Broken Lines

Broken Lines by developer PortaPlay and publisher—Sony PlayStation 5 review written by Pierre-Yves with a copy provided by the publisher.

Taken from Broken Lines’ website as it says it best, "Broken Lines is a story-driven tactical RPG about a small and disorganized squad who are stranded behind enemy lines during WWII." Put in charge of this squad of eight, your decisions will affect everything. From the interpersonal relationships to whether your members live or die on the battlefield, their lives are in your hands.

Broken Lines is one of those titles that feels entirely familiar while bringing about a rather unique experience. Blending both real time and turn-based strategy… both? Both. This helps get settled in quickly for fans of either while still keeping some surprises in store over the course of the adventure.

While I'll get more to the camp interface shortly, once your squad is ready to go, they are deployed onto a mission map with a primary objective point. Is that objective the entire mission? Or will reaching that point trigger a checkpoint for something else? Only by diving in and finding out will you really know.

To get to these goals, things will start in a turn-based affair. Each unit can be selected independently from one another and you start to queue up actions on each member's timeline. Under each action you'll see the amount of seconds that are required which is going to be very important once you trigger everything to start moving in real time.

Not unlike Dungeons & Dragons where each turn is six seconds, in Broken Lines a turn is eight. During this real time segment, the only thing you can do is watch. Whether you've asked your units to move carefully, normally, sprint or specifically use an ability, such as suppressing fire, throwing a grenade, using a health pack or using bandages, you can only watch until the turn is over. Once the turn is over, you can allow them to continue your previous set of actions or do it all over again.

The cases in which you might want to modify your orders are if enemies show up as your troops move forward which will bring that original eight seconds to a halt. This is good as it allows you to actually modify your actions instead of potentially walking into an ambush. While it was a little odd at first, late game this can easily save your squad from certain annihilation.

One of the more interesting aspects in Broken Line's turn-based into real time strategy is that you don't need to worry about telling your units to take aim and fire. Instead, the second that an enemy is within weapon range, your units will automatically open fire as long as they are in a position to. This helps blend into your strategy as you can easily move in and storm a position if you're currently at a disadvantage. The opposite could also happen in which it backfires and your units are dropped to the ground.

Here is the tricky part. If your units go down you do have an opportunity to pick them back up, but, if they go down a second time they are dead. Broken Lines deals with permadeath and with a squad of eight. You can go from being in a fighting shape to a rough shape rather quickly. So if a squad member does go down but you do get them back up they are going to have to deal with an injury which is where camp management is going to be important.

The camp interface is actually pretty simple. You have your squad of eight lined up from left to right, and from there you can listen to what each member has to say, if there's anything to say, and adjust their equipment and special abilities or perks. While you're in here though, you're going to want to pay close attention to two things. The first? Are there any injuries? If yes? You don't want to be deploying them on the next mission as any injuries will be an automatic death sentence if they fall in combat as there is no chance to pick them back up.

The second thing you're going to want to pay attention to is each unit's composure and how it relates to the squad's overall composure. The higher the composure the better the performance in battle. The lower the composure, the more easily they can get stressed and then potentially try to run away in the middle of combat, throwing them right into enemy fire. Clearly not something that you want to happen. The lining here though, while not silver, is that if you bring a unit with lower composure into a mission and the mission ends up going well? It’ll only improve! The catch? You need to make sure to do your mission in one go.

Because of its more harsh approach with permadeath AND running off on nothing more than an autosave making all decisions “final”, Broken Lines does offer you chances to try again and get it right. At any point in time, you'll have the ability to restart a mission from the beginning, restart from a checkpoint, or even restart from the camp interface if your team composition and loadout just isn’t working. In any of these cases, composure will take a hit on every member involved so you have to weigh that against restarting because things haven't gone according to plan, or you need to restart because several members both fell and died in battle.

Finally, the camp interface allows for extra in-between moments that will affect your squads interpersonal relations and how well they bond together. In some of these cases, the moments are on autopilot meaning the outcome will be what it'll be. In others, the outcome comes down to your choice of whose point of view you want to support. Do you try diplomacy? Do you do the rational thing? Or do you say to hell with it and go with the wild idea? In any of these cases there will be some form of consequence, or potentially a reward, and the result will affect you if your squad members get along better or hate each other affecting how they deal in the field beside one another.

All of these elements end up working rather well together. Starting from the camp interface with equipment loadouts of guns, medical supplies and extra firepower to actually deploying on the field, I think not being able to “backtrack” on your decisions made it work all the better. It’s a low key stress that settles in as you want everyone to make it out alive, but at the same time, it may not happen and you’ll have to live with that. Only sometimes this may happen.

So on a final note, I also appreciated that there are several save files that can be created to try carving out different paths without having to necessarily restart the save file that you are in. Some points in the story may only have one path forward but there is often a choice as to whether you want to go to point A, B, and sometimes even point C. Each of these has its own consequences and, as there’s no going back, you’ll get to see the result of these choices as the adventure comes to a close. Assuming you made it that far.


So overall, I really enjoyed my time with PortaPlay and’s Broken Lines. The gameplay has a good balance of strategy while your squad is in the field over how you manage the issues back in camp. With a good deal of replayability between the different paths and endings, Broken Lines can easily keep both lovers of turn-based and real time strategy busy for a while!

Score: 8 / 10


Adventure Academia: The Fractured Continent

Adventure Academia: The Fractured Continent by developer Acquire and publisher PQube—Sony PlayStation 4 review written by Richard with a copy provided by the publisher.

Adventure Academia: The Fractured Continent is an interesting active strategy RPG set in the world from Class of Heroes. Taking cues from both traditional turn based strategy games while implementing them in a more real-time fashion. Will this be enough for you to unite the continent of Pedra, or will the system be as fractured as the continent? It's time to find out.

