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.
Developers; Progress Knight: ihtasham42, Progress Knight Quest: Symb1 & indomit
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…
Developer: Gearbox Software
Publisher: 2K Games
Audio: Joshua Carro
Platforms: Playstation 4 & 5, Xbox One, Series S &X, Epic Store on PC.
Release Date: 25/3/22
Genre: Action, Adventure, RPG, FPS, Looter Shooter.
Before sitting down to write this review of Tiny Tina’s Wonderland I checked my playtime of this new instalment of the Borderlands Franchise. Nearly 80 hours, which beats most Borderlands games I’ve played in the past… So, what makes this game my pick as one of the best Borderlands games released?
The game, for those Borderlands aficionados, takes place between the last good game and the bad one you probably invested too many hours into, where Tiny Tina is still thirteen, your drinks are non-alcoholic, and the innuendo is masked.
So… umm… You play as the noobie, a creature of your own surmise (genderless options included – plus click that slider override button, you monster), in the tangled web of Tiny Tina’s Wonderland, and the world she has … created? Spoiler free review here, the dynamic between Tina and the Dragon Lord is… TASTY? And confusing. Halfway through my second playthrough with my cousin, he asked what the actual dynamic was, and all I could say was “yes” without spoiling anything.
And you are stuck playing the game because you’re trapped under a mountain with these people? So, 4th wall breaks are in, and disbelief is suspended as you are lead through a story of Tina’s imaginings/traumas.
And I sure hope you’re ready, because it follows all the machinations of Dungeons and dragons and Tabletop enthusiasts out there, calling back to retcons, Fantasy reimagining, and a heap more…
But what exactly is the bunkers and badasses world in the imaginings of Tiny Tina’s Wonderland? At it’s core it’s just a reskin of borderlands 3. Same mechanics, renamed loot, grenades are now OP and reclassed as spells… but the core difference is the beautiful new settings, removal of cars and in its place a game board (much wow, many happy) and the new class mechanics. In Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands you get to choose between different classes that with an expanding list as the DLC’s are released, PLUS, new to the franchise, is the real RPG hard-line, BASE STATS. Wisdom, intelligence, strength, dexterity, constitution, and affinity? I guess because we all have excellent charisma… SEDUCE THE DRAWBRIDGE!
Later into the game classes can be miss matched aka multi-classed to create nearly anything that fits your play style. I tend toward face smashing and machine gunning badasses, or minion hoarding necro-druids… all of which tendencies I can indulge with relative ease in the base multiclassing Wonderlands affords me. And should you prefer to spell sling while invisible… you are covered as well…
Outside of that it’s a similar looter shooter you know borderlands to be, follow quest markers, listen to quest voice actors quip and joke, kill the big bad at the end and then get overwhelming numbers of stuff pop from their corpse in pretty lights only to be underwhelmed that none of it fits your playstyle… but fear not, when you roll that nat 20 you can go from offhandedly fish slapping to ultimate badassery… if you have any backpack space left to carry it…
So, max out those carrying slots because you’re gonna need them. Like most games in the borderlands series I do find I spend about 20% of my playtime fiddling with my inventory… those numbers can be damned confusing, especially with even more interactions now taking place with spells, companions, arrows and more taking even more slots in the lottery of stat boosts on weapon and armour. So take your time, shoot some targets out the back of Izzy’s Fizzies and figure out what you have… and play what feels good.
While the audio created by Joshua Carro is good, it can get either repetitive in the Overworld or can very much fade so far into the background it forgets to loop and you sit there in silence… well as much silence as you can be while voice actors repeat death lines ad- infinitum/ad nauseum over the top of the sound effects of your arsenal and spells assaulting not only the enemies but your ears. I only noticed the music when it was a feature of a quest, or I heard the same riff, repeatedly. Good or bad, your choice. However, the voice acting was superb with Andy Samberg and Wanda Sykes cast as your narrative friends, the big bad Dragon Lord by Will Arnett and then further layered with veteran voice actors quipping their way throughout the game.
This is a game with more than a healthy stuffing of tabletop humour with SNL skit comedy styling. Should that not be your cup’o’tea guvnar then you will nope out fairly quickly crying cringe to the winds of suffering and the goddess annoya. But should you chuckle, giggle and gaffaw in merry mirth, you will be blessed by the table top gods with tongue in cheek humour, references to the insanity of tabletop RPG DM madness, as well as the dreaded “popular culture” references as one must in this day and age.
