The Protagonist EX-1 Review

The Protagonist: EX-1 was published by 3Mind Games in October 2020 and is still in beta. Available on PC, Switch, PlayStation, and Xbox it is a turn-based action-adventure role-playing strategy game.

The game takes place in the year 2113E on the planet Terra. A utopia with a totalitarian society under military control. There is only one government called Council that controls the world in secrecy.  For the first time in known history, the government has an enemy that they tried to hide from society but, now they are at war with them. The government has issued an EX-1 order to eliminate all hostiles at all costs. You are a part of the team sanctioned to carry out the order. Not long after you get your papers to fly out, your team is captured and killed. You have to survive, find the rest of your teammates, and get off their ship. 

The gameplay is pretty linear. You have a guide leading you from one task to the next and you pretty much have free range to explore but, early on there isn’t much to find. The first task is to find your teammate Radical and you have no weapons so combat is melee … with a twist. You have abilities because you and your team are cyborgs or super-engineered humans. It’s not explained much early in the game. You get into your first fight pretty quick and it explains the different ways you can fight but not how to execute them so it’s pretty much trying different things and see what works. Fighting is turn-based, not my favorite kind of gameplay but it has its perks.  So right off the bat, your choices are movement, melee fighting (called MACS), putting up a shield/healing, sabotage, and hacking the enemy. So it seems the enemy is also a synthetic being. As you play through the game you gain access to more weapons like knives, grenades, handguns, and more. Sometimes you can even use the environment in your fight to your advantage.  The fighting was a little stale for me but it wasn’t hard to pick up once you figured it out. Enemies usually go down in one or two hits so fighting is pretty quick until there are multiples or the kinda miniboss you fight after meeting up with your comrade but that’s for later.

The graphics for the game were beautiful to me. The cutscenes were well placed and the commentary amongst the characters was great if not a little stereotypical. The way the characters moved was very realistic and well planned down to the hand gestures. The main characters that I got to meet while playing Angel, the captain and main protagonist the characters follow, Radical, a Scottish Knife-wielding member of the crew, and Buddy, a dog that seems to have enhancements due to experimentation. Together you fight to get yourself off this ship and back to Pilot, the voice of your savior and teammate in space. 

There is also a crafting element to the game to create weapons and enhance them to add a little more to the game and I greatly enjoyed playing with it. As you collect scrap and crafting recipes you gain more items to create in your arsenal. Of course, the item you create can only be used by the characters with that affinity. The higher your skill with the proposed weapon the better as well. Increasing your base stats gives you an edge in battle as well. The more you play the more enemies you encounter which makes you have to add strategy in more to ensure you and your team survive. So play wisely and use the strength of your team to the fullest. 

After spending time playing the game I enjoyed it but it can get better. I can’t wait to see how the game grows as it moves through its beta testing and on to the world.

DVS Game Rating 7.5/ 10 

DARQ: Complete Edition

A Feardemic Production subsidiary of The Bloober Team

Welcome to the DARQ

Begin your journey into the darkness with Lloyd, a young boy with a special talent. Lloyd has realized that he is dreaming, astral projecting himself into the deepest and darkest parts of his subconscious. To Lloyd’s misfortune, his dreams turn to nightmares… The more Lloyd tries to make sense of where he is the less everything makes sense. Try as he might Lloyd cannot wake himself from this nightmare.

Crawl through the chapters one at a time, slowly getting deeper into Lloyd’s consciousness. Things start out slow for Lloyd as he ventures forth through the tunnels of his mind. This game prominently leads with physical puzzles that you must sort out before you can move forward in the game. The dashes of horror make the puzzles more deadly and time-consuming, which could be the defining line of restarting the level.

Not only does this game contain a multitude of different puzzles, but it also reveals enemies that become a reoccurring theme within Lloyd’s mind. Turn your back for too long, and the ‘Mother’ type creature could sneak up behind you and consume you. Walk too quickly and step into the light, you’ll be shot at viciously from the dark. This game is what I would categorize as a psychological horror puzzle game. Personally, it’s one of my more favorite genres of Indie games, which are more often on PC than consoles. It truly helps DARQ stick out from the crowd, Nintendo Switch seems to be a secondary favorite outlet to Indie Developers.

This game is pretty short, maybe 4 or 5 hours of main story game play. The time has nothing on the story itself, which is both compelling and addicting. A lot of it doesn’t make sense until you’re about midway into the game, but it is very grasping.
I felt almost empty after finishing this lovely little story, as it made me want more. Surprisingly there is DLC for this game, two chapters to add on to the over all game. Joy!

