Member Game Reviews 2023

Game: Big Ambitions (Early Access)

What and where: A third person business tycoon game that sees you opening businesses across a sizable chunk of New York City. The game is in early access.

What do you do? In a third person, isometric view, you select locations to start and run businesses, anything from a variety of retail outlets to different office-based businesses.

There are optional survival-type mechanics of hunger, energy and happiness. Travel around the city is done by several means: on foot, driving, taxis and subways.

Don't think you'll get away with only a little work. After you select your type of store and store location, you'll need to go to business furniture outlets to buy things like cash registers, product fixtures, decorations, security products, speakers (for in-store music), etc. Set these up in your store as you like and remodel the walls and floors to be more attractive. Now you can either go to a recruitment service to hire employees or use your company's headhunters (if you have any).

While your employees are in training, you can set up your supply chain. Choose where you are going to buy from and set up your orders. If you have a warehouse, they'll ship your orders there where your logistics specialist and delivery drivers will ensure the products get to the store (you'll have to decide how many you want of each).

You can work in the stores yourself if you like. Running the cash register for awhile is a great way to see what your customers think of your store. Is your store attractive? How are the prices. After running your store for awhile, you may want to make some changes.

The goal of the game is simple: amass your fortune and become the business/Real Estate king of New York.

Some of the businesses you can run are:
Liquor Store
Gift Shop
Clothing Store
Florist
Jewelry Store
Fast Food Restaurant (various types)
Coffee Shop
Supermarket
Hair Salon
Nightclub
Law Firm
Web Development Company

New types of businesses are being added with each update.

The Good, The Bad
The game works remarkably well. Occasionally after updates there will be a bug here or there, but they are quick to patch it.

The gameplay stays fresh due to their being so many different types of buildings and businesses to put into them. And if setting up businesses begins to wear thin, you can always contact an installer and have them set up the business for you. You can find blueprints for businesses made by other players from an in game menu.

The only negative, really, is that the game is in Early Access and can theoretically change for the worse (which it temporarily did after the second major update). If you have a tolerance for Early Access and what all that entails, then I have no doubts about recommending the game if you like business tycoon games.

The Graphics:
The graphics are nothing special. They are very serviceable.

Performance and Bugs:
The game runs very well even in large stores with tons of products and customers. As far as bugs go, just expect that there may be a few immediately following major updates, but that they will be patched pretty quickly/
 
I've never been particularly talented at conveying my thoughts/experiences/feelings
I disagree, I think you did very well here explaining how you suck at this ;)

I doubt I'll have time to gather, organize and write good stuff like Zed, but I do have a few rough n ready in my notes :)

Picross Touch free

This is a great intro to the Nonogram sub-genre of puzzle games, and very well done for a free game. I finished all 366 levels and can confirm that they are all solvable logically, ie without needing to guess. Ideal for a quick play in between other tasks or bigger games.

The interface is simple, functional, and just works. The levels are:
♣ Tutorial.
♦ 57 very easy 5x5, each doable in 10-20 seconds going quickly.
♥ 122 medium 10x10 levels.
♠ 187 hard 15x15, which can take 10 minutes towards the end.

Here's Wiki's short explanation of the genre.

Definitely recommend if you're new to the genre, it's my time-filler of choice at the moment. There are tens of thousands of community levels, so it can be your game for life if it clicks for you :)
 
Game: Super Mega Baseball 4

What and Where: A baseball game on PC and consoles. Mine was bought on Steam.

What Do You Do? You play baseball, but there is an optional franchise mode where you can draft players, sign free agents, and allocate money for player development. You can play official teams, but everything can be edited, so you can make your dream team if you like. Sort of has co-op and multiplayer (see below why it is "sort of").

The Good, The Bad: Mechanics wise, playing a game is absolutely fantastic. You can learn to play quickly, but getting good at it will take awhile, and you can never be too good or too bad because there are 99 difficulty levels.

Personally, I found it harder to play with keyboard/mouse, so I use a controller, but I know that a lot of PC players do use their kb/m.

The franchise system is improved over SMB3, giving you the option of drafting your team at the start of franchise play, and giving you more control over which players stay and which players leave at the end of the season (you can offer more money if you have it).

SMB4 also introduces real life baseball players for the first time, though not in a way that would let you recreate a full MLB league. I don't know the number of real players, but it's enough to fill 8 teams. Most of these real players are older players like Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, etc. I found it pretty fun to make an all time MLB dream team.

Graphics: Graphics are stylized cartoon graphics.

Performance and Bugs: Ah, here's your problem. There aren't any bugs that I've noticed, but performance issues make the game unplayable in multiplayer, as you will suffer non-stop stutters and rubberbanding. Just to make sure, I asked players on reddit whether they had the same problems, and they did. Single-player runs smoothly enough most of the time, but will have some stutters here and there.

Recommendation: If you just want to play a fun, single-player baseball game, this will be a good purchase. If you are primarily interested in multiplayer, I can't recommend this game at all at this time. If they ever fix the multiplayer, I'll update this review.
 
Amazing Pyramids: Rebirth $7

I like this 2021 game a lot, far better than the 2010 prequel . If you like word games, and especially Hangman, this is worth a look. It consists of a main game with 55 levels, plus 3 mini games, and has a leaderboard.

Each of the 55 levels consists of a pyramid of 7 words, from 9 letters down to 3. You're shown the category the word belongs to, eg Animals, Countries etc.

