Pokémon Unbound – FireRed ROM Hack

The Game

Whether you are familiar with ROM Hacks or not, Pokémon Unbound by Skeli Games is an absolute must play for Pokémon fans. The fan made game outdoes pretty much any of the official games in every single aspect. Pokémon Unbound features Pokémon up to Gen VII, a completely original story and region known as Borrius. In addition to this there are a bunch of amazing quality of life improvements like the ability to auto-run, turbo modes on bikes and surfing, the ability to use HMs without having to actually teach them and exp share amongst the entire team.

The start of the game gives you a bit of backstory about the region, the story of a war fought between regions, rulers and Pokémon, until an ultra-powerful Pokémon was used by the king of Borrius to end the war with some unforeseen consequences. We are also shown a trainer who throws a powerful Pokémon into the sea, hoping it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands (which predictably it does). 15 years later your adventure begins: the game starts you out with a character customisation screen, quite unlike most traditional Pokémon games. After you’ve just from a decent palette of skin tones, hair colours, clothes colours you are ready to embark on your journey. Things take a turn quite quickly though and you are abducted to the secret base of the local evil organisation where you get to chose your started – Gabite, Beldum or Larvitar and you also get to meet your rival. Once you’ve fought your way out you meet Professor Log and your adventure begins in earnest. The game follows the age old recipe of 8 gyms, elite four and champion with a good deal of interaction and distraction from the Shadows – the evil organisation attempting to end the world. The story is really gripping with plenty of plot twists and surprises. You see and fight loads of legendary Pokémon and are even transported to other dimensions.

There are loads of nods to other games and regions, there are even Sinnoh trainers like Cynthia or Candice that appear; in the post-game you even run into Red. The game is so packed with content that it puts most “real” Pokémon games to shame. The questing system provides an entire new layer as you can keep track of all the various tasks you’ve accepted to help people around the region and earn some really nice rewards. The game will also allow you to Mega evolve Pokémon, battle and catch Gigantamax Pokémon and use Z-power moves. And if the main game wasn’t enough the post-game has been fleshed out with a Battle Frontier, the ability to catch virtually every legendary Pokémon ever released, different challengers after beating the Elite 4 and many more quests and surprises.

Worth it?

This game, like all ROMHacks is 100% free. Made by a passionate and dedicated community this game easily outshines many official release Pokémon games. The game allows you to catch and train Pokémon from some of the newest generations and will keep you busy for tens of hours. The game also comes with completed post-game and daily events adding even more hours of content. There is also plenty of information about the game on the wiki and various reddit pages, although admittedly some of it is for slightly outdated versions of the game. The configurable difficulties and scaling enemies also ensure that you’re always being challenged, but be weary of over-levelling any of your Pokémon as that will raise the level of your enemies. My only criticism (and it’s been really hard to come up with some) is the ability to skip some of the sliding puzzles after several attempts or time that has elapsed.

Overall the brilliant story, amazing original sprites, attention to detail and quality of life improvements make this an absolute must play for any fans of the traditional Pokémon games. Get a good mobile emulator like MyBoy! and you can play this on your phone – almost as good as playing it on your GBA or GBA SP. I highly recommend this to any and all Pokémon fans, especially if you’ve got a case of nostalgia or if you have played all the old games and are looking for something new.

