Lonely Mountains: Downhill Switch Review

It’s a warm, sunny day. The breeze whooshes past as you speed quickly down the trail. As you continue, your speed increases; there’s a turn! You apply the brakes and drift right, avoiding a painful collision with a rock. On the other hand, maybe you’re me and you slam right into it, ending your run. Thunderful’s latest game from developer Megagon Industries, Lonely Mountains: Downhill, takes you through some treacherous mountain bike trails filled with twists, turns, jumps, ramps, trees, rocks, and broken pieces from all the times I’ve crashed…. okay, that last part is a joke.

Official Description from Thunderful

The Lonely Mountains are waiting for you! Explore rocky mountain slopes with your bike, jump over sandy gorges or find your way through the foggy forests. Each Lonely Mountain awaits you with new challenges! Sprint, jump and slide to find your own way to the finish line. Explore the detailed mountain worlds or face the ticking clock – with every success you unlock new bikes, paintwork and outfits piece by piece. Train your skills day and night, improve your place on the leaderboards and ultimately compete with the best riders in the world in the risky Free Ride mode.

My Thoughts

That description sums it up nicely. It’s a sweet game with a simplistic beauty to its basic polygon graphic approach. It’s clean, tight, and smooth in its performance. The sound effects are surprisingly crisp and realistic, adding a true depth to the game. The graphics are pretty and cute with an odd sense of detailed simplicity. I love the trees. They feel almost as if they are stop-motion animated, which is wonderful. Other natural elements include rocks, rivers, grass, and small plants. Not much else blankets the scene, no bears or deer from what I can tell, for example.

Frankly, I found it quite difficult. In my time with the game, I’ve explored one of the four mountains you can unlock as well as two of its trails. Each trail includes multiple difficulty modes that provide varying challenges. Challenges include limiting the number of crashes or completing in under a certain time. Some, called “Cross the Finish Line”, remove all of the checkpoints, making it even more difficult to get all the way through a run. The initial trail, Graterhorn Trail 1, has 6 checkpoints throughout. My best time is 2:45.77, for example.

Now, let’s talk game play. The controls are simple. You accelerate with ZR, break with ZL, steer with the left Joy-Con joystick, and can sprint with A. There are three steering modes: Left/Right, Left/Right Inverted, and Screen Based. I find the latter to be the most difficult for me to use, personally. Now, as you go, you’ll pick up speed going downhill, especially if you stay on the path. The main issue here is that if you hit something going fast enough, you’ll crash. This will cause you to restart from the previous checkpoint or beginning of the map. Why is this an issue? Well, without an speedometer or gauge, it is difficult to know the line between slow enough to graze the rock or tree and fast enough to crash into said rock or tree. I’m sure it gets easier over time but I found it frustrating, especially during timed trials.

Let’s move on to customization. There are some personal cosmetic options including multiple helmet types, skin tones, hair, and facial hair options. Additionally, there are multiple bikes. You begin with the Grasshopper and work your way toward the Geronimo, which I feel looks the coolest. Each bike has a different set of stats including stability, agility, acceleration, among others.


Overall, I think it’s a relatively solid game that looks easier than it is. If you’re looking for a challenging cycle game with pretty graphics, you’re in luck. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a quiet, casual ride through the woods, I don’t think this is for you.

Lonely Mountains: Downhill is available digitally for Nintendo Switch now and was previously released on PC, Xbox One, and PS4. It’s standard price is $19.99.

Lonely Mountains: Downhill Switch Review

Ash Princess, Spellbound’s Book of the Month

I feel a little stuck while starting this, as it’s been years since I’ve written any sort of review or book report. But with the addition of the Spellbound podcast to my life, I feel compelled to discuss all of the fantasy that I absorb. Therefore: a book of the month is born! For January, I’ve selected Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian.

I almost read fantasy exclusively, from the beautiful and familiar, to the irreverent and whimsical, to the brash and violent worlds it can produce. I can’t imagine I will be hard-up for content, but as my life is absolutely jam packed, I will do my best to bring you consistent book recommendations.

Before I dive deep into the review, I will always let you know if the book was read or listened to and the benefits or drawbacks of both. I promise that, even if the book isn’t for you, the books I recommend will always be good. Fantasy can often be formulaic junk that is slapped with a catchy title and mass produced in hopes of big blockbuster dreams. I do my best to weed through those and will not recommend them. And unlike the Spellbound podcast (listen every Friday), I won’t be diving into spoilers because I would rather you read the books too!

The Book:

Ash Princess  by Laura Sebastian

Image result for Ash Prince novel cover

Release: 2018

Official Blurb*:

Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Queen of Flame and Fury, was murdered before her eyes. Ten years later, Theo has learned to survive under the relentless abuse of the Kaiser and his court as the ridiculed Ash Princess.

When the Kaiser forces her to execute her last hope of rescue, Theo can’t ignore her feelings and memories any longer. She vows revenge, throwing herself into a plot to seduce and murder the Kaiser’s warrior son with the help of a group of magically gifted and volatile rebels. But Theo doesn’t expect to develop feelings for the Prinz.

Forced to make impossible choices and unable to trust even those who are on her side, Theo will have to decide how far she’s willing to go to save her people and how much of herself she’s willing to sacrifice to become Queen.

(*this is the official publisher-written blurb and not my own words)

Response to the blurb:

Personally, I think this summary leaves the reader feeling a bit underwhelmed. It sounds too stereotypical, too cookie cutter, which is absolutely unfair to this novel. While the blurb is technically accurate, these pages have so much more to them.


Audio book versus paper

Don’t be surprised that a YA novel isn’t perfect. It suffers from the tragic heroine in love triangle trope (more on that later). Listening to the audio book means I didn’t actually see the words on the page and just reading the word “Prinz” now annoys me. His title is always pronounced “prince” by the narrator and I never would have thought otherwise. This also presents an issue when trying to understand the fantasy languages.

The Drama

The novel gets off to a heartless start and it is imperative that you push through. This isn’t ideal. You’re not invested and it comes off callous of the main character, Theodosia/Thora. However, the drama pays off, and the traumatic actions she is forced to take in the first few chapters lingers with her and you for the entirety of the book.

Spirit What Now?

