enfrdeitptrues

Simulation

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    boxart
    Game Info:

    Hyperspace Delivery Service
    Developed By: Zotnip
    Published By: Zotnip
    Released: June 5, 2019
    Available On: Windows (Steam)
    Genre: Strategy Simulation
    ESRB Rating: None specified
    Number of Players: Singleplayer
    Price: $9.99

    First, I'd like to thank Zotnip for the review key for this review.

    In the olden days of gaming, graphics were simpler, the sound was less refined, and storage space for better assets was limited, so game developers had to compensate by making the most of the limited assets and make a good game out of them much more than is usually needed today. Hyperspace Delivery Service is intended as a throwback to these days, and while it's developer went with the olden day look and feel, they have modern day tools (the Unity Engine) at their disposal to deliver the same classic gameplay with hopefully the same value despite the early '90 adventure game aesthetic.

    In Hyperspace Delivery Service, you are a delivery ship captain in a star system once administrated by a galactic trading conglomerate. But, since they went belly up trade among the stars has gotten more dangerous and now they can't ensure safe and orderly passage between planetary ports anymore. You still have to deliver goods and services even without them, and you have to do it within your stated contracted delivery date or, in the worst case, die in the attempt.

    The gameplay is divided into a space travel section, combat sections, and a meta-game devoted towards making sure you will be able to get to the final port of call where your delivery must occur before your contract date is reached. The space travel section is remarkably similar to the classic educational game "The Oregon Trail", and has many of the same elements. You have a deadline you must meet before you lose the game, you have various places you stop at to rest and resupply before you resume your journey, and there are various random events that can occur along your route both good and bad for the outcome of your journey.

    Hyperspace Delivery Service
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Good concept and excellent retraux art and sounds
    Weak Points: Horrible game balance and some wonky controls
    Moral Warnings: Mild violence against robots and spaceships

    The combat sections are split between space combat and ground combat. The space combat sections take place on a heads-up display on your ship bridge where you must shoot missiles and lasers at enemy ships until they are all destroyed while trying not to let them blow up yours. For those who played the NES "Star Trek: The Next Generation" game, this aspect of gameplay is very similar, as the combat takes place featuring a heads-up display on your bridge in much the same fashion. The ground combat takes place in an abbreviated Doom-like first-person shooter mode where you must shoot hostile robots in order to rescue crew members or otherwise complete ground-based objectives.

    The meta-game is what ties it all together. Much like "The Oregon Trail", you are issued a set amount of credits to purchase supplies with, with limited chances to trade and acquire more to keep yourself supplied until you reach the end of the game. Random events may either provide bonus resources or cost you more than you usually spend in food and fuel, and on harder difficulties careful planning a lot save reloading between ports (where saves are automatically made) will be essential to ensure you reach your destination. You also have to keep your ship and its crew in good health, with penalties for neglecting and/or overworking both, though increasing ship speed or crew workload can make the game easier at times, so it's a delicate balancing act that requires your periodic attention, particularly at space stations in-between planets you visit.

    The graphics are deliberately done in the same style as early nineties Sierra Online adventure games, Space Quest in particular, though more the older releases as opposed to the VGA remake versions. This is both good and bad, as the game looks authentically retro, but the graphics are occasionally super jaggy and overly bright at times like EGA graphics often were in the time when MS-DOS was common. Those issues aside, this game has a charming, quirky Star Trek style to it, with your ship and the bridge especially being much like their inspirations.

    Sounds are mostly confined to MIDI style noises for your ship and sound effects, again for the retro feel, and there is an option to shut off the blips and beeps if they annoy you. The game itself is quite stable, and the only thing that might annoy people is how the mouse is captured by the game window, forcing an ALT + TAB to free it up for switching to another window, especially in windowed mode. Some bugs have been found since the writing of this review, but the developer has been very vigilant in fixing them and releasing patched updates.

    Hyperspace Delivery Service
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 78%
    Gameplay - 15/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 9/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 3/5

    Morality Score - 93%
    Violence - 6.5/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    Controls, however, are mostly good with some annoying issues. Most menus are easily navigated and feature plenty of helpful hints. However, the game will assume heavy usage of the keyboard even though most things will usually be done via the mouse, and this can get confusing as the looking controls in combat sections are inverted with the keyboard while the reverse with the mouse, making switching between the two tedious. Combat sections also suffer from some aiming issues and some non-intuitive control scheme ideas, with aiming non-homing weapons like lasers somewhat irritating as a result.

    The worst problem, however, is the game balance. Even on Easy, the game can be punishing; the main problem being bad random events are far more common than good ones, and good events often have paltry rewards. Bad events often do a lot of damage that will eat through resources, and side missions and random events that make up the difference are few and far between. Worse, it's expensive in money and time to keep your crew healthy, and resting periods recover a mere fraction of crew health per rest break, and multiple breaks can eat up valuable game days.

    On the moral side, this game is actually pretty well off in that regard.

    Violence is always confined to robots and the spaceships, there is no blood or gore. The language is pretty clean as well; the game would be perfectly suitable for most young children on those grounds alone, and the dialogue is devoid of offensive material. Sexual content is absent, and the game has no occult or supernatural themes whatsoever.

    On the ethical side of things, despite the breakdown in law and order in the backstory, you are generally bound towards not disturbing the peace and are contractually bound to engage in aboveboard trade. There are times when you can elect not to detain possible fugitives to be turned over to whatever semblance of law enforcement you encounter or refuse to assist ships that may be in danger. However, this can often be very risky and quite often a trap, so it would not be unethical to refrain, as you may find capturing the fugitive simply leads to inviting worse consequences or assisting the stranded ship just invites a pirate ambush.

    Aside from the game balance and control issues, which need further polish, Hyperspace Delivery Service is otherwise a quite fun throwback to the edutainment games of the early '90s and with a sci-fi twist, and with some refinement of the rougher edges, would make a worthy modern day Oregon Trail successor in space.

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Industry Giants 2
    Developed By: Fancy Bytes, Reactor
    Published By: United Independent Entertainment
    Released: April 14, 2015
    Available On: Microsoft Windows
    Genre: Simulation, Strategy
    ESRB Rating: E
    Number of Players: Single player with LAN support
    MSRP: $9.99

    Thank you United Independent Entertainment for sending a copy of this game to review.

    Industry Giants 2 is a simulator game ripped straight out of the '90s. It originally came out in 2002 and this is the Steam port I'm reviewing. You choose an industry and control the supply chain from raw materials to retail stores. You move through time in the 20th century and have to manage weather, city growth, and technological advances. There are several campaigns to advance through with specific goals as well as an endless mode where you choose how you want to play. 

    There is no escaping the fact that this game originally came out in 2002. With that in mind the graphics are exactly what you'd expect. It has the classic "high" resolution intro video and then in-game it has Sim City 3000 style buildings and landscapes. All the colors in the game are muted, from the landscapes to the cities; there's also not a lot of variety in the buildings. I couldn't tell you what any of the buildings in the cities are for, except ones I built. The sound effects are entirely too loud. My only solution to this problem was to turn the sound FX slider to just above mute and keep the music slider at medium. However with this setting I'm forced to listen to the fairly repetitive, low quality synth music. More egregious is that the sound effects and music do not pause if you pause the game. More than once I found myself being startled by an errant bird call or a jackhammer. The worst part is that whenever a new technological advancement becomes available it plays a short video where the volume is super loud. I nearly jumped out of my seat when I was crunching numbers on expanding my farming system and a fog horn sounded, announcing the arrival of bigger cargo ships. 

    Industry Giants 2
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: In-depth supply chain management; tons of available maps for endless mode
    Weak Points: Very few city management features; sound effects can be jarring; lack of online multiplayer
    Moral Warnings: Encourages greed

    I enjoyed the campaigns; there's a good variety of objectives that really force you to examine the most efficient way to build your empire. The title suggests it's a business simulator, but the features are limited almost entirely to the supply chain and transportation. If you're looking for a Business Tycoon type experience you'll be disappointed. The game does give you more than enough information to manage your supply chain. There are tables, charts, and graphs for all aspects of your burgeoning industry. Players will likely spend most of their time in endless mode. Instead of getting a specific goal and date range, like in the campaigns, you select a map, start at the year 1900 and build out however you want. There are a ton of maps in endless mode so you could easily lose 100s of hours here if you want. 

    The controls felt dated and took some getting used to. You're told to scroll around the map by moving the mouse to the sides of the screen, but I had issues scrolling to the right because my 2nd monitor would cause the mouse to leave the game. Later I found that using the arrow keys was more consistent. There were some features that weren't explained well or at all in the tutorial. For instance the game doesn't tell you that you can slow down and speed up time with use of the "+" and "-" keys. It mentions the vehicles window, but doesn't tell you that you can manage all your vehicles from there. Using that window is so much easier than scrolling around and clicking each individual vehicle, which the tutorial instructs you to do.

    Industry Giants 2
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 64%
    Gameplay - 16/20
    Graphics - 6/10
    Sound - 4/10
    Stability - 4/5
    Controls - 2/5

    Morality Score - 94%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 8.5/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8.5/10

    No feature is more dated than the multiplayer. The game offers skirmish mode, LAN play and "internet game". The skirmish mode works fine and is pretty fun. Here you can play against up to 3 other AI players. I only played a couple games, but having another competing industry adds a nice dynamic. The local multiplayer does function, but I haven't tested it myself, although I've read forums posts and seen a video that it works. The "internet game" option uses GameSpy. I have heard about this service, but not for a long time. So I found a place to download GameSpy. I installed it, but when I went to make an account I got a 404 error. It turns out GameSpy was shut down in 2014, so "internet game" is useless. 

    If you have any nostalgia for 90s tycoon games then you'll enjoy Industry Giants 2. The game doesn't boast a ton of features, but what it does offer is done well. Players who are inexperienced with these types of games may be thrown off by the dated graphics and controls. The game is appropriate for all ages. The only moral quandaries I found is that the game does encourage greedy behaviors, such as a mission where you are essentially a banana republic dictator. There are tons of different missions to choose from and paths to take in endless mode giving the game a huge amount of replayability. 

     

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    boxart
    Game Info:

    It's You: A Breakup Story
    Developed By: Brwarner Studios
    Published By: Brawrner Studios
    Released: August 1, 2018
    Available On: macOS, Windows, Linux
    Genre: Visual Novel, Simulation
    ESRB Rating: Not Rated
    Number of Players: 1 player
    Price: $4.99

    Thank you Brwarner Studios for the review code.

    Life is ever-changing, with the huge leaps in technology. It has become easier to communicate with each other than it was hundreds of years prior, but with daily tasks becoming easier, relationships seem to be harder to maintain.

    It’s You: A Breakup Story is what the title states: A narrative-driven game where the player takes the point of view of Carlee. Carlee is a nurse at a hospital who comes home after a long and exhausting shift. Her boyfriend, Josh, typically calls her at midnight to discuss their day and to relieve some stress. Again, as the title states, this is a breakup story. There is only one ending to this event, and that is to break up, but as the player, you decide how Carlee breaks up with Josh. This relationship is already on thin ice and there is no saving it. It’s a rather nice statement on life in general. Even if there is no stopping what is coming, people can make the best of a terrible situation.

    Only the screen of Carlee’s monitor lights up her room. What is displayed is typically what a person has on their desk: scattered pins, a calendar, a cup to drink from, a phone, a stapler, some notes, and her ID badge. The silence of the night takes over as she attempts to unwind after a day of hardship. Everything, except for what is displayed on the screen, looks like something that was drawn in a sketchbook. A nice, simple color pallet to complement the life of another human being. Soon after, Josh will make his call, and the two of you will start the conversation that will lead to the end.

    It's You: A Breakup Story
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: The game gives the player a lot of choice in how the inevitable breakup happens; solid voice acting from the antagonist.
    Weak Points: Grammatical errors throughout; ending sequence is disproportionately low in volume.
    Moral Warnings: Strong uses of language; some blasphemy; the story is about a dysfunctional and emotionally abusive relationship. 

