Endling – Extinction is Forever from Publisher Hearobeat Studios and Developer HandyGames
Don’t mess with momma fox. Emotional journey of a momma getting her stolen cub back. Beautiful art and well told story.
Endling is a 3D side-scrolling survival eco-conscious journey in a beautiful yet polluted world. You play as the last mother fox on Earth with 4 newborn cubs. A hunter traps one of the cubs and you will need to track down the hunter to rescue your cub while keeping your other 3 cubs safe, fed, and alive. Mankind is slowly destroying the world with trash and junk everywhere. The forests are being cut down and rivers are polluted. As the game goes on you will see the world getting worse and worse.
For the first little bit, when the cubs are very young, they will stay in the shelter and you will need to go out and bring back some food. Sometimes, you will have to hunt other animals or dig through garbage looking for food. Most of the expeditions take place at night while the humans are sleeping. The game does recommend you return to the shelter before morning. This is not mandatory although it does make it easier to move around because if the humans see you they will attack. When returning to the shelter to sleep you will see an adorable image of you, the momma, and your cubs sleeping. Every once in a while you will see an animation of a cub yawning or moving around.
After a few nights of solo foraging for food, the cubs will venture from the shelter and join you. This adds another component to the game as you will need to make sure they are safe and keep them within range. They start off not being able to do much, just following you around waiting for food. There are certain areas of the game that will teach your cubs new skills. With some of the new skills they learn they will be able to get their own food and escape when being hunted. The cubs can get scared with everything happening in the environment or when you have been attacked. You can pet your cubs to reassure them everything is ok. This little extra touch adds something special to the game and really makes you feel connected with your character.
With all that said, not all interactions with humans are bad. Yes, most of them will be trying to hunt you with traps and if they do get too close to you they will attack you but, some of them will ignore you and a few will give you some food and try to pet you. For the ones that are hostile, you are able to fight them off but it does take a toll on your character as you are unable to run and will have to walk away.
If you die you are provided with a message letting you know that your cubs couldn’t survive without you as well as the image of your character being killed sometimes a little graphically. If you don’t take care of your cubs, they will die so it’s important to not neglect them if you want to keep them alive. This adds to the message about how serious survival is.
From time to time you will come across other animals; some you will hunt for food and others will attempt to hunt you. You can also befriend a few who will give you food and maybe even show you some short cut (fast travel) locations around the world.
The game provides you with a sniff mechanic, showing you a “scent trail” for food (prey and garbage) as well as the hunter who took your cub. Everytime you find a clue, which is something the hunter has interacted with, you get a little flashback image. This is used to help progress the story and also unlocks new areas. We really liked the way this was used as it felt like the hunter’s tracks came every few days normally after you had finished exploring your current area. The more clues you find the more you learn about the hunter.
As you play the world keeps changing, seasons change and so does the environment. While following your goal of keeping the cubs safe and getting the taken one back, new paths and escape ways to use and explore open up. There are events that happen on certain days in specific areas that you can completely miss out on. Luckily, this doesn’t impact the story but it does add another little something extra if you happen to experience them and gives players the opportunity for unique experiences in their playthroughs.
Overall we really enjoyed the game, the story, the world, and with all of the little extras it made it feel more like an experience than a game.
Endling – Extinction is forever is on Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo Switch, Steam, GOG and Epic Games. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
KungFu Kickball from Publisher Blowfish Studios and Developer WhaleFood Games
Street Fighter meets FIFA in this 2D sports ball combat game. If you like 2D fighting games you’ll probably really enjoy this cute combat version of soccer/football.
Sports Ball Combat, that’s right. KungFu Kickball is a 2D mix of soccer and old school kung fu movies.
What do we mean by old school kung fu movies, well you can jump into the sky, bounce off bamboo trees, punch and kick your opponent all while trying to ring a bell in the opponents goal using a ball. Sounds pretty fun doesn’t it?
It has a bunch of modes to hone your skills as well as four different AI difficulty levels. Three of these are accessible right off the top but the fourth is only unlockable by beating the “Master” difficulty first.
