Quick Look – BARRICADEZ

BARRICADEZ plays sort of like someone took a look at Craft the World and decided to make it a whole lot darker, slim down the craftable items, and get rid of some of the most annoying mechanics. As someone who has put over 70 hours into Craft the World, in spite of it’s many many flaws, I knew I had to pick this one up as soon as I discovered it.

Your avatar is a little robot, who has somehow ended up with what could quite possibly be the last human baby in the world. There are demon things who want to destroy it, but you need to do whatever it takes to keep the screaming little bundle of joy safe. Thankfully, you don’t also need to worry about meeting its normal, human-type needs, just keeping the baddies off of it.

For me, the tutorial was above average and didn’t overstay its welcome. It gives you a reasonable approximation of what is going to required from you during the main game. Collect resources and build up your base during the day, and hope it all lasts through the night when the zombies show up.

The story mode pops you into a randomly generated world with rudimentary defenses set up that will likely get you through your first few nights. Every day you receive a “report” on what to expect that evening, and for the first few days, you only have to worry about shoring up one side of your base. However, neglecting the other will have pretty dire consequences on the seventh night – I lost my first two games on night seven because I didn’t add nearly enough to the previously unbothered half of my base.

The game does give you option of replaying from a game over state while keeping your previously purchases upgrades (called engrams here), but I elected to start over twice, and the third time, having just barely been breeched, I loaded that morning’s autosave. This is not a roguelite; you are given multiple manual save slots as well as three rotating auto save slots.

It feels like choosing the proper upgrades early on can be critical – getting harvest bots online early will save you a ton of time in the gathering of basic materials. You also only start with the most basic beginner traps and walls, and all improvements have to also be purchases with your engrams, earned from defeating monsters at night, or occasionally from things you find while exploring the caves. You can pause time while building, but your harvesters and crafting machines will pause as well, and you cannot repair in build mode, so this is really only useful if you like to take your time building a crafty kill box. Which you probably will absolutely need eventually.

There doesn’t seem to be any actual manual combat – your traps and defenses need to take out the monsters when they show up because there’s very little you can do about it at that point. During the night, you won’t be able to repair things or build too close to where the creatures have already gotten. However, it can be a good time to make sure all your workshops, forges, and chemical labs are producing, and you can still reload your supply chests if you’re running low on ammo or trap fuel.

There are multiple difficult levels, and at least two separate challenge modes to be unlocked. Add that to the procedural world generation, and it looks like there’s a lot of replay value here if the mining, crafting, and tower defense loop is up your alley. About 10 hours in, and I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface.

However, the deeper into the game I get, the more I feel like some things aren’t well enough explained. It took me probably too long to figure out that steel bars come from putting iron bars through the forge a second time, and the deeper you get into exploring the caves, the harder it seems to be to do everything you need to do between nights. BARRICADEZ may not be the most polished experience, but it both looks and sounds great, and I’m finding it a lot of fun to figure out as I go.

Quick Look – Cook, Serve, Delicious 3

I’m not overly surprised that the first game that really captured my interest coming out of a bit of a slump was part of the Cook, Serve, Delicious franchise, but I am a little surprised that it was the third installment this time around. I added Cook, Serve, Delicious 3 to my library sometime last summer, and although I tried it out almost immediately, I bounced off of it hard. I hadn’t played any of the games in awhile, and the changes to the formula felt impossible to handle right out of the gate.

Since then, however, I have spent an awful lot of time playing the second game, and perhaps my muscle memory is a little bit fresher this time around. Yet again, Vertigo Gaming has managed to take the formula, twist it around just enough that it feels fresh and interesting, but still has the satisfying core mechanics which have been integral to all three games.

The first game focused heavily on your own restaurant, with improving it the main impetus of the game. In the second, you still have your own place, but the meat of the game is in the many chef-for-hire levels, where you need to work with a given set of recipes. Now, in the third game, you are running a food truck in post-apocalyptic America, with the help of two droids. Whisk is the perky one, who drives the truck, and Cleaver serves as your kitchen assistant.

Each level is themed in some way, which allows you to choose your daily recipes from a set pool. Holding stations have become super important, as most of your customers will be served from these. Cook-to-order foods will need to be prepared while the truck is moving, and stored until you reach your stop. Once these “special orders” are sent out, all remaining customers will order from the menu of items that can be put in a holding station.

