Reviews

Ruin of the Reckless Review – A Stab ‘Em Up Dungeon Crawler | n3rdabl3 - Roguelikes have really taken off in the last five or so years, owing much to the success of games like Spelunky and Rogue Legacy, etc. Now it seems that every other game coming out on the indie scene is some form of roguelike. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of the genre and still…
Rain World Review – Discovery and Wonder Tinged With Frustration | n3dabl3 - I’ve developed something of a love-hate relationship with survival platformer Rain World. First I loved it, then I hated it, now I’m kinda back to loving it again. It’s a game that can sometimes frustrate just as much as it enthrals and mesmerises, let down by some finicky controls and one or two questionable design…
Blackwood Crossing Review – An Immersive Tale of Childhood Siblings and Loss | n3rdabl3 - Nostalgia is big business these days, especially in the wonderful world of indie gaming. But nostalgia is by nature incredibly selective. We remember and cherish the good stuff, but conveniently gloss over the not so good or someone how convince ourselves that things were better than the really were. This couldn’t be truer than when…
Thimbleweed Park Review – Relive the Glory Days of the Adventure Game | n3rdabl3 - Thimbleweed Park is very much a game built around nostalgia. Nostalgia for the ‘80s and ‘90s, nostalgia for period films and TV shows, nostalgia for vintage computers, nostalgia for 2D point and clickers. And it is no coincidence that it’s set in 1987. This was the year the seminal Maniac Mansion arrived on Commodore 64,…
DESYNC Review – Unrelentless Neon Carnage | n3rdabl3 - There has been a bit of a thing within the indie scene as of late for uber-hard retro-stylised games. Most tend to be roguelikes, 2D platformers or top-down shooters – the likes of Butcher, Hotline Miami, Enter the Gungeon and Salt and Sanctuary, etc. With the neon-drenched DESYNC, The Foregone Syndicate have instead opted, somewhat…
Herald: An Interactive Period Drama – Book I & II Review | n3rdabl3 - The republic versus monarchy debate has long been a divisive and hotly-debated issue in the UK, and no doubt will rage on for many years to come. But what if Oliver Cromwell’s legacy had survived and the Restoration never happened? How different would the modern era be? Well, that’s basically the premise behind Herald: An…
Night in the Woods Review | n3rdabl3 - At first glance Night in the Woods looks like a typical cutesy 2D platformer, but it’s not really. So if you’re looking for lots of action or puzzle solving, then this is probably not for you. It’s a more game about hanging out with friends and dealing with change. A sort of interactive coming-of-age story…
Memoranda Review | Gaming Respawn - Mizuka is a young woman who keeps forgetting her name. She hasn’t slept for 17 days – the invisible old sailor living next to her bed won’t let her. A runaway circus elephant wants to be human. He’s hiding out in a cabin with a man who has lost his wife over his obsession with…
The Bitmap Brothers: Universe Review | Gaming Respawn - Few outfits are more synonymous with the glory days of the Commodore Amiga and Atari ST than The Bitmap Brothers. Their games were slick and polished, highly addictive, made great use of sound and music, and featured amazing artwork. There was always an air of cool and mystery about them. Indeed, violent future-sports simulator Speedball…
Killing Floor 2 Review | Gaming Respawn - After 18 gore-splattered months Tripwire Interactive’s co-op zombie shooter, Killing Floor 2, has officially come out of early access on PC and launched for the first time on PS4. For the uninitiated, KF2 is the follow up to the impressively successfully Killing Floor, an indie PC game that has gone on to sell around three…
Pavilion Review | Gaming Respawn - Aside from the sumptuous hand-crafted visuals and a soft spot for unusual puzzlers, I was drawn to Pavilion by the intriguing blurb, which describes the game as a “fourth-person puzzle adventure”. Turns out that’s not as pompous or as nebulous as it first sounds, particularly if you’re familiar with god games such as Populous or…
Butcher Review | Gaming Respawn - I think you know what you’re getting yourself into with a game that proudly declares, “The easiest mode is HARD.” Of course, the question is, is it fun hard or punch-the-desk-then-rage-quit hard? Luckily for my sanity and the furniture in my man cave, Transhuman Designs’ Butcher largely falls into the former category. Logically then, the…
A Gremlin in the Works Book Review | Gaming Respawn - I was quite young at the time, but one of the things indelibly etched on my mind from the days of owning a Speccy and an Amstrad, aside from screechy loading sounds, is the Gremlin Graphics logo. The bold green design, slanted rainbow and futuristic 3D lettering seemed to jump out at you from the…
