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September 22, 2017

Steam Pack 6


It hasn’t been very long since the last one, hasn’t it? Only… five weeks! Eh, what can I say. I have a massive Steam collection.

It has actually grown a bit since this picture was taken.

Truly. Massive.

And how many of those have I reviewed so far? About 35. Which, granted, for a guy who’s been reviewing Steam games for about a year, it’s impressive. The Steam Packs help a lot in filtering out the games that don’t need a full, 2,000-word review. And since I have a lot of quick, short games, I like making these Packs. Thus I bring to you Pack #6, containing 4 more games I’ve played in recent months, games that I believe need nothing more than 500 words. Tales of riding music, collecting upgrades, beating puzzles and… worms eating each other? Ew. No, all four together, that doesn't sound like a good game at all!

Audiosurf 2



Price: 14.99$ USD.

The first Audiosurf game is a legend of Steam, one of the earlier games on the platform, released in 2008. Such massive popularity guaranteed a sequel would eventually be made, with upgrades, tweaks and overhauls of the various types of levels. I remember saying that the Medium difficulty on Mono was pretty simple after a while. Well, this changed. The base concept hasn’t quite changed, you still ride a track based on the song you’re using, going slower upwards when the song has a slower tempo, and going downwards quickly when the song’s speed picks up. The original game had three difficulty settings and multiple modes, including Ninja, Mono, Pusher and more. Audiosurf 2 keeps the modes, but does away with difficulty settings. You’re all on the same page! Why? Because the game now keeps track of your progress and score in a song compared to the progress of others who played it, as the level goes. I suppose it would be bothersome to have multiple difficulty levels on top of that. It’s kinda annoying for those who want to start with an easier difficulty level to get used to the game before plunging into the actual challenge.


Before you start playing, you can also pick among various skins. Tired of the regular look? Pick a skin, any skin! There’s only 5 at first: Stadium, Mystical, Dusk, Neon and Classic. The blocks to collect don’t really change, but the vehicle and obstacles do; as an example, in the Dusk skin, my personal favorite, you drive in a small car and the obstacles are thousands of black cars in the way. In Stadium Mode, they’re spikes on the road.

The best addition to Audiosurf 2, however, is the possibility for players to create new modes and skins and make them available on the Workshop. You can spend hours checking what fans created, and pick in there what you wish to see in the game! That’s sweet.

Of course, once again you can pick among all the songs in your collection, from the shortest to the longest. You want a quick level? A long one? A regular one? A marathon? Enjoy. But that’s not all! Each day, a new song is featured, the Song of the Day, and you can play it – and every previous Song of the Day. To top it off, your options become even more limitless, somehow, as you can input the URL of a YouTube video and use THAT as your level!

However… as much as I enjoy the system overhaul, I have to say I’m not fond of them removing the difficulty selections, nor am I fond of the new way the cubes are set up in a level or the scoring system. The score cubes and obstacles aren’t spread out now, there’s more of them all over the track. The focus has changed from simply collecting blocks to trying to collect 21 and fill the 3X7 grid you’re given, which gives extra points. More emphasis has been put on competition, which isn’t to my tastes either. If you’re playing a popular song, your score will be tracked in real-time… and compared to the Top 5 scores on that song. AKA, you’ll most likely not reach the Top 5 and, so, you'll see the Top 5 scores as they beat you. Not very fun. Otherwise, good game. I can’t say I like it as much as Audiosurf 1, though I can see why many people would prefer Audiosurf 2, what with the endless creative possibilities and tighter timing challenge. Also, some people like trying to beat a high score, which isn't why I was playing the first Audiosurf, to be honest.

DLC Quest


Price: 2.99$ USD.

Thanks! I would have never guessed!
I remember playing many games that took some video game concepts to their logical conclusion; I remember Achievement Unlocked and its sequels on Newgrounds, and I also remember Upgrade Complete. DLC Quest does the same, this time bringing the concept of downloadable content to its extreme. Only downside is, that’s not actually mocking DLC, and the concept is closer to Upgrade Complete.

The joke with this game and its sequel is that your character starts off with practically no abilities, being pretty much only able to walk forward. You collect in-game coins, buy upgrades – like the ability to jump or move to the left. This opens the way for more coins, more upgrades, and so on. As for why you need to get all of these upgrades? The plot is simple: Your girlfriend was kidnapped by the villain. Kill him… that’s all. But since your progress is constantly stunted by the abilities you lack, you have to buy more and more DLC.

Double jump? Heck yea!