I do take some issues with the way that magic is presented in the book. Some of the people possess abilities to control/use the elements and they are enhanced with spirit gems found in mines. While this itself could be the premise of a book, it’s not focused on as much as you’d think. Maybe that’s because it’s not a spirit gem book, but a Theodosia book. Maybe it’ll be explored more in the two sequels. It’s just an interesting component of the world that’s too brief for me.

Cookie Cutter Cover Art

Lastly, the name and the cover image is completely off-putting to me as a reader. I get that these kinds of titles and designs are almost required for modern fantasy but I truly miss the days of fantasy novels looking like ancient tomes that you’ve been questing for years to find. In fact, the title was so distracting that it took me almost a year to download it. I’d listen to a book, and it would pop up in my recommended titles, then I would ignore it and start another book. It was recommended so many times, that I finally gave in (art has the tendency to wear me down more than people do). If this is also an issue for you, it does not remain one for long.

The Good Stuff:

The Ash Princess

Theodosia is the type of believable heroine that I love. Her choices are well thought out, even when they are reckless, which is almost impossible to do. Her faults are understandable and connect with the audience. At times, she is too kind or too trusting to the dangerous characters that surround her, but when you realize that a lot of it is done out of self-preservation, it is easy to forgive her. The author doesn’t take it easy on her, either. The character goes through multiple ordeals that should change a person to their core, and while no one moment is pivotal to her change from survival to rebel, all of them slowly change her over time.

The Love Triangle

I promised I’d mention the love triangle and I will: this is easily the best love triangle I’ve ever seen set up in a YA novel. It’s not the typical trope where the men are constantly vying for her affection. She doesn’t kiss anyone when she should be fighting. She doesn’t sacrifice herself at any point for a man. Her first suitor, the Prinz, is an odd choice for a lover considering his own background, but he becomes the obvious one when she plans to seduce him for leverage. The other man is a childhood friend who has been a slave worker for many years and has recently escaped. Neither ends the novel in a particularly stand-out position. Neither relationship is ideal. The best part of all of this is Theodosia recognizes that.

The Supporting Cast

Continuing on this theme, the rest of the characters are just as wonderful as Theodosia. You feel the multi-faceted traits that are found in real people. The vapid friend is also calculating and capable. The cruel general is also merciful. The mass of rebels vary from the angry, to the dense, to the scared, to the passionate, to the resilient. No one is simply one archetype.

The Plot Thickens

The story has some unexpected twists that only enhance the story. There’s one at the end that made my heart jump a bit! They add some thrilling components instead of hurting the plot with unnecessary subversion.

Final Thoughts:

Ultimately the book did its job. I was entertained, and now I am invested in the continuing saga. Part of me hopes that the author will expand this world, discuss other countries that have been affected by the conquering, or come up with more thrilling heroes to follow.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars!

Be sure to check out Spellbound podcast every week for in-depth looks into fantasy television!

Ash Princess, Spellbound’s Book of the Month

RTX 2019 Indie Roundup!

What’s happening everyone? I’m fresh back from RTX 2019 and boy howdy was it great. There were some incredible panels, lots of things to do on the show floor, and I made some wonderful memories with some wonderful friends. But you aren’t here to talk about how much fun I had; you’re probably here to read about some VIDEO GAMES.

(Also shout-out to my friends at Pack O’ Geeks for letting me tag along with them while they took a look at these games. Go check ’em out!)

Without further ado, presenting my new, 1-part segment:


Agent Reverb (Diogras Inc)
Android / iOS | Available now!

hexagons with lines closing down on them to the beat

Image from Agent Reverb Google Play page

As I walked up to the booth for Agent Reverb, the staff welcomed me with a warm greeting of “Welcome! Do you like rhythm games?” and I knew I was exactly where I needed to be. I actually didn’t get a chance to really play this game on the show floor; there were some audio/visual latency issues since they had the phone playing the game mirroring the display and sound to a TV, so everything was out of sync. They handed me a card with the phrase “agent, we have reports that a dragon has staked a claim on the Washington Monument…will you accept this mission?” written in comic sans, and pulled out my phone right in front of them and downloaded the game.

Agent Reverb is pretty neat. It’s about 70% touch-screen rhythm game, 20% idle game, and 10% action B-movie, but it seems to work out! The story is ridiculous and silly, but the game absolutely knows this. Seriously, just take a look at the incredible website. You earn volts for hitting notes, which can be used to unlock new stages and songs. Those same volts can also be used to buy robots that passively generate volts for you over time. The base game itself is free, with ads after every stage you complete, but you can kick them $2.99 USD to remove those ads, gain some premium currency, and gain a permanent volt generation bonus. Some of the songs do feel like they go on a little bit too long for my tastes, but overall I’m enjoying Agent Reverb as a fun little thing to check in on every few hours.

Swimsanity! (Decoy Games)
Switch / Xbox One / PS4 / Steam | Available Summer 2019! | Trailer

a 4-player cooperative game in progress

Image from Decoy Games press kit

As far as the indie games at RTX goes, this one was always a packed house; for good reason too. Swimsanity! is an incredibly fun 4-player local multiplayer madhouse.  The game is a pretty floaty twin-stick shooter, but the floatiness really worked well here. I always felt complete control of my character, but it did take a second to get used to the feel. The demo we tried had both the local competitive and cooperative multiplayer options available. We started up with the competitive multiplayer, and true to its name, it got insane fast.

Before each match every player picks an ultimate ability they can use, and the game turns into this flashy madhouse with abilities and power-ups firing off constantly.  From there we moved to the cooperative mode, which was hands down my favorite. Each player picks their ultimate as usual, but you’re able to stack them if multiple players fire them off at the same time. Doing so earns your team bonuses towards your next ultimate, which really encourages communication within your team. Each wave of the horde of enemies you’re fighting off only has a 1 minute timer, meaning that in order to progress you have to defeat all the enemies in the allotted time. It was really cool to see the various ultimate abilities and power-ups work in concert with each other. Swimsanity! is an absolute blast and manages to stay afloat in the busy sea of local multiplayer games coming out lately.  I simply cannot wait for this to release.

