Stuff Happens is a simple enough card game that we picked up on a whim while on a weekend getaway with a friend. It took us months to eventually play it, but we had a great time with our friends when we did so!
Honestly, I thought Stuff Happens was kind of like Cards Against Humanities. It’s not at all like that and when we read the directions I wondered how fun it would be. It turned out to be a lot more fun than I thought. You need to have a good, decent-sized group to play with, though.
There is a giant stack of cards that all have unfortunate incidents and circumstances described on them, ranging from “going bald” to “getting a nail stuck in your foot” and plenty of other scenarios. Each card has a rank depending on where it lies on the Misery Index, courtesy of the creators of the game. Each person starts with a random set of three of these cards to start the game off, creating their beginning range of the index.
Then you take turns picking up a card from the draw pile. When it’s your turn to pick up a card, you don’t say where it lies on the Misery Index, but just say what it is. For example, bleach in your eye. (Yes, I believe that’s actually one of the cards.) The person to your left then needs to guess where it lies on their timeline. If they have cards that lie on the index between 7 and 10 and they guess the card in question is either an 8 or 9, they point to where they think it lies. So, you’re not necessarily guessing the number, but gauging where it could be based on what you already have.
If you’re correct, you get to keep the card. If you’re incorrect, it goes to the next person to guess. If no one guesses correctly before the round returns to the person who read the card, then the the card i discarded. The first person who has ten cards wins. It’s a fun game, one that keeps everyone guessing, even if we didn’t always agree with the misery index that came with the game. For example, according to the game, your favorite local team relocating is somehow worse than falling into a septic tank.
If you guess correctly and get to keep the card, then you place it in your timeline where it belongs. This actually gets harder the more cards you collect. If you have a card that rank 1.5 and the card next to it is 1.7 then it’s hard to guess which card might land in the 1.6 spot. The wider the range, the more likely you’ll be correct.
There were definitely cards that are difficult to place regardless of what range you have in front of you. An interesting twist to this game may be for the drawer to determine where the card would end up on their personal “misery index” rather than the game’s list, and then for others to guess correctly. Either way, it’s a great game to play with a good group of friends.
It’s a much better game than I originally thought it would be. It’s fun to play with the right group of people and you certainly need a good-sized group. This wouldn’t be as intense with three people or so. When we played there were five of us and that was a good size. If you haven’t tried this game, put it on the list. You’ll be surprised at the fun you can have with it.
Stuff Happens gets a rating of… Skip It | Try It | Buy It
Have you played this game? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below!
Title: Fire Emblem: Three Houses Developer: Intelligent Systems, Koei Tecmo Games Publisher: Nintendo
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Category: Tactical role-playing
Release Date: July 26, 2019
How we got the game: Bought it on Nintendo Switch
Pssst…. There may be story or gameplay spoilers in this review! You’ve been warned!
I’ve finally finished my first playthrough of Three Houses, and I’ve got almost nothing but praise for it! I’ll admit, I was only tentatively optimistic about this game, but the more I played, the more I fell in love with it.
Traditional Fire Emblem games give the player a main protagonist or two, maybe a handful of characters to start leveling up into some semblance of an army, and a reason for said protagonist(s) to start throwing themselves into turn-based battles with weapon triangles. Along the way, a deeper story will develop while introducing new characters to recruit for your army, characters that you can usually choose to include and level up both for fighting and for relationships with other characters. Fire Emblem Three Houses is not that traditional. True, the game begins with a tutorial-like battle and introduces who are arguably the most important characters to the game. Yet, after the battle, the protagonist is whisked to Garreg Mach Monastery and hired as a professor for a class of students. With this, the player is put in a position to already pick their main army to teach and grow, as well as the students in the other classes that can potentially join the player’s class — and, later, army — under the right circumstances. With this, the player already knows the majority of the key characters in the story instead of being fed them at certain intervals of the game. While it can be overwhelming to face so many characters and trying to learn everyone’s potential, I enjoyed seeing how everyone interacted with each other within the monastery. Speaking of the monastery, that is where Three Houses stands apart from traditional Fire Emblem games. Instead of the game going from story cutscene to battles, battles happen at the end of the game’s month, with the weeks leading up to said battle containing activities to advance your units’ skills and supports with one another. Exploring the monastery allows you to freely maneuver around Garreg Mach Monastery, which is mostly used to speak to all the characters, maybe fish or sing in the church’s choir, and generally increase supports between everyone. The higher the support between two characters, the more benefits the pair receive in battle when fighting close to one another. There are also, of course, paired endings after the game that depend on the support conversations. Finding out more about the characters’ history and the game’s lore from the exploration option was one of my favorite activities in the game. Aside from exploration, one can also have a character host a seminar to increase skills of the students who