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17 Apr 2021

REVIEW: Fantasy Friends on Nintendo Switch

Review By Jon Donnis
One of the hardest things to do when reviewing games, is to review a game that is totally not meant for you. I am a grown man, and Fantasy Friends on Nintendo Switch is clearly not aimed at me. So, what I did was give the game to my friends 7-year-old daughter, and let her play it, I then asked for her opinion. This is simply put the best way to review such a game. But before we get to what she thought, let's take a look at the general idea of the game first.

"Fantasy Friends takes place in a gorgeous fantasy forest where anything is possible! With the help of Aurea, the magic fairy, you will care for 12 adorable new pet friends! Take care of them and make sure you give them all the love they need. If you do, your pets will grow up and play with you!
The more you care for them, keeping them happy and healthy, the more mana you will earn. Use your mana to get new creatures, buy them new clothes or even cooler toys to play with, and decorate the forest with incredible fun items!

From a flying panda to a rainbow unicorn, discover 12 incredible creatures you'll love to cuddle and play with. As soon as they hatch, all of them will need your attention."

Put it simply, this is a digital pet game. There are lots of skins and colours and so on, you can play with your pet and look after it, it will become more and more unique. You can even decorate their surroundings.

But now we have to get to the opinion of a 7-year-old.
The first test with such a game is the simplest one. Give the child the game and see what they do.
Well, I am happy to say that the child played the game, didn't get bored, and didn't ask for any help. In other words, from the start, the game is easy to pick up and play, and has enough to it, that it can keep the attention of a child. I asked her if she thought the game was too babyish, and she said no.

Next up I asked directly what she liked about the game.
"I like the colours, I like the dragon, I like that you can name the pet and play with them".

Is the game her favourite? No
Has she gone back to it, after putting it down, or playing something else? Yes.
So, there is definitely something here that not only keeps the attention, but also draws the child back.

That is basically as much as we could get out of her as she had more important things to do.

The Good
Bright colourful game, that entertained a 7-year-old on more than one occasion.

The Bad
This game is firmly directed at young girls between the age of about 3-7. That is a tiny market for a game, I think girls older than about 7 might find it too babyish, and girls under 5 might simply not want to play video games.

Overall
If you have a young child that likes Unicorns and digital pets, and want to give them a game that will entertain them and keep them busy for more than 5 minutes at a time, then this might be the game to do that. Will it break any sales records or become a cult classic, no.

With the advice of a 7-year-old, I score the game a simple 7/10

Review by Jon Donnis

Out Now on Nintendo Switch

15 Apr 2021

Patron, survival city-builder with deep SOCIAL aspect announced

Just received some info from Overseer Games on an interesting new "survival city builder" game. This could have some serious potential. Released in the third quarter of 2021.

Looking at the images and trailer, so far so good in my opinion.

Take a look at the blurb, and Alpha Footage below.

--

Patron is a survival city builder with a unique social dynamics system. Gather and produce resources, build your fledgling village into a prosperous city and navigate the intricate social tensions before they reach boiling point.


Key features:
A survival city builder with a unique social dynamics system
Gather and produce resources
Establish sustainable production chains
Build your fledgling village into a prosperous city as you construct and upgrade buildings
Manage your people and steer your citizens towards needed professions
Balance social issues: Class strife, Immigration, Religion, Health, Safety, Loyalty...
Plan growth through an extensive Research Tree and unlock technology, policies and upgrades
Plan production and overseas trade to support your economy through difficult times


Genre: Survival city builder
Platform: PC Windows
Release data: Q3 2021
Developer: Overseer Games

For more information check out https://www.patronnewworld.com
and Wishlist the game on Steam - https://store.steampowered.com/app/1538570/Patron/

13 Apr 2021

REVIEW: A Glider's Journey on PC (Steam)

Review by Jon Donnis
One thing I have missed in recent years, is the kind of game that just relaxes you, but still offers up a challenge. A Glider's Journey seems to fit right into that genre.

