Captain of Industry Preview

Captain of Industry
by developer and publisher MaFi GamesPC (Steam) preview written by Hayden with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated Reading Time: 7 minutes. 

Indie developers MaFi Games have delivered an exemplary entry into the colony-building genre with Captain of Industry, hitting lots of strong points with very few hang-ups. Here, you’ll go from a small group of survivors off a damaged cargo ship to a thriving industrial hub with aspirations of space travel. Or maybe you’ll end up with a deserted industrial wasteland of rusting machinery after your fertilizer production broke down and your people starved. Whichever way it goes, it’s all up to you and your ability to juggle ever more complex industrial chains.

A factory in the rain, probably on the road to ruin unless I can solve its power problems.

First Impressions

The new player experience is often critical to the success of a game, especially for the colony and management sims. It doesn’t matter how many features and tools a game has if the player can’t find them or gets overwhelmed. The first time I loaded up Captain of Industry, I worried that this was going to sink the game. A single window pops up of “things to do asap” didn’t really provide any explanation of how one was supposed to proceed.

By the time I had bravely poked at a couple of buttons unguided, however, I found these worries were unfounded. Captain of Industry provides tutorial notifications as small banners on the left side of the screen. Clicking them opens text explanations (with pictures!) of how things work, in a clear and straightforward manner. I quickly found myself up to speed with the basics and noticed a nice touch: further tutorials popped up notifications as items unlocked via research in the game’s extensive tech tree. Unlocked the ability to build a mining control tower? Here’s a pop-up directing you to tutorial pages on how to set up mining zones, dump unwanted products, etc.

Early tutorial pages are simple, but later ones make good use of images to get the point across.

Beyond tutorials and instructions, the game itself looks crisp and well defined, with nice bits of artistic flair throughout. The transport trucks in the game change visually depending on what type of cargo they are hauling. Open bins let you see the contents, closed cargo containers or fluid tanks as they all appear based on truck tasks. MaFi Games has even made sure the cargo bins lift up to dump cargo here, adding to the immersion. The terrain is in a clear and bright palette where the game overlays a series of grid lines and contours when different tools are selected. Even the ocean water surrounding the island hits the right mark. Glossy highlights make it look liquid, a bit of heaving, ocean-like movement is present, but no GPU-consuming whitecaps will be seen.

Quality of Life

Captain of Industry nails its spot as a colony and management sim with very carefully positioned quality of life features. These have had such an impact that I wish these were now present in other games I have played! Most obvious at the start was the automation of the transport vehicles in the game. Using simple toggles and priority settings on virtually every building, the trucks, and vehicles fairly smartly between destinations.

This relies heavily on pathing, which is an area that many games show weakness - but not this one. Captain of Industry doesn't leave you wondering why a truck can’t take a certain route, it gives you the tools to figure it out. Every vehicle in the game has the ability to toggle a Navigation overlay, which highlights the entire playing area in green and red, showing the player where unexpected deformations may have interrupted a route.

The Navigation Overlay takes the guesswork out of "why can't my vehicles use that route?"

Next up on the list of things that I (now) wish other games had is simple, clear feedback when connecting machines. Captain of Industry offers the player several different types of pipes and conveyors to make permanent connections between machines. Connection ports are shape-coded based on what kind of connector is needed, but this isn't all.

Successful planned connections have a small green plug icon pop up above them before the placement is finalized. Use the wrong connection type, and a red plug icon pops up indicating there is a problem at the junction. These little icons alone have saved me huge amounts of frustration. Much of the chasing-down problems that other factory games have conditioned me to expect simply don’t happen here.

I never knew how much I needed a tiny pop-up to tell me something won't work until I got used to seeing this.

Before I spend too much time waxing eloquently on all the virtues of the game, I’ll leave you with one more example of the thoughtful quality of life items that MaFi Games has included - output value normalization on every machine’s info panel. Like many other production games, Captain of Industry uses different cycle speeds for different buildings.

Unlike other games, a simple toggle changes the machine’s output display from showing the value per cycle to showing output per 60 days. This setting carries over to every machine's info panel automatically. Trying to balance the output of factory cycles that take 5, 7, 9, and 13 days with each other? Simply toggle the switch, and every cycle’s output per 60 days is shown for easy comparison. The player still has to balance these, but it is terribly refreshing to not have to calculate these values myself.

What makes it unique?

A new game always has to answer the question "what makes this one different?". For Captain of Industry, it is the ability to traverse and explore the world around you. The damaged cargo ship that brought the player to the island initially can (and must) be repaired. Repairing the ship is an early-game milestone and unlocks Captain of Industry's key world exploration mechanics.

Managing your island’s finite resources only goes so far, and interacting with the world to get more is essential. From settlements you can trade with to offshore resource nodes (mines, oil rigs, etc.), refugees (providing population and a smattering of materials), and pirates, this really sets the game apart. Letting players explore is an aspect that many other colony sims neglect - too often we are given the map to play on and that’s it.


Captain of Industry joins a fairly crowded genre of games, falling somewhere between Factorio, Cities: Skylines, and SatisFactory. Players who enjoyed one or more of those three will likely enjoy Captain of Industry. With more features on their roadmap, this already impressive title is going to be a hard one to beat. MaFi Games has done an excellent job here, and it really feels polished even at the start of Early Access. I strongly recommend picking this title up, even during this Early Access stage. This game is on course for a 9/10, and I'm excited for what else is added before full release.