Adventure Academia follows the story of Alex, a young boy who is the son of the principal of the local school, who's dad has disappeared on an adventure. One day he inherits the Ruler Orb, a sort of staff that allows him to command units as if he were playing a board game. Unfortunately, the previous owner was his father, which means something bad has happened to him! Hence Alex sets off with his childhood friend Citrin and the shut-in researcher who is supposed to be his advisor Lazuli in order to figure out what happened to his father. Unfortunately for everyone involved, strange things are happening on the continent, and it's up to you to solve the mysteries.

Adventure Academia has a pretty unique system in place, one that I found rather enjoyable for the most part. Or at least fresh enough to keep me entertained. The game story is told in pre and post battle snippets and interactions that will happen everytime you choose a stage. Beating a stage unlocks the next subsequent one. A pretty simple setup, with only a few side missions here and there. Note however that the story will play every time you do a stage, not just the first time. Either way, once you begin a stage, you will usually be given the task of "Destroy the target", which is generally a crystal or specific unit, but there are a few bosses.

In combat you have a square grid-based map, with the only default unit being Alex. If you've played any grid-based tactics games, then you will probably realize rather fast that Alex acts as a sort of mobile base camp. Alex can summon units from his party roster of 6 companions to drop onto the field, although not all at once to start.

See, Alex can only drop two units to start, but can be "ranked up" in order to drop more. Alex will generate MP, which is a bit of a global resource for Adventure Academia, where you can use MP to increase your rank when you build up enough, or to cast spells or special actions with. When you rank up a unit, they will get an increase in stats. For Alex, this will increase his maximum MP value, MP generation rate, and number of units that can be set. At Rank 5 you will max out. Other units Rank up similarly, and will gain access to their special skill at Rank 1, which is 5 MP as the baseline.

Something interesting to note is that Alex himself cannot attack. He can move around, be attacked, and use a special buff/healing skill, but otherwise doesn't offer much. What he can do is move and command units. While on a battle map, any time you set a location for Alex to travel to, or pick up/set down a unit, the game will "pause" while you are making a decision. Once the units are down and your location determined, your units will follow Alex along towards his goal, attacking any enemies that come within range on their own. If you have enough MP, you can also get your units to use their specialty skills. Be careful though, as if you take too long or if Alex dies, you lose the stage.

Thankfully, death is not the end. Well, not really. For Alex, it means restarting the stage. For any other unit however, they will simply be unavailable for a period of time and probably lose one Rank, but then you can throw them right back into the action again. In my experience, the time factor isn't much of a concern on story stages, and is only remotely worrying on some of the side quest stages, even if you spend the first few minutes just ranking up Alex and your units. Thankfully the developer included a "speed up time" button, which speeds up the clock, but also hastens all units. You can toggle this on or off at will. This is really handy if you're looking for treasure chests in stages as well, as it lets you zoom around the stage without it being too much of a slog.

As you move around the map, you can grab units from anywhere on the field, but can only place them within a set range from Alex by pinching them and moving them around. This allows for some interesting strategy, as you can wander into an area after setting your units on a group of enemies, then have them moved over to you, or you can box in an enemy with some of your units. Definitely a neat idea. Well, as long as the AI is functioning. See, you don't actually give your units any instructions. You just plop them down and expect them to do what they need to.

While generally this works fine, I did have a few issues with some of my units. For whatever reason, one of my front line units always headed straight behind Alex, away from the action. Not exactly useful in his role, unless I literally dropped him almost right next to the enemies. Another back line unit never engaged unless I forced them too. On the opposite end of the spectrum, my Diabolos unit, a mage-like type, always ran headfirst into the combat. While that...worked sort of, they are a little less healthy than the frontline units, so that could be a little annoying.

So, let's talk about the units you can summon. Each unit has a species, gender, and character traits, as well as unique classes to that species. All units start out as freshman, but will eventually be able to change classes to higher rated options. For example, a human can go through Freshman > Swordsman > Samurai > Sovereign in order of unlocking. Each class has a different unique ability, as well as unit abilities that apply to that unit regardless of current class once unlocked. Unit abilities, and the first time changing to a new class, requires SP which you can earn from clearing stages. You will also earn exp for your units other than Alex, money, and equipment from clearing stages.

Equipment is rather interesting in Adventure Academia. You basically have four stats on your battle units: health, power, action speed, and movement speed. Equipment can either be bought at the store, or found in stages either by clearing them or by opening chests. Equipment earned in a stage has a chance to have an added ability to it, such as a Power boost, that has multiple possible tiers to it. Good luck getting any specifics though, as the "info" about the skill can be very vague.

For instance, the GRD. Power+ skill says "Tier1 GRD PWR boost". Super useful that. If you didn't know what GRD (guard, I think) is, well too bad I guess? The abilities attached to equipment is interesting though, as it means you may favor a lower ranking piece over a higher ranking piece if the skill is good enough. Keep in mind that the units also have levels, and leveling up will also increase your stats.

If you think you've got a nice reserve of cash floating around, you can also head on over to the Lab, where you can enhance equipment up to +9 by shelling out some cash. This only upgrades whatever the basic equipment stat is though, so if you're upgrading a weapon you get Power, not Health for example, regardless of attached skill. By the way, you better remember this stuff either now, or if you play the game when it tells you, because there isn't anywhere you can check the instructions out again. Seriously.

So, let's mention two more gameplay elements before we move into the visual/audio aspects. First up, stages may have hidden switches. These hidden switches become noticeable either by looking at different coloured tiles on the map, or when Alex comes within one panel range of them. The game says you activate them by stepping on them, but what it means is by dropping a unit on them. It's actually a pretty interesting mechanic for exploring and expanding maps.

