Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Asylum Reviews: Mugsters [Xbox One].

In a world with robotic UFOs capturing and enslaving humans, you are humanity's last hope. Developed by Reinkout Games (the first from this studio) and published by Team 17 - we were instantly intrigued by the chaotic trailer first seen way back last year. There's very little in the way of story/plot, but that actually works in a game like this.


Each level has three objectives - a main objective (usually something along the lines of destroying a generator or reconnecting lines, etc.), plus one for saving the captured humans in the level, and one for the gems scattered throughout. The great thing is that each of these objectives can be done individually - there's no need to bust a gut trying to gather all of the gems, complete the main objective and then run around rescuing the captives before fleeing the island. You can simply do any bit (and not even complete that bit, even collecting a single gem will save upon escape from the island).

Most levels are straightforward enough that you'll manage everything in one sweep-through, however sometimes you'll just not have realised a gem has been dropped or a human killed as you fly off the island, so the ability to just jump back in and finish off that one little piece of the puzzle makes life so much easier. Completing all objectives unlocks a Time Trial for the level, which we dreaded at first as the obligatory Time Trial achievements are normally f*cking nigh on impossible, but luckily the only ones required of this are to set a time on each level, and then do one particular level under a certain time - plus, you don't even have to do the objectives again, you just need to get off the island!


Physics-based puzzle games are definitely a big hit for me, I enjoy the challenge of working out how to progress, and when they are as simplistic in their styling as Mugsters, that makes it all the better. The sandbox-y level design allows the creativity of completing a level your own way, adding to that the ability to jump in and out of a level and still having completed objectives ticked off just adds to the enjoyment (and takes away some of the frustration that an ill-timed death could otherwise cause).

Most things can be solved through explosions: you have explosive barrels, vehicles that explode, huge fuel tanks dotted around, waiting for a badly angled turn in a vehicle (or for you to cleverly lead the UFOs to their demise). The gameplay is entertaining, although the game is shorter than I'd have liked - but for the price (just £9.99 on the Xbox Store), it's still worth it. The art style is beautifully simple, yet detailed. It's so colourful and joyful to look at, that I almost don't realise how much I'm panicking from the sound of the giant UFOs hunting me down after spotting me. I've also had a sudden moment of realisation after mentioning sound just now - whilst the explosions and everything else going on around you makes noise, and is done really well (down to the footsteps of your character), there is no music in the game at all (aside from the main menu). Neither me or Allan realised this at all upon both of our playthroughs, and it didn't bother either of us at the time, but now I'm aware of the distinct lack of music - it's actually kind of annoying me, haha. We both feel that it would likely have added a lot to the levels, but hey - we're not the developers, maybe they tried music and realised it worked better without?


Mugsters is a wondrous little gem of a game and really captured our minds. The ending was a little plain, which was slightly disappointing after figuring out a code to actually access the ending, but overall we were still very impressed with the game as a whole.

In the end, we decided to give Mugsters the Collecting Asylum rating of:

Gie it a Go!

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

- V x

Monday, 23 July 2018

Asylum Reviews: Mothergunship [Xbox One].


If you're looking for a game with a little bit more creativity in your arsenal, then Mothergunship is the one for you! It's a bullet hell first-person shooter, with heavily (and we mean heavily!) customisable guns, and randomly generated levels. Developed by Grip Digital and Terrible Posture Games, it's a spiritual successor to the latter's earlier release: Tower of Guns. 

In Mothergunship, the aim is simple. Fight your way through the insane amount of bullets firing towards you, and stop the alien invasion, led by Mothergunship. The story is minimal, which is mostly to be expected in a game like this - let's face it, we're here for the guns, am I right? The ability to create these absolute masterpieces of crazy guns is something once buried within your imagination. Sure, you can customise guns in some other games, but nothing comapred to what we see here.


You start with a blank canvas, and a whole slew of possibilities. Do you want a shotgun, or a rocket launcher? Homing missiles, bouncing rounds, what about a whole bunch of extra barrels? The choices are there, but be warned - your recharge times will drastically increase the more barrels you add and the more insane your gun gets. It makes it impractical to use these hilariously over-sized guns, other than just to test them out. They just end up dominating your screen and leading you to your fate whilst you recharge, which in a sense is a clever way for the developers to draw that fine line between creating anything you want, and becoming so OP that the game is just a complete bore. You also need to re-create your weapons before each mission, which can be a little bit frustrating. You also need to make sure you have enough credits saved up for the shops within each dungeon if you want to buy extra upgrades or additional health. Later in the game, coins can also be used to buy rather expensively priced weapons from the Smuggler's Stop (which sometimes even allows you to buy back a weapon you've lost if you go to the Lost and Found section).

You also are able to carry two weapons, allowing you even more customisation for how you want to play - something small and precise in one hand, and something larger and more destructive in the other was our preferred option. You start off with just two empty fists, which pack a serious punch, but you need to be pretty close to actually deal damage. You are in a mech-suit which can be upgraded when you return to base and have gained enough experience. You can also gain extra jumps when working your way through the levels as enemies drop these jump upgrades. Starting with three, you can end up with as many as 40 continuous jumps making it a damn sight easier to traverse the rooms.