Captain of Industry is a colony sim/management game that hits all the right notes. Clear graphics convey what the player needs to know, and a bevy of quality of life features here work so well that I wish I saw equivalents in other games.

Just having released into Early Access on 31 May, 2022, Captain of Industry already feels like a release-quality title. MaFi Games has done an excellent job here, and I strongly recommend picking this title up right away, even in the Early Access period.

Score: N/A


Disgaea 6 Complete Review

Disgaea 6 Complete by developer Nippon Ichi Software and publisher NIS America Inc.Sony PlayStation 5 review written by Pierre-Yves with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated Reading Time: 7 minutes. 

Previously on Disgaea 6, super reincarnated Pierre-Yves and company found themselves in Nippon Ichi Software's latest over the top and hilarious SRPG series. Having enjoyed their time with it, there was sadly one element that didn't quite shine as well as it could have. Having moved from the Nintendo Switch to the PlayStation 5 however? This SRPG is back, super shiny, and has absolutely zero performance issues as you battle against the God of Destruction and die, die, and die again as the Zombie protagonist Zed.

Note: Please be aware that this review contains some spoilers either in the text or in the screenshots taken during gameplay.

Reviewing a title for a second time comes with a few perks. Firstly, you know what you're in for. Secondly, you can get right into things much quicker as you don't need to go through all of the tutorials or the notes for the features should you choose to bypass them. This is one area that the Disgaea series does really well as it knows that returning fans don't need to know how to deploy, attack, stack blocks and other basic things. For newcomers though, everything is ready and waiting for them to get a better handle on the experience.

Nippon Ichi Software, NIS for short, NISA for its North American localization branch, have been at this for a long time with the original Disgaea: Hour of Darkness (Nick’s 2018 review of Disgaea 1 Complete) having come out back in 2003. With other titles such as Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure (1998) and LaPucelle Tactics (2002) both part of the upcoming Prinny Presents: NIS Classics Vol 3, their resume speaks for itself. So Why bring up history? Because with so many epic titles under the hood including the recently re-released Phantom Brave, Soul Nomad and the World Eaters, Makai Kingdom which are all SRPGs, there’s going to come a time that a shift needs to be taken and Disgaea 6 may have been it.

Jumping back in, there were a few things that once worried me that this time around I took for granted. Super high numbers that make it pointless to do the math? Check. Auto battling system with adjustable AI features to take care of healing, item acquisition or full on mayhem? Check. Awesome story to sit through for a second time now knowing about certain plot points? That last item is also a check as long as you have your popcorn as Disgaea 6's dialog and back to basics story is worth revisiting.

So taking it from the top, Disgaea 6 is a story of love and vengeance told through the protagonist Zed. Having busted his way through level 999 guards, Zed walks right into the Darkest Assembly and states that the God of Destruction has been defeated and it's all by his hands. Breaking the tale into chapters and stages as is the series staple, there will be plenty of twists and turns as you unlock new story characters and create new custom ones.

Starting off in a hub like area that contains everything you could need, equipment shops, evility (evil ability) shop, a juice bar, access to the item world, Darkest Assembly and the DLC shop, Disgaea 6 took this and simplified it further. You can easily walk around and enjoy the sights of the hub, or, with either “L2” or “R2” triggers, you can quickly navigate to their functions to get what needs to be done, done, and then get back out on the field. Further improving the efficiency is that the hospital which has been a long series staple no longer makes it necessary to manually heal your units, or even pay for the services. Instead, it’s now done free of charge and you will receive rewards for how many hit points (HP), skills points (SP) have been restored alongside how many times your units have been revived.

Moving out from the hub into the first, second, third, fourth, tenth chapters and selecting your stage, you’ll be treated to cutscenes both before and after on your first time through that particular stage. Generally played like a visual novel, these voiced cutscenes are what probably half the players are here for because there isn’t a single Disgaea that has been “boring”. The characters are well written, the story is generally ridiculous and the supporting casts are always on their “A” game. Even the DLC characters come with the same treatment in Disgaea 6 from Adell and Rozalin, to D3’s Mao, D4’s Vavatorez (Sardines!) and D5’s Killia which need to be defeated before they can be recruited.

From these story segments, you’ll be diving into a world of strategy where the stakes are high and the numbers are now insane especially when you start throwing around NIS’ mascot exploding peg legged penguins known as Prinnies dood. Starting from a “home base” point, you’ll be moving your characters out into the field through a square based format. Each character can by default move “X” amount of squares, have attacks that affect “X” amount of squares and can be equipped with items to move out even further if needed.

Once you’ve moved your troops out and into place, if there are enemies in range you can decide to either assign characters to do standard attacks or more special ones if they have the SP for it. Once all of these actions are done and there’s nothing more to be done, you can end your turn and it’s the enemy’s turn to do the same. From there, it’s a rinse and repeat until you come out victorious and move onto a new cutscene and then back to the hub. The best part about this format is that as you progress through the story either the enemies become stronger or the complexity of the stages increase. Or both making you really have to get into the nitty gritty of your characters, their levels, their abilities, and finally, how much time you’re going to be grinding out experience and mana to make it all work.

