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Game Info:

Insurmountable
Developed By: ByteRockers' Games
Published By: ByteRockers' Games
Release Date: April 29, 2021
Available on: Windows
Genre:
Number of Players: Single-player
ESRB Rating: Currently no rating
MSRP: $18

Thank you ByteRockers' Games for sending us this game to Review!

A mysterious island appears where there seemingly was none just moments before, and on it are 3 massive mountains. This island boasts many firsts that almost any adventurer would dream of. To walk paths unknown, to stand where no one has stood before, to scale the new mountains, and to be the first person to see the world from their highest point. Or perhaps this island holds secret and by scaling them someone can find an unknown energy source previously unknown to man. Or even, why was there a hidden island in the first place, who was hiding it, why did it just suddenly appear from nowhere?

In Insurmountable it is the goal of the player to scale 3 different mountains on an island that mysteriously just appeared out of nowhere. To start the game, there are a few choices that need to be made. The first choice is class, then once that is chosen the second choice is difficulty, and then lastly the choice of a benefit of terrain combined with some negatives for the path chosen. Once those choices are made, the player finds themselves at the bottom of a mountain. It is the player's job to successfully make their way up the mountain to the peak and then back down to a safe location before attempting the second mountain. At its core, Insurmountable is a resource management game. To make it to the top the player must make decisions that will boost a resource or possibly cause a loss of some. The ultimate goal is to make it through all 3 mountains without succumbing to the elements and dying.

When the game begins, the player is required to choose one of the three job types: Adventurer, Scientist, or Journalist. All three jobs get the same starting stats; the only differences between the three is their clothing and each have different skills and equipment. The Adventurer starts off with the ability for a few hours to generate warmth while moving. The Scientist has the ability to sacrifice time for an XP boost and also the ability to zoom out further so it makes it easier to plot a path. The Journalist can ignore terrain for a few hours making it less likely to lose energy.

After choosing a job, the next choice is to choose which difficulty to start with. There are three difficulties: Normal, Difficult, and Insurmountable. The player must start off with Normal, and only beating the three mountains on Normal can the next difficulty be chosen. Each difficulty makes things a bit harder; Difficult depletes the resources faster and causes worsening weather conditions, while Insurmountable makes it practically insurmountable. Once the difficulty is chosen, it cannot be changed without starting a new game.

Then the very next choice to make is what mountain to climb, which are another three choices: Mountain 1, Mountain 2, and Mountain 3. Just like with the difficulty, Mountain 1 must be beaten before Mountain 2 can be attempted and so on. Each mountain is more difficult than the one before it, and once the first mountain is beaten, the next mountain must be attempted with the remaining resources from the previous mountain.

Insurmountable
Highlights:

Strong Points: Good music; high replayability; lovely scenery
Weak Points: Ability to reset choices before gameplay begins; hard to make changes when character is moving
Moral Warnings: Some talk about mysticism

The last choice before starting the game is choosing which route to take. There are 3 routes: Route 1, Route 2, and Route 3. The 3 different routes each offer a benefit and a detraction. An example would be Stable Ice (where the icy terrain provides better grip) and Thin Air (breathing is harder).

Finally once all the decisions are made, the gameplay starts. As mentioned before, this game is a resource game; in order to scale all 3 mountains the resources must be spent wisely. There are 5 main resources that must be maintained, these are: Health, Sanity, Body Temperature, Energy, and Oxygen. The only stat that when depleted means Game Over is Health; all the others help keep Health from being depleted. Health can be lost by walking on bad terrain, or losing one of the other resources. Sanity is used up as decisions are made or walking too long at night. Body Temperature is lost when walking at night, or on really cold days or making certain choices where the character is stationary for a few hours. Energy is used while climbing to a different level. Oxygen is used up once a certain height is reached, then anything that happens can waste oxygen.

To begin the journey, the player uses Keyboard and Mouse and must move the character along a path chosen by the player to make it up the mountain. To move, the player clicks on a hex and the game will automatically choose the shortest path. However, the shorter path isn't always the best path. The higher the rocks that the character climbs can drain energy much quicker, so sometimes taking a longer route will save energy. Placed somewhat out of the way are Points of Interest (POI as they are referred to by some skills). If the player crosses a point of interest, they will often get to make some choices that can boost some of the already wasted resources or possibly take more away. Determining whether to stop at a spot is difficult, but in the end without stopping at least a few there will be no way to complete all 3 mountains. POI's also give the player XP; each time enough XP is gained, the player can level up, giving them new abilities. The abilities can be either Activated Abilities or Passive Abilities. Some of the passive ones are less energy drain on all terrains or walking at night causes less temperature loss. Activated Ones can give boosts to resource gain crossing certain terrains or abilities that take time but give boosts to some resources.

