Total Reviews: 51
Average Overall Score Given: 6.93529 / 10
Total Forum Posts: 0

Colonists, The

Who knew that I'd enjoy a video game with cute robots that look like Wall-E and EVE's future children? Was that never a thought that occurred to you until now? You're welcome! The Colonists boasts a relaxing simulation strategy game with cute little robots and an updated UI to make your gaming experience “natural and fun on consoles” when compared to it's PC release from a few years ago. I was quite excited to start experiencing The Colonists and had high expectations for the game. I think I've found my home away from home that even us humans could be thrilled with.

The core idea of The Colonists is that you're tasked with settling on a fairly decent sized piece of land. There are tiny robots that are under your command that are synchronized to do whatever you say and work wherever you command to work. There are a few main buildings that can be built and you will need to start your area off on a good foot. You have access to a lumberjack hut, a sawmill, a workshop, a well, some residences, a mine, a vegetable farm or two and more. Each of these buildings have a significant role to play in your land, whether it be creating electrical energy, collecting mining materials, processing trees from the ground into planks or researching to unlock higher level items. Beware though, don't build too much at once or you'll become overwhelmed like I did.

One of the quirks of The Colonists is that you have to manage your resources precisely. Think of it this way; if you have five houses, you need enough wood, planks, stones, food and water. If you add five more, you need to meet the demand of ten houses. I know, you may think 'It's a piece of cake', but it's not. It's a little hard to get the hang of initially, but once you figure out what your balance is you're golden and off to the races. The moral of this long tangent is to build only a little at a time. I have quite a few times built literally everything I could, but the problem I had was that everything took FOREVER to build and resources can only go as fast as they can before I ran out.

There are two main ways you can play The Colonists. You can play the traditional campaign or you can enjoy a freeform sandbox mode. The campaign forces you to play by their rules and follow along. In sandbox mode you control all the settings and play however you wish. I dove a little bit into the sandbox, but to be totally honest I spent a lot of my time in the campaign instead to have that guidance. The flow of the campaign is fantastic though, so I decided to spend the majority of my time there.

From the opening stage it teaches you step by step how to get things done. Level two introduces you to your advisor and your objectives, should you look at your TV like a deer in headlights as little robots zoom all around. The advisor is a nice touch that I'd hope other developers would implement in their titles. Have you ever scratched your head wondering what you were supposed to do now? I mean, you've built a residence... you've built a lumberjack hut... robot dude is zooming around building stuff and the vegetable robot is harvesting food. Now what? The advisor is like your 'Help/Tip section'. It shows you the objectives you should be focusing on. She's basically your answer to 'How do I beat this level?'. I used her a lot during my time with the Colonists.

The graphics are beyond cute and well done. It's bright, happy and lively appearance give The Colonists a fresh, eager edge against most simulation strategy titles such as Sim City or even Tropico 6. The detail on the robots to the buildings is spectacular and I really enjoyed the attention to detail. You can see every robot doing something and interacting with their world which adds life to the experience.

There is something that really bothers me about The Colonists though. For me, even though it's not a deal breaker, I feel like I need to put this out there; I felt gameplay most of the time a lot for my brain to handle as there is a ton going on while playing each level. I'm personally alright with fast paced, but I felt like The Colonists was a bit too much at times. Trying to organize so many buildings, energy levels, food levels and robots made me feel a little anxious, not more relaxed.

The opening level is a perfect entrance into the world of The Colonists as it's slow and takes you step by step. Every level after that I feel like throws you to the wolves, and if you don't come out the leader of the pack you may not enjoy the experience as much as someone who is more able to be quicker and able to handle a little more stress and multitask. I still thoroughly enjoyed The Colonists but would caution those who tend to get overwhelmed easily to take it one level at a time and play in the Sandbox to get used to the pace before jumping into the Campaign head first.

I've really enjoyed every minute of my time with The Colonists. Even with the bump in the road with its pacing, I'm beyond happy with the whole experience. I'd play with these cute little robots any day of the week and developers CodeByFire should pat themselves on the back for the effort put forth. For me, I'm going to board the rocket back to Earth and move onto the next adventure with my adorable robots.

Overall Score: 8.8 / 10 Kill It With Fire

If you told me, of ALL people, that I'd be reviewing a game about killing spiders, I'd tell you that you were insane. Anyone who has even known me for a short period will know that I despise spiders of any size and form. Actually, I don't like any type of bug to be honest, but spiders are on the top of the list. I can tell you that I've never dreamed about killing spiders the way Kill It With Fire makes it so satisfying to do. Having said that, if I did dream about killing spiders, this is the way I'd want them to go. Who knew I'd be so lethal with such harmless items? You can pretty much kill a spider with ANYTHING in Kill It With Fire. The revenge doesn't just stop with fire though. Buckle up buttercup, I'm going to take you into the world filled with spiders and much, much more.

I have to say right off the bat, the beginning level of Kill It With Fire was very informative and helpful to teaching you how gameplay was going to work. I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of information given, as I wasn't really expecting this level of detail in a tutorial. It may be a basic title, but I find that even complex video game titles that take months to years to produce sometimes lack an informative tutorial. At first, you walk into your first “level”. I call them rooms because well, that's what they are. I'm talking an apartment style room complete with a few bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen and a bathroom. You are given a living room and a small hallway at first, nothing too difficult.

You are equipped with nothing more than a clipboard and it's up to you to start killing them spiders. You need to kill a certain amount of spiders to unlock each room and then to exit the level. I found this to be an interesting idea, as it gives the player a reason to keep finding more spiders. The scariest part about Kill It With Fire is that you can find spiders ANYWHERE. When I say anywhere, I mean, the bed, under the bed, behind a bunch of books, in cupboards etc. You name it, you can find a spider there.

Most of all the objects such as the furniture and items all over the room are touchable. You can throw things at the spiders or just throw these objects around for fun, destroying the room in the process. Also, the spiders come complete with squeaking noises, and if you're truly lucky and kill a certain spider, they turn into about ten little white ones! That is the most anxious feeling ever to be honest. It's even worse when you go to kill a spider, it runs in the opposite direction of you or it runs directly at you instead. For those that suffer from arachnophobia, Kill It With Fire may not help your phobia. However, some may find it wildly fun with the different kinds of weapons you can unlock to kill the vermin.

The weapons are the main bread and butter of Kill It With Fire. You didn't think the developers made Kill It With Fire with the intention of giving you just a clipboard did you? Well, I'm here to tell you there are PLENTY of weapons that you can unlock along the way in your killing spree. Some of the weapons include, hairspray (complete with lighter), a shotgun, C4 bomb, a Molotov, a good Frying Pan and gasoline among a few more. My personal favourite is the hairspray or the clipboard. The clipboard is a multipurpose tool, as it also keeps track of your objectives, and if you whack spiders with it, it's simply another weapon that is always available. Now, my friend doesn't trust me with a clipboard. I wonder why. I found the coolest “weapon” wasn't actually a weapon. Cheese Puffs are one of the items you can unlock and can be used to lure spiders to you. Great, now I can't eat cheese puffs without looking over my shoulder!

I can't really find a flaw in Kill It With Fire. It's a fun, interactive and hilarious way to spend some down time. The overall aesthetic of Kill It With Fire is clean, simple and it doesn't try to be anything it isn't. You enter, you kill the spiders with the weapons, you complete the objectives if you want and then you leave and proceed onto another level. It's up to you whether you actually completely all of the objectives including a timed one called “Arachno-Gauntlets”. They are more complicated missions and add some longevity. I enjoyed these as it was a step up from the normal objectives.

As I've stated, I'm not at all a fan of spiders. I would prefer not to see one in my actual home. However, I will more than happily see them here and blow it up with some C4. Sign me up! Kill It With Fire is a worthwhile experience for anyone that can handle seeing spiders practically at their feet. Even if you don't like spiders at all or have a phobia, this may be a fantastic way to seek revenge on them, even though throwing a C4 or lighting hairspray on fire in your own home is strongly frowned upon and not advised.

Overall Score: 8.0 / 10 Gods Will Fall

As some may know, I find enjoyment playing a good roguelike title. I find happiness in the adrenaline rush of going after enemies head on with little knowledge of what lurks around the corner, so I guess I'm a bit of a daredevil at heart when gaming. This usually means I take chances I probably shouldn't. Sometimes it pays off royally, though it also tends to leave me with a "You Died" screen more than I'd like to admit. I recently got to play Gods Will Fall by Deep Silver, best known for for games such as Dead Island, Kingdom Come: Deliverance and Maneater. Let's just say I had high hopes for Gods Will Fall and was pretty confident with playing countless hours of Enter the Gungeon and The Binding of Isaac, I figured I'd reign the Queen and I'd take over the Overworld. There may have been a few obstacles along my path to my crown that I didn't foresee though.

The main narrative follows the story of eight warriors washing ashore on an island filled with caves. The main premise of Gods Will Fall is you have to defeat the ten Gods that inhabit the island you washed up on within each cave. Whether or not you can get through each cave and defeat the Gods is questionable though. The eight warriors you are given with each attempt is randomly generated with different health, advantages, disadvantages and weapons. I found I did the best with the spear the most because its range is spot on. There are a variety of weapons that you can choose from that your characters are equipped with such as the spear (long range), axe, sword, mace (extra damage to enemies on the ground), dual mace, dual axe and more. There are some characters that can wield spears and swords as well, but others that can't wield axes and maces, so it will take some time to figure out what suits your playstyle best.

The core idea is that you enter the cave with one of your crew members, and if your crew member falls in the cave another one has to go in and complete it. This process repeats through all of your members, which, I found to be a little difficult at times. If you go through all your “good” characters, going through the caves with your lesser will present a new challenge. If you happen to have a situation where all of your characters die, you start from the very beginning; this is a roguelike after all.

There is one thing that I can't seem to see past and it's the way you learn how to fight in Gods Will Fall. I find that of all things I need to learn, I would need to learn how to fight efficiently. I feel like the tutorial could have been more in depth to help with this. Your movement, regular attack, strong attack and jump are controlled by your face buttons. The whole idea, as I've specified before, was you have to go into caves and defeat the ten Gods on top of the other enemies that inhabit the caves. You'd think that they would explain it a tad better. As someone who understands the importance of parrying, blocking and catching your enemy off guard to kill them, it was a let down to not be given all the tools in the first cave so I could be more prepared.

The caveman-like style mixed with the aesthetic was among one of my favorite aspects of Gods Will Fall. I have come to love the characters themselves, and although they don't talk, I feel like they have enough spunk and liveliness where I enjoy seeing how they react when in battle. Each time you start the game over, the characters have their abilities and stats completely randomized once again. The characters themselves don't talk much but I found I had a pleasant experience knowing that the characters changed every time. That almost eliminates the possibility of gameplay becoming stale. Even though I got through maybe three caves at most, I appreciated the art style as it slightly changed for every cave, especially when it came to the Gods, as they too they are random difficulties. Thankfully, the first cave is rather forgiving, however after that it's up to chance, which can work for or against you.

Overall, Gods Will Fall was a rather decent experience. I won't lie; I wasn't a fan of gameplay in the beginning, most likely due to not being taught enough, and even now I'm not their biggest fan. However, for a player who is looking for something that will not hold your hand at all and drop you in a random cave with a bunch of enemies to kill, rinse and repeat... then Gods Will Fall may be your kind of game. If you are going to go ahead and give Gods Will Fall a try, you'll have to keep an open mind regarding its mechanics. I don't know about Gods falling, but I sure know I fell more than I'd like to admit. Nevertheless, I kept trucking along and trying different approaches. For now, I'll put my spear away and let the others go first.

Overall Score: 5.8 / 10 Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?!

Hold on to your wooden spoons folks! Cook, Serve, Delicious 3?! has made its entrance into the kitchen and I'm ecstatic and thrilled to be the one to review it. Vertigo Gaming sure outdid themselves. With the wide variety of recipes to the intense cooking and serving gameplay, Cook, Serve, Delicious 3?! serves up on hell of a cooking simulator that you can't miss out on. I promise you, you won't want to skip this order I'm about to cook you. If you want a chaotic, intense, fun and action packed game to keep you on the edge of your seat... look no further than Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! I am a big fan of cooking in my real life, and when I can virtually cook in my games, it makes me just as happy.

Speaking about cooking dishes up for you, Cook, Serve, Delicious 3?! excels at the 'cooking' aspect. Depending on the recipe, you could be deep frying, baking, pan frying or putting together sushi. Every recipe in Cook Serve Delicious 3?! has its own level, cook time and way to make it just right. Personally, I preferred the recipes that had only a few steps in the process and was simple to make. I tend to get a little overwhelmed when I have to do multiple steps in the recipe. A few of my favourite recipes were Churros, Kimchi, Baklava, Japchae (I'm assuming some kind of chow mein) and really, anything fried. Everything is relatively easy, as its usually one to two steps, if not three, and then it automatically serves.

There are some recipes that require you to first cook it, then revisit it and complete the order. For example, ribs need to be cooked, sauced and seasoned. Then, after the ribs cook, you need to sauce and season them again. Another good example is Country Fried Meats. That requires you to cook the meat and then add the country gravy. I found the recipes not too difficult even those with four star levels. It just takes a medium level of concentration depending on your attention span and multitasking abilities.

The 'Serve' portion of Cook, Serve, Delicious 3?! is rather simple. When your item is 100% complete, it pops up on the left side, you scroll over with the joystick and then you have two options; You can manually select each item or you can use your staff member to auto serve. The auto serve is extremely helpful when you need to move fast and get the orders out quickly. Although, auto serve will only serve the item if it's 100%. Items that still need to have final touches will not be completed and auto served though. That's really the only true downside, as if you have a ton of dishes such as the ribs on queue, you must complete each item one by one. This makes things difficult when you have a lineup of 30 or more people waiting for their grub. At the end of each shift, you'll get pointed based on how well you did. This doesn't really impact your score all too much, but it will impact your coins.

Coins are mostly used for upgrades and decorating the exterior of your food truck. Decorating the exterior of your truck is purely aesthetic and does not have an affect on your ability to cook. However, upgrading your cooking stations and prep stations is needed and it's a beautiful thing. It means you can make more recipes and make more people happy with more decadent choices to eat. It's perfect!

I thoroughly enjoyed Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! for its content, gameplay, culinary dishes and delicious looking food that I'd love to actually eat. I really enjoyed the chaos and atmosphere that a chef on a food truck must deal with every day, going from stop to stop to serve hungry customers. I'll be serving for a long time past this review, so grab a frying pan and give Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! a try, you won't regret it. I've got to go, my ribs need to be sauced again!

**Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! was reviewed on an Xbox One**

Overall Score: 6.8 / 10 Cinders

Cinders is based off of the classic Disney movie, Cinderella. Being that Cinderella is one of my favourite Disney classics, I was beyond happy when I saw there was a visual novel videogame adaptation of it. Irregardless of how its narrative differs from the classic Disney's storyline, I was on board with giving Cinders a shot. I'm always willing to give new things a try, and to be honest, I don't have much experience in playing visual novels so this was all pretty new to me, unsure what to expect.

Cinders is in the visual novel genre, straightforward question selection and quite a simple UI to make the gameplay come across as smooth. The baseline of Cinders is very similar to Cinderella. She has a stepmother and two step sisters that aren't too fond of her. Cinders wants to find her Prince and fall in love. Bippity, boppity, boo... well not really. I would rather not give much more of the story away as there are different avenues and I'm not the 'spoil the story' kinda chick.

I feel like I have to clear the air before I can talk about the good. I don't normally start off a review with negative and then get into the positive, but this time I am making an exception. I feel like if a visual novel chooses not to have voice acting, it certainly needs to excel at every other area. I do completely understand that visual novels often do not have voice acting and I completely respect that, however, it would have brought more depth to the story and gameplay itself if it had said voice acting. Just my personal opinion.

Another issue I feel can't go unnoticed is when you choose your answer for the dialogue, Cinders and the other characters don't necessarily respond the way you'd logically think and assume. Have you ever told someone something rather exciting and they respond in disgust like you just called their little sister ugly? That's how Cinders' dialogue seems to play out quite frequently, constantly making you wonder what the reactions will be.

It's quite frustrating when you're trying to build relationships with people in the game and what you intended to say doesn't get projected well, making it feel like you constantly have to walk on egg shells or try and predict outcomes. Should I choose this option? Should I not choose this option? I'm aware that negative responses have negative consequences, such as does life, but this glaring issue Cinders has somewhat ruins the gameplay for me. I want to be able to relax and play through without worrying too heavily about what choices I make. Food for thought, I guess.

I know not every video game is perfect. However, Cinders got one thing perfect, and that's its art style. I tend to steer towards games that have visual aesthetics like these. It's gorgeous, full of beautifully drawn works of art. There's no denying whomever was the lead artist on Cinders loved what they do, as you can see it through all aspects of gameplay. I'd play Cinders again just to enjoy the gorgeous backgrounds and characters over and over again.

With the vibrant, colorful choices, the art style gives off a very positive, happy vibe to a narrative that unfortunately seems to be a mix of Cinders' feelings, both negative and positive. It's nice to see that throughout gameplay, the art style stays consistent. Cinders is a true work of art. Even with a few hiccups along the way, I'd recommend Cinders to anyone that finds visual novel games even remotely appealing. Cinders clearly is made for a certain audience and bravo for their merits. As for me, I'll keep looking for my Prince Charming and explore some more.

Overall Score: 6.5 / 10 Ary and the Secret Of Seasons

I love adventure and exploration games. I find a sense of achievement seeing the main story of a campaign from beginning to the ending credits. I love learning about the ins and outs, the story behind the game and what kind of journey I'm going to get myself into. Ary and the Secret of Seasons at first looked like one of those games that I wouldn't be able to put down, and for the most part, I couldn't put it down initially. But in terms of gameplay and my overall opinion, well, I'll get into that because I have a lot to say.

You begin your journey as Ary, a girl whose town has been invaded by mysterious red crystals and the season has been mysteriously changed from Winter to Spring. Now, Ary has to go seek out the Guardians of the Seasons to help her restore her town's season. Along with fixing the town, Ary has to also seek out her brother whom has gone missing. The story isn't exactly ground breaking, but it's simple and to the point. Sure there could be a little more depth, but I'll take what I can get.

There are four Season Spheres; Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. Ary gains this power when she visits the Guardians of the Seasons. When you activate a Season Sphere, a big bubble surrounds you as you're in the middle of it, and whatever the season, the environment will change. For example, if you're standing on ice in the middle of a small lake, you can activate any of the three seasons and that ice will disappear. Long story short, the environment can be manipulated when using different spheres.

Ary and the Secret of Seasons isn't exactly difficult combat wise, as it's generally rather easy. One button will usually suffice as the complexity is very low. You don't have a lot of choice for weapons unfortunately. I used the same weapon throughout my playthrough until the end. I personally wanted to see some customization or upgrades be available. The upgrades I saw available, I never had enough gold for me to purchase them which felt like it was a huge missed opportunity. I feel like if a player can upgrade, or at least get new weapons, then they may be more willing to play more.

During my gameplay, I only had one boss fight which was the Winter Temple boss, Muscari, though he was rather easy to defeat once I got the hang of his movements. Unfortunately, after Muscari, I was sent to beat the other three bosses, but I got stuck within a Water Temple and couldn't get myself out of it to save my life. There are only three rooms and none of them I could figure out how to get to the next bosses I was expected to get to. There was a small puzzle you had to solve to get you within the actual temple, but no actual way to proceed further. The ruins/puzzles that I was able to successfully complete were fantastic; rather simple, but I'm by no means upset by that. Having said that, I would have appreciated some form of difficulty spike at some point. Usually, you'd have to select the appropriate Season Sphere and activate which one you'd need to and follow along to the next steps.

While fighting hyenas, when they were defeated, some may glitch and lay dead in mid air. I found this a little comical but this happened just about every time I fought with any form of enemy. The only time it really didn't constantly happen was in boss fights. Another glitch that bothered me a little too much was the one where I was walking on snow in one of the areas. I'm aware that no video game no matter how good it is will never be perfect, but unfortunately Ary and the Secret of Seasons can't possibly keep everything a secret. While I found most of my experience with Ary positive, the glitches were a glaring issue. Although not a dealbreaker, it needs to be noted as it doesn't just happen with enemies. You'll find as well that there will be a bunch of odd occurrences such as framerate plummeting, unachievable quests and gameplay freezing in the middle of playing. It breaks my heart when I see a game that just needed more time to develop and get all the bugs sorted out.

The voice acting was another thing that I felt was a bit of a letdown. I don't expect phenomenal voice acting in a smaller game like this, but I don't necessarily feel that the voice acting itself was the biggest problem. The script, while charming, in some spots lacked follow-through or proper English dialogue. I felt the script to be choppy where sentences both spoken vocally and on the screen wouldn't make sense. I found it amusing for a little while, but was a little upsetting to find it was throughout my entire time with Ary.

I love, love, LOVE collecting things in video games. I'm almost always the one who wants to complete an entire area and go collecting crazy. Ary and the Secret of Seasons was unfortunately one of those titles that I spent very little time combing every inch of an area to make sure I got every little thing. In most games, there is a purpose to collecting things; you can proceed to the next level or area, you can open up a special quest, etc. This isn't the case here. You can collect the chests and messages if you want, but you could go through and collect none too. It's not a requirement. This made me a little sad, as it would have been great to have a real reason to do so. Much like the chests and messages, you can also collect costumes, hats and shoes for Ary. For what purpose, visual pleasure maybe? That new jacket you just equipped does nothing for Ary. It doesn't up her defense, attack... or anything. If that's your thing to collect costumes and hats and dress up your characters, go for it. But I like collecting for a purpose.

I'm usually willing to cut a game a lot of slack if it makes up for it in other areas. Ary and the Secret of Seasons feels like needed to be worked on just a little longer. There are far too many glaring issues that need to be addressed before I can give someone at least a 'Give er a try' recommendation. I mean, I can't tell you what to do, but I would proceed with a bit of caution while playing through Ary and the Secret of Seasons. It has a fantastic idea at its core, but this one I just can't fully stand behind right now.

Overall Score: 5.0 / 10 Drake Hollow

Drake Hollow is one of those games that when I did an article for the preview, I knew it was going to be a great game. The characters, the drakes and the emphasis on exploration had me hooked from the first time I started my journey in Drake Hollow, as it's rare when a video game can capture my attention so quickly. I was hooked from the first time I laid eyes on those adorable little Drake creatures. Now that the full game is live on Game Pass, I wanted to sink my teeth into it and see what the Hollow had in store for me as it's the full package this time.

What excited me the initially about Drake Hollow was the idea of exploring islands, gathering supplies and finding out what secrets the other islands held, as the preview only allowed me to go so far. I was really excited now being able to play the full game, seeing how much more expansive it would get.

Most of your time with Drake Hollow will be exploring the world surrounding you and scavenging for supplies for your camp on mysterious islands. Defeating enemies will also be a very important as you need to keep them out of your base. Another thing you'll want to do is destroy the vines surrounding the islands, as if you keep the vines on the islands, enemies will keep appearing. As you start to explore different islands you delve further into the unknown, wanting to explore even more. Between the many islands in Drake Hollow there is a dark matter that as you walk through it, you seem like you're being dragged into something dangerous. However, if you back out of it and use an aether purple diamond object, it will clear all the aether for you as you journey between islands to gather supplies so you can build and enhance your main encampment.

When you begin your adventure in Drake Hollow you learn about your camp, how to take care of it and what Drakes are. Drakes are these little purple onion looking guys with legs, arms and a face. They are quite adorable and make a cute noise when you interact with them. There are several you can wake up during your adventure and can give you several benefits such as buffs for your character such as 'Take less damage' and a handful of others. That buff is going to be on your character until you change it to another, so choose wisely.

The whole idea of building your camp is to house a bunch of Drakes ensuring they are fed and happy, so essentially Drakes are basically like your children. While you're building your camp, you have a stock pot that the Drakes will eat and drink from. When you come back from your travels, you replenish the pot and the Drakes scurry cutely and eat. Another thing you can do is give the Drakes a bed to sleep on and build a workshop to craft different items for your camp and yourself. You can also build defenses and such for the raids that happen every 15 minutes or so.

Raids are quite self explanatory. They happen quite frequently and enemies will attack your camp. It doesn't matter how built up the camp is or how far or close you are, enemies will come about every 15 minutes or so and it can be quite a challenge to get back to your camp in time if you're far away exploring distant islands. That's where if you're lucky you can find a big brown pole on the island, and if you have enough aether wards, you can create an aether stream to travel across the islands. This part was awesome, especially when you're super far from your base.

The environment of Drake Hollow can be described as Fortnite-like. I am not a Fortnite fan, far from it actually but you can't deny that it looks somewhat like Fortnite with its colorful and cartoony visuals from the building aspects, the mannerisms of your character, to watching the building process of whatever you're crafting. It's a neat experience to see Drake Hollow come to life with all the Drakes, building workshops and all the stuff your camp and your need to survive another raid. To see your Drakes running around playing with toys and rushing up to you as they give you things is delightful, by far the best experience about playing. It's nice that the developers took time in animating and bringing the Drakes to life because they are the cutest things ever, possibly even a rival for Baby Yoda on the cuteness meter, and now I want one in my home. I know I won't get to hold one in my hands so playing Drake Hollow will be the closest thing to it.

Drake Hollow is an amazing game to sink a few hours into and I enjoyed nearly every minute of it. The Drakes you collect along the way, the islands you get to visit and the exploration are many of the great highlights of Drake Hollow. As you explore more islands, you get to see more areas, collect more supplies and make a grander, better camp. Who wouldn't want that in a video game? I'm excited to explore more, collect more and see what the worlds have to offer me. Gotta go, enemies are raiding my camp!

Overall Score: 7.0 / 10 Skully

Have you ever wondered what it's like to roll around as a skull? I know I hadn't until I saw gameplay for Skully for the first time and wanted in on the fun. Have you played Marble Blast or Marble it Up? Well, think of Skully in a grander, more scenic setting and with a story to go with it. If the title doesn't give it away, Skully is a 3D puzzle platformer and you play, well, a skull. I know, right? Shocking. Did Finish Line Games cross the finish line first or did they miss the mark? I have to say as someone who loves games that are simple in concept but complex in their plot and execution, I was enthusiastic in seeing what Skully had to offer in terms of rolling around and completing what looked to be a fun time killer.

On the surface, Skully is caught in the middle of a bunch of siblings that harness the power of water, fire and wind. Terry is a guy who harnesses the power of earth, and his main goal is to stop his siblings from arguing and regain harmony between them. He then asks for Skully's help to achieve this. I know every family in the world at some time or another has had drama within their circle. From personal experience, I rarely get into my own family drama, let alone someone else's family drama. But, I chose to keep going with Skully agreeing to help Terry. Grab the popcorn folks! Just kidding. The story itself isn't the absolute highlight of Skully's adventure. Albeit, it's not the worst story ever, but the story could have been left out and it would still be the same game overall. Just my personal opinion, but the narration and artwork was phenomenal. Not a deal breaker by any means.