    As you take part in this conversation, you will notice that displayed on the screen are five tabs. One tab is a Twitter knockoff called Tweeter. The second tab displays a surprisingly addicting tic-tac-toe game called Tractor Dad: Civil War. The third and fourth tab each respectively show a messaging app and a music app called WhatsDown and Toon-ify. The last tab is of Carlee’s email, and interestingly enough is the tab this game begins on. Each tab is a glance into Carlee’s life and gives us insight on who Carlee is, and quite possibly what she wants to be.

    Choice is the definitive factor of this journey. Even though It’s You will always end the same (as in a breakup), you have the power to give Carlee a chance on how she will leave this relationship, and I applaud that concept. As Josh and Carlee make conversation, you can distract yourself with the various tabs on display. You can choose to be sympathetic to Josh, or even hostile. You can even “nod off” in mid conversation, or blatantly hang up on him. Sometimes I would even let the phone ring and just play Tractor Dad and listen to the playlist of classical, rock, electronic and bossa nova music. There can be a reason to break up with him or no reason at all. Of course, for the narrative, it is in your best interest to talk with Josh as long as possible. As the conversation deepens, you really start to see just how dysfunctional their relationship is and that it was never meant to last.

    Josh’s voice actor, Jacob Burgess, does a solid job as our antagonist. He pours in all of these nuances into his performance that make Josh feel like an actual living person. Josh is a flawed individual, which you can clearly see within the first five minutes, but only until you look deeper do you truly see just how bad Josh really is. Burgess in his performance at times really made me feel and think multiple times that Josh is such a… jerk, to put it kindly. Carlee is not a perfect person either, but she is nowhere near what Josh is. Interestingly enough, Josh is not all to blame on how this relationship turned out the way it did. Of course he is the biggest contributor to this sinking ship, but I did step into the situation expecting Josh would be a lazy straw man to support a skewed point of view that the developers hold. I was plenty surprised that was not the case.

    It's You: A Breakup Story
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 82%
    Gameplay - 16/20
    Graphics - 6/10
    Sound - 9/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 87%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 3/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 7.5/10

    +3: The story in this game delivers a good moral lesson

    A narrative driven game is not going to have many mechanical issues, but I did notice quite a few grammatical issues. In their Resources option, the number 3 was listed twice as for pieces that influenced this game. There are also misspellings scattered throughout the work, such as “my” instead of “by” in certain parts. Some written dialogue doesn’t match the dialogue spoken either. Most importantly, the sound for the ending speeches is way lower than the general sound for the game, such as when Josh speaks or when music plays. I had to turn my speakers all the way up just to hear what the ending speeches were saying. Nothing detrimental to the work, and it will most likely be fixed in an upcoming patch, but it is still something that needed to be pointed out. 

    As It’s You: A Breakup Story is based on multiple resources, both real and fictional, it will have morality issues that come with it. The characters in their discussion will use mild and strong language, such as F-bombs, some S’s, some not-so-river dams, and instances of blasphemy. The use of colorful language does make the troubling relationship feel more organic, at least in my viewpoint. The game and the developers also make it no secret that the relationship at hand is also an emotionally abusive one—which can be uncomfortable for some to experience. I did also notice one instance of sexually suggestive dialogue.

    It’s You: A Breakup Story isn’t more so a game than it is an experience, and I'm glad I took part of it. I couldn't exactly review it like I could my reviews in the past because it cannot compare to any of them. It peers into why some relationships just don’t work out. It also looks into the ugliness of humanity and how some people will try to hurt and control others, just because they were hurt or controlled at some point themselves. Sometimes, people may think that there is no way out of a situation, or that a bad situation is a better choice than that feeling of crippling loneliness; but life is what you make it. No matter what, you have control of your own life and no one or no thing can say or tell you otherwise.

    Even though It’s You is from the perspective of a female, I think men should also give the story a shot as well. Maybe it can give insight on what went wrong in a relationship and what can be taken from it to make the next one right. Situations like these aren’t just exclusive to women after all. The entire story is relatable, whether it can be applied to a relationship, a job, a friendship or anything else. I feel this game is important to experience, especially to people who feel that the main topic is an uncomfortable one to observe, as it can teach people that there is always a way out and to seize control of your life.

    -Cinque Pierre

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    boxart
    Game Info:

    Jalopy
    Developed by: Minskworks
    Published by: Excalibur Games
    Release date: March 28, 2018
    Available on: Windows
    Genre: Driving Simulation
    Number of players: Single player
    ESRB Rating: Not rated
    Price: $14.99
    (Humble Store Link)

    Thank you, Excalibur Games, for sending us a review key!

    In the early days of the automobile, families fortunate enough to own a car might have taken it out on an afternoon trip, enjoying the pleasantness of the countryside and the drive for their own sake. This charmed time was unimpeded by traffic jams, stoplights, speed limits, turn signals - all unavoidable traits of a modern drive that prevent it from having the same charm. The zen effect of a modern solo road trip is instead characterized by constant attention to repetitive tasks, a fine and soothing experience in its own right despite the consequences of neglecting those tasks. By centering on a Soviet-era rustbucket, Jalopy and its titular Laika 601 Deluxe reproduce that feeling of a long, lonely modern road trip with tasks unique to a broken car. While driving across the European countryside, the Laika must be washed, maintained, and kept full of gas manually mixed with oil. It is easy to get stranded and easy to get going again. With no pressure to be anywhere quickly and little penalty for restarting, the player is welcome to relax and enjoy the ride. It’s a pity the ride is glitchy, ugly, and paradoxically easy yet frustrating.

    Jalopy opens with the player character awoken by the alarm clock. Like so many things in this game, the annoyance of the alarm clock can be intuitively silenced by hitting a small button, or you can ignore it and go about your business. This tradeoff between annoyance via persistent problem and annoyance via small, fiddly task pervades the game. The player must gather and install all the parts and tools of the car to start the journey, but then issues from a bad air filter to a whining passenger can be ignored if you can accept the consequences. Your only task is to get that car to Istanbul. While the central gameplay is finding discarded goods on the side of the road to hock in exchange for parts and supplies, the game cares very little about your ability or desire to do so. Don’t want to take up space in the trunk for a spare fuel tank? You can get out of the car and literally push it hundreds of kilometers at any time. It’s empowering, in a melancholy and realistic way.

    Jalopy
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Soothing; littered with clever, intuitive mechanics
    Weak Points: Littered with unexplained, random mechanics; buggy; short with no motivation to master the essential mechanics of the game
    Moral Warnings: Tobacco and wine portrayed; goods can be smuggled and sold over borders

    Walking and driving use arrow keys/WASD or a gamepad, and driving supports a wheel controller (though I did not confirm a wheel's functionality myself). Most interactions with the world involve clicking on items to pick them up and put them down. Changing a tire calls for opening the trunk, retrieving the jack (which you hopefully didn’t sell for gasoline), propping up the car, unscrewing the tire, replacing it, screwing on the new tire, and letting the car down. Repeat as necessary. This is not meant as a negative point; the simple and necessary act of changing the Laika’s tires filled me with an inexplicable satisfaction usually reserved for those with the will to make their bed in the morning. The mouse mechanics are wonderfully consistent. If you get out of the car and realize the headlights or windshield wipers are on, you can reach inside to shut them off without getting back into the car. Washing the car requires wetting a sponge and cleaning it off periodically; alternatively, you can deal with the dirty windows. The player’s wallet must be manually taken into each motel and gas station and given to each clerk. I was delighted to discover that the radio correctly simulates stereo sound, playing out of my physical left and right speakers as I turned my avatar’s head to check for oncoming traffic. You likely recognize this as what happens in the physical world. Not often does an indie game seek to simulate life quite this mundane.

    After spending the night in a motel, a procedurally-generated but straightforward route to the next city is selected from a map. Each route might have rain, a supply stop, potholes, and other environmental conditions. Sometimes a route will unexpectedly have a bridge out, requiring a detour along train tracks. Toward the end of my playthrough the Laika dutifully forded an overflowing riverbed. Every route, hopefully, will have boxes along the road that can be searched for commodities to sell. If you’re lucky, you might come across abandoned cars from which to restock and loot parts. Just remember to turn the hazards on then off when leaving and entering the car, or the passenger, your uncle, will complain.

    The uncle is one of the more irritating aspects of the game and, for that reason, felt very necessary to the experience despite the ability to leave him at the starting point. Drive too fast and he’ll tell you to slow down. Choose to drive in the rain without the wipers and he’ll remind you where to find them. Start driving with the hazard lights on and he’ll passive-aggressively mutter, “Have mercy.” He tells you that if you turn the radio on he’ll get the hint and stop talking. I did, and he didn’t. Charitably I would attribute this to the game’s realistic portrayal of the man’s old age. Old age is, after all, how I have chosen to explain the disaster of stepping out of the car, falling into a ditch in the level geometry, and failing to reach back up to the road. My uncle, you see, was too frail to help me. Fortunately, you can reset your location to the start at any time, and your car keeps its upgrades.

    Jalopy
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 54%
    Gameplay - 12/20
    Graphics - 4/10
    Sound - 5/10
    Stability - 3/5
    Controls - 3/5

    Morality Score - 96%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8/10

    More realistically, I have to attribute the event to the game’s lack of polish. The graphics are crude, and cracks between entities in the environment are many. The in-game radio is bland. Jalopy is stable enough to handle repeated tabs in and out of the game (which many higher-budget games fail to accomplish). Keeping Spotify or a podcast on in the background makes good lemonade out of the lemon of Jalopy’s sound design. Event flags fail to trigger, sometimes leaving the uncle stranded outside of the car, refusing to come into the motel. The end of the game was not properly triggered until I quit and resumed. Items will jam in unreachable places on occasion, wasting your precious money. Worse than the glitches is the thorough lack of explanation of the car’s upgrades. Once you buy a new ignition coil you can see the stats, but all upgrade purchases are blind, with only the name and price to go by.

    The main virtue of the upgrades is that they don’t break down as quickly as the stock parts. The game was not hard to finish once I upgraded the car with some extra inventory space and random new parts. Only one long stretch of road between cities gave me any difficulty. My third time reaching that point, I coasted through and on to Istanbul. Again the game shows its indifference; there is no reason to take great care of the car or to learn which parts are valuable.

    There are few moral issues in the game. Wine and tobacco are valuable trade goods which are never consumed. Countries will ban the transport of certain items, so smuggling banned goods is a lucrative way to pay your way. The punishment for being caught smuggling is a fine at the border.

    It is difficult to recommend Jalopy. The game is buggy, limited, ugly, and short. It is not fun. My best times with the game came from having Spotify running in the background as I drove along the coast, speeding along without a care in the sunny weather. That did not happen often, punctuated as the game is by dangerous bugs. The pleasurable moments Jalopy gave me didn’t overcome the sense that there was something more engaging, more fun, more enhancing, or even more restful I’d rather be doing.

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    M4 Tank Brigade
    Developed By: iEntertainment Network
    Published By: iEntertainment Network
    Released: August 17, 2015 (Still in Early Access)
    Available On: Microsoft Windows, Macintosh
    Genre: Military Simulation, Action
    ESRB Rating: T
    Number of Players: Single player and online multiplayer
    MSRP: $14.99

    Thank you iEntertainment Network for sending us a copy of this game to review!

    M4 Tank Brigade is a World War II tank combat simulator. You control the tactical side by moving and positioning your units on the map. You can also switch to first person and manually drive a tank around. Additionally at your disposal are air strikes and artillery barrages that you can call forth from the map. The game allows you to play as both Axis and Allied forces through various campaigns and locales. There's also an online mode where you can play in campaigns with and against other people; there's also a leaderboard. M4 Tank Brigade is currently in Early Access and available on Steam.