So, what's my quest today?
The game is packaged with its sequel, Live Freemium Or Die, which follows the same concept but is a little longer to complete. This time around, the game is a bit more challenging, as you need to complete various tasks on top of discovering who killed so many villagers. From a village, we go in caves, discover the villain, then the villain behind that villain. As it turns out, the real bad guy is ________, who decided you were ____________________________________________. Want to have that spoiler revealed? Buy this 2$ DLC to update the blog! On top of that, you can actually die in “Live Freemium Or Die”, although there is no limit to the ives you can lose. It only makes the platforming aspect a little more difficult. On top of that, you can’t get a double jump here and must become a talented wall-jumper to get to the end instead.

Pop! I prefer the Rock zone myself.
Both games are ripe with geek and gaming references (with one NPC spouting memes, which the player character reacts to with groans and annoyance), and even reference popular gameplay elements (again, double/wall jump, collecting coins and upgrades, zombies, sudden sexy clothing), all to throw some shade on it all. The first DLC Quest is ridiculously easy, with most of the challenge being to find every single coin in order to buy the final “DLC”, which is what kills the final boss. But hey, no way to die in that one, and it can be completed pretty quickly. “Live Freemium Or Die” goes even further, adding more piques to the gaming industry in general, featuring pointless fetch quests, NPCs with no purpose outside of their one role (and they say so once that they’re past their purpose, too!), blatant advertisement sections (“BUY SODA”), an entire DLC area that must be bought to progress… They even have a Season Pass! As in, buy that pass to be able to go through the winter that blocks your way to the boss. Freaking season passes…

Pretty clever stuff, and I have a good time each time I play these two games. The first one is too easy, and the second one is long and demands too much backtracking from the player, but that’s a minor issue. Add very funny dialogue to the whole thing, and you get a game that’s worth, yeah, about 3$. And for speedrunners out there, the two hardest achievements to get are all about beating both games in record time.

Picross Touch


Price: Free

Is it the year of Picross for me? I reviewed Pokémon Picross early this year, and now… well, I’m getting into another Picross game. This one is bare-bones, basic, as if they wanted it to be minimal for easy transportation to other platforms, like mobile. This take on Picross features large squares, a simple system and fairly small grid sizes, which makes me think that this was supposed to be made for smaller screens. Oh well!

Somewhat easy.
Picross Touch (the name is another indication that this may have been intended for touch screens) drops any unnecessary elements to focus on the puzzles. You get a few basic tutorials, then you’re thrown into the level selection screen. Pick your size: As simple as 5X5, or as difficult as 15X15? The base game contains an impressive number of puzzles, too: 57 5X5 puzzles, 122 10X10 puzzles, and 187 15X15 puzzles. Even if you never go in the Workshop, you’ll have plenty of puzzles to solve! Not that they’re difficult, mind you; the smaller the grid, the easier it is to find where each black square goes. The menu screen even tracks your progress in the game! I currently have 27% of all the main game’s puzzles solved.

Still simple.

Still not satisfied? Go in the Workshop, where thousands upon thousands of puzzles have been crafted by the community. On the day I published this review, the current number is 8556. You’re reading this review later, the number must have increased. The best part about the Workshop must be that people can make puzzles up to 25X25 squares in size, allowing a lot more creativity.

This one looks pretty tough!
Speaking of creativity, the level editor is also pretty great. You pick your grid size, then you can start creating! Obviously, you only have access to black squares on a white grid, so you need to have an image that people will recognize despite the simplistic design. You can make puzzles from 5X5 to 25X25 in size. You can then publish it through the Steam Workshop! And to top it all off, when you’ve finished your puzzle, an automated system will go through the grid and rapidly solve it; if it can’t solve it, then you’ll need a few more black squares, as the numbered hints at the top and on the left won’t allow a human to solve it either. In other words, you cannot publish on the Picross Touch Workshop a puzzle that is impossible to complete.

This is good! Very, very good! Simple, but sweet. Yeah, I recommend this! If you want to get your fill of quick and easy Picross puzzles every once in a while, this is a nice thing to have in your library.

Worm.is


Price: Free-to-play

Worm.is, that’s a title I discussed already on my blog, way back when I first covered my 12 Steam discoveries. I was still an early user at the time, and would just download whatever free title I could get my hands on. This was one of them. This modern, multiplayer take on the famous Snake arcade classic was one of the first games to get me hooked to Steam. Not that it’s that great, mind you, but it showed the kind of creativity I could expect from many developers on the platform.

