Monday, 6 July 2020

Asylum Unboxing: Gris Special Reserve Edition [Switch].

Another of the recent deliveries from Special Reserve Games is this stunning edition of Gris. One of the things that I really like about these releases is the size. They’re absolutely gorgeous, have a physical copy of the game and they don’t take up a lot of unnecessary space on our shelves.

At just a tiny bit wider than a standard Switch game and a regular height across all of them, these look great on display with other Switch releases. We used to be fans of the whole ‘bigger is better’ idea with CEs, usually always opting for the biggest Editions available with huge, cheaply made figures/statues. But as time went on, our space got more limited and we had to tighten up our options - that and a lot of AAA titles have been massively inflating the costs of their Editions in the past few years. It used to be easy to pick up the ‘best’ tiered Edition of any AAA game for £100-150 tops. Now we’re seeing more and more releases of much less substantial games for way higher prices (I mean come on, £260 for the Spongebob game’s biggest Edition?).

Just look at this! The artwork is magnificent and the colours all look so beautiful together, and the outer box really complements the artwork of the Switch case so well.

Another thing I really like about Special Reserve’s releases is that a lot of them are numbered. You get the joy of getting to see just how many - or few - of these releases are out there in the wild. For fans that missed out the first time round, SRG are releasing an un-numbered Second Pressing for Switch come July 23rd. It’ll be an open preorder, since this release is un-numbered, so you don’t need to worry about getting in there fast. I would definitely recommend keeping an eye out for this going live if you want to jump on it. It also has slightly different artwork from the current release, which prevents people from being too annoyed about a ‘reprint’. 

On the same day they will also be doing a numbered run of PS4 copies of My Friend Pedro, which is the next game I’ll be showing off for you all here (albeit on Switch!) so be sure to check back for that :)

As with their other releases, Gris has an alternate artwork on the inside of the box which covers the full case without any of the blurb or ratings info, etc. taking up space. I actually love the cover that’s already on the outside, so even though it has the back space taken up I think I’ll leave it that way around.

Another instruction booklet with this release, again showcasing some lovely art inside. 

This Special Reserve also includes some absolutely amazing art cards. These are gorgeous and have a really beautiful watercolour look that accurately depicts the game. I really want to get these framed ASAP, so as soon as I have done so I’ll be sure to update you all on Insta :)

And lastly, down at the very bottom of the outer box we can see the logos for everyone involved in this mesmerising release: Nomada Studio, the Spanish indie developer behind Gris; Devolver Digital, the fantastically entertaining publishers; and of course, Special Reserve Games who without them we wouldn’t have this Edition!

Once again, we are thrilled to have received some truly gorgeous items from Special Reserve, and can’t wait to see everything else they bring out in future!

Do you have any Special Reserve Editions? What do you think of them?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

Sunday, 5 July 2020

Asylum Unboxing: Minit Special Reserve Edition [Switch].

Special Reserve Games have been absolutely killing it lately with all of their releases. They are one of the most popular companies to release physical copies of a lot of indie titles, and it’s easy to see why they’re so popular with fans. 

We’ve just received a package from them with a few of their recent titles to review and unbox, and as always their stuff is just fantastic. This Minit release is gorgeous, and comes with an 18x24” screen printed cotton map to show off the World of Minit. 

Early adopters of Special Reserve’s Editions get the added bonus of their releases being packaged in an awesome outer box, as well as getting a sturdier collectible hardcover Instruction Booklet (in addition to the one already packaged inside the game case).

Sadly it was just the base game and Map of Minit that I received for this one, but nevertheless it is a gorgeous release. It is evident that a lot of time, effort and love goes into SRG’s products; from the packaging all the way down to the reversible artwork on the sleeve, and the extra bonus items in the game cases such as stickers, everything is put together in such a nice package. It definitely makes a change from a lot of the bog-standard cheaply thrown together CEs that you tend to get from AAA-titles nowadays.

As mentioned, the sleeve of the game case is reversible and can be flipped around if you want a different look for the games on your shelf. The alternate art is always a full wraparound design, removing all of the standard game info and ratings spiel normally found on the back. All of that information is necessary by law - I believe - so to have alternate art available as an option allows for greater creativity and design for these covers. Another cover, as a separate purchasable option, was available with grey toned art instead but this has since sold out.

The Switch release is fully sold out, but the PS4 Reserve with the alternate grey cover is still available at present, in very low quantities. It also comes with the gorgeous map, so if you’re looking to get your hands on this release, you better visit this link and get one nabbed fast.