Power-ups
After a few levels you start to accumulate 4 power-ups, which:
♣ Fill in one letter in the position you select
♦ Fill in all the vowels
♥ Knock out 5 unused letters from your alphabet selection
♠ Discard the given word and give you a new word

Scoring
You earn game points and power-up points from:
♣ Quick word completion
♦ Making no mistakes after your first correct letter
♥ Picking X-in-a-row letters without a wrong 'un
♠ Guessing the word correctly before you have all the letters

Mini Games
The 3 mini games are:
♣ Guess the jumbled words put on screen, one at a time for 3 minutes;
♦ Make as many words as you can in 3 minutes from a random 12 letters;
♥ A pyramid without a category clue or power-ups.

Conclusion
Main downside is a few words are in the wrong category, like say a fruit in vegetables, but it's not a big deal—dev's name is Oleg Sereda, so probably not a native English speaker.

Very decent value for $7 imo.
 
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Zloth

Community Contributor
You asked for it! (Though I think I may have done this before.) My favorite game of aaaaaaalllll time (excluding MMO's, which are more about the people I play with than the game itself) would be

X3: Terran Conflict

This is a space rags-to-riches game that's pushing toward "sandbox" but isn't quite in that category, IMHO. There are storylines to follow - fairly big ones, in fact - but they're pretty different than in an RPG that keep you more-or-less constantly engaged with some side quests to provide some variety. These quests will often leave you with something like "come back when you have five freighters full of iron ore" when you've only got one freighter and only enough cash to fill it half way up. You're expected to spend the next 10-20 hours figuring out how to get those freighters all by yourself. While these quests do certainly add a much needed narrative (and sometimes tutorial elements) to the game, their main purpose seems to be more like that of trail markers in the big sandbox, giving you goals that will lead you toward building up a mighty space empire.

I should get one thing out of the way right at the start: this is a BIG game that requires patience and a willingness to learn several game systems. Plenty of people aren't going to ever be interested in a game like this. When you say you want more depth, you mean games should get off the continental shelf, not the fraggin' Mariana Trench! Fine, check the pretty screenshots and move along, this isn't a game for you. Many others will be very interested but just don't have the free time needed to play something like this. Also fine. Note the funny "X Series" name and try to remember to look it up when the nest gets emptied out. See you in X5 or 6. If you've got the time to invest, though, this game is really something special.

Setting

Space is divided up into many sectors. Each sector is a block of space that's connected to other sectors via jump gates. Different sectors have different resources, different space stations, may be filled with thick nebula clouds, and could be owned by one of a few existing races. They have different music and skyboxes that may show planets or other interesting space things, but those don't have any effect on game play.


(Terran Tyr M2 Destroyer leaving a gate)
The different races all have space empires of their own, complete with their own ship types and weapons. Pirates typically use ships from the races around them only with crazy paint jobs but the Yaki faction actually make a bunch of their own. This gives rise to a huge variety of ships and weapons in the game. And, surprisingly, if you do a few jobs for these factions, they'll let you buy them! Try doing contract work for the US government and see how they feel about letting you buy a fully operation tank from them, never mind a battleship!

Besides the pirates, there are also a couple of "evil" races in the universe: the Xenon and the Kha'ak. Both are machine races and, unlike the pirates, there's no reasoning with them. Naturally, they also have their own ships and weapons.

Moving around the galaxy is done via the gate system at first. However, driving from one corner of the map to the other can take a long time. There's a couple of things to help with this. The first is the SATA system, which is pretty straightforward: you turn it on and the game plays 2 to 10 times faster than normal. The second is the jump drive and it comes a bit later. That lets you jump directly to any jump gate that you've discovered. It costs a bit each time you use it but it sure does get your fleets to a battle fast if every ship has one.

What to do for Step 2

So you start up the game and complete Step 1: pick your starting option, get handed a ship, and go through a quick tutorial on how to fly it. Step 3 is, of course, rule your newly founded space empire that you built using your starting ship as the seed. What are you actually doing in between? There's quite a few options:
  • Hire yourself out to defend a base from attackers.​
  • Follow a ship to see where it goes (probably a pirate base).​
  • Ferry passengers from station A to station B.​
  • Buy stuff from station A and sell it for a profit at another station. (You'll want to set up some satellites to keep track of prices at various stations.)​
  • Tell another ship you own to buy stuff from station A and sell it to station B.​
  • Pay somebody to fly a trade ship around buying from some stations and selling to others.​
  • Use a very large trade ship to place a station somewhere.​
  • Buy your own station and tell your traders to sell what it makes for even more profit while other traders by the raw material to make the goods.​
  • Buy your own raw materials station and link it into your other station to make even more profit.​
  • Deliver a ship of a certain type to another station.​
  • Shoot up small ships until the pilot bails out then take their ship and (possibly after repairing it) sell it off.​
  • Hire marines to capture bigger ships. Train the marines (a lot) and you can capture bigger war ships! You can then either keep the ships for yourself or sell them for a whole bunch of cash.​
  • Find abandoned ships. These are pretty rare and not very big but are sure nice at the start of the game.​
You'll likely be doing a lot of these. Some of these get a bit dull but, as the game goes on and you come to own more ships and stations, you'll find yourself spending more and more time managing those. Doing a dull passenger missions is a nice way to make a little extra money while still giving you time to deal with errant trade ships and pirate attacks.