Little worm goes big.
In Worm.is, you’re a worm traveling around the great nothing, with bugs and bits scattered around. Eat them, grow bigger. Contrary to the original computer Snake game, this time you can pass over yourself once you’ve gotten big enough, instead of eating a part of yourself. Beware of other worms on the field who are also collecting bugs and growing. How can you kill other worms? Either by forcing them to ram into you, or by ramming into them if you’re significantly larger than them. It’s a tricky thing as you might want to avoid taking risks and stop yourself from ramming into other worms while you’re still small. When a worm is killed, it leaves behind a trail of dots, which the other worms can then eat to get stronger. There are leaderboards, and the entire point is to try and reach the first place – and keep it.

A level-up system? Huh.
The game is packaged with plenty of modes – free-for-all, teamwork (teams of worms try to collect more points than everyone else), Capture The Egg, Scourges (in which you can only kill others by using traps you can set around the board), Crazy Mode (where worms can be as gigantic as they want to be), Tournaments – of course – , 1vs1 matches, competitive modes, guild wars and private matches. A ton of options.

Now, I did describe this game as a free-to-play experience, although you can pay real money to buy in-game coins, which can already be collected quite easily around a board by a sufficiently tenacious player. Even then, they’re to be used mostly to customize your worm or give it some equipment. Yes, there is such a thing as equipment in the game, and it can make your worm more durable, or a better attacker, or a quicker mover…

Little worm has gone big.
Hide your homes, it's gonna devour everything.
It’s a fun little game, I can’t personally say it hooked me for a long time, but I have fun whenever I decide to click it in my collection. Not a title in which I’d make a name for myself in multiplayer, nothing major. It’s a little something. It looks nice, plays well, and provides a decent challenge… In the end, it’s still just a multiplayer version of Snake. There’s only so much fun you can have with that. The various modes help, of course, but I can’t guarantee it to be a title you could spend hundreds of hours on. And hey, if you get bored of this one, there are two variants called Mitos.is and Strike.is made by the same studio, to keep you busy.

I hope you liked this Steam Pack! Now to move on to another Top 12 list… and then… Well…a movie review. Not any movie, either… but you’ll see that in due time.

September 18, 2017

Shantae: Risky's Revenge (Part 2)

In Part 1, we collected 2 of the 3 seals and went on our way to find the last one. We help zombies by giving them coffee, and in return they'll help her go inside that dungeon. We need a machine, beans and a rotten egg – because the zombies have no taste, apparently. Coffee machine? Not far from the Lilac Fields. Beans? In a hidden cave in the forest. Rotten egg? That's been dealt with.

The elephant is the least graceful of all her forms, but it's
damn practical to smash golems and other rocky
formations. 
Speaking of quests, there’s an interesting additional side-quest you can complete. It involves finding jars of magic jam scattered around Sequin Land. Most of them are located in areas that cannot be reached until you have the proper ability – the monkey to climb walls, the elephant to destroy blocks and ram over small pits, or anything the mermaid does. There’s 17 to find.

By the way, each of Shantae’s forms can obtain a new ability as well, all of which are required to beat the game. The monkey form of Shantae can shoot itself from wall to wall like a bullet, the elephant can do a stomp to destroy blocks and the mermaid can blow bubbles. Just gotta find those abilities hidden around the world map!

I needed to bring you this coffee so that I could continue on
my quest. Of course I'd bring it to you.
Bu do you have any idea how much trouble it was?

Shantae’s friend Sky, another one on the list of girls in skimpy outfits in this game, helps her make a latte for the zombies, using a rotten egg as promised. And what do we get from them in return? Explosives, of course! We’ll force our way into the third baron’s dungeon! We just need an electric spark to blow the thing up… Gee, good thing Shantae has the Cloud Puff that blasts everything with thunder!

September 15, 2017

Shantae: Risky's Revenge (Part 1)


Hey, remember that review of DuckTales Remastered I posted early this year? Well, I’m going back to the Wayforward well for now. And, this time, I’ll be playing a game I’ve never played before! Even before I played through Super Metroid for my review, I knew the “Metroidvania” genre was large and encompassed multiple franchises – I mean, what was I expecting? Only Metroid and Castlevania? Come on, Nic. There’s got to be more than those. And, indeed, there are. Tons and tons of games that are set under the genre. Gigantic maps, with a lot of secrets? Weaponry, abilities and items required to move forward in the game? Memorable environments? Yep, Metroidvania alright.

There is one franchise that I had never played before, and it falls squarely into the genre. Tell me, who is a dedicated heroine who feels the need to help her fellows, thanks to her prehensile purple hair and generally friendly demeanor?


What? No! I meant Shantae!