    The first thing I noticed about this game is the insanely in-depth options menu. I was most blown away by the sound options. It seems like there's a slider for every individual sound in the game. There are also more control settings then I think I've ever seen in a video game before. I only used keyboard and mouse, and I didn't have any control issues. For all these options they also have a brief explanation of every setting, which is something I wish more games did. 

    M4 Tank Brigade
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Solid tactical tank combat; easy-to-use map; numerous game settings
    Weak Points: Graphics are ugly; sounds are poor quality; campaign is repetitive; the game has been completely abandoned by the developer
    Moral Warnings: Tank warfare violence; able to play as Nazi forces

    It's a shame the actual graphics and sounds are of such poor quality. All the models have a minimal polygon count, the textures are extremely low resolution, and the ground textures look stretched. There's very little in the way of color in this game. They put a lot of effort into making tons of historically accurate vehicles, but they all look ugly. There are very few buildings with collision, yet the tanks are programmed (poorly) to drive around them. So you end up watching your tanks zigzagging through a small town while clipping through every other building. The sound quality isn't much better: nearly every sound effect has a crackling sound and there's no music worth mentioning. The only voice acting exists in the tutorial, and it is laughably terrible. 

    The crux of the gameplay is in the tactical map.The tactical map shows the entire battlefield including the units you control as well as any enemy units you are in line of sight with. From this map you can control all the tanks in your unit and position them as you see fit. It updates in real time as you move your troops around and enemies come in sight. Besides using the map, you can individually drive and shoot with any tank you want. The gameplay is overall solid but not nearly as strategic as the game suggests. Most of the time I simply took the high ground and was able to defeat the enemy tanks, even on the hardest difficulty. The campaign, while lengthy, offers very little diversity of missions. Your only objectives are to assault or defend a circular portion of the map.

    All the game's features are explained in the tutorial but it is surprisingly hard to find. When you start the game there's an option for New User Interface and Classic Interface with New User Interface set as default. Swapping between the two options appears to do nothing. So I left it on New User Interface, and went into the Campaign; there I stumbled through the first few missions. It was only later when I decided to investigate Classic Interface again that I discovered what it does. When Classic is selected, the Campaign list will display the tutorial at the top. When New User Interface is selected the tutorial is hidden from the campaign. I have no idea why this feature was implemented this way; it seems completely backwards. I would recommend playing the tutorial before doing other missions because it does explain the controls and features fairly well. Do know that it also suffers from extremely cheesy voice acting. 

    M4 Tank Brigade
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 54%
    Gameplay - 14/20
    Graphics - 3/10
    Sound - 2/10
    Stability - 4/5
    Controls - 4/5

    Morality Score - 88%
    Violence - 7/10
    Language - 8.5/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8.5/10

    There is an online option for this game. In fact, on the Steam page, it implies that eventually, after enough features are added, the online would cost money. Don't worry though, I don't see that ever happening. I logged into the online mode and was initially surprised by the activity. At the time of writing this review, there are seven other people online, which is both surprising and extremely sad. There are currently three battles available, an "Easy Target Practice" and two timed campaigns. I was able to join only one of the campaigns, but never ran into another person. 

    This game is still in Early Access and I don't think that will ever change. It was brought onto Steam in August, 2015 and the last updated is from November, 2015. I'm going to make the bold assertion that this game has been abandoned. In fact the first two posts on the Steam discussion page for this game both ask about updates and wonder if the game has been abandoned. I checked out iEntertainment Network's website and social media pages, and it looks like they have completely moved on from this game. All their posts are about newer titles. As a result, I simply cannot recommend an abandoned game, even to those who love its particular genre. Games like this are why Steam Early Access has such a bad reputation.

    This is the kind of niche game I would usually recommend to fans of the genre. Sure the graphics and sounds are bad but the gameplay is decent, and there's a lot of content to go through. The only moral warnings are the tank-on-tank violence and the ability to pick Nazi forces. There's no story though, and you can exclusively play allied forces if you want. With that said,  because the developer promised future updates and completely abandoned the game I cannot recommend this to anyone. Steam Early Access has gotten a terrible reputation for being a wasteland of garbage, and this game is one of many reasons why.

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Make Sail
    Developed By: Popcannibal
    Published By: Popcannibal
    Released: March 30, 2018
    Available On: Linux, macOS, Windows
    Genre: Simulation
    ESRB Rating: None
    Number of Players: Single player
    Price: $19.99

    Thank you Popcannibal for sending us this game to review!

    Make Sail is a physics simulation where the majority of the game is spent designing and redesigning a boat to navigate stormy waters. It has a story, but it is very basic: there is a Tower that once had several Chimes and there were people living on the island with it. These people were happy with the Tower, until one day they set off for distant islands and took the Chimes with them. The Tower got lonely, and a huge storm broke out as a result.

    The game has very good audio and visual components, and seems to have a sort of cultural theme, as the beginning story is told on cloth. The graphics quality is adjustable, but the quality at default is incredible, and the surround sound is very good (I played this game wearing headphones). Make Sail also has a nice soundtrack; it fits the theme and is pleasant. It can be bought as DLC for $9.99. At the bottom left corner of the screen, there is a map, an indicator of the angle your boat is facing, and an indicator of how fast your boat is going in knots.

    Make Sail
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Has great graphics; physics are quite good and has a nice, easy interface
    Weak Points: Story is incredibly basic; has little to no storytelling other than in the very beginning; world generation is somewhat repetitive
    Moral Warnings: The Tower in the game has emotions and powers like that of a deity; a storm is caused by it

    There are quite a few components to the controls, but the gameplay seems to revolve around the construction and reconstruction of boats. The controls aren’t changeable, but there is a tutorial that helps you learn them, and a cheat sheet can be accessed at any time. As you sail around looking for Chimes, whose location are indicated by red pillars of light, there are control hints at the bottom of the screen for steering the boat. Every time you collect all of the Chimes for a ring of islands and bring it back to the Tower, the storm is pushed back and you can go grab more Chimes. The game saves every time you crash into an island and rebuild your boat. To go into the menu to edit your boat, the player’s character has to step into a circle reminiscent of a magic circle. The player can also change the name of their boat.

    When building the boat, the player has a variety of useful tools at their fingertips; most, if not all of these features have corresponding keyboard shortcuts. Some of these features include panning, zooming, and symmetry mode. The player is rewarded for completing the tutorial with new options for boat parts and decorations, and these parts and decorations can also be acquired by exploring every island. The items that a player has in one world do not show up in the others, except for the defaults that every world starts with. The building of the boat consists mainly of dragging the parts you want over the existing parts of the boat and attaching them wherever pleased. However, there is a limit to how many of one part you can have on the boat, and it will tell you when that limit is reached.

    Make Sail offers quite a bit of replayability, as it runs on a world system and every time you generate a new world, you start completely from scratch. The basic story is relaid, and you have to redo the tutorial, too. The world name is generated as well, and the worlds seem to generate differently too. When you launch the title screen, the game, by default, will have you start from the point you left off from the last world you played.

    Make Sail
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 82%
    Gameplay - 13/20
    Graphics - 10/10
    Sound - 9/10
    Stability - 4/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 94%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    The game also starts off with a config to adjust the graphics quality, and, upon launching, it will also let you know if any part of your computer is not sufficient for running the chosen quality of the game. (It says my graphics card is not powerful enough, but the game runs fine for me.) Once, I went to the bathroom, and came back to the title screen to find out that the menu song doesn’t seem to loop. Another time, I paused the game for a short period of time only to find that the game crashed. Right before you leave the game to go back to the title screen, you can save a GIF of the last 5-10 seconds of what you played, if desired. When you exit the game, you can report bugs, since it is still in Early Access.

    There is also a Creative Mode offered, where you can control the weather of the game, such as the roughness of the ocean, strength of the wind, and strength of the storm. You can also control the time of day, and how fast time passes. To access this creative mode, the player presses C. You also can access all building materials in the entire game in the boat building menu. The downside of this mode is that the only island in the world is the spawn island.

    If you are the type of person who likes sailing-related activities, and you have a lot of time on your hands, then this game may be for you!

    -Kittycathead

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    MEMETYPER
    Developed by: Yury Chadaev
    Published by: Lab-mobil
    Release date: September 27, 2017
    Available on: Windows
    Genre: Simulation
    Number of players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: Not rated
    Price: $0.99

    Thank you Lab-mobil for sending us this game to review!

    I have many years of experience of typing and reading Internet memes. MEMETYPER combines both of those abilities in a cheap little title that times how fast you can type silly meme phrases with two mistakes or less. There are over 9000!...er, I mean 900 memes to type and unlock. In case you’re wondering, the “It’s over 9000!” meme is in this game.

    The main game mode has twenty levels which have either one or multiple randomly selected memes to type out. Once a level is completed, the next one will become available. Finished levels will show your memes per second (MPS). As memes are unlocked, you’ll get a chance to read about their origin and relevance.

    MEMETYPER
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Over 900 memes and phrases to type as fast as you can
    Weak Points: It doesn’t take long to complete the twenty levels; low resolution
    Moral Warnings: Language, blaspheming; drug, alcohol, and sexual references

    It doesn’t take long to complete the twenty levels and after doing so, I only had around thirty memes unlocked of the nine hundred and twenty six available. The best way to unlock more memes is in the survival mode. No matter which mode you play, you’re limited to two mistakes. The survival mode just keeps on going until you mess up twice. The more memes you can do in a row, the more Steam achievements you can unlock. Of course, there are gimme Steam achievements for clicking “Play”, reading “How to play”, and opening the “Meme encyclopedia.” In total, there are nineteen Steam achievements available.

    Visually this game isn’t that impressive. The base resolution is low and some of the memes are pretty low quality. Many of the memes are older and definitely brought back memories. Remember Epic Sax Guy? The background music is just as memorable with classic tunes like the Nyan Cat theme and Hatsune Miku’s Ievan Polkka.

    MEMETYPER
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 70%
    Gameplay - 12/20
    Graphics - 6/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 62%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 0/10
    Sexual Content - 7/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 4/10

     

    While I often found the memes silly and fun to type, many of them are not appropriate for younger audiences. There are some derogatory terms like fag, gay, and retard. Other memes have blaspheming and language which you have to type out if you don’t want to lose your stellar streak in survival mode. Last but not least, there are some drug, alcohol, and sexual references.

    In the end, MEMETYPER is a silly game that has a niche audience. If you like to challenge your typing skills to silly memes, then you should consider adding this game to your collection. It’s a pretty good way to increase your Steam achievement/game completion ratio. The 99 cent price of admission won’t break the bank either. Even though many of the memes are kid friendly, the few that are not should be considered before buying this game for a young one.

  •  

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Mighty Monster Mayhem
    Developed By: Rank17
    Published By: Rank17
    Release Date: April 20, 2017
    Available On: Windows (HTC Vive or Oculus Rift VR headset required)
    ESRB Rating: N/A
    Genre: Action/Simulation/Sandbox
    Mode: Single Player, with online co-op
    MSRP: $14.99

    Thank you Rank17 for sending us this game to review!

    In our age of early virtual reality (VR) experiences, Rank17 has covered most of the bases. They have their sports game (VR Baseball, not reviewed). They have their wave shooter/melee game (BladeShield), and they have their arcade style game (Super Pixel Smash). They even have a zombie shooter (Armed Against the Undead). And with Mighty Monster Mayhem, they also have their Rampage in VR experience. Thankfully, it covers what is important in that genre pretty well.

    For those not familiar, Rampage was a classic (1985) arcade game where George, Izzy, and Ralph, a giant gorilla, lizard, and wolf, respectively, set about to destroy a town by gobbling up humans and wrecking nearby skyscrapers. There is some kind of story behind it (and even a major motion picture that was released this year starting Dwayne Johnson), but it was always secondary to the action of bashing buildings, eating people for snacks, and knocking helicopters out of the sky.

    There are actually several Rampage clones in VR these days, including one another reviewer played on Oculus Rift, called VRobot. I can’t speak to that game, but my son said he slightly prefers this game over that one.

