Thursday, 30 July 2020

Asylum Reviews: Neversong [Xbox One].

Atmos Games’ Neversong, formally known as Once Upon a Coma is a fantastic little title. You play as a young boy called Peet, who awakes from a coma to find his girlfriend missing. Screams coming from deep within the nearby Blackfork Asylum beg to be investigated - could that be where Wren is?

Venturing through the six levels, meeting childhood friends and coming across disturbing enemies, creator Thomas Brush has designed a dark world for you to explore as you uncover more about Peet’s  strange past. 

The art style used here is gorgeous, with a very creepy, depressing atmosphere. Thomas’ previous game, Coma - of which Neversong is a “very soft reboot” - had a similar but much simpler style. Character design is interesting, with NPCs mostly adopting a long, skinny-limbed look; and enemies having completely unsettling, nightmare-fuel appearances. Sound design is fantastically well done, with a gorgeous soundtrack and great voice acting from all the characters.

There’s a dark humour built in to Neversong, and one that complements the grim atmosphere to prevent everything from being too depressing. The storybook style showcasing of the terrifying Doctor Smile adds a further macabre element, which again ties in really well with the overall theme.

As you progress through the story, you will find songs that you can play on piano to unlock weapons and more. This element blends perfectly with the soundtrack, as it all melds together beautifully. The Narrator’s voice further conveys the weird, spooky vibe fantastically.

There are collectible cards, known as Coma Cards, that you can find hidden throughout the levels representing characters, enemies and bosses. Currently the achievement for this is unattainable on Xbox due to a bug that prevents two of the cards from appearing, but I reached out to Thomas on Twitter and he confirmed they’re working on a fix for this right now.

The items you unlock via the piano allow you to come back and access previously blocked areas. As this is done through the songs played, you can do this on a separate run right from the off. We did this thinking you could then progress straight to the final boss - after all, there’s an achievement for completing the game in under one hour - but after trekking all the way to the Asylum for the final battle, we were turned away on the proviso that we could come back later after we’d progressed.

Controls are responsive and everything feels well done. Any missed jumps or attacks, you can tell that it has been caused by yourself rather than the controls being off. Using the skateboard feels enjoyable, but you don’t get a great deal of use out of it as it’s only really required later on in the game. 

There’s even a skateboard!

Neversong is a fantastic little game and can be bought for £12.49 on the Xbox Store. It’s well worth the price, and takes about 4 hours to complete. There’s a New Game Plus option for after you’ve completed it, as well as additional achievements that require a second (or further) playthrough.
In the end, we decided to give Neversong the Collecting Asylum rating of 8.5/10.

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

- V x

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Asylum Reviews: Speaking Simulator [Switch].

Affable Games’ Speaking Simulator is the latest in the vast genre of simulation games. Often in these games you might find yourself working on car engines or driving tractors - in the more true to life sims - but sometimes you’ll find yourself doing something far more humorous, like speaking.

Here you play as a loosely customisable robot character (including options of your chosen “junk”), trying their damnedest to infiltrate human society whilst figuring out how to accurately control a mouth and tongue.

In order to succeed, you must carefully control your lips and tongue to speak to the humans you encounter whilst not arousing suspicion due to too many errors. The more errors you make the more overloaded your poor little robot brain becomes, leading to sparks flying. From your face. Not with the person you’re on a date with. 

The thumb sticks acts as the controls of the lips and tongue, allowing you to open/close and widen or pucker your mouth on command, as well as flop your slimy tongue around as you try desperately hard to push the flashing buttons lining the roof and base of your mouth without completely annihilating your pearly whites. 

As you progress, you gain the ability to purchase various upgrades which will enable you to smile or frown during social interactions. These add an extra layer of play, alongside additional challenges. Trying to keep your tongue in check requires a lot of brainpower here, so adding in other wacky controls makes things even more hilarious and gruelling.