The only glaring problem I have with Skully that ultimately is its unfortunate downfall. The rolling controls, while extremely precise as you can also stop on a dime, but it's rather hard to control as Skully himself. Don't get me wrong, it is fun to launch yourself all over the place, but when you have bodies of lava and water all around you along with enemies that may be lurking around the corner, I needed more control of Skully in these situations. In particular, I found it difficult to turn the corner and not hit the water or lava in several levels. If I could adjust my sensitivity as Skully, most of the problems with rolling around as him would be somewhat solved I'd think. I found it frustrating as a lot of your actions while on the levels have to be calculated precisely and thought out instead of carefree and rather simple. While I appreciate the complexity and level of sensitivity as I need to stop, it tends to not be as easy to ignore when you want to just cruise around and finish the level before moving onto the next.

The charming part of Skully I enjoyed other than the graphics (duh) are the golems you can morph Skully into as you progress levels. There are three you can unlock and I enjoyed that there are a handful to rip around as. Although these three golems don't roll around, each has a special ability. One golem is strong, yet rather slow, while another is fast, but very weak and one that can double jump. As you unlock golems, the levels get more complex.

Note, that you can't just press a button and you're a golem or back to Skully. You have to make it to specific brown circles on the ground that not only count as checkpoints but your morph station where you can change into a golem or back to Skully. I found this to be quite delightful as it gives you motivation to keep going through the levels, find new golems and test out the current ones you have unlocked. It would be too simple if you simply were able to change your character whenever you pleased.

Skully has a lot of good qualities about it; beautiful graphics, charming characters and I had an overall good gameplay experience. While I constantly struggled with the rolling controls, I still found reasons to enjoy my experience. Skully is not at all a bad game whatsoever and I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a great time killer. I think for now, I'll keep rolling through the levels and explore some more!

Overall Score: 6.5 / 10 Windbound

I love adventure and exploration in video games, as nothing makes me happier than spending hours and hours in a world that isn't this one that we all live on and share. I'm not going to lie, I find happiness in zoning out to a good game and forgetting all my problems for a little while. From the second I saw the trailer for Windbound, my first thought was Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild meets Moana. Being a huge fan of the Legend of Zelda, my expectations went a little high but I felt that there was still hope that Windbound would knock the wind out of me... see what I did there?

Windbound starts off as a girl is sailing solo on her wooden raft with people on nearby wooden rafts. The girl then gets caught in a storm, the waters get rough and she gets separated from her group of people. Then, a big giant creature comes out from underneath the sea. You don't know what it is and it disappears again only for you to end up losing your boat and washing ashore some form of an island. Now, your adventure begins.

Windbound's overall gameplay can be described as a survival exploration game. My experiences during my adventure was a mixture of confusion and uncertainty. I'm all for a learning curve during the first few hours of gameplay as I learn the mechanics, but unfortunately it never really went away, even after a handful of hours, which eventually led to frustration. As you enter the world of Windbound you are given a very vague tutorial on the gameplay mechanics and how to navigate around. When I say vague, I mean that you might as well not give me a tutorial unless its on the crafting, sailing and other action heavy pieces of gameplay. The tutorial was absolutely lacking detail and didn't really help all that much.

Most of my time with Windbound was wondering "Why?". Why am I collecting these items? Why am I travelling island to island? Why do I have to activate these things resembling a podium with a blue glowing artifact around it? Why can't I put more items in my inventory? Why am I so weak while battling enemies? There were way too many "Why" questions and not enough "How can I?" instead. Now, I understand that Windbound's story isn't its strong point, but you're left with no choice but to wander around and find out the hard way. As it's a survival game, I get that it's more than likely how the development team deliberately designed the gameplay, but without the main bread and butter of a strong narrative, why bother playing Windbound? No matter how many questions I had and the amount of frustration I had playing Windbound, I gave it all I had.

The two bars up at the top left of the screen are your hunger (red) and your stamina (yellow). It's a pretty straight forward explanation; if you deplete your hunger, you'll starve to death. If you deplete your stamina bar, depending on where you are, you'll likely collapse on the spot or drown in the ocean. I found this part honestly the hardest. If I'm standing still or walking normally, not moving a muscle, my stamina depletes slowly, if I sprint, I lose stamina temporarily. I find this puzzling. If I'm standing still, I shouldn't lose any stamina, but that's just my opinion. I feel like more explanation would have been helpful as it's such a critical part of Windbound and this girl's survival.

Upon your journey, you'll learn that you must collect a number of different items to craft items for your survival such as weapons, boats and boat accessories. By the way, the game doesn't tell you that you can't collect every single thing you see and hoard your items, as there is a limit. That was a bummer, but I get it. I found that the easiest way to keep things simple and easy was to collect only what you absolutely needed. In the event you need a lot of things for a crafting project, you need the space and need to plan accordingly. I would have thought that having a hoard of items in your inventory would be an advantage. Apparently not.

The goal at the end of your journey is you have five islands to travel through in each chapter, with a total of five chapters. The level system doesn't need to be there and found it unnecessary. It should be a constant flow of islands all over the ocean, as we know our oceans can go on for hundreds of thousands of miles. Windbound would have flowed a little better and gave you the sense of purpose as you sail to island to island if this was the case instead.

The main menu where you craft your items and keep track of your inventory is a tad clunky. I personally wasn't a fan. Crafting the items was rather easy and straightforward thankfully. Collect needed items, craft said items, rinse and repeat. Crafting is absolutely crucial in Windbound. Your grass canoe you start with in Chapter One will only take you so far before you need something more sturdy that can withstand the perils of the sea. As you explore the islands you'll collect items from enemies you kill and things you find on the ground such as tall grass, rocks and twigs. Crafting is one of the highlights of Windbound that I found was the most rewarding.

For most of your journey you'll be sailing the seas on your boat, and I found this rather relaxing. Even if I was sailing trying to find islands for a half hour I was alright and happy. However, when I am trying to find an island after about an hour and a half, I start to get irritated and feel like it's too repetitive for me. I simply want to enjoy the gameplay and have fun.

I had a hard time with understanding the purpose of Windbound. The concept set forth is relatively easy to understand but the execution fell flat and left me with more questions than answers. Aside from the graphics being gorgeous beyond expectations, Windbound wasn't a game that I found I enjoyed thoroughly. Some gamers may appreciate the survival mechanics and the overall style though. Windbound for me isn't a game I'd jump on my raft and cross oceans for, so I think I'll set up camp and chill on my island.

Overall Score: 5.0 / 10 SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom - Rehydrated

I have so much to say about SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated. I barely remember playing this when I was younger at my friend's house, but have fond memories of doing so. As I played it for review, it was almost like a first playthrough. There were a few elements that I remember, but honestly not much. From the moment I launched this beautiful remaster, I was automatically happy singing along to the SpongeBob SquarePants theme song. As a woman in her late 20's, I still love the classics I use to watch as a kid, and Spongebob to me is a part of those classics.

You have three options of characters; SpongeBob (of course), Patrick and Sandy. Each of these characters have special and unique abilities that you can use during gameplay. At the beginning you start as SpongeBob and learn how to play in the very pineapple he lives in. This was very cool because the developers really took a lot of time in creating SpongeBob's house to be authentic and recreating it from the show we all love. You can tell that a lot of love and care went into not only look prettier from its original version, but to make fans happy as well.

Do you like collect-a-thon games? If so, this game is for you! From shiny objects, golden spatulas, golden underwear, to Patrick's smelly socks, SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated will keep you playing for hours. Along with defeating enemies and bosses, you'll have enough side quests to keep even the youngest of players entertained. For the most part, you'll be travelling by taxi to different areas within Bikini Bottom, each with their own setting and design. You'll be solving fairly simple puzzles to others that will take a little more thought to figure out. Each of your pals, SpongeBob, Sandy and Patrick all have a role to play in the areas of Bikini Bottom. Sandy can glide with her lasso rope, SpongeBob can boost jump upwards to smash things above him, and Patrick... what can Patrick do again? Oh that's right! He can throw an ice cube at bodies of water and freeze them, making you able to walk on water... I mean ice.

I was interested to see what SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated had to offer with regards to Multiplayer and managed to play with my best friend and his daughter. I have to say, I have mixed feelings. For the most part, we had a lot of fun, but it didn't come without some issues. Multiplayer is set up as 26 islands consisting of three waves of enemies each that you will experience within the main campaign. Gameplay was smooth for a short period of time before the lag and decreased frame rate made it a little harder to enjoy the experience in the later stages when things became much more chaotic. It was not unplayable, but it slowed down the process and resulted in unfair deaths quite a few times. The frame rate and lag was at its worst when there was a lot of enemies and action going on. I found the different levels entertaining to battle on though, ranging from small and large levels within the ocean. Overall, I'm not saying I don't like Multiplayer mode, but I am a little bummed out it worked out the way it did and had no reason to replay it again after we finished it.

The amount of charm that went into the main campaign was truly appreciated and brought back nostalgia from when I used to play the older SpongeBob games on Gamecube back in the day. The classic theme song at the beginning sets the tone for an exciting adventure with SpongeBob and the gang, instantly puting a smile on your face. Throughout the campaign the music and visuals fit the environment and SpongeBob setting perfectly, like it was taken directly from the show. I'm beyond happy that I got to experience SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom years later with a new coat of paint and a lot of heart and soul.

It makes me happy that THQ Nordic and Purple Lamp Studios took their time to make a proper remaster with more than just a simple shiny coat of paint, and it shows in the final product. Other than the multiplayer being a slight issue, SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated is a solid choice for any SpongeBob veteran. It's not very often that a classic is showcased so well that it even makes me reminisce of how awesome my childhood really was. I've always been a fan of SpongeBob SquarePants, from the TV Shows to their games back in the day, and it still makes me happier than Mr. Krabs seeing money, especially this remaster. Well, I gotta keep exploring Bikini Bottom to help stop Plankton!

Overall Score: 7.5 / 10 Atomicrops

In recent years, I have gotten into farm simulator games like Farm Together and Stardew Valley and highly enjoy them. The idea of creating your own farm, growing your own crops and collecting money in return makes me very happy. When I saw the Atomicrops trailer, I saw the farming of crops mixed with the roguelike genre and I was in. I have played Enter the Gungeon on PC for hours and absolutely love it. When I saw Atomicrops, I imagine if Stardew Valley and Enter the Gungeon had a baby, Atomicrops would be born. Knowing that in the back of my mind, my expectations were set very high, as I expected Enter the Gungeon levels of gameplay for Atomicrops. Unfortunately, I may have set my expectations too high and that concerned me through my playthroughs.

Atomicrops is a little difficult to explain to be honest. You've been plopped onto this post apocalyptic world where you've received a plot of land to farm, grow and sell crops... oh and fight off enemies with your gun? From what I can gather, you are on a year system similar to Stardew Valley. You start off in the day and end at nightfall after your “raid” is over with the enemies. During the day you're planting and watering your crops, exploring nearby areas and collecting items you'll need for your plot. These items can be helpful, such as roses used as currency in the main menu area to new crops for you to plant. There's quite a bit about Atomicrops that I'm not a fan of and unfortunately there's quite a bit I have to say regarding what make this game not so pleasant from a gamer perspective.

Where to begin? One of my biggest problems with Atomicrops is its lacks focus. Is it a roguelike farm simulator or is it a roguelike shoot em up? The concept is fantastic and the idea is solid, it just seems to know how what it exactly wants to be. As I've stated above, I'm a huge fan of Enter the Gungeon and Stardew Valley, however, both of those video games have a focus. Whereas with Atomicrops, I feel like tries to do too much with very little explanation on how, where and why. Atomicrops would have been more successful if it focused on one or the other.

The overall gameplay is a little confusing as you are required to obtain roses, but it's not stated in the introduction or tutorials as to where the roses are. You'd think that it would be important to clarify early on as it is a key currency in the game to get your bridges built, more hearts, different weapons etc. For an average 'just slightly over amateur' roguelike gamer, I feel like for some gamers with a similar player skill as mine it may be difficult to make it past the first few days of gameplay. This made things difficult for me to want to play Atomicrops over and over again. I feel satisfaction in proceeding to the next stage, getting new items and discovering new areas, but I didn't feel a lot of satisfaction in my time with Atomicrops overall. I didn't make it past the third day, and I even barely made it to the third day. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get past the third day.

The one thing I did love about Atomicrops is the overall music and graphics while playing. I'm a sucker for a great looking game and awesome audio and appreciate when developers take time to make their games sound and look good. While playing, it's nice to have an upbeat soundtrack in the back keeping you alert and energized. The story is also pretty cute in the beginning which was a nice touch.

Atomicrops could have been an amazing roguelike, and I say that wholeheartedly. I usually really like roguelikes for their fast pace and cutthroat nature of them even if I'm not overly skilled at them, but I do quite enjoy them. The lack of focus with gameplay really made this experience difficult unfortunately. Sadly, I'll have to get in my UFO and get transported somewhere else. Until next time, earthlings.

Overall Score: 6.0 / 10 Gigantosaurus: The Game

In my two years or so of being a “product analyst”, I have been exposed to a wide variety of video games the world has to offer. I walked into Gigantosaurus: The Game unsure of what I was about to get into. Apparently, Gigantosaurus is based off a kid based TV show, though that was news to me as I've never heard of it before. I was curious though as to what Gigantosaurus has to offer a woman in her late 20's as for a gaming experience. I tend to lean toward video games that I can pour hours into, collect all the items and finish the main story.

I spoke to a few friends of mine that have children that expressed how their kids (most around 5-7 years old) would love Gigantosaurus, as it's cartoon style is right up kids' alleys along with the bright colours. In the first hour or so of gameplay, I was optimistic that I'd enjoy what Gigantosaurushad to offer and I was open minded to a kid friendly game for a kid at heart like myself. After about five hours of gameplay I unfortunately don't feel as optimistic. I feel more uncertain now than I did in the beginning.

I'm not going to lie, I didn't pay attention to the names of the characters, the technical names of the dinosaurs or much of the cut scenes. I didn't find the story very engaging or even interesting. I understand that the market for Gigantosaurus is more than likely young children, but I feel like those that review it aren't going to be in that age bracket. They are going to be my age, and quite frankly, I found the story and overall concept rather boring from an adult perspective. My opinions aside, the story begins as two raptors have stolen a bird's egg and it's your job to retrieve it. You follow the purple sparkly line and make it to another cutscene where you meet Gigantosaurus. Eventually, a meteor falls from the sky and blocks the opening of a volcano blocking its pressure and different areas of the Savanna. In addition to blocking areas of the Savanna, the quake disrupts eggs all over the Savanna. Now they are scattered all over and it's your job to collect them and return them to the nesting area.

In each area, there are eggs and purple seeds you have available to collect. I say "available" deliberately. At minimum, you need to collect four eggs to proceed to the next zone. I'll get into more detail later, but this is the first red flag. As you wander around the zone you're in, if you're in easy mode, you have a purple sparkly line showing you where the eggs are, and then it also appears when you need to go back to the nesting area. I feel that this is very beneficial for kids that need help navigating the zone, as even I needed the extra help sometimes.

Each zone is in an open world style, which is nice to see. When you progress to the next zone you'll need to 'race' there. Are you familiar with Mario Kart? The races in Gigantosaurus are like if you had drive assist on while playing Mario Kart all the time, so it's rather straight forward. While on the 'race track' you collect purple seeds and dinosaur skulls while somewhat dodging big dinosaurs above you. When you arrive in your new zone, the zone is different than the last, even the enemies are also different. In the jungle for example, there are bees that sting you. In the Savanna, there are plants that can snap at you and fish that pop out of the water. Gameplay in a nutshell was pretty monotonous. I felt very bored even after arriving to the jungle, especially after learning there were a few things that I just didn't vibe well with.

I really tried to like Gigantosaurus. I was very open minded with the whole concept of a game being designed and marketed to kids. I even tried to play Gigantosaurus as if I was a 5 year old kid. Then, I tried playing it as myself. Either way I swung it, I didn't really enjoy much of the gameplay. Normally, I love cutscenes, as I enjoy watching the story unfold and learning more of the narrative. Gigantosaurus' cutscenes are excruciatingly basic and lack any form of depth. I feel like kids games deserve the same amount of depth and effort within the story that Triple-A titles get. I may be overreaching a little, but I feel like the story could have used a bit of spark or boost.

While playing Gigantosaurus, the two things other than the story that I found very difficult to deal with were the camera controls and moving my character around. I was very clunky and I have concerns about the accuracy of the movements. I would keep missing jumps that were clearly in front of me and the controls would not let me up on the platforms. This led me to get a little frustrated because Gigantosaurus is a fairly straightforward and should be easy for its younger audience.

I am the type of gamer that loves to collect items in a video game. I was not overly impressed when I only needed to collect the bare minimum eggs to proceed to the next zone. Then, I kept completing zones and Gigantasaurus didn't say I need 'X' amount of eggs to proceed. I found the incentive to keep collecting was gone almost immediately. I feel like that alone was a missed opportunity to keep gamers engaged and playing the game for more than a few days. Overall, the biggest positive going for Gigantosaurus is that the narrator is on point, engaging and you can tell he brings a lot of enthusiasm to the table. I love the graphics. Even if they are simple, as it's bright, colourful and inviting. The dinosaur design was charming and cute and audio was fitting for the environment you were playing in.

If I were to recommend Gigantosaurus to anyone, it would be best suited for kids aged 7-10 years old, and fans of the show of course. I feel like the story is basic enough to understand that kids will hopefully feel engaged. I will not recommend Gigantosaurus to anyone over the age of 10 years old though. I find that a certain people will enjoy this, but I feel like the negatives are outweighing the small positives Gigantosaurus has to offer. As for my view, Gigantosaurus should have developed a little more before coming out of its shell. Gigantosaurus: the Game is simply a gigantic basic kids game and nothing more.

Overall Score: 5.5 / 10 Two Point Hospital

I have wanted to play Two Point Hospital for a very long time, as I've been a huge fan of simulation and business management type games. I love diving deep into what makes the building and company I'm managing successful, and nothing makes me happier than to see all my hard work pay off. I was very surprised to learn that Sega was behind Two Point Hospital. When I found that out, my expectations of Two Point Hospital went through the roof and I expected a top tier video gaming experience. Here's the real question. How did Sega do with the Xbox One version of Two Point Hospital? I've got the details you want to know.

If you didn't get a big clue from the title 'Two Point Hospital', you are the 'god' of building and managing the hospital you choose. Your main task is to make the hospital successful financially and medically. I found the basic controls of movement, looking around and zooming in and out to be smooth and precise which is what you need when you're constantly watching what everyone is doing when things can turn bad pretty quickly.

In the most simplest way, it's an interactive point and click experience chocked with a bunch of animation and quirky little funny bits that will keep you amused as you run around like a chicken with your head cut off managing a hospital. You need to make sure that your patients and employees are happy, that your employees are working and that your patients don't die. It all can be very difficult sometimes, as in my case I had about 12 nurses, 5 doctors, 3 assistants and 4 janitors. It was literally somewhat organized chaos.

You will encounter pop up missions such as 'You have 90 days to cure patients of 'insert name of disease/disorder' here. You will need to fulfill the requirements of said mission before activated. If you complete the mission on time you get Kudosh, the 'secondary currency' kind of like diamonds in a game on your cell phone like Candy Crush or Restaurant Story.

There are two people that you'll hear and read most through playing. I'd describe your intercom lady as the annoying woman that won't shut up. I get that its supposed to portray what you hear in a hospital, but I've actually been in a hospital recently, and the intercom lady in real hospitals vs the Two Point Hospital are polar opposites. Two Point Hospital is like a nagging wife that won't shut up. Yes Karen, I'm aware that you need a nurse in the general diagnosis office. You've only said it 8 times in a row already!

Albert Crank is that dude that pops up every once in a while to check in with you and let you know tips that will help you along with the process of building and managing your hospital. He essentially is the silent version of the intercom lady that is much more pleasant to see on the bottom of the screen repeatedly. The most common thing Albert Crank helps you with is letting you know when you may have too many staff on shift when they are idle, that you're not making your profit margins or that someone can't get to where they need to go. He can be helpful when you may overlook something you've been ignoring before a certain intercom lady chimes in.

When things go south... and TRUST ME, things will go south, you'll need a capable workforce to admit, diagnose and treat your patients. At your command, you have a team consisting of doctors, nurses, assistants and janitors. 4 out of the 5 staff members are pretty self explanatory. Assistants act as your receptionists that admit your patients into the hospital. If you're a manager or have a slight clue, you are aware how important it is to hire the most qualified and competent staff available. But, as every manager and owner wants the best staff available, that's not always the easiest thing to accomplish.

Now, on the topic of being a manager, hiring and firing is one of those jobs that most managers love and hate. It's a tedious process, and in Two Point Hospital, you may have to be a little more easy going on choosing your candidate. The staff member that has the best credentials will probably cost you a little more than the one with similar credentials but has quirks like 'Gets aggressive when unhappy'. Hiring only costs the recruitment fee whereas firing an employee could cost you thousands of dollars, as I was made aware that it costed thousands of dollars to fire an employee, so I became extremely aware of how many staff I had. If two or more of your staff members are idling walking around the hospital not doing actual work, you'll be notified. Damn, even virtual managers want their employees to work every minute of their shifts! Who would have known.

I found hiring my staff members wasn't exactly the easiest. The UI in the main menu for hiring staff wasn't really my issue, it was more the fact that I'd have to choose the best-worst person out of the worst. I found that if you pick the absolute best people from the get go, your staff options don't always reflect well after a while. But, that just might be a reality of Two Point Hospital. It's not a huge deal, but it makes it difficult sometimes trying to match up their qualifications and attitudes with your current team. I never fired anyone of my teams though, as I felt it was too much money to be firing people. As I didn't fire, I was extremely careful about hiring staff. I kept the levels rather steady as I kept the staff level at a reasonable level.

When you click on any staff member or patient during gameplay, you'll be able to see what they are doing, how hungry they are, how tired they are and how unhappy they are. This is critical for managing your hospital because consistently unhappy, tired, grumpy staff members will quit their jobs and patients will leave uncured in frustration or die from neglect from overworked, grumpy staff members. I feel like this is all common sense, but I feel it's important because you're legitimately managing.

One of the main parts of Two Point Hospital that I really enjoyed was building the rooms and placing the items within my hospital. Building the rooms are pretty straight forward; you select your blueprint and build the room as per the requirements. For example, to build a General Practitioner's Office you need a desk, a filing cabinet and a door. Then, the animation pops up that makes the room active within the hospital. I found activating the room to be very animated and thought that was a really nice touch. You have the option to make your rooms bigger but you must meet the minimum size which, I guess when you have to cram a bunch of rooms in a one floor hospital, space is literally everything. If you don't space out your rooms properly, your patients and employees can't get to their specified location and your hospital will more than likely lose profit.

The Rooms you will build are pretty simple. The General Practitioner's Office is a doctor's office. This is where you'll typically go first. If the doctor can treat you from there, you'll probably go to the pharmacy. If a simple trip to the pharmacy won't do, you'll go to the General Diagnosis room to get diagnosed by a nurse or doctor on duty. Some of the different rooms I encountered were normal hospital wards such as a De-Lux Clinic (treats light headed patients), Psychiatry, staff break rooms and bathrooms. As you progress your hospital, rooms will open up as you complete the main missions.

The items you have at your disposal while playing Two Point Hospital are pretty self explanatory. You have benches for your patients to sit, drink and food machines so your patients don't go hungry and thirsty and magazine racks so that your patients won't get bored. I'll just name these because there's over 25 items that I found, and the whole idea of items is to keep patient morale positive, to give prestige to your hospital and to give your hospital some character.

Two Point Hospital to me is one of those games that I will love for a very long time and I'm so glad I waited for it to come out on console. It was well worth the wait and easy to recommend because of how much fun it can be. I enjoy planning out how my hospital will look, how much staff I have on shift and how much money I'm planning on making. The graphics and animation alone are of good quality and it was so refreshing to play a great game that flowed very well, made sense and looked amazing all the way through. Now, I'm sorry, I gotta go. I need to deal with a group of patients coming in suffering from being lightheaded... oh well, off to the De-Lux Clinic!

Overall Score: 8.5 / 10 Glass Masquerade 2: Illusions

Have you ever wanted to plop down on your couch or bed after a long day at work and just play a puzzle game to unwind? I know I need something to relax from a busy day, whether it be popping in my headphones, free writing or playing a relaxing video game. Onyx Lute released Glass Masquerade 2: Illusions and I have to admit, I was interested right away. I usually love any game that doesn't require me to aim and fire at something. It also gets bonus points if it's engaging

Glass Masquerade 2: Illusions is one of those games that you will either like or not right away, without much middle ground. I personally am leaning more toward the 'don't like' part though. I will be talking about what I do like in a bit, but I'd like to get the negative out of the way first. It's not that I think Onyx Lute did a poor job, that the gameplay is horrible or that the graphics aren't good, I just feel like it's not my cup of tea. It may be someone else's though.

At its core, Glass Masquerade 2 is a puzzle game where you match all the puzzle pieces to complete a stained glass mosaic picture and end the level before moving onto the next. I found it very mundane, and although I wasn't expecting anything phenomenal or outrageous, there was a lot left to be desired after I played a handful of levels. The background music although there, wasn't present enough. If the music changed a little, it would have kept me a little more engaged and awake. Plus, scrolling through the puzzle pieces can be a little frustrating with the controller as after a while, they look all the same which made me a little frustrated.

I had gone through changing the difficulty from Normal to Hard and was quite confused as to what the true difference of the difficulties were. They both acted the same way as the other and Hard mode didn't really make the puzzle drastically harder. I expected the glowing puzzle shards to disappear and you'd just have to figure out what to do from scratch instead of getting the first ten puzzle shards handed to you on a silver platter. Although all of these reasons to me are enough for someone to possibly be completely turned off of Glass Masquerade 2: Illusions, I went back for the beautiful graphics and art style every time even though the overall gameplay experience didn't grasp my attention.

The overall gameplay is pretty simple. You select the puzzle you'd like to play and before you even press "A" to enter in, you can see how many shards comprise and make up the puzzle itself. If there are about 30-35 pieces, depending on how quick you are, you will probably be complete the puzzle in roughly 20 minutes. Personally, I had more of a problem seeing the actual puzzle even sitting up close to the TV. So, that may have been my main struggle and why I took so long. I absolutely love the detail and the complexity of the puzzles, but on the other hand, as I mentioned, having trouble seeing the small pieces was a little bit of a letdown.

