Quick Look – Lawn Mowing Simulator (#JustOnePercent 70/100)

Developer: Skyhook Games
Release Date: August 10, 2021
MSRP: $19.99

A year ago, I wouldn’t have looked twice at a game called Lawn Mowing Simulator. Of course, a year ago, I also didn’t get the hype around PowerWash Simulator either, and then a friend bought it for me, and I ended up spending almost 30 hours just chilling out and washing things. While I expected that it could be an anomaly, I also had to consider that maybe I am actually part of the target market for these chore simulation games.

Now, I have never actually mowed a lawn in my entire life, but I understand the basic theory behind it. I was hoping that Lawn Mowing Simulator would start me off small, with a push mower. It does not. You’re given the choice to start the game with one of three tractor-style mowers, and before starting the game’s career mode, you can test drive your tractor of choice (or all of them, if you so desire) on a pretty basic lawn where you only need to mow 20% of the available grass.

Now, I’m not the best video game driver to start with, and that definitely translates into not being the best lawn mower either. After “completing” the test drive, the game warns me that once I start career mode, I will be expected to cut all the grass, which makes sense. I wouldn’t pay me for the mess I made of that field. In truth, you only need to cut 99% of the available lawn to complete a contract in career mode, which might seem like a negligible difference, but one most players will likely to be very grateful for.

I suspect that this game is going for a more realistic simulation approach than a casual one. Once you purchase you tractor and a string cutter, you start on your first job. You spend the first few minutes inspecting the property and picking up any debris that might do damage to your equipment. This was the only easy part of the game for me. I can find stuff and pick it up.

You also have a targeted completion time, and I was concerned that when the clock ran out, that the scenario would end, but it keeps going until you hit your completion target, even if that takes you days. You just don’t get any bonus pay for being quick. I was not quick. I was penalized for doing damage to the ground, and for destroying flowers. I am not meant for a career in virtual landscaping.

I found myself relying more on the string trimmer than I probably should, due to my inability to pilot a lawn tractor in tighter spaces. The last 10 percent or so took me forever to finish, and it awarded me very little money and just over half a bar full of experience. I was feeling stressed out about the whole thing, and was dreading seeing the next yard I needed to manage if I struggled this hard with one-star complexity.

While I can appreciate the attention to detail in the game, I just didn’t enjoy it. Lawn Mowing Simulator looks great, the controls are fine, and I can’t really say there’s anything wrong with it. It’s a solid entry in the chore-sim genre, but I just wanted a little push mower and a square yard. Then I might have found it meditative rather than anxiety-inducing.

SteamDB estimates that Lawn Mowing Simulator has sold between 29,200 and 80,300 copies on Steam. It is also available on Game Pass, was part of the July 2022 Humble Choice, and was given away on the Epic Games store from July 28 – August 4 2022. Reviews are mostly positive, and detractors seems split on whether it’s not realistic enough, or entirely too realistic. Can’t please everyone, I guess. It is ranked 3903 out of 10,967 games released in 2021.

Quick Look – Dreamscaper (#JustOnePercent 69/100)

Developer: Afterburner Studios
Release Date: August 5, 2021
MSRP: $24.99

If you had asked me at the beginning of July which project game I thought I would be most likely to keep playing long after I had enough information for a Quick Look, Dreamscaper definitely would have been at the top of my list. I was fascinated by the game when I played the demo back in September of 2019. However, in the two years that passed between demo and full release, it sort of fell off my radar, and I when it came out, I decided that it wasn’t something I needed to have right away.

Since it fit the timeline for the project, and since it was available to play through XBox Game Pass, I thought this would be a great opportunity to see if it was still something I really wanted. The art style is even better than I remember, and of course, the concept is still fascinating. Fight your demons while you sleep, and do things during the day as your form of permanent progression.

But this time, it just didn’t grab me. First, I couldn’t get my controller to work with it, which wasn’t a huge thing since I’m used playing ARPGs with mouse and keyboard anyway. Then I managed to “recycle” some upgrades by holding down F instead of just pressing it – my bad, I should have looked closer at what the game was telling me to do. I also didn’t realize at first that I wasn’t so much picking up healing potions as I was grabbing potion-bottle-shaped health globes, so I spent a good few minutes trying to figure out if I had an inventory, and if so, how did I access it. The options menu told me I could press “J” to see my journal, but pressing “J” didn’t do anything at all, as far as I could tell.

