#DiscoverIndies A Kingdom for Keflings

boxartlg.jpgA Kingdom for Keflings is a city building game. You can play as three or four different in-game people or with your X360 avatar. There’s no difference between which character you choose; they all serve the same functions at the same speeds, they’re just different skins effectively.

It’s a chill relax game like most city builders but it’s chill is significantly higher than most since there’s no need to pay attention to money or anything in this one. There’s no fail states or anything. That makes it feel a bit easier than most others where it seems like money comes in an out and if you’re doing it wrong you can’t build more cause you’re hemorrhaging money. I don’t like that in my city builders, I like simple just existence.

Instead of money you collect resources, and they’re infinite. You don’t even have to collect them with your avatar if you don’t want to. You can simply assign a Kefling to do the job, which they will do forever without stopping. You can make them collect resources and transport them, they even go into some of the buildings to allow you to change the resource into a different type of resource, like logs into planks into carved wood or rocks into cobblestones into bricks. There’s 4 basic resources logs, rocks, crystals, and wool, and each one has to successive upgrades, you still always mine the basic one but you can put them into a building that changes them to the next level up and then put that new resource into another building to level it up to its last form.

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This is Grant and he is swol.

The only thing you have to do is build buildings. They gather the resources and you can order things to be made like a kitchen or a bedroom or something of that nature. When it’s made, you have to pick it up and place it, there’s diagrams for different buildings and how to set the items you’ve made to create the buildings, when you’ve set the last item in place it auto builds it into a functioning building. The game is pretty basic, there’s no story. It’s just building stuff up til you’ve found the diagrams to make a castle for your kingdom.

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This is Grant, and he fucked up. Big. Time. Fuck up.

This Kefling game is made to be played in short bursts, an hour or two here and there. That’s when it’s its most fun. Otherwise you feel like you’re waiting forever to get resources from the Keflings. I no lifed this, as I am one to do, it gets boring and shitty doing it that way cause you’re just sitting there waiting for a while until you have things set up to move quickly and that can be a pain in the ass. Play it in short settings, makes a world of difference while yeah you’re still waiting for stuff just as long it doesn’t feel as bad as waiting all in a single sitting. Once you have a good base set of resources collected and have4 figured out how to set up the resource collections and upgrades to get it more expedited it moves really fast and you don’t really have to wait but for a few minutes every now and then. And you can always collect and transport resources yourself too. There are also two sets of upgrades, one for you to help you carry more, walk more quickly, and obtain resources faster, Keflings also have upgrades to do the same thing. You’ll find their upgrades more quickly as most of yours come from small missions the mayor to be turned king, gives you.

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This is Grant, and we can’t show you what happened next. It’s probably illegal.

Honestly because I no lifed this it wasn’t as enjoyable as it should have been, it took til late game for me to figure out how stupid my set up was and then it took a few hours destroy and reorganizing buildings to get it set up to do things quickly. However sadly, I was near the end of the game by the time I figured out how to set it up better. Had I had it set up that way in the first place I probably wouldn’t have required but maybe half the time I spent on the game, which really irks me. So I enjoyed the very start of the game and near the end because during the middle everything was set up so bad, which is entirely my fault, that it just became a slog. I can’t really fault the game on my own fuck ups though.

That being said this is the first of 2 games, A World of Keflings is the second one, and I played that forever ago, it was my introduction. I think that one is the superior game. I didn’t have things set up well in that one EVER, but it ever really felt like a slog, everything just seemed to go faster in that game than this one. Characters felt like they naturally moved faster, resources seemed to go faster or there wasn’t as many needed. They learned where players were likely to fuck up and made it harder for them to fuck up in the sequel. I like when devs do stuff like that, if a dev can make up for my incompetence to make me look good, then they’re fantastic.

 

banner.pngA Kingdom for Keflings was developed by: Ninjabee
Point of Sale: X360
$10: You might be a giant but please don’t piss on the castle, fire or no fire. Learn from Gulliver’s actions, you’ll just piss off the queen.