There is an ugly to this tale, there are glitches where inventory sprites do not load, and journals of quests disappear, but none game breaking enough that won’t be fixed by a quick reload back to the main screen (load this on the SSD should you have one). And load up with friends, not online weirdos, or you may find your characters stats maxed out and all the joy of any challenge in this game gone.
So, after finishing the final quest in Tiny Tina’s Wonderland I am left grinding for better weapons in the end game rogue lite chaos chambers, researching current metas and builds all while trying desperately to find friends to replay the side quests and main story like some junky trying to get their next fix. Desperately I start to create characters, new looks, new weapons, synergies, only to drop them the next time I load up the game to try another… only to resolve to replay the game with harder mobs, same skillset, and a grinding meta mindset.
Tiny Tina’s Wonderland was developed by Gearbox, produced by 2K Games, and is currently available on Xbox, Playstation and through the Epic Store on Windows. I bought and played through Epic on PC.
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.
Designer: Rob Heinsoo, & Cory Jones
Artist: Nick Edwards
Publisher: Cryptozoic Entertainment
Release Date: Feb 2012
Genre: Party Card Game
Are you sick of boring games involving strategy and money and stuff? Do you just want to mercilessly kill your friends over and over until you’ve asserted your dominance while cackling from your throne of broken promises? Then maybe… just maybe you’re hard enough to …
Welcome to … EPIC SPELL WARS OF THE BATTLE WIZARDS: DUAL AT MOUNT SKULLZFYRE!!! … Now where were we….
Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards is a series of games with an art style reminiscent of an evolution of Robert Crum’s work through the looking glass of Superjail and Adventure Time… think a 90s version of Adventure Time cross Mad magazine and you’re getting close. The artist is Nick Edwards and I thoroughly recommend looking him up for more of the strange. The edition we will be talking about today though is the first in the series and came out in February of 2012 … IT’S A DECADE OLD!? Yup and filled with humour suitable for all those fart gigglers out there.
Inside this hardcover box there is no board to speak of, rather a cardboard cut-out standee of Mt Skullzfyre to battle over, several last wizard standing tokens, because once you get a taste for the mighty magic duels you endure, you too will want to replay this with all the benefits that lie therein. Some skull tokens… and all the following;
- 8 EPIC wizard cards to choose your player from ranging from Pisster the Pissed Wizard, Krazztar the Blood’o’mancer to Princess Holiday and her FURICORN.
- 8 wild magic cards
- 25 dead wizard cards with 8 different effects of various rarities and benefits
- 5 different magic types
- And 25 totally different treasure cards… the ultimate powerhouse of buffs, charms, and sensual loot. And really the only strategic advantage you can get in game. So HOARD THEM LIKE YOUR LIFE DEPENDS ON IT… because it surely does.
- And lastly the cards that you will use as components to cast your epic spells of destruction of which there are 20 each of delivery, source, and quality to choose from.
Now for the bit where I run through how to play.
Choose your wizard wisely and put your skull token on your life counter (20 to start with) and deal each player 8 spell cards. From those cards you create your spell… each spell contains UP TO 3 parts. A source, quality, and delivery. And on your delivery card you have your initiative. “But I don’t have one of those” you say in your whiny baby voice. Well play what you want, I’m not your dad. If you do play less cards you get to go first with the initiative of the delivery dictating again who goes first. And if you don’t have a delivery card? You fancy pants, go last!
Now it’s time to read out your spell and rain destruction on your foes. Each component of the spell has text describing what it does, which can range from returning precious life points to your board, gaining treasures, randomised effects, treachery, or just plain old hell fire damage. And who wouldn’t want to scream epic spells into the void such as Pam and Hecuba’s Ritualistic Nuke-u-lur Meltdown, or Ben Voodoo’s Wild Magic Bedazzlement… oh yeah, wild magic. Basically, you draw cards until you find one to replace it… RANDOMNESS MAGIC! Now should your spell not contain one of those qualities fear not, create your own words to describe it, you’re the wizard after all.
