Cat and Ghostly Road – Distinguished Journey of Demons & Ghosts

Cat and Ghostly Road

Cat and Ghostly Road is a point and click adventure from Sometimes You and BOV featuring BOV’s actual cat as protagonist.

For most of Cat and Ghostly Road you play as a white cat that is adopted by a local painter. The painter “falls ill” and it’s up to you to save him. Specifically after you drift off to sleep, a demon appears and steals the soul of the painter. It’s up to you to follow the demon and get it back. The premise of the game, at least to me, sounds pretty awesome already, however point and click adventures rarely keep me engaged enough that I don’t drift off to sleep at some point due to their tediousness and slow sections. Is this as awesome as I hoped are did I fall asleep part way through? Keep reading!

BOV and Sometimes You teamed up to publish the title, with the main character modeled after BOV’s real cat that they recued from under a bridge. This was about fifteen years ago. Observing this cat they were inspired to create this game, specifically from the fact that the real feline reminded them of a moon cat and they went from there. The game suffers from the typically slow paced monotony that most point and click adventures are plagued with. The quirky nature of the cat does help with some of this but isn’t enough to make it enough to keep me awake or hold my attention for two long, one of the downsides to my ADHD. If you enjoy point and click adventures or an excuse to play as a cat then this will be right up your alley. The thing this game gets right is the puzzles, some require you to essentially play minigames to resolve their objective but unfortunately these were few and far between. I found the game to be cute and easy to play and master but with just a little too much tedium.

Unlife from Ratalaika Games

Unlife

Nukes have fallen and the world all but destroyed in Unlife from Ratalaika Games.

Unlife begins with what looks like vintage, archival footage of the days leading to the end of the world. Bombs falling on city centers and mushroom clouds. It’s a rather grim sight. You play as Michael, the last surviving member of a rescue team and who’s blood may mean the cure to the infection spread by the monsters from the Black Sea. Combining his blood and that of the creatures stops or slows his own infection and may be the key needed for that cure.

The game controls, level formatting and general vibe remind me so much of Shadow Complex from the 360. I absolutely loved that game. With Unlife, the graphics are not nearly as clean but they do the job well enough. In terms of graphics think of Terraria but with a darker pallet. The game suffers from some poor writing but I have a feeling it was originally written in another language and then translated by Google Translate. This is even more apparent when you die. At death you get a message similar to the iconic “You Died” message in Resident Evil and instead see “You Dead”.

Released by Ratalaika Games on Nintendo Switch, PS4/PS5 and Xbox One, the game seems to be one of the few truly original titles from them and not a port or remaster. While much of the game, as I mentioned, reminded me of Shadow Complex it wasn’t enough like it to fully scratch that nostalgic itch. However I found the game to be less smooth with inferior graphics but with the darker tones it actually worked well within the world of the game and game the combat and overall surviving more difficult. The game was fun with enough similarities to keep me playing for a couple hours and the added difficulty, whether intentional or not, kept me playing a bit longer.

Ikonei Island: An Earthlock Adventure

Ikonei Island

Ikonei Island is an adventure game that is based in the world of Earthlock, both of which are from Snowcastle Games.

Snowcastle Games, the team behind Earthlock and the upcoming Earthlock 2, brings us another adventure title set in the same world- Ikonei Island. The game centers around a group of adventurers that have been shipwrecked on the island and must work together to both survive the elements and make their new homes. Customization features allow you to build your living space however you’d like where you are mostly limited by your own imagination.

The island features many animals and creatures to befriend/control that will assist you with defeating the monsters and collecting materials. Some help you reach new areas where others are geared more for combat. The visuals on these creatures and the island as a whole are gorgeous, even in the early release copy we received. Having never played Earthlock I didn’t know what to expect from this game or the world. At first glance it appears to be a JRPG of sorts set in this world and aimed at younger audiences. Quickly learned that there is a rich banquet of experiences that will be enjoyable to older players but may be a little too complex for some of the younger audience members. Basic controls are easy enough to pick up but some of the creature controls take a little getting used to. Overall I found the game to be fun, gorgeous and an overall enjoyable experience. Despite the early release I did not discover any of the bugs that delayed the release which made it even better for me.