That’s her. While Shantae’s franchise only contains four main games for now, she has already found a large following thanks to the intriguing storyline, the tongue-in-cheek comedic tone, and the endearing main characters. That cutesy art style on the main cast couldn’t have hurt, either… and same for the fanservice, if Pervert-Me is allowed a single comment today in this review. The clash between the cuteness of the style and the very revealing clothing is what makes this game hard to pin on the ERSB charts. Is it for kids? Yeah, but there are many jokes that would be understood only by adults…

How else would you get a half-genie anyway? You can guess the implications behind this term, right?


Shantae first appeared in her eponymous title, on the Game Boy Color, in 2002. She then took an 8-year break until coming back again in 2010's “Shantae: Risky’s Revenge”, a downloadable title on the Nintendo DSiWare. This one was re-released in 2014 mere months before the release of “Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse”, available on Nintendo 3DS and WiiU through the eShop. Then, a fourth game was crowdfunded on Kickstarter, and the resulting title, “Shantae: Half-Genie Hero”, came out on WiiU, PS4, PSVita, Xbox One, and lately on the Switch. The last three games were also released on Steam… and I already own two. I only need Half-Genie Hero now. I decided it would be best to discuss the games in order, so I’ll start with Risky’s Revenge, and see whenever I can review the other one – and the last one, if I get to buy it. This intro has been long enough, let’s jump into this game, shall we?

September 8, 2017

Unturned


There are more zombie games on Steam than there are zombies in any single one of those games. I’m barely kidding. The zombie survival genre is… well, basically a zombie by this point, coming back to life every once in a while through cheap knockoffs that can barely be called games. Those are the titles that enrage the Jim Sterlings of this world in how TOO identical they are, having been built from the same resources.

After an hour or two in the game, you should be fully
clothed, armed, and very dangerous.
You better be prepared, the maps are pretty big.
See those mountains way far in the diatcnce here?
You can go there. You can even swim across.
And this is only a medium-sized map!
Unturned has the most basic concept of them all: Your place has been struck by "something" that turned everyone else into zombies. You’ve been unaffected by the virus. You have to survive by gathering resources, building a fort, learning skills and fending off zombies. Also, you start the game entirely nekkid, with very limited inventory space. Not that nudity matters much considering your character is blocky like a Minecraft protagonist.

Nelson Sexton, of Smartly Dressed Games, published the first version of Unturned in 2014, and the title was in Early Access until July 7th, 2017, where its full version was made available. Have I mentioned that Sexton was only 16 when he released the first version? This guy’s going to go far in life. Unturned is already hailed as one of the better zombie survival games out there… which sadly also means that it single-handedly spawned a whole wave of cheap imitators. But let’s be fair and criticize this game on its own merits, not on what it’s led to, shall we?

Two words come to me when I start playing Unturned: Complete freedom. You’re given the choice to play alone or make a server with friends. If you’re a team guy, you can get yourself into a multiplayer game. The gameplay hardly changes between the two, it’s always the same concept: Survive. You’re dropped, naked, in the map you’ve selected, and you must get clothes, weapons, and so on. The concept is very simple and you’re free to explore the map to your liking. There are large areas of nature, small inhabited areas, and lots of water.

September 4, 2017

Clockwork Tales: Of Glass And Ink (Part 2)

Throughout Part 1 of this review, we met Evangeline Glass, and we saw her father figure Ambrose Ink kidnapped by some evil Barber (that’s the villain’s name, he’s not actually a barber), so we investigated the outside of the Inn we started in, ended up in a zeppelin, landed in a castle backyard, got caught, escaped easily, and found our way to the basement. There lies the Tremor Machine used by Barber to cause earthquakes in the region. Our protagonist has managed to do all this without ever applying violence to any actual humans!

Okay, I can buy a giant mechanical spider, but a large
machine right over lava? C'm'on.
She’s like a child-friendly Black Widow! And on top of that, Evangeline is a female protagonist who isn’t sexualized in any way! Sure, we may see her once or twice, and she is attractive, but it’s never alluded to nor does it ever become a point of discussion from other characters!

We are now in the underground area beneath Barber’s castle, right above the magma. Sheesh, you have to wonder how the Hell he was able to build that thing so deep into the Earth! And of course, the bridge to the Tremor Machine has been removed so that Barber can work on it undisturbed, so we have to find a way towards it. Should be easy, we just have to explore that room with various robotic body parts, or maybe the room with that giant machine and a cell, from which we can see Ambrose Ink peeking…


Oh hey, I found him! Well, that was easy.