Within the small Instruction Booklet there are, of course, instructions on how to play Minit. But there are also gorgeous tidbits of art and everything feels very high quality. Similarly, the sticker sheet that is also inside the game case has various stickers of characters from Minit and as much as I love using stickers, these ones will stay on the little backing sheet! :)

I mean look at them, they’re just adorable!

And finally we have the Map of Minit. This is my favourite part of this release as there’s just so much detail in it. It is printed on high quality cotton and just looks amazing. Definitely one to be framed and hung up on the wall, so as soon as I can get a frame suitable for it I’ll be getting this bad boy ironed and up on display. 

If you’ve ever played Minit, this map should be instantly recognisable to you and whilst I haven’t sat down and used it to guide me when playing, I imagine it would come in handy when trying to get your bearings to get as much done as possible in each 60 second run as you can.

Overall, I’m really happy with the Minit Special Reserve Edition and know that it will be a great addition to the Asylum. Minit is a fantastic game, and one that is in a league of its own when it comes to indies as no other game really follows the same format as well.

We’ve got a few more SRG titles to unbox and review over the coming days, so keep checking back for more!

What other Editions would you like to see us unbox? 
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

Sunday, 21 June 2020

Asylum Unboxing: Tricky Towers Collector’s Edition [Switch].

As fans of physical media and wishing to conserve our collection, we love discovering companies that produce physical copies of games we love as well as games we’ve never played before. One such company that we came across recently is Super Rare Games. Based out of London - another huge plus for us as a lot of these companies tend to be across the world from us and lead to customs fees, etc. so to have one just down South is fantastic - Super Rare have been around for three years now, so for us to just find out about them recently feels like stumbling upon a goldmine!

They were awesome enough to send us over a copy of one of their latest releases: Tricky Towers Collector’s Edition. Like a lot of their previous releases, this one sold out super fast so that’s definitely a lesson for the future - if you want one of their titles, be sure to get in there early doors! Luckily there’s a few of their older titles that are still in stock that I definitely want to go back and get as soon as I can, especially some of their bigger releases such as The Gardens Between CE and Little Inferno w/ Steelbook, as those two are unbelievably gorgeous too.

Opening up the package, the game is wrapped in cellophane and within this includes a pack of 3 trading cards along with a Super Rare Games branded sticker with Tricky Towers artwork. The game itself is the most up to date version of the title, with all six of the previously released DLC packs built in right on the cartridge. These are Gem Bricks, Candy Bricks, Holographic Bricks, Galaxy Bricks, Spirit Animal Pack and Indie Friends Pack. The Indie Friends pack adds characters from other indie titles such as Octodad, Nuclear Throne, Lethal League and more for you to choose from while you play.

The artwork on the box is beautiful, with bright, pop-py colours that really stand out and make this game grab your attention. Even without having ever played it before, the packaging had me instantly intrigued. You can tell there’s a Tetris vibe to the game, with colourful, shaped blocks moving down from above and it’s up to you to stack them carefully. The Tricky part is in the Towers. Trying to get these to balance whilst keeping an eye on the timer and racing the ever ascending time-guide-line to the checkered banner can be infuriating, but hilarious. As well as the 50 single player trials, there are other game modes available, with local and online multiplayer options for up to four players to go head to head in different modes such as Race, Survival and Puzzle.

I am sad to say however that I am utter garbage at this game. It’s very well documented throughout my previous posts here that I am a very panicky player when it comes to games. Real sweaty palm energy from me. So that, combined with the very real issue of Joycon drift means that I simply suck at playing this. Playing in docked mode with my Pro Controller helps a tonne, but I still make a lot of dumb schoolboy errors in my panicked state - oops. Tricky Towers is a lot of fun, and is definitely addictive as even being as bad as I am, I could not stop having “just one more try” for a few hours straight. The portable nature of the Switch combined with the short levels means that this game is fantastic for travelling too, as you can just dive right in for a game and easily put it down a few minutes later after completing a level or two - well, if you can convince yourself to come off of it!

We are really happy with this release and will definitely be keeping an eye on Super Rare Games in future for all of their releases. If you want to keep an eye on them too, you can find them here as well as on Twitter.

Have you got any of Super Rare’s releases? What do you think of them?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

Saturday, 30 May 2020

Asylum Reviews: Maneater [Xbox One].

Growing up, one game that I would always inevitably return to on whatever crappy PC or phone I had at the time was Feeding Frenzy. If you don’t know Feeding Frenzy, the basic premise was that you play as a fish that has to eat other – smaller – fish,in order to grow in size and be able to eat everything. From there, we got Hungry Shark World, released in 2018, which was clearly inspired by the style of Feeding Frenzy and had a very similar – albeit expanded and improved – feel. But still, something felt missing.

