Quick Reviews 9

Inside: OVERWHELM, Islets, Moonlight Pulse, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

OVERWHELM
Action Platformer

A horroresque action platformer where you infiltrate a den of monsters and everything gets worse every time you beat a boss. You die in one hit and enemies appear randomly, so everything is extremely tense. It also has an interesting mechanic where beating a boss is only half the challenge of the area; you then have to bring the MacGuffin back to your base while navigating past the new and improved enemies, which in many cases is actually harder than the boss fight itself.

I found it decently engaging, but unfortunately it decided save points are for losers and if you die you have to start over from the beginning, which is just tedious and frustrating padding. This is especially bad when the level layout is fixed so you don’t get any variety there like you would in roguelikes, but enemy spawns are random so you still can’t be fully prepared. On the one hand I respect the obvious intent to prevent you from getting too complacent, but on the other hand it is really frustrating to trip at the finish line because a bug jumped into me from offscreen.

Islets
Metroidvania

A Metroidvania about exploring five different islands that eventually connect together into one big island. I expected there to be a puzzle element to this where you would be required to figure out the correct configuration to arrange the islands, but they just link up automatically, so it’s more like you’re just assembling a standard Metroidvania map piece by piece. It was generally enjoyable, but — and maybe this is just because I’ve honed my skills too much — I found it very easy. Only the early game gave me any significant challenge, as the power creep is quite extreme. Every combat upgrade is about equivalent to one of Hollow Knight’s charms, but while Hollow Knight restricted how many charms you could use at once, here they all stack, resulting in absolutely game-breaking combos by the end. (The “enemies explode on death” one is particularly good at producing chain reactions that can clear entire groups of enemies in no time flat.)

Moonlight Pulse
Metroidvania

Another Metroidvania by the creator of Vision Soft Reset (reviewed previously). This time, you play as a team of characters who live inside a giant world turtle they must defend from parasites. If you know me well you will know this is a concept that pushes all of my buttons. However, I don’t think it does as much as it could with the premise; the only time biology is really integrated into the world design is that blood vessels serve as your fast travel networks, and it’s otherwise functionally the same as most Metroidvanias. I also didn’t find it as mechanically creative as Vision Soft Reset, since character switching is a more standard mechanic and it doesn’t do anything too unusual with the concept. It did a great job of making every character have a distinct feel and playstyle, though. Overall it’s still a really fun experience and I’d recommend it.

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
Walking Sim/Puzzle

Two brothers must go on a quest to retrieve a magic elixir from the tree of life to save their dying father. There is no explicit dialogue (everyone speaks in Simlish), so the story is primarily told through actions and environmental details. Its most notable feature is probably the control scheme: You are probably expecting it to be a character-switching puzzler, but you control both brothers simultaneously, each with one half of the controller. Being an artsy indie game, you can probably guess the twist on this: the older brother dies at the end and for the final level you have to use his buttons to allow the younger brother to take actions he previously couldn’t do on his own. Despite being very predictable, I still found it an effective means of gameplay/story integration. The environments were also quite nice, and genuinely spooky too in the back half; I particularly enjoyed the black comedy of crudely pushing giant corpses off cliffs because they were in the way. The game overall isn’t terribly groundbreaking, but it does well at what it set out to do.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *