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7th Sector

7th Sector from Publisher Sometimes You and Developer Носков Сергей

A really good and challenging puzzle game.

A side scrolling dystopian cyberpunk puzzle game.

This is a visually dark game with a correspondingly dark narrative. The lighting and color palette really sell the dystopian cyberpunk future. You’ll want to pay attention to what’s happening in the background of the levels as that’s where you’ll see the majority of the narrative taking place.

The story is elegantly told without saying a single word. It unfolds organically while playing the game, scanning HDD’s, and watching the background to see what is happening.   

The sound track and graphics are very well done. They really capture the feel of a dystopian future. The soundtrack is never overwhelming. It subtly enhances the feeling of the environment and transitions from level to level. 

You start out as a little spark of energy traversing your way around the levels using power cables strung along the floor, walls, and ceilings. You will need to jump between these to gain access to other areas in the levels. As you move through the levels you’ll take over different objects from a remote control car, a robot ball that rolls around the floor, a mech with a gun, and more. Each new form will introduce new unique mechanics that will be needed to solve the different puzzles. 

The puzzles are typically math, logic, and physics based. Some of the puzzles or obstacles have an element of timing or luck involved which can be a little annoying after multiple restarts.You can brute force some of the puzzles while others require a little more time and effort as a wrong answer results in death and a restart from checkpoint. We found a few of them to be harder than they should be due to the “answer key” or clues being too small and hard to see due to the lighting or issue with the controls or physics. Most of the puzzles will have different solutions when reloading which will either keep you thinking or frustrate you depending on how you feel. 

One thing is for sure, the developer does not believe in holding your hand. They give only the bare minimum of instruction at the beginning of the game. The rest is up to you to learn through trial and error. As a result, some of the puzzles will take a few deaths to figure out what you need to do. 

The game has 4 different endings that are determined by the extra puzzles you solve or not while playing through the levels. It has 48 different levels and can be completed in a few hours. 

7th Sector is available now on Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch, Windows and Steam. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.

Music Racer

Music Racer From AbstractArt and Sometimes You

A futuristic driving rhythm game and light show.

You select your vehicle, the music track, the game mode, and the level. Your objective is to collect the notes by driving over them while avoiding red obstacles. At the end of the level you’ll see how many notes you hit, your combo, your score, and how many stars you earned out of 3. 

The controls are simple. You only use the d-pad or the left thumb stick to move left or right on the road while driving. There is no acceleration or braking. You could play this game one handed if you wanted to. 

It has retrowave style graphics with a lot of neon. The levels are extremely colorful and the game has a photosensitivity warning before you start the game. This warning is well deserved. If you have any issues with bright or flashing lights you should stay away. While our reviewer doesn’t have any issues with photosensitivity they did find that they could only play for a maximum of an hour at a time due to the eye strain from the light.

The audio is good and the soundtrack is enjoyable. The game has a large track list with 23 songs you can pick from. 

There are 14 different levels you can choose from and you can choose any song to play on the level. You can also choose from any of 25 different vehicles; one of which is a giant bird.

Most of the cars will look familiar. They feature the Delorean from Back to the Future, KITT from Knight Rider, the TRON bike as well as a bunch of other well known vehicles. You can customize the color of the car and rims which adds to the enjoyment of the game.

The game has 4 different modes to fit your mood. 

  • Standard: You drive over the notes and try to avoid the red obstacles. Hitting obstacles breaks your combo, reduces notes collected, and slows you down.
  • Hard: Same premise as Standard but with a greater penalty for hitting an obstacle. Instead of just breaking your combo it ends your run.
  • Zen: A more relaxed game mode without any obstacles to worry about. You can freely “zen-out” collecting notes and enjoying the music.
  • Cinematic: Puts you in the passenger seat instead of the driver’s seat allowing you to move the camera around and enjoy the scenery. There are no notes to collect. Just a relaxed audiovisual experience. It reminded us a little of the experience of watching the visualizations on media player or winamp in full screen.