attend the lecture as well as have rest days to increase the characters’ motivation for learning. There is also an option for battles, small paralogues or skirmishes to help level up the characters for the bigger, story-orientated battle at the end of the month. Visiting the Marketplace for weapons, items, battalions, and the blacksmith is also available at the beginning of each week, as well as the option to have a character take a certification test to change class. If a character passes the test, they will be able to reclass at the beginning of battles to any class they have passed. The meat of the game is, of course, the grid-lined, turn-based battles. You’ll have your army of students (which sounds really weird, in all honesty, as it reminds me of the Hunger Games) make their move toward their opponents with medieval weapons and magic — swords, lances, bows and arrows, axes, energy-sucking “Reason” magic, the usual. Once all of your characters move, it’ll be the opponent’s turn to move to whatever grid square they can reach to attack yours. Each battle has a win and lose condition, and you can earn gold, special items, and story-advancing narrative for winning. In the majority of Fire Emblem games, characters can advance classes in usually linear fashion. An archer can class up to a sniper, and a cleric and class up to a holy knight, for example. In Three Houses, as long as their skills in certain weaponry are high enough, characters can take a certification test and reclass into several other options. These classes can then be switched freely at the start of battles, so if there is a map where you need more flying units than cavalry, Three Houses gives you a means to teach your students how to tame a pegasus or wyvern. It was a nifty mechanic, even if I found myself not using it as much as I probably should have. Aside from changing classes, characters can also hone their authority skill and have a battalion at their back during battles. These allow you to do gambits or bigger attacks with certified, nameless soldiers, generally to induce status ailments. Different battalions perform different actions, such as one that does healing magic on all allies for a certain number of spaces, or another that sets everything aflame. Admittedly, I half forgot about the battalions for the majority of the battles, focusing instead on my units attacking. Still, if used right, the battalions will be crucial for many unique strategies in the battles.
Weapon durability is back, which also lends a hand to the strategies you’ll need to come up with during battles, especially with some unique, story-based, one-of-a-kind weapons that are called Hero’s Relics. Only those with Crests, special sigils that are passed down throughout family lines, are able to wield the Hero’s Relics. Crests themselves are important in the setting’s history and politics, and the mystery of the main protagonist’s Crest is an important plot point in the game.
The graphics of the game were well done, but nothing spectacular. I was pleased with the videos and cut scenes, finding the animation smooth, but the few animations for the character models did feel a little stilted and limited. Still, the character designs were mostly on point and I enjoyed the majority of the battle maps. As for the music, I totally want this soundtrack. I’ve always loved the majority of the Fire Emblem games’ music, but Three Houses is probably one of my favorites!
The story begins with Byleth, who was a mercenary along with their father Jeralt, waking up and speaking to a green-haired young woman — girl-like in appearance — named Sothis. The pair appear to be in some sort of temple or ruins, with Sothis lounging on a throne and attempting to make sense of her hazy memories. Sothis’s consciousness is tied with Byleth’s, and the scene shifts to the waking world after the brief introductions. Byleth and their father are about to leave their current village when three students ask for their aid in defeating a group of bandits. The students are from Garreg Mach Monastery, each the respective heir to their countries on the continent of Fodlan. After successfully beating back the bandits, Byleth and their father escort the students — Edelgard, Dimitri, and Claude — back to the monastery where they meet with Archbishop Rhea of the Church of Serios. Before Byleth knows what is happening, Jeralt rejoins the Knights of Serios and Byleth becomes the professor of a class of students. The Black Eagles led by Edelgard, the Blue Lions led by Dimitri, and the Golden Deer led by Claude are filled with unique students coming from various backgrounds. Byleth takes command of one of the classes and the story really begins. Played in two parts, part one is “pre-timeskip” wherein Byleth spends much of their time getting to know their students and aiding them in battles to better themselves for their respective countries and goals. While doing so, sinister plots are revealed as the months pass, with the archbishop and the Church of Serios being challenged by enemies — even some who were once called allies. During one such climactic battle, Byleth falls into a canyon and does not awaken until five years later. Part two is this “post-timeskip,” and Byleth finds themselves in a war-torn Fodlan. Reuniting with their former students, Byleth helps to figure out not only an end to the war but also about their past. Granted, this is a vague description of the story, mostly because I’ve only gone through the Golden Deer route. The other routes will most likely determine which side of the war Byleth is on and how they find out who they really are.
I’ve already started my next route. Considering there are two more houses, one that has at least two routes, and a New Game+ DLC coming out, there is plenty to do in this game after a first runthrough. Even if there was only one route, the multiple difficulty levels, plethora of characters to build your army however you want, and multiple support conversations to unlock, there is plenty to do to warrant another playthrough.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses gets…
5 out of 5 lives.
Have you played this game? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!