You play using the mouse or a gamepad, there is no accelerator or brake, you just glide. The idea of the game is to get from your starting point, to the finish which is identified as a landing spot.
The problem being that gliding alone won't get you there, so you need to collect power ups that are conveniently placed around the flying area, each one gives you enough power to reach the next. Miss one or two and you will run out of power and crash.

Luckily for me, there is a "very easy" mode, whereby the physics of the game are simplified, and you will never run out of power, so you are free to glide along to your hearts content. Miss a power up, just do a U-turn and pick it up.
Want to just fly around for a bit and listen to the cool chillout music, you can do that too. But at the end of it all, you do need to reach the end of the level, if you want to unlock the next level, and you also need to collect enough of the power ups to activate the landing spot.

There are 15 levels in total, all of various landscapes and locations, and depending on how quickly you pick up the game, you should be able to finish it all in a few hours. 

The Good
Easy game to play, I liked the simple polygon graphics. And the music really is very relaxing.

The Bad
There are some moments when you have to fly underground that you can easily lose your bearings and not know which way is up or down, but this is solved when you have tried the level a few times.

Overall
Although the game is quite short, it is fun, and if you truly want the most relaxed experience, just put it in Very Easy mode, and just chill out.

I score the game a solid 8/10

Review By Jon Donnis


9 Apr 2021

REVIEW: Spooky Chase on Xbox One

Review by Jon Donnis
Spooky Chase may very well be the toughest platform game ever, and in part YOU are to blame! For your every move is then replicated by the monsters, over and over again. Imagine a game whereby you know exactly where the monsters will go, yet you still die!

The general idea of the game is to collect flags, when you collect the flag, the level resets and you start again, this time the flag is in a different place, but now there is a monster, and he is following the exact route you took in the previous level.

Suddenly you find yourself on level 10 in search of the golden flag and you have 9 monsters all repeating your previous routes to glory.

It is insanely hard, but in a really good way, because you are in control of where the monsters will go, it really makes you think and plan where you will go. Add to that the difficulties of levels that are half in darkness, or smoke covering holes in the ground, traps, trap doors, and so much more, and you have a challenge that I don't think I have ever found before in a platform game.

The graphics are fun and simple, very retro style, the music is annoyingly catchy, the controls work perfectly. There are various areas to complete levels in, Graveyards, castles, dungeons and so on, and extra things to collect to keep you busy.

All in all, a very fun, but deviously difficult platform game.

I loved it. Make sure to check out my gameplay video below.

8/10

Review by Jon Donnis

Available now on multiple formats, here is the link to buy it on Xbox. Worth checking out.


8 Apr 2021

REVIEW: In My Shadow - PC (Steam)

Review By Jon Donnis
In My Shadow is a unique game, you play as a girl (Bella) who is trying to find answers to questions she has about her past, and to find these answers, you collect memories by way of solving single level platform-based puzzles.

There are 4 different rooms that you will play in, and about 50 levels in total. A level consists of the use of shadows. The shadow of a little girl, trying to collect memories that are represented as collectable shadows. You switch between two parts of the puzzle, the first of controlling the little girl, trying to get from point A to point B, while collecting hard to reach memories, and the second switch is to a more external view of the room whereby you can control the furniture which in turn creates shadows on the wall. Move a chair closer to the wall to make the shadow smaller, or move it away to make it bigger, then when you switch back to the girl she can then jump on the chair's shadow to reach her goals.

It a rather unique idea for a game, and one I was excited about when I first read about the game.

As your complete each level, a story plays out through cut scenes, as you learn more about the young girl, and get the answers she seeks.

The puzzles themselves can be tricky, there can be more than one solution to the puzzle, and the trial-and-error method here really is your friend.

The Good
This is a really unique game, a great idea, and along with the melodic music, when you are in a level, everything looks and sounds great.

The Bad
There are some graphical inconsistences between the main scenes, the cut scenes and the game itself, which seems strange to me.

