Slay the Spire

After a week of hell, I’m mostly done with my school projects. Just got one final to worry about and it is a take home, so I’m feeling pretty good about things. I thought that I should buy something as an end-of-semester gift for myself.

My friends have been playing a bunch of Slay the Spire lately, which has had me thinking, “dang, maybe I should hop on this.” However, what finally pushed me into getting it was watching Northernlion play from the beginning and witnessing his amazing misplays. I mean, he’s probably amazing at the game now, but his early Slay the Spire videos was the stuff of madness to me and had me thinking “jeez, I should get this and see if I can actually do better instead of being a backseat gamer.”

I started playing Slay the Spire when I remembered, “oh right, I have a blog for this kind of stuff.” I failed to update last week because of a bunch of school junk and this place was long due for an update, so I decided that I should write something up about Slay the Spire as soon as I finally win a run. And I did – 24 hours later – which is a good enough time to make judgement, if you ask me.

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To those that are not in the know, Slay the Spire is one of those hot roguelikes on Steam Early Access. I know that combination of words is terrifying for gamer reactionaries, but hear me out. Slay the Spire distinguishes itself through being a card game, with combat being played out through cards, your deck slowly getting built up as you ascend toward the Spire. I’m currently at the 36 hour mark of playtime, so I can easily say it is an addictive ascension.

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The Thief of Wishes

There’s something that I’ve been ignoring when it comes to indie games, and that’s the mobile market. As my April Fool’s post may indicate, I mainly just play Final Fantasy gacha games on my phone, in my continual spiral toward self-destruction. The only mobile game that I’ve seriously looked at for this site was Highwind (which, by the way, recently updated, so check that out!). So you know what, let’s check out more mobile stuff.

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The Thief of Wishes is the first game by All Blue Studios, a Polish development team. The game is an interactive storybook that’s aimed at kids, with narration to go along with it. Does this qualify as a visual novel? As far as my tagging system is concerned, yes.

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Kero Blaster

It’s Spring Break, that time of the school year where I constantly switch between playing video games and lying in bed, just sort of disassociating. I finished Nier Automata and that’s a fantastic experience that I consider a must play. You know what else I consider a must play? Kero Blaster!

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Kero Blaster is a 2014 game by Studio Pixel, published by Playism. That’s right, the same Studio Pixel that made Cave Story, one of the most well known indie titles, a cornerstone in games, probably Nicalis’ main source of revenue when they’re not milking The Binding of Isaac. So yeah, those are some high expectations to live up to.

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Yume Nikki – Dream Diary –

The long awaited day for Yume Nikki fans has finally come. After a decade of inactivity on the front of official works, an official reimagining of the cult classic dream exploration game was announced. It finally released Feb. 22 on Steam and as a fan of the game since middle school, I pretty much bought the game as soon as it was available.

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Yume Nikki – Dream Diary – is developed by the Kadokawa Corporation, which is largely known for developing the RPG Maker engines that helped birth the original Yume Nikki to begin with. The original developer, Kikiyama, reportedly gave input on the project. There’s conspiracy theories that Kadokawa just made the game on their own since Kikiyama is anonymous and chooses to stay that way, but that’s nonsense, considering the fact that Kikiyama’s own website updated with the new logo (it’s the first link under the first red text on the left). I don’t know, maybe next people will claim that the site was hacked on Kadokawa’s behalf.

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Artifact Adventure

My New Year’s resolution was to clear through my backlog of games, and I’ve been making good on that so far. Helen’s Mysterious Castle, Space Moth DX and Monolith were part of that list and I consider them cleared. And so, I continue moving on through that backlog with Artifact Adventure.

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Artifact Adventure is an RPG Maker game made by Bluffman, published by your friends at Playism. A nefarious Swamp King is threatening the world and so the king calls on a bunch of heroes to deal with him! …And that’s pretty much the main plot.

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Monolith

I talk about RPG Maker games a lot on this blog and I’ve spent a lot of personal time on those, but the other type of game I’ve spent lots of time on are roguelikes. More specifically, those twin-stick roguelike shooters. Well, you’d probably call them “roguelites,” but man, I’m not getting into that terminology argument.

There’s an addictive appeal to these games and their action means that they don’t have the slowness of a lot more traditional roguelikes. According to my Steam, I’ve spent almost 300 hours on Nuclear Throne, probably 50 on Enter the Gungeon (between Steam and PS4) and 200 on The Binding of Isaac; there’s a lot of things about the latter that frustrate me, but the fact that I ended up spending so much time on that anyway is a testament to how much I get into these games.

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So, it’s no surprise that I picked up Monolith, which is also a twin-stick roguelike; more specifically, it’s the dungeon crawling type where you advance room to room. The game is by Team D-13, who describes themselves as a trio of roguelike and shoot em’ up appreciators, their love of the genres uniting into this game.

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Space Moth DX

I’ve played a few shoot em’ ups, though I wouldn’t say that I’m an expert. From what I’ve seen, there are two archetypes of shmups: one where you fight spaceships and one where you fight anime girls. Today, I’m looking at a member of the secret third archetype, one that Mushihimesama crosses into: the one where you fight giant bugs.

