Sometimes you do not fall in love at first sight; some games need a second or third look before you realise they are a diamond in the rough.
Here are ten games worth a closer inspection.
It is both interesting and somewhat depressing to think Sleepwalker released a quarter of a century ago.
Twenty-five years sounds so much longer when describing it that way, yet regardless of how you frame it, Sleepwalker is now older than the average university graduate.
It’s clear that Sleepwalker is a Dos game, and groundbreaking graphics and soundtracks were not something even heard of in this era, what we do have however is excellent for the time graphics with gameplay that holds up today and would do exceptionally well also as a casual/mobile game in 2019, if given a graphical overhaul.
While it’s possible to play Sleepwalker with a mouse and keyboard, it just feels wrong, games from this era need controllers or better yet joysticks, to get the full nostalgia factor.
Its a very clever platformer with unique mechanics, fans of the 90s or the 2D platforming genre will want to check it out.
CHOP is challenging to review; I find the gameplay mechanics well designed, the art style a beautiful homage to the 2D fighters of the 90s, and the overall concept pretty fun, we have far too few local multiplayer games.
I have one problem with the game and that one problem is a deal-breaker.
The over-reliance on looking edgy, from the excessive gore to characters flipping the bird, the entire game is doing everything it can to look adult and edgy.
I have no problem with games that have naturally occurring gore or profanity as part of the mechanics, but when a game dedicates its entire aesthetic to cheap “shock and gore” it shows a lack of belief in the game’s chances of success by the developers.
It’s a very very solid four-person beat-um up that fans of the genre will enjoy, but it’s not for everyone, and certainly, it’s not for me.
Added note: It certainly plays much better with a controller, as the keybindings feel awkward when on M&KB.
Songbringer has a fantastic concept, the procedurally generated world and easy to remember seed systems allows for a community to build around the Lore of any single random world, let’s take for example the word Cheese, anyone who enters the word Cheese will get the same world, with its own level design, enemies, and lore fragments.
This system allows worlds to be both unique and shared at the same time, allowing for theory-crafting, guides and lore discussion, something procedural games often lack due to their highly randomised nature,
Despite the name, the soundtrack is dismal beyond belief, it drones on like a very bad 90s 16bit console title, and I could not wait to mute it.
On the topic of consoles, Songbringer feels much better with a controller than a mouse and keyboard, the gameplay lends itself well to console controls and the nostalgic 16bit feel is enhanced by playing on a controller, more so than a mouse and keyboard.
The graphics look great for a retro title, and while they are not cutting edge, cutting edge and retro don’t go together.
Slipstream brought me back to the glorious days of the Sega Megadrive, I was eight years old and Christmas and birthdays were the only times I would get new games, considering they were inordinately expensive back in the ’90s compared to today.
A standard Sega MegaDrive title (£44.99 in 1994) would cost £85+ in 2019, allowing for inflation.
Those glorious moments of trying a new game and knowing it would be your main game for the next six or so months is a feeling that I will never forget, and in some small way, Slipstream brought back those memories.
A New Old Friend.
Slipstream clearly is a modern game that runs a lot smoother than games from the 90s, yet the force of the ’90s is as strong with Slipstream, from the flashy colours to the midi-esque soundtrack the developers nailed every aspect of the ’90s aesthetic perfectly.
Gameplay-wise its a 90’s style arcade racer with a decent selection of appropriate to the era tracks, even the control scheme mimics the era, with massive drifts and powerslides needed for corners, and a UI that contains the bare minimal info to keep moving forward.
Overall Its a solid racing game and while bathed in faux-nostalgia doesn’t require nostalgia to be enjoyable thanks to a high level of polish.
All 90s gamers will be pleased to see the return of the 1990s racing mechanic, aka the race track moves side to side, while your car stays basically in the centre, providing a faux 3D appearance.
Inquisitor plays like an elderly Diablo 3 with aesthetics of the early 2000s, and for excellent reason, despite releasing in 2012, it was in development since 2002 according to the developers, and the UI and engine performance can be expected from a game that is close to 17 years old (including development time).
Dated aspects aside it is a surprisingly rich CRPG which harkens back to classics like Neverwinter Nights, Planescape: Torment and Baldur’s Gate II.
Fans of the aforementioned games or classic CRPGs, in general, will get a lot of enjoyment from the “true to genre” gameplay mechanics, and the while the graphics look like sprites made in 2002, I didn’t find they distracted from gameplay, they felt authentic to the genre and despite being dated are well made and in their own way charming.
The game is text-heavy which for me is a huge plus, however for those who skip all dialogue you won’t get the full enjoyment out of the title.
I love the focus on being an inquisitor and using your office to force confessions, by means that are not always the most moral, games which give you morality choices are some of the most complex and enjoyable, and Inquisitor handles this perfectly.
The story is surprisingly good and would stand on its own two feet, something many game narratives could not accomplish.
Overall its a dated but well made CPG and one that fans of the genre will not want to miss.
6) Overcooked 2.
Overcooked 2 is a humour-filled take on the co-operative cooking sub-genre, the gameplay is fresh and crisp as a spring salad; however, playing the game alone leaves you feeling empty.
It Feels Like a Mario Party 10 Mini-game.