If you’ve played the previous games in the series, customer patience feels obnoxiously low, and that’s the hurdle players will need to get over. Customers expect their food to either be ready to serve or already cooking when you reach your stop. Planning ahead is a huge part of being successful. Thankfully, the game gives you a list of how many orders are expected and – mostly – sticks to that list, so on most levels you can absolutely set yourself up for success while on the road.

Side dishes, however, are gone – every item you serve is ordered individually. Because of this, the new “tipped” mechanic is that all correct orders after you’ve reached a certain streak are considered to be extra delicious and will result in you receiving more money per order. This makes keeping up your perfect streaks (and striving for gold medals across the board) even more important, because making a lot of money is key to leveling up, and acquiring the parts you’ll need to upgrade your truck.

Each recipe is also assigned a value from 0 to 5, with higher values leading to more money per serving, but also being more difficult or complex to produce. Many of the recipes will be familiar to anyone who has played the previous games, but some of the default keybinds have changed, mostly to provide more consistency across recipes. Overall, at least to me, the changes feel like they’ve mostly lead to a smoother experience, at least through the first half of the game, although there are still some recipes I just can’t seem to master. Balancing recipes that can be completed quickly, accurately, and give the most points is a mini-game in itself, but frequently in the later portions of the game, it feels like you are forced to take specific high level recipes to meet the point requirements of certain routes that don’t allow you to bring much variety.

Outside of the base gameplay loop, you will need to make sure you upgrade your truck as much as possible. Later levels will have you dealing with impatient customers, angry customers, and attacks from other food trucks that can take out your holding stations or force you to reroute, changing your incoming orders. Available upgrades will add prep stations, holding stations, increase customer patience, and increase other things like numbers of servings or length of freshness. The game seems to be balanced around getting as many of these upgrades as quickly as possible, so it’s worth making sure you complete all the available routes before traveling into a new area to increase your level and allow you to make more upgrades.

I honestly don’t know if I’m going to want to beat my face against the hardest levels of this one, but I’ve been enjoying my time with it so far. The voice acting of your robot companions is kind of fantastic, if a bit repetitive after awhile. The new recipes fit right in with the recipes I’m used to, and although the changes in mechanics took a bit of getting used to, they’re already starting to feel natural. It’s a solid entry into a quirky but fun series, and I’m glad I gave this one a second chance.

Quick Look – Craftopia

Craftopia is, perhaps, what happens when someone tries to smoosh together too many other popular games. It borrows heavily from Breath of the Wild, then tosses in bits and bobs from other survival-focused crafting games, takes a little taste of monster-catching games, before finally adding just a pinch of insert-your-favorite-farming-game-here. Let’s be real – it even sounds like a bit of a hot mess. Still, I have been a little bit fascinated for awhile about just how it all comes together, so when a “Game Preview” showed up on XBox Game Pass for PC, I had to give it a whirl.

No, really, they’re trying for ALL THE GENRES!

I’ve given it about three hours now, and managed to level up my tech era twice and travel to a new island. My character is level 16, and just about the only things I feel like I have down are mining, chopping wood, and shooting arrows. The rest is all kind of hit or miss.

Character creation is currently super basic and a little buggy, because hair colors really don’t match what’s shown. Once you create a world, you’re presented with a big red button to push. Pushing it blows up earth, and then you get a cut scene where a pretty lady knows what you did. I’m not sure this is one that’ll go over big with the story focused gamers among us.

Then you’re on a deserted island – well, deserted except for like 10 tutorial humans and a bunch of animals. The first time you do something, quests start appearing willy nilly in the upper right hand corner of your screen, for you to either work on or ignore. Really, you can do pretty much whatever you want – hunt treasures, chop trees, craft some basic tools, murder some farm animals. The world is your oyster.

That said, at least if you choose to play a female character, it’ll look like you’re doing it all in your underwear.

I am playing on the easiest difficulty currently available; there is a pure “creative mode” planned to release around the end of the month, but so far, nothing is terribly hard. I did almost get eaten by a bear early on, but since acquiring a bow, I’ve noticed most things won’t chase you if you shoot them from far enough away. You level up by doing absolutely everything, and you’re given points to spend on skillssin whatever way most suits your playstyle.

There are dungeons on each island, although I think using the term “dungeon” is a bit of a reach, at least for the first island. It’s a long corridor with some stuff to break, some stuff to kill, and a boss fight at the end. They probably get harder, but I am not sure if they get any more complex or atmospheric. Honestly, my entire experience with the game over three hours has led me to keep my expectations low.