The gameplay is fast and frenzied, with you having to always be on the move to dodge the onslaught of bullets, whilst trying to wipe out all of the robotic monstrosities on screen. The choices you make in constructing your weapons can just as easily make or break your run as your actual skill in working your way through the levels. Dying will cause you to lose the precious gun parts that you worked so hard to get, giving you a much greater need for survival. There are Challenge Rooms that provide, as the name would suggest, a Challenge, which will reward you with various upgrades, etc. Usually these rooms will require you to survive for "x" amount of time, without using one of your weapons, or without taking any damage, or something along those lines. It's definitely worth it to enter the Challenge Rooms, as the rewards often far outweigh the risk of the room itself. Similarly, there are also Diceroll Rooms which offer up quite a good reward in return for taking the gamble of entering.

Graphics wise, it's nice and crisp, however pretty much everywhere looks the same and it feels very generic and samey to what we expect to see in games like this. Nothing really stood out visually for us, which was a little disappointing. There aren't a whole lot of variations within the enemies, and it can be quite boring to go up again countless of the same enemies. The bosses on the other hand are as fantastic as they are huge, and this really helps to change things up a bit. With sound, each type of weapon sounds great, and very distinct differences between them. The dialogue is funny and evokes a very tongue-in-cheek style: Mothergunship is definitely not a game that takes itself too seriously. The soundtrack is reminiscent of old school arcade shmups, but is often drowned out by the sound of gunfire.


It's often quite difficult to tell if you've been hit when in battle, and the little Loading rooms between the main rooms are very frustrating as it's not a fluid transition from one room to another (and these Loading rooms are glitchy and buggy as heck). The samey-ness of the levels, and repetitive enemy types just didn't give us enough variety to encourage us to keep coming back, despite both of us being avid fans of roguelike games.

In the end, we decided to give Mothergunship the Collecting Asylum rating of:

Meh... *shrugs* 

It wasn't the worst game we've ever played, not by a long shot, but it just wasn't enough to keep us interested at all, and ended up becoming a bit of a chore to play through. We'd have liked to have seen a lot more variety in enemy types to make things a bit less generic. 

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

- V x

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Asylum Reviews: Nidhogg 2 [Xbox One].


Nidhogg 2 is finally out on Xbox One, bringing us all of the gameplay we know and love from the original, but with a whole load of new tricks up its sleeve. And with two brand new, exclusive levels you've got even more reason to try it out if you haven't already. Some people felt that the first game was too basic: you went head to head with another player and using your fencing sword - otherwise known as a rapier, would battle it out very similarly to what we have on offer here. But with a single weapon, people felt it needed more. So that's what we got: you now begin each level (and after each death) with either your rapier, a broadsword, a dagger, or a bow and arrow, each with their own pros and cons. All can be tossed at your enemy, as an extra way of utilising them, but once you've tossed it, you then need to roll over another weapon otherwise you'll remain unarmed (and vulnerable) - but don't worry - you can always stomp the opponent to death if you have to!

First of all, we have Arcade Mode where the aim is to get to your side of the scrolling-screen the fastest when up against your enemy. You can fire arrows at them, stab them or chop them with your sword (or throw any of your weapons at them), in order to slow them down, allowing you to run past to advance further to your winning side. Or, you could just jump over them and force them to chase you! There are small boxes along the top of the screen that fill as you progress towards either your side, or the opponent's, where ultimately the winner will be gobbled up by the fabled Nidhogg, a huge grotesque worm. Playing the game alone is fun, but nothing extra special. Two-player is where it really shines.


Playing up against a real-life opponent with some couch co-op is the best part of Nidhogg 2. Screaming in frustration as your friend takes you down repeatedly, making it look like child's play to win, meanwhile you can't even advance a single screen on your side. A single game can vary from being just a couple minutes in length, all the way up to the double digits. It's a frustrating, yet satisfying back and forth between the two players, as you try to one-up and out smart each other.

We got the wee man involved and he instantly fell in love with the game. The challenge of going up against someone in such a fast paced environment, and with such a simple premise to the game, he was hooked. It also has a lot more replayability as a co-op game, since you can continue to challenge other friends and family, whereas in Single Player it can be beaten in as little as an hour - leaving you no real need to ever go back aside for multiplayer.


There's also an even more chaotic Tournament mode, which allows up to eight players to face off. Cheats can also be utilised, adding another fun layer to the game - you can choose to set it to low gravity, or limit what weapons can be used or even add a timer to make it more of a panic to get to your side before the time is up.

And of course, I can't exactly review this without mentioning the graphics. Vastly different from the original Nidhogg, Nidhogg 2 ditches the simple pixel sprites from before for bulging lumps of brightly coloured flesh. The backgrounds and environments have taken a turn for the gross as well, with some people feeling disappointed in the new look. Frankly, we found the new look to be quite fitting with the humour of the game and feel that it wouldn't quite be the same without these disgustingly hilarious characters. The settings are varied and interesting to look at and the soundtrack is also fantastic, fitting really well with the game.


Overall we'd recommend people to check out Nidhogg 2, particularly if you're looking for a good couch co-op game for having friends over. We gave it the Collecting Asylum rating of:

Get it Bought!

Have you played Nidhogg 2? What did you think of it?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

Asylum Reviews: The Sojourn [Xbox One].

Released yesterday for Xbox One, PS4 and PC, The Sojourn is a peaceful puzzle-based game with absolutely gorgeous settings. Developed...