The simple act of outfitting a new ship can be quite a task, too. When you buy a big ship, it doesn't come with any weapons. You'll need to buy (or otherwise acquire) your own. Missiles, torpedoes, and weapons that require ammunition aren't going to be of much use for very long if you don't have some way of keeping supplied. This is definitely not the kind of game where, when you get a lot of extra cash, you simply upgrade to a ship that's 50% bigger without a thought!

Modding

There's a strong set of mods for this game! Some... less patient folks have made mods so the game is not so much "rags to riches" as "designer jeans to riches" or even easier. Others have added ships which would get Egosoft sued into oblivion...

(from the DDTC mod, which no longer appears to be available)

Other X Games

Terran Conflict is actually the second X3 game. X3: Reunion was the first game but I haven't actually played it. As I understand it, X3:TC is a bit more advanced so I don't see much reason to play it. X3: Albion Prelude showed up as I was finishing X3:TC. It added even more to the game and, from the looks of the store page, added quite a bit more after I left as well.

Following X3 was X: Rebirth. This was a bit of an odd bird as it actually has a main mission that keeps you engaged a lot more. It was also a complete re-write of the game's engine. Egosoft's games have always shown up in a fairly weak state which they then patch up over the course of a few years while also adding more content. This one, however, showed up in a state that was nearly unplayable, never mind fun. It took them a good year before the game started to get good and, even after two paid DLCs, it still had some nasty bugs and a small talk system that's an absolute horror. Mods to Rebirth have helped out quite a bit but the fans, many of whom bought on day 1, felt really burned.

X4 is the current game. It's about to release its second DLC and is getting far better reviews than Rebirth. I haven't played it yet but I plan to soon!

X3:TC can be bought along with Albion Prelude for $20 even when there isn't a sale on Steam.
 
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header.jpg

Game:
Ship Graveyard Simulator 2

What and Where: Scrap ships, upgrade tools and scrap even bigger ships!

What Do You Do?
Take ships apart bit by bit using mostly a hammer and cutter. Just don't forget to turn off the gas or electricity. Call in a crane to get rid of containers and other cargo before finally using it to take away the hull elements.

You make money from the value of scrap and fulfilling Contracts. Each ship has three which requires certain scrap. As long as extract all of the elements that you can by crane and collect the rest of the scrap this is easy.

Recycle any leftover scrap and use it to upgrade your tools or sell it off for more profit.

The Good, The Bad:
If you've played the original Ship Graveyard Simulator then this is a bit of a simpler game, which I think is actually better. The ships get really big and working out the best way to take them down is interesting. Just be careful as you can cause a ship to completely implode on itself.

Before you can sell your scrap or use it to upgrade your tools you have to recycle it by playing a minigame to get each different type in the correctly coloured bin. If you get a long run of these you get some bonus cash. However with even medium sized ships this takes forever and the bonus cash is not worth doing it.

Upgrading tools gets expensive once you get to the highest tiers. It's a bit odd that going up to the most difficult ships means your tools are less effective. E.g. you have to hit a bolt twice rather than once to break it and cutting takes longer.

The physics aren't realistic. You can break certain connectors and have stuff on top crash down but can also leave a connector in place and have half the ship floating off on top of it.


It has a cheat mode! Just buy a few explosives and blast through a wall or two . Good for getting inside a room to turn off the electricity supply.

Graphics:
Actually quite nice. With my 6700XT I even had to turn a few settings down, although I expect the game isn't the most optimised.
ss_552831cbdc93f9881ebf8de3da87422747e1226f.1920x1080.jpg

The graphics and effects are better than I would have expected.


Performance and Bugs:
The game released on the 16th August and has recently had a large patch that has fixed a number of issues and added some features requested by the community. For instance you can now turn the Night time cycle off. Unfortunately it seems to have introduced a nasty bug that stops you switching tools. If this happens you have to go out to the main menu then back into the game, which resets your position back inside your hut.

I've had no crashes at all and it runs smoothly on my system, Ryzen 1600X, 6700XT, Sata SSD, 1440p resolution.

There are still some issues with hit detection when using the hammer but these are being fixed.


Recommendation:
It has a demo and the normal price of £16.75 is a good deal for this type of game. Rated Very Positive on steam and I've sunk 45 hours into it already.

If you like relaxing games that you can pop into and out of and don't mind repetitive
like gameplay then this could be for you.

There is also a good looking roadmap for the game

Score: 70%
I'd score it a bit higher if the tool freezing bug wasn't present.
 

RoboQuest - Fight to survive!

RoboQuest is a first person roguelite shooter. There are different characters with unique abilities, branching paths, and so, so many weapons. Each run has you start in a zone with randomized weapon drops, pick a weapon and enter through the doors. As you enter the arena, there are enemies already waiting to shoot you. You have to be quick and have fast reaction speeds, because you really want to save as much health as possible. As you progress, you have options on which zones you want to progress through. Each level is fairly short, often filled with secret rooms and multiple paths, and when you reach the end you load into the next zone. The main objective is to stay alive for as long as possible, fighting enemies and bosses along the way.

The randomization is awesome. There are so many guns and they have different levels of quality and different perks/abilities. You will probably be changing weapons often as you keep finding better drops during your run. It does take a while to find weapons you like, and sometimes you will get a weapon you like but with abilities you don’t. Throughout the levels, there are pitstops, little rest areas where you can refill a tiny bit of health and upgrade weapons. Here you can add new abilities or reroll the abilities already on a gun. You find the items used to upgrade your gear on enemy drops.

