enfrdeitptrues

Shooting

  • Ace Banana (PSVR)

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    Game Info:

    Ace Banana
    Developed by: Oasis Games
    Published by: Oasis Games
    Release Date: October 13, 2016 
    Available on: PlayStation VR
    Genre: Shooter
    Number of players: Single-player, multiplayer in the works
    ESRB Rating: Everyone
    Price: $14.99

    Thank you Oasis Games for sending us a review code!

    It’s great to see kid friendly games available on the PlayStation VR platform.  The cute monkeys and premise of shooting them with plunger arrows is bound to attract kids and aspiring archers alike.  No matter what attracts you to this title, be warned that your arms will get a workout even though the move controllers are not that heavy.

    When you first fire up the game you’ll read a comic book style story about how the bananas and monkeys used to live in peace, but those days are long gone.  Now the bananas are in danger and it’s up to you to save them.  Not only do you get to pelt monkeys with various projectiles, you get to raise baby bananas too!  By showering young bananas with water, fertilizer, and sunlight, they’ll grow up and offer a unique attack style to fend off swarms of monkeys and bosses.  The monkeys are pretty sneaky and have different offensive and defensive tactics.  Fortunately, you have some tricks up your sleeve as well!

    In the beginning the monkeys are “au natural” and easy to pick off with your bow and plunger style arrows.  It doesn’t take long for the monkeys to get younger, faster, and tougher, requiring more than one shot to take down. The construction worker themed monkeys need to have their helmets knocked off their heads before they can be shot down.  Other monkeys fight back by flinging paint at you that blocks your vision temporarily.  

    Ace Banana
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Cute concept and aesthetics
    Weak Points: The move controllers constantly need to be re-calibrated; inaccurate aiming makes this game more frustrating than fun
    Moral Warnings: Cartoon violence; one of the male bananas shows off all of his chest muscles

    Some of the monkeys leave behind new ammo which can be collected by shooting at it.  Besides plungers, you get to shoot out badmintons, frogs, fish, garlic, lollipops, fruit wedges and more!  Instead of ammo you may also collect single use attacks like pandas that will roll down every road and knock down monkeys as if they were bowling pins.  

    If you still have bananas left at the end of the wave, you’ll advance to the next one with harder foes.  It doesn’t take long before monkeys will spawn from two different areas and you’ll have to teleport between locations to get to them.  After a few waves, a boss will show up and you’ll have to discover and attack its weakness to progress further.  In total there are sixteen levels to see provided you can survive the poor camera controls.

    Ace Banana isn’t the first PSVR game I have played that has movement tracking issues, so it could be a platform issue.  However, since this game relies on accuracy to succeed, frustration quickly sets in when you cannot hit nearby monkeys due to calibration problems.  Recalibrating is easy to do and only takes a couples of seconds by holding the start button on the side of the move controller.  Having to recalibrate every three minutes is unacceptable and those valuable seconds will quickly end your game when your bananas are surrounded by monkeys or are being sucked up by a giant mechanical boss.  Even my children were getting flustered while playing and they generally have more patience than I do.

    Ace Banana
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 58%
    Gameplay - 11/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 3/5
    Controls - 0/5

    Morality Score - 93%
    Violence - 8/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 8.5/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    Besides calibration issues, the game interface is a bit confusing.  There’s a book that you can open to see how many types of monkeys and weapons you’ve come across in your adventures.  Opening the book was easy enough, but closing the book was not possible.  We tried pressing the suggested buttons on the regular controller to no avail and had to exit the game entirely to get out of the book screen.  Thankfully none of our progress was lost in the process.

    Hopefully these issues will be addressed before they roll out the multiplayer update.   No release date has been scheduled as of this review.   If nothing improves then up to four players will be able to get frustrated simultaneously!   

    The asking price is $14.99, but given the current tracking issues I’d hold off on buying this game until it gets fixed.  I really hope it does get rectified soon since this is a short but cute game that has potential.

     

  • Aperion Cyberstorm (Switch)

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    Game Info:

    Aperion Cyberstorm
    Developed by: aPriori Digital
    Published by: aPriori Digital
    Release date: February 8, 2018
    Available on: Switch, Windows
    Genre: Twin-stick Shooter
    Number of players: Up to five
    ESRB Rating: E10+ for fantasy violence
    Price: $14.99

    Thank you aPriori Digital for sending us this game to review!

    Aperion Cyberstorm is a hybrid twin-stick shooter/bullet heck for up to five players. There are plenty of enemies to shoot and avoid and the power-ups are ample. Between the three game modes (campaign, versus, and onslaught) there is plenty to keep players occupied on the go with the Switch version.

    The disadvantage of the Switch version are the controls. Most players will be confined to a single joy-con to play with. The one joystick on is used for movement and the shooting is done via the four buttons along with some diagonal combos. Whoever has the pro controller will have a serious advantage. Playing solo is possible, but like many games, this one is more fun in groups.

    The story is serviceable in the campaign mode, though the dialogue is a bit dry. Enemy factions are closing in on the planet Cadriga, and this is the home of Kate, Sam, and Joseph. Before they can flee, the bombs begin to drop. You must reunite them and take out the faction along the way.

    Aperion Cyberstorm
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Multiplayer gameplay with lots of enemies and power-ups
    Weak Points: Uninteresting dialogue and the gameplay gets repetitive after a while
    Moral Warnings: Spaceship violence

    No matter which game mode you embark on, you get to customize your ship by configuring its model, color, initials, and starting load out. In the beginning of the campaign mode, you only have three ships to choose from, and they have different strengths and weaknesses in matters of offense, defense, and speed. The starting firing modes of rapid fire and spread shot are nice, but you’ll unlock other abilities like cross fire and shield boosts before too long.

    As you blast away enemy ships and harmless crystals, they’ll release energy shards which are used for healing and faster abilities. Sometimes a power-up will appear, which often has a wider blast radius. Sometimes a power-up will appear that can counter incoming swarms in one swoop. The power-ups are typically elemental and affect the enemies in different ways. For example, the ice power-up will temporarily freeze or slowdown the bad guys.

    There are three difficulty levels, and the easiest (explorer) is incredibly boring. Do yourself a favor and start off with the fighter or veteran mode. Naturally, battling against people you know is always the best, so the versus mode is a good place to start if you have trigger happy friends.

    Here’s a breakdown of the versus game modes:

    Deadline – Whoever has the most points when the time runs out, wins.
    Last Stand – Each ship only has one life, and whomever is the last one alive is victorious.
    Titan – The player with the most points is the titan and the target for everyone else.
    Battle Ball – Everyone must hunt the target and receive points for each time they hit it.
    King – Everyone must battle for a key area on the map.
    Control – Whoever holds the most territories and points, wins.
    Salvage – Collect and use all of the abilities that are only good once.
    Free For All – Your typical death match which is determined by who gets the most kills first
    Team Battle – Whichever team kills the most from the opposing team wins
    Hardcore Team Battle – Just like Team Battle but with friendly fire!

    Aperion Cyberstorm
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 74%
    Gameplay - 14/20
    Graphics - 6/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 4/5

    Morality Score - 94%
    Violence - 7/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    The versus game modes can be customized to end by points ranging from 5 to 50. There is also an infinite play mode if that’s appealing to you. Cooperative gameplay is also available in the Onslaught mode, which gets progressively harder after each wave of enemies is cleared. How long can you and your friends survive?

    Visually, Aperion Cyberstorm is pretty simplistic when it comes to the graphics. The ships vary in size and style, but they’re not incredibly detailed. The energy crystals spilling out of them upon defeat are kind of pretty.

    There is no voice acting, but the sound effects get the job done. I liked the electronic background music and found it fitting for this title. Unfortunately, the soundtrack is not available for purchase on Steam or Nintendo’s eShop.

    The asking price of $14.99 is reasonable given the plethora of game modes to play. Since the single-player gameplay can get repetitive at times, I only recommend grabbing this game if you have friends to play along with and a pro controller to fight over.

  • Astervoid 2000 (PC)

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    Game Info:

    Astervoid 2000
    Developed By: Mad Capacity, LREVG
    Published By: Mad Capacity, LREVG
    Released: December 1, 2016
    Available On: Linux, macOS, Windows
    Genre: Top-down arcade shooter
    ESRB Rating: N/A
    Number of Players: 1-4 offline
    Price: $9.99

    Thanks to Mad Capacity and LREVG for the review key!

    Once upon a time, buying a game meant you had access to all of its content. Said content may be simple, but ultimately pure in both scope and gameplay. Even now, in the era of loot boxes, micro-transactions, and season passes, it’s the straightforward gameplay-focused games that stand out. It helps, like with Astervoid 2000, if the game is a thoroughly well-built product.

    Astervoid 2000 is uncomplicated in its premise: it’s an amalgamation of Atari games, featuring Asteroid-like environmental obstacles and Combat-esque multiplayer mayhem. Two to four player-controlled spaceships, or one against an ever-increasing number of AI-driven ships, duke it out in a constantly-shifting asteroid belt. The ships, while having six different designs, operate the same: a rapid-fire shot that can be charged for a powerful shorter-range blast, a quick dash, and a melee attack activated by dashing with a full charge. Ships have a shield that slowly recharges that can take one regular shot; a charge shot, a melee attack, or an unshielded attack means destruction. Asteroids drift in and out of the field, and come in four flavors: standard, explosive, reflective, and indestructible. They can’t directly harm your ship, but can push you around and interrupt your shots. A large, neutral battleship can occasionally drift in as well, randomly peppering the field with large green bullets.

