Tag: indie game

Dream Divers


Come join Zahra, Cam, and Peter busting full of reviews and gaming chatter.
This week after Paul brings us our weekly gaming rumours/news, the team talk gaming self care for the Elden Ring Fans prepping for the DLC coming soon. Peter goes deep, blowing up friends and foes in a review of Helldivers 2. Zahra gets over and under the blanket in a review of Awake from Team Awake. The team then talks the upcoming Borderlands movie.

Progress Knight Review

Developers; Progress Knight: ihtasham42, Progress Knight Quest: Symb1 & indomit
Publisher: Github.com
Platform: Browser Games
Created Dates; Progress Knight: 26/12/20, Progress Knight Quest: 11/11/22
Genre: Idle Game

This isn’t so much a review of Progress Knight from ihtashham42 and the evolution, Progress Knight Quest developed by Symb1 and modified by indomit, all of which are available to play on github, but rather a write up of my experience when a month ago I searched for something to afk play while editing podcasts and playing other games. I was looking for something to put in the background and play in the corner of my screen. And on screenrant.com I found it, lurking under the title “10 Best Idle Games On PC, Ranked”. It was everything I was looking for, simple visuals, nothing but text, moving bars, and buttons, nothing too flashy to take my attention from other things, no sound, no distraction, just simplicity… it was perfect. So, I google searched Progress Knight and found it in github. Not even a program. Just something running in a browser. I tucked it into the far left of my left monitor, out of my direct eyesight and started playing. The window taking up no more than an eighth of my side screen, and there it lurked waiting for my eye to catch it.

Progress Knight in its simplest form is an idle game with the hook that you’re living the life of a peasant and climbing the ranks of society. You start homeless, able to hire a book for 10 copper a day, or a tent for 15 all while you beg for change on a street corner earning only 10 copper a day. Each of these gain you bonuses to help you skill up in life, be it the concentration to learn skills faster, the strength to help increase certain jobs incomes, the ability to be more productive and gain job experience faster, or even the ability to meditate to increase your happiness and multiply your life experience bonuses. However, choose wisely as you can only do one thing at a time, and there’s only so many days in a year, and so many years in a life… So, as you gain more money, you can get a shack, small house, some dumbbells, even a personal squire and you balance all of these with your earnings.

As you age from youth (the game starts you at 14 years of age), to adulthood, you stumble upon an amulet on your 25th birthday, the groundhog day token to the game’s loop. At 45 it shivers and changes gaining a symbol that is never described. And just before you rest your head on your deathbed at 70 a living eye emerges from the centre. Do you dare touch it? If you do each level you earned in skills and jobs gain you multipliers to aid in the speed of leveling of the same. And that’s kind of it, well, except for the change in form it gains again at 200 years, and again at a millennia.

And I blinked… Now the game took up half the screen on my second monitor.

Now I’m jumping between strength, battle tactics, and mana control, something you gain through excelling in mediation and concentration… It doesn’t seem to do anything yet but it hints of the possibility that maybe you could be the Merlin of this story.

 

 

 

 

And then I blinked again…

Weeks have passed and after finding the discord link in the settings, I went looking for spoilers as progress has slowed down. Not only have I realised that I’m starting to become the villain through my need to extend my life through magical means, but once I hit 200 years of age, I may have started to invest in Evil. Nothing like some Dark influence, Demon Training, and Blood meditation to sooth the desire for more flashing numbers and the slow accumulation of power, palaces, and a personal need for perfection… So, I went searching as I wanted to know if I was nearing the end of the game… But instead, I found the games most recent successor. Progress Knight Quest.

Suddenly instead of training one thing at a time, I train everything… So much progression so quickly, I outpace my previous evolution in mere hours. My mind sparkles as endorphins flood the synapses, family duty fades to mere nuisances, other games and responsibilities become the background tasks to watching the life of this unnamed character trapped in a time loop of progression.

The soul crushed from me, eyes dry and sore… I blinked again…

More weeks have passed, and the game dominates my second monitor. The computer left on overnight to grind the millennia of life needed to progress. But not before I lie exhausted in my chair, mind blank in the faint blue glow emanating from the flashing bars moving across my screen. The browser window the only open program on my desktop, house guests visit, family sick, yet still I am drawn to the screen and it’s pulsing, beating litany of indicator bars. I’m now a chronomancer before the age of 15, the evil now coursing through my veins, my research completely focused on the all seeing eye but yet something else drives me further. My reach for the void, it’s servitude and compounding evil gain driving my focus as the clock clicks forever closer to midnight. My eyes dry, my dry tongue desperately trying to convince the last remaining neurons in my brain that I need a drink, and the last feeble attempt of my consciousness frantically urging me to bed and the sleep I so desperately need. But my back curls and my head inches closer to the flashing lights, and maybe if I wait a little longer I’ll hit the millennium lived years marker and can one again reach into the void.

And you want to know the worst part? For the month that this has lived on my screen, and the 2 to 3 weeks of gameplay I’ve invested I haven’t even touched a thing called “essence” or something I’ve only seen in patch notes…Transcendence.