As you select your shards, your pieces are already pre-determined for you as for the position, so you can't rotate the piece at all. I found this to be a little irritating because sometimes it's really hard to see where the lines all meet up and thus takes much longer. When you choose the wrong spot, the shard will go back to the place you picked it up from. When you choose the correct spot, it will sit in place and make a click noise. When complete, you will be able to see your work of art that you put together, which I found that to be a really nice detail. Regardless of my feelings toward Glass Masquerade 2: Illusions, I can't deny that Onyx Lute did very well with the graphics and art style. I love it when a developer puts their all in a game. I can tell that whomever was behind the visuals did their job well, from the main menu to the puzzles themselves; everything is colored perfectly.

Each puzzle changes the theme or artwork presented, so you'll never be bored in that perspective. There are 31 puzzles for you to get through. I thought at first that it would be a piece of cake to complete each one, but as you get into the later levels, you find out as the puzzles progress that they get harder and the shard count goes up. I'm very happy that Glass Masquerade 2 wasn't a one trick pony that kept everything at a certain amount of shards.

The amount of content is within is quite decent and I have no complaints with regards to that, especially since most puzzles, unless you're a puzzle wizard, will take you about 20-35 minutes to complete. I'd recommend this game to anyone who can see past the mundane nature of a puzzle game with a few quirks here and there. As for me, I'll leave the shards right where they are for now.

Overall Score: 6.4 / 10 Mosaic, The

I have to be honest; I wasn't expecting a whole lot when I started playing The Mosaic. I figured it was going to be like 'Little Nightmares' or 'Inside'. I wasn't expecting Krillbite Studios to make a game that had an impact on me personally. Not very many video games can impact me to the point where I have to reflect and really think, and they also don't usually bring with it the reality that I wasn't expecting to face while sitting on my bed at 8:00 PM at night.

As soon as you start playing you'll notice there's not much colour. There are some scenes of colour, and the fish and butterfly are vivid which I loved to see, but it has a very monochromatic tone overall. The environment in The Mosaic gives you the impression that life for this guy you're playing is depressing, sad and potentially heartbreaking. You find out from reading some text messages that he hasn't reached out to friends that have texted him, and that work keeps informing him that if he misses work he'll get his salary cut along with termination if he's late more than five times. I noticed right away that the guy you are playing doesn't have a name, nor have a voice, and all you can see of any form of identification is what I think is an employee number.

You'll wake up as your guy in his bed sleeping. Your phone goes off and you'll have to get out of bed. You have two options here. Option One is to play the game “Blip Blop” and Option Two is to commute and attend work. I'll talk about Blip Blop in a bit, I promise! The Mosaic's environment gives you an opportunity to walk around a very linear area, possibly a street in the city/town you live in. As you walk around, a gate could open, you could meet a musician playing his instrument in the park, you could save a helpless animal or you could keep walking and follow through until you get to work.

I don't know what you do for work, but your guy doesn't have an official title. He goes to some building, goes into a big room, logs into what seems to be a computer and selects a milestone to work on. These 'Milestones' must be met, and the way you complete these milestones are you must create little hexagon boxes with your resources (little squares that travel to and from the different hexagons). The goal of the 'milestones' puzzle is you have to get your hexagons all the way up to the “Milestone” for the completion. This can be a challenge, and I have to admit, it's quite frustrating until you figure out how to get to the milestone. At first, your milestone starts pretty basic, after a bit though you'll end up with a big red blob that will wreak havoc on your hexagon path for your resources. I didn't find out until about three or four milestone puzzles that you have to isolate the red blob. Which, I'm not going to lie, would have been nice to know through a mini tutorial. You get told what to do, but not exactly how to complete said task. You pretty much have to figure it out on your own. Hey, at least this is the most complicated out of the two main activities you'll be doing while in the world of Mosaic.

As I described the “Milestone” puzzle as being the most complicated, Blip Blop is quite easily the easiest part of Mosaic, besides the exploring your environment you've been put into. Blip Blop, for anyone who doesn't have a state of the art smartphone, is like 'Cookie Clicker', but ditch the cookie and you have blops instead. You have a few functions within Blip Blop. Your store, the main 'clicking' function and the “storage” box. The 'clicking' function is basically where you spam the A button to collect blops. Collect enough blops and you can spend them in the store. There are three things you can spend your blops on; your blops multiplier, a storage expansion for your storage box and your Score Level which basically levels up the amount of Autoblop you get. Autoblop is the amount of blop that gets added automatically to your storage box. Blip Blop seems to be quite a time killer honestly. To test out a curiosity of mine, I played Blip Blop for probably two hours straight when I awoke. I figured work would start messaging me that I was late or that I'd have some sort of repercussion on my part, but to my surprise, I was allowed to keep playing. Which, as an avid Candy Crush player, is fine. I'm used to grinding level after level, but it made me think a little differently upon the purpose The Mosaic was wanting to portray. I'll explain in a little bit, promise.

As The Mosaic is quite clearly a great work of art from the graphics and simplicity, that great work doesn't come without some weird glitches and UI issues. For one, as you're walking around any area of the environment, things can get quite choppy, especially if there's a lot going on. I found this not to be a dealbreaker, but somewhat concerning as the design doesn't seem very complex. Another fairly annoying glitch that I found was while playing Blip Blop. I would be collecting my blops, and all of a sudden, I'd have enough to redeem the blip multiplier. It repeatedly didn't process within the game that I had obtained enough blops though. It only happened with the blop multiplier. Again, not a dealbreaker, but a tad irritating. On the topic of Blip Blops, some of my achievements didn't populate within my Xbox account for whatever reason. I spent more than 100K Blops within a minute and I most definitely had my storage box full for much longer than 10 minutes. I don't expect a video game to be perfect, but when I'm so immersed within the environment and the activities, I would prefer that they work seamlessly.

After I played The Mosaic through, I reflected a little differently on this experience versus many others while reviewing. I identified strongly with the character. I've been in the very same situation he's been in; I've worked a job I've disliked just because I had to pay bills and rent. I figured that I was stuck and that there was no way out. It's the whole adult thing. You get up, go to work, come home, sleep. Rinse and repeat until the weekend. It's hard to keep upbeat and positive while you feel your life is just passing you by. But, I feel the fish you meet early on has a good point in mentioning that you should look at things from a different perspective and that you're missing out on what life truly has to offer. I feel like many of us, myself included, take our day to day for granted and we don't realize how lucky we truly are until it's too late. But, The Mosaic I think is trying to portray that it's not too late and it'll be okay. That speaks volumes to me as someone who battles with her mind all day long.

I was playing Blip Blop and instantly got hooked because it's the kind of game I like. It's mindless, not difficult and I get to level up. It's perfect for me. But then I'd play the day to day of the guy and it hit me when I went back to playing Blip Blop that it's not really doing him any good to be standing playing on his phone for hours (I literally played for hours). I could be exploring my city, learning a little more and enjoying myself. Being hooked to a cell phone hours and hours out of the day doesn't really do anyone any good. You don't accomplish anything, and maybe it's not what Krillbite Studios had in mind, but it's my interpretation of Blip Blop.

The Mosaic means to me that you can paint your own picture based on what you choose. If you choose to stay in your bubble, not taking chances or try anything new, you'll never grow and you'll stay miserable. If you choose to embrace what's around you, a whole other world opens up. With the glitches, UI issues and visuals aside, Krillbite Studios did well. The Mosaic is easily a game you need to try out and experience. As much as I want to keep playing Blip Blop, there's a whole world out there. Time to put the phone away for a while and do something different for a change.

Overall Score: 6.8 / 10 Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey

Ever since a young age I've been fascinated with animals. Whether they be domesticated or wild, I'm an animal lover. I've had dogs, cats, fish, guinea pigs, gerbils and hamsters. I saw Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey on Youtube one day and wanted it the second I saw it. Panache Digital Games developed this beautiful work and content that makes Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey everything it is. Have you ever dreamed of becoming a monkey at any point of your life? Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey will make your banana eating and tree swinging dreams come true.

You start as a baby monkey and are literally dropped into a jungle that's dark, eerie and unnerving. The dialogue literally tells you that you're on your own. All I could think is... 'Wait, what?'. You are a small baby monkey all alone in a jungle and are supposed to find your family. Even as a grown adult, I get anxious if I don't know where I'm going. So, I started walking around the jungle, and as I explored, silouettes of Hyenas start appearing. If Hyenas start appearing at anytime, that means the area you're in is unfamiliar or you haven't been there before. To me, that gives me the feeling that something could attack me at any moment.

Eventually, one of two things will happen; You will randomly hide somewhere and switch to an adult gorilla or you'll randomly find where you need to go as a baby monkey. As you progress the game will give you quests, and it's up to you to figure how to complete them. The game will prompt you to collect anything from leaves, berries, sticks and rocks. As you discover different things, you grow as an ape. The whole idea of Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey is to grow from a baby monkey to an adult one while exploring your environment, discovering new animals, objects and staying alive.

I have to be honest, the only thing I wasn't truly a fan of was the mechanics of Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey. Although I completely understand that the developers probably intended you to be completely clueless and figure things out, I feel like the tutorial should have been an actual tutorial, not a ten second pop up and then never is seen again. I feel that if you're going to make a video game that is designed to be completely hands off AND give the player an option to have a tutorial, follow through with said tutorial. Those who are brave enough to click 'No Tutorial' should be given just what they ask for.

You have two main functions as an ape mentally. You have Intelligence and Hearing. Intelligence, to put it simply, is your ability to see what's around you. Are there predators? Where is my next quest marker? (Well, if you're lucky to even get one) and the infamous 'Wait, what was I doing again?'. Oh that's right, I don't have any way to see what I'm supposed to be doing, only a quest pop up. Hearing is pretty straight forward, as it allows you to hear nearby predators and potential family members in the area. This mechanic comes useful when you're trying to find a member of your family.

From very early on in my gameplay I found myself to be very frustrated with the concept of Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey. There is no real linear experience unless you happen to stumble upon it. Another potential issue I ran into is as you're trying to complete Quest A, Quest C comes out of nowhere. Then, you have to complete Quest C and then hope to god you remember what Quest A was all about. The only word I can come up with is 'clunky' for its mechanics. The whole climbing up trees, swinging tree to tree like Tarzan or falling to your death is pretty awesome though. The whole main story could have taken a little more time in development to flesh things out a little bit more.

I truly enjoyed the graphics and audio during gameplay. From the start of Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey, the graphics and audio are spot on. It's amazing how much work went into the realism of the forests, the animals themselves and the content. It's quite amazing that so much detail on animals can be put into a video game so fluently. Although I don't remember most, if not all, of the technical names for the animals, I felt like it was a nice touch and I do really appreciate it when developers go above and beyond when it comes to smaller details. I'm the type of girl to play a game solely based on graphics and audio alone. That doesn't mean that I'm super critical of gameplay. When I see stellar graphics and audio, my expectations are automatically raised.

I do feel that if you're going to pick up Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey, prepare to be patient and be prepared to have zero help from the UI or prompts to help you along your journey. Ater playing this for an extended time, I feel like Hyena bait, not quite the queen of the jungle that I should. As I said above, when a video game isn't willing to at least teach you the basics before throwing you in the deep end of the jungle and waving you goodbye, that's a big red flag for me, a big red flag I can't ignore even with the graphics and audio being stellar.

Overall Score: 6.8 / 10 SIMULACRA

I am a person that is a big fan of technology. Whether it's the newest cell phone or my newest interest, smartwatches, I find technology fascinating with regards to how it has grown over the past decade or so. I remember when we used to have big giant cell phones and our old school televisions. Nowadays, cell phones and televisions are high tech and much smaller. We now have Smart TV's and Smart phones. I have never played a game like Simulacra before, developed by Kaigan Games and Wales Interactive.

I didn't actually pay attention to the trailer before I began playing, and I almost regret not paying more attention to it. I'm not a horror video game fan, as I get very anxious and anxious when a jump scare happens or if there are sudden loud noises (fireworks excluded). Based on that sentence alone, I don't do well with horror themed anything generally. I won't dare step foot into a haunted house or watch the newest IT or Child's Play movie. I promise you, all of this banter will make sense when I get into the gameplay and such.

As you begin your journey into the world of Simulacra, you are presented with a small window that looks somewhat like a phone screen. You are bombarded with a bunch of messages from a series of applications. My first instinct was to try to figure out whose phone this belonged to. Was it mine? You learn early on this phone belongs to a girl named Anna. After a few steps of going through the prompts, you watch a very distressed video of a girl that you can somewhat make out. But, honestly that video alone made me a little nervous. I'm going to put this out there right now, Simulacra is not for the faint of heart. I would recommend this game for someone who doesn't get scared of sudden loud noises or jump scares. Yeah, that someone is not me. However, as it's my duty to review what lands in my lap, I did my deed and continued on.

You will go through a few apps on Anna's phone like Jabbr (Twitter), Spark (Tinder) and her Mailbox. You'll talk with Anna's boyfriend (I assume) and her best friend Ashley. You'll learn more and more about the Why's and How's as you talk to them. Greg and Ashley in text message will give you tasks like opening Anna's email, opening Jabbr, talking with dudes on Spark and such. I personally didn't really take too much interest in the back and forth, as I found it a little mundane. Thankfully, there were a couple puzzles in Simulacra that made gameplay a little more entertaining. There are two puzzles I came across; one where you had to recreate a sentence and the other recreating a corrupted picture. You'll see that corrupted pictures will help you with uncovering clues within the quests Greg and Ashley give you. The corrupted picture puzzles were hands down my favorite.

Horror genre aside, I feel like 'Anna' did a very good job acting in the video clips. It didn't look very staged and appeared pretty real which made my experience that more eerie and nerve wracking. The overall graphic style isn't much to look at though. It's pretty plain and bare bones, just as if you're staring at your iPhone, Android and other smart devices. It's not a deal breaker by any means, just keep that in mind that isn't not much to look at. As for the audio, there's not much there either. The audio in the video clips is good, so no real issues there. There are static noises that freak me out every once in a while though, purposely meant to scare you.

Honestly, as I'm not a huge horror fan, I know a decent game when I play one. I have played games like Five Nights at Freddy's, Friday the 13th, and Dead by Daylight, which are solid. Simulacra is just a different type of horror. The mere thought that your cell phone could be watching you or screwing with you is haunting to me. I feel like with all this technology comes a lot of potential issues, such as hackers and things just going awry.

Simulacra is one of those games that you don't expect to be a horror game, but when you start playing, it's extremely clear that something's not right, and even for someone who usually steers clear of anything horror, I still enjoyed it. Was it my cup of tea? No. Was it mind-blowing to the point that I was speechless? Again, no. But, that doesn't mean you won't enjoy it! Folks that like horror will find this game very interesting and potentially creepy. I now feel I need to clear my cache, browser history and hope whatever was in Anna's phone doesn't come to mine.

Overall Score: 6.5 / 10 Tropico 6

El Presidente is back ladies and gentlemen and Tropico 6 is ready for the world to see! I did an article on the Game Preview of Tropico 6 back when it was in its beta phase and really enjoyed the game preview that Limbic Entertainment provided. The next question I had after playing the early version was "When does the real game get released?". I've taken a ton of time in ensuring Tropico 6 gets represented in the best way possible and that my writing is spot on. In short, I think Limbic Entertainment should give themselves a pat on the back. Even before I start explaining everything to you, you'll be impressed. I promise you.

Tropico 6 introduces itself on the main menu as many video games you and I have started playing. There's a really gorgeous background with the usual options. So, already my expectations are fairly high. I tend to like to start my gameplay as soon as possible, usually skipping any tutorial. Who needs them, right? Me and you. That's who needs it. At first, I didn't think I needed a tutorial to tell me how to essentially play a tropical version of Sim City, as I've played Sim City for hundreds of hours. So, I figured that Tropico 6 would be a piece of cake. Well, just like the Game Preview, I was very, very wrong. Sim City has NOTHING on Tropico 6. In my opinion, Tropico 6 overtakes Sim City on so many levels that I'd need a few hours to explain everything. Lucky for you, I have condensed all you need to know in this review. It's almost like Sim City is for beginners, and those of us who have previously are seasoned and have a firm grasp of it, will get Tropico 6.

Now, before you say "Well, Kirsten. What about new players that want to play Tropico 6?", Limbic Entertainment has you more than covered. In my opinion, if you don't know how to play Tropico 6 after playing through all five chapters of the tutorial, that's on you. The tutorial chapters consist of the basics of economy, citizens and politics, government, advanced economy and advanced gameplay. In Chapter 1: 'Basics of Economy', I learned quite quickly that I was in for a very in-depth experience with Tropico 6. Learning the basics is crucial for success within your island you're in charge of. You'll learn how to control your camera, how to speed up, slow down, pause or start your gameplay. Then, after you get the core 'bare bones' as I call it, you get into the good stuff. As you complete the tutorial chapters, you'll learn more and more about the islands you're in control of.

As I finished the tutorial chapters and wanted to start on the Campaign, I quickly noticed that Tropico 6 doesn't have a traditional Campaign mode. Rather, it has a set amount of missions you can complete. Once you unlock a mission, another one becomes available, and I found the missions to be very engaging. They kept my attention and the information I learned in the tutorial chapters really applied to the missions and made gameplay much easier to understand and execute. As you begin a mission, El Presidente will be featured in a short cutscene explaining the island you're about to step foot into. This is a nice touch, because after all, El Presidente is in my opinion one of the highlights of Tropico 6 and is polarizing.

If you want to be a successful dictator, you need a treasury for all your necessary expenses. There is one main way of making money in Tropico; producing good and exporting them. Your main team behind your export and trade success belongs to your dock and your teamster's office that essentially get the goods and deliver them so they can be exported. At the dock, they are stored until a freighter arrives. Without a teamster's office, no goods will get moved to and from the dock and you won't make money. Freighters come in and automatically load and export the goods stored in the dock, so you don't have to worry about that part. Your dock is a trans-shipment centre for logistics. It handles your importing and exporting of goods along with the immigration and emigration of your citizens. Your wish is a button press away and to the people of Tropico, your voice is the only one that matters. The more employees you have between your teamster office and dock, the more you can process through both buildings and make more money, though at a cost.

The UI in Tropico 6 is another highlight in Tropico 6 that took me by surprise. I've played games that had a very poorly designed UI making gameplay difficult, if not near impossible. I am happy to report, Tropico 6 has a very well designed UI, with the build menu as a wheel, it's easy for you to move around and choose what you need quickly. As you know, time is money, and in Tropico 6, money is important. You can't be a successful island without making some serious coin. The one nitpick that I didn't overall enjoy with the UI was the camera controls. While in the tutorial it was easy to learn, during gameplay I felt it was a little difficult to navigate to where I wanted to go. But, that's a very minimal gripe. I still thoroughly enjoyed Tropico 6 and everything it had to offer.

The only real negative I have about Tropico 6 is that I can't stand it when I get overloaded with options, quests and menus. While I thoroughly enjoyed navigating through the main wheel with all your building options, I found that finding the exact building I was looking for was a little difficult. I found this to be particularly annoying when I would be building one structure, only to move around a little and find that two or three buildings would be on fire. It makes managing an island really hard when you're buildings are on fire and you can't react quick enough because you're scrolling through an extremely detailed menu to find something else. There is no denying that Limbic Entertainment worked very hard thinking of damn near everything a dictator of an island needs to build and operate a functioning island at top performance, but it can be quite overwhelming, especially for someone brand new to the series or genre.

I loved “Missions” so much in Tropico 6 that I enlisted the help of my best friend to experience Tropico's Multiplayer mode. There's both co-op and online play. Compared to Tropico 6's “Missions” mode, Multiplayer mode follows the same quest base as the base “Missions” mode. You are able to tweak your political influences such as your election speech and catering to certain trade countries. Multiplayer though feels much more overwhelming than “Missions” mode ever was. At the beginning, I wasn't told how Multiplayer works. What's different about Multiplayer than Mission mode? How are the tasks and quests divided up amongst and your team of up to four players? While I was building, I know for about ten minutes, my best friend was having some serious issues finding out how to get power to his buildings.

Naturally, he leaned on me a little and asked how to do it. Then, I realized, in “Missions”, I never had that problem of no power, so I was just as curious as he was. The descriptions of the buildings are the same as “Missions” mode, but if there's the icon floating above, it doesn't necessarily tell you what action that building needs, which personally left me frustrated and confused, unsure how to solve the problem. In “Missions”, you were pretty much hand held and given enough time to navigate and figure things out. I can't say the same for Multiplayer because at one point, we lost the match and not really sure why. Tropico 6 is a game where time and money mean everything. If you're struggling to find out why you're building isn't powered, you could lose the game in a matter of minutes if you don't act quickly. Overall, I'd steer clear from Multiplayer unless you and your friends have a moderate grasp of Tropico 6's mechanics and systems. Multiplayer mode left me with more questions than answers to be honest.

Limbic Entertainment has done a great job overall, and Tropico 6 is a fantastic addition to the strategy genre. With the amount of content in the “Missions” mode alone, I feel it's well worthwhile to try it out if you're a fan of the genre. Some gamers may thrive in a game that literally gives you every option you could ever think of in addition to a ton of quests and challenges to keep you on your toes. Although I didn't care too much for Multiplayer, I thoroughly enjoyed the core campaign 'missions' and really enjoyed learning how the entire game works through the tutorial chapters. I'm sorry I have to cut this short, I need to tend to my citizens because I know what's best for them!

Overall Score: 7.5 / 10 Bradwell Conspiracy, The

When I saw Bradwell Conspiracy's trailer for the first time, I was instantly interested. I love narrative games, I like a good puzzle or two and I enjoy a relaxing adventure. Bossa Studios is the developers behind TThe Bradwell Conspiracy, and right off the bat it was a decent experience when I began. As the game progressed, I began experiencing some game-breaking glitches that made one puzzle extremely frustrating and another was a game-breaker, as I could not complete the task I was tasked with. As I struggled with the glitches, I started to get very concerned that I would not be able to finish Bradwell Conspiracy.

The story begins as you wake up from being thrown to the ground by an earthquake. Your “guide”, who is essentially the narrative of the entire gameplay, takes you through a simple tutorial about how the movement mechanics work in TYhe Bradwell Conspiracy. You unfortunately cannot talk due to smoke inhalation though. You have smart glasses on that is your sole communication with your guide, your companion Amber and to take pictures. Amber is another survivor in the museum that acts as a second pair of eyes. You do not see her, as the idea is she's in another part of the museum and you're trying to find and get to her. The core gameplay involves you wandering around travelling location to location following the directions of your guide. This is one of the two things you'll mainly be doing while playing The Bradwell Conspiracy. The other main objective is completing puzzles. Some are very simple and others... well, I'll get into that in a bit.

I feel like Bossa Studios took a big risk in creating The Bradwell Conspiracy. The visuals are by far the best thing Bradwell Conspiracy has going for it. It's nothing phenomenal, but it's notable that they impressed me just enough. Another area where I feel Bossa Studios excelled was the background audio, even if there wasn't much of it. However, the background sound as you moved around the areas was realistic as to what I would imagine being in a building that was about to crash down on top of me would be like.

If I had to choose between the guide and your companion Amber, I would rather have no guide whatsoever and just have Amber talking to me. I feel like the guide's voice is too repetitive and it's as if he is constantly talking, making it very hard to concentrate and focus on the task at hand. Amber's voice comes in, and although her voice chimes in quite a bit, her voice doesn't feel so irritating and ear piercing. This is obviously a personal preference, but one that I have to note.

There is a serious problem with the movement mechanics that didn't appear to be a big issue until I progressed a little further into gameplay. While I'm playing, I noticed that my character all of a sudden would be moving to the right until I stopped at the wall. I would correct it by moving to the left and I would go right back to the right again. It's a very gradual movement, so if you're not paying attention or trying to stand in one spot to interact with something, you may miss it. But trust me, you'll run into this glitch sooner or later, as I was unable to escape it. It's a real let down because in puzzles, your movement could be the difference between you failing the puzzle repeatidly or completing the puzzle.

I usually enjoy a good puzzle or two, even if it's difficult. I love figuring out the solution. The Bradwell Conspiracy's biggest puzzle is how are you supposed to complete them? I am very aware that the idea of a puzzle is to figure it out, but what happens when you CAN'T figure it out? There are two puzzles that I had referenced above; One is where you have to print three cats and three dogs on five different platforms. Now, before I give you too much detail or confuse you, there's a device that is something like a '3D printer'. You place the items stored in your device as blueprints so you can print them at your command. So, long story short, the three cats and three dogs puzzle doesn't really have the appropriate execution for it to make sense. You'd think that you can just put three cats and three dogs on separate platforms and call it a day right? No. I tried putting one cat and one dog on each of the platforms and that didn't work. Finally, after about 20 minutes, the puzzle allowed me to put three cats and three dogs on two platforms. It's almost like it glitched out and I sat there on my bed wondering what I did wrong. Before, I couldn't put multiple cats or dogs together and randomly, then boom, I could. Talk about frustrating.

The second puzzle that was the ultimate game breaker was the puzzle where there was a lava floor. You had to create flooring planks from your gun and walk across to the other side. I thought to myself 'this is going to be a piece of cake. I've got this'. Well, I hit a huge road block with no solution. I was able to create two flooring planks and then repeatedly was unable to create more for some unknown reason. During puzzles, sometimes Amber helps, but if you're at this puzzle she's suddenly quiet.

It saddens me when I see a game is very good graphically have so many glitches and issues with the gameplay. I feel like if more time was spent focusing on the puzzle experience, The Bradwell Conspiracy would be a fantastic experience for those who are veterans and newcomers to a narrative first person game. Right now, as it stands, I cannot score Bradwell Conspiracy any higher than where it is right now due to the problems that blocked my completion. I can see the idea and concept Bossa Games was going for and unfortunately this won't be a conspiracy I'll be recommending you delve into.

Overall Score: 5.0 / 10 A Knight’s Quest

I don't think it's a big secret that I love a good action and adventure video game. I find happiness in progressing through a story, levelling up my character, upgrading weapons and exploring an expansive world. I saw the trailer for a Knight's Quest and automatically thought of Legend of Zelda and Ratchet and Clank. Sky9 Games has really done a good job in combining an expansive world with a good amount of charm in the dialogue and decent gameplay. I won't say it's perfect, but it's a notable effort.

You start your journey meeting Rusty, an adventurer entering a dungeon. It's here where you learn the base mechanics and get to put them to practice. While at the end of the dungeon, you see a big pink crystal raise into the air and you're teleported into the main world where the crystal has made its home in the sky. As you awaken, townsfolk are talking amongst themselves regarding how they are to destroy the crystal. The mayor of the town suggests someone finds the Spirit Knights, which is precisely when Rusty gets nominated to find them. This is essentially where the actual story begins.