    Astervoid 2000
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Great game design; tight controls
    Weak Points: Results screen takes a bit too long
    Moral Warnings: Ship-to-ship combat; a heavily abbreviated swear (“f’n”)

    In the single-player survival mode, your only objective is to take out as many enemies before you explode. Every four rounds, the number of enemies increase, and it won’t be long until you’re juggling six ships, a full asteroid belt, and a stray battleship. The multiplayer aspect is as you’d expect: up to four players, up to two teams, up to a certain number of kills. The survival mode comes with an online leaderboard; the multiplayer is, by design, local only.

    This is, in essence, the entirety of Astervoid 2000 – a relatively simple game, but executed masterfully. The controls are tight and responsive, the gameplay is fluid, and the mechanics work in tandem with each other to add a surprising amount of depth. Normal shots cancel each other out, while charged shots blast through just about anything. Your ship slows to a crawl if it’s holding a charge, with the risk offset by the potential for a one-hit kill. Melee attacks make you effectively invulnerable, but wide open upon completion. Firing any shots at all push your ship backwards a little, potentially putting you in a bad position. Rarely, a killing blow will send your ship into self-destruct mode, letting you attempt to pilot your doomed craft to catch foes in the explosion. When it all comes together, it creates a fast-paced, well designed, engaging game.

    It’s hard to pick out a weak spot in such a tightly-knit experience – the results screen lingers a bit too long and can’t be skipped or sped up, but that’s about it. The lack of online multiplayer might be a sticking point as well, but since the game is built around the premise of couch co-op, you can’t really fault it. It’s also rather hard to get four players on one computer at once; this is one game that would actually benefit from a console port. Overall, it’s a game best enjoyed in short bursts and with friends, but it’s always enjoyable and easy to come back to.

    Astervoid 2000
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 90%
    Gameplay - 19/20
    Graphics - 9/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 90%
    Violence - 7/10
    Language - 8/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    Graphically, the game is rather impressive, making use of both competent pixel art and more modern particle effects. Ships and bullets are colorful and easy to discern from the background, and the different asteroid types are obvious at a glance. There are some nice subtle details to it as well, with some wispy clouds and a neat flashlight effect on the front arc of every ship. The songs made for Astervoid 2000 are good, but tend to fade into the background of the in-game chaos. The sound effects do their jobs well, fitting nicely with their paired actions.

    Morally, the game holds up just fine. Ship-to-ship combat is the focus of the game, though there’s not even any indication that these crafts are manned. In one of the opening splash screens, there’s a heavily-abbreviated swear word, as the game tells you it’s best enjoyed on a “big f’n TV” – otherwise, there's little text to be seen. In every other respect, this game is safe for all ages to enjoy.

    In an environment where too many games chase too many demographics, Astervoid 2000 is refreshing: it knows what it is, and executes near-perfectly. If you enjoy old-school arcade titles and can get a lot of mileage out of short, pick-up-and-play sessions, Astervoid 2000 is certainly worth the price of admission. If you have three like-minded friends – and three wired controllers – it’s a must-buy.

    -Cadogan

  • Bucket Knight (PC)

     

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    Game Info:

    Bucket Knight
    Developed By: PigeonDev
    Published By: PigeonDev
    Released: September 20, 2019
    Available On: Windows
    Genre: Run ‘n gun platformer
    ESRB Rating: N/A
    Number of Players: Single-player
    Price: $4.99

    Thanks to PigeonDev for the review key!

    Bucket Knight is a run ‘n gun platformer where it’s more fun to run than it is to gun, and nothing is stopping you from ignoring almost all the game’s core mechanics. From watching the trailer it looked fast-paced and fluid. In reality, fighting the large number of enemies on the screen is a slog and more often than not, a waste of time.

    The goal of each level is to simply get to the exit. Sometimes there are minor puzzles to hinder you with the exit often being blocked behind a locked door. Enemies and traps are rampant but seeing as the objective never requires actually fighting these baddies, they become irrelevant and annoying. Even the most basic enemy types in this game take several hits to kill, and when you add up the dozens of enemies on each level, to spend time clearing the level of foes could realistically take up to 10 minutes. Up until the fourth area, I had no issues simply ignoring the enemies and just dodging the badly designed bullets they send my way. Bullets that travel way too fast for the kind of level design the game wants, and a lot of the time are useless to consider genuinely attempting to dodge. You end up taking more damage trying to fight things than you do by just running past them.

    Bucket Knight
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Okay art style
    Weak Points: Clunky; terrible enemy placement and design; annoying menus and UI
    Moral Warnings: Skeletons and goblins; various guns are used by you and enemies

    You can spend an (absurd) amount of gold to get a new weapon that’ll still take several hits to kill an enemy. After going through about 60% of the game I had only been able to unlock the basic machinegun upgrade because things simply cost too much. Maybe it was because I wasn’t killing enemies for most of the game, but currency seemed very stingy and I was stuck with the starting pistol for most of my time.

    The platforming itself is…serviceable. I enjoyed leaping from platform to platform ignoring all the angry skeletons and bats around me. It feels a bit heavy and the jump height is a bit low, and sometimes I could clip into the edge of a platform. Level design itself was decent aside from enemy placement - medium-sized levels with some secrets here and there and some nice trap design.

    Bucket Knight
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 46%
    Gameplay - 3/20
    Graphics - 6/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 2/5

    Morality Score - 87%
    Violence - 6.5/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    The menus, UI, and controls are all terrible. Nothing explains to you the controls and there is no option to rebind anything. Movement wasn’t fluid and everything felt a bit stiff. Navigating the small amount of menu systems the game had was a pain and even the main menu isn’t 100% clear on what does what.

    Combat is against various fantasy creatures such as skeletons, goblins, and bats. Guns are used by both the player and the enemies, however, they just shoot colorful circles. Some enemies on dying spew out a small amount of green goo and that’s as far as blood goes. Words are never spoken so there’s no reason to worry about language issues.

    The only thing this game has going for it is the art style, but even that is hindered with colors sometimes meshing. On the outside this looked to be a fairly fun but standard run ‘n gun shooter, but once you’re playing it just isn’t worth putting time or money into.

  • Clay Hunt Pro (Android)

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    Game Info:

    Clay Hunt Pro
    Developed by: Aleksi Rantonen
    Release date: June 21, 2017
    Available on: Android, iOS
    Genre: Simulation, Shooter
    Number of players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: Not rated
    Price: $4.99

    Thank you Aleksi Rantonen for sending us this game to review!

    While I have never gone clay hunting, I have gone to shooting ranges and have fired .22, .38, and .357 caliber guns. I imagine that a shotgun has some significant kickback and expensive ammo which are issues that you won’t have to worry about in Clay Hunt Pro. After playing this title, I’m convinced that I would waste a lot of ammo and money missing flying targets as my hand-eye coordination is not getting any better with age.

    When you first launch the game you have the option of doing a live event via Facebook or going to the virtual shooting range. With my poor scores, I certainly wasn’t going to make a fool of myself by doing a live event. Despite the simplified controls and lack of recoil, the physics seem pretty good for this 3D shooting simulation game. While there are arcade game modes, this title is nothing like the classic Duck Hunt game from the NES era. If you’re looking for a silly shooter, you’ll want to look elsewhere.

    Clay Hunt Pro
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: All of the thrills of missing pigeons while not having to pay for ammo
    Weak Points: Targets are too small and hard to hit; minimal sound and visuals
    Moral Warnings: You can shoot virtual pigeons/birds

    Going through the tutorial is logical and mandatory. In the tutorial you’ll learn the basic controls which are pretty simple. Tapping on the screen raises the shotgun and preps it for shooting. You can move it around and position it by dragging the screen. When you’re ready to fire you have to tap the screen. The aiming and accuracy is on you and after you fire you’ll get a point for hitting the target and be shown the trajectory of your shot versus the target’s path. The results are handy in telling how close or off you were from the target.

    If you don’t like the point of view or point of impact settings, you can change them in the game’s settings menu. To get you acquainted with the controls your first task will be to shoot down targets that pop up from the ground. Your next targets will be moving horizontally and are easy to hit since they’re bigger than the clay and bird pigeons you can fire at later.

    Clay Hunt Pro
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 74%
    Gameplay - 15/20
    Graphics - 6/10
    Sound - 6/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 95%
    Violence - 7.5/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    After the tutorial is completed you’ll have access to the Arcade Hall which lets you shoot popup targets and non-clay pigeons. The popup targets are the easiest thing to hit in the game and in the arcade mode your goal is to hit as many of them as you can before the timer bar depletes. Whenever you miss, the timer bar shrinks faster. In the pigeon hunt mode you have two and a half minutes to shoot down as many pigeons as possible. While there are a decent amount of pigeons to shoot at, hitting them takes a lot of luck and/or skill. This game keeps track of your highest scores and my best for the pigeon hunt is three.

    The main game has eight Trap levels and six Skeet levels. You cannot advance to the higher level without completing the previous one. In the trap mode you only have one shot to hit the clay pigeon. In the skeet mode you at least know the direction they’re coming from and you have two tries. While both modes are challenging, I did much better in the skeet mode, but not enough to warrant getting even one out of three stars available. As a result I wasn’t able to unlock the rest of the levels.

    Even though I wasn’t good at this game, it’s still fun and challenging. I’m curious of what people who have gone clay hunting will think of this title. The regular version of the game sells for $1.25 and has positive reviews. Any aspiring clay hunters should check their reflexes with these games.

  • Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade (Switch)

     

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    Game Info:

    Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade
    Developed By: TAITO Corporation
    Published By: ININ Games
    Released: June 16, 2020
    Available On: Nintendo Switch; PlayStation 4; classic arcades
    Genre: Shoot 'em up
    ESRB Rating: E for Mild Fantasy Violence
    Number of Players: 1-2 local with online leaderboards
    Price: $44.99

    Thank you ININ Games for sending us this game collection to review!

    The 1980s and 1990s were hallowed decades in the shoot 'em up genre. The games that created and then defined them were released in this time, and Darius certainly belongs in that hallowed list, along with Gradius, R-Type, and no doubt others I've forgotten about. While many games had successful conversions to home consoles, Darius included (we reviewed the Console edition of this very collection here, the arcade originals are always the standards that every game since is compared against. And indeed, these offer something truly unique and worth celebrating.

    The basic format of the games should be somewhat familiar to fans of the genre. You fly left to right, blasting enemies out of the sky with either your blaster, bombs, or both. You can collect various orbs that enemies drop, to make your weapons stronger, which can help them do more damage or cover more area (or perhaps both). There are also pickups that grant you shields so you can take more than one hit before you die. You fight bosses at the end of each level, to make sure you're skilled enough to tackle what's next. Many games use this format, but this one is not without differentiators.

    Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Excellent emulation of some classic shoot 'em up games; nice new added features like save states, replays, online leaderboards, and training mode 
    Weak Points: Pricey for what's on offer 
    Moral Warnings: ININ Games for sending us this game collection to review! 

    Arcade games in their heyday would often have some gimmick, or something else unique that would draw gamers in so they would keep pumping in those quarters. Back in those days, widescreen monitors were not common, and tube monitors were cheap and plentiful. Horizontal shooters often suffer from a lack of visibility; you don't have a lot of time to react once the enemy appears on screen. Darius' solution is the rather brilliant triple screen setup. They actually installed three tubes into the same arcade cabinet, and used mirrors with two of them to make the gameplay appear as one seamless three-screen playing area. Nowadays, we are blessed with giant TVs with high pixel density, so it's easy to recreate that experience using a single, large screen. That's what this collection does.

    I have to say that playing Darius in ultra widescreen is a revelation. You get so much screen real estate, and you have so much more time and space to deal with incoming ships, it's just awesome. It's pretty tiny on the Switch's small screen, but usable. On a large TV, it works really well and it's lots of fun. I played it both solo and with my son as two players simultaneously. What I found interesting is that you can actually get in each other's way, but you have more than enough space to easily make that work.

    There are three versions of Darius included in this collection. They are mostly simple balance tweaks. There is the original, the 'new version' which seems to be a bit easier according to the description, and the 'extra version' that has an easier first half and a more difficult second half, again, based on the description. All three versions include the large tree of branching levels, as you can choose to go up or down after defeating a boss, which means no two runs have to be the same. There is a good variety of levels, and I like how this game is less pattern memorization and more skill than other shooter games of that era.

    Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 82%
    Gameplay - 16/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 94%
    Violence - 7/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    The second set of games is Darius II, and its close cousin Sagaia. These are both based on the same engine, but Darius II has much longer levels. Apparently Darius II was Japan only, while Sagaia came West. Darius II is clearly the better game when you play them, but there's certainly a place for a short and sweet battle against space fish also. These games were dual screen, rather than triple. It fits well on modern 16:9 TVs, and the pixels are noticeably larger than they are with the triple-screen games, but there's a lot less wasted space, also. While I love the novelty of Darius' super wide viewport, these games seem the most natural played on the Switch.

    The last game is Darius Gaiden, which is a single-screen game released quite a bit later, in 1994. It plays great and certainly looks better, with really smooth animation, scrolling, and so on. It also has a crazy amount of weapon upgrades, and as usual, tons of levels. My son likes this game the best, while I'm partial to Darius (the three screens are great).

    I have to say, I like the Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade quite a bit more than the Console collection, which I reviewed first. Sure, they are all great games, and the console one has more variety. But each game in the arcade collection has the polish you would expect, and with unlimited credits, and various adjustable knobs through the training mode, I personally find it more enjoyable. (It should be noted that on some games, you can't continue on the final level, as the game expects you to use skill rather than pumping in quarters to beat the final level.) The price is also better, which is a nice touch. Morally, both are basically identical, where you fly a spaceship that shoots other ships, missiles, bionic fish, and so on. While neither game collection is a bargain, this arcade collection is the one to get if you are on the fence and looking into the Darius series. While I enjoyed the console games, this one motivated me to look into other entries - including DARIUSBURST on Steam, which based on what I'm seeing so far, I really look forward to sinking some serious time into.

  • Deathstate: Abyssal Edition (PC)

     

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Deathstate: Abyssal Edition
    Developed By: Bread Machine Games
    Published By: Black Shell Media
    Released: October 20, 2015
    Available On: Windows, macOS, PS4
    Genre: Twin-Stick Shooter, Rogue-like
    ESRB Rating: Teen for violence, blood, and crude humor
    Number of Players: Single-player
    Price: $9.99

    Thanks to Black Shell Media for sending over a key for review!

    Deathstate is a twin-stick shooter rogue-like with heavy Lovecraftian themes. Although calling it a twin-stick might be the wrong wording because the core mechanic is that you don’t press any buttons to shoot. With the removal of a focus on shooting, the game is designed around careful maneuvering and positioning.

    As usual with the genre, you’ll be running around in random dungeons collecting loot, killing enemies, and dying repeatedly. There are 12 floors with a boss fight every 4 floors. Each floor is pretty large, chock full of enemies, shops, and other things to mess with. The level generation is varied enough, but nothing special. The enemy variation is good enough; there are usually 3 or 4 enemy types in each zone. The powerups you can pick up are the most interesting part of the game. Runs end up pretty different from each other not in level generation or gameplay loop, but the items you come across.

    In Deathstate, you don’t need to press a button to shoot your weapons. Your character will automatically shoot at enemies within range. With that in mind, the developers were able to ramp up the amount of dodging needing to be done. Most enemies shoot some small bullet pattern, and most of the time there will be some sort of bullet coming towards you. This doesn’t end up being a problem, because you don’t even need to think about shooting back. This can either be seen as something interesting and new, or as a hindrance. Sometimes the character will shoot at an enemy that you aren’t as worried about, and you don’t have control over that. It’s the one thing that Deathstate does that’s a little bit different, but it’s a change that doesn’t do much to innovate and isn’t significant enough to really matter.

    Deathstate: Abyssal Edition
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Run variation is decent; plenty of content
    Weak Points: Too standard for its own good; collision has some issues; pacing can be a little slow; hard on the eyes sometimes
    Moral Warnings: Organs as powerups; Pentagram-esque patterns; demonic-like, undead, and cthulhu-like figures

    Despite not needing to think about aiming, you will have to think about your active items. You can carry two active items which require mana to use. These abilities can be flames that shoot in all directions, temporary invincibility, or even a teleport. On the other hand, there are passive weapons to find. There’s a decent number of new weapons to pick up in the game, and these are really what makes each run a little bit different. Sometimes you will be firing lasers, other times bubbles. You can also find potions all over the place that give random effects until you identify them. Lastly, there are stat upgrades. These are the items you will find the most. Most of them have both positive and negative effects.

    Surprisingly for how many bullets Deathstate expects you to dodge, it isn’t a difficult game by rogue-like standards. Personally, I beat my third attempt at it, which was disappointing. I go into the genre expecting a significant challenge, and Deathstate looked like it would be incredibly difficult, even outside of my territory. I think this title could be a great entry point for someone new to rogue-likes, but for veterans it won’t be tough.

    Deathstate: Abyssal Edition
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 76%
    Gameplay - 14/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 4/5

    Morality Score - 62%
    Violence - 4/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 8.5/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 0/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8.5/10

    The controls are nearly perfect. Everything is responsive and feels good. Maneuvering between bullets feels smooth, and I never felt like I got cheated into taking damage. The soundtrack is a little repetitive, but overall fits the atmosphere perfectly. It has a very eerie tone to it. Sound effects are okay, but not noteworthy. The general art work is fine, but nothing great. The only issue with the graphics is that there are several filters put over everything, so it can hurt the eyes if you get motion sickness. As for bugs, I haven’t found anything significant other than the character has some issues when near walls.

    Deathstate has a lot of moral issues. Enemies will drop items labeled as organs. Weapons are always magical, such as spellbooks. When you use an active ability, it puts a large pentagram-esque pattern on the ground. The whole theme of the game is Lovecraftian, so everything from Cthulhu-like and undead enemies to magical spells. Although there isn’t any blood or cursing that I’ve found, if that’s worth anything. I would say to avoid this one if you aren’t okay with occult usage in every direction.

    This title offers almost nothing new to the genre. It is very standard in execution; from level generation, to items, to enemies. It’s all been done before, and in a lot of ways done better. Deathstate feels polished for the most part, but I’d rather something unique than polished. I do want to mention that I have a lot of fun with the game; I’ve put some time into it and want to put in more. This doesn’t mean it’s a game I would tell others they absolutely need in their library. You can do much better. If anything, if the moral issues don’t worry you, and the game truly looks like a must-have, wait for a sale.

  • Deceit (PC)

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    Game Info:

    Deceit
    Developed By: Automation; Baseline Games
    Published By: Automation
    Released: March 3, 2017
    Available On: Windows
    Genre: Action, Shooter
    ESRB Rating: Not Rated
    Number of Players: 6 players online/LAN
    Price: Free to play

    Thank you Automation for sending us a review code! (Note: We received a code for this game from a time when it had to be purchased.)