The fun part of all of the above will be taking trips to the Darkest Assembly in order to get bills passed in order to do more. While the format of the “Dark” Assembly has changed over the years, the core premise has brought us to the latest Darkest Assembly. Want to gain triple experience in the next battle? Want to unlock better items in the shop? Want to increase your relationships with certain class types or species of Senators within the Darkest Assembly? You’re going to need mana to bring the bill forward and then hope that those voting on the bill give you what you want.

If the Darkest Assembly’s Senators vote against you though and the bill fails, you have two options. Walk away sad that your hard earned mana is now gone, or, do what Disgaea does best and be evil by taking the fight to the assembly. Option 1 just means that you’ll be out of mana. Option 2? These will be fights for the ages as oftentimes Senators will be leagues above you in terms of power and will wipe you from existence. As you get more powerful however and are rocking level 6000 or 9999, chances will be much higher that you get your way and not be out of tens or hundreds of thousands of mana points.

So with all of these par for the course, there were new features introduced such as the Juice Bar which allows you to infuse characters with extra HP, SP, mana, attack, defense, intelligence or resistance for example. While all of these will cost money, it’s a quick and easy way to upgrade your characters before getting into the other new feature of Super Reincarnation which allows you to reset your characters to level 1 but with karma points available to increase your base stats not unlike the Juice Bar. The only difference here is that you need to spend hard earned mana to do it. The more mana dropped, the more karma earned.

For the game changer however is the newly introduced autobattling system. While unsure of this system back in the original demo and for a while within my Nintendo Switch trip through Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny, this time I used it for everything that it was worth. Generally SRPGs are all about the thought of your actions and hoping that they work out as well as you’re hoping them to. The hands on is what it’s all about and depending on the harshness of the experience like the original Fire Emblem’s perma deaths, you learn from your mistakes rather quickly.

What makes this autobattling system so great is that it speeds things along for the “modern” age meaning that you don’t need to hang around for an entire afternoon rinsing and repeating the same actions. Instead, you can set your troops loose onto the field and even have them repeat the stage without you needing to lift a finger. This is great for quickly accumulating experience, money and mana, but what if things get complicated? If things get complicated there are a number of extra options that can be combined with an intricate “if / then” chart that can be built from scratch and then tested out. There are core values like, “Go all out”, “Heal when in danger” and “Prioritize opening chests”, but, if you really want control, you’ve got it right here.

Finally, one element that I really didn’t use the first time around having tried to do it the “good old fashioned way”, is that now characters can be assigned classes to help unlock others. Now, you don’t need to create a character, level them up and put in all this effort before no longer using them or switching them up to the next class you need. Now, you can assign these roles to your main crew, core Disgaea 6 or DLC characters, and then create the new character that you want with all of the mana and karma you need to super power them from the beginning.

All of these mechanics roll in neatly together and when combined with the story, the writing of the characters and the stellar cast of voice actors for the latest entry? Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny was good but it had one lacking element on the Nintendo Switch, power under the hood. Disgaea 6 Complete takes care of this on a more powerful console meaning that at all times there are no stutters while moving around the base or within combat and the now fully 3D character models look amazing at all times. 


While Nippon Ichi Software’s Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny was good, Disgaea 6 Complete takes it that next step for another fantastic, and more definitive, experience. This is especially the case for long term fans of the series that may not have gone over to the Nintendo Switch and stayed with Sony’s PlayStation where this series has always been. So if you haven’t yet had the chance to jump onto this latest SRPG, now’s your chance doods!

Score: 8.5 / 10


Metal Max Xeno: Reborn Review

Metal Max Xeno Reborn by developer Kadokawa Games and publisher PQubeSony PlayStation 4 review written by Richard with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated Reading Time: 12 minutes.

Metal Max Xeno Reborn is a remake of Metal Max Xeno, a title released in 2018. Now with a revamped combat system, and a whole lot less dialogue, Metal Max Xeno Reborn is here to provide an interesting twist on the classic JRPG format.

While I admit I haven't personally played the original Metal Max Xeno, I have done some research into it, so hopefully I can include some of the differences between the two versions throughout this review. Without further ado, let's talk a little about the background plot. Metal Max Xeno Reborn is part of the Metal Max series, which I can only liken to a Mad Max if you replace the bandits with robots.

Specifically for Metal Max Xeno Reborn, the basic idea is that many years ago, humanity built a supercomputer to make life better, which was named Noah. Turns out, the supercomputer deemed humanity the biggest problem, so elected to expunge them from the planet. After much warring, a hero managed to shut down Noah. The machines and biologically engineered creatures it spawned, however, are still out on a rampage.

You take on the role of Talis, a young man who calls himself a "monster hunter" who has made it his goal to destroy as many monsters, robotic or otherwise, as he possibly can. After being let in to the local garrison "Iron Base", he will begin recruiting allies to help fight back against the giant robot called Catastropas. This giant mech is responsible for much of the destruction of "Distokio", and presents a serious threat. As you play through the game, you can collect background info from the characters you meet, and from the residents at the Iron Base.