The majority of your time with A Knight's Quest will be completing the mandatory quests, exploring dungeons and other areas of the map. For the most part, this was an enjoyable experience. Along the way, you'll collect berries and bandages that will increase your health bar. There are also a few different kind of bombs you can throw at enemies. While on the route to unlocking a Spirit Knight, you'll first have to defeat a boss of some form. The difficulty of the boss fights will depend on how quickly you learn their move patterns. In the first boss fight for the Spirit Knight of the Wind I died a few times, so it takes some practice.

After unlocking a Spirit Knight, you unlock a corresponding special magic. For example, the Spirit Knight of the Wind grants you the ability to have a 'Tornado coming out of your arm'. This magic helps for opening gates. The one thing I wished for this ability was a small tutorial on how to actually do so with said gates. In the very beginning, there was nothing telling me to use my tornado magic. So, I was pushing, pulling, smashing, hitting and throwing bombs at this gate switch for what felt like a half hour or more. Nothing worked until I accidentally hit the button that controlled the tornado magic. I wasn't very happy to say the very least.

The character dialogue and story are well written and there were many times were I'd be laughing reading the dialogue. Sky9 Games did really well in making the narrative and dialogue entertaining. A Knight's Quest was very refreshing and I was happy that I was engaged in the story and characters so early into gameplay. The audio was a welcomed addition to compliment the story, gameplay and dialogue. It was happy and cheerful most of the time unless there were enemies nearby or in a boss fight, which has you trapped by the purple wall. I wish everything in a Knight's Quest was as happy as the music.

There are a few things though that I wasn't overly happy with. You will defeat enemies, break open crates and barrels to get loot and coins. Quite often, you will be able to collect the coins, but when these little bags appear, it doesn't matter what you do, you can't pick them up. You can only have five of an item in your inventory at one time. However, you can't tell what you're getting in these bags, so how are you to know what you're looting? If you pick a berry or a bomb up, you get a notification that says you can't pick that item up. But, if you try to chase around a little bag, you get no notification that you can't pick it up. They get ignored as if they aren't even supposed to be there. If I have problems with the items, the combat has to be solid... right?

The Combat in a Knight's Quest is interesting. I want to say that it's a positive, but unfortunately it's just not. I usually am a big fan of button mashing, but in A Knight's Quest, it was a little much. I feel like all I do is button mash and hit the other button to use my tornado arm which regretfully doesn't do as much damage as you'd think. That was a little bit of a letdown, as I expected a little more depth.

Overall, a Knight's Quest has a lot of charm, happiness and heart to it. The huge world Rusty is in is fantastic, leaving you wondering where you'll wander next. However, I wasn't a huge fan of the inventory system as the 'glitches' seemed to make picking up certain items impossible. I also wasn't a huge fan of button mashing and having abilities that really didn't have that much power, but I did enjoy the experience overall regardless of these issues. I would recommend folks that are wanting to try out a Knight's Quest just be aware of the glitches and the style of combat. Other than that, I am going to let Rusty adventure on his own for a while.

Overall Score: 6.5 / 10 NASCAR Heat 4

I remember playing Nascar Heat 3 last year and thoroughly enjoying it. I have fond memories of watching Nascar races and being amazed with how fast the cars were going. So, I know a thing or two about the world of Nascar, but I have yet to watch a Nascar race still, even on TV! Life is busy, ya know? Anywho, with Nascar Heat 4 released to the public, I was pretty excited to review it. They have slightly changed a few things from the previous outing, which I'll get into in a bit here. The real question I'm going to answer here is: "Is Nascar Heat 4 a welcomed and worthy Sequel?".

You are a new race car driver; congratulations! I've played a few Nascar games in the past and I can say with confidence I know my way around your typical Career Mode. In the first screen after entering Career Mode, you'll see “Start My Career”, “Custom Start” and “Career Options”. “Start My Career” essentially brings you into a full career of all the race series within Nascar Heat 4. You start from whatever series the game chooses for you, though you're not in control of the order of the series you get in this option. “Custom Start” means that you can handpick the series you want. You have four series to choose from: Xtreme Dirt Tour, Gander Outdoor Truck Series, Xfinity Series and Monster Energy Series.

Xtreme Dirt Tour means that you're on a dirt race track in a car. I started my first play through with this series and either I am a HORRIBLE racer on the dirt, or the traction settings were all over the place in my car. I honestly didn't spend any time in the settings to try to figure it out because I just chose to restart the career and chose “Custom Start”, where I could only pick asphalt race tracks. I'm not going to lie, I did a little better with my car traction wise, but I still sucked pretty bad in the beginning. Gander Outdoor Truck Series is what it sounds like. Instead of a car, you're obviously driving a truck, and I was very neutral with this series. Like Xtreme Dirt Tour, I spent very little time in this series. Xfinity and Monster Energy Series are very similar. Both have you in race cars and are on asphalt. These two I spent the most time in, as I played what I was most familiar with. To each their own with their preference with tracks and styles of driving honestly.

After that, you get to create your driver. Now, I'm usually the gamer who takes a lot of time in creating my character and taking pride in how he or she looks. Not this time around considering there is no option to be a female driver, which isn't a deal breaker, though I'm going to be honest, I may have simply missed that option entirely, but I usually enjoy being a female character in video games. The options are rather basic, which is to be expected nor really disappointing. I consider myself lucky to have the option to create my own driver as some racing games don't give you that luxury.

Next, a tablet pops up on your screen and you've made the story of the week! It's a nice touch that is a 'take it or leave it' kind of deal. You next meet your agent and he says his speech about how he represents great racers like you. Your agent will ask you a few questions and you will have the option to opt out of certain series if you choose not to play in them. After you meet your agent, you either get to 'Join a Team' or 'Start a Team', but I simply stuck with joining a team. I tend to steer clear of starting my own team even though I'm a very self motivating individual in real life, I am not one in video games. Just let me join a team and let's get racing. You then get to choose between three team contracts that vary in payout per race, with the make of your vehicle and the managers who run your team. There may be a few managers or there may be only one, it all depends on your team. You then have two options, replace an existing driver on the team or drive your own car.

After all your paperwork is signed and your agent sends you on your way, you have to pick an Incentive Contract. To put it simply, if you finish three races at the Top 35 each time, you get a special payout. The more difficult the contract, the higher up on the ranks of the race you have to get to, such as Top 25 or 20. For some, this will be a cakewalk. For people like me, I'll stick to the Top 35. As you pick your first event to race, you'll know right away what track you're going to partake in. There will be two steps you need to complete before you are allowed to race with the big guns. You'll need to practice and then qualify for your spot in the actual race. I found this to be a nice touch, as most race games you play, you just jump into a race and you're off to the races; pun intended. The practice and qualifying will have a goal time that you need to meet to proceed to the next stage of the race. As you get into the actual race, there are about 30 other racers with you and is how a typical race starts. I mentioned briefly before that I'm not an all star console race car driver. I'm pretty average but I enjoy playing racing games because they are straight forward and not complicated.

One major criticism I have for Nascar Heat 4 is it lacks action while in any race from the other drivers. From a very young age, I've known Nascar to be action packed with the crashes, the loud crowds and the announcers talking. Nascar Heat 4 has very loud engines and can be described as lackluster at best. It feels as though Nascar Heat 4 lacks the passion, inspiration and attitude that I know Nascar has. When I got into a crash with another car, I saw really no actual “crash” or consequence.

It was more like when you are driving a shopping cart and you accidentally hit another persons shopping cart lightly. After the “crash”, you're allowed to keep going, as there is no damage shown on your car either. When you watch a Nascar race, you simply know it's a Nascar race. You can feel it just by listening to the background, the cars that are driven and the drivers on the track. Even when I had finished a race, the one thing I did think was pretty interesting was that you have drivers commenting on your great (or lack of) driving skills. You were able to either retaliate in a negative way or apologize. If I had to choose between a career mode to play again, I'd choose Nascar Heat 3 over Nascar Heat 4 without a doubt, which is an odd revelation after my time with Heat 4.

Challenges are one of my favourite parts of the Nascar Heat series. These challenges range from 'You're in third, get to first place within this length of the race track' to 'You're in 15th place, a crash is about to take place right in front of you. Get through that crash without becoming a part of the crash”. I find these challenges to be a lot of fun and challenge. They make you work for a little reward at the end. Nascar Heat 4 did very well here and I'm really happy with how that it turned out.

Online Multiplayer requires that you have no driving aids and you go into a queue. The queue has room for ten players, but the race will start once the timer runs out. During my time with Online Multiplayer, I had no lag which was a pleasant surprise. I played for a couple hours and had a blast doing it against much better drivers.

I have to be completely honest, I spent 98% of my time with Career Mode. I enjoy Career Mode the most in the Nascar Heat series and feel that overall it's generally a solid experience. This time around though, I'm not sold on the overall racing experience of Career Mode, which leaves me somewhat disappointed. My standards are usually very high for video games I know very well and I had high hopes that Nascar Heat 4 would be a great sequel. Now, I'm not even sure that this sequel is worth while knowing the main part of Nascar Heat 4 feels like an afterthought. I'm gonna go into the pit stop for a while and think about this.

Overall Score: 7.0 / 10 Vambrace: Cold Soul

Devespresso Games has outdone themselves, and I mean that wholeheartedly. The amount of work that went into Vambrace: Cold Soul is without a shadow of a doubt amazing. Never have I ever had a video game experience quite like this. As with everything, our experiences come with negatives and positives, but, I have to say I'm impressed overall. I have to be honest though, as I became a little bit overwhelmed with what Vambrace: Cold Soul has to offer.

You play as Evelia Lyric, a girl seeking to enter Icenaire. Her father who has passed away left her an ancient relic and journal that gives her Vambrace; a powerful magic. It's Evelia's job now to find a way into Icenaire, though not without help. During your time at the camp, you meet so many people, including the head of the camp, Celest. You choose your team and proceed with the main narrative. Gameplay was pleasant overall and I was able to get rather far into Vambrace: Cold Soul.

Your team while travelling in between quests and destinations will be the difference between life or death. Each of your teammates have four major skills that will help, or hinder, you on your journey to Icenaire. Sleight allows you to scavenge well. Merchantry is the ability to negotiate with merchants. Awareness is the ability to detect anything that will put you in immediate danger such as traps, and Overwatch is the ability to care for your team while camping. The higher these four skills are, the more likely that the skill will be useful. For example, if you have a teammate with high sleight, the higher the chances that you'll get good loot. If your teammate has low sleight, chances are you'll get a mock chest and wind up with a trap, or they will struggle with unlocking the chest.

Vambrace: Cold Soul is unlike any other game I've played with combat. It is a tad complex for my liking, but, I have to give credit where credit is due. The developers really took a lot of care and attention to creating the combat system. I'll try to be as simple as possible, but I'm not joking about its complexity. At the start of a fight, you and your team will be on the left side of the screen, and the enemies on the right. You will have two main skills, default skills and flourish skills. Default skills come with your character, while flourish skills are much stronger. These are powered up by flourish points.

There are three kinds of skills in default combat. Short ranged skills are only available while positioned in the 1st or 2nd slot and can only target enemies in those slots. Mid ranged skills can be used in any position but can only target 1st or 2nd slots. Finally, Long ranged skills can be used in any position and can target any enemy. You continually hit your chosen enemy and the fight is done when your or the enemy team dies. Combat in the beginning was rather easy, though around the three hour mark, things got a little more difficult and really made me work for a win in a fight. The types of enemies you'll run into commonly are going to be Spooks, which are green ghost looking dudes and are fairly easy to defeat.

Vambrace: Cold Soul is GORGEOUS. Without a hesitation, this is easily the most impressive part of the game. I love beautiful graphics, and there's something about indie games that makes me really appreciate the people that made this beautiful work of art. Whether you like the game or not, it's hard to deny that heart and soul that went into creating Vambrace: Cold Soul. I grasp the concept Devespresso Games was presenting me, but that didn't come without a slight curve ball that I don't foresee myself getting past.

As I've gushed about above, I love the dedication and hard work Devespresso Games put into Vambrace: Cold Soul. However, I feel that I can't finish this review without talking about the one single thing that really truly bothers me about it; the character dialogue and the way they chose to lay everything out for the player. From the very beginning, you are given an extreme amount of information, starting from the tutorial, to the cut scene with Evelia talking about her father and the numerous tutorial graphics that you can't bypass. Within my first hour of gameplay, I was feeling very overwhelmed and forgot most of what I was told in the early minutes. That to me is troubling.

I am the type of gamer that needs to get ingrained in the story and characters I'm playing. I didn't feel connected with the story nor the characters. Character dialogue while in game is non-existent other than sudden noises from the characters or grunts. I wasn't a huge fan of reading the entire first hour of gameplay only to find out the cut-scenes were all voiced. I have criticized games in the past for a lack of tutorial and character dialogue, but this is a case where there is just too much. I feel like if the dialogue was dialed back a little, even if the characters actually spoke, it wouldn't be so overwhelming for me. But that's just my personal preference.

I'm not the type of gamer that likes to sit in front of my TV and read constantly while playing a video game. I'm also not a gamer that works very well with complex combat mechanics, even though I enjoyed Vambrace: Cold Soul's thoroughly. Although I was not a fan of the dialogue, I still enjoyed it. I freelance write in my spare time and I know how much heart it takes to write something with this much depth.

Vambrace: Cold Soul has amazing qualities about it, particularly the graphics, UI and combat. If someone were to ask me a week from now, I'd still recommend Vambrace: Cold Soul. The amount of detail is fascinating to me. I'm gonna get out of here before a Spook gets to me. See ya!

Overall Score: 7.0 / 10 Headspun

Have you ever wondered what happens inside your head? I mean, I have. Especially when I watch movies like Inside Out. I wonder if there are people running my head like a well run business, much like in Superstring and Wales Interactive's newest venture, Headspun. Headspun is a 2D Platformer with a focus on FMV (Full Motion Video). I've reviewed a few FMV titles previously and I've loved them, so the expectation early on in was that Headspun would keep the ball rolling with a phenomenal FMV experience.

During your gameplay, you are playing Ted, the Director of a human named Theo's Cortex (his brain). Theo had an unfortunate car accident and has been in a coma for the last five weeks. For those who have been through such a life altering event, you can imagine how Theo has been affected emotionally, mentally and physically.

Fortunately, Theo wakes up from the coma and he's lost pretty much all of his memory. Things in the Cortex are rough, so much so that his Cortex looks like a bomb went off. Most of your team are dead, few have survived and it's your job, along with the help (or lack thereof) of your partner Teddy, to essentially fix Theo. Ted and Teddy have very different roles to play in the Cortex. Ted is Theo's decision making and logical thinking. Teddy is essentially Theo's emotional impulses. Teddy is rarely a help to Ted, making it a little difficult to make choices sometimes. I think of Ted being the Angel and Teddy to be devil. Ted wants to do what's best for Theo at all times and Teddy wants to make decisions based on whatever he's feeling at that moment. I don't think I have to tell you how that could impact Theo in the long run, both good and bad.

There are two main goals of Headspun, get the Cortex running 100% again and help Theo regain his memories that he's lost since the car accident. Now, this is where things get a little overwhelming. For most of Headspun, Ted will be working on what are called 'Shifts'. They start when Ted wakes up to when Theo goes to bed. It's your responsibility to make the most of your shift. You must learn rather quickly how to run the Cortex like a business. You need to hire staff, complete daily activities, complete quests and manage finances.

Now, this may not sound like a lot of work, because at first I thought it was a piece of cake. Your currency that is like our money out here in the real world, called 'Neurocredits'. You will use Neurocredits to help get the Cortex up and running, hire staff and to obtain Research & Development projects for your staff to complete. Neurocredits are obtained by completing daily activities that benefit Theo's recovery mentally and physically, which will count towards the Cortex's overall recovery. These activities will also help Theo's patience levels that will let you “play” the activities longer and longer as you progress.

Most of your time with Headspun will be in the Control Room. That's where you will oversee your finances, delegate tasks to your staff and do all Theo's activities that I have mentioned briefly before. I'm going to be super honest here. I don't know why the finance page is an option. I understand its to potentially increase your Neurocredit balance, the patience levels and such, and it's a good idea, though it could have been left out. Especially since I really saw no real change. Delegating tasks to staff are pretty bare bones. You choose to summon them to the control room, they appear a few seconds later and you can choose to talk, give them a task or dismiss them. Most of the time, you'll be giving them a task which will be triggered by opening your quests and clicking around the environment as you walk down the hallways.

If I had to choose, the FMV experience was a pretty unique one. In the Control Room, you have a screen that shows you all your data and your live feed of Theo unless he's asleep; then you can't see anything. Theo's live feed is either him staring at a dresser, moving his head a little or interacting with his doctor, his estranged friend Jack or the police. I felt that this was the coolest part of Headspun. Video feeds get a little repetitive though, as the only time it changes are when new parts of the story open. The actors were pretty good and I didn't have any real problem with the main story.

Headspun seems to have a few issues that are glaring like those bright LED headlights cars have nowadays. You know, the ones where you as a driver can barely focus while driving while the guy behind you has his LED's shining in each of your mirrors. Headspun's UI has more than one weird glitch that makes it almost impossible to play. While in the Control Room, the screen that shows you all the data takes FOREVER to load that you're in there. Then, basic actions like scrolling to the next tab was sometimes a struggle. Your activities will be constantly interrupted because the actions you are trying to make on your controller won't make it to the game in time for the activity to complete.

You'll be trying to select something on the staff page and you'll have to go back and forth on tabs to reset this. It can be extremely frustrating. So much so that I have to constantly close the entire game and reboot it. This rarely gives me a solution. Not to mention, travelling between the two floors I was allowed access to were confusing to navigate. Even with the “help” of your tablet, I found walking around the floors somewhat easier as fast travel wasn't always really operating properly.

Have you ever watched a movie, TV show or a cut-scene from a video game to find out you're on a cliffhanger? I can't stand them. I know they are a useful device and it creates suspense, but it still breaks my heart a little when I have to wait for the next episode or movie. During about hour six of gameplay, you'll find that there's a bit of glitch. As a gamer with some experience under her belt, I used every trick I know. Nothing worked. I was in the middle of finding Teddy a present because he felt I owed it to him. Long story short, I found myself without a way to finish that quest, and unfortunately, I couldn't progress any further overall. We reached out to the developer and was told that a patch would be forthcoming in the future. I waited a few days after the expected patch was to be live, multiple times, but the same problems persisted.

Because of this game breaking bug, it really upsets me that I can't have the full Headspun experience and complete the game. The story was getting really good too! I had just hit what I thought was the climax and I got really excited. But then, shortly after, I was met with a brick wall of disappointment. I was ready to score Headspun much higher than what it received, but unfortunately without the ability to progress and continue Theo's story, my hands are tied. Theo's recovery might be a little longer than anticipated.

Overall Score: 5.0 / 10 Forbidden Arts, The

It's very rare that I get overly enthusiastic while watching a videogame trailer. I watched the trailer for The Forbidden Arts, as I always do with any game I am considering to review (unless I'm familiar with the series or developer). The trailer looked fantastic and the music fitting for the environment I saw. The graphics appeared phenomenal, and from watching the trailer, I was so excited that I demanded I get The Forbidden Arts, but I got a little too enthusiastic before I even launched the game for the first time.

Forbidden Arts is an action adventure platformer made by indie developer Stingbot Games. When I launched The Forbidden Arts for the first time, the first thing that came to my mind was that its visual style was like a game from the original Playstation era, but with a polished look. Almost like it's an old school game from 10 years ago that got remastered for current gen. That's the probably best way I can describe the artistic style. Long story short, it's beautiful. The music is also fitting for the type of game The Forbidden Arts is. It's pleasant to listen to and not too annoying that it drives you crazy after a few hours of gameplay.

You play as Pheonix through your time with The Forbidden Arts. Through your journey with him, you'll talk with towns folk, kill spiders, witches, bears, wolves and more with your blade, and also Phoenix's newest elemental power, fire, that you'll receive shortly after completing your first quest. You'll go up and down ladders, climb vines and dodge spikes. While travelling between locations, there's also a small 'open world' concept to the navigating. I really like that the overall world that Phoenix is straightforward and simple, though some might see it as too linear.

With an old school way of game development in mind, combat I feel unfortunately isn't much to experience. You press a button or two and repeat until your enemy is defeated or you die. Video games fifteen years ago didn't have all the sharp, beautiful graphic touches and technology that current generation video games have today, which is fine, as I'm more than happy to acknowledge that this may have just been the way Stingbot Games wanted for The Forbidden Arts, possibly as a homage. I personally like combat to be more of a challenge, something I feel a sense of accomplishment when I defeat an enemy. If you like the old school ways of games back fifteen years ago, then you will LOVE The Forbidden Arts. It'll be like a blast from the past with a new coat of polish on it.

While playing, you'll have a mini map on your top right, showing you where you're going. One thing I found out quickly about The Forbidden Arts was that the more you discover and explore the areas you're in, the more you'll find and uncover. I find I like these types of games best because it makes me want to play more and more. You'll find these gold blocks and gold coins on your paths, but I never found out why you needed them, but it was rewarding to have items to collect.

As a gamer who is constantly trying new games that are out of her comfort zone, it's important that a tutorial shows me the ropes of the video game I'm playing. The Forbidden Arts gives you a short tutorial of the basic controls which are very straightforward and easy to understand. However, while encountering your first quest defeating the Griffith and retrieving its feather, I found that The Forbidden Arts didn't really give you a tutorial on how to defeat bigger enemies.

For the next hour or so, I jumped off the platform and tried everything I could think of to defeat the Griffith. I was frustrated. I took a break for a few hours and when I found out what the solution was, I wasn't all that impressed. I don't expect to have my hand held through gameplay, but I do expect some form of walk through in the first ten minutes while I'm still learning what I'm doing. Especially if that's what most of the game is going to entail.

The main story I did find to be all that interesting. It is by no means a bad story, but I definitely wasn't as engaged as I wanted to be. It's a typical trope where there's a bad guy and eventually you're going to run into him and you'll need to defeat him type of a story. I feel like a part of the reason I wasn't so engaged with the story was that you had spoken character dialogue and then other times when you were talking to a character but having to read instead. This is not at all a deal breaker for me, but the inconsistency stood out.

It's very rare when I can't get past the first few hours of a video game. I'm no professional gamer by any means, but I take pride in doing the best I can with what I am given. As per my gaming style, The Forbidden Arts is not my type of game, as I didn't mesh well with the combat and the overall gameplay experience. However, with all my experiences aside, those whose game style this matches should have a phenomenal time with it. I fell in love with the visuals, music and the overall concept of The Forbidden Arts; that's what drew me into it in the first place. With that being said, I don't forbid you from trying The Forbidden Arts out for yourself. This one was just not my cup of tea.

Overall Score: 6.0 / 10 Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

I feel bad for taking this long with Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. However, a phenomenal game such as this needs a review that showcases it properly and thoroughly out of respect for developers ArtPlay, WayForward and Inti Creates. Oh, and who can forget Koji Igarashi, the former Castevania series Producer, the man who led the development. To say I had a good time on Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night would be a massive understatement. It's so good that it now has my top one spot in my favourite game list. For a game to take out both Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild AND Forgotton Anne, you've got to have something that is rock solid. That's exactly what Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is from the very start. I loved every minute I spent with Miriam and the extensive character list that Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night offers us.

Miriam is the main protagonist whom you'll be playing through Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. She is an 18 year old Shardbinder who has been frozen in time for 10 years. The Alchemy Guild took her as a young child, implanting her with a crystal that grants her with demonic powers. The Alchemy Guild had planned to sacrifice her to the demon summoning, but she fell into a deep sleep and was spared. She's woken up now, but there's a big problem; Gebel, a man she saw as a brother, may have opened the gates of Hell again, and I don't think I need to tell you that's not a good idea.

The overall story, without giving away anything major, revolves around Miriam and a few people she's met in the beginning of her journey through the Hellhold are tasked with now having to stop Gebel from opening up the gates of Hell again. If I had a slight criticism about Bloodstained, it would be that I am not a huge fan of the story, though not for any one particular reason. I have to be honest, I feel like the gameplay being stopped due to listening to characters talk is a little much sometimes, but that's me being extremely picky.

A big part of your journey with Bloodstained is collecting these things called Shards, essentially condensed demonic power in the form of a crystal. Sometimes when you destroy a demon in the human world, the power left over from the demon's death will form into a Shard that you will then possess through the Shard entering your body. There are 4 types of Shards; Conjure, Directional, Skill and Passive. Conjure Shards are the most common. They are essentially attacks on enemies, such as a strong gust of wind. Directional Shards are what they sound like; you point to something and the demonic power comes out of your hand to whatever you're aiming at, such as fire. A Passive shard is a power that takes effect as you equip it, as it doesn't consume any MP and improves Miriam's physical capabilities. Skill Shards grant special abilities and do not take up any of your shard slots or use MP.

With these different types of Shards comes a grade and rank, where the grade indicates a Shard's power and effect. Each duplicate Shard you collect increases that Shard's grade, up to a maximum of 9, which can come in handy when you have bosses and demons with higher HP. You can also increase a Shard's rank by enhancing it through alchemy.

Johannes, one of your friends on your journey, will be in charge of the Alchemy and the enhancing part of Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. I have to be 1000% honest, as I didn't craft or enhance much of anything. I probably should have, but crafting and enhancing was definitely an afterthought for my playstyle. Thankfully for me, crafting and enhancing was not a mandatory requirement of the main story, it just helps you get more potions and enhances your weapons. It may be really cool to some, but I was completely content just exploring.

You might be wondering what a Shardbinder is. A Shardbinder is a term used for people like Miriam who have been implanted and possessed with the crystal. The crystal, as cool as it sounds to have demonic powers and all, has a negative impact that is irreversible. Once implanted and possesses a human body, it infests into the body. If you leave it alone and let it run its course, the human body can become corrupted. One of Miriam's friends, Johannes, has found a way to temporarily stop Miriam's corruption, but is unable to reverse it, which is unfortunate. Of all the Shardbinders, Miriam and Gebel are the only ones left. All others have been sacrificed by the Alchemy Guild to make effort in opening the gates of Hell.