    Mighty Monster Mayhem
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: You get to wreck buildings as a giant creature; fun sandbox to break stuff in; innovative locomotion method; voice acting is pretty good
    Weak Points: Controls can be wonky at times; military enemies can be challenging to stop if you want to stay alive
    Moral Warnings: The story is a revenge plot; you eat people, and red splurts out of them; people and property destruction is required in order for you to progress

    The backstory on this one is that you take the role of an ostracized scientist who intends to take revenge on those who insulted him and his work. Fully ready for the mad scientist role, you step into his place and you can hear him talk as you smash the town to bits. Some of the voice work is done pretty well, and I had fun hearing it. It does start to repeat after a while though, and he rarely keeps to himself, so some players may find him annoying. I did not.

    Each level has a primary objective of destroying a certain number of buildings, along with some handy secondary ones. These include eating scientists or soldiers, destroying mailboxes, recovering DNA, and more. Doing so can sometimes unlock other characters rather than just the default purple giant cephalopod. There are golems, oni, insects, and reptiles available to round out the roster. And there are several different levels with objectives to complete in each one as well.

    The main thing about a VR game of this nature isn’t the graphics or sound, though those are important, but the mechanics of smashing things. And this is quite good, though not without the occasional bug or misdetection. The mechanics of punching, ripping apart walls, or picking up and throwing things is decent, though not great. What I really enjoyed was the unique approach to movement it took.

    Most VR games 'play it safe,' and have teleport movement only. This means that you point where you want to go, and you are instantly transported there. This works great for many types of games, but not as much for action ones. What they did here is kind of genius. To walk, you click in the grips on the Vive controller, and move your arms in a doggy-paddle like motion. Since you are moving your body, you rarely get sick, and it’s a natural way to move around. I like it. To climb up buildings, you reach up, pull the trigger, and pull down. It’s pretty natural, and well done. You can also leap off of the buildings, which feels crazy since the buildings are so tall.

    Mighty Monster Mayhem
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 74%
    Gameplay - 14/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 9/10
    Stability - 4/5
    Controls - 3/5

    Morality Score - 76%
    Violence - 4/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 9/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 5/10

    Of course, with all of that movement, sometimes I found myself slightly motion sick, but it wasn’t bad enough for me to want to stop playing. I drank a glass of water afterwards, and I was fine. The graphics are believable, but nothing special. When picking up people off of the street, they look like the most simple of models, with little more than some face lines drawn on. It makes sense they would be simple given the desire for frame rate over expense when keeping a good experience relies on that more than most other considerations.

    The music and sound effects/voices are actually quite good. I found myself actively enjoying the music, and the voice acting does a great job of making you feel a little crazy given the subject at hand. Hearing him talk about how smelly other scientists are and how he still wanted to eat them was worth a nice laugh.

    Morally, the expected is here. Lots of violence, and you eat people for fun and they splat red, so there’s that. You are actively ignoring (or destroying) the local military and police, as well. The goal is to get revenge against others, which is hardly wholesome. It is notoriously difficult to take good notes while playing a VR game, but I did not catch any curse words to the best of my memory.

    Mighty Monster Mayhem is exactly what it says on the tin – you get to romp around town as a giant monster, and rip apart the town. And you get to do it as a mad scientist, who says many crazy things off-the-cuff. What else is there to say? If that sounds fun to you, then give it a shot – you may just like it.

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Motorsport Manager
    Developed by: Playsport Games
    Published by: Sega (PC)
    Release Date: November 9, 2016 (Windows) November 23, 2016 (Linux)
    Available on: iOS, Android, MacOS, Windows PC, Linux PC
    Genre: Simulator
    Number of Players: 1
    ESRB Rating: E
    Price: $34.99 
    (Humble Store Link)

    Do you enjoy the feel of ripping down the racetrack in a pack of aggressive drivers at 180 miles per hour?  Do you love the thrill of dueling for first place?  Have you loved race car driving games since you were a small child?  If so, then this game isn't for you.  On the other hand, if you like making strategic decisions during a race, like which tires to put on the car at the next pit stop or how much to tweak the suspension based on driver feedback, then this is your game.  Motorsport Manager is a management simulator where the player takes on the role of manager of an international Formula One racing team.

    There are two main modes of gameplay.  The first is where all the racing team management happens.  This is where the player manages personnel, car maintenance and upgrades, corporate sponsors and racing league politics.  I must admit a lot of the things a team manager deals with in this game is stuff that had never occurred to me.  You start off choosing an International racing team to manage, each with a different amount of starting money and prestige.  As the manager, you decide which corporate sponsors to sign contracts with based on the base amount of money, length of the contract and bonuses for good performance in the race.  You have to scout out new team members to replace under-performing members of your team and that doesn't just include drivers.  It also includes the mechanic for each car and the technical team leader.  You not only have to consider the various skills of the prospective new hire but also the chemistry between teammates.  A driver who gets along well with the mechanic will get bonuses during the race.  Mind you, when you send an offer of employment to a prospective new hire they may or may not accept it based on their own expectations and how much in demand they may be.

    On top of that, you manage the cars themselves, directing your technical team to upgrade components which, depending on exactly how it's done, may risk being caught in a racing rules violation.  As if that weren't enough to keep track of, the driver of each car is going to have an opinion about the upgrades you put on the car.  Keeping the drivers happy is important!  

    Still not enough to keep track of?  Not to worry.  You manage the physical facilities the racing team uses as its headquarters and build new buildings or upgrade old ones as needed.  Of course, these things take vast amounts of money so your team had better have good contracts with your sponsors!  The game has a simulated social media feed giving you a sense of public opinion about your team and its performance, and of course there's always the team owner's happiness to consider, or your job security may be at risk...

    Motorsport Manager
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Plenty to do, highly detailed 
    Weak Points: The cars are the centerpiece of racing, but we don't get to see them race up close
    Moral Warnings: Mild Language

    There's even a section for racing league politics.  A new rule is proposed to make a change to one of the race tracks.  Do you vote for or against?  Maybe you abstain for now so you have greater voting power later.  The choice is yours, and based on the strengths and weaknesses of your team.  If your drivers are strong in the low speed, tight turns then a change to a track that adds a new curve might be to your benefit.  Not so much if your cars perform poorly at low speeds, however. 

    The second mode is race mode, where the player assumes real-time control of the racing team on race day.  The team fields two cars in each race, and each is managed separately.  This is where the player decides what kinds of tires to put on each car during each pit stop, maintenance to be performed on the cars and the strategies the driver should use.  It starts with practice laps, which are optional but well worth doing to fine tune the car's mechanical settings.  Based on driver feedback, you can adjust things like the angle of the front and rear wings, the stiffness of the suspension and transmission gearing.  If the driver complains that the car handles poorly at high speeds you can make adjustments to correct it to his or her preferences.  The two cars are tuned separately, because each driver has a different set of preferences and skills. 

    Then, there's the qualifier and the race.  There's one last opportunity to tune the car and choose the tires before the race begins, and there's plenty to do.  As the manager, you keep an eye on the weather so you can make choices about tires in upcoming pit stops.  Even if the weather is dry, do you use soft tires which last longer but aren't quite as fast, or do you push the car's speed with even softer tires for the extra speed, knowing they won't last as long?  How much fuel do you add in the pit?  Do you want to make any repairs to the car while it's there?  Every decision you make affects how long the car is in the pit stop.  Push the pit crew too hard and they might make a mistake, costing even more time.  

    It isn't just the pit crew that can be pushed too hard.  If your driver is told to drive aggressively, the car will take more severe wear and tear requiring more pit stop time.  Should the driver be more conservative to save fuel, or would you rather have them push hard for a few laps to try to gain a lead?  Should the driver be aggressive and take risks to get ahead during the slower turns, knowing this will wear down the tires and suspension faster, or should they hang back a bit and outlast the cars in front of them that may need to pit soon?  All of this and you're making decisions for two cars in the race, not just one.  This is a racing team, and you can have the cars help each other as well.  

    The game is controlled entirely with menus and buttons.  Since the player doesn't actually drive the cars the only input device needed is the mouse.  During the race the player can control the camera to allow the track to be seen from multiple angles.  There's also a zoom feature but the difference between fully zoomed in and fully zoomed out isn't much at all.  Even when zoomed in to the maximum, details of the cars still aren't visible, and when zoomed out to the maximum amount the entire track isn't visible.  It just feels like a feature that's only there because people expect it to be, but isn't really that useful.  

    Races can be long.  Very long.  Time can be sped up if things are happening too slowly (which is a strange problem in a racing game) but even at max speed the race is going to take at least a half hour or so.  That's fine with me, since I wouldn't set it much faster than that even if I could because there's plenty to do and keep track of.  With the physical condition of two cars, watching the weather and making real time decisions about how aggressive the drivers should be, it's hard to be idle. 

    This game has no multiplayer mode, which is a shame because the potential is there to let players pit their championship racing teams against each other.

    Motorsport Manager
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 86%
    Gameplay - 18/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 92%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 8/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    The graphics in the management section consist mostly of menus, which are clear and easy to read.  There's also a distinctly technical feel to them which I liked.  In race mode, the actual track and the cars are visible.  Buildings are rendered as 3D objects in the world.  The cars are also 3D objects but are only visible from a distance. Again, even when zoomed in as much as possible it's difficult to see details on the cars at all, and the only thing to distinguish the cars from each other is the body color.  I suppose the 3D buildings are gobbling so much of the GPU's power that to zoom in very close to the cars would really hurt the frame rate, but I feel like it would have been worth it to trade off a little more of the environment to get a better view of the focus of the game: The cars.  Maybe I'm a little more disappointed by this than I ought to be, but I got into this game in the first place because the little boy in me just loves to watch F1 cars zoom around a racetrack up close.

    I did like that as the race progresses, the track looks less and less clean as the cars leave rubber on the track from the tires.  I also like that when it rains,  the view is slightly distorted as if rain drops were hitting the "camera lens."  It's very subtle so that it's still easy to see what's happening, but it looks great.  These effects add a good bit of realism to the experience.

    The sound effects are adequate if not particularly memorable.  Get used to the sound of race car engines, as that's really the centerpiece.  I'm not completely sure but I think the sound does change somewhat as the engines sustain wear and tear during a race, but it's subtle and may just be my imagination.  When drivers send radio messages from the track it sounds like a generic static garbled message.  It's not meant to be understood.  Instead the text is displayed on screen when the driver speaks.  I can understand why they did it; unless the developers got a ton of voice actors to provide a wide variety of voices, every driver would just sound the same anyway and this approach seems to be a reasonable compromise.  Still, it makes the game feel like it has less production value.

    The game didn't have any crashes or issues on my HP gaming laptop with Windows 7. The frame rate was somewhat low during races and my graphics card isn't very old.  The only big drain I can see would be from the 3D environment, unless the 3D models of the cars are far more detailed than it seems.  Load times are decent and the audio remained smooth throughout.

    This game is free from moral issues for the most part, though a player can have the chief designer modify the car in such a way as to potentially break the racing league rules. Radio messages from drivers (displayed as text) sometimes contain mild profanity when they're frustrated during a race, but nothing one wouldn't hear on regular broadcast television.  It's refreshing to play a game where nobody's getting killed.  Cars do occasionally crash, but I have yet to see a fatal one.

    I like this game a lot.  It's very detailed, so I think it'll be a lot more fun after I get over the learning curve and start to really feel like I know what I'm doing, and I'm eager to get there.  I highly recommend it for any die hard fan of racing as a sport, but not for those who like more action oriented racing games.

     

  •  

    boxart
    Game Info:

    My Time at Portia
    Developed by: Pathea Games
    Published by: Team17
    Release date: January 15, 2019
    Available on: Windows (macOS coming soon)
    Genre: Simulation
    Number of players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: E 10+ for alcohol references, fantasy violence, mild suggestive themes
    Price: $29.99
    (Humble Store Link)

    Thank you Team17 for sending us this game to review!

