Parkasaurus - PC Review

Parkasaurus by developer and publisher Washbear StudioPC (Steam) review written by Jim with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

I've loved a good simulation game from the first time I played Theme Park back on the Sega Genesis. Back then I had no idea what I was doing but I always had fun building stuff anyways and that hasn't changed now I know what I am doing in these games and enjoying them. Parkasaurus, by Washbear Studio, lets you run a park for dinosaurs like Jurassic Park where there have not been too many games that let you do this. I can only think of three off the top of my head, Jurassic Park III Park Builder for game boy advance, Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis for PC, PS2, and Xbox, and Jurassic World Evolution. So it's always nice to see a new sim that you don't see made as often as say amusement parks.

Where Jurassic World Evolution (Robert's Review) went for a more realistic look and feel, Parkasaurus goes for a more cartoony look with a colorful dinosaurs who don't look at that scary when you can put adorable hats on them. Now don't let the graphics fool you, there is still a really good simulation game under the hood. Taking care of your “dinosaur friends” reminded me a lot of Zoo Tycoon where you have to create biomes that suited different species. Some like rain forest where you have to add grass and water then fill it with plants, bushes, and rocks. Other biomes need hills and mountains.

The game has a simple toolset that lets you add what you need whether it be water or hills and it's as easy as clicking and dragging them into place. Other things you need to keep your Dinosaurs happy of course are feeders, food and a vet to fill the feeders. You can buy food from the store and there are different kinds of foods where some may keep your dinosaurs healthier, but, they'll cost more. You can also easily set things up to have food delivered every morning to make your life easier. Finally, your dinosaur friends can get sick and you will have to figure out what they have and then have your vet give it the right medicine to heal it. You can also breed dinosaurs but you need a certain object in an exhibit and you must have one adult male and one adult female.

On top of your dinosaurs, you will also have to keep your visitors happy too. To do this you need to make sure to have places to rest, eat, and use the restrooms. You will also have to decorate the park to make it look attractive if you want them to come and have a good time. Think of what you would like to see besides dinosaurs if you were really at a park like this, you would want to see cool things around and you can add all kinds of these things to decorate for your visitors.

Playing in the campaign mode not everything is unlocked right away as you will need science to unlock new things for the visitors and hearts for the dinosaurs in which both are easy to get. Science you can get by employing scientists and putting them to work in the right building and they will start generating science. Hearts on the other hand, you get by keeping your dinosaur friends happy and you get extra hearts if you can keep them super happy. You'll keep collecting science for as long as you have scientists working while hearts you gain at the end of every day.

You can also use both hearts gained from your dinosaurs and generated science to unlock new dinosaur species. Once unlocked, you have to have the right gem on hand which you can buy from one of the shops as well as the right bones which you can get by going on expeditions. Sending out expeditions for bones can be free, but if you want to dig deeper, it'll cost money. The deeper you go the longer it takes to get to and the more money it will cost but you can find more rewards like better bones, hats, money, or science.

Since your park is mostly run by donations, any money you make you only receive at the end of each day I wasn't a huge fan of this as it made it hard to get what I needed for my dinosaurs at times and to complete any campaign missions. You do earn money from park admission and your shops, but, you also only earn this at the end of the day. Each level or a different place in the world has missions for you to do like having so many toilet flushes or having so many dinosaurs, or having a dinosaur's happiness over a certain level.

For completing these objectives you'll get ship parts that you can spend to help you out like gaining more money at night. The one mission that is the same in each level is a speed-run: complete everything in so many days to get it. I hated this as it tries to make you rush and in my opinion these kinds of objectives should not be in this type of game. The ship parts play a role in the game's story which I will not spoil as there isn't too much of a story to begin with. Luckily simulation games don't need a story to be good.

Some cool features the game has though is a first-person view that lets you tranquilize dinosaurs. You can also hire guards to do this if you don't want to do it yourself. You can put hats that you find throughout the game on both your dinosaurs and staff. Using them on dinosaurs makes them more appealing for your visitors which also makes them donate more. Putting a hat on staff makes their stats go up so they could work faster or do better at their jobs.

Besides the campaign levels, there is also a customize option that lets you set up your experience kind of like a sandbox mode. My five-year-old nephew saw me play this game and he wanted to try it out so I started a customized level for him where everything was unlocked and you have unlimited money and he loved setting up his own park and he did a good job at it too! It was the first simulation game he has ever played so it was fun to watch as he learned what he had to do.

Finally, while overall the game ran smooth, I did run into a few glitches. The main one that I ran into made it so when I added grass or other things to the exhibit, it would never change the biome. This happened on a few levels and I never was able to figure out why. Other than that the game ran smooth.


Parkasaurus is a solid simulation that is fun and not too hard to get into. Don't let the looks of this game fool you if you enjoy simulation games like I do as you will most likely enjoy your time with it.

Score: 8 / 10


Windbound - XB1 Review

Windbound by developer 5 Lives Studios and publisher Deep SilverMicrosoft Xbox One review written by Pierre-Yves with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Aboard a raft in a storm trying to keep it steady against the giant waves crashing against you as the thunder and lightning crack the sky, a giant tentacle swats you from your platform. Sinking below the waves you start to feel yourself drowning until suddenly you are on your feet. Seeing nothing more than a giant portal in front of you, there’s nothing else to do that to head towards it to find out what’s on the other side. Waking up in a shoreline with nothing but the clothes on your back and a knife, you set out on a new adventure.

Windbound at its core is a Survival adventure with a couple Roguelike elements thrown into the mix in case you die. So for those wanting a good challenge, there's Survivalist Mode: which contains the default settings where if you die you start back at chapter one holding onto only what was "held" on your person, and losing anything that was being carried in your bag. For those wanting a more relaxing adventure that still has some fangs to sink into you, there’s the Storyteller Mode: which is pretty much the Survivalist mode however you get to keep what’s on your person, what’s in your bag, and you also get to continue from the current chapter.