The enemies are a bit slow and telegraph their attacks, as well as having large bullets easy enough to see to be able to dodge, and they have a good amount of variety in their attacks and appearance. This all helps you learn what each enemy does and what you need to do to survive. Once you learn the different enemies and their attacks, you can plan your fights a little better.

Movement is great, it’s very fluid and fun to fly around the levels while dodging bullets. You can dodge, slide, grind on rails, and double jump. You are a ballerina amongst robots, and you must dance to survive.

At the end of each run, you return to your base with a pocket full of wrenches. You find these randomly throughout levels. These wrenches are used to upgrade your home base which adds to the core gameplay. For example, you can upgrade one of your shacks to provide a larger number of weapons to choose from at the beginning of each run, which offers better variety from the start.

The difficulty isn’t too hard, but it is challenging enough to keep you wanting to try again. It does get hard once the levels fill up with more and more enemies, keeping you on your feet and dodging as often as you can. You never run out of ammo so you never have to worry about anything other than shooting and surviving.

I would rate this game 9/10. It is amazing if you like twitch-shooters, something where your reflexes are really put to the test. You can play single player or 2 player co-op.

Check it out!
 
10x10 … I'm sure they actually require thought
Not much once you get the hang of it, you'll almost develop brain muscle memory for them after a while. But it takes a bit of getting used to.

I've settled on the 15x15 as the happy medium. 10x10 are too easy, and many 20x20 are just too much work I don't want to do in a time filler, eg:

JlGF8PF.png


I wish the 5x5 dividing lines were heavier—or my eyes were better!—so it was at-a-glance easy to count a row or column. That becomes a real pain in 20x20 with many lines having 5+ separate blocks.

The grid goes up to 35x35, I suppose I'll have to do one of 'em sometime just cos :eek:
 
Game: Hometopia (Early Access)

What and where: You run a building/remodeling/interior and exterior design business. Playable both solo and co-op.

What do you do? You take jobs, selecting from the constantly changing list of opportunities (I'm not sure, but I think that after the first few jobs, the jobs are procedurally generated). Jobs can include one or all of the following: remodeling rooms, building expansions onto the house, building detached buildings, building outdoor areas, and landscaping,

Each customer has a number of likes and dislikes, but how you address those is completely up to you. You can satisfy both your own creative urges and the customer's needs (this is significantly better than the jobs in House Flipper which had you just doing a shopping list of chores). Sometimes the customer is not entirely sure about what they want and you have to make your best guess by reading everything they say.

After completing the job, you get paid and rated by the customer in such a way that you can tell what you did well and not so well. As you complete jobs, you go up levels and unlock new things.

The game also has quite a few empty lots in a number of different biomes that you can buy with your earnings and build your own house there. I haven't been able to do this yet, but the building is very easy, and I believe that you can then sell these houses you've built if you want more money for your dream house.

The game will eventually feature a "Creative Mode" that did not make it into the launch day version.

The Good and The Bad: Well, on launch day the performance isn't great. I'm on a laptop with a 3070ti, and I've been able to get it to 45 to 60 FPS on medium-high settings. The developers are aware of the performance problems and say they are working on it. This is not at all unusual for Day 1 of Early Access.

I've had a few bugs, including having to shut the game down twice, in my 5 hours of play. I never lost any progress, though, so I wasn't really bothered by it.

The building and decorating are incredibly easy to learn and do. There's practically no learning curve at all due to how intuitive it is. And, as I said, I have really enjoyed doing the jobs so far. I was a little hesitant to buy the game since I was very burned out on House Flipper, but these jobs are actually fun, and I've been having a blast with the game.

Recommendation: Well, the user reviews are 'mixed', but that's not the whole story. People are being overly harsh because they thought, up until just a few days ago, that the game was going to be free, but due to the Unity price changing, they decided to charge for the game and make the DLC free instead.

The major complaints from the negative reviews are performance and the lack of a Creative mode. I talked about performance above and think that it's fine for day one. The major performance roadblock is "Rendering Quality". If you have problems with FPS, lower that first. I got an extra 30 FPS by dropping mine from High to Medium.

As far as the Creative mode goes, it's on its way. If that is crucial to you, you probably want to wait for it. For me, playing in Creative right away would have diminished the rest of the game, so I'm not really bothered by its absence. And, in any event, leveling up and earning money seems pretty quick.

I'm really enjoying the game and recommend it so long as you go in with the right expectations.
 
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Mystery in the Office < $2 Epic | Steam

Short and Cute

MitO is basically a treasure hunt adventure of about 60-90 minutes—there is no Save so don't quit in the middle!
ETA: just checked, took me 48 minutes—and I definitely got the 'final' ending ;)

You are in a deserted office building—mainly just one floor—and you have to find items and clues to get you to the Exit. There's no pixel hunting, click on things to collect them—or much more likely, to get a Bria smartass answer re why they're useless.

19 of 20 Steam ratings are positive, and I agree. It's well done for a little game, I didn't get trapped in the décor or spin in circles—well I did, but my game character didn't 🙄

This is dev 314 Bytes' only game—2023-08—so far, gone on my Follow list.
 
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Zloth

Community Contributor

No Man's Sky


The game is still fun, but I think all the updates have started getting in the way of things. For instance, limited inventory was a major motivator when the game first came out. Now you get much larger inventories and more of them. That's fine - maybe they don't want people to worry so much about that anymore, plus there's an option to make inventories more restricted when you start your game. The thing is, the older parts of the game still get very excited about chances to expand your inventory.

