Demon Turf – March 2023 Humble Choice

I like 3D platformers as a concept but, admittedly, I haven’t played a ton of them. Which is why I chose to take a look at Demon Turf for this month’s Humble Choice. It has an interesting ascetic and I thought it would provide a fresh gameplay experience. I played about two and a half hours and managed to get through the first set of levels and the boss fight.

The first thing to note is Demon Turf is a 3D platformer with 2D character models. It’s a weird juxtaposition that works better than you would think and gives the game unique style. The environments and the characters all look a little off kilter and the 2D/3D mix adds to that quite a bit. It’s not distracting or overly jarring but it did feel a little weird until I got used to it.

The game world has a cartoony style and almost a hand sketch look to it. I usually like this look for games but the muted colors throughout the hub world , Forktown, and the first zone make the game look dull and very, very, orange. I did check out the second zone and the color pallet is more what I was expecting with some nice and bright colors.

Demon Turf uses the familiar plaformer formula: A zone with a few levels in it, a few optional items hidden in each level to collect, and once you’ve completed enough levels you can take on the zone boss level to unlock the next zone. The levels are short but well designed. It’s fun hunting around for the optional sweets on each level before finishing it. They’re also short, at least in the first zone, which makes this perfect for the Steam Deck or as something to play when you don’t have a ton of time.

The mechanic that I’ve found the most interesting so far is the ability to place your own checkpoints. You’re given four checkpoint flags on each level to wherever you’d like, barring some seemingly arbitrary restricted zones. Most of the levels I’ve played only needed one or two flags placed to get through so there’s a few I’ve used in particularly tricky areas. The only downside is, once placed, they can’t be picked back up but it’s still a cool feature.

If there’s one thing that really shines in Demon Turf it’s the soundtrack. It’s weird and quirky but fits the whole theme of the game perfectly. It’s also feels like a tribute to some older 3D platformer soundtracks as well.

My favorite track so far. It’s some really fun boss fight music.

It’s worth mentioning that there is an alternative gameplay mode called the Tower which seems to take place after the main campaign but can be played at any time. In this mode, Beebz is hexed by the Jester an loses all of her powers. She has to take on a 50 floor tower where every few floors she gets some of her power back like double jumping and placing checkpoints. I tried the first few floors and with only a single jump it was challenging. It offers a fair bit more content if you want to put your platforming skills to the test.

So is Demon Turf worth picking up March’s Humble choice for?  I definitely think so. It’s a solid game that’s fun to play in short bursts. It might not be the most amazing 3D platformer experience you can have but it does 3D platforming very well, has some great level design, and a lot of content. It’s regularly priced at $24.99 so Humble Choice’s $12.99 price tag is a nice 50% discount as well.

Fallout 76 Frustrations – February 2023 Humble Choice

One of the reason’s I like Humble Choice is getting to try out games I wouldn’t have bought in the first place. I’ve found a couple games this way that, at first glance, didn’t look like my thing but turned out to be really fun. Sometimes those games just don’t click for me. Fallout 76 is one of those games this month.

I tend to reserve judgement on games that the wider internet labels as “bad” until I play them. I’ve found too many that have been fun for me over the years that didn’t appeal to the masses. I figured Fallout 76 would be one of those. I remember there being all sorts of drama around it’s launch 5 years ago and then the game seemed to fade away all together. No one I knew was playing it and I kind of just forgot about it until it appeared in this month’s choice. In the spirit of trying new things I decided to take this one for this month’s Blaugust community review.

Here’s my initial impressions after about 2 hours: If you want to play a Fallout game there are better options. If you want to play a survival game there are better options.If you want to play a multiplayer Fallout game this may be your only option.

I came away frustrated from those 2 hours of gameplay. For one, the game kept crashing on me. It crashed on startup, it crashed during character creation, it crashed to desktop while I was playing. Could it be something with my setup? Sure, but there sure was a lot of crashing going on. It didn’t make for a great experience.

Then there’s the inventory system. For a survival crafting game with a lot of materials and items to manage the inventory is beyond clunky. What I want for a survival game is to see my inventory at a glance and it is very hard to do that when your inventory is text based and in one long list. Not only that but in order to find anything you have to sort between the item category tabs. The keyboard and mouse controls don’t make that real intuitive. I get that a Fallout game needs the Pip-Boy in it but it just takes way to long to do anything in your inventory through that interface.

My hastily constructed base.