There are also items within the game that will help regain some lost resources; using them will destroy the item so its often good to try to stop at some POI just to hopefully get some helpful items. And then there is equipment. A character can have one pair of boots and gloves, one hand item for helping with climbing or walking, a head item that can either help with heat or breathing, and two charm slots for charms found along the way. Unless an item is worn it is stored in the backpack, which is a 4x5 grid that limits the number of items a person can carry, so stocking up also becomes another resource that must be managed.

As the character moves or performs actions from the POI, time goes by. During the day it is warmer, and during the night it is colder and climbing costs more energy. It is often a good idea to sleep during the evening. Sleep can either be selected from the ZZZ button, or if a player finds a cave. If the player has a tent they can sleep outside and have less of loss of body temperature, otherwise they can sleep but risk the body temperature dropping significantly. They can also continue to climb during the night as it might cause less resource drain than sleeping if there is no cave or tent to use. At night it is also harder to see, making path choosing more difficult as the line of sight is extremely reduced.

In order to beat a mountain, the player must successfully navigate through a path through the rough, cold terrain until the top is reached. Once that occurs, a new location is pointed out that the player must reach, which is called a Safe Zone. Once the safe zone is reached, there is a huge regain of lost resources. The character also gains what the game calls a Scar. A Scar gives a permanent debuff to the character; during my play-through I got one that would drop my Sanity by .2 points per hour. Then the next mountain starts and the remaining resource and items from the first mountain are all that the second mountain starts with. And the journey begins again. To beat the current difficulty they must reach the peak of the third mountain without losing all the health. Once that difficulty is beaten, a player can then choose the next difficulty but only with the class that it was previously beaten with.

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

Game Score - 88%
Gameplay - 18/20
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 9/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 92%
Violence - 9/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

 

I found game quite enjoyable. Anyone that enjoys puzzle games or resource management games would definitely find Insurmountable very appealing. On Normal difficulty it gives the player a lot of energy to check out points of interest and get a good feel for the game and how it works. It is very easy going on the first mountain almost lulling the player into a false sense of security. But it also gives time to figure out how it works and to work on some strategies. The game itself is not very long, I managed to beat the 3 mountains on Normal setting in about 2.5 hours. Even though it may be short, the playability is high as it is a rogue-lite game, and the paths are different each play through or even after a character dies.

The soundtrack is very lovely, it gives a sense of majesty and foreboding. There is no voice acting and everything is given through text. The graphics are very nice, I would not say they are top of the line but as you pan the camera around, the scenery is definitely something to behold. The character is pretty detailed if zoomed in close enough, but nothing changes about them with different items equipped. I ran into one maybe bug where my character walked through what looked like a snowdrift, not sure if it was just a graphic glitch or somehow a big drift got put on a walkable spot. I did not see too many other main issues.

The game itself does have a whole lot that detracts from the Morality of the game. There are a few events where the character will find dead people, and they can search them for items that help with survival. There was one POI I found that I could either save or kill a hare that had been trapped. If you free it, it costs an item, but if you don't have an item you can kill it out of compassion which caused Sanity loss but XP gain, or you can choose to just continue on forgoing all benefits.

There was some POI's that dealt with praying at a shrine to get some resources back, or running into an eagle and getting a magical feeling which can also cause resource gain. But overall this game did not deal too much with the supernatural. I did not run into any swearing either which I found to be a bonus.

Insurmountable is a great game; it mixes challenging and fun easily and being a rogue-lite makes it different each time you play. For just one playthrough it is not very long as I beat it in only 2.5 hours, but it definitely has high replayability so even if it is short it does not detract from the game at all.

As always, consider any appropriateness issues before making a choice as to play this game or not, but if the things mentioned do not bother you, then I think this would definitely be a good choice for any Puzzle Game fan who is looking for a game that will definitely pose a challenge the more it is played.

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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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