Woolfe – The Red Hood Diaries

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Game: Woolfe – The Red Hood Diaries
Genre: Action, Adventure, indie, platformer
Developer: GRIN
Publisher: Rebellion
Release Date: Mar 17, 2015
Platform: PC / Windows 7
Overall rating:  5/10
Graphics: 8/10
Controls: 4/10
Level/Puzzle Design: 4/10
Sound: 6.5/10
Story: 7/10
Replay Value: 2/10
Community: N/A

In Woolfe, you take on the role of Red, as in Red Riding Hood, who is off to find the truth about the “accident” that led to her father’s early demise. I have to say I rather liked the idea of the story, the way it has a different take on a classic, expanding, and changing the world around the basic storyline; though the way it was delivered to us, with the rhyming and all was a bit… not quite to my taste.

Red Riding Hood is basically an action-y platformer in 2.5D, which means there’ll be lots of jumping, some puzzling, and some fighting.

Let me get this out there first: the keyboard controls SUCK. I was too lazy to try getting, plugging in, and configuring my controller, so I can’t comment on whether it’s better or not with it, but if you’re going to use the keyboard, don’t even bother. The keys are all over the place, the controls are uncomfortable and clunky and don’t respond too well.

Fighting in Woolfe is not really nicely dealt with either. Hit, run, hit, run. It’s boring and a bit bland, even though you gain skills as you progress through the story, it just doesn’t cut it.

The music is nice, but it can get rather repetitive. The voice acting isn’t bad, but I didn’t find it to be great either. Speaking of which, the game is kind of “heavy”, not overly good in older or lower specs PCs as it can run kind of sluggish in parts. Most of the part where you’re actively playing will work good, but the start and menu screens, as well as the cut-scenes were pretty choppy on my PC.

That said, I liked the art, it was nice and detailed, some of the areas were really beautiful, and although Red’s model wasn’t particularly cute, it offered a nice contrast with the usual “drawing” style of similar games. However, because of its 2.5D setting and the way it was handled and shaded, the art style made it hard to actually judge the depth in some areas – whether they were background or foreground. I’ve played other 2.5D games that managed to easily show you which was front and which was back, it wasn’t always quite so clear on Woolfe and sometimes I’d get stuck wondering why things weren’t working when it was just because it was on another level. This was particularly bothersome as there are some stealthy parts to the game play which were fun to play, but annoying if you misjudged the 2.5D part…

Overall, it’s a pretty average game with rather awful controls.

Do I recommend it? Meh. If I were forced to choose, I’d give it a “Yes” for the story and general looks, but be prepared to deal with horrible controls.

Never Alone – Kisima Ingitchuna

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Game: Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna)
Genre: Action, Adventure, Platformer
Developer: Upper One Games, E-Line Media
Publisher: E-Line Media
Release Date: Nov 18, 2014
Platform: PC / Windows 7
Overall rating:  7/10
Graphics: 9/10
Controls: 7/10
Level/Puzzle Design: 6/10
Sound: 9/10
Story: 9/10
Replay Value: 6/10
Community: N/A

Never Alone is an action-adventure puzzle platformer in 2.5D that will take you through a wonderful folk story told by the Iñupiat (Alaska Natives) through the ages. While I’m not familiar with the story itself, so I can’t speak for how close it is to the original or how well adapted it was, I can say it is (at least in so far as I played it) definitely a very beautiful story, with gorgeous graphics and sound effects/music to match.

Visually, the game is striking. Playing it… it leaves a lot to be desired.

In Never Alone you switch between two characters: a young girl named Nuna and an Arctic Fox, who go in search of the source of a neverending blizzard in order to stop it and save her people. The puzzles are fairly average, and the controls for the game aren’t what I would call the most comfortable ever but they are also not too bad (WASD, space, and a couple other keys)… when they work. For you see, as beautiful as the game is, the performance leaves a lot to be desired.

It took 4 levels of menu to reach the detailed video settings, and even at its lowest, it performed poorly on my computer. This is rather undesirable, particularly when your introduction to the game involves being chased by a polar bear who likes to glitch back and forth when performance falls, and having to jump lots. Failure to run from it or jump properly results in your death and having to begin from the last checkpoint. Or, you know, glitching the game and running as an invisible form until you reach the fox and then running on and on and having to restart yourself because that’s clearly getting you nowhere…

The game does have many glitches and annoyances. Walls are sometimes impossible to jump onto, the camera can become uncomfortable, the fox can become a little bit unhelpful, you may fall forever from the map, and you will die because of all of these… a lot. It’s one of those games that when it works, it’s a wonder to play for the story and visuals, but when it doesn’t you just want to flip a table and never touch it again.

Never Alone Kisima Ingitchuna Review

If you manage to get through the entire eight chapters, you will be rewarded by unlocking the entirety of a documentary on the Iñupiat. What little I managed to unlock of it looked both interesting and very well done, but as beautiful as the game was, the annoyances were much greater than my desire to watch the documentary.

All in all, for the story, looks and sounds, and the documentary, as well as the obvious interest in making more people aware of the Iñupiat, I would like to rate this game higher; but the amount of times low performance and glitches caused my death ended up bumping it down quite a bit. If you have a low specs PC I would definitely not recommend you try it. If you have a decent PC you may still get some glitches, but if you’re interested in the story, it might be worth seeing if it works.

