Endling – Extinction is Forever from Publisher Hearobeat Studios and Developer HandyGames
Don’t mess with momma fox. Emotional journey of a momma getting her stolen cub back. Beautiful art and well told story.
Endling is a 3D side-scrolling survival eco-conscious journey in a beautiful yet polluted world. You play as the last mother fox on Earth with 4 newborn cubs. A hunter traps one of the cubs and you will need to track down the hunter to rescue your cub while keeping your other 3 cubs safe, fed, and alive. Mankind is slowly destroying the world with trash and junk everywhere. The forests are being cut down and rivers are polluted. As the game goes on you will see the world getting worse and worse.
For the first little bit, when the cubs are very young, they will stay in the shelter and you will need to go out and bring back some food. Sometimes, you will have to hunt other animals or dig through garbage looking for food. Most of the expeditions take place at night while the humans are sleeping. The game does recommend you return to the shelter before morning. This is not mandatory although it does make it easier to move around because if the humans see you they will attack. When returning to the shelter to sleep you will see an adorable image of you, the momma, and your cubs sleeping. Every once in a while you will see an animation of a cub yawning or moving around.
After a few nights of solo foraging for food, the cubs will venture from the shelter and join you. This adds another component to the game as you will need to make sure they are safe and keep them within range. They start off not being able to do much, just following you around waiting for food. There are certain areas of the game that will teach your cubs new skills. With some of the new skills they learn they will be able to get their own food and escape when being hunted. The cubs can get scared with everything happening in the environment or when you have been attacked. You can pet your cubs to reassure them everything is ok. This little extra touch adds something special to the game and really makes you feel connected with your character.
With all that said, not all interactions with humans are bad. Yes, most of them will be trying to hunt you with traps and if they do get too close to you they will attack you but, some of them will ignore you and a few will give you some food and try to pet you. For the ones that are hostile, you are able to fight them off but it does take a toll on your character as you are unable to run and will have to walk away.
If you die you are provided with a message letting you know that your cubs couldn’t survive without you as well as the image of your character being killed sometimes a little graphically. If you don’t take care of your cubs, they will die so it’s important to not neglect them if you want to keep them alive. This adds to the message about how serious survival is.
From time to time you will come across other animals; some you will hunt for food and others will attempt to hunt you. You can also befriend a few who will give you food and maybe even show you some short cut (fast travel) locations around the world.
The game provides you with a sniff mechanic, showing you a “scent trail” for food (prey and garbage) as well as the hunter who took your cub. Everytime you find a clue, which is something the hunter has interacted with, you get a little flashback image. This is used to help progress the story and also unlocks new areas. We really liked the way this was used as it felt like the hunter’s tracks came every few days normally after you had finished exploring your current area. The more clues you find the more you learn about the hunter.
As you play the world keeps changing, seasons change and so does the environment. While following your goal of keeping the cubs safe and getting the taken one back, new paths and escape ways to use and explore open up. There are events that happen on certain days in specific areas that you can completely miss out on. Luckily, this doesn’t impact the story but it does add another little something extra if you happen to experience them and gives players the opportunity for unique experiences in their playthroughs.
Overall we really enjoyed the game, the story, the world, and with all of the little extras it made it feel more like an experience than a game.
Endling – Extinction is forever is on Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo Switch, Steam, GOG and Epic Games. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
Bunny Factory from Publisher and Developer DillyFrameGames
More bunny puzzles, now with a mech suit. Play it for the achievements not the game play.
In the great tradition of the Bunny games this 3rd person puzzle game puts you in control of a Bunny as you work to solve the puzzles. This time you have a fancy mech suit and you’re working in a dead factory trying to bring it back to life. Each puzzle you solve provides a power core to restart part of the factory. Sounds pretty easy right? Well it starts out that way but it doesn’t last.
After you solve each puzzle located in the engineering room, you are presented with a power core, each of which needs to be taken to a different specific location in the factory. This process slows down the progression and pacing of the puzzle solving as you have to run around to plug in the core and run back to the main room before you can start the next puzzle. When you plug in the core there is a short cutscene animation of the machine being powered up and starting production.
