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  1. 08 - Alina of the Arena (Rookie clear, Warrior) Elevator pitch: Imagine Slay the Spire mixed with Into the Breach. Alina of the Arena owes no small debt to Slay the Spire, arguably the greatest digital deckbuilder ever made. You play as Alina, a gladiator attempting to conquer/escape three distinct arenas by caving in the face of anyone who would dare stand in your way. Like in Slay the Spire, you'll have attack and block cards, but how these work is shaped by your main- and off-hand equipment - larger, two-handed weapons will give you a larger attack arc in exchange for adding Fatigue cards to your deck, crossbows and longbows will let you attack from a distance at the cost of having to reload by discarding a card after each attack, or having a Shield in your off-hand will boost the potency of your blocking cards. It's worth noting that movement appears to be at a premium in this game; you have the option to reposition one space each turn (at the cost of one of your energy) but if you don't move as your opening action for the turn, you lose the opportunity to do so until next turn. Other cards with move actions are few and far between and usually quite expensive to use, so your mobility is usually more of a series of evasive manouvers as opposed to you flying around the arena each turn. I've had one build that allowed me some movement, but the penalty for this was generally that if I couldn't land a hit as part of that movement, it would cost 50-75% of my energy for the turn so really required some thought and planning before you start playing cards. The one downside (for me) to this game is that each run takes a mammoth amount of time. My first successful clear took nearly two hours, and my average run is pushing one and a half hours. You can save midway (and even quit midway through a battle and get a re-do, which is something I've only accidentally taken advantage of at this point) but it is extremely frustrating when something goes wrong right at the end of a run as it feels like so much progress down the toilet. My last run was with the Pyromancer class, which is great fun and quite different to the melee classes - I'd focused on a largely burn-build, which just sets most of the arena on fire within a couple of turns, coupled with a power that lets Alina ignore the negative effects of burning tiles and gives block if you end your turn stood on one. There was a little bit of traditional attack going on through a crossbow, but 90% of the damage came from stacking burn on an enemy and then getting out of danger for a couple of turns while their HP cratered. Literally the last encounter of the game before the boss was five enemies who are fully resistant to fire, who then self-destructed and took away about 55 of my 70 health, leaving no window to heal up before the boss. It definitely exposed a hole in my deckbuilding, but still. The very last fight. Anyway this is brilliant and if you can get over the hump of each run taking a lot of time, I would very much recommend it. I'm pretty sure I have a few more clears in me but wanted to type this up now in case the run time caused me to fizzle out on it.
  2. Yeah I can echo this; it just doesn't display anything if I try to run it full screen! I did get the 2CC earlier today so it's definitely not far off.
  3. Yeah it's DFK - and to be clear this is the Novice mode! Have been using the green ship, which is weird as I would exclusively use blue or red in the original DoDonPachi. Towards the end of stage 5 there's a bit where there's just a wall of lasers; if you hyper and then laser back at them it'll build up about 5-6,000 combo. I scored 7 billion on that section alone in my last run.
  4. Dunno if anyone is still plugging away at Dodonpachi? I've been giving it a few more runs recently. The 5th stage is a huge difficulty spike, along with being twice the length of any other stage; that said it builds you up gradually and makes the 1CC feel like a challenge. I still haven't got it yet (best result is 40% health remaining on the boss, who is brilliantly called "shooty") but this was on a run where I had a couple of really soft deaths earlier on so there's huge room for improvement. There's one bit towards the end of stage 5 where I'm getting over 50% of the entire run's points too which suggests there's plenty of work left to be done. Current high is ~12,000,000,000. Also I only discovered today that you could go into a slower and more powerful mode in Power Type??????????? Sometimes I am an idiot
  5. X1 - Starfighter R&D 07 - Faith Starfighter R&D is a game that was put together for an edition of Ludum Dare that I downloaded in the endless quest for More Shmups. It's a mixture of base-building, research and shooting game - points and money are earned from going deep in a shmup run which can then be spent on expanding your base, which then allows you to research better weapons and ship parts, with the end goal of finishing a shmup run. The gameplay loop is really fun but it's not without problems - you'll wind up with thousands of units of money which are fundamentally worthless, as you can build everything you need for a few hundred and then spend literally four each time on some bonus stats; but the points required for researching new stuff are an enormous grind. The best weapon in the game can't be unlocked until you beat the final boss, but all the other weapons aren't really good enough for the later stages in the game; each run starts way too slowly considering I still hadn't found the final boss after sixty waves, and there's frequent bonus stages which are like vertically-scrolling Asteroids, where you destroy rocks which splinter into smaller rocks, the smallest of which are almost impossible to see. A couple of stray asteroids hit your ship and half your firepower is gone and your run is effectively done. I've given up on the game becuase it feels like I'm missing something obvious about how to play, but given that your entire run is over when one single enemy reaches the bottom of the screen or you take too many hits, it was just getting too frustrating getting wrecked by a stray asteroid or narrowly being overtaken by a really fast ship in round 65. -- Faith is a psuedo 8-bit horror game that sees you take the role of a priest who returns to the site of a failed exorcism from a year past, to finish the job. It looks how you remember the old 8-bit stuff looking, the music is absolutely amazing and really atmospheric, and the game has voice acting - in as much as everything is read out via text-to-speech which is delightfully offputting in the best way. There's nothing quite like a mysterious monster hurtling towards you while Slightly Fucked Up Microsoft Sam yells I HAVE THE BODY OF A PIG The actual boss fight in the game is underwhelming but that's not really the point; everything else about it is brilliant and creepy and unsettling and I can't wait to see what the other two games are like.