I feel like during my gameplay, I have referenced the Archives and Compendium more than I ever have in a video game before. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night has so much information, so much backstory and history ingrained within it, that unless you have a phenomenal memory (which I don't have), I feel like you'll miss parts and explanations. Which, I'm not going to lie, sucks. I feel like as much as I love the idea of the Archives and Compendium, it's A LOT of information. You don't have to look at this part of the main menu, but those who are curious will want to check it out like I : Ritual of the Night should have been called Bloodstained: Exploring into the Night. The amount of time you will spend wandering and exploring the map will be probably 90% of what you'll be doing during your time with Miriam. The other 10% is beating bosses and enemies. Gameplay will be pretty simple, as more often than not, you will start walking around and picking up items until you stumble upon someone or something that wants to kill you, talk your ear off or progresses the main story. You may even be lucky enough to find a door and you're actually able to get through said door and hallway without any issue. Trust me, that doesn't happen often.

I did have to ask for help from a friend a couple times because I didn't understand the gameplay at first. If I haven't mentioned it yet, this is my first time with this series, and I've never even heard of Castlevania until now when I was looking up some of the history. All I was told was keep exploring and keep picking up items; you will find what you need in time. After a few hours of searching, I did indeed find what I needed. However, I learned later on that some of the shards give you abilities such as swimming and the power to have a magical giant hand move heavy stuff you're unable to push yourself.

If you know what Castlevania is and have played it in the past, or if you have no idea what I'm talking about, you need to play Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. Do you like quality visuals, audio and gameplay? Go out and get this game NOW. Among all the platforms, I recommend the Xbox One version, as it contains the best graphics and audio, showcasing the beauty that Koji Igarashi envisioned and I am beyond happy that this game is out to the public.

I have never taken over a week to write a review, but this one took a while because I was too busy enjoying all of it from start to finish and didn't want to put it down. I love, love LOVE Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. A lot of heart went into making this amazing title, and it shows. What are you waiting for? Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is waiting... and so is Gebel. The fate of the world rests on your shoulders. No pressure.

Suggestions: Please make more video games!

Overall Score: 9.5 / 10 Doughlings: Invasion

Well, well, well... developers Hero Concept finally made a Sequel to Doughlings: Arcade. I vividly remember last August when I reviewed Doughlings: Arcade and remember enjoying its gameplay quite a lot, to the point where I spent quite a few hours even after the review was submitted playing it. When I saw Doughlings: Invasion was released, I was obviously interested, as I enjoy playing sequels to titles I have previously reviewed. My expectations were high for Doughlings: Invasion, as Arcade was a game I thoroughly enjoyed. But, here's the real question: Did I enjoy Doughlings: Invasion as much as its prequel? Let me explain.

Doughlings: Invasion is an arcade shooter based in the same world as Doughlings: Arcade, and the main story this time around isn't much different than Arcade. The only slight change is that there's now there's a weapon of mass destruction that has hit the town where the Doughlings live. Now, it's up to Doctor Morpheus once again to save his people from the invasion of... Aliens?!

As you start your adventure after the beginning cutscene, you are brought to a pop up menu with a bunch of characters perhaps? I'm not 100% sure because there's no explanation or sort of tutorial to guide you into the gameplay. I found that a little upsetting considering Doughlings: Arcade had a pretty decent tutorial. The most information you get is about the 'core mechanics', which are if I understand correctly, the actions you need to make in the level and how to shoot your Color Gun, which seems to take out a bunch of aliens at once.

When Level 1 begins, a bunch of 'Aliens' enter the screen and it's your job to shoot them, along with the 'Queen Alien'. You need to collect likes to be able to 'Show Off' your Color Gun, and avoid being shot by little green pellets from the enemy aliens. If you make it through the opening level, a screen pops up indicating your score. You control your character by using the joysticks and the X and Y buttons; that's it. You get a score, and I quote: “Queen Couldn't Even Come” if you were to beat the level before all the Queens get deployed.

There's an upgrade aspect to Doughlings: Invasion that I was really excited for at the beginning, which basically enables you to upgrade your weapons. But, if you were to die... you will lose all your upgrades and you start all over. When I mean “start all over”, I mean you hit 'new game' and begin from scratch. I'm all about leveling up and progressing, yet there was no real progression happening during my time with Doughlings: Invasion due to losing.

Hero Concept changed the gameplay completely when they made this sequel though. Instead of a bubble shooter that you can go through levels and kill the infected doughlings, we now have enemy aliens who are invading, and the original gameplay is not even a thought. I would have been more than willing to accept that Doughlings: Invasion had brand new gameplay if it was made more clearly in the beginning. The main story cutscene makes you think it's the same game, simply with an added story. It instead feels like a horde of aliens are coming for me in waves of levels, which isn't really what I had in mind for a Doughlings game and certainly not the type of game that I would play for hours and hours on end. The only game I can even try to compare this to is Space Invaders, which I remember playing when I was really young with my uncle. Those were good times!

Hero Concepts recently updated Doughlings: Invasion which had me a little excited, that perhaps some of my issues would be addressed. The update did in fact deal with some of my irks, such as the difficulty being reduced and checkpoints before bosses being added. Unfortunately, I just didn't enjoy it as much as I initially expected. Those of you that like arcade shooters may love it like any other in the genre.

While the gameplay is a bit of a letdown, I did enjoy the music. The audio stayed true to the previous game and I really enjoyed it just as much as I did in Arcade. It keeps you engaged, even if you're like me who just wasn't feeling the gameplay. I was incredibly happy that Doughlings didn't lose its colourful charm that it previously created though, as everything was so bright and happy. The narrator was also the same guy that did the narration last time and I still enjoyed his performance throughout.

I don't feel like Doughlings: Invasion was a great sequel for me personally. I find that the change in gameplay was hard to grasp, and if you're going to completely change a sequel's gameplay around, you need to communicate it very clearly so that the player does not feel like they are being thrown in the deep end of the ocean without a life jacket. There was little to no support for the gamer in the beginning of Doughlings: Invasion, with a lack of a helpful tutorial for me to be successful in the waves of aliens that are coming after me.

I'm deeply saddened that I didn't enjoy Doughlings: Invasion nearly as much as its prequel, but it just may be a game that you would want to play. It's a good game, it simply wasn't vibing with me for various reasons. Hero Concept is a fantastic developer that creates quality games, and if you want to give Doughlings: Invasion a go, I would recommend you go ahead and try it out.

Overall Score: 6.5 / 10 Battle Princess Madelyn

I have never been a huge fan of retro video games. I think the very first game I ever played was Super Mario Bros on the Gameboy Advance along with the old school Pokemon games. But, I appreciate their existence because they are nostalgic to those gamers who grew up with them, and are a reminder of what gaming looked like back then. Battle Princess Madelyn, developed by Casual Bit Games, I feel is a very good representation of what retro gaming was like once upon a time.

The main story without spoiling it (because that's no fun) revolves around a little girl by the name of Madelyn whom is sick at home in bed playing her video game when her grandfather walks in. He tells Madelyn that he wants to read her a story but she doesn't seem to thrilled, until her grandfather informs her of the title 'Battle Princess Madelyn'. All of a sudden she's interested because it's her name. Then you are thrust right into the gameplay. Overall, I don't have any criticisms about the story. It was straight to the point and flowed well. At first, I picked story mode in the main menu because I love a good story.

You enter some form of a dungeon, and from there you are tasked with some simple quests. Along the way you collect different items, such as coins, and break barrels with your sword. I feel that the start of this journey as Princess Madelyn was fantastic. It's after you complete the simple quests that I felt a little confused, and would have appreciated a little support in-game. I would like to let you know that Battle Princess Madelyn isn't the type a game to necessarily hold your hand though. There are characters you meet in-game that will simply repeat the same line over again should you go back and see if you missed something. I don't mind not having my hand held while playing a game, but at the same time, I was only within the first ten minutes or so of gameplay when I started having questions. Which, to be honest, was a little disappointing. Battle Princess Madelyn is a 2D side-scrolling adventure game, akin to Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, so it should be fairly self explanatory.

I love exploring new areas, talking to all the characters and collecting everything I see. I had retraced my steps and ensured I didn't miss anyone or anything. Unfortunately, after about a half hour of trying a number of different things to progress within the story, I was clueless as to what I was supposed to do, which made it extremely hard to want to go back and try again. But, determined to not give up so quickly, I made it through a little more of the story. I will warn you, the overall story does not get much better as you progress, which to me was again, disappointing.

After story mode, I was hoping and praying that arcade mode would be better. To my excitement, I felt I accomplished more and I was having fun in this mode instead. Although I died just as many times as I did in Story Mode, I at least died knowing what the concept of the mode was. You progress through the side-scrolling platforms while enemies like skeletons and these weird shooting plant things attack you, along with the big green serpents that come out from the water to eat you as you jump. You shoot them with your bow, and along the way you collect coins. Collecting coins and defeating enemies is how you increase your score. If an enemy were to defeat you, you would have to go back to the start of the level. I had many, many tries at arcade mode and loved every minute of it, I just wish that I had a similar experience in Story Mode that I had here. The overall environment of both Arcade and Story mode were fantastic and the enemies were engaging, even while being completely 2D. You can tell that real effort was made to make this 2D platformer look as retro as possible. Kudos to you Casual Bit Games.

Along with the fantastic environment and level design, the soundtrack that came with Battle Princess Madelyn in both modes was also fantastic. I felt like it fit the theme of battle, but still in that retro style. I really, really appreciated the amount of time and effort the team took in making Battle Princess Madelyn come to life, even if I felt gameplay was a bit of a hit or miss. As a gamer, I feel that Battle Princess Madelyn is not a game suited for those looking for a casual, relaxed gaming experience. I feel the gamers who will appreciate Battle Princess Madelyn the most would be those who like to grind and figure out puzzles.

Battle Princess Madelyn is a fast paced game where you must pay attention and read every single story line and character blurb you are given. If you don't read it all, you may miss out on critical information that will help you progress in the story. Based on both story mode and arcade mode in Battle Princess Madelyn, I would play it again, however I would stick with arcade mode. I must continue collecting coins and battling skeletons, see you later!

Overall Score: 7.0 / 10 Heavy Fire: Red Shadow

When I got the chance to review Heavy Fire: Red Shadow, I was anticipating a fantastic gun fight, hordes of enemies, decent graphics and some challenge. I have to be honest though; I don't have much experience with FPS video game titles, however I am a consistent player of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 and I'd like to think I'm pretty decent at it.

I will be giving you my input on developer Mastiff's latest game as a gamer that has never played any Heavy Fire's prior to this release. My first impressions of Heavy Fire: Red Shadow were not exactly what I was expecting from an FPS Arcade genre game though.

The old school story in the campaign is slightly engaging. I get the feeling that you're in some form of war with North and South Korea and the narrative is decent and is relatively easy to follow along. You are immediately thrown into a tutorial with a narrator, and one who is full on Drill Sergeant that teaches you the ins and outs of gameplay.

You have a big turret gun (I know very little about guns, bare with me). You are able to move the turret gun a complete 360 degrees, which is nice because enemies can approach you at every angle at their discretion.

You can request a supply drop at certain times, when prompted, that allows you to acquire more health. The humans with green bars above their heads are on your allies, the yellow bar enemies are about to turn from allies to enemies and the red enemies are well... your enemies. There's not really too much more where learning the “tricks” of Heavy Fire: Red Shadow.

After the tutorial, you are able to proceed to the next level and try your luck with all that you've learned. As you stand on your turret gun you'll notice something strange; that you are in fact, stationery. That's right. You can't move a muscle as the waves upon waves of enemies approach your turret. All that can move is your turret gun. I find this my biggest issue with Heavy Fire: Red Shadow. I have never been a fan of staying in one spot playing any shooter. I might as well have a giant sign on my back that says “Hey, shoot me, I can't move!”.

As you stand in the middle of what looks like a beach, several enemies will run toward you from many different points of origin. Now, this is the part where you are supposed to rotate your turret gun and start shooting. The plus here is that you don't have to be very accurate. You'll take down your enemy even if you shoot right beside them. That's great for those of us who can't aim to save our lives.

But for those who want a challenge, the only real one is staying alive as enemies come at you from every angle as you turn and shoot. I found myself dying quite a bit because I couldn't shoot enemies fast enough; however, I was determined to give Heavy Fire: Red Shadow a fair chance, so I kept playing. I made it through about five levels before I felt the experience didn't have any variance other than the background going from day to night.

Each level was pretty much the same as I've mentioned above. At one point, I went on a shooting spree and moved my turret gun in a complete 360 degree circle while shooting, and unfortunately that's about the most fun I had. The overall gameplay is rather flat and tiresome, as I like video games with action and engagement. I like video games that have me running around finding my targets.

The only notable positive I had with Heavy Fire: Red Shadow was the fact that the graphics and sounds were decent. I quite enjoyed the scenery, the day and night cycle and the sounds of the guns. It doesn't blow me away, but it's all up to your personal preference.

If you like arcade types of games where you're standing in one place and basically on a shooting spree, by all means this is your type of game. However, if you're looking for an action packed, heart racing, engaging FPS, I don't feel Heavy Fire: Red Shadow is right for you. Sorry to say, I'll be aborting this mission.

Overall Score: 4.0 / 10 Crayola Scoot

I have to be honest, when I first saw “Crayola Scoot” on the review queue, I was intrigued and a little concerned. Why is this you ask? Well, I was wondering if it would be too “childish” for gamers of all ages, but after my time with it, I have to say that I am delightfully surprised on the overall experience I had with it. I feel Outright Games did a decent job creating a Tony Hawk/Splatoon inspired game while managing to keep their own identity.

I remember playing Tony Hawk quite a few years ago, back when Tony Hawk's Underground 2 was around. That was probably one of my top and/or favourite games growing up. Playing Crayola Scoot definitely brought back some childhood memories that I had tucked away. Now, is it as good as Tony Hawk's Underground 2? Not really, but it's close, and I would easily recommend it for gamers young and old.

Crayola Scoot is a scooter competition sports game with the ability to “splat” colourful paint all over the arena you're playing in. Whether you're in the plaza or in a competition arena, you're sure to colour areas to your hearts content. You start off in the plaza and ride around in the practice area, learning how to control your scooter and perform basic and advanced tricks. From there, you can either go into the “Campaign” or “Arcade mode”. Regretfully, I did not spend any time in Arcade mode because you need more than one player to play in that mode. I spent 99% of my time in the campaign. In my opinion, the campaign is one of the hidden gems of Crayola Scoot.

It isn't very often that I get enthusiastic over campaign (or competition) modes. However, Crayola Scoot was able to create a very interactive, easy to navigate and overall enjoyable vibe in their campaign mode which I felt was well developed.

When opening a new area, you see how many stars you can obtain along with all the levels available to you. Stars are achieved only when you finish first on any difficulty. You have your choice of Colour Frenzy, Crazy Crayons, Trick Run, Team Colour Frenzy, Splat Tag – Chase and Splat Tag – Survive, as events in each land. I had my top three favourite events and my three “not my cup of tea, but they were good” events. I wouldn't say that any event in Crayola Scoot was horrible though.

My top three favourite events were Trick Run, Colour Frenzy and Team Colour Frenzy. Trick Run is pretty self explanatory, as you are put into an arena with six other players and you have to score the highest while performing tricks before time runs out to win. This mode is easily one of my favourites because once I got used to how to perform the tricks and land big combos, I had no issues wiping the floor with my competition. Colour Frenzy, like Trick Run, has six players competing. This time around though, your goal is to cover the arena with your colour and beat out the rest of your competitors. You're ranked based on percentage on this event. So, most of the time I would get 20-25% and had fun doing it. Finally, my third favourite event was Team Colour Frenzy. Now, its not much different than Colour Frenzy, except with twelve players instead of six. There are six people on each team. The first team to cover their colour all over the arena the most, before time runs out, is the winner.

Before I talk about my other three events, I would like to fill you in on the perks of winning, along with the biggest reason you should win; the fame levels and the legend challenges! When you win an event and get your star(s) and you will get the results of the event. You will see where you ranked in the event and you will get coins for longest grinds, least amount of crashes and trickster (you perform a lot of tricks).

After the results screen you then proceed to the bonuses and level bar. You will get an XP bonus for difficulty, if you managed to complete the event, and other bonuses. This will be added to your overall score. You can also see your progress in regards to how far along you are in your current fame level. If you reach the end of your fame level, you can then go head to head with a legend character to proceed to the next fame level. You cannot get to the next level without beating the 'boss like' character first.

Legend challenges are easy the first couple of times. I'm not going to lie when I say, "You better bring your 'A' game" around Fame Level 6. You and your legend will play a game of SCOOT. SCOOT is essentially a head to head score trick combo competition. You each take turns trying to make the biggest combo. After you take your turn, the legend has to beat your combo. If either of you do not beat the combo you will get a letter from S-C-O-O-T. If you reach the T, you are eliminated and have to try to beat the legend again. If your legend reaches the T before you, you win the challenge. This entire challenge was very difficult for me going into Level 6. It was a great challenge and I appreciated that I didn't sail through the campaign without a little hard work.

The three modes that 'weren't my cup of tea', but I played irregardless, were Splat Tag – Survive, Splat Tag – Chase and Crazy Crayons. This is purely my personal preference and will not reflect on my overall thoughts of Crayola Scoot. Splat Tag – Survive is essentially you running away from the other team in an effort to not get tagged until the time runs out. I didn't play this event very much. The same could be said for Splat Tag – Chase. This event is one where you have to run after players and tag them. Again, not my cup of tea. The final event was Crazy Crayons. This event shocked me as I didn't really enjoy it as you simply have to collect as many crayons as you can before time runs out. The one to collect the most wins. Crayola Scoot for me was all about the tricks and covering the most of my colour in the arena. That's where I found the most enjoyment and I stayed pretty close to it.

Overall, I feel Crayola Scoot is well worth the money. The only real advice I would have for anyone going into playing is that one should master the trick dynamics first and understand how they work quickly. Getting used to performing the tricks and the huge combos took the longest for me.

I don't feel that I wasted my time with this game as I'm happily still playing it. If you want a colourful, fun and challenging experience with a little splash of competition, then Crayola Scoot is the game to buy. I would have no problem recommending Crayola Scoot to any gamer young or old. Now, move over, I have to go defeat Robbie. It's time I get to the next Fame Level!

Overall Score: 7.0 / 10 Shapeshifting Detective, The

Ever since I reviewed 'The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker' back in June, I was hooked to the idea of a full motion murder mystery video game. D'Avekki Studios proved that they can deliver a fantastic experience for those looking for a great story and characters that you'll remember for months. To this day, I'll recommend anything attached to D'Avekki Studios.

Recently, I had the pleasure of reviewing their newest game 'The Shapeshifting Detective'. Trust me when I say you're not going to be disappointed. As you may know, I am a firm believer in not spoiling the main story. Of course the story is one of the key elements of the game, but I'll give you a very small portion just to give you an idea.

You are a detective named “Sam”, and you've been hired to find out who killed a young lady in August. While on your journey, you meet several people within a guesthouse you're staying at. Simply, you must question and figure out who the murderer is. There's one really cool feature that throws a 'twist' into the gameplay though, and it is one of the highlights of the game. It relates to your character, and I feel it is one of the highlights of The Shapeshifting Detective. This ability will make it a little bit easier to find the murderer.

So, what is this ability? Well, Sam can 'shapeshift' into anyone that they've met during your time playing the game. All you have to do is go to your room in the guesthouse and choose the character you want to change into. Now, there are some benefits and risks to this ability.

One benefit in being able to shapeshift into other characters is that you really do learn what other characters actually feel. As Sam, you may only be able to get some small information out of the person you're questioning, but then question them as their best friend and ask a similar question and you may get a different answer completely. I wish I had the shapeshifting ability sometimes!

The only real negative of having such an awesome ability is that you can't let the characters know you're actually Sam while you are 'shapeshited' into someone else. You must do everything in your power to keep your cover. The game's actors have once again outdid themselves. I am thrilled that Aislinn De'Ath was in The Shapeshifting Detective, and she is easily my favourite. She, along with her fellow actors, portrayed their characters flawlessly.

I feel like the actors in The Shapeshifting Detective are the core of the gameplay, as they were in Doctor Dekker. This time around though, I felt a range emotions that I didn't feel in Doctor Dekker. I felt scared when the cut scenes played, as they had me sitting at the edge of my bed with my heart racing a little because I didn't know what was happening next. I felt like a true detective when I had to go back and forth to different characters asking follow up questions trying to get the truth.

I feel the reason I felt so many emotions was because of the many environments provided while playing, as it's a pretty fast paced game, especially when you progress to the next chapter. You also get a variety of different scenes and places to visit. I was pleasantly surprised to see that there were so many different rooms where the game played out. It was great to see that the gameplay wasn't limited to a single room the whole time.

The opening scenes to the new chapters are usually pretty intense. Radio August usually comes up and gives a live update. Every actor puts their heart and soul into their performances and you won't get bored listening to them because they don't miss a beat.

The gameplay is pretty similar to Doctor Dekker except for the main menus, as they have a different layout, and there's what I call a “travel” menu where you can go visit other places. As I said earlier, you can choose to go to your room and shapeshift into another character, or stay as Sam. You ask characters questions in the hopes of opening up more of the story, but you have to be careful what you say. If you ask the wrong question, or upset the character, it may end the conversation all together. While you need your information, it's important to do it strategically.

You should learn what the characters do and don't like, switch to other characters, ask questions, and find out different things that you wouldn't learn if you were someone else that questioned them. It's all about who you can get to talk. That's the main reason why I love The Shapeshifting Detective. I love finding out what secrets the characters are keeping. I love learning about them and what they think of one another. They all have their own personalities that you can learn rather quickly what kind of person they will be.

Overall, The Shapeshifting Detective is well worth its price. I feel like I've said this before, but the actors, the story, and the gameplay are the key elements. Without one, the others would suffer. D'Avekki Studios and Wales Interactive should be proud. Once again, they have blown me away, and now I'm sitting here wondering when the next game is coming. I don't usually get attached to games, but when studios make a genuine effort in hiring quality actors, creating an outstanding environment, and think about the player's experience, I can't ignore that. The Shapeshifting Detective has several avenues in regards to how the story could end. I've already played a few times to see this!

Overall Score: 8.0 / 10 Dead Age

I think the very first zombie game I ever played was Left for Dead 2 on XBOX 360. I don't generally gravitate toward shooting games, whether they be zombies or humans. But in recent months I have been attempting to come outside of my comfort zone. As a reviewer, I have to review all sorts of games and I am constantly being taken out of familiar territory. One week I do a hidden object game, the next a tennis game, and this week, I'm doing Dead Age, a strategy based role-playing rogue-like zombie game. The idea of a zombie game really enticed me to try it. I'm not a die hard Walking Dead fan, but I do appreciate the idea of zombies.

The main story of Dead Age is that you're one of the last survivors of a huge zombie outbreak. Your job is to set up camp, befriend some other folks, with the aim to make sure the camp stays afloat and create a little community-like atmosphere among you and your fellow survivors. Among all of this, you are trying to find your lost sister. Throughout playing Dead Age, I feel like I missed quite a bit of the story because it was difficult to follow. You control the words on the screen in the cut-scenes but I find these go too fast. When you're trying to read caption after caption, I feel that most of the story gets lost as you try to process all the information given through the cut-scene. It was a bit disappointing because I love a good story in a video game.

Most of the gameplay is scavenging any vacant camps or cars, managing your inventory and by fighting off enemies that wander anywhere near your camp. One of the things that I feel is most important when scavenging is understanding that you may, or may not, get what you need while searching. This can impact your health, food, ammo, guns and medical supplies, which may impact the overall health of the camp, yourself and the other survivors. Another way you can be impacted is if you don't have enough supplies in a fight with a horde of enemies. You could potentially lose the fight or the survivors with you could be seriously injured. Dead Age is, in my opinion, more of a strategy game, because of the need to manage your inventory, fight smart and ensure your camp and your survivors are safe. I personally did not really enjoy Dead Age for a couple reasons, let me fill you in.

The overall character development in Dead Age didn't feel like much of a focus. It isn't a deal breaker for me, and I acknowledge that the developers may have made that choice. However, when I play any game, I look for either a decent story or good characters to follow along with. When I discovered that both were missing from Dead Age, as you can imagine, it was pretty upsetting. Most of the characters have very little dialogue and not much expression. Zombies are hunched over and make the typical zombie noise and there didn't seem to be much thought put into the battles, which is what you're going to be spending 95% of the time in.

Fighting hordes of enemies, such as zombies and wolves, is 95% of what you'll be doing during most of the gameplay. If I could compare Dead Age's gameplay to another game, it would be like playing the fight scenes in South Park: The Stick of Truth. You'll have one to four enemies to battle on one side, and you and a couple of your survivors on the other. There will be actions on the bottom below on your character's side (usually the left hand side), and you basically choose between using your gun and melee attack. Remember when mentioned conserving your supplies for fights? This applies for your guns especially. Ammo is difficult to come by, not impossible to find, but it's one of those things that you won't want to go on a shooting spree because you'll be out of ammo until your next scavenge. Melee attacks are generally with a knife and are something you're going to need to rely on far more than your gun. You won't always have a gun. But you will always (98%) have access to a knife of some form. Always remember, manage your inventory!

Another part of Dead Age that I wasn't a huge fan of was the layout of the main game menu. The layout was like most games, you can see your current quests, inventory and anything you may need to continue gameplay. I find that the layout is cluttered. While I said that anything you may need is on the main game menu, it was simply not easy to use. I feel that when I would be prompted to complete a task or a quest, I had several moments where I had no clue where to go.

Overall, Dead Age isn't my cup of tea. The only part of the game I found was decent was the fight scenes, as that had the most action. I feel like gamers who like strategy games will enjoy its premise though. The concept of Dead Age is fantastic, I just feel it fell a little flat. What I was expecting and what Dead Age provided was a large enough difference where I feel I won't play it again. That being said, I'd like to move on from this camp and see if I can find something else down the road.

Overall Score: 5.5 / 10 Wenjia

When I get home from a long day of work, I like to lay on my bed and play a video game. I was tasked with a new review, a game called Wenjia. It comes to my mind as a calm and soothing adventure with challenges that make the game appealing to those wanting the best of both worlds.

As a platform adventure type game, Wenjia gives an Ori and the Blind Forest vibe. I feel that E-Home Entertainment gave Wenjia its own identity instead of taking too much influence from that great Xbox One game. From the overall gameplay, artwork, to the creativity of the levels behind Wenjia, these are all without a doubt its strongest attributes and sets it apart from what will be a 'no-doubt' comparison to Ori and the Blind Forest.

You take on the role of a kitten, yes I said Kitten. This baby feline has the ability to phase between the realm of matter and the realm of energy. These two realms are the core of Wenjia and are critical to the way you navigate through the game. The controls are fairly simple, as the left bumper is used to phase between the two realms, the A button to jump and the left stick to move your character.

Now, something that doesn't necessarily get taught to you in the beginning is your ability to double jump, which of course happens when you hit the A button twice. Be mindful that it has to be the right timing too. If you press A too quickly, your character won't jump high enough, if you press A too late, you have a risk of falling to your death.