 

The Seal.pngA review copy was bought by the reviewer.

darkmikasonfire has awarded A Kingdom for Keflings The Indie Gamer Team Seal of Approval

 

 

 

 

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The Haunted Island, a Frog Detective Game

When I booted up The Haunted Island, a Frog Detective Game to discover that the graphics settings were the opening lyrics to Apple Bottom Jeans, I knew I was in for a good time.

What? Do you think I’m kidding?

I’m not kidding

If that’s not enough to sell you on this game, I don’t know what is. But here’s the rest of the review anyway.

I have a soft spot for little mystery games, which is why The Haunted Island, a Frog Detective Game caught my eye when it popped up in HeavyEyed’s “Ten Indie Games You Missed in 2018” YouTube video. I wanted to play it. And I was not disappointed.

The hour I spent completing this game was filled with laughs, oozed with charm, and plastered a smile across my face. The Detective meshes with the cast of quirky characters they encounter brilliantly; each conversation is delightfully silly, but more importantly, funny. It’s often easy to fall into the trap of thinking “random” means the same thing but they dodged that hole with ease. I however, climbed into every hole I came across: Exhibit A pictured below.

Actions have consequences, except when they don’t

Mechanically, it’s extremely easy to get to grips with. WASD to move and mouse to look, your standard first-person controls. Left-click selects things and right-click brings up a magnifying glass, the most useful tool in the game for two very important reasons. Firstly, it warps everything you view through it to a hilarious degree.

Just so you know, this picture is of Koala the koala

Secondly, in dialogue I found endless delight in positioning it just right to make it look like a monocle… I am a child, I know.

I’m always careful, especially around easily alarmed… ducks?

Really, the only criticism I have is the lack of puzzles. There’s one over-arching quest to put together some explosives from the typical ingredients of toothpaste, wool, gold, and pasta, but apart from that, there isn’t much thinking to be done here. If you talk to everyone you’ll easily solve the case without flexing your brainpower in the slightest. I came for the mystery, but it was definitely the comedy that kept me playing.

Overall, I loved my short but sweet time with The Haunted Island, a Frog Detective Game and I’m massively looking forward to the sequel about an invisible wizard. Now if you’ll excuse me, I just discovered that Detective has a frog blog on their website, so I’m going to immediately read that.

Image result for frog detective

The Haunted Island, a Frog Detective Game was developed by: Grace Bruxner, Thomas Bowker

Point of Sale: Steam, itch.io

$5: why you are back here

A review copy was provided by the developer

Stevie Patamon has awarded The Haunted Island, a Frog Detective Game The Indie Gamer Team Seal of Approval.

 

 

 

 

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99Vidas

I like to think that I’m good at beat’em ups. After all I’ve spent many hours glued to the TV playing Streets of Rage and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Hyperstone Heist on my Mega Drive. If I’m not good at them, I wasted all my formative years. 99vidas made me realize that perhaps I am not quite as good as I had imagined myself to be. That or the game is just hard, one of the two.

If the thug thinks the beating he’s giving is painful wait until he realizes what he’s wearing!

That isn’t to say that 99vidas isn’t a fun game. The game is based on the Brazilian podcast 99vidas, and I don’t know what I was expecting there. However it manages to throw in homages to old games of the beat’em up genre while still creating a distinct identity for itself. Fans of the genre will recognize the references. From backgrounds practically ripped from title screens of classic of the genres, to music so close to Streets of Rage’s 2 that I tried repeating the jump kick motion that worked so well in that game only to fail miserably and get stunned in this one.

