Friday, 19 July 2019

Asylum Reviews: Streets of Rogue [Xbox One].


Developed by Matt Dabrowski and published by TinyBuild, Streets of Rogue is just the kind of roguelite I've been waiting for. Definitely not quite as panic inducing as the likes of The Binding of Isaac, this game allows you to be a little more meticulous in how you go about things. 

Missions can be completed in a bunch of different ways, and certain characters may have an edge over others in particular levels. 


There's a decent selection of characters with various Abilities and Traits, as well as different items to begin a run with. Extra characters can be unlocked by successfully completing the unlock requirements, which can be anything from completing a specific level or freeing a captive within a level, to making it through an entire level without alerting or killing anyone.

Basic customisation of the characters gives you a little bit of input towards how you want to look, from changing hairstyle and colour, to choosing whether or not you like the bearded look and picking a skin colour. When selecting a character, you'll notice that each one has a "Big Quest" that they have as an additional objective. These are specific to each character type and usually add a little more difficulty to completing a run. It's an optional quest but it's definitely one I'd recommend going for as the XP boost each level is pretty good if you achieve that level's requirement.


Pressing Y (on Xbox) brings up the map, with a nice little breakdown of the level's missions as well as the Big Quest details. Points of interest are marked on the map with their symbols from chests to be unlocked, a yellow M for a mission-giver (optional missions to gain Chicken Nuggets, the game's currency for buying extra stuff for the item pool and new traits, etc).and of course the colour coded arrows for the main objectives. There's not a whole lot of depth to the story itself, but the over-arching Big Quests for each character and having to change up your playstyle depending on the character class you choose kept me thoroughly interested.

As always, I love the pixel art style, and the soundtrack is catchy and really suits the style of game. By far, my favourite thing included in the game is the variety of status effects that can be activated throughout levels that have this mutator applied. As shown below, going Giant is amazing and allows you to just obliterate anything in your path - but be warned, it won't last long before you get another effect (and that could be something bad like being weak!). This added a fun layer to the game and kept things feeling fresh throughout.


In the end, we decided to give Streets of Rogue the Collecting Asylum rating of 8.5/10.

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

- V x

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Asylum Reviews: Car Mechanic Simulator [Xbox One].


Now let me preface this with the fact that I know very little about cars. That's actually what got me interested in Car Mechanic Simulator in the first place. Allan is currently learning to drive and hoping to pass his test and get a cheap car by the end of the year (fingers crossed!) so I figured... what better way to learn some basics - and not-so-basics - about the inner workings of a car than through one of our favourite mediums?

The game begins with an optional Tutorial - of course I did it! - that explains a bit more about the workshop and what functions different tools have, as well as giving you the freedom to tinker about with the cars in your garage before taking one of them out on the Test Track. Tidbits of information are given to advise you on how the game works. Certain areas of the engine can only be access from underneath, so it states this when hovering over these areas to keep you right. Tools can be moved around the workshop to get them near to the car you're currently working on, and things like the Interior Detailing can be used to spruce up the seating without buying a full fresh set.


My dumb brain didn't think about the fact that post-tutorial I would likely lose these cars, so there I was happy as Larry, upgrading and customising the car to my ideal look after ripping the entire thing apart and pretty much building it from the ground up again. Sent the car in for a nice new colour finish - a pearlescent pinky-purple hue - and then took her out for a spin. And then the actual game began and my car was gone for good.

A few other things didn't compute in my brain at first, such as the car lifter - I couldn't get this to work at all, and instead would lift the car the tiniest bit off the ground and then I couldn't get it to go any further. Same with the oil change, I could not for the life of my figure out how to change the oil in the car, and with this being the only thing stopping me when it was time to go on to the Test Track I was raging. Drove myself mad trying to squeeze the camera up to the engine as close as I could to see if I was missing anything. I knew where the oil tray was, but no oil change cap. And then I finally discovered it and felt like the biggest idiot in the world as it was staring me right in the face the whole time.


