Gods will be Watching
Points for the ominous title. Normally when a game says, “expect to fail multiple times” you expect something along the lines of Dark Souls. A game that doesn’t so much punish you for being bad as it does challenge you to better. Souls drives your forward, goads you, humiliates you and only when you finally overcome the challenge do you realise that all that pent-up frustration and controller snapping fury was designed so victory tasted so much sweeter. Gods will be Watching is not Dark Souls. It doesn’t challenge you to be better, rather it barely explains the scenario before you’re dumped into it with little forgiveness and even less chance of success. If I had a clue what I was doing I might actually enjoy bashing my head against the wall repeatedly but with possibly a time constraint? Hostage resistance levels? Hack security? Who knows what else causing you to fail at every turn with no warning and no manner in which to predict it, Gods will be Watching has me wanting to uninstall before successfully completing the first level. This here is the difference between a frustrating challenge and a poorly designed game whose difficulty comes from the lack of information available to the player rather than any lack of skill. I’m sure that, past this first ridiculous hurdle there’s a brilliant game, it’s just a shame it’s on the other side of a brick wall that is this opening level.
I confess I’m not really a fan of fishing games, I partake in fly fishing when I’m on holiday can rent a rod, bait etc from somewhere, but fishing games aren’t really my thing. Nonetheless, I approached Ice Lakes with an open mind ready to be surprised, and I was. I was surprised at just how bad it was. Let me be clear, as someone who enjoys watching paint dry (on miniatures) I find that more exciting than playing Ice Lakes. Maybe you have to be a fishing game enthusiast to find waving a rod around in a hole and doing pretty much nothing else exciting or maybe it really is as terrible as it seemed at first glance. How much you have to play a game varies widely, some games you need to sink well over a hundred hours into to get the full experience, others you’re looking at ten. I had the full experience of Ice Lakes in six minutes. If someone can explain to me how sending a little character model onto some ice, drilling a hole and then sitting there dangling a line into it is enjoyable then please do so I’m honestly curious. Oh, the most baffling thing of all, this game is $15 USD on Steam. $15 USD. I couldn’t even begin to list the titles I could buy for that money that are actually worth both my time and money.
I honestly never believed I would find a game so bad, so utterly pointless that I would have to give it this score but Ice Lakes absolutely deserves it.
Because it’s 2017 and we’re still doing titles in all caps apparently. Alright, let me start out by saying that this is an early access title and thus certain things like customization for the character model are in a rather laughable state right now. I’ll try to go easy on it. See I wrote that part before I started playing in earnest and now, after being unable to talk to a myriad on NPCs, discovering a face somehow worse than that featured in Mass Effect Andromeda and having a tent stuck in my head for a solid ten minutes I take it back. This game isn’t early access, it’s not in beta, and it absolutely shouldn’t be on steam. This is a cobbled together mess, it’s a joke. I honestly thought to myself “I should give this game a 10 for just how much it’s made me laugh.” Bear in mind I’m not laughing with FRONTIER, I’m laughing at it. Honestly FRONTIER offers nothing a million other fantasy RPG’s haven’t already given us only they do so in an actual stable setting. The entire thing feels like it came from a “Fantasy RPGs for Dummies” book and honestly makes me want to go play Morrowind, at least those human models look remotely human.
Ever wondered what XCOM would look like in the Wild West? Well here’s your answer and I have to say, it looks pretty damn good. A turn based strategy that has you controlling a small party (2-3 members) so there’s a lot more emphasis on cover and accuracy. At first only having a few shots at first can be frustrating but you quickly learn how to work with it and make them count, sometimes it’s better not to waste the bullets than popping off a shot with a 10% chance to hit. Wrapped up in a neat setting of the harsh wild west, the game is about as kind and forgiving as its characters, you make a mistake, you’re paying the price. But to me that’s perfectly fair, the game gives you all the information your little band would be able to see, much like in D&D you’re only meant to know what your character knows. The story is fairly straightforward and simple, in fairness with Westerns there’s really only so many stories you can tell, you and your family set out on the Oregon trail but are beset by bandits. You kill them all and decide to make a life in the farmstead they were previously occupying. Skip forward ten years and the gold rush is booming. So begins a tale of gold, Mexicans, gangsters, railroads, and what passed for the government back then keeping the little guy down. Honestly by virtue of being wild west XCOM, it’s getting a good score, let’s face it there’s no universe where those two things go poorly together.
