Review – The Academy: The First Riddle

You join a prestigious academy with a curriculum centred around puzzles. That sounds freaking awesome if I may say so. And then you discover there’s some magical shenanigans happening, doubly awesome right? Well, it’s up to you to figure out what’s going on in The Academy: The First Riddle.


  • Real Brainteasers: The Academy presents you with a variety of single/multiple choice type puzzles, where you’re given a premise and must deduce (or outright guess) the correct answer(s). Some of them are pretty straightforward but others, especially the “extra credit” puzzles, can get incredibly complex, which is wonderful for someone who likes a little bite in his videogame puzzles.
  • Lots to Do: Every aspect of The Academy is governed by puzzles. Puzzles for the main story, puzzles from “daily” newspapers, puzzles for side-quests, optional objectives and more. There are so many things to do while playing The Academy, so many challenges to sink your teeth into. This game is overloaded with puzzles and I mean it in a good way.


  • Cardboard Cast: While you can tell the effort that went into the puzzling, the plot and characters show how barebones the writing is. Characters are a set of stereotypes and tropes without depth. There’s the photography geek, the comics geek, the bully, the music geek and the overbearing teachers. Not to mention that the protagonist trio is a direct adaptation of the protagonist trio in the Harry Potter novels, only, again, without any of the depth. It’s almost impossible to care for the plot or the characters. There’s nothing about them that feels sincere and human.
  • Uneven Puzzles: While there are indeed a great number of brainteasers, the quality of the puzzles is wildly uneven. Even by the end some incredibly hard puzzles would be followed by puzzles so simple they felt like tutorials. Worse still are the moment where the extra credit puzzles, the ones that are meant to truly test your brainpower, are easier than the main ones. So instead of a steady climb in difficulty that makes it so solving the final puzzles feels like overcoming a great challenge, you’re left slightly disappointed that the quality couldn’t hold out right up to the end.
  • One-trick Pony: The Academy’s puzzle clearly draws its inspiration from the Professor Layton series with puzzles presented in a question and answer format, like a test in school. But there are many of these puzzles where I found myself thinking “I’d love to actually do this puzzle instead of answering the question.” From puzzles about interconnecting pipes, deducting cyphers and even packing suitcases with Tetris blocks, there are so different kinds of puzzles that could have been implemented for a much more impactful and entertaining experience. Not only that, but the single style of puzzles quickly wears out its welcome. Variety in puzzles is important and The Academy completely wastes this opportunity to present and showcase some amazing interactive challenges.
  • Sequel Bait: It’s subtitled The First Riddle so it’s clearly built as part of a series. That’s not a bad thing, many other games have done so in the past. The problem is, to do that and still deliver an experience where you grip the player and keep them interested, the writing has to be on point to make the events intriguing and entertaining, and the relevant characters have to support that. And sadly, as I’ve said at length with the characters, that’s not the case with The Academy. Instead of feeling like an evolving situation, the plot feels like a disjointed set of events, each with a common theme, but nothing else. From one chapter to another, beyond the MacGuffin catalyst for the crisis, you don’t get much in the way of plot progressing or character development. So, when you get to the last chapter and the final confrontations, there’s little impact to the story and whatever tension they expected has already fizzled out. That’s not to say the plot doesn’t have the elements of a great mystery, it’s just that the pacing is terrible, the revelations are predictable and the payoff is nonexistent.


Review – Westmark Manor

The Manor stands before you, in your waking moments and in your dreams. It calls to you, it beckons you. You follow only to discover you’re now trapped within, the shadows whispering things and horrors lurking in every corner. Your only choice is to find the sigils and escape…but will you be able to, or will the darkness claim you? This is Westmark Manor.


