Tower of Time

Aug 13
Posted by Ben at 15:25

I recorded a First Play gameplay video for Tower of Time last week, and spent most of it speculating, but failing to nail down, why it wasnít resonating with me. I wanted to spend more time with it, try to see if I could better put in to words my thoughts, try to write something actually Ďcriticalí rather than just spout vagaries.

Despite my hours with the game, despite my pages of note, and a video already behind me, Iím still not sure I can precisely quantify why I didnít click with the game. For those that donít know, and given that Tower of Time is an indie game still in Early Access on Steam Iíd wager that would be most people, Tower of Time is a western rpg with a few quirks with the combat. Its isometric viewpoint brings to mind the likes of Diablo and Pillars of Eternity, but its combat reminds me of the original Dragon Age. Rather than encounters taking place where you stand, instead youíre whisked away to one of the battle maps.

This takes a bit of time to trigger as your opponents trudge towards you, before you get a screen with a description of whether this will be a difficult battle, who youíre likely to face, and what theyíre weak/strong too. Thereís a couple of points Iíd make about this; firstly I think it needs to be speeded up, maybe an alert sound and straight to the preamble screen, thereís no need to stop your movement while your opponents trundle over. Add to that when youíre on the screen showing the enemies stats you canít alter your equipment to best suit them, instead you have to withdraw from battle, go to your character screen and set everyone up, then trigger the slow animation again.

Iíve no real complaints about the combat itself, although I do think itís one of the things keeping me at arms length. Tower of Timeís USP is that itís neither entirely dynamic like Diablo, nor to you stop time to set moves like Dragon Age, instead you slow time to a crawl, giving you enough time to drag your team around and set their next move. This means youíre always involved, you canít Ďpauseí the action and ease the pressure on yourself, but equally youíre not getting swarmed with your squad dotted around the battlefield while youíre left with no time to do anything about it.

Iím not sure if this is a problem as such, but I found myself playing almost entirely in slow motion, micromanaging moves and positioning; who attacks who. It sucks the pace out of the game, my own fault I guess, but it did mean combat encounters took an age. Thereís a few little niggles Iíd like ironed out. One is that on quite a few occasions instead of my clicking on an enemy to launch an attack, it would be misread as me wanting to move my character to them. Iíve also found that, while my ranged fighters will pick targets without me having to spell it out to them, when my melee fighters kill an opponent, unless theyíre attacked by someone else, theyíll just stand there, not attacking their nearest opponent, just contributing nothing.

The story is, I think, interesting, your character is actually a general who met a dormant spirit in a newly re-emerged tower as a child. Thereís something off with this spirit, clearly his motivations arenít your best interests, but now youíre tied to him, constantly being called to him. Youíve returned to the tower, and you as a player are put in the unusual position of being in control of a character who takes no active part himself, but is both controlling others, and being controlled. However, and this is where my issues are still a bit nebulous, I just wasnít engaged by it. The characters arenít defined enough, thereís a couple of interesting side stories, but nothing that I can really remember to write here.

Thereís also not enough to do. Tower of Time follows a very defined pattern and it needs more. Youíre basically walking from fight to fight, theyíll be the odd chest, some gold to pick up, and then the occasional story beat. Diablo manages with little story because it has constant battles and meaningful loot, Tower of Timeís pace is too slow and its battles too meaty for that, and thatís fine, but it could really do with some meaningful loot to make the non-battle sections more worthwhile

Still, Tower of Time is pretty well made for a game so early in development (currently on version 0.3.0.8362), and for as much as I played I didnít get close to the end. Not bad considering itís only £11
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Aug
09
Posted by Ben at 16:44
Described as a procedurally generated multi-player co-op dungeon crawler, Looterkings does look fairly unique

You and 3 friends team up as a band of goblins, attempting to reach the elven queen. The levels are procedurally generated so each attempt should be different. Your up against cartoonish fantasy monsters, and you're on the hunt for treasure and gear

Looterkings is currently in Steam Early Access, but it gets its full release in a few days, on the 11th August

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Aug
09
Posted by Ben at 13:08
In a lightning quick surprise (and leaked) announcement and release, Rez Infinite is available now on PC

Priced at £19.99 as standard, Rez Infinite is currently £15.99 as part of the launch sale.

The PC version of Rez Infinite supports VR, 4K, and has improved textures over the PS4 version
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Tower of Time
Gameplay Video
Aug 06
Posted by Ben at 16:32

We got sent a code for Tower of Time, the new (first?) game from Event Horizon. A name that's just begging for me to shoe-horn in a reference.

Tower of Time is still in early access, still seemingly very early based on the version number (0.3.0.8362), so bear that in mind with any bugs and some of my thoughts in the video below

In Tower of Time, and what you've missed in the sections preceding this video, you start off as a young boy who finds a hole in the ground. He wanders inside and finds a giant upside down tower. In there he finds a dormant spirit who calls out to him, and continues to do so throughout his life, eventually calling him back to the tower.

You then play almost a watcher roll, as someone invisibly controls your actions so do you control your heroes, soldiers you've sent in to the tower to fight for you. Viewing their progress from the surface above, almost as though (I'm really sorry) you don't need eyes to see.

The gameplay video below shows some of the early sections of the game. I'm going to write a full preview during the week. I want to see more of the game (I already have done), and better put a pin in my thoughts about the game. At the minute it's vague, I'm not connecting with Tower of Time and I can't place why other than meaningless synonyms like "it lacks punch". I don't dislike Towers of Time, I quite like the combat in fact, but I also want to better put in to words what the barrier is

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Behold the Kickmen
First Play
Jul 26
Posted by Ben at 15:08

Dan Marshall, developer of 'Ben There, Dan That', 'Gun Monkeys' , and 'The Swindle', is not a football fan. he did, at some point last year, decide to have a crack at making a football game though, and Behold The Kickmen is the result

Behold The Kickmen isn't really a stickler for the rules of football. It plays a bit like Sensible Soccer, only without enough players, round pitches, a bizarre reading of the offside rule.