    It’s like Mario Party, but for adults—in the sense that you’ll end up with strained friendships, not the whole minigame virtual board game aspect. Deceit is the name of this first-person shooter. You’ll have to cooperate with your team or deceive the ones around you to escape out of the dark abandoned facilities, or slaughter the ones trying to escape. It is both a competitive and cooperative game at the same time!

    Six players will start in a room, but out of those six players, two of them will be infected. In truth, the game is a 4v2, but the innocents have no idea who is an innocent, or even an infected—whereas the infected players know exactly who is who. Deceit plays in stages where the first stage, everyone collects supplies such as armor, ammo for your pistol, and special items to help you out such as cameras, flashlights, antidotes, and even a lethal injection. These items are unlocked through cooperation such as one person standing on a switch while the other person takes it or through minigames like target practice. Meanwhile, the infected players must collect blood bags from around the area without being spotted. Infected players also can collect all of the same items, which adds further into the whole deception aspect.

    Deceit
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: A unique concept for the genre; microtransactions are fair
    Weak Points: Priced DLC that unlocks new Infected; playing solo can be a very strenuous experience; lacks depth (mechanically)
    Moral Warnings: Blood; violence; supernatural creatures called Terrors; heavily encourages lying, trickery, and deception to get ahead; strong language and blasphemy through the diary entries

    The second stage is the blackout stage, where the monsters come out and play. This is when the infected can turn into the Terrors, creatures who prowl the darkness, but only if they have a full blood meter (which takes either three full bags or six half bags of blood). Infected are vulnerable to the light when transformed, so this is the reason why cameras and flashlights have such an effect on them. During this stage, the innocents must run around and collect fuses to reactivate the power. Infected can halt the process by collecting fuses themselves as humans, or eliminate players as a monster.

    After it loops again to the first stage after the blackout, it will then go into the final stage where any innocents left must escape and the infected are now enraged. Being enraged means they can transform no matter how much or little blood they have, and it becomes a last-ditch effort to kill the rest of the survivors. I sure hope all those items the innocents stockpiled throughout are of use. Infected players may have a disadvantage in raw numbers, but they make up for it by being able to kill innocents in one hit. Matches last between five and fifteen minutes, making Deceit quick to pick up and play.

    The level-up system takes inspiration from Overwatch and similarly styled games. Every level gives you a token in which you can exchange with the dealer to gain various cosmetics. The process is rather unique as it is in the style of a memory cup game. What’s interesting is that if any of the cups are a rare or legendary cosmetic, they will glow purple or gold. The experience you gain through matches to level up also grants you a skill tree where you can purchase passive perks to give you a slight edge over everyone else. The microtransactions are pretty fair because the biggest purchase is around $35, and you level up fairly quickly, giving you plenty of opportunities to obtain lots of poses and skins.

    Deceit
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 70%
    Gameplay - 14/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 3/5
    Controls - 4/5

    Morality Score - 59%
    Violence - 2.5/10
    Language - 5/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 5/10

    The main draw of Deceit is the use of deception, feeling like a digital version of Mafia or Werewolf. Since this is a highly communicative game, you’ll want a working microphone or headset. Although there isn’t much depth in the game mechanics, the bulk of it comes from the way you deceive others. Sometimes, as an infected, you may want to help out others to take the suspicion off of you. When you take a blood bag, you can even use this trust that you gained from prior moments of teamwork to blame an innocent nearby and have them eliminated early. Trickery goes both ways; as an innocent, you can hide around in areas to see who picks up the blood bag or even ask information such as the distance to the exit (as infected players are unaware of this information). Since you have to constantly lie to get ahead, Deceit isn’t the most moral game out there and its probably best to avoid this if you’re uncomfortable with constant deceitfulness. Other warnings include the graphic violence, blood, and dead bodies all over, and that the Terrors are of supernatural elements, such as yetis and werewolves. There are also diary entries scattered throughout the levels that have blasphemy and harsh languages such as f**k and s**t.

    Playing solo in Deceit is like taking all of the worst aspects of any multiplayer game and blending it together into one messy package. Regions and servers are not locked and anyone can join any region, so the language barrier shows itself quickly. Deceit holds a high Chinese and Russian audience due to its free to play nature, so more often than not you’ll run into someone that you cannot communicate with unless you happen to know Mandarin or Russian yourself. People without mics are also present and the only way you can communicate with them is with the chat or quick chat (voice commands). The chat is slow (and the added effect that they may not know your language) and while the quick chat bypasses the language barrier, it is also barebones and is only slightly better than being silent. A lack of anti-cheat system means you’ll run into your fair share of hackers, with the matches crashing every once in a while (any experience gained in the game is lost). Lower levels are plagued with people who refuse to communicate or trolls, while higher levels are filled with others that take the experience way too seriously—or trolls, leading to very hostile moments.

    There also exists DLC for Deceit. With the nature of the game, one would think that it would simply be cosmetics. Unfortunately, the DLC is playable Infected: the werewolf and the vampire. The only way you can get them is by purchasing them. In free to play games, I never liked the form of DLC that gives paying players an advantage over others and it in itself is bad practice.

    As of 2019, the original developer, Automation, closed their doors and a new developer by the name of Baseline Games took over. Only time will tell if Baseline Games can give the much needed supported Deceit needs. I would love to see a more robust voice system—something like HiRez Studio’s voice guided system (VGS), a huge list of preset voice commands accessed through a few keystrokes. Even with its flaws and lack of depth, Deceit is a fine game, but only if you play with your friends. The solo experience is for masochists only as there is just too much nonsense within and the whole state of Deceit doesn’t play kindly to a solo experience. If you have five or more like-minded friends, I’m sure you’ll have a good time working together and hoodwinking each other. There are only four maps (with the fifth one in the works), and a handful of items and Infected so this one is best played in short bursts. Be prepared to have someone mad at you at the end of the frightful night.

     

  • Demon’s Crystals (Xbox One)

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    Game Info:

    Demon’s Crystals 
    Developed by: Byte4Games, StarCruiser Studio
    Published by: Badland Games
    Available on: Linux, macOS, PS4, Windows, Xbox One
    Release date: May 11, 2017
    Genre: Twin Stick Shooter
    Number of players: Up to four locally
    ESRB Rating: Teen for Blood and Violence
    Price: $4.99

    Thank you Badland Games for sending us this game to review!

    Demon’s Crystals is a 3D twin stick shooter that arrived on PC in 2016. Nearly a year later, console players can now enjoy this $5 game. While a story isn't really needed, I’ll share it with you now. Urican demons have been on the top of the food chain until strange beings arrived that changed the peaceful inhabitants into hostile ones. It’s now up to the Urican demons to bring things back to the way they once were.

    The arcade mode can be played solo or cooperatively with friends. In this mode you have to clear several levels before facing off against a boss. In order to complete a level you’ll have to satisfy the requirements of collecting a specified number of crystals or eliminating a certain amount of enemies. Oftentimes you’ll have to do a little bit of both. I like how the progress is saved and that the players can resurrect each other as often as needed. If you die alone or with a friend, you’ll have to restart the current level. You can continue as often as you like, which is nice. If this was genuine arcade game, I would have lost a lot of quarters!

    Like all twin stick shooters, one of the joysticks is used for movement while the other guides a constant stream of bullets. The default firing mode isn’t that powerful, but thankfully there are many fun power-ups that spawn in random locations. Some of the power-ups change the formation of your bullets or create multidirectional streams. One of my favorite power-ups are the huge rockets that are good by themselves and even better when you can shoot three at a time! The invincibility mushrooms are nice too. Health and additional time bonuses are always welcome as they are often in short supply. You have to be careful at what you grab since there are debuffs as well that subtract time or confuse your controls.

    Demon’s Crystals
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Fun twin stick shooter that’s great to play alone or with friends; low price
    Weak Points: A tad repetitive, but fun in short spurts; no online play
    Moral Warnings: Shooting at zombies, skeletons, and other various monsters; rune/magic use; revealing outfits

    The survival mode is the only one that does not allow for more than one player. As the title suggests, your goal in this mode is to survive as long as possible while trying to earn a high score. Sadly, there is no option for online play so you’ll need to recruit some family or friends to play with or against.

    If you’re the competitive type, there are six multiplayer modes to choose from. Here’s a quick breakdown of them:

    Crystal Quest – Collect as many crystals as possible before the time runs out.
    Deathmatch - The last player standing wins.
    Kill the Enemies - Shoot as many enemies as possible, but don’t kill the gnomes as they’ll reset your score!
    Seize the Large Crystal - Break through the barrier and capture the crystal before your opponent.
    Survival – See if you can withstand more waves of enemies than the others can.
    Versus – Eliminate the opposing team.

    Demon’s Crystals
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 78%
    Gameplay - 16/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 77%
    Violence - 6.5/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 8.5/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 3.5/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    As you can tell, this $5 game has a lot to offer. The game variety is decent, but this title is still best in short spurts since it may get a bit repetitive after a while. My son and I had a lot of fun playing this game together.

    If you don’t mind the Halloween themed monsters and rune magic, this game is pretty family friendly. The violence is mild and the visuals remind me of the Skylanders games. They’re a little bit dated, but they’re colorful and get the job done. The sound effects are decent too.

    If you’re a fan of twin stick shooters, Demon’s Crystals will be a great addition to your PC or console library. The asking price is very reasonable and it’s bound to entertain you and your family/friends for a little while.