As usual, the high-rise condos are empty. Owned purely for tax reasons I’m sure

Getting stunned is a real problem in this game. And it’s probably what kills it for me. Getting hit once can easily end up with the player getting hit six or seven times. Once I was pushed from one side of the screen to the other, and just as I was getting up an enemy to my left started pushing me to the right. It wouldn’t be the last time I was dragged across the screen. Whether I held my Vita and mashed buttons or stopped and went for a coffee the result was the same. It made me wonder if it was only my choice of characters that was the problem. The game has several, which range from wildly unbalanced to balanced, but why would anyone pick anyone other than the cat girl is beyond me. Maybe I’ve just been on the internet for too long but when I see girls with any kind of animal ears, I automatically associate it with a good time. And for the most part that choice of words describes the game well. “A good time” was had while playing it.

99vidas excels at a lot of areas. Punches and kicks had a suitably meaty sound effect, enemies and player characters were well animated. The story, for all it matters in a retro throwback, was just the right amount of stupid. That is, it’s perfect to skip past at the beginning. Also unique to this game is the special attack being based on the four elements. Each character has an element attached and the special attack looks suitably flashy. These moves destroy most non-boss mooks on screen. Many of these specials are screen nukes. They’re not as effective as say, a rocket to the face, but then few things are. Not even it seems, massive waves or destructive fires.

Most interesting to me is not the similarity to childhood games, in terms of aesthetics, sounds, and controls. Which were enough to trigger my sense of nostalgia. Not even the fury with being tossed around like a rag-doll. No, what really interested me is the little bilingual bonus. And given my role as the “One that speaks Portuguese”, I would be remiss if I didn’t notice these details. Bilingual speakers will get a kick out of the little signs and words spread around levels, it’ll be even better if they are familiar with the Brazilian culture and its self-deprecating humor. I played the game both in Portuguese and in English to make sure that I got the full gist of the story. Yes, the same one most would skip, and I got a few chuckles out of the experience. Let me be absolutely clear, understanding and speaking Portuguese is in no way or form necessary for a good time. There’s a few bonus jokes and references sprinkled here and there, but nothing that will make you go and enroll in a language class to get them. Let’s face it, the language is the last thing people care about when it comes to Brazil. But then I dealt with language all my life, it is not something that can be helped. I was curious about it and replaying it allowed me to realise that 99Vidas holds the qualities of a good beat’em up.

Dragging as a transportation method – painful? Yes, but it’s also free!

I played the game on the Vita between boat rides and while waiting for both the subway and the bus. And that’s, in my opinion, the way the game is best played. The game’s store page claims it has six stages, and the difficulty ramps up quite fast. It was by playing it in spurts that I had the most fun. The graphics, that is the animations of the characters and the backgrounds are so finely detailed and worked that playing it on a TV only enhances it. And that says nothing of the inspired moments where it sounds like Streets of Rage 2, moments where I literally pushed the volume of my TV up. But having the opportunity to quit it after a stage, a luxury I didn’t have back in the days of my Mega Drive, made all the difference.

I died a heck of a lot while playing the game. The game is called 99vidas, which literally translates to 99 lives. One would think the journey would be easier due to that, but no, it is not. To say that the cake is a lie would be to beat on a dead horse, but the game’s name is quite literally a lie. The achievement with the name on the other hand, is not. And yet, something strange happened with 99Vidas. Even as I compiled those technical faults: the stun-locking of the character, the difficulty, the fact sometimes I just straight up couldn’t see enemies because I had thrown them beyond what the camera allowed me to see. Even as I died, I just as quickly hit retry. I wanted to toss my Vita into oncoming traffic, I was holding it so tightly it left imprints on my hands. But I kept replaying it. It felt unfair, it felt infuriating it, but that only seemed to make me more determined to beat it.

It might sound like I had a bad time with the game, only worsened by the fact I played through it twice. But in fact, and I can’t believe I’m saying this; it gave me a great sense of personal achievement each time I beat it. Each and every time I completed a stage, I was so pumped I had to avoid beating my chest. It was an odd mix of frustration, death, frustration, more death, and at last success. I don’t know whether or not I would call it fun, but it was definitely rewarding.