There are a total of 100 levels to complete but only the first 50 have these different locations and animations. The remaining 50 are all located in a small room off to the side and there is no animation like the previous ones had. It almost seems like the developers ran out of time or just gave up on the concept they had introduced for the first 50 levels.
The puzzles are electrical schemes that require you to place colored blocks to power the floor and complete the circuit. The interesting part is that the blocks will only send power in certain directions. There are triangles located on the side of the blocks letting you know which directions it will let the power flow. There are also yellow arrows that appear on the floor when you’re holding a block and are standing on a square that it can be placed on. This helps you remember which directions that block will activate.
Like most puzzle games it starts out pretty easy with the blocks already being powered (colored in) and the puzzle sizes are small. Depending on placement some of the earlier puzzles can be completed without using all of the blocks. As you progress through the levels new challenges are added. Sometimes the blocks need to be powered/colored in the right charging station (Red, Blue, Yellow, Green). They also add more colours to the same puzzle, limit the effective range of the blocks, and the puzzles become increasingly larger both in size as well as the amount of blocks needed to complete the puzzle.
The game is lacking any real story at all. A few lines of text on screen telling us what happened to the factory and why we were there trying to reactivate it could have fixed that. The amount of time spent running around dropping off the power cores really hinders the pacing of the game and the enjoyment of solving the puzzles. This issue could’ve been improved if we could have picked up the core and dropped it off in the same room after solving the puzzle. The cutscene showing the machines powering up would still explain what the power core was used for but you would save a lot of time not having to run around and it would allow greater flow in the game play since the player would be able to start the next puzzle faster.
There are collectibles that you can find scattered around the factory. They are parts to a mech but they did not seem to do anything as the only customization option you have is to change the colour of your mech. We would have loved to have seen the collectables as equipable upgrades to the mech. They could’ve provided a performance boost like increasing your speed or jump height or they could’ve been some sort of cosmetic change. As is, they seem pointless.
There is online co-op which can help on the larger puzzles but it is invite only. There is also level select to allow you to replay previous puzzles. There is no challenge or leaderboard type thing so there’s not really any point in replaying the levels solo. However, we did find that a co-op partner can join you and the host can level select to just the levels with achievements attached and the co-op partner will get the achievements. The collectibles are also all present for the co-op partner so they can collect all of those as well.
Overall we feel like there were hints at a higher concept or story that just didn’t quite make it to execution. With a few tweaks this could’ve been a better game. But most of you are probably playing it for the achievements and not the game play and it does deliver on the relatively easy achievements.
Bunny Factory is available on Xbox, Playstation and Steam. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
KungFu Kickball from Publisher Blowfish Studios and Developer WhaleFood Games
Street Fighter meets FIFA in this 2D sports ball combat game. If you like 2D fighting games you’ll probably really enjoy this cute combat version of soccer/football.
Sports Ball Combat, that’s right. KungFu Kickball is a 2D mix of soccer and old school kung fu movies.
What do we mean by old school kung fu movies, well you can jump into the sky, bounce off bamboo trees, punch and kick your opponent all while trying to ring a bell in the opponents goal using a ball. Sounds pretty fun doesn’t it?
It has a bunch of modes to hone your skills as well as four different AI difficulty levels. Three of these are accessible right off the top but the fourth is only unlockable by beating the “Master” difficulty first.
The difficulty level naming follows the Kung Fu theme with Apprentice, Teacher, Master, and Grand Master. The AI is no joke as the teacher, master and grand master difficulty levels are very challenging. Luckily, you have unlimited continues. The only catch is you need to complete the mode in one sitting because if you stop you’ll have to start over when you come back. We would have loved to see the option to continue where you left off as the harder difficulties are very challenging which can be very time consuming.
The different modes are Practice, Training (the tutorial and target practice), Custom (these matches have a decent amount of options you can change), Tournament, and both Local and Online Multiplayer (versus and co-op). The online multiplayer lets you do Quick Play 1v1, 2v2, and host or join private games including letting you run custom matches. There is an interesting option in the Custom mode that lets you change the ball. “Why does this matter?” you might ask. Well each of the different balls behaves a little differently. There is even a ball shaped like the Publisher’s (Blowfish Studios) mascot which sticks to your character as a blowfish might.
