Sweet Witches from Publisher Drageus Games and Developer LumenSection
A challenging platformer that is a little repetitive with a cutesy cartoony art style
You play as a witch. Your objective is to plant flowers on all of the designated plots while avoiding enemies. To plant the flowers you’ll need to walk or run over the plots scattered all over the levels. There are enemies that will get in your way and try to stop you from completing your task. Bunnies are the only enemy that will eat the flowers you plant making you replant the flowers. You will need to climb ladders to get to the different platforms and reach all of the plots. The enemies can climb the ladders too and as you progress through the game you’ll encounter some enemies that can move between the platforms without using a ladder.
But, never fear, you can fight back! Some of the enemies you will be able to defeat with your magic hat, but others can only be defeated by using an item. On these bigger baddies your hat will only stun them. These items come from magic boxes that look like presents. You can only open one present at a time so you’ll have to use that item before you can pick up another one. Eventually, enemies won’t be the only danger you have to contend with in your quest to beautify the world with flower gardens. They also introduce environmental hazards that must be dodged while still dealing with the other enemies.
There are 50+ levels and 5 unique world’s to make your way through. There is also a bonus level at the end of each of the worlds that gives you a chance to regain some lost lives/hearts.
There are 3 game modes in the Campaign; Arcade, Adventure and Custom. Arcade mode is the hardest by far. You start with only 5 lives and no continues. Adventure is the recommended mode for new players since it lets you continue when you lose all of your lives. Custom lets you change the speed of the enemies, add more starting lives, and turn on or off Friendly Fire. When starting the campaign you are able to pick one of two different good witches. Each has unique hat attacks and special spells.
After completing the campaign you are able to replay it with your choice of two bad witches. It’s not just a simple skin change, they have their own attacks and spells and instead of planting flowers, you’re pulling them out. Some of the enemies will be different (most notably, the bunnies that eat flowers are replaced by baby chickens that plant them) while others stay the same.
On some of the levels it can be difficult to see where you need to plant the flowers as the block representing the plot looks similar to the platforms (the platforms themselves often have multiple different kinds of blocks for decoration). This can result in having to search for the missing plot to plant the last flower. The second version of the campaign is a lot easier in this respect since the flowers are much more obvious than a simple change in block color. We found a more methodical approach to completing the levels was helpful for avoiding a lot of repeat and searching. Killing all of the bunnies or chicks straight away is also a must.
The challenge increases the further you progress with the addition of new enemies that move faster, have ranged attacks, or can change platforms without using a ladder. They also add some new level mechanics like mud slides that slow you down, ice blocks that speed you up and can cause you to slide right into enemies, and darkness that lowers visibility and field of view.
The only co-op option available at the time of this review is couch co-op. We would have loved an online option for both co-op and versus mode. In Versus Mode you can play against each other with up to 4 players. Unfortunately, since this game is couch co-op only, this mode won’t be available unless you actually have a 2nd player. There are two game types in Versus mode (Timed and Deathmatch). There are a few options to turn on or off the enemies.
It’s worth noting that there is a game breaking glitch that also happens to be tied to an achievement. If you try to use your special magic spell and attack the Momma/Queen cat that is spawning kittens your game will freeze and crash causing you to lose your progress and have to start the world over again.
Overall the game is fun and they did a good job with the pacing of new enemies and mechanics to steadily increase the difficulty but some may still find it repetitive as you are still doing the same thing over and over again.
Sweet Witches 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.
Neighbours back From Hell from Publisher HandyGames and Developer THQ Nordic
A little like Home Alone meets Punk’d in claymation style cartoon graphics. Overall it’s enjoyable but can become repetitive.
The opening starts out with your horrible neighbours making your life a living hell and when they finally go too far, it’s time for payback. You play as Woody, the star of a prank show aimed at pranking your Neighbour. You break and enter into your neighbours house and go through their stuff to locate items to use or combine to prank and torture him.
Each episode will have a minimum number of pranks that must be successfully completed in order to finish the level. There is also a maximum number of pranks possible in each episode so you can choose which ones to do to meet the minimum requirement or the extra mischievous player can complete them all. The pranks are tracked at the top of the screen. There’s a slot for each completed prank and a checkered flag over the minimum requirement to finish the episode. The slots are filled with a gold medal when your neighbor discovers each prank.