But it’s also kept me playing. I am the type of gamer who loves ridiculous checklists that contain items like “Chop 10,000 trees”. If you feel like you don’t know what to do, the mission list is there to guide you (although the auto tracker could use some help with prioritizing). Usually, you have to make something to progress. There’s tons of stuff to craft, and the interface is pretty simple, so crafting feels like less of a chore than it does in some games. Building doesn’t feel great yet, but it also just dawned on me that I need a furniture factory for complex items like doors.

I have, however, discovered that you can put cows in a toaster and milk comes out, so there’s that.

Craftopia is definitely not a finished game, and I’m fairly certain it’s trying to do too much and is therefore also not very good, and yet, I still want to keep playing. It’s pretty, it’s not very demanding either mentally or physically. I like to have a low-mental-effort game that can be played in short bursts, and I’m thinking I’ll probably pick this one up next time it goes on sale.

Quick Look – Psychonauts 2

I always feel a little left out when people talk about the games from their formative years (whatever that means for them). Mostly, they’re going to be console games, probably Nintendo, and I had almost no Nintendo experience at all until the past 6 months or so. Since I was already a diehard PC gamer from my teenage years, the games that I remember really grabbing hold of me are usually off the beaten path of most people I know, even when we’re similar in age. I fell in love with Tamriel playing Daggerfall, and have picked up every Elder Scrolls title since on release day. I spent an obnoxious amount of time puzzling my way through The 7th Guest and The 11th Hour. I oversaw the rise and fall of great empires in Zeus: Master of Olympus, and watched people plummet to their fiery demises due to lax safety inspections in RollerCoaster Tycoon. And I got my introduction to the wild world of 3D platforming collectathons playing the original Psychonauts.

Despite platformers being one of my least played genres, since I’m awful at them, Psychonauts stuck with me. I held onto those discs for years, until finally re-purchasing the game twice – once for the XBox 360, and again on Steam. Now, mind you, I didn’t actually finish the game until 2018. Even if it did take me 13 years to complete, it’s still one of my proudest gaming moments.

So, obviously, I was a little bit excited about the sequel finally releasing.

And boy, was it a sequel worth waiting for. DoubleFine took everything that made the original Psychonauts so memorable – the characters, the story, the absolutely bonkers settings, and turned it up a notch. They then looked at all the things that were … less great … and made adjustments so that both returning players and folks new to the world could enjoy it even more than the first one.

Obviously, not all gamers were thrilled with the fact that the game would feature an Invincibility mode, and I am firmly in the camp of any game developer who decides to include a stress-free option for people who want to just enjoy the world and the story.

In fact, there are multiple difficulty toggles (listed under Accessibility in the options menu), for people who want less of a challenge than offered by the base game, but a little bit more than God Mode. You can choose to enable an easier mode for combat (where you do far more damage to enemies) or one that negates falling damage, if the platforming is what’s holding you back.

Despite the fact that I am struggling hard (I spent approximately 3 hours redoing a boss fight until I beat it), I have not yet elected to mess around with these options, but it’s good to know that I won’t have to leave this one unfinished for a decade or more.

I’m closing in on the mid point of the game’s main quest, just under 8 hours in. I have spent a minimal amount of time just exploring because I am really caught up in the story. Which leads me to another great change from the original – there is no point of no return. If you’re the type who likes to play through the story and then run around picking up collectibles and looking for secrets, you can absolutely do that. However, once you are past the midpoint, you will be locked out of certain areas until a future point in the story, and the game warns you very clearly about this.

I’ve had to take a bit of a break due to hand fatigue from the being unused to playing for long periods of time with a controller, but I honestly haven’t been this excited to play a game in a long time.

Quick Look – HUMANKIND

Full disclosure – I would have been perfectly content to just let HUMANKIND slide right on by me until either there was a complete edition at a rock bottom price or it ended up in the Humble Choice or something. Not because I was completely uninterested in it, mind you, but merely because I’m not the type of gamer who needs multiple 4X titles in my life. In fact, I wish they’d stop reinventing the wheel in the Civilization series, but that is a completely different post.

However, since I do have an active Game Pass subscription, and since Psychonauts 2 isn’t out for another 5 days, and since I blew through Boyfriend Dungeon in around 6 hours, I had some time to kill, and figured I’d give it a shot. I played for about three hours over a couple of days, and while I don’t hate it, I also don’t love it.