  • Desert Kill (PC) (Preview)

     

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Desert Kill 
    Developed By: IO Games
    Published By: IO Games
    Released: April 17, 2019
    Available On: Windows
    Genre: Twin-stick shooter
    ESRB Rating: N/A
    Number of Players: Single-player
    Price: $4.99

    Thank you IO Games for the Steam key for review!

    Desert Kill is a twin-stick shooter rogue-lite that’s too standard to the formula for its own good, and fails at almost every corner. I have encountered several weird issues and quirks when playing this game, and had nearly zero fun while doing it.

    Your average Desert Kill run starts with a selection of one of several different characters. Right off the bat you’ll notice that none of the characters seem to have any difference aside from cosmetic. There could be differences, but it isn’t directly stated on the character select screen. Once selecting a character, you can go into the optional tutorial. The tutorial being optional is great, I applaud that, but what isn’t great is that the tutorial breaks when it teaches you the melee attack so you can’t finish. Luckily, I learned most of what I needed to and was able to enter a run shortly after.

    Desert Kill
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Good run variety; fair price point
    Weak Points: Buggy; uninteresting; doesn’t explain things
    Moral Warnings: Lots of blood; human on human violence; one enemy is a suicide bomber

    When you start a run, you are thrown into a massive isometric desert landscape and given a minimap and a couple starting weapons. On the minimap several things are marked. There are shops, mini outposts to raid, and then the main objective areas. Going from objective to objective is a slog. The map is too large without much happening in-between. There are vehicles lying about, but they are far too expensive to use on a consistent basis, and your hard-earned money is better spent elsewhere. To beat a level of Desert Kill, you need to complete two objectives, which there is a decent variety of, and then beat a boss.

    The gameplay loop is terrible. It’s slow and kind of awkward. Enemies’ hitboxes seem off and your guns aren’t accurate. Shop items are incredibly expensive and money drops are sparse. The game tries to have some verticality to it, with enemies standing on top of buildings and whatnot, but this adds nothing but making it even harder to hit an enemy with a weird hitbox. You have a dodge roll, but it’s only essential in boss fights. The dodge roll mechanic isn’t explored otherwise. The gunplay itself is awkward and not very fun. There’s a permanent unlock system, but again, item drops are so rare it’s very hard to earn up the cash to unlock new toys. Moreover, the game doesn’t seem to try anything new or different.

    Desert Kill
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 44%
    Gameplay - 6/20
    Graphics - 4/10
    Sound - 6/10
    Stability - 3/5
    Controls - 3/5

    Morality Score - 79%
    Violence - 3.5/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 6/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    Desert Kill’s art style looks like a mobile game ported to PC, and actually hinders the gameplay itself. Enemies can hit behind walls and be impossible to see, so instead of adding some sort of transparency option, they decided that you can rotate the camera with right mouse click. The sounds are okay, but they don’t have much of a feeling to them. The soundtrack might be the best part of the game. It isn’t crazy good, but it’s pretty solid western music and fits the game perfectly. There is no gamepad support currently, but the keyboard and mouse controls can be fully rebound to whatever you want. I ran into a few crashes, but these were mostly my fault for left clicking on the screen and being impatient during long loading times.

    Enemies spill significant amounts of blood. All the enemies I encountered were human, and one enemy type was a guy with a bomb strapped to his chest.

    I do not recommend Desert Kill in any way. It fails in every way I can think of, and I truly hope that changes over the rest of its early access development. The price point is a cheap 5 bucks, but that 5 dollars could be spent on a nice coffee.

  • Dick Wilde 2 (Oculus Rift)

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    Game Info:

    Dick Wilde 2
    Developed by: Bolverk Games
    Published by: PlayStack
    Available on: HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, PSVR, Windows Mixed Reality
    Release date: February 19, 2019
    Genre: Shooter
    Number of players: Up to two
    ESRB Rating: Teen
    Price: $19.99

    Thank you PlayStack for sending us this game to review!

    Dick Wilde was released in 2017 and received positive reviews. Regrettably, I haven’t played it, but I did add it to my Steam wishlist as I enjoyed playing the sequel. The story is pretty much the same with the swamp wildlife mutating and becoming vicious. It’s up to you to get rid of them all and their leaders (bosses) too.

    To cleanse the area of mutated creatures you’ll need to hop on your raft and arm yourself with weapons and power-ups. The vertically challenged Dick Wilde isn’t much of a fighter, but he sells a lot of handy equipment to give you a fighting chance! Along with revolvers, shotguns, Uzis, and plasma rifles, you’ll find health extenders, critical attack increasers, as well as health kits.

    In total, there are three worlds with several key gathering and challenge missions within. Many of the levels have several keys which will take multiple runs to collect them all. The keys are needed to unlock the final boss battle. Once the monstrosity of a boss is defeated, you can advance to the next world.

    Dick Wilde 2
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Fun on-rails shooter with co-op gameplay
    Weak Points: Hard to find people to play online with; no easy way to exit the game
    Moral Warnings: Blood and violence

    Dick Wilde 2 is an on-rails shooter where your raft is on a set path and you get to make a couple of directional choices (left or right) to gather keys that were not accessible earlier. As your raft is floating through a river or tunnels, various debris will pop up from underneath and you’ll have to shoot it apart before it damages your raft. You’ll need to dismantle partially submerged vehicles, refrigerators, wooden fences/crates, metal barrels and so forth. Red barrels are combustible, which comes in handy for quickly taking down groups of enemies or debris.

    Enemies come at you from all directions, underwater, from the side, and even in the air. Crabs and fish will jump out and attack you while other creatures like giant rats, moles, scorpions, and snakes will hurl flaming or poisonous orbs at you. There are some squid/jellyfish like creatures that need to have their protective aura dissolved before you can do any damage to them.

    Along with watching out for enemies, you’ll have to pay attention to your surroundings. Some levels have locked gates that only open if you shoot the numbered buttons in the proper sequence. Many levels have a couple of checkpoints where you can restore your health, buy power-ups, or upgrade weapons if you have the cash to pay for it. Money is earned by clearing out debris. Once a level is completed you’ll get to see various statistics like your accuracy, how much damage had been dealt and received, and how much debris has been cleared.

    Dick Wilde 2
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 78%
    Gameplay - 14/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 4/5

    Morality Score - 89%
    Violence - 6/10
    Language - 8.5/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    Multiplayer is a great feature and fun to play if you can find someone to play alongside. I was able to find an active game during the weekend, but any other time has been unsuccessful. Voice chat would be a nice feature to implement to communicate more effectively than waving and pointing your guns around. On a positive note, I like how progress/keys carry forward in the single-player campaign.

    Graphically, this game is very colorful and there’s a lot of variety when it comes to weapons and enemies. The level design is decent but gets repetitive by having to replay them four times to collect all of the necessary keys. To mix things up you can play them out of order. The menu interface is pretty entertaining as you can shoot the environment as you’re looking around or waiting for a multiplayer match. Unfortunately, exiting the game is not intuitive and I had to rely on my controller buttons to leave the game since there was no menu option to do so gracefully.

    The audio is entertaining with Dick Wilde’s funny comments like “Well butter my buns and call me a biscuit!” and “It’s a me, Dick Wilde!” The sound effects are fitting and the peppy background music is nice when it’s not drowned out by gunfire.

    Dick Wilde 2 is pretty family friendly though it does have a couple of issues worth noting. Living creatures explode when shot and you’ll see red pieces falling and coming out of them. After shooting and destroying hundreds of mutated creatures and floating debris, my fingers hurt after a while. If you’re a middle-aged gamer you might have to take a few breathers to give your hands some rest.

    In the end, Dick Wilde 2 is a fun, but flawed experience. Co-op multiplayer is great, but hard to come by and the levels are fun, but repetitive. If you enjoyed the first game you’ll probably like this one though I hear it’s not as challenging as the previous title. Gamers who like on-rails shooters should check this game out. If you’re looking for co-op play, you may want to look elsewhere unless you have friends who own this title already.

  • Full Mojo Rampage (PS4)

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    Game Info:

    Full Mojo Rampage
    Developed by: Over The Top Games
    Published by: Over The Top Games
    Release date: June 27, 2016
    Available on: PS4, Windows, Xbox One
    Genre: Twin stick shooter
    Number of players: Up to four online
    ESRB Rating: Teen for Blood, Fantasy Violence, Alcohol and Tobacco References, Mild Language
    Price: $12.99
    (Humble Store Link)

    Thank you Over The Top Games for sending us this game to review!

    There’s not much of a story in Full Mojo Rampage other than it starting off with your character getting chased in a cemetery and stumbling upon a Voodoo doll (with pins in it) that gives him the power to fight back. Your goal is to complete various objectives while fending away swarms of undead monsters that aim to stop you. Between them and the bosses, you will die, but your experience and medals collected do carry over to your next playthrough. Like other Rogue-like games, each playthough will be different as the maps are generated randomly.

    Medals are used to unlock different masks and Loas (Voodoo spirits) with varying powers and abilities. Just like other twin-stick shooter games, one of the joysticks moves around your character while the other fires projectiles from your equipped wand. Depending on which Loa you are using, you’ll have different attacks or abilities mapped to your left and right triggers. These abilities need to recharge until they are able to be used again.