It goes without saying that dying sucks so you’ll want to play things a bit carefully, though for the most part, Windbound is a fairly relaxing experience. Set in an The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker style meets Breath of the Wild, you’ll be moving from island to island gathering everything that you can carry and craft in order to find these towers that will light your way forwards. Set between five “stages”, each stage will have three towers that need to be lit in order to move forward towards the end credits. Only getting tougher to find, the real dangers aren’t with the tougher beasts that you’ll encounter, but more of your own complacency as you approach them thinking “I’ve got this”.

There are several features that Windbound does very well. Both your inventory and your crafting abilities are tied to one another so you never have to go digging through one or the other to get what you want. Instead, you just need to tab between the two, make what you want, and continue on. Starting with only your knife as a tool, you’ll have to make due with nothing more than a grass canoe to start off as you paddle your way forward on the open water until finally learning how to make a mast and having the wind do the hard work for you.

This is perhaps the biggest thing that I had against Windbound. Sailing via the wind with the oar to be nothing more than the rudder. There should have been the option, especially when trying to land gently and not damage your canoes or your eventual three pronged wooden rafts with metal armor plating, to use the oar to paddle gently up to where you wanted to weigh anchor. Once the mast is in, the oar is out. So you can either jump off your raft which has the anchor auto deploy, or crash into a beach and then have to shove the raft back into the ocean once you’re ready to leave. It would have made a lot more sense to be able to use this oar as it’s even magical and appears and disappears as you need it.

For the wind itself, I have a love hate relationship with it as even by the very end, I was uncertain as to what exactly meant what. You’re stuck sailing to the directions of the wind so sometimes, as much as you want to go forwards, you can’t. You’ll have to take the longer way around and honestly, on the open water, it makes sense as that’s pretty much how it would be. What didn’t make sense is that tightened or loosened, my sails would sometimes stop me cold in the water and I couldn't figure out why. I’m still sailing with the wind, aren’t I? The direction that the wind would be blowing on screen wasn’t always the direction that you would be able to sail in and I would have liked a compass somewhere on screen to showcase the wind’s direction as sometimes it made no sense to sail into it and go flying forwards...

Otherwise, the rest of the adventure is fairly solid. Each landmass can be explored at your own rhythm though you’ll have to make sure to keep an eye on your stamina as if you run out, that’s it. Same for your health bar so you’ll in general want to keep your strength up. You can do these by either eating berries and mushrooms, or by hunting for meat and then either cooking it or by eating it raw. Cooking meat can not only heal you while restoring your stamina, but, eating raw meat will poison you and the dizzying screen effects are not pleasant to look at.

Windbound is fairly simple and it may take about a dozen hours depending on how fast you go, how meticulous you want to be, or how unlucky you are. Not every island will have what you need or even enough of what you need so it could take several stops before being able to craft what you want. Only adding to this is that if you die you both lose your canoe or raft and all of the materials that were stored on them. It sucks, but then again, you’re restarting from the beginning of the first area or your current one and it’s not the same each time so it only made sense for the raft to be lost and yours could have been left in another “dimension”.

If I were to have one actual complaint though, on top of the issues with the wind as I clearly did not know its name, it would be the story. Why? Why is never actually answered. Why are you here? Why are you sailing between these points and activating these towers? I get the ending and “why” that happens, but the rest? Maybe I’m just not good at reading very vague mural designs. As I mentioned, each stage has three points that need to be activated, once you’ve done these, and find a specific island that opens up to you, you are treated to both the unveiling of a historical mural and then a “boss fight” which is more like a sailing trial that must be completed in order to move forwards.

These murals though, there are five, they each have three scenes, and I just didn’t get them. Overall I think I know what happened between the humans and the tentacled beast, but what does that have to do with the “here and now”? As you explore the islands big and small you can sometimes come across locations where you’ll hear the thoughts of someone from the past. It adds a bit of context to what happened and why you aren’t finding anyone, but it never helps uncover what you’re actually up to. The end result of the adventure is sweet though, and if that is the entire point of it all? Then maybe there’s a bit of redemption for the vagueness throughout, but honestly? Hell if I know if I’m even right about it. Maybe it’s just meant to be what I personally feel like it represents? I don’t know and that’s what bugs me as even the Souls games in their vagueness had more context.


So overall, Windbound is a lighter survival experience that I would recommend if you’re looking for a more relaxing experience. Regardless of the modes, there’s never anything that will outright destroy your rafts or kill you because you landed on its island. Taken at your own pace, this is perfect for those quiet Sunday afternoons where you have nothing planned and simply want to listen to the sounds of the waves or some light ambient music.

Score: 6.75 / 10


Banner of the Maid - PS4 Review

Banner of the Maid by developer Azure Flame Studio and publisher CE-AsiaSony PlayStation 4 review written by Nick with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

The setting is a unique on in visiting the French Revolution while weaving in some fantastic elements and creating an alternate reality. The game’s pacing is slow – this is a turn-based tactics game with almost visual novel level of text to work through as well. Mix in that Banner of the Maid also sports a fairly high degree of challenge, and this title may not be for everyone, but I rather enjoyed the title despite a few issues along the way.

To start with – you will do a lot of reading in this game. In many ways Banner of the Maid has a visual style that reminds of older tactics games with sprited characters on an isometric map. Those games often had brief dialog boxes and went light on actual story / text. That is not the case here. Most of the first couple of hours is spent reading while participating in a couple of fairly simple, hand-held battles to teach you the basics of gameplay. For the most part, this balance and pacing worked for me, though the translation is a bit on the stiff side. Dialog just does not read very smooth or natural due to the localization at times, and given just how much reading you are doing, this is probably the most frustrating aspect of Banner of the Maid for me personally. It is trying very hard to tell a detailed story with interesting characters, and I enjoyed this narrative, but it was not always the smoothest of reading experiences.