If you’re coming into it with no previous 4X (or as HUMANKIND calls it, historical strategy) experience, you won’t have any habits to unlearn that won’t serve you well here. However, as someone who’s been playing Civ games since the second iteration, I had many, and I am almost as slow at unlearning as I am at learning. This did not serve me well, especially in my first game which dropped me in with more opponents and a higher difficulty level than I would choose for myself.

Bombarded by systems I didn’t understand, and frustrated by my glacial pace compared to that of my AI opponents, I quit that game, poked around until I found the settings, and got myself into a game that looked a little more my speed.

I’m perfectly fine admitting that the game systems are probably not as obtuse or complex as they seem to me; despite having years of experience, I fully admit that I was never actually good at this type of game. The biggest thing that sets HUMANKIND apart seems to be the ability to evolve into different civilizations, which may completely change how you proceed with your empire based on their special benefits and bonus fame type. So I was more than a little confused to discover that not only can you choose not to change, but that you get a flat bonus for choosing to transcend (stick with the culture from your previous era) rather than evolve. I’m sure I’m missing something, and that bonus is not actually as beneficial as it seems, but it feels counter-intuitive to the concept to let you keep right on doing what you’re doing.

You can settle a new territory (which is called an outpost) with any type of unit, and the area you gain control over feels huge. You can also send your scouts and warriors out to just randomly explore the map and basically forget that you have them if you want to. Most (all?) battles that come up will give you the opportunity for Instant Resolution, or you can do a Manual Battle if you’re more tactically inclined than I am. For someone like me who just wants to handle building, research, and a little diplomacy and trade, this is pretty great, although probably not particularly efficient.

Each era provides a list of objectives that can earn you stars, with objectives matching your cultural type giving a larger benefit than all the rest. Once you get a set number of stars, you may advance to the next era, although you can delay that if you want to. I’m not sure if it’s the only victory condition, but at least it’s the primary one – get more Fame than everyone else on the map to win.

HUMANKIND is not a simple game, even at lower difficulties. There always seems to be a lot of things going on, the tech tree is sort of similar to genre expectations, but of course, not identical. It’s definitely pretty to look at, when it’s not forever spamming you with notifications. Those notifications (which require the player to click “Acknowledge”) often felt like something I should have been worrying about, but rarely like something I had any idea of how to deal with.

Fans of the genre will probably enjoy the tweaks to the formula, more casual players might be as overwhelmed as I was. If you’re on the fence, a month of Game Pass is far less of a commitment than a $50 purchase, and I feel like most people won’t know if they really like it within the 2 hour Steam return window.

Quick Look – Haven Park

Actually playing a game shortly after I purchase it is a new and interesting thing for me! Haven Park released on August 5th, I added it to my library on August 9th, and loaded it up to play the very same day. This has nothing to do with the game itself, however, it is certainly progress for me, and I felt it was worth mentioning.

I’ve really been kind of obsessed with cozy games as of late, and Haven Park absolutely fits the bill. You play as Flint, a wee duckling, who wants to help out his grandmother get their campground back into shape. It’s a nice, peaceful cycle of exploring, collecting resources, building amenities, and talking with the campers who arrive.

There are a handful of quests you will stumble across, but they don’t feel like busy work – they’re just things you would probably want to do anyway as you fix up the park. In fact, I found that actually finding adequate resources to build up the camp sites the most grindy part of the game – everything else feels well-paced and very natural. I’m currently about an hour and a half into the game, and I have yet to even find all the campsites.

As you explore, you gain experience, and as you gain experience, you level up and are allocated points to spend in skills that make maintaining and improving the park easier. The quick interactions with your guests remind me of talking with your neighbors in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, but unlike in that game, progression is not gated by real time, and you could easily complete Haven Park in one long play session if you were so inclined.

So far, I’m finding it simple but pleasant, a fun story-lite place to wander around and tidy up. It’s satisfying, but there’s no risk of it ever becoming overwhelming or stressful, and would probably be a delight to play alongside a young child. Reviewers on Steam have also compared it to A Short Hike, a game I haven’t gotten around to playing yet myself.

If you’re looking for a long game, a difficult game, or a deep game, probably give this one a pass – there’s only about 3-4 hours of content here on a first play through, even if you are the type to aim for 100% achievements. Haven Park isn’t a lot, but what it is is pretty nice.

