Release date: Now
You’re woken up on board a ship, by some sort of cheeky robotic bird called NL1 and who assigns you title of captain and informs you that we need to build a crew and start creating a fancy ship before our space trading adventures to begin. NL1 acts as your tutorial guide, alongside the Cosmoguide and you’re going to need to take a few moments to study everything and sometimes revert back but once you get the hang of each element you’ll be fast clicking and tabbing your way through the menus as your crew, ship and trading infamy grows..
Cosmonautica offers humour, colour and variety in its efforts to immerse you tino the more casual, yet still intrinsic world of the spare trader. Whereas games like Eve Online, X3: Terran require an uber serious dedication, Cosmonautica stays closer to the FTL vibe, whilst being it’s own character.
Customization options are plentiful in this game, Chasing Carrots have put a lot of work into all the intricate details and options to make you feel like you’r maintaining now just a ship and crew from a basic day-to-day work and aesthetic feel but also thinking about how to conserve, balance your expenditures and trade. You can see if crew quarters have adequate sound insulation and most important free wifi. I wonder just how fast Netflix would fun up in space.
Recruiting crew members isn’t just about picking the best from a line up, some crew members may not get along and it will effect morale on the ship. Your not just the Captain, you’re the Ricki Lake HR go-to.
Finances are quite intricate for this sort of game, allowing you to tracking your income and spends, as well as the option to borrow money. It’s like real life, only on space with a talking roboparrot.
The soundtrack can be described as intergalactic groovyness. A great beat starts from the menu screen and follows through. Mechanical beeps and boops echoe throughout your ship and the yards you dock in.
The action in Cosmonautica is a peculiar story, whereby there’s not much action in terms of space combat ect. Your main job is maintenance of the ship and it’s crew. A majority of your screentime will be filled with menus. You engage in battle sporadically as you traverse the galaxy on missions that primarily serve as fetch and deliver. Travelling takes quite a long time no matter where you’re going, and even with a speedup option, it still takes forever. You can also increase the crews likelihood of getting spaceship sickness by initiating it. Combat is a bit confusing at the start, you initially see options to avoid or attack. An interesting method of eradicating the chances of being blown to smithereens by a giant space slug, is to bargain with them. Offer them some money or some porn magazines. No really space slugs are keen on those porn magazines. I found myself preferring that method just to get things over with.
Cosmonautica would be suited to a mobile device, especially with the amount of tapping and clicking required with the interfaces. Completion of missions gives you money to improve everything and everything needs improving. You’ll find yourself wanting to make as much money as possible to keep things running smoothly, finances really are the key to this game. Sandbox mode is offered to players outside of the campaign mode and does a good job of offering random games so there’s never an air of repetitiveness.
There’s plenty of humour and activity always on the screen in Cosmonautica, which helps alleviate some of the pressure to act like a serious financial and maintenance supervisor, essentially. The crew can end up hating or loving each other, your ship can evolve from a cramped junkheap to something to be proud to command and you’ll never find yourself stuck for things to do. You’re the captain of the Cosmonautica and you need to keep the galaxy happy through porn mags!
It’s hard work for a sequel to strive, especially if its predecessor was a success and critically exclaimed. You have to find a balance between utilising what worked for the first game and then adding elements that define that second chapter and earn it its own precedence. Sometimes it works well, sometimes the sequel is praised more than the first and then other times it just doesn’t hit the same high.
Seemingly, for a majority of people, Dragon Age 2 falls under the latter but for myself I found the sequel to be quite a good game that managed to standalone in its own story progression style and to still feel like it was part of a bigger plot, intertwined with Origins and Inquisition, despite some flaws.
Dragon Age Origins was my first real experience playing and getting immersed into a dragon lore story driven game. I had never played pre-Knights of the Old Republic games by Bioware or been into Dungeons and Dragons or the earlier Elder Scroll games and well you get the picture. The closest I feel like I ever got to that genre, is tangible at best because it was just playing a lengthy demo of Diablo.