Alluris (562 Interactive)
Steam / Xbox One | Available Summer 2019! | Trailer

event card showing The Kraken attacking, with the player leaning towards the decision

Image from Alluris Steam Page

Now Kam, you might ask, what if I love a good text adventure game AND the meaningless anguish of endlessly swiping on my dating app of choice? Are there any video games out there for me? Enter Alluris, a self-described “swipe-your-own-adventure” game that I think is going to be a real problem for me when it comes out. The game starts with you choosing a gender (male, female, and non-binary are options, which was great to see), race, and class. I rolled with a non-binary Dwarven wizard because I wanted how the game handled it and I was pleasantly surprised to see my choices come up quite frequently in my various adventures. For instance, I won every single drinking contest I came across because I chose a Dwarven character.

The choices you make and paths it can open up go even deeper than that; I found a lute during my adventures and about 50 or so days later paid for some lessons so that I could learn to play it. Since I had that musical skill, every single inn that I would stay at going forward was half-price since my character would perform for a discount. I absolutely wish I had some more time with this game. My demo session was around 45 minutes, but I kept thinking about wanting to try out a different race or gender tp see what types of things I could get up to. Alluris is currently set for release on Steam and Xbox One, but the developer working the booth told me they were targeting mobile platforms as well, which sounds absolutely perfect.

Swapette Showdown (3D Generation)
Steam | Available 2019!

four boards filled with puzzle blocks during a 4-player match

Image from Swapette Showdown Steam page

Hey, remember Pokemon Puzzle League and Tetris Attack? So does 3D Generation with their spiritual successor, Swapette Showdown! For the unfamiliar, you swap blocks left and right in order to match three of the same block together. Making matches and chaining them together sends blockers over to your opponents. Once the blocks in a board reach the top that player is knocked out, and last player standing wins! I never spent a ton of time with this type of puzzle game, I was always more into to Tetris or Lumines, but I did see some high-level play from some other convention attendees and was really impressed with the height of the skill ceiling.

The demo I played had five playable characters, each with a different offensive and defensive ability. One character in particular that I didn’t get the chance to mess around with too much, actually rotated four blocks at once instead of swapping two, which does have me excited about possibilities for other characters and how they could change the game. The staff member I spoke with mentioned they’re currently only actively working on a PC release for this title, but would eventually love to bring this to the Nintendo Switch, which I think could do this game a lot of favors. I enjoyed my demo with it and will definitely be picking this one up, if anything to try and improve my game.

Black Ice (Super Duper Game Company)
Steam / | Available now in Early Access!

first-person viewpoint of the neon shape-filled overworld

Image from

Y’all, this game is really cool. Black Ice is a first-person looter-shooter, shlooter???, set in an open-world cyberspace where you hack terminals and fight off the programs trying to stop you. I spoke to the developer before my demo and he told me that he played a whole lot of Quake 3 and it absolutely shows in Black Ice. The movement is very fast and frantic, the enemies are many and relentless, the environments have lots of versatility and encourage exploration. Every weapon, skill, or item you find can be bound to any of the hotkeys listed, so you can really customize how you want to play. The weapons that were available in the demo felt great to use and ranged from a burst assault rifle, to a shotgun, to a disco-ball shoots lasers everywhere. Seriously.

Ever since I was young, I always thought that a first-person shooter hacking game would be just the coolest thing. I’m one of the dozens of people that really enjoyed playing Coded Arms on the PSP, and while that game had the style I wanted, it was a nightmare to control with the limitations of the platform. Black Ice is an absolute blast and is definitely the game I have been wanting and thinking about for years, I just didn’t know it yet. I loved the demo so much that I immediately bought a Steam key from the developer, and I highly recommend that you do the same.

That’s gonna do it for me! Did you go to RTX and check out some of these games? Are there any on this list you’re looking forward to?  Let us know!

Have a great day friends!

Kam really likes video games and being excited about things. When not talking into a microphone for strangers on the internet, you can find him organizing his Pokemon card collection like a huge nerd, perpetually coming in third place at Dave Grohl look-a-like contests, or in a drive-thru for any Taco Bell or Raising Cane’s in the Kansas City Area. Check him out on twitter @TheKamdyman or at his website

RTX 2019 Indie Roundup!

SteamWorld Quest: A Review

SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech is the fifth game in the SteamWorld universe starting back with 2010’s SteamWorld Tower Defense for the 3DS. Since then, we’ve seen two digging platformers in the form of SteamWorld Dig (2013) and SteamWorld Dig 2 (2017), as well as a turn-based RPG in SteamWorld Heist (2015). You can click on the hyperlinks to see my thoughts on some of those games. With that said, SteamWorld Quest is a almost completely different beast. My review here will be primarily spoiler-free but I will note some points and share some images and video from the first 4 chapters of the game.

So let’s begin. SteamWorld Quest is an RPG, that much can be sure. Per Image & Form Games’s press information:

SteamWorld Quest is the roleplaying card game you’ve been waiting for! Lead a party of aspiring heroes through a beautiful hand-drawn world and intense battles using only your wits and a handful of cards. Take on whatever threat comes your way by crafting your own deck choosing from over 100 unique punch-cards!

What awaits you is a luscious treasure chest filled with gold, dragons, vivid worlds, magic, knights in shining armor as well as XP, turn-based battles and all that good RPG stuff! The game’s humorous mix of traditional fantasy and steampunk robots makes for an unforgettable experience with lots of laughs.

Now, let’s shake some of this out. The game is a straight up fantasy RPG with a steampunk style. The steampunk style is in line with the previous SteamWorld games and has come to be one of my favorite video game aesthetics. The animation is lively, bright, unique, and a joy to view. Our three main characters, Armilly, Copernica, and Galleo each fill a relatively standard RPG role. Armilly is our hero though. She is cliche but in a tongue-in-cheek nature.

In fact, the whole game is very self-aware of RPG cliche and that’s just fine. Armilly is essentially our fighter warrior. She has a sword and can increase her strength in battle. Copernica, on the other hand, is our magic barer. She can cast spells of ice, fire, shielding, and more. Finally, Galleo is our tank but reminds me a bit of Overwatch’s Brigitte in that he can provide additional armor and healing while being able to soak up damage.SteamWorld Quest Journey 1

The battle mechanics are really where the game finds its footing, however. As the description says, the battles are turn-based and card-based. Now, when this was initially announced during a Nintendo Direct, I was concerned. Recently, card-based games where you can collect and craft cards have seemed like money pits, pay to win, freemium games. Hearthstone, for example, while a joy to play and really well done, it’s pretty difficult to be competitive without spending a lot of money or playing literally every day. So I was worried this would be similar. Would we be buying individual cards? Blind card packs? Purchasing some kind of dust or in-game currency to craft?

