I’m a terrible chicken mother

I have to admit, I really love social simulation games. I used to play Animal Crossing every morning and evening back in my second year of university. I used to play The Sims 3 during my spare time way back in high school. But times have changed, and the next great game to catch my attention is Stardew Valley. This adorable game has found its way into my heart and managed to stay there for a while.

Stardew Valley is visually, quite frankly, extremely adorable. The 8-bit art is very aesthetically pleasing and I love it so much. The music fits the game so well, and I really just want a copy of the CD so I can listen to it while I am studying.

I can spend hours and hours on Stardew Valley without realising it. That’s how addicting the game is. I love taking care of my crops, making bread to give to townspeople, and taking care of my animals. There are a few missions that you can finish in order to gain healthier and better relationships with people. I’ve clocked in so much time into this game, maybe a bit more than I like to admit. It’s a great way for me to de-stress from the day and to spend a weekend chilling at home.

What I really like about Stardew Valley is that it’s very gender neutral. It’s a game for everyone, regardless of one’s gender identity. I know a lot of men and women a like who love the game. You can have same-sex marriages with different characters, which I love. As a queer gamer, I do appreciate this feature which has been missing from a lot of life simulation games over the years.

The game can be difficult sometimes. It’s quite a slog in the beginning, but once you get a groove going, you will get the hang of it really quickly. I didn’t know how to take care of my chickens at one point. They would get lost amongst my crops or just hide and not want to come out. Very sneaky, those chickens. Maybe I’m just an awful farmer.

Like many games of the same genre, however, it gets repetitive. The routine becomes the same, and you’ll run out of missions or tasks to finish. It’s really hard to keep the interest of an audience if they eventually run out of things to do. I’m guilty of this: I haven’t touched Stardew Valley in a few months. I should go back and make sure my chickens aren’t dead or something.

Overall, Stardew Valley is a great, wholesome game that is amazingly fun, just keep in mind that the game can’t run on forever. I will give this game a solid 4.5/5.

Let’s dive into the pits of hell

How well will you fare if I put you in a dungeon with 3 other people, give you weapons, and tell you good day? What if I told you that the dungeons have creepy crawlies and other monsters? Well, you probably wouldn’t last long, but for the characters in Darkest Dungeon, this is their profession. Darkest Dungeon is a rogue-like, turn-based dungeon RPG heavily based on dungeon crawling. It is a unique, Middle Age-based game with fantasy elements. The catch? They are all humans just like you.

Here is a game that has grabbed a lot of the gaming community in its clutches, intrigued interested viewers on Twitch, and interested indie lovers around the globe. Here is a game that has been critically acclaimed and played by thousands. Twitch was filled with streamers who either had early access to the game or bought the game because of its rising popularity. A few months later and this game is still gaining high ground within the industry.

I was honestly surprised at how successful this game was. When I was first introduced to it as a Kickstarter, I thought it was going to flop for 2 reasons:

  1. The art was rough, and didn’t appeal to me the first time around.
  2. I thought classic RPGs with only humans weren’t really popular.

Obviously, I have learned to love this game. The game’s aesthetics grew on me: its black and red theme fit perfectly with the concept and game design. Additionally, the game is challenging, something that I have been craving for a while. Straying away from high fantasy concepts and designing only human adventurers has made the challenges exciting to play, and I have to rethink my strategies every time I start a new dungeon. Even if I’m not nearly to the end of the game yet, I think Darkest Dungeon warrants a review. There is so much amazing-ness here that I couldn’t wait until I finish to write one.

But sadly, this game isn’t perfect. The gameplay and its logistics can be quite difficult to learn. Don’t expect to jump in and start playing immediately: Darkest Dungeon is relatively hard to get into at first and will take a while to plant a seed of interest in you. You will grow frustrated at yourself, your adventurers, and your game, but remember that frustration is why the game is so appealing to many.