The second thing I need to mention is the difficulty curve. Or more like, difficulty EKG. You'll notice that each stage has a level suggestion, where bosses and "academy fight" stages have a big jump, and then the difficulty goes back down again. Even when the level suggestion starts going up after these fights, the normal stages still feel a lot easier. When some of the bosses can 2-hit Alex and constantly target him? It's an absolute pain.

On the plus side, the artstyle is rather cute. While the story mode is done in a standard "storyboard JRPG anime cutout" style, in battle you have a more board game like style to the art, where all the units are symbolized with little cardboard drawings on little plastic stands. It really does make it feel really boardgame like. The soundtrack is pretty decent as well, although none of the tracks really make me want to take the game seriously. Coupled with the rather corny and not overly interesting storyline though, this actually makes it seem a lot better, so a positive there.

As a bit of a wrap-up, I would like to mention how incredibly short the game is. Seriously though, there aren't a lot of main stages, and there are few bonus stages. Each stage will take probably somewhere between 3 to 10 minutes to beat, so you aren't looking at anything too lengthy, even if you take time out to over level your units. On the positive side, this means the game doesn't really overstay its welcome. Yeah, it does give some frustration that it really shouldn't.


Overall, Adventure Academia: The Fractured Continent is a bit of a fractured game itself. With a storyline that isn't particularly gripping, a lack of main content, some frustrating game design choices, and vague instructions and descriptions of how things work at some points, I doubt this title is making any headlines.

That being said, I did actually rather enjoy my time with it. Yes, it definitely could've been a lot better, but it also isn't the worst thing I've ever seen. If you want a fresh take on the turn based tactics, maybe you'll also get some enjoyment here.

Score: 6.5 / 10


Knights of Honor II: Sovereign

Knights of Honor II: Sovereign by Black Sea Games and published by THQ NordicPC (Steam) review written by Robert with a copy provided by the publisher.

Knights of Honor II: Sovereign is touted as being an "accessible grand strategy" and though the approach to a real-time grand strategy may not be as detailed as other titles in the genre, Knight of Honor II: Sovereign is an admirable attempt at broadening the genre's reach. Where it falls short of being a more mainstream title are in its performance optimization and if you're a fan of the first game, you'll find that there is very little here that is different from its 17-year-old predecessor, Knights of Honor.

This does not inherently make Knights of Honor II: Sovereign a bad title, but rather a mismatch in purpose; it's no secret that many feel Black Sea Games' latest and greatest should have instead been released as Knights of Honor: Remastered. However, if you skip past the more problematic gameplay features which are optimized poorly, namely the "RTS-like" battles, by taking advantage of the incredibly fair auto-resolve function, then Knights of Honor II: Sovereign may have enough here to warrant picking it up on a Steam Sale after optimization (or removal) of the RTS combat. Let's dive in to the experiences that I had in my time with Knights of Honor II: Sovereign.

I have long been a fan of the original Knights of Honor, though I didn't become familiar with the franchise until THQ Nordic had been revived back a few years (2016-2017). Picking up the original KoH on a random binge of strategy games, I found the title enjoyable enough and a good diversion away from more mainstream titles like Crusader Kings II, the Total War franchise, and my personal favorite, Stellaris. Fast-forward a few years and Knights of Honor II: Sovereign was announced and I kept a keen eye on the various dev diaries ( put out by Black Sea Games throughout the course of its development.

When KoH II released the first week of December, I eagerly dove into it. The initial presentation is absolutely fantastic- a clean and suitably medieval UI, a detailed and interesting world map, AI that more often than not, sets in on wars against you and your allies within minutes of starting a new game, and essentially forces you to think fast on your feet. Where KoH II falls apart is in its RTS battles. A basic rock-paper-scissors style of combat (spearmen are good at fighting cavalry, cavalry is good at sword infantry, etc.) with a few different victory conditions. Some battles can be won by capturing and holding the victory point or destroy the enemy's general. While good in theory, RTS battles are horrendously optimized and bring my Ryzen 9 5900x, RTX 2080 Super, 64 GB RAM, and Samsung NVMe drives to it's knees.

It became bad enough that I eventually just began auto-resolving combat and as of the writing of this review, something that I'd recommend most players to do; while it certainly caused a number of settlements / cities to be lost where they might've been won with manual control, but playing the RTS battles that dip into the single-digit framerates just ... isn't fun. An additional downside to auto-resolving is that you might not be able to see the various unique units (some, not all, provinces have unique units), however, it's my opinion that they aren't varied enough to put up with the abysmal performance that breaks any form of immersion you might be feeling.

That leads to my next topic ... is Knights of Honor II: Sovereign fun? This is a difficult question to answer- I myself prefer the more methodical, slow-paced and diplomatically-tactical gameplay that you'll find in the bigger cousins of Black Sea Games' latest release. It may be related to always (and I mean ALWAYS) starting a game on the back foot. For instance my first five games that I played ranging from Scotland to Swabia and everything in between. This resulted in war being declared on me in as little are 40 seconds after loading- then the invasions start, and while everyone's unit roster is low-tier at the start, the constant barrage of battles is tiring at best, intolerable at its worst.

The upside to this is that if you do manage to create some alliances and call on allies for assistance, and you survive (most often, I did not), then it can be rewarding as hell ... but for me, that's a big "if". It's less that the game is "hard" and more that there's something of an avalanche effect that if you don't make it through the first few minutes (literally) then you'll be on your heels for the foreseeable future. Fortunately, though, if you do make it through, then Knights of Honor II is exceptionally well-made and is rather enjoyable. For those that have played Crusader Kings, Knights of Honor II feels a lot like it with strong (but more approachable) Trade and, later, Diplomacy. Where KoH II edges out beyond Crusader Kings (or its cousins like Europa Universalis or Panzer General) is that it truly is more accessible than its competitors. Even with the numerous (and occasionally frustrating) losses, even a novice grand strategy fan can quickly pick up the game and just ... get into the action.