  • Tense Atmosphere: From the moment Wesmark Manor opens you find yourself in an unknown place, with little information, a few scraps of text and an immediate awareness that darkness is the enemy and that you’re in a hostile place where your wits and a trusty lantern and matches are your only weapons. This sets a tone for the entire game where you’re constantly tense and despite there not being any enemies or jump-scares, you are at the edge of your seat at all times, after all, you don’t know what’s across that hallway, in the dark, or through that threshold. Is there a safe haven somewhere, or just another fiendish room where your sanity and resources will begin to dwindle? Westmark Manor’s writing, visual and sound design come together to create an impressively oppressive atmosphere.
  • Intriguing Plot: Westmark Manor’s plot is presented via letters and journals, speaking of the characters’ pasts and their connection to the events happening in the Manor. It’s a classic Cthulhu Mythos story, of traps and ploys but it works, especially because it’s up to you to find the links in the chain and the way out. The few cutscenes you see, which present villains and snippets of stories and the minuscule cast of characters keep the story tight and focused, delivering on the mystery that just enhances the atmosphere.
  • Fun Puzzles: To escape Westmark Manor, you must collect Sigils by solving puzzles, which range from inventory puzzles to logical ones and they’re all a joy and really force you to pay attention to your surroundings and the documents you’ve collected. Add in the environmental puzzles to overcome traps and challenges, the careful tight-rope walks across beams and the many ways you can lose or gain sanity, and you get a compelling experience that kept me coming back ever after I had quit saying “enough for now.”


  • Useless Items: One of the recurring mechanics in Westmark Manor is finding items that need to be identified. To do this you must find and use identification kits. These kits being consumables and hard to find is bad enough, but the sheer number of items you find that after identifying turn out to be completely useless, just trinkets without mechanical worth, is staggering. This is already a game where your inventory and resources are limited so adding these kinds of worthless items just feels malicious and unfair from the developers and really hampers the entertainment value of the product, as it just leads to frustration.
  • Inventory Woes: I despise inventory management, especially when it’s used to artificially inflate difficulty and Westmark Manor is guilty of this in so many ways. Not only is inventory limited but so is the storage. Items can only be stacked up to a certain number, which in my experience tended to vary between item types, before the next pickup takes up another inventory slot. Some items take up multiple ones in the horizontal or vertical, there is no way to rotate them and everything requires crafting. And worst of all, keys are single-use only. I get it for chest keys and reliquary keys, but door keys? Are you serious?
  • Crafting Nonsense: Again, everything requires crafting and recipes are hidden in books that need to be identified. Your crafting kit begins with a wet blanket equivalent of recipes, basically nothing you can actually make. Worse still is that once you actually have recipes, there are items you need to craft over and over when it doesn’t make much sense: You make the base for a skeleton key, a simple rod on which you slide on the parts of the blade in different configurations. Can you just remove the bits and add new ones? Nope, you need to make a whole new key base (the keys are single-use only, remember) and you can add the bits in the wrong order effectively wasting a key. It feels unnecessarily punishing. And let’s not get into the fact that crafting involves a little grid minigame that serves no purpose but to make you waste your time or that Westmark Manor doesn’t recognise that you’re using up items to craft, so if your inventory is full, you can’t craft, not even if consuming the items during the crafting would open up inventory spaces. Again, punishing for no reason.
  • Eldritch Buggery: By all the ancients and Old Ones, this game is buggy. I lost count of the number of times I fell down a hole and didn’t die, my character walking in the abyss, effectively making me lose all progress. The Garden puzzle is broken, a piece of furniture standing in your way and preventing passage, which is key to solving the puzzle. Hell, while playing for this review, the developers put out an update and it killed my previous save and I had a fair number of crashes where the game wouldn’t properly launch again for hours on end.


Review – Luna: The Shadow Dust

The world’s gone dark, but you can’t remember why. Now a tower stands before you, imposing yet inviting from the light behind its front door. Perhaps it would be good to come inside, find shelter…and more importantly, answers. This is Luna: The Shadow Dust.

