Clumsy Rush from Publisher RedDeerGames and Developer NerfGame
Couch co-op game of reverse-tag with cartoon hippos racing to a finish line. Variety of different physics mechanics and obstacles. Good for young gamers.
A competitive couch co-op party game for up to 4 players. You play as a Hippo. Your goal is to grab the crown and race to the finish line while wearing it. Sounds easy right? Well, not so fast, buddy. There is only one crown and everyone is trying to get it. Opponents can charge each other and knock the crown off to steal it. But you can’t charge while you’re wearing the crown or it will fall off on its own. This makes it a little bit of a challenge to avoid the attacks of the other players.
There are also a lot of different obstacles on the path. And they change every time you start a new race. Some of these will slow you down or speed you up or push you around. They can be used to your advantage to speed up or slow down your opponents or to help you dodge an incoming attack.
There are 27 different Hippo outfits present in the game for each player to customize their character. This helps distinguish one player from another on the screen. It looks like more skins might be added to the game in the future as the outfit screen has a “…” at the end of the list hinting at more to come.
The standard controls for movement took a while to get used to as the triggers are maps to your character’s feet. Moving requires you to have some rhythm when attempting to move in a straight line. Luckily, the game has another control option using the left thumbstick to move your Hippo which allows you to easily control your movements. With the original controls we found ourselves spinning instead of going straight when we tried to go fast until really getting the proper rhythm.
There are several different game modes to choose from. These are more like modifiers then truly different modes. They add ice, reverse your controls, or make you bounce off anything you bump into just to name a few variations. New game modes are unlocked by completing races. This helps keep interest levels up and build excitement for what the next unlock will be. There are a couple of game modes that are unavailable if you are using the thumbstick control scheme instead of the default one.
Most of the games are kinda short and can be completed within 1-2 minutes depending on your choice of controls and how aggressive your opponents are.
The graphics are bright and colorful in a cartoon style that will appeal to young gamers.
Clumsy Rush is available on Xbox, Nintendo Switch and Steam. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
Johnny Rocket from Publisher Restless Corp and Developer HEDE
Decent 2D platformer. Minor issues with hit detection. Great hand drawn art style. Very short completion.
Side Scroller Shooter Platformer
You play as Johnny Rocket, who has been tasked with defeating the “Evil Forces” aka Nazi’s. There are a total of 3 levels that you will make your way through. Each of the levels ends with a boss fight. The boss fights can be challenging at first as each of the bosses have a special attack that can kill you in a few seconds. Once you are able to figure out their attack patterns you can easily avoid their attacks.
New enemy types are introduced pretty often. There are soldiers wielding pistols, machine guns, and heavy machine guns on a turret, as well as attack animals, aircraft, and even UFOs. The new enemies add a little more challenge to the levels as they each have their own attacks you will need to counter or avoid.
Most of the levels are pretty standard; kill the enemies, avoid the traps, and get to the other side. There is a small section in the second level where Johnny jumps into a plane and you get to show off your 2D-aerobatics skills. This was great to see as it was a new mechanic being added to the game but it was way too short clocking in at only about 2 minutes of game play. We would have loved more time in the plane or other vehicles.
The game leans into toilet humor as each level starts and ends with your character on a toilet. Your health is measured in toilet paper rolls and picking up a roll will refill your health.
The game does have some difficulty spikes. Enemies are able to see and shoot you as soon as they appear on screen. Most of them have machine guns and will damage you several times before you are able to shoot them. Hit detection could be better as we ran into a few issues where Johnny would get hit before seeing the shot or enemies taking more hits to kill than they normally would. You will die often due to these issues. Luckily each level has several checkpoints and they are spaced out pretty often. This helps with the frustration of dying as you will only need to replay a small amount of the level.
There are 2 difficulty levels to choose from, Normal or Hardcore. Hardcore is no joke as it is a 1 hit kill. Add that with the other issues and hardcore feels unplayable at times.
The artstyle is a 2D comic, hand drawn, black and white and is by far the best part of the game. It is very animated in a cartoony style. They also added a fun little “character idle” animation that gave us a chuckle.
The game is rather short and can be completed in under an hour depending on player platforming skill. Overall it’s a decent platformer with an interesting hand drawn art style but really short.
Johnny Rocket is available on Xbox, Nintendo Switch and Steam. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
Road to Guangdong from Publisher Excalibur Games and Developer Just Add Oil Games
Driving Simulator + Visual Novel Mashup. Decent story but would have been more enjoyable without the poor driving sim.
A Visual Novel and Driving Simulator
The main character is Sunny. After her parents passed away, she was given the family‘s cherished restaurant by her Aunt (Guu Ma). Before she takes over the restaurant she needs to visit other family members and ask for their guidance and maybe their secret recipes too so she can attempt to revive the once thriving restaurant. To accomplish this you will set out on a driving adventure across the province of Guangdong in the 90’s with her aunt in Sandy which is the family’s old run down car. It needs a lot of maintenance and TLC just to keep it on the road which is going to be one of your primary tasks.
While driving with your aunt you can have a conversation with her. This makes the time spent in the car a little more realistic and enjoyable. You can do a few things in the car like turning on the headlights at night, turning the key to start the car, and even changing the radio station. If there is a song playing that your Aunt doesn’t like she will let you know and even change the station herself if you don’t do it first. The music is good and fits the time and place and is relaxing during the frustrating driving sections. Some trips seem to drag on and require several stops to fill the car’s gas and oil. We would have loved more stations on the radio as there were only a few songs being played on each and with the amount of time you spend in the car you will hear them over and over again.
The driving mechanics could use some work. Getting from one location to another takes more time than it should. You’ll spend more than half of the game in the car just getting to the locations. While in the car you will need to keep the car in working order. To do this, you will have to make stops at scrap piles and garages to pick up and replace parts when they start to wear out and you’ll have to keep refilling the gas and oil. They did a good job capturing the experience of driving a POS car that has to be kept under a certain speed or it will overheat and has to stop often to repair parts and top off the oil just to keep it running. The amount of time you will have to spend dealing with the car gets in the way of enjoying the game unless you’re a sadistic weirdo that enjoys that sort of thing.
There is an element of in-game economy introduced with the scrap piles and garages. You can pick up parts from the scrap piles and sell them at the garages to make some money. You will need this to afford the cost of the car’s maintenance. Unfortunately, participating in this economy is both required and subject to additional load times and inconvenience. Each time you stop at the garage each area (fill up gas/oil or buy/sell a part) requires separate load time. This really slows down the gameplay as you will need to do this a lot.
You will be visiting 6 locations during your adventure, there is a map that pops up and lets you pick your next destination. The driving is very linear as you will be driving in a straight line during your time on the way to your destination. The only deviations are pulling into a garage or scrap pile or stopping on the side of the road because you ran out of gas or oil (hopefully you packed some extra last time you were at a garage).
The writing is the best part of the game. Once you get to your destination the game switches from driving sim to visual novel. The conversations that happen in this portion feel natural and at a few times hit you in the feels as you start to feel for Sunny and the situation she has been put in. When speaking with people and family members you will have several responses to choose from. At times you will need to change areas to speak with someone else to unlock another choice. Keep in mind that your choices and decisions matter as once the conversation is over it’s over. If you leave a location and attempt to return some of the areas are no longer available to access. The conversation controls felt a little odd as you would use one button to select your choice but a different button to continue the conversation.
The worst part of the game was all of the driving. The time involved with maintaining the car was excessive and the load times required for interacting at the garages really killed the momentum. The driving controls are simple as you only have gas, reverse, and a thumbstick to steer yet somehow the mechanics were still kinda bad. The only positive here is that your car doesn’t seem to take damage when you inevitably run into something.
The artstyle is colorful with low poly characters and backgrounds. The simple graphics work fine since you will be more focused on the story.
Road to Guangdong is available on Xbox, Nintendo Switch, Playstation and Steam. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
I, AI from Publisher Sometimes You and Developer Satur Entertainment
A grindy shmup
A vertical shmup
You play as an AI that gains self-awareness and escapes the lab that created it. During the escape you possess a spaceship and take off. Using this spaceship, you need to make your way through an enemy army to reach a stargate.
There are a total of 20 missions you will play through on your way to the stargate. Most of the missions will end with a boss battle where you have to defeat a large heavily armed battleship. The other levels will end with your ship flying into space and onto the next mission.
After killing the enemy ships they will drop blue energy which is the ingame currency. You can use it to upgrade your ship in several different ways and to purchase superweapons for the ship. The superweapons do a lot of damage but have limited ammo. You can refill your superweapons’ ammo by finding pickups after killing enemies or destroying asteroids. You can also find repair kits for your ship’s armor the same way. The asteroids can be shot to be destroyed but they don’t cause any damage to your ship if you fly into them. So, you can literally just push them around if they’re blocking your line of fire to the enemies.
Since you will be traveling through space, most of the levels have the same background (space with parts of large machinery or ships added here or there). Sadly, when upgrading your ship it doesn’t change the appearance at all. We would have loved to see it change when adding rockets or upgrading the weapons or armor. It’s nice to be able to see your ship look badass when you’ve upgraded it to be badass.
After completing a mission you are ranked on a three point scale. If you are able to kill all of the enemies and collect all of the energy you get a 50% bonus to the energy collected. If you die in the level you will lose half of the energy/currency you collected before dying. This added a little bit of risk/reward to missions.
You are able to replay missions at any time to try to increase your rank or just to grind some more currency to upgrade your ship. Sadly, you will need to do some grinding to upgrade your ship’s main weapons and rockets just to keep up with the challenge.
New enemies are added every few levels to keep the difficulty up. Some of the enemies look similar to others but with a different attack pattern. You will need to upgrade your ship’s main weapons and rockets just to survive. Depending on the upgrades you choose and how much you grind for currency it is possible to make yourself overpowered.
We would have loved the option to remap the buttons in the game since “shoot” was mapped to one of the triggers instead of the way most shmups map shooting to a face button. However, with the auto-fire feature enabled from the options menu, this was less of an issue. Auto-fire actually lets you play the game one handed at times if you don’t want to use the superweapons that are mapped to the face buttons.
In the audio department, the “AI” voiceover work could have been better. There was an effect added to try and make it sound more “computery” but we didn’t think it was as successful as they wanted it to be and the overall voice acting itself could have been better.
The sound effects are good and fit the game. They did a great job adding the option to control the volume for music, sound, and “The sound of the main gun” separately. This was a great choice as you will be hearing that sound effect constantly and we found the clicking sound of the main gun to be a bit annoying.
Overall the game was enjoyable but the grinding for currency to upgrade your ship felt mandatory just to stay alive in the later levels.
I, AI is available on Xbox, Nintendo Switch and Playstation. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
Castle of No Escape 2 from Publisher Xitilon and Developer D. E. X. Team
A retro styled rouge-lite dungeon crawler and a solid improvement from the first game. A little short but enjoyable with a simple story.
This, like the previous game, is a Rogue-lite Dungeon Crawler with a 6×6 grid of rooms on each floor and 6 floors to explore.
