HYPER BEAM Review! iOS/iPhone

54250

Do you miss the arcade games of old, where twitch reflexes and split-second decisions meant life or death, high-score or nothing? Then grab your iPhone, boot up the AppStore, and head straight to Rinikulous Games’ new space shooter HYPER BEAM. Let your thumbs do the talking as you negotiate with enemies via a death laser, also known as the mighty Hyper Beam!

If you like attractive minimalist design, space, and bullet-hell action with inventive touch controls, you’d be well-served to give HYPER BEAM a try. You won’t survive long, but what a life it will be!

Check out my full review with more info and screenshots at KeenGamer.com! Also check out my review of Rinikulous Games’ last excellent mobile game, Lonely Sun!

CLADUN RETURNS: THIS IS SENGOKU! Review!

53988.jpg

The classic dungeon series is back with Cladun Returns: This is Sengoku! With a new Nobunaga-era backstory and more dungeons than you can shake a pixel at, NIS’s brilliant bite-sized RPG is bigger, funnier, and more loot-filled than ever! Grab your controller, laptop, or Vita, and dive into this retro-themed masterpiece that’s sure to take years of your life (and you’ll love it!)

It comes down to this: Cladun Returns: This is Sengoku! is a treasure trove of time-killing pleasures, the kind of game where boredom has to be sought to be found. Between dungeon crawling, loadout tweaking, magic circle and fortress-fortifying, drawing, and composing, there’re just too many play options to detail. The dungeons look good, play great, and will have you coming back for more.

Check out my full review with more info and screenshots at KeenGamer.com!

AKIBA’S BEAT Review! (PS4/PSVita)

53170

Ever have a desire to geek out on anime, games, and do absolutely NOTHING else? So does Asahi, the hero of AKIBA’S BEAT, and his lazy dreams are shattered by the pro-active Saki and her talking plush toy–er, familiar–who drag him into a monster-fighting quest to shatter people’s delusions. Get pumped for some J-Pop, Idol worship, and otaku-fueled hijinks in Japan’s famous “Electric Town” in this 3D action RPG!

Akiba’s Beat is a decent action RPG that lacks flash, but has above average elements, such as a great real-world setting, awesome music, and peerless voice acting. The story is entertaining enough, but the zaniness of prior Akiba’s games is gone, leaving an absence felt right to the core of the experience.

Is it worth it? To otaku freaks like us, sure–Akiba is still a totally cool place to experience, and while the look and actual licensed content is limited, the story and NPC commentary build up a social outline of the anime-fan lifestyle that those of us outside of Japan can only imagine. But if that’s not your thing, you’ll probably find too much loading, and too little visual flare to keep on fighting other people’s delusions.

Check out my full review with screenshots at KeenGamer.com!

OPERATION ABYSS: NEW TOKYO LEGACY Review!

52278

Operation Abyss: New Tokyo Legacy is an excellent dungeon romp through a near-future sci-fi Tokyo.Finish that high-school class quick, so you can gear up and dive headlong into a quest for missing students that’ll lead you into fierce battle against bizarre enemies. Best of all, this dungeon-crawler won’t make you crunch more numbers than math class! (Unless you’re into that.)

For those unfamiliar with Wizardry games, especially their later Japanese-spawned entries, suffice it to say that they consist of first-person dungeon wandering through grid’ed environs, where players control a party of characters in turn-based combat and have a metric ton of stats, gear, and spells to play with. Operation Abyss contains all of those traits, but trades the more common sword and sorcery theme for a near-modern future filled with high-tech laboratories and medical facilities hidden beneath local high schools.

Where Wizardry games, and their recent ilk such as Stranger of Sword City, often lose people is in the complexity of their numbers’ systems. Players need to be aware of no less than two dozen stats and traits to fully utilize their party, and often the mere act of equipping a new sword can take minutes. The fun comes from eventually fine-tuning your crew into the ultimate monster-slaying heroes, but it can come at the price of playability. Operation Abyss: New Tokyo Legacy skips this terrifying time-sink by using story progression as a way to spread out the introduction of new stats and systems. Certainly this is nothing new to the gaming world, but being able to plunk your way through a few dungeons before having to worry about crafting is a nice change of pace, and makes learning the complexities of the game engine a gradual pleasure, rather than a brick wall on the highway.

Operation Abyss: New Tokyo Legacy is both fun and approachable, like the best guest at a party. It doesn’t bore you with convoluted ways to make your guacamole taste better, but you know it could if you asked for it. It’s as complicated as you want it to be, and a nice challenge no matter what.

Check out my full review on KeenGamer.com!

RAIN WORLD Review! PC / PS4

51417

Rain World is indie developer Videocult’s new survival platform title published by Adult Swim Games. Taking place in a world of deadly rainstorms and vicious carnivores, players take charge of a single lonely slugcat, who must evade and survive long enough to reunite with it’s family. Will you be able to get back to the safety of your home, or be pounded into oblivion by a torrent of crushing water?

It comes down to is this: Rain World is a gorgeous game with great storytelling and a very slow pace. It has some bits and pieces that are more in favor of art than fun–such as non-skip-able animations and a dreary color palette–but there’s still great gameplay and a huge amount of content for all that (over 60 hrs. on the first play-through!)

If you’re the kind that likes to sprinkle some art house movies in between binge-watching cartoons, then you ought to consider Rain World a must-have, a 10/10, an insta-buy. However, if you’re just looking for the average Mario-Meat Boy-Hedgehog experience, then consider that you’ll be getting a game more focused on careful planning than twitch reflexes. Consider also that you’ll be getting a beautiful story, though–for us, that’s worth it.