Actually, we don’t do any of that. Not one bit. There aren’t any microtransactions to date. I was shocked but in the best way possible.

SteamWorld Quest Punch-card Tutorial 1

So how does the card-based battle system work? It’s actually pretty interesting and intuitive. You see, at the beginning of a battle, you draw cards. Cards are associated with a specific hero. Strike and Upgrade cards build up Steam Pressure. Steam Pressure is required for Skill cards. For example, if you watch the video below, it shows a single turn. You can see that I play a Strike card but it does not give me enough SP to play by Skill card, Brave Buster, so I play a second Strike card which adds enough SP for me to play the Skill card.

You can play three cards on a turn and eventually you can chain cards together if you play all three from a single hero. In the video below, you’ll see that I was able to use three cards for Armilly. This chaining action adds a fourth card that has an effect, in this case, dealing more damage, but that will vary based on the hero being chained.

As noted before, you will earn new cards throughout the game as you come across treasure chests and level up. Additionally, you can craft cards for your heroes. Crafting cards is fairly simple and is done from the Deck screen. Shaded cards are card types you could craft but have not done so yet. Each card requires specific resources in order to craft it. “To Victory”, for example, requires 250 gold pieces, 5 lustrous fibers, and 10 smoldering ember. Unfortunately, I don’t have enough lustrous fiber, so I cannot craft this card yet.

The story brings our heroes across many different villains ranging from fairly basic characters to those with unique and complicated move sets, including boss level characters like Captain Canary, shown below. Battles range as far as the number of opponents you’ll confront, but the number of heroes you bring into the battle will depend on how many are you in party and how many are still conscious. Tómba, for example, are essentially bomb beetles. While they don’t appear to do much early on, they pack a very serious and deadly punch once they build up enough SP. Confronting these little steambots changed my whole strategy going into battle. I even crafted some cards and altered by decks just to beat them.

SteamWorld Quest Captain Canary

I think that’s all I want to reveal at this time. Overall, SteamWorld Quest is a solid and pleasantly surprising addition to the universe. The card battle system is unique and compelling, challenging and interesting. The characters are a bit corny but that’s clearly on purpose. The art is again, unique. It’s lively, joyful, bright, and appealing hour after hour. The music is bouncy and fun, never feeling repetitive even though I know it repeats. The cheesy characters and story might not be for you, but it hits me strong and I find it a bright spot to my day when I’m able to play. While I do prefer the platformer genre of SteamWorld Dig 1 & 2, SteamWorld Quest has increased by interest in turn-based RPGs. And I think that in itself is a big positive.

If you’ve enjoyed the previous games in this series, especially SteamWorld Heist, I would definitely recommend this new entry in the franchise. If you are looking for a new Indie game and enjoy RPGs with turn-based battle system, I would also recommend this game due to the unique nature of the card battles.

SteamWorld Quest releases April 25th, 2019 on Nintendo Switch for $24.99 USD (€24.99 /£22.49).

You can find additional information on the game through their official website:

Game was played 100% in handheld mode on Nintendo Switch.

A review copy of this game was provided by Image & Form.

Follow me on Twitter @TheStarTrekDude to talk to me about this game in more detail!


  • District Four Kevin MacLeod (
    Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
  • SteamWorld Quest theme loop recorded in-game on Nintendo Switch

SteamWorld Quest: A Review


Kam from Gamer Heroes brings you  his review of OVERWHELM for the Nintendo Switch!  A full written version of the review can be found below:

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Developer: Ruari O’Sullivan| Publisher: Alliance| Platforms: Switch, PC (Steam)

In the interest of full disclosure, a copy of this game was provided by popagenda on behalf of the developer for review purposes. The version played for review was on the Nintendo Switch platform.

Every once in a while, a game comes along that makes you appreciate the medium a little bit more. I hadn’t really run across a game personally that nailed the experience of anxiety and hopelessness until I came across OVERWHELM. It’s tense, it’s hectic, it’s even downright scary at times. True to its name, I was unbelievably tense and worried the whole game, but I just kept coming back for more.

OVERWHELM is a side-scrolling action platformer with some horror elements thrown in. You play as a soldier sent into a heavily-infested series of caverns to combat something ominously referred to only as “the Hive.” The goal is pretty straight-forward from the get-go: collect the five crystals spread around the map, bring them back to the center, and get the hell out. It seems simple, but the game will make you fight and learn for every single bit of progress, only to have you start over again as you inevitably fail. Your entire skill set consists of a dashing punch move, an uppercut double-jump, a single-shot pistol with limited ammunition, and three lives to pull it off. Oh, and you die in one hit. Sounds easy, right?

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Working your way through the various areas in OVERWHELM for the first time is absolutely harrowing. You never know what’s around the corner and whether or not it’s already lined up an attack. Coupled with the incredible sound design that incorporates some deep bass synth tones, petrifying white noise, and the scariest of all, absolute silence, the developer delivers a truly unique horror experience. Nothing about this game is scary in a traditional horror sense (after all, the regular monsters are just small white bunches of pixels) but the emergent feeling of dread and horror created by the always real possibility of immediately losing your run had my heart pounding every time I picked up this game for a session.

Once you lose your first life, you start to be able to see less of the screen, as if you, the player, is getting tunnel vision from being too freaked out to think straight. That effect is only amplified on your last life, too. The tunnel vision obscures your remaining ammunition and the silence is broken with some of the most unsettling white noise I’ve heard in a while. Almost as if to call you out, the game also flashes “LAST CHANCE” boldly in the center of the screen before you go off to try and survive just a little bit longer. Eventually you make it to a crystal, all of which are guarded by bosses that aren’t terribly difficult, but force you to learn their attack patterns and how they work. Once you throw yourself at it enough to finally kill the boss and grab that crystal is really when the magic of this game begins to shine.

Because, as the game says, the hive grows stronger.

