Sunday, 29 December 2019

Asylum Reviews: Demon Pit [Xbox One].

Developed in unison by Doomcube and Psychic Software, Demon Pit is a fast-paced arena shooter harking back to the FPS classics of the 90s. Originally conceived during a game jam, it progressed from "Night of the Pumpkins", it's V1 iteration where the enemies were - you guessed it - pumpkins. As development continued beyond the Game Jam, it evolved into what we see here now: an homage to the era that inspired it.

From the moment you first start the game, you can feel Doom and Quake pulsing through its veins. The low-poly 3D graphics combined with the techno/metal score made it feel very genuine in its delivery.

You play as a Demon Hunter cast into hell for all of eternity, destined to endlessly battle demon after demon.With ten enemy types of varying difficulty and strategy, you'll find an ample challenge as you hunt them down whilst battling to stay alive. Seven weapons will become available to you as the game progresses, with some being more useful than others. Ammo is scarce for picked up weapons, so you need to conserve your good ammo and try to focus on your starter gun where you can, as that's equipped with infinite ammo (so you'll be relying on it a lot!)

It is chaotic and at times frustrating, but working your way out of a bind feels great. In your arsenal you have a Soul Grapple that allows you to latch on to various points around the map to whip yourself out of danger. With each wave, enemies get harder and you'll have to learn to use the Grapple effectively as the Pit will change and have walls and pillars appear to make things just a little more difficult.

With a constantly changing environment upping the ante you need to not only be aware of your enemies, but be aware of your surroundings too. Whilst sometimes this can catch you off guard, you can use it to your advantage by buying some time behind cover if you're surrounded, or cut enemies off by surprising them round a corner.

For less than a tenner, there's a good time to be had if you're into retro shooters. While it definitely leans heavily into the simplistic combat of its inspiration, it's effective and as long as you aren't expecting too much from it, you'll have fun.

In the end, we decided to give Demon Pit the Collecting Asylum rating of 6.5/10.

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

- V x

Thanks to Digerati for the Demon Pit Xbox One review code!

Asylum Reviews: Straimium Immortaly [Xbox One].

Straimium Immortaly is a strange but alluring sort of game. A follow-up to Caiysware's previous title, Skelly Selest, it's got that pixel art style and procedural generation of levels with a hilarious, often nonsensical, written dialogue.

You are dropped into this weird and not-so-wonderful realm known as the Cubicus, filled with plenty of monsters and an abundance of loot and weaponry. You are tasked with killing the Queeni Emperess. Queenis are what spawn all of the creatures you will come across, so ridding the Cubicus of them makes sense. Kill the Queeni, save the Cubicus.

When you first load up the game, the basic premise is explained to you through a rolling credits style intro. The 'language' of the game is already obvious, with many words butchered for comedic effect. Progressing to the menu continues this, with the first option available being called "Tutorial Tingle" and has a small creature in the bottom left saying "Hiya dummy heres is how you learns to play the game!" This speech style is apparent all throughout Straimium Immortaly, and adds a certain layer of world building, as it is done consistently and not just for a one-off joke.

Other options available within the menu are "Cubicus Crawl", the main game mode; Bossy Rushy, which needs to be unlocked with special keys; an unknown mode displaying TV static in the title box; I am Error and a Compendium, to look over all of your in-game stats.

As you work your way through the Cubicus, you will come across plenty of enemies and sub-bosses on your quest to find the Queeni. The way that each subsequent room in a level works is that you can attack or skip through them at your leisure. Naturally, skipping through will result in a tougher battle against the boss as loot chests located in the rooms are only unlocked once all the enemies in a room are cleared. Items that can be found in these chests vary from health pick-ups to the in-game currency "pinkies". Just like Caiysware's previous title, Skelly Selest, here you'll find hats that can be equipped to help you on your journey. These, along with the weapons that you can purchase and upgrade, will often be the deciding factor in whether you win or lose a run.

Enemies are varied, and will frequently be hunting you down in droves. The pixel-art style, whilst nice to look at and very, very colourful, can often make it quite difficult to judge what's going on on-screen. Between enemies that are attacking you, dealing contact damage and firing projectiles, and other non-dangerous things floating around in the background, I've walked into my own death too many times to count.