Title: Sid Meier’s Civilization VI Developer: Firaxis Games Publisher: 2K Games
Platform: PC, iOS, Nintendo Switch
Category: Turn-based strategy
Release Date: October 2016 (PC), December 2017 (iOS), November 2018 (Nintendo Switch)
How we got the game: Bought it for the Nintendo Switch
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this game. I heard it was a simulation game, perhaps something similar to SimCity and the like but with an empire angle instead, which is what caused me to pick it up. I’m brand new to the Civilization series and, so far, it’s been an interesting ride.
Being a turn-based strategy game, Civilization VI gives the player the task of dominating the planet through military, technology, or culture might.
Each turn allows players to found cities under their chosen world leader. The player then cultivates and grows their empire with their citizens, making them into settlers to found new cites, scouts to explore the world, builders to craft different districts for the cities, warriors to defend the empire, and plenty more. Technology and culture trees allow your citizens to advance further in the periods of development as the world evolves around them.
The buttons aren’t too difficult to learn, but I did find myself accidentally ending my turn once in a while when I was first learning to play. During your turn, you choose everything, from what your city is currently developing to how far any citizens outside of the city are moving, from scouts to warriors. You can also communicate with the other world leaders and, depending on your friendship level, may be able to make deals or trades with them.
Or go to war. That’s a thing.
Mainly the buttons are the main A button or using the analog stick to move your citizens to where they need to go along the world map. Decisions on what your cities should develop tech- and culture-wise, as well as the number of turns they take, all need to be considered when plotting your path to world domination. It’s a lot of strategy and gives a great challenge.
I was impressed with the graphics of this game, both with the scenery and the models of the character avatars. It was a clean, crisp looking game, especially when one considers all of the different eras that a game goes through. The world map was beautiful, making it enjoyable for me to send out scouts — with their adorable dogs — to all corners of the world to see what they had in store.
The music itself wasn’t as memorable, however. Rather, it was soft, no doubt allowing players to concentrate on making the best decisions they could for their citizens during their turn. The music and sound effects were subtle, which was appreciated. The voice acting for the avatars weren’t too bad at all, though. I was impressed at the voice acting for the most part.
There does not seem to be one specific story line that this game follows. Rather, there are over a dozen historical world leaders that you can use as your avatar for your play through. With your leader, your task is to dominate the world throughout several eras of development while competing against other human or computer controlled leaders.
The story goes depending on how well you play. Want to go through the story and win with the mightiest army? You can do that. How about being the pinnacle of technology or culture? Sure. Navigating through the world and determining how you want to win depends on your actions as well as your reactions to the other players. Rival leaders may have special conditions and their A.I. may reflect some behavior that their real counterparts may have exhibited while ruling.
Replayability is this game’s middle name. With several leaders to choose from as well as multiple ways to run your empire and interesting AI players, no two playthroughs will ever be virtually alike. One playthrough can be a bit long, however, considering how many turns are in a game, so be mindful of the clock when playing. Time can pass by very quickly with this game!
Civilization VI gets…
4 out of 5 lives.
Have you played this game? What did you think? Let us know in the comments! If you like this post, please share it around!
This was a game for the Xbox One that Kris and I played with two of our friends. We didn’t get the chance to beat the game, but it was a 4-player co-op game and it was a lot of fun to play with others. It was stressful but we had a good time.
I had a lot of fun playing this game. Miles & Kilo are trying to fix their ship. Kilo, the dog, automatically runs at top speed and you have to jump a precise moments. It’s a fun, satisfying game and harder than it seems.
This is another game Kris and I love to play with our friends. We love the first game and a lot new mechanics were added to the second game. This game is so frustrating and stressful, but it’s a good one.
A point-and-click sort of game, The Lion’s Song tells a wonderful story through the eyes of four different characters. Each character is a creative – an artist, musician, mathematician, and a writer. Each of their stories are told within the same world and they all intertwine. It’s a great story-telling game and I hope there’s more some day.
Kris and I streamed this Gamecube game on our Twitch channel. It’s a game we played a long time ago and it was awesome to get the chance to play it again. It’s no secret we love The Legend of Zelda so having a co-op Zelda game is great.
This is one of my favorite games. I was able to get the Gamecube going and play the game again but also having the ability to play it on the 3DS was a treat. I enjoyed the updated graphics and just getting the chance to play the game again regardless of whether I was able to get the Gamecube to work or not.
This is a game that I had been looking forward to for a long time. I was so excited to finally get the chance to play the game when it came out. I don’t normally pre-order games for myself, but I did with this one. It was a nice change of pace from the typical Pokemon games. I love Pokemon and mysteries, so it was so much fun to experience this one.
I mean, I don’t know if I need to explain this one. This is another game that I have been eagerly awaiting for a so long. There were some things, such as the Spirit mode, that I was iffy about, but now that I’ve played the game, I’ve fallen in love with every bit of it.
Let’s Go Pikachu goes along with this one, but I technically haven’t played the Pikachu version yet. I’m so happy to have the chance to visit the Kanto region once again. I love having my Pokemon follow me around and I can ride and interact with them. It’s awesome to see Kanto in a new light and I can’t wait to complete my Pokedex and go shiny hunting!