Progress Knight really is what an idle game would be if you removed the major distractions, boiled it down to just the basics and just focussed on a story hook. No visuals but the text, bars, and buttons feel totally adequate to convey what you want when you want it. The resetting, so far, never feels like you’ve taken two steps back for one step forward, something I’ve felt seems to be quite common in some other idle games where the sacrifice for progress loop can feel mediocre and disheartening. In Progress Knight the only time I’ve felt this is when I got my first point of evil. While it gave me a small modicum of compounded progression, it did not feel like enough to really strive for. Since then, every sacrifice has felt impactful and earned, so kudos to the developers. Mind you when I started to feel that the original game began to slow down (after reading more it was the end of the base game), I moved to Progress Knight Quest which is a hands-off mod of Progress Knight 2.0 and included more evolutions, buffs, and overall content. So if you found joy in Cookie Clicker or AdVenture Capitalist give Progress Knight Quest a shot. And if, like me, these kinds of games take over your life, make you avoid social event, eating, and job deadlines… maybe just load up Animal Crossing again, your villagers miss you.

Hmmm, maybe I should just play one more life, I’ll go to bed once I hit the next milestone…

The CageBox


This week Zed Games round table is lead by Hazel, with Paul and Peter sitting on a wall. Then comes the regular Gaming News from Maylee, with the team talking the Tomb Raider relaunch and the Xbox rumour mills. Paul swings to win in the full release of Phantom Abyss. And the team chats the massive demo drop of this Feb’s Steam NextFest.

A Mortician’s Tale Review

Developer: Laundry Bear Games
Publisher: Laundry Bear Games
Composer: Halina Heron
Platforms: PC, Mac via steam and itch.io, iOS
Release Date: For PC & Mac 18th October 2017, iOS 22nd November 2018
Genre: Story-Driven Management Sim.

A trigger warning for this review. I will be talking respectfully about the processes that take place within a funeral home from washing a body to the process of cremation. If these things may trigger you, please skip this review.

A Mortician’s Tale is a game that introduces you to the intimate and confronting world of what happens to your body after death. You play the black-haired, tattooed Charlie, the newest funeral director in the family-run “Rose and Daughters Funeral Home”. Charlie has managed to land on her feet with a boss who eases her into the swing of things, with her first job being a closed casket funeral. So, to show your respect you are asked to wash the body to prepare it for the funeral, and then attend the funeral. After changing into a “respectful” outfit, covering your tattoos, you reminisce with the attendees, listen to their qualms, and take a moment to stand by the coffin and process the death yourself.

The gameplay has a very simple loop. Go to your computer to check your emails where quite a lot of exposition lies. You will find your Monthly Newsletter with handy dandy tips and tricks, your job for the day, and correspondence from friends and co-workers. Then you will follow the routine of attending to the client’s requests in the preparation of the body and attending the funeral. This can range from open caskets to cremations with all the tools and steps you would normally take simplified for the gameplay. However, the real gem of this game is the story inbuilt under this.

 

Each loop takes place about a month or so after the last. By reading the emails you follow the ownership of family-run business doing the best it can for their clients where the head wants to retire and slowly move into the hands of a larger conglomerate. In this business the model is to push for sales and exploit the grief of families for higher profits and at the crux of this game, a few real issues. Do you respect the last wishes of a person, or go for that commission? Where do you stand when a family member wants something different to the person who once inhabited the body in front of you? Is processing this body worth the environmental impact? Is a funeral worth going into debt for?

The soothing, yet eerie background tracks composed by Halina Heron are a perfect accompaniment to the repetitive procedures, email reading, and funerals you attend. While the track’s loop isn’t very long, the tracks provide smooth loops and transitions between scenes. When it comes to sound effects, the ticking of the embalming fluid machine, the rumble of the cremation, and such can be quite confronting starting off, but quickly become routine. Other sounds are quite soft with the cremulator making a sandy hush that may be disconcerting for entirely different reasons.

A Mortician’s Tale is a simple story, in a simple point and click game, that hit quite close to home. I played this shortly after visiting a local mortician who had recently sent off a friend’s father and we sat and chatted for a few hours about many things, including the idea of being death-positive. I thought I knew the basics of what happens after someone dies and the processing of a body, but at the age of 38 this game taught me about new procedures, things that made me feel uncomfortable, and about not having a will which would leave it up to family or friends to deal with.

Overall, I recommend taking your time and playing A Mortician’s Tale. Not because it’s an amazing visual extravaganza, but if like me you haven’t thought too much about your post-mortem corpse disposal process, it will hopefully make you seriously reconsider the last impact you will leave on this earth. While also having few easter eggs to dig up for good measure.

A Mortician’s Tale was released in October of 2017 by Laundry Bear Games and is currently available for PC & Mac through Steam and Itch.io, and for mobile on iOS. I received my copy in a Humble Bundle.