September 1, 2017

Clockwork Tales: Of Glass and Ink (Part 1)


For the record: 275 games.
Anyone who’s been on Steam for a long time has amassed a large collection of games. Summer and winter mega-sales, Humble Bundles and the like, this all leads to massive piles of games that are sitting in place in one’s computer, with many of these games never played… or played for all of 30 minutes and then dropped quickly. And yet, we all started there: As young and naïve Steam users, who knew that the selection of games on the platform was humongous, but could only buy a few at the start.

Do you remember your first Steam games? I remember mine. Aside from downloading a lot of free MMORPGs (a move I regret now since I played only two and soon uninstalled every other one) and a lot of free and free-to-play titles, the first games I actually remember buying were Undertale and Clockwork Tales: Of Glass and Ink. It’s a weird combo, huh? Well I added 15$ to my Steam Wallet because Undertale costs 9.99$ in the U.S. but costs 10.99$ in Canada, goddamn stupid exchange rates, and I had to spend those last 4 dollars on something… but I digress. So yeah, I looked at the selection of games and took the first thing that would cost approximately what I had left. Undertale review? Yeah, no, not today, sorry. It would be a gigantic review, I’d need a special occasion for it. Like an anniversary, maybe. (Hint, hint.) Today, I need something smaller. So, Clockwork Tales it is.

Item searches have been a staple of puzzle games for a while. I remember, long ago, reviewing a game like that for the blog. What was it called again? Sunnyville? Yeah. It’s a sub-genre that offers its own challenges, but it’s usually pretty bland if it’s all there is to do in a game. I’ve always felt that the Item Search sub-genre worked better when put within a story context, with some additional puzzles. On this, Clockwork Tales delivers, offering various puzzles with a few Item Search screens. Also, this story takes place in a steampunk world with plenty of world-building, so it could be interesting.


We open as our protagonist Evangeline Glass arrives in the calm mountain town of Hochwald. A letter from her mentor, Professor Ambrose Ink, asked her to go there. Glass, Ink… odd family names, no?

August 25, 2017

RollerCoaster Tycoon

(Title card coming... whenever I can...)

Even though it’s a genre I don’t play as much, I quite enjoy games in which you build your own enterprise. When it comes to simulations and tycoons, there are games for just about every stype of enterprise out there. Amusement parks, in particular, seem to be a pretty popular theme for those, probably because it’s so easy to personalize your own park and make your own roller coasters.

In the first year of this blog, I reviewed Thrillville: Off The Rails DS, which offered some level of freedom in building your own park... but not that much. Today’s game is the OG Amusement Park Maker, with 100% customization! But it’s also pretty tricky. Being slightly closer to reality means having so many more elements to keep track of, resulting in a game that is very, very complex. Want to feel like an actual amusement park manager? Want to know the deception of never being able to build your dream roller coaster because you have to focus on literally everything else?

Thus, Hasbro Interactive, MicroProse and Chris Sawyer brought to us Roller Coaster Tycoon, which is sadly less about making awesome, epic roller coasters than it is about managing parks. But hey, it’s a part of the package. The game is sold on Steam for 5.99$ USD with all the original expansion packs, making it quite cheap for a “Deluxe” edition. Then again, the game IS many years old (it was originally released for home computers in… 1999. Wow, I wasn’t expecting this game to be that old).


There’s not much of a plot here: You’re an amusement park manager. You just got that very big piece of land, usually with raised areas and trees and other things in the way, but not a lot of rides just yet. Build attractions, make your own park, add roller coasters, and reach the goal you’ve been given!


August 18, 2017

Goat Simulator


When it comes to game-making, if a development element becomes popular, you can tell that you’re going to see more and more games using it. This ranges from styles to genres to game development softwares to gameplay elements and, even, experiments with physics. There’s a reason why so many goddamn games are trying to be the next Call of Duty. That’s also why so many games on Steam are made on the Unity engine – it has a free version out, so anyone could download it and start making games. Hence why Steam’s store is filled with Unity games, ranging from “great” or “amazing” to “so memorably shitty that everyone makes fun of them”. One trend, which is still going om, is ragdoll physics.

Simply said, ragdoll physics turn every character that gets hit into a wriggling messy mass that can barely move by itself, and overreacts to any other kind of stimuli such as being pushed away, carried around… or blown up. And of course, the term comes from ragdolls, boneless puppetlike toys whose limbs can be twisted in all directions. Games utilizing these physics for an effect will have almost every character capable of bending arms, legs, even the head in all the most unrealistic ways possible. Joint stiffness? Motion ranges? What’s that? Who cares, look at that guy, he looks like some sort of Eldritch monster forgot how its human body was supposed to work, and it’s twisting every limb like there’s no bones or muscles in that body! …that’s funny, right?