What are some of your favorite games that you’ve played in 2018? Have you played any of the games I listed? Let me know in the comments below!
Title: Deltarune Chapter One Developer: Toby Fox Publisher: Toby Fox
Release Date: October 31, 2018
How we got the game: Downloaded for free for Windows
Deltarune is a spin-off of Toby Fox’s original, critically acclaimed game Undertale. Chapter One is the demo of Deltarune that Fox released on Halloween this year — a rather fitting day — to see how well it’d be received. Judging by the reactions I’ve seen and my personal opinion of it, I think many gamers enjoyed it. Be aware that, considering this is only chapter one, a demo of sorts, this review will probably contain some spoilers.
Deltarune plays similarly to Undertale. Using a top-down perspective, Deltarune employs role-playing tactics in an 8-bit like world. Battles give you different options, such as ACT or SPARE. Players use these actions to either avoid fighting the monsters they encounter or by attacking them to move on. While the goal is to avoid fighting, allowing the monsters to live, the player (and one of their allies) can attack instead.
Unlike Undertale, Deltarune uses a multi-member party. Your character, Kris, is the human leader while Susie is a monster who rather likes using force. Ralsei is the third member and is essentially the healer of the party who is in favor of sparing every monster the group encounters. Kris has the ability to influence the others actions on their quest, although at the beginning Susie is not controllable by the player, so sparing the monsters can be a little difficult. The party also has Team Points, which allows them to perform stronger magic spells or attacks, if need be.
Another difference from Undertale is that Deltarune Chapter One only has one ending. While the choices the player made in Undertale reflected what kind of ending one would get, Deltarune’s choices didn’t matter much. At the beginning of the game, some NPCs actually tell Kris that their choices don’t matter.
The gameplay for Deltarune took the mechanics from Undertale and improved upon them. I much prefer Deltarune’s combat system to Undertale’s, but the charm from the first game was still very much present in Deltarune.
Deltarune’s graphics are the same 8-bit graphics that Undertale used, keeping the style the same to further connect the two games. It’s not revolutionary, but the imagination that was poured into many of the monsters’ designs and profiles is wonderful. Seeing the quirky world that Fox has created and being immersed in it is a treat.
The music is gorgeous as well, pieces that Fox has composed and being familiar enough to remind us of Undertale but also standing out on their own. I cannot wait for a full soundtrack.
Deltarune opens with Kris, a human living in a world where Monsters roam on Earth, being taken to school by their adoptive mother Toriel, a maternal goat-like creature. Once Kris gets to school, they’re tasked with Susie, the bully of the class, to get more chalk from the supply closet, which turns out to be a portal to the Dark World.
In the Dark World, Kris and Susie meet Ralsei, the Prince of Darkness, who is incredibly sweet and fluffy. Ralsei is convinced that he, Susie, and Kris are the three heroes destined to save the world. Susie… is not as convinced. In fact, she decides to find her own way out of the Dark World, not wishing to play the role of hero.
Lancer is the fourth most important character, who is actually the prince of the cruel King who has seized control of the Dark World and wishes to continue spreading darkness. He is trying to stop the heroes and, for a while, has Susie on his side. During these times (and through amazing dialogue), all four kids end up becoming allies and friends.
Although Lancer at one point traps Kris, Susie, and Ralsei in prison, it was really due to him wishing for them not to encounter the King. Lancer was afraid that either his new friends or the King would get hurt. When the trio do encounter the King, they are able to exhaust him enough to win the battle. The trio’s actions — whether or not they have killed anyone in their path to escape the Dark World — will determine the outcome as to how the King is dispatched. Either way, Susie and Kris will return to their world.
The player is then allowed to explore the town, finding the Undertale Easter eggs scattered throughout, before returning home and going to bed. After the credits roll, Kris stirs from bed in the middle of the night, rips out their soul, and locks it into a birdcage. Kris pulls out a dagger and, with glowing red eyes and a sharp grin, looks back at the screen at the player, a cliffhanger for Chapter Two.
Being a demo and just the first part of what will hopefully be a bigger, finished game, Deltarune Chapter One is great fun with wonderful characters and fantastic writing. With that said, there’s not too many secrets or Easter eggs to find after playing through it the first time, especially since there is only one ending. Still, with how much fun it is, I can see myself going back to Deltarune once in a while.
At least until the full game comes out.
4 out of 5 lives.
Have you played this game? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!
We play a lot of video games for this blog, and we like playing a lot of video games. Otherwise, this blog wouldn’t exist. However, there are definitely times when we feel that we rush through games more than take our time and just enjoy the games for what they are.
Writing game reviews is fun and I love being able to contribute to gamers and devs alike. I enjoy sharing and promoting games we liked and even games we didn’t care for too much. However, playing video games take time and it can be tricky to get their reviews out in a timely manner.