Castle of No Escape 2 is more than just a sequel by number. It’s got a lot of great additions and improvements from the first one. The graphics have been updated adding new character models, backgrounds, and enemies while keeping the pixel art style. The chip tunes soundtrack has also been updated with new songs that add to the haunted castle atmosphere.
A story has been added to the game along with an intro explaining what is happening and why you are going into the castle. The story is a little short but does a good job setting the mood for your adventure.
The rooms are now massive compared to the first game. You can and will have to move through the rooms fighting off enemies, opening chests, and avoiding traps. The look of the rooms reminded us of the dungeons from The Legend of Zelda on NES. The enemies are able to move and will chase you around trying to kill you. There are a handful of different enemy types each with their own attack patterns and some of them have powers. After a little bit you will be able to figure out the enemies’ attacks and the best way to avoid them. Opening the chests comes with a bit of risk as enemies can hide in the chests and pop out when you open them.
There are several new additions to the game over its predecessor. You have 3 characters to pick from at the start with 3 more unlockable if you meet the secret requirements for them. Each of the characters has their own attributes like the first game but unlike the first game they play very differently as they have their own attacks. This was a great improvement to the game as it makes you want to try each of the characters to see which one will best fit your play style.
Some of the new mechanics in this game are fire pits that can damage you and ice on the floor that causes your character to slide around. They also expanded the in-game economy to include gambling. You can use your coins on a slot machine or play the shell game (like 3 card monty but with a ball under shells). There is still the same shopkeeper from the first game that you can purchase potions from and they added a second merchant who will sell them cheaper (if you can find him). You can also find a blacksmith to upgrade your armor.
It is still a rogue-lite game so dying will make you start over with nothing. The Castle is randomly generated which does make the exploration feel unique each time you enter.
They put in a lot of effort to capture that retro look and feel throughout the game. There is an old school password system that allows you to start with higher gear and some of the artifacts already collected. They also have a game manual that you can access from the options. The manual is great and for those who remember the old game manuals; it really captures that nostalgic feeling.
Castle of No Escape 2 is available on Xbox, Nintendo Switch and Steam. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
Castle of No Escape from Publisher Xitilon and Developer D. E. X. Team
Minimalistic but fun retro styled rouge-lite dungeon crawler. Pretty standard fare but enjoyable nonetheless.
A Rogue-lite Dungeon Crawler
You start on the first floor of a mysterious castle. It has a top down view of a 6×6 grid. You move around the grid trying to find stairs to access the next floor. There are a total of 6 floors you can explore. All of the rooms on the floor are covered with questions marks making it a surprise for what could be hidden under it. You discover what is in them when your character moves over the room. While exploring you will come across monsters, books (some of which can curse you), chests, artifacts, and a shopkeeper. Each of the artifacts you collect will give you a buff that will help you explore the castle (warning: if you die, you will lose all of your buffs and have to start over from the beginning).
When you run into an enemy you have a few choices, you can fight the enemy using your weapons and magic, or flee. This adds a little bit of risk vs reward element since killing the enemy can reward you with coins but the risk of dying carries a steep penalty. Some of the enemies will attack you as soon as they see you. This can be a little frustrating in the beginning since running into a few enemies in a row can end your game fast.
Like most Rogue-lite games once you die you will start over at the beginning with everything in new random places and none of the upgrades you had previously acquired. The loading time between each of the games is very fast and after you die you will be back to playing in seconds.
There are 3 characters to choose from. Each has their own attributes. These are easy to read and understand by pressing the listed trigger or bumper button. There is a bonus 4th character that you can select by pressing the other unlisted trigger/bumper. However, since the 4th character is hidden you are unable to see their attributes before selecting it. Sadly all of the characters play the same way. They are just a skin and attribute change with identical attacks and spells.
You can purchase potions to refill your Strength, Intelligence, or Dexterity from the shopkeeper using the coins you find. We suggest using your coins on the strength potions as they will keep you alive longer.
They also introduce a light mechanic to reveal some of the rooms around you. This helps you avoid enemies or find valuables on the floor. The primary method for this mechanic comes in the form of flares. Keep in mind you have a limited amount of flares and can easily run out of them. Luckily, you can find replacement flares in some of the rooms. If you are really lucky you will find the lantern which does the same thing as the flares but without having to consume them.
Sadly there is little to no story in the game. You need to collect the elements before the Demon Nikolai finds them and destroys the world. It’s a little reminiscent of Thanos’ Infinity Gauntlet since the boss has a large gauntlet on and is trying to collect 5 stones.
Castle of No Escape is available on Xbox, Nintendo Switch and Steam. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
My Aunt is a Witch from Publisher Sometimes You and Developer Graven Visual Novels
An interesting expansion on the typical visual novel genre. A little slow to start out but it picks up.
A Visual Novel with some Point and Click elements.
The story is told from the perspective of a boy named Thomas. He was sent to live with his Aunt by his dad and stepmom. Shortly after getting to his aunt’s house, he discovers that she is a real witch who has a talking cat and a bunch of magical things laying around the house. Thomas takes on some of the household chores learning about magical items and making potions. This is where the story starts.
After spending some time in the house, Thomas starts to see and experience the magic and plans on becoming a master potion maker as well as an apprentice to his aunt. During his journey you will meet several interesting characters and have to complete quests and a few puzzles. You will also have a few locations that you will visit and get to explore.
After a while, the visual novel adds some point and click game elements allowing you to take control of Thomas and explore the house. You will be provided with check lists that Thomas will need to complete with items located all over the house. This house might not be the safest place for a child to be left alone to explore. There are interesting ways that Thomas can die while looking around the house. We recommend saving often as there is no auto save and if you die without a save you will need to start the story over. Since there is no way to skip the text, dying without having a save is a time consuming mistake. We would have liked to have some form of checkpoint auto-save feature in the game.
During the visual novel parts of the game they did a great job letting you easily know who is talking by having a nice easy to read graphic above the text box. Each of the characters have their own text colors with a cute little graphic on them making it easy to tell them apart.
The backgrounds and environments are well done with a colorful anime art style that works well, looks good, and fits the story. Some of the conversations will have a small amount of animation in the background. It has a relaxing original soundtrack with well done sound effects that help the immersion and keep you interested in the story during some of the longer conversations.
The story is pretty straightforward with a few interesting parts. There are some pacing issues in the first half with some of the conversations dragging on and needlessly describing in detail things that are pictured on screen. In the later half of the story several characters are introduced at a pretty fast rate. This is where the story starts to come alive and pick up speed.
When you enter the point and click part of the game and take control of Thomas the controls become very important. It wasn’t always clear what button needed to be pressed so it took some time to get used to the controls. Holding a button on the controller will show you which items you are able to interact with. A glowing star displays over the items making it easy to see what you can and cannot interact with. There are times that the on screen user interface will be blocking an item you need to interact with and you will not be able to see it unless you hold the show active objects button.
There is an option that will pull up a book of all the previous text in case you missed something that was said. This is a helpful feature in a visual novel as it is easy to click the next text button a few to many times and miss something.
We really enjoyed the point and click parts of the game and would have liked to see more of this. There are some minor spelling and grammar issues that pop up in the story but they can be overlooked as it does not happen often.
My Aunt is a Witch is available on Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo Switch and PSVita. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
Smart Moves from Publisher Xitilon and Developer grin robot
It’s a fun retro looking puzzle game with a good amount of puzzles and can be played one handed.
A turn-based puzzle game
You move around the level opening the chests scattered throughout attacking or avoiding enemies and traps. Once you open all of the chests the level ends whether you defeated all of the enemies or not.
All of the levels are contained on one screen and laid out in a grid. Your character can move left, right, up or down one square at a time. Once an enemy has been alerted to your presence on the level they will attempt to hunt you down. There is an exclamation mark animation that appears over the enemies heads to let you know they have been alerted. It reminded us of the old Metal Gear games. The enemies can only move when you move, with every move you make the enemies that are on the hunt will close in on you. You can consume a turn by using an object on the level (the chests, barrels and others) instead of moving to skip a turn and force the enemies into attack range. You or the enemies can attack each other when standing on a neighboring square. If you get attacked by an enemy or hit a trap, it’s a 1 hit kill; game over.
After completing the first few worlds you will need to start planning your moves ahead of time. You’ll need to count out the turns to either avoid the traps or lure enemies to trigger them, and determine when is the best time to use the objects to consume a turn without moving.
There are 8 worlds with 8 levels per world. You have the option to take a break from the world and levels you are playing and unlock another area at any time. You do this with the keys you get after completing a level. It is always nice to see that option as some levels will frustrate you and make you want to stop playing. Having the option to take a break from that one and play another was a good choice. We found that if we got stuck on a level for a while taking a break to clear our head and coming back later helped us beat the level that stumped us.
Like most puzzle games it starts out with easy simple puzzles letting you get the hang of the controls and mechanics. After the first few levels the difficulty starts to ramp up. Checkpoints are added on the levels and other mechanics get introduced. We ran into an issue with the checkpoint system. The checkpoints are in static locations on the levels and can be picked up at any time, if you get yourself into a bad spot (having enemies around you) and collect a checkpoint it can put you into a no win situation which will require you to restart the level losing your progress. After dying you do have the option to load from checkpoint or restart the level. Both reloading checkpoint and restarting the level are tied to single buttons. These can be triggered without the prompt even showing up on screen. This has pros and cons. On the plus side, if you realize you’re stuck in an unwinnable situation you can quickly reset with the press of a single button. The bad part is you can easily hit the wrong button accidently and lose progress. The reloading and respawning times are very fast. This comes in handy since you’ll be using it a lot on the later levels.
The game has a retro look and feel with easy controls as the movement of the character is done with the d-pad or a thumb stick. It is possible to play the game one handed which is great to see as it allows the game to be more accessible for all gamers.
Smart Moves is available on Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Windows. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
The Touryst from Publisher and Developer Shin’en Games
A fun voxel art style, Island Vacation themed, puzzle game.
You play as a bespectacled mustachioed tourist on vacation. You will be visiting islands, relaxing, taking photos, scuba diving, and other things you would expect to do while on vacation. While on the islands you will discover and explore monuments and complete tasks (To-do lists) that people offer you.
You travel between islands with the assistance of the friendly boat captain who chauffeurs you around. As the game progresses you’ll gain access to new islands. To gain access you have to first discover the islands from travel guides. Some of these are received from characters but most are purchased from a store.
Most of the islands will have a monument for you to explore. You have to solve a puzzle just to open the monument so you can enter. Once inside there are more obstacles leading to a boss fight to obtain the orb inside. Most of the obstacles are pretty straightforward, while others are a bit tricky and will require you to move the camera around to try to figure out the solution.
You are able to purchase new “upgrades” for your character at a store once they are unlocked by story progression. The introduction of the new upgrade abilities is paced well. They’re also necessary to reach some areas that are otherwise inaccessible. Between those areas being temporarily inaccessible and To-Do’s that will be picked up on later islands, you’ll end up going back and forth to each of the islands several times.