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I absolutely love this game’s twist on typical rogue-like elements. Once you finally beat the boss, you don’t get stronger or get a new power up, but the enemies do. It felt like the hive you’re there to destroy has finally acknowledged your presence and starts to fight back and adapt to you. I don’t want to go too much into it since it should absolutely be experienced, but I felt it absolutely worth mentioning since it felt really earned by the nature of how the world works. You do get the benefit of being able to immediately start a run outside the boss room of any boss you’ve beaten so far, which definitely saves you time, but you still start over from the beginning. Getting 3 or 4 crystals only to die to the last boss was genuinely soul-crushing, but still absolutely exhilarating the whole way through. Every victory felt earned and while I do take some minor issues with how your character handles while in the heat of the moment and the occasional sudden death from the unfortunate enemy placement, they made everything feel frantic and stressful.

OVERWHELM isn’t a very long game technically (I’ve seen some speedruns clocking in at about the 15 minute mark) but the amount of time and effort you’re putting forth helps it stay around a little longer. Plus, once you finish the game, you unlock the New Game+ option, which changes up the paths and makes things have more of a set path.

I also want to give a shout-out to the game’s accessibility and difficulty options, because I think they’re brilliant. The menu literally says “Overwhelm is never easy. It’s hard for some. Impossible for others. If you find it impossible, try this:” and directs you to the assist mode, which lets you have infinite lives, ammo, and aim assist, among other tweaks. Those seem like they could ruin the experience, but they absolutely don’t. It doesn’t take away from the tension of knowing the boss can kill you in one hit or the frustration of throwing yourself at a problem you can’t solve. The assists streamline the process, and allows for people to experience the game when they normally couldn’t.

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Are you the type of person that enjoys haunted houses and a steep challenge? If so, then I absolutely cannot recommend this game enough. It’s equal parts rewarding, punishing, and terrifying. The sound and visual design combines to allow for some unsettling effects that feel designed to get inside the head of the player. Even if you aren’t a thrill-seeker, I would definitely say to give it a try! The assist mode options allows the game to still keep the same challenge while allowing the spirit of the game to remain. I could go on and on about how cool this game is, so I’ll wrap it up here with this: play OVERWHELM.

Kam is one of the hosts of the Gamer Heroes podcast, head of content at GGKC, and a passable Dave Grohl look-a-like. Read more of his pretty okay words at his blog, or keep an eye on his regular attempts at humor on twitter @TheKamdyman.


  • District Four Kevin MacLeod (
    Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
  • Overwhelm soundtrack, courtesy of popagenda

Devil May Cry V Review

In his first review, Kam from Gamer Heroes brings you the audio version of his review for Devil May Cry V!  A full written version of the review can be found below:

For some reason or another, I missed every other Devil May Cry game up to this point.  I had always heard that they’re incredibly difficult or that they’re nonsensical and ridiculous or I even just didn’t have the platform for the latest game.  Over time, my tastes (and financial situation) developed to where I was up for a challenge and embraced full-on batshit insanity and was feeling ready to jump into the next entry.  Once I saw the E3 2018 reveal, I felt an emotion that seemed a lot like love at first sight?  My point is, between my perception of what this series is and my infatuation with the announcement, my expectations were set pretty high.  I’m happy to report that it didn’t just meet expectations, but blew them away entirely.  Hell, I’d say this is the coolest video game I’ve ever played.

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Developer: Capcom | Publisher: Capcom | Platform: PC/PS4/XBO

First, let me tell you about how impressively stylish this game is. Think about any game you know of that has an impressive amount of style and coolness associated with it, Persona 5 is a good example. Anyone who fires it up for even 15 minutes or takes a look at some footage can tell just how incredibly cool that game looks and sounds, but at the end of the day, Persona 5, while still a great game, could be separated with the audio/visual style it has and still function on it’s own.  Devil May Cry V‘s style just can’t be removed from the game because it’s just such an integral part in making most of the systems work. Need a way to power up your sword strikes? Great, your sword’s handle is also a motorcycle throttle that sets it on fire when you rev it up. Want a way to charge your meter during a fight? Just pull out a book and recite some poetry while your demon pets fight for you. Enemy too far away? Just hop on your DEMON MOTORCYCLE and RUN THEM OVER. These things not only felt great to pull off, but kept pulling me back in when I absolutely had other games to play. It’s also worth touching on that this game is drop-dead gorgeous. The characters look beautiful and the enemies and environments don’t, but in, like a good way. The new RE Engine that Capcom has put together visually shines with this game and the recently released remake of Resident Evil 2, and has me very excited to see what happens when they push this tech to the limit.

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Not only is the combat super stylish, but also incredibly rewarding. You’re given so many different cool toys to play with and figuring out the best way to take out this giant screaming demon thing was super fun and tense. The cool toys are great and encourage you to play differently depending on the character, but once you unlock the game’s third character, there’s almost no point to playing the others, since he can pretty much do anything. I never really felt the overwhelming sense of accomplishment and pride that comes with beating a big boss in something like Dark Souls, but I sure felt badass while doing it, and I think that’s intentional. The game definitely knows that’s what you’ll get out of this too; every final hit of an encounter has a downright filthy slow-mo effect that had me exclaiming something inappropriate more times than I can count. That’s not to say the game is without challenge (it’s worth noting that my time with the game was mostly spent on the game’s equivalent of Normal difficulty) as the bosses’ reward honestly requires that you become familiar with their patterns to find an opening. The normal mode is pretty forgiving, but each subsequent play-through unlocks more challenging difficulties, so there’s definitely quite a bit of replay value.

Story-wise, there’s really not a whole lot here to write home about. It’s incredibly corny, over-the-top bullshit that you would expect a game about demon invasions and cane-wielding poets to have, and it’s honestly great. With so many games lately that are incredibly deep, meaningful narratives, it’s refreshing to play a great game that doesn’t take itself seriously at all. Playing Devil May Cry V made me feel like I was watching martial arts movies with my friends; we didn’t care about the story, the story is just a vehicle to show you some dope action sequences. It’s a nice reminder that there’s room in this medium for games exploring what it truly means to be alive and fucking up demon bugs with your twin motorcycle hammers.

