Review: Cosmic Top Secret (PS4)

this one’s something else…

Indie publisher nakana io’s latest, Cosmic Top Secret ($9.99, multiplatform) just might be one of the best surprises of 2021.Part historical document, part adventure with a detour into a bit of mystery, the game tells the gripping tale of Trine Laier, or “T” as she goes by in the game as she tries to uncover just what her parents did during the Cold War. Fascinating and supremely surreal, the game is compelling from start to finish and would even make a pretty good true spy film, intentionally goggle-eyed protagonist and all. But don’t take my word for it- take a look at this gameplay:

There are puzzles to solve, loads of clues to gather and enough intrigue here to keep your brain and fingers busy. T navigates the environments by transforming into a paper ball and rolling about. You’ll also need to master a bit of jumping,. which comes in handy when you get stuck and later on you can transform into a plane, which has it’s own uses you’ll discover. The game also had you collect all sorts of specific secrets T needs to unlock other secrets, all while trying her best to get her dad to tell her about the past. Have another trailer, folks:

The visual style is both striking and genius, especially the more humorous aspects found in the work. Early on, you’re told how to skip text using a very lengthy explanation on the Cold War. The game helps out here by cutting off the lengthy text with something like a “Blah, blah, you can find this stuff on the internet” quote. Dossiers and a few machines are used to break codes but a few of the puzzles and some of the trickier movement areas may stump players temporarily. T can also toss grenades and later smoke bombs to find certain secrets, but that can be a bit imprecise until you nail that task perfectly. Also, that sequence with the angry buzzard in one level can be irksome if you roll off the path and fall a few times. Progress is auto-saved at certain points, but you’ll want to manually save from time to time (just in case…). Th game can be completed in around eight hours or so and it’s time well spent because you’ll come away quite impressed at what you learned. I know I certainly was.

Yes, indeed it is!

The really cool thing here is you don’t need a pricey console to play this on as the game is also available on Google Play and the App Store, so you can enjoy this on your even more overpriced phone or tablet, ha and ha. As a exercise in storytelling, the game excels on a few fronts and the overall experience is one that will stick with you for a while. Highly recommended, of course.

-GW

Mail Call, Part 2077…

so far, it’s better than I thought. Ask me again in a week.

So, it was on sale, it was my birthday and I couldn’t resist. Yeah, yeah- I’ve seen some grumpy commentary on the game, but running on the PS5, I’m having quite a load of fun with Cyberpunk 2077, well, so far. I’m only about an hour in, but there’s so much to do (the character creator alone is pretty extensive and that time spent isn’t part of that hour played) that an actual review will be a few weeks away. We shall see where this goes and yes, I’m expecting technical issues galore as the game continues. But I never bought into the pre-release hype train at any point and who knows when (or if) there will be a PS5 port in the future.

-GW

Review: Loot Hero DX (PS4/PS5)

“Surely you joust”, the knight notes, setting off for adventure…

(Or, The Wonders of Dirt Simplicity These Days)

As a well-aged gamer, Ratalaika and Swedish developer VaragtP‘s fun little game. Loot Hero DX ($4.99) really hit a sweet spot here at the home office. I’ll tell youright now, the game won’t be for all tastes. There’s no penalty in place for dying, you earn endless piles of gold to spend even when you’re not playing (more on this later) and like some of the developer’s other casual games, it practically bends over backwards to make sure you’re having a good time. In other words, this ain’t no Demon’s Souls in terms of difficulty, that’s for sure. Take a peek at the game trailer below:

In a nutshell, you’re a knight tasked with dispatching quite a massive number of monsters and a few bosses on your way to the big dragon awaiting you on the final level. Gameplay couldn’t be simpler. Initially, you’ll run back and forth in a stage, leveling up and earning gold to spend in the shops found in each stage on upgrades needed to survive more than a few hits from enemies. Attacking is as simple as colliding with an enemy and surviving, but as levels are gained and you raise your stats, power and speed improve somewhat drastically. Stages that took maybe a minute or two to complete will blaze by in well under ten seconds at higher levels My personal record was about four seconds, but the game really got to me and I ended up playing well past level 100. While it can be completed in maybe 45 minutes or less, the appeal here comes from replaying and getting that knight even stronger and faster in those replays.

only 88+ levels to go…..