There is a surprisingly large number of mini games as well as to-do lists. Most of the to-do’s are not required for story progression. They are easy to understand and figure out what is needed, and have good mechanics. Many games suffer with poor mechanics in their mini games when they have a lot of them. For the most part The Touryst managed to maintain good mechanics in their minigames. The only exceptions to this were in the retro arcade games found on one of the islands. There’s a To-Do list task related to beating the high score on all 3 of these. They can be a bit frustrating due to issues with the minigame mechanics/physics.
Each of the islands has its own look, feel, and theme. This makes it a lot easier to remember what is on which island when you have to go back to finish future To-Dos.
Overall, we enjoyed playing this game. The puzzles and little games were enjoyable. Other than a couple of issues with game mechanics in one or two places it plays really well and can be completed in 6-8 hours. You can complete the story missions in less time if you skip the side missions (To-Do lists).
The Touryst is available on Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Windows.
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.
Active Neurons 2 from Publishers Sometimes You, Usanik STD and 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 Snail and 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.
Déjà Vu from Publisher and Developer Eric Freeman
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.
Destroy All Humans! from Publisher THQ Nordic and Developer Black Forest Games
Remake of the first game with some additional gameplay features. Some of the dialog is a little dated.
A remaster of the Original Destroy All Humans.
The game takes place in the United States of America in an alternate history circa 1959. An alien named Cryptosporidium-136 was sent to earth to prepare for the invasion and disappeared. You play as Crypto-137 sent to earth to figure out what happened to Crypto-136. Crypto’s mission is to infiltrate and sabotage secret government facilities and defeat Majestic (the secret shadow government organization in charge of everything), find out what happened to Crypto-136, and finish his mission.
While invading earth you will travel to different locales around the USA, and have to deal with townsfolk, police, the military (tanks, trucks, soldiers and robots), and Majestic. Everyone is scared of you. If they spot you, they’ll try to stop and kill you before you can take over the world.
Luckily you have a lot of alien tech at your disposal to aid you on your mission; like various weapons, a jetpack, a flying saucer, and several awesome abilities. Your abilities are Holoclone, which lets you disguise yourself as a holographic clone of anyone, Cortex Scan, which lets you read people’s minds to get intel and provides a little back story, Psychokinesis, lets you pick up and throw things or even people, and Brain Extraction, to pull the brains out of humans.
The Voice Over work for the main characters is great but the townsfolk are a little off and tend to be repetitive. We noticed that the repetition in the NPC dialog isn’t limited to their conversations. There’s also a limited amount of variety in what you hear when scanning their brains. The thoughts start to repeat after just a few minutes of scanning people. Some of the thoughts also just seemed dated and kinda wrong by today’s standards. While playing you will occasionally hear Crypto cracking jokes about the human race. Some of them are kinda funny.
The little things that have been added to the remake makes the game very enjoyable to play for fans of the series or for those who are new to it. They added a new system to this game that was not present in the previous iterations of Destroy all Humans. There are optional bonus objectives to complete for each mission. You can still complete the missions without completing the bonus objectives. Mission replay is available at any time to give you the chance to go back and try them again. Completing all of the bonus objectives in select missions will unlock skins for Crypto. We liked the replayability this adds to the game.
Once you finish the mission for each town, you’ll unlock a free roam option for the location. This lets you access all areas of the town so you can find the collectibles and easily access the 4 challenge areas for each location. The challenges are Armageddon, Abduction, Race, and Rampage. You will receive a star rating for the challenges. They can be a bit of a struggle at first since Crypto only has stock weapons and not all of his powers are unlocked. They become a lot easier and more fun if you go back with a maxed out Crypto with all of his powers and weapons unlocked and upgraded.
The game has a good check point system that makes saves pretty often. This comes in handy at times but can be your bane at other times. We ran into an issue on a mission where we needed to protect a truck from taking too much damage. The truck had 1 hit left when we hit a checkpoint triggering a save and had to finish the rest of the mission making sure it did not get hit at all. We ended up having to restart the mission and protect it better at the beginning as it was easier and less frustrating than the alternative.
There are a good variety of mission types. Some will have you destroying or sabotaging things (buildings, Tesla coils, military equipment), others require stealth. Some are follow or escort missions for both people and vehicles. The stealth missions can be a challenge if you are not patient as you will spend a good amount of time in Holobob form. While in Holobob form you are unable to use your powers as this would compromise the illusion and get you spotted.
Destroy All Humans! is available on Xbox One, PS4 and Windows. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
2 Games in 1 package
Mr. Massagy: Mayo Edition from Publisher and Developer Green Lava Studios
Humorous “Mature” dating sim.
Mr. Massagy: A dating Sim
You play as Johnny. Your “wingman” recommends a new dating app, Linger, to find girls that are up for giving massages.
Like most dating sims you have different conversational responses to choose from when you’re on your dates. Some are innuendos, puns, and even cartoon references while others are kinda douche-y or “normal”. Some of the responses were not what we would’ve expected to say the least.
Each character in your Linger app requires a certain player level to potentially match up with them. They also have specific preferences so you’ll need to match your profile description to what they’re looking for in order to be successfully matched up. You’ll earn stars for successful dates which let you progress onto the higher level character dates.
The star rating challenge for each of the dates adds some replayability for the people who want that while others will replay the dates just to see what happens with the other dialog options.
You have a total of 10 characters to choose from for dates. Some of them are the craziest cast of characters you might ever see in a videogame let alone the scariest dates you might ever go on. A couple of them are a little bit psycho and can lead to the opposite of a “happy ending”.
The gimmick in the game is that the controller vibrates a LOT. Like, you’re gonna wanna have fresh batteries or a wired controller when you play this game. Depending on how much your date likes your responses the controller will vibrate a little or a lot. And if your date is successful enough to get you a massage it’ll vibrate more. Successful dates with each person will lead to a different massage experience, both in terms of the pace and intensity of the vibrations. You are able to replay the date over and over again trying to get a better rating by picking different responses. You can also replay just the massage portion of any date you successfully completed.
You’ll want a turbo controller for this.
My Name is Mayo: A clicking game “with an emotional story”
This might be the strangest game ever. You literally just press a button to tap on a jar of mayo thousands of times. As each achievement unlocks the in-game achievement list will reveal the next lines in the short stories. There are multiple different “story lines” in the achievements/trophies as well as some random facts which are tied to specific milestone numbers of clicks.
In order to progress each storyline you’ll need to click on the achievement picture in-game. Some of these will equip a new outfit on your jar of mayonnaise. You’ll then need to keep tapping to unlock the next achievement/outfit in that story line and repeat the process of equipping the new achievement and clicking some more until the whole storyline is unlocked.
This part could’ve been organized or laid out in a much clearer and more obvious way. The current setup has the storylines all mixed together so it’s harder to see the connections between the achievements. They help themselves a little by color coding the text for each storyline and the locked achievement titles are a reference to the preceding achievement that needs to be equipped to unlock them. At first we weren’t able to follow that there were actual story lines at all due to the jumbled nature of the list.
Mr. Massagy: Mayo Edition is available on Xbox One. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
Aircraft Evolution from Publisher Sometimes You and Developer Satur Entertainment
Overall a pretty enjoyable game, decent graphics but a little short as it can be completed in about 3 hours.
A shoot ‘em up like, action, side scroller with a hint of RPG elements.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to fight your way through 4 time periods, starting from early WWI all the way to a futuristic war. You’ll be attacking the enemy and reducing their bases to smoldering ruins. You need to utilize all of the weapons in your arsenal to accomplish this objective.
There are a total of 40 levels to play through. As you move through the levels and through time from WWI and into the future, both your available aircraft and the enemy equipment will evolve. The enemies start out as simple tanks and soldiers before evolving into plasma cannons on tanks, airships, and turrets.
While your enemies evolve automatically you do not. You will unlock different aircraft after collecting experience and leveling up. You can upgrade your aircraft using the in game currency. The upgrade system is done very well as it is easy and clear what your upgrade will do for your aircraft.
There are random resource drops in the form of crates floating down with a parachute. These contain fuel, repair kits, and different types of bombs (which are your primary weapon) all of which you can use as soon as you pick them up. The repair kits and cluster bombs come in very handy.
You are also able to purchase these same items from the store between levels. We found that each of the bombs are useful for different strategies or play styles. We ended up finding our favorite and sticking with it most of the time as it seemed to work better for our play style.
At the end of each of the era’s you will come across a boss type battle which helps break up the repetitiveness of the levels as it adds a bit of a challenge and serves as a landmark and transition to the next time period.
Aircraft Evolution 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.
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.
The Great Perhaps from Publisher Drageus Games and Developer Caligari Games
Unexpectedly good story for a cool puzzles game.
2D Side Scroller Time Travel Puzzler
You play as an astronaut named Kosmos. While working on a space station something happens; the Earth as you know it is destroyed by natural cataclysms. You choose to go into cryo sleep hoping to be woken up once it is safe to return home. After 36,524 days (otherwise known as 100 years), you are finally woken up to find out there is no communication with Earth and you have no idea what happened. You decide to make your way back to earth to discover what happened and what is left.
You travel back to earth with L9, an AI that accompanies you on your journey trying to discover what happened to the earth. While back on earth L9 is able to find one human signature left on the planet. While trying to locate the one human left on the planet you find an old lantern that allows you to travel between the current timeline and the past from before the cataclysms. This is the main mechanic for the game.
You will come across puzzles and mini-games that will require you to get items that are only accessible in one or the other timelines. Your AI companion will give you hints if you get lost or are having issues finding the solution to the puzzles. It’s easy to spot the items you can interact with as they have an effect that makes them glimmer. At first you might be a little unsure what to do with the item but after a few minutes of doing the wrong thing with it L9 will step in with a hint. Each of the timelines has enemies and objects you will need to avoid. This is often accomplished by switching between them.
The alternate timelines game mechanic is done very well and is enjoyable. This is used throughout the game for everything including solving puzzles, bypassing obstacles, storytelling, and progression.
The artstyle is hand drawn which is great to see and is done nicely. It reminded us of Valiant Hearts. The soundtrack is great and is a little different depending on which timeline you are in. They did a good job making the music fit the state of the world in the different timelines.
The story is good and takes you to several places in Russia. You get to interact with a few other characters in the past and have real conversations with them. You start to see the relationship develop between Kosmos and L9 throughout the later parts of the story. L9 becomes more than just an AI, she starts to become a real character.
The game does a good job at making you empathetic toward the characters. Both the writing and voice acting are great and make the conversations and people feel real.
Sadly it is rather short and can be completed in around 2 hours. After completing the story there is very little reason to replay the game.
The Great Perhaps is available on Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and Steam. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
Superliminal from Publisher and Developer Pillow Castle Games
Overall an enjoyable 3D puzzle experience. Fun narration and mechanics. Reminiscent of portal but definitely a different take on the 3D puzzle genre.
A puzzle game that uses perception to find the solution.