The whole game was clearly built for consoles and controllers in mind. The keyboard bindings are super weird without a lot of re-binds and even then they can still be awkward. The controls make the building system particularly clunky to use. Keyboard and mouse have awkward bindings and even with a controller it just feels like it takes forever to do anything. I’m not much of a builder in these games but I usually try to give it my best effort. This time I didn’t even attempt to make my base look nice.

It’s not all bad though. The few quests that I did had that signature Fallout style of writing. The combat feels solid and the exploration is fun. The map is large and it seems like a game with a lot to do if you can get past the awkward controls and interface. I can’t, or more accurately, I don’t want to so I’ll be leaving this one collecting dust in my library.

Is Fallout 76 worth buying this month’s choice for? It’s one of the “big” games this month after all. You can probably guess my answer…In my opinion, it’s not worth buying February’s Humble Choice for and, honestly, it’s not worth playing if you do pick up the bundle this month.

A Look at Blade Assault

Blade Assault is 2D, action rouge-lite, platformer with an emphasis on action. It’s available in this month’s Humble Choice and it’s the game I’ve taken for a spin for UnwiseOwl’s communal monthly Humble Choice Review.

The first thing that drew me to Blade Assault was the flashy, fast paced combat featured in the trailer. The combat turned out to be just as satisfying as it looked and has kept me playing for five hours now. The main character, Kil, has three weapons to choose from before each run There are three other unique characters to unlock, each with their own weapon, which keeps things fresh between runs. So far, I’ve mainly played Kil but I’ve tried them all. I enjoyed the few run’s I’ve spent with Zett who has a shield and is much tankier than the other characters making things more forgiving.

Each run consists of a series of stages and bosses. The bosses appear to be in the same order every time with only the stages changing layouts between each run. Each stage consists of two waves of enemies to fight and a third wave, usually with stronger enemies, at the end of the stage. This third wave starts to fill up the threat meter depending on how long it takes to finish the wave. Each time the threat meter is filled up, the difficulty level increases and enemies get fun new modifiers to kill you with.

During the stages you’ll find chests to open that contain gear which applies passive bonuses. At the end of every stage, a core can be upgraded which adds different elemental effects to your primary weapon, sub-weapon, and dash. There are also some that provide passive bonuses like damage reduction, sheilds, crit damage and more. There are others that will enhance or add new effects to a characters active skill as well. The gear and cores are what you’ll make your build around each run. With the difficulty always increasing I’ve found there’s a fine balance between increasing your damage to deal with tankier enemies while also managing your damage reduction, health stat, and MP stat along the way.

Of course, with Blade Assault being a rouge-lite, each time you die you’re sent back to the beginning with currency you’ve obtained along the way to purchase permanent upgrades. There are three types of permanent currency that carry over from run to run, coins, chips, and dice. The coins are used for the character upgrade system. This allows you to purchase passive effects that make your character stronger from run to run. As your character levels up there are additional tiers of passive abilities that open up. I was surprised to find that there is one tree for all four characters so you don’t need to level them up individually. The chips are used to level up the passive abilities on your weapons and also purchase drones that provide additional benefits. The dice are used to increase your Friendship level with the various characters you’ll find throughout the world. These allow you to unlock the three additional characters, buy items from vendors at a cheaper cost, and add characters to your base that will provide more effects before each run. I’ve always liked this style of meta progression. It makes each run a learning experience with the added benefit of providing a reward of some sort every time you die.

I’ve been enjoying Blade Assault in short bursts. I’ve only made it as far as the third boss but each attempt only takes 15-20 minutes. This would be the perfect game to play on the Steam Deck but the text is just a bit too small where I’m straining my eyes to read each item’d description. Once I become familiar with all the items by their icons this will be an easy one to boot up on the Deck when I’m short on time.

So, is Blade Assault worth buying December’s Humble Choice for? Not on it’s own, as seems to be the case for most of the games I pick. Greedfall and Wasteland 3 sold me on this month’s choice but Blade Assault is a welcome addition.

A Second Look at Raji: An Ancient Epic

Raji: An Ancient Epic tells the story of a young Indian circus performer and her brother. Her brother has been kidnapped by demons and Raji sets out to find him. It just so happens that two Indian Gods, Vishnu and Durga have chosen to help Raji and provide some solid commentary along the way.

I bought Raji: An Ancient Epic shortly after release in 2020. I played through the entire game and remember really enjoying it. Unfortunately, it was one of those games that I kept meaning to write a post about and then never got around to it. I wish I had though. Then I could read exactly what I liked about this game and what has changed.

