Updates From Me: A Significant Transition to Indie

You guys enjoyed this Indie Workshop content the most - it seems fitting.

You guys enjoyed this Indie Workshop content the most – it seems fitting.

Hey guys, a pretty important update from me, and something that’s not only going to affect myself and the blog you’re reading right now, but also you as readers. Just a few things I feel need to be discussed and put into place so that the blog can be beneficial for all parties involved.

I begun writing this blog as something of a pass-time, and never really imagined it would have the small success that it has in such a small time. While the blog originally started out as something to discuss the big, AAA titles on the market, I swiftly found out that it would rekindle my love for all things Indie and I would soon be on a one-way street to writing about all things Indie. I’ve met a great many Indie Developers via Twitter over the past month and I’ve really hit it off great with an awful lot of them.

What this essentially means for my blog is that its done sort of a 180 – rather than looking at the huge titles like Call of Duty and Battlefield, now I’m taking on small, Indie projects. This has sparked so much interest that it seems to have just snow-balled somewhat (in the best possible way because I love doing what I’m doing, don’t get me wrong) and now I’ve got lots of Indie Devs who’s content I would love to cover.

Just to give you guys an example of where I’m coming from – I’ve written 21 articles altogether. Out of all those articles, the two Indie Workshops I’ve created – Lenna’s Inception and 2x0ng, sit among the top 3 articles I’ve ever written. The only other article to match those is an article that has been on my blog twice as long as they have – Lenna’s Inception even smashed that article in less than 24 hours.

This suggests to me a few things. Either;

  1. My readers prefer to read my Indie content as its something new/different.
    Or
  2. My other content just isn’t on the same level as the Indie stuff I’m producing.

Either way, it really points towards something on my part that I need to be changing. To add to things, I’ve also realised that using images from Google Images and other popular search engines would potentially infringe upon copyright law, and as such I’ve had to resort to using images that are available via sites such as Wikimedia Commons. This considerably reduces my potential to make articles much more attractive and interesting for you guys, and with Indie you don’t have this issue as the developer can give you permission to use the content when you’re discussing the review with them.

Due to the fact my Indie content is by far my most popular, and its much easier to create an article that is both filled with good content and aesthetically pleasing, as of today my blog will be undergoing a few important changes that I think you should all be aware of;

  • I’ve been slowly moving towards an Indie slant for a while, but from here on in my blog will be much more “Indie-centric”. What I mean by this is that I’m not exactly disqualifying the potential of having non-Indie content featured on my blog (variety is the spice of life) but it will mainly be Indie content that I cover.
  • Older articles will remain, such as my Editorials and my other Reviews, but they may be discontinued or not frequented as much as my Indie content. This is nothing to do with preference from me, but is what you guys as viewers have indicated to me what you want the most (based upon view count)
  • A select few articles have been hidden/made private as I feel they are no longer in-keeping with what I want the blog to become, and are somewhat out of place amongst the other content.

What this essentially means is that I can continue to provide you guys with high-quality, visually pleasing articles that you all expect, without publishing so much of the stuff that you guys were perhaps not so keen on. Its all towards focusing the blog down to the point where I’m hitting the nail on the head 99.9% of the time with my articles and I *know* I’m entertaining the vast majority of you.

So what can you guys expect now? Well;

  • Indie Workshop will most likely become the most common article, dependent of course upon how many developers get in touch to have their games reviewed.
  • More Indie content will fill out the blog. This is still a work in progress while I come up with concepts, but I’m entirely open to ideas.
  • I may begin to draw in interviews and 1-on-1s with game developers to give you guys a better insight into what’s going on behind the scenes of the Indie world.
  • Articles such as Editorials will still exist, but will be more infrequent as getting hold of media content can prove to be difficult without causing copyright issues.

As always, I do what I do for you readers and without you I am nothing, so your feedback is extremely valuable to me to ensure I’m driving my blog in the right direction. Sending me tweets over Twitter and leaving comments on this blog give me some indication of what I’m doing right/wrong, and if I don’t hear anything from you I can only assume I’m doing things right — so if you feel I’m moving in the wrong way, PLEASE LET ME KNOW!

