Game Review – 80 Days

80 DAYS – AN INTERNATIONAL JOURNEY INTO A STEAMPUNK 19th CENTURY –

As one might suspect, the name 80 Days is a reference to the famous Jules Verne adventure novel Around the World in Eighty Days. In this game You will do just that, try to circumnavigate the globe, beat your deadline, settle a bet, and defend your honor as a gentleman!

This game is a beautiful combination of the original vision of a world dominated by British colonialism and connected by modern technology, and a brilliant imagining of a 1800’s vision of the future. like all good and subtle science fiction, the main focus of the game is not on the tech, but rather it adds to the rich environment of the game, making the story even more unique and interesting.

Story & Setting – A Pocket Watch, Earl Grey, Airships, and Automatons.  The actual story is at times fairly similar to that of the original story, but with several clever differences. Since you can essentially choose most of the places you go and how your characters proceed,  the story can be different and new through many playthroughs. Since the original setting has been altered, the world you will circumnavigate has both recognizable countries and cities, but it will also features many factions, governments,  and a history that is new and imaginative.

Gameplay – 1000’s of possible routes woven into a single story. The strength of this game is undoubtedly in the story. In many ways, though you have a goal that you can succeed or fail at,  80 Days is in many ways, a collection of short stories about a single pair of adventurers as they travel the world. All the odd characters and small adventures that you and your master Phileas Fogg encounter build into a single story that will conclude with the success or failure to meet your deadline. Since the game is mainly a text adventure the decisions you make are primarily between several choices provided to react to each situation that you are confronted with. You are provided with a globe to plan and reflect on your journey, and in markets you can pick items to buy or sell. The point of the gameplay that I found to be the weakest was probably that you have to do a lot of micro managing with finances to keep yourself well funded, which I did not find to be particularly interesting. Since most items are only for the purpose of selling in a different city, I felt that they served a fairly one dimensional role.

Difficulty – 80 days is a challenging deadline. I personally found it difficult to make it back to London in the allotted time. Because every train, car, and airship has it’s price, you need to make sure that you have enough money to travel. You are allotted a limited amount of money to travel with, and if you want more you must sacrifice time by waiting at a bank at least a full day. This adds a challenge which is good, though I still felt at times that funds could have been a more diverse and dynamic part of the game. The game itself is not hard to play or even to enjoy, but to complete your goal of 80 days you will have to plan carefully and react to unexpected difficulties cleverly. 80 Days is a game that is probably better suited for those who like good art in any form but who do not consider themselves a “gamer”, and is also appealing to a variety of ages. I would recommend it to anyone who loves reading fiction.

This game is one of my favorite mobile games. I personally had a great time with it and am sure I have not played through it for the last time, ( I sill haven’t explored East Africa or Russia).  Also being someone who has read the original I can say I feel though it takes many liberties in it’s interpretation, Inkle did a wonderful job of preserving the feeling and nostalgia of the Verne classic, which also creating something greatly original. Though I have some minor complaints about the game mechanics (primarily those related to items and funds)  80 Days is a wonderful adventure and a clever game that I would highly recommend! It is available on the App store, Google Play, and Amazon Apps.

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Game Review – Hydora

– A NEW ODYSSEY FOR CLASSIC SHMUPS PLAYERS –

Hydora is a game that I stumbled across in the archives of my favorite game blog, Indiegames.com. Hydora was made by Locomalito, a game company that has made several other interesting and creative games of varying genre and styles. The group  produces a lot of cool merchandise in addition to bringing interesting and innovative retro-style games into today’s modern world. Although you can purchase the merch and disks of the games with covers, you can also download this specific game directly from their website, completely free.

Hydora is a side-scrolling shooter game that is sort of a mix between an 80’s style arcade game and a modern art project. The game holds more complexity and individuality than that of a true arcade game, yet still holds to simple game play and basic upgrades such as a simple primary and secondary weapon. (you pick your first and second weapon before each level), all with in game-play power-ups. I got the game because I was looking for a good game to play when I needed a break from stress, and I love old scrolling shooter games.  The thing that really got my attention about this one was the excellence in pixel art. I love the practical and aesthetic value of the level design and am surprised this game is not more well known, as it is truly excellent.