Another thing that caused a frequent number of deaths is the controls. Straimium Immortaly looks and feels like it should be a twin-stick shooter, like The Binding of Isaac and so many other roguelites, but it's not. Due to this, the controls feel awkward and led to many an unnecessary death as I'd try to fly out of the path of danger, and then be left facing the wrong direction and unable to shoot the enemies I'm trying to avoid.

Whilst I felt the game had a lot of charm and potential, I fear that the few gripes I had with it were enough to put me off playing it fairly quickly. Unlocking mutators helped somewhat as this could tailor runs to some degree, but it wasn't enough to keep me invested.

In the end, we decided to give Straimium Immortaly the Collecting Asylum rating of 5/10.

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

- V x

Thanks to Digerati for the Straimium Immortaly Xbox One review code!

Asylum Reviews: Golazo! [Xbox One].

It's been a while since either of us have had any sort of enthusiasm for a football game, yet Golazo! had us intrigued from the moment we first saw it. A far cry from the usual real-world styled games such as FIFA and PES, it sports a cartoony 2.5D art-style which works brilliantly alongside the humorous gameplay.

Whilst Allan is a fan of football and has played his fair share of FIFA in the past, what he's really been after is a game that takes him back to the days of RedCard Football. And Golazo! is certainly aiming to fill that gap.

There are three game modes to choose from; Quick Match, which can be played online; International Cup and World League, which are both single player modes. With 51 International teams to choose from, you can choose to play for your home country, if available - Scotland was not, which, my oh my, really annoyed us since England, Ireland and Wales were all options (!!). There isn't even a Great Britain option for us to choose, since all the other GB countries were there, so we had to just go for our Celtic brethren across the water... I urge you, Purple Tree. Add Scotland in as a playable option. In all three modes, winning matches will net you coins. These coins can be used in the shop for kits, balls, celebrations and more.

Gameplay wise, it feels like an old arcade game, with the movements being slightly clunky and the ball magnetically passing from player to player - while we understand that this may purely be an aesthetic choice, it sometimes feels a little too clunky, so can be a tad frustrating. You can quite happily go ham on another player to get the ball without much worry of getting a card from the ref, and you only need to worry about three moves: lobbing, passing and shooting. The occasional power-up will be granted to teams, meaning that you could suddenly find yourself whizzing around the pitch at ease. This adds a little bit of variety into the mix and can change the outcome of a match dramatically.

You can score Golazo! for the low price of £12.49 on the Xbox Store, which is a reasonable price for the amount of replayability is has to offer. It's fast paced and great for a quick game with friends, and is even straightforward enough to have the kids play too.

In the end, we decided to give Golazo! the Collecting Asylum rating of 6.5/10.

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

- V x

Thanks to Klabater for the Golazo! Xbox One review code!

Saturday, 28 December 2019

Asylum Reviews: Monkey Barrels [Switch].

Monkey Barrels is a twin-stick shooter from developer Good-Feel. You might recognise their name from some of their previous titles, including Kirby's Epic Yarn and Yoshi's Crafted World, but this is the first game they've developed and published by themselves.

The premise of Monkey Barrels is that a pair of brave monkeys have set out on a quest to rescue their kidnapped friends from a bunch of robots. You play as one of the two monkeys - interchangeable within the hub world with seemingly no advantages to either (o feel free to pick whichever one you like) - and within the hub you can purchase guns and sort through everything you've unlocked along the way. Alongside the main 22-stage story mode, you can also play online in matches with up to six players, adding another element of play to the mix. 

There are just under a hundred weapons to unlock and use, each with their own stats and strengths to take advantage of in battle. Two weapons will be equipped at any one time, mapped to the trigger buttons, with sub-weapons such as explosives or shields being available too. Weapons sadly cannot be used simultaneously, which definitely feels like they missed a beat there, and they have to be reloaded individually also.

The online mode, Banana Scramble is a fun and totally frenzied mode where you'll find bananas scattered all throughout the levels, and all you have to do is make sure that when the match ends, you're the monkey with the most bananas! It's a nice change of pace from the main game, unlocked only once you've progressed far enough in the story. A couch co-op option for this would have been a fantastic option, but sadly for now at least, online is the only way.

With a whole host of different enemy designs to keep things interesting and fresh, you have to constantly keep on your toes as to how you will battle against them as they require different tactics to defeat. You'll often have a horde of enemies coming at you at once, so it can be quite easy to feel trapped, but if you can handle bullet-hells such as Enter the Gungeon, you should be able to hold your own here.