Renowned Explorers International Society
Let me start by saying this game is adorable, it’s cute, fun and simple. There’s a nice little tutorial that you can skip if you wish to figure everything out on your own and encounters have a certain rock paper scissors vibe to them. Party creation is key here yet somewhat underplayed by the game during its tutorial, the characters you choose will very much decide how outcomes play out, whether or not you can charm certain people or if you’ll have to fight them. With three slots, it’s easy to go for an all-rounder team and the game’s fairly forgiving in that aspect so don’t stress out if you feel like you’re lacking specialisation. You play as an explorer, as the title suggests, looking to well… explore. You start off romping about an island, being nice, deceitful or aggressive to the local townspeople/sheep and collecting gold, status and research all to be converted into renown with the inevitable goal of being more renowned than your nemesis, that handsome blond French guy from every B-Grade movie ever. Yes, it’s simple but it has a certain charm to it and I feel like there’s more to Renowned Explores International Society than meets the eye. It comes across as a kid’s version of Darkest Dungeon but with the dialogue options of Fallout 4. I wouldn’t go so far as to label it an RPG per se as in all honesty there’s not much of a distinct role to play. What in lacks in perceivable depth it makes up for in light hearted, good old fashioned fun.
Ever wondered why every game that has vehicles in it puts the camera behind the vehicle? Well play Spintires and you’ll find out. I played four minutes of this game and all of that was spent shaking my head. Honestly, how did no-one realize what an incredibly, outrageously bad idea this was? Video game conventions (as in the guidelines you follow not those events you go to) exist for a reason. Honestly with the worst tutorial I have ever had this misfortune to experience and the mind-boggling decision to make it as hard as possible to play Spintires earns itself the 2nd lowest score for this bundle.
1/10 just go play Euro Truck Simulator.
This right here is the reason I bought this bundle, aside from the need to write this review of course. It’s honestly the cutest little game I have ever had the pleasure to play and I love it to death. It’s brilliantly accessible with simple mechanics and a basic method of play. The story is minimal and you can seek it out if you’d like to, or ignore it completely if that’s what you want to do. It’s honestly just nice. It’s light and happy and bouncy and the slimes are so cute! I really do have a soft spot in my heart for this game ever since I saw some game-play a few months ago. It’s a pure and innocent little title that anyone can get into and enjoy, perfect for relaxing while listening to a podcast if you’re like me and like to have something to do all the time. It’s the kind of game you could introduce to a friend/partner/relative that doesn’t really play video games and know they wouldn’t be nagging you for assistance every two seconds. You know those games that just make you feel better about everything? The kind that is warm and relaxing and everything Dark Souls isn’t. Yeah, Slime Rancher is one of those. It’s the video game equivalent of a warm hug. A warm hug that distracts you from the fact that you’re capturing wild animals, breeding them and harvesting their poop to sell/cross breed. But you know, it’s cute so you don’t think about the message there.
9/10 solely because I refuse to give an EA title 10 until the full release.
Three, maybe four good games for $13 USD that goes towards charity? That’s pretty good if you ask me. Given that Slime Rancher on its own is $19.99 USD you’re still getting a discount if you buy the bundle just for that. I know I ripped into a few of the games here and I want to say that I approached every single one of them with an open mind and they were simply giant turds. There’s no nice way to say it really, they’re genuinely, incredibly awful and my heart goes out to anyone who purchased them at full price. My recommendation is to buy this, again if you do just buy it for Slime Rancher that’s absolutely worth it. Give the other keys to your friends and give your enemies Spintires and Ice Lakes.