Reviews by Yawaru

A Valley Without Wind 1 & 2 Dual Pack Icon
A little all over the place
by Yawaru, USA - May 14th 2016

A Valley Without Wind 1 and 2 are basically the same game. 2D sidescrolling platformers with procedurally-generated levels and mini-dungeons, some character progression, customizable gear, and Sim City-ish world building system. While this might sound good on paper, it's a bit too much to wrap your head around, and it's not executed very well. If you've seen or played Actraiser on SNES, I think that's the best comparison, but even more stuff.

In both games, you're tasked with exploring a mashed-up world of past, present, and future settings, with enemies ranging from bats and bugs to small flying boats and robots. You explore short linear levels with mini-dungeons, the mini-dungeons have more verticality and a Metroid-style mini-map. You collect materials from dungeons that you can use to customize your gear or build up a settlement (the Sim City aspects). The customization includes perks for leveling up, different spells with various elements and ranges, and enchantments.

The graphics are one of the big weak points, the main character is too large, the animations are lacking, enemy projectiles are hard to see, the levels are underdeveloped and the tile layout is painfully obvious. There's a lack of cohesive visual aesthetics, which you might chalk up to the idea of a bunch of times mashed together, but it just doesn't look good. Combat is projectile-based, point with the mouse and fire in 360 degrees, it's functional.

The games simply lack polish in terms of visual quality and gameplay. Even getting both games, you may just skip the first game and play the second as it's slightly better visually but essentially the same game.

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In Between Icon
Fairly difficult, atmospheric puzzle game
by Yawaru, USA - May 13th 2016

In Between is a puzzle-platformer game with a fairly heavy narrative about grief and regret. The puzzles are both challenging and varied, introducing new environmental hazards at a steady pace throughout the game with a few extra challenging levels for each stage that don't need to be completed for story progression. This is a pretty clever design choice, as earlier levels introduce new mechanics while the challenge levels take full advantage of said mechanics. If you want to play the game with minimal challenge to enjoy the story you can stick to the critical path while players looking for more of a challenge will certainly find it here.

You traverse the levels using a gravity manipulation mechanic; you can change gravity to any of the 4 cardinal directions after landing on a flat surface, so navigating levels requires precision and timing. In addition to standard instant-death spikes the game introduces moving obstacles, areas with set gravity, and levels with encroaching darkness that obscure the level and consume your character.

The hand-drawn art style and minimalist design give the game a unique look, but leave a little to be desired when it comes to menus. The music is solid and accompanies the themes of the story well. The game's presentation is great overall.

In Between will provide several hours of challenge and fun, the mechanics work well and the levels are varied with new features introduced at a steady pace. Well designed and engaging, this is definitely worth the price for puzzle fans.

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The Silent Age Icon
Point, Click, Apocalypse!
by Yawaru, USA - Apr 17th 2016

Silent Age is a 2D point-and-click adventure with a miminalist aesthetic and a time travel mechanic allowing you to shift between a future and present version of the current area to collect tools and solve puzzles. As far as adventure games go, this one is not too difficult, as it relies on environmental puzzles to advance through the level. It's fairly straight-forward in terms of "ok, I found a fight extinguisher, I guess I'll need to put out a fire," and you use all the items you find before moving to the next chapter. Take that as you will, some may prefer the old fashioned Sierra logic games where you somehow have to make a rocket out of a office supplies and an oil drum to knock a book off a ledge. Others will prefer being able to figure things out without a walkthrough.

In terms of presentation and polish, this game gets a high B in overall quality. The UI is simple but functional, the art style isn't jawdropping but it still looks good, and the music is pretty good. The game runs without a hitch and offers simple controller support out of the box. I found using the controller preferable but it offers no advantage or disadvantage, it's just nice to have as an option.

The game is fairly short, so you may want to pick it up in a bundle or on sale rather than full price, but it's definitely a sold game that's worth your time.

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realMyst: Masterpiece Edition Icon
Myst, for real.
by Yawaru, USA - Apr 16th 2016

RealMyst: Masterpiece Edition is an updated version of the original Myst with modern graphics and all the original content of the first Myst game. There isn't much to say about a point and click puzzle game from the 90's; the gameplay is comprised of exploring prerendered environments for clues to solve small puzzles that unlock the end of the game. What can be said is that the updated graphics bring one of the most beautiful game of the time into the modern age, and the remastered soundtrack is icing on the cake.

