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Gamebox 2.0: Games of May 2022

Last month we experienced a lot of games at PAX East but the flow of new games never stops. We have even more games that got sent our way and for this month we tried: the Soulslike isometric action of Achilles: Legends Untold, a horror sim in Ravenous Devils, the pushing puzzles of Sokobos, roguelike golfing with Golfie, and the bullet-dodging shooter Cotton Fantasy for this month’s game reviews.  Check out all our impressions below.

Sokobos (Zach): The latest game to draw on the classic gameplay of the Sokoban genre, Sokobos from Daisy Games puts a Greek tragedy spin on things.  You play as Aeschylus, who has taken an oath to single-handedly build a new temple for Zeus in order for his father’s town to prosper.  To do this, Aeschylus must push various objects in order to build things like statues, gardens, and buildings.  In classic Sokoban style, you can only push objects and if they get stuck against a wall, you cannot pull them back out and you’ll either have to use the “undo” button to go back a few steps or restart the entire level if you really screwed up.  The game requires a lot of planning and spatial awareness as you need to figure out where to maneuver all the pieces you need and provide yourself enough space to maneuver.  The game starts out fairly simple but gets increasingly complex, adding things like obstacles that you cannot push past, objects that won’t help you complete your objective and just have to be pushed out of the way, and colors that you have to dye certain objects before you can put them in place.

The game has a simple art style but it does a good job of keeping the Greek feel with lots of the objects you need to build being columns or vases and there’s a little more story than your typical Sokoban game that you learn more about as you progress through each level.  The game is very forgiving about skipping levels entirely, so you don’t need to beat your head against a difficult puzzle if you don’t want to, with the only loss being you may not end up on the game’s leaderboard.  There are also lots of accessibility and customization options to make the game more comfortable if you have something like colorblindness.  The game has 60 levels and if you’re looking for a simple but challenging puzzle game for a cheap price ($4.99 on Steam), then definitely check out Sokobos.

Ravenous Devils (Chris): A tailor and a cook will go from rags to riches with a dark secret to their success. Ravenous Devil is a management horror sim, developed by Bad Vices Games and published by Troglobytes Games, that puts players into the role of a married couple that has a passion for fine living made with wretched desires. Percival and Hildred have acquired a new home to open shop for their custom clothing store and bakery. The location is a little broken and worn, but it can be fixed to make it a popular spot. With some money management, good customer service, and a healthy supply of human victims, the pair will get their fortune from performing sinister deeds. Percival runs a tailoring business that lures in customers with his apparel. But behind closed doors, Percival can slaughter his clients for their meat. Hildred is a cook that loves to bake and serve at her bakery. Using her grandmother’s recipes, she can create delicious dishes that customers will crave, unwillingly eating the victims of the shop. However, lurking from a distance, a strange admirer knows Percival and Hildred’s secret and threats to reveal the truth if they don’t compile with his demands.

Ravenous Devils is a mix of a management and cooking sim, with the main goals is to manage supplies, budget for upgrades and make dishes that hungry customers request. The gameplay uses a simple point-and-click interaction to send Percival and Hildren into a task. Various stations in the 3-level build have to visit and clicked on in order for Percival and Hildren to start working. Percival’s tailor shop is at the top level while Hildren’s bakery is at the bottom level. They both must handle their respective areas and can only perform certain tasks. Percival has to craft clothing and attract customers when he displays them, each time opening a chance for customers to try a fitting session that Percival will use to eliminate his prey. After the deed, he must clean up the crime scene, savage clothing material, and send the body away. The body can be dropped into the kitchen or used as compost to grow a vegetable garden. Down in the kitchen, Hildren can process the body into various products that can be made into menu items. More complex items use more ingredients but sell at higher prices. Hildren has to manage a display case of food and later on, make custom order dishes for customers at tables.

Every level of the game follows a workday that lasts about 10-15 minutes in real-time. It will be a race against time to gather resources, money, and prestige to rise in popularity in the city. Thankfully at the start of each day, there is a preparation period that lets Percival and Hildren get the stations ready and make needed upgrades. There is no time limit for this and it gives a moment to figure out the day’s strategy. Percival can expand the clothing savaging and the display space, and later on the vegetables in the garden. Hildren can make her kitchen more efficient, add more decorations in the eatery and bring on a few helpers. These small upgrades all work in connection where it’s preferred to make balanced upgrades slowly so you can collect maximum profit and resources each day.