I liked the basic premise of the gameplay, taking orders of what people need done to their cars and trying to get that done as fast as possible to earn money for your own little garage. Games like this speak well to me, such as Overcooked or a million and one other games where you have to do things in a certain order to fulfill a task. The driving moments of the game where you test out vehicles was the weakest part of the gameplay, as the mechanics just didn't feel tight enough and had that early-generation floatiness. I definitely preferred to just stick to repairing the vehicles rather than driving them.

The cost of materials and parts used for repairs, as well as the amount of time taken to complete a job determines how much you will profit. Each job (and tasks within the job) allows you to earn experience to level up and unlock skill points that can be used to do various helpful things like speeding up processes. Sometimes when a job comes in, it'll tell you exactly what the problem is - just replace all the tyres and brake pads, easy! - and other times it'll just say that there's an odd noise coming from... somewhere. The more jobs you do, the better of an idea you end up having as to what the problem could be, which felt quite good as I felt like I was genuinely learning some useful life skills. Whether or not that actually works when diagnosing a real car's issues is another thing to be seen.


Graphics wise, things felt like they were going for a fairly realistic approach, but sometimes it felt quite boring and dull to look at. I could always go for a more stylised look, but in a game where you're simulating a Car Mechanic, it does what it had to do! Audio, whilst not absolutely terrible wasn't great. You have a choice of stations to listen to on your radio but they're all very meh. Probably better off just muting the audio and putting Spotify on!

There's a lot of gameplay to be had, with unlimited randomly-generated jobs coming in for you to complete. 48 different car types with over 1000 parts that you can chop and change as you like. It was definitely taken by surprise with CMS, and felt educated whilst I was enjoying completing tasks. If you don't like completing tasks quickly and hate the repetitiveness of things like this, then probably stay away. But if you enjoy cars, and like tinkering with them and learning more about them, then this game will likely be right up your alley.


In the end, we decided to give Car Mechanic Simulator the Collecting Asylum rating of 6/10.

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

- V x

Sunday, 14 July 2019

Asylum Reviews: Omensight [Xbox One].


Spearhead Games' Omensight follows the story of the death of the Godless-Priestess, and the mysteries that need to be unfolded in order to discover what truly happened that fateful day. You play as the Harbinger, a powerful entity with the ability to see - and then show others - the terrible tragedies that have taken place.

The Priestess' murder has put into motion an event that will destroy all of Urralia - Voden, a giant mythical being is on the way to cause destruction and it's up to you to untangle the web of lies and mystery to figure out what has really been going on and stop Voden's attack.


The premise of Omensight, being similar to Groundhog Day in the sense of living the same day over and over, learning new things and carrying this information across the repeated days. As each day begins you choose a character to focus on in order to learn their side of things. As with Spearhead's previous title, Stories: The Path of Destinies, all of the characters are animals. Ratika, the leader of the Rodentian tribe and Draga, leader of the Pygarians are two of the characters you will follow on your quest for information.

Whilst the story started off fairly tame and not very gripping, as things progressed and conflicting information is discovered I found myself struggling to stay away from the game for too long as I wanted to know just what was going on in Urralia.


Combat becomes quite repetitive across the multiple runs through levels, and while choosing a different character to follow/focus on does change the enemies you will be fighting against, you'll find yourself becoming quickly bored of fighting the same few enemies in the same way. Whenever a large number of enemies spawn at once, things just become a bit of a panicked button-mashing nightmare. "Boss fights" can be a bit hit or miss also, with some hits getting you even if they were miles away which makes things feel a tad unfair at times.

 The Harbinger's stats, such as damage and health, can be upgraded using Amber that is collected throughout the levels. Additional abilities can be purchased also, giving the Harbinger the ability to slow down time, grab enemies and dash right through them. Everything feels okay in terms of combat, but there just isn't enough variety in the combat as there probably should be.


Art style is definitely something that stands out with Omensight. I really love the bright colours used and the great detail that has gone into locations and enemies. Everything melds together well and looks very clean and well done. The use of lighting really adds a special touch to some of the locations, with the glowing torches in darkened hallways and light reflecting on water being particularly beautiful.