Inflation has been an issue, too, over all these years. If you put a new feature out that opens up a new money making mechanic, who's going to use it if you make less money than an existing mechanic? To counter that, they've provided some more slots for buying things. For instance, you can now own multiple ships and multi-tools.

The game has some serious strengths, too. Unfortunately, I don't know how to tell you which ones you'll like. Some folks really love making big, detailed bases. Some folks enjoy setting up a bunch of resource gathering systems and making vastly more money than they could ever spend. Some folks enjoy going to the Nexus and playing missions with other people. Some folks like picking up busted ships, fixing them up, and selling them off - or collecting ships they find interesting. (Just don't get into the game for space combat. Blah! Hold down the S key to back up. The game will steer your ship itself. Shoot enemies when they get in front of you, recharge your shields when they get low, and that's really all you need to know.)

Me, I'm in it for the exploration. Sure, the planets get "samey" after a while, but it takes a lot of hours. Even when other people are saying they're too similar, though, I'm still having a great time. Sure, I've seen nice planets with blue grass before, but this one has an incredible view of a ringed planet AND storms, so maybe I can see a rainbow going over the ringed planet. And the last planet with the blue grass has a bunch of mountains as well as sky eels. And the next one I find might be a moon of big planet, which can look really cool if you land in the right places. And then there's the one with the volcanoes... Most folks don't see that as being "different enough to count," but I love it!

And that's kinda how the game is now. They've bolted on all sorts of things for both new and returning players. Some work well, many work well for a certain subset of players, and some didn't work out well for anyone but still hang around the place.

SAVING

You can have multiple games going at once. However, each game has only two saves: one done frequently, one somewhat less frequently. You can NOT save any time you want early in the game, but it won't take long before you can build a save point and simply bring it along with you. There are certain points where saving is purposefully blocked off (e.g. exploring derelict freighters), too. If you absolutely must quit immediately, you can lose progress, but most of the time I would expect it to be less than 5-10 minutes.
 

No Man's Sky


The game is still fun, but I think all the updates have started getting in the way of things. For instance, limited inventory was a major motivator when the game first came out. Now you get much larger inventories and more of them. That's fine - maybe they don't want people to worry so much about that anymore, plus there's an option to make inventories more restricted when you start your game. The thing is, the older parts of the game still get very excited about chances to expand your inventory.

Inflation has been an issue, too, over all these years. If you put a new feature out that opens up a new money making mechanic, who's going to use it if you make less money than an existing mechanic? To counter that, they've provided some more slots for buying things. For instance, you can now own multiple ships and multi-tools.

The game has some serious strengths, too. Unfortunately, I don't know how to tell you which ones you'll like. Some folks really love making big, detailed bases. Some folks enjoy setting up a bunch of resource gathering systems and making vastly more money than they could ever spend. Some folks enjoy going to the Nexus and playing missions with other people. Some folks like picking up busted ships, fixing them up, and selling them off - or collecting ships they find interesting. (Just don't get into the game for space combat. Blah! Hold down the S key to back up. The game will steer your ship itself. Shoot enemies when they get in front of you, recharge your shields when they get low, and that's really all you need to know.)

Me, I'm in it for the exploration. Sure, the planets get "samey" after a while, but it takes a lot of hours. Even when other people are saying they're too similar, though, I'm still having a great time. Sure, I've seen nice planets with blue grass before, but this one has an incredible view of a ringed planet AND storms, so maybe I can see a rainbow going over the ringed planet. And the last planet with the blue grass has a bunch of mountains as well as sky eels. And the next one I find might be a moon of big planet, which can look really cool if you land in the right places. And then there's the one with the volcanoes... Most folks don't see that as being "different enough to count," but I love it!

And that's kinda how the game is now. They've bolted on all sorts of things for both new and returning players. Some work well, many work well for a certain subset of players, and some didn't work out well for anyone but still hang around the place.

SAVING

You can have multiple games going at once. However, each game has only two saves: one done frequently, one somewhat less frequently. You can NOT save any time you want early in the game, but it won't take long before you can build a save point and simply bring it along with you. There are certain points where saving is purposefully blocked off (e.g. exploring derelict freighters), too. If you absolutely must quit immediately, you can lose progress, but most of the time I would expect it to be less than 5-10 minutes.
I've got my old saves offloaded. Just need to get inspired. I should look through the update history since I last played.
 
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Game:
Megaquarium

What and Where: Tycoon game. Work through the campaigns to save struggling aquariums and turn them into world class facilities, or use the detailed sandbox settings to do your own thing.

What Do You Do?
In the base game, you have fish and quite a lot of different tanks, paint themes, customer convenience items (like restrooms, food and drink machines), and gift shop items. In a campaign, you typically start at a low level and work your way up by building prestige, which is gained through everything from your animals to your paints and signs. As you level up, you unlock new things. Two of the three DLC introduce quite a few new animals, including a variety of mammals, birds and reptiles, as well as providing new items to decorate with and new mechanics.

The Good, The Bad:
I've really enjoyed building the aquariums and complete all the campaigns, including the DLC ones, but my favorite part is the extensive sandbox. It has many settings allowing you to set up exactly how you want to play.

Pathing for visitors and employees is bad, but it makes it more challenging, and you end up feeling pretty good when you figure out how to get the customers around your aquarium efficiently in a way that builds your prestige. Some employee pathing and behaviors, however, can make it difficult to get you fish fed and equipment repaired in a timely manner unless you micromanage the setup.