The Good

  • Visual Spectacle: Luna the Shadow Dust is a wonder of not just visual arts, with astonishing hand-drawn environments and characters but also of visual storytelling. There is no dialogue, not single word spoken or written and yet it manages to convey its narrative and the sheer depth of the characters’ emotional journey. And it’s not just cutscenes, even the gameplay sections contribute to the storytelling. If there was ever a game that exemplified “Show, don’t tell,” it’s definitely Luna: The Shadow Dust.
  • It’s all Logic: Every room in the tower in Luna: The Shadow Dust holds a puzzle and every single one of them is entertaining as hell, and while only a handful are delightfully complex (it’s fairly well-known at this point that I love complex multi-part puzzles), none of them is trivial or feel tacked on. Best of all, they’re all logic or observation based, meaning the hints are all around you, you just have to pay attention.
  • Never had a friend like me: You begin the game controlling a single character but soon enough you find a curious little beast who becomes your inseparable companion in solving puzzles, exploring the tower and in the story itself and I have to praise Luna: The Shadow dust for getting me to care about the little thing and the relationship with the main character well before there was ever a cutscene that showed any tenderness between them. Switching between them freely, to solve puzzles by collaborating, is a genius way to get you to care about both characters.
  • Deep Hidden World: Luna deserves more than one playthrough, which is unusually for me to even consider with adventure games or any that are puzzle-heavy. After all, if you already know the solutions what’s the point of playing it again. Well, in Luna: The Shadow Dust’s case, there is a great deep lore about the world and the game’s events that I frankly just got the gist of when playing through it. I’m jumping back in to carefully pay attention to the all the visual cues and clues about the world and the narrative that starts well before the beginning of the adventure.

The Bad

  • Shortround: Luna: The Shadows Dust is not a very long game, I personally finished it in one sitting, with only the last handful of puzzles making me struggle a bit (I see you, clocktower puzzle!). I would have liked to see much more complexity near the end, some real brain-zingers, and perhaps a few more puzzles. But there is a point, about midway through the game where I couldn’t help but feel things were rushing towards the end a bit, as if the pace changed. It doesn’t ruin the story, and perhaps contributes to the tension, but I would have liked a bit more to play with.


Review – Thief of Thieves Season One

A cocky thief in training is sent by her mentor, a Master Thief on a simple heist, but when things get heated, he sends he away to Italy, to learn from one of the best and maybe, maybe, become the Thief of Thieves.

The Good

  • Unique Look: I really like comic books style cutscenes, they bring the best of that medium into the gaming world. They’re easier to make, the details are crisp and awesome and you get the chance to discover an artist you didn’t know about before. But Thief of Thieves goes a step further and wraps the in-game look & feel in the same art-style, not only having consistency between cutscene and game but also making it so the transitions between the pages and the game feel incredibly natural.
  • Detect…Thief Vision: I really like the intuition aspect of it, where a press of a button identifies things in the environment, almost like highlights on a page, this great overlay of white lines and scribbles describe people and objects. Kinda feels like what a thief would have, just this clear paper with names and such they could lay on top of some blueprints to mark important things.
  • Weird…but cool: Love the theme song, just a cool beat and the characters reciting the elements of a good heist. It’s simple, it’s weird, but catchy as all hell!

The Bad

  • Flat and Bland: God I dislike these characters. There’s no depth to them and despite the good voice acting they’re completely one-note, characters built around a single personality trait, no nuance. Celia is Cocky, Chip is Nerdy, Redmond is secretive. That’s it, that’s all you need to know.
  • In Perspective: You know, forced camera angles work really well for certain game but they’re horrible for stealth. So many times, I wanted to know what was going on beyond my current position but the game kept the same zoom levels hiding details the character would and should be capable of seeing. At point you can switch to a different angle, but the usefulness of that is limited as hell. Zoom was the key element here, zoom. And it’s not.
  • The Bad kind of Stealth: Inability to defend yourself, guards that take you out in one go, cover and darkness that only sometimes works, incredibly annoying security-bypassing minigames, Thief of Thieves just wants to make stealth, the core of its gameplay, as boring and as uninteresting as possible for you. Midway through the first couple of missions I was unimpressed going towards nodding off to sleep, and it didn’t get better.
  • Cheap Security: I could’ve rolled this one into the previous point but I wanted to focus on this a little bit more. Whoever decided that things keep moving, characters and guards can still find you and even kill you while you’re stuck in a cutscene, deserves a very special place in hell. So many times, I got through security, got to a cutscene and saw people that had nothing to do with the cutscene walk into the shot and suddenly spot me, because of course they would in that situation. It’s nightmarish, and so common and so incredibly infuriating.