We had a lot of fun with Speaking Simulator, and throughout the ten levels which span dates, doctor visits and job interviews you can feel the sheer awkwardness and shedloads of humour injected right into it. It made it a thoroughly enjoyable time and one that gave us a lot of laughs along the way. It doesn’t have a whole load of replayability unfortunately, as whilst it’s promoted as every conversation being unique due to the infinite variety of facial movements, these will mostly all leave you feeling the same the second time around. It’s reasonably priced for what you get, on the Nintendo eShop for £14.90, but is also available of Steam for those of you who prefer to play on PC.

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

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

- V x

Thanks to Affable Games for the Speaking Simulator Switch Review Code!

Saturday, 25 July 2020

Asylum Reviews: Clumsy Rush [Switch].

Recently we were sent a code for RedDeer Games’ Clumsy Rush, a frantic party game where you take control of one of 27 hippos to battle against your friends to get the crown and race to the finish line.

It’s a very simple concept, but with a huge dose of challenge added in - you see, the hippos feet are controlled independently using the trigger buttons. Holding the trigger determines how far round you move your leg, which can lead to a tonne of mistakes and a lot of competitive shouting from players. This, combined with a whole bunch of different modifiers that can be added at the start of each round, makes things so much more difficult than it first seems.

As with most games, Allan is supernaturally talented here - and I say that through gritted teeth - he just picks up a controller and he’s good at the game already. We played repeatedly, to the point of my inner child breaking free and declaring that it simply wasn’t fair that he’s this good at a game we’ve just started. He had a few slip ups, but always regained control pretty quickly whereas I would be running in tight circles, hands getting sweatier, squawking about how it is inhuman for him to be beating me 20-0 and I’m barely getting a single grab of the crown, let alone getting it across the finish line.

It’s a hilarious game, and one that provides a lot of replayability due to the short levels and wide variety of options for playing. It’s not a deep game, and doesn’t provide a lot other than what you see on the surface but it works. The kids enjoy it, and it leads to a whole lot of laughter. The art style is adorable, with lots of pastel colours and plenty of cute and funny alternate hippos to choose from, ranging from different jobs all the way to a certain bouffant-haired Donald with his red tie.

Level designs are pretty short, but jam-packed with obstacles to make your trip to the finish line even more of a challenge. Conveyor belts pushing you back, or slippy ice making it impossible to run add extra things to be aware of when you’re trying to get the crown, and depending on the active modifier, things just might get a lot harder when you find yourself turning invisible as soon as you have the crown, etc.

One thing I do think the developers really missed out on here is for more people to be able to play at once. As of now, you are limited to only two players co-op, which feels like a bit of a waste since many party games like this at least have the ability for four players. Also, the single player mode feels severely lacking as there are no AI players to take on - you just make your way to the end of the level and that’s you done.

It’s an adorable game, and one that we did have fun with, but there’s a lot more that could be added here. At the low price of only £4.99 on the Switch eShop, you can’t really complain as you do get your money’s worth.

In the end, we decided to give Clumsy Rush the Collecting Asylum rating of 6/10.

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

- V x

Thank you to RedDeer Games for the Clumsy Rush Switch Review Code!

Wednesday, 8 July 2020

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 show you the final item that Special Reserve Games recently sent to us: My Friend Pedro!

This is probably the most adventurous of the artwork done on the outer boxes of the Special Reserve Editions we’ve received recently as a lot of them have the classic black box, or in the case of Gris we have a very simple pastel, albeit game appropriate design.

For My Friend Pedro, this totally fits and just makes the box stand out amazingly well. The preorder bonus item of the squishy banana is just perfectly fitting too, and I really love it when you get proper items as bonuses as it gives you a little extra to go with the game. As much as I like DLC costumes, etc. - which tend to be the go to for many game releases nowadays when it comes to preorders - I’ll take a game related physical item as a bonus any day.

