite minor or can change because this game is still in active development. I’m going to keep an eye out on this game and maybe you too.

And with that said, I have said everything I wanted to say about this game. 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 one but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

NekoJonez: First Impression: Alice: Madness Returns (PC ~ Steam) – What Happened?

AliceMadnessReturnsWikipedia entry

(Warning, this article is written in a special way. I’m done quite fine, it’s written the theme of the game more.)

Dear readers. My fantasy might be real. 75 articles published by myself on the ButtonSmashers Blog. I don’t need a doctor about that. But the negative imagery is taking it’s toll on me. It’s hard as a writer to  see people you love and care about turn in these horrid monsters. Now that I’m back fighting in this land, it’s time to set things right. Or do I want to go back? I don’t know. I thought this wouldn’t be a pretty sight. That the game would suck. But as soon as I started playing it, it blew my mind. It’s actually good that I’m doing this. Maybe I have to let go. I have no clue. Maybe this game might provide the answers for me. Maybe, if I take a look into this madness I might find answers. Yeah, it will return… the madness. And feel free to comment on this, your opinion on it or on the game. Return… madness…

Bad cover hides a good game

AMR-03_SCREENDid the intro creep you out? Don’t worry, I won’t continue to write like that for the rest of the article. It would be too hard to talk about a game like that. But I thought it would make for a nice introduction.

The tale of Alice in Wonderland is most likely not a strange or a new one to you. Although, it might be that it has been quite some time since you have seen or heard of it. This game takes a rather interesting spin on it.

From what I can gather, after several years, Wonderland got corrupted. Alice gets visions from it and goes back to Wonderland. I haven’t gotten more into the story yet since I was more focused on the game then on the story. More on that later.

From what gather from the story, it’s quite unique. If I’m right and this game shows the scenario: “What would happen to wonderland if Alice went crazy?”… Well, then the story is doing quite well.

So, the title of the part is bad cover hides a good game. What I mean with that is that EA found it needed to have a “right in your face” protection for this game. With serial keys and verifying servers and all that lame stuff. Also, at first glance, the main menu gave me a bit of “meh” impression. But it gets better once you play the actual game.

Madness… MADNESS. THIS IS SP- nope. 

70846_screenshot_07I have to admit something. I can’t judge on the keyboard controls. I saw that this game supports a controller. And when I see that, I don’t think twice about using it. Honestly, I sometimes prefer playing with a controller. It might have to do with the fact that I had keys popping off my keyboards…

Anyways, from what I can tell, the controls are smooth. I did had to adjust the default settings a bit to have better sensitivity but hey, that’s why there are options.

In this game, Alice had various power-ups. You get them through the course of your adventure. Up until now, I got a shrink power-up and a special sort of gun. And then the madness begins. Oh yes. It does.

This game offers you multiple paths with one being the correct one. But if you explore the hidden paths, you find collectables. While I have no clue in what these will be used for, it’s adds to the replay value and it’s a good thing that they implemented this.

Talking back about the controls, they are good. Nearly each button has a different feature. But thankfully it’s so straight forward, you learn which button to press after some time of play.

The gameplay consists out of various platforming puzzles. You need to kill all the enemies or find something to activate platforms. You know, the usual stuff. What’s unusual though is the fact you can’t really die. Well, I’m not 100% sure about that. When you fall off cliffs, Alice bursts into butterflies and you get right back at the platform you died at to try again. This is rather neat.

So, why is the title of this part “Madness”? Well, because of the various collectables and the very variation in the gameplay… There might be too much things going on at once. And it works for this game.

Must finish?

Alice-VistaSCREENThe game has an automatic save-feature. Thank the lords. Lately, I’m getting used to the auto-saving feature. This avoids that you are broken out of your immersion with the game.

Since I recently finished some games I was playing, I can now focus on this game. I want to finish this game because it caught my attention. The last time a PC game did that was Alan Wake.

The game has an amazing design. While it’s not going for the most detailed graphics and over the top visuals, this game shows off an amazing art style that really fits the story they want to tell.

You truly feel that you’re in a corrupted fantasy world based on the story of Alice. The animation, no complaints. I think it’s really well done. Maybe some of the PC elite may say that I’m wrong but I find this game to be quite the eye candy.

To finish this article, let’s talk about the music. It has been playing in another tab while I was writing this article. And while I haven’t heard a lot of the soundtrack yet, the music I heard truly made my fantasy go wild. What’s going to happen to Alice? How are they going to continue this game? It’s a mystery to me but once I’m willing to solve.

The sounds are fitting too. But I have to pay closer attention to give a more detailed opinion about it.

So, that was my 75th article here on ButtonSmashers. While I could have written something more special, I think that 100 articles is more fitted for that. Anyways, thanks for reading my article. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I did writing it. This game looks like an awful lot of fun and I can’t wait to see more.