DLC

In this chapter of DLC, you start off in a slender tall tower standing on an elevator platform. Unlike the main game where you had a bed to start your adventure, this chapter throws you in as soon as you hit start. Venture through the tower, unscrambling locks with heads. That’s right, heads that rock and roll. Separate from yourself, to truly find yourself. Body and mind must work together to figure these tricks out, or in DARQness you will stay. Come to terms with yourself, only then can you reach the light.
This chapter was quite short, but it was the first DLC to be added to DARQ. Hopefully, the next chapter adds a bit more content to the game as it’s still an under 5-hour game.

DLC

The Crypt. Wow. What a chapter. The second part of DLC for DARQ, this chapter adds so many more puzzles and questions. In The Crypt, the puzzles are harder than what we’ve seen so far from this game. It’s like this game went from easy mode to EXPERT in a fade to black screen. Separated from your head, you must find your way through the crypt. This chapter is heavily reliant on the ant-gravity skills you’ve acquired over your travels, as well as a keen eye. This chapter delves deep into what we’ve seen from some of Lloyd’s mysterious followers. Hide in the light from the Mannequins once again as you find your way through the DARQness.

This was an amazing Indie Dev Puzzle Horror Game. One of the best I’ve played on the Nintendo Switch.
7.5/10

El Hijo: A Wild West Tale Stealth and Mischief

El Hijo: A Wild West Tale developed by Honig Studios and Quantumfrog and published by HandyGames is an adorable adventure strategy game geared towards stealth players. The game was released December 2020 on Playstation, Xbox, Switch, Windows, and Google Stadia.

The story of the game follows a young boy who lives alone with his mother on a farm in the Wild West. One day a group of bandits burns their home to the ground and his mother takes what few possessions they have left, packs them on a horse and they leave. To protect her son she put him in a monastery and subsequently gets kidnapped by the bandits. It’s up to you as a young 6-year-old boy to escape the monastery and save your mother using stealth and the toys and items found on your journey.

If you’ve met me you know I love puzzles and this game is a puzzle in every step. There are many ways to achieve your objective and having a good strategy can be the deciding factor between freedom and getting sent back to your room. There are little things in the game to increase difficulty like engaging with the children of each level while trying to stay unseen. The further you get in the game the more challenging the game becomes and your strategy becomes very important to keep safe.

The graphics of the game were beautiful. Similar to a Saturday morning cartoon t and just as colorful. The transitions are very well done and keep you looking for more. The gameplay is simple and they give you a tutorial at the beginning to get you used to gameplay as well. Using the tools to distract watchers and to give you access to new areas and puzzles. Keeping to the shadows and using the light to your advantage to save mom.

I enjoyed playing this game and I can’t wait to complete it. I’m always trying to find a new strategy to get through each level without being seen and unlocking new scenes and areas. This game was really fun and I think it will be great to play for the entire family.

DVS Game Rating 8/10

Paradise Lost: A Melancholy Bunker

When I initially opened up this game, I honestly was not sure what I was in for. I immediately got Bioshock vibes with this steampunk, post-apocalyptical atmosphere. However, I could not imagine that the story could have such a strong impact on this title. The game started what seemed slow, only to creep in and leave a feeling of heartache and a choice that seemed almost impossible to pick what was right. Paradise Lost is an indie adventure game developed by PolyArmorous and published by All In! Games SA. You can purchase this on Playstation, Xbox, and PC for $14.99. If you don’t mind slow gameplay and love heavy story-based video games, this is the game for you. 

Image

The story takes place post World War 2, but instead of the Nazi Army of Germany losing there was no victor. Instead, the Nazis launched nuclear missiles on most of Europe leaving nothing but a wasteland. Afterward, Europe was shrouded in radiation and smoke, and it seems like all life has disappeared. You play as a survivor, a young boy named Szymon who is 12 years of age. His mother has recently passed, and all he has left is a photograph of her and a mysterious man. As the boy, you find a Nazi Bunker in hopes of finding this man, only to run into a girl named Ewa who contacts you through this mysterious technology, and strike a deal in hopes to reach your goals. However, the farther into the bunker you go, the more secrets and dark truths you uncover. The atmosphere only adds to the depressing tale of Szymon, for you have to climb, crawl, and discover all of the horrible pre-wasteland truths of the Nazi warriors and their experiments and technology. Swastikas cover the halls, documents and letters are left at every turn and desk, and there are blueprints and recorders left at various meeting rooms and lobbies alike. The more you read, and the more you listen, the more these dreadful truths come to life.