So, at this point I'd like to let you know that in Metal Max Xeno Reborn (MMXR from now on) the developers have, for the most part, absolutely scrubbed away most of the plot other than a few missions you don't technically have to complete, and the main goal of defeating Catastropas. What this means is that the game is almost fully active play time, but you miss out on a lot of the in-depth story. Some characters will also talk about things that might not make sense as it is related to plot that has been removed. While minimalist plot presentation isn't always a bad thing, like older Monster Hunter titles or the Souls series, in a JRPG like this it is a little disappointing. You don't get to learn more about the characters, other than the occasional dialogue line while in the base.

So, let's talk about what a weird but fun gameplay approach has been taken here. First of all, we need to separate a few things: exploration, combat, and things to do at the base. We'll start off with exploration. Now, in most traditional JRPGs you start off walking around the world map, then you normally get a land vehicle, then an air vehicle. In MMXR you get tanks. Now don't get me wrong, you can walk everywhere if you really want, but tanks are where it's at. In the tutorial dungeon you will acquire your first tank, and along with it, a brief intro into combat, which we will talk about later. Now obviously, you can't take a tank everywhere you go, so sometimes you will need to go out and explore on foot. MMXR is divided up into areas with the occasional sub area you can get into, normally on foot. As you roam around the map, you will be able to pick up crates with items, or salvage materials from scrap piles.

As you earn some more cash, or progress further in the game, you have the opportunity to dig up buried items, which can be anywhere from cash to weapons and items. While chests and buried items will not respawn, the salvage piles will after a while. But everything isn't all simply a trip to the dilapidated desert that used to be Tokyo, no no. There are fearsome creatures, both mechanical and semi-organic, prowling around. If they spot you, an "alert" meter will pop up. While this is filling up, you can run and hide from enemies, or initiate a first strike. When either the gauge fills up or you attack the enemy, turn-based combat will commence, which I will get into a little bit later.

Now, in addition to the common dreg monsters, there are WANTED monsters, which are REALLY strong creatures that have been giving people trouble possibly for years. These things are incredibly dangerous, and chances are you'll be running away from them for a while until you get your tanks outfitted better. These monsters however will not only drop some unique items, they also provide you with a large cash payout, and potentially a new tank! Whenever you enter a new area, the helpful gynoid from the Iron Base will give you info on all the WANTED enemies in the area. When you approach one, she will also give a few dialogue lines, often indicating how well she thinks you'll fare. Chances are "very poorly" in the first two map areas.

Now, if you look at the map you may think "oh, this game isn't that big", but you'd be surprised at how large the areas really are. Add into this that there are always enemies wandering around, treasure to collect, and things to explore, and the areas aren't as small as they seem. I mean, there's a reason there's often a decent number of different fast travel locations in each area. Fast travel locations are something you'll use a lot of as well, as most monsters other than the common scrub types won't actually respawn for a decent length of time. Couple this with the fact that your tanks take a lot of damage and you heal at the base on normal mode, you'll probably be traveling back and forth an awful lot. The side areas are similar, usually being areas you need to explore on foot, but may contain interesting mechanics, such as turning on the sprinkler system to reduce the stats of some exploding enemies you find in the area.

Alrighty then, let's talk a bit about combat. Combat for on-foot battles and tank battles are largely similar, so we're going to roll general combat under one umbrella, and then I'll talk about the tank mechanics specifically after. Combat will start for you as soon as you, the player, see an enemy on-screen. This is because all enemies can be attacked outside of combat as long as the weapon you're attacking with has the necessary range. This means you can also sneak up on an enemy from behind and hit them with a strong attack to start the battle. Before you ask, yes, you can kill enemies on your first move, without technically "entering combat". Once you see an enemy, you can enter the action menu, select attack, and then either choose an enemy close enough on foot or actually aim your sights while in a tank.

Once actual combat starts, it functions largely like traditional turn-based JRPG combat. You have a little circle that fills up, and then you can perform an action, such as attack, guard, use a skill, or use an item. While the character you're controlling is not performing an action, you can also walk around the battlefield. This allows you to move to set up attacks with weapons that have different areas of effect, such as cone shaped spread. While range becomes irrelevant for single targets once you enter combat, that doesn't mean you can't catch other enemies in the range if you position properly. Since you can equip multiple weapons, you can also decide what to attack with, as some enemies may be resistant or weak to certain types of damage. While the game gives you an effectiveness gauge when selecting an enemy to attack, I'm pretty sure there's also a hidden attack modifier for physical/elemental damage types, at least just based on personal observation.

Tank battles are a little different fare. While tank fights function with a similar basis, because you can set up to five weapons, as well as support chips which will give certain bonuses on the tanks, things get a little more interesting. As an example, you could equip up to five heavy cannons on a tank, and then grab a support chip that allows you to fire all five cannons at once. Unfortunately, cannons are heavy, and tanks have a maximum load rating. As an interesting note, which took me a while to figure out, your tank health is proportional to the difference between max load capacity and current equip load. In order to increase equip load, you need to either improve your current engine, or acquire a new one. You can equip three different weapon types: cannons, machine guns, and special effect weapons. Each weapon type serves a different use, and has their own effects, as well as ammo count. While the machine guns have infinite ammo, they also tend to do less damage and have a worse hit rate.