Dustbowl Review | Gaming Respawn - Despite their well-documented flaws, I absolutely love the S.T.A.L.K.E.R games. As a series it certainly ranks among my all-time favourites and for some time now I’ve been seeking a worthy spiritual successor to the rich, mysterious and bleakly atmospheric world of the Zone. At last, I think I’ve finally found one, though little did I…
Ian’s Eyes Review | Gaming Respawn - It’s Ian’s first day at his new school, and things are not going well at all. He’s just not fitting in with the other students. But that’s because he’s blind and they’re all zombies intent on eating his delicious bbbbrrrrraaaaiiiiinnnnnsssss. Something to do with a slideshow they all watched at a presentation in the gym.…
Zombie Night Terror Review | Gaming Respawn - Zombies, love ‘em or loathe ‘em, there’s no denying they’re everywhere these days. Personally, I’m becoming increasingly ambivalent. While I initially appreciated the undead renaissance of recent years, it is starting to feel more than a little done to death as a genre. And no place is this truer than in the world of video…
From Bedrooms to Billions: The Amiga Years Review | Gaming Respawn - The 1980s saw the coming and going of a staggering number of home computer platforms, many now long since forgotten. I should know, we owned a fair few of them. But if you ask a European of around my age what their favourite system from this era was, chances are they’ll say it was the…
Enter the Gungeon Review | Gaming Respawn - I don’t think I’ve ever played a game that manages to be so insanely addictive yet as frustratingly difficult as Enter the Gungeon. Despite countless deaths, frequent self-flagellation for stupid mistakes, and having only made it to level 4 a couple of times, I somehow keep coming back for more and more. Enter the Gungeon…
Excubitor Review – Gaming Respawn - Though I used to enjoy playing the scrolling shoot ‘em ups that dominated the gaming scene in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I always found them quite tough and usually sucked at the boss fights. Oh yeah, and some of them used to be pretty hard going on the old thumbs if you didn’t…
Left Alone Review | Gaming Respawn - Volumetric Games’ Left Alone is one of the latest in a steady stream of horror games to emerge from the burgeoning indie scene. Much like many of the up-and-coming film directors did back in the 1970s and 1980s, it seems that nowadays a lot of indie game developers are choosing to cut their teeth in…
Phantasmal: City of Darkness Review | Gaming Respawn - I’m a sucker for a decent horror game, especially ones that combine an intriguing setting with interesting mechanics and an immersive atmosphere. Throw in a bit of Lovecraft and I’m pretty much sold. Inevitably then, I was drawn to Phantasmal: City of Darkness when I saw it left Steam early access last month. Developed by…
Artcade – The Book of Classic Arcade Artwork Review | Gaming Respawn - Growing up in a British coastal town during the 1980/90s, much of my youth (and pocket money) was misspent in the video game arcades that lined the seafront. Of course, my mates and I had consoles and home computers, but these never quite captured the excitement of the coin-op experience. Coin-op versions were simply faster,…
Dead Secret Review – Gaming Respawn - If you’ve ever wondered what Silent Hill or Resident Evil would look like reimagined as a first-person point-and-click murder mystery, then you need look no further than indie game Dead Secret. Originally released back in November for the Samsung Gear VR, it’s now available on Steam in desktop format for those of us not yet…
Day of the Tentacle Remastered Review – Gaming Respawn - I come into this review from a slightly unusual position. I’m a massive fan of old school point-and-click adventures and I absolutely loved Maniac Mansion and the Monkey Island games (well the first two anyway), yet up until this point I’d never played the much-revered Day of the Tentacle. Oh I wanted to, but LucasArts…
Sensible Software 1989-1999 – Book Review and Retrospective – Gaming Respawn - Like most Amiga enthusiasts, Sensible Software hold a very special place in my heart. Cannon Fodder, a master class in level design that seethes with cynicism and irony about war, is one of my all-time favourite games. And I love the genre-defying Wizkid with its silly humour and off-the-wall antics, while in more recent years…
Hitman Review – Gaming Respawn - Second Opinion GR Writer Steve Gill Says… I’ve always been a huge fan of the Hitman games. Yet, if Blood Money was the pinnacle, then Absolution was the low point for me. In one game it went from superbly-crafted murder sandbox to a fairly generic story-driven stealth/actioner that had more in common with Splinter Cell.…
Gaming Respawn – XCOM 2 Review - If I had to devise a list of my top 10 all-time favourite games, then UFO: Enemy Unknown (aka XCOM: UFO Defense) would undoubtedly be somewhere near the top. Originally released in 1994 for PC and Amiga, it’s arguably one of the greatest strategy games ever made and has rarely been matched since in scope…