Review – Deliver us the Moon

It’s the future, the world is dying and the last lifeline for humanity, the MPR system on the Moon that provides clean energy to the Earth is offline. Before time runs out, you launch into the heavens with a simple mission – Deliver us the Moon.

The Good

In Space no one can hear you Panic: One of the best things Deliver us the Moon does is create a sense of panic and urgency. The lack of environmental sound—or muted ones as the case may be in the vacuum of space, the countdown to your oxygen running out, the sharp but shallow breathing by the character, it all helps create this incredibly tense atmosphere that elevates what could simply be a walk across the lunar surface into a harrowing chase for the nearest airlock.

The Final Frontier: I’ve wondered many times what it would be like to stand on the moon, to walk in low gravity, to see and be among the stars and Deliver us the Moon brought me the closest I’ve ever been to what that experience could be like and despite the pressure to complete objectives or the need to find shelter, many a time I ran or drove across the surface with pure and perhaps even child-like glee. Deliver us the Moon brought me to the moon and it was awesome.

The First truth is, the world is dark: The world in Deliver us the Moon is a frightening future where not 50 years from now the earth will have deteriorated to the point where we either drown from rising sea levels and tsunamis or become buried in constant sandstorms that transform the world into a post-apocalyptic setting. Worse still is that without the moon, the world has reached a point where it can’t sustain itself, can’t produce the energy it needs to power our cities and technology. And despite being fiction, it’s impossible to play this game and not ask yourself “What if?” The desperate state of the world adds to the intensity of the story and the characterisation, a bit of world-building that goes a long way.

Patience, We’re only human: Deliver us the Moon is a game about saving humanity, yet as you’d expect it’s also a story about people, about those on Earth and those on the Moon, whose lives revolve around feeding a dying world and the decisions taken to perhaps secure a better future for themselves. It’s a story of passion and desire vs duty and obligation, about families, the desire to protect what one loves, to ensure hopes and dreams remain alive, but also the question: what’s more important, your desires or those of billions? I found myself engrossed in the different stories running through it.

The Gravity of the Situation: It wouldn’t be a game set in outer space without Zero-G mechanics and movement and I loved how disconcerting it is at first and how slowly you get used to it, to the point where changing your axis of movement feels as natural as sprinting across the moon’s surface. The initial section, before reaching the moon when you’re moving along space debris is a wonderful example of everything this game does right, not only in the Zero-G movement but also on every other point I’ve mentioned, audio, atmosphere, stories, etc.

The Bad

One small step for man, a short leap for players: Deliver us the Moon has enough variety in gameplay to save it from being a walking simulator (in which case it would still be a walking simulator IN SPAAAACE, which is awesome) but it makes the mistake many games make where their puzzles and challenges are too simplistic for too long, so by the time the complex challenges emerge and you’re dying to sink your teeth into the meaty part of the gameplay and story, the experience comes to an end, not with a bang but a whimper. The story ends beautifully, but I would’ve liked more in terms of the gameplay, more length, more complexity, some real challenges. Too many things have very simple solutions, very few of them force you to think and analyse the situations. The overuse of the “push heavy object to incline to break through wall,” was a severe disappointment.


Review – Devil’s Hunt

There’s a graphic novel out there, you know the one, that posits that any person can go insane if they have a sufficiently bad day. Well, Desmond Pearce had an incredibly bad day, so he ended up an enforcer for Hell, and even worse, trapped in some form of messianic role in the coming war for the End of Days! This is Devil’s Hunt

The Good

Absolutely nothing…I had to force myself to keep playing.

The Bad

COMBAT….IN SPAAAAAAAACE: By which I mean the combat has no weight whatsoever, you flail, hit with sword, punch with oversized fists and none of it feels like it has any impact. It’s a combination of animation velocity, the lack of proper impactful sounds, reactions from enemies to your attacks and every other tiny detail that sells that the attack did a damn thing. You will find none of it in Devil’s Hunt and the result is that combat never felt exciting.