Now, you might be thinking "well, isn't that basically the same as while on foot?". So here's the thing: tanks don't "die" when they lose their HP. Essentially, a tanks HP is just a protective armour. Once that's gone, any further attacks will start damaging your equipment. Guns severely damaged? Can't fire them. Engine broke? Can't move. This is kinda cool in the sense that you can still keep on fighting after you run out of health, provided your gear isn't fully broken, in which case you'll be ejected to a foot battle. Keep in mind you could still run away, which stops your attacking, and instead lets you literally drive your tank, or walk, away from the fight and hope the enemy stops following you.

Even once you've cleared the game, there is still more available. As you clear a difficulty, you unlock the next difficulty, which restock chests and buried treasure, new and better gear becomes available, new WANTED targets become available, and enemies give more exp and money. You can either start up a new game, or continue on your saved file with all your progress still intact. After beating Catastropas at least once, you'll also unlock Survival mode, which doesn't heal you when you return to base, making it necessary to stock up on healing items to help get you through.

So as you've noticed I've mentioned earning levels. While these don't directly affect the tank fights, they do affect your three characters and dog that you can take with you into battle. Yes, a dog. The dog is also an absolute beast, tanking hits better than some of your tanks. As your party members level, or your dog gets fed doggy chow, they earn skill points. These can be assigned in the main menu under characters, then again under skills. Skills can be anything from stat increases, to new skills to use in combat, to passive upgrades or unique skills.

Alrighty then, let's talk a bit about the art direction, both musical and graphical. We'll start graphical. There are two graphic modes, which confused me when I first swapped them, because it changes all the character portraits and I was NOT prepared for that. Essentially, one art style is more "gruff" and a little rougher around the edges, fitting for a desert dystopia. The other art style is smoother, and is more "traditional JRPG"-like. Both styles are pretty good and serve their own purpose. Personally, some characters, like Talis, the main character, I liked better with the rough texture. Others look better with the smoother art style. The music however? Just all-around really great. The area themes were really well done and I found portrayed the tone of the zone you were in really well. All of the battle themes also really slap, most of which are some nice heavy metal tracks with electric guitar at the forefront. The WANTED theme especially is really good.

Metal Max Xeno, despite all the love I have for it, is still certainly flawed in some aspects. First off, it's really tough if you can't figure out what you're doing. Figuring out where to go is fine, but until I found a tank setup that worked for me, any battles that lasted more than a few turns didn't end well for me. Additionally, there are a few really underexplained aspects, such as how upgrading engines give massive HP payouts on tanks.

Also, getting in and out of the tanks can get a little annoying, as sometimes you park too close to what you want the on-foot units to get in, then you have to get back in and move the tanks around. There are also a few points where you're slogging through an absolute wash of enemies you don't want to deal with, hoping you can just get through and be done with it. You can also get your tank stuck, sort of. While you can spin on an axis, you will still collide with obstacles, meaning if you catch a corner while trying to run from a WANTED bounty, you may be screwed. At least a full party wipe just sends you back to the base. It's also really good money to game mileage, which always helps.


Overall, I have to say I really like Metal Max Xeno Reborn. While the gutted storyline and a few design choices are a little questionable, I found the combat system to be immensely enjoyable. Nothing quite like spotting an enemy over a hill and massacring them with a 100 ton cannon dropped by the last boss.

Score: 8.5 / 10


SpellForce 3 - Reforced Review

SpellForce 3 - Reforced by developer Grimlore Games and publisher THQ NordicSony PlayStation 4 review written by Pierre-Yves with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes.

Having originally launched in December 2017, Grimlore Games and THQ Nordic's SpellForce 3 is now available on a console. Having been refined over the years and put under a new banner of SpellForce 3 - Reforced, this Real Time Strategy RPG is now available outside of the realm of keyboards and mice. With plenty of updates and refinements under the hood, the result is an interesting one.

Having originally reviewed the PC version for Chalgyr's Game Room, Robert's review was favorable enough. Having also reviewed it at the time for DigitallyDownloaded, I had also enjoyed my time with the latest in this series of hybrid Real Time Strategy and RPG. So when the opportunity arose to dive back in, but on a console with a controller, I was curious to see how it handled.

Starting off with the main portion of the experience, your heroes, things work fairly well. Once selected by either having your cursor directly above them or by pressing and holding “X” to expand a selection menu, you can then order them to a new location. Moving to a new location like in most RTS will come in one of two types. Move to the new location and ignore anything and everything else, or, move to the new location and fight as needed. Both work well enough and expand over to your armies once they start to be built up and assigned to different squads to move around.

The main difference between these two is that your heroes also have special abilities that are attached to a command wheel menu that can be brought up at any point in time. What I enjoyed about this wheel is that it made it much easier with a controller to select special abilities than it would have with the normal command bar that comes with a keyboard and mouse approach. Furthermore, what I continued to enjoy is that this command wheel is a shared element between all heroes. This shared space lets you setup according to what makes the most sense for you, and for the heroes that you have on the field. Once you’ve run out of space, a quick click is all that is needed to swap for an entire second command wheel which is great for lesser used, but still useful, abilities.