The biggest flaw for a 90's puzzle game is the fact that many of the puzzles are unnecessarily obtuse, but the difficulty is nullified by the fact that you can look up a walkthrough online. The end result is a game that's more historical than fun to play. If you play this, I'd recommend going in blind if possible, attempting to solve the problems on your own before falling back on a walkthrough. The game has not aged well, but you may still enjoy this little nugget of history.

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Titan Souls Icon
Critical Path, the Game
by Yawaru, USA - Apr 10th 2016

This game was originally developed in a few days during the Ludem Dare 28 challenge. As such, there isn't a lot to this game, but what is there is finely honed and very fun to play. The game itself can be completed in an hour or two if you know what to do and are fairly skilled, but I would recommend going in blind to get the most out of this game. Part of the challenge is figuring out what to do and how to do it, you can look up a guide to help, but it mitigates some of the fun and challenge.

Titan Souls was developed with a theme of "You Only Get One." As such, you have one attack and die in one hit, but so do the Titans. The game closely resembles Shadow of the Colossus or Legend of Zelda with all the filler cut out. There are no fodder mobs, no levels or power-ups, just boss fights.

The presentation is one of the best parts of the game, sparse but beautiful music, a sprawling environment, and minimal story delivered mostly in environmental clues and allusion. It should be noted that this game is best played with a controller, requiring precision movement and twitch reflexes. It can be played with a keyboard, but, for an example, with a controller you can shoot the arrow in a 360 degree circle, while a keyboard gives you 8 directions.

Overall a great game, very polished, short and inexpensive.

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Kingdom: New Lands Icon
Fun but difficult 2D city builder.
by Yawaru, USA - Mar 28th 2016

Kingdom has a fairly simple gameplay loop: you are a king or queen on horseback building a new kingdom from dirt with a few coins and some mercenary peasants, defend your kingdom from goblins, and expand! The graphics are 2D Atari-inspired pixel art used to fairly impressive effect with beautiful backdrops and a revolving day-to-night cycle.

In the day, you collect gold, recruit workers, outfit them with bows to make them hunters or hammers to make them builders. The hunters shoot animals for additional gold while the builders make defenses and expand your kingdom. At night you fend off attacks from goblins trying to destroy your kingdom and ultimately steal your crown, causing a game over.

This is where the difficulty comes in, you have a limited amount of time to gather resources and build up your fledgling city before waves of goblins come to tear your city down. Every few days a massive wave comes that tears your city a new one, which is when your crown is most at risk. This makes for tense and exciting games and multiple playthroughs while you hone your strategy and improve to progress further into the game.

Overall, this game has niche appeal, but it does what it does very well. A great game to play for short bursts.

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Dungeon Hearts Icon
Good game for short bursts.
by Yawaru, USA - Mar 26th 2016

Dungeon Hearts does one thing pretty well, but it quickly descends into grinding and carpal tunnel as you frantically move the mouse around trying to move the little dots into place to match 3. And yes, this is basically a match 3 game with an RPG skin on top. Graphics are ok, art style looks nice, but there isn't much more depth beyond more types of tiles and the stages going faster and faster. You play it over and over again, gradually getting better and occasionally getting enough XP for a permanent buff, such as 5% more HP for one of 4 characters. This was the first upgrade and it took an hour to get.

So I'd say it's a bit slow. There's a little bit of story there but the characters aren't really built up, so it's basically just window dressing. Mouse controls work, but as the stages speed up it gets harder to grab and move tiles, which quickly became agitating to me.

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Chains Icon
Better than your average flash game
by Yawaru, USA - Feb 28th 2016

This is one of those games that takes a fairly simple premise and expands it into a short but challenging puzzle game with a surprising amount of depth.

Gameplay is simple: connect dots of the same color to make them disappear, satisfy an objective unique to a given level to advance. What's impressive is how many different objectives came up with using a limited range of tools. Ranging from simple objectives such as get a high score to more complicated objectives such as keep a stream with multiple choke points flowing for 5 minutes.

The aesthetic is simple, colored dots and silhouette containers.That and the simplistic menu design are reminiscent of Flash games, but it doesn't have much impact on the game. Music's not bad, it seems to get louder when you get closer to failing an objective, but not much to write home about.

Overall, it's a decent game, there's a couple hours of quality gameplay, maybe a little more if you're into score attack.

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