This cycle of turning victims into products works well and will become a frantic dance of timing actions. The beginning levels of the game lets you have some wiggle room to make mistakes, but later levels have become chaotic with a few wrong resource management or bad service in the kitchen. It’s a fun challenge to get the right balance of resource collecting and budget, but the game does not really throw too many curve balls once you master the basics. At times, it feels like Percival gets the easier part of the whole progress. For example, when Percival gets a victim alone in the fitting room, it follows a linear progression. Other customers can’t really interfere or get suspicious in a way that will make it harder for Percival to attract new victims. On the other hand, Hildren’s actions have bigger consequences if she doesn’t get the proper resources or doesn’t serve the food correctly.

Ravenous Devils is definitively a great casual title that most people can sink their teeth into and enjoy time playing. While the gameplay is fun, the plot and playtime are on the short side. The story unfolds between each day and keeps the pacing brief to quickly go thru the characters and get to the mysterious overarching villain. After about the first five days, the player can see the whole picture of what the game is going to be doing. However, Bad Vices Games focused on quality over quantity. There are fully voiced characters and some gruesome animations to witness. There are solid mechanics that needed more depth but the actions are well polished that the game might not need to ramp up the challenge to be engaging for longer. For anyone looking for an interesting and gory indie title, Ravenous Devils delivers a fun experience that will have its fans looking for a second serving. Ravenous Devils was released on April 29th, for PC, PS4 & PS5, Xbox One & Xbox X, and Nintendo Switch.

Golfie (Zach): There are tons of roguelike games out there but Golfie, which is out now in Early Access on Steam from Triheart Studios, puts a unique spin on the genre by having you play minigolf. You play as Golfie, a sentient golf ball that has to progress through 18 procedurally generated holes to complete a run.  The main gameplay will be familiar if you’ve played golf games before, you hold down the mouse on Golfie and then pull back to generate the amount of power you want to hit him with along with moving the aiming arrow around to where you want him to go, with the ultimate goal being to get the Golfie into the hole and proceed to the next hole.  The normal shot isn’t very strong but that is where the cards come in.  You get a number of ability cards for each putt and you can apply them before shooting to do things like a lob shot, power shot, curve shot, etc. There are also more unique abilities like jet packs, parachutes, shrinking, and inflating that give the game more of Kirby’s Dream Course vibe and let you have lots of control over where Golfie ends up.  The better your stroke score on each hole, the better your bonus, which usually amounts to coins that you can use to buy more cards.

The cards add a great strategic level to a regular golf game and you can also stack them to really launch Golfie with multiple power shots or inflate him to giant size.  There are also crystals throughout each hole that you can try and hit to gain perks and rare cards.  After completing a hole, you get a choice of which hole you want to proceed to next in a roguelike map system and there are different themes like a beach that can possibly sway your decision.  There are daily challenges along with just a normal run or endless run modes and there will be more modes and multiplayer coming soon, the latter of which seems like a great addition, especially if you can use cards to screw with your friends.  Golfie is a unique addition to the roguelike genre that is also just a solid and fun golf game that is worth checking out for fans of both genres and the combination really works in a fun and interesting ways.

Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising (Chris): A band of adventurers sends off on a quest to save a town and achieve some plunder in Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising. Developed by Rabbit and Bear Studios and published by 505 Games, Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising is an action-adventure RPG title that follows a group of heroes that come together to help the town of New Nevaeh, a small area that is next to a valuable cavern known as the Runebarrow. The story primarily follows CJ, a young scavenger who arrives at New Nevaeh to find her fortune. As CJ ventures into New Nevaeh, she finds its residents in need and discovers the multiple tasks needed to earn her way further into the Runebarrow. Along the way, she bands with Garoo, a giant kangaroo warrior, and Isha, a teenage mage. These adventurers will help the townspeople and try to strike it rich.

Rising plays like a Metroidvania title with its platforming and exploration elements. The trio of heroes will move travel neighboring areas of New Nevah, coming across townspeople that will request items that need to be found. Initially, CJ must have the license to further into the Runebarrows and must collect stamps in order to qualify. She takes a few small tasks like fetching wood or finding a lost cat but later runs into Garoo. Once Garoo joins, the combat gameplay really shows itself. The heroes are each assigned as attacks and will switch out one by one while fighting, creating what is known as a link attack. Each hero’s attack has a certain pattern and strength and has a cool down time so they are not spammable. CJ has fast and light attacks, Garoo is heavy and slow actions, and Isha can perform ranged elemental magic. Enemies will be wandering around and can be quickly ambushed by a big linked chain if the timing is right. The combat gameplay has a certain rhythm to can easily be picked up on. It doesn’t get very complex and the enemies give players plenty of reaction time to dodge or attack.

While the platforming and action sections keep the player engaged, there will be many times when you will hit a mandatory wall/object that will prevent you from advancing. This will require the adventurers to head back into New Nevah, and find a resident that can help. In this repeated cycle, New Nevah will slowly transform into a busy plaza with new shops and people. This is also required to gain new weapons, armor, and materials to upgrade the characters. However, this process starts to feel like a grind after the first few hours. Luckily there is a fast travel system that makes it easier to go back to town, but still requires a bit of running around.

