Hot Lava Gameplay and Impressions

A while ago i reviewed the first person platformer ClusterTruck, and i rather loved it. One of the main reasons that game worked is becuase it compensated for the inherent weaknesses of first person platforming. You were often asked to make a lot of tricky jumps, but the semi-trucks you were using as platforms weren’t exactly calling for a whole lot of precision. You weren’t asked to land on a dime, and with each truck being the same size you grew to get a feel for how much space you had and would need.

If anything, i think that might just kill Hot Lava here. There’s a pretty long section here where the person has to keep doing the same bit over again becuase becuase the platforms are really small and first person platforming is still kind of shit. I can easily see that becoming a major point of frustration if it persists though out the game.

I’m interested to see how this one turns out, but i’d be lying if i didn’t say my expectations are on the low end as of right now.

Still Time Trailer and Impressions

Time manipulation is an interesting power. It can ease tension when it comes to trial and error (ala Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time), but it can also be the bases of some truly genius puzzle design (like Braid). But it can also be a lazy “get out of jail free” card like in…well, almost every action game with a slowmo mechanic. I didn’t say “bad”, mind you, i said “lazy. There’s a difference.

Still Time is clearly aiming for that “genius puzzle design” category, and i’d be interested to see how it does. This trailer doesn’t really show off anything too unexpected, but that makes sense as the dev wouldn’t want to give away their best idea’s. But when the games looks this good and as much time and effort clearly went into making the trailer it’s hard to not want to give the game the benefit of the doubt.

 

Ink Comes to Consoles Next Month

I’m not sure why the 2015 platformer Ink is suddenly coming to consoles, but it is. Whatever the reason, this is pretty great news becuase Ink was freaking phenomenal. The game was surprisingly challenging and a little too short in my opinion, but i still thoroughly enjoyed it. If you’re looking for a platformer with an interesting set of core mechanics, i can absolutely recommend Ink. And hey, maybe if you buy it i’ll get the sequel I’ve been wanting for ages now.

Yacht Club to Unveil King Knight DLC at Pax West

I. Fucking. Love Shovel Knight.  The work Yacht Club has done has been consistently pronominal. The fact that most of it has been free is one of the most beautiful gestures in gaming history. They could have easily charged and other $15 for both previous prices of DLC and i would have happily paid it. While i can’t yet say the same holds true for the upcoming King Knight DLC, the dev team has at least earned the benefit of the doubt in my book. While King Knight wasn’t exactly my favorite of the games bosses, i very much doubt they would have picked him for an expansion if they couldn’t do something interesting with him.  Sadly i wont be able to try the game out at Pax West becuase…well, i’m poor. So very, very poor.  If you go, feel free to tell me what you think. I can’t wait to see what the team does here.

And If you’re interested, here are all my reviews for the franchise so far (warning, the first two are old and not very good….)

Shovel Knight 

Plague of Shadows

Specter of Torment

Indie Darling Bleed Coming to PS4 and Xbox One

Bleed and it’s sequel two of the best surprises I’ve played since i started reviewing games. They’re both a bit on the short end, but they are both marvelous little games. And luckily for you, if you missed the game when it was regionally released for the Xbox 360’s Xbox Live Indie Games service and don’t have a computer, next month the original game will be coming to both the PS4 and Xbone One. Xbox owners will even get a 20% discount if they pre-order the game.  If you’re in the market for a really good action platformer that you can get on the cheap, i can’t recommend Bleed enough.

And if you want to read my review for Bleed 2, you can do that HERE.

Talent Not Included coming to the Xbox One next month.

I reviewed Talent Not Included back in November. While mine was apparently one of the harsher reviews it received, i did enjoy my time with it well enough. The game wasn’t life changing or anything, but it was fun enough to recommend if you’re in the mood for a platformed and have already blazed through the new Shovel Knight expansion (which i also reviewed). I don’t really have a hole lot to say about this one, just wanted to bring it to your attention.

Dispersio Review

By William Shelton

Release Date: December 1, 2016

Systems: PC

Developer: Achpile

Publisher: Achpile

Rating: N/A

Obtained By: Gift from Indie Gamer Chick (she wanted me too suffer with her)

Dispersio is kind of like BDSM gone wrong: it’s demanding nature and punishing difficulty should get me all excited, but poor level design and some truly stupid decisions had me calling out “red” way too often. It took me 93 minuets to beat the game’s first level. Part of that was because of the Dispersio’s intended challenge and retro sensibilities. Part of it was novice level design that added unneeded frustration. And part of it was the fact that there is no in-game way to check the controls, forcing new players to quit out to the main menu to learn how to play and then forcing them to redo the opening level. Dispersio isn’t good, but it is an interesting kind of bad. Much like Volchaos I did find myself oddly compelled by the game, but the pay off to frustration ratio simply isn’t worth the effort most of the time.

