Mask of Mists from Publishers Sometimes You, Stately Snailand Developer 9 Eyes Game Studio
Minimal combat challenges, some relatively easy puzzles, not a lot of story. Enjoyable but short game.
First-person Adventure Puzzler
You are a mercenary who has been sent to locate a missing person, the Archmage. This is where the story starts and stays until the end of the game. There is very little story development in the middle of the game. The majority of it is revealed by finding and reading things found through exploration. You will need to find clues, collect items, loot chests, find stone masks, solve puzzles, and explore the colorful magical world all in search of the Archmage.
The combat is pretty simple and can be rather repetitive. You only have a single sword and pistol for your melee and ranged attacks. There are only 3 different types of enemies in the game and a single boss fight. With so little variety in your enemies it is easy to figure out how to avoid their attacks. Given that the game is set in such a magical world we would have loved to see the option to use magic in one way or another.
There is a crafting mechanic for potions. Before you can craft the potions you will need to locate recipes and the ingredients for them. Some of these are hidden in chests while others are out on a table waiting to be picked up. They did a good job making sure you never felt like you needed to hunt down the items. You could just pick them up while on your way to the next location and there were extra in case you missed a few.
The artstyle is a pleasant Disney-esque fantasy cartoon-scape. They did a great job capturing the look and feel of the indoor, outdoor, and underground areas with changes in lighting and color.
One of the nice touches they added was the Navigation Crystal mechanic. These allow you to leave a ruin after reaching the end of it without having to make your way all the way back through the level. Activating these is also a requirement for moving the story forward and unlocking the final area.
Most of the puzzles are easy to solve. They can often be solved with minimal trial and error. However, the game also provides an answer key nearby, sometimes in the next room. There are a few puzzles that require platforming. These can be a little difficult due to the inherent challenges of platforming from a first person perspective.
All in all, the game can be completed in just a few hours and was an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon.
Mask of Mists is available on Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch and Steam. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
Party Panic from Publisher and Developer Everglow Interactive Inc.
A party game probably most enjoyable when using the “drinking game” mode. Lots of mini-games, some with challenging physics.
A very colorful group of Mini Games (Party Game)
There are over 30 minigames to play, enjoy, or get frustrated with. It has online or local split screen co-op both with the option to add bots which is always nice to see in a party game.
There are multiple options for customizing your character to make it fit your personality. You can change the color and add a little bit of flair with various hats, glasses, capes, and some other items. As you complete the different game types you get to win loot boxes. These can be opened from the main lobby and each will give you the choice between two clothing items. We really liked having the option to pick which of the items we wanted.
There are a few games modes to pick from and play. The two “Party” game types have the option of turning them into a drinking game.
Minigame Party – Which randomly cycles through the list of minigames.
Custom Party – Same as Minigame Party but you can remove games from the list of possible games to play or to practice. We liked having the option of removing the games that we didn’t like or had played too frequently.
Gauntlet – Make your way through a procedurally generated obstacle course. This keeps the gauntlet interesting as you never know what obstacles you might run into. They also let you choose how many obstacles to add so you can make the course longer or shorter.
Board Game – This is a “Mario Party” type board game with two different boards to choose from. You will need to roll a dice and move around the board. After everyone completes their moves it loads into a random minigame. They made the choice of having you manually move your character around the board. This lets you explore the board and figure out where your character will stop or which path you will choose to take. You can also choose to punch or kick your opponents when you’re passing them. We would have liked to see the option to have the character move by themselves to help expedite the game play.
Trophy Island – You get to free roam and explore Gooberland trying to locate and collect trophies. There are some areas that are blocked off initially and get unlocked by exploring and interacting with the environment. While in Gooberland you will have to complete challenges in order to collect some of the trophies. Some of the challenges are enjoyable while others are very challenging due to issues with the game mechanics/physics. These issues stand out the most while driving the car and during some of the precise platforming.
We ran into an issue where our character did not spawn into a minigame forcing us to sit out on that game. While playing the Board Game mode we noticed that it picks the games in a truly random way. Some games appeared more often in the rotation than others so that we had played the same mini-games a few times before seeing new ones. We also had issues with the camera clipping through walls while exploring Trophy Island.
The art style is a little cartoonish with the characters having very long arms and large heads. While playing you will notice the characters making random weird facial expressions to other characters or just at random times. These can be rather amusing.