This release here is numbered and limited to just 5000 copies. I’m in two minds about how I feel about this numbering system, with the number being printed on the game case inside and just having it show through a small window on the back. In one way, it makes sense as they can then just get the boxes made up and ready without having to worry about individually printing or stamping each box with a number. But the tiny window has me worrying ever so slightly about it being a weak point for the box (particularly the small piece at the bottom) and being more prone to damage. Thankfully, aside from a slight curve in one of my Editions in this area (my Hotline Miami CE), this hasn’t been too much of an issue so I’ll hold my concerns for now.

The level of detail put into the packaging here is astounding, with gorgeous embossing throughout as well as a mix between matte and spot gloss on the artwork. 

The outer artwork on the Switch game case is phenomenal, with gold line-art weaponry serving as the background for the front, making the game logo stand out well. The reverse has some of the fairly standard art, as well as the ratings info, etc. Down at the bottom, you can see the golden edition number, which we could see through the small window on the outer box.

Within the small Instruction Booklet, as with other releases we have some artwork as well as instructional information about the world of My Friend Pedro and how it plays.

I really love the simplistic style of the inner artwork, it is so cute and still looks so good on a shelf. The gorgeous shine on the gold lines on the other side still wins in my eyes though, but this is definitely a fun option.

Also included in this release is a set of six Lenticular art cards. These look fantastic, and just like with the art cards from the Gris Edition, I can’t wait to get these framed and up on display.

Lastly, we’ve got a wee sticker sheet! Just try to tell me that these stickers aren’t the most adorable things ever.

Special Reserve as a company are absolutely killing it with all these releases and I’m super excited to see what they have in store for the future. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on their social media feeds for news, and I suggest you all do too! You can find them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as well as on their website.

Do you have any of their releases? What do you think of them?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

Thank you to Special Reserve Games for sending me this Edition of Minit!

Monday, 6 July 2020

Asylum Unboxing: Gris Special Reserve Edition [Switch].

Another of the recent deliveries from Special Reserve Games is this stunning edition of Gris. One of the things that I really like about these releases is the size. They’re absolutely gorgeous, have a physical copy of the game and they don’t take up a lot of unnecessary space on our shelves.

At just a tiny bit wider than a standard Switch game and a regular height across all of them, these look great on display with other Switch releases. We used to be fans of the whole ‘bigger is better’ idea with CEs, usually always opting for the biggest Editions available with huge, cheaply made figures/statues. But as time went on, our space got more limited and we had to tighten up our options - that and a lot of AAA titles have been massively inflating the costs of their Editions in the past few years. It used to be easy to pick up the ‘best’ tiered Edition of any AAA game for £100-150 tops. Now we’re seeing more and more releases of much less substantial games for way higher prices (I mean come on, £260 for the Spongebob game’s biggest Edition?).

Just look at this! The artwork is magnificent and the colours all look so beautiful together, and the outer box really complements the artwork of the Switch case so well.

Another thing I really like about Special Reserve’s releases is that a lot of them are numbered. You get the joy of getting to see just how many - or few - of these releases are out there in the wild. For fans that missed out the first time round, SRG are releasing an un-numbered Second Pressing for Switch come July 23rd. It’ll be an open preorder, since this release is un-numbered, so you don’t need to worry about getting in there fast. I would definitely recommend keeping an eye out for this going live if you want to jump on it. It also has slightly different artwork from the current release, which prevents people from being too annoyed about a ‘reprint’. 

On the same day they will also be doing a numbered run of PS4 copies of My Friend Pedro, which is the next game I’ll be showing off for you all here (albeit on Switch!) so be sure to check back for that :)

As with their other releases, Gris has an alternate artwork on the inside of the box which covers the full case without any of the blurb or ratings info, etc. taking up space. I actually love the cover that’s already on the outside, so even though it has the back space taken up I think I’ll leave it that way around.

Another instruction booklet with this release, again showcasing some lovely art inside. 