This transaction will probably be fairly smooth and most of you won’t even notice that the blog has changed at all as I was moving in a very “Indie” direction anyway, but as always I like to keep you guys updated.

That’s all for now, guys. Thanks a lot for reading.

– FA.

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Editorial: Why GTAV Needs to be Something Special

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

When I think back through my long history of video games, very few stand out in my mind as being as commonly criticised as Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto franchise. From driving over prostitutes, to arming yourself with the widest variety of weapons and gunning down all number of pedestrians, to San Andreas’ infamous “hot coffee” minigame – if there’s one thing you can grant Grand Theft Auto, its pushing the boundaries of what most people would deem acceptable.

Growing up, I played most of the Grand Theft Auto games; I even had the original, top down and as horrible as it was. Vice City and San Andreas certainly left their mark on me, too, and I still to this day herald San Andreas as one of the best PlayStation 2 games I ever played. Sure, some of the scenes might’ve been a little dicey and some of my actions questionable, but underneath all of the over-the-top drama the game was layered with, there was a diamond in the rough that really was quite the feat at the time.

Move on almost 8 years since I first played San Andreas, and there are millions of people eagerly awaiting what is certain to be Rockstar’s coup de grâce for this generation of consoles; Grand Theft Auto V. Currently, GTAV is poised to be one of the biggest games not only of this Christmas season, but for the entire year. Many people will purchase the game simply because they’re a long-running fan of the series – I myself can’t even count on both hands how many people I know that have already pre-ordered the game ready for its slated release on September 17th, and I know even more people that will be picking it up when the time comes around.

However, I am here to ask the question, why does GTAV need to be something special – and more to the point – how can it be that something special that everybody wants and needs it to be. I’ll be looking back at some of Rockstar’s biggest titles so far, and also some of the stiff competition Rockstar is likely to face over the coming months when the title finally lands to define exactly what Rockstar needs to do to make GTAV a surefire winner. Lets begin, shall we?

Rockstar has a reputation to uphold.

When you consider a video game and the success its likely to garner, one of the things most people probably don’t consider is video game companies that have been doing this for quite some time and have their potential reputation on the line. Rockstar have been developing games since 1997, and among their titles have been some of the most successful franchises ever to exist.

Lets consider, then, some of the titles which have been released since the last GTA title – Grand Theft Auto IV – hit shelves, and their potential impact on Rockstar’s reputation:

  • First up, Red Dead Redemption followed Grand Theft Auto IV in 2010. Set in an open world Western environment, Red Dead Redemption borrowed a lot from the way Grand Theft Auto did things, and was surprisingly similar to the game despite having a much different feel to that of GTA. Players took on the role of John Marston, an outlaw who is taken from his family and is forced to search out the remaining members of his old outlaw gang in order to achieve amnesty. The plot was overall a lot more serious than any of GTA’s previous titles, and did extremely well off the back of it, generally garnering 8-9 out of 10 reviews across the board and selling in excess of 10 million copies worldwide. To this day Red Dead Redemption is still stuck firmly in the minds of many people as the best western action-adventure of the 21st century.
  • Realising that many players were more than happy to play as someone rather than the criminal for a change, and following in the successful footsteps of Red Dead Redemption came 2011’s L.A. Noire. Set in the seedy 1947 Los Angeles, L.A. Noire takes GTA and flips it on its head, putting players in the shoes of one Officer Cole Phelps as you progress through the ranks of the law enforcement, generally solving more and more severe crimes. The game introduced several new mechanics to the Rockstar universe that many players enjoyed, such as the interrogation “mini-game” and the use of extensive facial motion capture. Rockstar painted the role of a police officer in an entirely new light, and in doing so captured the hearts of many an avid gamer, myself included. The series went on to be extremely successful as a first-time hit, selling well over 5 million copies worldwide.

The interrogation mechanic was loved by many. (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

  • Finally, and most recently, we have Max Payne 3. Released last year, Max Payne is a long running franchise for Rockstar, but was developed by Remedy Entertainment until MP3, upon which developing duties were handed over to Take-Two Interactive instead. Many feared this would impact severely upon the quality of the game, but the game still achieved impressive ratings across the board and sold over 4 million copies since its release. The game also reintroduced the bullet-time mechanic which was incredibly popular with many fans, as well as a “last stand” mechanic which allows players a chance at second life after they have been downed.