There's a VERY SERIOUS story mode, which we don't really go in to in any detail in the video below, but it's fairly funny. Anyone listening to Bob Mortimer's Athletico Mince podcast will be in familiar territory.

Behold The Kickmen, based on what I've played, is fun, quite a lot of fun. Maybe it says more about where I am with football games nowadays, but after a few hours with the game, it had scratched the itch I had, and I've not really wanted to go back. Still, it's cheap, it's available on steam now, and if you like football, or don't but would like to play something resembling football, it might be worth checking out

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Jul
20
Posted by Ben at 16:31
When you think of Arc System Works you think of fighting games, beautiful and complicated fighting games, but every now and then they throw out something a bit left-field, and Boost Beast is one of those games

Pitched as a puzzle fighter, it doesn't look unlike Puzzle Fighter (or Zoo Keeper if you ant the better game). It's actually more of a defence game, a genre we've not seen a lot of over the last few years.

Not unlike something like Puzzle Quest, you match blocks to trigger attacks, or in this case warriors (dogs by the look of it) to face off against the on-rushing hordes.

It probably makes more sense if you watch the trailer below. It's out now on the Nintendo Switch store, whatever it's called, priced at £8.99, and it's something I might pick up myself when I get my Switch tomorrow

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Jul
20
Posted by Ben at 16:13
Rabi-Ribi looks like a stressful as hell, it does look kind of adorable and pretty good though, so who knows, maybe I'll pick it up. And if I do maybe I'll pick up the physical version, as PQube are putting an actual boxed copy of Rabi-Ribi out

Available on PS4 and PS Vita, although it looks like the Vita version is missing out on the physical release, understandably.

Rabi-Ribi will hit stores and PSN in Europe on September 1st

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Jul
13
Posted by Ben at 14:58
Bitparade has a bit of a history with legendary epilepsy-fest Polybius. Duane wronte an in-depth piece on Polybius many years ago.

As for the Nine Inch Nails link, Nine Inch Nails are fucking great and Trent Reznor's Quake soundtrack was superb

Given Trent Reznor's links to gaming I guess we shouldn't be too surprised that there's a videogame theme to Nine Inch Nail's new video, LESS THAN. It's maybe a bit of a surprise that said game is Polybius, Jeff Minter even gets his name featured!

The video is posted below, it's good, I'll join the people saying it sounds more 'The Fragile' than some of his more recent output, although the electronica of LESS THAN isn't miles off the more recent Hesitation Marks. The EP LESS THAN comes from is called ADD VIOLENCE, and it's out on the 21st July

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Jul
03
Posted by Ben at 15:46
There was a bit of a furore when The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+ was released in the US for Switch but the European release was pushed back. There is now a confirmed release date, and while it's not exactly imminent it does come with some bonus news.

The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+ will get a physical and digital European release on the Nintendo Switch September 7th

The physical release of The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+ matches the US release, with a retro game manual, the game, and 2 sticker sheets. It also promises some bonus trinkets, but doesn't go into detail as to what they are



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Hidden Folks

Jul 03
Posted by Ben at 15:20

Hidden Folks has actually been out for a few months, I canít say that Iíve seen a lot of talk about it, I guess you wouldnít for a hidden object game. For whatever reason Hidden Folk has repeatedly cropped up on my Steam suggestions during the summer sale, so finally I caved in and gave it a whirl.

The easy comparison is Whereís Wally (or Whereís Waldo depending where youíre reading this), Hidden Folks gives you a sizable image, busy and bustling with lots of distractions, characters and objects move, itís all animated in some way. Youíve got a list of characters or objects at the bottom of the screen and you need to hunt them down to check them off. For some youíll be able to just spot them, matching the image at the bottom to the character placed somewhere in the picture, for others youíll need to use the attached description to work out where theyíre hidden.



In the early stages Hidden Folks features fairly small Ďmapsí, zooming out will let you see most of whatís there, and zooming in will give you the detail. This is probably Hidden Folks at its most fun, itís charming and the game gets a chance to show that. The inventive puzzles, characters hidden behind, under, or in things, they can be showcased here and be fun, later on thatís not the case. The maps eventually become huge, ultra busy, with needle in a haystack levels of detail. Itís impressive, I wouldnít say no to a screensaver or a wallpaper, but it can tip the balance from fun to frustrating. If you compare the desert level to the later factory level, the factory is set out in compartments, if one of the hidden folk is obsessed with tyres, it probably means theyíre hidden near some tyres, so scout around the map for some. Compare that to the desert, with its almost featureless landscape, finding everyone can be a bit of a chore

That being said, itís probably for the best you donít have to find everyone. Find enough folks and you can move on to the next map, so there is an argument that a lot of the frustration I felt playing Hidden Folks was my own doing for not moving on until Iíd found everyone. Itís also probably worth mentioning that while Hidden Folks isnít a multi-player game as such, itís the kind of game that lends itself to a few people working together, certainly I hit a wall a 2nd pair of eyes helped me get past.



All this being said, Hidden Folks didnít take me that long, and returning to a map after being stuck for a while meant I solved it. It took me around 4 hours to find everything, but I suspect binging like that isnít the best way to experience Hidden Folks. At £6, less in the sale, itís not exactly bank breaking, and there is a level of charm and humour to it. Once you complete the game thereís the promise of more content to come. So, while itís hard to get too excited about a hidden object game, Hidden Folks is certainly worth a look if youíre after a change of pace

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