The difficulty level naming follows the Kung Fu theme with Apprentice, Teacher, Master, and Grand Master. The AI is no joke as the teacher, master and grand master difficulty levels are very challenging. Luckily, you have unlimited continues. The only catch is you need to complete the mode in one sitting because if you stop you’ll have to start over when you come back. We would have loved to see the option to continue where you left off as the harder difficulties are very challenging which can be very time consuming.
The different modes are Practice, Training (the tutorial and target practice), Custom (these matches have a decent amount of options you can change), Tournament, and both Local and Online Multiplayer (versus and co-op). The online multiplayer lets you do Quick Play 1v1, 2v2, and host or join private games including letting you run custom matches. There is an interesting option in the Custom mode that lets you change the ball. “Why does this matter?” you might ask. Well each of the different balls behaves a little differently. There is even a ball shaped like the Publisher’s (Blowfish Studios) mascot which sticks to your character as a blowfish might.
To keep the wait time between online games short they have added Cross Platform Play which can be turned on or off in the options (they have it labeled “crossplay”). Being able to do this in game rather than having to change the setting on a system level is really convenient.
There is something cool we’ve never seen in a game before. While searching for a quick match you are able to practice against the computer without any bells to keep score. After a while of practicing a message pops up on screen with a QR Code. “Can’t find a match? Hop on the discord and challenge someone!” We really liked this feature as a tool for community development and a way of connecting with other fans of the game to get a match going.
The controls are very simple. You can either use the right thumb stick or 3 buttons to control your character’s attacks. This keeps the game easy to learn, very accessible and yet hard to master as you are able to do many different combinations of button presses or directions to do some other moves.
There are a total of six different characters (a few need to be unlocked before being able to use them), each with their own positives and negatives. There are also six different locations to play on. Each of the arenas comes with different environmental challenges that make each stage feel different and fun to play. Since there are only six it won’t take long for you to find your favorite arena.
It has a pixel art style for the backgrounds and characters. There is a nice cartoon intro that reminded us of the Power Puff Girls/Dexter’s Laboratory art style. Like any good sports game it has an announcer who chimes in when certain things happen. He reminded us a little of the announcer from NBA Jam with lines like “From Downtown”. There is also a Slow-mo replay that shows up when you do something cool to score a point.
Overall the game is enjoyable, addictive, and pretty challenging on the harder difficulties.
KungFu Kickball is available on Xbox, Nintendo Swtich, Playstation and Steam. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
One Hand Clapping from Publisher HandyGames and Developer Bad Dream Games
Find your voice (or other musical instrument) and play a fun game with 2D platforming and time manipulation.
One Hand Clapping is a 2D puzzle platformer that requires a microphone to play. Why a microphone?? I’m glad you asked! It is because your voice is the main tool you’ll be using to interact with the world and solve puzzles.
During your musical journey you will visit 6 vibrant biomes and will come across 3 adorable characters that will assist you. Each one is more adorable than the last. There are hidden glyphs and other secrets located somewhere on the levels. Some of which are very challenging to find. They are not mandatory but having them hiding there does add to the game’s replayability as the search to find adds additional challenge and things to explore after you’ve mastered the puzzles.
One of the interesting parts is you don’t have to be able to sing. It doesn’t hurt if you can but you can also hum, whistle, or make weird noises/sounds (we did that a bunch). Because of the game’s sensitivity to mic input we suggest warning the people around you that you are gonna be playing this as extraneous noise will make it difficult to impossible to complete the challenges. Or, they might come to check on you because “it sounds like a cat being strangled” and they were concerned.
As expected the puzzles in the earlier levels are pretty easy which lets you learn the game at a decent pace. The difficulty comes with new mechanics including time manipulation in the later levels. Some of the later puzzles were quite challenging and we ran into issues with not knowing what was needed to solve a puzzle.
They have a couple of great accessibility options for the less musically skilled gamers, Educational Mode and Voice Visualizer. Educational mode shows you the notes you are hitting vs the notes you need to hit using a small musical scale displayed on the screen. This would be a fantastic tool for music teachers to help their students with ear training and pitch control. The voice visualizer overlays the waveform of the mic input on the left side of the screen which partially obscures the view. We don’t recommend using it as it seems to get in the way more than it helps. They also built in an “easy button” that you can use to solve the current puzzle if you are stuck or are unable to complete it due to lack of musical ability. This provides a solution to the current puzzle but that is often only part of what’s needed to progress as you will still need to complete the platforming part as well.
The range calibration and sensitivity calibration options are very easy to use. We highly suggest using them before starting and potentially recalibrating mid-session if you find your voice starting to wear out after playing it for a while.
The art style is very colourful (after the first level) with a beautifully hand drawn cartoonish feel and is one of the best parts of the game. At times we found ourselves just looking around the level enjoying the world. The background art is very well done as well and adds a little extra to the game’s atmosphere making it feel whole.
The game/story can be completed in around 5 hours or less depending on musical talent. Sadly, there’s not much of a narrative (or it was somewhat lost on us). The gist seems to be that you need to battle the silence (darkness) and bring back the music (light).
Overall we enjoyed the game and got to make a lot of funweird sounds to solve some puzzles. We just wished there was more to the story and that the characters were a little more fleshed out.
One Hand Clapping is 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.
Teacup from Publisher Whitethorn Digital LLC and Developer Smarto Club
Short but enjoyable side-scrolling adventure game. Geared toward a younger audience but relaxing even for older players.
Teacup is a side-scrolling adventure game that follows a shy young frog named Teacup as she tries to locate the ingredients needed so she can throw a tea party.
On your adventure you will meet and engage with the other towns folk, some nice and friendly while others not so much, all of whom are some form of animal. A few of the towns folk will give you tasks to complete. Finishing them will reward you with one of the ingredients you are looking for. Some of the tasks are mini games, like slide puzzles or acting in play. They are pretty easy and enjoyable. All of the mini games fit the story and the narrative of the tasks well. They are a little on the easy side depending on your skill level and it is impossible to fail the games as they can be tried over and over again. This makes the game more accessible and hopefully more enjoyable for younger or less skilled gamers.
The game is just under 2 hours, so it can easily be completed in a single sitting but it’s relaxing the whole time. The soundtrack and art style add to the relaxing gameplay. The game feels like it’s geared towards younger gamers which is not a bad thing if you want to relax and enjoy some tea.
We ran into an issue by the pond where we hit an invisible wall that stopped us from accessing the icon to travel to the next area. We were eventually able to move around and come at it a different way and travel. This was the only technical issue we encountered.
Overall the game was a relaxing experience with fun mini games.
Teacup is available on Xbox, Nintendo Swtich, Playstation and Steam. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
Long Ago: A Puzzle Tale from Publisher and Developer GrimTalin
Puzzle game with a good story and great music. Simple concept with good execution.
Long Ago: A Puzzle Tale is a puzzle game and fairy tale rolled into one. The story is about a princess longing for freedom and adventure lovingly told in rhyme. This is a little different than most puzzle games as you don’t play as a character but as a ball. You roll around the levels collecting quills/feathers to uncover the next stanza of the story. Sounds pretty simple and boring, right? And yet, it’s not.
Like most puzzle games the early levels are easy to figure out but the game starts to become challenging as new mechanics are introduced. Luckily, you can undo a move with a simple press of a button and there is no limit to the amount of moves you can undo. You also have the option to completely reset the stage with a press of a button. We wish the reset button was not one of the face buttons as we accidentally restarted the level when attempting to only undo a move.
There are a total of 5 chapters. Each has its own theme and new mechanics to keep the gameplay challenging (and we do mean challenging), interesting, and fun. One of the challenges introduced in the game is the fact that only some of the feathers are visible at the beginning of the level. There are obstacles that you have to solve in order for the rest of the feathers to show up so path selection can be very tricky.
After completing all of the story levels you are able to replay the levels collecting coins instead of feathers. The coin placement is in different locations from the feathers which makes replaying the levels challenging and enjoyable. The coins are used to unlock new skins for your Ball which are only cosmetic. However, these challenge levels also award you with a 3 gem rating for how well you did. Completing the level using the least amount of turns will get you a higher rating. The game’s story progression is tied to the gems, so you might have to replay some of the challenge levels in an attempt to get a higher rating. There is a hint system that helps make it easier but you have to wait a while for the hint meter to refill.
It has a great soundtrack to keep you relaxed when getting stuck on a puzzle. After completing all of the levels in the chapter you are able to pull up a book to put all of the pieces of the story together. You can read them for yourself, or replay the audio of the characters reading the lines. We really liked this feature since it can take a while to solve the puzzles causing you to lose track of the narrative. Each chapter also has a really beautiful song you can play from the book. It will also keep playing if you navigate out of the book and start a challenge level. We were really impressed with these songs and would love to have the soundtrack so we can listen to them whenever we want.
It has a great pick up and play feel as you never feel lost when returning back for another puzzle after taking some time off.
There are 16 levels in the Narrators Challenges to be completed after finishing the story. The levels are true to their name combining several of the game’s mechanics at once making you use all of the skills you learned during the main game in order to complete them.
The background art is great. It has a photo realistic look with some subtle animations like grass flowing and moving in the wind and birds flying around. This was really well done and added an extra something that was really relaxing while solving the puzzles.
Overall it’s an enjoyable puzzle game that lets you take your time when solving the puzzles and provides a challenge.
Long Ago: A Puzzle Tale is available on Xbox, Nintendo, and Steam. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
Knight Squad 2 from Publisher and Developer Chainsawesome Games
Top down, fast paced, multi-player, medieval fantasy combat. Good for adults and adolescents. Multiple match options for online or local play. Supports cross platform online matchmaking.
Knight Squad 2 is an arcade style multiplayer game with both online and couch co-op options. As we’re sure you’ve guessed, it is the sequel to Knight Squad. Just like in the original game there are multiple Knight characters for you to choose from and more that can be unlocked by completing various in-game requirements. Some of the requirements are as simple as entering a cheat code while others can be a little more challenging like holding a special weapon for a set amount of time. Sadly, it really doesn’t matter which knight you choose. It’s really just a skin/color change and a unique “emote” that you only see on the character selection and match end screen.
There are thirteen different game modes to play and enjoy. Each mode has several arenas (different maps) to play on. Each of the modes plays a little differently with unique requirements to win. All of them have a fixed top down camera perspective. We found it difficult to keep track of which character on screen was ours from time to time with them all running around over the top of each other. The gameplay is fast paced and the matches are short. After playing them all once you’ll have a pretty good feel for which modes you prefer. Most of the game modes have a default time of 3 minutes which keeps the games short and enjoyable but this can be changed to make them longer or shorter to suit your preferences. Just like the Knights, you can also unlock new Battle arenas. Their unlock requirements are much clearer; all you need to do is win on the previous map to unlock the new one.
The game is easy to pick up and play, with the option to play against bots or people. The controls are also pretty simple which makes it easy for anyone to enjoy the combat.
The game has two big selling points. First, is the many customization options for the match’s variants. You can add modifiers, change the item spawn rate, or remove items all together. This allows you to keep the gameplay interesting and varied. Second, is that the weapons you use to fight the other Knights are great, weird, and even a little magical. You have both melee and ranged weapon options. Each of the arenas will have a few standard item spawn locations and a bunch of random ones. The randomized item spawns adds some challenge to the matches. When the weapons spawn and you run over them you will pick up a level 1 version of the item. Picking up the same item that you already have equipped will give you the maxed out version of it. The maxed out version does more damage and sometimes has bonus powers to it.
You can play with up to 8 players locally or online. We liked that they give the option to back fill missing players with bots. This really comes in handy as you can’t always get a full lobby when playing online.
Overall the game is fun to play with a group of people and would be a good addition to a party game list. If you enjoyed the original, you’ll love the sequel with its added options. Good for a party game. Price point may be contributing to lower online player counts.
Knight Squad 2 is available on Xbox, Nintendo, and Steam. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.