UFW – Ultimate Fighting Worthlessness: The combat design for this game is atrocious, the kind of thing you need to build from the ground up again to fix. I can see the intent is building something akin to God of War or Darksiders, with active unlockable special moves aside from different combos, only there are only 2 or 3 combos per combat tree, you can’t switch between them on the fly, the dodge is a ridiculous dash that overshoots and then leaves you vulnerable for a few seconds, there is no lock on to dash around enemies, the parry works only sometimes and only against the enemies that show a visible parry prompt that is confusing as all hell how it works. Oh, and the active powers feel like they’re firing or hitting enemies with foam darts, for all the good they do. It’s even worse when you transform into your “executor form,” which only flails wildly then kills enemies and never feels powerful AT ALL. It’s laughably bad.

Hell-puppy: If the intent was making you feel like a badass Hell knight in Desmond’s shoes, then they missed the mark entirely. Exploration is about going to the right spot on the map and pressing the interaction button and then watching Desmond perform the action very slowly. With a character and a title like this, you want to feel like a badass. You don’t want to interact and then control Desmond as he balances on a beam between a gap. No, you want to run and jump across the gap then keep running, never stopping. You want to kick down doors, not watch Desmond struggle to push them open with his shoulder. Besides the fact that it’s slow and boring, and repetitive, it creates a disconnect between what you can do and what you see the character do at specific times when he uses his abilities to move, throw or destroy impossibly large things. I mean, have some consistency in portrayal, will you? And watching Desmond shimmy his way between walls for the 10th time is the opposite of what I’m looking for when playing as the “Saviour and Destroyer.”

Puppet Show: Characters are stiff and nothing, absolutely nothing about them looks human. Watching a cutscene in this game is like watching mannequins. The characters are slow, they barely touch when they’re supposed to be hugging. It’s that kind of old animation that you’d think we’d have moved on by now. Hell, I know we have. Characters show no emotion whatsoever when they speak, they don’t react, they always have these lost blank stares that become uncomfortable after a while.

Bored of Hell: I’ve seen many a depiction of hell and you know which one I’m kinda over now? The fire and brimstone kind, with added guts and rivers of blood. It’s been done, it’s been done to death and by better people. If this game wanted to stand out and do something cool, then holy hell they needed a better representation of hell. I know they’re working from a novel, but come on, part of adaptation is taking some liberties and this game could’ve used some in its depiction of hell. There are two things that you will find interesting about it and it’s character designs for Lucifer and Belial, ‘cause one looks like a supermodel and the other a member of the Russian mob. And that’s about it. Everything else is tired and boring.

Torture of a tale: And I don’t mean it’s a tortuous tale, no I mean it’s torture to witness. The plot is bad, it’s bland, it’s boring, it’s simple and predictable and I lost count of clichés within the first ten minutes. The pacing is all over the place, the narrative is amateurish and nothing about it is engaging, least of all the protagonist who goes from being a massive a-hole to, well, a massive a-hole. There is no growth, there is no learning, there is no progress. It’s a story that just goes nowhere, and worse still it’s kinda the first in what might be a series or a trilogy and it’s completely underwhelming. Here’s a pro-tip, do not follow up your “badass” intro dream sequence—that is never clear that it’s a dream—with one hour of bland real world, mundane human life stuff that doesn’t so much set the stage as bore you to the brink of madness.

Fire the Orchestra: I only ever have to say things about music in games when it’s really good or in this case when it’s atrocious, human-rights-violation bad. Every single piece of music consists of the same one or two cords on an electric guitar being played over and over, with no variation, no switch up, no rhythm, nothing. It’s the most repetitive and headache inducing music I’ve listened to in a long time and never want to hear it again. And whoever decided that the credits shouldn’t have music but creature grunts should be sent to a mental facility. That person is clearly disturbed.


This is How we Role – Aetherseed – Homecoming Arc

I know, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything. This entire year has been about pursuing other projects and not pay that much attention to the blog. Among those projects is the ongoing D&D campaign set in my own campaign setting of Aetherseed. It’s the campaign I’ve spoken of in the past–though from the past posts you might be confused since I used the name Telia, but that’s just the name for the world.