I feel for the game and it increased my interest in the general genre and the source material that was inspirational for much of the lore. I also found it to be quite interesting and fun that there was quite an extensive usage of Irish and Old Irish nouns throughout. I did a video that gingerly touch on that
Dragon Age 2 dropped a trailer and got me extremely excited, the style of Hawke and a new fresh story, still part of a saga was exciting.
Every character in DAII is affected by the events that are building up within the walls of Kirkwall and by the choices made by Hawke. The mage-templar war is being fed and fuelled and concentrated in such a small area, despite the issues being far reaching and existing before Hawke was even born, but it is the actions that Hawke is involved in, her, her family and friends, that seal the deal and kickstart what explodes in Inquisition and is followed on after II in the novel Asunder. Whilst I mention this it’s worth checking out some Bioware related novels, I wrote about here, the Dragon Age ones are superior to the Mass Effect series.
Some of the criticism hurled at DAII is that the developers were lazy and this is mainly backed up with the repetitive caves and warehouse maps and that’s a fair point. But the writers could never be accused of being lazy. One of the most enjoyable aspects of this game is all the different character banter dialogue. (I never feel comfortable saying ‘banter’ these days). This gives an incentive to replay and bring different party members to see how the combo works. There’s attention to the story and the players choices too, for example if you’re involved romantically with a certain character, the banter as you roam an area will reflect upon that and the other characters opinions. This transfers into the DLC as well, all greatly interconnected and another testament to Bioware’s devotion to giving us characters that have value and essence.
Game-play was also hated on, with a seemingly vast majority of fans preferring Origins style, but personally I found II to be completely fine. For some reason after playing II a couple of times, I found getting back into the combat style of Awakening (the Origin Expansion) to be very difficult but that’s just me and combat style preferences are just that, preferences.
Dragon Age II really excelled in making the events that were contained to a small area and a small group, resonate in a similar manner to a world travelling game. Inquisition was gigantic in scope and the scope of what came from DAII. A festering, heaving air of turmoil and years of pent up oppression and aggression exploded in the climax of II and spread throughout Thedas, ultimately reshaping the world of Dragon Age forever.
This is why I love Dragon Age II, it really takes another glance at what happened and how the story was told to appreciate just how good a game it was and the repetition of maps shouldn’t be something that hampers it’s entry in the series or damns it as being a rubbish sequel.
Usually I try to be nice about a game in Early Access. I mean, it is a very early working build so to condemn a game based on that can be a bit unfair. I hate the idea of a developer having their hopes, dreams and aspirations of a project being crushed by negative reviews and bad press. This time though, we need to have a talk. Perhaps you can call it an intervention, although calling it that is a bit of a harsh term.
UNLOVED, as the developer BlueEagle Productions spells it in all capital letters, is a FPS horror game that just got released on Early Access about survival and… Something else? Already we’re at that awkward point where I’m not particularly sure what is the objective. Even on the easiest difficulty and the smallest level size I could, I couldn’t even remotely register an end-game to it. Then again, irritatingly, things like tutorials and having things explained to you often tends to crop up as part of that final polish.
So you’ll spend the game opening doors in the Rogue-like procedurally-generated maze, pushing deeper and deeper. Meanwhile, the amount of monsters increases in quantity, chomping at your heels as some doors you open will also open spawn points in said room. Combined with an AI that is a bit on the basic side (which is fine really), what often happens is you’ll reach a point where suddenly a thick wave of beasts will come from nowhere and engulf you. This is made a lot more probable by the use of only small claustrophobic rooms, without larger ones to allow you to just pick off the company you’ve made on your journey.
I have to say though, the game does look as grim and vile as it seems to set out to be. Everything feels disgusting to look at, as some form of rustic nightmarish land decaying and yet some how holds together. Through the holes, only more darkness seeps in. This means I hope you turn the brightness up and keep your torch on, because otherwise it is completely black. Say you decide to keep the brightness on it’s normal setting expect not to be able to see the end of a short corridor. Maybe it is intended though, and I think we’ll get back to that point.
The monsters also look fantastically grotesque, feeling like fever dreams of classic horror film writers, and various wildly at that. It avoids the trap of just using gore to generate uneasiness, and seems to dabble with things like a bizarre mix between Jeepers Creeper’s The Creeper and a serial killer as well as a burnt-out husk that still smokes.