Check out my full review with more screenshots at KeenGamer.com!

PHONING HOME Review!

47792

Phoning Home is indie developer ION LANDS love letter to storytelling and boasts a tale that really is worth telling. Players take control of ION, a small robot stranded on an alien world filled with dangerous weather, dangerous monsters, and the remnants of an ancient civilization with secrets long buried. Friends will be met, heartstrings will be pulled, and gamers will be satisfied in this third-person exploration survival experience!

Phoning Home is the first indie game in a long time that looks and plays like an AAA title. The production values and writing are worthy of the big names in gaming, and ION LANDS has pulled off a great story with a game engine that does exactly what it sets out to do–engage and satisfy.

Check out my full review and let’s play at KeenGamer.com!

INDIE REVIEW: Hand of Fate (PS4) – Love Board Games? Love Video Games? Love this game.

The Dealer - Your Frenemy In This Excellent Game ...
The Dealer – Your Frenemy In This Game.

In This Game, The Rule is Board, Not Bored …

Okay, so if you own both a PS3 or PS4 and a PS Vita, you’ve found yourself asking this question: “Hmm, if I buy this PSN game now, will I get it free for Vita when it launches on that platform?”  It’s a game in and of itself, and you’ve got a 50/50 shot of it working in your favor when it comes to indie games.  The big titles, like Dragon’s Crown, aren’t gonna give you that extra platform for free, so you gotta shell out double or live with it on one system or the other.  Smaller and indie titles, though, like Helldivers and Hotline Miami 1 and 2, let you play to your pleasure.

The Camera Is Fixed But Tracks, And It Works ...
The Camera Is Fixed But Tracks, And It Works …

I asked myself the “Hmm . . .” question not too long ago about Defiant Development’s semi-rogue like title Hand of Fate.  I was moving cross country at the time, and hoping to play the card game/action game hybrid on my plane via the Vita.  It seems like the perfect game for the go–it’s stage-based, randomized, and promises simple controls not likely to utilize the complicated back-panel touchpads that caused me so much grief with the Borderlands 2 port (still worth it.)

And then, after it was announced and promised, Defiant CANCELED IT. Cancelled it!  I was irritated, so much so, that I almost didn’t bother to play the PS4 version I’d purchased for $10 via Flash Sale.  But I did, and oh, what an excellent decision that turned out to be.

Cards Act As Events, Many Of Which Can Get You Equipment And Supplies ...
Cards Act As Events, Which Can Net You Equipment And Supplies …

Here’s the gameplay: You choose cards to be part of your deck, cards that are events (like battles or tests of memory or luck) or cards that are weapons or equipment, and then the dealer adds his own. The dealer acts as a narrator in this game, and the voice actor that Defiant chose for him is perfectly epic.  The writing is good, too, and he gives cryptic snippets that add interesting atmosphere to the game world while never repeating himself too much.

Once you’ve made your deck and the dealer’s cards have been added, a random amount are laid out in a random face-down pattern like a game board.  Your character then starts at a predetermined point and must travel one card at a time to reach the way to the next game board, and ultimately the boss card of the round. Each move consumes food, and every card you land on is turned up, putting you through the event of the card.  Event cards in your deck have a token on them, and completing the event in a certain way gives you that one-time token, which grants you even more cards to personalize your deck with.

The Bosses Are Graded Jack, Queen, or King ...
The Bosses Are Graded Jack, Queen, or King …

The graphics are good, though the faux wood-etched card art outshines the WoW-esque character models and arenas, which are still good and serve their purpose.  The sometimes outlandish look of your character’s equipment actually looks cool in relation to the otherwise high-fantasy models, and I always enjoy decking my guy out with the Geordi Laforge-esque visor and a big ol’ hammer.

The events are either choose-your-own-adventure style with a three-card-Monte system, and/or an arena third-person battle setup with randomized enemies.  They all work well, and some games have “Curses” which cause harder three-card-Monte rounds or put on other challenges.

The Graphics Aren't Groundbreaking, But Are Artistically Pleasing ...
The Graphics Aren’t Groundbreaking, But Are Artistically Pleasing …

The game has free-play and endless-play modes, but the main game is a campaign of sorts that has the dealer pitching you in rounds ending with a certain boss card, either a Jack, Queen, or King, and after you beat three, you get a bonus artifact that gives you starting boosts (better starting equipment, blessings that give perks, etc.) There’s a DLC pack for PC’s, too, which more cards, but whether that will hit consoles isn’t clear.

While I was and still am disappointed that Hand of Fate won’t hit the PS Vita, a note from Defiant let me know that the animations alone exceeded the Vita’s memory, so it’s no surprise the port didn’t make it. Regardless, I can honestly say that I’ve had a huge amount of fun with this title.  It’s more like a board game in style than a typical console game, but it’s so no-fuss to play that anyone is gonna have fun jumping into this game.  Wait for a flash sale if you must, but I can’t recommend this title more.  Let’s hope for a sequel, and a real physical board game on top of that!

Grab This Title NOW ...
Grab This Title NOW, It Doesn’t Disappoint …

Sound: 5/5 – The Dealer’s narration alone is a win.

Gameplay: 5/5 – The board game setup, three-card-Monte system, and breadth of event cards makes for a fun time. They even made a fixed tracking camera work well enough.

Story: 5/5 – Well-written and just as detailed as you need works to create a mysterious atmosphere.

Worth It: 5/5 – Buy it, play it, and tell your friends.