    My Time at Portia can be described as the love child between Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Minecraft. The charming music, colorful 3D world, monster-filled caverns, and the ever-familiar circular stamina gauge will welcome action-seeking gamers. Those who like to mine, craft, farm, and interact with villagers will feel right at home in this small town.

    My Time at Portia begins with your customized character taking possession of a workshop left behind by their father. Portia is a small village and as you develop your crafting skills, you’ll aid in the town’s growth too. This game is very open-ended with many story-progressing quests that have no expiration date. You’re free to farm, mine, date, and craft to your heart’s content. Money can be earned by selling items you harvest or create, but your biggest source of income will be from completing commissions from the town or the people within. Every commission you finish on time boosts your reputation with the town and with the person who gave you the job.

    Most of the commissions have expiry dates and you’ll have to pay attention to those if you want to keep your workshop in good standing. At the end of every month/season, the top three workshops are given nice prizes in recognition for their services. The number one builder is a bit of a jerk and knocking his business down to second place is both challenging and rewarding. Having a premier workshop unlocks one of the ninety-one Steam achievements available.

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Fun gameplay with many open-ended as well as timed quests to complete
    Weak Points: Many broken quests; slowdowns and crashes; only partially voice acted
    Moral Warnings: Drinking and gambling; fantasy violence; ghosts; same sex relationships are possible; religion is shown in a negative light

    The days go by pretty quickly as every second is equivalent to a minute in Portia time. If you’re not in bed by 3:00 AM, the game will put you there forcibly. That’s another possible Steam achievement. The businesses and town hall have hours of operation that you’ll need to pay attention to. It helps to arrive at the town hall first thing in the morning if you want to get first dibs at the available commissions.

    Each townsperson has their own personality and daily schedule that they follow. Some of the characters are more likable than others and each has their own backstory that you can learn about if you spend time with them. To increase favor with someone you can talk to them; challenge them to rock, paper, scissors; spar; or give them a gift. When it comes to gift-giving, each person has their own preferences on what they like to receive and avoid getting. As relationships develop, side missions/stories become available.

    Any townsperson who is not married is eligible for dating regardless of their gender. The fact that every single villager is bisexual is my biggest moral complaint in this otherwise family friendly game. There are other moral issues worth mentioning like gambling and some drinking references. The village has a day for remembering deceased loved ones and decorates the town with ghosts. As you mine, you’ll uncover data discs and artifacts from the previous civilization. You can take these data discs to the research center to unlock new equipment or give them to the nature-worshiping church who abhors technology. While the planters and trees from the church are helpful, you’re at a technological disadvantage if you side with them. There are Steam achievements for giving one hundred discs to either group or both of them!

    My Time at Portia
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 80%
    Gameplay - 18/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 3/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 78%
    Violence - 8/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 6/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8/10

    Like many games, My Time at Portia started in Early Access and in my opinion, it left a bit too soon. In my sixty hours of playing this game, I have encountered several slowdowns, a crashes to desktop, and many broken quests. Thankfully, many of the bugs are addressed in a roundabout fashion. For example, on dates you can go to specific areas to trigger an activity. If you decide to go out to dinner, the option to eat together often does not appear as it does for other events, but after a short while, your date will ask if you want to sit down and order. Relationships are pretty tame and you can cuddle/hug, kiss, and receive shoulder rubs/massages from your partner. The massages restore a small amount of stamina, and all of the options add relationship points. Having or adopting children is possible no matter which gender you decide to marry. Same-sex couples can adopt a child from the church.

    A couple of my outings with my boyfriend/spouse were botched due to quest bugs. For example, when I first started dating the civil service corps captain, Arlo, he wanted me to meet him by a desert for a gorgeous view. I accepted his invitation and off he went! I don’t know how he arrived at the location, but I could not meet him there since I was not far enough along in the game’s story to have built a bridge there yet! Since the mission had an expiration date, I had to reload my save and decline the offer so I would not lose relationship points for standing him up. Saving is only done when you go to bed for the night so I did lose a significant amount of progress. Eventually that mission opportunity disappeared as our relationship progressed so I’m not sure what I missed there. On another date suggestion of his, we were to climb up by the church and take photographs. The only downside is that I had not obtained or learned how to make a camera yet. That mission failed but I was already married to him at this time and I don’t think our relationship suffered much as a result.

    Since its release there have been many bug fixes and even some setbacks. Hopefully the developers continue to listen to the community and further polish this game. As fun as this game is, I can’t wholeheartedly recommend it due to the same-sex and stability issues. I doubt they’ll be removing the political correctness, but I do hope that Pathea continues fixing the many bugs that were not squashed in Early Access.

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Ocean Rift
    Developed By: Llyr ap Cenydd
    Published By: Picselica
    Release Date: April 1, 2016
    Available on: Gear VR, Oculus Rift (reviewed)
    Genre: Casual
    Number of Players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: Not rated
    Version reviewed: 1.04
    Price: $9.99

    Thank you Llyr ap Cenydd for sending us a review code!

    Ocean Rift was first released for the Gear VR in November of 2015.  It’s a casual sea exploration game where you can visit twelve different habitats of exotic and extinct sea creatures.     If you ever wanted to swim with dolphins, orca whales, manatees, or sea lions, you’ll probably enjoy this game.  Nothing can compare to swimming with them in real life, but this is a close second since you don’t have to worry about safety or oxygen levels.

    The Gear VR has a built in touch pad for controls so the control scheme is pretty simple on the Oculus version.  There is support for both the Oculus remote and the Xbox One controller. Unfortunately, I had trouble maneuvering the game’s menu with the controller so I primarily used the remote.   The controller has more features when it comes to interacting with the animals, but I never was able to do much with them no matter how many times I pressed the B interact button.  The developer has shared video footage of the game with touch controls and I look forward to it!

    Ocean Rift
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Virtually swim with exotic and extinct creatures
    Weak Points: Not much interaction with the animals; some of the water is too cloudy to locate creatures  
    Moral Warnings: None!

    Some of the habitats have hoops, rings, and dead fish for the animals to interact with, but throughout my adventures I felt like nothing more than an observer.   The environments for the most part look great with the sunken ships, columns, and statues on the sea floor.  However, the prehistoric habitat for the pliosaurus is very murky and it took me a few tries before I was able to actually find it.    I was able to find other living creatures like squids and giant snails.     

    The most unique habitat is the deep sea one which is dark and illuminated by glowing jelly fish.  You can bump into them as much as you like since there is no penalty or pain in doing so.  The great white shark habitat has you in a diving cage and some small fish will swim in there to keep you company while the shark swims by and bumps into it.  I tried handing off my Rift to my kids in this level and it didn’t seem to faze them at all.  Some people may get a jump out of it though. 

    Ocean Rift
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 70%
    Gameplay - 12/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 3/5

    Morality Score - 100%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    Other animals you can swim with include hump back whales, reef sharks, sea turtles, and sea snakes.  The swimming motions are fluid and the creatures all look realistic.  Many of the animals can go up to the surface for air, but it’s not allowed for the player.

    You can bump into some of the animals and doing so shows mixed results.  Sometimes it looked natural and other times I was able to see inside of the models.  When swimming into a manatee I saw their eyeballs floating inside of it.  

    Ocean Rift is safe for marine animal lovers of all ages.  There’s a fair amount of environments to explore, but the $10 price tag seems a bit steep for an application that quickly loses its appeal.  While it looks and runs nice, without animal interaction it’s not much more than a virtual reality screen saver.  The website has some links to demos worth checking out.   If you love the notion of swimming with dolphins, sea lions, and manatees then this title is worth considering when it goes on sale. 

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Oh Sir! The Insult Simulator
    Developed by: Vile Monarch
    Published by: Gambitious Digital Entertainment
    Release date: October 25, 2016
    Available on: Windows, Mac, Linux
    Number of players: Up to two
    Genre: Simulation
    ESRB Rating: Not rated
    Price: $1.99
    (Humble Store Link)

    Thank you Vile Monarch for providing us with a review code!

    While it’s not to everyone’s liking, many people do enjoy British humor.  One shining example is the classic film, Monty Python and the Holy Grail.   That movie is a cult classic that has been quoted for decades. Not surprisingly, many of the popular phrases from that film made it into this $1.99 game. 

    In Oh Sir! The Insult Simulator your goal is to win an argument by piecing together insults from a common pool of words and phrases.  You can only pick one word/phrase at a time and have fifteen seconds to do so.  Besides the common pool of words, you have two unique ones that you can swap out once per round by taking a sip of tea.   When your insult is as good as you can get it you’ll have to press the “!” button to finish.  Once both combatants are done they’ll say their insults and points will be deducted from their health accordingly.  The first to lose all of their health, loses.

     
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: A silly game that lets you insult your computer, friends and complete strangers
    Weak Points: You can get trapped with no valid phrases to select
    Moral Warnings: References to sex, farts, inbreeding, and the words b*stard and  arse are used; you can insult "God" who looks and sounds like Morgan Freeman

     

    There have been times where both health bars have been depleted in the same round.  In the case of an impasse, the game turns into a sudden death mode where the next insult will settle it.  To get the most points per insult there are several factors to take into consideration.  Each of the six characters has a sensitive subject; be sure to talk about it every chance you get.  For example, some characters may be sensitive to their appearance/sense of style, their age/death, family, or technology. 

    Each argument has a silly scenario and environment to go along with it and if you use that in your argument, you’ll be awarded more points.  Last but not least are combos.  If you insult their mother, father, son, or auntie, keep doing it in the next round for a combo bonus.

    Oh Sir! The Insult Simulator
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 84%
    Gameplay - 18/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 72%
    Violence - 8/10
    Language - 6.5/10
    Sexual Content - 5/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 6.5/10

    More scenarios and characters are available if you play through the offline tournament mode.  The last challenge lets you insult God (who looks and sounds like Morgan Freeman), and if you win you’ll get to find out the meaning of life.  While it’s fun to throw insults at your computer, the real fun is insulting your friends or complete strangers online or via couch co-op.  Who wouldn’t want to tell someone “Your mother farted on your cousin’s car and I have proof!” I have found plenty of people to hurl insults at online and this game keeps track of the number of times you win, lose, or run away from a battle.  Your performance will be ranked accordingly.

    While insulting your computer and people is fun, there are some moral issues to mention.  Many of the insults revolve around alcohol, inbreeding, steaming romps, and insulting people’s intelligence.  You can insult your opponent, their clothes, spouse, children, auntie, and even their math teacher.  Monty Python fans will appreciate the hamster, elderberries, and farting in general direction options.  Of course throwing in communists, Nazis, the pope, and the royal family guarantees some chuckles too.  Unfortunately, some words like arse and b*stard are seen occasionally.

    At the time of this review, finding players to spar against online didn’t take very long.  Hopefully the attractive price and silly concept keep players interested for a while yet.  If nobody is available online, you can still play couch co-op or spar against the computer.  My kids enjoyed watching me play this game and got some good laughs out of it.  If it wasn’t for the language and sexual references I’d highly recommend it.

     

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Overcooked! 2
    Developed by: Ghost Town Games
    Published by: Team17
    Release date: August 7, 2018
    Available on: Linux, macOS, PS4, Switch, Xbox One, Windows
    Genre: Simulation
    ESRB Rating: Everyone
    Number of players: Up to four locally or online
    Price: $29.99
    (Amazon Affiliate Link)

    Thank you Team17 for sending us this game and the Surf ‘n’ Turf DLC!

    I enjoyed playing the first Overcooked with my kids; the problem is that they did not enjoy playing it with me. I got too into this game and would yell at my kids to do various tasks before the time ran out. I wasn’t being offensive with my yelling, but my kids didn’t appreciate me barking orders to them like “chop the onions!” or “wash the dishes!” It took some convincing, but I did get them to play the sequel with me and I dialed back my enthusiasm and we all had fun this time around.