Superliminal is a first person puzzler. You’ll be interacting with and manipulating objects using perspective to solve puzzles, overcome obstacles, and work your way through the stages to get to the exit. The game has a few similarities to the first portal game and likely drew some inspiration from there.
The game does a good job teaching you the basics and giving you ideas of what is possible to do during the introductory stages. The key mechanic centers around relative perspective with objects. There are a lot of optical illusions throughout the stages. Some of these are related to how to solve the puzzles and some are just there to add to the perception bending experience. This mechanic is used very well and can be fun to play around with seeing what you can interact with and how changing the perception or viewing angle alters reality.
There are a number of hidden collectibles across the 9 levels. Fortunately, the level select menu tells you which types you’re missing some of. Unfortunately, it doesn’t tell you how many of each are on each level or how many you’re still missing. Finding all of the collectibles and secret areas are the only thing that really provides much in the way of replayability since the puzzles and solutions are always the same.
The game has a really great lofi soundtrack which helps keep you relaxed when you get stuck on the more complicated puzzles. They’ve also done a great job with the sound effects produced by the different items. Smaller versions of items make quieter higher pitched sounds while larger versions of items make louder lower pitched sounds.
Most of the puzzles can be figured out within a few minutes depending on player skill though executing the solution can be a little tougher at times. There are a few puzzles that ramp up the challenge/difficulty and can take a long time to figure out the solution. There are also secret areas and what seem to be red herrings to distract you from the finish line.
We did run into a few small issues with items glitching or clipping through other objects. We also saw some of these items disappear and then respawn in their original locations. The perspective in the hallways and some of the rooms can also feel a little trippy. One of our reviewers found that their eyes tired quickly playing the game and they needed to take breaks to rest their eyes.
Superliminal 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.
Clash Force from Publisher Ratalaika Games and Developer Spicy Gyro Games
Feels like a mix of Megaman and Contra on the NES.
A side scroller platformer
Clash force is a fairly standard side scrolling platform. There are 3 different members of the Clash Force that you can play as, the only difference between them is cosmetic. The game has 3 difficulty levels; Normal, Hard and Expert. Hard appears to have more enemies while Expert has the same amount of enemies as Hard but you have 1 less health bar and the option to recover health has been removed.
As in any standard platformer you’ll progress to the right and shoot the enemies that appear on screen, most enemies only take 1 or 2 shots. While playing you will come across items to change your weapon, find hearts to heal your health, and a shield item that looks like a crest with an S in the middle that protects you from one hit before breaking. Fortunately, you have unlimited lives which can be helpful during the difficult areas of the levels or for less skilled gamers.
Your life bar has 3 hearts. Unlike most games, getting hit doesn’t just take away some health. You’ll lose any upgraded weapon you picked up as well as 1 heart. Luckily hearts and weapons upgrade items spawn a few times per level so you can restore what you lost. To avoid taking damage when the enemies shoot at you you will need to time your jumps since there is no way to duck or block the attacks.
The game and levels are pretty short as the levels can be completed within 2-3 minutes or less and the game can be completed in under 1 hour. There are 3 levels in each area before a boss fight. There are a total of 21 levels in the game. The boss fights remind us a lot of Megaman vs Dr. Wily fighting someone in a robot. Each of the bosses have a pattern of attacks that are easy to figure out and which is good since you’ll have to figure out the pattern in order to beat the boss.
After completing each level you are rewarded with a bonus area and a chance to pick your weapon upgrade or get a shield. If you are happy with what you have you can run through without picking up anything. This was nice to see as it gave us the option to leave without having to risk losing our weapon of choice.
The levels start becoming a little more challenging with new types of enemies. The platforming becomes harder too with the addition of moving platforms.
There are 5 different weapon items that you come across and you will be able to find your favorite after a few minutes. One weapon in particular really reminded us of the Spread shot from Contra which was our favorite weapon.
The game has the same background music on each level as well as the same sound effect for shooting no matter which weapon you are using. Since you will spend most of your time holding the shoot button you will get tired of the sound effect.
Clash Force 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.
Bunny Memory from Publisher and Developer DillyFrame
A bunny-fied digital version of the classic memory card game. Couch co-op and single player options.
A card matching memory game
A bunny twist on the classic memory card game. Instead of being limited to images like the card game used you’ll also have the option of numbers or letters. The game board can be between 2×2 to 10×10. The number and letter options are very easy to read and see the differences between them but the bunny images game type option is a little harder to see the difference. They do show a larger version of the image in the bottom left corner of the screen when you flip over the cards which makes it easier to see what they are but it’s still more difficult than the numbers and letters.
The game is pretty simple. The concept is basic and it has very simple controls. This makes it easy to pick up and play for gamers of all ages. The smaller sized boards would be especially good for younger gamers. When you successfully match a pair of cards you earn a MP credit. These are used to unlock Memories which are screenshots from previous DillyFrame games.
Once you find all of the pairs the game ends and you are provided with a choice to start a new game or go back to the main menu. Starting a new game means you have to pick the size of your game board and what’s on the cards again. We wish there was a way to play again without having to pick the game options all over again.
The game uses the same characters and artstyle that are present in the other DillyFrame games. They do have a split screen couch co-op option which is a nice addition.
Bunny Memory is available on Xbox One and Windows. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
A Summer With The Shiba Inu from Publisher Ratalaika Games and Developer Quill Studios
A long story with a nice soundtrack. Convenient mechanics for scrolling back to reread passages. Lots of Dog puns.
A Visual Novel with Puns
This is a visual novel set in a world of dogs. It is riddled with canine puns which are amusing at first but some of them seem to be trying a little too hard at times. They used a lot of flashbacks to tell the story which made it a little confusing at some points and hard to follow. It would have been better with less re-reading needed if there was a clearer indication of what is a flashback and what is present day. We actually restarted the game at one point to try and see what we had missed because we got lost about what was happening. There is a button on the bottom of the screen that will show you to see all of the conversation logs as well as the choices you made. We used this several times later in the game when we got confused and needed to go back and reread what happened. This became almost overwhelming toward the end as the story is over 70,000 words long.
The game has several endings for the story. The choices you make while playing through the story will determine the ending you receive. This adds a level of replayability to the game.
They have an auto-play mechanic that allows you to be hands free and just read along with the story. The dialog is purely text based. There is no voice acting. The only sound you’ll hear is the soundtrack and an occasional “dog sound”. We found the soundtrack to be pleasant and varied. It added to the relaxed feeling of sitting back and reading a novel.
The art work for the backgrounds looks a lot like photographs that have had an effect applied to them to make them look painted. The characters also looked a lot like photos with painted effects added just not to the same degree. Oddly, the clothes that the dogs are wearing looked like they’d been photoshopped onto the animals without having the blurring painted effect applied to them.
A Summer with the Shiba Inu 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.
Task Force Kampas from Publisher Eastasiasoft and Developer Casiopea Wave
Fairly short and straightforward SHMUP with good boss battles. A few missed opportunities that could’ve enhanced game play but still enjoyable for what it is.
A vertical shoot em up
Task Force Kampus is a vertical shmup. There are 5 different pilots or characters to choose from, each with their own bonuses. 2 of the 5 pilots are unlockable characters. You’ll need to complete the game for one of them and get enough coco collectibles (more about these later) to unlock the other one. The pilots all have their own individual and interesting looks but you only see the pilot when selecting it at the beginning and they all fly the same ship just in different colors. While the different options for pilots and their bonuses are great it seems like they missed an opportunity to add additional layers and options to the game by not allowing you to choose your ship or giving the ships any stat differences themselves.
The screen has been split into 3 equal parts with the gameplay in the middle part and the sides left completely blank. Both Task Force Kampas and Red Death (previously reviewed HERE) are from the same Publisher Eastasiasoft. Both games seem to waste a lot of screen real estate but this may be a side effect of the need to limit the width of the play area in a shmup.
The game has an interesting mechanic that gives you hp regeneration for your ship if you can hold off on firing or taking damage for a set amount of time. It appears that hp regen delay is different for each of the pilots. This stat would be nice to know when choosing your pilot.
There are 3 bosses you will fight while working your way through the game. The boss battles are enjoyable and they appear to each have their own theme songs that play while fighting them (some of the songs are better than others). Each of the bosses has a movement and attack pattern that can be figured out pretty easily. Once you catch onto the pattern you can see where to position yourself on screen to avoid taking damage so you can hang out there and heal up. If you’re able to figure out the pattern the game is pretty short and can be completed in about 10 minutes depending on player skill.
Meteors and enemies have a chance to drop the in-game collectible, Coco, when destroyed. A coco is a golden dinosaur. These collectibles add to your score and if you collect enough of them you will be rewarded with a flying coco wearing a helmet that is tethered to your ship who will attack enemies. These are also what you need to collect enough of to unlock one of the pilots as a playable selection.
There is a High Score leaderboard present in the game and it does have stats showing how many wins, deaths, and most cocos collected. Another missed opportunity here, the leaderboard is local only and only shows the top 3. We are glad they included a leaderboard so we can see our stats but would have loved to see it as an online leaderboard to be able to compare scores with friends and globally.
Task Force Kampas is available on Xbox One, PS4, PS Vita and Nintendo Switch. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
Concept Destruction from Publisher Ratalaika Games and Developer Thinice Games
Enjoyable cardboard demolition derby. Well executed and easy to play with surprising solid driving mechanics.
Cardboard Demolition Derby
The game is a demolition derby with remote controlled cardboard cars. The play area is a cardboard arena sitting atop a large table in the concept garage. The arena is still littered with the scissors, pens, sticky notes, highlighters, tape, and rulers used to make the cars. To win you must cause the destruction of your rivals by inflicting enough damage to cause them to eject their batteries before they do the same to you.
There are a total of 8 different cars that you will unlock while playing the game, each with their own stats.
While driving around your car will get damaged from smashing into other cars, walls and objects in the arena space. They did a great job making it easy to see the amount of damage your car takes in different areas. If you take enough damage on the left side your door will fall off and so can the tires. You also see that part of your car crushed in. If/when your car takes too much damage you will lose your battery and your car is dead.
The car physics are better than typically found in games like this. The handling responds to the damage taken in a realistic way. If you lose a tire your car will drive like it only has 3 wheels and will lean to the side that’s missing a tire. The controls are good and responsive which is always nice to see. Like most of the arcadey driving games you have no gears to shift through just gas, brake, e-brake, and boost.
There is a “School” option which is the game’s tutorial. It provides a helpful place to start teaching you the basics. It is broken down into 3 sections: learning how to drive and control your car, explaining the way you damage other cars, and learning how to roll back onto your wheels. The last section is very useful as your car gets turned over a lot.
They also built a photo mode and gave it more options than we expected. You are able to take the camera anywhere on the level and even go through walls and buildings. There are some issues with clipping when you move the camera through a building like some of the walls disappear for a second and come back. You can also spin the camera in 360 degrees and adjust the focus if you’re trying to take an artsy shot. You might even be able to spot an easter egg or two while in photo mode since you’ll be able to see things you can’t normally see.
