Reviews by ajeremy

85

An ambitious game that embodies the best of indie gaming

ajeremy | Feb. 1, 2014 | Review of Expeditions: Conquistador

There's a lot to admire about this game. It juggles a variety of different gameplay mechanics: tactical turn-based combat; King's Bounty / Heroes of Might and Magic - style overworld exploration; resource management; branching choose-your-own-adventure storylines; crafting; role-playing character leveling. What's most impressive is how effectively the game combines these disparate mechanics into a unified whole. The game doesn't feel like a bunch of game parts thrown together, it's a unified gameplay experience with each part modifying and working in sync with the other elements.

The setting is a welcome change of pace; the era is depicted with depth and sophistication. The player can actively participate in shaping the culture and politics of the regions. The game is not slavishly historically accurate; for instance, the player can include women as equal members of the expedition party. I found the departures were well-judged and added to the gameplay experience.

This game is a bit rough around the edges, as you'd expect from a small indie developer. The camera is optimized to give the player a feeling of exploration, with limited zooming and panning. This can create a constrained, claustrophobic feel, with trees and other landscape features sometimes obscuring the player's view. The graphics are serviceable rather than spectacular. I had to use the game's debugging console late in the game to finish a bugged side quest.

The GUI mostly does a good job of handling the various gameplay elements. I rarely found myself working against the interface, although juggling tasks in camp with a large expedition force can get a bit tedious. Performance and stability were fine on my ageing mid-range PC.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this game in spite of the occasional frustration. The game has enough creativity, ambition and risk-taking to put most AAA titles to shame. I highly recommend it to fans of role-playing games looking for a departure from generic swords-and-sorcery fare.

70

Shows its age

ajeremy | Jan. 26, 2014 | Review of PixelJunk Monsters Ultimate

Firstly the positives: the game has a long playtime and a decent level of challenge. However, the game was designed for consoles and feels like it was intended for co-op gaming. As a single player pc tower defense game, I found the experience lacking.

TD games have evolved considerably since Pixeljunk Monster's original PS3 release in 2008. Features we take for granted now aren't present here - no branching tower upgrades, no universal upgrades. The tower selection is limited and towers must be unlocked on every map. The player has to manually move across the map to collect coins and build towers, making the game quite micro-management intensive. The controls have a console-itis feel, the game just doesn't play as smoothly as native pc TDs.

As a co-op TD, Pixeljunk Monster remains an excellent game. But as a single player TD it feels a bit dry and dated next to the best games in the genre. TD junkies will find something to enjoy here, but there are better single-player pc TDs available - check Defender's Quest, Defense Grid, Cursed Treasure, Kingdom Rush and Bloons series for starters.