So I touched on the visuals briefly above, but the overall aesthetic is actually quite appealing. The old-school map and battle visuals are contrasted with detailed, anime styled character portraits and cutscenes. The backgrounds in particular struck me as quite creative at times. Titles like this seldom have the fully animated movies that a AAA title like Final Fantasy uses, but there are just small bits of looping animation taking place in the background that makes the scenes feel more alive than a static image would. A good example of this early on took place in a carriage where you could see the landscape rolling back through the windows, and a couple of small items inside the carriage swing back and forth every now and then to indicate the bumps in the road. They’re nice touches that when combined with the character portraits make Banner of the Maid a generally attractive game.

The actual tactics aspect of the game feels immediately familiar due to some pretty common strategy conventions. There is the rock / paper / scissors dynamic (more of a square than a triangle like some of the Fire Emblem titles) of heavy cavalry beats heavy infantry, heavy infantry bests light infantry, light infantry trumps light cavalry and light cavalry has the upper hand against heavy cavalry. You also have healing and ranged units that assist in their specific roles while being vulnerable to close-ranged attacks. None of this is terribly new, but it’s dressed up nicely with classes like drummers serving as healers.

Battlefield conditions sometimes shift unexpectedly, and can increase the difficulty of the stages dramatically if you were poorly positioned for elements you were not anticipating. These scenarios often reminded me of the way that Warson / Langrisser used to pull the rug out from under me. It was both exciting and frustrating in the best and worst of ways when compared to the generally more static objectives in more popular titles like Fire Emblem. These unexpected elements combined with the often easy-to-hit loss conditions. It is not unreasonable by any means, but I found myself replaying many of the maps even on the default difficulty. The AI is relatively smart, which only complicates things – but in a good way.

In many strategy games the computer controller characters will just throw themselves at the closest opponent, or the weakest of the closest opponents. In Banner of the Maid however, they often make a concerted effort to circumvent the stronger characters and wipe out the weaker units, especially if they are not carefully protected. I will say that there are times however, the mission design leaves a bit to be desired. There were a handful of maps where I came away thinking: well that was a cheap reinforcement tactic, or that the goal to completion was more tedious than fun.

Another aspect of the gameplay that sort of reminded me of Langrisser was the unit growth. However, it never felt as fully baked here. Eventually you can change your classes upon reaching the requisite level, but there should always be at least two options – but that is not the case. In those situations the ‘class change’ feels kind of superficial since it just feels like linear progression. There are some RPG elements in here with experience earned, items to be collected and factions to gain favor with. They are a bit on the grindy side, which has never particularly bothered me personally. Those who have read my various RPG reviews over the years know that a bit of mindless grinding has always suited me just fine – but it again lends itself to the potential pacing concerns.

Banner of the Maid deserves credit for its pleasant visual style, interesting characters and thoughtful gameplay. The unique setting also wins some points with me as I don’t believe I’ve played a game set during the French Revolution since L’Empereur on the NES. That being said, pacing and difficulty spikes will turn off some gamers and I really do wish the localization had been better as well. There is a solid story with some interesting characters to be had here, and tactics fans such as myself should find plenty to like here, but a few of those rough edges probably could have been smoothed out.

Score: 7.25 / 10


Is It Wrong to Try and Pick Up Girls in the Dungeon? Familia Myth Infinite Combate - Switch Review

Is It Wrong to Try and Pick Up Girls in the Dungeon? Familia Myth Infinite Combate by developer MAGES Inc. and publisher PQubeNintendo Switch review written by Richard with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

You know, I'm just going to use "Danmachi" to refer to this title work, as it's a lot easier than that full title, and is based on the original Japanese Light novel, manga, and anime series. Danmachi itself is a fairly entertaining series, focused on the adventures of Bell Cranel as he delves into the dungeon in the city of Orario. Now with Infinite Combate coming out on the Switch, it's time to find out: Is It Wrong to Try and Pick Up Girls in the Dungeon?

For those unfamiliar with the series, Danmachi takes place in Orario, where there is a great underground dungeon filled with monsters. Adventurers traverse this dungeon slaying monsters in order to increase their stats and level up. They form Familia's, centred around a God who is the head of the Familia. Quite literally, as the Gods do in fact exist, and they do interact with their Familia. Danmachi centres on Bell Cranel, a young adventurer and the only member of the Hestia Familia, headed by the Goddess Hestia.

As Bell travels through the dungeon, he meets new people, gets to have adventures, and decides on a way to carve out a path for himself in life. For those a little more familiar with the series, Infinite Combate is the first anime season, or up until the 18th floor incident. What that means for the player is that you have 10 chapters as Bell, and 6 as Ais Wallenstein for story mode.

Incidentally, this brings me to my first gripe with Danmachi Infinite Combate: it's way too short. I finished the main story in probably about five hours or so, including text and doing all the bonus quests. In case you're curious, game progression consists of: story, plot quest, return to town, plot quest, story. This happens each chapter, meaning you have about 32 total story based quests, each of which will take 5 minutes or less. That's less than three hours of plot based quests. Where the actual game time comes is in the extra mode after you've cleared the story mode.

So how does the game actually play? Well, not...badly, I suppose. Essentially every dungeon delve has you controlling either Bell or Ais as they roam around the dungeon beating enemies. This is done as an active action style, where you can run up to an enemy, smack them in a combo a few times, and then dodge away to rinse and repeat. Or just sit in front of an enemy and continue to hit them because they keep flinching. Either works, mostly.

You can bring up to four items into combat with you, and stacks of those items up to 9 of each. You'll also have access to a ranged magic to go with your melee weapons, although Bell doesn't unlock his for a while. Pro tip: if you stand still and don't move for a bit, you regenerate MP. I only learned this halfway through the final set of floors in the first extra dungeon. Probably because you aren't really told, and half the dungeon quests are on a timer, so you don't tend to just sit around anyway.

As you go through each floor of the dungeon, you will earn skill points, money, and item drops from the enemies. Skill points can be used via your Goddess (Hestia for Bell and Loki for Ais) to increase their stats, for instance a 5% strength increase, or 20% less chance to get inflicted by burn, which is way more useful than you'd think. Monster material drops can either be sold to the merchant for cash, which also unlocks gear when you sell enough, or can be infused into gear in order to upgrade the gear. This is actually my biggest problem with Danmachi Infinite Combate: the weapon/armour shop and full inventory aren't shared between characters.