After draining your foes of their life points you, oh mighty evil one, receive a last wizard standing token while they, the losers that they are, receive a dead wizard card with the attached buffs to mitigate their weaknesses when facing you. Then, like your many skeletal minions, everyone rises from the dead and resets their health pool and the war begins afresh. And you continue this until you run out of energy to manically laugh at your foes as you grind them beneath your heel.
This is one of the few games I regularly get out at gatherings because there is little to no strategy to winning, and losing gets you buffs to balance and give you the win in the next round. So I would call this more of a social game and advise you to leave your ‘must win’ feelings in the strategy game box where it belongs. So just have some fun and to make it extra special, a personal favourite home rule of mine is to choose a role-playing voice and go hard for the whole game (thanks Wil Wheaton).
The crazy visuals, names and pure randomness make this very enjoyable and with other settings and new mechanics introduced in stand-alone expansions, Dual at Mt. Skullzfyre is a great place to start your journey with Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards.
Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Dual at Mt. Skullzfyre was created by Cory Jones, Designed by Rob Heinsoo and published by Cryptozoic Entertainment.
This week Maylee leads Peter and Cam through the week in Gaming News. Cam wonders the future of Mario while reviewing Super Mario Bros Wonder and Rani reaches high and talks climbling in a review of Jusant.
Bobby Kotick Is Gone
The now-former CEO of Activision Blizzard has officially stepped down now that the 2023 year has ended and the acquisition by Microsoft proceeds. He won’t be the only executive-level employee leaving, with more expected to depart as the transition process develops. Otherwise, the leadership teams for Activision Publishing and Blizzard will remain in place.
The now-vacant CEO spot won’t be filled, and instead executives will report directly to Matt Booty, President of Microsoft Game Content and Studios.
Minecrafters, Grab Your Picks…
If you forgot that there was a Minecraft movie on the way, well, here’s your reminder. And now you also know that Jack Black, who has played Bowser in the Super Mario Bros. Movie, will be starring as the main man himself, Minecraft Steve. You may also know Jack Black from a few other films. The movie will be directed by Jared Hess, known for Nacho Libre, and Napoleon Dynamite.
Jason Momoa had reportedly been in negotiations to voice Minecraft Steve last year.
The Minecraft movie has been in development since 2014, while filming began in December 2023. It is scheduled to release in early April, 2025, meaning it will have been in development for 10-ish years. It hasn’t been the smoothest journey for the movie, as a few directors have dropped out, and the initial release date of May 24th, 2019 obviously not working out.
The Mouse Is OUT!
And a horror game has already been created within 24 hours of ‘Steamboat Willie’ entering the public domain. The game, called Infestation 88, has a terrifying depiction of the mouse hunting the player down in a spooky warehouse.
Disney is rather infamous for its heavy-handed approach to protecting its copyright, as the company has been reported to discourage a stonemason from carving Winnie-the-Pooh into a child’s gravestone. In fact, Steamboat Willie was initially set to enter the public domain in 1984, but the company lobbied US copyright laws to extend to “the life of the author plus 50 years”.
Now that the fated day has finally arrived, along with Infestation 88, a horror movie has been announced, as well as NFTs created, dubstep remixes mixed, and just generally making the mouse do things that Disney definitely wouldn’t approve of.
The 2023 Steam Awards
Let’s round up another round of awards! The Steam Awards is pretty straightforward, nominate your favourite games and then vote for them! Games also can’t win more than two categories.
Sit Back and Relax went to Dave the Diver, and the Labour of Love Award was granted to Red Dead Redemption 2.
Better With Friends went to Lethal Company, and Most Innovative Gameplay went to Starfield.
Outstanding Story-Rich Game and Game of the Year goes to Baldur’s Gate 3.
Some News Nibbles
Peanut Butter, a shiba inu, will be participating in Awesome Games Done Quick, a charity speedrunning event. He is probably the first dog to get into speedrunning video games, and he will be beating Gyromite in front of an audience.
The PlayStation 5 has officially passed 50 million units, managing to sell 10 million units in the latter half of 2023.
Square Enix has expressed a desire to apply AI technology ‘more aggressively’ to create ‘new forms of content’ for consumers, with Square Enix president, Takashi Kiryu stating “I believe that generative AI has the potential not only to reshape was we create, but also to fundamentally change the processes by which we create, including programming”.
And now for some upcoming game releases!
- War Hospital – PC, PS5, XBX
That’s it for game releases. You have a week to work through your backlog before games start getting released again.