Moving from heroes and their troops into buildings and bases, this is where things kind of fell off for me on the console version. In the PC version, it was easy enough to rotate your buildings as you needed in order to maximize the use of space. In the console version however, short of constantly trying to rotate the camera and hoping that you get it right, if a building doesn’t fit it’ll try to throw itself into the next available spot. This made it hard to manage the placements of barracks for example alongside wood and stone cutters for your main bases before even worrying about outposts and defense towers to start mining metal. Much less building farms with orcs in their barren lands when all you want is a few trees to get things going!

As time goes on, and that these buildings have been set up, and you have your defenses in place, there's a bit of a rinse and repeat that will start to get old. Starting with a central location as your main base of operations, you'll soon have to conquer outposts, take them over, and build up. Over, and over, and over again all while under constant attack meaning that you can't really move your main army from that point if you don't want to lose all of the effort that you put in.

Eventually it'll be safe enough once you get troops mainly for this position and enough towers, but with the controller? It made it harder to swap between these locations unless you've really explored your options and know that there's an option for the overview map. Sadly this is still several clicks away and oftentimes it'll be faster to simply mosey your way over there with the cursor instead of fumbling around for which menu. Another approach to mitigate this would be to "hotkey" squads to these locations and then double tap the selection to move the camera over to them.

When not worrying about a base, building a base, outposts and managing your armies though, SpellForce 3 really lends itself well to the consoles. When only having your heroes available to explore a location and basically go on a dungeon crawl, the adventure is not that dissimilar than your standard top down third person isometric RPG. Your characters can be moved around as mentioned above, use their attacks and then interact with switches, treasure chests and looting defeated enemies. The character menus themselves are fairly easy to set up gear, learn new abilities and then set these new abilities to the command wheel. Finally, if you really want to zoom in on the action, you can and it's in these moments that you really get an appreciation for the levels of detail that went into SpellForce 3.

If there’s one real complaint however to SpellForce 3 - Reforced, other than some of the adaptations to the controller which were to be expected, it would be the user interface. The UI cannot be scaled up which means if you’re sitting 5, 10, 15 feet away and have a decent sized screen? You’d better hope that you know what you’re looking at or you’ll need to move up close in order to better read the screen. When looking to see if it was an issue with the PC version, it looks like there are some workarounds, but sadly there was nothing within the console’s in-game menus.


Overall though, Grimlore Games and THQ Nordic’s SpellForce 3 - Reforced is a decent experience on the consoles. While it may need a bit of an adjustment period to get the feel for a real time strategy on the consoles, it shows that there is a way to do it and I think with the mixing of RPG elements and that level of dungeon crawling helps to break up the pace just enough to make it all work together without the need for a mouse and keyboard for extended periods of play.

Score: 7.75 / 10


The Amulet of AmunRun Review

The Amulet of AmunRun by developer and publisher Fruits of Yggdrasil StudioPC (Steam) review written by Susan N. with a copy provided by the publisher.Estimated Reading Time: 11 minutes.

The Amulet of AmunRun is a cooperative escape room game set in an Egyptian tomb. On the surface, this game is perfect for puzzle aficionados like my partner and I. It includes complex challenges, cartoony and fun graphics, and is set in an Egyptian pyramid. Without really looking at the game type, I snatched the opportunity to play it. Then I regretted my life choices in a serious way.


AmunRun is listed as an indie, and adventure game, and markets itself as a cooperative escape room. Two archaeologists enter a dangerous pyramid and their objective is to recover the pharaoh's amulet hidden deep within. Historically, tombs were constructed to protect the mummy and their goods from thieves. It is a practice used to protect prestigious persons like pharaohs or powerful people in Egypt. However, these 'traps' are not designed as depicted in modern movies. Anyways, the gameplay has two distinct sections. The first is the puzzle section and the second is the running portion. In combination, The Amulet of AmunRun could have been a great experience. Unfortunately, we will get to why I didn't enjoy my playthrough.

Puzzles in the game are layered in that each room has multiple stages to complete the encounter. After players make it through coordination and sleuthing the solutions, they will progress to the runner portion of gameplay. In these areas, there are timers in the form of boulders or mummy chases, or floors collapsing. Thankfully, the puzzles break up the frustrations of running sections that feel stilted and inconsistent.

The Puzzles:

At several points in the game, players have to solve intriguing puzzles like deciphering texts. In other areas, players need to find objects for placement on stone blocks. Most of them require players to activate switches in order, indicated on cartouches or scrolls found in the area.

At the very least, while the puzzles seemed to be logical, there are too many solution possibilities. Normally, adding challenging puzzles to a video game is an aspect that I love. Sadly, the answer to puzzles is reduced to trial and error because players are given all of the solutions at once. Unlike other puzzle games, there is no separation of the clues to assist the players. In this way, the game feels padded. It takes hours to figure out puzzle solutions if players follow the wrong set of clues. The only way that players know if they are successful is if they live, or if new objects appear.

For example, the mummy room has three stages. The first requires jar placement on the stones. The second is the placement of the scarabs. The third requires throwing the Ankh at the lights on the walls. Part one is hard because there are multiple cartouches on the walls, a plethora of symbols on the statues, and a bulletin board with even more symbols. The next part is logical but hard to determine the order. The third stage of the puzzle was easiest to execute but irritating because of the mummy chase, the indicator disappearing, and the inability to aim. Plus, the player that catches the object has no idea they have it! There is no audio indication nor does the character seem to react. As such, the puzzle sections relied too heavily on non-logical solutions and random chance.