The story of Rising serves as a preview to the upcoming Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes. Certain characters that will appear in the series are first seen here and give a slice into what happens in the greater scope of the games. The game has great graphics of the blended 2D sprite work in 3D environments. It has the look of a retro platformer that is covered in a modern aesthetic. But the game has parts that just feel like it’s padding the time and forcing the experience to be a routine. Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising’s presentation is nicely polished and the gameplay is aimed toward a casual audience. The title works best for gamers that want to really immerse themselves with the lore of the Eiyuden games and don’t mind the simple game mechanics. Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising was released on May 10th and is available on PC, Playstation, Xbox, and Switch.

Achilles: Legends Untold (Zach): While it seems like a Diablo-style isometric action RPG at first glance, Achilles: Legends Untold from Darkpoint Games has more in common with games like Bloodborne or Dark Souls.  You play as Achilles, who is killed during the attack on Troy during the Trojan War.  Ending up in Tartarus, he takes a deal to become Hades’ champion in exchange for returning to Earth and doing certain tasks for him.  The game plays from an isometric perspective but you have Soulslike combat, like locking onto enemies and having a light and strong attack and block on the triggers.  You have to be precise with your attacks and be aware of the animations and when you might leave yourself vulnerable.  There’s also a stamina meter that prevents you from just hacking and slashing and you have to manage attacking and recovery.  Achilles also has a roll dodge move to avoid attacks but that also, obviously, uses stamina.  The game definitely requires more attention than a Diablo-style game, where you can just wade in and attack, but it’s a bit easier and more forgiving than a From Software entry and you can be a little bit looser in combat at times without worrying as much about the precision needed for something like Elden Ring or Demon’s Souls.

As you progress, you gain magical abilities and attacks and build up an inventory of potions and items that can help in battle.  You also level up and can unlock skills on a pretty massive skill tree and find better weapons and gear to build up Achilles as well.  The game has a great, Clash of the Titans style to it as you battle mythological creatures like griffins, skeleton warriors, and giant scorpions along with normal human enemies and you’ll proceed through a large variety of environments, including a dark and foreboding swamp or the arid desert outside of Troy.  The voice acting and story leave a bit to be desired, God of War this is not, but the gameplay and variety of enemies and environments balance things out.  The game is out in Early Access now on Steam.

Cotton Fantasy (Chris): When the Fairyland kingdom is threatened with the loss of their Willows, it’s up to the witch Nata de Cotton and her fairy companion Silk to fly out and save the day. Developed by  Success & Studio Saizensen, and published by ININ Games, Cotton Fantasy is the sixth entry in the long-running shoot’em up series. Mixing a bit of bullet dodging and ultra-cute visuals, Cotton Fantasy is a challenging 2D shooter that drowns the screen in bright colors and goofy character designs. The player takes up the role of Cotton, a broom-riding witch that is on an adventure to gain candy and help the Fairyland. She has three main magical projectiles that can be switched or upgraded, depending on what gems she collects. Her shot styles can be swapped out based on what color gem she collects or they can become upgraded by collecting the same type of crystals. Each crystal can also be changed by shooting it and changing its color. Cotton can also charge up her shots for a more powerful version and cast a limited special attack.

While the main story mode follows Cotton, there are five other characters to select from that will change the style of the gameplay. For example, Umahara Kawase doesn’t rely on special magic but has a fishing rob that lets her toss enemies around. Fine is a cyborg that runs on a time limit that constantly needs crystals to power up her. Tacoot can extend a staff that reaches enemies at a safe distance. Each of these characters plays differently but unfortunately, the story mode only follows the events thru Cotton, playing the animated cutscenes with just Cotton in the lead role. After the initial first stage, the player can choose the next level in any order, with a special stage that is unique to every character.

Cotton Fantasy is a fun and casual side scroller that doesn’t punish players for making mistakes and gives plenty of space for gamers looking for a chance to push themselves harder if they want. The game gives players unlimited continues so it’s easy to pick right back up after a death, but that will reset scores. The game kind of pushes players to learn the ins and outs of each level, then dare them to return to see how well they can take on a second round. However, with the additional characters, it’s easy to go multiple rounds to find new tricks and ways to conquer the levels. If you haven’t experienced the Cotton series before, Cotton Fantasy crams all the best-highlighted game features into one package. Gamers that go crazy for cutesy anime-inspired titles can easily be charmed Cotton Fantasy and find a rewarding experience filling the screen with dazzling colors. Cotton Fantasy was released worldwide on May 20th for PC, PS4 and Switch.

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