The Adventures of Panzer: Legacy Collection

Adventures of Panzer

The first Adventures of Panzer title was released in 2021 and was rereleased along with it’s sequel in the Legacy Collection from Ratalaika Games.

Originally created by PixelCraft Games in 2021, The Adventures of Panzer is a side scrolling adventure designed to be played on the original NES. A sequel was later developed and added alongside the first for the Legacy Collection release on current generation consoles. This was with the help of Ratalaika Games. You play as General Panzer, a raid leader, who first must find his friend from his raiding party and embark on the most harrowing adventure of his raiding career.

When playing the game I didn’t realize how recent the original was released and immediately began to question it once the first NPCs began talking. Playing a game that looks like it is straight out of the 80’s but dialogue that came from players preparing for a session of World of Warcraft had me really confused. It was also funny as hell. The two experiences shouldn’t have worked as well as they did but they did work. Gameplay felt exactly like I would expect from what I thought was an NES classic. The controls are a little stiff but feels absolutely right for a game that looks the way it does. Further enforcing the NES classic vibe of the game is how unforgiving it is. If you rush forward you will inevitably get injured, frequently. You’ll also fall to your death, quite a bit.

With everything in the experience telling my mind that this was a classic I had never experienced when it came out in the 80’s it left me thinking I was deprived of an experience I should have had. Having actually been released in 2021 I’m actually surprised I had never heard of it until this year. Clearly PixelCraft had done a poor job on marketing it because former NES players will love this one and with the current generation release of the Legacy Collection they now have no excuse to jump in. Same goes for the second game in the series that is also included. They are not only worth playing but are easily some of the best to be released from Ratalaika to date.

Turnip Boy Robs a Bank

Turnip Boy

First Turnip Boy committed the heinous act of Tax Evasion but now he is robbing a bank with the help of a dill pickle and other veggie fiends.

Turnip Boy has returned for a second crime spree, this time alongside the fearsome Pickle Gang in Snoozy Kazoo’s Turnip Boy Robs a Bank. When you start the game, and get through all of the dialogue, you equip a wooden sword, followed by a gun soon after. With weapons in hand and a truck ready to roll, it’s time to rob a bank. Other characters join you at the homebase but only the avocado seems to help in any way while in the bank. If you lose all of your hearts, basically dying, then you return to the hideout but with only half of the funds you collected. You also can end your heist at will by heading to the truck.

Each character is based around some kind of food. Our title character and protagonist is a turnip, as his name implies. There are pickles, tomatoes and your computer support is an avocado to name a few. Each stage gives you about 2 minutes before the more deadly foes arrive to try to arrest or kill you. Gear picked up using the black market or from the corpses of your foes will aid you in reaching new areas and completing numerous missions. Each elevators moves you to a random room to make reaching the vault more difficult.

Graphically the game looks like it would have been home on the 16 bit machines I grew up with but with a humor that was rarely seen. Controls are simple to learn but easy to forget as I found myself switching weapons many times when I meant to club the guards. The dialogue can be tedious at times when you accidentally trigger the same convo again and again and unable to truly quit the dialogue until they finish. To make it worse, if you are mashing the skip button you will accidentally trigger it again putting you into a frustrating loop. Despite the conversation issues/complaint, I found this game to be a lot of fun and after each loss or return from the bank I wanted to go right back into it to try to complete more missions and steal more money. Simply put, the game was great and I look forward to play it more and if the original is half as good it will be worth picking up as well.

Among Cultists from Godot Games

Among Cultists

Among Cultists has been successfully funded on Kickstarter twice, selling out almost immediately, but does it live up to the hype?

Among Cultists is currently enjoying it’s second run through Kickstarter and both times met their goals. The folks at Godot Games must be excited. The first time through the crowd funding platform they included two expansions and one customization pack. This pack allowed you to turn your friends and family into playable characters. One thing that surprises me is the return to Kickstarter. I don’t follow the platform like I used to but this is the first campaign I’ve seen repeat itself. This time of course with a new expansion but little to no other additions that I’ve seen.