As you can see, Rockstar have carved a considerable mark on the gaming market over the past few years, and while some would argue that this would only benefit the release of GTAV, I would say that in some ways, it may very well hamper it.

Consider, if you will, the level of expectation that is currently sitting on GTAV – Rockstar have, in the past 5 years, released several games which have all hit 90+ ratings and sold in their millions. These games have introduced some incredibly well known mechanics such as L.A. Noire’s facial recognition and interrogation, and Max Payne’s bullet time and last stand. This puts a huge weight on the shoulders of Rockstar and GTAV to pull something similarly new out of the bag to continue to impress – use too much of the same old GTA formula and its going to look like a whole lot of waiting by the fans for a whole lot of “same old, same old” by Rockstar.

I’m not suggesting Rockstar implement facial recognition, interrogations and bullet time into GTAV by the way – I’m just saying they’ve got a lot to live up to when it goes shoulder-to-shoulder with its peers.

Grand Theft Auto needs to be careful it doesn’t become Saints Row: The Third 2.0.

Furthermore, we know that Grand Theft Auto was always a game renowned for being a little over the top and ridiculous in its ways. Since its last release, Volition’s Saints Row has seemingly stolen its crown, and is currently floating down crazy bubblegum river inside a fruit loop – its that far off the chain. While I’ve always been able to appreciate a slant towards humor in video games, I really think that GTAV has to be careful and try to be a more mature game now more than ever. If it verges on being too ridiculous, its only going to look stupid alongside games like Saints Row: The Third which have already done it much better (worse?). As great as flying a helicopter into someone’s grandmother in GTA might be, maybe its time for it to be the potentially more mature game that it needs to be and rise above the silliness.

Finally, competition.

GTAV will certainly have some competition this year. (Source: Thepipe 101 via Creative Commons)

Finally – GTAV has some extremely stiff competition from other long-running franchises. Let us not forget that since the previous GTA game last released, almost every other franchise that’s got a game releasing this year (Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed and Battlefield to name a few) have been continuing on and building a fanbase, while GTA has led relatively dormant. This means that GTAV may well have some catching up to do when it releases in September. GTAV will be, however, the first to release out of all the major titles, but whether this gives it the upper hand when it comes to sales has yet to be seen.

So can GTAV pull it off? Am I just being a massive cynic?

Probably, yes. Grand Theft Auto has never failed to carry its own weight when it comes to game sales, and I don’t see it being a problem for #5 either. The one thing that shows serious sign of promise to me currently is the fact that GTAV is introducing new facilities to ensure that there is some level of variety in its mechanics – for example, being able to switch between characters on the fly will certainly be a first for the Grand Theft Auto universe, and its sure to bring some interesting things to the table.

Regardless of what I’ve stated above, I feel that Grand Theft Auto is such a behemoth at this stage, the only way it could really crash and burn would be to trip itself up – IE, with something drastically wrong. I have faith, however, that Rockstar won’t let its fans down.

Whether or not Grand Theft Auto V will be something special remains to be seen, but its starting to show its potential. As long as it stands shoulder-to-shoulder with its peers and does not get hidden behind them, I have no doubt that Grand Theft Auto V will be the game we all want – and need – it to be.

Thanks for reading this post! If you enjoyed it, remember you can bookmark this blog or follow me direct from a WordPress account. Alternatively, you can follow me on Twitter here for updates.

If you have any comments, post them below or get in touch with me via Twitter.

Milestone: First 1,000 Blog Views and 200 Twitter Followers!

 

This is absolutely mind-blowing for me, somehow, I’ve managed to hit 1,000 blog views and 200 Twitter followers within the same day!

I just thought I’d take a moment to post an article to say thank you to everyone that’s supported me and followed/shared/liked/etc my blog up to this point. To think that two months ago, my blog didn’t even exist, and now I’m here with 1,000 views and just over 200 followers is really quite incredible. I know in comparison to some people, this is just a minor goal, but for me it means that you guys are enjoying what I do, and nothing can really compare to that kind of feeling. All I can say is thank you.