Even The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild made use
of ragdoll physics; although it usually means Link is about
to get hurt, badly. So, a darker example than most.
Point being, like every overused mechanic that has gained popularity in game development, it’s become a part of the worse games out there, mostly because some developers thought it would be funny. Other games downplay the use of ragdoll physics, using them in some situations but not making them a core element. That’s the thing: ragdoll physics, by themselves, are not funny. Sure, you get a kick out of them the first time you see what they do, but the joke wears thin fast.

Today’s title was an in-house experiment by Coffee Stain Studios that was eventually developed as a full-fledged, “bad on purpose” game that intentionally screws around with physics. Released on April 1st, 2014, Goat Simulator has since achieved sort of a cult status, attracting mass interest upon release for its silly premise. Like the Flappy Birds of this world, the mere premise sent the Internet into a frenzy, with people both clamoring and denouncing how stupid the idea is. There wasn’t much to do at first, but the game grew and gained more and more modes, and Coffee Stain Studios even released a bunch of DLC to stick their Bovidae protagonist in even more silly situations.


Come to think of it, maybe I should have used this as my April 1st review this year instead of Starbomb. Oh well! Shall we get into this?

August 11, 2017

Steam Pack 5


This probably won’t be one of my more famous Steam Packs, for a good reason. While I was editing the humongous review of Super Mario RPG, I kept some smaller game running in the background, some clicker, because I’m a stupid addict. It made me think of free games in general.

Steam has an odd relationship with free games. It accepts any small games by developers that are handed out for free on the platform, no matter the amount of effort put into them; as an example, I reviewed small experiments like Carpe Diem before. It also has a ton of free games that include microtransactions, of the kinds that are necessary to either properly beat the game or get an edge in a competitive multiplayer mode. We also have free games that include microtransactions but can be beaten without ever paying a single penny. Today, I am looking at the concepts of free, free-to-play, “fee-to-pay”, microtransactions, payable extras, you name it – but not necessarily in that order. No, it’s not gonna be a heavy article, I just sensed a theme among the titles I played lately and thought it would tie the whole pack nicely together. Let’s begin, shall we?

Camera Obscura


Price on Steam: 1.00$

Starting with something almost free, we have a little indie project that combines a platform game with puzzle elements… common genre among indie devs, as I’ve discussed before. This one does something I’ve never seen before, though. Anteater Games beings us Camera Obscura: You’re the protagonist. You’re an amateur photographer. There’s a giant tower. You want to scale it. You got a magical camera with you.


For some reason, you die if you touch any enemy. Including
the cute anteaters here. Inexplicable.
You need the camera to reach the top. It creates temporary movable platforms out of the solid areas surrounding you at the time you took a picture, like hard light becoming terrain for a few seconds. Why “movable”? Because these hard light platforms created by your camera will move along with you for a second before setting themselves in place and staying put for a few more seconds. The puzzle aspect of this platform game is thus to take pictures at the right moment, then move as needed to be able to cross gaps or jump to higher ledges thanks to the solidified light. It may be just a little hop, or it may require running over what once was a bottomless pit.

On top of that, the game has enemies, which are indestructible because our protagonist went in with only a camera and left their bazooka at home. Sheesh! Well, okay, that’s not entirely true. They “can” kill enemies, usually by crushing them into the hard light, but most of the time the protagonist and their single HP will be at the mercy of whatever living threat is in the way. Not every platform will be replicated into hard light, though; and some places are locked by puzzles, requiring, say, an enemy to press a switch so you can progress.

Your temporary platforms can also become a hindrance
if you don't place them correctly.
It’s a strong concept, and one that opens the way to a lot of space-based puzzles. The protagonist’s jumping abilities are far from incredible, so many of the solutions will simply involve creating an additional step between two platforms to make a viable staircase or walk over a large gap. It’s also possible to move the game’s camera (by which, I mean the screen) in all directions, and though your magical camera won’t reach that far to make platforms, you can still use that feature to see what’s coming next.

Also, collecting photos containing
backstory rather than pictures, a
sweet little completion quest.
This game is very hard, but fair. You need to master the camera’s ability early on, though.. The thing will require very precise timing when it comes to moving and jumping, and a single mistake can cost you a life (thank God they’re infinite, and thank God there’s a lot of checkpoints). 57 levels of the same thing can get tedious, especially if the concept isn’t expanded upon, and it’s one of the flaws in this little game. Thankfully, the environments are sufficiently diverse and the soundtrack adds a lot of ambiance. In the end, it’s a game that might not please anyone, but folks who like puzzle platformers might find something here to their liking. Oh, and when you buy the game, you get a free level editor, allowing you to create your own levels and publish them on the game’s Steam Workshop!