To accompany the clean and incredibly well-made world map, easily understood menus and some of the better emergent gameplay that came out of the Mid-era, is one of the best soundtracks that I've heard in some time (right up there next to Warhammer 40K: Darktide). Composed by Audinity's Robin Birner and Yannick Süß, the Knights of Honor II: Sovereign soundtrack has been a near-constant companion outside of the game- it's thematically appropriate, well-written, and phenomenally recorded- hell, it has 40+ tracks! While I'm not one to typically tout DLC unless it's story/gameplay oriented, I highly recommend picking up the soundtrack (see here)as it's one of the better OSTs to come out in a few years.

A welcome companion to the stunning soundtrack is the little things that KoH II does differently- for example, your character has a job class such as Merchant, Spy, Marshall, and a few others that help you direct how you'll manage your campaign. In true T1ckles fashion, I started off with a Marshall and would be wafflestomped into oblivion. Once I tired of the poor performance, I restarted as a Merchant and a Diplomat and I found that the Diplomat truly is the "best" experience. The reason being is that it gives you a bit of an edge and you'll be able to essentially sue for peace and have greater success, as opposed to the buffoonery of the Marshall or Spy "classes". I'm not sure I've seen another grand strategy title create a focal point in your Knight/King/Player-character. It's a welcome change and can dynamically change how it plays.


Black Sea Games' Knights of Honor II: Sovereign is a fun, if occasionally tedious real-time grand strategy that feels far less like a sequel and more like a refresh of its 17-year-old predecessor. This isn't inherently a bad thing, though for those of us that have played Knights of Honor, KoH II still succeeds in making grand strategy accessible to an entirely new generation of players.

Combining rich graphics, beautiful flavor text, surprisingly-immersive gameplay, and an absolutely stunning soundtrack, Knights of Honor II: Sovereign, with some optimization, can stand strong on it's own in a genre dominated almost exclusively by Paradox and Slytherine- that's a huge accolade and Black Sea Games should be proud of what Knights of Honor II: Sovereign brings to the table.

I would score Knights of Honor II: Sovereign an 8.5 / 10


Firefighting Simulator – The Squad

Firefighting Simulator – The Squad by developer Chronos Unterhaltungssoftware and publisher astragon Entertainment—Sony PlayStation 5 review written by Jim with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

I have always liked firefighters and have been playing games about them since I played the original Emergency: Fighters for Life game that was released way back in 1998 for PC. Since then I have played just about anything that has to do with firefighting and firefighters from the newer Emergency games to platformers like Firegirl. My favorite has always been Firefighter FD 18 for the PS2 mainly because I liked the story in it. So needless to say I am a fan of firefighters

Firefighting Simulator – The Squad is mostly for those looking for coop with some buddies but it can be played alone with an AI-controlled squad of three plus yourself. I mostly played this single-player mode but I did also try out the online coop with some random people.

Starting you play an introduction level that helps so you how to play once that level is done you are brought to a world map where you can pick a mission to do. I picked training so I could learn how to play better. Once I completed all of the training I jumped into a mission. After selecting a mission you are asked if you want to play online, alone with AI, or with friends in a private game. You also get to pick what kind of fire truck you want to use. At first, you can only pick one, but as you beat levels and gain experience and level up you can unlock some new trucks. These are a ladder truck, and another that I’m not sure what they are called but can shoot water out of them. You also get to pick if you want to deploy at the scene or if you want to drive to the scene yourself.

For every mission I played, I picked to drive myself as you get more experience for arriving fast. There is where I ran into a few small problems. The first was the graphics. As you drive there is a lot of pop-in with objects coming into view. Trees, buildings, cars, and other things all pop in while driving and it can be distracting. I also had cars disappear in front of me for no reason. The second thing was sometimes it took me longer to drive to the fires than it does to put them out.

These are more apparent in special missions called walk-in missions where the only truck you can pick are two walk-in vehicles. This means you can not hook them up to fire hydrants but you have to use fire extinguishers. After you beat a level you get experience points that will level you up unlocking more trucks and levels. Once you reach the max level though there doesn’t seem to be any reason to revisit any of the levels.

There are a decent amount of missions to be had in this game most of them take place in houses. There are a few that are in warehouses and restaurants and then a few special ones. Some of the warehouses and restaurants had the same layout as each other which does feel a little lazy but luckily this only happens a few times. The game does look pretty good when at these fires from some electrical sparks. The fire looks real and the hose you and your team carry around never disappears on the ground. Smoke was one of the things the game does well. You won’t be able to see well unless you crouch or you can vent buildings by breaking or opening windows so you can see better while inside a burning building.

One thing I didn’t get was the game telling you how important it was to find victims first, but even if you don’t and they are right in the middle of a fire they will never get hurt or die. Another issue I have was there are no car accidents only fires meaning you won’t get to use the jaws of life. Putting out fires in this game is pretty easy as little icons appear on the screen as you try to put them out. Most of the time this works fine other times it seems you have to aim just right. There are also two kinds of fires, normal fires, and grease / chemical fires. Normal fires can be put out with a hose and water, and grease / chemical fires have to be put out with a fire extinguisher or it will start more fires. Kind of like real life they say never put water on a grease fire.