The main objective of Wenjia is to collect all the energy crystals in the forest. These energy crystals are little glowing orbs that can be found throughout your journey. Most of your time though will be spent travelling between realms to progress through Wenjia. You can jump through what I call 'teleport-spots' that allow you to progress to the next step of the journey. These next steps could include moving from teleport-spots to teleport-spots or being transported to another section of the area.

As you play, you may notice that there are black vines highlighted with some pink. Take my advice, do whatever you have to not to touch them, because if you do, you will die. The black and pink vines will come in two forms, on the ceiling or ground, and will stay fixed to the ground or burst below as you walk along or jump. This, as you can imagine, will create a bit of a challenge if you're not quick enough. My biggest advice for any challenge in Wenjia is to use the realms that you can transport to and from to your advantage.

The amount of work that must have went into the beautiful art that populates the game is worth applauding. The difference between the realm of energy and the realm of matter is a significant. One can be described as calm and relaxing while the other is as dark and eerie. I appreciate that the artist(s) took the time to make the differences between the two realms noticable, as I feel that the environment in Wenjia is the key to its success.

You learn very early on to use your surroundings to your advantage. For example, in one realm, you could have no way to get to the next area, but switch the realms and a platform appears. Someone took the time to develop these complex mechanics of the game, and based on this alone I was very ecstatic. There are times that a game comes out where insufficient time is taken to develop the mechanics, the controls and the overall look of the game, only to have it suffer in the end. Wenjia, although not perfect, makes you and your gaming experience one of the top priorities.

A highlight that I want mention is the collectibles featured in Wenjia. Throughout your adventure you will come across hidden energy crystals. Additionally, you can unlock different skins for your character, additional parts of the story can become available as well. There is also a speed competition mode where its your typical speed run challenge. The achievements are overall straightforward, and there's even an achievement for finishing Wenjia in an hour!

There was an aspect of Wenjia that I feel E-Home Entertainment could have done better, and that is its story. The simplicity of the story is surprising as I had expected it to be a little more indepth. I feel that the artwork and overall gameplay though do more than make up for the lack of narrative.

Overall, I enjoyed my experience with Wenjia. Although I didn't fall in love with the story, the core gameplay mechanics and artwork kept me intrigued and satisfied during my review experience. I feel that if you're searching for a game with a solid story, you could look elsewhere, but, if you can see past this hiccup, Wenjia is worth your time. In my opinion, any game that looks as beautiful this game deserves your attention.

Overall Score: 7.0 / 10 NASCAR Heat 3

I have very fond memories of my childhood, watching drivers like Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Kasey Kahne, Kyle Busch and Danica Patrick race around the track. I have not watched a NASCAR race in forever, so when I saw NASCAR Heat 3 needed reviewing, I wanted it badly to reminisce. While I do not claim to be a professional console raceer, I did have a blast playing NASCAR Heat 3. For the amount of content, player and track selection included within Nascar Heat 3, I feel that there is a great deal of value in the game.

If you've never heard of NASCAR game series, you've been living under a rock. But seriously, it is a racing sport. There are six different modes in that you can choose from: Quick Race, Split Screen (requires two players), Championship, Challenges, Career and Multiplayer.

Quick Race is where you basically have freedom to choose your series, track and your driver, much like Casual Play in other games. Split Screen is where you and a friend can play a race together and Championship is essentially racing until you achieve the trophy at the end. Career is where you select your series, your character, sponsors and you're pretty much off to the races (pun intended).

The first mode that I absolutely fell in love with was the Career mode. Now, as many of you may already know, I love progressing through career modes and story modes. That's one of the main reasons why I love video games, as they give me a sense of achievement. While I am not very good at being the next Danica Patrick, I thoroughly enjoyed myself throughout, even though I didn't win many races and didn't get much prize money.

I'm the racer that usually is found driving alongside the wall, versus down on the track, and the one whom instead of slowing down on the turns, goes full throttle into the wall. I don't usually play racing games to win every race, as long as I'm enjoying myself doing so. I'm sure there must be gamers out there like me who just like playing them for the pure fun of it. Whether you're a seasoned racing game console player, a brand new one, or something in between like me, NASCAR Heat 3 is a fun game for you to try.

The second mode that I enjoyed was the Challenges. Challenges is a unique spin that I've yet to experience in any other sport game on a console, where you are put into a certain scenario and the goal generally is to reign victorious in the race in a specific way. For example, you are driving on Lap 12 but there was a huge crash, so you'll need to maneuver within the chaos of all the cars being scattered all over the track and need to get first place. Now, like with Career mode, I am not very good at these either, but again, I found enjoyment of at least trying to succeed at the challenge. It is exciting to see the amount of effort being put into NASCAR Heat 3 and all of the options available. They aren't just concerned with developing a normal racing game with normal modes; they raised the bar.

The amount of characters given from the start is impressive, as I honestly didn't know what to expect when I first started my engines. I have to be honest, 10-15 years ago I only really knew of a handful of drivers in NASCAR, some of which I have mentioned briefly before, but it's nice to know that they made the effort to have a variety of real life drivers. There are so many fantastic drivers in NASCAR and it is worth to note that as you change the series, so do the drivers. The tracks provided in Nascar Heat 3 are far beyond my expectations. I had a thought that maybe the tracks would unlock through gameplay in career mode, but I was surprisingly thrilled to find about 30 plus tracks in each of the series. If you ask me, my all time favourite track is Talladega, with Daytona as a close second. I appreciate the realism put into the atmosphere in the tracks and although I haven't seen all of the tracks yet, I looked up about 20 of them, and they were portrayed perfectly.

The overall gameplay experience was pretty average honestly, as you race around a track and try to be first. The music is upbeat and tries to keep you entertained, but there's only so much a developer can do to make racing around a track exciting. I felt that the camera was a little off, as you would hit the Left Trigger, thinking that maybe that is the reverse gear or brakes, only to find out it's actually the camera view button. While in camera view, I seems glitchy and does not give you a stable camera. It's not a dealbreaker, but I found this irritating.

The only other small negative I have, and something I'd like you to keep in your mind is that if you jump right into the races without changing the settings, they will be set to the default. Now, some may be confused as to why I am bringing this up. Well, while playing my first race, I noticed that when I crashed my car directly into a wall, there was no damage. I would turn the corner and automatically the game would assist me in taking navigating it. While I appreciate the help, there is no tutorial on the first race you play. You are literally thrown into a race after given the car keys, and you're full throttle going around a race track.

As a gamer, I understand the idea of pressing one of the face buttons, hitting the Right Trigger and trying your best not to hit every single wall while you go around the track, but with a game like NASCAR Heat 3 that has settings that impact the damage, AI difficulty and the suspension settings, I would expect to be taught how to at least tweak the settings to my play style. But honestly, this is a nit pick, as I can't find very much other major negative feedback regarding regarding my time with Nascar Heat 3.

With a couple small personal preference issues, I still believe that NASCAR Heat 3 is a fairly solid game. Is it perfect? No game is. With the sheer amount of content, modes, and overall experience while in gameplay, I would have no issue recommending this game to someone if you're a fan of the sport. If you want a fun racing game that you can just sit back, relax, drink a beer or two and race, this is the game for you. 3... 2... 1... Race!

Overall Score: 7.5 / 10 Persian Nights: Sands of Wonders

I have a special place in my heart for Artifex Mundi games. Not only do they have fantastic graphics and artwork, but their story lines and characters are always spot on. Persian Nights: Sands of Wonders is one of the fine examples of yet another fantastic game by this amazing developer. If you like puzzles, hidden object games, and some strategy involved, you'll love the newest addition to the Artifex Mundi family. You play a girl named Tara who is an apothecary. King Badiya, the King of Persia, health is declining rapidly. The evil Grand Vizier Zaved is holding King Badiya's subjects in an iron grip, bringing the country close to the edge of extinction. It's your job along with your friend Blair to stop Grand Vizier Zaved from taking over Persia before it's too late.

I won't go any further in the details of the narrative because I am a believer in not spoiling the story, though the writers of Persian Nights: Sands of Wonder did an amazing job. You can tell someone who knows what they are doing wrote the script and I appreciate the amount of effort because the end result is a very consistent and engaging story. One of the things I really like about Artifex Mundi games is that they give you options while in the dialogue parts. I find it very interactive and keeps you intrigued. When the story is one of the key highlights of the game, it's important that these things are taken seriously. This game is primarily a point and click game where you point where you'd like to go. Most of the time you're looking for items or moving objects to solve a puzzle. It's a very straight forward experience and I find it delightful. I love games that I can come home, lay on my bed, play and relax. The cut scenes make sense and are revealed at a pace where you can understand and react to what's coming up.

One thing that made me excited in Persian Nights that I have never had in the previous games is that in certain sections you get to change characters. I found this an awesome feature and encourage Artifex Mundi to keep doing it. You do not have control over when you get to switch, that's completely up to the gameplay mechanics, however, it was a pleasant addition in my opinion. As the other character, you can play the game as normal. The only difference is that when you have switched from the main character to the other, you will see the top part of his face. It gives you a different perspective and I love it.

The only small problem I had with Persian Nights: Sands of Wonders is the difficulty of the puzzles. I would like to point out while I love an easy laid back game to play, I also need some challenge. I have played some Artifex Mundi games previously and I remember their puzzles to be slightly harder. I found myself not having too much of an issue solving the puzzles. I am in no way saying that this is a deal breaker, but it was surprising how easy I found the items I needed to progress. I still enjoyed every minute of playing the game though regardless.

While there is a few minor things I don't like, this game is fantastic, but I expect nothing less from Artifex Mundi. They prove repeatedly that they make incredible games for anyone of any age to enjoy. In terms of quality of game play, voice acting, artwork and story, this is game you need to play if you're a fan of the genre. As I've stated before, the addition of the new point of view with the other character is worth experiencing. Finding objects and solving puzzles is just the tip of the iceberg where this game is concerned! If you haven't ever tried an Artifex Mundi game, you need to start right now. I must go, I need to make a potion now!

Overall Score: 8.0 / 10 Doughlings: Arcade

For those who are unaware of the types of games I like to play, I am the type of gamer who loves to progress through a game. I love beating levels, completing quests and being addicted to games like Candy Crush Saga, Bubble Witch Saga and Farm Heroes Saga. Nothing makes me happier than to keep progressing, beating level after level, collecting all those stars and having a relaxing day at home. When I came across Doughlings: Arcade, I was pleasantly surprised by the gameplay, the background music and the difficulty.

This game is a brick breaker, arcade type game, much like Bubble Witch Saga, but your character moves and you launch the ball at the infected doughlings to cure them of their disease. I absolutely LOVE these types of games. It is one of those "spend six hours on the couch" kind of games. The gameplay is pretty simple which I appreciated. A meteor has fallen from the heavens, causing a poisonous gas to affect the doughlings, changing all of them into different coloured beings, such as red, blue, yellow and sometimes stone ones. Doctor Morpheus tried to save his doughlings, but he was attacked by those who were poisoned, so it's up to Doctor Morpheus to save his people!

The overall story is pretty interesting, as the narrator is engaging in the very beginning talking about the plot. You connect to the server and you start at level one. You learn some pretty basic moves and the controls are quit simple. The Right Stick will be for your movement of Doctor Morpheus (left and right), 'A' is to aim and 'X' to fire.

You have a certain amount of moves that you can make in the level and there are goals to be completed, such as having to lead the ghost up to the other ghosts or having to release the fairies. After beating a level, you can get what I call “potions”, to buy ability power ups. At the beginning, I was not a fan of the controls; however, after playing a few times, it no longer seemed to be a problem. I think it had to do with being so used to playing this type of game on a phone with touch controls. I've never played this kind of a game on console, so I was very excited, and Doughlings: Arcade did not disappoint me whatsoever.

The background music in Doughlings: Arcade is surprisingly good. Have you ever played an arcade game and you hear the same song over and over again? Or the same sounds coming from the characters? It can be irritating, causing the game to become boring and plain annoying. Doughlings has such entertaining music though that I didn't feel it got boring or repetitive once, which made me very happy. The only thing that was a little irritating was dying all the time and hearing the narrator say the same two or three things each time, but that's definitely not a deal breaker. The overall look of the game was well thought out, except for one small thing that annoyed me.

As you play, you may, or may not, notice that your achievements might not pop up on the screen when you achieve them. I was playing early on and I had played for about an hour and I was dying every 2nd or 3rd time. When I knew I had hit the tenth dying point, the notification didn't pop up. Not a problem generally, I just found it odd. Now, by the time you read this, hopefully Hero Concept may have fixed this issue and will no longer be an issue. I read online that the patch was coming in a future update, sop hopefully that's happened by the time of this publication. I felt it should be noted because it's the only problem I had with the game. I checked my XBOX app on my computer and the achievements had in fact shown up on my account, so it was only an in-game notification issue.

Don't you love when you look at a game and you say to yourself “Oh, this looks really easy” and you're proven wrong? Now, it may just be because it's a thing I have with strategy games, or any game for that matter, when I die over and over again without fail. However, I found this game to not be as cute and easy as it appears. The difficulty gets harder pretty quickly, but my version of harder may be ridiculously easy for you. So, without giving it a hard or easy rating, I'll put it this way... It's as hard or easy as you play. If you quickly strategize and figure out the puzzle quickly, you'll be set to go. If not, you'll die quite a bit and from there, so you'll decide for yourself.

Naturally, as a game progresses, it will become progressively more difficult, as I was stuck on level 7 for a few hours. It was frustrating, but after what felt like twenty attempts, I finally beat the level. It's all about learning the layout of the doughlings, and of course, some trial and error. I felt that the difficulty was reasonable. I mean, if you are a person who easily gets frustrated with a game after you die 10 or 15 times, you may not enjoy this game as much, but if you are persistent and keep trying, Doughlings: Arcade is a lot of fun.

Doughlings: Arcade is well worth the asking price. The game has lots to offer, such as a good amount of achievements, the ability power ups and the overall content. There are so many levels to go through it will keep you busy for hours! There may be a couple of tweaks that are required here and there, but there's nothing I can see by playing that would make me want to put the controller down. As I said, it is very interactive and didn't have bored me at all. Hero Concept, in my opinion, did very well with Doughlings: Arcade and I'm looking forward to seeing more from them! Please excuse me, I need to get back to beating another level!

Overall Score: 8.0 / 10 Castaway Paradise

I have been itching so bad for Animal Crossing to come out for Nintendo Switch. The quests, the collecting of items and the adventure are a few of the reasons why I love Animal Crossing so much. What does this have to do with a review on an Xbox centric site?. Well, when Castaway Paradise fell on my lap, I was really excited and hoping that it would at least keep me busy until the real deal came out.

The main idea of the day is that you're on a deserted island after being trapped in a storm on a boat, in the middle of the ocean. Yep, you're basically shipwrecked. You land on an island, which becomes your home, and you immediately go into a very simplistic tutorial. Most of the time, you're using the 'A' button a lot to talk to different characters as you walk around with your joystick. It doesn't get any more fun than that, right?! You also use the other face buttons to select between your tools. The tutorial holds your hand the entire way through, which in my opinion, is a little irritating. The reason being that it is pretty hard to actually to pick something up with 'A' or have a thirty second conversation with one of the characters.

The only need of a tutorial for this game should be one that shows you how to make a plot for your crops. Everything else should be in a little icon next to the item or character to indicate that you should press that button. Like I said a little earlier, 'A' and your joystick are your best friend in this game. I can't say that much for the menu though, as that is a whole different story.

Your main menu is where you'll find your inventory, quests, catalogue, outfits, achievements and settings. Your inventory is everything you've collected or bought from the catalogue. It is also where you can store the things you grow. Quests show your daily challenges and progress along with all of your current quests that you have open, and if there are any new ones available. If a new quest is available, a blue octagon will be above your character. If no blue octagon is seen, it's an open quest.

The catalogue is your shopping centre. You can buy stronger tools, with gold tools being top of the line as they are also 10,000 coins each. You can buy everything from furniture for your house, wallpapers for your walls or new flooring. Pretty standard for a game where the main goal is where you want to restore an island to its former glory. Outfits is pretty self explanatory honestly. As you level up, you can unlock new outfits for your characters or buy them as you would anything in the catalogue. Achievements, like outfits, are self explanatory as well. As you earn these achievements, the icons will go from grey to coloured.

The quests are overall, very easy. You won't be struggling hardcore to figure out how to catch a bug, redecorate your home or to go meet a new character. The only thing you may struggle with is catching a fish for the first time. At first, one of the things I noticed is you get bombarded by quests right off the bat. In my opinion, it doesn't ruin the game because you can choose when you do the quest, the only catch is you can't really progress until you eventually complete them. One of the things I didn't like about the quests is it didn't give me information or a brief animation showing me how to do something.

Early on there is a quest that says you have to evolve trees, but it doesn't tell you anything about how to do it or what the requirements are for planting this tree. Not a deal breaker, but worth noting. I then learned how to do the task by going into the catalogue a couple hours later after trying several things. By then, all I'm left with is wondering why they didn't show this in the tutorial. Thank the heavens I know to how to water my crops, as that's another area where the tutorial lacked in information. It showed the bare bones basics instead of showing how to play the important parts.

Some quests provide you with puzzle pieces that are used to repair bridges and unlock new areas of the island, leading to some characters which are stranded. Each bridge repair requires 9 puzzle pieces; these can be acquired quickly by questing, but can also be bought from the store with enough currency. Quests consist mainly of very simple deliveries and the growing and catching specific items.

The audio in this game is very similar to Animal Crossing, where it's literally the same two or three melodies over and over again. I noticed when I walked, or used any of my tools, there were no sounds accompanying them. Honestly, this is a 'take it or leave it' scenario. In my case, I muted the sound and music, put Spotify on in the background and played. With just the included sound and music on it feels very hollow, like someone just put music there because that's what Animal Crossing does. I feel this game tries too hard to be similar to Animal Crossing and not carve out its own identity. There's nothing wrong with taking things from Animal Crossing as inspiration, but they should have made Castaway Paradise their own instead of trying to match another game with a much higher following and more established.

The one positive thing that I did truly enjoy, despite its flaws, was the fact I could have a bad day, not in the mood for my usual gaming, only to put this game on and complete a few quests and become calm and relaxed. That's what this type of game experience is supposed to be; laid back and stress free. Plant crops at your own leisure, meet new characters, and restore the islands. This game is perfect for those gamers that have no idea what Animal Crossing is. For me personally, I was open minded. I wanted to believe this could tide me over until the real Animal Crossing came out and I'd be set to go but I unfortunately I don't think I'll be entering a Castaway Paradise anytime soon.

Overall Score: 6.0 / 10 Candle: The Power of the Flame

I have only been reviewing video games for a short while now, but I have been exposed to a mixture of genres. Some I've liked, and others obviously not so much. There are only three games that have blown me away completely, and Candle: The Power of Flame is one of them. You're in for a treat ladies and gentlemen, as Merge Games have outdone themselves. I am a sucker for beautiful graphics, or in this case, the artistic style. I have a couple things that I quite enjoyed about this game, and also a few I didn't as much.

The first thing I enjoyed about this game is of course the watercolor artwork and visual style, so props to the individuals who no doubt spent hours and hours painting everything for this game. Truth be told, I can't draw very well. In fact, today I drew a picture of my manager's head and the drawing looked like a five year old drew it. It didn't look like him whatsoever. So where am I going with this?

Well, I wish I could paint (or even draw) a fraction as good as these fantastic artists who helped bring the game alive. You can tell as you make your way through the game, and watching the beautiful cutscenes, that someone put their heart and soul into the visuals. The artwork compliments the narrative in way that one has to appreciate. Actually, it complements the narrative so well in fact, that they go hand in hand. In my opinion, the game would not be the same without one complimenting the other.

The second thing I really enjoyed about Candle: The Power of the Flame is the narrative and overall story line. Even though I'm a sucker for graphics, I'm also one for a good story. Something that draws you in keeps you interested and makes you want to play more.
In the very beginning of the game you play as Teku, a tribesman. The narrator takes you through some history in the beginning, explaining that the gods used light to create the Earth. Once water and plant life had become fulfilling and sustainable, they stepped back and watched as evolution took over. Initially the tribesmen lived a peaceful existence, but then greed took over and the want for power became stronger.

As you can imagine, things started to go wrong. Unfortunately, the gods didn't appreciate what was happening with the way things were going, so they destroyed the world and started over again... four times is the current count at this point. Fifth times a charm, right? Well, no. Teku returns to his village as it is going up in flames! As I respect those gamers that don't like a lot of spoilers, I won't say anything else, but I assure you, this story gets much, much more exciting and captivating. But with any game, especially those fantastic games that had me near speechless, video games aren't perfect.

What I didn't enjoy about this game was the controls for Teku. Now, usually controls are pretty standard for a platform title, hit a button and your character completes an action. I'm okay with those kinds of games, as it makes the experience relaxing and easy going, but with this game unfortunately, I feel the controls are a little clunky. If you happen to stumble upon a cliff where you think you need to jump onto the other side, you will likely die. Very rarely was I able to jump freely and make it to the other side of the cliff. I found myself getting frustrated because the places I thought I could jump, I actually couldn't, even though it looked like there was something there I may want to see. I like to explore the environment in a video game, as I get curious. Especially the kind of games that have puzzles that I have to complete to progress.

Another thing I didn't enjoy about this game was the puzzles. Now, let me explain. The puzzles are fantastic... once you figure out what the puzzle is. There were quite a few times where I was wandering around the same areas, going back to a different area, wandering around there and heading back to the last place the narration took place, utterly confused in the process.

There isn't much hand holding in this game, which is fine for some folks who are quick with understanding the narrative right off the bat, but when you're stuck, the narrator doesn't repeat themself regarding what they last said to at least remind you of what you should be doing.

When you press the action button and it isn't what the game wants (e.g. you're not doing what it expects you to do), Teku just puts his arms up and shrugs which, after two hours of playing this game with mostly Teku shrugging his shoulders at me, had me irritated slightly. That was, until I randomly figured out the puzzle and then ended up dying because something came out of nowhere without any warning. So, you'll try again over and over, and again, you die. Even though you try jumping out of the way, or coming at the thing that is killing you at another angle, you die. Now, surprisingly this is not a deal-breaker but something worth noting, and something you will have to adjust to. I still enjoyed my time with Teku, this is just something that I know will annoy some gamers.

Despite the couple of hiccups, Candle: The Power of the Flame is well worth the time to play, and personally, I don't feel that I wasted my time. At the end of the day, it's a fantastic, beautifully painted and well thought out piece of art that I would recommend to anyone. Buy this, sit down and prepare to have a good time, because this flame isn't going out anytime soon!

Suggestions: Please make more games!

Overall Score: 8.0 / 10 MXGP Pro

Since their initial release in November of 2014 with the release of MXGP, racing game developer Milestone has been developing motocross games following their first game release. This includes sequels such as MXGP2, MXGP3 and their newest addition, MXGP Pro. MXGP Pro is a Motocross racing game, obviously. My first impressions of this game are that it is an educational (yes, I said educational) and a visually impressive representation of the sport. From the moment I started the tutorial, to the hours spent racing around and learning how to ride a bike, I found that what I played was time well spent.

If you're expecting a game that you simply hold the Right Trigger for gas and move your joystick to the left or right to move your bike and race around a track, you'll definitely get that, but there are a few, shall I say, "tweaks"? Yeah, we'll go with tweaks. These tweaks will make the typical trigger holding and moving your analog stick a little bit more difficult than you may be used to, and it definitely makes you consider every move you make, as one wrong move and it could cost you the entire race. There are a few things that pleasantly surprised me about this game that I'm hoping you, as a gamer, will also appreciate. Have a seat, get comfy and let me educate you on my experiences with MXGP Pro.

The first pleasant surprise was right at the beginning, as you get a nicely designed tutorial. For me, especially as a gamer that is completely new to Motocross, and for those who will be completely new to it as well, I appreciate when a game sets me up for success. I'm not going to lie; you're going to have to go through the tutorial whether you want to or not. Step by step, the narrator takes you through a track and demonstrates how to do the basics, such as steering, accelerating, going over a jump properly (yes, there's a proper way) and how to balance your bike.

Remember how I said there were a few tweaks? Well, MXGP Pro is the type of game that likes to test the professional Motocross rider in you. There's no more simply holding down the gas and steering. If you steer too hard, you'll most likely crash into a tree or drive off the track. The good thing about mistakes in MXGP Pro is that you can rewind your crash after hitting a tree, or that split second when you drove off the track, but we'll get into that a little later.

As I said above, if you're new to MXGP, or a well seasoned Motocross gamer, the tutorial is something I highly recommend focusing on. MXGP Pro has settings that may be very different than other Motocross games, so if you play with these settings incorrectly, then it could dramatically influence your place in the race and even your enjoyment of the racing itself.

The second pleasant surprise was the amount of detail has gone into the content of the game. Now, I haven't played very many racing games, regretfully, but the ones that I have played aren't this detailed in their settings. For example, you can change your front and brake settings, which completely alters how your bike performs. But be warned, before you go playing around in the settings, potentially making your bike inoperable, make sure you read in-game description of what you are adjusting so you're aware of what you're potentially altering on your bike. For most of the race settings you can look below in the description and learn what each function is, what happens when you raise or lower a setting, and what you want to do to optimize your driving experience. For someone like me, this is a fantastic idea. Although, it is tempting to see what happens if you totally alter the settings in the wrong way and see what happens, but consider that something to do under your own discretion. I don't personally want to alter my gameplay whatsoever, but that might be your thing if you're more seasoned.

The gameplay of MXGP Pro at times is a little frustrating at first, until you catch on to how the physics and controls function properly. You essentially are racing around a track, and the goal is to obviously win; however, with the physics being such a huge part of this sport, it can be a little difficult at times. The rewind function, as I briefly mentioned before, can retract your mistake for a few seconds, and that to me is a fantastic function to have in a racing game, as I had to rely on it heavily at times. There have been many times, especially in non-racing games, where I would love to have a rewind function. So bravo Milestone, bravo.

Character customization is pretty standard. You are able to type the name you want, then pick your number and the font, and this will be put on your jersey. Nothing too phenomenal, pretty straight forward. Straight forward is also how I'd describe most of the game modes included. There are two main game modes in MXGP Pro: Single Player and XBOX Live. In Single Player mode, you can choose between Grand Prix, Time Attack, Career and Championship. XBOX Live mode has you choose between Quick Match and Create Match. I honestly stayed mostly in Single Player. The few times I did try to connect to XBOX Live, it did not work for me. It kept showing an error and not connecting which was a let down. I did enjoy Time Attack and Grand Prix the most though, as it wasn't a boring game. You actually have to pay attention and know what you're doing to some degree. Even if you're playing the game completely casual, this is necessary if you want to at least make it around the track.