Ok, so, I chalked that up to 50% me being distracted, and 50% the game being less transparent about how things worked than I usually prefer. I probably could have muddled through it all. However, once I hit the first boss, I realized that I’m actually pretty terrible at this game. I managed to beat the encounter once, primarily due to starting it with a nearly full health bar, and having picked up and incredibly effective weapon for it. I was relieved that it was in my rearview mirror and I was moving on.

Then, two trash mobs into the second level, I died, and watched as I was reset all the way back to the first level. Right. Permadeath. That’s unfortunate.

I expected the next run to be easier, since I now had a weapon drop from the first boss, and I was starting to get the hang of this. Instead, the next run started with a big hammer I had never seen before. The one after that, I was bare-fisted. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to what you have when you start a new run, which I found very frustrating. I still couldn’t access any kind of inventory or see what I had equipped, until finally on my last run, I managed to beat the boss again, and got a screen with a breakdown of what I was using.

… and then I immediate died in the first room of the second floor. Again.

In the end, it seems like Dreamscaper is not, in fact, For Me. I’m sure if I were determined enough, I could brute force my way through with some lucky drops and some patience, but I find after about an hour, I don’t particularly want to.

SteamDB estimates that Dreamscaper has sold between 44,900 and 123,500 copies on Steam. So far it’s been a hit, with over 90% of the reviews recommending the game. It is ranked 468 out of 10,967 games released in 2021.

Quick Look – Garden Story (#JustOnePercent 68/100)

Developer: Picogram
Release Date: August 11, 2021
MSRP: $19.99

Garden Story starts slow, and despite a lengthy tutorial section, right from the get go, I felt like I was just missing some critical thought component to make the game make sense. Initially, I stepped out of my house, and couldn’t figure out how the game expected me to get to the next objective. There didn’t seem to be a path, and I couldn’t properly interact with, well, anything at all. It seemed like an eternity before it occurred to me to go back inside my house, where I spotted a second exit leading me right to my objective.

This experience is basically a microcosm of the next hour of play for me. There is just something here that isn’t intuitive for me.

You play as Concord the very small grape, who is being moved from his cozy assignment of tending to a single plant to the main drag of the Haven, where you’ll be tasked with helping members of your community. A lot of that help is going to be combat-focused, as the main problem facing your town is The Rot, which so far seems to be little purple blobs, and the occasional goop-shooting vine.

Each day, you will check the board next to your home for requests, and then wander around trying to take care of whatever needs to be taken care of. There is some sort of day/night cycle, but it seems like it’s mainly trackable from the map, and I still haven’t been able to figure out if it’s real-time based or action based. If you manage to lose all your health, you are penalized financially, and the day ends immediately. Thankfully, you will wake up the next day with full health, ready to go back out there and help everyone all over again.

There are also some light puzzling sections, and apparently, at least three more major areas for you to go improve upon, but – as I said – the whole thing feels very slow. Even the hack & slash style combat is slow – you have very limited stamina in the early game, so I felt like combat didn’t feel that great. I would run in, poke at something with my pick once or twice, and then have to run away to give my stamina time to regen. It felt very choppy, and I was not looking forward to starting to run into enemies that were going to take more than a couple rounds of that nonsense.

By contrast, all of the menus felt busy, but also obtuse. If I forgot where my objectives were, I resorted to stopping at any job board I passed, because I couldn’t figure out how to see them on my map screen. Instead, I felt like I was getting a lot of information that wasn’t particularly relevant. When a game doesn’t give you any kind of journal or quest log, that’s a choice, even if it’s not one I love. This just felt like it was poorly designed.

While there wasn’t anything I hated about Garden Story, there just wasn’t anything that made me really want to keep playing either. I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was a fun game somewhere in there, but that it was stuck in a pool of molasses, and I just wasn’t feeling it enough to struggle through.

SteamDB estimates that Garden Story has sold between 11,800 and 32,600 copies on Steam. It seems that most folks who played it liked it a whole lot more than I did, and as such, it has a Very Positive overall rating. It is ranked 578 out of 10,967 games released in 2021.

Quick Look – Doomsday Vault (#JustOnePercent 67/100)

Developer: Flightless
Release Date: August 5, 2021
MSRP: $16.99

Doomsday Vault has been sitting in my library, mostly unplayed, for the better part of a year now. This is entirely my own fault. You see, shortly after it was released, I saw something about it on Twitter, and made the erroneous assumption that this was a robot farming game. When I loaded it up and discovered that instead it was a robot puzzle game, I immediately lost interest and closed it out. This is why one should always read the game description on the store page before making impulse purchases.

