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Game Info:

Stealth Inc 2: A Game of Clones
Developed by: Carbon
Published by: Curve Digital
Release Date: April 30, 2015
Available on: PC, PS4, Wii U, Xbox One
Genre: Puzzle/Platformer
Number of Players: Single-player
ESRB Rating: Teen for violence and blood
Price: $14.99

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

Stealth Inc 2: A Game of Clones is a sequel to the originally free Windows game, Stealth B*stard.  It was later enhanced and renamed to a much more palatable Stealth Inc: A Clone in the Dark and was made available on the PS3 and PS Vita.  Stealth Inc 2: A Game of Clones was originally released on the Wii U in October 2014 and came out on PC, PS4, and Xbox one in April of 2015.  While the asking price is $14.99, the game has been on numerous sales since its launch and was even freely available for a short period of time.  

For those who are new to the series it’s best described as a mashup between Portal, Metal Gear Solid, and Super Meat Boy.  Like Portal, there are sixty sadistic experiments to complete and many more are made available through Steam’s workshop and built in level editor.  In fact, one of the twelve Steam achievements can be earned by completing and rating a user created level.  The level editor is fairly simple to use and sharing completed levels among the gaming community is pretty easy to do.

stealth inc 2
Highlights:

Strong Points: Fun and challenging stealthy platformer
Weak Points: Some may find it too challenging
Moral Warnings: Bloody deaths

Like Super Meat Boy. Stealth Inc 2 is a brutally hard platformer and tests both your brain and reflexes.  Unfortunately, my age is showing in both categories and some may be put off by the difficulty of this game.  Letter grades are given for each completed test and another Steam achievement is available for those that can achieve an S rank on every level.  Sadly, my average grade is a B due to deaths and taking longer than other people online.  My happiness for finishing a level is completely squelched when seeing the online leader-boards of those who have managed to do it in half of the time it took me.

Those who like stealthy games like Metal Gear Solid will enjoy sneaking around and avoiding detection from numerous robots, turrets, deadly laser beams, and bosses!  The main character’s goggles will change color to indicate their visibility rating and they’ll have to use the environment to their advantage to avoid being detected by various security cameras and sensors.  Some levels have clouds of steam that can be used to bypass sensors.  The goal in each level is to hack the terminal to unlock the exit door.  It should go without saying that this is easier said than done as the levels gradually ramp up in difficulty.

stealth inc 2
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 82%
Gameplay - 15/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 8/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 92%
Violence - 6/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

The over world is fully explore-able and has some secret test chambers and many unlockable outfits available for those who are willing to travel off the beaten path to find them.  In a game about clones it’s good to stand out from the rest right?  You can find various outfits to change your clone to look like a Viking, chicken, rabbit, wizard, jester, king and many more.   

I like the 2D art style and this game had a macabre feeling to it as many of the levels are splattered with blood warning you of imminent danger.  Chances are that you will die a lot and there are plenty of clones to take your place when that happens.  

The sound effects and electronic style background music are fitting.  There is a soundtrack bundled version of the game for $2 more.  The sound track by itself sells for $2.99 on Steam or $6.99 on Bandcamp if you want higher quality audio files.

Overall, Stealth Inc 2 is a fun, but difficult game.  I recommend it for any gamer that likes puzzle or platformers games and isn’t squeamish when it comes to blood.  I’d hold off until it’s on sale again before picking it up though.

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Game Info:

Space Moth DX
Developed by: 1CC Games
Published by: Black Shell Media
Release date: January 22, 2016
Available on: PC
Genre: Shoot ‘em up
Number of players: Single-player
ESRB Rating: None
Price: $7.99

Thank you Black Shell Media for sending us this game!

Many people hate bugs and love swatting them out of existence.  In Space Moth DX you’re a moth that gets to take out giant butterflies, dragonflies, beetles, frogs, mushrooms, and even hostile flowers.  Like many 2D shoot ‘em ups you’ll have to dodge the many projectiles hurled your way as you spew bullets or activate your laser beam.  For an added point bonus, if you shoot enemies with your bullets first and then hit them with your laser beam, you’ll drain their souls.  I had a hard enough time dodging bullets while using one attack method let alone combining them!