I picked this one for the Blaugust Reviews Humble Choice because nothing else in the bundle spoke to me. Since I had the game on hand and wanted to contribute I thought I’d run through the game again. It’s short, last time I played it it took me a hair over 5 hours to beat.This time around, I put it down after an hour.

So what changed?

Part of the reason is all me. I’m not usually one to replay a game, re-read a book, or re-watch a movie. There’s so much stuff out there that once I’ve played it, it’s hard to get excited about it again. But I also think the game might have gotten harder.

There was an Enhanced Edition update released in May of this year with some pretty substantial updates with many of them focused on combat. I can’t be certain but I don’t remember dying quite as much the last time I played. So either the combat has changed, I’ve gotten worse at it, or I’m not in the right head space to play action combat game right now. Maybe it’s a mixture of all three. Either way, the combat is not doing it for me. Which is a problem because most of what you’ll be doing in is combat.

there are some elements in Raji that I think make it worth checking out. I like the back drop of ancient India and it leads to some very pretty scenes and some unique locations that I haven’t seen in a game before. There’s also bits of Indian mythology told through murals and narrated by the gods as you discover them. Again, I don’t think there’s another game that I’ve played or could even name that includes Indian mythology. Hindi voice overs were also added in the Enhanced Edition. Sometimes the audio quality isn’t as good as the English VO’s but Hindi isn’t a language I’ve heard spoken often so it was neat to play with it on.

So now we come to the question at hand: Is Raji: An Ancient Epic worth picking up November 2022’s Humble Choice for? I think it is, if only for the unique setting and lore which make it a bit of a different gaming experience. The combat may be harder than what I’m looking for right now but if you’re a fan of action games I don’t think it’s terribly difficult with a bit of practice. It’s also got a fantastic soundtrack!

The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope – Big Impressions

Looking for something spooky to play this October? Do you like narrative driven games with where you have to make decisions? Do you like watching hours of cut-scenes? How about quick time events? Then I have a game for you!

The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope (here by known as Little Hope) is part of October 2022’s Humble Choice. It also happens to be the game I’ve chosen to take a look at for this month’s Blaugust Reviews Humble Choice. Little Hope is typically priced at $19.99 so with the bundle you’re getting a 35% discount. Not bad, but it’s been as low as 60% off through various store fronts.

I have heard of The Dark Pictures Anthology series before but never played one. There are currently three of them with a fourth set to release in November. They’re all cinematic, narrative-driven, choose your own adventure-esques, horror games with multiple endings. The stories are independent of each other so you can start with any of them. You can either play by yourself, with up to five people locally, or with one friend online. I ended up playing with Brother online via Parsec but technically we played the single player version of the story.

I’m no stranger to this type of game. One of my wife’s favorite games is Until Dawn and we’ve played through that at least three times together. We’ve also played through most of the Telltale games too. Little Hope isnt’ much different from either of those.

Well, Little Hope, is a little more graphic than I remember Until Dawn being at least. It earns it’s M rating for Blood, Intense Violence, and Strong Languaue pretty regularly. On a side note, I completely forgot games had ratings and didn’t realize you could see them on Steam.

It’s hard to talk about the story without spoiling anything so I’ll leave you with the store description:

“4 college students and their professor become stranded in the abandoned town of Little Hope. Trapped by an impenetrable fog they try desperately to escape whilst witnessing terrifying visions from the past. They must figure out the motivation of these apparitions before the evil forces at work drags each of their souls to hell..”

The story starts off with a bang, get’s pretty weird, and I was not expecting the ending at all.

The gameplay revolves around watching cut-scenes, making choices, doing quick time events, and doing some point & click adventuring. The choices you make, the secrets you find, and the quick time events you complete or fail all affect the story and it’s outcome.

I know some people find quick time events annoying but I’ve never had a problem with them. We did, however, missed the explanation of how to do them and failed almost all of them until about 4 hours in. Unlike your typical quick time event where you’re prompted to press a button in time, the quick time events in Little Hope have you move your cursor and click an area on the screen to succeed. I didn’t test the game with a controller but I wonder if that would have given us a more standard quick time event mechanic.

There are sections of the game where you need to walk around and find things to interact with. I think this might be better with a controller than a keyboard and mouse as well. The keyboard and mouse controls have you click to move which ends up feeling really weird in a bit claustrophobic in a 3D space. It also leads to some awkward camera angles and is kind of a pain to navigate in general. One time we got stuck and couldn’t move at all which forced us into taking a decision we might otherwise not have made.