The biggest problem to the game however is the controls. I hate them, simple as that, now I have spoken to the game maker, and he released an update which did improve some of the lag between pressing a button and then the character moving. But there is still a problem there. Now the more you play the game, the less you will notice it, as you will subconsciously adjust how you play to make up for it, but even then you will find yourself in a position whereby you will have all the shadows in the perfect positions, you know exactly what you need to do, and how to do it, but instead of then being able to do it, it may take you numerous attempts, whether that being because you walk off a surface because you didn't jump in time, or you landed one pixel too far and hit a trap. All in all, instead of you feeling that you need to beat the challenge, you feel frustrated because it is like the game is letting you down, as opposed to your own abilities.

When a game relies on pinpoint accuracy when it comes to jumps etc, any little issue is amplified massively, and this is where this game does have a problem, and even after improving the delay times, I still find it an issue. There simply is no margin of error. You need to be perfect. And when the controls are off by a nanosecond, that perfection becomes frustratingly hard to achieve.

You can skip levels however, which I found myself doing, not because I didn't know how to finish the level, but because after failing 20 times in a row at a simple jump, I just lost patience.

Overall
I like this game, I like the idea, the concept, everything about it is original, but the controls just let it down, it is not fun to play. Can this be fixed? I don't know, I am not a game maker. I would like to think that a redesign of the character and the mechanics of movement could make this a great game. But as it is, it is just not quite there.

Maybe it is just me and I am too fussy.

If there is a demo available, try the demo, if you don't see the problems I mention, then buy the game, but you really need to play it first.

I score the game 6/10.
If the game receives some updates in the future, I may revisit this review. In the meantime please check out my game play video below, hopefully this will better explain the game than words ever could!

Review by Jon Donnis
Out on Steam Today!

4 Apr 2021

REVIEW: Tinker Racers - Xbox One


Review by Jon Donnis
If you grew up in the 1990s, there is a good chance you played a top-down racing game called Micro Machines. And when you load up and start playing Tinker Racers for the first time, that is exactly what will come to mind. But Tinker Racers is much more than just a MM clone. It has its own personality. 

The general idea of the game is that you are in control of a Mini RC racer. And you are racing around in your house. On top of kitchen tables, in the office, on the floor etc. The track itself might be drawn with chalk, or ketchup, it doesn't really matter how, just that you can. The view is top down as previously mentioned, although that view itself is not set, and you will automatically zoom in and out somewhat depending on your location to other racers.

The main campaign mode of the game is not necessarily about reaching the finish line after a set number of laps, instead it is more of a Survival game, similar in a way to the elimination modes you encounter on other racing games. You need to stay within the same screen as whoever is in first place, if you are in first place, then you need to get far enough ahead of the competitors so that they get eliminated. When you are the last person on the screen, you win the round, as the levels progress things get more and more chaotic, making everything all the more difficult.


The other thing you need to worry about is your damage level, each car starts off with 100%, if you get to 0% then it is over for you. So, if you fly off a table, you will regenerate but you will have lost 20% points. If you hit various obstacles, you will also be damaged, so there are quite a few things to keep an eye out for. Hitting some bursting popcorn may not cause you much damaged, but having a beach ball land on your head will.

Each area has a set amount of levels, beat those levels and you will move to the next room. There is even a dark mode you can unlock, whereby the lights in the room are turned off, and you just have the tiny headlights on the car to see. That mode is tough and does give a whole new challenge.

It is all pretty much straight forward, there is a very good learning curve, and the controls are exactly how they should be, this is one of my bug bears with games like this that on some games you push a direction on the controller and that is the way the car goes, I HATE THAT! Luckily on Tinker Races it has the classic control method of pushing left and right on the joystick and that controls which way the car goes, just as if you were controlling the car with a real RC Car Remote, I am much more used to that method, and in my opinion that is the correct method.

There are multiplayer modes with split screen, but since we are on lockdown, I am unable to test this properly. But having a quick look it does seem fine.


Other than the campaign mode, there are a few other modes.

"Free For All" is purely about racing without worrying about any scores, or damage. Just race against your friends for fun.

"Single Race" is your classic 5 lap race, and whoever is in first place wins. You can choose to play any of the levels that you have unlocked through the Campaign mode. It is good that they put this mode in there, despite the main part of the game trying the different "survival" style of play.