Tips

  • You can get a shiny Elekid egg from completing the quest “The Rogue Electivire”
  • There are houses dotted around the map with people who will give you a choice of the 3 starters from a specific region, they will give you the others depending on how many gyms you have – Gen IV is in Dehara City, Gen V is on route 5, Gen VII is in Seaport City
  • You can get the eggs for Gen I and Gen VI starters from the Day-care Man’s sister in Magnolia town
  • Every 5 Pokémon in the Safari zone you will get a chance to catch one of the Gen III starters
  • Most routes have a special elite trainer who will only battle you after you’ve defeated all other trainers on that route
  • You don’t need all lights on in the Dehara Gym – some need to remain off in order to pass all the gates
  • The Regi caves will unlock after you complete the Tomb of Borrius – Regice cave is in the forest near Blizzard City, Regirock cave is in the Great Desert, Registeel is on route 18 just to the west of the waterfall before Victory Road
  • After completing the Regigigas mission for the guy in Tehl Town he will upgrade your Amulet Coin/Luck incense to increase the amount of cash they get you by giving him Big Nuggets
  • You can earn Big Nuggets by completing the daily Pep Quiz in Magnolia Town
  • A lady in the Mission HQ in Fallshore City will upgrade your Lucky Eggs in return for Big Pearls – you can get these by using thief on Clamperls when diving
  • You can avoid being spotted by the Dusclops in the Tomb of Borrius by disabling auto-run
  • You can get the starters you didn’t pick by visiting your rival’s house and the secret base that you’re abducted to in the beginning of the game
  • The best way to farm Light Clay for the ADM is by catching/using thief on Baltoy in the Ruins of the Void. If you use a Pokémon with Compound Eyes that will increase the chance that the pokemon holds an item. Get your hands on the DexNav as well in order to chain the Baltoys
  • You can use repels with the DexNav in order to EV farm and increase your chance of shinies
  • One of Professor Log’s assistants in Frozen Heights can let you look at a Pokémon’s IVs and EVs, along with all the moves they can learn and even give you an item to do so when you please
  • Most missions that have multiple objectives to collect can be expanded to see the location of these
  • Legendries that don’t appear from portals usually just require you to stand in a specific place (usually in the middle of a cliff overlooking an edge – like the birds, Rayquaza, etc)

Useful Links

Pokémon Gaia – FireRed ROM Hack

The Game

I have always been a massive fan of the Pokémon series of games – especially the older GameBoy Advance and Nintendo DS versions of the game. Games like Pokémon Sapphire or Pokémon FireRed were my childhood. Recently I have replied a lot of them on emulators (which I will review in a separate post) on my phone and it has been an amazing nostalgia trip. As I replayed these games I started discovering ROMHack versions of the games. I have known these exist for a while but never bothered giving them a go, and I was really missing out.

Pokémon Gaia is a FireRed ROMHack made by Spherical Ice. The hack completely alters the game with an amazing original story seeing you through the typical storyline of beating gyms and the league, defeating an evil organisation all while creating the ultimate team of Pokémon. The game is set in a fictional region known as Orbtus. The game features Pokémon from up to Gen 6 from the regions of Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, Sinnoh, Unova and Kalos. The game includes updated move sets, items, mega evolutions, fairy types, reusable TMs and more.

The story follows the established model of a young teen who leaves home in the quest to become an amazing Pokémon trainer. As you and your rival progress through the world you will encounter members of an evil organisation intent on controlling the world by using the power of legendary Pokémon (in this case it’s Regice, Regirock, Registeel and Regigigas). Battle them and the many trainers of the region, discover all Pokemon from newer generations and take on the Pokémon League in this amazing fan made passion project (which might as well be an original release). The region of Orbtus is well fleshed out with a variety of cities, biomes, areas and an interesting history.

Worth it?

Replaying old Pokémon games on an emulator is free and an a great nostalgia trip. Playing these fan-made ROMHacks is also free and an amazing experience. Like many other ROMHacks this was made by fans of the franchise, working for no profit but purely the love of Pokémon games. The game story, the amount of detail and work that has gone in are truly remarkable. Being able to catch Pokémon up to Gen 6 and use all new moves or functionality (like Mega Evolutions) is awesome – especially for those who don’t really appreciate the new style of games as much, who haven’t had a chance to play on DS or Switch or who would like to relive new experiences on the older engines.

