Duck Souls+ from Publisher Ratalaika Games and Developer Green Dinosaur Games
Enjoyable platformer. Hard mode is not for the faint of heart or impatient. Novices should definitely stick to casual.
A fast-paced platformer
You play as a yellow duck who has been sent by a group of ghost ducks (the Duck Souls) to find the duck eggs and keep them safe. Each level has one egg and is contained on a single screen. You’ll need to navigate from one side of the screen to the other to collect the duck egg. That’s all the narrative or story that’s present in the game.
You can jump off of the walls and dash to get to the higher areas on the levels. You can also use dash to jump over spikes, avoid other hazards, and break through walls.
There are 100 levels in the game. Some of the levels are very simple and can be completed in 1 life while others are more challenging and are likely to require multiple attempts. The game has a great respawn system which puts you back in control the second after you die. It also has a death counter that you can see both when you die and once you complete the level.
While playing through the 100 levels you will come across new challenges, themes, and mechanics. We enjoyed the variety provided by these. They kept the game fresh and enjoyable so it didn’t feel overly repetitive.
You are able to customize the look of your duck by changing the hat your character is wearing. You will unlock and collect hats while completing the levels. The hats are only cosmetic and provide no alteration to your character’s abilities. It would have been nice if the hats actually did something other than just change the look of the character. Some players will really enjoy the customization options these provide while others will find them pointless.
You are able to pick between 2 different modes. Casual mode has checkpoints placed throughout the levels while Hard has no checkpoints so if you die you have to start that level over from the beginning.
The controls are easy to pick up and play as you can use the thumbstick or D-pad to navigate with depending on what is most comfortable for you or provides you with the best control. You can also aim your dash by using the same thumbstick or d-pad you use to move. Being able to aim dash is a requirement for successfully completing some of the more difficult levels. This was an interesting variation to the dash feature typically seen in platformers.
The pixel artstyle is colorful in the early stages. The themes in the game become darker in the later levels as you go deeper into the ground to recover the eggs. These changes in the theme from level to level correlated directly with the increasing difficulty. The early easy ones were bright and colorful and as the levels became more and more challenging the colors became darker and darker. It was fitting of both the narrative of being further underground and the intensity felt by the concentration required to complete the harder levels.
The audio is enjoyable. They have a relaxing soundtrack that helps keep you calm with simple sound effects for your movements.
Each of the levels have their own interesting names based on video games and movies. Some are easy to get the reference while others are a little more obscure. A little Googling will help if you don’t quite get the reference. You might find something really cool.
The game is single player only with no leaderboards. Once you complete all 100 levels and unlock all of the hats there isn’t a reason to go back and replay the levels unless you want the challenge of Hard mode.
Duck Souls + is available on Xbox One, PS4, PSVita and Nintendo Switch. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
Red Death from Publisher Eastasiasoft and Developer Panda Indie Studio
Classic retro feeling shmup.
A Retro shoot’em up
You are the pilot of a small ship called Red 001 who is protecting the earth from invading aliens and an Egyptian god.
The game mostly follows the classic old school shoot ’em up formula. It has minimal story, getting hit once results in insta-death, and the game employs basic control mechanics for movement and action.
While playing you will be controlling your ship the whole time shooting enemies and flying through obstacles. Killing enemies will drop extra lives, weapons, and stars to power the overload meter. Once the overload meter is full you are able to use a special attack which does a massive amount of damage and will kill any of the bosses within seconds. It is a little OP but is needed to defeat the later bosses. Keep in mind if you get hit you lose everything. Not only do you lose a life, your weapon reverts to the starting weapons, and the overload meter starts over.
The game has an interesting choice for artstyle and display. It has a 4-tone color palette with pixel art graphics and splits the screen into 3 equal parts. On the left side you see your character and your score. The middle area displays the vertically-scrolling gameplay and the right side shows your remaining lives and the Overload meter. We feel that the choice for screen real estate would have been better if the gameplay area were larger and the other 2 sides were half their current size.
The gameplay can become challenging fast. The enemies will spawn in the same locations each time which helps you to learn the patterns and destroy the enemies shortly after they spawn on screen. The really challenging part comes from the sheer number of projectiles you have to avoid while trying to find a path that lets you actually hit the enemy. There is no “continue” option so once you run out of lives it’s game over and you have to start over. During the later levels you really get punished when you die as losing your weapons and overload meter might end your run. Without a full overload meter it’s near impossible to beat the bosses.
The game is pretty short with only 4 levels but will take a lot of patience, skill and luck to complete. Once you complete the game you are able to unlock the Arcade Mode which has randomized challenges.
Red Death is available on Xbox One, PS4 and Nintendo Switch. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
Super Destronaut: Land Wars from Publisher Ratalaika Games and Developer Petite Games
Repetitive but enjoyable retro FPS
A Neon First Person Shooter
The game is a First Person Shooter where you shoot enemies and pick up the coins they drop to buy upgrades for weapons and health. It has two game types: challenge, and arcade mode.
Challenge Mode has 30 stages to play and provides you with a specific challenge you need to complete before receiving your Gold, Silver, or Bronze rating. The ratings are based on how quickly you complete the challenge but there’s nothing to indicate what the requirements are for each rating until you complete the stage and see what your time was.
The first 15 levels or so, we didn’t find the challenges to be particularly challenging. Most of these stages were able to be completed in under 1-2 minutes. At times, the most challenging part is just finding the enemies.
Arcade Mode has 5 game types
Classic Mode – Normal Classic mode
Hardcore Mode – More Enemies with more HP
Combo Breaker – You need to keep a combo going if it runs out its game over.