And, therein lies the game’s main flaw- it’s far too repetitive. Despite some nice pixel art and some pretty dynamic music, the first level plays exactly the same as the last, but killing the big dragon at the end doesn’t end the game at all. Each time you clear that last boss, you also rescue a miner that automatically throws itself into mining up more gold for you, making subsequent plays even more ridiculously easy. You can blow through the game, come back in an hour and have maxed gold which will be more than enough to boost you stats to incredible levels. At some point, you’ll be laughing at how fast the game becomes, perhaps even cranking the speed down so you can see what sort of damage you’re doing.

Overall, it’s not in the running for any Game of The Year awards, but for $5, you’re getting a fun little throwback that won’t burst your brain cells and tosses rewards your way constantly while doing that bending over backward thing it does so well. Now, about the potential possibility of a Cooking Witch console port, Ratalaika and VaragtP? Lets get on that, please – Halloween is coming up soon an that game would be a perfect fit.

-GW

i

A Shot In The Dark/ A Hole In The Head

So, I FINALLY got vaccinated this afternoon after the city here drove me half crazy trying to get an appointment to no avail. First dose of two and yes, you better believe yours truly made that followup appointment when I made my reservation. So, it’s back to the same spot in a few weeks’ time. Walgreen’s just needs to fix its reservation site so you can choose your shot location. I had to keep reloading the page until the closest store appeared. Until that point. I kept getting sent a few miles from where I wanted to go. Still, it’s better than New York State’s awful “fill out a form and go nowhere fast” system, but they’re offering a free hamburger or a ticket to a baseball game, neither of which I need, thank you much.

Anyway, after I got my shot, The pharmacist told me to hang out in the store for about 15 minutes in case I was going to have some sort on negative reaction, which had me seriously thinking of Frederic March for some reason. Well, nothing bad took place and I’m fine a few hours later, but I did make a fun discovery in the store while wandering the aisles:https://www.walgreens.com/store/c/how-to-wash-hand-soap-fragrance-free/ID=300400645-product

Who knew there was soap with instructions on it out there? I bought two bottles and yes, I’m now a fan. Funny how that works, isn’t it? To me it’s a nicer version of a De La Soul song from their first LP:
This stuff is great

-GW

Go Ask Alice… Then Turn to Page 38

I’ve gotten a few more paperbacks since last we spoke, all fantasy themed, as usual. Most have been fun to dip into for a spell, but I’ve had the most fun with Johnathan Green‘s Alice’s Nightmare In Wonderland, published by Winged Hussar and Ace Gamebooks. I had to go buy a deck of playing cards at Dollar Tree, but if you have those, or a pair of dice handy, plus a pencil with a good eraser (plus a notepad so you don’t have to deface the book). you’re good to go.

Yes, this is a fine choose your own adventure novel clocking in at 328 pages, and there are plenty of lovely illustrations by Kev Crossley that look like vintage art from the early 1900’s. In fact, the art charmed me so much. I’m sorely tempted to get back to drawing myself, and soon. Fortunately, the plot is pretty good and indeed, this is quite the page turner, with multiple scenarios for everything from deadly combat encounters to fancy tea parties, Mad Hatter included. There’s a bit of hiariously gory content when things go wrong, but if you got a chuckle out of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, you’re pretty much all set here.

The only drawback to this book is it really, really wants you to write in it, making loaning it out a bit tricky, Now, you can do what I did and transcribe certain stat charts to that notepad and pass the book for a friend to play, but that’s up to you, of course. Looking at Ace’s selection of other Gamebooks, I’m tempted to pick another one up to play one of these days, well. once I whittle down the pile of work I’m slowly getting to. Uh, anyone want to borrow a book?

-GW