Yup, that's right, that cool sword you just spent two hours farming drops for with Bell? Turns out it's a normal sword, not a dagger that Bell is proficient in. Go spend another two hours farming that as Ais as well. This is even more annoying when you realize that Ais only has six chapters, and the chapters alternate until Ais runs out, meaning her collected item drops will be basically half the game behind what Bell has collected, so now you have to go farming intermediate gear, to get better gear, so you can actually do the Extra mode content, that's actually the same between Bell and Ais anyway cuz the devs were too lazy to make different dungeons for the two of them.

Rant aside, there are many issues with Infinite Combate.

  • The music is only about 20 seconds, and has the single worst looping I've ever heard, with a full 2 second pause before just starting up again,

  • The game is way too short,

  • The text wrapping during the cutscenes is awful and the grammar could certainly use work in some places,

  • The extra mode dungeons are just a big time sink and aren't really fun just gameplay time padding,

  • The dungeons themselves are mostly just annoying as they can be described as:

    • too many enemies,

    • too much poison,

    • too much damage,

  • Respectively for each extra dungeon, the only rewards for clearing the extra dungeons are points to let you "date" characters and some super cliché hot springs and sleeping together scenes,

  • The game doesn't fully explain mechanics such as MP regeneration or the fact you can hit the minus button to bring up a map,

  • The lack of shared inventory is an awful design choice,

  • All the bosses can three or four shot you when you first fight them,

  • Stat progression is capped by story mostly so you can't even over level if you're having trouble with a boss or floor enemies,

  • You're never actually told what your special skill actually does,

  • There's lag on skill activation that generally made me get clubbed in the face by an enemy, AND

  • The hitboxes are some of the wonkiest excuse for detection I've seen since the Plesioth in Monster Hunter.

Huh, well apparently the rant wasn't completely finished there. Needless to say, Infinite Combate feels like 90% padding and 5% gameplay with another 5% obligatory fan service scenes. The base combat is surprisingly solid, and the fact you can bring two helpers with you to use their skills is nice, but why can't you bring them during free exploration? What the heck is that? I want to bring the party member that increases monster drops so I don't have to spend six hours farming monster loot for crying out loud. I think this is the first time I've ever been legitimately angry at myself for playing a game, and it only got worse the longer I played. Yes, it stays true to the source material, yes I'm pretty sure they got the original Japanese voice actors to do the lines in the game, no that didn't really make it better. At least the item shop guy tells you how many of what drops he needs to unlock gear, although being forced to pay for it afterwards and not knowing what it is before unlocking it is annoying.

My feeling for Danmachi Infinite Combate is that it feels like it was supposed to be a mobile game, like something you'd play on your phone or tablet, and then have to drop actual money on revives when a boss two shots you with some janky double-hit move, or to get extra drops or to buy weapon unlocks or something. The worst part is, I've played better mobile games that were free to play with easily four times the content, AND less annoying systems. To quote my friend Jamie "So the answer to the games question, yes it is wrong to pick up girls in this dungeon crawler".

I mean, the graphics are also poor for what I was expecting, and quite frankly the post game content felt like the devs were just saying "haha, we took your money and by this point you can't refund". I mean, I've liked most of PQube and Mages products as companies, but this time was a major disappointment. It really does feel like it was designed as a mobile game, and then the development crew were suddenly told "oh yeah, we actually want this as a console title" and they didn't have enough time to rework it.


Overall, while I'm actually quite a big fan of the series in general, there is hardly any way I can really justify suggesting this game to anyone given the lack of polish, content, and effective gameplay given the price. Is It Wrong to Try and Pick Up Girls in the Dungeon? Familia Myth Infinite Combate is a huge disappointment, and unless it drops to five or ten bucks on sale, I wouldn't consider it. If you like mobile games and the danmachi franchise, and don't mind shelling out more than it's worth, feel free to take a stab at it.

Score: 5 / 10


Ogre Tale - PC Review

Ogre Tale by developer MAGES Inc. and publisher Degica GamesPC (Steam) review written by Pierre-Yves with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Years ago now back in 2015 I had the chance to sit down to the side scrolling brawler Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds for the PC and the Overdrive version later in the year for the PS4 that I respectively ended up playing with Richard and Jim. Back again into the same realm of beat ‘em up is a tale of laziness and revenge. Taking place in modern day, the last members of a clan of Ogres were simply chilling until an old enemy comes calling and the three teenage girls that act as the story’s protagonists are anything but ready for this level of challenge. Going online to buy new equipment only to find out that they are broke, hilarity ensues as they head out to rob demons of their money in order to fuel their revenge campaign.

I am a sucker for two things. One, is an old-school side scrolling brawler like the ones that I grew up with. The second is over the top and campy storylines. Ogre Tale? It does both of these but a little on the unfortunate side, the gameplay and the systems are not as robust as its predecessor Phantom Breaker five years back. Longer if you consider that it released on the Xbox Marketplace before then. Dropped down onto a pure 2D side scrolling lane instead of a more 3D one, having skill trees replaced with slots inside of weapons and not having individual skill points kept making this four hour wish adventure feel lacking.

Check out Pierre-Yves and Richard’s Let’s Plays from 2015 for Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds

So because of this it’s a good thing that it’s rather short to go through because otherwise Ogre Tale could have overstayed its welcome fairly fast. Softening this up, at least for the first run through the story, is the over the top dialog that takes place both between and during stages with anime references, fourth wall breaking and plenty of self-deprecating localization jokes. While the voice overs are only in Japanese, the tones of sarcasm just help put in the girl’s feeling of their overall situation especially when the going gets tough.

In terms of structure, Ogre Tale is built into 19 Main Stages and a ton of secondary ones that can all from the beginning be done on Normal, Hard or Hardcore. What I really appreciated compared to a lot of other titles in general is that when going from Normal to Hard, the mob types were not only re-skins, but re-skins with new abilities and new ways to kill you. It required more than just being tougher, it required knowing how to handle these new foes. Unfortunately, again, the sheer jump in your foes’ attack strength makes it feel like there was something missing between Normal and Hard especially when it comes to the bosses.