Besides bullets and the laser beam, you have a few bombs at your disposal as well.  The game has an option to automatically drop a bomb when you take damage.  Lives are limited and you can only get hit twice per life.  Fortunately, there’s only one area on the space moth’s body that takes damage but that applies to many of the bigger enemies and bosses as well. 

Space Moth DX
Highlights:

Strong Points: Challenging but not impossible; able to re-spawn from checkpoints at the cost of losing your high score
Weak Points: Not much variety between modes; game engine crashes when exiting
Moral Warnings: Insecticide with some splattering

The bosses are huge and have many counter-attacks.  Luckily, upon beginning the boss battle, a temporary save state is activated.  However, if you die and utilize the save state, your current score will be reset.  If you can beat the game without activating a save state, you’ll unlock a new character to play as.

Getting to and defeating a boss was tricky enough for me even when using my save states!  There are three game modes: Practice, Arcade, and DX Mode.  The practice mode lets you start at the beginning of one of the three levels or at the boss of the first two.  The arcade is supposedly easier than the DX mode, but I honestly wasn’t able to tell the difference between the two.  The high score table is different for the two modes.  I can happily say that my initials are on the top of both of them.  Not many people will see them since this game is single-player.

Space Moth DX
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 74%
Gameplay - 15/20
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 7/10
Stability - 3/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 91%
Violence - 5.5/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

The pixel art in Space Moth DX is unique and colorful with many layers.  Since you’re a moth, there are many aerial battles. However, later in the game you’ll have to pay attention to the beetles below the grass blades as well.  Scattered throughout the levels are various food items and power-ups.  Simply hovering over them is not enough as many need to be hit with your laser beam before being collected.  Gaining an extra bomb or life is worth the hassle though.

The sound effects and background music are retro sounding and go well with the old school feel of this Shoot ‘em up.  I was surprised to see that this game only took up 64MB on my hard drive.

Gamers who like bullet “heck” games should keep an eye out for Space Moth DX.  If you’re good at Shoot ‘em up games it may not hold your attention for long, but is still worth considering when it goes on sale.  The normal price is $7.99.  Other than some splatters, this game can be fun for players of all ages.      

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Game Info:

Not a Hero
Developed by: Roll7
Published by: Devolver Digital
Release Date: May 14, 2015
Available on: PC, PS4, Mac, Linux
Genre: Shooter
Number of Players: Single-player
ESRB Rating: Not Rated
Price: $12.99
(Amazon Affiliate Link)

Thank you Roll7 for sending us this game to review!

A purple masked politician that goes by the Bunny Lord wants to become the mayor of England.  He has less than a month to get enough approval ratings to win the election.    According to the Bunny Lord if he is not elected, the world will “F’ing” end in catastrophe.  It doesn’t take long to notice the strong language used throughout the game.  Even though the subtitles may swap out the U’s with a symbol, the voice actors for the mercenaries on the Bunny Lord’s payroll say the foul words quite clearly.

The first mercenary available for hire is Steven and he’s pretty fast and can fire twelve shots before reloading.  In order to acquire more mercenaries, the Bunny Lord has to increase his approval rating.  The approval ratings go up by completing the levels and optional challenges. The more objectives completed, the more approval points are earned.  In total there are eighty-four levels and the Bunny Lord acquires the titles: Mayor, Priminister, King of Britain, and Global Megalord.  Steam achievements are awarded for each position attained.

Not a Hero
Highlights:

Strong Points: Raunchy but funny dialogue
Weak Points: Repetitive missions; full screen is accomplished by pressing alt+enter, there are no video settings in the options menu
Moral Warnings: Lots of violence and foul language including F-bombs and blasphemy; drug and alcohol references; sexual dialogue and imagery; potty humor

The level objectives range from hanging up posters, to rescuing hostages and stopping crime lords.  No matter what the objective is, expect heavy resistance and lots of bloodshed.  Running into a room guns blazing is not a good strategy to use all of the time.  In fact, you’re better off taking cover and giving yourself plenty of time to reload your weapon.  If you trip your enemy first, you can kill them execution style which is a common optional objective in a few of the levels.  Other objectives include completing a level within a certain time limit or collecting all of a certain (usually animal themed) item.