There are technical issues, and in comparison with Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game and Streets of Rage, games which I’m sure it’ll be compared to, which is something I, myself, am guilty of, it comes out short. But you can’t play Scott Pilgrim anymore, and Streets of Rage only comes in packages nowadays. It feels somewhat cheap, to compare this game to classics of the genre. Maybe nothing will beat those games, maybe that’s just the bias I have to learn to accept. 99vidas does its job well; it’s a retro throwback, a Brazilian game, and an advertisement for the Podcast. But even if most people who play this have never heard of the Podcast, and even if some jokes may go overboard, I still think it a good game.

99Vidas was developed by QUByte Interactive

99Vidas is available for on PS3, PS Vita, PS4, Steam, and Switch

$13 on Steam, $10 on the rest

 

A review copy was provided by the developer.

mcportugalem awards 99vidas the Indie

Seal of Approval.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in PlayStation Reviews | 1 Comment

while True: learn()

I. Love. Puzzles. I also have a fondness for coding-based puzzle games in particular, so when I was offered the chance to review while True: learn(), a puzzle game focused around machine learning (with added cats), I jumped at the chance. After eighteen hours, several attempts at its many levels, and a two-hour nap later, I’m writing this review.

That face when your cat is a better programmer than you

while True: learn()‘s puzzles have a simple premise. You’re given inputs, outputs, and blocks. The objective is to place the blocks in such a way that you get the right outputs in the right places. Simple, right? Wrong. The challenge comes from optimising, optimising, optimising. ‘Cause you see, while you can solve every puzzle with the absolute slowest, clunkiest, unreliable solution you can possibly think of, it turns out while True: learn() isn’t just a puzzle game. It’s a tycoon game too. And I don’t play well with tycoon games. But more on that later.

I spent hour after hour tweaking settings and swapping connections because every level has three degrees of success: bronze, silver and gold; and of course, I wanted that gold every, single, time. ‘Cause getting gold means you get more money, bringing us back to the unfortunate tycoon aspects of this game.

I spent faaaaaaar too long on this level going for that gold ranking

Money is used on “C-Bay” to buy decorations (useless), new nodes (useful but not vital), hardware upgrades (the best) and cat skins (OK, I lied, these are the best). Not only that, but you can invest your money in start-up companies with the hopes of earning a profit. Every start-up requires building a process and you want it to run smoothly so that you profit but oh no, it’s running at a loss, I guess you’d better drop out now before you go bankrupt. For the life of me, I could not make a profitable piece of software for any of these start-ups past the tutorial. Ultimately I ended up skipping them entirely because it just wasn’t worth investing the time building a massive program so it could inevitably lose me money needed for even more cat skins.

Outside of the dreaded tycoon elements, I found tinkering with the game’s challenges addictive and engaging. It constantly throws new mechanics at you and provides various resources to learn with too, including a group Discord, online videos, articles and explanations of how the functions you use work in the real world, whatever that is. I do wish there was a list of all the tool-tips and information I could easily revisit though; I’d like to remind myself of how certain tycoon elements actually work.

Needless to say, this particular start-up was not profitable… Sure looks cool though

I do have a few other small nitpicks to mention too. Firstly, I accidentally exited levels far too many times, but fortunately there is auto-save so it’s not a major issue. My second complaint though is the music, the one track of music. That loops. And loops. And loops. I’m not even kidding when I tell you that my housemate threatened to kill me if I didn’t turn it down.

However overall, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with while True: learn(). If you’re a puzzle fan or curious about machine learning, I highly recommend picking this one up because despite its sometimes finicky interface and tycoooooooooon elements, I know I’ll be diving back in to polish off those final elusive achievements before I move on to another game.


while True: learn() was developed by: luden.io

Point of Sale: Steam

$13: Did I mention, it has cats?

A review copy was provided by the developer

Stevie Patamon has awarded while True: learn() The Indie Gamer Team Seal of Approval.

 

 

 

 

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