After you complete the level by winning or when your car gets destroyed you are provided with a results screen. This will show your score, the amount of cars you killed, the time left in the round, your car battery percentage, and a breakdown of the damage your car took. It was nice to see the breakdown of how much damage each part of the car took while you fought for victory in the cardboard death match.
Overall the game does a really great job presenting information visually. Not just on the results screen either. When selecting your car, they clearly display the stats so you can see how the cars compare to each other. They also clearly show where and how much damage you’re taking during the derby so you can effectively protect your weak areas while trying to maximize the damage you’re dealing to your opponents.
There are 8 levels in the game, each with a different theme. They range from a fancy plaza complete with fountain, stonehenge, a really cool football stadium, and a forest among others. Some of the levels reminded us of the Micro Machines games for those of you that remember them.
Concept Destruction 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.
SokoBunny from Publisher and Developer DillyFrame
Cute cartoony puzzle game that offers multiple difficulty levels to fit players’ skill. Very similar to the previous Bunny title with some improvements.
A Soko Puzzle Game
This is a slide puzzle type game similar to its predecessor Bunny Parking. Your character is a big eared, big footed, brightly colored bunny and your job is kicking stacks of boxes around to fill the part of the floor covered in pallets.
You’ll know the stack of boxes is on a pallet when it lights up, turns slightly transparent, and sports a large green check mark hovering over top of it. The boxes will have the same reaction no matter which box is on which pallet so it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve got it in the correct location to solve the puzzle/level.
The graphics and controls look and function the same way they did in Bunny Parking which we previously reviewed here. You are able to customize your Bunny by kicking paint cans to change the color of your Bunny,overalls, and hat.
One improvement over the previous game is the addition of an undo button. This lets you undo your last box move. It comes in handy when you make a mistake or when playing the very large Maxi levels. Word of caution: If you’re standing too close to the box when you hit undo, it can hit you and knock you right out of the puzzle area.
There is a helpful training mode in the game with the option to turn on hints which is a good place to start. Sadly the hint option is only available in the training area of the game.
The game has 3 different difficulty levels; Mini, Midi and Maxi. The differences between these levels is the size of the puzzles and how many stack of boxes you need to move. You can start at any difficulty level you want to, but you always have to complete the puzzles in numerical order within the difficulty selected. As you progress within the levels, the puzzles will gradually get larger and more complex with more boxes and pallets.
The Mini puzzles are the smallest. Most of these can be completed within a few minutes and about 20-30 moves. Midi puzzles are mid-sized. You’ll start to notice that you have less room to move around which limits your available moves. Maxi puzzles are the largest and most difficult. Some of these can take quite a while and hundreds of moves to successfully complete.
Jumping straight from Level 1 on Mini, to Level 1 Midi, or Maxi is a very steep difficulty ramp. Playing through all 50 levels of Mini first makes for a smoother transition before starting Midi.
We encountered an issue with some NPC Bunnies getting into the puzzle’s area and hiding behind boxes. If you kick them or kick a box into them they will retaliate by kicking you back. They are able to kick you out of the enclosed puzzle area. Fortunately, there is an SOS button in the menu that will return you to the garage so you can re-enter the puzzle area. Unfortunately, this is never demonstrated or explained anywhere in the game. We figured it out by mistake. This would have been a very good thing to include in Training mode.
Much like its predecessor, Bunny Parking, if you want a break from the puzzles there are some activities available on the map. You play on the playground equipment, bounce on some trampolines, ride the teacups, or play a game of soccer. It also has the same Buffs available for purchase that they had previously. However, instead of buying them with golden carrots picked up from the carrot patch, you now have to earn currency from kicking boxes while solving puzzles in order to purchase the buffs. Most of the buffs are pretty cheap. The only more expensive ones are the ones that change you from a boy bunny to a girl bunny, or a chicken. All of the buffs wear off after a little while.
While the puzzles were somewhat enjoyable and the improvements over the last game much appreciated, we can’t shake the feeling that they were really just reusing every possible asset both game mechanic-wise and visual.
SokoBunny is available on Xbox One and Windows. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
Active Neurons from Publisher Sometimes You and Developer Nikolai Usachev
Relaxing music, challenging puzzles, excellent accessibility options
A logic puzzle
Each puzzle is contained within a single screen. You’ll need to move an energy block to the flashing goal located elsewhere on the screen. Once you press the direction you want the block to move it will move until it hits an obstacle. To solve the puzzles you will need to use these obstacles or the walls around the edge of the screen to help you maneuver through the level.
There are 120 puzzles to enjoy and several unique game mechanics that are introduced as you progress through the levels. The idea of neurons and the neurological pathways through the brain and body are represented through the menus and level selection format. Completing puzzles fills a neuron and when the neuron is full you get to progress to the next set of puzzles.
The Brain levels are where you start and are a good introduction to the game’s mechanics. After the first section they start to introduce various obstacles, some of which can kill you. This gives the player the opportunity to get familiar with how to move around and solve the puzzles.
Once you’ve progressed far enough and are making your way through the Body, the levels start to become very challenging and can be failed from your first move. That may sound odd but for most of these levels your block begins from a location in the middle somewhere that can never be returned to since your block will always travel as far as it can until it runs into something. Luckily you can restart any level if you find yourself stuck or put yourself into an unsolvable position. The level reloads in seconds which is great and keeps you playing.
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 is a nice option to have and is conveniently located right beside the restart button. 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.
The soundtrack is great and relaxing with mellow tunes. This was a good choice for helping players stay cool when the harder levels lead to frustration from repeated failure.
There is a color blind option as well which was great to see and really well done. It adds icons to all of the interactive blocks letting you know what each of them does. It makes it very easy to know what will happen when you hit the blocks. We actually preferred playing with this feature turned on just to make it easier to see what effect all of the blocks would have.
There is also a monochrome mode if you want to use it. This makes all the blocks shades of grey instead of different colors. You can pair monochrome mode with color blind mode so the icons will still appear.
The majority of the game can also easily be played with just the left thumbstick with occasional presses of the A button. This and the above mentioned colorblind mode make it very friendly for anyone with accessibility needs.
The game is very enjoyable. It scratches the puzzle itch and makes you feel good when you figure out a difficult puzzle. Once you have completed the puzzles there is little to no replayability as there are no leaderboards, challenges, or time trials. Some would consider this a good thing while others may find they miss having a reason to replay levels.
Active Neurons is available on Xbox One, PS4, PSVita and Nintendo Switch. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
Woodle Tree 2 Deluxe Plus from Publisher Chubby Pixel and Developer Fabio Ferrara
A cute platformer unfortunately plagued with glitches. Some can be worked around, some can be game breaking.
An open world 3d platformer.
You play as Woodle whose world has been taken over by a dark slime. The slime has taken the Water Tears from the Sage Protector trees turning them to stone and is stealing color from the world. Woodle has been sent to recover the Water Tears and save everyone.
As with most open world games, each of the levels (8 in total) are accessible at any time but the later ones are easier to access after purchasing Power Ups, Items, and higher tier Leaves.
The game has 2 forms of currency; Red and Blue Berries. You collect these while moving around the game and exploring. Red Berries respawn but Blue Berries do not. Some of them are hiding behind destructible objects like leaf blocks. You’ll use the currency to purchase upgrades for your character and weapon as well as on customization options. There are shops in the main plaza for upgrades and for the customizations. You can buy hats that give bonuses and make moving around the levels a little easier while the masks are just cosmetic.
Your only weapon in the game is a leaf that you carry with you. It is your weapon and is also used to transport droplets of water. The droplets can be placed on seedlings to make them grow which makes them climbable and gives access to higher areas. We encountered a lot of issues climbing up the “beanstalks”. We would often clip through them and fall back to the ground again. This made them into a barely usable mechanic. More often than not, we would have to do a jump/glide/climb combination to get up to the higher area.
There are different strengths for your leaf. These are color coded for Power and Damage. You start out with a Green Leaf and end up with a Blue Leaf. All of the leaves are able to do a charged shot by holding the attack button. The upgraded leaves do more damage and have a larger charged shot. Combat is very simple and ends up basically a button masher. There are some enemies that cannot be destroyed and will need to be avoided. As we got further into the game we started avoiding most enemies just to save time.
In addition to the different colored leaves dealing more damage and having larger charged shots, you also need different colored leaves to break different colored leaf blocks. The higher level leaves will break leaf blocks of the same color and all the lower tier colors. Many of these higher tier leaf blocks are covering entrances to hidden areas. Most of these areas will have Blue Berries for you to collect. We ran into occasional issues with leaf blocks “breaking” but not actually being removed which prevented us from accessing some areas. Sometimes reloading the area would allow the block to be broken and actually removed.
The controls are basic and responsive which is always nice to see. The basic mechanics of the game (jump, double/triple jump, glide, and attack) all work well and can be combined to give you a lot of mobility.
The music is upbeat and relaxing and the background atmosphere sounds capture the feel of the location you are in. They also have fun musical sound effects for collecting Berries but the amount of sound effects for every action you take can start to get a little overwhelming. This can be adjusted to some extent by adjusting your audio settings.
While playing you will come across musicians locked up in cells made of slime. If you choose to free them you will be rewarded which is good and makes the extra time spent finding and carrying a droplet of water over to the cell worth the hassle.
The game also has drop in and out local co-op for up to 4 players. The second player gets to play as an adorable fox. Player 3 and 4 get to be a beaver and strange green thing that we’re not quite sure what it is. The fox is by far the cutest. He was so cute we wished we could’ve used it as our main character instead of Woodle.
There are also challenge areas located all over the world that you can complete to save the Sacred Flowers. You’ll step on a teleporter and be sent to a new world to complete the challenge area. The areas are more challenging than any other part of the game. The checkpoints are far apart and the platforming is quite difficult. If you want to attempt these we recommend waiting until you’re fully upgraded. The Sacred Flowers don’t appear to have any in game purpose which makes these more difficult areas entirely optional.
The artstyle is cartoonish with bright colors for the environment, characters, and enemies. It looks very much like a kid friendly game.
Each area is a different setting with its own theme and feel. The themes are done well, some are better than others. The ice area has ice physics which causes your character to slide around and adds a twist to the platforming. Sadly you only see this mechanic used in the one ice/snow area.
There are a few camera issues where the camera clips into the wall obscuring your view. Fortunately, you can move the camera manually to get it out of the wall and see what you’re doing again. Though this issue can make some of the platforming more difficult.
We ran into a large issue where the controller would stop responding in game forcing us to close the game and restart it. When this happened we lost all of our checkpoints in the area that we had previously discovered and saved costing us 2 hours of gameplay. We also had a number of issues with falling through floors and walking through walls. These all made it very challenging to access certain levels or parts of the game. We also had an issue with the final Water Tear needed to complete the game glitching which necessitates a whole new playthrough. We contacted the developer about these issues and they have confirmed that they are working on an update/patch to resolve some of the issues we experienced.