"Time Trial" Do I need to explain this? I will say that there is a challenge element to the Time Trial as you will have a "Developer Score" to try to beat. This is a touch time, that if you can beat it, you are awarded more points to your overall game score. Very much need if you want to unlock those all-important Achievements!

The Good
Clean, simple graphics, fun addictive gameplay, easy to just pick up and play. 

The Bad
The music as you play is catchy but I'd like to see more choice in there. And the general game sound effects are not the best, you might find yourself turning down the volume and just listening to music when you play instead.

Overall
This is a fun game. Thoroughly enjoyed it, and I will keep playing it. Tinker Racer succeeds where many similar racers have failed.

Review By Jon Donnis

Available now on Xbox One


1 Apr 2021

REVIEW: Nioh 2 – The Complete Edition on PC (Steam)

Review by Jon Donnis
Nioh 2 has you playing as a Samurai as you fight against a seemingly endless supply of Yokai (think monsters and evil spirits). The basic point of the game is to create your Samurai character and go on an epic adventure across Japan during the Sengoku period (1467 to 1615)

This game is an action RPG and really does have an epic feel to it.

"Nioh 2 contains an original profound story surrounding military commanders from the Sengoku period. However, Nioh 2 goes above and beyond its predecessor by including the new Yokai Shift ability which allows the protagonist to utilize new powerful forms to defeat even the most formidable yokai in battle. New to Nioh 2, your enemies can now create a Dark Realm which raises the stakes of battle and creates new challenges for your protagonist to overcome."

As this is the complete edition, all of the DLC content is throw in, The Tengu's Disciple, Darkness in the Capital, and The First Samurai, as well as everything from the original Nioh 2 PS4 game.

The Tengu's Disciple
The Tengu's Disciple takes the protagonist to the end of the Heian period, where the Genji and Heike clans were competing ruthlessly with one another. Experience the battle that acts as a prologue which reveals how the story of Nioh 2 came to be.

Darkness in the Capital
Darkness in the Capital takes place during the middle of the Heian period, a point in history where evil spirits and yokai ran rampant throughout Japan. The protagonist is brought back to this period and ventures to the capital where they will uncover the connections between an even more distant past and the present time period from which they came.

The First Samurai
The First Samurai brings the protagonist to the Suzuka Pass during the beginning of the Heian period. In the climactic 3rd expansion of the Nioh 2 saga, the protagonist will once again confront their arch-nemesis, Otakemaru.

So, you get the general idea of the game, and if you have played the previous game you know what to expect, so the question then becomes, "Is the game any good?"

First the combat, that in itself is to me the main pull of the game, and Nioh 2 really gets this right, everything just feels very satisfying, and although I tended to stick with the giant axe weapon throughout, I found the combat system challenging, but rewarding as well. But do not think it is easy, it is not, when I say challenging, I really mean it, people new to this genre might struggle, so be prepared.

As you can imagine with a big-name game with a big budget, everything looks and sounds great, and as such you will need a powerful system to play, if you don't have a top-notch graphics card then you will notice a lot of frames being dropped. 

With the added DLC, this is a big game, like huge, it will take you forever to complete, to a level whereby you feel you have really done it all. Although the main story should take no more than 40 hours.

The Good
The graphics, the soundtrack, the fighting, everything is to a really high level.

The Bad
The story is a bit "meh", and looking after your inventory becomes beyond tedious at times. And as I mentioned previously you really need a top computer if you want to get truly smooth gameplay at 60fps, never mind the 120fps option. I ended up playing with a Playstation controller, as mouse and keyboard play is just no good.

Overall
Although I had a few gripes with the game, please understand that overall, this is a great game, it really is one of the better action RPGs ever made, I really do rate it that highly. And I think it is because I rate it so highly that my complaints frustrate me even more, because they are things that are easily fixed. This is a Playstation 4 game ported to PC, and I think because of that, the PC version will always suffer.

I score this game a strong 8/10


Review by Jon Donnis