Another feature I like is that you can use the mouse scroll to zoom in and enter first person mode and wander around your aquarium like the customers (only not wandering in circles and running into walls).

The DLC is well liked, but I found Freshwater Frenzy including too many fish needs that have to be managed.

Graphics:
Graphics are very basic, but you can make your aquarium fairly attractive with the paints and themes.

Mods:
The game has Steam Workshop support and mods are typically not broken by updates. They use the Farming Simulator system of mod creation, which is brilliant. Just about anyone can learn to mod this game just by looking at someone else's mod, or even just adjusting someone else's mod.

There aren't that many mods available, but you should find what you need. Be careful, though, many of the mods require one or more of the DLC and Steam doesn't notify you of this.

Performance and Bugs:
I've had one bug in my 117 hours played. It occurred the morning the latest DLC released. I reported it at 6:30 am and it was noted and fixed by 8 am.

Recommendation:
If you like tycoon games and aquariums and aren't bothered by the simple graphics, this is a no brainer. Very good. Very relaxing. Can have quite a challenge, too, if that's what you are seeking.

Score: 85%
Honestly, if you know what you are getting, this is about as good as it gets. I think the base game has enough content to merit this score, but if I rated the whole thing plus the DLC, I'd score it even higher. Slightly nicer graphics would also be good.
 
Festival Tycoon, $12.99 on Steam

Design, build, plan and manage music festivals. The basic gameplay starts with picking a location. There are 6 different locations included in the game, but the game provides a map editor and Steam workshop support, so you won't soon run out of locations for your festivals.

After choosing your location, you build out your basics, like placing entrances and stages, food and drink booths or restaurants, bathrooms and stuff you'll need like storage, medical and bouncer tents.

After setting your basic layout, you sign sponsors and get them set up, and then you go about booking bands. There are a good number of music genres and each one has a list of bands and information about each one. Not all of them are available every festival. Sponsors and bands all have different requirements. Some of these have to be met or you'll lose reputation with that band/sponsor. Others are optional that you can use to raise your reputation.

One problem with the game is that there aren't enough bands in each genre. Each band has a number of statistics you should theoretically care about, but in reality I had to sign every band that I could afford to just have the festivals. The situation was bad enough that I never knew what kind of festival I was going to be putting on until I looked at how many bands were available in each genre. This didn't ruin the fun, but it needs to be better.

After signing your bands and sponsors, you fill out the rest of your festival, adding things you need to meet their demands or just to make festival goers happier. There are quite a good number of buildings and decorations to place, but on most maps, you have very limited space, so you have to be selective.

Once you are completely done setting up your festival and selling pre-order tickets, you hit the button to start your festival and watch as it fills up with people, who set up tents and other camping gear in the area you've designated. The next morning the bands will start showing up and eventually take the stage. Time can be sped up or paused as needed.

As the festival goes along, events happen that you need to take care of, like running out of toilet paper at a portable restroom, or perhaps something has broken down at a shop. Sometimes fights break out. You can either take care of these things manually, or you can have your workers take care of them. You can set groups of workers on patrols so that you always have someone near where they need to be. The game can become quite hectic if you want to do everything manually.

The game's graphics are very low poly and the performance is good even during large festivals. I did possibly experience a bug. At one of my festivals, people kept getting injured and needing medical assistance. We're talking one right after the other. This was quite annoying, and it didn't happen in any of the other festivals I ran. In fact, if there were no fights breaking out, it was extremely unusual for anyone to be injured, so I suspect this was a bug.

While there is a lot of content for building your festivals (but not enough bands), I'm not sure how much replayability the game has, as every festival, regardless of the map you are on, ends up being mostly the same as the last festival you played. It is fun to work your way up from running festivals with small stages and little-known bands to running massive festivals with globally famous rockstars, but this only takes a few festivals to accomplish. If the game really clicks with you, though, you can make your own maps or download them from the workshop and get more playtime out of the game.

Overall, I did enjoy the game. With more bands there would be more player control and more things you could accomplish, and I would give the game a higher score. Also, I would describe the game as being fairly clunky, but playable. As things stand, I give it a 70.
 
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Zloth

Community Contributor

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy​


A had a lot of fun with this one! Maybe 88/100 on the PC Gamer scale.

The visuals for this game are incredible! I'll be posting screenshots, but the Tech Trailer does a good job of showing some of them off:
View: https://youtu.be/rTPVOcLbPlE?si=WRG5LDkbnfbztBUX

We sure could have used that back in the Brown Age.

There's a lot of chatter in this game. A LOT. The game took me less than 30 hours to finish, and I bet I heard 20 hours' worth of dialog. 25 hours if you take out the repeats. The characters banter almost non-stop! That bugged me at the start of the game when I would try to read some text the scanner was giving me, telling me what I was looking at, but I eventually got used to it. If you enjoy their quips, you're going to have a lot of fun. If not, you're going to want to avoid this game like the plague.

The battle interface took some getting used to. You've got 4 companions plus yourself. To use a character skill, you push the character's number, then pick from one of the 4 skills the character can have. It worked great for my companions (numbers 1 - 4) but I had a heck of a time picking out myself as 5. Now that I think about it, I should have re-mapped those keys to the number pad, using 2,4,8,6, and 5. Arg.

The music is mostly great, too, with songs from the `80's. Quite a few songs. When you're on the ship, you can pick which song plays, too. The music rights must have cost them, and I wouldn't be surprised to see the game de-listed in the future. Some people on the forums were worried that the DRM would also fail at that point. I don't really care, personally - I don't see a whole lot of replay value in this one. (There are a bunch of choices in the game, but only a few matter.)

