Perhaps I’m just a cynical bigot blinded by nostalgia, but in my eyes Disney has lost quite a bit of its magic in recent years. Instead of the delightfully imaginative works of their glory years, we’ve been “treated” to an abundance of derivative shovel-ware and cash grabs, all relying on their branding and marketing instead of actual quality to make them a success. A remake of the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive classic, Castle of Illusion could have very well been just another mediocre licensed game, but to my absolute surprise and delight it is anything but; a whimsical joy of a platformer that pays homage to Mickey’s past, while bringing him into the modern-day just as enjoyable as we remember him. Continue reading Castle of Illusion – Review
Super Killer Hornet: Resurrection feels like the sort of game that would come to a developer out of a bizarre fever dream. Imagine a hyperactive shmup, involving a homicidal insect (which may actually be a spaceship), fighting a barrage of alien demon creatures across planets. Now picture it set to a soundtrack by British hip-hop rock artist “The Sixty Fours”, in which you create combos and get upgrades by solving basic math problems, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what Killer Hornet is. Continue reading Super Killer Hornet: Resurrection – Review
There’s a certain childhood wonder and curiosity that at some point we all loose, as we gain knowledge of the world and realize that our magical fantasies we once imagined possible were just that; figments of our imaginations that will never actually come into existence. Nevertheless through books, movies, games and other art forms we can still visit the enchanting worlds of our dreams, carrying ourselves away for a few hours to a place that can only be described as extraordinary. Continue reading Lilly Looking Through – Review
Every once and a while there comes a game so revolutionary, so full of ambition and creativity and with such flawless execution that they forever change the medium and shape it for years to come. They are the games that we remember decades after their release, and that continue to be cited as inspiration for new games long since we first revered at their brilliance. And then we have Marlow Briggs. Continue reading Marlow Briggs and the Mask of Death – Review
For all the saviors of the galaxies, legendary heroes, and lone hopes for humanity that populate most video games, developers have been ignoring one of the world’s fiercest protectors: mothers, and their love for their childen. Shelter casts you as a badger, sole guardian of her five cubs, who must set forth against the harsh world to try and lead her children to safety. Through storms and wildfires, your determination will be tested and the lives of your underlings repeatedly put in danger, as you travel on an intense journey that not everyone will be able to survive. Continue reading Shelter – Review
A handful of exceptions excluded, platformers are typically synonymous with the act of jumping up and ascending toward your end goal, with falling down often resulting in death or setting you back. As the name implies, Freedom Fall takes a different approach, placing your stranded at the top of a tower and forcing you to descend through the traps an precariously placed spikes toward your escape. It’s a novel idea accomplished with a lot of style, but one that was also originally done for mobile and tablet devices and on its way to the PC has had little effort into better suiting it to the platform. What follows is an enjoyable, but flawed experience that can’t reach its full potential, despite being largely enjoyable much of the time. Continue reading Freedom Fall – Review
Race The Sun is an adrenaline rush the likes of which few other games can compare! The whoosh as you soar past objects, the intensity as the sun threatens to disappear past the horizon, and the unbelievable moments of triumph when you make it through in one piece are but small bits of what makes for an extremely exhilarating experience. Continue reading Race The Sun – Review
Being queen isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. For all the fame, fortune, and limitless invitations to balls, there are assassination attempts to fight off, rebelling commoners, war barking at the boarders, and an endless stream of plots to steal your crown. All of this and more is what awaits Elodie, the queen to be, as the impromptu death of her mother accelerates her path to the monarchy in Long Live the Queen, a game that is anything but what it appears.
The most important thing to know about LLtQ is that it isn’t a girly diversion devoid of strategy and intended solely for would be princesses to live out their fantasies. On the contrary it is an absolutely brutal challenge of wits! Your time is split between taking classes and dealing with the day-to-day events that befall a queen, both of which are intimately woven together and require a keen knowledge to predict the outcome of the choices you make.
As you progress through the game you shape Eldodie into a princess of your choosing by way of the various skills you aquire by taking classes. You can only learn so much before push comes to shove and you need to put your skills into action, and finding the balance in it all is where the strategy really comes into play. By manipulating your mood you can gain bonuses to different skills, boosting the amount of skill points you earn in a session, which further adds another layer you need to pay attention to in order to succeed (or even survive).
It is all but a certainty that you will die many, many times before you make it to your coronation, however death in LLtQ isn’t a gameover but just taking a wrong path at one point, and is intended to be a learning experience above all else. Because events typically unfold in a similar way each time, your main goal is to pick and choose which skills to upgrade in a timely manner in order to succeed and push onto the next plot point. Should you fail you can reload a save and try again with new tactics, or start over from scratch and plan your path in a whole different direction.
The freedom coupled with the inherent linearity is an odd combo but what I love so much about the game. It doesn’t change so much that you can’t easily plan for future events, but allows a lot of variation for different outcomes which gives a lot of replay value for those so inclined as to seek out the different endings.
It is also my biggest complaint about the game however, as for all its freedom it does a poor job telling you how to use it and leaves you floundering in the dark trying to find the perfect combo. Getting a “good” ending and seeing Elodie crowned is far harder to do than you would likely expect, and repeatedly dying with only vague mentions of what you did wrong and how to change it can be very disheartening and will likely put many off early on as they are still trying to work out how everything fits. I’m all for letting the player find the answers for themselves, but a bit more guidance would have been much appreciated for all the times I failed in ways that seemed no fault of my own.
But even with the bothersome lack of direction LLtQ is still an extremely addictive and original game, one that immediately sucked me in and kept me hook for hours at a time. It would be easy to get the wrong idea of the game from the screenshots, but I imagine many would be pleasantly surprised if they gave it a chance. The music is lovely and the artwork very nice, with a clean-cut design and humorous, engaging writing that makes it hard not to fall in love with Elodie and the other characters around her.
I have never played a game quite like Long Live the Queen, and hope to see more original titles like this popping up on Steam soon. If you are even the slightest bit interested don’t turn away after the first impression, it has a lot more depth than I think anyone would expect, and is a wholly refreshing and enjoyable experience that most any should enjoy whether they have ever dreamed of being the prettiest princess or not!
Long Live The Queen was developed by Hanako Games and is available on PC, Mac, and Linux via Steam.
Dead Space is the unofficial Alien game we always wanted! The horrific plight of starship engineer Issac Clark aboard the U.S.G Ishimura perfectly replicates the feeling of isolation and suspense of Ridley Scott’s classic, while also innovating and branching out on its own right to create an impeccable homage to sci-fi horror which continually surprises and rewards with each astoundingly well thought out design decision. Continue reading Dead Space – Review
“And so it was said that one man set off alone, to brave the horrors of the journey ahead of him, to get back his butt from the Groovy Wizard!”
Electronic Super Joy is Meat Boy gone clubbing. A deviously challenging minimalist platformer, it jogs along at the frenetic pace of its pulse pounding sound track, never once caring if you can’t keep up so long as the beat keeps thumping. The music is the heart and soul of the experience, synchronizing with the levels to create a unique and irresistibly catchy game that doesn’t need to reinvent its gameplay to remain fresh. Continue reading Quick Thoughts On: Electronic Super Joy