It’s not that I don’t like puzzle games – I definitely do – but it wasn’t the game I wanted it to be at the time. Choosing to play it during the project was a no brainer then – since it was already in my library and in a genre I usually enjoy.

You are a tiny robot on a mission – find seedlings of the earth’s plant life and bring them back to your vault. Since this is post-apocalyptic, there are no enemies to contend with – you simply need to navigate each map, looking for seedlings and the nutrients you will need to grow them. Traversing these maps will require some light puzzle solving skills, but in the first hour or so of the game, I didn’t come across anything that made me think too hard about it.

You do have a power meter, and there are a (very) few things that will deplete that meter. Just walking around and collecting things won’t put any strain on you, and battery packs seem to be plentiful. Each level has a single seedling, as well as at least 100 nutrients and one or more carbon eaters for you to reassemble. You can replay levels at any time to find the things you’ve missed, but if you manage to get about half of the available nutrients, you will at least be able to grow the seedling you acquired.

The main game is only 14 levels – in my hour of play, I completed 5 of those before getting stuck on the sixth level. This does make Doomsday Vault a fairly short game, but the game does also include a challenge mode to extend playtime. You will also unlock plenty of cosmetic upgrades for your small robot character, and for some folks, that’s a whole other game play element to pursue.

For me, Doomsday Vault falls in that weird chasm of not being challenging enough to be compelling, while still not being so easy as to just fly through it. Part of that is that it felt like I was forever fighting the controls – moving around just doesn’t feel good, and that’s not a great look on a game that really wants you to scrounge around in every nook and cranny. It’s not so bad as to make the game unplayable, but it’s bad enough to discourage excessive exploration.

Conceptually, the game is fine, but its rough edges make it less compulsively playable than it could be. Even if I could figure out what I’m doing wrong on level 6, it’s unlikely that this is a game I would want to spend too much more time with.

SteamDB estimates that Doomsday Vault has sold between 200 and 500 copies on Steam. Reviews have been mostly positive, with the one negative review also mentioning clunky-feeling controls. It is ranked 4591 out of 10,967 games released in 2021.

Quick Look – The Forgotten City (#JustOnePercent 66/100)

Developer: Modern Storyteller
Release Date: July 28, 2021
MSRP: $24.99

While I love the idea of time loops in video games, historically I haven’t been terribly successful in getting into any of the ones I’ve tried. This made me hesitant to pick up The Forgotten City – while I really like the idea of being able to repeat a period of time while you try to figure out some kind of mystery, I usually find myself very frustrated by the mechanic due to unavoidable repetition. Not so here. The Forgotten City manages to dial down the tedium to get you right back where you want to be – in the middle of a mystery.

There’s probably a good 20 – 30 minutes of exposition and set dressing before you get into the story proper, but that really is all content you will only see at the very beginning of the game. It feels like the only gameplay affecting choice you make early on is to choose your background – I went with archeologist for the extra insight. Otherwise, it’s a very linear path back two thousand years and into the main story, and after your first time loop, you can really tackle things in any order.

Most of the game play time is spend getting to know the inhabitants of this strange place. It’s a very small city filled with displaced individuals who have survived together over the last seven months by respecting the law of the land – The Golden Rule. Any sin committed while in the city will cause the destruction of the whole – each and ever citizen will be turned into gold statues.

You become part of the story on a particularly momentous day – not only is there an election scheduled, but the current magistrate has reason to believe that this is the day that someone in the city will break the law and has tasked you with preventing this from occurring. However, the chances are good that you won’t figure it all out on the first pass, and you’ll need to run back to the portal and try again until you get it all figured out.

Chances are, there will be characters you like, and characters you don’t, but their fates are completely intertwined and violence is unlikely to ever be the correct choice. In fact, after my first loop, I decided that whatever I could do to help the citizens and gain their trust would be my top priority. As a result, I spent a good half an hour attempting to pick a flower. It certainly wasn’t what I expected to be doing, but I didn’t think it would doom the whole place to do it, so it seemed like the best kind of favor to focus on.

I’m about 90 minutes in now, and I’m really enjoying it. How Long To Beat estimates it’ll take around five hours to find an ending, and around ten if I want to see everything the game has to offer. According to the game’s achievements, there are four possible endings. I finally managed to pull myself away because I was just completely unsure of what to do next, but I find that I’m still thinking about who I haven’t met and what I haven’t done even while the game is closed, which to me, is the best indication that this is a game I should keep plugging away at.