IGN shows some early gameplay. You might want to cut off when the red eyes show up in the dark (11:34) to avoid some early game spoilers.
View: https://youtu.be/6mPnMZjyrLY?si=a0OaC9Uec_MIygCl&t=70


They did a good job of avoiding side areas. There are a BUNCH of those around the game. Most of them are pretty easy to discover and reward you with salvage parts, which you can use to upgrade Quill's equipment, a costume, and/or a bit of lore. Your companions will trash talk you for going the wrong way while you explore.

There are some minuses:
  • The game crashed on me a few times.
  • The save system is mostly a checkpoint save system. You do get three save slots and can save at any time, but the save will go back to the last checkpoint. What actually bothered me more was the fact that the checkpoints were so frequent! They would say a particularly good joke and I would try and re-load from the last checkpoint, only to find it saved already. It's pretty rare for me to say a game saves TOO much, but this one does! Fewer checkpoints and the ability to quick-save properly would have been much better.
  • There were some annoying bugs. I died in the final battle several times because the game suddenly decided to stop accepting input. (Quit to the main menu and re-load fixed it.) At another point, a cut-scene failed to kick in and I would just wander around a dark room until I fell through the floor and died (again, solved by a complete re-load from the menu).
  • One of the QTEs was pretty bad. I had to take a screenshot and look at it to figure out what it wanted me to do with the controls. The options (under accessibility) let you turn off QTEs completely if you want. Even if you like QTEs, you really won't lose much by dropping them out of the game - other than the one weird one, they're all very easy.
  • I got Rick Rolled! ;)
  • Cape physics were better in City of Heroes. Come on Eidos, that was an MMO from a decade back!
There's no DLC for the game. Normal price is $60 (so $2/hr!) but the game frequently goes on sale for $16.39.

Oh, for movie fans like me, I'm presume this game is based more on the comic books than the movies. Mantis, for instance, is a rather different character in the game. And Cosmo is a boy dog. (Still a BAD DOG! I got bit for picking that option. ;))
 
Baldur's Gate 3

There are not many games that I would give a 10/10. Not only because it means the experience has to be a grand one, but the minor faults would have to be so minimal that it would not destroy the overall excellent impression of the game. Larian Studios manages to pull this off, but not without its flaws.

The beginning

Right off the bat, you are met with an excellent music score combined with a slow cinematic descent to the temple of Bhaal.

Then it is time to show you a fitting intro and an introduction to one of the key parts of the game, the mind flayers and you. You, of course, can be who you want to be, but Larian Studios did recommend not going for any origins characters or the dark urge from the start because of how those characters impact the game in different ways. I definitely agree with that, especially considering how the interaction with your companions is one of the highlights of the game.

The customization is good, not as good as the best out there, but enough to be satisfied especially considering the deep character skills/multiclass options. The Dragonborn race has some of the coolest skin colors I have seen and it really stands out from the rest of the races. For those of you who have played Divinity: Original Sin 2, you will be happy to know that in the digital deluxe DLC for BG3, you'll be able to get your hands on the Cape of the Red Prince, a cape worn by another Dragonborn.


Lay of the land

The different acts reflect upon how you venture more and more into the main plot and the darkness that is slowly unfolding.

It starts with your typical adventurous lush scenery with a lot of wood areas and also music that has a more optimistically adventurous tone to it. That is not to say you won't stumble upon some dark-themed areas already, because just over that green hill you'll find everything from dangerous hags, harpers, skeletons, imps, goblins, spider caves, and devilish rituals. Then slowly, but steadily, you'll find yourself getting engulfed in darkness and looking for any way possible to bring some light around you.

Thankfully light is always close by, either from a light source, spell, or from a friendly companion helping you to shine just the smallest of light around you shielding you from the rot that is taking place. The fight between light and darkness is nothing new, but I do appreciate how they did it with BG3 and how you'll not find yourself hopelessly falling into it, but having different areas with that perfect balance between hope and despair. True hero stuff.


The Mind Flayer


You will quickly and painfully learn that there is a parasite in your brain and if you don't do something about it, it will turn you into a mind flayer.
Such a perfect parasite and such a perfect being it evolves into, like a larva into a butterfly, right? Well, at least according to the Mind Flayer. The Mind Flayers are vastly intelligent, competitive, and have an elder brain that controls them. At least that would be its purest goal and one that has made this race so successful in conquering other races over a long stretch of time. Needless to say, most people don't really like them a lot.

You'll quickly find out that there is more to these Mind Flayers than what was originally thought and this is one part of BG3 I found to be quite well written. They took some of the smallest pieces of lore and turned them into something that was really surprising.


Combat

The amount of different combat choices is mindboggling to say at least.

It is quite impressive just how many choices you have and it also makes each fight quite different. Of course, you could just cheese your way and go for the safe bets, but this game is not about that. It's all about playing around and using the environment to your advantage. This is not the first time Larian Studios has invited you to think outside the box and Divinity: Original Sin 2 is perhaps the studio's best example of that with how the different environmental effects and the way you could mix your skills for each fight made it both fun and comprehensive. BG3 builds upon that formula to the point of you doing just about whatever you want to do in a fight.

It is not without its flaws though and in the last act, the combat really does seem to struggle a bit. Fights take more time, the AI looks confused a lot of the time. Sluggish would perhaps be the best word for it. Definitely not like the other acts and it shows that Larian Studios could definitely have had another six months to a year to polish the game. Another annoying thing that occurred regardless of acts was that the Cleric's Guardian of Faith spell would just suddenly stop working for a long time if the AI didn't have any enemies in its radius.