Sound-wise, voices are veeery cheesy. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. At first the cheesiness really grated on me (*groan*) but over time I grew to like it as it fits within this world. The music is enjoyable throughout and is well tailored to each area and fit with what is going on.


In the end, we decided to give Omensight the Collecting Asylum rating of 7/10. An enjoyable time, and one that took me by surprise after not feeling as interested near the beginning, but definitely has a few things missing.

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

- V x

Saturday, 29 June 2019

Asylum Reviews: Verlet Swing [Xbox One].


Verlet Swing is a fun, yet mildly infuriating game. Each level sees you swing through what I can only imagine an acid trip to feel like, with the goal being to reach a big shiny sphere at the end.

Despite the bizarreness of each setting, everything is weirdly beautiful. To swing, all you need to do is grapple on to certain items (not everything can be swung from) and aim. With every tight gap I would angle myself (actual real world me!) to fit through. Too close to an object above? Better duck. This transported me back to the good ol' days playing Need for Speed and swerving round corners, angling my controller and my whole body with it. No matter how much I try not to do it, I can't help it. I'm painfully aware of how much I'm moving - and how it has no impact in game - but I. Can't. Stop.


Levels start off fairly straightforward, with not much in the way of hazards to block your path. As you progress however, levels require a bit more forethought, as well as some intense concentration to time swings, perfect your release and aim quickly to the next swing point. Sometimes the grapple will latch on to something in the distance, particularly when aiming at smaller moving objects which can be a bit of a disaster. I failed plenty of times due to seemingly perfectly aimed grapples attaching to other objects and causing me to swing straight into the ground (and similarly by grappling something and not letting go fast enough and swinging back round to hit the item!).

Art style, as mentioned before is absolutely bonkers. With levels ranging from simplistic shapes and rocks to wacky art pieces and retro video game paraphernalia. It's all stunning to look at, and keeps a level of interest of what's to come in an otherwise predictably designed game. Additionally, completing each level gains you a ranking ranging from one teapot to four. Online leaderboards are available also, to allow you to feel complete and utter shame once you finally complete a really difficult level (gaining just one teapot in the process) to see just how much faster other people are.


There's 100 levels to complete spanning across five "worlds": Checkmate, History; Mobymart; Nimis Non Laute; Wondercon 1998 and Crimson Court. With twenty levels in each world, and subsequent worlds only opening upon completion of the previous one, you may find yourself stuck in one world for a heck of a long time. This takes a bit of the fun out of the game, as a difficult level will just leave you frustrated and with no option to move on (and come back to this one later), progression grinds to a halt. Of course, you could re-play earlier levels in an attempt to refresh your mind and relax but chances are you're just gonna get stuck at the same point again upon your return.

Overall, I felt that whilst the game had some enjoyment to it, the steep difficulty curve and fairly repetitive play just didn't give me enough to want to keep coming back. So we decided to give Verlet Swing the Collecting Asylum rating of 5.5/10.

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

- V x

Sunday, 9 June 2019

Asylum Reviews: Skelly Selest [Xbox One].


Caiysware's Skelly Selest has you play as a skeleton sent by the Selestial Order to prevent Daemonica Netherlords and their ilk from rising from the bowels of hell to take over Earth and Heaven. Levels are procedurally generated and arcade-y feeling with each level taking place over one large space - no moving from room to room like in The Binding of Isaac - so you'll need to clear all enemies before moving to the next level. Maps are varied and often have chests available for you to open and gain items to begin with, but sometimes a cheeky wee enemy will spawn from one to just totally surprise you and start the level on the wrong foot.


Combat is a little frustrating as aiming is stuck to fixed points, rather than the free-er flow of attack in other roguelites such as Isaac and Enter the Gungeon. Countless deaths were caused by me missing an enemy due to then being slightly outwith a fixed point and me not judging the angle well enough. Attacks are quite slow and while certain item drops can help with this, they can also make thingss worse by switching out attack speed for range with your axe, etc.