This Special Reserve also includes some absolutely amazing art cards. These are gorgeous and have a really beautiful watercolour look that accurately depicts the game. I really want to get these framed ASAP, so as soon as I have done so I’ll be sure to update you all on Insta :)

And lastly, down at the very bottom of the outer box we can see the logos for everyone involved in this mesmerising release: Nomada Studio, the Spanish indie developer behind Gris; Devolver Digital, the fantastically entertaining publishers; and of course, Special Reserve Games who without them we wouldn’t have this Edition!

Once again, we are thrilled to have received some truly gorgeous items from Special Reserve, and can’t wait to see everything else they bring out in future!

Do you have any Special Reserve Editions? What do you think of them?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

Thank you to Special Reserve Games for sending me this Edition of Gris!

Sunday, 5 July 2020

Asylum Unboxing: Minit Special Reserve Edition [Switch].

Special Reserve Games have been absolutely killing it lately with all of their releases. They are one of the most popular companies to release physical copies of a lot of indie titles, and it’s easy to see why they’re so popular with fans. 

We’ve just received a package from them with a few of their recent titles to review and unbox, and as always their stuff is just fantastic. This Minit release is gorgeous, and comes with an 18x24” screen printed cotton map to show off the World of Minit. 

Early adopters of Special Reserve’s Editions get the added bonus of their releases being packaged in an awesome outer box, as well as getting a sturdier collectible hardcover Instruction Booklet (in addition to the one already packaged inside the game case).

Sadly it was just the base game and Map of Minit that I received for this one, but nevertheless it is a gorgeous release. It is evident that a lot of time, effort and love goes into SRG’s products; from the packaging all the way down to the reversible artwork on the sleeve, and the extra bonus items in the game cases such as stickers, everything is put together in such a nice package. It definitely makes a change from a lot of the bog-standard cheaply thrown together CEs that you tend to get from AAA-titles nowadays.

As mentioned, the sleeve of the game case is reversible and can be flipped around if you want a different look for the games on your shelf. The alternate art is always a full wraparound design, removing all of the standard game info and ratings spiel normally found on the back. All of that information is necessary by law - I believe - so to have alternate art available as an option allows for greater creativity and design for these covers. Another cover, as a separate purchasable option, was available with grey toned art instead but this has since sold out.

The Switch release is fully sold out, but the PS4 Reserve with the alternate grey cover is still available at present, in very low quantities. It also comes with the gorgeous map, so if you’re looking to get your hands on this release, you better visit this link and get one nabbed fast.

Within the small Instruction Booklet there are, of course, instructions on how to play Minit. But there are also gorgeous tidbits of art and everything feels very high quality. Similarly, the sticker sheet that is also inside the game case has various stickers of characters from Minit and as much as I love using stickers, these ones will stay on the little backing sheet! :)

I mean look at them, they’re just adorable!

And finally we have the Map of Minit. This is my favourite part of this release as there’s just so much detail in it. It is printed on high quality cotton and just looks amazing. Definitely one to be framed and hung up on the wall, so as soon as I can get a frame suitable for it I’ll be getting this bad boy ironed and up on display. 

If you’ve ever played Minit, this map should be instantly recognisable to you and whilst I haven’t sat down and used it to guide me when playing, I imagine it would come in handy when trying to get your bearings to get as much done as possible in each 60 second run as you can.

Overall, I’m really happy with the Minit Special Reserve Edition and know that it will be a great addition to the Asylum. Minit is a fantastic game, and one that is in a league of its own when it comes to indies as no other game really follows the same format as well.

We’ve got a few more SRG titles to unbox and review over the coming days, so keep checking back for more!

What other Editions would you like to see us unbox? 
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

Thank you to Special Reserve Games for sending me this Edition of Minit!

Asylum Reviews: Neversong [Xbox One].

Atmos Games’ Neversong, formally known as Once Upon a Coma is a fantastic little title. You play as a young boy called Peet, who awakes...