  6. 06 - Fault: Milestone Two - Side: Above Daft name: check More good Visual Novel things. Great cast of characters, wonderful soundtrack, but I'm getting deja-shenmue as it feels like this is chapter 2 of an 11-chapter epic that is nowhere near completing and the next game has been "coming soon" for nearly a year. This game does a thing and has a story but the amount that things have progressed feels very, very small and I fear we'll never see the end. That's not to say I've not enjoyed the games themselves; it's just that I find stories that die halfway through extremely unsatisfying The third chapter seems to have had an engine overhaul and looks excellent, but it's not here yet and I fear this will never be finished, which is a shame as the setting and characters are great. It also introduces a whole new set of characters with their own, potentially significant storyline, which feels like it won't be satisfactorily rolled up in one more game of this length (about 4hr).
  7. There is a third game coming out "soon" - seven years after the last one - but there also seem to be a bunch of other related games. Also haven't looked into it too much as the descriptions for the upcoming game seem to contain a lot of spoilers, which makes looking into it pretty difficult! In short: I dunno
  8. 05 - Fault: Milestone One This game has at least one option that references how the game behaves before or after you make a choice in the game. This game appears to have one single choice and I don't think it changed much about the story (though I was at least satisfied with how it played out). Visual novels are weird. ANYWAY During the prologue, you're introduced to two people who are discussing the stars. And then it drops this in there: Fault: Milestone One is a really interesting first step in a kind of fantasy/sci-fi/steampunkish hybrid, that frames itself originally as a princess and their retainer fleeing a violent invasion and uprising, and suddenly touches on culture shock, consciousness, and what it means to be alive, out of nowhere. Really enjoyable if a bit short, though the characters were all really likeable which is a huge win. Have the sequel ready to go, very interested to see what happens next.
  9. With the caveat that I am not good enough for proper high-level play - I do basically exactly what Clump says above. Just play a load of the games that I'm having fun playing and then you'll slowly see your transferrable skills grow. Also play a Touhou game or two even if you're not strictly "into" Touhou because those games have fucking loads of bullets
  10. 04 - Catlateral Damage: Remeowstered Cute little game about being a cat and trashing everything. This is a first-person cat-em-up in which you are given a list of tasks to accomplish, all of which involve being a giant dickhead. They are usually something along the lines of "cause $X worth of damage" or "knock over X of this specific item" or "find X of this item". To begin with the stages are small and compact, and you wear out easily; energy runs out each time you take any action, but you can restore mid-run by having a nap. And then after you have been a bit of a pain in the arse, you'll find that you've gathered enough stuff to be able to unlock upgrades to your stamina, jump height, and so on; once you've unlocked the double jump and a couple of stamina upgrades you go from a mischevious but easily-tired critter, to a relentless and unstoppable absolute fucking shithead. And then they put you in a museum, and ask you to destroy the T-rex skeleton. It's daft fun and one of the unlockable cats is "Fart Cat" who has a unique use for the context-sensitive button instead of meowing
  11. 03. Yamafuda - 2nd Station The latest entry in the overcrowded hiking-based roguelite card game genre, Yamafuda: 2nd Station is a game about hiking up a series of mountains with your friend and getting to the top before you get too lazy and decide to go home. It is super twee and lovely, has a very wonky translation from its native Japanese and while it's overall maybe a little bit easy, it's a lot of fun, and has the best roguelike attribute in that you can occasionaly do horribly broken things. You draw a hand of three cards, and your "enemy" - the mountain - has a degree of steepness each turn. There's two types of cards - Cards That Hike, and Cards That Do Not Hike. Cards That Hike end your turn when played, and have a Hike and a Care value on them; the Hike takes you X steps forward, and the Care is your defence against the steepness of the mountain. If you have less Care than the steepness, you lose energy; once you're low on energy your little profile picture starts to look sad, and when you're out of energy you turn around in a huff and start walking back down the mountain regardless of how close to the top you were. Cards That Do Not Hike do things like draw you additional cards, boost stats, heal, and so on, and you can play as many of them as you like before you play a Card That Hikes. Mountains are divided up in to nine "Stations" and you usually get the chance to heal and buy goodies that have permanent effects after every 2-3 stations. You can buy as many as you can afford (every Hike point you get gives you one money, which is stored in an inexplicable bucket on wheels that follows you around) but if you decline to buy everything available, you'll get an energy refill. Alternatively, you can buy everything but have to manage your health better during the stations. It's not the most complicated of card games, but despite that I found that there was plenty of room to improve as I played. There's about 15 mountains to hike and you unlock new and fancy stuff as you go along, but a lot of the skill of the game comes from being familiar with the goodies you can buy and how everything fits together. Decks are often 10 cards or less even at the highest point of a mountain and being able to be consistent is really important. Once you've hiked up Mt. Fuji (the final mountain in the game) you not only unlock some bonus mountains (so I guess it's not the last mountain in the game after all) but you also get to hike as another character, with a completely different set of mechanics surrounding mechanical helpers, a battery meter to manage, and so on. There's also a "Try" system which, like Ascension grades in Slay the Spire, lets you challenge previous mountains with added restrictions/challenges/etc. I really loved this game - I kind of expected it to be a bit of a novelty but I hiked all the mountains with both characters and found it really engaging throughout.
