Starting to realize that I mainly write these because I want an excuse to ramble about multiple things but I have trouble focusing on one thing at a time. “Why not just write short things?” No.
Super Auto Pets Expansion
Super Auto Pets was a rising star in 2021 that I consider to be one of my favorite things I played that year. Whenever I just want to play something easy going while watching something, I usually play a few rounds of Super Auto Pets. I was still enjoying it months later – even though there was the potential for more.
For the past few months, players could play a browser beta to play around with dozens of planned pets for the game. I haven’t really touched the beta myself because I wanted to wait until the devs had everything figured out, and lo and behold, the new animals are finally here. For $10, a whole new world of funny fighting animal JPEGs will open up to you.
First off, there’s the second expansion pack, which doesn’t actually include all the new animals the update brings. Instead of throwing everything together, the second expansion builds itself around the new strawberry mechanic, where pets have new abilities depending on allies who consumed a strawberry. Sell a kiwi and a strawberry pet gets a permanent buff, a funny looking puffin can strike at the enemy team for every strawberry pet you have, etc.
To be honest, I haven’t fully worked out how to make the second expansion pets work for me. It kinda doesn’t help that I haven’t gotten past 4 wins at all yet, presumably because there’s a whole bunch of players that’s beta tested this stuff and have the knowledge on how to efficiently kick the shit out of me. But you know, it’s one of those games where you build up knowledge on what to do over time.
Want to play around with some new stuff in a more familiar way? Well, the update introduced a weekly. Every week, Super Auto Pets will push a different pack of animals to play with, consisting of a random mix of default pets, pets from the two expansions, and whole new ones entirely. Besides giving an incentive to check back in the game every week, it keeps things fresh by inviting players to find new team combinations. Like, I never managed to make a dog – who buffs itself whenever a new ally is summoned – click with me back then, but when paired up with a goldfish – who discounts the cost of summoning new allies – that’s free real estate right there. Unfortunately, my team fell to a powerful one led by a killer mantis, who murde- incapacitates its adjacent ally at the end of every turn – and with the ants (buffs an ally when it faints) and anteaters (who drops ants when fainting) in the same pack, I can see how the team got so damn strong.
Most importantly: the weekly pack is actually free.
And on top of all this, you can create your own custom pet packs – as long as you bought the new animals. You can cheese things so that you can get your ideal strategies rolling… but of course, you gotta keep in mind that you can only play against players that are welcome to playing outside of their own pack, who are likely to approach you with their own custom packs.
I’m glad that Super Auto Pets is still being worked on. Personally, my favorite thing from the update is the free weekly pack because it’s something that will keep things fresh. That said, I gladly bought all the new stuff. The game’s already given me dozens of hours of entertainment and it’s insanely nice of the devs to make their weekly stuff free – so really, why not pay them $10?
I’ve been a big fan of Analgesic Productions’ stuff for a long time, so it’d be criminal to not mention that their newest game, Sephonie, has finally come out!
In Sephonie, a trio of scientists find themselves shipwrecked on the titular island on a research trip gone wrong. Welp. They may as well make the most of their situation by getting to know each other and throwing themselves into exploring the island with all the parkour and puzzle solving that it entails.
The team’s previous game, Anodyne 2: Return to Dust, dabbled with being a 3D platformer, but it felt more like a means to an end, a connective thread between the 2D top-down levels. Here though, 3D platforming takes center stage, with parkour elements integrated in the platforming to help explore extensive maps. There’s a greater admiration toward the 3D environments as well with the game having an integrated photo mode to take some sick pics. It feels like the design took a natural progression from Anodyne 2‘s use of 3D environments.
I bought the game, but I haven’t had the time to get to playing it for myself. However, as I’ve enjoyed the rest of the studio’s stuff, I know for sure that I’m going to have a good time.
The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe
And of course, it’s a crime not to mention that the long-awaited remake/expansion/sequel to The Stanley Parable finally came out.
If you don’t know, the original Stanley Parable was a 2013 indie game darling by Galactic Cafe. It was a narrative game where you’re a man named Stanley, who’s watched over by a narrator guiding his every action at work. Stanley could try to shake off his guidance… but alas, he finds himself wandering into another story thread, the narrator treating the deviation from the story as just another part of the story. It was a game that examined what you could do with narrative in an interactive form and raised questions on player choice and decision-making.
And… it’s an interesting game now, because ever since The Stanley Parable released, there have been multiple other games that made their own attempts at examining player choice and narrative, most famous of which being Undertale. Point is, The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe has come out in a time where its central conceit is not as unique as it was when it originally came out.
But you know what? That’s fine. The worth of a game isn’t in whether or not it does something fresh, but whether or not it does it well and if it forges its own identity. Like, I always get pissed off about the whole “Earthbound inspired game about depression” thing because it ignores the unique merits of the specific thing being complained about and how it utilizes or approaches the subject.
Does Undertale have a smartass British narrator narrating your every move? No. And that narrator does a great job at shaping the narrative of the game and helps define it. Even if you don’t think it’s fresh, it’s a really nice presentation with good writing, and I’m sure that Ultra Deluxe has done a fine job at expanding on that.
So it should be clear at this point that I love playing RPGs, even if I’m not too good at them. As I close things out, I’m going to focus on an RPG, because this is my blog and nerds need to learn about more indie RPGs other than Undertale.
Cannibal Interactive is a developer that I’ve followed for a while because of faer commitment to creating fucked up RPG situations, because I too want to create fucked up and stupid RPGs. It’s solidarity. Previously, I played It’s Six Random Characters and a Single Floor Dungeon, That’s the Whole Game, a turn-based roguelike RPG where… yeah, the premise is all in the title.
But for the past few months, fae have been working on a game that takes the roguelike sensibilities further, and it’s finally made itself known. Purgatory Dungeoneer has been announced to be the first game published under Strange Scaffold, a small growing studio that’s also been known for works like Space Warlord Organ Trading Simulator.
Purgatory Dungeoneer is the story of a whole lot of adventurers stuck in purgatory building up an afterlife village while trying to find closure for themselves. Much like a lot of faer other works, there’s a lot of characters to play around with. Specifically more than 400, with 100 different classes and a hell of a lot more skills. It’s kinda overwhelming, if I have to be honest, but I admire it. With the help of Strange Scaffold, I hope that Purgatory Dungeoneer ends up being a success.
TTRPGs for Reproductive Rights
But hey, let’s close on something serious. Once again, America is fucked up and people on itch.io put together a bundle to fight the problem. This specific problem is the looming striking down on Roe v. Wade, which will horribly set back reproductive rights across America.
Don’t be like those nerds that scold the left over 2016 (and you know, not the handful of politicians we have now actively stonewalling political efforts to help fight this) or those nerds that protest the inevitable court ruling by dressing up like the women in The Handmaid’s Tale as if that’s not just the ideal future for the people they’re protesting. Instead, if you actually want to take a more meaningful stance, consider supporting organizations like Planned Parenthood and the National Network of Abortion Funds through the TTRPGs for Reproductive Rights bundle!
For a minimum of $5, you can get more than 275+ tabletop RPGs. Now, TTRPGs aren’t exactly in my wheelhouse for various reasons, but I can tell that there’s a bunch of good stuff here for people. You got the mecha anime themed group roleplaying action in the form of Beam Saber, you have contemplative solo experiences like Castle of Memories, you can bust out a pack of tarot cards for games like Royal Blood, etc. There’s good variety for a good cause! If you aren’t going to buy the other things I’ve mentioned here, consider throwing your money toward this helping pro-choice organizations!