All of the items you will need to execute your dastardly deeds are located somewhere in the house. You’ll need to explore and search different objects to find items to use and discover what you can potentially interact with to use the items on.
Some of our favorite pranks were putting a fake shark fin on a remote control submarine and having it scare the hell out of him, replacing a ping pong ball with an egg so he hits the egg into his wifes face making her beat him up for it, and adding miracle grow to a watering can making the plant grow and bite him.
There are several episodes to play through. In the beginning you’ll only be able to access two floors in his house. As the season progresses this expands to four floors. The additional floors add to the level of difficulty as you will sometimes need to pick up items located on the top floor and bring them to the basement to lay the trap all while trying to avoid the neighbor. If he finds you he attacks you and beats you up and then you reset but you don’t lose your previous progress. If he finds you three times, he beats you to death and you’ll have to replay the episode from the beginning.
As you progress through the seasons the locale will change from his house to various locations as he travels on vacation. Talk about holding a grudge, you’re stalking this guy around the world as he travels on vacation with his family just to get back at him for being an asshole neighbor and score some ratings for your prank show.
Some items will have a “mini-game” that you have to successfully complete in order to interact with them. If you fail the mini-game it alerts your neighbor and he’ll come investigate. If he catches you he’ll beat you up so you need to run away fast or hide in one of the hiding spots provided on the map to avoid getting caught. If you manage to avoid getting caught, you can pay attention to his alert meter to know when he’s given up the chase and returned to his normal routine making it safe to come out again.
Some levels require a little more stealth than others. They’ve provided a stealth mechanic that you will need in order to avoid waking sleeping animals or family members. It’s easy to use and only requires you to hold a button to tiptoe around the room. If you wake an animal it will alert the neighbor just like failing a mini-game but waking a person will result in you getting an ass whooping from the sleeper.
The artstyle is a fun cartoony look that reminds us of claymation a la “Wallace and Grommet”. They do a good job clearly showing which objects are interactable and what you can do with them through the on screen graphics.
All in all the game is enjoyable. They do a good job introducing complexity and challenge with the larger maps and different locales but the basic objectives remain pretty much the same so it still tends toward repetition.
Neighbours back From Hell 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.
She Sees Red from Publisher and Developer Rhinotales
A “choose your own adventure” style movie/game. Good production value and an interesting story. Parental warning for graphic violence and brief partial female nudity.
An Interactive FMV Movie
It all starts out in the back room of a nightclub. Someone has killed several people at the club and that is where the story begins. A detective is on the scene, following the clues and uncovering the story.
It’s more of a choose your own adventure movie than a game. Periodically, you will be provided with 2 options that will appear on the screen. There is a time limit to make your choice. If you don’t pick something, the game will automatically choose an option for you. Once you select your choice the next scene begins and you get to find out what happens. This is done well as it can be completed with just a simple move of the d-pad or left stick to highlight your choice (on PC it would be a mouse click on the respective button).
Moving to the next scene is done well with no loading time in between. This helps make it feel more like watching a movie. There is a lot of action, graphic violence, and strong language (swearing). All of which fits the narrative and story they created. Depending on the choices you make, you may also see a scene with brief partial female nudity. The nudity seemed unnecessary to the scene and didn’t really add anything.
There are four possible endings that you can get depending on the choices you make. “Every choice matters” is the game’s mantra. The 4 different endings add to the replayability of the game as does the scene counter that lets you know how many of the available scenes you’ve seen. They added the option to “skip scene” after your second playthrough if you have already experienced it.This lets you get to the choices a lot faster so you can make a different choice and possibly get a different ending. We really appreciated the option to skip a scene so we didn’t have to rewatch the same material over and over again and could get to the new alternate scenes faster.
The game/movie is a little on the short side with a single playthrough/viewing only taking around 30-40 minutes depending on your choices; less if you choose to skip scenes.
The film production is well done with professional actors, editing, lighting, and sound design. It has an indie film look. We noticed the dubbed voice sync felt off in a few places but overall it was pretty good. The game is both dubbed and subbed and you have the option to change the audio track back to the original Russian with english subtitles. The original Russian audio seemed to fit better than the English VO but this may be subject to personal preferences.
They also added a Galley where you can view the behind the scenes of the movie that was filmed. Overall, the quality of the FMV is good and the story was interesting enough to make us want to find all of the scenes and endings.
She Sees Red is available on Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch, Steam, Andriod and Apple. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
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.