Each Boss has their own style and attack patterns that you’ll need to figure out if you’re going to win. Bosses on normal aren’t that tough, short of the second last one, but bosses on hard will simply kill you dead even if you managed to plow your way through the entire level. It was a bit unfortunate as I had to keep bouncing between playing on Hard or dropping it back down to normal because the boss was simply too much to handle because just one hit could take you out. So it’s a good thing that because of this, if you die, you can restart right back at the entrance of the part of the stage that you had just walked through.

So it’s a good thing that between trying to play on normal or hard and bouncing between the stages that the stages themselves are not very long. And by not very long I mean, sometimes the longest part was listening to the dialog because you could literally finish some of them in about fifteen seconds flat. So how did it take four hours you wonder? Loads of side stages and redoing them for some experience to survive while playing on hard mode. That, and I needed money for better weapons until they started to drop really good ones over the course of your adventure.

Otherwise there really isn’t much else to Ogre Tale. It’s short, I can’t quite say that it’s sweet because of what I felt was lacking, however, you can both play through the story on your own or in coop and then there's loads of secondary stages to be tackled with your choice of the three protagonists. With some last minute in game comments though, I’m hopeful to see a continuation or a sequel to Ogre Tale down the line.

So while Ogre Tale is a much newer title, it felt like a few steps back when it came to the much shorter gameplay levels and challenges. While a bit of balancing will help from Normal being too easy and Hard being ridiculous when it comes to boss fights, I just hope that the potential sequel that is foreshadowed could bring back a more 3D element to combat and skill trees instead of having to rely solely on weapons and hope that they have weapon slots.

Score: 7 / 10


PGA Tour 2K21 - XB1 Review

PGA Tour 2K21 by developer HB Studios Multimedia and publisher 2K GamesMicrosoft Xbox One review written by Nick with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

It would be easy to call PGA Tour 2K21 the best golf game on the market, since there is no real competition to compare it to. So, I’ll do one better and declare that PGA Tour 2K21 is the best golf game in a very long time and is among the most entertaining sports games available. Golf fans will find a lot to love here.

When it was announced that HB Studios – the developers behind The Golf Club series – were going to work with 2K Games on this next iteration in the franchise, I got very excited. I play a lot of sports games, but NBA 2K has easily been my most heavily played sports series (possibly any series) over the last five years. The games find a way to get their hooks into me, so that I continue my career progression while improving my skills. This seemed to me like a perfect match, and I am happy to see that having been proven out.

That is not to say there is no room for improvement, and I’ll certainly get to that – but I found it very hard to put the controller down after firing PGA Tour 2K21 up. If you are familiar with The Golf Club games, you know what you are getting here. The same engine is at play in this title, though there are a handful of tweaks and some extra polish that comes with having an officially licensed game. The Golf Club games were always pretty to look at, with an eye towards solid character models and beautiful golf courses and that remains true here. However, there are some notable improvements in the broadcast style presentation that make the entire experience pop more. Hearing actual announcers like Luke Elvy and Rich Beem is certainly a nice bit of authenticity. That being said, the announcers suffer from repetition rather quickly, and I hope that they expand upon this in the next release.

One example I have to share comes when I took a particularly scenic shot over the water as my wife walked by and casually glanced at the screen asking me who was playing. It was just a brief moment, but she had thought I was watching an actual tournament and not playing a video game, which is the ultimate compliment to a sports simulation’s presentation.

The experience kicks off by having you create your own golfer. This character will be key to the career mode, which is where I spend the vast majority of my time in any sports title. That being said, this is one of the areas where I think some more growth could eventually be had. I’ve really come to enjoy the stories told in the career modes of games like NBA 2K, and the character progression is one of the biggest carrots that series has effectively dangled in front of me to keep me playing. Here you basically start as an unknown looking to make your way into the PGA. The character creator is solid, and as you play there is a heavy emphasis on new gear. This is all cosmetic, and the primary motivation as you pack levels on your character while earning experience for your performances. Those familiar with the 2K sports games are no doubt familiar with the VC currency, but it is not used in any way to actually improve your player, it just allows you to buy new gear. It certainly feels less pervasive in PGA Tour 2K21 than in some of the other 2K titles.

The two areas where the MyCareer mode made an effort is in the sponsorships and the rivalry features. The latter feature pits you against a pro player and as you compete against one another, you gain the opportunity to unlock more gears. The idea is sound, but it never really has the impact that some of the NBA 2K storylines do, where your rival in the story mode is a more direct foil most of the time with more direct interactions. Perhaps one way to make this experience better would be more commentary that touches on these rivalries. It would certainly help with the aforementioned repetitiveness that the commentary suffers from while making the rivalry experience feel more genuine. Sponsorships are another way to get new clothing as your choice impacts what gear you will have access to (similar to the sneaker decisions made in the NBA titles), with challenges along the way that can further unlock unique items. There is a lot of untapped potential here, and I did find myself missing some of the RPG-lite elements found in the NBA 2K series.

Once you have created your character, it is off to learning the basics of the game. Here the core engine from The Golf Club is immediately apparent, but there are some tweaks as well and I strongly encourage even returning players to familiarize themselves with these changes. Backswing timing was immensely impactful in The Golf Club, but here the downswing is what really matters. I for one appreciate this change, as it allows me to find much greater consistency in my stroke. However, do not go thinking that this makes the game easier – it is simply easier to be consistent. Timing is still everything and lack of concentration can cause your shot to go awry just as easily as ever. Another new feature is the putt preview that helps you to learn how to read the greens better than in prior releases in the series. The training mode is quite robust and does an excellent job of walking you through everything from swing basics to more advanced shot types.