From the few companies I’ve watched on the platform, most use their success to build up their abilities to provide their customers with their desired products but most then use that success to fund the infrastructure needed to build or print their product without further outside assistance. Is this a part of crowdfunding that is entirely normal that I was unaware of? Entirely possible. I’d say likely probable even. Of course, I doubt you’re here to read my ramblings about crowd funding and are more interested in the game itself that was funded. Let’s be honest, me too.

At first glace I immediately fell in love with the artwork by Andreas Schroth, Jarrod Owen and Karsten Schulmann. Between the box art and the maps I’m not sure which parts are the best but they absolutely killed it. Speaking of first glances, when looking at the game I had thought that it would be a cross between Clue and Among Us and wasn’t sure how such an amalgamation would work. Social Deduction games have been around awhile and I feel an argument could be made that Clue was one of the first mainstream SD titles. It was a classic when I was a kid and my own will tell you I’m ancient now. Among Us I feel could also be considered one but in video game format.

For those that are visual learners, the Godot Games site features many tools and videos to use to help you learn the game. Gameplay can be quite complex overall, expect to look things up a few times in the book or videos for clarification. This happened quite a bit for us and I’m sure it will for you as well. At the start of the game players learn their role and the rules they follow and then play what reminds me of the grade school classic- Heads up 7-up. All players close their eyes and the cultists open theirs to identify their teammates (if they have one) and anyone that has already been killed and just doesn’t know it yet. Just like in Among Us, death does not mean you can no longer help your team. There are some events that won’t trigger until someone IS dead anyway.

Among Cultists

Each time you interact with a player you exchange cards and can influence the cards in the room. Once the cards are revealed it’s up to you to figure out if the dead player or the room’s cards were ones that were there before or added by a specific player as clues to their identity. Like Among Us, the Cultists win by completing a specified number of kills or with more players playing the game doesn’t just stop once enough are dead. They simply allow the investigators complete their mission and then they reveal if they successfully killed enough prior to the win and if they have they claim the victory. We never had enough playing to play it this way but at this time I can’t see the benefit to changing the end conditions.

The rulebook was our biggest complaint, primarily the organization of it but access to video tools made this more tolerable. Between amazing artwork, some truly ingenious gameplay and a Lovecraftian them that I love, this game is a must play for me. If you like Social Deduction games or investigation based titles then you will love this, more so if you are a fan of the Elder Gods as well! If you manage to get ahold of the expansions Down into the Abyss or Mountains of Chaos, they add SO much to the game in additional art, gameplay twists and expanding on the enjoyment then I’m certain you’ll find the game to be better than before. I can only assume the latest expansion, Under the Surface, only enhances it further. We hope to play that one soon.

Rising Lords from Deck 13 is here

Rising Lords

Argonwood and Deck 13’s latest title for consoles is Rising Lords that features turn-based medieval combat.

Rising Lords is the newest title from Argonwood, published by Deck 13 and is a strategy game based on the dark ages in a made up land and uses some unique resource management mechanics. Players perform multiple actions across a single turn like moving peasants to perform tasks, build your army or march them to war. You may even come across random events like a bear attacking a town where the only defenses are those same peasants.

The art style reminds me very much of Inkulinati with a nearly identical character design, pulling from obvious medieval influences. As the game progresses you change focuses from resource gathering to warmongering. Gameplay feels like a blend of several popular tabletop games like Settlers of Catan, BattleLore and Kings & Things, mixing their styles into a overall experience that focuses on paving their own way. The user interface was clearly build having computers in mind but thanks to the turn-based nature of the game it is still manageable.

The art style of the game felt right for the game where the controls felts a little tough to identify where to click next at times. Despite the controls I found the game to quite ingenious and enjoyable. With the customization options and richness in gameplay it will be a hit among strategy fans for sure.

Fearmonium from Ratalaika Games

Fearmonium

In Fearmonium from Ratalaika Games you play a Phobia of a young boy, collecting and defeating his fears.

The folks at Ratalaika Games have deviated from their normal platform of simply restoring vintage titles and have added Fearmonium to their ever growing library. Max is a teen plagued by fears and phobias. You play as one of these phobias and are on a quest to help Max not only overcome his fears but to embrace some of them. Let’s face it, a little fear can be healthy at times.