It’s a downside to doing reviews, I suppose. Obviously, we want the reviews to be timely and relevant, especially with how quickly games come onto the market. It’s a stark difference from when we were kids and could only afford games a couple of times a year. We’d take our time with those games, exploring every world and level, then replay them and old favorites while waiting for new games for Christmas and our birthdays. Now we pre-order games that are coming out months later to take advantage of Amazon Prime savings.
We’ve noticed lately that we constantly have a backlog of games. There are so many old ones we own that we still have yet to play and then there are the new games that were just released or will be soon that are currently in the news that all gamers are playing right now. We’ve tried to get on a “gaming” schedule before but with real life and Kris’s day job, it’s tough to stick to one.
Even if a gaming schedule worked, it would also mean trying to shoehorn in gaming during times that we may not feel like it. We wouldn’t really enjoy the games if we felt like we were being forced to play them on a set schedule. I mean, if gaming wasn’t such an expensive hobby, the logical solution would be to quit my day job for more gaming time, haha!
It would totally be nice to have the ability to play video games all the time again. What got us thinking about this was Octopath Traveler. It’s been such a long time since we’ve gotten excited about a lengthy game. Breath of the Wild was exciting for us and we released a “review” long after everyone else had because we were simply taking our time with it. It’s great to dive into another long story with in-depth storytelling and plot.
While we’re not planning on taking as long with Octopath as we did with Breath of the Wild, we are definitely trying to savor it. The Nintendo Switch has been fantastic for indie games, especially smaller puzzle ones, but a nice story-driven RPG is perfect for us at this time. We’re curious as to what other people do when they find themselves with a backlog of games they want to play.
Gaming is not meant to be stressful and we’re enjoying every minute of it. Which is why we’re excited to play more of Octopath Traveler and to seek out even more games we haven’t played yet.
Do you prefer to take your time with games and complete? Or play just enough to get a feel of it for a review? Let us know in the comments below!
The Sims franchise is a favorite of mine ever since a coworker back from college let me borrow her collection of Sims 2 expansion packs. Sims 2 turned into Sims 3, which I still have installed, before Sims 4 came around. Sims 4 is how I find myself wasting and enjoying time nowadays, especially with the newest expansion pack, Seasons.
The Sims 4 Seasons expansion pack came out a couple of weeks ago on June 22. Being a Sims expansion pack, I bought it for myself just in time for Camp NaNoWriMo, a monthly writing challenge, and I’ve been playing it as a reward for whenever I reach my word count goal for the day.
The Pets expansion packs always tend to be my favorites, because who doesn’t love virtual dogs and cats? Aside from that, though, Seasons is right up there as it gives so much more variety to the world that you’re playing in. The temperature changes, holidays, the new clothes and accessories for the sims, Seasons was always a coveted expansion pack for the Sims.
The Sims 4 Seasons comes with all of those. The temperature changes bring about new deaths and interactions for the sims, depending on how hot or cold the weather is. A thermostat is a new item for homes and businesses, allowing sims to make the temperature inside the house comfortable… supposedly. I still had my sims automatically dress up in their outdoor winter gear around the house in the colder weather despite the thermostat being set to warm (not to mention a fireplace or two in the house).
Holidays were interesting, especially since you can create your own. A calendar button is included in the interface, allowing the player to see the coming seasons and holidays in the next couple of weeks. Each holiday has “traditions” that you can assign it, actions that your sims can take in order to really celebrate the holiday. For example, Lovefest is the Valentine’s Day equivalent, and traditions can include gifting flowers to someone or going on a date, while Harvestfest’s main tradition is eating a Grand Meal. A sim’s personality traits also effect how they feel about the individual traditions. A romantic sim loves the idea of going on a date during Lovefest, while a loner sim ignores the same tradition. It’s pretty interesting to play around with, creating your own holidays as well as being able to plan events like birthday parties in advance.
The biggest addition to Sims 4 Seasons is the Gardening career. The gardening skill got an overhaul, making plants seasonal, while also adding the Flower Arrangement skill. With the Gardening career, you can either become a botanist or florist. Botanist focuses more on research and the gardening skill, while florist utilizes the flower arrangement skill as well. Gardening is the type of career that allows you to work from home if you wish like the careers from City Living, or you can create your own retail store for your floral arrangements if you have Get to Work.
One of the disappointing aspects of the expansion pack, in my opinion, is that there was no beach world or beach area to allow the sims to swim in the ocean or just hang out, really. Imagine being able to have a 4th of July-based holiday on the beach or just a beach party to go with Seasons. In Sims 3, with its open world, being able to swim in the ocean was a major development, and I feel that Sims 4 is missing out on this.