I loved this story premise, for going into this game you have no sense of self yet, and you have to read through every article and listen for dialogue to match them up with the infrequent cut scenes to put the pieces together. A lot of games struggle with storytelling when trying to make it heavily reading-based, but this game surprised me in how well they executed this. You also get to read perspectives from the fallen civilians and soldiers along the way to see how life was before everything ended. The voice acting was a bit off in terms of the German accents, but nothing that impacted the game too heavily. One other minor complaint I have is that there are only a few instances where you can choose your responses and none of them aside for your final choice matters. It would have been nice to see more instances with dialogue choices that somehow impacted the game to make it a bit more interactive. I will give a warning for players, for this game is not for the faint of heart. Due to the settings of this game, there are a lot of letters and recordings with derogatory statements, and there are actual swastikas everywhere since this is placed in a Nazi bunker.

Image

The gameplay was nothing really to write home about, but honestly, some games do not need solid gameplay to get them through. This is overall a story-based adventure that makes the game so solid. However, there are some issues I did take with it. First and foremost in any game like this, where you discover and read for more clues, I think that collectibles are insanely important to push players to want to venture more through every area they possibly can. I also would have liked to see more interaction with different tools that you would need on your adventure, for in the game you only really needed a document to get through the first area and an access card towards the end. It almost felt like the adventure went too smoothly, there was no danger or obstacles which let’s be honest if you are in a bunker that’s falling apart at the seems I expect difficulty. My last complaint is there is no sprint whatsoever, and the walking is insanely slow. I mean almost unbearable, like the original Final Fantasy 12 kind of slow. If you want players to take their time, by all means, but don’t have an angsty 12-year-old slow crawl. Overall these were minor issues, though they did impact the slow storytelling a bit the ending honestly made everything so worth it. 

Image

Overall I loved the game; though it got off to a rough start I am happy that I pushed through it. The atmosphere was beautifully designed and filled you with a sense of feeling utterly alone and helpless. Playing as Szymon was a really hard experience and strong journey, and the character was extremely well designed. Ewa was also a fantastically written character, and her overall story was probably one of the most heartbreaking scenarios that anyone could experience. This is was of the best story-driven games that I have had the pleasure of playing in a long time, and I highly recommend this game to Indie Adventure lovers of all kinds.

DVS Score: 7/10

Sir Lovelot: A Switch Review

When playing any platformer, any gamer would want a great story, maybe challenging and addicting gameplay, and great music and atmosphere. Exploring Sir Lovelot was a refreshing experience and served as a reminder on what any good platforming game should aim to be. While I wanted to love this game, it was a pretty underwhelming experience for me, and overall left me feeling disappointed. That being said there was a lot of potential for the developers to build on if they move forward with the entry. The game was developed and published by pixel.lu and Sometimes You, and can be bought on all platforms for 9.99 USD.

Sir Lovelot on Steam
https://images.app.goo.gl/jBwdNHLgq79aVYpGA

You play as a knight known as Sir Lovelot, whom takes on a quest to find the love of his life. There really is not much to the story, for you travel place to place giving damsels flowers in order to spend the night with them. Once you go through various obstacles to get these flowers and deliver them, you are then kicked out come morning and repeat this cycle. Unfortunately, this gets pretty repetitive as there really is no switch up other than a change in layout of each area, and increased difficulty and length to get to your objectives. You fight monsters and avoid various traps along your journey, such as weird ooze-like creatures, deadly plants, weird fish, stationary spikes and moving saws. I will commend the artwork for the various locations, and the backgrounds were very beautifully designed. The only issue is you would keep these similar colored backgrounds until you reached the next chapter. This would not be an issue IF you didn’t have to complete twenty different and increasingly longer areas each round before you reached your next chapter. The story basis is cute and had potential, however the execution fell short, overall causing the game to suffer a bit.

Sir Lovelot
https://images.app.goo.gl/HEk6pQcRUpF6ZSNs5

Another issue I had with the game is the gameplay itself. The game is an Indie platformer and shooter, but it lacks in actual combat and gameplay overall. You only get two actions, which is directional shooting and jumping. You can obviously climb and slide as well but as far as controls go there is not much to it. You don’t get any other special abilities, and are forced to just shoot the enemy continuously until they die which makes a fairly satisfyingly popping-like noise. This would not be a huge issue for me if there was more to the exploration and creativity of obstacles. The maps do jump up in difficulty fairly fast, which is nice but unfortunately there is not much towards exploration and strategy when you go into each area. For example, when you play Rogue Legacy you at least have a lot of exploration and get various abilities, or even playing Hallow Knight you have various bosses and a variety of cool collectibles along the way. In games like these there are endless possibilities and directions to go, with cool areas to discover. This game suffers from similarly structured obstacles and the only hidden collectibles for this game in particular are goose eggs that are hidden behind secret walls. Overall the game as I said previously had plenty of potential, but honestly in the end felt lazy and almost linear.

Sir Lovelot Review: A Bite-Sized Adventure (PS5) - KeenGamer
https://images.app.goo.gl/xxFaS6VGEKMhcUoz9

Overall it was not a terrible experience, as I did enjoy the difficulty increase, and I also loved the artwork. I just would have liked to have seen more to the combat, exploration and obstacles. I also feel like the game would have benefitted more with a cooler change of scenery and more directions to travel. That would have made the game feel less linear, and leave you feeling less stuck with each level change. The game also did not create that same addictive, adventurous feeling like most other platformers give you, if anything it just made me feel like I wanted to get through the game almost as if it were a burden. I wanted to complete this game, but unfortunately I felt no desire to return after spending a couple days on it. I can honestly recommend this game for those where a bargain price point is important and just want to economically kill time, but for those who don’t mind spending a little more and love to explore there are far better recommendations. That being said, it’s not a bad game by any means, it just leaves much to be desired in a platformer.

DVS Score: 4/10

Layers Of Fear 2

DVS Gaming Video Game Review

Layers Of Fear, horror, and suspense wrapped into a dingy dark video game. If you had played the first Layers Of Fear game, that was released in 2016, then you have no clue what’s about to crawl out of the corners of the second installment in the series. Unlike most horror game series that tend to follow the same story through-out the multi-game series, Layers of Fear brings you story upon story without looking back. There are very few things similar to LoF2 to its predecessor. Both games brought to you by Bloober Gaming, which sets an example for how far they’ve come from the original planning and testing of Layers Of Fear. Thanks to GunMedia, the second installment of Layers Of Fear is polished and curated to make the experience even more indulging. As Layers Of Fear started as an ”Indie Game” in 2016, their studio has grown and made possible this amazing horror.

Darkness Wrapped in a Mystery

As is with most horror, music and atmosphere truly make the game. If one is lacking, then surprise and deceit can be seen from chapters away. Yet if it’s drenched in mystery and soaked with fear, the smallest of shadows can send one spiraling into fear. Layers Of Fear 2 truly built upon their strongest points. Between the lighting in the game, the music and the sense of never-ending mystery, this game offered more within its first chapter than most horror movies do in their entirety. Shadows played against the light in perfect tandem to the madness building in your mind, making you second guess what you thought was real. What you thought was your story, has changed again and again into a dark hallway with the stories of those who have been trapped on board…

The Candyman Comes To Play…

Welcome onboard the ship…this is where actors come to play, to cry, to die. The 1930s style suite you landed in offers no help to your confusion. You were told to come for a play, yet you’ve found no stage nor any scripts. Just the lone phonograph taunting you with a steel cylinder used to record sound. You’ll find yourself enthralled with the amount of history in the suite; the art, the photos, the music… The Voice. As you move through the game, exploring more of the ship, finding out that the play is to be conducted as realistically as possible. With no interruptions from the crew or any other passengers, you have full right of the ship. As the evening goes on, and you have finally come to find that you are alone in this play, a voice can be heard. First quietly, almost taunting you into the next chapter of the game. A familiar, immediately frightening voice peers through the crashing waves against the ship. CandyMan… Otherwise known as Tony Todd, is the voice narrator of this game which only adds to the intense darkness of ‘Layers of Fear 2’.

Welcome to The Show

This Ship Is Not For The Weak

Tony Todd’s voice lulls you into a false sense of darkness, as Tony does, slowly making you comfortable with the horror you are about to experience. Tony does well introducing the story to you, leaving you alone in silence just as the ship starts to turn. Chapter after chapter, the stories being written scratch at the back of your mind. Shadows play in the halls, dancing in and out of rooms causing you to follow them as curiosity is one of mankind’s weaknesses. Layers of Fear uses your own inability to quell the curiosity, to lure you further into the story. The ship continues to toss and buoy in the oceans drift, this being shown by small glimpses to the deck, or through portholes along the hallways. As you move through the chapters, the darkness starts to illuminate more than just some monsters waiting to pop out of the dark.

The ship, previously thought to be empty had signs of children and crew on the levels where you were told to explore. Stories unfold, sadness and evil coming together binding upon the ship, trapping all those who enter its chambers. The food you had walked by, has now become rotten with time. Spiderwebs stretch across the halls and rooms as far as the eye can see. Parts of the ceiling had collapsed, giving the actor a clear sense of madness as the rooms continued to change. To escape your own madness, you’ll have to piece together clues that surround you with every step, every word of the stories told to you.

The Calming Seas

Can you tell the difference between reality and make-believe?

Choices to be made…yet with no discernible proof for either choice, with nothing more than a perfectly poised question during your darkest moment…the choice will be yours to make. Good or bad…a choice is a choice that has to be made. Will your fear make you choose? Or will you be in control of your fear? Strength has no meaning in a destitute place like the Ship. Only the darkness can show you the way to the light. Has it been a day? A week? More? The Ship is control of what you will experience and there is but one ‘man’ whose been freed of the Ship, but at a cost. You hear more and more of this man, but every photo you come across with him has his face scratched out for none to see. The Actor and The Painter, again and again, these men haunt your vision. You learn more about them through the slides and photos you find scattered about the ship in its many rooms.

The humanity…what’s left of it…can be more frightening than the monsters in the dark.

As you scavenge for clues and anything that can help your protagonist make his way through the story, don’t forget to enjoy the scenery. Layers of Fear is drenched in horror. Keep your eyes wide when you explore, as you’ll find hidden references to Horror Movies and Monsters of the past. Some will be more apparent than others, but there are over 30 references in the stretch of Layers Of Fear 2. If you’re lucky, you might just figure out what the link between Layers of Fear and Layers of Fear 2 is….

Careful in the darkness, it can make you go mad…

Layers of Fear is exactly what the title says, layers of your fears. One upon the other, forced into tandem as you experience the darkness that surrounds and expels from your soul. Layers has a unique feature, that you can choose the pivotal points in the story. You, the ‘Actor’ will have to choose between your morals or your gain. Will you save yourself, reach the deck and feel sunlight against your skin again? Will you succumb to the cries of children? Your choices are important and can impact your gameplay, heavily. Will you refuse the beautiful darkness that Tony Todd speaks softly to you? Layers of Fear 2 is an amazing psychological thriller game that takes you in-depth of horror history and it’s building blocks. From the visuals to the story, to the sound, Layers of Fear 2 has encompassed that of which makes a horror game, a horror game.

DVS HARLECHAN REVIEW: 8.5/10

DVS Game Preview: BookBound Brigade

Be a part of history with BookBound Brigade.

Do you love history? Do you call yourself a ‘History Buff’? Does the need for platform gaming and history ever arise? Well, with BookBound Brigade your itch may be scratched. Venture into a world where fiction and non-fiction come together. Will you be able to save history in time or will the world of monsters win? Help King Arthur take his mantle back from Cthulhu and other villains wanting their own place in history. 

In a world where historical figures and icons of the century have forgotten who they are, you will have to help them learn their place in history once again! This adorable side scroller game has five non-linear worlds for you to enjoy and search through the ages. Help King Arthur find his way through the castle, touch and read items that will spark these historical figures’ memories. Gather your team and face whatever evils may come between you and the history that needs to be rewritten. 

Venture into a world where history meets fantasy, fight with your historical figures against some of the baddest bad guys written in fiction. Test your mettle as Joan of Arc against the Dark Lord Cthulhu. Along with the historical figures, you’ll run into some massive icons of written history. Nosferatu (Dracula), Frankenstein, ogres, and more fantasy creatures are out to destroy history as we know it! 

Combine your team to make the ultimate combo.

Find new ways to huddle together, that brings out the best in each of your historical characters. Work with one another and explore ways to reach new heights! Teamwork makes the dream work (just try not to let Dracula bite you).  

How will you survive the fall of the ages? Can you bind your team, work together to overcome puzzles and hidden mysteries? In this adorable indy game from developers Digital Tales, available on PS4, Switch and PC you can expect all the same greatness from previous Metroidvania games! Scour through puzzles, join quests and become the hero of History in BookBound Brigade

Join us again in the next few weeks for a gameplay review of BookBound Brigade