Overall, if you have not played any ROMHacks before, Pokémon Gaia is a good introduction. While in its current state there isn’t much of a post-league game, the story, events, gyms and Elite Four are all really well done and fleshed out. It would be nice to see the Regis as catchable after the main story concludes and maybe some additional challenges or high-level trainers. The game really feels like it could be an official entry to the series. The use of the Regis as the legendary Pokémon for the focus of the story is quite different and almost provides a bit of a fictional backstory. For me the ideal way to play is on my phone and a good emulator will set you back around £3, but there are some decent free options too. The game will keep you busy for quite a while, especially if you decide to take your time and talk to people or help out where you can.

Tips

  • You can get Deoxys once you have Strength in the Cosmic Caverns
  • You can catch Rayquaza once you have waterfall in the Emerald Peak just outside Nestpine Town
  • The best place to use the VS seeker is in the area just before the nurse on Victory Road – there are 3 Ace Trainers in view which are all quite easy to beat
  • You can find the coin case inside one of the warehouses in Telmurk city – the same one with the Rotom appliances
  • You can get the Amulet Coin quite early on by buying it from a guy in Aerous City for $5000
  • You can turn fossils into Pokémon at the Professor’s house – upstairs
  • You can play on 2x speed with most emulators which makes the whole experience that little bit better
  • To set up the ROMHack download FireRed (Squirrels) and then apply the patch to it, then simply load up the newly patched FireRed (you may want to rename it) into an emulator and off you go

Useful Links

Jotun: Valhalla Edition

The Game

Jotun: Valhalla Edition made by Thunder Lots Games is an amazingly aesthetic game based on Norse mythology. Battle your way past gods and figure out weird puzzles on your way through the afterlife. You play as Thora – a recently deceased human wielding a massive two-handed axe. This is quite a challenging game which will have you in potential fits of anger as you face up against some of the later bosses. Each big boss (known as Jotun) fight is preceded by a couple of relatively peaceful missions to find some runes, often accompanied by a puzzle of sorts. Often you will also find special shrines that give you some interesting skills ranging from healing and shields to decoys and even the blessing of Thor’s hammer.

Once you have collected the appropriate runes you face off against a boss, and boy do these bosses pack a punch. The sense of scale is something the game plays with really successfully by pitting you – a tiny human against some truly gigantic deities. Each Jotun will have various phases, attack patterns and timings that you will need to learn and master in order to get past them. These fights can be very frustrating and you will suffer a quick death if you make too many mistakes. The process of figuring these bosses out and beating them is extremely satisfying.

Worth it?

Generally the game will set you back around £12 depending on platform, but is very often on sale up to 75%, allowing you to pick it up for less than £5. At that price it’s a must have. The game is an acquired taste in terms of difficulty, but an audio-visual masterpiece. The narration, soundtrack and artwork are something truly special and a testament to indie game development. If you see this game on sale make sure to pick it up. Overall it’s definitely worth the purchase and while the gameplay itself won’t last you more than around 5-6 hours, the world is so beautiful and the gameplay is extremely satisfying (and also challenging), making it an absolute must have.

Tips

  • Keep on the look out for Ithunn’s Apples – these will upgrade your health bar
  • The shrines of Mimir will replenish your skills and health, but they can only do so once
  • Take time to study a boss’ movement patterns and attacks
  • Heavy attacks will often do different things than basic attacks – experiment with this
  • Look for openings between legs arms or other bits where you can avoid being hit

Useful Links

Punch Club

The Game

Punch Club developed by Lazy Bear Studios and published by tinyBuild is a pixel graphics fighting simulation game. With elements reminiscent of Sims and loads of references to cult classic films there’s quite a bit to unpack with this game. The game has a fairly simple and straightforward gameplay loop consisting of training to level up your stats, working to earn cash and fighting your way to becoming champion of the world (technically you watch your character fight).