Artistically, Monkey Barrels is visually intriguing. With delightful colour palettes, and an adorable 3D pixel-art style, the game looks gorgeous. Environments often felt quite samey, but with varied character designs, this helped to make up for that somewhat. At £11.99 on the Switch eShop, there are definitely a lot of other games out there that would satisfy the same itch that this does for less, so we'd possibly recommend waiting for a slight price drop before jumping in on this (after all, the eShop does love its sales!). It's a fun game, don't get us wrong, but just doesn't have a lot to keep drawing us back for more.

In the end we decided to give Monkey Barrels the Collecting Asylum rating of: 6/10.

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

- V x

Thanks to Good-Feel for the Monkey Barrels Switch review code!

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

Asylum Reviews: Tools Up! [Xbox One].

In the same vein as games such as Overcooked, Tools Up! instantly caught our attention. Party games that require some teamwork as opposed to just facing off against each other are always a big hit in this house. The Knights of Unity's Tools Up! is no exception.

Fast paced and frantic, you are tasked with some DIY jobs, from painting walls to lifting and replacing flooring. Jobs start off straightforward, to ease you in gently, but quickly increase in complexity with some necessary items being delivered during the round, and frequently having tins of paint sitting in another room from the one that you need to paint (make sure you check the blueprint before you make the same mistake I did!).

Additionally, some levels will have paint spills and other clutter for you to clean up and toss out. Failing to do so promptly often results in hilarious yet frustrating falls - particularly if you just keep falling from one into another. 

Sometimes walls can't be painted until the wallpaper is removed, or flooring is lifted to allow new carpet to be laid. And sometimes, you have to mix plaster and smooth out the walls and floors before you can do anything at all. These tasks can be divided between you and a friend to work more effectively, however the game can be played single player too. Ideally, you should play couch co-op, as it definitely feels better that way. 

Playing with my four year old daughter, we had a lot of fun. While it took some getting used to (as there's very little in the way of a tutorial), once we were up and running we just kinda figured things out as we went. She had a lot of fun sabotaging our efforts when she realised she could lift my character and just walk around with me in her arms, and in retaliation I had fun doing the flooring and trapping her in a corner until it dried. Levels are time bound so even the slightest bit of sabotage (or even simply messing up accidentally) can totally break you. Likewise, sometimes the selection would have an issue if you were caught in a tight corner or had too many things close to each other to pick up, shaving valuable seconds off of your time as you frantically try to pick up the trash. 

We both really enjoyed playing and have found ourselves frequently going back to the game when we've got some free time. The art style was cute and bright and kept our attention, whilst the music was fun and instilled a definite panic in you at times. Remembering to always clear the level as you go along is an important part, as once everything is complete, you can't finish until you've done so. Trying to clear up at the end can be quite panicky, so dealing with it as you go is definitely beneficial. 

In the end, we decided to give Tools Up! 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

Thanks to EvolvePR for the Tools Up! Xbox One review code!

Monday, 9 December 2019

Asylum Reviews: Felix the Reaper [Xbox One].

Felix the Reaper is a fun puzzle-based game developed by Kong Orange. Currently available on Xbox Game Pass, you can dive into the game and help Felix in his quest to be a great reaper and be united with his star-crossed love Betty (who just so happens to work for the Ministry of Life) in what the developers describe as "a romantic comedy about the life of Death".

It boasts a very unique style of play, a puzzle-game unlike most of the other puzzle-games I’ve played lately, utilising a sundial and strategically angled shadows in order to keep you shaded from the sun. Sunlight can be controlled to a certain extent, with the ability to rotate it 90°, potentially opening up new paths to reach your target. Being hit with sunlight, and subsequently dying, the level continues with little in the way of punishment… until you get to the end of the level and realise that that one unnecessary death cost you points in your ranking. The overall premise is simple, put people in harm’s way to allow their souls to be reaped, and everything will be fine. Do things faster or in less steps, and you’ll get a better score.

It has an original soundtrack that is very well suited to the game and Felix hilariously dances along to the beat .Similarly, the art style is gorgeous, and works really well with the way that levels are built and played, and character models are cute yet interesting. It also has a very whimsical story, with lots of additional information provided throughout, from the files given to you at the start of each mission - aside from the fact that the first one lists the wrong target, but this just adds some hilarity to the mix - all the way through to small cutscenes.