Just, each creature seems to behave in very similar ways: They all seem to have a ranged attack and a melee attack, with seemingly small little things distinguishing their behaviours (e.g. The Creeper and serial killer blend has a gun, making it an unavoidable range attack, while a butcher demon is able to charge you). This may have been able to be more noticed if it wasn’t for the game’s tendency to throw a thick mass of enemies at you, making them blur together into a thick murderous mush.
Now here’s the crux of all my problems and the parts I like so far: It feels indecisive of what it wants to be. Does it want to be like Killing Floor or The Haunted: Hell’s Reach, where you mow down wave after wave of demonic creatures? It does this well by making movement incredibly quick (making dodging possible, in a Serious Sam kind of way), by always providing ammo and health that slowly dwindles away over time as well as offering replayability through unlockable builds, appearances and notes.
On the other hand, does it want to be Silent Hill? The aesthetics fit perfectly like a glove with this vision (including the claustrophobic mazes that are the levels), as well as the use of darkness to obscure what is going on (thus allowing the mind to fill in the horrible gaps with their own nightmares). In addition to this is the use of a blur effect to feel like your brain is being crushed and stuffed with cotton wool, making the environment feel even more demented and demonic.
Blended together, what you get is these two sides fighting against each other. Mowing down wave after wave while dodging fireballs is fine and dandy in a sprawling terrain, but turns into a nightmare when in a dark maze. A heavy use of blurring combined with running fast makes for a headache-inducing time that inspires motion sickness. The aesthetics seem to want to inspire fear, trying to encourage you to perhaps avoid enemies, but the heavy amount of supplies as well as the enemy quantity and behaviour inspires boldness.
If it seems like I’m just being nasty, tearing apart an indie project, I do not do this for fun or with ill-will. There is something interesting within the game; I know there is, peeking its head between the gaps. It feels like the unusual side of the spectrum of horror survival shooters, with the other end being where Killing Floor and The Haunted lies as being pure cheese. I want to like Unloved more than I do, as I like grim and disgusting environments, where things just feel wrong, just it’ll need a lot of work to manage it that I fear the developers plan of “more of everything” will not cut it. If BlueEagle Production can quell the civil war within its own game, it could make for a nice indie gem for those who enjoy roaming an unfriendly nightmarish land trying to survive against all the odds.
In the wonderful city of Hamburg, on September 10/11th, DevGamm is а conference for game developers and publishers and the lovely people behind DevGamm have put a lot of effort into a really great event featuring amazing talks from the creators of Witcher 3, DayZ, This War of Mine, Hotline Miami 2 and many more.
For more information check out their Website
If you head on over to Humble Bundle right this second, you can grab Beatbuddy and other cool games like Fotonica and Neverending Nightmares. For every “Pay What You Want” Bundle that you purchase, the American Red Cross and the Electronic Frontier Foundation receive a donation.
With the every day gruel that most people have to endure that is the great sweaty commute, video games on your mobile devices are there for you, to mask the stinky cramped reality and give you some colorful exciting peace until you hit your work desk. But even then there’s lengthy bathroom breaks :p
Most PC games are the type played in your room alone, maybe with a friend or maybe a solo experience. With split screen becoming a rare breed spotted in obscure locations, the idea of playing a PC game with someone in the same room is becoming an odd scene made of dust and forgotten memories. Even then, even back during the heyday of local multiplayer, the idea of playing a narratively-driven co-op game about creating a story was unheard of in favour of more skill-based play. Well, now The Yawhg is here to fly in the face of logic, to do what hasn’t been done and to present a good game while it’s at it.
The Yawhg is a 2-to-4 player (although if you want to play it on your own with two characters, don’t worry, I wouldn’t tell) choose-your-own-adventure game for PC by Damian Sommer and Emily Carroll. In it, you play as a citizen of a medieval city where The Yawhg will be coming in six weeks. On each week, you’ll pick a place you want to go and an action to do. Finally, after the sixth week, the Yawhg will come like a black wave. In the ruins of the city, you will have to decide on your role in rebuilding. After that, you will get an epilogue to your tale.