The Running Portion:

The first running section gave me the impression that I would hate the game. While I expected swinging weapons, spikes coming through the ground, and being chased by mummies, I was not expecting the difficulty level to be ramped up at the very beginning. AmunRun's first running section has players fleeing from a boulder, but running and jumping through spikes and pendulums. After getting to the next section, players have to run back up and around, which is particularly stressful because a giant boulder moves toward you. Did I mention this is THE FIRST RUNNING SECTION? Right. Anyways, due to the difficulty level, I hated the idea of continuing the game because I died many times. What's worse is that progression only occurs if both players make it far enough to trigger the next checkpoint. Yay! (Not.)

That aside, what bothered me most about these sections stemmed from game issues like proximity to spikes that automatically kill players. Other times, players could be close to an object that should kill them, but doesn't. Sometimes, key inputs wouldn't register, making entire runs particularly useless. Plus, both players can get stuck if they are too far behind the other. Not only is there a restriction on movement speed, but they are hindered by the other player's speed! And with the inability to determine closeness to traps or to the other player, I threw in the towel on multiple occasions. But if the individual portions weren't frustrating enough, there were a number of issues that my partner and I came across that tanked the entire experience.

Game Issues:

The Amulet of AmunRun is a fully released game that has been out since April. As such, I expected that gameplay would be smooth and polished in some capacity. Unfortunately, that expectation was much higher than deserved. AmunRun has a multitude of issues that make the game almost unplayable, or at the very least difficult to enjoy. Below is a list of issues that my partner and I found during gameplay, separated into sections.

UI Issues:

     The menu options are limited. Among the missing features are: player join buttons that actually work, sensitivity speed options, lack of zoom functions, no options to optimize the graphics, ways to change keybindings, and no difficulty toggle.

     In order to join your partner, you must use the option through Steam. The in-game function doesn't work.

     Being a game that relies on speed and reaction time, the lack of sensitivity features is a detriment to gameplay.

     Since the graphics style of the game is almost polygonal and cartoonish, I noticed that several symbols are small or faded. This is why a zoom feature would be integral to the game. There are multiple puzzles that have tiny symbols that are impossible to see. Besides, not only does this add to the difficulty level of the game, but it also doesn't bode well for player accessibility either!

     Steam users comment about the keybindings automatically changing. Keybinds cannot be changed nor reverted by the players. If the game is so badly put together that the basic controls change, then there are deeper issues.

     Amulet of AmunRun doesn't have a difficulty toggle. In fact, I expected the difficulty level to gradually increase, but I was wrong. Players begin at Mission Difficult level without any options. While I may not be the most versed in this genre, I gave it a fair shot. I found there were simply too many issues to aggravate both my partner and I. In my opinion, the lack of adaptability in a non-souls-like game is just bad form.

     Another absent feature is a ping function. My partner and I resorted to shooting at objects to explain what we were thinking. Being able to point out clues with a ping would be a serious boon to the game.

Puzzle Issues:

     The first puzzle requires players to arrange papers on a corkboard that contain clues to the puzzle's solution. Unfortunately, aligning objects in any way is tough, especially in timed sections. This is neither fun nor useful. There are countless puzzle games that are difficult because of complex solutions, not because of a lack of gameplay options. In my opinion, these puzzles are difficult due to a lack of information and not because they are actually challenging.

     While several of the puzzles have some indicators as to their solutions, it is challenging to solve many of them. Each puzzle room has multiple stages that require solving, and there is no real way to determine which clues correspond to them. In fact, the only saving grace is the hint system, which gives players some semblance of direction. We used this feature to death and this is the only game that either of us has RELIED HEAVILY on hints. That said, the hallway with the switches we brute-forced, and the spike maze we cheated to progress.

     As a cooperative game, Amulet of AmunRun is not playable in a single-player mode. The moment one player dies, both must restart. While not uncommon, there are several sections that cannot be completed by both players. One such area is after the hallway of levers. There are spears that only one player can cross. Also, during the mummy chase, only one player can solve the puzzle. As in, one player is bored running around while the other tries to figure out the solutions.

Glitches and Bugs:

The Amulet of AmunRun contains several glitches and bugs. Puzzles are easily glitched which is the easiest way to progress without brute-forcing them. For example, during the boulder chase section, my partner and I found a glitch where I was untouchable. Thus, only he had to do the running. At the end of that puzzle, players had to put statues in specific spots to get through the door. The boulder MAGICALLY SPAWNS at the end while you both appear inside the room. But, I was still behind the boulder and he should have been killed by it? I've no idea what happened there.

In the mummy room, it was possible to pick up objects after a section was complete. After failing to solve the next part, the puzzle resets and the glitched object remains in your hands. The first problem is that objects remain in the player's hands. The second problem is that players don't know if they catch the Ankh. I couldn't see it in my hands and I died as a result. In order to fix this issue, my partner and I had to reload back to the menu.