At first leaping across buildings and jumping through and smashing windows is fun, but after a while the levels can get repetitive.  This game is probably best enjoyed in small doses.  If you’re not happy with your performance on a particular level, you can always re-do it.  If you’re curious about the particulars, you can view your stats for each completed level in the stats menu.

The controls are pretty straight forward and I used a gamepad on my political journey.  The D-pad moves the mercenary and the A button lets them slide into enemies (to stun them) and take cover from fire.  The X button shoots and the B button reloads.  The Y button can utilize special weapons like grenades, turrets, and Molotov cocktails.

 

Not a Hero
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 74%
Gameplay - 15/20
Graphics - 6/10
Sound - 7/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 4/5

Morality Score - 41%
Violence - 1/10
Language - 0/10
Sexual Content - 6/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 3.5/10

Graphically, Not a Hero will not blow you away.  Even though the violence is pixelated, it’s still pretty gory.  There is also some sexual imagery in the game’s trailer that shows a character attacking a giant pair of male anatomy.  The game’s dialogue can be pretty raunchy too and there is plenty of potty humor scattered throughout the game.  In other words, please don’t let young children play this game!

The background music is good and each mercenary has their own accent and catch phrases.  Sadly, many of them are inappropriate for children to hear as well.  I highly recommend playing this game wearing headphones if kids are nearby.

Gamers who like 2D shooters may enjoy Not a Hero with its fast paced action and silly humor.  The asking price of $12.99 is reasonable, but if you easily get bored, I’d recommend holding out for a sale if the gritty violence and language don’t bother you.

 

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Game Info:

Scraps: Modular Vehicle Combat
Developed by: Moment Studio|
Published by: Moment Studio
Released: July 7, 2015
Available on: Windows, Mac OS X, Steam OS
Genre: Simulation
Number of players: 1-8
Price: $14.99

 

Thank you, Moment Studio, for sending us a copy of this game to review!

I'm sure we've all been there – you're stuck in traffic, or cruising along at a decent speed, when all of a sudden someone cuts you off, or blazes past you doing 90 into oncoming traffic. You think some rather un-Christian thoughts about jerks like this. Sometimes you get to wondering... what if I mounted a machine gun to the hood? That might get people to reconsider cutting you off.... Or maybe some armored fenders to start edging people off the road if they ride in your blind spot for too long....

That could be a pleasant idea... until it gets to the point where everyone else is doing it, too.

Then it gets hilarious.

The premise behind Scraps: Modular Vehicle Combat is deceptively simple. Choose a chassis and a cockpit. Then go crazy with decking out your car with armor, guns, engines, cooling units and more blocks to make it as unique and dangerous as possible. Test it out on the field to make sure it runs as well as you hope. Tweak it some more until it's perfect.

Then drive it into the field of battle and see how you hold up while everyone else is gunning for you, too. If you destroy their vehicles, collect the smoldering wreckage so you can use their parts to repair your own battered vehicle. They'd do the same to you, given the chance. While in the repair screen, you can swap out parts – or even change vehicles entirely. Then get back out there and repeat until time runs out.

Scraps: Modular Vehicle Combat
Highlights:

Strong Points: Fun vehicle-to-vehicle combat; creative mode
Weak Points: Wonky camera controls
Moral Warnings: Vehicles shoot up other vehicles and collect their remains

Whether you win or lose, take note of what you did. What worked well? What didn't? Modify your vehicle(s) accordingly. Then get back out there and cause some more wreckage. 

The game is still in early access and you can expect frequent patches before the official release date, but it's impressive with what's been implemented so far. What amazed me the most was the amount of customization you can do in the game, and I'm not just talking about the vehicles. You can play a single-player mode, and designate the length of the match, how many computer opponents you have, the level of their AIs, and even restrict what vehicles they can use. (For fun, try building a really bad vehicle, then giving it a high-level AI to see if the car really stinks as bad as you think. You may be surprised.) For connecting, you can either go for a LAN option, or hook up in Steam to play on-line against other players. One nice option for the LAN parties is that only one player needs to own the full copy of the game. Everyone else only needs the demo version, and they can connect in that fashion.