    Full Mojo Rampage
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Fun Rogue-like twin stick shooter game
    Weak Points: No local co-op and online multiplayer is dead
    Moral Warnings: Heavy Voodoo implementation; undead monsters; magic and Voodoo doll use; language (bad*ss); alcohol and smoking references 

    Besides enemies, you’ll find treasure chests, piles of bones, and tombstones that have loot inside if you stop to examine them. Many levels have shrines that let you combine items, which is really handy since you only have a handful of inventory slots. Vendors can also be found and they can sell healing potions and powerful wands. Unfortunately, the wands lose their charge so you’ll have to conserve their power or save them for bosses and rely on your infinite default wand as your primary. Some of the wands are pretty cool with multi-shot beams or grenades.

    Passive power-ups are nice to find and equip. Be sure to examine each one and combine them when given an opportunity to do so. Some of the power-ups can increase your speed, attack rate, or even the amount of damage you do. Sadly, the power-ups do not respawn with you if you die. Upon your death, you will be taken back to the beginning of the dungeon where you have to start all over again. If you have leveled up, you can choose which attribute (health, damage, speed, attack rate) to increase at the main menu.

    Pins can be collected as items in the game and you have to use them in order to unlock them for future playthroughs.  The pins can boost your stats, gold collection rate, or even give you starting healing potions.  Some of the pins can be upgraded so be sure to max them out if possible.  

    Full Mojo Rampage
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 78%
    Gameplay - 13/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 70%
    Violence - 6.5/10
    Language - 6.5/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 2/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    Playing solo is fun and I enjoyed my numerous playthroughs. Once I got the hang of the game and controls I tried to find an online game to join. Sadly, there were not any available. It’s a shame since all of the popular game modes are there: co-op, death match, team death match, and capture the flag. Local co-op play would be a nice alternative, but that’s not available. If you’re looking for a multiplayer experience, you may want to look elsewhere.

    Christians should also be wary of this title due to the numerous Voodoo references. Between the Voodoo dolls, pins for them, Loas, and shaman masks, this game is full of Voodoo symbolism. Aside from that, there are many undead monsters, magic, drinking/smoking references as well as language. Full Mojo Rampage definitely earns its Teen rating from the ESRB.

    Aside from the moral issues and lack of multiplayer options, Full Mojo Rampage is a well polished and fun game. As long as you don’t expect any multiplayer action it’s worth checking out or picking up on sale.

  • FullBlast (Vita)

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    Game Info:

    FullBlast
    Developed by: UFO Crash Games
    Published by: Ratalaika Games SL
    Release date: September 4, 2018
    Available on: macOS, PS4, Windows, XboxOne, PS Vita
    Genre: Shooter
    Number of players: Up to two on other platforms
    ESRB Rating: E 10+ for mild fantasy violence and language
    Price: $5.99

    Thank you Ratalaika Games SL for sending us this game to review!

    FullBlast was released on Steam in 2016 and was pretty well received. It’s not ground-breaking by any means, but it is a fun shoot ‘em up regardless. I’m glad that it made its way to consoles in 2018. Though the Vita version is portable, it doesn’t allow for co-op gameplay as the other formats do. Another downside to the Vita version is that I experienced some gameplay slowdowns that are probably not present on more powerful gaming systems.

    The story isn’t very original in this game. Aliens are invading and it’s up to you (an ace pilot) to reclaim our planet. In total, there are three difficulties and twelve levels. The default difficulty of normal wasn’t very challenging until the final boss battle as I was able to complete most missions on my first or occasionally second try. The last boss probably took me fifteen attempts.

    FullBlast
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Fun pick up and play shoot ‘em up 
    Weak Points: Short game that isn’t very challenging; some performance issues on the Vita
    Moral Warnings: Spaceship violence; language (d*mn) 

    Some levels are longer than others as a few of them merely lead your jet to a boss battle. All in all, this title may only take a couple of hours to beat. Since the levels are not random, there isn’t much replay value other than a different difficulty or trying to unlock a previously missed achievement.

    As a shoot ‘em up, FullBlast checks all the right boxes with numerous power-ups to collect and plenty of marine-themed alien ships to shoot out of the sky. Some of the enemy aircrafts look like lobsters and stingrays. There are some krakens and insect-like ships too.

    The levels take place in different biomes including snowy mountains and dense forests. The krakens can be found in the ocean missions. While not jaw-dropping, the visuals are decent in this title.

    FullBlast
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 76%
    Gameplay - 15/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 4/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 82%
    Violence - 7/10
    Language - 7/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    Voice acting is non-existent and all of the game’s dialogue is in text. Unfortunately, there are a few instances of the word d*mn used. The heavy metal background music is pretty good. It really gets you pumped for the upcoming battles.

    Your lives are limited, but occasionally you’ll come across an extra life power-up. Other power-ups include a faster rate of fire, more or stronger bullets, or a temporary shield. After a level is cleared you can proceed to the next one with your power-ups intact. However, once you die or start a level fresh, you’ll lose any enhancements you had previously.

    Though the enemy patterns may have their directions flipped, the level layout and power-up drop is always consistent. Your best bet on taking on the last boss is to continue on from level eleven fully powered instead of relying on the single gun power-up on the last level.

    If you don’t mind the language and enemy combat, FullBlast is worth checking out. The visuals and story won’t blow you away, but the game is fun and that’s what counts. If you want to play with a friend it’s worth checking out on other platforms. It’ll probably run better too.

  • G-LOC Air Battle (Switch)

     

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    Game Info:

    G-LOC Air Battle
    Developed By: M2
    Published By: Sega
    Released: April 30, 2020
    Available On: Nintendo Switch
    Genre: Arcade, Action, Shooter
    ESRB Rating: Rated E10+- Mild Violence
    Number of Players: 1
    Price: $7.99

    Thank you Sega for sending us a copy of G-LOC Air Battle on the Nintendo Switch!

    If there was a time that could be considered the “golden age” of the arcade, I think most people would agree that the early 90s introduced some amazing cabinets to the world. For some of the great game developers of the day, it was all about experimenting with simulation. From the large racecar cabinets to the point-and-shoot gun displays, getting into the game was more possible than ever before. It was during this time that mega-developer Sega released its cutting edge flight-sim arcade shooter G-LOC Air Battle into the arcades. The large cabinet looked like the cockpit of a fighter jet, fully equipped with a flight stick and buttons for the machine gun and missiles. The surround sound speakers placed the player in the battle. For its time, that cabinet was as close as a child could get to experiencing the real thing.

    It is now 2020, and one can pick up this vintage cabinet for an easy $4,000. However most of us really don’t want to spend that on a machine that is nearly 30 years old, so the next best thing is to play the game on the Sega Ages collection. True to its name (G-LOC is the medical condition in which someone loses consciousness because of the effects of G-forces on the body), this game is a fast and furious arcade shooter that allows the player to experience the best parts of flying a fighter jet...shooting down enemies.

    G-LOC Air Battle
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Faithful port of an arcade classic; fast-paced action; great visuals 
    Weak Points: Simple gameplay with little variety; very awkward controls
    Moral Warnings: Destruction of enemy jets and tanks

    I was able to play the title on the Nintendo Switch, and the first thing that caught my eye was the display. Sega did a very good job of making this game look like it was being played in an arcade. The game display is surrounded by what looks like the actual cabinet that the game was played in. You can even hear the faint sounds of other games in the background as if you were standing in the arcade. It's a neat little addition to this title.

    G-LOC plays exactly like you would expect an arcade shooter to play. You control the first-person view of the pilot, navigating your crosshair over the enemies and shooting them with either missiles or your Vulcan cannon. The controls themselves “float” quite a bit, which causes you to overcompensate often when targeting enemies. This type of sensitivity with the controls may have translated well in the arcade, but it doesn’t work well with the analog control of the console.

    Graphically, the game looks pretty good for something that is out of 1991. In fact, the graphics of this title could easily give any game on the N64 or PS1 a run for their money, which says a lot about the graphics engines that were used in arcade cabinets during those days. The 3D Vector visuals of this game really show when an enemy gets behind your craft. At that moment, the first person view switches to a third-person view behind your jet, which allows you to maneuver away from the attack of your enemy. This point of view switch only adds to the breakneck pace of this game.

    G-LOC Air Battle
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 70%
    Gameplay – 12/20
    Graphics – 8/10
    Sound –8/10
    Stability – 5/5
    Controls – 2/5

    Morality Score - 96%
    Violence – 8/10
    Language – 10/10
    Sexual Content – 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural – 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical – 10/10

    Despite being a very faithful port to the original arcade game, there actually isn’t much to G-LOC at all. You are able to play through a series of 12 different timed levels that give you a certain amount of enemies to destroy before you can move onto the next level. More game time is added to the run when you complete a level, so the object is to meet the enemy quota as fast as possible. And that’s it, rinse and repeat.

    There are three tiers of difficulty the players can choose from at the beginning of each game. The enemies move differently depending on the difficulty chosen, and they can fire back as well. Unlike many arcade shooters, in G-LOC you get to control the jet in order to dodge enemy fire. With the controls handling the jet like a tugboat, it is very difficult to perform the much needed evasive maneuvers. Once again, this is an area that probably works better in the arcade than on a console.

    There isn’t much to this game beyond flying a jet, shooting enemies, and trying not to die. The violence in G-LOC is very minimal, pretty much being limited to shooting down enemy aircraft that we can assume has human pilots. There is no strong language because there are barely any words spoken at all aside from “Fire,” and “You’re out of missiles!” The gameplay just fails to bring anything new to the table for today’s average game player.