If you’re seeking a challenge, try Darkest Dungeon. You won’t be disappointed, and it will want you to come back for more. If you just want to try something new, download Darkest Dungeon anyway. You will have something to talk about to your (hopefully) game-loving friends, and you will understand Twitch streamers a lot better. In my mind, this game deserves a good 4.5/5. Have fun, and happy dungeon-crawling!

 

The hilarity and beauty of Battle Block Theatre

One of my best friends gifted me a cooperative game before he went home for the year so we could at least bond over something while threatening to kill each other over Discord. As you can probably tell by the title of this post, the game is Battle Block Theatre, and it’s a gem. The Behemoth has created a game that is not only f*cking adorable, but also incredibly fun yet stress inducing.

The characters are aboard the S.S. Friendship, and there are hundreds of  them, including Hatty. Hatty was regarded as a best friend to everyone aboard, and everybody adored him. They would sing songs, and the crew were genuinely happy. While aboard the boat, a huge storm rocks them all onto an island, and you (the protagonist) take shelter in a crummy theatre. You realise that the whole crew has been taken hostage by an army of cats, and Hatty has been possessed by a top hat for some reason.

Battle Block Theatre is just like your ordinary comedic co-op game: great game mechanics, art, and characters. However, the game also has a plot, albeit minimal. While the plot and the world building isn’t as fleshy as, say, Borderlands or Diablo, Battle Block Theatre has its own charm even though it mainly centres around a prison island.

I love the originality of the art and art style in this game. Almost all the cut scenes are done entirely in stick puppet style. The graphics are simple and colourful, but all the obstacles and layouts of the different levels don’t crowd the screen. The game has the perfect balance of beauty and chaos, which I find quite fascinating.

The voice acting and music for this game are phenomenal. The narrator never fails to entertain me. I can listen to him tell the story in Battle Block Theatre over and over again. His voice is upbeat and quirky, and he keeps you hooked by adding a slightly posh English accent to his storytelling. As for the OST, I want to purchase a copy of it and import the music onto my phone so I can listen to it over and over again.

This may seem absurd, but I absolutely don’t mind seeing my character die constantly in this game. It is a game where dying isn’t a big deal. It is also a game that you can’t really become really great at, and that’s okay. The most important part of the game is that you have fun interacting with your partner solving levels that become absurdly harder as you two progress.

What does bother me is how complicated the PC controls can be. My friend plays the game with a Xbox 360 controller, while I stick to my laptop keyboard. My fingers can get really cramped and it’s really hard to react well in-game with stiff fingers in awkward positions. If I haven’t played the game in a while, I feel like I have to learn the controls all over again. For a simple co-op game, its controls can drive me up the wall sometimes.

I highly recommend this game, and if you do decide to buy it remember to find a good and hilarious friend to play with as well. I think this game was best designed to be a co-op game. However, if you can’t find someone to play with, there is no shame in playing solo. With that in mind, I will give this game a solid 5/5.

Game Review: Undertale

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Undertale. Oh, Undertale. A wonderful game with adorable pixel graphics and an incredible story line. Good job, Toby Fox. This was an amazing experience and a half.

In Undertale, you play as a human girl who has fallen into the Underground, a large secluded area underneath Earth’s surface, protected by a magical barrier. You have to battle monsters through a unique battle system, but also make friends along the way. Be careful, though; you can also choose to spare your opponents, and your choices will affect the rest of the game.

What I liked

Undertale is an amazing storytelling experience. The characters are likeable and display a relative good amount of character growth. The plot is riveting, but also filled with emotion and action. It’s can be a roller coaster ride, and that’s my favourite part of the game. There are no flat characters, and the story makes you feel something. I really liked seeing the game evolve and revolve all the different characters of the game.

The combat system is original, and actually quite difficult and complex. While you have the chance to murder someone, you also have the chance to spare someone from death, which I thought was pretty neat. Dodging attacks is a lot harder than you think, especially as you go deeper into the game.

What I didn’t like

I wasn’t a big fan of the pixel art. It does give the game its flair, but I found it distracting and a bit annoying to look at. I know a lot of friends who really like the art, though, so it really boils down to your personal preference.