Enemies spawn from every direction, and tend to huddle together which has its good points and bad points. When close together and using your axe, sometimes you'll get lucky and take a few weaker enemies out in one swing but it's very easy to be overwhelmed by a mob of enemies coming towards you - particularly when you've got an item that randomly decreases your damage output - so this coupled with the frustrating combat makes for a very rage-inducing time.


Music is a little odd, as while it's enjoyable and sounds good it doesn't fit the hell-scape at all. And whilst I enjoy and appreciate the art style, at times it was just too dark to easily see what was going on. Sometimes you'll find way too many enemies swarming around you and adding in the darkness of the levels can easily cause you to get caught up in everything going on on screen and lose wee Skelly. I frequently took unintentional environmental damage from walking over flames or bumping into enemies which rapidly drained my health. I died so many times in completely avoidable situations, but it was just dark enough that I didn't see the damage coming until it was too late. And if feeling the shame of a pointless death isn't enough, the following screen shows you the points you've gained this run and where that places you in comparison to previous runs.


Different game modes add a little bit of variety to the gameplay. Clashful Cards, as the name would suggest, is a card based mode built up from cards you've picked up during your multiple runs. Playing this early on stacks the odds firmly against you as the AI will no doubt have a better hand, but as you progress and pick up more and more cards in the base game mode, this will increase the chances of you starting with good cards.

Dungeon Pilgrimage is more of a Binding of Isaac style mode, moving from room to room and collecting items along the way. Necrotic Colosseum is a boss-rush mode, where you keep going till you die. Within the main menu also is a screen called Character Vessels which you can go into to view Cranium Ornaments (yep... that's the hats you've collected on your journey) and you can view which characters you've unlocked.


In the end, we decided to give Skelly Selest the Collecting Asylum rating of 5.5/10. It's an alright game at a decent price (£8.39 on Xbox Store) and you'll probably like it if you love arena based rogue-lites but it just lacked a certain something to keep us interested and frustrating combat turned us off.

Have you played Skelly Selest? What are your thoughts on it?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

Thursday, 6 June 2019

Asylum Reviews: Super Blood Hockey [Switch/Xbox One].


An homage to classic 8-bit and 16-bit ice hockey games, Super Blood Hockey takes things to a bloody new level. Developed by Loren Lemcke, the game sees you take control of an Ice Hockey team that you can customise and then strategize with to annihilate the opposition. 


With five different gameplay modes you can choose what way you want to play. Tutorial mode does as it says on the tin, it allows you to practise and learn how to play (and fight!). Exhibition is a fast-paced mode that lets you play a quick round up against another team. If you just have a short time to play (particularly if out and about and playing the handheld Switch version), then this is the option you're most likely to go for. Tournament mode plays like you'd expect: you have your team and have them go up against other teams, knocking them out of the tournament one by one with your end goal being to win the whole tournament. We've also got Challenge mode which has a variety of different (and often pretty difficult) tasks for you to complete.

Franchise mode starts with a rather funny intro of you waiting in line to register a team for the International League of Blood Sports. The guy taking your application is sitting at a desk with two mobsters alongside him, with one pointing a gun at him while he types away furiously. Blood stains the floor beneath your feet.. are they gonna shoot me? Nah - turns out you can't afford to register so they're just gonna whip a kidney out of you instead! Using the money from selling your kidney (unwillingly), you can now afford a full building for your team and you are swiftly given the option of a tour around the facilities. There's so many levels of shady going on within this organisation and it is hilarious. Players (inmates) are bought from a catalogue and have varying degrees of skill and brain damage, which are both things you must consider when making a purchase. Players can be sold on also, as there is a maximum number of players you can have so sometimes a tactical sale will free up space to add better players to your roster.


Players can be buffed up beyond their starting stats by making them train and you can do everything from controlling their diets to sending them off to the health bay to recover (and lose some organs in the process) before ultimately discarding their corpses if they don't. It blends the dark humour well within the context of the game, and had us frequently laughing at the absurdity of it all.