Overall, there are aspects of this game that I thoroughly enjoy. I enjoyed learning how to play the game decently and can see how it tailors to racing gamers like me, and the die hard motocross fan who knows what they are doing, and how to adjust their bike settings. I'm not the best at racing games, and I'm no expert in Motocross by a long shot, however, in playing MXGP Pro, I can at least say that it gave me some insight on the mechanics of a motocross bike and how the bikes operate. As for my recommendation, I would recommend this game solely on the gameplay being as decent as it is.

There is a minor letdown though. As mentioned, the XBOX Live mode never properly worked for me, and I wasn't able to solve this problem. Maybe it was the servers being in high demand, or maybe it's my connection. That being said, I believe that MXGP Pro is worth the money and worth your time if you're willing to make the effort to learn how to become proficient at the exciting sport. Sorry, I have to go, I'm going to catch up and win the race!

Overall Score: 7.0 / 10 Milanoir

8-bit games sure have been making a comeback over the past few years, because they seem to popping up in the gaming world more and more lately. I mean, if you've read my previous reviews, you already know all to well that I'm a big fan of retro games. So, when I came across Milanoir, I instantly got excited again. Not only because it was in the 8-bit style, but because it was a little different than the normal stuff I'm used to. What was expected of this 8-bit game, and what Milanoir actually offers, is a bit of a shock to the system. Unfortunately, it was not the good shock to the system that I was hoping for.

There are elements of this game that I did not enjoy though, that is for sure. With that in mind, I'm going to focus on three aspects that in my opinion make Milanoir very frustrating, yet ultimately forgettable to play. Now, before I dive deep into my three topics, I would like to say I'm not as good at shooters as a lot of people, but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy them. I've never really had any luck playing shooters other than a select few. Even then, that is a stretch saying I'm good at them. But, knowing that I struggle with these kinds of games, I've been trying to expose myself to more shooters so I can improve, and hopefully one day like and play even more of them without struggling.

Milanoir is not a shooter like most first person shooters; however, the combat in this game is poor, particularly the 'shooter' part. In the early levels of the game, you learn how to fire your gun... or do you? You press the button to fire your gun, but nothing happens. In the meantime, an enemy kills you as you try to shoot with a gun that doesn't seem to want to kill anything. You aim directly at the enemy, you shoot and nothing happens. The enemy then kills you... over and over again. Now, I assumed it was because I wasn't shooting properly, or maybe I wasn't safe enough behind cover. So, I tried that. Still, nothing worked.

This is frustrating to me. As you may have learned from past reviews, I like progressing through games. The satisfaction of moving on to the next stage is one of the key things I love about video games. Even for a beginner who might be playing any form of a shooter, I wasn't impressed with combat whatsoever. I think the only thing I liked about the combat was the sneaking up behind people and attacking them that way.

So, we've gotten past the combat. Now, onto the story. Honestly, and I hate having to say this, the story in itself isn't that outstanding. It feels like a teenager may have written the story based on the sheer fact of all the swearing that is in this game. Now, I am not against swearing in any video game, but, in this story line, the amount of swearing feels over excessive. There is a time and place for swearing in a video game and over excessive use in my opinion degrades the game's quality. For some, they may be offended with the sheer amount of swearing. As I said, I'm not, but it's something to note for those who are sensitive to it. Now, I understand this may be just how games of this genre are, I just feel left hanging.

In terms of the gameplay, I won't lie, I felt somewhat let down in this area too. Honestly, playing as Piero, I felt his character was rather bland, and I felt I wanted more from a main character like him. More time could have been taken in both character development and story line, as both felt very rushed. The levels are reasonably straightforward and linear. Generally, you can't really get lost as there is a set path and you must take it. One particular instance I remember was when I killed all the enemies on the screen. I went into the next area and was immediately ambushed by machine guns and grenades without any warning and without anything to duck behind for cover. You will die instantly and you will die A LOT!

For some diehard gamers out there, they may like that kind of thing, but for me, and I am sure a lot of casual gamers too, it makes the game frustrating and personally, I struggled to keep playing at points. This game's difficulty is best described as 'frustrating', and if there was actually a title we could give the challenge level, it's what I would call Milanoir's difficulty level as a whole. There was only a few times in this game where I would beat the area and I think it was just sheer luck honestly.

The sound and the artwork were the two positives I had while playing Milanoir. I enjoyed the simplistic sound and as dialogue was running, the sound was vibrant and kept you interested. While in combat the sound also kept up to the pace of the combat, which I found to be a positive. The artwork itself should be noted as good, as it's a nice addition to the 8-bit family of gaming for its art style. It stays true to the old school types of games back then.

Unfortunately, as you most likely have figured out, Milanoir is not my kind of game. I love games that I can get into the story, into the characters and have a reasonable challenge in the combat and gameplay. I love progressing in video games and the satisfaction of completing each level. Milanoir may not be my cup of tea because of the lack of satisfying these areas, but it may be yours with its merits in the sound and artwork, and if you REALLY, REALLY enjoy an challenging and somewhat frustrating game.

Overall Score: 5.5 / 10 FOX n FORESTS

I'm about to tell you a true story about gaming twenty five years ago. Not so long ago, there was no such thing as Playstation VR, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One X, 4K TV's and E3 was only a couple years old. In 1993, Star Fox helped make 3D console games popular by releasing on the SNES. Games of yesteryear, well, the 1990's, really makes you think about how far we have come from an early 3D game like Star Fox to games like Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice and Assassin's Creed Origin. It truly is amazing how technology has shaped the future of gaming.

So, why am I mentioning this? Well, it has to do with this review of Fox n Forests, a game that harkens back to the 16-bit era. I think that Bonus Level Entertainment and Independent Art Software did a fantastic job on game's retro feel and there are some pretty good aspects to the game making it worth buying.

I have to admit, I've only played a couple old school video games like Sonic the Hedgehog and Super Mario Bros, but I remember spending hours on my Sega Genesis playing two Sonic games repeatedly and loving every single minute of it. My scope may be very small compared to a really seasoned gamer, but I can still appreciate the way video games were back then and the connection gamers may have with the not-so 3D video games. I know some folks cherish those kinds of memories.

If you already haven't guessed, Fox n Forests is about a fox (spoiler alert, I know...). His name is Rick and is the main character you'll be playing during your adventure. A great tree has lost its bark, and its Rick's job to recover it. I'm going to be honest here and say if you're looking for an in-depth story, it's unfortunately not here. I would say that gameplay is what you should really pay attention to, as it's the bulk of the experience. Although the controls are very basic, as so many 16-bit video games were in the past, it's easy for anyone to pick up, young or old.

Once you begin playing, it feels as if you're experiencing any of the 16-bit platformer games that were released in droves during the 1990's. Most of the gameplay is level based, so you have to explore forests and collect objects in each level. Whether or not you collect these items is based on how determined you are to collect them all. You may find yourself repeating the levels over again if you're the type that likes to collect every item, although you don't need to collect everything in the game, you should just know that if you don't collect certain items, you won't be able to progress through specific levels.

Gameplay is also about developing Rick's in-game abilities, so if you'd like him to acquire certain arrows that are essential to get to different parts of the levels you're exploring, you may want to invest some time in this ability, as it'll be helpful down the road in the game.

When I played the first level, something unique immediately caught my attention; Rick can change the seasons during gameplay. You heard me right, you are in control of fall, winter, summer and spring. Do you have a large stream you need to get across? Wait! Don't jump and think you're going to swim, cause you'll die. Do you know how you fix that? Turn the season into winter and freeze the stream and simply walk across the icy patch before turning the season back, as you only have a short time period before your 'season changing' meter runs out, though it will slowly build back up after a little bit of time.

Another example of how this gameplay element falls into play, you may find yourself facing a large, deep gap you have to cross before moving on in the level. If you change the season, something may fall from the sky that will aid you in crossing theis gap. I enjoyed changing the seasons because I've never played a game where I can manipulate my environment to advance in the level I'm playing on. I'd also like to point out for those who would like to know, you have to pay to get checkpoints, which, take it or leave it, as it's a part of the game you can't change, though an odd design decision.

In terms of the game's visuals, as you can see from the screenshots within this review, it is very 16-bit-like and the colors used are very vibrant, adding to the retro look and tone of the game. The sound is even 16-bit-like too, which adds to the whole retro experience. When you take everything into consideration for the presentation, it all really shows what a solid looking retro game this is.

I think that Fox n Forests is an excellent reminder of the good old days when games were simpler, times where we spent summers sitting on the couch playing games with our friends taking turns, beating the levels over and over again trying to beat each other's scores. While Fox n Forests isn't going to be remembered as one of the greats, it's definitely a game that even if the 16-bit platformer isn't your thing, you should give it a look.

Oh, and one last thing. I admit that the game isn't very long, but I don't feel like I wasted my time playing it. I hope that Bonus Level Entertainment and Independent Art Software consider making another game like this. I need to go now, as I want to collect more seeds and coins!

Overall Score: 7.8 / 10 Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker, The

I'm the type of gamer that loves a new challenge. I love games that keep me engaged and that make me not want to stop playing. The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker, made by D'Avekki Studios, is one of those diamonds in the rough that is like this, and a game that you need to play as soon as you're done reading this review. In this review, I'll go through gameplay, sound and video quality and finally the characters. Now, I don't want to give away too much with the characters or the gameplay because they are what makes The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker amazing.

When I first saw the trailer, the first thing that caught my eye was that it's a full motion video murder mystery game. You don't see many games like this anymore. I started playing and I was immediately hooked. You play as a new psychiatrist taking over Doctor Dekker's practice. Doctor Dekker suddenly passed away and it's your job to find out who murdered him.

You will find that you learn about Doctor Dekker through the game. He had quite an impact on several patients he treated. Now, whether it was a negative or positive experience is based upon the opinions of Dekker's patients, who you will be interviewing. The camera is set in a first person view, allowing you to see your patients in real life as if you're actually sitting there. This is a fantastic idea and that's one of the reasons why I'm such a fan of the game.

After the starting cutscene you find that your view is of a couch in your office, and depending on how many people are scheduled for the day, their images will be below the couch for you to switch back and forth and interact with at your leisure. Every single one of your characters has something “wrong” with them, such as anger issues, trouble with the law, personal insecurities or grieving a loved one. This game makes you think about their feelings, and as you ask questions, you may hesitate at times because they may lash out, question your judgment, start crying or do not understand why you're asking about certain subjects.

As you uncover more and more details of their personal lives and opinions on Doctor Dekker, you begin to see their real personalities come out and their true intentions. For those who have ever wondered what being a psychologist, or anyone in the field of helping people mentally and emotionally is like, here is a game that will give you a very real idea as to what you'll face.

I'd like to touch on how questions work during gameplay. You must ask each one of your patients a series of questions in the order of your choice. You can literally ask them whatever you want via a custom chat box through typing questions in with a Xbox controller or via Windows 10/Android with SmartGlass integration. The main point of this game is to get the most information out of each patient to determine who you want to accuse of murdering Doctor Dekker. At the start of the game, the killer of Doctor Dekker is randomized. You don't know who it is until the end. I find this excellent because it gives you the opportunity to play it more than just once.

The UI is easy to navigate. There are three options you can use, the question mark, the notebook and the lightbulb. You also have access to moving back and forth between patients using the left and right bumper. This, I feel, gives you all of the control in how you want to run your practice. The question mark in the UI will give you a list of questions you can ask that patient, and as I said before, you can ask the questions in whatever order you please. The notebook keeps tabs on what the characters have said for you to reference. They also give you tips on what you should follow up with and questions to ask the patients when the sensitive touchy topics come up such as the death of a loved one or a theft accusation.

The one criticism I have about the game is that besides some of the cut scenes, you are staring at your patients and a green couch 99.9% of the time. This makes the game slightly bland to look at. This by no means is a deal breaker, in my opinion, and it shouldn't be for you. The reason I say this is that the actors that are performing should be getting the spotlight, not the background they are in.

Speaking of the actors in this video game, you will not be disappointed. Each one brilliantly plays their role extremely well. I'm sure if you think about it, you just may know someone in your life that you'll be able to somewhat relate to here. As you play, it's heartbreaking, it's upsetting, it's sad and it's happy. You should be able to experience quite a range of emotions listening to the stories of all these patients. A few examples are are: no one wants to lose the love of their life, no one wants to fall out of love and no one wants to battle depression. In reality, these things affect people daily. As the psychiatrist, it's your job to try to “cure” them, or at least make them feel a little better about themselves. That means if they put themselves down, you try to help build them back up, or if they are feeling extremely angry you need find out why they are so angry and help put out the 'fire'.

Irregardless, these actors seem to ace the answers they give with full emotion as if they are the person they are portraying. There is a bit of drama between the patients as you learn more about them which makes things interesting. The actors make this game gold. As their psychiatrist, you will either believe them wholeheartedly or you'll will suspect there is more to the story. The characters will try to deceive you, try to flirt with you, or are just genuinely in need of someone to listen.

All in all, The Infectious Madness of Doctor Dekker is an amazing experience, and more than just a 'game'. It's well written, well performed and something that I will be recommending for quite a while. It's not your typical video game. It gives you a unique perspective that even most television shows can't provide you. The acting, as I've said, is phenomenal. The actors don't miss a beat. For gamers that like to sit for a few hours and analyze every single question, it's my opinion that they should find this game enjoyable. I feel the price isn't too much to ask considering there is the option to play it a few times over again.

Well, I'm sorry to say, but our time is up. Please schedule another session with my receptionist up front. Have a good day.

Overall Score: 8.0 / 10 Monster Slayers

Remember those movies where you could slay dragons and save the princess? Well, I'm here to tell you that Monster Slayer is not that kind of game. There is a dragon, but, sadly, there is no princess. Nope, in this game there's three legendary monsters, and you have to come home victorious from slaying them all.

Brought to you by Nerdook Productions, Monster Slayer is a 2D-action rogue-like RPG. You have the option of playing eight different characters that all have different abilities and weaknesses that should suit a lot of gamers styles out there and you will be able to choose from and what you can expect when playing them:

- Dragon: No merchants, weapons or armour, but you gain free elemental damage per attack (toggle skin tone to set elemental type).

- Rogue: Sneaky melee class, great at disarming traps, earning extra gold and drawing a lot of cards.

- Ranger: Ranged specialist. Great at dodging and landing accurate and critical hits. Always starts first in battle.

- Knight: Defensive melee class, great at blocking damage, counter attacks and anti-magic abilities.

- Barbarian: Offensive melee class, great at dishing out large amounts of damage even at the expense of your own life.

- Cleric: Magic healer, great at tanking, healing damage and highly effective versus undead enemies.

- Wizard: Magic glass cannon, great at dealing incredible amounts of damage very quickly.

- Merchant: Starts with a thin deck, and has access to cards from all six starting classes. Merchant restocks do not increase in cost.

Don't expect a real in-depth character customization as things are fairly basic in this area. It can be best described as: pick a name, skin tone, voice, hair style, hair colour and gender, and that's it. Nothing too fancy but not a deal breaker by any means.

After customizing your character you head to a map, and it's basically the main page. Here you'll find that there are different areas where you can go, such as Elderberry Forest, The Old Castle, The Dead Forest, Crystal Caverns, the Forbidden Forest and the Volcanic tunnels. Now, right off the bat, I was not a fan with the basic controls. I found that moving my joystick where I wanted to go was rather unresponsive. For example, when I moved the joystick to the left to try to go beyond the Old Castle or Elderberry Forest, it would have a slight lag in the actual movement of the cursor. Now, I'm not entirely sure if that's just how it was made, but it makes it rather frustrating to navigate the map.

Navigating the map aside, you finally get to your first destination, Elderberry Forest. This is where the tutorial is found. In your mini-map that comes up, you click on the entrance, and after entering you are greeted by an enemy. He's usually pretty easy. After beating that enemy, the mini map shows you what is available to you including such things as an enemy and the level it is found in, or if its a treasure chest. During your adventure, you will come across non-combat situations (like treasure chests) that require you to make a decision. Most of these decisions will modify your deck of cards.

Before I get into my thoughts on combat, I'll take you through the battles. The battles are turn based as you choose your cards for your moves. They vary from heal or attack cards. You have the option to get another hand before the battle begins, or keep the one you have. Mana is spent to play magic cards, as your hero regenerates one mana at the start of each turn. Action Points (AP) are also reset at the end of each turn, so any unspent points are wasted. AP's can be used to acquire such things as additional HP and more. Your hero's equipped weapon also adds damage to the first attack each turn.

The battles remind me of Castle Crashers so much, except for the fact you don't control your character you are playing. You just choose and click and then the battle plays out. As a more personal note, I like being able to control my character. I don't like games that I sit there and simply click the A button. That's not as entertaining for me.

I have to be honest, while I may not seem to be a huge fan of Monster Slayers, I have to admit that it has some solid gameplay, it's just not my cup of tea. I have two reasons why and I feel they are significant enough to make the game either really irritating or the perfect, depending on your preference. It all depends on the kind of gamer you are.

The game progresses through a day by day system. Every time you die, you essentially have to start all over again with a new character at level one, but the days keep going. Now, I'm the kind of gamer who finds satisfaction in leveling up characters and advancing to different areas. this is why Monster Slayer frustrated me, because no matter how long I tried, I would die and have to start all over again. This may or may not be a deal breaker for you, but either way, it's something to point out.

After what feels like a handful of hours filled with fighting, collecting coins and dying, I feel this game is very repetitive. With you dying, as I said above, you get knocked back down to level one and have to choose your character again. For me, I love games with variety and a sense of adventure, as it keeps me playing again and again. I don't find it enjoyable to do the same fight with the same enemy repeatedly.

Irregardless of my personal thoughts, Monster Slayer is a well built game for anyone that likes rogue-like games, where you'll find yourself dying over and over again and having to restart. I like the graphics and the layout, but it just wasn't my kind of game. I may never be a Monster Slayer, but that doesn't mean you can't give this game a chance. Try it out, you may just find that you like it!

Overall Score: 6.0 / 10 AO International Tennis

Brought to you by Big Ant Studios, AO International Tennis has arrived! For those hardcore tennis fans, or those who are new to the sport, AO International Tennis is a somewhat perfect match for those looking for a challenge and those looking to learn about the game. Add to that the fact that it is the only current tennis game on consoles at this time, and you have a recipe for a game that can attract some attention.

As a gamer and in real life, calling me a beginner at tennis is an understatement. In fact, before this review, I knew very little about tennis until I played this game. I began where many beginners should start, in the tutorials. Here you will have the opportunity to learn the different types of shots and how to aim them properly. Now, there are six types of shots: flat, top spin, slice, smashes, lob and drop, though by far, my favourite shot is smash. You'll also learn serves, free serves and challenging decisions. I found being able to challenge decisions was a really cool feature of this game.

If you're brand new at tennis, virtual or not, and the only thing you know about the game is that the two players take turns at hitting a ball with a racquet, you're not alone! The tutorial teaches you how to properly perform the shot and how to properly aim in the provided spots. If you're a beginner like me, my best friend was about a foot away from me when he was watching me do the tutorial. He and I were laughing so hard because during the tutorial I was really, really bad. That's okay. You'll get better, you'll get your rhythm and you'll be the next Rafael Nadal in no time.

If you're an expert at tennis, the tutorial is there if you need a refresher. Maybe you haven't played the game before on a console, maybe you just want to see how the shots work, or maybe you just want to do it for fun. Whatever your reason, the tutorial gives you the basics of the game. I was very surprised with the time taken developing the tutorial. I mean, I've played some sports games where they give you no tutorial at all. So, this was a much appreciated addition to their selection of modes.

There are a number of modes you can play; Australian Open, Career, Casual and Online. Along with that, you also have the option to create your own player in the Academy mode. I found it really neat to be able to create your own player. The one thing that completely blew me away was that this was not your typical 'Create a Player' mode. This 'Create a Player' experience has to be one of the better ones in my opinion. The only way I can describe this experience is comparing it to Elder Scrolls 'Create a Player' but better. You get to pick every little thing about your character's body, face, legs, the works. Also, you get to set your own attributes as a player, which I found to be one of the best parts of the game.

The difficulty level is all up to you. For me personally, aiming the ball in the right area took a while to learn. If we're being honest, I feel that's the hardest thing to master and it was easy for me to forget the ball isn't auto set to aim in a certain place. I also realized at that point that I'm the reason why the ball went out of bounds 100% of the time. But irregardless, it's something that can be easily managed if you keep playing and practicing.

The graphics during gameplay, and even sitting idle on the start menu, are fairly good. The player featured on the first screen you see is animated and moves their head a little. That was a nice touch in my opinion. The courts look fairly realistic too, and they range in size, shape and of course location. The sound I found to be minimal, as inn the main menu the music can be upbeat and nice to listen to. In the tutorial, and in-game, you don't get much sound. That is purely your decision whether you don't like much sound or you'd rather have background music. It definitely wasn't a bother to me because I was more focused on the game.

Career mode starts off with a bunch of settings that you must go through and set for your career, afterwards you are ready to begin. This mode can be played from the point of view of a new or star player. You will gain experience through playing matches, leveling up after gaining enough experience and growing your attributes. After picking a star or a new player, you have to pick a sponsor from one of four. All four sponsors vary per contract. Some want money per match, some want money upfront, and some give you a bonus for winning, all just like a real sports contract. The sponsors may also want a cut of your victories. I will mention here though, if you choose a brand new player, you will have to create one right then and there as you cannot choose one you've already created.

After you create your character, you then have to pick your support team. They range in cost from zero to three million dollars. When making this decision, ensure you are keeping an eye on the stars below the support team name. Training, injury/fatigue recovery, and form/confidence. The more stars a team has in a category, the more effective they are at the aspect. Just a heads up, whether you go the new player or star player route, the process will be the same except for star players cannot be customized in career mode. Before going into a match, you can choose to change your character's outfit.

In the Australian Open mode, you have the option to choose from men or women's singles, men or women's doubles or mixed doubles. Next, you get to choose your character. Here you won't have the option of selecting a new player as there are only star players to choose from. After you select your player you will be taken to the tournament chart consisting of first, second, third, fourth round, quarter finals, semi-finals and final. Competition mode is the exact same layout of Australian Open, but with the options available at the beginning only being between singles or doubles. You also get to pick how many players get to play in the competition and what trophy the winner gets at the end.

In any playable mode, it's fairly simple. Using the shots you were taught in the tutorial, you go through a match with your character. Depending on how you set your matches, they will all follow the guidelines throughout the career mode. You will also toss a coin to see which player gets the receive first. If you happen to miscalculate your aim and the ball lands outside the court, it's out of course, but if the referee calls it out and it is in fact in bounds, you can challenge their decision. Each match goes up to 40 points and the set is complete.

Casual mode can be described as a 'Quick Play' in any sports game. It's essentially a mode you can play whenever you want. I would advise before you try your luck in Australian Open, Career and Competition, that you spend some time in Casual.

One final point I'd like to mention before I wrap things up, is I really enjoyed the player selection. Again, I'm not familiar with all two hundred plus players in this game, but I found it awesome that the developers made the character selection so versatile. Have you ever played a game where you could only choose from a few characters? It's not as fun in my opinion, but with AO International Tennis, you could play for hours choosing every single star player in the roster!

While playing AO International Tennis, I found everything from the tutorial to the actual in-game experience to be pretty good. Sure, I wasn't the greatest at becoming the next Rafael Nadal, but the experience was something I enjoyed as I played. That being said, fans may find some control issue here and there, as I did find that some of my shots didn't go where I aimed, and that reaction time was off now and then. Regardless, I have never been one to pick a sports game as my game of choice, let alone tennis, but you may want to consider this one, especially if you are craving some tennis on your Xbox One. Sorry, I have to go, it's my turn to serve. You're going down Angelique Kerber!

Overall Score: 7.0 / 10 Forgotton Anne

Have you ever kicked a sock underneath the bed? What about that table you once loved, but now sits in your garage covered in dust? Well, after playing this game, you'll wonder what happens to objects that we forget about. Developed by ThroughLine Games, Forgotton Anne introduces you to the story of an enforcer of the Forgotten Lands named Anne. Anne's main goal in the game is to defeat a rebellion that is preventing her and her master, Bonku, from returning to the human world.

In the opening scene a clock goes missing, a man hits the off button on his alarm, gets out of bed and leaves. Underneath the bed, a blue sock falls screaming for his life as he's dropped into a dreary and dark looking place. He is then picked up and brought to a plant in the area. Inside the plant, a quality assurance lady overlooks all incoming objects coming through the plant. She sees the blue sock and tells a tale that she's seen many of his kind come through the plant before. Thus, everyone is sent on their way.

Next, we go far, far underground, underneath a grate and see Anne sleeping on her bed. The power goes out, it's raining outside and there's a loud bang. Anne wakes up and wonders what's going on. You then have the opportunity to look around at a few things, one of which is a picture of a man and Anne when she was younger. Anne tries to turn on the light but it doesn't work. Anne goes and walks outside to the balcony only to find that things aren't looking good. Different areas in the land look completely blacked out and she sees smoke coming from the Watchtower, wondering if her friend is okay. There is also a fire at Central Station and Anne feels she must get over there as soon as she can. That is all I am going to tell you about the game's plot.

Gameplay can be best described as a point and click puzzle type. Anne's movement is controlled with your joysticks, but if you want her to perform an action, such as transferring anima energy from one place to another, you're going to need to point where you want the anima to go and it will go if it's destined for that place. I found this action to be my favorite as it gives more animation to something so simple.

For the most part, if you want to speak to another character, or answer questions set forth, you must point and click away. The way to best describe Anne without calling her the protector of the forgotton lands is calling her a detective. You're investigating why things are the way they are in the forgotton lands. You're also trying to figure out what the rebels are really after.

Do you like games that keep getting better and better as things progress? If you do you'll love this game! It was extremely engaging right from the beginning. From the questions that pop up, to interacting with the other characters, I found great enjoyment in progressing through the narrative. I've always wanted to save a town from rebels who aren't even of the human species! There's too many great aspects of this game to go over, so I've picked my top three.

My third spot belongs to the story line and plot. It was well written and thought out. The story itself flowed extremely well,so much so that it will keep you engaged in it. Have you ever had a power outage at your house? Remember how it felt? It was cold, dark and lonely. That's literally the first ten minutes of the game. I love this because everything worked so harmoniously together. From the voice acting, to the character interactions and the hand-drawn drawings. Fantastic!