The games story is that at some point in the future the Earth blows up, leaving behind only a few themed asteroids that hold treasures from the old earth. Why these asteroids also give the player character level-specific powers is never brought up. Frankly, once you get past the tutorial level (the one that took me over an hour to beat) the story isn’t ever brought up again. At least not in what I could be bothered to play through. It’s hard to have a real opinion about that fact though. On one hand I do really like post-earth/post-human sci-fi and would like to get some more of it. On the other hand, the story clearly wasn’t going to do much with the set-up, and from what we got it’s clear that any addition probably wouldn’t have been that great to begin with. While it was nice of the developer to quit while they were ahead, that doesn’t make up for a dull and uninteresting story.

But, I’ve always said that a bad story doesn’t necessarily make a bad game. Gameplay is king after all. So long as that’s good the game can still be worth your time. Unfortunately, Dispersio drops the ball here too. The game aspires to be a difficult retro-style platformer, which is normally right up my alley. I do get a certain, almost sexual, satisfaction from taming and mastering bratty…..I think I got off topic. I like a challenge, is what I’m saying. There’s just something magical about overcoming insurmountable odds. And to the games credit, at its best Dispersio comes close to giving me that fix. In the three levels I played to completion, the game only reached its best once. One room, just one single screen in three levels, did the game ever live up to its full potential.

7
Ladies and Gentlemen, i give you: the one good room in the game

Dispersio single biggest issue is the level design. While the game usually does do a good job communicating where the player needs to go and what needs to be avoided, the levels often make most of the challenge stem from compensating for the odd lay outs. Platforms are usually placed in such a way that jumping from one to another often ends with the character colliding with a third platform. Typically, this will send the character into another danger, killing them instantly and forcing them back to the last check point. So not only do you have to find the exact pixel to leap from so other platforms don’t interfere with your jumps, you then have to deal with the timing of gunshots or enemy patters in order not to make contact with them upon landing. That wouldn’t be so bad if the game played a bit faster, but the character moves at a more leisurely and plotting pace. It’s almost like Mario being placed in Super Meat Boy.

6
You will hit the roof jumping from block to block, landing either on the spikes or on top of an incoming bullet.

Not helping matters is the fact that the game only saves upon completing a level. And I don’t just mean saves game progress, I mean it doesn’t save anything until you beat the tutorial. If you reconfigure the controls and the game crashes on you, you have to reconfigure them again upon restarting the game. And would you like to know how I found that out? The dev told Cathy and me over Twitter because we were complaining that the game wasn’t saving. That’s right folks! Important information about the game is not told to you in the game. Lack of information is another real issue Dispersio has.

Like I said earlier, there’s no in-game way to check the controls. I had to quit out a few times to learn how to actually play the fucking thing, and had to start from the beginning again. The checkpoints don’t stand out enough upon first glance and can easily be missed. So if you go in trying to play it safe you can end up playing long sections repeatedly before the game forces you to hit one to teach you what they are.

4
That gold bit: that’s the first checkpoint. You have no real reason to go in that direction.

 

Checkpoint placement is also frustrating. The dev clearly knows that adding checkpoints after a hard section is good to do, but they tend to be in the same screen as the challenge you just beat. So you regularly have to go through a part of the previous screen to get back to the area were you died. I know that doesn’t sound too bad, but in practice it felt like needless busywork between deaths. And other times they’re so close together it’s like the dev is overcompensating for that fact. In one of the easiest rooms of the game there are four check points. Two at the top and two at the bottom, one set literally being on the same platform.

1
Nothing in the room required 4 checkpoints

I used the phrase “novice level design” in my opening, and I really do think that’s the best way to sum up Dispersio. Hell, the game is the only thing on the developer’s Steam page, so I’m pretty sure this is his first game. It is painfully subpar, but it shows that the developer has some creative energy. That energy needs to be refined and worked on, but it’s there. I’m sure as shit not going to give the game any points for that, It looks like crap, sounds even worse and plays like ass and proves once again that “user reviews” are completely useless with its “positive” sitting on Steam. Dispersio is a total failure, but it is an interesting one. It’s Tommy Wiseau in indie game form.

scores