Every day you will have to balance exercise, work and other tasks to progress, at the end of every day you will lose a significant chunk of your stats. There are three main attributes that you can develop – strength (red), agility (blue) and stamina (green). Different gym equipment will level you up at different speeds, exercise too long on one piece of equipment and you’ll start earning less points, so make sure to change up your routine as soon as that happens. Your stats tie in to your fighting abilities and skills. After each fight you will learn skill points which can be spent learning new skills, moves or perks. As if all of that wasn’t enough you also have to ensure you’ve got enough food, energy and happiness each day. In the early game finding the balance between working to earn money and training is particularly difficult, so you’ll probably be stuffing yourself with frozen pizzas for quite some time.

The story focuses on a character who dreams of becoming a great fighter and avenging his father’s death. As you become a better fighter more elements to the story will unfold, as well as some side-stories, which actually get pretty weird after a while. The game world is packed with references to movies like Fight Club, Rocky, The Simpsons, John Wick and even Jay and Silent Bob (if you look outside the store) and some truly beautiful pixel art.

Worth it?

This isn’t an easy game. Especially the early game can be particularly hard as you balance working, training and fighting. Once you start to unlock better jobs, some home equipment and more skills things begin to get a bit easier and the game starts to click. The mid-game (from Din Kong) onwards begins to get a bit easier, however it is also worth noting that this is an extremely grindy game. While losing some stats every day makes sense and is an established mechanic it also makes the game really hard and you will be spending an extremely long time levelling up your stats (especially for the final fights). While it is quite punishing, it also makes for a good challenge. Some story lines will also present you with choices which will affect them, potentially making completion for those story lines unachievable.

You can get the game for around £1.50 on sale, which is absolutely worth it. The game provides a good challenge, is wonderfully aesthetic, has an interesting story and loads of film references to keep you going. It will take you quite a few hours to complete your first playthrough and you may be tempted to do a second one after (maybe even a speedrun). The sound track can get a bit repetitive after hours of grinding and the game itself can get a bit repetitive and grindy towards the end, but other than that it is quite difficult to fault it. If you see the game on sale, grab it.

Tips

  • In the early game meat is the most effective cost per food item, however pizza is better at recovering your health
  • Making money is only difficult in the early game – focus on getting your own equipment at home so as to avoid the daily cost of the gym
  • The skip attack skills is very useful if you are draining your energy very quickly
  • Adapt your strategy from round to round – try out different moves, counters and defensive moves
  • Fights will teleport you directly to the location so you can save yourself the walking
  • Keep skills just above a level if the day is about to tick over, so you can easily get it back up again at the start of the new day
  • Focus on unlocking the extra skill slots early in the skill tree
  • Look ahead at what gets you where in the skill tree, plan ahead
  • Once you are living with Din Kong focus on upgrading daily allowance asap, money will also become a trivial concern pretty quickly then
  • You can collect the prize from Mickey in the trailer park twice
  • Skill unlock cost caps at 25
  • The flower locations for Adrian are: Roy’s garden, the Warehouse, the Bar, Mick’s office and your house
  • Check out the wiki for more tips/tricks

Useful Links

Valthirian Arc – Hero School Story

The Game

Valthirian Arc – Hero School Story by Agate Games is a rather weird, but strangely addictive game available on PC, PS4 and Switch. A quirky art style and a mix of anime and cute characters make this quite an interesting game. There are two aspects to Valthirian Arc – on the one hand you are a principal managing a school for heroes. You will need to build and upgrade various classrooms and facilities around the school while also upgrading your students and crafting them new gear. At the end of each academic year you have to graduate some of your students in order to obtain a large lump some of cash and experience.

The second aspect of this game are the actual missions that your students are sent on. These are essentially little randomised dungeons in which you usually have to find some items or kill some mobs. This encompasses the core gameplay loop in which you go out on missions, find loot, gain experience, followed by levelling up your students and eventually graduating them and enrolling new ones to repeat the process with. As you advance the story and acquire more experience your school will grow, allowing you to place more buildings and unlock specialisations for your students.