There are other tools in the game though like a saw to cut locks, a pry tool to open locked doors, an ax to cut open doors, and fire extinguishers. Some of the things in the game are somewhat realistic, like needing to attach a supple hose to the truck and then to a hydrant. You can turn a setting on so that the AI does this automatically at the beginning of a level or if you want to do it manually. Then you have to attach an attack hose to the truck and then attach a nozzle to the hose before you can use it. Another thing that I liked that could have easily been overlooked by the devs was that you need to put out the outriggers before you can use a ladder on a truck. Something that real firefighters have to do.

Now another problem I had with the game was that the AI squad mates are dumb. You can tell them to grab a fire extinguisher but they won’t use it they will just hold it and stand by you. Sometimes when you tell them to put out a fire, and they will go to the area where you tell them, but they will just stand there. This makes it playing single-player more frustrating than needed if only some more time was spent on the AI. When the AI is doing what they should be doing a level can go smoothly, but this is rare.

Now playing coop online is fun even if you play with random people online as I did. It was fun and smooth but there are not always players online and if the host decides to drive to the scene the other three players just sit there waiting. Sometimes it can take five or more minutes to drive to a fire. I do wish there was split screen coop for the game though. I really would have liked to play with some of my family.

One last issue I had with the game was the music. It didn’t always fit the game or what you were doing. If you are racing to a fire or even putting out fires, one song that plays sounds classical and it feels more like a song that should be playing in an elevator or a hospital waiting room.


Overall Firefighting Simulator – The Squad is a decent firefighter game and one of the better ones on the market today. It’s not perfect but it can be fun to play with friends online. And if they keep updating the game, they could add more levels as there is a decent amount, but still could use more. Also, make the AI better, and maybe add car accidents. This could be a really good game, but as it stands it is decent but not as great as it could be. I do wish there was some kind of story with the game though.

Other than the issues stated I still did enjoy this game. It could be a decent game to show younger players what it’s like to be a firefighter.

Score: 7 / 10


The Crackpet Show

The Crackpet Show by developer Vixa Games and publishers Ravenage Games, Ripples Asia Venture—Nintendo Switch review written by Richard with a copy provided by the publisher.

The Crackpet Show is a roguelite shoot ’em up to the theme of post-apocalyptic mutated animals. A game where you risk your life for TV ratings while fighting for your life. Will you survive and earn your place amongst the rich and famous, or be doomed to obscurity?

The premise of The Crackpet Show is essentially a post-apocalyptic setting where mutated animals have become the norm. For whatever reason, you have decided to become a contestant on the world’s most violent TV show. Grab a gun, a special item, and fight your way through other mutated animals and creatures in order to win over the audience and become super famous! And also probably super dead as well.

The gameplay for Crackpet Show is roughly what you’d expect from a roguelite shooter, although it draws from a few different categories to help keep it going. Your goal is to make it through a series of rooms, each time beating all the enemies in each room you go through, in order to get to the end and beat the boss. You have a gun, an item, and a dodge roll. Enemies will spawn in and you need to dispatch them. Your primary weapon has infinite ammo, but your items are limited use. As you run around avoiding enemy attacks, you’ll also probably notice that you stop moving to fire, an interesting design choice. Thankfully the dodge roll is decently lenient.

Each room you beat will allow you to choose the next room you continue to, as long as it’s on the same path moving forward. Some rooms provide for you upon clearing, or allow you to shop for new weapons, health, or perks. Perks will most likely be earned in rooms that give you a perk upon clearing out the enemies. You can also get new weapons and items in a similar way. Unfortunately for you, you’ll probably still die. Good news though! This isn’t the end.

When you die, the audience will give you a rating in the form of likes, which also acts as the in-round currency at the shop. Get enough likes and you are awarded with points you can use between rounds. If you manage to beat a boss, you can also collect trophies and costume tickets, which can also be redeemed between rounds. Let’s start with the points from your likes first. As you go through rounds, you will find new weapons, items, and perks. As you get further along however, these just aren’t gonna cut it. Fortunately for you, whenever you’re in the main hub area before a round, you can cash in your points to choose between one of two randomly selected weapons/items/perks to upgrade.

Trophies work in a sort of similar manner. You can exchange them for permanent bonuses that you can progressively unlock. This could be less health on bosses, heart drops upon killing enemies, or an extra weapon slot for you. For the costume tickets, once you get a couple, you can spin a wheel and unlock a new outfit for a character.

Now, it is important to note that this is a Roguelite. While you can select one of four basic packages for a run, you’re given a weapon and item to start. Everything else is randomized throughout a stage, including the different path splits. Sometimes you get really good paths and rolls, such as getting a really nice weapon and item right off the bat. And having the rest of the rooms give perks upon completion. Other times you’ll have runs that are mostly rooms with only enemies and nothing else, or you get weapons or items you really would rather not have. Yeah, I did a full stage with just the starter gear once. It was dumb. On the other hand, this means that every run you do feels at least somewhat fresh, so that’s good for keeping your attention.

As you progress through more stages, the path branches will start getting longer and will include minibosses as well. Usually these tend to be toned down bosses you’ve fought before, so hopefully you’re prepared. If not, you could always try bringing a friend! The Crackpet Show supports up to four contestants, so hopefully you actually have friends who can come help out.

In terms of art style, well, if you remember Happy Tree Friends you’ll have a good idea of what to expect. If not, well, just expect a lot more blood and violence than the name would suggest. Your player characters are all cartoony animals, usually looking mentally unstable, and the bosses are generally some form of malformed monstrosity in the guise of an animal. Some are a little more “normal” though.


Overall, The Crackpet Show is a pretty solid roguelite experience. The weapons, items, and perks are all pretty interesting, the gameplay feels smooth. Although there are a few long loading times on the Switch, this only happens when you first start up. There is a variety of bosses, and the multiplayer makes for a good choice to play with friends.