Palworld Tops, Game Devs Down, and Some Game Bytes

This week in gaming news: Palworld tops the gaming charts and rumour mills, a dismal prediction for Game Devs in 2024, and some special gaming bytes.

For those living under a rock, this week has been dwarfed by the unexpected boom of Palworld into the gaming stratosphere. The monster collecting survival game Palworld, has not only beat out opening week records set by Cyberpunk 2077, Elden Ring and Hogwarts Legacy, selling over 7 million copies in the last 5 days since release, but it also has beaten Valve’s own Counter-Strike 2 All-Time Peak player count, becoming the second most played game of all time with over 1.86 million concurrent players. However, this has not come without hiccups. The game has released in early access on steam and game preview on game pass, so bugs are to be expected, but steam and Microsoft are publishing different versions. Each with their own bugs and server issues that have required emergency meetings with Epic Games backend, and individual updates with expectations that they won’t coalesce until crossplay is established in the future. Until then, Microsoft players will have to deal with the lack of dedicated servers and slow updates, and the quality of life updates seen with steam users.
Internally, developer Pocket Pair has had to deal with a slew of press and player accusations with Community Manager and CEO reporting to have been receiving death threats, “slanderous comments, and outlandish claims.” Some of these being claims they “ripped off Pokémon” and utilised AI to either create the monsters in the game or that GenAI is used in the game. The CEO Takuro Mizobe has responded to at least one claim, stating that “We have absolutely no intention of infringing upon the intellectual property of other companies.” But not all are convinced, with former head of Pokémon’s legal team Dan McGowan saying the game “looks like the usual ripoff nonsense that I would see a thousand times a year when I was Chief Legal Officer of Pokémon.” And not without cause, with a mod already released and removed that not only put Pokémon into Palworld, but also Ash, Misty, and Team Rocket. Creator, Toasted Shoes, put out a statement after the mods removal.

“Nintendo has come for me, please leave me in your thoughts and prayers”

The 2024 Forecast for Game Developers
After more layoffs Game Devs are facing a hard reality this week with Riot laying off 11% of its workforce. That’s 530 people losing their jobs with the blame being put on management’s decision to rapidly expand after the pandemic. And it’s not the only one, with the trend continuing in more studios. 2k’s 31st Union is cutting team members even after the “momentous” move to California. Embracer Group is trying to find a buyer for developer Piranha Bytes. And the developer of recently released VR game Micro Machines: Mini Challenge Mayhem, WIMO Games, has announced they’ve closed their doors with around three dozen staff left out in the cold.
With one third of developers being impacted by layoffs in the last year, and more than half of developers concerned about their futures we can see there are challenges to face in the future. Experts are increasing the worry with expectations the gaming industry will face challenges possibly into 2025 after the abundance of games released in 2020, and 2021 pushing unrealistic release schedules. Despite this, industry leaders are optimistic of the long-term survivability of game development, leaning of the industries resilience and potential growth in the future.

And now for the Gaming Bytes:

  • Awesome Games Done Quick is back with AGDQ2024 streaming over 135 speedruns and raising over 5 million us dollars for The Prevent Cancer Foundation during the week-long event.
  • While earlier this week it was rumoured BulletStorm VR was to be removed from the PS5 Store and auto refunded… it has come to light that only Japan and South Korea will be receiving this golden ticket with the rest of the world left to fend for ourselves.
  • And for those people looking forward to the game Indiana Jones and the Great Ciricle, Harrison Ford is NOT voicing Indiana Jones, rather Troy Baker the voice actor behind The Last of Us’s Joel, BioShock Infinite’s Booker DeWitt , and many more.
  • OH! And the finalists for the Freeplay Awards for 2024 have been announced. If you don’t know what they are, it is the world’s longest-running independent games festival with the awards ceremony to take place on the 29th of February in Melbourne. These awards focus on Australian and New Zealand indi grass roots game artists and developers with this year’s nominees to include Unpacking from Witch Beam Games, Wayward Strand from ghost pattern, and Dap from Melting Parrot, plus many more. For the full list of nominations CLICK HERE

And now for the upcoming game releases.
Friday the 26th brings us two new releases with Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth coming to PC, PlayStation, & Xbox, and Tekken 8 coming to PC and Next Gen Consoles.
On Tuesday the 30th Rugby 24 to PC, PlayStation, & Xbox.
Wednesday the 31st the DLC for 2021’s Eastward, Eastward: Octopia DLC and is coming to PC & Switch
And lastly, Thursday the 1st of February, Granblue Fantasy: Relink comes to PC and PlayStation.

Rapid Fire Reviews

This week Hazel leads the round table with Zahra and Peter to talk Gaming News (from Cam) and the impact of AI. Zahra goes mobile while reviewing sandboarder Alto’s Odyssey developed by Snowman. Caroline then goes digging and gets stuck in(to) the early access game Below the Stone developed by Strollart. And finally Zahra jumps back in for an extra review of mobile creative Let’s Create! Pottery 2 from Infinite Dreams.