NOTE: The Ninja Smasher! segment in the above video begins at 1:03:27!
First Impression articles are based entirely upon the first roughly 30 minutes of gameplay and may not necessarily be indicative of the game as a whole. This includes the score at the end.
Even though simplicity is often a good thing, Ninja Smasher! feels a bit too simplistic for its own good. An otherwise satisfying combat system quickly wears thin in the face of bland level design and painfully low difficulty. (more…)
I knew I would probably like Hollow Knight from the start, but I was not at all prepared for it to resonate with me as much as it did. With the release of Bleed 2 last month and with virtually guaranteed heavy hitters like Iconoclasts and La-Mulana 2 on the horizon, 2017 is an incredibly exciting year for indie games, yet Hollow Knight may very well end up as my favorite game of the year. With a massive world to explore, an outright ridiculous number of secrets, a combat system which manages to feel extremely fluid while giving each and every attack a sense of weight, and an atmosphere which seamlessly combines some good old-fashioned Dark Souls gloom with lighthearted humor, this is one experience which is far from empty. (more…)
Project Adventure Game is a rather challenging Metroidvania which pays tribute to the nostalgic games of the past as well as to the Game Maker engine itself. It has some rough spots and the difficulty level is more of a ‘U’ than a curve, but it also has an interesting, often methodical feel to its progression and gameplay. (more…)
Soldexus is a rather old indie game at this point and it doesn’t do anything particularly innovative for a Metroidvania, but it also probably deserves more credit than it has gotten. The main character, Ian, must make his way through a haunted castle to defeat its owner, gaining various passive upgrades and special abilities along the way. You actually gain access to both the double jump and a wall run near the start of the game, which allows Ian to become a surprisingly mobile protagonist. The only weapon you have access to is a sword, but upgrades later in the game expand Ian’s moveset and your slash is able to be charged up to create a strong slash which gains increased range based on how many attack upgrades have been found.
As far as issues go, there are two in particular worth noting. First, the beginning is far too difficult compared to the rest of the game as Ian will die in two or three hits to virtually anything on top of not having much in terms of mobility or offense of his own. Secondly, warp rooms exist, but save points are far too spread out so it’s easy to lose a decent chunk of progress upon death. On the plus side of things, backtracking through old areas doesn’t feel tedious because enemies throughout the castle gradually upgrade to stronger versions as the game goes on. Boss fights are also quite good and most of them require players to pay close attention to brief tells they give before launching attacks in order to successfully dodge and counter. Overall, Soldexus isn’t going to blow anyone away, but it’s still a solid Metroidvania worth checking out.
What video game franchise could possibly embody the spirit of Halloween better than The Legend of Zelda? Well, probably Castlevania for one, so it’s a good thing someone decided to combine the two! Yes, it’s an indie fangame which combines elements of two of my favorite franchises and it’s even made in Zelda Classic, a rather impressive game engine which deserves an article of its own one day. Sticking a character from one game into stages and general locations from another is nothing new, but Link Stuck in Castlevania is impressive both for how far it pushes the Zelda Classic engine itself and for how far it takes the experience.
Things start out a bit slow with Link going through some fairly linear and simplistic zombie and bat-filled hallways resembling the start of the original NES version of Castlevania, but this mediocre pace doesn’t last for long. Link can break bricks and shatter candles to quickly gain access to all sorts of upgrades from both worlds, including hearts, maximum health increases, potions, maps, subweapons belonging to both him and the Belmonts, and even those blocks with Roman numerals which allow more subweapons to be on the screen simultaneously. The early stages mostly stick to layouts resembling those found in their equivalent stages in Castlevania, but later levels become increasingly creative with looping hallways, puzzles, hidden rooms, and less blatantly linear layouts. Once you get the warp whistle in Stage 2 you can also freely travel back to previously completed stages to hunt for any missed items or upgrades and the stages themselves even have one-way warps serving as a sort of fast travel service. Stairs can be troublesome as it can be difficult to tell when you’re officially ‘off’ of a staircase and far more than once I ended up walking back down some stairs while trying to move left or right and most bosses are on the underwhelming side of things (the first boss can even fly out of the room and force you to reset the fight), but the later stages, and especially the large final area, easily make up for any shortcomings. Link Stuck in Castlevania is a great crossover for fans of Belmonts and Hyrulian heroes alike which goes to great lengths to combine strengths from both series and to blend the nostalgic confines of the corridors of Dracula’s castle with new and unexpected twists and surprises.