While The Crackpet Show doesn’t really bring anything innovative to the table, it does what it does well. If you’re up for some post-apocalyptic animal mayhem, be sure to check this out.

Score: 8 / 10


Get Cosmic VR Platformer STRAYLIGHT on January 31, 2023


CLEVELAND — December 7, 2022STRAYLIGHT, the first-person cosmic VR platformer built for comfort and speed from developer Dr Bloc, slingshots out of Early Access and into the stars on Tuesday, Jan 31, 2023, for Meta Quest 2, Meta Quest, Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR, Valve Index, and the HTC Vive. Experience dozens of new levels, leaderboard upgrades, achievements, and more uncharted content not included in Early Access. 

Swing through a gorgeous yet deadly obstacle course that evokes the simplicity, difficulty, and fun of old-school platform gaming, but in a way that can only be experienced in VR. Soar, fly, and fling forward into a beautiful cosmic playground while navigating difficult challenges to reach the end of each stage. 

Shoot the STRAYLIGHT’s beams to thrust into the dark void of space, connecting to anchor nodes and propelling over, under, around, and across increasingly rigorous obstacles. Easy-to-learn, yet hard-to-master mechanics offers endless replayability, allowing for opportunities to nail that one, perfect, beautiful run.

Master grappling techniques and hone quick reflexes to reach the top of the leaderboards, or collect cubes to unlock a variety of race-able ‘ghosts’, all accompanied by a completely original progressive synth-wave soundtrack brought to us by award-winning composer, songwriter, and VGM artist Rob Kovacs. Preview the debut single, Void Compass, released on Emperia Records, Bandcamp, and now available on all music streaming services. 

The full 1.0 release aims to bring the classic platforming experience of yesterday into the VR realm. STRAYLIGHT has been developed from the ground up as a comfortable experience that anyone can enjoy, even those brand new to VR or those prone to nausea and vertigo that plagues virtual reality movement.

“Our goal to bring a thrilling, entry-level VR experience is almost here,” said Daniel Seery, Co-Founder, Dr Bloc. “STRAYLIGHT provides an approachable experience for VR newcomers, while also offering a skill ceiling high enough for veterans looking to put their will and dexterity to the test!”

STRAYLIGHT will launch on Meta Quest 2, Meta Quest, Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR, Valve Index, and the HTC Vive on Tuesday, Jan 31, 2023, for $19.99. 

For more information on the game, beam up to the Dr Bloc website, or find the team on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

About Dr Bloc

Dr. BLOC is an eclectic group of filmmakers, coders, musicians, and writers united by their love of VR, classic platforming games, and emergent design. They hail from Cleveland, Ohio.

Article by Susan N.


Tactics Ogre: Reborn Review

Tactics Ogre: Reborn by developer and publisher Square EnixSony PlayStation 5 review written by Nick with a purchased copy.

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Tactics Ogre: Reborn might be an update on an older game, but don’t let that trick you into thinking it’s some outdated relic of a bygone age in gaming. The original game was ahead of its time, and Tactics Ogre: Reborn is far more than just a fresh coat of paint to pretty things up. There is a ton of depth here for strategy RPG fans to lose themselves in, whether you are coming back to the title again or experiencing it for the first time.

For those unaware of the origins of this title, Tactics Ogre: Reborn is a remake of a remake, which seems silly at first glance, but thankfully at both stops along the way, the title has soon additional polish and features along the way. The original Tactics Ogre released on the SNES way back in the mid 90’s, with an updated release in 2010, with the subtitle ‘Let Us Cling Together’. This third and latest iteration is the best yet, with touched up visuals (that still retain their pixelated style), voiced cutscenes, newly recorded music, updated combat (both the system itself, the UI and the AI). So this is far more than a simple port.

For those unfamiliar with any of these versions of the game, know that Tactics Ogre: Reborn a turn-based strategy game with a lot of RPG elements sprinkled in. You have characters on a grid-based field, using melee, ranged and magic attacks to try and beat the other team / complete level objectives. This in turn leads to earned experience, money and items that can then be used to improve the characters in your team. Some of your army is made up of specific created characters, others might be mercenaries you purchase and have the option to rename. Most maps will require a balance of classes and abilities to help deal with what the computer throws at you.

Stages are well-designed, often having elements such as chokepoints, differing elevations and varying topography that impact how well your characters perform. It’s also very tactical. If you have a character who uses a bow to sling arrows around the map, you do need to be mindful of your own troops, since if they are in your line of sight as you shoot, may get inadvertently peg your teammate instead. There’s a heavy emphasis on elements with a rock > paper > scissors type of vulnerability / resistance mechanic. You can put an enemy into a worse spot by putting them between two of your own units. There is a lot of depth here, and Tactics Ogre: Reborn benefits not just from improved AI, but also some streamlined UI and mechanics.

These elements won’t matter to those who haven’t played the prior games, but there’s a nice bit of polish on the more optimized UI. This is a game where you are mostly operating out of menus, so it’s appreciated that some time went into improving this. There were some mechanics that have been cleaned up as well, providing more streamlined gameplay that keeps the action just a smidge brisker, focusing on the ‘fun’ that Tactics Ogre: Reborn provides.

It helps that the writing is solid, and I appreciate the voice acting during major scenes. The presentation is excellent, and it helps with the immersion, especially with regard to the overall narrative. I also appreciate that you have some control over the story and not just the combat. This allows for you to make a handful of important choices along the way, and they have some ramifications on the story, the possible endings and even things such as available classes. I love that sense of ownership over the story (the Bioware games are among my favorites ever, largely due to this element).

