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.
Active Neurons 2 from Publishers Sometimes You, Usanik STDand Developer Nikolai Usachev
A great sequel with fun new mechanics, nice soundtrack, and challenging puzzles.
A Logic Puzzle
This is the sequel to Active Neurons (Review Here ). There are more puzzles, new mechanics added to the game, and a great new soundtrack.
We noticed several changes/improvements from the original Active Neurons. Previously, all of the puzzles were single screen. Now, some puzzles will require you to move to a second screen which adds a bunch of new challenges. Solving the puzzles now comes with a bigger animated explosion that provides a very satisfying feeling. We also noticed that some of the options available in the first game are not present in this game; namely, Color Blind mode and Monochrome mode. This is a let down for those that use these accessibility features. Hopefully they’ll be added in a future update.
The soundtrack is great with lofi beats to keep you relaxed when struggling with a puzzle. They’ve also added an RGB sound graph across the bottom of the screen that visualizes the soundtrack. During our game play the background music cut out at one point for several minutes. Quitting and reloading seemed to fix it.
Much like the first game solving the puzzle requires moving an energy block to the goal(s) located elsewhere on the level. Once you press the direction you want the block to move, it will continue in that direction until it hits an obstacle. You will need to use these obstacles along with portals or the walls around the edge of the screen to help you maneuver through the level.
There are over 150 puzzles to enjoy and several unique game mechanics are introduced as you progress through the levels. As you make your way along this journey you will discover the 12 greatest inventions of humanity and reflect on the power of human thought. Once you complete the 10 levels for each invention you are provided with information about the invention. We really liked these nuggets of knowledge gained along the way.
If you get really stuck on a puzzle there is the option to see the solution for the puzzle at the press of a button. That was present in the original game and returns for the second game. It’s really nice for those that are impatient or just really stuck to be able to keep moving through the game. There is also a convenient reset button which restarts the puzzle in a second or 2. This got a lot of use for us especially in the later levels where mistakes cannot be recovered from. If you like the challenge of actually figuring things out for yourself, be careful when restarting levels as it is easy to accidentally select the solution button instead of the reset button. Fortunately, you can stop the solution from completing even if you accidentally click it.
It is a very enjoyable gameplay experience. The puzzles start out pretty easy and increase the difficulty at a nice pace while steadily introducing new mechanics to keep the game fresh.
Much like the original game there is little to no replayability after completing the game. If there is a 3rd game we would love to see leaderboards, challenges, or time trials added. Some would consider it a good thing that these additions aren’t present while others may find they miss having a reason to replay levels and the ability to compete with friends and strangers.
Active Neurons 2 is available on Xbox One, PS4, and Nintendo Switch. 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.
A short enjoyable puzzle game with a couple of cool mechanics and a very bright background.
A minimalist puzzle game
You need to move your square to the yellow square somewhere on the screen. Its start is pretty simple and can be completed without thinking. After a few levels they start to add new game mechanics and the difficulty starts to ramp up.
Eventually you are introduced to the clone mechanic. Presumably this is the mechanic that inspired the title. It allows you to record your movements and clone your square. After making your clone it will play your recorded movements. This was a big surprise when we figured out that if you keep moving in one direction and clone yourself the recording will keep moving in that direction. This was one of the coolest mechanics introduced in the game. Overall, the controls and game mechanics are simple and work nicely as intended.
There is a narrative thread in the game. It is told through text on screen after completing every few levels. We didn’t feel this “story” element really added to the game in any appreciable way.
The game has a very relaxing soundtrack which helps soothe the frustration when getting stuck on a level. Some of the later levels you will probably end up restarting over and over trying to figure out the solution. Luckily, you can reset the level with the press of a button and get back to trying a different method within a second or two.
There is the option to enable a Colorblind mode. We love to see developers putting in the effort to make their games more accessible for all gamers. The one thing we do wish is that there was an option to lower the brightness of the background or play the game in “dark mode” as most of the screen is white which can be painful for those with photosensitivity.
As for replayability options, they added a “Best Time” under each level which gives you the option to replay each level trying to beat your best time. We would have loved to see an online leaderboard to compare your times against friends and strangers. There is also a Player Statistics area that you can see at the end of the level selection area which shows your Total Time and Total Deaths. The total time does not calculate the total amount of time played it just adds the total best time for each of the levels. The game is fairly short and can be completed within an hour depending on player skill.
Déjà Vu is available on Xbox One and Windows. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.