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In closing, should you play Devil May Cry V? Honestly, yeah, you really should. It’s a downright blast and just when you expect it to cross the line for how ridiculous it can be, it full-tilt sprints right over it and doesn’t even bother drawing a new one. I do take some minor issues with some things like giving one playable character too many tools, some random difficulty spikes, and the padded length of each play-through from having to focus on what every character is doing at a certain point in time, but I can easily forgive Capcom for that, because as an experience, I think Devil May Cry V is unrivaled. It’s engaging, gorgeous, and most importantly, almost every aspect of this game is just pure dumb fun. What’s not to love?

Kam is one of the hosts of the Gamer Heroes podcast, produced by the Heroes Podcast Network, head of content at GGKC, and a passable Dave Grohl look-a-like. Read more of his pretty okay words at his blog, or keep an eye on his regular attempts at humor on twitter @TheKamdyman.


  • District Four Kevin MacLeod (
    Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

HPN Presents: MCU Tournament

(updated April 25nd, 2018 11:10AM CST with the final bracket, details below.)

March Madness is almost over with, but this is a perfect time for us at the HPN to throw our own tournament the only way we know how: pitting great movies against each other and letting our listeners do the dirty work for us!

The Marvel Cinematic Universe will release its 19th film on April 26th, the heavily anticipated Infinity War. We have all waited 10 long years to see this film and have sat through 18 different Marvel showings, some better than others. To celebrate our dedication and fandom, join us in picking what you think is the BEST MCU FILM YET.

The bracket was put together using aggregate sites Rotten Tomatoes, IMDB, and MetaCritic to determine tournament seeds.

Download and fill out your copy below. Don’t forget to follow our social media to vote online and get daily updates on winners! Championship winner announced on April 25th! Will you have a perfect bracket?

IT’S OVER! The MCU Tournament has come to an end. Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who participated! Seriously, if you even voted a single time, thank you! Check out the final bracket below and you can still snag a blank one to create your own for fun.

We had some very close match-ups, specifically Captain America: Civil War beating out both Marvel’s Avengers and Doctor Strange by just a single vote and Avengers: Age of Ultron beating out Spider-Man: Homecoming by just two. Of course, some films crushed the competition, like Iron Man getting over 89% of the vote when up against its sequel.

Haven’t participated yet? Want a clean bracket? Download the Round 4 bracket below or the completely clean bracket at the bottom and keep on voting. Voting happens on our Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. So keep an eye on those accounts and may the best MCU movie win.

HPN-tournament Round Final



HPN tournament

HPN Presents: MCU Tournament

North by Outlands – Review

North is an Indie video game by Outlands that was originally released in April of 2016 on Steam. On March 6th, 2018, it releases on Nintendo Switch. The Switch is quickly becoming the go-to platform for Indie console titles, so North is in good company. Now, North is a relatively short game. In fact, if you know what to do, you could probably finish it in 30-40 minutes but the game anticipates that it should take you about an hour. With that in mind, I am going to do my best to avoid spoilers in both written and visual mediums. It’s a linear story with very few variations and I would prefer not to ruin it for anyone who is looking to pick it up.

Outlands describes the game as:

In NORTH you play a man who applies for asylum in a city filled with strange creatures and strange customs.

Dealing with the issue of the contemporary refugee crisis while at the same time being deeply rooted in a classical cyberpunk atmosphere à la Blade Runner, NORTH features a dark synthpop soundtrack, a sprawling mega-city and weird monster-like inhabitants.

The gameplay is very straightforward and mostly consists of exploration and simple puzzles. The main difficulty is to understand what you have to do in order to get asylum. You’ve come from an foreign land in the south and find yourself lost and confused – a confusion you convey through letters to your sister back home. An important part of the gameplay, these letters help you understand your tasks while at the same time moving the narrative of the game forward.

NORTH is short (20-40 min) and comes with a full soundtrack (8 songs).

North hits some heavy notes and focuses on an intense topic that impacts millions of people around the world. As you complete the game, the overtones and concepts it relays become much more clear. The story really does all tie together in a fairly creepy and unfortunately real way. But let’s start with the basics.

North by Outlands - Mines

It is a first-person game. You do not have hands. You cannot see any part of yourself or anything you may be holding. While this cleans up the screen, I would have appreciated some kind of aiming cross-hair as interacting with certain objects was tedious when using the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller. It is not immediately clear what you are supposed to do but that is the nature of the game. North doesn’t have a menu. You can’t pause or save. There’s no HUD nor indication of health, location, etc. aside from one specific life monitor when you are in the mines, as show in the image above. Instead, all you get when the game begins is what you see below:

North by Outlands - Opening

The graphics are relatively simple and look like they would have been great for a VR game. However, the loading between screens is a problem. It is very buggy. The beautiful soundtrack gets broken up on a regular basis when loading between screens which really takes you out of the moment and feel. With that said, the sound is truly beautiful and reminiscent of movies like Blade Runner and The Neverending Story, two of my personal favorites.

North by Outlands - First Floor City

Speaking of bugs though, I broke the game. You see, there’s a part when you have to go to work in the mines. The atmosphere is dangerous and you have to limit your time in there. My first couple of attempts led to my death and in dying, broke the flow of the game to where I was not able to complete the steps. The arrow markers that were supposed to lead my way to the mine locations I needed to work were no where to be found and I could not interact with the drink machines that were active prior to my death. I found myself stuck and decided to just close the game and relaunch it, starting over. Being that I was about half an hour in, this wasn’t the end of the world and now that I knew what to do, it was much easier to progress.

North by Outlands - Church

I did use some walk through from Steam because the whole Church conversion tied in with the street cameras was not immediately intuitive for me. I think that’s my chief complaint. The game relies a lot on you just figuring things out but since I essentially broke the game during my experimenting, I was also hesitant to do anything I wasn’t fairly confident in. Of course, there are the letters to fall back on. As mentioned earlier, you are sending letters to your sister and as you progress, they tell you vital information about upcoming tasks. Yes, it’s a little weird. Essentially, you perform an action and a letter becomes available to send your sister. In posting the letter, you get to read it and learn what… you… learned. It’s a little convoluted but it’s a solid mechanic that does help you along. So it works.