Despite all that, something feels amiss here. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something feels unnecessarily frustrating when you play, and instead of it feeling like a fun, challenging frustration, it’s an exasperatedly fed up one. At first, everything had a nice, fresh feel and each level felt difficult yet relaxed but as the game progressed, this took a turn for the worse. The same levels that previously felt fresh and interesting feel tedious and repetitive, with very little in variety between each level.

In the end, we gave Felix the Reaper the Collecting Asylum rating of 6/10.

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

- V x

Thanks to RenaissancePR for the Felix the Reaper Xbox One review code!

Sunday, 8 December 2019

Asylum Previews: Don't Die, Minerva! [Xbox One][Game Preview].

Xaviant's Don't Die, Minerva! is a spooky roguelite that's currently in Early Access/Game Preview, and I already love it. You play as Minerva, a young girl trapped in a haunted mansion, with nothing but a flashlight to defend yourself.

It follows the same basic premise of roguelite gameplay at its core. Randomly generated levels with a loot based system to improve as you go. We've seen a lot of roguelites lately, so it's always nice to see one that looks as pretty as DDM does whilst working so well.

The art style of Don't Die, Minerva! is gorgeous, with a very Halloween-y colour palette and aesthetic. Minerva has a little gothic vibe going on, and the house itself looks like it's right out of a horror movie. The lighting works really well throughout each level, between the light from your torch and other sources in the house such as flickering candles. Sound design is done fantastically also, with spooky music playing as well as the eerie sound of wind outside to set you right on edge.

A twin-stick shooter through and through, you can fight ghosts and ghouls easily enough if you've played other games of the genre. The Binding of Isaac definitely has a lot to do with how I've learned to move with twin-sticks, and it really helped me here. Dodging around projectiles and ensuring I was within range of damaging enemies, whilst also picking up any loot or essence along the way. The controls sometimes felt a little more awkward than the likes of TBOI, which took a bit of getting used to, but hopefully this will be tightened up come full release.

The aforementioned essence that you pick up can be traded in once per level by tossing a coin into the bloody fountain and being transported outside to the starting area. Here you will find the butler, and by giving him your collected essence, you can unlock additional features that will be permanent instead of resetting each time you die. You can also spend coins on new items, clothing and pets in order to give you a fighting chance when working your way through the mansion. If you come across the blood-fountain before you've completely cleared a floor, leave it and come back, as I said, it can only be accessed once per level so if you waste your trip outside, then that's on you. Don't say I didn't warn you.

One slight annoyance with this is the backtracking you'll likely find yourself doing, as you might find the end room before the fountain, or vice versa (or you might even miss the large chest room, in which case you might want to go look around some more!). Thankfully, one of the upgrades that can be unlocked is the ability to fast travel via your map, this makes clearing a floor so much simpler as it removes the long, tiresome treks to and fro as you wipe out the apparitions.

As this game is still in Early Access, we will not be giving it a final rating. We will revisit it upon release and do an updated review then. But for now, we're enjoying it. It has a free trial available on Xbox One - so give it a go!

Have you tried Don't Die, Minerva! yet? What do you think of it?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

 Thanks to EvolvePR for the Don't Die, Minerva! Xbox One review code!

Sunday, 1 December 2019

Asylum Reviews: REKT [Switch].

REKT!, developed by Little Chicken Game Company started out its life as an Android/iOS app, but feels fantastically suited to Nintendo Switch. Usually we find that games ported from mobile to console still carry a certain air to them that gives them a very “mobile” feel, but not REKT!, here it feels very much as if it was always meant to be played on Switch.

Art style is beautiful, with a very retro arcade feel. It has a simplistic style, but is still very aesthetically pleasing, with bright neon colours. The arenas feel very skate-park-like, with ramps and rails and a million and one things to jump off of. The whole aim of REKT is to rack up points from pulling off sick flips and stunts – without getting REKT! – to accumulate as high an overall score as possible. In order to have the points counted, you must land on your wheels. It’s reminiscent of Tony Hawk’s games, or Skate, in that way.

Now – the vehicles - so many unlockable vehicles. This is a great way to encourage you to keep playing, as it’s really fun to unlock them and add them to your collection. It even includes the Back to the Future Hoverboard! Further arenas can be unlocked using in-game currency, and this allows you to try out new areas and see what cool tricks you can manage. For every run you play, you are given three objectives which once achieved, reward you with the aforementioned currency, encouraging you to continue further runs to unlock even more stuff!