Combine this with the various progression elements like earning levels and developing characters into new classes, and there’s a great feedback loop that kept me coming back for more. It is worth noting that as great as this title is for fans of the genre, it’s probably not the cleanest of entries for newcomers. There are simpler examples of the hybrid strategy RPG genre, and there are times that this series still shows its age in a handful of places.

While the graphics are better than the original, the pixelated style might not be for everyone. Ditto the slower pacing of this style of game. Personally, the nuance and micromanagement of building up characters (I took the time to customize the names of my purchased units, for example) and the thoughtful pace of place appeals to me a great deal.


Tactics Ogre: Reborn is a fantastic update of an already excellent game. The strategy of combat combined with the RPG progression elements are incredibly satisfying. Sure, the original game is nearly thirty years old, and there are times that it shows its age, but thoughtful work was put into streamlining the gameplay and improving the interface in ways that reflect more modern times.

Tactics Ogre: Reborn is absolutely worth playing, whether you are revisiting the title or experiencing it for the first time.

Score: 9 / 10


Charming New Apocalypse Builder Zombie Cure Lab is Out Now!


MUNICH — Dec. 7, 2022Zombie Cure Lab, the undead treatment lab builder from the AAA sim vets at Aerosoft and fun-loving problem solvers at Thera Bytes, is starting experiments to save the human race today on PC via Steam Early Access.

Years after an apocalyptic event brought humanity to the brink of extinction, a team of scientists emerges from a subterranean sanctum to put an end to the zombie masses. Lead a team of heroic researchers and build a facility while investigating a cure. Scour environments for raw materials to build an initial facility before upgrading into a base with new structures, lab equipment, and fortifications for defending the area.

By placing traps and capturing attacking zombies, the first move to save humanity is done. Use the captives as test subjects in an attempt to reverse the infection. Each successful treatment brings the team one step closer to the ultimate cure. In addition, the newly created zombie-human hybrids – affectionately called Humbies – present invaluable laborers to assist the scientists and gather much-needed resources.

Manage materials and balance lab upgrades and creature comforts to ensure that the workforce is well-fed, maintained, and comfortable. Build kitchens, recreational facilities, and more while researching sci-fi tech like freeze rays to capture more zombies for testing. Turn the laboratory compound into a well-oiled, undead-curing machine. A motivated Humbie is a safe Humbie, so make sure to keep them happy, lest the workers succumb to their flesh-eating urges.

“Zombies and video games go hand-in-hand,” said Maarten Janello, Product Manager at Aerosoft. “With Zombie Cure Lab, we’ve elected to explore a world overrun by zombies from a hopeful perspective. As you overcome deep strategic challenges and fight back against the infection, you’ll find a colorful and charming experience that’s quite unlike anything else around.”

Zombie Cure Lab is available now via Steam Early Access on PC for $24.99 USD. A limited-time release discount of 20% will make the launch price $19.99 USD. Supported languages include English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, and simplified Chinese. Development of Zombie Cure Lab is financially supported by FFF Bayern and the budgetary funds of the Free State of Bavaria. Analyze Zombie Cure Lab on the official website, follow @ZombieCureLab on Twitter, check out the latest development updates on YouTube, and join the official Discord server.

About Aerosoft - “The Simulation Experts”

With more than 45 employees and more than 15 connected studios worldwide as well as numerous freelance developers, Aerosoft is one of the leading software manufacturers and publishers worldwide in the field of simulation games today and the exclusive publisher of the retail version of the Microsoft Flight Simulator. Thanks to its strong distribution partners in Europe, South America, and the USA, Aerosoft today generates more than 65% of its sales abroad. The high-quality standard of the products is repeatedly proven by international awards and a customer satisfaction rate of over 90%. The Aerosoft online shop currently offers one of the largest PC simulation ranges in the world, with nearly 1000 products.

For more information, visit their official website.

About Thera Bytes

The people of Thera Bytes love games, adore science, and strive to educate and empower gamers at the intersection of both. By addressing serious real-world problems with playful, exploratory solutions, games and health can become intrinsic. To that end, Thera Bytes develops both original game IP and problem-solving applications for the healthcare sector.

Article by Susan N.


Top Video Game Logos Part 5

Continuing on with Part 5 of our Top video game logos Gaming Thoughts series, here are the last ten entries from Hamza for now right after a short re-introduction of what this list contains.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

One thing I believe I should clear before commencing: the title of this list is very vague. Now, a logo by definition is a graphic icon used to identify something, anything, whatever. It is usually the first visual identity you notice of a brand, business, or organization, and the basic types range from symbol, word mark, letter mark, emblem, or any interesting combination of the four.

For the sake of removing a layer of stress from my mind, I decided to take all logo types into account - so expect iconic typography, abstract symbols, aesthetically pleasing pictograms, and the like. This list covers only the logos that represent either a single video game or an entire franchise at large (ex: Grand Theft Auto and Final Fantasy), though there's no "one-game-per-franchise" rule here. Often long running franchises implement tweaks here and there to accommodate with the times and as such, variations have also been taken into account.

So without further ado, here's the next part of the list:

41. Jet Set Radio

Both this game and its sequel, Jet Set Radio Future, have strong graphic design. The first one is rooted in the graffiti punk aesthetic; while the sequel embraces a minimal Y2K-inspired identity.

I specifically love the first because of how full of energy and stylish it is. In the game you traverse through Tokyo on skates, tagging on walls; and the logo fully encompasses the idiosyncratic activities rather well.

42. Mortal Kombat

Dragons are never not cool… and this logo proves just that! Designed by Ed Boon, the series’ creator, the symbol is inspired by the yin-yang symbol and features a stylized Dragon that’s meant to represent the Elder Gods.

43. The Banner Saga

Featuring a wonderfully decorated initial and a banner that you can just feel waving majestically in the wind, this logo is at once an invitation to grand storytelling. I love it when static designs immediately spark animated visuals in your head.