Worth it?

The game is available on Steam for £11.99, I got it on sale on PS4 for around £2.50. Realistically, the game isn’t really worth much more than £5.00, but it does have an addictive quality about it where you keep thinking to yourself – “just one more mission or one more graduation”. The gameplay does get quite repetitive quite quickly, but the prospects of improving your students further and further and unlocking the various specialisations can keep you engaged for quite a while.

Overall the story isn’t anything overly compelling, although it does appear to have a couple of variations on the end result. There’s an interesting variety of mechanics, from managing and building the school, to crafting gear and upgrading students. It has a weirdly addictive side to it that does make you want to keep playing for some time. If you focus on doing only the main story line missions you can probably complete it in around 5-10 hours, however doing side quests and favours is a great way to earn more cash and upgrade your students even more. If you spot this on sale, it’s definitely worth a try if you fancy something a little bit more quirky.

Tips

  • Do not send all parties on idle missions (ones that play out on their own) as time advances really slowly when you are not out on a mission.
  • Always ensure you have on party with which to play out missions while the others can go on idle ones. You can use the main party to advance time by completing the missions.
  • Don’t get too attached to your students, you will have to graduate them at some point as newer students joining will have a higher level cap.
  • The dirk is a great weapon for the lowest class students.
  • Always buy everything you can from the travelling merchant.
  • There’s little point in crafting most of the lower class weapons as you’ll tend to find a lot while out on missions.
  • Invest in buildings and rooms that give you extra cash early on, you can always delete or replace them later on.
  • Item drop rate is capped, regardless of how many rooms you have that buff it.
  • Look out for students’ base stats when enrolling them – you can specialise them based on these. Focus on their strengths.

Useful Links

Card Guardians: Deck Building Roguelike Card Game

The Game

Card Guardians (as it should be called) is a deck building turn based combat game by Tapps Games – PT. The game has likely drawn a good deal of inspiration from the popular Slay the Spire. It is a simple concept based around fighting various mobs using a deck of various cards. Every time you beat an enemy you will advance on your current adventure – you will get to choose a card to add to your deck (for this adventure only) and a choice of what to do next. Sometimes you will get to choose a way to improve your deck or heal up, other times you will have to choose which enemy you would like to take on.

Your adventures will get you gold and armour – armour can be upgraded in quality by merging 4 alike pieces. Each piece of armour can then be upgraded using gold to increase the base stats that it provides (gloves boost attack, helmets boost defence, chest pieces boost health). There are different types of armour and armour sets that provide unique set bonuses which will give you a better chance at the start of the battle.

Worth it?

Overall the game takes some clever and familiar mechanics and delivers an enjoyable and challenging experience. The game is also easy to pick up and drop as it will save your progress on your last run. My biggest issue with the game is that in a way you are “forced” to watch videos after each battle to get the better loot. While you don’t have to, if you want more gold and a better card selection – it will be in your interest to do so. One slightly annoying aspect is that it seems you need 4 piece of the same armour to upgrade the quality as opposed to 3 (which is sort of what the UI suggests). The game currently has two playable characters which are completely different – giving the game quite a bit of variety in terms of play style.

The ad-free version is £6.99 which is a bit on the expensive side for what it actually offers – the key benefit being a free way to upgrade your loot after each battle and a free revive if you die on an adventure. If the overall price was 15-20% cheaper it would make a lot more sense to go for as the perks are pretty useful. Gameplay is fairly repetitive but the randomness of the cards you may get allows you to try different tactics and ensures that each run is completely unique.

Tips

  • You can use defend or magic cards once you’ve filled up your super power without resetting it.
  • Exile cards can only be used once per battle, but will return to your deck in your next fight.
  • When offered the shop choice – you can buy multiple cards using gold.
  • Your armour will be lost on your next turn so don’t overextend your use of “Defend” cards.