To keep the wait time between online games short they have added Cross Platform Play which can be turned on or off in the options (they have it labeled “crossplay”). Being able to do this in game rather than having to change the setting on a system level is really convenient.
There is something cool we’ve never seen in a game before. While searching for a quick match you are able to practice against the computer without any bells to keep score. After a while of practicing a message pops up on screen with a QR Code. “Can’t find a match? Hop on the discord and challenge someone!” We really liked this feature as a tool for community development and a way of connecting with other fans of the game to get a match going.
The controls are very simple. You can either use the right thumb stick or 3 buttons to control your character’s attacks. This keeps the game easy to learn, very accessible and yet hard to master as you are able to do many different combinations of button presses or directions to do some other moves.
There are a total of six different characters (a few need to be unlocked before being able to use them), each with their own positives and negatives. There are also six different locations to play on. Each of the arenas comes with different environmental challenges that make each stage feel different and fun to play. Since there are only six it won’t take long for you to find your favorite arena.
It has a pixel art style for the backgrounds and characters. There is a nice cartoon intro that reminded us of the Power Puff Girls/Dexter’s Laboratory art style. Like any good sports game it has an announcer who chimes in when certain things happen. He reminded us a little of the announcer from NBA Jam with lines like “From Downtown”. There is also a Slow-mo replay that shows up when you do something cool to score a point.
Overall the game is enjoyable, addictive, and pretty challenging on the harder difficulties.
KungFu Kickball is available on Xbox, Nintendo Swtich, Playstation and Steam. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
One Hand Clapping from Publisher HandyGames and Developer Bad Dream Games
Find your voice (or other musical instrument) and play a fun game with 2D platforming and time manipulation.
One Hand Clapping is a 2D puzzle platformer that requires a microphone to play. Why a microphone?? I’m glad you asked! It is because your voice is the main tool you’ll be using to interact with the world and solve puzzles.
During your musical journey you will visit 6 vibrant biomes and will come across 3 adorable characters that will assist you. Each one is more adorable than the last. There are hidden glyphs and other secrets located somewhere on the levels. Some of which are very challenging to find. They are not mandatory but having them hiding there does add to the game’s replayability as the search to find adds additional challenge and things to explore after you’ve mastered the puzzles.
One of the interesting parts is you don’t have to be able to sing. It doesn’t hurt if you can but you can also hum, whistle, or make weird noises/sounds (we did that a bunch). Because of the game’s sensitivity to mic input we suggest warning the people around you that you are gonna be playing this as extraneous noise will make it difficult to impossible to complete the challenges. Or, they might come to check on you because “it sounds like a cat being strangled” and they were concerned.
As expected the puzzles in the earlier levels are pretty easy which lets you learn the game at a decent pace. The difficulty comes with new mechanics including time manipulation in the later levels. Some of the later puzzles were quite challenging and we ran into issues with not knowing what was needed to solve a puzzle.
They have a couple of great accessibility options for the less musically skilled gamers, Educational Mode and Voice Visualizer. Educational mode shows you the notes you are hitting vs the notes you need to hit using a small musical scale displayed on the screen. This would be a fantastic tool for music teachers to help their students with ear training and pitch control. The voice visualizer overlays the waveform of the mic input on the left side of the screen which partially obscures the view. We don’t recommend using it as it seems to get in the way more than it helps. They also built in an “easy button” that you can use to solve the current puzzle if you are stuck or are unable to complete it due to lack of musical ability. This provides a solution to the current puzzle but that is often only part of what’s needed to progress as you will still need to complete the platforming part as well.
The range calibration and sensitivity calibration options are very easy to use. We highly suggest using them before starting and potentially recalibrating mid-session if you find your voice starting to wear out after playing it for a while.
The art style is very colourful (after the first level) with a beautifully hand drawn cartoonish feel and is one of the best parts of the game. At times we found ourselves just looking around the level enjoying the world. The background art is very well done as well and adds a little extra to the game’s atmosphere making it feel whole.
The game/story can be completed in around 5 hours or less depending on musical talent. Sadly, there’s not much of a narrative (or it was somewhat lost on us). The gist seems to be that you need to battle the silence (darkness) and bring back the music (light).