    If you’re not familiar with the first game, this series is a frantic cooking simulator where you have to quickly serve up dishes while coping with whacky kitchen configurations and obstacles. Many of the kitchens are divided with ingredients on one side and the means to prepare them on the other. It doesn’t take long for conveyor belts to make an appearance and they limit the flow of traffic significantly. In other levels, the kitchen separates and only comes together for brief moments so you have to time your movements accordingly and throw across the materials you need ahead of time.

    Overcooked! 2
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Fun and frantic cooperative cooking game; online gameplay
    Weak Points: Playing by yourself is not very fun; hard to communicate online without voice chat
    Moral Warnings: Zombie bread slices are invading the Onion Kingdom

    If you’re playing solo (not recommended) you can toggle between the two chefs with the trigger buttons. I like how you can start a chef on a task like chopping and have the other chef work on other preparations or cleaning dirty dishes. Since time is limited, you’ll want to be utilizing both chefs as much as possible.

    On each level you can earn up to three stars by successfully completing orders on time. If an order times out or is made incorrectly, valuable points will be deducted from your total. If certain objectives are met, hidden levels will be revealed on the map. As you earn more stars, more levels and recipes will be revealed and new chefs will unlock. If you’re not happy with the default selection, more chefs can be purchased via DLC.

    The story in the sequel is rather silly as the Onion King accidentally raises up a bunch of previous dead slices of bread dubbed “The Unbread.” These zombie slices of bread have an insatiable appetite and you must feed them to keep the kingdom safe. In the Surf ‘n’ Turf DLC the Onion King is sent on a tropical vacation (exiled) for his actions and you must cook up some great recipes to raise his approval ratings and get him reinstated.

    Overcooked! 2
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 88%
    Gameplay - 18/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 94%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    One of the biggest improvements from the original game is the addition of online multiplayer. You can create private matches or join public games. It didn’t take me too long to get a three chef match going. It’s also worth noting that there is no cross play between platforms so your mileage may vary on finding people to play with online. While the online multiplayer is fun, it’s hard to coordinate and cooperate without voice chat capabilities. I still prefer couch co-op the best. You can play cooperatively or competitively in versus matches.

    The colorful visuals are very similar to the first game and are just as charming. The finished meals do look scrumptious so it’s probably best to not play this game on an empty stomach. Also like the first game, the voice acting is gibberish with subtitles. I like how they add a “bark” caption for whenever the king’s dog, Kevin, barks. Though the background music is pleasant, it’s not very memorable.

    If you enjoyed the first Overcooked game, Overcooked! 2 is worth looking into. Ideally it’s best enjoyed with friends so make you have enough controllers handy. Online is also an option now, though giving orders (gently) is still more efficient. I look forward to playing this game more with my kids.

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Pizza Express
    Developed by: Onni Interactive
    Published by: Black Shell Media
    Release date: June 25, 2015
    Available on: Windows
    Genre: Simulation
    Number of players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: Not rated
    Price: $6.99

    Thank you Black Shell Media for sending us this game to review!

    Are you tired of eating crappy pizza?  Do you have an awesome idea for a delicious pizza?  Do you want to run your own pizzeria?  If you have answered yes to any of these questions, then you’ll probably enjoy Pizza Express.  In this retro themed 2D game you get to help your friend Gastone open up a pizza restaurant.  While his bank pays out a good interest rate every ten days, there is no credit.  In other words, if you go bankrupt, the game is over and you’ll have to try again.

    In the beginning there are a handful of pizza recipes to choose from and some of them don’t even use cheese!  While eating cheese-free pizza is unorthodox, it does make the dairy intolerant customers happy.  At first there are not many ingredients to work with in regards to designing your pizzas, but as you progress in the thirty-day story campaign you’ll unlock them.  There are one-hundred and sixty Steam achievements and many of them are based on how many pizzas you make and how many calories you have delivered. 

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Fun game with silly characters and dialogue; Steam cloud saves
    Weak Points: Distracting retro graphics and music
    Moral Warnings: Some name calling and casual use of the word hell

    Making the pizzas is pretty straightforward and mostly involves dragging and dropping the proper ingredients into place.  If you hover over the ordered item, it will display the icons for the necessary ingredients.  Due to the pixilated graphics design, it’s not very obvious what the ingredients actually are.  When a pizza is completed you simply left click on it to send it to the oven or right click on it to scrap it if you messed up.  Speed and accuracy are key to higher grades for the works and the restaurant itself.  

    Since your goal is to be a successful pizzeria, you must be profitable and recognizable.  Throughout the story you’ll be visited by several food critics and inspectors.  If you can make them happy your restaurant will be off to a good start.  Be sure to implement their feedback about menu choices and food quality.

    Not only are you responsible for making the pizzas, you’re also in charge of all aspects of running this restaurant.  You’ll be handling the operating hours, décor, food vendors, and marketing.  There are good and bad forms of marketing.  Some of the cheaper methods like spamming people’s e-mail may get the word out, but not in a good way.

    Pizza Express
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 72%
    Gameplay - 16/20
    Graphics - 5/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 3/5

    Morality Score - 95%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 7.5/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    Like many restaurants there are busy and slow periods of time.    While it’s slow you can speed up the clock by pressing the 1-4 number keys.  As you’re making pizzas you’ll have to watch your inventory count and right click on items to re-stock them.  There’s a limit of three deliveries at a time so be sure to pace yourself accordingly.  The cost and arrival time of the deliveries depends on which vendor you are using.  The faster service has a higher cost.  

    If you just like making pizzas, there are endurance and arcade modes to try.  The story mode is fun and has some silly characters and scenarios.  There are various scandals and choices that you make that alter your relationships with various people in the game.  There is some name calling and casual use of the word hell.

    While I can appreciate some retro themed games, some titles like this one can overdo it.  I think better graphics would have made this game easier to use.  The chiptune music is catchy at times and has gotten stuck in my head.  I enjoyed some of the electronica styled tracks more than others.

    In the end, Pizza Express is a cute game that is intentionally rough around the edges.  The gameplay is solid and enjoyable and I highly recommend it for those who really like pizza or restaurant manager type games.     

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Princess Maker 2 Refine
    Developed by: CFK Co. Ltd.
    Published by: CFK Co. Ltd.
    Release Date: September 28, 2016Available on: Windows
    Genre: Visual novel, Simulation
    Players: 1
    ESRB Rating: Unrated
    Price: $19.99

    Thank you NCM Company for sending us the review code.

    Thanks to the digital age early titles in the PC world are slowly coming to audiences that may not have had the chance to play them before. Princess Maker 2, a visual novel like princess management game is one such cult classic. Originally released in 1993, CFK Company has decided to release an official English version with updated visuals and improvements. Let's see how a PC classic holds up to today's standards with Princess Maker 2 Refine.

    Princess Maker 2 is a game that's part visual novel and part stat management. You are an unnamed king who is given a child from the gods after defeating the vile demons that threatened your kingdom. It is up to you to raise this girl from the age of 10 to the age of 18. Once she hits 18 the game will end and give you whatever ending you have earned. Your daughter can become anything from a bar wench or harlot to a queen or a general of the military. The endings are mostly focused on stats. You increase everything from strength and magical abilities to your grace, poise and morality. Hidden stats might include relationships with certain NPCs or maternal instincts. The endings you go for will have multiple variations depending on if you get married, your stats and the career your daughter chooses. In one ending she became a popular clown due to high performance skills, yet in another version of the same ending she also got married to my butler because of a high relationship stat with him.

    Princess Maker 2 Refine
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Relaxing game with multiple endings; complex but easy to understand.
    Weak Points: The game gets repetitive rather easily.
    Moral Warnings: Not the best representation of parenting, you can end up making your daughter into a evil woman or a prostitute, nudity

    To make time progress you have to plan your daughter's schedule with different activities. You get three blocks of time every month to do whatever you feel is best for her. You can have your daughter take classes to raise the various stats in the game from art classes to fencing or kung fu. You can ask her to get different jobs to earn money to spend on items and classes. Job options open up as she gets older and she can earn money working on a farm to becoming a cabaret dancer after a few years. Some jobs can lower stats so be aware it can lock you out of endings to focus on one job for too long or too little. You can also give your daughter free time to reduce stress or take her on vacation. Gold is the main resource to do a lot in this game. You will have to equip your daughter with weapons and armor for combat events. Particular items can raise stats and you have to have enough gold to get full benefits for a week of classes. Aside from your daughter's labors, you get a bonus of 500 gold every year to spend on her. During harvest festival events she can compete in artistic, cooking and combat competitions to earn cash for herself. One of the last activities you can fill her schedule with is errantry. You send her to one of four different places to complete different tasks, find treasures and fight against monsters that may even drop gold. Errantry makes the game like an old JRPG with a map to travel and explore. You return home automatically once the allocated block of time is up or if you get defeated in battle. Please note that battling does not give you stat increases or level ups of any kind. Your combat skill depends solely on the stats you train within the city.

    The game has a decent soundtrack that is reminiscent of anime instrumental track's that played to various emotions. Most of the game's graphics are still shot images with animation only when she's walking around the different errand maps or when she's doing jobs and classes to show her progress. There is no worry about control issues as mostly everything is done with the mouse. When you are on the errand maps you can move around with WASD. In this remake you can also expect voice acting segments for your princess and Cube, the butler, in Japanese.

    Princess Maker 2 Refine
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 80%
    Gameplay - 13/20
    Graphics - 10/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 60%
    Violence - 8/10
    Language - 8/10
    Sexual Content - 4/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 5/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 5/10

    Notable cons will depend on how well you feel classic games have aged. You have no direct control in your child's classes or jobs and only watch the animations as she learns or works. There are no other errand maps to explore aside from the four you get and events on those maps are not repeatable. Once you solve the events on each map, that is all you're going to get. The story and dialogue can be fun the first time, but as you chase different endings you might find yourself speeding up the game simply to get to the point. Some may also find it strange that your kingdom's finances depend on your daughters work or victory in competitions. The bonus you get at the end of the fiscal year is always 500 gold which quickly becomes a paltry sum as your daughter gets older.

    This game can present several moral issues for a lot of players. You can make your child into an immoral sinner. This can lead to several evil endings including being a demon queen, a high class prostitute, or a crime lord. Why you would want that for your child is beyond me. You do dress your daughter in outfits. Some choices in clothing you can give her are revealing. She can also be seen with nothing on and expose her breasts and rear end.  The lack of direct support you can give to your child may also be heart wrenching for some people. You are sitting on your throne while your daughter lives out life on her own. The Princess Maker series is a series that is on its 5th game so maybe parental roles improve, but you can feel the series in its infancy with this remake. Violence in combat sections is strictly old school JRPG. You wont see any gore or blood in the battles you'll face. This game should probably stay out of the hands of anyone under the age of 16.

    If you want to prove you can raise a princess in a anime kingdom then Princess Maker 2 Refine will give you a classic experience to prove you can mold a protagonist.

     

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Project Highrise
    Developed by: SomaSim
    Published: Kasedo Games
    Release date: September 8, 2016
    Available on: macOS, Windows
    Genre: Simulation
    Number of players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: Not rated
    Price: $19.99

    Thank you Kasedo Games for giving us the review codes for the game and Las Vegas DLC!

    It’s been a while since I played a building related simulation game and I forgot how time consuming they could be! Typically my YouTube videos are 15 minutes long or less, but the one for this game is a little over 50 minutes! Quickly into my first gaming session, I realized that watching the tutorial was in order as the interface is a bit daunting. Even after completing the tutorial, there are several unanswered questions and many of my mistakes were very costly in terms of breaking leases and ruining my building’s reputation.

    When starting a new game you can choose your difficulty level which impacts the economy and fussiness of your tenants. Even on the Easy setting you’ll have various strikes and economic conditions that will impact the amount of foot traffic you’ll receive for a short while. If you just want to build without worrying about money or prestige, there is an unlimited mode available. Though the unlimited funding is nice, I wanted to build up my building’s reputation from the ground up and that’s exactly what this game is all about: taking a small building and turning it into a force to be reckoned with.