Final verdict

If you have this game sitting in your Steam account, or debating whether or not to get it when it comes out for the Switch, please don’t make it into a complicated debate. Play it. I’d love to see how the story goes for you.

Game review: Bastion

Overall rating: 4/5

Bastion is one of Supergiant’s popular indie games, and it’s not hard to see why. With its wonderful graphics, colourful art, and sassy narrator, the game has garnered much attention in the gaming world. The game has received amazing feedback from sites such as IGN and PC Gamer, and a lot of gamers have recommended this game on Steam.

What I liked

Bastion’s graphics is one of the most aesthetically pleasing things to look at. While not mind blowing, the art is stunning. The colours compliment each other well, and everything doesn’t seem too cluttered at any point during the gameplay. This is amazing for games of this genre, and I commend the artists who made the scenes come to life.

The music and narration were near perfect. The scores aren’t too distracting. In fact, they bring out the atmosphere really well, and gives each stage a distinct feel to them. The narrator has a soothing voice. I can listen to him talk all day. Seriously, it’s that good.

Bastion’s story is well written. There is a clear conflict, climax, and resolution, but don’t expect everything to go your way. There are a lot of hidden surprises, and there will be unexpected turns when you play. The story is interesting and will keep you on the edge of your seat. I love how interactive it is: the narrator will become sassy sometimes if you do something wrong.

The gameplay was smooth and so fun. The stages were challenging, and there are some stages that almost made me want to throw my mouse across the room.

What I didn’t like

Honestly, there really isn’t too many problems in the game. The only major thing I can really talk about is the gameplay. The controls can get a little while to get used to. It can get confusing at times when things get too hectic in the game, but nothing too major. That’s part of the whole point of the game.

Final verdict

Please, please, PLEASE buy this game and play it entirely. It’s amazing, wonderful, and I’m sure you’ll love it as much as I do.

Game Review: Kentucky Route Zero

Overall rating: 3.5/5

I got this game as part of this year’s Indie Bundle 2017. For those of you who don’t know Humble Bundle, I highly recommend that you get your games from this site. A lot of the games are DRM-free, and a portion of your purchase will go to a charity of your choice. Their bundles are great and they offer good games for a fair price.

Kentucky Route Zero, according to the Steam store page, is a magical realist adventure game about the underground caves of Kentucky. Developed by Cardboard Computer, the game is split into five acts, each contributing to an overarching story. The song features original scores by Ben Babbitt and blues music by The Bedquilt Ramblers.

What I like 

The game has a unique art style, and certainly has a one-of-a-kind design. Kentucky Route Zero is heavily focused on storytelling and atmosphere, and their unique art style certainly brings that out. A lot of their scenes were based on theatrical set design according to the Steam store page, and it shows: a lot of the background and scenes pan around like I’m participating in an interactive play. That being said, the game in its entirety is absolutely stunning.

I also really like the music. Babbitt’s score and The Bedquilt Ramblers’ music helps bring out the southern Kentucky atmosphere, and also helps me to immerse myself into the game. The scores are original and quite enjoyable to listen to.

What I didn’t like

The main reason why this got 3.5 stars instead of 4 is because of the story. I really wanted to love the story, but it was just too slow paced for me to enjoy. The first two acts were okay and fresh, but the rest started to become the same. It seemed like the same storyline, plot, and people over and over again. Plus, there doesn’t seem to be a climax, and the overarching conflict is bland at best.

Kentucky Route Zero is also pretty confusing to play at first. I didn’t know I could choose which direction a conversation was going through prompts at first, and it wasn’t until halfway through Act I did I finally understand the game mechanics.

There is just too much text. It was fun to read at first, but I found myself skipping through a lot of the dialogue later in the game.

Final verdict

If you have a problem with walking simulators, don’t buy this. If you want a laid-back game, this is the one to go. I’m more for action-packed games, so this isn’t the one for me.