The game is a Metroidvania, meaning a platformer in the style of Metroid or Castlevania, where you move through various parts of Max’s mind, eliminating the things that plague him while also collecting balloons as currency. The art style looks like it was hand-drawn like Cuphead with a similar macabre style where the more hideous things in Max’s head are actually there to assist you. Reviewing the details about the game I can confirm that it is hand-drawn. Unlike Cuphead though is that the story is primarily told through comic book-styled panels.

Lady Depression runs most of the nightmare-scape that is Max’s head and assists you from time to time by providing advice. More often than not though, the advice is simply to remind you save the game often. The phobia you play as looks very much like a female version of Pennywise in the art but in game looks less like the terrible clown and more like clown that is meant to look more sad and painted in predominantly blacks and whites. I found the stages to be rather simple in their layout with sections clearly meant to return to with no obvious way of reaching them but otherwise quite easy to navigate. The art is clean and draws you in to the darkness as you eliminate every foe in your path. The game as a whole was enjoyable but not entirely engaging in terms of story. That being said, it may just be that I haven’t spent enough time in the game but it felt like it was lacking in overall substance even though most Metroidvanias are focused more on the mechanics than they are on story.

Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2

Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2

GameMill and Nickelodeon have teamed up to bring the second installment of the Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl to consoles, how does it fare?

I enjoy a good fighting game, Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter will forever hold special places in my heart. When GameMill reached out with the opportunity to review Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2, I jumped at the chance, despite never having played the original. For obvious reasons I can’t speak to how it compares or builds on the original, however being a fan of fighting games I CAN speak to fighting games. When it comes to fighting games I have a weird relationship where I regularly lose and keep coming back for more. My biggest failure is that I can never learn or master combos.

In nearly every way the game feels like a clone of the latest version of Super Smash Bros from Nintendo. The biggest difference is the characters in the game, SSB focuses on Nintendo characters and IPs where NASB is centered around the many characters from Nickelodeon. Controls are similar but only about as similar as you can make them comparing Switch to Xbox controllers. In both games they mix stunning 3d models with cartoon or 8-bit drawn stickers battling in fully rendered worlds. The combat plays almost exactly like SSB or Multiversus but in the story mode you alternate between picking up boosts, fighting other characters and then fighting nameless foes. This game is more than just a simple fighter, there’s a story (admittedly I haven’t made it too far into the story, like I said, I’m not that great at these games) with branching paths to unlock different characters and bonuses. SSB had something similar that made it feel more like an RPG but this is more linear. We had a great time with this one and look forward to playing some more soon.

RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures Deluxe

RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures Deluxe

Theme park simulators are a dime a dozen these days but none capture the simplicity and joy that I had playing RollerCoaster Tycoon and Atari brought it BACK!

The folks at Atari are on fire with all of their gaming reskins/reboots/recharged titles and I was hoping that RollerCoaster Tycoon would be on deck soon. I even told my wife I would love for them to revisit the game again. As the name would imply, the game is centered around building theme parks full of various rides and themes, including rollercoasters. As your park grows there are dozens of features and attractions that can be researched to further fit certain themes or styles.

Do you have what it takes to manage the needs of your guests while also keeping the park profitable. The first step towards these ends for me was to raise the prices of EVERYTHING. Sounds counterintuitive to keeping guests happy but you can raise the prices without it negatively impacting the park. This means you can revenue faster and allowing your park to grow faster. Anytime you need an influx of cash you can always speed up the time mechanics. I only recommend doing this when you have enough facilities in place to keep everyone happy, otherwise you risk the deterioration of your overall park happiness.

Originally designed for computer, the user interface was designed to work best with a mouse on a computer but is one of the easiest to navigate compared to other park builders. Menus are divided into categories, each with subcategories that allow you to find everything rather easily, focusing on overall simplicity. The graphics have also received an overhaul, looking crisp, vibrant and better than ever. The overall simplicity of the game may not be too flashy but it all just works so well. The ability to quickly switch between menus and the simple controls makes playing much more enjoyable than most of the alternatives out there.