The controls feel very well done, again something that can often be a dead giveaway of a mobile-to-console port, and this enabled you to feel well connected to your vehicle and not have yourself frustrated over missing a trick due to bad controlling. Split-screen is an added option, which is fantastic as it opens up a whole new layer of play.

It’s got a whole lot of replayability, and for such a fantastically cheap price too at just £5.39 on the Nintendo eShop, so we’d highly recommend you give it a shot if you’re looking for something quick and fun to play on Switch.

In the end, we gave REKT the Collecting Asylum rating of 8/10.

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

- V x

Thanks to Little Chicken for the REKT Switch review code!

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Asylum Reviews: Sparklite [Xbox One].

Red Blue Games' Sparklite is a fantastic Legend of Zelda style roguelite, with a beautiful world filled with adventure. You play as Ada, a young hero who, after her airship is destroyed, must set out to save the Sparklite and rebuild atop a floating city hub.

The tutorial explains the basics of the game and through talking to NPCs you will learn how various mechanics work such as where you restart from after dying. You are plucked from the ground upon death (by a giant claw no less) and brought back to the hub world in the sky. Here you can use any Sparklite you've already collected to build shops to unlock Widgets and Inventions which will massively help you on your way.

The procedurally generated world does wonders to keep things from feeling too stale and keeps you coming back for more. It feels like an older Zelda game with its simple mechanics and puzzles, and adorable art style. Controls are fairly easy to pick up, with you having a main weapon attack - that can be charged up for more power - as well as gadgets, known as Widgets, that can be assigned to help you progress through the game.

Throughout Geodia you will come across small dungeons known as Vaults. In these vaults, you will be taught how to utilise new weapons or equipment to work your way through the challenges, ultimately gaining the blueprint for the weapon at the end. In order to gain access to this item, you must then return to the floating hub and provide the blueprint to the Workshop. First tip of the day should definitely be to unlock the Workshop as soon as you can. I made the mistake of unlocking the Widget shop first, holding me back from accessing the newer weapons I'd found.

Due to the randomised nature of Sparklite, many areas you come across will be seemingly impossible to get through. You might be stressed out trying to figure out a puzzle only to discover you are actually missing a key weapon or piece of equipment that will allow you to progress, I know I certainly was. Just keep in mind that many items will come later and that you can backtrack through these areas once they become achievable, and you'll feel far more enjoyment from the game.

You have limited capacity for all of the weapons and widgets you own, so you need to think wisely when figuring out what is the best loadout for you. Your inventory is made up of small squares, and items can either fit neatly into one tile - typically the simpler items - or they can sprawl across multiple and require careful planning to maximise the space you have.

As mentioned before, the art style is adorable. Colours are bright and environments are detailed and interesting. Sadly, the story is fairly basic and doesn't draw you in terribly much, however the addictive nature of playing run after run of this, much like other roguelites, helps to negate this. The sound design is well matched to the gameplay, with delightful tunes composed by Dale North. These too are reminiscent of early Zelda titles, and are really a pleasure to listen to.

Lastly, Sparklite includes local co-op. All I can say of the co-op is don't bother. Only playable once you've played into the game a little bit, the second player takes control of Ada's robot sidekick. As player two, you have limited capabilities - digging at first, with the option of add-ons later. It does get better with further patches, such as the ability to then pick up items, but even at that you are still very restricted. Stick with the single player - trust us. Playing single player, we had a decent bit of fun for what the game entails, and at £19.99 it's reasonably priced for what it is.

In the end, we decided to give Sparklite the Collecting Asylum rating of 6.5/10.

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

- V x

Thanks to EvolvePR for the Sparklite Xbox One review code!

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Asylum Reviews: Lonely Mountains: Downhill [Xbox One].

Lonely Mountains Downhill is a delightful simple looking game from its exterior, but sneaks up on you with its challenging core. You play as a nameless (and faceless, might I add) character whose one true goal is to tackle all of these mountains and their exciting, twisted trails. 

Each level has a few different difficulties, and different challenges that go along with those. This can be something as (seemingly) simple as completing the track under a certain time, or with fewer than x amount of crashes. Sometimes these can seem quite easy, but instead prove to be a little more difficult once you factor in the stress of some areas on the tracks that are trickier than others.