Some statistics:

  • The blog received a total of 200 hits/views in June. This jumped to nearly 800 in July!
  • United Kingdom is my most viewed country of all time, with 595 views. United States comes in second at 227, with Germany taking third at 52.
  • My most views in a day ever is 124 across 24 hours. However, Lenna’s Inception did just shy of that (119) in just 4!
  • Twitter has seen the biggest referrals to my blog, with 213 referrals coming directly through that medium.
  • The blog currently features a total of 21 posts. (22 if you include this one)
  • I have 18 followers on WordPress.
  • Lenna’s Inception has been my most successful article. Despite not even being on my blog for 24 hours as I write this, it has garnered over 75 solo views in that time. My editorial on violence in video games comes second, with 53. My first ever Indie Workshop, my review of 2x0ng, come in 3rd with 52.

So where do we go from here? Well, I have one or two more Indie Workshops planned for the foreseeable future, and some great editorials I think you guys are really going to enjoy. I’m also going to be looking into starting interviews with game developers, where I plan to talk about the games they’re developing and their plans as a company.

I feel all that’s really left to say is thank you again to everyone who helped contribute to this quite frankly amazing milestone. It still blows my mind that 200 people would care about what I do enough to follow my every article, before even considering that five times that amount have viewed my articles. Thank you guys, so much.

Fingers crossed I’ll see you at 2,000.

For now, take care. I’ll see you all soon. I love ya all. ❤

– FA.

Indie Workshop #2: Lenna’s Inception Review

Welcome to the second installment of Indie Workshopwhere I take a look at some of the games of aspiring Indie developers and give them a honest review while also attempting to give them a little exposure.

I truly encourage you all to get involved with the Indie games featured here and check out the developers – they work long and hard to bring you what potentially may be the next generation of video games, so its worth your time supporting them!

This game review is an exclusive, and has never been reviewed before. I hope you enjoy!

An Adventure to Call Your Own – A Lenna’s Inception Review

intro-lenna

While playing Lenna’s Inception in preparation for this review, I stated to a friend of mine that, had I been playing this game without the prior knowledge of the developer being an Indie, I would’ve never thought anything different – it plays like a major developer’s creation despite still being relatively early in it’s development. I think it says a vast amount about Lenna’s Inception and its developer, Tom Coxon, that a game can come across so professionally done when it is the Indie development of just one person.

Lenna’s Inception is an Indie RPG adventure by aforementioned developer Tom Coxon. It is not Coxon’s first foray into the world of development, but is slated as his first “commercial Indie release” (Coxon previously released an app called  xkcdViewer on Google Play, which has now hit over 200,000 total installs). The game itself begins as you, the player, takes on the role of Lenna as she searches for a number of various artifacts to save the world from its impending doom. The Prince has been captured, and the Chosen One has been overthrown, leaving average joe Lenna to collect the artifacts necessary to send the evil back to where it once came from.

If this sounds somewhat familiar, that’s because it follows a very similar plot and design curve to another very famous game of the same style – The Legend of Zelda. When I first begun playing Lenna’s Inception, in fact, I could not help but notice the similarities between it and Link’s infamous journey through the land of Hyrule. There’s a lot of influence here and its apparent, but I want to make a clear definition between Lenna’s Inception and the adventures of our little hero in green; firstly, and one of the main things that also makes Lenna’s Inception such a blast to play, is its procedural generation – every play-through of Lenna’s Inception is randomised, and you begin in a different area each time you play, meaning you never know what’s going to be around the corner the next time you load it up.

Adding to this intense randomisation is the ability to add perma-death to your play-through. When you die normally in Lenna’s Inception, the game will offer to restart you at the beginning of the dungeon, albeit with your map still filled out as it would be had you never died. With perma-death on however, every play-through is a one-shot deal; die and you start the entire thing again. Its a nice little feature that adds some replay-ability, as you never know where you’re going to end up or what challenges you’ll face that may cut your run drastically short.

lenna-skeleton

The game has this lovely pixel-y design that brings back an instant rush of nostalgia.

