game review

SteamWorld Quest: A Review

SteamWorld Quest: A Review
Gamer Heroes

 
 
00:00 / 9:05
 
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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: www.imageform.se/game/steamworld-quest

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!

Music:

  • District Four Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
    Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
    http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/
  • SteamWorld Quest theme loop recorded in-game on Nintendo Switch

SteamWorld Quest: A Review

OVERWHELM Game 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.

Music:

  • District Four Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
    Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
    http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/
  • 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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SERIOUSLY THIS GAME IS COOL AS HELL JUST LOOK AT THIS

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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YEAH HELL YEAH

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.

Music:

  • District Four Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
    Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
    http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

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