Considering that The Forgotten City started as a conversion mod for Skyrim, what the developers have managed to pull together is pretty damn impressive indeed.

Edited to add: Once I finished writing this, I told myself I was just going to play for a few more minutes. Instead, I ended up binging the entirety of the game. I managed to get the “canon” ending on my second try, it is really a fantastic way to wrap up a very very interesting game.

There is a fairly lengthy action horror sequence, and while it is possible to complete the best ending of the game without it, I would absolutely recommend taking that part on if you feel like you can – it’s probably one of the best sequences in the whole game.

The Forgotten City took me just over five and a half hours to complete.

The Forgotten City is one of the most successful indie games to be released in 2021, and almost definitely the most successful one I’ll be playing for this project. SteamDB estimates that The Forgotten City has sold between 117,200 and 322,300 copies on Steam, and nearly all the reviews it has received are positive. It is ranked 39 out of 10,967 games released in 2021.

Quick Look – An Odd Tale (#JustOnePercent 65/100)

Developer: Change Studios
Release Date: July 31, 2021
MSRP: Free

It took me about half an hour to confirm that An Odd Tale is most definitely Not For Me. The awkward self-referential humor wouldn’t have been too bad if only there’d been less of it, but of the 30 minutes I played, at least half was spent clicking through tedious dialogue that just wasn’t landing for me as funny. I pushed through because I was hoping the combat sections would redeem it, but if anything, at least for me, the combat was worse than the writing.

For a game with a lot of talking going on, I was having a difficult time following the storyline. You leave your hometown, armed with pretty much absolutely nothing, to go meet up with a wizard who knows a little bit about someone doing some kind of mind control. He sends you to see a farmer, who most definitely knows more than he does, and it is at this out of the way farm that you get your first look at your enemies.

The combat screen is dark and uninformative, and I only had a single ability to use, and it was a damage over time spell with a three round cooldown. So basically, combat for me was a lot of clicking “END TURN”. Now, I did purchase a melee weapon, but couldn’t figure out how to use it, so I’m not entirely sure if it’s meant to just be a stat stick? I have no idea because nothing is well explained, and in a lot of cases, it’s not explained at all. I feel like a little less cheesy dialogue and a little more tutorial would have gone a long way towards making this more playable.

I did, however, find the art style charming – in fact, it’s the reason why I picked An Odd Tale out in the first place. Considering that this free to play title was put together by a couple of high school students, it’s definitely impressive, even if it isn’t very fun to play.

SteamDB estimates that An Odd Tale has been downloaded somewhere between 400 and 1,100 times on Steam. Reviews are mixed, with detractors complaining about bugs, excessive irrelevant conversations, and slow movement speed. It is ranked 8465 out of 10,967 games released in 2021.

Quick Look – inbento (#JustOnePercent 64/100)

Developer: Afterburn
Release Date: July 30, 2021
MSRP: $4.99

In the interest of transparency, I added inbento to my project list based on the release date given by SteamDB of July 30, 2021. The Steam store page lists an older release date of September 3, 2019, however the game release announcement post was made on July 30, 2021 so, despite not really knowing the reason for the discrepancy, I decided to still consider it to be a qualifying game.

Over the years, I’ve amassed a pretty large collection of pure puzzle games. They’re usually relatively inexpensive, and are fantastic for when I’ve only got a few minutes and want to keep myself occupied while waiting for something else. Back in March, inbento was included in the Itch.io mega charity Bundle for Ukraine, and that’s where I picked it up.

I would say that inbento is story-light enough to be considered a pure puzzle game. Every chapter’s worth of puzzle you complete, you’re given a cute image or two of the Momma cat and her kittens, but there’s no cut scenes, no text, and no exploration elements.

Each level requires you to put together a lunch box that exactly matches the recipe in the upper right hand corner of the screen from the parts available to you. The entire first chapter is mind-numbingly easy, but it doesn’t stay that way for long. Most chapters introduce a new sort of mechanic; so far I’ve seen part-swapping, un-rotatable pieces, part removal for reuse, and part duplication blocks. After about an hour’s playtime, I’m partway through chapter eight (out of fourteen), and have completed just over half the puzzles in the game.