There is a slight drawback to the randomised design of Lenna’s Inception, and that is the variation in its difficulty. Its nothing that really takes away from the game too drastically, and once you get your feet wet everything becomes evident, but my first play-through saw my life rather short-lived as a group of gelatinous fiends cut me down rather swiftly. On my second play-through, things went much smoother and I managed to get to grips with how things worked before I encountered any real challenge. Its not a major defect, but its something worth considering as some gamers may be thrown off by a slight variation in the difficulty level. Call me picky, but I just wish there was some sort of “non-randomised” area at the beginning to serve as a tutorial and allow users to find their feet before they were thrown into Lenna’s Inception proper.

That having been said, Lenna’s Inception does feature both an extensive document (think of it as an instruction manual, if you will) as well as tutorial pages throughout the game that help newer users get used to how the game is played. Lenna even carries a manual in her inventory that can be referred back to at any time for almost all of the game’s items and actions should you need them. Its a small detail but its very helpful if you forget how a certain function is supposed to work and its that little extra attention to what a player might need that stand out in an Indie title.

instructionscreen-lenna

The tutorials are sufficient to help you around Lenna’s world.

One thing I have to admire about Lenna’s Inception is its variation. Throughout the game you will encounter puzzles or certain areas which require you to use specific items which you have gathered to solve. It allows the player to step away from the adventure/combat side of things temporarily and use their brains in order to proceed. Not only that, but the quirkiness of the game is quite something. Sure, you have your typical, “to-be-expected” items that you find in almost every game of this type such as a bow or bombs, but how often does the jump function come in the form of a spring? Found a fire spell in order to cast fireballs? Too typical. In Lenna’s Inception, you’re going to be using Prometheus’ lighter instead. Did I mention one of the bosses – affectionately named Cuddles – is also a giant kitten? Oh yeah. Around every corner is something weird and wonderful, and finding them is half the fun.

Oh yes. There will be chickens.

Oh yes. There will be chickens.

The soundtrack is nice and suits the style of the game well, too. Its pretty simplistic right now, mainly consisting of a singular track that plays throughout your dungeon treks, with a separate tune for the boss fights. Tom has informed me that there are plans to further improve the soundtrack, but for now it does the job just fine (and I can’t stop humming the main theme to myself). There are options to turn off music (F5) or sounds (F6) if one so wishes, too. Again, attention to detail pays dividends.

I feel at this stage I should state two things – one; this game was created by just one person, similarly to my previously reviewed 2x0ng. This is one heck of a game that is bug-free and entirely playable from start to finish, and its all the work of just one guy. Second – the game is still being worked upon and will feature even more content when its finished. RPG elements and a greater expansion on the story, along with an over-world and stores for Lenna to make use of the coins you collect throughout the game are just some of the plans Coxon has for the game, and its looking to be pretty damn incredible already. Despite the fact its not finished, I still had a blast playing it and that’s a testament to Coxon – making a game playable and enjoyable to the last minute when its not even complete is one hell of a task, but he pulls it off with aplomb.

They say variety is the spice of life, and Lenna’s Inception has it by the bucket-load.

Lenna’s Inception wears its influences on its sleeve, but does it with such charm and grace that it feels more like a homage than a rip-off. It is a game in it’s own right though, and does what it does excellently. I have to give credit to a developer who can make me think of one of the biggest and most well-known franchises in the world with a game that isn’t even fully complete yet, and further still suck me in so much I couldn’t stop until I’d watched the credits roll.

Sure, Lenna’s Inception isn’t finished just yet, and there are particular areas (such as the soundtrack and story) which could use some polish – but that is something which comes with time, not due to any lack of care by the developer. In a year or two’s time I plan to play Lenna’s Inception again, because I know I’ll probably love it then twice as much as I love it already, and that’s saying something.

Lenna’s Inception has the potential to be something much greater than the sum of its current parts – and I’m excited for it. Its not very often I play an Indie game so early in development as this and have more fun than I’ve had with some “major releases” I’ve played recently, but Lenna’s Inception got me. Somewhere between the kitten battle and the war of the chickens, it got me.

And I love it. I absolutely love it.

Title of Indie Game: Lenna’s Inception.
Most appealing quality?: Right now, the sheer humor the game possesses. The potential is vast too, I can’t wait to see where this is going.
Most disappointing quality?: I would’ve liked a little more story, but that’s something that comes with time and, currently, doesn’t detract too much from the overall game as it is right now.
How much did I play?: I played two playthroughs, one was very short-lived – I finished the entire game and saw the credits roll on my second.
How much does it cost?: Lenna’s Inception is currently completely free.
Where can I find it?: Lenna’s Inception can be downloaded directly from Coxon’s website.

