I am ACWraith. I sometimes create games. I also occasionally do unpaid volunteer work for BYOND which includes running their Facebook page. Once upon a time, I also handled featured games and wrote the link digests "Along The Tech Tree" and "BYOND and Within". Both of the latter were revised on my Gamasutra blog with questionable relevance.

Review RSS Feed Escape Goat
9 Review

Game Review on Oct 9th, 2013

Escape Goat was one of my top games from last year and is to blame for most of the puzzle platformers in my library. Throwing a rat at walls has never been so satisfying.

That rat's where it's at, but the jumping feels good as well and the puzzles kept my walkthrough consultations to a reasonable level. Overall, I found the level of frustration just right for the first campaign. I opted to leave with the happy memories when the platforming requirements increased for the extra content. I'll be tracking Escape Goat 2 once it's available.

Bleed
9 Review

Game Review on Sep 6th, 2013

Bleed is quite possibly the best run and gun shooter I have ever played. Using bullet time to manage triple jumps works and feels wonderful from the first time an enemy barrage is flown over. Even the more insulting death messages managed to make me laugh.

This is another game I'd be playing right now if my pile of shame wasn't quite so high. It's one of my top games of 2013.

Super Panda Adventures
9 Review

Game Review on Sep 5th, 2013 - 1 person agrees

Super Panda Adventures is one of my favorite games of 2013. The combat is varied without becoming overly complex (and the native support feels quite good on my Xbox 360 controller). There's plenty to collect and feel empowered. The story is light and goofy.

Modern metroidvania standards apply and then some. Those with an aversion to open worlds should be happy that the quests provide decent direction. Meanwhile, backtracking is handled well with the ability to choose alternative areas until new mobility upgrades are found. There's generally something new to find once upgraded even if it's only a stash of experience pickups. Much of the content is optional.

One cardinal sin involves how checkpoints are placed before the scripted dialogue of boss battles. The text can be sped up with button mashing, but it still increases frustration after the umpteenth death. Autosaving would not be desired due to the game's single save slot per session. However, the ability to immediately get back into the fight would have been nice.

Towards the end, I would have also appreciated knowing the maximum level was locked at 50 and having a list of upgrade orbs I'd collected. However, that's mostly the completionist in me talking as I mourn how video has replaced text walkthroughs.

Waking Mars
9 Review

Game Review on May 1st, 2013

Waking Mars is like a good Outer Limits or Twilight Zone episode in the form of a metroidvania. Weapons are replaced by seeds. Combat is replaced by dodging hazards and tossing seeds into plant beds. It works.

Each room is a resource-balancing puzzle. While warping around for resources was sometimes necessary, nothing was particularly frustrating. The requirements for opening a new area are small so it's easy to move on and backtrack later. Some of the endings seemed hidden rather well, but prior actions didn't screw me out of going for them after my last checkpoint.

Go play Waking Mars - FOR SCIENCE!

Dead Pixels
9 Review

Game Review on Apr 21st, 2013 - 1 person agrees 1 person doesn't

Dead Pixels is a bidirectional shooter with resource gathering and upgrades which is short enough to take advantage of its procedural generation in successive replays. The limited aiming and ammunition makes positioning important as enemies will gather in hoards. Checkpoints are plentiful. Some might be tired of zombies and/or retro graphics, but it all mixes well with the game's grindhouse horror and references can be found everywhere. Overall, I've found Dead Pixels very satisfying. =)

Anodyne
8 Review

Game Review on Apr 21st, 2013 - 1 person agrees

Anodyne is an action game with lock and key puzzles. Put your Zelda franchise preconceptions aside. The keys are not weapons. When they're not literal keys, they're a set amount of collectible cards. Your actions are limited.

That said, the combat is solid. The variation of the world and the wonderful soundtrack helped maintain my interest. While the story felt fractured, the dreamlike atmosphere worked well with the overall nostalgia. Me likey.

I finished the game with 37 cards and earned a 100% achievement. I don't know if I'll ever go back to get all of the post-game cards and items. At that point, the play begins to reference glitches as might by used by Zelda speedrunners. It's mildly interesting, but that's the sort of thing I tend to see in a YouTube video and then never bother with again. The main game is enough for me for now.

Bret Airborne
8 Review

Game Review on Apr 21st, 2013 - 1 person agrees

The line which divides player access makes Bret Airborne shine. Anything along the outer edge is relatively safe while items neighboring the line are in danger of being stolen. The grace period allows players to shift items around instead of being forced into specific swaps. There is a tug of war as large matches move the line towards the opponent and swapping items with no match moves the line towards oneself. Being aware of items to steal and large matches to perform is encouraged further as skills may count those events as bonus resources.

The campaign is short, upgrades are offered in small quantities and player's can't grind endlessly for funds. The result is analysis paralysis is reduced and players are encouraged to try again with different options. There are also other modes for session-based play.

The story is just an excuse for puzzle battles, but that's fine. I would have appreciated the ability to play in a window, grouped skill messages to avoid (rare) spam from opponents and the ability to immediately jump around a map when enemies are gone. These were all minor annoyances though. =)

Eufloria
8 Review

Game Review on Nov 10th, 2012

I don't play a lot of real-time strategy games and I don't care for micromanagement. However, Eufloria's relaxed pace didn't leave me overwhelmed. (The game has been updated with a more dynamic mode for those who desire it.) While player interactions focus on troop movement, Eufloria is more about puzzle solving than reflexes. I like it.

There are no tech trees to learn and production is automatic. Units are defined by their planets of birth. Each planet is relatively unique and the game uses procedural generation. You don't memorize builds. You study the environment.

Machinarium
9 Review

Game Review on Nov 10th, 2012

I admit it. When stumped, I used a walkthrough. However, point and click adventures are the one genre I've been known to play for story. Machinarium isn't overly deep, but it offers a charming tale told through lovely ascetics and animated thought/speech bubbles. The latter is the game's main draw and a feature I hope to become more common.

All Zombies Must Die!
8 Review

Game Review on Nov 10th, 2012

AZMD is twin stick, open world fun. I bought it in a bundle a while back and finally played through to celebrate Halloween. I'm glad I got to it. I especially like the risk vs. reward of the search mechanic and how locations are refilled to keep the exploration going.

The game is not without bugs. Offhand weapons like the torch can be lost permanently, I suffered the loss of my flamethrower soon after the quest that required it. I would have been mad if it had happened earlier. Fortunately, I had crafted main weapons to hand out the same status effects during normal play.

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