We did wish that there was an option to create a playlist for the Cinematic mode as it would be a great addition to have playing in the background of a party. It would also be nice to be able to upload your own music and extend your playtime.

Sadly there is no leader board or any sort of internal tracking that shows what songs you have or haven’t played or what your current high score/star count is. Score is only used as ingame currency to unlock some of the cars and levels. Fortunately, you can replay the same levels and songs over and over and continue earning more currency.

A very bright audiovisual experience. Good music selections to choose from. You might need sunglasses.

Music Racer is available on Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.

Williams Pinball: Volume 5

Williams Pinball: Volume 5 From Zen Studios

A DLC pack of 3 Pinball Tables for PinBall FX3

This is a classic pinball game that harkens back to long hours spent at the arcade. All of the tables let you toggle between a snazzy animated landscape and the original version of the tables at any time. Seeing the tables in the original version really adds to the nostalgia and captures the feel of playing the tables in person. The animated versions are fun and provide more interaction than their more static counterparts.

Each table has a great animated LED Score screen. They also each have a skippable intro that gives you history on the table.

No Good Gofers

A golf themed table that reminds me a little of the Caddyshack film as you are harassed by a pair of gophers. The table is really colorful and has a cartoonish look and the animated golfer freaking out breaking his clubs and tossing them around was nicely done and fit the table.

Out of the 3 tables in the pack this table seems to be the simplest and is the only table to have a 3rd flipper. That’s right, a 3rd flipper. It’s on the right side in the upper part of the table and is tied to the traditional right flipper. It’s nice having the assistance getting a little more oomph out of your shots but requires some quick reflexes to take the best advantage of it.

Cirqus Voltaire

This table has a Circus theme. You have the option to change the color of the neon lights and the ball before you start the table. The table is very colorful and has more lights on it than the other tables in this pack. 

One of our favorite things about this table is the Greenfaced Ringmaster. In the animated version he taunts you and dances around on the side talking smack everytime you make a mistake. In both the animated and physical version of the table his head pops out at the back of the table and opens a target for you to shoot with your ball. After all that taunting it’s rather satisfying to knock him in the noggin a time or two when you get the chance.

Tales of the Arabian Nights

This table takes us through several of the Tales of the Arabian Nights. There is a huge Genie, a flying carpet, and fireballs in the animated version. The original version has a physical genie and both versions of the table have a magic lamp that spins around on the table when you hit it with the ball. The lamp is an interesting twist that introduces some extra challenge to the table. Depending on the position of the lamp, different pathways are either open or blocked. This introduced a much higher level of challenge for scoring but also a really fun mechanic. 

With the addition of the extra obstacles on this table it requires a lot of skilled shots to make it through the challenges or to successfully complete any of the stories from the Tales. 

Whether you’re a pinball wizard or not, this expansion offers something fun and can help you while away many hours.

Williams Pinball: Volume 5 is available on Android, Mac OSX, PS4, Switch, Windows, Xbox One and iOS. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.

Jumanji: The Video Game

Jumanji: The Video Game from Funsolve LTD

A 3rd person shooter movie tie in game

The game is either too late for the 2017 version of the movie or too early for the sequel in 2019.

The background graphics are decent but the character models need work. They are based on the 4 Jumanji characters first seen in the 2017 movie played by Kevin Hart, Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, and Jack Black. The character models are recognizable approximations despite being rather low res. They do offer some minor “customization” options for your character in the form of different colored skins for the characters and weapons.

The background audio is good but the voice over does not fit the characters. Since they made the game characters look like the movie characters they should have at least tried to make them sound like them as well. The only one that is remotely close to sounding similar is Professor Shelly Oberon (Jack Black’s character). Their dialog is bad and repetitive since each character only has 4-5 lines that they repeat regularly.  

The controls are simple but do the job intended. You can shoot your weapon, toss grenades, run, hide behind or hop over cover, and use a melee attack.

Each of the characters has a Special Power/Ability that makes the rather simple combat even easier. Dr. Smoulder Bravestone (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) does a Power Smash aoe attack, Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan) stuns the enemies using a boombox, Franklin Finbar (Kevin Hart) summons a monkey that attacks the enemies, and Professor Shelly Oberon (Jack Black) emits a healing aura that heals himself and allies that are within its radius. 