There are plenty of options, both in the form of modes and gameplay features. You can simply choose to play by yourself in a quick game or hop online to play against others as well. There are various visual feedback options you can turn on or off to your liking, and different levels of difficulty to be had as well. The mode most likely to soak up hours beyond the career one however, is the return of the course creation tool. You can import your courses from The Golf Club 2019, or just start from scratch here. One of my buddies has done a fantastic job in years past of replicating a couple of our nearby golf courses using this system. It is quite flexible, and you can put numerous visual flairs in place as well. The community has done a fantastic job in providing courses in years past, and I don’t see any reason why that won’t continue to be the same here. These courses add a lot of longevity to the games in this series.

One of the biggest draws to this partnership with 2K however, has to be the official licensing. You not only get branded clubs and realistic sponsorships but having access to fifteen real PGA events lends a lot of authenticity to your FedEx Cup run. The accuracy of East Lake Golf Club or Copperhead Course is impressive. Add to it that you see pro golfers such as Justin Thomas and Sergio Garcia in the mix, and it is clear that the license is being put to good use. That being said, it is easy to imagine an even larger roster of courses and golfers in the future, fleshing out this world and making the experience even more realistic.


This has been a weird year in general and for sports in particular, but PGA Tour 2K21 is a perfect reprieve from all of that. The PGA license is put to good use and the authentic presentation help to round out what was already a great core system. The Golf Club lives on in PGA Tour 2K21, and is a game golf fans are going to want to get their hands on.

Score: 8.5 / 10


Death End Re;Quest 2 - PS4 Review

Death End Re;Quest 2 by developer Compile Heart and Idea Factory and publisher Idea Factory InternationalSony PlayStation 4 review written by Richard with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time: 11 minutes

Death End Re;Quest 2 is the sequel to the title that released back in 2018, of which I also provided a review for. Back then I wasn't really expecting to get a sequel, much less one so soon, but lo and behold, here we are! A sequel to the JRPG with the choose-your-own adventure style choices, some messed up "death ends", and a weird but interesting combination with a visual novel touch. Thankfully, Death End Re;Quest 2 keeps a lot of what I liked about the first title, mostly just improving upon some of the aspects I wasn't too fond of in the first game.

In this sequel to what is actually one of my favourite Compile Heart titles, we follow protagonist Mai Toyama as she explores the lakeside town of Le Choara in search of her little sister Sanae. Now, if you've played the first game, or heard about it, you'll probably realize right away that the sleepy little town is more than it seems to be. After midnight monsters roam the streets, preying on anyone foolish enough to be outside past their curfew. Unfortunately for Mai, this is the only way she will find clues about her sisters disappearance. Written in collaboration with one of the same scenario writers from Corpse Party, you can tell that this isn't going to be a very sanity preserving ride for our protagonist. Set in the same continuum as the first Death End Re;Quest, you will get a chance to maybe see some familiar faces amongst the horrors that stock the streets. But the horrors aren't only out at midnight. Something strange is going on in town, and there have been a lot of mysterious deaths and disappearances surrounding the orphanage/foster home for young girls that Mai has relocated to.

At this point I would like to point out that a large amount of the NPC cast at the dorms are not granted the status of "plot armour". Yes, that's right, depending on your decisions in-game, it could result in the deaths of many of the generally quite young cast of orphaned schoolgirls. Like dismemberment. Or being eaten alive. Cuz yeah, those are things that might happen. Making a repeat appearance from the first title, you are given options to choose what you want to do occasionally, but unlike in the first title where these options would normally just result in your death or continued progress, now they mostly determine whether or not your dorm mates get their spines ripped out through their mouths. I'm honestly a little on the fence about this, as some of the options take a while before you find out their implications, meaning if you really don't like the result, you'll have to go back and redo a chunk of the game, or wait until your next playthrough. On the plus side, normally it doesn't take TOO long to figure out the implications, and the game lets you know if you've made a certain choice before.

Maybe I'm a little more prepared for DER;Q 2 than I was for DER;Q, but I found a lot of the scenarios to not get me as bad as the first title did. I mean, in the first title I wasn't expecting the game to have a scene with a CG about a party character getting crucified and their face flayed off while they're still alive, so that hit me like a load of bricks. Now however, I kind of expect it. It is a lot more of a slow burn "gor-ror" (gore and horror) title than the first, with more of a focus on ambience rather than the occasionally one-off of "oh good lord, why?" that they threw at you. Corpse Party writer at work, evidently.

DER;Q 2 functions in quite a similar manner to DER;Q, with a few notable differences. First up is the Visual Novel style section have been somewhat toned down a little. Between sorties into the night domain of Le Choara, Mai has the opportunity to roam around the dorms and town, interacting with the other members of the dorm, provided they're still alive mind you. Unlike in the original title where the "intermission" sections were mandatory, here you can pretty much just choose not to interact with people if that's what you'd prefer. Pro tip, you CAN save during dialogue, and at any choices that you're given. Also, if you make a choice resulting in a death end, the game lets you return to the last decision you made, which is something that didn't happen in the first title, or at least I haven't checked to see if they patched that since I played the first title, rather.

The combat and field map are largely the same as before, where you can roam the field map, and upon interacting with an enemy, you get into a fight in a "ring" with turn based combat. As far as combat goes, on your turn you can walk anywhere there's space inside the combat ring, and you may choose up to three actions, whether they are skills that use MP, a standard attack, a guard, or an item. I'm pleased to note that skills now inform you what element they do best against, so no longer do you have to sit there wondering whether star is good against moon or sun, you can just check the skill description. The game also gives you ample info about your enemies if you look at them, providing you with their health, element, and general stat distribution. Good to know when you do 2 physical damage, and then check to see that the enemy has 1500 physical defence, but only 200 magic defence.

Also making a return is the knock back and bug systems, although with a few tweaks to them. For the knock back, basically whenever you use a move with a knock back effect, you can send an enemy careening off towards either other enemies or the battle area boundaries. Upon impact, not only do the enemies take damage, sometimes a lot of damage, but they will also continue to bounce around. If a knocked back enemy runs into another character, that character will hit them again, providing a velocity boost. Now there is also a sort of "super knock back" that is able to send the small enemies bouncing around the field like a pinball machine, or allowing you to send the big enemies flying like you would normally the small ones, because yes, weight does matter.