[Early Access] Ninja Pizza Girl

 

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Game: Ninja Pizza Girl
Genre: Action, Indie, Early Access
Developer: Disparity Games
Publisher: Disparity Games
Release Date: Sept 30, 2015
Platform: PC / Windows 7
Overall rating:  9/10
Graphics: 8/10
Controls: 9/10
Level/Puzzle Design: 9/10
Sound: 9/10
Story: 8/10
Replay Value: 8/10
Community: N/A

 

Review

Disparity games brings us Ninja Pizza Girl, a platformer about Gemma, a teenager working as delivery girl at her father’s pizzeria. In between the story deals a little with self esteem, depressive moods, bullying, et all.

I was pleasantly surprised by this platformer; the graphics were actually really good (the art not quite as good, but it wasn’t bad for a cartoony style), and the performance on my lower-end PC was excellent (until you went into first person mode, more on that later). The controls were simple and comfortable, and I could pick to use either my keyboard or controller.
The music was really, really good. It was almost relaxing, and when it picked up pace it pumped up your energy enough to match, but didn’t make you nervous or stressed as some of the ‘speed’ platformers do.

The game basically consists of Gemma running and parkour/jumping through the many areas that make up this city. Along the way, and in later levels (each upping the difficulty a bit as they require more jumping and climbing) you will encounter opponent ninja delivery kids that will try to stop her and mock her. You will also be gathering various collectibles as you go (salvage, QR codes, etc) that will allow you to unlock outfits, extra goodies, and funny game modes.
The game also has a mood system (since it goes with the subject they’re going for); the worse you do on the different levels, the worse your mood gets. The worse your mood gets, the easier it is for you to collapse/fall/be unable to take the bullying. In order to improve your mood you must either buy pick-me-up items from the shop with the collectibles (games, chocolate, baths, teas… ) or new outfits (also bought with collectibles). I’m not entirely sure the message sent is right (“feel down? buy (something)!” is what it seems to say, and while it is a good way to lift your mood, it might lead to addictive behaviors on certain people, not that I actually think the average person will go out and do this obsessively, mind you), but I like the idea of the system nonetheless.

The game offers plenty of options, allowing for a highly customizable game. You can change the difficulty from really easy to really hard (by default it’s midway), the behavior of jumps, the length of time you have to finish the levels (I would have really, really loved a “timeless” option for those days I want a 0-pressure game, though) and so on. You can also use presets too if you’d rather not mess with things individually.
You can even customize how harsh you want the taunts/bullying to be, though I’m not sure why you would need this, but there you have it.

Going back to the menus, I mentioned earlier you can buy some extras. These consist of interviews, game art, and so on. It also includes “game craziness” goodies, one of which includes “first person mode”. While I loved the little option (even if I’m not a fan of first person), I do have a few things to remark about it: The drop in performance speed when playing in that mode for me was remarkable. It’s also not ‘really’ first person, since you still see the character’s head/body. (You’re basically right behind her head).In addition, the fact that the controls don’t change (you still are expected to use the left/right or a/d keys for moving forwards and changing directions) make it highly confusing and uncomfortable.
Still, I’m well aware you’re not -really- meant to play the entire game like that, so…

About the outfits you can buy, a few are repeats in color variations, and while they aren’t bad, I wasn’t overly thrilled with most of them. It would’ve been nice to see more outfit variations and either allow for a color slider to color it yourself, or simply make default colors and a wider variety.

The ambient of the city is nice, and I actually found myself liking it better when it was darker (the moodier Gemma got) than when it was brighter; not sure that was the expected outcome. It does get a little weird and slightly repetitive from time to time, but it’s not necessarily something that fully distracted me from the game itself.

There’s a last mode you can play in, “speedrun”, which includes leaderboards for those that like comparing their scores with others.

Overall I was very pleased with my playthrough of Ninja Pizza Girl, and it’s a definite recommendation from me if you like platformers.

Also, the Devs are active, supportive and helpful, which is always a plus!

Recommended:

Dustforce DX

 

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Game: Dustforce DX
Genre: Action, Indie, Platformer
Developer: Hitbox Team
Publisher: Hitbox Team
Release Date: Jan 17, 2012
Platform: PC / Windows 7
Overall rating:  9/10
Graphics: 8.5/10
Controls: 9/10
Level/Puzzle Design:10/10
Sound: 8/10
Story: 7/10
Replay Value: 7/10
Community: N/A

 

Review

Dustforce is…Dustforce is a fast paced, terribly difficult, hair pulling infuriating platformer, and I love it. I hate it, but I love it.

You’re part of the Dustforce, charged with ridding the world from… dust! Go figure, right? I had my reservations about it at first, but as it turns out, it’s a really fun platformer game. The gameplay is simple (and the keyboard controls are simple, too), yet at the same time, complicated. You clean this dust by simply touching it or smacking dusty creatures. You have jumps, double jumps, dashes, normal hit, hard hit, and a few wall and ceiling grabbing skills depending on key combinations used. This requires plenty of skills, because while you’re essentially only using like 3-4 buttons at most, you have to do so in a specific order with a specific timing in order to reach certain ledges/floors/areas. And this, my friends, is where it gets difficult.

The levels are progressively difficult, requiring you to hone your button-pressing order/timing skills in order to complete them. While you don’t have to mop away every single trace of dust, you -are- graded at the end according to your performance, and you will need the keys awarded from this to unlock certain levels. The better you do, the easier to unlock those levels. There’s only one achievement for the game (which made me lol a little).

The graphics are very nice and simple, they make the game stand out and seem pretty unique, and I really loved it. The character moves around the screen with pretty amazing fluidity, and I just love to see them dash and jump and double jump, and do all kinds of parkour-y things.

Dustforce also has a level editor for you to play around in and fiddle to your heart’s content, and you’re able to share your levels with other users.

If you’re a fan of platformers and/or difficult games, I really recommend it!
If you’re not, steer clear, it’s bound to drive you insane!