Rise of the Triad: Ludicrous Edition from Publisher and Developer New Blood Interactive, Nightdive Studios, Apogee Entertainment
A remake of a cult classic 90’s first person run-and-gun shooter. Adrenaline runs high with crazy fast movement speed and occasional frustrations from not being able to find the exit for the level. Recommend giving it a try and blasting some enemies with your super bark of destruction or Excali-bat today!
Rise of the Triad: Ludicrous Edition is the updated remaster of the cult classic 1995 game Rise of the Triad. It’s a retro First Person Shooter that actually lets you pick from one of the five Members of the High-Risk United Nations Task-Force (codenamed H.U.N.T.). Each of the characters has different stats in movement speed, health (or hit points), and accuracy.
As expected it plays like a 90’s FPS run-and-gun which is both a good thing and a bad thing at the same time. If you didn’t grow up playing these kinds of games you will get frustrated as there are no tutorials and there are hidden entrances all over the place. You end up getting stuck and have to just start spamming the A button against the walls hoping to find one of the hidden doors and open a path. Some of the levels feel like a maze where you keep going back and forth trying to figure out what you missed to find the exit. There is a map that is a little bit of help but there’s no mini map so you need to open the menu and check it all of the time or you risk having to run back and forth for something you missed. The story is about what you’d expect from a 90’s FPS game. There are bad guys you need to stop, that’s pretty much as deep as it gets.
As someone who didn’t play the original Rise of the Triad I was surprised by the crazy powers you get in this game, like being able to fly for a small amount of time, turning into a dog with a super bark, having a magic baseball bat (Excali-bat), becoming a god, and making people explode. The powers added some diversity to the game play and let you experiment with different play styles. Just like most good FPS run-and-guns, it’s all about the weapons. Along with the normal standard weapons like pistols and machine guns, they have some other interesting weapons with several of them firing different types of rockets.
Since it is a remake, we wish they would have added some quality of life improvements, like autosave. You read that right. It’s 2023 and there is no autosave, only manual saves, which is easy to forget to do nowadays as that has become a standard function in games for quite a while now. It’s frustrating when you forget about that and end up losing hours of gameplay. This happened to us as we stopped playing for a bit and when we reloaded, we realized that our last save was from hours ago. Another thing we would have loved to see is the option to change the controller sensitivity. It felt like it was set way too high which made some of the platforming parts much harder than they needed to be.
There are 4 different campaigns to play, with a total of 109 levels, giving you hours of gameplay. Just make sure you remember to save often (or at the very least, save before you stop playing). There is also the option to use the game’s original cheat codes if you remember them or you can look them up online. The game gets bonus points for letting you unlock achievements while using cheat codes. Unfortunately, the console remake did not include the multiplayer game type from the original game. But we hear the PC version does include this game type. Would love to see this come to consoles in a future title update.
Overall, it did hit that 90’s FPS nostalgia nailing the ever so classic look and feel of those games. The controller sensitivity was a challenge at times and made us feel like our character was speed skating on ice, but the option to play as different characters was a really cool option and we ended up playing as the character with the slowest movement speed to help offset some of the issues we were having with the controller sensitivity.
Rise of the Triad: Ludicrous Edition is available on Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo Switch, Steam and Windows. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
Antstream Arcade from Publisher and Developer Antstream
Nostalgic retro games galore. Cloud hosted so can have some latency issues at times.
Antstream Arcade is your home for playing legal copies of Retro games with over 1300 games available to play anytime. Sounds a little too good to be true right? So, what’s the catch…? Well, first off, you are buying a subscription/license from the service to play the games. There are currently two options; buying a 1 year license (that you would have to buy again if you wanted to access the games after that 1 year is up), or a lifetime license. At the time of this review the 1 year is $30 USD and the Lifetime is $80 USD on Xbox (it is also available on PC). The second catch is that all of the games are cloud only versions that are streamed to you and not installed or run locally on your system which can lead to a little lag with your controller input at times. But, at least it saves hard drive space, right?
When you first access the arcade you might be overwhelmed with the sheer amount of games. 1300 is a lot of games. If you were gaming in the 80’s, 90’s, and even the early 2000’s you will find tons of games that will bring back memories, some good and some bad. There is a search option to help you find games to play but you need to know what you are looking for to make it helpful. We noticed a bunch of times that the same game appeared more than once since it was listed separately for different systems/consoles (ie: Skatin USA for the Spectrum and for the C64). We would have loved the option to make our own playlist. You can favorite a game by clicking on the star but you need to go into your profile to access your favorites. Having that on the main Play Now screen would have been a better choice. We would love to see this changed in an update to the arcade.
Going through the games we instantly found a few games that made us stop everything and play. The music, the sound effects, and the look just hit us with all of the nostalgic feels. Replaying these was both good and bad as it seems some games weren’t as good as we remembered them being and would’ve been better left safely locked away in our fond memories. It also took a little bit of getting used to trying to play the old games with a modern controller as most of the games only use a few of the buttons since that’s all that was available when the game first came out.
In all of the games we played we were able to make a save at any time and had 3 save slots. This was a welcome change from the original versions as a lot of the older games were known for being harder than they needed to be and not being super forgiving with checkpoints. Being able to save at any time lets you take a break from that game to play something else or just put it down for a while without losing your progression. For anyone who remembers playing early console games you know that saving on demand was not an option.
Just playing the games can be a little boring after a while which is why Antstream added Mini challenges, weekly tournaments, and community challenges. These are great additions to the original games and completing the challenges rewards you with a Bronze, Silver, or Gold Medal as well as some system currency. You even get a daily login bonus just for loading the game. You might be a little confused about the system currency since you already have access to all of the games. We were confused too at first since we couldn’t find anything to buy with it. We eventually found where we could use it to unlock new challenges, join the tournaments, or create challenges against a friend or the community. This extra layer of gaming on top of the original games was really interesting.
Overall, we enjoyed playing a lot of games from our childhood and discovering new old games to play. If you are an older gamer with young kids it would be fun to show them a bunch of games you played when you were growing up. For anyone who missed gaming in the 80 and 90’s this is an easy way to check out the games without spending a lot of money on the retro hardware and games.
Antstream Arcade is available on Xbox and PC. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
Flat Heroes from Publisher and Developer Parallel Circles
Not for the faint of heart or easily frustrated. Fast paced platforming with high degree of difficulty.
Flat Heroes is a fast-paced, minimalistic, intense, action platformer. You control a square just trying to stay alive. To do that, you need to jump from platform to platform, landing and jumping off walls to avoid being killed by the enemies and traps that appear.
There are 3 modes to play: Campaign, Survival, and Versus. Campaign is divided into two parts. Normal, which is the standard mode, and Heroes, which is pretty much equivalent to Hard mode. We suggest leaving Heroes until you have completed Normal mode. Most of the levels consist of avoiding the different types of enemies/traps and staying alive.
The game does provide a lot of challenges with 300 levels broken up into 20 worlds between normal and hero mode with boss battles at the end of each world (and we do mean battles). Some of the boss battles take a little bit of time (and many deaths) just trying to figure out what you need to do to beat the boss.
New mechanics are introduced every few worlds and new enemies/traps are introduced every few levels which keeps the gameplay interesting and keeps upping the challenge. If the levels become too challenging we suggest getting a friend to join as you only need 1 player to survive to the end in order to finish the level. Sadly, the game only offers local (couch) co-op. But, it does have drop-in and drop-out 4 player co-op which made it easier for a friend to drop in to help for a couple of levels and then drop out and we could keep going on our own. If you don’t have a local co-op player who is willing to join you there is an option to skip the level but it looks like you can’t skip back to back levels so be aware of that when choosing to skip or not. You are unable to skip the second to last level in the world (the level before the boss battle).
Survival mode, as you might have guessed, is a timed mode seeing how long you can stay alive. There are a bunch of modes to play but sadly most of the modes are locked behind SP, the game’s point system. You “earn” SP by climbing the leaderboards. There is a daily challenge that you can play once for free. If you would like to retry it to try and get a better time it will cost you some of your SP which turns it a little into a currency system. It does have online global leaderboards which is great to see as that adds to the replayability. We did notice that the top scores are all Dev accounts which should probably be removed or not included in the leaderboards.
Versus mode is a battle mode. Much like Survival mode, most of the versus modes are locked but can be unlocked after playing a few games. There is couch co-op for all of the modes and the option to add AI for the versus modes. We would have loved to see different options for the AI as it is no joke; they play to win.
The game carries its minimalist theme throughout from the controls and enemies, to the art style and music. All of this adds to that pick up and play feeling where we can play it for 15-30 minutes here or there, put it down, and come back another time.
Overall we enjoyed the game in spurts, some of the levels were very challenging and a little frustrating as we didn’t know what we were supposed to do during the boss battles. It is satisfying finally completing a level that you died a bunch on and that included the boss battles. The game does not hold your hand, you learn by dying over and over until you learn the pattern or figure out the objective. We would have loved to have been able to play more of the modes without having to grind points or battle the AI.
Flat Heroes is on Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo Switch, Steam, and Epic Games. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
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.
PowerWash Simulator from Publisher Square Enix Collective and Developer Futurlab
Excellent power washing sim with a delightful story. Great for zen-ing out and relaxing after a long day.
There is something very relaxing about cleaning a dirty object and this game does a great job capturing that feeling. You might think it’s a simple simulator for power washing and it might be a little boring but, you couldn’t be more wrong. Yes, it is a simulator for power washing, that much is true. But this deceptively simple concept masks a really fun little story with some interesting characters.
You’ll start the game with a basic power washer and a text from a friend. As you continue cleaning you’ll see more messages pop up and the text messages are how you’ll be notified of new job opportunities. Most of these appear to come from referrals from your very satisfied customers. These on screen text messages are also how you experience the delightful story in the game.
If you miss some of the on screen text messages you can pull up your in-game tablet and reread them on the messages tab of your job. Sadly, when re-reading the messages in this tab it doesn’t tell you who the message is from so if you miss that when it first pops up on the screen you won’t be able to tell who said what later. We did notice that while playing co-op the messages only showed up on the host’s game. We would have loved to see the messages on both players’ screens and been able to tell who they were from when reviewing them from the messages tab of the job info.
There’s a solid difficulty progression introducing you to steadily larger or more complex buildings and vehicles to clean. They have different degrees of difficulty on the dirt and stains that need to be removed as well as the sheer size and shape of what needs to be cleaned. For every level you complete in Career Mode you’ll earn both stars and money. The money is used to upgrade your equipment, buy soap to make the cleaning a little easier, or buy skins for your character and equipment.
They helped balance the difficulty curve by locking the more powerful washers behind not just a price tag but also a “stars” requirement. This ensures that you have to be at least X far into the story before you can purchase them. Each level earns you 5 stars upon completion.
While cleaning, some of the stains are easy to remove while others will take more pressure (swapping nozzles) and require you to move a little more slowly over the area. The game does give you some “forgiveness” when cleaning during the earlier levels letting you complete areas without getting every speck of the dirt/stains. As you advance into the later stages of the game there is less wiggle room and it becomes harder to ensure all of the dirt is cleaned away. There is a dirt finder button which highlights the dirt for a few seconds. This becomes a mandatory tool on many levels. We would have loved to be able to double tap the button and have the dirt stay highlighted instead of fading after a second or two but that is not currently an option. We did find a few times that even using the dirt finder we were unable to see the dirt and had to go over the area again from different angles and pay close attention to corners and “seams” to remove the missed dirt.
The game doesn’t have a soundtrack, just ambient sounds (background noise) which is a good thing for a few reasons. 1.) If/When you’re power washing in real life, you probably have headphones in and are listening to whatever you want. 2.) With the amount of time it takes to complete some of the levels you will get tired of hearing the same songs over and over again.
There are a few different modes to play which adds to the replayability. Career mode is the story mode for the game, Specials lets you clean unique objects, Challenge Mode where you need to complete the job within a certain amount of time or within a set amount of water being used, and of course, Free Play which lets you replay any Career Mode level you’ve already finished. All but 1 mode is playable in co-op (Challenge Mode is 1 player). Career Mode lets you play in a 2 player co-op while Specials and Free play is up to 6 players which lets you complete a job very fast.
While playing the game in co-op we did notice a few things that seemed a little odd. Only the host was able to buy upgrades or soap from the shop. The second player could not use soap at all and only had access to the upgrades that the host had. We understand the upgrades as the second player could have already unlocked the highest tier equipment and made the job easier than intended. And as previously mentioned, the story texts only seems to show for the host. One of the benefits of playing in co-op (other than completing the job faster) was the second player got the same amount of money for completing the job as the host did. When the second player goes back to their own game they will have all of the extra money they earned while in co-op. When replaying a level in free play the amount of money you receive is pennies on the dollar compared to finishing the job in the career mode. Luckily after completing the campaign you should have more than enough money to get all of the upgrades, soap, and a few cosmetic items.
Overall we were surprised at how much we enjoyed the game and how fast the time flew while playing it. Don’t be surprised if you start playing it and the hours just wash away all while having some good clean fun.
PowerWash Simulator is available on Xbox, Windows and Steam.
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.