Learn To Fly 3


Price: Free-to-play

Everyone has to start somewhere.
I used to visit Newgrounds a lot before I joined Steam. I remember liking quite a few altitude games on there. Those are games where you control a little character usually trying to go to space. You collect money to upgrade your launcher, get better jetpacks, decrease air friction… One of the funnier games in that genre was the Learn to Fly "series" (it had only 2 games), about a penguin trying to reach space or blast through a giant iceberg. It’s famous for its tongue-in-cheek tone, where every upgrade has its accompanying reference or joke, and for the utterly ridiculous lengths the little penguin will go to in order to achieve its goal. I guess the maker(s) of the first two decided to stick the third one on Steam.

See how far it can go?
Hey, this is not a UFO Parking Zone!

Unlike the first two, this one is actually free-to-play, meaning that you could in theory spend real-life money on it. For, you see, the first time you play, most upgrades are locked, and can only be unlocked after multiple playthroughs. Beat the original, 200km height goal, and then beat it over and over again – that’s a fairly quick way to unlock everything.

Whoa, that's heavy.
(P.S. This is Payload mode, hence the giant weights.)
Here, you can spend real money to buy Sardines, which you can then use in the game’s Black Market to buy cheat upgrades, special bonus items, or one-time-use modifiers that will make you earn more in-game money or reach a higher altitude. Last but not least, you can buy trading card packs. Yes, there are trading cards here. Not any trading cards, mind you; these will contain additional launchers, rockets, body modifiers, all of which can then be equipped to your penguin to go to crazier and crazier altitudes. You can also get in those packs some of the previously-mentioned one-time-use modifiers. Some cards can even conntain Bonus Points, which are required to upgrade elements that affect the whole game. The Bonus Shop will make your launchers more efficient, your fuel will take longer to consume, your penguin will be more aerodynamic, your gravity less limiting… It’s playing God all to allow a penguin to go to space.

There are four modes: Story, about sending your penguin as high as possible; Payload, in which your penguin is given a heavy weight and must reach a high altitude in spite of the added weight; Classic, in which your penguin will instead try to fly around the world, getting thrown horizontally rather than vertically; and Sandbox, where one can toy around with the game's programming to try and reach the craziest possible heights - or utterly crash the game, if the player goes too far.

As you can guess, all of the interest is in getting those booster packs, as they hold all the rewards you want. You could pay for Sardines to buy them… or never spend any real money at all, and grind for Sardines with multiple playthroughs, earning them by completing in-game achievements, and just buying a pack every time you have enough Sardines. That’s how I did it, and I beat the game without ever spending any real-life money on it.

Hmm... Do I want to pay for in-game currency... or do I want
another actual game instead...
In fact, the microtransactions seem to have been tacked onto this game as a way to excuse its status as a technically “free” title. And allow the developers to make some cash and, perhaps, make an even better Learn to Fly 4. LtF3 has the same humor and tone as the others, and adds a lot of customization options to the mix. Cute and funny; a decent time-waster, I guess. Just don’t spend any money on it. You can beat this game without paying a single dollar. Tenacity will lead you to places! No need to spend!

Minion Masters


Price: 5.49$ (fee-to-pay)

That's a busy screen and not that great a game so far,
but the cute Deck Master makes up for it I guess.
A basic PvP title about cards being used to summon monsters on the player’s side of the field, to then assault the base on the enemy’s side. Simple enough, no? Every type of enemy has its own abilities, attack speed, target requirements (can they hit airborne monsters? Can they shoot projectiles?), and a cost to be summoned to the field. It becomes an odd mix of tower defense and resource management as you farm points to summon your stronger beasts to go against the enemy, who has the same strengths and limitations as you do… just with a different deck. The first player destroying the other player’s base wins the duel. Monsters with bigger summon costs will survive more hits on the battlefield and deal massive damage, but will often have drawbacks like walking slowly, attacking slowly, or being only able to attack some categories of enemies.

Yes, the lion is my avatar. Got a problem with that?
There’s also various abilities that can be unlocked during a match, all depending on which “bridges” you control. Both sides of the field are connected by bridges that the summons walk through, and each bridge is controlled by the owner of the last summoned monster that walked through it. These include bonuses like faster increase in summon points, better attack, and so on. You can get new deck masters with different abilities, allowing you an edge against some of the opponents.