A new challenger approaches…

Enter Maneater. Developed and published by Tripwire Interactive, Maneater is the evolution of games like Feeding Frenzy, in that not only is the gameplay massively better, but there’s a decent level of story to get you invested, too. You play as a female bull shark looking for revenge against a shark hunter, known as Scaly Pete, for killing your mother. Similarly, he's on the hunt for you for chomping his hand off on that very same day. It's a full open-world munch-fest and it is glorious.

The game starts out with a documentary-style intro, which continues throughout the story. Characters shown in these clips have an almost Borderlands look to them, with bright colours and exaggerated outlines. Hashtags appear in the bottom right corner, along with the “show” logo and time that it airs, further emphasising the documentary theme. It follows Scaly Pete on his quest to hunt for the shark that took his hand and gives a look into the life of Shark Hunters like him. Narration is provided by the fantastic Chris Parnell, who delivers every line with absolute hilarity.

The art style is really well done, with plenty of detail in everything around you. From the moment the game starts, you can see how stunning everything looks. The world is surprisingly large, and the differences from being under or above water are immediately obvious. Below water, visibility is often impacted allowing you only to see a certain distance in front of you. Above water, your visibility goes right across the map to all of the glorious sights: towering hotels with bright neon lights of the nearby resort, motorway bridges extending over the water and gorgeous golf courses with tonnes of unsuspecting holidaymakers in and out of the water. Sound design is done fantastically also, with a clear difference between underwater sounds and those above sea level. And of course you’ll be well entertained by the narrator giving funny quips about what's going on. I really enjoyed just swimming around and taking in the view. It's not often we can delve into the ocean in games and fully see it as its own world.

One thing I would have really liked to see is more natural interaction to make this feel like a truly living, breathing world. Creatures don't attack each other, and human characters have a tendency to act very awkward when you go near them. In the water, they'll swim away but upon reaching land, they mostly just stop and panic on the spot. This results in it being very easy to get the human kills necessary for side quests, and it would have been interesting to have some require a more stealthy approach so as to not spook everyone away; currently you can just munch while most of them stand in a group.

As you grow, you’ll unlock mutations that can be applied to give you an edge against your opponents. These can include additional organ mutations, such as improved Sonar, Health, and eventually mutations to enable you to be out of the water for longer (helpful for collectibles). Similarly, you can also get physical mutations for different body parts: head, fins, tail, etc. and these alter appearance (such as to give a Bone-covered look) as well as give buffs to damage against boats or other aquatic creatures.

One of the mutations I kept on for the majority of my playtime was Sonar. Using sonar allows you to see a bit further underwater - albeit temporarily - but gives off a very eerie vibe as you see all of the hills and junk of the underwater landscape flash into view before slowly fading out again. Thankfully, the sonar can be upgraded to have a wider reach as this is a life-saver for finding all of the collectibles dotted around the map. You’ll have to hunt down License Plates, Nutrient Caches and Landmarks, some of which are hidden surprisingly well and will require some thorough exploration of the sewers to locate. License Plates and Nutrient Caches are fairly standard collectibles, but the Landmarks are the ones that really shine. These are denoted by a small signpost, and many of these landmarks are brilliant pop culture references. Some of my favourites were the Pennywise and Arrested Development gags, although there were plenty more that gave me a chuckle whilst hunting them down.

As you collect items and eat everything you can, from humans to Sperm Whales and everything in between, you continue to grow. Whilst it can feel a little grindy at first trying to grow, you’ll quickly find yourself being fairly OP and can easily wipe out most things with little effort. Some people may be annoyed by this, but I found it to really make things enjoyable as it became a challenge to just take on more and more hunters at once and laugh maniacally as I blow up boat after boat and devour every human in sight… maybe I have a problem? Having large numbers of hunters on your tail does cause a slight lag in framerate, but not enough to put me off.

I couldn't put the game down, even abandoning Animal Crossing entirely during my time playing. Making sure I gathered everything was priority, and to see the full map completed was just *chef kiss* Allan has been a bit slower than me playing through, and came across an odd glitch earlier today in that after a certain cutscene late on in the game, when he reappeared back in the Grotto, a hunter had been transported there too before getting stuck in his shark's mouth. This kinda broke things a little bit, as he had to reload the game in order to get rid of the stuck hunter (since he couldn't bite anything because of it), and in the process had his save rolled back several XP levels and prior to completed story missions that he'd gotten achievements for. Thankfully this just meant he had to re-do quite a bit, but at least his save was safe! I don't know if this is an isolated issue, as it came up with a savefile error whilst he was playing, and I got through the entire game with no issues, but just a word of warning in case anyone else comes across this issue.