The game can be used either with a mouse-and-keyboard setup, or a twin-stick controller. The vehicle moves with the WASD keys, and the mouse handles the aiming reticules and firing of weapons. It also handles the camera controls, which can sometimes get a bit wonky. There were many times when the camera ended up looking down on my vehicle from above, and I had to manipulate the mouse to get it back to normal while trying not to be a sitting duck for my opponents. 

As the vehicles take damage, they spark and smolder, and can even lose parts. One of my first vehicles was poorly designed, with the engine exposed at the rear. When that was shot up to the point it fell off, my vehicle no longer moved. The developers have done a great job in determining how parts affect the performance of the vehicle, and this reminded me a lot of the classic Mechwarrior 2 in that aspect. Lose a part, and your vehicle functions accordingly. If your chassis or cockpit is destroyed, your vehicle erupts into a ball of flame and showers the area with metal scraps – which are often eagerly scooped up by your enemies. 

Scraps: Modular Vehicle Combat
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

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

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

If you can manage to get your vehicle to one of the glowing "evac" pads and keep it on there for three seconds (yes, it's possible to be rammed off the pad during this time, or even blown up while you're in the midst of teleporting away!) you're taken back to the design room, where you can use the scrap you've collected to repair your vehicle, or add additional components to your car. Once you're satisfied, a simple click on "redeploy" spits you out randomly into the battlefield again.

There is a bit of a leveling system in play – defeating enemies and collecting scrap earns you experience. Once you get enough experience, you gain a level, and also unlock new vehicle parts. As a result, those who have been playing the game for quite some time will have more building options than those just starting out – which may be seen as an unfair advantage. Fortunately, experience also can be gained in the single-player games, so those who want to test their mettle – and designs – against computer opponents first may be better equipped when they face off against skilled players. Not only that, it's possible to limit matches based on "point values" for vehicles, with 15,000 being the default, which is a respectable value for small to medium vehicles. Those who want to use larger guns or heavier armor may do so, but with a hard cap, they will have to sacrifice other functionality as a result. 

The music is quite limited, and the graphics are simplistic. There isn't much detail or texture to the shapes, but there really doesn't need to be. It's easy enough to tell what's going on, and most of the game is focused on the action. Since the game is still in early access, there are some limitations. As of this writing, there are only four maps that can be played on, and one game style (destroy your opponents before they destroy you).  There aren't too many people playing for multiplayer matches, either. Three servers were open to me, based on regions around the United States, but all were empty whenever I checked. There are other features that have been promised, such as a campaign mode, more arenas, and additional game modes. I'm not sure if there will be a level editor, but given the amount of customization the game contains already, I'm certain that it would be a welcome addition.

The game still has its share of flaws, but it shows a lot of great potential. If things continue to develop the way they have been, I'm sure that many of these limitations will be ironed out. For those that especially enjoy arena shooters and driving games, the $14.99 price tag is a great price for a lot of replay. 

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Game Info:

Strawberry Vinegar
Developed by: Ebi-Hime
Published by: Sekai Project
Release Date: January 5. 2016
Available on: PC, Mac, Steam OS
Genre: Visual novel
Number of Players: Single-player
ESRB Rating: Not rated
Price: $9.99

Thank you Sekai Project for sending us this game to review!

Strawberry Vinegar is a visual novel that only provides a few choices per chapter for the player to make. There are six possible endings with only a couple of them being happy ones.   There are many customization options including the text scrolling speed and how fast to have it automatically progress the story for you.  The story is about an unlikely friendship between an introvert and a young demon (demons can reproduce apparently) named Licia who is visiting the human realm, specifically Japan, to experience their culture and cuisine.  