As well as the main track, there are a vast selection of off-the-beaten-path type routes to the finish line. Some which can simply shave a few seconds off here and there, while others can drastically reduce your overall time. Half of the fun of Lonely Mountains: Downhill is finding these alternative routes and doing everything you can to not only survive (since they're generally harder than the main track) but to perfect them, and get your time - and number of restarts - as low as possible.

There are good customisation options, allowing you to alter the look of your rider as well as your bike. You can change between male and female, different hair style and colour options and tweak the skin tone to how you wish. New costumes and bike parts can be unlocked by satisfying the conditions of various challenges laid out for you.

Visually, the game is gorgeous and has a very pleasing aesthetic. Locations are beautifully crafted and the lighting just adds another layer to the look. Sound design is fantastic also, with really catchy tunes to go along with your peaceful journey. The controls felt great for the most part, with only a few minor gripes where turns felt less responsive than they should, but this didn't make the game feel unplayable at all.

In the end, we really enjoyed Lonely Mountains: Downhill and have decided to give it the Collecting Asylum rating of 8.5/10

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

- V x

Thanks to Thunderful Games for the Lonely Mountains: Downhill Xbox One review code!

Saturday, 21 September 2019

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 by Shifting Tides - and their first ever game, at that - this is a relaxing game that draws you in surprisingly quickly, but due to very samey locations can feel repetitive equally fast.

With very little in the way of explanation as to what is going on, you are chucked straight into a beautiful, yet lonely world populated only by a small number of blindfolded stone statues. The world itself seems to not exist without your presence, as glowing light spawns the buildings and platforms and creates the path for you as you go.

Being a puzzle-based game, it requires a lot of thinking outside of the box. You can alternate between the light and dark worlds temporarily by standing on a glowing platform to activate the dark mode for a limited time. Doing so enables you to move large decorative statues to unlock new areas or make harp-like statues play music to rebuild broken passageways.

Later, you will find some statues can be activated without entering the dark world, as they have small plaques on them that allow the statue to be used at any time. Luckily, these can be moved to other statues, giving another element of thought needed when trying to progress through the level. You switch places with statues by interacting with them in the dark world, and thinking carefully about where you need to be vs. where the statue potentially needs to be makes for a great challenge. As mentioned, some passageways are damaged, requiring other statues to be activated. This can make for a frustrating experience the first few times as you get used to how the mechanics work (time in the dark world only depletes whilst moving, etc) but you learn and adjust to things before soon enough you find yourself moving throughout the levels like its second nature.

Initially the game feels lightly challenging, and this increases as you go on. Puzzles become more complex, with optional areas being unlocked to add another layer of depth, as well as something a little more difficult if you like a challenge. If what you're here for is just a relaxing stroll with minimal concentration, stick to the main quest and leave the optional challenges for when you're feeling a little more adventurous.

Visually, the game is beautiful, with calming colour schemes and very pretty landscapes. A lot of the levels can feel quite similar due to the formation of blocks and the relatively similar structures so you might find yourself getting slightly bored of the same thing each level. The Sojourn definitely kept me interested for a long session, moreso than some of the more difficult puzzle games, but you might find it better suited to playing in shorter stints to allow your brain to rest in between.

Sound-wise, everything feels very ethereal combined with the visuals. It's definitely a great game to just sit down and chill out with, especially in between playing other games to break things up a bit. We've been playing a lot of RAD and Borderlands 3 lately, and this feels like a nice counter for those as it brings you into a dreamlike, peaceful world instead of the harsh post-apocalyptic worlds of the two of those.

As mentioned previously, there's not much in the way of story to keep you interested, just a very loose following of the blindfolded stone statues, depicting a family as their little boy grows up and explores the world. If you need a decent story to be interested in a game, you might struggle here but it works in the concept of a puzzle game, as the real focus is the puzzles and not the "story" or lack thereof. Priced at £19.99 on the Xbox Store, it's slightly more expensive than a lot of the other indies that we've played recently but still a decent enough price for what it offers.

In the end, we decided to give The Sojourn the Collecting Asylum rating of  6.5/10.

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

- V x

Thanks to EvolvePR for the The Sojourn Xbox One review code!

Asylum Reviews: Space Cows [Switch].

Space Cows is Polish video game developer Happy Corruption's first release, and it's a surprisingly fun one at that. It's a twin-stick shooter - instantly ticking one of Allan's boxes - where you play as Best Regards, a dairy farmer whose prized cow Betsy is abducted after he refuses to sell her. So he does what any sane person would do, and dresses up as a cow to be abducted himself. Armed with a toilet plunger and a butt-load of gas (literally), you can fart your way around levels and kill all the moo-tants standing in your way to save the cows and be reunited with Betsy.

