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Mischief Maker mini-review roundup summer 2021 by Mischief Maker 07/23/2021, 10:14am PDT
Been a while since I did one of these, but I bought a few games recently so thoughts:

Phoenix Point: Year One

Maybe this game was in terrible shape at release, but I'm having a blast with it in its current state (including DLC season pass). It's not the bombastic cinematic AAA experience of Firaxis X-Com, it's about as dry as the original DOS games, but it also doesn't feel like a Saturday Morning cartoon the way XCOM 2 did. This is what X-Com terror from the deep SHOULD have been.

I like how the game has a presentation that resembles Firaxis X-Com for easy on-sight determination of movement ranges, but actually has the action point system of original X-Com so you can do things like move, shoot, then move again.

But more than anything else with this game, the free-aim 3D-moving-object simulation in place of fucking dice is an absolute game-changer and I can never go back to Firaxis X-Com because of it.

BPM: Bullets Per Minute

It's a roguelite movement FPS with the conceit that you and the enemies can only shoot on the up or downbeat of the music, as indicated by the crosshairs. It can be super frustrating if you're not in the right mood, but if you approach it with the idea that you're adding a freestyle percussion accompaniment through the application of violence, it makes for a truly unique experience.

My main complaint is the roguelite elements make way too much of a difference. Certain item combinations render the timing element irrelevant (minigun + unlimited ammo shield) and I would say that success in this game is only 60% skill, 40% RNG.

Also listen to samples of the music before buying (reminds me of the Black Knight 2000 pinball machine soundtrack).

WH40K Battlesector

In a world where Sanctus Reach didn't exist I'd be over the moon about this squad-sized tactics game in the style of the tabletop game. But aside from production values, everything Sanctus Reach does is bigger.

It's getting review-bombed over on GOG because they linked to the Unity engine telemetry guidelines (which you can opt-out of).

If Battlestar Galactica Deadlock is any example, this could become something special in a year or so with DLCs and rules adjustments, but right now it's in this weird nether-realm between the intimate squad tactics of Phoenix Point and the gigantic armies of Sanctus Reach and lacks the strengths or either.

Nanotale: Typing Chronicles

Sequel to Epistory, which I got in a humble bundle. It's an isometric fantasy exploration game where you do fight by pressing space to enter combat mode, then type words that appear above enemies to zap them to death.

Maybe it's just because I'm in the early-game, but there's way too much talking and not enough typing for my tastes so far. The Typing of the Dead doesn't waste your time like this.

Ancient Enemy

Spiritual sequel to Shadowhand that did way better and I can not for the life of me figure out why. It's a puzzle-quest-style battle RPG where you charge up your attacks by clearing cards out of a Pyramid-style solitaire game.

Everything about this game is inferior to Shadowhand. The gameplay is shallower, the art and story are boring, no complicated paper doll equipment system that slowly has your heirone turning into some kind of lunatic street pimp, no heaving tits in corsets.

The major gameplay change from Shadowhand is you and the opponent are no longer drawing cards from the same card pile. Only you draw cards, the enemy only performs clearly announced actions on a timer. Which means you can no longer fuck your opponent with a weak hand to gain the advantage. And the whole attack-type vs. armor-type was in Shadowhand, just not emphasized as heavily in the tutorial.

If you like Ancient Enemy I highly recommend Shadowhand, it's superior in every way.

AI War 2

I finally "get" this game although it has more to do with radical improvements to the systems and interface last spring than to any lightbulb on my part. The closest analogues to this game are Sorcerer King and Infested Planet. It's a super-streamlined RTS where you fight an asymmetrical war against an enemy who already conquered the galaxy.

Your goal is to build a fleet powerful enough to successfully invade the AI core system and destroy its final superweapon. The galaxy is strewn with goodies, but each goody you steal pisses off the AI and gives technological and economic boosts to it in response, so it's this careful balancing act where you try to find a sweet spot.

Meanwhile independent subroutines of the AI are constantly probing your defenses and the game becomes almost free-form tower defense as you try to create the perfect defensive line of towers to take out giant invading waves while your main fleet is off in the far corners of the galaxy treasure-hunting.

If you want a game that truly shows off the capacities of your multi-core CPU, it's hard to go wrong with AI War 2. Just keep in mind the real game doesn't start until the AI is a difficulty level 7.

Ticket to Earth

Battlesector was something I'd been looking forward to for months, this was something I grabbed for $5 on a whim, but damn if I'm not having more fun with this mobile-port tactics game than Battlesector.

It's a puzzle/SRPG hybrid where you do isometric turn-based combat on a grid of colored squares. The longer line of one color you can trace on the grid, the more you power up your attack. And each (of four) color charges up a corresponding special power.

Cheap, surprisingly fun, and all the DLCs are included.
Mischief Maker mini-review roundup summer 2021 by Mischief Maker 07/23/2021, 10:14am PDT
    Thanks for posting this. I'll article-fy it with links and screenshots this week by Ice Cream Jonsey 08/09/2021, 1:26pm PDT
    FINAL DRAFT (+2 extra games) by Mischief Maker 08/09/2021, 7:19pm PDT
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