Why didn’t I use the name Aetherseed from the start? I didn’t have a name then, and it took a while for me to go through all my ideas for campaign setting names to land on one I really liked and this was it.

But that’s now what we’re here for today. No, it’s time to discuss the latest big story arc we went through in the campaign: Homecoming.

The story arc kicks off with Ando getting possessed by his ever present evil entity and convincing the party to head to the village where Ando’s entire arc began, seeking answers. Of course, things get complicated along the way, and not just for our possessed fighter.

The Homecoming arc had two major goals:

  • Escalate Ando’s storyline and bring the possessing entity into the forefront: Ando had already given consent to being possessed, so it was only a matter of time before the entity began to take steps to take over, perhaps permanently. It’s a situation that unless it advanced, changed, escalated and became actually dangerous, it would become stale and the characters’ interest in it would wane.
  • Take elements from every other character’s backstory and personal arcs and kick their butts with it, not just advancing them, but also creating fresh twists and complications for them. Kalani and Ravaleth felt this the most. Venadikt on the other hand had the least impact, because his story arc has always been a slow burner with many moving pieces.

This was our first major character arc, and one thing I wanted, if everything went well, was for Ando’s arc to be resolved, either with him dying and being taken over or with vanquishing the entity. As much as I loved roleplaying the dark being, it was nearing its expiration date. And with the party closely involved in the process it would lead to very interesting and powerful moments. I also wanted to give Ando resolution and the opportunity to be in a new character arc, to look past his, well, past and try to build something new. He’s now on a new arc where the player doesn’t know anything since there is no backstory involved, it’s all happening session to session, so it’s kept fresh and it depends on his own curiosity to advance it, which is a nice change of pace for him, but we’ll discuss that when I talk about the next story arc once we finish it.

Though honestly, the best things about this arc came from player decisions and the roll of the dice. In fact, some of the best and coolest Ando moments in the entire arc came from things I had thought about but not set in stone because they depended exclusively on dice being particularly bad. And they happened.

There was a sequence that happened in real time, we had a stopwatch and without Ando’s poor decisions and Nicki’s terrible rolling, that would never have happened and the entire arc would have taken another direction. But because it went the way it did, it created so much dramatic tension that everything was much more intense.

As for Kalani, this arc introduced Rivain, his old friend, someone Kalani left behind and who is key to what happened to our sad little Eladrin. But I can safely say that Kalani’s player, Nate, didn’t see Rivain’s attitude coming and it’s something that comes back to something I repeat almost as a mantra: Stories don’t happen in the void.

What I mean about that is that while you create a complete backstory for your character and you give them people they know and love and set a status quo for their relationships, those characters and the places they live in don’t stay static, they don’t remain that way, they don’t exist in a bubble suspended in the void. No, they’re alive and exist and have their own dreams, feelings, thoughts and relationships and those will change and they will change with time as well. Maybe some distance makes the heart grow fonder, but it can just as well create resentment, or jealousy or depression. The only way for the characters to remain believable is for them to live, even if that makes them completely different people to what’s on the background pages.

Characters mentioned in a background story or description are two things:

  • Written from the character’s point of view (most of the time), so it’s a subjective view on the characters and will be missing personality details that I, as the storyteller can extrapolate.
  • A snapshot in time. Time moves on and so do the characters.

And all of this kind of explains things for Rivain and the people Ravaleth has been looking for, especially that one Gnome with the stabby knife! In the latter’s case, her player gave me pretty vague information so I can do whatever I want with them and I’ve made sure to make it mysterious and perhaps even a bit grotesque, because I know the player will allow me to go that way.

After this story completed, I put a shiny door in front of them and they just couldn’t resist going through it. They had no reason to, no compelling need, but they still did it, and it’s one of those cases where I put things in their way but I don’t want them to take it, I want them to pursue any of the stories they already have on their plates.

But nope, they went through it and now they’re stuck in a dungeon crawl, suffering for their choice because my dungeons are not easy.