The graphical style, control scheme and even camera angle all feel like those employed by later Mario party games for their cooking mini-games, and while those mini-games were a lot of fun, I honestly wouldn’t want to play an entire game based on them.
Mario Party and Overcooked share a common flaw, they are best with friends, and when playing alone are unexplainably sad and lonely, while some games have co-op tacked on as an afterthought, and single player is the main course, Mario Party and Overcooked were clearly made to be co-op games, with single-player mode added on to increase sales attractiveness/market appeal.
As a co-op game its astonishingly good, with cute graphics, witty narrative, simple controls and a wide array of fast and frantic challenges, gamers who are looking for a near-perfect couch co-op/party game will not feel cheated by Overcooked 2.
Outside of Nintendo consoles there really isn’t anything like it that provides a better party game experience, however, If I were to choose my favourite party game/couch co-op game series, then that award would go to Mario Party franchise.
Overcooked 2 is a fantastic title, but its no Mario Party.
7) The Darkside Detective.
The Darkside Detective is one of the rare games that can distract you from its near ancient graphic style in a few seconds by its premise, and presentation of mechanics, on paper The Darkside Detective, is like any other point and click mystery still.
However, the similarities end there, with witty dialogue and plenty of detective show tropes, and buddy cop banter.
I found myself not noticing 1) the early 90s art style, 2) it was from the point and click genre, a genre that I have no real love for, and barely tolerate.
The investigative side of the game plays out like a vintage LA Noir, and the puzzles while not mind-bending, require some thinking outside of the box, finding ways to combine items and evidence to solve the mysteries.
A little dark, but that is to be expected.
On the topic of mysteries, some may be offended by the dark nature of the mysteries, and sexual inuendos do appear in some of the mysteries dialogue if you cannot overlook/ignore such elements this may not be the game for you.
If these elements don’t bother you, or you can let them go over your head, you will find a fun homage to 1990s point and click games, with witty dialogue and clever puzzle mechanics that rival or surpass any of the games from the same era.
PS I did find the music a tad annoying, but I just don’t like that midi vibe.. sorry devs but Civilisation 1 gave me all I ever could want of that tin like quality.
Supermash, is one of the more unique ideas I have seen in a long time, and while this review comes across as unfavourable, I do like the concept, I just feel the execution needs a lot of polish.
With so many variables, bugs will happen.
The ability to randomly create mini-games, from 6 genres is a lot of fun, however not all the engines work well, and some such as JRPG shooter can give an unplayable result at times, the glitches that randomly occur in games add massive replayability.. and frustration.
Three games in a row the glitches made the level unwinnable in an action/adventure game.
The concept is solid, and it’s one which I want to see developed more, as the mashes are fun, and I could see future DLC covering another gaming era such as 16bit or 32bit.
Cringey as TikTok in Places.
The storyline for the game is pretty weak but not unbearable, what is intolerable however is the dialogue between the main characters, its so careful to avoid offending any possible ethnicity, gender, body size, race or nation it comes across as kindergarten level banter, friends roast each other all the time, yet the “roasts” employed by characters here seem to be those of excessively polite elderly Canadians and not that of college-age American (?) youth.
It’s a solid game that given time will become something extraordinary, but it’s not perfect by a longshot and its not for everyone.
While the selection of game genres is decent, games often play out very similar with only cosmetic differences.
Could have been released in 2019.
Now before you fall off your seat in disbelief, the game is very clearly over 28 years old.
What I mean is it looks very much like the retro throwback games we see every few weeks on Steam, games made on modern engines to capture the magic of the early 90s.
Graphically on any resolution other than 480, you are going to run into some significant issues; namely, you turn into a puddle of pixels.
I found it amusing that even in this bitmap haven the women’s armour was skimpy, bitmap bikinis on people without faces, boobs were drawn in, faces features were not.
Drakken, is very dated, the combat is confusing without a manual, and even basic navigation can be a challenge.
Despite these flaws, It feels like a slice of history and is not as overwhelming user-unfriendly as some games from this era.
10) This Is the Police.
This Is the Police captures the gritty essence of every 80s cop show you have ever seen and pulls all this off using graphics that are so simple,m the only step beneath them is still finger puppets.
The art style employed by This Is the Police is exceptionally minimalist and certainly isn’t for everyone, I found it charming, and its simplicity allowed me to focus on the decisions I had to make, and helped me avoid getting distracted by the beauty of the world I was playing in.
It felt very much like being a part of a comic book, and the simple, clean lines and illustrations paired perfectly with the grime filled world of being a corrupt cop.
Immersion Factor & Mechanical Simplicity.
The gameplay was not all that impressive, and honestly, it’s pretty forgettable, taking the form of a very simple (human) resource management simulation, what makes This Is the Police truly stand out is the well written and fully voiced dialogue that pulls you into the dark and dangerous world full of crime and betrayal.
Choices I made had consequences, some evident immediately and others only after further twists unfolded, In my playthrough, my choices resulted in the death of 3 people, who didn’t deserve their fate, well two didn’t anyway.
Worth a Buy?
Fans of crime drama will want to grab this game, fans of minimalist game design will find this right up their alley, others, however, may want to look up the gameplay as its certainly not a game with widespread appeal.
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