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!

Asylum Reviews: Party Hard 2 [Xbox One].

After really enjoying the first Party Hard, I was desperate for more. And when PH2 was released in 2018 I was so excited, but it wasn’t...