Useful Links

Botworld Adventure

The Game

Botworld Adventure by Featherweight is an mobile open world RPG games focused around collecting, upgrading and battling various bots in a huge open world. There’s an overarching main quest line and various contracts (as the game calls daily quests). You can unlock new areas and zones by upgrading your boat, which serves as your home base. As you progress you will unlock power ups, gadgets and various other aspects that will enhance your combat abilities. The main story isn’t something unique or new by any means, but the size of the areas and the variety of quests make this quite a solid open-world RPG, especially considering it’s an Android game.

You will be able to choose the appearance and race of your character before you start. Then in a Pokémon-esque fashion will need to pick your started bot from three available. Then your adventure truly begins. You can upgrade your bots, they will also gain XP and level up which will allow you to pick skills that will enhance them even further. There’s different tiers of bots and different classes – each with it’s own stats and abilities. If you get tired of battling wild bots and bandits you can take your bots to the arena and take on other player’s teams.

At the start of each battle you choose your bots starting position – placing 3 of them in the fighting area. They will then proceed to fight on their own, using their abilities against the enemy bots. You will have access to some special abilities that you can use to influence the battle – these specials can buff your own bots or damage/inhibit enemy ones. The game also makes it look like there are other players wondering around – although these are likely just NPCs made to look like other players.

Worth it?

This game is big. It has a lot to offer, especially considering it’s a free Android game. The low poly graphics and aesthetics are quite appealing, Botworld is brilliantly colourful and vibrant. The world is well designed, lots of nice details and well thought out. There’s a slight downside to contracts (daily/mini quests) as they can take quite a few hours to reset, but you can watch and ad to do so faster. However, it must be noted that there are no in-game ads and there’s no obligation to watch ads or pay for premium versions (there’s a premium currency and you can purchase the Mayoral Membership, which gives you access to extra rewards for around £7.49).

Another way that the game limits you is through battery packs – each time you venture out into the world you will use one up (you have about 5 to start with) – these take time to recharge, although they can be rushed by watching ads. I haven’t found myself needing to watch one. Finding materials for your boat and specific ones for your bots is where the game starts to get a little harder. I found the boat materials quite hard to find and was usually going out on missions solely for that purpose.

Overall the game has a lot to offer and given it’s a free game it’s absolutely worth checking out. Sessions on the game can last anywhere from 10-15 mins to a couple hours, depending on how many batteries you have. The ads aren’t intrusive and there’s no need to spend any money to get the most out of the game. The game itself is quite big (~490MB) and after some time it does tend to get a bit repetitive in terms of quests and offering overall. The combat, the upgrades and the variety in bots gives the game a considerable amount of depth worth exploring, there are also plenty of regions and a long main story line. It has enough elements that will keep you coming back to it every day for a good few weeks minimum.

Tips

  • Remember to always collect the free materials from the shop (sometimes it’s worth buying the ones on sale as well)
  • Pick your fights – there are ways to run around wild bots/bandits so you don’t waste your bots on pointless fights if you have a set objective
  • To get the most out of each battery pack (traveling out into the world) keep fighting till you lose as there’s no penalty for that
  • Your recruits will use the bots you haven’t got equipped – so make sure to upgrade them as well
  • Place your weakest bot last so that your enemy can’t put more of their own bots near it
  • Use auto-battle if you are just grinding familiar enemies or wild bots, however be weary of auto-battle as it doesn’t always place your bots very well
  • Run over critters to capture them
  • You can exit the game at any time and it will continue where you left off

Useful Links

Grim Quest – Old School RPG

The Game

Grim Quest – Old School RPG by Goran K is a game that’s popped up as recommended several times in my app store and I decided to give it a go – I just wish I’d done so sooner. As the game’s name suggests it’s an “old-school” RPG game that focuses on exploring dungeons, turn based combat and purchasing/upgrading spells, skills and equipment. The game also features has crafting as a method of creating powerful buffs and potions. You can also accept and complete bounties for XP and gold.