Due to the obvious space setting, you have the lack of gravity to contend with here in Space Cows. This makes it a little bit more unpredictable - and oftentimes more frustrating - than other twin-stick shooters you may have played in the past. Rooms will move and rotate, and you'll potentially have enemies coming at you from all directions meaning you'll have to keep your wits about you.

Additionally, your plunger is your one weapon to defeat the hordes of mootants, so after throwing you leave yourself vulnerable whilst you wait on your plunger's return. This can make things quite panic-inducing, as you'll have to deal with lots of enemies at once. 

As you progress through the game, you will come across mini-games where you can earn extra milk. These break up the game a bit to give you something a little different to keep your interest piqued. They don't disturb the flow of the game too negatively, however they can sometimes lull you into a false sense of security as you forget what you're going back into afterwards.

There are a few different enemy types, ranging from the initial mootants: green slimey things that do damage when they touch you, to turret enemies that do significantly more damage to you. Enemies can be taken out either by hitting with the plunger, or in the case of some enemies, such as the jellyfish, you have to time hitting their blasts back to them. Thankfully, Best has a couple of techniques that help - since the plunger alone would just leave you struggling. He can fart to propel himself out of the way of danger, and he can also slow down time which can allow for the lining up of a killer shot. 

Art style is cute and whimsical, with gorgeous colours. The pinks and purples contrast well with the green-toned slime. Everything has such a fun, cartoon-y vibe which makes it very visually appealing, and sound design is well done - if slightly annoying at times with the frequent farts. 

At just £11.69 on the Nintendo Switch eShop, it's a fantastic price for a lot of fun, so we'd really recommend you check this one out - particularly if you're a fan of twin-stick shooters. For all of the insane pricing on Nintendo's side (AAA titles always remaining sky-high on the eShop), they really have a great selection of cheaply priced Nindies, and this is definitely a great one.

In the end, we decided to give Space Cows the Collecting Asylum rating of 7.5/10.

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

- V x

Thanks to All In Games for the Space Cows Switch review code!

Thursday, 12 September 2019

Thoughts on Thursday: Confession Time!

Okay, okay... I know what you're thinking. That's a helluva clickbait title. And I suppose you're right, but this post is about confessions - or more specifically - collecting confessions.

The first of my collecting sins is that I am so guilty of leaving discs out of their cases for far longer than is necessary. If you've seen one of my recent Instagram posts, you'll know this. And I'm ashamed to admit that it's never just one pile of discs, or even two piles of discs. It's always ungodly amounts of discs in multiple piles, as well as a few random discs slotted in here and there for good measure. My thought process behind the random single discs is "I'll sit that there just now, since the case is on that shelf/near there, and I will put the disc away later". WHY!? I hear you ask. Simply put, I can be a lazy bastard at times. It's not one of my finer qualities, but knowing I can be a lazy bastard is better than just blindly being one. At least I'll sometimes attempt to circumvent this and just tidy as I go. But not enough, no.

Typically, I'll start the long mission of assigning discs back to their correct cases at the precise moment that I decide to take photos of things in the collection and discover that the disc is missing. Frustrating, since this then drags me away from my original plan and putting them all away takes forever. Oh, or my other favourite - when you go to put on a movie or game, but the disc inside the case is an entirely different one than expected. Jeez, this one drives me up the wall (and yes, I know - I'm the cause of it!) since it's never a simple process to resolve this. It's never as quick and easy as "Oh, Spider-Man is in the Red Dead Redemption 2 case, so the RDR2 case will have Spidey". It'a always X is in Y's case, Y is in Z's case and Z is nowhere to be seen. Wait, and where is A-W?

Another thing I'm guilty of is buying duplicates of items I've already got. Granted, this one is definitely not as common - and it's never for high value items (that would be heartbreaking). It's usually a Steelbook, or a cheap game. We've ended up with a number of doubled up releases in the past: Jessica Jones Steelbook, The Wolverine Steelbook, the Jurassic World Lego game to name a few, and 9/10 times the duplicate will sit in the shelves for months before realisation hits. A few times where we've had damaged items too, we've contacted to ask for replacements and they've allowed us to keep the original as well as having a replacement sent. I suppose these don't really count as duplicates as such since the damaged copy isn't the preferred choice, and I'd have been happy to return for the replacement. When this happens, we usually just give the damaged copies to friends who dabble in collecting too.