Overall we enjoyed the game and got to make a lot of funweird sounds to solve some puzzles. We just wished there was more to the story and that the characters were a little more fleshed out.
One Hand Clapping is on Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch, Steam, iOS and Android. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
Teacup from Publisher Whitethorn Digital LLC and Developer Smarto Club
Short but enjoyable side-scrolling adventure game. Geared toward a younger audience but relaxing even for older players.
Teacup is a side-scrolling adventure game that follows a shy young frog named Teacup as she tries to locate the ingredients needed so she can throw a tea party.
On your adventure you will meet and engage with the other towns folk, some nice and friendly while others not so much, all of whom are some form of animal. A few of the towns folk will give you tasks to complete. Finishing them will reward you with one of the ingredients you are looking for. Some of the tasks are mini games, like slide puzzles or acting in play. They are pretty easy and enjoyable. All of the mini games fit the story and the narrative of the tasks well. They are a little on the easy side depending on your skill level and it is impossible to fail the games as they can be tried over and over again. This makes the game more accessible and hopefully more enjoyable for younger or less skilled gamers.
The game is just under 2 hours, so it can easily be completed in a single sitting but it’s relaxing the whole time. The soundtrack and art style add to the relaxing gameplay. The game feels like it’s geared towards younger gamers which is not a bad thing if you want to relax and enjoy some tea.
We ran into an issue by the pond where we hit an invisible wall that stopped us from accessing the icon to travel to the next area. We were eventually able to move around and come at it a different way and travel. This was the only technical issue we encountered.
Overall the game was a relaxing experience with fun mini games.
Teacup is available on Xbox, Nintendo Swtich, Playstation and Steam. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
Buildings Have Feelings Too! from Publisher Merge Games and Developer Blackstaff Games
A cute but complicated time based strategy/puzzle game. If you like complex variables this could be a great game for you.
Buildings Have Feelings Too! is marketed as a “city management” game. Watching the trailer it looked like it was going to be an intro to world building type of game play experience. However, this was not quite what was delivered.
You play as a cute building called the Halfway Hotel who is in charge of building and fixing up neighbourhoods. You will need to help rebuild the city to its glory days.
There are a total of 9 neighbourhoods to unlock and rebuild. Each neighborhood has a main building/quest-giver. You will need to complete the full quest line from this building before being able to access the next neighbourhood. Most of the requirements are simple; get a specific building type to a certain level or get the neighbourhood’s total appeal to a set number. So far so good. Seems fairly straightforward, doesn’t it? Oh but, wait!
The buildings all have their own feelings, personality, likes, and dislikes. There are several different types to make and place and each type has a different set of businesses that can be put in them. Each of these businesses will have specific “appeal” requirements that must be met by having the right surrounding buildings/businesses in order to level them up. If/when a building really dislikes the others around it a Red “X” will appear over it letting you know that if you don’t move the building or change its surroundings it will be closed down when the circle around the X is full. There were times where we couldn’t figure out what was causing this or how to stop it and had no choice but to let the building close down.
After a building type has been upgraded a few times you will gain access to new businesses that can be placed in it. This introduces new challenges for getting the right buildings/businesses in proximity to each other. It took us a bunch of time to learn what all of the building’s resources did and how to correctly fill the requirements.
There is a lot of hand holding in the game which isn’t a bad thing at first as the game is very complicated with many mechanics that take a long time to understand and learn. They introduced multiple mechanics at the same time which made it difficult to grasp them properly. This made the hand holding a lot more necessary than it might’ve otherwise been. Unfortunately, this led to it feeling like we were still in the tutorial after more than an hour of playing.
There is a relaxing soundtrack that is mixed with different sound effects making each neighborhood sound a little different while still maintaining a sense of continuity throughout the levels. The building animation was good and seeing your character running around was cute.
Overall the game was far more complicated than it needed to be. It seems to us to be more of a time based strategy/puzzle game than the world building type game we thought we were going to be playing. If we could make any recommendations for improvement, it would be to K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Sweetie).
Buildings Have Feelings Too! is available on Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo Switch, and Steam. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.