As for the bugs, they are essentially little "parameter affecters" that will be spawned in at the start of battle. The bugs have numerous effects, such as increasing certain stats for a battle, restoring health or MP, or doing damage. Here's a hint, send the healthy enemies into the damaging bugs and watch them blow up. Incidentally, knocking enemies into these bugs is a great way to remove them from the field, while also giving you the positive effects from them, and ONLY the positive effects. Clearing bugs or overkilling enemies by dealing significant or extra damage also awards you with more money and exp after battle respectively. Maybe you don't want to use enemies for most of the bugs though, as walking over them, or getting attacked, builds corruption. Hitting 80% makes you transform into glitch mode, giving you a substantial stat increase and access to a super move, but will decrease your corruption 10% per turn until you are back under 80% again.

I do have to say I'm really glad I played the first title first, as I was able to ease into the battle system a lot better. The reason I say this is because of what I generally refer to as "Compile Heart's bad habit", by which I mean their difficulty scaling is absolutely weird. Some enemies will roll over and die without a fuss, some enemies will kick your teeth in by accident, and bosses are generally a screaming match of "why do you hit so hard!?!?" if you aren't prepared, or you don't really grasp the importance of playing to enemy weakness or making the most out of pin balling them around the stage.

Completely new to the formula is the "Berserker". This creature will occasionally appear on the field map and slowly chase you around. It's suggested you run from it. No really, my first thought was "I wonder how tough it is?" so I went to attack it. Nope, just a game over. Thankfully, it will disappear after a while, so try and avoid it. It helps that enemies are also scared of it and will run away from it as well, making it easy to dodge enemies. Unfortunately, this isn't the last you'll see of the Berserker, as it can invade battles as well. It gets a turn and well start a wide range attack that will display as a red circle. If you're in the circle when its turn comes around again? That character is KO'd. While the range is huge, as far as I can tell the Berserker will never gib you by taking two turns in a row, or acting faster than you can get a turn to move in. On the other hand, it will only go away when the battle ends, and won't attack your enemies for you.

The art style is what you've come to expect from Compile Heart, with the "Live2D" anime stylized models for the visual novel portions, and 3D models for exploration and combat. Gotta give them props for the 3D models this time around, because Mai's overcoat actually sways when she walks. The weapons look a little...gag like, and the enemy models range from "oh, a bat" to "what in the name of all that is good and holy is wrong with that thing", there isn't much clipping of textures, and apart from the 3D models having a little bit fatter looking faces than the Live2D models, there isn't anything I can really complain about. The music is also really well done, with appropriate ambience inducing tunes, and normally good transitions. And the battle theme. MMMMM, the battle theme is so good, I totally was sold for the track within 5 seconds.

That all being said, DER;Q 2 isn't without its problems. Combat can easily flop between aggravating and fun depending on what enemies you happen to be fighting, bosses can be dirty depending on how well you've adapted to the game, the Berserker feels more "gimmick" like than actually frightening, and I feel like there aren't as many choices as in the first game, although they are now more story cohesive. Also, the level system is a bit awkward. You don't get much in the way of stats per level, they tend to be all about the HP and MP increases, and the rest is made up with skill and planning. Also, I still have no idea what smacking a window or car really does outside the dorm. The game says it will draw unwanted attention, which I assumed was the berserker, but five minutes of slapping a car and nothing happened, so I have no clue on that. Thankfully, most of the game is fairly well explained.


Overall, I really loved this new instalment in the Death End Re;Quest series. While I didn't quite enjoy it as much as the first title, that by no means makes it any worse, more that I was just prepared for a lot of the shock factor the game brings. A lot of the systems have been improved on, and the changes are well received. Shout out to the characters complaining in the camp mode if you start jumping after starting a conversation with them.

I highly recommend taking a look into Death End Re;Quest if you are a fan of JRPGs or Corpse Party, as I doubt you will be disappointed. Just be aware that the psychological thriller aspect can have some really not PG friendly scenes, so please heed the disclaimers.

Score: 8 / 10


Dreamscaper - PC Preview

Dreamscaper by developer Afterburner Studios and publishers Freedom Games and Maple Whispering LimitedPC review written by Pierre-Yves.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

With everything that has gone wrong so far with 2020, Afterburner Studios’ Dreamscaper: Prologue was perhaps one of the few things that didn’t. Combining an excellent and easy on the eyes artstyle with an evolving Roguelike that offers a bit of social simulation on the side, finishing the Prologue and the Supporter Edition’s bonus stage simply left me wanting more.

Being rather upfront, I loved the Prologue and have been waiting as patiently as possible for the preview builds to go live so that I could not only sink more time into it, but also discover what has been newly added. Getting my wish, Dreamscaper’s current Early Access build hosts a whole new set of levels and some new features that just make it worth going through all over again. In the grand scheme of things though, there’s not that much that has changed between the prologue and the Early Access build that couldn’t still be covered in our article from back in April, but, we are going to go back through it all anyways!

For those coming to us now though, Dreamscaper is

“A surreal, roguelite inspired ARPG with modernized hack'n'slash combat about lucid dreaming. Warp the dreamscape around you to battle a nightmarish depression that lives in a young woman’s subconscious. DREAM. DIE. WAKE. REPEAT.”

Taking on the role of a young woman named Cassidy who’s recently moved into this new town seemingly for work, you get to meet and get to know her coworkers as well as some of the locals in the possible few hours that Cassidy has “free” at the end of the day. At first it can feel a bit hollow as you ease into the combat heaviness but Dreamscaper soon shows its colors as you earn enough rapport with those that can be interacted with. Not only does Cassidy start to have meaningful conversations, but deeping Cassidy’s bonds with these people will start to unlock new possible abilities and weapons that Cassidy can use while dreaming. Only being able to chat in bursts at first, as you continue to fight hordes of monsters in her dreams you’ll soon be able to make presents to help move these possible conversations along. Think, Atlus’ Persona series on a much smaller scale.