Probably my biggest annoyance with the game is the controls, most specifically that pressing “R” resets the puzzle rather than rotates the piece. Unfortunately, I could not find any way to rebind keys to make it more intuitive for me, but thus far, even resetting puzzles accidentally has been, at worst, a few seconds of setback.

It seems reasonable to assume that most competent puzzlers will get at least two to three hours of play from inbento, and will likely find themselves really having to think about solutions as the game progresses. There is a setting in the options to reset all game progress if you ever want to replay the whole game, which is a nice touch, since I sometimes come back to games after extended periods away. All in all, it’s a pretty adorable little package with solid puzzles for a reasonable price, and I’m pleased to have in my collection of pure puzzlers.

SteamDB estimates that inbento has sold between 2,000 and 5,600 copies on Steam. It’s gotten almost no negative reviews so far. It is ranked 741 out of 10,967 games released in 2021.

Quick Look – Leaf Me Alone (#JustOnePercent 63/100)

Developer: cream
Release Date: July 29, 2021
MSRP: $7.99

There are probably a thousand different reasons why people play video games, and while they’re all valid, they’re most certainly not universal. Leaf Me Alone is not a game that’s going to appeal to everyone – there’s no fail state, no puzzles, nor is there even the barest whisper of a story. No, this is a beautiful but very simple game of being a small robot who vacuums up debris and leaves every place he visits tidier than he found it.

The main gameplay loop consists of using the left mouse button to pick up leaves, and then the right mouse button to deposit them in the oh-so-adorable refuse bin. You move with WASD and tell the bin to empty itself with R. On each level, there may be a couple of bigger objects that need to be disposed of as well, as indicated by a red outline like in the screenshot above. To move those, you’re going to have to hold down the left mouse button as you need to maintain suction to hold onto them. Once you’re finished cleaning, you hit enter to finish the level. That’s all you need to know to complete the whole game.

As you complete levels, you earn two types of currency. Points are used to upgrade your little vacuum-bot, increasing its range, capacity, speed, or buying one of two larger upgrades. Coins can be turned in for random cosmetic upgrades in the form of hats, backpieces, or new body colors.

I was hoping to be a yellow duck-hatted bot, but the RNG had other ideas for me.

There are 20 “standard” levels, and four “maze” levels, and there doesn’t seem to be anything stopping you from playing these levels in any order. In a little over an hour, I completed 7 levels (including the tutorial level) and one maze, with a little time left over for trying on a bunch of different cosmetics. Personally, I didn’t care for the mazes, but I was absolutely just chilling out with the regular levels. For me, the gameplay loop was both meditative and satisfying, and while I don’t expect that I’d ever want to just binge the entire game, I can see myself returning to it now and then when I just need to relax and clear my mind for a few minutes.

As far as “chore simulators” go, I don’t know that I’ve come across one more adorable than Leaf Me Alone, and I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on the developer to see what they come up with next.

SteamDB estimates that Leaf Me Alone has sold somewhere between 600 and 1,500 copies on Steam, which isn’t terribly surprising considering it’s the first paid title from the developers and it’s in a pretty niche genre. However, the people reviewing it all recommend it, so that helped a lot in boosting its overall rank. It is ranked 1173 out of 10,967 games released in 2021.

Quick Look – Stacklands

I picked up my first Sokpop Collective game – Simmiland – back in April of 2020, and not only did I really enjoy it, I discovered that what they’ve been doing for quite awhile now is really pretty cool. Every month, they make a new game in their personal style. Not everything they’ve put out has been of interest to me, but shortly after Stacklands came out, I read up on it on Indiecator, and thought that it would probably be right up my alley. During the most recent Steam Summer sale, I noticed it was part of a bundle with a handful of Sokpop’s other strategy games, and I decided that I might as well just grab the whole bundle.

Stacklands starts you out with just a handful of cards, among which is a single villager, and a list of completeable quests down the left size of the screen. When you’re first starting out, you’re going to need to focus on these quests; they serve a dual purpose of teaching you how the game is played as well as unlocking more varied cards for your to play with.

Picking up the villager card and dropping it onto any other card will make your villager interact with that item if possible. Stack your villager on top of a berry bush, and he will turn that card into a handful of berries. Drop him on a rock, and he’ll break it down into stones (or something else if you’re particularly lucky). Almost all of the cards you get can be sold, turning them into Coin cards, which can be used to buy more card packs.