    It is for that reason that I believe this game, even though it is a great nod to a legendary arcade title, is a shallow gaming experience at best. Sega Ages does a great job of bringing back old Sega IPs that were lost in time, but that doesn’t mean all of them to play very well on a game console. G-LOC was meant to be in an arcade and its fast-paced gameplay was designed to gobble up quarters from kids as quickly as possible. I believe the only crowds that will get into this title are arcade enthusiasts and curious collectors. But don’t take my word for it, at a generous $7.99, this port beats shelling out four grand for the actual unit.

  • Gappo’s Legacy VR (Preview)

     

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    Game Info:

    Gappo’s Legacy VR
    Developed by: Odysseus
    Published by: Odysseus
    Release date: September 7, 2017
    Available on: HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Valve Index
    Genre: Wave Shooter
    Number of Players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: Not rated
    Price: $8.99

    Thank you Odysseus for sending us an Early Access preview code!

    Dr. Gappo has invented a futuristic technology that modifies human genetics in real-time. These devices, called gappos give the user offensive and defensive abilities. The first three gappos give you a shield, metal gloves, and a long-distance laser cannon that can do charged attacks. If you enjoy the Matrix movies, you’ll appreciate the bullet-time gappos.

    The makinae are conscious machines and have taken control of the dessert region of Kafke. The Makina Resistance Army has recruited you to liberate Kafke from pirate tyranny. They don’t normally work with humans, but they’ll make an exception if you can pass their skill and dexterity tests.

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Fun mechanics, challenging gameplay
    Weak Points: No difficulty options; no online community; no updates; glitched enemies 
    Moral Warnings: You have to shoot down robotic drones

    The tutorial level will teach you how to use your starter gappos. The off-hand shield can reflect laser attacks. You can select whether you're right or left handed in this title. The laser cannon was in my primary hand and it’s great for long-distance shooting. Charged attacks are good for the missile and laser cannon enemies. The nimble drones are best dealt with the steel hands which can punch or throw them into other explosive foes.

    Enemies will follow the same choreographed patterns (including glitched out enemies) so you’ll have to memorize them to “git gud” as this title is quite challenging. This game is so challenging that I can’t get past the first level out of nine. There are no difficulty settings to adjust and no active community to ask for pointers. In fact, there hasn’t been any activity on this game since it entered Early Access three years ago.

    There are 82 Steam achievements of which three can be obtained by opening the application, finishing the tutorial, and playing your first game. A good portion of the achievements are unlocked as you complete and advance to the later levels. Steam trading cards are available as well, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up for being able to complete a set.

    Gappo’s Legacy VR
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 74%
    Gameplay: 15/20
    Graphics: 7/10
    Sound: 7/10
    Stability: 4/5
    Controls/Interface: 4/5

    Morality Score - 94%
    Violence: 7/10
    Language: 10/10
    Sexual Content: 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural: 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical: 10/10

    The graphics are decent with a good amount of enemy variety. The robotic foes look pretty creepy when they get close and managed to get a jump scare out of me a couple of times. They also have an evil giggle which is quite fitting.

    As often as I had to repeat the first level, it was a bit annoying to have to listen to the same spiel over and over again without the option to skip it. There is some background music, but it’s often drowned out by laser blasts and explosions.

    Since the enemies are robotic, you don’t have to worry about blood. When you take a hit, the screen will go black and white for a bit until all five of your life bars are depleted. Upon a game over, the screen fades to white.

    It’s a shame that this game appears to be abandoned. The developer's website is gone too.  There is room for improvement, but this is a solid wave shooter. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of competition in this genre. Unless the game gets updated or brought back to life, I recommend purchasing a better supported game like Overkill VR. If the developers are still around they should consider letting their Steam audience know. Also, if the developers are reading this review, an option to adjust the difficulty level would be appreciated!

  • Genetic Disaster (PC)

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    Game Info:

    Genetic Disaster
    Developer: Team8 Studio
    Published by: Team8 Studio.
    Release Date: December 18, 2017
    Available on: Windows
    Genre: Action Top Down Shooter.
    Players: 1-4
    ESRB Rating: unrated.
    Price: $19.99
    (Humble Store Link)

    Thank you Team8 Studio for sending us this game to review!

    It’s rare that I’ll admire a minimalist game. When I say minimalist, I don't mean cheap graphics either. Sometimes a game that just focuses on gameplay comes along and it's ok. While Genetic Disaster has little story, it’s actually a fun game that deserves a look.

    Genetic Disaster is a co-op procedural action game in the same vein of games like Nuclear Throne or Enter the Gungeon. You pick between one of four characters with special abilities and you face multiple enemies until you die. Each character has a special ability such as generating a shield or using a powerful attack. I wish the game had more of a story to it, yet the game doesn't present you with much right now. I'm not sure why I am fighting these robots, and I am not sure why these strange creatures I can play as work together.

    Genetic Disaster
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Great gameplay, fun to play with friends.
    Weak Points: While the gameplay is great, some background to story and characters would be nice.
    Moral Warnings:Light slapstick violence.

    Once you start a session, you get one gun at the beginning of a game then you just go room to room and fight. One of the newest updates adds arena rooms which will spawn multiple waves of enemies; survive and you get a treasure chest. Some rooms have health packs, new weapons or gold. Gold you can use to spend on upgrades after every elevator to the next level.

    Playing the game with someone seems to be a lot better than playing solo. While the characters have no backstories yet they all work well together. I had a friend join me in online play and the connection was flawless, no lag. Local co-op was also a reasonable option; my wife and I got to about floor 9. The challenge of the game is balanced around how many players you have with you as well as how many floors you've gone down. While this may be an unpopular opinion I am glad that the challenge remained constant. Maybe I haven't found an awesome upgrade yet before I begin a floor, maybe I haven't found that overpowered gun yet. Yet it's nice to see that this game doesn't have a build that makes the game extremely easy.

    Genetic Disaster
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 78%
    Gameplay - 13/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 96%
    Violence - 8/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    Hopefully, any negatives I have with this game will be improved. I would love to see more life brought into the characters, voice lines or even just the backstories would help me love these characters. It seems they have already worked on improving the feel of the guns, yet I think the enemies need to feel a bit more threatening too. It's not a good sign when I don't care about the enemies of a game at all. While a missing story didn’t bug me, it does make it harder to remember the game later down the line.

    On morality you don't have much to worry about. There is no blood or gore, just the shoot em up violence. There is no bad dialogue or any vile imagery either.

    Genetic Disaster has the foundations to be a great experience both for solo players and co-op, it just needs a bit of spit and polish to make it shine. Hopefully this game will become top notch, not a disaster.

  • Hellfront: Honeymoon (Xbox One)

     

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    Game Info:

    Hellfront: Honeymoon
    Developed by: Skygoblin
    Published by: Thunderful
    Release date: December 19, 2018
    Available on: PS4, Switch, Windows, Xbox One
    Genre: Twin-stick shooter, strategy
    Number of players: Up to four locally
    ESRB Rating: E10+ for Fantasy violence
    Price: $9.99
    (Humble Store Link)

    Thank you Thunderful for sending us this game to review!

    Hellfront: Honeymoon is Skygoblin’s second game and we reviewed their first one, The Journey Down. Instead of being a point-and-click adventure game, Hellfront: Honeymoon is an action-packed twin-stick shooter real-time strategy game. There is no story, but your goal is to be the last person standing against aliens and other players on various hostile planets.

    In total, there are ninety levels which you can play by yourself or cooperatively with a friend. Alternatively, up to four players can duke it out in player vs. player skirmishes. No matter which mode you play, the concept remains the same. You can destroy environmental walls that are in your way with your machine gun. On glowing floor tiles, you can deploy a turret or barracks that churns out soldiers every ten seconds. It’s best to have a combination of both. If possible, tuck your barracks behind some turrets for protection. There is no penalty if your character dies and they will respawn near their barracks within a few seconds.

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Simple and fun gameplay that’s best enjoyed with others
    Weak Points: Local multiplayer only, no online matches
    Moral Warnings: Shooting soldiers and aliens

    The level is won by destroying all of the opposition's bases and turrets. To keep things interesting, when an enemy’s turret is destroyed, aliens usually come out and attack anyone nearby. Also, remember to move away once deploying turrets or barracks or your character will get squashed from the building process.

    Depending on how long it takes you to conquer a level, you’ll be awarded between one and three stars. Generally speaking, you’ll get three stars for conquering the level in under a minute, two for under two minutes and one star for anything over that. The skirmishes don't last very long, but they're pretty intense-- especially those involving alien pods that are easy to accidentally break open with stray bullets.

    Hellfront: Honeymoon
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 82%
    Gameplay - 17/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 78%
    Violence - 4.5/10
    Language - 7.5/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    Violence is a given and you’ll have to attack opposing humans and aliens alike. When shot at, the aliens will break apart and leave yellow puddles on the ground. Given how fast-paced this game is, you may not even notice the gibs. The soldiers just disappear when defeated. Last but not least, the game’s title has the word hell in it (in case you haven’t noticed).

    The explosions are very prominent and hard to miss. The rest of the visuals work well, but are nothing too ground-breaking. There is some change of scenery between the different planets.

    The sound effects are fitting and the minimal voice acting is sufficient. The background music is peppy and perfect for the fast-paced action.

    If you enjoy twin-stick shooters and real-time strategy games, Hellfront: Honeymoon is worth checking out. Like many games, this one is best enjoyed with friends. If you’re looking for a deep story and online gameplay you’ll want to look elsewhere.