Party Panic is available on Xbox One, PS4 and Steam. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
Liquid Sunshine from Publisher and Developer God As A Cucumber
Fun puzzles. Great story and soundtrack. You might want to wear sunglasses because it’s really bright.
A Graphic Novel and Puzzle game in 1 package
It is a side scroller puzzle with 3 characters that you control; a Monkey, a Horse, and a Rhino. Each character has its own mechanics, strengths, and weaknesses that you will discover throughout the game. Some of the puzzles you will come across require the use of 1, 2, or all 3 of the characters to find the solution. All 3 of the characters need to make it to the right side of the screen before proceeding to the next puzzle or chapter.
Like most puzzle games, it starts out pretty easy with basic puzzles teaching you the mechanics which it does nicely. The real challenge comes in the later puzzles, which require more and more steps to complete, making you move characters back and forth over the screen and replacing one character location for another when finding out that you need that for a later part of the puzzle.
The story is told to you in the form of a graphic novel between levels. You start to learn and understand the relationship between the characters all while enjoying the Graphic Novel. This was an interesting choice and done very well. The Graphic Novel really earns the graphic part of its name as it has mature themes including violence, drug use, and crime. The visuals are great and are done in a black and white minimalistic design. They are able to get a surprising amount of detail only using black and white images both in the novel and with the level design. We experienced some eye fatigue caused by staring at the screen with the bright white areas contrasting with the black areas. There’s just so much stark white on the screen it’s like staring at a very bright bulb.
There are hidden diamonds on each of the levels for you to locate. Sadly there’s not much to do after completing the rather short game which can be completed in 1-2 hours depending on skill. Locating missed diamonds or rereading the graphic novel between the levels are the only reasons to replay the levels. We would have loved to see an option to read the graphic novel on its own without having to recomplete the levels.
There is no voice over work in the game at all, just a really good soundtrack (almost retro feel) and sound effects. The game does a really good job between the soundtrack and effects you almost forget and don’t notice that there was not a single word spoken.
Overall its an enjoyable puzzler, with a good soundtrack and interesting choice of artstyle.
Liquid Sunshine is available on Xbox One and Steam. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
The Great Perhaps from Publisher Drageus Games and Developer Caligari Games
Unexpectedly good story for a cool puzzles game.
2D Side Scroller Time Travel Puzzler
You play as an astronaut named Kosmos. While working on a space station something happens; the Earth as you know it is destroyed by natural cataclysms. You choose to go into cryo sleep hoping to be woken up once it is safe to return home. After 36,524 days (otherwise known as 100 years), you are finally woken up to find out there is no communication with Earth and you have no idea what happened. You decide to make your way back to earth to discover what happened and what is left.
You travel back to earth with L9, an AI that accompanies you on your journey trying to discover what happened to the earth. While back on earth L9 is able to find one human signature left on the planet. While trying to locate the one human left on the planet you find an old lantern that allows you to travel between the current timeline and the past from before the cataclysms. This is the main mechanic for the game.
You will come across puzzles and mini-games that will require you to get items that are only accessible in one or the other timelines. Your AI companion will give you hints if you get lost or are having issues finding the solution to the puzzles. It’s easy to spot the items you can interact with as they have an effect that makes them glimmer. At first you might be a little unsure what to do with the item but after a few minutes of doing the wrong thing with it L9 will step in with a hint. Each of the timelines has enemies and objects you will need to avoid. This is often accomplished by switching between them.
The alternate timelines game mechanic is done very well and is enjoyable. This is used throughout the game for everything including solving puzzles, bypassing obstacles, storytelling, and progression.
The artstyle is hand drawn which is great to see and is done nicely. It reminded us of Valiant Hearts. The soundtrack is great and is a little different depending on which timeline you are in. They did a good job making the music fit the state of the world in the different timelines.
The story is good and takes you to several places in Russia. You get to interact with a few other characters in the past and have real conversations with them. You start to see the relationship develop between Kosmos and L9 throughout the later parts of the story. L9 becomes more than just an AI, she starts to become a real character.
The game does a good job at making you empathetic toward the characters. Both the writing and voice acting are great and make the conversations and people feel real.
Sadly it is rather short and can be completed in around 2 hours. After completing the story there is very little reason to replay the game.