Still, there are plenty of extra activities, such as rollerskating, ice skating, beekeeping, having snowball and water balloon fights, along with the new holidays and Gardening career to keep you entertained should you choose to purchase the expansion pack. If you’re a big fan of the Sims and have the cash to spare, Seasons is a pretty good expansion to add to your game.
Do you play the Sims 4? Have you gotten the Seasons expansion pack? What do you think of it?
Title: Game Dev Tycoon Developer: Greenheart Games Publisher: Greenheart Games, Headup Games
Platform: PC, Mac, Android, IOS
Category: Economic Simulation
Release Date: December 10, 2012
How we got the game: We bought it on Steam
Game Dev Tycoon is a fun, addicting simulation in which you try to become the best game developer you can be within 35 game years. We first heard of the game from one of our favorite YouTubers, ProJared, and we became obsessed.
We both have a love of simulation, casual games, though it’s not often we come across a really good one like this one.
Game Dev Tycoon is played by clicking and selecting options from menus. For example, clicking on the screen will bring up options to create a new game, find contract work, find a publishing deal, or look at your game history. It’s very simple in terms of controls and the premise, but every action you make will affect your company, either for better or for worse.
Every action affects your company, yeah, but a lot is luck. You might think you’re making a great decision and it completely backfires. You start off by yourself in your garage making small games here and there. Once you get enough money, you get your own office. Now you can hire two employees and create games faster.
Eventually, you can get an even bigger office and hire a full team of six employees aside from yourself. Your employees affect your games as well, depending on their strengths in the design or technology department, as well as their speed and efficiency at research. You can train them to raise their stats, but it will cost money and research points, not to mention their monthly salaries and the rent for your office. With more employees, you can create even bigger games, which may bring in more fans and sales. Researching new topics and assets to your custom game engines — such as dialogue trees, soundtracks, open worlds, mini-games, just to name a small few — will also help drive up those game sales. As long as, you know, the critics like the games.
You have to manage your time well too because the time in-game moves pretty quickly. You need to sort out who’s going to research what, train their skills and when. Don’t forget to train yourself as well… something I often forgot. I usually did all this in between games too because it’s much better to have everyone working on the game at once. You can assign what aspects of the game you want your employees to work on. Everyone has a meter that fills up a percentage of how much they’re working. Ideally, you want your employees and yourself to be under 100% so they don’t overwork themselves. They do have a tired meter as well. If that goes down their work will slow or stop altogether. You can simply click on them and send them on vacation for a bit.
There are events happening all the time that can affect your work as well, such as big name video game companies coming out with new consoles, events that have to do with your fans, or market analysis news that tell you what kind of genre or target audience is popular at the moment. There is also “G3,” the game’s equivalent of E3, every year that you can attend. Depending on the size of the booth you can afford, you may get more fans and hype for the next game you’re making. The more hype for a game, the more sales you may generate. Beware, too much hype for a game that ends up being less than stellar may result in you losing fans.
After 35 years in-game, the game “ends.” You get a list of your stats such as your best selling game, least sold game, most used topic and genre, and more. All of that adds up and you get a score. The points don’t really matter but it’s fun to check out anyway. After that you can either keep playing the game without any “story elements” or you can start a new game and try to beat your score.
Game Dev Tycoon, being a casual simulator, doesn’t have a huge world or multiple levels to explore. Instead, you have the background of your office, your avatar and employees glued to their computer screens, and statistics and news bubbles around the edges of the game window. The graphics are very clean while being sure that you’re mentally focused on your budding game development company.
It’s simple and it works. You’re so focused on pointing, clicking, and checking the stats in the top right corner that you barely notice anything else going on – which isn’t much. The colors are bright and fun and the backgrounds for each office are cool to look closely at as your employees get their work done.
To go along with the chill graphics, the music is relaxing as well. It’s minimal, allowing you to zone into the work you have to do to develop the best games possible. There aren’t too many sound effects, either, but the best one is these little “bubbles” of productivity from your employees. While working on a game, the game earns bubbles of design and technology, depending on the speed and the workers’ strength in those areas, and it is extremely satisfying to see all the little bubbles go flying!
The music is smooth and relaxing, definitely. Even clicking on options for what to do next is a satisfying sound. The bubbles though were definitely my favorite! Their popping sounds were satisfying to listen to and yeah, to watch them fly across the screen was mesmerizing.
Game Dev Tycoon starts off with your avatar sitting in a little garage-turned-office with a handful of money and big dreams to become a famous — or at least profitable — game developer. With only the ability to make small games with a few randomized topic options, you have to do your best to balance out design and technology to make the best games as possible so you can move up in the video game world.
The point is to move up in the gaming world and become the best video game company ever. That’s all there is to it. The points and money only add up to give you stats and points at the end for a high score. While you can keep playing the game after it “ends” in 35 in-game years, there’s still a way to lose. Sometimes the market doesn’t go your way and you can go bankrupt. So be careful your business doesn’t go up in flames!
