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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.

Super Jumpy Ball

Super Jumpy Ball from CasualGames.nu

A Simple 2D Platform Game

You play as a Ball and have to make it from one end of the level to a flag at the other end. The entire level fits on your screen at one time making it pretty easy to plan your routes. Each level has a single star that you can opt to collect on your way to the flag. In the early levels collecting them doesn’t present much of a challenge. This changes as you progress through the game and getting the star becomes the primary source of difficulty as simply getting to the flag without taking damage isn’t that hard on most of the levels.

There are a few different types of obstacles used on the levels; spikes, spike balls that get shot at you, and saw blades. The saw blades are either on a track that move up and down, left and right, or are on arms that rotate around a platform you need to use. They’re very reminiscent of a certain old platformer with a plumber, except the graphics here aren’t as good. You’ll need to avoid these obstacles as you make your way around the screen to collect the star and then get to the flag. A single hit from one of the obstacles will kill you.

There are 40 Levels and 5 Game modes to pick from. 
Basketball – Where you jump off walls to rebound into the hoop.
Endless Survivor – You need to climb the platforms to escape the rising spike floor.
Spike Battle – A local Multiplayer game where you have to jump on top of the other players and pop their ball with the spike attached to your bottom. 
Endless Running – A standard endless running mode where you avoid obstacles and can collect flags to extend your time.
And the normal “campaign” levels 

The graphics are very Flash circa 1995 and the audio is repetitive as there are only a total of 2 songs in the game; one for the menu and another one for the levels. 

The game describes itself as a puzzle platformer but sadly we couldn’t find any puzzles in it. We would say it’s more of a platformer/obstacle course. 

It is rather short as you could playthru all 40 levels in about 15-20 minutes. It has local multiplayer modes only but does have global leaderboards which is nice. However, for some reason, only a few of the game types have leaderboards. 

A puzzle-less puzzle platformer. Good for young gamers or when you want to just play something a little mindless.

Super Jumpy Ball is available on Xbox,Nintendo Switch and Windows. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.

The Church In The Darkness

The Church In The Darkness from Fellow Traveller 

A top down stealth game about infiltrating a cult’s compound to rescue someone.

In the late 1970’s your nephew has joined a religious cult and moved with them to the South American jungle to become a part of Freedom Town. Your sister, Stella, asks you to infiltrate the cult’s compound to find, convince, and escape with your nephew Alex.
While walking around the compound you meet both friendly and hostile NPC’s. The hostile NPC’s will chase after you and shoot at you, while the friendly NPC’s will provide you with objectives or challenges as well as information on where your nephew Alex is through conversations. The friendly NPC’s can be identified by the green circle around them and the speech button prompt when you approach them. 

You can fight the NPC’s by shooting them at a distance if you prefer lethal ranged combat or you can sneak up behind them and choose a lethal (kill) or non-lethal (subdue) takedown. When choosing the non-lethal takedown the NPC will wake up about 10 seconds later and start trying to hunt you down. If you choose this option, make sure you clear the area quickly or find a hiding spot. If you are able to locate Chloroform it can be used with the non-lethal takedown to extend the amount of time the NPC will stay unconscious. 

You can search desks, closets, cupboards, and dead or knocked out bodies for weapons, ammo, food, and medical supplies. While searching the desks around the town you find letters to and from the NPC’s. 

Limited customization’s allow you to choose your character’s sex and race as well as the difficulty level.  

The graphics are basic but the top down angle that puts you above the tallest trees can still be a little vertigo inducing for anyone with issues with heights. The sound is ok. There are some sound effects related to your movement and in world actions and dialog options with NPCs but the majority of what you hear is either preaching or singing over the loudspeakers. 

The game has a Permadeath system. Once you die, your only option is to start the game over again. When you start a new game, your spawn location is randomized as is the locations for some story objectives. The game also has different endings based on the choices you make and the difficulty chosen which all adds to the replayability of the game. Depending on where you spawn in and where your nephew is located, a playthrough takes about 20 minutes to 1 hour; less if you get killed.

You are able to see the NPC’s field of view by holding a button, though doing so makes you crouch and move slowly. This makes it easier to avoid detection and know where to hide or disappear when/if you get spotted. You can also find Townsperson Clothing to disguise your character and reduce the detection radius.You can still get spotted though and once you are, you lose the disguise and it disappears from your inventory so you can’t even reequip it after escaping. 

The game provides you with a few options to try to distract the NPC’s and make them change the route they are traveling or move from the location they are guarding. You can throw stones or turn on a radio, both of these options will send NPC’s to investigate what is going on. This becomes very helpful on the harder difficulties since being as stealthy as possible will help keep you alive.

The religious cult has two leaders; Isaac Walker who is the Preacher and his wife Rebecca. You will hear their voices over the loudspeakers around the town as they preach propaganda and “brainwash” the NPC’s. After about 4-5 times it starts to become repetitive and makes you wish there was an option to lower the loudspeaker volume. 

As mentioned, the game has different endings depending on the choices you make and the difficulty you selected but there’s also a seemingly random component to the different endings centered around Issac’s actions. The permadeath mechanic does you no favors if you want to see all of the possible endings.

Short campaign, Permadeath, top down, stealth game with multiple possible endings that have a random component to them.

The Church in the Darkness is available on Xbox, PS4,Nintendo Switch, Windows and Mac. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.