Lenna’s Inception is an RPG adventure game created by Tom Coxon, available now on Windows, Linux and Mac. You can follow Tom and his progress on Lenna’s Inception and all his other projects via his Twitter. You can also find Lenna’s Inception and all his other projects via his website.

All reviewing content, including images, is used with consent of the developer.

Thanks for reading this post! If you enjoyed it, remember you can bookmark this blog or follow me direct from a WordPress account. Alternatively, you can follow me on Twitter here for updates.

If you have any comments, post them below or get in touch with me via Twitter.

The Generation Game: A Rogue Legacy Review

— This is a spoiler FREE review. Only characters are mentioned. 

For generations, my lineage has battled that monstrosity – the castle defeated each and every one of them, leaving their descendants – their children – to take up the blade in their place. Nobody could understand where it’s strength had grown from, only that it was inhabited by beasts of terrible and ancient power. Now, I have slain those four presiding creatures; I – the 95th warrior in a long line to be tossed willingly into the fray. I stand before great golden doors, which no doubt seal away the most unimaginable evil of them all – but I must not fail. Thousands of years of training and experience, handed down throughout my family, have trained me for this. I shall not fall. This… This shall be my Rogue Legacy.

It stands as testament to how well built and truly engrossing a game is when you find it difficult to tear yourself away from it long enough to write a review that, honestly, probably won’t do it enough justice. Such is my feeling for Rogue Legacy, the latest game from Cellar Door Games, a self-declared roguelite action platformer – a game that, for the past few days, I’ve been struggling to find words to describe.

For those of you unfamiliar with the roguelite tag, it is derived from the term “roguelike”. Roguelike commonly features aspects such as level randomization and permanent death – a good example would be another game I reviewed recently, Don’t Starve. Roguelites, on the other hand, differ in that they do not feature permanent death in the same manner, but rather only a temporary death or some form of “other” life. Rogue Legacy tackles this issue by allowing you to be “reborn” as the descendant of the last character you played as. You may inherit some of the traits of your parent, but your progression throughout the randomised castle is lost – you retain only your gold which you can use to purchase gear and upgrades which consequently stick with each of your characters as they die and get picked up again as their son or daughter. Its a delightful mechanic that means you never really “die”, you simply shift perspective.

The story of Rogue Legacy is somewhat built around this mechanic, too. You begin the game (and play the tutorial) as a knight. The knight visits the castle in hopes of finding a legendary cure buried deep within that can save the king of the land from a fatal wound that will eventually kill him. Although you see very little of this knights’ story after the initial first few minutes (and to avoid spoilers I’ve cut most of it out), you discover a total of 25 journals scattered throughout the castle randomly that tell of the horrors and battles the knight faced in order to find the secret and come face to face with the truth. It is a truth that you, after besting the game’s four area bosses, will have to come to terms with too. Its an excellent line of narrative too – there only for those who care, but deep enough to drag you in if you do.

One of the many journals that narrate the game throughout.

The base concept of Rogue Legacy is very simple, and – I feel – can be described in four words;

  • Try
  • Die
  • Buy
  • Repeat

You see, Rogue Legacy isn’t a game that you can simply run head first into, slaying all four of the bosses immediately, and claiming your victory after two hours of playing. In fact, any of the four bosses are quite likely to massacre you at first – and you will die. Oh, you’ll die over and over. But death, as stated above, is not the end of your lineage. The gold you’ve earned carries over, used to develop a slightly stronger character, with whom you can tackle the castle again. It slowly drags you in; every single time you leave the castle with 1,000 more gold than before, or manage to get that piece of equipment you’ve been hunting forever, you get dragged deeper – because Rogue Legacy might not be a game you can win in a few hours, but its also a game you can’t put down either.