The Great Perhaps is available on Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and Steam. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
Superliminal from Publisher and Developer Pillow Castle Games
Overall an enjoyable 3D puzzle experience. Fun narration and mechanics. Reminiscent of portal but definitely a different take on the 3D puzzle genre.
A puzzle game that uses perception to find the solution.
Superliminal is a first person puzzler. You’ll be interacting with and manipulating objects using perspective to solve puzzles, overcome obstacles, and work your way through the stages to get to the exit. The game has a few similarities to the first portal game and likely drew some inspiration from there.
The game does a good job teaching you the basics and giving you ideas of what is possible to do during the introductory stages. The key mechanic centers around relative perspective with objects. There are a lot of optical illusions throughout the stages. Some of these are related to how to solve the puzzles and some are just there to add to the perception bending experience. This mechanic is used very well and can be fun to play around with seeing what you can interact with and how changing the perception or viewing angle alters reality.
There are a number of hidden collectibles across the 9 levels. Fortunately, the level select menu tells you which types you’re missing some of. Unfortunately, it doesn’t tell you how many of each are on each level or how many you’re still missing. Finding all of the collectibles and secret areas are the only thing that really provides much in the way of replayability since the puzzles and solutions are always the same.
The game has a really great lofi soundtrack which helps keep you relaxed when you get stuck on the more complicated puzzles. They’ve also done a great job with the sound effects produced by the different items. Smaller versions of items make quieter higher pitched sounds while larger versions of items make louder lower pitched sounds.
Most of the puzzles can be figured out within a few minutes depending on player skill though executing the solution can be a little tougher at times. There are a few puzzles that ramp up the challenge/difficulty and can take a long time to figure out the solution. There are also secret areas and what seem to be red herrings to distract you from the finish line.
We did run into a few small issues with items glitching or clipping through other objects. We also saw some of these items disappear and then respawn in their original locations. The perspective in the hallways and some of the rooms can also feel a little trippy. One of our reviewers found that their eyes tired quickly playing the game and they needed to take breaks to rest their eyes.
Superliminal is available on Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch and Steam. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
Clash Force from Publisher Ratalaika Games and Developer Spicy Gyro Games
Feels like a mix of Megaman and Contra on the NES.
A side scroller platformer
Clash force is a fairly standard side scrolling platform. There are 3 different members of the Clash Force that you can play as, the only difference between them is cosmetic. The game has 3 difficulty levels; Normal, Hard and Expert. Hard appears to have more enemies while Expert has the same amount of enemies as Hard but you have 1 less health bar and the option to recover health has been removed.
As in any standard platformer you’ll progress to the right and shoot the enemies that appear on screen, most enemies only take 1 or 2 shots. While playing you will come across items to change your weapon, find hearts to heal your health, and a shield item that looks like a crest with an S in the middle that protects you from one hit before breaking. Fortunately, you have unlimited lives which can be helpful during the difficult areas of the levels or for less skilled gamers.
Your life bar has 3 hearts. Unlike most games, getting hit doesn’t just take away some health. You’ll lose any upgraded weapon you picked up as well as 1 heart. Luckily hearts and weapons upgrade items spawn a few times per level so you can restore what you lost. To avoid taking damage when the enemies shoot at you you will need to time your jumps since there is no way to duck or block the attacks.
The game and levels are pretty short as the levels can be completed within 2-3 minutes or less and the game can be completed in under 1 hour. There are 3 levels in each area before a boss fight. There are a total of 21 levels in the game. The boss fights remind us a lot of Megaman vs Dr. Wily fighting someone in a robot. Each of the bosses have a pattern of attacks that are easy to figure out and which is good since you’ll have to figure out the pattern in order to beat the boss.
After completing each level you are rewarded with a bonus area and a chance to pick your weapon upgrade or get a shield. If you are happy with what you have you can run through without picking up anything. This was nice to see as it gave us the option to leave without having to risk losing our weapon of choice.
The levels start becoming a little more challenging with new types of enemies. The platforming becomes harder too with the addition of moving platforms.
There are 5 different weapon items that you come across and you will be able to find your favorite after a few minutes. One weapon in particular really reminded us of the Spread shot from Contra which was our favorite weapon.
The game has the same background music on each level as well as the same sound effect for shooting no matter which weapon you are using. Since you will spend most of your time holding the shoot button you will get tired of the sound effect.
Clash Force is available on Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch and Steam. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.