Hydorah-Temple-of-Dunarys

Story/Setting – An old favorite with a new style. The setting of the game starts in a very simple and traditional space-shooter setting that feels natural and fitting. But as you continue playing the setting quickly becomes more interesting and rapidly deviates from player expectations. There are no “worlds” or chunks of levels with single themes, but rather every level spills into the next and features a very unique and strong theme, often with completely original enemies and environmental hazards. The setting is as skillful re-imagining of a familiar style and genre.

Hydora-1st-Boss

Gameplay – If it ain’t broke…  The gamplay it’s-self could be described as simple and solid. Though much of the game is very original, the game play is actually completely traditional for a scrolling shooter; movement, guns, and a super bomb type weapon you collect in the level. One innovation to this traditional method was that you collect a new weapon (either primary, secondary, or super bomb) after every level, and select your choice a the beginning of each stage. This was clever and interesting, and though not hugely necessary, it was fun. The weapon selection and gameplay works well as a solid foundation for the rest of the game to be built on.

Hydora-gas-planet

Difficulty – 80’s style arcade brutality. As a part of the game’s self-described 80’s arcade roots, it can be sincerely difficult. unless you have a shield, which is very hard to obtain, a single hit from anything will kill you, (and even then, 2 hits kills you). Every death will also rob you of some gun power and movement speed you will have to struggle to earn back. This is fun, but at times can also be frustrating.

Overall, Hydora is one of my favorites. For a retro style shooter I would give it a 9/10. It’s not super long, but it’s high difficulty will keep you battling to finish this beautifully created modern space adventure. Everyone interested in indie games should give this one a try, and being that it is free to download, there is nothing stopping you from engaging in this bizarre galactic struggle. Suit up and join the fight to save the human race, you’ll be glad you did!

For more cool Hydora stuff, click here!

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Game Review – Monument Valley

– AN ILLUSORY ADVENTURE OF
IMPOSSIBLE ARCHITECTURE AND FORGIVENESS –

Monument Valley is more than a game, it is Art. It is both abstract, as well as purposeful, it is relaxing and thought provoking, narrative and emotion, symbolic and literal, curiously real and simply impossible.

To truly experience the creative power of this game, you really just need to play through it for yourself. (If you can’t tell, I’m a huge fan). You need to get a cup of coffee, ice cream, or popcorn, (or one of each), put on your noise canceling headphones, and immerse yourself in the subtle and inviting world of Monument Valley.

Story/Setting – Subtle and unexpected. Though the game a puzzle game first, you will begin to see that themes and motifs related to the characters in the game will start to form a quiet but enchanting narrative. You do not need to know this storyline to play the game (storyline is even possibly too strong or conventional a word to describe), and all the levels can be played again individually and independently of the others. The setting it amazing and every level looks great.

Gameplay – Simplistic, but Inventive. The basic controls are intuitive and interactive; you simply tap where you want your character (Ida) to go. You can also drag, spin, and slide interactive objects in the world to solve puzzles. While there are obstacles and difficulties, the game features no direct conflict or fighting, which suits it quite well actually. Everything you interact with either builds or dismantles the world around you to help you reach your goals, which also adds to the immersive geometric setting of MV.

Difficulty – casual, while occasionally puzzling. I felt that the first collection of levels to be released were generally easy with a couple mind stretching moments. I felt I got through all the levels relatively quickly. The only real trouble for me was the last 2 levels, and very specifically, the final stage will give you some grief. But if your experience is like mine, by this time you love the game and are determined to play through to it’s conclusion. It seems that most people say they finished the original 10 levels in about 2 hours or so. (Also USTWO has since MV’s original release developed a second series of levels under the title Forgotten Shores, which I will explore in a future game review.)

Monument Valley is available on IOS, Android, and Kindle Fire. It’s something like $4, and I would say it is well worth it’s price. The game is beautiful to watch and it sounds great too.

Plus, here is a link to some great fan art the people are making from Monument Valley, most of it makes way more sense after you play through the game first. Enjoy!

http://monumentfriends.tumblr.com/

– Jacob Tillson

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