But I think we can discuss the dungeon after we’re done with the current arc, The Old Roads

This is How we Role: Aetherseed – Homecoming arc encompasses episodes 17 to 24 and you can find them all on this playlist (episode 16 acts as a rest episode between arcs)

You can also watch us play every Sunday on The Lawful Geek Twitch channel!

Review – The Sinking City

It’s time once more, the stars align, strange eons come to pass and death may even die. It began with the flood, and will end with The Sinking City.


  • By Lovecraft, For Lovecraft: The Sinking City is not just an open world investigative action/adventure/horror title, it’s also a love letter to the Lovecraftian mythos. There are elements of Lovecraftian fiction in every aspect of the city, its cases, its characters and of course, the plot itself. Streets named after important locales, avenues sharing names with important mythos characters and even advertisements for a certain medical doctor all Lovecraft fans will recognise.
  • Weird Tales: The cases and the main plot in The Sinking City are wonderfully weird, twisting and twisted. There are characters that seem closer to primates than humans, other closer to fishes (that gorgeous Innsmouth Look), sacrifices, rituals, good ideas that backfire, bad ideas that go horrendously wrong and weirdness galore. Best of all is the main character becomes rather savvy in the madness taking place around him, even if and especially because he’s also descending into insanity. By the end, when faced with the weirdness he will casually state “you’re rather normal, at least by this crazy city’s standards,” when meeting an NPC. I love this. Also, in case it needs saying, the story is gripping and fun.
  • It’s a Mad World: The Sinking City is a bad place, it’s despair-ridden, maddening and incredibly cold towards outsiders. People in the city are at their wits end, and even the help you provide in solving their cases doesn’t make their lives any easier. In fact, on learning the things you discover, their lives are more likely to take dark turns. I love this, it’s pure Lovecraftian goodness, as are the grotesque apparitions, both the spectral and the physical monstrosities you encounter.
  • Fear is the Mind Killer: As with every Mythos game, there is a sanity meter and fun things happen as it lowers. The most common are audio-visual hallucinations, visions of creatures and your own grim future—seeing yourself hang from a noose—but as it gets worse, you’ll eventually have to contend with the figments of your deranged imagination in physical ways. This was a genius decision in my opinion, having your insanity sometimes spawn new enemies that aren’t really there but can still hurt you. Best thing is that if you take the sanity medkit aka anti-psychotics, they vanish instantly.
  • Fortune favours the Bold: There are infested areas in the Sinking City, where the Wylebeasts, the monstrous creatures that came into the city with the flood, have taken over and created nests for themselves. These areas are full of loot and crafting materials but are deadly to explore. But if you’re clever, lucky, brave or all of the above, you can make a killing without getting, well, killed.
  • Sherlock meet Lovecraft: Frogware is, of course, the wonderful people behind the Sherlock Holmes series, one of my absolute favourite video game series in the world and The Sinking City inherits many elements from that series, from deduction boards to scene reconstructions. This is a game where exploring every corner in a crime scene is recommended as it may just yield the right clue. Best of all, you can set the difficulty of the detective side to expert, where there are no hints on how to proceed, truly challenging your detective instincts.
  • Find your own way: Clues, important locales, crime scenes, houses and nests are all over the city, but it’s up to you to find them. You have the map of the city and often vague addresses, meaning you gotta open the map, find the right streets and place a marker for where you think the objective might be. But after that, it’s all exploration, on foot, on boat, whichever way you can.


  • Underwater Slog: I think the intent was for the underwater segments to be tense, dangerous and uncomfortable but they’re really just boring. There’s very little to do but walk or fall or climb your way to the glowing exit and occasionally shoot some horrific fish thing in the face to stun it and leave it behind. There’s very little tension.
  • Survival Horror Syndrome: Your first encounter with the Wylebeasts will be horrible, especially when you first encounter the really big onces with multiple limbs and teleportation abilities. But as with every other survival horror game, once you’re a walking armoury, there’s very little to fear. Hell, the moment I unlocked grenades, I didn’t fear a single thing. Also, Lovecraft is more about fear of the unknown, and with so few enemy types, the unknown doesn’t last too long.
  • Elementary Watson: I find cases are too simple in The Sinking City, at least compared to previous Frogwares games. Cases are more or less a series of trips to visit locales, pick things up, maybe uncover something with your third eye and then piece together the clues in the deduction board—which more often than not is click on everything with everything. There aren’t any juicy puzzles to create new clues, like the stuff in Crimes and Punishments and The Devil’s Daughter. It’s a shame.
  • It’s not Inns-Mouth, it’s Inns-Muth: Ok this is just nit-picking and a personal gripe but the correct way of pronouncing Innsmouth is INNSMUTH, like Plymouth, Dartmouth, Portsmouth. Inn’s-Mouth is just wrong and caused me to lose more sanity than the horrors in the game.