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Today’s game is Space Moth DX, released January 22, 2016 by 1CC Games, published by Black Shell Media. You are the almighty Space Moth and you want to go to space, but alas, a whole bunch of other bullet shooting bugs want to stop you. Also, according to the game’s dev log, our hero is a bitter moth that’s jealous of how pretty the other bugs are, so they can also “soul-drain” the color out of them, which is pretty sick.

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Helen’s Mysterious Castle

Happy New Year! I’ve decided for once to take on a New Year’s resolution and my resolution for this year is to get through my backlog of games. I think that it’s a reasonable goal and hey, I can write about some of that stuff for this blog. So, let’s ring in the New Year with the first game I decided to get out of the way, Helen’s Mysterious Castle.

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Helen’s Mysterious Castle is a game made by a developer named Satsu, published and translated under Japanese indie game publisher PLAYISM. Helen, our silent protagonist, lives in the eponymous castle, holed up on a high floor with her brother, Ardin.  She also wants to leave the castle all of a sudden, so it goes.

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Highwind

I’m planning on looking at more IGMC games, but first, let’s take a look at a game type I haven’t wrote about yet: a mobile game. Besides, when I started taking blogging more seriously, I promised myself that this blog wouldn’t just become an RPG Maker enthusiast site and with like a month of that ahead, I need something to prevent my dark future from happening.

We’re looking at Highwind, a dollar game on the App Store that’s made by Selva Interactive, who you may remember as the people behind Nanuleu. For disclosure, the studio and one of its developers followed me on Twitter, which is how I learned about it. However, I got and chose to review this game out of my own volition, because it looked like something my speed.

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Highwind is a sort of different take on a shooter, the dodging and shooting aspects of the genre divided up into two separate sections. In the first section of a level, you are stationary but capable of shooting, which is then followed up by a section where you dodge stuff, but otherwise helpless; unless you’re playing with a certain playstyle, in which case, you only get a longer version of the first section.

As you’re stationary in the shooting sections, downing enemies is more of a matter of timing than anything. Tapping the right side of the screen fires, with a bar dictating how much you can shoot at a given time, emphasizing timing your shots over firing like crazy. Meanwhile, as you can’t dodge enemies, you get a shield that you can control with the left side of the screen, with similar management to shooting. Timing when to shield is initially easy, but in later levels where enemy shots are more relentless, timing becomes more about management so that you don’t run out and get hit.

Then come the dodging segments, which come in three quick to play varieties. You tap the left and right parts of the screen to shift around, dodging obstacles. If you get hit, you don’t lose health – rather, you lose some of the coins that you got from shooting enemies from the previous segment.

The brief dodging segment then goes into a shopping menu. You use your coins to buy health, shot and shield upgrades for your plane. I  recommend focusing on maxing out your shield as soon as possible, because I really can’t imagine doing the end game stuff without maxed out shields. Also, at the end of a world, you’re given a short level where the goal is to break some orb, which gives you perk list to choose from that includes things such as having shields absorb bullets to increase your ammo or making your projectiles capable of hitting two enemies in one shot.

Also in the shop menu, you can use your coins to heal. Why is there no between level healing? It’s because Highwind is an endurance test. Rather than being a game where you take stages on individually, it’s a game where you have to go through as many of the stages as possible in one go. Lose all of your health? Gotta start over from the beginning, no upgrades or anything.

After a run, your score gets added up to a meter and upon passing a threshold, you unlock different things to play around with. One type of unlock lets you start out with a different ship that gives different starting stats while the second unlock type gives you different modes, or, play styles. I personally prefer the laser play style, which replaces your normal shots with an instant but ammo-inefficient laser beam; it’s real fun to use combined with that perk that lets you hit two enemies.

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So, the presentation of the shooting sections of the game is a nice take on the genre, stressing resource management and timing. The game plays around with the timing aspect by placing all sorts of objects on screen, such as a rotating arrow that redirects your shots to wherever its pointing to a sort of energy field that slows/speeds up the shots of your ship’s and the enemies depending on which way it’s pointing, which throws off your ordinary timing of shooting and shielding. Later worlds go on to screw with you with more enemy types, like planes that randomly warp ahead in their path, ramping up the challenge and keeping things fresh.

(Those manta ray-like ships with their own deflecting shields can fuck off, though.)

I just kinda wished that the dodging segments that happen after them were just as unique or got harder as you progressed. There’s the variant where you control two planes at once, but there aren’t any curveballs thrown at you after that in the terms of more mechanics or more difficult patterns. If these segments got any harder later in the game, I honestly didn’t notice.

The stylings definitely reminds me of Nanuleu with its bright minimalist visuals and calm instruments on top of increasingly frantic gameplay. It’s a contrast that I really enjoy and I guess is something that I can expect from Selva Interactive. Its aesthetics also sort of feels fitting for the platform, its design reflecting the sleek and clean style that Apple tries to position itself with.

Highwind is a pretty neat iPhone game and while I wish that there was more to the dodging segments, the overall experience is still pretty enjoyable and it’s hard to argue against its reasonable $0.99 price. A version of the game’s coming out soon for Android too, so if you have that instead of an iPhone, maybe keep your eye out for that.

Even the Ocean

The world is a balance of dark and light energy, horizontal and vertical. Whiteforge City stands as a shining beacon of civilization, empowered by power plants scattered around the continent, technological marvels made in balance with nature. After an accident that kills her senior, a woman named Aliph is tasked to check on the power plants, which are threatened by odd biological monsters that may herald greater disasters.

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