Woodle Tree 2 Deluxe Plus 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.
Duck Souls+ from Publisher Ratalaika Games and Developer Green Dinosaur Games
Enjoyable platformer. Hard mode is not for the faint of heart or impatient. Novices should definitely stick to casual.
A fast-paced platformer
You play as a yellow duck who has been sent by a group of ghost ducks (the Duck Souls) to find the duck eggs and keep them safe. Each level has one egg and is contained on a single screen. You’ll need to navigate from one side of the screen to the other to collect the duck egg. That’s all the narrative or story that’s present in the game.
You can jump off of the walls and dash to get to the higher areas on the levels. You can also use dash to jump over spikes, avoid other hazards, and break through walls.
There are 100 levels in the game. Some of the levels are very simple and can be completed in 1 life while others are more challenging and are likely to require multiple attempts. The game has a great respawn system which puts you back in control the second after you die. It also has a death counter that you can see both when you die and once you complete the level.
While playing through the 100 levels you will come across new challenges, themes, and mechanics. We enjoyed the variety provided by these. They kept the game fresh and enjoyable so it didn’t feel overly repetitive.
You are able to customize the look of your duck by changing the hat your character is wearing. You will unlock and collect hats while completing the levels. The hats are only cosmetic and provide no alteration to your character’s abilities. It would have been nice if the hats actually did something other than just change the look of the character. Some players will really enjoy the customization options these provide while others will find them pointless.
You are able to pick between 2 different modes. Casual mode has checkpoints placed throughout the levels while Hard has no checkpoints so if you die you have to start that level over from the beginning.
The controls are easy to pick up and play as you can use the thumbstick or D-pad to navigate with depending on what is most comfortable for you or provides you with the best control. You can also aim your dash by using the same thumbstick or d-pad you use to move. Being able to aim dash is a requirement for successfully completing some of the more difficult levels. This was an interesting variation to the dash feature typically seen in platformers.
The pixel artstyle is colorful in the early stages. The themes in the game become darker in the later levels as you go deeper into the ground to recover the eggs. These changes in the theme from level to level correlated directly with the increasing difficulty. The early easy ones were bright and colorful and as the levels became more and more challenging the colors became darker and darker. It was fitting of both the narrative of being further underground and the intensity felt by the concentration required to complete the harder levels.
The audio is enjoyable. They have a relaxing soundtrack that helps keep you calm with simple sound effects for your movements.
Each of the levels have their own interesting names based on video games and movies. Some are easy to get the reference while others are a little more obscure. A little Googling will help if you don’t quite get the reference. You might find something really cool.
The game is single player only with no leaderboards. Once you complete all 100 levels and unlock all of the hats there isn’t a reason to go back and replay the levels unless you want the challenge of Hard mode.
Duck Souls + is available on Xbox One, PS4, PSVita and Nintendo Switch. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
Red Death from Publisher Eastasiasoft and Developer Panda Indie Studio
Classic retro feeling shmup.
A Retro shoot’em up
You are the pilot of a small ship called Red 001 who is protecting the earth from invading aliens and an Egyptian god.
The game mostly follows the classic old school shoot ’em up formula. It has minimal story, getting hit once results in insta-death, and the game employs basic control mechanics for movement and action.
While playing you will be controlling your ship the whole time shooting enemies and flying through obstacles. Killing enemies will drop extra lives, weapons, and stars to power the overload meter. Once the overload meter is full you are able to use a special attack which does a massive amount of damage and will kill any of the bosses within seconds. It is a little OP but is needed to defeat the later bosses. Keep in mind if you get hit you lose everything. Not only do you lose a life, your weapon reverts to the starting weapons, and the overload meter starts over.
The game has an interesting choice for artstyle and display. It has a 4-tone color palette with pixel art graphics and splits the screen into 3 equal parts. On the left side you see your character and your score. The middle area displays the vertically-scrolling gameplay and the right side shows your remaining lives and the Overload meter. We feel that the choice for screen real estate would have been better if the gameplay area were larger and the other 2 sides were half their current size.
The gameplay can become challenging fast. The enemies will spawn in the same locations each time which helps you to learn the patterns and destroy the enemies shortly after they spawn on screen. The really challenging part comes from the sheer number of projectiles you have to avoid while trying to find a path that lets you actually hit the enemy. There is no “continue” option so once you run out of lives it’s game over and you have to start over. During the later levels you really get punished when you die as losing your weapons and overload meter might end your run. Without a full overload meter it’s near impossible to beat the bosses.
The game is pretty short with only 4 levels but will take a lot of patience, skill and luck to complete. Once you complete the game you are able to unlock the Arcade Mode which has randomized challenges.
Red Death 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.
Super Destronaut: Land Wars from Publisher Ratalaika Games and Developer Petite Games
Repetitive but enjoyable retro FPS
A Neon First Person Shooter
The game is a First Person Shooter where you shoot enemies and pick up the coins they drop to buy upgrades for weapons and health. It has two game types: challenge, and arcade mode.
Challenge Mode has 30 stages to play and provides you with a specific challenge you need to complete before receiving your Gold, Silver, or Bronze rating. The ratings are based on how quickly you complete the challenge but there’s nothing to indicate what the requirements are for each rating until you complete the stage and see what your time was.
The first 15 levels or so, we didn’t find the challenges to be particularly challenging. Most of these stages were able to be completed in under 1-2 minutes. At times, the most challenging part is just finding the enemies.
Arcade Mode has 5 game types
- Classic Mode – Normal Classic mode
- Hardcore Mode – More Enemies with more HP
- Combo Breaker – You need to keep a combo going if it runs out its game over.
- Maximum Strength – You start out using a Rocket Launcher.
- Snail Mode – You move slowly and can’t jump.
We enjoyed classic mode and maximum strength mode the most.
The artstyle is a neon voxel and has a retro mid 80’s feel. Enemies look like they could’ve been taken right out of arcade classics like Space Invaders or Centipede. The level design and sound effects fit the game’s aesthetic and are in keeping with that retro feel. They chose dubstep for the music. While this is not exactly in keeping with 80’s retro it still feels like a good fit for the gameplay. While the controls are very simple they work nicely and are pretty responsive.
Sadly, there is only one map that is used for every stage both in challenge mode and in arcade mode. After about 15 minutes you’ll figure out the fastest way to make it around the map and where to take cover during combat. While this does help make the challenges a little easier since you’re familiar with the terrain, it also makes it more boring.
There is no story or narrative and the challenge mode (30 Stages) can be completed in under 1 hour. With no online leaderboards, once you complete the challenges you are unlikely to replay them unless you want to try to get a higher rating for personal reasons. The arcade modes were more enjoyable as the stages last until you die (or lose your combo in Combo Breaker). That at least kept things going longer than a couple of minutes.
Super Destronaut: Land Wars is available on Xbox One, PS4, PSVita and Nintendo Switch. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
Hidden Through Time from Publisher and Developer Crazy Monkey Studios
A modern animated Where’s Waldo enjoyable for all ages. Wonderful relaxing music and animations that are both cute and entertaining.
A point and click where’s Waldo-esk animated hidden items game.
The game presents you with maps full of interactive objects and a list of items to find that are hidden on the screen. Each item on the list has a hint to help you locate it. Once you click the item it will put a temporary circle around it marking it as found and check it off of your list by changing the background color of the item from white to a nice bright green.
While playing the story mode you will travel through time from the Stone Age, to Ancient Egypt, through the Middle ages, and onto the American Old West. Each of the maps has its own look and feel and pretty much everything on the map interacts when you click on it. You’ll start out looking for just a few items on a smallish map. As you progress from stage to stage it starts to get a little more challenging as they add more items, hide them a little better, and make the maps larger. Depending on how you handle the challenge or frustration of searching for small well hidden items on a large map, this will either be tons of fun or irritating.
The graphics are delightfully stick figure cartoonish. It fits the game nicely and really nails the nostalgic feel of the Where’s Waldo books. They also have really gentle, relaxing, and peaceful music. We felt like we could happily spend hours exploring the maps and interacting with the different pieces presented while listening to the sound track and hunting down every last elusive little item.
There are a total of 26 maps in the story mode. They’ve also added a Map Editor mode where users can make their own maps and share them with everyone else. In this mode you have tons of options and can choose from everything in the game to populate your maps; structures, props, characters, animals, and the environmental elements (plants, trees, and rocks). Once you’re happy with your map you can play it locally or upload it for others to play online.
That leads right to the Online mode which lets you play maps created by other users and give them feedback in the form of Thumbs Up or Down. Some of the user made maps are very easy with only a few items placed and others are more elaborate where you can tell the creator spent some time to make a really enjoyable map or tell a little story.
We was surprised by the amount of options you have for searching the online maps. You can search based on like percentage, most played, most cleared, clear percentage, most recent and oldest. You can also favorite maps to find them again quickly if you want to come back to them.
The thing we loved the most about Where’s Waldo wasn’t finding Waldo. It was discovering all of the other little stories and activities that were happening on the page. This game captures that spirit perfectly. Every map had such interesting things happening and captured a little slice of the world with so many things to discover.
Hidden Through Time is available 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.
Bunny Parking from Publisher and Developer DillyFrame
Harder than you’d think for a cartoony “kids” puzzle game.
A Slide Puzzle Game
You play as a bunny who is a valet and needs to move a Red car from one end of a parking lot to the other. The lot is full of vehicles that are blocking the way. You need to kick the cars to move them and clear the path.
The game has 3 difficulty levels; Easy, Normal and Hard. You can start at any difficulty level you want to but you always have to complete the puzzles in order for each difficulty. As you progress through Easy they begin to introduce new obstacles and increase the difficulty of the puzzles. This prepares you for the increased challenge of Normal. Normal will likewise become increasingly difficult with more obstacles limiting your available moves. Before you even get to Hard you’ll find that you can no longer clear the whole pate. Instead you’ll sometimes need to move the vehicles blocking your path back and forth multiple times as you clear part of the path, move forward, and then move the vehicles around you to clear the next part of the path and exit. Jumping straight from Day 1 Easy, to Day 1 Normal, or Hard is a very steep difficulty ramp. Playing through all 100 levels of Easy first, makes for a smoother increase before starting Normal.
The graphics are pretty basic and simple, almost cartoony and very colorful.
The audio is simple and peppy there appears to be 3-4 different songs that will play while working on the puzzles.The songs are kind of an electronic polka and pretty repetitive. Fortunately, you can turn off the music in the menu if it starts to drive you as crazy as the little bunny valet. The vehicles will also honk when you kick them if they can not be moved in that direction. You will hear the car horn a lot. This is partly due to poor hit detection and vehicles not being able to detect which one you’re trying to kick and in which direction.
If you get bored of kicking cars you could play some soccer, jump on a trampoline, wreak havoc on some carrots from the patch, or go for a boat ride. There are a few other hidden things on the map for you to do if you decide you want to explore for a bit. We liked that there was more to do than just kick a bunch of cars and trucks around the parking lot.