My number two spot belongs to the voice acting. Have you ever played a game where the voice acting was mediocre at best? I definitely have. This game isn't one of those games at all, I promise you. I was not expecting the exceptional level of voice acting as I got in Forgotton Anne, but I was taken by surprise with the quality. I love seeing and listening to the characters communicate and each character has their own quirky voice, adding to their distinct personalities. It's highly entertaining to those of us who want quality in our games.

Hands down though, my favorite aspect to Forgotton Anne is the hand-drawn art, by a landslide. I was blown away by the sheer talent of whoever drew all of this art. I for one am not a Pablo Picasso by any means, as I can only draw a basic fish, a stick man, and maybe if I'm patient enough, a simple house on a hill. I would love to draw as good as the artist who drew all of this anime inspired art, but sadly, that's not the case. Just by playing the game, I can tell how much passion and time took to draw every item, every tower, every rail car and detail. I appreciate that level of dedication coming from these artists.

Overall, Forgotton Anne is a phenomenal addition to any gamers collection. From the character development to the beautiful hand-drawn art all the way through the game, it is evident that love went into this game. You'll see that from the beginning all the way to the end. Go out and buy this! I promise you, this will not be a game that will soon be forgotton.

Overall Score: 9.5 / 10 Masters of Anima

Have you ever wanted to take control of an army and make them do whatever you want? Look no further than Masters of Anima. Created by Passtech Games, Masters of Anima is an action real-time strategy game, where you play as the main character, Otto. Otto is a Shaper Apprentice and he wants nothing more than to marry Ana, the most powerful Anima Master of Spark. However, as per tradition, Otto and Ana cannot marry until he passes the trial to become a Master of Anima, so Otto must complete the trial of Shaping a Guardian Protector.

So, how does he do this you ask? Good question. Well, he must go to the Hall of Tribulations and meet with Master Jaku. While on the way to the Hall of Tribulations, you'll pick up some anima flames on the way. These anima flames are little green glowing circles that grant you the ability to summon guardians. Who are guardians? Another great question indeed, as these are the minions you will control. As for the scenery, the path you walk through makes it look like a forest-type area. Also, you have no map, which isn't a huge problem because the gameplay gives you generally a clear path to follow.

Ok, back to that "guardians" question. They are Protector Guardians (the first guardians you'll learn to use) that are armed with an axe, stellar blocking and resistance, and are top notch defenders in combat. They follow Otto everywhere he goes, kind of like a toddler or a puppy but a hoard of them. You can tell them to go to a location away from you or you can send a recall order to make them stop their current task and return. Isn't that cool? It's like your own small army of minions, and who doesn't like minions?

Some of the tasks that you can ask your guardians to do is move heavy statues, break through a rock barrier on the ground or attack an enemy, to name a few. Guess what though? All of that hard work defeating enemies and bosses is rewarded with, you guessed it, more anima flames. Anima is the fuel that the guardian summoning magic relies on, much like mana, so you'll need to keep collecting it throughout your adventure. No anima means no more summoning guardians. That means trouble if you run out, as all your guardians can die while you still have enemy guardians attacking you. You can have an army up to 100 guardians at a time, which if you ask me, is one heck of an army.

This next bit of the game is purely based on my personal preference, as I didn't enjoy the art style or enemies. The only reason for this is because both were slightly repetitive. You constantly walk into similar environments without much variety, and I'm someone that loves different scenery. Varying environments keeps me focused on the game and entertained without making the game feel repetitive by simply walking to room after room that just happen to have enemies that look like previous ones. I'm a gamer who is drawn to environments and graphics, so the more variety the better, and I am sure that I am not the only one who just may think like this.

As you play this game, you'll be given main story quests alongside some side quests. The side quests are simple, such as collecting flowers and destroying corrupt crystals. I mean, to each their own, and who doesn't love an easy side quest to gain some experience to level up? However, I found the side quests to be slightly bland, but that's just a minor nit pick. It's nothing that's going to ruin the game. Something I'd like also mention is that when you defeat enemies, you simply walk through to the next area. There was quite a bit of empty space in certain spots that left me feeling like there could have been something in the area to keep you engaged and focused.

So, what's the verdict? While Masters of Anima has a couple flaws, I believe this game is worth trying. It may not be my kind of game per se, but I know there are gamers out there that like DOTA-like games, and this has a similar feel to it. If you like strategy based games I would give this one a try. The story is good to follow and I didn't mind the the overall concept of Masters of Anima at all, even though it wasn't my cup of tea.

Overall Score: 7.0 / 10 Switch - Or Die Trying

Switch - Or Die Trying, a game developed by Threye, is a game about a character named 'I' who has lost all his friends and 'I' needs to find them. Who are his friends you ask? They are the other 25 letters of the alphabet of course! You need to help 'I' get his friends back by playing 75 challenging levels. When I say 'challenging', I am not kidding. It's no joke. 'I' may look cute, but don't be fooled, as there is more to 'I', and the game as a whole, then meets the eye (see what I did there?).

The game is called 'Switch - Or Die Trying' because 'I' changes from a lowercase 'i' to a capital 'I' to help you navigate the levels. Little 'i' tends to jump a little higher whereas big 'I' doesn't jump as high, and this is due to his size (hey, being a capital letter does have it's disadvantages). You have to maneuver around a big spiky trap in most levels, and if you come into contact with the spikes, you die. I would tell you what shape the big spiky thing is, but it changes from level to level. The big spiky thing could be on the ground or up in the air right near 'that' corner that you have to jump up and over to get to the next area. Trust me, once you see this big spiky thing, you'll know what I mean.

The level progression is by far my favourite thing about this game. There aren't many games that I'm aware of that let you pick the levels you want to play. All you need to do is beat 10 levels, then the game unlocks a new world for you, as 'I', to play. Usually, standard games make you do each and every level in order before another one opens. Not this game!

Have you ever gotten so frustrated with a game that you stop playing? I have, many times, especially when the game won't let me progress until I beat the level I'm stuck on. Now, when this occurs in a game I play, one of two things usually happens. One: I quit playing for a couple weeks and try again, or Two: I ask my friend for help when he comes over. I love that Switch - Or Die Trying allows for this level flexibility, as you don't have to complete every level in the area before heading on to the next area, so you shouldn't hit a brick wall of difficulty.

Each level has three stars, one for your ink drop, one for beating goal time and one for completing the level. I will admit, beating the goal time is difficult. Most of the levels I beat, I have the ink drop and completed level stars, but I don't have many of the goal time stars. The majority of the puzzles are tricky, but eventually you will find solutions by trial by error. As you make your way through the game you may have second thoughts about collecting the ink drops.

These ink drops are usually found in out-of-the-way places, usually nearby that big spiky enemy I was talking about earlier. They can be time-consuming to go for, so you have to weigh the pros and cons in regards to if you do collect it, and risk meeting the 'goal time', or just keep moving on. Do I die trying to jump from this ledge or do I just complete the level? Decisions, decisions.

In the beginning, you will play through a mini-tutorial, which is considered level one. It teaches you the very basics of the level and gameplay mechanics, then you begin the starting book 'Beginnings'. You open the book and you get to jump to your choice of level. I mean, 'I' literally jumps to the level you select which I found a really cool touch. As you progress, the levels get harder and quicker more than you'd expect. By level 4-5, it's very tricky, with much trial by error. Your trusty problem solving skills will be your best friend, but prepare to die, a lot.

I really enjoyed the game's music as it was really upbeat and unique, suiting the gameplay. It would be at a normal pace and then once you go over the time allotment, the music goes from calm to a fast paced drum-type music. The music during gameplay is engaging and keeps you interested, suiting what is happening on screen.

Switch - Or Die Trying is for those who are looking for a real challenge. This game, in my opinion, could be compared to Cuphead and Super Meat Boy in respect to the each games difficulty. Every move you make could mean you move forward, or you die and have to start all over. The other beauty of this game is its unlimited deaths. You could die twenty times in a row if you wanted to and you'd still go back to the level you're on. I'd recommend this game to anyone who's up for a hardcore puzzle challenge. Thumbs up Threye!

Overall Score: 9.5 / 10 Adventure Pals, The

Published by Armor Games Studios, The Adventure Pals is a quirky game about friendship. It involves a small boy and the crazy adventures he goes on with his giraffe and pet rock. You play as a boy who must explore his childhood as he goes on an epic quest to rescue his papa from being turned into a hot dog. Yes, I said hot dog, but who knows what toppings would be included. During your adventure you will encounter mysteries and delights along your the way as you explore all five areas, with each one being more surprising then the last. These five levels also comprises their storylines too, which is a nice feature, as there is incentive to keep going to the next level.

In the first level you encounter, you'll learn how to play the game and discover it has incredibly responsive controls. The game teaches you the mechanics quickly, such as running and jumping, but everything changes when you meet your new adorable pet giraffe, Sparkles. While you can jump normally, Sparkles has the ability to use her tongue.

Overall, The Adventure Pals is a pretty standard 'jump-and-whack' your enemy with a sword type of game, nothing too difficult, which makes it perfect for anyone at nearly any age. The best thing, in my opinion, about The Adventure Pals is its capabilities of both single player and co-op modes. I mean, any game that you can play with friends automatically is more fun and interesting, am I right?

My first impression of The Adventure Pals was that I thought it looked so cute and innocent, reminding me of Castle Crashers because of its similar gameplay and style. Exploring five different locations, you get to jump around, kill enemies and collect coins. The cool thing that I liked collecting was cupcakes! You heard me right... cupcakes! You have to collect five (5) cupcakes per area to give to the cupcake king title, rewarding you with awesome new outfits for your pals. I found it entertaining, because how many games have you played that one of the goals is collect cupcakes and dress your pets? Not many that I know of. Another cool thing that you can collect are stickers which are kept in your sticker book. Some of the ways that you can get new ones are from characters or by completing certain challenges, so there's some content here for those looking to explore further.

Every time you level up, both your health and attack power increase, allowing you to choose a new ability card to add to your arsenal and make you feel much stronger in the battle against those pesky hot dogs. These hot dogs, along with a purple blobs with a red brains, red explosive blobs, and little triangles (this is the best way to describe them all), charge at you when you come near them, and they are one of the most creative things about the game that added more personality and charm.

As for the difficulty level, I felt it was set just about right. Gameplay slightly got more difficult as things progressed, but not too hard that the average person would have a hard time problem finding their way through the levels. I found the most difficult, and annoying part, were the times I didn't know where I was going, so I'd jump somewhere thinking there was a platform below, and sure enough, there was not and I'd die. That's a very small observation that doesn't affect my judgment on my score though because overall it's a pretty fantastic game.

The only glaring flaw that I could see, and one which was a little disappointing, is the combat. Most of the enemies you encounter don't need much work to defeat, so it devolves into a button mashing scenario, even including the bigger bosses with the exception of dodging attacks. I feel it's almost too simplistic at times. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind a stress free easy going game, but I felt that the enemies should have been a little harder to defeat. Such quick defeats make me feel like its not really a challenge, but more of a 'time killer' at times.

Although there are a couple flaws that bugged me, this is a fantastic game for those young and old, as well as being a great game to play with your friends or solo. The five locations are interactive and interesting to explore and The Adventure Pals themselves have quirky little characteristics about them, making exploring that much more entertaining.

The Adventure Pals is a solid indie platformer and nothing about the level difficulty felt unfair, as the movements were quick and snappy. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a laid back type of game. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to collect some more cupcakes!

Overall Score: 8.0 / 10 A Way Out

Brought to you by the director of the beloved game Brothers – A Tale of Two Sons, Josef Fares' newest creation, a game called A Way Out, is a unique title that takes co-op to a whole new level. Given that A Way Out is a completely forced co-op game that shows two sides to a very engrossing story, we figured that this review should also have two separate perspectives as well to be within the same essence of the game’s experience, showcasing two point of views based on the same game experience. So welcome my fellow writer, Adam, to this cooperative review of A Way Out.

A Way Out tells the arduous and intertwined story of Leo and Vincent, two cons who meet in prison and plan on breaking out, for their own reasons. To do so though, they’re going to have to work together and trust one another completely. Leo is your typical hot headed criminal who wants to solve his problems with quick and dirty violence. He’s not one to trust people and will get his hands dirty if need be. Vincent on the other hand is a thinker with a clear head, not wanting to hurt people if he doesn’t have to.

These two protagonists are completely different people that come from different walks of life, but they will need to trust one another to break out of prison. Their personality clashes make for some exciting exchanges, and when you need to decide who’s way of getting out of a situation is the best, since both players have to agree, you tend to want to side with your character, regardless if they are like your actual personality or not.

Adam: Yes, this exactly what I thought. I played as Leo, whose personality is nothing like mine at all, yet found myself wanting to side with him and make his decisions, even if they were brash and violent and not what I would want to do in real life should I be in those in-game situations.

Kirsten: I played Vincent and my personality is pretty similar to his. I'm the non-violent, somewhat logical one. I feel like playing Vincent, I kept strong to his personality and mine, I tried to not lose my cool or become violent. I like talking my way through things and coming to a solution that way in real life.

As mentioned above that A Way Out is a forced cooperative game, and by forced, we mean that there’s no possible way to play in a single player mode, even with an A.I. partner. This is a 100% co-op dependent game, though you can play online with friends or split-screen on the couch. What’s missing though is a matchmaking system, so you need to know someone to come over or to play online with from your friends list if you want to play.

Adam: Yea, the lack of matchmaking seemed odd, though it makes sense, as you’re going to want to be in constant communication, and being paired with a random player without a microphone wouldn’t be the best experience for such a co-op heavy game.

Kirsten: I have to agree with you Adam, I can understand why maybe matchmaking isn't the right fit for this game. What you have to take into account is that random person you are going to play the entire game through, or god forbid, they decide half way through because they don't like it and leave you hanging wondering what happens next. I personally would prefer playing it with a friend that I knew.

What makes A Way Out’s co-op truly unique though is that it’s the first game (that I know of) to include a Friendpass. Since it needs to be played in co-op, and with friends only, is makes no sense to have both players purchase the game since they are unable to play alone anyways. If you purchase A Way Out, you can have any of your friends invited to your game, which will prompt them to download the “free trial” and play from start to finish with you.

Adam: I hope this is the start of more games that include a Friendpass, as it’s a fantastic idea for games like this that require 2 players. I can’t even imagine the backdoor logistics that allowed this to get approved, but I really hope it stays around for other games as well.

Kirsten: To add to that, I also want to point out that it sucks to say, but some folks may not have the means to afford a game like this. Agreed, A Way Out is a fantastic price at $39.99, but I always like to think of those who may not have the opportunity. Friendpass is an excellent way to share with your friends.

While we don’t want to spoil the narrative, as it’s the crowning jewel of the game, with twists and turns abound, what we really loved was the cinematic feel it had. Because the game is played in split screen, even online, it’s done in a stylish way with multiple angles being shown, much like an Oceans 11 movie. The split-screen itself isn’t the standard 50/50 view either, as the focused window will enlarge, or shrink, based on who’s doing an important part. This cinematic style adds to the drama and excitement and adds an awesome touch to the storytelling.

Adam: Yea, the style that they had for both the gameplay and cinematics play out in a manner that it is similar to watching a Hollywood movie at certain points. The camerawork was intense and adds to the action, or makes the melodramatic moments have more weight to the emotions.

Kirsten: The cut-scenes are by far one of my favorites. They give the story so much meaning and feeling that makes the player feel connected to the current situation.

A Way Out is all about how its setpieces play out. One minute your trying to smuggle your partner into the laundry room, the next you’re back to back trying to scale a ventilation shaft. Be it on the run, in shootouts, or other crazy situations, these moments that play out are really exciting and add a ton of action.

Have you ever wondered what its like to be an inmate in prison? Have you ever wondered what happens inside its walls? Leo and Vincent will take you through two different points of views, both of which are intriguing for completely different reasons. Both stories are just as action packed, intense and dramatic as the other. You spend time in a cell, you eat in the chow hall, get into fights and sneak around to get what you need to break free, once and for all.

Adam: These setpieces remind me a lot of what you would come to expect from an Uncharted for example. A few of these are very memorable and after completing a few of them, we both looked at each other and mentioned how intense it was.

Kirsten: I loved the intensity. I loved the scenes and how well we reacted to them. It made me feel so connected to the content and the characters.

What surprised both of us the most was its $39.99 (CAD) asking price. Factor in only one person needs to purchase it to allow one to play via a Friendpass with others, and you’ve got a great value for an entertaining cooperative game. It really is a gaming experience that you shouldn't miss out on with one of your friends.

Adam: I quite enjoyed A Way Out, save for the shoddy shooting mechanics. While some might scoff at QTE's for much interaction, it felt fitting here. Vincent and Leo couldn't be more different, but seeing their relationship go through stages throughout the course of the game was the highlight for me, leaving me shocked by the time the credits rolled. The pricepoint is perfect for the experience given and I'm glad to have enjoyed playing through it with a friend.

Overall Score: 9.0 / 10 Symmetry

Symmetry is a survival management game set in a retro-futuristic, post-apocalyptic world. I wasn't really too sure about this game and I'm still not yet sold after a my time playing it either. Made by Sleepless Clinic, this game gives the players a different interpretation of a survival game, one that strays from the usual world of shooting zombies in the head or trying to get through some apocalyptic event.

I will be honest here, as a gamer, I'm not a huge fan of survival games, but I figured I'd give this one a shot, based on the fact that this game doesn't have jump scares, scary music or an extremely dark room that I have to navigate around and not die. I'll admit that it is somewhat nice to see a survival game that is not based on creepy music and creatures jumping out of the dark, as playing in a first person mode as it allows gamers of who are fans of different genres to check out something different.

So, what is this game about? Well, a research spaceship reaches an abandoned planet. Nothing is what it seems here though and the situation quickly slips out of control. To be honest, there's not much of a story here. There's a short scene with a narrative that tries to set the basis of the game up for you, and then you go right into the gameplay. I am one of those gamers who loves the narrative in a game. I love to learn the backstory behind a game's events, where I'm about to spend a few hours or more in, but unfortunately that is not to be found here.

Your main goal is to manage the crash survivors and help them withstand the silent, extremely cold environment in-order to fix their spacecraft and escape. You are in control of your crew members' every move. From repairing the machinery in the spacecraft to basic life skills such as eating. If your crew members get cold or sick, they will die if you don't catch what may be affecting them quick enough.

To ensure your crew members stay alive, you need three key resources: lumber, food and power. Lumber and power can be found on the outside of the spacecraft while you can grow food inside the ship. You have a limited amount of time to complete your upgrades and act on the objectives you need to solve. This game doesn't take long to run its course. Once your crew members die, the game is over and you are back to the main menu.

You can spend time researching and upgrading your equipment, which I found was doable, but it will be at the expense of your crew. If you research and upgrade, you aren't focusing on gathering lumber and food. If you don't have heat, your crew will die of hypothermia. If you don't have food, your crew will die of starvation. Can you see the pattern here? Completing research, upgrading, collecting and ensuring the health of your crew can't all be done in this game simultaneously. You have to pick only a small handful of things and no matter what you chose, your crew will die. This fact makes this game one of those you play a few times and move onto something else (in my opinion).

Although this side scrolling game is short, the visual aspects are well done. It has an interesting art style and the colours working well with the environment you're in. It's not that bad to look at at all. On the other hand, I feel like the overall sound could have been executed a little better. It doesn't have much for background music or sound effects other than some beeping when you try to click something that you're not supposed to at the time. What little sound there is in the background made the game feel very monotone, slightly boring and hard to concentrate on.

After playing Symmetry, I felt that it was very continuous in such that there was little to no variance in the outcome no matter how I played, what I fixed, or which crew member I tried to save. In essence, I found that there was no winning and escaping. I usually don't like to talk negative about a game, but I feel I have no choice here. Symmetry isn't much fun after a few hours and I honestly feel this is a game that those who play will lose interest in due to the flaws of the gameplay, the lack of sound and lack of character development. But on a more positive note, there are worse games out there, that is for sure.

Overall Score: 6.0 / 10 Nightmares from the Deep 3: Davy Jones

Nightmares of the Deep 3: Davy Jones opens with you and your daughter at the museum watching a presentation about...surprise, surprise, Davy Jones, and as you do so the computer used for the presentation starts to go fuzzy and act up. Naturally, you click a few buttons and the presentation continues, only to act up again. But this time Davy Jones comes on the screen saying that you were warned. Suddenly, a huge wave breaks the wall of windows and in comes Davy Jones and his henchmen. They kidnap you and your daughter and throw you in the holding cell on his ship, thus beginning your adventure to escape and stay alive.

While on Davy Jones' ship you manage to escape the holding cell, only to have him catch you once again, forcing you, as the mom, to walk the plank. As you take a few steps onto the plank, your daughter frantically pleads that she'd do anything to save you. Davy curiously asks ”'Anything?”, as he brings out a scroll. He informs your daughter that in order to save you, she must sign the scroll that what we will call 'Davy's deal. She signs it, but something goes wrong as he pushes you overboard. It's up to you now to break the pact and save your daughter!

As a first timer playing any of the Artifex Mundi games, I have to say, within just a couple of hours of Nightmares of the Deep 3, I became a huge fan of this game, the genre, and developer Artifex Mundi. I love it! I enjoyed everything from the gorgeous graphics to the engaging story line, as I wasn't sure what to expect going in. There are two types of difficulty levels: normal and expert. Normal allows you access to hints and skips, whereas when playing expert, you get no such help and you will fend for yourself amongst the slew of puzzles ahead of you.

Nightmares of the Deep 3 is a point and click game, much like all of the rest of Artifex Mundi’s library on console. You must find key items to unlock certain areas, complete several hidden object games, and solve logic puzzles that will all help you progress through the campaign. All of this provides a great story of the history behind Davy Jones, as the conflicts are suspenseful and enjoyable to play along with.

The time and effort put into the artwork, and story, is much appreciated and quite beautiful. As I played, I felt that I was in the moment with the characters. From the waves crashing into the museum, Davy Jones making his first appearance, to the detail that you will find in the puzzles and how precise you have to be to complete them.

Some of the puzzles are image based where you must rotate the picture, piece by piece, to complete it, while others require you to line up all the objects in a line organized by colour, but they can only go in certain directions. One of my favourite games within the game is the Mahjong puzzles, which is your traditional Mahjong, pairing two pictures that look the same. And of course the further you progress, the more challenging the puzzles and mini-games become.

Nightmares of the Deep 3: Davy Jones is about three to four hours long, but it is well worth your time, and money, for the price. The puzzles aren't too difficult, yet they do require trial and error, as well as basic problem solving skills. The best thing about this game, in my opinion, is the fact that you can make as many mistakes as you'd like, or even not like, with no consequences other than your own wasted time. The game provides you with hints that, after use, are regenerated after a brief period. Whether you run through the whole game using a few hints or skips, using them all, or not using them one bit, the quality of the game does not change. You will have a well written story and amazing visuals.

The third instalment of the Nightmares of the Deep series did not disappoint me, even though I have not played any of the previous ones. With the phenomenal artwork, the excellent in-game experience, and the well written story line, I’m already wanting more games from Artifex Mundi. Please forgive me, but I must continue my search for a gold bird, tree, circle and sailboat and find Davy Jones' treasure!

Overall Score: 9.0 / 10 Station, The

Created by a group of Triple A Veterans, The Station is a first person exploration game located in an abandoned space station. You are essentially an investigator hired to look for the station's missing crew and restore power. So needless to say, you are going to be doing a lot of exploring and investigating within the environment you are put into.

Have you ever wandered around an unfamiliar store, looking for something your wife or husband told you to get, but they gave you a very vague, if not much at all, description? This game makes me feel like I'm wandering around an unfamiliar store with no clue what the item I need to find is or where the item may be located. In terms of The Station, and it's setting, the deeper you explore in this space station, which is dark, eerie and has little to no sound or music in the background, it gives you the impression that you're all alone. That being said, it also gives you the unsettling feeling about what else just might be lurking around the next corner.

As you wander around your environment you must explore everything you possibly can. You are granted permission to access certain areas from the get-go, but you'll find that there are certain areas where you are not granted access to and you need to find ID bracelets of the crew members, or room key cards, to gain said access. Where are these key cards and ID bracelets you ask? Well, I have to admint that I have been asking that question the entire time while playing the game.

Objectives in the game include finding crew members, restoring different parts of the space station, and repairing mechanical robots. I found these objectives to be quite achievable, that's if you can somehow manage to find the bracelets and key cards to access other areas of the space station. I played this game for a handful of hours, essentially walking around, opening the exact same doors, going in the exact same rooms, only to find myself more confused and frustrated. When I finally figured it out after hours of playing, I realized something, and that was that the game is extremely short. We're talking 'enough-time-to-take-a-shower' short.

The game does not make it obvious where these items and/or objectives are, which I can deal with, and most other gamers can deal with, but if you're like me, who likes to search around for things and feel a sense of accomplishment when they are finally found, then this aspect of the game may frustrate you. Let me explain.

The problem was I couldn't seem to find these items anywhere, regardless of where I looked or what item I picked up. As mentioned earlier, you have to acquire key cards and ID bracelets to get into different places; however, most don't give you the requirements for acquiring the items, except for the fact that first ID bracelet is in plain sight.

The game allows you to pick up several items, though there are no visual indicators to indicate what an item is, such as a text on or above the item, like a lot of games have. You pick them up and only get the option to rotate them to look at them, as you are not able to put the item in your inventory. You have to physically hold the grab button and walk wherever you want to go with the item floating in front of you. While you're walking around with this thing, there is no indication in the surrounding area where it may belong, or if it's even the correct item you need. This causes you to waste a lot of time with items irrelevant to the current objective, simply guessing if you're correct or not.

When you attempt to put an item you think may be a module, ID bracelet or a key card, it doesn't give you any visual or audio indication as to if its incorrect. If it's right, the item will go into its place, so it simply becomes a matter of trial and error with a lot of experimentation. It clearly could have been a simpler, and more guided, step.

The Station looks promising with the futuristic setting and impressive graphics, but with lack of in-game player knowledge to complete objectives, I find it falls flat on other fronts. I'm in no way saying that 100% game guidance is required, as games should provide a challenge; however, in a game with little to no character dialogue, some guidance would have been greatly appreciated. I had played this game for three days, an hour and a half to two hours each time, and my gaming experience did not change, which saddened me because I'm the type of gamer that will keep on gaming if I enjoy it.

One of my biggest positive impressions is that the visuals are fantastic; the detail that went into the robotics, the space station itself, the surrounding outside area, and the holograms that pop up, as opposed to boring menus full of text, are a huge plus and very impressive! However, I do feel that a little more work could have gone into the in-game player experience so that it doesn't simply fall into the 'walking simulator' category. On that note, if some sort of fixes or changes are made in the gameplay areas that just don't make sense, than by all means, it could be a phenomenal game, but for now it's no where near out of this world.

Overall Score: 5.0 / 10

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