North by Outlands - Letters

In the end, it’s a short game that does have a solid message about the way many refugees are treated, the hoops we force them to jump through, and how we make them feel about their background and who they are.  There are some technical issues, specifically around loading between events and what happens if you die or do not convert correctly. Hopefully these things will be fixed with patches. I am playing pre-release, so I will cut them a little slack. Also, it’s a dirt cheap game, only $2.99 USD on Switch, making it easily one of the cheapest games on the platform and not a terrible way to spend an hour.

North by Outlands - Police Station

If you’ve played North by Outlands, please hit me up on Twitter @TheStarTrekDude and use the hashtag #northgame. I’d love to talk to you about it.

If you haven’t played and are going to snag it on Switch, also hit me up and let me know! It releases Tuesday, March 5th on the Nintendo Switch eShop.

North by Outlands – Review

A Case of Distrust Review

As soon as you enter the stylish, monochrome world of A Case of Distrust, you can immediately feel the mood this game is trying to set. It’s the 1920s, you’re a down on your luck gumshoe with a troubled past, a former cop who interacts with the seedy underbelly. There’s a lot of fun and winky nostalgia as you talk very seriously to your cat as you lament your empty fridge in the game’s clever tutorial phase.

The game has virtually no user interface. The only persistent element on the screen is a small tab in the corner that allows you to review your notes. It’s a great touch and lets you entirely focus on the story being told through the game’s text blocks and static images.

Case of Mistrust

There are three ways to interact with A Case of Distrust. There are large scenes with objects you can click on that will give you clues or flavor text, there are conversations where you can pick from multiple dialog options, or there is the “Show Notes” interface where you can press for more info or contradict someone’s story by presenting something from your detective’s notebook.

For anyone that’s played L.A. Noire or Ace Attorney or any number of detective games, this will all seem very similar. That’s really the problem with A Case of Distrust, though. The more I played, the more things felt familiar. Not a new take on an existing genre or a nostalgic look at a foregone period, but a tedious attempt to capture the feeling of something else while doing none of the work.

Case of Mistrust

The art for the still images is crisp and stylish and the writing is a fun homage to detective writers like Dashiel Hammett or Raymond Chandler, but when all is said and done you’re basically paying $15 to read a short choose-your-own adventure detective story with pictures. Your notebook fills up with red herrings as you try and press the game’s few characters for information, all of which return stock responses. Progression is linear, there is no fail state.

The game is cute and interesting, but it never quite justifies it’s price tag. The main character’s backstory is a fascinating look at a female cop in the 20s, but you never feel like you get a strong sense of who she is under the layers of PI tropes. Going from place to place can trigger a neat little conversation with a cab driver, but it never amounts to anything. It’s like an informational loading screen when nothing is loading and the information isn’t germane to the game being played.

A Cast of Distrust would be a great game for anyone looking for an introduction to the detective/noir genre in either novel or game form, but it might be a little too familiar for anyone who’s spent some time with Phoenix Wright or Humphrey Bogart.

A Case of Distrust Review

SteamWorld Dig Lands on Switch

For those who don’t listen to our video game podcast, Gamer Heroes, you might not know that I’m a big fan of Image & Form (now part of Thunderful) and their SteamWorld series of games. If SteamWorld Dig Rustyyou’re not familiar with the series, the SteamWorld games follow steam-powered robots in two different game styles. SteamWorld Dig and SteamWorld Dig 2 are both digging platformers while SteamWorld Heist is a turned-based RPG platformer. I’ve spent a lot of time playing these three games and you can find my reviews of them here:

This article is going to focus on the newly released Nintendo Switch version of the original SteamWorld Dig game. It’s priced at $9.99 USD and is available on the Nintendo eShop now.SteamWorld Dig Rusty

Overall, they’ve done a nice job bringing the game to Nintendo Switch. Back when I first played, it was on the 3DS and while it’s still one of my favorite handheld games, the graphics were certainly not HD given the restrictions of the DS hardware line. The game, also being available on Steam, PS4, Vita, Xbox One, and Wii U means that it’s been available in an HD format on other platforms for a while now. In fact, the Nintendo Switch version of the game is the first release of SteamWorld Dig since the 2015 release on Xbox One.SteamWorld Dig Dorothy

Now, I’ve only ever played on 3Ds and Steam. So if you’ve played on Playstation or Xbox and had a totally different experience, please let me know but also keep in mind that I wasn’t exposed to those platforms for this title.

SteamWorld Dig DorothyThe game looks good. Visually, the graphics are nice and hold up well on my HD TV as well as in handheld mode on the Nintendo Switch. Of course, SteamWorld Dig 2 just looks a lot better. While the basic visual style is similar, SteamWorld Dig 2 has a lot more going on with more background animations and minor movements. I think the biggest change for me is the single screen experience. On 3DS, the mini-map, inventory, and some other features display on the bottom touch screen and are easily accessible by clicking on them. The Switch, only having a single screen, handles this by providing the mini-map in the upper right of the game play screen and the inventory on the bottom. Clearly, this works better than it would have on 3DS due to the significantly higher resolution but I truly loved the dual-screen experience on the 3DS. Steam provided a secondary window for the mini-map, which I found a bit clunky, so I would at least rate the Switch version higher in that regard. One cool feature is that the options menu provides a slider for increasing or decreasing the size of the mini-map. I just made it as large as can be, since I primarily play in TV mode.

The game play is solid and smooth for the most part. I do find that the game is a little slower in response when compared to the more recently released SteamWorld Dig 2. So if you are going back to play this one, that felt pretty noticeable. If SteamWorld Dig on Switch would be your introduction to the franchise, then I doubt you’ll notice.SteamWorld Dig Digging View

At the end of the day, I think this is a solid version of the game but I don’t think I can call it the definitive version or anything like that. Where you play the game will likely depend on your personal preference. I think the 3DS version still has a lot to offer but if you’re like me and seem to be playing your DS less and less thanks to the Switch, I’d snag this new release of the game and once you finish, you can move on to SteamWorld Heist, since it’s also available on Switch now.

SteamWorld Dig is a personal favorite of mine and it’s definitely an Indie game worth checking out. If you’d like to hear more of my thoughts on gaming, please check out Gamer Heroes. We have new episodes on Tuesdays and you can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Blog Talk Radio, Google Play, and Spreaker!

‘Till next time… keep on diggin’.