One interesting game mechanic comes in the form of a mysterious jewel. When your team spawns in one of you will have a jewel. This jewel is used to power an obelisk which is required to advance further in the level. More on that in a moment. The character holding the jewel will deal more damage but if you hold it for too long it will cause damage and automatically move to another character. It can be handed to other characters before this happens to avoid taking the extra damage. You’ll know you’re getting close to the end of your time as the jewel changes colors.

There are 4 different levels and 3 difficulties to choose from. Sadly the online community is already dead. It took hours to find another person to play with online. You can play by yourself with AI teammates or you can play solo in the online variant and hope someone else stumbles upon your lobby. 

It does have a local co-op option but for unknown reasons it splits the screen vertically instead of horizontally. This makes no sense as you can’t jump, let alone climb, and there are no aerial attacks to be wary of. There are collectibles scattered around and some of them are placed in higher locations but that doesn’t seem like enough justification for such an odd choice in screen splitting. 

There are only a few different types of enemies that you will see repeatedly on each of the levels. You will either find ranged enemies who shoot or throw grenades, and another type that will run up and melee attack you. There are also two different types of “heavy” enemies. One with a sledgehammer that deals a lot of damage if he can get to you, and the other has a minigun for ranged combat.  

While replaying the levels over and over again we noticed that the 4 Jumanji game pieces in each of the areas will appear in different locations in the other areas which makes each of your playthroughs a “little” different. 

Poorly timed for a movie tie in. Disappointing and confusing choices in many areas. Dead online and inconvenient local co-op.

Jumanji: The Video Game is available on Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch and Windows.

A Winter’s Daydream

A Winter’s Daydream from Sometimes You and ebi-hime

A text based visual novel story by ebi-hime

The story is told by our narrator, 19 year old Yuu, who is a University student returning home to spend some time with his family over the holiday’s (New Years).

You start out with Yuu returning home and learn about his family relationships, mostly the relationship with his spoiled sister Otoko. As you guessed it Yuu can not stand his sister and how lazy, rude and spoiled she is and she can’t stand Yuu. While back for the holiday Yuu decides to go visit his Grandmother who lives in a distant isolated village. Due to a snow storm Yuu is forced to stay at his Grandmother’s overnight. This is where the story takes a weird change when Yuu wakes up and his Grandmother is young again. 

The music is very relaxing and fits the atmosphere nicely.

They recycle the same backgrounds here or there with a character appearing, disappearing, and reappearing with a different expression or animation. This is common with most visual novels.

The game also has an auto-scroll mode in the options if you just want to just relax and enjoy the story without having to press anything on your controller. 

It is a rather short story and can be completed in a few hours depending on how fast you read/scroll the text.

A visual novel with an interesting story. Auto-play mode is nice if you want to experience it more like a movie than a game.

A Winter’s Daydream is available on Xbox, PS4,Nintendo Switch and PSVita. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.

Niffelheim

Niffelheim from Ellada Games

Norse Mythology 2D side scrolling action survival game. 

You choose one of four different locations/tribes and one of four different classes for your character. Each choice has its own strengths and weaknesses. 

While in the character selection screen you will see all four of the characters classes.
  • The Viking has a bonus resistance to Bleeding and Stun. He does decent damage and has a slow metabolism which causes your satiety to deplete at a slower rate. Once all of your satiety has been depleted you will start to lose health.
  • The Valkyrie has decent defense, low damage output, and a very slow metabolism so your satiety depletes at an even slower rate. 
  • The Berserker does great damage, has bonus resistance to Bleeding and Poison, but has a fast metabolism which will require you to consume more plants to keep your satiety in check.
  • The Shaman is resistance to all damage types, has great defense, but deals the lowest damage of all of the characters, and has the fastest metabolism and will deplete satiety faster than the others.

The starting location does not seem to matter as each location has the same resources you will need to collect as well as the same enemy types to fight. It’s only the appearance of the backgrounds that’s really different.

