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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.

2064: Read Only Memories

2064: Read Only Memories from Midboss

A cyberpunk point and click visual novel.

The story is set in Neo San Francisco during the year 2064; just in case you couldn’t guess by the title. You are met by a Relationship Organizational Manager (ROM) named Turing. Your friend Hayden, who is Turing’s creator, has disappeared and Turing is requesting your aide to find him. 

While playing you will meet up with a massively diverse cast that you will need to interact with. These supporting characters have their own personalities that you can discover during the conversations you have with them. Some are one time characters, others are recurring. 

During your conversations with the NPCs you will have several different dialogue options to choose from. The choices you make during these conversations will affect the outcome of the conversations and determine the nature of your characters relationship with them. If you successfully befriend the NPC’s they will be more willing to help you and will provide you with additional dialogue that reveals more about their back story. Some of the back stories and pretty messed up and will pull at your emotions. You cannot choose every possible conversation option. Some of them will end the conversation immediately or lock out other paths of dialogue.

The pacing is a little slow during the first few chapters but starts to speed up towards the later chapters. You will spend a lot of time reading and or listening to the conversations in game. While they do give you the option to mash a button and skip through the dialogue we recommend taking the time to listen to or read the conversations as that is how the story is told to you and the voice over work is very well done. The game also has a good soundtrack that fits nicely.

We noticed a few issues with the dialogue selection. If the dialogue choice you wanted to make was already selected and highlighted it wasn’t always clickable. Another choice needed to be selected before the choice you wanted to make would become clickable.

True to the cyberpunk genre, science and technology are a big part of the story. From Turing being an AI who develops a personality to genetic modifications using animal DNA to find cures for diseases you see the emphasis on futuristic sciences throughout. Sadly the genetic manipulation has repercussions causing the people who undergo it to manifest animal characteristics. The resulting chimera are called “hybrids” and treated badly. Some are even sterilized. There are also “pure humans” which are humans that have not been modified in any way.

And you guessed it, there is a divide between the “hybrids” and “pure humans”. While playing through the story you will need to interact with NPC’s from both sides to get more information to help with your investigation.

There are several locations to visit some are based on real San Francisco landmarks and locations. This was an interesting choice and great to see. 

The pixel art style is nicely done but sadly it doesn’t come close to filling the screen. There is a lot of unused space above as well as on the left and right side. The lower area is used for the dialogue choices so we understand having that space available but it feels there is a lot of wasted space that could’ve been used for .

The game is more of a visual novel then a point and click as you will spend most of your time reading/listening to the game than playing it. Although, like some point and click games it does have some puzzles/mini games which are simple and pretty easy to figure. A few towards the end start to become more challenging.  

This game does not have auto save at all so make sure you remember to save. This is something we forgot to do the first time playing and it necessitated replaying several hours of the game…

The game has multiple endings depending on the choices you make during the conversations with the NPC’s and Turing. Which is another reason to save often and make a secondary save.    

A futuristic cyberpunk graphic novella. Great cast of voice actors. Arcade art style and soundtrack.

2064: Read Only Memories on Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch, PSVita, Steam, iOS and Android. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.

Riverbond

Riverbond from Cococucumber

A simple hack and slash dungeon crawler.

The game has a system called “Rally Points” that will save you time when you respawn as you will respawn at the rally point instead of at the beginning of the level. They are respawn points only and not checkpoints.The game does not save your progress until you fully complete all of the levels in a world. The final level is always a boss fight. The good news is, when you die and respawn the enemies health does not reset and any enemies you already eliminated do not respawn. This is helpful for younger players or people who don’t want to grind kills. 
The controls are pretty simple as you only need a few buttons; press 1 button to attack, hold the same button for a stronger attack, another button to do a special attack, a third button to interact with items, and the fourth to jump, and one more to roll around the levels.
The soundtrack is clean and simple which fits the colorful voxel based art style.
It has 8 different worlds that you play through, each with its own look and feel, challenges, and enemies. Each of the worlds has 4 or 5 levels. 
You can recover health by picking up red potions that are dropped by killing enemies, destroying the environment (boxes, trees, and so on), or unwrapping presents.
While playing you will find chests that give you weapons and skins for your character. The weapons are an interesting variety from swords to lollipop’s to bear claws and rainbow umbrellas. The weapon classes are swords, spears, clubs, slap weapons, dual wield, and guns. 
When starting a new world you start with a sword and a gun. The weapons you unlocked from the previous worlds do not carry over. Every new world resets you to basic equipment. 
There are a lot of character skins in the game in the shape of food or animals. They even have some skins from other games like Bastion, Guacamelee, Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime, and Enter the Gungeon just to name a few.
The little amount of story is uncovered by speaking with characters around the levels.
Sadly, the game is pretty short and can be completed in under 5 hours. It is couch only co-op and has little to no replayability.

A 3D voxel hack and slash dungeon crawler. Has convenient respawn system, simple controls, tons of skins, lots of crazy weapons, couch only co-op, and very little “story”.

Riverbond is available on Xbox, PS4 and Steam

OVIVO

OVIVO From IzHard

A simple momentum and gravity based platformer that mixes art and gameplay. 

You play as OVO, a color changing ball with an antenna. Your objective is to reach a spot in the middle of the map. To do this you make your way around the level by moving between colors, using momentum, sliding down slopes, altering gravity, avoiding spikes, or falling off a cliff. After reaching the objective the screen zooms out to display the full map revealing the piece of art that it is.
The gameplay and controls are very simple as the game only has 2 colors in it (Black and White) and uses 1 thumb stick and a single button to switch colors and move between the Black and White areas.
The music is simple, clean, and relaxing which keeps you calm during the later more challenging stages. 
Most of the levels are pretty simple and have more than one route to get to the end. It makes traveling around the levels easy and fun during the earlier levels. The levels start becoming more complicated and challenging when new mechanics and obstacles are introduced. Some of the new additions are moving platforms, floating flowers, and color changing spheres. There’s a small learning curve at the start and it returns with a significant difficulty spike on the later stages. It is not always clear what to do or where you need to go and there are many chances to die by falling off objects into spikes or sharp edges. The check point system is pretty good which only has you backtracking for a few seconds which helps to offset the difficulty spike by minimizing the penalty for sudden deaths.
Sadly the game has no story; no spoken or written words at all. It is more of a short experience as it can be completed in about 3 hours.  

A simple black and white momentum and gravity based platformer that mixes art and gameplay with a relaxing soundtrack.

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