Review – Project Nimbus

The world ended, blew itself up in war. Now, some live on floating cities while others waste away on the surface. In this post-war world, conflict is once again rearing its ugly head. This is Project Nimbus – Complete Edition.


  • Fast, Fast, Faster!: Project Nimbus is a fast-paced mecha combat game. On every given mission you’ll be flying around zipping around avoiding missile barrages and other weaponry while you try to pick off other enemies and take care of mission objectives, which might include a one on one duel with another ace pilot. The gameplay is fun from the start and the more you advance, and the more you improve, the better and more fun it becomes.
  • The Path to Ace: Project Nimbus is easy to learn but the controls and gameplay are so deep it takes a lot to master them but it’s so satisfying to progress and improve your piloting skills. At the start you’re taking tons of fire and missiles, but by the end you’re likely to be taking out entire battalions without so much as a scratch on you, just on skill alone.
  • Battles of the Goddesses: Hands down, the best moments in this game are the two one-on-one duels between the two female protagonists. These battles take the best of the game and turn the dial to eleven and force you to act far more strategically than in other circumstances.
  • Conflict on All Sides: The best thing about the Project Nimbus storyline is that much like the way the Gundam anime series do it, they tell the story from all possible angles, switching your point of view character every few missions so you learn what’s happening on the other side of the war. This in turn makes the characters much deeper and complex, and shows that it’s not a simple case of good guys vs bad guys.
  • Down to the Wire: Some of the best missions in Project Nimbus are those where you have a time limit or a health bar for something you have to protect. It turns the intensity up quite a notch and just makes the win feel that much more exciting.
  • Mecha Goodness: I love the mechas in this game. All of them. Well, not the first one you run with which is kinda boring and low-spec but once you get the prototypes and the Skull Squad convertible fighters, then things get really fun and really over the top and awesome.


  • Lock Awful: If there’s one thing in this game that threatened to ruin my fun is how finicky the lock on function can be. It’s so easy to lose your lock that it really gets silly, especially with multiple enemies or during those really fun one on one duels.
  • Bad First Impression: The first few missions don’t really sell you on Project Nimbus. You’re piloting a boring mech in some very dark environments where enemies are so far away from you they’re just red outlined bits in the distance. Personally, I’d have done away with these missions and skip ahead to the Mirai launch mission, where things really get interesting.

Review – Nelly Cootalot: Spoonbeaks Ahoy!

Someone’s kidnapped a bunch of spoonbeaks and now it’s up to Nelly Cootalot to rescue them. Why? Because a ghost pirate said so!


  • One Man, many voices: Alystair Becket-Smith, creator of Nelly Cootalot voices all male characters in the game and he does a pretty damn good job, as every character feels unique in their own way. It’s impressive really.
  • Fun & Silly: The world of Nelly Cootalot is funny, silly and full of wonderful charm. Considering this is a remaster of a very old game, it’s surprising how well the comedy holds up. It’s still as funny and charming now as it was when first created.
  • Canny Pirate: Going into Nelly Cootalot: Spoonbeaks Ahoy! I expected puzzles to be simple and just about finding the next segment of the inventory puzzle chain, but instead I found many instances of clever curve-balls thrown my way and I loved that.


  • End of Prologue: Spoonbeaks Ahoy is a fun game but a very short one, with very few locations to visit and puzzles to solve, making it feel more like a prologue to its sequel than a standalone game in the series.