  12. 02 - Needy Streamer Overload Difficult to know where to start with this one. Last year I played and enjoyed Long Live The Queen - a stat-building game where you have to try and stop the queen consort of a nation dying before her coronation. Needy Streamer Overdose shares some DNA with this in a modern day setting (filled with great pop-culture references and deep cuts, along with an amazing soundtrack that really embodies how deranged the rest of the game can be) but it is also horrifyingly bleak in places. You play the part of some kind of partner or confidant to Ame, a girl who debuts as a streamer and then suddenly finds out that they have rent arrears to pay, leading to a push towards being able to monetize content as soon as possible. Your role in it all is to try and help her come up with new topics to base a stream on, along with managing her stress, affection and "mental darkness" levels. You can't get new fans without streaming, but it makes her stress go through the roof so that has to be managed with other activities and already this sounds like the most horrible existence. You can only interact with Ame via text chat, and most of the time there isn't even a response to give; she just talks and sometimes you can send her one of eight predefined stickers, all of which are shit and basically never convey the thing you'd want to say. Ame is almost impossible to keep up with and the consequences for any of her stats reacing either end of the scale are usually pretty extreme. There's about 25 endings in all. I got a few of them, none of them were good endings even when I was able to get to the end of the allotted time period, and some of them were so bad-ending that it genuinely made me wonder how I'd managed to screw everything up so badly. I don't see myself going back for the rest of the endings; partly because once you take the emotional side of things out of the game and are just trying to reach varying success states it kind of sidesteps what makes this game so good; but also because I don't think I can bear to repeatedly watch someone I am trying to help going through the downward spiral, even if they are not real. Some really interesting theories on the lore of the game if you read around too. To be clear I do rate this game - I wouldn't call the experience "fun" in that I got enjoyment out of watching someone fall apart in the pursuit of fame, but it's one of those games that starts out a bit inane and then really worms its way into your brain.
  13. Another year eh? 01 - Tiny Rogues Tiny Rogues is a brilliant little twin-stick-ish Roguelike that sees you picking a class from 11 options and then trying to defeat Death at the end of ten floors of semi-randomly generated rooms. It starts off relatively sedate - you pick your class, which has a special ability (Clerics recover some health after defeating a boss, for instance) and some basic stats, but after that you're free to level up in whatever fashion you see fit. So for a Cleric, you start with a little STR and a bit more INT, but at the start of the game if you decide you want to use throwing knives or longbows with your Cleric then you can focus on picking up DEX items and just abaondon the Cleric weapon set entirely. Each five times you level up you gain a static ability - some of them are straightforward, like gaining extra hit points or additional damage scaling, and some of them have potential to get very silly if picked early on (such as making weapon enhancements or potions last forever, instead of for the standard next ten rooms). By the end of the game you're either struggling and scrabbling for the right items, or you are melting everything in sight in seconds. I've been finding the INT-based classes generally have the highest ceiling but that might just be luck that the two times I've put everything together have both been with the Sorcerer, just raining down lightning indiscriminately on everything in sight with the benefit of multiple stacking damage bonuses. Cleared the game with all 11 characters and defeated the secret boss; going to give this a bit of a break now and come back to it when it is out of Early Access, as there is a ton more content planned thanks to the game being a huge success and the developer being able to now work on it full-time. Can't wait for further updates as it superb.
  14. Just backing this recommendation up - both of the Team Ladybug metroidvania games (Deedlit and also Touhou Luna Nights) are excellent and a little more on the intuitive side.
  15. It's kind of wonky but plays fine. Just got the bad end out of nowhere - dealing with how oldschool this can be in mentality is sometimes draining, but the exploration is great.
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