  • High Noon VR (Oculus Rift)

     

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    Game Info:

    High Noon VR
    Developed by: OctoBox Interactive
    Published by: Buka Entertainment
    Released date: November 14, 2017
    Available on: HTC Vive, Oculus Rift
    Genre: Shooter
    Number of players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: Not rated
    Price: $9.99

    Thank you Buka Entertainment for sending us this game to review!

    You’re the new sheriff in town and there are plenty of troublemaking cowboys and cowgirls that need to be shot down before they put you six feet under. The enemies come in waves and are worth more money in later waves. If the hordes of enemies don’t pose a challenge to you, the intimidating bosses might.

    There are nine campaign levels that unlock quick play maps as you go through them. The goal in quick play is to survive as long as you can, but the campaign levels have additional objectives that need to be completed in order to advance to the next one. An example of the hardest objectives for me was making it through a wave without losing any health points. Other objectives include getting a specified number of headshots or shooting down a certain number of dynamite sticks hurled in your direction.

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Fun wave shooter game
    Weak Points: Overly chatty narrator; repetitive gameplay
    Moral Warnings: Cartoon violence; language (bad*ss, skank); cowgirls are dressed in one-piece bathing suits

    You can use dynamite too if you purchase it as a weapon option at the wagon. Other weapon upgrades include revolvers, shotguns, harpoons, and a Gatling gun. Weapons can be further enhanced at the workbench if you have the funds available. Unfortunately, it takes a while to save up enough money for the weapons and you have to purchase them twice if you wish to dual wield. Completing objectives gives you a decent pay bonus so they’re worth doing.

    There are different types of cowboys and cowgirls to shoot at and the females are a little bit quicker. A harpoon can slow them down but doesn’t do much damage. Time slows down when you shoot TNT barrels so that may help as well. The environment is destructible so you can break a lot of glass and can even shoot the hats off of the bad guys.

    High Noon VR
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 76%
    Gameplay - 14/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 6/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 75%
    Violence - 6/10
    Language - 5/10
    Sexual Content - 6.5/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    When you shoot the enemies, there will be an orange flash by the area hit but no blood. There’s an overly chatty narrator that swears (bad*ss) and refers to the cowgirls as chicks and skanks. People on the Steam reviews have been annoyed with the narrator and the developer responded with an option to disable the voice. Unfortunately, my review build does not have this option; I can only lower the music and sound effects volumes.

    Visually, this game is pretty good though the models only have a couple of different outfits and you’ll have a bunch of lookalikes in each wave. Though there are not many maps, variety is added by having the shootouts happen at different times during the day/night.

    In the end, if you’re not sick of VR stationary shooters yet, High Noon VR is worth checking out. The gameplay can get repetitive so I would recommend picking it up on sale and I have seen it as low as $4.99 which is a good price. There’s a decent amount of weapon variety to keep things interesting, but you’ll need to spend a lot of time saving up to use most of it. Thirty-seven Steam achievements await you if you enjoy collecting them.

  • InkSplosion (Vita)

     

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    Game Info:

    InkSplosion
    Developed by: Petite Games
    Published by: Ratalaika Games S.L.
    Release date: May 9, 2018
    Available on: PS4, Switch, Windows, Vita
    Genre: Shooter
    Number of players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: Everyone
    Price: $4.99

    Thank you Ratalaika Games S.L. for sending us a review code!

    There are many ink-themed games out there these days, but not too many shooters. InkSplosion offers endless levels that get colored by your own ammunition. In order to advance to the next level, you’ll have to defeat the enemies without taking much damage yourself. Your skull-shaped ship isn’t very durable and when it explodes, it’s game over.

    At the beginning of a level you’ll be randomly assigned one of the five weapons available. The normal gun shoots one bullet at a time and it doesn’t go very far. On the other hand, the distance gun can shoot further. The rocket gun has short-range, but is more powerful. The shotgun sprays an array of three bullets, which comes in handy. My favorite is the laser gun, because it’s quick and shoots far.

    InkSplosion
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Cross-buy for PS4 and Vita
    Weak Points: Confusing visuals; not much to it
    Moral Warnings: Shooting down other icons/ships

    In order to finish a level, you’ll have to eliminate the handful of enemies on it. Along with their projectiles, you’ll have to avoid touching any obstacles or barriers that often change their positioning. Between the barriers and deadly floating debris, you’ll have to stay on your toes and keep track of your ship's location. Given this game’s art style, that’s easier said than done.

    The ink splotches don’t really serve a purpose and can be disabled if you find them too distracting. Everything else is white with thick black borders and is hard to tell apart. The enemies are bigger than the projectiles and can be identified without trouble. Your small ship, on the other hand, blends right in and can be hard to locate at times.

    If you can score more than 100,000 points in Classic Mode, Arena Mode will become available. Once you score 100,000 points in Arena Mode, the final mode, Hard, will be unlocked. There are thirteen achievements available to unlock if you’re into those.

    InkSplosion
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 68%
    Gameplay - 13/20
    Graphics - 4/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 94%
    Violence - 7/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    The game’s electronic soundtrack is composed by Levi Bond and it’s fitting but forgettable. The voiceovers are good and the echo effect adds to the retro feel of this title.


    InkSplosion has some combat violence but it’s pretty tame. I agree with the "Everyone" rating and this game can be enjoyed by gamers of all ages.

    The asking price of $4.99 seems a bit steep in my opinion. I have seen this game on Steam for $2.49 on sale and for that price, it’s worth picking up. The portability of the Vita version is nice and it provides the perfect platform to play on the go. Inksplosion is a cute little title that’s perfect for playing on your lunch break.

  • INVERSUS Deluxe (PC)

     

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    Game Info:

    INVERSUS Deluxe
    Developed By: Hypersect
    Published By: Hypersect
    Released: August 16, 2016
    Available On: Windows, Nintendo Switch, PS4
    Genre: Multi-player twin-stick shooter
    ESRB Rating: E for everyone: users interact
    Number of Players: Single-player; up to 4 players online or local
    Price: $14.99

    INVERSUS Deluxe is a multi-player arcade shooter that manages to be incredibly competitive with a high skill ceiling despite being very minimalist. The game is near perfect in so many ways and really only falls due to the lack of an active community.

    Your character can only move on its opposite color. The white player can only move on black, and the black player can only move on white. When you shoot a bullet it changes the color of the spaces it goes across. You can get trapped by being surrounded by same color spaces. You can only hold 6 bullets at once, so your ammo is limited. Luckily, after shooting, your ammo will slowly replenish. Inversus is a lot about making sure you have plenty of space to move and careful ammo management.

    There are two modes in Inversus: arcade and versus. Both are fleshed out and are fun in their own right.

    Arcade mode puts 1-2 players against an endless horde of enemies that you have to shoot down for as many points as possible. The enemy variety isn’t that large, but there are just enough enemy types to keep it interesting. Enemies spawn in preset waves, so for the most part you can predict what you’ll be up against next. There are a ton of maps to choose from, some with unique factors such as only shielded enemies or enemies of varying sizes. Each map has its own online leaderboards separated into 1 player and 2 player. Aside from just shooting enemies to gain score, you have several multiplier systems. The first system is simply based on survival. The longer you go without dying, the more score per kill. The second system is based on accuracy. The more shots you hit in a row, the more the multiplier builds up. If either player dies, the multipliers reset. These systems mean the skill ceiling for Arcade mode is very high, especially with 2 players.

    INVERSUS Deluxe
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Polished; several modes; competitive
    Weak Points: Little to no active players
    Moral Warnings: Squares shooting squares

    Versus mode puts you up against either an incredibly competent AI or an even more competent human being. The goal is simple: shoot your opponent and beat them in a best of 5 match. In the top-down perspective and minimalistic art style and control scheme, you would assume that this would be an easy feat for both sides. How hard can it be to shoot a bullet at another player? The answer is very hard, especially if the other player is good. Versus ends up being a complex, strategic mind game. The bullet speed is too slow to hit a player instantly, so you have to predict exactly where they are going to go. Along with keeping track of that, you have to make sure you have enough space to move around, have access to the powerups on the map, and dodge the other players’ bullets. There is a large selection of maps to choose from, ranging from a small and tight square to a weird screen-wrapped mess that can cause infinitely-traveling bullets.

    There are several options for playing Inversus. The game supports 2-4 person online multi-player in versus and 2 player arcade. Local multi-player works in both modes and even lets you play with some local and some online in one match. If you don’t have people to play with, the arcade mode works just fine in single-player and the versus mode AI is incredibly intelligent to the point of being nearly as dangerous as a decent player. Inversus lacks a good-sized community, but you can find games through the Discord server where some long time players hang out.

    INVERSUS Deluxe
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 92%
    Gameplay - 18/20
    Graphics - 9/10
    Sound - 9/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 98%
    Violence - 9/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    The art style consists of simplistic shapes in a top-down perspective. It’s always easy to understand what is happening. You can unlock several different color palettes to match your preferences. The music is fantastic and upbeat. The sounds are a small step up from the usual arcade game. Controls can be rebound to whatever. It all comes together to give everything a very satisfying feel. I have come across absolutely no bugs or crashes despite a large amount of playtime over the course of several years.

    Violence comes down to squares shooting lines at squares. When they die, it doesn’t even have much of an explosion animation or any blood. There is player interaction, but it is limited to a curated set of emoticons. There is no text chat or voice chat, so the worst you could get is an angry emoji.

    I highly recommend Inversus. It’s simplistic yet highly complex within its systems with incredibly polished feel and variety of ways to play. The lack of community is a bummer so make sure to either check out the Discord or grab a friend, but I guarantee that once you find somebody to play with, this one is top notch.

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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