Each dungeon is essentially a square grid – these vary in size. Each turn you can choose one of the adjacent squares to move into it – at that stage you can either encounter enemies, a random event or the exit to the dungeon. You are discouraged from walking back over already revealed tiles as there’s a good chance you will get ambushed. While navigating the dungeons you need to keep an eye on your health, sanity and supplies. I quite like that there’s no mana to maintain, spells are just based on a number of charges that resets before each battle. If you’re low on sanity your fears will start manifesting themselves into monsters that attack you; run out of health and you’ll be kicked out of the dungeon. You will also find various items that buff you for that specific dungeon run. There are a decent variety of dungeons, monsters and a great selection of skills and spells to learn and combo.

Worth it?

One thing that needs to be mentioned is that this game was made by one person, which instantly propels it to a whole new level of excellence. Simple/minimalist graphics combined with classic mechanics and a great amount of depth make for a pretty amazing mobile gaming experience. You can pick this game up for a casual dungeon crawl or run after run attempting to beat a dungeon boss. There’s an ad-free version for £5.49, but it must be said the ads are essentially non-existent – apart from a bottom banner and the option to watch ads for cash every time you return to town (you don’t have to do this if you’d like an extra challenge). Personally I do feel that that price is a little steep – if it was 15-25% cheaper, I feel I’d be a bit more inclined to purchase it. There are some quality of life improvements that could be made like an option to sort your stash or being able to see the spell description at the Alter of Oblivion.

Overall it’s a brilliant game with familiar classic mechanics, simple but effective aesthetics, customisation options and a huge amount of spells, skills, crafting and enemies to take on. It’s also quite a challenge, especially early game until you’ve got some upgrades and good spells. The game will keep you thinking – just one more dungeon, one more level. It’s great for both short and longer sessions of play. A must see for any RPG/Turn-based aficionados out there.

Tips

  • AOE spells and attacks are very helpful
  • Hold on to ingredients that can be used in the cauldron
  • Make sure you always have as many bounties as possible on at a time
  • If you have an item already in your possession/stash you can complete item bounties
  • Items can be used to buff yourself on a particular dungeon run (very useful for boss levels)
  • Always check the vendor for steel ingots or other upgrade materials
  • You can reset/forget spells and skills at the Alter of Oblivion (Level 1 spells cost 0 to forget, but higher level ones will cost more)
  • Reddit Guide for beginners: https://www.reddit.com/r/GrimQuest?utm_medium=android_app&utm_source=share

Useful Links

Horizon: Zero Dawn

The Game

It’s been a couple weeks since gameplay footage for Horizon: Forbidden West were shared by game developers Guerilla Games. With that you may be asking yourself if it’s time you finally played Horizon: Zero Dawn if you haven’t already or giving it a replay if you already own it. The short answer is YES.

For those who haven’t already played it, Horizon: Zero Dawn is set in a post-apocalyptic version of our world, where the earth is roamed by giant mechanical beasts and civilization has descended into warring tribal factions. You play as the badass machine hunter from the Nora tribe – Aloy, a woman outcast as a child with a mysterious past that is more connected to the state of the planet than she thinks.

The tutorial zone brings you up to speed with hunting machines and sneaking around the world, which are the main two actions that comprise the core gameplay loop. There are a variety of machines and classes, much like animals in the real world. Each machine will have one or more elemental types, vulnerable spots (hit these), and behaviour. Initially you’ll start out with a bow and staff as your weapons, but as the game progresses you will amass an arsenal capable of taking down even the toughest machines. You’ll have access to bows, traps, slingshots and some more unique weapons like the ropecaster, rattler or tearblaster.