44. Icewind Dale

Black Isle Studios - the game’s developer - had a pretty solid eye for design (the company itself has a solid logo and gets a mention in the next list). Almost every game developed or published by them carry iconic and memorable covers and typography; and from them all Icewind Dale is my all-time favorite. Featuring a stylized illustration of the Great Oak, there’s decades worth of story and ancient lore behind this logo.

45. Shadowrun

This one is a tattoo first and game logo second. Intricate and intimidating, the interesting combination of elements make it work as a prelude to anything: it could be the logo to a bar, a biker gang, or even a criminal syndicate.

46. Wolfenstein 3D

I don't know why, but for some reason there's something darkly anachronistic about it; I mean, after all the Third Reich never got to survive to the 80's. So seeing a typeface reminiscent of Fraktur infused with the typical two-tone gradient style of the so-called greatest decade is strangely comical.

Given the later installments' penchant to provide an alternate reality where the Nazi power won WWII, this logo in hindsight seems to unwittingly adumbrate as to where the franchise would ultimately head.

47. Bodycount

The spiritual successor to Criterion's Black - which has one of my all time favorite covers - both the cover and typography of Bodycount are fantastic. Both games worship arms and ammunition, and that ideology is reflected on the minimalist and striking covers.

The chopped and geometric typography is definitely an improvement over Black.

48. RUNE

RUNE is a very visually impressive game - and it still holds up to this day. The stone-carved and angular logo takes its cues from the runic alphabet; fitting as the game is based on the Norse Mythology.

49. Enter the Gungeon

The pun is genius and the logo is equally just as good. Designed by Cory Schmitz (who also designed the wonderful logo for Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, among others), I love the color palette and composition of the elements. I also love the bullet substituting the U in Gungeon.

50. Final Fantasy IV

Unlike the previous entry which feels gracefully elegant, this one is dramatically Shakespearean and aggressive. Having next to no knowledge about this game, I can only surmise the character is supposed to be the ultimate baddie? Whatever the case may be, the moody color palette and dramatic posture makes it easily the second best FF illustration out there.

Thank you for checking out our latest Top Video Game Logos series and we hope to be back with more next year!


GHOSTBUSTERS: SPIRITS UNLEASHED Launching DLC with Additional Maps, Ghosts, & More!

Estimated Reading Time 4 Min.

Lakewood, Colorado — December 6, 2022Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed, is a 4v1 action-packed video game that launched on Tuesday, October 18, from the asymmetrical multiplayer experts at IllFonic. Today the developer and self-publisher shares some information on its support plan for the title in 2023.

At launch gamers were able to hunt or haunt through five unique maps in Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed. Early in quarter one of 2023, IllFonic will be adding a new map to the mix, The Facility. The Facility closed for good in the late 1980s and has been recently purchased by a private investor group, who have plans to renovate and reopen the facility. Unfortunately for them, it’s being plagued by ghostly activity, and construction crews refuse to enter this haunted health center.

Design Director, Jordan Mathewson shares what makes playing this map unique, “The look that this play space is worn by time gives the players a unique feeling compared to our current job locations [maps]. Construction workers are civilians and have begun a restoration of this facility that has uncovered why it was abandoned in the first place. Varied corridors combined with medium-sized rooms are built stacked up to provide a unique, more intimate gameplay experience with a creepier aesthetic. There will be some interesting ways to utilize these new areas in this map to each player's, Ghostbuster or Ghost, advantage. We will share more soon!”

Beyond the map, the community will be able to play as a new Ghost type - Muncher. Immediately recognizable, this fan-favorite is the most requested Ghost IllFonic has received to date. If you are a haunting enthusiast, then you will not be disappointed to get your hands on this mischievous spirit in game. Not to fear all those who heard the call of the firehouse, you will be getting some new character customization options in DLC #1 too! Players can expect more images and details as we get closer to the date for the first drop in the new year. And remember, IllFonic plans to release similar DLC Drops each quarter of 2023 for free, in addition to the continued Quality of Life patches they are currently supporting Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed with.

For more information please visit and follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

About Sony Pictures Consumer Products

Sony Pictures Consumer Products (SPCP) is the licensing and merchandising division of Sony Pictures’ Motion Picture Group and Sony Pictures Television for Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE), a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sony Group Corporation. SPE's global operations encompass motion picture production, acquisition, and distribution; television production, acquisition, and distribution; television networks; digital content creation and distribution; operation of studio facilities; and development of new entertainment products, services, and technologies. Sony Pictures Television operates dozens of wholly-owned or joint-venture production companies around the world. SPE’s Motion Picture Group production organizations include Columbia Pictures, Screen Gems, TriStar Pictures, 3000 Pictures, Sony Pictures Animation, Stage 6 Films, AFFIRM Films, Sony Pictures International Productions, and Sony Pictures Classics. For additional information, visit

About IllFonic

Founded in 2007, IllFonic (IllFonic, Inc.) is an independent video game developer with studios in Lakewood, Colorado; Tacoma, Washington; and Austin, Texas. Our staff is composed of video game, music, and technology veterans redefining how games are made and marketed. Titles and collaborations include Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed, Arcadegeddon, Predator: Hunting Grounds, Friday the 13th: The Game, Dead Alliance, Star Citizen, Evolve, Armored Warfare, and Nexuiz.

For more information visit

Article by Susan N.


Random posts

Our Streamers

Susan "Jagtress" N.

S.M. Carrière

Louis aka Esefine



JenEricDesigns – Coffee that ships to the US and Canada

JenEricDesigns – Coffee that ships to the US and Canada
Light, Medium and Dark Roast Coffee available.

Blog Archive