The rest of the time, you’ll be hacking & slashing your way through different visual environments. Keeping the first two environments from the Prologue for a sense of familiarity, you’ll soon be coming up against new visuals and tougher foes that make you wonder if dying was really your fault. This is a Roguelike, and with all Roguelikes, chance is a very big part of it all. New weapons, new powerful abilities, new upgrades to existing ones, health potions, keys and bombs to unlock passageways. It’s all random and sometimes it’s all in the cards while other times? You either “git gud” or try all over again.

Dreamscaper is a true Roguelike. It’s not a Roguelight, Roguelite, Roguelike-ish, it’s a Roguelike. You have access to everything that you can hold onto until you die. Once you do? You start all over from scratch including all of the ability and stat upgrades such as extra attack, defense and health from defeating the bosses of a stage. The only thing you ever keep are the dropped items to help you craft gifts for those with which have the above mentioned benefits. Making things perhaps a touch easier than the Prologue however is that once you’ve defeated a boss, it’s your choice whether you want to face off against them all over again for all of the loot that they can drop, or take the easy way up and simply acquire the upgrade. That, is your choice.

Now this next part is subtle, but I really appreciated it and I don’t know if it would have worked so well if Dreamscaper wasn’t a Roguelike. The lucid dreaming that Cassidy does is her way of fighting against her depression. Having been depressed, and I don’t mean casually moping around for a few days because life decided to suck, but really depressed because of suddenly losing my father and then eventually going to therapy for it, it’s hard and a lot of days will not be victories. Not even small ones and Dreamscaper because of being a Roguelike and heavily luck based simulates that as some nights the battle is basically lost before it even begins and that cuts into Cassidy’s social time as she just won’t feel up to it. And it’s ok. There’s always the next night to start over and try to get back on your feet. It’s a long process. It’s hard as hell, and the gameplay reflects this as you help Cassidy fight against her demons.


So overall, from the Prologue into the Early Access build where Dreamscaper will continue to be refined, I would heavily suggest it to both fans of combat based adventures as well as fans of Roguelikes. The only real question left to ask from this point will be what will the final version hold in store for us? Until then though? May your aim be true and your lucid dreaming victorious!

Score: N/A


Max and the Book of Chaos - Switch Review

Max and the Book of Chaos by developer and publisher Orenji Games EntertainmentNintendo Switch review written by Richard with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Max and the Book of Chaos is a 2D sort of "run and gun" kind of game about the dangers of reading books. As a game, it did what it set out to be, but that's really kind of it.

Max and the Book of Chaos is about a summer school adventure for Max Raccoon, a kid who has the same IQ as your houseplants, and is for some reason the only kid not captured or turned into a pelican face by an evil book that the janitor hid in the library of the summer school. Turns out the book is an evil dimension rifting book that is hidden away by generation after generation of guardian, with the janitor being the current guardian. But apparently, with his new pelican head, he can't fight back against the unleashed evil, so he gives Max a gun to blast away foes. Genius.

Gameplay consists of completing timed stages, which are essentially mini arenas where you have to fend off enemies and rescue the other kids that have been put in cages before time is up. You can get power up drops and shot type temporary drops from enemies or periodically to change the firing type of the gun, but ultimately every stage is a single themed location/enemy set and three cages with Max's summer school friends stuck in them, with the occasional boss fight.

Yes there's a store, but the upgrades are spotty at best, sometimes don't even work, and it's almost impossible to tell what the price of an item is before you have enough to buy one, because the text is pretty much the same as the background for the "not enough to buy" colour. To compound that, the upgrades don't always actually work. For instance, the "invincible while dashing" upgrade worked for me about half the time, the other half I had a face full of evil minion. You can also only equip one at a time.

The humour is kind of hit and miss in the cutscenes you get, with a big focus on the "miss" part. There were a few gags that were ok, but the rest were bad, even by my standards. Also, it clearly shows that English is not the first language. There are tons of grammar gaffes and horribly translated lines interspersed in the coherent dialogue, and at times felt like the writing was aimed at a very much younger audience, which probably wouldn't go over well given the surprising difficulty. There's also some graphical issues and running issues as well, as the game will spawn lots of enemies, and will then start to lag. The graphics themselves also glitch out, as a few times the kids in cages kept flashing between lack of shoes and "shoed", or legs and no legs.

Max and the Book of Chaos is also really short. There are only really three "worlds" with six stages each (that are supposed to be increasing difficulty) with two that are purely boss fights. Each stage can give up to three stars depending on how many students you save, and you need ten out of eighteen to challenge the boss. I was honestly finished the full game, every stage full star rating, in a little under an hour, so don't expect particularly long play sessions out of this.

While the core gameplay is passable, if not a little spotty at times, the boss fights feel a little eclectic, which can be a good thing in a game like this, but isn't really implemented as best as it could be here. Especially the last boss fight. I mean, I'm ok with platforming, in fact I quite enjoy it, but throwing one of the worst platforming sequences I've seen in at least 3 years at the end of a game that is essentially isolated rooms of clearing enemy waves makes you question some decisions. AND WHY THE HECK WOULD YOU MAKE THE PLATFORMS BOUNCE FROM THE PERIODIC LASERS?!? WHO THOUGH THAT WAS A GOOD IDEA?!? Combine that with occasionally falling straight through the platforms, and the final sequence was a bit of a nightmare.


Ultimately this feels like something you would find off of Newgrounds a few years ago, just a little longer than normal. As a game, it certainly functions, although not particularly well or with much depth. Did I have fun? Surprisingly yes. I've played worse. I've played a lot worse. Unfortunately, that doesn't particularly allow me to call this "good". It functions as a game, and it accomplished the main reason for existing, but it doesn't swing too much in any other direction, whether good or bad. It is very short, the humor is childish most of the time, purchased abilities have the tendency to glitch out occasionally, and stages tend to feel more frustrating than challenging.

That being said, if all you want is some short contra/metal slug style single room stages, Max and the Book of Chaos will certainly deliver, although maybe not to the best of its ability.

Score: 4 / 10


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