The inventory

Come on Larian, you should know better!
If there is one thing I learned from Divinity: Original Sin 2, it is that Larian Studios does not know how to do inventory management well, but I would at least have hoped they'd made it better in BG3. Instead, you are met with a much worse system in which you basically just have a big inventory screen filled up with tons of stuff. Yes, you can use different bags and you have key/alchemy pouches and you can sort your items in different categories through a top-down menu or the mini-inventory, but that really does not help much. At the end of the game, you have an inventory so filled up with stuff that it almost makes you a bit fatigued.

How could they have prevented this? Oh, I dunno....naming bags maybe?! Seriously, this is sloppy work from Larian and the worst part is that since the last act is not that well optimized you'll also see that with the inventory because often in fights you'll get memory issues/lag when opening a full the-brim inventory.



Characters & dialogue

There I was skinny dipping with my companion...
Most of the companions I tried out were written and both Gale, Karlach, and Shadowheart stood out as the better ones. Gale with his witty charm and grandeur thoughts, Karlach with her inner rage, lust for life and revenge, and Shadowheart with her conflicted mind surrounding duty and grief. They all brought not only interesting combat options but also some well-written cinematics and dialogues. I grew fond of them, to the point of wanting to make a life together with Shadowheart.

Unfortunately, the last act didn't follow up on the different companion's story arcs that well. It was a quite bittersweet moment when the curtain finally dropped and I would have wished that they had a bit more focus on the ending, especially considering how a big part of the story our companions had. Saying that the ending did not overshadow the absolutely fantastic journey.

When it comes to dialogue the game has so much dialogue, it even makes Planescape: Torment look like a children's book. It's not just thrown out there on a whimsical, the depth is quite insane and changing depending on the character conversing and what said character has done in the past. Honorable mention to the cinematics also, because oh boy, there are a lot of them!



Final verdict

As I mentioned in the beginning, the small faults were not enough to bring the score down from 10/10 and I stand firmly behind that. The journey has been absolutely amazing, with some awesome fights, hilarious moments, romantic ones, sad ones, irritating ones, and overall a journey I will remember for the rest of my life. It is also a journey I would like to try out again, but with a different approach which again shows just how compelling this game is that even after 188 hours of playing, I feel the lust for more.

For anyone not played this game or genre for that sake, I highly recommend giving it a chance and if you do, don't be surprised if you get one of the greatest moments in your gaming history.

10/10
 
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Wordle

No, not the internet sensation last year, this is a normal downloadable word search game. My Steam review:

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A nice little time filler to pop in and out of, and it gets less easy in the 5x5 grids. 10 categories, each containing 10 word search puzzles, which show you how many words are hidden, and how long they are.

You must find the words the game is expecting—eg if there's a 4-letter word in the Fruit category and you see PLUM, that's no good if PEAR is also there and that's what the game wants. But that's not an issue, I only hit it twice I think in 100 puzzles.

You can also sometimes sabotage yourself by picking one of alternate paths thru the grid for a word. Ie pick one E rather than another, which now makes another word unsolvable because it needs 'that' E :)

Simple interface, no stats, but game works well—I didn't meet any bug. I picked up 4 of these Wordle games on Black Friday deal, and already it's proven to be a steal. Recommended if word search does it for you.
 

Zloth

Community Contributor
I finished up Yakuza 6 - definitely good stuff. Not really as good as 0, 1, and 2, but easily worth playing.

There were some big differences. First, for anyone who has been playing 4 and 5, you actually play Kiryu the whole time. Also, forget about the phone booths, you can save anywhere as long as you aren't fighting or in the middle of one of the adventures. It's weird that you have to go to the Settings menu to save, but it works.

For whatever reason, Kamurochō is the smallest it has ever been. The whole NE part of the map is under construction and the Champion district is locked off, too. There's very little to do on rooftops and no underground at all. It sure looks great, though, especially at night!
full


The mini-games took a hit. My favorite bowling game is gone, replaced by some gym that wasn't any fun at all. I got the feeling it was there more as in-game marketing, so I avoided it. The SEGA arcades now have every (nearly every?) game that has showed up in a previous Yakuza game. Other than the new spear fishing game (essentially an on-rail shooter) and cat hunting, though, I avoided the mini-games in this title.

Many of the old favorite characters are in the game, but not for long. Date gets a lot to do, but Majima barely shows up. Haruka spends nearly the entire game in a coma. (Don't worry, she still gets kidnapped.) Most of your time is spent with new characters. They're good characters, though, so I was fine with it.

The zany side quests are back. Not quite as good as before, but good enough. I liked the main story quite a bit. I wish they could have done more "show don't tell," but in this case having the characters tell the stories to you makes me less likely to trust what they're telling me - which is good in this case.

The fighting is fun again! I played on "normal" difficulty, so I only had to re-do a few battles and I only had to try twice in one battle. Playing on harder difficulty is more satisfying to me, but I wanted to get through this one quicker. Oh, and the fights are now better integrated into the game - it doesn't cut away to a "battle mode" then show you a results screen after you finish. Instead, the music changes and your controls switch to battle mode wherever you are.

The game took just under 40 hours for me and I'm slow at these things. Surprisingly, a little over 50% of players have the achievement that comes with finishing the main story for this game!
 

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