The game does have a multiplayer/co-op option. We had a very hard time finding anyone to play with so we could test this out. When did finally find one person online to play with. The multi-player is indeed just co-op. One joins the other’s game. You can play soccer against each other or work on the puzzle together.
The controls are very simplistic but work fairly well.
The game is enjoyable and could be especially fun to play with younger gamers. We did run into a few issues with cars not responding to being kicked and a lot of unpredictability with kicking the soccer ball.
Bunny Parking is available on Xbox One and Steam. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
Vasilis from Publisher Sometimes You and Developer Marginal Act
Kind of a weird story. If you’re looking for a slow paced game this is probably right up your alley. If you’re not a fan of walking simulators it may not be a good fit.
Hand drawn in black and white side scrolling adventure.
The story is based on political events in Ukraine during 2014. You play an elderly lady named Vasilis who is trying to locate her husband. While searching for him you’ll have to make your way through the troubled city. There are riots happening throughout the city as it starts to burn.
You have several locations to visit while exploring the town. The locations start to become weirder the further into the story you progress.
You’ll pick up items around the town to trade with the townspeople for other items necessary to continue the story and access new areas. There were a few times during the earlier “days” where we were unsure what to trade to whom in order to progress. We traded every item we had until finally finding the right thing. This was only confusing during the earlier parts of the game as it became clearer what you needed to trade with whom during the later days.
Most of the actual game play is walking back and forth around the town locating items to trade and going from location to location. It starts to feel like a walking simulator.
The controls are pretty simple but a little loose. We found the in game map to be pretty useless since you will be going to the same locations over and over again. You will also pick up a to-do list which will help you figure out what to do and where to go.
There were a few times we got stuck on invisible walls which became a little frustrating. Moving Vasilis around with the thumbstick seemed loose and it was very easy to drift up or down while trying to walk a straight line. We had better results using the D-pad to ensure there was no vertical drift when trying to walk horizontally across the screen.
The artstyle is hand drawn in black and white. Most of the animations are very simple with only a few frames that repeat over and over again.
The audio is very minimalistic. There’s not so much a “soundtrack” as there is different background or ambient noises for different locations. There’s no voice acting either. Just a “scratching” sound to represent speech while dialog boxes are on the screen.
The game is a little short and can be completed in just a few hours depending on how familiar you become with the best paths to traverse the town. After about an hour of walking back and forth you’ll wish there was the option to allow Vasilis to run.
Vasilis is available on Xbox One, PS4, PSP and Nintendo Switch. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
7th Sector from Publisher Sometimes You and Developer Носков Сергей
A really good and challenging puzzle game.
A side scrolling dystopian cyberpunk puzzle game.
This is a visually dark game with a correspondingly dark narrative. The lighting and color palette really sell the dystopian cyberpunk future. You’ll want to pay attention to what’s happening in the background of the levels as that’s where you’ll see the majority of the narrative taking place.
The story is elegantly told without saying a single word. It unfolds organically while playing the game, scanning HDD’s, and watching the background to see what is happening.
The sound track and graphics are very well done. They really capture the feel of a dystopian future. The soundtrack is never overwhelming. It subtly enhances the feeling of the environment and transitions from level to level.
You start out as a little spark of energy traversing your way around the levels using power cables strung along the floor, walls, and ceilings. You will need to jump between these to gain access to other areas in the levels. As you move through the levels you’ll take over different objects from a remote control car, a robot ball that rolls around the floor, a mech with a gun, and more. Each new form will introduce new unique mechanics that will be needed to solve the different puzzles.
The puzzles are typically math, logic, and physics based. Some of the puzzles or obstacles have an element of timing or luck involved which can be a little annoying after multiple restarts.You can brute force some of the puzzles while others require a little more time and effort as a wrong answer results in death and a restart from checkpoint. We found a few of them to be harder than they should be due to the “answer key” or clues being too small and hard to see due to the lighting or issue with the controls or physics. Most of the puzzles will have different solutions when reloading which will either keep you thinking or frustrate you depending on how you feel.
One thing is for sure, the developer does not believe in holding your hand. They give only the bare minimum of instruction at the beginning of the game. The rest is up to you to learn through trial and error. As a result, some of the puzzles will take a few deaths to figure out what you need to do.
The game has 4 different endings that are determined by the extra puzzles you solve or not while playing through the levels. It has 48 different levels and can be completed in a few hours.
7th Sector is available now on Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch, Windows and Steam. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
Music Racer From AbstractArt and Sometimes You
A futuristic driving rhythm game and light show.
You select your vehicle, the music track, the game mode, and the level. Your objective is to collect the notes by driving over them while avoiding red obstacles. At the end of the level you’ll see how many notes you hit, your combo, your score, and how many stars you earned out of 3.
The controls are simple. You only use the d-pad or the left thumb stick to move left or right on the road while driving. There is no acceleration or braking. You could play this game one handed if you wanted to.
It has retrowave style graphics with a lot of neon. The levels are extremely colorful and the game has a photosensitivity warning before you start the game. This warning is well deserved. If you have any issues with bright or flashing lights you should stay away. While our reviewer doesn’t have any issues with photosensitivity they did find that they could only play for a maximum of an hour at a time due to the eye strain from the light.
The audio is good and the soundtrack is enjoyable. The game has a large track list with 23 songs you can pick from.
There are 14 different levels you can choose from and you can choose any song to play on the level. You can also choose from any of 25 different vehicles; one of which is a giant bird.
Most of the cars will look familiar. They feature the Delorean from Back to the Future, KITT from Knight Rider, the TRON bike as well as a bunch of other well known vehicles. You can customize the color of the car and rims which adds to the enjoyment of the game.
The game has 4 different modes to fit your mood.
- Standard: You drive over the notes and try to avoid the red obstacles. Hitting obstacles breaks your combo, reduces notes collected, and slows you down.
- Hard: Same premise as Standard but with a greater penalty for hitting an obstacle. Instead of just breaking your combo it ends your run.
- Zen: A more relaxed game mode without any obstacles to worry about. You can freely “zen-out” collecting notes and enjoying the music.
- Cinematic: Puts you in the passenger seat instead of the driver’s seat allowing you to move the camera around and enjoy the scenery. There are no notes to collect. Just a relaxed audiovisual experience. It reminded us a little of the experience of watching the visualizations on media player or winamp in full screen.
We did wish that there was an option to create a playlist for the Cinematic mode as it would be a great addition to have playing in the background of a party. It would also be nice to be able to upload your own music and extend your playtime.
Sadly there is no leader board or any sort of internal tracking that shows what songs you have or haven’t played or what your current high score/star count is. Score is only used as ingame currency to unlock some of the cars and levels. Fortunately, you can replay the same levels and songs over and over and continue earning more currency.
A very bright audiovisual experience. Good music selections to choose from. You might need sunglasses.
Music Racer is available on Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
Williams Pinball: Volume 5 From Zen Studios
A DLC pack of 3 Pinball Tables for PinBall FX3
This is a classic pinball game that harkens back to long hours spent at the arcade. All of the tables let you toggle between a snazzy animated landscape and the original version of the tables at any time. Seeing the tables in the original version really adds to the nostalgia and captures the feel of playing the tables in person. The animated versions are fun and provide more interaction than their more static counterparts.
Each table has a great animated LED Score screen. They also each have a skippable intro that gives you history on the table.
No Good Gofers
A golf themed table that reminds me a little of the Caddyshack film as you are harassed by a pair of gophers. The table is really colorful and has a cartoonish look and the animated golfer freaking out breaking his clubs and tossing them around was nicely done and fit the table.
Out of the 3 tables in the pack this table seems to be the simplest and is the only table to have a 3rd flipper. That’s right, a 3rd flipper. It’s on the right side in the upper part of the table and is tied to the traditional right flipper. It’s nice having the assistance getting a little more oomph out of your shots but requires some quick reflexes to take the best advantage of it.
This table has a Circus theme. You have the option to change the color of the neon lights and the ball before you start the table. The table is very colorful and has more lights on it than the other tables in this pack.
One of our favorite things about this table is the Greenfaced Ringmaster. In the animated version he taunts you and dances around on the side talking smack everytime you make a mistake. In both the animated and physical version of the table his head pops out at the back of the table and opens a target for you to shoot with your ball. After all that taunting it’s rather satisfying to knock him in the noggin a time or two when you get the chance.
Tales of the Arabian Nights
This table takes us through several of the Tales of the Arabian Nights. There is a huge Genie, a flying carpet, and fireballs in the animated version. The original version has a physical genie and both versions of the table have a magic lamp that spins around on the table when you hit it with the ball. The lamp is an interesting twist that introduces some extra challenge to the table. Depending on the position of the lamp, different pathways are either open or blocked. This introduced a much higher level of challenge for scoring but also a really fun mechanic.
With the addition of the extra obstacles on this table it requires a lot of skilled shots to make it through the challenges or to successfully complete any of the stories from the Tales.
Whether you’re a pinball wizard or not, this expansion offers something fun and can help you while away many hours.
Williams Pinball: Volume 5 is available on Android, Mac OSX, PS4, Switch, Windows, Xbox One and iOS. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
This review is based on a Preview copy of the game that was provided to us for the purpose of reviewing the game. The final version may have differences from what we experienced.
Don’t Die, Minerva! From Xaviant
A Rogue-lite, twin stick shooter, with RPG elements.
You play as a little girl named Minerva along with her stuffed animal companion, who finds a group of haunted houses. You have to make your way through 3 different buildings, clearing the rooms by defeating evil ghosts, collecting gold, and stopping the Master who is the boss character on the top floor of each of the buildings.
The game has a Luigi’s Mansion feel with the way you go into the rooms to clear out the enemies by using light. The primary difference is that here you aren’t vacuuming up the enemies.
The gameplay is pretty simple and becomes a little repetitive as there is no story element included at the time of this writing. Once you complete the game you are able to replay it on a harder difficulty while keeping all of the upgrades you unlocked during your first playthrough (New Game+).
They made an unusual choice with the soundtrack. There is only music while the enemies are on screen after that it fades away and you are left with nothing but the sound effects of your character walking around. The musical selections seemed incongruous. Sometimes it was what one would expect it to be, a little eerie and combat appropriate, while other times it was upbeat and just felt weird.
One of the most fun mechanics is the stuffed animal companions. They were a lot of fun to use, had good variety in their area attacks, and were my weapon of choice simply because of how much I enjoyed using them. They do have a cooldown period but it’s fairly quick to recharge, especially with the right upgrades.
They’ve also combined stamina and mana together into one gauge so dodging/rolling and attacking with your stuffed animal of choice or flashlight will all deplete your blue energy bar. Fortunately your energy regenerates automatically. Your health, however, does not. But they do give enough health pickups as well as energy boosters throughout the levels to help keep you moving in the right direction.