Hitman – impressions from playing the beta - I’ve always been a huge fan of the Hitman games. Though perhaps that’s because I regularly fantasise about infiltrating swanky establishments and murdering the rich and powerful in ironic ways while disguised as a [recently deceased] janitor. Yet, instead of being excited about upcoming sequel, simply known as Hitman, I’m rather apprehensive. Why is that,…
Britsoft: An Oral History – book review - Oh the 1980s was a fun time in Britain – IRA bombings, miners’ strikes, riots, the Falkland’s War, recession and sky-high unemployment. Not that I was aware of any of that because I was far too busy losing myself in the fledgling medium of the video game (and it all went over my head because…
Satellite Reign – final review - Satellite Reign is an isometric open-world real-time strategy (RTS) game that pays homage to the Syndicate games of the 1990s. I wrote an optimistic first impressions piece back in February, but now it’s time for my final verdict. Combining the aesthetics of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner with the themes of William Gibson’s Neuromancer, Satellite Reign…
Fallout 4 – have Bethesda finally nailed it? - War. War never changes. And not much changes with regards to Bethesda’s approach to making ambitious open-world role-playing games (RPGs). Good news if you loved the previous two instalments of the Fallout franchise or their fantasy RPG Skyrim (2011). The bad news is that many of the problems that plagued those games still persist. After…
Commodore Amiga: a visual Commpendium - The Amiga was a massive part of my teenage life. In the early 90s we had a Sega Mega Drive, a Sinclair ZX Spectrum and an Amstrad CPC, but I was always far more interested in my mate’s Amiga 500 – the graphics and sound were gorgeous, the games intoxicating and he seemed to have…
Killing Floor 2 Early Access – let’s rock! - Killing Floor is somewhat of an enigma. On first encounter, you’d be forgiven for writing it off as just another brain dead zombie survival FPS. There’s no denying the repetitive gameplay, graphics that were dated on release, clichéd monsters (known as zeds/specimens), hammy voice acting, cringeworthy jokes, generic metal soundtrack, and a clunky and buggy…
Hotline Miami – is it really that clever or subversive? - It’s mostly pure coincidence that I wandered straight from playing Syndicate (see previous article) to the 2012 indie game Hotline Miami, but there’s certainly a connection between the two, even if only tenuous. They’re both unapologetically violent, both force you to commit murder for dubious reasons and both invite comparisons to GTA. Hotline Miami, is…
Satellite Reign – first impressions - I’ve been dreaming of murderous cyborgs, dystopian futures and electric sheep of late. Twilight cheese binges and far too much Syndicate (obviously I’m referring to Bullfrog’s 1993 classic, not EA’s blasphemous 2012 reboot) is a lethal combination, but it’s all been in the name of researching my previous article. And placating my inner sociopath. Oh what…
The Stanley Parable – the end is never the end - As usual I always have my finger on the pulse, so I’ve just gotten round to playing a game released over a year ago. Perusing the Steam holiday sale I came across The Stanley Parable, and having heard goods things about it, I figured I couldn’t really go wrong at £2.99. The Stanley Parable actually…
Elite: Dangerous – how is it faring post-release? - On 16 December nerd-god David Braben pushed the big red button (literally – see video below) and after a 20 year wait Elite: Dangerous (ED), the forth game of the legendary space combat/trading series, was finally released. To be honest, I’m still pinching myself – after well over a decade of seemingly foundationless rumours I’d completely…
Wolfenstein: The New Order – does killing Nazis ever get old? - Sometimes I lie awake at night wondering about how different films and video games would be if the Nazis had never come to power. For a start we’d need to find some new cardboard cut-out bad guys to serve as cannon fodder for our heroes, and I suspect a lot classically-trained British character actors would…
An introduction to Elite: Dangerous - So, as I said in a previous post, I’ve been playing a lot of the Elite: Dangerous (ED) beta, the upcoming space sim from Frontier Developments (FD). The beta will be closing on 22 November (when FD will be staging a “Premiere Event“), so I thought this would a good time to do a kind…
Elite: Dangerous – the beta so far… - I’ve been spending a fair bit of time participating in the Elite: Dangerous (ED) beta testing phase and I thought this would be a good place to start with my new gaming blog. ED is an upcoming space trading and combat sim (apparently on schedule to release by the end of 2014) from Frontier Developments…
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