But buying cards is only part of the equation. During each cycle of the game, referred to here as Moons, you will need to make sure you have enough food cards to feed all of your villagers. Any villagers that don’t have enough food at the change of the moon won’t survive to help you during the next cycle. You also have to keep an eye on the total number of cards on your board – if, after feeding your villagers, you still have more (non-coin) cards than your current maximum card count, you’ll need to sell off the excess before you can proceed.

I’m sure there is an actual win condition, but in seven hours of playing, I have yet to find it. Each time you run out of villagers, you start back at the beginning, but with all the knowledge you’ve gained in prior play throughs tucked away in your sidebar, as well as all the deck types you’ve previously unlocked being available to purchase. I’ve exclusively played on the default settings (Moon Length: Normal and Peaceful Mode: Off), and since an entirely new section of the game was just recently added – for free, I might add – I’ve only managed to complete about half the game on my main save.

Ignore that 5% complete save – I just used that one to grab a few early game screen shots!

The concept of the game is really pretty simple, but it doesn’t play simply. Each card pack you can purchase has a set variety of available cards, but sometimes you can buy pack after pack and still not get what you’re looking for to progress. You can – and probably will – just try mashing random cards together at first to see what happens, but you will eventually receive idea cards that will give you the recipe for something you have yet to discover on your own. All of those ideas will be saved for you in the sidebar, and you can reference them whenever you need to, but if you find yourself playing just one more run, you’ll probably have the most important ones memorized before too long.

There is an impressive amount of game here for less than $5. I usually don’t go in for card games, or games with a lot of randomized aspects, and I found myself going back to Stacklands every time I had a few free minutes over the course of about a week. I’ve taken a bit of a break from it now, but it’s a game I can see myself returning to again and again, probably even once I’ve unlocked every card and discovered every idea it has to offer.

Quick Look – Abomi Nation (#JustOnePercent 62/100)

Developer: Orange Pylon Games
Release Date: July 29, 2021
MSRP: $19.99

I think the only thing I really feel like I missed out with not having grown up in a console-loving household is Pokémon. In fact, I think my first hands-on creature battling experience was when pet battles were introduced in World of Warcraft. Yet there’s something about this type of game that I am drawn to over and over.

However, since I was unfamiliar with what the store description meant when it said Abomi Nation was “inspired by the Nuzlocke challenge”, off I went to Google to look that up.

I feel like this might have been how this game mistakenly ended up with the “Roguelike” tag. If that’s the sort of gameplay you’re looking for, this is probably going to miss the mark for you. Sure, there’s turn based battles, and yes, if one of your Abomis run out of health, they’re gone for good, but it really plays out more like a Poké-clone than anything else. In fact, you can turn down the difficulty and turn off permadeath if you so choose. I went with the intended experience, and managed to make it to the first boss fight without losing a single Abomi.

You start out choosing from three possible creatures, and having absolutely no idea what I was doing, I went with the monkey, who I called Nibbles, and you have limited opportunities to pick up other team members along the way. The game explains this away by telling you that only some Abomis have what it takes to fight for the Light Spirit, while most of the enemies you face are only the stolen souls of Abomis, and when you defeat them, you release their souls, so you won’t be doing any trapping of them in little balls. That would not be very Light Spirit-y of you.

I probably would have passed on this one if I had take a moment to look up Nuzlocke ahead of time, because the randomness of taking what I’m given is my least favorite part of creature collectors. By the time I faced off against the first boss, I had only four critters for my team. I like the collection aspects of these games far more than the actual battling parts, so that fell a little bit flat for me.

I did appreciate the game’s humor – for the most part, and the storyline is perfectly serviceable. After just about every wild area, there’s a settlement where you can sit by the fire to restore your teams’ health, and stock up on consumables before heading out again. Most areas only have a single entrance and exit, and that leaves the game feeling linear as it limits exploration (assumedly to keep you from collecting too many different critters and thus being able to optimize your way around the challenges).

Overall, for me, Abomi Nation was something less than what I had wanted it to be, but not so much so as to render it an unenjoyable experience. It would probably be fantastic for folks craving more challenge in their critter battlers, but the randomness took away a bit of strategizing, and the permadeath made me hesitant to get too attached to my Abomis. I probably won’t return to it, but I’m not sorry I tried it out.

While SteamDB estimates that Abomi Nation has sold between 1,800 and 4,900 copies on Steam, which surprised me as I expected there’d be more interest in Poké-clones on PC. Reviews are very positive overall, as most reviewers have enjoyed both the gameplay and the aesthetic. It is ranked 1869 out of 10,967 games released in 2021.