Quick Look – Ticket to Earth (#SciFiGameMonth)

Look, I know this isn’t the game I picked out to play for #SciFiGameMonth, but it’s super-duper-extra SciFi, so even though I still intend to sit down with Eliza sometime before the month is out, I’m counting this one anyway. Ticket to Earth is a turn-based RPG-lite with a tile matching mechanic that takes place on a non-earth planet in a strange dystopian world, with a fun comic book-inspired art style. That’s a mouthful, I know, but the way it all comes together, is so strange, and yet, at least for me, so enjoyable.

Bear with me here, because this is going to sound like a lot, but the game really does ease you into it gently. Each turn, you get two actions. The first type of action is movement, where you choose a color and can continue moving as long as there is another adjacent tile of the same color to move to – diagonals count. You cannot, however, backtrack. This not only moves you around the board, getting you closer to or further from enemies, it also adds damage to your basic attack, up to a cap determined by your equipped weapon, as well as charges up a special abilities based on the color tiles you’re transversing. The second type of action is well, an action, whether it be a basic attack, a special attack, or a healing or cleansing ability. There are other types of special abilities, for example abilities that provide buffs or debuffs or that change the color of nearby tiles, that do not use up one of your actions, and can be used at any point when they are charged. Each scenario will have a primary objective, and three bonus objectives. Initially, you start with one controllable character, but as you progress through the story, you will add more characters to your party, and be able to take more than one into battle with you.

Between encounters, there’s actually quite a bit you can do, again, doled out slowly through story-based unlocks. You can check the communications log, for information on what’s going on with characters you’ve met so far. You can upgrade or change abilities, purchase new weapons, forge gemstones and unlock talents, provided you have the adequate related currency to do so. The story is fed to you slowly between conflicts, and for me, feels just about right – you’re not getting bogged down in it, and since there is no voice acting, you can proceed through story beats as quickly as you can read; quicker, in fact, if you decide you don’t care about the story at all. Optional missions will pop up on the map from time to time, which are battles that aren’t required for story progression, but that you can take on in order to help your team get more powerful. Since I’m playing on the easier difficulty, I’ve mostly skipped over these thus far.

I’m about, and working on the second episode of the story. My party has grown to three people, which means there’s one playable character I haven’t met yet, since four character slots are shown. Individual battles aren’t overly long, so I’ve been playing this for an “in between” game when I only have a short period of time available. It’s not quite a coffee break game, but it’s also not unreasonable to play in increments of 30 minutes or less. I would say the weakest aspect of the game is probably the writing – so far, the dialogue ranges from fine to ridiculous, and the story is passable, but not memorable. If you’re not a fan of the combat style, there’s not really any good reason to push through playing this one.

Ticket to Earth was originally released in an episodic format, but all chapters are out now, so it’s a complete game, with an estimated play time of about 18 hours. Assuming that’s accurate, I’m not quite a quarter of the way through. The $15 price point seems pretty spot on, and the $3 I paid for it during this last Summer Sale was a steal.

Quick Look – The Almost Gone

There will probably never be a time when I’m not tempted by a game that is described as a narrative puzzle game, which is strange, because more often than not, I find them way too heavy on the puzzles and a little bit light on the narrative. I picked up The Almost Gone back in May when it hit 80% off, so I only spent a couple of dollars on it. Still, I wish I had liked it more than I did.

The Almost Gone is a story told in five acts of escape-room style puzzles. You’re granted small bits of narrative while examining your surroundings, and although it’s pretty likely that everything is going to come together in the end, completing each act left me unsatisfied. The majority of puzzles I encountered through the first three acts were logical, but there was definitely a lot of tedious back-tracking that needed to be done in order to figure some of them out without resorting to a walkthrough. In fact, the time I did need to resort to a guide, I was greeted with this:

For me, the progression just felt off. The puzzles didn’t really feel harder as I moved through, just more arduous. It bugged me to no end that the game only allowed you to zoom in on certain slivers of the dioramas, whereas I would have much preferred to control the zoom on my own. Mouse control also felt somewhat clunky, and I think the game is probably far better played on a touchscreen device than a traditional PC (although I can’t even fathom trying to play on a tiny screen, so that would be an issue).