The premise of the story is that your character died a true and glorious viking death in combat. But instead of the promised reward of ascending to Valhallen, you have instead wrongfully fallen to Niffelheim, the viking version of Hell. Your goal is to make your way out of Niffelheim and ascend to Asgard where you belong.

Once you’ve made your world creation choices (class and tribe/location) you are unable to make any changes to them. Each tribe has a designated starting location so choosing one dictates the other. 

The artstyle is hand drawn and looks greats. The sound track is pleasant too. However, the audio is plagued with technical issues and does not live up to the quality that the art work deserves. While playing we found several issues where the audio cracks, pops, stutters, and cuts out. The beginning cutscene that sets up the whole story is a perfect example of some of the audio issues. These were consistent across every load of the game and across multiple consoles.

The game only allows you to have one game save file per gamertag. This is a little odd, very frustrating, and inconvenient. Having to delete your only save to try another class or clan seems ridiculous and makes you very unlikely to try different things once you’ve started playing the game and grinding to collect items and resources.

You will spend most of your time grinding for and managing resources. You be running around cutting down trees for wood, collecting plants, and killing animals. These resources are needed both to recover your health and for crafting. You’ll also use them for upgrading your castle inside and out. Outside renovations include adding walls, towers with archers, and even a Citadel. On the inside you are able to build a Kitchen, Alchemy Lab, Sawmill, and Forge. 

You’ll also need to keep track of your resources to replace your tools and weapons as they wear out. They have a health bar to let you know when they’re nearing the end of their life. As you upgrade your base, you’ll be able to craft better quality items.

As you explore the map you will find new locations, crypts, mines, dungeons, and a town. The town is in the middle of the map and contains the only merchant. He will let you buy and sell items and potions.

You will come across a few different types of enemies including armored skeletons, wolves, and spiders. Most of the variations in enemies seem to just be a color swap as they are otherwise identical in appearance, take the same amount of damage to kill, and don’t have any differences in their attacks. You’ll also encounter some of the larger almost boss type monsters like Stone Trolls, Giant Wolves, and Giant Spiders while exploring the mines you come across in your explorations.

The combat is very simple. You use one button to attack and one to block. The animations for your attack are based on how far away from the enemy you are. Depending on the distance you might do a sword swing or a kick on the smaller enemies. They do have both ranged and melee combat options but you can only have one equipped at a time. The attack button will attack with whichever weapon is currently equipped. 

Since you are already dead, when you die from starvation or combat you will return as a spirit until you reconnect with your body. While in spirit form you are unable to attack, be attacked, or collect/harvest anything. Death also carries a penalty in the form of a decrease to the cap on your max health. Every death further decreases your max health. This is a semi-permanent penalty as the only way to restore the original cap is by consuming a very expensive potion. 

To recover health you can eat meats, vegetables, or drink potions. Eating the meats and vegetables will also increase your satiety meter. They also provide another interesting way to recover health besides consuming things. Near your camp and in other areas around the map you will see thrones. Sitting on one of these will also cause your health to regenerate for as long as you remain seated.  

One of the more confusing mechanics in the game revolves around the tutorial. There isn’t one. Except there is. Much of the time you’ll just be pressing buttons because they’re on the screen and just sort of figuring out what things do as you see the effect of pressing the indicated button. There is no on screen prompt or dialog to help guide you and introduce mechanics as you encounter them for the first time. We only found the actual in game tutorial when searching for the menu that was hidden in the back.

The game also gives you quests that you can complete for rewards like weapons, gold, or potions. Most of the quests are pretty simple and have basic requirements like collecting a certain amount of eggs or toadstools. You’ll end up completing some of the quests without ever even knowing they were there. Once you find the tutorial, if you browse around there is also a page where your quests are tracked. 

Grindy 2D dungeon crawler-esque game. One part dungeon crawler, one part resource management grind-fest. Great art. Audio issues. No co-op or multiplayer on consoles. Single save file limits options for trying different things.

Niffelheim is available on Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4 and Steam. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.