Monday, 29 July 2019

Asylum Reviews: Super Mutant Alien Assault [Switch].

Originally released in 2016, Cybernate's Super Mutant Alien Assault has now made its way to Nintendo Switch. It suits being on this platform, as this is definitely a game that fits with that pick up and play anywhere mindset. There are three galaxies with four levels in each, culminating in a boss fight on the final level of each galaxy. Between the fact that it's so easy to just play for a bit when you find yourself with a bit of spare time, and everything taking place within a single screen (no side-scrolling here folks!), SMAA truly feels like it was meant to be played on Switch.

There's not much in the way of a story. I mean, there is, but it's pretty much just a case of go out there and kill every alien you see. The game is fast-paced and keeps you on your toes as you have to replenish weapons and bombs, whilst ensuring to not trap yourself in a corner (leading to inevitable damage). As you progress through the levels you can smash open boxes for upgrades - such as double jumps - or new weapons.

Each level can have differing objectives, which helps to keep things from being quite as repetitive. Sometimes your goal is to just clear all aliens from a level, and other times you will be repairing generators. The low overall number of levels means that the entire game can be completed pretty quickly, but the replayability still stands for a fun time with friends.

Local co-op is a nice touch, as too many games stray away from that nowadays - but unlike couch co-op in The Binding of Isaac, etc. if one of you dies, you both have to start again *sad trombone*. Again, the portability of the Switch comes into play nicely here, as you can play two player by having a joy-con each with the screen in between you. It's not always the most comfortable or best way to play, but if you're gonna be on a flight or don't have much else in the way of access to a TV screen, it does just fine.

The music fits well and is actually surprisingly catchy, and the art style is really brights and everything pops on screen. Clean lines add an extra layer of definition to what normally can be quite a faded or blurry appearance with pixel-art (not that that's a bad thing!) so it really makes everything stand out well.

In the end, we decided to give Super Mutant Alien Assault the Collecting Asylum rating of 7/10. The cheap price point (just £7.99) makes it a no-brainer to give this a try.

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

- V x

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

Asylum Reviews: Paradise Killer [Switch].

  UK-based indie games developer Kaizen Game Works launched Paradise Killer, an open-world crime investigation game just over a week ago...