In a similar vein to the bad memory causing duplicate purchases, it also causes me to frequently lose track of items in the collection. There are things that we know we have. We have photo proof, and remember having the items (and if you know us, we never sell our stuff), but just can't seem to locate them in the shelves. I've got a tendency to rearrange things in the shelves at random, deciding roughly what I want to do and then just winging it. This means it's easy to forget where everything is, as I might remember the shelf it was on for the better part of a year or more, but I've since moved it 6 times. 

As I'm sure other collectors understand, it can be quite difficult to place things in your collection. Everyone has their preferences. Some like to display everything in alphabetical order. Some like to display things grouped by franchise, genre, platform or even by Director or Developer. You might have a preference to break it down into further groupings. Ours is a bit of a mish-mash at the moment due to constant rearranging . The rearranging has mostly been a necessary evil in order to get things off of the floor and onto shelves, so there's been a lot of rotating items to maximise shelf space - with less focus on actually displaying the items.

When we first moved in here, we had a basic layout. Games sprawled out across one side of the room, and blurays (movies/TV series, etc.) had the other side. Wtihin those sides, we had games broken down, roughly, by platform. Then on the individual shelves we would try to group things by franchise where possible. So Mortal Kombat had a shelf, as did Halo. Games like Catherine caused me some trouble as I had two editions of the same game, but a different platform for each (as 360 had one version of Catherine on the cover, with PS3 having the other). So do they get placed together, based on same game? Or apart, based on their platforms. It caused a bit of hassle when trying to get everything on the shelves, but I just had to learn to loosen up a bit with that.

Even this week, when I've been moving things around I've been unsure about placement. I rearranged all of the bluray Steelbooks, placing them in alphabetical order. Some Steelbooks were pulled away from this method: Disney Steelbooks go on the Disney shelf, Mondo Steelbooks have their own space (but oh God, what do I do with the Disney Mondo Steelbooks!?), MCU Steelbooks are in release order, and Arrow releases go on the Arrow shelf. Aaand after doing all that, I stumbled upon a few other Steelbooks placed randomly around other shelves. Those ones I'll figure out another day - I simply cannot be arsed rearranging the same shelf again. I'm lazy.

This burst of rearranging things spurred from wanting to take pics of stuff from the collection for my Instagram - as you may have seen - and realising that I couldn't find certain things. Again, these are things we know we have. They're just buried too deep in the shelves to locate. I wanted to take pics of all of my Mondo Steelbooks, but one or two of the Disney releases that I have (although, admittedly I haven't gotten round to picking them all up yet) were nowhere to be seen, so scratch that off the list. I then decided that it's time to do a big post on all of Cinemuseum's stunning releases (as I'm up to date with all of those), but Shanda's River has escaped me. I know it's in the shelves somewhere - heck Red Sparrow was hidden away for a bit too, but I realised how blind I was when I discovered it just above its new intended location, despite having checked there 10 times prior. This links in with the misplaced disc issue too, where I sit a single, lonely disc on the shelf it should be returned to, and then whilst moving everything about it ends up somewhere else, never to be reunited with its case. Or at least not anytime soon.

Lastly, and this one isn't one that we personally consider to be a collecting sin, but we know plenty of other people do: opening our stuff. Many, many other collectors (and maybe even some of you reading this) believe that these items shouldn't be opened. It might be that they want to prevent items from decreasing in value, or they just simply prefer the look of sealed items. For us, however, we love to open everything up and see all the parts and it makes it so much better to display certain items rather than just the (oftentimes boring) outer box. We do have a fairly large number of sealed items at the moment, purely due to having too many things that came close in time to each other and so as each new item arrived, the ones before were put onto the back-burner, with the intention of "oh, I'll unbox and review that shortly". I will definitely get around to unboxing and reviewing everything - eventually (key word) - but I probably need to pick up some new equipment first.

So if there's anything you'd recommend (or if some lovely companies are reading this and want to send anything my way, I'll be forever grateful!) please let me know :)

So come on, we can't be the only guilty parties here. What collecting sins have you committed?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

Asylum Unboxing: My Friend Pedro Special Reserve Edition [Switch].

It was my birthday yesterday! I got a few new goodies that I can’t wait to unbox and share with you all, but first of all - I’ve still to s...