Each character you play with has their own class, magic spell and trait(s), which can lead to quite the humorous experience if you wind up with specific mixes. For example, a mage who has daggers as their spell but is Ambilevous will cast their spells backwards, making them effectively twice as difficult to land. A barbarian – characters that deal lesser damage but have vast HP stores – may wind up with Dextrocardia, which means their HP and MP bars are switched. All of a sudden, you’re a barbarian with 200HP, but with a mana pool bigger than most mages. Or perhaps you’ll draw the short straw, and simply wind up playing the game upside down, or in black and white? Some traits are beneficial, some are detrimental, and some are just plan whacky – but half the fun is trying to overcome these traits in order to amass the most gold possible every single run.

An extensive upgrade tree ensures incredible replay-ability – and there’s even a little surprise for those who reach the top of the castle…

Its because of this whacky variation in traits and classes that Rogue Legacy never quite feels like the same game each time you play it. I may jump on and play a game as a trusty Paladin with no bad traits or defects – sturdy, reliable, and always ready for a long castle run – and wind up hitting 40-50,000 gold in a singular run, but then the next game get stuck with a mage who has Dwarfism and Alzheimer’s (which removes the map completely) and die in the second room because of a particularly brutal mob of monsters. This variation really helps to pump some great life into the game – if you feel like changing it up, just pick a class you don’t normally play (out of a choice of three random classes when you die) and see how far you can get before the castle overwhelms you.

While we’re on the topic of enemies – they vary vastly in appearance, size and lethality. You may find you slay the mighty Grey Knights with no trouble whatsoever, but just when you think you’re safe to plunder another room with just 100HP, that picture you thought was simply hanging there harmlessly will spin around and kill you in one hit, ending your spree. Here-in lies my one grumble with the game, too – some of the enemies are capable of shooting a stream of projectiles your way, and on later difficulties and stages, the game changes from an action-platformer into a bullet-hell from room to room. I’ve been in areas where I’m struggling to just find a gap between the hail of projectiles being fired at me from every angle – it certainly adds some strategy to the game as you have to think about which enemies you eliminate first, or which character’s capabilities might best suit certain challenges you face, but it can get a little grating when every room presents you with a swift smack in the face from varying projectiles.

Uh yeah… Your guess is as good as mine as to what’s going on here.

So you may glance at the picture above and think “How on earth can you enjoy this, Fully Avenged?!” – well, I’m not a sadist, that’s for sure, but I can tell you there’s something incredibly satisfying about clearing your way through most of the dungeon, getting that boss down to 25% of his health, only to watch your character crash and burn, the blade of his sword buried in the earth before you and the villainous boss laughing as you die, only to pass on your worldly belongings to your descendant. Why? Because you know if you’d just had that one more strength upgrade, or that one better piece of armor, you probably could’ve cracked it – you would have defeated him. That’s the thought which drives Rogue Legacy home, and as simple as it may seem, its kept me hooked for well over 20 hours of game-play.

So you spend 10 hours working your way through the four bosses, you thwart them and move on to the final boss. You annihilate him, and watch the credits roll before seeing the end-screen telling you how many children you lost in your crusade and how long it took you. Game over, right?

Wrong.

Rogue Legacy introduces New Game+, which introduces several new gameplay elements which drag you right back in again. For one, you can find those higher, more sought-after pieces of armor that you’ve been looking for, and you’re going to want them, because the difficulty of the game gets bumped up every single time you complete a New Game+. Yup, they keep stacking. You also get a % increase called Bounty on how much gold you earn, which increases every-time you complete a New Game+, allowing you to continue upgrading and competing with the increasingly difficult game. I’m sitting at New Game++ right now, and I cannot wait to continue onward until I eventually hit the cap.

Every time you think Rogue Legacy is about to slip up and release its grasp on you, it shows you a new piece of gear, just across that enemy littered hallway, or a fairy chest which typically contains shiny new runes to improve your character even further. “You want it. You know you want it”, it will whisper, and you will answer, because hording and gathering becomes like crack in this game, and its the only way you’re going to nail those bosses time and again. Let yourself slack for five minutes; let yourself get comfortable, and think you’ve finally worked out how to beat the enemies and speed-run it, and the game will swallow you whole. You will die, you will learn, you will adapt. Such is the way of Rogue Legacy – but it does it so well you can’t help but go back time and again for more.

My final statistics for my first play-through of Rogue Legacy.