The art and sound are both fantastic, and there was a moment when something seems to be straining to escape from the fridge that I found to be very very creepy. What this game gets right is the atmosphere, the mystery, but at least for me, the pacing was so bad, I couldn’t overcome it, and I usually really enjoy a non-linear story. This one was just a little too darkly tragic, a little too convoluted, and there wasn’t enough there for me to get invested enough to want to transverse seven or eight screens repeatedly to double check for whatever I might have missed that would have allowed me to move forward.

I’m not 100% sure I won’t return to it – it’s a fairly short game, and I bounced off in the middle of the fourth of five chapters. I kind of want to see how it ends, which I guess makes it interesting, but there wasn’t anything making it feel fun for me.


Bonus Blaugust prompt idea: Do you enjoy narrative puzzle games? Have you played a good one – or a bad one – recently you want to write about? What’s your favorite narrative puzzle game of all time?

Quick Look – Persona 4 Golden (#JRPGJuly)

I’ve been playing so many shorter titles over the past year or so, it feels a little bit weird to be doing a quick look when I’ve already put more than ten hours into the game. But that is, of course, the good news – I’ve stuck with Persona 4 Golden for over ten hours now, which means I may just have broken my long streak of bouncing hard of JRPGs in general. The bad news is – at least for me – there’s still a lot of game left to go. Using the game play length estimate from How Long to Beat, I figure I’ve gone through approximately 15% of the game.

I do feel like I’ve finally gotten a handle on why JRPGs generally don’t work for me: one thing they all seem to have in common is the pacing of the early game is painfully slow. I would estimate that I wasn’t given a meaningful decision or bit of game play for about the first three hours, and that’s a long time to expect a player to hang in there to find out if they even like the gameplay loop.

Thankfully, this time, my patience was rewarded because I do (mostly) enjoy the game play here, both the life-sim style and the turn based combat of the dungeons. You will spend quite a bit of time with the former, where you build friendships (which are referred to in game as Social Links) and improve your character’s stats. The combat sections are firmly tied to in game dates, so you cannot jump into them until certain story beats are met. However, there are a lot of other things you can (and probably should) be doing, so it rarely feels punishing to need to wait. In fact, due to some early game blundering around, I have felt a little rushed from time to time, and that’s even considering that there are parts of the game I’ve either completely ignored or have yet to figure out.

The visuals on the boss designs are absolutely delightful so far.

I still don’t actually expect to get through the entire game this month – but I’m starting to lean towards the idea that I will finish a play through of the whole story. I am playing through on easy, and am consulting a walkthrough to make sure I’m not irrevocably screwing up my save file, so I don’t think I’m going to run up against a point where I just cannot continue. Thankfully, save points are abundant enough that – for the most part – Persona 4 will work for me to fill in some of the smaller bits of gaming time I have.

Quick Look – Robothorium

I’ve selected 15 games that I’ve never played from my Steam library and committed to playing each one for at least 45 minutes this month. Robothorium is the fourth game I played from this project.

Robothorium – at least when you look at all its component parts – should be a really enjoyable game. It’s got a cool sci-fi plot, casting the player in the role of an AI fighting for robot independence from the people who wish to keep them enslaved. It’s got plenty of loot, and a decent variation in potential party members right from the outset. There are a handful of factions which will like you (or not) based on decisions you make throughout the campaign. There’s even crafting – or so I’m told, because an hour into the game, I haven’t unlocked the crafting system yet, although I’ve accumulated a whole lot of materials in my seemingly endless inventory.

My biggest problem is that it plays painfully slow. You will spend a lot of time moving from room to room, rolling the dice as far as dealing with traps & other interactables. The game lets you know the chance of success, but gives no real indication of why that percentage is what it is. While it’s possible I could have missed something, the game gives you a lot of icons indicating … something … but never really explains what they mean. This wasn’t really an issue for me, as I was playing on the lowest difficulty, but I could see myself being really annoyed by it if I were coming up against any real challenges.

I could even forgive that if the combat felt really satisfying, but it’s more of the same feeling of dragging oneself through molasses. Most of your available abilities add to your heat, and if you hit or pass 100 heat by using an ability, that party member will be forced to skip a turn to cool down. While this system is very effective at preventing you from just spamming each party member’s best ability, it also means that combat drags on forever.

It feels a bit ironic that I started this project because I was finding myself impatient with new games, and now I’ve played two back to back which were unusually tedious. I spent just about an hour with Robothorium, and I don’t see myself going back to it. An intriguing plot with interesting factions isn’t enough to make me push through overly long missions with unsatisfying combat, especially since there’s no way to save mid-mission.