Also in the mummy room, even when using the 'restart challenge', the jars don't reset! This is a particularly frustrating issue as one of the later puzzles requires another jar to get through the maze. If for some reason players died in this section, the jar doesn't reset and also requires restarting from the main menu.

My last point in this section is the shitty design and issues in the spike maze area. Firstly, this entire section is inconsistent. In order to pass it, players rely SOLELY on RNG. Secondly, even though the game requires you to bring the Ankh, it doesn't cause your death like in every other area prior. Thus, the thing can stay on the ground and will reappear at each checkpoint regardless of bringing it along. (As in, if you want to cheat the system, this is one location you can leave the blasted thing behind).

Thirdly, the lever to activate the puzzle doesn't always activate or it RANDOMLY RESETS ITSELF! Fourthly, the spike maze can be completely avoided by walking through one area! To do otherwise would require HUNDREDS of deaths because THERE IS NO PATTERN to the puzzle! You both have to HOPE the game will produce a safe path and in my opinion, this is a massive disservice to players. The inclusion of a puzzle like this is what we call a dick move.

Thank goodness only one player needs to get to the end in order to complete that particular section but by that point, my partner and I gave up on the game.

Final Thoughts

I really wanted to enjoy this game, but I just couldn't do it. There are too many issues littered throughout that make it difficult, if not impossible, to enjoy. It's not even the challenge level or specific aspects that destroy the experience, it's inconsistent inputs, multiple bugs, and bad game design that kills AmunRun. Not only were my partner and I able to exploit multiple sections, but we encountered several problems that pad the experience. And as a person who doesn't like runners or insanely difficult games, I'd sooner die repeatedly in Elden Ring (which I have NO interest in playing) than finish this game.


The Amulet of AmunRun could have been a fantastic escape room game, but unfortunately, it fails. The game is a buggy mess, player inputs are inconsistent, the puzzles seem to rely on RNG, and many of the problem-solving locations lack information which forces players to guess the answers.

Aside from the overall graphical style and general concept of the game, there is nothing good about this title. I don't recommend purchasing this game. It had the potential to be a challenging and fun experience but fails spectacularly.

Score: 4 / 10


Dungeon Defenders: Awakened Review

Dungeon Defenders: Awakened by developer and publisher Chromatic GamesSony PlayStation 4 review written by Pierre-Yves with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes. 

If there's one title that could be considered a guilty pleasure at this point, it would be Chromatic Games' Dungeon Defenders series. Having been playing since the original launch, having covered the launch of the sequel and of Awakened's own relaunch, this tower defense action RPG has made its way back over to the consoles with some new content.

The concept of Dungeon Defenders way back when was a crazy one. Mixing in a tower defense style with action RPG elements meant that you were no longer simply in the passenger seat. Now, you had a front row seat to setting up your defenses and then aiding them as waves of monsters are unleashed with one goal. To destroy your crystals.

To defend your crystals, you'll have access to several characters which also act as classes with different attacks, special abilities and defense types. What I’ve always enjoyed with the character class selection is that there is something for everyone. Want to be up close and tanky? Squire is for you. Want to be ranged while having towers? Apprentice. Ranged and something a bit more flashy with exploding traps? Huntress. Up close and personal but on your own terms while slowing down enemies with an aura? The Monk has your back. Adding in the other characters such as the Dryad Warden, the Android Series EV-A Unit and the Dark Elf Rogue, there’s more choice and variety to be had.

The inclusion of these classes is something that I thought had been missing when Dungeon Defenders Awakened had first launched since the Series EV had been an original DLC character alongside a Barbarian that I would still love to see make a return alongside a Jester and Summoner. All together though, these characters can create some interesting defense combinations whether playing by yourself, as you can now have a hero deck of 6, or with others and concentrating all of your earned experience on one specific hero.

Looking back over my Dungeon Defenders: Awakened review for the PC, there are still some issues that haven’t yet been addressed that I wonder if they will be at this point. Playing with a controller has become much smoother than it was but the inventory was still a mess, if not worse with a controller as there was no select all option. Furthermore, the tavern is still bare and honestly I wonder why it’s being used since there are still no merchants or pet venders for certain cosmetics that existed in the original version all those years ago.

In terms of content, there are plenty of different modes to challenge yourself and others with. From the default campaign over survival which pits you against ever increasing difficult waves, challenges where you have to win through specific rule sets, pure strategy that you have to sit back and hope your traps do the trick and then a mixed mode to swap everything up a bit survival style. There are tons of maps and depending on the difficulty, hours upon hours of tower defense fun as a normal stage can go for 10-20 minutes depending on the spawn time so it makes it easy to do a few in between other gaming or waiting for your party to be ready.

And that’s really it at this point in time though I was happy to see some of the updates that have been done since the last time I dove into Eternia in order to defend the world’s crystals. Better yet, there is also more upcoming content so it looks like Dungeon Defenders Awakened is here to stay for a while. I just hope that some of the items listed above could be addressed to make certain elements feel more lively and useful because the original tavern was definitely an adventurer’s go to for everything.


Overall though, Dungeon Defenders Awakened for the consoles was enjoyable enough on the big screen and brings plenty of Tower Defense goodness for console players as it is also available on the Nintendo Switch and Microsoft’s Xbox.

Score: 7.5 / 10


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