    In the beginning you’ll start off with basic furnishings, a basement area and a maintenance crew.  Every addition, utility added, and furnishing placed will cost you money.  The $10,000 in starting funds won’t last long so you’ll have to take on some city contracts and bring in some tenants to expand your building floor by floor.  If you run out of funds you can borrow money for a fee, but it’s best to find out where you’re bleeding money before you go into the red.

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Low system requirements; though it’s hard to please everyone it's fun to try anyway
    Weak Points: Unclear prerequisites for bringing in some clientele; confusing interface; limited rent tweaking options
    Moral Warnings: Alcohol selling and gambling establishments

    Small business offices are a good place to start since they typically require electricity, phone lines, and water if they’re medical facilities. You can fit quite a few on a single floor, but besides utilities, they’ll require other services including printing and courier services. You can also do studio apartments, which have meager requirements, but you’ll need to have garbage and recycling cans on their level and facilities for both services in your building as well. Restaurants require garbage and recycling bins on their floors too. If you have food establishments too close to offices or apartments, your tenants may whine about strange smells or it being too noisy. Tenants don’t like being too close to elevators either. You can put lounges between the elevators and apartments to create a bit of a buffer.

    Clients may leave the premises for various reasons, and if they do, your building will take a reputation hit. Certain establishments like luxury shops and restaurants only become available after you have achieved a certain star/prestige rating. If your ratings dip below their requirements, they’ll vacate and lower your ratings even more. Another way to lower your prestige is by forcibly moving or removing businesses. Try to plan ahead as much as possible and pay attention to facility requirements. For example, HVAC facilities can only be on the first subfloor. Be sure to leave space for the inevitable upgrades and go for the biggest ones available if you can afford them.

    Most of the facility requirements are spelled out pretty clearly in terms of what utilities they require and what services they expect. With that said, there are many cases where some of the requirements are not disclosed until after they move in. Learn from my failure and put trash bins and recycle containers on the same floor as any restaurant. Occasionally I ran into a catch-22 scenario when trying to bring in technical companies into my large office facilities. They didn’t want to rent until other ones moved in there first. Sadly, without large technical offices, large engineering offices would not come into my building either.

    Project Highrise
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 76%
    Gameplay - 16/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 3/5

    Morality Score - 97%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8.5/10

    For $6.99 you can purchase the Las Vegas DLC which allows you to build hotel and casino facilities. As long as you have your casino license, they’re pretty easy to operate. The hotels, on the other hand, add a whole new slew of obstacles to overcome. In order for luggage and room services to function, assuming you have their facilities in place, you need to have wider elevators installed. These elevators are only available to employees so many floors will need two elevators on them. Another stumbling block are venues that occupy multiple floors. Make sure that customers can access both sides of the venue. I had difficulty utilizing (and often destroying) many rooms since I only had employee access on one side of my skyscraper.

    Despite my gripes, I do enjoy this game and had fun unlocking many of the 80+ Steam achievements. I was surprised how quickly this game downloaded and installed onto my system. It’s been a while since I installed a game that was less than 100MB! Between the meager disk space requirements and simple 2D graphics, this game can run on many portable and older systems flawlessly.

    The only moral concerns with this game are the gambling and alcohol selling establishments. You can construct honeymoon suites, but you don’t see anything going on in them other than the tenants standing around.

    Project Highrise has been on sale for $9.99 and at that price it’s a steal. If you enjoy building or simulation games the regular price of $19.99 is worthwhile. While not perfect, this title is fun and caused me to lose track of time on numerous occasions.

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Railway Empire
    Developed by: Gaming Minds
    Published by: Kalypso Media
    Released: January 26, 2018 (PS4, Xbox One, and PC)
    Available on: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
    Genre: Simulation
    ESRB: E for Everyone, Alcohol Reference, Mild Language, Violent References
    Number of players: 1
    Price: $59.99 (PS4 and Xbox One), $49.99 (Steam)
    (Humble Store Link)

    Thank you Kalypso Media for sending us a review copy of the game.

    Note: This review is based on the PS4 Pro version and might not look, sound, and perform the same on other consoles and PC.

    Simulation games are a unique genre in today's gaming landscape; you either love them or hate them. I only met a few gamers that are in the "they're alright" category. I, myself love them if done right. The developer Gaming Minds are known to put out really enjoyable and in depth simulation games. My two favorites of theirs are Port Royal 3 Gold Edition and Grand Ages: Medieval. Railway Empire is another top notch simulator and even though I enjoyed the two I just mentioned more, I would still whole heartedly recommend this for any simulation fan.

    The game has you start out learning the basics of railroad track placement and then setting up a locomotive to haul goods to several locations. I enjoy the way the game eases you into everything so that you don't feel so overwhelmed. There is a ton of information that you need to learn, but thankfully the game offers an area called "Tips & Tricks" to help you understand many of the game's basic to challenging mechanics. I would advise any player to reference this anytime they get stuck or just want to brush up on how to do something.

    There are several game modes: Campaign, Scenarios, Free Mode, and Sandbox Mode. Campaign has you try to grow your railroad empire over a 20 year period. Scenarios are different objectives you need to complete. Free Mode and Sandbox Mode allow you to pick a time period and build your empire from there, the only difference is that Sandbox mode is solo only.

    Railway Empire
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Very deep gameplay. Nice graphics and sound quality. Several modes of gameplay. Very detailed trains. Very stable and polished game.
    Weak Points: No multiplayer. Only able to play parts of the United States at a time, not the entire country. To complex for children and preteens.
    Moral Warnings: Alcohol references. Use of the word "damn" in dialogue. Use of bandits to rob AI rivals.

    A cool aspect of Railway Empire is the "Tech Tree" which as you play in any of the modes you receive points that allow you to unlock different upgrades and many other items. Also Railway Empire allows you to upgrade towns with different building types that you unlock. Furthermore, the game will allow you to purchase various live stock farms. Lastly, you can buy stock in your competitor's company to try to take them over.

    The graphics are very well done and I would recommend anyone who gets a chance to go into first person mode and ride in your train (that is a cool feature). The sound and voice acting is pretty enjoyable and I appreciate when a developer goes the extra mile to make the game more fleshed out with tons of voice narration. The sounds of the trains and the many ambient sound effects are well done and make you feel more immersed into the game world.

    There were no stability issues or crashes while I played the game. The developer really seemed to care that the game would work really well and any known issues reported to them seem to be addressed with timely patches (the PS4 version only needed 2 patches as of the time of this review). I have played other games where the game seemed to be rushed and needed many more patches and other fixes in the same time frame. The controls are very easy to get used to and I have had no trouble doing various tasks that I was working on. I understand that on the PC the controls are even more fluid.

    Railway Empire
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 82%
    Gameplay - 15/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 92%
    Violence - 9/10
    Language - 7/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    I think the one thing missing from the game is multiplayer. I would love to get together with my friends or with some random gamers on PlayStation network and either work together to build a massive railway empire or battle out against each other for railway domination. If this game offered multiplayer co op and or domination I guarantee that it would be far more popular on each platform.

    Railway Empire is rated E for Everyone, however I would not recommend this game for kids or even pre teens. This game is a very complex train simulator. You need to manage so much and it can be very overwhelming, especially once your railway empire gets pretty big. Do not buy for your children and pre teens unless you are prepared to sit with them throughout the game.

    In regards to morality; There is the ability to brew and transport beer. Also the word "damn" is used in the dialogue. The game gives you the option to hire bandits to rob your rivals.

    This is very fun and the attention to detail of the trains and other items throughout the game is impressive. I have enjoyed my time with the game and would recommend this to any simulation junkie. As I stated above I would caution parents of children and pre teens because of the deep complexity and challenge of the game mechanics and the morality items I mentioned in the paragraph above.

  •  

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Rise of Industry
    Developed By: Dapper Penguin Studios
    Published By: Kasedo Games
    Released: February 9, 2018
    Available On: Windows, Linux
    Genre: Simulation, Strategy, Economy, Management
    ESRB Rating: N/A
    Number of Players: 1
    Price: $24.99
    (Humble Store Link)

    Thank you Kasedo Games for sending us a preview code!

    Rise of Industry is a tycoon game about consumption and production. As a tycoon game, "RoI" simply gives you one objective: make as much money as possible. RoI's main way of making money is by a series of industrial factories that can be used to make different products. But before we get to the big stuff let's start from the bottom.

    When you first go to create a world you'll find you can choose many things to edit. You can choose how big the world is, how many towns there are, if resources are infinite or limited, how big of a loan you want to take to start off with and even what side of the road your trucks should drive on! Each has their own drawback or benefit. If you choose a smaller world you won't get as much room to build your factories, but you won't have to take your products far to a city. If you choose large you'll have plenty of room to build but will be further away from each city. Speaking of towns, each map size has their own amount of towns, with larger ones having more.

    Resources can be changed to be limited, but I wouldn't recommend this for beginners as it might be difficult for you to deal with. When it comes to the loan size, it really matters depending on how you like to play games like this. Do you like building massive and intricate production chains, or just some small factory lines that you build upon? The bigger the loan, the more money you have to pay back. But you don't have to start paying the loan immediately, as the game gives you plenty of time to build some money up before it starts taking some back. For the trucks, as I'm an American, I have to go with right.

    Before you start building your reputation in RoI's square world, you have to find a city to build your headquarters in. RoI has multiple towns in its world, each with their own products that they will buy and sometimes even stores that other places won't have. You have to look at all the towns, see what kind of products they'll buy, and if any other towns will pay more for them. Typically towns start with a hardware store and a farmer's market. The hardware store usually accepts things like ores, natural resources and beginner products while the farmer's market allows you to sell fresh produce like milk, eggs, vegetables and more. Once you've decided on a city that will let you get as much money for your product as possible you simply place your headquarters near the town.

    Rise of Industry
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Interesting gameplay mechanics; Good art style; Good soundtrack
    Weak Points: Gameplay can get boring; Somewhat large learning curve
    Moral Warnings:None

    Before you can start production you have to get supplies. There are a variety of supplies to farm such as sand, water, wood, copper, iron, coal and more. Each resource is used in the production of something, whether it be fuel, metal, glass, wheat, livestock and so much more. Each resource is placed randomly throughout the world in little pockets, with the only exceptions being wood, water and sand which are readily available. What this means is that you can't just place a copper mine in the middle of nowhere and expect to get copper. Instead, you have to find a copper pocket, which is basically just a bunch of copper rocks placed in a small area somewhere in the map. Because these resources are hard to find and often not close to each other, you have to plan what you want to make based on what you have near you. If you were planning to build something that needed coal and iron but only had copper near you, you'd have to think of something else to build. Before you can even start building you have to plan ahead according to what's near you.

    Before you can make any products, you have to research them. Researching a product takes time, sometimes a lot of it, but it also takes money. There are three tiers in research, with each tier taking more money and time to research. You can't just research a higher tier product, however, as the first tier has to be researched beforehand. For example, say you wanted to make pizza. Before you could make it, you would need to know how to make dough and cheese. And before that you'd need to know how to make wheat to make cows to produce the milk for the cheese and dough. It can get complicated and expensive quickly. But to not make the game too difficult at the start you're given three items you can research for free. You can choose what you want to research, the only exception being you can't research tier three products and as explained above you can't research a tier two product without researching the ones before it.

    In RoI, things don't just magically move from place to place. In order to make things move, you need transportation. Transportation is used to connect gatherers to factories, factories to towns, and so much more. RoI has several options for transportation, such as trucks, trains and even blimps. Each option is more expensive to set up and run. As such, in the beginning, you'll mostly be using roads. There are two kinds of roads you can build; dirt and urban. Dirt roads are slower than urban roads, but cheaper. In addition, dirt roads are available to be built from the start of your game, while urban roads need to be researched. You can also create bridges over rivers, or tunnel through mountains.