In the end, we decided to give Maneater the Collecting Asylum rating of 9/10. Aside from Allan's glitch earlier, occasional framerate drops, and a couple of ideas I'd have liked to have seen implemented, I don't really have anything negative to say here. I thoroughly enjoyed this game, and am excited to see what Tripwire has in store for the future.

Have you played Maneater yet? What did you think of it?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

Thank you to Koch Media for the Maneater Xbox One review code!

Monday, 11 May 2020

Asylum Reviews: Ministry of Broadcast [Switch].

Inspired by Orwell’s 1984, Ministry of Broadcast (from the aptly named Ministry of Broadcast Studio) is an intriguing little platformer recently released on the Switch. The country is divided by The Wall, and you, as a character named Orange, a rare type of human known as a ginger (haha - so relatable!), who must take part in a brutal reality TV show known as “The Wall Show” in order to win the right to see your family again.

You must travel through arenas as Big Brother watches over your every move. A variety of different traps and hazards will be flung your way, and it is up to you to navigate the insanity laid out before you. For all that the core concept of the watchful eye of the regime is a treacherous and very serious thing to deal with, the dark humour spread throughout the story and NPC dialogue helps to keep things lighter and makes the game actually very funny. Between the humour, heavy themes and the cinematic platforming style it gives off a very Oddworld vibe, so that’s a win with us!

Art style is interesting; with a fairly common pixel-art look utilising a lot less colour than we’re normally used to for the style. Lots of muted greys and metallic blue-tones, and an overall tense dystopian feel works really well here. And with your HUD integrated into the environment instead of taking over a large portion of your screen, you feel very drawn in to what is going on. Hints and tips are subtly shown, so when times are tough in the arenas it helps to pay close attention to your surroundings. Sound design is also done perfectly, with music that changes very well alongside the story.

What starts as fairly normal platforming becomes much more difficult later on, and the specificity of your movements become all the more important. The controls of MoB are very precise, and often a poorly timed jump will spell disaster for you. I found that if I struggled too much at one particular area, I would be best to just sit the Switch down for a bit and come back to it later. It gives you enough time to calm down from the adrenaline rush and rage, and lets the information sink into your brain so it’s much easier to deal with later once you’re clear-minded. Muscle memory, ftw.

The morality of Ministry of Broadcast is something that is done fantastically well. Earlier in the game, Orange’s fellow competitors are simply a stepping stone to success (sometimes literally!), but as the game progresses and things get more challenging, with the outlook becoming more dire with every passing moment, desperation kicks in and these choices – that are often the difference between life or death – feel that much heavier. Luckily, if you pay attention in the sleeping areas between arenas you will find characters you previously sacrificed, with some stating that the thick padding they are wearing kept them safe from the spike pits.

Puzzles are something I really enjoy in games, whereas Allan sometimes finds them a bit too frustrating and leads to the fun being sucked right out for him. But here, we both really enjoyed them, even when some of them required some serious out-of-the-box thinking to get to the bottom of. Some of the puzzles involve you having to figure out how to cross spikes by causing competitors to fall on them and create a path, other times you may have to sacrifice someone to a dog in order to pass. Trying to think a few steps ahead at all times is difficult, but will ultimately help you when it comes to timing some of the more difficult challenges.

At present, the game is really well done and we thoroughly enjoyed our time with it. A patch was scheduled to drop recently, however due to the current pandemic (still can’t believe I am writing those words) the patch has been delayed. This will add an option of “Normal” or “Easy” modes within the Story Mode, enabling people to experience the game without as much stress if they select the easier option. There will also be some bug fixes and additional language support added in with the patch (which I presume may help with the spelling/grammatical errors, of which there are quite a few), as well as some new animations and chapter screens included, so I’m excited to give it another go once the patch is live to see the changes.

As it stands, we have decided to give Ministry of Broadcast the Collecting Asylum rating of 8/10.

Have you played Ministry of Broadcast yet? What did you think of it?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

Thank you to HitCents for the Ministry of Broadcast Switch review code!

Sunday, 10 May 2020

Asylum Reviews: Infinite - Beyond the Mind [Xbox One].

Futuristic retro action platformer Infinite - Beyond the Mind from developer Emilie Coyo has recently released and we have been super excited to get stuck in. Playing as one of two friends: Tanya or Olga, you will have to hunt down Queen Evangelyn and her armies after they kidnapped your partner.