SteamWorld Dig Lands on Switch

Batman and Harley Quinn – Quick Movie Take

Ian and Rae of Costume Couture hit up the Fathom event for Batman and Harley Quinn, a new animated movie focusing on the Dark Knight, Harley, Nightwing, and Poison Ivy. The movie includes legendary Batman voice actor Kevin Conroy and Harley Quinn newcomer Melissa Rauch (Big Bang Theory). The story is by Bruce Timm too!

We’ve got their spoiler-free Quick Movie Take below, so check it out and then see the movie yourself on Blu-Ray August 29th.

Here’s the description from the Fathom One Night Only Event held on August 14th:

From an original story by animation icon Bruce Timm, comes an all-new DC Universe animated movie. Poison Ivy and Jason Woodrue (a.k.a. The Floronic Man) embark on an ecological quest to save the planet – and, unfortunately, eliminate most of humankind along the way. To save humanity, Batman and Nightwing are forced to enlist Harley Quinn to catch Poison Ivy, Harley’s BFF and frequent partner-in-crime. But Batman’s patience is put to the test by the unpredictable and untrustworthy Harley during the twists and turns the reluctant companions face during their bumpy road trip. The result is a thrill ride of action, adventure and comedy no Batman fan has seen before.

Batman and Harley Quinn features a stellar voice cast led by Kevin Conroy (Batman: The Animated Series) reprising his role as the Dark Knight, alongside Melissa Rauch (The Big Bang Theory) making her debut as the irrepressible Harley Quinn. Loren Lester, the voice of Robin in Batman: The Animated Series, returns as Nightwing.

Does this sound like a movie you’d enjoy? Did you see it already? Let us know your thoughts in the comments or hit us up @HeroesPodcasts on Facebook and Twitter!

Batman and Harley Quinn – Quick Movie Take

Ironcast Game Review

Ironcast is a new game coming to Nintendo Switch next week from developer Dreadbit and published by Ripstone. Here’s a little excerpt from the press release to give you a preview:

Ironcast is a turn-based strategy game set in an alternative Victorian history; where refined men and women command gigantic mechanised war machines, laying waste to enemies of the British Empire. As Commanders of the Consortium of Merit, players take control of their own 7 metre tall walking Ironcast to defend 1880’s Victorian England from an invading force of enemy Ironcast.

What I found most interesting about Ironcast is that while it is a turn-based strategy game, it’s not as simple as I fire and then they fire. It combines normal turn-based play with the ever popular icon matching mechanic found in popular titles like Candy Crush and Futurama: Game of Drones. Ironcast includes several different items or icons. Some provide ammo for weapons, others provide power for defensive measures. A third is a coolant that helps keep your systems from overheating. There’s an item for repair work and finally scrap that can be used for upgrades between missions. There are special nodes that pop up from time to time that either boost your matches or allow linking, which is really cool when it lands in the right spot. Linking allows you to, for example, match three ammo then the link and then four power. Since you only get two matches per turn, the links can really help boost your nodes in a time of need.

Ironcast - Matching

To be honest, I’ve never really been a fan of these matching style games and have tried to get on the bandwagon each time a new one hits big. With that said, using this as simply a mechanic in a larger game is a lot of fun and provides a unique twist on standard turn-based strategy games. My girlfriend compares Ironcast to Puzzle Quest and says a lot of the basic mechanics are similar.

You’re given 9 days before the big bad is available to encounter. In those days missions are randomly made available to you. Some are as straight forward as attack and destroy an enemy Ironcast. Others are more complicated, asking you to retrieve certain items or to hold out for a certain number of days. The varying mission types keep the game play fresh. Additionally, you always have options. You’re basically provided three mission options on any given day. They are color coded, some medium difficulty, others hard.

Ironcast - Starting Map

Once the time runs out, you must face the final mission. I’ll be straight with you, my first time around was not successful. I failed one mission because I damaged an enemy Ironcast’s part that I was meant to salvage (more on that in a minute) and then I died during the final battle. Dying is a BIG deal in this game. Death is permanent. Once you die, you’re dead and the game is over. Now items and other unlocked things carry over. It’s as if your people have gained this technology and knowledge and you are stepping in as a new Ironcast pilot the next time around. Think of it like getting all your stuff back from your zombie self in ZombiU but you don’t have to kill your old body.

Now, I do want to complain, for a second, about the missions where you have to retrieve a particular component from an enemy Ironcast. My first time doing this, I had the shields targeted and wanted to harvest the drive. Somehow, even though I was targeting the shields, my weapon hit the drive and damaged it. Mission failed. Just like that. A failed mission results in far fewer rewards, making it harder to repair your Ironcast and essentially wastes a day. Since it was random chance and not a mistake of my own doing, this was pretty frustrating. But hey, if that’s my big complaint, I think we’re ahead.

Anyway, after each mission, you return to base where you can repair your mech and perform upgrades. Upgrades include new weapons, new shields, new armor, etc. Essentially, if it’s something you can use or have damaged during a mission, you can upgrade it at some point. Upgrades are handled via blueprints that are earned at the end of successful missions. They are random, so you might not get the ones you want right out of the gate. Aside from straight upgrades, you can also earn abilities. Some are passive while others are used in battle and take a certain number of turns to recharge. Abilities might include a bonus on your first attack or interfering with the enemy’s ability to repair on their next turn.

Ironcast - Base

Finally, after completing a game (whether you’ve died or won… though let’s just say winning has some unique advantages) you will receive commendations that can be used to unlock new features like new pilots and even new Ironcasts. These new features combined with the randomly generated missions provides for a unique and fresh experience each time you start a new game.

Overall, Ironcast is a fresh take on the simple matching games. The late-1800s steampunk aesthetic is a cool and unique atmosphere that doesn’t feel old or repetitive. While I would have preferred some voice acting since the game is text heavy, the game brings you back to the action quickly. Even though you might start the game feeling a bit cocky and overly confident, it will throw wrenches at you (pun intended), making you pause and think twice before committing your next move.

Ironcast hits Nintendo Switch next week and is currently available for PC, PS4, and Xbox One but playing it on Nintendo Switch provides for several options including a fully touch-enabled experience using the Switch tablet and nothing else. Personally, I played it in TV and handheld modes.

I give the game 4 destroyed mechs out of 5.

(Updated 4:52PM EST Aug 8th 2017)

Ironcast Game Review