It took me 95 characters; 95 playthroughs before I cracked it, and god knows I can’t wait to get back to it for more. There are still classes I’ve barely scratched the surface of, and I know that Rogue Legacy will rise to challenge me time and time again, presenting me with new challenges, bosses that are stronger than ever before, and a castle that will destroy me at every corner given half the chance.

When it boils down to it, though, my story at the start of this article is just one of potentially millions. I spent most of my play-through as the barbarian and hokage classes, but I could just as easily of been a mage, or an assassin, or a lich. All of these options are available, its just up to you to find which one does it for you.

After all, this isn’t an adventure into the unknown; this is a journey you will fight with countless ancestors behind you, until you finally slay that final boss in the name of every character that’s came before and failed. This is much more than just a fight to the end.

This is your Rogue Legacy.

Should I play this title?: Yes. Rogue Legacy is addictive, charming and timeless in the best possible way.
Most appealing quality?: The way it constantly drags you back in. I haven’t been able to put it down since I started.
My personal rating: 10/10. Some occasionally irritating bullet-hell-esque rooms are not enough to drag this gem down. Flawless.
Price at time of writing: You can pick Rogue Legacy up from Steam for £11.99/$18.38. Alternatively, you can pick it up direct from the developer’s website for £9.78/$15. UK citizens should be aware that banks may charge additional fees if American/Dollar transitions are made through their bank accounts.

Rogue Legacy is a roguelite action platformer by Cellar Door Games, available now for PC.

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The Steam Sale is Finally Over! – Quick Update from Me

Well, the Steam Summer Sale is finally over for another year, and I just thought I’d take this occasion to let you guys know what I’ve been up to. First of all, I hope you all had a great sale and nabbed yourself some great games – I’ve certainly picked myself up quite a few, and I think the way its currently looking, I’ll be set until the Christmas sales!

Now that I’ve managed to fill my library out some more, I’m hoping to bring you guys all sorts of new, exciting content over the coming weeks. I want things to be fresh and interesting for all of you reading, so its difficult for me to define what’s worth talking about and what isn’t (which coincidentally is also why I really appreciate your feedback via the comments and Twitter), but I’ve played a few new games that I’m really excited to do some dicussion/review on, and I’m hoping you guys will enjoy it as much as I enjoy bringing it to you.

I’m currently playing through a few of the games I nabbed on sale, as I dislike going into reviews/editorials/other pieces without fully knowing what I’m talking about, but you can expect an article from me in the very near future. I’ve also been talking to a few Indie developers, and I’ve got some really exciting stuff going on right now, so I’m really hoping I can bring you more content from the Indie Workshop soon!

In the mean-time, some of you guys have been hitting me up on Twitter and letting me know what sorts of games you have been getting hold of and playing during this most exciting time of the year. I’d love to hear more from you guys about what you’ve been enjoying, and I’m always up for a chat, so feel free to drop me a tweet or comment. I look forward to hearing from you!

Thanks for reading this post! If you enjoyed it, remember you can bookmark this blog or follow me direct from a WordPress account. Alternatively, you can follow me on Twitter here for updates.

If you have any comments, post them below or get in touch with me via Twitter.

Update From Me – A WIP Header/Banner

EDIT – Feel I should mention, for the person that helped me created this, he is also a TL;DR type of guy, so I am keeping this post shortened dramatically just for him. I hope you enjoy Jim, thanks so much for your help!

Hey guys, a very, very quick update from me.

A good friend of mine has been working extremely hard with me to try and create a banner that we can begin to build upon. Currently, the banner we have is something I’m extremely happy with, and if we can’t find something we like more (working with effects and other things currently) then it shall remain my banner as it is excellent. However, we’re still panning out ideas so – for now, at least – this is still a WIP (work in progress).

I’d just like to take a moment to thank James (said friend above who’s helped me with all this). He doesn’t use Twitter and I’d rather not post his second name/Facebook, but without him this wouldn’t be possible, so a huge thanks to him.

If we don’t make anymore changes, this shall indeed be my header going forward. Your opinions are very much appreciated. As always, its one more step towards making this blog that much more visually appealing and something that (hopefully) everyone can appreciate.

Until next time everyone,

– FA.