In absolute honesty though, I really struggled with Super Blood Hockey at times. I couldn't quite succeed at anything. I don't know if my lack of skill at other sports based games like FIFA played into this as I just could not aim at the goal without panicking and then missing. I watched Allan play this earlier today on Xbox One, and he was scoring left, right and centre and didn't even break a sweat while doing it. Success may vary!


Where Super Blood Hockey really shines further is when you play with friends and/or family. You can play in 4-player co-op, each controlling separate members of the team. This is definitely a game well suited to parties or having friends over, and games are fast-paced enough that it keeps you interested even if you're just watching someone else. An online multiplayer would have been a fantastic addition to the game and is something I think they missed a beat on.

The pixelated art style keeps the game arcade-y and fun while maintaining a great backdrop for blood splattering over the ice during a brawl. The dark humour and violence just work so well with the retro graphics. Simple controls make the game easy to learn, at least in Allan's case, and the wide variety of gameplay modes keeps things fresh.


We were lucky enough to be able to review this on both Nintendo Switch and Xbox One, and each version has a lot to offer. It's a cheap game (at less than £15) with a lot of replay value so if you have both consoles and you enjoy the game, I'd recommend to pick it up for both. It's great for quick games on the Switch when out and about in handheld mode, and Xbox has all of the achievements to unlock and bump up that gamerscore!

In the end, we decided to give Super Blood Hockey the Collecting Asylum rating of 7.5/10.

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

- V x

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Asylum Reviews: Dauntless [Xbox One].


Dauntless is a new Free-to-Play game by Phoenix Labs and easily rivals lots of the higher tier AAA games that follow the same purpose. Dauntless feels like paid release, and aside from optional extras such as the Elite Track of the Hunt Pass (similar to Fortnite's Battle Pass) and cosmetic items, there's no need to pay at all.


Previously available only on PC, with an Open Beta running prior to Console Launch and the release of Season 5: Hidden Blades, we were granted early access to be able to feel the world of Dauntless before it was available for general release. A slight hiccup in merging for console launch meant that all players who'd been given access via console had accounts wiped and characters erased, so we had to start again on release.

Upgradeable characters allow you to stand out among the crowd in Ramsgate. With transmog options and dyes to further customize your character to have them looking as you desire. Skins can be altered to look like others using the transmog option, giving you the ability to utilize the traits of one set of armour, whilst having the appearance of another.  You can alter your appearance at any time from the trader in Ramsgate, giving you the ability to try out new looks without the fear of forever impacting your character.  


Enemies, known as Behemoths, are varied and range through different elements with inventive designs. You come across Neutral Enemies to begin with, which have an equal difficulty across all elemental types of weapons. As different enemies are hunted and items gathered, these can be used to create elemental weapons which will have a significant boost against enemies of opposite types. Fire based enemies such as Embermanes are weak to weapons created from Boreus parts, and vice versa.

A wide variety of weapons can be forged and upgraded, from swords to guns to hammers and pikes, each with stunning appearances and abilities based on the materials used to create them. Try out all of the weapons instead of sticking to your usual option, as some of them definitely took me by surprise!


You can play alone in private servers, allowing you to go one on one in a hunt against Behemoths of your choosing. You can play with a party allowing friends to be in the same server with you, scaling enemies' difficulty with the number of players up against it, to a maximum of four. You can also do an open hunt which will gather party members via matchmaking, and will spread the Hunt Rewards between you.

The only issues we have really come up against have been long server queues sometimes reaching up to 80000 waiting to log in at the same time, probably to be expected for such a popular game at launch, especially when cross play has been enabled from Console Launch.


In the end we decided to give Dauntless the Collecting Asylum rating of 7.5/10.

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

- V x

Asylum Reviews: Streets of Rogue [Xbox One].

Developed by Matt Dabrowski and published by TinyBuild, Streets of Rogue is just the kind of roguelite I've been waiting for. Defin...