Once you’ve completed the tutorial zone you’ll be thrown onto into the massive open world onto your mission – this is where the game really opens up and let’s you do whatever you please. There are loads of side quests, collectibles and challenges to keep you in the game for ages and as if that wasn’t enough, the game has an awesome photo mode which will allow you to tinker with Aloy’s pose, filters and many other options – allowing you to get the perfect shot.

Worth it?

Generally you can find the game on sale for around £10.00 including the Frozen Wilds DLC, which is an absolute steal. If you focus on only the main quests, the main game will probably take you around 20-25 hours to complete, but if you’re like me and end up helping almost everyone you meet or getting side tracked with collectibles and various other activities you’re looking at at least 40 hours. The game is a visual masterpiece – the thought and details behind every machine are amazing, the scenery, the landscape and the story all deliver on a both a personal and a big picture scale. There are some minor ease of life improvements to be desired like being able to pay to fill your medicine pouch, also sometimes the climbable areas can be a little hard to see, but none of these are really deal breakers. The size of the world and amount of things to do can be a bit daunting and I did occasionally struggle to find the motivation to finish it, but I was very glad when I did finally see it through to a close.

Overall the narrative, character design, aesthetics and gameplay will transport you to another world. The size of the world and the amount of things to do will keep you busy for days. Some fights will really get your heart going and the story will make you think about the world and humanity as a whole. This is a modern classic, making it most certainly a must play. With a sequel coming soon, it’s definitely worth picking this up, especially considering the low prices.

Tips

  • Get the machine override components as soon as you can
  • Choose your fights – you don’t have to take down every machine you see
  • Farm animals for meats and skins
  • Upgrade your carrying/ammo capacity from the “Crafting” part of the menu
  • Rather than trying to figure out a machine’s weaknesses with your focus in the fight, open the menu and check your notebook for details on all scanned machines
  • Use overrides to pit machines against each other
  • Use the ropecaster to tie down flying enemies
  • The tearblaster is incredibly strong at close range and can help strip a machine of it’s most lethal weapons
  • Aim to get the purple level weapons/armour as soon as you can, you can also have a variety of weapons to switch between depending on the enemy
  • The lure/call skill can be very useful when trying to pull a specific machine to a stealth area for a quick and quiet kill

Useful Links

The Gauntlet: Roguelike Turn-based RPG

The Game

The Gauntlet by Cutlass is a minimalist turn based RPG. A simple, retro feel and a great time waster. The game is focused on combat over 100s of floors of monsters. You can also permanently upgrade your heroes or purchase new ones with your

You can pick what difficulty gauntlet you’d like to start, after which you select your fighters – initially there are 4 classes available and more can be unlocked through cash or in-game currency. The 4 base classes are Warrior, Thief, Mage and the Knight – each offering different stats and its own skill tree. Once you’ve selected your 3 fighters you are plunged into the gauntlet and you’ll start fighting waves of enemies. The game will cycle through your characters allowing to choose your moves – attack, defend, use items or cast spells. Beat all the floors and you’ll have mastered that gauntlet.

Worth it?

Overall it’s a brilliantly nice and simple game with a unique art style and solid gameplay. There is potential to expand on the game by having equipment for the different classes, more achievements, challenges or perhaps even some different game modes. Each new class costs $1.99 or 50 000 souls, which are fairly easy to collect from a few successful runs. This means there’s no pressure to actually purchase classes, but buying them is a great way to support the developers. There are also no ads, which is awesome. When you need to do something else you can just exit or pause the game and it will save your progress, convenient for when you’re out and about and just need something to do for 5-10 minutes. The game is worth a download, just don’t get too distracted because you will keep thinking “just one more floor” and we all know how that goes.

Tips

  • Use items to restore health/mana, also items are per character rather than a shared pool of items
  • Clear smaller easier units before focusing on the boss
  • Mage is useful against phantom characters, who don’t take damage from physical attacks (they do take damage from various spells though)
  • Knight has a “Provoke” (Taunt) ability that will make enemies more likely to target it

Useful Links