Usually I’d rattle off facts, figures, impressions and opinions until the sun rises (I work through the night). However, The Yawhg just isn’t the type of game where just me describing what it is will do it justice. You’ll get the basic sensation of what it is, you may even feel tempted to buy it, but I think you wouldn’t understand the meat of it. So let me tell you a story.
Two years ago, I used to go to a videogame society at an university. I’d turn up, chat with people and faff about with whatever games were there. Once or twice I had tried to bring a game to the table, and suggested games for their Friday night online gatherings, for them to always be pushed aside. I was even the one who tried to nudge people into playing Dark Souls and Payday 2 before it really got popular with the people there, however they didn’t heed my call and discovered the gems on their own.
So one day, I lug my laptop in. I had it set up on Steam offline mode with a game installed on it: The Yawhg. I had played it a bit by myself and I found it interesting in theory but a game that felt empty. So I thought I’d share it with others, see what other people would think of the title. After all, it was a short little adventure each time (10 to 20 minutes to complete it), so even if people were unsatisfied it’d be like water on a duck’s back.
So I asked a few people, including the popular chairman, “hey, does anyone want to try a weird little game called The Yawhg?”. I described roughly what you do in it (“you make choices in a choose-your-own-adventure style, you have stats that go up and down that can affect things”), and eventually I managed to coax three into playing it with me.
All four of us created our own narratives in the setting. While The Yawhg is a great deal in the tale, it isn’t remotely the focal point. It isn’t even known what it is, if it is a beast, a storm or some other form of natural (or unnatural) occurrence. It seems almost irrelevant.
The central part of the narrative is you, the player. It is less about the disaster coming and going and more about you carving out your own story in the setting; let it be about going to the hospital to help patients, fighting hoodlums in the streets or going hunting in the forest. You can even delve into magic or combat.
To this the game can react back: One person turned into a vampire and got the hospital closed after a blood frenzy, another time a building got blown up. Which at the end, we selected our role and the game finally told us what was to become of the city and each of our characters. I think my character went off to become a medieval Batman. The city was in too poor shape to warrant my character to protect it, so they went off into the lands to combat villainy, banditry and other nefarious scum.
Everyone was absorb into this game, absolutely fascinated how people were making similar choices but getting radically different events. Others had even begun gathering around us four, to watch what story we were weaving. Sure if we went to the same place and did the same task on the same week we’d have the same event flare up, however there were enough places and activities that repetition was rare. We were watching our stats go up and down, tasks going well or failing hard based on tests of those abilities and amount of currency. The group of us was generally in marvel no matter the result we had gotten, mostly because it felt like our own result.
At one point, when he begun to play through, the chairman of the society even begun doing voice overs of what was happening. With the wonderful artwork, it felt like a storybook. We were ecstatic at what random events would next occur to us, what would be read to us.
Everyone walked away within an hour or two of it starting, but that short time scale didn’t matter. The time spent was a magical moment of friendship, where we all had stories of what we did. I was medieval Batman, someone else had climbed into a bottle and sold their soul for more booze and another person was a world famous alchemist. The writing was whimsical, but never afraid to stray into the dark as a lingering after-thought, so it stuck with each of us.
In its final form, it gets a 7/10. Will this entertain you by yourself? I’d be surprised. Does it require luck or skill? Oh no, not at all. Any form of competition? Zilch. However, that’s okay. The Yawhg is a game about building a story with friends. Its accessible nature, its art work and its choice mechanic allows the game to be a fantastic conversation piece as you gleefully pass tales of what you did. It may be for ten minutes or the entire night, maybe as part of a family gathering or over drinks with friends, but the time spent with it isn’t wasted. Even the short length, which some will likely grumble over, allows it to be played before it over-stays its welcome.
As “party games” go, something to play on PC over drinks with a group of friends, it is an incredibly easy recommendation. I still think it is magical how The Yawhg is less a game wanting to tell its own story, something that is incredibly common even with narratively-driven games, but rather one that wants you to spin a tale. You know that sensation of talking to people about a Telltale title, or recently Life Is Strange, and comparing the choices and what become of them? Imagine that, except the story is your own, because it is.