Controls are simple and effective, and make playing very enjoyable. Combat feels fast and your chosen character can move around the screen quickly to attack enemies or dodge roll out of the way of incoming fire. You have a stamina bar which keeps you in check, preventing you from just endlessly rolling everywhere, however this regenerates quickly upon stopping.

Playable in co-op as well as single player, having another player really adds a lot to the game. It makes it much easier to get through harder areas of the game, as well giving you some assistance when you come up against bosses. A second player can drop in at any point, taking command of a flying robot with a decently ranged weapon. 

Enemies are well varied, with an arsenal of different weapons you'll have to come up against, including shotguns and sniper rifles. Most enemies can be defeated fairly easily in just a few hits, but smaller enemies can also just be sped past and ignored on your mission to go up against the big guys.

The art style of Infinite is very nicely done, with a cute pixel art style that really conveys the realistic but futuristic setting well. Environments are well detailed and you will find hidden items sporadically placed around levels, allowing you to regain health or get an extra life. Sound design is fantastic also, with a fun chip-tune style which really adds to the overall retro theme. 

At just £7.99 on the Xbox Store, it's a cheap little indie title that will do you a turn if you're looking for something new to play. It's a pretty straightforward game, and doesn't do anything groundbreaking with the genre but we had fun nonetheless.

In the end, we decided to give Infinite - Beyond the Mind the Collecting Asylum rating of  7/10.

Have you played Infinite - Beyond the Mind yet? What did you think of it?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

Thanks to Blowfish Studios for the Infinite - Beyond the Mind review code!

Sunday, 3 May 2020

Asylum Reviews: Duck Souls+ [Xbox One].

Green Dinosaur Games’ Duck Souls+ is an adorable, fast-paced action platformer in the vein of Super Meat Boy, but with a much less frustrating difficulty. You play as a cute little duck on a mission to save his species by finding all of the missing eggs.

With 100 levels to work your way through, there’s plenty to keep you busy. Some levels are harder than others but luckily most of them can be achieved fairly quickly. Deadly traps are placed throughout the levels, ready to obliterate your tiny little duck body and prevent you from rescuing the eggs. Like most games of this style, you will die a lot due to these traps. Thankfully, the reset of each level is quick and gets you right back into the action almost instantaneously, however sometimes this can leave you at a disadvantage as you are so eager to go again that you immediately die a further five times. It's so counter intuitive, but taking it easy really helped to get me through the tight spots or to time a jump perfectly. Buuut, I'm not always a follower of my own advice. Plenty of times I would just gun it and get so far successfully before turning into a panicky, sweaty-palmed mess before failing. Allan on the other hand seems to function better with the stress of going at speed, utterly putting me to shame.

Done in a bright, colourful pixel-art style, Duck Souls+ is a very aesthetically pleasing game. Levels are intricate, but laid out well enough that the pixel-art doesn’t hinder your ability to see the traps you have to navigate around. They’re also short and snappy enough to prevent you from getting bored too easily. As mentioned before, the game is very similar in style to games like Super Meat Boy, so don’t take the similarity in title to Dark Souls to heart. It was likely named as for the difficulty, however despite some frustrations at times; the game itself isn’t that hard.

From start to finish, Duck Souls+ can be completed in just an hour or two. A timer on screen continuously counts up the time spent playing, until you close the game or pause, that is. Around 70 levels in, Allan closed the game to sort out dinner and discovered it upon loading the game up again. Annoyed by the disappearing timer, he completed the rest of the game before restarting and playing from start to finish without pausing in order to have the timer there for the entire run… only to get no achievement or recognition for it. So taking too long just isn’t a factor, so don’t get yourself too bogged down by the timer looming over you. For completionists like ourselves, this game is ideal as it is quick to get through and the achievements are straightforward (aside from one secret one, but even that one is fairly simple). There's also 20 hats for you to collect, which can be equipped to give your duck a bit of personality.

Overall it’s a very simple game and one that we really enjoyed spending the short amount of time needed to complete it. And at the low price of just £4.99 on the Xbox Store, it’s a great little game for what it costs. Additionally, it is also available on Switch so if you’re looking for games that are quick and easy to get into, but similarly quick and easy to put down again, then this might be a perfect option for you. I feel that it would be a great travel companion, which is one of the few reasons I’m tempted to double dip.

In the end, we decided to give Duck Souls+ the Collecting Asylum rating of 7/10.

Have you played it yet? What did you think of it?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

Thank you to Ratalaika for the Duck Souls+ Xbox One review code!

Asylum Unboxing: Gris Special Reserve Edition [Switch].

Another of the recent deliveries from Special Reserve Games is this stunning edition of Gris. One of the things that I really like abou...