Maximum Strength – You start out using a Rocket Launcher.
Snail Mode – You move slowly and can’t jump.
We enjoyed classic mode and maximum strength mode the most.
The artstyle is a neon voxel and has a retro mid 80’s feel. Enemies look like they could’ve been taken right out of arcade classics like Space Invaders or Centipede. The level design and sound effects fit the game’s aesthetic and are in keeping with that retro feel. They chose dubstep for the music. While this is not exactly in keeping with 80’s retro it still feels like a good fit for the gameplay. While the controls are very simple they work nicely and are pretty responsive.
Sadly, there is only one map that is used for every stage both in challenge mode and in arcade mode. After about 15 minutes you’ll figure out the fastest way to make it around the map and where to take cover during combat. While this does help make the challenges a little easier since you’re familiar with the terrain, it also makes it more boring.
There is no story or narrative and the challenge mode (30 Stages) can be completed in under 1 hour. With no online leaderboards, once you complete the challenges you are unlikely to replay them unless you want to try to get a higher rating for personal reasons. The arcade modes were more enjoyable as the stages last until you die (or lose your combo in Combo Breaker). That at least kept things going longer than a couple of minutes.
Super Destronaut: Land Wars is available on Xbox One, PS4, PSVita and Nintendo Switch. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
Hidden Through Time from Publisher and Developer Crazy Monkey Studios
A modern animated Where’s Waldo enjoyable for all ages. Wonderful relaxing music and animations that are both cute and entertaining.
A point and click where’s Waldo-esk animated hidden items game.
The game presents you with maps full of interactive objects and a list of items to find that are hidden on the screen. Each item on the list has a hint to help you locate it. Once you click the item it will put a temporary circle around it marking it as found and check it off of your list by changing the background color of the item from white to a nice bright green.
While playing the story mode you will travel through time from the Stone Age, to Ancient Egypt, through the Middle ages, and onto the American Old West. Each of the maps has its own look and feel and pretty much everything on the map interacts when you click on it. You’ll start out looking for just a few items on a smallish map. As you progress from stage to stage it starts to get a little more challenging as they add more items, hide them a little better, and make the maps larger. Depending on how you handle the challenge or frustration of searching for small well hidden items on a large map, this will either be tons of fun or irritating.
The graphics are delightfully stick figure cartoonish. It fits the game nicely and really nails the nostalgic feel of the Where’s Waldo books. They also have really gentle, relaxing, and peaceful music. We felt like we could happily spend hours exploring the maps and interacting with the different pieces presented while listening to the sound track and hunting down every last elusive little item.
There are a total of 26 maps in the story mode. They’ve also added a Map Editor mode where users can make their own maps and share them with everyone else. In this mode you have tons of options and can choose from everything in the game to populate your maps; structures, props, characters, animals, and the environmental elements (plants, trees, and rocks). Once you’re happy with your map you can play it locally or upload it for others to play online.
That leads right to the Online mode which lets you play maps created by other users and give them feedback in the form of Thumbs Up or Down. Some of the user made maps are very easy with only a few items placed and others are more elaborate where you can tell the creator spent some time to make a really enjoyable map or tell a little story.
We was surprised by the amount of options you have for searching the online maps. You can search based on like percentage, most played, most cleared, clear percentage, most recent and oldest. You can also favorite maps to find them again quickly if you want to come back to them.
The thing we loved the most about Where’s Waldo wasn’t finding Waldo. It was discovering all of the other little stories and activities that were happening on the page. This game captures that spirit perfectly. Every map had such interesting things happening and captured a little slice of the world with so many things to discover.
Hidden Through Time is available 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.
Vasilis from Publisher Sometimes You and Developer Marginal Act
Kind of a weird story. If you’re looking for a slow paced game this is probably right up your alley. If you’re not a fan of walking simulators it may not be a good fit.
Hand drawn in black and white side scrolling adventure.
The story is based on political events in Ukraine during 2014. You play an elderly lady named Vasilis who is trying to locate her husband. While searching for him you’ll have to make your way through the troubled city. There are riots happening throughout the city as it starts to burn.
You have several locations to visit while exploring the town. The locations start to become weirder the further into the story you progress.
You’ll pick up items around the town to trade with the townspeople for other items necessary to continue the story and access new areas. There were a few times during the earlier “days” where we were unsure what to trade to whom in order to progress. We traded every item we had until finally finding the right thing. This was only confusing during the earlier parts of the game as it became clearer what you needed to trade with whom during the later days.
Most of the actual game play is walking back and forth around the town locating items to trade and going from location to location. It starts to feel like a walking simulator.
The controls are pretty simple but a little loose. We found the in game map to be pretty useless since you will be going to the same locations over and over again. You will also pick up a to-do list which will help you figure out what to do and where to go.
There were a few times we got stuck on invisible walls which became a little frustrating. Moving Vasilis around with the thumbstick seemed loose and it was very easy to drift up or down while trying to walk a straight line. We had better results using the D-pad to ensure there was no vertical drift when trying to walk horizontally across the screen.
The artstyle is hand drawn in black and white. Most of the animations are very simple with only a few frames that repeat over and over again.
The audio is very minimalistic. There’s not so much a “soundtrack” as there is different background or ambient noises for different locations. There’s no voice acting either. Just a “scratching” sound to represent speech while dialog boxes are on the screen.
The game is a little short and can be completed in just a few hours depending on how familiar you become with the best paths to traverse the town. After about an hour of walking back and forth you’ll wish there was the option to allow Vasilis to run.
Vasilis is available on Xbox One, PS4, PSP and Nintendo Switch. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
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.