    Time for production. Before you can start, however, you have to place your gatherers to get resources for your factories or farms. The most basic gatherers you can get are a water siphon and a lumberyard, as most starting products need water or wood. Most gatherers aren't all in one unit, but up to four separate units. There are three generators that you place on tiles specific to the gatherer, such as wood, oil, water, sand and more. Then there's one main building that the generators send all their resources to. From that building, you send your resources out to your farms or factories as is needed. On some you need to connect the generators to the building with roads or else they won't produce anything.

    Rise of Industry
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 68%
    Gameplay - 13/20
    Graphics - 6/10
    Sound - 7/10
    Stability - 4/5
    Controls - 4/5

    Morality Score - 100%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    Most factories are not available to you at the beginning and are locked behind research. In order to build them, you have to research products that can be made in them. Once you've researched something that can be made at these numerous factories, you're good to start building. Every month, you pay a sum of money based on how many buildings you have running and how fast you're running them. Once you've started supplying your factories with resources, they'll start producing their product, whether it be glass, steel, crops or much more. Some products take longer than others, and as such require a longer time to return money. Usually the more complicated the item is, the more money you can earn from it. As you make more money, you invest more back by building more factories, trying to make things faster or trying to make different products. Rise of Industry, as you can tell, is a very complex game. The factory mechanic is a lot deeper and more complex than I can do it justice.

    As your production grows and you sell more and more products, the town you're selling them to will grow. And as it grows, there's a chance it will have an opportunity to upgrade itself. All towns usually start off as villages, and as they upgrade to cities and later metropolises they open more shops, allowing you to make different products. You have an option to supply the towns with certain supplies like bricks that allow them to upgrade faster, however they'll eventually upgrade by themselves if given enough time. It's better to upgrade them as fast as you can though, to get more opportunities to sell better products. RoI also has many random events that can influence gameplay. Workers can be hurt and sue you, costing you a decent chuck of money monthly in fines. There can be a blizzard that slows transportation by 25%. Mines can collapse and make mining more expensive and slower. However, there can also be good events, such as towns offering you tax breaks that lower operating costs. I've spent a lot of time discussing the gameplay, so let's talk about some other things.

    Rise of Industry has a low-poly 3D graphic style, which compliments its gameplay. It manages to be colorful and detailed despite its low-poly look, and looks good at higher resolutions. It also has a free look mode, which allows you to take your camera anywhere in the world to look at models up close. RoI's music has been designed to allow you to focus while still providing a nice backdrop to the world. These simple but great melodies with piano and strings provide the perfect atmosphere that this game should have.

    I will say that I do like this game, and find it enjoyable to play, with a great mechanic at its core. The problem, however, is the learning curve for this game. At around 25 hours played, I have an alright understanding of RoI but still have a lot to learn. It can also take a while to really start making money back, depending on how big you start off. I tried to start making very complicated products from the beginning, so it took me several hours to start really making money back for the investments I put in. Due to this long process of investment and return, it can also get somewhat boring. RoI is also in early access, meaning it's not completed and that the developers have more content they plan to add. While I am all for brand new content that expands the game, what I don't like is the fact that after every update any save you had is destroyed. The only thing you can do at that point is download an older version of the game or start a new save.

    I believe Rise of Industry is a well made industrial tycoon game, although it can be slow and hard to learn from the start.

    - Remington

  •  

    boxart
    Game Info:

    RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures
    Developed by: Nvizzio Creations
    Publisher: Atari
    Released: November 29, 2018
    Available on: PC, Nintendo Switch
    Genre: Construction and Management Simulation
    ESRB: Everyone
    Number of Players: Single-Player
    Price: $29.99 PC, $39.99 Nintendo Switch
    (Amazon Affiliate Link)

    Thank you Atari for sending us this game to review!

    RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures is an interesting game about designing your own amusement park and trying to keep it stable and fun for the people who visit it (this game calls them peeps). You will have to work on the finances of the park and make sure that everyone finds what they are looking for.

    This game is fun, and it plays pretty well. Basically how it works is that you have to build a park by placing things down to make the park fun for the peeps that come over. You can design your own coasters, or just place in a premade one. There are also rides, like a nice little ferris wheel or a merry-go-round. You also need to build services, like ride maintenance centers and bathrooms. You also got to give the peeps some food, like burger stands or themed restaraunts. You also have to decorate your park and make it more attractive. Another thing you have to do is price everything that you have in your park. If your price is too high, then peeps will stop coming. If your price is too low, then you will get a lot of peeps but you won't make that much money. The goal is to make a lot of money, and make peeps happy. Peeps will complain about a lot of things, like if a ride is broken, or if there are no janitors and the place is too dirty. This game does have some bugs. For example, if you are designing a coaster and you exit the building screen, the ground still looks like the building screen, but you can't go back to finish your coaster.

    RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Funny people, or as the game calls them, “peeps;” multiple modes to choose from.
    Weak Points: Long loading screens, some bugs, no multi-player.
    Moral Warnings:None!

    You should always keep the peeps happy. If you don't, then they leave the park. It does tell you that happy peeps stay longer. The things that make the peeps unhappy are usually if rides are too crowded, too pricey, or if the park is missing something. You should make sure you have all four utilities (bathroom, info center, janitor, ride maintenance) in every area so they are easily accessible to the peeps.

    To me, this game was fun to design roller coasters and make peeps happy. I also liked how some peeps were really funny. Other than those, There were a couple of things that I did not like too much. There were extremely long loading screens and a couple bugs with what the peeps say. A peep would be right next to a bathroom and complain that there are no bathrooms! It is pretty annoying when this happens.

    There is only story in the Adventure game mode. Basically what the story is is that someone sells you some property for a very cheap price and tells you that it was a park and that you should bring it back even better. But Bernard, the failed park's financial adviser, will have to assist you because he's the only experienced person you know. But lucky for you, he also comes cheap.

    RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 70%
    Gameplay - 14/20
    Graphics - 6/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 2/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 100%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    This game has pretty calm music. It does not need very intense music, so the music is fitting. If you view what peeps are thinking, it plays a sound. If it is a happy kid, it might play a kid saying “Yay!” and if it is an angry adult, it might play an upset grunt.

    There is very simple controls to this game. You just click, drag, and use a couple other keys to operate your park. I played the PC version, so I do not know what the Switch version is like.

    There are 3 modes you can play. There are Scenarios, Adventure, and Sandbox. In Scenarios, you have to choose a scenario and it takes you to the park in that one. In Adventure, you have to build your own park from scratch, but there are certain things that happen and choices you have to make. One of these choices I encountered was about the food. Some of the food was not looking too good, and you had to choose if you wanted to keep what you think is good and throw away the rest, or you could throw away all of it and just get new food. You should learn from my mistake, and throw away the food! Sandbox mode is when you have a completely empty park and have to build it and make peeps happy. But you have to choose if you will have to earn money and buy coasters and rides or start with everything and unlimited money and just build for fun.

    This game is a game for all ages, so there is not anything to be concerned about morally.

    RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures was very fun to play, and I enjoyed it. I think anyone who likes rollercoasters and/or theme parks would enjoy this game.

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Ship Simulator Extremes
    Developed by: Vstep
    Published by: Paradox Interactive
    Release Date: August 27th, 2010
    Version reviewed: 1.22
    Available on: PC
    Genre: Simulator
    ESRB Rating: E
    Retail Price: $39.95

    System requirements
    • Operating system: Windows XP (Min. service pack 2), Windows Vista or Windows 7. 32 and 64 bits OS supported.
    • Processor: 3 Ghz P4 Intel or AMD equivalent processor
    • Memory: 2GB (Windows XP) or 3GB (Vista or Windows 7)
    • Hard disk space: 3.5 GB
    • Video: Geforce 8800GT or ATI Radeon 4850 with 256MB ram (At least Shader model 3.0)
    • Sound: DirectX 9.0c compatible.
    • Drive: 4x PC DVD-ROM
    • DirectX®: version 9.0c
    • Broadband Internet connection required for Multiplayer

    Thank you GamersGate for giving us this game to review.

    Ship Simulator Extremes is a follow up to Ship Simulator 2006 and 2008. I haven\'t played the previous two games so I can\'t compare them. This game offers three campaign modes: Green Peace, Tourist Tales and the Core missions. A recently released patch added a tutorial mission.  The Green Peace and the Tourist Tale missions are easier than the Core ones, so start with those. (When you select a mission you’ll see the difficulty rating in the description.) Free roam and multiplayer modes are available too. Unfortunately, I didn\'t find anyone to sail with online.

    I first started with the Green Peace missions; I wanted to see what they’re all about. The ship used in those missions is called the Rainbow Warrior. The engine does 300rpm and it’s extremely slow….but it’s much faster than the cruise ship you get to captain in the tourist tales campaign. If you like action packed or fast paced games, this game is not for you.  In fact, it\'s not even that hard core of a simulation game. The controls are pretty straight forward and the main challenge is docking and undocking the ship.

    Highlights:

     

    Strengths: It has boats!

    Weaknesses: Unless you’re controlling a speedboat, the boats move very slowly. The graphics lack detailed textures.

    Moral Warnings: No issues here.  In fact, it may uplift your faith as you pray for a mission to be over.

     

    You’re responsible for mooring (tying rope) and docking your ship at specific docks; not just any dock will do. The spots you have to get in and out of are pretty tight and these ships don’t have the turning radius of a car. Your ship can get damaged by being hit, docking/undocking, or being in too shallow of water. If your ship is severely damaged it will lean and gradually sink and if there’s minor damage it will slow the ship down…which is horrible since it’s slow enough to start with. It’s best to save early and often, and to use multiple saves!

    The missions typically take anywhere from a half hour to an hour to complete. The world is pretty open ended and if you’re going the wrong way, there’s nothing to stop you; no prompts to turn around. I wasted an hour of my life going in the wrong direction.  There’s a guidance system on the upper right hand side…use it! The objectives are labeled with a green star but if the destination is out of range, you’re out of luck.  There’s no world map or a way to zoom out far enough to see everything.

    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

     

    Game Score: 56%

    Game Play: 8/20

    Graphics: 6/10

    Sound: 6/10

    Stability: 4/5

    Controls/Interface: 4/5

    Moral Score: 100%

    Violence: 10/10

    Language: 10/10

    Sexual References: 10/10

    Occult Supernatural: 10/10

    Cultural/Moral/Ethical: 10/10

    The Greenpeace missions consisted of gathering intel and catching ships in the act of dumping oil or nuclear waste in the sea. Another mission has you stopping an illegal transport of Indonesian trees. After the first mission I got to see a nice documentary video that tells a little bit about Green Peace, which was cool. The rest of the missions I played rewarded me with a post card; I was a bit disappointed to say the least.

    Triggers are used to advance to the next part of a mission. Sometimes these triggers fast forward you to the action which is nice. Unfortunately, the triggers don’t always work. There are other glitches like seeing though ships if you view them from an unexpected angle. The first time I used a water canon I saw streams of black triangles; updating my video drivers resolved that issue.

     

    Graphically this game is unimpressive. The water effects are decent and the ship models look realistic. On the other hand, the land and buildings along the shore look plain and dull. Occasionally you’ll pass another ship in the water but you don’t see much movement or signs of life. The ship interior looks okay, there’s lots of equipment and buttons that you can’t interact with.  The steering and movement is all handled by the arrow keys. You have to keep holding the up arrow button down in order to move.  I wish there was a cruise control feature. Some missions require that you take a picture using the camera view. Any pictures you take will be saved on your system.

    The sound in this game consists of the ship\'s engine, the horn, or birds flying by. Patch 1.22 added radio chatter, I\'m not sure what language it\'s in or if it\'s intentionally unclear. Since the missions are long and boring, some background music would have made a nice touch.

    From an appropriateness perspective, Ship Simulator Extremes is perfectly clean and safe for the whole family to play. The main question is who the target audience for this game is. True naval enthusiasts will find this game not complex enough and casual gamers will find it too boring and dull. Fortunately, there’s a demo available to try before parting with $40.

     

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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