Obviously, the PvP aspect is the main reason why this game exists. There is a very short 1-Player mode where you just battle CPU opponents, allowing you to spin the wheel and get more rewards, whether it’s new cards to use in the game or some of the various currencies that can be used. It's all preparations to get into PvP, however.

Gotta smash the enemy! ....'s fortress.
Let me make this clear, though: This game is still in Early Access, so it’s incomplete (your purchase of the game and any additional content are supposed to help the developers continuing work on this product). Base price is currently 5 dollars – but you need to pay an extra 20$ to get upgrades that will make it quicker to level up in the game, get better rewards, and so on. Yeah. 25$ is getting a bit pricey for a PvP game in Early Access… That’s not even mentioning the microtransactions. For, you see, you can spend real money to buy Rubies, which you can then use in the game to get new deck masters, arenas and power tokens. And as is the case for every fee-to-pay game, while you can progress slowly by accumulating victories in PvP tournaments and by coming back every day to get rewards, ultimately grinding that way is slow and tedious. You WILL need to spend some more if you want a competitive edge… because you’ll otherwise be at a disadvantage when battling others who may have paid dear money to get better summons and effects on their side.


I don’t blame Minion Masters’ developer, BetaDwarf, for adding fee-to-pay elements to their game, but as it stands, I can’t really enjoy it. I get why they do that, you pay for the main game and then you can choose to pay for more or not, and all the money they receive can help them develop a better product in the long run. But it falls into the common fee-to-pay traps of eventually forcing the player to pay if they want to be able to measure up to everyone else. It’s not bad, but I don’t really like it. Hopefully it becomes less restrictive as time goes and we can enjoy it without having to pay more than the game’s starting fee.

Time Clickers



Price: Free

After I realized I had too many of those, I decided to purge clickers out of my Steam collection. Too much of a waste of time. Hell, the only one I kept is Time Clickers, and even then, I’ll likely delete it as soon as I’ve beaten it. So, let’s take a look at that one, and then be done with clickers in general.

These blocks are in the shape of a lightbulb, right?
Like every clicker, there’s a thing to click on, and upgrades to buy. Could have been a cookie, could have been a monster, could have been a cookie monster. Nope, we’re clicking on… cubes of different colors (weakest to strongest: Red-white-yellow) put together into a recognizable shape. This forces you to move the cursor around to click every block in order to destroy it. The accompanying upgrades are also made to target and shoot cubes in a certain number and at a certain frequency, unlike upgrades in other clickers that would rely solely on Damage-per-second (DPS) since there would technically be only one target on the screen. The attacking speed of your upgraded weapons matters into the DPS.

Overlevel at the start, and you,ll be overpowered!
See levels pass by at super-speed!
Other than that, it still follows the same beats as so many other clickers: Click-click-click, complete waves of 10 enemies, fight a boss every 5th wave or so, fight bigger bosses, upgrade your weapons with the money received… And, starting from Wave 100, get a secondary “currency” of sorts that will increase your damage per second by 10% for each one you get, although you can spend it on permanent upgrades that will make your playthrough easier or allow you to get further. Oh, most clickers also include microtransactions, because even developers of clicker games need to make some money. See, I just described most clickers out there.

Soo... many... things to upgrade... Holy wow.
Time Clickers does things a little different, though. First, in most other clickers you get a 10% bonus to DPS for each of the special currency you keep, and you lose that bonus if you spend said currency on upgrades. It’s not the case here, as you can get permanent upgrades in Time Clickers and you still keep the DPS bonus. Oh, also, there are no microtrasanctions whatsoever. It may be a grind to beat the game, but you won’t spend a single cent on it!

That’s okay, there’s no point in continuing past Wave 4,000 anyway. Or after you got every special upgrade to the maximum level, which is also a Hell of a grind, but anything you do after this is merely for bragging rights. Get all the achievements, upgrade everything to the maximum, also improve your weapons with the third currency, weapon cubes (a third currency that improves your weapons, though they take much longer to gather; that's another thing I don’t see in other clickers), and… I dunno, beat it and then stop wasting your time on it.

I mean, it’s a clicker. It’s inherently a waste of time with rewards to make you feel some sort of accomplishment without actually doing much for it, as well as something pretty to look at, something that you can just keep in the background or set and forget while you do more important things. It’s addictive but ultimately pointless. I liked this one because it didn’t include a way to take your real money, but I’ll still delete it from my collection because I shouldn’t spend my time with those games. Oh no, I should play, y’know, other games. For review on this blog.

So, this completes another Steam Pack. Yeah, sorry, I guess this one didn’t have much in the way of jokes. Oh well. Come back next Friday for something that will be full of jokes, guaranteed.