With the random events and beginning topics, Game Dev Tycoon has some great replay ability. The luck of the draw definitely keeps the game interesting, and with its addictive gameplay, you’re always trying to improve your games and overall high score. Year 35 is a good time for the game to “end,” for at that point we found ourselves to be so successful with fans and profits, that the quality of our games didn’t matter as much when it came to sales. At that point, I was ready to jump right into a new game and just keep going!
The game topics such as virtual pet, mystery games, and more are random when you first start. So there’s never a playthrough that’ll be the same. This is definitely something I’ll play again soon.
Game Dev Tycoon gets… 5 out of 5 lives.
Have you played this game? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!
Title: Harvest Moon: Light of Hope Developer: Natsume Publisher: Natsume
Platform: PC, Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4
Category: Role-Playing, Simulation
Release Date: May 29, 2018 for Switch/Playstation 4 in NA; November 14, 2017 for PC
How we got the game: Bought it for the Switch
Harvest Moon has been one of my favorite franchises since I was introduced to Friends of Mineral Town for the GameBoy Advance way back when I was in… I dunno, the beginning of high school? It was a long time ago, let’s just say that. I feel as if the older titles in the franchise better capture what Harvest Moon is supposed to be about, and I think that Light of Hope recaptured that.
Harvest Moon: Light of Hope operates in a similar way to the majority of the other games in the franchise. As one of the main objectives of the game, you spend much of your time cultivating a farm, growing crops and raising livestock. Fishing and mining are also two activities that you do in order to help improve both your farm and the island itself.
The controls for Light of Hope are, actually, fairly simple. With the Switch controls set up the way I had them, usually in the Switch’s handheld mode, you move your character with the left analog stick and the A button on the right Joy-Con was your main action button.
A cursor — usually a little leaf or a green square if you were by a farming spot — showed you where you could make an action. The green leaf was used basically to indicate who you could talk to, while a green square would indicate what tool you could use. There is no switching tools around in this game. Instead, the game is smart enough to know what tool you need based on what you were facing. If there’s a tree in front of you, you’ll automatically use the ax to cut it down. You’ll swing your hammer if you meet a stone. And if you were facing a spot where you can grow a crop? Just stand there and hit A as your character automatically tills the spot, plants your preferred crop, water the spot, and toss on some fertilizer.
Of course, sometimes this hiccuped a little (yes, I know I patted and brushed my cow already, can you please just automatically milk it now?), such as if you suddenly moved your character and they’re tilling the next spot of grass instead of watering the potatoes, but it works well enough for me.
While you’re improving your farm and completing the story, you’ll also be making friends and wooing potential spouses, as you do in most Harvest Moon games. Talking and giving gifts to people improve your friendships, potentially unlocking further activities or pieces of the story. Many of the NPCs are in charge of shops on the island and you can sell products that you grow on the farm directly to them rather than stuffing them in the shipping bin. Some stores will pay you more for certain goods — such as the restaurant for fish or the flower shop for, well, flowers — than you would receive when shipping them.
All in all, the game play and controls are pretty smooth on the Nintendo Switch.
Light of Hope’s graphics were rather charming. Full-bodied sprites moved fluidly across the Nintendo Switch screen, and the animated expressions while characters were speaking to each other definitely amused me!
I almost always enjoy the music in Harvest Moon games, and Light of Hope was no exception. The seasonal music is always relaxing, especially in winter. Most of the tunes are updated versions of music from past Harvest Moon games, which just makes me enjoy them all the more.
The protagonist of the game washes ashore a mostly-deserted Beacon Island in the middle of a storm. After being rescued by a couple of the last remaining inhabitants of the island, the protagonist decides to stick around and help draw back citizens to the island by farming and rebuilding the shops.
Beacon Island is home to a majestic lighthouse whose eternal light has vanished, the catalyst as to why many people abandoned the island. The protagonist vows to figure out why the lighthouse went out and to restore it once again.
The story reminds me of a cross between Animal Parade and Sunshine Islands. Restoring the lighthouse’s light comes down to finding the the lighthouse tablets. The game itself pretty much carries you through the story, so there is no literal searching for the tablets. NPCs will guide you through the chapters, giving you hints (or just outright telling you) what items you need in order to proceed. The story can take as little as 10 hours as long as you are able to find and/or save the necessary items you’ll need in order to find the stone tablets.
After the tablets are replaced in the lighthouse and the light is restored, the story ends. The protagonist is now able to continue raising their farm, expanding their house in case they want to marry an eligible candidate, as well as unlock special livestock and crop seeds.
The story itself isn’t much, but the many interactions between the player and the NPCs were cute. The only thing I found odd about the story was at certain parts where NPCs would “wait” in an area for the player to return with specific items to help move the story along, even if it took the player a couple of seasons to find the items.