You get loot drops from defeating enemies and looting chests or breakable items. You also have the option to purchase items from the store; more on that a little later. You can use these items to swap out your flashlight, equipment, and stuffed animal companion for more powerful versions. Each item has base abilities/powers and the option to add a stone to add an elemental damage attribute. They also have a rarity mechanic that keeps things interesting and almost scratches that “loot collecting” itch of always trying to find better and more powerful loot. If you do an excessive (some might say obsessive) degree of looting and upgrading you might feel a little overpowered at some stages but it’s absolutely required in order to be successful against some of the more powerful enemies you encounter in later levels.
Each of the buildings has its own groups of enemies that you will kill over and over again. Every once in a while a new type or variant of the same enemy is added. Some of them can only be attacked a certain way as they are able to block damage. This adds a bit of variety and challenge to the combat and helps save it from what would otherwise feel rather stale and monotonous.
There also appears to be a limit on the amount of enemies that will spawn in the room at one time depending on the size of the room. This will be helpful during the harder difficulties or for younger players.
The whole map is procedurally generated. Each floor of the building is considered its own level. Each level has multiple rooms, a fountain, and an elevator that takes you directly to the next floor. You have one opportunity per level to return to the courtyard and buy items or upgrades. To do this, you’ll toss a coin into the fountain and open a portal. You return via the same portal and from there your only option is finishing the level by finding the key and reaching the elevator. The procedural generation adds some variety to the game. Each room has a unique look and feel. This also adds some degree of replayability to the game since it won’t be exactly the same every playthrough. Because of the limitations on returning to the courtyard to purchase upgraded items or skills, it’s important to loot the levels so you don’t end up underpowered.
The courtyard is where you can interact with the friendly ghosts associated with each tower you’ve unlocked. The ghosts have unique skills you can unlock by purchasing them from the ghosts using the “essence” you’ve collected. There is also a shop area in the courtyard where you can spend your coins on new equipment and stones. There is a good balance between the cost of items and the amount of coin you’re likely to have after completing the levels.
We have run into a few issues with the controls not responding for a few seconds here or there, clipping into fountains and getting stuck, and some audio issues. We know the game is currently in Game Preview and is not completed at this time so hopefully some of those issues will be resolved in the final version.
A simple and fun twin stick shooter. Sometimes feels like the game isn’t sure what genre it wants to be.
Don’t Die, Minerva! will be available on Xbox One and Windows. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
The Adventures of Elena Temple: Definitive Edition From GrimTalin
A monochromatic 8-bit retro platformer.
In typical platformer fashion, your objective is to explore and move around the level by jumping from platform to platform, collecting coins, gems, and chests, placing crystals on pedestals, and shooting jars for a chance to find hidden coins. You will also need to evade the traps (spikes, saws, and arrows that come from everywhere) and of course there are enemies to evade or kill (scorpions, snakes, and bats). There are a couple of special enemy types that cannot be killed and must simply be avoided; spiders and ghosts. The spiders have an interesting mechanic associated with them that makes them more of an obstacle than an enemy.
You can jump, shoot, and move left and right. As you might have gathered, the controls are pretty simple and they work pretty well. Your character will generally turn and jump the way you would expect her to. Your gun can only hold two bullets at a time and shoots straight ahead in whichever direction you’re facing. You’ll want to bear this in mind when planning your ammo pickups. You’ll also need to be careful not to waste too many shots. If you find yourself out of ammo and out of pickups, fear not, you can leave the room and come back to respawn the ammo pickups. Besides enemies, you can also shoot the many vases scattered around the levels as well as a few destructible walls.
There are platforms that will move left to right or up and down once you are standing on them as well as ones that will dissolve after a second of standing on it. We ran into a few issues with the moving platforms getting in the way and stopping us from being able to access the area we wanted to access. Traveling to a different room and back again reset them and we were able to complete the objective by trying a different method or order of steps. You’ll find that you often have to travel between rooms to complete puzzles because you’ll need an object from one room to trigger something in the next. This is especially true for accessing blocked off areas found further in on each of the levels.
In the first 2 temples you have unlimited lives, which is a good thing because everything in the game will insta-kill you. Picking up an item and traveling to a new screen both function as a checkpoint so when you die you will respawn at the beginning of that screen or wherever the last item pickup was located. This allows for some strategy to come into play which becomes important and useful in some of the later rooms.
The 3rd temple is different. There are fire pits around the map that serve as checkpoints when you reach them. You also have semi-limited lives. When you die, initially you will respawn the same way you did in the earlier temples. But when you run out of hearts, you’ll be sent back to the last fire pit you reached. These fire pits that serve as checkpoints also fully refill your lives. There are also items you can pick up to increase your total number of lives. Some of these can refill your lives when picked up.
The map can be accessed by pressing the “+” on your Nintendo Switch. It is your friend and can be accessed at any time. You’ll find it very helpful for tracking where you are in relation to your objective. It is a very simplified map that really only shows the outlines of the rooms and where the doors are.
The chiptunes soundtrack and sound effects fit the retro feel perfectly and go nicely with the artstyle. They chose to do something interesting here with the visuals for the game as you’re playing the game on a system within your system. In game you can use the bumpers at any time to cycle through playing the game on a TV, a Computer Monitor, or an OG Gameboy among other options. Each game system has its own color scheme and backdrop of a different room. You can choose one based on which you prefer. You can use the triggers to zoom in or out depending on how much of the backdrop you want to see or how much of the in game screen you want filling your screen. So you’re playing on your real world gaming system and then on the virtual world gaming system inside it. It’s truly emulating the time period the retro graphics came from.
There are 3 different temples to play from and each one has its own gimmick. The first Temple “Chalice of the Gods” is relatively simple and a good beginners introduction to the game.
The second temple “The Golden Spider” builds on what you learned in the first temple. It is more challenging and becomes frustrating at times as you have to first locate orbs that need to be placed on a pedestal. If you die before placing the orb on the pedestal you’ll lose the orb and have to go back, sometimes several rooms away, to pick it up again. It also has platforms that move when you jump making you think before you jump to ensure you land on the platforms.
The third level “The Orb of Life” has an interesting twist with checkpoints discussed above and portals that allow you to teleport to other locations or rooms. We liked the additional puzzle elements introduced with the portals and checkpoints.
You are able to get different unlockables/modifiers like Double Jumps, Infinite Ammo, Rhino Armor, Campfires, and Limited Lives that can be toggled on or off at the beginning of the level and change the gameplay by making it easier or harder depending on which you have toggled on. Most of these will unlock by completing the temples. However, the Rhino Armor (which is SUPER handy and makes you unkillable) can only be obtained by taking a path that is outside the normal map.
A fun, classic platformer with a variety of obstacles and mechanics. A retro classic worth playing for a well done slice of nostalgia.
The Adventures of Elena Temple: Definitive Edition is available on Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Steam and Itch.io. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the 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 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 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 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.
We Were Here from Total Mayhem Games
An Online only Co-op Puzzle Game
You are one of a pair of explorers who got lost in a blizzard. You found and entered a castle to escape the storm only to wake up separated from your partner.
One of the players will be the Explorer and the other player will be the Librarian. Communication is key in this game. The Explorer is presented with several puzzles that must be solved but they only have access to part of the information necessary. The Librarian will have the other parts needed to find the answers. Without good communication about what you’re each seeing and able to do, you won’t be able to make it through. Each of the roles provides a different perspective of the levels and a unique game experience.
The game has an interesting mechanic surrounding communication. When you first wake up, each of you will have a walkie talkie nearby that you have to pick up and use to communicate with each other. You’ll need to press a button to pull up the walkie talkie and speak to the other player. This can become a little frustrating at times if/when you forget to push the button and wonder why your co-op partner isn’t responding to what you say or ask.
There are a total of seven puzzles in the game. The early puzzles are relatively easy and fun with good communication between partners but the later ones start to become more challenging as they have more steps involved to locate the answers to solve the puzzles. They also introduce the possibility of death from obstacles or timed events that happen if you don’t finish the level quickly enough.
The game does a good job creating a haunted castle look and feel. There are torches for light, stone walls and floors, and things disappearing just out of sight around corners and on the edge of your field of view. The music and audio effects are also very effective at setting the mood. Each level has different music and the sounds experienced by each player are different from each other.
It also has 2 different endings depending on what choice you make at the very end of the game.
Like most puzzle games, once you know the puzzles you are able to run through them pretty quickly. But be careful, just because you already know the answer doesn’t mean you can do it without your partner still doing their part. We suggest playing the game twice so you can play each of the roles to get the full experience of the game.
An enjoyable puzzle game that is HEAVILY dependent on clear and precise communication between teammates. Online only co-op.
We Were Here is available on Xbox One and Steam
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.
Restless Hero from Restless Corp
A 2d pixel art Dungeon Adventure
It has a retro 16 bit art style reminiscent of Super Nintendo and a simple soundtrack. Sadly the soundtrack is the same for all of the levels which starts to become repetitive.
The movement in the game is simple but effective. You move around the level jumping over enemies and obstacles, and scaling walls to get to higher areas. Water is also an obstacle since your character can’t swim and you will be insta-dead if you land in any.
The controls are very basic. One button for jumping and another one to use your super power. Combat is almost non-existent given that your only options are to jump over them and run away or use a super power to blow them up.
The super powers are pretty straight forward. The first one restores your health, the second one lets you destroy enemies and traps when you come into contact with them, and the third gives you a shield that lasts for a few seconds and lets you come into contact with the enemies without taking damage. This gives you three strategies for getting through the levels.
While moving around the levels you will find a variety of pickups to assist you. There are green potions which are the in-game currency, hearts to refill your health, lightning bolts to refill your super powers, and two chests per level that give you a gold bar when opened. The gold bars are almost equivalent to player levels. When making purchases there is a minimum gold bar requirement along with a price in potions but the gold bars are not spent; you retain them. They’re just there to make it harder to grind out a bunch of stuff early on since you have to play further and find more chests to collect more gold bars.
There is a shop located on most every level. They are where you can purchase items or change which super power you have equipped and make a one time purchase of an additional gold bar. Shops are the only way you can swap out your powers after your initial selection.
Every few levels you’ll meet up with a witch. She’ll ask you a question and you’ll have two options to choose from for response. The final choice is the only one that makes a difference in which ending you see.
The 22nd level (out of 30) was different as it was a kind of a race level. You are being chased by the smoke monster that you see on the title screen when loading the game. The smoke monster will one hit kill you and you are unable to kill it.
The later levels become harder by adding more enemy types as well as removing mid-level checkpoints. Choosing the correct super power becomes much more important at this point.
While playing on Xbox we noticed an interesting twist for the achievements. They do not auto pop like most other games. They need to be “claimed” from the main menu in the store before they will unlock.
The game is fun and enjoyable for a pick up and play game if you have 15-20 minutes here or there to play through a few levels. Completing a level and collecting both of the gold bars hidden on it will award you with a medal for the level. After earning medals for every level the game loses replayability. The only reason to keep playing it after that would be to collect more potions to spend in the shop and finish upgrading your super powers.
Fun retro platformer. Basic controls and repetitive soundtrack.
Restless Hero is available on Xbox Play Anywhere, IOS and Android. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.