Rie is an intelligent nine-year old girl who doesn’t have any friends.  She’s okay with that and she loves her mom who is a successful actress that financially supports the family and her father who stays at home and cooks and cleans.  Rie’s father is very emotional and wears frilly aprons while cooking extravagant meals.  Some of his cooking skills have rubbed off on Rie and she likes to cook and bake as well.  After baking a batch of checkered cookies, Rie discovers a girl her age except with horns and a tail, munching on her cookies without even asking or introducing herself first! 

Upon being discovered, Licia introduces herself as a demon and tells Rie to “Feed me or I will reap your soul.”   Rie has several ways of responding to this demand, but if you want to go for the happier ending, I recommend accepting this strange offer.  Given that Licia has seven stomachs she is often hungry and wants to experience all the specialty dishes that Japan has to offer.

Strawberry Vinegar
Highlights:

Strong Points: Likable characters and funny dialogue
Weak Points: Game frequently crashed to desktop; skipping only worked intermittently
Moral Warnings: One of the main characters is a demon visiting the human realm; possible same-sex attraction; language and blaspheming; references to multiple religions; Christianity viewed as a “convenient fantasy made up by desperate people”; Rie’s father is treated poorly and is portrayed in a negative light

Rie has the option of making foods for Licia or taking the easy route and go with some pre-packaged snacks/meals and no matter what route is taken a Steam achievement will unlock and Licia will eventually be satisfied.  Since this game revolves around food and has numerous close-ups of it and vividly explains its taste and texture, this is probably not a good game to play if you haven’t recently eaten or are trying to diet.

Throughout Licia’s six-day visit, Rie and her can go to a festival (or stay at home and do homework), school, a field trip, and a restaurant.   Each event is packed with some funny dialogue as these characters are pretty well developed and are very loveable.  One characteristic I did not appreciate was how the father was always being disrespected by his wife and daughter.  While an excellent cook and clothes maker, he was portrayed as useless when it came to doing anything else.  Despite being portrayed as effeminate, he was no doubt Rie’s father as she shares the same pink hair as him.  

Licia is Rie’s very first friend, though it takes Rie a while to come to that conclusion. There are possibilities to take the relationship further depending on some of the choices made in the game.  Surprisingly, Rie’s mother encourages this relationship to become more than just friends. The good ending I earned left them as good friends in the epilogue that takes place nine years later.

 

Strawberry Vinegar
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 72%
Gameplay - 16/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 8/10
Stability - 0/5
Controls - 4/5

Morality Score - 67%
Violence - 8/10
Language - 3/10
Sexual Content - 4.5/10
Occult/Supernatural - 5/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 13/10
+3 for promoting spending time with family

Besides the potential for same-sex attraction another issue worth noting is the after-life themes.  Many religions are represented and attacked by Rie’s mother who is an atheist that says religion is a “convenient fantasy made up by desperate people.”  The father who admits that he is not very smart, is open to the idea that there may be a deity and hopes that there is.   So I guess I must be desperate and dumb to be a Christian.  Got it.  The words hell and d*mn are usually used in their proper context, but that’s not always the case.  Not surprisingly, the Lord’s name is also used in vain as well.  Last but not least, Rie’s mother sometimes wears outfits that flaunt her cleavage.

Despite the colorful graphics and whimsical background music (which is sold separately for $4.99), I don’t believe that this game is suited for younger (Christian) children.  My kids were attracted to this cute game, but I won’t let them play it any time soon.  I truly love visual novels and think that they’re a great way to encourage kids to read more, but my quest for finding one that’s child safe continues. 

The asking price is a reasonable $9.99, but only expect to get a few hours of entertainment out of it.  After replaying it a couple of times due to earning bad endings, I was able to get a good ending within five hours.  There is an option to skip dialogue, but I only found it to work intermittently.  Another issue worth mentioning is that this game constantly crashed to my desktop if I left the dialogue text idle for thirty seconds or so.  As long as the game was auto scrolling, it seemed fine.  I had to make sure that I saved my game often just in-case I got a phone call or some other issue came up that required interrupting my game.  

The story and characters were cute and I enjoyed watching this friendship blossom. However, the opportunity to take it beyond that and the negative portrayal of the father and religion in general, like vinegar, left a bad taste in my mouth.  

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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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