Most Harvest Moon games have plenty of replay value if one considers the different spouses one can woo and the multitude of ways one can arrange their farm. There are three save files per profile on the Switch, so if you’re the type to try to marry every potential spouse, go for it. Light of Hope also has multiple farms on the island as well, allowing you to experiment with different plants and crops.
It’s a charming, relaxing game that has plenty of potential for multiple play-throughs.
Harvest Moon: Light of Hope gets…
4 out of 5 lives.
Have you played this game? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!
Title: Batman: The Telltale Series Developer: Telltale Games Publisher: Telltale Games
Platform: PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Category: Graphic Adventure
Release Date: Original episode was released August 2016
How we got the game: Bought it on Steam
Batman was one of my first loves when I was introduced to the Geek Life. With the comic books and the animated series, Batman turned into one of my favorite superheroes. Seeing the release of the Telltale Series, I was always interested in the point-and-click graphic adventure. After having it downloaded on Steam for… longer than I intended, I finally got around to sitting down and playing it.
I’ve never played a Telltale Series game before and, considering all of the titles they have out, I was interested in seeing how they pulled it off. Part action, part graphic adventure, Batman: The Telltale Series was definitely fun with its gameplay.
The game is split evenly between Batman and Bruce Wayne, with the player taking their roles during the game. While the game looks similar to a visual novel, the player’s input in the many critical choices affects the branches of the game’s narrative.
Part of the gameplay involves the player making quick decisions, whether it is during an action sequence or when speaking with NPCs of the world. Case in point were the multiple choice responses peppered in throughout the narrative. When responding to key points in the story to the NPCs, you are given only a few seconds, measured by a bar beneath the response choices. If you failed to respond, it was taken as mere silence, which is also a valid response to these situations. The first few questions I had to answer, I nearly panicked that I couldn’t try to carefully think through and pick the best response. Instead, I had to answer quickly and let the chips fall where they may!
The action sequences generally involve the player reacting quickly to hitting a certain key or button, a mouse-click, or even a combination of keystrokes to perform actions. Successfully performing these actions during a fight scene will fill up a Batman symbol found in the bottom-left corner of the screen — once the symbol is filled, Batman can perform a final move to completely take down the opponent he is facing to move onto the next scene.
During investigative scenes, you check evidence and the surrounding area, using a technique called linking to “link” pieces of evidence together to help piece the story of what went down in the area. I was actually really impressed with this part of the gameplay, finding it intriguing as we moved around as Batman to investigate. Seeing his gadgets do their thing was fun, too!
It’s not combat-heavy and relies more on quick reflexes and thinking, allowing you to manipulate the story and enjoying the narrative you help to weave.
The graphics aren’t bad at all. The semi-realistic graphics of the people and the settings are pretty good, even if sometimes the faces of the characters can look a little… derpy. I really enjoyed the images of the Gotham, the settings of Wayne Manor, City Hall, and the other scenes. I thought they were well done.
The music was fun as well, the tunes fitting into the story well. Fight and investigative scenes were accurately punched up with the music, keeping you focused and getting you amped up when necessary.
The game begins with Batman investigating a break-in at Gotham City Hall. Aside from mercenaries, he meets Catwoman stealing a drive, which Batman takes before she can escape. He returns to Wayne Manor as Bruce, hosting a campaign party for D.A. Harvey Dent running for mayor against the current, corrupt mayor of Gotham. Among other party guests, the infamous mobster Falcone makes an appearance, who offers Bruce a spot in his crime family in exchange for “help” in getting Harvey elected.
This prologue effectively introduces the major players to episode one.
The story does well going back and forth between the Bruce Wayne and Batman personas, giving equal play time for both “characters.” While Batman is focused on decrypting the drive that Catwoman had attempted to steal, Bruce Wayne is stuck playing politics for Harvey Dent and Falcone. During the investigation, Falcone appears to be the link between the two faces of the titular character.
With this link, accusations against Bruce’s parents come to light, accusations that painted the Waynes not as benevolent benefactors to the city but as one of the biggest crime families of Gotham. While Batman confronts Falcone for his part in stealing and delivering a chemical weapon, Falcone delivers evidence of the Waynes being involved with Falcone and his crime organizations. Episode one ends with Bruce demanding answers from Alfred, his closest confidant and the Wayne family butler and friend.
The story continues with episode two, with Bruce digging up the secrets of his family’s past. The Telltale Series does well playing in Batman’s universe, but the story itself does not tie in with any other existing Batman lore. I’m definitely intrigued by the beginning of this game and am looking forward to continuing the story of this game with the next episodes!
Batman: The Telltale Series had great replay value, especially if you want to exhaust all the different important choices you can pick throughout the game. Not only are the episodes themselves different due to the choices, choices in previous episodes can affect the outcome of future episodes.
That, and it’s Batman. What’s not to like?
Batman: The Telltale Series gets…
5 out of 5 lives.
Have you played this game? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!