[Game: Tricone Lab, Partickhill Games, 2015]
Salubrious Cells:

The Relaxing, Fluid Feel and Fresh, Stylized Design of Partickhill Games’ Tricone Lab

 

Tricone Lab screenshot with many chambers - Partickhill Games Limited

Introduction:

A few weeks ago, your Mid-week Mission was a review of a new indie puzzle game centering on triangles. This week, your Mid-week Mission is a review of a new indie puzzle game centering on triangles. Superficial similarities and kidding aside, Tricone Lab by Partickhill Games offers a totally unique and enjoyable tour through an alternate-dimension chemistry and biology. It is a logic-based puzzle game that I enjoyed enough that I finished its suite of 100 included levels in just three sessions.

Still, with the game in early access at present—and not having scratched the surface of the community-made levels on offer—I am by no means finished fabricating Tricones as of yet. And don’t be fooled by the screenshots in this article looking grey and lifeless, by the way; the levels are in constant motion, and the constituent elements feel lively and organic when playing. It’s not all peaches and cream, as you’ll find below, but overall I want to spend this article convincing you that playing Tricone Lab is a relaxing and fun use of your time.

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[Game: Tricone Lab, Partickhill Games, 2015]
Salubrious Cells:

The Relaxing, Fluid Feel and Fresh, Stylized Design of Partickhill Games’ Tricone Lab

was last modified: August 17th, 2017 by Daniel Podgorski

[Game: Pixel Piracy, Quadro Delta, 2015]
Swashbuckling Bored:

The Bad Design Choices, Game-breaking Bugs, and Superficial Execution of Quadro Delta’s Pixel Piracy

 

Introduction:

I have previously written, on more than one occasion, about games with simple premises or gimmicky attributes, which succeed due to the high quality of their execution. Today I would like to talk about a game with a great, interesting premise that fails due to the low quality of its actual design and execution. Pixel Piracy, a pirate-based RTS RPG with roguelike elements, is a game that was in an abysmal state at launch, but which has come a long way since then; the problem is that it has come nowhere near far enough, and does not seem likely to ever do so.

One of my biggest problems with the game is that its most grievous flaws are not apparent to the player until after a few hours in-game. In fact, Pixel Piracy is almost enjoyable, if a little repetitive, for almost half of its campaign. At that point, however, the small cracks widen into crevices, into which fall all of your hopes of ever completing the game with a positive opinion of it. I have completed the main campaign, and it was no easy task to do so (although the gameplay is easy as cake, the game’s technical problems and repetitive design made progress difficult). Now let me discourage you from doing the same.

Pixel Piracy screenshot visual effects comparison - Quadro Delta - negative review - criticism

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[Game: Pixel Piracy, Quadro Delta, 2015]
Swashbuckling Bored:

The Bad Design Choices, Game-breaking Bugs, and Superficial Execution of Quadro Delta’s Pixel Piracy

was last modified: July 14th, 2016 by Daniel Podgorski

[Game: Rogue Legacy, Cellar Door Games, 2013]
Turned Up to 11:

Rogue Legacy‘s Remix Bosses and the Virtues of Nonlinear Difficulty Scaling

 

Rogue Legacy screenshot with castle - Cellar Door Games - remix bosses - nonlinear difficulty scaling

Introduction:

Today’s topic is yet another indie game, and yet another roguelike-inspired game, and yet another game that I will be praising for its satisfying difficulty. But having covered similar topics so many times now in this series, I would like to do something a little different with Cellar Door Games’ Rogue Legacy by discussing its implementation of remix bosses as an absurd (and, from my perspective, totally welcome) spike in difficulty.

I have done this a few times in this series so far, primarily when covering games that have already been met with overwhelming praise by critics and audiences alike. In such cases, rather than throwing my praise on the praise pile, I try to offer something new, from a reading of the pixel art in FTL to a look at the atmosphere in Spacechem to a precise account of The Binding of Isaac‘s succession of The Legend of Zelda. Today’s angle: Rogue Legacy‘s various remix bosses may be seen as a prime example of nonlinearity in the scaling of a game’s difficulty, which produces potentially unintuitive benefits for the player.

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[Game: Rogue Legacy, Cellar Door Games, 2013]
Turned Up to 11:

Rogue Legacy‘s Remix Bosses and the Virtues of Nonlinear Difficulty Scaling

was last modified: October 12th, 2017 by Daniel Podgorski

[Game: Volvox, Neotenia, 2015]
A Natural Selection:

On the Strong Core Gameplay and Puzzle Design in Neotenia’s Volvox

 

Volvox, an indie puzzle game developed by the small Italian team Neotenia, was one of the bold (or unfortunate) few to have a release in the weeks directly preceding a Steam Winter sale, which seem every bit as capable of eclipsing new Steam releases as they were prior to the sales’ recent regrettable-but-understandable format changes.

Volvox‘s store page boasts 250 levels in its campaign (and accordingly 60 hours of entertainment), which had me both intrigued and wary. A promise of that much content makes me wonder if the quality keeps up throughout, and whether it strays at times into repetition. As you can probably tell from the title of the article, my concerns were laid to rest; let me tell you how and why.

Volvox screenshot with cutscene sequence - Neotenia - difficult puzzle game Continue reading

[Game: Volvox, Neotenia, 2015]
A Natural Selection:

On the Strong Core Gameplay and Puzzle Design in Neotenia’s Volvox

was last modified: January 14th, 2016 by Daniel Podgorski

[Game: Crypt of the NecroDancer, Brace Yourself Games, 2015]
In the Beginning was the Beat:

How Crypt of the NecroDancer Turns a Potential Gimmick into an Integral Game Mechanic

 

Crypt of the NecroDancer screenshot with Cadence in Zone 3 - rhythm roguelike - Brace Yourself Games

Introduction:

It often happens on this site that I set out to write a simple article and realize after I begin that I just have a lot to say about the subject. It happened when I reviewed Patrick McCabe’s novel Breakfast on Pluto; it happened when I analyzed Steven Spielberg’s movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind; and it happened in your previous Mid-week Mission post, on LUFTRAUSERS. Today I want to rectify my last review’s rambling by actually writing a simple article about a relatively new indie game, Crypt of the NecroDancer by Brace Yourself Games. Let’s see how I do.

Crypt of the NecroDancer is a 2-D top-down rhythm-based roguelike. Right off the bat, if you’re anything like me then you’re wary of a genre mash-up that seems to have most of its justification in being a quirky gimmick rather than being a well-reasoned basis for gameplay. But I’m now almost 25 hours into my experience of NecroDancer, and I’m ready to start singing its praises (preferably as a duet with the game’s vocally gifted merchant NPC).

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[Game: Crypt of the NecroDancer, Brace Yourself Games, 2015]
In the Beginning was the Beat:

How Crypt of the NecroDancer Turns a Potential Gimmick into an Integral Game Mechanic

was last modified: June 28th, 2016 by Daniel Podgorski