We completed the story in about 6 hours (we got lost in a few walking sections and were also trying to find all the intractable points we could). It was so enjoyable that we immediately started up a new play through after the credits rolled.

Completing the story unlocks an alternative path. This time you’re making decisions in scenes and for characters you didn’t have control over before. This is great because I don’t feel like I’m playing the whole thing over and just making a few different choices. This is a completely new set of choices to see how everything plays out so I’m not really sure I can say I finished the game. Feels like I’m more so halfway through it.

Is this a game worth picking up this month’s Humble Choice? If you like this style of game then absolutely! If I don’t play any other games from this months bundle I’d still be happy with my purchase.

Little Hope has been one of my favorite games I’ve played recently. Which is weird because its the least well received game of the series. If this is how food the worst of the bunch is I’m definitely going to pick up the rest of the series!

Forgive Me Father Impressions

I’m not usually big on first person shooters. The last proper one I played was the Titanfall 2 campaign way back in 2016. If I’m going to play a game where I shoot things I would much rather play third person shooter. That way I can play a person with a gun instead of an arm with a gun.

Forgive Me Father is not a game I would have played if not for UnwiseOwls community Humble Choice review project. I was immediately drawn to the comic book art style with it’s mix of 2D and 3D objects. It feels like playing in a very violent diorama. It’s also set in a world inspired by the novels of H.P. Lovecraft. I’m not a huge fan of Lovecraft but I’m down to shoot some eldritch horrors!

I’ll be honest, I almost shelved this one after the first two levels. Like I said, I’m not usually one to play FPS’s and my lack of familiarity and skills made Normal more of a challenge than I wanted it to be. Your health and your ammo don’t refill once a level is completed or after you die and go back to a checkpoint. So you can (and I did) end up in some unwinnable situations pretty quick. As I was only two levels in I started a new game on Easy and I’ve been playing ever since.

I don’t think Forgive Me Father puts its best foot forward. The first few levels are kind of boring. There’s a lot of walking down hallways, shooting whatever is in your way, and collecting bits of story. It’s not until I got my first skill that the game started to pick up for me. There’s a “madness” meter (because Lovecraft) that when filled gives you a damage boost. Filling up the meter also adds charges to your skills which you can use to help out during combat. The active skills I’ve discovered so far are very helpful. There’s a heal, a skill that stuns creatures, one that gives unlimited ammo for a few seconds. My personal favorite is the one that makes you invincible for 10 seconds. I use that one a lot, 10 seconds is a long time to mow down my enemies.

There’s also a skill tree with branching paths so you can tailor it to fit your playstyle. You gain a skill point every time you level up. Some are just straight upgrades to health, armor, and ammo capacity. Others change the way guns function. Going down one path locks out the other choices but you get respec points every now and then. I haven’t had to use them yet but it’s nice to know that they’re there.

The individual levels are short. I don’t think I’ve come across one that’s taken me more than 20 minutes to complete. After the first few areas, the levels open up a bit more and aren’t so on rails. There’s usually a few keys you need to find to open a door somewhere with a bit of back tracking. Most of the time, back tracking means enemies probably spawned behind you.

At the end of each level you get a completion score based on how many enemies you killed, how much story you found, and how many secrets you discovered. Completion of a level doesn’t affect your ability to move on but if you’re in to discovering everything this will keep you busy for a while. At the end of every “world” there’s a boss level. Even on easy, these were a bit of a challenge for me. Invulnerability can only get you so far it seems.

The story is ok. Your cousin sends a letter to you asking you to come visit him. When you get there, there’s only eldritch horrors. You immediately pick up a revolver lying on the ground to defend yourself. Your a priest so you feel bad about it….at least at first. There’s also a Journalist character you can play but I’ve only played the Priest so far

There are bits and pieces of story scattered throughout the levels. They’re even labeled as such so you can’t miss them, for the most part. They provide some extra tidbits of information but they don’t really move the story along.

Thanks to the visuals and the music the atmosphere is great though! It can be spooky and tense at times when you’re going through the levels just waiting for something to attack. When there’s a big fight, you’re serenaded with screaming guitars which made me feel like a monster slaying machine even on Easy.

Is the Humble Choice worth it just for this game? Probably not, but if you have your eye on a few others on offer this one is a nice addition. I’m still enjoying it after the five or so hours I’ve put in to it. I would like to finish it but I’m not sure I’d play it again.